Thursday, February 28, 2013

Let us learn from the failures of the New Deal

My brother Jon, who is almost six years younger than I, remarked that he has never found anyone who remembers making mattresses near the end of the New Deal.  I remember it although I was involved only on a Saturday since I was in school.  He remembers working under the table on which the mattress lay, pulling the needle through and pushing it back.  It was less a problem for children than for adults, who would be in an awkward and stressful posture under the table.

I remember agreeing that making mattresses for the home was a better use of cotton than plowing it under.  As a boy I was angry at seeing a field of cotton, white and ready to be picked, plowed under.  The stated purpose was to reduce the supply of cotton and thus raise the price, all while people had few clothes to wear.  I was most disturbed at the killing of pregnant sows and the destruction of cows while people went hungry.

Looking back, we can see how wrong the New Deal was.  All of those alphabet organizations were based on making  products scarce, while the problem was not over-production but lack of demand from people who had no money for food or clothing.

How does that have meaning for us today?  The Obama administration is plunging ahead to force policies that are just opposite of what should be done to get the economy moving.  Obama has had more than four years now and the nation is suffering with nine million fewer people in the work force than were working when he took over. Unless we get a dramatic change, this nation is headed for catastrophe.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Treatment of servicemen has changed

Our church is planning a reception Sunday, March 10, to honor two members who are returning from active duty in Afghanistan. I support this fully while considering how differently we view our servicemen today than we did only a few years ago.

Some of us remember the demonstrations, some of then violent, and the cruel ways servicemen returning from Vietnam were treated.  At that time we utilized the draft to fill the ranks; today all men and women serving are doing so voluntarily.

War should never be popular (although Robert E. Lee said  "It is good war is so terrible. We would grow too fond of it.") but we should always support those who are fighting it.  I hope we never have another war that the entire nation support.  That would mean our own shores had been attacked.

My memory is of a young man, barely out of high school, who was visiting his uncle in Homer while on leave. The war in support of South Vietnam was less than a year old.  We had lots of conversations and he told of some terrible event, but he was convinced the action was right.  He planned to go back to Vietnam to serve again.   I thought of him often, wondering  how he fared.

Although many people question whether the attack on Iraq and its dictator was wise, they support the troups and through many organizations assist the wounded and help them re-enter civilian life.

A shameful waste of money

Louisiana continues the almost criminal waste of money by subsidizing film companies to make their crappy movies in the state. Through a program begun in 1992 and greatly expanded in 2002, the state has paid out over one billion dollars to film companies.  In addition the state has provided funds to entertainment groups.

The state issues tax credits and even pays 30 per cent of the cost of making a film. And the cost to the state has steadily increased, costing  179.5 million in 2011 and 26l million in 2012.  In defense of the giveaway, some call the program successful because the number of films made in the state has increased.  But what has been the economic benefit?  Very little, just a few temporary jobs.

A handful of wealthy people in Louisiana do benefit.  If a company can't use all its tax credits, it is allowed to sell them to other companies or to individuals. With $10,000 being the minimum for the credits, only the wealthiest can utilize the credits.

Other states have similar programs to entice movie makers, but nine, including Arkansas, are doing away with or suspending the programs.

We can understand teenagers being seduced by Hollywood and entertainment, but professionals and businessmen should act like competent adults. Is that too much to ask?  Probably so.

Monday, February 25, 2013

I don't miss fox hunting

I'm sure there are many things I've missed in my life, some that would have given me thrills like jumping out an airplane; others that would have given me both knowledge and pleasure, like world travel, but among the things I never did and never desired to do is fox hunting.

We had some neighbors who lived  about a quarter mile east of us who had a pack of mournful looking dogs who   had only one purpose -- fox hunting.  When I was a kid I would see these fox hunters drag by along with their dogs after a night  of hunting, but always without a fox.  I don't know if my dad ever went fox hunting -- it is very doubtful that he did since he wasn't a hunter -- but he explained fox hunting to me.

It had little resemblance to the pictures of  high society English men and women jumping fences as they and their dogs chased the fox.  No, our hunters would take their hounds to the woods, build a fire and wait while the dogs searched for the scent of the fox.  When one dog caught the scent, the other dogs would join and off they would go.  The hunters would sit around the fire drinking white lightning and listening to the dogs. One guy would say, "That's old Blue, he's in the lead."  Every hunter could identify the baying of his hound. That could go on all night until dawn.

