What's unusual about this weekend is how normal it's been. Wives say that sometimes their husbands are jumpier or quieter after they come home; Soldiers have to attend briefings about how hard re-integration will be. However, our re-integration has been shockingly boring. After my husband was home for an hour, it felt like he'd never been gone. The last nine months just disappeared. The only real difference is that we keep losing track of time because we're talking too much. Yesterday we tried to watch a movie, but we kept pausing it to talk, first about a scene in the movie, then about relationships, then about the military, and then about the deployment. Many wives say that their husbands don't like to tell stories about what has happened downrange, but once my husband saw that my reaction to a potentially scary story was cheering and praising him, other stories started to follow. We talked candidly about the good and bad things that have happened to him down in Iraq, and it wasn't weird at all. We also talked about whether he wants to stay in the Army longer than his required four years, a topic I wanted to hit on during R&R but didn't think we'd get to on the first day. We had a good talk about the advantages, ended with a "we'll decide next year", and finally turned the movie back on, two hours later.
Everything takes twice as long when you can't stop talking to each other!
He's in the shower now! He's been here 30 minutes and we can't talk fast enough. For some reason, we are trying to say everything right away. We've already raced through conversations about Parker and Stone, the presidential election, the median Iraqi age, our "new" stove (new since June), and how funny his hands look since they are about ten shades darker than his arms. And he's already had one beer...
My husband is arriving early now. For some reason, no one could find my phone number to call and let me know, but luckily one of my students was working staff duty. He just called me and said, "Hey Sarah, this is [last name]." I was wondering what in the heck he could want at 0630; I've had students call me with weird questions, but this was wild. The fact is that he was the only person who had my home phone number, so he called to let me know the husband's on the way. What a nice gesture!
Couldn't resist quoting this:
We may see some brief flicker of the insurgent flame yet, some last-ditch effort before Tuesday. If so it would be a good time to remember this: immediately after Al Qaeda castrated Spain with a few well-placed bombs the organization released a tape claiming the victory. That tape included this phrase: "You love life and we love death,." Anyone who ever served in the US Armed Forces knew the instant response to that, heard George C. Scott quote Patton, establishing the obvious common ground between American Forces and Al Qaeda corpses: "Your job is not to die for your country. Your job is to make the other poor bastard die for his country".
"You Love life, we love death"
The Marines will bring the love to Fallujah.
I woke up at 0400 and couldn't go back to sleep. I must be excited about something, but I can't figure out what it could be...
P.S. I never thought anything could make me laugh at 0430 like this clip did.
Right before he left, my husband got his smallpox shot. It was bandaged and still scabby when he deployed. I realized yesterday that he's had a new scar on his shoulder for nine months and I've never even seen it.
Two hundred fifty-eight days ago, I waved goodbye to my husband as his bus passed through the intersection by our house; tomorrow morning I will be waving as his bus pulls into brigade headquarters. I will spend two weeks stuffing him with beer, food, and love. I will sit by his side as we watch Futurama together. I will wait on him hand and foot. And I will kiss the new smallpox scar on his arm.
He'll be home in twelve hours.
Well ain't that a kick in the pants. Guess who's taking care of Arafat...
Dear President Bush,
I hope you're sleeping better than I have been lately. I bet you're about to OD on Tylenol PM! It doesn't help me much, so I lie in bed trying to think of anything other than 2 Nov, the Cardinals, or my husband. The Cardinals turned out to be a losing battle. I told my friend that it would just figure that the Cards would lose the World Series right when my husband gets home and he'd be in a really foul mood for the whole weekend! Hopefully seeing me after nine months can ease the pain...
I wish I could talk to you. You get such bullcrap thrown your way, and sometimes I worry about you. You won an award for best movie villan, which might be humorous if I weren't so naggingly sure that those people actually believe it. You get drawn as everything from Hitler to a special needs child, and if I feel the sting, I know you must too.
I just wish you could know that some of us out there really do care about you. We want you to win, because we think you've been a great leader in trying times. We want an aggressive leader who does what's right for the US and we've been behind you since 9/11. We're afraid of what happens if you don't win, but we're also slightly afraid of what happens if you do. There are some who have called for riots, lawsuits, and even for your assassination.
If you win, you have four more years of battle with the Islamobarbarians to look forward to. If you lose, you get a good nights sleep and the weight of the world lifted from your shoulders. I wish you could have both, but I'm afraid the former is more important right now. But with you as our president, both of us will sleep peacefully someday.
I wish you luck and tranquility in the coming week.
Get 'er done!!
P.S. The Cards may have lost, but Israel may win: is Arafat's death upon us? You know me...I'm baking a cake if it is!
BAGHDAD — Leaders and supporters of the anti-U.S. insurgency say their attacks in recent weeks have a clear objective: The greater the violence, the greater the chances that President Bush will be defeated on Tuesday and the Americans will go home.
Great. Thanks for giving them hope, Kerry/Edwards.
Slate is overwhelmingly supporting Kerry, but one writer conducted an experiment in empathy: he donned both Kerry/Edwards and Bush/Cheney gear and headed to where he'd find the most dissent. The result? Gee, what do you think?
Dear Blue 6,
You and I can both rest easy now: they finally got your absentee ballot today. Thank goodness I don't have to lie to you, which I was planning on doing if they didn't receive it! It's there and you're taken care of.
See you soon,
I'm a bundle of nerves these days. My husband might be coming home before the week is over. The Cardinals are sucking. And I'm absolutely freaking out over the presidential election. I realized that my stomach has been a jittery mess all day and I have these strange bumps on my arms and neck. What do hives look like?
This paragraph was the first thing to catch my eye:
Many writers, to be sure, have offered apologies for war. Under the title "Give war a chance", Edward Luttwak wrote in the Summer 1999 edition of Foreign Affairs, "Since the establishment of the United Nations, great powers have rarely let small wars burn themselves out. Bosnia and Kosovo are the latest examples of this meddling. Conflicts are interrupted by a steady stream of ceasefires and armistices that only postpone war-induced exhaustion and let belligerents rearm and regroup. Even worse are UN refugee-relief operations and NGOs [non-governmental organizations], which keep resentful populations festering in camps and sometimes supply both sides in armed conflicts. This well-intentioned interference only intensifies and prolongs struggles in the long run. The unpleasant truth is that war does have one useful function: it brings peace. Let it."
I won't even pretend to be a good history student -- it's always been my weakest subject -- but the article by Spengler that springboards from this quote is very interesting. (via The Corner)
I knew there was something rotten in Denmark about that "separate realities" PIPA poll. I really liked the title, and I certainly agree that hardcore Bush and Kerry supporters live in separate realities. But once I started reading the report, I realized that the different realities broke down into Bush = deluded Kerry = right. Sigh. Whenever the report pointed out how dumb Bush supporters are for believing something, I found myself thinking that, depending on how it was worded, I would've answered the same thing. And that's the crux of the report: depending on how it's worded. Joe Carter leads a discussion of adjectives and Xlrq addresses the misleading questions in the poll. I firmly believe we live in separate realities, but this report did absolutely nothing to illuminate these differences.
