CHANGE IS INEVITABLE

Posted: April 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

When I was in school one managerial concept was taught that has stuck with me over the years. This perception is that change is evitable; man resists change and change usually results in positive benefits. Change sometimes takes a while. In ancient times the same processes and methods that ruled the day-to-day lives of a specific society could take over a thousand years to have significant change. Today this is not the case as change is continually with us; and since man resists change, change leads to stress and this stress is definitely with us today.
Several years ago it was stated that the knowledge we possess doubles every ten years. This is huge and fuels an ever changing world. I have been around a few years, to say the least; however, when viewed in the perspective of the time scale of man my time on earth is a mere tick of the second hand on the clock. Even though this has been so relatively short the changes that have taken place has been amazing.
When I was in the first grade the Russians began to send Sputniks, Russian satellites, in orbit around our planet. By the time I was in the fourth grade Allen Shepard, American astronaut, went into space; soon after Russia sent their own cosmonaut into space. Within a month of me graduating from high school the United States landed a man on the moon. From this space endeavor we got “stuff” such as Tang (from the food for the astronauts), Corelle ware (from the heat shield on the space capsules} and the microchip (from the onboard computers).
We I entered college we calculated complex math problems on a manual device known as the slide rule. I left school, went in the navy and returned to college. In that four years the slide rule was replaced with the calculator. Due to the new microchips and mass manufacturing in a free market economy, math problems were now being processed electronically.
While in college the universities had computer centers that required data to be entered on cards with small holes punched in them. Within three years of graduation, small computers began to appear in homes. Basic games such as Pong and Pac Man entered our lives and Monopoly and Scrabble began to diminish. Today people walk around with computers powered by batteries and have more power than the computers that put man on the moon.
In 1969 a Z-28 Camaro could be purchased for $2,900 dollars. Air conditioning was not available on the model but it was one beautiful car; even if you did burn up in the summer. Today not only does the most basic car come with frills only dreamed of in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s but we are now seeing cars that drive themselves.
I was in elementary school when the first color television landed in our living room. To get the color just right, the color control knob and the tint control knob had to be manually turned. Remote control did not exist. Later this color setting became automated as the televisions became larger and finally the horribly heavy large screens were replaced with super lightweight flat screen television. While the television matured we began watching programs 24 hours a day. Then we bought our favorite movies and watched them in Sony Beta Vision or VHS formats which was replaced with DVD discs which are now being challenged with small memory chips. Of course media coming through coax cable or from cell towers and satellites is now impacting all other methods to see our media.
The list of changes over my lifetime are enormous and I would be remiss if I failed to mention the good ole telephone. As a child and up through my time in college we used a rotary phone and if I needed a long distance call I would call an operator. Then the digital phones came into existence followed by the huge bag phones that allowed us to call without connecting to a phone line. Today the bag phone has been replaced with the ultra-sophisticated smart phone. This telecommunication revolution took only 25 years to appear and mature to what we have today.
Yes, change is with us and it is a whirl wind to try and keep up with all the changes. The best thing to do is sit back, take a deep breath and accept the changes and not try to fight it. Nothing we do can change the path of progress no matter how we wished for the good ole days.

