Thursday, April 25, 2019


Thursday, April 25th, 2019
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Governor Jimmie Davis must be rolling over in his grave right now.  Louisiana’s internationally acclaimed official state song is under attack by the Louisiana Legislature. There is an effort by some south Louisiana legislators to designate the Cajun classic Jambalayaas an official public ballad. And them’s fightin’ words for those who have embraced You are my Sunshineas the sanctioned formal melody.

The Sunshinedefenders point out that It could be the most recognized American ballad worldwide. Go to a small Asian community where little or no English is spoken.  Start humming, “You Are My Sunshine.”  More likely than not, the locals will join in singing the song in English.  Everybody knows the words to a down-home tune written by a Louisiana country singer and movie star. And he was sworn in as Louisiana Governor seventy-five years ago this month.

A few years back, I was in Cambodia at the Golden Triangle, where Burma and Thailand converge.  I was having breakfast in a rural village at an outdoor café, and the young waitress who knew a few words in English said, “You American. I love America. I sing about America.”  Then, with a big grin on her face, she broke out in song and danced around the dirt floor singing “You Are My Sunshine.”

That’s in no way meant to belittle the Cajun tune played in dancehalls and musical venues all over Louisiana and much of the south. But there is a vast difference between the two songs.  Sunshinewas written and sung by a Louisiana native who happened to end up as governor.  Jambalaya was written by Hank Williams, who was born, raised and is buried in Alabama.  Haven’t we here in the Bayou State been humiliated enough by Alabama football to have to have our state song written by another Roll Tide advocate?

Actually, Jambalaya’s melody is basically the same tune taken from the song Grand Texas, about a lost love; a woman who left the country singer to go with someone else to "Big Texas," where ever that’s supposed to be. So we have an Alabama song written off a Texas tune that may end up as the Bayou Nation's new state song.

 And what about some of the Jambalayalyrics?  A line in the song is “For tonight, I'm-a gonna see my ma cher a mi-o.”  OK. I get ma cher. Even us uneducated rednecks know that ma chermeans “my dear.”  But what about this a mi-o. The word doesn’t exist.  I’ve checked slang dictionaries in French and Spanish.  No such word.

Now I’ll admit it’s a bit hard to defend some of the lyrics in Sunshine.  Take the stanzas:

You told me once, dear, you really loved me
And no one else could come between
But now you’ve left me and love another
You have shattered all my dreams

 I’ll concede such verbiage doesn’t set the best example for our young folks to aspire to greater heights.  But hey, it’s only a song. Just like the partying words of Jambalaya, I guess it really doesn’t make much of a difference. Outside of a bar or dancehall, when was the last time you heard either song being sung?  So maybe it’s just as well to have two state songs.  

Being a redneck and having gotten to know Gov. Jimmie Davis back in the 1970’s, I’m just partial to You are my Sunshine.  And just who was Sunshine?  A past lover? A devoted family member? No.  Sunshine was Jimmie Davis’s horse.  The palomino mare is buried up on the Davis family farm above my old home of Ferriday.  I pass that way occasionally and remember back on my conversations with the Governor.  And yes.  I do hum a few bars of what will always be my favorite Louisiana song, You Are My Sunshine.

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 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at

Thursday, April 18, 2019


Thursday, April 18th, 20919
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Is there a gubernatorial election taking place in Louisiana this year?  Based on the amount of current interest, you wouldn’t know it. Qualifications for statewide offices are less than four months away.  Four months?  And barely a peep out of candidates who want to run major offices in the Bayou State. What gives?

Current Governor John Bel Edwards should be in trouble.  He is a Democrat in a solidly Republican state. So solid that president Donald Trump’s popularity is higher in Louisiana than any other state in the country. Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the entire south and the only Democratic statewide official in Louisiana. So he should be in the run for his life.

