June 30, 2004


Tim Blair's teaching the Iraqi bloggers Australian.
There's your cultural cross-pollination.

Posted by Sarah at 09:45 PM | Comments (0)


My comments section has been growing and taking on a life of its own since the Atrios incident. Yes, I still read all of the comments. No, I don't eagerly look forward to them the way I did six months ago. I've got arguments and insults -- plus headaches and sleepless nights, believe it or not -- because of the comments section. Reader cjstevens wrote a long and interesting comment here, and Sander wondered why I even bother to have a comments section.

Sometimes I wonder myself.

I read this post on Instapundit today about comments, and I certainly understood. When I first started my blog and all those readers came over from USS Clueless, I couldn't keep my eyes off the comments section. When I started playing with my templates and thought I had deleted my first week's comments, I broke into tears (ask my husband; he thought I was nuts). I thought I needed to cherish every comment I had, because I certainly didn't think anyone would want to read my blog once the novelty of Den Beste's link wore off.

Eight months and 55,000 hits later, the comments section has begun to weigh on my heart. What was once a spot for Carla or Mike or Tammi to shoot me an encouraging word has turned into gnawing dread in my stomach whenever I see the numbers climb higher. Every time someone comments, I feel the need to think about his words for hours. I try to understand where he's coming from, what he's thinking, why he thinks I might agree with him, and what I could possibly say to get my point across and make him see what I see.

A friend advised me to blog for myself alone, not for the adoring (or loathing) public. But every challenge that I leave unanswered haunts me. Every comment I disagree with is hours of my thoughts diverted elsewhere, when I'm sure someone else has already had the same argument elsewhere.

I've thought about shutting the comments off and just doing this for myself. I've thought about leaving them and letting them take on a life of their own without my involvement. I've thought about giving blogging up altogether because sleepless nights and stinging wounds are really the last thing I need when half of my heart is in Iraq.

I'm just stressed. And beaten down. I'm struggling to remember what the point of all of this is...


cjstevens, it appears the director of Gunner Palace will be on CNN News Night with Aaron Brown tonight (30 Jun). See if you can check it out.


Please keep in mind that I'm not necessarily talking about "abuse" here. Yeah, the comments were pretty nasty there for a while, but mostly now it's civil. It's just so much for one brain to handle.

My alarm goes off at 0630. Lately I've been dragging it out until 0700. I read for an hour, get ready, go to work until 1600, come home, shovel some food in my mouth, and go to the neighboring post to teach for three hours. (On nights that I don't teach, I'm watching Band of Brothers, which isn't exactly light entertainment.) I return around 2145 and then read and blog some more. I rarely make it into bed by 2300 and I'm lying there thinking about Michael Moore and Iraq and elections until midnight or 0100. I just can't shut it off.

Writing my own posts keeps me occupied; thinking of how I would respond to five different people who all have different ideas about Moore and Iraq and elections is making me insane.

So I apologize if you're a commenter and I don't give you a direct answer to your comment. It doesn't mean I'm not losing sleep over it.

Posted by Sarah at 03:35 PM | Comments (13)


I thought this article on the morality of lying via Instapundit was very interesting. Food for thought.

As is this weary post on why blogging is taking its toll. I can relate; I spent two hours writing an email to a friend about why I will not be seeing Fahrenheit 9/11.

And I experience this regularly at work, on a military post of all places:

For some reason, it's OK to wax polemic for a half-hour at a time if you are dissing Bush, but non-Democrats must stay in the closet.

Posted by Sarah at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)


Reason Number Six Billion Why I Love Soldiers:

Specialist Rodriguez is one example. He broke his leg some months ago. He was offered the chance to deploy out of Iraq. He chose to stay. When his unit was deployed to Karbala, he cut off his cast. A person told him today that "we aren't paid enough to do that." Immediately, he and the other soldiers responded that it isn't about the money; that we do this for much more important reasons.

(Thanks, Tim.)

Posted by Sarah at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)


When I was 15, I arranged a good surprise for my dad: tickets to a Three Dog Night concert in Peoria. I ordered the tickets and hid them behind my sock drawer (as if he would go snooping in my sock drawer anyway). The night of the concert, he drove us downtown while I directed from the passenger seat since I couldn't drive yet. As we rounded the corner onto Main Street, he looked at me and said, "We're not going to the strip club, are we?"

It was a great concert and a great night; I'll never forget my dad's confident look as he said, "The encore has to be Eli's Coming." I'll always remember that father/daughter outing.

Happy Birthday, Daddy.

Posted by Sarah at 09:51 AM | Comments (2)


Ali threw a party when he heard of the handover:

Another friend approached me. This one was not religious but he was one of the conspiracy theory believers. He put his hands on my shoulders and said smiling, “I must admit that I’m beginning to believe in what you’ve been telling us for months and I’m beginning to have faith in America. I never thought that they will hand us sovereignty in time. These people have shown that they keep their promises.”

As Bremer said, "A’ash Al-Iraq, A’ash Al-Iraq, A’ash Al-Iraq!"

(via Hud)


More thoughts on The Power of Scraps:

Historians will someday recognize June 28, 2004 as one of the most important days of our century. The United States, a nation of unopposable military might, invaded smaller, weaker Iraq and conquered it. We said we'd done it to rid the world of a murderous tyrant. Our detractors said we did it for oil, or for domestic political gain, or for any of a number of other contemptible reasons. We expunged the tyrant's government root and branch, then supervised Iraq's transition from the chaos of war back to a semblance of peace and order, despite many attempts to disrupt it. On June 28, we gave the Iraqi people freedom and autonomy, with a sincere promise of assistance should their embryonic republic encounter any difficulties it was still too young to handle.

We gave our blood and treasure to liberate Iraq from the villainy of Saddam Hussein. Then we gave our word that Iraq would be freed from our supervision as well. Then we stood by it. That is the significance of Paul Bremer's "scrap of paper."

(Via Bunker)

Posted by Sarah at 08:30 AM | Comments (3)

June 29, 2004


Tim offered a touching analogy for the handover to Iraq: "kinda like being tossed the keys to a brand new convertible and being told to take her out for a spin." Naturally, being the dork that I am, I thought of the scene where the Karate Kid got his license and he took off in the yellow convertible, with Mr. Miagi yelling BANZAI! as he drove away. I like the idea of being Mr. Miagi.

(Oh, and speaking of The Kid, this is hysterical.)

Posted by Sarah at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)


My friend and I just went and raided our post's thrift shop for SGT Hooks' Operation Shoe Fly. Expect a box soon, Hook. If anyone else has old shoes in the closet or ten bucks to spend at the Salvation Army, Afghani children could use the footwear.

Posted by Sarah at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)


I find it hysterical that the DU nutjobs think that the transfer of sovereignty was moved up two days to distract people from Fahrenheit 9/11.

Posted by Sarah at 08:52 AM | Comments (26)

June 28, 2004


From Band of Brothers, Part 8: The Last Patrol:

I wondered if people back home would ever know what it cost the soldiers to win this war. In America things were already beginning to look like peacetime: the standard of living was on the rise, racetracks and nightclubs were booming, you couldn't get a hotel room in Miami Beach it was so crowded. How could anyone ever know of the price paid by soldiers in terror, agony, and bloodshed if they'd never been to places like Normandy, Bastogne, and Haguenau?

The more things change...

Posted by Sarah at 10:04 PM | Comments (2)


I thought Muslims weren't supposed to kill other Muslims...
This Muslim soldier went to jail for refusing to fight.
But these guys don't seem to have a problem with it.

Posted by Sarah at 04:38 PM | Comments (2)


I forget that not everyone gets to spend every day surrounded by Soldiers. That's why stories like Lunch with the Soldiers and Email from Dave are good to read.

Oh yeah, and BOO-YAH.

Posted by Sarah at 04:34 PM | Comments (0)


My in-laws called in a panic yesterday: since I hadn't done any blogging, something had to be wrong! Nothing's wrong really; I've just been in a funk lately I can't shake. I think I'm homelandsick.

While my husband is gone, I clean up his email and get rid of all the junk. Last week I noticed a folder with my name on it; closer inspection revealed it as Sarah in Sweden. I had no idea he had saved those old emails; I took a trip through the past, reading all my messages from my summer in Örnsköldsvik. And I was homelandsick then too...

I used to think that homesick was only the feeling of missing your family or loved ones. I thought I did not get homesick. But yesterday, I got a different kind of sick. I am homelandsick. I miss the United States. I want to use free bathrooms. I want to drink out of a cup that is bigger than a salt shaker. I want to eat chips and drink Pepsi. I want to drive somewhere instead of walking. I don’t want to eat so many fruits and vegetables. I want to watch TV. I want to see baggy jeans and dirty white baseball caps. I want the sun to go down, so I can see lightning bugs. And I want to leave my shoes on in the house.

Today I boycotted Swedish meals and ate pizza and chips and salsa for lunch. Somehow this just hit me yesterday. My friends and I went on a trip along the coast. It was beautiful, and I took lots of beautiful photos.

But I miss corn fields and huge houses and horizon as far as the eye can see.

I think it was this Mudville post that started it. Maybe it's hearing other wives talk about their plans for trips home and knowing that I won't be going until my husband returns. Maybe it's 4th of July around the corner. Maybe it's everything. I just want to go home.

I wasn't kidding when I said I'd rather be golfing with Bunker. And I suck at golf. I think most people here would faint if they knew my husband and I tried to trade our Germany slot for Fort Hood, but I can't think of anything better right now than going to the Alamo. Or to Vegas. Or just to Subway.

I'm such a patriot that I can't stand to be out of my country for this long.

Posted by Sarah at 04:28 PM | Comments (2)

June 27, 2004


Wretchard writes of the price our Soldiers had to pay to prevent the media from having "quagmire" footage. It pains me that they have to play that kind of game.


I'd much rather see this movie, made by an anti-war fellow who was looking for the truth.

Posted by Sarah at 07:56 PM | Comments (22)

June 26, 2004


For some reason, my body just decided to reject sleep last night. I got in bed at 2315. At 0120 I took a Tylenol PM and read for half an hour. At 0300 I was really starting to get mad. At 0445 my friend's dog (I was puppysitting again) woke me up with his snoring. At 0550 the dog wanted to play. And my alarm went off at 0630 to go in to work.

So all the blogging I can muster today is that you might be interested in this and this.
And make sure to watch this.


Posted by Sarah at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)


For the record, my feelings for Red 6 are not weird. Yes, I did say I love him: he's like a third brother to me, and he says I'm like an extra sister-in-law to him. In our house we jokingly call him my second husband. My husband loves him as well, and he knows I have enough love in my heart at the end of the day for more than one soldier...

