Archive for the ‘Jim Brown’ Category
Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
WILL JINDAL AND LANDRIEU FACE-OFF IN SENATE RACE?
Two seasoned political pros, who have lost a bit of their luster, may make the same big grab for political limelight in Washington. And what would be a surprise to many, they just might be racing against each other. Incumbent Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, the state’s longest serving statewide elected official is hoping to extend her career in Washington for another six years. And Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who has lost a good bit of his traction on the national scene and is looking for a place to land, may be taking a close look at challenging Landrieu next year.
The Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, headed by Ohio Senator Rob Portman, has profiled Landrieu as the most vulnerable Democrat up for re election in 2014. Control of the U.S. senate is at stake and the numbers bode well for Republicans. Of the 35 senate seats to be decided next year, 21 are presently held by Democrats. Six Democrats have announced their retirement, including long serving veterans like Montana Senator Max Baucus, Michigan’s Carl Levin and Iowa’s Tom Harkin. So the Republicans see an opening that could allow them to take over the senate leadership.
Polls show Obamacare is losing support, giving Republicans a strong position against Democrats, and the issue seems to have legs. And history is on the side of Republicans. At no time has a sitting president’s party gained senate seats. In fact, in more recent elections, Democratic losses have averaged six seats. So the GOP, with some justification, feels buoyant over their chances to regain control. Landrieu’s defeat is a key to the Republican effort, and one can expect that major out-of-state dollars will be abundant in supporting her Republican opponent. Continue Reading………….
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
LATEST EROSION OF FREEDOMS NOTHING NEW!
In the past week, the Washington establishment is in crisis mode over a series of revelations of government intrusions that would seem to go way over the line of what is constitutionally legal. First, the Internal Revenue Service admitted it had targeted Tea Party groups for priority audits. Then came another bombshell disclosure. The Justice Department had secretly seized and monitored phone records from the Associated Press, which is a direct threat to a news organization’s constitutional right to gather and report the news.
Is this a new chapter in the country moving toward a “Brave New World?” Hardly. This type of undermining of one’s constitutional rights has been going on for years. The press turned its back on gross attacks on our individual freedoms as the Patriot Act “legalized” a litany of personal and private invasions that our constitution was intended to prevent.
The difference is that now, the abuse is hitting close to home. “The audacity of invading the freedoms of the press and political groups like the Tea Party!” many cry out. But where were the voices of such concern during a whole rash of such individual privacy invasions during the Bush and, now, the Obama Administration? Both Democrats and Republicans, who now express outrage, stood by and allowed the Patriot Act to sweep individual protections under the rug.
In an interview with CNN this past week, former FBI counter terrorism agent Tim Clemente said that the FBI could listen to phone conversations between anybody they wanted. “Welcome to America,” he said. “All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.” Continue Reading…….
………………..I still listen to the 50s music on the radio and remember, well, dancing in high school to Jerry Lee Lewis — Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On. In the 60s, I was a Ferriday lawyer representing the likes of Jerry Lee and his cousin Jimmy Swaggart. Three daughters and country living dominated the 70s, and politics took over my life in the 80s and 90s. The Feds were an irritant in the early new century, but I survived and have branched out in a number of new directions. Our visit each week through this column and on the radio is one more reflection of living life to the fullest. Four grandchildren in the past decade is the icing on the cake.
Tolstoy, in boyhood, wrote: “I am convinced that if I should ever live to a ripe old age and my story keeps pace with my age, I shall daydream just as boyishly and impractically as an old man of 70 as I do now.” I once thought I daydreamed too much. But isn’t that what creative people do? Painters, musicians, poets, actors are all full of aspirations and dreams, many out of reach.
