Sunday, August 26, 2012

Romney Just Cannot Get a Break!

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
For months during the Republican presidential primary campaign, Mitt Romney has tried to focus the debate on economic issues.  He has continually argued that the campaign should be about the economy and job creation.  “Bill Clinton beat George Bush by talking about only the economy,” he would argue.  But try as he did during the campaign season, his cohorts, also seeking the Republican nomination, kept bringing up those nasty social issues.
But now that he’s the Republican nominee, Mitt is calling the shots and controlling the GOP agenda.  He’s on the attack and seems to be doing a pretty good job of keeping the Democrats on the defensive.  But there’s just one problem.  Romney’s Achilles heel is Republican members of congress, including his new vice presidential nominee, who keep undermining what Romney hopes to be a disciplined conservative economic agenda.
The unemployment rate is 8.3%, which is terrible news for the President and the Democrats.  But day after day, we hear the accusations and countercharges over the Ryan budget, proposed cuts in social security and Medicare, and whether Mitt Romney is a tax cheat or a cold hearted corporate executive that ripped away American jobs and sent them overseas.  Could it get any worse?  Well, yes!
Earlier this week, news broke that some 30 Republican congressmen along with a number of staff members had taken off on a junket to Israel, led by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA).  Also in the number was Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). So two of the three top house Republicans were along for the trip, paid for by the American Israel Educational Foundation.  The organization spent some $10,000 for each of the some 60 attendees on the trip.  Not too surprising, you say, since such junkets, although quite questionable from an ethical standpoint, are par for the course in the nation’s capitol.
But the Holy Sea of Galilee proved tempting for these stalwart protectors of the public interest. After an admitted night of late drinking, a number of congressmen and staff members stripped and plunged into the waters.  And not to be outdone by his colleagues, California congressman Kevin Yoder, from a conservative district in Kansas, stripped completely and dove into the Sea where Jesus walked on water.  The press commentary was incessant all week.  And poor Mitt was stuck with his party’s indiscretions.  Strike one for the candid
Abortion has never been a comfortable issue for Romney.  He is pro life but with the exceptions of rape, incest, and the endangerment of the life of the mother, so he follows the more moderate anti-abortion view. Now that he has the nomination, it’s a subject that for Romney, the less said the better.  But that was before “all hell broke loose” midweek, when Missouri Republican Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin blew the lid off what should have been a reasonable pro-life response.
Akin was quizzed about his stand on abortion by a local Fox TV station in St. Louis. He ignited a firestorm when he answered: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”  He concluded that women rarely get pregnant when they are “legitimately raped.” Huh?  I’m a lawyer and never knew there was such a thing as “legitimate” rape. The general GOP response was utter panic.  “DEFCON 5, panic for the rest of the ticket, with major intervention needed.”  The perennial pro-life gang could not abandon Akin quick enough, calling for his immediate withdrawal from the race as Republicans went into full damage control.  Strike two for Romney.
But hang on Mitt.  There is Paul Ryan to settle the waters as the stronghold of financial sanity and the provider of conservative unity to the debate.  Isn’t Ryan the white knight to bring the campaign focus back to jobs and the economy?  Ryan’s rhetoric about the urgency of cutting back on federal spending is music to the GOP’s ears. But wait! Ryan’s voting record in Washington is a mishmash of federal largess. Romney doesn’t have to worry as much about being labeled a flip flopper now that Ryan’s in the picture. Ryan’s fiscal record shows he is right up there with Mitt on that account.
Ronald Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman, says this about Ryan’s fiscal conservatism:  “Mr. Ryan showed his conservative mettle in 2008 when he folded like a lawn chair on the auto bailout and the Wall Street bailout.  But the greater hypocrisy is his phony “plan” to solve the entitlements mess by deferring changes to social insurance by at least a decade. The supposedly courageous Ryan plan would not cut one dime over the next decade from the $1.3 trillion-per-year cost of Social Security and Medicare.”
Year after year, when the budget ceiling was raised, Ryan always voted “yes.”  He favored and supported TARP, and most of the recent stimulus giveaways.  In fact, he signed numerous letters seeking stimulus funds for his district, even though he called the stimulus program a “wasteful spending spree.”  When George Bush proposed a similar stimulus plan in 2002, putting checks in the mail to millions of Americans, Ryan took the mike on the House floor to give his strong support.  But that was then, before the Democrats took over.  So Romney’s choice of Ryan to help him keep the focus on the economy and jobs, has put Romney himself on the defensive.  Strike three?  Well, not quite yet.
This election is far from over.  There are three presidential debates, and a host of opportunities for Romney to articulate his specific strategy for job creation.  So far, he has not been all that precise  on the subject.  Romney has yet to answer the question:  “Can government really invoke sensible programs to create jobs in the private sector?”  And it’s probably about time for a few Democrats to shoot themselves in the foot and deter their party’s efforts for unity. So Romney certainly still has a shot.
In the weeks remaining before Election Day, Romney is going to have to find some way to turn the focus of the electorate back on the economy.  It’s not the most important issue for him… it’s the only one if he hopes to have any chance of winning in November.
Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody.
Franklin P. Adams

