Thursday, 13 September 2018 17:00

In defense of "dumb" country lawyers.

I have a confession to make. And President Trump is not going to like it. I’m a southern country lawyer. Darn proud of it. In the President’s words, I may be a “dumb southern country lawyer.”  I just hope the President does not have a sneering contempt for all of us Louisiana lawyers who cut our teeth practicing law in the rural areas of the Bayou State.

If you are unaware of the President’s supposed pot shots at those of us who ply our trade in the more pastoral boroughs of the state, The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward has out a new “tell all” book entitled “Fear: Trump in the White House.” Woodward you recall was the reporter who dropped the bombshell on the Nixon White House back in 1972, and was portrayed by Robert Redford in the film, “All the President’s Men.”

Woodward writes of many revelations claiming he received insider information from current White House operatives who listen to the President on a daily basis.  And, according to the book, Donald Trump makes it clear there is no love lost between him and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He is quoted as saying that: “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. . . . He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer.”

Now I’m reading this to mean that “a one-person country lawyer” is about as simple and elementary as you can get if legal guidance is required.  No real talent or expertise required.  Just a little folksy off the shoulder opinion will do.

Do you have to be an Ivy League barrister to have the knowledge and expertise to make sound and compelling legal decisions? It’s a fact that all the current members of the U.S. Supreme Court attended either Harvard or Yale. But maybe that’s part of the problem with a number of questionable high court decisions. As Alabama law professor Ronald Krotoszynski wrote recently, “Are an attorney’s perspectives and capabilities “defined by the three years he or she spent in law school? Shouldn’t professional experience and judgment matter too? “

I graduated from Tulane Law School back in 1966 and moved to the rural town of Ferriday, Louisiana with a population of 5000. There were a few other lawyers in the surrounding parishes, most of who graduated from LSU. No specialized legalese in these rural courthouses.  Lawyers had to know a good bit about all phases of the law, both criminal and civil.

I handled civil cases ranging from divorces and small claims and stood toe to toe with big shot eastern attorneys representing General Motors and a number of major oil companies. On the criminal side, I was often appointed by the local judge to represent a cross section of those accused of robberies right up to capital cases. Many readers will remember the notorious Jim Leslie murder case that happened in Baton Rouge back in the 1970s.  Leslie’s killer was gunned down in Concordia Parish and I was appointed to defend this killer. I can tell you the whole sorted story.

Here’s my point. Country lawyers, particularly in the South, rarely take a narrowly defined career path. Sure, an attorney has to know the law. But there also is a need to comprehend the practicalities of how the law should be applied and how such application affects and impacts the average citizen.

I’ve come across a number of outstanding lawyers who graduated from Tulane, LSU and Southern law schools. They often have both solid legal aptitude and a good bit of plain old common sense.  Our judges, by and large, stack up with barristers anywhere in the country, and we certainly have the legal talent that is qualified to stand shoulder to shoulder with any justice presently on the U.S. Supreme Court.

So give us a break Mr. President.  We might surprise you down here in the deepest of the deep southern states. Yes, some up north may call us dumb southern country lawyers. But I have worked with many Louisiana attorneys, particularly in smaller towns, that can go eyeball to eyeball with any Ivy Leaguer. Simply put Mr. President, we wear our southern country lawyer title proudly.

 

Peace and Justice

 

Jim Brown

 

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Jim Brown is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions, if expressed, are his own. His 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 http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show, Common Sense, each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Communication Network.

 

 

Published in Opinion

Multiple sources around the country are reporting on the NY Times Anonymous Op-Ed published on Wed September 5th titled, “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration.”  You should take a few minutes to read it over or watch the video in which CNN’s Kate Bolduan reads the entire piece. I'm not going to speculate who wrote it, but I do want to discuss it in general.

 

The Op-Ed has stunned many and,  apparently - enraged President Trump.

 

Um. Okay. I get why President Trump is angry. But why is everyone else stunned by this admission?

 

The Op-Ed basically says, “Hey, there are people within the White House that are actively trying to stop President Trump from fucking up the country. I should know. I’m one of them.” Conservatives are up in arms. Even Liberals are like, “This is not how the country works Mr. Anonymous - no one voted you into office so shut your piehole and obey!”

 

Huh?

 

What about this Op-Ed is controversial? It basically says that - politicians and officials are working against each other. Don’t we already know this? I mean, don’t we have two parties publicly working against each other on many issues, all the time? Hell, didn’t the House and the Senate run 6 extremely vocal years of obstructionism against President Obama? It wasn’t even a secret. They went on TV and shit, and were like, “We’ll just not ever pass a budget and threaten to shut down the government every year and just not do our jobs and never vote on things - ever - as long as Obama is in office.”

 

Is the fear now supposed to be that “we didn’t elect” the person who wrote the Op-Ed who claims to be working against the President from the inside? Okay. I guess I can understand why that seems a bit awkward. Except that our elected President(s) get undermined by billionaires and officials both elected and / or appointed like, all the time.

 

I mean, I guess it’s controversial because finally someone came out and admitted it. Fair enough. The idea of the Deep State Conspiracy is that there is a body of people, typically - influential folks with powerful positions, that are secretly manipulating government policy. Some people believe in the Deep State actually runs the government. Some people think the entire idea of a Deep State is ludacris.

 

I don’t actually understand why the Deep State idea is even controversial.

 

Don’t get me wrong - I don’t believe for one second that the Deep State is a secret alien run Illuminati conspiracy. That’s fucking nonsense. But, as to the idea that influential (rich) folks and Corporations get politicians to do their bidding! Well - duh.  Everyone knows this happens. That’s what lobbyist do. It’s not even a secret and it’s legal. And they are out in the open. All over Washington. They don’t need a secret conspiracy to coerce the government into being their bitch. It pretty much just happens out in the open. With colossals amounts of cash. The manipulation of elected officials is nothing new and has been happening for … well, probably since folks invented government.