Posted by Sarah at 07:16 AM | Comments (1)

June 25, 2004


Red 6, otherwise known as Best Friend, made it into this BBC slideshow yesterday!

Neil in Iraq.jpg


Posted by Sarah at 06:16 PM | Comments (3)


I read this today in the comments section on another blog. It's part of a longer rant I won't bother with.

The first iraq war was a mistake. Iraq (former babylon) used to be one of the richest most prosperous countries in the world and was the center for trade in the middle-east. The british during there imperialism invaded and took over kuwait which later gained sovereinty. This left Iraq with no access to water and they lost all there trade and the country went to shit. To add salt in the wounds oil was discovered in 1978. So to the Iraqi people a piece of their land that had had owned for 1000's of years was taken from them causing their economy to colapse.
Now I am in no way saying Sadam was right in his methods but you must understand the culture. Sadam came into power by killing the former leader as did he and so on. When you rule a country like this you must rule it with fear. At any moment he could be overthrown. We can't contemplait this because we haven't lived that way for thousands of years.

Wow. I can't help but think of the wonderful Onion parody a few years back. Point (college student): Nigeria is a land filled with culture. Counterpoint (Nigerian): Get me out of this hellhole. We have to accept a violent dictatorship and the invasion of Kuwait because it's their culture. That's appallingly depressing; I think it's the worst thing I've read in a comments section in a long time.

This person describes himself as "well educated and professional", but I have to wonder about that, considering the wealth of spelling and grammar mistakes throughout.

Unfortunatly people regard US people in that malice. Its your government that people hate. They rule by econimic oppression. Who dares to stand up to them. The UN can't who can. So its no wonder 9/11 happened. Unfortunatly it envolved thousands of innocent people.

Posted by Sarah at 04:02 PM | Comments (8)


This has been a concern of mine as well...

Hefley said he was particularly concerned about the realignment’s potential effect on military families, since Pentagon leaders have sketched a scenario in which most families are based in the United States while their sponsors are sent periodically sent overseas for several months at a time for training exercises or missions.

Although extended separations are understandable in wartime, in times of peace, “I would be very reluctant to separate military families more than they already are,” Hefley said.

Feith said that the administration’s plans “should actually contribute to a better situation for families than currently exists.”

He described instances in which families move with their sponsor overseas, only to have the servicemember deploy to yet another place, leaving his dependents alone in a foreign country.

Why couldn't he have left me at Fort Hood? Bunker could be teaching me to play golf!

Posted by Sarah at 11:35 AM | Comments (2)


A couple of years ago, before I started reading blogs, I saw a Dinner for Five where Sarah Silverman and Michael Rapaport were talking about how hard it is to be a Jew in Hollywood. I thought they were insane. I didn't exactly grow up surrounded by Jewish people, but I knew a few and I had never heard anyone say anything bad about Jews. In fact, I thought the Holocaust had pretty much taught us all a lesson.

Boy, was I wrong.

After two years of reading LGF, I know that I was wildly naive. I can't say if Silverman and Rapaport are discriminated against in Hollywood, but I will never again scoff at the plight of Jews in our world.

And these days I'm inclined to stop a moment and wonder if there indeed is a subliminal message in photos like this.

Posted by Sarah at 09:27 AM | Comments (2)


War may be hell, but we here in the rear live our own sort of personal hell.

For every soldier and Marine in Iraq, there are days of fierce battle, but there are also long stretches of calm and nothing. For every firefight they're in, they spend many more days standing around on guard or sandbagging. When that firefight comes, it's pivotal, but not every day is a raging battle.

For us in the rear, every day the news brings us another conflict. Monday it's Fallujah, Tuesday it's Najaf, Wednesday it's Baghdad, Thursday it's Baqubah, and by Friday we're back to Fallujah. For us in the rear, there are no calms in Iraq's storm. There's no time to catch your breath, no respite from the chain of casualties, no days of just standing on guard.

I try not to hang on the news out of Iraq, but yesterday was rough on me. Even my students noticed I was a quieter than usual. If I were self-absorbed, I would have been content with the email from my husband saying that he had made it to his destination and was shocked at how calm things were there. But once he was accounted for, my attention shifted back to all the other soldiers from his battalion who were waging war yesterday. Best Friend was still back there, and I was in knots all day thinking about him. Blue 6 was safe, but Red 6 was in the thick of it, and over the past year and a half I've grown to love Red 6 almost as much as I love my own husband. I'm just as invested in him as I am in my own family.

He responded to my frantic email this morning, breathless from his ordeal but in one piece. He said the insurgents are getting better at aiming...

If you've got one family member in Iraq, you can concentrate your anguish on one city. When you have friends all over the country -- one in Mosul, two in Tikrit, one in Baghdad, one at Anaconda, several god-knows-where, a whole battalion in Baqubah, and the most important platoon out on a mission -- you're never insulated from the danger.

You've always got one eye at the top of the casualty list, praying that "name not released yet" doesn't turn into someone you know.


Yesterday I had a bad feeling. I don't believe in premonitions, but it was the first time I really felt sick to my stomach thinking about my boys down there. I'll thank my lucky stars that I don't have THE POWER that Tim has!

Posted by Sarah at 08:36 AM | Comments (3)

June 24, 2004


If it wasn't gangs and it wasn't drugs, then what could have possibly made someone shoot an OEF and OIF veteran after an argument? I have a guess, and it makes me want to cry.

Posted by Sarah at 04:08 PM | Comments (0)


In my attempts to understand the way people think, I started wondering about the nature/nurture split. It started with thoughts about another topic entirely, for much has been said about the biological vs. envioronmental influences in relation to homosexuality. I then started to wonder about how nature/nurture applies to politics.

We've all met siblings who have vastly different political leanings, despite being raised in the same household and having relatively similar life experiences. Even siblings who are still young -- those who haven't gone off on their own to encounter the world -- can have wildly different worldviews. One sibling works for the military and the other writes a dissertation on the virtues of Mandela and Khadaffi. How can this be?

Bunker's post was food for thought, which led me to The Motivations of Political Leftists and then to Why Are People Leftists?; these took me two days to read and digest. I then found a paragraph that echoed my questions: Leftists Are Born That Way, which is filled with interesting links that lead only to abstracts. I ended up with more questions than I have answers.

I know of people who were Leftists but abandoned their worldview; many of them were prompted by 9-11 to reevaluate their beliefs. But for many of us on both sides of the spectrum, 9-11 only confirmed what we already thought we knew, though it taught us monumentally different lessons. I personally have leaned Right for as long as I can remember, and I simply hid my more right-of-center views from my college friends. My worldview started to really solidify even before I cared at all about politics; it was fueled by the anti-Americanism I experienced in France and at the riots in Goteborg, and by an epiphany at a lecture by Dinesh D'Souza, among other things. Only later did I get into blogging and current events...and the military.

But where did it originate? Other people endured the hate and garbage in France, yet it didn't have the effect on them that it did on me. I must've already had the seeds of right-leaning ideas before I hit this point. But where did they come from?

I'd say both of my parents are fairly conservative, though we never talked about politics when I was growing up. I can't remember ever having a conversation about voting or foreign policy or anything of the sort. Did they somehow influence me in a subconscious way? Or was I born right of center and just viewed everything through that lens?

We talk about knee-jerk reactions, but isn't that just following your gut? The first blog I ever saw was U.S.S. Clueless and I immediately felt at home. Even before I had studied anything concrete about how the world works, I simply nodded my head in agreement and felt deep in my instincts that what Den Beste writes is true. No one had to teach me that; in fact, much of what we encounter in higher education these days should have persuaded me just the opposite. How was I not convinced?

I sure don't have the answers to these questions. I have always leaned a bit right of center; what about you? Do you think you were nurtured into your views or have you always felt this way? Did you have an epiphany or a gradually developing worldview?

Posted by Sarah at 01:10 PM | Comments (8)


Kalroy is back! Hmm...I guess I should say "Kalroy is here" instead, since it's funnier. Whatever. Anyway, he's back from his Ultra-Secret Mission that started in January, and he's already calling bullshit on Noam Chomsky.

I missed you, Kal. Welcome back.

Posted by Sarah at 08:43 AM | Comments (5)


I wrote a long time ago about how strange I thought it was to see my cousins playing Catch Osama in the summer of 2002. But that was nothing compared to seeing these Swedish kids play Behead Nick Berg.

I just can't think of anything else to say.


This video, Seeds of Hatred, found in the comments at LGF is worth watching too.

Posted by Sarah at 07:39 AM | Comments (1)

June 23, 2004


I decided to do my favorite thing before I go to bed: read Notes From the Olive Garden. Again.
Still laughed my fool head off, even after all this time.

Posted by Sarah at 10:28 PM | Comments (2)


Dennis Prager (via Amritas) divides Americans into two groups:

Those who are ashamed of America for being hated and those who wear this hatred as a badge of honor.

For weeks now I've been trying to understand those who disagree with me, and for weeks Amritas has been trying to get me to see that which Den Beste has said before: "It is more important what you stand for than who you stand with." I know this deep down, but my recent feelings of sadness and pessimism have been hard to shake. But tonight I finally understand what it means to be hated.

Sometimes being hated is the right thing. Sometimes being hated is not so much a reflection of you as it is a reflection of those who hate you. And sometimes being hated is something you should wear as a badge of honor.

I grok that now. Thanks for not giving up on me, Marc.

Posted by Sarah at 10:06 PM | Comments (4)


My husband went to Najaf a few months ago to keep an eye on things until 1AD got repositioned. At the time, I couldn't understand why they didn't just go in and kill al-Sadr and get it over with. But that's why I don't make the tough decisions.

Army unit claims victory over sheik (via Andrew Sullivan)

To quote Xrlq, "It’s a good thing I’m not the President because if I were, we’d be carpet bombing the area until the survivors begged for mercy and admitted out loud that their allahu isn’t so damned akbar after all."

Yessir, that's why he and I are not in charge.

Posted by Sarah at 09:45 PM | Comments (1)


I started watching Band of Brothers this week. I watched Parts I and II, and the thing that stuck with me most was the interview with the veterans at the beginning of each episode, especially the veteran who said that four young men from his hometown committed suicide when they were declared 4-F. They committed suicide because they weren't allowed to serve their country. Would that I had an ounce of their conviction...