You know those moments when you're so sure that you know what the problem is that you spend hours chasing the wrong hypothesis? That's what was going on with my computer. My computer was blocking me out of only certain websites: Amazon, Hotmail, Blogspot, AKO, and Yahoo. My computer-knowing friend and I spent hours searching for viruses and trying to get the computer to recognize the certificate. When we had tested everything we could think of, my friend came up with one last-ditch plan: unhook the router. Bingo. All this time, the problem was the router and not the computer. It was a forehead-slapping moment; we started with a hypothesis that was too narrow. We assumed that it was a certificate problem, but we had assumed wrong. It was shades of motorcycle maintenance.
It was progress, to figure out that the problem was the router and not the computer, but it was progress that came with the price of nearly five hours of faulty assumptions. But at least now we can start focusing on the right source of the problem. My computer tech knowledge has grown exponentially, which means I'm only half-a-moron now, and I've decided that having a computer is about as much work as having a pet.
But at least now I can check my email and read blogspot blogs again!
Apparently there's some talk about whether to permanently assign support units including women to combat units. I am not a big fan of this idea. It has nothing to do with an aversion to women in combat; since I don't think that a woman's life is any more valuable than a man's life, I have no problem with women dying in war. However, I do have a nagging feeling about the effect that women have had on the military.
After reading The Kinder, Gentler Military: How Political Correctness Affects Our Ability to Win Wars, I gave up any notion that I should be a 19K. (I still would like to, but I don't think I should be allowed to.) I still argue with myself about what I think the role of women in our military should be, and my mind isn't completely made up. But there's a big problem coming out of OIF that doesn't have a solution: lust.
I almost typed love, but that's probably not right. I think what happens downrange is closer to what happens on The Real World or The Bachelor, where two people who are put in close quarters and extraordinary situations become convinced that they're in love. And when men and women are serving together, away from their families, for over a year, they bond in ways that alarm those of us back on the homefront. I have a few friends who work in our legal center, and they deal on a daily basis with divorces that stem from deployment. Sometimes the soldiers meet someone new downrange -- sometimes even getting her pregnant -- and they come back and kick their wives out. Sometimes soldiers get caught having sex when they're supposed to be on guard duty, which is dangerous to everyone they're supposed to be guarding.
There are only two or three females on my husband's entire camp in Iraq, and I prefer it that way. I don't think my husband would be interested in straying -- heck, I had to drag his disgusted-with-girls butt into the relationship in the first place -- but there are many men who might be tempted. And believe me, I'm not blind to the fact that it's a two-way street: the wives who are left behind are surrounded by temptation every day, and many of them ain't that virtuous.
The mixing of the sexes is hard for today's military, especially for hooah males in a PC culture. But sending men and women downrange together for a year has consequences, especially when soldiers only call their families once a month. I personally don't think we need more fuel on that fire.
Here's another story about my brother. Back in the day, he had a little 8th grade girlfriend who was new to town. She said her father was a doctor and that they were building a new home, and she and my brother would ride their bikes by the construction site. She said she was a catalog model and had made lots of money doing photo shoots. And none of it was true. She lived in a small house with just her mom and had never been a model. My brother was pretty freaked out when the truth came out.
I've never forgotten this girl; I think of her often when I wonder about people who lie. I wonder what made her say these things. We all tell white lies to avoid hurting people's feelings, and we may exaggerate the truth a bit to make a story more fantastic, but repeated fabrication and lies and shifting the blame is cause for concern. Did this little girlfriend get so wrapped up in the fantasy world that she didn't know she was a liar, or was she just trying so hard to get people to like her that she'd say whatever she thought they'd like to hear? Either way is frightening.
John Kerry, as far as anyone can tell, hasn't fired a shotgun at a bird in many years, if ever. While it is possible that he might nevertheless luck out and hit a goose, the odds are heavily against it. Yet there is something about Kerry that requires him to distort reality to fit his own conception of himself: he ran in the Boston marathon; he never falls down while snowboarding unless a Secret Service agent knocks him over; he can't stand to walk across a patch of tarmac without pulling out a football; when he threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park and it landed half-way to home plate, it was the fault of the National Guardsman who was supposed to catch it, because the Guardsman was nervous; he had the biggest buck in the history of Massachusetts in his sights but didn't pull the trigger. And now, he shot a goose. Only, where is it?
This would be an alarming personality trait even if Kerry's fantasies were limited to sporting triumphs. But the Walter Mitty candidate doesn't stop there. When a candidate for President makes up non-existent secret missions to Cambodia, testifies before Congress of "war crimes" of which, it turns out, he has no knowledge, and fantasizes support from foreign powers which will magically change their perceptions of their own self-interest if only John F. Kerry were President, Walter Mitty is no longer funny.
A terrorist is registered to vote. A terrorist is registered to vote!
You know who's not registered to vote? My brother. He registered in his college town back when he was in school, and he procrastinated and didn't leave himself enough time to re-register in his new city. He figured he'd just have to drive back to his college town on 2 Nov, but when he called the board of elections, they told him they'd removed him from the list. Apparently they sent him something in the mail that he didn't reply to, so they crossed him off. So now he can't vote.
Michelle Malkin reports that many states have trouble removing the names of people who have died or moved away, and that that voter list can often dwarf the population count. Illinois was sure quick to remove my brother though.
So a terrorist will be voting, but my brother will not.
Why oh freaking why don't we have to provide identification when we register to vote? At many places you have to show an ID to check into a hotel or rent a movie. (Hell, I have to show ID to Soldiers with M16s when I want to buy groceries; ID is just a way of life for us.) In the US, a driver's license is proof that you're who you say you are, and at least in Illinois, if you don't drive, the DMV will make you a valid ID card instead. No one is disenfranchised. No one is discriminated against if they don't drive. And no freaking illegal alien terrorists will end up on the lists!
Every poll known to man shows Bush ahead right now, but I ain't sleepin' easy when Mary Poppins and Nuradin Abdi are registered to vote.
You should check out this article that Hud links to. I mean, everyone else should too, but for some reason I kept wondering what Bunker would make of it. Interesting stuff.
Everything about this article, even the title, cracked me up.
Polite society anticipates Teresa's pizazz
(via my husband...we had a great time laughing at the article over IM)
Let's knock this crap off that "this is the most important election in our lifetimes"; they are all important. Just vote. Do a reasonably good job of knowing the issues, accept people who take a different view than you and then go take up rock polishing or go knit sweaters for the other 23 months in between the election season. Let's all go find a hobbies to keep us busy for Gods' sake.
Do blankets count? I've knitted a couple of those lately.
My husband's best friend is on R&R now, so I got to call him in NY and talk for a while yesterday. He's doing really well and is having a wonderful time. He said everyone was really nice in the airports and that he's so happy to be home. He's already seen Team America too! I asked him a lot of questions about how it feels to be away from the responsibility of being PL, if his time feels like it's going fast or slow, and whether he's paying any attention to the news while he's home. I told him about my election fears, and he laughed at me. He's confident as all get-out right now, and he teased me about being so freaked out. I sure do hope he's right.
The wealth of knowledge that's out there is one of the things I love about the blogosphere. Smash asks a question about Arabic, and a reader responds. I mention a fallen Soldier, and his friends and family all add their thoughts. And I ask for help on superheroes, and a faithful reader comes to my rescue:
Although Nietzsche invented the word "Übermensch," it's a word, not a character. Superman's creators Siegel and Shuster were not educated men, so it's unlikely that they knew much about Nietzsche.
