October 31, 2006

HOW DO YOU SAY "ELITIST" IN CAMBODIAN?

Since my husband is the smartest man I know (go on, Erin, tell 'em what a genius he is), I have been seething today about what John Kerry said. I kept trying to think of something ba-zing to pimpslap him with, but other than a list of all the soldiers I know and how smart they are, I wasn't coming up with anything. Turns out I don't need to, because others have done the job for me. Head over to Michelle Malkin's to watch Kerry look like an elitist douche and then read all the hatemail that's pouring in.

And what Kerry said -- “You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.” -- ain't exactly the most eloquent sentence I've ever heard. Good thing he spent top-dollar on that prissy degree of his.

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ELEPHANT

I started this blog as a way to talk about poltics and issues without having to talk to anyone from my Real Life. At that time in my life, I didn't have any friends who think like I do, and I wanted somewhere to vent. Because I would never dream of venting this stuff in public.

So today when I read The Elephant in the Room, I could completely relate.

Judith says that it's usually Democrats who shun Republican friendships, but I have found myself as the shunner before. I have a few friends with whom I can have rational and polite discussions about the war or politics, but I have more than enough experience with those people who Make Pronouncements:

Another thing [Democrats] do which Kornblat doesn't give an example of, but which we all have experienced: They always start political conversations. None of us do. We have learned that no one wants to argue issues on their merits, that the room gets very quiet and unfriendly, that people start screaming at you, or rant the most loopy beliefs and conspiracy theories. We just assume that is not a topic anyone can treat in a dispassionate manner.

But they always provoke political conversations. Well, not conversations, which would be enjoyable and enlightening. They make pronouncements. And look around the room to see if anyone not only doesn't agree, but doesn't agree enthusiastically. As a friend deep in the closet in the theater world put it, you can't just sit quietly and wait for the topic to change. No, you are suspect if you do not vocally endorse the official opinion of the group. You thought you were in a project meeting or a coffee klatch or a dinner party, and all of a sudden it has turned into the Communist Youth League Self-Criticism Session.

There are only so many times I can stomach pronouncements like "Whew, won't it be better when Kerry is president?" or "So can you believe this crap that Bush is pulling?" And it's not easy to be friends with someone who walks into work, slams a copy of Fahrenheit 911 on my desk and says, "You need to watch this so maybe you'll think twice about voting for Bush." And so I end up distancing myself from those people. It's fine to have a friend who's a Democrat, but it's a drag to have a friend who says you're no better than Mohammad Atta. Or a friend who can't even muster up any sympathy that your husband is at war because "well, you started it." Or someone who says your friend with the gaping hole in his torso from an RPG is has been brainwashed into fighting for lies. I don't have much use for people like that in my life.

What's funny is that now the scales have tipped in my life. I don't blog massive rants like I did three years ago because I have more people in my Real Life to talk to about this stuff. And this weekend was unlike anything I've ever experienced: being with a group of people who are even bigger rightwing nutjobs than I am! I spent most of the weekend with my jaw on the floor, and I came home squealing to my husband about all the stuff people had said. It was fun, it was fun to not have to tiptoe around to avoid offending someone. And the lone Democrat in the room got some gentle ribbing and jokes tossed his way, but we all got along marvelously. Common ground and all.

So I can't say I've never shunned, but I certainly am capable of being friends with Democrats. No seriously, I am. I just prefer people who join me in a pretend throw up when I say the name Christiane Amanpour.

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October 30, 2006

BLESSED

The SpouseBUZZ conference was a success this weekend. I got to meet my fellow bloggers and we had a great connect with the wives at Fort Hood. If you're interested in our discussion, I liveblogged the panels here and here. But one of the most touching things of the weekend happened when I left Texas.

I sat down on my flight home next to a man on a cell phone, whom I initially assumed would be a quiet businessman. But when he hung up, he asked me what I was doing in Texas. And there's this feeling you get in the two seconds after you mention that you're a part of the military, a hold-your-breath feeling where you wait for the person's reaction. It was going to be a long flight, and I didn't want to deal with anything unpleasant. But this situation couldn't have been better.

