31 January, 2007

The Arkin Column -- Update

UPDATE II: Arkin adds. It's actually a rational and even at times conciliatory post. And it differs so markedly from the rest of his writings that I sincerely question its provenance.

UPDATE: Arkin responds--"The Arrogant and Intolerant Speak Out." The phrase "unanimity of thought" in regard to soldiers' thinking appears several times (oddly, that link works, but the post doesn't exist on the homepage of his blog).

William Arkin's vile column has created a blogstorm. Michelle Malkin, Blue Crab Boulevard and Bill Faith have roundups, but I'd like to highlight some things myself...

First up, retired soldier Uncle Jimbo delivers a stompin' in his classic style. He says what I wish I'd written (except for the unladylike profanity, of course. Haha!)

Wow, William Arkin has just dropped a stellar entry in the biggest a**hole in America contest. I was stunned by the incredible amount of disgusting, deranged, disrespectful drivel the wanker was able to cobble together in one hearty F U to the troops. Well Mr. Arkin in true blogospheric fashion F U right back atcha'.

He goes on to thoroughly fisk the column. Well worth a read.

At Op-For, USAF officer John has a powerful reaction to reading Arkin:
And with that piece, every frustration that I've felt over America's new fifith column, every insult that smug anti-war pundits have hurled at the silent stoics in our armed forces, all the false pity, all the overused meaningless cliches ("we support the troops but not the war") that we in the military have endured, every bit of anger that I've suppressed in the name of good manners and honorable debate, reaches a fist-clenching apex.

He then introduces us to some of the great people he works with.

And over at Powerline, John Hinderaker has a brilliant opening line:
The Peril of Newspaper Blogs is that a reporter might say what he actually thinks before an editor catches up with him and makes him stop.

Keep in mind that William Arkin isn't just some random opinion columnist; he is the "venerable" Washington Post's national security reporter. So for those so inclined, the contact page of the WaPo Ombudsman...

And finally, Dan Riehl thinks he's found the common denominator to this week: "It's official: the press has gone to war."

UPDATE: Cassandra replies ...with a calm, rational, and total evisceration. Armed Liberal has more about Arkin's background (posted when he started at the WaPo).

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Arkin, the War and Gymnastics

I'm trying to be patient and to see things from alternate points of view, but I just can't escape the feeling that the leftist/anti-war types are doing increasingly intricate mental gymnastics to justify their position. This time it's from William Arkin.

Mr. Arkin and I have a history. Last year he linked little ol' me and my under 100 visitors a day as an example of blogs he implied were "bought" by the Army, bypassing bigger blogs deeply "plugged in" to the miltary world. That led to far more trollish and DoD attention than I ever wanted [Check the links/comments above and you'll see Mr. Arkin doesn't have a track record of grasping the essential elements of things military].

Now to his latest inanity:

I've been mulling over an NBC Nightly News report from Iraq last Friday in which a number of soldiers expressed frustration with opposition to war in the United States.

I'm sure the soldiers were expressing a majority opinion common amongst the ranks - that's why it is news - and I'm also sure no one in the military leadership or the administration put the soldiers up to expressing their views, nor steered NBC reporter Richard Engel to the story.

Good. Maybe there's hope of the NBC story being taken seriously.

I'm all for everyone expressing their opinion, even those who wear the uniform of the United States Army. But I also hope that military commanders took the soldiers aside after the story and explained to them why it wasn't for them to disapprove of the American people.

There's the typical condescension. The American people who have never been to Iraq and who don't know much more about it than the daily death toll are far more informed and educated about the situation than those brutish soldiers. Not! What about all that earnest talk about how President Bush needed to listen to his generals and the soldiers? Now we're supposed to ignore them and tell them to shut up?

...These soldiers should be grateful that the American public, which by all polls overwhelmingly disapproves of the Iraq war and the President's handling of it, do still offer their support to them, and their respect.

The hair is starting to stand up on the back of my neck. He's not going where I think he is, is he? He is...

Through every Abu Ghraib and Haditha, through every rape and murder, the American public has indulged those in uniform, accepting that the incidents were the product of bad apples or even of some administration or command order.

"Indulged?" Indulged?! Yes, we must understand that those brutish beasts sometimes get out of hand. But that's okay; they can't help it. The condescension! Here Arkin also demonstrates his ignorance of the miltary with the "they were just following orders" idea. For the hundredth time: U.S. military personnel are required to defy illegal orders (i.e. torture, murder, rape, targeting of civilians, etc.).

Sure it is the junior enlisted men who go to jail, but even at anti-war protests, the focus is firmly on the White House and the policy. We just don't see very man "baby killer" epithets being thrown around these days, no one in uniform is being spit upon.

Wrong. Joshua Sparling was spit upon as he sat in his wheelchair at the protests this last weekend. And "baby killer" and such are becoming increasing popular recently; from the soldier attacked in Washington state a few months ago to the reports from young veterans attending college, it's starting to get ugly out there.

So, we pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society?

One of the favorite talking points of the left is how those poor soldiers don't get the pay and medical care they should (something I agree with). But Arkin's point is obviously that they should be happy with the literal and rhetorical crumbs of support we give the poor misguided souls. And again, hasn't the constant complaint against Bush been that he wasn't listening to "the generals?" And there's another phrase that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck: "let them fight their war." UPDATE: Notice how the use of "in addition" implies that we have already been overly-solicitous to the soldiers in our "support." Sick.

And nobody is saying that we shouldn't speak up. They're just saying that "I support the troops but not the war" is not support at all.

I can imagine some post-9/11 moment, when the American people say enough already with the wars against terrorism and those in the national security establishment feel these same frustrations. In my little parable, those in leadership positions shake their heads that the people don't get it, that they don't understand that the threat from terrorism, while difficult to defeat, demands commitment and sacrifice and is very real because it is so shadowy, that the very survival of the United States is at stake. Those Hoover's and Nixon's will use these kids in uniform as their soldiers. If I weren't the United States, I'd say the story end with a military coup where those in the know, and those with fire in their bellies, save the nation from the people.

Translation: "These wars against terrorism" are just figments of the imagination, indulgent games we've let the military and President Bush play [Btw, that he finds the second sentence above ironic is absolutely terrifying]. Is it just me, or is there a whiff of "better keep those soldiers under control because they're only marginal members of our society and might decide some day they don't like their (proper) position at the bottom?"

But it is the United States and instead this NBC report is just an ugly reminder of the price we pay for a mercenary - oops sorry, volunteer - force that thinks it is doing the dirty work.

Now we get to the crux of the matter--Shades of Kerry and all the leftist arguments about the military being composed of dead-enders and those who couldn't get "real jobs." They just signed up for the money, you know... not patriotism (shudder) or because they thought it was a good way to do an honorable thing or challenge their horizons. No, none of those reasons ever figure into enlistment.

