Two Beautiful Words

I do not pretend to know someone else’s pain. But I can scarcely deny that the hardest moments in my own life have centered on loss.

The loss of trust, the loss of finances, the loss of hope, and worst of all, the loss of a loved one.

I do not pretend to know someone else’s pain. Yet I cannot imagine I’m alone in this sentiment regarding loss. How we cope in such situations defines us as a person. You learn a lot about yourself when you lose. You learn if you’re the kind of person who is a good friend, the kind of person who is a good spouse, a good parent, a good son, or a good daughter.

You learn a lot. And what you learn may not always be what you’d like to know when you start to pull yourself out of the mire.

We do things we’re not proud of. We say things that we wish could be unsaid. Grief and anger are emotions that take on a life of their own. They can consume, they can cloud, and they can deceive. Grief and anger bring out the worst in us. They lead to rash decisions; in the past they have been the cause of mobs, riots, and destruction.

But to the individual, grief and anger can be a pit. They can be an abyss of darkness and despair. The thing about a hole is that no matter how long it takes to climb out, it’s a lot easier and quicker to fall right back in. But if you make it out of that pit, and stay out for a while, an even uglier cousin follows grief and anger.

His name is shame.

You may wonder what I’m rambling about here. Truth is, I’m not sure. I’ve been thinking about loss lately, about perceived fairness and the always perceived inequitable distribution of good fortunes. It’s a common human trait, the perception of being mistreated, of being wronged and that you are forsaken. You are not forsaken. None of us are. That’s the hardest part sometimes. Coming to that conclusion can bring the shame as sure as summer brings storms in the Gulf.

I have a friend, a writer who worked for the newspaper in Shreveport. I still have one of his printed columns. He had been wrestling with some personal demons, things of which he was not proud. And while he spoke in generalities, the message was clear. He was sorry to those he had wronged, and he forgave those who had wronged him.

One of the lines he used, taken from a film, is a reminder for us all: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

And while we need to remember those words, the one thing I want to leave you with is the following thought.

The two most beautiful words in any language are: I forgive.

I realize that. So, I say, I forgive.

Josh Beavers is a teacher and a writer. He has been recognized five times for excellence in opinion writing by the Louisiana Press Association.


By Dane Terrell

Like many of you, Sunday was a difficult day at the Terrell house. My 16 year old son learned that one of his teammates had passed away unexpectedly in an ATV accident. My 15 year old daughter learned that one of her teammates was the driver. Our day paled in comparison to the days that the Walker family, or the Barfield family, must have had. I cannot imagine.

Only 24 hours before this, we had been in preparation for a homecoming dance. I watched teenagers dressed in their Sunday best, huddled together for pre-dance pictures, goofy selfies, and awkward not-quite-couples poses. We had sat down together to enjoy two of the best things that fall has offer, football and gumbo. I know that many of you did the same. Social media was covered with beautiful pictures of beautiful people. Good times.

Now, we found ourselves sitting around a table, struggling to eat. My oldest two, that had looked like young adults just 24 hours ago, now looked more like children again. We cried together. One because he lost a friend, one because she worried about a friend, and the rest of us because we saw the people that we loved struggling to understand.

The question that we were all thinking, wasn’t actually asked. It didn’t have to be. It was understood. It was unanimous. It was, ”Why?” Why did this happen? Why do bad things happen to good people? What possible purpose could this serve? How does a God of infinite love allow this evil on his people? This may be the hardest question a person of faith ever has to answer.

We eventually found peace, though temporary, in sleep. We awoke to find ourselves back in our routine. It was almost normal, almost comfortable. How fitting that the first day of homecoming week was pajama day. The school set aside classes to counsel. The parents set to doing the things that grown-ups do, when we don’t know what else to do. We brought comfort food. High in calories and love. We collected the items that we thought the family might need. We even collected monies. Still, I couldn’t get THAT question out of my mind.

This morning, now two days removed, I found my mind wondering. It wondered back 2000 years. Jesus and his disciples had been traveling the land. You know the stories. The miracles He performed. He turned water into wine. He made the blind see. He healed the sick. He helped the crippled walk. He raised the dead from the grave. Those that followed him came to know him as the Messiah. The Son of Man. I imagine what it must’ve been like for those followers, and even for his mother, standing on Calvary. Watching their beloved leader, being beaten, tortured, and eventually killed. How it must’ve felt laying him in the grave and covering it with a stone. Surely, they questioned their faith. We were told that Peter, perhaps His most beloved, denied him three times. Why would God allow his Son to die this way? Wouldn’t God have been better served by sending angels on chariots to grab Jesus off of the cross? The disciples must have felt lost, just like I’m sure many of the students at NCHS are feeling lost even today.

