“If you ever see a ghost, you can be assured it is not the deceased person you are seeing or someone who died that was unbeknownst to you; it is positively an evil spirit that is imitating the dead person,” writes Jack Wellman, Christian author and pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane, Kansas.
The King James Version of the Bible, published in 1611, refers to the Holy Ghost. The New King James Version of the Bible, published in 1982, translates Holy Ghost to Holy Spirit. As with so many Christian beliefs, there is much disagreement over whether the belief in ghosts contradicts Christian and biblical teachings.
If Christians believe in the resurrection of Jesus after His death and if there is belief in life after death, then why would it be difficult to accept the idea that a ghost or a spirit could manifest its presence to a mortal? And, why would that contradict Christian beliefs?
I have heard credible ghost stories from people I trust are relating an honest experience and not an exaggerated fantasy. I do believe some individuals are more susceptible to experiencing spirits than others. I have had only one encounter with a spirit and it was a brief, but a very comforting moment. I am getting chills as I write about it now.
I am a deeply sentimental person and through much of my life I have lived apart – often in different cities - from the people I love most – my son, parents, family members, significant others and I had a longstanding tradition of not filling my apartment with pictures of those I love and miss. That was my way of dealing with a life that led me to be apart from loved ones. For me, the pictures only reminded me of what I missed. Of course, thinking of those I love and miss are a constant part of my daily life, but I just chose not to display a gallery of pictures that only reminded me that I was not physically close to loved ones.
One night, while I was living alone in Denver and my son and longtime girlfriend were still living in Portland, OR, I was working at my desk and realized it was my mother’s birthday – April 25. I started thinking about my mom and I remembered that I had her beautiful bridal picture in a small storage unit in the basement of the apartment building I was living in. I’m not sure why, but at that moment I decided to go down to the basement and get that picture of my beautiful mother.
I brought the picture up to my apartment and placed it on the counter just behind me and I continued working on my radio show. When my father passed away not long after my mother died, I inherited my Dad’s cat, since no one else in the family could take the cat at the time. As I was working that night, the cat climbed up on the counter next to my mother’s bridal picture and began meowing in a way I had never heard him meow before.
When I turned around, I noticed he was staring up over the picture behind me. And at that moment – I sensed the presence of my mother. It was as if I felt a hug from her, but more than that, a sense of comfort came over me. I grew up calling my mom “Hon,” and when I was convinced she visited me, I looked up at the spot where the cat was focused – spent a moment thanking her for being a great mother to me and I said, “I love you, Hon!” And with that – I sensed she left. I always believed both of my parents were with me after they passed away, but that night, I was reassured they are, indeed, with me.
Honestly, I talk to my parents every day. I may never feel such a physical presence again, but I believe, in some way, they are both still taking care of me.
When I read the comment that I opened this blog with, I immediately thought about that experience with my mother’s ghost that night. To suggest that any ghost you see is not the deceased person you know, but is definitely an evil spirit was proof to me that some people are possessed by such strict beliefs they would dismiss that wonderful moment I had when my mom visited me.
It is not my goal to tell you what you should believe about ghosts and Christianity or any other religion, but I personally believe for different reasons there are those who have passed on who feel the need to make their presence known to this world. Outside of the nightmarish scenes in movies, those who may still be part of this world don’t appear to be evil – mostly just visitors.
Believing in life after death is the foundation for believing in ghosts – or spirits, if you prefer!
One Halloween myth demonstrates that it is true - the media can easily start and perpetrate hysteria because people believe what they want to believe.
Every Halloween parents are warned that trick-or-treating is dangerous. Sinister people have been known to put poison in Halloween candy and razor blades in apples and treats given to children on Halloween night. The fear of children being poisoned or injured by sharp objects embedded in their innocent treats led to local hospitals offering complimentarily x-rays of trick-or-treat candy and many parents took advantage of the opportunity to have their children’s candy x-rayed.
The fear of evil people with the intent to harm or kill children fits perfectly into the mystery of Halloween night. But the truth is – there were never any actual cases of strangers tainting Halloween candy with poison or sharp objects. So, how did this widely believed myth grow to the point of being a credible Halloween threat?
In 1974, a Waco, Texas man named Ronald Clark O’Brien did purposely put cyanide in candy that he gave to his 8-year-old son, Timothy O’Brien. Timothy died as a result of eating the candy. It was later discovered that Ronald had a large insurance policy on his young son and the tainted candy was an attempt to collect the insurance money. Ronald Clark O’Brien was convicted of murder and executed by lethal injection in 1984.
It was that tragedy in 1974 that spawned the popular myth that evil people are lurking in neighborhoods across America with the malicious intent of poisoning and harming innocent children as they trick-or-treat Halloween night. We are all guilty of believing incredible stories that have been proven to be urban myths. It is human nature to be excited about sharing new information with others. So, when we hear a story that has all the elements of something incredible and we will get credit for informing others – the temptation to believe and share the story becomes overwhelming.
There are very credible “ghost stories” most of us have believed and passed on to others. We wanted to believe those amazingly haunting stories so we could be the ones to enlighten others with our knowledge of a scary story we know will be shared with many others. Our desire to believe bizarre stories overpowers our rational thinking.
But the media is also to blame for giving the public what it wants to hear rather than what it needs to hear. I’m not exactly sure how the incident of a father putting poison in his young son’s Halloween candy in 1974 evolved into a media frenzy about the new dangers of trick-or-treating, but it appears the media fed on the public’s willingness to accept as fact a threat that never was real.
As we continue to analyze the relationship between the media and the audience in our society on “The Scoot Show” on WWL, it is fair to place blame on both the media and the audience for the false fear that has been conjured up about the dangers of Halloween treats. It appears that a story legitimately reported in the media was misinterpreted as a widespread phenomenon, rather than an isolated case. And when one person tells a story to another person and that person tells it to yet another person, each individual adds something extra to the story until it becomes a story that instills mass panic and fear.
A simple warning that it is possible to taint Halloween candy with poison could easily have led to the belief that such incidents have occurred. When a simple warning reached the level of hospitals offering to x-ray children’s Halloween candy, the story became totally legitimate.
Both the media and the audience may be to blame for the perpetration of the poison Halloween candy myth, but it should be acknowledged that the media instinctively has more interest in a story that causes fear in the minds of Americans than in a story that defuses fear.
Over the years the stories that dealt with warning people about poison and dangerous objects in Halloween candy were much more high-profile in the news than any stories that attempted to set-the-record-straight that the fear is completely unwarranted and indeed a myth.
We all love to believe a good ghost story and society loved embracing a new fear that fit the ambience of Halloween night! Maybe the thought that there is really something to fear in the midst of the innocence of trick-or-treating on Halloween gave adults a reason to be afraid. And being afraid seems to be part of the human existence. Why else would we willing go to a movie we know will scare us?
The hate that is so present in the political battles between the right and the left in Washington, D.C., on talk radio and in daily conversations across America is rooted in the current divisiveness of partisanship. Bipartisanship has become a lost political art and rather than recognize that it is the missing link in the evolution of the political process – it is celebrated as a team sport. There is such a wide spectrum of beliefs and opinions among both Democrats and Republicans that it is unrealistic to expect all of those who align themselves with one of the parties to agree with everything the party professes. Those who do are easily exposed as political hypocrites.
Conservative author and political commentator Ann Coulter condemned those Republicans, who were critical of members of their own party over the recent attempt to defund Obamacare that led to the 16-day government shutdown. Coulter is promoting her new book Never Trust A Liberal Over 3: Especially A Republican and she told HuffPost, “Look, if you’re a liberal, if your brain is wired that way, ya know – fine. But in the case of people like Rubio and McCain, Lindsay Graham, Huckabee, I think an awful lot of it is so they will get favorable press in the media.” Coulter said Republicans, who attack members of the Republican Party, should “just become a Democrat.”
