After Sunday morning's horiffic Bourbon Street shooting, I canvassed the area to talk to residents and business owners about what they thought could have prevented this tragedy, and they say more cops!
A ruling by New York’s Court of Appeals should be celebrated as a major victory in the battle to keep the government from invading our personal lives. The court ruled that New York City’s proposed ban on all sugary drinks over 16 ounces is illegal!
The proposed ban on all sugary drinks over 16 ounces was the idea of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg – who promoted ways for the government to control the decisions made by individuals. But the proposed ban on large sugary drinks was flawed from the beginning.
Mayor Bloomberg decided that one way to fight the growing obesity problem in New York City would be to ban the sale of large sugary drinks, which contribute to obesity, but the proposed ban essentially continues to make the government our guardians.
A ban on the sale of sugary drinks over 16 ounces would not have stopped those who wanted a larger sugary drink because there would not have been a ban on buying two, three or four 16 ounce drinks.
Attempts to pass laws that replace the personal responsibility of individuals will not achieve their goals and such laws are dangerous. Through the acts of banning what we consume – food, drinks, entertainment, etc. – the government is sending a message to citizens that it knows what is best for us and we should support and abide by its various bans. But over time Americans will develop a sense of believing that the government knows what is best for them - and if something isn’t banned – then it will be perceived to be ok.
The government can educate citizens about the things that are good and bad for them – but citizens should be encouraged to maintain the responsibility of making good decisions. It seems as if our government – with the support of politicians and many citizens – continues to erode the importance of personal accountability. Decisions should never be based on whether something is available for consumption – decisions should be based on what is in the best interest of each individual.
The attempt to ban sugary drinks over 16 ounces, the idea of holding bartenders and wait staff responsible if a customer gets drunk and causes an accident on the way home and efforts to control the content of entertainment - all diminish the concept of personal accountability – which is an integral factor in a civilized society.
The one thing that is grossly overlooked - but yet has been a destructive force throughout American society – is the loss of personal accountability.
If America has taken a wrong turn – this is the wrong turn we have taken. There was a time when individuals from teens to adults – were taught that they would be held accountable for their actions and decisions – regardless of what was available or what they were exposed, too.
A new demand to hold individuals responsible for their actions and decision is the best and most practical way to turn this country back in the right direction!
It happens every summer and most of ask ourselves, “How can you leave your child in a hot car?”
A 22-month-old boy named Cooper is dead because his father forgot to drop him off at day care and the young boy spent 7 hours in a steaming hot car. There are aspects of this particular case that make it even more unbelievable.
Justin Harris, 33, had stopped to have a fast-food breakfast with his son, Cooper, in a rear-facing child restraint in the backseat. Harris then drove to work at the Home Depot corporate office in an Atlanta suburb. He returned to his car during his lunch break to put something in the car and still did not realize he had forgotten his son in the backseat!
The average temperature rose to 92 degrees that day and the deadly heat inside the car was much hotter.
As a parent, it is difficult for me to comprehend how any parent can forget their child in the car. Didn’t you always talk to your children when they ere in the car with you? How do you forget your child is with you?
What makes this tragedy even more senseless is the fact that the child day care was actually at the Home Depot corporate office where Harris worked. He was supposed to bring his child to day care at the corporate office – arrived at the office/day care destination and forgot his son in the car!
When Justin Harris finally realized that he had forgotten to drop his young son off at day care, he pulled the body from the car, laid the child on the ground and immediately began to administer CPR. A crowd had gathered and that attracted the attention of the police. Witnesses said that when the father’s young son did not respond to the CPR and he realized he was dead – he became distraught and had to be physically restrained as he shouted, “What have I done? What have I done?”
Justin Harris was charged with felony murder and child cruelty and the charges raise the question – was it an accident or murder?
Immediately, a petition was started at change.org asking the district attorney to drop the charges and it has attracted hundreds of signatures. The petition makes the argument that Justin Harris is a grieving father who made a terrible mistake and his pain and grief are punishment enough. Someone commented on the website, “This could happen to anyone. Anyone. Charging a grieving father is abusive.”
Tragedies that result from mistakes with no premeditated malicious intent cause many people to believe that the loss of a child is sufficient punishment. I understand that argument and cannot even imagine what this father, and other parents in similar situations, must be dealing with, but doesn’t someone have to speak for the helpless 22-month-old child whose life was lost alone in the backseat of a car that became a deadly oven?
If grief and regret were recognized as acceptable punishment – then there would be less people in prison. This is hard for me and I have challenged myself to approach this tragedy from an understanding perspective.
If parents were held accountable and charged with murder for their gross negligence when it comes to their children – then perhaps parents would be less likely to “forget” their child in a car.
While no parent would ever want to experience the grief and guilt of knowing they were responsible for their child’s death and how easy it would have been to prevent it – holding a parent accountable might do more to send a message to all parents that they are responsible for their children – period.
Children come into this world as helpless beings that need the care and protection of their parents. When parents fail to provide basic protection for their children – society should be willing to hold them accountable.
The message is simple – don’t forget you have children!
Do you think parents who leave their children to die in a hot car should be charged with murder – or is their grief and regret punishment enough?
During this mid-term election year of 2014, a few republican primaries have highlighted republican establishment candidates against neophyte Tea Party-backed candidates. Is the attention some Tea Party candidates are attracting an indication that Republicans are ready for the Tea Party to take control of the party’s direction?
While many Republicans believe their party should move to the right – which is represented by the Tea Party – there are still many Republicans that believe the party will be best served in a general election with a more moderate candidate and platform. The battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party continues to accentuate the great divide within the party.
A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows that 47% of Republicans believe Tea Party candidates running against established republican candidates is good for the party, but 35% say the Tea Party candidates are bad for the party.
The shocking loss of House Republican Leader Eric Cantor in the recent Virginia primary was viewed as a warning shot across the bow of the Republican political ship. On June 10, 2014, a New York Times column about the Cantor defeat began, “In one of the most stunning primary election upsets in congressional history, the House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, was soundly defeated on Tuesday by a Tea Party-backed economics professor who had hammered him for being insufficiently conservative.”
Even Tea Party candidates that do not win - but bring a significant challenge to well-established Republican candidates - will be used by those who want the party to move in a more conservative direction as proof that discontent with the more moderate conservatives is strong.
But the renewed attention to Tea Party-backed candidates might not be the political weathervane Republicans are looking for. Voter turnout is traditionally very low during these early primaries and that results in the possibility of more votes for fringe candidates because the more fanatical voters will vote. Many mainstream voters stay home and their influence is not felt at the polls, thus rendering a skewed result.
Tea Party-backed candidates may appear to be representing the new direction of the Republican Party, but if the party does not step back and view the big picture of a general election, the Tea Party-backed candidates will attract a segment of Republicans that will not be big enough to win in the general election.
Following the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, there were reports that the Democratic Party urged their voters to vote for Cantor’s Tea Party-backed candidate because they believed he would be easier to beat in the general election. Tea Party-backed candidates may be attracting voters who are trying to put their candidate against the weakest foe.
The Tea Party began as a political movement that advocated reducing the national debt and the federal budget deficit by reducing government spending and taxes. The name of the movement referred to the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when patriots protested high taxation. But the Tea Party was hijacked by ultra -social conservatives, like Glenn Beck, whose ideology fit the Tea Party movement. Beck and others added their socially conservative agenda to the Tea Party and the party became the party of many on the far right.
Chris McDaniel, the Tea Party-backed candidate who challenged 6-term Republican Senator Thad Cochran in Mississippi, was endorsed by the NRA and early in the campaign used hot-button conservative issues to define his campaign. However, later in the campaign, McDaniel shifted away from the hot-button conservative issues and focused more on the original Tea Party agenda.
The Tea Party and a move to the right may be the devil in disguise for the Republican Party that is now fighting to establish a new direction and a new identity. The question is – will the Republican Party pander to the far right and if so – would that prove to be in the best interest of Republicans?
