Every day of the year we are reminded how divided America has become. We are divided along political, religious, racial, sexual orientation and gender lines and from there we are further divided into countless subgroups. The sad truth is that we are hard pressed to justify calling ourselves the United States of America. In the climate of great divide in America, can we approach Thanksgiving as a bipartisan holiday?
The origin of Thanksgiving was not based on politics or religion and actual documents may not provide solid proof of specific details of the first Thanksgiving, but notes passed along through history do give us a hint of that first Thanksgiving.
In 1621, the new settlers from England and Native Americans came together to give thanks for the first harvest in the New World. From the accounts passed over the years, about 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving. It is believed that Native Americans helped the new settlers survive in the New World and for that the settlers were grateful and wanted to give thanks.
The pilgrims and Native Americans were two totally different groups with different customs, appearances and lifestyles. If those two groups could come together to give thanks – then I would think that conservatives and liberals, whites and blacks, Christians and Jews, males and females and straights and gays can all come together on this Thanksgiving in the same spirit of unity.
It might not be sensational and it might not generate a lot of buzz on the airwaves, but it is important for us to step back from the bitter political debates that separate us and take time to appreciate all we do have in common. We may see different paths to our goals of happiness and success for America, but our goals are essentially the same.
Even if it is for just one day – Thanksgiving Day – let us come together as families, friends and as a nation for the simple purpose of giving thanks. It's a human flaw is to always think about what we don't have in life, but it is an important human quality to appreciate all we have been blessed with. Look not at those who have more – look at how much you do have.
If we all do come together this Thanksgiving like the Pilgrims and Native Americans did in 1621 – let's hope and pray in the years to follow that we treat each other with a little more respect than the early settlers treated the Native Americans!
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump continues to lead in the polls and as a political outsider, his support is based, largely, on America's disgust with the political establishment.
Disgust with the political establishment includes the American public's frustration with politicians who will say anything during a campaign to get elected. And yet, Donald Trump seems to represent the very thing so many are rebelling against by supporting his campaign.
Trump has recently claimed that he saw thousands of American Muslims celebrating across the Hudson River in New Jersey as the Twin Towers burned and collapsed to the ground. Trump continues to insist that's what he saw even though numerous news agencies have been unable to find any evidence to support Trump's claim.
The report that thousands of American Muslims were cheering as the Twin Towers came down has been a rumor perpetrated for years. As early as September 17, 2001, the Associated Press said the rumors of such an event were "unfounded." But during the renewed fear of a terrorist attack by Muslim terrorists, the idea of Muslims in America celebrating the attack on the Twin Towers is an easy way to rile up voters.
One would hope that a presidential candidate would not be using social media BS on the Internet as a legitimate information source for a campaign.
Donald Trump has also sent out a tweet with inaccurate statistics and when challenged Trump said, "I'm gonna check every statistic?" Well, that's not the craziest thing to expect out of a candidate and his or her campaign.
The tweet from Trump was an apparent attempt to incite people and gain support. In a tweet on crime in America, Trump tweeted that 81% of whites murdered in America were murdered by blacks. The actual statistic shows that 82% of whites murdered were murdered by other whites. That's a huge discrepancy that was clearly intended to instill fear in Americans. And to that Trump's response was, "I'm gonna check every statistic?"
Do you see the irony? Trump's support is based on a political outsider defying the deceit of the political establishment, yet Trump does not seem to see the deceit he projects when he seems to seems to say whatever he wants to say without respect for the truth.
Trump's bold honesty during the campaign is refreshing and attractive to enough Americans to put him in the lead among Republican candidates, but the honesty he represents should be based on the truth and not the typical political rhetoric that has been used to gain support with gullible Americans.
When you turned on the radio today, did you notice all those political ads were gone? The governor's race is done and the ads are no more. Your prayers to the political gods were answered! The campaign between Republican David Vitter and Democrat John Bel Edwards is over. Now let's hope the bitterness is over.
