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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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Scoot: Kids, candy cigarettes and the American "Blame Game"

It was my rebellious side that motivated me to bring a pack of candy cigarettes into the Superdome and enjoy one during the Saints/Cowboys game Sunday night. I tweeted the picture of me with one hanging from my mouth at the game and posted it on my Facebook page- people saw it, shared it and some commented.

Embedded image permalinkOne comment that stood out to me was the question, "Where in the world did you find candy cigarettes?" In the interest of protecting my source, I refuse to disclose where I buy my candy cigarettes, but it's important to know that they still exist!

One of the recurring themes on "The Scoot Show" on WWL is the erosion of personal responsibility and the devastating impact that has had on our country. It occurs to me that the idea of candy cigarettes is a metaphor for society's diminished emphasis on personal responsibility.

I confess I ate candy cigarettes when I was a kid. My irresponsible parents actually purchased them for me and at one point I was up to two packs a day!

When they first hit the market, candy cigarettes had a red tip to replicate a lit cigarette and I would slowly eat each candy cigarette to mock the process of it getting smaller from actually smoking it.

My parents smoked and so did a couple of teenagers in my neighborhood that I thought were cool and the candy cigarettes were my way of imitating grown-up behavior. But this also happened at a time when the health hazard of smoking was just being made public. Fred Flintstone, star of "The Flintstones," did TV commercials promoting a brand of cigarettes. Imagine the reaction today if a popular animated character did commercials promoting cigarettes or even beer!

While the relationship between cigarettes and society has changed dramatically from the time when candy cigarettes were popular with kids, our parents did not want us to grow up and smoke, but did not seem to be concerned with the idea that we were pretending to smoke cigarettes. At the time candy cigarettes were popular it was also popular to teach kids that there were responsible for their behavior, regardless of what they were exposed too. And that has changed today.

Banning items from the market seems easier than tackling the more intensive challenge of actually teaching kids that they are responsible for their behavior, regardless of what they are exposed to, like video games, fattening foods, booze or candy cigarettes.

The fact is, a lot of kids in my generation were given candy cigarettes by our parents, but I don't smoke and neither do the millions of kids that once, like me, had a two-pack-a-day habit!

The reason the picture of me consuming a candy cigarette at the Saints game Sunday night got so much attention is because the thought of candy cigarettes is blasphemous today. It's as if there is a direct link between candy cigarettes and smoking.

The most popular game in America is "The Blame Game," and the hosts and all of the contestants are people who no longer accept responsibility for their behavior or the behavior of their children. And if we can divert blame, even for the things we are responsible for, then it is a lot easier to feel good about yourself.

Today, if a child does something evil with a gun, it's because of the video game the kid played. If a teenager becomes a criminal it is because they have no other options, which means that work is not an option. There is always an excuse and today's adult generation must own up to the fact that it was one of the creators of "The Blame Game" and prepared their children to be the contestants.

Until we return to respecting and demanding personal responsibility for behavior, something as insignificant as candy cigarettes on the market will be blamed for negative behavior that should be blamed on individual decisions.
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Scoot: Pope Francis supports KY county clerk Kim Davis

Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who gained notoriety when she refused to perform her duty of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, is back in the media spotlight. Davis says she had a one-on-one meeting with Pope Francis during his recent visit to America, and said the Pope let her know that he completely supported her refusal to issue the marriage licenses to gay couples.

The Vatican will not confirm or deny the meeting took place, but Kim Davis claims to have pictures of their meeting.  Even if Davis did not meet with Pope Francis, and there’s no reason to believe she did not, the Pope has made it clear that he supports conscientious objectors, even government officials, who place their religious beliefs above the law and their duties.

Since the Pope is not infallible in all that he says, let’s put his support of Kim Davis in perspective.  As a devout religious leader, Pope Francis is expected to view religious conviction beyond the confines of laws, but one can support the Pope and disagree with his view on this issue based on respect for the laws of society.

Pope Francis is not an expert on the Constitution; therefore, it should not be shocking that he could show support for religious conviction over law.  

