Monday, February 28, 2005

Of Chicken and Fish

I have a disturbing story to tell. Well, it's disturbing to me, at least.

I went out to a restaurant for lunch today called the Black River Barn. I ordered the Chicken Parmigiana Hero, and it came out and I started eating. I thought it tasted a little bit weird, but I was hungry and didn't really mind, even though I'd had better chicken parm before. Well, I got to the end of it, and I noticed that the consistency on the last piece of chicken was a little strange. Then I noticed a little bone in my mouth. Then I smelled it, and it smelled like fish. I got the waiter, and he took it back. Lo and behold, what I had gotten was a breaded piece of grilled tilapia fish, and I just didn't know it.

Now I guess it was just so smothered in sauce that I didn't notice, but it disturbs me a little bit that I didn't understand why it tasted weird until the end. I didn't even see the consistency of it until the end because the sauce was dripping over it. But I don't like fish very much, and I never would have ordered that in the first place. It disturbs me a bit that I ate the whole thing without realizing it.

Oh well.


The President's Agenda

President Bush's Agenda: Strengthening and saving Social Security.

In the same vein, I'd like to announce that my own personal agenda includes lobbying for Bush to be able to run for a third term in 2008.

In case you didn't pick it up, I was just juxtaposing one fallacious claim with another.


Thursday, February 24, 2005

Quick one

Check out this link. Lots of interesting stuff there.


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Science and the Bush Administration

CNN's got a story about how scientists feel like they're being marginalized by the Bush Administration. Read it here.

I just don't get how politics overrides science in such fundamental ways with these nutjobs. What gives Bush and other Republican lawmakers the right to think that they know more about global warming, for example, than the scientific community, who overwhelmingly disagrees with them? What gives the Administration and their congressional cronies the right to ignore the science that they don't like?

What gives here?


Social Security, back again!

OK, so I'll write a little bit about Social Security again. It's been a while, and I've been feeling like people might think I forgot about it. Truth is that I've been reading a lot, but haven't really had that much to say on the subject.

But then I found this article on CNN talking about the GOP's strategy with dealing with the Social Security problem. They're ramping up the rhetoric, claiming a partial victory, a foothold if you will, in the reclassification of the Social Security battle. They say that their elections prove that Social Security is no longer the "third rail" of American politics. Since GOP congressmen have been elected despite advocating "personal accounts," they want to claim that this is a victory for them, and proof positive that the American people are starting to "get it," as they say.

But then down at the bottom they tear a sheet out of their strategy guide and read it verbatim, clear as anything, for everyone who's listening and paying attention to hear (though most won't, probably).

Coleman said he was attacked during his 2002 campaign for favoring privatization. "I countered it by being very clear that I supported personal accounts and opposed privatization," he said.

It is a distinction Sununu sought to make in 2002, and one Republicans have been told they will have to make successfully in 2006 if they are to be successful.

"We win if the issue is defined as personal accounts. We lose if it is defined as privatization," pollster David Winston wrote recently in a presentation for Senate Republicans.

So just what is "privatization"? Is it the word that they so vehemently oppose? Is it anything that anybody's actually proposed? How can they say that they're against it if they don't even say what it is?

And how can they say that they're against it if it's the word they themselves were using not too long ago?


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Out of Step?

This article has our very own Fearless Leader claiming that Syria is "out of step" with the rest of the Middle East, and demanding the Syria remove its troops from Lebanon immediately.

First of all, I follow the news, I think, and I don't know too much about this. Where the hell is the media (subject of another, long, disappointed post not too far in the future)?

Second, who knew that the Middle East was all "in step" in the first place? Boy, I know that Iraq and Kuwait have been doing a great job of cooperating, right? And Saudi Arabia and Iran are right on the same page in their dealings with the United States, right? And Israel is just like all the rest of them, right?

Please. Please, for the love of God, explain to me how this man is in charge of our foreign policy.



I found a story on MSNBC about torture, and why it's just not got legs anymore. Let me explain what I mean.

Gonzalez and Chertoff, the Attorney General and Homeland Security nominees, were approved without problem amid allegations of torture, or sanctioning of torture, or knowledge about torture happening.

John Kerry was sharply criticized during his campaign for accusing soldiers 34 years ago of committing atrocities such as torture.

So why is torture all of a sudden not bad anymore? If you can be politically vilified for getting upset about witnessing torture, what does that say about us? If stanch opposition to abortion is more important to Democrats to filibuster than approval of torture, then what does that say about us?

Torture is one of the basest, cruelest, most pointless acts that we can commit, and we condemn it in our enemies. It seems, though, that the same standards do not apply to us. We laud corporate whistle-blowers, or people who point out the failings and corruptions of government, but when somebody has the gall to go out and say that soldiers raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, etc., well, that's the line, isn't it?

