December 31, 2005
2005 also brought Charlie into our life. We have good days and bad, but every day he gets a little better, and there's nothing like realizing the dog just stole an Italian sausage link out of the fridge to make you laugh.
2005 brought the hope that I might be published. I'm not holding my breath just yet, but it's exciting just to be asked to join in Blackfive's Milblogs book.
But 2005 also took something from me, something I miss every day. It's been six months since Bunker's passing, and I still think about him all the time. His absence is a big void in my blogosphere.
2006 will bring two PCS moves and a return to the US for our family. I'm anxious to get the adventures of this coming year started.
So long, 2005...
(We were reminded of this comment when we pulled up the Instapundit today.)
My husband has always been curious about how knitting works, but he's never had any interest in learning. But once I read At Knit's End and laughed that her husband had been knitting the same sock for years, I wanted my husband to try his hand at my favorite hobby.
Since he has no interest in making knitting his own hobby, I cast on for him and showed him a row of garter. He knit three rows on his own and then handed me the needles and said, "Yep, that's enough."
He was a really good knitter, one of my best students so far. He chugged along at a good pace, despite his surprising innate desire to purl (I've never seen anyone's hands instinctually prefer purl over knit). And I'm sure he'll never pick up another ball of yarn, but I appreciated his effort to learn my hobby.
And doesn't he look cute the way he's concentrating so hard?
Despite the stentorian intonation, KerryÂ’s new suggestions for what to do in Iraq simply outlined what the United States is in fact already doing: training Iraqis, providing protection for the ongoing constitutional process, talking to regional neighbors, trying to get the Europeans involved in the Middle East, and hunting down terrorists on the Afghan borders.
My husband always blows up at the TV when some naysayer pundit says that what we really need to be doing in Iraq is training Iraqis to take over the job themselves so we can go home. My husband arrived in Iraq in March 2004, and this policy was already in effect. Iraqi solders went everywhere with American soldiers, and after the Transfer of Authority that summer, the official policy was to let Iraqi soldiers do as much of the work as possible. My husband says that American soldiers often grumbled that taking the Iraqis along was too much work, that it was easier for them to just go on a raid alone than to drag the Iraqis with and help them learn how to do it. But the constant refrain in my husband's battalion was "Unless you want to come back for OIF 10, you'd better teach these Iraqis how to do your job."
The policy since Day 1 was to train Iraqis to protect their own country. My husband was already doing it nearly two years ago; why do all these pundits think they're offering a solution the military has never thought of?
(Also read VDH's The Plague of Success: "It is chic now to deprecate the Iraqi security forces, but they are doing a lot more to kill jihadists than the French or Germans who often either wire terrorists money, sell them weapons, or let them go." Heh.)
December 29, 2005
On Nov. 20, the Tribune began an inquest: We set out to assess the Bush administration's arguments for war in Iraq. We have weighed each of those nine arguments against the findings of subsequent official investigations by the 9/11 Commission, the Senate Intelligence Committee and others. We predicted that this exercise would distress the smug and self-assured--those who have unquestioningly supported, or opposed, this war.
The matrix below summarizes findings from the resulting nine editorials. We have tried to bring order to a national debate that has flared for almost three years. Our intent was to help Tribune readers judge the case for war--based not on who shouts loudest, but on what actually was said and what happened.
December 28, 2005
For many of this countryÂ’s citizens, the mantra has been, as we were taught in social studies it should always be, whether or not I voted for this President, he is still my President. I suspect anybody who had to give him that benefit of the doubt stopped doing so last week. I suspect, also, a lot of his supporters, looking ahead to Â‘08, are wondering how they can distance themselves from the two words which will define his government, our government: New Orleans. For him, it is a shame, in all senses of the word. A few changes of pronouns in there and he might not have looked so much like a 21st century Marie Antoinette.
This is how it came to be that I felt a great excitement and inner peace for 24 hours. I learned of the oscillating universe theory.