Ann Coulter is wrong. The individuals of both parties should be encouraged to speak out against members of their own party, if they have honest disagreements. It is the blind loyalty to a party that gives the impression that both parties are only interested in advancing their own ideology and agendas, rather than doing what is in the best interest of the American people.
It would be nice, if we all could trust that people honestly believe in what they say. But, any scrutiny of the extreme voices like Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz or any of the far right-wing or left-wing pundits or politicians, reveals opportunistic motives behind their extremism. All of the aforementioned political pundits benefit financially from their extreme party-line positions. Having said that, there have been a few occasions when Limbaugh has disagreed with some extremists within the Republican Party and recently said that the government shutdown was the biggest political disaster he has ever witnessed. Over all, extremists have been rewarded by audiences that rally around the leaders of their flock. It is fair to question whether Ann Coulter is more interested in selling her new book than she is in speaking rationally about politics. To put forth the idea that any Republican, who disagrees with even the most extreme factions in the Republican Party, should switch parties and become a Democrat is similar to the mentality that led to the Republican Party’s failure in last year’s presidential election.
The reluctance of the Republican Party to show solidarity in denouncing the extreme and absurd views on the issues of rape, abortion and birth control from ultra-conservatives, like senatorial candidate Todd Akin and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, so tainted the image of Mitt Romney and the party that reelection of President Obama was certain. If the extreme right, as Ann Coulter and others suggest, reflects the heart and soul of America – then how did Obama win reelection in the face of a down economy, high unemployment and low consumer confidence? Obama benefited from right-wing extremists.
After the 2012 presidential election, the Republican Party was publically licking its wounds and many prominent Republican leaders warned that the party must change or face losing more elections. It didn’t take long for the far-right to again commandeer the direction of the entire Republican Party and bring the party’s image to a historic low.
So tarnished is the image of the Republican Party that Hillary Clinton has seized this moment to become visual and vocal as she positions herself as the candidate-to-beat in 2016. Clinton’s sudden presence on the political scene may not have been planned in advance, but is the immediate reaction to the public’s view of the Republican Party following the government shutdown.
Whether it’s fair to blame the Republican Party more than the President and Democrats is less significant in the minds of the American public than the perception that the Republicans were more to blame and appeared to be selfishly forcing their agenda rather than moving America forward. And, perception is reality.
Since it is obvious that America is not dominated by the extreme right or the extreme left, I am continually perplexed by how many of the extreme voices proclaim they are speaking for America.
Disagreement within the Republican Party or the Democrat Party may be the only evidence that everyone in this country is not a blind follower of their party – and that means some people are still courageous enough to express their honesty.
Adhering strictly to a party’s ideology makes one more of a cult follower than an independent thinker, and America was built on and has thrived on independent thinkers.
Are you a political cult member – or do you have the courage to disagree with your own party?
As speculation grows about Hillary Clinton seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, the pettiness of name-calling may be showing signs of increasing.
A few weeks ago, Bryan Fischer of the American Family’s Association, said Hillary Clinton would not only be the first female president – but she would also be America’s first lesbian president. Fischer also said on a radio talk show that Bill Clinton’s alleged ex-mistresses were told by Bill that Hillary was bisexual.
In her op-ed piece on the FOXNews.com website, Diana Falzone writes about the strong possibility that if Hillary Clinton does become the Democratic presidential nominee, there will be many attacks on here sexual preference and her appearance. A reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle recently tweeted out a picture of an anti-Hillary button that read, “KFC Hillary Special: 2 Fat Thighs/2Small Breasts…left wing.”
Falzone believes the personal attacks on Clinton, as a powerful politician with the potential to become president, expose the “myth of gender equality in the United States.”
While I do agree that Hillary Clinton will be the target of crude and derogatory comments about her sexuality and her appearance, personal attacks do transcend gender. The personal criticism of President Obama that I witness as a radio talk show host ranges from his skin color to his alleged Muslim faith to his sexuality. Interestingly, there is absolutely no evidence that would suggest Obama is Muslim or gay – other than the nonsensical ravings of those who lack the intelligence to rise above petty condemnation.
Name-calling and personal attacks also reach across political lines. President George W. Bush was the target of extremely hateful and personal criticism.
Even if it is on a subconscious level, many Americans degrade and attack things they don’t understand and things that represent change. As a nation, we instinctively protect the status quo. The election of Barak Obama as America’s first black president was, and still is, a shock to many Americans. The thought of a woman being elected president is equally unsettling to many people in this country.
There will be those who will try to argue that they just don’t like Hillary because of her policies and would be excited to support a conservative female candidate. But there seems to be enough evidence to indicate that many Americans resist changes to institutional traditions.
The subconscious opposition to a black president, a female president, same-sex marriage or the legalization of marijuana is rooted in the fear that an emotional security blanket is being ripped from the hands of Americans. A president’s skin color or gender or same-sex marriage or legalized pot should be of little concern to any Americans who care only about the progress of our nation. And yet, there is an undercurrent of resistance that subtly supports opposition to change.
Malicious intent is not always behind resistance to change. Every day our world seems to be changing faster. The world we live in today barely reflects the world many of us grew up in and today’s young generations will not recognize the world as they mature. It may be human instinct to cling to what is known, but we should also recognize change is the result of the human instincts that have led to the changes that make life better on so many levels. The human instinct to change is the reason for our survival as a species.
Change is the basis of everything and we should not fear change just because it’s change.
The hate in America that I so often talk about on “The Scoot Show” on WWL inspires the personal attacks that have nothing to do with the content of a person’s character.
As adults, we have to accept responsibility for participating in the same type of name-calling that was part of our lives as young kids on the playground – and I’m not sure the current content of name-calling is any less juvenile.
Have you noticed how much bullying comes up in the news? It’s almost as if bullying is a new phenomenon that is suddenly plaguing a young generation.
Bullying has probably been part of human encounters from the origin of our species, but now that it seems to be a recurring element in an increasing number of news stories, we should analyze whether it is a new concern or a new media trend that has been instantly adopted by society. There is always the danger of new media trends creating hysteria that actually disguise the real problems.
This week there was another school shooting – it occurred at the Sparks Middle School near Reno, NV. A 12-year-old student brought his parents’ gun to school and shot and injured two students, killed a beloved teacher and then shot and killed himself. What made this tragedy so shocking was the 12-year-old boy was described as a “nice kid,” and one student said he was the kind of kid who would make you smile if you were having a bad day. She also said she witnessed the young student being bullied on several occasions and she believes that his actions were an act of revenge. Another student said the boy pointed at a group and said, “You ruined my life and now I’m going to ruin yours.”
Last week, a high school student in Austin, TX posted on Facebook that he was going to take his own life, and later that same day he took out a gun during lunch and shot himself in front of other students. Bullying was part of that story.
Also last week, there was a story about two teenage girls who were arrested and face a felony charge for constantly bullying a 14-year-old, who committed suicide in Winter Haven, FL.
And bullying was even part of a story this week about the father of a high school football player in Ft. Worth, TX who has filed a complaint accusing an opposing coach for bullying his son’s high school football team, because the final score in the game was 91-0.
These stories are just a few of numerous recent stories that include bullying as a contributing factor in senseless tragedies – or in the case of the football game – severe humility. But is bullying really to blame – or has it become a marketable tool that’s being used by the media to attract attention to stories by creating panic in society?
Asking the question – which came first – the public’s new belief that bullying is suddenly a new factor to explain tragedies, or is the media creating that new belief in the minds of the public – is like asking which came first – the chicken or the egg? It really doesn’t matter since we now have both chickens and eggs. If we can determine that a media trend is the result of the instincts of the media to attract attention by instilling hysteria and panic, then we are more certain to focus on the real problem rather than media hype.