Some of the specific religious beliefs of Kim Davis may differ greatly from the teachings of the Catholic Church.  Davis has been divorced three times and it’s quite possible that she would never have felt beholden to the Catholic Church’s stance on divorce in making past decisions.  Disagreement with a religion or a political party can easily be set aside when there is common ground on a specific issue.

Many devout Catholics who have disagreed with some of this pope’s views on controversial issues base their disagreements on the idea that the pope is not infallible and that he is expressing his views more than dictating Catholic rule.  If there is agreement on Pope Francis’ support of Kim Davis, it is important not to selectively elevate the Pope’s words on this matter to a level of infallibility. 

Many Catholics and Americans, in general, may disagree with Pope Francis on his support of Kim Davis defying the law of the land because of her religious conviction, but they are no different than those who have disagreed with the Pope’s comments about gay priests, divorce, abortion and atheists going to Heaven.

A pope views religion and the world from a religious perspective that may supersede the law, in the same way that a doctor may view the merits of a medicine that is not approved for legal use but would refuse to issue the medication because it violates the rules – rules he or she may disagree with.
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Scoot: Who are these criminals committing robberies ?

The late night armed robbery of a third uptown business in just over a month further emphasizes what New Orleans City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell said, “right now, there is not a single place that is safe.”

There seems to be a similar pattern with all of the recent uptown robberies, but NOPD has not said if the robberies are connected.  About 11:00 pm on Thursday night, August 20, three masked gunmen burst into Patios and robbed the restaurant and the patrons.  Last Thursday night, September 24 at about 9:45 pm, gunmen barged into Café Atchafalaya, another uptown restaurant, and again, the restaurant and the patrons were robbed of cash, cellphones and wallets.  Last night, September 28 at about 10:00 pm, three gunmen identified by NOPD as masked black males, stormed into the Monkey Hill bar on Magazine St. and robbed the business and patrons.

The threat of crime that has become a way of life in many New Orleans neighborhoods rarely attracts as much attention as the crimes that occur in neighborhoods presumed to be safer.  

Uptown New Orleans has been hit with three late-night robbers at two restaurants and a bar, but recently, that area of the city has been plagued with criminal action – even brazen daytime robberies.  

I often imagined on the air about what life is like for those who live in areas where the fear of violent crime is a constant threat.  The only thing that will create a demand that something be done to make those neighborhoods safer is for those with influence and power to emotionally place themselves in those settings.  Or the demand for change will come when the same threat of crime to comes into the neighborhood of those with influence and power.  But sadly, many good families have faced that fear all along living their daily lives in their neighborhoods.

Councilwoman Cantrell is right, crime is everywhere and no one should consider themselves safe.  It seems as if public outrage is the only force that will lead to definite change.  The public, even those who felt, or still feel safe, should have realized a long time ago that crime tolerated in one neighborhood is sure to spread into other neighborhoods.  That is becoming more and more of a reality today.

On Monday, NOPD arrested a 16-year-old suspected in at least five uptown armed robberies, the most recent was mid-morning Friday at the corner of Milan and Camp.  Police found a revolver on the teenager and recovered a lever action rifle in a folding chair bag from his residence, which is believed to be the weapon he used in several of the robberies.  

Who is this 16-year-old?  Who are the teenagers who have chosen armed robbery as a career path?  Who are all of the young people who make up the majority of the criminal element here and across the country?

Does the 16-year-old and the suspects in the three armed robberies Uptown go to school?  Do they have jobs?  Do they have parents?  A recent study released by Tulane University revealed that a large number of young people in New Orleans 16-24 do not go to school and have no job.  

The public has a right to know who the criminals are and if there is a common dominator among them.  The problem will never be solved until we know the absolute source of the problem and the public outrage that is needed to demand a solution will not manifest until the problem is clearly defined.

We know that countless young criminals have a rap sheet the length of which is disproportionate to their age, but isn’t it time for more basic information about who the criminals are?

It should not be wrong or politically incorrect to identify any source of a problem.
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Scoot: Saints' dismal 0-3 record is about coaching

I have a very difficult time believing that Sean Payton is so satisfied with his one Super Bowl win and his huge contract that he has become complacent – but I can’t think of any other explanation for his new found tolerance of failure.

