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Scoot's Blog

"The Scoot Show" Host
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Posts from August 2013


Scoot: Is President Obama changing America – or is America changing President
Two big decisions this week could lead to the perception that President Obama is leading America down a permissive path, thus changing America in a negative way.  Yesterday, the Justice Department announced it will not challenge the new state laws legalizing the medical and recreational use of marijuana as long as the laws do not violate eight new federal enforcement priorities, including the distribution of pot to minors.
 
This is a policy change from April of this year when President Obama’s Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowski said the Administration had no plans to honor the new laws that legalized the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington.
Another significant announcement from the Obama Administration this week came from Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, who said the government will allow same-sex couples to file joint federal tax returns if they are married in states where same-sex marriage has been legalized.  Secretary Lew said this new rule will provide “clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide.”  The IRS now recognizes the legal status of same-sex couples.
 
With the Administration changing its position and announcing it will not enforce federal laws in states where marijuana has been legalized and will permit same-sex couples to file joint tax returns, the question will be asked – is President Obama changing American traditions?
 
As tempting as it is for many Americans to blame President Obama, or any Democrat in the White House, for what might be perceived as the country moving away from certain standards and moral values, it is important to recognize that the President is actually reacting to the ‘voice of the people.’
 
President Obama did not make decisions about legalizing marijuana or same-sex marriage – the voters in various states made those decisions with their votes and in the case of same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court has ruled the vote to ban same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.  This is not so much a defense of the President as it is a reminder of basic civics.  The day will come when criticism of a president for leading American in the wrong direction will come from the other side of the political spectrum and the same defense will be part of that debate.  
 
Political tension is so high in America that this growing trend of blaming a president for anything and everything is certain to continue – unless Americans on both sides of the political aisle focus more on facts than rhetoric.  America is changing - and change, even if it’s positive change, will always be resisted by those who sense a loss of stability in an already rapidly-changing world.  But change is a natural necessity in the evolution of society.
 
The path to recognition of legal same-sex marriage as a fundamental right and the path toward the greater acceptance of marijuana use winds through both Republican and Democrat presidents.  When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state laws banning sodomy were unconstitutional in 2003, many on the right deemed this as the opening of the door to legalized same-sex marriage.  That milestone occurred when President George W. Bush was in office.  California was the first state to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in 1996 - when President Bill Clinton was in office. 
 
The trends toward accepting same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana have found fertile ground when both parties occupied the White House – so it can be argued that these trends reach beyond partisan politics.
 
In these times when social media and the Internet serve as a reputable news and editorial source for an increasing number of Americans, it is easy to create a frenzy over condemning the President by web stories, posts and blogs that connect the government’s new position on marijuana laws and the IRS’ recognition of same-sex married couples and, thus advancing the theory that the Obama is leading America away from traditional morals and standards.  
 
In reality, it is actually the growing consensus of the people that is changing America – not the President.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Scoot Blog: Attacks on citizens continue - what NOPD can do
New Orleans police are looking for 3 young men suspected of beating a couple in the French Quarter early Saturday morning.  There is surveillance video of a couple being attacked at 6:00 am Saturday morning at the corner of Iberville and Dauphine.

Donnie Mehrtens, III, 27-years-old and from Metairie, was walking a girl to a car early Saturday morning when 3 men jumped the couple.  Video shows the 3 men punching the girl in the face and forcing Mehrtens to the ground.  The suspects then apparently ran off.  

The female victim in the attack told WWL-TV that her male companion’s use of the N-word apparently provoked the attack.
“Donnie was just having a conversation with me and he had used the ‘N’ word just in a general conversation with me. Not calling anybody the name at all,” the woman told WWL-TV’s Katie Moore.  Read WWL-TV’s report here. 

Whatever the reason for the attack, why can’t NOPD do more to make their presence felt in some of the fringe areas in the French Quarter and the CBD? Police presence on Bourbon Street is strong, but this latest attack happened just one block off Bourbon St.  If you are not downtown or in the French Quarter because you live there or out having a good time – then I don’t want you in my neighborhood!

With respect for the Constitution, is there anything wrong with police officers asking people wandering around the quarter or  the CBD if they live in that neighborhood and if not, where they are going?  This is not technically ‘stop & frisk,’ so why can’t police ask questions?

The story about the couple that was recently attacked on Iberville and Dauphine includes comments from the father of one of the attack victims.  Donald Mehrtens, Jr., the father of the 27-year-old Metairie man who was attacked, expressed little confidence that NOPD will find the 3 suspects.

While I felt like NOPD did a thorough job attempting to track down the 4 men who attacked me, there have been no arrests.  That doesn’t mean they did not do all they could to find the suspects, but it does reveal the reality that it’s not easy to find the thug-types who roam the ripe territory of the French Quarter and the CBD searching for prey.

As these types of seemingly random, senseless attacks continue, I am angrier now than I was after I was attacked.  There appears to be a growing sense that thugs know they will probably get away with attacking people who fit the profile of being tourists or those people who have been out enjoying a night out.  These are the people who are less likely to be armed and less likely to be prepared for a possible attack. So, the thug-types are targeting the most vulnerable, which also makes them cowards.

Our city shines when we host a major event and police presence is calculated to protect our visitors, but it appears that the same vigilance for protecting locals who are here throughout the year supporting businesses downtown is not the same.  
How sad that more seems to be done to protect our visitors than our citizens!
 
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Scoot Blog: What the MTV Video Music Awards tell us about a young generation!
Since the 1960’s, the music and fashion that define each decade seems to reach mass appeal status, not in the year the new decade begins - 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010 – but rather in the third and fourth year of each decade.

The collection of the music, the fashions and the general attitude that dominated the MTV Video Music Awards 2013 seemed to suggest the pop culture trends that will define this decade from 2010 to 2020.  And if society has been concerned that the vulgar and violent direction of music will continue to evolve and define the future – I suggest the MTV VMS’s 2013 delivered some encouraging news!

Missing from this year’s Video Music Awards was a rebellious crassness that has been a dominant memory from past VMA shows.  There were a few ‘bleeps’ and MTV showed great constraint in presenting a show that fit the tone of this year’s star acts.

There are so many adjectives to describe Justin Timberlake – let me try to limit them to a few: an amazing singing and dancing talent, trendsetter, classy and here’s an adjective not often used to describe music’s top pop stars – he is appreciative.  J.T. won the award for Video of the Year for “Mirrors” and the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award for lifetime achievement.  He thanked his grandparents and mentioned that his grandfather had passed away in December. At one point he looked into the camera and said “hi” to his “Granny.”  In the setting of an MTV Video Music Awards show, that moment showed unbelievable class and revealed a lot of Justin Timberlake’s character.  For young generations today, Justin Timberlake will be around long into the future as many of the icons of the Baby Boomer generation are today.

