Thursday, May 19, 2016

A MAJOR SHAKE UP NEEDED IN CONGRESS?


Baton Rouge, Louisiana

A MAJOR SHAKE UP NEEDED IN CONGRESS?

With a national election only months away, the approval rate for members of Congress seems to be in free fall.  Few constituents approve of the dysfunction taking place in the nation’s capitol.  Just 10 years ago, Congress had an approval rating of 65%.  But no more.  The most recent Harris and CBS polls show approval rates dropping to an all-time low of 9%.  Like the guy sings in the Limbo Rock song, “How low can you go?”

Let me tell you just how bad it is.  More Americans approve of polygamy than they do of Congress in Washington. At the height of the Gulf oil spill, BP had a shockingly low 16% approval rating.  Even Paris Hilton has a 15% approval rating.  And would you believe that 11% of those surveyed are OK with America becoming Communist?  Just about every low-life trend or person you can think of does better than the legislators you and I send up to Washington.

When these polls are taken, there usually is a distinction between how voters view their own congressman compared to how they view Congress as a whole.  But even that favorable local feeling is dropping. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed a strong majority of voters want to clean house, including their own congressman.

How can the system dispense with the prevalent influence of lobbyists on legislators?  One suggestion is to bring our congressmen home.  The idea was suggested recently on my syndicated weekly radio program by Tea Party founder Jenny Beth Martin from Atlanta, who was named by Time Magazine as the 15th most influential world leader a few years back.  Jenny Beth simply wants to get Congress “out of Washington and back to the people.”  She proposes that we use the new technology of telecommunications to create a “virtual Congress.”

The lady makes good sense. She suggests that elected officials spend more time in their communities. Constituents should be the ones with fulltime access to their members of Congress, and lobbyists should be the ones forced to stand “with their hats in their hands in order to gain access.” She further makes the point that if millions of Americans can telecommute, why can’t members of Congress attend committee meetings by video conference?  If I can regularly Skype my grandkids, why can’t my congressman add the big screen to his or her office, tune in meetings, the go back to handling problems of constituents right out of the home district?

During the time following the American Revolution, it was necessary for the original Congress to meet under one roof.  Should a twenty-first century legislature be constrained by eighteenth-century technology? Why should congressional members have to rush away from their constituencies back to Washington just to cast votes? Shouldn’t they belong in close proximity with those who elected them, not at high priced cocktail parties in Washington at the behest of rich special interest promoters?

As it is now, we might catch a glimpse of our members of Congress when they are interviewed on television.  How refreshing it would be to see your congressman at various school events, or run into him or her at your local coffee shop.  As Jenny Beth told me: “Back in their districts most of the time, these congressmen will be surrounded by skeptical constituents, rather than fawning supplicants. And they’ll continually have to justify any political decision they make that’s contrary to the will of the voters.”

But there’s nothing more important than reestablishing a closer relationship between the congressman and the people he or she represents.  In the old days, it was called “retail politics.” A handshake and face-to-face interaction.  Let a voter blow off steam, or bring up what could be a good idea.

There is no patent for good “common sense” emanating from Washington these days.  So come back home congressman, and listen and learn from those who elected you. Maybe, just maybe, your popularity will rise above being a polygamist.

*******

“Members of Congress should be compelled to wear uniforms like NASCAR drivers, so we could identify their corporate sponsors.”
Caroline Baum

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.






Members of Congress should be


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

TOO MUCH POLITICAL CORRECTNESS!


Thursday, May 12th, 2016
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

TOO MUCH POLITICAL CORRECTNESS!

I don’t know about you, but I sure am confused about all this current debate over gender equity, gay rights, and transgenders. I keep reading in the newspaper about LGBT.  I had to look up the lettering to even know what the abbreviation means.  Being “politically correct” has become an obsession with much of the country.

Now personally, I don’t have a dog in this hunt. Carry on your personal lifestyle as long as you don’t interfere with my way of life or my personal freedoms. Live and let live.  But too often today, one lifestyle interferes with that of another.  If a baker is in business to make a living, why turn down anyone who wants a cake baked for his or her wedding?  On the other hand, if it’s a gay wedding and the baker refuses to bake a wedding cake, why would the gay couple want to do business with someone they consider bigoted?