I was sitting next to George Pearsons, the pastor at Eagle Mountain International Church. He was extremely interested in learning what military families go through. He asked me many questions about what military spouses experience and what we think about various political issues and current events. We talked nonstop for two and a half hours. He told me about a program they have at their church that supports families of military servicemembers called Troops 91, named after Psalm 91. I told him about SpouseBUZZ and encouraged him to let his parishoners know about our website if they're looking for a place to connect while their loved one is deployed.

Right before we landed, he said he wanted to do something special for my family. He gave me a donation on behalf of his church, saying that we should use this money to go to dinner or do something to cherish our precious time together. He said he wanted to give me this money "to bless my family." I couldn't believe how much money he wanted me to take! He wouldn't let me refuse, and we parted ways a little better for having met each other.

As I drove home from the airport, I thought about this money and I realized something: my family is already blessed enough. My husband said the exact same thing when I showed him the money and told him the story. So I hope Pastor Pearsons doesn't mind if I use his church's money to bless some people who probably need it more than we do.

I'm going to donate this money from Eagle Mountain International Church to two organizations that have a connection to SpouseBUZZ. I'll send half to Sew Much Comfort, an organization that makes adaptive clothing for wounded troops. And I'll send the other half to Project Valour-IT, an organization that provides voice-activated laptops to troops whose wounds prevent them from communicating via computer with their loved ones.

Pastor Pearsons blessed me with his money, but what he really blessed me with was his kindness. He was a wonderful listener, a concerned American, and a man who is genuinely interested in understanding how we spouses cope with life in the military. I was blessed to have been in Seat 19E yesterday.


(This post is cross-posted at SpouseBUZZ.)

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UGH

I'm sorry, but I don't see any reason it would ever be appropriate to ask a soldier in an interview "You ever worry one day your number's gonna come up?" What kind of question is that from a journalist? If you want to get to that issue, could you at least ask it in a less crass way? And then to follow up with whether or not they think their wives are screwing around on them. Sweet merciful crap. What is wrong with people?

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VIDEO

Watch this video on the good news from Iraq. It reminds me of why we could still use Tim behind a keyboard.

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October 27, 2006

BYE

I'm leaving for Texas in a few minutes. Unfortunately, tonight is the military ball, which my husband is emceeing; I'm quite sad to miss this. As I said goodbye to my husband, I reminded him to have fun but stay out of trouble. He reminded me that those two things are mutually exclusive at a military ball...

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October 26, 2006

LUMPED TOGETHER

I just heard about these Active Duty servicemembers who are speaking out against the war. Whatever, that's their business. But I do take issue with one thing the ringleader, SGT Liam Madden, says:

The goal is to have 2,000 names on the Appeal for Redress list when the messages are delivered to members of Congress in January.

"I think that's easily attainable," he said. "There's a seed of dissent in the military against this policy, and a core of people who are acting."

He doesn't believe many military personnel are politically opposed to the war, he said. But, he said, he believes a continuing cycle of redeployment has worn the patience of the troops.

"As far as widespread disapproval of the occupation of Iraq, I know no one likes being deployed over and over again and being away from their families for months at a time," Madden said.

Because of that, "I'm pretty sure there's a base of support" for the appeal to Congress, he said.

I'm not sure I really like the idea that he plans to get more signatures just because people don't want to deploy. If someone honestly thinks that we shouldn't be in Iraq, then he should sign this petition. But someone who just doesn't want to do his job (i.e. deploy where the military says to) shouldn't be lumped in the same category. Most soldiers and marines are growing weary from on-a-year-off-a-year, but they aren't the same as those who are anti-war.

One thing I found humorous was the quote from Madden's mother:

The clashing philosophies expressed by antiwar activists and the administration on Wednesday may ring familiar for Madden, who found himself in friendly debates with his mother, a supporter of using force against tyranny.

"We were direct opposites for a long time," said Oona Madden, a former restaurant owner in Bellows Falls. "I did support the war and still do to some extent. I don't buy into everything Liam tells me, but I support what he's doing -- as long as he covers his butt."

It's not too often you find an anti-war marine with a pro-war mama!

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BITTERSWEET

I don't clean up my blog email inbox very often, so I have lots of old emails spanning my blogging career. But just now I found one tucked away in a folder that was from three years ago this weekend. One that starts...