 

And now we have someone saying, “Hey, we’re working against the President. But, like - from within and in secret.”

 

Okay. Well, lots of people work against the President. But I guess this time it’s controversial because Anonymous is supposed to be on the President’s side. Therefor the whispered “soft coup” keeps popping up in the press. Well, a coup is an attempt to seize power from the government which I think we can all agree that is usually a bad idea but … but …. but it happens all the bloody time!

 

Lobbyists and their Corporate masters get our elected officials to do and say all sorts of asinine things that only help Corporations and will never, ever, ever help the people of the country. Sure, if a politician is publicly outed as being 100% in the pocket of Evil Corporation A, you can try and vote them out of office but the insane amount of $$ thrown into elections makes it very difficult for the people to seize any sort of power back from career politicians. Especially, when those politicians are in the pocket of Corporations.

 

It certainly doesn’t help that extremely popular conservative news organizations and even some moderately popular fringe liberal websites - just make shit up and spread fake news everywhere. Without accurate information it sometimes makes it hard to separate the good guys from the bad guys.

 

But I digress.

 

Look, I can see why the word “coup” frightens people. But I hardly feel this is a legitimate coup attempt. Perhaps Anonymous is overstepping his or her boundaries (it reads to me as if it was written by a man).  Are people not allowed to over step their boundaries in order to do things that are just and moral?

 

I certainly think so. Perhaps you don’t.


Anyway. If you want to make the argument to me that “but, maybe this kind of “soft coup” isn’t how it should be in our Republic” then I would probably agree with you. But if you say, “this just isn’t how things operate in our Republic” then, um - what the F! are you even talking about?

 

Published in U.S.

“How ridiculous to overlook judgment because of kindness then love wounds itself by killing justice!” -Charles Haddon Spurgeon

How often I see and hear the professors of Christianity today walking contrary to the word and spirit of the Living Christ (2 Corinthians 3:6).

How willing they are to overlook judgment when it comes to the criminals that run rampant in this country, and on the other hand how willing they are to show compassion to the criminals while overlooking the victims. Why? “Evil men understand not judgment” (Proverbs 28:5).  If you read the preceding verse, you will see that Scripture tells us “they that forsake the law praise the wicked.”

This is exactly the Scriptural point that I want to make.

From the pulpits in America today we here the events unfold of Sodom and Gomorrah and how Abraham should have prayed longer in hopes that God would have spared them rather than the righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah doing what God had commanded. And of course, not a second thought on man's behalf is given concerning the victims in these two cities.

Here is Abraham’s account…

“And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.  And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;  Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.  And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it. And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty's sake. And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there. And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake. And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake. And the Lord went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place." -Genesis 18:16-33

Got questions.org explains “What was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah?” very well. From their article:

“Genesis chapter 19 records the two angels, disguised as human men, visiting Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot met the angels in the city square and urged them to stay at his house. The angels agreed. The Bible then informs us, "Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom — both young and old — surrounded the house. They called to Lot, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them. Genesis 19:4-5 The angels then proceed to blind all the men of Sodom and Gomorrah and urge Lot and his family to flee from the cities to escape the wrath that God was about to deliver. Lot and his family flee the city, and then "the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah — from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities..." (Genesis 19:24).

In light of the passage, the most common response to the question, "What was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah?" is that it was homosexuality. That is how the term ”sodomy” came to be used to refer to anal sex between two men, whether consensual or forced. Clearly, homosexuality was part of the reason God destroyed the two cities. The men of Sodom and Gomorrah wanted to perform homosexual gang rape on the two angels, who were disguised as men. At the same time, it is not biblical to say that homosexuality was the exclusive reason why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were definitely not exclusive in terms of the sins in which they indulged.

Ezekiel 16:49-50 declares, "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me..." The Hebrew word translated "detestable" refers to something that is morally disgusting and is the exact same word used in Leviticus 18:22 that refers to homosexuality as an "abomination." Similarly, Jude 7 declares, "...Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion." So, again, while homosexuality was not the only sin in which the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah indulged, it does appear to be the primary reason for the destruction of the cities.

Those who attempt to explain away the biblical condemnations of homosexuality claim that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was inhospitality. The men of Sodom and Gomorrah were certainly being inhospitable. There is probably nothing more inhospitable than homosexual gang rape. But to say God completely destroyed two cities and all their inhabitants for being inhospitable clearly misses the point.

While Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of many other horrendous sins, homosexuality was the reason God poured fiery sulfur on the cities, completely destroying them and all of their inhabitants. To this day, the area where Sodom and Gomorrah were located remains a desolate wasteland. Sodom and Gomorrah serve as a powerful example of how God feels about sin in general, and homosexuality specifically.” (End article)

The point is that there were no righteous to be spared and the Lord did what man failed to do when they had the time to do it.

Question:  How do you show mercy to a people who observe lying vanities (Jonah 2:4) and refuse to return to the Lord (Jeremiah 6:16) on His terms? (Jeremiah 22:3) God must be true and judgment must commence.

Men today, like those of Sodom and Gomorrah, are not valiant for the truth.  They are valiant to proceed from evil to evil (Jeremiah 5).

They care more about the pleasures of sin for a season, than they are grieved for the afflictions of Joseph (Amos 6:6; Hebrews 11:25).

Men today care more of compromise (where two men both agree on what they both know is wrong) and diplomacy (seduction in another guise) in promoting anarchy through “antinomianism” than they do the Law of God against the sins unto judgment that enslave men (John 8:34).

Instead of establishing judgment within the gate and hating the evil and loving the good (Amos 5:15) in hopes that the Lord may be gracious to their repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10), they reject the counsel of God against them by hating the good and loving the evil, and that to their own damnation.

