Sunday, February 29, 2004


I'm already over there and posting, so swing by when you have the chance. And update your bookmarks (grumble, grumble) when you get the chance! The new address is the neat and clean www.tryingtogrok.com

See you all soon.

Saturday, February 28, 2004


For those of you who think I only get a laugh out of parodies of John Kerry, here's an Australian article that takes a shot at everyone and had me giggling at all of the candidates. (via Pixy Misa)

And the Chief has words on his return from Iraq that we should all read.

I plan to spend the rest of the day working on figuring out my new blogsite, so I won't be around here much, but hopefully March will come in like a grokking lion.

UPDATE 1046:

Dang. I should've been reading this HTML book for the past month. I have no idea how to do any of this. My problem is that I want it to be perfect before I invite any of you over there, but I'm not sure perfect is going to happen today...

UPDATE 1106:

Well, been working for 20 minutes and I still haven't figured out how to change the font. I think Bunker should reevaluate his opinion of my smarts.

UPDATE 1258:

Quick break for lunch finished. I'm chuggin along now. Moveable Type takes longer to republish than Blogger though.

UPDATE 1339:

Mouse just stopped working all of a sudden. Had to log off everything and restart computer. #%@&!!!

UPDATE 1441:

Ha, that's the name of a worthless UN resolution. I'm getting there, but I could use some help. Anyone know how to shift my sidebar from the left to the right?

UPDATE 1451:

OK, what the hell is going on? My mouse won't work again and I can't click on any links. I'm just opening and closing browsers. This sucks.

UPDATE 1503:

I've hit a gumption trap, so it's best for me to just shut 'er down for a while. I've emailed Pixy Misa with a couple of questions, so perhaps tomorrow I can finish up and everyone can be invited on 1 March.

UPDATE 2229:

Whew. Done. One more day on Blogspot and then I make the move...


...Warning! Unbecoming military rant follows...

Why does rank make people crazy? Why won't the junior enlisted soldiers believe that my husband grew up in a run-down suburb of St. Louis instead of in the lap of luxury? Why do wives of junior enlisted soldiers keep telling me that I can't understand how hard their life is because my husband is an officer? "You just don't know what it's like." Maybe by that rationale I should go to the Lieutenant Colonel's wife and tell her she just doesn't understand how hard it is to be me. Oh wait, nevermind, that's a bunch of bull. Her husband went back and forth to Iraq for months before the actual deployment, and he left on the very same plane as my husband. I also know that the Captain has meetings in Kuwait at 0330, and the FSG hasn't slept in 36 hours. Though all of our husbands sleep in the same tents, wait in the same lines, and wear the same 100 pounds of IBA, they do have different duties and jobs, so I personally find it very easy to understand that a Colonel's job is harder than a LTC's, which is harder than a Major's, and so on down the ranks (with FSG being somewhere around CPT). I understand that rank is an important hierarchy in the military, but that certainly doesn't mean that I can't understand someone because her husband's enlisted. That's crap.


Yes, I know wives from all shades of the spectrum: those officers' wives who look down their noses, those officers' wives who make you feel completely comfortable from day one, those enlisteds' wives who like you for who you are, and those enlisteds' wives who walk into your office and whose faces fall when they realize they have to ask you for help. It takes all kinds. But it's our husbands who do the job, not us, and these prejudices are ridiculous. If you're nice and personable, I'll be friends with you no matter what's on your husband's lapel.


Vi LGF we find an answer to the burning question: When is it OK to rape a jihad slave?

Nevertheless, the wisdom underlying the permission granted by Shariah to copulate with a slave woman is as follows: The LEGAL possession that a Muslim receives over a slave woman from the “Ameerul-Mu’mineen” (the Islamic Head of State) gives him legal credence to have coition with the slave woman in his possession, just as the marriage ceremony gives him legal credence to have coition with his wife. In other words, this LEGAL POSSESSION is, in effect, a SUBSTITUTE of the MARRIAGE CEREMONY. A free woman cannot be ‘possessed’, bought or sold like other possessions; therefore Shariah instituted a ‘marriage ceremony’ in which affirmation and consent takes place, which gives a man the right to copulate with her. On the other hand, a slave girl can be possessed and even bought and sold, thus, this right of possession, substituting as a marriage ceremony, entitles the owner to copulate with her.