The notion of dirty work is that, like laundry, it is something that has to be done but no one else wants to do it. But Iraq is not dirty work: it is not some necessary endeavor; the people just don't believe that anymore.

Then what is it? Mr. Arkin doesn't come out and say it, but I think his thoughts would be illuminating...

I'll accept that the soldiers, in order to soldier on, have to believe that they are manning the parapet, and that's where their frustrations come in. I'll accept as well that they are young and naïve and are frustrated with their own lack of progress and the never changing situation in Iraq. Cut off from society and constantly told that everyone supports them, no wonder the debate back home confuses them.

They are not confused by the debate, they are confused by the idea that you can support the troops and not support the mission they believe in. They would much rather you be honest about it and say you cannot support them because of what they are doing or that you believe they are simple misguided souls who have been entrapped. At least that way they'll know what you really think.

America needs to ponder what it is we really owe those in uniform. I don't believe America needs a draft though I imagine we'd be having a different discussion if we had one.

And now we get to the real point: Mr. Arkin is among those who don't like the volunteer army because it's immune to leftist attempts to co-opt it for the anti-war effort. Yes, if there were a draft the military could then be filled with soldiers who by philosophy, constitution or character/personality were unsuited to it and the anti-war types could use the military itself for their propaganda.

There is so much in Arkin's screed here. But it's six in the morning and this new job is taking it all out of me. And I must admit that I don't have the courage of so many of my military friends; the fight against words like this seems so futile sometimes. As Lex wrote the other day, "We can spend our lives breaking ourselves on the shoals of academic silliness, and have nothing at all to show for it. Energies must be rationed." Arkin isn't an academic, but it's of the same stripe...

UPDATE: Sanger, commenting at the Castle says it well...

"This is one of the saddest pieces of tripe I've encountered in a while. Soldiers ARE American people, and they certainly have every right to criticize their peers and the people they are fighting to protect. By your standard, however, it would seem they are nothing more than mercenaries and ought to just shut up and do what they are told... "

Or as a military friend of mine put it, he "heard" Arkin's column as the soldier equivalent of "N****** keep off the grass."

Update II: The blogstorm cometh

[h/t to Ry in "H&I Fires" at the Castle]

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30 January, 2007

You Support the Troops, But Not the War?

...Bite me. These guys are a bit more polite about it:

You have every right to think they shouldn't be there. But at this point I think they'd rather you either shut up or said, "I wish you hadn't been sent there but I believe in your ability to do great things, and I hope you are successful."

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29 January, 2007


On a lark today, I Googled "Valour-IT" and came up with an amazing stat--check out the total results. To think that it all started with a handful of bloggers 18 months ago...

Thanks for making it happen.

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28 January, 2007

The Call of the Sea

If you're a regular here and haven't discovered Lex yet, I'm sorry I have not convinced you to visit thus far. But here's another chance for you... The U.S.S. Ronald Reagan's impending deployment stirred his talented muse (and inspired some beautiful comments, too):

But the same “boundedness” that a life at sea entails and which so sharply constrains the sailor’s freedom of movement can also embrace him in its clarity of vision. In both the literal and metaphorical senses it is true that you can see further at sea than you can ashore. The details of life spring out more vividly once free of men and their cities, machines, dirt and pollution.

...On the tip of the bow as the ship gains way, her prow brusquely shouldering aside the waves, a man will be standing alone with his thoughts as he stares into a suddenly revealed horizon. The sea breeze will be in his face, the wind will flap at his trousers and tussle his hair as he contemplates the enormity of God’s creation in that endlessly retreating line. This will also give him the time to reflect upon the infinitely small piece of that creation which he himself represents - a useful exercise in humility.

It's all good. Check it out, and get a glimpse of the call of the sea.

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25 January, 2007

A Steeler and a Soldier

[UPDATE: Welcome, Titusonenine and SteelCityInsider readers. Please feel free to look around. In particular, I invite you to check out Valour-IT, a charity project that helps provide voice-activated laptops to severely wounded troops.]

For a deployed soldier, the thought of leave is often a shining jewel of hope during the first half of deployment. But leave is punctuated by pain, as when it is over the soldier must once again say goodbye to loved ones and return to the war. Some say that goodbye is even harder than the first one.

But for this soldier, a post-leave journey back to war will be remembered as one of the highlights of his life, thanks to a very special football player [I've reproduced and reformatted it here for readability]:

Let me tell you about one soldier’s return flight to Iraq. He saw a man go into the bathroom at the Pittsburgh airport and he thought he recognized him. When the man came out, he went over to him and said, “Excuse me, sir, but are you Franco Harris?” The man replied, “Yes, I am.” And then, being such a big Steelers fan, [the soldier] asked him if he could have a pic of him. Franco was agreeable to this.

After taking the pic, they talked for a few minutes and [the soldier] told him he was on his way back to Iraq. Franco acknowledged [the soldier’s] sadness and gave him encouragement and safe return. They then shook hands and parted on their ways…

The end of the story, you would think, but not so…

You see, after awhile the soldier’s name was announced over the loudspeaker to come to the desk… which he did. Once there, the lady behind the counter informed him that there was an empty seat in First Class and she was going to bump him up to that seat if it was ok with him. He said he didn’t care where he sat in the plane as long as he made it to Atlanta to catch the Army plane, so she informed him that he was now going First Class to Atlanta. He thanked her and went back to tell everyone as he waited to board the plane.

Once he was seated on the plane, he was waving out the window to his Dad and Pap as he felt a hand on his leg. He turned to his side and there was Franco sitting in the seat next to him!!! Needless to say, they talked all the way to Atlanta about the Steelers and then parted with Franco taking his address and giving his signed ticket stub to the soldier as validation of their trip together.

This was a trip not of sadness and loneliness, but one this soldier will never forget and will talk about forever, thanks to Franco Harris. This act of kindness and generosity from this man is one that words cannot express. In my opinion, Franco Harris is “The man of all men!!” I wish I could thank him for making a soldier's lonely flight back to war one of his ultimate lifetime experiences that he will talk about forever. Thank you, Mr. Franco Harris.

--A Soldier’s Aunt

[h/t Barb of Righty in a Lefty State]

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24 January, 2007

US, Iraqi Troops Clash in Baghdad

Read that post title again. That was the Associated Press (AP) headline on a story this afternoon. I saw it on my Yahoo News feed and did a double take.

Of course that headline doesn't describe the story (and if it did, the news channels would be running constant special reports:

U.S. and Iraqi troops battled Sunni insurgents hiding in high-rise buildings on Haifa Street in the heart of Baghdad Wednesday, with snipers on roofs taking aim at gunmen in open windows as Apache attack helicopters hovered overhead.

