The Greatest of Clown Shows

GOP Debate on CNBC

If you watched the Republican debate on Wednesday night, you were treated to one of the greatest dumpster fires of all time live on television. I mean, chances are you didn’t watch it – it only drew 14 million viewers, way down from the other two Republican debates – because it was on CNBC, which I guess very few people still know exists.

Still, there were plenty of good things to come out of the debate. First, there were arguably three winners. Ted Cruz landed solid hits on the media thanks to the trainwreck of a moderating panel (we’ll get to that shortly). Marco Rubio beat the living snot (verbally) out of Jeb Bush. And Ben Carson didn’t screw up, which very likely leaves him as the frontrunner for the time being.

Cruz’s shot at the media came after a series of non-serious questions aimed at increasing hostility between the candidates. It backfired, and the moderators ended up breaking the first rule of journalism: Never make yourself part of the story. Cruz killed it with just one response, too. “This is why the American public doesn’t trust the media.”

Jeb Bush and his campaign has been telegraphing for a week that they were going to hit Marco Rubio on his lack of voting in the Senate. The moment the moderator brings it up, Rubio knocks it down. Then Jeb chimes in, and Rubio tells him basically that whoever on his campaign told him to say that gave him bad advice. Jeb’s night was ruined.

One of the moderators, John Harwood, is a known Democratic activist and has defended Hillary Clinton on multiple occasions. It was entirely forseeable that this would be a trainwreck. The only person who appears to have been blindsided is Reince Preibus, the chairman of the GOP, who blasted the event afterward. I am of the belief that Preibus, despite the trashing he’s getting, is one of the luckiest men on the planet.

Harwood and the other moderators walked into the make-up room at CNBC and said “We want to appear as the Republicans see us.” So, the make-up artist painted them up as clowns and sent them on their way. They reinforced the conservative idea that the media is out to get them, and it played very well with the base – people in the debate crowd booed on live television. CNBC did the Republicans a huge favor, giving virtually all the candidates at the adult table some great soundbites.

Joe Cunningham, III

Joe Cunningham, III

Joe Cunningham is a conservative commentator, Front Page Editor at, contributor to The Hayride, and a teacher in south Louisiana. You can find him on Twitter at @JoePCunningham and on Facebook at

Witch Way to Main Street Moved to Natchitoches Events Center

Witch Way to MainStreetNATCHITOCHES – Due to the strong possibility of rain for Saturday, Witch Way to Main Street has been moved to the Natchitoches Events Center located at 750 Second Street. The free trick-or-treating event will take place from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 31, 2015.

Witch Way to Main Street will take place at the Natchitoches Events Center and will allow children age 12 and younger to trick-or-treat at sponsored booths. Witch Way will also feature face painting, Sparky the Fire Dog, games, inflatables, laser tag and more!

Children must be in costume and accompanied by an adult to participate. Candy and prizes will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Natchitoches police officers will be on duty to ensure children’s safety.

For more information on Witch Way to Main Street, please call the Natchitoches Main Street office at (318) 352-2746.

LSMSA, NSU sign dual enrollment agreement

LSMSA signing

The Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, the state’s preeminent state supported residential high school, signed a course articulation agreement with Northwestern State University that will allow LSMSA students to earn college credits though NSU’s Louisiana Scholars’ College, the state’s only designated honors college.  Administrators say the articulation is beneficial to LSMSA students who will be able to transfer credits to a baccalaureate degree.

“There is great value in the articulation agreement.  We know our students will step into the class appropriate for their next step where they will be both prepared and challenged,” said Dr. Patrick Widhalm, director of LSMSA.  “We are making sure our students’ potential is maximized.”

Through the agreement, LSMSA students will be eligible to graduate from high school with their LSMSA diploma as well as an associate degree from NSU. The earned credits will save the students time and money earning their undergraduate degrees before continuing on towards advanced degrees.

“This allows them to save their debt for grad school,” said NSU President Dr. Jim Henderson. “This agreement is great for our respective institutions but it’s really about the students.”