In a recent Scoot Blog titled, “Is Bullying to Blame for Teen Suicide,” I wrote, “Since it is estimated that 90% of the teens who commit suicide suffer from a mental disorder, it may not be easy to determine how much episodes of bullying contributed to teen suicide.” Mental health issues are vague and complicated and the media loves stories with easily understood reasons for tragedies, but it’s just not always that simple. We want to know the definite reasons for tragedies and that makes us feel as if we understand the problem and therefore can prevent future tragedies. But that rarely leads to real solutions.
Bullying most certainly contributes to tragedies, but should not be blamed as the direct cause as so many stories seem to imply. When the father of a high school football player uses the term bullying in a complaint about an opposing coach whose team beat his son’s team 91-0, you can’t help but consider that bullying has become a new and convenient scapegoat for tragedies and human humiliation.
To put this in further perspective – the winning coach in the game that ended 91-0 actually pulled his starters after 21 plays and began to let the clock run uninterrupted at the beginning of the 3rd quarter. It doesn’t seem as if the coach was trying to bully the other team. And yet, because of the word bully in the story – it will attract much more attention as it feeds the new hysteria over something that isn’t really new.
Bullying is serious and with the ability to emotionally bully someone through social media – phones, computers, tablets, etc. – escaping the constant presence of bullying has become more of a challenge today than it was in the past, when you just walked away from the source of bullying. But there are ways to block and ignore bullying on phones and through social media that essentially amount to walking away. But the new panic over bullying is rendering a society that appears helpless to react.
As bullying has risen to the level of causing tragedies or humiliating situations, we should ask if society is too quick to embrace bullying as an excuse for failure. And if bullying is a new excuse for tragedies – then we, as a society, continue on a path of diminishing the importance of personal accountability, which is the foundation of a civilized society.
The biggest problems in America can be solved by returning to the time when individuals were held accountable for their behavior, their decisions and their actions without instinctively blaming another person or outside influence. Today, when something tragic happens, we are quick to deflect any blame from our children, or from ourselves as parents and adults.
There are now consistently stories in the news about groups that are promoting the idea that we must stop bullying. Since bullying exists everywhere – on the playground, in school, in the workplace and even in social settings like parties and bars – it would be better for us to focus on teaching a young generation to deal with bullying rather than naïvely think we can somehow make it disappear. And when a new young generation is taught to deal with bullying, as we were when we grew up, we will be teaching them a valuable lesson they will take with them throughout their lives.
Attempts to completely erase human actions that are inevitably part of the human psyche demonstrate our desire to find simple solutions to deeply complicated problems, when the real solutions are complicated and present greater challenges. And doesn’t this desire fit perfectly into the instant gratification mentality that is now such an integral part of America?
Too often we hear about the obnoxious and classless behavior of sports fans and players, but we are occasionally reminded that some do have class.
At the Jets/Patriots game over the weekend in New Jersey, a video shows a man wearing a No. 80 Jets jersey punching a woman, who appears to be wearing a red and blue Patriots shirt. The video-taped incident occurred either during the game or shortly after. I know fans can be antagonistic after a visiting team comes into their home stadium and beats their team, but the Jets beat the Patriots in overtime. So why would the man punch woman, who appeared to be a Patriots fan? The assault is being investigated by the New Jersey State Police.
In the news, there have been reports of a rash of altercations at professional sporting events in San Francisco. Over the years, a few Saints fans have been the victims of aggressive behavior from opposing fans in away stadiums. There are plenty of examples of poor sportsmanship, but what happened at the beginning of NBC’s Sunday Night Football last night in Indianapolis is a reminder that there are still classy players and fans in the sports world.
Last night’s nationally televised game between the undefeated Denver Broncos led by Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts provided the backdrop for the much-anticipated return of Peyton Manning to the stadium that was his home stadium during his 14 years as the QB and spiritual leader of the Colts.
When Peyton Manning spoke to the media during the press conference to announce he was being cut by the Colts, Peyton defined the word “class.” He spoke with great respect and appreciation for the Colts team, management and Colts fans. It’s not always easy to be classy when you are being replaced, but Peyton was the epitome of class.
As the Broncos ran out of the tunnel at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis last night, Colts fans began the ceremonial “booing” that greets opposing teams in every NFL stadium around the league. But, when #18 came into view, the boos turned to cheers for Peyton…even though he was now dressed in the uniform of the enemy. And, to accent and reflect the class of the fans in Indianapolis, the Colts organization presented a video tribute to Peyton Manning when he was wearing a Colts uniform. The video played throughout the stadium as Peyton warmed up on the sidelines. The crowd rose to its feet to give Peyton a standing ovation. As a way of saying “thank you,” Peyton removed his helmet, smiled and gestured to fans, who still loved him and all he did for the Colts and their city. That moment showed 360 degrees of the meaning of “good sportsmanship!”
I personally witnessed a similar display of sportsmanship in 1997 at an NHL playoff game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburg Penguins in Philadelphia. A star player for the Penguins, who was also one of those beloved fan-favorites in his sport, Mario Lemieux, announced he was retiring at the end of that season. Much was publicized about Lemieux’s final game on the home ice in Pittsburg during the playoff series, but the Philadelphia Flyers were dominating the series and it seemed inevitable that Lemieux would play his final NHL game on enemy ice in Philadelphia.
Imagine the rivalry – Pittsburg sits in the western part of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia in the eastern part of the state. It is not an understatement to describe Philadelphia sports fans as among the most unforgiving and brutal sports fans in the nation. As it appeared the Flyers would beat the Penguins in Philadelphia, I was consciously thinking about how those die-hard Flyers fan would react to the final game of one of the league’s most celebrated stars in their stadium. It was a sports moment I will never forget.
The Flyers did win that game and eliminated the Penguins from the playoffs. When the final buzzer sounded, the crowd naturally cheered for the victorious Flyers, but there seemed to be a moment when Lemieux was still on the ice…and remaining on their feet, the crowd began cheering for Lemieux. The Philadelphia fans were asking Lemieux to skate around the ice. Understanding how rough the Philadelphia fans could be to opposing teams and their visiting fans, I got chills watching the Philadelphia fans give a standing ovation to an opposing player and showing respect and good sportsmanship to a player, who meant so much to the game they loved!
Standing there in that stadium at that moment, I knew I would always remember the message about how respectful sports fans can be. Watching the respectful greeting of Peyton Manning last night during the Sunday Night game in Indianapolis, I was again reminded that “good sportsmanship” is still alive and we should always take note of those moments to counter the many times the sports world is exposed to “bad sportsmanship.”
But, in the spirit of competition – it was only the Indianapolis appreciation for Peyton Manning that was cordial. The Colts knocked the Broncos from the unbeaten ranks by beating Denver 39-33.
After the Colts scored and went ahead 19-14 in the 2nd quarter of the game – a network camera focused on a sign a fan was holding that seemed to sum it all up: “WE MISS OUR MANNING – BUT LUCK IS ON OUR SIDE!”
It’s important to remember that we can be passionate about the Saints or our favorite sports teams, but we also need to put into perspective it’s just asport and the hate and ugliness for opposing teams and fans should never be disguised as simply showing love for your team.
It is unfortunate that I regularly talk about teen suicide on “The Scoot Show” on WWL, and this week there have been new tragic stories of teen suicides in the news.
A 17-year-old student at Lanier High School in Austin, TX wrote a post on Facebook announcing he was going to end his life and wondered if anyone would really care. He also said he was sorry for bringing pain to his mother. A girl, who witnessed the suicide, said the teenager took out a handgun during lunch and shot himself in the head, falling to the floor. Did anyone pay attention to his Facebook post?
