Thursday, August 29, 2019


Thursday, August 29th, 2019
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

President Trump stirred up a hornet’s nest recently as he proposed that the U.S. try to buy Greenland.  Many political observers rolled their eyes. Buy another country?  Has the Prez thrown out another wacky suggestion and is this really a good idea?  Actually, yes.  America has been acquiring land from other nations for centuries.  And often, Louisiana has been right in the mix.

Most Americans do not know that Greenland is owned by Denmark and the U.S. has operated the Thule Air Base there since 1941.  The base is America’s northern most defense site located less than 900 miles from the Arctic Circle.  It is considered critical for America’s defense giving it a ballistic missile early warning system.  So if Denmark is willing to sell, it would be in the strategic interest of America to acquire Greenland.  

The Bayou State was right in the mix of the greatest land acquisition in the nation’s history back in 1803 whenPresident Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of State James Madison, without the authority of congress, cut one heck of a deal with Napoleon.  For a penance of $15 million, the size of America was doubled as the new Louisiana territory stretched from New Orleans to Canada and west to the Rocky Mountains, taking in over 828,000 square miles and all or part of what would later become 15 different states.

The Louisiana Democratic Party considers Jefferson persona non grata because he owned slaves. But without his vison and foresight, the Bayou State would be spending euros and kissing each other on both cheeks. 

A few years later, General Andrew Jackson won the Battle of New Orleans saving Louisiana from becoming snobby British and having to drink and eat tea and crumpets, rather than Beignets & Café Au Lait.  Jackson was certainly Louisiana’s greatest hero leading the fight to starve off the yoke of the British, but he too has been ostracized by the Louisiana Democratic Party.  Go figure.

After freeing up the Bayou State, Jackson marched into Florida, then controlled by the Spanish and the British, and seized the Spanish forts at Pensacola.  He put the Spanish governor on a boat to Cuba, fought off the Seminole Indians, and scared the Spanish into ceding parts of Florida and Georgia to the U.S.

Sam Houston fought under Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, the went on to combat and win the fight of San Jacinto, that forced General Santa Anna to recognize the independence of a new Lone Star Republic. The U.S. continued to pick away at Mexican land, eventually acquiring the American Southwest, plus California.

And would you believe that Mexico even went so far as to beg the U.S. to buy Baja, California for $10 million but we declined? You can bet congress would jump on such an opportunity today.

Our land grab continued right after the Civil War, as Secretary of State William Seward bought Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million. Another one heck of a deal.  America went on to acquire Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines, spreading our influence worldwide.  So is it that far out of the norm for President Trump to want to buy a strategic nation like Greenland?  Actually, President Harry Truman tried to buy Greenland, back in 1946, and offered Denmark $100 million. Denmark said no, but they did sell us the Virgin Islands.

There is realignment taking place all over the world. Strategic relationships and landscapes are shifting.  It’s not been all that long ago that Russia ruptured into 15 different nations. 
  split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.  Since the 1990s some 35 countries have fragmented, merged or have been sold.

So why not try to acquire Greenland?  It has bountiful natural resources and is tactically located with a vital proximity to both Russia and Europe.  Don’t sell the President short.  He’s on the mark in attempting to acquire Greenland.

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, August 22, 2019


Thursday, August 22nd, 2019
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


When qualifications for elections in Louisiana concluded recently, only two of the seven statewide officials are facing major and well-funded opposition.  Incumbent Governor John Bel Edwards faces eight challengers including five republicans.  But only two GOP candidates are considered serious; Congressman Ralph Abraham from Northeast Louisiana and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone.

Under Louisiana’s convoluted “jungle primary system,” all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, run against each other at the same time.  So it’s possible for two aspirants in the same party to face each other in a run off.  Under the old system that operated up until 1972, republicans and democrats held separate primaries.  If candidates did not receive at least 50% of the vote in their respective primaries, then a run-off would take place.  But then, the victor had to run a third race in the general election.

