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Scoot's Blog

Email: scoot@wwl.com
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Posts from June 2013


Scoot: America’s wrong turn - no prayer in public schools?
Do you subscribe to the theory that the reason we have so many problems stemming from a lack of morality is because prayer was removed from public schools?

Fifty years ago, school-sponsored prayers in public schools were declared unconstitutional and I continue to hear people refer to that as the flashpoint in time when American suddenly took a wrong turn.  The topic of crime among youths is an ever-present topic on our show and almost without fail I hear the chorus of voices singing about how all of our problems started when they removed prayer from public schools.

America was beginning a dramatic change in 1964, the year prayer was banned from public schools, but it’s impossible to ignore the events of that have collectively contributed to the America we live in today.

In 1964, The Beatles arrived in America and dominated the music charts; the Civil Rights Act was passed; President Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicare Bill and the Great Society was born, the mass murderer known as the “Boston Strangler” was captured, there were nightly reminders on the news that the Cold War was a serious threat to the safety of every American citizen, three young civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi, that year began less than 2 months after the President of the United States had been assassinated in Dallas, TX. and 1964 was the year the “anti-Establishment” generation was born.

To blame any wrong turn America took on the single act of removing prayer from public schools in 1964 is far too simplistic, but that theory has gained the honor of being the tipping point over the years, because it conveniently supports the fear that “they” are removing Christianity from our society.  But the truth is, “they” cannot take Christianity or any faith from anyone.

If young people are not taught to pray at home, then does anyone really think that one prayer in a public school would really instill a sense of morality that would change the course of generations?  The other major problem with a school leading a prayer in public schools is that it essentially asks the government to create or select the prayer.  Do you want the government choosing the prayer your child says at school?  If there was prayer in public schools, today there would be much more controversy over the prayers that are being led by the schools than no prayer in schools.  Furthermore, Christianity does not have a monopoly on religion in America.  Would Christians be happy if their children were forced to say a Jewish or Muslim prayer in school?

The year 1964 was a year when America did change, but not because prayer was removed from public schools.  The impact of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in late November of 1963 has never been given the credit it so deserves.  That was the moment that created the “anti-Establishment” generation.

A young generation quietly watching the news and witnessing their parents’ reaction to that tragic event subconsciously created a deep distrust in the Establishment.  The President is the figurehead of the Establishment and if he could be assassinated, then what faith could a young generation have in the Establishment?  And so the “anti-Establishment” generation was born.  The Beatles arrived in America only months following the Kennedy assassination and though they have been credited for creating the “anti-Establishment” generation, with a new look and a new sound that defied Establishment norms, The Beatles were introduced at a time when a young America was unknowingly searching for an identity and a new direction.

Prayers in public schools were banned in 1964, but there were many signs that America was about the change and pointing to the removal of prayers from schools gives many Americans a simplistic definition of what was really going on.  This is also a cop-out for parents, who have not made the effort to teach their children to pray.  That’s a parent’s responsibility – not the schools.
Remember, no one can take away your faith or morality.  That comes from within.   As our nation has become more secular in many ways, each of us must look at ourselves and realize that if we have lost our faith or morality – it’s not because there is no prayer in school or Christmas symbols on public property.  If we have lost faith and morality, it is because we allowed it – “they” didn’t take it from us.

And to set the record straight – the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public schools cannot lead prayers, but children can pray in public schools.
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Scoot Blog - Supreme Court ruling: Get over the rainbow
Will today’s landmark Supreme Court rulings on the issue of same-sex marriage destroy American society or lead society past one more area of discrimination? 

Today’s two High Court rulings on cases involving same-sex marriage have ignited both celebrations and dire predictions.  The national argument over same-sex marriage has been one of the most passion-laced debates in years with both sides using American principles as the foundation to support their side.

Marriage has, traditionally, been a union between one man and one woman and many use the Bible to maintain that this should be the continuing definition of marriage.  Others point out that America was built on the concept of individual freedoms, saying two consenting adults should have the right to choose who they want to marry.

While today’s rulings are being celebrated by the gay community and Americans who support equal rights for gays and lesbians, the Supreme Court did not specifically rule on the definition of marriage…So, the debate is far from over.

The Court ruled that states and the federal government cannot ban benefits to same-sex couples if couple lives in a state which has legalized same-sex marriage.  However, the ruling does not force states to provide benefits.  

In the other case of Prop 8 in California, the Court left in place a lower court ruling that a majority vote at the polls banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because the person who brought the challenge was not directly affected by the case.  There could be other states that pass initiatives banning same-sex marriage and that could lead to more challenges, but the Supreme Court will not likely hear those cases (at least for quite some time) now that a ruling has been rendered.

The debate over same-sex marriage has been an important issue to me for over a decade because it is an issue that defines who we are as a nation today.  Freedoms and individual rights are not unconditional.  There are still many Americans who want to tell others how to lead their private lives. Then, there are those Americans, primarily under 45 years old, who support the individual decisions of consenting adults – even in the case of gay marriage.

Those who are quick to criticize my opinion on this issue will also have to be critical of many Republicans, including former VP Dick Cheney and Senator Rob Portman, who both recently ‘came out’ in support of gay marriage.  It is surprising to me that so many conservatives oppose gay marriage, and even gay sex, when one of the most basic aspects of ‘conservative ideology’ is recognizing the rights of individuals to make decisions free from government interference.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Lawrence v. Texas should have provided a clue as to how the Court views the rights of individuals.  That case was a challenge to the sodomy law in Texas, a ruling which stated that a ban on sodomy in the privacy of one’s home is unconstitutional.