The story of a 15-year-old high school student in Alabama who committed suicide was another sad story mentioned on the show this week. The Alabama teen committed suicide after he learned he was facing possible expulsion from school and criminal charges for streaking across the field during a recent football game at his high school. The school took the streaking incident seriously and it was reported. If convicted, the teen would have been registered as a sex offender. Was suicide his only escape?
And then there was another story this week about a teen who committed suicide after she was bullied for months through social media. Two of the girls who bullied the girl have been arrested in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the country.
Teen suicides continue to increase and the tragic stories cause most of us to ponder – how could life seem so hopeless to a teenager that suicide was the only option? Suicide at any age is tragic, but when we hear about teen suicide and think about how hopeless and distraught someone must feel to take their own life at such a young age, we are lost for an explanation.
I know what it is like to be bullied and to be made fun of and to be the last person picked to be on someone’s team. I know what it feels like to be rejected by girls and snubbed by peers. But I don’t know if bullying today, through social media that can be difficult to escape, is harder to cope with - or if young generations today have not been taught the basic survival skills we learned in the past.
It is imperative for every parent to teach their children the coping skills to deal with bullying. The first simple lesson is that nothing anyone else says to you, or about you, can actually change who you are.
We now live in a society that has developed the collective belief that we have a right to go through life and not be offended by anything or anyone. There will always be things that offend us in life and no one should expect, or demand, a world that is free of things we find offensive.
Teaching children to live in a world that can be offensive at times only prepares them for the real world. When I think about the times I was constantly bullied and rejected, I realize I am using those skills today, when I feel bullied. Bullying doesn’t stop after you leave your teen years. There are bullies in the workplace and in social settings – bullies are everywhere. Failing to teach teens to handle bullying is failing to teach them a lesson they will take with them throughout their lives. And trust me – I use those skills nightly when I deal with some of the texts that come into the show!
I don’t know whether it was taught to me by my parents or if it is something innate, but I never allowed bullies or rejection to define me. In fact, when I was young and to this day, I take being bullied as a compliment. If someone is going to the trouble to bully me – then I must be a threat to them on some level. The truth is…no person is liked by everyone. Acceptance of that fact goes a long way toward understanding how to put bullying into perspective. Forty-nine percent of this country can hate you - and you can still become president!
Our quest to achieve a politically correct society has contributed greatly to the idea that we have this right not to be offended. Younger generations have been protected and coddled by their parents’ generations to the point where they are no longer taught the emotional survival skills we learned.
Dr. Keith Ablow, a FOX News contributor, wrote in his op-ed piece at FoxNews.com that the word “bullying” originated as a term used to describe aggressive actions on the playground at school, and he believes the term for what occurs every day in social media should be elevated to the status of “psychological assault.” The two girls arrested in the case of the teen who committed suicide are being charged with “felony aggravated assault.”
More important than updating the term “bullying” to better fit in a world dominated by social media, is the focus that should be placed on teaching teens to cope with the bullying they will inevitably encounter in their lives.
We are also witnessing the application of existing laws and the introduction of new laws in response to the ways social media is changing the world. If someone who is bullied commits suicide – should the person or persons who bullied that person be held accountable? That’s a legitimate question, but a question without a clear cut answer.
Since it is estimated that 90% of the teens who commit suicide suffer from a mental disorder, it may not be easy to determine how much episodes of bullying contributed to a teen suicide.
A teen who commits suicide may have mental and emotional issues that go beyond being bullied. It’s important for parents to stay in touch with their children on every level and probe their minds to see where there are and what they are thinking and how they are processing life.
Over the years, certain music has been blamed for encouraging teen suicide. Today, bullying is being blamed. The inability to cope with listening to certain music or to cope with being bullied may actually be the symptom of the problem – rather than the problem.
I’ve heard about cruise ships that offer cruises to nowhere! You get on a ship and just cruise around and literally go nowhere – ending up where you boarded the cruise. Republican, Democrats and many Americans have just been on a Cruz to nowhere with Captain Ted Cruise.
What started out, over two weeks ago, as a bold attempt to defund Obamacare using a government shutdown as a threat, a few Republicans led mainly by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), is expected to finally end tonight after a bitterly-fought political game in Washington, D.C.
Since the beginning, I’ve been consistent with my observation that this strategy by a fringe wing of the Republican Party would prove to be a mistake and would damage the image of the party. That is exactly what has happened. Now, the final results of the game are reaching political scoreboards across the country and there is nothing that should be a surprise to anyone.
The listeners, who have disagreed with my observations, now find themselves disagreeing with many who are considered leaders of conservative ideology in America. Among those who agree with the assessment that this right-wing attempt to hold the government hostage was a mistake include: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Republican Congressman Peter King, Christian conservative Pat Robertson and now Rush Limbaugh.
Republican Congressman Peter King, who has often been a harsh critic of President Obama’s administration, said in an interview with HuffPost.com, “Thisparty is going nuts!”“So many people I run into are normal people – and I hate touse that term – they just can’t understand what’s going on.” King added, “Theyjust think Republicans are crazy.”
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich has denounced the strategy of defunding Obamacare or shutting down the government. Pat Robertson said in a Right Wing Watch video, “The Republicans have got to wave the white flag and say, ‘Wefought a good fight, now it’s over.’”
And, Rush Limbaugh…“The Republicans have done everything they can to try to make everyone like them and what they’ve ended up doing is creating one of the greatest political disasters I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.”
The Washington Post said the political play by some Republicans that led to the government shutdown was a “humiliating failure” and they had “lost all control oftheir majority.” An editorial in the conservative Wall Street Journal said the Republicans “might as well hand the Speaker’s gavel to Senate Democratic leaderHarry Reid.”
Polls have consistently shown Americans are disgusted with both Democrats and Republicans over this child’s play in Washington, but nationally, Republicans are getting most of the blame from voters. An NBC poll, which Senator Cruz dismisses as a poll reflecting just Democrat voters, shows 70% of the respondents said the Republican Party put its agenda ahead of what is best for America. But, removing all of the responses from Democrats, the poll still shows a majority of respondents, 56%, still blamed Republicans more than Democrats.
Both Cruz and Lee, who led the charge, have seen their favorability ratings drop in their home states since June. The Houston Chronicle published a piece expressing regret for endorsing Ted Cruz, saying Cruz does not comprehend the importance of reaching across the political aisle.
During this most recent political standoff, President Obama, Harry Reid and the Democrats have no reason to celebrate any victory, because they all contributed to this game that should be seen as an American embarrassment. However, as the Republicans prepare for next year’s mid-term elections and the presidential election in 2016, they must understand that Americans will continue to resist any attempts to steer this country to the far right. That was a message many Republican leaders acknowledged after Obama’s re-election last year. But, so indicative of the self-righteous far right, that message was forgotten.
It is easy to criticize the messenger if you disagree with the message; but the list of prominent messengers now carrying the same message continues to grow. Senator Ted Cruz’s insistence that they won this political game only further proves this was a game. It also demonstrates how out-of-touch some politicians are when it comes to the real voice of the America people.
Before we the people blame either side for this unnecessary turmoil, let us remember it is our fault, too. We put them there - and we kept them there. Too many of our elected officials think they represent their districts, but if their districts do not represent the America most of us know and love, then their party will be doomed to fail in national elections.
The most vocal Americans do not reflect this country. The vocal minority is just that – a minority in numbers, and until the silent majority becomes more vocal with their voices and their votes – don’t expect anything to change. Are you ready to become more vocal?
Veteran sportscaster and analyst Bob Costas is no stranger to using his sports stage to promote his opinions on political-oriented issues.
During the NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast of the game between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys, Costas said this was an “appropriate time” to address the controversy over the Redskins’ name and whether it should be changed. “Ask yourself what the equivalent would be if directed toward African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians or members of any other ethnic group. When considered that way, ‘Redskins’ can’t possibly honor aheritage or a noble character trait, nor could it possibly be considered a neutral term. It’s an insult, a slur no matter how benign the present-day intent.”
