John Stephens – Real Representation for Natchitoches Parish

Natchitoches Parish has been without real representation for some time now.  In the race for State Representative serving Natchitoches Parish, John is the only candidate that shares the same values we hold dear.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal is proud to endorse John Stephens for REAL representation of Natchitoches Parish in Baton Rouge.


Ponderings wth Doug – October 9, 2015


The car show was amazing.

One can only imagine the time and expense that goes into restoring those vehicles. One could see the owner’s pride as people complimented the craftsmanship and made inquiries about the process that created such marvelous examples of automotive restoration. It was awe inspiring and a cool way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I am preparing my entry for the 2045 car show.

The conversations overheard at the car show are worthy of repeating. The most prevalent conversation would include pointing to a vehicle and telling a child, “When grandmother first learned how to drive this is the kind of car I had.” The child would gaze into the vehicle and ask, “Where are the seatbelts and how did the car seat fit in the car?” Of course granny would be telling her friends of the same vehicle, “I can’t believe my dad made me drive that heap to school. I wanted a new car and I ended up with this old thing.” I think that was a universal response. As teens, what we saw as heaps and jalopies were now the stars of a car show. If we had only known that those cars would become collectable classics. If anyone has a 1971 Volkswagen bug I am interested!

The other conversation would happen in small giggling groups. Where grandpa would tell his posse, “I kissed her for the first time in the back seat of a car like this.” There was sufficient evidence from grandma’s response that indeed grandpa had kissed her in the backseat of a car like one of those. The benighted grandchildren wanted to know if the driving took place in the front seat how did nanny and pop end up in the backseat.

Can you remember those ancient days of yesteryear when the new models would arrive at the dealerships? The dealer would keep the big window shaded until they were ready to reveal the new model. I know some of you find this incredible, but back in the day you could tell the difference between vehicles. One could even identify, without much trouble, the model year of the vehicle. From a distance only a dealer can tell a Ford from a Toyota. Today the new models look like the old models except for a few tweaks, which always raise the price of the new models.

I looked at my automobiles and thought, in thirty years my cars will be a classics. Can you imagine a car show in the year 2045? I would have my Toyota Prius in the car show. People would snicker at the size of those ancient batteries and they would marvel that a car had a combustible fuel on board. I suppose by 2045 cars will run on solar power. Future car show folks will marvel at the steering wheel and the pedals for accelerating and stopping the car. Those pedals will be as foreign to my grandchildren as a clutch is to kids today.

For those of us who are not shade tree mechanics or automotive artists, the car show was about “the good old days.” And keeping with the automotive imagery, I remind you that you can’t drive forward looking in a rear-view mirror. Hope is stronger than memory. While we enjoy remembering “back when” the key to joyous living is to know that today is the only opportunity you have to live. As you are living mindfully you do so facingthe future not looking to the past. Looking backwards invites too many accidents. It is much better to have the hope while fully living in the moment. Tomorrow is not yet and yesterday is gone, so live out the joy of this day fully. Like the car show, look at every vehicle in front of you before moving to what is next.

Even as hard as today might be in your life, years from now you will look back on today and remember “the good old days”fondly.

Ponderings with Doug – October 2, 2015


I don’t know if Google is great or is a metaphor for a pot of slowly boiling water and you and I are the frogs. I do know that when I want to know something fast I “google it.” When I am homesick I can go to Google Maps and look at the house I grew up in. I can actually make the map function in a way that if I have the time I can “drive” across my old hometown. That is pretty cool on those afternoons when I have nothing to do. I have had six of those afternoons in the last six years!

Google is creating a new way to consume information. Here is the list of things Google will render obsolete or anachronisticwithin the next fifty years: cable and satellite television, broadcast and XM radio, newspapers (sorry guys), Walmart and most brick and mortar department stores. The good news is that places like Natchitoches should thrive because people will long for the days of mom and pop stores and places where you can actually walk out of a store with merchandise!

The seeds for the cyber economy are planted and growing. I will be pushing up daises before these seeds are fully grown. I’m sure my children and future grandchildren will have a cool time with all the new Google gadgets.

Google is testing a driverless car. You can google the google car and look at it. It looks like a Ping-Pong ball with wheels. It would not stand up well in any kind of accident, but with technology there will not be any more accidents. Computers and sensors will instruct cars to stop or turn to avoid accidents. Our kids are excited because they will be able to ride in the car and text at the same time. You can set your destination and fall asleep and the car will do all the driving. You can doze through the boring parts of the drive and wake up refreshed as you near your destination. You can spend time in your driverless car googling things. As a parent you could program the car to come home before curfew has arrived. The possibilities and opportunities afforded by a driverless car and mind boggling.

In tests the Google cars do a great job of driving on country roads and Interstate highways. There is only one thing a Google car can’t do. It is such a problem it has brought the program to a dead halt. Hard to believe that one small problem could crash such a noble and visionary technological advancement.

Google cars can’t do four way stops!

The cars are programmed to handle a four way stop legalistically. The car is to stop. Evaluate the other stopped cars at the intersection, determine the proper rotation and go at the proper time. The car can’t deal with the way humans do four way stops. Are you guys noting I have issues with four way stops? The Google car is confused because most real drivers don’t stop at a four way stop. There is movement that the computer defines as “not stopping.” We roll at a four way until it is time to roll through the four way. Along with our rolling stops the Google car has a problem with our inability to count at four way stops. When someone allows another to go out of turn, isn’t paying attention to the rotation, or when someone rudely goes out of turn the Google car computer stops functioning. The car must reboot to move on. I wonder what the car would do with our six-way-four-way stop.

