Thursday, October 27, 2011

We're kind of a big deal...

Our friend Max wrote an article about Peter and I. We were HUGE on the front page of the Huffington Post! Awesome! I've been reading this since the day it I'm a small part of it! I'm hoping someone gets some hope out of the article, even though the picture of me, miserable in BDU's on "Armor Day" is embarassing...but that's a small thing, right?

The article is here for those who want to read it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cain policy = zoomba

Have you ever seen a zoomba work? It's one of those machine vacuums. You can pre-set it so it knows basically where big pieces of furniture work, but otherwise, it rolls along blindly until it bumps into something and then turns randomly and goes off in that direction.  Eventually, everything is covered.

Watching Herman Cain develop policy outside 9-9-9 is similar. 

He doesn't know what he believes other than the broad idea he's a "conservative".  So, if it's not about his tax plan, like a zoomba, he'll just make whatever un-directed statement he wants until someone tells him it's wrong, then turn in another direction and go that way.  Eventually, like a zoomba covering the floor, Cain will develop positions he'll claim to have always held.

What do I mean?

Here's an example. What's his position on immigration? Well, first he says he'll build an electrified fence. Then, when people are upset (even the ladies on The View!), he says he was kidding. Then, when he realizes the base likes it, he says he was serious, but didn't want to offend. See? Policy set!

After that comes his statement on if the US should negotiate for hostages. He says that he would, then during the debate said that he wouldn't, and when he said he would that he was misquoted or didn't understand the question, and then says that he wouldn't...but that he would.

I'm waiting to see what the "new direction" will be on his lack of knowledge about Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan-stan question will be.  I mean, he could always claim he was joking again, that seemed to work...

Occupy Wall Street and illogical responses to it

I have not yet written fully my opinion of the Occupy Wall Street movement because I don't know enough about it. What I do know is that SOME of their demands make sense.  Other people have written more thoroughly about it than I, but the basic gist I get is that there has been an imbalance between the corporations and the individuals that needs to be righted/regulated by the government and they don't see that happening.

Watching the REACTION to OWS, on the other hand, is easy to judge. For example, look at Florida Rep. Allen West engaging in two very clear and simple logical fallacies:
guilt by association
In this fallacy, one says the following: premise C is an A. Premise B is an A. Therefore, all C are B.
In this case,
I think there is a danger in the people on Capitol Hill starting to embrace this movement, especially now that we know that the American Nazi Party and the American Communist Party are also starting to align themselves with this Occupy movement,
You see: The people are part of occupy Wall Street. Communists and Nazis are part of occupy Wall Street. Therefore, all people involved are Communists or Nazis.

I don't think there's a name for a second (and, I haven't thought of a good Venn Diagram), but this one involves equating simplicity with truth. In it, you assume that if something is simple to understand and state, it must be good and true, but if it is complex or vague, it must be false.

See here:
When you talk to somebody with the Tea Party, they can tell you what they want -- limited government that’s constitutionally mandated, fiscal responsibility, they also want to see our free market and free enterprise systems adhered to, as well as our national security
Neither of these is true. Just because some bad elements have aligned themselves w/ OWS, that does not negate the possibility that OWS has valid interests. Also, just because their demands don't fit on a bumper sticker (Taxed Enough Already) doesn't mean their demands aren't just.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

live blog late...

I came in late, but...
2052: Bachmann chimes in with..."I'm relevant!"

2043: I'm surprised at how derisively they say the word "Massachusetts" as though it's a dirty word. Can you imagine if Democrats said Alabama with a sneer instead of saying "folks" and dropping their ending "g's" to seem "one of the people"?

2040: the crowd boos Ron Paul for saying that the people in Guantanamo Bay were not terrorists, but suspected terrorists because they hadn't been convicted of anything.

2037: Bachmann: cut back on foreign aid to everyone but Israel and get reimbursed from Iraq and Libya. Um...ok.

2034: Why do we send foreign aid? Perry: we should debate that. We should defund the UN. Palestine circumvented the proper channels by asking the UN to recognize it as a state? WTF...if not the UN, what's the proper channel to be recognized as a state?

2032: In the last 6.5 years we've not had an attack on American soil, we've put more terrorists to trial and locked them away, we've killed Osama AND the American Imam. We've killed pirates and deported more people than EVER. But if you listened to the stage tonight, you'd think that we were being attacked on street corners by terrorist anchor babies...

