So many times we view corporations as brick and mortar filled with stoic individuals that perform their work robotic style with little care for the human element in their environment. A perception exists of the dollar ruling all decisions and these decisions permeate from the board room to the lower echelons of the corporation. Recently I observed an event that proved this observation to be totally incorrect.
Bonnie and I left for a cruise and were sailing out of New Orleans. The first night we were hit with two misfortunes. It was frigid cold and we had to endure the plunging temperature while sitting outside on the Lido deck watching the second malady of the night; the Saints lost and were eliminated from the playoffs. If that were the only problems encountered, we would be happy.
On the second full day at sea we had left the chill of the arctic plunge behind us and the balmy breezes of the tropical trade winds had us believing that what we had left behind was merely a figment of our imagination. Even the cocky men and women dressed in Minnesota jerseys couldn’t dampen the feeling of bliss. Then we heard the announcement.
“This is the captain”, said a voice with a heavy Italian accent. “We have declared a medical emergency and are turning around to land at Cozumel to deliver the sick passenger.”
The televisions in each stateroom has a channel that shows a map of where we are, our path and speed of the ship. We watched as the ship turned almost 180 degrees and the captain gave it the spurs and headed for the island of Cozumel. I was fortunate to have spent my first year in the Navy on the USS Saratoga, a quit large aircraft carrier. As luck would have it we had our Mediterranean cruise cancelled and we sailed half way around the world and landed in the Philippines. No cost was spared as we cruised the seagoing behemoth at 25 knots. This is 29 MPH. I thought that no civilian ship, especially one the size that we were cruising on, could do anything near 25 knots. I was wrong. The good ship Carnival Dream closed on Cozumel at 25 knots. The captain spared no expense as wide open throttle is burning fuel at a large rate. Also the extra 2 hours going to Cozumel and then back to where we turned around burned a large amount of additional fuel.
After discharging the sick passenger, the captain spared no cost and instead of arriving at Mahogany Bay four hours late, we arrived on time. The captain made the conscious decision to spare no cost to get the passenger into port for treatment and then to increase speed to get his passengers docked in Honduras on time. No stoic stiff collared captain on the bridge of the Dream. Instead a man that put the care of his passengers first.
Another action happened that reinforced the feeling of the good of man. Right after the announcement by the captain the cruise director came on the intercom and asked to keep the sick passenger in our thoughts and “prayers”. Very non-politically correct but very human and very refreshing to have a representative of one of the largest cruise lines in the world ask for prayers.
When the ship landed in Cozumel the port authority was there to assist with the transfer of the patient. Once the patient has been transferred to an ambulance and the ambulance leaves the port, the Mexican port authority is no longer responsible. An official from the port went to the hospital and remained at the hospital at the side of the family the majority of the time they were there. Despite barbs being thrown between the United States and Mexico, the human element interceded and the need for comfort and support surpassed politics.
I passed the cruise director as we were disembarking in New Orleans. He was responsible for offloading activities and had to insure that 3,500 passengers got off the ship as quickly and as safely as possible and then be ready to sail with a full ship in six hours. He had not heard what had happened to the patient. As I passed him I told him that the patient was taken off of life support. Then I watched as he grasped my hand in both of his and with eyes turning red and swelling with tears he thanked me for the information. Quit a human trait.
This was a nice trip but I took far more away from it than the tropical bliss. Thoughts and prayers are with the family of Annice Bayles McCallum, a friend, schoolmate and graduate of Farmerville Hi.

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SERIAL IMMIGRATION

Posted: January 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

Many years ago I was assigned to the Southern Area Projects organization of Saudi Aramco. The department that I was a member of was tasked with designing and building pipelines in the desert that encompassed the great Ghawar Oil Field. One of my colleagues was a very intelligent and pleasant Pakistani – American engineer. He had come to America from Pakistan, got his education and then a green card and then his citizenship. This was a good selection for the United States and was just what a countries immigration policy should mirror. Then some changes took place.
Our engineer was married to a lady in Pakistan. The marriage was arranged and as so many think this doesn’t work; in this case it did. They had a child and resided in Saudi Arabia just as most of the American families did. Since the lady was married to an American citizen she was also eligible to become a citizen. This is only right. The non-American wife of an American citizen should be eligible to become a citizen of our great nation if she so desires. America wants its’ families to be a strong and viable unit.
The problem with this citizenship example and how America allowed immigration to take place soon became apparent. The engineer told me that his in-laws were being sponsored to come to America and live with their daughter; his wife. They did get a visa that allowed them to immigrate to the United States. This raised my eyes slightly but was not a major issue. Then he later told me that they were going to get all types of subsistence; and he thought it was wonderful. I recalled how he laughed at all the “entitlement” programs that ere available. Not only did the fact that American taxpayers were going to subsidize these individuals but there is probably no way that these immigrants would ever be a positive contributor to the United States. This is where serial immigration has become a bad thing. It was meant to keep the family unit together and be a good ideal of a benevolent nation. This is one of the aspects of immigration that needs to be corrected. The belief that a person that has obtained citizenship is entitled to indiscriminately bring family members to the United States must be corrected. There are many people waiting for visas who will be a productive member of society but are not able to immigrate due to many that are allowed to cut in front of the line.
Immigration to the United States is very important to so many around the world. We have such a vast opportunity for the downtrodden and those that wish freedom and a chance to prove themselves. These are the people we want to welcome to our country and allow them to help us build our great nation. After all, if you look back in time we are all really immigrants.