Posted by Sarah at 11:50 AM | Comments (7)


I went to LGF this morning and started reading over a bowl of cereal. At the fifth post down, I froze with the spoon halfway to my mouth and let out a nice loud godammit. They killed Kim Seon-Il. I'm not surprised, but now I'm mad as hell. Fuming mad. How many more heads do they have to hack off before the rest of the world gets mad too?

My "bring it on" yesterday was just the start. Every day, I get angrier and angrier, and it only steels my resolve.


I hope Amritas is wrong, but his words ring true in my ears:

I wish I could say I was surprised, but I know what barbarians can do. I also wish his death will not be in vain, but I know what the Left wants to do.

Posted by Sarah at 08:09 AM | Comments (7)

June 22, 2004


(Via Blackfive) Troops kill 13 in fierce 12-hour firefight near Baqubah

Sources in the governor’s office claim that rebels who fought in Najaf and Fallujah during the insurgency uprising there in April and May are paid to travel to Baqubah to kill Americans and to undermine efforts by coalition forces to establish a new Iraqi government.

In my loudest roar: BRING IT ON!

Posted by Sarah at 01:30 PM | Comments (6)



Posted by Sarah at 10:18 AM | Comments (6)


Robert Alt offers a funny yet frightening look at the inconsistency of the Left.

(Thanks, Bunker. Bubba will be mad that I posted it too, but I think all those tidbits juxtaposed summarize the chaos the Democrats currently represent.)

Oh, and Drill Sergeant Rob's post is mighty good too.

Posted by Sarah at 09:49 AM | Comments (16)

June 21, 2004


I'm still struggling with my place in this world. (Boy, is that an understatement.) I've been stuck thinking about a quote from page four in my book for over a week now:

Seen in either geological or biological terms, we don't warrant attention as individuals.

I thought about that concept a lot when I was reading Cosmos too. I don't matter much. In the grand scheme of things, on the universe level, I'm laughable. But even on smaller levels I'm having a hard time figuring out my purpose in life, figuring out how I matter as an individual.

My husband is fighting an insurgency to try to create a stable democracy on the other side of the world. I teach people how to write. The absurdity of those two jobs juxtaposed makes me sick sometimes.

I'm the best military wife I know how to be. I write him a letter every day. Deskmerc said I have to make the country worth defending; I try to do that. I try to stay optimistic and positive, despite the fact that I haven't seen our post flag at anything but half-mast for months now. I can even be Edith Roosevelt if I have to, and I would if it came down to it. But there are many days when I'm simply not satisfied being a just a military wife.

I want to warrant more as an individual.

Posted by Sarah at 11:24 AM | Comments (8)


The LA Times poll: splashed across the front pages
The Harris poll from last week: nonexistant

(I still don't think the results matter, but I do think it matters that the papers ignore the one where Bush is shown winning.)

Posted by Sarah at 09:45 AM | Comments (3)


Lileks echoed my current worry!

Sometimes the disconnect between the editorial page and the real world is so vast I wonder whether we can ever agree about anything any more.

Read the whole Bleat. He writes better than I do.

Posted by Sarah at 08:16 AM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2004


I am prejudiced.

Actually, I don't really think that's the right word, since the definition of prejudiced includes the phrases "formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge" and "an irrational attitude", neither of which do I think qualify in this instance. But there's no other word for having a negative opinion of an entire group of people based on two years of research.

So we're gonna go with prejudiced.

I don't know that many Muslims one-on-one. I am friends with one Muslim family from Iran who begs my husband to invade their country every time they see him. I know of a few Muslims in the Army, including one who is wonderful and one who scares the crap out of me. On an individual level, I'm sure I could like many Muslims. But on a larger scale, I have no love for Islam.

I personally don't care what someone believes in private, and I think everyone has a right to believe or not believe whatever he chooses. There is however a major difference in the way each religion presents itself to the world. What are the major current news stories dealing with Christianity? Whether the 10 Commandments should be in a courthouse or whether Christianity should be mentioned in the EU Constitution. What are the major news stories on Islam? Beheadings, suicide bombings, and honor killings. Those two things, to quote Jules, "ain't the same ballpark, ain't the same league, ain't even the same f*ckin' sport."

Den Beste just found a hazily-attributed speech on the Muslim world. One section addresses the fundamental differences in "common ground":

The civilized world believes in democracy, the rule of law, including international law, human rights, free speech and free press, among other liberties. There are naïve old-fashioned habits such as respecting religious sites and symbols, not using ambulances and hospitals for acts of war, avoiding the mutilation of dead bodies and not using children as human shields or human bombs. Never in history, not even in the Nazi period, was there such total disregard of all of the above as we observe now. Every student of political science debates how you prevent an anti-democratic force from winning a democratic election and abolishing democracy. Other aspects of a civilized society must also have limitations. Can a policeman open fire on someone trying to kill him? Can a government listen to phone conversations of terrorists and drug dealers? Does free speech protects you when you shout “fire” in a crowded theater? Should there be death penalty, for deliberate multiple murders? These are the old-fashioned dilemmas. But now we have an entire new set.

Do you raid a mosque, which serves as a terrorist ammunition storage? Do you return fire, if you are attacked from a hospital? Do you storm a church taken over by terrorists who took the priests hostages? Do you search every ambulance after a few suicide murderers use ambulances to reach their targets? Do you strip every woman because one pretended to be pregnant and carried a suicide bomb on her belly? Do you shoot back at someone trying to kill you, standing deliberately behind a group of children? Do you raid terrorist headquarters, hidden in a mental hospital? Do you shoot an arch-murderer who deliberately moves from one location to another, always surrounded by children? All of these happen daily in Iraq and in the Palestinian areas. What do you do? Well, you do not want to face the dilemma. But it cannot be avoided.

These are real dilemmas that we face because of the nature of radical Islam. Charles Johnson gets a lot of crap for Little Green Footballs, but most of what he does is just link to articles about what's really going on in the Middle East. Sure, he has his own opinions on the matter, but he's not fabricating these stories of bus bombings, crazy imams, or auctions of Jewish body parts. Those things are really happening in the world, despite what anyone thinks of Charles' weblog. And I do think that those things are disgusting and antediluvian; I won't apologize for saying so.

No, not all Muslims are terrorists; I have nothing but respect for Zeyad, Ali, Omar, Muhammad, and other Iraqi bloggers. But Muslims as a group have some serious problems, and when these problems cause them to fly planes into buildings and kill my countrymen, then they're walkin' on the fightin' side of me. And I will not apologize for enjoying Allah's t-shirt, especially when others in this world feel no shame at wearing a Burn Israel Burn shirt.

Yes, I have a real problem with Muslims, especially since very few of them are standing up and renouncing the horrible things LGF reports on. When the moderates start taking back their religion from the loonies, I will have more respect for Muslims, but until that day I will remain prejudiced.

(I'm sure that's not what Can't Win wants to hear when he asks, "Do you have deep-rooted hostilities towards Arabs and the Islamic faith?", but it's the truth. And I'm pretty sure a few of my regular readers agree with me.)

Posted by Sarah at 11:57 AM | Comments (11)

June 19, 2004


10 Things I Love About Others' Weblogs

1. the rotating photos of the universe at U.S.S. Clueless

2. The Dissident Frogman's movies

3. the disclaimer that pops up when you comment over at Bunker Mulligan

4. Kim du Toit's skin pics

5. Allah's t-shirt

6. the picture of the ever-cheerful CPT Patti

7. The Gobbler Motel

8. South Park Pixy

9. Amritas' blogroll

10. The propaganda posters on The Mudville Gazette

Posted by Sarah at 09:38 PM | Comments (4)


I did some major catching up with Iraq Now this morning. Jason has a good post on journalists and the gotcha question. I agree with him; the majority of questions that reporters ask in news conferences do nothing to educate the general public. He also links to Iraqis who were decorated for saving a Marine, more bunk from the media who misreport the IRR and simple military rank, and a journalist who doesn't believe newsrooms lean left and says he'll be "calling Peoria". I hope he does, and I hope my mom answers and gives him an earful!

Posted by Sarah at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)


I went out to dinner last night and Oda Mae outted me: now everyone knows I'm a blogger. I had my own version of this conversation, and we all had an interesting discussion about current events and the news.

I came home after 2300 and hit the button on the answering machine: "Hi. I know you're at dinner, but I was just upset. Those son of a bitches just beheaded that Paul Johnson who was in Saudi Arabia." Even though I was tired enough to fall asleep in the hallway, I got on the computer. I looked at the pictures. And I started thinking before I went to bed.

Besides studying the French Revolution, I had never really given beheading much thought. And now in the past month I've learned of three beheadings. Nick Berg. Sieng Padkaew. Paul Johnson. I never in my life thought I'd see someone's head being held up for the camera, or someone's head sitting in the small of his back. That's footage for Kill Bill, not reality.

But that's really happening in the world. I think we do need to face the music. We need to be honest with ourselves about how our enemy plans to win this war, and we need to start telling it like it is.

Seppo wrote Thursday about war propaganda (Thanks, Bunker) and its role. By ignoring the growing threat that these Islamists pose, by turning a blind eye to the videos and photos they themselves take of their murders, I too fear we might ultimately lose the War on Terror. Or not have the fortitude to see it through. As Seppo said: "What is it that the networks believe we've lost in 60 years? What values and strengths held by my grandfather do I not have? And who in the hell gave them the right to make that judgement for me?"

I read Nick Schultz' article on Saddam's torture tapes this morning. I have a stomach of steel for these things, but I gasped out in fright as I read the descriptions of torture. I covered my eyes and cringed, and that was just reading the description. Then came the ending that made me take notice:

I must confess that in recent weeks I had begun to harbor some doubts about a war I had supported. And I was not the only war supporter to begin second-guessing recently. We doubting Thomases had been perhaps most perplexed at President Bush, steadfast in the wake of mounting Coalition deaths, the Abu Ghraib scandal, and other bad news. Did this man not see what we were seeing?

There is no doubt that he had. But President Bush — along with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has also remained resolute despite withering and unfair criticism at home — had also seen things that we had not. Seeing this footage helps one better understand the mindset of President Bush and of his stalwart British ally and explains their resolve in the face of tremendous difficulties and setbacks. Seeing these films and ones like them out there, will, I believe, make any fence sitter shed his doubts about the appropriateness of destroying Saddam's regime. If anything, they make one wonder, almost shamefully, how and why it took the civilized world — or at least part of that world — as long as it did to rise up against it.

The enemy makes videos of beheadings to rally terrorists and feed their bloodlust. I think we need to see these images -- face this reality -- so that we don't lose sight of how our enemies plan to win.

And then we need to make damn sure they don't succeed.