I’ve tried to flush out an occasional creative vibe. Painting with a granddaughter, who, at eleven years old, is much better than me. Refreshing my banjo skills. Would you believe that in my twenties, I helped pay my way through law school by strumin’ the banjo at Your Father’s Mustache on Bourbon Street in New Orleans? Even a stint as an actor in the Three Penny Opera and The Fantasticks at several local theatres in the French Quarter. It took a while, but I finally figured out that I shouldn’t worry about being all that skilled at many things. It was better to delight in the pursuit, and find clarity by enjoying the undertaking itself, regardless of my limited talent. Continue Reading……………..
Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
BIG BANKS WANT TO STAY TOO BIG TO FAIL!
In the movie Wall Street, Michael Douglas’s character Gordon Gecko summed up the attitude of major U.S. banks quite well: “Greed is good.” And this certainly appears to be true, at least for the banks, because after all, the federal government has made it clear that even after the 2008 financial debacle, where hundreds of billions’ of dollars were poured into the likes of these big guys, no effective new rules have been put into place and no major banker has been held accountable.
The old axiom is true. The more the big banks take irresponsible risks and commit out- right fraud, the more things stay the same, as the regulatory system looks the other way. That is until the banks face major losses and cry for help. Then the federal dollars begin to flow and bailout checks pour out of the federal treasury with the force of a flooding river.
Remember just five years ago? The big banks made off like bandits. J.P. Morgan Chase received $25 billion. Bank of America cashed in for $15 billion. Citigroup was the recipient of $25 billion, while both Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley received $10 billion, each. With all this money being handed over by taxpayers, surely the rules of financial solvency and bank accountability would be overhauled. Too many risky investments and not enough money kept in reserve was the cry. Continue Reading………..
Thursday, April 25th, 2013
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
THE BOMBER, MIRANDA AND THE CONSTITUTION!
Constitutional rights for the Boston bomber? Are you kidding? For days we watched the video footage of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev walking the streets of Boston with a backpack loaded with a homemade bomb. A growing list of circumstantial evidence points to his guilt. Yes, he is a naturalized American citizen, but we watched this drama unfold on TV and he seems to be about as guilty as you can get. So why does this heinous accused murderer deserve any rights at all?
Polls taken by local media across the country show that the public considers the bomber to be a terrorist. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham summed up the prevailing view in a tweet: “The Law of War allows us to hold an individual in this scenario as an enemy combatant without Miranda warnings or appointment of counsel. The last thing we may want to do is to read Boston suspect Miranda Rights.” So the question is: Does the constitution protect the rights of every American citizen in the United States? First of all, were these two brothers enemy combatants or terrorists? There is no evidence so far that they received either encouragement or specific help from any outside source. They were apparently religious fanatics, but is that enough to call this a terrorist attack?
If these two distorted and warped young men are to be labeled terrorists or enemy combatants as Senators Graham and McCain have suggested, then what’s the difference between what they did and what happened in Tucson, Columbine, Aurora and Sandy Hook? At the Sandy Hook elementary school, 26 people were shot and killed including 20 children. Was the shooter, Adam Lanza a terrorist? At a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, 70 people were shot and 12 died. And how about the Tucson shooting by Jared Loughner, where 19 people were shot including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and where 6 were killed? Ten years ago two teenagers killed 12 students, a teacher, and themselves at suburban Denver’s Columbine High School. As horrendous as these killings were — were any of them really acts of terrorism? Continue Reading……………………..
Thursday, April 4th, 2013
SHOULD YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO DIE?
We pride ourselves as Americans in our lifestyle choices. The right to freedom of choice, protecting our individual assertion of free will, and deciding just how we want to live our lives. And yes, we have the right to access. You can live a gluttonous life by overindulging in many personal hazards.
You know smoking causes lung cancer, but making a personal decision to smoke is your right. Drinking in access leads to a number of health concerns, but that’s your choice. Obesity by overeating? Not good, but no law can legally restrain your decision to carry too much weight. You can live where your want, and do what you want with few limitations.
That is, up until you want to shut things down and end your life. In the vast majority of states, that’s when the government takes over. You have the right to decide how you live, but you do not have the same right to decide, at least legally, when you want to end your life. Should you have such a right?
