Every little thing you can do to remember those who have fallen helps today. Via Grim's Hall I see that there's a moment of silence at 1500 (no matter your time zone) and a candle ceremony at 2000 Iraq time (adjust for time zone). If you're interested in sharing in these moments -- so that Memorial Day is more than just "the day the pools open" -- follow the link to the details.
This morning I went to the Memorial Day ceremony on post. The turnout was smaller than I wanted, but bigger than I'd hoped. I was fortunate to talk to a WWII and Korean War vet who had many interesting stories to tell from what he called "ancient history" and who had no idea that he was a hero. There was also a handful of elderly German soldiers there, which was really touching.
Time for a round-up of good stories to read today:
Veteran recalls horrors of Bataan Death March
World War II memorial prompts veterans to recall days of fear, heroism
'Greatest Generation' gets its due as World War II Memorial is dedicated
Dedication a reunion for veterans
Teen's efforts ID vets' graves
Please remember that today isn't just about picnics. We do need to rejoice and be thankful for the freedom and life that we have, but we should always remember the price that was paid.
James Hudnall has posted photos of his grandfather and uncles, who were veterans. I have a similar photo that I would like to post. I have relatives who were veterans -- my great uncle, and two of my great-great uncles -- but they passed away long before I knew of them. I'm very grateful that I don't actually know any veterans who have passed away, but I do know one very special vet whom I'm fortunate enough to still have in my life. The more I educated I become about the military and history, the more pride I feel for my grandfather's service. In fact, I was in his home last spring when Operation Iraqi Freedom began, and I felt the amazing juxtaposition between the war being fought on the TV and the war that he had fought so long ago. I'm so proud to call him grandfather, and I hope my grandchildren are half as proud of my husband someday.
I hope my grandfather knows how important he is to me, today and every day.
Meet my grandfather, the most handsome airman in WWII.
MORE TO GROK:
If you have the time, peruse all of the Milblogs links today. They're all unique, but they all share the common thread of Memorials.
Another beheading by the Religion of Peace. Mind you, this one has nothing to do with Abu Ghraib. Has everyone in this world lost their freaking minds? Where are the moderate Muslims to denounce this abhorrent practice? Where is the outrage from the people who are oh-so-worried about human rights? Amnesty International devotes the majority of their 339 pages to the US, and freaking China looks down their nose at us for Abu Ghraib? Are we all living on the same planet here?
To quote a commenter on LGF:
Overkill was passed one month ago, we are now in absolute terminal freefall.
I was just cleaning out my husband's email account, and I found a spam that said "$100 worth of FREE GAS for [husband's name]". No thanks. Since he's fighting in the war, I assume we'll get in on the ground floor of the blood-for-oil deals...
We citizens have to start thinking of news reporting as being about as reliable as advertising.
Thus ends Den Beste's new post on the media. The other day a new student came into my office to ask about our degree programs. When she said that she was majoring in journalism, I felt myself balk. I actually stuttered as I was handing her information. The old joke is that lawyers are the root of all evil, but these days I extend the prize to journalists. This girl's simple mention of wanting to become one of those loathesome creatures was a shock to my system.
I have said here before how I think that movies are a reflection of our values. What we believe about the world is echoed in our popular entertainment (in fact, this is one of my teaching units in my writing class). In the absolutely fascinating article Den Beste links to, called "Why We Hate the Media", James Fallows makes the same point. Way down at the bottom he talks about the Hollywood portrayal of journalists:
Since the early 1980s, the journalists who have shown up in movies have been portrayed, on average, as more loathsome than the lawyers, politicians, or business moguls who are the traditional bad guys in films about the white-collar world.
He gives many examples from specific movies and then goes on to say
Movies do not necessarily capture reality but they suggest a public mood--in this case, a contrast between the media celebrities' apparent self-satisfaction and the contempt in which its best-known representatives are held by the public. "The news media has a generally positive view of itself in the watchdog role," said the authors of an exhaustive survey of public attitudes toward the press, released in May 1995. But "the outside world strongly faults the news media for its negativism.... The public goes so far as to say that the press gets in the way of society solving its problems, an opinion that is even shared by many leaders." According to the survey, "two out of three members of the public had nothing or nothing good to say about the media." As American institutions in general have lost credibility, few have lost it as fully as the press.
Movies do not propose new values; they simply reflect existing ones. We in the blogosphere have long since lost any respect for journalists. Those like my mom's friend aren't there yet, but hopefully it's a matter of time. If we all reject the way journalism is handled, then perhaps we can see some changes.
In my class this term we spent a full two hours speaking about media bias and statistical manipulation. We used the LT's Story as a starting point, but my soldier students knew firsthand the danger of trusting the media: they have all recently returned from Iraq and have seen how the situation has been misrepresented here at home. I'd be ashamed to point them in the direction of the beginning part of the "Why We Hate the Media" article though.
You have to read the first section, Washing Their Hands of Responsibility: "North Kosan". That is how dangerous I consider the media for my personal life. That hypothetical situation, that could be my husband and his soldiers. And were I ever to find out that a journalist had chosen not to interfere, I would "remain detached" myself as I killed him with my bare hands.
My congrats to Bunker, who just got denbestelanched. When I first started reading his stuff, I thought for sure he must have a popular blog; I was shocked to find out he was just starting out and still had low traffic. He has such an interesting perspective -- prior service, both enlisted and officer, well-read, the golf angle, deployed sons, etc -- that I think he has something for everyone. I hope that Den Beste's readers agree and stick around for more than one post to hear what Bunker has to say.
A president shouldn't worry about how history will judge him. I'll never know. I'll know how short term history will judge me, if I'd ever read the editorial pages I'd figure it out, because they're the ones writing the history. But when we try to do big things—accomplish big objectives—whether it be cultural change, or … the struggle we're in—it's going to take a while for history to really judge the accomplishments of a president and the true impact of a presidency. If you're doing little things, then maybe 20 years from now we'll be able to figure it out … But with big things it's going to take awhile. And so when you hear this thing about, "Well he's worried about his standing in history." I'm not. And most short-term history will be written by people who didn't particularly want me to be President to begin with.
I also very much enjoyed the end of the interview when he talks about how the war is affecting him personally. Read it if you have time; it's a window into the personal life of the President.
I got my first thank you the other day.
I just booked a cruise for when my husband gets back. (I know, it's risky guessing when he'll get home, but I had no choice: we had a voucher for a free cruise, and it had to be booked by the end of this month. We're taking a gamble here, but what can you do?) When I called the booking lady and explained the situation to her, she kindly said that she thanks my husband for everything he is doing and appreciates his service.
That's the first time that's happened to me. Of course blog readers have written and said the same thing -- and I certainly appreciate everyone who has expressed their support -- but it was the first time I had heard a stranger say those words to me.
Tim and I were recently talking about the unique situation we find ourselves in on the overseas posts. The only human contact we have is with other military families, who are in the same boat, and German citizens, who don't thank us for much of anything. The only people I talk to on the phone are family members and close friends. I hadn't yet had to go through the "my husband is deployed" explanation with anyone, and it felt kinda weird.
We here are lucky that we don't have much contact with anyone else, because that means there are no pity parties. I can't boo-hoo that my husband is gone because everyone else around me deserves the same sympathy. And the ones whose husbands are not gone know better than to say anything (well, excluding the girl I recently met who complained that her husband is leaving next month, which makes his deployment a good four and a half months shorter than everyone else's.) I'm glad that we don't get to play the victim card here in Germany; it makes it easier for us to focus on the mission at hand.
Deployment in general is a humbling experience. No matter how hot, hungry, tired, or grumpy I feel, I know that my husband and his soldiers have ten times more right to complain. It really puts things in perspective when I'd like to complain that I had to stay up until 2300 booking our cruise and then I think of my husband, who stays up until 2300 working every night (if he's lucky). At the end of the week when I'm beat from working two jobs and going to German class, I remember that my husband has been working for over 100 days straight without one single day off. When I'm sitting here right now thinking of how hot it is in this room, I remember that the highs in Iraq next week hover around 103 degrees. And no matter how much Ben Gay I think I need for my back, my husband wears an extra 65 lbs. of armor every single day. I'm humbled every time I think of how much trivial complaining I do in an average week, and I thank heavens that there are men and women who are enduring a whole lot more and complaining a whole lot less than I.
When the nice lady finished up our cruise booking, she asked if we had any particular food preferences. "Anything that's not an MRE and anything alcoholic," I replied. I'm really looking forward to seeing my husband be able to relax.
I'd thought I'd add a little note on the rap music. One of my friends here recently told me she was shocked to climb into my car for the first time and hear Dr. Dre. I've gotten that a lot over the past seven years as my interest in rap music has developed. Once on a bus trip in France someone asked what I was listening to, and until I passed the headphones around, no one really believed it was Doggystyle. I guess I don't quite fit the profile for a rap lover, but then again I don't fit the profile for the reasons why most listeners love rap.
As someone who is fascinated by language, particularly the origin of slang and colloquial expressions, my love for rap is based on the amazing use of the English language. Though most consider the men (and women) who rap to be undereducated, the things they do with rhyme and wordplay blow my college degrees away. This is creation of something new with our language, a talent I intensely admire and wish I could do myself. All the school in the world can't help you freestyle. Take some of my favorite rhymes:
So where's all the mad rappers at?
It's like a jungle in this habitat
But all you savage cats know that I was strapped wit gats
when you were cuddlin a Cabbage Patch
--from Dr. Dre "Forgot About Dre" off 2001
No I'm not the first king of controversy
I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley
to do black music so selfishly
and used it to get myself wealthy
--from Eminem "Without Me" off The Eminem Show
Do not step to me - I'm awkward
I box leftier often
My pops left me an orphan
my momma wasn't home
--from Jay-Z "Renegade" off The Blueprint
And there were a dozen more I could have chosen. The rhyme is incredible, not to mention that many of these rappers do this off the top of their heads. Have you ever seen someone freestyle? The dexterity these rappers have with language, the way they can weave and mold it, completely thrills me. It's not really something that you can learn to do, you just have to have it. You have to feel it in your bones and be completely in-tune with your language.
I just can't explain how brilliant I think that is.
Many people say they just don't get rap music. Many say the lyrics are too fast, the beat is a distraction, or the offensive language turns them off. I guess it's not for everyone, though I say that anyone who can do this
So what do you say to somebody you hate
Or anybody tryna bring trouble your way
Wanna resolve things in a bloodier way
Just study your tape of NWA
is worth at least a nod of respect for his abilities.
Better than Ezra
Guns and Roses
Yep, weird taste. I'll listen to just about anything.
And as for Tarantino's question, I'm definitely an Elvis person.
The husband's a Beatles person; it's our only argument.