By using that game as a pulpit to support changing Washington’s team name not only adds greater significance to the controversy, but spawns yet another controversy. Should Bob Costas have invaded the homes of Americans watching a football game with his provocative opinion?
There was criticism, last December, when Costas gave a 90-second rant against guns following the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher. Costas said the more guns we have in our society the more domestic disputes will end in tragedy. Many fans expressed outrage over a politically-charged issue suddenly becoming part of the coverage of a national sporting event that many may considered a safe haven from political controversy.
First of all, Bob Costas has a right to say whatever he wants to say. So the question is whether or not that venue should be used to express personal commentary. Before you answer that question, there are a few things to consider – unless being a hypocrite doesn’t matter.
Would you have applauded Bob Costas’ use of the national spotlight to express an opinion you agree with? Bruce Springsteen is loved by millions of right-wing conservatives, but “The Boss” is a big supporter of President Obama and has not been shy about using his concert stage as a pulpit to endorse and support Obama and his policies. Would you not go to a Springsteen concert because of the possibility that he might say positive things about President Obama? Should music stars, like Springsteen refrain from promoting their political agendas during their shows?
If you believe Bob Costas, Bruce Springsteen and other performers should not promote their political views on stage, then would you agree that Kid Rock, Ted Nugent and countless country music stars should not use their stages to promote their conservative ideology?
The political debate in America is flooded with hypocrisy. If you respect freedom of speech – then you MUST respect freedom to express political opinions you disagree with. If you condemn Bob Costas for expressing his liberal views in the context of an entertainment venue, then you would have to condemn Kid Rock and the country music stars who blatantly express their conservative views. The only way to not become a hypocrite is to believe that no celebrities should allow their political opinions to become part of an event that is not expected to have a political theme or backdrop.
But the question is – how do we prevent celebrities from injecting their political views on any public stage? Any legislation banning the expression of political opinions during a televised event, like NBC’s Sunday Night Football, would be declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. And any attempt to keep political messages out of entertainment events could ultimately prevent a performer singing a song with a patriotic theme or an anti-government theme. Think back to songs that would have been prohibited during the 1960s?
Nothing can be done to censor political opinions by personalities and celebrities on national television, radio or on a rock or country music stage, so the only alternative is to simply ignore the opinions you disagree with and understand that there is no national precedent for massive numbers of Americans suddenly changing their political beliefs based on what they hear from a celebrity. Quite often, exposure to an opinion you disagree with only reinforces your beliefs.
It is time for America to stop becoming hysterical over the fear that a celebrity is going to change the course of this country by expressing an opinion.
It is painful to watch highlights of the Saints – Patriots game…because every Saints fan, every player and even Coach Sean Payton all know it was a game we should have won.
In a Scoot Blog last week, titled, “The Saints As a Metaphor for Life,” I wrote: “Facing and overcoming challenges, demanding peak performances from yourself, knowing what it takes to win in life, learning how to lose and coming back from those loses and the idea of having ‘something to prove’ are all the reasons football is a metaphor for life!” And there are lessons to be learned from the Saints’ loss to the Patriots.
Here’s the great news – the Saints are 5 – 1 with a significant lead in their division and show signs of being a championship team, but as the team and the coaches review the game and why the Saints lost, we can also review the game and apply the lessons they will learn to our lives.
Whether it’s a football opponent, a proposal to a huge client or a person you are trying to attract – know your opposition. In the time-honored book, The Art ofWar, Chinese military general and strategist, Sun Tsu promoted the importance of knowing your enemy. Give credit to Patriots’ Coach Bill Belichick, he knew the enemy, the Saints, and he was prepared.
The no-huddle, fast-paced offense threw the Saints tenacious defense off balance from the beginning of the game. The Patriots’ defense essentially took productive tight end Jimmy Graham out of the game, but Graham may not have been at his peak performance due to a potential injury. The Patriots’ defense successfully interrupted the rhythm of QB Drew Brees and the effects were obvious. Truthfully, Brees missed a lot of targets and some of those targets, including Graham, dropped passes they should have caught.
But - the Saints fought back in the 2nd half and the running game started to work. Even Brees ran for 16 yards! It was 3rd and 20 with under 4:00 to play – Brees hit Kenny Stills for a touchdown pass and with 3:29 remaining the Saints took the lead 24-23.
The Patriots had the ball on their own 25 yard line – it was 4th and 6 and Belichick went for it. The pass was dropped and the Saints took over! Victory seemed certain and many of the Patriots’ fans began an exodus from the stadium. The Saints had come back to beat the Patriots and would be 6-0! And then something very unlike Sean Payton began to happen.
With 2:29 left in the game the Saints were forced to settle for a field goal, but now led 27-23. Brady and the Patriots got the ball back with just over 2:00 minute left in the game – Brady threw the ball up and the Saints intercepted! And with a Saints victory even more certain, the exodus from the stadium in Foxboro grew!
But the Saints could not get a 1st down and they were forced to punt – giving the ball back to the talented Tom Brady again as the game neared an end. And with just 10 seconds left…well, you know what happened. The Patriots scored and won the game 30-27.
The Saints offense gave the ball back to the Patriots twice near the end of the game and all the Saints had to do was make a few 1st downs to secure the win. It was very uncharacteristic of a Sean Payton Saints team to watch the Saints suddenly become a team that was playing not to lose – rather than a team that was playing to win. During his post-game press conference, Coach Payton was asked about the play-calling during the last few offensive series and he said they were trying to “possible” get a 1st down. “Possibly” get a 1st down – you should expect to get a 1st down.
What the players and the coaches will learn from that game is what we can all learn about life. The Saints protected their lead and the strategy of protecting something is different from the strategy of winning something. Years ago a program director told me something I have always remembered, “Scoot, it’s a lot harder to defend being at thetop than it is to get to the top.” He was right.
I wonder if late in the game the Saints and the coaching staff had already begun protecting the 6-0 record that they had in their minds, rather than continuing the aggressive fight they had started at the beginning of the 2nd half. This was the nationally televised game and much of the nation was watching. LIFE LESSON: Don’t stop your fight until it is over and never settle for what appears to be a victory in anything you do.
It is natural for some people to develop a false sense of success even before the battle is over – whether it’s a football game, a sales pitch or anything you do. This assessment of what happened to the Saints yesterday is not criticism of Coach Payton, Brees or the team, as much as it is using the human dynamics of what the Saints experienced yesterday as a metaphor for things we deal with in our lives. And you can trust that Payton, Brees and the entire team and coaching staff are going through this process themselves.
Since letdowns are inevitable in life, rather than going into the bye week with a 6-0 record, the last-second loss to the Patriots might cause the Saints to be even more relentless in their quest for the playoffs.
Remember the phrase “Finish Strong” – the Patriots stole that philosophy from the Saints yesterday. Let’s hope the Saints come back after the bye week in full possession of the “Finish Strong” philosophy – and that applies not only to a season, but to each individual game and also to everything we do in our lives!
I have always been accused of looking for “meaning” in everything…from movies that were not intended to carry any important meaning, to sports, and everything in between. If we watch sporting events to be entertained – aren’t those events even better if we can actually learn something about life?
As I was watching the Saints and head the commentators talking about new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and the success he is having turning around the D this year, I focused on what they were saying about how he had ‘something to prove’ this year. After being fired as the Defensive Coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys last season, Saints Coach Sean Payton hired Rob Ryan, amid some controversy, to turn the around a squad that was historically bad last year.
Now, the Saints defense currently ranks 4thin the NFL in points allowed and 11thin yards allowed and the aggressive new defense of Rob Ryan has is a major reason the Saints are 5-0!