Forget a marriage amendment; we'll just adopt Shariah. Then we have legal possession as a substitute for a marriage ceremony and all this debate melts into air...


Friday, February 27, 2004


Why is it that 15 minutes drags on like an eternity when things are slow here at work, but it passes in the blink of an eye when you get a call from Kuwait?

I'm so stupid; I cried on the phone. I haven't cried since the day he left, and I've been so good about being strong. I don't even know what happened, we were laughing about the camels crossing the road in front of his convoy and then I just lost it. And I wasted our time on the phone with my stupid tears and then his phone card ran out and we didn't even get to say goodbye.

I'm so mad at myself right now. How childish...


Thanks, Tim.

It's funny that when my husband calls and has finished talking about everything that's going on in Kuwait, his first question for me is "how's the blogosphere?" And I need more than fifteen minutes to tell him about all my wonderful "e-friends": the e-friend I talked to on the phone for two hours, the e-friend who writes a whole post just for me, the e-friend who struggles with her duty as an American while she sends her Marine boyfriend off to Iraq, the e-friend who offered to teach me to golf, and the e-friend who is going to help me set up my new blog page this weekend.

I couldn't ask for a better set of friends, of the e- variety or otherwise.


I don't want to harp on one issue, but Amritas sent an email with interesting thoughts about the marriage amendment that I thought deserved sharing:

Now that I'm calmer, hours later, I can say that Bush is probably sticking to his beliefs. Maybe this isn't the political move I thought it was. Let's be nice (quite unlike me) and suppose he is being sincere and not opportunistic. The problem is not so much his beliefs (I don't believe in forbidden opinions) as the proposed abuse of the Constitution to make his beliefs into law. The precedent he's setting is horrifying. What if some Kucinichy future President and his Leftist buddies decided to 'amend' (!) the Constitution to suit *their* beliefs? The Anti-War Amendment? Gah.

Reusing *the* phrase, the Constitution is America's legal 'common ground'. We can't mess with it on a whim. Even extreme Leftists pay lip service to the Constitution. I haven't memorized the Constitution or anything, but when I look at it, it blows me away, not because it's sacred - it's man-made - but how many other men were writing something like it at the time, in an era where tyranny was normal? And it still holds up today, though America has changed so much since then (and for the better - no backwards time machine for me!).

I couldn't have said it better.

AH HA...

This is why my husband hasn't called...

The convoys left for Camp New York in groups of 20 to 100 vehicles. Some soldiers found themselves skipping a night’s sleep Monday or Tuesday as they waited for their vehicles or had to drive them back to camp.

Still, their work was far from finished.

Bunker puts it like this:

For those of you with no real concept of logistics, consider moving an entire city of 150,000 from one location to another. You must move their businesses along with basic household goods and vehicles. And you must replace this population with another of like size. While you are doing this, criminals are trying to pick off easy targets and you must continue to keep them under control.


I was thinking about two things last night before I went to bed.

1. My co-worker's mother shook Hitler's hand. I'm amazed she even told me this story, because it's not often someone would admit something like that, but it's actually a knitting story. Her mother knitted boxes and boxes full of socks and hats for the German soldiers when they went into Russia, and when Hitler came to Munich, she and another woman presented him with the boxes. He shook her hand and thanked her for her service. Wow.

2. I was reading The Gulag Archipelago and thinking about Belarus. Do you ever have one of those moments where something clicks that you've never thought of before, and you can't imagine why it took you so long to put the pieces together? Solzhenitsyn spells it Byelorussia, which made me think of the German WeiBruss, which both include the word "white". I never noticed that in Belarus because the spelling was so off, but it seems so obvious now. Duh.

And is that where white Russians come from? Ha.

This book is really interesting. I dare anyone who thinks the Patriot Act is killing democracy to read this book, where the first person to stop clapping at a tribute to Comrade Stalin, after 11 minutes of straight clapping, was sent to the gulag. Or the woman who happened to walk past a truck full of bodies. Or the man who had doodled on a newspaper photo of Stalin. All of them gone.

Thursday, February 26, 2004


Iraq is not only dangerous and stressful; it also affects your personal life. From an article on military marriages via Tim:

At a recent "chaplain's brief," where the military tries to prepare its soldiers for reintegration to the world, the officer in charge cited Army statistics that indicated 30 percent of the spouses believe deployment harms their marriages. The Army's Judge Advocate General Corps statistics put the divorce rate among soldiers as comparable to the civilian rate about 50 percent.