The circumstances that led to the Saints holding training camp at a posh resort in West Virginia last year seem to have cast a spell on Coach Payton.  Last year, the spell over Payton could not be proven, but with a winless preseason and a 0-3 start to the 2015 season, there seems to be little doubt that Sean Payton has, indeed, become complacent and lost the edge that made him our hero.

Sean Payton was the standard by which we judged success and an insatiable commitment to winning.  Well, that standard has been devalued and the team is now an obvious mirror reflection of the ghost of Payton past.

Preseason is preseason and the games don’t count, but what does count is the collapse of the Saints at the end of preseason games to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And that mentality has carried over into the regular season, which continues the negative trend from last season.

Backup QB Luke McCown was nearly perfect stepping in for the legendary Drew Brees and there were other moments when there was a shining light on the Saints.  But the shining light cast some dark shadows.  The defense’s lack of ability to cover the one receiver they should have known would get the ball – Panthers TE Greg Olsen.  I’m surprised the Saints secondary is not being treated for 3rd-degree burns today.

There were dropped passes from veteran Marques Colston, and one from the rising star Willie Snead.  In the end zone, it’s fair to observe that Brandin Cooks could have fought for the ball that was intercepted in the end zone – at least to break up the interception. 

There was a fumble after a key gain.  Interceptions, fumbles and mistakes are part of any game played by human beings, but for the past few years, this Saints team under Sean Payton is not only committing it’s share of mistakes, but rather than recovering from those mistakes the team allows mistakes to impact team play.  That is not the way champions play.

Where is the Sean Payton who was bold enough to take risks and shake up the conventional wisdom of NFL play-calling,  like calling an onside kick at the start of the 2nd half of the Super Bowl?  

Do you remember the Sean Payton who ran up and down the sidelines, who was animated on the sidelines and had fire in his eyes?  The fact that we remember that Sean Payton means he no longer exists.

If any leader plays it safe – he/she robs their team of confidence and aggression.  The mentality that Sean Payton used to get the Saints to the Super Bowl is not the mentality he is currently using as leader of the Saints.

Panthers’ Coach Ron Rivera faced a 4th & 1 on about the 20-yard-line, which would have been an easy field goal.  But Rivera went for the first down and QB Cam Newton was actually hit, but it was his 2nd effort that led to the 1st down. Ultimately, the Panthers settled for a field goal with a few ticks on the clock left in the 1st half and the Saints defense was responsible for keeping the Panthers out of the end zone.

All of the blame should not fall on Sean Payton, but it is the leader of a team or a company that sets the tone for the attitude of the individuals that make up the team or the company.  And if that’s the case, then it’s obvious that from the top of the front office to the coaches and their play-calling, the Saints now seem to reflect the curse of complacency.  Yet, with the amazing loyalty of the Saints fan base, the bottom line is not affected.

It is easier and more fun to become #1 than it is to stay #1.  Sean Payton and the Saints front office led the Saints and the loyal WHO DAT NATION to #1, but the challenge of staying on top has not been met with the right attitude and work.  In his book “The Winner Within,” NBA Coach Pat Riley addresses all of the fundamental problems with the Saints.  If a book has been written about what is happening to the Saints, then it’s a common phenomenon. 

Sean Payton is young enough to see a future beyond the Saints.  I don’t know if that is what Payton is doing, but could the idea of building a championship team on a bigger NFL stage have taken away Payton’s strive to be great with the Saints?

No matter what your line of work – remember, it is easier and more fun to become #1 than it is to stay #1.  And it may be human nature to allow the satisfaction of reaching a goal to take over – but that is NOT the nature of true champions who acknowledge their success, but never to the point of being satisfied.

This is not a joke.  What has 22 legs and can’t run?  Answer: Saints offense.
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Scoot: Pope's ride in Fiat the ulitmate symbol of modesty

The significance of Pope Francis’ request to be driven around in a Fiat is explained in the simple definition of the word fiat: an order to be followed.

