April 11, 2007


I think the Pope should've chosen his words more carefully when he said on Easter that "nothing positive comes from Iraq." Tell that to the women Uday raped, the children who were released from prison, and the girls who are going to school for the first time. Noel of Cold Fury reminds us that the Pope was once a forced member of the Hitler Youth; maybe he'd do well to remember what American sacrifice can achieve. Michael Novak thinks that the Pope is having a hard time transcending his European outlook on the world, and writes:

The Coalition forces cannot oblige Iraq to form a successful, patient, slowly maturing democracy. But the Coaliltion forces are giving the people of Iraq the chance to do so — a rare and precious chance in the Arab world of the last one hundred years. Maybe the vision will not succeed. But do not say that the vision itself was not positive. It was, indeed, noble, and carried out with much self-sacrifice, heroism, and devotion to others. Many Coalition forces willingly laid down their lives for the liberty and human rights of people who had earlier been strangers to them. Do not, dear European friends, contemn nor trivialize these generous sacrifices.

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I found a great comment over at Blackfive by a guy named Geo(AeroEng). It was in response to a post wherein a lefty blog criticizes her fellow lefty bloggers for not sharing the love with linkage. She says that it's a shame that

people whose worldview is so narrow, intolerant, exclusive, and hateful are so much better at supporting their ideological soulmates than we on the left, whose values run to diversity, inclusiveness, a place at the table for everyone, human needs before defense contractorsÂ’ wish lists.

I know, I know. Muffle your guffaws. Geo(AeroEng) responds with:

Perhaps its because we on the "right" are willing to put aside differences for a common goal. Here on B5, I've seen posts and comments from the "religious right" to "libertarian" to "classical liberal" and many other unique (and stereotyped) view point. On many issues, we actually DON'T agree. I remember firestorms about topics from gays in the military to legalizing drugs. Regular poster debated regular poster. In the end, we agreed to disagree and behave civily. In the end, we know that we have some common ground and are willing to focus on that. We, unlike many on the left, are more than tolerant of other's beliefs differing from our own. Something to say about us placing a high value on freedom.

One pair of posts struck me as representative of why we, as a community, work. In the post concerning Cpl. Emery, Orion and Carrie had this exchange:

Orion: I may be pagan, but I'll pray for him and the Sarn't Major as well.
Carrie: Orion,
I don't care if you worship a can of kidney beans..
all the positive energy that we can muster is needed right now.
All of it.
Just do what you do.....it is all good.

On a place like the Daily Kos, I'm sure this would have devolved into a blow by blow against a certain religion (most likely the roles reversed or militant atheism vs. christianity/paganism). On the left, one must buy into the party line completely. Various groups fight for supremancy of THEIR goals and only theirs.

Here, it was cherished. WE don't give a hoot about every issue at once, only the important ones.

We know when to argue, we know when to unite, like any good, if slightly disfunctional family. Family looks after family.
Maybe the left just doesn't get it. In a way I pity them.

Amen to that. I think my blogroll is fairly diverse. I don't agree with everything my favorite bloggers say. And I thought I agreed with everything CaliValleyGirl says, until she disagreed with me about the 15 British sailors! I enjoy listening to Neal Boortz and Rush Limbaugh on the radio because I agree with them about as often as I disagree with them, and they disagree with each other often too. "The Right" is a very broad tent, but we band together with our common ground and face the problems at hand. I even was excited to find the blog But I Am A Liberal! yesterday, because the common ground is there for us too. I can disagree about the details, but I can't disagree about the basic underlying values.

I can't speak for the Left because I've never been a part of the Left, but I have a hard time seeing that it's the Giant Table With A Place Setting For Everyone that this blogger says it is. And what will they do in 2008 when their common ground -- that Bush is the root of all evil -- is gone?

I love being a part of the big tent that is the Right. And I continue to identify with and vote for people I disagree with on a lot of things, because at least our core set of values are aligned.

But I really need to put a stop to disagreeing with CaliValleyGirl.

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April 10, 2007


I'm sorry, did I read that correctly? Markos Moulitsas charges $9000 per week for ads on his blog? Holy cow, that's major scratch. And what a sweet gig: he barely writes anything and has minions who do all the work. Niiice.

Let the record show that I've never made any money from this blog, save the cut I got from The Blog of War. Unless you count the Iraqi dinar that R1 sent me while he was deployed...

