“One thing I noticed when a firefight was about to happen in Vietnam was the quiet…the stillness. It seemed as though the birds and insects knew something bad was about to happen so they left. I notice that same quiet now.”
With those words, spoken by Garland Robinette, who would become the voice of Katrina, my perception of the storm barreling towards us and me…quickly changed from “just another false alarm” to “this could finally be the big one.” It was an unusually hot Sunday morning, filled with the soul-crushing heat and humidity that precedes and follows tropical weather.
I was doing my best to finish boarding up my house by myself. I had spent the previous day doing the same thing, but after throwing up, cramping up and exhausting myself, I didn’t have much gas left in the tank to finish up the job. NOTE TO SELF: Do the more difficulty part first, when you're less tired. Fighting heat exhaustion and dehydration is no time to singlehandedly board up two dormers on a roof.But let’s get back to that day.
As was most of the Gulf South, I was listening to WWL as I worked and others “contra flowed” to safer locations, seeking shelter and safety from Katrina. This storm that changed its destination days before was getting closer with every passing moment. But so many previous times approaching storms had bypassed us. As I fought exhaustion I wondered to myself - is all of this boarding up really necessary? Then Garland made his observation. I put down the circular saw, turned down the radio and just listened. I heard nothing. No birds, no insects and certainly no traffic or people as I was the last in the neighborhood. It was, as the cliché’ goes, eerily quiet.
I got back to boarding up. Soon I heard Todd Menesses on WWL along with the Archbishop. His Excellency was on the air to say a prayer that the city be spared. That was the most sobering moment of my life and I remember it as vividly today as though it happened yesterday.
Katrina was brutal. Katrina was dangerous. And it had us in its crosshairs. This was REAL.
Oh boy. Saints training camp hasn’t even started, and I’ve got my first worry of the season already.
New Saints cornerback Brandon Browner was in Seattle for Richard Sherman’s charity softball game and made some comments that raised a few eyebrows - including my own.
He told a Seattle newspaper that, after his contract with the Saints is up, he hopes to return to the Seahawks!
What? Is that a crazy thing to say? Or maybe I’m crazy... I wanted to get another opinion, so I spoke with my friend Doug Mouton, WWL-TV’s Sports Director.
“I literally read it and couldn’t believe that a guy who just signed as a free agent would say that about any team. This would stir the pot anywhere,” Doug said.
And stir the pot it has! Mouton went on: “If you look at it from his point of view, he’s back in Seattle where he had a great experience; and maybe he’s playing to his audience a little bit. If you look at it from a New Orleans point of view, you’re paying a guy $15 million… and before you’ve played one down for that team, you’re talking about going back and playing for another team.”
My immediate concern is could this affect the Saints on the field. Sometimes when anything happens in life, you’re tempted to say, “That’s a bad sign.” And I think Brandon Browner saying that is a bad sign. I know it’s all about performance; but if your heart is in Seattle… I just think it’s a bad sign. I wish he wouldn’t have said it.
Maybe I’m overthinking this and reading things that aren’t there, but I just can’t shake a bad feeling about it.
Whether or not it’s a bad sign, I think Doug Mouton hit the nail on the head.
“Brandon Browner is 30. When you get north of 30, you have to get smarter about self-preservation. And saying those kind of things, that's just wrong. You can’t sign for $15 million and then immediately express that your heart is sort of in another place… It’s just not a smart thing to say.”
To listen to my full conversation with Doug, click the link below
I was amazed when I saw the news that the Army was planning on cutting 40,000 soldiers… right when the Obama administration is ramping up efforts against ISIS in the Middle East.
I don’t get this. So I talked to our friend, (retired) Major Mike Lyons, a CBS military analyst to try and sort this whole thing out.
“This was pre-determined by sequestration back in 2012. The Army knew this was coming, and the Army knew they had to do this first phase of what potentially is another 30,000 a year from now.
Politicians knew this was coming. What kind of idiot would let politics get in the way of doing what their basic duty to defend the country and let this go on, knowing it’s weakening the country? You’re going to weaken the country because you can’t come to a compromise on the budget.
That’s how we got here. 40,000 fewer troops coming, and possibly another 30,000 after that. How will this affect the Army going forward?
“This is going to cut into muscle, cut into bone. This will take tremendous capability out of the end strength, and it just doesn’t seem to be matching what requirements are on the ground for having an Army prepared and ready to fight and defend the country.”
Well, that’s just great.
Another point Lyons made was that this won’t affect just the Army.
“The dirty little secret is that it’s going to put much more pressure on the National Guard and Reserves that will be activated and will pick up the slack if need be and be deployed more…That’s what’s going to happen now. You’re gonna see more pressure put on the Guard and the Reserves.”
Check out the rest of what Mike Lyons had to say here:
What is going on with the US and Iraq? The President recently announced the US is sending an additional 450 troops to Iraq to help combat ISIS, and apparently there’s the possibility that up to 1,000 more could be sent.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also talked about a possible “lily pad” strategy, setting up American military outposts near Iraqi bases close to the front line.