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers and websites throughout the nation.  You can read all of his past columns and see continuing updates at  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am until 11 am central time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at

Saturday, August 18, 2012

No National Stage for Louisiana Governor!

Thursday, August 16th, 2012
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
A year ago he was an intriguing possible choice. Key Romney operatives were putting Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on their “watch list.” The young Bayou State’s chief executive had conservative stalwarts like Rush Limbaugh and Bill Krystol praising his strong credentials that qualified him to become the Republican vice presidential nominee of choice. But when all was said and done, Jindal‘s actions and inactions rapidly relegated him to a list of second tier candidates.
After locking up the Republican nomination, the Romney camp did nothing to dampen the Jindal for V.P. talk. After all, they had a committed surrogate criss-crossing the county, rallying the conservative base on Romney’s behalf. Until the final decision was made to pick Paul Ryan, many conservatives were still somewhat leery of Romney’s conservative credentials. So it helped for Jindal to believe he was still a contender and keep a steady pace of appearances on Romney’s behalf. But the decision to eliminate Jindal as a serious contender had been made months ago.
Jindal as a V.P. choice was much more exciting to a number of presidential candidates in August of 2011. He is young, energetic, and well educated as southern governors go. He is a second generation American with ethnic ties that are certainly needed by a national party that is 90% white. Jindal had become a bulldog in recent years regularly attacking President Obama on issues ranging from healthcare to the BP oil spill. Yes, to some, he still had a “Kenneth the Page” problem after his disastrous response to the President’s State of the Union speech in 2009. But that was a long time ago, and one speech does not a political career break.
Jindal’s initial stumble, and it was a big one, was the endorsement of Texas Governor Rick Perry. Perry was seen from the get go as a 4th of July rocket that would soon flame out as he tripped over his own words. And flame out he did. Had Bobby Jindal made an informed decision that Perry was the best the Republicans had to offer? Or was it more a case of Jindal being an opportunist interested in building a future base for himself, to tap into Texas campaign funds? Either way, his judgment and his loyalty were put into question. Jindal’s intentions were uncertain to other presidential candidates, and particularly to Romney who just didn’t like Perry.
As the Washington Post put it: “After all, one of the most critical factors in a successful VP pick is a relationship with and loyalty to the nominee. Romney has to know that whoever he picks for his vice president will subjugate their own personal feelings and interests for the good of the ticket. Jindal could be a question mark on that front. Not only did he endorse Perry in the primaries but he is someone who quite clearly has considerable national ambitions of his own. Romney has to pick someone who he knows will stay loyal no matter how bad things look at any given moment.”
