Tuesday, February 28, 2006

If You Say You Vote Democrat, Your Computer Crashes

Hooray for the MN GOP. Pawlenty's party decides spyware is the best way to ingratiate themselves to the masses. They send you a CD, you answer questions, they send it back to themselves unencrypted, the whole time never telling you that what you say is going to be transmitted. Privacy? Who cares.

Carl Eller Should Not Have Been Driving Yesterday


This man should not have been driving his car last night.

Apparently, "replaced knees" is not a valid reason to refuse a field sobriety test.

It's too bad, really, because this is going to hang on him, and I've heard such good things about his time as a chemical and drug abuse consultant for the NFL. Argh.

Why We Fight

In a new Zogby poll of the troops, there seems to be some disconnect between the reasons the administration/media/Congress gave for going to Iraq and the reason the troops believe we are there.

The administration's rationale (at least what the White H said at the war's outset) was the "disarmament of Saddam Hussein," which we must infer means getting rid of his biological and chemical weapons, as Fleischer's press conference on March 3 makes clear. Biological and chemical weapons are often referred to as Weapons of Mass Destruction. Sorry for all the links, but I don't want anyone contradicting me.

According to Zogby (with a margin of error of +/-3.3 percentage points), ninety-three percent of the troops said that "removing weapons of mass destruction is not a reason for U.S. troops being there." 68% said the real mission was the removal of Saddam Hussein. This is not entirely wrong, I suppose, since if you read Fleischer's responses we often find him talking about getting rid of Saddam, although the W.H. said for a while that exile was a possible solution. 24% said that establishing a democracy for the Arab world was a reason, 11% said oil supplies, and 6% said we needed to have long-term bases there. I am troubled by this disconnect between the administration's rationale and the troops' reasons. Perhaps the 93% understood the question as "Why are troops in Iraq now?" but that wouldn't account for the Saddam Hussein removal statistic.

The Saddam removal statistic is interesting, though, because it can account for more than just the fact that he was an aggressor. Many of the troops might take that to mean that we wanted to get him out of Iraq to take the burden of his power and ruthlessness off of the Iraqis, while others might see it more as a pre-emptive strike on an enemy.

The most troubling statistic, however, was the troops' overwhelming belief (85%) that the reason we went to Iraq was mainly "to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9-11 attacks." No reputable news source believes this, Bush himself has denied it, and the 9/11 Commission said there was no "collaborative relationship" between Iraq and al Qaeda, which makes the 77% of troops who believe that we were there to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq troubling as well.

The question I ask is this: How did so many people who were fighting over there come to believe exactly the opposite (the 93%) of what the administration said? Is it coming from the higher-ups, or is it mostly just a matter of second- and third-hand information getting spread and disseminated among a large group of people?

I'm not sure if any of you have seen the Midwest Heroes commercials on TV. They actually seem to link up pretty well with the poll, though, because al Qaeda and 9/11 are mentioned, and Saddam is alluded to, but there is never a mention of weapons of mass destruction. The focus of the commercial, though--if we are to believe the Zogby poll--is all wrong. It says we should stay the course and the soldiers want to finish the mission. The poll says otherwise, as 72 percent of troops say that the US should be out of Iraq within the year. There is a difference among different branches, predictably, as only 58% of Marines think so while 89% of reservists do. Either way, the majority believe that we should be out soon and they should be home, though it must be noted that the poll took place before the Golden Dome was destroyed, and before the current week's violence.


Update: I didn't think about it before, but I wonder if the Saddam-9/11 link was part of the survey itself. If so, I suppose some soldiers--though I don't believe 85% worth, or even 20%--could be fooled into thinking that there was a link, since the question said there was. A lot of these soldiers are overworked, and a question like that could throw them. If anyone finds the actual questions asked, please post about it in comments.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Feckless

Historians will look back - a thought experiment pundits like to deploy - and sum up the G.W. Bush years in one word: feckless. Not the first definition of the term, but the one about being not merely irresponsible, but also unforgivably blithe, and, in that blitheness, causing great harm.

Somewhere, a Voice Cries out in the Wilderness


On Thursday, March 2nd, The University of St. Thomas hosts a guitar-recital featuring fellow students. Amidst all of the pathetic bruhaha over the draconian measures that St. Thomas has erected to prevent non-married "couples" from sleeping in the same quarters on Study Abroad ventures, lilting guitar notes in the library might serve as a soothing respite. Unfortunately, the recital will be just one guitarist short. Poor a jigger of gin out for a great american, and a future member of the Monkey-Wrench Gang.

