By Ali Elizabeth | February 26, 2009
I might have just gone nuts in the alliteration department, but I am ticked, so please just consider the overuse of the letter ’s’ in the title as cathartic rather than tedious, would you? I am booing and hissing at something that at least could be considered poor form and at worse something much more sinister.
Recently Rolling Stone published a piece that is so vile that it stretches my committment to the concept of freedom of expression. Of course the primary target is our former president, George W. Bush. (Love him or hate him, at least we Americans were absolutely sure that he was constitutionally qualified to sit in the Oval Office, which is more than I can say for the current guy, but I digress.)
But when they attack people that you know and love personally, people that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt to be honorable, gentle, loving, and truthful, then a new stretching occurs, and that is to love my enemies. But before I bloviate any further re: enemies, let me tell you about my friends.
Most of you know that Bobby Schindler, Terri Schiavo’s brother, wrote the foreword for my book. As a result of doing research for the chapter entitled Stetsons for Terri Schiavo, as well as being a guest on their radio show America’s Lifeline, the Schindlers have become very dear to me. The media and Death Culture portrayal of them and their quest to save their darling Terri from being starved and dehydrated to death against her will has sickened me, our soldiers, Iraqis, and Americans, and the Rolling Stone article is no exception. They are indeed a remarkable family, in my view, a national treasure.
Bobby told me today that hardly anything shocks him any more when it comes to the things said about Terri and their family, but that he’d be lying if he said that what I am about to share with you didn’t bother him.
Rolling Stone did a mock and mocking interview with George Bush wherein a reporter asks why President Bush made “such a big deal out of intervening in the whole Terri Schiavo thing? I won’t quote the gross sexual stuff attributed to Karl Rove, but what I do have to quote is disturbing enough. The premise was that it was to improve ratings and approval levels. The result was supposedly a Bush White House dream come true.
“So sure enough, (Bush speaking) we’re watching TV later that night, and CNN just has her and her drooling-ass, doped-up smile on this endless loop. Karl is literally jumping up and down with excitement at the sight of her. “She’s the best thing since Old Yeller,” he’s saying. “I want to see every liberal in the counrtry on Larry King campaigning to yank her feeing tube. Get Ben Affleck on there, Sean Penn. Show them side by side with her looking fat and helpless with those dead-fish eyes of hers, split-screen. She’ll get us 10,000 votes an hour.”
The “best thing since Old Yeller?” Old Yeller was a beloved dog who was put down with one reluctantly fired heartbreaking shot because he had become rabid in the process of protecting his family from an infected wolf. Would to God that Terri’s death could have been that merciful. She had blood pooling in her eyes from what her body was going through. Her “husband’s” lawyer said he’d never seen her “look so beautiful.”
“Drooling ass, doped up smile, dead fish eyes of hers?”
Go to www.terrisfight.org and click on the videos of the woman erroneously described by the media as “brain dead” and viciously by Rolling Stone as “doped up” with “dead fish eyes.” If that is what you see, I pity the death that has already overtaken you. Terri, the full person disrespectfully referred to by lawyer George Felos as a “houseplant” was so sweetly full of life and love that her last act was to hug her mother, and sob. She had one tear left and she spent it on her mother.
Go ahead, if you have the courage to consider an opposing view to the Stone. But be forewarned: you might have to come to the place where you conclude that she was executed on our watch for being in the way, and that some day it could be you if you don’t speak up or out.
By Ali Elizabeth | February 18, 2009
This is the second time in 5 years that I have had to sort through the horror of the beheading of a lovely woman whose last name was Hassan. The first time was when I was in Iraq and Margaret Hassan, the Baghdad director of CARE, (as in relief organization) was abducted by the muj, paraded on Al-Jazeera, shot, and then later a beheaded, disemboweled female body was found in Baghdad that was commonly assumed to be hers. For obvious reasons no CSI team could identify her, and to my knowledge a positive ID of any sort has never been made on those remains. Her death angered Iraqis, Muslim and “infidel” alike. I discuss her death at length in the chapter of my book, A Ballad for Baghdad:An Ex Hippie Chick Viet Nam War Protester’s Three Years in Iraq. Margaret’s chapter is called “A Tale of Two Hostages.”
