I read this story of the quest to appropriate a white cross from Cindy Sheehan's circus. It sounds like things have gotten a little more complicated in Crawford since a few weeks ago when Mrs. Sims' friend uprooted CPT Sims' cross; I guess the police are involved now in order to keep the peace at the peace protest. I love the irony in that one.
But something in this blog post really caught my eye:
Once the details were taken care of, we were given a tour of Camp Reality. There is one father who is trying to raise money to get a bronze statue (of the rifle, boots, and helmet) placed in the hometown of each fallen soldier.
Has anyone heard anything else about this idea? I think it's a beautiful goal, and I'd be interested in donating and advertising this fundraiser. Any chance any of you know more about this man? Google wasn't much help.
We got a very good deal by buying our dog here in Germany: normally in the US a Tibetan runs around $1200. I don't know if we'll ever be able to afford one again! However, I really wish we were in the US for veterinary services. So far Charlie has been to the vet twice, at two different places, and he needs a third visit at a third doctor. Our on-post clinic is closed because the vets are deploying, so I have to find a German vet to get Charlie his last set of shots. I called some places today and had a hard time communicating. It's frustrating dealing with something very important and new to me -- caring for a living creature -- without having one consistent vet I feel comfortable turning to for advice and services.
Stop the presses -- there's a draft going on in the military!!!!
I honestly thought that nothing the PC crowd could do would shock me anymore.
I was wrong.
Millions of Lutherans will be able to sing a new song -- actually some 300 new songs -- to the Lord in an updated worship book that offers more options for contemporary worship and less emphasis on exclusively masculine images of God. [emphasis mine]
Denise Leslie, a delegate from Hope Lutheran Church in Cleveland Heights, said using language for God that includes women is important because "when you hear gender-neutral, things suddenly become more clear and comfortable."
Ho.Ly.Crap. Church has gone politically correct.
The 94th Engineer Combat Battalion from our post is battling their second summer in Iraq. They were the first unit to stay a full 365 days for OIF I, and now they're back again for OIF III. I am friends with a few of 94th's wives, and I have been so impressed with their fortitude and optimism. They say that the second year is easier than the first...
Michael Yon's account of Mosul kept me on the edge of my seat. Mama, you gotta read this one.
The dog was acting really ornery, so I decided he needed some time outside. He was so hyper, and we were playing and having fun when he made a sudden jerk and pulled the leash out of my hands...and ran into the street in front of a car. I nearly had a heart attack. Luckily the car slowed down and I managed to chase Charlie back to the grass and grab him. We're never going outside again.
We hear a lot about the Army not meeting its recruiting goals this year, but here's something I hadn't heard yet anywhere:
The active Army’s fiscal 2005 recruiting goal is 80,000, but Schoomaker said he and his generals are predicting that the service will be “a couple of thousand short” when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.
That shortfall can be absorbed without affecting the Army’s operations, Schoomaker said, because it only takes 72,000 new recruits to sustain the force.
“What this really means is that we’re not building the 30,000 [increase] as fast as I’d like, Schoomaker said, referring to the Army’s ongoing effort to boost its end-strength from 480,000 to 510,000 by 2007.
So the goal is set higher than what they need. It's not good to be short, but it's not the end of the world, as some would like us to believe. Schoomaker continues:
But when it comes to judging the Army’s health, it is the Army’s continuing success at keeping soldiers, not bringing in new ones, that is the service’s true “report card,” Schoomaker said.
All 10 of the active Army’s divisions have met 100 percent or more of their retention goals, Schoomaker said, with the highest re-enlistments posted by units either in combat or freshly home from Iraq or Afghanistan.
The media's breathless tabulation of casualties in Iraq--now, over 1,800 deaths--is generally devoid of context. Here's some context: between 1983 and 1996, 18,006 American military personnel died accidentally in the service of their country. That death rate of 1,286 per year exceeds the rate of combat deaths in Iraq by a ratio of nearly two to one.
The Grunts aren't Rhodes Scholars, but they have seen the press show its ass. Their jobs have been made harder because some idiot with a typewriter decided that his right to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater overrode the simple human decency of restraint.
