A View From A Broad: Don’t Mess With The Kid

5 10 2004

Maybe my taste runs to the outrageous, to people who say what they mean the way they want to say it and let the chips fall where they may. A View From A Broad is exactly what the title implies, the views of a self-styled ‘broad’ who takes no shit–and no prisoners.

‘Ginmar’, a soldier serving in Iraq, is profane, witty, and profound by turns, sometimes all at once. She’s an unrepentant, uncompromising, unapologetic feminist, and proud of it. She rants, raves, sputters, snarls, snipes, and shivs many of her posts; she does not suffer fools gladly. Or at all. Instead, she makes them suffer, and is it ever fun to watch her do it.

(The following excerpts are all taken from the most recent page of AVFAB. Unfortunately, she’s at LiveJournal which doesn’t link separate posts. You’ll have to scroll down the page to find the rest of each entry, but that’s OK: on the way down you’ll find a lot of great stuff I can’t reprint.)

On the day her Top Sargeant had something to show her (a relatively mild one to begin with):

Sunday, October 3, 2004Top came and got me this morning and dragged me out into the courtyard. “Ginmar, cmere,” he said urgently.


“This is important. I gotta show you something.”

The something turned out to be a frog living near the pool. “Uh, yeah.” I looked at the frog. He looked at the frog. Then he looked at me significantly.

“It’s a frog,” he pointed out.

“I noticed that.”

“I’m afriad of frogs.”

So, to recap for those of you in the cheap seats, my 1st. Sgt., the cop from New Orleans, the guy who regularly does stupid and crazy shit and gets me to take his back while doing it, the guy who thrives in this environment, he’s afraid of an animal that weighs approximately two ounces and which makes politicians look attractive.

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A Plan for Handling the Milblogs

12 09 2004

Since CBFTW’s highly regarded (by me as well as others) blog MY WAR–Fear and Loathing in Iraq was shut down–by himself, it now appears–questions have been raised about how the military is handling milblogs. Are they being too heavy-handed? If OPSEC (Operational Security) is the issue, shouldn’t they just shut all the blogs down rather than take the risk of someone saying something that endangers troops or strategic goals? Eric Magnell, an Army lawyer stationed in Iraq, gives a pretty clear explanation of the difficulties at his blog, Dagger JAG.

[T]he information environment has changed so much and is so different than in any previous war or conflict. Here in Iraq we have access to so much new communications capabilities it really is mind-boggling when you think about it. When my father was in Vietnam he wrote letters and mailed home cassettes or reel to reel tapes to keep in touch with my mom and his family. Even thirteen years ago, during Desert Storm, the soldiers still wrote letters and had very, very few opportunities to call their families in the States. With these new capabilities come some very real concerns over operational security. Back in WWII they popularized the saying “loose lips sink ships” and they censored servicemembers letters back to the states. Now we have those same posters hanging in our internet cafes and above our phones. We know that our enemies are computer “savvy” and may have the ability to intercept emails or other communications over the internet. Every soldier has to be aware and concerned about saying or writing anything that could potentially give our enemies information. Even potentially innocent statements which, by themselves, mean nothing can provide intelligence for our opponents when matched with other innocuous open source information.

But OPSEC isn’t the only consideration. Yes, soldiers do lose some freedoms to say and do what they please when they enter the Army, but not all of them. And there is an irony for them in fighting a war to free the expression of a foreign people while at the same time having their own curtailed for sometimes mysterious reasons. ‘Combat Doc’ at Candle in the Dark sums it up this way:

The higher-ups have found that the unedited embedded reporter known as Joe is the best and the worst thing that has happened to this war. The best because if you’re like me you are all for this fight, others see things differently and voice it. The problem with speaking out is that you will be heard.

Some of the recent events have made me doubt their actions. When you silence a soldier who has done nothing out of reg’s you lend yourself to suspicion. Why are they silencing the voice of the people who can sell this war better than anybody. Again, as long as the soldier has violated no regulation, you’re golden. Has something been done that needs to be silenced, I doubt it. I think the highers feel the political preassure of Abu Gharib and Najaf bearing down so they fear any media coverage. It seems though as they don’t trust their own regulations to cover them.

The silencing of any humans voice, even when I can’t agree, will lead to the silencing of all dissenting opinions. Americans must show their openness to their own flaws and triumphs or else the lesson we are trying to teach and the peoples we are trying to free will, rightfully, tell us ALL to shut up and buy a black car.

(Thanks to CB for both those links.)

Finally, there is the issue I’ve already written about at length–the military’s need to control its image in the outside world.

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My War–Update 2

10 09 2004

CBFTW has another new post up, plus he has put back some of his archives–he calls it a Best Of–so we can re-read some of the old stuff we thought was lost (it wasn’t, thank god; just locked up). In the new post, ‘My War Continues…’, he says he won’t be writing his personal experiences any more and comes as close to telling us what happened as he can.

I am officially no longer writing about any of my personal experiences here in Iraq on this website.

For two reasons:

1.) For fear of any future punishment that could be handed down to me in regards to anything that I may write on this website that would prevent me from being with the members of my Platoon and doing the job that I love, which is being a Machine Gunner in the Infantry.

2.) Many Americans have fought and died for our Freedom of Speech, and I, personally, would prefer death over censorship of any form.

“The people keeping CB from posting are the same people that kept him from skating the Ralphs parking lot back in the day…

that is all you have to know about liberty and freedom, the politics of skateboarding”


Comment written by a reader

There’s also a rundown of links and media articles that mention either CB or his blog, and a couple of letters that readers sent him. Check it out.

