Posts Tagged ‘Jim Brown’
Thursday, June 14th, 2012
Perdido Key, Florida
RESPECT FOR SUPREME COURT PLUMMETS!
Those poor blokes on the U. S. Supreme Court are having a tough go of it in recent months. Several recent polls show that are large majority of Americans do not approve of the job they are doing, while three-quarters of those polled think the justices decisions are often influenced by their personal or political opinions. The Court’s standing with the public has taken a huge dip. Astoundingly, only one in eight Americans think that cases handed down by the Supremes are based on legal analysis. Columnists across the political spectrum continue to hold the Court in low esteem.
Typical are comments by Maureen Dowd in The New York Times: “This Court, cosseted behind white marble pillars, out of reach of TV, accountable to no one once it gives the last word, is well on its way to becoming one of the most divisive in modern American history. It has squandered even the semi-illusion that it is the unbiased, honest guardian of the Constitution. It is run by hacks dressed up in black robes.”
The seedlings of high court distrust were sown twelve years ago with the “Off the Wall” ruling of Bush v Gore. States rights and the 14th amendment were thrown under the bus as the Court ripped away a legal challenge from the Florida Supreme Court in a procedure never before undertaken. The decision basically said that the U.S. Supreme Court will ignore all past decisions, disregard the Constitution regarding the separation of powers, hand the election to the loser, but make it absolutely clear that the decision would set absolutely no precedent in future decisions. Republicans would have been justifiably outraged if the same ruling had come down under similar circumstances on behalf of Al Gore, and they would have certainly called for impeaching those judges who completely disregarded the constitution. Read the rest of this entry »
Thursday, June 7th, 2012
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Don Siegelman was in his second term as Alabama Governor, and by most accounts was doing a commendable job. But he was a Democrat in a predominantly Republican state. And that apparently rankled the likes of then Bush political adviser Karl Rove and Alabama Republican appointed prosecutors. The justice department investigated Siegelman for years, until he was finally convicted of bribery. Any neutral observer who looks at what happened to Siegelman will conclude that the whole sordid investigation reeks of party politics and stinks to high heaven.
Don Siegelman’s passion was educational reform, and his efforts caused his downfall. He proposed creating a state lottery to fund a major educational push. He said the money was critical for offering quality education in Alabama. “You tell us how you’re going to pay for college scholarships. You tell us how you’re going to put state of the art computers inside every school in the state,” he admonished.
Siegelman raised significant private dollars for the lottery effort, and Alabama businessman Richard Scrushy, former chief executive of HealthSouth, contributed $250,000 to support the project. Later, Siegelman appointed Scrushy to a state health board, as had three previous governors. The board, under Alabama law, has to be made up of healthcare officials, and members receive no pay. And it should be noted that half of Scrushy’s contribution came after he was appointed to the board. Read the rest of this entry »
Thursday, May 24th, 2012
New Orleans, Louisiana
In the movie about New Orleans called Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Nicolas Cage plays a corrupt New Orleans cop, and tells a fellow cop to “Shoot him again.” “What for?” says his companion. Cage casually observes: “His soul is still dancing.” You can’t kill enough in New Orleans. It is the murder capitol of America with one of the worst murder rates in the world. And the killings continue at an ever growing rate.
When it comes to murder rates, America surpasses the developed world at some five per 100,000 people. New Orleans has more than ten times that number. For every 1,700 people in the Crescent City, one will be murdered. These figures were based on last year’s numbers. The murder rate so far this year is way ahead of last year’s. So it’s the bad guys vs. the good guys in the criminal justice system, right? Maybe not.
New Orleans has always pushed the limit of what is acceptable to those running government and to its citizens. The city is often referred to as a corrupt third world country and the most northern of the Caribbean nations. But in recent months, the bottom seems to have fallen out of the criminal justice system itself. A headline in the Times Picayune recently blared across the top front page: “We’re the Evil Empire Right Now,” referring to the New Orleans Saints scandal over “bounty gate.” But the headline could well apply to the criminal justice system, both state and federal, throughout the greater New Orleans area. Read the rest of this entry »
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
WE’RE TOO BIG TO FAIL SO LET THE TAXPAYERS COVER OUR LOSING BETS!
I drive each day by my local bank. It’s a Chase branch of J.P. Morgan. I don’t have much to save, but I count on my bank to invest my money. Not bet my hard earned dollars, but invest it. If I want to gamble for winnings, I’ll take my chances on the red and the black at a casino. I don’t need or want my bank to lay down a bet on some complicated credit default swap or other exotic roll of the financial dice. But that’s exactly what Chase has been doing with my money. They have taken a big hit. And I’m not happy.
J. P. Morgan Chase & Co. put a lady named Ina Drew in charge as chief investment officer. They paid her $14 million a year to grow my small investment. And she had a team of highly paid executives to follow her lead and see that my small savings continue to grow. But she bungled her responsibility to me and millions of other Chase savers, and now she’s been fired. Good riddance.