Louisiana is generally listed at the bottom or near the bottom of a number of “quality of life” lists. Jindal’s fix for this has been to mount an aggressive public relations campaign. But his failure to propose a cohesive master plan for the ongoing development of his home state doesn’t fit with Romney who is a trained business workout specialist who prides himself on setting specific goals with a detailed agenda, and he has consistently gravitated towards colleagues who share that philosophy. And this was another factor in the sidelining of Jindal as a candidate. In accordance with Romney’s philosophy, his pick of Paul Ryan, The Wisconsin congressman who has invested a massive amount of time with his staff developing his, “Roadmap for America’s Future,” makes perfect sense.
Jindal had an early opportunity to set out his specific goals for both his home state as well as the country. But he failed to seize the moment. Ryan’s plan, whether one’s agrees with it or not, presents a long-range view towards setting the country on a firmer financial footing. Jindal would rather deal with problems that are here and now. This just isn’t Mitt Romney’s cup of tea.
Foreign policy experience or the lack of it, is yet another factor in the derailing of Jindal’s V.P. ambitions.  Current Vice President Joe Biden has an extensive international background as the onetime chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A candidate with little international background such as Jindal would be open to heavy criticism. As the Wall Street Journal said last week:“Our economic troubles are connected to the world’s, and our global military footprint remains significant. At any moment, the nation’s attention -- and the campaign’s -- can be hijacked by a foreign crisis.”
As House Budget Committee chairman, Ryan has travelled and spoken extensively about foreign policy. He formed the Middle East Caucus in the early 2000’s, and has been active in negotiating numerous free trade agreements. 
The Washington Examiner asked Ryan how his foreign policy experiences have prepared him to serve as Vice President. “When asked how he keeps up on events in Syria and Mexico, for instance, Ryan said matter-of-factly ‘I go there…That’s probably where most of my travels have gone. I was in Afghanistan last December; I’ve been there a few times.’”
On the other hand, Jindal has not left the country since being elected as governor. He has set out on not one trade mission to attract new business opportunities to Louisiana. Jindal’s lack of initiative in regard to India, his ancestral home, is particularly vexing to a number of Louisiana businessmen who would like the chance for trade openings with the world’s fastest growing democracy. A former U.S. Senator from Louisiana told a group in Washington last year that he had made repeated requests to organize a trade mission to India with Jindal leading the way. He received no response. Jindal passed on the chance to open up trade opportunities for his home state, and also to develop his own foreign policy experience as well.
The U.S. relationship with Pakistan is deteriorating, and India is becoming a key ally in protecting American interests in the Middle East. Jindal, with the right legwork during the past five years he has served as governor, could have developed into an important point man on foreign policy as Vice President, with a special capacity for working with Pakistan to decrease the ill will building between us and them. But, again, he has failed to seize the opportunities that were right in front of him.
At 41, Jindal is still young and he will have future openings for his national ambitions. But one just does not rise up and run for national office without building a strong foundation. Paul Ryan did his digging and brick laying. Jindal should come back home and do the same.
“The man with the best job in the country is the vice-president. All he has to do is get up every morning and say,‘How is the president?’”

Will Rogers

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 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

How About the Country of Louisiana?

