THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE FARMERVILLE GAZETTE THE WEEK OF 12/9/2018
Last week a grateful country buried a noble president. I do not recall the genuine outpouring of love and respect for any presidential funeral as we witnessed over the national period of mourning as we saw for President George H.W. Bush. Yes there were some that took the opportunity of the moment to bring up and benefit their own personal political agendas instead of holding the moment respectful. Despite feuds on the “View” and derogatory comments from liberal Northwest press, America took such bold moves as to shut down the American stock markets and mail delivery in honor of George H.W. Bush.
Bush felt that a person should take whatever they are doing very seriously but do not take themselves so serious. The goal is the important aspect and the leader should reside in the background while giving credit to those that performed the day to day tasks. This characteristic of President Bush was apparent in his term as the 41st President of the United States.
In 1989 Bush took the oath of office for the presidency. That same year the Berlin wall came tumbling down as the Soviet Union dissolved. Two years later the Soviet Union formally disbanded, the flag of the USSR was lowered over the Kremlin to be replaced with the flag of Russia and the Cold War was over. At that time a leader of the United States had two options to publicly portray. He could have thrown out his chest, extoled the superiority of the United States and degraded the ability of the USSR to survive. No better way to alienate the former USSR and make it question its’ decision to break apart. In contrasts, the president could have taken a more philosophical and respectful approach to the Soviet Union. This would allow bridge building and instead of humiliating a proud people, America could build a strong ally to move the world into a better place to live. This was the approach that Bush took. There was no gloating and America reached out with aid and education to help the former Soviet Union. Countries such as Poland flourished and are now strong allies of the United States, great trade partners and appreciate the ability to live free.
President Bush’s biggest international accomplishment was the coalition he built to oust Iraq from the country it invaded, Kuwait. It was enormous to build this army from improbable allies. A coalition of thirty-three countries; many from unlikely allies that saw diverse armies such as Syria, former communist Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland, and tiny Senegal; all fought together to free Kuwait. Not only did the formation of this massive army require great leadership and fortitude but the brinkmanship to solidify this alliance prior to and during the Gulf War was nothing short of amazing. This is testament to Bush’s earlier experience as a Navy pilot, United Nations Ambassador, de facto Ambassador to China and then director of the Central Intelligence Agency. It is unclear if any other President could have pulled off such an extraordinary feat in such a short amount of time. Even Bush had reservations as the clock ticked toward military action. It was his close friend and military ally, the iron lady of England, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that brought him back into focus and provided words of wisdom; “Now George, don’t go wobbly kneed on me”. The most amazing war effort since World War II took place and the president quietly stood in the background and allowed his generals to receive the lion’s share of the spotlight.
Next week we will look at the details of what President Bush did to insure Saddam did not walk out of Kuwait unscathed and how he held the coalition together during the war. Then we look at what beat this noble gentleman in his re-election bid.

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THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE BERNICE BANNER, BERNICE, LOUISIANA THE WEEK OF 12/3/2018
There is much happening in our world during this Holiday period. We lost a great leader, the chance of a debilitating trade war has been placated for a while, France is having riots due to its’ centralized socialistic style of government and there is a genuine reason to have an 8-game college playoff instead of the current 4-game standard. So much to write about but all is being cast aside to make space for the wonderful time of the year that we call Christmas.
We talk about political correctness and the war on Christmas. Our nation has been bombarded with the attack on anything religious or attacks on one religion by members of another religious group. We speak of this as if it is a new development within our great nation. In fact it has been with us for decades but men of moderation and leadership have addressed this in a tone of love that addresses the true meaning of Christmas.
In 1981 President Ronald Reagan gave his Christmas speech; a speech that broke with political correctness and personified the strength that build our great nation. This speech follows.
“Good evening.
At Christmas time, every home takes on a special beauty, a special warmth, and that’s certainly true of the White House, where so many famous Americans have spent their Christmases over the years. This fine old home, the people’s house, has seen so much, been so much a part of all our lives and history. It’s been humbling and inspiring for Nancy and me to be spending our first Christmas in this place.
We’ve lived here as your tenants for almost a year now, and what a year it’s been. As a people we’ve been through quite a lot — moments of joy, of tragedy, and of real achievement — moments that I believe have brought us all closer together. G. K. Chesterton once said that the world would never starve for wonders, but only for the want of wonder.
At this special time of year, we all renew our sense of wonder in recalling the story of the first Christmas in Bethlehem, nearly 2,000 year ago.
Some celebrate Christmas as the birthday of a great and good philosopher and teacher. Others of us believe in the divinity of the child born in Bethlehem, that he was and is the promised Prince of Peace. Yes, we’ve questioned why he who could perform miracles chose to come among us as a helpless babe, but maybe that was his first miracle, his first great lesson that we should learn to care for one another.
Tonight, in millions of American homes, the glow of the Christmas tree is a reflection of the love Jesus taught us. Like the shepherds and wise men of that first Christmas, we Americans have always tried to follow a higher light, a star, if you will. At lonely campfire vigils along the frontier, in the darkest days of the Great Depression, through war and peace, the twin beacons of faith and freedom have brightened the American sky. At times our footsteps may have faltered, but trusting in God’s help, we’ve never lost our way.
Just across the way from the White House stand the two great emblems of the holiday season: a Menorah, symbolizing the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, and the National Christmas Tree, a beautiful towering blue spruce from Pennsylvania. Like the National Christmas Tree, our country is a living, growing thing planted in rich American soil. Only our devoted care can bring it to full flower. So, let this holiday season be for us a time of rededication.”