2031: Cain: I would have a policy that we do NOT negotiate with terrorists. But, we'd have to consider the case. This guy caveats every answer with either "I was kidding", "you didn't understand my question" or "it's complicated."

2027:Newt Gingrich just called the members of the super-committee all ignoramuses. Somewhere John Kerry is rolling his eyes and reading something with more than four syllables.

2025: "Should defense be cut?" Bachmann: Iran disrespects the US. The President of Iran is a genocidal maniac and we need to stand up to Iran. Cooper: the question as about budget defense spending on the table? Bachmann: yes.

2022: Newt Gingrich: How can we entrust you with power if you don't pray?

2018: reduce LEGAL immigration commercial airs on CNN. pathetic.

2017: no mention yet of foreign policy, domestic policy or social issues. Just health care and immigration...all answered with "the economy"

2014: I could apparently win this, thirty seconds, ask me any question like, "how will you fix X?" me "X is broken! Obama hasn't fixed it...I know how to fix it. First, I'll do whatever Obama hasn't done because he didn't do it yet. Second, I'll fix the problem because I have a plan. Third, we'll fix the economy by fixing X. Obama doesn't know how, but I do!"

2013: The President doesn't have a jobs plan even now??

2011: Ron Paul points out the Banks WERE involved and everyone on stage looks at him like one normally does an eight year old doing a performance in your living room--just hoping it will end so you can go on ignoring him.

2009: Cain: Wall Street didn't implement failed economic policies?? WTF? Yes, they did! That's why the banks failed--failed economics. They failed BECAUSE the government didn't regulate. If we reinstated laws that were repealed, it would help fix it.

2008: Bachmann reaches out to moms while dressed as Chairman Mao's winter-wonderland doppelganger.

2007: The word "fundamental" is used a lot today.

2005: Perry: We sent a letter to congress asking them to "act". Santorum: You sent a letter, on that day, saying vote for the plan and there was only one in play...ha! He finally says something that makes sense.

2003: Why do people constantly say to "let the free market work" when it comes to energy? Our own history shows that when we "let the free market work" we end out with massive amounts of pollution as well as the poorest people taking the brunt of it as well as massive degradation of the environment.  Why? Because the "free market" doesn't dictate that one should do the best thing for the most, it dictates that one should do the cheapest thing for the most wealth.

2000: Yucca mountain question: Newt--look at it scientifically (ie. yes) Anderson asks, "you were for it in Congress, right?" Newt, "well...I worked with people from Nevada."

1958: immigration: something about faith and family and no-gay marriage

1958: Bachmann--does she support repealing the 14th Amendment? Something about anchor babies.

1957: disgusted looks from the audience at the very name "energy secretary"

1955: I'll fix immigration by...the economy. Yes Cain, just say "economy" and that's a good enough answer for any question.

1954: Ron Paul--see everyone as an individual. Surprisingly sound argument.

1952: Perry...if the crowd boos, don't say it again. If they boo a second time at the same line, you're not so bright. If you say it a THIRD time and they're ridiculous.

1951: Who do these people think cross the Rio Grande to get college education for free? The answer is NO ONE.

1948: Enforce English as the official united states government and a pledge to NEVER receive any benefits? What if they join the military and then the VA?

1948: Bachmann is on state...I didn't realize that. OOH! A DOUBLE walled fence! She's TWICE as strong.

1945: his answer...basically stated three times "fix the problem". 1. "close the back door and open the front" 2. Fix the government bureaucracy in DC 3. enforce the laws on the books. None of those are answers...they are all restatements of "fix the problem".

1945: Cain on the electric fence, this should be good...

1944: Perry and Mittens might fight!!!

1943: Question: Perry, how do you defend the fact Texas has the lowest rate of uninsured people in the nation? Perry's Answer: Well, we have a world class system. Me: Wha huh??

1935: Ron Paul--we'll make government smaller by passing tort reform laws...wha huh?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

one vote with baggage please...

Sometimes, you get what you don't ask for.

What do I mean? Well, if you vote for someone with baggage, and you aren't prepared for it, then what s/he does could surprise you. Take Obama, for example. Liberals voted for him because they thought he was a fierce leftist who would close Gitmo, prosecute Bush for war crimes and immediately pull us out of Iraq/Afghanistan. None of that happened (OK, technically, this is the opposite of coming with baggage...)