The CBS News/New York Times poll shows that more Democrats are confident in their party than Republicans are in their party. Sixty-nine percent of Democrats feel positive about their party – while fifty-four percent of Republicans feel positive about their party. Independent voters represent the strong swing voters that can sway the results of an election and according to the poll – they don’t feel good about either of the two parties. Sixty-four percent of Independents were discouraged by the future of the Republican Party and fifty-six percent were discouraged by the future of the Democrat Party.
The evidence that even Republican voters under 40 are not in agreement with some of the views of establishment Republicans on social issues, like the legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage, is becoming more obvious.
Would you set aside your core beliefs on the hot-button social issues and support a more moderate candidate - if that’s what it would take to win the general election?
Over the weekend, there were seven incidents of violence in Jefferson Parish. Five of the seven incidents were stabbings, and three of the five stabbings were related to domestic violence.
If the five violent stabbings had been committed with guns rather than knives, there would probably have been an attempt to link the violent acts to the weapon – the gun. If guns are to blame for gun violence, then why aren’t knives blamed for stabbings?
The relationship between the media and the audience is a regular discussion on my radio shows and in my blogs. The news media tends to use established public perception to create a sense of panic and ever-present danger in its effort to attract an audience. With the gun debate already at a fever pitch in America, linking a series of violent gun-related incidents to the fear of guns and also the defense of guns, automatically strikes a sensitive nerve among citizens. But when knives are the weapon used in a violent act – there is never a reciprocal attack on the knife as a weapon.
The stabbings over the weekend in Jefferson Parish left one person dead and six injured. On Grand Isle, police say a 34-year-old woman was stabbed to death near her 1-year-old daughter. The woman’s boyfriend was arrested and admitted to stabbing his girlfriend.
Two other stabbings were related to domestic disputes. It is impossible for police to prevent these acts of violence and there is no legislation that would do anything keep knives out of the hands of violent people. It is also fair to argue that individuals who stab a person are more violent that those who use guns to commit an act of violence.
Using a gun to kill or injure a person is less personal than a stabbing. Guns allow an act of violence to be committed without contact with another human. To stab someone, an enraged individual would have to touch a warm human body in the process of using a knife and in many cases – a stabbing would be a bloodier act of violence than a shooting.
If there is logic in blaming or defending guns following a series of shootings – then let’s apply the same debate to knives and stabbings.
This is what the debate would sound like: Following five stabbings in Jefferson Parish over the weekend, including the stabbing of a mother near her 1-year-old daughter, some politicians are demanding stricter knife-control laws. There is outrage over the availability of knives and we need to do more to prevent the wrong people from getting a knife.
On the other side of the debate – pro-knife rights citizens are advancing the idea that if more people had knives – there would be less knife violence. One pro-knife rights group said that they plan to go to family restaurants and bring knives to demonstrate the importance of carrying a knife. Wait – every restaurant has a knife….
If stabbings do not ignite a debate over the availability of a weapon in an act of violence – then the news media, many citizens and many pro- and anti-gun rights groups are hypocritical for using the existing panic about guns to fuel their gun rights or gun control agenda.
I can even hear that debate on the air with callers arguing that there are too many knives in America and parents are not teaching their children to respect knives.
The fact that more acts of violence are committed with guns than with knives still does not diffuse the false assumption that it is the availability of a weapon that is to blame for the crime.
The many cooking shows on TV and the informercials for knives would come under attack for promoting knife violence.
If the gun is to blame – then the knife is to blame. Otherwise – the debate over gun control or the promotion of more people carrying guns is hypocritical.
Maybe it all started when the criminal was first introduced to a butter knife at an early age!
Gay Pride Weekend attracts couples, groups and individuals that shed their inhibitions and party in the French Quarter – but that actually describes any weekend in the French Quarter!
However, the visuals from Gay Pride Weekend that we see on the news inspire condemnation of flaunting homosexual behavior and flamboyant debauchery and general judgment of the LGBT community. But judging the entire LGBT community by the behavior that is captured by those selecting newsworthy video is unfair and a symptom of the problem that exists between mass media and its audience.
The nature of news is to focus extremes or anything out-of-the-ordinary. Even though this is an unsettling reality, the news is designed to attract the attention of the largest possible audience for ratings and for generating revenue. It is the audience's appetite for extremes that is actually to blame for the extremes TV news cameras focus on.
The issue of same-sex marriage is one of the most frequent topics in the news today and when talking about it on the air – it is without fail I hear from listeners who say, "I don't care about whether someone is gay – but why do they have to throw it in our face all the time?"
During Gay Pride Weekend, the French Quarter is populated by a concentration of gays and lesbians, but the countless gays and lesbians enjoying a moment of open acceptance and partying and are not attempting to force any LGBT agenda on America are not attracting attention.
The LGBT community is often defined by the images of the extreme, flamboyant members of the community that attract the attention of the news cameras, but an entire community should not be defined by the most extreme members of that community.
If you were producing the TV news that was covering the events of the weekend and Gay Pride Weekend was an event you were including in the news – would you focus the cameras on the gay or lesbian couples that are indistinguishable from the straight community and mainstream America – or would you focus on those who dress and act outrageously?
Since many Americans do not associate with gays and lesbians on a regular basis, they are quick to judge the entire group by those they see on the news. It is no more fair to judge the homosexual community by some of those who are featured in news reports than it is fair to judge all Christians by the media attention the Westboro Baptist Church consistently attracts.
In the name of promoting God's word, the Westboro Baptist Church continues to generate mass media attention because of its policy of condemning homosexuality. These alleged Christians have built an image on protesting funerals – including the funerals of fallen soldiers out of condemnation of the military's acceptance of homosexual soldiers.
Christians, Muslims, homosexuals, blacks, Hispanics or any group should never be defined by the extreme members of the groups that naturally attract the attention of TV news cameras.
Throughout the French Quarter this past weekend, there were gays and lesbians who are lawyers, doctors, nurses, CPAs, teachers, executives and individuals representing every member of the professional community, as well as blue collar workers. But these are not the gays and lesbians you see on the news – any more than the mainstream Christians will attract more media attention than the Christians with extreme beliefs.
I do not want to be judged by many of the radio talk show hosts that get attention from their extremist views and behavior - and I doubt that you want to be judged by the extreme members of a group that others may place you in.
And for those who instinctively blame the news media for focusing on extremes, it is the audience that determines what is featured on the news. We don't necessarily get the news we need – we get the news that is most likely to attract our attention.
Fox News host Megyn Kelly blasted former Vice President Dick Cheney when he criticized President Obama over the growing crisis in Iraq.
In the interview, Cheney said, “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.” Kelly fired back at Cheney, “Time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir. You said there was no doubt Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. You said we would be greeted as liberators. You said the insurgency was in its last throes back in 2005, and you said that after our intervention, extremists would have to ‘rethink their strategy of Jihad.’ Now, with almost a trillion dollars spent there, with almost 4,500 American lives lost there, what do you say to those who say you were so wrong about so much at the expense of so many?”
Fox News viewers must have been stunned at that sharp criticism of former Vice President Cheney. Cheney simply replied, “No, I just fundamentally disagree, Reagan – I mean, Megyn.” Did the former vice president really forget her name – or was that his way of discrediting her for putting him in his place?
President Obama announced that he is sending about 300 military advisors to Iraq to help the Iraqi military stop the militant organization, ISIS, from taking control of Baghdad. But as the President considered his options, the political war was well underway. Is the Bush Administration to blame for the crisis in Iraq for invading Iraq in 2003 – or is the Obama Administration to blame for pulling troops out too soon?
Former VP Cheney has been on a campaign to condemn President Obama’s handling of Iraq. While the Obama Administration has made mistakes, Megyn Kelly was absolutely right when she basically told Cheney that he and the Bush Administration were wrong about the reasons for going to war.
