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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Monday, March 31, 2008

Snoozing While the Reverend Rants

This letter from the March 29 Clarion-Ledger reminds me of a church service from some years ago. The person making the morning's announcements said, "And we'd like to thank Brother Smith for fixing the church's air conditioning system."

When the congregation turned to look at Brother Smith, he was sound asleep.

Of course, Sen. Obama says he doesn't remember the controversial "black liberation theology" sermons of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, even after attending his church for 20 years. I understand and support his explanation completely.

If he is like me, I haven't been awake in church for the past 50 years.

I was there, but I wasn't there. He should just come out and tell the truth:

"He said what? I never knew; I slept through it all."

Now, most Americans would buy into this with no questions asked.

I need to work on a political campaign; this is too easy.

~~ John W. Lawson
Jackson, Mississippi

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Resurrection of the "Top Two"

The U. S. Supreme Court has issued a ruling on an election system that is nearly identical to one that Mississippians have clamored for, off and on, since the 1960s.

Nonpartisan elections are popularly called "open primaries" in Mississippi and Louisiana. In this system, there are no party primaries, and all candidates run in the same election, with the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advancing to the runoff. I have proposed a plan for giving Mississippi voters greater choice by eliminating party primaries in our local elections.

I have also written about the efforts, between 1966 and 1979, to impose nonpartisan state and local elections in Mississippi, and about Louisiana having had such elections since 1975.

The Monster From Puget Sound

Since 2001, I have followed with fascination the controversy surrounding Washington state's election process. Starting in 1935, the state used a blanket primary: all candidates of all parties were listed on a single ballot, with the top vote-getter from each party proceeding to the general election. Thus, as in the Louisiana system, the voter could, in the first round, cross party lines from office to office. In early 2004, the federal courts put the final nail in the coffin of the blanket primary, and later that year, Washington began using a system of separate party primaries. In November 2004, however, Initiative 872, which provided for a Louisiana-style "top two" system, was on the ballot and passed with nearly 60 percent of the vote.

The "top two" has not been implemented in Washington, since, in 2005, the state's Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties brought suit against it in federal court. The U. S. District Court ruled against it, as the Ninth U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals also did. At that point, most observers wrote the "top two" off and basically forgot about it (as my friend Richard Winger, publisher of Ballot Access News, can attest, I was one of the few who predicted that the U. S. Supreme Court would agree to hear the state's appeal of the case. Most people were surprised when the high court did indeed say that it would review the case).

The "top two" system is used to elect most judges, many county officials, and the big majority of municipal officials in the United States. While it's a good idea for those offices, it is, in my view, a terrible concept for state and congressional elections. This is underscored by the fact that only one state-- Louisiana-- has heretofore used the "top two" for all of those elections[1] (and the Bayou State has this year restored party primaries for its congressional elections). Nevertheless, bad ideas are not always unconstitutional, and I predicted that Washington would ultimately have some version of the "top two." My confidence was somewhat shaken, though, by the attitudes displayed by several of the justices during oral argument of the case on October 1, 2007.

The Supremes Breathe New Life Into The "Top Two"

On March 18, 2008, in a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court reversed the two lower courts and said the "top two" is constitutional on its face. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion, with Chief Justice John Roberts concurring, while Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy dissented. The question was whether allowing candidates to put their party preferences on the "top two" ballot without the parties' consent was constitutional (Washington, unlike Louisiana, does not register voters by party).

It seems certain that there will be further litigation vis-a-vis the "top two," as the justices left the door open for an "as-applied" challenge to the system after it has been used once. Also, footnote 11 of the opinion lists several possible grounds for challenge.

Moreover, the Washington "top two," as I see it, is clearly unconstitutional for congressional elections. In 1872, Congress set the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even-numbered years as federal election day. Through a series of rulings, the Supreme Court has established that any congressional candidate who has shown a five percent "modicum of support"-- and who has not sabotaged his own party-- must be listed on the November ballot. The Washington "top two," however, has set a 30 percent "modicum of support" for a candidate to be on the November ballot (30 percent is the average vote of the second-place finishers in Washington's state and congressional primaries, 1992-2001).