I won’t feel so bad when we have one of those paralyzed-at-a-four-way-stop moments downtown. I’m going to grin and remind myself that the world’s smartest computer people can’t figure out a four way stop. If the Natchitoches traffic czar is reading, Google can’t figure out four way stops! Take the hint, put the lights back! At Amulet and 2nd if you are not going to paint STOP on the new pavement, at least bolt down the stop signs. Our out of town visitors don’t know that is a four way stop. That intersection would cause a Google car to completely break down. I wonder if there is a therapy that can help with my four way stop issues.

If Google is confounded by four way stops can we relax and let go of the idea thatwe must have all the answers. There are some questions that can’t be answered. Mystery makes life interesting. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will make you free.” He didn’t say you will know the answers and the answers will make you free.

That wasn’t the answer you were expecting was it?

Politically Correct War Crimes

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

There is a story that came out from the New York Times last week that discusses child rape in Afghanistan. That story details how American troops are being told it ignore Afghan soldiers and commanders who are raping little boys as a means of control or discipline. One solider described a commander who had a boy chained to his bed to be used as a sex slave.

This is being permitted on American military bases, even.

This is being permitted because, according to top political appointees in the military and their subordinates, we should not interfere with the Afghan culture. This political correctness calls for us to overlook a horrific crime that is forever going to affect the boys who are abused. They will grow up and continue the violence toward children in that society.

Not only could this be, in a very real sense, a war crime under the U.S. military code, but it is a sign that the U.S. is taking a backseat in fighting the true evils of the world. The Army has dismissed one soldier who beat an Afghan officer for what he was doing, and is actively trying to forcibly retire another. If the Army cannot stand for American values, why should the world take the U.S. and its military seriously?

This sets a dangerous precedent in the world, and one that we may absolutely come to regret if we allow it to continue. We are allowing the continuation of an immoral and evil practice that will keep a violent and dangerous culture (sorry, PC brigade!) violent and dangerous for generations.

The U.S. Army should stand against this, prevent it from happening on its own bases, and work to train the Afghan forces out of the practice. If our job is to be leader in the world, and it should be clear by now that we are supposed to be but haven’t been, then we need to work diligently to eradicate these and other morally bankrupt practices.

Ponderings with Doug – September 25, 2015

dougthumbIf you are reading this, it didn’t happen.

If you don’t know, the end of the world or some other apocalyptic event was to happen on Wednesday, September 23rd. I am writing this article on Wednesday morning. I awoke very early just in case it was the last day. Of course, no last day would be complete without anEgg Mc Muffin.Then I went to Walmart for dog food. I bought enough dog food for six days. Did that show my lack of faith?

I can’t figure out what was ending on September 23rd.Too many things are mixed up in all this end of the world mess. The preppers want us to prepare for the end of America. On their websites you can find books about the supplies you will need at the end of time and the ammunition necessary to keep the zombie hoards at bay and the stocks that will grow during the apocalypse thus protecting your retirement. Why do we assume that the end of time means chaos, gunfire and a reordering of our retirement plans?If the EMP asteroid people are right, the earth is wiped out. End of story!

The Christians also pulled out their Bibles and calendars.One guy who has studied the Bible for fifteen years(I rolled my eyes at his credentials, but you couldn’t see that) came up with all these gruesome and far-fetched end of time scenarios happening this week. Did I mention that he has a book for sale? For those of you who are not ancient or a connoisseur of apocalyptic literature, you might not remember Hal Lindsey. Every four years or so, Hal moved his date back and published another book about the end of time. He is living quite comfortably right now on book royalties. What he predicted because he had a “secret” understanding of scripture never happened. End of time books sell, loving your neighbor books don’t. Go figure.

A growth industry was discovered when the preppers went Christian. Now you can purchase ammunition that has been blessed, declared kosher and guaranteed to shoot those heathen zombies who are coming for your stuff. Maybe all this end of times stuff is the adult version of going to a scary movie. We like to be frightened. There are some scary scenarios out there. What Jesus said about the end of time and what this growth industry touts are not close.

I can’t find one passage where Jesus commanded us to build bunkers, arm ourselves and wait for what should be a joyous day of redemption. It seems we are doing the opposite of what the Lord commanded. A better witness to our confidence in Jesus would be to do as He said do, “watch and pray.” Jesus’ idea of watch had very little to do with watching for “signs of the times” and more to do with “watching how you are living.” Are you showing your love for your neighbor or for the stranger? Ah, we don’t buy books on those subjects.

Y’all, by that I refer to my brothers and sisters in Christ, if any of you will claim me; we need to be about the business of Jesus. What is that business? How about telling your neighbor or a stranger about the love of God in Jesus Christ? Can we live with joyous confidence in Christ’s care for us, no matter what?

We are all sinners. Christ died for us while we were sinners. We are made right with God through the work of Christ on the cross. Jesus said, “Repent and believe the gospel.” But don’t stop there. Jesus also said, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”

Is your joy complete? Or has your joy been stolen because you are trying to figure out what happens “in the end?” There is only one way to prepare for the end. His name is Jesus. Do you believe in the care of Christ for you? Really? Do you? I am celebrating this last day by asking Jesus to make my “joy complete.”

If you are reading these words, it didn’t happen—again! But don’t give up there is always that red moon on Sunday night!