I also wonder if those who support a government ban on same-sex marriage realize that they are asking the government to be involved in passing laws based on religious beliefs.  Asking the government to rule from a moral pulpit is setting a dangerous precedent.  As long as what individuals do in the privacy of their lives does not harm other individuals, then the government should not be involved.

When Disco Queen Donna Summer passed away, I wrote in a blog for WWL.com about how my wife and I would go to the gay clubs on Bourbon Street and dance to the newest disco music and we never felt judged by others – “The generation that casually went dancing in gay clubs in the Quarter without fear of being criticized for their selection of a place to have fun is the very generation that is highly critical, even suspicious, of straight people who go to gay clubs today. What changed?...In many ways, I guess I’m still the same person I was in the mid-70s when disco became an American dance craze. I still go to gay bars with some of my good friends and we are ALL straight. We haven’t changed – have you?”

Most estimates put the percentage of gays in America at just under 4%.  Even if every gay person in America were to marry, I can’t see how that would adversely affect our society.  And if you are concerned about the institution of marriage – heterosexuals have already done a pretty good job of destroying marriage as a lasting institution.
For those who oppose marriage on morality grounds, no one will change your mind…but also consider that you do not condemn many heterosexual friends who also commit similar “sins” of a sexual nature.

As a straight man, I have nothing to personally gain from the acceptance of gay marriage – other than the satisfaction of living in a nation that treats everyone equally.

By the way, in 2003, I wrote a book titled “Get Over the Rainbow” under the name of Scott Redmond.  The book supported gay rights from the standpoint of a straight person. (“Get Over the Rainbow" is still available at Amazon.com, where it is currently ranked as the 4,637,130th- best-selling book of all time!)    




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Scoot Blog: Did George Zimmerman Profile Trayvon Martin?
Opening statements in the murder trial of George Zimmerman included the prosecution using the F-bomb to paint the defendant was a man who had profiled 17-year-old Trayvon Martin before getting out of his car. 

Prosecutor John Guy said that while talking to a police dispatcher Zimmerman said of Trayvon, “F---ing punks, these a—holes, they always get away.”  Those words could suggest that George Zimmerman possessed a vigilante mentality as a self-proclaimed neighborhood watch volunteer who was more interested in seeking revenge against a stereotype than in providing protection for his neighborhood.  

The opening for the prosecution was powerful.  George Zimmerman made a decision to arm himself and patrol his neighborhood.  If he also profiled Trayvon Martin before even getting out of the car in pursuit, then does this show that there was predisposed frustration and anger prior to the shooting?

I don’t know exactly what happened that night in Sanford, Florida and I respect anyone’s right to defend himself but I admit I have had a problem with an armed man getting out of his car and following a young man after a police dispatcher recommended he stay in the car until police arrived.  That seems to signal a man who is looking for a confrontation.  And if Zimmerman’s words suggested a negative attitude toward his suspect before the shooting, does it not seem as if he got out of his car anticipating a confrontation.

I am not ready to declare George Zimmerman ‘guilty’ and I have followed enough high-profile trials to know that one has to hear both sides of the case, but there are a few things we do know as this murder trial gets underway.  We know that if George Zimmerman had acted as a neighborhood watch volunteer and alerted police about a young man walking through a neighborhood and had remained in his car, then Trayvon Martin would not have been shot to death that night by Zimmerman and Zimmerman would not be on trial for second-degree murder.

What motivated Zimmerman to ignore the police dispatcher’s recommendation to remain in his car until police arrived? The prosecution is trying to establish that his words to the dispatcher reflected an aggressive attitude toward the suspect and that could lead you to conclude that Zimmerman was more of a vigilante than someone who was truly concerned with protecting his neighborhood.  And we can all speculate whether Zimmerman would have even gotten out of his car if he had not been armed.  There has never seemed to be any question that Zimmerman had a legal right to be carrying a gun, but did he feel a need to carry a gun in hopes of enforcing the law?

There are countless stories in the news that seem to indicate that some gun owners like to have their guns for more than just protection – they relish the new confidence they gain from carrying a gun.  I do believe that George Zimmerman felt threatened during a confrontation, but the question is did he, through his actions, create the threat?  And if that can be established in court, then would George Zimmerman be viewed as the aggressor?

Regardless of the ultimate verdict in this trial, the lesson to be learned is that guns should never be possessed for added confidence, only for protection and in this case it may be shown that there is a big difference between ‘confidence’ and ‘protection.’

As for the use of the F-bomb in court – it was not obscene - it was the appropriate way to define the attitude of the defendant.  One of the major news networks let the word go out live on the air during coverage of the opening statements and has since apologized.  Though the audience wasn’t expecting to hear profanity, we need to remember that we are watching ‘live’ coverage of a trail that is not beholden to the FCC.  The network’s apology should be sufficient.
 
 
 
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Topics: Law_Crime
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Locations: Florida
People: George ZimmermanJohn GuyTrayvon Martin




 
Scoot Blog: Parent arrested after child shoots self...It's about time!
A 5-year-old girl is dead after her mother left her home alone with a gun in the house.  The child apparently climbed up in a closet and got the gun from a top shelf, where it was being kept temporarily for a friend.  The mother, Laderida Smith, 28, is in jail facing child cruelty charges, and the NOPD says they will consult with the DA over whether a murder charge may be filed.  WWL-TV reports the mother has been arrested 3 times since 2005 on charges that include theft and prostitution.