I'm sure I've missed a lot in my life. Fox hunting is not among them.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Iwo Jima will live in the hearts

"Iwo Jima will live in the hearts of all persons who were there. No others will ever know the torture that little island produced."

                             From the personal narrative of Mark White, Photographer  for
                             the USS Pickens, APA  190

War Pictures of the USS Pickens taken by Mark White, ship photographer

Yea! The flag is up on Mt. Suribachi

It was February 23, the fifth day of the battle for Iwo Jima.  Those of us at the debarkation station stayed busy supervising the loading of Marines and materiel into our boats.  Being out in the open, we could see the island and boats going and coming but we were not close enough to see the action.  We did know that the battle was not going well.

You can understand how elated we were when a seaman with binoculars yelled that the American flag had been raised on Mt. Suribachi.  We all clamored to see the flag and joined in the celebration.  Later though, we were depressed when we saw the flag had come down.  Then, only minutes later, the flag was flying again.

I don't know when we on the Pickens learned  what had happened.  Joe Rosenthal, who traveled to Iwo on our ship, took a picture  of the first flag raising which later became famous and known to everyone.  He also took a picture of the second flag raising which he thought was the one people were so excited about.  The sad thing is the Japanese re-took Mt. Suribachi in bloody battle, only to lose it to our Marines again.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy birthday, Mr. Washington

Forget this bull crap called president's day.  Happy birthday, Mr. George Washington.  I wish you were here; the country needs leadership badly.

A true bird lover

We were walking under the century-old willow oak trees by the stock pond when we found a dead mockingbird on the ground.  It had obviously been shot only hours before.  My dad became angry and said, "If they don't care abut birds, they better understand that killing songbirds is against the law."

At the time I had not been aware that federal law protects almost all birds, although some are allowed to be hunted  during designated seasons. I did know my dad's love for birds and how much he hated to see them killed.  He always had a purple martin house with compartments and he would threaten to kill the cats when one managed to catch and kill one of the martins.

I guess the best example of his love for birds is when we found  a quail's nest with about l0 eggs in it.  The hen had either abandoned the nest for some reason or had been killed.  We took a chance that the eggs might still hatch and put them under a setting hen. I think it was about six or seven that hatched, and we built a pen to protect the tiny birds.  They grew and left the pen one by one.  Most people would have kept them until they were grown and then  killed and ate them.  My dad never considered it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A case of friendly fire

General Quarters that lasted  hours was uncomfortable  for the six radarmen and three officers crowded into the radar shack.  Adding to the stress was that only three people had jobs to perform and took the only three chairs. (An ensign and I almost came to blows once.) If it was stressful for us, you can understand how it could be even worse for gun crews who  craved action.

One afternoon at Iwo Jima we were on General Quarters when a Japanese observation plane flew overhead, flying  so slow it appeared to be stationary.  Without being given permission, the gunners on the transport ships, including the Pickens,  cut lose, firing all their guns.  The cry to cease fire came over the TBS immediately and firing stopped.  No ship was hit but how ironic that the greatest danger most attack transports faced was from friendly fire.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Battle for Iwo Jima begins 68 years ago today

The USS Pickens had completed a long trek, from Hawaii to Eniwetok, and on to Saipan.  From there, loaded with Fourth Division Marines and accompanied by other transports and escort vessels, the Pickens reached its destination, the small island of Iwo Jima.  The navy had shelled and bombed the island for three days, believing the Japanese defending would be decidedly weakened.

We had trained for several weeks and were proficient in putting our boats in the water quickly, loading the Marines and landing them ashore.  Now this early morning would be the real test.  I, although a radarman, manned the phones on the starboard side of a deck near the stern, where Marines would descend, using cargo nets to climb down to the boats.  Everyone had his job to do, mine being communication over the phone.  During training the phone worked perfectly but this morning it was dead. What to do?  No one could help me. I had to abandon my post and find someone with more authority to listen to me and finally get a phone that worked. For several days I manned that post, day and night, as Marines and materiel left in our boats for  the island.  Some boats returned with wounded (we were an auxiliary hospital ship) and I watched as the wounded were put on stretchers and hauled aboard.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The first time I heard the song "A Beautiful Life" was when I was about six years old and attending  a church and family reunion at a  little one-room building that had served as school as well as church. (It continued as a church for more than 50  years.  My cousin Terral was the pastor in his early years as a Methodist minister.)

