A customer ordered a cake featuring a Confederate flag and the bakery at Walmart refused to make the cake. But the same customer ordered a cake with the ISIS battle flag on it and the Walmart bakery made that cake.
During the height of the current controversy over the Confederate flag, this is just the kind of incident that fuels the argument that America's politically correct mentality will allow a cake with the ISIS battle flag to be made, but not one bearing the likeness of the Confederate battle flag.
Louisiana resident Chuck Netzhammer was frustrated when the Walmart in Slidell, LA refused to make a cake with the Confederate flag, but had no objection to making a cake with the ISIS flag. "Walmart, can you please explain why you're alienating Southern Americans with this trash that you're allowing being sold at your store while at the same point, Confederate memorabilia is not allowed," Netzhammer says.
Watch the video here:
Walmart joined other major retailers in banning the sale of all Confederate flags and Confederate flag merchandise. Many people in the South have expressed their disgust over the new condemnation of the Confederate flag, claiming that is it nothing more than an attempt to rewrite history.
The newest controversy over the flag erupted immediately following the killing of nine black worshippers as they sat in a black church during a prayer meeting by an alleged young, white male shooter. Pictures of the white shooter with the Confederate flag seemed to confirm that the shooting was racially motivated.
Protests condemning the Confederate flag as a symbol of hate have spread across America. Those protests have inspired counter protests supporting the displaying of the flag and the KKK has scheduled a rally in South Carolina July 18.
The question of why Walmart would make a cake with an ISIS flag and not a Confederate flag is legitimate. I have argued on The Scoot Show on WWL that businesses should serve the public without discriminating against customers. I believe a bakery should be obligated to make a cake for a gay couple if they are in the business of making wedding cakes. I will also argue that Walmart should have made the cake with the Confederate flag for the customer.
Walmart has apologized for making the cake with the ISIS flag and said in a statement that "It's unfortunate one customer thought to take advantage of an associate who did not know the [ISIS] flag and its meaning." That is a legitimate point. The ISIS flag may be easily recognizable in the context of a news story about the terrorist group, but not necessarily in an setting void of anything ISIS-related.
Businesses in America should not discriminate against customers, and that means Walmart should have made the cake with the Confederate flag. Baking such a cake is completely different from displaying the flag on state or federal government property.
The two major controversies last week - the Supreme Court ruling that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and the question of whether the Confederate flag should be displayed spread over the weekend and into this new week.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" and continued his condemnation of the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, along with his support of the religious liberty bills that have been debated in Louisiana and other states.
"You now have a court that's not reading the Constitution, not reading the dictionary," Jindal told host Chuck Todd. Jindal went on to say, "Why couldn't the court have said we're going to respect the decisions made by the states? Why not say we're going to defer to the elected representatives of the people?" Would Jindal maintain that same attitude if the voters of a liberal state voted to ban guns? Or, would he then promote the power of court rulings and the Second Amendment? Opening the door to majority vote on issues that involve individual freedom is a slippery slope.
Jindal did say that Louisiana would ultimately abide by the Supreme Court's ruling. The delay in joining every other state in granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples is an act of arrogance over intelligence.
Governor Jindal also argued that Christian Americans should be allowed to use their religious beliefs in refusing to do business with gays. The Governor said that he is not talking about a restaurant serving gays, but bakeries or photographers who are asked by gay couples to participate in a gay wedding. I do not agree that conducting business fairly amounts to participation.
My comment to Governor Jindal would have been, "Then you would support a restaurant refusing to serve a gay couple or group of gays celebrating a bachelor or bachelorette party? What about a gay or group of gay customers that are obviously celebrating their anniversary or a birthday? Could they be refused service?"
I think the rule is simple – if you choose to do business in America, then you abide by the rules of our society, one of which is anti-discrimination laws.
The Republican candidates that are condemning same-sex marriage in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling will either allow other Republican candidates to rise up as the sensible alternatives to Hillary Clinton or another Democrat, or will usher in another Democratic president in 2016.
Polls reflecting the sentiment in America regarding same-sex marriage do not support the vile objections of many Republicans. Polls show that Republican voters under 50 have shown so much new support in gay marriage that pandering to those who demand continued opposition will spell defeat in a general election.
"Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd mentioned that President Harry Truman opposed interracial marriage saying that "racial intermarriage ran counter to teachings of the Bible." Do those who accept interracial marriage but oppose same-sex marriage based on the Bible see any parallels between the two controversies? Of course, not everyone agrees with either, but the overall view of interracial marriage changed in American – will the nation's view of same-sex marriage change, too?
The intense controversy over same-sex marriage begs the question – who made you the judge of others? The continued defiance to accept same-sex marriage as constitutional amounts to a need to tell others how to lead their lives and it supports the government forcing specific moral beliefs on individuals.
The controversies over same-sex marriage and the Confederate flag should remind us that there will always be decisions made by government and voters with which we disagree. The side that opposes the ruling on legalizing same-sex marriage is refusing to accept the decision, but had the decision been to uphold banning gay marriage, that group would be applauding the same government institution telling the other side that this was the decision of the Supreme Court and this is America so "live with it."
Those who vehemently oppose the demands to remove Confederate flags have told those who were offended by the flag to move on and "live with it."
As a nation, we could do a better job of accepting the things we disagree with as long as we are not forced to participate in the things with which we disagree.
Rulings and decisions do not always change opinions, so if your opinion on a controversial issue remains unchanged, why not accept the advice you might be quick to give others? This is America – if the Confederate flag no longer flies on government property or if same-sex marriage is legal – this is America – "live with it!"
Gay marriage is legal in America! The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that it is unconstitutional for any state to ban same-sex marriage. This is a landmark decision for the LGBT community and for the growing number of straight Americans that believe in equality. But this Supreme Court ruling will not stop the heated debate over same-sex marriage or the dire predictions that this will lead to the complete demise of America.
In 2003, I wrote that same-sex marriage would be legal in the United States by 2010. I missed it by five years. Looking back on key decisions by the Supreme Court, this decision should not be surprising.
The Supreme Court's rulings on legalizing birth control pills, abortion and the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas, which declared any state's ban on sodomy was unconstitutional, set a precedent for the High Court's respect for right to privacy.
Following the 2003 decision legalizing sodomy, many feared that would prove to be a 'gateway' ruling that would open the path for legal same-sex marriage and that ruling was an indication of how the Constitution would be interpreted in the case of gay marriage.
This is Scoot On The Air. A lot of people called and texted today predicting the end of America. After just a few hours of nationwide #MarriageEquality, let's see what's changed!
Legalizing same-sex marriage will not change the beliefs of those who quote the Bible to condemn homosexuality, but it does prevent states from denying the freedom to marry in America to homosexuals.
I never understood the hysteria over homosexuality and gay marriage. Recognizing the right to marry is not going to lead to an increase in homosexuals in America and it is not going to be responsible for kids deciding to become gay. It is simply granting a right protected by the Constitution to every American.
The hysteria over legalizing interracial marriage, birth control pills and sodomy did not prove to be a legitimate concern and the "America is doomed" mentality will also prove to be without merit.
One moment following the Supreme Court's decision this morning legalizing same-sex marriage in America captures the real meaning of this civil rights battle. In an unprecedented manner, citizens were allowed to venture up the steps to the pillars of the Supreme Court. The crowd there was jubilant over the decision began to sing. They didn't sing "We Are Family" or "I Will Survive," songs that have long been unofficial anthems in the LGBT community. They sang a sincere version of the "Star Spangled Banner" – America's national anthem.
That moment explained to America that this was a fight about equality for all Americans. During the debate over the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the military, openly gay Congressman Barney Frank once commented that gays just want to join the military and get married. Joining the military and being in a committed marriage are fundamental to conservative values.
I have recently been writing and talking about how our country is changing. The Confederate flag controversy and the legalizing of gay marriage are two milestones that now mark the road to a changing America and there will be more indications still to come.