This week another woman named Hassan has met a violent end with a “sword,” but it happened on American soil. This time her first name was Aasiya, and she was stunningly beautiful. She was in her mid ’30s, from Pakistan, and married to a monster named Muzzammil. The Hassans are originally from Pakistan, and Muzzammil is a television executive in New York State. Aasiya had filed for divorce on 06 Feb 08, and had also filed a restraining order after several documented instances of battering at the hands of the maniacal Mr. M. Thankfully he is behind bars.
The thing that is particularly bizarre about this situation is that Muzzammil was the founder of Bridges TV, a media outlet whose sole purpose was to break the stereotypes that Americans have of Muslims, casting them in a more culture-friendly and amiable light. Me thinks, however, that this is not what Dale Carnegie had in mind when he wrote “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” and I am curious as to how Bridges will do damage control now that their founder has behaved in a most stereotypical fashion.
By all accounts this looks like an honor killing, and they are on the rise in the good ol’ U S of A. The Said sisters, two teenagers who were killed by their father on New Year’s Day of ‘08 shocked us. Their father remains at large. Sandala Kanwal of Jonesboro, GA was killed last summer by her father, Chaudry Rashid, when she announced that she wanted out of her arranged marriage. He truly believes that he has done nothing wrong. There are others–a doctor in Michigan who first beheaded his wife and then chopped her up in little pieces. As far back as 1989, in St Louis, there was a particularly gruesome situation where Palestina Isa was killed by her father Zein who used a knife with a nine inch blade, and her mother held her down so he could do the deed. Her offense was to go to a dance and get a job at Wendy’s. To add to the horror of the Said and Isa murders, the girls’ 911 call was recorded, and the FBI had bugged Zein’s house, investigating possible links to terrorists. Palestina’s death is captured on FBI tape, and I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have been on the other end of the line.
Per usual there was the hand-wringing meshed with spineless “tolerance.” I have come to expect this. But there is a strange silence from a group that is world famous for being shrill when it comes to women’s rights, and that’s the odd creature known as the American feminist. I used to be one of said creatures, and God knows I was shrill. Some might even still think of me as odd, nonetheless I want to know some things. Why aren’t the members of the Boston Women’s Collective taking to the streets with a new updated version of their banner crying out to “Keep Your Laws Off of My Body?” Why isn’t Code Pink, that fearless group of feministas in Bezerkley that has their own parking spot in front of the Marine Recruiting station (so they can harrass the recruiters) up in arms over this? Why are the feminists looking the other way?
I would think that a movement whose leaders admit that it has lost traction, impact, credibility and focus might seize upon these killings to be the means to reinvent themselves and regain compromised cultural clout. Where is the outrage? Where is the outcry? And for those of us who aren’t female or feminista, what has happened to us that we think we have to somehow be sensitive to the decrees of clerics that violate our Constitution in no uncertain terms?
I have a friend in Iraq who is an interpreter, and she is secretly a Christian. She has not told her family yet. She has a brother who claims to believe that “everyone should choose their own way,” and a father who died before she told him of her new found faith. I have never asked her if she fears honor killing, and now I wonder if she ever comes to the States, (which is her dream,) that she’ll be assured that she can practice her faith without fear from American Muslims who would brand her as the worst possible type of infidel. There is one thing that comforts me, though. If any of the guys who kept us safe in Iraq get wind that she’s here, they’ll give their lives for her in a heartbeat, in uniform or out, because that is just who they are. They would be the Enforcers when it comes to “Keep Your Laws Off Her Body,” and they would no doubt insert some salty adjectives with respect to those so-called “Laws.”They, like no other group of human beings I have ever known, understand the meaning of the word “Honor,” and they would indeed allow themselves to be killed to keep her and me safe. That’s the only type of “honor killing” that Americans should ever defend.
By Ali Elizabeth | February 5, 2009
I have been basking for several months now in the warm reception people have given A Ballad for Baghdad. It’s been written up in papers, I have done some public speaking and singing, have been on the radio and stand to receive my first royalty check coming up here pretty soon. It’s been a wild ride at times, and will no doubt continue to be so.
