.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Free Citizen

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

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Leave Home Schoolers Alone

Les Riley, the Mississippi Constitution Party's 2007 nominee for state agriculture commissioner, has posted several comments on this piece from Third Party Watch:

"'There is no more important task for a parent than the education of one’s children. That responsibility belongs to parents, not the government,” insists Wayne Allyn Root [of Nevada], the Libertarian Party candidate for vice president [Bob Barr's running mate]. “As a home school parent myself, I know how important it is for government to not interfere in the education process.'

"Wayne Root and his wife Debra home school their four young children. Wayne is the first home school father on a presidential ticket in modern history. Root’s full statement can be found here."

Louisiana Challenged For Dropping Voters From Rolls

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, an outfit called Project Vote is trying to intimidate Louisiana into allowing people who are also registered in other states to vote in the Bayou State:

"Estelle Rogers, an attorney working with Project Vote, said she has placed the state on legal notice of the alleged violation, a first step toward a possible lawsuit. Project Vote is a national nonprofit organization that promotes voting in low-income and minority communities."

Rogers also claims, "'"Using only (a) full name and date of birth... causes many false matches, particularly when the name is a common one... .'"

So Ms. Rogers would apparently have us believe that there are cases of more than one person having the exact same name and date of birth. What are the chances of that?

Guess what? Anyone registered in both Louisiana and another state will still be able to vote in Louisiana in this year's elections. From the next-to-last paragraph: "[State commissioner of elections Angie] LaPlace said no voters will be dropped from the rolls until December, weeks after the Nov. 4 presidential race."

Here in Mississippi, we worry about people voting in more than one county, but you have to wonder: How many people are voting in more than one state?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Open Primaries" For Local Elections

This article is timely, given that the big majority of Mississippi's municipalities will elect their officials in the spring of 2009.

The voters of Aiken, South Carolina will decide on September 9 whether to eliminate party primaries in municipal elections and replace them with nonpartisan elections (popularly called "open primaries" in Mississippi).

South Carolina evidently leaves it up to each locality as to whether it holds party primaries: "... Aiken is one of only six cities in the state that still hold partisan elections."

In order to conduct a primary in a Mississippi municipality, a party must have a municipal committee there. To cut expenses, some of our smaller municipalities-- Flowood and the small towns in Hinds County, for example-- deliberately skip holding party primaries and just have all candidates run in the general election in June. This, of course, sometimes results in officials getting elected with less than 50 percent of the vote.

Remember what happened in the Rankin County seat of Brandon in 2005? Almost all of the candidates had qualified to run as Republicans, but the paperwork to organize the Republican municipal committee was not submitted in time. So, on the last day for filing, all of those Republicans had to re-qualify as independents. Consequently, the current mayor of Brandon was elected with 47 percent of the vote.

Another problem that sometimes arises in the present system of party primaries is that all or most of the candidates for mayor will run in one party's primary, while all of the candidates for council member in certain wards or districts run in the other party's primary. Thus, residents of those wards or districts are able to vote for mayor or council member, but not both.

The great majority of U. S. municipalities-- including most of the large cities-- already have nonpartisan elections ("open primaries"). California has had nonpartisan municipal AND county elections for nearly 100 years.

If we eliminated party primaries in Mississippi's local elections, (1) citizens would always be able to vote for mayor AND council member, and (2) no local official would ever again be elected with less than 50 percent of the vote.

Click here to see exactly how this system would work.

Here's more on "open primaries" for municipal elections.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kentucky Libertarians Dump Landham

UPDATE: The Kentucky secretary of state has reversed his position on allowing Sonny Landham to run as an independent.

On Monday evening, the state committee of the Kentucky Libertarian Party voted 9-0 to withdraw its support of Sonny Landham for U. S. senator. The former actor had last week made anti-Arab remarks and blamed the Arabs for the high price of oil.

This means that the Libertarians will not have a candidate against the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, and the Democrat Bruce Lunsford. The secretary of state has said, however, that he will list Landham on the ballot as an independent, since citizens have signed nominating petitions for him.

Ralph Nader Visits Mississippi

From wlbt.com:

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader was at Lemuria Book Store in Jackson [Mississippi] Saturday evening for a book signing and to drum up support for his Presidential campaign.

Nader, an independent candidate for President, is making stops in several Southern states trying to get his name on the ballot for the November election. A small group was on hand to hear his position on issues including the environment, the federal budget and foreign policy.

Nader says he and his vice presidential running mate, Matt Gonzalez, are taking voters away from his Democratic and Republican opponents.

"There are now 3 polls indicating that the Nader/Gonzalez ticket is drawing more votes from McCain than they are from Obama," Nader said. "It's a... very volatile year, and we ought to get over this idea as if you are a third party or independent candidate somehow you are a second-class citizen."

Next up for Nader are campaign stops in Texas, Utah and California.

Click here for a link to the video of WLBT3's report on the Nader visit.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

"Open Primary" Makes Oregon Ballot

Off and on since the 1960s, Mississippians have expressed a wish for an "open primary." This has usually referred to nonpartisan elections, in which there are no party primaries. All candidates, including independents, are listed on the same ballot, with the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, proceeding to the runoff.

Five times between 1966 and 1979, the Mississippi legislature passed the "open primary," but its implementation was stopped each time. In the meantime, Louisiana began using the "open primary" for its state and local elections in 1975 and for its congressional elections in 1978.

Louisiana has heretofore been the only state that has used the "open primary" to elect all of its state and congressional officials, but the Bayou State, starting this year, has restored party primaries for its congressional elections.

