Sunday, February 19, 2017

WHY AREN’T WE THE GREATEST GENERATION?


Baton Rouge, Louisiana
WHY AREN’T WE THE GREATEST GENERATION?
Former NBC newscaster Tom Brokaw wrote a book a few years back about what he called “The Greatest Generation.” In contrast, there’s a recent best seller out calling America “the dumbest generation.” And since Louisiana is at the bottom of the barrel on most national lists, you can imagine how folks in the Bayou State are viewed.
With all the tools of modern technology supplying us with a 24/7 information overload, and the opportunities for intellectual development at an all time high, why aren’t we making a run at being “the greatest generation?” What conditions existed 70 years ago that set apart those who fought in World War II and those who volunteered at home?
There’s no doubt that these men and women of the1940s were resourceful, hardworking and deeply committed to giving extraordinary service to their country. As Brokaw writes: “They came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War and went on to build modern America – men and women whose everyday lives of duty, honor, achievement and courage gave us the world we have today.”
But do we instill these same values now? Or does today’s generation value lifestyle over success?  In his book, The Dumbest Generation, Mark Bauerlein has little hope for today’s youth. Bauerlein views our young people as “Ignorant of politics and government, art and music, prose and poetry. The dumbest generation is content to turn up their iPods and tune out the realities of the adult world. It is brash, pampered, dumb — and content to stay that way.”
What has happened to the leadership that was charged with instilling these traditional values? Where is the call for sacrifice, volunteerism and “pitching in” for the greater good? The idea of sacrifice seems old-fashioned in our modern times. Self-sacrifice is so out-of-tune that we’ve turned upside down President Kennedy’s moral challenge: “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”
Today, many Americans consider self-sacrifice to be something only for suckers and losers. Even our “public servants” often leave office much richer than when they took office, or at least having used their government service as merely a stepping-stone to a much higher paying job in the private sector. For many, Kennedy’s words have been rewritten: “Ask not what you can do for yourselves or your country, but what your country can do for you.” Who can forget President Bush’s advice after 9/11 that the best way to support our country was to “relax and go shopping.”
New Louisiana U.S. Senator John Kennedy recently suggested that every public official in the state spend a little time teaching in local classrooms –it’s a good idea that would inspire many young people. When he proposed it to a newly created Commission to Streamline Government in Louisiana, his suggestion was summarily dismissed as unworkable and not practical.
Public officials in Louisiana, from the governor on down, are missing a great opportunity by not calling for more volunteer public service. Teaching in classrooms, giving time to help in hospitals and daycare centers, volunteering at the local food bank, a homeless shelter, the Red Cross, animal shelters, teaching adult literacy. There are so many heart- warming opportunities to help, to give back.
With due respect and admiration to Tom Brokaw, I don’t believe any one generation can take credit for being “the greatest.” Things happen. History is recorded. History gets interpreted. Subsequent generations reinterpret it.
At the dedication ceremonies for new attractions at the World War II museum in New Orleans, Corporal Carl Grassman, a highly-decorated veteran, was invited as a special guest. He lives with his wife in Detroit, and he works as a Walmart greeter. When told he would be honored at the museum and his travel expenses would be paid, he declined saying his fellow employees needed him too much and that he would feel terrible if he left them for this one day to be so commemorated. When the Walmart brass heard this story, they flew Carl and his wife to New Orleans on the Walmart private jet.
There are millions like Corporal Grassman who do their jobs each day and want to do even more to help their communities, their states and their country. They’re just waiting for leaders to give them direction and set out a game plan so that they too can lay claim to being one of the “greatest generations.”
The Greatest Generation got to save old tires, dig a Victory Garden and forgo sugar. The Richest Generation is being asked to The Greatest Generation got to save old tires, dig a Victory Garden and forgo sugar. The Richest Generation is being asked to shop.
Margaret Carlson
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 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.








Friday, February 10, 2017

WHAT WOULD YOU ASK PRESIDENT TRUMP?


Baton Rouge, Louisiana

WHAT WOULD YOU ASK PRESIDENT TRUMP?

If you could sit down with our new president, what would questions would you ask him? What insights would you be looking for?  What knowledge would you expect him to have?  And just how much difference do you think he can really make?

Most likely, the nation’s financial problems would be at the top of anyone’s list.  “It’s the economy, stupid,” says the Ragin’ Cajun, James Carville.  But can a president really make that much difference in solving the country’s economic woes?