The first round of the "top two" is scheduled for August 19, with the second round, of course, on November 4 (the main difference between the Washington and Louisiana systems is that there is always a second round in the Evergreen State, whereas Louisiana only has a runoff if no candidate gets 50-plus percent in the first round). UPDATE (5/30/08): At the behest of the state party, Washington's county Democratic leaders have nominated candidates. These candidates will have the party's backing, but other Democratic candidates may compete against them in the August 19 election. In at least one instance, two Democrats have been endorsed for the same office. The Republicans have made nominations optional for their county leaders.

Thinking of the probable future litigation[2], I am reminded of the last words of Stephen Boyd's character in the movie Ben-Hur: "It goes on... it goes on, Judah. The race is not over."


[1] Proposals for a system like the "top two" were rejected by California voters in 1915 and 2004. North Dakota voters defeated a similar measure in 1921. Five times between 1966 and 1979, the Mississippi legislature passed such a measure, but the system was blocked each time from taking effect.

[2] UPDATE (3/30/2008): The Washington Republican Party has already taken new legal action to invalidate the "top two."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cav Boys

by Kenneth Lee Gillespie

When twilight comes and fireflys fly
Those lightning bugs across the sky,
Dive in and out, formations high.
They flicker on their running lights
To twinkle in the monsoon song.
The children run through fury's bright
Burning amidst the village site.
The Cav Boys have come out to play
And in the village doth they slay.
When twilight comes the choppers fly
With miniguns and troops arrayed,
To strike out fast across the sky,
Dive in and out, formations high.

Copyright ©2008 Kenneth Lee Gillespie

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter Meditations

“The Son of God suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His.” —George MacDonald

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” —C.S. Lewis

“You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing is worth dying for, when did this begin? Should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots of Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard round the world?” —Ronald Reagan (1964 speech, 'A Time for Choosing')

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Making of a Nation

"If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify."(1)

"Probably the greatest exposition of the Constitution, The Federalist was written mainly to persuade New Yorkers of the desirability of supporting and ratifying the Constitution. It was published first as a series of newspaper articles and then as a book. The articles were unsigned, but Alexander Hamilton wrote many of them, James Madison several, and John Jay a few. Though the articles were written under the press of circumstances, they have remained as one of the highest achievements in political thinking ever composed."(2)

Note: Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) was born illegitimately in the British West Indies (now the Virgin Islands) and arrived in the mainland colonies in 1772. He was a trusted aide to General George Washington for much of the Revolutionary War and became Treasury secretary under Washington. A New Yorker, he was one of the founders of the Federalist Party, with whose principles Washington was in sympathy.

James Madison (1751-1836) is sometimes called the "father of the Constitution." He was the fourth president of the U. S. (1809-1817), secretary of state under Thomas Jefferson, and served in the U. S. House of Representatives, 1789-1797. He was the leader in winning Virginia's ratification (89 to 79) of the Constitution and later pushed the Bill of Rights through Congress. Along with Jefferson, Madison shaped the Republican Party (forerunner of today's Democratic Party) and became an outstanding spokesman for strict construction of the Constitution. Five feet, four inches in height, he studied theology earlier and may have intended to become a clergyman.

John Jay (1745-1829) was a leader in getting the Constitution ratified in New York (30 to 27) and was named the first chief justice of the United States. He later served as governor of New York.


(1) Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 33, 3 January 1788)

(2) Clarence B. Carson, A Basic History of the United States, Volume 2 (Wadley, Alabama: American Textbook Committee, 1984), page 103.

The Race Is On

The black and white truth about a black candidate.

by Greg Asimakoupoulos | The Partial Observer | March 7, 2008

B'lack Obama's White House dreams
are fueled by grits and collard greens.
He knows that Aframericans
are hungry for a win.

While race is not the only deal,
for millions it's a happy meal.
A chance to prove that Martin's dream
has finally come true.

We're watching history being made.
And while some racists are afraid,
there is no cause to fear B O
because his skin is black.

My fear is based in what he's done.
He's not experienced for one.
And secondly, his Iraq view
is blurred and shortsighted.

I like Obama as a man.
I'm envious of his great tan.
But he's too liberal for my blood
and left on Right to Life.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Caught With His Hand in the Nookie Jar

$4,300 an hour? I wonder if the Emperors Club ever has a one-cent sale (you pay an extra penny and you get to bring a friend). The emperor did actually have some clothes, but he took them off. Yes, it looks as though the governorship of that smug, pompous New Yorker, Eliot Spitzer, has just about petered out...