In November 2004, nearly 60 percent of the voters of Washington state approved a Louisiana-style "top two" system (a much more accurate term than "open primary") for the Evergreen State. Federal litigation delayed implementation of the "top two" until this year, and the first round is scheduled for August 19. Several of the state's political parties, however, are asking the 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals to block the "top two"; briefs are due on August 2.

On July 21, the Oregon secretary of state announced that, as expected, the "open primary" initiative has qualified for that state's November 4 ballot (like the Washington measure, it includes congressional as well as state elections).

Oregon's political parties are stronger than Washington's, and I believe that the "open primary" will have a harder time winning in the Beaver State. Nonetheless, 2008 is a volatile political year, and passage of the initiative is a definite possibility.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Landham: Kill Arabs Due To High Oil Prices

Well, apparently high gasoline prices are not the fault of "Big Oil" after all. Sonny Landham, aspiring Libertarian candidate for U. S. senator from Kentucky, blames the Arabs and says we should kill them if they don't lower their prices.

Landham, a former actor who is of American Indian descent, had roles in the 1980s movies "Predator," "48 Hours," and "Action Jackson." He seeks to run against the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, and the Democrat Bruce Lunsford. The chairman of the Kentucky Libertarian Party says Landham has not yet qualified, and the LP will make a decision on his candidacy on Monday or Tuesday.

From Third Party Watch:

Libertarian Party of Kentucky candidate for US Senate explains his earlier statement:

“We should go and bomb those camel-dung shovelers back into the sand,” if they don’t lower their oil prices.

On the radio show “Weekly Filibuster,” Landham expands on his comment:

“I’m a pro-American all the way. The Arabs, the camel dung-shovelers, the camel jockeys, whichever you wanna call ‘em, are terrorists. And they are doing a terrorist act on this country with the high gas prices. They’re about to wreck this economy, not only our economy, but the world economy.”

When taking a call from an Arab-American woman, Landham said he didn’t care what she thought, his interest was in American citizens. The lady told him that she was an American citizen, and Landham said he didn’t believe her.

Landham also applauded socialist labor leaders Eugene Debs, Jimmy Hoffa, and John L. Lewis.

Independent Political Report has posted the transcript, plus numerous comments.

Click here for extensive comments.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Messiah's Pilgrimage

by Gerard Baker, the London Times

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.

When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”

In the great Battles of Caucus and Primary he smote the conniving Hillary, wife of the deposed King Bill the Priapic and their barbarian hordes of Working Class Whites.

And so it was, in the fullness of time, before the harvest month of the appointed year, the Child ventured forth - for the first time - to bring the light unto all the world.

He travelled fleet of foot and light of camel, with a small retinue that consisted only of his loyal disciples from the tribe of the Media. He ventured first to the land of the Hindu Kush, where the Taleban had harboured the viper of al-Qaeda in their bosom, raining terror on all the world.

And the Child spake and the tribes of Nato immediately loosed the Caveats that had previously bound them. And in the great battle that ensued the forces of the light were triumphant. For as long as the Child stood with his arms raised aloft, the enemy suffered great blows and the threat of terror was no more.

From there he went forth to Mesopotamia where he was received by the great ruler al-Maliki, and al-Maliki spake unto him and... Read more>>>

Cut the Mississippi Legislature Down to Size

The July 21 Clarion-Ledger featured a letter from Shirley Coogan of Pearl calling for the size of Mississippi's legislature to be cut in half:

"We have more members in our state House of Representatives than does California. California has only 120 in both houses. Mississippi has 122 in House and 52 in our Senate - 174 in all. Something is very wrong with this picture.

"We Mississippi citizens need to cut our number of lawmakers by half. Mississippi has the lowest income per capita in the USA, but the state ranks 34th in number of legislators.

"Listed are three Web sites that would be good for our citizens to take a look at:

"How many legislators each state has: www.ncsl.org.

"Per-capita income for each state: www.infoplease.com.

"Pay of each state legislature, providing that data not including perks and staff: www.empirecenter.org.

"I hope this makes everyone as mad as it did me. While all of us fight to raise our families and gasoline is so high and everything we buy is going through the roof, now is the time to act."

I have previously written on this topic, and I agree with Ms. Coogan. The legislature itself obviously won't cut its own size, as some of the legislators would lose their jobs.

The other way to bring this about would be through a ballot initiative. Mississippi has a tough initiative process, which was essentially killed in 1998, when out-of-state petition circulators were banned. There are currently several federal lawsuits on out-of-state circulators which could affect our state. There was recently a favorable ruling in an Arizona case, Nader v. Brewer. In addition, on September 25, the 10th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral argument in Yes on Term Limits v. Savage, which challenges Oklahoma's ban on out-of-state circulators.

In 1993, Eddie Briggs, Mississippi's lieutenant govenor from 1992 to 1996, sponsored an initiative to reduce the legislature to a maximum of 60 representatives and 30 senators, but it failed to qualify for the ballot.

It's also worth noting that California, which, as Ms. Coogan points out, has a smaller legislature than ours, has about twelve times our population.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mississippian Nominated For President

The Reform Party was founded in 1995 by Ross Perot, who, as an independent presidential candidate in 1992, had gotten 19 percent of the vote against the Democrat Bill Clinton and the Republican incumbent, George H. W. Bush. Perot actually finished second in Maine and Utah.

Since Perot's 1996 presidential race-- in which he got just nine percent-- the Reform Party has been through some strange and troubling times. In 2000, because of the votes received by Perot in 1996, the presidential nominee was entitled to millions of dollars from the Federal Election Commission. Pat Buchanan, an erstwhile Republican, and John Hagelin of the Natural Law Party competed for the 2000 nomination, with Buchanan winning.

