August 25, 2004
What's that you say? It's real? It's a real article?
Oh. I coulda sworn...
August 24, 2004
I was practically bouncing out of my seat, I was so excited.
A lot of this is news to me.
It's a shame that party stereotypes continue to trump reality.
I think the purple heart issue as it relates to Sen Kerrey [sic] speaks volumns about him as a leader. He was not a private, but a Lieutenant, a small unit leader. He was taught that as a leader his two critical tasks were; accomplish the mission, and welfare of his soldiers. No leader I know would ever dream of leaving their troops behind especially not on a technicality. 3 medals equals ticket home. A leader should represent Army values of duty, honor, and most importantly selfless service. His actions seem more selfish than selfless.
My husband won't even take R&R without the rest of his soldiers getting it; I can't help but feel contempt for someone who would go home and leave his brothers to fend for themselves.
MORE TO GROK:
More two cents on Kerry's leadership.
Now we are on the verge of victory or defeat in Iraq. Success depends not only on battlefield superiority, but also on the trust and confidence of the American people. I've read some articles recently that call for cutting back our military presence in Iraq and moving our troops to the peripheries of most cities. Such advice is well-intentioned but wrong - it would soon lead to a total withdrawal. Our goal needs to be a safe Iraq, free of militias and terrorists; if we simply pull back and run, then the region will pose an even greater threat than it did before the invasion. I also fear if we do not win this battle here and now, my 7-year-old son might find himself here in 10 or 11 years, fighting the same enemies and their sons.
When critics of the war say their advocacy is on behalf of those of us risking our lives here, it's a type of false patriotism. I believe that when Americans say they "support our troops," it should include supporting our mission, not just sending us care packages. They don't have to believe in the cause as I do; but they should not denigrate it. That only aids the enemy in defeating us strategically.
August 23, 2004
Now I would like you to ask you to take another look at the photo of the father bestowing a final kiss on the dried skull of his son. (It should not escape notice that the place this skeleton was dug up at was the burial grounds of Abu Ghraib.)
Which pictures do you think Ghirayer Ali would deem "the most important photos of the year", Monsieur Leroy? Those showing some of hundreds of thousands of murdered Iraqi civilians dug up from the Iraqi sands, including his son at Abu Ghraib, or the snapshots documenting US troops humiliating prisoners (a good portion of which were those who murdered their countrymen in the first place)?
Before I'm accused of catering to base emotionalism, I will take back the question, and ask a more general one: which of the two groups of pictures do you think your average Iraqi would deem "the most important photos of the year", Monsieur Leroy?
I have a lump in my throat from looking at that photo...
It's today and tomorrow, so there won't be much blogging.
August 22, 2004
I'd write about it if I hadn't just spent most of the day writing a final exam for the grammar class I'm teaching next weekend. I'm worn out. Just read the article and imagine what I'd say.
However, the Iraqi Olympic delegation accused journalists of deliberately provoking an angry response from their players.
Our purpose is not to politicize the football team in any way, Mark Clark, a consultant for the Iraqi Olympic Committee, said. It seems the story was engineered.
But Clark insisted journalists were wrong to take advantage of the athletes.
It is a little naughty, he said. The players are not very sophisticated politically; they are a little naive. Whoever posed these questions knew that the reaction would be negative.
It is possible something was lost in translation. Its a free, new Iraq, and the players are entitled to their opinions but we are disappointed.
Iraqs soccer players once lived in fear of Uday Hussein, son of toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, who used to beat the soles of their feet or throw them in prison for slip-ups on the pitch.
Under current coach Adnan Hamd, they have defied the odds to reach the quarterfinals at the Athens Olympics, where they will play Australia on Saturday.
I've read a couple of places today about how John Kerry is trying to get the FEC to shut down the SwiftVets ad. In my book, that makes Kerry about as spineless and weak-hearted as I am. I'm not a politician, so I'm allowed the luxury of feeling hurt when someone speaks bad of me; Kerry better get used to it if he plans on running the most hated country in the world.
While this is amusing and pathetic on the surface, what started as questions about Kerry's Vietnam era activity, Kerry has now turned into nothing less than a battle for free speech.
After Michael Moore's propaganda film, Bush never suggested it should be silenced.
After the moveon.org attack ads, Bush never suggested they should be silenced.
It's called freedom of speech (though Moore has moved perilously close to treason with his film while our troops are engaged in countries abroad).
Now Kerry seeks to silence free speech, because it's critical of his past.
For the blogosphere community, this has now moved past mocking the media for their absurdly obvious bias, and has become serious.
Kerry has changed the game with this move to shut down free speech.
If the media remain complicit now, they're not being complicit in smearing the SwiftVets, they're complicit in shutting down free speech -- the foundation of our society.
The "progressives" throw around labels of "fascism" and demonize John Ashcroft and Bush, but this has now become a battle for the country.
I don't think I'm exaggerating here. This has now become quite serious.
