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Friday, October 28

Halloween Hijinks

I think Stephen Colbert's right about this one:

One commenter pointed out that no one was demanding "Braaaaiiinnsss" over in Judea back in the day.

But, nowadays, they do ask for brains. Just go to any Christian church - they ask you to check it at the door. Makes things easier, you know.

Thursday, October 27

A Rebuttal (and Rant)

Back on October 24th, a gentleman wrote an editorial letter to a local newspaper. In that letter, he suggested that the New York City Police Department use water cannons to "cut loose" on the OWS protesters in Zucotti Park. He added that it might be salutary to wet down the protester's camping gear along with the occupants.

I'm certain that he was probably applauding the police action in Oakland, California several nights ago. One of the park occupants there, an Iraq War veteran, was hospitalized in critical condition after being struck in the forehead by a police projectile. He has since been upgraded to fair condition. That should teach him, huh?

I would like to appeal to Mr. Jones, the writer of the aforementioned letter, that the Oakland PD didn't go far enough. Police departments have automatic weapons now - maybe he'd much rather see the police start shooting until all of the protesters are dead. Men, women and children, the old and young, healthy and infirm - all dead.

That'll teach them a lesson, will it not?

In fact, Mr. Jones, it will send a harsh but necessary lesson to all Americans, and that lesson is: Keep your head down, don't dissent, obey, stay in line, don't make waves, don't rock the boat, you can't fight The Man, dissent is anti-American, disagreeing with the wealthy is treason.

Distilled, Mr. Jones, the lesson you want to impart is Americans are slaves and should keep their mouths shut and know their place.

And it'll teach a lesson to the next person who dares raise their head in this democracy and has the unbridled temerity to ask, "Isn't there some way to make things better?"

Sunday, October 23

This Way to the Egress

The war in Iraq was over.

George W Bush said so, under a huge banner that read "Mission Accomplished."

Of course, he was wrong, as he'd been so wrong on so many things. The war in Iraq - touted as a neat, fast military adventure that would be relatively bloodless and paid for by the Iraqis themselves out of their oil revenue - has cost us over 4400 American lives and went a long way to crippling our economy.

Last week, with combat operations halted, we still had 45,000 troops in Iraq.

We were negotiating with the government there over a Status Of Forces Agreement, or SOFA. There were a few sticking points, notably how many troops will remain behind to help train the Iraqi Army.

Those talks foundered last week, and President Obama is calling the troops home.

Why did the talks cave in?

Well, the nice comfy SOFA the US was asking for included a clause granting immunity from prosecution for US troops stationed there. We've had similar clauses in other countries, but in this case Iraqi PM al-Maliki's guys put their foot down. To be fair to the Iraqis, I'd put my foot down as well.

What we'll be left with in Iraq after the last soldier, sailor, Marine and airman leaves is a couple hundred troops to safeguard our Brobdingnagian ziggurat of an Embassy - oh, and about 5,000 'contractors.'

For 'contractors,' read 'mercenaries in the pay of the US State Department.'

But we must rejoice.

The war in Iraq is (finally!) over.

Who won?

Iran, of course.

And what kind of welcome will our troops face when they come home?

I'm SO glad you asked!

Unemployment is still high, thanks to the economy that was crippled in part thanks to financing two wars with borrowed money. Lawmakers are considering cutting veteran's benefits -

Wait! What?

Yes, you heard me. Lawmakers are considering cutting veteran's benefits. For a Congress that has fetishized the military since 9/11 (HE SAID 9/11! EVERYBODY DRINK!) this move is particularly odious. 53,000 Americans were injured physically, and many more were doubtless injured mentally by what they've had to endure.

Once again, we'll have a Lost Generation, but they won't be talking about Vietnam. They'll be talking about Iraq.

Thursday, October 20


Al-Jazeera is reporting that Muammar Qaddafi is dead.

The report, given to al-Jazeera by a military commander of Libya's National Transitional Council, states that Qaddafi died after wounds he sustained in his capture as the last regime stronghold of Sirte fell to the NTC forces.