In recent months I have talked about several national stories about children getting guns and shooting a sibling, a friend or an adult. In my opinion, the parents should be held accountable in those situations.  However, these situations are always met with pronounced sympathy and support for the parents, with many saying the parents had “suffered enough already” from the loss and should not be charged with a crime.

If suffering from a tragic loss or a horrific crime replaced criminal accountability and punishment, then many of our prisons would not be overcrowded.  If a person is driving drunk and kills another person, does dealing with the grief and sorrow over the tragedy replace criminal prosecution?  Do the regret and the loss of a spouse replace criminal charges in the case of a man who kills his wife in a moment of rage?  Simply saying “I’m sorry” or even feeling/expressing deep sorrow does not taken the place of criminal prosecution in our society.

Recently, in a small town in Kentucky, a 5-year-old boy shot and killed his 2-year-old sister on the front porch of their family home.  The mother stepped away for a few minutes when the 5-year-old went inside to get his .22 rifle and came out and shot his young sister to death.  The rifle was a birthday gift to the son and was left in a corner of the house. Is the mother criminally responsible?  I think so, but there were those who argued that the loss of her young daughter was “punishment enough.”

The family in Tennessee is a white family that lives in the country – the New Orleans mother who was arrested is a black female with an arrest record, but are both parents not guilty of the same crime?

It is also important to consider why these children are so quick to grab guns and seem to know what to do with them.  I suggest that these children have seen their parents and adults in the household handle guns with casual frequency and that leads to the curiosity of children.  Children copy their parent’s behavior.

We know that justice is not blind – but we need to bring that reality to the attention of America when we see cases that are obvious.  As individuals, we are quick to harshly judge those who are different and innately support those with whom we share something.  Our courts have reflected that and have not always been fair. It is in our best interest as Americans for justice to be blind.  We never know when any of us will find ourselves as a minority in our system of justice.

To the New Orleans mother arrested yesterday after her child got a gun that was left at home and shot herself – I say ‘it’s about time!’ But it’s also about time to arrest ALL parents who are guilty of negligent behavior with guns and negligent behavior includes allowing children access to a gun.  Judgment should cross racial and socio-economic boundaries – we owe that to our kids!


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Topics: Law_Crime
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Locations: New OrleansTennessee
People: Laderida Smith




 
Scoot: Lil Wayne Steps on American Flag
Rap star Lil Wayne is being criticized for walking on a huge American flag during the filming of a music video in New Orleans this past weekend.  Lil Wayne was working on a video for his new song, “God Bless Amerika,” and footage of a segment where the rapper walks on the American flag as he sings…hit the Internet and drew instant criticism.  According to an article at FOXNews.com, one tweet read, “That’s disrespectful to the extreme,” and went on to call Lil Wayne an “idiot” who should be “locked up” and suggested a boycott of his music.

In the video, Lil Wayne is singing his song “God Bless Amerika,” when a huge American flag drops down from behind him to reveal a group of people representing the “Hood.  Lil Wayne defended his actions in this Facebook post, “It was never my intention to desecrate the flag of the United States of America.  I was shooting a video for a song off my album entitled ‘God Bless Amerika.’  The clip that surfaced on the Internet was a camera trick clip that revealed that behind the American Flag was the Hoods of America,” he went on to say, “In the final edit of the video you’ll see the flag fall to reveal what is behind it…but will never see it on the ground.”
After watching the controversial segment of the video, I think Lil Wayne’s intent must be left up to those who view it.  He definitely walks on the American flag, which hits the ground, but I understand enough about the making of music videos to know that performers keep going even if something unexpected happens.  Was it Lil Wayne’s intent to desecrate the flag or was he continuing his performance after the flag unexpectedly ended up on the ground at his feet?

The other question to be asked is whether the release of this segment of the video was done for the sole purpose of getting publicity for his new video.  Rock or rap performers doing anything that might resemble disrespecting the American flag fires up instant controversy and instant publicity and that rarely proves to be a bad thing.  When I see something like the Lil Wayne video I can never rule out the possibility that it was planned to start controversy.

Desecration of the American flag is an on-going debate in America.  Many believe the flag should be honored and protected from burnings, trampling or any other form of physical disrespect.  Others, even many veterans, may not think it’s right to desecrate the flag, but understand s our freedom of speech protects someone destroying and disrespecting the flag to express an opinion about this country.  Courts have sided with the right to desecrate the flag as protected by freedom of speech.

It is not hypocritical to despise any disrespect of the flag, but to respect the right to do so.  As I watched the footage of Lil Wayne stepping on this huge American flag as he continues to perform his song, “God Bless Amerika,” and I can’t tell whether he is trampling on the flag out of disrespect or if he is simply continuing to perform when the flag fell at his feet.  And if the final cut of the video does not show the flag touching the ground, then in that moment of the flag on the ground and Lil Wayne walking on it during the shooting of the video, the flag serves only as a prop in the video.  Imagine how many American flags have been destroyed during the making of films, even patriotic films, over the years.

And the suggestion that Lil Wayne be “locked up” for walking on the flag during the filming of his new music video defies the very rights the American flag represents.

Judge for yourself.

