First, a quick anecdote about our national military:

I have a friend who is in the National Guard. He received his EMT certification some time ago and has been working for an ambulance service in the downtime between stints at various bases for drills. Recently he was called up to take a class for EMT training during his next drill. He explained that he was already an EMT, but was told that he had to go anyway, as the course would supply him with new training and certification for a new rank. So, this weekend he shaved off his beard, trimmed his hair down to military standards, got up bright and early and drove out to his base. Once he got to the class, he mentioned that he was, in fact, an EMT already. They sent him home. That's the story. Not too exciting. I just want you to bear in mind that this sort of precision and efficiency is what our tax dollars go to support as you read the rest of this article. Thank you for your time and attention. I now return you to your regularly scheduled content already in progress.

Scaring terrorists and small children everywhere.

Just when you thought it was safe to do anything whatsoever, YOU WERE WRONG BECAUSE IT IS NEVER SAFE TO DO THINGS! DON'T YOU WATCH THE NEWS? THERE ARE TERRORISTS EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING BEHIND YOUR COUCH AND IN YOUR CHAIR, YOU TERRORIST! If there's one point that John "Geist Editor" Ashcroft and his team of winged monkeys want to hammer home, it's that everyone in America is at the most ten seconds away from being annihilated by terrorists and their assorted death rays. Ashcroft recently upgraded us to "condition orange," which means apparently means that everyone who lives in an apartment is going to die. Our own Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka found himself in grave danger, or so the official notice on his door would have him believe. Terrorists are everywhere. When you take a shower, there are terrorists waiting to stab you through the curtain. When you get in your car, there are terrorists waiting in the back seat to stick an icepick in your skull. When you sleep, there are terrorists under your bed waiting to pull you into their twisted underworld, where you'll have to hang out with Howie Mandel and play pranks on neighborhood children. Terrorists love to wait, especially if it means that they can hurt you, and you specifically. They hate you and your family on a very personal level simply because you happen to live in America. And the only thing standing between you and the slobbering hordes of terrorists who want to do nothing more than pull out all of your hairs one by one, knit a sweater out of them, and then smother you with it, is the United States Government.

If this act doesn't pass, a horde of imps will fly up the Statue of Liberty's dress... I guess.

That being said, I was browsing the always entertaining and surprisingly affordable SA forums yesterday when a particular news item caught my eye (thanks for bringing this to my attention, Tiresias). It seems that our beloved government (motto: "If you're not absolutely terrified at every single moment of every single day, the terrorists win") has been kicking around a little piece of legislation that has been affectionately dubbed the Patriot Act II. Of course, you remember the good ol' Patriot Act, which the Bush administration whipped together after 9/11 in order to humiliate, alienate, and generally piss of every Arab person within U.S. borders. The Patriot Act led to fun things like secret tribunals, arrests without explicit cause, indefinite imprisonments without trial, and a whole range of other goodies that served to basically scare the bejesus out of everyone. Having a dimwit for our President is lots of laughs until that dimwit gets a concept of just how much power he wields. Ashcroft apparently interpreted America's general fear and mistrust of him and his policies as fear of terrorists and said to himself, "Johnnyboy, things are going great! People are shitting their pants over these terrorists. But we don't have quite enough support for our needless and massively hypocritical war on Iraq yet. Better drum up some more panic." To that end, he drafted a new bill that was kept entirely secret from any major media source until the last few days.

Justice Dept. Drafts Sweeping Expansion of Anti-Terrorism Act

Let the Constitution-slashing begin! This new legislation, which is officially called the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, must have been what our founding fathers feared when they said, "Oh shit, we'd better make a system of checks and balances!" It's essentially one big "screw you" to the judicial branch and the American people. Observe:

DNA - the new turban.

Section 301-306, “Terrorist Identification Database”

This bit calls for the creation of a DNA database of all suspected terrorists on U.S. soil, including people who are possibly associated with terrorist groups, people who are possibly associated with possible terrorist groups, and most members of A.A.R.P. I'm not too sure what this would actually accomplish. The only way this could possibly be useful is for helping to identify which terrorists were behind which attacks. But since we've declared war on all terrorism, does it really matter who did what? We're going to try to blow them all up eventually, anyway. Beyond that, the DNA database is really only useful for the times that the FBI busts into a suspected terrorist's house and doesn't find anything remotely incriminating. Now they can say, "Aha! He has a penny that was once handled by Mullah Omar! He must be evil!" Thus another raid can go down as a success.