Hot Air was apparently all over this earlier today. They point out that the article was written--and the headline likely approved--by AP's Baghdad Bureau chief news editor in Baghdad, but they are not correct when they say that the AP has changed the headline. Here is the screen shot as of 8:37 Pacific:

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Life Ain't Fair

Damn, damn, and double damn...

Bloodspite is a prince of a man, a rough-and-tumble cowboy with a heart of gold. And with all he 's done in his 30-odd years and all he's overcome in that brief span, he deserves the best that can be dreamed of. But he's had a tough year, and the latest tops it all: Parkinson's Disease.

He once suffered injuries that doctors said would confine him to a wheelchair for life, but he went on to a job that involved scaling metal towers like a monkey. If anybody can beat Parkinson's, it's Bloodspite.

J, we believe in your strength and we've got your back.

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I'm home for two hours between a split shift that began at 6:15 this morning (ugh). Just wanted to say I haven't fallen off the planet. Last evening I had a wonderful visit as I delivered a laptop to a wounded soldier. We spent an hour talking--mostly about his experiences in Iraq. He wants me to tell his story, and I will ASAP.

So sorry I don't have time to post much these days. I'm beginning to fear blogging and my new job are not compatible...

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22 January, 2007

JR Needs Us

A "little birdie" told me over a week ago that JR Salzman wasn't quite as upbeat as his blog posts had been, but he's finally shared that publicly. He's going through what every seriously wounded warrior deals with, and it's no fun:

Now I’m struggling with the mentality that I’m just a one armed, four fingered gimp. I have sharp memories of the accident that haunt me everyday; the sudden explosion, the taste of blood in my mouth, realizing the bottom half of my arm was missing with nothing left but a couple of fingers and part of my hand hanging off by some skin and tendons, and then realizing how much pain I was in.

...When I think of this [those more seriously wounded] I can't help but feel a little selfish for my own grief. I spend a lot of time crying and I don't know why. Sometimes I look at my hand or I look at my arm and I just start crying. I think of when my hand used to be there, or when my arm used to be there, and what it was like. The arm that was there for the last 27 years is suddenly gone. All the little blemishes, all the little battle wounds, all the little scars from being a carpenter, everything is gone.

...Please remember this when you think about freedom. This isn't a dream, this isn’t some fictional story about patriotism, this isn't some story I'm writing to be a hero. This is my life here at Walter Reed. I am the true cost of freedom. Welcome to my life.

He is right, this is the true cost of freedom. We can't wave a wand and fix it, we can't all give what he has given in time and body. But we must give what we are capable of, whether it's our money, our time, our prayers, or just our love.

He's progressing normally for someone in this situation, but he needs our support. Please, please drop by, tell him you're thinking of and praying for him. Tell him he is loved and appreciated more than words can express, and that we will continue to "be there" for him in whatever way we can. Go now.

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20 January, 2007

Kitchen Stuff

I have wanted one of these since I was a preteen. And now I have one! It's a hand-me-down, but I don't care.

To all of you out there who can afford the $200 for the cheapest model: buy it. It's the bestest kitchen thing ever. Well, that and a set of tolerable knives.

I mention the knives because last weekend we went and pulled a few of my small things out of storage. All the knives were wrapped in paper, so I just grabbed the whole bunch and figured I'd pull out one or two that were better than my mother's. I pulled out the first one and started to chop some veggies with it... heavenly! Result? My knives are now in the drawer and her's are in storage.

I've been reminded once again that the right (quality) tools make cooking an absolute joy.


P.S. Tip for the non-cooking, gift-giving husbands out there: a KitchenAid Stand Mixer is the singular kitchen equivalent of the fur coat gift.

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19 January, 2007

Wish Us Luck

I recently received a very interesting note via my Valour-IT email account...

"I have read several, highly complimentary writings/reviews on what you guys are doing" (PBS, perhaps?).

It was from somebody with intimate connections to a foundation that would like to make a "significant donation." He also reports that he "most definitely" knows of "more financiers out there who would gladly make sizable contributions."

I'll be talking to him on Saturday. Keep your fingers crossed, people. We may be able to set up that endowment after all...

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17 January, 2007

Checking In

Still here, but with brain too drained (or is it stuffed?) to say much of any import.

Today was the first day at the new job---hours and hours of orientation (including CPR certification), plus 2.5 hours of HR paperwork/ID procurement. Tomorrow is another full day of orientation, punctuated by a visit to base Vehicle Registration. This will likely continue for quite a few more days, plus the department-level orientation(s) in a couple weeks. Whew!

So, I'm just about brain dead--the paperwork and meetings are surely sucking the life out of me.

But at least I have the planes. *GRIN* a Hornet came roaring relatively low over us when I was lined up at the gate this morning and literally made my car vibrate and creak, then cut a beautiful arc in front of me before flattening out and disappearing into the sky. And I had a lovely front-angled view (from the freeway overpass/entrance ramp) of an oncoming C-130 in the fading sunset when I left this evening.*

Oh! And being employed for the first time in six months is kinda nice, too. ;)

*Yes, some of you know exactly what I'm talking about, but I'm counting on public discretion.

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15 January, 2007

Donate for Free

Yup. You can donate $3,000 to Valour-IT without giving up a cent.

As part of its marketing campaign, a new website is having people vote for their favorite milblogger. Any milblogger who finishes in the "Top 10" of voting will receive $250.... but the winner will receive $3,000!

Now, here's how you make sure that $3,000 gets to Valour-IT: go to the site and vote for Blackfive! He's promised to donate all $3,000 to Valour-IT if he wins. So, your vote (which is free) could be really worth $3,000 to Valour-IT--that means just about six more laptops for the wounded.

Anybody can vote. In other words, share the link with family and friends and let's see if we can push Blackfive over the top.!

So... Go, vote!

P.S. Blackfive is going to be on the nationally-syndicated Laura Ingraham radio show Tuesday (1/16/06) at 11:15 a.m. EST. Be sure to check it out (station guide here). And don't forget to vote!

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JR Salzman and Valour-IT

Wounded milblogger JR Salzman has an update on his blog. It's his longest post since he was wounded, and I think I know why...

Soldier’s Angels [Valour-IT] gave me a laptop with voice recognition software so that I can type even though I have no hands or fingers to type with.

He obviously is glad to have the laptop. But as is very typical of the wounded warrior, he is somewhat hesitant to accept donations and financial assistance. He has been asked repeatedly to put up a donation button on his blog, but he declines:

Unfortunately my mother was kind enough to publicize a bank account that some friends opened in my home town. I would much rather everyone donate to some of the wonderful organizations out there that help all wounded soldiers, not just myself [he mentions Soldiers' Angels, Wounded Warrior Project and Red Cross]...There are many more injured soldiers out there besides myself. I shouldn't deserve all the attention when there are so many needy soldiers out there. Please help out these worthy organizations, as well as other worthy organizations that you can find through milblogs. Once again I appreciate the help, but I am not the only one injured in this fight.