Spoehr is the director of materiel on the Army staff. He had a good news story to tell [reporter Michael] Moss, which Moss converted into a bad news story.
Most of these links are taken from or found via Conservative Grapevine. You really should check it out every day; John Hawkins consistently finds gems on blogs I've never even heard of.
Now that everyone and his dog has a blog, I do so understand this feeling.
My husband’s roommate in college came to the US from Poland. He was going to try to make his fortune in New York City, but there was a better deal for flights to Chicago at that time. He left with only the money in his pocket to make a new life for himself. He worked three part-time jobs while he was at college with us; I honestly can’t remember ever seeing him sleep in the entire time I’ve known him. I remember laughing when he finally saved enough to buy a piece of crap car on eBay, and my husband still sometimes brings up the moneysaving kitchen tips he learned from his roommate.
I talked to him this morning, and I can’t erase the huge grin from my face. He has a good job in the cellphone industry now, he’s working on his MBA, and he just bought his second house, one for him to live in and another to “rent out and build some equity.” I laughingly told him that he’s finally living the American Dream; he replied that he is doing so well that he’s actually getting fat. I am so happy for him.
I need to check on our other friend, a Bulgarian who I swear wore the same shirt and pants every day when I first met him. He’s just finishing up his internship in med school.
What a wonderful country ours is.
Pixy Misa, he's our man
if he can't do it, no one can!
I got quite a shock yesterday to find that my website was gone. Naturally I haven't saved anything I've written, so I dealt with the imaginary trauma that everything was gone. I guess I'd better begin backing things up.
Hilarious Dilbert cartoon via CaliValleyGirl
For many soldiers, this is the face of Iraq...
This is their experience and what they remember from their time in Iraq. But reader Tanker sent me a link to another face of war. It's another very real aspect of Iraq these days...
The difficulty with the war in Iraq is the differing missions. One soldier's experience could be mighty different from another's, and when both write home and tell friends and family what "war" is like, they're going to paint a very different picture. That's how my favorite reservist ended up in a conversation where someone said, "You guys just stayed in camp and took pictures, right?", when in fact over half of the soldiers in his unit saw major action and are suffering from PTSD. FOB Anaconda has a Baskin Robbins and salsa dancing night; my husband and his platoon spent 87 days living IN Iraq, outside the safe confines of an American FOB. If your daughter is lying around in a bikini in Iraq, you'll have a vastly different view on the uptempo of the war than the Marlboro Man's mom does.
I started thinking today about lies. Why is it that we seem to have an endless parade of adults charging liar-liar-pants-on-fire?
Just because you're ignorant doesn't mean the other person is a liar. That was the case when we played Scattergories: people had never heard of the German city we used, and so they called us liars. Moreover, just because you want something to be false doesn't mean the other person is a liar. That was the case with Grey Eagle, where she and her other commenters insisted that I am a liar, even when I gave proof (in the form of URLs to slutty websites that female soldiers were running). And just because someone turned out to be wrong, doesn't mean he's a liar. That's the charge that President Bush faces every day: googling Bush lies brings 7.5 million hits, even when the Clinton administration was also convinced there were WMDs.
What is the problem here? Why are grown-ups running around with less class and manners than the 7th graders I taught? Why is civility dead?
Maybe calling someone a liar makes these people feel better about themselves and their shaky hold on truth. As Pirsig said, people are typically only zealous about things that are uncertain. But I get so sick and tired of the liar charge. Can't we all try to behave like adults?
This website (via Sully) made me laugh simply because it reminded me of my husband and his old roommate. They used to make up stuff like this about the opposing baseball team's players, such as "I heard Benny Agbayani once ran over a puppy and instead of stopping to notify the family, he backed up and ran over it again." The more absurd, the better. They used to have me in stitches with this stuff.
I read the book Bias in two days; I couldn't put it down. Goldberg's argument is that the media skews left not because of some conspiracy but because those in the media don't recognize their worldview as being liberal; they simply see themselves as rational and reasonable. The problem is that a big chunk of America doesn't see the world the way they do.
