Sunday, March 31, 2013

Columnist Wants to Cut Military Funeral Benefit

Next to the guy that posted the Cesar Chavez on Google today, the next most unpopular guy in America right now might be St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan.

Mr. McClellan reports that his inbox is overflowing with people who "want to get rid" of him after he wrote two columns on doing away with military funeral honors for all veterans except those who were actually killed in combat:
But what about the guy who spends a couple of years in the military and then gets on with his life? Bear in mind that most veterans did nothing heroic. They served, and that’s laudable, but it hardly seems necessary to provide them all with military honors after they have died.
McClellan suggests that the free space and headstone in a national cemetery ought to be sufficient.

Tom Blumer at Newsbusters asks:
Well, what about those who incurred serious service-connected disabilities as a result of their "non-heroic" service? (The level of disability claims has from all appearances gotten completely out of control, but that's a separate topic. I'm discussing veterans with legitimate and provable physical and mental injuries resulting from their service.)

Indeed, by Mr. McClellan's theory, those people would not eventually be entitled to a funeral with military honors either.

McClellan's suggestion is that local service organizations pick up the tab:
Why not let the veterans organizations provide military honors at the funerals of their members? If a person gets out of the Marine Corps and wants to stay connected, he can join the Marine Corps League. I’m sure the 101st Airborne has an association. In a more general vein, we have the American Legion and the VFW.
In other words, if you want a military funeral you would have to join a service organization.  Service organizations certainly do a lot for our vets.  The American Legion post we belong to raises money for the troops and sends boxes of necessities to those who are deployed; the members participate in Veterans Day ceremonies, Memorial Day ceremonies, members volunteer their time to visit vets in nursing homes, and countless other efforts.  I guess adding funeral honor detail wouldn't be that much of a step and many would do it voluntarily, but that's not the point.

The sequester has indeed forced many painful budget cuts for all of us but it seems to me if the taxpayers can still afford to pay security detail for Obama's jaunts to the golf course then in all likelihood the taxpayer won't begrudge a veteran a military funeral.  Logic like McClellan's is the kind that suggests we cut tuition assistance to vets or assistance to homeless vets.  Oh, wait...

In his follow up column, McClellan points out that after getting out of the service he availed himself of the GI bill and now considers his country's debt to him square.  That, of course, is not an option our vets will have now, is it?

Only to Bill McClellan, perhaps, would a tour in Vietnam sound like a vacation; in writing about a friend that got drafted, he explains...:
He ended up in Vietnam. He was a little cog in the big wheel. He sorted mail. Honorable, but not heroic. He had an apartment in Saigon. The bar girls were attractive and friendly; the dope was plentiful and cheap. It was the best year of his life. 
If he were to get full military honors at his funeral, I don’t know what the bugler should play. Maybe something from Jimi Hendrix. 
I am not demeaning my friend’s service. I come from a long line of non-heroes. My dad was at Guadalcanal. He ran the largest still on the island. When he died, I did not choose to have a military funeral. I bought a bottle of very good whiskey.

I guess we all come from different perspectives, and I thank Mr. McClellan for his service, but for my part I don't begrudge any vet military honors at his funeral whether he served 2 years or twenty.  McClellan ties all this to the idea of heroism and to me that misses the point.

The Old Jarhead:
To measure whether an American citizen is a “hero” or not because of his combat experiences is bordering on lunacy. By serving our country, without running off to Canada, puts us in the precarious position of becoming a “hero” IF we are called to defend our country or any people in any country. I never expected to spend time inVietnam, but I was there anyway and I could have been a “hero” by McClellans’ standards. But I do not believe that we joined the military just so that we could be “heroes.’

Most vets, even those on Guadalcanal or Iwo Jima or anywhere else, seldom see themselves as heroes.  They will tell you they were just doing their job. Most Medal of Honor recipients, for example, always say, "I was just doing my job."  They don't see themselves as heroes.

Apparently, neither does Bill McClellan.

By the way, consider making a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project.  It's a great organization and if the VA takes Mr. McClellan's advice, WWP might really need your donation.  They don't care how many years you served or if you came back alive in order to give aid.