America’s political world is definitely a circus.  While we think this is new to our political culture, the politics of Louisiana’s 1920s and 1930s discloses a political world that was just as wild and crazy.

In National Treasures the hero put together a set of puzzles that led to the massive Templar treasure. In “I Called Him Grand Dad” the author discovered letters that pieced together unknown parts of LA and USA politics in the 1920s and 30s.
Harvey G. Fields was a four-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention and in 1945 he was asked to be a member of the rules committee for the convention. He was a lawyer, elected as alderman of the town of Farmerville, then elected state senator and then district attorney. In 1924 he traveled to Tennessee to watch two friends battle over the right to teach evolution in school. It was there that he chastised Clarence Darrow for perpetuating a hoax in his defense of John Scopes. That same year he became head of the Louisiana Democratic Central Committee. In 27 he became a law partner of Huey Long and in 28 he assumed Long’s seat on the Louisiana Public Service Commission when Long became Governor. In 32 he became chairman and in 36 he was appointed Federal Prosecutor for the Western Region of Louisiana and in 39 he prepared the case that lead to the famous Louisiana Scandals which sent a standing governor and 200 others to prison.

When his personal papers were discovered it plugged gaps in history that never would have been filled had it not been for the painstaking care given to the papers at the time of his death. Names such as Long, Roosevelt, Farley, Leche, Sinclair and numerous Louisiana Senators and Congressmen and Southern Governors as well as historical figures across the South are found in the signature blocks of the correspondence. The book has received several favorable reviews.

You can discover how Fields and Roosevelt worked together to get the Huey Long delegation seated instead of the normal delegation represented by the Ole Regulars of New Orleans. Fields had a natorious fight witjh Carter Glass on the convention floor to finally succeed in this seating. In exchange for Roosevelts support, the Long delegation supported the Al Smith nomination for President. Roosevelt was his campaign manager and later abandoned Smith for his own run for President You will understand how Fields used the power of the press to insure that the Roosevelt favored Governor Leche administration was brought to justice and thus led to the Louisiana Scandals. See how a man’s drive for what is just and right ultimately led to his downfall.

The book, “I Called Him Grand Dad. The Lost Political Papers of Harvey G. Fields”, is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble and would make a good addition under the Christmas Tree for that special person who loves to read about the true inside workings of the traumatic history of both Louisiana and National politics in the 1920s and 30s.

The discovered political papers were donated to LSU and are now on display in the Reading Room of the Hill Memorial Library.

Book reviews can be found at Amazon.com.

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE FARMERVILLE GAZETTE THE WEEK OF 12/12/2018
We are in a time of giving, of cheer, of love for one another; its’ Christmas! Every once in a while, America receives a Christmas gift and it is a welcome package indeed. A gift filled with hope, love and wisdom yet non-assuming or boastful and a gift that expects nothing in return. This gift is purchased by America on election day and is delivered in January on inauguration day.
Ironically, in the middle of our current Christmas Season, we lost one of our gifts; former President of the United States, George H.W. Bush died.
President Bush left America a legacy that we should all be proud of and a legacy that anyone wishful of public service should aspire to. He was raised in an affluent family but unlike a recent liberal obituary that marked him as being a member of the “patrician class”, he was anything but that. His fiber was like the oak that built America, not the pithy pulp of entitled Americans that watch America grow instead of being a part of it.
He came to manhood during World War II. In 1942 he turned eighteen during the darkest moments of the conflict and could have easily sat out the war reading the annals of our brave fighting men. Instead he wanted to fly, so he enlisted in the Navy and became a pilot; the youngest fighter pilot in the navy. At twenty he was shot down over the Pacific and became the youngest pilot to bail out of a combat-crippled plane. Fortunately, he was floating toward a Japanese controlled island before being rescued by an American submarine. This is the same island where the Japanese commander would take prisoners, execute them and consume their livers.
Following the war Bush married and attended Yale. Instead of settling into a comfortable life in the Northeast after graduation, he took his family and moved to the hot and dry West-Texas plains. Eventually he started his own company and in 1953 he co-founded Zapata Petroleum which began drilling the massive Permian Basin.
Bush ran for and lost the Texas Senate seat in 1964. Then in 1966 he won the House of Representatives seat and quickly caught the eye of President Richard Nixon. Nixon placed Bush on the powerful Ways and Means Committee where he voted to abolish the draft and voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1968; a bill that was unpopular in his Texas district at the time. Nixon later talked Bush into again running for the Senate. Bush lost but Nixon appointed him as the Ambassador to the United Nations. Bushes understanding of world affairs and politics was steadily growing.
In the middle of the Watergate scandal, Nixon asked Bush to take over control of the Republican National Committee, which he did. Following Watergate, President Gerald Ford, appointed Bush to become the head of the United States Liaison office in China. After fourteen months in China, Bush became the Director of the CIA. He now had a worldly view of our planet and how it worked. In 1980 George Bush became President Ronald Reagan’s Vice President and remained in the position for eight years. Then in 1988 George H. W. Bush became possibly the most qualified President of the United States. He did no view himself as the most important person in the world but did look at his job as the most important on the globe. He once said, “I don’t think it’s healthy to take yourself too seriously. But what I do take seriously is my responsibility as President to all the American people.”
Next week we will take a look at his major accomplishments as a president, his role in Desert Storm and look at a man that raised six children while being totally committed to service for his country.