Today, I sit down to write so that those that need to hear it know, that that was not the end of the story. The stone was rolled away. That body, which was beaten and bruised, wrapped in cloth, and laid in the tomb, didn’t stay there. Jesus performed another miracle, and conquered the grave. Though the disciples couldn’t see it at the time, his death had a purpose. Jesus was sacrificed to save the souls of all those that believe in him. Imagine the joy that they felt on Easter morning when Martha told them of what they had found. Imagine how their hearts were filled when Jesus joined them and told them, “Peace be with you.”

To my children, all of the students, faculty, and staff at NCHS, and to the families, that are in so much pain today; this is a time to mourn. Lean on and love each other with all that you have. Lift up those families in prayer and bring them the things that they need to make it through this trying time. Honor Robert and remember the good times that you had. Comfort Jade. Be there for her. There will be more tears, and that is ok. Focus on those in need, and not on the “Why?” One day, we will know. One day, we will understand. It may take longer than it took Jesus’ disciples. It may even take longer than our lifetimes, but always keep the faith that God will fulfill his promises.

Chris Paige Wagers his Credibility at Parish Council Meeting

By J. R. “Randy” Stelly/Opinion


After watching the Parish Council meeting, I made the following observations:

Observation No. 1 – Chris Paige clearly thinks that you are stupid, that you don’t know how to read and that you can’t understand simple math.  It is either that or Mr. Paige is a liar. I prefer to believe the latter! The most egregious lie of the night, which he couched as a wager, was that there are two people on Parish payroll whose salaries combined exceed 2 million dollars!  I’m sorry, but anyone with even half a lick of sense should recognize that statement for the lie that it is. Even the good folks who seem determined to destroy our Parish by going back to a police jury form of government aren’t so gullible as to believe that lie!  If you add up ALL of the salaries for the departments that the Parish Government has control over, you get $2,138,962!!  And that includes the salaries for the Parish President and the Council members!

Parish Council  $        30,000.00
Parish President, Council Clerk, Executive Assistant, Parish Treasurer,
Purchasing Agent, HR/Coordinator, Accounts Payable Clerk
 $      351,035.00
Highway Department  $      729,942.00
Solid Waste Department  $      590,532.00
Government Buildings  $      147,291.00
Health Department  $      212,085.00
Planning & Zoning  $        78,077.00
TOTAL   $   2,138,962.00

2018 NPG Budget Submissions

Mr. Paige, I’ll gladly take you up on that bet!

Observation No. 2 – The good folks who live on rural roads have selective memories where the condition of their roads are concerned. Go back and read the minutes of old police jury meetings to refresh your memory if you must, but the roads in Natchitoches Parish have been deteriorating for over 30 years now!

Under the police jury form of government, there was a Highway Steering Committee. The Committee was comprised of Police Jurors who were responsible for studying “any issue, matter or proposal relating to the operation of the Parish Highway department and/or the Parish road system prior to same being acted upon by the police jury as a corporate body.”

Parish of Natchitoches, LA Code of Ordinances – 2-9

At its June 18, 2012 meeting, the police jury, upon recommendation of the Steering Committee, voted to cancel all previous backlog Work Requests at the Parish Highway Department for the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011!!! At that same meeting, Juror John Salter, who was the Parish Manager over the highway department, stated that “putting down gravel was about all the Jury could do in such a short time.”

May 21 2012


Notice of Agenda

Agenda – 12.06.18

June 18 2012 Meeting

Observation #3 – Another task of the Highway Steering Committee was the “approval for employment of persons recommended by the Director of Public Works for employment…”

The Parish employee who complained to the Council of being treated unfairly by the Parish Government started working for the police jury on June 18, 2012. Her recommendation for hiring wasn’t voted on and approved until the Council meeting was held at 4:00 p.m. that same day. The position she was hired for was not advertised and the highway department already had a secretary on staff. Why did the police jury find it necessary to create a job for this particular person? Could it be that Patsy Ward Hoover created the position for her? After all, the employee has been seen riding in the same vehicle as Mrs. Hoover in recent weeks and Mrs. Hoover, who was receiving an additional $400/month in pay, was the Assistant Parish Manager of the highway department at the time the employee was hired. If that is the case, Mrs. Hoover violated the Parish Code of Ordinances by using her position as a manager over the highway department and as a police juror to influence the Steering Committee’s selection and hiring of this particular person.

It’s time for the residents of this Parish to realize that people like Chris Paige, who is term-limited under the Home Rule Charter, only have use for us if we can help advance their personal agenda! It’s time to wake up and get educated!

The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to

The Right Coach


Joe Cunningham, III

In teaching, you get asked to do a lot of things and you get to volunteer to do a lot of things. Here recently, I was asked if I wanted to help with my school’s basketball team. Given how much I like a lot of the kids on both the high school and middle school boys teams and, given how much I enjoy spending time with the coaches of those teams, I jumped at the opportunity.

