Posts Tagged ‘BERNICE BANNER’

Over the past several decades the impact of Mexican influence on America has become scrutinized in various conversations. The rhetoric has become ever more loud as some groups call for the deportation of all undocumented and thus illegal aliens while on the other side of the conversation the American border should be wide open to anyone desiring to enter and live in our great nation. A more moderate message that garners a more practical approach is a worker program allowing undocumented workers that perform a vital role in America to remain on work visa’s but who are not considered citizens. Citizenship is not a wholesale right guaranteed to everyone nor does the Constitution of the United States guarantee rights to non-citizens of the United States that live outside the borders of the United States.
While many may look upon Mexico as a country that distributes its poor to the southern American borders in an effort to pass its’ problems to the United States while never providing anything of substance to our country; nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that Mexico provided direct support to our great nation and helped the United States win two major wars. This has taken place since the beginning of our nation.
In 1776 the British colonies in the Americas declared its’ independence from England. At the time of the revolution Spain claimed most land west of the Mississippi. Following the turning point of the American revolution, the battle of Saratoga; Spain, France and Holland joined American in its’ war with England. An army from Mexico that swelled to over 7,000 began a campaign along the Gulf Coast and Mississippi Valley.. Since an army marches on its’ stomach, herds of Texas beef were driven into Louisiana to feed the Spanish army, This was the first cattle drives of this type in America and predated the famos western cattle drives by over a hundred years.
In 1779 Spanish troops won battles at Manchac, Baton Rouge and Natchez. A year later the Spanish forces, from Mexico, defeated the British at Fort Charlotte at Mobile. A year later the Spanish forces captured the English fort at Pensacola. By opening this southern front the Mexican troops held English troops in battle in the south and thus aided George Washington in his victories in the North, This aided in the success for the war for independence.
One hundred and sixty years later Mexico once again provided much needed support for the United States and the free world. When America was attacked at Pearl Harbor Mexico was one of the first countries to pledge support to America and cut ties with the Axis nations. America sent much needed funds and technology to the Mexican mines that produced mercury, zinc and copper. America purchased Mexican oil and Mexico’s newly updated army was supplied with American weapons. Mexican Americans answered the call for the army and an estimated 500,000 filled the recruiting statins across America. Many of these were not born in the United States and were granted citizenship following the war.
Mexico also provided another resource for the war effort, farm labor. With the traditional farm laborers leaving the farms and going off to war, America needed a way to harvest its’ crops. Without this ability America would feel the pangs of hunger. A formal program was launched and Mexicans known as “braceros” crossed the borders to assist America. Following the war they were allowed to stay and seek citizenship. Many remained and brought their families to a new life that promised a better future.
Mexico was instrumental in helping America win its’ war for independence and then followed up its’ support by helping America do its’ part to make the world free for democracy.

 

 

 

Several years ago I wrote an article dealing with the crumbling infrastructure and what has led our great nation to be in an approaching crisis.  President Trump is returning from a very successful trip overseas and will be faced with his first budget.  A major provision of this budget is rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and how to fund this without adding to the country deficit.  With the nation at such a junction in its’ future it’s time to look at the dilemma so I am reprinting the article.  The crisis has now arrived.  +

 

America is the greatest country on earth today. When viewed in the context of world history the last two hundred and twenty-five years has witnessed the most explosive growth and leadership of any country on record. Unfortunately for a country to remain as a leader of the world it must continually evaluate its’ own position and make changes to the way it administers the successes it had achieved.  We are in a crossroads in which change is required if we want to continue our internal and external growth or we will slowly degrade our country and eventually become a state much like the former great nations of Greece, Rome Spain and others that once influenced vast parts of our world. How did we get to a point in time that our past internal decisions are now leading us to economic chaos with an out of control downward spiral?