OTOH, it is highly likely that Siegel and Shuster were heavily influenced by a 1930 Philip Wylie novel called GLADIATOR:
"The parallels are obvious: Both Hugo Danner and Clark Kent grow up in rural small-town America, possessing powers far beyond the common mortal; both are imbued, from an early age, with a profound sense of fairness and justice; and they hide their respective secrets from the world at large. The resemblance is even more obvious when you consider the original 1930s conception of Superman [which was far weaker than later incarnations of the character]. Their powers are the same: great strength, skin so tough that it can withstand just about anything short of an explosive artillery shell, and the ability to jump so high and so far that it almost gives the impression of flight. And both, despite their superhuman status, espouse a political philosophy that celebrates the common human being over capitalist elites."
[The early Superman has been described as a super-FDR - a costumed socialist activist. This political aspect was gone by the time the character attained iconic status in the 40s.]
Nonetheless, the superhero concept as we know it today was invented by Siegel and Shuster. The individual ingredients (superpowers, costume, secret identity) had all been done before, but it was S&S that combined them into a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Some claim that gods and demigod heroes like Hercules were the first "superheroes," but they lack the total package embodied by Superman.
There's a new book that I'm going to try to buy ASAP, MEN OF TOMORROW, that goes into detail about the birth of the superhero genre. What excites me about the book is that it's the first history of comics to look into the Jewish roots of the majority of American superhero creators. The children of Yiddish-speaking immigrants created icons for all Americans - and the world. The Nazis hated the American Superman because he was the creation of Jews.
My husband is the happiest man in Iraq right now.
MORE TO GROK:
My mother-in-law emailed a Cardinals representative last week and the woman called her back. They talked a bit, and then the woman passed on the fact that there are two brothers in Iraq who are definitely rooting for the Cards. Legend has it that Pujols said that he would hit a homer for the boys...and his first at bat was a homer. Not too shabby.
A girl I know found out three days before our husbands left that she was pregnant. She just gave birth to a little baby boy last week. An entire person has gestated in the time that our Soldiers have been away from home.
My husband has been at war for over nine months.
Last night I watched Courage Under Fire again. I haven't seen it since that day in ROTC, and I was reminded of what drew me to the movie in the first place: it was the day I knew I wanted to be an Army wife. I wanted to take care of a Soldier, through good times and bad, and support him as he served our great country. I wanted to try my best to be a combat multiplier during difficult times and to do my small part to sacrifice for what I believe in. I figured I could do a better job than Denzel's wife in the movie.
Of course, I already had my Soldier picked out.
Truthfully, these nine months have been surprisingly fast and relatively painlessly. There are times that are nervewracking and times that are lonely, but for the most part the deployment has been easier than I expected. Of course, the fact that I support the mission has been a big help: I suppose being a war cheerleader is a good quality when your husband is at war.
There's a nasty rumor going around that my husband is coming home on R&R sometime next week. I won't believe it until I catch a whiff of motor pool and Iraq funk in our home, but I've started getting emotionally ready for his visit. I'm anxious to catch up on the last nine months of his life, for conversations have been few and far between. I'm ready to put my combat multiplier skills back to use in a face-to-face setting.
I hope my husband gives me a good NCOER.
My email is really backed up, so I'm wading through all of the links.
I feel so sorry for that girl.
I keep calling MO and my husband's absentee ballot still hasn't arrived. The woman who works in the office has been great, and we've been discussing different options to make sure that he can vote. But I'm getting nervous!
I hope these people are right!
I finally got to see Spiderman 2 tonight. I loved it.
The scene in the subway train was one of the most moving things I've seen in a long time.
To me, there's nothing more American than a superhero, an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances who struggles to do what's right no matter what the cost. Superman is of course my favorite, but Spiderman is very dear to my heart as well. I'm ignorant as to the origins of the comic book superheroes; maybe some of my comic-knowing readers can help me: are superheroes American in origin?
I will be surprised if they aren't.
My husband just pointed out this new Onion article.
He wasn't that amused. "I get the parody," he said, "but it's a little sensitive for me."
I thought it was in appallingly bad taste.
I'm still upset from earlier today. I tried to read about the laser beam and refocus, but I just couldn't do it. Part of the reason is because I'm worried about our country's laser beam.
I haven't allowed myself to get confident about the election. In fact, I'm pretty freaking scared. I don't care about what the polls say; I'm freaked out about what happens on 2 November. I keep thinking about what Whittle said:
I fear the consequences of abandoning personal responsibility. I fear the self-hatred and nihilism that grows among the pampered, the narcissistic and the uninformed. These are things to be feared greatly. They have brought down entire civilizations and led to dark ages that have cost this species very dearly. I think we stand at such a point today, and this election -- win or lose -- will not determine the outcome...although it might give us some indication of how sick or healthy we are at this pivotal moment in history.
I fear that my blog-reading has insulated me from just how sick our country is right now. I surround myself with informed people who understand that we're in a post-9/11 world, so I was completely taken aback when someone spouted DU-esque nonsense about how the war in Iraq is a distraction (oh wait, that's not just from the DU; the Democrat candidate says the same thing.) And I'm afraid that there are a lot more like that out there.
And I have seen the eternal Idiotarian hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.
We need to win this election. I know our country has survived worse, but we are at a crossroads and we need to take the right path. I'm not confident at all that we will. I hope I'm wrong.
If you're interested, here's a long article on LT A. (Recap: LT A is our friend who was seriously injured in Mosul in August.)
MORE TO GROK:
I printed out this article at work and mentioned to my co-workers how amazing I thought it was that LT A intends to stay in the Army despite his injuries. They retorted that he must be really brainwashed, that he wasn't "fighting for his country" but for lies, and that someday I would see just how brainwashed people like my husband really are. I had to leave the office, I was so disgusted. I can't believe someone would say that to my face, completely unprovoked. I'm proud of our friend for standing up for what he believes in; if they disagree, they can politely nod and keep their opinions to themselves, like I do all the freaking time here at work. What is wrong with these people?
Nope, still seething over an hour later. Where's the puppy photo?
Baldilocks gives more examples of those who are Americans in spirit and those whose spirits are unaffiliated.
All I wanted to say in response to Greyhawk's vote was HOOAH, but his comments section wouldn't allow it! Now that's a glitch worth looking into: a milblog where you can't say hooah...
Is it just me, or does this look like it could be the cover of an REM album?
Awesome! If Bush is your man, you'll like When The Man Comes Around. (via LGF)
Chapter 13: Classification/Division starts with Act 2 from Shakespeare's As You Like It, the "all the world's a stage" monologue. The following is a "question on meaning and technique":
4. What characteristics typify the soldier? Are these characteristics typical of soldiers today? Why or why not?
OK, here's what Shakespeare wrote:
Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the 'pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth.
Maybe someone else can help me decipher that, because I am not completely sure what the heck the old bard was saying. I've never been a huge Shakespeare fan. The reason I even stumbled across this question is because I absentmindedly flipped open the instructor's manual during breakfast last week and found the jaw-dropper sample response to what typifies a soldier. This is the instructor's manual answer to question #4:
The soldier is swaggeringly masculine, wearing a bristly beard and uttering swear words. He is also ambitious to earn some honor on the battlefield, even if doing so means death. Yes, soldiers today--especially regiments like the marines--are seen as having considerable "machismo." However, many young people today hate the army because it represents war, which is no longer a chance for honor but rather for annihilation of the human race.