The number of prominent Republicans who suddenly supported taking down the Confederate flag was a response to the perceived changes, even among many Republicans. Any presidential candidate that continues the fear tactics that same-sex marriage is our downfall will surely not win the White House. It will be interesting if some of the candidates use fear to rally voters. Nationwide polls indicate a new direction for America – even among Republican voters under 50.
In the future, I will be here to witness the silence from those who have made extreme predictions about how gay marriage will destroy America. And there will be silence because those who swear by their negative predictions never seem to be around to admit they were wrong.
As a straight male, legalizing gay marriage does not impact my life directly, but it does give me comfort to know that I live in a country where everyone is treated equally!
The sad truth about the reaction to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) from both sides is that the idea of America finally joining the world of industrialized nations that offer health care to its citizens has become secondary to the role it's playing in the high-stakes game of politics.
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court has again declared that Obamacare is constitutional and the law of the land. And for the second time in four Supreme Court terms, Chief Justice John Roberts has broken with the conservatives and supported the controversial legislation. In his majority opinion, Justice Roberts wrote, "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them."
The case that was before the Supreme Court, King v. Burwell, focused on whether the federal government had the power to provide subsidies to help low-income Americans pay for health insurance. The High Court ruled that the law passed by Congress made that clear.
As Americans, we should all be disgusted with the political rhetoric that surrounds Obamacare. The President and Democrats applaud the law proclaiming that it has led to millions of Americans gaining health coverage for the first time without regard for those who have been put at a financial disadvantage. Republicans condemn the law claiming that no one benefits and generally oppose the individual mandate, which forces citizens to buy health insurance.
In 1993, some prominent Republicans supported an alternative to a universal coverage bill that included and individual mandate. Then in 1994, a Republican proposal titled the Consumer Choice Health Security Act also included an individual mandate. That provision was removed from the bill, but Republicans did not question the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the mid-90s.
I realize that times change and so do politicians, but among politicians there seems to be a glaring reluctance to admit that opinions have changed. Maybe that's because political opinions often change to fit the political mood, rather than reflect what is best for Americans.
President Obama and Democrats are celebrating the Supreme Court victory, but there is always the possibility, though remote, that the next president and Congress could work together to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
In the political game we are watching, Obama and Democratic leaders boast about how great Obamacare is for America. Republican leaders condemn it as if there are no benefits for any Americans.
The predictions that Obamacare would not lead to a significant decrease in the number of uninsured Americans were wrong. In fact, the number of Americans now under the law surpassed even the expectations of the Obama Administration.
Depending on whom you talk to, Obamacare is either great for America or a complete disaster. The truth is there are some negative aspects of the law, but there are also some positive benefits for Americans. I wonder how many conservatives who condemn everything about Obamacare, have children or friends who are benefitting. I wonder if there are any conservatives willing to say that their daughters, sisters and mothers should be penalized in obtaining health care coverage just because of their gender?
There are also liberals who will not face the fact that the law has increased costs for many Americans and has put their heath care routine in turmoil.
We depend on our political leaders to do what is in our best interest, but instead, they are more likely to use any opportunity to exploit an important issue for the sole purpose of enhancing the image of their party. That is not what we elected them to do.
What should be happening right now is not happening. Republicans and Democrats should be admitting that there are good things and bad things about Obamacare and they are willing to work with each other, in the interest of the American people, to find the best way to make it all work. Instead, we are witnessing political stonewalling. One party loves it and the other party wants the whole thing thrown out, which is not likely after the Supreme Court ruling.
Long before Obamacare, healthcare costs were skyrocketing on a regular basis with no end in sight. The idea that healthcare costs have risen because of Obamacare comes those who consider the truth to be inconvenient to their argument.
The theory of Obamacare is similar to the theory that if everyone has car insurance then the overall cost to society is lowered. If everyone has health care coverage, in theory, the cost burden to society should decrease.
For many Americans, that's just a theory at this point, but millions of other Americans have heath care coverage for the first time or have seen their monthly premiums lowered.
Not one of us can be certain about the long-range impact of the Affordable Care Act on this country, and the tense debate is fueled by membership in one party or the other.
Maybe not by admission, but Republicans are feeling a sense of relief because the Supreme Court's decision means they are not pressured to come up with an alternative right now.
Republicans also love the idea that this gives them an issue for rallying their base and they will try to convince voters that they can and will repeal Obamacare – even though any campaign rhetoric promising to repeal it is at best – an extreme long shot.
The fallout from the battle against the Confederate flag continues to spread.
The state of Alabama has a history of leaders that defiantly supported segregation and it may have been a surprise to hear that Republican Alabama Governor Robert Bentley ordered all Confederate flags removed from the state Capitol grounds. Governor Bentley did not have meetings about the decision – he reacted to the controversy by simply ordering the flags taken down.
The parade of Republican politicians that has joined in the condemning the Confederate flag has been surprising. In yesterday's blog and on " The Scoot Show" last night on WWL, we talked about an obvious change of attitudes in appealing to Republican voters. The opinions of politicians are generally formed by their interpretation of voter sentiment, and not the result of what's best for their state or country.
A surprising ally in the crusade to bring down the Confederate flag is the governing body of NASCAR, which announced they will "continue our long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity."
NASCAR is not banning the Confederate flag and acknowledges the First Amendment rights of fans to wear or bear the flag at events. The impression that NASCAR and the Confederate flag are partners is false. In 2012, NASCAR canceled plans to have golfer Bubba Watson drive "General Lee," the car from the TV series "The Dukes of Hazzard," around a racetrack because the car bears a Confederate flag on its roof.
NASCAR has a "Drive For Diversity" program that assists in minorities becoming drivers and mechanics. NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said, "The image of the Confederate flag is not something that should play an official role in our sport as we continue to reach out to new fans and make NASCAR more inclusive."
The voice of Americans condemning the Confederate flag has been loud and clear and politicians, even Republican politicians, have heard that voice and responded. But the mass denouncing of the Confederate flag could be met with a spike in the sales of Confederate flags and Confederate flag merchandise.
Any increase in the sale of flags and merchandise should not be interpreted as a sign that the debate is creating more racists in America. Not everyone who flies, displays or supports the Confederate flag is a racist and the idea of banning anything often leads to some hysteria that spurs new interest in a newly banned item. When there is a tragic shooting and the issue of gun control is sparked, gun manufacturers benefit from a sudden increase in the sale of firearms. One has to wonder if any of the hysteria about a government initiative to take away our guns is fueled by the gun manufacturing industry.
The current controversy over the Confederate flag will probably lead to an increase in the sale of flags and merchandise, but that will be the result of making the Confederate flag a novelty. However, it would be naïve to ignore the probability that many will now want to buy and display the Confederate flag to prove they have a right to that expression.
Future NASCAR events, country music concerts and any other events that attract fans that share common views on the Confederate flag could have more Confederate flags displayed than before the controversy.
Let's remember that any increase in the number of Confederate flags we see is more about a show of support for the flag by those who feel the need to make a statement and less about an increase in racism in America.
The debate over the perceived meaning of the Confederate flag is not a new debate, but following the racially motivated shooting at a black church in Charleston, SC, there is suddenly a new sense of urgency in debating the meaning of the flag.
Most interesting about this current debate over the Confederate flag is the number of Republicans who have changed their opinions and joined the chorus of voices calling for displays of the flag to cease.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Hayley reversed her position and called for the flag to be removed from the state capitol. The South Carolina legislature has taken the first step toward a full vote on whether the flag should be removed.
Republican presidential candidate Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina also changed his opinion that the Confederate flag is a legitimate representation of the South and is now saying the flag is no longer relevant.
Presumed Republican presidential candidate Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says the flag should come down.
Republican Senator John McCain and former Republican Governor Mitt Romney are echoing the sentiment that government display of the Confederate flag is no longer appropriate and is, in fact, racist.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) is now asking that the Confederate flag be removed from state-sponsored license plates and Mississippi's House Speaker is leading a movement to change the state's flag.
