Posts Tagged ‘thelouisianaexplorer’

Louisiana has been known for its’ flamboyant politicians.  Long, Edwards. Leche and many other names conger up memories of politicians that you either loved or hated.  Politicians that in many cases received bad publicity from the national press and thus put a blemish on the political landscape of Louisiana.  I remember looking at a national publication on the news rack in our commissary in Saudi Arabia.  In broad headlines on the cover of the magazine was “Louisiana, America’s Banana Republic”.  My blood boiled until I got home that night.

As bad as some make Louisiana look, it has had its’ share of good politicians that have the best interest of Louisiana and America at heart.  Politicians that have few or no black marks against them an.  Since they are good guys the sensationalism is not there and thus the press ignores them.  One of these men that dedicated his life to public service was Bob Kennon.

Kennon was born in Dubberly, near Minden, in Webster Parish.  He enjoyed the outdoors and was active in Boy Scouts where he obtained his Eagle Scout rank.  After graduating from High School he entered LSU.  His freshman year he received the award for the best academic record.  His organizational ability and leadership skills were apparent by the time he graduated from LSU.

Kennon was on the debate team and wrote for the campus paper.  Academics was not his only achievements.  He was Captain of his Reserve Officer Training Corps and was vice president of the Interfraternity Council.  He won a letter for playing center on the LSU football team.  LSU had no tennis team so Kennon help to organize the tennis team and was one of the first two players to letter in the sport at the university.

At 23 he became the mayor of Minden and for a period of time was the youngest mayor in the United States.  He did not run for re-election but instead was elected district attorney in 1930.  He remained in office for ten years until   By 1940 he had risen to Colonel in the Louisiana Army National Guard.  He had also run for and was elected Circuit Judge the same year.  It was normal to wait a year to move into a judgeship after an election.  Soon after Kennon took office, World War II drew America into the conflict and Kennon’s XIII Corp of the 9th Army was called to service.  He did not shirk his responsibility and took his unit to war.

When he returned from WWII he assumed his role as Judge.  Then in 1948 he ran for governor but was defeated by the infamous Earl Long.  Four years Kennon was victorious and became the 48th governor of Louisiana.  Following his successful run for governor, Governor Kennon appointed Farmerville businessman Fred Preaus  at his Highway Director and later backed him for the 1956 gubernatorial race.

Kennon died in 1988 and Bill Dodd, an opponent in several campaigns wrote an eulogy in the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate.  Part of the article read:

Governor Kennon was never tried and acquitted of wrongdoing because he didn’t break the law or do anything suggesting he ever acted illegally or even unethically. He never spent any time with AA or in a CDU for he didn’t drink alcohol and didn’t snort cocaine. And when he took trips on boats, he went fishing or to a hunting camp with his boys and not to a hideaway like Bimini. His family was exemplary and made no waves that called for suppressing hospital or police records or anything else.

Perhaps the fact that Kennon was honest and efficient and ran the state and his life according to the laws of God and man, he missed out on the press coverage that goes to those who have to be rehabilitated and forgiven for their unethical and illegal conduct; coverage that often praises those rascals for their courage and fortitude to face the public after disgracing themselves and their friends who elected them.

Whatever the reason for Governor Kennon’s lack of recognition for having been a model father, soldier, judge, and governor, the cold base record shows that he was exactly the kind of man the public, the preachers, and the press say they want but seldom get in the governor’s office.

Bob Kennon was, with all his success, a humble man and, if living, he would not want credit for what he did. He regarded his going a good job as his duty, and Bob was a man who always did his duty.”

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

I’ve heard it say that if you don’t like the weather in Louisiana then wait a day and it will change.  I sit back in amazement, in amusement, in awe as the Louisiana weather adage can be placed on the current Executive Branch of our great nation.  If you don’t like what you are hearing then wait a day and you will hear something that you do like.  Last week did not disappoint.

I went camping on Thursday.  The park, White Oak Lake, was between Camden and Prescott, Arkansas and was quit rural.  There was no WiFi signal, my wife’s cell service was not available and the television was limited to PBS and PBS kids.  I found this refreshing and a total disconnect from the constant media bashing of the Executive Branch of the United States, the President. 

When I left for White Oak the media was full of press releases directed at the firing of James Comey as the FBI director, allegations of internal coercion by the president to stop FBI investigations in Russian influence of the White House, the worse day on Wall Street since September and cries from grandstanding congressmen to impeach the President.  It was also announced that the President had arrived in Saudi Arabia for a visit.  I thought that the President must be relieved to get out of Washington.

Everything must come to an end and upon returning to home I was pleasantly surprised to see that the focus of the news was on the trip to Saudi Arabia.  As a former resident of the Kingdom, I found this visit to be a major mile stone for our nation.  The presence of the President of the United States in Riyadh sends a strong message to the Middle East and President Trump did not disappoint.

While watching the news on Sunday night my son told me to look for the president’s wife.    It was nothing that had been blasted across the media with fanfare.  It was a quiet gesture that was deafening.  President Trump walked to the right of the King of Saudi Arabia and it appeared to be a cordial visit.  To the Kings left was the First Lady and not only was she walking with the King but her head was uncovered, there was no scarf.  This may be insignificant to most but this was quit significant when it comes to women’s rights and the respect and power displayed to the leader of the United States.  It also displays a mutual friendship building between these two important allies as the new American government is feeling its’ way in the world.

In 1979 I looked across the ARAMCO compound and saw a British Concorde jet. The beautiful bright white colored plane was gleaming in the mid-day sun as it flew into Dhahran International Air Port carrying the Queen of England for an official visit to the Kingdom to visit her subjects.  Later she met with the King and his ministers.  A British construction supervisor I had on a project told me that the Queen was declared a male for a day so that she could meet with the Saudi rulers.  American women visiting Al-Khobar, the Arab town next to the ARAMCO compound, were told not wear the traditional Saudi black clothing but many of the ladies did wear a scarf. The simple appearance of America’s first lady walking next to the King and having her head uncovered is quit a game changer and hopefully the good feelings between the two countries will continue to grow.

President Trump gave a major speech in Saudi and this may have been one of the best he has ever delivered. It was not conciliatory nor was it laced in any apologies.  It was straight forward, it embraced a need for a strong unity between the Mid-East and America and this unity consisted of both economic ties, the war on terror and the need to curtail Iran and its’ nuclear development.  In a region where is power is important, the speech provided a powerful message.  Then it was announced that Saudi Arabia had just inked deals with American companies that amounted to over two-hundred billion dollars. 

As large as the week end is for the relationships between the United States and Saudi Arabia, the most profound part of the Trump foreign visit took place Monday.  Air Force One took off from Riyadh and flew to Israel.  This is the first time that this has taken place and the significance is quite large.  Never before has a Western leader flown directly between a Mid-East capital and Israel.  This sends a clear message that the United States is aligned to both the Jews and the Arabs and age old barriers that caused the United States to balance itself is being torn down.  When the president arrived the Prime Minister of Israel said that the president had flown directly from Riyadh to Tel Aviv and looked forward to someday flying directly from Tel Aviv to Riyadh.  A very strong message to the Arab world.

The press is carrying the visit in detail, the visit is being praised across America and both political parties like what transpired.  What a difference a week end can make.  Maybe I should go camping more often.

 

 

 

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.”