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Scoot's Blog

Tune in to "The Scoot Show" for lively, candid discussions about news, politics and culture with WWL's "Radical Moderate!"

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Posts from May 2014

Scoot: A message to the Republican Party!
Top Republican leaders are in New Orleans attending the Republican Leadership Conference.  Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will be among the speakers.  Jindal appears to be positioning himself for a run for the White House in 2016.

The information the Republican Party needs in order to win the White House in 2016 is in the Scoot Blog tonight – but will Republicans pay attention?

During the presidential campaign in 2012 – I was talking about the mistakes the Republican Party was making and after what was considered a shocking defeat, many party leaders began to echo what I had said leading up to the election.

This year, I have written three blogs about the direction of the Republican Party and discussed it on “The Scoot Show.”

Last week’s blog was titled, “Another New Direction for Republican?” focused on a newly released 121-page policy manifesto written by a group described as “reform conservatives” that establishes a new message for the party to attract middle-class voters.

In January, the Scoot Blog, titled, “Should the Republican Party Change?” dealt with the Republican National committee winter meeting in Washington, D.C., where a new strategy, titled, “Growth and Opportunity Project” was revealed to Republicans.  That strategy was designed to expand the Party’s reach to include more women, minorities, gays and younger voters.

There has been a not-so-civil-war raging within the Republican Party since the presidential campaign of 2008, when Barak Obama was elected president.  The Tea Party and the ultra-right are two groups that continue to fight for control of the party’s direction, but both factions are contributing to the image problems of the Republican Party.

The Tea Party, which originally stood for smaller government and fiscal responsibility, has been hijacked by right-wing extremists, like radio/TV host Glenn Beck, who helped redefine the Tea Party movement by making social issues part of the agenda.

Conservative talk show hosts, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and countless local conservative personalities, who have sheepishly followed their lead, continue to contribute to the exodus of voters from the Republican Party.  Even the power of the Fox News Channel has been challenged.

The newest ratings show that Fox News has hit the lowest point in the ratings in over 12 years in the key 25-54 demographic.  Fox News continues to dominate MSNBC and CNN in that key demo, as well as in the total audience ratings. MSNBC is now #2 and CNN is back down to #3.

What these ratings show is that much of the Fox News audience is 55 and older. Polls continue to show that younger voters – voters under 45 – do not support hot-button issues, like same-sex marriage or legalizing marijuana, in the same percentages as older voters.  America is changing and the today’s Baby Boomer Establishment, which has defined every era it has occupied, is losing ground to new younger generations.

Younger conservatives do not share the views of Establishment conservatives on many of the important social issues, yet Republicans, in general, continue the ill-fated practice of being on the wrong side the same-sex marriage debate, the legalizing pot debate, immigration and the abortion debate.  It is the “moral police” within the Republican Party that alienate many voters, who reject the idea that politicians and government should influence personal decisions.

Supporting the government banning same-sex marriage, for example, defies the foundation of conservative ideology – which promotes the power of the individual over the government.  There is no way to escape the fact that opposition to same-sex marriage is based on moral and religious beliefs and therefore directly endorses the government dictating morality.

The initial support of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who has been in a dispute with the government over his cattle grazing on government property or the support of conservative rocker Ted Nugent, who expresses hateful and ugly contempt for President Obama, have not been denounced strongly enough by a central voice for the Republican Party.

The image of the Republican Party has also been damaged by the “birthers,” the “truthers” and now those who are following the conservative pied piper, Karl Rove, in questioning the stability of Hillary Clinton’s brain.

Republican leaders have turned condemning President Obama into a spectators sport.  The focus on condemning the Obama Administration has distracted from the core Republican issues of fiscal responsibility and smaller government.  That’s what the Republican Party should be promoting and that is a direction that WILL attract younger voters.

Republicans were factually wrong about people signing up for Obamacare.  Fox News has desperately resurrected the investigation of what happened in Benghazi and the alleged IRS scandal, neither of which have yet to be proven to be true scandals, except in the minds of those blindly beholden to the far right.  Those who are so easily influenced by the hysteria on social media have elevated the rhetorical claim that Obama is a socialist – to Obama is a communist.  Simple understanding of communism makes such a claim ridiculous.  Yet, some persist.

We should know the truth about both Benghazi and the IRS targeting groups with political agendas, but investigations have not gone the right way for conservatives hoping to bring down President Obama.  That’s not to say that these, or other controversies, will not reach a tipping point, but the crusade to bring down President Obama, along with the moral crusade of the more conservative factions within the Republican Party, have literally chased away some Republicans and failed to attract crossover voters. 

The Republican Party has lost the popular vote in 5 out of the last 6 presidential elections and in January, a Gallup poll showed the party’s favorability rating had fallen to 32% - down from 43% after the re-election of President Obama in 2012.

Republican candidates Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman, who openly suggest that their specific religious beliefs into their campaigns, will continue to hurt the image of the Republican Party.

America has been down this road before.  During the presidential campaign in 1960, John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, actively convinced voters that he would NOT allow his religious beliefs to dictate the decisions he made as president.  Kennedy won the election and became the first Catholic to occupy the White House.  Lesson learned.

The message to the Republican Party is simple – be bold enough to divorce the far right and have the courage to be more centrist and promote smaller government and government getting out of the way of business and individuals and stop trying to be the moral police of America.

One definition defines “conservative” as “holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.”  As long as the Republican Party rejects a changing America and the influence of voters who are not white males – it should not expect to win the White House.

There is a great line in one of the early hits by Hall & Oates that says, “The strong give up and move on – the weak give up and stay!”
 (128) Comments

Scoot: Why priests should be allowed to marry
History has shown that traditions are not always right, however, it is not always easy to change traditions.

Many Catholics cling to the traditions of the Church as if they are the support beams that hold up the church.  Though established through history - the tradition of the vow of celibacy for priests in the Catholic Church continues to be an active debate among Catholics and clergy.

Should Catholic priests be allowed to marry?  There are reasons that many continue to support the celibacy of priests – ranging from the mobility of priests to their devotion to the church to the issue of a financial responsibility the Church would have for a priest’s family.  But none of the reasons supporting celibacy address the ultimate question – how would married priests negatively impact the Catholic Church?

The Catholic Church currently has married priests – so the argument that married priests could not function in their role is a moot point.  For example, Episcopal priests who are married and convert to the Catholic Church – are welcomed into the church as married priests.  If being married conflicts with God’s wishes or the functions of being a priest – then the Catholic Church should not accept married priests from other demonization.