My husband and I saw a good example of this subtle liberalism in the media on our vacation. We were watching Dateline in the hotel, a segment on gay adoption. The story of two lesbians opened with "It was a fairy tale romance..." My husband guffawed, "I don't know what fairy tales they've been reading!" I personally don't have any problem with homosexuals, and in select cases I don't have a problem with gay adoption, but I do raise my eyebrows at lesbian romance being called "fairy tale". Who wrote that line? And how many people let it slide? Did no one see how odd it sounds? Roughly half of the US population doesn't support gay adoption and probably doesn't consider lesbians to be the stuff of tales and legends. But to the liberals in the media, this statement was unobjectionable.
Yesterday I saw a Law & Order: SVU that made me cringe. The episode, called "Hate", featured the death of two Muslims. Guess who did it? Yep, some crazy white kid. Oh, and not like sleeper-cell Muslims; these two were members of an organization where Muslims and Jews work together in harmony. So this white kid kills two of the most sympathetic Muslims in NYC, and then in his uncontrolable rage he stomps to death another Arab in his holding cell. See how racist white people are?
And then the kicker. The DA's office is discussing whether they should charge this guy under hate crime laws. The police captain says that they should because obviously this man "acted out of hate, that matters." The ADA balked, saying that she hesitates to invoke the hate crime legislation too often because of the slippery slope effect. "What if a black man kills a klansman or a gay man kills a homophobe -- where do we draw the line?"
Obviously I'm not as rational and reasonable as the show's liberal writers. I personally subscribe to the South Park school of thought when it comes to hate crime laws, but if we're going to have them, then of course I think a black man killing a klansman or a gay man killing a homophobe should count. The underlying message this ADA was sending was that there's a right and wrong way to hate: if a klansman kills a black man, well that's atrocious, but if the black man kills the klansman, well that's justified. What a bunch of BS.
Things like this are the subtle liberal ideas that pervade our media. It is accepted as a given that lesbians live happily ever after and black men should be given some leeway if they kill a racist. Those are the little digs that make me want to shut the TV off and stand barefoot in the kitchen.
Apparently the Left thinks that in order to properly gain support for their anti-war beliefs, they need to repeat the word "useless", specifically in reference to Cindy Sheehan's son's "useless sacrifice" in Iraq.
In my life, I have known many people who have died before their time. Car accidents, drugs, suicide, drowning, and murder have taken people I knew and cared about. So did the game Red Rover, when my brother's friend died when tightly linked arms made him fall and hit his head. There's nothing more senseless or "useless" than dying during a game at Vacation Bible School. Young people die from being impaled with a golf club or mauled by the family dog. Those deaths are useless indeed.
I submit that dying in Iraq is about one of the most noble deaths for a young man or woman. There's no honor in getting hit by a bus, but the sacrifice that these soldiers and marines are making is anything but useless. These 1853 Americans have died for the good of not only their own country but for the good of Iraq. They have died so that others can be free.
That's about the most useFUL sacrifice a man can make.
MORE TO GROK:
Our nation's sons have given their lives so that Iraq's mothers can find peace.
What a week! Two dogs peeing in the house, causing a ruckus, and breaking things while they wrestle. I'm glad that's over. But at least some good came from all the action: Charlie lost his front two teeth. Thank heavens we're on the way to adult teeth; those puppy teeth hurt.
I saw an AFN commercial today about Frank Capra's Why We Fight movies. Apparently Capra used clips of Hitler's speeches to explain what we were up against. I noticed the stark contrast between Why We Fight and a series of commercials that runs on AFN called Why We're Here. These commercials are all about the feel-good stuff that's going on in Iraq: school openings, meetings with Iraqi councilmen, playing with children. These commercials are interesting, but they sure have a different focus than Why We Fight.
Let's make a movie out of LGF. Someone get footage of imams around the world calling for the death of Americans. Let's add Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl, mixed with Saddam chopping off hands. How 'bout the folks who were cheering in the streets on 9/11? Or footage of those Hamas training camps? And let's show Why We Fight.
If we never demonize the enemy, we'll never truly mobilize.
We're dogsitting this week, so with two puppies in the house, I know I won't make it to the computer much. I don't think we'll be sleeping much either, if the last two nights are any indication.