Article on Confederate Flag Draws Threat


City Hall Flags – Provencal, Louisiana

By Edwin Crayton

An anonymous caller has threatened of one of the content providers of the Natchitoches Parish for running an article asking why the Confederate flag flies over city hall in Provencal, Louisiana. Read the article at

The fact that someone actually threatened a life merely for publishing an article questioning the flag’s legitimacy illustrates the vicious hatred that still surrounds the controversial symbol.  And it also demonstrates why a growing number of people across the nation are calling for it to be removed from government buildings.  In the interest of full disclosure, I must share that I wrote that article on the Confederate flag flying over the city hall.

The article simply polled whites and African Americans and asked them what they felt when they saw the Confederate flag flying. While several whites and African Americans differed on whether the flag is positive or negative, most agreed that some saw it as a symbol of heritage and people in both groups also acknowledged that it stirred up division.

Indeed, one thing no one can deny, the flag is indeed divisive and tends to open up old wounds. Perhaps this is why even General Robert E. Lee, the south’s top general in the Civil War distanced himself from the flag. In a story from, quite surprisingly, Lee is quoted as having said about the flag, “I think it wiser moreover not to keep open the sores of war,” Lee is said to have written this in a letter declining to attend a battlefield Memorial in Gettysburg. The CNN article goes on to comment that there were no flags flown at his funeral, “Confederate or otherwise.”Read the article at:

Before the Journal article ran, the city hall at Provencal flew two Confederate flags. But curiously after the news story ran, one of the Confederate flags was replaced with an African Liberation flag but it was flown upside down for some reason. I wondered if that was on purpose or just an accident resulting from ignorance of the flag. So I called Provencal’s mayor to ask about that and about the Confederate flag they’re still flying, but did got get a response by press time.

Supporters of the flag claim that they support it because it’s part of their heritage. But what heritage are they referring to? A look at the history of the Confederate flag, which is technically referred to as the “battle flag” reveals that the truth is, the flag’s entire history has been connected to hate and violence. After a lull in popularity for years, in the 1950s and 60s, the flag began to experience a rebirth, as the Klux Klux Klan and other racist groups began to use the symbol in their opposition to integration and to demonstrate support of white supremacy. Indeed the KKK uses it today quite prominently. In the1950s, angry white mobs who tried to prevent 9 black children from integrating schools in Little Rock, waved the flag as they attacked and cursed the brave high school students, who had to be led into schools by armed federal officers for protection. In the tragic murder of white Civil Rights worker Viola Liuzzo, the flag appeared at rallies as people actually celebrated her killing. But its impact as a racist symbol isn’t limited to America. In a story on, Matthew Speiser wrote an article that reported that in Germany today, because Nazis are banned from flying the Swastika, they fly the Confederate flag. He adds, “Nazis have adopted the Confederate flag and variations of it because of its historical association as a symbol of racism and white supremacy.” And then of course, we know that Dylan Roof, the young racist who shot the African American church goers in church, prior to the act, had a photo taken of himself holding a Confederate flag. Ironically, despite his act of hatred, in this case the hate crime didn’t inspire racial violence, but offers of Christian forgiveness from the church.

With a heritage of violence, division and racism like that, the question should be, why would anyone really try to claim with a straight face that the flag is just about heritage? And again, if it is, is it a heritage we need to celebrate? To be fair, people have a right to wear it or display it at home. But the question is, should a government building fly such a clearly divisive symbol since government facilities are supposed to represent all the people? When a person feels he must threaten someone simply for an article that criticizes the flag, the final question we all need to ask is, is flying any flag really worth all that?

Rebel Flag

The flag we’ve come to know as the Confederate Flag is really the Battle Flag of the Confederacy and was not the original flag. The sad but historical reality is the flag is most famous for being the one used by white supremacist groups starting in the 1950s and continuing today.

Staying the Course

Joe Cunningham, III

Joe Cunningham, III

We have sat through the first term of a new parish council and, more importantly, a parish president in Natchitoches Parish. The transition from one form of government, the police jury, to the other, a president-council (a transition I took active part in helping create), went smoothly despite the crying out of those who lost a tremendous amount of power. It’s just not fair, after all, for those with power to lose it. They feel themselves entitled to that power.

The crying out by several of the old police jurors was due in large part to the fact that they lost a big part of their power to a new parish executive, and in the case of Natchitoches, one who had experience in government prior to running for that job.

As we approach this coming election cycle, we see two names preparing to run for parish president. One of those men already holds the office, and the other has said openly that he wants to take the parish back to the police jury system. After just four years. Much like a teenager today, the prevailing sentiment is that it’s just too hard to make it work.

It’s not working immediately, and therefore we should go back to the old ways, which also didn’t work. That kind of logic is astounding. A parish government with more than a dozen representatives and no captains to steer the ship. A simple majority can shut things down quickly and permanently. That sounds like a much better option than have a legislative body and an independently operating executive, doesn’t it?

The police jury had left parish government with more than $300,000 worth of debt, and there was no trust in parish government for any sort of tax to get passed. The fiscal year budget for 2014 saw a spending decrease of more than $200,000. Two years’ worth of those kinds of saving would wipe out that deficit. With the cuts and restructuring of parish government, a chunk of the parish’s debt to the sheriff’s department for the detention center was paid in 2014. Furthermore, extra money was saved given that the current parish government was not using parish money for political battles. The police jury wasted parish money to fight the change to a new form of government, costing the parish a decent amount by forcing an election when it could have piggybacked off a statewide or federal election.

So, while one candidate says “It’s not working,” another candidate has shown us it can work. Rick Nowlin has affected a great deal of change in the parish, and to foolishly throw that change away because John Salter says it’s too hard would hurt the parish in ways only the police jury could. So, ask yourself if the police jury needs to come back and bring that kind of pain to Natchitoches Parish again. If you think they don’t, then you don’t need John Salter.