The Catholic Church continues to face a shortage of priests and the New Orleans Archdiocese is preparing to welcome four new priests into the church.  Archbishop Gregory Aymond said, “Studies show that if there was not the discipline of celibacy that we certainly would attract more men to the priesthood.”  How could the Catholic Church benefit from a rule that potentially prevents qualified applicants from even considering the priesthood?

The vow of celibacy is a vow to never marry and since having sex out of wedlock is a sin, then the vow of celibacy is a vow to never have sex.  Sex is a function of the human body and as part of a loving relationship – sex is the physical manifestation of two becoming one.  To deny that human experience to priests – and nuns – seems to defy one of the emotions that separate humans from much of the animal kingdom.

Pope Francis has implied that the requirement of celibacy for priests is open for discussion and that was unsettling to many Catholics around the world.  But why is the idea that priests be allowed to marry unsettling?

If you are a Catholic, what aspect of a priest’s duties would be adversely affected if a priest was married?  As a Catholic, I can’t think of any.  And if you are Catholic, would you refuse to accept Communion or go to confession if the priest in your parish was a married Episcopal priest who is now a married Catholic priest?

Clinging to traditions simply because the traditions are accepted and established is not the right reason to maintain any tradition.  Within our society and within the Catholic Church – there have been changes in traditions.  Recently, some of the wording in the Mass was changed and if that hadn’t happened I am not sure how many of us would ever have used the word “consubstantial,” which is now part of the Nicene Creed.

I respect many traditions – in society and in the Catholic Church – but it is important to reassess some traditions that no longer fit into a society and a church that continue to evolve.

At the time when the man-made rule of celibacy became part of the Catholic Church – the need may have reasonable.  But in the context of the world in which we live – I don’t understand how the continuing requirement that priests remain celibate benefits Catholics.  Celibacy disqualifies countless young men who have great talent at expressing their spirituality and inspiring a congregation.

In my opinion as a Catholic – it’s time to remove the requirement of celibacy and open the door to the many young men who could – and should – be the new leaders in the Catholic Church.

However, no priest should be forced to get married – that might lead to an even greater shortage of priests!

 (24) Comments
Tags :  
Topics: Religion_Belief
People: FrancisGregory Aymond

Scoot: Santa Barbara shooting and the "Blame Game"
Last Friday night, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed 6 innocent young people and himself near the University of California at Santa Barbara.  It doesn’t make sense – a good-looking, 22-year-old with a BMW who was living in Nirvana-like Santa Barbara, California went on a killing spree last Friday night because he was angry no girls would pay attention to him and he was still a virgin.
No mass killing makes sense – but last Friday night seems particularly senseless and was apparently preventable.  Rodger’s parents were aware of his mental state and a family attorney said that Elliot was being treated by “multiple professionals” and was a “victim of bullying.”
Elliot’s mother received a call from one of the therapists treating her son about an email that contained his rant that he was about to embark on a killing rampage.  His mother went to YouTube and discovered a video her son made about killing people.  She alerted authorities and with her ex-husband, immediately left Los Angeles and headed to Santa Barbara. 
While driving to Santa Barbara, they heard on the radio that shots had been fired and someone was, indeed, on a killing spree.  Imagine the horror his parents felt when they realized they were too late to stop their son from fulfilling his threats to kill others.
Instinctively, we demand answers following tragedies in hopes of preventing future tragedies, but too often, the quest for quick answers turns into a blame game.
In her article in The Daily Beast, Sally Kohn blames misogyny in America and believes Elliot Rodger should be labeled a “terrorist.”  Kohn argues that the hateful act of men targeting women over being ignored by them is an act of terrorism and failure to designate Rodger’s actions terrorism “suggests a politicized use of the term, one interested in defending Judeo-Christian Americans and values, but not women.”
Other TV pundits have blamed the reasons for the killing spree on our society that objectifies women and presents them as possessions for men.  One pundit on CNN blamed the killings on America’s “rape culture.”
Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday blamed Elliot Rodger’s discontent with women on movies by Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow.  She writes, “How many students watch outsized frat-boy fantasies like ‘Neighbors’ and feel, as Rodger did, unjustly shut out of college life that should have full of ‘sex and fun and pleasure’?”  Hornaday suggests that when the “shlubby arrested adolescent” always gets the girl, it becomes confusing in real life when “those happy endings constantly elude them.”
The father of one of the victims blames government “idiots” for his son’s tragic death.  Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher Michael-Martinez was gunned down, said in a passion-laced address to the media, that it was Congress’ failure to do something following the mass murder of 26 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that led to Friday night’s shootings and his son’s death.

Dr. Keith Ablow, FOXNews.com contributor, wrote that guns were not to blame and the focus should be on our failing mental health care system in America.  According to Dr. Ablow, “Fixing our broken, sorry excuse for a mental health care system in America isn’t rocket science.  It could be done in a few years, without huge expense.”  The doctor blames a system that sends police to conduct a “wellness check” rather than trained mental health professionals. 
While there is no guarantee that mental health professionals would have determined that Elliot Rodger was not mentally stable during a “wellness check” several weeks before the shootings, it should not be left to the discretion of law enforcement officers to determine the mental state of an individual that has proclaimed his desire to kill.
So often following a mass killing by an individual we hear that there were no warning signs.  In the case of Elliot Rodger – there seemed to be many warning signs - which should cause all of us to question if our system – parents, police, and mental health professionals – can detect violence before it happens.
It is ridiculous to blame comedic movies where the frumpy, frat-boy type gets the hot girl for Elliot Rodger acting out his deranged act of revenge against women.  It is also wrong to use what some describe as a culture based on male privilege as an excuse for manifesting hate inspired by rejection.
No one can blame a grieving father for reaching out for anything that might explain his young son’s tragic death for failing to focus on the real problem, but I do not understand how the “idiots” in Congress are to blame (though they are idiots).
The line between sane and insane is not as definite as we would like it to be. Elliot Rodger documented that he was afraid police would discover his plan before he could carry it out.  He obviously knew what his state of mind was and perhaps thought it was obvious to everyone else.
I have often argued on “The Scoot Show” that from an early age, young males must be conditioned to respect girls - so that when they begin dating there is no question about “no” meaning “no” and that males are never to submit to an instinct to use their strength to overpower a female in any way.
I have also argued that young people need to understand how to deal with rejection – whether it’s rejection from a job or a person.  Rejection is part of life and when I read about the privileged life of Elliot Rodger – I can’t help but wonder if he was ever taught how to lose or how to not always expect to get his way in life.
We – and that means all of us – should try to be vigilant when it comes to the “warning signs” that always seem so obvious after a tragedy.  We all come in contact with family, friends and co-workers every day and without becoming overly sensitive, we should take seriously behavior that could be a “warning sign” that someone needs help.
With the many public displays of his willingness to act on his mental frustrations with women, Elliot Rodger may have been hoping someone noticed so he could be stopped – realizing that he couldn’t stop himself.
 (44) Comments