Bruno Mars is another talent that is defining music and style in 2013.  The music and the visuals of the video for his hit “Treasure” provide an instant flashback to the late-70’s and early 80’s.  The guitar licks in the song are reminiscent of Chic, his voice and moves remind us all of a pre-“Thriller” Michael Jackson and the visual theme of the video is a re-creation of many the classic videos of Earth, Wind and Fire.  The Bruno Mars video for “Treasure” is a nostalgic moment for Baby Boomers, but it is a fresh, innovative direction for a new young generation. Quite often when new technology inspires art – art breaks the current rules with a retro reach to the past.

The white hip hop artist, Macklemore, and I mention ‘white’ because I love breaking stereotypes for those who are so quick to negatively judge based on skin color, was another performer who shed a positive light on the music of a young generation today.  Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won awards for Best Hip Hop video for “Can’t Hold This” and Best Video with a social message for “Same Love.” The song is about equality for gays.  In accepting the award for Best Video with a social message, Macklemore talked about his generation being at the forefront of equality and said that gay rights are human rights.  Another presenter said that hating someone because of their sexual orientation is like judging a person because of skin color.  If you are part of a generation that once stood up for equality, there is a lot to admire about the new young generation that is standing up for equality – even if you don’t agree with the equality they are standing up for.

Miley Cyrus’ performance early in the show and her performance during Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” only further demonstrated that this MTV awards show may be a signal of new trends in music.  Miley Cyrus stood out as being overtly vulgar.  I have defended Miley’s skimpy clothing that has been highly criticized in the mainstream media and I have supported her attempts to distance herself from her Disney past and establish herself as a maturing young artist, but the blatant sexual gestures and the focus on her crotch and simulated self-gratification were amateur, forced and vulgar.  Perhaps on other MTV awards shows Miley Cyrus’ sexual gestures would have fit in and been celebrated, but she exposed herself as a false sex music goddess with her immaturity.

The other moments that seemed juxtaposed to the ambience of the night were the times when comedian Kevin Hart attempted to get laughs by his harsh putdowns of performers on the show.  His comments were actually very uncomfortable for the audience.  Lady Gaga opened the show and that was her first performance since having hip surgery.  Kevin Hart ridiculed the size of her hips and her figure.  After the brief, but celebrated N’SYNC reunion for the song “Bye Bye Bye,” Hart made fun of some of the guys gaining weight and said they were so out of shape that they struggled to get through the routine.  Awkward moments that would have appropriately fit the attitude of other MTV shows, seemed to contradict a flashpoint that may be signaling a new trend in music and pop culture.

Admittedly, I have been anticipating the signs of the music, fashion and pop culture that will embody the trends that define this decade.  The ‘dressed up,’ classy style of Justin Timberlake’s new music and his more formal fashion, the new hair styles for men that are more clean-cut, even for an edgy, tattooed young generation and the music and fashion style of the Bruno Mars-type stars, all point the way to the pop culture that is defining the times.

When it seems that pop culture is pushing the limits that will lead to the complete dismantling of society, there is often a pulling back from the edge.  The permissiveness of the content on television and in society in the 70’s ended with the more wholesome content of television and trends in the 80’s.  Just when it might appear that a young generation is poised to destroy our society and challenge the morals of the established world, there may now be a sign that pop culture is moving in a more wholesome direction.

The stars that will be most remembered from the MTV Video Music Awards of 2013 and the stars that will be most criticized, may provide a glimpse into the trends that will define a young generation whose time has come to set new trends.
 
 
 
 
 
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Scoot Blog: Miley Cyrus - a sexual train wreck!
In the blog, “What the MTV Music Video Awards tell us about a young generation,” I point out the positive aspects of the MTV awards show last night, and I do mention one of the strong negatives – Miley Cryus’ performance.

Last night I tweeted: “Watching the MTV Awards: Justin Timberlake is total classy talent. Miley Cyrus was vulgar trash!” It seems I am not the only one who had that reaction to Cyrus’ raunchy actions. Two sisters watching in a suburb of New Orleans, who would both be in her demographic and know all the lyrics and dance moves to today’s music both had a very negative reaction to Cyrus last night. “Twinkle twinkle little whore, close your legs, they’re not a door,” commented a 13-year-old. Her 19-year-old sister said Miley Cyrus’ performance was “a very disgusting and shocking performance. She has gone from a Disney Channel star to a slut. No one really expected anything less from her considering the music video for “We Can’t Stop.” It was also very disturbing. I think she was just begging for attention and truly has gone off the deep end.” 

For the record, I have defended Miley Cyrus’ evolution into her life after Disney – from her wearing short shorts and crop tops while pumping gas - to her choice of video content, but I cannot defend her performance last night.

As most of you know, I am not a prude by any means and I support and understand freedom of expression.  I also believe that some of the visuals considered ‘too sexual’ by many in the mainstream media, like Janet Jackson’s alleged wardrobe malfunction during a Super Bowl Half-time show and the on-stage sexual antics of Madonna, Lady Gaga and many of the other pop sex goddesses, do not have the power to inspire early sexual activity in young generations.  Those displays are merely reflections of the sexuality that lives within the vast majority of young teenagers as they sense the presence of hormones.  It’s natural and rather than blame entertainment, parents should simply teach and expect sexual ‘responsibility’ from their teenagers.

In her big summer hit, “We Can’t Stop,” Miley Cyrus sings about “Molly,” and that was censored by MTV during the awards show.  “Molly” stands for molecule and is a powder or crystal form of MDMA – the chemical used in the sexual-inspiring drug Ecstasy.  I can only speak from what I have heard others say about the drug Ecstasy.  It is an illegal drug that induces feelings of erotic euphoria and inspires overt sexual desires.  Anyone who watched her performance on the MTV awards show, last night, would not be surprised if Miley Cyrus was not just singing about “Molly,” but was indeed on “Molly.”

Though Madonna, Lady Gaga and others have been criticized for their blatant sexuality on-stage, there was something about the forced and unnatural exposure to the full length of Miley Cyrus’ tongue and the use of her real hand, and later performing with Robin Thicke, a foam finger to simulate self-gratification and her ‘twerking’ that turned an effort at achieving art into a display of vulgarity.

It is often said that “any publicity is good publicity” and Miley Cyrus did reach any star’s goal of having a much-talked about and memorable performance. However, I’m not sure she is at the point where her audience is ready for that kind of rebellious sexual maturity.  Her only hope is that the performance introduces her to a new audience that is ready for her new on-stage sexuality.

Miley Cyrus showed that she does not have the maturity to pull off this major leap to a different performing level.  While you might not agree with the open displays of sexuality by Madonna, Lady Gaga and others, it does seem obvious that 20-year-old Miley is not yet ready to be a pop sex goddess.  Her hope now should be that she can allow wise guidance to lead her through this attempt at career suicide.

Performers have changed their images from nice to naughty – but it is more difficult to go back and forth from nice to naughty to whatever is next.  Based on her performance last night, I wonder if Miley Cyrus may be ‘positioning herself’ (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!) for the adult entertainment industry?