Interesting post. I am retired AF, former helicopter crew chief/flightmechanic/gunner who got an engineering degree then returned to the flightline as an aircraft maintenance officer.

My first contact with Bunker.

I feel his absence all the time. It's bittersweet for me to travel to Texas this weekend, because we had planned to someday meet. I know that if he were still alive, I would've gotten to meet him this weekend.

I'll still go meet him someday, just not the way I pictured it.

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BAD TIMING

Darned Cardinals and their darned seven-game NLCS series and their darned rain delays. Now I've got a major dilemma on my hands.

This weekend I'll be at the SpouseBUZZ conference at Fort Hood. I'm very excited about participating in this panel, and I know it will be fun to meet fellow bloggers and hear their stories. But I also know that half my mind will be focused on the darned World Series.

Of course, that's not as bad as my friend from college, who had a wedding to attend last Saturday. She spent most of the reception with her face pressed against the reception hall window, trying to see the TV in the bar across the street! She says it should be illegal for people to get married during the World Series or March Madness.

I'd love for the Cardinals to just go ahead and win the thing, but I can't stand the thought of them winning the World Series while I'm 1000 miles away from my favorite Cards fan.

Anyway, if you're in the Fort Hood area and would like to say hi, I'll be at the SpouseBUZZ conference on Saturday. Should be a fun time. And let's pray for torrents of rain so the rest of the series gets postponed until next week.

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CHAIN OF THOUGHTS

I was thinking more this morning about my post from yesterday. CaliValleyGirl and I may have grown up in wildly different zip codes, but I can't think of any values she and I don't have in common. Conversely, I know of several lefties who lived their whole lives in rural Missouri. I guess I'm no closer to figuring out what makes us embrace the politics we do.

And then thinking of California made me think of Tupac. Which made me think of my absolute favorite Dave Chappelle skit, one that makes me laugh even harder than Rick James. Maybe it's because I once dated a guy who was really into Tupac conspiracy theories. Yeah, I know, leave me alone.

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October 25, 2006

FISHBOWL

CaliValleyGirl is back in L.A. after living nine years in Germany. And she just took a trip to another planet: Alabama. You must go read her post before you keep reading mine. Go on, git.

I went to college in rural Missouri, population 17,000. Interestingly enough, we had a pretty big foreign exchange community. And I had this exact conversation with a French exchange student. He was dismayed that our town in Missouri never showed any foreign films in the local movie theater, because the locals would benefit from learning about other countries. Our local movie theater had three screens. Three. I tried to explain to him that his idea was not a very sound business move for a rural movie theater, but he insisted that everyone in France is educated about the United States, so we should educate ourselves about France.

I asked him why he didn't study abroad in Finland. He got a little puzzled and said that he didn't really know anything about Finland. Well, don't they have a culture that's worth learning about? Why wasn't he interested in learning about Finland? If he wants rural Missourians to learn all about France, then shouldn't he spend some time learning about Finland? Of course it's a silly juxtaposition, but it made the point that Finland is out of his experience. Learning about Finland might be interesting in and of itself, but it does nothing to really affect his daily life or his future. He was in the US to learn English in order to hopefully get ahead in the business world. What would it help him to learn about Finland, or a rural Missourian to see a French film? Not much in a practical sense.

Everyone wants others to know about and respect his culture. It's his, right? So it must be worth learning about! But "middle America" -- Jesusland, Flyover Country, Red States, or whatever you want to call us -- are really out of the average Californian or New Yorker's experience. I can't really fault them for not knowing about us, any more than I can fault a Frenchie for not knowing about Finland, but we do make up a big freakin' chunk of the country.

I have never been to California or NYC. (Before my mom interjects, I disclose that I went to NYC as an infant, but that hardly counts for my point here.) All I know about L.A. and New York comes from TV, the same way Europeans learn about the US. The disconnect is that my entire US experience, the America that I know, comes from living in Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, and South Carolina. That's the US I know, and it's quite different from CaliValleyGirl's US (living in Hawaii and California).

I'm happy she visited my version of the US. I'd like to visit her version someday too. I think it can help us establish common ground, which would be good for all 300 billion of us.

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October 24, 2006

ON TO GAME 4

Woohoo, the voodoo doll worked!
Go Cards!