Scoot: We owe it to our fallen soldiers to understand our rights!
Memorial Day weekend is the emotional beginning of summer! Even for adults who no longer have a school schedule, Memorial Day weekend inspires a “summertime” mentality that was part of our lives growing up and spending twelve important years in our young lives in school. Every year, we celebrated the beginning of summertime on Memorial Day weekend.
Growing up in New Orleans, it was customary to go to the beach with family when we were young and then as adults when we had families. Backyard BBQs, picnics and outdoor activities define Memorial Day weekend.
Leading up to Memorial Day weekend every year, Americans are exposed to numerous radio and TV commercials that give the impression that the best way to celebrate Memorial Day is by shopping and buying something on sale.
What is often lost with the commercialization that surrounds all American holidays is the true meaning of our holidays – and Memorial Day is no exception.
Memorial Day is a national holiday to remember the men and women who died while serving in the military. We all see and hear the acknowledgement of those who died serving our country, but hopefully, that alone does not satisfy our responsibility to remember the men and women who died serving in the military that continues to protect our freedoms.
Parents should talk to their children about Memorial Day and the freedoms we have in America, and that people gave their lives protecting the freedoms that allow any of us the opportunity to celebrate this day in our own special way. Couples and individuals should also take a moment to actually think about what it means to live in America and the price that was paid to create and protect the great nation we live in today.
Over the past few weeks, there have been topics discussed on “The Scoot Show” on WWL that serve to remind us that our most basic freedoms are often misunderstood and not respected.
When a racist rant by L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling from a conversation with his girlfriend was released to the media, many argued that Sterling was expressing his feelings and the NBA’s and the public’s judgment essentially demonstrated that we really no longer have a right to freedom of speech in America.  That observation was also made when “Duck Dynasty’s” Phil Robertson made harsh anti-gay comments in a newspaper interview and more recently, during an Easter sermon in a Louisiana church.
Criticism of words and thoughts expressed while individuals are speaking freely has led to questions about the First Amendment.
Gun-rights activists bringing guns into family restaurant settings have stirred controversy and questions about our Second Amendment rights. Chipotle and Chili’s restaurants have recently reacted to groups of gun-rights activists carrying their guns into family restaurants, apparently to just make a point about their Second Amendment rights.
Last year, Starbucks issued a statement telling its customers they are not allowed to bring their weapons into any Starbucks location – which immediately prompted cries that our precious Second Amendment rights were being violated.
On this Memorial Day 2014, let’s set the record straight on these recent challenges to our First and Second Amendment rights.  Reaction to what is said when someone is exercising their right to freedom of speech is not an indication that freedom of speech in America is no longer protected or respected. Americans have always been held accountable for the meaning of what they say. The only thing that changes is how society interprets and judges words and ideas - but that does not constitute a violation of freedom of speech.
Gun-rights advocates flaunting their Second Amendment rights by toting weapons into family restaurants and displaying their weapons openly on tables does not reflect the true spirit of gun rights in America. The Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms for protection – not for making a point by intimidating other Americans.
Any restaurant or any business that does not allow customers to carry weapons into their location is not infringing on Second Amendment rights.  The restaurants should not be criticized for establishing that rule – the gun-rights activists should be criticized for their obvious misinterpretation of the Second Amendment.
Hysteria and paranoia run deep in America.  Many Americans have been convinced that our freedom of speech and gun rights are no longer respected and being taken away – but there seems to be no concrete evidence to support those concerns.
As Americans who are reaping the benefits of living in a free nation that was created and is protected by those who gave their lives serving in our military, we should be responsible for understanding our rights and not falling prey to fringe misinterpretation designed to create panic - which only distracts from the real meaning and understanding of our rights.
Happy Memorial Day!
 (23) Comments

Scoot: Starbucks wants you to leave your gun at home
Starbucks is asking its customers to no longer bring guns into its locations. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s request to customers is the result of the growing popularity of “Starbucks Appreciation Days,” when gun rights advocates show up at Starbucks cafes with their firearms. Many Starbucks’ customers have not been comfortable with the pro-gun rights demonstrations at the cafes. Last month, Starbucks closed a store in Newtown, CT for a day after learning that gun rights advocates planned a “Starbucks Appreciation Day” at that location.

Schultz was quick to point out that Starbucks will not ask anyone with a permit and a gun to leave, and will not refuse service, but he is hoping that customers will honor his request. Schultz further explained that Starbucks is not pro-gun or anti-gun.

Should businesses have the right to ban guns, even if customers have a concealed carry permit? What about patrons with legal permits carrying guns into businesses that serve alcohol? Off-duty law enforcement officers in Louisiana are not allowed to bring their guns into a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol, unless they are conducting official business.

Should gun owners have the right to carry their firearms into bars or restaurants that serve alcohol because they need their weapons for protection? Or, is it more a case of wanting to do it just because they can? Most people go to bars and restaurants for the purpose of having a good time. Why would anyone choose to go to a bar or any business where they felt the need to carry a gun for protection?

If gun owners have exercised their right to carry a firearm legally, why would they feel the need to demonstrate this right in public places, like a Starbucks café?  Is this an example of gun-rights advocates “shoving their right to carry a gun in others' faces?”  And if so – how is that different from those who criticize gays for demonstrating their right to be together in public?

I would hope that gun owners are secure and confident in their 2nd Amendment rights and would not feel the need to push their right to carry a firearm on the general public.  But, unfortunately, as with every group, there are individuals who are overzealous in promoting an agenda.

Recently, there was controversy about a bakery in Colorado that refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.  The owner of the bakery said that boycotts forced him to go out of business.  The debate over whether or not the bakery should have served customers who don't share their same political or religious beliefs was fierce.  If you would argue that a business does not have the right to ban law-abiding customers who are legally carrying guns from their establishment, then would it be fair to argue that a business has the right to refuse service to law-abiding customers with a different view on same-sex marriage?

With the understanding that the 2nd Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms, in theory, if a business does not have the right to ban customers with firearms, then would it not be hypocritical for a business to ban customers based on countless other activities or ideologies?