 

America is a benevolent society. We pride ourselves on helping others that are in need. Do you notice at Christmas the Bell Ringers, the organizations helping needy families, the toy drives and all the other good things that Americans do to help their fellow man? This is no accident, it is America. In the early days of our country’s founding and growth, if we had not had this desire to help each other the early settlers would have found it extremely difficult to manage the harsh new world. It was this inherent desire to help our fellow man that led to the mother marches that ultimately stamped out polio around the world. This desire is still alive and is currently leading to successes in cancer, placing roofs over the heads of the homeless and provides aid to widows and children. This generosity is America and who we are. Probably the photos that best describe our love of man are the pictures of American GIs, dressed in battle gear, helmet on the head and handing the chocolate bar from his C-Ration kit to some hungry and appreciative child in some nameless village that America had just liberated.

 

America resonates with another key word, build. We are a country of builders. It may be the man building the sky scrapers in our metropolitan cities, driving a nail in a new home, paving a new road or building a company from a small business into a multi-national corporation. The desire to build and be a part of this growth is built into our genetics. Our country was founded on immigrants that left their homes and families and knowing they would never return nor see their homeland again, set sail to a new country that would allow a person to attempt to be whatever he or she wanted to be. As long as we balance our benevolence with our growth and manage if accordingly and understand how decisions will influence our nation at a future time, then we will have no conflict. Unfortunately the word economics enters into our discussion and this is where we now have our conflict within our nation.

 

After World War II our service men came home to a new country. We were catapulted from the great depression and later a horrible recession into a manufacturing giant as we tooled our output to become a war machine. Following the war plants re-tooled and America was providing goods that war ravaged Europe and Japan and Southeast Asia were unable to produce. Money poured in and growth continued. The government spent billions on an interstate highway system that would double as landing strips for B22 bombers if their bases had been destroyed. Infrastructure projects such as schools, roads, bridges, dams, air ports, civic centers, plants and a multitude of other projects were happening everywhere. Eventually these were completed and money was filling the government coffers from and expanding economy and money no longer required for building projects. We now had the ability to fund dream projects such as our bold ambition to place a man on the moon. It also allowed us to look inward and ask ourselves what can we do for our fellow man. How can we best help society?

 

With money available at an alarming amount it only sounded reasonable that we expand social programs. This is good in the short run but has consequences in the long run if not correctly managed. Once a social program goes into effect and funding is provided, it is very difficult to stop the funding. Also, the great structures built in the 1950s and 60s have a certain life span. Nothing survives forever unless we may look at the great pyramids of Giza or the Mayan ruins in Yucatan. Our projects were not designed in that manner so we are now experiencing a very fundamental economic question. This question is, do we rebuild an infrastructure that is quickly deteriorating and falling apart and if so where do we acquire the funds. Do we pull back on our great social programs and use that money to rebuild America. Some say add more taxes but that has a limit. Just this week Pfizer announced it planned to leave America and relocate to England due to taxes. Halliburton, a hallmark in oil field operations has moved corporate offices to Dubai. Increasing taxes will eventually cause our downward spiral to accelerate.

 

What our country needs is to take a strong hard look at what we really need and not just what people want. Control government spending and put the money where we get the best bang for our bucks. Take a hard look at where the country should be ten years from now and not how we will appear at the next election.

 

 

 

 

Last week I discussed Korea being a major threat to the United States and any capitalistic democratic country.  It is a conventional military threat greater than any other country in the world today and this threat has remained camouflaged as we have focused on the threats from the Middle East and non-conventional military action.  The military force of Korea as well as all political and economic activities reside in the hands of a twenty-seven-year-old dictator that many consider to be mad while others consider him to be quite sane and smart yet ruthless.

 

Korea was occupied by the invading army from Japan from 1910 to 1945.  During this time Korea launched guerrilla war against the invaders from Japan.  Kim ll-sung was one of the guerillas and he later became the first leader of North Korea.  After World war II a boundary was drawn that divided the country in half much as what happened to Germany.  Russian control was in the North and American control was in the South. 