In a day or so, I’m going to be posting a piece on how the military might conceivably handle the milblog issue based on suggestions that were sent to me by Chris Missick of A Line in the Sand. Chris is a milblogger who happens to specialize in communication, and I think his suggestions have merit–they could work.

See you then.

My War Update: New Post, Hurry Hurry Hurry!

6 09 2004

CBFTW has just published his first post since his blog, MY WAR–Fear and Loathing in Iraq, was shut down, whether by himself or his military superiors is unknown at this point. Yesterday, the LA Times mentioned his blog in an article about milblogs without quoting from it. Today, CB corrects that oversight in a new post that adds what the LAT should have included. But you have to hurry–he says the post will only be up for 24 hours and then it’s back to ‘Over and Out’. (Look for ‘Combat Jack’ at the bottom of the post.)

Update: My War, Over and Out

29 08 2004

Those of you who began reading this blog with my review of CBFTW’s My War–Fear and Loathing in Iraq (CBFTW is a Hunter Thompson fan) and got thoroughly hooked on it in the days and weeks afterward most likely already know this, but for those of you who may be tuning in late, My War has been shut down–maybe by CBFTW himself, but maybe by the Army, and for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. Ron Brynaert at Why Are We Back in Iraq? has done a nice job summarizing the story, some of which I didn’t know.

[O]ne day he posted a story which claimed that he just fought a battle with Al Qaeda…bad enough…but he also claimed (mostly based upon the word of one of his Commanding Officers) that the enemies were Al Qaeda that had come into Iraq from Iran.

That seems to have been the beginning of his difficulties (although Ron mentions that right-wing commenters had begun using My War as a platform for supporting the SGW and attacking anyone who didn’t or whose support was less than enthusiastic), though why it should have been is a mystery. The battle was reported in the press, as was the participation of AQ which came straight from official Army statements; C was merely repeating what we already knew. The Army also didn’t seem to have a problem with it since they left it up. They did, however, decide that from then on they wanted to see what he wrote before he posted it. And they wanted some changes.

The first noticable change was that the title was shortened to “My War.” I guess the Military don’t do irony. Then he started to become annoyed with the myriad of posters on his blog. He was trying to sanitize his site for the brass…but posters were copy-and-pasting and resubmitting some of his posts.

No, Ron, the military doesn’t do ‘irony’. They don’t know what it is but they’re pretty sure it must be a way of making fun of them.

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The Wooden O: Bard-Blogging

16 08 2004

Ever wonder what William Shakespeare would have to say about today’s world? No, me neither, but that’s an oversight that can be repaired with a single click. Through the miracle of cyberspace (which appears to have more dimensions than we thought), Master Shakespeare has returned to us–sort of–in the form of a disembodied voice at The Wooden O, his own personal blog.

I kid you not.

Will isn’t exactly a prolific blogger. There have been as few as two entries in a whole month, and long lags between them (as I write this, there hasn’t been a post since July 20–nearly a month). Yet what they lack in frequency, they make up in piquancy.

Master Will seems incredibly well-informed on current events, despite the excessive time he spends carousing at The Staggering Seraph–‘for those who would know, ’tis an inn on the borders of this world and the next, whither the best brewers of strong drink do repair on their death’–with the likes of Ben Jonson, Kit Marlowe, Larry Olivier, Peter Ustinov, and many other famous theatrical personages who have shuffled off this mortal coil. (As we shall see in a moment, Will is an inveterate and positively shameless name-dropper.) For instance, in ‘The Most Lamentable Comedy of King George II’, Master Will ruminates on what a fine–if dark–comedy Bush’s ascension to power would make.

[T]his same great fool of America maketh me much to wish that old Will Kempe were yet here to play him.Think on it, gentles: Bottom, in his dream, made an emperor! Or Dogberry, from police constable, become a great man, prince of a nation. Such a play I could make! Being no longer living, I need fear no Master of the Revels to stay me: but alas, being dead, my playmaking days are done.

Perchance it is for the best. For though this same Prince Shrublet is himself excellent matter for a comedy, yet ‘twould be a marvellous dark one, and some years must pass before the tragedies he hath wrought be not felt so near.

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Nonsense Verse: Very Little Verse But Some Inspired Nonsense

13 08 2004

Jennifer Balderama is a professional journalist on the business beat, but she’s also a real writer. Real writers are rarely satisfied with developing only a single aspect of their talent, which is why I assume this one created Nonsense Verse–to have a place to ply her comic skills. They don’t give you much chance to be funny in business journalism, and Jennifer is a very funny writer when she wants to be, although she is more likely to provoke sly, behind-the-hand chuckles of recognition than outright belly-laughs. Not that she won’t get those too, but Jennifer–or ‘J’, as she refers to herself–specializes in a kind of humor we might call ‘oblique’.

To get belly-laughs, you usually have to come straight at your reader, like Wodehouse or Fafblog. Jennifer doesn’t often do that. Her humor comes more from the odd angle, the surprising POV. It’s almost like she’s sneaking up on it–and you–from behind some trees, and if she doesn’t play it soft she’ll scare you both away. That approach requires a lot of understatement, and understatement is usually the enemy of B-L’s. B-L’s come from slapstick, from overstatement (but not too over–a fine line), from direct confrontation. Jennifer’s style is not to confront but to slip up on her subject when it’s not looking. Like this:

That’s ‘The Boy’, as Jennifer unfailingly refers to her Significant Other, caught at a moment he would probably rather not have been. There you have a graphic depiction of Jennifer’s thang–Do what they’re not expecting, and do it when they’re not expecting it. In the matter of the cicadas, for instance. Read the rest of this entry »