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Scoot: Radio Hosts Fired for Gleason Bit – Good!
The hosts of a morning radio show in Atlanta were fired yesterday after they made fun of former Saints player Steve Gleason, who is suffering from ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Even if the name of the show, “Mayhem in the AM,” offers a slight warning that you might hear almost anything, listeners reacted immediately to the radio hosts attempting comedy with a fake conversation with Steve Gleason.  Since ALS has robbed Gleason of speech, the bit used a computer-enhanced voice that was supposed to be his.

Nick Cellini, Steak Shapiro and Chris DiMino make up the “Mayhem In The AM” show on 790 The Zone and they were talking about Steve Gleason on the show when a computer-generated voice pretending to be Steve Gleason called in the show with a ‘knock-knock’ joke.  One of the hosts said that they only do “knock-knock” jokes on Thursday and then the voice, who was supposed to be Gleason said “I may not be here on Thursday.”  The voice said, “I blame Gregg Williams, smother me, do me a favor.”  At the end of the bit the voice said, “I’m going to Hell.”  (Full audio here)

Cellini sent out this apology on Twitter:  “My apologies to everyone.  It was a stupid attempt at humor that backfired.  Emphasis on stupid.”  Rick Mack, General Manager of 790 AM, issued a statement saying the station and its sponsors “deeply regret the comments made by Mayhem in the AM” and said they in no way “endorse or support the unfortunate and offensive commentary concerning Mr. Gleason.”

Immediately following the airing of the segment, listeners took to social media to express their outrage, but there were a few comments supporting the segment like the one that read, “What’s the point of living if you can’t laugh at yourself?”  But the majority of comments, even from Falcons fans, condemned the morning show hosts for their crude and insensitive attempt at comedy.
One Falcons fan wrote on social media, “As a Falcons fan, I am totally disgusted.  What sort of person makes light of a gravely ill man?”  The answer to that question is simple – radio personalities desperate to say or do something shocking in order to get attention and ratings.  This is not the first time and it will certainly not be the last time that radio personalities say something stupid and shocking in an effort to get publicity.  They are getting publicity, but they have also been fired for their mean-spirited humor.  They lost their jobs – and maybe their careers – over their inability to see the line they should not have crossed.

Throughout my career I have been a strong supporter of humor pushes boundaries…even crude, but there is a line that is not to be crossed, and if a radio host does not understand what to say and what not to say – he doesn’t deserve a job in radio.
It’s sad when I cannot defend those who work in my industry, but making fun of a person who is suffering a completely debilitating disease is absolutely inexcusable.  And these radio hosts from Atlanta should have realized that by making fun of a former player of their team’s top rival would make the comic stab even more personal and more hurtful.

We all have the responsibility to use good judgment in our jobs and in every aspect of our lives. Failure to do so can lead to serious consequences.  I enjoy the people I work with at WWL, but I have never been a fan of the general population of disc jockeys and radio talk show hosts, whether in New Orleans or in the other major markets I have worked.  Here is a generalization of radio personalities:  most are not very intelligent – most are driven by their egos rather than a desire to do a good job – most are willing to say and do anything for attention.

Tolerating opposing opinions is different from tolerating insensitive comments or comedy that hurt the great majority of this country that shares a common bond with all of humanity.

Comments quickly defined as “offensive” simply because there is ideological disagreement do not compare to “offensive” comments when it applies to targeting a helpless human for the sole purpose of getting ratings.
I may not share the income level of many talk show hosts who thrive on shocking and insensitive comments and comedy, but I’d like to think that we all benefit from the application of human ethics in our jobs.
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Scoot: Gino Vannelli – More Than a Concert!
The depth of a concert experience is determined not just by the hits you wanted to hear, but also by an artist’s ability to personalize a show for an audience.

Gino Vannelli captured the mostly Baby Boomer audience with a crisp, pure vocal talent that was never as obvious in his pop hit songs and he was backed by a talented band that displayed uncompromising commitment to musical perfection.
Gino Vannelli returned to New Orleans, a city that fell in love with him at the very beginning of his career, to celebrate his 60th birthday!  It was as if Gino Vannelli had come “home” and his appreciation for the city that helped launch his career was part of his show.  At one point, Gino said, “Over the years you have been through a lot – but look at you now!”  The crowd applauded Gino and themselves.

The two shows, Friday and Saturday night, at the newly renovated Joy Theater on Canal provided an exhilarating flashback for everyone.  But the concert was more than a flashback to a past everyone was excited to remember – Gino Vannelli also gave the audience permission to enjoy who he, and they, have become through the years.  His ability to reflect on his early concerts in New Orleans and relate to who he is today made the concert more than just a musical event.  The music in his show was spliced with reflective commentary that was inspiring and philosophical and he spoke of a personal spirituality that added meaning to his songs.
Wearing a black leather jacket partially unzipped with black pants and boots, Gino Vannelli looks great today and though matured, still projected an image we all remember.  Musically and physically, Gino Vannelli reassured the audience that maturating does not mean getting old – it means reinventing the same person you have always loved.

The audience’s appreciation of Gino made the concert interactive as people, mostly females, shouted things at him in between songs.  I heard shouts of “I love you” to “welcome home” to an unexpectedly crude request to have a physical relationship!  I also noticed something you don’t often see at concerts today – a number or couples had their arms around each other.  That was comforting, because the music of Gino Vannelli always inspired emotion and I imagined some of those same couples were in love years ago when Gino’s hits were on the radio and he was playing his early concerts in New Orleans.