But one of the more interesting cases of a changing opinion about displaying the Confederate flag comes from conservative radio talk show host Jack Hunter in Charleston, who calls himself the "Southern Avenger." A photo defining Hunter's position on being white in the South shows the host wearing a Confederate flag version of a Mexican wrestling mask.
Hunter has long argued that the Confederate flag stands for self-determination, state's rights and represents an honored heritage. He refused to accept that the flag was about race.
The conservative radio host now says, "I was wrong. That flag is always about race. Whatever political or historical points the flag's defenders make, there will never be a time – and never has been a time – in which millions of Americans have looked at that symbol and not seen hatred."
Why this rapid reversal of opinions on the Confederate flag?
America is changing and this is but one sign of a collective shift in the voice of Americans. Many will refuse to accept change as a reality, but the evidence is quite obvious.
On Wednesday, June 16, 2015, I wrote a blog for WWL.com about the recent trend of large and small American companies proactively raising the minimum wage and benefits for employees. Walmart and McDonald's are among the companies increasing wages. Chipotle Mexican Grill recently announced that part-time employees will be offered vacation, sick pay and tuition reimbursement.
The trend of improving wages and benefits for employees is a direct response to the growing sense that the pay disparity between the highest-paid and the lowest-paid employees is unfair. As a result, companies have determined that raising wages and benefits will enhance their company's image to the American people, which will hopefully lead to an increase in business.
Fast-food restaurants and the producers of food are also responding to a discontented public that is using their consumer power to demand healthier food choices. The companies making the changes are hoping to improve their image to the public.
Politicians and businesses are changing their views in response to the growing collective moderate voice of America, which condemns the Confederate flag as racist and part of our past – not the present or our future.
I have long talked and written about the need for the moderate voice of Americans to become louder and more active in an effort to balance the extremes on the right and the left. Extreme views attract a disproportionate amount of media attention, but do not reflect America.
Many Americans seem to lean right or left, but outnumbering the far right and the far left is a more moderate ideological voice. To counter the image that "moderates" are people who have no opinion or can't make up their minds about issues, I refer to myself as a "radical moderate!" Moderates can be translated into logical, reasonable and common sense Americans.
Politicians and businesses react to the prevailing sentiments of America. We have seen politicians change their views on same-sex marriage as opinion polls continue to show more Americans supporting legal gay marriage.
As Americans, we are not helpless pawns in the game of politics and business - we should take notice of the fact that our voice is powerful and can manifest change.
The collective impact of many of the changing issues in America, today are the direct result of Americans taking their country back!
Remember – your voice does matter – but only if you use it!
When you see a Confederate flag flying or hanging in the window of a pick up truck, what comes to mind: Southern pride or racism?
Controversy over what the Confederate flag stands for is, again, being debated in America. This on-going debate has been resurrected because the Confederate Battle Flag flies near the state capitol building in Columbia, South Carolina, the state where a young white male entered a black church and opened fire killing 9 black worshippers during a Bible study meeting. His admitted goal was to start a race war.
The demand to take down the Confederate flag represents a diverse group from NAACP leaders to former Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney. Suddenly, the controversy over the Confederate flag has become a campaign issue with some candidates expressing their opinions and others side-stepping the issue.
The fact that the Confederate flag so quickly inspires a heated debate about racism demonstrates that racism remains a dominant and unsettled issue across America, and especially in the South. The ease with which tempers flare over the Confederate flag controversy reflects the civil war over ideology that was not settled when the war ended in 1865.
Human communication is a two-part process. There is the intent of the communication and there is the reception of the communication. Ideally, both are congruent, but often intent and reception are polar opposites.
When we talk about the Confederate flag, many people try to confuse the discussion by arguing that there are several different Confederate flags. The "Stars and Bars," first adopted in 1861 and flown over the temporary capitol of the Confederacy, Montgomery, Alabama, closely resembled the U.S. flag. The "Stars and Bars" was so similar to the U.S. flag that many Southerners felt it represented the ideology they were fighting against. In addition, the two flags were so similar that the "Stars and Bars" failed to establish enough distinction between the North and the South in the field of battle.
The more familiar Confederate flag with the red background and the blue X with white stars across the it is the Confederate Battle Flag that was adopted by the Army of Northern Virginia.
The argument over which Confederate flag is the focus of debate is secondary to the meaning behind every variation of the Confederate flag. Specifics are not important in a controversy that centers on meaning.
Since this new debate over whether any Confederate flag should be flown, especially on government property, erupted out of the recent mass murder of blacks in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, I think it's important to understand that the Confederate flag is not to blame for the murderous actions of 21-year-old Dylann Roof.
The passionate rhetoric that "this flag must come down" places blame for the racist mentality of Roof on the presence of the flag itself. It may serve to draw attention to the leaders using the tragedy to advance their agendas, but it is not logical to believe that the Confederate flag is to blame for the tragedy. Blaming the flag is also an attempt to find an easy, tangible solution to a problem that is rooted deeper in America than a flag flying from a flagpole.
We don't know what dwells in the hearts and minds of each person who chooses to display or support displaying the Confederate flag and if it is respect for heritage and Southern roots, can it be argued that displaying the flag is no difference than pride in African heritage?
The meaning of the flag to those who support it must be accompanied by true knowledge of Southern heritage and American history. And support for the Confederate flag should also be understood as possible support for a segregated America that endorsed the use of some human beings as slaves.
Whether the Confederate flag means heritage or hate, it is imperative that we understand that a 'flag' should never to be blamed for evil. Flags are symbols usually made of cloth and a piece of cloth should never be given the power to explain evil acts. Those with evil intent showcase and define their cause through the use of flags, but the presence of a flag is not the cause of evil.
To suggest that the Confederate flag flying at or near a state government building inspires hate is to say that the sight of an ISIS flag in America would inspire people to join ISIS. Like any medium, a flag reflects those who rally around it and is not responsible for the actions of the group that selects it.
The sad part about defending the display of the Confederate flag in 2015 is that it defines the territorialism of many Americans. It can't be as simple as taking down the flag because many see it as representing hate. The argument seems to center on "this is what it means to me and the hell with the fact that you are offended."
I can argue that the Confederate flag should not fly because it should no longer represents the America we live in today and that supporting the flag must mean support for an American controlled by the white population.
I can also argue that if the Confederate flag disappeared, that white supremacy would not disappear.
The truth is we are all exposed to things that are meaningful to some, but offensive to others and that is the reality of a free America.
Let's not allow the controversy over the Confederate flag to distract from the real issue of racism and white supremacy, which for many the flag represents.
If you display or support displaying of the Confederate flag in America in 2015, only you know whether it reflects respect for your Southern heritage or your support of white supremacy.
And if you do display the flag, you have a responsibility to know about the history behind the flag and the motive of the South in 1861. The questions is – do you?
It can be argued that any violence act that results in feelings of 'terror' is an act of terrorism, but in today's world, 'terrorism' is defined as an act that is motivated by a religious or political agenda. Defining the Charleston church massacre as an "act of terrorism" challenges the true meaning of 'terrorism.'
The suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, has said that he wanted to start a race war by shooting blacks in a prayer meeting in a historic black church. Does that make it an act of terrorism? The answer is not so definitive.
The other challenge for many is defining the actions of a racist, white male as an act of terrorism. If the mass shooting in Charleston had been committed by a Muslim or a radicalized sympathizer of ISIS, there would be no question that it was an act of terrorism. But the fact that it is a young white male makes it difficult for everyone to agree that the shooting was an act of terrorism.
How the tragic act is defined does not change the outcome, but the debate over whether this was an act of terrorism illustrates the prejudice of many Americans.
Police departments across the country have admitted that the greatest threat faced are not from Islamic terrorists, but from white supremacy groups and sympathetic individuals. There have been early indications that Dylann Roof's act of violence was motivated by racist views and it is being investigated as a hate crime even if it is not defined as a terrorist act.