They care more about the approbation and favor of men than they do that of the Living God and what His Word declares (Galatians 1:10),not knowing that which his highly favored among men is an abomination unto the Lord (Luke 16:15).

They wear the cross. Yet, they have no testimony of the power of God unto salvation by the cross because they do not practice what Christ required: “Deny yourselves and take up your cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24; Romans 1:16; 2 Corinthians 5:15, 13:4-5; Galatians 2:21).

Professed Christians in America today talk much of love through inaction, and yet know nothing of it (1 John 3:18). They read what to do, but do it not!  In fact, they declare and proclaim how much they love God, and yet if you were to have them read His moral law and look to their own lives, they would find how much they actually hate God through their actions (Matthew 15:8).

Then again, these were the same types of people in Jerusalem crying out "Crucify him! Crucify him!  We have no king but Caesar" (John 19:15). And these are the same people today persecuting living Christians while praising the dead ones (Matthew 5:10).

They continuously preach of the heroism of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Gideon, Samson and others from the pulpit and fail to understand what these men were doing when serving their generations (Psalm 71:18-19; Isaiah 51:4). Today, instead of doing the same, they simply hide under a false grace (Isaiah 30) and give themselves over to a man, the president, and declare end times.  They declare we're in the end times because they have failed to stand up and fight for their posterity in keeping the Lord's commandments and His judgments (Psalm 78:1-11).

Ungrateful reprobates, pretenders, counterfeits and hypocrites are what they are (Matthew 23:3).

Instead of reaching out to the greatest demographic here in America, public high schools, they send missionaries to foreign lands to do there what they fail to do for their own here. Instead of fighting for their posterity and shutting down the illegalities of sodomy in all 50 states, they teach them to just do their best to understand that they cannot help themselves while God says the opposite (Leviticus 20:18).

Instead of fighting on their behalf against the federal government that is illegally indoctrinating them, they simply give their kids over to them to be dumbed down.

And instead of protesting the murder of 58 million innocent babies (Proverbs 6:17), they merely pass it off as a "choice," that being the lessons that they learned from the media that they say that they do not believe (Romans 1:18).



The American Church, instead of protesting corruption in government through the example of the Biblical patriarchs and our American forefathers (Matthew 5:17-18), teach to submit to tyranny as if to suggest that it is somehow obedience to God (Romans 12:21).

The Church in America has failed to keep the Commandments of the God of Israel.

Instead of preaching out against sin, they advocate for that which God clearly condemns, thereby making war against God (Micah 3:5), which at length destroys our government, our country and our families.

Look to their feigned strength that they profess to possess. It is gauged by simply looking to the prevailing immoralities and debauchers of society. They are weak and pathetic and they have no excuses as to why America is where we is today!

Why did God judge Sodom and Gomorrah?  It's the same reason that he is judging America today (Amos 4:12), He cannot find the righteous in order to spare her (Jeremiah 22:3).

Defining the Wicked…

Wicked men in the sight of God are those who have the knowledge of what to do when it comes to the right, but over and over again, they turn their shoulders and choose the wrong, through tolerance and apathy Americans are bringing upon themselves destruction (Deuteronomy 30:19) that will not be reversed, which leaves no alternative as to why God judges and is judging America today (Deuteronomy 28:63).

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Bradlee Dean is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions, if expressed, are his own and do not reflect the views and opinions of the Genesis Communication Network. Bradlee's radio program, The Sons of Liberty broadcasts live M - Sat here at GCN. This op-ed was originally published by Sons of Liberty Media at www.sonsoflibertyradio.com. Reprinted with permission. 

 

 

Published in Opinion

I just finished Netflix’s “The Keepers,” a seven-part, true crime docu-series about the unsolved 1969 murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik and the following abuse scandal at the Catholic school she taught at. The series is raw and harrowing and shocking.  The amount of women and boys that one priest was able to abuse and cover up for decades is almost unbelievable.

 

Almost.

 

Because we’ve seen this kind of scandal before. And we’ll see it again. The Spotlight abuse cover up as reported in the Boston Globe in 2002 and dramatised into an Academy Award winning movie of the same name.

 

And now comes the Pennsylvania cover up. A new 1356 grand jury report documents that more than 300 priests abused more than 1000 children.

 

From the opening paragraph of the grand jury report:

 

“We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this. We know some of you have heard some of it before. There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. But never on this scale. For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere.”

 

Later, it reported:

 

“We were given the job of investigating child sex abuse in six dioceses .. We heard the testimony of dozens of witnesses concerning clergy sex abuse. We subpoenaed, and reviewed, half a million pages of internal diocesan documents … Most of the victims were boys; but there were girls too. Some were teens; many were prepubescent. Some were manipulated with alcohol or pornography. Some were made to masturbate their assailants, or were groped by them. Some were raped orally, some vaginally, some anally. But all of them were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all.”

 

Wow. Protect the institution above all.  

 

But, of course - that’s how it’s always been. Or more importantly, “protect all the men.” Keep in mind, this report is only from a single state and covers the last 70 years. Multiply that by 50 states and then don’t forget to add in the previous four, five or ten centuries.

 

As usual it took the Vatican a few days to respond. Don’t ask me why it took them two bloody days to come up with the words, “Shame and sorrow” but there it is. The rest of us, within seconds of reading the news collectivilly had plenty to say and was probably more along the lines of, “Wow. The sick fucks running the Catholic Church covered up for another bunch of child raping male priest fuck heads! Just like they always do!”

 

Seriously, that took me all of twenty seconds to come up with. But as usual the Catholic Church waited to see if this recent abuse scandal would blow over and so they bit their tongue and said nothing. (Which is what they are good at).

 

Here is a video at MSNBC where survivors share their survival stories. One, an elderly man talks about his abuse in 1948 and flat out says incredulously (and correctly), “Who would believe me. A priest abused me? In 1948?”