Several folks have said that they couldn’t put the book down. And while I am gratified by peoples’ support, I knew that if all I got was warm fuzzys (or should I say fuzzies?) Ballad wasn’t doing it’s job. Then BAMM!! Two in one day on Facebook! Yeehaw!! As the group discussion board was a large one, they have monitors that observe the cyber version of the scoop law and get non-family friendly stuff off of there pretty quickly, so I didn’t get a chance to reply.
The Facebook bio picture of the really hostile fellow literally was wild-eyed Sunni jihadism at it’s finest, either that or the guy just picked this face as a cariacture. He was not at all happy with me for mentioning that Saddam was exposed to the Gospel in a most hilarious fashion about a year before his execution.
The other guy by comparison was just kind of a smarty pants, and his objection was to the fact that Muslims are having dreams and visions of Jesus so commonly that it is spoken of in the culture. “Have you had your Isa dream yet?” is not as crazy of a question as one might think. Neither fellow expressed any pleasure with what was called my “infidel gospel.”
Truth be told, in Africa alone, it is estimated by Al-Jazeera that 16,000 Muslims per day are becoming Christians, and the two moderators of the show segment I watched recently were decrying that fact they were losing their nation. Strange, that the idea of folks being loved in a way they never have been before causes such dismay.What was even more interesting is that toward the end they showed a clip of a woman who is a personal acquaintance upon whom they blame much of this defection, and she is one of my heroes. Her name is Heidi Baker. I have been a recepient of what are affectionately known as “Heidi Hugs,” and they are indeed powerful manifestations of God’s love.
Tonight I am going to hear some folks speak who go to Israel two times a year to help Israeli farmers with their grape harvest, and they invite people to come help. One of the kids from our fellowship leaves with them in about 10 days, and he’ll be not at all far from Lebanon. The risk is high, but he simply wants to show to show love and support to people whose idea of a Christian ends up with getting your forearm tattooed with an ID number, that is, if you survive. I have asked him to please tuck me into his suitcase, which he of course has declined. Someday, though, God willing, I’ll be joining these guys.
Showing love, taking risks, giving hugs, speaking up–all of these private acts of bravery are what throng our planet with unsung heroes. And this I know, their love will always cause “hate mail” to go straight to the spam file.
By Ali Elizabeth | January 31, 2009
My title is in quotes because it is the recorded sentiment of Prime Minister Maliki who, along with millions of fellow citizens, once again defied the nay-sayers and voted, signifying courage with a purple-dyed pointer finger, dipped in a pot of color to prevent padding the polls. Just as in the three elections for which I was privileged to be present in Baghdad, the passion to choose the direction of one’s country’s policies and leaders burns on in my cherished Iraq.
One frail elderly man walked about two miles to the polls with his son, who provided a chair for him to sit down and rest every few feet. He said, “I will wait here until the night. I must vote before I die.”
I must vote before I die. There are no words to describe what it is like to be amongst such people. I tried with all my heart to describe this fierce committment to freedom in my book, A Ballad for Baghdad: An Ex-Hippie Chick Viet Nam War Protester’s Three Years in Iraq. I reckon how well I succeeded is going to be in the mind of the reader. But I can tell you this: whenever I get saddened with my own country’s choices of leadership I am reminded that it is indeed failure that can inspire people to “get after it” again.
I was on Instant Message the other day with “W,” a female interpreter who attended our on base church near Baghdad International Airport. Born and raised in a strict Muslim family, she had become a Christian and befriended many of us. She joyously told me she was going to come to visit here in the States in March. To say I am excited about seeing her is an understatement. Here is a woman who put her life on the line every day so her country could be free. However, part of me squirmed inside when I thought of what she might encounter in the States. Iraq is coming out of decades of socialism, and we are heading straight into it.
Iraq has sheiks who have defied centuries of division, and along with Marines started the Anwar Awakening, with tribes coming together for the first time to craft a free Iraq. American lawmakers want to defy basic economic operating principles and reward greed yet again. I could go on with a list of comparisons as to how this infant Iraq seems to be exercising more wisdom than her American counterpart, and I am sure there will be many things that shock “W” when she gets here.
But what I do know she will encounter is something that she lived with in her country: people who refuse to give up when they were in the seemingly weak and undisputed minority. I know she’ll find people who are weeping over America just as she has wept over Iraq. And I believe that as our tears mingle, solid answers in a shaky time will emerge. I look forward to our adventures, and the answers to many prayers for true freedom and pure deliverance from those who make and love lies.