The Reform Party broke into several factions, and there has been a number of lawsuits. At a 2004 meeting in Texas, the RP faction headed by Shawn O'Hara of Hattiesburg, Mississippi endorsed Ralph Nader for president. Since then, of course, O'Hara has run for several offices in Mississippi as a Democrat, promising, among other things, snow cone stands for rest stops (I don't know exactly when O'Hara left the RP).

At a July 18-19 Reform Party meeting in Dallas, Texas, Ted Weill of Tylertown, Mississippi, won the 2008 presidential nomination. One of the commenters at this link says that Weill is legally blind and describes him as a "rich old crank." According to Newsmeat, Weill has donated (a) $1000 to Ralph Nader in 2008, (b) $8800 to Lyndon LaRouche PAC in the past year, and (c) a total of $16,700 to Lyndon LaRouche and Lyndon LaRouche PAC since 2003.

LaRouche once went to prison for credit card fraud, where his cellmate was Rev. Jim Bakker of PTL fame (don't you know the two of them had some interesting conversations?).

Notably, former state Rep. Erik Fleming, who defeated O'Hara to become the 2008 Democratic nominee against U. S. Sen. Thad Cochran, has also been linked to LaRouche.

Both the Reform Party and the Natural Law Party, incidentally, are still among Mississippi's eight ballot-qualified parties.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?

Ever wonder why we vote on Tuesday? According to Newsday:

"In 1845, farmers needed time to travel - by horse and buggy - from the fields to the county seat to vote without interfering with the three-day Sabbath or Wednesday, which was market day. So, Congress chose Tuesday to make voting easier for citizens of an agrarian society."

I had read that 1872 was the year that Congress exercised its authority to establish a uniform federal Election Day. Nevertheless, if it was 1845, that would mean that the first presidential election affected was in 1848, when General Zachary Taylor, a Whig who owned a plantation in Louisiana, was elected.

"In 1875, Congress extended the Tuesday date for national House elections and in 1914 for federal Senate elections."

Prior to 1914, of course, U. S. senators were elected by the state legislatures. With the advent of primary elections, some states held preferential primaries for U. S. senator, and the legislatures rubber-stamped the results. This led to passage of the 17th Amendment, which provided for direct election of senators.

Congress set the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November in even-numbered years as federal Election Day, so that federal elections never fall on the first day of the month. My understanding is that November was chosen because the farmers had harvested their crops by then.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-New York) has introduced a bill in Congress to change Election Day from Tuesday to weekends. This Politico article features a video of Israel asking various people why Tuesday is Election Day. Only a few answered correctly.

In his 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns, Ross Perot advocated changing voting days to Saturday and Sunday.

Louisiana has for years held elections on Saturday, and I believe Texas does too. This year, for example, Louisiana will hold its party primaries for Congress on Saturday, September 6, with the runoff primaries four weeks later, on October 4.

A number of other democracies, including France, hold their elections on Sunday.

Some states-- Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee among them-- allow "early voting" in advance of Election Day. Oregon uses vote-by-mail for all of its elections, as do almost all localities in Washington state.

Dick Morris, the former political consultant and Fox News commentator, has predicted that Americans will all eventually use their computers to vote.

Personally, I believe that the right to vote is sacred, and the easier and more convenient voting is made, the less it is valued and appreciated.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Missouri Sounds Like Mississippi

This article on Missouri's August 5 party primaries is a reminder of a recurring complaint among Mississippi voters.

Missouri, like Mississippi, has open primaries: each voter picks a party on primary day. In this particular Missouri county, all of the contested races for county offices are in the Republican primary. There are, however, some exciting races in the Democratic primary for state offices, which means that voters in this county will have to forgo those state races if they choose to vote in their contested county races.

Last year, the races for county officials in Mississippi's largest county, Hinds, were decided in the Democratic primary, so anyone who chose that primary missed out on voting in the Republican contests for state offices. And a Hinds countian who voted in the Republican primary in order to vote in the hot race for lieutenant governor between Phil Bryant and Charlie Ross, for example-- that citizen did not get to vote for his county officials, including the sheriff.

The situation was reversed in neighboring Rankin County, where the county races were almost all decided in the Republican primary. Anyone who, for example, voted in the Democratic primary in order to vote for a fellow Rankin countian, Rob Smith, for secretary of state-- that person missed out on voting for his county officials.

There were similar stories in other parts of the state.

Our next state and county elections, to be sure, won't occur until 2011, but most Mississippi municipalities will elect their officials next year. What sometimes happens in those races is that all or most of the candidates for mayor run in one party's primary, while all of the candidates in certain wards or districts run in the other party's primary. So instead of asking voters "Democrat or Republican?", the poll workers ask, "mayor or council member?" In 2005, Hattiesburg and Tupelo were two cities in which this took place.

What usually happens in the above situations is that people get upset when they realize that their voting choices will be limited, but they then forget about it until the next time it transpires.

Click here to see a plan that I have proposed for giving Mississippi voters greater choice.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Search YouTube's "Politicians Channel"

From Ballot Access News:

YouTube has thousands of videos of candidates running for office. The YouTube “Politicians Channel” is at this link. On July 14, Google announced that it is launching the “Google Elections Video Search gadget," which will use speech recognition technology to prepare the text of each of these videos. Then, the gadget will search the text of the speeches for content on a particular topic. ... . The gadget doesn’t seem to be in operation yet, but is described at this link.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mississippi's Special U. S. Senate Race

The special election for the U. S. Senate seat from which the Republican Trent Lott resigned will occur at the general election on November 4. The race, which features the Republican Roger Wicker and the Democrat Ronnie Musgrove, has turned out to be closer than had first been anticipated.