The matchup between Vitter and Edwards was not a classic matchup between a Republican and a Democrat because of the number of Republican voters that crossed party lines and voted for a Democrat.
In the red, conservative state of Louisiana Saturday night, John Bel Edwards became the first Democrat elected in a statewide election since 2008. Louisiana has been so bright red that it was hard to imagine a Democrat winning a statewide election in the foreseeable future, but Edwards soundly defeated Vitter.
It's tempting for Democrats in the state to brag about the big victory of their candidate, Edwards, and proclaim this is the beginning of a Democratic comeback in Louisiana, but the runoff between Edwards and Vitter was more about character than party.
Edwards won not because he was a Democrat – Edwards won because he attracted enough support from Republicans. David Vitter did not lose because he is a Republican - he lost because of character issues. Let's hope this is the beginning of a new way voters in America make their decisions.
At a time when Louisiana and America are so sharply divided along political lines, the victory by a Democrat in Louisiana is a glimmer of hope that maybe the trend in elections will be to elect the candidate – not the party.
The people in Louisiana who voted in the gubernatorial election should be proud. Louisiana is often behind the curve of trends, but the election of Edwards might mean we are ahead of the curve on a national trend. It's about the person – not the candidate.
With Edwards now the new governor – I wonder if the state will be saving any money by pulling out the old stationary and governor's mansion towels from the past when the previous Edwards was governor?
Amid all of the predictions that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump would flat line, three new polls shows Trump with a commanding lead over his closest rival, Ben Carson.
A new Reuters poll shows Trump with 36% and Carson with 14.6%. A University of Massachusetts poll has Trump leading with 31% to Carson's 22%. And a Morning Consult poll released this week shows Trump at 38% and Carson at 19%.
Trump's crude campaign, though some would describe it as "honest," is working with enough of the likely Republican voters to place him on top of the GOP field. After using an expletive to describe what he would do to ISIS, after throwing out more interruptive comments during the last Republican debate and after a trail of campaign comments that would have sunken any other candidate's ship, Trump remains #1!
If Trump represents the ultimate political outsider on paper, in reality, he personifies the ultimate outsider. America's disgust with the political establishment on both sides of the aisle has contributed greatly to Trump's success in the polls and the support he maintains from voters is fed by his total disregard for the rules of status quo politics.
Donald Trump's success at this point in the election cycle, is inspiring both rejection and rejoice among Americans. But what cannot be ignored is the message that many Americans are sending to the political establishment – we want real change.
Following the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday night, frustration and fear have grown over how to fight ISIS. President Obama has been seen as being too passive with little or no laid-out strategy. While some of the presidential candidates are now boldly promoting American soldiers on the ground in Syria and Iraq to battle ISIS, Trump resonates with voters when he says he would "bomb the sh**" out of ISIS.
It may be too soon to gauge whether the Paris attacks have changed the tone of the presidential election and it's still too early to predict that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee, but Trump's unorthodox candor cannot be ignored.
The voters supporting Trump care less about specific experience and care more about the type of person who will lead America. Experience in foreign affairs may not be as important as a candidate's confidence to deal with any matter that he or she encounters.
A man with no actual fighting skills might convince you that he can win a fight just by his will to be tough regardless of the circumstances.
Whether you love or loathe Donald Trump, his message is clear – Americans want someone who will stand up to the inept political status quo.
The conversation over allowing Syrian refugees into the United States and the state of Louisiana has instantly become a political debate. The fact that the political battle lines were so quickly drawn further demonstrates that nearly every debate today is used by both sides as a rallying cry for their troops.
The controversy over Syrian refugees being accepted into the United States feeds the hysteria that has become part of daily life. Syrian refugees fleeing the horrors of ISIS are not seen as men, women and children, many Christians, they are seen as potential terrorists.