Ponderings with Doug – September 4, 2015

dougthumb“Houston, we have a problem.” They are the most famous words ever uttered in the history of space travel. One single sentence, five small words, but they signal what could have been the greatest disaster in the history of NASA.

It was April 13, 1970; astronauts Jim Lovell, John Swigert, and Fred Haise were in the command module – Odyssey. They were two hundred thousand miles from Earth, 5/6th of the way to the moon, 55 hours into their flight when disaster struck.

A mysterious explosion rocked the ship and left it less than two hours from becoming a permanent tomb in space. The crew watched in horror as the cockpit grew darker, the air grew thinner and instruments went blank. Then Captain Jim Lovell got on the radio and uttered those famous words – “Houston, We Have a Problem.” Yet these words marked what would become in the annals of American space travel our finest hour.

If you think about it, life is a lot like Apollo 13. You can be cruising along in that cozy little space ship of your life, enjoying the scenery, except you are not just looking at the moon, the stars, and the galaxies, but you are watching your little boy play soccer, your beautiful wife napping on the couch, enjoying a great game of golf until all of a sudden there is an explosion in your life. Your spouse walks in and says, “Houston, we have a problem – I don’t love you anymore.” The principal from school calls and says, “Houston, we have a problem – your daughter is on drugs.” The doctor looks you in the eyes and says, “Houston, we have a problem – there is something on the x-ray that doesn’t look good.” All of a sudden the walls of your life can crumble right before your very eyes.

In the movie, Houston answered. The story of Apollo 13 is a story of collaboration between the engineers at NASA and the astronauts in space. Together they took what could have been a disaster and worked the problem to a successful conclusion.

When you have a problem and call out for help, who answers? With whom do you collaborate when your protective walls are falling down all around you? Who comes running when you have fallen?

I began my prayer this morning, “God, I have a problem….”

What blacks and whites feel when they see the Confederate flag

The Confederate flag flies over Provencal City Hall. Is it promoting heritage or racism?

The Confederate flag flies over Provencal City Hall. Is it promoting heritage or racism?

By Edwin Crayton

Perhaps few debates give you a sense of the changing times as the one about the role of Confederate flag in American life today.  Ever since a hate crime in which black church goers in Charleston were killed by a demented racist young man, a media-hot spotlight has focused on the flag, it  has been under attack as many in the nation debate whether it should be flown over government buildings. It’s a sign of our changing culture that the debate is happening at all. The Confederate flag has been a staple of the south and even Hollywood has used it to create memorable stories about the south. In Provencal, it flies over the city hall. But for how long?  I went to the streets to see what locals feel when they see the flag. In a tongue in cheek gesture, I have listed the opinions of African Americans and whites in separate but equal “black” and “white” columns. Although I have corralled the comments into categories, you’ll find that the opinions of people don’t fit as neatly into racial categories and stereotypes as the media hype might have you believe.


Joe Hayes: “I don’t think it’s offensive. But I don’t fly it either.  People don’t study their history so some use it for wrong reasons—for hatred. But I don’t’ find the flag to be offensive.”

Billy Fair: “I grew up in the south so I see it is connected to heritage.  I don’t see it as racist. But I’m not going to fly it because as a Christian I don’t’ want to be a stumbling block to my black brothers.”

Joe Matheson: “When I see the flag, I see plantations, slaves, everything the south stood for. God gave us a way to take care of our families without having to enslave people. I can’t believe that having slaves falls under the heading of being a Christian.”

Rebecca Myer: “It’s from a war that was fought and it’s from a part of history.”

Brian Barrett: “When I see it I think it symbolizes racial bigotry.  For the time period it represented it represented racial division or the white man’s oppression of African Americans. I’ve lived outside the south so I see things differently. Not all whites who wear it or wave it are prejudiced.”

Vide Gordon: “It is the flag of a defeated enemy. But it has a particular relevant history. If you fail to remember your past you will repeat it. You have to teach history openly and honestly. You need  the memorabilia.”


Alex Zeno, 34: “It reminds me that racism is still around.”

Troy Moore, 28: “it’s about racism. Whites hating blacks.”

Tye Daucette, 21, NSU student: “I know some see heritage. I just see a piece of the past.”

Ralph Wilson: “For some it’s a symbol of celebration embracing their heritage but to me and millions of others it’s a symbol of disrespect.”

Phillip Davis, spoken word poet: (Here from East St. Louis) “for some it’s a symbol of heritage. But for blacks it’s a symbol of oppression. Just like the Swastika.”

So what are we to gather from these comments? The flag sends weird mixed messages. Some see it as being about heritage. Others see it as a threat and reminder that racism still exists. Therefore it’s not fair to say that everyone who wears or flies it is racist. Yes, people should be able to fly it on their property. But should a symbol that causes such pain for so many Americans fly over government buildings? Our government facilities are supposed to represent the people.  In some southern towns and cities blacks are the majority. Some people are saying it will be progress to take it down. I think it would be better if one day no one felt the need to run it up some flag pole in the first place. Now that would be real progress.

Adapt or Perish, GOP

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

The Republican Party faces a dilemma. That dilemma is a real estate mogul who decided to run for president. Donald Trump is proving to be a thorn in the GOP’s side as he continues to poll with about a quarter of the GOP vote. While polls fifteen months away from the election prove very little at this stage, we do see that he has staying power many people, including myself, were not sure he had.