The reason I enjoy hanging out with the coaches at my school is because there is something you can learn watching how different coaches approach the sport they are involved in. I’ve seen a lot of coaches both through various jobs in journalism and my job as a teacher. The best coaches, inevitably, are the ones who do three things and do them sometimes at the expense of victory.

The first thing every good coach does is establish a relationship with a player that goes beyond just being a coach. He or she is involved with your education, making sure you are focusing on your grades and communicating with both your parents and your teachers when there is a problem. They are as much a teacher as a coach, making sure you are getting the important things done before you step onto the court. If a player isn’t taking care of his grades, a good coach won’t try to get the grade fixed, but will keep them off the court in order to motivate them.

A good coach isn’t just a player’s coach when it comes to a sport, but when it comes to life. Teaching the kids not just how to shoot a basketball or carry a football down the field isn’t enough. They also teach life skills. One of the most interesting things about my school’s team is that all the kids are talented, but none of them are the type of person whose attitude stinks but you keep around because they are so good.

I’ve worked with several of our school’s athletes in studying for tests, editing papers, and just giving them a place to work quietly after school, and in interacting with them, it’s very obvious each of them is determined to succeed outside of the court or field. This is a testament to the coaching staff we have at our school, as well as schools across the state.

The final thing that good coaches do is make sacrifices when the situation calls for it. If an athlete has a poor grade or a bad attitude, then a good coach will bench them no matter how good they are. It could lead to a loss if you have to bench your best player, but this makes it clear to athletes that being good at sports can be a temporary part of life, but being a successful person can last a lifetime. The right coaching is focused entirely on making a kid a better person.

If a coach does all of this, then the final product (whether it’s a season of wins or losses) will be kids who are prepared to handle life, not just handle a ball.

Ponderings with Doug – December 18, 2015

dougthumbSunday I was preaching. For some reason, which eludes me now, I made reference to seeing a truck on the Interstate. It was a very specific truck which I followed all the way to Alexandria. I was in hopes the truck would exit in Alexandria and I could continue my pursuit. The truck was a Blue Bell ice cream truck.

I have missed Blue Bell for all these weeks. I had friends who had stored up the ice cream and even they had run out of their private supply of Blue Bell. One of the important Christmas traditions around my house involves Blue Bell Peppermint Ice cream. I am still hoping the tradition will happen this year.

There have been whispers of a map that reveals when various regions of the southern United States will be supplied with the heavenly ice cream treat. I have consulted the maps.

I followed the truck in hopes that there was some early distribution of the holy ice cream. No such luck. That truck blew through Alexandria completely.

For some reason this seemed germane to the sermon on Sunday. Actually it works for this article too. We are living in that anticipation time. I am waiting for Blue Bell to arrive in the grocery stores of Natchitoches.

Children are awaiting the arrival of Santa and the goodies he will bring. Adults are awaiting the arrival of Christmas family guests especially those grandchildren. Methodist preachers are anticipating Christmas Eve services at five and seven, because the church is filled with Children of God bathed in candlelight. The world is awaiting redemption. The only way things will get better in our world is Jesus. Jesus living in the lives of His children. Jesus returning to bring history to a conclusion. We are told that even creation is groaning for the day of redemption. Jesus is the antidote to the darkness in our world.

We are all waiting on something.

So the Blue Bell ice cream truck reminded me of anticipation and I mentioned following it in the sermon on Sunday. When the sermon was over, we had a couple of worship songs before the benediction. As we were singing a little boy walked down the aisle and stood beside me. He had a question.

“Preacher, do you know when the Blue Bell ice cream truck is coming here?” It was the best part of a really great Sunday morning.

That is a great theological question. It is a question of anticipation and hope. Are you feeling anticipation and hope? Is the excitement of Christmas anticipation building for you?

The Blue Bell ice cream truck will be in Natchitoches on December 21st.

Merry Christmas.

Bedgood’s Bravado

DennisColemanThe Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from Dennis Coleman. The views and opinions expressed are those of Mr. Coleman and not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to

I noticed that Parish Councilman Rodney Bedgood has gotten placed on the Agenda for the upcoming Council meeting consideration for a pay raise for the Council members. Really? Is this the same group that has sat on their collective hands for the past four years; not a single member of the Council had the intestinal fortitude to offer real suggestions to be considered for the improvement of the roads of the Parish. And is this the same Mr. Bedgood who sought and was recently re-elected to this job? I do remember Mr. Bedgood for his antics at one Council meeting. It seems he had some photographs that he was sharing with the other members…jumping around from person to person pointing out that his constituents had to drive on these roads… Oh, not to forget, the reason for Mr. Bedgood’s animated behavior — it was being considered to pay a private land owner to pick up litter around a dumpsite which was located on his property. THE COUNCIL VOTED NOT TO DO THAT.