You have to learn to laugh at stuff like that...otherwise you'll cry your eyes out.
I hate this f-ing textbook.
My stats class is officially over. Contrary to internet prediction, I kicked ass.
My test scores: 98, 96, 93, and 96%.
And I still don't have any faith in opinion polling.
I went to Poland on Saturday. At one store, they were selling commemorative plates with George Bush and John Kerry on them, for some bizarre reason. One of them will be worth bupkis in a few weeks.
We also had a comical moment when we tried to go to a Polish grocery store. Apparently you can't go into the store carrying any bags, because a security guard came chasing after us as soon as we walked in. As he barked at us, we looked at him and said, "English? Deutsch?" Apparently he didn't speak either, but he decided to help us out by speaking in v-e-r-y slow Polish. Ha.
I've heard people scoff at the idea that the terrorists want Kerry to win. Well, here's interesting take on some people who have been listening to Kerry. (Thanks, Hud.)
There's a new website dedicated to SGT Prewitt if you'd like to pay your respects to one of our fallen Soldiers.
I've talked to Europeans in the States who hate feeling rushed at American restaurants. I'm so deeply American that I can't really feel their pain, because I really don't like lounging around in restaurants all night. Even people here will applaud the slow pace at German restaurants and say that they enjoy not being rushed out the door right after dinner, but I still haven't gotten over the feeling of "wasting time" during a German meal.
I read, with intense envy, Varifrank's details of his weekend. I was beside myself as I imagined an evening of a Mexican restaurant, Barnes and Noble, Starbucks, and a grocery store. All after 1800 -- that's madness. But the timeline for his dinner struck me. They arrived at 1830 and got out of there at 2100, and because they had to wait so long, their dinner was free. Hoo boy. I go to dinner here every Friday night at about 1830, and we never get out of there before 2100. Usually there's only one or two other tables occupied there, and there's never a rush. Except for on my part: I usually get up and go get the menus myself.
Now before Oda Mae feels slighted, since she's one of the people I eat with every week, I must say that it's not that I don't mind the company. I enjoy talking with friends I only see once a week. But I always feel this feeling of stress about wasting time. I feel like we're waiting too long in between Necessary Dinner Actions.
Back in the States, I have on occasion paid the bill and sat there for a while longer. That's enjoyable, because you're done with all Dinner Actions, but you've decided you're not ready to leave yet. Here, as soon as we pay the bill, it's like I can't get out of the building fast enough, because we've already waited about 45 minutes to pay the bill. I feel like we wait an eternity to Get Menus, Place Orders, and Pay the Bill. I'm constantly trying to flag the waiter down so we can pay. It's not relaxing for me. I don't feel like we are in charge of our eating pace, the restaurant is, and so I feel enslaved to the waiter's time schedule. (The word "enslaved" sounds pretty intense, but I can't think of a better way to express the feeling of impatience and frustration I feel trying to get a German waiter to notice me.)
I know there are plenty of Americans who enjoy this type of eating experience, so take what I say with a grain of salt. But it drives me crazy. One night my mom suggested we go "grab a bite to eat" when she was visiting, and I cracked up. There's no such thing here, and I always feel stressed when we spend hours at the dinner table.
And don't even get me started on Varifrank's midnight trip to the grocery store...sigh.
Deskmerc also has a problem with people whose only knowledge of the military comes from movies. He comments on the absurdity -- both militarily and socially -- of the following nutjob quote:
Next group will be smarter, don't go to jail for 5 years, just take out the lieutenant
Boy howdy. Soldiers are requesting spots in my husband's platoon, which must mean they like their PL and PSG. But anyone who took out my lieutenant would have to answer to me after he answered to the Army.
My friend just emailed me and pointed out that one of the Team America characters is named Sarah.
Excellent. Thank you, Matt and Trey!
Paranoid as I am, I called to see if our absentee ballots have made it to Missouri. Mine is there safe and sound; the husband's is not there yet, but it has further to travel. I'll call back next week for another update.
We often get soldiers from different countries around here because of the training area. Right now there are a bunch of Belgians here on our post. I was surprised to hear French in line behind me at the commissary, but I wasn't surprised at their purchase; they were stocking up on the two things you can't get in Belgium: peanut butter and barbecue sauce. Hilarious.
Mr Kehoe said that work to uncover graves around Iraq, where about 300,000 people are thought to have been killed during Saddam Hussein's regime, was slow as experienced European investigators were not taking part.
The Europeans, he said, were staying away as the evidence might be used eventually to put Saddam Hussein to death.
"We're trying to meet international standards that have been accepted by courts throughout the world," he added.
These are the people we're supposed to worry don't support us? I would be ashamed if they did approve of us.
Toddlers clutching toys. We did the right thing.
I've you've ever had a conversation with a European, you'll appreciate reading The Secret Weapon.
I'm not in the military myself, but at least I know how to talk about it like I'm a normal person. Twice in the past 24 hours, I've found myself laughing at perceptions of the military.
I saw most of Smallville Season 2 when it was on AFN last year, but I borrowed the DVDs from the library and have been filling in the gaps. One character joined the Marines, and they've woven that storyline into the regular Smallville stuff. In this one episode, he came back and entered Smallville High in his uniform. He walked down the hallway, slow-mo style, in his Marine uniform and dramatically took off his cover right as Lana Lang threw her arms around him. I literally laughed out loud. It was the cheesiest thing ever. He got deployed to Indonesia? What is that about? What a silly storyline.
I think it's hilarious that I can completely accept that a girl could have meteor rocks on her spine that make her able to transform into other people's body shapes, but the fact that a Marine enters a building and doesn't remove his cover makes me seethe with anger at how unrealistic it is. How come when TV shows have a military theme, it's always over-the-top generic? "Whitney is missing in action!" "He got shipped out this morning." "I can't believe he just finished Basic Training and then got shipped off to war." It all sounds so cheesy and irritating.
Then today I made the time-wasting mistake of reading Hud's link to who certain novelists are voting for. What a bunch of rambling nonsense. My favorite came from someone named David Amsden. No wonder he's voting for Kerry; they both confuse the heck out of me!
I'm voting for John Kerry. This will be my first foray into the voting booth, actually—for the most part I find politics alienating, difficult to process. I'll save the bulk of my anti-Bush rant for late-night bar chatter, and simply say that a cousin of mine spent a year fighting with the Army in Iraq. He was a harder man when he returned, tweaked, difficult to relate to. His stories were crushing—did you know that there are giant spiders that creep up on sleeping soliders at night? That this is the sort of thing that causes nightmares, even more than random mortar fire?—and didn't exactly bring hope that anyone understands what's going on over there. Does Bush care about any of this, the nuanced ways his global policies affect individuals—how this, really, in the end, is what politics is all about? Yeah, I believe he does, but I don't think he's got the gumption to talk about it—or, for that matter, anything—honestly. For all his swaggering bravado, the guy has no real backbone, no confidence in anything but his squinty little grin, which is frightening.