There is evidence that Bush Administration architect Karl Rove wanted the United States to be at war leading to the 2004 presidential election. It appears that Rove’s goal was to make Bush a “wartime” president because that would make him more electable.
The debate over whether the United States should have gotten involved in Iraq in the first place will continue, but unfortunately, many Americans will ignore the truth if that’s what it takes to protect the image of the Bush Administrations.
As the changes in America that I have talked about and written about become more obvious – it is interesting to observe that the Fox News Channel seems to be spreading its ideological wings – even if only a little.
The hard-core right-wing media darlings are fading and accentuating a possible migration away from promoting an all-right-wing agenda was Bill O’Reilly labeling Shepard Smith and Greta Van Susteren “liberals” and saying that Megyn Kelly is a host with no agenda.
Politicians and talk hosts play politics rather than seek the truth and reality and this is a statement about how divisive America has become in recent years. There has always been strong political divide in America, but the vicious efforts to protect a party’s ideology at the expense of the truth and reality demonstrates that what is in the best interest of the American people is secondary to party dominance.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney and others who have been condemning President Obama for pulling our troops out of Iraq before the job was finished fail to accept accountability for their political con job that deceived the American people about the job that needed to be done in the first place.
I applaud Fox New host Megyn Kelly for daring to challenge Cheney’s myopic defense of the Bush Administration on the issue of Iraq. It is also interesting to watch Fox News appearing to deviate from all-right-wing propaganda all the time.
Even if Comedy Central hosts, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert lean left – they do attack the left as well as the right and present hard news with a sarcastic and comic flare.
Why wouldn’t they be the most trusted news source for Americans under 40? And that’s the group that will be deciding the outcome of future elections.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal makes national news as he continues to position himself for what seems to be a probably run for president in 2016. Wednesday, Gov. Jindal used the power of executive order to withdraw Common Core from the state. Louisiana became the fourth state to reject Common Core.
However, Louisiana’s superintendent of schools, John White, supports Common Core and says, “The state will continue to implement Common Core Standards…this is a long term plan we have been working on for four years and committed to another 10 years of implementation. We are not willing to subject our children to last minute changes to throw our system into educational chaos.”
What is Common Core? This is the explanation from the website: “State education chiefs and governors in 48 states came together to develop the Common Core, a set of clear college-and career-ready standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics.”
Gov. Jindal described himself as a “strong supporter” of Common Core and he was one of the governors that helped develop the standards. And now, he has used an executive order to withdraw Common Core from the state!
Bobby Jindal is one of the most obvious examples of a politician that is blown around by the political winds. In denouncing Common Core, Jindal used blatant political rhetoric when he said, “We won’t let the federal government take over Louisiana’s education standards.” During a press conference in Baton Rouge, Jindal went on to say, “We’re very alarmed about the choice and local control over curriculum being taken away from parents and educators.” He also said that Louisiana would not be “bullied by the federal government.” This was obvious campaign-speak designed to attract the conservative right of the Republican Party.
Gov. Jindal is concerned about the federal government’s impact on education in Louisiana, yet according to the American Legislative Exchange Council our state ranks 49th out of 51 in education rankings. The list includes the 50 states and the District of Columbia. A recent national report gave Louisiana an “F” for student achievement. It appears this state could use all the help it can get!
Why did Gov. Jindal not speak out when he was part of the group of governors establishing the standards for Common Core?
Common Core has become a hot political issue and there has been a successful attempt to equate the standards with the federal government taking control of the education of your children. While I don’t think the federal government has much to brag about when it comes to the public education system – Louisiana has consistently competed to be at the bottom of lists that rate the success of education in each state.
I often talk and write about the hysteria that infects so many political issues and Common Core controversy is part of that hysteria.
The world has changed at a faster pace than our education system. The skills needed to succeed in college or the business world right out of high school have changed and Common Core is designed to better prepare every student for college or the new workplace.
There is no way of knowing effect Common Core will have on education in America – but something needs to change. Much of the condemnation of the Common Core is divided along partisan lines. There has been a tendency throughout the Obama Administration’s first, and now second term – the oppose anything supported by the Administration.
Congressman Eric Cantor was among an elite group of Republicans that met in a private room at an upscale Washington, D.C. restaurant to commit to opposing and preventing any and all initiatives presented by President Obama as long as he is in office. The goal was never to do what is in the best interest of the American people – the goal was always to prevent President Obama from succeeding on any level in the interest of protecting and promoting the Republican brand.
Much of the strong opposition to Common Core is fueled by those who know nothing about the initiative and are just spewing out the hysterical reaction to the Obama Administration.
While this blog may be misconstrued as my defense of President Obama – it is actually defense of myself as a radio talk show host that refuses to by into the blind crusades of the far right on every issue involving this Administration.
The state of Louisiana is woefully behind the nation in education and America is woefully behind much of the world. We need to stop playing politics with education and every issue start doing what is best for America.
As Governor Jindal uses the state and your children to attract national attention for a possible presidential run – we should condemn his efforts to put his personal political ambition ahead of what’s best for Louisiana.
Governor Jindal is so easily swayed by political opportunity – he better fits among the invertebrate of the animal kingdom – he has no backbone!
There is a new controversy over an American flag and the rules of a homeowner’s association – this time in the Denver suburb of Littleton, Colorado.
Townhouse resident, David Renner, says the Southbridge Townhomes Association sent him a $200 fine for flying a Betsy Ross flag outside of his townhome. Renner put the flag out before Flag Day – which was Saturday, June 17. The homeowners’ association rules only allow the current American flag to be flown. The Betsy Ross flag has 13 stripes and a circle of 13 stars in the blue background where the 50 stars are currently placed.
Renner claims he has the right to fly the Betsy Ross flag under the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005, which he says loosely defines what constitutes an America flag. Renner told a local television station, “I don’t want to p** off my neighbors or make them angry. I just want to honor our history.”
The townhome association has had other problems with David Renner. In April, he caused a controversy over flying the Gadsden, the yellow pre-revolutionary flag carrying the words, “Don’t Tread On Me.” In May, Renner was fined $100 for flying the Colorado state flag. Now, it’s the Betsy Ross flag that is causing controversy.
Recently, a Harley-Davidson owner criticized Harley-Davidson for not honoring the corporate-issued warranty on the drive train of his Harley. The company argued that the Harley owner flew numerous flags on his bike – including the American flag - which put additional drag on the drive train of his Harley – therefore, the warranty was void.
Occasionally, there are controversies surrounding the American flag that are presented in such a way that make it seem as if the American flag is under attack. The Harley owner accused Harley-Davidson of being unpatriotic, but the company was not singling out the American flag – it simply decided that flying numerous flags on a bike are not covered under the warranty.
Other American flag controversies have focused on neighborhood’s homeowner association rules.
This is America, so should the American flag be exempt from any and all neighborhood rules? Should the American flag be respected and allowed to be flown outside of any residence in America?
Realizing that some will consider this an attack on the American flag – which it is not – rules are rules and if a neighborhood homeowners’ association has rules about flags – then the American flag should not be exempt. Although, I do not understand why there would be an objection to flying the American flag.
Having said that – I do think it is absurd for the Stonebridge Townhomes Association in Littleton, Colorado to fine a resident for flying the Betsy Ross flag when the current America flag is acceptable.
The controversies that quickly erupt over rules about when and where the America flag can be flown are the result of increasing insecurity and a general fear that we are losing America.
We are not losing America. America is again experiencing changes, but that has been part of this country since its inception. Patriotism lives within the hearts and minds of Americans more than it lives in the display of a tangible cloth flag.
I respect the American flag and all those who fought for the freedoms that are represented by the flag, but rules should be respected. Those who seem quick to challenge rules about the flag are using the flag for the purpose of stirring controversy and forcing a definition of patriotism.
Using the America flag to incite others and to start a controversy do not seem to be the proper way to respect our flag and all those who died defending it.