From Bookworm Room:

I would be remiss if I did not point out to you that Democratic New York governor Eliot Spitzer has some problems with prostitution — and it’s not that he disapproves of it:

"Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a person briefed on the federal investigation.

"The wiretap recording, made during an investigation of a prostitution ring called Emperors Club VIP, captured a man identified as Client 9 on a telephone call confirming plans to have a woman travel from New York to Washington, where he had reserved a room. The person briefed on the case identified Mr. Spitzer as Client 9.

"The governor learned that he had been implicated in the prostitution probe when a federal official contacted his staff last Friday, according to the person briefed on the case.

"The governor informed his top aides Sunday night and this morning of his involvement. He canceled his public events today and scheduled an announcement for this afternoon after inquiries from the Times."

If the story is true, my deep sympathies to his wife. If it’s false, I wish him the best of luck.

Of note is the fact that nowhere in the New York Times article from which I quote is Spitzer ever directly identified as a Democrat. Instead, there is a single oblique reference to his party buried in paragraph 9: “In recent weeks, however, Mr. Spitzer seemed to have rebounded, with his Democratic party poised to perhaps gain control of the state Senate for the first time in four decades.”

The “spot the party” trend continues in other news stories on the subject:

The AP story never once uses the words...

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Union of Sovereign States

Madison has often been called the Father of the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson also said that the federal government was a voluntary association of states.

"Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as
a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be
bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the
new Constitution will, if established, be a FEDERAL, and not a
NATIONAL constitution."

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 39, 1788)

This is why, for example, the national popular vote is irrelevant in a presidential election, which is actually separate elections in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Oil Exec Headed for the Hoosegow

Oscar Wyatt, now in his 80s, was also involved in this scandal and is mentioned near the end of this story.

In 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy was the Democratic nominee for president, and Vice President Richard Nixon was the Republican nominee. Under a plan spearheaded by Gov. Ross Barnett, a slate of unpledged electors had the Democratic line on the Mississippi ballot, and Kennedy was listed as an independent. The idea was that, if neither candidate won an electoral vote majority, the unpledged electors would hold the balance of power and would vote for the one who made more concessions on civil rights issues. The unpledged electors did indeed carry Mississippi with a plurality.

Wyatt was an ally of Texas Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, the Democratic vice presidential nominee. As the story goes, there was a plan to bribe the Mississippi electors if their votes were needed. Wyatt was allegedly told to withdraw some cash from his bank, go on election night to a small Houston-area airport, and await instructions to fly to Mississippi. The call never came, as the Kennedy-Johnson ticket carried enough states to win in the Electoral College.

Mississippi's electors wound up voting for Sen. Harry Byrd Sr. of Virginia.

The Associated Press | March 7, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) — A Texas oil executive was sentenced Friday to two years in prison for approving the payment of millions of dollars in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's Iraq regime so he could secure large oil shipments through a United Nations program.

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin also fined David Chalmers $9 million. He sentenced Chalmers' companies, Bayoil USA and the Bahamas-based Bayoil Supply & Trading Ltd., to three years probation.

Chalmers pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Without a deal with prosecutors, he could have faced more than 60 years in prison.

"I didn't think through all the consequences at the time and I'm sorry," he said. "In my heart, I should have known it was wrong."

Chalmers, 54, of Houston told the judge he carried "heavy, heavy guilt."

He said he agreed to begin paying the surcharges after a Baghdad-based representative of his companies told him the Iraqis had demanded it. Chalmers said he was concerned about the safety of the employee and the employee's family.

Operating from 1996 to 2003, the oil-for-food program was designed to let the Iraqi government sell oil primarily to buy food and medicine for its citizens. Sanctions were imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait and brought about the first Gulf War.

By 2000, authorities said, Saddam Hussein had begun insisting that kickbacks...Keep reading>>>

Cut the Grocery Tax, Period

Mississippi has more low-income people than Idaho. If a 6 percent tax on groceries is a burden on Idahoans, isn't it safe to say that a 7 percent tax on groceries is a bigger burden on Mississippians?

Note that the Idaho proposal is not about raising one tax and lowering another, as is Mississippi's "tax swap" scheme, which would increase the tobacco tax and cut the grocery tax.

The Idaho legislature, by the way, is overwhelmingly Republican.

Associated Press | March 6, 2008

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The House voted 61-8 Thursday to gradually increase rebates Idaho residents get to offset the 6 percent sales tax they pay on groceries.