 

 

THE ARLINGTON RENAISSANCE

Posted: January 7, 2018 in Uncategorized

The smallest National Park in the United States is Hot Springs, Arkansas. Located in the Ouachita mountains, the beauty of this town is accented by the three manmade lakes that sit on the channel of the Ouachita River.
The area has a long history of friendly congregation. Hot natural springs pour from the mountains within the park and attracted native Americans to a natural spa. Later entrepreneurs harnessed the hot mineral-rich waters, built bath houses and attracted people with various ailments to Hot Springs for treatment. The medicinal attributes of the hot springs also attracted vacationers that desired rest and relaxation. This brought some notorious underworld gangsters to the lovely town. Most famous was Alphonse Gabriel (scarface) Al Capone. The unique aspect of the mergence of the gangster community was that Hot Springs was a free base. It was a timeout from rivalry and murder and only one gangland murder was recorded. Eventually major league baseball showed up for spring training in Hot Springs as greats such as Horace Wagner and Babe Ruth soaked in the hot mineral water while preparing for the upcoming season.
With an influx of visitors to a location comes a need for lodging and Hot Springs was no exception. Hotels sprang up down town and at a location next to the bath houses the first Arlington was built. That was razed and a second Arlington, sporting 300 rooms, was built and that burned in the 1920s. The third Arlington was built across the street from the old hotel and the original plot is now the Hot Springs Park.
Over the years the Hotel became the focal point in the town. A Presidential suite and the Capone Suite were included as was a grand dining room. The lobby is home to a bar and dance floor that has been selected as one of the best lobby bars in the country. A Friday night seafood buffet boasts culinary delights and on occasion fish is flown in specifically for the meal. The verandah overlooking Central Avenue provides a shaded relaxed point to watch traffic and enjoy conversation with friends.
Over the years nature has a way of reclaiming its own and over time paint fades and cracks. Pipes corrode, and wood trim deteriorates. The Arlington is no exception. Last year I commented to my wife that the hotel was in need of some serious maintenance and was hoping that someone would take the property and rejuvenate it. Then I read in July that the Arlington was sold.
An entrepreneur that had bought, rejuvenated and is now operating a major hotel in Texas and Little Rock had bought the Arlington. That is when the trouble began. The ole boy network in Hot Springs did not want the new owner in town. Someone else wanted the property and the town council did not want new blood in town. The hotel sold in July and the council said that very major upgrades had to be done to bring the Hotel up to code; and this had to be completed by November or the hotel would be shut down. A month earlier and the hotel was fine. A major write-in campaign ensued and the November date was relaxed. Work is now ongoing and is phased in a way that will allow the hotel to remain open.
During New Years I had the opportunity to meet the new owner Al Rajabi. He explained that he was attracted to the rich history of the hotel and the historical significance to restore it to its’ past grandeur. His success in private business since coming to America as an eleven year old proves the American dream is alive and well. He proudly told me that he never took one cent of government aid and feels that America is the greatest nation in the world; something that I fully agree with.
The Arlington is in good hands and the future is bright for this historical landmark. It should be with us for another 90 years.