 

He was right then. And he would have been right up to until … maybe two days ago when this grand jury report came out. I hate to be a cynic and assume that thing will go back to priests raping children because, after all - the Church has a lot of money to spend on PR and lawyers.

 

But that’s probably what will happen. Until the people at the top of the Church go to jail for this - things will only temporarily change at the bottom of the totem pole.

 

I mean, the Pope could do something about it. The Pope could, basically fire the shit out of all top brass involved. But, to be honest, he would have to probably get rid of the vast majority of the Church top brass all over the world. These scandals are just all too common and widespread for most top brass priests to not have their hands dirty at one point or another.

 

Actually, to be fair, I don’t know if the Pope can “fire” priests. Excommunicate them? Maybe that’s it. Maybe the Pope should just excommunicate 100 percent of all the priests above the level of OT V!

 

No, wait. That’s Scientology.

 

Well, whatever, The Pope can fire the shit out of them too.

 

I hope some justice happens and a lot of priestly heads will roll (metaphorically speaking). Alas, I just expect the Church to throw their endless cash reserves at the problem and it will all go away.

 

And then the Catholic priests will again, come out, come out from wherever they are.

 

And finally, does anyone else understand how Catholic priest sexual abuse would drop to about 0.0 percent if all priests were women?

 

Just sayin.    

Published in Opinion

On Wednesday, Academy President John Bailey and C.E.O. Dawn Hudson announced three “key changes” - a shorter show with a three hour hard limit, an earlier date for the ceremony and a new “Popular Film” category.

Um. Okay. Well, key changes is usually code for, “We’ve noticed our ratings dropping and we’re panicking - quick, let’s make some key changes!

Let’s break down their panic!

Three Hour Limit

The Academy Awards is a long show. It usually runs three to four hours. Everyone knows this. It doesn’t stop people from watching. And it’s been that way for multiple decades. Sure, some folks  have mild grumbles about that fact but ultimately - the exact same people will have the exact same complaint no matter how many hours the show runs. Cutting the show from 3.5 hours to 3 hours is fairly meaningless. Those same people will complain if it’s two hours or ninty minutes.  

And the Academy ideas for how to cut the show is this - some “lesser” awards will happen during the commercial break and viewers will be updated in shortly edited clips during the broadcast.

Sheesh. Some of these folks are random crew members who will never be nominated and / or win another Oscar again. Just let them have their bloody five minutes on TV, for Pete’s sake!

“Change” conclusion: Unnecessary. And certainly not a “key” change.

Earlier Telecast Time

They want the show to broadcast 2-3 weeks earlier than its usual “last week in February” timeslot. I guess they think that the Oscars two weeks earlier will increase ratings. Or something. The next Oscar, the 90th Ceremony is moving to early March to avoid competing against the Winter Olympics. Which seems fair to move the telecast for that one year. But, in general - moving the ceremony two weeks earlier doesn’t seem as it if it will increase viewers. I just don’t know what they are thinking here.

Let’s test this. Ask a friend. Go to someone you know who doesn’t watch the Oscars at all.

Say to them, “Hi friend! Are you going to watch the Oscars this year?”  

They will respond, “No, of course not. I hate that show. I’ll never watch it.”

Catch them with, “But what if it was broadcast two weeks earlier than usual?”

Watch their cold eye roll of indifference burn into your soul!

“Change” conclusion: Ridiculous and unnecessary.  And totally not a “key change.

New Category: Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film

And the “We don’t think your film is good enough to be nominated for an Academy Award but because it made a lot of $$$, we’ll throw you a bone” Oscar, goes to …

This is the “key change” drawing the most negative press. Celebrity reactions have been mixed with (usually) the old folks saying, “I hate change” and the young folks saying, “I love change.”

Well, I’m all for change. As many have pointed out the Oscars have not added a new category since “Animated Feature” in 2002 so it’s certainly time for some change. I am happy to hear that a new category is in the works. For the last two decades I have oft said there is glaring missing category from the Oscars, the “Outstanding Achievement is Stunt Coordination.” Once I say that outloud aren’t you like, “Oh, yeah. They totally need that category.”

The fine folks over at Vox.com thought the same thing with their: Forget Best Popular Film. Here are 6 new categories the Oscars actually need. (Although, I disagree with their “Best Casting” idea).

Alas, no. It is not any of those fine ideas. The Oscars will now give an Award to the film that made a ton of money but wasn’t quite good enough to be nominated for an Academy Award.

Of course, we already have those exact awards coming from both the Golden Globes and on a more comedic level - the MTV Movie awards. The Oscars is supposed to be the Award show with gravitas. It shouldn’t be handing out awards to movies because they are popular.

On the other hand - the Oscars originally, had two “best movie” categories. That’s right! The very first Academy Awards gave out two “best film” winners in two separate categories: Wings won “Outstanding Picture” and Sunrise won “Unique and Artistic Picture.”

Of course that was Academy Awards 1. By Academy Awards 2 the “Unique and Artistic Picture” category was gone - never to return. Because, “fuck those unique and artistic pictures!” #amiright

 

I kid. But seriously, in 2009 the Academy tried to address the “popular films not being nominated” problem by increasing the number of nominated “Best Films” from five to ten. Probably because The Dark Knight, a movie that was critically acclaimed and widely popular didn’t receive a “Best Film” nomination much to the chagrin of fans.

BUT THEN - just two years later the Academy was like, “Um, it’s really hard to find ten films we want to nominate for Best Film - every single year!” and changed the ruling from “ten films will be nominated” to “a number no less than five and no more than ten films” will be nominated for Best Film.

So, change happens fast because folks don’t seem to think things through enough. And then change happens again to fix the changes that were hastily made. I suspect something along those lines is what’s in store for this “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film” idea.

I mean, if it’s an “outstanding achievement” - just nominate it for Best Film! Why wouldn’t you do that? The movie is an outstanding achievement!