That concern preceded the terrorist attacks on Paris last Friday night, but that concern exploded after it was revealed that at least one of the attackers in Paris posed as a Syrian refugee to gain entrance into France.
It is understandable that Americans are concerned about the possibility of Islamic terrorists posing as Syrian refugees to enter America for the purpose of launching an attack, but the debate became political so quickly that it's no longer a debate. We seem to have lost the ability to have a constructive debate in America.
There are problems with the attitudes of both sides. The liberal left is using the refugee debate to label the conservative right heartless, cold and un-American. The conservative right paints the liberal left as permissive, naïve and un-American.
The concern that terrorists would take advantage of America's generosity is real, but applying a degree of logic and humanity to the crisis should not lead to the fear that "we are losing America to the Muslims."
Beware of the talk radio hosts and the TV hosts that define every issue in black and white terms along political lines. This is the easy way – the path of least resistance – in attempts to attract an audience. Instilling fear compels an audience to think that the host who issues the warning about a new "fear" is the only one who will keep you up-to-date on the latest developments and is the only one who has the instructions for how to deal with the crisis.
It is far more challenging – for the radio or TV host and the audience – to apply logic over emotion. Applying logic takes more effort. The primal emotional response and the taking of a side with a controversial issue is similar to the primal response to an interference call against a player on your favorite team. Too many fans don't take time to consider whether the player committed the penalty, but emotionally react to the injustice they see.
We should not allow Islamic terrorists to redefine America, but know the threat of terrorists sneaking into this country or this state with a group of refugees fleeing the terrorists is also very real.
Rather than name-calling and fear-mongering, we should take a reasonable pause in allowing Syrian refugees into America while assurances are made that each refugee attempting to enter this country is thoroughly vetted. That preserves America's integrity without being naïve to a real threat.
The idea of being attacked by terrorists while innocently leading your life by going to dinner or a concert has a profound effect on the human mind. But the reality of being attacked while having dinner, walking down a New Orleans street or sitting in your home is far more likely to happen at the hands of an American citizen than an Islamic terrorist.
In fact, the chance of being killed by an American citizen who is behind the wheel of a car next to you on the highway is a much more immediate threat than the threat of terrorists in America.
All of the threats in our world are not the fault of political ideology – but that's the easiest way to define and express our frustrations.
In response to the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris Friday night, France immediately launched new airstrikes against known ISIS positions in the Syrian city of Raqqa. The positions targeted included weapons stashes and ISIS training camps. If the French, and presumably the United States, knew exactly where to hit ISIS after the attacks in Paris, why weren't those known targets hit as soon as they were identified?
Is it realistic to believe that in 2 days France quickly identified these targets? The idea that ISIS was stockpiling weapons and training terrorists - perhaps some of the terrorists that carried out the attacks last Friday night in Paris - at locations bombed after the attacks makes you wonder why in the world those positions were not hit sooner.
President Obama has been justifiably criticized for what appears to be no strategy in the war on ISIS. Recognizing that the war against ISIS is unconventional compared to the major wars of modern history where countries have battled each other, President Obama should have instilled confidence in the American people and the world that the U.S. did have a strategy to fighting ISIS. Specific details of the strategy should not be released, but the fact that there was a strategy in place would have done something toward making Americans not feel like the President's attitude toward ISIS was soft.
The Obama administration has maintained a very cautious policy with U.S. military action, and in light of the war in Iraq, that can be viewed as a positive development. While the United States cannot become the world's police, and the encouragement of alliances over solitary action is preferable, President Obama seems to have allowed his pacifist campaign persona to dictate his actions as commander-in-chief during a time when the actions of terrorists have become more aggressive and more threatening.
The campaign promise to get all of our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan is not as important as making decisions in office that fit the current developments in the world. Unfortunately, in American politics, candidates are punished for not following through on a campaign promise even if not following through is in the best interest of the American people.