The vigilant attempts to define the church massacre demonstrate that political views seem to be drawn into every action today reflecting the great political divide in America. And different sides will try to define the tragedy in terms that best support their agenda.
Those who believe in gun rights to the point of thinking that the only way to stop violence is for everyone to be armed and there was an instant suggestion after the mass shooting that now "all pastors need to be armed." When there has been a shooting at a school some say "all teachers need to be armed," shooting at a movie theater and "all movie-goers need to be armed." Do you notice a pattern?
There have always been very evil people in the world and specifically defining what motivated an individual to shoot and kill 9 innocent people sitting in a church is not going to change the tragedy and probably not prevent future tragedies that result from the failure of some humans.
The individual who is capable of committed a horrific act of violence is an individual that will seek a reason to justify the actions. Did racism lead Dylann Roof to allegedly commit that mass shooting? Or, did he find extreme racist views as a way of justifying his actions?
Hollywood South is booming! Major movies and TV shows with huge production budgets are being filmed in New Orleans and around Louisiana. It is the generous film tax credits offered by the state that have turned New Orleans into the new Hollywood!
Some esearch has determined that the tax credits offered to bring movie and TV production to New Orleans and the state is actually costing the state money. The research shows that the state of Louisiana has not been receiving as much in revenue as it is giving out in tax credits. But it is possible that strict research study on the film industry in the state was actually a witch-hunt that was looking for ways to condemn the big tax credits. This research may be shortsighted in that it fails to account for the full impact of the film industry on the state.
Considering the thousands of permanent and part-time jobs that have been created and the money earned directly by local families and new residents who have become part of the community because of Hollywood South, it is nearly impossible to believe that the ripple economic impact on the city's and the state's economy is not significantly added to the state's coffers.
I suspect there are state legislators in Baton Rouge that do not have a positive image of New Orleans and since the city is a huge benefactor in the success of film tax credits, that there could be an effort to look for ways to be critical of the industry's dominance in the city and the state.
Considering the number of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, food and beverage workers, artists, painters and countless other professionals are constantly called in to work on sets and productions, the benefit to the state must be greater than the specific research indicates. Then consider all of those who work in the film industry here who spend their money at local businesses where film shootings are taking place and in businesses in their own neighborhoods.
A significant population is buying groceries, cars, paying rent and mortgages, sending their kids to schools and essentially spreading their money throughout the communities in which they work and live and all in the state of Louisiana. How can that not be financially beneficial to our state?
New Orleans Representative Walt Leger is hoping Governor Jindal will veto the film tax credit cap legislation. A veto would be the only sensible thing to do.
Other states have learned from Louisiana and are now offering big tax incentives to bring production to their states. At a time when the competition for attracting the film industry to a state is spreading, this is NOT the time to send a message to the entire industry that our state is going to put limits on the tax credits offered.
The state is broke and is dealing with a massive budget deficit, but the idea of punishing an industry that has been an incredible success in an effort to right a perceived wrong is the definition of shortsightedness and that has been a tradition in Louisiana politics – but maybe it's time to stop it!
Governor Jindal should veto the film tax credit cap legislation.
If we could figure out a way for a veto to enhance his presidential aspirations, then a veto is almost certain!
A few recent trends in America seem to indicate that our voice – the voice of the American people – is more powerful than we think and definitely more powerful than businesses and politicians think.
Walmart, McDonald's and many companies, large and small, have voluntarily raised the minimum wage for all employees. Chipotle Mexican Grill recently announced that part-time employees will be offered vacation, sick pay and tuition reimbursement. Numerous large and small companies across America are raising wages and increasing benefits for employees and this is occurring without pressure from the government. So why are these changes taking place?
Companies are voluntarily improving wages and benefits for the lowest ranking employees to enhance their image to the general public. Some of the large corporations understand that there will be an initial drop in profits, but they are telling their stockholders that over time the changes will ultimately yield greater profits. This is a business philosophy that has more been part of Japanese business culture than American business culture and it is an incredible change.
If businesses are raising wages and offering benefits to the lowest ranking employees to improve their image for the purpose of increasing profits, one has to wonder why this trend began.
The national-wide protests of employees on the streets of American cities demanding increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour served to raise awareness across the country that the corporate world was unfairly taking advantage of minimum wage employees. This was all happening at a time when public criticism of the gap between the salaries of CEOs and those of employees has continued to spiral out of control.
While most Americans respect the principles that drive a free enterprise system and they support the philosophy that every American has the right to earn as much as he or she can, the great disparity between the top wage earners and the lowest wage earners has been noticed by the American people and viewed as unfair.
The idea of a government mandate to control the salaries of CEOs and top management is opposed by many Americans and is contrary to the workings of our free market society. However, the gap between the rich and the poor, in the workplace and across America, has become a social and political issue without a clear solution.
The trend of increasing wages and benefits for the lowest ranking workers for the purpose of improving a company's image to the public is a direct response to the collective voice of the American people.
As a talk show host, I consistently hear people blaming the government, the politicians, the media or countless other entities for the way they, as a group, are treated, when the collective voice of the American people is a force so powerful that it can force change.
The public voice that opposed the Vietnam War in the 60s and into the 70s became so loud and persistent that the Nixon administration had no choice but to end the war, even if it was not on our terms.
The American people complain about the things they don't like as if they have no control over the outcomes. We are reminded that our collective voice is stronger than we think and certainly stronger than the political a business world want to admit.
So let's use our voice! We will not all agree on what that voice should say, but we need to realize that our voice does lead to change. Rather than feel like helpless pawns in the game of business and politics, the collection of individuals in America have a voice that is louder than the 1%. We have been bullied by corporations and politicians that have gotten rich and powerful from telling us the way things should be.
If we have been manipulated by business, politicians and the media, and we need to recognize that we allowed that to happen.
If you don't like what business leaders or political leaders are doing – remember that you are not alone and there are millions of others who share your views. It is that united voice that is powerful enough to force change.
We tend to blame the "system" for problems and feel helpless. We need to accept responsibility for the fact that we – the American people – have a powerful voice that over time can make a difference!
Do you live among your peers? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines peer as "one that is of equal standing with another." The obvious question is: What determines standing? Is it race, religion, culture, age, money or something else?
America has been through many struggles in an attempt to create a society where equality rules supreme, but should the federal government have a new regulation that would require more affordable housing in rich neighborhoods?
Republican Congressman Paul Gosar – AZ is among those on Capitol Hill trying to stop a new rule from the Department of Housing and Urban Development allowing the federal government to leverage grant money to bring more affordable housing into upscale, rich neighborhoods.
HUD officials and supporters of the new rule say it would only clarify the current rules under The Fair Housing Act of 1968, so some politicians may be attempting to create hysteria by defining the new rule as a liberal government attempt to create equality.
But this does raise the question about where we choose to live and whether that expresses exclusion. The new rule also touches on the issue of gentrification. Even if you support aggressive ways to establish equality, should the federal government be involved in forcing lower cost housing in rich neighborhoods? Would that change the rich neighborhood for the better?
I am not exactly sure how a plan to bring affordable housing to upscale neighborhoods would be implemented, but the idea seems like forced diversity through an extremely liberal perspective. Diversity is the premise of America, but a government plan that would dramatically alter the population of a neighborhood would rob citizens of their right to select a neighborhood congruent with their standing in society.
Integrating public schools was a form of forced diversity, but should that apply to where we live? Some people seek a diverse neighborhood or building in which to live because that fits their personality and their view of society, but others choose to live in a place that has some criteria for living there. If people who have reached a certain income level choose a particular neighborhood or building, is it fair to force more affordable housing for those that do not meet the income standard?
I live in a very diverse building in downtown New Orleans and I come in contact with individuals, couples and families that on most levels would not be considered my peers. I am not saying that to suggest that I am better than anyone else, but it's fair to admit that we share more in common with some than with others.
When I use the word "diverse," I am not only referring to diversity based on race, but diversity based on personal and professional interests and age. The benefit of living in a diverse environment for me is that I am exposed to a wide variety of people with varied backgrounds and from various cultures and that exposure better prepares me to relate to a diverse radio audience.
