Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Wednesday, November 26th, 2014
New York City, N.Y.


The political termites are swarming into Louisiana.  They are coming from everywhere; north and south-east and west.  All with one purpose in mind.  The want to tell us who we should vote for as the state’s next U.S. Senator.  I don’t know about you, but I get sick and tired of all these out of stators who must think we are too dumb down here in Bayou country to make up our own minds.

Republican challenger Bill Cassidy can’t seem to make it through his day without announcing some new out of state surrogate who will fly into Louisiana and tell us political retards just how we should vote. Kentucky senator Rand Paul charged in last week to tell a Cassidy campaign rally that Louisiana would sink into the Gulf of Mexico if voters don’t elect Cassidy on December 6th.  Now I happen to like Paul’s libertarian views on the erosion of Americana freedoms, but that doesn’t qualify him to tell us Cajuns and Rednecks whose best qualified to deal with problems down here in the deepest of the deep southern states.  I’m sure Paul’s presidential aspirations have nothing to do with his efforts to support Cassidy.

Sarah Palin also joined the Cassidy support team last week to ballyhoo his candidacy.  Just last month, Palin was in Louisiana backing Col. Rob Maness, who was eliminated in the first primary election.  I personally think Palin just likes coming down to Louisiana.  Considering it’s below zero in Palin’s Alaska hometown, and the sun rarely appears this time of year, she will probably volunteer to come back again next month to barnstorm in a futile effort to rehabilitate Gov. Bobby Jindal’s poll numbers.

The Cassidy list of out of stators hankering to lecture on what’s best for us include Sen. John McCain from Arizona, Sen. Marco Rubio from Florida, and Gov. Rick Perry from Texas, just to name a few.  And their message, at least in their own minds, must ring true.  Louisianans like you and I are just too stupid to make up our own minds as to who is best qualified to represent us in Washington.

Incumbent Mary Landrieu, who has represented the state for the past 18 years in the senate, also must think we need to flood the state with outside opinions as to what is best for us.  New Jersey Senator Corey Booker was in the Crescent City on Landrieu’s behalf last week, and she heads next week to a New York City penthouse to mingle with politicos and moneyed fat cats who support her Louisiana campaign.  She even was endorsed by the Houston Chronicle that editorialized:  “For Texas’ sake, Louisiana voters should elect Mary Landrieu to office.”  So if she looses on December 6th, there may be a future for her in Lone Star state politics.

Then there is the huge problem of out of state campaign money flooding into the coffers of both Landrieu and Cassidy, who eagerly seek out special interest donations.  Million of dollars in the first primary, and millions more in the runoff.  It seems like every TV commercial is paid for by some out of state lobbying organization. Again, outside special interest groups, who could care less about Louisiana problems, but are anxious to tell Louisiana voters how to vote.

How about this idea?  It’s simple.  Candidates for public office in Louisiana could only raise campaign funds within the district in which they are running.  So if a candidate is running for governor, he or she could only accept contributions from citizens of Louisiana.  If the office sought were mayor, then the candidate would be limited to raising campaign funds within the city limits.  No out of state money.  No out of district dollars.  Only those citizens who are eligible to vote for the candidate could make campaign contributions.

Letting only in state voters contribute to candidates would bring democracy back to where it should be.  Back to the state or district level.  That’s what the founding fathers envisioned.  Citizens voting for their own destiny free from outside influence.  Wouldn’t that be refreshing?


"Elections are more often bought than won." - Rep. Lee Hamilton

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, November 20, 2014


Thursday, November 20th, 2014
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Almost overnight, the approval of the Keystone pipeline has become a key issue in Louisiana’s cantankerous senatorial runoff campaign.  Incumbent Mary Landrieu is leading the charge in the U.S. Senate, while challenger Dr. Bill Cassidy is trying to one up Landrieu by being the Keystone champion in the House of Representatives.  So two questions.  Where have both of these candidates been with such an important issue all these many months?  And is building the pipeline the huge job creator and economic bonanza that both candidates say it is?

