Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Wednesday September 27th8, 2023

Jerusalem, Israel




     Regular readers of my weekly columns know that I write about a cross-section of issues, from politics to good eating, insurance issues, heroes, the joys of living in the country, and even who I think killed JFK. I don’t often write about spiritual issues.  But hey, give me a little leeway here. I’m eighty-three and maybe it’s time to get right with the Lord. Remember the song by Beatles’ George Harrison who wrote:


My sweet Lord
Hm, my Lord
I really want to see you
Really want to be with you
Really want to see you, Lord
But it takes so long, my Lord


     Maybe it’s taken so long, but it’s time I take a look at my spiritually.  Firm up just what I religiously believe. 


      Elle Wiesel is a Holocaust survivor and a Nobel Prize winning author. Our grandchildren attended the same school in New York, and we had visited about his writings before his recent death. He tells the story about Adam in the Book of Genesis, fleeing after biting into the forbidden fruit. The Lord asks him: “Ayekha, where are you?”  Of course, the creator knew where Adam was hiding.  What he was really asking was, just what have you done with your life Adam? What will your legacy be? What have you accomplished? Ayekha? 


     I am asking the same question of myself.  To undertake this quest, this spiritual journey if you will, I left Louisiana a few days ago and as you read this column, I’m exploring specific sites in Jerusalem.  I’m here in the Holy Land alone, and I do not consider myself a tourist.  I have a specific agenda of locations to explore, and a few people to meet and share with them just why I traveled halfway around the world to come to this complicated city. Yes, Jerusalem is complicated.  All three major religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, claim Jerusalem as their founding location.


     My base is St. George College, situated just a 10-minute walk from the Damascus Gate in the heart of the Holy City. St. George is a 100-year-old Anglican pilgrimage center that welcomes pilgrims such as myself from all around the world. I was allowed to stay there after being recommended by Rev. Randy Hollerith who is currently the Dean of Washington National Cathedral in the nation’s capital.  I have known Rev. Hollerith for several years during his visits to the North Carolina mountains where I stay a part of each summer.


     From my base at St. George, I will travel each day to specific locations on my agenda. At first will be a site on the Jordan River where Christ was baptized by John the Baptist.  This is where Christ’s mission on earth, at least in my opinion, really began.  Then on to the Mount of Beatitudes, a hill in Northern Israel where Christ delivered the Sermon on the Mount. I believe it was there that he no longer was observed as an obscure Rabbi, but immerged as not only a teacher, but the prophet for ages to come. Then back to Jerusalem to walk the Villa Dolorosa, following the steps of Christ in his final path to his crucifixion and his burial site.


     I cannot go to Jerusalem without a mandatory stop at the Holocaust Museum. And on Sunday, I will go to the Church of St. Mark where services are held in Aramaic, the original language of Jesus.


     What do I hope to find in my journey?  Will the Lord speak to me? Probably not, but there surely is no better place in the world to search out and explore my faith.  I will certainly meditate a good bit.  And write. To write about my past and my hopes about the future.  All in an effort to keep alive and answer the first question in the Bible.  Ayekha.  Where are you?


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 listen to his regular podcast at







Sunday, September 17, 2023


Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Monday, September 18th, 2023




President Donald Trump faces four different criminal trials in the coming months. Should each of these trials be televised for the public to watch and judge? The Supreme Court has stood steadfastly against letting the public watch the cases argued before them, even though the court’s decisions can often have major implications for every American. The Constitution guarantees that trials are public and open to everyone. So what could be more public than televising the former president’s criminal trials for the whole world to see?

The criminal justice system could use some help. A majority of Americans feel that justice often does not prevail. A nationwide poll by the respected Rasmussen Reports found that 45% of Americans feel that the justice system is unfair.   Only 34% felt that the system is unbiased.  That’s a lot of cynicism. Maybe more public trials would help skeptics gain more confidence in a system where many feel over half the time that justice is not served.

America has a strong tradition of public trials. In early colonial America, courthouses were the centers of community life, and most citizens regularly attended criminal trials. In fact, trials frequently became community events. Citizens were knowledgeable about trials, and there was wide participation in the process, especially in rural America where prosecutions were often scheduled on market day, when local farmers came to town for supplies. Many courtrooms were built to accommodate 300 or more observers.

Back then, citizens closely observed the defendants, knew when judges issued ridiculous rulings, and saw firsthand whenever justice was perverted. Whatever happened, the citizens were there, watching.  The court system belonged to them. The televising of criminal trials would merely be an extension of this direct review by the average citizen.