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE BERNICE BANNER THE WEEK OF 11/25/2018
Vince Lombardi said that “Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing” while Knute Rockne said “Show me a gracious loser and I’ll show you a failure.” While these and other platitudes are a part of our culture and words I have lived with most of my life, I am discovering that there is another side to this story; one whose teachings are just as important as winning at all costs.
Last week I watched two football games. Both were monumental contests. Both of the teams that I was rooting for lost. While there was so much disappointment on the field and in the stands, a person could not be prouder in the effort that both teams showed while going down in defeat. While we teach our children about being a good sport in winning we should also take an opportunity to teach our youth how to handle failure. When a person puts out a major effort to accomplish a goal yet fails, this failure can become a legitimate character builder. We can learn as much through losing as we do through winning even if it does feel so much better to win.
On Friday night our Union Parish Farmers were eliminated from the state playoffs. There was nothing to be ashamed of as the team left everything on the field and while the occasional comment about a bad call or a bad play had cost Union the game, the bottom line is that the game is over and it best to look forward than to dwell on the past. On the show “Shark Tank”, Marc Cuban told a contestant “It’s not how many time you get knocked down; it’s how many time you get back up”. What a great lesson for our young men that lost last Friday. Another platitude that should be exercised when talking to players that lose is, ““Win without boasting. Lose without excuse.”
Last Saturday the country was treated to a college football game of epic proportion as our LSU Tigers took to the field. Straight from the annals of the gladiators in the Roman Coliseum, the game became a marathon contest that eclipsed records of scoring and duration of play. The day after the game that saw our Tigers come up short I heard people talk of being so stressed that their body ached while others wished the game to end just to get the players off the field, regardless of the outcome. If ever there was a character builder it would be a battle such as this. The true measure of the team and the individual players will come over the next weeks as they prepare for and play in a post-season bowl game. One maxim that addresses the loss states, “There is nothing in this life that can destroy you but yourself. Bad things happen to everyone, but when they do, you can’t just fall apart and die. You have to fight back. If you don’t, you’re the one who loses in the end. But if you do keep going and fight back, you win.”
When I wrote my first book I was told that I would discover that it is easier to be a critic than an author. It is easier to criticize than it is to attempt to do something in life. Theodore Roosevelt was a soldier who won the Congressional Medal of Honor, a great author that penned thirty-five books, a great negotiator and peace maker that won the Nobel Peace Prize and was a politician that was the 26th president of the United States. He summed up the praise that belongs to the individual that dares to attempt to accomplish a goal yet falls short of obtaining that goal. This speech is known as the man in the arena,
“It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Two things are certain when it came to the losses last week. First I will have my season tickets and will be in the stands next fall to cheer on our Union Farmers and I will be in my seat at home on January 1st rooting for my LSU Tigers. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE FARMERVILLE GAZETTE THE WEEK OF 11/25/2018
Every year fall brings the change of the season from bright days and summer fun to cool evenings, shortened daylight and changing leaves. As one approaches November a special feeling begins to envelop the individual like a fog rolling over the body. More smiles are noticed and people seem to want to help each other with a little more vigor. Christmas is on the horizon and the Christmas spirit begins to fill the inner soul of the body. Unfortunately for various reasons some find it harder and harder to get into the Christmas spirit. There are several suggestions that can help a person get out of that pre-season funk and get into the spirit of the season.
Ignore crows and celebrate the real reason for the Season; the birth of Jesus Christ. Don’t listen to the nay-sayers that relish in the negative and proclaims that Jesus is dead or builds on the theme that there is a war on Christmas and thus the sky is falling. The sky is not falling and for those that proclaim that there is no reason for the season you do not need their petty lives to be considered in the Christmas discussion. Enjoy the quiet and relish the nostalgia that Christmas brings.
Decorate the home. Put up a tree and decorate it in a manner that brings back memories of Christmas past. Don’t forget the lights and burn scented candles and incense that brings the senses of the season into the home.
Get the music going. It doesn’t matter if it is Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas”, Kelsea Ballerini singing the same song seventy years later or any other carol in between, crank up the volume and get in the Christmas spirit. The first Christmas carol began in 129 A.D. but the development of carols around Europe really got started in 760 A.D. for the Greek Orthodox Church. Christmas carols are part of our DNA.
If you really want to get into the Christmas spirit in a way that you remember from childhood; read the story of Christmas. Pull out the Bible and go to Luke 2:1-20 and indulge yourself in the story that got all this started. Do this early in the season and reflect on the birth of Christ and the real reason for the season. Then if you want to get a real Christmas high, read it again; but this time to a child or children on Christmas eve.
Christmas is intended to be the time for giving so go out and give. It doesn’t have to be big grandiose gifts filled with glitz and glamour. Small simple gifts that are symbolic for the time makes it special. Also, the gift of food or clothing to someone you never met can make you feel quite warm inside. It has been said that it is better to give than to receive and there is no better way to experience this than at Christmas. Whether its’ buying a bag of food for the needy at the local grocery store, purchasing a toy for a needy child’s Christmas, sending a Christmas box to the Navajo in New Mexico or dropping money into a Salvation Army kettle; the good feeling of giving a Christmas gift is simple and easy.
Share Christmas service at a local church with friends and family and enjoy the special moment.
Drive around the town to see Christmas decorations and observe what residents want to share with you. Enjoy the evening and bring a small child with you. Share stories of Christmas past.
Greet friends, strangers and store clerks with “Merry Christmas”. Consider this to be your opportunity to protest the “politically correct” Christmas greeting that many stores mandate their clerks to observe. There is no “Happy Holidays” in my vocabulary, it has always been “Merry Christmas.”