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This will appear in the Farmerville Gazette, Farmerville, Louisiana, the week of June 15th.
Last week I wrote about the Syrian conflict, how Russia was using Syria as a Putin/Russian pawn and how President Trump had some major decisions to be made. Two days after being published, the United States, Great Britain and France attacked three major facilities that developed or stored potential nerve gasses and chemical agents. According to the Director of the Joint Staff of Staff, the strike was precise, effective and overwhelming. Additionally, the strikes were not American alone. Both France and Britain were involved and the attacks came from both the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Gulf. The Arabian Gulf strike meant that the missiles passed over both Kuwait and Iraq. No objections have been made from either county thus complicity between these two countries can be assumed.
Jordan is housing many of the millions of refugees that only want to live in peace, raise their children, make a viable living and be free of war, death and carnage. Many of these refugees are delighted with the attack but despair within the camps is present. Had the United States and the West’s aggressive approach to this conflict taken place years ago, the horrible conflict would been squashed and collateral impact to the free world would have been minimized. These collateral impacts include the rise of ISIS, growth if radical Islam, embolding Iran and a feeling that America was a paper tiger.
Last week I discussed how Putin used the Mid-East like a chess board. The question was asked about how President Trump and the free world would respond to what Putin and Russia was doing to shore up the Syrian regime. Russia had warned America that they would not allow an attack on Syria and made it clear that Syria was a friend. Trump made his move on the Mid-East chess board and did so without regard with reprisal. His statement was loud and clear, “We are here and we do more that spout empty rhetoric. When we speak, listen. We do carry a big stick, a stick that will not be used indiscriminately; but it will be used.”
Apparently President Trump is also a chess player. He did not only make a big move on the Mid-East chess board, he took the step of a master chess player and looked several moves ahead. It was announced several days prior to the strike that what is one of the largest naval task forces to sail from America was enroute to the Mediterranean. The message is clear. America and its’ allies are committed to ending the use of gas in Syria, and everywhere else. Also, it is sending a clear message to Russia that America is not cowering down because of Russian threats. There is definitely a lot of scrambling and head scratching going on in Moscow as they are trying to figure out their next move.
Hillary Clinton published a book titled “It Takes a Village” and identifies how influences outside the family are needed to successfully raise a child . To paraphrase this concept, “It takes a coalition” to have a successful military operation. Three countries led the raid on Syria. Even though a very important part of the raid; Great Britain, France and the United States were not the only participants in the raid. Saudi Arabia backed the raid as did Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Some planes took off from Qatar. British planes were launched from the Mediterranean island of Malta. It takes a region, a region of friends dedicated to a mission such as took place on April 12th that makes the strike such a success.
This strike displayed a remarkable coordination effort. Nothing was left to chance and even the time and date of the attack was part of the plan to minimize any chance of civilian casualties. To those in the West the attack took place on a Thursday evening, Eastern Time. This was actually about 4:00 A.M. on Friday in Syria. For us in America, Friday is the last work day of the week but in the Muslim world of the Mid-East, Friday is their Sunday. So at four o’clock on a Friday in Syria, the probability of any civilian being in any of the buildings targeted by the coalition forces would be very minor.
This week will be very interesting. Mr. Putin, your move.

This was published in the Farmerville Gazette, Farmerville, Louisiana on April 11 2018, two days before the coalition strike against Syria.
If I had an opportunity to bet I would wager that Russia’s new demagogue is a chess player. Furthermore, the Mid-East is a big chess board and the contestant playing Putin is the Unites States while the rest of the world is the audience; sitting there watching but with no desire to play.
Five years ago I began writing about how we had to do something to support the rebels with their attempt to overthrow the brutal Assad family regime in Syria. We did little or nothing and instead of a few hundred civilians dying, the numbers of innocent men, women and children has risen to hundreds of thousands of casualties.
The refugee explosion is costing the world billions of dollars in aid and relief while American Mid-East ally Jordan is suffering from the load of hundreds of thousands of refugees seeking a safe place to stay. At the same time we saw despicable ISIS be birthed, grow into a monster and finally becoming old and dying. As the refugee crisis became critical, Europe opened its doors and many thousands of Syrians sought asylum. While the vast majority are in desperate need, a small segment causing trouble in their host European countries and the fear of terrorist attacks are continually with our friends in Europe.
In the middle of this chaos Putin enters the Mid-East scene and begins his chess match. No one saw him come and he became the savior to Syria. The vacuum in Syria allowed the Russian troops and aircraft to enter the country and aid the Assad regime. Syria and the Mid-East had been void of Russian influence since the end of the 1980s. They are now back and they outsmarted America and its’ foreign policy. To make matters worse, two of our best allies in the Mid-East, Turkey and the Kurds living in Syria, are fighting each other.
Before Russia physically entered Syria, the Syrians were hinting to use nerve gas. Then President Obama placed a line in the sand and said Syria had best not use any nerve gas. Syria did and America looked on and did nothing. Syria had called our bluff.
A year ago with Russia troops in Syria, Syria again used nerve gas on innocent citizens. The response was quick from President Trump and America as Tomahawk Cruise missiles rained down on Syrian air bases. This move surprised everyone, including Russia. A major move for America.
Since then there have small moves as pawns are called into play and knights go out to do battle but there has been no major game moves; until last week. A surprise announcement from America disclosed that the United States may pull all forces out of Syria in September and thus leave the game. We had now done just what the Obama administration had be blamed of doing in other confrontations; telegraphing an exit date. Then shortly after this the Syrians have once again used nerve gas on innocent civilians. Syria has thumbed its nose at the United States while pictures of dead children are broadcast around the world.
The silence from the American government is deafening. Has Russia and its; puppet Syria made a move that has left America trying to figure out its’ next move or is the response being determined at this time. Several things are certain.
1. If America pulls out of Syria and leaves it to Assad and Putin’s Russia, a breeding ground for anti-American and anti-Democratic countries will be constructed and Iranian influence will expand. Syria will become a huge petri dish growing hate and disease as it plans the invasion and destruction of its’ neighbor, Israel while strategic plans for the fall of Europe are devised.
2. Russia denies any knowledge of any actions in Syria. Russia is in sync with everything happening in Syria and has advanced knowledge of decisions to use nerve gas. As a preemptive move prior to retaliation by America and the West, Syria claims that Israel dropped the gas to make it look like Syria dropped the bombs.
3. America has a new National Security Advisor in John Bolton. Officially taking office last Monday, he will not mince words and will have a hardline plan to answer the use of nerve gas by Syria.