Would televising criminal trials create a circus atmosphere? There’s no reason to think that they would. In fact, many of our most sacred ceremonies, including church services and inaugurations, are televised without dignity being lost. Judge Burton Katz said it well: “We should bring pressure to bear on all judges to open up their courtrooms to public scrutiny. Members of the judiciary enjoy great entitlements and wield enormous power. They bear close watching by an informed public. I guarantee that the public would be amazed at what goes on in some court rooms.”


The trials of the former President would garner huge TV ratings, just like the Watergate Hearings and the O.J. Simpson trial. Over 150 million viewers, 57 % of the country, watched the live verdict of the Simpson trial.


Back in 1997 when I was a practicing attorney in Louisiana, I participated in the state’s first televised trial before the Louisiana Supreme Court. A state senator was opposing my authority to impound the automobiles of uninsured drivers.  I was the elected state Insurance Commissioner at the time, and represented the state in our effort to uphold the impoundment law. The issue was important to the vast majority of Louisianans, and I strongly felt that the public was entitled to hear the arguments and watch the trial in progress.  No one pandered to the cameras, and the entire courtroom procedure was straightforward and dignified Despite a strongly emotional and controversial issue at stake, the proceedings were televised without a hitch.

Harvard law professor and criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz put it this way: “Live television coverage may magnify the faults in the legal system and show it warts and all. But in a democracy, the public has the right to see its institutions in operation, close-up.  Moreover, live television coverage generally brings out the best, not the worst in judges, lawyers, and other participants.  The video camera helps to keep the system honest by keeping it open.”


America prides itself in being an open society that protects and encourages the public’s right to know. Too often, courtrooms have become bastions of secrecy where the public has little understanding of how the system works and how verdicts are reached.

The video camera serves as a check and balance.  We can better keep the system honest by keeping it open and easily available to the public. It’s time to turn on the cameras.

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 listen to his regular podcast at





Sunday, September 10, 2023


Monday, September 11th, 2023

Baton Rouge, Louisiana




     I was paying my bill at the local supermarket here in Baton Rouge when the lady at the cash register asked me, “Are you going to the game in Tiger Stadium Saturday night?”  I paused for a minute, then told her: “I think my days going to Tiger Stadium are over.”  She looked disappointed and told me, “Yeah, they sure are off to a terrible start. That Florida State game was embarrassing.”

     It just wasn’t the loss that turned me off.  Yes, like so many other Tiger fans, I had such great expectations. You have this coach that is paid $10 million a year, and recruits that have been brought in from all over America.  No, it’s not the loss to Florida State.  It’s my recognition that LSU football has evolved into a professional, curated, revenue-generating activity, and we are all forced to admit that football in the Bayou State has become a professional sport.  It’s pay to play at the state’s flagship university, where every angle is used to bring in the big bucks. 

      LSU has dived headfirst into vice attractions including alcohol sales at home football games and wide-open sports betting.  In fact, the state’s major university was openly soliciting students to gamble online. Even though it’s against the law for someone in Louisiana to gamble who is under 21, LSU had been illegally soliciting students to sign up for an online account and gamble on any number of sports.  Soliciting underage students only stopped when this column pointed out this illegal effort.  So we have alcohol and gambling as cash generators at LSU.  Is cannabis next?

     The college transfer portal has allowed players to jump from school to school at will.  Thirteen new transfer players are on the LSU roster this year, with many racking up on big bucks from NIL (name, image and likeness) dollars.  There are seven football players who are bringing in as much as $700,000 based on their NIL valuation. Many of these transfers come and go, and are out the door and out of state the minute they’re eligibility is over, or they become unhappy with how much playing time they receive.

     Remember the old days when we watched Louisiana high school football players excel with their hopes of playing at LSU? And if they were lucky enough to get a scholarship and come, they stayed for four years. And for the rest their lives they considered LSU a highlight in their aging experience.  How about all American Bert Jones from Ruston, three time all American Tommy Casanova from Crowley, all American running back Kevin Faulk from Carencro, and of course everybody’s all American Billy Cannon.  All Louisiana guys who we followed from high school to their stardom at LSU, and all who went on to live and work in Louisiana. With the transfer portal in play, those days are gone.

     Every athlete on scholarship at LSU receives a baseline deal of $25,000.  Better players collect much more, and many even have agents representing them. Players are no longer college kids but are considered employees of the university.

     I understand that athletes are told there are three priorities at LSU.  Number one is football, number two is football, and number three?  Why football of course. The Wall Street Journal released it’s ranking of colleges across the United States this week.  LSU academically came in at 199th.

