Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Requiescat, part two.

We learned with much sadness a few days ago that PFC Brandon Buttry, a native of Shenandoah, Iowa, was killed on the mean streets of Kandahar province in Afghanistan not long ago. It's hard to write this, as we here feel a personal connection to the war-Jay has deployed twice and it looks like round 3 is waiting in the wings.

A good friend of mine has a son who has gone through the same trial by fire and lives to tell the tale. She's relieved but at the same time feels guilty that her son came home but others will not.I feel some of that too.

PFC Buttry was only nineteen years old, a mere child, but he took up arms like a man and gave, as Lincoln said, the last full measure of devotion.

His uncle Steve has started a remembrance page for Brandon and he has this to say:

"Brandon died defending our freedoms and our rights. If you haven't already voted, please get out today and exercise that precious right. If you spend an ounce of energy trying to keep Americans from voting, you are not worthy of his sacrifice and you dishonor the generations of U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have defended our Constitution and our flag."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and let Light Perpetual shine on them.

Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John, 15:13.

Memo from a friend.

Memo from a friend of mine who chooses to remain sort of anonymous, edited a little here and there:

My wife and I worked our backsides off for the President in NY and then here in Florida. We hit the streets and tasted the wrath and the warmth of the American voter. 

The rage and contempt was never spoken in terms of arithmetic or an economic plea. It was engaged in terms of race. The hate we encountered was like a Roberto Duran left hook. It was brutal. 

(editor's note: If you ever saw old Manos de Piedra in action, you'd get a good idea of what the analogy felt like)

Many of us felt the same door to door fear that we encountered during the 60's Civil Rights blitz. Many of us, African American, white or Latino such as my wife, often returned home in tears regardless of the THICKNESS of our skins. There is a severe case to be made for contempt toward anyone who will not answer a simple question.

 If you believe in equality in America how could you vote for a man with an obvious intent to pander to the very worst in the human condition and not once denounce those intrusions? There can be little understanding if one refuses to reach out. 

Speaking strictly for myself, certain explorations can cross a line and the division in this land is not a game. My life has been devoted to the craft of learning how to live. I have been teacher and student. I still am. 

Here is all I know regarding our President's triumph.

This election did not allow for a hiding place. 

As evidenced by the hearts and tongues of E*** W******* and every conscientious male and female I know, there exists a livid sense of 'how could you'? 

 I could see it in my wife's eye's as she was called a 'N****r loving Spic' by the white male whose door we knocked upon. 

This race is over but the card is still in play. 

Therefore you best not come into my house and proclaim that the re-election of Barack Obama was a 'sad day for America' without a willingness to express the reasoning that brought you to that conclusion. Some of us simply have a bit more skin in the game than others. 

In the case of this radical American with a poet's inclination I must quote Kinky Friedman. 'They ain't makin' Jews like Jesus anymore, we don't turn the other cheek the way we did before'. 

I will gladly request the title of fool before I fall for further insult as a human being and as a devout American. Enough is enough. In the name of the Father, the son, Carl Sandburg and my Grandparents who escaped Adolph for better lives. They both came to know the ghost of Joe Hill and denounced Joe McCarthy. They initiated my political quest. 

We have traveled too far to now quietly turn a back or a clock on them or any journey so prolific. Later Amigos.

Monday, November 12, 2012

These Are The Boys Who Will Never Grow Old

The Boys Who Will Never Grow Old.

These are the faces of the boys who will never grow old.
In fading photographs on mantels and scrapbooks
Taken on Kodaks or maybe a Leica taken off a German officer
In boxes of old letters at a farm auction
They look back at us across the years.

From some place in Germany or an island in the Pacific
V-mail or on old postcards sold on the streets of a destroyed city
Have their mundane words: “Hi Mom and Dad, they sure don’t have farms like we do in Nebraska. I’m well.”

