Posts Tagged ‘Farmerville Louisiana’

When I lived and worked in Saudi Arabia I was fortunate to have met numerous people with international backgrounds. One such individual was my Sr Project Manager. He had been a naval cruiser commander during World War II. Following the war he had gone to work for Standard Oil of California, now Chevron, where he worked around the world for the next 30+ years. He told me one day how much he disliked U.S. news coverage due to slanted commentary and bias portrayed by the correspondent. He said the British Broadcasting Company had is right. The BBC read the news and nothing else. There was no commentary. The listener could form his or her own opinion. It took years before I fully understood what he was saying.
The press is powerful and has made major inroads in shaping our nation. Case in point is William Randolph Hearst; the publishing mogul that built the largest newspaper chain in America and used sensationalism, supposition and innuendos to increase circulation. He began building his empire in 1887. He is noted for saying, “A politician will do anything to keep his job, even become a patriot”. The power of the press was gigantic at the turn of the 20th century and Hearst proved just how powerful.
Prior to the beginning of the Spanish American War, Hearst used the harsh treatment of the Cuban citizens by Spain as an opportunity to sensationalize the conflict and thus sell more papers. Published sketches of an American woman being stripped searched by Spanish on the deck of a ship were published by Hearst and infuriated a new nation. It was later proven to be false but in 1899 American was building a war fervor. When the U.S. Battleship “Maine” blew up in Havana Harbor there were sketches published of the ship blowing up and headlines that the Spanish had blown up our ship; thus war was declared. It is now believed that the ships boiler had blown up and not destroyed by the Spanish. When war fervor was running high in America Fredrick Remington was hired by Hearst to insurrection in art. There are undocumented reports that Hearst told Remington, “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war”. Hearst, himself, landed in Cuba with the U.S. Army and had his group of correspondents report live from the fighting. While Hearst Publications didn’t cause the Spanish American War, his biased reporting built up a war fervor in America that made war an easy pill to swallow by the American citizen.
In Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, Man in the Arena, he captured the importance of the power of the press and the care that the press must take to insure truthful coverage. “Of course all that I say of the orator (speaker) applies with even greater force to the orator’s latter day and more influential brother, the journalist. The power of the journalist is great, but he is entitled neither to respect nor admiration because of that power unless it is used aright. He can do, and often does, great good. He can do, and he often does, infinite mischief. All journalists, all writers, for the very reason that they appreciate the vast possibilities of their profession, should bear testimony against those who deeply discredit it. Offenses against taste and morals, which are bad enough in a private citizen, are infinitely worse if made into instruments for debauching the community through a newspaper. Mendacity, slander, sensationalism, inanity, vapid triviality, all are potent factors for the debauchery of the public mind and conscience. The excuse advanced for vicious writing that the public demands it and that demand must be supplied, can no more be admitted than if it were advanced by purveyors of food who sell poisonous adulterations.”
Roosevelt’s words are just as important today as they were in the early 1900s. The veracity of news shows that attack instead of report and the multitude of multi-media comments that hold no rational knowledge is even more divisive to our populace than what Roosevelt experienced. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear or read the news and then let the reader or listener evaluate what is being reported rather than being told how we are supposed to behave when the news is presented to us.

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Several times over the last couple of years I have written about the Founding Fathers and the concept of “all men are created equal”. My interpretation of these prophetic words was not that all citizens of the Unites States are guaranteed a particular life style or entitled to a set of materialistic rewards for simply living in our great nation. Instead we are entitled to an opportunity to make our own way and we are allowed to pursue happiness individually without bias or constraint.
I have, in the past, also quoted an excerpt from one of President Teddy Roosevelt’s speeches that many refer to as “The Man in the Arena”. This is a marvelous speech that espouses the man that attempts to achieve anything in life and the laurels that should be administered to the man that attempts and fails vs the man that sits in the arena as an onlooker yet never attempts to achieve but instead finds it sport to criticizes those that fail.
The actual Roosevelt speech was not titled “The Man in the Arena” but was instead titled “Citizenship in the Republic”. The Man in the Arena is merely a paragraph of a much larger speech delivered in France in 1910 when Roosevelt was returning from a scientific expedition of East Africa that was sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute. I recently read the speech in its’ entirety and was surprised to read Roosevelt’s comments on the equality of man. This speech also addressed other problematic activities we are experiencing today and even though this speech was delivered 116 years ago the content is still true today.
The following is the section of the speech that addresses equality of man in America.
“I think the authors of the Declaration of Independence intended to include all men, but they did not mean to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all men were equal in color, size, intellect, moral development or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness in what they did consider all men created equal-equal in certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This they said, and this they meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth that all were actually enjoying that equality, or yet that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society which should be familiar to all—constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and, even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people, everywhere.”
We are bound in honor to refuse to listen to those men who would make us desist from the effort to do away with the inequality which means injustice; the inequality of right, opportunity, of privilege. We are bound in honor to strive to bring even nearer the day when, as far is humanly possible, we shall be able to realize the ideal that each man shall have an equal opportunity to show the stuff that is in him by the way in which he renders service. There should, so far as possible, be equal of opportunity to render service; but just so long as there inequality of service there should and must be inequality of reward. We may be sorry for the general, the painter, the artists, the worker in any profession or of any kind, whose misfortune rather than whose fault is that he does his work ill. But the reward must go to the man who does his work well; for any other course is to create a new kind of privilege, the privilege of folly and weakness; and special privilege is injustice, whatever form it takes.”
Hope to see you at the 175th anniversary of our community. Ricky Albritton’s steering committee under the auspices of Mayor Baughman and the Farmerville Town Council is performing an admirable job of making this auspicious event a memorable moment in the history of Farmerville.