      Head football coach Brian Kelly summed up the university’s thinking when he talked about his former coaching job at Notre Dame. Kelly told ESPN that “the whole landscape there is different than it is here. It just is. There are priorities at Notre Dame. The architectural building needed to get built first. They ain’t building the architect building here first. We’re building the athletic training facility first.”  Well put Coach. To hell with academics. It’s all about football.

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 listen to his regular podcast at





Sunday, September 03, 2023


Monday, September 4th, 2023

Baton Rouge, Louisiana




I am really confused about what’s going on in this country today.  At one time, the conventional wisdom was that the Democrats were for the blue-collar workingman, and the Republicans were for upper crust elites.  Now country music songs have entered the philosophical fray, and it’s hard to tell who is for what.


I wrote a column a few weeks ago about country music star Jason Aldean’s smash hit, “Try That in a Small Town.” The reaction from city dwelling columnists, particularly on the East Coast, was simply farcical and ridiculous. Now a new country hit that has also stirred up both widespread support as well and criticism has created another political divide.


Until a few weeks ago, Oliver Anthony was just a high school dropout who was living in his camper with a tarp over the roof.  But his self-written song, “Rich Men North of Richmond,” has come out of nowhere to be the number one song on the Billboard hot 100 chart.  This song has a pretty simple message.  The average working guy is getting screwed over by the system, while corporate heads are making off like bandits with huge salary packages.




I’ve been sellin’ my soul, workin’ all day
Overtime hours for bullsh– pay
So I can sit out here and waste my life away
Drag back home and drown my troubles away

It’s a damn shame what’s the worlds gotten to

For people like me and people like you


Sounds like the long-standing mantra of the Democratic Party going back to FDR who spoke about “the forgotten man,” or Robert Kennedy’s lament for “the shattered dreams of others.”  But wait!  Democratic publications are labeling the song right wing propaganda and “racist trash,” while Republicans are calling the song the “anthem of forgotten Americans.” Fox News even began their recent presidential debate with the song and asked all the candidates to weigh in on it.


Anthony may be on to something when he talks about the lousy pay that average blue-collar workers are receiving. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that blue-collar earnings were higher in 1969, adjusted for inflation, then they are today.  We talk a lot in this country today about race, but few politicians seem upset about class. In fact, many in the more liberal press label the white working class, particularly in the south, as little more than bigots. Harvard professor Michael Sandel, in his book “What’s Become of the Common Good?” argues that we live in an age of winners and losers, where the odds are stacked in favor of the already fortunate. The American credo that “you can make it if you try,” just doesn’t seem to work anymore.


Anthony rejects any political labels and considers himself “just some idiot and his guitar.”  He says that his song is meant to blast politicians on both sides of the political spectrum.  He’s very vocal in lamenting that “people talk about epidemics in this country, and the homelessness, and the drug use and the lack of skilled labor and the suicide rates. Those aren’t problems; those are symptoms of a bigger, universal problem…. We don’t talk about it enough.”


He picks up on a theme I wrote about some weeks back about the fact that fentanyl imported from Mexico kills over 70,000 Americans a year, yet we just don’t get that excited about such a crisis.  Losing hope and self-medicating has created a social great depression.  Columnist Nicholas Kristof points out that we lose more Americans to “deaths of despair” every 10 days than the total of all the service members killed in two decades of war in Afghanistan in Iraq.


The singer is apparently hitting a responsive note.  Internet sales of “Anthony for President” T-shirts are booming. His simple premise makes a lot of sense. Quit scorning our workers and give them a little respect.  Seems to make a lot of common sense for politicians in both parties to latch on to.


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 listen to his regular podcast at




Sunday, August 27, 2023


Monday, August 28th, 2023

Baton Rouge, Louisiana




If you live in Louisiana, we know all about a dysfunctional response to natural disasters. Remember Katrina? Are we witnessing another lackadaisical and dysfunctional response to the wildfire tragedy on the island of Maui in the Hawaiian lands?  So far, news reports cite some 2000 businesses and homes destroyed with over 1000 residents who still remain uncounted for. 

There’s a Coast Guard station on Maui, and 12 military bases throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Yet the military response to this tragedy has been summed up as “underwhelming.”  The Washington Post reported numerous comments of locals, saying: “Where are the uniforms? Where is the military?  Waterman Mel Thoman, known as @wedgemel on Instagram, posted a video that expressed his bewilderment.  “My question is, where is the military? Where are the helicopters? Why are it the locals having to do everything?”