We withdrew, and now we’re slowly sending soldiers in small groups to act as advisers and trainers. Hmmm, sounds like another war we fought a couple decades ago. Is this turning into Vietnam all over again?
What is the U.S strategy here? It's always struck me as a real-life game of Whack-a-Mole. One terrorist group pops here, so we whack it down. Then another pops over there, so we whack that one down. Then another pops up. So on and so forth.
To try and get a handle on this, we spoke to our friend Michael Rubin, a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official.
How does this compare to Vietnam?
“There are huge differences; but, unfortunately…there are also similarities. One of the issues that we’re up against is that the politicians constantly want to tie the hands of the military when it comes to what it takes to get the job done.”
Great. Can the military ever really succeed if they’re being second-guessed and handcuffed by politicians back in Washington? Rubin also doesn’t give high marks to the President’s handling of the fight against Islamic State.
“Harry S. Truman said ‘The buck stops here.’ President Obama seems have on his desk “The buck stops with someone else who’s elected in a couple years.”
To listen to the rest of our conversation about our military entanglement in the Middle East, click the link below:
According to a new CBS/New York Times poll, a lot of Americans may not feel that way. 61% of people think only those at the very top have opportunities to succeed. Two-thirds of people think wealth should be more evenly distributed.
Really? I’ve always believed that if you really apply yourself and work hard, you can succeed; and you can make a better life for yourself. But you have to work at it.
To get a different perspective on this, from somehow who had to do just that, I spoke with Cyndi Nyugen, the Chairperson of the Asian Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana.
She came to the United States from Vietnam with her family: “I came over when I was 5 years old. My father told me that we had about two pairs of outfits for myself and my siblings, my mother was pregnant and did not speak English. We didn’t have any money... he came over with his two bare hands, and he started to work… we started with nothing; and he just started working and learning the English language and applying the skill he had finding work in America, and I believe we’re doing quite well as a family.”
So they came to the US with virtually nothing, but they worked hard. And she says they’re still coming to America because of the American Dream.
“The American dream is still very strong, our families are still coming over here, we’re still trying to bring our family over here because there’s opportunity in the United States… there’s still plenty of opportunity in America, and I believe that.”
It’s stories like these that make me believe the American Dream still is attainable and alive. She left us with some word I think everyone can take to heart.
“It’s about our resiliency and our determination to survive. And because of that survival, it has created me with a very healthy and happy family of my own that I am not depending on the federal government. We work really hard that we don’t depend on the federal government because we believe that we need to contribute to society and be able to take care of our family.”
If you want to check out the rest of my interview with Cyndi Nyugen (and I highly recommend you take the time to), click the link below.
A new survey from Pew Research shows that more Americans continue to move away from specific religions. People who identify as Christians still make up a vast majority of the population at 70%, but that’s down from 78%.
What’s going on? To try and make sense of the numbers I spoke with Mike Hout, a Professor of Sociology at NYU who’s been studying this very trend for over a decade.
“A lot of this increase over the last 20 years in Americans’ having no religion is not Americans having no religious views - rather, more and more Americans simply don’t have a preference one over another.”
So Americans are losing religion only in the sense that they’re shying away from any one religion. They still believe in God; they just may not be Catholic, or Baptist, or Methodist, or whatever.
“More and more people are inclined to do it themselves when it comes to God…there’s a question out there in the public about whether or not you need a church in order to find God or find a path to God.”
While the number of atheists ticked up a little bit, it looks most of these people still believe in God; they just don’t belong to a church or denomination. It’s the spiritual over religious debate. To me, this brings up the question: do you need organized religion to be close to God?
Personally? I say no, you don’t need it. I grew up Catholic, but I stopped going to church about a year ago. And since then, I have never been happier or felt closer to God. I still pray every day; I just have more of a personal relationship with God.
What about you?
Check out my whole conversation with Mike Hout, and my conversations with y’all:
The report on Deflate-gate is now out, and it says that Tom Brady was probably aware of what was going on. It feels like there’s always something with the Patriots. They got in trouble for Spygate back in 2007, but what will happen this time?
The report cleared head coach Bill Belichick…but is that fair? Saints fans are well aware of Roger Goodell’s comments that Sean Payton should have known what was going on during Bountygate. If the buck stops here, why shouldn’t Belichick get punished, like the NFL punished Payton?
I spoke with Gabe Feldman, a sports law expert at Tulane, about the report and what the Patriots could be facing.
“This is arguably much more integral to the integrity of the game. This is happening to the game itself…it would seem that if Roger Goodell wants to be consistent, that he would have to come down pretty hard…You can make an argument that the Patriots are now repeat offenders.”
How does this compare to Bountygate?