It’s a system put in place by former Governor Edwin Edwards so he could avoid having to face both a democratic challenger then a republican opponent in a general election. The system worked well for the previous Governor Edwards as he went on to win three addition terms in office.  But now it would seem to work against current Governor John Bel Edwards.  If he cannot win re-election in the first primary scheduled for October 12th, he may appear to be vulnerable, and then the Trump factor becomes a major concern for John Bel.

The President is expected to stay out of the current gubernatorial race, particularly since there are two major republican candidates.  Governor Edwards seems to have a decent relationship with the President, and has been invited by Trump to attend several state dinners at the White House. Edwards regularly ballyhoos that Trump has told him he is the president’s favorite democrat.

A number of early polls place the Governor’s popularity above 50%, and within striking distance of getting more than that margin in the first primary. But if John Bel cannot win an all-out victory on October 12th, the concern for democrats is that the President will jump into a runoff to support the republican challenger.

  Such a scenario was actively pushed this week by Louisiana U.S. Senator John Kennedy.  Many in Louisiana felt that Kennedy would challenge Edwards himself in the governor’s race, and he was considered by most political observers to be Edwards’ strongest opponent.  Kennedy has been critical of Edwards’ performance as governor for several years. He has accumulated a large campaign war chest and looked to be on the verge of jumping into the race.

When asked about running for governor against Edwards just a few months ago, the Senator said: “I’m really torn,”, plainly agonizing over the decision. “I enjoy the job of being a Louisiana senator. On the other hand, my state’s in a lot of trouble.”

But Kennedy’s national reputation has grown, and he has become the “go to” politician in Washington for clever and funny quotes.  He called out a Trump judicial nominee by saying: "Just because you’ve seen "My Cousin Vinny" doesn’t qualify you to be a federal judge."  With the right political name and a growing solid reputation in Washington, Kennedy has opted to stay involved on the national scene. The Edwards forces have breathed a sigh of relief.

Edwards will make an all-out effort to win re-election in the coming October primary.  He knows well that if he is forced into a run-off, President Trump will be actively lobbied by key Louisiana republicans to come into the state and actively support the republican challenger, either Abraham or Rispone. Although the President’s popularity has dipped in recent national polls, he still maintains a strong favorable rating in the Bayou State.  So his presence in a run-off would be welcomed by Edward’s opponent.

With the first primary election less than two months away, look for an all-out TV and radio blitz by Edwards, Abraham and Rispone.  If the Governor fails to win in the first primary, Louisiana voters will buckle up for knock down drag out political circus in the November general election.

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2019


August 15th, 2019
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


A voter would think that former Governor Bobby Jindal is running again in the coming fall elections.  Rarely does current Gov. John Bel Edwards make a speech where he does not lay all the state’s financial woes at the feet of Jindal. Why has Jindal become such a political punching bag with such a high negative among Louisiana voters?

We can turn to political sage and former Louisiana state senator Sixty Rayburn, who was well known for his folksy sayings during legislative sessions. He often urged his colleagues to never forget the folks back home when deciding issues at the state capitol. Sixty put it this way. “Always dance with the one that brought you.” It’s a lesson Bobby Jindal forgot during his final years as governor and during his quixotic campaign for president.