I was very impressed by Gino’s continuing commitment to his vision of his music. The promoter of the concert, who I have known for many years, said, “Scoot, I just can’t figure out why this guy wasn’t even bigger.”  I told him I thought Gino Vannelli is too vocally and musically talented for a mass pop audience.  Throughout his career, he was more dedicated to the music in his soul than a goal of creating a pop radio hit.  Vannelli definitely possesses an esoteric side and he is so diverse that it’s difficult to define his music into a convenient genre.

When Gino Vannelli was a young artist attracting a massive crowd in New Orleans, I was a young disc jockey playing those early hits like “I Just Want to Stop,” “Powerful People” and “People Gotta Move.”  Seeing him on stage and then having a brief moment with him after the show brought back wonderful memories for me, but more importantly, it reminded me that you can mature and never lose the core of who you are or lose that special zest to live life with a young attitude!

After the show Saturday night I am a bigger fan of Gino Vannelli than I was then!  This was my first time in the newly renovated Joy Theater and it is a sensational venue with an impeccable sound system.

I hope the audience appreciated the Gino Vannelli I saw on stage.  Beyond his excellent voice, there was a man who represented appreciation for his past, present and future, and a man who was proud to talk about being married to his wife for 38 years!  That’s an accomplishment, especially in the world of music.

Happy Birthday, Gino! And thank you!
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Scoot: Is President Obama “Wagging the Dog?”
When a devout liberal and Obama supporter, like filmmaker Michael Moore, tweets that the Obama administration has “lost all credibility” following revelations about the NSA program to collect phone and internet records from millions of Americans, it was the perfect time to shift national attention by announcing from the White House that the U.S. will support the Syrian rebels.

It was confirmed today that the Assad regime in Syria used chemical weapons against its own people.  Last August, President Obama said if Syria used chemical weapons that would cross a“red line” that would lead to U.S. involvement.  With the potential scandals the White House has been dealing with and the release of classified information that the government has been tracking the phone and internet activity of millions of Americans, this would be the right time for a major story to distract from news that has plagued the White House.

In the 1997 black comedy, “Wag the Dog” starring Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman, the White House distracts America from a sex scandal by hiring a movie producer to create video of a fake war with Albania.  The expression, “wag the dog” comes from the idea that a dog is smarter than its tail and if the tail were smarter, then the tail would wag the dog.
It is widely known that administrations attempt to control the daily news with the release of agendas and by taking on hot-button social and political issues, but would an administration actually time the announcement of something as significant as involvement in a conflict in another country in order to deflect the attention of potentially damaging news?

The answer is “yes” – and not just this administration.  The news media may not always bite on the White House’s bait leading to a new, distracting story, but you can be sure that manipulation of the news is part of the inter-workings of every administration.

Since the White House has been deliberating for months on reports that the Assad regime in Syria used chemical weapons, it’s fair to question the timing of today’s announcement that the U.S. will now support the Syrian rebels.

Following recent involvement in conflicts in this region of the world, arming the rebels in Syria does not come without great risk.  We have supported leaders like Saddam Hussein, who changed from ally to enemy.  Can we be sure that by supporting the Syrian rebels we are supporting a group that will be our ally if and when, Assad is removed from power?

To further complicate the decision to get involved in the conflict, Russia and Iran are becoming stronger supporters of the Assad regime.  Russia still has its nuclear weapons and Iran is working in that direction.  Could U.S. involvement in Syria lead to increased tension with Russia and Iran?  And, could that only solidify the relationship between two of our potential adversaries?

It is difficult for the American people to watch the horror of a civil conflict, like the one we are witnessing in Syria, and not want to intervene, but we should have learned through recent wars that we cannot be the world’s police, and aiding rebels without a definite understanding of their ultimate motives can lead to American men and women facing another enemy in another part of the world.  Or, should we always judge the motives of a rebel group opposing a murderous dictator in that moment in history and not be concerned about what could happen in the future?
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Scoot Blog: Another politician, another ignorant comment about rape
Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) said today during a House Judiciary hearing on his abortion bill that he opposes an exemption for rape victims to have an abortion because the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy is very low.

It is true that pregnancies resulting from rape are rare, but in any case where that might be the result, I believe it is still wrong for a politician to force a woman to have a baby conceived under such a horrific human act.

Congressman Franks is not alone in his strict opinion about abortion, even in the case of rape. Last year during the presidential campaign, several Republicans running for office tainted the image of the entire party by making statements about abortion that reinforced the belief that Republicans don’t care about women.  The female vote was one area where Mitt Romney and the party failed to attract enough votes to win.

The Republican Party continues to change its image with women, minorities and young voters.  Today, Gabriel Gomez (R), a candidate for the Senate from Massachusetts, commented on Congressman Franks’ statement, saying – “I have no idea what goes into the mind of a moron like that…these kinds of comments only come from a moron and they shouldn’t be tolerated one bit.”

I understand that opposition to abortion in all cases is extremely passionate, but for a man, who does not understand rape from the perspective of a woman, to demand that the survivor of rape have a baby resulting from rape further widens the gap between Republicans and a presidential victory.

More Republicans, like Gabriel Gomez, should stop being afraid to offend the base of the party and publically denounce any ignorant comment made by a fellow Republican concerning rape, abortion or issues that have continued to inspire desertion from the party.

