Thursday, September 25, 2014


Baton Rouge, Louisiana


New allegations of physical abuse seem to surface daily. The most recent downpour began with the media release of a hotel surveillance video showing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his girlfriend in the face, leaving her knocked out on the elevator floor -- and leaving even the most ardent NFL fans deeply disgusted. Then came more charges against a multitude of players on teams from coast to coast.  College football took its licks with Florida State Heisman trophy winner Jamis Winston being accused of a number of crimes including rape.  So is it just big time athletes who can’t control themselves?  Hardly. How about the reckless and unlawful behavior of some federal judges?

We expect federal judges appointed for life to conduct themselves with decorum and to maintain the highest levels of legal ethics.  Sad to say, however, that these protectors of the public trust are often as wild, irresponsible, and out of control as any NFL player.  A number of federal judges, particularly in the South, have recently been guilty of both physical abuse as well as actions that seriously compromise, what should be, a high code of conduct.

The latest judicial abuser is federal judge Mark Fuller from Alabama.  His first wife accused him of domestic violence and drug abuse.  But that was just a warm up.  Fuller’s second wife called 911 from an Atlanta motel room recently, saying the judge was drunk, and pleaded to the dispatcher, “Help me please.  Please help me.  He’s beating me.”  Fuller beat her, threw her to the ground, kicked and dragged her, and hit her repeatedly in the face resulting in multiple cuts on her mouth and forehead.

But hey, he’s a federal judge, so no big deal.  After his arrest, he was given a plea deal allowing him to go to counseling and his record will be expunged.  Fat chance that any private citizen would get such a deal. Fuller should have been criminally charged with assault, immediately resign from the bench or be quickly impeached by congress.

Federal judges who abuse their authority or commit criminal acts are often given “special consideration,” particularly in my home state of Louisiana.  Here’s just one example from an extensive list:  Early this year, Lake Charles federal judge Patricia Minaldi tried to outrun police on a high speed chase to her house, refused officers orders to get out of her car, then claimed protection by being on her own property. “I'm calling to report an intoxicated driver,” a 911 caller had stated. “She's weaving all over the world. Tried to turn the wrong way onto the Interstate. She's crossing the centerline, and she's weaving like an ‘S’ down the road ... Oh, she almost got into a wreck.” Judge Minaldi pled guilty to a DWI but was quietly allowed to go on probation for a year. Could you have gotten a similar deal?

Then there’s the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, hands down the most dysfunctional federal circuit court in America. Just check out some of the recent headlines concerning what used to be a respected court.

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!

Judge Edith Clement has been particularly singled out recently for doing, according to press reports, “whatever she pleases.” Morning Advocate Columnist James Gill recently wrote, “Clement, who sits on the appeals court, is also on the board of a foundation bankrolled by Big Oil. Thus, she gets to swank around luxury Montana resorts gratis before returning home to write opinions in BP’s favor that strike her colleagues as eccentric.”  She’s been called in press reports a secrecy freak, a “Closet Fascist,” and issued rulings that the Times Picayune has labeled “patently un-American.”

As I have written before, federal court watchers have a name for federal judges who lack the scholarship, the temperament, the learning, and who 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. 

Yes, there are a number of high caliber, principled, and competent federal judges in Louisiana and the rest of the South.  But a few tainted judges can give them all a bad name.  Ben Franklin often talked about a few bad apples spoiling the reputation of the whole bunch.  We could no doubt put rotten apples, some NFL football players, and a few federal judges who feel that they are privileged all in the same barrel.


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 Communications Network, with a live stream at

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Congress Needs to Vote on New War!

Thursday, September 18th, 2014
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Here we go again.  Another prolonged military campaign in the Middle East. Is the President justified in waging a new war that will emanate in Syria, but raises numerous questions as to where it all will end? Louisiana congressional members have been oddly silent on the President’s new counter terrorism assault. The Bayou State has no representation on the key congressional national defense committees.

But isn’t it reasonable to expect that the elected officials representing us in Washington at least owe it to their constituents to firmly articulate how involved the U. S. should become in a new Middle East war effort? Hey, guys, Mary -- we are about to become ensnared in another war that will cost $billions, and who knows how many lives.  You owe it to the folks who voted you into office to speak up.  If you were to hold a town meeting (rarely held by Louisiana representatives and senators any more), here are just a few of the questions that you should ask.

Is ISIS, a terrorist network operating primarily in Syria, a direct threat to the U.S?  The director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Matthew Olsen, doesn’t think so. Olsen said this week that ISIS has no cells in the U.S. “We have no credible information” that the group, “is planning to attack the U.S. ISIS, is not al Qaeda pre-9/11.”  So members of congress, do you feel differently?  Do you have creditable information that we need to jump into the fray as we did in Iraq?

Is the President reacting emotionally to the recent beheading of two American journalists?  If they had not been killed, would we be responding the same way?  Julian Reichelt is the chief editor of the German paper BILD, and was a war reporter in Syria.  He recently wrote:  Most Western journalists had given up covering Syria because ISIS was actively hunting down reporters. ‘Stay safe — don’t wanna see you in some YouTube video,’ had become a common, now darkly prophetic, line between parting journalists in the hotels on the Turkish side of the border.”  These reporters knew well they were facing grave danger, yet still entered harm’s way.  Does America go to war because of the serious risks these journalists chose to take in a war ravaged nation?