Thursday, August 9, 2012
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Sarah Palin seems to be back in vogue, and she’s barnstorming the country supporting, with a good measure of success, a number of Tea Party candidates. Her latest success is Texan, Ted Cruse, who last week won the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in the Longhorn state. And she continues to advocate states rights, and even secession, for states that have had their fill of the federal government. Maybe the lady is on to something that could interest my home state of Louisiana.
We in Louisiana have tried this statehood thing for 209 years, but maybe it’s just not working out. The federal government continues to shortchange Louisiana on virtually every federal program, from hurricane recovery funds to a fair shake on offshore oil royalties. 
So, since Sarah Palin has raised the issue of secession for Alaska, maybe us folks down in Cajun country should start considering the option of seceding from the Union and becoming our own nation, as well.
You’ve got to hand it to those folks up there in Alaska. They’ve done a pretty good job of figuring out how to lead the nation in raising taxes per capita, yet making the rest of the country pay for it. Alaska is number one in spending for residents, and its tax burden is 2 1/2 times the national average per capita. Its spending is twice the national average per capita. Their trick up north is that Alaska’s government spends enormous sums on its own citizens, and taxes the rest of us to pay for it.
For all practical purposes, Alaska is an adjunct member of OPEC. More than 89% of the state’s income is produced through four different taxes on oil and gas. And consider this. The state government takes three quarters of the value of a barrel of oil before the oil is permitted to leave the state. Alaskans pay no income tax, no statewide sales tax, and no property tax. And every a resident gets a yearly check for about $3000 from oil revenues.
The disparities of the two states, one north and one south, are dramatic when it comes to receiving federal funds from Washington. A typical example is the comparison of federal reimbursement to nursing homes that take care of the poor under the Medicaid program. The same patient that only receives $79 a day in Louisiana receives $317 per day in Alaska. When it comes to federal highway funds, Alaska receives $1.30 for every dollar it sends to Washington as do other states like California and New York. What’s Louisiana’s take? -- A little over $.90 back for each dollar sent to the National Highway Fund.
They play hardball in Alaska. But in Louisiana, the state’s leadership for years has been pictured sticking out their hat and begging for a handout. While serving as governor, Palin has carried on a flirtation with the Alaska Independence party (AKIP), and her husband was a card carrying member for a number of years.
Palin has received her share of criticism for her secessionist sympathies. The Washington Monthly recently said that the idea of succession is “un – American.”  Oh, come now.  Maybe those in the press who are taking pot shots at the former Alaska Governor for considering secession need to brush up on their American history.  A good starting point might be the Declaration of Independence that clearly states:
That these United colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states…… and that, as free and Independent states, they have the full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all of the things which Independent states may of right do.”
And what better source is there than Thomas Jefferson in his first inaugural address who declared, “if there be among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”
This is not just a phenomenon stirred up by the residents of the last frontier when, according to a Zogby poll, more than 20% of US adults -- one in five, (about the same number of American colonists who supported revolt against England in 1775) agree that: “any state or region has the right to peaceably secede from the United States and become an independent republic.” A number of polls in recent years have indicated that almost half of Louisiana citizens agree that “the United States system is broken and cannot be fixed by traditional two-party politics and elections.”
The bottom line is that Alaska has the same abundance of natural resources as Louisiana. In fact, when you consider seafood, sulfur, agriculture, and the largest port in America, the Bayou State has a lot more wealth beneath the ground, on the ground, and along its waterways than our compatriots in Alaska have. Yet, Alaska has rattled its sabers, stood up to big oil on behalf of its citizens, and demanded more than its fair share of the pie from the federal government.
Nevertheless, Louisiana has been groveling for years to get a bigger slice of the offshore oil payouts. Louisiana officials declared a big victory last year when the feds agreed to give a pittance of $20 million a year for the next 10 years. Alaska would have considered such a settlement chump change, and would probably have started a secession movement along with the construction of a wall around its borders.
Seceding from the Union and becoming its own nation might prove to be an attractive option for Louisiana. If Mississippi wants to join us, we might even agree to create “a coastal nation of Louisissippi.” The French would be appalled, but who cares?
As for leadership? Well, the state’s current Governor Bobby Jindal is salivating to be president of something. If LSU football coach Les Miles pulls off another national championship, he would certainly be a contender. If former congresswoman Lindy Boggs were a bit younger, she would be my first choice as Ambassador to the United States. Saints quarterback Drew Brees would fill this role nicely. We would definitely need to bring back General Russel Honore’, the “kick ass” Katrina war horse, as our Secretary of Defense. A piece of cake here, since the US would be our protector, just like it is for Mexico and Canada. And for free. Our national flag would be a combination of black and gold and purple and gold, and we would certainly want Randy Newman to write our national anthem.
Over the past 200 years, Louisiana has been in a marriage of convenience. In 1913, the state entered this marriage with the rest of the US, and got a lot out of it. They received access to the American markets, and the flow of goods through New Orleans. It was a two-way street and benefits flowed both ways. But good things don’t last forever and by the middle of the 20th century, the bargain had disappeared. Both the oil and the royalties flowed out of Louisiana with little to show in return.
So don’t knock Sarah Palin when she flirts with secession. Alaska has cut a good deal for itself. Maybe Louisiana should rise up and do the same.
“There is growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go.”
The New York Times (March 21, 1861)
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  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

So You Sit Down with the President...