The measure, which has won acceptance but not outright endorsement of Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, now goes to the Senate.

Otter vetoed a measure a year ago that passed the House and Senate.

After Idaho lawmakers raised the sales tax to 6 percent in 2006 to help pay for property tax relief, they've been wrestling with trying to ease the increased burden on food - especially for low-income residents for whom such necessities take up a disproportionate share of the income.

Despite opposition from Democrats and Republicans who wanted to eliminate the tax on food completely, proponents said this would accomplish much of that over time.

Blame it on the Supremes

Susan Estrich was the first woman to manage a major party's presidential campaign. She ran the 1988 effort of the Democrat Michael Dukakis, who lost to Vice President George H. W. Bush.

The 1981 LaFollette ruling, one of the precedents for the Mississippi Democrats' pending suit against our primary election law, was an unusual case. The national Democratic Party sued the state of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Democratic Party sided with the state against the national party. The state Supreme Court decided in favor of the state, whereupon the case was expedited and appealed directly to the U. S. Supreme Court. Justice Potter Stewart wrote the majority opinion, which reversed the Wisconsin court and held in favor of the national Democrats.

The first presidential primary was held in the early 1900s, and it was not until the 1970s that the majority of states began holding presidential primaries. It should be noted that, when someone participates in a primary or a caucus, he or she is helping to choose that party's nominee. Such a participant is not actually voting to elect someone to office.

by Susan Estrich

Blame the Supremes. That's right. The nine of them are responsible for this mess.

If you're shaking your head about how it is that in Texas, Democrats vote not once but twice, and lifelong Republicans who want to jimmy with the process can vote, too; or why it is that in California, independents (or, as we call them, "decline to states") could vote in the Democratic primary but not in the Republican primary — if they knew to fill in both the bubble for their candidate of choice and a separate one saying they were Democrats for the day; or how it came to be that even though Michigan and Florida held primaries on the date ordained by state law, the results don't count (at least as of now) for the Democrats, the short answer is simple: Blame the United States Supreme Court.

I know what you're thinking: The Court didn't make this crazy patchwork of rules that no one but those we in party circles used to call "rules junkies" could ever understand. And that's true. The two national parties and the 50-something state parties are responsible for this bout of creative law making. But it was the Supreme Court, back in 1980, that gave the national parties, nowhere mentioned in the Constitution, supreme power to define the processes by which their nominees are selected, thus empowering a group comprised of people you've never heard of or voted for to make rules that determine who (not to mention how) you vote for president.

The issue in 1980 was the Wisconsin open primary. Wisconsin has, and had then, a long tradition of allowing anyone, regardless of party, to cast their vote in whichever primary they wanted. You didn't even have to become a Democrat for the day to do it. But after the 1972 contests — in which there were all kinds of reports of [Alabama Gov. George] Wallace people voting for [South Dakota Sen. George] McGovern, and various and sundry Republican troublemakers trying to affect the choice of the man who would run against their nominee, President Richard Nixon — the Democrats adopted a rule limiting participation in the primaries and caucuses leading up to the nominating convention to "bona fide Democrats."

Wisconsin sought an exemption from the rule prohibiting so-called "open primaries," but the national party said no. Wisconsin held an open primary anyway. The national party made noise about not seating the Wisconsin delegation. It took until the very late spring of 1980 for the case to reach the point of a decision by the United States Supreme Court, which held...Read more>>>

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Governor Craves Pickles and Ice Cream

In 2006, Palin defeated the incumbent governor in the Republican primary and then beat a former Democratic governor in the general election.

Can you believe it? She has the same last name as her husband!

Wouldn't it be a hoot if Crazy John McCain picked her as his running mate?

Be sure to see photo No. 2. Isn't Piper a doll?

Associated Press

JUNEAU, Alaska-- Gov. Sarah Palin and her husband are expecting their fifth child in May, she announced Wednesday.

Palin, 44, who just three months ago was modeling for the fashion magazine Vogue, doesn't look seven months pregnant.

"I will be delivering an addition to the first family," Palin told a stunned group of reporters.

The Republican governor, now in her second year as Alaska's chief executive, said she does not believe the pregnancy will affect her ability to run the state. Palin has been mentioned as a potential running mate on the Republican presidential ticket.

She said her work as Wasilla mayor had only a brief interruption when she had her youngest daughter, Piper, six years ago.

