Posts Tagged ‘farmerville’

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

 

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Last week America experienced, once again, a horrific act of violence perpetrated on innocent youth of our nation. Broward County, past famous for the strong impact in presidential elections, is now at the center of this horrific act of childhood genocide. There have been several factors that were in place that allowed this violence to take place.
Immediately a scream for gun control was launched by the Democrats. This is the key note address from the liberals and the feeling is that if we have gun control we have won the war and the American world becomes a pure sweet land where there is no more violence and we all live in this utopic home where violence disappears.
If a law was enacted tomorrow banning all guns in the United States and thus guns sales were completely stopped, gun manufactures closed their doors and all guns in all gun shops are confiscated and melted down there would still be no effect on the use of guns in violent crimes. It is estimated that today we have between 270 and 310 million guns in the hands of the general population of America. The American defense forces of the United States of America has 2 million seven hundred thousand weapons at its’ disposal; ten percent of what is in the hands of civilians. Law enforcement has 1.15 million arms in use today. The reason for this comparison is to identify the massive amount of weapons that are in America today and the absurdity of thinking America can be disarmed by stopping all gun sales. If all sales were suddenly stopped the guns for potential and active criminals are still available. What we do need is an in-depth background check on all gun sales and not allowing sales to those deemed mentally challenged or those that are convicted felons.
Unfortunately what the main issues we see today are results of our society and while schools have a major impact on the education of our children it is not the most important focal point in the development of our youth. When I was growing up the family was the core of training and it was there that values and moral rights were infused into the child. The child went to school and it was there that they were educated while at the same time learning respect for country while being introduced to social interaction and discipline. If a child did wrong he or she was punished. If a child did real bad he received corporal punishment; at least the male did as females would not be and should not be touched. If a child received a spanking at school and the parent heard about it the child could expect a second spanking when he got home.
Today so many of the children in our country have parents that want to be a friend and not be a teacher or a mentor. Parents are not taking the tough road to child rearing and instead of having the adolescent work for what they get the parent sees their role as an enabler to ensure that the child receives what they want and not what they deserve. This is not to ridicule the role of the parent in today’s world. The parent thinks they are doing what is right to let the child feel loved and materialistically fulfilled. One result of this type of child fulfillment is displayed when the child has children of their own and they are incapable of raising their own off spring. So many times we see the grandparents becoming the parents of a second generation. How unfair that these adults are forced to raise the children of their children.
When growing up a person could walk through the parking lots of our schools in the deep south and at least one gun was hanging in a gun rack in the back window of the truck. No one took notice. Let that same person drive down main street, pass a police officer and all the driver received would have been a friendly wave from the police officer. This youth that owns the weapon grew up understanding the power of the gun and how to use the gun and most importantly when the weapon should be used and when it should never be used.
During my childhood gun violence was rampant on television. Every western displayed someone being shot while “cop and robber” shows always had a shoot out between police and the bad guys. I remember the country being warned that violence on television would lead to violent behavior in the real world. People would say that in true war people don’t get up after being shot, brush themselves off and go home. Today it is even worse. Video games not only allow a person to observe but now empowers a person to participate in the actual killing without seeing the actual consequences of the action of killing.
The world is drastically changed today from a far more innocent and simpler way of life we experienced in the 50s and 60s. Instead of a rural America we have grown into an urban America where instant gratification is a way of life. Next week we’ll look at other underlying factors that have lead to horrific acts we see today. In the mean time let’s be more understanding on the “gun only” mentality as a cure for violence that grips a nation when we see such gut wrenching events as we have just witnessed.

 

 

 

America had the seeds of democracy planted two hundred and forty-one years ago.  Following the penning of the Declaration of Independence the Constitution of the United states was written.  It was not until 1788 that the document we know as the Constitution was ratified.  Three years later in 1791 the Constitution was amended with ten constitutional amendments that are referred to as the Bill of Rights.  These amendments have now expanded to consist of twenty-seven amendments.