By Ali Elizabeth | November 20, 2008
I have had a fascinating, horrifying, exhilarating two weeks. I flew into Chicago’s O’Hare airport on the morning after the election feeling like I was in the Twilight Zone.
All around me were festive Obama celebrants, high fiving each other, sporting all manner of pins, hats and shirts, and sending congrats via our bevy of techno toys.
The major rags that are still hanging on despite circulation losses that mimic other realms of our national fiscal distresses waxed worshipful: The Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun Times as well as the NY Times had gone far beyond “Second-Coming-type-above-the-fold” placement on the front page. The POTUS-elect was the front page. From a historical viewpoint, I can understand this.
I checked my email at an airport kiosk, and already alarm was pouring in from my soldier kids and military family. Believe me, they get it when someone is in their corner, and they know that the man who made history and shattered a barrier that needed to be to be shattered, isn’t.
I spoke with a soldier on his way back to Afghanistan, and his dismay was palpable. I went on to Los Angeles for a speaker’s conference where I was working, came home to sing and speak to a group of Wounded Warriors on Veteran’s day, and managed to take a very small, admittedly anecdotal survey of soldiers from three branches who had either served at or were familiar with the mission of “XYZ,” the restricted access/Navy SEALS/Delta/Rangers/Iraqi Special Forces base where I worked for 16 months.
“Tell me, knowing what you now know, or more importantly what you don’t know, would you allow our president-elect onto XYZ?”
I got answers that ranged from “I don’t know about that,” personal Armyspeak for “I don’t EVEN want to go there,” to a detailed list of requirements as to “who was making the request, who the escort would be, what the scope of access would be,” and then, a faint ”perhaps,” to two resounding “Oh, He_ _ no!!”
Now I know that snopes published an article dated 26 October that says BHO would have no problem getting the necessary clearance to be POTUS, according to three security background experts. I am just saying that guys in Iraq whose lives were on the line so that my life wasn’t on the line don’t agree with the experts. My money is on them.
And now, for the coup de grace in the Weirdness Department: I actually feel sorry for Ted Kennedy. The guy who swam away from Mary Jo now has to have for a boss a guy whose friend wrote a book dedicated to Sirhan Sirhan, Ted’s brother’s murderer. And Caroline, who helped pick Joe Biden for VP, faces the same discomfort, except that the murder victim was her uncle. In addition, Mr. Ayers recently said that he wants prisons abolished, which would put Sirhan back on the streets. Now that is weird.
No doubt we are in for harder times than I feel most folks are prepared for on a number of fronts. However, the thought that came my way this morning while journaling, and seemed providentially comforting was this: “the best times are coming in a hard package.” OK, then. Time to get wholly strong enough to unwrap the package completely and share its contents with anyone who is famished. If it is indeed providential, there’ll be plenty to go around.
By Ali Elizabeth | September 12, 2008
I realize this is a slightly oblique title for a post, but I promise to pull it all together and hopefully have it make sense, so please stick with me.
9/11–Who can forget where they were and how they felt when they heard that a second attack on the Twin Towers as well as the Pentagon had been successful, ie, thousands of innocent people were dead? The blind sheik and Osama got their wish, and so did Bill Ayers: unarmed non-combatants (read that fascist imperialistic infidel pigs) died painfully for their country’s supposed sins. Todd Beamer and crew made the ultimate sacrifice and prevented futher carnage, and for a brief time, we were awake as a nation. My sister who lives in Manhattan and her daughter were walking that day toward the subway. They heard the first plane go in and saw the second plane hit the second tower. Just hearing on the phone the sound of her voice a little later that morning and have her say “I’m alright, I gotta go, Caitlin’s calling” remains a memory that brings me to tears. That and the fact that while in Iraq I got to know a New York National Guard with the Fighting 69th who was actually on duty near her loft protecting her and her family during the the weeks that followed makes 9/11 even more poignant to me.
It is now seven years later, and most folks have gone back to business as usual. In a way, that can be a good thing, and in another, it could be disasterous. We are in the middle of a truly historic presidential campaign season that will end with a number of firsts. We’ll either have the first president of African descent, or the only president to survive terrorism as it was uniquely dished out in the Hanoi Hilton and a female vice-president who can and does bag her own moose, most likely sporting a lovely color of lipstick while she does so.