The challenge in America is to avoid the trap of hypocrisy and maintain consistency with actions and ideologies.  Many Americans support the right of states to pass laws that supersede federal laws, but those same Americans do not agree with states trumping federal laws when it comes to the legalization of marijuana or same-sex marriage laws.

There are endless examples of hypocrisy.  Many Americans will condemn a president from one party while accepting the same policies of a president from their party.  And this is what contributes greatly to the hate in today’s political debates and the depth of partisanship in Washington.

Try to be fair – if you support a business’s right to ban gay people, then you must also support a businesses' right to ban otherwise law-abiding gun owners from carrying their weapon onto the premises!
 (50) Comments
Tags :  
Locations: ColoradoConnecticutLouisianaNewtownWashington
People: Howard Schultz

Scoot: Another New Direction for Republicans?
The battle for control of the Republican Party remains at a crossroads.  This week, promising Tea Party candidates lost their bids to beat mainstream Republican candidates and prove that conservative voters are ready for Tea Party domination.

Today, a group of prominent conservatives has released a 121-page policy manifesto designed to create a message to attract middle-class voters to the Republican Party.  The group behind the message is described as “reform conservatives” made up of right-leaning writers and political analysts.  The group claims it has been trying to influence the direction of the Republican Party since the 2012 loss to President Obama.

The Tea Party and another group that believes the Republican Party must move more to the right in order to win elections are both fighting for control of the party. And then, there are the mainstream Republicans, who are fending off both challenges.

I have spent a lot of time talking about the mistakes of the Republican Party on “The Scoot Show” on WWL and that attracts criticism from some who perceive it as “bashing” the Republican Party.  I have been very consistent – before the 2012 election I openly talked about the mistakes Republicans were making and after the election many prominent Republican leaders expressed the same opinions I was expressing about the party’s message and direction.

Now, I find myself in excellent company again – a new group of distinguished conservatives are desperate to give their party a news message, which is essentially what I have been talking about since before the election.

If the Republican Party continues to allow itself to be defined by the Tea Party and the ultra-right, then it will have a very difficult time winning the White House. Attempts to drive the party to the right with issues like, abortion, same-sex marriage, immigration and moral issues that give the impression of dictating the personal decisions of individuals will continue to offend women, minorities and younger voters.

America is changing, but change is one of the things that hard-core conservatives innately resist.  Even many younger conservatives disagree with the anti-mentality of the conservative right on same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana.

Right-wing and left-wing candidates do not win presidential elections – candidates that present a more moderate image do.  George W. Bush ran as a “compassionate conservative” – do you think the conservative right would accept that slogan today?
Whether the perception is fair or not – the Republican Party has gained the image as a party that is against things rather than a party the acts like it is in touch with America in 2014.

The original message of the Tea Party has been hijacked by right-wing wackos, like Glenn Beck, who anointed himself as a Tea Party leader bringing social and moral issues into a message of fiscal responsibility and smaller government.

There are many people who define themselves as Republicans, but they are rejected by many in the party because they do not agree with a ban on same-sex marriage and support the legalization of marijuana.  These are the millions of Republicans who are socially liberal, but fiscally conservative.  Any appeal to these Republicans will also attract the attention of the type of moderate liberals that Ronald Reagan so successfully won over.

As long as the “moral police” of the Republican Party continue to control the message, then they should not expect to win the White House.  And to the “moral police” in the Republican Party – you have a choice – either support a Republican candidate that focuses on being fiscally responsible and promotes smaller government – or prepare to lose elections.

Conservative voters need to understand that America will not support a party that gives the impression of invading the private lives of individuals – and asking government to stay out of our personal lives is a fundamental belief of conservative ideology!
 (60) Comments

Scoot Blog: Anti-bullying message-"Grow a pair!"
A mayor in California responded to a proposal before the city council to create an anti-bullying safe zone for students by saying most people “just have to grow a pair!” The comment went viral and Mayor Cameron Hamilton of Porterville, CA has been at the center of the continuing debate on bullying.

Mayor Hamilton’s “grow a pair” comment drew immediate reaction from Councilwoman Virginia Gurrola, who said, “It’s hard to just grow a pair when you’re a 10-year-old girl.”
The phrase “grow a pair” refers to growing the essentials anatomical parts that define the male gender. It means to “get tough.”

While I disagree with the crude, sexist suggestion to “grow a pair” – I actually agree with Mayor Hamilton.
Bullying has become the new excuse for everything from teens feeling left out to teen suicide. Bullying is not some new problem that young people have to cope with – bullying has always been part of life. That doesn’t mean bullying should be ignored, but the new power that bullying has gained seems to be leading to a generation of parents that are accepting bullying as the reason for a problem, rather than teaching their children to deal with bullies.

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 that are 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 that 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 that 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 to not 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 understand 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.

The new attention placed on bullying is a positive development – but nothing will make bullying disappear.  Parents need to teach their children to deal with bullying – even bullying through social media – and as adults – we need to be strong and not allow bullies to affect our self-esteem.