NATO and the US State Department are trying to confirm it.

Wednesday, October 19

Restaurant Review

Yesterday was my birthday (yeah, yeah, I know - yay me) and in honor of making it fifty years without serious mishaps I decided to go celebrate. Being a contrary sort, I treated my immediate family to dinner.

I chose the Bosphorus Turkish Kitchen, in Lakeland on South Kentucky Avenue.

There were two Turkish restaurants in Lakeland; one of them, the Istanbul, has gone bust. I was resolved to try out the Bosphorus before anything happened to it as well.

The place is small and cozy, and run by a single family. The cook, an older man, came out from the kitchen to welcome us and help his son get us seated.

We started with appetizers: Lavas, hummus, and fried feta cheese rolls. Lavas is bread, made fresh on the premises and cooked when you order it. It's topped with sesame seeds and a drizzle of butter, and came to us piping hot from the oven and puffed up high. You're supposed to tear it up, and the dough is soft, sweet and chewy. The hummus was very tasty, flavored with garlic and olive oil, and the bread only got better as you dipped it in the chickpea spread. The feta cheese rolls are the staff's answer to mozzarella rolls - seasoned feta, wrapped in phyllo and fried. Tasty.

Now time for the main course!

I ordered the Special Chicken Adana for $14.99. What I got was wonderful - chopped chicken mixed with spices and cheese, cooked on a skewer and served on a bed of rice, with a green salad sharing the plate with it. The dressing on the salad was tasty, but the chicken! The chicken was perfectly seasoned and delicious.

My brother had the lamb Adana Kebab. The lamb, prepared pretty much the same way as the chicken, had a nice spicy kick to it (we swapped a bite each of our entrees). My mother had the Iskender Kebab, a nice combination platter that featured chicken and lamb doner (a mixture of lamb and spices, shaved off a rotating mass as it roasts).

Absolutely delicious.

Dessert consisted of one order of Kunefe, shared between me and my brother. Kunefe is phyllo, shredded very fine and baked with unsalted cheese, then topped with ground pistachios and sweet syrup. Very tasty and rich.

Drinks? I had a glass of Yakut Kavaklidere, a full-bodied red with a bit of oak to it and a solid finish. It made an excellent counterpoint to the chicken. Dessert was served with Turkish coffee, which came in a small cup and lived up to the old proverb that coffee must be "black as night, hot as hell and sweet as love."

The verdict?

I give the Bosphorus Turkish Kitchen four stars. The staff are attentive and friendly, the setting is clean, and the food is well worth the trip and reasonably priced (the most expensive single item is the Mixed Grill, at $19.99). Parking may require a bit of a walk, but you'll need a bit of exercise after dinner anyway.

Check the place out when you're in Lakeland!

I'm Waiting ...

... to see when Mitt Romney finally gets fed up with Rick Perry and draws the straight razor I know he's hiding in his sock.

Yes, I believe that the Mormon former Governor of Massachusetts is capable of cutting a bitch, especially an uncouth blowhard like Rick "I Balance My State Budget using Federal Money" Perry. Based on his expression during the "True Housewives of Beverly Hills"-style circle jerk that passed for a debate last night, it won't be too much longer.

Now, what else did I take away from that gabfest?

1. Herman Cain has literally no idea what he's talking about. He started using an apples and oranges analogy when describing his Inverse Number of the Beast Tax Plan, but he can't dodge the simple fact that not only will you and I be paying his taxes (which, he concedes, may rise) but also the state and local imposts (which can also rise).

2. Michele Bachmann's getting even farther into The Crazy.

3. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich should not have been up there on that stage.

4. Ron Paul stepped over the line by bringing up Ronald Reagan's actual record, and not parroting the sugar coated and well-glossed-over standard GOP boilerplate about Saint Ronnie. What caused the pin-drop silence in the room was an airing of Cain's earlier comments in which he stated that he would consider negotiating a swap with al Qaeda in order to free an American soldier taken hostage (as Israel did with Hamas to free Gilad Sharit). Score one for Paul, although his stands on almost everything else shows that he'll never make President.