Ross Douthat at the New York Times and Erick Erickson at RedState have come to the same conclusion: How the Republican Establishment handles Donald Trump will determine whether they live or not. There is a major discontent within the base of the Republican Party, and it is a discontent caused by the Establishment of the party constantly refusing to keep the promises they make upon their election and re-election.

It is exactly this behavior, and the constant and very public rejection of the base that rubs salt in the wounds, that has made Donald Trump the man of the hour and has put the GOP at risk. The Whig Party refused to change with the times and get behind the rejection of slavery. This refusal led to their death as a party and gave rise to the Republican Party. Now, the Republican Party is refusing to change, though in this instance, it is a refusal to change back to what they once were – a party that stood for smaller government, lower taxes, and the free market.

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell specifically have themselves to blame for this problem. Their actions (and in many cases, their inaction as well) has created a void from which they are struggling to escape. If Boehner, who is a known political survivor, cannot adapt to the times, then he could lose his seat as Speaker. We saw Eric Cantor, the majority leader in the House, lose his own primary in a spectacularly embarrassing fashion because he was not paying enough attention to his own district, and was in the pocket of corporate interests. John Boehner could very well be headed for the same scrap heap, as will McConnell and the others of their kind in D.C.

This primary is opening up a lot of eyes around the country. The party will need to decide whether or not they wish to adapt or perish.

Ponderings with Doug – August 28, 2015

dougthumbCane River Food Bank

You folks are so kind! Thank you for your kind remarks about these articles. I do enjoy writing them. Recently, it seems my Muse has been on vacation and left me bereft of witty or wise ideas. The Muse usually vacations at this time of year and will return as soon as the first Christmas Festival pole goes up on the Williams Boulevard side of the Cane River. I love Christmas Festival so much that I already have planned 2016! Hey fireworks people, watch your calendar in 2016 because Christmas Eve will be on a Saturday night, again! Don’t make me write another article about Silent Night going Boom Boom.

In a number of these articles I ask you to trust God for your future or I ask you to join us in one of the great churches in our area. Today I am going to ask you for money. You knew it, all we preachers do is ask for money. So I am going to be true to character. How can I accomplish this?

I have been pondering the Amazon delivery system. Amazon envisions a fleet of drones delivering their packages. Could you imagine the sky at Christmas time? I have a friend named Bubba who has already inquired about “drone tags” and the opening date of “drone season.”

I think the church should come up with offering plates on drones. That way if you miss a service we can fly the drone to your house and buzz you for the offering. Also we can install a camera on the offering plate drone to make sure you are a cheerful giver!

Sorry for the brief daydream.

Several Natchitoches churches have joined together to form the Cane River Food Pantry. Currently we distribute food on the second Saturday of each month. The Food Pantry is located on Edwina out by the Detention Center. You can’t miss it. Turn left at the concrete plant and the food pantry is on your left. If you get to the Detention Center you have gone too far, that is true of driving and living!

We need volunteers to help unload the truck from the Central Louisiana Food Bank and then to package the boxes that are distributed on the second Saturday. If you are interested in volunteering, you can call First United Methodist Church and we will put you to work!

If your church is interested in joining in this effort by serving as one of the sponsor churches let us know that. As a reward, your church can nominate two individuals to serve on the governing board.

Now let’s get to the money, currently the food pantry is operating on faith. We tried to pay our Natchitoches Electric Bill on faith, but they told us they couldn’t make change and could we bring cash. The food pantry has expenses. The majority of the food we distribute is purchased from the Central Louisiana Food Bank. We have other minor expenses to pay as any of these non-profit endeavors do.

I am asking you to pony up and help us with the startup costs. Would you, my faithful readers send a one-time check for twenty dollars and fifteen cents? I want it to be that strange amount so when the food pantry people see these checks; they will know it came from one of my readers. I want you to have this crazy amount in your records to remember that in 2015 you helped start something!

Make the checks payable to:

The Cane River Food Pantry
P.O. Box 120
Natchitoches, Louisiana 71458

And “wherever you go, go to church on Sunday!” Now where did I put that drone?

John Bel Edwards speaks to a packed house in Natchitoches.

Edwards - One

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

Last night John Bel Edwards spoke to a packed house at the Natchitoches Events Center in downtown Historic Natchitoches.  He covered Pro-Life, Christianity, Military Service, balanced budgets, healthcare, higher education and the need for Louisiana to move forward for its working families.

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 Rebublicans and Democrats on issues that matter most to Louisiana families and businesses, John Bel has always been out front leading the charge.

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 for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to

Edwards - Four

Edwards - John

Edwards - Three

Edwards - Two

Edwards - Room

Of Course David Duke Supports Donald Trump

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

I don’t know how much time you spend online, but being involved with a coupe online conservative websites, and being friends with many activists, you tend to pay attention to the online trends. They can tell you a lot about the true heart of people. After all, on the Internet, you can be anonymous and say what you really feel.

So, when I look at the most vocal of Donald Trump supporters, and I see people using incredibly racial language to advocate a whitening of the American population, I get worried. Of course, in seeing this happen, it also does not surprise me in the least to see that David Duke believes Trump is the best candidate out there right now.

Duke says that of the GOP candidates, Trump is “the best of the lot” on a radio show someone actually let him have (I’m not against free speech, but I am against people making poor choices we all must suffer for). “So although we can’t trust him to do what he says, the other Republican candidates won’t even say what he says,” Duke said. “So he’s certainly the best of the lot. And he’s certainly somebody that we should get behind in terms, ya know, raising the image of this thing.”