Sidney Salter writes: "... there have only been three open U.S. Senate seats from Mississippi since 1947 - the race to succeed Democratic U.S. Sen. James Oliver "Big Jim" Eastland of Doddsville in 1978, the race to succeed Democratic U.S. Sen. John Cornelius Stennis of DeKalb in 1988 and this current race to succeed Lott between Musgrove and Wicker."

There's a key difference between the two earlier races and the present one: Wicker, elevated to the Senate by Gov. Haley Barbour after 13 years as the 1st District congressman, is a candidate for the remaining four years of the term. How can that be considered an "open" seat?

1947 was when the special election was held for a successor to the late Sen. Theodore G. Bilbo. Mississippi's special elections were then nonpartisan, as they are today: there are no party primaries, and all candidates are listed on the same ballot. However, such contests were then one-round "first past the post" elections, and circuit judge John Stennis won with 26.9 percent. U. S. Rep. William Colmer, a Dixiecrat, finished second in the six-man field (which even included a Republican, who ran dead last). If there had been a runoff, Colmer would surely have defeated the more moderate Stennis.

In 1948, House speaker Walter Sillers, a Dixiecrat, pushed through a provision requiring 50-plus percent to win a special election, and that has been the law ever since.

Evers Helped Cochran Get Elected To The Senate

"In 1978, the battle to choose a successor to Eastland saw... Republican 4th District U.S. Rep. Thad Cochran turn back the challenge of Democrat Maurice Dantin of Columbia and independent Charles Evers of Fayette.

"A lifelong Democrat until the mid-1970s, Evers left the party over complaints that state Democrats took African-American voters 'for granted'... . Cochran won the general election with a 45 percent plurality of the vote, trailed by Dantin with [31.8] percent and Evers with [22.9] percent."

Henry Kirksey, a perennial black independent candidate, got 0.3 percent of the vote. Kirksey was elected to the state Senate as a Democrat in 1979 and 1983.

Since the 1978 U. S. Senate race was a regular election, 50-plus percent was not needed to win.

Sidney must have forgotten about the 1971 governor's race, in which Evers ran as an independent and got 22.1 percent against the Democrat Bill Waller Sr. (the Republicans did not run a gubernatorial candidate that year). Ironically, as Hinds County district attorney, Waller had twice prosecuted Byron de la Beckwith for the 1963 murder of NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers, Charles's brother.

Besides the 1978 Senate campaign, Evers ran at least one other statewide race-- in 1983 for governor, when he got just 3.9 percent of the vote. He made all of his statewide races as an independent because (1) independents only have to run in the general election, (2) he knew he couldn't get 50-plus percent in a statewide party primary, and (3) 50-plus percent is not required to win a general election[1].

Evers, who was once Mississippi's Democratic national committeeman, ran numerous times for local and district offices, always under a party label. He bolted the Democrats in 1980 to back the Republican Ronald Reagan over President Jimmy Carter, but Evers did not actually become a Republican until circa the late '80s.

Sidney claims that "Mississippi has in the past given President George W. Bush the highest percentage win of any state in the union."

In 2000, the Magnolia State voted 57 percent for Bush, as Alabama and South Carolina also did. At least six other states gave the Texan even higher percentages: Texas and Alaska, 59 percent each; Oklahoma, 60 percent; Utah, 67 percent; and Idaho and Wyoming, 69 percent each.

In 2004, Mississippi gave Bush 60 percent of its vote. Texas and Alaska each gave him 61 percent; Alabama, 63 percent; Oklahoma, 66 percent; Idaho and Wyoming, 69 percent each; and Utah, 72 percent.

"The national Democratic ticket could be either blessing or curse for [former Gov.] Musgrove."

Mississippi has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980; in fact, Jimmy Carter (1976) is the only Democratic presidential nominee to have carried the Magnolia State since Adlai Stevenson did in 1956.

Some 300,000 more Mississippi voters usually turn out for the presidential election than for the previous year's governor's race. There promises to be an even greater increase this year, since (1) the Democrat Barack Obama looks to turn out big numbers of young voters and black voters, which should help Musgrove, and (2) there was a drop-off in the vote in last November's matchup between Gov. Barbour and the Democrat John Arthur Eaves Jr. The Obama candidacy should also motivate some anti-Obama voters to head to the polls.

The unusual situation of having both U. S. Senate seats up for election at the same time will likely also increase the turnout. Cochran is opposed in his bid for a sixth term by Democratic former state Rep. Erik Fleming. Cochran's coat-tails can be expected to help Wicker, as will Barbour's formidable organization.

If Sen. John McCain should pick a Southerner as his vice-presidential running mate, that would also benefit the entire GOP ticket in Mississippi.

Five Black U. S. Senators In History

"... the hard reality is that Mississippi has never elected an African-American candidate to statewide office."

While that's true of modern times, Blanche K. Bruce, a Republican from Bolivar County, was the first black person ever to serve a full term as U. S. senator, 1875-1881. Born into slavery in Virginia, Bruce became a prosperous landowner in the Mississippi Delta during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era.

The first black member of Congress was another Mississippian, Hiram Revels, who filled an unexpired term in the U. S. Senate, 1870-1871. Revels, a Republican, was a North Carolina-born minister, educator, and politician from Natchez.