 (41) Comments

Scoot: The mentality of minimum-wage workers
As the demand for increasing the minimum wage gets louder, it is fair to wonder how many minimum wage workers deserve an increase?
Many minimum wage employees are conscientious and have a strong work ethic, but we have all encountered countless minimum wage workers who make us consumers feel like we are nothing more than an inconvenience. We all experience employees who are apathetic, lazy and more interested in talking on their cellphones or to co-workers than in serving the customer. It is disheartening and also perplexing as to why there are so many minimum wage employees who lack a strong work ethic.
Are incompetent young minimum wage workers a necessary burden for employers because there are simply not enough high quality teenagers seeking employment? Is it because the minimum wage is too low? Or has today’s young generation been so pampered and coddled by their parents and society that they lack the basic work ethic of past generations?
Regardless of the reasons for the overwhelming number of apathetic minimum wage workers, there are too many businesses that seem to tolerate lazy incompetence.
Since many businesses, large and small, do find, train and maintain a staff of young minimum wage workers who have a great attitude, it is difficult to believe that enthusiastic young individuals are not available. The amount of the minimum wage should not be a factor either, since minimum wage should be an entry level wage, and no one should get the idea that they can raise a family on minimum wage – even if it went to over $10 an hour.
I refuse to accept the argument that if young people were paid more they would work harder. The only way anyone should be promoted or offered a better job is if they work hard in the first place. If you think it is a legitimate argument that young people would do a better job if they were only paid more – then you must also believe that any Saints rookie should only perform based on his salary, and not until his salary increases should he do the best job he can do on the field.  Great performance leads to an increase in salary.
There is no shortage of excuses for lazy, apathetic young minimum wage workers – from the passive behavior encouraged by cellphones, computers and the Internet to an economy that has not been kind to everyone. The problem is that too many parents accept these excuses as an explanation for their teenagers’ attitudes, rather than considering how they have failed to instill a strong work ethic in their teens.
I was having an iced coffee while writing yesterday at Puccino’s, one of my favorite spots in Metairie, and ran into David Varnado, the manager of all 5 locations. I complimented him on his staff and how I often think about the example they set as a well-trained and personable staff when I talk about the attitude of minimum wage workers on The Scoot Show.
Mike Williams is a smart and savvy business owner, who has never been afraid to be unconventional, and Puccino’s is among his business successes. In my conversation with David, he talked about how Mike has commented that parents should pay them for teaching their teenagers how to perform in the workplace. David confided in me that there are teens who are hired and do not have the basic understanding of doing the work that must be done. Talking on cellphones, twirling their hair, lacking a friendly demeanor with the customers is never tolerated. Many young teens have actually been grateful to Mike and David for teaching them a strong work ethic – something that should have been taught by their parents!
There are other businesses like Puccino’s, and other owners and managers like Mike and David, and these are the businesses we should patronize. That is a way of using positive reinforcement in the marketplace to inspire more businesses to demand more from their minimum wage workers.
I have been frequenting a big box store for a few items that cost less than at another store. Without exception, the employees at that location are lazy and get away with doing nothing but going through the motions of performing their jobs. It is obvious that management provides no leadership or demands excellence from the employees.
I realized it was wrong for me to continue to go to a business because that rewards the lackluster job performance from the employees and even though I will pay slightly more for an item – the extra I do pay is worth the statement it makes about how American society is too willing to tolerate mediocrity.
In Japan, minimum wage workers take incredible pride in their work and I don’t know what the minimum wage is in Japan, but it is still minimum wage. There is a commitment to excellence in Japan, even at the minimum wage level, that is not as common as it should be in America. This is not criticism of America as much as it is acknowledging what we can do better.
Theoretically, we – the consumers – have the power to manifest change when it comes to work ethic. If consumers made the effort to do business with those businesses that hire and maintain a competent staff and refuse to do business with those businesses that accept apathy, then, in theory, the businesses losing customers would be forced to hire and train a better staff.
If we – as consumers – made the effort to compliment those employees that are doing an excellent job – then hopefully, businesses will reward the outstanding employees with more money or a better position. In theory, that should lead to the best employees seeking employment at those businesses that recognize and reward a strong work ethic.
I have seen how this works from first-hand experience. When I got my first job bagging groceries, bringing in grocery carts and cleaning up the store, I worked hard and was offered a better job with another store in the neighborhood. When the store I was working for found out I was considering leaving, they immediately sent me to cash register training and I was elevated to cashier – ahead of many others who been there longer.  I can also say that this worked through much of my radio career, as well.
Other people – and life – can take a lot of things from us – but one of the things that can never be taken from you is your work ethic – your willingness to apply yourself and always reach beyond doing the minimum in you job.  A strong work ethic and commitment may not always pay off when you want it to – but eventually, if you continue to maintain the right attitude – it will reward you.
There are millions and millions of young, minimum wage workers across America who set an excellent example of what it means to have a strong work ethic. But there are millions and millions more who refuse to apply themselves because they are not paid a higher wage. Though that may be their demand, I seriously doubt that an increase in pay will turn the innately apathetic minimum wage workers into workers who suddenly strive to do their best.
Parents have the responsibility to teach their children what it means to work hard and not expect something for nothing. Life has never been fair, but the only way you can expect to improve your place in life is through hard work. It is also important to teach young workers that no one starts at the top. You work to get there - and you work to stay there.
A sense of entitlement in America transcends having babies for government money – it also encompasses those who expect that their desires and demands should be met without the application of a commitment to excellence – even when it comes to doing those jobs that are not glamorous.
Lazy, apathetic individuals who felt they were entitled to something did not build America. Individuals who were dedicated to getting the job done right - no matter what it took to do the job built America.
That’s that America we should all expect today!
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Topics: Labor
People: Mike Williams

Scoot Blog: Jay Z elevator fight was not a private moment
What Jay Z, Beyonce and Solange, her sister, thought was a private moment in a hotel elevator turned out to be a moment shared with millions around the world.  The incident was caught on video.

In the elevator of the Standard Hotel in New York City, Jay Z, with his wife Beyonce next to him; was hit and kicked by Beyonce's sister, Solange. Without audio it was not possible to determine what led to Solange attacking her brother-in-law, but there was no shortage of fan speculation ranging from Solange being intoxicated to her retaliating because Jay Z cheated on her sister.

A family statement to The Associated Press read, in part, "Jay and Solange each assume their share of responsibility for what has occurred.  They both acknowledge their role in this private matter that has played out in public. They both have apologized to each other and we have moved forward as a united family."  The statement goes on to explain that Solange was not intoxicated and as a family, they have problems and conflicts like any family.

The hotel employee who sold the hotel elevator video to the media was fired.

The assumed private moment in a hotel elevator made public raises the question about privacy today.  When you are in an elevator of a building open to the public – do you expect that moment to be private?

The issue of right to privacy was also debated following the release of the racist rant that Donald Sterling made in his private conversation with his young girlfriend.  It is my understanding that in the state of California it is illegal to record a conversation without notifying both parties and there doesn't seem to be a question about Sterling not being alerted that the conversation was being recorded.

There are moral and ethical questions about whether the hotel employee should have released the elevator video of Jay Z's sister-in-law attacking him and Donald Sterling's girlfriend releasing the audio of his racist rant, but beyond that, do Jay Z, Beyonce, Solange and Donald Sterling have any reason to complain about an invasion of their right to privacy?
Obviously, I am aware of what I say on the air, but I have also become keenly aware of every text, tweet and email that I send out.  Based on the content of many of the text messages I receive during the show – not everyone is as careful as they should be!

It is not a secret that video cameras are so prevalent that we should expect our actions in public are not private and with the audio and video recording capabilities of cellphones, the expectation of privacy is simply unrealistic in today's world.