And this whole transgender bathroom thing?  How did transgenders go to the bathroom for the past 100 years?  I never really check out someone using the stall next to me.  And why all the need for separate men and women’s bathrooms in the first place?  Many restaurants in New Orleans have one bathroom for either sex to use. Have you gone to a sporting event and seen a long line for women and none for men? Architects ought to be more creative in designing safe and clean restrooms that can be more efficiently shared by everyone.

I wrote in my column last week about the hypocrisy of hate crimes.  Why should any criminal be given a greater sentence because he or she committed crimes based on race, sexuality, sexual identity, or physical ability?  If a child is tortured and murdered, is that to be considered less of a crime than if an Asian or a handicapped person is killed?  Political correctness should not be a factor.

In Natchitoches, Louisiana this past Christmas, a school principal was suspended for allowing a student-led prayer to take place. There was no sponsorship by the school. The students were just allowed to pray.  But this wasn’t politically correct in this day and age.  Kids can pray under their breath but not out loud?  Nonsense!

I wanted to order the wonderful Disney film “Song of the South” recently to watch with my grandchildren. Remember all those enticing songs like “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” and “That’s What Uncle Remus Said?” Uncle Remus was an American Aesop, full of delightful stories (“Don’t throw me into the briar patch”). But the film has been out of circulation since 2000 because some critics say it glorifies slavery, even though the story takes place years after the Civil War. But not to offend anyone, so our kids miss out on a delightful tale of magical fables.

And for goodness sake, don’t attempt to bless anyone if they sneeze or for any other purpose.  Up in New Hampshire, an election worker was recently fired for telling voters as they left the voting booth “God bless you.”  It was supposedly a form of electioneering. I guess election officials were afraid a voter might have so disconcerted over the candidates running that they might go back into the voting booth and vote for the Good Lord instead.

A person can be sensitive to how others might feel without worrying that their every utterance may cause someone to take offense.  Some of us feel it necessary to be more politically correct than do others.  But a vibrant and strong country is only as courageous and agile as the sum of its parts. 

I’m willing to go just so far to appease the P.C. crowd.  Look, I’m a redneck, not someone who is rustically inclined. And we are always going to have hurricanes down here in Louisiana, not himmicanes. Sometimes, things are said where you take personal offense. But we can also go overboard by assuming a “victim mentality.” You can be polite, but in doing so, you don’t have to shy away from telling it like it is.

*******

“Being Politically Correct means always having to say you're sorry.”
Charles Osgood

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.






Thursday, May 05, 2016

HATE CRIMES IN AMERICA!


Thursday, May 5th, 2016
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

HATE CRIMES IN AMERICA!

There are new laws that are roaring through the legislatures throughout the country.   Any physical attack on a law enforcement officer, firefighter or emergency services personnel will now be considered a hate crime.

So what’s a hate crime you ask?  If someone is premeditatedly shot and killed, that’s generally murder.  When you’re dead, you are dead, and there is a strong penalty for that; generally life or the death penalty.  But hate crime supporters want more than justice. They want vengeance.

Under many current state laws, one can be charged with a hate crime if the crime was motivated by hatred involving race, religion, national origin, color or sexual preference.  Penalties for crimes against these groups already exist, but under the law such crimes are enhanced by what’s in the perpetrator’s mind.  In the Four Lads song, Standing on The Corner, Watching All The Girls Go By, there is the lyric, “Brother, you can’t go to jail for what you’re thinking.” Well, in the case of hate laws, apparently you can.

Having deeply troubling concerns over a thought police is nothing new.  George Orwell’s novel 1984 paints a disturbing and chilling scenario where one can be accused of a crime, arrested and prosecuted merely for thoughts in your mind. “The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed… the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime they called it… Sooner or later they were bound to get you.”

Have you ever gotten so mad and pent up that you went into a rage and said things you really didn’t mean?  “That sorry, no count blank, blankity blank!  I’ll get even with him!” Have you ever used a racial slur? Oh, no, you say.  But then, upon reflection, maybe you did once or twice.  Does that make you a racist?

If there is supposed to be equal justice under the law, shouldn’t the punishment be based on the crime, and not on who the victim is?  If a deranged killer opens fire in a shopping mall, is this less of a crime than a maniac opening fire in a club filled with African-Americans or gays? 

What the lawmakers are telling us is that when a life is taken, the state will now make a determination that the lives of one particular group have greater value than the lives of another group. Lawmakers are saying that the life of a brutally murdered small child is not worth as much as the life of a first responder. Isn’t it a fundamental principle of a democracy that the punishment fits the crime, not the victim?