Posted by Sarah at 11:45 AM | Comments (15)

June 18, 2004


An interesting letter from a Major in the Marine Corps Reserve:

The analogy is simple. For years, you have watched the same large, violent man come home every night, and you have listened to his yelling and the crying and the screams of children and the noise of breaking glass, and you have always known that he was beating his wife and his children. Everyone on the block has known it. You ask, cajole, threaten and beg him to stop, on behalf of the rest of the neighborhood. Nothing works. After listening to it for 13 years, you finally gather up the biggest, meanest guys you can find, you go over to his house, and you kick the door down. You punch him in the face and drag him away. The house is a mess, the family poor and abused — but now there is hope. You did the right thing.

Posted by Sarah at 07:34 AM | Comments (7)

June 17, 2004


I just got to instant messenger with the husband's best friend! It's so good to hear from him. He thanked me for being his "surrogate wife"; I told him it's twice as fun to have two soldiers to take care of (I send him two letters per week and I'm constantly running errands for him around here). I really miss him too; he was a regular fixture at 1830 when The Simpsons comes on. I can't wait to have both of my boys back in the house, drinking Newcastle and laughing like they haven't seen each episode a hundred times.

Posted by Sarah at 10:39 PM | Comments (2)


As I drove home tonight, this song's lyrics hit me

Pride can stand a thousand trials
The strong will never fall
But watching stars without you
My soul cries

Today my husband said that he worries about me. I find that ironic, considering his situation is so much more worrisome than mine. He said he worries I'm bored and lonely without him; I told him I manage to keep quite busy but that I can't wait for him to come home so I can take care of him again. I'm watching stars without him, and my soul does cry at times, even though I wish it wouldn't.

I'm so thankful that blogging has brought me comfort. I have no children or pets, so the house can seem awful big for just me and that houseplant (which I did cut, by the way, and it looks great). But I haven't felt too lonely thus far because I can always run to the computer and visit all of my new friends. I'm grateful for each and every one of you. She who sends me postcards. He who made me a CD. She who wants to be a Marine. He who offered to tape the new episodes of Family Guy for my husband. She who makes commenting blunders. He whose family calls me his "girlfriend". She who thought she wasn't allowed to read my blog without my permission. He who's happy his children want to move to the US. She who IMs with me each morning. He who said I look cute in the tank. And all the rest who simply email and comment to express their support. I'm so grateful to have each and every one of you standing beside me through this deployment.

It makes watching stars without him a little more bearable.

Posted by Sarah at 10:09 PM | Comments (4)


Journalists consider themselves impartial. I saw that in Under Orders, Under Fire when prompted to watch it by this Den Beste post. Deskmerc wonders just how far their impartiality extends, but I'm honestly starting to wonder just how they can consider themselves impartial when they only seem to be reporting on the bad news...

Some who stayed wished they hadn't. They told of savage scenes of decapitation, fingers chopped off one by one, tongues hacked out with a razor blade — all while victims shriek in pain and the thugs chant Saddam's praises.

Saddam's henchmen took the videos as newsreels to document their deeds in honor of their leader.


Saddam's torture videos may be too awful to show, but it's hard to explain the low media interest in the story of seven Iraqi men who had their right hands chopped off by Saddam's thugs — and then got new prosthetic arms and new hope in America.

They're eloquent, they're available, they're grateful for the U.S. liberation of Iraq. No one can better talk about Saddam's tortures — and no one is more eager to do so. Yet, as of yesterday, the New York Times had written 177 stories on Abu Ghraib — with over 40 on the front page. The self-proclaimed "paper of record" hadn't written a single story about those seven Iraqi men.

Posted by Sarah at 08:07 AM | Comments (4)


We four families in our townhouse paid a neighborhood kid to mow our yard last night. I realized later that he makes more money than I do. One of my students told me that the baggers at the commissary make more as well. Dang.

Posted by Sarah at 07:52 AM | Comments (4)


I've received input from several people lately about the War in Iraq vs. the War on Terror. The common sentiment was that the War on Terror is good and necessary but that Iraq didn't figure into it. They said that we should have focused on areas of terrorism other than Iraq, such as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, or Iran. They believe that taking the war to Iraq was a waste of time and energy and had no real connection to the War on Terror.

I was reminded of their common idea when I read this post today, where David quotes Nelson Ascher:

There were many reasons to invade Iraq, from the WMDs that are being slowly found to Saddam’s links to Al Qaeda, links about which what we know is already enough to be considered a casus belli. Obviously, with time we’ll know more about both things. But the geo-strategic reasons were even more important: after all Iraq has borders with Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran, none of which could have been invaded as easily, quickly and legitimately. Besides, Iraq was a good place from were to scare other governments in the region, that is, the pour encourager les autres factor.

Yes, Iraq is strategic. It gets us a lot closer to other terror-supporting states, and a democracy in the middle of these other states will make a big difference. But there are many reasons for extending the War on Terror to Iraq. Let's not ever forget that part of the reason for invading Iraq was because Hussein had not done what he was supposed to do after the Gulf War, as QandO has laid out in detail in Justification: A Post-War Review. The fact that large quantities of WMDs have not been found (nevermind that we found sarin-filled IEDs or that the UN admits Hussein shipped weapons out on the eve of war) cannot possibly rewrite history enough to hide the fact that everyone thought Iraq had WMDs. Iraq seemed to be a bigger threat than perhaps she turned out to be, but that's hindsight we didn't have before.

Yes, I do think we need to continue to focus on Afghanistan, and we are: many of my students are already slated to head to Afghanistan at the end of the year. I do think that Iran and Syria are in the plans for the future, that is if President Bush is re-elected and continues to take the War on Terror seriously. Their uppance will come. As Instapundit said, "this is a marathon, not a sprint, and pacing is required."

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, we went to war against Germany. They seem unrelated when you put it that way, right? Was WWII Also Unjustified? Military strategy is a complicated process, and this War on Terror will take years. Many people seem to think that they could do a better job of leading the troops and our government, but I am not one of those people. For all the mocking he endures, the President is not stupid. In no way do I think I'm smarter than he, or Rice or Rumsfeld; they know far more about the intricacies of the War on Terror than I ever will. I think it's a tad arrogant of these people who have voiced their opinions to me lately to think that they know better than our leaders which countries warrant our attention over others. Just because we read a few articles doesn't mean we are privy to everything our leaders know.

I have faith that our leaders have spent far more hours than I have studying our options, and I trust that this War will be fought on several fronts for years to come. Pacing is required.

Posted by Sarah at 07:34 AM | Comments (20)

June 16, 2004


I now introduce a new segment here at trying to grok that I like to call

Make-Up and Houseplants

My younger cousin was Junior Miss Oklahoma. She's got the pageant thing down cold, and when I told her I don't really do such a good job with make-up, so agreed to give me a hand. I told her I can't wear eye make-up because it looks funny, so she grabbed her supplies and went to town. Five minutes later she was staring at me with a that's-not-right look on her face and said, "Well, maybe you're right." Even Junior Miss Oklahoma can't fix me up!

And I have this houseplant I bought last summer. Actually, I hung it outside until my neighbor kindly told me it would die in direct sunlight. How are we supposed to know these things? I brought it inside and hung it from the ceiling, and it's almost touching the floor. I babysat the wrinkly puppy on Sunday, and he kept biting the vines and tugging on them. I don't know what to do with it.

(Psssst. Are the mean ones gone yet?)

Posted by Sarah at 08:24 AM | Comments (8)

June 15, 2004


Imagine my surprise when I saw this story via Tim:
Two Army wives put careers on hold to aid injured soldiers at Landstuhl
I know Heather Twist; her husband was in OBC with mine. She's even commented a couple of times here on my blog. I'm particularly amazed that she has done this wonderful deed without "bragging"; I didn't even know about it until I read the article. Heather, I'm so proud to know you.

So how can I help?

Posted by Sarah at 10:28 PM | Comments (0)


Carla wanted me to talk about my wedding. It was really pretty standard, I would say. We got married outside in my parents' backyard in Illinois. It was raining that morning, which made us all quite nervous, but by the afternoon it was perfect weather. We wanted the wedding to be more like a cook-out than a formal event, and I think it turned out pretty perfect.


The honeymoon was what was a real hoot, though. Because of scheduling problems that came up after 9/11, my husband was told a few weeks before graduation that he couldn't start active duty right away. We started our marriage with four months where neither of us was getting a paycheck. We paid for our plane tickets and hotel for a week in Washington D.C., and after that we were a little strapped for cash. I was actually just laughing about this the other day because as I was looking back through my planner, I saw all the notes in the calendar for the week of our honeymoon: I had kept track of every dollar we spent. There are notations like "$2 = bomb pops" and "$5 = lunch, hot dogs" that crack me up. We kept track of every cent we spent because we really started out with nothing. We've done well for ourselves, considering, and we don't ever plan to budget bomb pops again.

Those little notations are one of the best memories I have of getting married.

Posted by Sarah at 10:06 PM | Comments (4)


I read Sanders' comment here and then sat down to write and saw that Lyana had beat me to my point. But I'll say it anyway. I appreciate Sanders' point, but I think it's sad:

Nah, you worry too much. What's more, you take things said on the internet personal, which is kind of cute in a very naive sort of way.

Internet is just not comparable to everyday life, it's more anonymous, sharper and sometimes uglier. No one in the comments would ever call you clueless fucktard dumb to your face, even more so if they have any personal knowledge of you, but on the internet discussion often end with rude ad hominems. On the other hand, by dispensing with courteousness the arguments are more direct and perhaps more honest.

It may be scary at first, but you get used to it, after realizing they're not talking to you personally, but some anonymous schmoe saying silly things. Live and learn.

If the attacks are not meant to be personal, then what are they? They're not constructive. They're not educational. They're just insults, and insults are personal. Yes, I do take these things personally because I believe in decency and manners. I'm absolutely appalled that those 90 people don't.

I have never called anyone a name in a comments section. Only very rarely have I argued back with someone, and it's only ever been with another commenter and never with the blog host. I have never linked to what someone else has written and made fun of them or pointed out how wrong I think they are, even though the blogger who started this atrios-lanche has done this to me repeatedly. Once I wrote about some silly posts I read elsewhere, but I didn't provide a link to the site because I didn't want to send hateful comments his way. I don't think that's right. I can discuss the other person's ideas without linking because it's the ideas that need discussing, not whether the person is dumb as a hammer.