Wow. Paris airports authority remove all mention of collapsed 2E.
I guess they threw it down the Memory Hole. Scary.
(Thanks, Merde in France.)
Seb says it's not true.
An Iraqi who was in prison under Saddam Hussein weighs in on Abu Ghraib:
Ibrahim Idrissi has mixed feelings about the recent uproar caused by the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib under the US occupation. "As a humanitarian organization, we oppose this," he says. "But these are soldiers who have come to Iraq to fight, not to be prison guards. It was to be expected. Of course, if there are innocent people in there ... it is possible, I guess, that some of them are innocent."
If Idrissi seems a bit callous about the fate of the Iraqis in US-run jails, he has probably earned the right to differ. He recalls a day in 1982, at the General Security prison in Baghdad:
"They called all the prisoners out to the courtyard for what they called a 'celebration.' We all knew what they meant by 'celebration.' All the prisoners were chained to a pipe that ran the length of the courtyard wall. One prisoner, Amer al-Tikriti, was called out. They said if he didn't tell them everything they wanted to know, they would show him torture like he had never seen. He merely told them he would show them patience like they had never seen."
"This is when they brought out his wife, who was five months pregnant. One of the guards said that if he refused to talk he would get 12 guards to rape his wife until she lost the baby. Amer said nothing. So they did. We were forced to watch. Whenever one of us cast down his eyes, they would beat us."
"Amer's wife didn't lose the baby. So the guard took a knife, cut her belly open and took the baby out with his hands. The woman and child died minutes later. Then the guard used the same knife to cut Amer's throat." There is a moment of silence. Then Idrissi says: "What we have seen about the recent abuse at Abu Ghraib is a joke to us."
Tim pointed me in the direction of a letter to the editor in Eugene, Oregon and suggested I might want to fisk it. To be honest, I've been reading and re-reading it, and I have nothing to say to this woman. I have nothing to say to someone who suggests a "yellow ribbon should denote cowardice", to someone who said that going to war was "taking the easy way out", to someone who urges us to "tie a blood-red ribbon on your arm" in protest. What could I possibly say to counter such contempt?
However, I do find one line to be worth comment:
I would like to honor all the women and men who refuse to fight any battle that is not their own, whether it's for oil, power, money, government or greed.
We should never fight battles that are not our own. White men should not have fought to abolish slavery. Men should not have sided with women to get the vote. Americans should not have stopped the Nazis from taking all of Europe. If we all mind our own business and leave people alone, then peace will reign over our planet.
Maybe it looks that way in Eugene. I doubt the Kurdish parents who named their sons Dick Cheney and George Bush agree.
While we're still on the subject of the comparative value of life, I would like to highlight some comments.
First from Carla:
The U.S. government, by the people, for the people, is authorized only to act on behalf of U.S. citizens--not on behalf of any other. As a servant of the people--not a *ruler*--the federal government should only act in Americans' interests. No matter what, even if florian (or anyone else) thinks that an American human life is equivalent to any other, the U.S. government *must* not--is not permitted to--and therefore must always value the lives of Americans more than the lives of any others.
That reminds me of the inane comment from the Beastie Boy who was mad that President Bush puts Americans ahead of people in other countries. That's his job as the American President! What would you rather he did, MCA?
And from Bunker:
People in this country share something with me that those in other countries don't. People who want to denigrate that opinion need only ask themselves (honestly) whom do they cheer for in Olympic events.
Shared values. Common ground. As I read this I was thinking about the love-it-or-leave-it idea. I guess I just can't understand Americans who value other countries over their own. If citizens of other countries are more valuable to you, and if you feel you have more common ground with them, then go live with them. For all the moaning about the "rich cultural heritage" and the lack of hegemony in other places, I don't see the mass emigration. (I imagine this is a matter of the ideal vs. the real: it's one thing to ideally value the 35-hour work week and six weeks of paid vacation that France has, but it's a whole different story to really move there, find a job, and pay their taxes.) I think it's perfectly natural to value your own compatriots more than anyone else in the world, and I find it puzzling when someone else doesn't.
If you don't prefer your compatriots, get new ones.
I thought this comment by bliffle to this post was interesting:
Are conservatives so inarticulate and bereft of argument that we must resort to these ancient charges of press bias instead of telling our message? If the press reports bad news, is it because they are biased or because the news is bad? If there is good news that goes unreported, well shouldn't we report it? Istead of wasting bandwidth flailing at the NYT? Good grief!
First of all, I would like to point out that part of the reason bloggers "waste bandwith" pointing out inaccuracies and bias in the mainstream media is because many Americans just don't believe it exists. I wasn't joking when I said that many people I know think that Fox News is the only biased news source. In fact, my mom just had a conversation with one of her friends, and her friend was shocked to hear that my mom thought the news channels were biased. The more we dig up on the lies in the mainstream media, the better able my mom is to provide accurate examples to her friend and inform her that the media is in fact biased.
And we bloggers are trying to report on the good things that are happening. That's Tim's raison d'etre. But the majority of people do not sit at the computer for 2-3 hours in the morning before work like I do. The majority don't read news or blogs online. We who blowdry our hair in front of the monitor are misled into thinking that others do the same.
The truth is out there. Spectra just linked to a great round-up of positive news out of Iraq, but bliffle is kidding himself if he thinks that my mom's friend is going to stumble across it. We're trying to make the truth heard, but the mainstream media is not interested in our message.
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Beth is trying to get the word out too.
By the way, this is what I did today...
MORE TO GROK:
By the way, I'm not even really nutso about dogs. Sure, I like animals, but I've never been the type of person to fall in love with any old dog. The only other dog I've ever reacted to this strongly was poor little Bullet in Illinois.
Florian responded to my question, and I managed to glean a couple more things about him (still don't know the sex though; I'm going with male for argument's sake). He's old enough to remember the Cold War, American enough to call them "our" soldiers, and his moral compass is skewed enough to compare me to Stalin.
I'd like to respond to a few things he said, and then be done with it. He's free to come and watch this "cheerleader" if he wants, but I won't continue to waste my time trying to grasp his point of view.
You say you care about the US military, but I don’t think so.
Are we talking about the same Sarah here? Anyone who reads this blog knows that I care more for soldiers -- both the individuals themselves and the higher idea of "the soldier" -- than anyone else I know. I love them all, unconditionally. Florian lost me here, but I kept reading anyway.
You think you do, but there is something else underneath it. If you did, you wouldn’t trash our soldiers by calling them “turncoats” when they decide it is their duty to tell the truth about the war. You would listen to them, the Zinnis, the Ritters, the Tagubas, the Masseys. Instead you disgrace the service of generals, of men and women who put their safety and security at risk by listening to their conscience.
Florian lists four soldiers I should listen to who are doing their "duty to tell the truth about the war". Maybe Florian would do well to listen to some other soldiers doing their duty: Bowser, Miller, Walsh, and others. Or soldiers who are also trying to tell the truth, like Connable, Wiggles, or Sutton and Darby? Or the Iraqis who are trying to make their voices heard: Alaa, Ali, or Sam. Why do you not consider anything that these writers say as "truth", Florian?
You say you don’t remember the Cold War, but I do, and there is a kind of a Stalinism in your ability to immediately cut down fellow soldiers and colleagues who stray from the party line.
Soldiers have a right to disagree with the politics of a war. There were a handful of soldiers in my class who disagreed with our presence in Iraq, and there are some in my husband's battalion who disagree as well. No one is going "Stalin" on them. However, they have agreed to abide by certain Army Values, and although the Loyalty Value does call for a soldier to reject an illegal order, it does not allow them to openly criticize their superiors and make their own decisions about how American foreign policy should be enacted. Whether or not you agree with the hierarchy system, Florian, those in charge pass the orders down for things to happen. The military would be useless if anyone at any level were allowed to let personal decisions and emotional responses dictate behavior. That's just the way it is. If you want to call me Stalin for thinking that the military as an organization is more important than your four individuals' opinions, then go ahead and call me Stalin.
You say you care about Israel, but I don’t think so. If you did, you would honor the “never again” spirit in the actions of these soldiers. They understand the lesson of the Holocaust -- that soldiers and civilians must never blindly follow immoral orders or support immoral policies. Staff Sgt. Massey told his CO he felt they were committing genocide --murdering civilians, desecrating bodies. His CO called him a wimp. You probably would too.
The lesson of the Holocaust. How about the lesson of those countries in the world who let Hitler build and build until he was powerful enough to kill all those people? How about the lesson Bill Whittle gave us this week, that 30 or 40 soldiers could have prevented WWII? If the French had stood up to Hitler's rumbling, the Holocaust could have been avoided. How's that lesson grab you? Don't boil WWII down to "soldiers and civilians must never blindly follow immoral orders or support immoral policies"; the lesson I take is that one pre-emptive effort can prevent millions of deaths.
Why do I read your site?
Partly fascination. At your site people call others “conspiracy theorists” and “nutcases” even though they themselves believed in the nutty “Saddam Behind 9-11, Ready To Use WMD” conspiracy theory. At your site I see the pathology of a woman who uses the word “vaginitis” to mean cowardice, who says the life of a child holding a US passport is worth more than one who doesn’t.
No one here has said that Saddam was behind 9/11. Many of us believe that Iraq provided money and backing for terrorism, but no one has said Saddam was involved in 9/11. You made that up, and I don't appreciate it.
Since I'm a woman, would you be more comfortable if I wrote about how the female soldiers at Abu Ghraib should have been above the males? Would that fit with your worldview better than how I really write, where I'm comfortable enough with my gender to use the appropriate slurs for a wuss?
And you twisted my words around with the child v. child thing: I said that an American life is worth more than any other nationality's life, no matter if it's a woman or child. I don't see that as pathology, just honesty.
Partly to monitor the war cheerleaders’ websites, the collapse of the war effort in the drop off of comments, the doublethink. To read the open diary of a war cheerleader and see the effect of, for instance, the torture policy revelation -- in your case, spontaneous crying and a recourse to Ben Gay and puppies. Then after a few days the return to the denial mode -- the “just a few idiots did it” argument.
I don't see any "collapse of the war effort", so I don't know what you mean by that. And I did react horribly to what these errant soldiers did at Abu Ghraib; no amount of puppies or Ben Gay will make me justify their actions. (Nice dig there though. Way to mock my personal life. My grandma died last fall too; wanna make fun of that?) Nobody is in denial mode here; the morons are being court martialed and dealt with, and everyone I know wants to see that happen.
Partly info: The great links you disagree with -- the vet turning old war posters into antiwar posters, the thoughtful antiwar writers. Strangely, you don’t target extremists -- maybe because you don’t see yourself as one -- but reasonable dissidence, and then I learn about them too. Thanks.