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I finished Victor Davis Hanson's awesome The Soul of Battle last night. This is how the book ends, in the epilogue called "The End of the Democratic Marches?" published in 1999:

Had Epaminondas led the Allies in Desert Storm, he would have set up new defensible societies for the Kurds and Shiites, and held of the Iraqi Army until both cultures were safe from retribution. Sherman would have preferred to cut a swath through Iraq, leveling every one of Saddam's "palaces," torching his munitions factories and the entire industrial infrastructure of his war-mkaing, and destroying for good measure the homes of the Baath party elite, who should learn the wages of supporting a murderer. Patton, of course, would have headed straight for the Iraqi capital and not left until the Republican Guard was annihilated and Saddam Hussein was dead or in chains.
The great danger of the present age is that democracy may never again marshal the will to march against and ultimately destroy evil. In the era of television, the image of war's brutality in our living rooms may stop the attack; the education system of the present, with its interest in self-esteem, sensitivity, and the therapeutic, may not turn out sufficiently idiosyncratic audacious -- and well-read -- leaders; and instant communications may serve to bridle a mobile column at its moment of victory. But even a greater peril still in present-day democratic society is that we may simply have forgotten that there finally must be a choice between good and evil, that the real immorality is not the use of great force to inflict punishment, but, as the Greeks remind us, the failure to exercise moral authority at all. When men like Epaminondas, Sherman, and Patton go to war to stop evil and to save lives, there is a soul to their battle that lives on well after they are gone.

As Clinton said, Think about that the next time you're high.

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April 09, 2007


I've developed a bad case of knitting ADD recently. For ten years I was a one-project woman, but lately... I think it started when I got my job and I was knitting things for home and things for work and I realized that there's no reason why I can't have multiple items going at once. So now I sit on the sofa surrounded by pieces of a baby blanket, an octopus with two tentacles, an afghan, the back of a sweater, and half a purse. And that wasn't enough to satisfy my mind yesterday, so I worked for 24 hours on this little fellow.


Looks like a pig mated with an anteater, but he's got a certain charm. He'll hop in the mail tomorrow and be on his way to warmer climes, as a long-overdue and much-anticipated gift for someone who was always there to rescue me when my husband locked me out of the house in Germany.

And holy crap, Space Invaders socks. Can I fit another project on the sofa?

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Chuck Z can sure make me laugh:

I support and defend the constitution. Period. It says that the Predisent is my commander in chief. If the commander says "Go, Kill, and Keep Killing, because thy are the enemy of freedom, then I go and kill. If the commander later says that his intel was flawed, and they aren't necessarily all that bad, well, anyone in uniform understands that the intel guys are mostly boobs anyway, who play LOTS of dungeons and dragons when thy aren't giving the boss their "best guess."

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April 08, 2007


I got an off-the-record email from a reader whose job involves working on some next-generation equipment for the military, and I realized that we military families don't do enough to thank these people for all their hard work. My husband gets all the glory for his service to our great country, but these men and women working in research and design do the very unsexy job of testing equipment that will save my husband's life. And we never thank them, never make Budweiser commercials clapping for them in the airport, never give it a moment's notice that these people work long hours to figure out how to shave just one more pound off of the IBA without sacrificing quality.

We owe them our thanks.

If you're out there, if you read my blog and you work in the industry that makes this war machine possible, I thank you. From the depths of my heart. Your work makes my husband's work possible. You keep him safe. You keep our country safe. We need to remember you more often.

Here's a booming HOOAH! from this Army wife to those who make it possible.

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War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
-- John Stuart Mill

After Nick Berg, after Ken Bigley, my husband and I have discussed on numerous occasions what we would do in the unlikely event that he was ever taken hostage. I've said before that we gather strength from brave men like Fabrizio Quattrocchi. And I nod in agreement with this retired Army colonel who expresses disgust and dismay with the way the 15 British sailors chose self-preservation above any other values.

What ever happened to name, rank, and social security number?

I know this war is different than one fought in the past. Steve McQueen kept bouncing his baseball with little fear of having his head sawed off with a dull knife. You never know today if you'll be brutally murdered on a propaganda video or allowed to convert and be released. But it's not worth it to me to sacrifice my honor on the off chance I'd get to go home. I've been brought to tears by Vietnam POWs in AFN commercials enough times to know that your honor is all you have in these situations. These Brits sacrificed their honor and their country just so they could live. That captain said that they couldn't fight back against the Iranians who were taking them because then they would've surely died. Isn't this a war? Haven't you prepared yourself for the possibility that you might have to give your life in it? If not, you have no business wearing that uniform. Keep your damn leisure suit; if I were the British military, I'd yank those soldiers' uniforms so fast it'd make their heads spin. But no, the Brits are letting these sailors make book deals.

What is wrong with us these days?