 

In 1949 North Korea invaded South Korea with the aid of the Soviet Union.  Eventually the United Nation supported army moved north, crossed the 38th  parallel that marked the border between the two countries, destroyed the majority of industrial buildings and stopped at the border with Korea and China.  An armistice was signed and remains in effect today.  There was no formal surrender or peace treaty.

 

Over the years China continued to support the North while America supported the south.  In 1958 China officially moved out of North Korea and that is when North Korea marks the birth of its’ nation.    Kim ll-sung remained in power until 1994 when he died of a heart attack.  At the time the countries was in collapse following reduced support from China and the collapse of its’ largest financial supporter, the Soviet Union.  Korea was in a standoff with America over its’ nuclear program and the stress was too much on the elder leader.

 

Kim Jong-ll assumed power but the stress was still there.  North Korea had a great famine and this disaster proved that the country could not support itself in such a catastrophe.  Then George W. Bush declared North Korea to be a Rogue State.  In 2006 North Korea conducted its’ first Nuclear Bomb test.  In 2011 Jong-ll died and he was replaced by his son and current ruler Kim Jong-un.

 

Jong-ill had planned for his son to assume the lead as ruler of Korea.  What was not planned was his early death and it was speculated that Jong-ll’s son, Jong-un was not experienced enough to rule North Korea.  Many believed that Jong-un’s uncle would act as regent until the child-ruler had matured.  This did not happen and eventually the uncle was stripped of all power, his pictured was removed from all public locations and the uncle was executed.  It was reported that his family members were also executed to include children and grandchildren thus eliminating all trace of Jong-ll’s life.

 

Jung-un used the press to build his power and position.  He was declared as “a great person born of heaven”.  Then the working party declared that “We vow with bleeding tears to call Kim Jong-un our supreme commander, our leader.  One Korean magazine declared Jong-un to be the most handsome man in the world for that year.

 

His education was based in Switzerland where he attended school under an assumed name.  He is reported to have been quiet but not a good student and liked basketball.  This could be a reason that he enjoyed a visit from Dennis Rodman to North Korea.  His attendance at school was not good either and his mentor was the North Korean ambassador to Switzerland. When he returned to North Korea he is suspected of attending a military college for five years.  North Korea is very secretive and very little is known of its’ ruling class.

 

Recently, Jong-un is believed to have ordered his half-brothers assassination in Thailand.  The man has no conscience and his method of execution is intended to serve as a psychological message to any that oppose him.

 

The future is very perilous when it comes to North Korea and even though America would triumph in a war, it would be very bloody and brutal.  Twenty-five million civilians would be caught directly in the fire of the two military giants.  Also, as bad as the North wants to march South the South also want to go North and vanquish the devils in North Korea. 

 

The coming weeks will prove to be very interesting if not disconcerting.

 

 

Last week I returned from a week in Mexico.  A trip to the Mexican Riviera; i.e., Cancun south to Tulum, connotes thoughts of free flowing liquor, dancing and one long party.  While his does happen and can happen almost anywhere in the world, there is far more to see and do while vacationing on the Rivera Maya; another term used to describe the vacation spot of the Caribbean in Mexico.

Anyone desiring to visit the remains of a monumental civilization that collapsed and eventually having its’ massive structures swallowed up by the jungle can easily visit reconstructed Mayan cities.  No less than six city states can be visited via tour busses that pick up the tourists at their hotels.  A seventh set of ruins are available four hours south of Cancun but you will need to rent a car to get to it and that is what I explored this year.  Concerns for public safety on the Mexican Riviera or within the Yucatan Peninsula is a myth.  Very seldom do I take a tour bus any longer but instead opt for a rental car.

Instead of an archeological excursion, a tourist can pick a day for a snorkeling tour.  This includes both salt water or fresh water or a combination of both.  One can board a boat that takes a swimmer to various locations that are loaded with fish and you can immerse yourself in a multitude of swimming brilliant colors.  Or a person can take a tour of one or more cenotes, sink holes that are fed by underground rivers and who’s cool crystal clear waters are a refreshing change to the hot humid jungle. 