But why Kerry, aside from his status as Democratic Other Guy, which, frankly, would be enough for me this year? Well, I like his stoicism—he seems smart, and serious, and sort of boring, and exactly like the kind of man I can't relate to, which is what I want from a leader. I don't understand why we're so keen on having someone who seems cool and perfectly personable—I have friends for that, late-night TV, strangers in parks. Really, though, the clincher came when I stumbled across some excerpts of Kerry's Vietnam journals. I couldn't help but think: the writing, the writing, the writing. It was hard and real and surprisingly beautiful, which, for me, was something I could believe in.
Um, what? Bush doesn't care about these people, well ok maybe he does. Maybe he cared for them before he didn't care for them. I love the plug for Kerry: Vote for Kerry! He's boring! And you can't relate to him either!
The stuff about the spider killed me though. That's the kind of stuff that someone who is completely out of touch with what's going on downrange gets worked up about. Did you hear the Soldiers are changed when they get home? No, man, they have to deal with spiders. Real big ones. It's like life-changing, man. At least that's what my cousin told me. Yeah, when he shipped out.
Most of the time I feel like a poser when I talk about the military, but when a novelist who writes about cokeheads and Playmates weighs in on the military, it makes me laugh.
I'm having computer problems, so I might be offline for a day or two. However, if you want to see what freedom looks like, if you want to see the most exciting photo I've seen in a long time, visit Smash.
A nuisance? A nuisance? Terrorism is a nuisance?
How could anyone in this country vote for this man?
I wanted him to walk again someday. And I really believed he would.
I think it's extraordinarily weird when people develop strong emotional ties to celebrities. There are actors I think are really talented, and there are celeb crushes I had when I was a kid, but no celebrity could really hit me on an emotional level.
Well, except for one.
Many of you already know my family's fascination with Superman. We watched all of the movies when I was a kid, and Superman was our hero. We had Superman birthday cakes and Superman pajamas. And we loved Superman because he reminded us of our father. My dad doesn't look exactly like Christopher Reeve, but the resemblance was striking enough. My father also alternated between glasses and contacts, so we called him Clark Kent and we bought him a SuperDad shirt.
Superman stands for everything that I think is good: truth, justice, and the American way. He represents integrity, fortitude, and honor. Lois Lane was the ambulance chaser; Clark was the honest and respectful one. Superman embodied all that I admire in a man.
When Christopher Reeve was injured in 1995, he worried that people would laugh: Superman was now paralyzed. But he never stopped being my Superman. I looked at him in that wheelchair and I saw a father-figure, someone we had idolized as children who now had to put all of his Superman qualities to the test. And I truly believed he would walk again. I knew he had it in his heart. And I'm crushed that he ran out of time.
So I spent the first few hours of my birthday crying for a celebrity. Ridiculous, I know, but he's the only one who mattered to me. Throughout my childhood, he represented everything that was perfect in man; throughout my adulthood, he represented struggling with imperfection. I cared very deeply for this man, and my heart is aching.
In his book Still Me, he laid out perfectly how I felt about him:
During my stay in Hollywood I entered hotels and buildings through garages, kitchens, and service elevators, and met cooks, waiters, chambermaids, and maintenance crews. Many of them said that they were praying for me. Others looked me right in the eye and said, "We love you, Superman. You're our hero." At first I couldn't believe they meant it. Then I realized they were looking past the chair and honoring me for a role that obviously had real meaning for them. I didn't feel patronized in any way. Clearly a part I had played twenty years before was still valued. The fact that I was in a wheelchair, unable to move below my shoulders, and dependent on the support of others for almost every aspect of my daily life had not diminished the fact that I was--and always would be--their Superman.
One unfortunate side effect of the Bush=Hitler meme is that we can no longer look at Hitler without comparing him to Bush. We can't read about WWII and think of the horrors of those years without the knee-jerk satisfaction of how not-Hitler Bush really is. Lileks did it today:
In Klemperer’s book there’s an anecdote about a professor who is talking with some colleagues, telling jokes. Hitler goes to heaven. He talks to Moses, and says so, you can tell me. You set the bush on fire yourself, didn’t you?
He’s reported. He goes to prison for ten months.
And, as Klemperer notes, he was “an Aryan.”
Ah, but don’t we have the Big Lie? The WMD debacle? This is one of those things that makes me just turn off the radio or TV or hit the back button or whatever it takes to decamp.
I did it with Stalin back when I was reading The Gulag Archipelago:
I dare anyone who thinks the Patriot Act is killing democracy to read this book, where the first person to stop clapping at a tribute to Comrade Stalin, after 11 minutes of straight clapping, was sent to the gulag. Or the woman who happened to walk past a truck full of bodies. Or the man who had doodled on a newspaper photo of Stalin. All of them gone.
It's a crying shame that I can't visit a concentration camp without the smug satisfaction that today's Bush-haters have no idea what they're talking about. I don't want to think about Bush at a concentration camp. I don't even want the Bush=Hitler thought anywhere near my head, because it's completely demeaning to the real people of that era who died for nothing. I've seen a lamp made out of Jewish skin; how DARE anyone make that comparison to President Bush.
It's disgusting, and I'm disgusted that every time Hitler comes up, we find mental ways to disassociate him with Bush. I think that's revolting.
My mother-in-law is right; this doesn't really go anywhere. I figured it doesn't fit sandwiched between two memorials, but since when do our ups and downs every fit nicely? Here's the comment she left:
I was not sure where to insert this but for all of you out there who follow Sarah, October 11 is her birthday. A big HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Hopefully the next one will be with your special someone.
MORE TO GROK:
You know what's a good surprise? When the phone rings and you hear that long delay that only comes from Iraq. Only it's not your husband; it's one of the Soldiers you write letters to, your best friend's husband, calling to wish you a happy birthday. Wonderful surprise.
It seems I'm still getting visitors looking for information about SGT Tyler Prewitt. If you are a friend of his, you can read about how I knew him, my thoughts on his memorial, and the Stars and Stripes newspaper coverage of his memorial. He will not be forgotten.
Oh MAN am I jealous! Hud got to see Team America! Many soldiers down in Iraq have been going nuts buying bootleg DVDs, but my husband and I haven't gotten into that. However, I told him that he must buy Team America if he sees it because I'm afraid I might not see it here otherwise. Of course I'll buy the official copy when it comes out, since I'm a firm believer in putting as much money as possible into Parker and Stone's pockets, but I don't want to have to wait until next year to see it. I can barely wait as it is!
As I was reading VDH's blurb about the debate, I had a thought. Kerry keeps repeating "I have a plan..."; I think he should switch over and go with "I have a dream...". Think about it: it's catchy, it's chock-full of symbolism, and it much better fits his ridiculous theories and vague projections about how the world would work under his presidency.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "I'm an internationalist. I'd like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Paris the sons of former neo-cons and the sons of former Iranian nuclear bomb makers will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood filled with allies from all different nations, and by all different nations I mean France and Germany. I have a dream that one day even the United States, a police state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice, not unlike North Vietnam was when I met with the Vietcong in 1971. I have a dream that my two children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the orangey color of their skin but by the content of their briefcases, which is where they keep their lucky hats. I have a dream today.
Excellent news out of Australia!
Now we just need some good news of our own in November!