From the beginning as his reign as pope, Francis has rejected much of the opulence associated with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.  He is the first Jesuit priest to become pope and his attention to the poor and social injustice should come as no surprise.
But it is the simple imagery of Pope Francis riding in the back seat of a 4-door Fiat 500 that sends a message to everyone, especially Americans.  In the context of a motorcade of high-tech, armored vehicles, the visual of the smaller and more common Fiat carrying the most important dignitary in the group is a beacon that unveils our cultue’s obsession with excess.

For those who criticize Pope Francis for condemning capitalism, I believe the Pope is not opposing capitalism as much as he is opposing excess and greed.  Without criticizing financial success in America, there can be recognition that many of those with so much more reaped their benefits at the expense of others and an excessive CEO’s salary is more honorable than giving back to the employees that do the work that leads to the excessive salary.

Is there something wrong with the basic concept of caring about all people?  Why does this often lead to the political label of being a “liberal?”  And when “liberal” is used to describe a person who at least considers others over excessive wealth - it is used as a derogatory term.

In my career, I have worked with and for people in radio who selfishly counted their money and celebrated all it could buy, while refusing to financially acknowledge the individuals whose labor was directly responsible for their success.  

Maybe one of the enduring messages of Pope Francis’ visit to America is that we should recognize those who, through no fault of their own, are in desperate situations struggling for survival.  Everyone who is poor is not lazy.  Everyone on the street is not a bump.  Everyone who is out of work is not looking for a handout from the government.

Pope Francis continues to be criticized for being too political, but isn’t he just addressing the issues of humanity that are addressed in the Bible and in the words of Jesus?  Many times sitting in church on a Sunday morning, I hear gospel readings that make me realize how selfish I can be.  I hear scripture that challenges me to focus more on others and less on myself.  If that’s being “liberal” – then a strong argument could be made that Jesus would, today, be considered a “liberal.”  But the spiritual message of Pope Francis or any religious leader can be considered outside of the boundaries of politics.

No one should feel guilty about their success, but there is clearly a trend toward condemning those who show compassion and celebrating those who take all they can with little regard for others.  We too often judge a person by the materialistic things possessed, like cars, houses and clothes, rather than the wealth of words that comes from someone’s heart.

Some of us were born with certain talents.  We didn’t ask to be born with them – we were just born with certain abilities that have directly contributed to our success.  I think what Pope Francis is telling us is in the grand scheme of life, let’s appreciate that some of our success is the result of the talent God gave us and if we are among the lucky ones, we should show our appreciation by never ignoring those who may not have been born with our blessings.

The Pope could be riding in a car grander than even the president’s car, but choses to ride in a Fiat.  So many of our elected officials run on the premise that they will represent the average person, yet we see no signs of that over their years in power.  

This pope is leading by setting an example, even if by doing so he rejects the lavish benefits that come with being in power.

Pope Francis riding in a Fiat is the ultimate symbol of what this pope is trying to tell us.
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Scoot: Is Pope Francis too political?

Pope Francis’ arrival in America has ignited the criticism that this Pope is too political.  People were saying things like, “The Pope needs to stick to religion and leave politics out of it.”

I thought about the issues Pope Francis has addressed from divorce to abortion to homosexuality to climate change and it occurred to me that the Pope is not politicizing religion - he is simply talking about the issues that effect individuals and humanity as a group. 
Criticizing the Pope for reaching beyond religion into political matters made me realize that it is our politicians and voters that have merged politics with religion.  

It is more obvious than ever that religion has become synonymous with politics in a nation that should be celebrating the separation of church and state.  We have presidential candidates promoting their specific religious beliefs, while condemning the beliefs of others.  

Some candidates use God on the campaign trail as an endorsement for their campaign, which invokes the not-so-subtle implication that they are religious and their opponents are evil.

It is not Pope Francis who has blurred religion and politics – it is American politicians that have blurred the lines between politics and religion.

We have turned issues about caring, inclusion and faith into controversial political debates.  The idea of equality for blacks, Muslims or homosexuals is based on a human concern, not a political concern.  Yet how quickly we turn inclusion into a political battle designed to pit one side against the other!