(H/T:  The Old Jarhead)

Have a Happy Easter Despite Google

Happy Easter!

Unless you live under a rock you will have heard (or seen) already about the Google choice today to honor Cesar Chavez rather than Easter.  I'm not going to reproduce the Google shot here; I prefer the bunnies playing baseball, an image from the NY public library.The web is aflame with outrage.

A sampling:

Ed Driscoll wonders:
I wonder if anyone at Google has read Miriam Pawel’s The Union of Their Dreams, or read Caitlin Flanagan’s 4500-word review of it in the Atlantic in 2011: “The Madness of Cesar Chavez: A new biography of the icon shows that saints should be judged guilty until proved innocent.” Read the whole thing. 
Read the Atlantic piece Driscoll links; it's interesting.

The Twitchy team notes that it is also Al Gore's birthday.  No doodle for the inventor of the internet?

Eric Mack has some Twitter reactions, including this one from Dana Perino:

Patterico notes that Google ignores most religious holidays.

Gulag Bound is outraged and switching to Bing:

Remember, Obama, the Department of Education and the Common Core Standards are teaching in our schools that Cesar Chavez is a “hero of the people.” Only if you are Marxist is this true. And now you see the U.S. government in true fascist style, place ideologues over faith. Every time I see pictures such as Cesar Chavez or more commonly Barack Obama’s arrogant visage, I see snapshots of Stalin, Mao, Lenin and Hitler in my mind’s eye. The faces have changed, but not the Google evil message.

I Hate the Media isn't surprised:
Frankly, we’re surprised they didn’t have a picture of Obama on the cross, ready to be resurrected so he can go play golf.

The American Conservative sees the Google Doodle as just another step in the desensitization of Christianity:

It’s a small thing, of course, but this kind of thing, accumulated, signals an intentional de-Christianization of our culture, and the creation of an intentional hostility to Christianity that will eventually cease to be latent, or minor. It cannot have been an accident that Google decided to honor a relatively obscure cultural figure instead of observing the most important Christian holiday, a day of enormous importance to an overwhelming number of people in the United States, and to an enormous number of people around the world.

Of course, the left thinks the outrage is ridiculous.  Naturally.

By the way, Bing has Easter eggs:

Happy Easter!

More reactions at Memeorandum.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Take A Spring Break Trip To Arcadia, Louisiana

Steve and I added a new day trip destination to our rotation today - we branched out and drove over to Arcadia today.

Arcadia, Louisiana is probably best known these days for the Bonnie and Clyde Trade Days which is, as best I can tell, like a Louisiana version of Canton, Texas.  It's a giant vendor shopping extravaganza with everything from pets, to crafts, to plants to antiques.  Notorious outlaws Bonnie and Clyde were finally killed in 1934 on a rural road near Arcadia.

Arcadia has been known in years past for a thriving antique business.  It's a tiny town with a population of about 3,000 and the downtown area, centered mostly on a square, used to be filled with antique shops.  Now there are about five or so, but they are wonderful shops!

We never take the interstate if we can help it, but we took I-20 to Minden, then jumped off onto Highway 80 which curves and winds its way through the hilly rural countryside.  It was a pretty drive.

We got to Arcadia in time for lunch so we stopped at Sharon's Cafe; there were lots of cars in the parking lot and lots of what looked to be work trucks so we took that as a good sign.  Sharon's is your typical hot plate lunch place with paneled walls and red plastic tea glasses.  The specials were on the wall:

I took a pass on the Neckbones and went for the chicken fried steak, as did Steve.

It was pretty darn good.  Tucked over there on the left side of the plate is hot water cornbread and you could still the the imprints of the fingers that shaped it!  No frozen cornbread here.

The pies were tempting...

...but we had shopping to do so we paid up and hit the road.

We hit the first store, Trash to Treasures, on Maple Street.  I was in total depression glass heaven:

There was another shelf of the pink glass, a shelf of cobalt, and another of amber.  I'm partial to the green so this is about as far as I got.