As a man, there are things I don’t understandabout being a woman – but that is the first step toward men actually understanding women.
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Scoot Blog: Why can’t everyone be polite?
After seeing the movie “The Purge” over the weekend and commenting on the movie on the show last night - now it’s time to talk about the audience!

Since I live downtown, I have spent the past year and a half going to movies at the Canal Place Theaters. If you have never experienced a movie at Canal Place – treat yourself! Each theater is smaller than the big suburban theaters and each seat is similar to a first class airline seat - complete with a retractable tray. Your seat is reserved and you are presented with a full drink, wine and food menu upon being seated by the wait staff. There is enough room to walk down the aisle without everyone getting up as you pass. The first row, which is actually not too close to enjoy the movie, features ottomans. It is quite a movie-going experience!

Having been admittedly spoiled by going to movies at Canal Place, I found myself bothered by the rudeness of the general movie-going audience at a big suburban theater. Why was the crowd so different? There was constant talking during the movie and that was very distracting. The woman in front of me was texting and the light on her damn phone was very annoying. Did she care?

If the ambience of the posh Canal Place Theaters attracts an audience that, on average, is more sophisticated, then that suggests that less sophisticated people are naturally less polite. Should we expect some people to be less polite? Politeness should transcend sophistication, education and economic status.

When you go to a movie – I don’t care who you are – be polite. We should all expect that. A whisper to the person you are with is not the problem, but lengthy commentaries during the movie, either to the person next to you or to the movie itself, are rude and unnecessary. And DO NOT kick the seat of the person in front of you, either.

If you want to talk and kick seats and use your cellphone while you watch a movie, then do us all a favor and stay home and rent a movie. Otherwise, we expect you to be polite and respectful of others.

Perhaps something needs to be added to the announcement to shut off cellphones when the movie begins – SHUT YOUR MOUTH, TOO!
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Scoot Blog: 'The Purge' - is this where we're headed?
What if…all crime – even murder – went without punishment in America one night a year when citizens could unleash their rage about each other and society? That’s the premise of “The Purge” – the #1 movie at the box office this weekend.

“The Purge” is set in America in 2022 at a time when our ‘new founding fathers’ control America.  The new government sanctions and promotes, as a patriotic duty, one night annually when citizens can seek revenge on anyone.  That one night is a national holiday of sorts when there are no police, no ambulances and no firefighters from 7:00pm to 7:00am.

Before seeing “The Purge,” I read a few critiques that blasted the movie and I even talked to a couple of listeners Friday night on The Scoot Show who had seen the movie and had only negative comments about it.
I will talk about the general message of the movie and if you read further nothing will prove to be a ‘spoiler’ if you haven’t seen it yet.  “The Purge” delivers a commentary on where America may be headed if we, as a nation, don’t find ways to ease the expanding hate in our country.

On the night of the “Purge,” an injured homeless man wanders into the streets of a prominent neighborhood while he is hunted by a group of young people. The young son a family in a fortified house in the neighborhood watches and hears the pleas of the homeless man and decides to disarm the house and offer the man refuge.  This, however, jeopardizes the safety of the entire family.

The homeless man is black and the group hunting him appears to be young white conservatives who are demanding their right to kill the homeless “swine” and purge him from society since he is seen as a non-contributor.  Since this family has given the homeless man shelter, the young group threatens the entire family unless they turn him over to be killed during the Purge.  The battle over whether to turn the man over is compelling and there is intense action from the moment the sirens sound to officially being the Purge.

I’m sure I will be challenged on my assumption that the young group hunting the injured homeless man is a group of young conservatives. While it may not be fair to judge people by the way they dress, in this movie the attire and the dialogue project a definite right-wing extremist attitude. But you can decide for yourself.

The message of ‘art’ is always the result of individual interpretation, but the message of “The Purge” seemed obvious. The word ‘purge’ had two meanings in the movie – to ‘purge’ society of those people seen as not contributing to this country and to ‘purge’ one’s soul of rage on this annual night when all crime goes unpunished.
The movie may be criticized for what many will perceive as an anti-right-wing message, but there is also an obvious message toward the end that could be considered anti-liberal.  There was also a compassionate moment near the conclusion that gives hope that those who help others are appreciated.

Ethan Hawke plays the main character, the father of the family in the fortified house during the Purge, and was very credible in the role. The directing, storyline and editing made for a compelling movie that even inspired the audience I was in to applaud several times when they felt justice had been served. The movie almost became interactive at times.

So why have there been so many negative reviews and comments?  Maybe it was the subject matter that gave some critics and movie-goers an uncomfortable feeling. As we were walking out of the theater I asked my date what she thought of the movie and she said, “I hated it!” I asked her if she hated the movie or the message and she said she enjoyed the movie but hated what the movie said the direction of our society.

I enjoyed the movie and the message, but to say I enjoyed the message does not mean I like the message – I just saw it as a fictional manifestation of the growing hate we witness everyday in America today when it comes to political debate.

I recall reading in a book years ago about success and the idea was rather than think about where you want to be in your life in the future from where you are now – it’s better to visualize where you want to be in the future and look back and think about what it took to get there.

Movies are usually exaggerations of life and “The Purge” gives us an exaggerated theory of where America might be headed if the social and political hate continue to grow.

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Scoot Blog: Obama is being transparent - but in the wrong way!
Whether the Obama administration is guilty in any of the potential scandals it currently faces has yet to be determined, but the administration is failing to assure the country that it is living up to its promise of transparency.