The other black Republican U. S. senator was Edward Brooke, who represented Massachusetts, 1967-1979. The only two black Democratic senators, ironically, held the same Illinois seat. Carol Moseley Braun served from 1993 to 1999, and Barack Obama has served from 2005 to the present. Moseley Braun and Obama, moreover, are both from Chicago.

This fall's election contests in Mississippi show many signs of generating much excitement.


[1] The Mississippi Constitution mandates that, in order to win a statewide office, a candidate must (1) get 50-plus percent of the vote, AND (2) carry a majority of the state House districts; otherwise, in the following January, the state House chooses between the top two vote-getters. If Evers had topped either the 1971 or the 1983 governor's race without meeting both requirements, he very likely would have filed suit against the constitutional provision.

The Civil War and the KKK

A commentary from Tim Birdnow on my post, "More Ignorance of History":

I come from a border state (Missouri), and often find myself caught in the middle on the issue. I tend to come down on the side of the Confederacy, since the Constitution does not say anywhere that the agreement is indivisible, and it states quite plainly that any powers not expressly granted to the Feds were reserved to the States. The slavery issue was raised later, which makes Mr. Lincoln`s war dishonest, in my view. Lincoln was, of course, basing his decision to go to war on the Force Act and President Andrew Jackson`s efforts to compel South Carolina to forgo nullification of the Tariffs of 1828 and 1832, but the Constitution should trump legal precedent. I do think the Union was worth fighting for, but a political compromise should have been reached. It WAS possible to end slavery, but nobody was willing to make the necessary compromises to accomplish it. I don`t think Lincoln should have gone to war. Frankly, if he were a true statesman[1], he would not have taken office.

On the Ku Klux Klan: the original Klan was a bit different from the racist entity that would come later, and it was an almost inevitable outgrowth of Reconstruction. There was chaos in the South, with crime running rampant and no way for Southerners to stop it. Many of the Northerners who immigrated south enjoyed the suffering of the ``damned rebels`` and so [Gen. Nathan Bedford] Forrest and company founded a vigilante organization to deal with the problem. Since many of the criminals were freed slaves, the Klan naturally went after them. I`m not claiming that the Klan was a good thing, mind you, but that it was a natural outgrowth of the times. The later racism of the Klan is a whole different story.

As to the name of the War, we`ll never get a consensus. I call it the Civil War, although it was only a civil war here in Missouri and in Kansas. "The War Between the States" is a better title, although it never caught on. Bear in mind, many things are misnamed; the Revolution was more of a conservative rebellion against changed policy by Britain, and as such is a misnomer; it should be called the "War of Independence." Precedent trumps accuracy, so I side with the majority.


[1] President Harry Truman said that a statesman was a politician who had been dead for at least 10 years. ~~ SR

Alaska's Poor Caribou

In 1995, the Republican-controlled Congress authorized drilling for oil in a comparatively small area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); the bill passed the Senate by just one vote. President Bill Clinton then vetoed the measure.

If not for Slick Willie's veto, the U. S. would now be getting a million-plus barrels of oil per day from ANWR.

Here's an exhibit of beautiful photos of ANWR, with accompanying maps and script explaining the facts about this whole issue.

Don't you feel sorry for the poor suffering wildlife?

"Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less"...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ventura Won't be a Candidate

UPDATE: Dean Barkley has qualified to run for the U. S. Senate. Since there are six other Independence Party candidates, the party will have a contested primary in September.

Jesse Ventura said Monday night that he won't run as a third-party candidate for U. S. senator.

Appearing on CNN's "Larry King Is Alive," the former Minnesota governor cited family considerations as his main reason for eschewing the race against the incumbent Republican, Norm Coleman, and the likely Democratic nominee, Al Franken (aka Stuart Smalley). Ventura also expressed his dissatisfaction with the presidential candidacies of Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain and said that he very likely would not vote at all.

I was surprised that Ventura, who called himself a "rogue independent," did not mention any of the other presidential candidates and instead made it sound as though McCain and Obama are the only alternatives.

Following Ventura's announcement, Dean Barkley, who was appointed interim senator by Gov. Ventura in 2002, said that he was reconsidering the Senate race and might seek the Independence Party's nomination after all.

The qualifying deadline is 5 p.m. local time today.

In the course of the interview, Larry King stated that George W. Bush has the lowest approval rating of any president ever. In the early 1950s, President Harry Truman sank to 23 percent in the polls, and I don't think Bush has yet dropped that low.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ventura To Reveal Plans Tonight

Former Gov. Jesse Ventura of Minnesota will announce tonight on "Larry King Is Alive" (8:00 Central time, CNN) whether he will run for the U. S. Senate this year. Tomorrow's filing deadline is also Ventura's 57th birthday.

Already campaigning are Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Al Franken (aka Stuart Smalley), the presumptive Democratic nominee. In the 1998 governor's election, Coleman finished second to Ventura, while the Democratic nominee, Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey III, ended up in third place. Ventura, the Reform Party nominee, was helped by the fact that Minnesota has same-day voter registration, and a large number of young voters turned out for him.

Newsweek published this interview with Ventura on the Senate race.

If he takes the plunge, Ventura is expected to seek the Independence Party's nomination in the September primary.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More Ignorance Of History

The Saturday Clarion-Ledger featured a letter from Matthew Stuart of Clinton, who identifies himself as a history major at the University of Mississippi. Stuart chides a previous letter writer for a misstatement regarding General J. E. B. Stuart.

"Perhaps, as the letter suggests, Jeb Bush was named after the infamous Confederate cavalry general, J.E.B. Stuart. However, JEB Stuart had nothing to do with the founding of the Ku Klux Klan..."