For those readers who have been out of the loop as to what Keystone is all about, here’s a short summery.  Canada is proposing the building of a pipeline some 875 miles from up in 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. must give approval, since the pipeline crosses international boarders.

Sounds pretty good so far.  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 transpiration than with pipelines. Environmentally, I just don’t see that great a risk.  So if there is little downside, what’s the upside according to our two Louisiana politicians, fighting tooth and nail for the U.S. Senate seat, and who are filling the airwaves with the message that Keystone is critical to Louisiana’s economic future?

Landrieu says more than 44,000 jobs will flow into Louisiana if Keystone is built.  Not to be one upped, Cassidy doubles the among of jobs that 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. So is there any validity to these claims from the Landrieu and Cassidy camps?  Absolutely not.  None! Zero! Nil! Zip! Zilch! It’s all political hogwash from both candidates.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported this year on an eleven-volume report prepared by the State Department that 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 pipedream.

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, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, at a rate of more than 3 million barrels a day.  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 election distortions and gibberish?


“I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them.”
 ~Adlai Stevenson

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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Remember the days when candidates for U.S Senator or Governor would speak to thousands of supporters at weekend rallies all over Louisiana?  Huey Long was the master, mainly because he promised he’d give voters just about anything they wanted.  A long line of colorful politicians followed in Huey’s wake.  But those days seem to be long gone and forgotten.

Governor Jimmy Davis could draw a crowd on parish courthouse steps by blaring out a chorus of  “You are My Sunshine.” Gov. John McKeithen was in high cotton while giving stump speeches on the back of a pickup truck.  Edwin Edwards would mesmerize crowds in south Louisiana with his Cajun humor.  Senators like Russell Long, Bennett Johnson and John Breaux, though not as flamboyant, still could both draw and relate to large crowds of voters all over the state.

Fairs and festivals used to be huge draws for statewide candidates.  John Kennedy kicked off his run for the presidency before a crowd of over 200,000 at the Crowley Rice Festival back in 1959.  It was an absolute must for aspiring governors, U.S. senators, and other statewide offices to attend the Frog Festival in Rayne, the Crawfish Festival in Beaux Bridge, the Natchitoches Christmas Festival, the Peach Festival in Ruston; the list goes on and on.

If you missed it from the bombardment of TV ads, there’s a runoff election going on in Louisiana for U.S. Senator.  You sure would not be aware of this contest if you relied on either candidate showing up to “press the flesh,” and network with constituents at many of the large gatherings that happen every weekend this time of year.  What happened to all the direct contact with voters?

To back up my point, I made a cross section of phone calls across the state.  From Kentwood to Morgan City, Belle Chasse to Homer, and from Lutcher to Lake Providence, the message was almost always the same. The two candidates for U.S. Senator have been, almost without exception, no shows in these local communities.  Retail politics have been put on the back burner.  It’s all about television, paid for primarily by out of state special interest groups.

Incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu and run off challenger Dr. Bill Cassidy both seem to feel that the return is not worth their political investment to attend these annual gatherings, particularly in smaller communities.  Their view is that they can get to the public on TV, and not spend the time with voters at the local level.  I would respectfully disagree.

You can get a lot of bang for your buck by getting out among the locals.  And in this day of growing social media, your contacts actually grow a number of times more than the crowd in attendance.  Everyone now carries their cell phone cameras for “selfies” with friends as well as celebrities.  Attending a festival can produce photos galore on Facebook, Twitter, and other social Internet outlets, as well as good fodder for the candidates to circulate themselves.

Landrieu particularly has lost a great deal of goodwill by her failure to be more in touch on the local level.  Parish officials tell me they rarely if ever hear from the senior Senator.  Her colleague in the senate, David Vitter, has been much more active in traveling with local officials and networking at the parish level, even before he expressed aspirations to run for governor. Vitter has regularly held town hall meetings and constituent telephone conferences for a number of years.