When I heard the observation that Ryan had ‘something to prove,’ I thought about how following the Saints, or any team, can be a metaphor for life. There are times in our lives, personally and professionally, that we have ‘something to prove’ and we can look back on those moments as times when we seemed to excel.
Sean Payton returning to the Saints after last year’s suspension has demonstrated that if you get knocked down in life or suffer a setback, you can come back strong. Payton’s year off also might have allowed him to step back from the forest to see the trees. We should all find moments – even during our workday – to step away from what we are focused on and assess our direction.
Last week, Drew Brees had “something to prove.” Since becoming the Saints QB, Brees had never beaten the Bears in Chicago. The game this past Sunday was also a game in an outdoor stadium with a field that was wet and notorious for bad footing. The Saints entered the game against the Bears undefeated at 4-0, and there was talk that the Saints would lose to the Bears, in part, because the Saints are a “dome team.”
Drew Brees worked his magic, the defense smothered the Bears, and the Saints won 26-18. It was only one game, but some of the obvious challenges were met by those who had “something to prove.”
So far this season, the Atlanta Falcons have become a metaphor for what can happen if you feel like you are entitled to something, and what can happen if you don’t know how to respond to pressure. The Falcons have had injuries to deal with, as have the Saints… but the Falcons have lost close games, which means they have had the talent to win, but choked under pressure, and now find themselves 1-4. This was a Falcons team that expected to build on last year’s great season and make it to the Super Bowl this year. At this point, the Falcons will struggle to get to the playoffs.
Andy Reid was fired by the Philadelphia Eagles after last season and was hired by the Kansas City Chiefs. Last year, the Chiefs finished the season 2-14, and this year the Chiefs are also undefeated at 5-0! Andy Reid obviously had ‘something to prove’– and so far, he’s proving it.
We can also learn about life from the challenges that losing teams face, like the New York Giants…A team with talent and a stellar quarterback that is now 0-5. We have all been at low points in our lives and the only way to get back on top is to never accept defeat. The winless Giants have to learn to forget the painful start of the season and find the confidence and spirit they need to start winning – a situation we have all experienced.
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is having an All-Pro season, and is among the elite tight ends in the league. While he may not have anything to prove, Graham will become a free agent and could be motivated by proving that he deserves to be highly-compensated for his talent. I’m sure you can think of times when you were motivated to reach your peak performance when you realized even more opportunity awaited.
It’s a flat fact that the Saints, or any other team, can be the source of very real motivation and inspiration. As you watch the individual and collective challenges teams face through the season and week to week, why not apply the emotions you have to your own life?
There are times that I get mad at myself because I didn’t do something exactly the way I wanted to do it on the air and as I battle the effect that has on me at the moment. And then, I will actively think about what a great quarterback Drew Brees is and that he throws interceptions or incomplete passes, but forgets those momentary failures and comes right back with a solid performance as if the mistakes never happened.
Rob Ryan seemed to take over the Saints defense with an attitude of having “something to prove.” I have thought about the times in my career when I felt I also had “something to prove,” and witnessing this turnaround is inspiring and applicable to our lives.
Since most avid sports fans fantasize about being part of the team and have definite thoughts about how the players and the team should perform…then why not use that as personal motivation and to give yourself the advice you would give a player or the team?
Facing and overcoming challenges, demanding peak performances from yourself, knowing what it takes to win in life, learning how to lose and coming back from those losses and the idea of having “something to prove” are all of the reasons that football is a fantastic metaphor for life!
The Constitution does not guarantee anyone’s right to go through life and without being offended. Due to this modern-day premise that every person and every group must be protected from being offended, America may be on a path to approve a new constitutional amendment that would ban comedy and political speech!
Currently in the news there are two high-profile incidents that highlight the misunderstood concept that all Americans have a right to be protected from anything that might offend. Miley Cyrus, who was the host and musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend has come under fire from an organization that claims Cyrus made a comment on the show that makes light of a serious medical condition.
The Stroke Association has taken offense with Miley Cyrus explaining that she keeps sticking her tongue out during performances because “I’m having tinystrokes, yo!” Patrick Olszowski, Head of Campaigns and Policy at the Stroke Association said, “Having a mini-stroke is no laughing matter.” He went on to say, “Sticking out your tongue is not a sign of having a stroke” and “Having astroke is a serious medical emergency.”
We seem to have become such a sensitive nation that any time anyone says or does anything that a person or a group deems offensive, that a retraction and apology must follow and there should also be a promise to never offend that person or that group again.
The other incident that is getting national attention is the new dispute over the name of the Washington Redskins. The Oneida Nation is putting pressure on the NFL to demand that the team change its nickname because the “Redskins” is offensive to Native Americans. The open promotion of diversity has made the NFL a ripe target for anyone who feels that the group they represent has been offended.
The owner of the Redskins, Daniel Snyder, has said he will not change the name of one of the NFL’s iconic teams. President Obama recently weighed in on the debate by saying, “If I were the owner of the team and I knew that the name of myteam – even if they’ve had a storied history – was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it.” In the context of the population of the United States, it is debatable how “sizable” the offended group is and not all Native Americans are offended by the name the “Redskins.”
Political correctness has led to this moment in time when every individual and every group believe they have a right to demand that something be done whenever confronted with anything they consider offensive. The positive side of political correctness is that, as a nation, we have leaned that we should not go out of our way to offend others and we should be considerate of every individual or group. The major downside of political correctness has been the creation of a mentality in America that one has the right to go through life without ever being offended.
The First Amendment guarantees our right to free speech – which also grants our right to offend. While we should never go out of our way to be offensive, almost all humor and political statements will be offensive to someone. Comedy is often funny because of an absurd or stereotypical premise. With that understood, comedy can be offensive to – Christians, Jews, Muslims, conservatives, liberals, men, women, gays, lesbians, blacks, whites, Hispanics, lawyers, blondes, little people, big people and the list spans the scope of humanity.
The greatest damage of the perceived right to live in an offensive-free society has occurred in young America. ‘Name-calling’ is now a cause for teen suicide. Adult generations have accepted and passed on to their children the idea that no one should ever be offended. That has caused young generations to live with the perception that being offended can render a fatal wound.
The offensiveness of politics today accurately demonstrates how we have lost our right to speak freely in America. Liberals are offended by things conservatives say about President Obama and conservatives are offended by support for the President. Political objections should be honored as the cornerstone of the First Amendment. Being offended by political speech should not lead to the incivility that currently results from opposing opinions.
When you hear about an individual or a group that claims they were offended – stop and consider if they should really be offended - or if the claim is part of the mpettiness that has sprouted from the seeds of political correctness.
In the group known as ‘Saints fans’ – we are all proud that we have a very ‘offensive’ team!
We are living in a world that has turned judging others into an art form. On the whole, as a nation, we still judge skin color and perceived sexual orientation. Judging a person as ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ has been elevated to an actual putdown – rather than an American institution of political freedom. We judge people who make a decision to live in the city or those who choose to live in the suburbs.
It seems that we are actively looking for new excuses to judge others. And, today, the continued judgment of those with visible tattoos serves as yet another reminder that we are quick to make judgments based on outwardly signs, rather than the content of a person’s character.
The acceptability of tattoos in mainstream America continues to be controversial. I wrote about this topic last November when there was criticism of Colin Kaepernick’s tattoo-covered arms when he was named starting QB for the San Francisco 49ers. Sportswriter David Whitley of Sporting News wrote, “The NFLquarterback is the ultimate position of influence and responsibility. He is the CEO of a high-profile organization, and you don’t want your CEO to look like he just got paroled.”
The generation that is now the Establishment grew up with a definite stereotypical image of those who had tattoos. However, the group with tattoos today represents such a diverse segment of society that there really is no longer a stereotype – but the judgment continues.