Um, see the problem is that there never was any vet making anti-war posters; there was a man pretending to be a vet to get attention. Micah Wright was never in the military, so for you to say that I provided you a link to a reasonable dissident is absurd.
No, I wouldn’t dream of making you “switch over to the other side” -- as your admitted black-and-white worldview sees it. I do check if any light can crack through it. (By the way, a black-and-white worldview is something you share with radical Islam. They say we become what we hate.)
Well, if we become what we hate, then I'm either 1) a carrot 2) a dirty George Foreman grill or 3) a troll who spends his time mocking bloggers instead of creating his own blog and taking what he dishes out.
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More above about compatriots.
I didn't think this article could get any weirder than Tim's introduction, but it sure does. Apparently there are women out there who think that a good way to get their politics across is to write it on their underpants and flash people.
The Eves are plotting a racy panty performance for Sept. 1 featuring 100 women dressed in white trench coats and their signature matching panties. "At 3 p.m.," the Axis Web site advertises, "Eves will perform a group flashing in order to create a media spectacle and send a political postcard: We will not tolerate lies and cover-ups!"
This cannot be for real. There cannot be people in this world who honestly think that political discourse written on your underwear is a form of activism. Surely they can't take themselves seriously. Right?
Tasha, who is 33, was presiding over a late-night panty powwow with Zazel and Elizabeth. As Elizabeth perched on Tasha's couch, Zazel sprawled on the floor in a cream-colored body suit and lavender "Lick Bush" thong. "I think sometimes verbal discourse is insufficient as a mode of expression," Tasha said, as if she were delivering a lecture for her fellowship at a prominent New York university. "There's something raw and wonderful and gratifying about the more gestural expression of the flash. By putting on these bold, outrageous displays, we want to inspire others to also be bold."
You are doing absolutely nothing for the state of world affairs by exposing anti-Bush underpants. Grow up, you weirdos.
I had some additional thoughts about our values documented in movies last night after I turned off the computer. It's hard not to project our American experience onto Iraqis.
I believe that the insurgents are a small percentage of the population and that the average Iraqi just stays inside with the door locked and avoids getting killed. One of the things I keep expecting to see is an uprising of regular fed-up Iraqis. À la Superman II, when the Krypton criminals pin Superman behind the bus and the people of Metropolis, thinking he's dead, grab whatever they can find and say, "Let's get 'em." Or like in The Three Amigos, where the regular townsfolk defend their city against the bullies. I don't think I should hold my breath.
We have a history of rising up; it's the foundation of our country. From the days of Don't Tread On Me to the modern-day anthem "We're Not Gonna Take It", we Americans don't sit by and let things happen to us. I keep projecting that value onto Iraqis. It's easy to forget that they've spent decades living in fear and that they may not be rising up any time soon.
I know there are plenty of Iraqis who are joining the coalition military and police force. I applaud them and know they're doing the right thing. But I still keep waiting in the back of my mind to see a group of average Iraqis take to the streets and say "Let's get 'em."
Oda Mae always shoots me good stuff in the morning:
Doctorow's Malpractice: Hofstra students use boos responsibly
If you didn't see Iraq Now's comparison of misleading media quotes on Instapundit, you should read it.
I've almost made it through the full cycle, so tonight was Rocky IV.
I didn't really live through the Cold War. I mean, I did, but not in the way my parents did. I vaguely remember the Wall coming down, but it didn't really mean that much to me as a 12 year old. However, I do remember the era's movies. Superman IV. War Games. Rocky IV. I distinctly remember seeing these movies, and I remember feeling scared about the bad guys and cheering for the good guys.
We don't have movies like that anymore.
Lileks recently wrote that he'd like to see them make a movie about 9/11. I would too, but it'll never happen.
I think people would like these stories to be told, but we can’t have war movies anymore unless it’s an old war, or one that happened in some place with an oversupply of consonants. It’s not that Hollywood is unpatriotic or wishes America to lose; they’d bristle at the charge. But they want Bush to lose first and foremost, and after that we’ll see what happens. To make a movie about The War admits that there is a war, and sometimes I think a third of the country rejects this notion out of hand. We’re only at war because Bush made us go to war! or we’re only at war because we don’t let Interpol handle it! or some such delusion. I swear: there are people who see the conflict in such narrow terms that if Bush on 9/11 had announced he was forcing Israel back to pre-67 borders, and the hijackers had heard the news in the cockpit, they would have hit the autopilot and let the planes resume their original course.
So what happens in Rocky IV? The Soviets challenge the Americans to a boxing match, and Apollo takes the bait. In the press conference, the reporters boo the Soviets for claiming they could beat Apollo Creed. Let me repeat that: the reporters boo the Soviets. Apollo dies, Rocky trains (and gets more muscle than humanly possible), and the arena is filled with Drago supporters for the big fight. Rocky holds his own, and suddenly the Soviets are cheering for Rocky. Rocky breaks Drago, and then he takes the mic and tells the Soviets they can change and the crowd goes wild.
Propaganda? Of course so. But it's a plot we all wanted to see at the time.
Our movies were optimistic. We thought we were the good guys and we wrote movies where the bad guys wanted to be us in the end. The Soviets cheer Rocky. He said he learned to like them and maybe they could learn to like him, and the crowd went wild. And when Rocky shook his American flag (which apparently is a no-no in 2004) the Soviets cheered and the Politboro stood up and clapped.
Look, I know it's just a movie, but movies influence our thinking. I strongly believe that those who fought back against the terrorists on Flight 93 would never have done so if they hadn't been raised on movies like Passenger 57 and Air Force One. What will our kids be raised on if they never see movies about the brave folks on 9/11 or the courageous soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan? We need a made-for-TV movie about Pat Tillman, not Jessica Lynch. Don't give us the victim-hero; give us the hero-hero. If our kids grow up on Fahrenheit 9/11 and the movie about Richard Clarke's book, we'll be in deep trouble in twenty years.
We made Cold War movies during the Cold War, but I don't think we'll see one War on Terrorism movie anytime soon. I think that's a travesty.
MORE TO GROK:
The phone rang while I was finishing up that last post, and I was shocked to hear my husband's voice on the other end. It was a wonderful call -- no static, hardly any delay, lots of laughter -- until five minutes passed and the line went dead. That was when I realized I hadn't heard his voice in over three weeks, and the silence at the end of the line hurt my heart more than anything I can think of.
This wouldn't be so hard if I got to hear from him more often than twice a month.
I really enjoyed reading Cathy Young's article today. She discusses the "my country, right or wrong" mentality and brings up some interesting points. She and I have common ground, so I was able to start thinking critically about what she said at the end of her article:
Ironically, the same conservatives who believe that no decent American can sympathize with the other side during a war also generally believe that our troops in Iraq deserve the support of the Iraqis because we liberated them from an evil regime. Yet, following their logic, patriotic Iraqis would have had to support a homegrown tyrant over foreign occupation.
That is true, and I need to keep that in mind whenever I can't understand why many Iraqis are not overjoyed that we're there. I also found the corresponding Instapundit post -- perhaps the longest string of words Reynolds has ever uttered -- to be equally interesting:
I'm not a "my country, right or wrong," guy. But I do think that if patriotism means anything it means giving one's own country the benefit of the doubt -- of which, in the case of this war, there's not really much need for -- and that the people I was discussing in that post are doing quite the opposite and adopting a "my country -- of course it's wrong" attitude. To root for your own country's defeat is to separate yourself from its polity, to declare it not worth saving or preserving, to declare the lives of its soldiers less important than your own principles. It's not always wrong, but it's a very a drastic step, as drastic as deciding to mount a revolution, really, and yet it's often taken by superficial people for superficial -- and, as in this case, tawdry and self-serving -- reasons. [emphasis mine]
I completely agree with the Instapundit here. Many people these days don't seem to ever give the US the benefit of the doubt, and I have little patience for people who root against the US. But the phrase in bold particularly struck me: Isn't that what we all do? On both sides? On the one, we have the loonies on the Left who don't care how many lives we have to waste as long as Bush is no longer president:
The only way to get rid of this slime bag WASP-Mafia, oil barron ridden cartel of a government, this assault on Americans and anything one could laughingly call "a democracy", relies heavily on what a shit hole Iraq turns into. They need to die so that we can be free. Soldiers usually did that directly--i.e., fight those invading and harming a country. This time they need to die in defense of a lie from a lying adminstration to show these ignorant, dumb Americans that Bush is incompetent. They need to die so that Americans get rid of this deadly scum.
On the other hand, you have people like me who think that no matter how many soldiers we lose and how many memorial services we have to have here on post, we need to persevere and set things right in the Middle East. So, in some sense, we both feel that our principles outweigh the soldiers' lives.
Trust me, I think there's a whopping difference between the two, but in a way the soldiers are being used by both sides. In a way. I'm not sure if I like that thought.
I'm with Den Beste today on the media bias. Since the networks thought our President was less important than Fear Factor, and since he spoke in the middle of the night, I had to try to find the transcript of his speech today. I did manage to find this MSNBC article that's positively dripping with disdain. You can hear the liberal bias that Tim wrote about:
President Bush, seeking to convince skeptical Americans that he has a plan to bring stability to Iraq, outlined a five-step program calculated to articulate his objective of a sovereign Iraqi government, and to begin to reverse the damaging fallout over U.S. soldiers’ abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
Positively dripping. It gets even worse when they talk about his poll ratings.
Look, we may not get Tim's research and voice for much longer, so if you're not spending a few minutes every day scrolling through everything he unearths, you're missing out.
Tim found a humdinger of a quote today:
I think all Americans would love their country if they had to live abroad for a while. -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
Amen. While living on a military post in Germany gives us Americans a taste of what Europe is like, there is no substitute for actually living the European life. And getting garbage thrown at you on the public bus. And having young boys threaten to rape you. And having your director of study abroad repeatedly tell you she hates the United States. And being banned from speaking English in the apartment you pay for by the couple who chose to host an exchange student. And being singled out and ridiculed by your teacher for daring to raise your hand and try to participate in class with your ugly American accent. And did I mention the garbage and the rape?
There was no day I loved the United States more than the day I left France.
I have been trying to grok florian.
I have no idea what kind of person florian is -- man, woman, old, young -- but I know florian doesn't live in the same America I live in. I also know that we don't have any common ground, and you all know how important that is to me. I can't figure out what florian intends to accomplish here.
I'm not trying to be snarky at all; I seriously am curious why florian keeps reading my blog. I obviously care more about the American military than any other in-group I belong to, so posting links about turncoats is not going to make me re-evaluate how much I value our loyal and selfless servicemembers. Moreover, I obviously know that there are a few bad apples in the barrel, but I am absolutely certain that most servicemembers are not targeting civilians, as florian has tried to get me to admit. Every time florian comments, I tend to sigh and shake my head. I don't for one second consider re-thinking my position.