The first name of the former Florida governor and brother of the president comes from the initials of his full name, John Ellis Bush.

Matthew Stuart is evidently not related to J. E. B. Stuart, since he calls the general "infamous." I wonder if Matthew considers all Confederate generals-- and, indeed, all Confederate soldiers-- to be "infamous." If so, does that mean that Matthew would refuse to defend his home soil if it were invaded by a hostile army bent on destruction?

"Perhaps the letter writer was thinking about Nathan Bedford Forrest, another fine cavalryman and founding member who was the first Grand Wizard of the group. Perhaps every man named Nathan should be scolded for his name!"

If memory serves, General Forrest later broke with the Klan. And I wonder if Matthew thinks every resident of Forrest County, Mississippi, should also be scolded for living in a place named for this man.

It's worth noting, too, that William Forrest Winter, Mississippi's governor from 1980 to 1984, was named for General Forrest, with whom Winter's ancestor rode in the Civil War. Governor Winter probably needs a good scolding for not changing his name.

Matthew or anyone else who wants to know what the Civil War-- the War Between the States-- was really about should start by reading the letters which Lord Acton and General Robert E. Lee exchanged following the war.

Whenever I hear J. E. B. Stuart mentioned, I think of North Carolina senator Sam Ervin, chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee, which convened in 1973. Jeb Magruder, one of President Richard Nixon's aides, was involved in the Watergate scandal, and Ervin repeatedly referred to Magruder by his full name-- Jeb Stuart Magruder.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mr. Bill, the Commish, and Other Things

At least one blogger must be ecstatic over today's election of former state Rep. Jamie Franks of Mooreville as chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party. The Commander, publisher of the great red spot, previously blogged at Franks Tanks, which succeeded in its main purpose of helping defeat Rep. Franks in his race as the 2007 Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. Today's news no doubt means that Chairman Franks will be an inviting target for The Commander and other bloggers for several years to come.

The Commander had a post today in which he called Sidney Salter the "Dean of Mississippi Political Journalists." At least one journalist has been commenting on Mississippi politics since long before Smiling Sidney started chirping from his perch in Scott County-- columnist Bill Minor, Sidney's good buddy.

In fact, Mr. Bill is rumored to have begun his journalism career during the construction of the Indian mounds in Mississippi.

The Commander also alludes to the fact that the scheme for the state beef plant boondoggle was hatched by House speaker Billy McCoy and Rep. Steve "The Undertaker" Holland during a trip up (or down) the Natchez Trace (if the exact spot could be determined, a historical marker should be erected).

In addition, the Commander correctly calls into question the Republicanism of Lester Spell (not that the average Mississippian really gives a hoot about such things). Dr. Spell previously was elected mayor of Richland as a Democrat, under which label he also won his first three races for agriculture commissioner. In 1995, he beat the Republican Charlie Hull, who was the father of a football star and who was encouraged to run by the late Gov. Kirk Fordice. Spell also defeated the Republican nominees in 1999 and 2003, but when it became expedient to switch to the GOP, he did so during the course of his third term.

Last year, Commissioner Spell beat Max Phillips of Taylorsville in the Republican primary. He then got slightly over 50 percent of the vote against the Democrat Rickey Cole and Les Riley, the nominee of the Constitution Party. If neither candidate had surpassed the 50 percent mark, the race, of course, would have been decided by the state House of Representatives last January. That would have been an interesting turn of events, since the Democrats have a majority in the House.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Georgia's Photo Voter ID Upheld

The Georgia Democratic Party claimed that photo ID burdens the poor, the disabled, and minorities. Here in Mississippi, we've been told for years that voter ID would also be a hardship on elderly people. Could it be that Georgia's senior citizens are more resourceful than Mississippi's? ~~ SteveR

Click here for some interesting comments.


From the Associated Press:

ATLANTA — Georgia voters will have to present a photo ID when casting a ballot in Tuesday’s primary election.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Tom Campbell ruled today that Georgia law requires voters to present the photo IDs at polling precincts before voting in state elections.

Georgia’s Democrats sought to block the state from requiring photo IDs from voters in the primary, saying it places an undue burden on the poor, the disabled and minorities.

But Secretary of State Karen Handel predicted that changing the requirements days before the election would create “mass chaos” in Georgia’s precincts.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Louisiana Discriminates Against Blacks, Poor, and Elderly

Did you know that Louisiana engages in blatant discrimination against black people, poor people, and elderly people by requiring citizens to show a photo ID in order to vote? So, obviously, if you live in Louisiana and are black, poor, and elderly, you don't stand a chance!

The Bayou State is restoring party primaries-- after 30 years-- for its congressional elections. The primaries will be held on Saturday, September 6, and the runoff (or second) primaries will be on Saturday, October 4. The general election, of course, will be on Tuesday, November 4.

Louisiana has registered voters by party since 1916, and the currently recognized parties are Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green, and Reform. All of the parties except the Republicans are inviting independents to vote in their congressional primaries (the three minor parties are not likely to hold primaries, since they usually do well to have just one candidate per office).

The following notice is featured on the secretary of state's website:

"A Reminder to Voters - Take Picture ID to Polls
When you go to the polls to cast your vote in an election, be sure to take a driver's license, a Louisiana Special ID, or some other generally recognized picture ID. Voters who have no picture ID and bring only a utility bill, payroll check or government document that includes their name and address will have to sign an affidavit furnished by the Elections Division in order to vote. Should any problems or questions arise, the principal office of the Registrar of Voters in each parish will be open from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. on election day."