Jindal’s early appeal was that he was a young, articulate republican governor with an Indian American background. He wasn’t just another old white guy that has been the foundation of the national Republican Party in recent years. Most Louisianans don’t remember what a dynamo of youth and energy he radiated in his early political career. He was insatiable in traveling the state and seeking out problems to solve.
I remember back in 2005, following Hurricane Katrina, when I was having lunch with a local south Louisiana mayor. Jindal was a congressman at that time, but did not represent that part of the state. The mayor commented that Jindal regularly called to offer federal help, and shared his cell phone number. “He was doing the same for other officials all over the state,” he remembered. “The young fellow seemed to be everywhere.”
Jindal took the same approach in his early tenure as governor. His governing style was “hands on,” and he was readily available to the press and to the public. In fact, he was criticized by some for traveling each Sunday to a different church in the state, particularly in north Louisiana. His popularity was sky high.
But then his hubris got the best of him. National republicans, desperate to show that the GOP could grow a bigger tent, began embellishing the young governor as a future national leader. Ego took over, and Jindal began his quest to build a national image while ignoring Louisiana concerns. Governing Louisiana became an afterthought
Jindal counted on his policy experience as being a plus in attracting voters. Governor, congressman, and heading up health and education departments all were part of his resume’ of being a policy wonk. But most voters are not wonks. Numerous think tankers have been telling voters how to solve the nation’s problems for years, but with feeble success. Jindal got little traction with his institutional knowledge.
As his national campaign floundered, in desperation Jindal started lobbing grenades. He became incendiary in his rhetoric, staking out extreme positions on numerous issues that turned many voters off. Jindal’s rabble-rousing press releases were looked on by the national press as desperate efforts of a dying campaign.
But when all was said and done, it was the voters of Louisiana that pulled the plug on Jindal’s national ambitions. While Jindal traveled the country and abandoned his responsibilities as governor, financial problems continued to mount and voter frustrations boiled over. When he left office, Jindal’s unfavourability rating was at 70 percent, the worst rating buy any governor in the past 100 years.
Louisianans became fed up with a chief executive who discarded his state responsibilities to further his own personal agenda. And this frustration was recognized by the national press. The line on Jindal across the country was that if he could not handle problems at home, how could he lead on a national level? Jindal’s demise did not happen on the campaign trail. He shot himself in the foot by ignoring Louisiana problems.
Jindal will no doubt continue to be blamed for all the state’s woes for years to come.  Republicans did it for years putting the blame on Edwin Edwards. Beating up on past political leadership may be good politics, but it does not address solving the state’s fiscal mess.  After campaign season, it will be time to move on.

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, August 08, 2019


August 8th, 2019
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Qualifications have ended and it’s now a sprint to election day.  So what top issues should the candidates for governor and the legislature talk about in the coming weeks?  There is an abyss of a state with massive fiscal problems, an educational system that is dysfunctional, a healthcare system that needs a major overhauling, a highway system that has been neglected for years…get the picture?

So where to begin? Maybe these candidates who want to lead our state ought to take a deep breath, clear their heads, and curl up with several books. What you say? The Bayou State is going to hell in a hand basket, and the best you can come up with is to begin a reading list? OK. Just calm down a bit and read on.

A responsible new governor or legislator needs to first address the biggest single failure by the state’s leadership at many levels, and that’s the fiasco of not having a well thought-out master plan. The brushfires will continue to burn, so a short period of “getting a handle” on what to do in the long run will be critical for actually finding some workable solutions, rather than just plunging financial holes year after year.

First on the reading list is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  A New York Times best seller for years, Gladwell talks about how one can “catch up” when they are far behind in any given area.  If a state lags in educational attainment and needs to make a huge leap, as does Louisiana, it’s not just important to adopt what other progressive states are doing.  Louisiana is at the back of the pack in many areas, so there has to be a quantum leap forward. The Bayou State is to far behind the curve to merely try to catch up.

 Gladwell follows the same reasoning put forth in Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat. A kid in a small mountainous village in China has access to the same information as the student at a major American university, and thus has quickly closed the learning gap.  Say “computers.” Basic laptops are being given to students in a number of states. Less than $100. And both local businesses and foundations are donating large numbers. Louisiana is not in this mix. Why not?

Next, Greg Leroy’s The Great American Jobs Scam.  His premise, simply put, is to quit buying jobs from other states. It’s a giant waste of money.  Louisiana has paid out billions of dollars in recent years to bring new jobs into the state.  Leroy argues convincingly that these inducements do not work, and are never a major reason for a company moving for one state to another.  He cites numerous examples or CEOs saying, “of course we will take your money, but these state programs are never a significant reason for our company to move.”  These businesses were coming anyway.  They just play the state for all it was worth and bilk taxpayer dollars.

