Monday, May 28, 2007

Winslow Homer, "The Veteran in a New Field"

I once saw a documentary on America or more to the point America as seen through its art. Some famous guy originally from Australia whose name I cannot remember or Google up, talked about American art, visual art, and on the whole it was very good and interesting and filled in that time between supper and bed quit nicely.

But when he talked about the above painting, I saw something he did not see. This show was some time ago and I'm only now bringing to anyone's attention, but that's what blogs are for.

I've since went out and did some Googling on the subject and what I can find agree with what I heard earlier. The art work represents all kinds of Civil War related things. This site represents what I heard several years ago. References to Cincinnatus, swords into ploughshares, Lincoln assignation, and even the soldier's having mown down troops as he does the wheat in the painting are listed as commentary on the piece.

I had seen the work before it showed in the PBS story. When I saw it – a picture book probably – I knew that Homer had been in the Civil War, and what I saw was nothing like what I've saw on the PBS special or read elsewhere.

This is what I saw:

The soldier knows how to thresh wheat. He had done that since he was old enough to stand and work, and was sent into to the field to work all day. The drudgery of physical labor with no end in sight, for a young man, must have been a terrible future when he was young and working day after day in the field. No future but hard work in the field.

And then the Civil War came along and he went on an adventure. The war offered an escape from the wheat field and a chance to be with other men. Of course, it became all the terrible things mentioned in the usual commentary of the painting, the killing, witnessing friends and comrades being killed, and the life changing experiences more eloquently noted than I could. And the soldier survived the war.

On the way home, maybe at the fields that surround his home, he comes upon that once hated task from which war had offered an escape. For one brief moment he could return to the time before the war. He picked up the scythe and began to do what had hated just a few short years ago, only now it was a labor of love.

If he moved just right, he could capture that boyhood motion and for one brief moment return to a home that is forever gone. No matter how much he has to work in the field from now own, that boy that had hated it so and that veteran that returned to so loved it will always be with him.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and White MSN Sucks

In this weekend's morning's newspaper, I came across an AP story in the local news about some rather gruesome murders in Knoxville, Tennessee. What caught my attention was mention of blogging. This blog storm seems to be more about the coverage of the story rather than the story itself, which is just another day in the blog world – but I digress. I make it a practice not to follow trails in general – the Libby Plame name leak trail being a most major exception, which in itself is indicative of the reason for this post.

A blog at NPR sort of round ups the story of the story with the conservative blogs pushing this lack of national attention and slamming the liberal media in the same post. The NPR blogger offers a site that refs the O.J. Simpson trial as proof that national news will cover black on white crime. NPR blog. (The OJ trail story is one of the major reasons I don't follow that sort of thing. Besides the OJ trail story is proof that if you got enough money, color don't matter.)

A day later, Editor and Publisher published the AP story I read in my local paper although it included a ref about the InstaPundit. Maybe I miss the ref in the original story I read; I was negotiating a warmed apple turnover (Oh American decadence! I do what I can for conspicuous consumption.)

So I jumped over to see what the InstaPundit had to say, and Glenn points to a site Crosblog that round ups also, but point out that in the Duke rape case – which has been used as proof of reverse racism – the prosecutor sought press cover while the Knoxville prosecutors have not. Crosblog is eat up with links to stories of murdered victims and stories that probably deserve more coverage than they are getting. However, Crosblog does not link to the conservative blogs that are raising a hate ruckus about the coverage.

I found Crosblogs arguments and punditry interesting and have bookmarked it for a return visit. I put it in other. I'm not sure if it's conservative or liberal or something in-between. Thanks Instapundit

Like I said above, I don't follow trials of this sort, but I can see what this story needs. People are wanting more attention and "more attention" is just a phone call away.

What this story needs and doesn't have are a couple of white guys like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. They would go to Knoxville, organize demonstrations and get face time for themselves and the story on TV. Get that coverage that some think this story needs.

Jesse marched with a man that now gets a holiday all his own so he's got that new buzz word from rap: street cred. (Sorry Imus.) Some white dude with that kind of street cred would be a MSN suck, and would pull in the coverage. And he could be like Jesse in that some of the colors of his rainbow coalition are brighter than others What rainbow isn't without its colors that are more intense than others -- it's jus tthe way of rainbows. The Jesse-like white guy could come up with a catchy saying that rhymes but that would enhance but not reduce his white cred.

The Al Sharpton-like white guy could go to Knoxville, march, and accuse the prosecutor of being in on the rape of the two kids.

The problem with those conservative mouth pieces trying to do it is the taint of racism. Unlike Jackson and Sharpton, they have no race cred.

That's what's missing from his story: white MSN sucks with race cred and street cred. And Oh Yea! White cred. That's what is needed to get this story off its ass and get some face time with pouty-lipped ingenue news talking head telling us about it. And they need to be blond pouty-lipped ingenue news talking heads.