"I had Piper on a Monday and I was back to work on a Tuesday," Palin said. "I even brought her to work with me."

Todd Palin, a worker in the North Slope oil fields, is on leave from his job with oil giant BP PLC.

The other Palin children are Track, 18; Bristol 17; Willow 13; and Piper, 6.

Track enlisted in the Army last year and has been assigned to Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift was the nation's first governor to give birth while in office. She had twin girls May 15, 2001.

Click here to see photos and extensive comments.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Yes, Virginia, You're Not Appealing

There is news from Virginia that increases the likelihood that the Mississippi Democrats' lawsuit against our primary election law will prompt a landmark ruling from the U. S. Supreme Court-- one which will potentially affect 21 states.

In an open primary, a party's primary ballot is available to any voter who requests it. Mississippi and Virginia are among the states which mandate that any party holding a primary must conduct it as an open primary. In 2005, a unit of the Virginia Republican Party brought suit against that state's open primary law. Both the U. S. district court and the 4th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently said that there is a circumstance in which the party may block non-members from voting in its primary.

In February 2006, the Mississippi Democratic Party filed a similar suit against our state-mandated open primary. The Democrats' purpose in bringing this challenge was to be able to exclude Republicans from Democratic primaries. In June 2007, U. S. District Judge Allen Pepper agreed with the Democrats and declared the law unconstitutional. He also ordered party registration and something which the Democrats had not sought, voter ID. This is the first time that any court has ordered any state to enact voter ID or party registration.

The Mississippi suit-- Mississippi Democratic Party v. Barbour-- is now in the 5th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which heard the case on Wednesday, March 5. The 5th Circuit had previously (1) stayed Judge Pepper's decision and (2) expedited the case. The court's Web site says that its goal is to issue rulings within 60 days of hearing cases.

Both the state of Virginia and the Virginia Republicans have announced that they will not appeal that case to the U. S. Supreme Court.

The main precedent for the Virginia and Mississippi suits-- California Democratic Party v. Jones-- directly affected only three states, and it's considered a landmark case. So it's pretty safe to say that, if the Supreme Court indeed hears the Mississippi case, that will also be a landmark ruling.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Bluegrass and Runoffs Don't Jibe

In the early 1900s, states began requiring political parties to use primary elections to nominate their candidates. In most of the South at that time, to be sure, winning the Democratic nomination was almost always equivalent to being elected. Nearly all the former Confederate states-- plus Oklahoma-- therefore enacted runoff (or second) primaries, in order to ensure that no candidate got elected with a small percentage of the vote.

Mississippi was first to adopt the runoff primary. The other states that today have runoff laws are Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina(1), Louisiana(2), Oklahoma, and, for the time being, Kentucky.

Kentucky has never held a runoff primary, and it's necessary to go back to 1979 to understand why. That year John Y. Brown Jr., a millionaire, won the Democratic primary for governor with 27 percent of the vote. Fast forward to 1987, when another millionaire, Wallace Wilkinson, won the Democratic gubernatorial primary with 35 percent (wrecking former Gov. Brown's comeback bid in the process).

Kentucky law had never stipulated runoffs, but largely in reaction to the 1979 and 1987 primaries, the Kentucky legislature enacted runoff primaries for the office of governor only, effective with the 1995 elections. There is a 40 percent threshold to avoid a runoff, which is why none has ever been required.

In 2007, when it appeared that gubernatorial runoff(s) might be looming, the local election officials complained loudly about the possible additional expense. The legislature then appropriated extra money to cover the potential runoff(s), which, again, turned out to be unnecessary.

The candidates for governor in both the Democratic and Republican 2007 primaries also agreed that if no one got the threshold 40 percent, the second-place finisher would drop out in order to eschew a runoff.

Now, as expected, the Kentucky legislature is moving to repeal the gubernatorial runoff provision, as the House has passed HB 18. On February 19, however, the Senate amended the bill to also change the state's primary election schedule, so it is now in a conference committee. But it's clear that the days of a runoff requirement in the Bluegrass State are numbered.

Note: Mississippi started using the primary election statewide in 1903. This state's Republicans first held a primary in 1972, when Gil Carmichael defeated James Meredith for the U. S. Senate nomination. Notably, the only time there has ever been a Republican gubernatorial runoff here was in 1991, when Kirk Fordice beat Pete Johnson.