 

The first amendment is one of the most far reaching and impacting pieces of legislation that has ever been produced in the history of man.  This small set of words has the influence to guarantee freedoms to the citizens of our great nation and these freedoms originate as part of the Constitution of the United States.  This is a remarkable development in democracy that had never been attempted before.  This amendment, the First Amendment, prohibits Congress from obstructing the exercise of certain individual freedoms: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition.

 

The Congress of the United States made it certain that freedom of speech is not to be curtailed by the government.  It is written that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.”   As much as freedom of speech and the right to descent is a right given to the citizens of the United States there are limits that must be maintained to insure equal justice.  When a person is invited to speak at a public forum this person is allowed by the constitution to address those that attend the speech.  Today many attend the speech and instead of allowing the speaker to address the mass the speaker is jeered and in many cases forced to leave the podium.  The rowdy thugs that disrupt speeches and gatherings wrap themselves in the Constitution and proclaim they have freedom of speech and they are within their rights to disrupt someone else’s freedoms of speech.

 

Just as indignant as the disruption of speeches is, the contempt displayed to elected federal officials is even more saddening.  These men and women who represent their districts in Washington go home to hold town hall meetings and hear from the citizens of the area they represent. Instead of constructive civil discussion and a trade of ideas, the elected officials are met with childish outbreaks and immature behavior from members in the crowd.  There is nothing constructive in the dialogue and those who came to the town hall to hear what is happening in the nation’s capital are denied the opportunity due to the unruly behavior of a few.

 

So when does freedom of speech and the right to decent go too far and treads on the right of others.  Anytime that a person is not allowed to give his point of view because it contradicts another person’s thoughts, values or beliefs; the person stopping the speaker is wrong.  There is not debate to this, there Is no negotiating the issue; the person interrupting and disrupting is wrong, end of story!

 

What is causing this type of behavior.  The answer is simple.  Lack of respect for an orderly society causes a breakdown in the moral fiber of a great nation.  Respect is a learned behavior and one that has been lost over the last several decades.  Doing right, learning respect and developing into a mature individual begins at home and is reinforced in our education systems.  Our children are the future of our nation.  It is important that they receive the understanding of human values from the time they take their first breaths and continue with this home education until they leave the nest.  Discipline must be allowed and encouraged in our education institutions.  Today  a child cannot receive corporal punishment at school.  Too bad; if a child is unruly and all else has failed; the use of the paddle has an intended meaning.  As a person that received his share of smacks on the rump, it definitely made an impression on my outlook on life without causing hostile tendencies.  In the past this was supported at home.  If a child was disciplined at school the student could expect to receive the same thing upon arriving at the home.  That is reinforcement for what is right and also reinforcement of our school systems.

 

Let us hope that we can become more respectful for our elected officials and each other.  If not then we will experience a wider void within our country that will threaten to eventually tear the country apart.

 

 

During our lives we experience certain things that seem to brand themselves into our psyche.  These special events appear to have happened just yesterday as time seems to stand still.  Then one day the event is put into perspective and we say to ourselves that we can’t believe it has been that long since the incident took place.  It may have been something as tragic as the assassination of a president or the death of an iconic rock and roll king or perhaps something more local.  For me the recent epiphany was the 125th Anniversary of the birth of Farmerville.  I came across the souvenir program for the ceremonies and said to myself that it is hard to believe this took place fifty years ago, and it seems just like yesterday.

On March 15, 1976 the town of Farmerville began a four day birthday celebration.  This celebration exemplifies what a small community can do when it pulls together, what teamwork can accomplish when focused on a common result and what a fun environment rural America can be.

Festivities began the evening of March 15th when the Centenary Band performed in the Farmerville gym.  In 1976 a live performance was a big event for a community and for small Farmerville to have the Centenary College Choir travel from Shreveport to Farmerville to perform was no small event.  Admission was charged and students had to pay $.50 and adults were charged $1.00.  Committee Chairman for the Choir was Mrs. Cecil Read, math and physics teach at Farmerville high School.