In the past two weeks, Governor Sarah Palin, who prefers to be simply called “Sarah” has landed on our national stage after flying in her Piper Cub. The Piper confidently wafted along sturdy, crisp, clear Alaskan wind currents. Am I referring to a literal Piper Cub airplane? No, I am referring to First Dude (husband Todd) and Sarah’s little girl, Piper, one of five precious children.
Piper reminds me of CS Lewis’s character Lucy, played by young charmer Georgie Henley in Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, one of my favorite films. I suspect that Piper possesses the same pluck and passion for fairness. While watching little Piper at the Convention, her now famous action of wetting her fingers and smoothing her infant brother Trig’s hair remain forever a part of the Palin phenomenon, and just may serve to help us return as a nation to a culture of life.
Piper, in a completely innocent, loving, normal act that in any other circumstance would not have particularly pulled upon our cultural heartstrings, served to potentially slaughter 40 years of pro-death dogma. Her wet, sisterly caress demonstrated that she believes that Trig is a person of value, irrespective of a chromosomal anomaly that has labeled him as a Down’s Syndrome baby. No PR person, spin doc or producer could have crafted that moment. It was as genuine as they come, and, I suspect, shall prove to be unspeakably powerful.
On the other hand, Todd and Sarah’s choice to have Trig instead of cut him up into pieces or suck his brains out has been met with a level of slander and cynicism that is shocking, even in an election season. In what may turn out to be a back handed compliment it was stated by a former Southern DNC poobah that seemingly Sarah’s ”only qualification to be vice-president was that she hadn’t had an abortion.” That along with the US magazine’s cover story that implied that Trig is actually Bristol Palin’s child is sheer madness, and me thinks it will come back and bite them in the botay.
Why this craziness? Fear. Matt Damon is scared. He’s afraid Sarah might have considered the idea that intelligent design just might be good science, a concept shared by thousands of credible scientific folks with PhDs. She has never said, one way or another what she believes, but apparently the unknown is terrifying to the likes of Mr. D. He’s scared that she has “made it this far,” and that she might one day have the launch codes for nukes, as if being a creationist is tantamount to all-encompassing mental cretinism. News flash, bud. She already has been staring down the Russian bear on a daily basis as part of her job as Commander in Chief of the Alaskan National Guard, as Alaska is our first line of defense against any Soviet attack, and the AK NG is never on anything but active duty, 24/7. She and they have been keeping you safe while you slam her willingness to think and live outside your box.
But back to Piper. Here she is, on a previous program filmed happily hopping off a school bus with a friend outside her mom’s office, greeted by her mom, and presumbably going up to play quietly while her mom battles corruption in the same room. If this isn’t role modeling for young women, I don’t know what is, all achieved without man-bashing. Perhaps one day Piper will be like John Adams, who as a homeschooler of 14, was chosen to travel to France as America’s Ambassador, and went on to found the country and eventually run it. It could happen!
This 9/11 I almost feel sorry for Joe Biden. He’s not famous for being prudent with his words, but he has now become, as far as I know, the first vice-presidential candidate who feels his boss isn’t ready for the job, and that someone else is possibly better suited for his (Joe’s) job. I wonder if he is trying to get himself fired? If so, I imagine little Piper would comfort his heart and maybe even enlighten him a bit. After all, someone wiser than I promised that there would be a time when “a little child shall lead them.” Perhaps that time is now.
By Ali Elizabeth | September 2, 2008
The Democratic National Convention just wrapped up,the Republican Convention begins tonight and I am going to shock all of you with what I am about to say: we as Americans have much to celebrate. What?? You might be sorely tempted after a statement like that to ask if I have just tossed back a quart of Pollyanna-flavored Kool Aid. Pollyanna, as you might remember, changed a town by playing “The Glad Game,” a dogged committment to finding things to be glad about in the midst of distressing circumstances.
But really, we do. As I mentioned in a previous post, 50 years ago in my state of Alabama folks were in an uproar over where dark-skinned folks should sit on a city bus, and these days the proof of how far we’ve come is that if we don’t agree that Obama is the best choice for President, it’s a no-brainer that it is because of his politics and all the weaknesses as a leader that continue to unfold, and not his skin’s melanin content. I also have made it clear that I am not jumping up and down over the prospect of there being a President McCain. (Now Mrs. Sarah not-at-all-Planen and Tall, there is something to be jazzed about, and she’ll be the topic of my next post.)
