May 31, 2004
Time for a round-up of good stories to read today:
Veteran recalls horrors of Bataan Death March
World War II memorial prompts veterans to recall days of fear, heroism
'Greatest Generation' gets its due as World War II Memorial is dedicated
Dedication a reunion for veterans
Teen's efforts ID vets' graves
Please remember that today isn't just about picnics. We do need to rejoice and be thankful for the freedom and life that we have, but we should always remember the price that was paid.
James Hudnall has posted photos of his grandfather and uncles, who were veterans. I have a similar photo that I would like to post. I have relatives who were veterans -- my great uncle, and two of my great-great uncles -- but they passed away long before I knew of them. I'm very grateful that I don't actually know any veterans who have passed away, but I do know one very special vet whom I'm fortunate enough to still have in my life. The more I educated I become about the military and history, the more pride I feel for my grandfather's service. In fact, I was in his home last spring when Operation Iraqi Freedom began, and I felt the amazing juxtaposition between the war being fought on the TV and the war that he had fought so long ago. I'm so proud to call him grandfather, and I hope my grandchildren are half as proud of my husband someday.
I hope my grandfather knows how important he is to me, today and every day.
Meet my grandfather, the most handsome airman in WWII.
MORE TO GROK:
If you have the time, peruse all of the Milblogs links today. They're all unique, but they all share the common thread of Memorials.
May 30, 2004
To quote a commenter on LGF:
Overkill was passed one month ago, we are now in absolute terminal freefall.
We citizens have to start thinking of news reporting as being about as reliable as advertising.
Thus ends Den Beste's new post on the media. The other day a new student came into my office to ask about our degree programs. When she said that she was majoring in journalism, I felt myself balk. I actually stuttered as I was handing her information. The old joke is that lawyers are the root of all evil, but these days I extend the prize to journalists. This girl's simple mention of wanting to become one of those loathesome creatures was a shock to my system.
I have said here before how I think that movies are a reflection of our values. What we believe about the world is echoed in our popular entertainment (in fact, this is one of my teaching units in my writing class). In the absolutely fascinating article Den Beste links to, called "Why We Hate the Media", James Fallows makes the same point. Way down at the bottom he talks about the Hollywood portrayal of journalists:
Since the early 1980s, the journalists who have shown up in movies have been portrayed, on average, as more loathsome than the lawyers, politicians, or business moguls who are the traditional bad guys in films about the white-collar world.
He gives many examples from specific movies and then goes on to say
Movies do not necessarily capture reality but they suggest a public mood--in this case, a contrast between the media celebrities' apparent self-satisfaction and the contempt in which its best-known representatives are held by the public. "The news media has a generally positive view of itself in the watchdog role," said the authors of an exhaustive survey of public attitudes toward the press, released in May 1995. But "the outside world strongly faults the news media for its negativism.... The public goes so far as to say that the press gets in the way of society solving its problems, an opinion that is even shared by many leaders." According to the survey, "two out of three members of the public had nothing or nothing good to say about the media." As American institutions in general have lost credibility, few have lost it as fully as the press.
Movies do not propose new values; they simply reflect existing ones. We in the blogosphere have long since lost any respect for journalists. Those like my mom's friend aren't there yet, but hopefully it's a matter of time. If we all reject the way journalism is handled, then perhaps we can see some changes.
In my class this term we spent a full two hours speaking about media bias and statistical manipulation. We used the LT's Story as a starting point, but my soldier students knew firsthand the danger of trusting the media: they have all recently returned from Iraq and have seen how the situation has been misrepresented here at home. I'd be ashamed to point them in the direction of the beginning part of the "Why We Hate the Media" article though.
You have to read the first section, Washing Their Hands of Responsibility: "North Kosan". That is how dangerous I consider the media for my personal life. That hypothetical situation, that could be my husband and his soldiers. And were I ever to find out that a journalist had chosen not to interfere, I would "remain detached" myself as I killed him with my bare hands.
May 29, 2004
A president shouldn't worry about how history will judge him. I'll never know. I'll know how short term history will judge me, if I'd ever read the editorial pages I'd figure it out, because they're the ones writing the history. But when we try to do big thingsaccomplish big objectiveswhether it be cultural change, or the struggle we're init's going to take a while for history to really judge the accomplishments of a president and the true impact of a presidency. If you're doing little things, then maybe 20 years from now we'll be able to figure it out But with big things it's going to take awhile. And so when you hear this thing about, "Well he's worried about his standing in history." I'm not. And most short-term history will be written by people who didn't particularly want me to be President to begin with.