Vince Young not as Dumb as Previously Thought


The Houston Chronicle and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram are all atwitter over the "Wrong Kind of Buzz" that Vince Young received after an errant report that he scored a 6 on the Wonderlic Test. As it turns out, Young's test was scored inaccurately and he actually received a 16. While this may not make him good enough as someone who, say, takes seriously the relationship between Machiavelli, Hobbes, & the Formation of a Liberal Republicanism in England it's interesting to compare his score to other notable QB's: Eli Manning scored a 39; Bledsoe a 37; Brett Favre a 22; and Dan Marino, the non-super bowl winning quarterback who was once rescued along with Snowflake the Dolphin, scored a 16.

Now, because the PeP has conducted market research into our fan base and we've found that you, the reader, are a bunch of nitrous huffing moonbats and most likely to respond yes to the statement: "I was often towel-whipped in the boys locker room and made to cry like the sissy I really am" we feel it incumbent to provide just a quick background on the Wonderlic. The Wonderlic is basically a 50 question IQ test given to all NFL draft entrants at the NFL Draft Combine (which was just this past weekend). For the past 30 years, coaches and scouts alike have used the Wonderlic as a barometer for a player's potential ability to read and execute complex NFL schemes. Usually, quarterbacks, along with offensive linemen score highest (mean scores around 22-27). Young's initial score of 6 would have put him in an infamous category with Darren Davis (the once proud, little tyke of a running back from Iowa State) as the lowest score by any player ever. It's good to see that Vince got some vindication because he's a money athlete and a pretty cool customer...whatever that just meant.

Tenure?

How is it that academic tenure still exists? The competition for a professorship, particularly within the humanities (or really any field where there is no private sector alternative) is intense. I may be mistaken but I have routinely heard that for each professorship, depending on the field, there may be several hundred applicants. To me this indicates that academics are overpaid (I know, most aren't paid squat) and that there should be a greater personnel churn.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Odd Couple: Mohammed Cartoons and Holocaust Deniers

Has anyone noticed the juxtaposition of the free speech debate regarding the Mohammed Cartoons and the jailing of David Irving, Holocaust Denier Extraordinaiire? A tad bit hypocritical I suppose. I have always found the concept of hate speech laws more repugnant than the restricted speech itself.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Pied, Among Others, Better Listen Up


Last weekend I received a drunk phone call from PiedPiper's fallopian tubes. I didn't call him back. Yesterday, on the front page of the MNDaily I found this little article about a website that allows people to post actual phone messages they received from their drunken friends. I might just do that. [MNDaily]

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Today's NYT op-ed page

Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar weigh in on Kobe Bryant's 81 point game in the New York Times. Robertson proves the better writer and more insightful commentator. And what the f*&$ is Kareem doing these days writing about the 761st Tank Battalion??

"Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and a 19-time All-Star, is the author, most recently, of "Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, World War II's Forgotten Heroes."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Pie-Eyed Poll

Would you rather go hunting with Dick Cheney or driving with Ted Kennedy? I really think this one is a toss-up.

The Men From Powerline Would Even Drink Katherine Kersten's Bathwater


While eating a hearty sandwich comprised of Sunday's leftover Manwich, I kruised over to Powerline yesterday and discovered that Scott L. Johnson (he, not of the nickname "hindrocket") wrote a gushing ode to Katherine Kersten, the Star Tribune's resident right-wing kolumnist, for the National Review Online. Loyal readers are well-aware that she isn't a house favorite. In fact, we wasted almost two entire months covering her every remove. [Kersten's Kloset]

The Bearded Matriarch: Redux


Consider this the flaming bag of dogshit that we used to leave on our 10th grade Biology teacher's doorstep...knock, knock! El Matriarch con Beard has once again forced himself into our collective unconscious as he may or may not have ended his Lord and Bondsman relationship to the quasi-pregnant Katie Holmes. The PeP, almost four months ago, was wracked by the landfall of Hurricane Bearded Matriarch and we're still picking up the pieces.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Dick Cheney Does Not Kill Bird Dead