It's funny: it was easier for me to keep up with Red6 when he was Iraq than when he lives five miles away. Since he and my husband aren't in the same unit anymore, we don't see each other that often. We try to get him over to our house once a week for dinner, but he's a busy, busy man.
Anyway, I was excited to see this exchange he had with a French reader, which led me to a cool blog in French. Herve runs Le Monde a L'Envers, which more or less means "the world in reverse or upside-down or inside-out or something". It's always good to see we've got French support.
When I went to France a year ago, the main thing I wanted to do was return to St. Avold cemetery. We got there right at closing time, which didn't give me much time to linger, but I did go into the caretaker building. I wanted to sign the guest book, and what I found brought tears to my eyes. So many people from all over France had visited the cemetery and written encouraging comments. I found so many attaboys and gratefulness for my country. People said that the US was the best or that they stand by us. Often it was just a triumphant USA!! written on the side. I was so touched by that guest book, and I'll never forget the words I read that day from our individual allies.
Thanks for your blog, Herve.
5. Getting an email from Den Beste about cargo cult science.
4. Musing that I missed The Genius I Was and then finding out he reads my blog.
3. Getting an email from Ben Stein.
2. Hearing that Blackfive and Michael Tucker were talking about me.
1. Getting to meet Tim, CaliValleyGirl, and The Girl in person. I hope there are many more blog meetings for me in the future.
Dear President Bush,
If you're in USAREUR like me, you didn't get to see the show Over There. My mother-in-law relayed some of the show to me, and parts she remembered made me groan. I wish I could see it for myself, but it sounded hackneyed. My husband and I were goofing off later on: "Gosh, Sarge, what a SNAFU." and "Sir, yes, sir!" and other things that only appear to get said in the TV Army. John of Argghhh! compiled reviews from milbloggers who watched the program, and the prognosis is not looking good. I can completely understand though: my husband can't get within ten feet of a military movie without turning beet red and swearing up a storm. If we want to see a show about war, we opt for War Is The H-Word.
And I hear there was a soldier openly smoking pot? HA. Double HA.
I felt bad that Grey Eagle took what I said so personally. I certainly never meant that every single female soldier acts like a slut, and I thought I was as tactful as possible in clarifying my position twice. Everyone keeps pointing out to me that it takes two to tango, completely missing the irony: that's what I was saying in the first place. At times you'd think that the only sex that happens in the Army is rape; I just wanted to point out that men don't have a monopoly on bad behavior.
So I felt bad about Grey Eagle, but then I went over to her website and saw what she has to say about me...
I am a soldier and a combat medic, and the person your husband will turn to to save his life, treat his wounds, and evac him out, so he can bring his cheating ass home to you.
Real classy. She even finds time to make fun of the name of my blog too. And then she flat out lies about me:
There were comments where people actually wrote supporting these posts (I noticed that my comments were removed from the post on "Trying to Grok, but the comments supporting her post were left on).
I never deleted anything she wrote. I don't know what on earth she's talking about, since she filled up most of the comments sections.
I know that this issue is very personal for her, more personal than it is for me because 1) my husband was on an all-male FOB in Iraq and 2) if you knew my husband, you'd know that SPC Waterstraw is just not his type (wink). But I am more than a little disappointed that while I was merely trying to bring up an issue that we all tiptoe around, just to put it out there on the table, Grey Eagle has to personally insult me and belittle me as just an "uninformed spouse".
Cattiness and bitchitude is not exactly the best way to raise my opinion of female soldiers, is it?
[By the way, neither is implying that it's OK for married soldiers to have occasional sex downrange because they're stressed out. I don't buy that BS from the slutty wives either. But that's what Grey Eagle appears to say here:
I have seen and understand where soldiers return from patrols or convoys shaken from IED's, ambushes, being shot at, and all the other incidents that take place, where sleep is mixed with motar attacks, explosions, sucide bombers, and living in conditions that create hardship, depression, and fear to name a few. This causes the soldiers, ALL SOLDIERS regardless of gender to behave differently than when we are home. The sex, which is mostly consentual is a reflection of escape and our own mortality, and becomes living for the moment, and NOT a endless orgy of sex. What the hell do you think we do over there. It does not take away from home, spouses, the love we have, or that we wish we were home with them every moment of every day that we deployed
Please tell me I'm reading this wrong. You can't insist that females are not a sex problem for the military and then shrug off "occasional FOB sex" as normal.]