Facing possible damaging scandals from how the information about the terror attack on Benghazi was released, to obtaining reporters’ phone records, to the IRS targeting political enemies of the President, and now the most recent information about the administration collecting the personal phone records of millions of individuals in America in the “fight against terrorism,” President Obama has presented an arrogant attitude that gives the suggestion of hiding the truth – even if that’s not the intent.

The President finally had something today about the email/phone monitoring program.  According to the Associated Press, Mr. Obama says "safeguards are in place," and says "nobody is listening to the content of phone calls."  He's also saying that Congress approved the programs.  (Click HERE to listen to President Obama's full comments...)

There is still much we don’t know about the actions in question, but a president should have the ability and the responsibility to project honesty.  If Obama is being honest, he is definitely failing to use his charisma to project honesty and transparency.  Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton would be doing a much better job of reassuring the American public that the truth will be revealed.

I hear calculated words and statements about investigations and holding any wrongdoers accountable, but I get the impression that protecting the image of the administration is more important than the truth.  I am not suggesting that a more charismatic and convincing approach are more important than the truth, but presidents serve as figureheads and leaders that bear the responsibility of convincing the country that the truth trumps protecting an image and a legacy.

Perception is reality - and right now there is a growing perception that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are on a mission to deflect controversy at the expense of uncovering the truth.  The New York Times endorsed President Obama twice and is now saying that the Obama administration has “lost all credibility.”

If there is transparency in the Obama administration – it seems transparent that it is NOT being transparent.  Only the President can fix this perception. Otherwise, missteps, no matter how small, will be magnified.
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People: Barack ObamaBill ClintonEric HolderObamaRonald Reagan




 
Scoot Blog: Why I am a ‘hostile witness’ to the Baby Boomer Generation
It happened 45 years ago this week and it was witnessed by today’s Establishment. 

This week is the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Senator Bobby Kennedy.  Kennedy had just won the California Primary when he was gunned down following a speech.  And just about 3 months prior to that tragedy, Dr.  Martin Luther King, Jr.  was assassinated.  Both of these assassinations of public figures who would have been considered ‘liberals’ occurred within about 5 years of the assassination of President John F.  Kennedy. 

It was actually the assassination of President Kennedy that gave birth to the original ‘anti-Establishment’ generation in the 1960s.  Three months after the President was assassinated, The Beatles arrived in America with a new sound and a new look that became the rallying cry for a young generation that was searching for identity after subconsciously losing faith in the Establishment.  At the time, parents had no idea that the killing of a president would instill a silent distrust in the Establishment among a young generation that was watching and listening, but wasn’t sure what to think.

Imagine today, 5 years ago the President of the United States was assassinated and this year a prominent, peaceful activist for equality and a liberal senator who appeared to be on his way to winning the Democratic nomination for president were both killed.  Imagine the mood in this country – imagine the debates and the conversations and the predictions for America’s future.

The generation that is today’s new Establishment was the generation that witnessed the killings of a president, a prominent voice for equality and a senator on his way to becoming a president candidate all within a span of about 5 years.  That is the generation that today is saying that this country is ‘going to hell’ and that our leadership is destroying America.

When I think about the political pettiness of both parties today and the failure to work together for the good of the American people and the hateful condemnation of a president and Congress and then remember all that my generation witnessed as young Americans, I am saddened by the current assessment that America is doomed!
The generation that has seen this country survive much more turbulent times than we are seeing today it is the same generation that is inspiring the hate in today’s debates about social and political issues and in the debate about the direction of America.  This is the same generation that has also witnessed how strong America is and the resiliency of Americans to survive riots over racial equality, the national divide over an unpopular war and a series of assassinations of a president and prominent voices in American politics.  

I am a ‘hostile witness’ to the Baby Boomer Generation because I don’t agree with the collective judgment and hypocrisy of my generation.  There was a time when we came together as Americans and united behind causes and people regardless of the adversity.  There was a time when my generation rebelled and wore hairstyles and clothes and listened to music that was condemned by the then-Establishment and considered symptoms of a young generation destined to fail as the Establishment – if they even made it that far.

Now, we are that Establishment and we have been a generation that has launched the same criticism of the sex, drugs and music that our parents launched against us.  Why do so many fail to see the obvious parallels?
This week on the show, I have talked about the similarities between the national debate over whites and blacks marrying and today’s debate over same-sex marriage. 

The generation that, as a group, would have fought for the rights of blacks and whites to marry is the generation that today is fighting against the rights of gays to marry.  I realize that the arguments against same-sex marriage are totally different in the minds of many, but the idea of interracial marriage was just as outrageous in the minds of many at the time.  In 1967, the U.S.  Supreme Court ruled that state laws prohibiting interracial marriage were unconstitutional.  Don’t you see the haunting parallels with today’s debate over same-sex marriage?

It’s time for my generation, the Baby Boomer/Rock Generation, to end the hate that we once railed against.  It’s time for my generation to remember the incredible turmoil that we witnessed as young Americans and realize that this country has seen difficult times before and we united and survived.  We can blame the politicians, but they reflect what they think we want from them and right now that’s a very ugly reflection.

Again, I ask you to image what the mood in America would be today if a Democratic senator on his way to winning the presidential nomination was assassinated only a few months after a prominent voice for equality was assassinated and within 5 years of a president being assassinated.  