Have faith that many young teens, like the two sisters quoted earlier in this blog, were turned-off and disgusted by Miley Cryus’ vulgar presence.  The widespread condemnation of Cyrus’ performance at the MTV VMA’s, even among teenagers, shows us that even teenagers know when something goes too far!  And that is reassuring!

 
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Scoot Blog: Murdering someone because they were 'bored?'
A 22-year-old Australian who was in America going to college on a baseball scholarship was gunned down by three teenagers – police say one confessed that they killed the young man because they were “bored.”

There are several aspects of this senseless murder worth addressing.  First, for all those who will use this tragedy as an opportunity to tout anti-gun rhetoric, which new law do you think would have kept a gun from the hands of the three teenagers accused in this murder?

Secondly, since the victim was white and two of the three teenagers are black, the silence from the Jesse Jackson’s and Al Sharpton’s of the world is deafening.  I hate to bring up race, but in this case it is important to recognize that race does matter to those who have built dynasties on racism.  Being a human being appears to be of little importance when there is an injustice, but being of a certain race does matter.

There are many times I agree with the injustices many leaders speak out against, but I do not agree with speaking out only in the cases that advance organizations that benefit from racial tension.  The sad truth is that there are people in America who would lose their power and financial support if there was no racial tension in this country.  So, why would they ever want to really fight for true racial harmony?

But the one thing that stands out most to me about the murder of Christopher Lane is the excuse given for the shooting.  James Edwards, 15, and Chauncey Lane, 16, have been charged with murder and are being held without bond. Michael Jones, 17, is charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact and firing a weapon. He is being held on $1 million bail.  James Edwards confessed and said the three teens shot Christopher Lane because they were “bored” and they did it for “fun.”  All three will be tried as adults.

The setting for this horrific murder is Duncan, Oklahoma – a rural farming and ranching community.  This did not happen in a city neighborhood infested with crime and drug dealers where a kid getting his first gun might compare to a child getting his first bike.  This random shooting happened in a part of this country that most Americans would consider safe.

The admission from one of the teenagers that they did it because they were “bored” speaks volumes about condition of society in 2013.  Forgive me if I sound ‘old-fashioned,’ but there were plenty of times when I was bored as a teenager. My Dad had a gun and I knew exactly where he kept the gun.  At no time was there the slightest thought of using a gun to end my boredom.

It occurs to me that there are several young generations that lack the skills to deal with those inevitable human moments of being bored.  And when children lack certain skills to deal with things innate to being a human, I can’t help but look at the generations of parents that have given too much power to young people by assuming that it is the responsibility of the parents to make sure their children are never bored.

Today, there is a never-ending supply of incredible technology that can be used to entertain children and teens all the time and anywhere – at home, in the car and sitting at the table while having dinner with their parents.  But what has this done to children and teenagers?  It has robbed them of the ability to cope with those natural moments when we all get bored.  As an adult generation, we have allowed that to happen.  Yes, much of it is the fault of parents today.

Not that any excuse of a random murder would be acceptable, but the least acceptable excuse is they killed a person because they were “bored.”  If you are a parent and if you are trying to entertain your children all the time or if you are striving to make certain they are never bored, you are failing in an important aspect of parenting.  Sometimes, even as adults, we get bored – that’s life.  So teach your children to deal with it because that is part of preparing them for the real world.

The father of one of the teens charged with the murder spoke to reporters and said that he is sad for the parents of the young man who was killed, but he said that he, too, has lost a son from this tragedy.  I understand what he’s saying, but maybe the lesson to learn is that parents, aided by modern society, have allowed their children to have unrealistic expectations about real life in general.  The mother of one of the teens said that if her son was involved, he should be punished.  My question might be – how much do you bother punishing him when he was younger?
I’m not sure how a law would be crafted that would hold parents accountable for the criminal behavior of their children, but the message from those of us who are civilized in society is simple – be a parent to your children or don’t show up crying in front of TV cameras when your failure leads to tragedy. 

Some children raised by good, caring parents are bad, but there are too many parents today that have blamed everything except themselves for the failings for which they do not want to be held responsible.
 
 
 
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Scoot Blog: 3 Oklahoma teens - boredom or thrill kill?
Last night’s blog focused on the one thing that stood out most in my mind about the senseless murder of a young athlete in Oklahoma by three teenagers – the teenagers were ‘bored.’ 

Today, the news was filled with stories addressing this absurd excuse for murder. The most surprising reaction on this aspect of the crime comes from Dr. Keith Ablow, who is a FOX News contributor.  His opinion piece today on the FOXNews.com website is titled: “‘Boredom’ was not the reason behind Chris Lane’s murder.”  (Click HERE to read the piece.)

Dr. Ablow usually presents conservative-leaning opinions about the psychological reasons behind negative behavior and crimes that dominate our news.  That’s why Dr. Ablow’s opinion on the three teenagers who murdered Christopher Lane was shocking.

The statement that the murder was the result of boredom “is devoid of humanity and so headline-ready that the media seized upon it as a literal and complete explanation for why these three accused killers acted so inhumanely,” wrote Dr. Ablow.  There seemed to be overwhelming sympathy for James Edwards, Chauncey Luna and Michael Jones, the three teens accused of the murder, from Dr. Ablow.  He said that the victim, Christopher Lane, was a symbol of the humanity the teenagers had lost in life.  “They could not perceive the suffering of Lane during his death, nor of his family members after this death.  They had lost that singular, defining human quality called empathy,” said Ablow.

Other reasons Dr. Ablow gave for the kill-for-fun mentality include “traumatic life events, perhaps coupled with head trauma, drug use and disordered brain chemistry from birth” which led to a separation from their thoughts and feelings.

In an article on NBCNews.com, juvenile homicide expert and author of the book, “Inside the Mind of a Teen Killer,” Phil Chalmers said, “I don’t think (boredom) was an excuse. I think they are being honest about being bored.” Chalmers believes it was a ‘thrill kill’ by young people who wanted to experience the “act of murder.”

It could easily be argued that any person who commits the random murder of an individual they don’t know and that did nothing to them, is not mentally stable, but is there any reason not to hold that person criminally responsible for committing a murder?

From a psychiatric perspective, I can understand the scientific reasoning of Dr. Ablow, but no one should be quick to jump to any conclusions that the teen suspects are out-of-touch with reality.  I would think that if there is recognition of the state of being ‘bored,’ then there is strong evidence of sanity.  Otherwise, how would you know you were bored?  Is that not an understanding of one’s state of mind?

Though tragic, deaths that result from shootings where there is conflict are, at least, somewhat understandable.  But the case of the three teenagers randomly killing a young man because they had nothing else to do presents society with a chilling question to be answered – How do we recognize those young people who have a desire to kill just to enjoy the experience of killing?

We are most frightened by the things that extend beyond our sane, rational thinking.  With cold, callous killings in the news every day, one can’t help but think that these three teenagers in Oklahoma are not alone!