I've never been a person who thinks much about the meaning of life or why we're here. I've always found more solace in thinking that I'm a small being in an ever-changing cosmos, that there's nothing more special about me than some long-extinct triceratops. I find peace and comfort knowing that the universe is far more complex and wondrous than I could ever comprehend, and that my life is inconsequential in the big scheme of billions of years. This thought that my life is but a blink in time helps me cope with seemingly monumental stressors in my life: high schoolers, deployments, the fact that the coat I wanted from Land's End is discontinued. All of this pales when I think about what has come before and will come after me.
In 1979, Carl Sagan said there was not enough evidence to rule out an oscillating universe. This would mean that the universe could continue a series of collapses and big bangs, in a neverending accordion squeeze on the cosmos. And I liked that idea. As I lay in bed, I imagined another go-round for the universe, with planets at different distances from their stars, possibly fostering new and different life forms. Or not. I imagined the cosmos as a big game of Yahtzee, then laughed that maybe God really does play dice with the universe. I felt excited and at peace, and I wanted to learn more.
So does learning that there's probably not enough matter in the universe to cause a Big Crunch make me disappointed? A little, but I'd rather know the truth. I suppose it doesn't even really bother me that the universe appears to be speeding up and eventally all stars will flicker out and cease to be. If that's what really will happen, then I can accept that.
But boy, did my mind do cartwheels at the thought of an oscillating universe. That was a great feeling, even if it was short lived.
December 27, 2005
DNC Chairman Terry McCauliffe praised Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, as this article by NRO's Byron York makes clear. And McCauliffe wasn't the only ranking Democrat to praise the movie:
In addition to McAuliffe, other Democrats at the Washington screening included Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, Montana Sen. Max Baucus, South Carolina Sen. Ernest Hollings, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, New York Rep. Charles Rangel, Washington Rep. Jim McDermott, and others. Harkin told the Associated Press that all Americans should see the film. "It's important for the American people to understand what has gone on before, what led us to this point, and to see it sort of in this unvarnished presentation by Michael Moore."
Michael Moore isn't nearly as fringe as Pericles apparently would like him to be. Pericles is right that Cindy Sheehan hasn't won the hearts and minds of big-name Democrats, but small-fry Democrats love her and say things like:
Fortunately, the grassroots of the Democratic Party do not agree with Kerry and Clinton. They want the troops out of Iraq. Many claim that this rift between the party grassroots and the D.C. Democrats is a fundamental identity crisis. They see the party as having no legitimate direction. No heart. No soul. They are right.
If Democratic politicians had a soul, they'd be standing shoulder to shoulder with Sheehan's supporters at candlelight vigils across the country. But that won't be happening anytime soon. The Democrats in D.C. aren't even sure Sheehan's actions are justified. They aren't even sure that her son died for an unjust cause.
The futility of the Democrats in Washington grows graver by the day.
They want an overthrow of their party and a major shift to the left. And I don't think it's "intellectually lazy", Pericles, for me to notice this. When John Kerry links to Daily Kos, it indicates acceptance of the "loony left".
Pericles says that "it makes it much easier for you to defend the war if you can depict everyone who opposed it as coming from the looney left", but I know that's not true. Many of my relatives (both my side and my husband's) don't support OIF. Many military wives I know don't support it either. Those people don't have a political reason for their feelings; they simply don't want people they love to have to die for someone else's country. I can get my mind around that feeling, even if I don't share it. They're a similar type of anti-war to Cindy Sheehan, to be honest, though I've never heard any of my relatives blame President Bush. They simply don't want there to be a war.
But people like Murtha and Pelosi are not in this category. They oppose this war on political grounds, and They. Blame. Bush. Just like Cindy Sheehan does. Just like Michael Moore does. Just like Pericles does, I think. Bush hatred has drawn all these people together, and they're all under the Democrats' tent, like it or not.
Think about everything youÂ’ve heard about the conditions in Iraq, the role of U.S. forces, the multi-layered complexities of the war.
Then think again.
IÂ’m a journalist. I read the news everyday, from several sources. I have the luxury of reading stuff newspapers donÂ’t always have room to print. I read every tidbit I could on Iraq and the war before coming.
Everything I thought I knew was wrong.
Maybe not wrong, but certainly different than the picture in my head.
I liken it to this; It was real struggle for me to choose to see the Harry Potter movies. I had read the books and loved the pictures I had in my mind of the details I read. I didnÂ’t need to see a movie; I had a movie playing in my head of exactly how I perceived the stories.