That being said, there is a statement that was made by Joe Biden at the convention that I just can’t let go, and it stems from my experience living for three years in a combat zone. Mr. Biden will always be remembered as the VP choice who said that the guy who would be his boss is not ready for the job, and rightly so.
And, as a side note, Mrs. Clinton, who before her fascinating ”endorse Obama” speech is the one who was nearly shrewish a while back in confronting Mr. Obama over his relationship with “slum landlord” Tony Rezko. Can you imagine the prospects of a company’s success if this happened in the corporate world? I won’t go down that rabbit trail.
The statement made at the DNC (and between Joe B. and Bill Clinton there were several doozies-) that hacked me off enough to launch into therapeutic blogging was this: “These times require more than a good soldier, they require a good leader.”
I am forty years older since the DNC convention which I watched with much rebellious passion. In my book (which will be out in November,) I mention my response in ‘68 to the riots, and it is considerably different than how I feel now.
I never thought I’d say this, but for my money, I believe most soldiers would make better legislative leaders than most politicians. Why? Because of their training and experience. (John Murtha is the notable exception here. He does not deserve the distinction of being a former Marine, as there is little that is “always faithful” about him.)
I don’t know of any career track where en masse the power of leadership and the encouragement of exercising that power responsibly is what employees of all levels eat for breakfast lunch and dinner. It’s on the posters in the Dfac, it’s on the AFN TV spots, it is the continual reminder to do what’s right no matter the cost.
I have seen soldiers that I believe have no business leading themselves, let alone anyone else. Thankfully they are in the nearly non-existant minority. But truly, if there was one thing that three years in Baghdad demonstrated to me, it is this: the fact that we have soldiers who have been in Iraq and Afghanistan and may eventually run for office (as is former SSG David Bellavia, author of House to House, which is about the ‘04 Fallujah campaign,) gives me great hope. Why? Because danger both develops and displays leadership, and we are in greater danger than most folks realize.
Give me the ‘Nam vet geezer with the sharp and gorgeous NRA member guv-babe over the manchild and the Veep-geeze any day.
By Ali Elizabeth | August 23, 2008
The purpose of the Ballad for Baghdad blog really is not political, although at first glance one might think so due to the fact that current events are routinely discussed therein. The blog and the book seek to be a rejoinder of the questions, concepts and issues that transcend politics and go straight to the heart and role of timeless human struggles-gratitude, truth, forgiveness, leadership, character, compassion, strength and sacrifice.
That being said, I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t register both my horror and relief at Mr. Obama’s (hereafter to be referred to as The Wizard of Uhs,) pitiful performance at Saddleback Church. Horror because someone who is so vacuous when it comes to values is eye-balling the White House, and relieved that his core is being exposed to the point that some of his supporters now have been said to be suffering from “buyer’s remorse.”
This is the guy who on Father’s Day said (in an attempt to get deadbeat men to step up to the parent plate,) that ”fatherhood doesn’t end at conception.” OK, so if we use an old algebra rule that states if a=b, and b=c, then a=c, then if conversely stated fatherhood begins at conception, and one cannot be a biological father without setting in motion that which creates life, then life must begin at conception.
However, at Saddleback the question posed to both candidates was more clever. “At what point should a human being get human rights?” The Wizard fumbled and bumbled and finally stated that it was “above [his] paygrade.”
It seems to me that if the Ivy League-trained constitutional law professor were duking it out in the court room, he’d have to attack his own credibility on the witness stand by saying, “Isn’t it true, Mr. Obama that you stated,”Fatherhood doesn’t end at conception?” “Doesn’t that demand, sir, that therefore life also begins at conception, along with fatherhood?” But then, this is the man that wouldn’t want his girls “punished with a baby.” Last I checked, babies were a blessing, not a punishment. I just wish you wouldn’t try to dazzle us with the wizardry of your nuance-ness (or is it nonsense?) and give us a straight answer for once.