As he describes in his post, he's had a hellish couple of days. We can't remove the pain he must cope with, but our support and encouragement can help him bear it. Please continue to comment on his blog or write to him (modest gifts such as small "luxury" giftcards for him or his wife--Starbucks, Amazon, any online store, etc.--would probably be welcome):

JR Salzman
Walter Reed Hospital
Ward 57 Room 5741
6900 George Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20307

Update: JR has since edited/refined the post I quoted above and also added the address to the fund his friends set up.

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14 January, 2007

Ours, Not Theirs

CBSnews.com currently has a link to the 60 Minutes interview with President Bush on its main sidebar and I just finished watching it. I found much about interviewer Scott Pelley's tone, approach and characterization irritating. But there are really no words to describe my reaction to hearing him say the following to President Bush:

I was on the battlefield in Najaf when al-Sadr's people killed your Marines.

And seconds later:
Your military officers say that Iranian agents--today--are killing American troops on the ground in Iraq.

Scott Pelley was born and raised in America, an American citizen.

"Your Marines."

"Your military officers."

Doesn't that little pronoun make all the difference in the world? I think I'm going to be ill...

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The Sociology and Politics of Sympathy (updated)

I haven't written about the Boxer-Rice dust-up because it was an ugly bit of political theatre, and others have covered it so well. But the other day I got a very sweet comment that revived it for me:


Sorry, this is in the wrong place, but, for some reason, your e-mail contact didn't work for me.

After listening to Senator Boxer claim that someone without children can't possibly understand the cost of war, I thought of you. Thank goodness she doesn't have a clue about - well anything. Imagine her world, where someone like you would be excluded from contributing solely based on personal statistics. For one, it would be a world without Project Valour-IT and all those who have been helped by it. And the list goes on .....

Please note: If I have misunderstood your personal situation, I will apologize now. I just was floored by Boxer's indictment of not only Rice but every man or woman without children.


I started to reply in comments, but I soon realized it was becoming its own post. So...

OhioVoter, thank you so much for your kind thoughts. You are correct about my personal situation.

I have heard the recording of the entire exchange between Boxer and Rice several times, and I actually came away with a different take than most. Yes, Boxer implied that Rice's judgment was somehow flawed or incomplete because she didn't have a personal "stake" in the results of her decisions. But Boxer's comments came after Rice expressed her sorrow for the suffering caused by the war. So it sounded to me like Boxer was saying that the only people who really understand the suffering or really care about the warfighters are those with families who "have a stake in it."

Besides the obvious that we ALL have a stake in it because it concerns the security and welfare of our country, her statement was obnoxious for the subtle implication that us unmarried/childless types don't recognize (with feelings of tremendous guilt) that people suffer horribly for actions done on our behalf--that to us, it's just an academic question (Boxer also seems to dismiss the significance of our having dear friends who directly or indirectly suffer because of the war). Frankly, Boxer can speak for herself as someone who can't understand the fear or suffering since her family members are "the wrong age," or who feels no sense of inadequacy/indebtedness; I refuse to included in that group.

Of course, beyond that, mentioning Rice's lack of family (of any kind) was a rather personal way to get across her point, even if her goal really was merely to point out that military families suffer. Rice is not only childless, but an only child whose parents have passed away. While she is at least a decade older than me, I believe what I've read of her makes me think I understand her. She has spent her life in situations that put a crimp on her romantic prospects. I believe she finds them fulfilling, but I'd bet money there is a significant part of her that longs for things she doesn't have. The reports of the tenderness with which she is welcomed into Bush family holidays, etc., seem to speak to their recognition of her feelings about a lack of biological family. And then there are the whispers that she is gay (by which standards I could be whispered about too, which is absurd on my part, and likely also on hers)...

What it all amounts to is using merely one's outward social status to judge their inward feelings and perceptions.

I sometimes run into a similar attitude when I first encounter military personnel/families who don't know me. It's getting to be more times than I can count that I've watched the lights go out in prospective military employers' eyes when they find out I'm a civilian. Conversely, people who actually take the time to talk to me come away surprised that I am not military.

Most recently, I spent two hours on the phone with a woman who has been nursing her Marine husband back from a very severe brain injury for years. She needed to "unload," and so shared with me some of her worries and day-to-day stressors, including problems caused by the sometimes-silly/painful things her husband does due to his injury. She suddenly blurted out, "I can't tell this kind of stuff to my civilian girlfriends; they freak--'too much information, girl! Too intense.'" I pointed out that she was telling it to me, and I was a civilian, and I was okay with it. I don't believe I have more sympathy than any good-hearted person out there, and it was that sympathy that she was responding to.

It's disturbing that some in the military and a leftist like Boxer both at times have put forth the argument that not having "Been there, done that" disqualifies you from understanding or truly caring about those who have. Though there is a depth of "knowing" and understanding that usually comes only from experiencing, the suggestion that one cannot feel a deep amount of non-pitying sympathy for someone else's suffering and challenges is absurd.
“As two single women,” NBC's Andrea Mitchell shouted as the two were about to walk out of the room, “Do you think that being without children in any way hinders your ability to understand the sacrifices of American families losing their children in war?”

Rice paused, heaved a sigh and turned back to the cameras, a pained expression on her face.

“No,” she said adamantly. “And I also think that being a single woman does not in any way make me incapable of understanding not just those sacrifices, but that nothing of value is ever won without sacrifice.”

Update: On the subject of sympathy despite a lack of familial connections, BCR says it better.

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Go, Chargers!!!

Update: I don't know who it was out on that field today, but it wasn't the Chargers!

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For those of you who think Southern California has no winter season, and have laughed at my shivering after moving here from Arizona...

Last night the water pipes to our outdoor washing machine (which is under the carport and snuggled up against the wall) froze solid. Which is unsurprising, considering that the low was 23 degrees fahrenheit!!

And it snowed yesterday in a town about 3 miles south of me.

Yeah, it probably wiped out the SoCal avocado and citrus crops. Get 'em while you can...

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13 January, 2007

A Mother in Wartime

Some Soldiers' Mom is another one for whom the President's speech (and the Democrats' response) had a very personal connection, even before it was delivered:

I lay there awake for the next hour with my mind running circles around itself. I can feel the tears behind my eyes. I tell myself, “Well, if there aren’t orders maybe he won’t go... after all, rumors are the adrenalin of the Army that early in the morning.” My heart is beating faster. I toss. I turn. I toss again -- certain that if I just practice relaxation techniques I can leave this waking nightmare for the safety of sleep. [snip]

Thirty minutes before the President’s speech I pour a glass of wine. We listened intently. We listen to a brief commentary. Then we listen to the Democratic response. I pour another glass of wine. I say some rather ugly things to the guy from Illinois [Sen. Durbin]. Great. Cursing at the end of the day as well. But I meant it. It’s not going to be about our soldiers and Marines. It’s going to be about everything but. It’s not going to be about working together. It's not going to be about succeeding in Iraq. It’s going to be about reprisal and retaliation. I say more little prayers.