Right?

It doesn’t seem like rocket science to me, folks.

Update September 7th: Due to overwhelming negative press and insider backlash the Academy has nixed the "Popular Film" category. Well, at least for now. Ratings were down 20% from the previous year so I'm sure they'll come up with an equally stupid ideas as Popular Film in a desperate bid to up ratings.

Transcript of the Academy’s full press release:

* * *

Dear Member,

Last night, the Board of Governors met to elect new board officers, and discuss and approve significant changes to the Oscars telecast.

The Board of Governors, staff, Academy members, and various working groups spent the last several months discussing improvements to the show.

Tonight, the Board approved three key changes:

1. A three-hour Oscars telecast

We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide.

To honor all 24 award categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined). The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.

2. New award category

We will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.

3. Earlier airdate for 92nd Oscars

The date of the 92nd Oscars telecast will move to Sunday, February 9, 2020, from the previously announced February 23. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process.

The 91st Oscars telecast remains as announced on Sunday, February 24, 2019.

We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world. The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.

We are excited about these steps, and look forward to sharing more details with you.

John Bailey and Dawn Hudson

The Academy later issued an addendum:

While the details for a popular film category are still being finalized, a single film is eligible for an Oscar in both categories — Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film and the Academy Award for Best Picture. The new category will be introduced this coming year, at the 91st Oscars. In creating this award, the Board of Governors supports broad-based consideration of excellence in all films.

 

Published in Entertainment

As a new Minnesotan, I thought I should familiarize myself with the political process in my new state. I was politically active in Montana, but never attended a caucus or convention because they aren’t held in Montana. Back in 2010, the Republican Party scrapped its caucus after just two years, citing its unpopularity as the reason. The Republican Party and I finally found something upon which we agree completely.

Firstly, caucuses and conventions are never representative of an entire community. They are representative of the people in the community who don’t have to work when the caucuses and conventions are held. Those who work weekends aren’t even available to cast a vote at an organizing unit convention or city convention let alone drive three hours roundtrip on their own dime and pay for a hotel for three nights in order to attend a state party convention.

The lack of minority representation was blatant at my very first precinct caucus and even more so at the organizing unit convention and city convention. Despite my neighborhood being 41 percent black, the attendance at all the caucuses and conventions was probably three-fourths white or so. If that’s not reason enough to scrap party caucuses and conventions, here’s some more.

Precinct Caucus

My first Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party precinct caucus gave me some hope for this thing we call democracy that isn’t actually democracy. I met people in my community who cared for my community as much as me, and while the turnout was a bit discouraging, I vowed to do something about it. I volunteered to call my DFL neighbors to remind them to attend the next precinct caucus so my community wasn’t underrepresented.

While caucus agenda items were accomplished slowly to start, the pace picked up as everyone got the hang of things. We conducted a relatively efficient meeting. I submitted two resolutions to be considered for adoption by the party: one to legalize cannabis, and another calling for an independent redistricting commission to draw district boundaries instead of allowing politicians to employ partisan gerrymandering to make district races less competitive. Both were accepted as written to be considered at the upcoming organizing unit convention, and both were voted to be included in the DFL platform at the state convention.  

I wanted to see the ugly innards of Minnesota politics, so I volunteered to serve as a voting delegate at the organizing unit convention as well as the city convention. I got exactly what I wanted, but it I didn’t want it for very long.

Organizing Unit Convention

The organizing unit convention, again, started slowly. Technical difficulties with audio and video equipment resulted in a late start. Once we were underway, however, I appreciated the speeches delivered by DFL candidates running for various offices, including governor and sheriff. I got a sense of who I liked and collected some reading materials on the candidates.

Then the agenda was slowed to a crawl as something called “sub-caucusing” took place. Sub-caucusing is like a first-grade, organization activity and musical chairs combined. Poster-sized sheets of paper were distributed to delegates looking to start a sub-caucus and recruit enough delegates to earn a vote or more at the DFL state convention. A sub-caucus is an organizing unit. Delegates starting a sub-caucus would write their candidate or cause of choice on the poster paper and announce it to the crowd, hoping to recruit enough delegates to earn a vote or more at the DFL state convention.

Of course, with so many people in one place, there were more than 20 sub-caucuses, each of which was directed to a certain area of the high school auditorium. Delegates then seek out the sub-caucus they prefer and take a seat with the rest of the delegates in their organizing unit. That’s not the end of the game, though. Sub-caucuses who fail to recruit enough delegates to earn a vote at the state convention can merge with other sub-caucuses. The more than 20 sub-caucuses were whittled down to about half that in a half hour or so, combining the names of sometimes three or four sub-caucuses.

I kept it simple and joined the Cannabis Caucus, and we attracted enough delegates to earn a vote at the DFL state convention, I think for the first time. Two members of our organizing unit had experience as either a state delegate or an alternate, and one of them was already planning to attend the convention in Rochester, so we elected them to vote on our behalf at the DFL state convention.

City Convention

The DFL city convention was a mess from the start. We started almost two hours late because of technical difficulties when one loud voice could have kicked off the agenda. Instead we waited for someone to troubleshoot the audio system in the gym at North High School in Minneapolis.

Since we were seated by district and precinct, I struck up conversations with my neighbors, some of whom I remembered from the precinct caucus and organizing unit convention. I asked them for whom they intended to vote, and we were mostly in agreement. I familiarized myself with the candidates for school board and spoke to a few of them. Then I sat around for hours until the school board candidates gave their speeches, which actually influenced my vote.

The rest of the nearly eight-hour day was spent either arguing over the rules, procedure or order of the agenda items. Most people left immediately after the winners of the DFL endorsement for school board were announced. I stuck around after to elect people to city DFL positions to make sure a fiasco like that never happened again. Frankly, I could do without caucuses and conventions entirely if we just put everyone on the primary ballot. Most who don’t receive the endorsement end up running anyway.