On the top shelf in this picture is a wonderful Pyramid pattern relish dish; that's my favorite pattern, but it had a significant chip in it so I left it there.  There were some wonderful pieces here that I seldom see anywhere else, but I didn't want to spend all my money in the very first store so I wanted to wait on my glass purchase until I'd looked around more.

I did love this little railroad sugar and creamer set:

A nifty file that was outside:

We started to leave the store and when we were outside we realized the store was bigger than we thought.  There was a fenced in area and then it adjoined another building.  We saw a fellow walking around in there and I said, "Hey!  How'd you get in there!"  and he told us.  So, we went back in and followed his directions to picker heaven.  I mean, that guy from American Pickers would have gone nuts in this place:

A player piano:

and a bar:

A great chair:

I found this great old record player:

What's on the spindle, you ask?

Brenda Lee, of course.  You know, the kids I teach today would have no idea what this is.

I saw this old Coca-Cola cooler and thought of my friend Milly Rose:

There were several of these cool dividers that came out of one of the casinos:

They were actually quite large and very, very heavy.

We kept digging and poking around and I found these:

Barrister bookshelves!  Love!  Had to have them.  The owner told me they came from the Capitol building in Baton Rouge ages ago; during a remodel they were just throwing them out back and some guy picked up as many as he could.  They're very, very old and I totally love them.  The glass is intact on the front and the company labels are perfect.

We secured them in the back of the Jeep and continued shopping.

We stopped by the post office which was built in 1937.  It has a cool mural called "Cotton Time" which was painted by a WPA artist (1930s -1940s).

Here's a close up of one section:

Loved it.

Our next shop was Old Towne Marketplace on Myrtle St.

Jadeite heaven:

I took one look at this shelf and went back to the counter to ask if they took credit cards.  They don't.  Nobody there takes credit cards.  If you go to Arcadia, take cash or a checkbook.  I'd have cleaned them out of Jadeite if they'd taken plastic.  As it was, it took one of the refrigerator dishes.

I thought this jar was cool:

The lid was crockery.

Another Coca-Cola item:

I ended up buying my Jadeite piece, two black Americana postcards, and a first edition of Theodore Roosevelt's Letters to His Children.

The lady that ran this shop was super nice and I enjoyed shopping there.

Next was a little rest break in a comfy rocker in the town park:

Our last shop was First Street Antiques - another lovely shop.

Loved this pie safe:

And I found these great Fire King mugs, and if they'd been Jadeite, they'd be mine, but I already have three or four in this color so I left them.  These are great mugs; they're super thick and heavy and they keep your coffee hot for a long time!

(I'm not talking about that one with the wheat pattern; that one didn't interest me.)

Thermos bottles - all sizes!

And I love that Formica table they're on.

They had all kinds of drip coffee pots (which make THE BEST coffee, even though I love my Keurig.  My drip coffee pot is unbeatable).

How about this serious, heavy-duty pressure cooker?

There was a lot of Fostoria American around and this punch bowl was marked $45 - a steal.  The tag said it had a "factory defect" but I couldn't see it:

I love enamelware, for some reason, and I have a lot of it, but I don't have one of these coffee pots.  They're always marked around $45.  Steep.

I loved these old post office boxes; the shop owner suggested they'd make a great room divider.  They are truly awesome:

I bought a Jadeite reamer from this shop; it was priced very low because it had a tiny chip in it which mattered less than none at all to me.

So after we exhausted all the shops we checked out the war memorial:

Then headed over to the railroad depot museum.  The proprietor was just locking up but she saw our pitiful faces and took us on a quick tour.

There is a ton of Arcadia history in this place.  The depot itself it preserved; she showed us where the "colored" waiting room was, and the "white" waiting room.  There are lots of old photos from the school which were nearly destroyed before being rescued and preserved here:

This old cheerleader uniform has the tiniest waist I've ever seen:

An old ice box:

and a fabulous old wood burning stove:

Steve got a kick out of this old Possum Festival poster (they used to have a huge Possum Festival in Arcadia and raised huge sums of money for St. Jude):

And outside is a "marker" for the possums:

They have a Bonnie and Clyde exhibit in the Depot museum; this is a book that was in the car when they were shot:

It's in a glass shadowbox.  There are coroner's reports there, and newspapers, lots of photos.  It's a nice exhibit if your into that sort of thing.  I have trouble glorifying murderers, but that's just me.