Yes, the internet allows us to be more open. I talk about things here on my blog that I can't talk about with many of my peers because they either vehemently disagree with me or they don't read the news very often. I'm very grateful that the internet has given me that opportunity, but it's come at a price. If we're losing all sense of courtesy and respect for other people's views and "space" (as in it's my blog and you've come to my space to call me names), then I think that's sad.

Many of those commenters from the weekend probably have kids. What if I printed out their comments and showed them to their kids. Look, Timmy, your daddy called me clueless fucktard dumb. And then I explained to little Timmy that his daddy called me that simply because he disagreed with what I had to say. That's a bad lesson to teach your kids.

My mother reads my blog. So does my first grade teacher. I try to conduct myself in a way that would make both of them proud because they taught me that showing others respect is important. It's a shame others weren't taught the same.

Posted by Sarah at 04:28 PM | Comments (17)


I was so busy with that damn poll stuff yesterday that I missed the Army's birthday. You can't imagine how horrible that makes me feel.

Happy Birthday to the greatest institution I've ever had the privilege of being a part of.

Posted by Sarah at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)


So here's what I think about the new BDUs:

1. The boots are a great idea. No polishing. That means no more shoe polish on my bedspread, kitchen floors, recliner, and anywhere else my husband polishes. More comfortable boots is a definite improvement.

2. One uniform for both woodland and desert is also a good idea. We've spent quite a bit of money making sure he has enough of each, with everything sewn on all of them. Genius development.

3. Only summer weight -- good. Friendly fire refector -- good. Maximum comfort under the IBA -- excellent. Zippers instead of buttons -- smart. Pen and paper pocket -- cool.

4. Velcro-on name tapes and rank. Hallelujah, hallelujah. (See sewing disaster from 13 February.)

5. I see the soft cap. Are we getting rid of the goofy beret?

6. Centered rank. Gonna have to get used to that...took me a while to train myself to go to the right lapel instead of looking someone in the eye when we passed.

7. Getting rid of the branch insignia? I don't really like that one because I like to see where everyone's coming from. I'm nosy that way. But maybe my husband will get to wear the diamond for a little while before the uniforms change over.

Overall, as someone who will never actually wear the darn thing but who will spend a lot of time gazing lovingly at one who does, I approve.

Posted by Sarah at 08:54 AM | Comments (5)


Amritas writes briefly about what's been going on in my comments section. He writes about how trolling is wrong, no matter if it's from the Left or Right. His last line hit me like a ton of bricks:

If we can't get along, let's just avoid each other.

I've worried in the past about the growing divide between Left and Right. I'm sure it's always been that way, but before the internet, the only people you could talk to about politics were people you actually knew. The internet has allowed us to meet scores of people who think like we do...but has also brought us in contact with scores of people on the opposite side. Before the internet, calling someone who disagreed with you a clueless fucktard was probably a bad idea, because you'd most likely have to keep working with that person or attending social events together. But on the internet, whoo boy. Fake email address, fake name, and the insults just flow. Why not, it's not like you ever have to see this person.

I keep coming back to February. And I can't get that graph of book purchases out of my head. We obviously can't get along anymore (as the wave of insults in my comments show), so we will only get better at avoiding each other.

We're a country with two political parties, but we may as well be from different planets.

Posted by Sarah at 08:27 AM | Comments (7)


You know my interest in all things Swedish, so I found this comment on LGF very interesting. I'd be interesting in hearing Anders' view. Is Swedish "multi-culturalism" actually this rampant and extreme?

Posted by Sarah at 08:09 AM | Comments (1)


My husband has been gone for four months as of yesterday, and today is our wedding anniversary. I made him a special gift that he certainly doesn't need when the temperatures are pushing 130:


He wrote me a funny email this morning:

I don't have much else to say except I love you and I'm very thankful that
you're my wife. I'm also thankful that an AC-130 didn't bomb our wedding two
years ago. Cause that happens, ya know. I should be able to call today, inshah

Happy Anniversary, Blue 6. I sure do miss you.

Posted by Sarah at 07:11 AM | Comments (15)

June 14, 2004


Happy Flag Day, everyone.



Crap, I really am as dumb as hammers.
Happy Birthday.

Posted by Sarah at 04:17 PM | Comments (9)


Charles Johnson made an LGF drinking game the other day; I think I could make a pretty good one out of the comments section here.

1. Any time someone calls me a rude name, drink.

2. Any time someone calls me unfit to teach, drink.

3. Any time someone gives me a stats lesson, drink.

4. Any time someone mistakenly calls me "he", drink.

5. Any time someone tells me to go back to school, drink.

6. Any time someone writes nearly the exact same thing someone else said previously, drink.

We'll all be trashed before the end of the post.

Posted by Sarah at 09:08 AM | Comments (13)


I wrote several blog posts yesterday that aren't going to get posted. I wrote one about people with bad manners and a lack of common decency. I wrote another about my growing frustration with the divide between Right and Left and how I was starting to feel sympathetic towards the Left until they started calling me names. I also wrote one about how I do indeed understand basic statistics but that I hadn't planned on 2000 people descending on me like vultures so I perhaps didn't word my post in a way that everyone could understand. And I wrote about how chilling I think it is that every one of the commenters wrongly assumed that I bring my politics into the classroom and force it on my students.

In the end, none of these topics matter. Those who came over from Atrios will have forgotten about me by now, save the occasional one who will pat himself on the back for calling me "intellectually bankrupt" and "a gathering threat to democracy". All that really matters are my regular readers, the faithful who understand what I was trying to say even if I didn't phrase it as well as I could have.

I got lots of instruction on statistics in the comment section. No, I am not a statistician or a math teacher. I could learn more on the topic, and I would like to. However, I do have a decent understanding of p-values and sampling and the way that polls can be manipulated. Many people focused on my mention of the 615 people and completely ignored the other things I had to say. Yes, 615 is 50% of the poll size and a "statistically sound" sample size to make the claims that the LA Times makes. I am not arguing that the statistics are bad; I'm arguing that opinion polling is imprecise and not worth betting the farm on.

Gemini was one of the only commenters that I appreciated hearing from. I would like to address what he/she had to say.

I was trained as a statistician (bachelor's and master's degrees). You are making common mistakes that many people make about polls.

Polls are neither Godlike in their accuracy nor total b.s., like the person in your followup article tries to assert. They tend to be as good as the objectivity of the person or organization conducting them.

That's an interesting point, because I no longer trust the organizations who do the polling. None of them. If I have learned anything in the past two years, it's that all sources are biased, even the ones with the best intentions. I don't put much faith at all in the objectivity of any person or organization. In contrast, it seems that lots of people do blindly assume that these polls are conducted by robots who have no political agenda. That's why in my class we discuss how every single media source has bias of some sort, from Fox to the BBC. Every single one. We discuss how it's impossible to avoid but as long as we're aware of it we're ahead of the game. (I don't tell my students which sources I think are more biased than others; that's what bad teachers do.)

One should always read polls with a careful eye. Here are some things to look for:

Read the questions carefully. Are they worded objectively? People with agendas can word the questions in such a way as to get the results they want.

I stated already that I don't think that all the questions were worded objectively. Some of them were decent straight-forward questions, but some were not. I mentioned Q48, but I also think that we might have seen different results for several questions if the words George Bush had been substituted with United States (as in Q16: Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq?). The mere mention of our President's name can send some people into a frenzy, regardless of what the question is asking. These questions with President Bush's name in them were split pretty hard down the party lines; I imagine that the answers might have been slightly different if his name had been left out. It's subtle things like that which will affect the outcome of the already-too-close-to-call results.

Was the sample a random sample? Deliberately not taking a random sample is one way to skew results. It's also why all self-selecting polls (like internet polls) are unreliable - the respondents have not been selected randomly.

What universe was the sample taken from? Likely voters? Registered voters? All citizens? Results are likely to vary for different universes and are generalizable only to the universe they came from. For example, you can't take a sample of "likely" voters and then say that all Americans have the opinions found in the sample - only "likely" voters do.

The sample was not purely random, since the LA Times states that "the entire sample of adults was weighted slightly to conform with census figures for sex, race, age and education." I'm no expert, and I've wasted enough time on this topic already, but I'd guess that voting patterns do not correlate perfectly with census data. My guess is that things like age and education are indicators of who votes, so making the poll fit census data instead of voter demographics is less realistic. But whatever, I can let that one slide.

What I cannot let slide is that, while the LA Times felt it necessary to weight the sample based on demographics, they did not feel it was important to weight it based on party affiliation. According to Mickey Kaus, "the party breakdown in the LAT poll was 38% Democratic, 25% Republican, 24% Independent." (Thanks, Tanker.) Don't you think that might have an effect on the poll results as well? The LA Times spent time and energy tweaking for race and sex; why couldn't they poll an equal number of people based on party affiliation? That seems to me to be a much bigger indicator of political opinion than race or sex, so the LA Times should have tried to minimize that effect.

[snip] Sampling is not a perfect science, but the results from reputable organizations are usually accurate, as long as one understands just what they represent.

That's just my point; for all the hatred I incited, few people actually discussed the poll itself. I'm not sure any of them understood what it represents. No one at all commented about the missing 55% in the original AP report. That's the type of bias I was pointing out in the first place. Why comment on what <20 + 25% of people think we should do, without mentioning the rest, unless you've got a point to make? Why not report that 73% said that there should be no specific date for withdrawal, unless that's not considered newsworthy? I don't think any of these results actually mean anything (the only thing that matters is the actual vote in November), but if they must report on it, they could do a better job.

What I was trying to originally point out is that many people are headline readers; they see the headline Poll: Voters Say Iraq Didn't Merit War, and they don't actually read the article or think about how the questions were worded or how the poll was conducted. They place great faith in the polling process because it's "up to statistical standards", without thinking much about the fact that opinions and feelings are not easy to scientifically measure. A sample size of 1230 for coin flips or jellybean colors or dice rolls is absolutely acceptable, but public opinion is a much trickier thing to measure.

All I tried to say is that polls don't really matter, especially close ones. If a poll of 1230 people showed that 80% of people thought Iraq didn't merit war, then perhaps there would be something substantial to worry about. But polls about presidential popularity and opinions on war where the percentages hover around 50% are worth a grain of salt, in my opinion. A slight change in wording could tip opinion the other way. I'm amazed that Atrios' readers spent their time calling me names rather than entertaining the possibility that I could have an honest point here.

Incidentally, one of the things I teach my students when doing research is an attention to detail. If you're writing a paper on marriage and you use Britney Spears as an example, then you'd better spell her name right. I repeatedly tell them that when they ignore the easily-checked details, it really weakens their argument; how can we trust that your argument is sound when we can't even trust you to check spelling and details? I found the same thing going on in the comments; why should I take advice on paying attention to details from people who didn't bother to notice that 1) I am a female 2) I don't teach at a DoD's school or 3) that I'm not a Christian evangelical?