These are the boys who will never grow old. Who were they?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Yard Work And All That

This week I started doing some yard work for the first time since the lawn stopped growing this past summer. As part of that project I decided it was time to get my hands on a leaf vacuum and I selected the Poulan Pro, which was a bargain at $100 at Lowe's although I probably could have done better shopping around. I was pretty tired of raking and bagging and raking and bagging and raking and bagging, and the promise of mulching the leaves would let me pack a lot more into the ridiculously expensive lawn waste recycle bags we have to buy here at $1.50 each. It works pretty well, starts easily and runs smoothly too but the one great weakness that this vacuum has is a plastic impeller.

With the broken walnut shell mess that the squirrels have left, it's a dubious proposition to expect the impeller to get through the season-it's pretty much fragged after about five hours' use.
The good news is that new impellers number 25 in the picture, (part number 545113601, seems to fit a whole bunch of leaf blowers under different trade names) can be purchased for about $3 a copy from any number of online vendors. Not being one to do things by halves I ordered three of them, but it sure would be nice if the impeller was made of alloy.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Revisiting the War of 1812 Canadian Style With A Nod Toward Truth In Advertising.

"By repelling the American invasion Canada won the war of 1812." So we read in the National Post this day.

Be that as it may, the war of 1812 was settled between the Americans and the British with the Treaty of Ghent-a town in Belgium, by the way. With the defeat of Napoleon by the British the twin issues of impressment of American sailors and interference with American trade with French possessions-which was what the war was about- died an unlamented death.

Shortly after the Treaty of Ghent was ratified, Napoleon escaped from Elba and the British found themselves with more pressing matters to attend to, mostly stirred up by the pesky Corsican.

They take this stuff very seriously in El Norte as it is the bicentennial of the truly ill advised war of that name, which parenthetically does not lend itself to facile statements like the above one.

The great issue with rewriting history to suit yourself is that sooner or later, as in this case, you may come to believe the doctored version.

Josef Goebbels noted this when he said:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Of course,Goebbels himself was the victim of what he identified and in fact, he wrote the history of Naziism's destruction prior to the event, but even blind pigs can find acorns every now and then.

The record's not very clear about the war of 1812 either, despite what kids are taught in school there or here-one wonders whether they teach kids anything at all here in the States, even stuff that's wrong.

It's at best a dubious proposition.

If Canada needs something to be proud about in the martial department it could be its role in the two wars against German militarism and world fascism while America slept-although, let it be said, after Germany was trounced Canada stopped showing up for the war against Japanese fascism but nevermind. It's a good thing too, that the Japanese never decided to invade Vancouver either because we'd never have heard the end of it.

The lessons of 1812 were clear for us. You can't fight a war without a plan, and you can't do it with 90 day enlistments and appeals for volunteers who never get paid or fed, and you can't do it with idiots for commanders. And it was pretty stupid to begin with anyway.

And we're sorry we started it, OK? Feel better?

But it did convince the British government we weren't to be trifled with as easily as all that, and our civil war settled the matter once and for all. Although, be it remembered, Halifax was a convenient stopping place for Confederate blockade runners to load up on military supplies for deah ole Dixie. It is passing strange that John Bull was all four square against slavery, Wilberforce, righteous indignation and all that but saw no problem with selling arms in quantity to the greatest slaveocracy in the Northern Hemisphere but nevermind that either.

We're all entitled to our national inconsistencies.

While we're on the subject, what the hell was that little contretemps in N'Wawlins all about when Pakenham's British regulars got themselves 2,042 causalties for
71 Americans, the army of Jackson being composed of negro freemen, Kentucky briars with squirrel guns, riverboat gamblers, Cajuns and a few regular army soldiers?

Oh. I remember. The war was officially over but the paperwork hadn't arrived.

How about a coin for that?

Or maybe one that shows American sailors being pressganged off American vessels, enslaved and flogged by the Royal Navy? They were very big on flogging, you know.

How about the capture of the HMS Macedonian? Or Plattsburg?

Or one that says "We hated slavery but profited from its perpetuation"?

That's one, I am quite sure, that will never be minted.