Being deployed, then, obviously doesn't help. Scott DeFlippo said four soldiers in his unit alone are going through divorces during the deployment.

"I have a friend [another soldier] who married a German girl," DeFlippo said. "He went to Afghanistan, then here. His parents sent him a letter and said his wife had taken their two boys and gone back to Germany."

When we attended our Marriage Enrichment briefing, I was skeptical that anyone really would get divorced during the Iraq deployment. That is until I received a letter from a friend who has been in Iraq for seven weeks and has already had two of his soldiers get letters asking for divorces. Seven weeks. Out of 52+. That's a bad start.

David brings up an article in Germany about the suicide rate among soldiers. Unfortunately it's a fact of life, and I'd consider us lucky that only 22 servicemembers have succumbed to the stress and pressure of deployment. (But David reminds us that the servicemember suicide rate is still lower in Iraq than the rate of German Bundeswehr soldiers in Germany. And the civilian population in France.)

Our soldiers in Iraq have so much stress, both personal and family-related, and they all take this stress on in order to protect us civilians and make the world a better place. Bless them.


I read Tim's blog nearly every day, so I don't know how I missed this post from the weekend. He addresses the suicide rate with a simple reminder: the rate is quite low for a group carring loaded weapons at all times...


A laugh-out-loud mock interview with Lieutenant John Kerry.


I had planned on devoting this weekend to moving over to my new blog site, but this broken comments deal was the last straw. I can't wait to make the move now.

Reader Ruth emailed an interesting comment that makes sense to me:

I am sorry there is so much emotion being spent on this. I am not denigrating the emotion but it does make me sad. As I see it the real issue is judges making laws. Bush did say this should be put to a vote of the people. This is really the only way to have a national vote on any issues that are not elections per se. Unfortunately this issue came up in some very irrational ways, judges making law and mayors making law, and now even county clerks making law. Something has
to give, someone has to step up to the plate and be unpopular to stop the trend. We have a 3 part government but one of the parts is taking on more and more that it was originally given. I understand the real love that gays have for each other, that is there even if there is no liscense or a ceremony. I just wish it was not being made legal by
judicial fiat.

And blogger Rob Bernard says that Bush and Kerry want the same thing, but Bush is taking all the heat for it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004


I promised myself that I'd get in bed early tonight, which is easy since the comments are busted and I don't have anything new to read and digest. More tomorrow perhaps.


I've compiled quite a round-up of the Marriage Amendment below, but Amritas reminded me of something important. He dug up my old post on common ground (I swear he keeps better tabs on my posts than I do) that I read again. I also went to the Lileks link again, and I started thinking about common ground as it applies to this new amendment.

I've read just about everything everyone on my sidebar has to say about this new amendment. Suffice it to say that we vary in our opinions on it. Some of us are for it. Some of us are against it, but for a variety of reasons: not wanting to change the Constitution, not finding it necessary to change marriage for a small percentage of the population, not wanting the government to meddle in marriage, and so on. Our feelings today vary, but do we have common ground?

Here's my take on marriage: I just don't care much. If two people want to get married, I don't much care. I've tried to think about which marriages would bother me, and they're not the usual slippery-slope ones that people cite when you bring up gay marriage. I don't care if same-sex couples want to marry. I don't care if cousins want to marry. I don't care if two uninvolved business partners want to marry simply to join their assets. I don't care if three Mormons want to marry, as long as they're all fine with the arrangement. I would think it weird if someone wanted to marry his dog, but whatever. Dennis Rodman married himself, right? There are only two things I would like to see prevented. The first is some 40 year old marrying a 12 year old; thus I think there should be age limits. The second is green-card marriages, where people marry simply so one of them can become an American. I don't like that idea at all, but that's a personal opinion and I still don't want a constitutional amendment preventing it. Those are the only two marriages that I personally would oppose, but only the first one should be law.

So do you and I agree on this? Maybe not. I don't even agree with my mother on this issue, and she's the one I count on for politics since my husband left. But can we find common ground? Can we talk about why we think differently or why we disagree on the fundamentals of a marriage amendment without resorting to name-calling and bickering? I think we can. I think we bloggers can work through this.