America went through a tumultuous time in its’ history during the 1960s. Civil rights went to the forefront of America’s interests and was right there with Viet Nam, the Kennedy assassinations and landing a man on the moon. It was a hard struggle and within Louisiana’s political landscape the ability for minority voting was enhanced with the abolition of the poll tax. Unlikely politicians such as Earl Long promoted minority voting and helped to open the doors for those that had never been given the constitutional right to vote.
Segregated water fountains and bathrooms disappeared as did segregated schools a minorities appeared at a quick pace on television and in movies. America had transitioned to an integrated society where African Americans no longer discriminated against in the deep south just and American Indians were integrated into a white man’s world in the West. America had grown up; at least in many quarters.
Many of us had fathers and grandfathers that went to war to fight a diabolical philosophy, an enemy that was committed to purify the earth from innocent men, women and children in a horrid social engineering experiment. The Nazi viewpoint was taken to an extreme and six million Jews were murdered simply because to their linage. Blacks were slated to be on the extermination list as were others deemed to be inferior and sub-standard humans. This was a sad time in the history of the world and a young black man by the name of Jesse Owens disproved this ideal race concept when he destroyed the track competition at the Olympics held in Berlin, Germany with Adolf Hitler looking on.
Many good men and women from the Allied nations never returned from World War II but their sacrifices insured that much of the hatred in the world would be eliminated and we could live in peace without fear of repercussion due to race, creed or religion. This ideal took a long time to be adopted and then understood by the masses. It took a long time after the war to fully espouse the concepts of Americanism; but America has come a long way. Is total equality with us today? The answer is “no” but it is so much better than a decade ago and it will be better in the future decades.
Last week a protest in Virginia ended in tragedy and death as a protest turned deadly. White supremist spit venom into a lovely southern community that is an echo from a time in Germany that saw the goose stepping Nazis terrorize a country and spread its’ hatred across Europe. Actions like this are not a part of our great nation and there is no place in America for this behavior just as marches espousing the killing of police followed by police assassinations are likewise divisive and filled with hatred.
It is imperative that we realize that a few protesters spewing a sick rhetoric in front of a news camera hungry for television ratings does not reflect the majority of any one group. We must look beyond these bumps in the road and look at the greater requirement ; the continued growth of our nation. We must continue to strive to place prejudice behind us from all quarters and place God and country at the forefront.

 

PTSD seems to be a term that has come to the forefront of visibility when discussing war injuries from the Iraqi Wars and the Afghanistan War.  Viet Nam had earlier taken its toll on the young men returning from war.  The mental anguish imposed on our youth from an unpopular war was apparent; however, the nation was not ready to embrace the returning military or the emotional effects the war imposed on many individuals.  Ignore it and it will go away.

 

While PTSD seems to be a recent malady of war, it is in fact as old as man himself.   In 490 BC the battle of Marathon took place.  The Greeks defeated the invading Persian army on the Marathon plains.  It was reported that Epizelus, a Greek soldier, witnessed the death of his friend and immediately went blind without being injured.  Dreams of battle and a fear of night was later reported of soldiers by the physician Hippocrates, the same man whose name is associated with the oath taken by every American Physician; the Hippocratic oath.  While ancient historical documents speak of PTSD, the Christian Bible eludes to what modern military historians and biblical scholars believe to be PTSD.  One battle depicts the Hebrew army destroying a city and killing every man, woman and child.  Upon returning home the army cannot enter their own city until they have had a week of cleansing.  It is speculated by many that this cleansing was not one of the body but instead a cleansing of the mind. 