Sadly, politics is a game played between two teams and trying to beat the other team becomes more important than doing what is best for all.

There is a lot that is still unknown about the issue of climate change.  Is it a cyclical phenomenon of the planet, or is the change the result of the human obsession with excess?  

Many have definite opinions about climate change, but our experience with this planet may be too brief to make that determination for certain.  But the point is, why is the Pope addressing climate change? Is this an example of the Pope venturing into politics?  Regardless of the source of climate change, be it a natural cycle or man-made, it is a significant issue that could impact all of humankind on this planet.  It is out of concern for humanity, not politics, that Pope Francis is addressing the issue that we have turned into a political controversy.

The hot-button issues that Pope Francis dares to address as pope is not an example of this pope being too political – the fact that he is criticized for addressing human issues is an example of how our society has turned politics into religion.

If we, as a nation, gain anything from Pope Francis’ visit to America, it should be we have blended religion into the political debate that is designed to control people.

Do you wonder how God views this?  I don’t!
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Scoot: What should Pope Francis say about America?

Pope Francis arrives on American soil today amid great anticipation over what this pope will say about the Catholic Church and America.

From the moment he became Pope, Francis has addressed controversial issues like divorce, abortion and homosexuality, boldly going where no Pope has gone before.
Pope Francis’ tendency toward acceptance and forgiveness have led many Catholics to see him as dramatically redefining what it means to be Catholic. That is welcome news to some, but others resist any conversations that suggest exceptions to strict Catholic interpretation of the rules.

The Catholic Church is the largest denomination in the United States, with about 68 million parishioners.  The next largest denomination is the Southern Baptist Convention with 15.5 million followers. But the Catholic Church has seen a steady exodus of Catholics from the Church.  
The Church’s instinct to protect priests who molested children, the hard stance on divorced and re-married Catholics and the conflict between the Church’s position on homosexuality and the growing mainstream acceptance of gay rights are a few of the issues that have caused many devout Catholics to feel alienated from their church.  But it has also led many alienated Catholics to feel more welcome in the Church.

Since 1977, weekly Mass attendance has fallen from 41% to 24% among adult Catholics, according to the Pew Research Center.  A shortage of priests is another challenge the Church faces.  The priest shortage has ignited the controversy over whether priests should be allowed to marry.
The idea of the Catholic Church changing to relate more to the realities of a modern American society conflict with those who believe the Church should not change – people should change.  But the Church does have a history of evolution over time.

The lines between religion and politics have been blurred.  Vice President Joe Biden is a Catholic and the first Catholic VP.  John F. Kennedy was the only Catholic president in U.S. history.  In the 2016 race for the Republican nomination, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Rick Santorum are among the Catholics hoping to become the next Catholic president.
As expectation grows over what Pope Francis will say about the Catholic Church and America, I hope the Pope addresses the now blurry lines between politics and religion.  I would not even pretend to predict what the Pontiff might say, but from what I have learned about Pope Francis from his words and actions, I would like the Pope to talk about the sacred separation of church and state.  I would like to hear the Pope say that following the law, even if it conflicts with specific religious beliefs, is important and does not rob anyone of their personal religious conviction.  I would also like to hear Pope Francis talk about equality and acceptance towards others and that we do not need to become so obsessed with demanding that everyone follow our path.

In general, I would like to hear Pope Francis confirm that regardless of whether a Ten Commandments monument or a Christmas display appear on state property, we are never stripped of the personal religious convictions that live in our hearts and anyone who argues they are losing their Christianity cannot blame it on secular America.

It has been interesting to witness how those who disagree with Pope Francis’ opinions on many controversial issues dismiss the Pope’s “word” and say that he doesn’t represent all of the Catholic Church.  But it has been those same people, in the past, who have taken every “word” of any Pope as representative of the Catholics in America and around the world.

Is it sad to see the same hypocrisy used in advancing religious agendas that is used to promote political agendas?  

Hypocrisy means a failure to judge equally.  And I find that particularly disturbing when it comes to religion.
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Scoot: What happened to the Saints' determination?