Iran is the second largest country in the Middle East. It is an old nation with roots that date back to the 4th millennium BC. That makes civilizations in Iran to be some of the oldest in the world. With a population of 81 million it is the eighteenth most populace country on earth. The geography is diverse with beaches on the west and lofty rugged mountains on the east. What makes it even more beautiful is its’ natural wealth; oil. Iran has the 4th largest oil reserves, the second largest natural gas reserves in the world and is the second largest OPEC oil producer. All the oil is owned by the Iranian government. Despite this abundance of pure energy, Iran’s inefficiency in managing its’ economy has led to economic distress within the country. This is a testament to the free market economy we enjoy within America and how capitalism has built in efficiencies.
Iran is not a political friend of the United States nor is it a friend of many countries in the Mid-East. Saudi Arabia has no love lost for Iran and it was apparent when I lived there. The Iranians referred to themselves as Persians and were not to be called Arabs. if you were in Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf, the official name of the gulf between Saudi Arabia and Iran was not to be referred to as the Persian Gulf. Instead we had to refer to the water as the Arabian Gulf. Additionally, religion is an issue with Iran. The country is predominately of the Shiite sect while Saudi Arabia is Sunni. This was the same situation with Iraq, so when Iran invaded Iraq both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia supported Iraq in that long-protracted war.
Iran use to be a staunch ally of the United States. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, better know as the Shah of Iran came to power during World War II. Intrigue followed the new leader. The Shaw turned from being an international playboy to becoming a progressive leader. His goal was to return Iran to the grandeur of a time when Persia was a world dominant kingdom and threatened the free world of ancient Greece. It is reported that the Shah would sit on a thrown covered in gold.
He wanted to move the country away from Sharia law and move to a more progressive country through socio-economic reform. This alienated many within the country as he built a massive army with American support. Some religious zealots were deported. One lived in Iraq. His name; Ruhollah Khomeini. Following major struggles within Iran, the Shah left and Khomeini returned from exile. President Carter reluctantly allowed the Shah to come to the United States where he was diagnosed with cancer. He was not returned to Iran from America to stand trial and this further fueled anti-American sentiment.
I had only been living in Saudi Arabia a couple of years when everything went off the skids for American-Iranian relations. I sat in shock as the American embassy was stormed and sovereign American property was seized and American diplomatic members were held hostage. I remember turning on my television to see the details of the botched attempt to rescue the embassy staff and how the planes had turned inland of the barge I had been on the night before. Nothing has gone good for American – Iranian relations since that time. I heard from men that publicly the Iranians yelled death to America while in private they longed to see the Shah once again. One American told me that that he met an Iranian who told him that when he was a boy he was a boy scout and had to stand with his scout troop to wait for the Shah to come by in the terrible cold. He hated the experience but said that he would stand out thee all day just to him drive by again.
The general population of Iran is not the enemy of America. It is the country’s leaders and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that keep anti-American sentiment alive in Iran. There have been several protests held in the country only to be suppressed. One was in 2009 and another in 2011. They failed without any words of support from the United States. This time is different as the president stated that we have no issue with the good people of Iran; it is the government that we have problems with. He has sent several veiled messages of support to the demonstrators and let Iran know that the world is watching. To date over 1000 Iranians have been arrested, 21 have been killed and social media has been shut down.
It will now be interesting to see if words of encouragement have any affect on this protest and will this escalate to an all-out revolution.