This one came through the wire Saturday evening but apparently VP Dick Cheney blasted prominent Austin, TX lawyer Harry Whittington in the face with a shotgun shell as the two were out hunting quail on Saturday. He didn't die. Whittington, we're also aware, is the presiding officer of the Texas state Funeral Service Commission--a position he's held since 1999. We should point out that Whittington was forced to pay $55,000 to a whistleblower who alleged that he and his fellow commisioners allowed embalmers to inject dead people with formaldehyde and other sundry chemicals without proper license. Jesus.
  • "Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter" [NYT]
  • Give Harry a call and wish him a speedy recovery
    • Business: (512) 476-5313
    • Home: (512) 419-1950
  • Or send him a get well card
    • 3606 Mount Bonnell Rd; Austin, TX. 78731
  • Hell, why not order some formaldehyde yourself from a completely unreliable source in Ghana and put it in your get well card? [tradekey]

Friday, February 10, 2006

Frivolous Post

I was searching over at Craigslist Minneapolis and happened upon a person selling her CD collection. I say her because the person who formerly owned the collection purchased Tracy Chapman AND Paula Cole. And not just the Paula Cole with "Where have all the cowboys gone?" on it. Two Paula Cole albums.

Going down the list it is a veritable cornucopia of crappy 90s music. Tubthumper? Seriously, you bought Chumbawumba? When you realized it was mostly Brit Anarchist music, did it get relegated to the back pages of your CD folder? You buy not one, but two Best of Aerosmith albums?

And yet there is Tom Waits, sitting down near bottom of the alphabetized list. You're getting rid of Alice? His crazy soundtrack for a German version of Alice in Wonderland? And Mule Variations? Hell of an album. Why get rid of these, when you so obviously need his gravelly voice? (A voice that has caused more than one million-dollar lawsuit for copyright infringement, as well as infringement of his "moral rights")

Please, girl-who-once-loved-The Spin Doctors-and-Seal, don't let Tom Waits slip away.

Starbucks's Frankenstein Coffee and Customers

Starbucks has evolved its own enemy: its customers. Accustomed to the ability to customize their drinks, Starbucks customers made Chantico a no-go:

"Described as "a drinkable dessert," Chantico resembled the thick, sweet hot chocolate found in European cafes but was only available without any variations in a 6-ounce size. In the end, that limitation irked customers who are used to dictating not only the size of their lattes and cappuccinos, but also whether they want regular or decaf coffee, non-fat, whole or soy milk, sugar-free or regular flavor shots, and even extras like whipped cream and caramel."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Remembering the Beat Generation

The saying "turn on, tune in, and drop out," interpreted as an injunction not to reform but to drop out of society and seek enlightenment via psychedelic drugs, is credited to Timothy Leary.
But in the documentary on the Beat Generation called The Source, a man is shown saying the following: "The ancient goals which we follow can be defined in modern terms in the metaphors of the present as turn on, tune in, and drop out." Drugs necessary?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Jack Wants To Go To Washington

It will be announced today at an 11 o'clock press conference that Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer will be challenging Rep. Martin Sabo for the democratic nomination for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District.

Jack is an Associate Professor of Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St. Thomas and on a personal note I have worked with Jack and he is brilliant.

I doubt he will get the nomination but hopefully he will at least make the precinct caucuses in Minneapolis a little more interesting. Here is a link to his campaign website.

Monday, February 06, 2006

CNN Remembered as "Fox News"

King remembered as 'the queen'

Thousands of mourners filed past the casket of Coretta Scott King on Monday, paying their respects to the "first lady of the civil rights movement" at the historic church where her husband shared his dream for racial equality in the 1960s. At least 1,000 people filled the church's newer facility for a musical tribute. Oprah Winfrey said: "For me, she embodied royalty. She was the queen. You knew she was a force."

FULL STORY | THE CNN WIRE

Gallery: A life on the front lines

Somebody run over to CNN Headquarters, give Von Wolfenblitzer and his minions a stiff kick in the ass, and tell them to restore some journalistic integrity. They know no shame after coming up with that headline.

Civil Liberties Are Over Rated Anyways

I have been listening to Alberto Gonzales testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee today and I know I haven’t posted anything on this so I will throw my two cents in. After researching the administrations rationale and legal justification for the domestic spying program, or whatever fear invoking terrorist stopping title they are calling the program this week, as well as outside legal analysis of the legality and effectiveness of the program I have come to one conclusion. For lack of a better phrase the administration is FULL OF SHIT.

Now the administration has come out with many different lines of reasoning and rational for why this program is necessary as well as reasons why authorizing the program could only be done through executive order without the authorization of congress. I don’t really know where to start so I will just look at comments on certain lines of reasoning as they pop into my head.