But not so fast.  Ole’ John Bel is far from being relegated to underdog status.  In fact, at thipoint in the campaign, with just months to go, the current governor is an odds-on favorite to get reelected.  Several things work in his favor.
First, campaign dollars. Edwards has a war chest that exceeds ten million dollars.  Money is the mother’s milk for getting elected, and the Governor hit the ground running by raising campaign funds from the get-go.  Knowing from the beginning of his term that he would face a major Republican effort to defeat him he began major fund raising efforts earlier than any incumbent governor in recent memory. He has left in a cloud of dust early efforts by former Gov. Bobby Jindal and Edwin Edwards to raise large campaign funds following their elections.   And that’s saying something.
Second, if you are going to run as a Democrat in a southern state, Edwards profiles well.  He volunteered to serve his country in the Army, and qualified as a special forces officer.  Few other governors—Democrat or Republican— have thesedistinctions on theirresumes.  Edwards is a strong second amendment proponent and opposes abortion—views that fit well in Louisiana.  He is an amiablefellow, with no major scandals in his administration’s first term. 

Third, his opponents have not distinguished themselves in either fundraising or on policy distinctions from Edwards.  What do they stand for other than being against?  Two Republicans have emerged, Congressman Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman, Eddie Rispone.  Abraham is a popular Northeast Louisiana congressman, and Rispone is the founder of an industrial contracting company.  But so far, both candidates have yet to define themselves.  They both agree that Edwards is a tax and spend Democrat.  But what is their alternative? Voters are yet to find out.

A new poll just out by LSU’s Media and Public Affairs department found that more than nearly half of Louisiana residents say the state is heading in the right direction, which is a big jump from last year when only 39% of voters felt this way.  This is good news for the Edwards campaign.

But there is a potential problem for the incumbent governor.  And it’s not his two announced opponents.  There is another elephant in the room. A big elephant.  And it could grow into a major problem for Edwards. The hitch for him is not another Louisiana candidate.  It’s a guy named Donald J. Trump.

Trump’s popularity in Louisiana is higher than in any other state in the nation, generally holding in the 65% range.  If the state republican party can eliminate one of the two current major republican candidates, and the President makes a full-blown endorsement and campaign effort then Edwards could be in real trouble.

So what will happen in the coming weeks?  Will one of the two Republicans drop out?  Will the President get involved? Trump doesn’t support losers and he will no doubt wait until the final weeks of the campaign to decide if he will jump into the Louisiana governor’s race.  The intrigue will continue in the next four months.  Just another round of suspenseful Louisiana politics.

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 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at

Saturday, April 13, 2019


Thursday, April 11th, 2019
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

As the Louisiana legislature begins a new session, the focus—early on—concerns alligators, almond milk, marching bands, the Who Dat Nation, driverless cars, wrestling matches, crab traps, meatless burgers, and changing the name of the state song. By any objective measure, most of these proposals should go by the wayside and the focus should be on educating our kids, particularly at a very young age.
 The governor’s proposed budget includes minor funding on new programs for improving reading skills of pre-kindergarteners.  And there seems to be only a lukewarm response from legislative leaders to find additional funds. To no avail, the State Superintendent of Education pointed out that Louisiana ranks 50th in the U.S. by the National Assessment of Education Progress, which measures key early learning skills.   
A significant number of kids in Louisiana need “catch-up help” from the day they enter kindergarten. Louisiana has the highest percentage of poor families anywhere in the country.  And there is a great disparity in the ability to read and even to communicate, between children different economic levels. 
A few months ago, I had as a guest on my radio show Professor Todd Risley, who published a study entitled “Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children.”  He explained that there is a great difference in both the number of words and the prohibitive or affirmative tone of words heard by young kids, depending and whether their parents are on welfare, in the working class or professionals. 
Simply put, Professor Risley determined that a child’s verbal development is not so much about IQ or social economic status.  It’s more about how a child is talked to and how positive the tone may be.  This is interesting stuff here.  Risley’s study found that by age 3, children of welfare parents heard 10 million words, where those with working-class parents heard 20 million words.  If the parent was a professional, the child heard 30 million words.  In addition, he found that with children 13-18 months old in welfare families, almost 80% of the feedback to the child was negative.  That’s right, 80%.  In working-class families the percentage dropped to 50%.  And when he studied professional families, more than 80% of feedback to the child was affirmative. 
Here’s what all this means.  In a state that is as poor and under-educated as Louisiana, it’s not just important but imperative that a pre-kindergarten program be mandatory in every single school in the state. Waiting to teach a child to read until the first grade is obviously a big mistake.  Kids who do not learn to read in the early grades almost never recover academically and fall further and further behind with each passing grade.  Reaching the middle school years, they literally cannot read their textbooks and often become academically frustrated and disruptive.  Hopelessly behind, these kids begin dropping out of school in large numbers by the eighth grade. 
There are two messages here.  First, Louisiana parents, grandparents, babysitters, uncles and aunts all need to talk and read to children from birth on, using big words, and giving lots of positive reinforcement.  This can be done for free.
The second message is that the legislature needs to put many extraneous matters aside, and make its top priority early learning.  You can talk all you want about economic development but the best economic stimulus package is an early foundation for learning.  Governor Buddy Roemer said it well in the campaign of 1987.  The oil and gas of Louisiana’s future is in the minds of our six-year olds. 
There is still time to help close the gap of those less educated at an early age. It’s election year and a short legislative session is at hand. The Louisiana legislature needs to put aside extraneous proposals and deal with the single most important thing that can be done to move Louisiana forward.  Fund the educational tools for young minds to get a much earlier start in acquiring basic knowledge.  What could be more critical?
“I learnt most not from those who taught me, but from those who talked with me.”
St. Augustine
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 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at