The Bayou State also allows early voting starting 14 days before an election and lasting until seven days before the election. This may be done at the local Registrar of Voters office (the equivalent of the county circuit clerk's office in Mississippi).

A Time To Drill

One of the most ridiculous aspects of this whole mess is that Alaska, which sits on billions of barrels of oil, has the highest gasoline prices in the nation. ~~ SteveR

"Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who used to be in the oil business, said the reason oil companies are not drilling on the 86 million acres [leased from the federal government] is that there is no substantial oil available on those lands to make drilling economically viable."


by Paul Weyrich

In a remarkably short time, the public has changed from supporters of environmentalism to advocates of drilling for oil and natural gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and/or in the ocean.

For the first time since the 1970s, liberals in both parties have found themselves responding to significant demands for drilling. Their responses are meant to confuse the electorate in order to turn public opinion back to their position on the environment.

Toward that end, liberals have come up with two mantras which we hear on every talk show, in every press conference, and in every speech addressing the high cost of gasoline.

The first is that it will take at least 10, maybe 30 years before we see a drop of oil coming from the ground at the aforementioned sites.

The second is that greedy oil companies already have 86 million acres of leases provided by the federal government. They only want more leases to satisfy their greed.

On the first point, correspondent Ken Wood pointed out that Larry Kudlow recently featured on his television show James T. Hackett, president and CEO of Anadarko Petroleum Company. Whereas some liberals are saying it could take 30 years for the oil to be available, Hackett said it would take two or three years, depending upon where the oil was drilled.

Indeed, I saw one oil exploration expert on Fox News who said that if the right equipment were available it would take only one year to get the first oil since the oil companies know exactly where the oil is located in the outer continental shelf.

One oil shale expert told drilling proponents in the House of Representatives that the first 800 million barrels of oil from shale could be available in two or three years. The remaining estimated 2 trillion barrels of oil from shale would take... Read more>>>

Monday, July 07, 2008

The "Top Two" in Washington and Oregon

"Top two" describes a nonpartisan election system, in which there are no party primaries. All candidates, including independents, are listed on a single ballot, with the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, proceeding to the runoff.

This year Washington becomes the second state-- the other is Louisiana-- to use the "top two" system. The first round in the Evergreen State is scheduled for August 19.

In addition, it now seems all but certain that a "top two" initiative will appear on the ballot in Oregon next November 4 (the popular term for this system in Oregon is "open primary," just as in Louisiana and Mississippi).

Following are excerpts from an exchange on the "top two" that I had on a blog of The News Tribune in Washington state, primarily with a commenter named jimrtex:

Steve: The U. S. Supreme Court said that the "top two" does not violate the political parties' associational rights, and that was the only question the court considered in that case. The 9th Circuit will next consider a challenge to the Washington "top two" on ballot access and trademark grounds.

California voters rejected the "top two" in 1915 and 2004, as did North Dakota voters in 1925, so it's definitely not a new concept.

Why should the voters be limited to two choices in the final, deciding election? In a system of party primaries, each party may have a nominee in the final election, and there is no limit on the number of independents who can be on the general election ballot.

Louisiana has had the good sense to restore party primaries in its congressional elections.

RegisteringFool: Apparently, too, the Ninth Circuit still believes that the injunction against the "top two" primary is still in force, because it wants more briefing on "the appeal" from the district court's ruling. "Top two" supporters should take note that there is nothing in the Supreme Court ruling to suggest the injunction should be reversed. The only thing the Supreme Court reversed was the Ninth Circuit's rationale for affirming the district court.

jimrtex: ... letting the top two candidates [have a runoff] ensures that there will be a majority in the second election - that it will be decisive. If you had more than two candidates, you would have to provide for the possibility of a 3rd election.

Steve: 29 states today register voters by party, and another 13 states publicly record each voter's choice of party on primary day. What's wrong with the parties knowing which voters nominate their candidates?

[... .]

The "top two" is used in many local and judicial elections in the U. S., so those officials are elected with 50%-plus. Georgia is the only state that has party primaries AND runoff general elections; there are potentially FOUR elections-- the primary, the runoff primary, the general election, and the runoff general election.

You obviously think that candidates getting elected with 50%-plus is more important than the voters having more than two choices in the final, deciding election. I disagree.

In the California blanket-primary case (Jones), the 9th Circuit adopted the district court's ruling as its own, and the Supreme Court reversed it in 2000. In 2003, the 9th Circuit followed the Jones precedent in striking down Washington state's blanket-primary law[1].

[... .]

[... .]

[... .]

Steve: [jimrtex asks] "If the first election that reduces the field to two candidates does not make party nominations, why do the parties need to know who voted for their candidates?"

You've here underscored why the parties oppose the "top two" monstrosity. The parties, to be sure, have the right to nominate/endorse candidates prior to the first round of the "top two," but those candidates are chosen by far fewer people than in a system of party primaries. Of course, it's much easier for the parties to control who participates in a convention or a caucus.

In Scalia's Jones dicta on the "nonpartisan blanket primary" ["top two"], he said that the State could require the parties to nominate candidates as the first step in the process. Obviously, that's not the way that Nebraska's nonpartisan state legislative elections work.

coovertc makes a good point in his #2. In Louisiana's 1996 U. S. Senate race, there were five or six major Republican candidates, and it appeared that they would split the vote and enable two Democrats to make the runoff (just as had happened in the 1987 governor's race). At the last minute in 1996, the Republican bigwigs got behind one candidate, who made the runoff against the Democrat Mary Landrieu.