Washington and Oregon, say “yes,” and they’ve passed legislation where a patient can ask a doctor for medication to end life. Under these “physician assisted suicide” or “death with dignity laws,” as they are known, there are strict requirements as to the patient’s condition that must be met before these laws can be applied. Two other states, Montana and Wyoming, have no specific law, but courts have given protections to doctors who give such assistance. Continue Reading………..
Friday, March 15th, 2013
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
A WACKO NUT JOB OVER FREEDOMS?
Although I lean towards libertarian thinking, I’ve never been particularly enamored with Kentucky U. S. Senator Rand Paul, who, like his father, is a staunch libertarian. Maybe it’s his messy curly hair. But I certainly don’t consider Paul to be a “wacko nut job” as Senator McCain called him on the floor of the U.S. Senate last week. If Paul is a “wacko nut job,” than I guess I’m one too.
The subject was the use of drones, and could they be used against American citizens on U.S. soil. Paul raised the question, a legitimate one in my opinion, as to whether America is now regarded as a battlefield where a U.S. citizen can be considered to be an enemy combatant who can be killed without due process of law. Paul further asked, “Is any president the judge, jury and executioner all in one.” The Senator’s concerns went to the heart of just what are the constitutional rights guaranteed to any U. S. citizen.
The drone question itself has raised many questions by skeptics as to their actual value, and could such strikes be doing more harm than good. Recently retired General Stanley McChrystal, who was commander of joint forces in Afghanistan, concludes that drone strikes have caused America to be hated in many areas of the Middle East. And he wondered just how Americans would feel if drones began being lobbed into the U.S. by Mexico. Continue Reading…………….
Thursday, March 7th, 2013
New Orleans, Louisiana
Arguing with God in New Orleans!
Like millions of Americans this past Sunday, I sat down to watch the much-hyped, The Bible miniseries on the History Channel. But you can only cover so much in ten hours, so viewers ended up watching the Bible’s greatest hits, a series of theme-park tableaus of one disaster after another. The stories played out like a Mel Gibson redux, where suffering dominates the religious landscape. The lyric and joy that gives life and hope to believers was lost in this turmoil of struggle and sacrifice.
Unfortunately, at least in the first week’s presentation, the series overlooked the fact the Bible is a must read touchstone of Western civilization. As a layman who has spent a fair amount of time reading the Bible, I can tell you that there is some really good stuff to soak kin. Well yes, you have to overlook al those “begats.”
And maybe it’s not unanimously considered great literature, in the genre of Shakespeare, Milton, Dostoyevsky or Proust. But remember that unless you believe that everything in the Bible is the absolute word of God, then the Good Book is not one homogenous work by one author, but a collection of writers or oral historians passing down their interpretations from one generation to the next. Many would argue that each book must stand on its own. Psalms, Proverbs and the Song of Solomon offer beautiful, uplifting inspiration. Other books are, well, boring.
I write all this as background to a big problem I have with God, which is set out in the book of Genesis. Most biblical scholars consider the Book of Genesis to be the foundation for belief in the Biblical. Genesis is not just the first book of the Bible, it is the bedrock for the rest of the theological truths found in all the books of both the Old and New Testaments. Continue Reading…….
March 1st, 2013
St. John, The Virgin Islands
ALL YOU REALLY NEED IS A SHOTGUN, TWO SHELLS, AND INSURANCE, HUH?
The ongoing gun debate had two new elements added to the mix this past week. Vice President Joe Biden suggested that a shotgun was all any individual needed for self-protection. And several states proposed legislation that would to require gun owner’s insurance for anyone possessing a firearm. Do either of these proposals make sense?
Here is what the Vice President suggested in a Town Hall meeting sponsored by Parents Magazine: “If there are bad guys on the property, walk out on the balcony and fire a couple blasts from their double-barrel shotgun. You don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself,” he adds, “and a shotgun’s easier to aim than an assault-style rifle. Plus, two shotgun blasts should scare off most intruders,” Biden says.