We all hear and grow tired of hearing about the ‘records’ of those elected to public office. The issue here begs the question, “What has the Council accomplished?” More importantly, what has been done that would bring an improvement to the worn out roads of Natchitoches Parish? Have the accomplishments of the Council been so numerous that the citizenry feels compelled to pay more for their service? Hardly.

I have no idea what the pay should be, but I would suggest that, based on the past and current performance, that a method of ‘repayment’ should be made available for those on the current Council. The citizens of Natchitoches Parish have for too long been underserved by those elected to serve. A little more than four years ago, it was voted that the Home Rule Charter be adopted, replacing a century or more of the former police jury. That was progress, but some on the current Council seem unashamed to hinder that progress in any way possible. The very idea of a pay raise should have been repressed by anyone with a conscience. Could that be…?

David Vitter is Going to Win

Joe Cunningham, III

Joe Cunningham, III

David Vitter is going to win. I don’t say this as a partisan commentator. I don’t say this as a David Vitter supporter. I don’t even say this out of the sheer dislike for John Bel Edwards that I have. I say it as a matter of objective fact.

In just over a week, we as a state will be voting on our next governor. And by “we,” I of course mean the 40 or so percent who actually show up to the polls. In the primary, we had a statewide turnout of 38.5 percent of registered voters in the most important statewide race of the cycle. This is an off-year election – even with a gubernatorial race, there is going to be a low turnout.

The first reason why David Vitter is going to win is because Louisiana is a red state. At the end of the day, no matter what you say about Vitter’s sordid past, the fact is Louisiana doesn’t care about it so much that they will go out and vote Edwards – they’ll stay home. That’s the risk that Edwards runs with his negative ads. He’s not going to make people turn out, he’s going to make them stay home. More voters works in Edwards’ favor, but fewer voters means he’ll be watching a bunch of older, white Republican men go to the polls to keep someone like him from winning.

The second reason Vitter is going to win is because everyone has it so set in their mind Edwards is going to win based on polling. In Kentucky, a similar situation was brewing just a few weeks ago. Every poll had Matt Bevin, the Republican, down at least four points and set to lose the race. Every poll showed it, every pundit said he ran an awful campaign.

He won by eight points.

The methodologies being used in a lot of these polls are estimating a higher than should really be expected Democratic – and black – turnout. The numbers seem to me to be based on the idea that 2014 is a good baseline for turnout, when in reality, the baseline data from the 2014 year is an anomaly. We had a highly-publicized Senate race that would decide the fate of the U.S. Senate control. More people turned out for that than will likely turn out for this one.

And, speaking of black turnout, that’s another piece of the puzzle. Edwards is not going to get them out to vote in many areas of the state. He just skipped out on a black issues forum at Southern University out of fear of both confronting Vitter and fear of scaring white voters. It doesn’t matter that he’s done speaking events at Southern before, this was a candidates forum, with statewide candidates from several races appearing in order to talk about the issues. The top Democratic candidate in the state decided not to show.

The main reason I dislike Edwards is because of his opposition to school choice. Education is going to be the next great civil rights battle we fight as both a state and a nation, and Louisiana is going to be on the front line in that battle. School choice is the most effective way to get good kids out of failing schools, and Edwards opposes it. That is the final reason he is going to lose.

If I had to guess, I’d say it would be a close race. Vitter wins, maybe 52/48 and becomes the next governor. For better or worse.

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

Quote Of The Day, November 11, 2015 – Joe Cunningham, III

From The Hayride & Fox Business Channel

Quote of the Day JC

“The best part of the night last night for literally every American was Donald Trump telling John Kasich to be quiet and let Jeb Bush speak.”

– Joe Cunningham, on the Fox Business Channel GOP debate.

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

Vitter slung mud first! Edwards responds.

The choice for governor couldn’t be more clear: John Bel Edwards, who answered our country’s call and served as a Ranger in the 82nd Airborne Division, or David Vitter, who answered a prostitute’s call minutes after he skipped a vote honoring 28 soldiers who gave their lives in defense of our freedom.

Dardenne’s Betrayal

Joe Cunningham, III

Joe Cunningham, III

In the gubernatorial race here in Louisiana, Jay Dardenne has made a risky move, and it is one that will make or break his political career in Louisiana. He has endorsed the liberal Democratic candidate, John Bel Edwards.

I’m no fan of Vitter’s past. A lot of people aren’t. I wasn’t particularly enthused by the campaign. A lot of people weren’t. But for Dardenne to call himself a conservative (all sorts of data points to the contrary, mind you) and support Edwards shows exactly the kind of man he is.