The New York Times reported that for the first time the United States attacked "hundreds of trucks on Monday that the extremist group [ISIS] has been using to smuggle the crude oil it has been producing in Syria." It was reported that 116 trucks were destroyed in an area of eastern Syria controlled by the Islamic State. According to the report, these plans were made prior to the Paris attacks.
Why were these trucks allowed to keep oil flowing to fuel the terrorist missions of ISIS? The United States had announced that airstrikes would be launched against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, but the number of strikes has been between 6 and 8 a day. The U.S. is capable of launching countless airstrikes against ISIS positions daily. Have we been doing the absolute minimum? There is an explanation and the American people and our allies deserve to hear why we have not done the maximum number of airstrikes in an effort to destroy ISIS. The sudden reaction to the Paris attacks raises questions about our resolve before the attacks.
And if President Obama's administration has had a decisive strategy – why has that not been communicated to America and the world?
Friday night's attacks in Paris change the tone of the presidential election, which has, at times, seemed more like a reality TV show than a quest for the most powerful position in the free world. Candidates attempt to control their messages, but candidates do not control the events that can drastically change the focus of a campaign.
Donald Trump's flamboyant style of attacking other candidates suddenly becomes less important than addressing the real threat to Americans on American soil. This is not to say the Trump does not have his appeal when it comes to how he would decisively handle the war against ISIS, but the tone of the campaign has changed. We may see candidates with more experience in dealing with the military and intelligence communities gain attention in the media.
Democratic candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has the most experience dealing with foreign affairs, but when the progression of ISIS, terrorism and threats to the United States occurred under her watch – what is her argument that she will be the best commander-in-chief to deal with terrorism.
More than ever, we all have the right to question if as much was done before the Paris attacks and after the attacks. In the same way we questioned why more wasn't done to recognize the obvious clues that 9/11 was being planned on American soil.
Has American resolve again faded as we continue to live with the benefits and luxuries offered in this great nation?
Christmas decorations are already going up and the first shots in the alleged "War on Christmas" have been fired!
Starbucks features a holiday cup every year during November and December. This year's holiday cups are controversial to some who say they reflect another battle in the "War on Christmas." This year's Starbucks holiday cups are red and missing are the designs from the past that included snowflakes and reindeer.
Andrea Williams of the organization Christian Concern based in the U.K. – says the absence of the designs on the Starbucks cups "is a denial of historical reality and the great Christian heritage behind the American Dream that has so benefitted Starbucks. This also denies the hope of Jesus Christ and His story so powerfully at this time of year."
A prank by former pastor Joshua Feuerstein went viral and fueled the controversy. Feuerstein was upset with the new Starbucks holiday cups and went to Starbucks to order a cup of coffee. Baristas at Starbucks ask for your name to write on the cup and the former pastor said his name was "Merry Christmas" so Starbucks would have to write "Merry Christmas" on the cup.
The prank certainly makes a point, but the condemnation of Starbucks denouncing Christianity seems ridiculous. We should recognize that social media has the ability to make a minor concern on the part of a very few seem like a mass reaction across America.
Once something is posted, millions of people have the ability to voice their support or opposition. Controversy attracts attention and the news media is always looking for ways to attract the attention of the masses. The growing sensitivity of over the fear that Christianity is under attack in America is an easy fear to feed with a story about the new Starbucks holiday cup.
The idea that there is controversy over a Starbucks cup that is only red and does not bear images of things like snowflakes and reindeer makes me ask the obvious question: When did snowflakes and reindeer become religious symbols?
The fact the a the new Starbucks holiday cups have caused any controversy because they do not include pagan references to winter proves that some people are looking for evil where no evil exists.
A tweet from a Starbucks customer explains the controversy: "If your way of 'pranking' Starbucks involves buying a cup of their coffee, I'm pretty sure the joke's on you!"
Too many Americans are quick to become hysterical over controversies that don't really exist.
Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush and John Kasich all had strong performances during the fourth Republican debate last night on the Fox Business Network.