Read it all, and offer your support as she sends her once-wounded son off to war again... this time amid a full-blown political war on the homefront.

[H/T MilBlogs]

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U.S.S. Ronald Reagan

Lex points us to news that the crew of U.S.S. Ronald Reagan is not going to get their typical downtime before another deployment. They returned home last July and will be heading out again in a matter of weeks.

But even "downtime" is busy. Here are some pictures from recent activities:

The 97,000 ton Nimitz-class nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN76) sails along the coastline while conducting carrier qualifications off the coast of Southern California. Official U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seamen (AW/SW) Kathleen Gorby.

Straddling the number one steam-powered aircraft catapult track on board USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), an aircraft handler directs a T-45A Goshawk into launch position.

[below] Following a “touch and go” on the flight deck of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), a T-45A Goshawk climbs into the sky. The Nimitz-class nuclear powered aircraft carrier is currently conducting carrier qualifications of the coast of southern California. [Both official U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW/SW) Aaron Burden.]

On a cold blustery day, Seaman Recruit Larissa Stanczyk scans the horizon as part of her watch on the signal bridge of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)...off the coast of Southern California. Official U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW/SW) Aaron Burden.

[below] Sailors conduct damage control training in the hangar bay during a general quarters drill on board USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Official U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Amanda Williams.

Turning hard to starboard, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) positions itself to conduct the next cycle of flight operations...off the coast of southern California. Official U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW/SW) Aaron Burden.

Ohhh, I'd love to be out there! So close... and yet, so far [All pics taken from official Reagan website.]

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12 January, 2007

More "Macho Men" [updated]

More "manly" behavior from the new Macho Dems...

New Congressman Steve Kagen has reportedly been bragging about what a manly man he was at the White House congressional reception last November:

[In the reception line] Kagen, still hurting from the hard campaign, reportedly took note that Bush had come to Green Bay to campaign against him and congratulated the president for helping him win in an indirect reference to Bush's low approval rating. Kagen then reportedly greeted the president's wife, Laura Bush, by intentionally using the first name of the president's mother, Barbara, instead.

"I did that because I learned on the campaign trail that the meanest thing you can say to another gentleman is, 'He's a fine fellow.' And then you refer to his spouse by a different name," Kagen is reported to have told a local peace activist group who visited his Appleton campaign office Dec. 19.

In addition, Kagen reportedly told the activists he held the door to a White House men's room closed when he was alone with Rove.

"You're in the White House and think you're safe, huh?" Kagen was said to have told Rove. "You recognize me? My name's Dr. Multimillionaire and I kicked your ass."

The story was first published in a local rag and Rep. Kagen didn't deny it. Now that it's getting national play, he's saying "no comment," though the White House denies that's how the encounters actually went.

Whether it's Kagen making things up or just bragging about what he actually did, he's obviously obnoxious, disrespectful and immature, if not an outright bully. Just another one of those new "Macho Men," huh?

Update: Found a link to the original story (see sidebar), which is far more detailed than what I've quoted above, including an encounter with Cheney. It's from a very "modest" publication, complete with typos, malfunctioning links and confusing layout. It seems to lean heavily (but not universally) left. Adding credence to the thought that Kagen is at least "embellishing" is this mention of his encounters with Rove and Cheney in the Milwaukee Journalist Sentinel, which makes no mention of the ruder aspects of what Kagen has claimed he did.

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In all my worry about passing the physical, I still felt there was a slight possibility that the jerk of a doctor was merely reveling in his power over me and his ability to cause me pain. After his lectures and implied insults, he said my medical history was "unique," and so he would consult with his boss about it. Turns out I was probably right about his sadistic tendencies...

End result?

I have the job!!!!!!!!!

Now, hold your horses. It's doesn't mean everything is okay. The hours start out VERY low, but the long-term outlook (two or so months out) and the hourly pay are very good. But at least I'll have a regular paycheck coming for the first time in six months!

The other good thing is that it's very flexible hours, so I'll still be able to volunteer a bit at the USO and work with the Armed Services YMCA, etc. And I'll also be able to step up and earn some more money by assisting a friend who is starting a business, as planned.

And there's more good stuff! While I have no desire to return to teaching music in public schools, I do enjoy working with children and doing musical things with them. There is strong opportunity for me to do regular musical activities with children in this new job! It also puts me in a military environment, where I feel comfortable and confident as to my ability to fit in, understand the lay of the land, assist military children and their parents, and develop contacts that will support my ultimate career goals . It also will help me continue to learn about military life so that I can build my effectiveness in non-profit military support activities.

So, if I can just get through the next couple months, I should be okay. And this job puts me in a good position to build more of a foundation for my new career goals.


Update: One more thing... the workday starts very early, but my favorite bicycling path (about 15 miles down the freeway) is practically next door to the job. So, I can go cycling in the afternoon on my way home from work!

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11 January, 2007

When Are You Coming Home?

I'll just have to let this speak for itself.

Heather recorded the song, written by her mother, as a Christmas gift to her brother, Shaun Martin, a 22-year-old who is among 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq this holiday season. The oldest of Cindy and Bob Martin's four sons joined the Army in 2004 after a year at Cameron University.

When Heather, a precocious, blond first-grader, learned that her "biggest" brother wouldn't be home for Christmas, she gasped, then burst into tears, Mrs. Martin said.

That spurred Mrs. Martin to finish lyrics to a song she had been toying with and add the music.

It's a beautiful song, and a beautiful singer.

Maybe it's because I used to teach six-year-olds to sing (wish I could give her some tips, haha!), but it really got to me. Another brave family member who got enlisted right along with her brother...

[H/T Sgt. Hook. Check out the comments there.]

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The blogosphere and other media of every stripe are busy dissecting and spinning the news of the President's speech and its implications, complete with political games, raving hysterics, et al. But I have been struck by two quiet responses that are emblematic of the military people I know. They are hopeful that the new plans will work and aware of how it could all go wrong.

Buried in the Armorer's discussion of Bush's speech was this gem about its impact on him personally, with a typical light touch:

I'll do my little bit - to include, at the extreme, becoming temporarily unemployed... the money for the surge is coming out of the budget that's been funding the work we've been doing [as defense contractors] - work that was pretty much guaranteed a month ago has evaporated as the surge sucks the money into different pots and those projects are deferred to next year. This is going to be a lean year for some of us. Hey, there's a war on. S'okay, I'm not worried. Winning is more important than my current job. I'll just engineer a recall... and figure out some way to finesse the physical!

