Thursday, February 23, 2017


Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Dave Treen was sworn in as Louisiana’s Governor 37 years ago. Anyone who knew him noted what a nice guy he was. But Treen’s legacy will not be based on his friendliness. History will treat him well and acknowledge that he was the first, and perhaps only, true conservative Louisiana Governor in the past century.

His philosophy was simple. Have state government provide basic public services, keep up the infrastructure, and provide public protection. No meddling in private business; No political deals to benefit supporters.  He just wanted to create a healthy business climate, run the state efficiently, and then tell government to “just get out of the way.”  See that the trains run on time. Nothing creative or entrepreneurial.  That wasn’t the job, according to Treen, of state government.  

Dave Treen was elected Louisiana Governor in 1979 in a close election against then Public Service Commissioner Louis Lambert.  Voter fraud had been alleged in both the primary where Lt. Governor Jimmy Fitzmorris had been nudged out of the runoff, as well as the general election itself.  I joined the statewide fray having been elected as Secretary of State at the same time. Shortly after taking office, the new Governor suggested we meet to talk over the election process.  He wanted a full investigation into any of the election fraud allegations, and we both agreed on creating an Election Integrity Commission, the first such investigative body by any state in the country.  

I never saw anyone so enmesh themselves in the details of government.  Some criticized Treen for being so deliberative and slow to make a decision.  He would be ridiculed unmercifully by Edwin Edwards in their future election confrontations when Edwards accused Treen of taking an hour and a half to watch 60 minutes.  But that was his strength.  He did not jump head first into some quick fix financial boondoggle expecting immediate results.  Treen knew it would take years to dig the state out of the hole left by short-range thinking administrations going back many decades.

I tagged along on a helicopter trip with the Governor when we were both invited to speak to a Chamber of Commerce meeting in New Iberia.  He read over a request on a budget matter the whole way over and back, something Edwin Edwards might have spent 4 or 5 minutes with.  “These decisions often set precedents that are followed by years,” he said.  “I want to be sure I get it right.”  

I talked with Greg LeRoy, author of JobsScam, about state giveaways to bribe out-of-state businesses to move in.  He recognized Dave Treen as a solid conservative who knew that the best way to attract new companies was with lower business taxes and a healthy business climate rather than dangling subsidies. And, according to Greg, Louisiana has still not learned Dave Treen’s lesson.  “By impoverishing their tax base in the name of jobs, the Louisiana public officials continue to perversely harm the ‘business climate.’”

And the former Governor was certainly a strong conservative in courageously raising his objections when he felt there was government oppression.  Treen wrote the forward to the biography of Edwin Edwards.  Here’s what he had to say about the Edwards’ conviction.  “I believe the federal government, and by that I mean Judge Frank Polozola, doubled his (Edwards’) sentence from the prescribed five years purely out of vindictiveness,” Treen wrote in the foreword.  “They didn’t like him. That’s not a good reason to double someone’s sentence and is, I believe, a misuse of power.”

Dave Treen had strong feelings about what government should do and not do.  He eloquently expressed a litany of conservative values and ideas in a book he wrote back in 1974 while in Congress about conservative principals and pursuing what you believe in.  It was called Can we afford this House?  “Ideas have consequences,” he wrote. “They need to be implemented.”  Dave Treen wanted to have government help in a number of ways, but knew there were costs to consider and “consequences.”

Yes, Dave Treen was a nice guy. But history will remember him as having core beliefs and sticking to his guns. We could use a lot more like him in public office today. 

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

Sunday, February 19, 2017


Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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 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

Friday, February 10, 2017


Baton Rouge, Louisiana


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. 


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 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

Thursday, February 02, 2017


Baton Rouge, 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.
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 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