We packed it all in and headed for home.  We stopped in Minden to say hey to Milly Rose and grab some dinner at Habacu's then called it a day.

Arcadia is a great place to visit and shop and we'll be back.  Just leave the credit cards at home.  They won't do you any good.  There are lots of historical landmarks around the area to see that we didn't have time for today.

But, summer is coming!

The SIGIS Take a Trip Series:
Take a Trip to the 2012 Defenders of Liberty Air Show at BAFB
Take a Springtime Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden, LA
Take a Trip to Logansport, Louisiana
Take a Trip to the Lock and Dam on Red River
Take a Trip to the 2012 Barkus and Meoux Parade
Take a Christmas Shopping Trip to Second Hand Rose in Minden
Take a Trip to the Fourth Annual Barksdale AFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Grand Cane's Fifth Annual Pioneer Trade Day
Take a Trip to the 2011 Highland Jazz & Blues Festival
Take an Autumn Trip to Jefferson, Texas
Take a Fall Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to the 8th Air Force Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base
Take a Summertime Trip to Grand Cane
Take a Trip to Desoto Parish
Take a Summer Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Melrose Plantation 
Take a Trip to Ed Lester Farms and a Random Antique Stop
Take a Trip to the Norton Art Gallery and the Masters of Cuban Art Exhibit
Take a Trip to Natchitoches to See the Christmas Lights
Take a Trip to the Third Annual BAFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Oakland Plantation
Take a Trip to Jefferson, Texas
Oktoberfest at BAFB

Smart Power

This comment...:

"Well, I think that you're citing a study that I believe was conducted by a health insurance company that's critical of the Affordable Care Act, so that part I'm not particularly surprised about," White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said." 

...pretty much captures all that is wrong with this presidential administration.

Earnest said this in response to yet another study that predicts higher health care premiums under Obamacare.

That study, which Mr. Earnest finds fault with, was conducted by a company that doesn't toe the political line, apparently.

Yet what of all the other studies?

The Society of Actuaries predicts higher premiums.
Actuaries consulting firm Oliver Wyman predicts higher premiums.
Aetna predicts higher premiums.
Even Congress predicts higher premiums.

There are more.

The problem here though, is that this White House is soooo elite, soooo smart, sooooo intelligent, that they think the only conclusion that is correct is their own, all evidence to the contrary be damned.  (And we're not just talking health care here).

That's scary.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mini Road Trip

I had to get out of the house today.

I spent the morning working on some thank you notes, didn't get them finished, but got about half of them done.

I really wanted to see my friend Milly Rose in Minden; she owns Second Hand Rose Antiques, as regular readers know, but she's also a good friend and she's been praying hard for me and my mama.  It made me feel better to go see her.  Milly is such a positive, upbeat person it's just impossible to feel sad around her.

I'm the administrator for her Facebook page so I needed to take some new photos of the shop and that's always fun.  Of course I always find some wonderful treasure to bring home.

I took lots of pictures but you'll have to keep an eye on her Facebook page to see them.  I did bring home these two pins (above) because I have a thing for pins.  The butterfly is a Weiss and I love it.

I also picked up this American Fostoria rolled bowl; I have a collection of this pattern which began when I inherited some pieces from my grandmother.

We had a good visit and it lifted my spirits.

I'll share one other picture with you:  this is Milly's adorable Boston Terrier, Heidi.  She's a doll!

Isn't she cute!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Becoming Anachronistic

Via Instapundit, books are becoming anachronistic:

Today, with reading so often done and “books” acquired digitally, stored in pixels on hand-held devices, we see fewer new titles gracing the offices of colleagues and teachers, the homes of friends.  No longer on display, they can no longer be conversation pieces.  The average age of books on shelves is rising steadily and even these becoming anachronistic.  Shelves are given over to decoration, clocks, cups, bells, photographs.   My wife and I wonder, “what will our kids think, 10 or 20 years from now, when they see an apartment without a single book in it?”  Maybe nothing.  We would be horrified.

So are, I suggest, printed photographs.