And then, a response from those whom it hits even closer to home: an Army wife with a deployed husband. HFS isn't sure about all of the ideas Bush laid out last night, but here is how she closes her post:

Like a friend of mine said earlier today, "if he (her husband...and mine) gets extended, he gets extended. I don't have to like it but I'll deal." That pretty much covers it. Boring and mundane military life ended on 9/11. At least in my opinion it did. These days, anything goes. As a military spouse, you have to be aware of that. Doesn't mean I won't throw myself on the floor and kick and scream. But I also realize that this is his duty. He signed up for this. He gave his word. And I cannot tell you how much I respect him for that.

I am humbled to be protected by the service of such as these.

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Associated Historians (with an agenda?)

I don't want to be one of those reactive types who just says, "I don't trust a single thing the MSM says. But I keep running into things like this. My heart dropped when I saw the following by the AP (published only seven minutes ago) under the headline "Poll: Americans oppose Iraq troop surge:"

Americans overwhelmingly oppose sending more U.S. forces to Iraq, according to a new AP-Ipsos poll that serves as a strong repudiation of President Bush's plan to send another 21,500 troops.

...Sixty percent, meanwhile, think it is unlikely that a stable, democratic Iraqi government will be established.

Fully 70 percent of Americans oppose sending more troops, and a like number don't think such an increase would help stabilize the situation there.

But then I read this line, the middle of the fourth paragraph of the article:

The telephone survey of 1,002 adults was conducted Monday through Wednesday night, when the president made his speech calling for an increase in troops.

They include this little fig leaf: "News had already surfaced before the polling period that Bush wanted to boost U.S. forces in Iraq." Published the morning after his speech but not encompassing it, it's technically worthless as anything more than a historical footnote. Yeah, that makes the poll legitimate current news. Not! The game is, the media gets to frame what's in Bush's speech ahead of time, takes polls on it before he delivers it, then reports the results of the poll after he gives the speech. Talk about "manufacturing" news!

Jules Crittenden reported this morning:

I found it somewhat telling that as I drove home around 11 p.m., the BBC's report on public radio was more relevant and balanced than what the Associated Press had sent over. The AP was actually breaking left of the BBC.

So, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I just wish I could stop being so disappointed...

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09 January, 2007

Irony Defined

My fortune cookie from supper: "Soon you will be getting the recognition you deserve."

My day that led to it: Spent the morning completing a physical for the job I've been offered involving children. The parochial, misogynistic SOB of a doctor implied I was a potential threat to children and said he'd have to consult with the medical director about whether or not I should be employed in that capacity (amazingly, he found my taking polite but passionate offense to his insult further proof of the legitimacy of his concern).

Extra layer of irony: I've been working with children for literally 20 years (including extremely challenging and troubled children) without ever laying a malicious or harmful hand on a child, and I have often been grateful for the fact I have never had to test my self-possession by standing face to face with anyone I knew who did.

Update: Ya know, being told you're not "the right person" for a job over and over is hard enough on the spirit, but having your character and integrity questioned for no legitimate reason in the interview process by someone who has the power to tank you with a stroke of his pen...

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08 January, 2007

JR Salzman

Even though he's a Valour-IT recipient, I haven't written about JR Salzman yet because his name was held up by some of the biggest blogs out there and I felt just linking to his blog from my humble abode wasn't going to add anything. But let's make sure JR doesn't slip off our radar screens now. Andi of Andi's World visited him yesterday and points out that he and Jossie (his wife) need as much love and support as we can give them. She says he "lights up" when he talks about the comments and attention he's received from the blogosphere so far, that it means more than he can describe.

Some of you may recall the long and difficult road Chuck and Carren have traveled; JR and his wife probably face an even more challenging recovery, since JR has completely lost a hand (rather than having partial use as Chuck does). It's going to involve a lot of psychological adjustment and physical retraining.

As Chuck and any other recovering wounded warrior will tell you, it's all about the mind--spirit and attitude have a tremendous impact on the rate and extent of recovery. JR has been amazing so far--despite whatever may be going on behind the scenes, he's been trying to focus on the positive and keep his fighting spirit. But the wounds of amputation are almost as severe to the spirit as to the body. Just like any other severely wounded person, he's going to have to move though some very dark times during his recovery, times when the love and support of others can provide the edge he needs to keep fighting for his future.

So, please don't forget about JR. His blog provides the perfect easy avenue for you to have a powerful impact through your supportive words. Put him in your favorites/bookmark list and drop by regularly to let him know you're thinking of him and Jossie, offer any other help you're in a position to give, and make sure they know that they are appreciated and remembered even when he's no longer on the frontlines. You don't have to be eloquent or long. Just a simple, "I'm praying for you and your family," or "You've been heavy on my heart," or a congrats when he reports progress lets them know they're not forgotten and can give JR the boost to keep going in the tougher times.

JR and Jossie have given us years of their service; it's only right that we give them our hearts and at least a couple minutes of our time...

P.S.: If you would like to better understand what amputees like JR are going through (and thus how you might best support them), I can't recommend a better civilian resource than Blood Brothers: Among the Soldiers of Ward 57 by Michael Weisskopf. [For the record, I get nothing for recommending the book; I just think it's a superb book for anyone working with or supporting amputees.]

Update: Over at Andi's, JR's mother has provided his address:

JR Salzman
Walter Reed Hospital
Ward 57 Room 5741
6900 George Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20307

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07 January, 2007

Macho, Macho, Men...

Forget the political sides in this NYT article. Rather, I find it interesting to discover what the reporter and those quoted in the story think is "manly." Under the headline "The Invasion of the Alpha Male Democrat," we read:

The members of this new [congressional] faction, which helped the Democrats expand into majority status, stand out not for their ideology or racial background but for their carefully cultivated masculinity.

“As much as the policy positions is the background and character of these Democrats,” says John Lapp, the former executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee who helped recruit this new breed of candidate. “So we went to CIA agents, FBI agents, N.F.L. quarterbacks, sheriffs, Iraq war vets. These are red-blooded Americans who are tough.”

Mr. Lapp even coined a term to describe these manly — and they are all men — pols: “the Macho Dems.”

It's the conscious aspect of this that makes it interesting. And check out how the reporter describes Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer, who conceived this "Macho Dem" approach:

He [Emmanuel] is missing half of one finger — his aides refer to him as “nine point five” — and swears enough to make a Soprano blush. Senator Schumer is so aggressive and demanding that he has a reputation as one of the most difficult people in the Senate to work for. Both men, who have been elevated to leadership positions in the new Congress, are throwbacks to the era when tough-guy Democrats were urban ethnic politicians, like Dan Rostenkowski and Tip O’Neill.

When Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Schumer set out to find candidates to run in the red states and districts of the 2006 electoral battleground they sought their own rural and exurban doppelgängers.