Ayn Rand wrote about the divisiveness that takes place when preferences are given under the law.  “There is no sure way to infect mankind with hatred – brute, blind, virulent hatred – than by splitting it into ethnic groups or tribes.”

Freedom in America means the freedom to have bad thoughts.  I may not like what you are thinking, but ideas alone should not be a crime.  A criminal should be punished for bad acts, not bad thoughts.  James Madison said it well: “We have extinguished forever the ambitious hope of making the laws for the human mind.”

When it comes to crime, there should be a protected class that gets full safeguards from the criminal justice system.  That protected class should be all Americans.  And all Americans should be treated equally.

*******

“Because federal hate-crime laws criminalize thoughts, they are incompatible with a free society.”
Ron Paul

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.





Thursday, April 28, 2016

VOTER DISTRUST IN LOUISIANA AND ACROSS THE NATION!


Thursday, April 28th, 2016
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


VOTER DISTRUST IN LOUISIANA AND ACROSS THE NATION!

And I thought voters were distrustful, angry and confrontational a few years back when I held public office in Louisiana.  This coming federal election is viewed by many, including yours truly, as a herculean and rather grim battle between good and evil, left and right, the good guys and the scum, Wormwood and the Patient, and Saint Michael vs. Satan.  But guess what?  There could be no victors.  We all could lose on November 8th.

Recently in the nation’s capital, I participated in the Washington Ideas Forum sponsored by the Atlantic Magazine, and there was a strong consensus of the current national mood.  Remember the movie “Christmas Vacation?”  The hero is surprised by a Christmas bonus of a subscription to the Jelly-of-the-Month Club.  His reaction reflects what many voters think of those elected officials representing them:  “Cheap, lying no good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, over-stuffed, ignorant, bloodsucking, dog-kissing, brainless, hopeless, heartless, worm headed sack of monkey bleep!”  You get my drift.

The average voter is looked on by these politico wondercan’ts as being too dumb to understand what the issues are all about.  We are the Rodney Dangerfields of the political process, and we don’t get any respect. The Washington crowd has all the answers, and your and my opinions have become irrelevant.

“Goldfinger” is my favorite Bond (James Bond) movie.  Remember when Bond (James Bond) is tied down on a table with a laser beam about to be cut in half, and he tells the bad guy, “You expect me to talk?”  Goldfinger answers:  “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.  There is nothing you can talk to me about that I don’t already know.”  That reflects the attitude of too many members of Congress who think they have all the answers, spend our tax dollars putting the country all the more in debt, and then look on those peons back home as irrelevant to their personal “get me elected” agenda.

One example of our delusional leadership is what’s happening in the Middle East.  Don’t you remember?  We are at war there and have assumed a massive expenditure in dollars and American lives.  The financial cost is approaching three trillion dollars, and the weekly military expenditures are running $2 billion a week. Yet you will not find a congressional campaign anywhere in the country that acknowledges the mess that has been created.

I once had the chance to visit in Washington with Ahmed Chalabi, who was the leader of the Iraqi National Congress and the former Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq.  He talked of the bitterness of many Iraqis towards the U.S.  “We wanted a provisional government after the demise of Hussein. The Americans wanted occupation. We thought America would be liberators, but instead they became occupiers.”

Then he said something quite disturbing. “The vast majority of Arabs think the 9/11 tragedy was instigated within the U.S.  You are the strongest country in the world.  It’s hard for many Arabs to believe that 19 young men with box cutters could do so much harm to America.” 

The U.S. spends billions on Middle Eastern oil, and the proceeds get funneled to the very enemy American soldiers are fighting. We seem to be at war with our allies, and the U.S. is the only country in the history of the world to pay for both sides of the fight.

We are decades away from peace in that region, the cost is staggering to our economy, yet not a word, not a suggestion, and not a voice of concern is being raised by any candidate in my home state of Louisiana or nationwide.

So the choices get tougher as Election Day approaches. Do you throw the present bums out, and end up with new bums?  Like the Who song says: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”  It looks like a crapshoot folks. There is a lack of any strong will to address what ails this nation by candidates on both sides of the isle.  So if you roll the dice, unfortunately, you may lose either way.

                                                                              *****

“We are angry about our incompetent, dysfunctional government that pays no attention to the desires of the people.”  Carl Paladino

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.