Every time I watch the news on TV, I remember why I hate watching the news on TV. I just watched the end of the rerun of the presidential debate, and I wanted to drop a 'bow in Tom Brokaw's face. What on earth is wrong with these news anchors who think that the appropriate way to phrase a question is "Well, my guess is that the majority of Democrats think that President Bush is a complete moron who may possibly still wet the bed. Your thoughts, Karen Hughes?" OK, so it wasn't that bad, but Brokaw might as well have substituted "I think President Bush has lost credibility" instead of pinning his biased and speculative nonsense on the "majority of Democrats." Ugh, I'm staying away from the TV for a while.
I agree with Greyhawk that it's time to reevaluate the Combat Infantryman's Badge.
Oh, crap. I'm still not used to the Gazette's new format with ten billion authors. My deepest apologies to John of Argghhh! for misatributing his work. In fact, I agree with John, since he was the one who wrote this post. I also loved Grim's anecdote in the comments section:
So I showed my wife this picture you lead off with tonight, hoping to teach her about the injustice you cite.
Pointing at the three guys sweeping the area with their rifles, I said, "Dear, do these look like infantry or cavalry to you?"
"Cavalry," she said.
"Really?" I asked. "What makes you say that?"
"Well, look how short they are!" she answered.
Heh. Pixy thinks a good indicator of who is going to win the election is the betting odds!
In the comments section below, Manny wrote the following defense of voting for Kerry:
With Bush it seems that we will get just more of the same. If you like that then I imagine you will vote for him. But with Kerry we may get something better. There are no guarantees but Kerry is certainly not the ogre of the negative campaign.
However, since the first debate, bloggers have been pointing out how Kerry's plans have already failed. Wretchard wrote about how The Global Test already didn't work for us, and CavX addressed the "allies at the table", Iran, and North Korea. I'm not sure I agree that we "may get something better", since Kerry's suggestions seem to be falling apart even before we get to 2 November.
Here's the Stars and Stripes coverage of SGT Tyler Prewitt's memorial service.
My mom got an email forward from a friend about The Impending Draft. The email is so laughable that it's not even worth fisking. It includes all the talking points -- Ready Reserves, North Korea, "I have a son in college" -- and is quite ridiculous. But the more I looked at it, the more I thought, heck, I'll sign a petition against the draft; I don't want any un-trained, un-motivated, spolied kids who don't want to be there having to back my husband up out on missions. I only want Soldiers and Marines who have volunteered to serve this great country of ours out there fighting, not immature brats (you know, like John Kerry was back when he was declined for a deferment in Vietnam and then went on to make home movies about his heroism.)
So I clicked on the link to the petition. Heh. It's not a petition against the draft; it's a petition to Demand Honesty. The aim?
I demand to know how George Bush plans to guard the homeland, protect against threats abroad, and stabilize and occupy Iraq -- without resorting to a draft.
Yes, we need troops to fight in Iraq. We need lots of them. Many of my students are leaving in January for their second year in Iraq, and of course that sucks. But I've listened to John Kerry -- god help me -- and I don't see how his plan is going to require any less boots on the ground.
Kerry said in the debate last week:
That's why, in my plan, I add two active duty divisions to the United States Army, not for Iraq, but for our general demands across the globe. I also intend to double the number of special forces so that we can do the job we need to do with respect fighting the terrorists around the world. And if we do that, then we have the ability to be able to respond more rapidly.
Two active duty divisions is an addition of roughly 40,000 people. Where are they going to come from? More active recruitment? Tell that to Michael Moore, Kerry; since you parrot him on other issues, you might want to review his segment on the recruiting Marines. (Oh, and the money will come from cutting crucial defense systems and weapons programs. Way to go, Kerry.)
Kerry has also disingenuously suggested that he would start pulling troops out of Iraq in January. What he specified in the debate last week though was
I didn‘t say I would bring troops out in six months. I said, if we do the things that I‘ve set out and we are successful, we could begin to draw the troops down in six months.
And the thing he's "set out" is to bring more allies to the table to share the load in Iraq. The problem is that he keeps repeating that, knowing full well that Allies Not in Formation on Kerry's Troops Plan: Nations have a hard time supporting his proposal to use their soldiers to fill out the force in Iraq:
"Some Europeans are rather concerned that Mr. Kerry might have expectations for relief [from abroad] that are going to be hard to meet," said one senior European diplomat in a statement echoed in several capitals.
The French and German governments have made clear that sending troops is out of the question. British officials have made no such categorical statement, but they have expressed concern that their troops are overstretched.
Although Japan has supplied a 550-member noncombat force as a symbol of its international commitment, analysts there see little chance the nation would agree to send more.
Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Andrei Denisov, ruled out a commitment of troops. "We are not going to send anybody there, and that's all there is to say," Denisov said.
So Kerry is simply smoking crack if he thinks that he's going to get allied forces to replace our troops on the ground. There won't be anyone replacing the troops already there, so his plan won't work. It's all bogus. (And I think he knows it too, but that's a story for another day.)
Kerry also said during the debate that he would support sending troops to Darfur, Sudan if needed:
Right now all the president is providing is humanitarian support. We need to do more than that. They‘ve got to have the logistical capacity to go in and stop the killing. And that‘s going to require more than is on the table today.
But I‘ll tell you this, as president, if it took American forces to some degree to coalesce the African Union, I‘d be prepared to do it because we could never allow another Rwanda.
So our troops do not seem to be more likely to be in garrison (that means staying at their home bases) if Kerry is elected. That's a misrepresentation on his party's side. Kerry's plan -- only leaving Iraq if we're replaced by other allies, deploying to Sudan if necessary -- is not a benefit for our troops. It will not reduce the number of deployments or make extra soldiers or Marines any less necessary.
Maybe we should also be worrying that Kerry might need a draft. After all, it was two Democrats who initiated the draft legislation in the first place...the same legislation, I might add, that was voted down 402-2.
There's not going to be a draft. The last thing anyone who cares at all about the American military wants are ungrateful punks ending up in the ranks. Let the adults handle the job of defending America; the frat boys and hippies can stay at home.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
And so here's my problem. I find myself in an enormous conflict between Roark and CavX.
Roark's philosophy was not that he was going to try to get others to see architecture the way he did. He just kinda thought you were born with it. If you saw things his way, you had common ground. If not, he didn't want to have anything to do with you. Not in a rude way, but in a matter-of-fact, we-have-nothing-to-discuss way.
On the other hand, CavX, through patient perseverance, has managed to covert many lefties that he works with. He lays out the facts, over and over, until the people admit that there can just be no other way of looking at things. And they're won over; CavX has created right-wingers.
So which way is right?
Lots of people thought that President Bush lost the debate last week. They say he's a horrible debater (whereas Kerry appears to be a Master Debater. Sorry, couldn't resist.) But I understand completely where President Bush is coming from: he's Roarkian. I imagine that Pres. Bush was wondering why on earth he had to debate Kerry -- a man who spends most of his time debating himself on the issues -- to prove that he'd be a good President. I imagine he thinks that if his track record doesn't speak for itself, then what else can he say? If you have no common ground at all, where do you begin? The Bush Doctrine has liberated two countries, forced Libya to disarm, unraveled the enormous Oil-For-Food scam, and brought the hope of democracy to millions of people; if he has to sit down and explain to you why that's good, then what's the point? That's why he looked like he was "smirking" during the debate; it pains him, just as it pains me, to hear the string of nonsense that comes of of Kerry's mouth. He tries, but he just can't understand the way Kerry looks at the world. I completely understand that, for that's the reason I have spent a year trying to grok. These things are self-evident to me and to President Bush; if a majority of Americans and voters can't see that, then maybe they don't deserve to have him as their president.