And then there is FEMA. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was authorized by the President to undertake a major federal disaster team effort on the day of the fire, August 9th.  But the first disaster team did not even open its first center on Maui until a week later on Aug. 15th.  A week went by, the fires continued to rage, and FEMA was nowhere to be found.

FEMA apparently just doesn’t get it. Back in 2005 when Katrina hit the greater New Orleans area, my brother-in-law was serving as sheriff in Plaquemine Parish. He told me that the Canadian mounted police made it down to Plaquemines before the first federal officials showed up. FEMA back then was headed by a former cattle show organizer.  One can only wonder if improvements for better responses have found their way to the nation’s supposedly top disaster relief agency.

President Biden did go to Maui, but he’s being accused of not being “tuned in” as to just how damaging the fires were. While petting a local dog the President joked about the boots the canine was wearing. "You guys catch the boots out here?" Biden appeared to ask the press watching him. He smiled and said, "That’s some hot ground, man." 

We here in the Bayou State have not forgotten the childish effort of one upmanship between then Governor Kathleen Blanco and President George Bush during Katrina. Blanco dithered for several days after Bush told her the federal government was willing to take over a full response.  She finally agreed, but only after continuing damage was inflicted on Louisianians within the disaster area due to her delay. As Governor Edwin Edwards later, told me, “I would’ve given it to the president in a New York second. Then the pressure would be on him to respond and give the state much more help.”

And just as New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagan back in 2005 failed miserably to prepare for the oncoming storm, local officials in Maui were far from the top of their game. The head of Maui’s emergency management agency failed to sound a statewide warning system by saying he was worried their alarms would have sent many residents inland “into the fire.” 

But state Sen. Angus McKelvey – who lost his own home in the fires – blasted agency head’s response as insulting. “I’ve heard the line that ‘people would have panicked and ran up to the mountains because it’s a tsunami siren.’ … It’s insulting to think that people would be that clueless, that they wouldn’t know that sirens blasting was because of the fire,” McKelvey told CNN on Thursday. “These are not tsunami sirens. They’re disaster sirens.”

Even as this column is being written, some two weeks after the blazes began, there are still hundreds of locals sleeping on golf courses, beaches and in cars. A much more robust response needs to be in the planning on both state and federal level.  When hurricanes have a potential to hit land, there is generally a several day window to prepare.  But our country is witnessing an uptick in weather related disasters that give very little if any warning. Brush, fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, and flooding require much more advanced planning. Public officials just can’t wait until the worst happens.


We live in a different weather-related world today.  Leadership has been weak following Katrina and is apparently feeble in Maui. One would have thought that we would have learned a lesson or two in the last 18 years. Apparently not.


 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 listen to his regular podcast at




Sunday, August 20, 2023


Monday, August 21st, 2023

Baton Rouge, Louisiana




     When the big issues are at stake, it seems like there’s always a Louisiana connection. The Louisiana Purchase, the Battle of New Orleans, the first shot of the Civil War was fired by a Louisiana Brigade.  So how does all this relate to Donald Trump?  Read on.


     We’ve never witnessed a politician quite like Donald Trump.  We all know he’s belligerent, arrogant, cocky, bullheaded, vicious in his attacks, demanding constant loyalty, and only loyal himself to those who continually genuflect to him.  Yet his popularity continues to stay high, particularly in the state of Louisiana.  Yes, Trump is a unique politician the likes of which we’ve never seen in this country before. Or is he?


Let’s checkout some words of wisdom that we all have come to hear regularly from Trump.

“Always take the offensive. The defensive ain’t worth a damn.”

 “One day,” he told an audience, “You pick up the papers and see where I killed four priests. Another day I murdered twelve nuns, and the next day I poisoned four hundred babies. I have not got time to answer all of them.”

And then there is this one.  “I have more enemies in the United States than any little man I know of.”

“You sometimes have to fight fire with fire. The end justifies the means.”

“I used to get things done by saying please. Now I dynamite them out of my path.”

     Sure sounds like Trump, doesn’t it. That’s just his way of operating, but would you be surprised to learn that those are not his words? Nope, they come right out of the great State of Louisiana.  They are from the Bayou prognosticator himself, ole’ Huey Long. 

     All the quotes above fit both politicians well.  Just as Huey Long made Louisiana politics all about him, Trump has done the same nationally. Both of them were big personas; they each made themselves the main issue, and the chief dividing line.

     Trump and Long would be defined as authoritarian populists. They both shared a philosophy that they, and they alone truly represented a majority of voters.  They each tapped in to views of their supporters that their voices were not being heard, and that the political establishment was out to get them.  Both Trump and Long were impeached while in office, but both survived.