“There’s a couple differences that the commissioner is going to point to. One is that Bountygate, at least in theory, involved health and safety of players; and here with Deflate-gate, there was a competitive advantage…but no health and safety issue currently. I think the commissioner will also point to the fact that the Saints were told multiple times to correct their behavior, to stop engaging in this, again alleged, bounty scandal.”
However, Feldman does think the two are comparable.
“I think there are more similarities than the league is comfortable discussing, and I think the biggest one is the lack of cooperation by the Patriots organization during the investigation. I think you could say that the Saints were actually more cooperative.”
So the Pats are repeat offenders, and this scandal affects the integrity of the game. How much do you want to bet that their punishment is lighter than what the Saints received for the bounty scandal?
By now, most everyone has seen the video of a South Carolina police officer shooting a man in the back and killing him as he was fleeing. Now, I respect the heck out of police officers; and it’s a very tough job. However, I can’t see how shooting this man eight times was justified.
To find out what could have been going through the officer’s head and how cops are trained, we spoke with a friend of ours, Chuck Drago, a former police chief and a police practices expert. Drago agrees that the shooting does not appear to be justified.
“I see the man running away from the police officer. He doesn’t appear to be armed, he doesn’t appear to be threatening the officer in anyway. Then the officer fires his weapon at him, and I don’t really see where there was any threat to anyone.”
So what could the officer have done instead of using his firearm?
Drago says there were many options available. “He can call in for help to help set a perimeter, he can call a K-9. There’s a lot of things he can do, and those things are up to the officer… one thing he cannot do is use deadly force against an individual who does not pose a threat of deadly force or serious bodily injury to the officers or others.”
So why did he choose to shoot?
“There’s no way to explain what the officer did. This is such basic police training in terms of when you can shoot someone fleeing from you and when you can’t. To just stand there and fire at this individual, you just can’t explain it.”
Drago went even further, saying “The Mayor of the city said he made a poor decision - to me, that’s an insult to all good police officers in this country. That’s not a poor decision. A poor decision is when you take a second piece of pie and later on you’re sorry you ate too much pie… this is beyond a poor decision… it’s mind-boggling.”
Those are strong words from an expert on this topic. After seeing the video, what do you think?
To hear my interiew with Mr. Drago, click the link below.
More and more people are getting tattoos nowadays, so they’re becoming more and more acceptable in the workplace. As long as they’re appropriate, anyway. A New York man claims he was fired over his tattoo of his ex-girlfriend’s name… whose name is Isis. Yep.
Well, besides unfortunate ones like that, what about the average person with a tattoo? We turned to an expert who has studied tattoos in the workplace. Brian Elzweig is an Associate Professor of Business Law at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
So can you be fired for a tattoo?
“The general rule is that it’s employment at will, and you can be fired for any reason or no reason. So if an employer doesn’t like your tattoo, they can not hire you or fire you because of that.”
Does freedom of speech play any role?
“Freedom of speech would go primarily to a government entity acting on somebody. So there are probably more protections if you’re working for the government, but if you’re working for a private employer…there really are very little protections.”
With more people having tattoos, could businesses be missing out on qualified workers?
“There’s probably a lot of people who are not hiring people based on their having tattoos, and they’re losing a segment of people they could hire because they think there are social mores that tattoos aren’t acceptable.”
“Know your client base…because a lot of the time your customers may not care.”
Do you care? To listen to my full interview with Brian, click the link below.
It seems like we’re constantly seeing new stories of people from Western countries like the US, Canada, and the UK trying to make their way to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. The FBI sent out a warning on how effective some of Islamic State’s propaganda is. WHY? Why are some people so drawn to this?
To try and understand what’s going on, we brought in an expert, Arie Kruglanski, a Distinguished University Professor in Psychology and an expert on the psychological aspects of terrorism. What’s going on here? What’s their message?
“What ISIS offers is what a normal, humdrum, an everyday existence cannot offer. A sense of great significance, doing something that will put you in history, that will make you a hero.”
And they actually believe torturing and killing makes them a hero. Do the people trying to join up actually know what’s going on over there?
“They suppress the negative aspects and just portray the positives,” the Professor said. Yep. The young people trying to join ISIS don’t realize they’re not going to be living like kings and what they’ll actually have to do.
Should we worry about these deluded miscreants trying to form together here rather than only going over there?
“It’s a good chance, especially if they already have the experience with explosives and weapons…the kinds of attacks that we see in Paris, in Boston, in Brussels, and other places. These are people that have had some experience, they were instructed through the Internet how to proceed and in many cases they have connections to criminal networks. So the lone wolf problem of people who are local yet inspired and capable of carrying out atrocious attacks is very real. This is a new frontier we have to confront.”
Despite most of us realizing the absurdity of their propaganda, a few are buying into it; and that’s worrisome. Sure, they’re trying to head over there now; but Dr. Kruglanski notes that could quickly become a problem over here.
It’s scary. To hear the rest of the interview, click the link below.