I admire CavX's style, because it's so unlike the way I think. He's methodical and patient; I fly off the handle and want to either rip heads off or end the conversation. I wish I had his skills of persuasion; then maybe my co-workers would stop trying to convince me that Bush is bad.
Which brings us full circle to The Draft. When we get emails like this, or when our co-workers praise Fahrencrap 9/11, what is the proper response? I can't help but think of a passage from The Demon-Haunted World:
Imagine that you enter a big-city taxicab and the moment you get settled in, the driver begins a harangue about the supposed inequities and inferiorities of another ethnic group. Is your best course to keep quiet, bearing in mind that silence conveys assent? Or is it your moral responsibility to argue with him, to express outrage, even to leave the cab -- because you know that every silent assent will encourage him next time, and every vigorous dissent will cause him next time to think twice?
Sagan ends this section with "Figuring out a prudent balance takes wisdom." I just don't know what to think anymore. On the one hand, I think that some people will never see what I see, no matter how articulately I might lay it out, and it's not worth my sanity to try to beat them over the head with Truth. On the other hand, people are going to be voting next month based on bullcrap like this email forward on the draft, and unless we make a serious effort to counter the media and the junk science, we run the risk of losing President Bush.
If that happened, he would likely go home shaking his head, wondering why people just couldn't see what he saw. He shouldn't have to sugarcoat two toppled regimes and almost the whole deck of cards out of the picture.
My ballot is already in the mail; it's a bit late to be thinking about this topic. But who are we going to be over the next three weeks, Roark or CavX?
Apparently we've already taken the global test. It didn't go very well.
"Standing for our principles is more important than being loved"
This "reading the meters" analogy is very good.
Faithful readers know that I live with conflicted feelings of not being in the military myself. Maybe it's rationalization, but I found comfort in these new words from Whittle:
So here I am: feeling useless. But President Bush warned that this was going to be a different war – something unlike anything we had ever seen. The front line now, at this critical time, is in the hearts and minds of our own people. That’s where the real battle is now. That is our weakest point, our breach, our point of failure. We have not made the case to enough people and time is running out.
So maybe now, at this absurd point in this new kind of war, we’re the crack troops, we old and useless pajama patriots reduced to printing up pamphlets to sell war bonds to the weary, to make the case for holding on to an unglamorous, uninspiring, relentless grind because that – not Normandy and Midway – is the face of war in this gilded age of luxury and safety and plenty.
Maybe that’s our job. Maybe we can help cover some small gap in the lines.
If it's "Duty First", then my duty must be to blog.
I spoke of rejuvenation earlier this week. Whittle can always get me fired up. (He gets Blue 6 and Red 6 fired up too.) And he makes me feel good that I stand with him.
I find I'm irrationally afraid of my absentee ballot not making it to Missouri. I can't stop thinking about it. I worry that it's stuck somewhere inside the mailbox and won't get found until it's too late. The bad thing is that there's no way of knowing.
I don't think I ever told the story of how I was almost "disenfranchised" in 2000. I went to the voting place and went into the little booth, and I jacked up my ballot Florida-style. Punched it wrong. But unlike Florida I wasn't so dumb that I didn't realize it, so I stood there and tried to figure out what to do. Both the ballot and the sign on the inside of the booth said that if you make a voting error, you should destroy the ballot and return it to the polling people for a new one. So I emerged from the curtain ripping my jacked-up ballot and asked for a new one. And the volunteers started shouting. They used menacing words like "violation" and "irregularity" and reprimanded me for defiling the voting center. They asked me what on earth would possess me to rip up my ballot, and I calmly replied, "The sign you have printed on the inside of the booth." And then they refused to believe that the sign would say such a thing. I tried to get one of them to come in the booth with me to see it, but they weren't budging. They almost refused to give me another ballot, but finally they relented. I voted properly and then left, but I mentioned that they might want to change their signs since there obviously was a huge discrepancy in procedure. It was a mess.
Plus I voted for the wrong guy! I mean, I punched it right, but BOY would he have been the wrong guy!
Excellent post on why to vote Bush at Cold Fury (via Bunker). Taste:
Well, here’s why: because the choice isn’t between Bush and George Patton; it isn’t even between Bush and Barry Goldwater. The choice is between a man who, in the end, has made the right moves, if sometimes diffidently, and a man who has shown over a long career in the Senate that he is not just indifferent but actually hostile to the use of American military power in pursuit of American interests. The choice is between a man who, in the immediate aftermath of the most hideously successful terrorist attack in history, had the bedrock good sense and unabashed patriotism to be unable to conceal his anger, and a man who would have needed three polls and a focus group to tell him how he ought to feel about it in order not to discomfit and alienate his America-hating Lefty base. The choice is between a man who genuinely seems to like soldiers, respect their service, believe in their competence, and honor their intelligence and basic decency, and a man who underhandedly wriggled out of his own commitment and came home to slander them as butchers and latter-day “Jenjis” Khans.
OK, now THIS was definitely the laugh I needed today.
Those poor guys!
And this was freaking funny too.
(both via Iraq Now)
I just got back from the memorial service for SGT Tyler Prewitt. I really wish I had gotten to know him better than our ten emails; he seems like an amazing guy. And his is a story that everyone should hear.
He left college after 9/11 and tried to join the infantry but was rejected because of his colorblindness. He then became a combat medic and deployed to both Kosovo and Iraq. Everyone spoke highly of him, saying he was always on the front lines, even when he would get reminded that as a medic he was supposed to hang back! They joked that he was the only medic with a sniper scope on his rifle; one of his fellow Soldiers said that Prewitt was equally a medic and a warrior.
In fact, his vehicle was hit by an RPG while he was trying to move forward to see if medical assistance was needed. They said that he remained calm and was instructing the people around him how to care for his wounds. His family came to Landstuhl and had to make the difficult decision to switch off the machines, but even in death Tyler Prewitt was saving lives. He became an organ donor, and his organs were used to save no less than seven other people at Landstuhl. I -- and his family -- take great comfort in knowing that his death brought so much life to others.
I wish I had known Tyler Prewitt better because he sounds like a wonderful man and the type of Soldier I would like to know. I'm happy that he touched my life in such a small way and that I got to hear his story.
Now this game is really funny! I wish I had found this before I watched the debate rerun. (Make sure to check out all four pages!)
This article, Troops in survey back Bush 4-to-1 over Kerry, jives with my husband's assessment of his own platoon.
By the way, the husband sent his ballot the other day. As long as the mail moves along in a timely fashion, the two of us will be squared away for 2 November.
A few months ago, a friend of mine was looking at my bookshelf. She commented on The Fountainhead there, saying that it was the worst book she'd ever read. I was puzzled, because I had remembered it being a very good book, but I had read it in high school, so I thought perhaps I would think differently eight years later. I read it again in Italy, and I realized that it was just as good as I had remembered it being.
I love Howard Roark.