Here’s what Austin Goolsbee, a former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers says:  I think the world vests too much power — certainly in the president, probably in Washington in general — for its influence on the economy, because most all of the economy has nothing to do with the government.”

Most economists would agree that both congress and the president can do significant damage to the economy by irresponsible spending – like two multi-billion dollar wars with no plan for how to pay for them, the massive bailouts for banks, and the billions poured into auto and insurance companies because they were “too big to fail.”  In a global economy, holding the president accountable for a country’s economic woes may be a good tactic for the political opposition, but don’t expect a “changing of the guard” to bring about any dramatic difference.

So if economic growth is subject to the whims of other world economies, just what else would you like to ask the president?  I hope not the same old rhetorical questions that we have heard posed by the press in debate after debate. What would you “really” like to ask?  How about:

America has the highest total prison population in the world (My home state of Louisiana is, by a large margin, number one.)  Why is this so, and what can you and congress do about it?

More laws you say? But the U.S. has more laws on its books than any other country. Over 5000 federal criminal laws alone. When the constitution was initially adopted, four crimes were listed. Four. Treason, bribery, piracy and counterfeiting.  Are all these 5000 criminal laws now on the books necessary?  Here are a few examples.

Did you know that it is a federal crime to deal in the interstate transport of unlicensed dentures?  For this you get one year in jail. How about a six-month jail sentence for pretending to be a member of the 4-H club?  You can get six months for degrading the character of Woodsy Owl, or his associated slogan: “Give a hoot — don’t pollute.” 

And you will love this one.  It’s a federal crime to disrupt a rodeo. Now down here in Louisiana, we love our rodeos to be orderly.  But a federal crime?  Give us a break.

Mr. President, how about the fact that the U.S. is the world’s leader in the production of pornography and is the world’s leader in the use of illicit drugs?  Does U.S. leadership in these fields concern you? These problems were never mentioned during the recent campaign.

Americans are the most obese people in the world and are getting fatter. And you and I, as taxpayers, are covering the billions in healthcare costs for this obesity epidemic. Does government have a role in determining eating lifestyles and what the food industry can produce and sell? Should nutrition requirements be set for school lunchrooms? It’s our tax dollars, and I say yes. Cut out the pizza and hot dogs. And trans fats? It’s poison. Get it out of all of our foods. Again, many of us are sick and tired of having to pay the healthcare costs of so many irresponsible adults and the industries that produce and promote these seriously harmful foods. What do you say, Mr. President?

Americans are a pretty savvy lot who realize that our way of life needs to change and that certain sacrifices have to be made.  Our leaders on the national level can do only so much.  But if we as Americans are being shortchanged, it’s time to talk specifics and come down off the platitudes of campaign rhetoric that is presently dominating the current political debate.  We deserve better. 

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You have to think anyway, so why not think big?
Donald Trump

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 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.












Thursday, February 02, 2017

NO CHANCE OF SUPREME COURT CHOICE FROM LOUISIANA!


Baton Rouge, Louisiana
NO CHANCE OF SUPREME COURT CHOICE FROM LOUISIANA!
Before President Trump made his choice to fill the vacancy on the United States Supreme Court, the White House undertook a nationwide search. But by even the widest stretch of standards to be met by any nominee, one thing was pretty clear from the start. No judge serving on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans was given the slightest consideration.
It’s true that the Fifth Circuit is heavy laden with Republican appointees. And being a federal court of appeals judge has become almost a prerequisite to ascend up to the Supreme Court. Every present judge on the current Court was elevated from the federal court of appeals system.
The Fifth Circuit regularly leads all appeals courts throughout the country in its decisions being over turned by the U.S. Supreme Court. In an expose’ of the Fifth Circuit’s recent rulings, the Times Picayune quoted both Justices on the Supreme Court as well as prominent law professors who regularly lambasted verdicts handed down in New Orleans. University of Houston law professor David Dow said it seems clear that the Supreme Court “has lost confidence in the Fifth Circuit’s handling of capital cases.” And  retired Justice Sandra Day O’Conner was equally blunt in criticizing the Fifth Circuit saying it was “paying lip service to principles of jurisprudence and that often the Fifth’s reasoning “has no foundation in the decisions of this court.”
Here are just a few of the headlines about the dysfunction that seems to be in the fabric of 5th Circuit judges.
Fifth Circuit Covers Up Serious Judicial Misconduct!
Another Conflict of Interest Uncovered on the Fifth Circuit!
Judicial Diva Gone Wild?  Chief Judge Tells Fellow Judge to “Shut Up!”
Chief Judge Attacks Fellow Judge!
Pattern of Misconduct Demands Full Investigation of Fifth Circuit Judges!
5th Circuit Judge Throws A Hissy Fit!
It’s a shame for those who have to deal with the Fifth Circuit that its standing is so soiled and that the reputation of some of its members has degenerated to the point of such serious criticism. During the civil rights era, Louisiana federal judges like John Minor Wisdom, J. Skelly Wright and Albert Tate were held in high regard nationally. Their work was admired and quoted in the nation’s best law schools. But with such a mediocre judicial stature today, Louisiana won’t be in the running for one of its own to move up to the nation’s highest court.
Federal court watchers have a name for federal judges who lack the scholarship, the temperament, the learning, and are simply in the wrong occupation. They are called “gray mice.” It seems pretty obvious that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is full of such critters. Unfortunately, there is not much, short of impeachment, the disciplinary system can do about them. But the court’s continuing incompetence places one more stain on the reputation of Louisiana.
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Judges are the weakest link in our system of justice, and they are also the most protected.
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 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.




