June 25, 2004

HELL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


MORE TO GROK:

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

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June 24, 2004

ANGUISH

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

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NATURE OR NURTURE?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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KAL!

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

I missed you, Kal. Welcome back.

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GAMES?

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

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


MORE TO GROK:

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

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June 23, 2004

NOTES

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

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BADGE

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

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

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

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

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

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VICTORY

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

Army unit claims victory over sheik (via Andrew Sullivan)

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

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

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CONVICTION

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

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FUMING

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

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

MORE TO GROK:

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

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


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June 22, 2004

OURS

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

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

In my loudest roar: BRING IT ON!

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WATER

Wow.

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CREED

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

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

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

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June 21, 2004

OBVIOUS

(via Tim) Iraq's deputy prime minister implored the American press to provide more balanced coverage of operations in Iraq.

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PURPOSE

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

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

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

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

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

I want to warrant more as an individual.

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POLLS

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

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

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WORRY

Lileks echoed my current worry!

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

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

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June 20, 2004

PREJUDICE

I am prejudiced.

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

So we're gonna go with prejudiced.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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June 19, 2004

LOVE

10 Things I Love About Others' Weblogs

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

2. The Dissident Frogman's movies

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

4. Kim du Toit's skin pics

5. Allah's t-shirt

6. the picture of the ever-cheerful CPT Patti

7. The Gobbler Motel

8. South Park Pixy

9. Amritas' blogroll

10. The propaganda posters on The Mudville Gazette

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GOTCHA

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

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