(1) North Carolina has a 40 percent threshold to avoid a runoff primary.

(2) Louisiana just has runoff primaries in its congressional elections. Other than presidential primaries, those are the only party primaries that the Bayou State has.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Sue The "Global Warming" Scamsters

by Noel Sheppard

By now most people are aware that the founder of The Weather Channel, John Coleman, said global warming is "the greatest scam in history" last November.

On Monday, while speaking at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change [1] being held in New York City, Coleman took his criticisms further by advocating that all those involved in the sale and marketing of carbon credits, including Al Gore, should be sued "to finally put some light on the fraud of global warming.”

As reported [2] over at the Business & Media Institute by my colleague Jeff Poor (emphasis added throughout, hat tip to many):

Coleman also told the audience his strategy for exposing what he called “the fraud of global warming.” He advocated suing those who sell carbon credits, which would force global warming alarmists to give a more honest account of the policies they propose.

“[I] have a feeling this is the opening,” Coleman said. “If the lawyers will take the case – sue the people who sell carbon credits. That includes Al Gore. That lawsuit would get so much publicity, so much media attention. And as the experts went to the [witness] stand to testify, I feel like that could become the vehicle to finally put some light on the fraud of global warming.”

How delicious. Of course, for those that are interested, Nobel Laureate Gore was invited to speak at this conference -- was even offered his normal fee to attend! -- but refused. As reported [3] Monday by Anthony Watts, one of the conference speakers (emphasis added):

I was surprised to learn that Al Gore had been offered an opportunity to address this conference, and his usual $200,000 speaking fee and expenses were met, but that he declined.

I also know that invitations went out to NASA GISS principal scientists Dr. James Hansen, and Dr. Gavin Schmidt weeks ago as evidenced by their writeup of the issue on their blog, RealClimate.org a week or so ago.

They have declined the formal invitation sent, even though it would be easy for them to attend, given that NASA GISS is located just a few blocks away at Columbia University.

Since recent polls indicate that about 50% of Americans remain unconvinced that global warming is a serious issue, it would seem this would be a perfect place for Mr. Gore, Dr. James Hansen, and Dr. Gavin Schmidt to bridge the crevasse.

Exactly, Anthony. Sadly, these folks don't want to speak to the half of the nation not buying into their junk science, for it is so easily exposed as such, and that would bring an end to the fraud.

Of course, one has to wonder how all those that do believe in this myth feel about the fact that the leaders of their cause not only refuse to debate the issue, but won't even attend a conference dealing with it.

Regardless, Coleman on Monday also pointed his finger at The Weather Channel:

"The Weather Channel had great promise, and that’s all gone now because they’ve made every mistake in the book on what they’ve done and how they’ve done it and it’s very sad,” Coleman said. “It’s now for sale and there’s a new owner of The Weather Channel will be announced – several billion dollars having changed hands in the near future. Let’s hope the new owners can recapture the vision and stop reporting the traffic, telling us what to think and start giving us useful weather information.”

We at NewsBusters share your hopes, John.

[Click here to read comments and to view YouTube video.]

[1] http://www.heartland.org/NewYork08/newyork08.cfm
[2] http://www.businessandmedia.org/articles/2008/20080303175301.aspx
[3] http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2008/03/03/day1-of-the-international-climate-change-conference/

A Screaming Obamanation

Barack Obama is, in my view, basically a 1960s-style left-winger with a good speech. The fact that someone like him could be on the verge of winning the presidential nomination of one of our major parties says a lot about the state of American culture. He's a product of Chicago's Daley Machine, which in the 1990s gave us the ethically-challenged U. S. Sen. Carol Measly Brain.

As the piece below notes, almost all of Obama's accomplishments in the Illinois legislature came during a single year. He lost the 2000 Democratic primary for the U. S. House by 30-plus percentage points, and he won the 2004 U. S. Senate race largely because of the shortcomings of his opponents. What several of his fellow Chicago legislators think of him is also noteworthy.

From AgainstObama:

It’s not quite eight in the morning and Barack Obama is on the phone screaming at me. He liked the story I wrote about him a couple weeks ago, but not this garbage.

Months earlier, a reporter friend told me she overheard Obama call me an a**hole at a political fund-raiser. Now here he is blasting me from hundreds of miles away for a story that just went online but hasn’t yet hit local newsstands.

It’s the first time I ever heard him yell, and I’m trembling as I set down the phone. I sit frozen at my desk for several minutes, stunned.