And if there are young people in America who will fight boredom by experiencing the act of murder, then we should do a better job of figuring out why that is reality.  It’s easy to blame violent video games or rap music, but aren’t those convenient excuses for a failure of some parents?
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Scoot Blog: Effects of a Full Moon - Fact or Fiction?
There will be a full moon during “The Scoot Show” tonight and as I prepare for the show, I consider the ‘crazy’ callers and text messages that may come from some listeners.  I’ve heard that police and emergency room nurses and doctors always talk about an increase in strange activity during a full moon, but is it true? 

Tonight’s full moon is special – it’s a ‘blue moon.’  A blue moon is the 4th moon in a season.  Seasons usually have 3 full moons.  Another definition of a blue moon is the 2nd full moon in a single calendar month, which ordinarily has only 1 full moon.

In my anticipation of ‘crazy’ callers during the full moon, I did some research and discovered some interesting information about full moons and human behavior.

The moon has always been a mystical object in the sky to humans and even though man has walked on moon, the mystery of the power of the moon is still present in modern-day life.

The word, “lunacy” comes from Luna, the Roman Goddess of the Moon.  One definition of “lunacy” is those moments of insanity believed to be related to the phases of the moon.  A person who is acting in a crazy or abnormal manner is often described as a ‘lunatic.’  In 19th-Century England, lawyers actually used the defense of “guilty by reason of the full moon” to prove that their clients should not be held responsible for their crime!

The relationship between the moon and human behavior is well documented.  A Roman scientist and military commander believed that the full moon created a heavy dew, which made the brain extremely moist and affected behavior.  The power of a full moon to turn a human into a werewolf has been part of a literary myth since 1941.

It’s easy to understand how the full moon got this image.  Before modern lighting, the light of a full moon kept people awake at night and the lack of sleep led to behavior that was out of the ordinary.  The full moon also provided light for people to carry on drinking and participate in general debauchery well into the night.

The phases of the moon affect the tides of the oceans and the body is 65% to 75% water.  So, does the moon affect the human body?  Full moons have been blamed for increases in violent crime, suicides, epileptic seizures, sleep deprivation, births and even deaths.  

But is a full moon to blame for lunacy and abnormal behavior in humans?  The answer is – no!  Despite the belief by some police offices, ER nurses and doctors, mental health professionals and the general public the strange behavior increases during a full moon, there are no studies to support the myth that a full moon has the power to make people do crazy things.  There have been a scarce few studies over a 50 year period that established some correlation between a full moon and abnormal behavior, but follow-up studies have proven the original conclusions to be false.

So romanticize about a full moon, but if you actually believe there is a direct relationship between a full moon and human behavior – you’re a lunatic!

However, even in the absence of scientific evidence that tonight’s full moon will have an effect on the minds of listeners who call or text the show tonight – we may all be challenged to wonder – if not the full moon - then why did some people act way they did!

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Scoot Blog: Movie Review – “The Butler”
When movies are based on people in history or actual events, the movie-going public has a bad habit of making the assumption that they are watching real history or a documentary.  The movie, “The Butler,” may be one of those movies.

While movies based on history or historical figures should be appreciated as entertainment rather than a history lesson, most of these types of movies do serve the purpose of providing insight, though sometimes exaggerated, into history.

“The Butler” stars Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, a White House butler loosely based on the real-life of Eugene Allen, who served in the White House from President Dwight Eisenhower to President Ronald Reagan.  We must always assume that Hollywood will take artistic license with actual history, but like so many movies based on real people and real history “The Butler” weaves actual news footage and recreates actual events to lend a new perspective to the black point-of-view on racism in America.

Even though I was too young to experience or completely understand the height of racism and the fierce opposition to the fairness of integration, I do have some memories of the separation of whites and blacks in America.  I have a vivid memory of asking my Dad why there were separate water fountains – one for “whites” and one for “coloreds.”  I don’t remember what his specific answer was because before asking the question I had already determined in my young mind that separate fountains were a gross injustice.

 And yet, separate water fountains for “whites” and “coloreds” was a microcosm of racism in America not too many years ago.
“The Butler” captures the grave injustices forced on blacks by White America and as I watched the movie I was, at times, deeply embarrassed at how this great country justified its treatment of blacks.  But I did remind myself that there were many white
Americans who were so appalled by segregation that they fought for righteous equality.

This movie also did an excellent job of exposing the reality that the blacks who were part of the white world had two faces – their own and the one they show the “white folks.”  I can’t imagine not being free to be true to myself because of my skin color.  Admittedly, we all conform to some degree, but for society to not allow any person the freedom to be true to themselves because of something as innate as race must have a fundamental impact on the psyche of an individual.

Forest Whitaker was so perfect in the role of Cecil Gaines, the White House butler, that I can’t imagine anyone else playing the part.  Whitaker has that wonderful quality of being comfortable and congenial, without giving up the quality of strength.  The character was a very humble man and in all the interviews I have seen of Forest Whitaker, I sense that disposition is part of his actual being.
If “The Butler” has a flaw it is in the casting of too many stars.  To call this a star-studded movie is an understatement.  The obvious goal was to cast big-name stars in roles that would have been better with people who looked more like the characters we all know.

 John Cusack was not a convincing Richard Nixon and I was distracted by his appearance as Nixon.  The same can be said of Liev Schreiber as LBJ.  Robin William was acceptable as Dwight Eisenhower, but British actor Alan Rickman did a sensational job of capturing the spirit of Ronald Reagan.

Oprah Winfrey did a good job of acting in the role of the butler’s wife, but since Oprah is so defined by her roles in real-life, it wasn’t until the last part of the movie that I suspended my image of Oprah, the person, and accepted her as Cecil Gaines wife.  And Cuba Gooding, Jr. was well cast as a member of the White House serving staff.

The fact the Mariah Carey played Cecil Gaines’ mother who was raped by one of the white plantation bosses should have been an indication that the producers of the movie were going after as many stars as they could fit into the script. However gratuitous it was, Jane Fonda was striking as Nancy Reagan.

“The Butler” is an excellent movie that is worth seeing, even with the distraction of too many stars.  The movie lends insight into a perspective on America that is important for all of us to know and yet, easy for us to dismiss because it is a very uncomfortable part of our past.  In the movie, President Kennedy talked to the butler and confessed that he never really knew what blacks in America were going through.

There were several subplots in the movie that added depth to the story of the butler.  The most predominate subplot was the struggle between Cecil Gaines and his son.

Cecil’s son didn’t respect what his father did because he felt it was “serving” the white man and he went away to college and became heavily involved in the fight for integration – even joining the Black Panthers Party.  But when he realized that the mission of the Black Panthers was more about inflicting violence than in gaining equal rights, he left the group and directed his efforts in more peaceful ways.

Though there was this chasm between father and son, as so often is the case in real life, Cecil and his son learned from each other.  It was Cecil who stood up and was vocal about the injustice of the “white” White House servants being paid more than the black servants and that was finally rectified because of Cecil Gaines insistence that wages for equal work be equal.  And Cecil’s son seemed to realize that “serving” a greater good was admirable in life.  Cecil tried to teach his family that you should be proud to serve without losing your identity.