Is he right? Maybe, maybe not. Let me share a personal experience. Back in the 1970s, I lived out in the country on a long gravel road in a rural part of Northeast Louisiana. The closest law-enforcement station was 30 miles away, and there were no neighbors close by.
I was home alone, one evening, and it was little after midnight when I thought I saw a faint flickering of light the through the trees. I got out of bed, and went out on the porch (as the Vice President suggested) for better view, and a yes, I could see several lights on my property, about 100 yards away. I stood there, watching for a few minutes. Then the lights disappeared. I called the local sheriff’s office, knowing that it would be a good while before the deputy could be on the scene. Were they approaching the house? I had no idea. But not wanting to be on the defensive in my own home, I decided to go outside. Continue Reading…………
Thursday, February 21st, 2013
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
BIG BANKS AND THEIR CRIMINAL LEADERS GO SCOTT FREE!
After years of financial chicanery, federal prosecutors have decided that Wall Street manipulators are both too big to fail, and too big to jail. The most recent culprit, in what seems to be a conspiracy to “go soft” on financial shenanigans, is the British owned bank, HSBC, that was granted a criminal reprieve and monetary slap on the wrist for confecting the largest drug and terrorism money laundering scheme in U.S. history. To give the aura of being tough on crime, the Justice Department levied a fine of $1.9 billion, which amounts to about five weeks of profit for this international bank for highly suspect, if not outright criminal actions, quite possibly extending as far back as 2001.
HSBC is far from the only bank guilty of such deplorable dealings. There has been a pattern of the largest banks on Wall Street engaging in the most relentless and irresponsible behavior – and this has undermined the entire U.S. financial system. At a U.S. Senate hearing in Washington last week, Senator Elisabeth Warren from Massachusetts confronted bank regulators and ask if they could identify any example of Wall Street bankers being criminally charged and taken to trial. The regulators could only say: “We will get back to you.”
Financial columnist Matt Taibbi concluded in a recent column: “Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial–crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth – and nobody went to jail. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom has ever been convicted.”
In the case of HSBC, it was the financial lapdog for a number of Mexican drug cartels, many of whom were suspected in thousands of murders during the past decade. The bank also had ties and handled money exchanges for groups linked to Russian gangsters, Hezbollah, Iran, North Korea and Al Qaeda. This was not your friendly, local neighborhood bank. So why wasn’t the bank and key employees charged with assorted federal crimes? Continue reading………….
Friday, February 14th, 2013
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
An Outsider and the Catholic Church
For most non-Catholics, the retirement and resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is of passing interest. I’m not Catholic, but the Catholic Church has played a significant role in my life for many years. So the next pope, and his response to those who are calling for a number of epochal changes in church doctrine, is of major interest to me. With a new pope coming in, is this the time to initiate a new consideration of changes in the Catholic Church?
I was married in the church, and my three daughters were baptized by Bishop Charles Greco, the late and beloved Patriarch of the central and north Louisiana parishes. When my children were quite young, we spent a number of winter weekends with Bishop Greco at a family hunting and fishing camp on Davis Island, in the middle of the Mississippi River, some 30 miles below Vicksburg. On most of these occasions, the only people there were my family and Bishop Greco. And he did love to hunt deer.
On many a cold and rainy morning, a handful of us at the camp would rise before dawn for the Bishop to conduct a New Year’s Mass. After the service, most of the family went back to bed. I would crank up my old jeep, and take the Bishop out in the worst weather with hopes of putting him on a stand where a large buck would pass. No matter what the weather, he would stay all morning with his shotgun and thermos of coffee. He rarely got a deer, but oh, how he loved to be out there, in the woods. And even though I was not Catholic, he treated me as one of his own. After hunting, the Bishop would patiently sit for hours and answer my barrage of questions about the history and the relevancy of the Catholic Church. Continue Reading………