Some have encouraged me not to throw in the towel based on something that's a drop in the pond compared to terrorism. I agree, but the Constitution is the bedrock of our society and the whole reason the terrorists hate us in the first place. We're free from the government control of our daily lives that they cling to in order to maintain a "pure" society (in their eyes).

At least we're supposed to be free from it. Today I'm not so sure.


Since the comments are busted, Bunker emailed me the following comment:

You are absolutely right about seeking common ground. Unfortunately, this is an issue that brings out the worst in all of us because of the emotion involved. That has to be stripped away to come to any clear conclusion, but some will not do that because emotion is all they have in defense.

We have to look at what marriage is. It is an emotional and spiritual commitment between two people. Period. Its legitimacy has sometimes been used for other reasons, as when a princess was married off to secure an alliance, or when someone has used it to acquire a green card. Both of those are political uses of a social contract. Neither is really marriage.

Civil unions are not marriage. It doesn't matter whether the couple are man and woman, or man and man. Marriage is not a civil issue. If it were, most marriages prior to the 20th century were void, and we are all bastard children. Prior to that, a couple wanting to get married visited their local priest, rabbi, or pastor, talked it over with him, and scheduled a ceremony to express their commitment in front of family and friends. Or, they simply held their own ceremony without any church involvement. Some simply lived together, which is where the concept of common-law marriage comes from. Culture dictated that these people were married. When you and your husband got married, you also included a ceremony for a civil union by signing your marriage license.

In my view, homosexual couples who commit themselves to one another through public ceremony are doing nothing more than what they are free to do, and what heterosexual couples do as well. Neither has a right to get married.

Unfortunately, government got involved. After all, there was money to be made by licensing marriage, and a level of cultural control. Once that happened, people began demanding restrictions on marriage such as age, race, and number of spouses. All these were codified rather than being dealt with within society and culture.

Then we got even more government involvement with inheritance, employer responsibilities, tax rates, etc. None of which was good. Sure, it did some good for certain individuals, but not for society overall. And that is what the Constitution was written to provide for, "the Common Good."

The issue is not whether gay couples can marry. They have already been doing it for years. What they want is government sanction of a civil union, something that will give them access to benefits provided by the government-benefits which are probably unconstitutional to begin with.

There is no need for an Amendment unless the government wants to define Civil Union. Government can't determine marriage because that institution exists in people's hearts.



I was afraid this day would come.

Andrew Sullivan is a British-born homosexual Catholic whose blog reflects this problematic triangle of beliefs. He's extremely intellectually honest and strives to adress homosexual issues not emotionally but logically. Today he says that his support for the President has always been about defending the Constitution from Muslim fanatics who want to destroy our freedoms. This war was the most important issue, even trumping the Republican party's uninclusive stance on homosexuality. However, all that has to be re-evaluated in light of this proposed new amendment, which is troubling since it seeks to constitutionally prevent freedoms. Sullivan has received scores of emails from homosexuals, heterosexuals, friends, and foes who are all concerned about the future of marriage in our country, in one way or another.

Personally, I don't think the US is ready for gay marriage. In time people might accept it, but I don't think 2004 is the right time. But I vehemently oppose amending the Constitution for this. Vehemently. I don't care what anyone thinks about homosexuals on an individual level; we should all be outraged that the President has proposed constitutionalizing oppression. And you all know I love this President. But at a time when fanatics in the world want to kill us because our society represents freedom and tolerance, we're considering preventing the possibility that someday Americans might be ready for homosexuals to marry? A constitutional amendment on marriage is a step backward in our nation's progress.

My husband said that if this issue ever came to the table he'd vote Libertarian in protest. Many of Sullivan's Republican readers have said they're reluctantly voting Democrat in protest. I don't know how many of us are out there who struggle with our vote based on this issue, but we exist and we have some serious thinking to do.


Beth also has more...colorful comments for the President.

RWN thinks that President Bush is doing the right thing and that the country is not split at all on this issue. He cites the stats of people who are opposed to gay marriage. Be that as it may, I will reiterate that this issue for me is not about marriage at all; if President Bush is personally against gay marriage, that's his business. But to amend the Constitution, a cherished document that we don't amend unless it's really necessary, for this issue is a mistake in my mind.