On this day in 1880, Greenwich Mean Time was adopted. In 1921, the eight White Sox players were acquitted of throwing the World Series. In 1971, the astronauts of Apollo 15 were driving around on the moon. And on this day in 1980, my mother-in-law was giving birth to the most wonderful man in the world. Happy birthday, husband.
Man, this is why I've avoided blogging lately; it seems everything I say gets taken out of context or misconstrued. I get tired of going in circles.
So...I'm also not saying that all females are evil and unable to handle the military. I sure wish people wouldn't extrapolate my post into something I haven't argued.
My big beef is the view our society has that everything is the man's fault. This happens with sexual harrassment and infidelity, both in and outside the Army, but it happens in other realms too, which I've blogged about before in reference to Kim du Toit's bullseye, The Pussification of the Western Male.
Think about sitcoms: the men always cause the trouble. The portrayal of men on TV is ghastly. I saw it again today on a rerun of King of Queens: she wanted to go to the opera and he didn't; apparently she's too big of a witch to accept "look, hon, that's not really my bag", so he had to concoct this elaborate scheme to get out of going where he looked like a jerk in the end. I'm telling you, I stopped watching Everybody Loves Raymond when Ray ripped up his Superbowl tickets just to get Debra to stop whining for a second. The women on these shows are atrocious, but the joke is always on the dumb/incompetent/insensitive man.
Newsflash: men are not to blame for everything. That's my overarching beef with sexual harrassment norms and my reason for challenging Smink's post. Sometimes women are to blame for the unwanted advances and failed marriages.
I thought I was perfectly clear in my post on women in the military that I was only bringing up additional issues on the topic. But it appears that I need to say more.
I am not in any way saying that all of the blame lies with females. The reason I wrote the post was because Smink's post only addressed the issues that women face; I wanted to point out that there's another side to the story that neither Smink nor his 15 commenters addressed. That doesn't mean that I think females are the military's sexual predators.
Men can be sneaky, nasty jerks. I know of plenty of stories of the gross and immoral things they've done downrange too. However, we can't lay all of the blame at their feet. Women can be conniving sluts too. As a society, I believe we're too quick to always blame the men.
One scenario fleshed out: I heard a soldier tell the story of a time he heard a female specialist completely sass-mouth her first sergeant. She interrupted him and was extremely rude. As she left, my soldier friend expressed shock that she could get away with being so impertinent; he was told that the first sergeant had made the enormous error of having consentual sex with this female and was now paying for his mistake. This female specialist threatened to expose him if he didn't give her special treatment. Was the 1SG wrong for sleeping with her? You bet your sweet bippy he was! But this female is now the one hurting mission readiness by blackmailing her NCO. She could turn him in and say she was raped, and there's nothing he could do about it. In today's world and military, women hold all of the power when it comes to sexual harrassment. And I truly believe that some of them abuse this system.
Men and women are having sex downrange. Some of them are married, some are not. But what happens when two unmarried soldiers are having sex and the man wants to end it, and the female gets mad and reports to the unit that he raped her? Happened to someone I know. We as a society tend to always believe the woman is telling the truth in these situations; I personally don't believe that anymore. I think the system is abused and broken, so I get irritated when we moan about the plight of the poor, harrassed women in the military, and when every other AFN commercial is about stopping sexual harrassment against women. Some of these women know exactly what they're doing and have ruined the system for those who really are being harrassed.
[P.S. I also know that infidelity is not only a product of deployment or the military. Our last president had consentual sex with an intern. Bonehead, stupid, ridiculous move on his part. But what happened? She hung on to a dirty dress and destroyed his reputation, while she got book deals and made money. I don't excuse the president, but I do think that's despicable behavior on her part as well. She was not a victim in that situation, but she retained victim status simply because she is a woman. I believe the problem extends to all of our society.]