And finally, Start -Up Nation, by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. It’s a story of Israel’s economic miracle, but there are a number of good lessons for Louisiana.  Israel has no natural resources.  They are abundant in Louisiana.  Israel produces more start-up companies than do most of the world’s major industrialize countries.  Louisiana has few start-up companies.  Israel has more companies on the NASDAQ than those from all of Europe, Korea, Japan, Singapore, China and India combined.  Louisiana has one listed company.

The key, Senor argues, is how universities are brought into the mix.  Private-public think tanks have been formed, and the state has encouraged venture capital with tax breaks taking an aggressive pro new business attitude.  No outright effort to “buy” companies as does state government in Louisiana, but a business-state partnership that has produced bountiful new higher paying jobs.

There is a critical need for a concentrated review of what direction Louisiana will take in the years to come.  A long-range master plan filled with ideas taken from the best and brightest concepts in place all over the world. Such a roadmap should have been developed years ago. Will such ides be discussed in the weeks to come during campaign season? And will the next governor and new legislators heed the call? 

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

Friday, August 02, 2019


Thursday, August 1st, 2019
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


How do you put a dollar value on the worth of a public official? Attorneys working full time for the LSU Health Sciences Center are asking to be paid more than $400,000 a year. So how do you justify such large increases? How about this idea? Shouldn’t receiving such large salaries be based on results?
LSU football coach Ed Orgeron will pocket some four million dollars this year, making him one of the highest-paid football coaches in the nation. He received such an enormous salary package based on results. It’s the old adage that you get what you pay for, and with Orgeron, LSU ended the season with a top ten ranking.
Some state officials say they have to work seven days a week. But a lot of people work that hard. Should time and work be the only criteria in paying public employees? Why not pay the governor and other public officials based on a scale of how well they perform and what results they achieve?
It seems like someone is always giving the re-assurance that comes from the bogus public versus private sector comparisons. Fortune 500 CEOs make on average $10 million.  Some would argue that paying the Governor of Louisiana $130,000 a year to oversee a $30 billion enterprise is a real bargain! But what about results?
 I would surmise that most voters in Louisiana would think it’s a good idea to pay elected officials based on performance. But how do you do it? When you talk about results, it is certainly easier to define it in the private sector. Results are measured in the stock price of a publicly traded company or by profit in any other company. The more the company makes, the more its managers can earn.
But can you create an accountability and production index in government? I think you can. This would be a challenge for key economists at Louisiana universities. Develop a formula that would give a “performance index.” Sounds difficult, but why not give it a try?
I suggest starting with the “misery index” we’ve heard so much about. This so-called misery index, you may recall, is the sum of the Louisiana unemployment rate added to the state’s inflation rate. Go ahead and pay Gov. John Bel Edwards and his brain trust the big bucks. The Governor should make $1 million a year. But this amount would be adjusted by the misery index. Right now, the index is a relatively low 8%, so Edwards’ salary would be close to what he now makes: $130,000. Remember you divide the whole number, not the percentage. 
We should build into the formula increases in high school math performance, elementary student test results, reduction in the state’s troubling pollution levels, and maybe the number of new movies that are shot in Louisiana each year. Leave out the LSU national football ratings, but include the student athlete graduation rates.
Finally, I would factor in consumer confidence. Are the voters getting tangible results? Are they happy with the performance of their top public officials? If you own shares of stock, and have little confidence in your company investment, you simply sell the stock. The average Joe ought to be able to put in his two cents worth as to the value he’s getting out of Louisiana government. Get his opinion through a statewide poll, and factor the results in to the performance Index.
So to public officials working in Louisiana, I say make your case and ask for the salary level you think you are worth. But just like in the private sector, be prepared to defend the bottom line. The proof of course is in the pudding. Be accountable for the results that take place. And if you succeed, reap the benefits.
In ancient Rome, there was a tradition when major projects were built. Whenever a Roman engineer constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible. He stood under the arch.
Pay these pied pipers of change and economic growth the big bucks they say they are worth. But keep them directly under the arch of performance. And let voters know there will be a day of reckoning if this promise of change and results plummet to the ground.
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