Come to think of it, why should I take advice from people who call me "clueless fucktard dumb" or say that I write "incredible dumbfuckery", that I "have no business teaching anyone anything", that I am "a gathering threat to democracy", that I should "shut the fuck up", and that I probably "don't even have a high school diploma, let alone a college degree"?


Darkwater wrote me a huge email and included a lengthy comment here. I have read both, and I'd like to point out something that I think is apples and oranges.

I *strongly* take exception to your point that "polls don't matter, especially close ones." In my years of dealing with statistics, some of the most illuminating results have been the ones where the p-value is on the hairy edge of the rejection regime. Some of the most interesting tests I've been involved in are the ones where there is no clear answer to the question of whether "system A" is better than "system B". Such tests force the decision-makers to readdress what information they wanted to get out of the test, and reassess their appetite for risk before going ahead with a test.

Darkwater does military testing for the Department of Defense. For him, I assume close calls are controlled experiments measuring, as he said, whether 'system A' is better than 'system B'." That's science. Opinion polling is not science. There are way too many variables that can't be controlled for. A large part of our population relies on caller ID and answering machines to screen their calls; those people will not be participating in the polls. Neither will people whose primary phone number is a cell phone, where they'd be paying for the call. But let's say the poller does get through to someone who agrees to do the poll, and three questions into the call that person realizes he's not informed enough to accurately answer the questions. He can either 1) stop the poller and excuse himself, 2) answer "no opinion" on everything, or 3) guess at what he thinks the "right" answer is. Based on what's been going on in the media, do you think someone will guess that President Bush is doing a good or bad job with Abu Ghraib? People who don't pay that close of attention might not know that the investigation into Abu Ghraib was nearly complete and court martials were already beginning before CBS ever got ahold of the story. But the way the story splashed across the front pages, someone who is not as informed might assume that it's being handled poorly and that "bad job" is the answer the poller is looking for (the poller works for the media, the media says it's a bad job...). That's just one example. There are many people out there who don't read blogs and don't stay up-to-date on politics, yet they might still give the poll a stab. And they might try to guess what the "educated" and "right" answer to each question would be. That's not scientific. Opinions are not hard facts. Using the scientific method to check System A against System B is science (the implementation of either system might then have to mingle with politics, as Darkwater implies, but the actual research is scientific.) Calling a bunch of people and asking them questions is deeply flawed. Though the statistical analysis of the data might be sound, any experiment where someone can try to guess the "right" answer is not hard science.

That's all; I'm done discussing this poll.

Posted by Sarah at 09:06 AM | Comments (47)

June 11, 2004


When my students and I study media bias, this might be a perfect article to discuss:

A majority of American registered voters now say conditions in Iraq did not merit war, but most are reluctant to abandon efforts there, according to a new Los Angeles Times poll.

A majority? How big of a majority?

Voters are increasingly concerned that Iraq is a quagmire America cannot escape, and they are doubtful that a democratic government will be established there, according to the poll published in Friday editions of the Times.

No scare quotes in there? Did the questions in the poll include these words "Is Iraq a quagmire America cannot escape?" or are they the biased drivel straight out of L.A.?

Fifty-three percent of respondents said the situation in Iraq did not merit war, while 43 percent said war was justified. When the same question was asked for Times polls in March and November, the numbers were precisely reversed.

But less than 20 percent said America should withdraw its troops within weeks, and 25 percent said the U.S. should set a deadline for pulling out.

Less than 20 + 25 = max 45%. What did the remaining 55% have to say? Obviously nothing that the LA Times thought was newsworthy. And what was the margin of error, by the way?

The poll, which was conducted from Saturday to Tuesday, surveyed 1,230 registered voters nationwide. It had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

The U.S. population is estimated at close to 300 million right now, and we're supposed to get worked up over what 1,230 people who are registered voters have to say? Hell, I only just registered yesterday, so I would've been ineligible. And if the margin of error is plus or minus 3%, and 53% of these 1,230 people thought war was not necessary, then perhaps only 615 people in the whole USA said this.

615 people. How on earth is this supposed to be representative of the voice of America?

A majority of voters said presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry has done little to help: The poll found that 34 percent said Kerry has not offered a clear plan to handle the war, while 15 percent said he has. The other voters said they didn't know.

Ha ha ha. That last line is a hoot.


Since I certainly wouldn't want Groucho to think I was lazy or stupid, I went and registered for the LA Times so I could read the poll. Turns out it was AP who came up with the quagmire quote all on their own; LA Times chose the expression "bogged down". AP also left out many positive findings in the poll: 52% said the US is winning, 73% said there should be no specific date for withdrawal of troops, etc. At the end of the LA poll we see this disclaimer:

Poll results may also be affected by factors such as question wording and the order in which questions are presented.

At least they're aware of it; I think it's highly biased to ask whether Americans support President Bush by framing the question like this:

Q48. As you may know, John Kerry has said that President Bush has lost credibility around the world and that only a new president can rally the support of US allies to help stabilize Iraq. Do you agree or disagree with this assessment by Kerry?

That's a loaded question, since in order to answer it you have to accept the fact that 1) we care what other countries think and 2) we actually need to rally certain former-allies; I don't accept either of those premises. How would I answer that with a yes/no? It's not possible.

So I hope Groucho is happy that I took the time to read the original. I still think that all polls of this nature are worthless, but now I know for sure that the AP was hilariously biased in their reporting and that the original poll contained loaded questions.

I guess I've learned something today. I learned that people who tick me off can incite me to do more research and strengthen my opinion with even more facts than I had before.


More on why all polls -- not just this one -- are irrelevant.


Well, it's time for bed on my side of the world, so I think 90 comments are plenty for one day. Thanks for participating...

Posted by Sarah at 10:36 PM | Comments (90)


OK, just to clear something up, even though it's 0100 and I really shouldn't be tackling this subject at such an hour: it seems I pissed some people off when I wrote about Objective Truth. Believe you me when I say that I do think that there is truth out there. I think there's a right and wrong, and I just recently wrote a post about thinking in black and white. I haven't changed my mind in one week. I think there's real true-ness, as in facts that can be proven, but I don't think there's "Objective Truth", as in something that everyone accepts as truth.

Was Reagan a national hero who deserves to be on the $10 bill or is it that "the world will be a better place without that fascist f*cker's presence to soil it"? How can those two things be so polar? Isn't there Objective Truth out there? I don't think most people are capable of it. If we were capable of Objective Truth, then we wouldn't have such a shocking juxtaposition of opinions on Reagan.

So, to try to better explain what I meant, I do think that there are facts out there, but I don't think that most people are able to look past their bias to see them. So we end up with two truths.

For real, it's way too late to be writing this.

Posted by Sarah at 01:11 AM | Comments (33)

June 10, 2004


I'm probably the only person who's thinking about Pim Fortuyn today, but something in Between War and Peace got me thinking. In 2002 my Swedish teacher was from the Netherlands, so when Fortuyn was killed it actually registered with me. I didn't follow it closely (this was back when I was fingers-in-ears), but I at least knew the basics of Fortuyn's controversial politics. Today I started trying to find out more about him and what happened. I read lots of stuff on this Pim Fortuyn Forum and also read that -- surprise, surprise -- Van der Graaf killed him "for the sake of The Netherlands' Muslim population". It's no lie that everywhere in the world that there's conflict, Muslims are somehow involved.

Posted by Sarah at 03:47 PM | Comments (16)

June 09, 2004


The other day on the phone, my husband told me about the many young Iraqi boys who have learned English over the past year by hanging around Soldier checkpoints. He said they're there every day and that their English is really quite good, despite never having had formal instruction. However, they're also picking up the foul language that comes with soldiering, so it's not uncommon to hear a string of swear words or a horrifying insult come out of these teens. "Now there's your cultural cross-pollination," my husband quipped.

Posted by Sarah at 09:03 PM | Comments (4)


One of the hardest parts of being informed about current events and politics is constantly being aware that there is no such thing as Objective Truth out there. Things that I consider Conspiracy Theory are someone else's Obvious Facts. Things I think are Indisputable are labeled Lies by others. One man's Hero is another man's Hitler. I guess I shouldn't have been shocked then to find that I could read numerous blog posts on all my daily reads praising and honoring President Reagan, but that there were still many posts out there that demonize and disrespect our former president. And that the lines are cleanly drawn between Left and Right. It's no big surprise that the names on that list of bloggers who bash Reagan include Ted Rall and Daily Kos. The demarcation zone is always right where I expected it to be. It's tedious, really, to know that you're always stuck preaching to the choir, that I'm posting the same thing now that I said back in February. Will we ever reach a point where we understand each other?

Posted by Sarah at 08:55 PM | Comments (7)


I just found out that I work in one of the non-essential Federal offices covered under President Bush's memo for the National Day of Mourning in honor of President Reagan. That means I get Friday off of work. To be honest, I feel rather guilty about enjoying a vacation day a week after a President died. I feel like I should find something meaningful to do Friday to show my respect instead of just hanging around the house and knitting. I'll have to come up with something fitting.

Posted by Sarah at 11:53 AM | Comments (6)


As my neighbor said the other day, "There's only one thing worse than a cuckoo clock: a real cuckoo." We have one; he lives in our neighborhood and starts singing when the sun comes up. Unfortuately, at this time of year that's at about 0530. And a clock only cuckoos twelve times...

Posted by Sarah at 07:01 AM | Comments (2)

June 08, 2004


I got home and got my slip of paper with the blog idea. It wasn't much after all; I just thought of a parallel last night. I watched The Longest Day on Sunday because, well, that's the least I can do. I can't be sure what was hard fact and what was "dramatic effect", but the Germans in the movie kept insisting that the invasion would never be at Normandy and it would never be at night or in the rain. They insisted that the Americans were predictable and that invading Normandy was illogical. It reminded me of the Shock and Awe Campaign, where everyone insisted that Iraq would start with heavy aerial bombing and then ground troops would move in much later. The whole world was shocked and awed when the Marines rolled in earlier than expected.

Pundits all over like to predict what our military will do and pronounce certain events as catastrophic or quagmirish before they have all the pieces of the puzzle. I'm sure that there are things that the military could work on, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they often are planning moves we could never predict.

That's what makes them the best, I guess.