With all of the criticism of the moderators of the last debate on CNBC, the moderators of the FBN debate were as much a focal point as the candidates.
Arguably, the debate was more substantive than previous debates and that was partly due to the manner in which the moderators handled the questions to the candidates, but there were plenty of fireworks between the candidates. The moderators asked questions and, at times, stepped back and gave the candidates opportunities to go after each other.
Fiery exchanges between Trump and Kasich, Paul and Kasich, Cruz and Kasich and Rubio and Paul were among the memorable highlights.
After a debate, the question is asked: "Who won the debate?" Each candidate can claim they won the debate, but the big winner last night was the Republican Party.
There was more talk about significant issues and missing from the debate was the weakness of the Republican Party – taking strong stances on social issues, which a president has little, if any, control over.
Missing from the debate was the campaign rhetoric of gay marriage, abortion, legalizing pot and the social issues that have hurt the collective image of the Republican Party, even with Republican voters under 40. Many Republicans define themselves as fiscal conservatives and social liberals and those are the voters who have felt disenfranchised by the extreme social conservatives that present the image of being the moral police of America.
Overall, the candidates also did a good job of positioning their party against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. At one point Donald Trump said that each candidate on the stage has a different plan for improving the economy and any one of them is better than Hillary Clinton's plan.
The Republican rout of Democrats in last year's mid-term elections was partly the result of focusing on being the anti-Obama party rather than campaigning on divisive social issues. It helped the Party's image then and the absence of the heated debate over social issues helped the Party last night.
Attempts to pander to the evangelical right during the fight for the nomination has had a negative impact on the national image of the Republican Party in the past few presidential elections. The only chance the Republican Party has to win the White House in 2016 is to nominate a candidate who can appear strong, but moderate on social issues.
The issue of illegal immigration is not only a political issue, but borders (pardon use of word) on a social issue. Some conservatives insist that "breaking the law is breaking the law" and every person in America who is technically an "illegal immigrant" must be rounded up and sent back across the border. Trump and Cruz champion this position.
Kasich and Bush present the realistic position that it is not only impossible, but morally wrong, to send law-abiding individuals who are contributing to America back across the border.
Even though follow-up questions were missing or not as aggressive in the previous debates, including the first debate on the Fox News Channel, there was as much information as one would expect from a debate with 8 candidates on the stage.
The focus on social issues in the past has severely damaged the image of the Republican Party and threatened the precious concept of separation of church and state. Substance was more prominent because social issues were absent.
The lesson for the Republican Party and each candidate is that targeting fiscal responsibility and global strength, and not issues that invite government involvement into personal lives, is the recipe for winning the White House in 2016!
When something is predictable, it seems obvious that it is also preventable. Yesterday, the Saints embarrassing loss to the lowly Tennessee Titans at home was both predictable and preventable!
The loss was predictable with the recent Saints because the team was riding a 3-game winning streak and jumped out to a quick lead against an inferior opponent. Initially, the Saints offense sliced through the Titans defense like a warm knife going through a stick of butter.
The Saints offense scored points, but was not without its glowing missteps. Though pressured throughout the game, Drew Brees made mistakes that have not been part of his play in recent games.
The Saints defense was pitiful! The Saints were leading the Titans 14-3 and the Titans faced 3rd down and 6 on their own 39-yard line. Titans QB Marcus Mariota hurled a pass that was going to be intercepted by the Saints, but two players fought to catch the same ball and the ball bounced into the hands of the Titans receiver, who ran it in for a touchdown. The score was suddenly 14 – 10 when the Saints should have taken possession from a turnover.
You can argue that it was just unlucky and the ball bounced the way of the Titans, but over the course of a game, good teams make their own luck.
With the score Saints 21 Titans 10, a series of passes to Titan receivers led to a quick score and it was 21-17. There's not need to go play-by-play through the game, but after jumping out to a strong lead, the 2nd half began with the Saints leading the Titans 21-20.