If only.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Dear Senator Clinton,

(I sent this to Senator Clinton. She is playing this whole voting for Iraq all wrong. I submitted it at her Senatorial site and quickly got a reply. I don't live in her state, and although she appreciated my email, she had to concentrate on her constituency. I can understand that she's got a lot on her plate right now, but that doesn't reduce the import of my message: Don't apologize or make excuses for the vote to support Bush.

At any rate, here's my message to Senator Clinton.)

Do not apologize for voting to authorize President Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Never regret or apologize for standing up for the security of the United States of America. Hope that when you become President, you can depend on those of the other party – especially those of opposite ideologies who seem to have a personal hate for you – will support you during a time of national crisis just as you did President Bush after 9/11.

Foregoing party politics in a time of national threat is what makes Americans different. Your vote in support of the President needs no further analysis than standing in defense of our country.

You made your decision with the information provide you by the administration. 9/11 was in the state you represent in Congress. To not come to its defense would be the greater wrong.

Promise the opposing party (and the rest of us), you will not let your own political leanings color the intelligence to the point that it is not just wrong, it is misleading.

Promise all of us you will not be so afraid of national embarrassment or loss of face over a decision you made that you would jeopardize America's integrity, security, and image in the world. (Bush's embarrassment is no where near what Senator Clinton suffered at the hands of her husband, so this would not be a stretch for her.)

As evil as Saddam was (and he certainly was a tyrant and persecutor of his people), he was not a threat to the United States. While we know that now with an absolute certainty we did not have before the invasion, we had available then serious doubts, but ideology as a driving force pushed out rational, professional vetting of intelligence. Promise not to cherry pick the intelligence to justify your ideology.

Your vote in support of the President was not wrong. The bill to authorize the invasion of Iraq was. Using national and international resolution to solve the problem of terrorism for some pet peeve against Saddam is wrong.

Lots of luck – you're going to need it.

(That's what I wrote her. I gave here my real name, mailing address and email. So far I've only got what I think is an auto-response robotic answer. Maybe when my state has its primary, her people will send my people something in the mail asking for money, support, and of course, our vote.

So it goes. (Vonnegut still lives.))

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Calling All Bloggers, No Vacations for Anyone

If it is important for the Iraqi Parliament to remain at work and not take a vacation this summer, how about the U.S. Congress and the President? Why should anyone in America take a vacation while our boys and girls are giving their all with repeated tours, extended stays, and stop loss in Iraq?

If our troops can't take a vacation over there, then neither should we over here. Taking a vacation is a traitorous act. If you are planning on going to the beach or Disneyworld this summer, you are an agent for terrorist. Support the troops, stay home.

"Stay the course", don't desert, "surge" your work in the "new way forward" by not taking a vacation.

Calling all bloggers, get out the postings. Get the word out in the Blogosphere. Cause a stink for a good cause, the exploitation by the administration of the military in Iraq. Contact your reps in Congress and tell them that the right thing for the Iraqi Parliament to do is right thing for the U.S. Congress to do. Also, there will be no vacation to Crawford, Texas, this summer. Sorry George, that brush and undergrowth will just have to go unattended.

With U.S. policy in its last throes, there is no time for vacations. No vacations for anyone until the mission is over whether it is accomplished or not.

I've been banging away all over the internet trying to drum up support for "No Vacations for Congress" and so far I got nothing. I posted and commented something like the above on all the "A" listed blogs trying to galvanize the blogosphere for a no-vacation Congress but I don't think I had any effect. So it goes. (Vonnegut's passing is still fresh.)

Somebody needs to do something in Iraq or something is going to happen in Iraq.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Vonnegut died. So it goes.

Kurt Vonnegut is one of the most important discoveries I have ever made. Along with Mark Twain, Charles G. Finney, and to some degree Charles Dickens, Kurt Vonnegut influenced my eventual writing style more than anything else. I do hope it shows.

I was in the Navy, standing an engine room watch, when I discovered Slaughterhouse-Five stuck in an angle iron. It is one of the few books I have ever read cover to cover at one time. It grabbed me, pulled me in, and wouldn't let go until I finished it. I told the rover not to wake up my relief until I had finished the book.

I read everything Vonnegut had written, read everything he published, and continue to do so until we both got old and taste changed as is the way of men. I recognized immediately that Vonnegut was not a science fiction writer but a writer who used sci-fi as a vehicle for delivering an idea or message. His disjointed, non-flow style some how told a story. Looking back on my life, I sometimes feel as if I were a clueless Billy Pilgrim unstuck in time, and yet with simple wisdom that comes from the ages. If only it were true.

The style of writing in Slaughterhouse-Five, with its short sentences in short paragraphs with a line space between each paragraphs, blew me away. I fell in love with that style and have never left it entirely. It lends itself well to blogging.

I wonder if there is some young soldier stuck in the hell that is Iraq of good purpose and ideals whose temperament is being forged in ways they he or she will only appreciate years later. Will they share the results their experiences with us in some book or maybe even a posting in a blog?

Comparisons have been made here and elsewhere of Iraq and Vietnam. The Walter Reed neglect story is only the beginning – next comes the comparison of Iraqi vets with that of Vietnam vets.

So it goes.