She apparently bears the bulk of the responsibility for a $2 billion investment loss that involved complex derivatives that were not adequately insured. There was a “make the big bucks” mentality rather than a focus on the quality of the loans that were being made.
Now don’t lecture me about taking chances and how any investment can lose money. I certainly understand, as do most Chase’s investors, that a bank investment can go bad. Yes, there is the risk that the business will fail. However, any bank should go into an investment with the understanding that it is supplying funds to a borrower that will create value. Read the rest of this entry »
Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
SO THIS TERRORIST WALKS INTO A BAR!
I was in the New Orleans airport this week waiting as a family member made her way through airport security with two small babies. Boy, were these guys with the Transportation Security Agency on the job and up to the task of stopping any terrorist threats. They all but strip searched her, opening every baby bottle and jars of baby food. Nothing gets by these guys. Well, except for Arabs loaded down with explosives.
No profiling allowed even though terrorist after terrorist fits a similar description. We can’t do that for it would be politically incorrect. Why is it that we profile clothes, but not the person? One guy years ago tries to set off an explosive with his shoe, so every traveler from that time on has to take off the shoes.
Two years ago on Christmas day, A Nigerian national boarded a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with his underpants packed with explosives. His frighty whities came with a special pouch to hold the explosives, no doubt sewn by al Qaeda’s finest seamstresses. You can just hear Louisiana’s own Jerry Lee Lewis hollerin’ “Great Balls of Fire.” All to no avail as his crotch bomb failed to ignite, and alert passengers wrestled the terrorist thug to the ground. Read the rest of this entry »
Thursday, April 26th, 2012
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
THE COMPLICATIONS OF RELIGION AND POLITICS!
I have a request of all of our pontificating politicians. Leave God and me alone to work out our relationship. I consider myself a religious person, but I don’t wear my faith on my sleeve or preach to my neighbors. I have a “comfortable” relationship with the Good Lord. But it’s personal. It’s private. And I want to keep it that way. Political battles are not going to lead any of us to salvation, but that message seems to be lost on Republican and Democrat politicians alike.
American politicians, today, are saturating their rhetoric with religious references for the purpose of bolstering a particular political point of view. Andrew Sullivan, writing in the London Sunday Times, laments that: “On one side, the Republican base is made up of evangelical Protestants who believe that religion must consume and influence every aspect of public life. On the other side, the last Democratic primary had candidates profess their faith in public forums, and more recently President Obama appeared at the National Prayer Breakfast, invoking Jesus to defend his plan for universal health care.”
According to a recent Pew Research poll, some 60% of Evangelical Christians support the use of torture against suspected terrorists. Among all regular once a week church goers, the approval rate of torture was 54%. And according to last week’s Rasmussen poll, 55% of Americans think hate is growing in this country. What gives? Why have so many mixed their political rhetoric with their religious beliefs? Read the rest of this entry »
Thursday, April 11th, 2012
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
LOUISIANA’S “GIVE THE CRIMINALS PLENTY OF NOTICE” LAW!
There’s a great new edict that’s about to become law in my home state of Louisiana. It’s called the GTCPTG statute. Short for, “Give the Criminals plenty of time to get away.” Louisiana legislators and the state’s insurance department are working overtime to assure that the Bayou State continues to hold the title of the country’s most expensive state in which to buy insurance.
Two noble goals have been set in the state’s capitol in Baton Rouge. First, pass new laws to be absolutely sure that automobile insurance rates keep going up. And second, pass other laws that stop property owners from asserting legal claims against the state run property insurance company. There is certainly a great deal at stake, and it looks like state legislators and insurance officials will stop at nothing in order to maintain the state’s number one position of having the highest auto and property rates in America. Way to go, guys.
There’s a saying has been around the Baton Rouge state capitol for years — “Hold on to your wallets…the legislature’s in session, and they’re about to stick it to you.” There has never been a more appropriate time for such an admonition. In the 40 years plus that I have spent around the legislative and regulatory process in Louisiana, as a legislator, a statewide official, an insurance regulator, and as a political observer, I cannot recall a time when policy holders have been so maligned, and the interests of the public at large have been so disregarded. Read the rest of this entry »
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Redneck Country, Louisiana
DON’T TELL ME TO SPEAK ENGLISH OR LEAVE!
I was at a book fair recently, hawking some of my Lisburn Press publications, and I was asked to comment on the nation’s immigration problem. One fellow apparently didn’t like my response. “Oh, I know all about you writers out there with your fancy English degrees. You think you have a lot more common sense then us rednecks.”