LSMSA offers 10-12 grade students an accelerated curriculum, specialized electives and opportunities for independent study and research. Because the school is adjacent to the NSU campus, all students benefit from access to NSU’s library and programs, especially in the School of Creative and Performing Arts.

The Louisiana Scholars’ College at NSU is the state’s only designated honors college and combines great books-based courses with courses in mathematics and sciences to provide students with a strong foundation for their more focused study in a concentration or in a traditional major.

The dual enrollment agreement was developed by faculty from Scholars’ and LSMSA for courses in visual and performing arts, computer science, social science, English, foreign languages, history, mathematics, science, health and physical education, business and economics.  The agreement also improves the transfer and advising process between the institutions.

For information on the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, visit  For information on the Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern State, visit

NSU will present Christmas Gala at the historic Strand Theatre


Northwestern State University’s School of Creative and Performing Arts will stage its most popular holiday production in a new venue this December.  The annual Christmas Gala, a perennial holiday favorite in Natchitoches, will be presented on the stage of Shreveport’s historic Strand Theatre with two show times on Saturday, Dec. 12. The Gala at The Strand performances will be in addition to the traditional Natchitoches performances on Dec. 2-4.

“This will be the entire show taken on the road,” said Dr. Greg Handel, director of the Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts.  “Gala is a collaborative effort from all areas of CAPA, music, art, theatre and dance.  Over 300 students, faculty and staff participate in the production of the show, from costumes, to decorating, to program design, to performing and directing.”

Show times at The Strand will be a 4 p.m. matinee and a 7:30 p.m. evening performance. Tickets are $10. for general admission.  NSU and BPCC students with IDs can attend at no charge.

For many, the Christmas Gala is a holiday tradition and the CAPA faculty and students are excited about presenting the show at The Strand.

“When I came to NSU in 1983, there was already a Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra concert held early in the evening the night before the Christmas Festival and afterwards our elected officials would host their Festival parties,” recalled Bill Brent, CAPA’s long-time director.  When Brent became department head in 1986, he realized there weren’t many people attending the concert and wanted to do something to change it up.  Later, when Dr. Jack Wann was hired as coordinator of theatre and dance, he and Brent discussed ways to attract more people to the Christmas concert. Their idea was inspired by the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular.

“We wanted to showcase not just music, but everything else we had to offer,” Brent said.  “We were also doing children’s concerts at the time and we wanted to strike a balance between fun things for kids as well as a performance adults would enjoy. As our theatre and music programs grew, we added dance and included different types of acts and more and more people wanted to get involved.  We wanted to offer something that people would find entertaining that would include singing, dancing, theatre and artwork.”

As the Gala’s popularity grew, many elements have become expected favorites.

“The crowds always want to see tin soldiers and they love the percussion line,” Brent said.

Logistically, the timing of Gala presents several challenges, falling the week after Thanksgiving and the week before finals, but the audience appreciation and exposure for the university make it worth everyone’s extra effort, Handel said. Planning and preparation begin in the spring and continue, along with rehearsals, throughout the fall semester. Intense rehearsals begin three weeks prior to show’s opening, annually held the Wednesday before the Natchitoches Christmas Festival in A.A. Fredericks Fine Arts Auditorium.

Over the years, the Gala grew from one evening performance to five daytime shows and four evening shows and organizers are enthusiastic about adding two more performances for the Shreveport audience.

“More than 12,000 see the gala in Natchitoches each year, and it is met with enthusiasm from all audiences. The school-age students particularly love the show, and we are hoping to bring together all of the audience favorites for this year’s production,” Handel said.

“One wonderful thing about Gala is it creates an atmosphere for the students as to what will be expected of them, whether they are a pit orchestra musician, a costumer, a dancer or a sound technician.  This is what happens in a Broadway show atmosphere when you have multiple performances in a short amount of time. It’s a great laboratory experience for the students,” Brent said. “Another thing is it showcases all of Creative and Performing Arts, so if you don’t like dancing, just wait a minute and the jazz orchestra is going to play. There’s something in there for everyone. It’s a top notch production that leaves a positive impression in people’s minds.”