I also very much enjoyed the end of the interview when he talks about how the war is affecting him personally. Read it if you have time; it's a window into the personal life of the President.
I just booked a cruise for when my husband gets back. (I know, it's risky guessing when he'll get home, but I had no choice: we had a voucher for a free cruise, and it had to be booked by the end of this month. We're taking a gamble here, but what can you do?) When I called the booking lady and explained the situation to her, she kindly said that she thanks my husband for everything he is doing and appreciates his service.
That's the first time that's happened to me. Of course blog readers have written and said the same thing -- and I certainly appreciate everyone who has expressed their support -- but it was the first time I had heard a stranger say those words to me.
Tim and I were recently talking about the unique situation we find ourselves in on the overseas posts. The only human contact we have is with other military families, who are in the same boat, and German citizens, who don't thank us for much of anything. The only people I talk to on the phone are family members and close friends. I hadn't yet had to go through the "my husband is deployed" explanation with anyone, and it felt kinda weird.
We here are lucky that we don't have much contact with anyone else, because that means there are no pity parties. I can't boo-hoo that my husband is gone because everyone else around me deserves the same sympathy. And the ones whose husbands are not gone know better than to say anything (well, excluding the girl I recently met who complained that her husband is leaving next month, which makes his deployment a good four and a half months shorter than everyone else's.) I'm glad that we don't get to play the victim card here in Germany; it makes it easier for us to focus on the mission at hand.
Deployment in general is a humbling experience. No matter how hot, hungry, tired, or grumpy I feel, I know that my husband and his soldiers have ten times more right to complain. It really puts things in perspective when I'd like to complain that I had to stay up until 2300 booking our cruise and then I think of my husband, who stays up until 2300 working every night (if he's lucky). At the end of the week when I'm beat from working two jobs and going to German class, I remember that my husband has been working for over 100 days straight without one single day off. When I'm sitting here right now thinking of how hot it is in this room, I remember that the highs in Iraq next week hover around 103 degrees. And no matter how much Ben Gay I think I need for my back, my husband wears an extra 65 lbs. of armor every single day. I'm humbled every time I think of how much trivial complaining I do in an average week, and I thank heavens that there are men and women who are enduring a whole lot more and complaining a whole lot less than I.
When the nice lady finished up our cruise booking, she asked if we had any particular food preferences. "Anything that's not an MRE and anything alcoholic," I replied. I'm really looking forward to seeing my husband be able to relax.
As someone who is fascinated by language, particularly the origin of slang and colloquial expressions, my love for rap is based on the amazing use of the English language. Though most consider the men (and women) who rap to be undereducated, the things they do with rhyme and wordplay blow my college degrees away. This is creation of something new with our language, a talent I intensely admire and wish I could do myself. All the school in the world can't help you freestyle. Take some of my favorite rhymes:
So where's all the mad rappers at?
It's like a jungle in this habitat
But all you savage cats know that I was strapped wit gats
when you were cuddlin a Cabbage Patch
--from Dr. Dre "Forgot About Dre" off 2001
No I'm not the first king of controversy
I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley
to do black music so selfishly
and used it to get myself wealthy
--from Eminem "Without Me" off The Eminem Show
Do not step to me - I'm awkward
I box leftier often
My pops left me an orphan
my momma wasn't home
--from Jay-Z "Renegade" off The Blueprint
And there were a dozen more I could have chosen. The rhyme is incredible, not to mention that many of these rappers do this off the top of their heads. Have you ever seen someone freestyle? The dexterity these rappers have with language, the way they can weave and mold it, completely thrills me. It's not really something that you can learn to do, you just have to have it. You have to feel it in your bones and be completely in-tune with your language.
I just can't explain how brilliant I think that is.
Many people say they just don't get rap music. Many say the lyrics are too fast, the beat is a distraction, or the offensive language turns them off. I guess it's not for everyone, though I say that anyone who can do this
So what do you say to somebody you hate
Or anybody tryna bring trouble your way
Wanna resolve things in a bloodier way
Just study your tape of NWA
is worth at least a nod of respect for his abilities.
May 28, 2004
for each letter of the alphabet, list a band you truly like.