Judging from my comments section, I'm not doing a good job of expressing the fact that it's the constitutional part of this issue that bothers me, not the marriage part. So, when at a loss for words, I turn to The Best. I back his interpretation of this amendment.


Found this via Vodkapundit. Discount Blogger thinks it's a bad idea as well. One of his commenters, ben, makes an interesting point that hit home with me:

[Marriage is] Not a privilege. A right. And the best parallel we can draw here is with miscegnation laws. The majority of the country does not approve of gay marriage? The majority is wrong. Morally, as well as technically. I agree 100% with Stephen Green that the U.S. Constitution is designed to protect the minority from the majority.

In Pakistan, a majority of the population approves of the right of a male relative to murder his female relative if she has committed adultery or been the victim of rape. This is seen as a moral position, a cultural tradition with thousands of years of history, and supported by sacred religious texts.

In certain parts and provinces in Africa, a majority of the population approves of forced female circumcision.

In China, a majority of the population believes that girls do not have the same right to education as boys do.

In Vietnam, a majority of the population believes the country does not need more than one political party.

Opposition to gay marriage in the United States is based on cultural considerations, moral considerations, and religious considerations. I am enraged that my nation's Constitution should be used to record others' moral, cultural, or religious prejudices.

This was a huge mistake for President Bush. Kerry is unpopular on the left, and there are many Democrats who might otherwise stay home. But now these people would brave a chemical weapons attack to go to the polls and vote for Captain Kangaroo's mascot rather than George Bush. And how about the 1/4 of anti-gay marriage Americans who oppose a Constitutional amendment? Suppose this makes them happy?

Neither compassionate nor conservative. Makes me embarrassed to be a Republican.


My comments always disappear when I want to hear what readers have to say!
Email if you've got a comment.


Amritas wrote a lot and wrote it well. I can't even give you a sample because you should just read the whole thing.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004


I got a lot of flak a while back for a post I wrote on why I think Europe's overrated. If you read the comments section of Mike's post on American travel, you'll see that he too is taking a bit of flak. One commenter said:

You seem to have a nice life. Why do you have such a chip on your shoulder? That previous American exceptionalism post was a bit startling. I mean, look at it from the rest of the world's perspective. Here's an analogy. Say you have a neighborhood where there are some homeless people, some poor families, some middle class families, and some rich families. Then you have this huge estate. How do you think the other people in the neighborhood are going to view the estate people if they start telling their neighbors that they have this estate because of how exceptional they are. That they think they work harder, are more original, optimistic, whatever. It may be true but who the hell wants to hear it? I mean it's obvious how better off they are, why in the world would they want to cram it down other people's throat?

I hate to speak for Mike because I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I know that I personally have a "chip on my shoulder" because I see what's happening in this world and how the USA seems to be the only one (Coalition of the Willing too, they're cool) who wants to be part of the solution instead of the problem. In my eyes, the USA has done more recently for the future of our planet than Old Europe has, yet people continue to think that Europe is this magical place where everyone's so open, educated, and elite. Frankly I think that mindset sucks, because, as this commenter noted, many of them are hiding the fact that they know we're so much better off than they are. But tell that to the Americans I know who can't wait to leave the USA. I stand by Mike's post and the disdain he expresses for those who scoff at the USA.


Blueshift also writes about Mike's post.

Monday, February 23, 2004


My dad is a man of blunt wisdom, and he usually makes us laugh with his sayings. Last night on the phone he asked what I was doing. I said, "Nothing, just trying to cross another day of this year off my calendar." He came back with, "Well, it's just like eating an elephant: tackle it one bite at a time."

That's the best deployment advice possible.


Talk about irony..."An Armenian military officer attending a NATO Partnership for Peace program was hacked to death with an axe and a knife today by an Azerbaijani participant." (via Esotericus)

Dogs has a funny rant on voting.

And the Oriental Redneck posts some very unilateral photos from Iraq (via Baldilocks).


I take the Army very seriously. Perhaps to the extreme, but I think that there are some things that deserve respect and deference. I don't like when fashion trends include camouflage. I stopped my car in the middle of the road last week and rescued a house's flag that had fallen on the ground. I walked through the lines on the day of deployment and helped soldiers carry their duffels. I think our servicemembers and symbols deserve respect and honor. So when Vietnam veterans say that John Kerry didn't deserve any of his medals, it angers me.

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