Water and/or adventure parks abound.  The Travel Channel selected Rio Sigreto as one of the top ten swim locations in the world while XPLOR was selected as one of the top ten water parks in the world.  Both are within twenty minutes of each other. 

The true essence of my trips to Mexico do not lie with archeological ruins or water parks or viewing fish in their nature habitat.  As fun and relaxing as this may appear, the true experience rests with the friendship experienced with the trip.  While sitting on the pool deck of the hotel where we were staying, I stated that this was really a nice trip.  My friend Jeff Davidson who traveled with us with his wife Dianne said that it is not the location that matters.  It is the friendship that makes it special.  A lot to be said for that.

Whether it is on the back porch with a radio playing while sipping ice tea or going out for a movie or sitting on the pool deck of the Royal Hacienda in Playa Del Carmen, it is the friendship that make that point in time so special.  There is nothing more comforting while enjoying some type of outing than to be surrounding by friends.  There is nothing more sad than to witness an individual, either with or without abundant financial funding, sitting alone with no one to experience life with.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines friendship as “the state of being friends, the relationship between friends”.  The problem with a dictionary term is the sterile definition that doesn’t capture the true essence of a meaning.  I prefer to think of friendship as a further expansion of the word as a “relationship that can survive the test of time and remain unconditional”.   Friendship does not demand continual interaction but instead knowing that someone has your best interest and not theirs’ while you all ways have their best interest in mind and would sacrifice to insure they are taken care of.  In todays’ world “having someone’s back” is a term that expresses true friendship.

While Mohammad stated that, “If you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything”, Aristotle refers to friendship as, “A friend is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.”

 

Over the past several years the primary focus of the American population has centered on the Mid-East and especially ISIS and the revolution in Syria.  Issues in Iraq filled up the remainder of the space in the newspapers.  Of course we have had a presidential election to end all elections and that has filled up much of the space in the papers and on the airwaves.  With all the attention on the Mid-East and domestic politics Korea has flown under the radar.  In fact Korea poses a much larger problem from both a military perspective and a leadership perspective than what is general understood.

From a military aspect North Korea is a formable foe and while many feel that the North was defeated in the Korean war there was no surrender.  Instead there was a cease fire and the line between the North and the South was established on the 38th parallel.  This cease fire has remained in effect for almost 65 years.  Today the North Korean army numbers 700,000 with an additional 4.5 million Koreans in the reserve.  The active duty troops in North Korea outnumber the South Korean troops by 2 to 1.  Logistically the North Koreans have 70 submarines, 4,200 tanks, 458 fighter jets and 572 fixed-wing aircraft.

Until recently there was a deterrent to North Korea moving south and attacking the democratic governed country loyal to America and the West, South Korea.  That deterrent was nuclear arms controlled by the United States located within South Korea.  North Korea has now tested five nuclear bombs and the last test was a bomb small enough to be transported on a missile.  This changes the entire  power structure in the region.  With North Korea developing a missile that could reach the United States we now have a nut  in North Korea could severely damage property and kill American citizens.

The worst case scenario in world terrorism has roads through North Korea.  ISIS and other terrorist organizations would love to have a nuclear weapon that they could get into Europe or the United States and then detonate the bomb.  Soon North Korea will have the ability to provide such a weapon.  Providing a nuclear bomb to ISIS would be a win/win for North Korea.  ISIS would gladly pay dearly for the weapon and then ISIS would do North Korea’s dirty work when it detonates the nuclear bomb.

In addition to one of the largest and best prepared militaries in the world, North Korea has a mad man that controls this force.  Kim Jong-un inherited his position when his father died.  Very little is known about the leader of North Korea; however, it is understood that he did receive two college degrees.  It is also thought that he spent some time in Switzerland in school but under an assumed name.