Which leads me to wonder about the in-between: I have basically given up on any hope for grey area. I see the world in black and white these days. There are good guys and bad guys; there are rights and wrongs. Researching, reading blogs, and trying to grok every day for the past eight months has been a double-edged sword: the more I learn about the world, the less likely I am to compromise on what I believe. When I am faced with looney imams, kids with AKs, and auctions of Jewish body parts on LGF every day, I am way less likely to give any credence to someone's argument that radical Islam is not the enemy. And, when faced with soldiers who organize charitable organizations, beg to return to Iraq despite the four-inch bullet hole in the forearm, and turn in their idiot buddies who torture prisoners, I am not at all likely to happily sit by and let florian sully everything they stand for. The more I read and learn, the less likely I am to be wishy-washy on my positions.
I do want to continue to grow as a person, and I do want to hear if someone disagrees with me on some details of my thoughts. But I don't learn anything from comments that are completely polar from my worldview. I could consider conceding some middle ground, but I'll never switch over to the other side. That, to me, seems to be what florian wants to accomplish.
I'm very curious, florian: why do you read my blog?
MORE TO GROK:
Florian responds in the comments, and then I respond above.
And is that really Steven Den Beste? I'm honored if it is.
I'm almost finished grading all of my students' essays, and the vile beast of plagiarism has finally reared his ugly head. I hate when they do this to me.
After much stress, plagiarism, number crunching, agony, booze, and back-ache, I think I've finished grading my students' papers.
No wedding party. Thanks, Oda Mae.
(No time to blog: I have been slacking majorly this morning and still have 11 final papers to read.)
Last night at our 100 Days of Deployment party, I had a moment of pure happiness. As I was sitting next to one of my favorite wives, I looked down the dinner table at Tim and Oda Mae engaged in a conversation, and I felt so blessed. I felt overwhelmed with happiness to be surrounded by such wonderful people, and I haven't felt happier in a long time. I was one of those moments that makes it all worthwhile. I really do have a wonderful life.
(For those who get rap references, there's a WMDeezNuts joke out there somewhere...)
And here I thought we couldn't blame anything else on President Bush...
So it may or may not have been a wedding party, there may or may not have been sarin in those IEDs, there may or may not be an Oil-For-Food scandal, and I may or may not have just baked eighty cookies for my husband's platoon. We may never know.
I very much disagree with the wording in Andrew Sullivan's newest post:
It's very hard to know the facts about the carnage on the Iraq-Syria border, but whatever the occasion, it appears that the U.S. military was responsible for the deaths of several Iraqi women and children. It was almost certainly a mistake - either of target or of provocation. But it's another blow to the prestige of the U.S. military and their ability to avoid the kind of action which will, in fact, make their mission harder rather than easier. There are now many reports of U.S. soldiers feeling so beleaguered and jumpy that their first instinct is to fire, capture or mistreat captives. And so the cycle of distrust in some areas appears to deepen. [emphasis mine]
Blaming the military for events that make life harder for the military is a big mistake, in my opinion. They are well aware that what happened near Syria is going to be a huge problem. They are well aware that prison scandels and imprecise bombing will cause the anti-war faction to shriek. They are well aware that their every action is watched under a microscope. They don't need Andrew Sullivan to point out the blow to their prestige.
When soldiers feel that the media and the world are watching their every move, they will indeed get jumpy and nervous. The last thing we need are jumpy and nervous soldiers. If you put a basketball team out on the court and then fill the stands with hecklers and let the announcer use the mic to point out every little mistake they make, don't you think that might start to affect the team's performance at some point? That's what we do to our soldiers, only this is life-and-death, not a game of hoops.
Our soldiers know they've potentially made a huge error near Syria. Do we need to rub their faces in it over and over and point out that it's their inabilities that make the war worse?
I've figured out the absolute worst part about not having a husband around. I can handle the empty house, the loneliness, and the lack of hugs, but there is something I absolutely need him for: a back rub. My back has been hurting so bad for the past two days that I can barely breathe. I have no idea of the cause -- I imagine a combination of sitting at the computer and marathon knitting hasn't helped -- and I certainly can't find a solution. I am miserable, and all I want is a back rub to make the pain go away. I can't even put Flex-All on because 1) my husband took it all to Iraq and 2) I couldn't reach my back anyway. I don't think I'll be doing much blogging in the next few days, what with my back and the fact that I have to read and grade 25 final essays by Monday.
In the meantime, enjoy this via Den Beste. I love #7.
My new best friend is a charming fellow who goes by the name of Ben Gay.
I got to meet the puppy today. He was every bit as awesome in real life as he is in this photo. And he's so lazy! He would take three steps and then plop down on the floor and take a nap. I'm not kidding: this nine-week-old puppy took three naps while we were playing with him. He waddled and sprawled and yawned and snuggled.
I want one.
It was a red-letter day at Tim's: he's got loads of feel-good stories. Heroes who fight back despite holes in their arms, soldiers from our post who capture the bad guy instead of shooting him, Iraqis who can tie their shoes, and so on. Go start scrolling...
Belmont Club wrote something that really hit home for me in his post News Coverage as a Weapon:
During the Civil War 15 percent of the total white population took the field, a staggering 75% of military age white males. During the Great War the major combatants put even higher proportions of their men on the line. Even after World War 2 it was still natural for children to ask, 'Daddy what did you do in the War?' and expect an answer. Reality affected everybody. But beginning with the Vietnam War and continuing into the current Iraqi campaign, the numbers of those actually engaged on the battlefield as a proportion of the population became increasingly small. Just how small is illustrated by comparing a major battle in the Civil War, Gettysburg, which inflicted over 50,000 casualties on a nation of 31.5 million to a "major" battle in Iraq, Fallujah, in which 10 Marines died in the fighting itself, on a population of 300 million. A war in which the watchers vastly outnumbered the fighters was bound to be different from when the reverse was true. A reality experienced by the few could be overridden by a fantasy sold to the many.
This war doesn't affect everybody and to say that the watchers outnumber the fighters implies that the watchers are actully watching. There are thousands out there who don't think the war on terror affects them at all, and they are quick to accept the "fantasy sold to the many" and then switch the channel to the last episode of Friends. In my parents' and grandparents' generations, everyone knew someone who went to war; these days the service flags are few and far between. We can't fathom the sacrifice previous generations endured because we rarely are affected by today's sacrifices.
Someday my children will ask "Daddy, what did you do in the war?" and he will have an answer that will make them proud. When they ask what Mommy did, I'll say I was proud to be a chickenhawk.
MORE TO GROK:
Strategy Page talks about how everyone is involved in a war.
The Congressional Budget Office has been examining figures on how the military should be redistributed. They have figures for all different scenarios, but the one that struck me was the most drastic one:
PLAN 3B: Eliminate nearly all forces from Germany and South Korea
Upfront cost: $6.8 billion to $7.4 billion
Annual cost compared with status quo: -$1.2 billion
CBO analysis: Large cost savings. Cuts family separation time by 22 percent. Substantial increase in deployment time to South Korea. Removal of U.S. forces might increase likelihood of war.
Why are we spending $1.2 billion to maintain bases in countries that don't appreciate us?
I think about our military spending here all the time. We pay the German government to dispose of our refuse, so I recycle every little piece of trash that I can. Our neighbors leave their porchlight on day and night, and every time I look at it I think about how our government has to pay the Germans to leave that light on. Any time someone buys gas on the economy and pays with gas vouchers, the government picks up the remainder. I absolutely hate thinking about all of the revenue we generate for Germany, since they repay us with anti-war demonstrations and anti-American rhetoric. It makes me sick.
I was walking through the blogosphere and I came upon a dead horse. I thought I'd beat it again, just to make sure the message got through. But this time it's really worth it...
Oh, and this was in the paper version of the Stars and Stripes yesterday: Something That Didn't Make The News
Thanks, John. But how in the hell did I beat Belmont Club?
Oh, and I totally agree. Those who say we shouldn't wave the American flag at the Olympics can ___________________ (fill in the blank with your favorite expletive). Lonsberry has lots of expletives he's deleted as well.
And your rebuttals to complaints on the war are spot on.
Thinking of sending a package down range? A Kim du Toit reader has some advice...
Perspective is great.
MORE TO GROK:
My mom likes to do genealogy research, and she just found something that blew me away: her great-grandfather's Civil War canteen! I sure wish I had $4000 to buy it for her.
She also found info from her other side of the family:
In 1639 Apr 23, Jonathan Addington, a slave boy to one Edward Travis, was brought to Jamestown, VA from England.
My ancestors were slaves! I demand reparations!
When I went to visit Tim, we got started talking about literature. He said he's been trying to drag himself through the classics, but most of the time he doesn't really like the books.
I took a wonderful class in college: world literature from 1945-present. We read short stories from all over the world (that's where I found Yukio Mishima) and tried to put them in their historical context. In addition, everyone read one book and presented it to the class. On the last day, we had a frank discussion on the "canon", that list of books that we all instinctually know are classics. Our teacher asked us why none of the books we had read in our class would qualify; it was then that I realized that the canon was bogus. Sure, there are many classics out there that should be read, but sometimes they're just not relevant anymore. There are books that have affected me and my worldview far deeper than any classics I've ever read, but somehow they're not canon-worthy. Mark Twain was right: "A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read."
Farm Accident Digest has a post today about being "the boy who does not get it." If I may apply his story to my thoughts, that's the problem with the classics: most of the time I just don't grok. Why is The Stranger a book everyone should read? He goes to his mom's funeral and then kills some guy on the beach; what's that? Or Bartleby the Scrivener, the guy who doesn't want to do anything? What is it exactly that The Experts want us to take from these books? What is the life lesson? I'm the girl who does not get it when it comes to the classics.
Both Joanne Jacobs and Debbye have posted the list of 101 "books you should read". I've seen the list before: it's the same list my Advanced Placement English class was based on. Anything we read for that class had to be off that list, which is ironic because in my free time that year I was reading books by Pirsig and Feynman that touched my life in a much more meaningful way than The Crucible did.
I haven't made much of a dent in this list. I don't much care, to be frank. I read a lot, but I'd rather spend my time reading Victor Davis Hanson or Carl Sagan than Boris Pasternak. Proust is crap in French and English, Ceremony and Things Fall Apart are just on the list so it's not all dead white men, and most of these books I would never recommend to an 18 year old. The canon ticks me off.
Those I've read in bold, those I thought should be on the list at the end...
Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart
Agee, James - A Death in the Family
Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice
Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain
Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot
Bellow, Saul - The Adventures of Augie March
Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
Bronte, Emily - Wuthering Heights
Camus, Albert - The Stranger
Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop
Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales
Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard
Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans
Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage
Dante - Inferno
Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote
Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment
Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy
Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers
Eliot, George - The Mill on the Floss
Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man
Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays
Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
Ford, Ford Madox - The Good Soldier
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang - Faust
Golding, William - Lord of the Flies
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
Heller, Joseph - Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms
Homer - The Iliad
Homer - The Odyssey
Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll's House
James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady
James, Henry - The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis
Kingston, Maxine Hong - The Woman Warrior
Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt
London, Jack - The Call of the Wild
Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Melville, Herman - Bartleby the Scrivener
Melville, Herman - Moby Dick
Miller, Arthur - The Crucible
Morrison, Toni - Beloved
O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man is Hard to Find
O'Neill, Eugene - Long Day's Journey into Night
Orwell, George - Animal Farm
Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago
Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar
Poe, Edgar Allan - Selected Tales
Proust, Marcel - Swann's Way
Pynchon, Thomas - The Crying of Lot 49
Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front
Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac
Roth, Henry - Call It Sleep
Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye
Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
Shakespeare, William - Macbeth
Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet
Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Silko, Leslie Marmon - Ceremony
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sophocles - Antigone
Sophocles - Oedipus Rex
Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath
Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin
Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels
Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Henry David - Walden
Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Voltaire - Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five
Walker, Alice - The Color Purple
Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth
Welty, Eudora - Collected Stories
Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass
Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams, Tennessee - The Glass Menagerie
Woolf, Virginia - To the Lighthouse
Wright, Richard - Native Son
OK, here's what I actually enjoyed reading from this list:
To Kill a Mockingbird
Crime and Punishment
The Great Gatsby
Brave New World
What I think is missing:
Bauby, Jean-Dominique - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Bryson, Bill - Mother Tongue
Courtenay, Bryce - The Power of One
Davies, Robertson - The Cornish Trilogy
D'Souza, Dinesh - Illiberal Education
Feynman, Richard - Surely You Must Be Joking, Mr. Feynman
Frank, Pat - Alas, Babylon
Gilovich, Thomas - How We Know What Isn't So
Gould, Stephen J. - The Mismeasure of Man
Heinlein, Robert - Stranger in a Strange Land
Huff, Darrell - How to Lie With Statistics
Jennings, Gary - Aztec
Nabokov, Vladimir - Lolita
Orwell, George - 1984
Pirsig, Robert - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Pirsig, Robert - Lila
Quinn, Daniel - Ishmael
Quinn, Daniel - The Story of B
Rand, Ayn - The Fountainhead
Read, Piers Paul - Alive
Robbins, Tim - Another Roadside Attraction
Robbins, Tim - Skinny Legs and All
Sagan, Carl - Contact
Sagan, Carl - Cosmos
Solzhenitsyn, A - The Gulag Archipelago
Tolkien, J.R.R. - Lord of the Rings
Vonnegut, Kurt - Timequake
Ah, what do I know though...I'm the girl who does not get it.
Beth found a great article about a teacher's reaction to anti-Americanism abroad. I found myself nodding while reading most of it. I too was a teacher on September 12, and I endured my own share of knee-jerks in my ESL class that day.
But then I went to Merde in France and started scrolling down through all the political cartoons. Clenched teeth. However, the last cartoon puts everything in perspective:
I think the world of Mark Steyn. His new article was almost too good to pull out one quote, but I managed to pick one:
Back before 9/11, real crossfire was long ago and far away. Not anymore. And that's the problem: We still have a ''Crossfire'' culture in an age of real crossfire. We have the ersatz warriors, the ham actors of Washington -- Senators Kennedy, Levin, Leahy, Harkin and others too fond of seeing their names in print to mention -- ''calling for Rumsfeld's head'' at a time when America's enemies have already got Nick Berg's, and they're swinging it around on camera for the snuff video they'll be distributing as a recruiting tool.
Den Beste received an email from a German friend who said
Your impression of Fischer is correct regarding his absolute position on the issue, but I believe you have no idea how much more dishonest and anti-American most German politicians (and the voters) are. Fischer and other right-wing Greens are among the most militant, pro-American, pro-Israel politicians we have.
Den Beste points out that though Fischer may in fact be the least anti-American apple in the bunch, he's still seems pretty darn anti-American. He then went on to stress the importance of one of our Amercan values: actions speak louder than words.
His post patterned what I've been trying to say for months about the we-support-the-troops platitude. Back in February I said
I'm often irritated by the but that follows that phrase (as in I support our troops, but...). I appreciate that people don't think my own husband as an individual is a baby killer or a monster, which is usually what they mean when they start that sentence, but I can't help but think they use it as a buffer just so they don't sound heartless. I'm against the war sounds much softer when you preface it with I support our troops, but.
Your definition would appear to be "wish them good health and hope they come home safe." My definition of "support" is a bit more robust than that. In my world, "supporting the troops" also means letting them know that you appreciate the sacrifices they are making, and believe in the cause they're fighting for.
I too see these two distinct definitions within the one phrase; I said:
I tend to think that the first definition should be an understood, that no human would wish that soldiers should be injured or die (though some of the posts on Democratic Underground might suggest otherwise). Therefore, it's not worth broadcasting, just as I support cancer patients or I support the disabled seem inane. I'd agree with Smash that the second definition is the one I see in that phrase, and I believe that definition is much more important and the one that makes a difference. Unfortunately, it's probably not the most common definition intended when people use the phrase I support our troops.
The British use the verb "support" to talk about sports teams. We don't use it here in the US, but if we did, my husband would say he supports the Cardinals. When the Brits use this word, they obviously are implying that they want their team to win, not that they're simply supporting their existance and hoping their players don't get broken legs during they game. "Supporting" a team means hoping they go all the way. When we talk about our troops, I often don't think people mean it that way. Often they mean they don't long for all of our troops to die, but they don't necessarily want them to win, nor do they think they should be there in the first place. To me, that does not follow the definition of "support".
The claim that Joschka Fischer is pro-American is meaningless because it's only in contrast to rabidly anti-American Europeans that Fischer looks remotely pro-. Ted Bundy didn't kill as many people as Pol Pot, but I'd hardly say that the comparison makes him an upstanding citizen. In the same way, there are Americans who aren't actively working against the troops, but you can't always claim that they support our military simply by comparison.
Jeremy Duncan is the poster boy for selfless service, not only to his country but also to his friends.
Jeremy Duncan returned from Iraq last June and will go back this August, but he will be giving new life here at home. He will be donating a kidney.
Our 1SG just returned to Germany from Iraq; he's on his way to Sergeant Major school. We went to dinner with him Friday night and got to ask lots of questions.
"Sometimes we get Iraqis hiding in palm groves around our camp," he began, when he was interrupted by Oda Mae. "Insurgents. They're insurgents, not Iraqis," she said. "Right," the 1SG said, smiling, "insurgents."
There's a big difference, and Oda Mae was right to argue semantics with him. Insurgents are the ones who come after our soldiers with RPGs; Iraqis are the optimistic citizens of a crippled country. Insurgents hang burnt bodies from bridges; Iraqis say things like “who did this crime is a stranger and he’s not of us for sure.”
If you think the American media is showing you who the Iraqis really are, you need to go read this post at Iraq the Model and check your assumption.
My husband has been working for 90 days without a single break in the flypaper country. His job includes luring terrorists to his turf so they avoid attacking us on our soil. Am I proud of his profession? Absolutely. Does the nature of his job sometimes make me disproportionately angry at the world? Certainly.
The purpose of this website was for me to find a way to try to understand the world we live in. I never said I was good at it. I don't think I really grok anything at all, but I know what I believe in and stand for. And, yes, it's pretty black-and-white, us-vs-them. I do think that there are certain situations where grey area is not acceptable, and I don't think I want to compromise on those areas.
I didn't start this blog to argue with people; in fact, one of the reasons I started it was so I could avoid arguing with real people in my life when I began to notice I disagreed with them on just about everything. I started it as a place for me to think out loud and work through my own confusion about the world. But this week it's gotten me in some arguments. Some of them I got myself into, and others I was dragged into unwillingly. I don't want to be in any of them, to be honest. I don't want to argue with people; it just distracts me from my own quest for grokking.
The majority of the time we're not going to change each others' minds. It's funny that we even try. I didn't have to read both Den Beste and Daily Kos back in 2002 to figure out which side I was on; I already knew from the first day I entered the blogosphere. However, within that common ground, I am open to exploring new things that I haven't considered before. I have been thinking a lot about Donald Sensing's post on crossing the line. I still don't know what I think about that, and I have been trying to grok it for two days. However, no one is ever going to make a dent in my beliefs that 1) the war was justified 2) Americans are not evil/stupid/imperialistic or 3) there are clear-cut good guys and bad guys in this world. I have some beliefs that no amount of discussion will ever change, and there are some people I will never be able to convince with my beliefs.
All of a sudden, I don't even feel like caring anymore. I need to look at the puppy for a while.
I haven't been keeping track of the days my husband has been gone; instead, I've been keeping track of his absence by counting the letters I've sent to him. Today is a big day; it's my husband's favorite number.
My husband introduced me to Willie McGee when we met, and I don't think I've ever heard of a nicer famous person. My husband has an old yellowed copy of this article that he cherishes.
We're at letter #51, Blue 6. I sure do miss you.
Today is Armed Forces Day.
I'll remember these four today.
In addition to Tenacious D, I have found another soothing balm for my anger at the world. Two of my married students just got a new puppy, and they sent me a photo of him. I opened it this morning, and then left the window open -- that way I can read stuff like this, and when steam starts to come out of my ears, I quickly switch over to the puppy window and look at this little piece of heaven.
He works wonders for bringing my rage to a manageable level.
To the Swede who thought it was real funny to make the "America's Dumbest Soldiers" webpage:
Vad fan gör du? Har du ett hjärta eller är du bara en jävla kuk? Du ä så jävla feg, att du har använt en mexikansk adress. Jag skiter i dig. Du är inte värd besväret.
Help me out, Anders. I don't even know enough swear words to do this guy justice.
I've gotten lots of questions about my geek stuff, so here's some explanation.
No, I'm not Mormon. But I had some friends who are Mormon growing up, and I went to several functions at their church, as well as visiting Nauvoo and Carthage. I also did my term paper senior year of high school on Joseph Smith, so I know a whole lot about LDS for not being Mormon.
In itself not geeky, but seeing as I watched the entire first two seasons (42 hours of it) in two weeks is really, really geeky.
8. statistics (the fun stuff like the Monty Hall problem or the Birthday problem)
This predates my current book choices (How to Lie With Statistics and How We Know What Isn't So); my old roommate was a stats grad student and would wow me with stats problems. I can't wait to take stats when it's offered here on post.