Every January 1st we have an opportunity to look back on the previous year and then have an chance to identify what we want to change in the new year. It is like a time to start anew, a point where we can begin fresh. It is also a time that we make resolutions. The majority of these will be broken within the first month but at least we feel compelled to make them. Every once in a while a resolution is maintained and by the end of the year we can feel satisfied that what we started we completed. The first of the year also allows us to prognosticate; try to forecast what the year ahead has in store for us. This week it is my turn to take a look at what 2018 has in store while at the same time look at my 2017 forecast and identify my wins and loses. I do my forecast hesitantly as I am a born optimist and this will certainly skew my look at the upcoming year.
Last years forecast: “We will be having a new president. That is a given. The transition of power from the present administration to the new administration will be displayed for the press as being tranquil but behind the scenes there will be attempts to make the next four year somewhat rocky. This will not succeed and overall, we will have a successful transition of power and the new president will move into the White House and we will witness a new approach to running the country. This approach being more a corporate management style instead of a political controlled style such as we are currently being governed.” I hit on this. So far this is what we are witnessing. For 2018 we will see the country looking differently at the leadership style of our somewhat unconventional president and America will begin to both understand and migrate accept his style.
Last years Forecast: “The stock market will have ups and downs but we will break not only the DOW 20,000 barrier but also the 21,000 barrier. This will happen when it is discovered that regulations that have been strangling America for many years will be getting removed, tax reform proposals are under legislative change and the EPA will be absorbed into the Department of Energy thus providing a more amicable relationship between energy and environment.” Partial hit on this. The stock market is on track to hit 25,000, amazing! Regulations are being suspended or removed at a huge rate. Tax changes have just taken place and more will eventually come in 2018. The EPA is still with us but has had much regulation authority curtailed.
Last years Forecast: “Unemployment will be at or below 4.5 percent. Also wages will be rising and inflation will increase to 1.5 to 2.0 percent. This will prompt the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates three times at .25 percent each.“ Hit on this. The unemployment rate is actually at 4.1 %. The 2018 forecast will be for an unemployment of 3.9% or lower. There will be a large number of jobs created and filled but the reduction in the unemployment rate will be slow due to people that had given up on finding a job returning to the job market. This is a big win for the country. Inflation rate is at 2.17% and may rise to 2.5% in 2018; however, some of the upward pressure on inflation brought on by a lower unemployment rate will be offset by better cash flow for companies due to reduced corporate taxes. The Federal Reserve did raise it’s rate three times and we will see another three and possibly a fourth rate increase in 2018.
2017 Forecast: “Immigration reform will be going into place. There will be no mass eviction of undocumented workers a.k.a. illegal immigrants. Instead, law enforcement agencies will be stepping up enforcement of existing laws and illegal immigrants arrested for felony crimes will be getting deported instead of going free onto the streets. Workers that are working and performing a service for the United States in a non-harming manner will be allowed to remain in the country on a documented worker program. The wall will be going up by the end of 2017 but it will not all be a solid fence. Many of the areas will be controlled by technology with quick deployment teams composed of Border Patrol agents standing by to intercept the illegal aliens via a rapid deployment model. If a deported immigrant is captured back in the country the immigrant will not be deported but will be incarcerated instead.” Partial Hit. We have not had a major deportation. Train loads os immigrants have not poured south full of immigrants. There has been a major crackdown on illegal immigrants that are breaking laws, other than immigration laws, within the country. The physical wall has not gone into construction but prototypes are being evaluated and contracts will soon be let. Many new border patrol agents have been hired and in 2018 we will see increased efforts to secure our Southern border. Some physical wall parts will be erected and more sophisticated methods of border control will be introduced. The United States Justice department will accelerate its’ efforts to bring law breaking illegals such as MS 13 to justice. The U.S. State Department will put more pressure on countries whose illegals are causing gang related trouble in America.
2017 Prediction. “Syria will still be in a civil war and the refugees who only want to find a place to keep from dying will be plagued by being branded by association of a few terrorist wreaking havoc across Europe. Trump and Putin will come to an agreement to allow a free base zone for the refugees to live. America will threaten to pull out of the U.N. and this will lead to the development of a huge area designated for the refugees in Syria. The camp will be located in Syria and will be funded and supported by the U.N. The Syrian civil war will continue but ISIS will take major casualties as a more coordinated coalition will fight the terrorist organization. ISIS will develop different methods of attach against the West and Internet Hacking will take on a new meaning as ISIS probes the major networks of the world.” This was a miss. The civil war did not end. No safe zone is in place. While America did not threaten to pull out of the U.N. it has now threatened funding reductions to countries that propose opposition to moving the embassy to Jerusalem. While the civil war remains in effect in Syria, ISIS has been greatly diminished and Russia is beginning a pullout of Syria.
2017 Prediction. “Unfortunately, Iranian relationships will get no better and the Israeli/Palestinian situation will have little improvement. I would love to be proven wrong on these issues but see little chance of this happening.” Hit. There will be little improvement in 2018 either. The U.S is now understanding what they signed up for with the nuclear accord and Iran got the better part of it. With the current administration rescinding the agreement there will be no improvement in relationships between the countries. Truth be known, had the County remained status quo there still would have been no improvement in relations. The only thing that the Iranian leadership understands is power and America is not prepared to go to war to prove a point to Iran.
2017 Prediction. “American companies will be finding more value in staying in America and not moving off shore. Coercion by the Federal government plus a better tax structure plus a more agreeable work force will cause companies to bring jobs home while corporate America will opt to remain in America.” Hit. When a company such as Broadsoft announces that it will be locating TO the United States, it is apparent that the tide is changing for corporate America and for America in general. The tax structure changed last week and more companies will repatriate to America.
2018 Prediction. The single biggest threat to the American growth juggernaut will be North Korea. There is no telling what that silly twit in North Korea will do and how we respond to the Korean situation is equally an unknown. My prediction is that China will come to grips with the Korean situation and exert pressure on North Korea to show moderation. An outside prediction is that so much pressure is exerted on the country and Kim Jong-un displays even more bizarre behavior and he is ultimately assassinated.
Overall 2018 will be a great year for America and this will spill over to the rest of the world; but then again I am an optimist.