No one can, or should, rob anyone of their freedom to have an opinion about tattoos, but anyone who still passes initial judgment on those with tattoos might want to stop and challenge their judgment. Since I have a few tattoos and work in the media, Angela Hill asked me to be on her show today on WWL Radio to talk about tattoos and mainstream America. During the show a caller said that if he goes to any restaurant and a waiter or waitress comes to his table to wait on him – he will immediately ask for another waiter or waitress and if a tattoo-free person is not available he will leave the establishment. While this man has a right to his feelings, I am wondering why he would be so offended if a waiter or waitress had tattoos. Is it cleanliness? Tattoos don’t reflect personal hygiene.
So, it must come down to style. Would the same man refuse to be served by a person with a haircut he doesn’t like or by a wait staff member who was overweight? My question is – what does a tattoo, a haircut or weight have to do with the ability to professionally wait on a customer? Nothing!
I suggest that the judgment of a waiter or waitress or anyone with tattoos is part of the bigger issue of some people trying to tell other people how to lead their lives. There is a growing sense that if “I disapprove” of the way you lead your life then I must pass judgment to make my statement. This tendency is also seen regularly on the city streets. A pedestrian walks when he or she isn’t supposed to walk or a car pulls out – but both the pedestrian and the car are completely clear of obstructing a motorist or even causing the motorist to change lanes or slow down.
And yet, quite often, the motorist feels the need to blare an angry horn at the alleged offender, even though they weren’t actually affected in any way.
And so it is with many of the controversial debates we have in America today. It’s a ‘stand your ground’ mentality.
There are those who will go out of their way to be critical of someone with tattoos - not because they are actually affected by the tattoos – but it is their way of ‘standing their ground’ on what they think is right. The same can be said of many who are critical of same-sex marriage. Those who are, in no way, actually affected by what happens in the privacy of someone’s home are ‘standing their ground’ and condemning based only on what they think is right.
I am a ‘hostile witness to the Baby Boomer Generation’ because I grew up with a generation that promoted equality and being non-judgmental and now I see much of that generation failing to recognize equality while practicing the art of judging others – on style rather than character.
It has been discussed on “The Scoot Show” that the idea of getting a tattoo for a young person may be a subconscious way of searching for something that will be permanent as they live in today’s ever-changing world.
The New Orleans Police Department is working on implementing new regulations for tattoos. The new rules apply to all new recruits – no tattoos below the elbow, below the knee or above the neck. The Army is also proposing similar regulations with all new recruits. The question is not whether a government agency or a business has the right to make regulations about tattoos – the question is - why is there judgment of those with tattoos since we can honestly say that tattoos do not reflect a person’s character?
If tattoos are indeed a reflection of one’s character, then the question should not be “do you have any visible tattoos” – the question should be “do you have anytattoos?”
There is also a subtle, but growing sense of losing influence. The Baby Boomers have been a self-centered generation and because of the percentage of the population they have accounted for, they have demanded, and gotten, attention. And continue to get attention in many ways. Maybe this is the case with every generation that becomes the Establishment – if we didn’t do it then it’s not good!
For those in today’s Establishment who will argue that these young people will regret their tattoos – only time will tell - but understand that every generation defines the era they occupy.
CEO’s, doctors and maybe even presidents may one day have visible tattoos and they will not be judged because tattoos will be something that is an accepted part of their generation.
The fog of hate stemming from the government shutdown and the continuing debate over Obamacare is so thick in Washington that a car trying to get through a gate at the White House and the subsequent police chase and shooting led to immediate conclusions that a citizen was venting frustration over the political atmosphere in Washington. The woman driving the car was killed in the shootout with police and her motive remains unknown. It has been reported that she suffered from mental issues.
The blame game is intensifying between President Obama and the Democrats and House Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans as the government shutdown continues with no end in sight. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) said, “I willnot negotiate.” Republican Congressman Steve Scalise (R) said to Reid, “Stopholding people hostage.” Republican Congressman Marlin Stutzman said, “We’renot going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
If it was not obvious up to this point, it should be blatantly obvious now – both parties are using the American people as pawns in a high-profile game of ‘political chicken.’ In the meantime, over 800,000 federal workers are currently off the job without pay and no guarantee of back-pay, while members of Congress continue to receive their $174,000 annual salaries. The website Moveon.org has a petition with over 170,000 names demanding that members of Congress receive no pay until the political showdown is settled.
The problem is that our elected officials in Washington mirror the contempt Americans now express toward each other. Both sides, in Washington and across America, are harshly blaming the other side for the government shutdown and proudly defending their party. Some reasonable compromise is needed to end the shutdown. If the elected officials represent the American people, then how can we criticize the officials for representing the attitude of the people? Since we elect politicians to represent us, the desire to change the tense atmosphere need not come from the top down – it can come from the bottom up.
We are all constantly hearing citizens on the news describing politicians in Washington as adults who are ‘acting like children,’ and yet, these are the same citizens who continue to send the same ‘children’ back to Washington. It’s always easier to blame someone else, but the American people should take personal accountability and accept much of the blame for the political landscape that has become so hateful.
The Republican Party was adversely affected by the influence of the Tea Party last year during the campaign and one of the leaders in the legislation that shut down the government is Tea Party darling Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who sustained a 21-hour marathon on the Senate floor denouncing Obamacare. As both parties begin to position themselves for the mid-term elections next year and the presidential election in 2016, the Republicans will have a very difficult time winning back the voters they obviously lost in the presidential election last year unless the party gets a divorce from the Tea Party.
Former Mississippi Governor and Republican consultant Haley Barbour said after the election that as long as the Republican Party is driven by a far-right ideology and continues to be out-of-touch with mainstream America, Republicans will not gain seats in 2014 and will not win the White House in 2016. LA Governor Bobby Jindal told a crowd at a republican retreat, “We need to stop being the stupidparty!” Republican strategy guru Karl Rove has recently spoken out against the far-right directing the party’s agenda.
While both sides in the debate over Obamacare and the government shutdown should be criticized for their childlike, inflammatory behavior, the Republican Party continues to battle national image issues that must be resolved if the anticipated gains in Congress next year are to be realized.
Before the election last year and right now, the top spokesperson for the Republican Party is House Speaker John Boehner. Boehner has lacked the charisma of a Newt Gingrich and has not been a positive image-maker for the party. How long will it take the party to realize that?
To further demonstrate that politically-driven rhetoric is dominating this current debate, Republican Congressman Randy Neugebauer (TX) was caught on video from a citizen in Washington confronting a park ranger at the World War II Memorial. The ranger was just doing her job when Rep. Neugebauer said that park rangers like her “should be ashamed of themselves” for causing the government shutdown. To which she replied, “I’m not ashamed.”
If we expect both parties to work together to make this a better nation, then we must start uniting as Americans. (Photo by Scott Taylor)
Another accident on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway ended with a vehicle going over the guard rail and the loss of life. This was the third accident this year that resulted in a vehicle going over the guard rail. Now, the Causeway Commission is talking about improving the safety of the 24-mile long bridge, including installing new guard rails. But is the bridge itself unsafe – or the drivers on the bridge unsafe?
All of the accidents that led to vehicles going over the rail into the lake occurred on the southbound bridge, which was the original bridge built in 1956. The guard rail on the southbound bridge is about 6 inches lower and is literally a ‘rail’ compared to the concrete embankment on the newer northbound bridge. Larry Rase, chairman of the Causeway Commission said that many vehicles today are higher from the ground and have a different center of gravity and the original railing was not designed to contain these types of higher-profile vehicles.
In the past 20 years there have been 10 vehicles that have gone over the guard rail of the Causeway. Those accidents are tragic, but with over 40,000 vehicles traveling the Causeway every day, the percentage of such accidents is extremely low.