Section 312, “Appropriate Remedies with Respect to Law Enforcement Surveillance Activities”

I really love this one. This calls for the elimination of all state law enforcement consent decrees that don't directly conflict with civil rights legislation. In other words, if the Patriot Act II passes, the police will be able to spy on anyone they want. So basically black people are safe, because that would be racial profiling. However, Arab-Americans people are still a go for a healthy dose of being fucking spied on, since the original Patriot Act called for the monitoring and investigation of any "suspicious-looking" individuals. Of course, the consent decrees were originally put into action because the police abused their power to a tyrannical level. But hey, in a country where paranoia toward one's friends and neighbors is encouraged by the government, there's no way that any police would ever abuse their power to spy on anyone who isn't white, right? RIGHT?

You want to get out, fatstuff? Then you shouldn't have stolen the President's ho-ho!

Section 405, “Presumption for Pretrial Detention in Cases Involving Terrorism"

Ah, sometimes the old standards are the best. This doozy would allow the government to hold anyone they suspected of terrorist activity without bail automatically for as long as they want before any sort of trial. Now not only can they hold you without accusing you of a crime and keep you in prison without trial, but now if they do accuse you of suspected terrorist activity, there's nothing you can do about it! Yippee! Throughout the legislation, special emphasis is placed on the ability of the Justice department to designate groups as terrorist. Hmm... so they can declare your organization to be related to terrorism, then use that to lock you up without bail, then keep you there without trial. I tell you, these policies are so friendly, it's a wonder that John Ashcroft teddy bears aren't sold on every camera-monitored corner.

Section 501, “Expatriation of Terrorists”

This one starts with something that totters on the edge of actually making sense, then takes a flying leap over the precipice of stupidity and a tumble down the long staircase of abuse of power. There was formerly a rule that if someone officially declared their intentions of relinquishing their U.S. nationality in order to join a noted terrorist organization, we could expatriate their ass. Makes sense. If they don't want to be here, we don't want them to be here, either. The Patriot Act II says that an American citizen can be sent packing if they have intentions of leaving and so much as supports a group designated as terrorist. And those intentions would no longer have to be declared. Instead, the intent can be "inferred from conduct." I have to imagine that supporting a terrorist organization monetarily would be considered conduct that would fall under that category. And remember, the government gets to say which organizations are terrorists! Crap, I'd better cancel my subscription to Mad Magazine before they crack a joke about Bush and get labeled a terrorist organization, or I'll be banished from the land! I don't know what I'd do with myself if I had to live out the rest of my days in some desolate, godless hole of a country. Well, I'd probably do the same things I do now, only with a funny accent.

The most disturbing thing about the Patriot Act II is that we're just hearing about it, and unofficially, at that. If this thing passes, it will have massive consequences. There's no way to stand against it without looking like a terrorist supporter, especially if it is introduced to Congress once we've gone to war with Iraq. Well, I hate terrorists with a passion - they take all the fun out of the word "terror" - but I'm using this site as a forum to say that I think this act is a frightening step toward the sort of fascism and dictatorship that this country was founded to oppose. I generally try to avoid taking strong stances on anything other than whiny fat people and how I like my steaks, but this thing scares me. It's too Big Brother-y for my tastes, and I'm a guy who likes his Big Brother. This act is unconstitutional in the truest sense of the term. I'm saying it now, because if I say it once the act passes, I could be arrested, and my tender behind would see more visitors than a Six Flags in prison.

You cannot stop us. We have this ROM.

Hey fruitflies, Taylor "fundamental mental derangement (as schizophrenia) characterized by defective or lost contact with reality" Bell here with an all-new, in-your-face, too-hot-for-TV, excessive-use-of-hyphenated-words ROM review. Enjoy the Winter Olympics? Well, you won't anymore after you play this.

Every 2 years we have the Olympics, and they demonstrate a spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship as countries from around the world unite while athletes compete fairly and honorably in contests of strength and skill. However, I refuse to believe the Olympics are in any way a good thing, simply because they spawn some of the most godawful games I’ve ever had the pain of playing and the joy of throwing in front of moving cement trucks. But rather than review one of the more recent calamities like Sydney 2000 for the Dreamcast I decided to review one of the older examples, so that we may reveal the root of this evil and determine a solution. Personally I recommend sterilizing and/or euthanizing any game company employee who is caught saying “Hey, let’s make a game based on...” followed by the name of any recently popular movie, TV show or event. But I’m relatively young and I won’t be able to do that for at least another few years, so for now I’ll do the next best thing, and that would be warning people about the four stupid, stupid minigames they managed to pack onto one stupid, stupid NES cartridge. So enjoy this horrifying glimpse at what Caveman Games would have been like if it hadn’t been any fun whatsoever.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Yeah, I don't think so either, but it is fun. And even if you don't think so, all the cool kids are doing it, so cave in to peer pressure unless you want us to tell your girlfriend that you aren't part of the "in" crowd anymore.

– Ben "Greasnin" Platt

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