We should have gained great strength from all our generation has endured, but instead we have become a nation that thrives on hysteria over certain issues that compared to our past, should not be dividing us.  We should look at each other and realize that if we have made it this far - we should embrace the future with faith, confidence and optimism – rather than with a ‘doom and gloom’ attitude because we don’t like a politician or the way young people dress.

I remain a ‘hostile witness to the Baby Boomer Generation’.
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People: Bobby KennedyMartin Luther King , Jr.




 
Scoot: Lying to beat the lines at Disney
The news that families were hiring disabled people to pose as family members so they could go to the front of long lines at Disneyland has ignited a passionate debate about whether this is “rewarding” or “taking advantage of” the disabled.
With new video exposing the practice of paying disabled people for the purpose of advancing to the front of the lines, Disney has reacted by calling this practice deplorable and has issued a warning that anyone found guilty of this practice will lose their Disney pass.

Advertising on Craigslist, “Tour Guides with Disabilities” has successfully “rented out” disabled people to those Disney guests, who want to beat the long lines with their families.  One disabled person, who offers her “services” charges $50 an hour to help families jump to the front of the lines. She says that we live in a capitalist society and does not think it is morally wrong.  A disabled man, who charges $200 an hour to pose as a disabled family member, says he doesn’t care if it’s morally wrong.

If the people with disabilities are being paid, then it may not be fair to say that the disabled are being “taken advantage of,” but it is morally wrong!  Hiring a person with a real disability for the sole purpose of passing others in line for an attraction at Disneyland is deceiving and perpetrating fraud.  How can that be moral?

The most damaging factor ...what lesson this teaches the children of the families that hire the disabled?  The children of these families are taught that if you have money then you are more important than others and you shouldn’t have to wait in a long line.  It also teaches children that lying for the purpose of getting ahead, in a line or in life, is perfectly acceptable.  And to utilize the services of a disabled person to advance a lie only deepens the negative lesson.

Justification that the disabled are being paid does not erase the reality that they are being used for extremely selfish reasons.  The disabled, who are allowing themselves to be hired, are not without guilt.  As a country, we have made many provisions that make it easier for the disabled to navigate through our society, and a disabled person perpetrating fraud only diminishes the reverence we have extended to that segment of society that faces certain challenges.
When the subject of entitlement and fraud become part of a debate, there is the stereotypical person who becomes the target… low-income, less educated and most often a person of color.

The action of hiring disabled people for the purpose of getting to the front of the line reveals that fraud transcends socio-economic boundaries and further passes on a tradition of dishonestly to the children of a new generation.
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Scoot Blog: Disciplining a young child in an unusual setting!
I witnessed an extraordinary example of parents disciplining a young child over the weekend and in a very unlikely place.

I was with a band in their bus before a show.  The band was doing their make-up and getting ready for the show.  The bus was crowded with wives, girlfriends, family and a few kids.  It was a typical scene backstage in a band’s bus – shots were poured, band members made fun of each other and it was the atmosphere you’d expect to experience in that setting right before a show.

But in all of the pre-show loudness and chaos, there was one moment that reminded me that there are some parents who are doing the right thing.  I’m sure they wouldn’t mind me mentioning their names or the band, but I choose not to mention the name of the band or the band member involved.  My date was sitting at the table in the bus where the band was doing make-up and that attracted the attention of a few of the kids.  The young daughter of one of the guys in the band was sitting next to my friend and the young girl was lying on the bench seat.  Upon seeing this, the father, the 30-year-old singer in the band, asked his daughter to be respectful and not lie down so the person next to her would have more room.  She did not respond to her dad’s request.  

The young father then said, with a polite and definite tone, “Honey, it’s time to go talk to your mommie.”  He was still getting ready for the show.  The mother escorted the young girl, who was about 2-years-old, to a room in the back of the band’s bus.  They were gone about 5 minutes.  I heard no yelling and no spanking.  When the young mother and the young child returned to the general area of the bus, she returned to her spot at the table, but was sitting, not lying, on the seat.  And there was not another moment of behavior worthy of discipline again.

I’m not sure if anyone else noticed this excellent example of parenting, but I did and I complimented the singer and the young girl’s mother.  He told me that they want their daughter to learn to respect others when she is in those situations with adults.  He told me he spanked his daughter once and HE started to cry! When his daughter saw him crying she said, “Daddy, don’t cry – it doesn’t hurt anymore!”

Whatever the young mother said to that young child in the band’s bus was effective and demonstrated that this young couple is making a commitment to raise a child who respects others and they are teaching their child the very important lesson that there are consequences for negative behavior.

With all the examples there are of parents not making the effort to discipline their children, the episode I witnessed over the weekend was a refreshing reminder that some parents do care about doing the right thing.  

It would have been easy to let that moment go and not say anything to the child in the middle of the loud activity of a rock band’s bus before a show – no one would have noticed if nothing had been said by the parents.  But I noticed that something was done and I applaud that young couple and every couple that understands their responsibility to teach their children respect and that there are consequences for negative behavior.

For the record – you can spank your children.  You can’t beat young children, but you can spank your children.  But you don’t have to always use spanking as the only form of discipline.  ‘Time-out’ works.  The parents who say it doesn’t work are the parents who don’t understand it or do not take the time and effort to establish it as a consequence.

Talk radio is easily driven by the negatives in our society and as humans we show more emotion and passion over life’s negative episodes than the positive ones.  But just like with child-rearing, positive reinforcement is also important and it’s important to use a medium, like talk radio, to give society some positive reinforcement – when it’s deserving!
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