 





Thursday, January 26, 2017

KEYSTONE PIPELINE: LOUISIANA’S ECONOMIC SAVIOR?


Thursday, January 26th, 2017
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

KEYSTONE PIPELINE: LOUISIANA’S ECONOMIC SAVIOR?

One of the new President’s first actions announced this week is to support the building of the Keystone XL pipeline that the Obama administration had disapproved. Both Louisiana senators hailed the decision and talked about all the new jobs that will come to the Bayou State. But is building the pipeline such a huge job creator and economic bonanza for Louisiana?

For those readers who have been out of the loop as to what Keystone is all about, here’s a short summary. Canada is proposing the building of a pipeline some 875 miles from Western Canada down to Nebraska, where it would then tie in to other U.S. pipelines. More than 830,000 barrels of oil a day would then flow down to the Gulf Coast for refining and exportation. But the U.S. has to give approval, since the pipeline crosses international borders.

Those opposing the project fear major environmental damage, as the pipeline is being built and maintained. Not so, I say. Remember, Louisiana is crisscrossed by over 10,000 miles of pipeline with only minor environmental problems. I’m not talking about damages that have destroyed large portions of marshlands by drilling for oil and gas. These are the buried pipelines that take refined petroleum up to the east coast.

Right now, a large number of petroleum products are transported to the Midwest and West Coast by rail and truck. There is probably more ecological risk with land transportation than with pipelines. Environmentally, I just don’t see that great a risk.  

For the past several years, the Louisiana congressional delegation has proclaimed that 50,000 jobs or more will be created, and adds assertions that gasoline prices will drop at the pump with more oil that can be refined on the Gulf Coast. But is there any validity to the claims of all the benefits that will come to Louisiana?  Absolutely not.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported recently that an eleven-volume report prepared by the State Department concludes the Keystone Pipeline would create (are you ready) 35 permanent jobs. Thirty-Five jobs and not a single one in Louisiana. So the claims of thousands of jobs flooding into the Bayou State, as both candidates contend, are nothing more than a pipe dream.

How about their claims that all this new Canadian oil will actually lower the price of a gallon of gas? Again, not true. What few realize is that Canadian oil, called tar sands crude, is already being imported into the United States, primarily by rail in tank cars, at a rate of more than 3 million barrels a day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This Canadian oil is being processed in Midwestern refineries, the largest being the Flint Hills refinery in Pine Bend, Minnesota, owned by the Koch Brothers. Numerous other refineries are spread from Minnesota across the west to Montana.

Most of this Midwestern oil is presently sold to U.S. consumers. So the more oil we keep here in the U.S., the lower the price at the pump. Where will the Keystone oil go? To Texas, to be refined and shipped overseas. That means less oil in the U.S., and a higher price to U.S. consumers.

The bottom line is this. The Keystone pipeline, if approved, will have no bearing on jobs or economic development in Louisiana. It might even cause the price Louisiana consumers pay at the pump to go up. Telling those of us living down here in the Bayou State any differently is just more political smoke and mirrors. If congress wants to approve the project to land a few more jobs in Texas, so be it. But in Louisiana, how about more straight talk and less political distortions and gibberish?

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Exaggeration is to paint a snake and add legs. ~Proverb

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 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.