Monday, July 29, 2013

Episode 2.3: Willie Pete

While Operation Genoa is, as a whole, fictional, the show is doing what it can to make it seem like a story that someone might chase. The part of the story I'd like to address this week is what chemical agent was used during Genoa. The description in the show of people being burned is not consistent with sarin. It is, however, possibly consistent with white phosphorus. Here I will summarize the effects of each chemical, but for a better description of sarin click here and pay special attention to the Health Effects section, and for more on white phosphorus click this.  Sarin does not cause burns or boils on the skin; it's a nerve agent. It is very deadly but burning isn't one of its properties. White phosphorus, on the other hand, has a propensity to burn anything flammable within range. Charlie Skinner revealing that using white phosphorus improperly may be enough for a war crime will likely be important later.

On a separate, but related, issue, the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention was accurately represented in the show. The United States had not as of 2011, and still has not, disposed of all chemical weapons. The idea that the United States still has/had sarin is believable, but I could not find anything concrete to support or refute the claim. This seems like a fair and logical extrapolation.

Will McAvoy's opening comments regarding the audience booing of a gay United States soldier are a little more sweeping than they should have been. The booing of a member of our armed forces is undeniably deplorable. That's where the commentary should have stayed. Throwing all the members of the Republican primary debate under the bus for being complicit in this is not even remotely fair. By the time Will would have been making his commentary ALL of the candidates had made some statement about the booing being, at the very least, "unfortunate." Also, because of the format of this debate, only Rick Santorum was allowed to respond to the question itself. I'll let you be the judge of his response. Some on that stage that night, including Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, had been vocal about their support of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. But yes, one of the candidates could have chastised the audience for the boos, however unlikely that would have been.

As far as Mitt Romney's "evolving" stance on abortion goes I will let the governor speak for himself: 2002, 2012. (I'm still recovering from whiplash from watching those two videos back to back. You've been warned.)

Oh, and it's unlikely that a village at roughly 9,000 feet above sea level would ever see a Black Hawk helicopter. Their stated ceiling is 6,010 feet. Pushing 50% more out of those blades doesn't seem likely. Also, this ceiling is well above average for any helicopter with comparable capacity.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.


  1. Pretty cool blog you got here. What I was searching for was cleared up in your first couple paragraphs. The sarin element of this episode was unnerving to say the least. I'll sleep better tonight knowing that the Genoa story was fictional and not a real conspiracy.

    1. I wanted to be an intelligent viewer so I decided to check on the "Genoa" project myself. It won't change my sleep habits but it does make me question how far a group is willing to go in the name of democracy.

  2. Thank you so much for the time and effort you're putting into this blog. I absolutely love this show, having only started watching it earlier this month (God bless HBOGO so I could watch the whole first season in rapid succession). I often found myself wondering "did that really happen?" Now when I have that question, I think "I can't wait to see what Brian has to say." So again, thank you so much for this.

    Without getting into political opinions, because honestly it doesn't matter and everyone has a right to their beliefs, the examples given for Romney are 10 years apart. He made it clear in the first video that he, personally, holds a "life" belief but politically supports the right for there to be choice. A decade later, his view on the matter has changed. That's not really that unreasonable, is it? In that time he's gotten new information, new persuasions, new views on his life and career. It doesn't matter at all what the topic is, I don't think it's unreasonable that someone's opinion would change over the course of 10 years.

    I think it would suck out loud to run for a high-level position these days. Everything you've ever said exists in readily accessible format, and it now often exists without context. Your opponents campaign is going to be far more concerned with making you look bad as opposed to making themselves look good, so they can just show clips from the two videos saying opposite things and make it a talking point, never pointing out the context of "it's been 10 years, his mind has changed based on X". These kinds of things keep a lot of really good people from running for office, and we end up getting the kinds of candidates we're faced with now.

    de Tocqueville said "In a Democracy, the people get the government they deserve." So right. So very right.