The Saints game had become boring and not because the Saints were running the ball – or trying to run the ball – the game became boring because the Saints lacked passion on the field.
The Saints offensive line had a difficult time protecting Brees – and then something happened that ignited team passion. 
I love the Saints – but I have to be honest and say that they have become predictable and maybe too complacent overall.  The entire organization knows how loyal the fan base is, but that can never be taken for grant it.  The players and the coaches – with the exception of performance bonuses – earn the same amount of money whether the team wins or loses.  But the fans and many businesses suffer.
It is not fair to demand that your team win or demand team perfection – but it is fair to demand that your team play to its potential – and the Saints have not done that yet this season.

I wrote the above last September as the Saints were beginning the 2014 season and it seems that nothing has changed.
What is wrong with the Saints?  Why do the two top leaders of the team – Sean Payton and Drew Brees – sound dejected and almost complacent with their mediocrity?
Could the answers lie in the strongly held theory that it’s easier to become #1 than it is to stay #1?  Since winning the Super Bowl, the public persona of Sean Payton and Drew Brees, particularly after a loss, seems fundamentally different from their persona during the build-up to winning the Super Bowl and the signing of huge new contracts.  It may be human nature to become satisfied after reaching the level of success one has fought to achieve, but real champions are never satisfied with what they have accomplished.
I can’t speak for the desire, or lack of desire, that live in hearts of Payton and Brees and maybe it is just a coincidence, but the tone of Payton and Brees following embarrassing losses that past couple of seasons reflects more complacency than desire.  The word “unfortunately” is often used to describe the failure of the Saints as if fortune, or luck, is a factor.  The word “hopefully” is often used to project how the Saints will perform in the next game, as if that’s all they can do is hope!
Where is the outrage and resolve that whatever is happening will no longer be tolerated?  Fits of anger are not always the answer, but what I don’t hear is the frustration that humans express when they know they could have and should have done better and have a sincere desire to change.
I first met Sean Payton backstage at a concert and was honored when he told me he listened to the show whenever he could.  We also had a friendly exchange in the men’s room at an event.  I hope my honestly does not impact the friendly exchanges we have had, but as a talk show host I have to be honest about what I see. 
Whatever was missing last season it still missing and it seems more mental than physical.  The Saints are dealing with injuries to key players on defense, but the offense is now underperforming.  The Saints fumbled 5 times – lost 2 - and were penalized 10 times for 115 yards.  Many of the penalties reflect a fundamental lack of concentration and discipline.  A lack of discipline on a most basic level leads us to believe that there is a general lack of discipline with the team.
At one point the Saints had only 9 players on the field.  Our new and improved offensive line could not protect Brees, who was sacked 4 times. The Saints missed an extra point and a 42-yard field goal.  Even the Saints reliable punting game failed.  And all of this happened against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – a team Bobby Hebert calls the “Suckaneers.”  And to make the scenario even worse – the Saints performed pitifully again at home in the dome!  Six straight losses in the dome are inexcusable, yet I hear no defiance that this trend will end.
As I said last season, too much emphasis is being placed on the Drew Brees’ individual records.  Brees is destined for the NFL Hall of Fame, but all of his amazing records are doing nothing to add to the Saints, as a team, winning games.  Thousands of passing yards may look good on paper, but they do not contribute to a team win when a QB can’t lead a team to get a first down when it’s 3rd and short.
And if Brees was hurt following a hit early in the game, then he should have been replaced – period!  Fans often get the idea that a player’s emotions play a major role in a game and that it would damage a player’s ego and confidence to take them out.  Fans pay to see a team win – or at least make their best effort to win and ego and confidence should play no role in that quest.
Fans should be bothered by the information embargo on the status of Jarius Byrd.  The Saints have a ton of money tied up in a star player who is not playing and there seems to be an arrogance about keeping the facts a secret.  Why?
Here’s my fear.  In the subconscious of Drew Brees is that he is set for life financially and has made an unquestionable impact of the NFL with records that will hold for years or forever.  His name will always be synonymous with “greatness.”  It’s easy to say that you want to show you are not complacent, but much more difficult to prove it.
Sean Payton was rewarded handsomely for his performance as the Saints head coach, but does the idea that he is still young and could end up with another team building a new champion affect his state of mind?
It’s easier to become #1 than it is to stay #1.
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Scoot: Prove to me that President Obama is a Muslim

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s presence on the campaign trail has sparked another controversial political fire.  Trump’s response to a question at a recent rally in New Hampshire has fueled the controversy that President Obama is a Muslim.