Posted by Sarah at 09:46 PM | Comments (5)


I thought I'd try to simulate my husband's workweek by logging 56 work hours this week, 25 of which fall on Monday and Tuesday. I start teaching again tonight, and so I'm swamped.

I had a blog idea last night too, and I wrote it on a notepad by my bed. I'll be darned if I can't remember at all what it was...

Posted by Sarah at 11:13 AM | Comments (8)

June 07, 2004


This is where I kinda want to do an I-told-you-so dance:

Although Iraq is a major petroleum producer, the country has little capacity to refine its own gasoline. So the U.S. government pays about $1.50 a gallon to buy fuel in neighboring countries and deliver it to Iraqi stations. A three-month supply costs American taxpayers more than $500 million, not including the cost of military escorts to fend off attacks by Iraqi insurgents.

It was never about oil for the USA. If I hear that again I'm gonna slug someone.

Posted by Sarah at 08:40 PM | Comments (14)


I have never read the Harry Potter books nor seen the movies, but I thought that this debate between Mrs. du Toit and James Hudnall over Harry Potter vs. The Lord of the Rings was very interesting.

Posted by Sarah at 02:36 PM | Comments (7)


Why didn't Erik and Ray invite me? Now that would be a reason to go back to France.

Posted by Sarah at 02:25 PM | Comments (1)

June 06, 2004


Joe Beyrle is a Hero. For both sides.

Posted by Sarah at 09:29 AM | Comments (1)


My husband told me that he reads my blog every day when he has internet access. To be honest, that makes me a little self-conscious, since my husband is the smartest man in the world. (Yes, I know I've said the same thing about Den Beste, but we'll just have to live with that paradox.) He also said that, because of the nature of his mission in Iraq, he sees many wedding parties every Thursday, so there's no way the bombing on the Syrian border, on a Tuesday, was a wedding. No way at all.

If you're reading this, Blue 6, know that I love you. Also know that I'm pretty sure you fell asleep while I was telling you a story on the phone, and you're in big trouble, mister. Ha. Get some much-deserved rest and dream of crab rangoon and Captain Morgan. Soldier safe...

Posted by Sarah at 08:29 AM | Comments (3)


My husband's phone call woke me up this morning at 0600, and he told me that President Reagan had died while I was asleep. The fact is I am too young to appreciate President Reagan. I was twelve when he left office, which is far too immature to understand the impact of a president. However, I will spend some time to day getting to know him -- too little, too late -- through the different posts over at Right Wing News today.

Posted by Sarah at 07:53 AM | Comments (0)


On Thursday I read an article in the Stars and Stripes that unfortunately was only in the dead-tree version of the paper. The article was called "German pupils have different view of war" and began:

Young Germans say they weren't taught that D-Day and the ensuing battles brought the defeat of Germany in World War II.

The reporter talked to students at the University of Heidelberg and found that many of them have never heard of Joe and Tommy:

Some of the Heidelberg students hadn't even heard of D-Day. "'Saving Private Ryan?'" said Anna Fischer, 19, of Karlsruhe. "Oh, that's D-Day."

Merde in France found that young people in France have also forgotten about Joe and Tommy:

Most French high school history textbooks are skimpy on the details of D-Day. They tend to focus closely on the challenges and dilemmas of living in occupied France. In a leading text, the Normandy invasion is described in just two paragraphs.

The young people in France and Germany have forgotten, but the Dissident Frogman has not. Last year he wrote Consecration:

To the eye, Bloody Omaha is just a sandy beach.

No white crosses, no huge memorial, no visible signs of those who sacrificed themselves and fought for freedom. No sign of those who fell for it.

Yet I remember "Joe" and "Tommy", heroes with no names but so many faces, who came here one day, fighters for a just cause, in a liberation army.

I was told about them, I read books about them, I saw pictures of them, and I watched interviews and movies. I heard their stories. The Joe and Tommy who got through this, told me about their brothers who didn't.

And they show me why they didn't fall in vain.

I have not forgotten either, though I know no one who was personally there. But I know who Joe and Tommy are, and I felt them with me when I took these pictures five years ago.



We must do what we can to keep Joe and Tommy alive. Read Consecration today. Visit Blackfive and get the history lesson that students in Germany and France are no longer receiving. Or simply take a moment to look at those white crosses -- and note the Star of David too -- and silently thank Joe and Tommy for what they did 60 years ago today.

Posted by Sarah at 07:46 AM | Comments (3)

June 05, 2004


Ray Bradbury is pissed that Michael Moore used Fahrenheit 451 to name his movie. Anders has translated the details.

Posted by Sarah at 07:42 PM | Comments (3)


I hate the show Crossfire. I hate the back and forth arguing and the stressful chaos. When I did invest the time to watch the full two hours of Ethics in America: Under Orders, Under Fire, I was glued to the computer. Here the panelists did not address each other, but only answered the hypothetical situations the moderator posed in a calm and deliberate fashion. They showed each other the highest respect and merely tried to explore their own ethics without belittling the ethics of others. I highly recommend watching the whole thing.

Thus by the time I got to the segment that was highlighted in Why We Hate the Media, I felt more pity for Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace than contempt. Here they were, surrounded by men in uniform who were trying to make difficult decisions about taking lives to protect others, and their jobs as reporters seemed so trivial in comparison. Their ethical systems seemed more trivial as well.

There was more nuance in Mike Wallace's ethics than was suggested in Why We Hate the Media. One exchange that really struck me, which I've transcribed here, after Wallace said that he would not warn the Americans that the enemy was going to ambush them, and would instead roll tape and "remain detached", to use Den Beste's words:

Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft (R): What's it worth? It's worth thirty seconds on the evening news, as opposed to saving a platoon?
Mike Wallace: In other words what you're saying is that the reporter should say, "Hey, hold it, fellas. Americans, these guys are about to go after ya!" and you die? That's really what the question is here?
Moderator: And your answer is?
Mike Wallace: I don't know.

We ask our servicemembers to make these decisions everyday. No, I take that back; it's not even a decision. They do it no matter what. They, in putting on the uniform, have already made the decision that saving other Americans is indeed worth their own life. Standing up and yelling to save others is worth your own life. They don't think twice about it. Yet Mike Wallace, journalist and non-combatant, washes his hands of having to make that choice.

A few minutes later Major Stuart addresses this very paradox:

Major Robert C. Stuart, USMC: I think what we're asking the reporter on the scene to do is -- keeping in mind that that individual is not a combatant -- we expect our combatants to do in the normal course of their duties that which is heroic at all times. We are now all of a sudden charging the reporter with doing the heroic, when that is not...maybe for them it's super-heroic, to jump up and yell and scream and warn the Americans. I think that that's different however than that which we expect from ourselves while in uniform and in a combat situation.

Reporters are not expected to do the heroic, while our men and women in uniform do it every day. Why should we excuse "regular civilians" from doing things that will save the lives of others? Why is that a duty that only servicemembers must obey? Our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Sailors should not be the only Americans who have to face the grim reality that the good of our society is more important than their own life.

Newt Gingrich, surprisingly enough, made an enlightening speech about the role of technology in the changing face of warfare. (And this was in 1987!) At the end, he summarized the whole dilemma between the military and the media:

I don't think we're good right now at deciding "who are we?" Are we Americans first? Are the South Kosanese [the fake ally] then ours? Is it as bad to see our friends and allies get killed as it is to see our own children get killed? What does it all mean? And I think we're right at the cutting edge in this discussion, with the technology and the reality. And all I would say is that the military, I think, has done a vastly better job of systematically thinking through the ethics of behavior in a violent environment than the journalists have.

I agree.

Posted by Sarah at 05:27 PM | Comments (7)


OK, even those of you who don't like rap have to go listen to this. It's footage from Michael Tucker's movie, in which a Soldier raps about life in Iraq. It's a huge download, but I hope everyone can see it. That's pure talent.

(Thanks, Blackfive.)

Posted by Sarah at 10:53 AM | Comments (1)


Best Friend says my husband swears more than anyone he knows. He's obviously never met these folks. They need a good ol'fashioned mouth washed out with soap...

Posted by Sarah at 10:16 AM | Comments (2)


Remember last week when I said I'd strangle the journalist who values "the story" over someone's life? Well, according to Steve Sky and Charles Johnson, I just might get my chance:

MOSUL, Iraq - Coalition soldiers questioned two news media cameramen and a reporter after a roadside bomb exploded near a Coalition convoy two kilometers north of Mosul June 3.

The media, who were at the scene prior to the attack, told soldiers at the scene they had received a tip to be at that location prior to the attack and they had witnessed the explosion.

One of my good friends is attached to 3-2 Infantry. That hits close to home. And those "detached" journalists were going to sit there with their cameras and watch American Soldiers get blown up.

What in the hell is wrong with these people?

Posted by Sarah at 10:09 AM | Comments (9)


I must've been worn out this week because I went to bed at 2300 last night and just woke up at 0930. Wow. I also had a weird dream where I, along with three other people I've never seen before, was invited to give a presentation on the military in front of Marc Miyake's class. And the students were booing and yelling at us, and saying things like, "Well, Michael Moore was in the military and he says..." and I was getting so mad. My frustration is seeping into my dreams.

I have also been living in Germany for a full year now this week. Before we moved to Germany, everyone told us that the weather would be really cold, even in the summer. So when we moved over here, we brought mostly long-sleeved shirts and jeans in our suitcases. We even brought sweaters. And it was so hot on the bus ride to our new post we could barely breathe. We spent a miserable two months before our household goods arrived rolling our jeans up to our knees and wearing the same short-sleeved shirts over and over.

And this year the weather is freezing. All week long I've worn sweaters, courderoy pants, and even a jacket. It just figures...

Posted by Sarah at 09:49 AM | Comments (1)

June 04, 2004


Kevin Sites' post seems to be an accurate picture of what life is like for the combat arms Soldiers: laughter, anger, death, superstition, homesickness, and a maturity that far surpasses their tender ages.

(Thanks, Beth.)

Posted by Sarah at 05:53 PM | Comments (2)


I thought this was only news on the German radio -- where they're talking about the loss of 40,000 jobs -- but Bunker pointed out that the details are in this New York Times article called A Pentagon Plan Would Cut Back G.I.'s in Germany. It requires registration, so I will highlight the important bits.

First there are details of the plans, which won't be officially announced for another two months.

Under the Pentagon plan, the Germany-based First Armored Division and First Infantry Division would be returned to the United States. A brigade equipped with Stryker light armored vehicles would be deployed in Germany. A typical division consists of three brigades and can number 20,000 troops if logistical units are included, though these two divisions have only two brigades each in Germany, with the other brigade in the United States.