Thursday, August 3rd, 2012
Linville, North Carolina


If you could sit down with each of the two presidential candidates, what would you ask them?  What insights would you be looking for?  What knowledge would you expect them to have?  And just how much difference do you think they could 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?  I tend to agree with a number of financial observers who say that no president has all that much influence on major economic change.

Here’s what Austan 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.”
And Stephen Dunbar, author of the recent New York Times best seller on the U.S. economy, Freakonomics, agrees. In regard to the economy, “I believe that the office of the president of the United States, matters a lot less than most people think.
Most economists would agree that both congress and the president can do significant damage to the economy by irresponsible spending – like two $multi-billion wars with no plan for how to pay it, the massive bailouts for banks, and the $billions poured into auto and insurance companies because they were “too big to fail.” And what about the deficient regulation at both the federal and state levels that permitted unscrupulous and reckless lending to the untold millions of home buyers who became homeowners hopelessly in over their heads in debt -- with many of them ending up losing their homes, their investments, and their dreams.
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. “I’ll open up the jobs spigot, get millions working again, and lower gas prices to boot. Don’t think about it. Just read my lips.” Yeah, right!
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. By far.  (My home state of Louisiana is, by a huge 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.” Now down here in Louisiana, we love our rodeos to be orderly, and while we might frown on those who would disrespect that, we’d probably let him off the hook. Nevertheless, you’d better think twice about disrupting a rodeo – it’s a federal crime.
Mr. presidential wannabe, 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? Care to comment?
Americans are the fattest people in the world and are getting fatter. And you and I, as taxpayers, are covering the $billions in healthcare costs of 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, I’m 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 or President elect?
So the question I would pose to the guy who wants to lead the free world and all of us for the next four years, do these issues concern you?  How about taking a break from spending hundreds of millions of dollars beating up on your opponent and address these real problems, and our real concerns.  Americans are a pretty savvy lot who realize that our way of life needs to change and that certain sacrifices have to be made, and we want a leader who will help and lead us to a better life, so that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is transformed from the pathetic slogan that it has become, back to the profound meaning and reality on which the United States was founded.
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 debate.  We demand better. And we are ready to ask these questions and you need to be ready to answer them.
I have no other view than to promote the public good, and am unambitious of honors not founded in the approbation of my Country.

George Washington

Who's Running Louisiana?

Thursday, July 26th, 2012
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


In an effort to end up on the Romney ticket as the vice presidential nominee, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has been out of the state almost 30% of the time in recent months, crisscrossing the nation speaking and raising money on Romney’s and his own behalf. He’s rarely been visible in his home state, but voters are getting to know him far and wide in the likes of New Jersey, Alabama, Oklahoma, North Carolina, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Virginia, Illinois, West Virginia, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, D.C., Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington State. So the question is -- who’s in charge when the Louisiana Governor is on the road?

The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate posed this question to Jindal’s press secretary recently. Her response was, “the Governor remains the Governor wherever he is.” Apparently, her mindset is that the governor is always available by phone or email, so he never really is “away.” Not so, says the Louisiana Constitution, where clear language states: “When the governor is temporarily absent from the state, the lieutenant governor shall act as governor.” I know a good bit about this issue both as one who helped put this provision in the constitution, and as a statewide official who has held the title of “Governor” on several occasions when the line of succession came to me.