At a rally in Rochester, New Hampshire, Trump said he would do something different and take questions from the audience.  The first question from a Trump supporter began with, “We have a problem in this country.  It’s called Muslims.  You know our current president is one.  You know he’s not even an American.”

Trump interrupted the man wearing the Trump T-shirt and said, “We need this question.  This is the first question." The supporter continued, “Anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question:  When can we get rid of them?"

Trumps responded by saying, “We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things.  You know, a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening.  We’re going to be looking at that and many other things.”

Compare Trump handling that issue to the way Presidential Candidate John McCain handled a similar situation in 2008 when a woman said that President Obama was a Muslim.  McCain responded, “He’s a decent family man…(a) citizen I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.  That’s what this campaign is about.”  McCain was “booed” by the audience.
Trump has broken many of the rules of campaigning and that is clearly why he has done so well in the polls.  One of Trump’s signature characteristics is his “off-the-cuff” style, but Trump is also a calculated businessman who knows how to control his surroundings.  It is quite possible that the supporter stating that President Obama is a Muslim was not a surprise to the candidate.  But even if Trump did not anticipate the question, he and his campaign have had ample time to set the record straight and the question of whether Trump thinks the President is a Muslim lingers large over his campaign.

A recent CNN/ORC poll shows that 43% of Republicans and 54% of Trump supporters believe President Obama is a Muslim.  With no actual facts to support that belief, we are blessed with another microcosm of the reality that many Americans believe what they want to believe rather than the truth.

There is no question that social media has contributed greatly to the trend of Americans believing what they want to believe and the ridiculous emails that quickly circulate prove that seeking information to support preconceived beliefs is more popular than seeking the truth.

Only Trump, himself, knows whether he believes the President is a Muslim.  But adding credibility to that idea is linking Trump’s silence on the matter with his past insistence that Obama is not an American citizen.  And considering the number of Republicans who believe President Obama is a Muslim, it’s tempting to question whether the question from the audience member at the rally was planned or spontaneous.

I receive occasional texts and calls from listeners who believe, without a doubt, that President Obama is a Muslim.  I have openly asked any listeners to send me any evidence that proves Obama is a Muslim because I would love to break that news on my show!  If there is such certainty that the President is, indeed, a Muslim, why have I not received any information establishing that link?  I would think those who hold that belief would be eager to send me the information they have that proves Obama is a Muslim.

I ask again – send me the information that makes that link and I will break the news on my show!  

I have even had a few challenge me to prove Obama is not a Muslim.  Since the President says he is a Christian, the burden of proof is not on those who accept his claim, but on those who challenge his claim and that fits the basic legal concept in America of innocent until proven guilty.

I base my opinion on this topic – not out of defense of President Obama – but as defense of me as a talk show host.  What credibility do I have if I simply parrot those who hate the President, rather than try to reflect reality?

Barroom conversations and social media hysteria are in a different category than hosting a radio talk show.  There was a picture of President Obama holding the Koran as he stepped off Air Force One.  That picture spread across social media like is was news of the Second Coming.  But there has been no evidence that the picture was real, and the ease with which nearly anyone can photoshop a picture lends much more credibility to the idea that the picture was not authentic.  If President Obama was a Muslim, it’s hard to imagine that he would be so obvious as to walk off Air Force One with holding the Koran.

It’s sad that so many Americans believe what they want to believe and seek information that supports what they want to believe over what is the truth.

My personal reference to this comes from the years of some people claiming I am gay.  It doesn’t bother me as much as it reminds me of the human tendency to look or make up things you don’t like about someone to support your dislike of that person.

It should be obvious that my attitude on the air is such that if I were gay – you and everyone would know it!  And contrary to those who want to believe differently, there is no evidence to support the rumor.  And BTW – I have plenty of references!