David Renner of Littleton, Colorado has 13 different flags and says he flies all of them with great pride. Renner said, “I love flags. I love flag history.”
If David Renner – or anyone – disagrees with the rules of their neighborhood’s homeowners’ association over flying the American flag – they should look at the flag and respect that the flag represents their freedom to move!
Today is Friday the 13th, a day considered unlucky in Western culture. Some people are so superstitious, they don’t go to work or make any appointments on Friday the 13th. Fear of Friday the 13th is not reserved for uninformed, less intelligent people... some doctors have been known to avoid scheduling procedures on Friday the 13th!
Superstition is part of human nature, and the rituals we follow give us a feeling of control over the possibility of something bad happening. While most of us know that any ritualistic behavior we practice will not actually keep us safe from harm, there are those who feel compelled to do - or not do - certain things on Friday the 13th.
If someone has the perception that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day then they are likely to look for things that support their belief that it is a day of misfortune. The slightest thing might not work out early in the day, and that person now has proof that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day. The rest of the day, that person will only focus on the negative things that happen, however small they might be, as further evidence that Friday the 13th is unlucky. This process of focusing on negativity only invites a negative attitude for the entire day.
As we all go through life, we have the option of seeing the positive or the negative. Negative things do happen and we are challenged to deal with those things, but there are also positive blessings every day that are not always appreciated. We all know people how have an intrinsic negative nature. They consider and actually expect only the worst outcomes.
Without suggesting that there is any magical power in having a positive attitude in life, I do think our attitudes do have an impact on our everyday lives. People are attracted to positive attitudes and I am convinced that having a positive attitude opens doors for opportunities.
When something happens that causes me to run late for a meeting or anything, I am frustrated and find myself making more mistakes to try to make up the time. That only leads to more delays. Recently, I have tried to put a positive spin on those little things that happened in our lives – most of them are not significant. If I find myself running late I think, “Well, maybe I’m running late for a reason.” The difference between getting into an accident or avoiding one is a matter of seconds. What delayed me at that moment might have caused me to be in a better place the rest of the day.
I first started to realize that the things we don’t want to happen may not be bad after watching a Gwenyth Paltrow movie, “Sliding Doors.” In the movie, her character was close to missing the subway. At that point, the movie showed what would happen if she made the subway and also what her life would have been like if she missed that subway. The lesson was simple – sometimes the things that we think are the worst things that can happen – end up being the best things that can happen!
Not only is today Friday the 13th, but there is also a full moon! Even if you can’t see it because of clouds, it is still there!
The moon has always been a mystical object in the sky to humans and even though man has walked on moon, the mystery of the power of the moon is still present in modern-day life.
The word “lunacy” comes from Luna, the Roman Goddess of the Moon. One definition of “lunacy” is those moments of insanity believed to be related to the phases of the moon. A person who is acting in a crazy or abnormal manner is often described as a ‘lunatic.’ In 19th century England, lawyers actually used the defense of “guilty by reason of the full moon” to prove that their clients should not be held responsible for their crime!
The relationship between the moon and human behavior is well documented. A Roman scientist and military commander believed that the full moon created a heavy dew, which made the brain extremely moist and affected behavior. The power of a full moon to turn a human into a werewolf has been part of a literary myth since 1941.
It’s easy to understand how the full moon got this image. Before modern lighting, the light of a full moon kept people awake at night and the lack of sleep led to behavior that was out of the ordinary. The full moon also provided light for people to carry on drinking and participate in general debauchery well into the night.
The phases of the moon affect the tides of the oceans, and the body is 65% to 75% water. So, does the moon affect the human body? Full moons have been blamed for increases in violent crime, suicides, epileptic seizures, sleep deprivation, births and even deaths. But is a full moon to blame for lunacy and abnormal behavior in humans? The answer is – no!
Despite the belief by some police offices, ER nurses and doctors, mental health professionals and the general public that strange behavior increases during a full moon, there are no studies to support the myth that a full moon has the power to make people do crazy things. There have been a scarce few studies over a 50 year period that established some correlation between a full moon and abnormal behavior, but follow-up studies have proven the original conclusions to be false.
So romanticize about a full moon, but if you actually believe there is a direct relationship between a full moon and human behavior – you’re a lunatic!
I hope this Friday the 13th with a full moon has been a good day and if everything hasn’t been perfect, focus on what went right, not what went wrong today.
Every generation talks about how hard life was for them compared to the new young generations. As a Baby Boomer, I remember my parents telling us that we were “spoiled” and “had it made” compared to the things they had to endure as kids and teens.
Now that the Baby Boomers have grown into the Establishment, this is a good time to tell today’s young generation how “spoiled” they are and how they “have it made” compared to what our generation dealt with in life.
As I was watching television in my apartment the other night, I picked up the remote and as I changed channels I saw a promo for the new CNN series, “The Sixties” and it brought back memories of sitting on the sofa in the 1960s and having to get up, walk over to the TV set, and physically change the channel. If you were trying to avoid the commercials, you had to stand there and try to time out when you thought the commercials were over so you could physically turn back to the show you were watching. That made me think about how different life is for today’s younger generations, who grew up with remote controls as an appendage, and that led to thoughts about all the other things young generations will never have to endure!
When I think about all the changes resulting from the concern for safety of kids, I have to wonder how my generation even survived! We used to ride our bikes without helmets! And later we rode motorcycles without helmets. If we fell, our heads hit the concrete. Today, kids have technically advanced and tested helmets to protect their noggins. There were no ridiculous laws about fastening your seatbelt. That was as optional as using a turn signal today.
When listening to music years ago, most albums had bad songs you wanted to skip. We used to have to get up, walk over to the stereo, pick up the needle tracking on the vinyl record and move it to the track we wanted. And that was not a precise maneuver. More often than not, you would miss the beginning of the new track you wanted and it took a few tries to get it to the right starting point. Today, young generations just hit a tiny button or touch a screen to advance precisely to the beginning of the desired track.
And if you were in the car, you couldn’t listen to “your” music (at least until 8-track tapes and then cassettes). Your only option was whatever that guy on the radio was playing, and for many years that guy was Scoot in the Morning!
When our generation was young, our parents put us in a basic stroller. Today, kids travel around in strollers that bear a striking resemblance to a recliner and appear safe enough to withstand re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Parents have places for everything they need to take care of their kids for several days in the wild – and a convenient cup holder for a cold beer.
When we were bad in school, we got spanked, often with a wooden paddle. We also could not talk back to our teachers. Today, young generations do not fear the dreaded wooden paddle, and they seem quite comfortable with talking back to their teachers. Oh, how I wanted to do that when I was in school!
As I kid, my parents made me endure something that not many young people would have to tolerate today – we took a summer trip every year from New Orleans to Phoenix, AZ, where my grandparents and aunt lived. It was a 3-day drive each way. We had a white Ford station wagon with no air conditioning! We looked forward to checking into a motel along the way that had a swimming pool. The next morning we were back in the hot car for a full day of driving through one of the hottest parts of the country! But, we never complained, because that’s all we knew. I can’t imagine taking that trip today, especially with kids or teenagers.
While we were traveling in the car, we passed the time by playing games. I don’t even remember what games we played, but one had something to do with license plates, and another had something to do with singing stupid songs with my parents. Today, young generations have movies, video games and cell phones that act as full entertainment centers.
If we were driving in the city or on the road, and my parents needed to make a phone call, they had to pull over and search for a pay phone. Today, phone calls and communications in general are instant. Being a teenager in love was so painful because when you were not at home you did not have the option of staying in touch with your young love. I remember my girlfriend went to Europe for two weeks and I got a letter from her from Austria – after she retuned home!
Today, young generations have drills to practice what to do if there is a school shooting. When we were young, we had drills to practice what to do if a nuclear bomb hit our city. School shootings are a terrible reality for modern students, but the threat of a nuclear bomb hitting us was more imminent than the threat of school shootings today. And there was no talk about arming teachers with nukes in the event the Soviets attacked our school.