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE BERNICE BANNER THE WEEK OF 11/19/2018
For several years we have seen the erosion of Christmas as a religious holiday as retail stores have struggled to find a common ground between the significance of Christmas in our society while being being politically correct. It has been agonizing to watch some of the biggest corporations in the retail world cower down to external pressure to wipe the religious significance of our holiday from the country’s landscape.
Sam Houston said, “Do right and risk the consequences”. Perhaps this is a message for all of us when it comes to Christmas and the message the holiday should convey. Fortunately, the largest retailer in the world has taken a more classical view of the holiday and “Christmas” is re-entering the store in a refreshing renewal of our country’s traditions.
Every year I enjoy walking through the Christmas section of different stores to see what is being offered for the season. The Nativity scenes have all ways been a draw and Bonnie and I have sets dating back to the ten-cent plastic set from the drug store in the 1950s to a handmade olive set we bought in Saudi Arabia that was carved in “Palestine”. Over the last ten years Nativities, wrapping paper and other religious items have disappeared from the shelves. I have been quite vocal over this evaporation of Christmas value from our store shelves. Last year the local WalMart placed a few Christmas significant items on the shelf and this move was refreshing.
This year we are seeing an increase in Christian based items on our local WalMart shelves. Various nativity sets ranging from Peanuts characters to large individual pieces that can be used to build your own individual nativity to Christmas paper that actually say Merry Christmas can be found. A bold yet correct move for a company that was originally founded in the deep fundamental hills of Arkansas. Even our Family Dollar store carried some items that display the true meaning of Christmas.
If a person feels that it is not in their best interest to celebrate Christmas, that is their option and the United States government does not mandate that this celebration is mandatory. That person is still fortunate enough to enjoy the benefits of the holiday; time off, Christmas bonus if the company he works for has one, parties and other benefits of the season. What that person is not entitled to is a right to disrupt the celebration of the season by the people that the United States had proclaimed the holiday for.
When I lived in Arabia there were two prominent Muslim holidays. The Christians that lived and worked in Saudi Arabia were never forced or even encouraged to celebrate the holidays as a Muslim would do but we were given the holidays off just as everyone was allowed. The one thing we never did was to criticize the holiday and in no uncertain terms would a Westerner protest and demand that the Holidays be banned of religious significance since it offended many of the workers. Perhaps this is the message that should be provided during the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. “Enjoy the time of the year, participate with us, you can celebrate in your own way or not celebrate at all, and above all else do not interfere with our celebration of the reason for the season”.
Wising everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving and please think of those have lost so much in the recent hurricane in Florida and the forest fires in California. As we move into our Christmas Season, take time to enjoy the happiness around us; its’ a pretty good feeling.