New example: 2010 a lot of people voted for Republicans. Most of this in a wave of anti-tax, small government fervor stoked by the Tea Party, amongst other things.  The economy was tanking and people were looking for a saviour. The Tea Party arrives and took over numerous state houses and legislatures and sent a record number of new Freshman to the US House.

What did they do?? Well, therein lies the baggage. It has NOTHING to do with the economy. Instead, we have a record number of anti-abortion laws coming into effect, voting suppression efforts aimed at college students, the elderly, minorities and other disenfranchised groups, and a multi-state nefarious plan to change the way electoral votes are split to give more weight to certain portions of the population (guess which portions those are??).

So, look out for baggage next time people. What a politician says isn't always what he or she will do. Sometimes, what he or she DOESN'T say is almost just as important in telling you what they will do as well.  So, next year, when people are yelling about the economy, remember...there ARE other issues. Those issues will still be issues after the election and think about who you're voting for and how they'll vote on those. It's important.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Soldiers are NOT the 1% being protested, so stop.

To my friends in the Army who are commenting that they are in the "1%" referred to in the "Occupy Wall Street" protests, please stop.

We are not. I know how much we all make, and we are NOT in the 1% referred to in the protests. It is a clever gimmick and slight of hand.  Not unlike Erick Erickson claiming that we're the 53% that are paying taxes (not true), this is a way of manipulating numbers. Worse, it's basically like a horrible case of using transitive property incorrectly.

The logic is this:
Protesters claim they are part of the 99% of those who own the least amount ->1% owns most->1% of Americans serve in the military = protesters are protesting the military.

It's not right and it's further politicizing the uniform in a way that does a disservice. Moreover, if you look at what we DO make, ALL Soldiers, minus a few flag Officers, ARE in the bottom 99%.  So, please friends, let's not politicize ourselves unnecessarily. We have a finite amount of respect due to our remaining above the fray and this doesn't help us. It only contributes to a feeling of entitlement and further exacerbates the civil/military divide.

Rick Perry...god bless him

Obviously I don't have to take down all the ridiculous things said at the debate last night, but this zinger by Perry particularly caught my eye ("eye" because I had to read the transcripts vs. watching it as I was stuck at work):
I'm going to be laying out over the next three days... we're going to be focused on initially the energy industry in this country and making a America again independent, and clearly the place where domestic energy needs to be produced from.
My question is...where does this convoluted speech come from? This is the same cadence and language and total lack of substance that characterizes Sara Palin's speech. "Making America...clearly the place where domestic energy needs to be produced from." WTF? I really hope that he not only loses the primary, but that Texas re-thinks their love affair with him. If I end out at UT, I'd much rather Kay Bailey or ANYONE else be Governor there.

Herman Cain question...

This is less a blog post than an email. In fact, it IS an email I wrote to a friend. I specifically wanted his take because he is African-American and had recently posted a reaction to Herman Cain's "brainwashing" comment. That being said, I thought I'd put it out there for further discussion. I have a rather varied group of friends so generally get good responses in return. it is:

I don't have much time...but I was wondering what your opinion was on the Cain interview where he was asked about his lack of participation in the civil rights movement. Was it a fair question? Is it a fair position? I feel it parallels quite nicely (or, should I say, quite poorly) the position of some gays today--let others do the work so that once the work is done you can simply step through the doorway they've opened and pursue other agendas.

This isn't to say that I feel that gays or African Americans OWE anything to the democratic party--politics is not family and once a political position is achieved (in this case equality) it is perfectly OK to say thank you and move on to another political aim while not being beholden to the party or people who achieved the first.

But, to drive home the comparison, when I look at groups like GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans, it's hard not to see them as opportunists who see more personal value in integration with the "oppressors" (in the case of Cain the white majority and in the case of LGBT individuals, the party that has made it a longtime agenda to deny them rights) over the long term than short term fighting for their own rights (and, thus, the rights of their children and others who are similarly oppressed).

Is it a valid position to take? To say that while a group is oppressed, and you are part of that group, you personally feel other issues are more important?

I ask not in an accusatory tone, but because it's something I've considered often within my own networks and did not see coming re. Cain. But it has come up now, and it cannot be ignored.