     A reporter once asked Long if he was a fascist. “Fine,” Long told him in a conversation that took place less than a year before he was killed. “I’m Mussolini and Hitler rolled into one. Mussolini [force-fed dissidents] castor oil; I’ll give them tabasco, and then they’ll like Louisiana.” Then he laughed.

     Trump also quoted Mussolini in his first campaign for president saying: “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” When asked if he wanted to be associated with a fascist, Trump said: “No, I want to be associated with interesting quotes. And people, you know, I have almost 14 million people between Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and all of that. And we do interesting things. And I sent it out. And certainly, hey, it got your attention, didn’t it?”

     Politico Magazine had this to say last week about the two towering political figures: “The similarities between the two suggest that to pull this off requires a larger-than-life personality, an us-vs.-them populist view of the world and a mode of communication and operation that, through its outrageousness, underlines the constant conflict with the powers-that-be and their supposedly worthless norms and rules.”

     Long knew the value of publicity, any publicity — without ever dealing, like Trump, with the New York tabloids on a daily basis or starring in a reality TV show. “I don’t care,” he said, “what they say about me as long as they say something.”

     Before he was assassinated in 1935, Huey Long was dealing with numerous investigations and corruption charges. President Trump now faces similar challenges that continue to pile up on him.  Huey Long’s death ended his confrontations in the Bayou State. With indictments in four different jurisdictions, President Trump still has a long road ahead of him.


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 listen to his regular podcast at




Wednesday, August 16, 2023


Wednesday, August 16th, 2023

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


     Headlines across Louisiana blared out in recent weeks that automobile insurance rates in the state will see a huge increase.  State Farm, whose rate request was rubberstamped by the Department of Insurance, will increase its rates by an average of 17.3%. Progressive Insurance Company will increase just over 10% while Allstate will jump up 18%, GEICO by more than 19% and, get this, USAA will increase its rates by nearly 34%.

     So what happened to all those reductions that Louisiana policyholders were promised when the legislature took away many policyholder rights several years ago?  The reductions were supposed to be really big.  By 25 % said the insurance commissioner. But when political courage wanes and politicians search for a quick fix to age-old problems, they often seek out a scapegoat to blame. “Passing the buck” on someone else is standard operating procedure at the state legislature in Baton Rouge.  A number of new laws, all proposed by the insurance industry, made it more difficult for policyholders to sue in court. 

     It must be all the lawsuits, say the insurance companies.  But a recent study by the U.S Chamber of Commerce’s Institute of Legal Reform showed that Louisiana is within the national average when it comes to per capita cost of lawsuits involving auto accidents. So lawsuits are a minor part of why Louisiana has such high insurance rates. 

     Anderson Cooper on CNN has done a series of reports (all available online) about how the nation’s top auto insurance companies deliberately drag out jury trials in an effort to wear down — financially and physically — those damaged in auto accidents.  Many insurance departments turn the other way to this calculated effort by the insurance industry to lessen the amount it have has to pay out.

      And here’s what really should concern policy holders across the state.  The cost of insurance actually doesn’t have a lot to do with how one drives their car.  A whole list of non-driving factors figure into just what a driver is charged for car insurance.  Many of the factors are ridiculous. A number of other states, with much lower insurance costs, prohibit the use of non-driving factors. Consumer reports released a study of what a driver with a DWI conviction is paying for auto insurance. With good credit, the driver with a DWI is charged as much as $900 less than a Louisiana driver with a perfect driving record but with poor credit rating. A driver who is a blue-collar worker pays more for insurance than a driver with a college degree. And how about this? A widow pays more than someone who is married. In fact, with some companies, just being a woman gets a driver paying more. Go figure.

     So how did the legislature respond to efforts lower insurance costs in this past legislative session?  Legislation was introduced that would have banned the use of credit scores and occupation in rate-setting. But with strong opposition from the insurance industry and the Louisiana Insurance Department, this progressive change that would have helped Louisiana policyholders who were good drivers didn’t have a chance.

     There are a barrel of reasons why Louisiana leads the nation in high auto insurance rates.  It’s going to take a concentrated effort by legislators, the Governor and insurance officials to put a comprehensive program in place that will cause auto rates to go down.  Looking for quick fixes by blaming lawyers, judges or any one group is disingenuous and will do little to address what has become a financial crisis for many drivers in Louisiana.

     Don’t count on any premium reductions soon ion the Bayou State.  Much more needs to be done. 

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 listen to his regular podcast at