That Duke comes out to essentially endorse Trump only leaves me with two questions. The first is this: How did it take so long for us to get something out of Duke about Trump? I would have figured journalists would have been tripping over each other in order to get Duke to speak on the subject.

The second question is more pressing: Are the people Duke appeals to really going to vote? I was speaking with former U.S. Senate candidate Rob Maness about this recently. I maintain that the hardcore Trump supporters are exactly like Duke supporters: If the GOP doesn’t nominate Trump, they will take their ball and go home. However, if Trump were not in the race, they wouldn’t be voting in the first place. Only when a candidate that appeals to them for the same reasons Duke appealed to them comes along, then they head out to the polls.

So, I don’t imagine the Duke crowd would vote for Trump any more than I think that 25% of voters who say they support Trump are really going to end up voting at all. There are still 75% of voters who are against Trump, and their candidates would do a much better job in the general election anyway.

Hook, Line and Sinker


The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from Clif Hart last Thursday. The views and opinions expressed are those of Mr. Hart and not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to

I have had the privilege over the last couple of days of reading some responses to questions posed on a website. These responses are from a Mr. Larry Paige.  I’m assuming that it’s the same Mr. Paige who has announced his candidacy for the district five council position coming open.  Mr. Paige goes overboard in his praise of the Cane River Waterworks commission.  Lauding their fiscal responsibility in their handling of the tax moneys handed to them.  Extolling the virtues of the CRWC and all the many things they have done for the city and the rural areas of Natchitoches parish.  He also in another post lambasts the old PPJ as well as the HRC for fiscal irresponsibility.

His left handed view of things from what I’ve seen of his writings includes looking at all the other funds in the parish and seeing what can be taken from them in order to bring more money into the Road 40 purses.  He makes absolutely no acknowledgement of the fact that funds in Natchitoches parish are “restricted”.  Meaning that one fund cannot just go dip into another fund that he thinks has too much money and grab it.  Robbing Peter to pay Paul is exactly what got the Police Jury in trouble with the state auditors for 15 of their last 18 years of their rule.  Hmmm.  He is also totally discounting the results of a select commission appointed to do just that by the current President of the Home Rule Charter.

By his own admission the roads of this parish have been neglected for many years and are going to require a complete rebuild.  I’m wondering if he’s even looked at the commission report and seen just how much it’s going to cost to “rebuild” every blacktop and dirt road in this parish??  I’m wondering if he is elected how he is going to pull that miracle off even if he’s given permission to plunder the library fund or any other funds for the couple of hundred thousand bucks he would be able to get out of them.  So far I can see no mention in any of his posts about how he is going to pull that rabbit out of the hat.  Griping about something isn’t the same thing as offering solutions and so far I’ve seen none from him.

I’ve said all that to say this.  This same Mr. Paige made an appearance at the last Council meeting seeking to put the taxpayers of Natchitoches parish on the hook for potentially thousands of dollars that the parish doesn’t have.  There is a little Catholic Church down on the river that is a very historical church.  It’s on the parish list of historical places and I believe it to be on the National list also.  It sits on private property on a state highway (484) down close to Melrose.  The river has encroached on the highway right of way and seems to be threatening the road itself if something isn’t done to stop the erosion.  Yep.  I drove down there yesterday and that is indeed the truth.  Getting awfully close to the road itself.  Apparently he has some pull with the Corp of Engineers because he submitted a proposal to the council that said that they would do a feasibility study to look at the problem.  However, before they would even consider the undertaking he would need to come up with an entity who would guarantee to pony up half of any cost overruns amounting to over a hundred thousand dollars.  I’m not real sure about you folks but I have yet to hear of a government entity doing a project and actually coming in under their cost projections.  More usually it is double or even triple what they say it will take to finish the job and keep coming back for more money.  So since they have no earthly idea what they will run across while doing this feasibility study lets just say for the fun of it that the final bill comes in at two hundred thousand (not an unrealistic figure).  That means that the taxpayers of Natchitoches parish would have to pony up $50,000 that the parish doesn’t have by his own admission.  Does this sound like fiscal responsibility to you?  Not to mention that it is a state highway and private property.  All the other property owners along the lake who have bulkheads and piers on the lake have to pay for it out of their own pockets.    It’s on a state highway right of way so why can’t he get the state to agree to pay for the cost overruns?  Did he approach them and they turned him down?  Why does he feel the need to put the taxpayers of the parish on the hook for one of his pet projects?  Were there any private contractors contacted to look at the situation and offer bids?  Another primary consideration in the back of my mind is that it is the Cane River.  If the CRWC has millions of dollars in their bank account and keeping the Cane River navigable and the banks safe fall under their purview why hasn’t he asked this bottomless pit of money to underwrite this little fiasco?  Another potential problem, thankfully spotted by Councilman Johnson is that if the parish signs off on the feasibility study does that then put them on the hook for providing funding for the work itself?  That was a question that Mr. Paige didn’t have an answer for.  So the Council has called a special session for August 31 to hopefully be able to answer these questions.  If it turns out to be one of those “in for a penny in for a pound” situations where the parish would also be liable for 25% of the actual work itself to repair this breach then you are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars.  I’m not sure about you but this doesn’t sound like fiscal responsibility to me.  And this is a guy that wants the voters in District 5 to trust him with their money.  Your thoughts??

Ponderings with Doug – August 21, 2015


I love books.

I am one of those people who can’t do the digital readers because I haven’t figure out how to write notes in the margins or fold pages digitally. I am the old fashioned book guy. I fold pages, highlight sections and write notes in the margins of books.