So, being a man is epitomized by scars, a level of swearing that would make the above-average swearer blush, and being so aggressive and demanding that people don't like to work for you. Oooh, now that's the way to attract an alpha-male-loving woman like me. I like my men rude, disrespectful and overpowering of subordinates. [/sarcasm]

“Joe Sestak — that guy’s muscular!” says Mr. Lapp. “He’s a vice admiral. I’ve told him to spend a lot of time going on the national talk shows. He can really do a service changing the mold and the way the Democratic Party is viewed.”

Yup, it's all in the muscles (setting aside the fact that muscles don't top the list of equipment necessary for good admirals). We'll ignore the fact that Sestak is, by most reports of those who knew him as a commanding officer before the new CNO fired him, an overbearing, unreasonable, narcissistic and ineffective leader. Yup, that really floats my boat, too.

Other House members include Minnesota’s Tim Walz, an Army national guardsman; Brad Ellsworth, an Indiana sheriff; and Heath Shuler, a former N.F.L. quarterback from North Carolina.

Biography, it can be argued, counts more than substance....

At least he got that part right...

In the Senate, Mr. Schumer’s tough-guy caucus includes...Jim Webb the former marine from Virginia who turned his son’s combat boots into an effective electoral prop. Upon arriving in Washington, he promptly picked a fight with President Bush at a White House reception.

There's more of that sexy man-behavior: picking self-serving fights with people who could help you better serve those who hired you had you been civil to them (in other words, gratuitiously insulting President Bush is going to make enemies of the very people who could provide access and influence that would make Webb a more effective representative of his constituents as a new senator).

I call this kind of behavior the worst side of masculinity, but that's apparently not how Democrats' political strategists see it:

“Presidential politics, but also the rest of national political leadership, has a lot to do with the understandable desire of voters for leadership, strength, clarity and sureness,” says Jim Jordan, John Kerry's first presidential campaign manager. “Frankly, in the post-Vietnam era, Democrats have come up short by those measures too frequently.”.

The Democrats' strategists call bullying subordinates, valuing biography more than substance, picking fights, and being known for excessively vulgar language "leadership, strength, clarity and sureness?"

Boy, that explains a lot. John Kerry, anyone?

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05 January, 2007


I don't have the qualifications to discuss military strategy and tactics, but the letter to President Bush by Rep. Pelosi and Sen. Reid is far more about politics and philosophy than military strategy/tactics and it was more than I can take. So, I've broken my semi-flexible rule about discussing politics here. Hence, my first fisking follows (letter excerpts in italics, followed by my "translation"):

Dear President Bush,

The start of the new Congress brings us opportunities to work together on the critical issues confronting our country.

Now that we're in power you're gonna have to do what we want you to. But we're gonna pretend to play nice for now.

No issue is more important than finding an end to the war in Iraq. December was the deadliest month of the war in over two years, pushing U.S. fatality figures over the 3,000 mark.

We don't care who wins or loses, we just need to find an end. Yes, there's an easy way to end it: we just just cut the funding. But having to stand up for our beliefs isn't nearly as much fun as using the troops and national security for political games. And the standard of winning isn't what is accomplished despite casualties, it's merely whether or not there have been "too many." We've decided 3,000 is "too many." [Wouldn't it have just been simpler if they'd all died the first month and we could've pulled out then without all the prolonged agony? /sarcasm.]

The American people demonstrated in the November elections that they do not believe your current Iraq policy will lead to success and that we need a change in direction for the sake of our troops and the Iraqi people.

The American people in their vast wisdom and military experience made a congressional election about presidential military policy [how the war was being run, not whether it should be pursued]. And they're all experts on military policy, so we'll do what they supposedly said. The standard for effectiveness of a military action is whether it's "good" for the troops. And the U.S. leaving Iraq is what is best for the Iraqi people because our military is hurting them (all those dead Iraqi women and children that we have targeted since we went there). [And there's that "success" word. I thought the goal was "finding an end to the war."]

We understand that you are completing your post-election consultations on Iraq and are preparing to make a major address on your Iraq strategy to the American people next week.Clearly this address presents you with another opportunity to make a long overdue course correction.

You have been stupidly stubborn when you could have just listened to us the first time, but fortunately you have another chance to come to your senses. See how patient we are to reason with you?

Despite the fact that our troops have been pushed to the breaking point and, in many cases, have already served multiple tours in Iraq, news reports suggest that you believe the solution to the civil war in Iraq is to require additional sacrifices from our troops and are therefore prepared to proceed with a substantial U.S. troop increase.

You see, it's not about what is necessary or needful, but what is convenient. This is a strain on the military [I agree], and so by that standard our only option is to stop. Because, you see, fighting in Iraq is very unnecessary and was just a silly bug you got in your ear all those years ago. We've given you enough time with your little game, but now it's hurting the troops too much. It's not about the objective.

Surging forces is a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed.

We are trying to patiently teach you. Don't you remember that you tried this before? [Nevermind that it wasn't simply "surging" the troops. The idea had been that the U.S. military would clear sections and Iraqis would "hold" them. Unfortunately, the clearing actions in Baghdad were hampered by Iraqi politics and the Iraqi army turned out to be not quite ready to "hold" after all. Serious miscalculation, but it's being recharacterized here for the purpose of argument. Not impressive.]

Like many current and former military leaders, we believe that trying again would be a serious mistake. They, like us, believe there is no purely military solution in Iraq. There is only a political solution.

Don't take "no purely military solution" to mean that we believe the solution has any military component at all. Rather, it's all political. It isn't necessary for the U.S. military to assist in establishing an environment that allows the political powers to operate effectively. If they all just sit down and talk, they'll all be reasonable. Just like we're trying to talk to you.

Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point for no strategic gain.

There can be no strategic gain because we know the U.S. military is full of those poor little soldiers who were tricked into joining the military or got "stuk" there because they didn't work hard enough in school. We know they can't really accomplish anything and so we must protect the poor little dears.

And it would undermine our efforts to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future. We are well past the point of more troops for Iraq.

Because God knows, we haven't given them any responsibility of their own, like lining up for hours to join the Iraqi army and police force, or successfully handing over entire provinces for them to run. [/sarcasm]

[Section quoting General Abizaid that I'm not qualified to argue with]

Rather than deploy additional forces to Iraq, we believe the way forward is to begin the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months, while shifting the principal mission of our forces there from combat to training, logistics, force protection and counter-terror.

We (Pelosi and Reid) are too stupid to recognize that this has been the plan and the actions all along (with the standard for redeployment being conditions-based, not time-based).

A renewed diplomatic strategy, both within the region and beyond, is also required to help the Iraqis agree to a sustainable political settlement.

Because words mean more than action. So since Syria and Iran say they want to help Iraq, we know we can trust them.

In short, it is time to begin to move our forces out of Iraq and make the Iraqi political leadership aware that our commitment is not open ended, that we cannot resolve their sectarian problems, and that only they can find the political resolution required to stabilize Iraq.

In other words, there is no military component to the Iraqi solution. If the terrorists and the various Iraqi factions just sat down and talked, all would be resolved.