In addition, a wing of F-16 fighters may be shifted from their base in Spangdahlem, Germany, to the Incirlik base in Turkey, which would move the aircraft closer to the volatile Middle East; a wing generally consists of 72 aircraft. Under the Pentagon plan, the shift would be carried out only if the Turks gave the United States broad latitude for using them, something that some officials see as unlikely.

The Navy's headquarters in Europe would be transferred from Britain to Italy. Administration officials are also discussing plans to remove some F-15 fighters from Britain and to withdraw the handful of F-15 fighters that are normally deployed in Iceland, though final decisions have not been made.

Then there's the snide commentary from the Lefties:

But some experts and allied officials are concerned that a substantial reduction in the United States military presence in Europe would reduce American influence there, reinforce the notion that the Bush administration prefers to act unilaterally and inadvertently lend support to the French contention that Europe must rely on itself for its security.


Other specialists have warned that the greatest risk is the possible damage to allied relations.

"The most serious potential consequences of the contemplated shifts would not be military but political and diplomatic," Kurt Campbell and Celeste Johnson Ward of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies wrote in an article published last year in the journal Foreign Affairs, well before the extent of the changes now planned became known."Unless the changes are paired with a sustained and effective diplomatic campaign, therefore, they could well increase foreign anxiety about and distrust of the United States."

My thoughts: tough. Germany and France are not our allies anymore.

Posted by Sarah at 05:46 PM | Comments (5)


I meant to link to this the other day, but I said I wasn't blogging, even though I really was blogging, but saying I wasn't blogging was cure enough for what ailed me, so in my pseudo-not-blogging I didn't point this out. Whatever.

Amritas points to an article about some Holocaust survivors who lived in a cave in Ukraine for a year.

Posted by Sarah at 07:27 AM | Comments (1)

June 03, 2004


Just found this old article: Soldier - and That's With a Capital 'S'
From now on I will make a conscious effort to use this spelling change.

Posted by Sarah at 03:25 PM | Comments (2)


The worst name President Bush gets called is Hitler. The second worst is Liar. I started thinking last night about how the many people who hate Bush often hate him because they say he's a liar. He lied about WMDs. He lied about his military record. He lied about the plastic turkey. He lies.

I find this odd because some of the most vocal people on the Left shouldn't call that kettle black. It has been shown many times that Michael Moore's movies and books are full of lies and misleading information. The singer Moby has advocated lying in order to trick people into voting Democrat, and the good folks at Democratic Underground took it one step further (one example: falsely report Republicans in your area for tax fraud). And recently Howell Raines offered John Kerry some advice for winning the election: lie.

What does this mean in terms of campaign message? It means that he must appeal to the same emotions that attract voters to Republicans - ie greed and the desire to fix the crap-shoot in their favour. That means that instead of talking about "fixing" social security, you talk about building a retirement system that makes middle-class voters believe they will be semi-rich someday. As matters now stand, Kerry has assured the DLC, "I am not a redistributionist Democrat."

That's actually a good start. Using that promise as disinformation, he must now figure out a creative way to become a redistributionist Democrat. As a corporation-bashing populist, I'd like to think he could do that by promising to make every person's retirement as secure as Cheney's investment in Halliburton. But that won't sell with the sun-belt suburbanites. Not being a trained economist like, say, Arthur Laffer, I can't figure out the exact legerdemain that Kerry ought to endorse. But greed will make folks vote for Democrats if it's properly packaged, just as it now makes them vote Republican, and in terms of the kind of voters Kerry must win away from Bush, I think the pot-of-gold retirement strategy is a way to work. Forget a chicken in every pot. It's time for a Winnebago in every driveway.

I just find it amusing that the thing many claim to hate most about President Bush is the thing they advocate when it suits their agenda.

Posted by Sarah at 02:35 PM | Comments (4)


The two best paragraphs in the President's remarks at the USAF Academy:

For decades, free nations tolerated oppression in the Middle East for the sake of stability. In practice, this approach brought little stability, and much oppression. So I have changed this policy. In the short-term, we will work with every government in the Middle East dedicated to destroying the terrorist networks. In the longer-term, we will expect a higher standard of reform and democracy from our friends in the region. (Applause.) Democracy and reform will make those nations stronger and more stable, and make the world more secure by undermining terrorism at it source. Democratic institutions in the Middle East will not grow overnight; in America, they grew over generations. Yet the nations of the Middle East will find, as we have found, the only path to true progress is the path of freedom and justice and democracy. (Applause.)

And later:

As we fight the war on terror in Iraq and on other fronts, we must keep in mind the nature of the enemy. No act of America explains terrorist violence, and no concession of America could appease it. The terrorists who attacked our country on September the 11th, 2001 were not protesting our policies. They were protesting our existence. Some say that by fighting the terrorists abroad since September the 11th, we only stir up a hornet's nest. But the terrorists who struck that day were stirred up already. (Applause.) If America were not fighting terrorists in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and elsewhere, what would these thousands of killers do, suddenly begin leading productive lives of service and charity? (Laughter.) Would the terrorists who beheaded an American on camera just be quiet, peaceful citizens if America had not liberated Iraq? We are dealing here with killers who have made the death of Americans the calling of their lives. And America has made a decision about these terrorists: Instead of waiting for them to strike again in our midst, we will take this fight to the enemy. (Applause.)

Read the whole speech if you didn't get to see it on TV. It says many of the things we bloggers have been waiting for the President to spell out.

Posted by Sarah at 07:29 AM | Comments (1)

June 02, 2004


CavX wrote about three military heroes. I had read the first two stories, but I had not yet read the last one. I'm completely overwhelmed by CPL Dunham...

None of the other Marines saw exactly what Cpl. Dunham did, or even saw the grenade. But they believe Cpl. Dunham spotted the grenade — prompting his warning cry — and, when it rolled loose, placed his helmet and body on top of it to protect his squadmates.


I can't even think of anything to say.

Posted by Sarah at 10:28 PM | Comments (5)


A couple of military links this morning:

1. If you can't get rank and unit structure right, what else are you getting wrong?

2. Check out the photo album of Smiles from Iraq.

3. Smash's contact says no way it was a wedding party.

4. And, John Kerry, this one is for you...


Posted by Sarah at 10:34 AM | Comments (1)

June 01, 2004


Normally I write my posts completely off the cuff, but I have put a lot of thought into this one. I even made an outline. It is something that has preoccupied me for a few days now.

I have been accused a couple of times recently of being too close-minded and of seeing things only in black and white. No one likes his flaws pointed out, and I am the first one to admit that I am especially bad at taking criticism. Though I may write with fire and brimstone, I'm entirely too sensitive for disagreement and unpleasant situations (in fact, my students' repeated criticism of me was that I was "too nice" and got too personally involved in their success and failure.) If someone suggests I am close-minded, I will agonize over that characterization for days, as I did this weekend.

I recently read Nighthawk's soul-searching and felt the same questions rising inside of me. Should I be more open to listening to those in opposition? Should I periodically re-examine my values to make sure they're still sound? Do I have an obligation to listen patiently to all sides of the argument and withhold judgement?

My poor mother, who is sick as a dog, has listened to me on the phone for the past three days as I've worked through my faults and beliefs. She has been infinitely selfless as I have prattled on about my own issues, and she was there for the eureka moment today when I realized what has been bothering me.

Should we legalize drugs? Maybe. How do I feel about euthanasia? Well, I can see both sides. What about cloning issues? Hmm, that's a tough one. In most of the social issues I can see valid arguments for the pro- and con-; I even contradictably agree with points on both sides. I don't have a black-and-white approach, and I like to hear what others have to say. Even on issues where I do have a stronger opinion -- like the marriage amendment or stem-cell research -- I can easily see the reasons why someone would argue for the other side. I'm up for debate on any of those topics.

However, when it comes to the War on Terrorism, I believe there is a concrete right and wrong. I don't see this war as a "social issue" that can be debated like abortion or captial punishment. I think this war is necessary, just, and beneficial, and I can find overwhelming evidence to support that belief. What I cannot find is a rational reason why we should not fight this war. I just can't find it. The reasons I have heard from the other side all seem to ignore the evidence I see as plain as my nose and instead focus on butstills.

The butstill. My friend and I were discussing that last night. Someone told her the war was a mistake and gave the example of a (heartbreaking) story he had heard about the death of an Iraqi child. In response, she told him stories of new prosthetic hands and grateful Iraqi bloggers. She asked if he thought those things were a mistake. His response: "No. But still..."

There's always a butstill. Rarely is it followed by anything else. Most of the opposition I've heard to this war is first a denunciation of President Bush and then a butstill. I've seen the anti-war arguments torn to shreds twice recently, first by the lead singer of Iced Earth and secondly today by Marek Edelman. To me, this war makes perfect sense; I am having a hard time seeing this as anything but a black-and-white issue.

I've done a lot of thinking about whether I'm close-minded. The conclusion I came to was that there are some times when being open-minded means being wishy-washy. There are some times when standing firmly for something you believe to be irrefutable is entirely appropriate. I think Den Beste was right when he said, "there are some kinds of situations where the answer is simple, and in such cases if someone still tries to find a more complex nuanced answer it shows that he has no backbone."

So I'll remain close-minded about the War, but if anyone wants to debate me on euthanasia, I'm all for it.


Tammi also writes about thinking in black and white.

Posted by Sarah at 10:17 PM | Comments (7)


See, I try to stay away, and it's just too tempting. I promised I wouldn't blog anything today, and then the most beautiful thing just happened. My doorbell rang, and I opened the door to four little girls. They handed me two drawings -- a flower and some stars and clouds. "Are these for me? Whatever for?" I asked. They said, "Sometimes we just like to make drawings and give them out to people." I talked to them for a little while, and then they headed off to the next doorbell with their stack of pictures. I put the pictures on the refrigerator and will smile every time I look at them. Those four little girls really brightened my day.

(So as long as I'm blogging, I have to point out that Tim has linked to many wonderful articles today -- especially the mysterious one he just calls "required reading" -- and had a very good post yesterday for Memorial Day.)

Posted by Sarah at 05:00 PM | Comments (1)


I don't know how Andrew Sullivan takes a break every year; the hardest thing for me to do is not to blog. Everything I read, every encounter I have in the day, everything turns into a post; for the past eight months I've looked at everything in my life through the lens of a blogger. However, I think I need to take a couple of days off. I have a lot of thinking to do. I'll be back in a few days with a long post about my thoughts. In the meantime, read about The Soldiers You Never Hear About.

Posted by Sarah at 09:13 AM | Comments (1)