It is indeed serious. I grappled with this issue on my janky little blog -- whether to block certain commenters or close the comments section -- because I believe that people have the right to say what they think, even if it hurts my feelings. Shouldn't a presidential candidate in the United States of America believe in that as well?
MORE TO GROK:
That Hitler mini-series took 60 years. Maybe in 2060, when it's history, they can make a mini-series about that garbage, but it's not history when some of the collaborators are still alive and kickin' and being released by Germans.
This sure isn't the 9/11 movie Lileks envisioned.
August 21, 2004
Beth recommended this book. Since I read The Power of One last year and went from zero knowledge of South African society to at least a passing level, I thought I'd give Dark Star Safari a try. I know that there's always a lot more to learn about foreign continents.
Beth's review of the book leaned towards the parallels with Iraq:
Reading the book has led me to ponder to comparisons, America and Africa, and Iraq and Africa. Theroux's book could/should serve as a stark warning of some major mistakes that could be made in trying to promote a democracy in Iraq. What it comes down to more than anything else is do the Iraqi's want a true democracy? And if they do, are they willing to go thru the struggle, take the responsibility, and resist those who would hinder the outcome?
That's an interesting parallel to make, one that I had forgotten Beth had made until I looked it up again now. Setting up the conditions for people to be free won't work if the people don't yearn for freedom. Similarly, setting up the conditions for progress won't work if people can't see the big picture.
When I was a French tutor at my college, I noticed an interesting phenomenon: students memorized formulas for putting together hypotheticals. I tried hard to teach them to think of the meaning attached to the hypothetical sentences. I encouraged them to think of what they wanted to say and then use the fitting tenses. They ignored me; the formulas were easier. My students invented intricate mnemonic devices to remember which tenses went together, completely abandoning meaning as a criterion. No matter how many times I tried to explain to them that they should view French as a language and not a math problem, they didn't want to listen. I always saw that chart in our book as the give-a-man-a-fish method: the students couldn't extrapolate from it or do anything that didn't plug neatly into the formula. But the students didn't want the teach-a-man-to-fish method because it was harder than mimicry.
I thought a lot about the giving vs teaching fish proverb while reading Dark Star Safari. Theroux is certainly an Afrophile, but all of his observations, no matter how much he tried to provide context, presented Africa in a horrifying light. Theroux does not sugarcoat the situation; he presents the good with the bad, which is admirable since I'm wont to smell agenda in everything I read. What he taught me is that Africa is a beautiful and mysterious continent that is completely screwed.
The problem Theroux lays out is that the Africans have been given so many fish that they'll never bother to learn to fish: they always know another handout is around the corner. All of the relief workers and foreign aid are killing the African initiative; Theroux relates countless stories of Africans who shrug off problems and say that aid workers will fix it. Foreigners move to Africa, start programs, get run out of town or move on when they get frustrated, and the whole program crumbles and dies. Theroux painted a dismal portrait of the endless cycle of foreign aid and dwindling African spirit. The Africans don't see the big picture of helping themselves, because in the short-run another aid worker will come and do it for them.
Kim du Toit has advocated letting Africa sink. The first time I read his essay, I thought it was too extreme. Now I'm not so sure. I'm not saying I advocate "a high wall around the whole continent, all the guns and bombs in the world for everyone inside" as Kim does, in typical Kim fashion. But I don't see a solution to Africa's deep-rooted problems anywhere on the horizon.
I thought Bill Gates was the height of magnanimity when he gave millions to AIDS in Africa; now it seems like fish-giving at its worst. Throwing money at the problem will not do anything to solve Africa's suffering. I sure can't offer a solution, but I know it ain't money.
Good book. Check it out if you're looking for a depressingly realistic read.
MORE TO GROK:
I forgot that Bunker wrote a similar post (complete with giving/teaching fish idea) back in July. I must've subconsciously plagiarized him...
August 20, 2004
August 19, 2004
Thus, I expect to see Germans, the French, Spaniards, the Dems and others dancing on the streets and boulevards as soon Europe is liberated from those unwelcome foreigners.
Keep dreaming, Nelson. I have heard so much whining lately about the poor German economy that it's not even funny. They hate us to death, but they sure don't want us to leave. Oh, poor Kitzingen, where one in three inhabitants is American. Their poor gasthauses will have to close. Cry me a river.
I saw a military commercial tonight that basically said "don't start packing just yet", but I'm ready.
Send me to Texas.
2. the first time you see a full bird on a lapel
3. the first time you see an Airman and have no idea how to address him
4. the first time you see a Marine and wonder what in the heck is wrong with his blurry camoflauge
5. the first time you correctly call it a weapon instead of a gun
6. the first time you correctly call it a post instead of a base
7. the first time you use military terminology that makes your husband say, "Where did you learn that?"
8. the first time you realize that your friends from back home have no idea what you're talking about
9. the first time you get a hooah when you're teaching grammar
10. and the pinnacle: the first time you explain to a soldier the difference between his AARTS and his ATAARS
Anyone got any other good firsts?
Carla reminded me of one. How about
11. the first time you spell something out in the military alphabet without stumbling
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