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WHY VOTING MATTERS

Bleak House: Republicans deserve to lose, but what happens if Democrats win?

First, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has promised that election of a Democratic House would insure "a rollback of the [Bush] tax cuts." Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, who would be chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, would make sure no tax cut extension bill would ever get to the floor. He voted against the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts and the bill that later extended the tax cuts until 2010 (as did all but seven of the 205 Democratic House members). In September Mr. Rangel said that he "cannot think of one" Bush tax cut he would agree to renew.

Investors Business Daily recently pointed out that since the Bush tax cuts took effect in 2003, "the economy has added $1.26 trillion in real output, $14.4 trillion in net wealth and 5.8 million new jobs." But that progress doesn't seem to matter to the liberals, whose primary goal is to raise income tax rates. "Taxing the rich" will be the leading economic argument of a 2007 Democratic House, and a rollback tax bill of some kind will reach the floor.

Second, President Bush will not be able to re-energize his effort for individually owned Social Security accounts, for "preventing the privatization of social security" is in the Democratic National Committee's "6-Point Plan for 2006." Democrats don't trust people to own or invest their own retirement funds--better to let a wise government do that, for as socialist Noam Chomsky says, "putting people in charge of their own assets breaks down the solidarity that comes from doing something together." And since Congress gets to spend Social Security tax receipts that aren't needed to pay benefits, letting people invest their payments in their own retirement accounts would be a costly revenue reduction that the new, bigger-spending Congress won't allow to happen.

Via Instapundit. Yikes. Read the remaining points. Double yikes.

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JUJU

Well, I didn't make it to the store or the post office or anything else I was going to do yesterday, but I did finish knitting a Detroit voodoo doll all in one day.

juju.JPG

Heh. Go Cardinals!

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October 23, 2006

SAD

I wrote before about how much I love the stained glass window in the chapel on our old post. Now, according to my old neighbor, they're getting rid of it and designing a new one. I hope they keep the old one intact and put it somewhere else. For whatever reason, that window touches my heart in a way I can't describe.

stainedglass.jpg

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PUPDATE

I was asked for a pupdate, which is something I will always oblige. So here the stinker is, cute as can be, snuggled up with his squeeky toy. And it's a good thing he's cute, because yesterday he ate through the apartment mini-blinds like they were made of ham.

pup-Oct.JPG

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UP YOUR BUTT, JOBU

My goal for today is to whip out one of these in a Detroit uniform, in time for tomorrow night's game. Heh.

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ABOVE MY PAY GRADE

Yesterday I posted food for thought. Today I post the other side of the argument:
If we had known then...
If We Knew Then...

You wanna know what I think? I think I'm not smart enough to know.

I too thought of the idea of hindsight when I read Goldberg's article. Tactical mistakes were made during the Civil War and WWII, yet we look back on those two as wild successes. I just don't know how time will look back on Iraq. Someday when all of this is a short paragraph in a high school history textbook, what will that paragraph say?

I don't have all the answers to the War on Terror. I rely on my husband, who's been in two of the three Axis of Evil countries, to give me his informed opinion. I trust our government has far more information than I could ever have about the situation. And I go with my gut and hope that in the end my gut was right.

That doesn't mean I don't have doubts. I constantly refer to the Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States. I think that has a major bearing on whether democracy can work in the Middle East. Reading LGF does nothing to bolster my confidence. But despite my doubts, I still think that Saddam Hussein had to go.

I've just been feeling lately that I shouldn't talk above my pay grade. And isn't that mostly what blogging is? I don't have any delightful insight that you people need to read. Sure, I have an opinion on the CNN sniper video and Ted Kennedy offering to help the Soviets. But my opinion is nothing you can't read at Blackfive or Cold Fury, respectively. I think the New York Times is crap for their recent whoopsie, I think it's ridiculous to assume there's institutionalized racism at Cracker Barrel, and I think we need to have a serious investigation into Dirt-gate.

But what do I know anyway...

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October 22, 2006

LIFE IMITATES ART

Woah. It's a real-life John Doe! I wonder if this guy knows how many dimples there are in a golf ball...

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

A thread worth reading:
Iraq Was a Worthy Mistake
Ace's response to Goldberg
The comments are worth a glance too.

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