The Saints defense was terrible and the Saints offensive line consistently broke down. There is plenty of blame to go around. However, after a brief break from incompetence on defense for a 3-game stretch, the Saints defense returned to play that was more fitting for a back lot rather than the NFL. It's difficult to image the rationale that would be used to keep defensive coordinator Rob Ryan on the payroll.
Head Coach Sean Payton earned much of the blame yesterday. If a team has the talent to get ahead, as the Saints did, then the subsequent breakdowns are the result of mental breakdowns and if a team is not mentally strong, it is fair to look first at the leader of the team.
With a few brilliant plays, the Saints were up 28-20, but blown coverage left Titans receivers open and the Titans scored, went for 2 and the score was tied.
In overtime, the Saints defense put on a display of pathetic tackling and the Titans marched down the field and won the game when Mariota hit a wide open receiver for a touchdown pass.
How could the Saints, with essentially the same talent, be so great for 3 games and so pitiful in yesterday's game? The answer is that the team is not mentally tough and ready to play every game.
The post-Super Bowl Saints have never learned to win the battle with complacency. Complacency consistently creeps back into the game plan and that is a matter of leadership.
Those of us who had confidence that the Saints had turned the corner on this season were haunted by the possibility that the Saints would play to the level of their weaker opponent. It's happened too many times to be ignored and it happened again yesterday. Once again, our faith was met with predictable disappointment. In that sense, what is predictable should be preventable. I can't image that this is more obvious to us than it is to the leaders of the team.
People say they hate negative campaigning, but studies show that decisions are made based on negative campaign ads.
When I think about the negative spin among the presidential candidates and the negative advertising here in Louisiana during the season of the gubernatorial runoff between David Vitter and John Bel Edwards, I think about an unspoken benefit of negative campaign ads.
When candidates, nationally and locally, spend time in a campaign ad tearing down their competitor, they don't have time to make campaign promises they do not intend to keep!
It is best when political candidates talk about the real issues of a campaign and what they will do to deal with those issues if elected, but if they didn't spend time bashing each other, then they would have time to tell us all the things they will do for us if elected. But we know that promises are much easier to make then keep.
I'm using sarcasm to make a point. Whether it's a negative campaign ad or a campaign ad filled with promises, we have learned that it's easy for politicians to appeal to voters by saying what they think the voters want to hear, rather than be truthful about what they can realistically do if elected.
The mid-term elections in 2014 are the most recent reminder of the political "BS" that dominates campaigns. In 2014, Republicans routed Democrats across the country and took control of both Houses of Congress. The theme of the Republican campaigns was to link the Democrats to the policies of President Obama, who had a low approval rating.
It worked! But since the election, when so much change was promised, little has actually changed. For example, the promises by Republican candidates to repeal Obamacare if elected were broken. Candidates knew that repealing Obamacare was not a goal that could be immediately realized, but that was not the impression voters got during the campaign.
Some experts believe that the reason Ben Carson and Donald Trump are leading in the polls over other Republican candidates with real political experience is because many Republican voters were disgusted with the lack of following through on promises made by their candidates.
Failing to fulfill campaign promises is nothing new to politics, but it seems to have reached a tipping point where voters are more keenly aware of just how shallow campaign promises are and while Carson and Trump are saying things that will be difficult, if not impossible, to manifest once in office, the public is responding to the fact that the promises are coming from people who have yet to prove they will break campaign promises.
What voters are now learning is that getting elected is the goal – not doing what's right for the country or the state. There is more accountability of candidates in local elections than in national elections, but the goal of a politician is to get elected and re-elected and most will say whatever it takes to get in office. When promises are not met, it's always the fault of others, but each candidate knows that it takes others to make change reality when they make the promises.
If there is anything to celebrate about the negative campaign ads, it's that the candidates are not spending time making promises they know they can't keep.