Since 1996, there has been less competition in Louisiana's major races. Two ex-governors have "tested the waters" and decided not to run; if the Bayou State had had party primaries, they very likely WOULD have run, thus providing more choices for the voters.

In the "top two," the top two vote-getters are required to finance and conduct TWO general election campaigns, since all voters in the jurisdiction are eligible to vote for them. This makes campaigns more expensive and discourages candidates from running.

"3. Which voters are disenfranchised?"

When the two runoff candidates in the "top two" are from the same party, all other parties' faithful voters are disenfranchised. Not to mention the fact that the two runoff candidates' party is split in the final, deciding election.


[1] In California's and Washington's blanket primaries, all candidates of all parties were listed on the same ballot, and the top vote-getter from each party advanced to the general election. Thus, the primary voter could cross party lines from office to office.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Rising Young GOP Star

From Power Line:

Our occasional correspondent Joel Mowbray (jdmowbra@erols.com) files this report on a young Republican legislator whom he finds to be a rising star:

Striding to the podium without a hair follicle anywhere on his smooth face, Josh Mandel certainly didn't inspire high expectations at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley this past Sunday night. The former Marine, who has served two tours in Iraq and currently sits in the Ohio legislature, is tall and lean, but in a suit, he looks as if he's about to pin a corsage on his prom date.

From the moment he began his speech, however, the Republican Jewish Coalition audience hung on his every word.

He was lucky that he could finish talking in his allotted 15 minutes, as he was interrupted by applause 13 times. When he finished, the audience of mostly jaded, been-there, done-that political junkies gave him a rousing standing ovation, and a couple dozen well-wishers mobbed him as he walked off the stage.

One observer -- who has been to countless political events -- said simply, "Josh is a world-class speaker."

Given that he's a Republican in a two-to-one Democrat district in the Cleveland area, Mandel will need to give a lot more sterling speeches -- and raise another $400,000 -- to stay in his current job.

While Mandel could give almost any speaker a run for his money, the secret to his winning a state representative seat two years ago was knocking on almost 20,000 doors -- wearing through three pairs of shoes in the process. But with the GOP having a razor-thin four seat majority in the Ohio House, Mandel will be facing a tidal wave of cash from his opponent, the state Democratic party, and independent political groups, including so-called "527s."

If Mandel survives this November, expect to hear a lot more about him. Not only does he give a "world-class" speech, but he already has an impressive legislative track record. In his first (and only) term, he introduced Iran divestment legislation, and he successfully led the effort to force Ohio's massive pension funds to stop investing in companies that do business in Iran.

The Ohio Republican Party loves Mandel, and it's only a matter of time before the national party -- and other Americans -- share the love as well.

'Gays' Get Their Guns

The Independent Political Report says, "The Pink Pistols are a gay gun rights organization in the United States and Canada. Their mottos are 'Armed gays don’t get bashed' and 'Pick on someone your own caliber.'"

This group's 2008 calendar is "Guns and Buns."

The U. S. Supreme Court's recent excellent Second Amendment ruling must have made the Pink Pistols especially gay-- er, happy.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Divorced Politicians Are Increasingly Common

In a July 2 Clarion-Ledger piece on Congressman Chip Pickering's impending divorce, Sidney Salter writes: "Public divorces have plagued a number of Mississippi political families over the last quarter century. Prior to the election of Gov. Haley Barbour in 2003, the state's past three governors - Ronnie Musgrove, the late Kirk Fordice and Ray Mabus - all divorced after being elected governor."

This statement could be interpreted to mean that all three were divorced while in office, when in reality, only Musgrove was. While Fordice and his wife Pat certainly had marital problems during his administration, their marriage did not end until after he had left office. And Mabus and his wife Julie did not split until some years after his governorship, following his stint as President Bill Clinton's ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

John Bell Williams, our last segregationist governor (1968-1972), was divorced from his wife Betty after he had returned to private life.

There were rumors-- which he denied-- that Gov. Cliff Finch's wife Zelda once shot him with a pistol during his administration, 1976-1980. They may have divorced after he left office, but I'm not certain about that. Finch, who ran briefly for president in 1980, drank literally 40-50 cups of coffee per day. In 1986, eyeing the 1987 governor's race, Finch died of a heart attack while pouring himself a cup of coffee in his Batesville law office. He was 59 years old.

Gov. Bill Allain (1984-1988) was divorced some years before he ever held elective office. Ironically, Allain defeated state Sen. Charles Pickering, father of Chip Pickering, in the 1979 race for attorney general.

Mike Espy, who represented District 2 in the U. S. House and later served as President Clinton's agriculture secretary, was divorced somewhere along the way.

Jon Hinson, first elected in 1978 to represent Jackson and southwest Mississippi in the U. S. House, had to resign after his homosexuality was exposed in 1981. Hinson and his wife Cynthia were later divorced, and he died from AIDS in 1995 at age 53.

Gaston Caperton, West Virginia's governor from 1989 to 1997, was divorced during his administration.

U. S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-Arkansas, divorced his wife and married a member of his staff during his term of office. This hurt Hutchinson, an ordained Baptist minister, among conservative Christians and was a major factor in his loss to the Democrat Mark Pryor when Hutchinson sought a second term in 2002.

Closer to home, Buddy Roemer, governor of Louisiana from 1988 to 1992, was divorced while serving in that office. This surely didn't help him with the Bayou State's large Catholic population and must have contributed to his defeat in 1991.

In recent news, the current governor of Nevada was divorcing his wife and took legal steps to force her to move out of the governor's mansion.

So political figures-- whether in Mississippi or elsewhere-- are clearly not immune to marital breakups.