 

We live in a wonderful country and this country is made of laws. Many of these laws are derived from social norms and customs brought to America from far off lands or laws that are made to protect its’ citizens from harsh lands that the new immigrants left behind. The beginning of United State law at the federal level was the Constitution of the United States. One segment of our Constitution requires a “separation of Church and State”. Over the two hundred years since the inception of the illustrious document, the Constitution, the document has been twisted and misinterpreted to provide a meaning that is foreign to the original intent. In fact the term “separation of church and state” does not appear in the constitution.
What the Constitution does say is that government shall make no law “respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This simply states that there can be no state sponsored religion such as existed in 1776 in Great Britain with the Church of England or in the Mid-East countries that embraces Sharia law based on Islam and mandated by the government. The Supreme court of the United States has written that “”institutions presuppose a Supreme Being” and that government recognition of God does not constitute the establishment of a state church as the Constitution’s authors intended to prohibit. This is a powerful statement and adds credence to the underlying tone that Christianity and the belief of God did play a part in the original creation of our great nation.
In many parts of our country the courts have allowed a more separatist view and have declared that the Ten Commandments must be removed from government buildings. While these are religious in nature, much of the guidance provided by these religious laws are in fact a part of the legal fiber of our nation. Some of these are founded in the Constitution but many are a part of state and local laws.
The fourth Commandment states, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” This was a mainstay within early America but has slowly eroded with the development of large mega-stores as we grow away from the mom-and-pop stores that formed the cornerstone of commerce. There was a time that stores would be closed on Sundays across rural America. Many towns enacted laws that prohibited working on Sundays while “blue laws”, laws that prohibit sales of alcohol, are found across our country.
The sixth Commandment states “You shall not murder”. The constitution does not make it a crime when committing murder but it does allow states to develop laws that they feel are needed to protect the population. Every state in the United States is quite specific as to what constitutes murder and the punishment for the crime. Though not in the constitution specifically, some murders are Federal offenses and are prosecuted in Federal rather than state courts.
The sixth Commandment is ““You shall not commit adultery”. Like the murder commandment, the Constitution does not address adultery, but the states laws do. The United States is one of a few industrialized countries that have laws that address adultery. Up until the mid-1800s almost all states had some form of anti-adultery statutes. These began to diminish and at this time 21 sates are left with some type of adultery laws; however, they are seldom enforced.
The eight Commandment states, “You shall not steal”. This is widely enforced throughout the country at the local, state and Federal level. Though not in the constitution, stealing is universally adopted as a law that is punishable by its’ society.
The ninth commandment states, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”. Today this is addressed in the court system and there are laws about lying in court and bearing false witness at both the Federal and state levels.
When we hear that America has no religious roots that our country was founded on, it is apparent that this is a false belief. These roots of America are based on faith and while much of this faith is Christian doctrine, many of these principles are also found in the Quran of Islam and the Hebrew Holy Book, the Torah. We are one people living in a most wonderful and great nation.