5. The final thing I took away from this sorry spectacle is that it desperately needed topless chorus girls to distract the audience away from these rubes.

I look forward to the first GOP primaries - which, based on their current internecine strife, will probably start next month.

Sunday, October 16

Did You Know?

Did you know that the British Secretary of State for Defense, Liam Fox, resigned earlier this week? While it's not exactly my strong point, this attracts my attention for the strange connection between this guy, the UK Conservative Party, and various neocon and right-wing elements here in the US.

Did you know that we've sent troops to central Africa, to help local troops there find and defeat the head of the fanatic Lord's Resistance Army?

Did you know that Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Moron) has suddenly decided that the Occupy Wall Street protesters are not an armed mob intent on toppling the established order?

Did you know that Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax proposal might have been cribbed from a computer game - and in any event, why aren't the religious kooks in this country figuring out that 9-9-9 is 6-6-6 upside down?

Did you know that Cain's money comes, in part, from the Koch Brothers?

Did you know that an undersea volcano erupted off the coast of the Canary Islands?

The more you know ...

Saturday, October 15

The Future of Armored Warfare

What with a wave of fiscal austerity sweeping the world in the wake of the economic crisis, some nations are deciding to economize.

Case in point, the German Bundeswehr's SmartPanzer:

Or the French Army's Vespa TAP-M20:

Wednesday, October 5

Pity Party!

It's a bad time to be a Modern Republican.*

You have a field of political candidates that make the famous 'Seven Dwarfs' look like real balls of fire, and every time they open their gaping pieholes you just want to cringe in anticipation at what might come out.

For example:

Michele Bachmann actually blaming the Obama Administration for the Arab Spring uprisings that have toppled ruthless dictators in the name of democratic reforms, then following it up with some kind of unhinged screed about the terrorist group Hamas stationing missiles in Cuba.

Herman Cain ragging on Rick Perry for the quite obviously racist name of a hunting ranch, then taking the breathtaking stance that African-Americans have been "brainwashed by the liberal plantation" (whatever the hell that means). He then blamed the unemployed poor for being unemployed and poor.

See what I mean?


But through it all, the Modern Republicans* hoped. Somewhere, somewhere, they reasoned with ever-growing desperation, there had to be The One. The One who could beat Obama, The One who could defeat the bad economy with a casual flick of his brawny wrist, The One who oozed charisma from every pore and who would make the world safe for the Koch Brothers.

They thought they had found The One, in Chris Christie, the fin-de-siecle William Howard Taft lookalike who is the incumbent Governor of New Jersey. Much to their disappointment, Christie said that 2012 "wasn't his time."

Of course, being Governor of New Jersey is a little bit like being Governor of Louisiana - you have to be nearly as crooked as a screwworm in order to get that high. I'm originally from the Garden State, and say "a little bit" as the government in Trenton and the counties is corrupt, but still gets things done by and large.

That left only The One from the last go-around. The Magilla from Wasilla. The Grizzly Mom. The Maverick. The Rogue.

Sarah Palin.

It's greatly to her credit that The Half-Term Governor managed to keep her name out there for so very long, milking her bus tours and book deals and TV shows for all they were worth in order to subsidize her and her family. Roger Ailes of FOX went almost suicidally honest when he declared earlier this week that he hired Palin because she was "hot" and could draw in viewers.

(I hope he meant "hot" as in popular, as she's not very attractive.)

To a fanfare of kazoos and bongos, Sarah Palin announced today that she will not be running for President.

And you could hear the groans come up from the gaping maws of the Modern Republicans* as The Grifter became The Quitter once again. Her lust for money, it seems, has managed to outweigh her Potomac Jones - practically the only thing that can serve as an antidote to that most potent lure.

As it stands now, the best chance the Modern Republicans* have is Mitt Romney. The Romneybot, The Mittens, The Dogboy.


*I am not one.