In fighting crime and identifying suspects, the benefits of video cameras in public place are well-established, but many people are frightened by the idea that "Big Brother" is watching – which first became a fear when George Orwell published his classic novel, "1984."  The novel predicted a future time when the government – "Big Brother" – would be monitoring our every move.  With the recent actions of the NSA, the sharing of information we volunteer on Facebook, Twitter and texting all make it easy to argue that "Big Brother" is watching us, but is the fear of a government data base on each of us to be used against us more reality or paranoia?

The fact is – we have lost the assurance that private moments are actually private – but are we upset because we're concerned about what someone will do with information or are we more concerned that we won't be able to get away with saying or doing things that in the past were easy to hide?

I live in an apartment building downtown and there are cameras in the elevators.  Every day, I assume that anything I do in my elevator is not done in total privacy, therefore I am always aware of my behavior – and my date's behavior, as well!

When I am walking down any public street – I assume my actions are being watched.  Though it did not lead to any arrested, I am grateful there was video of the 4 four men who attacked me on a downtown street.

In the case of the embarrassing moment in a hotel elevator when Jay Z what hit and kicked by his sister-in-law, is it fair to criticize that the confrontation was not private – or is that a way of diverting from the embarrassment of the moment?  

Those who defended Donald Sterling by arguing that his racist comments were made in a private conversation with his girlfriend were trying to justify the racist comments.  If Donald Sterling knew he was being recorded – then he is absolutely accountable for what he said.

As I sit in a coffee shop writing this blog – even though I don't see any customers looking at me – I must assume someone is watching!  The only way to get around that would be if I wrote this blog in the men's room – and could I even be sure no one is watching there?

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Scoot: The new panic over "freedom of speech" violations
Are Americans are really losing their right to freedom of speech, or are Americans reacting differently to free speech that is considered unacceptable?
There seems to be an increase in callers on “The Scoot Show” who are deeply concerned about the loss of freedom of speech. When Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for a racist rant in a private conversation with his girlfriend, I got a few calls form listeners who said that we, Americans, have obviously lost our right to freedom of speech.
Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones tweeted that he was disgusted by the kiss between openly gay University of Missouri player Michael Sam and his boyfriend after Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams.  The Dolphins fined Jones and barred him from all team activities until he completes training about insensitive comments.
In an op-ed article titled “Is conservative free speech banned in America?” on FOXNews.com, capitalist, Libertarian-conservative author Wayne Allyn Root wrote, “Views considered ‘too conservative’ ‘too old fashioned’ or ‘politically incorrect’ are no longer tolerated by Obama’s socialist cabal or the ‘thought police.’” While Root says he disagrees with the content of what Dolphins safety Jones said, he argues that the action by the Miami Dolphins was a sign that Americans no longer have freedom of speech when it comes to conservative thought.
Stirring up panic about Americans losing their right to freedom of speech under the Obama administration is typical strategy from the extreme right that is looking for any opportunity to blame President Obama for anything that the right considers wrong with this country.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s comment to a graduating class that America has declared war on Christians also feeds into the hysterical perception that Americans are losing their rights. If America has declared a war on Christians, then there must be casualties. Wars have casualties. During a discussion about this on the show, I asked for specific casualties, no listener came forward with a specific casualty in the war on Christians – which proves that the American war on Christians is a political strategy designed to create panic-inspired votes for Republicans in the upcoming mid-term elections and in the presidential election in 2016.
Americans are not losing their right to freedom of speech – but America is changing, and speech that may once have been considered more acceptable is no longer tolerated by America as a nation. The Obama administration is not to blame for the reaction to some recent examples of the expression of ideas.  I don't say that in defense of the Obama administration – I say it in defense of me as a talk show host who refuses to buy into superficial hysteria.
I have the right to freedom of speech, but I am accountable for what I say, and so are you. Many companies have clauses in contracts that hold employees accountable for things they might say that would reflect badly on the company they work for, and even in cases where there is no contractual conduct clause with employees, anyone who says anything that reflects poorly on the image of the company they work for is usually held accountable for what they say. And this is nothing new in America!
America is changing and many on the conservative right are blaming the Obama administration for the country’s changes. But a president more reflects the collective mood and attitude of the country than dictates it. Ronald Reagan reflected who America was in 1980, and Bill Clinton defeated President George H. Walker Bush in 1992 because he represented a changing America.
The election of Barack Obama in 2008 and his re-election in 2012 reflected the changing social and political climate in America that has been rejected by the conservative right. However, rejection of reality does not alter reality.
Younger Americans – those under 45 – women, and minorities are leading the change in attitude. Even many younger conservative Republicans do not agree with the conservative Establishment on issues like same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana.
America is changing and if the Republican Party hopes to win the White House in 2016 – then it must recognize the changing attitudes. That does not mean that any individual must change their core beliefs – but as long as those core beliefs are no longer congruent with the prevailing political climate in America, election victories will be elusive.

Donald Sterling, Don Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and anyone who uses freedom of speech to express unpopular ideas will be judged by society. 
Panic over the idea that conservative free speech is no longer protected by the 1st Amendment is a political scare tactic that many Americans will unfortunately accept as a true problem.  No one has lost their right to freedom of speech – but we are all held accountable for what we say in the context of the society in which we live.
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Scoot: WWII vet "Mr Kirby" represents a very different America
I hope "Mr. Kirby," the 92-year-old WWII vet who called “The Scoot Show” last Monday got as much out of being at the WWII Museum today as I did from just being in his presence. See below:


It was an honor to meet a man who is part of a generation that helped create the world we live in today. Kirby Smith worked in defense for 7 years and spent 15 months in the Army’s 104th Infantry Division, known as the Timberwolves, and spoke with sadness about the job he had to do on the front lines in Germany during the war. Mr. Kirby said, “I killed a lot of people,” and when he was handed a M-3, similar to the one he used in the war, a quiet pause took over his face as he inspected the weapon and held it as if he had held it only yesterday.  

During the movie “Beyond All Boundaries,” which Mr. Kirby had never seen, he reached over and grabbed my arm during a scene from Germany during the war at Christmas. He said, “That’s about the time we got there!”