After Cecil Gaines had retired as White House butler, he met his son at a D.C. protest against South Africa’s apartheid.  Cecil had come to realize that his son was a hero and had been part of a fight for the soul of America.

For those who are quick to react with the mantra, “it’s not that way anymore and I am not to blame for the past,” I ask you to think about how much you learned about life in America from your father?  How much did you learn from your grandfather? If you learned from them, then your father and grandfather learned a lot about America from their fathers and grandfathers.  In the history of this country, you don’t have to go that far back to find a time when fundamental racism was an accepted part of life.  Baby Boomers can remember a time when the treatment of blacks was totally unacceptable and that was not that long ago.

It may seem like segregation and violence against black Americas is only part of our distant past, but the movie, “The Butler” reminds us that it is understandable that those times have touched even current generations.

“The Butler” will continue a conversation about race in America as other movies have done in the past.  The Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case is just a recent reminder of how close to the surface racial tension is in America. The biggest obstacle in the way of better race relations is our collective failure to have a truly honest conversation about race relations. We have yet to have that conversation and until we do – expect little to change.

Go see “The Butler!”
 
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Scoot Blog: Scoot’s Top 10 Best Concerts Ever!
When I read TIME’s Top 10 Arena Rock concert list, I began thinking about some of the top concerts I have been to through my radio career.  First as a morning disc jockey on music radio and then as a talk show host, I have been blessed with many opportunities to see some of the best on stage!  And it wasn’t easy coming up with my list of top best 10 concerts ever!

Before I give my top 10 list, here is the list of the Top 10 Arena Rock concerts from TIME.com.

10)  KISS - Anaheim Stadium - August 20, 1976
  9)  Aerosmith - The Cotton Bowl - July 1, 1978
  8)  U2 - Wembley Stadium - June 12, 1987
  7)  The Beatles - Shea Stadium - August 15, 1965
  6)  The Who - Pontiac Silverdome – December 6, 1975
  5)  The Foo Fighters – Wembley Stadium – June 6, 2008
  4)  The rolling Stones – Hyde Park – July 5, 1969
  3)  Led Zeppelin – Madison Square Garden – July 27, 1973
  2)  Queen – Wembley Stadium – July 11, 1986
  1)  Paul McCartney & Billy Joel – Shea Stadium – July 16, 2008

This is a list of the Top 10 ‘Arena’ Rock concerts and I was surprised to see The Foo Fighters on that list and shocked that the Paul McCartney/Billy Joel concert in 2008 was #1!  I was also surprised that Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen did not make the list.
When you think about the ‘best’ concerts you have been to in your life, the ‘best’ concerts are more than just the band and the songs.  The best concerts are defined by the band, the songs and the crowd’s reaction at that moment in that band’s career.
Because of the access I have had to great concerts over the years, this was not an easy list to compile!

Scoot’s Top 10 Best Concerts:

10)  Diana Ross – Baton Rouge – January 28, 1982
  9)  Alice Cooper – New Orleans – June 7, 1975
  8)  Prince – New Orleans – February 1, 1985
  7)  Hall & Oates – New Orleans w/Huey Lewis + Neville Brothers – May 18, 1986
  6)  Sting – New Orleans – October 24, 1985
  5)  Kid Rock – New Orleans – February 21, 2013
  4)  Bon Jovi – Biloxi – February 12, 1987
  3)  Bruce Springsteen – New Orleans - May 13, 1976
  2)  Led Zeppelin – Baton Rouge – May 19, 1977
  1)  Duran Duran – Baton Rouge – February 14, 1984

I’ve experienced so many incredible concerts with lasting memories that didn’t make my top 10 list, I feel the need to mention some of them: The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Poison, Goo Goo Dolls, Pearl Jam, Rod Stewart and No Doubt.

Do you agree with me?  What is #1 on your list to the ‘best’ concert ever?  I’d like to know, so respond to this blog and I will share some of your comments on the show!

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Scoot: “Phub You!”
We’ve all seen couples, friends and families having dinner out and each person at the table is texting, tweeting or on the internet and no one is making eye contact or speaking to each other.  This is referred to as “phubbing” – the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention.  We have reached another moment in time when technology inspires human actions that need a name!  

When I witness people “phubbing,” my first reaction is one of harsh criticism, but then I realize I’m guilty of that anti-social activity.  I may “phub” someone, but never for long.  

Once at a nice Sunday brunch in the French Quarter there were four people at the table next to me.  It appeared to be a couple and the parents of either the husband or the wife.  I don’t recall ever seeing them look at or talk to each other.  All four were constantly looking at their phones and communicating with someone other than each other.  Sunday brunch would be considered the perfect time to relax and spend time talking and catching up with each other, but these four people were indicative of so many couples and families today – they were next to one another, but obviously communicating.

The process of evolving into a society of isolated individuals has been greatly accelerated by the new technology of instant and constant personal communications - the smartphone.  We can talk to someone in another part of the world or across the table from us and never speak or make eye contact.

I have always accepted the reality that society is constantly changing, but we should all take note of the changes that may prove to be fundamental changes in society – like our basic communication skills.

There are surveys showing that especially among young people, ending a relationship, even a marriage, through a text is acceptable.  And I have to admit that even I have ended a relationship by a text.  It’s convenient, it’s quick, there’s no chance of confrontation and it’s a coward’s way out!  At least, that’s from my perspective.  If you are part of a generation that depended on face-to-face communications, it’s difficult to respect the text message or Facebook message as a way to communicate any of life’s important decisions, but for other generations, that may be perfectly acceptable.

There is no question that iPhone and smartphone technology has added to America’s collective ADHD.  And not just younger generations are guilty.  Adults can be hypocritical when they criticize their children for not focusing on others, when they are guilty of the same anti-social activity.

We can all embrace the incredible advantages of new technology, but also maintain the important art of face-to-face communication.  In the same way that kids today may never need to work out a math problem on paper, isn’t it important for them to know the multiplication tables?  It’s important for couples, families, friends and co-workers to never lose the unique human ability to share thoughts and feelings in a personal way that’s free from the tools and toys of modern society.

On Sunday mornings, I walk to church, which is literally around the corner from my apartment, and I do not bring my phone with me.  But when I walk out of church, I do what I do when I walk out of any building – I reach for my phone.  At that moment, when I realize I do not have my phone with me as I walk home, I feel a sudden sense of calm that I cannot call or text anyone and no one can call or text me.  It makes me realize I should make a greater effort to go places without my phone – or at least turn my phone off and create a “no-phone zone.”  Parents might want to consider establishing “no-phone zones” for their children at family settings and outings and that’s a good idea for couples, too.  Without the distraction of the phone, people are forced to communicate with each other.

A new national campaign has gone viral.  It’s the “Stop Phubbing” campaign, which was started by a 23-year-old in Australia.  Wouldn’t we all be better off if we stopped “phubbing” each other so often?  And the rate of “casual phubbing” continues to rise!