7. Yukio Mishima
Found him through the short story "Patriotism" and was absolutely floored by that story. Read two of his biographies in one weekend. Amritas is right; the author is more interesting than his novels, but I own all of them.
I read the Army Officer's Handbook from cover to cover and have tried very hard to learn everything there is to know: MOSs, Army alphabet, vehicle identification, etc.
5. Swedish language
My husband always teases me: "You chose to learn a language that only 9 million people speak, and all of them speak English?"
4. rap music
In itself not geeky, but pretty odd for a white girl college prof to have been to a Snoop Dogg concert.
3. Chief Illiniwek
I really got into this debate at the University of Illinois and have read every transcript and article about the issue.
I finished a project last night during the first 45 minutes of Rocky, and it was really hard for me to sit through the rest of the movie without knitting something.
1. the Karate Kid Trilogy
I know everything about these movies.
This appears to be a very thorough webpage, with lots of links for future reference, on the War in Iraq. I haven't looked through it closely yet, but I plan to this weekend.
I watched Rocky last night.
When my ESL students and I would do our American Values unit, one of the values I always had to explain at length was "the underdog". Rocky, Rudy, the 1980 US hockey team, these are all modern-day American heroes and folk legends. It's something we as an ESL class spent some time discussing because, to my knowledge, no other culture values the underdog like we do.
When the statue of Saddam came down last March, I was cheering the underdog. But watching Rocky last night triggered an analogy: we Americans are so familiar with the concept of bootstrapping that we sometimes have a hard time understanding why Iraq doesn't drink a glass of raw eggs and get to work. Iraq's Apollo Creed is Islamic Fundamentalism; the US arranged the fight but we can't understand why Iraq won't get in the ring. Having been raised on Rocky, Rudy, and Mighty Ducks, we easily forget that others don't have that tradition.
Who but an American would ever write
I fervently hope that someday, perhaps decades from now, Iraq will have a really top-notch soccer team. I hope that one day, they will get to the final round of the World Cup, and when they do, I hope it is Team USA they play for the championship.
I hope that the Americans play a tough, aggressive, masterful game, that they use all of the speed and skill and power at their command. And then I want to sit there watching TV as an old man, and watch the faces on the Iraqi people when the game is over, because I want to see that the most relieved and joyous they can conceive of being, is the day that tiny Iraq got out on that soccer field and kicked our ass.
Can the love for the underdog be taught? Can it be transfered to Iraqi society? Maybe our Air Force could drop copies of Rocky and Rudy on Iraqi cities so they can start studying. Someday I want to watch a movie about the Iraqi underdog who got to the top not because Allah was willing but because he worked his ass off. That's my hope for the future.
My friend and I talked at length yesterday about eloquence. I found some examples this morning of things I wish I had said.
Nope, don't blame the Islamofascists. Don't blame the terrorists. They're just innocent victims of American imperialism.
Just how out of whack does your brain have to be to ignore the guy holding the blood-stained knife in one hand and the severed head in the other?
On that dreadful day all Americans became the falling man and today we are Nick Berg.
John Kerry is on Imus at the moment and his opening remarks? He says we are crushed under the burden of healthcare and gas prices. No, Senator we are crushed under the WTC. Kerry continues to say he can shift the burden for the war in Iraq to others, remove the target from our backs, he is a fool.
Via the very angry Banagor:
O, Pardon! for I am "stigmatizing" with "hatred" a "great religion" and "culture"! Well then, show me this great religion and culture! Show me the fruits of this wonderful world which the Left defends so wholeheartedly!
I will show it to you: it is a tape, grainy but recognizable, in which the full glory of Islam is pronounced by the brutal sawing off of a man's head and proudly shown off to the world.
And the even angrier Emperor Misha:
We cannot make them stop hating us, for the very simple reason that hatred is all that they have to offer to this world.
Well, let them hate us then, but let us teach them also to fear us more than they fear anything else. Let us show them, forcefully, brutally and without mercy that there are no worse fates imaginable to man than to cross us, that their much vaunted "anger" is nothing but a slight expression of displeasure compared with what they have awoken in us.
On the way to work today I found a balm for my frustration with the world: Tenacious D.
When I read these accounts of how mad Americans are getting, I started thinking about how Nick Berg might not have died in vain.
Perhaps Nick is our era's Pearl Harbor.
Nick's family is extremely distraught (understandable) but blaming his death on the Bush administration (doesn't compute). I started thinking about what I would say if it had been my husband, if my husband were Nick Berg.
I would urge every American to watch the video. If I had to watch someone rip my husband's head off, then everyone should. I would tell Americans that the people who did this commit these sorts of acts every day and that it is our way of life that they hate. That they will never stop until we're all dead or enslaved, as Amritas reminded me. I would tell the public that the only way this will end is if we kill them before they kill us. I would urge Americans to remain steadfast in their resolve and to support our military and administration as they bring not only those five masked men but all terrorists to justice.
Perhaps the legacy Nick Berg's death will leave is that it will be the straw that broke the American camel's back. September 11 was supposed to be that straw, but we all tucked our American flags away shortly thereafter and went back to regular life. Those burned bodies hanging from the bridge in Fallujah were also supposed to be a straw, but somehow they only elicited a "screw 'em". Perhaps now, in light of the attention the media has paid to Abu Ghraib, the sleeping giant will awake as Americans start to notice that, as an Instapundit reader quoted, "Why is it that the media can show over and over again pictures that could make Arabs hate Americans, but refuse to show pictures that could make Americans hate Arabs?"
Nick Berg will not have died in vain if his death strengthens our resolve to win this damn war on terror.
MORE TO GROK:
But after reading this post and all the comments at One Hand Clapping, I start to get nervous that there's a line that, once we cross it, we can never go back. I haven't get decided how I feel about that, but I'll write about it when I grok it.
Brain Terminal has a great post comparing Abu Ghraib and Nick Berg. Highlight:
One day the media was telling us we had to see the pictures from Abu Ghraib so we could understand the horrors of war. But with Berg's beheading, we're told we can't handle the truth. It kind of makes you wonder which masters the media serves: images that cast us in a negative light get a full airing; images that remind us of the savagery of our enemies are hidden from view, lest we get blood lust. But is it possible to win a war without a little blood lust?
There's a funny meme starting where you make a Geek List. It's the top ten things you know way too much about to be considered cool. Rocket Jones did one, so now it's my turn. For whatever reason, I know a fair amount about these oddball topics.
8. statistics (the fun stuff like the Monty Hall problem or the Birthday problem)
7. Yukio Mishima
5. Swedish language
4. rap music
3. Chief Illiniwek
1. the Karate Kid Trilogy
Tim's back up and running, and he has several wonderful posts today. Go read all of them.
John Hawkins had me in stitches:
If The Media Treated Basketball Games Like They Treat The War On Terror
I found this on Castle Argghhh's post Wahabism Delenda Est. It really got to me.
Not all of us can run out and join the fight (though after watching the Nick Berg video, that's the only thing on my mind). Instead we have to fight for freedom at home. Deskmerc once said, "While our troops go out to defend our country, it is incumbent upon us to make the country worth defending." I have kept that on my sidebar to remind myself of my duty, but it's easy to get sidetracked and forget. Castle Argghhh reminded me today.
Our duty is to make the country worth defending. That means prosecuting those who humiliate prisoners, and they will surely be dealt with. But it also means not turning a blind eye to what is going on in this world. It means each and every one of us -- we who grok -- have a duty to try to help others grok. Consider it a sort of political evangelicism; we need to spread The Truth.
When someone equates Abu Ghraib and Nick Berg, we need to set the record straight. Pointing at someone's penis and sawing someone's head off do not a balanced scale make. When someone mistakenly says that both sides in this war on terror want peace, we need to remind them that radical Muslims are not working for peace by a long shot. Hippies want peace on earth; Muslims want death to Americans and Jews. When someone says that war is not the answer, we need to ask them what the f-ing question is.
It is our duty to ask ourselves "What have I done today for freedom?"
I relate very strongly to Michele's story:
Maybe their well will dry up some day. Maybe there will be less and less followers of Islam who view their religion as an excuse to murder and more of the kind who want peace and prosperity. Maybe they will kill themselves off in all their attempts to kill us. Maybe moderate Muslims will stand up and be heard and drive the terrorists out of their holes and into a hail of machine gun fire. Would I care about their deaths? Nope. Not at all. They aren't human. They are monsters. Die, monsters, die, as my son used to say in his sleep.
So my son, an eleven year old who already knows too much about the world, happened to see part of the video yesterday as he watched the news. He was devastated and horrified. He took Nick Berg's death very personally. We discussed the matter, discussed about terrorists, about good v. evil.
He asked can't we just drop a bomb and kill them all?
And I realized, as I explained to him the best I could why we cannot do such a thing, that what he said is absolutely an eleven year old way of dealing with things. We are not eleven. We are adults.
Ok, then how come I keep whispering die, monsters, die in my dreams?
It's a drinking sort of night.
My head was already spinning, and now it's even worse. But I don't want to feel better. I don't want to forget; I want to revel in my anger and hatred. I'm drunk on rage and booze tonight.
I tried reading the Arabic text from the video tonight. I swear it would make no sense even if I were sober.
we tell you to know that the coffins will arrive to you one coffin after another, as your people are slaughtered in this way.........
Oh yeah? Bring it, asshole. My husband and his M1A1 disagree.
I watched the video this morning.
At first I couldn't decide if I wanted to see it. I had butterflies in my stomach and my heart was pounding throughout the whole seven minutes. It happened exactly as Charles described, and it was very difficult to watch.
Another wife asked me why on earth I had watched the video. I struggled to find the right words to explain to her why I wanted to -- needed to -- see it. The right word came to me later.
I watched the video so I wouldn't forget what we're fighting for. I watched it so I wouldn't get distracted by Abu Ghraib or 9/11 hearings or anything else that is preventing the American public from seeing the simple dichotomy between good guys and bad guys. I watched it so I could put a face on my enemy, so I could watch his heinous deeds firsthand, and so I would not forget what my husband is risking his life to prevent.
I watched it so I could stoke my anger. It worked.
Tim from CPT Patti in Baghdad is experiencing technical difficulties today.
You'll just have to wait until he's back up and running to read his gems.
If Abu Ghriab were a dead horse, I would be beating it, but I wanted to point out something reader Oda Mae brought to my attention. Omar from Iraq the Model interviewed someone who used to work at Abu Ghraib.
Went to the gym and cleaned the entire upstairs, including a much-needed thorough job on the two bathrooms, all before lunch. I rule.
Another thing that's much needed: humor.