Thursday, April 04, 2019


Thursday, April 4th, 2019
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


If you are a sports fan living in Louisiana, you are well aware of the rise to the top by LSU’s basketball team that won the SEC championship and made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.  But then the bubble burst.  Not because the Tigers were defeated by Michigan State.  No, the team was undermined by the irresponsible action of the LSU administration itself.

Now this is not a sports column, but a commentary of the dysfunctional leadership at the state’s flagship university.  The basketball fiasco is just one more misstep.  Here is the latest in a long line of rash actions.

LSU’s 36-year-old basketball Coach Will Wade went from being an anonymous assistant at Harvard 10 years ago to winning an SEC regular-season title—all in the span of a decade.   He didn’t even play college basketball but had the teaching skills to make LSU one of the top teams in the country. Then he was blind-sided by anonymous rumors. 

A few weeks ago, Yahoo Sports reported that Coach Will Wade was on tape discussing in general terms what it might take to entice a recruit to come to LSU. The tape was part of a federal investigation of sports agents paying players to attend certain colleges. But no source was cited and no one reported actually heard such a tape. The allegations were all hearsay.

LSU administrators launched an investigation as they certainly should have.  Coach Wade was summoned to a meeting following the unsubstantiated comments the next morning with the athletic director.  All well and good.  But then the rules changed.  Wade was told the meeting was postponed until representatives of the NCAA could be present along with lawyers from the university.  Wade should show up but with no lawyer.  What was supposed to be a low-key meeting with Wade and athletic director Joe Alleva turned into a full-blown investigation.  What was believed to be an initial meeting to hear Coach Wade’s knowledge of what might have taken place gyrated into a mini trial. And all this based on unsubstantiated rumors.

Any criminal attorney worth his salt would tell Coach Wade under no conditions should he appear at such a set up.  Without proper legal advice, anything said at such a meeting would be subject to subpoenas and appearances before a grand Jury.  But if you are innocent and have nothing to hide, what could possibly happen to the Coach and why have his attorney, right?  Ahh! My fine naive friends, many innocent people have been framed and charged with crimes based on unsubstantiated third-party hearsay.

The judge in the federal case that supposedly references certain tapes has sealed all documents, so there is no way to determine what, if anything, was said involving Coach Wade. So he has been left dangling in the wind, and was forced to stand on the sidelines while his LSU Tigers clawed their way to the Sweet 16.

A number of top coaches in college basketball were part of and are presently coaching fraud-plagued teams. The Final Four Auburn coach Bruce Pearl was fired while coaching at Tennessee for lying during an NCAA investigation.  My alma mater, the University of North Carolina, is still reeling from fraud where top athletes were given high grades even though they never showed up for class. Kentucky Coach John Calipari led teams that had to forfeit two Final Four appearances over recruiting violations.  Kentucky just gave him a lifetime contract extension.

If Coach Wade is proven to have violated NCAA regulations, as have numerous college basketball coaches now employed at universities all over the country, then he should be sanctioned with appropriate penalties.  But for LSU administrators to suspend him, set him up in a kangaroo court and possibly fire him over hearsay is beyond the realm of basic fairness.
Coach Wade, LSU fans, and the LSU community deserve better.

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 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at