Our troops and the American people have already sacrificed a great deal for the future of Iraq. After nearly four years of combat, tens of thousands of U.S. casualties, and over $300 billion dollars, it is time to bring the war to a close.

See above, where we discussed how we have let you play at your little game long enough. Time to put away your toys and go home. Or to put it another way, it's not about the final result; it's about not feeling the pain of war anymore. It doesn't matter how close to "success" we are in light of the investment of lives and money that has come before.

We, therefore, strongly encourage you to reject any plans that call for our getting our troops any deeper into Iraq.

Once again, we don't believe the U.S. military can accomplish anything, which we've assured with our various political games and propaganda activities.

We want to do everything we can to help Iraq succeed in the future but, like many of our senior military leaders, we do not believe that adding more U.S. combat troops contributes to success.

The most important word in that sentence is "but."

We appreciate you taking these views into consideration.

Do what we want, or else. Capisce?


Harry and Nancy

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03 January, 2007


[Boring personal stuff here. Just skip on down if you're looking for mil-related stuff]

At this rate, I'm not even counting eggs, much less chickens. But...

I soon may have as many as two jobs. About two months ago I interviewed for a decent-paying position in a daycare/after-school program at a local military base. But it initially has extremely variable hours and those kinds of jobs are often reserved for military spouses, so I didn't put out much hope. Thus I wasn't surprised I didn't hear from them.

But late yesterday, the man who interviewed me called and was surprised to hear I hadn't heard from Human Resources. He stuttered and stammered because he couldn't acknowledge I was to be offered a job (HR should've done that), but he was obviously operating under the assumption I had been contacted.

Time was spent with HR today untangling it all. Short version: I'm hired, pending the outcome of a thorough two-stage Navy physical. Fortunately, I'm a female, so I won't be experiencing the travails Lex so freuently describes...

On another front, someone I know is starting up a business that will involve being a kind of "guide" to organizations wanting to reach out to military personnel or families (for example: establish a charity, market educational programs, etc). There will be a need for some assistance and I've been asked to supply it, pending start up.

And... a friend of a friend is also trying to start a company (not as far along as the one mentioned above). But I've been told if he manages to land the contracts (security consulting), I'm the office manager--guaranteed.

Hopefully, between the two more definite positions, I will soon be able to pay my bills without being a burden to others.

Unfortunately, the after-school program position will probably not start for two weeks and will involve a very low number of hours at first. So, I'm going to be hanging by a financial thread for quite a bit still, I imagine. Frankly, I doubt January's bills are going to be paid. We'll see how long they let me get away with it...

But there's reason to hope. I think I may be seeing that pinprick of light way down at the end of the tunnel. Let's hope it's not an oncoming train...

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Sitemeter Weirdness

Here is the Referring URL for a visitor I had this morning. Huh? Sports Illustrated is linking me?

The ISP was "Arcor AG & Co. KG" out of Baden-Wurttemburg, Germany.

Just weird.

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02 January, 2007

Vile Ignorance

Cassandra calls it The War Against Ignorance. Here's the experience of a mother on the frontlines:

As I waited to pay for my soda, I heard the clerk say something about Iraq. Being the mother of two Marines who served in Iraq, my ears immediately tuned in just in time to hear the customer say "Marines!" He made a disgusted noise and continued, "Of course they're guilty! Why should we bother wasting our tax money on a trial for any of those murderers? They've been killing babies since Vietnam. They need to fry them right now and just disband the Marines! They're violent - Neanderthals dressed up in uniforms. If they were intelligent, they'd be in college, or have real jobs - not out slaughtering innocent people for fun. The whole military is full of nothing but animals. They're occupiers, fighting an illegal war, anyway."

...I'm sorry, frankly, that I didn't punch the son of a bitch. That would have been more natural. After all, my sons are "Neanderthals in uniform". They must get it from me.

Instead, here's how she responded. I have to say that I probably would've said much the same, though I wouldn't have felt sorry for him a bit at that moment. And I probably would've clawed his eyes out or slapped him--not because I would enjoy it or out of a sense of honor, but because I would've been so upset I'd soon have run out of words to express the intensity of my fury and disgust.

And Lori, I wish you were here. I would give you a huge hug and take you out for chocolate ice cream for being so brave and articulate in the middle of such anger and pain. You were awesome!

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01 January, 2007


I played some card games over at Yahoo! Games yesterday. I don't do it very often anymore--it seems the number of crazies and people with anger management issues is increasing over there. But the one I met yesterday takes the cake...

I encountered her (we'll call her A1) in a round of Hearts in which she spent a lot of time insulting me and responding to me as if she wasn't completely integrated into the same plane of reality as the rest of us. Nor insane, but very odd--lots of jumping to conclusions that I didn't to try to argue her out of. Mostly I just laughed because it was so "out in left field."

After it was over, I went to the public chat section to pick up another game. I know I shouldn't have responded, but her calling me crazy in the forum was amusing and I wanted to see what she'd say next. Then it just got a bit creepy [I don't use "FbL" as my game handle]:

A1: FbL=crazy person...beware
FbL: [wondering where in the world that came from] LMAO
Random Person: how is that funny?
A1: Must be off the meds... she can't do anything but laugh, apparently.
FbL: I've been laughing at A1.
A1: Certainly doesn't know how to play cards... just look at the sad rating [ranking].
FbL: I mistakenly thought a different card had been led and asked why A1 played certain card. It ended up with a lecture from A1 about thinking first. *rolling eyes* So that's why I'm laughing, Random Person.
A1: Delusional, too. They make meds for that... would you like me to get you some? Or suicide works. I can supply you a knife, too. Or a rope.
FbL: Sounds like a good idea, A1. I mean, if I can't have a high rating on cards, what's my life worth? That's how I define my value. *rolling eyes*
A1: I can tell.
FbL: You're hilarious, A1.
A1: So next time you should think before you try to give bad advice twice in one game. With maturity the think first speak later will come.
FbL: Advice? [beginning to have trouble following her]
vA1: Bad memory and delusions? Wow big problems
FbL: [beginning to be creeped out] Okay, I'm done talking to Loony Tunes. You're welcome to stay here and badmouth me. I mean, I care SO MUCH about what a perfect stranger thinks of me. Though you ARE amusing. Ta-ta.

At that point, I found a game to join. When I went back for another new game, I saw she'd continued posting in the main forum:

A1: early onsent alzheimers?
A1: apparently you do [care what strangers think] or you wouldn't respond
A1: feeling guilty? [I have not a clue what she thought I should feel guilty for]
A1: Learn to argue with someone down at your level next time... you will lose every time you try to speak with someone smarter than you...this is the case in point...run away and cry now.

*cue Twilight Zone music*


Ya know, there are some weird people out there in Internet Land. I mean, besides me... ;)

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