He is incredibly bitter about how this race turned out. He was third among Republican candidates, fourth overall, in the October election. The barbs between those two during the primary were sharp and vicious. It’s no shock that Dardenne wouldn’t endorse Vitter – in fact, during a debate, he said he wouldn’t endorse anyone during the runoff. But for him to jump on board with the Democratic candidate leaves you wondering just how bad things were.

Right now, there’s speculation that Dardenne is aiming for or has been promised the top policy job for Edwards. The Commissioner of Administration gig is an immensely powerful one. And it pays very well.  There is also speculation that he told Vitter he’d endorse him if he got that job in a Vitter administration, and Vitter gave him a very forceful “No.”

This doesn’t bode well for Vitter, but it’s not necessarily going to lock in an Edwards victory, either. Edwards is going to have to find a new line of attack on Vitter, because previous statewide elections have shown that the state doesn’t seem to care much for his sordid past. Still, Vitter’s biggest challenge will be to re-connect in a meaningful way with Republican voters in the state.

Edwards, meanwhile, will have to work harder to convince people he really is a social conservative, and he’s going to have to explain why his voting record in the legislature is decidedly not conservative.

But, Dardenne? He had better hope that Vitter loses. Louisiana’s GOP hasn’t had strong leadership in recent years, but Vitter will consolidate power, exercise an iron grip, and probably set fire to Dardenne’s career if he wins.

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

Ponderings with Doug – November 6, 2015

dougthumbDo you know what it means to stand in the gap?

In several places, Parker Palmer tells the story of John Woolman(1720–1772), a Quaker who livedin colonial New Jersey. His story is of special interest because Quakers—who believe that majority rule is a form of violence—have always madedecisions by consensus, and the decision at stake in Woolman’s story wasone of immense moral urgency.

A tailor by trade, Woolman lived among Quaker farmers and merchants whose religious beliefs held all human beings equal in the eyes ofthe politics of the brokenheartedGod but whose affluence depended heavily on slave labor. Woolman received “a revelation from God” that slavery was a moral abominationand that Quakers should set their slaves free. He took his concern to his Meeting, asking Friends to “test his leading.” Two things soon became clear: Woolman’s personal integrity was beyond doubt, but many Friends remained unwilling to free their slaves. Because they were committed to a decision making process that prohibited voting and majority rule, the Meeting was unable to lay the issues down. For as long as the “sense of the Meeting” was divided on matters involving God’s will, they had to keep talking and praying until unity was achieved.

For twenty years, at greatpersonal cost, Woolman devoted himself to sharing this revelation withmembers of his religious community, “walking his talk” with every step.When he visited a remote farmhouse to speak of his conviction, he wouldfast rather than eat a meal prepared or served by slaves. When he discovered that he had inadvertently benefited from a slave’s labor, he would insist on paying that person.

Woolman’s message was not always well received by his fellow Quakers,who were, and are, as adept as anyone at contradicting their own beliefs.In the words of a self-satirizing Quaker quip, “We came to this countryto do good and ended up doing well.” Woolman’s message, if embraced,would require the comfortable Quaker gentry to make a considerable financial sacrifice.

John Woolman held a terrible tension as he traveled from town totown, farm to farm, meeting to meeting, speaking his truth and standingin the gap between the Quaker vision of “that of God in every person”and the reality of Quaker slaveholding. But hold the tension he did, fortwo decades, until the Quaker community reached consensus that it wascalled to free all of its slaves.On one level, this is the story of a Christian community that embracedevil and clung to it far too long. Yet the Quakers were the first religiouscommunity in this country to free their slaves, fully eighty years beforethe Civil War. In 1783, the Quaker community petitioned the Congressof the United States to correct the “complicated evils” and “unrighteouscommerce” created by the enslavement of human beings. And from1827 onward, Quakers played a key role in developing the UndergroundRailroad.

Quakers took a stand against slavery early in American history partlybecause one man, John Woolman, was willing and able to hold the tension between belief and practice. But it is important to note that the entireQuaker community was willing and able to hold that tension until itsmembers were opened to a way of life congruent with their deepest convictions. They refused to resolve the tension prematurely either by throwing Woolman out or by taking a vote and allowing the slavery-approvingmajority to have its way. Instead, they allowed the tension between visionand reality to break their individual and collective hearts open to justice,truth, and love.

The answers and solutions to the problems in our State might just come from Amite, Louisiana… John Bel Edwards.


John Bel Edwards was born a leader! Whether quarterbacking the Amite High School football team, commanding a rifle company in the 82nd Airborne Division, serving as a lector at St. Helena Catholic Church or unifying Republicans and Democrats on issues that matter most to Louisiana families and businesses, John Bel has always been out front leading the charge.