Better than Ezra
Guns and Roses
Yep, weird taste. I'll listen to just about anything.
And as for Tarantino's question, I'm definitely an Elvis person.
The husband's a Beatles person; it's our only argument.
I guess they threw it down the Memory Hole. Scary.
(Thanks, Merde in France.)
Seb says it's not true.
Ibrahim Idrissi has mixed feelings about the recent uproar caused by the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib under the US occupation. "As a humanitarian organization, we oppose this," he says. "But these are soldiers who have come to Iraq to fight, not to be prison guards. It was to be expected. Of course, if there are innocent people in there ... it is possible, I guess, that some of them are innocent."
If Idrissi seems a bit callous about the fate of the Iraqis in US-run jails, he has probably earned the right to differ. He recalls a day in 1982, at the General Security prison in Baghdad:
"They called all the prisoners out to the courtyard for what they called a 'celebration.' We all knew what they meant by 'celebration.' All the prisoners were chained to a pipe that ran the length of the courtyard wall. One prisoner, Amer al-Tikriti, was called out. They said if he didn't tell them everything they wanted to know, they would show him torture like he had never seen. He merely told them he would show them patience like they had never seen."
"This is when they brought out his wife, who was five months pregnant. One of the guards said that if he refused to talk he would get 12 guards to rape his wife until she lost the baby. Amer said nothing. So they did. We were forced to watch. Whenever one of us cast down his eyes, they would beat us."
"Amer's wife didn't lose the baby. So the guard took a knife, cut her belly open and took the baby out with his hands. The woman and child died minutes later. Then the guard used the same knife to cut Amer's throat." There is a moment of silence. Then Idrissi says: "What we have seen about the recent abuse at Abu Ghraib is a joke to us."
However, I do find one line to be worth comment:
I would like to honor all the women and men who refuse to fight any battle that is not their own, whether it's for oil, power, money, government or greed.
We should never fight battles that are not our own. White men should not have fought to abolish slavery. Men should not have sided with women to get the vote. Americans should not have stopped the Nazis from taking all of Europe. If we all mind our own business and leave people alone, then peace will reign over our planet.
Maybe it looks that way in Eugene. I doubt the Kurdish parents who named their sons Dick Cheney and George Bush agree.
First from Carla:
The U.S. government, by the people, for the people, is authorized only to act on behalf of U.S. citizens--not on behalf of any other. As a servant of the people--not a *ruler*--the federal government should only act in Americans' interests. No matter what, even if florian (or anyone else) thinks that an American human life is equivalent to any other, the U.S. government *must* not--is not permitted to--and therefore must always value the lives of Americans more than the lives of any others.
That reminds me of the inane comment from the Beastie Boy who was mad that President Bush puts Americans ahead of people in other countries. That's his job as the American President! What would you rather he did, MCA?
And from Bunker:
People in this country share something with me that those in other countries don't. People who want to denigrate that opinion need only ask themselves (honestly) whom do they cheer for in Olympic events.
Shared values. Common ground. As I read this I was thinking about the love-it-or-leave-it idea. I guess I just can't understand Americans who value other countries over their own. If citizens of other countries are more valuable to you, and if you feel you have more common ground with them, then go live with them. For all the moaning about the "rich cultural heritage" and the lack of hegemony in other places, I don't see the mass emigration. (I imagine this is a matter of the ideal vs. the real: it's one thing to ideally value the 35-hour work week and six weeks of paid vacation that France has, but it's a whole different story to really move there, find a job, and pay their taxes.) I think it's perfectly natural to value your own compatriots more than anyone else in the world, and I find it puzzling when someone else doesn't.
If you don't prefer your compatriots, get new ones.
Are conservatives so inarticulate and bereft of argument that we must resort to these ancient charges of press bias instead of telling our message? If the press reports bad news, is it because they are biased or because the news is bad? If there is good news that goes unreported, well shouldn't we report it? Istead of wasting bandwidth flailing at the NYT? Good grief!
First of all, I would like to point out that part of the reason bloggers "waste bandwith" pointing out inaccuracies and bias in the mainstream media is because many Americans just don't believe it exists. I wasn't joking when I said that many people I know think that Fox News is the only biased news source. In fact, my mom just had a conversation with one of her friends, and her friend was shocked to hear that my mom thought the news channels were biased. The more we dig up on the lies in the mainstream media, the better able my mom is to provide accurate examples to her friend and inform her that the media is in fact biased.