When he first came to power I had erroneously thought that we may have an opportunity to obtain an easing of tension on the Korean Peninsula.  This Pillsbury Dough Boy looking child-like leader quickly proved me wrong.  He is ruthless with little or no conscience and no regard for human life.  Soon after taking power he had his uncle executed; fearing his uncles attempt to seize power.  He  later had the minister executed by firing squad.  The firing squad consisted of anti-aircraft guns.

America does have a card up its’ sleeve.  All earlier American administrations used diplomacy to deal with North Korea.  While it had an effect on keeping North and South Korea from an all-out war, the North Korean government continued to build a massive military while snubbing its’ nose at world-wide sanctions.  America even had a military ship illegally seized in the late 60s and America had to pay a ransom for the release of the men.  Today we have a new player in the White House and this is certain to have North Korea guessing.  Following a massive cruise missile attack on Syria and then a week later having the largest non-nuclear bomb in the American arsenal dropped in Afghanistan has certainly had Korean diplomats scratching its’ head.  North Korea does not know what to expect from the new administration and that is exactly the response that we want.  This new uncertainty is what we need to keep North Korea off base and questioning what will happen next.  In the meantime, an American aircraft carrier is steaming off the coast of North Korea and several Japanese destroyers have joined the task force in a training exercise.

North Korea is no longer the flying under the radar.

 

Different industries and different products have a definite life cycle that is ushered in with an idea that grows from a seed to a full blooming business only to eventually wither and die.  There are exceptions like the giant Redwoods of California that break with tradition and live for thousands of years.  In our own short life times we have witnessed this cycle with major products.

When I was a teenager 8-track tape decks came into vogue.  A person could take his car into the 8-track store in West Monroe, Louisiana and in an hour and a half you could drive out with a new Munce tape player hanging from the dash connected to four speakers that had been installed in the doors or beneath the dash.  The industry exploded and while you waited to have the deck installed you could scan thousands of 8-track tapes that carried toons from hundreds of musicians.  Later the 4-track tape was introduced and the industry expanded.

As the industry reached its’ pinnacle it was quickly replaced with the smaller and higher quality cassette tapes and the introduction of the Walkman.  Cars and trucks came from the factory with cassette players installed and the 8-track player disappeared.  Then the CD discs took over and replaced the cassettes and today we are watching MP3 players and touch pads challenging the CD industry.

All of this evolution took place over a mere fifty years and we have witnessed this in many other endeavors such as the VHS player to the streaming video we have today; stick welding in industry changing to automatic welding; rotary dial phones to digital phones to wireless bag phones to the iphones we have today;  change is constant and icons of our society disappear over time.

One representation of the American fiber is the good ole News Paper; rolled paper arriving daily or weekly and brought to us through the mail or by a person tossing it from the window of a car in the early morning hours.  Many years ago it was a paper boy on his bicycle making money in his after school job that delivered the news to us.

The news papers was used to light the flame of democracy in our fledgling nation.  Benjamin Franklin was a publisher and writer.  The news paper was the single most important source of information for our country.  It carried stories of war and peace, of entertainment and history and how amazing it was when USA Today began printing in color and we could see images in living hues instead of black and white.

We also found other uses for the paper.  If a dog did wrong then a quick pop on the nose from a rolled up paper could be expected.  Many a read paper found itself lining the floor of the parakeet cage and when winter arrived a rolled up paper kindled many a fireplace.  Yes, the paper had multiple lives in our society.  Unfortunately the paper copy of the news paper is going through a transition that threatens the future of our historical landmark.

Internet and digital publishing are major threats to the hard copy newspaper.  The competition is unique and quit large as we transition to music, books and news available on one small electronic device.  Major papers such as the Rocky Mountain News are disappearing and a list of ten papers that are in trouble has recently been identified.  Leaders in the industry such as the Boston Globe and the Miami Herald are on the list.  How sad as we watch a major thread in the fabric of our nation dissolve and disappear.  But alas there is some salvation and like a beacon from the past the newspaper will survive courtesy of the small town community focused newspapers.