I moved most of my library recently. My office was on the front of our office building on Amulet Street. Since I arrived six years ago, Amulet has become much busier. The traffic seems to have picked up markedly. People are making very good use of the park across the street from the church office building. I was becoming distracted by all of the distractions on Amulet. After a couple months of pondering it, I decided to move my office to the back of the office building.

Tommy Covington was my partner in crime. He built the original books shelves and he graciously built shelves for my office move. I finished moving all the books last Friday. I estimate that I moved 3,800 books. That number does not include the books at home or the books at the church building proper. I love reading. I am surrounded by books. My small office is filled with them and the walls of the Conference Room are lined with them. Moving books is a solitary task. I know there is a Dewey Decimal system, but preachers have our own ways of ordering our books on the shelves

My books fall into two broad categories. The two categories are the pre 1981 books and the post 1981 books.

In 1981 I took a class at the seminary entitled The Parables of Jesus. One afternoon the professor was lecturing on the guy with all the barns. He had lots of barns. Then he had a great crop and he decided to pull down his copious barns and build more and bigger barns. The only problem was that death doesn’t pay any attention to our plans. The man died that night. What became of his barns and his crops?

The professor suggested the point of the parable was not about greed but about ownership. He then said something radical. He said, “Nothing in this life is yours.” To drive it home he continued, “You don’t own your books.”

You don’t tell seminary students their books don’t belong to them. We spent tons of money buying those books. We knew all the publishing houses that would give discounts to seminary students. This was New Orleans, on the weekends we haunted the used book stores in the French Quarter hoping some priest or minister had bit the dust and his widow or the bishop had taken his books to the used book stores. We all dreamed of landing the mother lode of used books from another minister.

Besides, my mom gave me a stamp that said, “From the library of Doug de Graffenried.” For my college graduation I receive an embossing stamp that said, “Personal property of Doug de Graffenried.” I wrote my name in my books. Then I double stamped my books to make sure that no sticky figured preacher type would borrow my books and not return them. Preachers are the only types who read preacher books. Would you read, Polarities of Man’s Existence in Biblical Perspective? Case closed!

My books were well stamped and protected. This seminary professor was full of exegetical bull. Those were my books! I had made all of those shelves out of cinder blocks and boards for my books.

That night, after my fuming subsided, I sat down to work on a paper for another class. One of the sources I cited was a commentary on the book of Romans published in 1811. It was one of my books. I had written my name in it. It was double stamped!

I looked at the page in the front of the book where I had placed my stamp. I am the fifth preacher to “own” this particular commentary on the book of Romans. The Bible speaks of a generation lasting for 40 years. It appears that preachers “own” their books for about a generation. The book on Romans obviously isn’t mine. I am using it while I pass through this journey called life.

Since that night in 1981 I have not written my name in any book I have purchased. These books I love. These books I have moved several times. These books are on loan to me. I am surrounded by reminders that I will take nothing with me. I came into the world with nothing but the love of God and I will leave this world with nothing but the love of God.

Funny thing about people who are controlled by their money and their things, those things controlling them don’t belong to them. Ben Franklin suggested that people who try to fill a vacuum with money and things often end up creating a vacuum that sucks them in. What happens when your things own you?

Isn’t that a strange way to go through life?

The Next Civil Rights Battle

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

I’ve maintained for a while that education is going to be the next big fight we have. Currently, foreign policy is a very big deal on the American stage as both ISIS and Iran continue to threaten the United States, and we currently have an administration that wishes to sweep all the bad things under the rug. I had a tendency a few years back to be sympathetic toward the current administration in the way they handled things. I wasn’t pleased, but I understood where they were coming from. Now, though, I really can’t see any other logic behind Barack Obama’s foreign policy other than “Make the world more stable by removing the U.S. as a major contender.”

All that said, I don’t think foreign policy will remain as dominant as it is right now. And, contrary to what the Trump fans will say, immigration will not remain a major issue, either. Neither, sadly, will the Affordable Care Act, which is currently set to keep causing premiums to rise.

No, education will be the next great battle we face in our nation, and all policy eyes will turn toward the candidates and to Washington D.C. to try and get things changed. I’m sure by now you’ve all picked up on the idea that Congress is not going to do anything meaningful for the next year and a half. So, we must turn to the candidates for a clearer picture of what the fight could look like.

Of course, it goes without saying that one of the big fights within the education debate will be about Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The two extremes of that fight can be seen in Jeb Bush (pro-CCSS) and Ted Cruz (anti-CCSS). As a teacher, I have become accepting, though still not completely supportive, of the CCSS movement, and given Bush’s record on education – very much a pro-school choice candidate and big into the education reform scene. Cruz, while a beloved fighter in D.C., is woefully divisive on an issue that would be so much better served nuanced (get rid of the federal Department of Education, allow states to adopt Common Core with better and more local control, etc.”). It’s not just the CCSS that will be an issue, though. School choice is going to be big as more and more parents see public schools failing to meet their children’s needs and they look for alternatives.

Education is very likely going to be our next big civil rights debate, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. My money is on the side of smaller government, as it’s big government that’s had control for so long and is actively destroying the education system.

The Happy Warrior

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

This past weekend, I got to see several presidential candidates live on stage and even get to meet with a few of them with a much smaller group than the nearly 1000 attendees of the annual RedState Gathering. Given the number of quality candidates in the Republican field, this election cycle is poised to be one that has a lot of focus and emphasis on ideas, which is great for the country as a whole.