DO stick to your principles while still considering what the other person says.
DON'T pile drive the other person into a folding table when you find a topic you vehemently disagree on. Though it would be cool, it's just not civil.
Apparently our servicemembers who have recently returned from Iraq should not breathe a sigh of relief that they're back in the good ol' USA.
Military Targets in the USA must be Attacked
by al-masakin — Thursday, May. 06, 2004 at 7:13 PM
The torture of Muslim prisoners in Iraq in the “rape rooms” at the American Abu Ghraib prison confirms that the so-called American war on terror is really a war on Islam. George Bush has created a global gulag network of extra-legal and secret US prisons with thousands of inmates. This Gulag stretches from Afghanistan to Iraq, to Guantanamo and secret CIA prisons around the world. This Gulag exclusively holds Muslim prisoners.
In light of these revelations, Al-Masakin would like to take this opportunity to remind the American Muslim Mujahedin, and our allies in the revolutionary and anti-Imperialist left, that ROTC buildings, armed service recruiting centers, individual military personnel, and police officers are “military targets”. These institutions must be violently and covertly attacked.
In fact, there are thousands of unarmed military targets walking around all over the United States. Outraged American citizens and American Muslims should have little difficulty making violent contact with recruits, cadets, marines, etc.
We strongly recommend that such contact be made with a very sharp knife, pepper spray, brass knuckles, baseball bats, firearms, explosives, or the bumper of a full sized automobile, truck or SUV.
This was written by Americans in San Francisco. What is the world coming to?
It's been a struggle this weekend to keep my chin up. The news has gotten me down, so low that I sat on the phone with my mom on Saturday and wept. I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to wade through articles about quagmires and liars. I don't want to hear the words Abu or Ghraib ever again. I don't want to have to keep forcing myself to stay positive in the face of all the heinous junk that's published out there.
Every time a soldier dies, a little piece of me dies too.
I'm having visitors from the US on Tuesday, so blogging will be light as I prepare for their visit. I'm starting to think it's a well-timed break from the internet.
I'll be back. I just need to get rejuvenated first.
Why is Joe Lieberman the only one who groks?
Er, not the only one. Some Iraqis grok too.
For a while now, I've wanted to describe our post chapel's stained glass window to my mom. Today Stars and Stripes has an article about SPC Kondor's memorial here on post, and there's a photo of our touching stained glass windows.
Right before the guys left, we attended our neighbor's baptism. At the end of the mass, the priest called up all of the soldiers who would be leaving for Iraq that week. He blessed them all and gave them an Army coin to keep with them.
I don't think I'll ever forget that long row of men standing under the stained glass window.
For so long, I've been really strong. I have statistics on my side, I support the mission, and I know that thousands of soldiers come home just fine. But lately I can't seem to shake the feeling of fear. We lost SPC Kondor two weeks ago. We lost four more soldiers on Wednesday. If our post is losing at least one soldier per week, I fear that it's only a matter of time before it catches up to me, in one way or another.
I just feel really uneasy lately.
One news broadcast in particular has caught my attention: the announcement of the end of the war in Europe.
Here is the great news for which the world has been waiting for almost six long years.... Thus it is that eleven months to the day since the invasion of Normandy...the Allies have utterly smashed the German enemy that came close to enslaving the world.
The rest of the report is just the facts -- who signed the surrender, the terms of agreement -- and does not contain 1) any effort to give the Nazis credit for being "freedom fighters" or "opposed to the American occupation" 2) any mention of a body count for Allied soldiers or 3) any interviews with so-called experts about why it has taken so long for the war to end and whether it could be considered a quagmire.
I'd give anything to hear a broadcast like that today.
I'm very much against putting money in the pockets of Hollywood entertainment types who badmouth our country or our President. However, at the rate we're going, the only CDs I'll be able to own will be from Kid Rock and Toby Keith, and the only DVDs will be episodes of Frazier...
Yes, I know this feeling:
It's the feeling I get every time I encounter an idiotarian.
Tonight my cell phone rang in my pocket right as I was driving through the gate leaving our post. Since I thought it might be the husband, I really wanted to answer it, but since it's illegal to drive and talk on a cell phone in Germany, the gate was not the smartest place to answer the phone.
Turns out it wasn't the husband, but a great surprise nonetheless: Tim.
And look what he found for me...
I love the President.
Over on RWN there are four stories about what kind of man President Bush is. I know some people in the blogosphere are reluctant Bush supporters; I however genuinely like the man. I don't agree with him on everything -- religion plays a much bigger role in his life and his politics than in mine, and I disagree with some of his stances on issues (marriage amendment, stem-cell research, etc) -- but I truly like him as a person and as a President despite our personal differences.
When I read about how he reacted to a child whose mother died in the WTC and a woman who whispered that she prays for him, I can't help but think of what a good man he is. He cares. He has the weight of the world on his shoulders -- he has ordered our servicemembers to go to Afghanistan and Iraq and die for their country, while the rest of the world hates him with every breath they take -- and yet he stops to comfort someone else who needs it.
Can you imagine for a moment what it must be like to be President Bush? Knowing that everyone around the world hates you, that they burn you in effigy and carry posters that liken you to Adolf Hitler? Knowing that everyone thinks you're too stupid to be President, too incompetent to be trusted, and too big of a liar to listen to? Knowing that servicemembers are dying because you are trying to do what was right for our country, and all anyone can focus on is WMDs and imminent threats? Den Beste complains that his readers won't see the forest for the trees; how must President Bush feel knowing that he's trying to make the world a safer place in the future while so many people are harping on the details?
And of course with my love for the military I'm especially touched by the two stories about President Bush and soldiers. The first shows him jogging with a SSG who lost a leg in Afghanistan; the second finds him saluting a wounded LTC in the hospital.
I cry nearly every time I read a story about a servicemember's death; I can only imagine how much it affects the man who made the decision to send them all to the war in the first place. I sometimes can't sleep at night if I'm worrying about being a good teacher; I can't even believe President Bush gets any sleep at all. I really feel for him: he has the hardest job in the world.
I love him. He's my President.
I woke up too late today.
This week I've been absolutely exhausted, and when the alarm went off at 06bloggingtime, I shut it off and went back to bed until 0730. And then I found all these things I wanted to write about.
First of all, I expressed outrage last week at the events at Abu Ghraib prison. However, a lot of that outrage has subsided by now, and I'm left being angry at the rest of the world. My feelings were mirrored today on LGF, when Charles Johnson responded to the following paragraph:
Bush spoke as his administration sought to counter a worldwide wave of revulsion over photographs showing Iraqi prisoners, some of them hooded, naked and in sexually humiliating poses, in an American-run prison in the Baghdad area.
Remember that “worldwide wave of revulsion” when a pregnant Israeli mother and her four daughters were murdered in cold blood by Arabs who videotaped the atrocity? Remember the “worldwide wave of revulsion” when four security contractors helping to rebuild Iraq were burned alive, ripped apart, and hung from a bridge by Arabs in Fallujah? Remember the “worldwide wave of revulsion” when an Italian hostage was murdered by Arabs on video?
Yes, I'm still disgusted at the soldiers who abused their position of power in the prison. But I'm getting more disgusted at the way the news can't stop talking about this story, as if none of the other atrocities in the world matter when ten Americans do something stupid. Der Speigel ran this magazine cover and called Americans "The Torturers of Baghdad"; did they run a cover of these photos under the headline "The Torturers of Fallujah"? That's what I thought. See, I was under the impression that Uday was the torturer of Baghdad, but apparently that's not newsworthy. That's like sooo 2003, Sarah.
Got the following email yesterday. Seems we've got our own day...
1. In 1984, President Ronald Regan proclaimed 23 May as the first Military Spouse Day to recognize the important role military spouses play in the readiness and well-being of our nation's armed forces. The Secretary of Defense standardized the day as the Friday preceding Mother's Day in 1985. This year we will honor our Military Spouses on 7 May.
2. We are an Army at war, currently engaged in our nation's global war on terrorism. During the past yer, our soldiers have once again been asked to defend our freedom and the privileges we all enjoy. While our soldiers face increased deployments and longer separations, our spouses remain the consistent, predictable cornerstone of the well-being of our Army family. Army spouses continue to step up to meet the unique challenges Army life brings, as has been the case throughout the Army's nearly 229-year history.
3. Army spouses have played an instrumental role in the preparedness and success of our forces. The contributions of the first spouses who followed their soldiers to Valley Forge in 1777 set the standard for all military spouses who followed. These brave women nursed the wounded and laundered soldiers' uniforms, at times dodging bullets and even taking up arms when needed. They provided un-ending support and served as the Army's first force multipliers, but never received official recognition from the Army. Their immeasurable contributions to the ideals of family, patriotism, service and freedom, and their distinctive sacrifices continue to endure today as our Army and our nation face new threats.
4. Much has changed for Army spouses in the years since Valley Forge. Today's Army spouses received well-deserved recognition for their role in the defense of our nation. Support programs, systems and services allow for a level of well-being not necessarily available in the past. However, in a world where change is the norm, Army spouses remain the constant. They continue to be the homefront mainstay of moral support and encouragement for our soldiers and the workforce that supports them. They are the driving force and energy that make our Army strong. Today, as in the days of old, through great personal sacrifice the Army spouse is a solid key component in keeping the Army relevant and ready.
5. Military Spouse Day, celebrated on 7 May this year, affords us the opportunity to publicy acknowledge the commitment of our Army spouses across all components, Active, National Guard and Army Reserve, and to pay tribute to their critical role in the strength of our nation and the success of our Army in accomplishing the mission. So, to the many Army spouses who support their soldiers, thank you for your courage and patriotism and the love and commitment to your soldiers and to the Army family. Furthermore, I would like to thank you for your generosity and your devoted service. Many blessings to you and your families, the Army and our nation today and throughout the year.
-- Announcement from the Honorable Brownlee, CSA Schoomaker, and SMA Preston
My favorite nickname from the husband is Combat Multiplier...I love when he calls me that.
I've never explored my hits from google searches before.
How did I get a hit for "taco bell complaints" and "headband store in Russia"?
After several hours of combat, the besieged unit ran out of ammunition, having come with only 300 rounds for each of their M-16 rifles. Pvt. Natividad Mendez, Cpl. Toloza's friend for three years, lay dead, shot twice probably by a sniper. Two more were wounded as the close-quarters fighting intensified.
"I thought, 'This is the end.' But, at the same time, I asked the Lord to protect and save me," Cpl. Toloza recalled.
The wounded were placed on a truck while Cpl. Toloza and the three other soldiers moved on the ground, trying to make their way back to the base. They were soon confronted with Sheik al-Sadr's fighters, about 10 of whom tried to seize one of the soldiers.