As my illustrious colleague, Xtra, has pointed out one of the administrations reasons for the program is that 72 hours is not a long enough time period to seek a warrant and still be effective in hunting and tracking terrorist activities. This idea that 72 hours is not enough time is comical to me considering it was the president who told Congress to change the time limit to 72 hours in the PATRIOT Act. Now I understand that Washington is just one big slow bureaucracy, I do not doubt this, but from my research I have found that the FISA court is actually rather efficient. I don’t remember which article I read this in, so if I miss quote these statistics I apologize, but I believe that over the past four years or so there have been over 20,000 requests for warrants from the FISA court and only four or five of these requests have been denied. Further I believe I read somewhere that the longest it has taken to receive a judge’s approval for a warrant through the FISA court was 20 hours. Also if we are to believe the administrations reasoning then one would think that the president would welcome any legislation that would make the process of obtaining warrants easier. Yet in 2002 the president and the justice department rejected any need for legislation proposed by Sen. Mike DeWine that would make the process of obtaining warrants easier. So to me it appears that the administration has contradicted itself in regards to this reasoning that the process is too slow and cumbersome.

Another line the administration has used to justify this program is that (I am paraphrasing here), if this program was in place before 9/11 then 9/11 could have been prevented and that the current domestic spying program has helped stop potential terrorist attacks since 9/11. The administration has consistently reiterated that the wire taps only relate to communication between Americans and terrorists abroad. I approach these assertions with a great amount of skepticism considering that the administration has yet to actually release any details concerning the program to demonstrate that they were only targeting terrorists abroad. Furthermore it has been reported by the New York Times that according to FBI agents, whose job is to follow up and investigate any information received from the NSA, stated that virtually all of the information received were dead ends and forced the FBI to waste valuable resources following up on these dead ends. It was also reported by the Washington Post today that according to individuals familiar with the program that “Fewer than 10 U.S. citizens or residents a year, according to an authoritative account, have aroused enough suspicion during warrantless eavesdropping to justify interception of their domestic calls.” So the president and members of his administration consistently reiterate the importance of the program and its effectiveness, while those who actually carry out the program say it’s ineffective. Again this leaves me feeling rather skeptical of the administration.

Another issue is the general legality of the program. The president stated in a press conference on January 26 that “the FISA law was written in 1978. We're having this discussion in 2006. It's a different world. And FISA is still an important tool. It's an important tool. And we still use that tool. But also -- and we -- look -- I said, look, is it possible to conduct this program under the old law? And people said, it doesn't work in order to be able to do the job we expect us to do.” I realize that according to the president FISA is out of date in handling the threat of terrorism, and if he thinks that is the case then I would suggest he go to Congress with his concerns and receive the tools necessary to combat terrorism. I am actually pretty sure this is what he did when Congress passed the PATRIOT Act, but to simply circumvent the law in order to achieve this goal of protecting Americans is simply unacceptable. Now I am by no means a legal expert, so if any lawyers or law students out there would like to add to this please do, but it is my understanding that once a law is on the books it continues to be a law that must be followed until the law is updated or expires, I think that is what our system of laws that govern our country are based on. So even if the president feels that a certain law is out of date, I am rather sure that he (like every other citizen) must follow the law. This seems rather basic to me but maybe I am missing something.

Basically what this all comes down to is whether or not America is willing to simply trust the president and his administration concerning issues of civil liberties and the protection of them, I for one am in the majority of Americans who do not think that the president is being honest and straightforward with the American public. After all the lies from the Bush administration, i.e. the lead up for the war against Iraq, Valerie Plame, and what ever else you want to throw in here, I find it very difficult to simply trust the president, especially considering the fact that the NSA has in the past spied on anti-war Quakers in the United States and that both Rumsfeld and Cheney have wanted the president to be able to spy on American citizens without warrants for the past 30 years. I think there is much more to this program that is not being told to us, and I have a sneaking suspicion that there are many aspects of this program that are illegal.

Those Crazy Danes

One thing to keep in mind about the fall-out from the cartoon riots/embassy burnings is that the cartoon, which portrayed mohammed with a bomb in the place of his head/cranium is a taboo in of itself. Islam forbids any visual portrayals of the prophet mohammed. This not to say that those people that set the Danish embassy on fire aren't complete and total moonbats.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

72 hours

In the wake of the revelation of about the NSA wiretapping story, most of the discussions have focused on whether or not the President has overstepped the limits of the law. And obviously, this is the core issue. But one of the things that irritates me about this discussion is this notion that 72 hours is akin to an eternity. The subtext is: gosh, three days is a long time just to get somebody to say "OK". 72 hours in government is the blink of an eye. The government is a lumbering morass. Public bueauracracies tend to be, some less so than others, but nonetheless. This is largely because they cannot be purely concerned with efficiency. Public organizations pick winners and losers every day, thus efficiency as a primary organizational goal, is insufficient. As a result, 72 hours, what may seem like a fair amount of time is not.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Teflon Tim and the Mystery of Marconi's Invention