Young generations today have hundreds of TV channels to choose from and immediate access to movies. We grew up with three channels, or four if you were in a family sophisticated to watch public television. And if you were sick and couldn’t sleep, there was no overnight entertainment – except radio. Televisions went off the air at midnight or shortly after. There was no late night TV! Nothing brought on feelings of dire loneliness more than hearing the Star Spangled Banner playing on TV late at night. It was almost creepy! Oh – and we only had one TV. So we were forced to watch a lot of shows our parents watched.
I am not complaining, because when we were young, we had everything we thought we needed to be happy – and we were. Every generation witnesses their kids’ generation with conveniences and new technology that makes life seem easier and better than it was for them.
But today’s young generation, with cell phones, computers, tablets – 360 degrees of entertainment 24 hours a day, seven days a week – will one day be in a position to tell a new young generation how hard life was when they were growing up.
But I can’t imagine what they might complain about. Maybe something like “When we were young, we used to have to actually plug in our cell phones and laptops when the battery went dead!” To which a new young generation will wonder – “How did you guys live that way?”
Have the state of Louisiana and Gov. Bobby Jindal really done anything to curb smoking, or are they just making us think they’re making a difference?
Gov. Jindal signed into law a legislation that bans smoking within 200 feet of any elementary or secondary school in the state. That ban goes into effect immediately.
To anti-smoking activists, this new law will be declared a victory in the war against smoking, but will it even make a difference?
I am not a smoker and I’m not promoting smoking, but I am also not going to promote “feel good” laws that only give the impression of solving a problem. The danger in passing new laws that only give the impression of solving a problem is that these “feel good” laws leave politicians patting themselves on the back when the new laws will do nothing to actually solve the problem. And feelings of satisfaction lead to complacency.
It may sound good on paper, but is banning smoking within 200 feet of elementary and secondary schools going to convince smokers to quit? Will anyone say, “Well, if I can’t smoke within 200 feet of an elementary or secondary school – I’ll just quit!” Or, is the new ban on smoking near these schools motivated by a desire to prevent kids from seeing anyone smoking near their schools?
Who will enforce a law banning smoking within 200 feet of schools? Who will have the tape measure, and does the average person have any concept of 200 feet? Will a smoker within 175 feet be arrested? These are legitimate questions and illustrate that this new law cannot be expected to change anything.
If politicians get away with passing “feel good” legislation – then the voters are to blame for allowing it. Politicians are willing to do superficial things that give voters the impression of manifesting change because voters do not seem to hold them accountable – and part of the reason may be that voters don’t really pay attention to the meaningless nature of so much legislation.
Criticism of the lack of effectiveness on the part of politicians amounts to self-criticism of the voters who vote them into office and keep them there. It’s easier for voters to blame politicians than accept responsibility for not being more aware of what elected officials are actually doing.
Too many voters become victims of the media and social media – believing mass emails filled with political rhetoric sent by those with agendas. It is easier and less time consuming to let others think for you.
Rather than apply common sense when analyzing legislation, voters too often use their instinctive response. In the case of the new law banning smoking within 200 feet of schools, voters only see that there is a new law banning smoking near young school children, and that registers as a noble effort. But practical thinking doesn’t accept such a law influencing any real changes.
I wonder how many of the young school children in our state will be exposed to parents smoking at home, or older teens and young adults smoking near convenience stores and sno-ball stands. Smoking is legal and no matter how much citizens support smoking bans, it is impossible to shelter children from witnessing people smoking. The only way to fight that battle is with strong parental involvement.
If we expect to make our society better – then we need to pay attention to bills, laws, court rulings and the ideas presented by politicians and think beyond the words and the predicted effect the law will have on society and use real-world common sense to decide if a proposed law will really make a difference or will simply make a politicians looked like he or she did a positive thing.
Voters are as much to blame as the politicians for ineffective government because we put them in power and to often – leave them there.
I talk a lot about worthless “feel good” legislation on “The Scoot Show” on WWL 8:00 pm – Midnight or anytime I fill in during the day. We should ultimately blame ourselves for the fact that politicians give us the impression of making positive change when no change should be the expected result.
It’s hard not to stereotype, but have you noticed that those who proclaim to be anti-government, anti-law enforcement, and fanatical about the 2nd Amendment - all seem to look alike?
When I heard about the tragic shooting in Las Vegas over the weekend, and heard the police talking about the married shooters’ political ideology, I immediately envisioned what they looked like. When I saw their pictures after they were identified I realized how many of those types fit a stereotype.
Las Vegas police say that Jerad Miller, 31, and his wife, Amanda Miller, 22, had strong anti-government views and they expressed their hate for the government by walking into a pizza parlor and killing two police officers. Officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, were having lunch at a local pizza parlor when the Millers walked up and shot one officer in the back of the head and when the other officer started to react – they shot him in the throat.
After shooting the 2 police officers – the Millers dragged their bodies out of the booth they were sitting in and laid them across the floor – leaving behind a yellow flag with a coiled snake and the words, “Don’t tread on Me,” a swastika, and a note that read, “This is the start of the revolution.”
The married couple took the officers’ handguns and fled to a nearby Walmart where Jerad Miller fired one shot and shouted to everyone to get out of the store because this is a “revolution.”
A Walmart shopper, Robert Wilcox, 31, was carrying a concealed weapon and approached Jerad Miller with the hope of stopping him – but as he walked by Amanda Miller, she shot him in the ribs.
During a shootout with Las Vegas Police, Amanda Miller fired several shots into her husband, Jerad, and then shot herself in the head.
As the investigation into a motive began, police discovered that the killing couple had handed out white-power propaganda, and Jerad bragged about supporting Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and had gone to his ranch to join a group that was preparing to stop government agents from confronting Bundy over his illegal use of government land for his grazing cattle. Bundy, considered “extreme” by most standards, actually kicked Jerad Miller out because his views were too extreme and he had a criminal record. If a man like Cliven Bundy says you’re not welcome because of your extreme anti-government views – you must have VERY extreme views!
A Facebook post from Jerad Miller the day before the shooting read, “The dawn of a new day. May all of our coming sacrifice be worth it.” Just two days before the shooting, a post read, “The police have never attacked a pro-gun rally. They have no problem attacking a peace rally. Attacking armed people has consequences.” But the Millers attacked two armed police officers and a citizen with a concealed weapon. Obviously, being armed didn’t help the three people killed Sunday.
At the Walmart crime scene, police found evidence to indicate that the killer Millers were planning to continue killing in the name of their anti-government views.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill said there is no doubt the suspects had “ideology along the lines of militia and white supremacists” and police believe “they equated government with Nazis.”
There are individuals and groups that profess a strong anti-government, separatist, white supremacist mentality, and are so motivated by their crusade against authority that they will act on their hate by killing innocent people in a cowardly fashion. And these fanatics almost always end up killing themselves. Jerad and Amanda Miller, and those who have committed murder to exact their hate for the government are no different than suicide bombers. They kill innocent people and take their own lives.
While talking about the mentality of the Millers on the air, there were a few incidents of listeners to the show who bordered on supporting their maniacal crusade. A caller said that as long as police use their force against citizens then the frustration that motivated the Millers will never end. A text challenged me for saying that a witness reported that one of the Millers shouted, “This is a revolution” – criticizing me for trying to be overly shocking to get ratings and that there was no proof that statement was made by the suspects. I replied by saying, “That’s why I said a witness reported it – which meant it was not fact.” However, there has been more evidence indicating that Jerad and Amanda Miller were trying to start a revolution.
The idea that some people will kill because of their anti-government views, and that others will instinctively support them should send chills throughout America.
Fortunately, these radical individuals make up only a very small minority of America – but the hate that has become so prevalent in today’s political debate and the overt contempt and disrespect for the current administration seem to have pushed some to the point of acting on their hateful thoughts and words.