This is before Obama Girl, before the secret service detail, before he becomes a best-selling author. His book Dreams From My Father has been out of print for years.

I often see Obama smoking cigarettes on brisk Chicago mornings in front of his condominium high-rise along Lake Michigan, or getting his hair buzzed at the corner barbershop on 53rd and Harper in his Hyde Park neighborhood.

This is before he becomes a U.S. senator, before Oprah starts stumping for him, before he positions himself to become the country’s first black president.

My view of Obama then wasn’t all that different from the image he projects now. He was smart, confident, charismatic and liberal. One thing I can say is, I never heard him launch into the preacher-man voice he now employs during speeches. He sounded vanilla, and activists in his mostly black district often chided him for it.

Chris Matthews, the MSNBC political pundit, recently grilled Texas state Senator Kirk Watson for supporting Obama despite knowing nothing about the candidate’s legislative record.

“Can you name any - can you name anything he’s accomplished?” Matthews pressed.

“No,” Watson, whose district includes Austin, finally admitted. “I’m not gonna be able to do that.”

“Well, that’s a problem, isn’t it?” Matthews said.

Hillary Clinton recalled the incident with a chuckle during last Thursday’s debate at the University of Texas.

When asked about his legislative record, Obama...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr., RIP-- Sort Of

A more critical look at Mr. Buckley...

by Peter Brimelow

"There are no second acts in American lives", F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said. No-one exemplified this better than his fellow Irish-American social climber William F. Buckley Jr., founder of National Review, who died early in the morning of February 27 at the age of 82.

This might seem an ungallant note to strike at a moment when Buckley is enjoying the posthumous plaudits of friend and (avidly courted) foe. But not the least evidence of Buckley’s unmistakable effeminate streak was a viciousness that showed in his flouting of such comforting conventions—for example in his 1995 obituary of the libertarian economist Murray Rothbard, which the Mises Review’s David Gordon fairly described as "malicious spite." Buckley’s rationale (presumably) was that those of us who live by opinion must be prepared to die by opinion. If so, in this area at least, I agree with him.

Just as the gangsters in The Godfather reassured each other that their bloody clashes were just business, not personal, I’d say that my disagreement with Buckley was fundamentally political, although I do consider his character to have been among the most contemptible I have encountered in public life. However, in Buckley’s case, the political was personal and vice versa. It was his personal failings that ultimately accounted for the four-decade fizzle of his once-brilliant career—and for the fact that, regularly credited with the making of the modern conservative movement, he must also be indicted for its breaking.

Above all, he must also be indicted for the breaking, through out-of-control post-1965 mass immigration, of the nation that some of us thought the conservative movement was sworn to defend.

However, I must also note that Buckley himself was extraordinarily, almost hysterically, sensitive to criticism. My own relationship with National Review in the mid-1990s was fatally impaired by that fact that he believed and kept insisting to associates that I had once criticized him in print, although he characteristically declined to raise the matter with me man (so to speak) to man.

I had no recollection of ever criticizing Buckley in print. In fact, I recalled the direct opposite: unheroically maneuvering to avoid an assignment from the late Bob Bleiberg, then Editor of Barron’s, where I was then employed in the decent obscurity of financial journalism, to write an expose of the Buckley family’s controversial dealings in its public oil exploration companies. (In 1979, Buckley himself signed a consent decree with the Securities and Exchange Commission after allegedly attempting to avoid personal bankruptcy by unloading bad investments on a public company he controlled. "Bill isn’t as wealthy as he wants us to think," the Wall Street Journal’s Bob Bartley, himself all too culpable in the conservative movement’s failure to grapple with immigration, gloated to me at the time. He was right, as I realized later when I saw the extent to which National Review subsidized Buckley’s plutocratic life style.)

The point here: astonishingly, Buckley was deeply insecure. I believe he was all too aware that he exemplified Fitzgerald’s celebrated maxim. From the publication of God and Man at Yale in 1951, through the founding of National Review in 1955, to his brilliant New York mayoralty race in 1965, rallying the conservative movement after the Goldwater disaster and discovering the crucial Reagan Democrats, he rode the wave of history. After that, despite the potboilers and the celebrity, he achieved nothing.

Buckley’s insecurity was brought home to me with particular force on Election Night 1996. My wife, Maggy, well known...Keep reading>>>