Is there nothing we'll stand for? Nothing worth dying for? Nothing even worth sacrificing a small amount of discomfort for? Couldn't these sailors have at least pretended that they felt bad about their total acquiescence instead of laughing about f-ing Mr. Bean with their captors? They looked like they didn't have a care in the world, as long as they saved their own asses. Woo hoo, we're going home, and all we had to do was capitulate and sell out our country to do so. What a deal!

If this is the stuff we're made of today, we're doomed.


See also Cold Fury's The Seinfeld Sovereign

Also, cooler heads prevail hos Victor Davis Hanson, who begins with "ItÂ’s probably a good rule to do the opposite of anything the Iranian theocracy wants. Apparently, this government is now doing its darnedest to be bombed. So, for the time being, we should not grant them this wish." Sithmonkey comes up with a great alternative to bombing Iran, which you should read here.

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April 07, 2007


See, here's an example of what I wrote about yesterday. Yes, there are some drawbacks to the current body armor. But it takes time to pinpoint the problems and come up with solutions, to test out the solutions, and to implement them. For pete's sake, we didn't know what the shortcomings of the original IBA would be until they were actually used in theater! But now they've improved upon it, namely to make it lighter, change weight distribution, and even supply a quick release to instantly remove the armor in case of drowning or fire. That's brilliant and applicable, but the only way we knew we needed it was to let the original design run for a while. Nothing is perfect the first time around, but that Time article acted like the Army has given up on trying to improve the situation. Army's broken, guess that's it. That's absurd: they're constantly working to make life better for our warriors. Remember...Civil War soldiers had $175 worth of gear, OIF's have $17,000. But people act like our government is shortchanging our troops or throwing them to the wolves. They're working on it, dangit. It took seven years to design and build the LM, right?, a lunar module that had never been seen before. Well, IBA is a new concept too, and it will take time and effort to get it right.

Grr, I get so worked up over this stuff. Deep breaths.

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April 06, 2007


"America's Broken Down Army" is a completely disheartening article. I could fisk just about every paragraph in the thing, but the fact that it was even written makes me want to cry. I will say a couple of things.

"For us, it's just another series of never-ending deployments, and for many, including me, there is only one answer to that—show me the door out," wrote an officer in a private e-mail to Congressman Steve Rothman of New Jersey.

If Time had asked my husband for his opinion, they'd've gotten the exact opposite answer. He's looking for the door in, trying to figure out how he can be more useful to the Army.

"Their wives are saying, I know you're proud of what you're doing, but we've got to get out of here," says Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star general.

If McCaffrey had asked me, he would've gotten the exact opposite answer again. I am so proud of what my husband is doing, and I am doing everything I can to help him get closer to the fight.

After training to fire the artillery's big guns at foes 15 miles away, his unit is pulling infantry duty. "I love the Army," the 12-year veteran, a native of Columbus, Ohio, says, "but I hate this war."

No one in the Army is doing what they trained to do in AIT or OBC, save 11Bs and 19Ws. And everyone hates this war. My husband hates this war. But he still thinks we have to fight it.

Three weeks before his enlistment was up last year, the Army ordered him to Iraq for a second tour. He had been planning to live with his wife in Chicago and attend film school by now. Instead, Santopoalo stalks Sunni insurgents through the palm groves. "You start to think about what life could be—sitting on a beach drinking a Corona," he says. "That's when it affects you."

My husband and I had two very different reactions to this quote. My husband said that this is the most normal feeling in the world. All soldiers wish they were relaxing and drinking beer, all the time. He's leaving for the field this weekend, and he says he knows all week he will wish he were at home in his recliner. That's what soldiers do: dream of relaxing. My reaction is the same reaction I have whenever I think of my own husband deploying: our life is not worth more than anyone else's. If my husband doesn't deploy, someone else will. Someone has to do the job, and we have never once thought that we've already done our time and now it's time for someone else to do it. Until this war is over, it is ours to fight.

I could go on and on about this article, about how they mischaracterize the Blue to Green program as the Army "cannibalizing" the Air Force, or how they beat that eternal dead horse that is uparmored HMMWVs. Their own figures make the argument that the Army is doing everything a lumbering bureaucracy can do to make this better:

A World War II G.I. wore gear worth $175, in today's dollars. By Vietnam, it cost about $1,500. Today it's about $17,000. [...] The Army said at the start of the war it would need 235 armored humvees; the number is 18,000 today—and each time the Army improves the armor on the truck, the insurgents improve their IEDs. The Army has packed on all the armor a humvee's transmission and axles can carry, so the military is rushing to buy 7,774 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles for an estimated $8.4 billion—more than $1 million each. Their V-shaped undercarriage is designed to deflect blasts from the soldiers on board.