I had similar notions about Iraq, Mosul, the war and what exactly soldiers do. And it was handily shattered like glass today by a group of soldiers, half of them younger than myself.
She goes on to end with one of the most insightful things I've ever heard a reporter say:
IÂ’ve listened to the soldiers and Parrish about the missing pieces of the puzzles that donÂ’t reach home. My selfish, journalistic drive immediately thinks Â“Perfect. A story that hasnÂ’t been told. Let me at it.Â”
But I have a slight hesitation; I need to keep balanced. I canÂ’t be a cheerleader, even if I have a soft spot for the hometown troops, especially after the welcome theyÂ’ve shown me. I still need to be truthful and walk the centerline and report the good or bad.
But then I realize itÂ’s not a conflict of interest. If I am truly unbiased, then I need to get used to this one simple fact; that the untold story, might in fact, be a positive one. It takes a minute to wrap my mind around it, as a news junkie that became a news writer. The great, career-making, breaking news stories usually donÂ’t have happy endings; they usually revolve around disturbing news, deceit and downfall. Nasty political doings. Gruesome crimes and murders. Revealing secrets.
But IÂ’ve come upon something that is none of those. Not this aspect of it. There are politics to this war and controversies and investigations. But there is another side.
There are heartwarming and heroic stories coming out of Iraq, and journalists are not "selling out" if they report this good stuff. It was a huge step for this embed to realize that maybe the stories that need to be told are the ones with happy endings.
I think this year's Christmas was slightly better...
December 25, 2005
Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the "Island of Misfit Toys" gang believe with all their might that, if America will just leave Iraq, all the terrorists will magically disappear! They believe that the UN and the EU can somehow make Iran's weapons-grade uranium go away. And if we all just put down our guns and give Cindy Sheehan a great, big Christmas hug, peace on earth will surely follow.
The husband and I heard John Lennon's "Happy Xmas" song this morning. I remarked that the line "War is over / if you want it" is about the biggest idealistic pile of crap ever. Gee, if we just wish real hard, war will stop all over the world.
Of course, I've been ticked at Lennon ever since I read this, so I was ready for a fight when his song came on.
December 24, 2005
We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
I've been having a nagging feeling lately that I wasted my education chances. I had excellent grades in high school, and I got a full ride to college. I could've done anything with my four years that I wanted to, and I had two paths I could've followed. I could've studied French, which was easy for me and fun. Or I could've studied physics, which I found extremely interesting but took more work and application of my brain. I chose French.
As I sit in Germany with no job, I realize that neither degree would've done me much good here. I only use French to write Christmas cards to my elderly French relatives. By the time we move to our next duty station, it will be time to start discussing plans for children, so I'll never have much going for me in the way of a career. I can't help but feel that if my degree is only going to end up being for my personal enrichment, then I made the wrong choice.
I always thought it was strange that European youngsters are pigeonholed into careers far earlier than we Americans are. There's really no such thing as an "undecided major" in Europe. But even though I waited until the ripe old age of 19 to decide my major, I still feel now at 28 that I should've chosen wiser. I chose French because it came so easily to me, and because it was the smallest major at my college, which would afford me more electives to play around with. I looked into the physics minor, but it turned out to be more hours than the French major, impossible if I studied abroad. So I let it go, and now I'm disappointed in myself.
28-year-old Sarah can't get President Kennedy out of her mind. I wish I'd chosen physics because it was hard. I should've worked and stretched my brain and forced myself to acquire new skills. I should've tried to do something I really wanted to do instead of taking the lazy route.
I should be an out-of-work physicist instead of an out-of-work French speaker.
December 23, 2005
December 22, 2005
I was writing something to her, and I wrote, "I am scared to death of" before I stopped and realized I had chosen my words poorly. Every time I write to her, I find myself backspacing over all sorts of stupid expressions: "I could've just died when I said", "that joke killed me", "I love her to death." I feel like some dumb sitcom character who stutters like an idiot because he just asked a blind girl if she saw something. When do you get over that? When will I stop having to police myself so I don't say something stupid? When will our friendship just feel normal?
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