 

In 1678 the Swiss described PTSD as melancholy, incessant thinking of home, insomnia, weakness, loss of appetite, anxiety, cardiac palpitations, stupor, and fever.  The term used was “nostalgia”.  During the Napoleonic war the term “cannon wind” was used to describe a near miss and later a German writer wrote of his own encounter with PTSD.   Your eyes can still see with the same acuity and sharpness, but it is as if the world had put on a reddish-brown hue that makes the objects and the situation still more scary … I had the impression that everything was being consumed by this fire … this situation is one of the most unpleasant that you can experience.”

 

America experienced the first recorded accounts of PTSD during the Civil War.  When the war ended, towns or states would pin a note on the clothing of the PTSD victim and send them off as being insane or allowed to wander off and let nature do the dirty work.  The term used at that time was “soldier’s heart”. 

 

War was not the only cause of PTSD.  The Industrial Revolution in America saw a vast expansion of the rail roads.  Horrific accidents took their toll on the men that worked in the construction and operations of the rail networks.  The term “railway spine” was used to describe PTSD at the time it was believed to have been caused by lesions in the spine brought on by the accidents.

 

By World War I the term “shell shock” was used to describe PTSD.  The renowned psychiatrist Sigmund Freud was called on by the Austrian government to see if there was a treatment to which he reported that his horrendous electroshock treatment had no effect on the illness.  All armies witnessed the same malady and unfortunately there was lack of understanding of the illness.  Many British soldiers were executed for malingering or cowardice. 

 

By World War II “Battle Fatigue” was identified and methods of treatment were developed.  One General, George Patton, did not believe in PTSD and was relieved of command for slapping two soldiers while in a hospital under medical care.  His referral to the soldiers actions as cowardice was a major black mark against one of the greatest Generals in the American Military.  While researching one of my books I uncovered a letter to the Secretary of the Army.  The letter objected to the treatment of the soldiers and criticized General’s Patton’s actions.

 

We live in a time that PTSD is understood and is treatable and is no longer ignored by a grateful nation; a nation that welcomes their military home from battle.  I have witnessed firsthand the scourge of PTSD.  My roommate while at NAS Memphis was there to be near the hospital following his tour in Viet Nam.  He told me of a truck back firing and then driving off the road onto the beach at Pensacola and then again how he fell to the ground when neighbor children set off firecrackers.  After leaving the navy I entered Northeast Louisiana and became friends with two individuals that never knew each other.  One was a recon Marine.  The other was an Army infantryman.  Both were in school and strived to re-enter society.  Each spoke seldom of their time in Nam.  One thing was common to each; their marriages had failed and then neither completed their education.  Years later when returning from Arabia I discovered that each had another common bond; they had both taken a firearm and had taken their lives. 

 

Thank God for a country that is far more understanding than the past and if far more grateful to its’ returning service men and women.

 

 

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.

 

Theodore Roosevelt, former president of the United States, one said “Speak softly but carry a big stick”.  This iconic statement has embellished America’s resolve to build a great nation full of ideals and advantages for the common man and live in peace but be prepared to defend itself and its’ interest if required to do so.  This man felt that America had a manifest destiny to provide the leadership to throw off the yokes of dictatorships around the world and provide some semblance of safety and security to all mankind.  While Roosevelt was president the Czar of Russia was in power.  The Czar was ruthless and showed little care for the Russian peasants.  It has been reported that Roosevelt had a shooting range behind the White House and on occasion the targets he would shoot were silhouettes of the Czar.

Recently America transitioned away from Roosevelts comments.  Following several conflicts that made America war weary, the phrase changed to “speak softly, carry a stick but let someone else use their stick”.  While this keeps us out of conflicts it also left America’s allies asking where is the resolve to lead that made America such a great nation.

When I first began writing several years ago I expressed my concern that the United States needed to quickly support the Syrian rebels and overthrow the dictatorial Assad regime.  There had been 240 civilian deaths at the time.  Today over 400,000 have been killed.  Then later I noted that the revolution was taking its toll and allowed ISIS to get a foothold in the fragmented nation and later told how the longer we wait the harder it would be to obtain peace in Syria while at the same time defeating the growing monster, ISIS.  We have seen Russia move into Syria and take a lead in the region and eventually snubbing its’ nose at the United States and its European allies.  Then we saw America tell Syria that it would not accept use of chemical weapons on its’ civilians only to do nothing when they did use it.  Britain voted to take no action, America opted to do nothing and France stood by in amazement as its’ jets sat on the runways waiting to strike Syria alongside its’ allies.   The planes never launched and The Great American Mystic was beginning to lose its’ allure.