In Minnesota, we have five pairs of DFL candidates running for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. The DFL state convention is supposed to weed out the competition prior to the primary election. Party conventions are designed for political parties to unite behind specific candidates, and specifically, candidates the majority of party delegates like most. But when everyone runs anyway, there isn’t much unification occurring.

I knew who I liked for Governor the moment she opened her mouth. Erin Murphy was my candidate after delivering a two-minute speech at the organizing unit convention. She sounded most adamant and passionate about the changes she would attempt to make, and I agreed with those changes. But she wasn’t the candidate with the most progressive stance on cannabis, which is a big issue for me.

Of the three candidates most likely to win the primary, Tim Walz is most supportive of legal cannabis, going so far as to say all those incarcerated for cannabis should be released. Murphy isn’t willing to go that far, nor is she willing to allow home cultivation of cannabis. Walz is, but he doesn’t seem to me like a candidate with the enthusiasm to win a swing-state election for an office as high as Governor, and that seems to be a sentiment shared by DFL voters.

Murphy, with her support from the nurses union, secured the DFL endorsement at the state convention, but she was running third in the latest poll conducted. According to NBC News and Marist, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson had a four-point lead on Walz and led Murphy by 17 points as of July 19. The very next day her running mate, U.S. Representative Rick Nolan, was accused of allowing a top congressional aide resign quietly in 2015 after being alleged of harassing young, female staffers.

The Minnesota DFL primary election for Governor is effectively a three-way race, and since ranked-choice voting isn’t employed in Minnesota primaries (it was in Maine for the first time and Mainers voted to keep it that way), DFL voters won’t have the luxury of choosing the candidate they like best. They’ll have to choose the candidate they think has the best chance against a Republican challenger.

Luckily for the Democrats, the Republican Party is experiencing the same problem. The GOP endorsement went to Jeff Johnson and Donna Bergstrom, but former Governor Tim Pawlenty is still running and could very well win the primary despite losing his party’s endorsement. What was the point of these conventions again? I say forget caucuses and conventions and just put everyone on the primary ballot. Political parties would save some money, we’d all save some time, and the primary election is the best means we have to include as many people as possible in the democratic process, or whatever you want to call it.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, Know Your Rights

Published in Opinion

When you are dealing with frauds and liars, listen more to what they don’t say than what they do.” -Dr. DaShanne Stokes

One thing that I have found during my time as a Christian is that no matter how many times you share the truth with the people in this country and the things that demand their attention, they will not listen until after the damage is done.

Many people in this country act as if they do not live politics, yet, “Life is politics, you do it or it does you.”

Friends, there is no in-between (Revelation 3:16).

Just this morning I woke up to see a brand new post about a book titled “The Russia Hoax, The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump.”

Another post on the same feed showed that Donald Trump's approval ratings are at 88%.

I still cannot believe how ignorant the American people have become, or should I say, willfully blind and ignorant (a deliberate finger on their eyeballs) to what is right in front of their faces (Jeremiah 5:21; Hosea 4:6)

Let me explain.

Through divisive measures, the CIA-controlled media would have all eyes on Hillary Clinton attacking and accusing President Donald Trump at will (vice versa-Trump attacking her, as well (Mark 3:25)) as a “racist” to a “sexual assaulter” to “surrendering to the Russians” to “collusion” etc…, while she is found selling uranium ore to the Russians without fear of consequence.  Why is she so emboldened?  Friends, Hillary has been given a free hand to commit scandal after scandal and crime after crime for decades in this country and that without lawful consequence.

Is she being investigated by Donald Trump’s Department of Justice? Donald claimed he can do whatever he wants with it. Donald promised that he was going to bring forth that special prosecutor on the campaign trail. Has he to date? Not at all. The circus of politics goes on (Psalm 9:17). But worry not, President Donald Trump is tweeting Hillary Clinton's video
advocating for "strong, prosperous Russia."

Maybe Donald Trump should look up what the purpose of government entails. Like that of restraining men from sin." 1 John 3:4 Leaving off justice encourages and strengthens criminal activities America, it does not suppress them. (Proverbs 17:15).

Remember, Donald Trump told the American people that we all owe Hillary Clinton a major debt of gratitude during his presidential campaign victory speech. The exact opposite of what he said he was going to do on the campaign trail.

Furthermore, Hillary is not being investigated or indicted for any of her crimes or scandals against “We the People.”  She is being rewarded while “We the people” are being violated and preyed upon.

To prove the point, Hillary Clinton signed two book deals with Simon & Schuster with a record advance of $8 million, which is just behind the Pope's $8.5 million deal.

What about Barack Hussein Obama? Somehow or another, Barry Soetoro still feels that he is the sitting president, though Americans should remind him that he is not. Barack, like Hillary, has a free hand to attack Donald Trump, and of course, like the Clintons, there are no consequences. All of it is created warfare.

“Obama accuses Trump of wanting war with Iran,” “Intel chiefs gave Russia a pass, and now blame Donald Trump” and, of course, Donald Trump Blames Obama. All this is in the daily playbook of politics, which is designed to divert Americans from what special interest groups behind the corrupt are really doing behind closed doors in handing this country over to those who mean to destroy her.

Obama signed a Netflix deal to produce series and films, and his book deal biddings have reached $60 million dollars.

Keep in mind, America, that this is all a show in an attempt to deceive you into believing that the Obama’s have the approbation of the American people. They clearly do not!

Other criminal administrations in recent history that have been rewarded for their crimes are Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.  The rights to their books, as if to suggest anyone will actually read them, sold for $10-15 million.

Lest you thought the book deals (rewards) fell only to those who have been called presidents, or First Ladies, let's take a quick look at those around the administrations.