"My immediate reaction was that I had to defend my friend, and the only thing I had in my hands was a knife," Cpl. Toloza said.
So he charged the Iraqis and fought them with his knife. And won.
There's a photo of him with his knife, which I assume will offend people and might disappear soon. I'll keep a copy here. If the anti-war crowd wants to show us photos of coffins and read lists of the deceased as a way to inspire us to give up, then I'll show a photo of a man with more courage than most of us could ever imagine, as a way to inspire us to never give up.
It's real easy for us, thousands of miles away, to pretend that no one has to see the whites of their eyes. Every day the headlines tell us of another casualty, but rarely do you hear of the military triumphs, of the missions that wiped out the bad guys. What we need to remember -- what we need this gruesome photo for -- is that for every coalition soldier who dies, roughly 70 insurgents have been killed. Our servicemembers are brave, they are tough, and they will never give up.
And they're not just Americans; there are some hardcore El Salvadorians too.
As an ESL teacher, I love when a non-native speaker incorrectly uses an English expression. These instances can range from lewd to cute, but they're always good excuses for language learning and laughter.
Today a German man who works in my building came in our office and was asking my co-worker about baby lotion. He asked me about it, and I told him that I don't know anything about babies. He responded, "I don't either, but my sister just came down with one. Wait, that's not the expression..." Hysterical. Indeed, after eating dinner last week with my neighbors' three year old, one year old, ten month old, and six month old, I would not be too content if I came down with a child right now either!
Den Beste has a post today on how we're engaged in a three-way war. Lord knows I don't have anything to add to his assessment, but there was one sentence that jumped out at me:
The Philadelphia Constitutional Convention included one of the most amazing concentrations of fine minds to ever collect in one place, names like Franklin and Jefferson and Hamilton and Madison. They changed history.
What on earth would we do if we needed to have a Constitutional Convention today?
I know you can't really make what-ifs like that, but seriously, who do we have? Is there any politician we trust the way we trust the Founding Fathers? Who would you want to write the document that will govern us for over 300 years? My vote is on Den Beste, CavX, and VDH...but honestly, who's heard of them? The general public would react to them the way the Clevlanders reacted in Major League ("who are these f-in' guys?")
If we had a Constitutional Convention today, it would have to be properly multicultural and include representatives from all walks of life. Nothing would get done. There would be no Constitution.
MORE TO GROK:
To the newcomers, thanks for coming over and trying to grok. I dashed this crap off right before work, not knowing that a denbestelanche was around the corner. Oh well. If I'd known, I would've talked at greater length about the junk that would've gone into a convention today (e.g. an affirmative-action staffing of the delegates, a nanny attitude, and, as commenters have pointed out, a document the size of the EU Constitution). That's what I would've said; instead you got a reference to Major League. Sheesh.
the disgrace in Abu Ghraib prison = something that certainly deserves our attention
the murder of three Americans in Kosovo by a nutcase Palestinian on the UN Peacekeeping force = something largely ignored by the media
The Palestinian carried an M-16, from which he apparently discharged 400 rounds, leading NATO investigators to examine whether his four colleagues in a Jordanian detachment assigned to guard the prison had helped him by feeding his weapon as he fired.
Excuse me? 400 rounds? Four other Jordanians making sure he didn't run out of ammo before he pulverized these American soldiers on their first day on the job? This guy -- suspected of having ties to Hamas -- killed three Americans and wounded 11 others when he went on a shooting spree killing soldiers who were supposedly on the same side as he? Where is the media outrage? Where are the magazine covers? Why isn't the investigation blasted all over the tv?
Oh yeah, because no one cares.
No one cares when Americans die because they're usually getting what they deserve. Three measly Americans got killed in Kosovo; so what, have you seen what the Americans are doing to the helpless, defenseless women and children in Fallujah? "After all, you guys started it," as one of my European friends said when I explained my husband would go to Iraq for a year. And now it's your fault for ticking the Arab street off by training your "barbarian invader" soldiers to make naked pyramids. It was "only a matter of time" before the Americans were revealed as the oil-hungry, Muslim-hating, unilateral torturers they really are.
Sheesh, I'm getting as sarcastic as Amritas. Time for bed.
Snopes says that this email forward I just received is true.
No matter what Senator McCain's political views are, I completely respect his pride and dedication for his country.
I found out today SGT Ryan Campbell, one of the 1AD soldiers killed last week, went to Truman with my husband and me. I didn't know him, and I haven't talked to my husband so I don't know if he knew him or not, but the ROTC cadre there at Truman remember him and are attending his memorial. While searching for information about him, I came across an article written less than a month ago in the Truman paper on SGT Campbell. The headline quote they attribute to him:
Every day is lived with the continuous strain of wondering whether you will make it to the next.
I've been awake nine minutes and I'm already depressed.
I woke up when my alarm went off at 0615 and said forget it. Still tired, I went back to bed until 0730 and dreamt that I was blogging. Somehow I made my links into little jack-o-lanterns. Whatever.
What a way to start off the morning. I'm afraid to head over to LGF.
MORE TO GROK:
My fears were confirmed. Sudan gets a seat on the UN Human Rights Commission.
I finished reading The Future and Its Enemies this morning. (If I were going to invent something, it would be an exercise bike combined with a laptop computer, so I could exercise and read blogs at the same time. But at least it gives me time to read books.) I'm a "book marker", a person who likes to mark passages to go back to later; my husband is not. Therefore, I was surprised to find that he had marked his book when he read it. It was nice to see what had struck him while he was reading; it was almost like having him here to discuss the book.
You know, I really should read Davids Medienkritik every day. It's a great blog. But the truth is, I can't stand to read it. I can't stand reading the bias and sanctimony that comes out of the country I live in. The country where my country pays rent, hires their citizens, and buys their goods and services. It makes me sick to know that we're still here when I read this and this. We need to go home as soon as possible.
Nighthawk emailed me a link to an article about the Spirit of America fundraiser:
The column describing Spirit of America's effort to raise $100,000 for the TV stations appeared in this space 14 days ago. Since then, the following has happened:
Jim Hake, Spirit of America's entrepreneur founder, says they have received $1.52 million. Some 7,000 donations have come from every state, and one from . . . France.
Apparently Muslims in California are mad that Gov. Schwarzenegger is on a trip to Israel. Here's what one has to say:
“It’s his prerogative to visit, but he should be fair to all races and religions,” said Mohammed Abdullah, 46, a Palestinian-American who works as a butcher in Anaheim.
That's mighty funny, considering Islam is most certainly not fair in terms of race or religion. I'm filing this one under "Humor".
Remember those parents of kids in your high school who were totally oblivious to what their kids were doing? My kid would never do drugs / binge drink / sleep around / do anything remotely bad. And we kids and the other parents who had a clue never knew how to point out to the parents that Susie was a slut or Bobby was a stoner. They were going to believe whatever they wanted to believe, despite any evidence to the contrary.
I don't want to be in denial like one of those parents.
But I also don't even want to think about this.
The soldiers in my Army, in the America I live in, would never do something like that. My soldiers don't think humiliation and torture is funny or a joke to take photos of and send home to your high school buddies. My soldiers know that our situation in Iraq is already precarious enough without fuel like this to add to the fire.
Not my solders. Oh god, why did they have to do this?
Deskmerc expressed enough anger for both of us, but what I'm left feeling is sadness. I just feel so utterly let down and betrayed by the handful of soldiers who have put an ugly, ugly dent in our nation's reputation.
Dear soldiers of Abu Ghraib prison,
I am an Army wife who values soldiers over just about anyone else. I jump to your defense against all complaints, emphasize your strengths over your weaknesses, and would defend your honor until the day I died.
And you repay me with this?
We have a job to do in Iraq, one that is hard and time-consuming and must be done center stage in front of the whole world. Do you understand that? The whole world is watching us, waiting for us to mess up so they can release the triumphant I told you so! they've been sitting on. No one is watching the insurgents, making sure they follow the rules and play nice; they're watching you. And you gave them exactly what they were hoping for.
You gave them a spectacle.
See, your stupid prank, your treating POWs like frat pledges, is going to have major repercussions. We're already feeling them here in Germany, when a German wife last night expressed her dismay at knowing she'll have to now work twice as hard to convince her family and neighbors that the Americans are working for good in Iraq. You see, the Germans love this story. I'm sure the French are thrilled as well. And the Arabs -- those backwards folks that we've insisted we're better than -- now have one up on us.
"This will increase the hatred of America, not just in Iraq but abroad. Even those who sympathized with the Americans before will stop. It is not just a picture of torture, it is degrading. It touches on morals and religion."
"Abu Ghraib prison was used for torture in Saddam's time. People will ask now what's the difference between Saddam and Bush. Nothing!," added Saudi commentator Dawoud al-Shiryan.
Do you see what you've done? I'm forced to agree with a Saudi that you are no better than Saddam. Do you understand how that makes me feel? Do you understand how badly you have let me down, let all Americans down?
In a just world you'd be made to make your own little naked pyramid, but instead you'll all go to jail to sit and think for a long time. In the meantime, the rest of our Army's soldiers -- those whose reputation you've sullied -- will have to work twice as hard to make up for the damage you've done. You betrayed your fellow soldiers and your country when you put fun and games ahead of your Army Values. And you betrayed this one Army wife, who might think twice next time before jumping to all solders' defense.
I hate you for that.
I very firmly believe that our media can easily sway public opinion with photographs. A few of us were talking yesterday about how we didn't like the cover photo on Friday's Stars and Stripes, which showed an American soldier leaning over one of the children killed in the mortar attack on Thursday. We shouldn't turn a blind eye to the real deaths this war is causing, but showing the soldier with the dead child seemed to ignore the fact that it was the insurgents' mortar that killed the children and not the Americans. A simple photo like that speaks volumes, sometimes putting fuel on the anti-war fire.
Mrs. du Toit posted a comparison of Life Magazine covers during WWII and Vietnam. The covers accurately reflect society's views on those two wars...or perhaps society's views reflected what was seen on the covers. Which caused which, the cover or the national mood?
James Hudnall's stepfather died recently, and James been going through bits and pieces of his stepfather's life.
I had a thought the other day about the letters I send to my husband. He's keeping all of them -- actually he said he already has too many to store under his cot and is mailing them all back to me -- and I figure we'll put them in a box or folder somewhere in our home. I started thinking about how my mother-in-law found a box of letters between her father and her grandfather, detailing her childhood, when her father passed away. I started to think that maybe someday my children will read the letters my husband and I wrote back and forth while he was in Iraq. And then I started to panic. Oh my goodness, I'd better watch my mouth in my letters! I better not send him anything I wouldn't want my grandchildren to read!
Would we be the same people we are if we knew our grandchildren were watching?