One thing I would like to discuss, however, is what happens when we take this political stuff way too seriously. A modern-day icon of conservatism, Andrew Breitbart was hated by the Left and adored by the Right for his beliefs and the actions he took to further his cause. As I discussed in a recent post at RedState, I largely came into the political writing arena without ever having really witnessed Breitbart’s rise. However, many people who got to meet him and even know him well have become my friends in the meantime, and each one of them has something in common – like Breitbart, they have adopted the persona of the happy warrior.

The happy warrior is someone who can charge into a grim situation with a smile on his or her face, not letting the bleakness of a situation get him or her down. Far too often, we allow ourselves to get too wrapped up in politics, get too angry about what’s going on (or, in some cases, what isn’t going on), and we end up living miserably. People have become too slavishly devoted to their ideology and have rejected, often times, alternative views to the point where we get irrationally angry when they are brought up.

It is so important in this day and age – the age of social media and permanency on the Internet – to maintain a sense of humor. It’s important to not let ourselves get too wrapped up in ourselves and our “side.” My Twitter page (@JoePCunningham) is about 90% politics, sure. But the other 10% is me writing jokes, retweeting other jokes, or just chatting with the friends I’ve made through this whole process. I cannot imagine a more depressing life than being 100% devoted to politics. Not even politicians, consultants, and pundits do that.

Most importantly, it is key that we maintain faith in something other than ourselves and our opinions, and those of other people. Politics at times has become a golden calf at whose altar we worship rather than focusing our thanks and prayers toward God (or whatever deity you may believe in). If you choose to be invested in politics, I certainly don’t blame you. It’s interesting and compelling. However, never stop being a happy warrior as you fight for whatever cause you think is worth it. Life is too short to let yourself get too serious about something so fleeting as a political thought.

Ponderings with Doug – August 7, 2015

dougthumbI told Stephanie’s daughter all about the interstate exploits of her mother. If you didn’t read last week’s article you are lost as a he haint in high weeds. Stephanie and I spent quite a bit of time swapping yarns. I have several Stephanie stories. Her daughter got some insight into what mom was like “back when.”

Stephanie tried to do a back flip off of the bleachers at East Jefferson High School. She didn’t complete the flip. She landed on her arm and fractured it. She is famous for that adventure. She was rushed to the hospital by the school. Her dad was called. When he arrived in the ER he asked if Stephanie was being treated. Before the receptionist could answer, dad heard Stephanie using very loud very colorful language. He said, “Never mind, I hear her.” Of course half the church had shown up at the ER waiting room by this time to pray for the preacher’s kid. They were privy to her colorful language too. Sometimes there is nothing like being the parent of a preacher’s kid. You have to wonder where do preacher’s kids learn their words.

Stephanie and I also talked about her wedding. After all my Stephanie stories I had to do her wedding. It was glorious. I used my best matrimonial glue and so far it is sticking. She is all grown up now. She has a daughter in High School who doesn’t get away with anything, because of all the things her mom did. Stephanie is one of the big wigs at one of the hospitals in New Orleans. Her colleagues at work see her as cool, calm and professional.

Her life turned out better than her adolescence predicted.

She did tell me something sad while we were gabbing at her grandmother’s visitation.

She said, “I’m homeless.”

I knew she was not talking about her residence but her church.

She unfolded a story of not fitting in and the messages being “theological lectures with little point to them.” She is looking for a new home. I’ve known Stephanie for nearly 30 years. She is a ball of fire. She wants a church that will not extinguish the flame but encourage her to use that fire for Jesus.

Do you feel homeless, restless or tired? I know of a place where the ball of fire will not be extinguished and you will be home.

A Gathering of Candidates

Joe Cunningham, III

Joe Cunningham, III

Joe Cunningham is a conservative commentator, Front Page Editor at, and a teacher in south Louisiana. You can find him on Twitter at @joec_esquire.

This week will be a very interesting one, if you’re a political junkie. The first debate between the top ten Republican candidates takes place on Fox News. After that, a good number of the Republican candidates will be in Atlanta, Georgia, for the RedState Gathering, an annual convention of sorts hosted by one of the websites I’m a contributor at, During this week, candidates will be making their appeals to the public, some getting the most media attention they’ve gotten since their announcements, and they will be doing so before a crowd of grassroots, conservative activists.

The Republican field is an incredibly strong one for the first time in decades, providing Republican voters with many different, but not all bad, options. Ted Cruz, who I don’t expect will get the nomination, pushes the field to the right. Rand Paul pushes it libertarian. Marco Rubio adds an element of foreign policy expertise. Rick Perry has the most successful record of any of the governors in the race (and is not the same Rick Perry we saw in 2012 – he’s much better this go ‘round).

Even our own Bobby Jindal, should he decide to get back to what he’s best at, brings an in-depth knowledge of healthcare and energy policy to the table.

And, this doesn’t even touch on what some of the others bring. There are some candidates that are not popular with conservatives. Jeb Bush comes to mind, but he is not the worst thing Republicans could put forward.

There is a catch to this weekend’s event, something that RedState editor Erick Erickson made sure was a focal point of the event: Candidates are going to be speaking about their plans for the future of the United States. They have been asked, and most have agreed to this, to not attack President Barack Obama in their presentations. This event is not about the past, but about the future, and these candidates have to lay out their visions for the future this weekend.

This week provides Republican voters, and the voting public at large, the chance to see if they are getting their money’s worth when it comes to potential leaders. Events like these offer the rare opportunity to take an active part in learning a bit about the men (and women!) who want to be President of the United States of America. It is a chance for us, the voter, to begin looking into the souls of these candidates and choosing which ones we want to see make it.

Take the time this Thursday through Saturday to see and hear what these candidates have to say about the state of the country.