Even though the fantasy of standing up to the government with guns has become a way of life for some Americans – the reality of actually taking on the government with guns is completely inane and recent cases prove this point.
Disagree with the administration, disagree with the government, hate the government – that is protected by the First Amendment. But there is no amendment that protects ignorant radicals with an unreasonable view of their ability to act on their hate and contempt by killing people.
The acceptable ways to challenge and oppose government are through voting and becoming active in promoting policy changes and candidates – not by killing a few people and then yourself as you proclaim, “This is a revolution.”
The Jerad and Amanda Millers of this country are our version of suicide bombers, and they fit an all-too-familiar stereotype! Before you stereotype again – look at the Jerad and Amanda Millers of America – do they look like people we all know?
Millions of people who are not ordinarily horse racing fans were glued to the live coverage of The Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown. A horse named California Chrome had captured the hearts of many Americans after he won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness – setting up the possibility of the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years. But it was not to be. Tonalist – a long-shot – won The Belmont Stakes with California Chrome finishing in a dead heat for 4th place.
Americans love winners, and the disappoint over California Chrome falling short of winning the Triple Crown was felt by everyone watching. California Chrome not winning the Triple Crown was a bigger story than Tonalist winning the race. Immediately after the race, the attention focused on the colorful owner of California Chrome, Steve Coburns, and his instant reaction to his horse losing touched off a controversy.
Coburn said that the other horse owners took “the coward’s way out.” The horse that won The Belmont Stakes had not run in either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness. Coburn was blasting other owners for having fresh horses running against his horse that had run in his third race in five weeks. In fact, none of the horses that finished ahead of California Chrome raced in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Only three of the horses in The Belmont Stakes ran in the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
Steve Coburn was animate about condemning owners for entering fresh horses in The Belmont Stakes and implied they were doing all they could to prevent California Chrome from winning the Triple Crown. He said that owners and trainers do not want to see a Triple Crown winner – unless it would be their horse.
When he was asked by ABC the day after the race if he regretted his comments – Coburn said, “not only no, but hell no. I do not regret it one bit. It’s the truth.”
After California Chrome won the Preakness – setting up the possibility of a Triple Crown winner – Steve Coburn became somewhat of a pop culture hero. Before The Belmont Stakes, he used his cowboy hat to inspire cheers and chants from the crowd gathered below him. The anticipation of winning the Triple Crown that surrounded Coburn and California Chrome made losing that much more difficult.
Coburn believes the rules should be changed, and that the only horses that run for the Triple Crown are horses that have run in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. He said, “I mean think of it this way. OK, it says Triple Crown. You nominate your horse for the Triple Crown – that means 3. The Triple Crown trophy has 3 points on it. So when you earn enough points to be in the Kentucky Derby, those 20 horses that started the Kentucky Derby should be the only 20 allowed to run in the Preakness and The Belmont Stakes, for the Triple Crown.”
I understand Coburn’s point – but is it fair to change the rules now? If there was a rule change and only the horses that run in the Kentucky Derby were eligible to run in the Preakness and The Belmont Stakes – then would that not diminish the accomplishments of all the past Triple Crown winners that may have faced fresh horses in the final and longest leg of the Triple Crown?
In 2004, Smarty Jones did not win the Triple Crown finishing 2nd to Birdstone. Birdstone ran in the Kentucky Derby but skipped the Preakness. In 2003, Funny Cide won the 1st two legs of the Triple Crown but lost to Empire Maker in The Belmont Stakes. Empire Maker finished 2nd to Funny Cide in the Derby and rested during the Preakness.
In the 1970s there were 3 Triple Crown winners: Secretariat in 1973, Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978. That prompted some to say that winning the Triple Crown was no longer the challenge it once was. But it has now been 36 years since a horse won the coveted Triple Crown.
I consider the horses that challenge other horses for the Triple Crown supreme athletes. Winning the Kentucky Derby is certainly an accomplishment, but then to come back and win the Preakness, which is a shorter race and more of a sprint, proves that a horse is a great athlete. And after winning the 1st two grueling legs of the Triple Crown and then running in The Belmont Stakes presents the ultimate challenge. Not many horses in horse racing history live up to that challenge.
Coburn's ranting makes him a crybaby and a poor loser. It was no surprise there would be fresh horses running against California Chrome in The Belmont Stakes, and Coburn did not seem to focus on that as unfair in the days leading up to the race. There is no rule about horses running in The Belmont Stakes that had not run in either or both of the 1st two legs of the Triple Crown.
Coburn’s outburst after his horse lost The Belmont Stakes was a classless act and a display of poor sportsmanship. His desire to now change the rules of the Triple Crown takes something away from the accomplishments of all of the horses and jockeys that endured the incredible challenge of running all the legs of the Triple Crown – which includes facing fresh horses in the final leg of The Belmont Stakes.
Rules should not be changed because a disappointed horse owner did not win. The standards are set and you either live up to the standards, or you lose, and it is wrong to suddenly expect the rules to change because you lost. It is as if Coburn is making an excuse for his horse’s loss. And this goes for everything in life from other sports or tests and grading in schools.
When failure inspires a demand to change the rules, there is a suggestion that your participant – your horse or your student – failed to endure the challenge because of unfair competition. But those participants who faced the same challenges and won should not see the rules change in order to make it easier for future competitors to win a challenge that is diminished in magnitude.
Rules should not change because a flamboyant, confident horse owner faced defeat. Rules maintain the consistent integrity of the standards that only a few participants endure – and those who do endure those standards and win are the only ones called “champions!”
Which of the following networks do you think did the best job of explaining the issue of campaign finance; Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC - or Comedy Central?
A new study shows that “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central did the best job of all the networks mentioned in explaining campaign finance to people. You may be appalled – shocked – you may think this must be a sign the world is coming to an end. But an honest assessment of the major news channels, especially the cable news channels, should put them all on the same level as any of the established cable news networks.
The study was conducted by The Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Shows like “The Colbert Report” with Stephen Colbert and “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart, both on Comedy Central, have consistently been gaining ground with younger audiences, and research shows that a growing number of younger voters are getting their daily news from Colbert and Stewart.
Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart present the top news stories of the day with qualified guests, often politicians and celebrities who join the discussion about the top issues trending in the news. Colbert and Stewart use humor and sarcasm while delivering the legitimate new stories of the day.
When you consider the narrow perspective of the news presented on Fox News and MSNBC, in particular, along with the bitter verbal battles that often erupt on the sets during the discussions about the top issues – should it be a surprise that younger generations are tuning into “The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show” as their source of news?
America is changing and that change is not easily accepted by the Establishment. Fox News and MSNBC have almost become satires of themselves. During a heated verbal debate, especially on Fox News, mute the sound and just watch – it is actually comical!
The sarcasm of Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart while delivering the news is a statement that reflects the contempt young generations (under 45) have for the bitter tone of the political debate in America. The sarcasm of the news-oriented shows on Comedy Central mocks the serious, “we are right” mentality of the news networks of the Establishment.
“The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show” stand out because the harsh partisan bickering on the other cable news channels has turned honest political debate into comedy – unless you are one of those so immersed in one side or the other.
In spite of the irreverence that defines Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, both deliver the news and actually delve deeply into meaningful discussions about the top news stories of the day, and their attitudes are no more distracting to news content than the pompous, self-righteous attitudes of many of the hosts on Fox News and MSNBC.
“The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show” are not responsible for dumbing down America. Both shows present an honest view of the growing disgust with the political battlefields of Fox News and MSNBC. Colbert and Stewart are not changing America’s presentation of the news – they are reflecting a changing America.
This does not mean that news will evolve into comedy shows – but Colbert and Stewart are a reaction to what many Americans now think of the cable news channels that seem to be on a mission to set America straight and fulfill their goal of telling Americans how to think and feel.
The signs are everywhere. The results of the election of 2012 and the rapidly fading dominance of the far right on talk radio and cable news indicate change. Fox News is losing its coveted 25-54 audience.