Later in the day, Mr. Kirby lamented that the “Germans were not bad people.” I’ve read stories about Allied troops and German soldiers wishing each other Merry Christmas during the Christmas pause in the fighting. Mr. Kirby seemed to understand that the soldiers on both sides had a job to do – defend their country.
The curator of the WWII Museum also found a few items that were related to Mr. Kirby’s division. One item was the Army dress jacket worn by the Timberwolves division and as he touched the heavy fabric he said, “I didn’t get to wear this very much,” a reference to the fact that his division was busy in the trenches on the front lines and had no occasions to wear their dress uniforms.
Mr. Kirby seemed to be in awe of a Nazi flag the curator unfolded for him – a Nazi flag that had been signed by many members of the Army’s 104th Infantry Division after it was taken following a battle.
As I watched Mr. Kirby’s reactions to the WWII artifacts he was shown, I could only try to imagine what they meant to him and the memories they brought back. This is a man who was proud to defend his country and there was never a question about what his mission.
There was one thing that was more important to Mr. Kirby than the amazing displays at the WWII Museum – Mr. Kirby seemed more interested in talking and telling his stories. There was a small group that included a few listeners of "The Scoot Show," and together we followed Mr. Kirby around and all listened intently to his stories.
Mr. Kirby may be 92 years old, but he is mentally sharp and I was impressed by his confident, firm handshake. This honorable WWII vet represents a generation from a different time in America.
When America was drawn into World War II, our military was not among the dominant militaries around the world, but what we did as a country is something we should be doing today – uniting.
There was a time when being an American was more important than politics, religious differences and opinions on social issues. Before and during WWII, America pulled together as one nation and fought and won a war on two major fronts. I think it is fair to question if this nation could ever unite that way again.
Today Mr. Kirby and all those who are part of that generation that put differences aside to unite and protect this country, sees an America that is divided along many difference lines – conservative/liberal, Christian/non-Christian, black/white, straight/gay and the list is endless. We should be ashamed that we have allowed our differences to so divide us that Mr. Kirby’s generation witnesses who we have become.
In the presence of a 92-year-old WWII vet, I was reminded that we are not the same nation we were before and during WWII. We should all pay attention to how easily we are distracted from focusing on real problems and instead spend energy of the pettiness of division.
I don’t want credit for arranging Mr. Kirby’s visit to the WWII Museum – I simply want to be a reminder that we all have the power to touch the lives of others. It’s not always convenient or easy – but there are a lot of people, like Mr. Kirby, who still need our attention.
But we need them, too.  By just giving your time to talk to those who were part of an America we should work to bring back, you are blessed with the living proof of how great this nation can be!
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People: Kirby Smith

Scoot: Gun advocates going wild in LA legislature
The problem with some gun rights advocates is that their motive to carry guns is more about flaunting their 2nd Amendment rights than it is about safety. A Senate bill in the Louisiana legislature that would permit legislators to carry guns anywhere peace officers can carry guns, including parades, polling places and most public buildings, has advanced.

Franklin Senator Brett Allain says lawmakers should have the extended gun privileges.  However, Bradley Gulotta with Gun Rights Across America says, “By sitting here and saying that ya’ll are more important than the people you represent is hypocrisy.”

Since there seems to be no legitimate reason for legislators to carry guns in places where citizens are prohibited from having guns – then the only conclusion is that the Senate bill is another desperate attempt to flaunt guns – which was never the intent of the 2nd Amendment.

Legislators are citizens from businesses and neighborhoods across the state.  I do not know of any evidence that legislators face specific threats that you and I don’t face every day.  So, let’s call it like it is – a law permitting legislators to carry guns in places that average citizens cannot carry guns is another example of gun rights advocates gone wild!

The battle on both sides of the issue of guns rights in America has become hysterical.  One side promotes the ridiculous idea that if guns were illegal then there would be less crime.  The other side argues that if everyone was armed this country would be a safer place.  Both sides are absolutely wrong!

Rather than supporting a bill that would extend legislators' gun rights, would it not be more rational and logical to support conscientious gun ownership?  There have been too many incidents in the news recently that have proven that not everyone should own a gun, and yet, there are still those hard-headed gun rights advocates that honestly believe that more guns is the simple answer to crime in America.

As a radio talk show host, I realize that promoting either gun rights or stricter gun control laws are an easy way to get people excited, and that is the mentality of countless radio talk show hosts across the country. In the same way that there should be a logical and rational approach to guns in America, there should also be a logical and rational approach to dealing with issues on talk radio.

It is easy to support and promote a divisive side of a debate – it takes more time and effort to try to understand the logical and rational grounds of a hotly debated issue.  There is growing evidence that America is changing, and those who have used hysteria to attract attention are beginning to fade.  The flame of extreme one-sided rhetoric that is based on political agendas rather than truth is burning out.

The truth is, there are two sides of the gun control debate in America.  Strict control over those who are allowed to buy and own a gun in America is important.  And criminals might think twice about approaching people if they knew the potential victims were armed.  But neither approach is the answer to America’s crime problem.

People on both sides of the gun debate are quick to label and condemn anyone who does not buy into their extreme rhetoric.  However, those who strongly support extending gun rights and gun ownership seem much more likely to react to anything they see as an infringement on the 2nd Amendment.  If I say on the air that “everyone should not own a gun,” or “everyone should have to pass a background check to purchase a gun,” I will always be criticized for not supporting the fundamental right to own guns and that makes me an “Obama-loving, left-wing liberal who has no respect for the Constitution!”

Yet, I support the 2nd Amendment.  While it will not keep guns out of the hands of criminals or irresponsible citizens, I support background checks as a way of making an effort to stop some people from buying a gun.  I believe that the notion that everyone should be armed and carry a gun everywhere is a paranoid, right-wing extremist position from those who believe the government is working to put the United States under the control of the United Nations. 

The best way to bring a logical and rational tone back to the political debate in America is for more logical and rational citizens to engage in the debate and denounce the hysteria – often spread through social media – that leads to paranoia.

The bill in the Louisiana legislature extending the gun rights of lawmakers exposes the senseless hysteria over the gun debate in America. And since our state legislature seems to have a difficult time passing sensible legislation – what makes us think they could pass a background check?
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Locations: Louisiana
People: Bradley GulottaBrett Allain