After the show the other day I was having lunch with a friend and as soon as we sat down at the table to order – I “phubbed” her.  And she responded immediately by “phubbing” me!  But, when the waitress came, we did stop “phubbing” and spent the rest of our time at lunch talking to each other.  However, we didn’t “phub” again until later that afternoon!
 
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Scoot: The Silent Majority versus the Vocal Minority
America is more divided now than at any other time in modern history!  We are divided along many lines, but the most obvious is along the line between Republicans and Democrats.  Most of America is not “far right” or “far left,” but “moderate.”

Ultra-conservative radio talk show hosts have given a negative connotation to the term “moderate,” defining it as a weak and indecisive position for judging politics and social issues.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “moderate” as “avoiding extremes of behavior and expression.”  But in the world of political debate, the word “moderate” is used to define Americans who are not “far right” or “far left.”  But, in the absence of being extreme, one is not disqualified from having strong, definite opinions about any and all issues.  The word “moderate” can also be used to describe those Americans who can be very opinionated, but refuse to view all political and social issues through the myopic political perspective of the “right” or “left” - and that actually describes the majority of this country.

In his book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, author Jonathan Haidt writes, “In moral and political matters we are often groupish, rather than selfish. We deploy our reasoning skills to support our team, and to demonstrate commitment to our team.”  Haidt is pointing out that we align ourselves with a team, Republican or Democrat, even though we may not agree with every belief of our team.

Rather than allow the media to force us to select a team, which we do to gain an identity, we should consider that most of us do not agree with every play our team calls.  There are countless Republicans who support issues overwhelmingly aligned with Democrats, like:  being pro-choice, in favor of new gun restrictions, supporting same-sex marriage, the legalization of marijuana and immigration reform.  And, countless Democrats are anti-abortion; oppose gun control, same-sex marriage, legalization of marijuana and immigration reform.
While the tendency is to define oneself as “right” or “left,” the majority of Americans are not “true” Republicans or “true” Democrats…technically, they fall into the category of “moderate.”

Over recent decades, the candidate, who wins the general presidential election, is the candidate positioned as a “moderate” of their party.  Bill Clinton may have been a liberal at heart, but he won both elections by presenting a more moderate image during the campaigns.  George W. Bush was known as the “compassionate conservative,” suggesting an ideology that is anything but “far right.”  Even Ronald Reagan was more moderate than the “far right” would have you believe today.

Election history is littered with the debris of “moderate” Republicans, who were pulled to the right by the Republican Party and lost the election:  Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney.  When each of these candidates was guided to the right from their more moderate images and true leanings, they were no longer operating from their comfort zone – they were not totally honest about their beliefs and projected opinions about issues based on trying to win the election, rather than how they honestly felt about the issues.  Honest words and body language became victims of an insincere ideology.  And as liberal as many Americans perceive President Obama to be, he won in 2008 by appearing to be a moderate candidate.

Political hypocrisy is rampart in America and is the result of the pressure to declare allegiance to one party or another, while maintaining many crossover views.  As the American people, if we are not honest about ourselves, how can we expect politicians be honest about themselves?

Younger generations (under 45), women and minorities have slowly been changing the political mood in America and that was a shock to the Republican Party in last year’s presidential election.  By the admission of the Republican Party leaders, they miscalculated the direction in which America was headed.  There is still a vigorous attempt by the party to attract that large segment of voters once known as “Reagan Democrats.”  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has appeared to be a moderate Republican, yet there are those within the party who suggest that if Christie hopes to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, he must move to the right.  Wrong!  Whether it’s Christie, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul or any other Republican in 2016, failure to present a moderate agenda during the campaign will ensure another victory for Democrats.  Even though many right-wing conservatives cling to the belief that Republicans must promote issues like, opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage - issues that are actually moral and personal issues, not political issues - as part of the party’s message, acceptance of those and many others as campaign issues will continue to make Republican candidates less attractive to voters.

In the same way that Republicans cannot be too far right, Democrats cannot afford to be too far left.  If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, she will have to work to establish a much more moderate image in order to win the general election.

The political and media icons of the “far right” and “far left” will see their stars begin to slowly fade as the light shines on a rising opinionated moderate movement.  The stark division between Republicans and Democrats has been mostly the product of the hate that has become part of today’s political discourse.

Rather than be one of the many sheep in a flock that blindly follows a political shepherd, challenge yourself to admit that you are not a political hypocrite and that you do not agree with every aspect of the party with which you most closely identify.

For years we heard about the “Silent Majority” in America.  In recent years, we can see that those who made the most noise in politics and in the media were actually the “Vocal Minority.”  Why shouldn’t the majority in America become the “Vocal Majority?”
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Scoot Blog: Is the federal government becoming more accepting of pot smokers?
Is the federal government signaling a major move toward more acceptance of illegal drug use in America?   

Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced “sweeping, systematic changes” that suggests a significant shift in America’s ‘war on drugs.’  Speaking at the American Bar Association meeting in San Francisco, Holder said that the Justice Department will no longer push for mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders that have no connections to gangs and have not been involved in violence or large drug trafficking groups.  Holder said, “Long sentences for low-level, non-violent drug offenses do not promote public safety, deterrence, and rehabilitation.”

As the public’s attitude toward penalties for marijuana arrests have changed and the states of Colorado and Washington have legalized the recreational use of pot, the federal government appears to be taking a big step in the direction of reflecting these changes in society.

When the legalization of marijuana for medical use first began to spread across the country, the federal government maintained that even the prescribed medical use of pot, though legal in some states, remained in violation of federal laws. Even though President Obama campaigned on the idea that the federal government would permit states to make their own decisions about medical marijuana use, the Justice Department continued to spend millions of dollars prosecuting alleged medical pot users in states where it was legal.
There has always been a disconnect between the federal government and the America public’s changing views on the medical and recreational use of marijuana.  The announcement from Attorney General Holder should be seen as shift in the federal government’s position on pot.

Last month, LA Governor Bobby Jindal signed bills into law that indicate a local change in attitudes toward some drug offenders.  One of the bills could lead to first-time offenders serving less time in prison and the other more clearly defines the time inmates are credited for good behavior.

Every generation has the power to redefine society when they each the status of being the Establishment.  It should come as no surprise that the changing attitudes toward marijuana appear to be led by the Baby Boomer generation that elevated pot to an acceptable status through the 60’s and 70’s.

The changing views on marijuana use in America are not part of America becoming more permissive.  The changing views are a reassessment of activity and crimes that involve more the individuals than society as a whole.  

Considering the incredible toll alcohol takes on society, it’s difficult to justify such harsh treatment of pot smokers.  This is not to suggest that America suddenly wants to promote pot use and is comfortable with the idea of stoned drivers behind the wheel, but it does seem to reflect the attitude that if you want to smoke pot – smoke pot – but be responsible and let’s find ways to regulate it.

Almost anyone in America, even teenagers, who want to smoke pot can find it and buy it.  Perhaps a more realistic approach would lead to better regulation.
 