Voters under 45 are beginning to have an impact on the political process and the Democrats, Republicans and all the cable news networks need to recognize that America is changing – and for the better!
How often we hear someone casually proclaim, “I’m OCD!” But people who actually suffer with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) do not casually say, “I’m OCD” – because for them, the brain disorder and its manifestations are devastating and torturous.
I have battled a severe case of obsessive-compulsive disorder since I was very young. I am more in control now, but the battle continues daily.
This is not a blog about me as a victim with OCD. This is about sharing a bit of my experience with something that is still very misunderstood by society in hopes of helping anyone who might be engaged in a battle with this serious challenge. It might also help those who have children or a loved one who is silently suffering.
I could write a book on my life with OCD, but my goal is to reveal as much as I can in this brief blog.
The Mayo Clinic defines OCD as a disorder “characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). It’s also possible to have only obsessions or only compulsions and still have OCD.”
The obsessive thoughts and the compulsive behavior vary greatly from person to person, but the one common denominator is that the thoughts force an individual to try to control something around them in place of being able to control their obsessive thoughts. In my case, the obsessive thoughts led to compulsive behavior.
For those who do not have OCD – not much of this will make sense. In fact, it might make some think that OCD is a politically correct affliction to excuse bizarre behavior. But I am here to tell you that if you have OCD, or are the parent of a child with OCD, or with a partner or spouse that has OCD, and then all of this will make perfect sense.
At a young age, I experienced a traumatic moment when my father was traveling for business, and to the best of my memory, that was when I recognized my obsessive-compulsive disorder. What specifically happened is not as important as the fact that something did happen, and it is believed that a person is born with OCD, which can be hereditary, and something traumatic occurs that brings to life the OCD symptoms.
My father traveled almost every week when I was growing up and I was obsessed with the fear that he would be killed while traveling. In the earlier stages of my OCD, I had a certain set of clothes I had to wear each day of the week when he traveled and I was absolutely convinced that if I didn’t wear each set of clothes on that particular day of the week – that my father would die and I would never see him again. Wearing the clothes was a way I felt I could control his fate – as ridiculous as that sounds. I could not control my father traveling, and I could not control my obsessive fear that he would die – but I could control the clothes I wore each day.
My Dad was the sales promotion manager for JAX, a locally brewed beer that was distributed in five states. Since many of the distributors my Dad had to visit regularly were in small towns and cities that were not accessible by the airlines, he convinced his company to buy a company plane. My Dad was a great pilot in the Navy and loved to fly, so having a company plane meant that he could continue to be a pilot.
Even though I had faith in my Dad’s ability to fly, I still felt that something could happen to him as he flew the five states in a small plane. I worried – obsessively – to the point where I didn’t even feel alive. I was just going through the motions.
In addition to wearing certain clothes each day of the week he traveled, I had to sit in a certain position on the sofa with my hands and feet locked in a specific position and I was not able to relax until he called that night to let us know that he was safe on the ground and in his hotel. Until he called each night – if anyone moved anything – and I mean anything – even the salt and pepper shakers – I had to move them back in the same place thinking that would somehow keep my father from dying.
As time passed, I got over the obsession that my father would be killed while traveling, and the physical compulsions of wearing certain clothes each day of the week and putting anything that was moved back in its place evolved into silent mental compulsive thoughts that possessed my entire body. I then began to focus on being a perfect person. If I made even the slightest mistake, I would begin a ritualistic thought process that took over my brain. I would talk to myself and to God about “starting over – right now” and never making that mistake, or any mistake, ever again. Since I had OCD – my brain had to find something to obsess over – first my father and then my quest to be perfect. I always felt that I would have to get rid of my OCD in order to be the person I was destined to be.
It is impossible to write out a narrative of the ritualistic thought process that took over my brain, but imagine that you are talking to yourself and God in a prayer with your hands and feet in a certain fixed position and staring that a specific spot on the floor, counter or the wall. At this point – you don’t even feel alive. You feel as if you are just going through the motions of life while trying desperately to hide the deep torture from everyone from loved ones to strangers.
Imagine tripping over one word as you go through this thought process or not having the right “feeling” you want to have during the conversation with yourself and God, and having to start the ritual over from the beginning. I would start over by repositioning myself in the exact spot and start over. If I told myself that if I thought about certain things during the ritual, I would have to start over. And what happens when you tell yourself not to think about something? You think about it! And I did – over and over again.
Now, imagine sitting or standing in a rigid position – staring at a specific spot – and specific means a certain spot in the grain of the wood or a flaw in the paint on the wall or a mark or piece of lint on the floor - and going over the same verses in your head over and over and over for 10 minutes, 30 minutes, even hours at a time. That is OCD, and it is a silent torture. It’s not that you can’t physically move on – it’s that you can’t mentally move on.
I obsessed on the air through my radio career, and would listen back to shows when I knew how much I was suffering inside, and I couldn’t hear the effects of my suffering on the show. I was often stunned that I was able to hide the suffering so well.
The OCD episode could strike at any moment and countless times every day. I have never actually counted but I wouldn’t be surprised if I had five very extended episodes and a hundred shorter ones. I wasted so much of my life brain-locked in OCD episodes.
Again – writing this is not about me – but I am using my experience to enlighten those of you who may be suffering or may be with someone who is suffering. This is also for those who are quick to think that OCD is a faux disorder and is part of a society that is over-diagnosed and overmedicated.
Unfortunately, many people who do not have OCD are quickly diagnosed and put on medication – while others remain untreated and in silent torture.
I wish someone would have told me what was wrong with me in the early stages of my OCD, but when I was young, OCD was not understood or recognized, and my parents, who knew something was wrong with me, took me to a psychiatrist twice only to be told – “I can’t find anything wrong with him.” That convinced me that I was the ONLY person in the world that had a brain that worked the way mine did – and that was a very lonely feeling.
As a straight male, one of the reasons I think I relate to gays and lesbians is because I grew up with this horrible secret hidden inside of me and I went through life with the thought that no really knew me. I know gays and lesbians who share similar feelings about their childhoods, teen years and even adulthood.
I was married twice, and neither of my wives knew I was OCD. I never shared my silent torture because I honestly believed they would not understand. In fact, I didn’t even know how to explain it because I thought I was the only person in the world who had a brain that worked the way mine did.
Today, I still battle my OCD daily, but it is under control. So there is hope for anyone dealing with an obsessive-compulsive brain.
Through reading, I first realized that there was a name for the way my brained worked. I started to seek help in the mid-90s, but nothing changed. Nothing changed until I was in Portland in 2000 when I had a major breakthrough!
I believed that I had to get rid of my OCD in order to be the person God wanted me to be and be the person I knew I could be. My life changed when a psychiatrist told me that rather than trying to get rid of my OCD, I should accept it as part of who I am. He told me that I was in very good company because many celebrities and creative and intelligent people have OCD. He was trying to explain that the same brain that deals with OCD is the same brain that could lead me to do many great things.
At the exact time the psychiatrist told me to work on accepting my OCD as part of who I am, I was reading a book on Zen. In the book, I read that there are things we like and don’t like about ourselves. A light shines on us and that’s what we like about ourselves. But the light casts a shadow – that’s what we don’t like about ourselves. To get rid of the shadow, we would have to get rid of the light. That was the moment of my breakthrough. I still struggle at times, but I have learned to accept who I am – I have OCD and that is part of me – which I completely accept.
If any of this discussion about obsessive-compulsive disorder is relatable to you or someone in your life, then it may serve as a flashpoint when you realize that what you are dealing with has a name – OCD. And hopefully, if you relate to this then you will begin to get your OCD under control like I did when I first related to something I read about OCD.
I am never offended by anyone who casually says, “I’m OCD!” I understand the difference between picking up a new common phrase to describe a habitual moment – and someone, like myself, who suffered the silent torture of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The lesson that I learned in that breakthrough moment about myself is a lesson for everyone. Accept who you are and remember that to get rid of the shadow – you would have to get rid of the light!