Scoot: New Orleans is changing; let's make it the best it can be!
Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, several City Council members and Sheriff Marlin Gusman are being sworn into office. As our city’s leadership takes the oath of office, it is a good time to think about what is good about New Orleans and what still needs to change.
As a New Orleans native who has had the opportunity to live and work in cities around the country, I have gained a greater appreciation of the uniqueness of New Orleans, but I have also come to realize that there has been a tendency to accept “the way we do things in New Orleans” and that can prevent striving for excellence.
Pride is incredibly positive – unless it stands in the way of recognizing what should change. When I moved back to New Orleans a few years ago, I noticed physical changes in the city, but it was the glimpse of a change in attitudes that was most impressive.
Hurricane Katrina was devastating, both physically and emotionally, and exposed a degree of local political incompetence to the nation. America also watched as the federal government proved that cities like New Orleans can easily be treated like stepchildren, and not receive the immediate attention that bigger cities would receive following a disaster. But from the depths of a low point, New Orleans proved to be a city with great character and perseverance.
Katrina was a turning point in the modern history of New Orleans. The national coverage of what this beloved city was dealing with also ignited a new found national love and interest in New Orleans. Many of those who came to help the city recover stayed and have contributed to a changing attitude, especially in the downtown area. Musicians who were already in love with New Orleans became even more passionate about the city.
New businesses, the construction of a major medical center and new growth in technology are all part of a thriving metropolitan area. Locally, those who live in the suburbs and only see the city through the daily news have a negative and jaded view of New Orleans, but that’s a view quite different from witnessing the daily progress throughout the city. Bad areas continue to be revitalized while encouraging neighborhood togetherness. Recent high profile corruption trials and the publicized suspension of police officers for wrongdoing cast a dark shadow over the acceptability of corruption, but the shadow comes from the light the represents a positive change in the tolerance of the status quo.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu is being sworn in for a second term while a former mayor awaits a prison term – a stark contrast of the past and the present direction of New Orleans.  The Mayor brought a fresh, positive attitude into City Hall and continues to lead the city in a positive direction.
Mayors, however, cannot solve all of a city’s problems. The mayor can work toward putting more police on the street and demand honest leadership in City Hall and the police department. But a mayor cannot solve the crime problems that are the direct result of poor parenting and a systemic problem of communities protecting the young criminals that live among them. There does seem to be positive progress in convincing communities that the young thugs they protect are most likely to hurt them and there is a sense of more community cooperation with NOPD – but it must continue.
Too often citizens look to the politicians in office to solve problems that can only be solved by individuals and communities. New Orleans appears to have the right leadership at the right time, but that alone will not make this a great city.
The lifestyle of the culture and atmosphere of New Orleans are envied, but those who visit our city have a good time and return to their home. We should take more pride in making our city a better home for those of us who love living here.
We could do a better job of demanding excellence from ourselves. As citizens and voters we must hold all elected politicians accountable to the point where they know we will vote them out of office for accepting the past corruption and shady deals as “that’s the way it is in New Orleans.”  We must demand that out city do a better job with its money.  It is sad that as a tourist destination, New Orleans is an incredible success – but yet our city is broke.
We must bond as communities and be vigilant against crime and youthful behavior that is the symptom of future criminal behavior.
As a city, we should understand that even the seemingly insignificant things are part of a bigger problem. The acceptance of throwing cigarette butts out of car windows or on the sidewalk throughout the downtown area where tourists roam should no longer be tolerated and it shouldn’t take passing a law to change that casual and accepted practice of littering.
No mayor is perfect, but the city is thriving in many important areas under the leadership of Mitch Landrieu, who fits a new mold for what we should all expect from city leadership.  Granted, Mitch Landrieu is a politician, but he appears to be a politician who is building a reputation on advancing the city forward, rather than taking advantage of opportunities of personal gain.
Mayor Landrieu reflects a changing New Orleans – a city that is changing, in part, because of new life that has adopted our city as their own.  We should never change the great things about our culture, but we should no longer tolerate as normal the things we should change.
From the perspective of Bourbon Street looking toward the downtown area – the visual of the old facades of the historic French Quarter buildings and the backdrop of the tall modern skyscrapers instantly reminds us that New Orleans is forever struggling with preservation and progress.  We must progress as a city – while protecting the precious history of one of America’s most beloved cities. 
We should not congratulate Mayor Landrieu and the other city officials who are being sworn into today – let’s hold the congratulations at the end of their mission to help make New Orleans the best city it can be!
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Locations: New Orleans
People: Marlin GusmanMitch Landrieu

Scoot: We must stop the 'Nanny State' mentality!
Who do you blame for America becoming a “nanny state?”  The broad definition of “nanny state” is “a government that makes decisions for people that they might otherwise make for themselves, especially regarding private and personal matters.”
America is made up of individuals – those individuals make up the government, the judges, the juries and all of the groups that pass, execute  and interpret the laws and create entertainment, as well as judge the guilt or innocence of citizens. But individual Americans are quick to blame the government, the judicial system, law enforcement or those who create entertainment for the creation of a “nanny state.”
On my radio talk show on WWL, I consistently hear the chorus of voices that blame behavior – from poor eating habits to violence – on anything except individual choice.
Now, a federal jury has taken action against the acceptance and growth of the “nanny state” in America by deciding that an Applebee’s restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico did not break any laws when it served a man whose drunken-driving accident killed two young women.
James Ruiz was served alcohol at the Applebee’s restaurant in Santa Fe and as he drove home, he crashed and killed a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old girl who were in Santa Fe to support their school’s basketball team.
Their girl’s family sued and settled civil claims against those they felt were accountable for the deaths and Applebee’s was later added to the suit.
I applaud the jury’s decision not to hold Applebee’s accountable for the tragic deaths of the two young women.  The idea of holding bars and restaurants accountable when a customer is served to the point of getting drunk and driving home circumvents the crucial importance of individual accountability.
Any bar, restaurant or server should be aware of customers who are intoxicated and should feel the power and responsibility to stop serving those customers, but since many individuals do not show signs of a high level of intoxication, is it fair to hold any establishment or server responsible for customers?
Of course, people do not always make responsible decisions when they get drunk, but the decision to get drunk in the first place was their personal decision. The growing sense that someone or something else is always to blame for the mistakes of individuals is causing a rapid erosion the personal accountability that is an integral part of a civilized society.  And if we are to maintain the freedoms we have in America – we must be held accountable for our individual decisions.
It can be argued that aggressive lawyers after quick bucks contribute to a lawsuit-happy America and the popularity of the “blame game,” but individuals must agree to follow a lawyer’s lead in a lawsuit. The lawyer can’t sue without your involvement.
The precedent has been established that bars, restaurants and servers are legally responsible for the decisions of their customers, but the decision of the federal jury in New Mexico is a step toward reinforcing individual accountability.
If businesses and servers are to be held responsible for our actions that  result from a state of intoxication – where does it end? So far, the trend of blaming businesses and servers for the actions of intoxicated customers focuses on the driving after being served alcohol. What if someone got drunk and makes it home and then beats his wife or kids or falls down the stairs – should the business or the server be held responsible for those actions?
As individuals – we have the power to stop the growth of the “nanny state” in America. Our nation is a collection of individuals and we can be no better than the individuals who make up America!
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Locations: New Mexico
People: James Ruiz

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