I have very rarely heard this song but the refrain has never completely left my mind "Life's evening sun is sinking low; a few more days and I  must go."  A short man with stubby fingers was playing piano in the most enthusiastic manner I've ever seen or heard. I was about six years old at the time

When Dad was a child going to the school, it was taught by his cousin, who boarded with his family.  He admitted being a problem student.  One boring afternoon he left his seat, gathered  up everyone's hat and threw them one by one out the window. He then went outside and threw the hats back in one by one. He showed us where he had carved his initials on the back of a pew.

Of course the school  had no bathroom, not even  an outdoor facility; boys used one side of the woods, the girls the other side.  I overheard Dad and a friend laughing saying, "We killed that tree, didn't we?"  They had selected one tree as their urinal to see if they could kill it.  They were saying they were successful.

 ( By the way, the song is being sung a capella by a Mennonite youth group at a Methodist church in Tennessee.

Each Day I'll Do a Golden Deed

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I am not liking a few things

George Soros makes another billion for manipulating currency; Face Book owner avoids millions in taxes; Shreveport government officials reveal plans to increase sewer fees by 50 per cent and water fees by 26 per cent to begin.  Just another day in the turnip patch.

Yes, we must revise our national tax code, but no matter what we do the real rich will, somewhat legally, avoid most taxes.  The job creators are the ones who are criticized as "not paying their fair share" and are taxed along with us common folks.

I could be wrong but I have had doubts about the efficiency of the last several Shreveport city officials.  Ever since a previous administration issued multi-million dollar contracts in building a civic center and hotel without bids,   I have had a bad feeling about the people we elected.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Soon to be famous phiotographer on board

As the USS Pickens and other ships transporting Marines moved  toward Iwo Jima, few in the crew knew that a person soon to be famous was on board.  Joe Rosenthal, photographer, was a passenger in one of our boats that landed the beach party and Marines in the first wave attacking the island.

The first pictures Rosenthal sent to the States included boats from the Pickens.  A few days after the attack a boat officer showed me a clipping he had received; it was an LCVP with PA 190, Boat 10 on the bow.

One Pickens crew member who became acquainted with Rosenthal was Mark White, X-ray technician and ship photograher, who,  if living, would be 100 years old this year.  Mark White wrote about his experiences and passed on to his family many photographs.  His son John has provided me and others with copies of much of that material.  I have enjoyed having it and appreciate John very much.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day, all.  There are still good things in our world.

Take My Hand, Precious Lord By Jim Nabors

Changes urgent to save economy

First, I must confess that I did not watch the Obama state of the union address, nor did I watch the two speeches that followed.  My opinion is formed by the media pundits who before the speech informed us what Obama would say and by the pundits who, after the speech, told us what he said.

Obama was supposed to mostly concern himself with improving the economy and creating jobs, but his speech was dedicated mostly to gun control and special privileges for aliens. Not surprisingly, Obama either cares not for job creation or has no idea what to do.  Since the day he promised he would not rest until there were good jobs for everyone, he has spent 57 days on vacation.  Now, he has gone on his second vacation in the first six weeks of the year.

Since Obama was elected the first time, there are 8.7 million fewer people in the work force.  Of  the jobs that have been created, 67 per cent have gone to immigrants.  I bet you didn't know that.

To create jobs the Obama administration could repeal all of the unnecessary regulations that handicap business.  Refusal to allow a pipeline to be built is costing thousands of  jobs as is the prevention of a electric generating plant in Texas. Sure, with all the jobs we need, thousands are a drop in the bucket. Allowing the full development of our abundant coal, oil and natural gas would provide millions of jobs. 