By contrast, Mr. McCain answered the Saddleback question with clear resolve and a strong voice, “at the moment of conception.” What a relief, and I am not in any way a McCainiac, although I really like Cindy. (Can a guy choose his wife for his running mate? She’s got more experience, smarts and guts than the Wizard, me thinks.)
Lest I come off as cruel or intolerant re: the “Uh” factor (that in one speech constituted nearly 8 minutes of a 40 minute address,) I want to make something “perfectly clear,” in the words of a former President who wanted us to believe that he wasn’t a crook.
Brilliant, effective, principled people can and do stutter and verbally fumble when put on the spot, and I have plenty of room for that. Good statesmen may not be good orators, but good orators, if they are going to be staring down the barrel of a potentially atomic Iran, need to be good statesmen. Without a teleprompter, the Wizard is neither.
And now, in this latest episode of the Demo-drama, the Wizard has chosen Senator Joe Biden as his running mate. Joe Biden brings substance to the table, to be sure. He might be able to do Barry’s punching for him in a street fight.
But how weird must it be for the Wizard to know that his running mate doesn’t think he has enough experience for the job? Biden has 35 years experience in the Senate, even more than McCain, and the community-organizer-who-would-be-king’s tenure can still be described in terms of far fewer months than a car lease.
So, now we have a supposedly professing Christian community organizer, who has garnered the support of all our enemies including that of Lybia’s Muammar al-Gaddafi because the Muslim world believes the Wizard is a Muslim, who can’t say when life begins, or when a surge works, who regrets trying to save Terri Schiavo’s life, who voted against the Born Alive act, and who is now scrambling to prove he is in fact an American citizen, thereby qualifying him to run for President.
The Wizard is teaming up with a Catholic who believes it is ok to kill the pre-born, doesn’t think his future boss is ready for the job, does think his future boss is clean, good-looking and bright, and the Clintons are dominating the Demo Convention next week under the shadow of the “Recreate ‘68″ folks. I wonder if the Clinton lot knows something?
This would be worth buying the large bucket of popcorn and going back for the refill, if it weren’t an FX demo of how much trouble our nation and culture are in.
By Ali Elizabeth | June 23, 2008
I suppose that I am as ambivalent as any other American about what is going on in this election cycle, and I doubt I have anything all that profound to add to the bevy of pithy or peppery comments that go with the territory of a presidential campagin season. However, I feel I would be remiss if I did not register my dismay over the potential presidency of the marginally occupied suit named Barack Hussein Obama, and the danger I believe he poses especially to the unborn, the disabled, and to the strongest amongst us, the soldiers.
It pains me, as someone who grew up actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement, (and whose life was threatened for doing so,) to have to be so passionate about keeping this man out of the White House. I will say this, one of America’s beauties is that in my lifetime, we as a nation have gone from wondering where people of African descent should sit on a bus, to having a serious contender for the Presidency come from a people group that was once considered inventoried property. This is amazing progress, and proof of the self-correcting nature of our grand constitutional experiment. I just wish it were Rice, Watt, Steele, Keyes, almost anybody but this mystery man who has less than no substance and who chooses to not salute the flag.
I have earned the right to call that last choice into question, as nearly 40 years ago I did the same thing as president. Nothing as fancy, mind you, as being POTUS (President of the United States,) but I was elected Associated Student Body President at my high school, and refused to salute the flag at school assemblies and functions. I know that one. I cannot say what is going on in his heart, I can only say what was going on in mine: in that day I hated my country, I hated white people, I hated soldiers and I loved the prospect of America becoming socialist. Clearly I don’t feel that way any more.
I also have to raise the question that if your supporters weighing in from around the world are your nation’s sworn enemies, then just what is it that Syria, Hamas, Ahmedinejad, Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong Il, (The Dear Leader, as he loves to be called by his adoring North Koreans,) and Castro hope will happen if they get their wish and Obama gets elected?
To top it off, today the American Communist Party threw their hat in the Obama ring, and the New Black Panther Party has been a long standing supporter. Back in my day, the original Black Panther Party had their own candidate for President, Eldridge Cleaver, and would have considered Barack a complete Uncle Tom for running on the Democratic ticket. My my, how we have mellowed. I guess the old “Peace and Freedom Party” had more moxie.