The celebration moved into high gear on March 16th.  Farmerville was undergoing an economic growth spurt due to several individual and state investments in the area.  Farmerville’s celebration allowed an opportunity to showcase these successes.  International Paper held an exhibit in honor of one of its’ most prolific timber suppliers for its’ Bastrop Paper Mill.  Mr. Max Gilmore hosted this event.  A flower show opened to showcase beautiful flower arrangements prepared by the Farmerville Garden Club.  This club was formed by Mrs Ralph Harper in 1948, a teacher at Farmerville and the show was organized by Mrs. N.B. James.  A small museum was established in the lobby of the new First Federal Savings and Loan on Main Street with Mrs. Frank Yelton chairing this exhibit.  Also opening for the celebration was the art show that showcased the talent of Mr. Larce Holder’s art classes.  Mrs. James Fenton organized the art show.  Two locations were set aside for art from both adolescent and adult classes. On the afternoon of the 16th a large parade was held.  Marching bands, majorettes and floats that celebrated the birth of our town were all there.   Mr.  Richard Neely organized the parade.  Following the parade the Preaus-Auger Chip Mill was formally dedicated.  This was a major economic boom for the area and was hosted by Mr. Fred Preaus.  That night a banquet was held at the Farmerville Cafeteria and was chaired by Mrs. C.  R. Rainwater.  This was followed by a Convocation in the Farmerville gym that was accommodated by Mr. W.C. McMurrian.   Many may ask what a convocation is.  It is a gathering of people and in the deep south it use to have a religious theme.  Unfortunately the details of the convocation for the Farmerville ceremony appears to have been lost over time.   What a long but fun day March 16th was.

On Friday March 17th the Art Show, Flower Show, and Museum continued.  That evening the Farmerville Gym was once again the venue for the birthday when it hosted a variety show plus the Miss Farmerville contest.  Mr. Roy Forrester chaired the variety show while Mr. Jack Hill headed the Pageant committee.  Admission to the event was $.75 for students and $1.00 for adults.  This pageant morphed into the Watermelon Pageant and has produced Miss Louisiana’s and Miss America Contestants.

In the morning of March 18th  Gerald Farrah coordinated an air show that showcased precision parachute jump teams..  Then the culmination of the celebration took place in the gym.  The Ole South Ball took place with awards going to the lady with the most authentic gown.  This was not the biggest part of the evening.  Phares Corder and his orchestra played till mid-night and the gym rocked with old and young dancing through the evening.  I have to admit that I took full advantage of the event.  This was sponsored by the Farmerville Jaycees and admission was $2.50.

Hillary Clinton wrote a book, “It takes a Village”.  The 125th anniversary of the founding of Farmerville exemplifies that term.  It took a unified effort with a lot of leadership and a lot of pride to produce the ceremony and it was a grand event.

Happy birthday Farmerville.  For one hundred and seventy-five years old you are still quit a beautiful lady.

One note, I used the names of the chairs for the various committees as they were presented in the official souvenir program.  The women were identified as the wife of her husband and the ladies names were not used.  That was the way it was in 1967.  A lot has happened in 50 years.

 

The United States was originally a great experiment.  The idea of national power being totally generated and held in the hands of its’ citizens was a unique approach to governing a sovereign country.  The great experiment was viewed as a doomed approach to government.  Then France had its’ revolution and power flowed from a monarchy and an elite few to the populace of France.  This continued around the world and gradually democracy became the favorite form of government for the typical resident of the planet.

Even though Democracy is preferred by most humans, other forms of government has sprouted and flourished for a while.  The yoke of monarchy was overthrown in Russia when the Czar was captured and his family executed.  Democracy did not materialize and communism bloomed.  Alternate forms of government eventually failed and some form of democracy developed.  This shows that countries flourish when its’ citizens are allowed an opportunity to make their own decisions and are not dictated to as to how they live and what they can consume   We are seeing today in Venezuela this cycle of dictatorship followed by a breakdown in goods and services and finally followed by anarchy.