Yes, the Army thought OIF, this one stage of the Global War on Terrorism (oops, can't say that), wouldn't last so long. So freaking sue them. Whiny microwave, drive-thru culture...you can't have everything you want as fast as you want it. This is a war. War sucks. People have to fight in it and they have to die in it. Forgive my lack of empathy, but I just finished reading a book on Sherman's march in the Civil War, and I have a hard time shedding tears that we've got to let more folks with GEDs in the Army to meet recruiting goals. Union men in the Civil War fought for years on end with no employer benefits waiting for them back home, fought to end the slavery of other men; they were in no danger of becoming slaves themselves. Today we fight an enemy who wishes all of us to submit, to become slaves to shariah. Forgive me if I don't care if you have a marijuana bust on your record or a low ASVAB, so long as you want to help us fight this long and awful war.

Is the Army broken? Maybe it wouldn't seem that way if we didn't constantly harp on it. Men in WWII parachuted all over kingdom come and were lucky to have a weapon and a cricket when they landed. Patton didn't have enough gas to advance his Third Army. But Americans didn't sit around and harp about how broken-down we were. They didn't gripe about how soldiers on the beaches of Normandy didn't have kevlar and uparmored landing crafts. They fought with the Army they had and didn't write four-page articles on how doomed they were.

Anyone with an ounce of perspective knows that war sucks and nothing is ever perfect. There's nothing wrong with striving to do better, but this constant naysaying and tearing down of our military is a bunch of baloney. I'm tired of hearing how crappy our Army is and how awful life is for everyone involved. We don't even know the meaning of the word crappy.

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Like Tarantino? Read this.
Heh: only "4 3/4 films underneath his belt." Personally, I loved his room at the hotel.

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April 05, 2007


A writer from the Reform Party of Syria says Pelosi just turned the clock backwards for women:

As a Muslim, I fully understand respect of our religion by visiting US officials and I applaud that respect. Had Speaker Pelosi worn the Hijab inside a Mosque, this would have indicated respect but for Pelosi to wear it on the streets of Damascus all the while she is sitting with the self-imposed Baschar al-Assad who has come to symbolize oppression and one of the reasons why women are forced to wear the Hijab as they turn to religion to express their freedom is a statement of submittal not only to oppression but also to lack of women's rights in the Middle East. Pelosi just reversed the work of the Syrian civil society and those who aspire for women's freedom in the Muslim countries many years back with her visual statement. Her lack of experience of the Middle East is showing.

Assad could not have been happier because Syrian women, seeing a US official confirming what their husbands, the Imams in the Mosques tell them, and the society at large imposes on them through peer pressure will see in her wearing a Hijab as a confirmation of the societal pressures they are constantly under. No one will ever know how many women took the Hijab on after seeing Pelosi wearing it. The damage Speaker Pelosi is causing with her visit to Syria will be felt for many years to come.

That's what happens when you walk around with two ounces of knowledge and ten pounds of multicultural baggage. I'm sure Pelosi thought she was being respectful, but she merely confirmed the idea that all women -- even women who are third in line to the Leader of the Free World -- should be covered and submissive. Shame on her.

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April 04, 2007


Here's what I want to know: Why do I live on an Army post named after a Confederate douche instead of the real hero of the Civil War?

You'll perhaps remember that my husband took on the task of speaking for Sherman at our last duty station. He has read much about this great man, including Victor Davis Hanson's The Soul of Battle. I sat down with this book a couple of weeks ago, forcing myself to slog through Hanson's offhanded knowledge of ancient Greece in order to learn about Epaminondas. (If Hanson says he's worth knowing about, then it's worth muddling my brain with B.C. timelines and maps of Peloponnese.) But what I really wanted was to get to page 123 and start The March to the Sea. I haven't been disappointed.

It has given me great pleasure not only to learn about Sherman but to see the passages my husband highlighted in the book, to see Sherman through his eyes and know what impresses him as a soldier. And to read about Sherman and smile, seeing at times a reflection of my husband.

What a good book. And I haven't even gotten to Patton yet.

(There's a blogger out there who speaks far more eloquently about Sherman than I ever could...)

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Hey, did you hear? The Global War on Terrorism is over. Done. Finished.
[smacks dust of her hands]
Now what?
Oh, that's right...keep fighting a, um, global war on, um, terrorism.

I don't even know why they'll bother teaching my husband Farsi; they may as well just teach everyone Newspeak.

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I have been sitting here for about two hours trying to come up with something interesting to say. I have decided to give up and post a photo of the dog instead.


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