Cassidy has failed to seize the opportunity to build a strong base in the void left by Landrieu.  He announced almost two years ago, then proceeded to spend the next year and a half raising campaign dollars, primarily from out of state PACs.

Both candidates may think that dollar raising for TV spots makes good political sense.  But it is a slap at their constituents, and unhealthy for a democracy.  Louisiana deserves better.  Maybe we do need a third choice.  In Nevada, if voters don’t like their choices on the ballot, they can vote for “none of the above.”  If candidates don’t care enough to visit local communities, is that an option for Louisiana?

“ Imagine if you won the election but lost to ‘None of the Above’. Wouldn’t that make you re-think your positions?”
Jesse Ventura

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, November 06, 2014


November 6th, 2014
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Voters sent a strong message on election night that congress needs to work across party lines and begin to get things done. No more gridlock.  After all, the popularity of members of congress is at an all time low.  Less than 10% of Americans think congress is doing a good job. Herpes and the chicken pox have a higher favorability rating.

New Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for a fresh wave of cooperation.  In his victory speech, he admonished that:  "Both sides will have to work to get us back to where we should be. It's a goal that I truly believe we can all agree on and agree to strive toward together. Because restoring this institution is the only way we'll ever solve the challenges we face.” Outgoing Leader Harry Reid agreed, congratulating McConnell as his successor and saying. "The message from voters is clear: they want us to work together."

“Throw the bums out” would seem to have been the bywords from the electorate.  But was it, and do voters really want an end to gridlock?  Yes, most constituents have a low regard for congress. But if this so, why did 90% of both senators and representatives get re-elected?  Because most voters feel good about their particular representative even though they despise congress as a whole.

As Chris Cillizza wrote on election night in the Washington Post:  First, they make clear that it's far easier to hate an institution -- like, say, FIFA -- than an individual, particularly an individual you sort-of, kind-of think you know. There's a natural tendency to assume your guy or gal isn't like everyone else -- how could they be bad since you voted for them? --and they are doing everything they can to make things better up there/down there/out there in Washington.”

Re-electing most members of congress is nothing new, even when there is great dissatisfaction with the workings of Washington. When was the last time any Louisiana member of congress faced a tough re-election? So the message seems to be, thrown the bums out in congress. But not our bum.

The national press is ballyhooing the line that a major segment of voters comprise the moderate middle ground, and they are hungering for congress to compromise and get along.  But is that really true?

 Most people I talk to, both in Louisiana and throughout the country, are firmly set in their political beliefs.  Members of congress know they have to reflect the political persuasions of their constituents if they are going to get re-elected.  If legislators dig in their heels and become obstinate to change, they generally are doing so as the behest of voters back home.  If other members push a more liberal agenda, they do so with their constituents in mind.  Otherwise, how could so many congressmen get easily re-elected?

In a new study, “An Artificial Disconnect,” by political scientists David Broockman and Douglas Ahler, they persuasively argue that most voters are often further to extremes, left or right, than is the member of congress they have elected.  The study concludes that any feeling voters want major change, particularly “an ambitious reform agenda, “is one dimensional. Their findings indicate that: “A voter’s ideal policy ((list of priorities) is significantly more extreme than their legislator’s.”

So if the average voter is set in his or her ways, and has firm opinions that are often inflexible, how can we expect members of congress to ignore strong constituent views, and water these opinions down in moderation?  They cannot if they expect to be re-elected.

In other words, it is realistic to expect voters to continue a distain for congress as a whole, remain supportive of their own congressman, but demand that there be no compromise on what they firmly believe. Expect a lot of political posturing about problem solving.  But also presume that gridlock will continue.  As former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole said back in the 1990s:  "Our intent will not be to create gridlock. Oh, except maybe from time to time."

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.