And the picture of me walking in the French Quarter with the box set of Bette Midler hits was photoshopped!
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Topics : Politics
Locations : New HampshireRochester
People : Bette MidlerDonald TrumpJohn McCainObama


Scoot: Who won the CNN Republican debate?

Further enhancing the metaphor between sporting events and political debates was the singing of the National Anthem before the first debate began.  When I heard the lyrics, “and the home of the brave” with the eruption of applause – I was waiting for the candidates to start chest bumping each other!

The debate was so long (3 hours) and there were so many candidates (11) on stage that by the end of the debate my head was ready to explode!  But it was exciting and compelling and truthfully, no candidate bombed.  The question is - which candidates won the most points?
The biggest winners were Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and for those who like the more conservative ideology of Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, they will be seen as winners too.

The star candidate going into the debate, Donald Trump, was not as assertive as he was in the first debate on the Fox News Channel and that was a good thing.  But Trump’s image did take a hit because of his casual, pedestrian persona, which has been very appealing.  Trump made comical facial expressions at times that accented the possibility that he is light on substance.  We have all been surprised by the way voters react to Trump, but I would not be surprised to see Trump’s polling numbers level off or dip.  

Trump has captured the attention of America by being the most anti-political establishment candidate in the group, but in the end, voters know it will take more than attitude to win and run the White House.

Jeb Bush scored points, but it’s hard to tell how much of a boost he will get in the new polls.

Scott Walker, Rand Paul and John Kasich didn’t win or lose big.  They all took advantage of the opportunities they had to promote what they stand for.  But Walker, Huckabee and Kasich may move up in the polls that will be released next week.

If there was a loser of the night, it was Ben Carson, who had moved into a solid second place in key polls behind Trump, but far ahead to the rest of the pack.  He is intelligent and his mild-mannered style is appealing relative to the brash insincerity of politicians, but it was hard to imagine Ben Carson in the White House.

There were many memorable moments, but with a three- hour debate, how could there not be some moments to remember?  

Christie stood up for the middle class when he chastised Trump and Fiorina for boasting about their success as high-profile CEOs. Mike Huckabee scored points with the Christian right with his diatribe about the “criminalization of Christianity.”  But does that come at the expense of alienating the other voters it takes to win an election?

Fiorina had a great response to Trump’s comment about her face and the audience responded with favor and she graphically and emotionally described the horrific videos of members of Planned Parenthood callously marketing fetal parts.  It was a good night for Fiorina, who is at least stepping up into the group that will be considered for a VP running mate.

In the first debate between the 4 candidates with lower poll numbers, Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum may have scored the most points.  Santorum was assertive with his experience of running for president in 2012 and showed that he should have been in the main debate.

Jindal finally did something that might cause his polling numbers to go up.  Jindal was sharp and confident and delivered a perfect sound bite on immigration that can easily be remembered and repeated.  Jindal said, “immigration without assimilation is invasion.”  This referred to the hot-button issue of immigrants learning to speak English.

The early debate featured a lot of talk about immigration, including support for amnesty and the condemnation of Sanctuary Cities that essentially harbor illegal immigrants.  But with all the talk about how illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from Americans, which is popular political rhetoric, there was no conversation about those who are responsible for hiring illegal immigrants – American citizens.

We are a long way from the general election next November, but only about four months away from the first contest – the Iowa Caucus.  This is proving to be an exciting election cycle because of what voters are saying by their support of political outsiders, like Trump, Carson and Fiorina.

Be engaged and embrace the concept of our free elections, but do not panic and do not submit to the fear mongering that many of the candidates are using to get your attention.  Every time a candidate tells you to vote for them because “this is the most important election and the survival of America is at stake,” remember that there has not been an election in our lifetime when previous candidates did not say the same thing.

In spite of all the promises for change, sadly, we can expect little real change regardless of who becomes the next president.  And there is something comforting about that if your candidate doesn’t win.  

Amid the countless predictions that America will collapse, as recently as 2012, if a certain candidate doesn’t win the election, America still stands strong and that will not change.
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