Former FBI Director James Comey is being called out for “his high crimes and misdemeanors,” and instead of him being charged for his “high crimes,” he is cashing in on a $10 million book deal.

Valerie Jarrett, Eric Holder, Former DNC chair Donna Brazile, who got a book deal after helping Hillary Clinton rig the primaries, have all been rewarded, and the list goes on (Luke 16:15).

Is this how you make America great again, Americans? Leave off justice which guards our liberties? (Isaiah 51:4)

Does this sound and act like an administration that loves this country and it’s people? (Matthew 7:16)

The Atlantic reported:

“There is no campaign promise that Donald Trump has failed to honor more flagrantly than his oft repeated pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C. He has violated the letter of his promise and trampled all over its spirit. His supporters ought to be furious. But few perceive the scale of his betrayal or its brazenness.”

Americans need to look beyond the facade of President Donald Trump's administration. What he is saying and what is actually happening are two different stories. America is under attack like never before, and a good number of people in this country have fallen asleep (all by design). Matthew 13:25 Now is not the time to go to sleep, but rather, it is time to raise your Gadsden flags and declare in unison "Don't Tread on Me!."

We know that Scripture tells us there is a covenant of Hell and death leveled at people by whom they mean to rule. Isaiah 28:18 We know what it means when Scripture tells us:

"The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”

Yet, these forget the reply that the Lord gives on our behalf.

“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.” -Psalm 2:2-5

You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can fool God at no time! Amen.

--

 

Bradlee Dean is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions, if expressed, are his own and do not reflect the views and opinions of the Genesis Communication Network. Bradlee's radio program, The Sons of Liberty broadcasts live M - Sat here at GCN. This op-ed was originally published by Sons of Liberty Media at www.sonsoflibertyradio.com. Reprinted with permission. 

 

 

Published in Opinion

Unless you’ve been playing fantasy baseball and were in need of an undrafted reliever like me, you might not have known who Josh Hader was until the 2018 MLB All-Star Game. Hader’s All-Star selection was a bittersweet honor in more than one way. He allowed three runs in a third of an inning and then discovered after the game that he’d have to complete sensitivity training for racist, sexist and homophobic tweets made at 17.

The tweets were uncovered by Twitter users with too much time on their hands. These investigations into the social media statements of minors are unfair to the public figures who made the statements because minors aren’t entirely responsible for themselves, legally speaking. Journalists seldom quote minors for that very reason. Their parents share responsibility for their words and actions until they’re 18.

While I agree with my colleague, Dan Szczepanek of Grandstand Central, that Hader’s “young and dumb” excuse isn’t good enough, he isn’t solely responsible for the social media statements he made as a minor. His parents share that responsibility, but not in the court of public opinion. It is troubling, however, that just seven years ago and even to this day, racist, sexist and homophobic thoughts are running through the minds of American minors.

On the Foul Play-by-Play podcast, my attorney and I discussed how to remedy the racist, sexist and homophobic sentiment that seems to be growing or at least getting louder in America. Reforming haters is a delicate process not unlike treating addiction. It requires the dedication of the addict first, and an empathetic, supportive community providing evidence consistently contradicting the addict’s former mentality. But hate, like addiction, isn’t curable, only treatable.

“There’s no magic cure, no such thing as a ‘life after hate,’ only a life of fighting not to succumb to it” Wes Enzinna wrote for Mother Jones’s cover story in the July/August issue. Not everyone is as fortunate as Hader was to grow into a man in an environment conducive for avoiding an addiction to hate.

Without social and familial support and a safe environment facilitating the formation of relationships between diverse groups of people, haters gonna hate. That’s why Barack Obama’s administration added the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule to the Fair Housing Act in order to address segregation that persists in public housing. Department of Housing and Human Development Secretary Ben Carson has since suspended enforcement of the rule, resulting in a lawsuit brought by the National Fair Housing Alliance and joined by the state of New York.

Those living in environments that perpetuate hate can also learn something from Hader’s hateful tweets coming back to bite him. Even parents perpetuating hate in the home have their children’s preservation as their top priority, so talking with their children about safe social media usage, similar to the talk about practicing safe sex could result in fewer instances of hate speech online.

If children in the moment are too emotional to consider the effect their words might have on others, perhaps they’ll resist using hate speech over their own interest in self-preservation. Just as images of STDs are used in sex education courses to scare young people into practicing abstinence or safe sex, stories like Hader’s and Roseanne Barr’s might be enough to scare children from publicly expressing hate if their parents explain how imperative it is that their children are employable.

And if Hader’s and Barr’s stories aren’t scary enough, or children don’t understand why they should protect something they don’t yet have, maybe they’ll protect something they do. A fifth of undergraduate college students believe physical force is an acceptable response to “offensive and hurtful statements,” according to a 2017 Brookings Institution survey. So hate speakers have to consider whether they’re prepared to defend themselves, although most instances of violence resulting from hate speech indicate they are, which is why it’s so important that Hader do more than apologize and complete sensitivity training.

Colin Kaepernick didn’t just take a knee during the national anthem. He thoughtfully explained why he took a knee when asked, sought feedback from military personnel as to avoid offending them and backed up his words and actions with his money. Kaepernick has donated a million dollars to organizations working in oppressed communities as of January. Life After Hate, an organization working to reform haters, received a $50,000 donation from Kaepernick. Since Hader doesn’t make millions of dollars, he should donate his time and image to the movement to end hate.

If Hader was willing to take the time to trademark his nickname, “Haderade,”he can take the time to start a nonprofit called Hater Aid, an organization that helps haters stop hating. I’ve started two nonprofit organizations, make a lot less than Hader’s $555,500 annual salary and had no previous training. If he needs some guidance, the National Council of Nonprofits provides all the information he needs.