There are people who live in my building do live that appear to be my peers, but that may be more the exception than the rule. The diversity that surrounds me in my building and in the part of the city in which I live, fits my diverse personality, but I don't think every building or every neighborhood should be required to offer such diversity.
The idea of forcing affordable housing in upscale neighborhoods and buildings seems to defy the spirit of a free market democratic society and borders on the concept of communism.
Perhaps the real question is on what basis is diversity determined? There are professional athletes playing for the Saints and the Pelicans that live in neighborhoods and buildings where the only thing shared with others is having a lot of money. In many cases, money may be the only common thread, but it is a common thread that defines the neighborhood or building.
The idea of forced government diversity in neighborhoods and buildings also leads us to think about the superficial nature of feeling a common bond only through having a big house and fancy cars. The challenge is for us all to be open to peers beyond materialist things.
Aristotle said, "Birds of a feather flock together." It may be in our nature to seek the company of those with whom we share something in common, be it culture, age, education or money and that certainly applies to where we live, whether a neighborhood, an apartment or condo building.
If the new HUD rule is designed to change the standards for living in certain places, then it is not a good rule. But using income level as a common bond is not good either.
Freedom to live among our peers should be a basic right driven by the natural process of people gathering in one location because of a common bond – even if the bond is as superficial as material things.
Throughout history black Americans would have benefited by lying about being black and claiming to be white. Ironically, the president of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington apparently lied about being white and claimed she is black.
Rachel Dolezal has played the part of being a black female and in spite of her white heritage she filled out an NAACP board application as a white/black/Native American. Her choice of hair style and hair color and her golden complexion were enough to convince everyone around her that she was black. It was reported that Dolezal went to new extremes to select and wear clothing that further enhanced her perceived ethnicity. There seemed to be no questions about her race until Rachel Dolezal's parents "outed" her as white and a picture of her a few years ago as a fair-skinned blonde draws a striking contrast to the more recent pictures of her disguise.
Both good and bad can be found in the deceit of Rachel Dolezal. By doing excellent work for the NAACP to fight discrimination and the represent and advance a position of equality for all African-Americans, Rachel demonstrated that it is not a person's skin color, but the content of their character that matters most in life.
However, lying about her race was a bad thing. Rachel Dolezal lied about being black to benefit her in the world in which she worked and lived. She says she does not expect other to understand how she related more to being black than being white. Her deception could be an insult to those black men and women who have dealt with discrimination first-hand and maybe thought about the times when it would have been convenient to change their race to circumvent racism.
It is often difficult to live by the inner most instincts that define each of us, but we should always respect those who are willing to live as the person they feel they are inside, regardless of criticism and challenges.
Bruce Jenner just set an example of living as the person you know yourself to be in the face of certain condemnation. And is there any difference between Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal altering her appearance to be accepted as the person she feels she is – a black female?
The only difference lies in the lies. If Bruce Jenner's motivation was to be accepted as a woman to be more accepted in the world of sports, then he would be lying and changing the image of who he is for a materialistic gain. If, as many have suggested, Jenner's gender conversion is merely a publicity stunt, then he would be guilty of changing for a materialistic gain.
The story of Rachel Dolezal also raises the interesting idea that some white Americans relate more to "being black" than "being white," conversely, some black Americans may relate more to "being white" than "being black."
Though Rachel Dolezal deceived the NAACP and her friends, the revelation that she is white and not black causes us to pause and realize that who we are is really defined by a much deeper factor than our skin color.
What do you remember about the 1970s? The series "The Seventies" begins tonight on CNN. Watching promos for the show, I have been reminded about the political turbulence and the pop culture explosion of the 70s – from the Vietnam War protests to the disco craze!
The political and pop cultural events of each decade provide a true snapshot of American society.
The late-60s were dominated by political tension between the Establishment and the outspoken young generation that is now today's Establishment. Contempt for the political establishment carried over into the 70s. Protests against the Vietnam War had grown violent and in May of 1970, National Guards troops were called out to control an anti-war protest on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio. Four college students were shot and killed. That was 45 years ago and that moment sparked even more tension between a young generation and the Establishment.
Distrust of the political establishment was confirmed when members of the Nixon Administration broke into the Democratic National Headquarters to steal information during the presidential campaign between Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat Hubert Humphrey. The headquarters were in the Watergate building and the scandal became knows as "Watergate." That led to the resignation of a sitting president.
The Watergate scandal gave birth to the addition of "gate" to all highly publicized scandals, like "Bountygate" and "Deflategate." It all started in the 70s with Watergate.
After President Nixon resigned, Vice President Gerald Ford became president and lost in his only attempt to win the presidency. Ford was beaten by Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer from Georgia. I always believed that America elected plainspoken Jimmy Carter because of the impression that Watergate had signaled a high point for a government that had become too arrogant and too powerful.
Carter was a one-term president and was easily defeated by Ronald Reagan in 1980 and many believe that Carter's inability to win the release of 52 American hostages held by members of Iran's Islamic Revolution in Tehran was a factor. The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 was the ultimate statement that the 70s were over!
The Women's Liberation Movement gained momentum in the 70s and a tennis match billed as the "Battle of the Sexes" reflected the new competition between the sexes. Tennis pro Bobby Riggs, who was an aging tennis player challenged Billie Jean King by saying that no woman could beat a man in tennis. Billie Jean King won in straight sets and the $100,000 prize, but her victory over Riggs was a statement that women could compete with men.
In the 1970s, Sony introduced the Walkman, the first personal stereo and Apple introduced the first successful home computer.
Ted Bundy and David Berkowitz were two serial killers that captured the nation's attention in the 70s and 900 people died at the People's Temple when the Reverend Jim Jones ordered his followers to drink cyanide-laced Kool Aid in what was documented as the largest mass suicide in modern history.
Since many of the followers were forced to "drink the Kool Aid," the tragedy should be reported as a mass murder, not a mass suicide. And that is where the phrase "drinking the Kool Aid" originated. It has become a phrase used to describe anyone who blindly follows a leader – usually related to politics.
The content of some of the most popular sitcoms in the 70s reflected the political and social turmoil of the times. "All In The Family," "Maude" and "Soap" were a few shows that broke ground by tackling controversial issues like, race, sex, conservative vs. liberal, homosexuality, abortion and any other hot-button issue of the decade.
The irreverent and satirical "Saturday Night Live" debuted in the 70s and redefined Saturday night TV viewing for a younger generation. Controversy was a major part of the humor then as it is now.
The television miniseries "Roots" captured America's attention as many Americans got a history lesson in blacks coming to America as slaves and the early beginnings of black culture. The popularity of "Roots" signified white America's collective desire to better understand black culture.
As with every decade, the music of the 70s was diverse. The iconic Led Zeppelin was one of the top rock bands in the country and the band so loved New Orleans that they based much of their national tour out of our city. A hotel in the French Quarter was their home while touring much of America. Each day the band would board their private 707 and fly to different cities and then fly back to New Orleans immediately following the show.
The music of the mid-70s was also dominated by Southern Rock and bands like The Allman Brothers, the Marshall Tucker Band and Wet Willie. Those were among the bands that topped the music charts and the playlists of rock radio stations across the country. And as a young disc jockey on a rock station in New Orleans, I was playing what are now classic rock hits when they were new releases!
But it was the disco craze that stands out as the music that defined the 70s. "Saturday Night Fever" had America dancing and launched John Travolta to stardom. Dances like the Hustle and the Bump were popular and the Bump would be considered provocative even by today's standards.
And New Orleans was dancing in a place called Fat City! Fat City was an area of hot, trendy nightclubs and bars in Metairie bordered by Veteran, West Esplanade, Causeway and Division. Anyone who survived that era – and survived is an appropriate word – has great memories of walking from one bar to another and literally staying out all night and then getting something to eat.
