Posts Tagged ‘THOMAS T FIELDS JR’

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.”

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

The United States is entering a new phase to its’ life.  For years we have seen the individual citizen’s ability to control its’ future erode while centralized control has taken the place of entrepreneurial spirit.  While this has made it easier for some to live a life where decisions were nurtured in Washington, it has made it a challenge for individuals to start something new and then grow that thought into a viable expanding endeavor.   Like a pendulum in a clock that has swung too far the pendulum is now swinging in the other direction and as centralized control wanes we will be discovering a renaissance of what built America and then witness a rebirth of the United States.

The United States has neighbors to the south that offers great opportunities for bilateral agreements, massive renewable natural resources and a potential workforce in need of training and education.  This geographical area that offers so much potential is Central and South America.

Central and South America were initially inhabited by native indigenous people when Christopher Columbus came to America.  In the European’s desire for riches, these Central and South Americans Indians were systematically destroyed, enslaved or forced to succumb to mandatory physical and religious change.  Great nations such as the Inca, Aztec and Maya were reduced to a mere footnote in history books while the European colonial powers, specifically Spain and Portugal, changed the face of the new continent.

Over time the countries of the South gained their independence and broke into smaller countries and eventually established national boundaries.  America was not the perfect partner in some situations as government meddling took place.  Instability on the continent led to a different and more menacing growth of communism as revolutionaries such as Che Guevara spewed its’ anti-American rhetoric while unleashing revolution across the region. Communistic forms of government diminished as that form of rule collapsed with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the inability of Cuba to support governments within the Caribbean and Central America.  Slowly dictators were overthrown and in some cases, like Noriega of Panama, were imprisoned in American penitentiaries.  Drug lords replaced unscrupulous dictators in many countries and they too have been overthrown in many countries.

The majority of South American countries were not as tumultuous going into the 20th Century as the die-hard dictatorships.  Industries did flourish.  When I was working in Saudi Arabia it was Brazilian Volkswagen that was being sold and continued with the “bug” long after it was discontinued in the United States and Germany stopped to manufacture the popular vehicle.  Brazil and Venezuela had massive oil exports.  While Brazil followed a democratic government, Venezuela adopted dictatorial anti-American rule and Venezuela will be collapsed soon.  General Motors closed its’ plant recently amid chaos and anarchy.

South America represents the greatest future potential for expanded development and pro-American improvement in the world.   This is a bold statement.  There is a labor force waiting to be brought out of the dirt streets and mountains of a beautiful continent.  There are governments that genuinely desire to improve the lots of their countries.  There are boundless tracs of land that can be improved without destroying.    There is a populous that desire warm and friendly relationships with it neighbor of the north, The United States.

As South and Central America grow they will provide goods and services that the United States cannot or does not desire to produce.  At the same time as the countries develop and grow, American goods and services will flow south.  As this partnership grows a good friend and ally will be even stronger south of the border.  South and Central America has the potential to be the best friend for America  with the gre

 

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.