All right, I’ll admit it. I do live in a semi cosmopolitan city of Baton Rouge, received part of my education outside the U.S. and have traveled the world a good bit. But you can’t take the Ferriday redneck out of city folks like me. I have a pick up as well as an old SUV with 180,000 miles on it. They both have driven the back roads of north Louisiana on many occasions. I laugh at, and mostly agree with, all the “you must be a redneck” jokes. (You must be a redneck if you know instinctively that red wine goes with possum.) And by the way, I have a great possum recipe coming out in my updated version of “Jim Brown’s World Famous Squirrel Stew and other Country Recipes.”
Anyone like me who came from the same southern country town that raised Jerry Lee Lewis and Reverend Jimmy Swaggart certainly qualifies as a card-carrying redneck. So assuming you accept my credentials, you might be surprised at my reaction to a bumper sticker I saw while driving down a gravel road just past Frogmore, Louisiana. (That’s right. Frogmore — about 15 minutes west of Ferriday, if you check your map.) On the rear window of a truck ahead of me, the driver had displayed his feelings in no uncertain terms: “You’re in America Now; Speak English or Get Out!” Read the rest of this entry »
March 29th, 2010
New Orleans, Louisiana
For three days this week, the national news focus was on the U.S. Supreme Court’s hearing concerning the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. To most Republicans, the new law is a massive stretch of interpreting the Constitution’s commerce clause of allowing the federal government to require every individual to purchase health insurance. But to moderates and most Democrats, such a requirement is little more than another of a long line of government dictates on both the state and federal levels. So for folks like you and me, what do we know and what should we know about all the verbiage surrounding this technical and complicated law?
The simple question this week before the Supreme Court is whether, under the Commerce clause, Congress has the power to require Americans to obtain health insurance. If a majority of the Court’s member don’t like the law, that’s not a valid reason to hold the law unconstitutional. Supposedly, there has to be precedent. There has to be a clear extension of the law that goes beyond a federal issue, and one that does not violate a clearly defined state right. OK, OK. We will just forget about Bush v Gore for now.
Some will say the law has not even been put fully into effect yet. The mandate provisions do not kick in until 2014. And any mandatory penalty or tax for not complying is not collected until 2015. So how can there even be a court challenge? Good question. There is a law on the books called the Anti-Injunction Act that prohibits any court challenge by an individual unless a tax or penalty at issue at been both levied and paid. The court, under this law, has the right, even the obligation, to “punt” if you will on any decision until 2015. But will they? Or will they choose to just get the controversy out of the way? Read the rest of this entry »
Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
New Orleans, Louisiana
It seems to be spreading like a communicable disease. And apparently there is no cure. Week after week, there are new reports of prosecutors, on both the federal and state level, engaging in premeditated acts of prosecutorial misconduct. Coaching witnesses to lie. Hiding evidence from the defense counsel that would favor the accused. And even calculated cover-ups that put a falsely convicted person on death row. Has justice run amuck? Has Lady Justice lost her way?
Take a look at some of the recent stories about wayward prosecutors in major newspapers throughout the county. The Pittsburg Post-Gazette researched a 10 part story on this national problem. They summed up their findings by concluding: “Hundreds of times during the past 10 years, federal agents and prosecutors have pursued justice by breaking the law. They lied, hid evidence, distorted facts, engaged in cover-ups, paid for perjury and set up innocent people in a relentless effort to win indictments, guilty pleas and convictions, a two year Post-Gazette investigation found.”
Just a few months ago, the Houston Chronicle charged: “This year we have read story after story of egregious prosecutorial misconduct. Prosecutors have repeatedly robbed innocent men of their liberty. Prosecutors who willfully falsify evidence must be held to answer under the law. We dishonor the memory of those who paid the ultimate price for our liberty if we demand anything less to preserve that liberty.” Read the rest of this entry »
Thursday, March 8th, 2012
IS IT BASEBALL OR POLITICS?
Just what is America’s favorite pastime? Is it baseball or politics? The past few years have offered interesting comparisons. On one hand, the country is enmeshed in a full-blown presidential campaign with deep divisions over how to stimulate the economy and how to define America’s role in the world. Because of urgent concerns with these issues and others, politics has become a major spectator sport all over the country. But don’t sell baseball short. Not only has baseball been around longer than any of America’s professional team sports, the game’s highs and lows have been injected in national politics, almost from the sport’s inception.
Now, I’m a diehard baseball fan. I grew up in St. Louis, and lived next door to the general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, the great former Cardinals shortstop, Marty Marion. I was in his box on a Sunday afternoon in May 1954 — May 2, to be exact — when “Stan the Man” Musial hit five home runs on the same day in a doubleheader at Busch Stadium. All this week, I’ll be in Tampa for spring training and I’ll watch five major league ball games, including a trip to the home stadium of my perennial favorite, the New York Yankees.
The problems of major league baseball have often been a mirror image of the problems facing America. Its history is both a reflection of this country’s fears and ignorance, and its hopes and promises. Like almost any other cultural phenomenon of such prominence, baseball has served as solace and as a poke to our conscience. Read the rest of this entry »