The most recent constitutional convention which was held in 1973 was called by the Louisiana legislature to update and rewrite the state’s founding document. I was an author of the legislation creating the convention, and I also served as an elected delegate for the one year undertaking to draft a new constitution. With little controversy, the convention overwhelming adopted the provisions that transfer authority to the lieutenant governor when the governor is out of state. The intentions of the delegates were quite clear.

In 1973 there were no cell phones, but landlines, of course, were abundant. However, Louisiana had experienced numerous blackout problems during hurricanes. Phone lines went dead during the storms and the delegates to the constitutional convention wanted provisions that under emergency conditions someone on the state level would be in charge. They had the savvy and the foresight to see that regardless of the state of communication systems that the citizenship of Louisiana would be best served by an onsite governor during an emergency.

Granted, communication systems have become much more sophisticated today, but the importance of the provisions still applies. No better example can be found than the Katrina experience. Cell phone and internet service failed, and local television and radio stations were off the air during Katrina. An out of state governor would not have been able to communicate to first responders, the state police or the National Guard. No matter how electronically “tuned in” an out of state governor might be, the delegates had felt that a major emergency needs “hands on” leadership. And they were right.

Was another statewide official ever called on the issue of an executive order from the Governor’s office? Yes. On three occasions, I filled the role as Governor to deal with an anticipated emergency. I was elected Secretary of State in 1979. The office is second in line to the governorship behind the Lieutenant Governor. On three occasions, both then serving Governor Dave Treen and Lieutenant Governor Bobby Freeman were out of the state and I got the call.

The first time was in the fall of 1980. I had been in office for a little less than a year, and I was attending a national convention of Secretaries of State in Atlantic City. My wife was along, and we had tickets for one of the final concerts of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. This was a big event back then, and an event my wife and I did not want to miss.

Late in the afternoon before the concert, the phone rang. The Governor’s executive counsel, Sonny Mouton was on the phone along with then Commissioner of Administration, Bubba Henry. They quickly told me that both the governor and the lieutenant governor were out of the country, and that they needed me to go to Louisiana immediately to call a much needed special session of the legislature. “I’d be glad to,” I told them, “first thing in the morning.”

No, they told me -- the call had to be signed by midnight. What a dilemma. Either Frank, Dean and me hangin’ out (well, sort of), or back to Louisiana on a late flight. I reluctantly opted to skip the concert, and fly back to New Orleans. A State Police helicopter met me on the Delta runway, and I signed the needed document minutes before midnight.

A year later, as New Orleans weathered a bus strike, some drivers were threatening violence if substitute drivers were hired. Mayor Dutch Moriel asked the Governor to call out the National Guard to both drive and protect the buses. Again, both the Governor and the Lt. Governor were out of the country. I was spending the weekend at my home in Ferriday. Dave Treen’s Executive Assistant, Billy Nungesser, called to put me on notice that I may be needed to come to New Orleans and call out the National Guard. He dispatched the state plane to fly to Ferriday and be available if the need should arise. The two state pilots hung out at my house watching football and I received regular updates on the approaching strike deadline. As the stalemate continued, Nungesser suggested that I head to New Orleans where the order would await my signature. Off we went, and the strike was averted shortly after we landed in the Crescent City.

Yes, I did get one more notice that I was the top dog in the state. No crisis took place, but I felt that as “acting Governor,” I should do something. I had just published my cookbook titled “Secretary of State Jim Brown’s World Famous Squirrel Stew and other County Recipes, which was bound to be a best seller. So I cooked up a pot of my stew, and invited the state capitol press corps to come up and give it a try for lunch. I received great press, and my cookbook still sells well today.

Should the law be changed to have the governor in charge at all times? There are pros and cons, particularly in a state that is as disaster prone as Louisiana is. Right now, a succession in command is the law. So when Governor Jindal continues his travels around the country, he needs to know that there is someone back home looking over his shoulder. Whether he likes it or not.

“A governor kind of looses the opportunity of symbolic leadership of being on the front lines when he is out of the state.” Joseph Marbach, Seton Hall University
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 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