We can seemingly admit that our business can become corrupt. We can admit that our government can become corrupt. We can admit that our enemies are bad for raping people, and for mutilating people. We can admit that private citizens are bad for committing acts of torture, such as the couple recently arrested in Utah. Why does this same accountability not extend to members of the military?

I appreciate the sacrifice made by the members of the military, on a very real level. I appreciate the stresses faced by them, and I appreciate that they do this for the good of the rest of us. I really do appreciate that. But appreciation and worship should be kept seperate. People should be judged by what they do, not who they are. Most soldiers are good guys, I think, and they do good things. But reprehensible actions should not be canceled out by being a soldier.

If we're going to be holding the rest of the world accountable and giving ourselves a pass at the same time, then who's going to hold us accountable?


Tuesday, February 15, 2005


So I'm gonna try my hand at one of these non-political posts. Strange, huh?

I spent last week, from Monday through Friday, down in Columbus, Georgia, which is right next to Fort Benning. Fort Benning is the home of the Infantry, basically, and it's enormous. 200,000 acres, so I learned. That's about 25 times the size of Picatinny, where I work, and Picatinny's huge.

So we got down there on Monday evening, and we were given a list of places that we weren't allowed to go. Places like the Traffic Light Lounge and the Boom Boom Room. Places that we wouldn't have wanted to go anyway, I'm guessing. I mean, the Boom Boom Room has got a fun name, but.....c'mon.

Tuesday we ate lunch in Alabama, which was pretty cool. The place was amazing. Run-down and dumpy, it looked as though it'd been abandoned for at least ten years. But the BBQ was amazing. Ribs, coleslaw, BBQ sandwiches, baked beans and sweet tea. Good stuff all around. That afternoon we went to the National Infantry Museum, located right there at Fort Benning, which had all sorts of displays dating from colonial days right up through the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pretty cool stuff.

Wednesday we were issued our uniforms and equipment very very early in the morning, and we drove the 40 minutes out to the middle of nowhere, otherwise known as Ware Range. We got to watch soldiers calibrating their weapons, eat MREs, and then follow a squad through the woods on a dry run of their training mission. All this while it was raining out! Awesome!

Thursday I woke up sick as a dog, but that didn't really bother me too much. It sucked, but it wasn't all that bad. We went back out to Ware Range and got to witness a live fire demonstration of the same training exercise we watched the day before. We made sure to keep our helmets on that day, I'll tell you that much. After that, we got a chance to talk with the VC (vehicle commander) of one of the Striker Armed Personnel Carriers that they were using. He even let us take a ride, which was awesome! I'll see if I can figure out later how to put some pictures up here.

We came home on Friday, and I spent the weekend miserable with sickness. But anyway, I'll write more later.



Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. I haven't been able to think of much to post. I might have to change the direction of this thang, maybe to random musings as they come to me (most likely with political bents) since the Social Security thing seems to have dried up, at least in terms of new stuff that I'd have to say about it, and the election's over.

Let me know if there's anything you'd like to see from me, or some ideas that you have for what I could blog about.


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Straight from the Horse's Mouth

So, do y'all remember the flap a few months ago about when Rumsfeld was cornered by some soldiers in Kuwait about the uparmored Humvees not being available enough? Remember how that all came out in the end? The question was discredited because a reporter helped the soldiers prepare it and get it asked, and later it was released that something like 95% of the Humvees in the field were uparmored.

Well, I was talking with some soldiers who were Iraq combat veterans this past week, and one sergeant particularly complained that the uparmored Humvees were "pieces of shit." He said that they were too slow and not maneuverable enough, and only gave the "appearance" of being safer while actually not being safer at all.



Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Mike Tyson's favorite word...

...and Bill O'Reilly's least favorite rapper.

That's the best way to describe the Heritage Foundation's Social Security Calculator.

Ludicrous (or Ludacris, if you like).

Play around with it a little bit. You can change around your retirement age, life expectancy (?!?), zip code, earnings, investments, etc. Turns out everybody can become millionaires in their old age if they were just allowed to invest that money in Blue Chip high risk stocks! I guess high risk doesn't actually mean high risk, right?

Ridiculous. Er, ludicrous, that is.


One good step

According to this article*, the Bush Administration is looking to increase benefits to the surviving families of US troops killed in action to $250K from something just above $12K. I think that there's not much dissent in the country about the government somehow compensating the families of soldiers who give their lives for their country.

Now let's make sure that we don't have to pay much anyway by bringing our troops home.


*Thanks to loyal reader Nick Harvey