And we bloggers are trying to report on the good things that are happening. That's Tim's raison d'etre. But the majority of people do not sit at the computer for 2-3 hours in the morning before work like I do. The majority don't read news or blogs online. We who blowdry our hair in front of the monitor are misled into thinking that others do the same.
The truth is out there. Spectra just linked to a great round-up of positive news out of Iraq, but bliffle is kidding himself if he thinks that my mom's friend is going to stumble across it. We're trying to make the truth heard, but the mainstream media is not interested in our message.
MORE TO GROK:
Beth is trying to get the word out too.
May 27, 2004
MORE TO GROK:
By the way, I'm not even really nutso about dogs. Sure, I like animals, but I've never been the type of person to fall in love with any old dog. The only other dog I've ever reacted to this strongly was poor little Bullet in Illinois.
I'd like to respond to a few things he said, and then be done with it. He's free to come and watch this "cheerleader" if he wants, but I won't continue to waste my time trying to grasp his point of view.
You say you care about the US military, but I dont think so.
Are we talking about the same Sarah here? Anyone who reads this blog knows that I care more for soldiers -- both the individuals themselves and the higher idea of "the soldier" -- than anyone else I know. I love them all, unconditionally. Florian lost me here, but I kept reading anyway.
You think you do, but there is something else underneath it. If you did, you wouldnt trash our soldiers by calling them turncoats when they decide it is their duty to tell the truth about the war. You would listen to them, the Zinnis, the Ritters, the Tagubas, the Masseys. Instead you disgrace the service of generals, of men and women who put their safety and security at risk by listening to their conscience.
Florian lists four soldiers I should listen to who are doing their "duty to tell the truth about the war". Maybe Florian would do well to listen to some other soldiers doing their duty: Bowser, Miller, Walsh, and others. Or soldiers who are also trying to tell the truth, like Connable, Wiggles, or Sutton and Darby? Or the Iraqis who are trying to make their voices heard: Alaa, Ali, or Sam. Why do you not consider anything that these writers say as "truth", Florian?
You say you dont remember the Cold War, but I do, and there is a kind of a Stalinism in your ability to immediately cut down fellow soldiers and colleagues who stray from the party line.
Soldiers have a right to disagree with the politics of a war. There were a handful of soldiers in my class who disagreed with our presence in Iraq, and there are some in my husband's battalion who disagree as well. No one is going "Stalin" on them. However, they have agreed to abide by certain Army Values, and although the Loyalty Value does call for a soldier to reject an illegal order, it does not allow them to openly criticize their superiors and make their own decisions about how American foreign policy should be enacted. Whether or not you agree with the hierarchy system, Florian, those in charge pass the orders down for things to happen. The military would be useless if anyone at any level were allowed to let personal decisions and emotional responses dictate behavior. That's just the way it is. If you want to call me Stalin for thinking that the military as an organization is more important than your four individuals' opinions, then go ahead and call me Stalin.
You say you care about Israel, but I dont think so. If you did, you would honor the never again spirit in the actions of these soldiers. They understand the lesson of the Holocaust -- that soldiers and civilians must never blindly follow immoral orders or support immoral policies. Staff Sgt. Massey told his CO he felt they were committing genocide --murdering civilians, desecrating bodies. His CO called him a wimp. You probably would too.
The lesson of the Holocaust. How about the lesson of those countries in the world who let Hitler build and build until he was powerful enough to kill all those people? How about the lesson Bill Whittle gave us this week, that 30 or 40 soldiers could have prevented WWII? If the French had stood up to Hitler's rumbling, the Holocaust could have been avoided. How's that lesson grab you? Don't boil WWII down to "soldiers and civilians must never blindly follow immoral orders or support immoral policies"; the lesson I take is that one pre-emptive effort can prevent millions of deaths.
Why do I read your site?
Partly fascination. At your site people call others conspiracy theorists and nutcases even though they themselves believed in the nutty Saddam Behind 9-11, Ready To Use WMD conspiracy theory. At your site I see the pathology of a woman who uses the word vaginitis to mean cowardice, who says the life of a child holding a US passport is worth more than one who doesnt.
No one here has said that Saddam was behind 9/11. Many of us believe that Iraq provided money and backing for terrorism, but no one has said Saddam was involved in 9/11. You made that up, and I don't appreciate it.