Is this America’s war alone?  The New York Times implies that it may be. The Times headlined last week, “Arabs Give Tepid Support to U.S. Fight Against ISIS.”  U.S. fight?  If ISIS is so dangerous, and such a threat to the entire region, why is this labeled a U.S. fight?  Why isn’t it an Arab fight, a European fight or a united allied fight against a dangerous enemy?  Only a handful of countries are offering tepid support to the American effort, and even these friendly nations are offering little more than lip service.  No troops, no planes, and little, if any, money.  Just let the U.S. do all the dirty work.  So, Louisiana congressmen and senators -- is this just one more American effort where few others seem to care?
Will you listen to the voices of our present and former military leaders?  Congress is full of “shoot from the hip” members who never served a day in the military. (The only member of Louisiana’s congressional delegation to serve is Representative John Fleming who joined the Navy.) Why are the chicken hawks always the first to call for jumping into a war?  Remember former Vice President Cheney’s comments when asked why he didn’t serve in the military? He responded that he had “other priorities?” General Colin Power and General David Petraeus have warned to move cautiously in expanding our Middle East war efforts.  Do you agree?

Will you insist on a vote in congress to authorize and military action in Syria, Iraq, or any other Middle Eastern country?  A number of news articles have reported that congress wants to dodge such a vote.  The Constitution gives to you, members of congress, the sole power to declare war.  Will you insist on such a vote, and articulate in detail why you are for or against our continuing and growing war effort throughout the Middle East?

Look, I’m not arguing against strongly defending the United States.  I’m a proud American, who served in the military, and I fly my country’s flag every day. But our track record halfway around the world has been weak, where we have too often used shoot from the hip strategies that have not been fully vetted.  We Louisianans are not privy to the military intelligence needed to draw informed conclusions. Members of congress, you are.  It’s time to come back home and convince us that the President is on the right track, and, just maybe, we can get it right this time.

“God created war so that Americans would learn geography.”
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

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Don't Worry, Be Happy in Louisiana!

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Bayou State residents are well aware that Louisiana is a pleasant place to live.  Some would sarcastically say that we are fat, dumb, and happy down here in the deepest of the deep southern states.  The state motto is, after all, Laissez les bons temps rouler.  For you out of staters, that’s pronounced Lay say lay bohn tohn roo lay, and means “let the good time roll.”  So it should be no surprise to the locals that in a survey of 100 cities listed as the happiest, and published by the U. S. National Bureau of Economic Research, Louisiana walked away with the top rankings.

The top five happiest cities in the U. S. include Lafayette, Houma, Shreveport, Baton Rouge and Alexandria.  Lake Charles weighed in at number eight.  The unhappiest?  New York City.  What?  The Big Apple?  How can that be?  Simple.  The cost of living in New York causes two thirds of the city’s population to just get by.

With a number of family members now living in New York City, including several of my grandchildren, I’m up there for a week at a time, once, sometimes even twice a month.  The differences are vast to say the least.  Let’s start with my five “Fs.”  Food, family, faith, fixin’ flats, and football.

Food? Sure there are great number of good bistros and cafes in New York.  But the cost of a decent meal is twice what you would pay for the best dining in New Orleans or in a number of first-rate south Louisiana restaurants. And these “fine dining” establishments seem to think flavoring their food consists of sprinkling on some salt and pepper.  It’s rare to find the Cajun holy trinity of seasonings (bell pepper (poivron), onion and celery) in New York Cuisine.

Family seems to play a more significant role for residents of Louisiana, where you find the highest percentage of those still living in the state of their birth.  Your friends want to know about how “your mama and them” are doing. An active family life is very much the Louisiana way, and this creates a happy environment.   In New York City, you find waves of newcomers who have heeded Frank Sinatra’s call that if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.  But hundreds of thousands make a long commute each day from outside the city because of the high cost of just about everything.  Most New Yorkers I have come to know are transplants and have immediate family members that live a great distance away.

Faith matters more in the Bayou State. A recent Gallop poll found that 54% of Louisianans consider themselves quite religious.  In New York, the number is 32%.  Local pastors tell me that church attendance is up, particularly in Catholic and Pentecostal ministries.  African American church attendance has always been high down our way.  Faith brings contentment, and this leads to more happiness.

And how about fixin’ flats?  No, this is not just another Jeff Foxworthy humorous put down.  Folks down our way seem more self-sufficient.  Many have gardens, and neighbors pitch in more to lend a hand or volunteer for a good cause.  In New York, everyone seems too busy, too self absorbed -- oblivious to those beyond their own immediate circle.

The final “F” consumes most Louisianans this time of year.  September means football -- tailgating outside Tiger Stadium, heading to the Superdome to cheer on the Saints, and packing into Cajun Field at UL-Lafayette.  But it’s also a symbol for intense athletic participation at all ages, from high school sports to packed golf courses and barbeques on the weekends. Music has a life of its own all over the state. Locals in Louisiana are a lot more active outdoors than are New Yorkers, and this leads to more pleasure.

Sure, many folks in Louisiana have a multitude of problems.  And the state has a good way to go in dealing with education and healthcare troubles.  But within their limitations, Louisianans just do a better job of making the best of it.  If New Yorkers would spend some time down here, they would learn pretty quickly why the happiest cities in America are all located in Louisiana.


“This state has a depth that is simultaneously beyond words and yet as natural as breathing. How can a place be both other-worldly and completely pedestrian is beyond me; however, Louisiana manages to do it. Louisiana is spooky that way.”

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