In the 1950s Venezuela was a Mecca for oil and gas.  American companies were present and oil flowed out of the Venezuelan oil fields.   In 1992 Hugo Chavez led a bloody military coupe aimed at overthrowing the Venezuelan government.  The coupe failed and Chavez was put in prison.  Two years later and following his release from prison Chavez visited Fidel Castro, the communist dictator of Cuba.  It was there that Castro began his mentorship of Chavez.  Four years later Chavez was legitimately elected as president of Venezuela but Chavez dissenters won an overwhelming majority of seats in congress and governorships.

When taking the oath of office he began implementing his changes that would lead to becoming the dictator of Venezuela.  He modified the oath when asked “Do you swear before God and the fatherland to fulfill the duties of Constitutional President, to obey and promote obedience to our Constitution?” Chavez replied , “I swear before God and the Fatherland, before my people and over this moribund constitution, that I will promote the transformations required for the new republic to have a new constitution adequate to the times.”  One month later he changed the electoral process that would guarantee he would obtain a majority in congress.

Later the federal judges were dismissed and were replaced with judges identified by Chavez.  Two years later the military was instructed to ignore any judicial rulings and instead follow what Chavez instructed.  Chavez was methodically taking over control of the country.   A year later he fired eighteen thousand oil field workers who had struck for politicizing the government oil company.

By 2007 Chavez had taken over all oil activities from foreign companies and had disbanded all political parties with the exception of his.  Hugo Chavez had now captured supreme control of Venezuela.   Soon after this the cracks began to appear in the country.

Chavez’s fiery rhetoric against the United States lasted until he died in office in 2013.  He was fully attached to the Cuban communistic regime and attacked the United States and capitalism every chance he could.  Oil prices, Venezuela’s main source of foreign income, had increased seven-fold while Chaves was in office.  Still, poverty and corruption increased and Chavez had to endure a two-day coupe and nationwide strikes aimed to overthrow the dictator.

I had hoped that with the death of Chavez and the election of Nicolas Madura the country would break ties with Cuba and once again become a strong partner of America. Nothing could have been further from reality.   Madura continued with the Chavez policies and the country is now in full collapse.   A state of emergency was declared in 2016,

It has been reported that 15% of the population is eating garbage from disposed food containers.  Riots are becoming more prevalent as the population shows its disappointment with the current government.

A collapse is coming and a void will be present in the leadership of the country.  America must be standing by with a helping hand filled with support for the new government.  We must not fall into the same trap that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.  A few years after the collapse it was noted that Russia needed help, not advise.

Venezuela does not need money, it is a member of OPEC, and has enough cash flow.  What it needs is leadership to properly use what it has and have the long-range vision to build a strong and viable nation.  What is proven is that capitalism and true democracy is the best approach to governing a nation.

 

Over the past several years we have had a growing cavity in our country that has been identified as ideology differences in Congress.  This has led to a large amount of grid lock within the federal lawmaking body of the United States.  While the country has been focused on Washington and criticizing  our elected officials, the election of our newest president has generated a profound outspoken divide between the general population of the country.  Protest marches are displayed on our news programs as are insolent loud mouthed rude protesters  that don’t have the respect to allow a U.S Congressman to address a town hall meeting.  Then it finally came to me that the problem is not what the two factions want to accomplish, it is what the two groups feel the strategy should be to accomplish a common end.

Both the Liberals and the Conservatives believes that America is great, that all of the population should be taken care of and everyone should have an opportunity for a good education as well as other goals of a developed country.   What differs is how we accomplish the end results.

The liberals that embody the Democratic party feel that power resides at a central power structure and this structure provides all aspects of life.  Education, medical, food and lodging would be derived from the government.  While this is a noble dream it does not work for a long period of time.  Central planning was the hallmark of socialism and ultimately it has failed.  The greatest experiment and the greatest failure of central planning that was intended to provide for the entire population was the Union Soviet Socialist Republic and it finally collapsed in 1990, years after Nakita Khrushchev declared to the United States that “we will bury you”.