Instead of creating jobs we are adding 11,000 people to the food stamp roles every day.  Every day we learn of a new or expanding cost built into Obamacare. A lot of changes must be made for any chance to save this nation's economy.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

February has a host of days

Perhaps to console February for being the shortest month, it is given a number of special days.  Today, February 12, is Mardi Gras Day; Tuesday is Ash Wednesday; Tlhursday is  Valentine's Day, and Tuesday, February 18, is President's Day.

On a personal family note, my brother Jon celebrates his birthday on Valentine's Day, and my mother was born on February 26

I will also remember that we attacked Iwo Jima on February 19.

Monday, February 11, 2013

We prepare to attack Iwo Jima

"The United States plans to attack Iwo Jima on February 12.  The island is well defended and many American boys will die."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   I don't know about other crew members on the USS Pickens, but in the radar shack we often listened to Tokyo Rose, mostly to hear the music she played.   Two times while we were on our way to Iwo, Rose had given us dates that she said we would strike the island.  Both days passed without us attacking. Finally, she gave the right date, February 19.

We had spent almost  all of January training our boat  crews and the Marines  for the battle we knew was coming.  On January 27 we left  Pearl Harbor for Saipan, joining other ships transporting  the Marine Fourth Division to Iwo. We left Saipan head for Iwo. Training continued aboard ship as the Marines and boat crews memorized the entire topography of the island, including the beaches.  This paid off when the landings began and the attack was made on the well-defended island.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Enjoyable hymns make a church service great

I don't know when I have heard a worse selection of  hymns than we tried to sing this morning.  They weren't even poetry.  I realize music can accompany prose, but I do not enjoy it.  A great hymn starts with being a message written in verse.  The poem is beautiful and moving even before it is  provided with music. 

I felt so deprived that as soon as I got home I read the great Isaac Watts poem which begins "When I survey the worndrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died."   Charles Wesley, quite a great song writer himself, said he would have rather written this than all the songs he had written. After reading the poem I listened to Andy Griffth sing "How Great Thou Art."  I feel better now even though I may have to listen to a Fanny Crosby hymn to be fully whole.
  1. When I survey the wondrous cross
    On which the Prince of glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.
  2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
    Save in the death of Christ my God!
    All the vain things that charm me most,
    I sacrifice them to His blood.
  3. See from His head, His hands, His feet,
    Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
    Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
    Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
  4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    That were a present far too small;
    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The best Andy Griffth show ever

Episode 79, which I watched today, concerned a "man in a hurry" to get to Charlotte but his car broke down two miles from Mayberry.  He walked into town and tried furiously to get someone to fix his car only to find Mayberry took it easy on Sunday.  Wally never worked on Sunday; Goober was on the lake, and while Gomer was at the filling station he couldn't do more than dispense gasoline.

Andy, Barney, Aunt Bee and Opie were kind to the visitor.  While he paced they were relaxed and sang, including "There's a church in the wild wood."  Goober showed up and fixed the car; Gomer brought it over and told the visitor there was no charge. The  "man in a hurry " got in the car, started it, and then decided to stay the night.  The lesson he learned is there for all of us.  Sometimes we are in a rush, almost a panic, about something that is not really that important.

Probably the most famous line in the episode is from Barney, "I'm going to go get a pop, take a nap, and go to Thelma Lou's." He had his afternoon planned.  (I realize I'm not quoting that just right.)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Concerning New Orleans schools

Complaints about public schools in New Orleans are not new.  As everywhere, some schools are better than others. Let me tell you about an experience I had when I was just beginning at LSU.  A group of us were staying in a barracks at Harding Field because there was no available dorms on the campus.  We had registered and been to one day of classes, including English, where we  had been assigned to write a paper.(250 words for most; 500 for me in an elite class.)

"Come on, let's play cards," this boy called.  I reminded him that we had to write a paper to be handed in Monday.  When he said he had already written his, I got permission to read it.  I was amazed; the paper wasn't even grammar school worthy.  Sentences were incomplete; words were misspelled; punctuation was absent, but worse the paper was nothing but babbling.  I gently suggested that he might want to re-write it, but he said he was pleased with it as was.

I wouldn't use his name if I remembered it, but this I will report -- he graduated with honors from. S. J. Peters High School in New Orleans. He flunked out of LSU after one semester.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Time to trim roses

I should have trimmed the roses a couple of months ago.  They are already starting to put on new leaves so I am removing new growth.  I didn't get much done today; my back and knees soon gave out.  I only have three bushes now having lost two we had enjoyed for many years.  Roses are  the queen of flowers, but they are high maintenance, needing fertilizer and spraying for disease and insects.