Handel said presenting the show in Shreveport opens it up to a wider audience and viewers may see familiar faces as several performers hail from the Shreveport/Bossier and east Texas area.

“The 4 p.m. showing is ideal for school groups and we can’t wait to share the experience with Shreveport/Bossier,” Handel said.

For tickets to the Gala at The Strand, visit and click on the link to Gala at The Strand.  To view a sneak peak of the show visit

4-H Makes You Marketable

4-H Banner

Did you know that the experiences gained in 4-H are valuable workforce skills? Many employers value the ability to effectively work in a group as much as the technical skills associated with the job. And over 50% of employers say that most employees lack basic skills to be employed and advance in a job-these basic skills include honesty, being on time, coming to work on a regular basis, knowing how to work as a team, and working hard on the job. No matter which path you choose in 4-H, every life skill you learn can be beneficial to you in the future! So take advantage of the many wonderful contests, activities, and gatherings that we offer. You won’t regret it in the future!

LSU AgCenter
624 Second Street
Natchitoches, Louisiana 71457
(318) 357-2224 or (318) 357-2225 fax

Ponderings with Doug – October 30, 2015


I spent two days interviewing Methodist ministers. In the Methodist church, while God might call them to ministry, our Board of Ordained Ministry credentials them. On a regular basis these ministers in the process toward ordination appear before various committees to talk about their ministry. I can give you a list of the really good ones who appeared before our committee. The other folks were “coming along” and we could see improvement. So what do you do after listening to the third minister of the afternoon?

I confess that I glazed over and my mind wandered. I made a list of all the things I needed to get done. I thought through the supper menu for the week. I made vacation plans for the future. Now I know what is going on in your head when you get that far away look on Sunday morning! This interview adventure reminded me to shorten my sermons! If you are looking for a short sermon, I will have one for you this Sunday.

One of the thoughts I had was a memory.

Our eldest child, Allison is an attorney in Baton Rouge. I have lost every argument with her since she was in the ninth grade. We have kept all of her “Memos to my Parents.” To the extent possible, she breezed through law school and passed the bar a week after we took a Caribbean cruise. I can tell you she was not studying on the cruise. She does some kind of real estate law that I really don’t understand but it is second nature to her. She is a very gifted young lady.

When she was in elementary school we took Allison to be tested for those “gifted classes.” Allison was a very smart child and wanted her to have the best education possible. We knew almost immediately that Allison did not pass the gifted student test. As with most failed testing experiences it boiled down to one question. The question the kept Allison from entering a gifted program was, “What is the purpose of a postage stamp?” Allison answered, “The purpose of a postage stamp is to decorate the envelope.”

I think that was a good third grade answer, albeit an incorrect answer. It kept her out of the gifted program. But it seems that even as an attorney, Allison approaches some legal matters in unique ways.

I wonder how a third grader would answer the stamp question today. I’m not sure many of them would grasp the concept of an envelope. They would inform you that email requires no envelope, thus the decorative stamp would be superfluous. We would look silly asking the question in the first place. As our culture changes traditions we understand are mysterious to our children and grandchildren.

We are entering the holiday season where traditions abound. Some of our traditions are solemn and holy. Some of our traditions are just plain silly and no one has called us on them. Whatever your tradition, have you shared the story with your family? Do they know the why behind the what? Do you?

The church is entering our great story telling time. It is the story of the Creator of the universe being born in a barn with teenagers for parents. You could not make up a stranger story if you tried. It is the story of one named Jesus who came down to lift us up. I thought I should remind you before you started unpacking your holiday traditions.

Witch Way to Main Street – Weather Outlook

Witch Way to MainStreet

The City of Natchitoches has been getting lots of calls about Witch Way to Main Street and the dreadful weather forecasts. At this time, Witch Way to Main Street is still scheduled to take place on the downtown riverbank from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on Saturday. However, in the event of bad weather, the event will be moved to the Natchitoches Events Center on Saturday from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Cross your fingers and toes that the forecasts will miraculously change!