Last week Syria launched a deadly gas attack against its’ own civilians killing men, women and children with indiscretion.  Men and women that only wanted to live one day at a time and children that only wanted an opportunity to play in peace all met an agonizing and horrific death.  The use of gas in war has been outlawed by the Geneva convention so the gas used by the Assad regime to kill its’ own civilians should have never been developed and stored.  Also, this is not the first time that Syria used gas against its’ own citizens.  In the late 80s the present ruler Assad’s father attacked two Kurdish towns in Syria and used gas to indiscriminately kill the populations.  Last weeks’ attack was nothing new for Syria, it was its’ third time and like the saying goes, “three’s the charm”.

President Donald Trump launched a strike against Syrian air force resources in what is nothing less than brilliant.  First, the attack had to be designed.  That means that details of what was to be hit had to be identified.  Then each cruise missile had to be programmed to hit specific targets.  This was not a carpet bombing raid that would have indiscriminately dropped missiles on a Syrian base.  Instead a surgical strike that placed individual missiles inside aircraft bunkers was launched and only after a few hours to design the raid.  In addition to the precision of the strike the magnitude was surprising.  Instead of a few missiles being launched to send a message, the strike consisted of forty-nine warheads.  This sent a further message that when America launches a raid it will to win.  All this took place within a few short hours.

Had America wanted to take Syrian lives the cruise missiles would have targeted air force barracks.  Instead the causalities were small, only nine dead and shows America did not care to kill but instead destroy planes and missile sites and send a message.   Finally America was speaking softly but proved it carried a big stick and was prepared to use it.

Many criticized Trump for not debating the strike.  While this may be a nice gesture, telling an enemy it will be attacking and giving the enemy weeks to prepare is ludicrous.  The shock factor of this strike was enormous and sent a clear message to Syria and to its’ key ally, Russia.

 

Recently the Trump administration took the “supposed” unprecedented move to ask 48 Federal Prosecutors to resign.  One of the prosecutors had been asked in November to remain and he said he would.  When he was on the list to resign the press exploded with comments about how the current administration was acting so unfairly and exploited the terminations to make it appear that Federal Prosecutors being dismissed is an unprecedented act.  Nothing is further from the truth.

The Regan administration has been credited to be the beginning of mass firings of Federal Prosecutors.  President Reagan replaced 89 of 93 Federal Prosecutors in his first two years in the Oval Office.  This was a large turnover and it was done over a quit long time span.

When President Clinton took office, he had all of George Bush’s prosecutors fired and this happened almost immediately.  Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales had the honor to perform the terminations.

Then it was tit for tat as the younger Bush became president.  He also fired most of the Federal Prosecutors but it was more staggered and only after the prosecutors had been polled as to when the best time would be to replace them.  Of course the political card was thrown into the mix as the Democrats called the Bush Republican inspired firings to be politically motivated.

President Obama continued the post-election purge of Federal Prosecutors.  By that time it was all but expected to be replaced if a person was a Federal Prosecutor and a new president took office.  Generally the Attorney General will request letters of resignation to end the term of the Federal Prosecutor in a respectful manner and not declare that the prosecutor was “fired”.

Newly elected President Trump has followed the rule and has requested that Federal Prosecutors resign.  There are a couple of exceptions to what transpired in the past.  First, the Trump administration has so far only asked for the resignation of forty-eight prosecutors, not all ninety-one.  The terminations did happen immediately with little thought to case load.  Secondly, one of the prosecutors refused to resign and has truly been fired.  It was claimed that the fired prosecutor was asked in November to remain in his position but was later asked to resign.  Of course this made head line news and the “mass firings” were thrown out to an unknowledgeable American population.

While the firings of Federal Attorneys are credited to have begun with Reagan, the terminations have taken place over a much longer time span and Louisiana was not immune.  In 1939 the Louisiana Scandals were taking place.  Governor Leche and two hundred other Louisiana citizens to include the president of LSU were indicted.  Two committed suicide and the president of LSU was extradited from Canada following his flee across the border.   Despite the cases initial development in Louisiana and despite that every trial seated by the Louisiana Federal Prosecutor ended in a conviction, the Federal Prosecutor was not reappointed to a second four-year term.

Instead of sensationalizing the replacement of Federal Prosecutors, wouldn’t it be better to get along with the business of running the country.  Let’s get all the new cabinet in place so that the government can a run little bit smoother.  Let’s get our laws enacted that allow the country to run a little more efficient and let’s quit dwelling on individual tax returns and what the first lady is wearing that was first popularized by Jackie Kennedy or analyzing a president’s daughter line of clothing at Macy’s Department Store.  Running a country is serious business so lets’ get serious about it and lets’ all pull together to get it done.