Before the Causeway Commission considers spending approximately $28 million to raise the height of the southbound guard rails by 6 inches, I think it’s important to talk about general motorist safety on the bridge. Resorting to raising the height of the guard rail in response to another accident only distracts from addressing the more important issue of driver safety and ‘personal accountability.’
A 19-year-old was killed when the truck he was driving hit the guard rail of the Causeway southbound and flew into the lake. Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechou said the truck “was in the right lane. It drifted slowly to the leftlane, impacted the left guard rail, then veered to the right to hit the right guard rail and almost immediately took a hard left, almost a 90 degree left, departed, went over the rail.”
With no disrespect for the young man driving the truck, is it reasonable to assume that an additional 6 inches of guard rail would have prevented that truck or any of the other vehicles from going over the side into the lake? It is true that all three of these recent accidents that ended with a vehicle going over were on the older southbound bridge, but is the height of the railing really to blame?
I lived on the North Shore on several occasions and I have witnessed outrageous driving both north and southbound. The fact is that the Causeway is a dangerous stretch of highway. It is safe in that there are no intersections with cross traffic, but it is dangerous because there is no shoulder and too many drivers get on the Causeway and see a straight, open highway ahead and they push the limits of speed. Driving the Causeway can also be monotonous, which invites motorists to pass the time doing things that distract from driving – like reading newspapers, books, texting and even putting on make-up!
The idea of constructing new guard rails on the Causeway at the cost of $28 million will mean a huge contract for some business. All too often we have been witness to someone’s friend, family member or business acquaintance reaping the benefits of millions spent on a project that may not actually solve a problem. This is not to suggest anything inappropriate about the Causeway Commission, but it is a human instinct to define a problem following any tragedy and seek the most visible and tangible solution to reassure the public that the problem has been addressed. Unfortunately, problems are often not accurately defined and money is wasted.
The Causeway Commission is also considering lowering the speed limit on the bridge. The speed limit is currently 65, but if you drive 65, vehicles will whiz by you for the 24-mile trip. Even at 50 mph or 55 mph, especially in a high-profile vehicle, hitting a guard rail and bouncing from one side to the other may not prevent vehicles from ending up in the lake. In fact, the guard rail may lead to a pinball-effect of a vehicle hitting more vehicles.
Let’s not be so quick to blame the structure of the bridge when the constant attention to driving safely may be the better solution and a solution that costs nothing. The tendency to blame anything tangible is rooted in the continuing demise of ‘personal accountability’ in America.
There is a great amount of ‘personal accountability that goes along with driving any vehicle and assessing the size of the vehicle and the surroundings, like the height of a guard rail on a bridge, is part of that responsibility. Every driver also has the responsibility to consider the size of the vehicle they are driving. Different skills are required for safely driving a Ford Explorer compared to a Honda Civic and it is the sole responsibility of the drive to understand how to drive safely – regardless of what type of vehicle he or she is driving.
You have the freedom to drive the Causeway – but you also have the responsibility to drive safely and to understand that there are certain inherit dangers in crossing that 24-mile bridge.
Maybe the Causeway should offer a disclaimer – “Drive at your own risk!” – which should be a universal understanding whenever any driver gets behind the wheel of any vehicle!
Of course, there is no connection between the Saints shutting down the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football and the GOP vote in the House shutting down the government, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to use that headline!
As the clock ticked down to the deadline for a partial government shutdown, much of America had put aside the battle between Republicans and Democrats and focused on the much more exciting battle between the Saints and the Dolphins on Monday Night Football! The Saints and the Dolphins were both undefeated going into the game and the Saints remain undefeated following their 38 – 17 win over the Dolphins. At the end of the game, the two leaders of each team shook hands in a gesture of mutual respect. If only politics mirrored football!
Sitting in the dome last night at the Saints-Dolphins game, I realized the countdown to a partial government shutdown was continuing and I wondered if President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and the Democrats and Republicans in Washington were missing the exciting Monday night game because they were concentrating on any last minute agreements that might prevent the shutdown. I wondered about that for only a brief moment and quickly realized that all those who were responsible for the gridlock over Obamacare were probably doing just what we were all doing – watching the Saints and the Dolphins on Monday Night Football!
So bitter and complicated is the battle being waged to delay Obamacare and so clear is the motive that it is a subject no true America should relish in discussing. There are the many facts: 800,000 federal workers are off the job as of 12:01 am Tuesday, October 01, 2013, parks are closed to the public, the President is steadfast with his position and Republicans in the House voted attach funding the people’s government to defunding Obamacare – which was passed by both Houses of Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court.
The approval rating of Congress has been hitting historic lows and Americans are pointing their fingers at President Obama and the Democrats or House Speaker Boehner and the Republicans. We should actually be pointing all of those fingers at ourselves because we have continued to support, through our votes, those who are directly responsible for the contentious attitude in Washington. And that angry attitude reflects the angry attitude of Americans on both sides of the political aisle.
In their crusade to object to anything supported by President Obama, there are many Republicans in America who are ignoring the course of government and objecting to a policy turned law – Obamacare – and predicting the collapse of the U.S. economy, when the new law hasn’t even been tested. Furthermore, many of the political leaders and partisan citizens who are the loudest and most bitter opponents of Obamacare – are not even directly affected. It is also fair to wonder what happened to the predictions that the economy would collapse if Obama was re-elected. Is there a pattern with the grim forecast for our future?
The partisan hate that has surfaced during this debate should cause all of us to admit that we are not living as the United States of America. Rather, we are a nation attempting to survive on total political division. While Americans may not want to admit it, the political hate in Washington echoes the political hate among the American population.
The sad truth is that neither side – the Republicans nor the Democrats – seem to be acting in the best interest of America. Both sides are literally using the American public to protect the image and advance the agenda of their party – and at the expense of the America people. Whether you realize it or not, Americans are sending and supporting this message to our politicians.
In theory, the Affordable Care Act – labeled ‘Obamacare’ to discredit the bill – strives to give more individuals the opportunity to contribute to the health care system, thus saving money that would relieve the financial burden on those who are contributing to the health care system.
Those who currently use emergency rooms as their primary-care physicians are placing an incredible burden on the entire system. If cost is shared, then our nation should reap the benefits. So much is still unknown about the impact the new health care bill will have on America, and yet, there are so many who seem to know exactly how it will affect us.
The vast majority of Americans are not far-right or far-left in their political thinking. In spite of the impression that the country is dominated by the ‘liberal media’ and the ‘strong conservative media’ – like FOX News and many radio talk shows – the truth is that most of America is moderate and the results of the presidential election last year proves that reality.
It is time for the majority of America to stand up and let the ‘right’ and the ‘left’ know that they do not speak for them. The ‘silent majority’ needs to become the ‘vocal majority’ and stop allowing this country to be defined by political extremists. And in anticipation of next year’s mid-term elections, this is the time to make a stand!
The individuals who have been the most vocal – at town hall meetings or on talk radio – do not represent America. They actually represent those activist individuals who show up at town hall meetings, call talk radio and are ready to engage in any political argument at family gatherings – often with uninformed conclusions. And that is not the majority of America.
Before you condemn Obamacare and predict dire results, ask yourself how you will be directly affected? Ask yourself if you really know how bad it is going to be or if you are just repeating the thoughts and sound bites that fit your political thinking.
The tolerance for the bitter battles in Washington actually comes from the American people. Perhaps voting every – and I mean every – current member of Congress and the Senate out next year would send a message that Americans are truly fed up with the partisanship that inhibits the growth and progress of America. Recent history shows that presidents and Congress – even of opposing parties – can ultimately compromise and do what is best for America. Today, there is no sense of that in Washington.
If the world of politics and the media run through cycles – then the new cycle should represent the political ideology of ‘common sense radicals’ – those who are secure enough to follow the instincts of their own common sense – rather than the rhetoric of the party they often so blindly follow.