Next Up: Martha's Vineyard

That's the photo at the top of Drudge right now.

The story links to this report over at Weekly Standard...
In the first three months of the year, members of the first family have been on three vacations, averaging a vacation a month. And now it's being reported that the first daughters are on a spring break vacation in the Bahamas. 
...and to this one at Breitbart which begins by noting that the White House is closed for tours:
One premier destination is off-limits this year, however. A few weeks ago, the Obama Administration announced it was suspending public, self-guided tours of the White House as a result of the automatic sequester cuts that the administration proposed in 2011. While America's students stand outside the White House fence, the First Daughters, Sasha and Malia, are enjoying spring break with friends at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. 
I actually don't care where the Obama girls are, but the optics on all this are not good, I don't think.    I can't help but recall the wailing from the left that George Bush was taking so many vacations (mostly to his ranch in Texas).

But it does seem to me that while the country is feeling the pain of the sequester, Obama's notion that "everybody's gonna have to have some skin in the game" doesn't apply to him.

So while the daughters are enjoying the Bahamas, the White House is closed to tours, the FAA has closed 149 small airport control towers (including the one at the downtown Shreveport airport). The sequester has also cut military spending which has caused, among other things, the cancellation of air shows across the country; it has cut the budget of the National Parks Service which forces layoffs of workers at the height of the summer season (and dirty bathrooms!), and in Louisiana alone, cut 7,000 civilian Department of Defense jobs.  Among other things.

Those screeching about Malia and Sasha's privacy have a point, but so do those of us pointing out that it's time Obama put some skin of his own in the game.

Next up:  Martha's Vineyard.

(More at Memeorandum)

Heritage Calls For More Transparency in Education Spending

Maybe I'm hyper-sensitive these days, but this post this morning from The Foundry set my teeth on edge.  The post highlights a new paper by Heritage expert Jason Richwine that uncovers the deep, dark secret that states are paying teachers too much in pensions:
That’s right—the real cost of education is far higher than we’ve been told, but it’s not because of extra classroom resources or newer facilities. It’s because of teachers’ pensions.
The beef seems to be, really, that states are "hiding" the true amount of that pension figure.  I understand Heritage wants accuracy in reporting the figures.  They aren't suggesting teachers shouldn't get pensions, but the tone of the piece was unsettling.

I'm all for transparency but I'm sure sick of people beating up on teachers.

When I retire after thirty years in the classroom my retirement take home pay will be well under $3,000 per month.

I realize each state is different in how pension plans are structured, but in my state I contribute to my pension monthly.  I don't pay into Social Security but I pay the same percentage into my pension plan.

What bothers me most, I think, about this Heritage post is the vicious comments about greedy, lazy teachers in the comments.  I know...NEVER read the comments.  I can't help myself.  It's like watching a train wreck.

One comment by someone named Thomas says:
"I'm so tired of you teachers comparing yourselves to people who in their jobs risk their lives.  You risk spilled coffee.  Look at the numbers, as a teacher this should be an easy task for you.  Standard test scores are in a free fall.  Children who are graduating today some of them can't even read.  You teachers have abandoned the kids for your Unions and the income you can get along with golden benefits..."

He goes on, but you get the idea.  Obviously Thomas has never taught school.

The unions are a problem, more so in some states than in others.  But not all teachers are part of the NEA.  Not all teachers are union.  I dropped my NEA membership when I found out that part of my dues were going to support Barack Obama's re-election whether I liked it or not.

The general idea that teachers follow like lemmings into some group-think liberal indoctrination of our children is just ridiculous.

I think if we are so concerned about what states are spending education dollars on, we need to really look at where that money goes.  Too often, nationwide,  it goes to systems top heavy in administrators and bloated central office staff, or to staffing positions that have nothing to do with educating children and are redundant to jobs already in place.

How many billions of dollars are going to implementing this new Common Core curriculum which is already replete with problems?  New training, new textbooks, new testing...there's a whole industry out there related to Common Core now.

If the federal government would get out of the education business we would all be better off.

And quit beating up on teachers, for crying out loud, and don't begrudge teachers their pension.  Trust me, it's not all that much.