I look at him a little differently now than I did in high school, but I love him for all the same reasons. I love him because he's everything I'm not. He's confident and self-assured and he doesn't get driven nuts by people who don't live by his values. I get driven nuts. A lot. But after reading the book again, I think I will be better able to work on letting go of some of those feelings and learning to be more self-assured.
I've always been sort of "evangelical" about my values. I think they're the right ones, and I want other people to think so too. I've never been good at the live-and-let-live when it comes to values, and I spend way too much time worrying about how to present the issues to people who disagree with me so I can "convert" them. I need to give that up, to let go of the idea that I can change people. I need to be more like Oriol, our American in Spain: "I just don't care about the criticism I receive every day, because I know the cause I defend is right." I'm learning from Roark. I'm learning from Oriol. And I recently learned from General Hans Oster.
I was introduced to this brave man when we went to the concentration camp. I'm sure there were more like him, but I had never read a story like General Hans Oster's. As I stood on the site where he was executed, I thought about the bravery it would have taken to stand up against Hitler. I have trouble standing up to negative commenters.
There are people out there whose fortitude constantly amazes me. I can only try to honor them by working every day at being stronger. Since reading The Fountainhead again, I think I'm on the right path, but every day brings a new lesson to test that strength.
Tanker sent some good links again:
And I'm sure by now that everyone has seen that ridiculous photo of Kerry reaching through his legs. I still can't figure out what the heck he's doing!
Man, there's a lot of hippies in the Munich airport. I haven't seen that much long hair and scraggly beards since high school.
My mom should be in the air by now. I can't believe five weeks went by so quickly. But we got to see five different countries, so you can't beat that.
Now I have to start getting ready for my next visitor: my husband is coming home for R&R at the end of the month! We're both getting incredibly excited, and the timing couldn't be better with my work schedule. Plus it's fun that he'll be here for both the presidential election and Veterans' Day.
More on that later...
CavX, one of the smartest fellas out there, weighs in on the debate. I did get to see it in a rerun here, and I agree with CavX's assessment. And I think Bush won. I just re-read the transcript. I don't care if the MSM networks are saying Kerry won, because in reality his answers were muddled and his thinking illogical.
Gnome 2: Phase I we collect underpants.
Gnome 1: Ya, ya, ya. But what about Phase II?
Gnome 2: Well Phase III is profit. Get it?
"Someone from your post died in Iraq this week, but he was someone from another unit," Mom said after dinner. "Oh. Who was it?" I asked from the other room. "Someone named SGT Tyler Prewitt."
SGT Prewitt first emailed me from Iraq in June, to ask for help with getting a transcript. We wrote back and forth a couple of times to get all of his education records straight, so when he decided to register for online classes in August, he contacted me again. He had just emailed me because he was worried he was too busy soldiering to concentrate on the class. Ten days before that RPG.
His emails were always signed TP.
His memorial is Tuesday, and I plan on going. I wonder if his family could ever imagine that his school representative, someone he barely knew, is weeping.
MORE TO GROK:
Here's my first chance to see TP's face. Surprisingly enough, that's exactly what I had imagined.
After having finished re-reading The Fountainhead, this story -- a newspaper editor going against public opinion -- made me chuckle. I had to register to read it, so now you don't have to.
Crawford wants newspaper to eat its words
San Antonio Express-News
CRAWFORD — Photos of President Bush hugging diners and mugging for the camera adorn the walls of the Crawford Coffee Station, a popular cafe in this small Central Texas town Bush calls home.
Just a few miles from the Bush ranch, the spot is a popular place for locals to gather in the morning for coffee, breakfast and a glance at the day's news.
But the rack that once held the Lone Star Iconoclast — Crawford's weekly newspaper — now is empty, thanks to a blistering indictment in Tuesday's paper of Bush's presidential record and a call to elect Democrat John Kerry in November.
For a town drenched in Bush, the editorial is practically political heresy.
"Not only is he the president of the United States, he's my neighbor, he's my customer," Coffee Station owner Nick Spanos said. "We're not carrying that paper after today."
The firestorm began Tuesday morning, when readers opened up the newspaper to Page 2 and found an entire half-page criticizing the president for a variety of failings, and calling for the election of Kerry.
By the afternoon, news of the editorial was burning up Internet blogs and e-mail boxes all over the country.
Iconoclast publisher W. Leon Smith, who co-wrote the editorial with two other writers, is unapologetic.
"We're just trying to point out the direction the country's going in, and it's not good," he said.
Smith is majority owner of the Iconoclast, the Record of nearby Clifton and the Bosque Globe. He's also the mayor of Clifton and a Democrat who was defeated twice in campaigns for the Texas House of Representatives.
Now, Smith has become an iconoclast in his own right, challenging the widely declared belief that Crawford and its environs are "Bush Country."
As of Wednesday morning, more than a dozen readers had canceled their subscription and six advertisers had pulled their spots from the paper.
Smith expects there will be more, and he's preparing for the worst.
"It will probably put us under," he said.
Smith's desk at the Record offices is piled with paper, and his cubicle is filled with Mickey Mouse paraphernalia — two clocks, posters and even his computer screensaver.
He pulled up his computer e-mail inbox, filled with messages of varying intensity.
Smith said about 75 percent of them applaud the editorial, but the remaining fourth border on vitriol.
"It really appears to be me that we no longer live in an open society," he said. "When you get to the point where you can't express an opinion, then you're in trouble."
I really hate when people pull the "police state" b.s. when their opinion is unpopular. You can write whatever you want in your newspaper, dude. People don't have to pay to read it if they don't like it though. That's not crushing dissent; that's the textbook definition of an "open society". In an open society, people disagree. And they vote with their wallet. If you "go under" because of this editorial, then you need to reevaluate your priorities. Either you give the people what they want in Crawford and make money, or you stand up for your principles and "go under" if that's in the cards. But don't complain that American society is in danger because people don't want to give you money to stand on your soapbox and say things they disagree with.
Long live capitalism!
(thanks to Dagney's Rant for the heads up...and the continued Ayn Rand connection)
I love when the bias is so ingrained that people can't even see it. My German co-worker said yesterday that the German media was reporting that Kerry had won the debate. I said that I hadn't seen the program, but that everything I had read had called it a draw. I said that people who like Bush generally gave him the edge, while people who like Kerry said that he had won. She said that Germany didn't really have a preference in the American presidential election, so they were just reporting objectively. I wanted to laugh my fool head off, but instead I casually mentioned the polls that show overwhelming German support for Kerry. And I printed this out for her. How can she not see the elephant in the room that is Europe's love for Kerry?
I received two absentee ballots from the state of Missouri. One is a federal write-in ballot, which I received two months ago, and one has the actual bubbles you fill in, which I received this week. I don't understand why I got both of them. I wonder what would happen if I were a bad person and filled out both of them. Would Missouri catch the mistake? Would my vote count twice? Are there more people out there who received two ballots, people who don't have the "voting integrity" I have? Just wondering...
I really want to know what happened during the debates last night! Lileks gave me a good taste to start out with...
Here’s the thing. I’d really like to live in John Kerry’s world. It seems like such a rational, sensible place, where handshakes and signatures have the power to change the face of the planet. If only the terrorists lived there as well.
Hey, Blue 6. If you have time, I think you might like this one.