(that was longer than expected and will eventually be a blog post, I'm sure. I've also been thinking long about your progressivism post and am still formulating a response. I want to write something thoughtful without being combative, but it's difficult considering the issue. Unfortunately over text, often passion translates as anger)

Monday, October 03, 2011

I just had a horrendous thought that the following things could happen (or, ARE happening now)...

Right now, the gay rights movement is gaining in momentum. The younger generation is with us an knows where this will all end out. Obama's speech at the HRC dinner really drove home the point. While his speech just a few years ago would have been unheard of, today it seems almost passe.

There is an election next year, and the economy is important. Civil Rights are important. If, however, the right so frames the debate as to say "we focus on the economy" and shoves all their anti-gay bigotry (which is there, even if people don't want to look at it) under the rug, then they won't SEEM as anti-gay to a whole crop of independents. These voters may very well WANT to further gay civil rights, but also want to see a change (any change) in the economy and vote in the Republican right wing.

The outcome? The natural progression of civil rights stalled for another ten years. Another Supreme Court Justice (or two) placed who do not see marriage as a "right".  The reinforcement of DOMA and possibly even an attempt at amending the Constitution (that will fail) to prevent marriage equality.

I would say that a de-coupling of economic and social political aims would be good for America. But I don't believe they are separable. So I guess my hope is simply that LGBT equality isn't stalled for a decade due to short term thinking and an ill-informed electorate.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Sometimes I can be rather silly...

Funny story...I have these weird white spots that you have to put seltzen blue on to make go away. So, I was letting it soak and decided it would be a good time to trim my leg hairs. Unfortunately, the guard broke off and I shaved a bald spot onto the front of my leg.

"What to do??" I asked myself. The only option was to shave my legs! So, I started. But, much like when I tried to mow the lawn with a hand mower, it left big patches of hair all over my legs.  So, there I was, covered in Seltzen Blue, patchy haired and otherwise feeling ridiculous.

Oh, did I mention I'm getting married in six days? Yeah...I called Peter to let him know that I had mad an ass of myself and warn him about my now pre-pubescent legs.  Peter laughed at me and said that he should definitely move out here to stop me from doing anything like this anymore...he said maybe me idiocy would allow him an "exceptional family member" relocation.  We laughed...and...that's really all about that. But I thought I'd share was funny.

last week...

Last week was a big week for the military for several reasons.  Not the least of which was the retirement of Admiral Mike Mullen.  There really aren't enough good things I can say about this flag Officer or his leadership.  Obviously the most lasting change and most personal for me is his leadership on repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but there are so many more things he's done.  From that to his outspoken and unafraid ability to give advice to the Civilian leadership on things like Pakistan show a level of personal courage that every Service member should emulate.  His attempts to bridge the civil-military gap are laudable, and I hope his successor continues in that process. His farewell letter is here.

Less well known, but no less instrumental to the success of the Army is the retirement of one of the best NCO's I have ever worked with. He was not "my" NCO, nor have I worked with him long. However, his dedication through the years, and the sheer love he has for what he does was impossible to miss as soon as you met SFC Guerrieri.  From the moment I got to Fort Riley, I knew that he was one of those guys to whom you could go with any problem and he would find a solution.  It's a loss to the Army, but a well deserved retirement. While SFC G is just one man, he's representative of so many like him...

His bio is here, from the Fort Riley Flickr page:

Sergeant first class guerrieri and his wife christine have two children: Princess and ligaya.
Sergeant first class guerrieri is commended for his outstanding service to the nation, culminating with his assignment as battalion s3 operations plans nco, 97th military police battalion, united states army garrison, fort riley, kansas.
The guerrieri family will retire in junction city, kansas where he plans to enjoy more time with his family and enjoy the retired life.
Today, sergeant first class guerrieri is receiving is receiving the meritorious service medal, the department of the army certificate of retirement and a certificate of appreciation.
By order of the secretary of the army, sergeant first class bradley jay guerrieri, having qualified for retirement, is released from active duty and placed on the retired list.
His wife christine, though not in attendance, will receive the department of the army certificate of appreciation and a single red rose for her dedication to her husband and the nation.

I'll probably never see either of the two men above to thank them, but for some reason I felt the need to write about them this morning.  For those of you who aren't in the Military, you will probably never know about what kind of an impact these two, and so many like them, have had on your lives, but know that it is lasting, and that they deserve all the gratitude we can give them.