The conservatives that embody the Republican Party have the same end goal that the liberals want to accomplish but they are looking at different methods to accomplish this. The Republicans desire a decentralized government.  They are not looking for someone to provide the creature comforts but instead are looking to remove government regulations that will allow them to make their own decisions.  The conservatives want the opportunity to achieve their own desires and do not want a central government to provide the material goods in life.

So can the two ever come together?  Probably not unless there is some catastrophic event that will truly threaten the future of the country.  When that happens ideology takes a back seat.  This happened during World War II and again after 9/11.  Unfortunately, at this period in our nation it is not recognized that we are in a crisis and the two factions in the country are spending wasted energy fighting each other.  If this energy could be focused on our nation we would have a much better world to live in.

This will appear in the Farmerville Gazette, Farmerville, LA the week of 1/2/2017

On August 2nd of this year, 241 years ago, fifty-six men sat down and signed the Declaration of Independence. While we celebrate July 4th as the signing of the document, it was adopted on that date.  The actual signing took place a month later.  The question that really needs to be asked is why did these men even sign the document.

All were well placed in society. They weren’t inclined to roam the back streets, drinking and brawling.  The life provided to them was comfortable and it was under British rule that they enjoyed this relaxed lifestyle.  These men that carved out one of the greatest documents in the history of the world were well educated.  President of the conference, John Hancock was a very wealthy businessman while Ben Franklin was not only a famous inventor but a writer and an influential foreign diplomat. In all, twenty-four were lawyers, eleven were merchants and nine were farmers; men with plantations.  They all were all well placed and there was no question in anyone’s mind that they were committing treason when they signed the Declaration of Independence. In essence, they had signed their own death warrants and what happened to these brave brothers of freedom; the sons of anarchy that were the first American patriots that forged the direction for our country.

The British captured five of the founding fathers and tortured them before they died. Two had sons killed and two sons were captured.  Nine of the signers gave the ultimate sacrifice and died of either wounds in battle or hardship.  Carter Braxton of Virginia had his ships sieved. He had to sell his plantation to pay his debt and died broke.  Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton had their homes vandalized and ransacked. Francis Lewis had his property destroyed and his wife was thrown in jail where she died a few months later.  John Hart fled from his dying wife’s bedside.  He lived in the forest and in caves for a year. Upon his return he discovered his wife had died and his thirteen children had disappeared.  He died two weeks later.

So why had these men done this incredible act for our fledgling nation. They had all taken a pledge that they lived by.  “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”  In actuality they were men of honor and they stood by what they had vowed.

Today, we have a new leadership in Washington. The cabinet has a different look than cabinets in the past.  Many of the members that are now just being nominated are successful businessmen who have acquired vast amounts of wealth and have known great power.  Many have never been politicians and many have a different skill set than those of previous cabinet members. Some are wealthy, so wealthy that they can live a life of luxury in their later years that few could only dream of.  Most have talents that would allow them jobs throughout the world that could provide some sort of a self-required power injection.  But for some reason the men and women nominated for the Trump cabinet are in it for another reason.

General John Kelly is a forty-five year combat Marine. He was head of Southern Command, the same command that General Norman Schwarzkopf headed when he lead the coalition forces during Desert Storm.  In addition to his leadership abilities he has a personal tragedy that emphasizes his  commitment to public service.  He recently stated about his son, “He had decided somewhere between the day he was born and 07:19, 9 November 2010, that it was worth it to him to risk everything — even his life — in the service of his country.”  General Kelly’s son was killed in Afghanistan yet with a comfortable life ahead and the loss of a son behind him he has accepted to be the head of Homeland Security.

This is only one of a large number of citizens that have taken the call for public service. The CEO of Chevron is among these; the leader of one of the largest companies in the world. Men and women taking cuts in pay and even more pressure than they have ever experienced are saying yes to serving our country and yet many Americans are asking why are these people doing this; why do we want all these self-made rich people deciding what is best for our country.  Ask the founding fathers, they can explain what patriotism is all about.