If you would like to talk about this – feel free to send me an email: Scoot@WWL.com.
“Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson was among the speakers at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. He jokingly said that the Republican Party must be desperate if they asked him to speak!
Robertson, who has made a series of controversial statements about homosexuals and blacks, told the Republicans gathered in New Orleans, “you can’t be right for America if you’re wrong with God” and that to “turn the Republican Party around” they must “Get Godly.”
It is without criticism of Phil Robertson’s or anyone’s Christian or religious beliefs that I question if the problem with the Republican Party is that it needs to “Get Godly.” While I’m not certain what Robertson meant, considering what is known about him, I would suggest that he is talking about the Republican Party doing more to openly support and promote Christian values and beliefs. And if the comments made by Robertson are advice on what the direction of the party should be in order to win the White House in 2016, then there is a strong implication of a President espousing Christian beliefs.
During the presidential election of 2012, there was a lot of talk about the role specific religious beliefs played in the lives on candidates and even the idea that if elected – religion would play a part in the decision-making process of the Republican president.
When Phil Robertson says the Republican Party needs to “Get Godly,” or when a candidate for public office boasts about their religious convictions and the part those convictions will play in government – the question of "separation of church and state" immediately comes to the forefront.
The Constitution does not mention God or religion, except that the government is forbidden to sponsor or require religion. The widely used phrase “separation of church and state” actually came from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. In reference to the First Amendment, Jefferson wrote, “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith and his worship, that legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation of Church and State.” And that is the historical reference point for “separation of church and state.”
In 1803, James Madison said, “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.”
George Washington said, “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
As with any constitutional issue – the phrase in the Constitution regarding no government sponsorship of religion and Jefferson’s declaration of a “wall of separation of church and state” – there is an opportunity for interpretation. But the intent of our founding fathers seems quite clear. There is no mention of Christian beliefs, religion or God in the Constitution. If there was a motivation to rule America by Christian beliefs (as so many suggest) then something more specific would have been mentioned.
The debate over “separation of church and state” will never end, but regardless of what the Constitution says – or doesn’t say – do we want a President or any elected official to use his or her specific religious beliefs to guide their decision-making while in office? That should be a frightening thought to all Americans, especially in light of the many politicians who have promoted their Christian moral beliefs during a campaign only to fall short of upholding their beliefs while in office.
The Republican Party was damaged by the inference that religion was an important part of the party’s platform and agenda. The implication of religion and politics invokes the idea of government-led influence on the personal and religious lives of individuals.
During the presidential campaign of 1960, John F. Kennedy, a Catholic running for president, went to great lengths to convince voters that he was running as a Democrat and not as a Catholic and that his Catholic beliefs would have no influence on the decisions he made as President of the United States. Kennedy’s victory over Richard Nixon should be used as a precedent for every president. It is appropriate for any President to be religious and maintain strong moral values – but not use a specific set of religious beliefs as a compass for America’s direction.
Why are so many Americans afraid of the idea that there is a separation of church and state? What if government is void of religion – like the Constitution? Would that diminish the faith of any Christian or religious person in America?
Our faith – our religious convictions – live within our hearts and minds, and not in any government position or institution. Asking the government to support and promote Christianity is implying that the government – rather than the Bible or religious leaders – is the best source of religion in America.
Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour – who is also a prominent voice in the Republican Party – told the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans in reference to a political party’s purpose is to win elections, “I hope we will not let purity be the enemy of victory.”
Those who endorse government support and promotion of Christian beliefs are naïve to the implications of what they wish for!
Any plan to require that school lunches be healthier for students should be a bipartisan plan, one that has only the best interest of the young students as its motivation.
However, First Lady Michelle Obama’s effort to make school lunches healthier has turned ugly, and demonstrated that even attempts to help children in America can easily evolve into a political game.
Last Thursday, a House committee voted for a Republican-backed measure that would allow schools to opt out of the standards passed in 2010 to reduce sodium and increase whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables for school lunches.
The initiatives of First Ladies of the United States often become political pawns in the hands of the opposing parties; Michelle Obama has been a piñata for the Republican Party.
Ms. Obama has publically denounced the House committee’s vote allowing schools to opt out of the new healthier standards for school lunches by saying the vote amounts to the embracing of junk food. The reports from school districts on reaction to the new standards for healthier school lunches are mixed, but the reports about the rejection of the healthier food items and Ms. Obama’s plan seems to be getting more attention than the success stories.
In a school district in New Mexico, families condemned the whole-wheat tortillas. In Georgia, there was resistance to removing fried chicken from the school lunch menu. Flaky white country biscuits were replaced with whole-grain biscuits - that was rejected by students in Tennessee. In Arkansas, a school district reports that students piled the containers of applesauce into the cafeteria garbage cans. School districts that criticized the initiative to make school lunches healthier all reported that many of the healthy food items – like fruit and vegetables – suffered the same fate.
The plan to make school lunches healthier, supported in full by the White House, has turned into a battle between Republicans and Democrats, urban and rural school districts, and big food companies and health advocates. We should never be surprised that politicians turn a simple idea into political warfare.
Large companies that sell millions and millions of dollars worth of food considered less healthy to the schools – like frozen pizza and French fries – support the plan that allows schools to opt out of the healthier plan. And the strong lobbying group – School Nutrition Association – is fighting for the healthier plan. Rejection of the plan to provide healthier choices is being used by those who want to attack and reject anything President Obama or the First Lady touch. And that political side is supported by the big companies that sell less healthy food to the schools. The idea that the healthier choices end up in the garbage can creates a strong visual of taxpayers’ dollars being wasted.
The other argument is that if students have only healthier options – then they will eventually adapt. Some school districts have seen a change in attitudes from the moment the healthier plans were introduced, and say that while young students may have rejected the healthier choices at first, they ultimately accepted and appreciated the new healthier choices.
Presenting healthier school lunches for students that will reject the healthier choices could be a symptom of poor eating habits at home. If students are not taught by parents to eat properly, then providing healthier school lunches is not going to change their poor eating habits.
I’ve made the same argument with prayer in schools. A school-led prayer at the beginning of a school day is not going to change a young student who is not getting any prayers or religious education at home. If only it were as simple as requiring a prayer at the beginning of each school day to turn bad kids into good kids!
I understand both sides of this debate. The government cannot force students to be healthy. Being healthy overall is a virtue taught and supported at home. But since there are school districts where students initially rejected the healthier choices and then accepted them – then there is wisdom in the idea of not giving young students the less healthy choices.
Most children will select candy or something sweet over fruits and vegetables – but if fruits and vegetables are the only option – would students eventually eat what is available?
Children cannot be given too many choices and need guidelines from parents. Send a child into a grocery store to pick out what they want to eat and I doubt their free will would yield many healthy choices in the grocery basket.
Americans should not look to the government to raise children – whether instilling religion with a school-led prayer or forcing healthier food items during school lunches.
The growing presence of the “nanny state” mentality is the direct result of the loss of personal accountability in America. If we are not responsible for our behavior and decisions, and expect the government to be responsible for us and our children – then we are further cracking the foundation this nation was built upon, and we edge ever closer to government control over individuals.
I think back on the school lunches I had at East Jefferson High School, and I’m not sure anyone really gave much thought to the nutritional value of what we were eating – but that was a different time when choices were not treated as constitutional rights. I remember red beans & rice on Mondays, shepherd’s pie, meatloaf, green beans and a square of a sweet peanut butter treat that probably would not meet nutritional standards today!
But America didn’t depend on the schools to make us healthy – that was the responsibility of parents.
I support giving students healthier school lunch choices with the understanding that students will not always choose what is best for them. But if the less healthy options are no longer available – then they could adapt to what is.
However, I also understand that good eating habits come from the home – not the school.