For the past several years I have been quite outspoken about various directions in our great nation. that were alien to the original principals of the country. These directions were counter to the individuality of the people that built our nation and how various new government actions were actually working to thwart the growth of our magnificent country. Though no actions that were done by the country’s government was vindictive toward any group of individuals in America and while governmental actions were meant to help the country by providing immediate help; the overstepping of government in its’ programs caused societal distress in the long run and damaged the ability of society to advance our country.
I had written about government regulations and how they were strangling the ability of the American to be creative and curtailed the individualism that founded and grew a great land. America is one nation made of people that are fiercely individualistic. We fight together as a unified nation when threatened. We believe in states rights and fiercely defend these rights. Examples of how we view our states rights are how we cast our votes in the various states, how we implement our game laws and of course who we cheer for on a chilly Saturday night football game in the fall. Federal regulations begin with a problem that needs to be fixed to benefit the majority of the country. The problem is that when a regulator walks through the door it is hard to get him out. More and more regulations are put into place and we find that instead of curing a problem, the ever-increased regulations begin to strangle the industries that originally held the problems. The excessive regulations then become the problem and growth is stymied while the working environment becomes more and more stressful as we try to run a business while traversing a gauntlet of paperwork, restrictions and bureaucratic reporting.
Things have changed for America. In 2017 fourteen major regulations that have been repealed are expected to have major financial impacts to the United States. Repealing these regulations are expected to save 3.7 billion dollars in government costs, 34.8 billion dollars in industry costs and reduce paperwork by over 4 million manhours. This is a sizable amount of human labor that can be used and will be used for meaningful work that produces goods and services for a hungry nation. It has been recently identified that 496 regulations will soon be completely withdrawn while another 389 will be suspended pending investigation. This is great news for a country weary from the burden of over regulation. There is one warning though. We must insure that we don’t take too much license to deregulate the country and leave certain important parts of our nation exposed to unsafe conditions or exposed to potential future adverse events.
When the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was enacted there was one blatant requirement of the act that disturbed me. This was the part of the act that required everyone to participate in the program or be fined for not paying into the program. If a person is young with no health problems, they were mandated to purchase the Obama Care insurance. If they did not participate, they would be fined. This is not only forcing people to purchase a federal program but it is forcing individuals to pay the government for something they do not need. This was removed last week.
I have been vocal over the years about corporate taxes and how they have to come down so that American companies to be competitive on the world market. Over the last decade we have stood by and watched as companies have packed up and moved to other countries due to the American tax structure. This is not just relocating manufacturing facilities to reduce manufacturing costs. This is moving corporations to not to have to pay high corporate income taxes. Last week corporate taxes were reduced to a point that America can be more in line with the rest of the world and once again become competitive. This will not be the end either. We can expect other countries to lower their tax base and again in the future the Unites States will revisit its’ tax structure and other tax reductions at the corporate level may become a necessity.
So where will these changes lead our great nation. Will the decreased regulations and tax reductions be a Christmas gift for our country or will this actually be the Christmas Grinch? Next year will tell and then I will see if I end up with egg on my face. Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year. I am predicting a good one for our nation and the world.

 

Every once in a while we run across a speech or a writing that truly captures the spirit of our nation, or an event or a specific period of the year. Then every once in a while we find something that captures the wonderment of all three.
A single question from the innocence of an eight year old youngster in 1897 captured the essence of the belief of a child in an America that was quite simple but yet was quickly changing. As great as the change to our nation has been since this simple question, the response to the little girl’s question is simple yet complex and is every bit as true today as it was when first published in The Sun of New York.
Young Virginia O’Hanlon asked her father a simple question. He told her that if it is in The Sun then it must be true. This prompted the little girl to write the newspaper and ask her question.
The following is the query and response in its’ full.
“Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Vir¬ginia O’Hanlon
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been af¬fected by the skep¬ti¬cism of a skep¬ti¬cal age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not com¬pre¬hen¬si¬ble by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great uni¬verse of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his in¬tel¬lect as com¬pared with the bound¬less world about him, as mea¬sured by the in¬tel¬li¬gence capable of grasp¬ing the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as cer¬tainly as love and gen-eros¬ity and de¬vo¬tion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no child¬like faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tol¬er¬a¬ble this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which child¬hood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chim¬neys on Christ-mas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither chil¬dren nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can con¬ceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and un¬see¬able in the world.
You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil cov¬er¬ing the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the su¬per¬nal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thou¬sand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will con-tinue to make glad the heart of childhood.”
Merry Christmas everyone. Wishing to you that the true joy of Christmas fills and warms the hearts of all around the world during this wonderous time of the year. Yes world, there is a Christmas!