 
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Scoot: New Debate on Pot Use Arises
Why are the government and politicians so reluctant to address the use of marijuana in America?

Twenty states have now approved marijuana for medicinal use.  Two states, Colorado and Washington, have voter approval for legalizing the recreational use of pot and are in the process of dealing with licensing and logistic procedures for the legal sale of marijuana.

The use of marijuana for medicinal or recreational use is still against federal law.  The federal government appears to be avoiding this issue. There is legislation in the House of Representatives that would prohibit the federal government from prosecuting complaints against pot-users and providers in states where the herb is legal.  House Bill 689, the States Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act,  is stuck in committee and has only 20 sponsors.  There is no equivalent legislation in the Senate.

A FOX News poll in March of this year showed 80% of Republicans believe marijuana should be legal, if it is prescribed by a doctor.
In 2009, the Attorney General’s office issued a directive to federal prosecutors to not focus any federal efforts and resources on individuals, who appear to be in compliance with existing state laws legalizing medical marijuana.  However, a report shows the Justice Department has spent nearly $300 million prosecuting alleged medical pot users in states where it is legal.

Furthermore, President Obama campaigned on the idea that the federal government would allow states to establish their own policies regarding the use of marijuana.  The Obama Administration has obviously failed to fulfill this campaign promise.

It can be argued that politicians representing the 20 states, that have legalized the medical use of pot, are ignoring their constituents.  Why are those in power so reluctant to honestly address the issue of marijuana use?

Is there a concern that recognizing the legal use of marijuana would contribute to what many perceive as America’s permissive society?  Are politicians so afraid of a major change in our drug policy that a reasonable approach to legalizing marijuana is impossible?  I cannot find a legitimate reason to continue America’s collective hysteria over legalizing pot.

There is concern that marijuana is a gateway drug that will lead to stronger, more serious drugs, but there is no overwhelming consensus about that concern.  There is also the concern that young people will smoke pot.  News Flash:  Young people are smoking pot and today’s Establishment was the generation that first made pot famous.  Young people should not drink, but alcohol is legal.

To further demonstrate the federal government maintains a selfish and unrealistic view of legal pot, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) claims the marijuana plant lacks medical attributes and has the potential to be as physically harmful as heroin.  The DEA has essentially ignored the opinions of tens of thousands of physicians, who recommend pot for some patients.  How can the government claim to know more than doctors, when it comes to the medical benefits of marijuana?

Our country is broke and yet, our government continues to spend billions of dollars to fight a drug war it continues to lose.  A Cato Institute study shows the government could save over $41 billion a year in enforcing drug laws.  In theory, and maybe in reality, legalizing marijuana would take the pot trade out of the hands of criminals, thus making many neighborhoods safer for citizens.

The fact is Americans, who want to smoke pot, can buy it and smoke it, even in states where the use of pot has not been legalized.  The only exception would be those who would like to “hit the pipe,” but can’t because of anti-drug rules in their workplace.  The question of whether businesses have the right to restrict employees from using legal substances is a topic for another blog and another show.

I am not promoting the use of marijuana or any other drugs, but I do think it’s time for Americans to pressure the government, and that means YOUR elected officials who are not addressing this issue, to elevate common sense above long-standing traditions in this country.  We seem to be a nation so resistant to change that we cling to ideas and policies that are completely outdated.  Change is the basis of everything.

(BTW – I don’t smoke pot and would not start, if pot became legal.  My opinion is consistent with my opinion on many other issues and is not personal.)
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Scoot Blog: Is society growing less tolerate of kids- or their parents?
There is an increase in ‘kid-free’ zones in society?  Is it because, as a society, we like kids less today, or is it because, as a society, we have become less tolerant of the parents who don’t control their kids?    

A Houston restaurant, La Fisheria, has just adopted a new policy about children – children under 8-years-old are not welcome after 7:00 pm.  Roy’s Public House, a once family-friendly restaurant in Toronto, Canada, has now declared the restaurant an “adult space.”  Only well-mannered kids are welcome and no disruptions will be allowed.  Some local parents threatened a boycott.

The no-frills air carrier, Air Asia, adopted a ‘child-free’ zone on long flights. Children under 12 are not allowed in the first 7 rows of the economy section, which is separated by bathrooms and curtains.  Malaysia Airlines bans children under 12 from the upper-deck economy section on its new Airbus 380.

In Toronto, Cineplex announced the inclusion of an ‘adult space’ in its upscale theaters.  At the posh Canal Place Theaters in New Orleans, no one under 18 is allowed at any time.  With roomier seating and a full food, cocktail and wine menu, the age limit is obviously also part of a plan to maintain an adult atmosphere for movie-goers.

While many parents denounce the idea of ‘kid-free’ zones in public settings and stand by their right to bring their children anywhere, it seems that this growing ‘kids-free’ trend is more about parents than it is about kids.  We have all seen children misbehaving and causing disruptions in restaurants, grocery stores and on planes and with their parents appearing to be unable to control their children.

There are some givens with children – babies cry and kids misbehave and test limits.  These are the understandable things we can all accept about children. Some children have other, more complicated, issues that lead to what might be deemed inappropriate behavior in public.  But it seems obvious that there is a growing number of parents who have bought into a more permissive style of parenting and have failed to establish limits and consequences for their kids. Many parents have been so self-centered that they have continued to focus more on their needs and desires than their responsibility to teach their children how to act properly in settings shared with other people.

The parent that says to their child in a grocery store, “Johnny, don’t do that again,” and when the child continues the behavior the parent says, “Johnny, if you do that again I’m going to punish you,” but the negative behavior continues is a parent who has, through ignorance or apathy, failed to teach their child respect for their authority and how to be respectful in public.  This is one of countless scenarios we have all witnessed.

Once on a flight, a young boy began kicking the back of my seat.  Looking over the seat, I made eye contact with his mother expecting her to get the message that her son’s behavior was annoying.  When the child continued kicking the back of my seat, I looked around the seat at him directly and said, “Stop that!”  The kid didn’t kick the seat the rest of the flight.  Either that mother was oblivious to her child being disrespectful or she was unable to control her child.  Whichever the case, that is a distressing trend in parenting today that yields the same outcome – misbehaving, disrespectful kids.

I don’t think we, as a society, have become less tolerant of children – I think we have become less accepting of the lack of parenting or poor parenting.  It’s not easy to be a parent, but if you are part of a child that comes into this world, it is your absolute responsibility to teach your children right from wrong and that there are definite consequences for negative behavior.  And that your children must be taught to be respectful of others.
Several generations of parents have been given permission to fail as parents and not have to accept responsibility for their failings.  The increasing acceptance that no one – parents or kids – are responsible for their behavior is the single most devastating trend in America over recent decades.  The lack of respect personal accountability in our society is subtly leading to everything from children misbehaving to crime to frivolous litigation that is a cost to all of us.
Though I don’t do it on every occasion, I have not hesitated to say something to the parents of obnoxiously misbehaving kids.  However, the reaction is what you might expect – “How dare you say anything about my child!”   That attitude is probably an instinctive defense of their inept parenting skills.