It seems hard to believe, but at the time, Fat City was more popular than the French Quarter, especially with locals. I have memories of wearing polyester and dancing in a pair of platform shoes! Hey, it was "in" at the time!
The 70s were sandwiched in between two flamboyant decades – the 60s and the 80s – and I have not always looked upon the 70s as a significant decade compared to the one the preceded it and the one that followed, but I have come to appreciate how the 1970s was a decade of social and political transition that was the only way America could arrive at the doorstep of the more positive and prosperous years of the 1980s.
I will always remember the 70s as a time when a young generation from the 60s was on a mission to implement the spirit of equality that was born in the 60s. Equality was promoted regardless of race, religious, gender or even sexual orientation and that was resisted by the then-establishment.
A microcosm of how a generation's quest for equality has changed from the 70s to today is how acceptable it once was to go to gay bars.
In the 70s, when disco hit, the places that had great DJs playing the newest disco hits were the gay bars at the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann in the French Quarter. My wife and I, along with friends, would often go to the Bourbon Pub/Parade and Pete's (now Oz) and dance to disco!
What has changed with that same generation, which is today's Establishment, is that there was no judgment of people who went to gay bars to dance and have fun. Today, the generation that was once so non-judgmental is a generation that thinks if you go to a gay bar you must be gay! What happened to that generation? Why the change? Straight people going to gay bars in the 70s should be the same as a straight person going to a gay bar today – but it's somehow different.
I look around today and I wonder why so many people in my generation have changed – I haven't.
There is a new development to report as the battle to kill personal accountability in America continues! Tuesday, San Francisco Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a new requirement that health warnings must accompany all advertising for sugary sodas and many other drinks that are favorites with kids.
The new ordinance mandates that any ads for sugary drinks with more than 25 calories from sweeteners per 12 ounces must include a health warning that the drink may be a health hazard and consumption may lead to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. The warnings must be posted on all ads for sugary soft drinks, sports and energy drinks, vitamin waters, iced teas, milk and all 100% natural fruit and vegetable juice drinks. Milk? Orange juice? A health hazard?
This sounds like a joke, but it's not! The idea of warning consumers about the health hazards associated with many drinks regularly consumed by kids, including milk and orange juice is another battle lost in the fight to preserve respect for personal accountability.
Speaking proudly about the humanitarian effort of the San Francisco Supervisors, Supervisor Scott Wiener said, "These are not harmless products that taste good," and he added, "These are products that are making people sick and we need to take action."
We should all wonder how past generations survived and lived into adulthood without the benefit of health warnings on ads for drinks like, sodas, milk and juice!
When did American society arrive at a point where everything that could possibly be bad for one's health must be banned or given a health hazard warning? It's difficult to document the moment we crossed into this new realm of government protection of the people, but make no mistake about it – that's where we find ourselves today! And I fear there is more to come, unless we work to bring back the simple principle of personal accountability.
You may wonder what is the danger in requiring labels or warnings to alert consumers about the health hazards in products. The danger is quite real. As we reach a point where products for consumption are banned or labeled with warnings, the general public will begin to sense that anything that is not banned or labeled must be healthy for consumption - even in large quantities.
What is getting lost is placing responsibility on consumers to consume products responsibly. Sugary soft drinks, sports and energy drinks, vitamin waters, milk and all pure fruit juices are not innately hazardous to anyone's health, but overconsumption of any of these products could be a health hazard.
If the consuming public is conditioned to believe that the government will protect them with health warnings, then the consuming public will no longer feel the need to consider self-control as an important factor with consumption.
By not speaking out on the absurdity that milk and pure fruit juices must be accompanied by a health warning, we actually support government control.
Health problems result, not so much from what is consumed, but more from how much of certain things are consumed. No one needs the government to restrict the size of a sugary soft drink available for purchase or to demand health warnings on soft drink advertising. We all need to look at ourselves and accept responsibility for the decisions we make about our consumption decisions.
The other problem in the idea of government involvement in limiting or warning us about our consumption is totally political. Politicians do not win elections by talking about the responsibility of citizens. Politicians win elections by focusing on something outside of personal accountability and then tell voters they are doing something about that evil outside factor. Passing an ordinance warning of the health hazards of certain drinks in the fight against obesity is a perfect example of the political tendency to blame everything except the individual.
It's called personal accountability and it's something that has worked for hundreds of years. Why should we change that now?
The more I read and hear about the chaos at that community pool party in a Dallas suburb, the angrier I become.
Monday, I opened the show talking about the video I had seen of a confrontation between unruly teenagers and police officers that were responding to calls about a pool party that appeared to be quickly spinning out of control. The conversation exploded and dominated the entire three hours of the show. Many of the callers and those who sent text messages had distorted views of what they saw in the video.
Comments ranged from "the teens didn't listen to police so the officer slamming a 14-year-old to the ground and pulling out his gun was the proper action" to how the "police were abusive to the teenagers."
In addition, there were many different comments about black teens and white police officers. For the record, the police officer at the center of the debate is a white officer and the teenager he slammed to the ground was black. That set off a conversation about white police officers and young African-Americans – a conversation we have had a lot on the air over the past year.
There are reports that a DJ at a pool party, which was celebrating the end of school for a black student and her friends, was playing profanity-laced music and tweeting out for people who were not invited to come to the party.
The Craig Ranch Community Pool is in the Dallas suburb of McKinney, TX, which is a predominately white neighborhood. While many stories point to teenagers who were not invited crashing the party as the reason police were called, there is an account from some involved that a white woman was making racist comments about the black teenagers. One comment credited to the white woman was her telling the teenagers to go back to their Section 8 housing. A black teen objected and one of her white friends condemned what the white woman had said and stood up for the black teen. Then a physical confrontation erupted with the white woman and two teenagers.
Several videos and accounts have gone viral and if you weren't there it is hard to figure out exactly what happened. But what we can see is disturbing enough and seems to fit into a trend of defiance of authority across America.
The police officer that pulled out his gun is on leave while an investigation is underway. I don't know if the officer followed protocol or not. The investigation will reveal more about that. But in my opinion, that officer did mistreat a 14-year-old teenager. Did he lose his cool? I can only judge by what I see in the videos that have been posted and in no way did the teenager appear to be a threat. Police officers are human, but they are expected to maintain a degree of control even during in chaotic situations.
We all judge – fairly or unfairly – by what we see, hear and read. Some would say that since I am not in law enforcement, therefore I am in no position to judge. If that's a logical argument, then another person who is not in law enforcement and defends the police officer's actions is also not qualified to judge the officer acted properly. It's wrong to say only those that agree with your opinion are qualified to judge – and that goes for every other issue as well.
Regardless of how this ugly incident started at what should have been an innocent pool party, the fact that it happened is the unsettling thought that lingers. The teenagers that crashed the pool party showed blatant disrespect for someone else's party and disrespect for adults and law enforcement.
If a white woman spewed a hateful racist comment at black teens, then she incited a confrontation, which also turned into physical action.
Over the weekend there was a hip-hop concert in East Rutherford, NJ that turned into total chaos outside of MetLife Stadium when numerous people without tickets tried to get in. Again – there was no respect for someone else's event or for authority.
There seems to be a common denominator with the concert, the pool party, the increase in brazen daytime shootings in New Orleans and the general desire of many – not all – teenagers to intimidate society that is growing in America in 2015.
I am not an alarmist and I am an optimistic person when it comes to the future because I have seen America go though times that may have seemed like the end of the world was coming – but it didn't. We will get through whatever we are dealing with now, but it may get worse and reach a tipping point before real action is taken. And I don't yet know what that action should be.
Today's Establishment lived through 1968, a year when the lack of trust and lack of respect for authority seemed out of control. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in April of 1968 and so was the leading Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator Robert Kennedy, who was killed while at a campaign function in Los Angeles. The instinct to protest and riot in 1968 has some commonality with that instinct of defiance today.
The message to all must to be strong and consistent. Respect law enforcement and do not use skin color to justify abusive behavior. Also – police and citizens need to challenge themselves not to allow subconscious racism to guide behavior.