Please vote on November 21, 2015… it’s very important to our children, grandchildren and to the State of Louisiana we call home.

“I can’t imagine living in a state with David Vitter as Governor”
                                                                               … J. Q.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from J.Q.  Collectif.  The views and opinions expressed are those of writer and not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article or opinion for consideration by the NPJ, please send it to

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

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.

Election Day 2015

Nowlin Logo-SPOT-2012-08-22 with No. 52Dear Friends,

Saturday, October 24th, is election day and it is important that you exercise your right to vote.  If you did not vote early, please make every effort to vote.

While there are a number of important elections to be decided, the Parish President election is critically important to the future of our beloved Parish.  It will determine not only who will serve, but also the direction the Parish will take.  Since taking office less than 3 years ago, we have accomplished so much.  Here are just a few of our accomplishments:

1.  Balanced the budget
2.  Paid our bills as they became due.
3.  Paid down nearly $200,000 of the debt to the Detention Center that the Police Jury created.
4.  Reduced the size of the administrative staff to save over $200,000 per year in operating expenses.
5.  Reorganized Parish departments to make them more efficient and productive.
6.  Adopted a more accountable and transparent method of operation—focusing on service to the public.
7.  Achieved renewal of the Head Start program for 5 years.
8.  Improved maintenance of all Parish buildings and facilities.
9.  Implemented a more comprehensive and effective purchasing system based on requisitions and budget considerations.
10.  Prioritized our road maintenance program.
11.  Secured over $8,000,000 in State Capital Outlay funds in the State plan for local projects—primarily roads and bridges.

We have made a great start, but there is much more to be done.  We simply cannot afford to go back to the old days and the old ways of doing business as a Parish.  We must continue to move forward.

It is a great honor to be allowed to serve as your Parish President.  I humbly ask that you help me continue our progress by voting to re-elect me as your Parish President on Saturday, October 24th.

Thank you, and may God bless you and our Parish.


The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from Parish President Rick Nowlin. The views and opinions expressed are those of Mr. Nowlin and not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to

Ponderings wtih Doug – October 23, 2015

dougthumbHave you noticed that none of the guys in your wallet are smiling?

It could be bad teeth. Most of the guys in your wallet lived before modern dentistry. I suppose they aren’t smiling because of bad teeth. Maybe they are not smiling because of the lack of indoor plumbing. Even the guys on the coins are not smiling. Perhaps they are not smiling because they need woman to join their money fraternity.

Look in your wallet. Can you find a woman in the bunch? There were times we had females on our coins, but only three in circulation now that depict women. Do you know which coins and the identities of the women? I wanted you to get up and look something up this morning. At the beginning of the 20th century, lady liberty appeared on several coins as well as the Morgan silver dollar. Something happened and lady liberty is not the symbol she once was and our money became male dominated. Still, those guys are not smiling. You would think that they would smile since what you do with them brings some measure of satisfaction and in instances happiness.

This made me think of a bit of church humor.

A well-worn one dollar bill and a similarly distressed twenty dollar bill arrived at a Federal Reserve Bank to be retired. As they moved along the conveyor belt to be burned, they struck up a conversation.

The twenty dollar bill reminisced about its travels all over the country. “I’ve had a pretty good life,” the twenty proclaimed. Why I’ve been to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, the finest restaurants in New York, performances on Broadway, and even a cruise to the Caribbean.”

“Wow!” said the one dollar bill. “You’ve really had an exciting life!”

“So tell me,” says the twenty, “where have you been throughout your lifetime?”

The one dollar bill replies, “Oh, I’ve been to the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Lutheran Church…”

The twenty dollar bill interrupts, “What’s a church?”

There once was a rich man who was near death. He was very grieved because he had worked so hard for his money and he wanted to be able to take it with him to heaven. So he began to pray that he might be able to take some of his wealth with him.

An angel hears his plea and appears to him. “Sorry, but you can’t take your wealth with you.” The man implores the angel to speak to God to see if He might bend the rules. The man continues to pray that his wealth could follow him.

The angel reappears and informs the man that God has decided to allow him to take one suitcase with him. Overjoyed, the man gathers his largest suitcase and fills it with pure gold bars and places it beside his bed.

Soon afterward he dies and shows up at the Gates of Heaven to greet St. Peter. St. Peter seeing the suitcase says, “Hold on, you can’t bring that in here!” But, the man explains to St. Peter that he has permission and asks him to verify his story with the Lord. Sure enough, St. Peter checks and comes back saying, “You’re right. You are allowed one carry-on bag, but I’m supposed to check its contents before letting it through.”

St. Peter opens the suitcase to inspect the worldly items that the man found too precious to leave behind and exclaims, “You brought pavement?”