MPR has a nice little article on the conflict of interest/just plain bad form of the Best Governor Currently Residing in Minnesota. It seems that Pawlenty still holds his radio show every Friday morning, same as he's been doing since he took office. Problem is--according to his opponents--that he's a candidate in an election year and he's getting a free hour to shoot the breeze with his potential voters while they're forced to hoof it from door-to-door in Uptown to get some face time with the locals. Do the locals ever invite them in for soup and biscuits? No, never.

Now, as the article points out, Tim hasn't declared his candidacy, and thus is legally okay. He doesn't need to give up the show--or at least provide an extra hour for the whole "equal time" thing--until he officially enters the race. From a legal standpoint, I suppose, Tim's ass is covered. But ethically? It's strange, but while you'd think that ethics and the law would go hand in hand, it's often not the case. Ethically, Tim's treading on some thin ice. Getting a free propaganda hour every Friday while Kelly Doran has to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars whiting-out "For Senate" and plastering "For Governor" over his "Kelly Doran for Senate" signs is hardly fair.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Save the Loppet, Marley, and Mexican Workers...all in one week.

We're having a hard time coming up with a reasonable recap of the week that was, so we'll just bring you some snippets of good things to come as global warming endangers our last remaining polar ice caps.

  • Will The Teal Machine, against all odds, save The Loppet from a second year of complete and utter failure? [Strib]
  • Dr. Evil's son spotted at Bellanotte! [Strib]
  • Ames High girls basketball is back in the CIML race after edging Valley [amestrib]
  • Bob Marley remembered at The Cabooze this weekend. [citypages]
  • Wetterling, err.....The Loch Ness Monster, has decided to run for Congress in the 6th Congressional District. No comment at this time. [pipress]
  • Cheap Mexican workers will now throw your bags carelessly into the belly of Northwest airplanes. [pipress]

Thursday, February 02, 2006

"Addicted to Ferin Oil"

This part of the State of the Union (SOTU) was truly assinine. Oil is traded on global energy markets, all you need to know is that oil is black and money is green. If the United States were to buy oil exclusively from Russia or Norway or anywhere other than the Middle East it would have no impact on oil prices. Ultimately that which would have an impact on oil prices is reduced consumption. Drastically reduced. You can address that question either by focusing on increasing other energy supplies or reducing demand for oil consumption. However, the logical favorite for increasing supply, Nuclear Energy, is, well, radioactive. Discouraging consumption of oil through a Gas Tax, is even less likely. Although, this would be a fairly sensible tax.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Indefatigable Spirit of Cindy Sheehan


We envision Hell on Earth as something between sitting naked on Jack Abramoff's uncooked bratwurst and reading The Sheehan's post-tazer missive on Michael Moore's blog. Well, we bypassed the bratwurst and went straight to hell this morning. Here are some choice excerpts:

  • The Penthouse Letters excerpt: "I had just sat down and I was warm from climbing 3 flights of stairs back up from the bathroom so I unzipped my jacket. I turned to the right to take my left arm out, when the same officer saw my shirt and [...] ran over to me, hauled me out of my seat and roughly (with my hands behind my back) shoved me up the stairs. I said something like, "I'm going, do you have to be so rough?"

  • Letters from a Birmingham Jail excerpt: "I don't want to live in a country that prohibits any person, whether he/she has paid the ultimate price for that country, from wearing, saying, writing, or telephoning any negative statements about the government. That's why I am going to take my freedoms and liberties back. That's why I am not going to let Bushco take anything else away from me...or you. [...] Four hours and 2 jails after I was arrested, I was let out. Again, I am so upset and sore it is hard to think straight."

  • The future interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show excerpt: "I am so appreciative of the couple of hundred protesters who came to the jail while I was locked up to show their support....we have so much potential for good...there is so much good in so many people."

If I wasn't stuck at school writing some blasted report on the impacts of the Hiawatha LRT I'd be at home liveblogging Von Wolfenblitzer's take on the blessed affair during The Situation Room. Sigh, dear readers...

Sheehan's post-tazer reflection. [Michael Moore]
The Washington Post's report. [WashPo]
Our Brokeback buddies from CNN [CNN]
And that moonbat over at The Blazer Blog [blazerblog]