Our local communities in Union Parish are fortunate to have two well-focused papers.  This is at a time that the much larger Monroe paper is evaporating as it shifts its focus on digital publishing while minimizing news in its’ printed edition and at the same time encouraging its’ readers to move from paper news to digital news.

The local papers around the country have been with us since the founding of our country and it appears that these papers will be the torchbearer for the industry.  At a time that we are experiencing technology advances at an exponential rate it is comforting to revert back to a slower time and sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy reading about our communities in one of our local newspapers. The local newspapers are the Redwoods of the printed news industry.  And we will still have something to pop the dogs’ nose with.

 

For the most part America’s judicial system is taken for granted.  Until it is understood how other legal systems function does the uniqueness of the American jury system become apparent.  Trial by jury of a person’s peers is a concept that is a core of American culture.  Although jury duty can be a discomfort to many that are selected to serve, it is deemed by many to be the second most important aspect of civilian service to one’s country only behind military service.  Much of the jury duty practiced in America is based on the English methods that came from the founding of our great nation.

Oher countries around the world are sovereign nations and as such has a right to set their own judicial methods.  While many aspects of their judicial system may be criticized by Americans, it is their right to develop and implement their own processes and procedures.

While living in Saudi Arabia it was very apparent that one needs to understand the laws of the country you are living in.  At the time I lived in Arabia the laws of the land were strictly and quickly adhered to.  If a person was arrested for a crime, say murder, the trial took place rather quickly.  The governor listened to the pleadings of the two legal councils and would decide the fate of the accused.  There is no jury of peers.  If found guilty the accused has one right of appeal and that was to a council in the capital, Riyadh.  If the council upheld the conviction, the guilty person was taken out to the town square after noon prayers on the next Friday (the holy day in Islam) and would be decapitated in public.  If the murder was a large well publicized incident such as the assassination of the king in the early 1970s, the execution would take place in a soccer stadium.  Needless to say, the deterrent to the crime was present and when I lived in Arabia you need not lock your doors at home or your car and crime was quite rare.

England has a very detailed and structured legal system.  In a criminal case a jury is called in a similar manner as American judicial systems.  There is one unique difference.  In America swearing in a juror is performed without a juror’s religious preference but reference to God is made.  In English courts, a juror can swear to uphold the law and render a correct verdict based on his or her religion.

Christian jurors in England swear to God that they will give a fair verdict while Muslims swear a similar oath to Allah.  Sikh jurors, a minority religion in India swear by Waheguru while Hindu jurors, the minority in India, instead of swearing to a religious leader swear on the Gila, the Hindi religious scripture.  Individuals that do not swear such as atheists, agnostics, and Christians who do not swear oaths, such as Quakers, Moravians, and Jehovah’s Witnesses can instead declare and affirm that they will deliver a fair verdict.  Another uniqueness of English courts as compared to American courts is how to handle jurors that become sick, die or have to be excused.  In American courts 12 jurors are seated and two alternates are also seated in case members from the original 12 can not finish the trial.  In English courts the jury is also 12 members but there are no alternates and the trial will continue until a minimum of 8 jurors are left.

It would be only right at this time of the year to look at another trial and observe the jury that was used to find a person guilty of treason.  Actually it was two trials; one religious and one based on the laws of a conquering country.  Two thousand years ago Jesus was arrested by the Jewish leaders and was placed on trial for claiming to be the King of the Jews.  He was taken to the Sanhedrin, an ad hoc religious body that consists of priests and scribes.  Following this trial he is taken to the Roman court where it is requested that Jesus be tried for claiming to be the King of the Jews which would be construed as treason to the Roman government.  Following debate Pilot allowed the people of Jerusalem to choose Jesus’s fate.  The date of the trial was the Jewish Passover and the Roman leader could release one guilty individual so Pilot allowed the throng in Jerusalem to become a type of jury, a sort of mob court.  Instead of releasing Jesus the mob jury released a murder by the name of Barabbas.  The Roman leader accepted the fate based on the jury.  The rest is history.