Another disturbing aspect of talking openly about what went wrong at the pool party is that the general public is filled with too many hot-heads that are trying to take away our right to point out the problems.
When I said I felt the police officer was wrong to slam the 14-year-old female teen to the ground – some immediately believed that I am speaking out against all police officers using force, which is not true.
If I say many of the teens appeared out of control and failed to act as responsible citizens and obey police requests to move or sit or whatever – I am not standing up for anti-social behavior.
Everyone in the talk radio audience should focus on what is being talked about and not be too quick to launch generalized attacks. To point out what a police officer did wrong in a high profile case – in no way suggests that all police officers are bad.
If our nation has reached a point where anytime anyone in the media says anything about the actions of one person – a police officer or a young black teenager – and the perception is that it's an indictment all within the group – then we have collectively lost our ability to speak out freely about those who are wrong.
And if society is no longer free to condemn wrongdoing – then what are we to become?
Attempts to stop the legalization of same-sex marriage have reached a desperate point – change the Constitution!
Wisconsin Governor and presumed Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker has now proposed amending the Constitution to prevent the Supreme Court from protecting same-sex marriage nationwide.
The idea of changing the Constitution to fit the agenda of some conservative Republicans crusading to stop gay marriage exposes the fanaticism surrounding this issue. The Constitution has survived because it is a living document that has brilliantly allowed an ever-changing American society to remain under its concept of freedom and fairness.
Obviously, the conservative Republicans that are still in the fight to make certain same-sex marriage is never a reality in America now realize they are fighting a losing battle that is all but over. So, the dramatic concept of changing the Constitution appears a last resort. But is that the answer?
Governor Walker is proposing that the Constitution be changed to allow the voters of states to vote for discrimination. Under that premise, Governor Walker seems to be following in the footsteps of former Alabama Governor George Wallace, who believed that a state should make the rules about the rights of black Americans. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights have built a society based on individual rights and while the majority decides elections, the majority does not have the power to approve discrimination.
If Scott Walker supports each state's right to ban same-sex marriage, does he support the rights of states to vote to ban the right to own guns?
I also wonder what power a president has to amend the Constitution, other than be a cheerleader standing on the sidelines. And if Governor Walker, or any other Americans, support a state's rights to vote for legal same-sex marriage, there are states where gay marriage is now legal and polls continue to show that a majority of Americans now support legal same-sex marriage. It would only be a matter of time before states would vote in support of same-sex marriage.
Governor Walker is obviously frustrated over the fact that his state, Wisconsin, voted to ban same-sex marriage only to have the courts overturn the vote. Again – in America, majority vote does not supersede individual rights.
Early in a presidential campaign, particularly if the field is crowded, candidates propose ridiculous ideas in a frantic attempt to get attention. It is our responsibility as voters to distinguish between the "ridiculous" and the "right" campaign rhetoric (BS!).
Watching the interview Megyn Kelly of Fox News did with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, stars of the TLC reality show, "19 Kids and Counting" was sickening.
I credit Megyn Kelly for her effort to ask the tough questions in the interview - she often challenged the Duggars and presented the many questions their critics are asking, but she did seem to allow the Duggars to get away with self-serving answers.
As a Christian, I believe in the act of forgiveness and realize that giving honest forgiveness is one of the great challenges that Christians face. So, let me say that I forgive Josh Duggar, the son who in his teens sexually molested 5 young girls. I forgive the parents for their lack of accountability and their failure to acknowledge their own religious hypocrisy. But their defense is that they are the victims of a salacious media attack, and that ignores the grand hypocrisy of their façade.
After admitting that he had molested four of his young siblings and another young girl, Josh was sent away to a Christian treatment center and Jim Bob, his father, made him confess what he had done to the police, which I think is very admirable on Jim Bob's part. But there were too many times in the interview when Jim Bob and Michelle, his mother, talked around the real issue of the strong Christian image they project vs. the sins within their own family. They have built a career and earned a lot of money pretending to be a Christian family all should follow.
When Josh returned to the home after treatment, the Duggars talked about the ways they tried to make everyone in the family safe. Children were not allowed to be alone in a room with certain family members and they were no longer allowed to play "hide & seek." Those may have been steps they took, but children and teenagers will always find moments to be alone if that is their goal. Banning "hide & seek" may have helped the Duggars feel like they were handling the problem, but I doubt that action would prevent a molester from attacking again.
What has bothered me through this entire scandal is the same thing that bothered me in the interview with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. There has been an unwillingness to address the perception of hypocrisy in their preachings while harboring a secret that they would have used to quickly judge others.
It has been reported that Jim Bob Duggar promoted the death penalty for anyone guilty of rape or incest during a run for a senate seat in Arkansas, knowing that his son, Josh, was guilty of incestuous acts. Failing to address this directly only adds to the hypocrisy.
In speaking out about the scandal that has rocked the Duggar family, Jim Bob and Michelle are playing the victim card. Consistently through the interview both blamed the revelation of this dark story on what they speculate is the agenda of the person who made the information public. However, I didn't hear them directly address what the agenda might be.
The Duggars do have a right to point out that they believe the police records about Josh's sexual molestation incidents were illegally released and if that is the case, then there is no question the person who released the information must be held accountable. But the Duggars placed so much emphasis on the "illegal" release of the records that they seemed to diminish the facts behind what their son did to very young girls. Furthermore, they attempted to focus on the wrong that had been done to their family. They are saying they are the victims.
The Duggars also downplayed what Josh had done by implying that what he did to four of his young sisters and another young girl was only inappropriate touching, as to suggest it really wasn't that serious. I can image the stance they would take from their religious pulpit if a homosexual had committed the same offense.
Megyn Kelly brought up a robocall that Michelle had made warning that transgender people will try to go into restrooms for the purpose of molesting children knowing their son, Josh, was a child molester with a record.
The Duggar molestation scandal is all about the hypocrisy that so many self-proclaimed religious leaders practice when they use a veil of religion to cover their own sins.
The Duggars have learned that there are usually places in that veil of religious conviction that are thin enough to see through.
The investigation revealing that the TSA failed in 95% of the tests to sneak weapons through to board flights is a statement about the ineffectiveness of government.
When I travel and witness the process of going through TSA, I get the feeling that many of the TSA employees, including those who appear to be in charge of other employees, are simply going through the motions. There just doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency to be excellent in the job. I know there are TSA employees that are conscientious and go to work every day with the attitude that they will do an excellent job, but I don't get that feeling about many of them.
The failure of TSA is bigger than just TSA – it's about the mentality of many government employees and even supervisors. If you are a government employee or supervisor and you have a great attitude toward your work, then don't take this personally. It doesn't apply to you. But we live in a world where people are so protective of the "group" they are part of that they will defend their group and even those whose attitude is having a negative impact on the group.
I have personal experience dealing with government employees and I dread the times when I have to deal with the government. I get a sense that many who work for the government feel so secure in their jobs that they are not concerned about the quality of their work. There is a general attitude of "I'm not going to get fired so I don't have to do a good job." Is that what happens when someone is hired by TSA?
If our government bureaucracy is set up so that job security is so guaranteed that there is no demand to dedicate oneself to doing the best job possible – then we should not be surprised that our government and our country are in the shape they are in.
No one's job should be so secure that there is no sense that quality of work and attitude are important. But even if there is no fear of losing a job – what happened to every individual taking personal pride in their job? Pride in work – doing the best job possible – showing up at work with a positive attitude every day – doing a good job even when no one is looking?
Government employees can argue that they are underpaid and that is what creates a negative attitude. I would argue that government pay and benefits are far greater than those offered in many areas of the private sector.
Furthermore, everyone should accept a job with the attitude that they will excel to the best of their ability. The tolerance for mediocrity in America is far too common.