Since I'm a woman, would you be more comfortable if I wrote about how the female soldiers at Abu Ghraib should have been above the males? Would that fit with your worldview better than how I really write, where I'm comfortable enough with my gender to use the appropriate slurs for a wuss?
And you twisted my words around with the child v. child thing: I said that an American life is worth more than any other nationality's life, no matter if it's a woman or child. I don't see that as pathology, just honesty.
Partly to monitor the war cheerleaders websites, the collapse of the war effort in the drop off of comments, the doublethink. To read the open diary of a war cheerleader and see the effect of, for instance, the torture policy revelation -- in your case, spontaneous crying and a recourse to Ben Gay and puppies. Then after a few days the return to the denial mode -- the just a few idiots did it argument.
I don't see any "collapse of the war effort", so I don't know what you mean by that. And I did react horribly to what these errant soldiers did at Abu Ghraib; no amount of puppies or Ben Gay will make me justify their actions. (Nice dig there though. Way to mock my personal life. My grandma died last fall too; wanna make fun of that?) Nobody is in denial mode here; the morons are being court martialed and dealt with, and everyone I know wants to see that happen.
Partly info: The great links you disagree with -- the vet turning old war posters into antiwar posters, the thoughtful antiwar writers. Strangely, you dont target extremists -- maybe because you dont see yourself as one -- but reasonable dissidence, and then I learn about them too. Thanks.
Um, see the problem is that there never was any vet making anti-war posters; there was a man pretending to be a vet to get attention. Micah Wright was never in the military, so for you to say that I provided you a link to a reasonable dissident is absurd.
No, I wouldnt dream of making you switch over to the other side -- as your admitted black-and-white worldview sees it. I do check if any light can crack through it. (By the way, a black-and-white worldview is something you share with radical Islam. They say we become what we hate.)
Well, if we become what we hate, then I'm either 1) a carrot 2) a dirty George Foreman grill or 3) a troll who spends his time mocking bloggers instead of creating his own blog and taking what he dishes out.
MORE TO GROK:
More above about compatriots.
May 26, 2004
I didn't think this article could get any weirder than Tim's introduction, but it sure does. Apparently there are women out there who think that a good way to get their politics across is to write it on their underpants and flash people.
The Eves are plotting a racy panty performance for Sept. 1 featuring 100 women dressed in white trench coats and their signature matching panties. "At 3 p.m.," the Axis Web site advertises, "Eves will perform a group flashing in order to create a media spectacle and send a political postcard: We will not tolerate lies and cover-ups!"
This cannot be for real. There cannot be people in this world who honestly think that political discourse written on your underwear is a form of activism. Surely they can't take themselves seriously. Right?
Tasha, who is 33, was presiding over a late-night panty powwow with Zazel and Elizabeth. As Elizabeth perched on Tasha's couch, Zazel sprawled on the floor in a cream-colored body suit and lavender "Lick Bush" thong. "I think sometimes verbal discourse is insufficient as a mode of expression," Tasha said, as if she were delivering a lecture for her fellowship at a prominent New York university. "There's something raw and wonderful and gratifying about the more gestural expression of the flash. By putting on these bold, outrageous displays, we want to inspire others to also be bold."
You are doing absolutely nothing for the state of world affairs by exposing anti-Bush underpants. Grow up, you weirdos.
I believe that the insurgents are a small percentage of the population and that the average Iraqi just stays inside with the door locked and avoids getting killed. One of the things I keep expecting to see is an uprising of regular fed-up Iraqis. À la Superman II, when the Krypton criminals pin Superman behind the bus and the people of Metropolis, thinking he's dead, grab whatever they can find and say, "Let's get 'em." Or like in The Three Amigos, where the regular townsfolk defend their city against the bullies. I don't think I should hold my breath.
We have a history of rising up; it's the foundation of our country. From the days of Don't Tread On Me to the modern-day anthem "We're Not Gonna Take It", we Americans don't sit by and let things happen to us. I keep projecting that value onto Iraqis. It's easy to forget that they've spent decades living in fear and that they may not be rising up any time soon.
I know there are plenty of Iraqis who are joining the coalition military and police force. I applaud them and know they're doing the right thing. But I still keep waiting in the back of my mind to see a group of average Iraqis take to the streets and say "Let's get 'em."
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