The world changes, but not always for the better.  There was a time when parents expected their children to be well-mannered in public and expected of themselves the responsibility of teaching their children what is not acceptable.

And for those who are quick to challenge that basic premise by saying that parents can no longer discipline their children – let me set the record straight. Contrary to what you have been led to believe, it is legal to spank you children.  It is not legal to ‘beat’ you children and parents are expected to know the difference.  But corporal punishment is not the only effective way to teach consequences for negative behavior.  ‘Time-out’ is an effective and proven method of discipline, but it takes more time and effort on the part of parents.  Too many parents are selfish and don’t take the time to make ‘time-out’ effective, instead they blame the system for not allowing them to spank their children.

Before those parents who will quickly defend their failure to control their children in a restaurant, a grocery store or on an airplane and say that society is becoming too intolerant of children – please consider that it’s not your kids we are frustrated with – it’s you!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Scoot Blog: Did CNN trump FOX News? What we can learn about the news media!
A TV news network’s investigation may have put pressure on the Obama administration to file the first criminal charges in the terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.

Republicans have demanded answers from the Obama Administration about what was known before the terror attack, why security was not increased to protect U.S. diplomats and why the American public was misled following the attack. After nearly a year, the Administration has filed charges against Libyan militia figure Ahmed Abu Khattala and other suspects not identified.  

The question is – did the Obama Administration feel pressure from the promotion and airing of the CNN news special, “The Truth about Benghazi?”  Or, was it a simple coincidence that the charges came at the time the special investigative report would reveal evidence that supports concerns that the Administration mishandled the terror attack in Benghazi?

For those who are so quick to criticize the ‘liberal media’ – it’s important to point out that the special, “The Truth about Benghazi,” is an investigative report from CNN, one of the networks consistently lumped into the category of the ‘liberal media.’  This may be somewhat of an embarrassing moment for the FOX News Channel, which had led to crusade against President Obama on Benghazi. Recently, the concentration of the pressure from FOX News on the Administration to act on the Benghazi attack seemed to subside and yield to other top news stories.

I do not always defend the media.  Understanding that those in the media, news and entertainment, tend to be more liberal than conservative, I have always warned that the ultimate goal of the media is to attract an audience by presenting the most compelling stories.

CNN is under new leadership and the change in direction is obvious.  Producing an investigative special on a hot-button issue, like the Benghazi attack, gave CNN the opportunity to trump FOX News on this issue.  Perhaps it was timing rather than pressure, but any network would get credit for encouraging the Obama Administration to act on a controversial issue if the Administration did act at the time a critical report was to be aired.

Regardless of whether CNN forced action by the Administration, or it was just luck with the timing of the special, this moment further supports the idea that while the media is biased – liberal or conservative – the most prominent force driving the media is presenting the stories that are compelling enough to attract the largest possible audience.  Since CNN’s direction change this year, the network has moved up in the ratings and, in some cases, is now second to FOX News.  So, it’s working.

When you watch the news, stop and think about the content of the stories you are seeing and the debates you are hearing.  Is it the news that really has a direct impact on your life, or is it often the news stories that grab and hold your attention?

We cannot change media bias, but as an audience, we can recognize that the media is biased and that the motive is to get ratings.  The Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” began with the airing of, what viewers thought was a documentary, “Megalodon: The Monster That Lives.”  At the end of the show, which included ‘experts’ talking about this huge shark, there was a disclaimer that the documentary was not about an actual animal – it was fake and the ‘experts’ were hired actors.

Backlash on social media was harsh and the Discovery Channel was criticized for duping the audience.  To spice up the beginning of “Shark Week,” the network known for factual documentaries, presented a show about a monster shark to capture the attention of an audience, rather than advance the knowledge of the audience.

The only defense we have against a biased media that is motivated by the goal of attracting an audience, is to be aware of that reality.
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Scoot Blog: Have Republican leaders let down the ‘Birthers?’
Maybe it is something we should have known all along:  Right-wing rocker Ted Nugent is a ‘birther!’

Last week, during one of his many anti-Obama rants, Nugent referred to President Obama’s “phony birth certificate” and then implied that Obama is a Muslim. Nugent was reacting to President Obama suggesting that some Republicans are spending too much time on what Obama called, the “phony scandals” of his administration.

Ted Nugent’s top reference to the claim that Barak Obama is not a U.S. citizen is Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  Arpaio was one of the most outspoken public figures in suggesting that Obama’s birth certificate was a fake and that Obama was not born on U.S. soil.

 The sheriff insisted that Obama was not born in the U.S., even after the White House released Obama’s long-form birth certificate.
Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Sheriff Arpaio and countless far-right radio talk show hosts have been among the loudest ‘birther’ voices, which seemed to quiet down in 2011.  The anti-Obama website, WND, continues to fuel the ‘birther’ and other conspiracies about Barak Obama.

If Barak Obama was not born on U.S. soil and has presented a phony birth certificate, then one question remains – why have the most powerful Republican leaders not pursued this controversy?  Is it fair to say that the Republican Party’s top leaders have turned their backs on the conservative ‘birthers’ in America? And why would they do that?

I often speak about the “United States of Hysteria,” a nation within a nation that quickly becomes hysterical over certain issues.  In my opinion, ‘birthers’ are citizens in the U.S.H. and have been riled up mostly by ridiculous and baseless Internet chat and blogs from those people who seem desperate to believe that any and all suspicions about Barak Obama are true.

‘Birthers’ should be more concerned about the leaders of the party they align themselves most closely with, rather than condemn what they call the ‘liberal media.’  If you are a ‘birther,’ where is your outage over the Republican Party’s abject failure to reveal that Barak Obama is not a U.S. citizen and should not be President of the United States?  Unless, Republicans, too, are part of a big conspiracy!

For those who will be quick to criticize me for defending President Obama – let me set the record straight – this is not an attempt to defend Obama as much as it is an effort to defend myself as a radio talk show host.  Criticism is something that is part of my business, but I try to avoid setting myself up for easy criticism by promoting a cause that has no legitimate credibility or force behind it.

During the election last year, ‘Birthers’ discredited the Republican Party with their dedication to a condemning campaign that was easily countered with facts.  But that doesn’t mean there are not still many who refuse to believe the facts.  Just because you don’t want something to be true, doesn’t mean it’s not true.

And if it was determined that Barak Obama is not a U.S. citizen, John McCain or Mitt Romney would not be president.  VP Joe Biden would become president and with a swift signature he would keep in place every bill signed by President Obama.

Ted Nugent and all the other ‘birthers’ should focus their attention on legitimate criticism of the Obama Administration and not the phony claim that Obama was not born in Hawaii.  I’m convinced that if there were photos of Obama’s head crowning during birth, there would still be those refusing to accept a truth they don’t want to be true.

And if you do have proof that Barak Obama is not a citizen – would you please forward it to my email address: Scoot@WWL.com?  I would love to have that breaking news on my show first!
 
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