The history of the world is unique. Civilizations survive for hundreds or even thousands of years living one day at a time. Some change does takes place but major social norms, traditions and policies remain basically intact. Then suddenly something changes within the civilization and a major transformation takes place within that country. Many times, these changes take place in a relatively short period of time; many times over a generation.
In 1978 I moved to Saudi Arabia to work and live. We had a five day orientation before departing America and during this time we were versed in the local traditions and laws and we were lectured on not trying to invoke American traditions on the Saudi citizens while not criticizing their ways of life.
When I lived in Saudi Arabia the only women allowed to drive were American women and this privilege was extended to the compound we lived on. No female could drive off the compound. Movie theaters did not exist except on the compounds where we lived. The Saudi Stock Exchange opened soon after I arrived but only Saudi citizens could purchase stock and invest in the Kingdom. The first generation of drivers were on the roads and this could be quit an experience when driving in heavy traffic or on the open road. The void that separated the West from Saudi Arabia was quit wide.
In 1990 Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and the world changed for Saudi Arabia. American and coalition troops poured into Saudi Arabia to defend the Kingdom; an Army that contained members of all religions including Jews. Thousands of years of abhorrence was cast aside as members of different religions worked together for a common goal.
The war also introduced something else to the general population of Saudi Arabia; the female driver. Women in Saudi could own cars but could not drive them. Enter the United States Army, the Humvee and the female driver. This was a major cultural shock to everyone, including American expats. To see a woman behind the wheel was a true novelty. It was not long before a protest was planned. Many women in Riyadh got behind the wheel and drove around the capital. They were eventually arrested, taken to the police station where their husbands were called and the women were turned over to the husbands. Those that were employed by the government were terminated. This simmering protest has been a part of Saudi criticism for the last 35 years. Last September it was announced that women would be allowed to drive. Not only did this move the country into a more progressive image as the world would see it but it can also spur more internal entrepreneurial investment.
Entertainment is breaking new ground. A New Orleans Jazz concert was held in Riyadh; the first in 20 years. The next open society experiment is the movie theater. On March 1st the Kingdom allowed public movie theaters and CinemaCity, is planning a 20 screen theater in Riyadh. Other theaters will go up around the Kingdom.
The new ruling government of Saudi Arabia is far more deep thinking than just theaters and driving. Last year many extremely wealthy individuals. Some being princes of the Royal Family, were placed under house arrest and charged with skimming money from the government. Billions will be returned to the Kingdom in return for freedom. This is a bold move that promises a more enterprising country.
Tourism was not allowed when I lived there. Only workers were allowed in. This has changed and in 2012 over 12 million visitors had gone to Arabia as visitors. Today there is even a female dive club on the Red Sea.
Probably the biggest change in what used to be a closed country is the sale of 5% of Saudi ARAMCO. Valued at 200 billion dollars, this stock offering will be the largest Individual Public Offering, IPO, in the history of the world. For Saudi Arabia to offer part of its crown jewel, ARAMCO, for sale speaks volumes about the changes going on within the Kingdom.
When I first arrived in Saudi I was told that an aged, very wealthy and very wise Saudi had made the following statement based on the country’s wealth that was derived from the oil resources. “My father rode a camel. I drive a Mercedes. My son will fly a plane. His son will fly in space. His son will ride a camel.” As prophetic as this may have been at the time, this may well be incorrect with the changes that are taking place in the Kingdom today.
It’s amazing what the difference a generation makes.

I love spring. There is so much going on at this time of the year that makes spring such a fun time; for both the body and the soul.
When the first of March begins to pull us out of the doldrums of winter there is an internal clock that tells me it is time to roll out of the slumber that I have been in for the last several months, look up at the bright sky, breath in the pollen that assures us that the plants are repopulating and feel the warmth of the life giving sun as the earth performs the yearly swing toward the life giving star that gives life to this beautiful blue planet.
By the end of March spring has officially arrived and we are being reinforced with the knowledge that life continues. The warmth from the sun has heated the soil and the grass peeks its’ head up and magically photosynthesis takes place; chlorophyll is produced and the brown and drab of winter becomes a bright and inwardly pleasing green. Flowers bloom, trees bear fruit and the soul is refreshed. The animal kingdom brings forth life. Unlike humans, the animal kingdom is on a reproduction schedule and spring ushers in life and a reassurance that a species will continue to survive.
Human history has a way of mimicking nature. John Locke, the religious writer that predated the founding fathers, influenced the writers of the Constitution. He wrote of the State of Nature and the 3rd Treatise of Government and thus his writings helped to guide the writers of our Constitution. For those that are of the Christian faith, a major aspect of our belief structure centers around birth, death and rebirth and it is this rebirth that we are about to celebrate.
Just as winter brings death, gloom and doom to our planet; so did the death of Jesus do the same for the believers of Christianity. Jesus’s presence had provided hope to a people that had been oppressed by Roman rule while his teachings promised everlasting life. At his death the winter of the religion took place. Certainly, there was great anguish as the realization that Jesus was dead swept across the Christian enclaves. Then just as Spring follows Winter and life renews itself, the Christian religion sprang back to life with the rebirth, the resurrection, of Jesus. Imagine the excitement and the renewal in the Christian belief as the religion regained its’ leading light. Spring had sprung and just as new bright green sprouts emerge around the yard ushering in a new year and refortifying our belief that there is truly a future, the prophets and other religious teachers sprouted around the world and continued to grow and spread the new religion.
If a person wants to truly experience the rejuvenation of nature and the good feelings that spring ushers in, go out to a sunrise service that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus and the assurance that life continues. Happy Easter everyone.