The book, "The Peter Principle" by Lawrence Peter was based on the structure of a bureaucracy and the theory was that everyone reaches a level of incompetence. Over time, an employee will spend enough time in a position and do just enough to get by, but get promoted to the next level. Inevitably, people reach a point where they have been promoted beyond their level of competency, which means the entire system is filled with people who are incompetent at what they do.
I don't think I'm alone in my respect for a strong work ethic. I learned a lot of that from my Dad, and I think that not enough Dad's have been teaching the concept of basic work ethic, and the equation that work equals reward.
It is not uncommon for NFL players to have their greatest year in the year their contract is ending. We should all strive to work at what we do everyday as if our contract is ending.
Life, and people in life, can take a lot of things from you – but I have learned that the one thing that no one can take from you is your work ethic.
I love my job, but it is a job and there are times when I am challenged to fight through the routine of some aspects of what I do and surely you face those same challenges. There should be no acceptable excuse for a bad attitude at work and no excuse for failing to do the best job you can. Even if for the sake of looking in the mirror everyday and being proud of who you are!
Even to the most tolerant and non-judgmental people, the photo of the new Bruce Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair is shocking! Describing the picture as shocking is not meant to imply that it is shocking in a bad way – just shocking!
The Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner is now Caitlyn Jenner and appears on the cover of an iconic magazine wearing a white retro one-piece swimsuit. The cover story is titled, "Call me Caitlyn." This was planned like it was the roll out of a new product – and it was. Caitlyn Jenner is the new product.
Why are so many people shocked or, in some cases, "freaked out?" Is it because they cannot mentally grasp a man becoming a woman? Or is the transformation from Bruce to Caitlyn shocking because many people are extremely uncomfortable with the fact that a top athlete who represented the epitome of masculinity is now telling us that even then he always knew he was a woman?
I think it's the latter. We all view life from our personal perspective and judge the actions of others from that perspective. We - that is, most of us - cannot imagine why anyone would not be happy in the body they were born with, but this is an exercise in learning why it is wrong to judge others from our myopic personal perspective of life.
It's okay to admit that you don't understand what Bruce Jenner is telling us about who he is and what led him to this dramatic change, but Bruce Jenner doesn't understand why you feel so comfortable in your body.
When I first saw the picture of Caitlyn Jenner on a TV monitor in the studio while I was on the air – I was stunned! I wasn't judgmental – I was just stunned. While many people are compassionate and understanding, many are also appalled by what they now see. But why?
Why are so many people harshly condemning Bruce, now Caitlyn, for the decision to follow a deep inner sense that he should have been a woman? Those who have been critical are, in no way, personally affected by the transformation and no one could logically argue that this will somehow open the door for young people to decide they want to defy their biology and become a man or a woman.
I cannot speak from first-hand experience and admit that my observations come from a straight male perspective. There is much I don't understand, and much of this is confusing. We can confess to confusion without being critical. It is human nature to consider why people make certain decisions and this is a dramatic decision that inspires questions.
Bruce said that he is not sure whether he is sexually interested in men or women. Stereotypes suggest that if you are a man who dresses like a woman, then you are gay. But that is not true. Perhaps the transgender community shares common feelings with men who are cross-dressers.
Cross-dressers are often powerful, successful and intelligent men who have an instinctive desire to dress like women. And many of these cross-dressing men are straight with wives or girlfriends or dress in women's clothes and go out with the goal of attracting the attention of heterosexual females. I don't understand that, but perhaps cross-dressing men don't understand why you, or me, would not have the desire to dress in women's clothes. It is only speculation, but when Bruce has talked about this powerful instinct that has always lived inside of him, it seems to parallel the instinct in many cross-dressers – he has just taken it to another level.
The gender, or genders, that Caitlyn Jenner is attracted to is really none of our business – anymore than the genders heterosexuals or homosexuals are attracted too.
The dramatic metamorphosis of Bruce to Caitlyn has opened a national discussion about the transgender community. That community only makes up a very small percentage of the population. This is not about the number of people who feel they were born in the wrong body. This is really about why so many are quick to judge and condemn these individuals.
If we don't understand why some people dress the way they dress or what drives them to wear their hair a certain way, then why would we be expected to know why people do what they do.
The key message in this very public transformation from Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn Jenner is we should not be quick to judge and condemn others if their actions and decisions do not hurt others. I realize many will argue that when someone's father becomes a woman there will be people who are hurt. And I understand that, but there is also room for love to bond the individuals of a family regardless of the decision to live by the hidden instinct that defines them.
The world is full of people who live sad lives because they know who they are inside – they hear that inner voice that tells them who they are – but they do not have the courage to live as that person.
I am one of the lucky ones because I am happy with who I am and I feel like I have always followed that inner voice that tells me who I am, even when that has led to harsh criticism.
I hope you hear your inner voice - and have the courage to follow it! This is your life – live it!
The anti-Muslim protest in front of a mosque and Islamic center in the Phoenix area Friday became a controversial topic because the organizer of the protest encouraged all participants to bring guns.
The protest was also promoted as a cartoon-drawing contest of the Prophet Mohammed - a similar contest led to the killing of 2 radicals when they opened fire at a facility hosting a Mohammed cartoon-drawing contest recently in Garland, Texas.
The anti-Muslim protest organizer in Phoenix, Jon Ritzheimer, requested that those coming to the anti-Muslim rally bring guns and that seemed to suggest that violence was anticipated. A local motorcycle group was also promising to participate.
But the anti-Muslim rally was generally peaceful, therefore it was not a major news story. This is another excellent opportunity to draw attention to what makes the news and why. News coverage of the protest over the weekend would have been extensive if violence had erupted. The fact that it was a peaceful protest made it much less newsworthy.
Here's my take: The fact that the organizer encouraged participants to bring guns to the rally and the fact that "F*** Islam" T-shirts were sold and worn by many in attendance makes the reality that the protest was peaceful very newsworthy! The business of delivering the news everyday should also emphasize the times when tense anticipation of possible violence yields a peaceful demonstration of the First Amendment.
Approximately 250 anti-Muslim protesters, most armed and many wearing the "F*** Islam" T-shirts showed up to voice the opinion that the Muslim faith is inherently evil and an actual threat to America. And there were about 250 counter-protesters defending the Muslim faith. The violence that many anticipated never erupted and the protest illustrated how free speech should be used and respected in America.
The Washington Post reported that Phoenix resident, Paul Griffin, who attended the protest to alert everyone that Islam is contrary to American rights, said, "They want us to cower in fear because of a cartoon that somebody drew? What the hell happened to this country? I don't care if I offend anyone. This is America."
However, later Griffin told a small group of Muslims in the crowd, "I promise, the next time you see me, I won't be wearing this shirt." He shook hands with one Muslim man and said, "I won't wear it again."
Usama Shami, president of the Islamic center where the protest took place, invited everyone in to join him and the members of the mosque for prayer. Shami said, "Many had never met a Muslim" and many were "filled with hate and rage." His goal was to show that Muslim people are humans like anyone else.
Ya Ali Yoseph, 26, said that drawing Muhammed as a cartoon character is offensive and he hoped that people would gain a better understanding of the Muslim faith. Yoseph told the Washington Post, "We don't draw pictures of our prophets. Jesus was a prophet. We don't draw pictures of Jesus. In the Koran, there's a quote that says, Allah made you different groups, different tribes, different races, so you can go and learn from each other, so we can come closer to each other. This is a test to see how you treat people of different color, different ethnicity."
But the story about Jason Leger, a resident of Phoenix who showed up to condemn Muslims and wore one of the "F*** Islam" T-shirts, accepted the invitation to enter the mosque and join the evening prayer. He said that experience changed his attitude. "It was something I've never seen before. I took my shoes off. I kneeled. I saw a bunch of peaceful people. We all got along," Jason commented. He continued, "They made me feel welcome, you know. I just think everybody's points are getting misconstrued, saying things out of emotion, saying things they don't believe."
How was this not big news over the weekend? I think this country is begging for more attention to be paid by the news media to the many moments when we all get along, especially the moments when an experience reveals a truth the brings people together.