I would only recommend Hader focus his efforts locally to start. If the standing ovation he received from Brewers fans at Miller Park in his first appearance since the All-Star Game is any indication, he still has the support of Milwaukeeans, at least until he struggles to get MLB hitters out. Regardless of his performance on the field, Milwaukeeans will appreciate Hader focusing his off-field efforts locally, and there’s plenty to be done in Milwaukee.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are four active hate groups in Milwaukee alone and nine statewide. So Hater Aid’s initial mission should be to eradicate hate in Milwaukee first, then the state of Wisconsin, and then the region and nation. It’s also cheaper and easier to start and run a locally-focused nonprofit than one with a state or national focus.

With a modest, tax-deductible donation from Hader to found Hater Aid and a bit of paperwork to incorporate the organization and acquire a tax exemption, Hater Aid could be up and running before the end of the baseball season. MLB and the Brewers’ public relations department would love for Hader to dedicate some free time to meeting with former haters in the Milwaukee area willing to share how they managed to stop hating. If interested, they could serve as Hader’s Hater Aiders, a group of volunteers, interns and paid staff to run the day-to-day operations of Hater Aid, including a 24-hour, hater hotline for haters who want to stop hating but aren’t sure how.

If Hader were to take these steps, his national image wouldn’t just be repaired — it’d be more valuable than it was before the tweets were uncovered. It never hurts to be a role model and a community contributor in contract negotiations, either. By the time Hader’s eligible for free agency in 2024, Hader’s Hater Aiders will have helped haters stop hating throughout Milwaukee and, perhaps, the state of Wisconsin if not the entire country.

Hader might never have been addicted to hate, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be the face of a movement to end hate. He should embrace and take advantage of this opportunity if he wants to earn a standing ovation from anyone other than Brewers’ fans.

Published in Opinion

The New York Yankees led the American League Wild Card race by five games over Seattle as of the Major League Baseball All-Star Break. They could very well finish the season 10 games better than both the Mariners and the winner of the AL Central Division, and will still have to win a one-game playoff just to earn the right to play the best team in the American League, who will likely be from their own division.

I’m not one to make excuses for the Yankees. As a Minnesota Twins fan, I despise the Yankees more than most, and I’m a huge fan of the one-game playoff. But there’s nothing fair about a team’s postseason chances coming down to one game when that team has played a tougher schedule to a better record than all but one team in the league. It’s time for MLB to do away with divisions and go back to a division-less pennant race.

While Rob Manfred was repeatedly putting his foot in his mouth prior to the MLB All-Star Game, blaming the Los Angeles Angels and Mike Trout for not marketing Mike Trout, and calling for a discussion on ending defensive shifts, only the most interesting thing happening in baseball, he failed to address the most pressing issue facing the game. The one-game Wild Card could be played between the second- and fourth-ranked teams in the American League while the sixth-ranked team in the league gets a pass to the Divisional round simply for playing in a historically weak division. And that sixth-ranked team won’t even play the league’s best team.

Back in 1969, when East and West divisions were adopted by Major League Baseball, there were no Wild Card teams in the playoff format. And when just one team from both the American League and National League were awarded a postseason berth as a Wild Card for the first time in 1995 (the 1994 postseason was cancelled due to a player strike), there weren’t immediate issues.

But now that there are two Wild Card teams from each league reaching the postseason, either those teams need to play a three-game Wild Card series, or the league needs a good, old-fashioned pennant race. I’m for both.

I would recommend shortening the season to 154 games and adding a three-game Wild Card Playoff series to be played between the fourth- and fifth-ranked teams in each league, regardless of division standings. There is no need for a team to play the same four teams 19 times every year. I’d be fine with MLB divisions remaining simply for travel and rivalry reasons, but 17 games against division rivals is still probably too many. Commissioner Manfred should shorten the regular season to the original 154-game length while adding at least four and up to six lucrative playoff games to the schedule.

Since the All-Star Game no longer determines which league has home field advantage in the World Series, a good, old-fashioned pennant race is the most reasonable and fair way to determine who plays who in the playoffs. The top three seeds in each league would benefit from up to five days off entering the playoffs while the two Wild Card teams are decided, and each league’s top seed would play the fourth-best team instead of the second-best team that happened to lose its division despite winning more games than other division champions.

So before Manfred even considers changing rules to the game regarding defensive shifts and pace of play, he should make sure the league’s best teams are rewarded for being the league’s best teams. Even if the Yankees were to win the Wild Card Game, if the playoffs began today, they’d meet the Red Sox in the Divisional Series instead of the ALCS. And if 2004 taught us anything, it’s that baseball’s best rivalry should be decided in the ALCS. Most importantly though, the league’s best playoff team should play the league’s worst playoff team in the divisional round, and that’s not the case as the MLB postseason currently stands.

Published in Opinion
Friday, 20 July 2018 16:27

Televise federal trials? Of course!

With one recent Supreme Court Justice confirmed and another just appointed by President Trump, the issue of televising hearings before the nation’s highest court will surely be discussed. The Supremes have 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.  And what could be more public than televising a criminal trial for the whole world to see?

Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker wrote recently that cameras should be taken out of the courtroom, particularly in high-profile trials.  She concludes: “Our mighty respect for the public’s right to know — has clouded our judgment. There may be no way to quantitatively prove that cameras influence courtroom behavior and, possibly, a trial’s outcome. But anyone who’s ever sat in front of a camera knows that it is so.”

I disagree with Ms. Parker.  The criminal justice system could use some help.  A majority of Americans feel that justice often doesn’t prevail.  A nationwide poll by the respected Rasmussen Reports found that 45% of Americans feel that the justice system is fair.  Only 34% felt that the system is unbiased to the poor.  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 courtrooms.”

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 they were 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.  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.  Time to turn on the cameras.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

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Jim Brown is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions, if expressed, are his own. His 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 http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show, Common Sense, each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Communication Network.

 

Published in Opinion

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