Ronald Reagan birthday anniversary

Yes, today is the 102nd anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birthday.  How much we wish we had a leader like him today!  Our  economy is a mess and getting worse; instead of creating jobs we are taking actions that lose jobs; over 8 million are claiming disability; the congressional budget office says Obamacare will force 7 million to lose medical insurance.

Even with the nation suffering, Reagan could give us hope.  He believed this nation was especially blessed by God and we have the ability to solve our problems. Always optimistic, Reagan could see a brighter future for our children. Yes, it would be great to have his leadership, his love for this country, once again.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Daniel O'Donnell - One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus

"He's pretty good"

The pastor and his family were visiting my uncle and aunt and their family this Sunday afternoon when I joined them on the front porch.  Some were talking as they visited and others were playing games like Chinese checkers and dominoes.

The pastor's six-year-old son challenged me to a game of dominoes.  When I appeared doubtful (he had not even started school) his mother smiled at me and said, "He's pretty good."  As we played the child amazed me -- he was quick to call out when he scored, and he scored more than I did. The game was close but I lost.  His mother looked at me and said, "I told you, he's pretty good."

During the time this minister was our pastor, he told about overhearing a church official say this about him, "I don't know why Rex entered the ministry.  He can't preach and he can't sing."   Rex said he wanted to turn and say, "There's more to being a pastor than preaching and singing."

We don't want those dang cars!

Auto manufacturers are complaining that  PEVs are just not selling. PEVs include battery electric and plug-in hybrids and account for less than one per cent of the United States car market.   Add in hybrids, which are selling better, and electric vehicle sales are still only around three per cent of cars sold.

Bribes, in the form of big bonuses of taxpayer money, and threats that the government will force the purchase of  electric cars, just have not worked.  Heck, if you want a plug-in car you can buy a golf cart that uses a battery for power.

The Obama administration has set mileage standards so high car manufacturers will, in the next few years,  be forced to make the cars, but who will buy them?

This business reminds me of the ethanol disaster.  We are forced to buy gasoline with  l0 or 15 per cent ethanol, which adds to the cost and can damage the car's engine.  Ethanol takes billions of dollars from our pockets and is inferior fuel but our government forces us to use it.  That's the way it will be with those dang electric cars.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I am disappointed

Yes, I am disappointed in Governor Jindall and his lack of accomplishments.  Perhaps, I expected too much. Former Gov. Foster praised Jindall so highly that I expected miracles -- including reducing taxes, operating the state with a surplus, improving education, all while making state government more open and completely honest.

What has he done that he and we can take pride in?  As soon as he took office he left the state to get involved on the national scene.  That hasn't turned out well, to say the least.  I will give him credit for trying to improve education in the state; however his effort to provide funds to allow students to leave bad schools and go to private schools has been dealt a blow by the courts.  To improve education we must replace poor teachers with better ones and to do that education departments in our colleges must be improved

 His proposal to increase the sales tax is l00 per cent wrong.  There are problems with the income tax, but Louisiana already taxes low and middle income earners unfairly compared to high income earners. A review of all our taxes is needed; that is a project the governor could take on.

Friday, February 1, 2013

$20,000 for Obamacare health plan

The gifts keep coming from Obama.   That popular group, the IRS,  reveals that for a family of four the cheapest Obamacare health plan will cost $20,000 in 2016.  You can't afford it?  Well, the IRS will punish you with a fine of several thousand dollars.  With our sick economy many people earn less than $20,000 a year. Of course, those on welfare, plus millions of illegal immigrants, will receive health coverage free of cost.

Just released  -- official unemployment is 7.9 per cent.  Who knows how high actual unemployment is? During Obama's first term some 8,500,000 Americans left  the labor force.  Add to that another170,000 who disappeared in January.

I so much wanted to have some good news but now I learn that gasoline is expected  to cost over four dollars again.  People who have to commute to low-paying jobs find that their transportation costs take most of the money they earn.  Aren't you glad we re-elected Obama?