Jesus never condemned wealth, money or possessions. He talked about money more than he talked about prayer, so the subject is of spiritual significance. He warned us to be careful with our money because our money could tempt us in ways that were destructive. Maybe those guys in the wallet are not smiling because they have done harm to good people.

Voting Numbers and Parish Elections

Joe Cunningham, III

Joe Cunningham, III

Election day is just days away, and while we can’t make any final calls with just early voting results, there are some trends we can look at to see where things are headed as Saturday approaches. The parish had (as of October 20) 2,931 early and absentee votes in. The breakdowns here by party and race can give us a clue as to what we could expect to see after Saturday.

In the early voting period, we see 2931 totals votes cast. Of those, 1768 were white and 1,073 were black. In terms of party, 1,542 were Democrats, 942 were Republicans, and 447 were labeled as “other.”

In looking at these numbers, we can see a number of implications in some of the Natchitoches parish-wide races, but let’s look at two in particular (these are two that I’ve made endorses for at The Hayride, if you care to see) If these are reflective of the overall turnout, then that it is likely, but not guaranteed that David Stamey walks away from the Clerk of Court race without a run-off. However, assuming the turnout on election day is the same as the turnout during early voting turnout is a pretty big assumption.

The reason we can consider the possibility of Stamey winning the race outright is based on the racial turnout. If we assume that the white vote went almost entirely to Stamey, then roughly 60% of the vote goes to him, with the other 40% being split between the Louis Byers and Betty Sawyer Smith.

What’s not so easy to predict is the Parish President race. This is an instance where neither party nor race will really tell you the story here. What we do know is that the black community will likely be split between Rick Nowlin and John Salter, with more going toward Salter. The white vote will also be split, but in this case, more toward Nowlin because they will largely come from the City of Natchitoches. Rural whites that do turn out will likely lean toward Salter, but perhaps not in great numbers.

If that scares you as a Nowlin supporter, it should – go out and vote for him. John Salter is promising something he cannot deliver in repaired roads, and Nowlin’s budgetary changes in the parish are the best chance you’ve got of getting those roads fixed more quickly.

Of course, there’s also the fact that Salter has openly called for a return to the police jury system

Oh, the Webs They Weave…

politics graphicThe Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from J. Q. Collectif. The views and opinions expressed are those of Mr. Collectif and not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to

Have you heard the one about the politician whose promises are as abundant as the bad roads in Natchitoches Parish?  The latest one to hit facebook is that John Salter, at a private meeting of a select group, has promised the good folks on Pardee Road that he is going pave their road the first day he’s in office.  As election day draws closer, I can’t help but wonder how many other private meetings and empty promises have been made.

There are some very important FACTS that voters need to keep in mind:

1. The last Parish Council meeting before election day is this coming Monday, October 19th. The Parish will be presenting its 2016 budget and, based on the figures provided by the Tax Assessor’s office at the September meeting, the Parish is projected to receive about the same amount of money for Road District 40 as what it received in 2015.

2. Another source of revenue for the Hwy. Dept. is surplus from the Solid Waste sales tax. That surplus dwindles with each dump site that gets converted to a manned-site, which is what the sales tax is intended for.

3. All of the FEMA reimbursements for hurricanes Katrina and Rita have been paid to the Parish. A large chunk of it (almost $900k) was spent by the Police Jury in November, 2012, under the leadership of John Salter just prior to the new form of government taking over.

Before going out to vote, I greatly encourage everyone to educate themselves on how the Parish Hwy. Dept. is funded and to put pen-to-paper to see just how unrealistic all of these “pie-in-the-sky” promises are.  John Salter is preying on the fears and frustrations of the residents of this Parish and I sincerely hope that we are not as gullible as he clearly thinks we are.

If John Salter has promised to overlay or pave your road in exchange for your vote please attend the Council meeting on Monday and ask him to put it on the record. You will likely find that he has made the same promise to the residents of every other bad road in the Parish. If you choose not to ask him to put it on the record, you will have no one but yourself to blame when you are faced with the reality that you were the butt-end of a really bad joke.

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”  Albert Einstein

Ponderings with Doug – October 16, 2015

dougthumbI had a good article started yesterday. It was about the contractors across the street. They are remodeling a house. From watching them work, the interior of the house must be amazing. The other day I was watching the kitchen counters being cut and going into the house. Today the painters are across the street and I surmise the house is entering the final stretch. I was going to ponder the commonality that the construction trades share. Whether painters, carpenters, or those who cut the stone cabinet tops, all of the trades carried extension cords. The cords were twisted and worn, but everyone seemed to carry one at the beginning of the work day.