I could go on a rant, and just might yet, but I need to ask one question: why does Barack want to attack Pakistan? This was one of his first gaffes made while I was still in Iraq and before he was being taken very seriously as Presidential material. I can only imagine the “jets” that the State Department had to “scramble” to assure Pakistan that this man was not to be substantively regarded.
Perhaps he was working the “controversy sells” angle, I don’t know. But hear me, anyone who states that he wants to attack an ally, and not just any ally but one that is both Muslim and has nukes, but is willing to have face time with Mahmoud the Rude Ahmedinejad without any preconditions straight up scares me.
It is not that I am wild about McCain. He has two, and really only two things going for him from my perspective: he wants to protect babies and he “gets it” about Iraq and the soldiers. I won’t be voting as much for McCain as I will be voting against Obama. Man, does that ever hurt.
By Ali Elizabeth | June 10, 2008
If you have pushed your cart down the cyber-aisles of A Ballad for Baghdad you have observed that much of the ”available fare”in my little shop is gratitude, gratitude for my country, my freedoms and the people who have sacrificed on any level for our country.
The pain of writing the book was at times substantial for a number of reasons. Knowing the amazing things that the Iraqis and the Coalition had accomplished in a remarkably short amount of time, and seeing their feats either vilified, marginalized or ignored made me hurt for them.
Knowing that once upon a time I myself would have been a passionate vilifier, marginalizer or ignorer, and in a “former life” had hurt vets by my arrogance was painful, and oddly, even recalling their amazing forgiveness held forth toward me while we were comrades in a combat zone smarted as it healed. I think that true repentance is one of those “hurts so good” things, and it is nigh unto impossible to explain its ultimate fruit of joy to those who have never experienced it.
There are several fine people who are endorsing the book, and I knew that I needed to have an unsung hero from the Vietnam war amongst them. My dear friend Loren Krenelka was the perfect choice for a number of reasons. First, I know him and his story well, and second, I know him to be a man of uncommon integrity. He walks his walk, and would only endorse the book if he honestly felt that it deserved it.
I met him when I was 12 and began to know him as a friend when I was 18, as we both attended the same theological school many moons ago.
About 18 years ago we took a walk out on his acreage while his wife Linda, an outstanding educator, was giving my children their annual assessments as prescribed by the Washington State homeschool law.
We talked about Vietnam, and there on that field I saw a pain in my friend’s face that I am sure has surfaced thousands of times on vet faces of that era all across our land. The pain had to do with feeling abandoned and betrayed by both the government as well as the people of America. Either betrayal is tough enough for a vet, but both of them together are completely inexcusable and immeasurable in their damage.
At that time I did not have a full picture of just what I had done to guys like my friend. I didn’t get that picture until I lived in Iraq and saw them in action, and knew that while I could never go back and undo what I had done in ignorance, now that I knew who they really were, I was responsible to tell their story.
Loren recently sent me the text for his endorsement, and I hope that the publisher, Morgan James out of New York will let me use all of it. It seems that I had caused him pain again, by having to revisit some things that he had stuffed down for decades. But at least this time I could say that I had caused him a healing pain, one that, like mine, “hurt so good.” He was sad that there had been no MWR “angels” in ‘Nam, and glad that now there was so much more available to his younger fellow soldiers.
Loren Krenelka is what I call a “vetted vet.”
“Vetting” by definition has to do with a process of examining and evaluating, often in connection with potential employment, and once upon a time before we became friends, I came to a completely erroneous conclusion regarding his season as an intel NCO in service to our country. I glibly quipped in all my pride, “Military intelligence is a contradiction of terms.” Then in the early ’70s I met Loren again along with other soldiers and officers and began to see how wrong I had been.
He and thousands like him are “vetted” because they have gone on and loved our country in spite of people like me. They passed the test. They have been “examined and evaluated,” and this time, because of their mostly younger “brothers and sisters,” in Operation Iraqi Freedom, I came up with a completely different conclusion, one to which I’ll passionately cling for the rest of my life.
I only hope that as the soon-to-be-experienced whirlwind season of book tours unfolds, I will have the chance to look into the eyes of multitudes of Lorens while signing their copies of A Ballad for Baghdad and say, “I am sorry I’m late. I got lost 40 years ago on the way here, but a soldier like yourself stopped and gave me directions.”