Several years ago I began writing about Vladimir Putin and the potential power he could obtain. At the early stages of the writings I had cautioned that Putin was a power to be reckoned with when he first took power. He was arrogant and vain but most importantly he had been a ranking member of the KGB, the Soviet Union’s equivalent to the CIA. During his time with the KGB, the Soviet Union had been a gigantic world power only to crumble to become a shadow of its’ previous power. Putin played on the pride of the former communist countries’ citizens and stormed into power.
He played on the emotions of a populace that had thrown off the yokes of communism to embrace a democratic and free country and a new market economy. Unfortunately the western countries to include the United States did not move as quickly and as strongly as it should have. Many of the Soviet satellite countries to include Poland, the Check republic, Romania and numerous other former communistic countries fared very well. They changed their leadership and governments and have emerged as successful examples of Democracy. Russia, the mother land, had made great strides but it is a gigantic country and there was a lot of work required to move a behemoth to a totally market driven economy while supporting a large population that had relied on the government for the majority of the citizen’s products and services. The change to a government that allowed everyone a new Great Russian Dream just took too long.
Vladimir Putin came to power and offered the Russian people an opportunity to once again lift their heads in pride. He was elected president and he quickly seized more and more power. His KGB roots were growing a dictator. Anthony Bourdain interviewed a key opposition leader to Putin for Bourdain’s CNN show. Before the show could be aired, the leader was murdered in the middle of Moscow and Putin declared how horrible this was and he was personally taking control of the investigation. This screamed of a coverup and of course nothing came of the murder. The West stood by and watched; quietly.
Then as Putin posed for the press shirtless sitting on his horse brandishing his rifle, his army prepared to invade the Ukraine. Of course the annexation of part of the country and the clandestine support for the Ukrainian anarchical puppets of Russia fell on deaf ears in the West and much needed weapons and support was slow coming to the Ukraine.
Putin was winning a war against the West and we stood by and watched this happen. Then Putin pulled a coupe in Syria. As the United States and its allies stood by paralyzed to do anything, Russia sent troops and armaments to Syria to bolster the despicable Assad dictatorship; a tyrant that turned nerve gasses on his own innocent civilians. Russia allied with Iran to thwart American or European influence in the conflict and Putin moved up the ladder as a legitimate world leader.
It is speculated that he is now one of the richest men in the world and all of the wealth came from corruption. He takes a cut on many of the industries in Russia and the leaders of these industries bow to his demands. When one of the richest men in Russia, the head of a major oil company, declined to provide finances to Putin, he found himself heading to a work camp following being found guilty of tax charges. This sent a shiver through the leaders of Russia’s wealthy elite and military as well.
The Ukraine invasion did provide a legal opportunity for the West to do something; financial sanctions. This did not initially curtail Putin from his snobbish interference in governments around the world. His involvement with cyber corruption of the American presidential elections is a prime example of his meddling. When it is all evaluated it will be disclosed that Putin didn’t really care who won the election. His goal was to divide the country and cause internal chaos; a former Soviet practice. Unfortunately, this has taken place on a somewhat limited basis.
Finally the Putin regime has gone too far. When Russia was flowing in money he could influence his military and industrial leaders with financial favors. Financial sanctions imposed by the West have taken its’ toll on Russian coffers so Putin is now turning to more Soviet traditional coercive tactics. His message is clear; “Do not be disloyal and do not defect to the West”. Recently Russia attempted to kill a Russian spy defector and his daughter in London, England. They failed but the backlash to this dastardly deep is going to be immense. A unified West is launching protests and sanctions even more severe as England expels Russian diplomats. This will be interesting as all this unfolds over the rest of the year.