The question for pondering was simple, are you connected to a source of daily power? Do you spend time in prayer and meditation connecting with God? If it is not a daily practice for you, I would suggest that God is “ever more read to hear than we are to pray.” If you stay connected your tool runs, if not then you face daily challenges without any spiritual tools. The thought would work for this home remodel but maybe not for subsequent ones, because power tools are beginning to be battery powered.

I was deep into the typing of the first draft, when I decided to give my keyboard a taste of my coffee. I have spilled coffee on my desk before. To tell the truth, I need a sippy cup for my morning coffee. I didn’t realize how much coffee I had dumped into my keyboard until I finished cleaning off the desk. I returned to my philosophical pondering about prayer and discovered I had a problem. When I typed the word “where” the screen displayed “@o00*****” when I hit the delete key the string continued “@o00******(((((+_.” I knew the problem.

The keyboard drying process is simple. The sun is a great drying tool. I had done this before, so I knew the formula to rescue the keyboard. Alas, the keyboard was sundried, office ceiling fan blown, prayed over and anointed with oil. The keyboard has died. Our secretary offered me a temporary keyboard to get my work done until I can replace my keyboard. I had one of those ergonomically correct keyboards. I could type on it for hours. This little keyboard has already caused a cramp in my right arm. I know for a fact now that people who use Apples are not typing. Those keyboards are even smaller than this one. Oh yes, Apples are for desktop publishing and such not.

When I finish this article, I’m going to Walmart and buy a replacement keyboard. I wonder if I can get one that comes with a plastic cover so I don’t kill another keyboard by baptizing it in coffee. I hope they still sell the old fashioned ergonomic keyboards. Walmart here I come.

I have returned from Walmart and there is no joy in Mudville. I can’t believe that Walmart does not stock my kind of keyboard! This is terrible.

We all do dumb things like spilling coffee. Some of our dumb things rise to the level of sin. We all sin too. The Bible tells us that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. The good news is that we don’t need to clean up our acts before we come to the Lord. He has already reached down to us to lift us out of our self-inflicted pain. He has the power to take our brokenness and make us whole. He offers us a new beginning which is way better than a second chance.

I hope you are connected to that source of power in your life. Having that daily connection with Christ allows you to meet all challenges, even coffee in the keyboard.

Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Primary

Joe Cunningham, III

Joe Cunningham, III

It’s pretty clear that after last night, it is Hillary Clinton’s primary to lose. Her ability to debate and control a narrative within that setting showed why she was such a pain to Barack Obama in 2008, and why she is still leading the Democratic pack in 2015. She also got a big boost from the second place candidate, Bernie Sanders, who was equally dismissive of the e-mail scandal as she was.

That is not to say she is still set to win the debate. Her numbers in general election polls have plummeted along with her favorability. The word association polls that have been run show “liar” and “untrustworthy” to be synonymous with her name. And, of course, the specter of Joe Biden lingers over the primary like the threat of a civil war.

Biden in particular is the wild card. By all accounts, he is definitely going to run, but he has waiting so long that it’s going to be an uphill struggle to get his name on every state primary ballot. That starts in November, which means roughly two weeks to raise the necessary money and lay out the necessary infrastructure, and it’s unclear whether or not that is humanly possible. He of all the candidates knows how vulnerable Hillary is on the e-mail issue. This isn’t just an investigation into her server. The FBI is investigating her. That is a world of difference, legally, and he knows it. And he can take advantage of that.

Jim Webb wants to represent a Democratic Party that no longer exists. Sure, it existed in years past, as evidenced by the election of JFK, but he can’t make any headway in a race to the left of the political aisle because he is a more centrist candidate. I think that in a different time, he would poll well against some of the Republicans in the race. Lincoln Chafee is a candidate who is clearly in the race, because he was on the stage, but that’s about it. Martin O’Malley showed that being the youngest face in a crowd of old, white candidates doesn’t mean much when your ideas are the same ones from Bernie Sanders’ youth. Sanders himself did well in correcting his increasing senility on the stage by shouting out left wing talking points whenever he started stuttering.

And that is another problem the party as a whole has. Erick Erickson is the one who put it best in this regard, when he said, “The danger here is that the American people saw just how out of touch the Democrats are. The Democrats, in playing to their crowd in the debate hall, went for the echo chamber… Hillary Clinton won the debate. She will win the Democratic nomination. And she will lose the general election because the Democratic echo chamber has completely drifted away from where the American people are.”

The Democrats are convinced the Republicans are too extreme in their views, however, they ignore the leftward drift of their own party. Hillary Clinton on more than one occasion talked about the people she talked to didn’t care about her emails, but reports have been out there that her campaign is carefully vetting who she talks to. She is living in the ultimate echo chamber, and it will cost her in the general election, when she has to get moderate voters to come to her side.

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