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Free Citizen

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

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dear Abby,

I am a crack dealer in Beaumont, Texas, and have recently been diagnosed as a carrier of the HIV virus. My parents live in Fort Worth. One of my sisters lives in Pflugerville and is married to a transvestite. My father and mother have recently been arrested for growing and selling marijuana. They are financially dependent on my other two sisters, who are prostitutes in Dallas.

I have two brothers: one is currently serving a life sentence at Huntsville for the murder of a teenage boy in 1994. My other brother is presently in jail awaiting trial on charges of sexual misconduct with his three children. I have recently become engaged to marry a former prostitute who lives in Longview. She is now a part time 'working girl.'

All things considered, my problem is this: I love my fiancé and look forward to bringing her into the family. I certainly want to be totally open and honest with her.

Should I tell her about my cousin who supports Barack Obama for president?

Worried About My Reputation

McCain, Palin In Mississippi Today

Alaska governor Sarah Palin, at a rally with Senator John McCain on Saturday, said that she was not accustomed to heat like Pennsylvania's. Just wait until she gets a dose of our Mississippi heat! From The Associated Press:

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Likely GOP presidential nominee John McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, are traveling to Mississippi on Sunday to check on people getting prepared for Hurricane Gustav.

Their trip comes just as delegates are preparing for the Republican National Convention, which begins Monday.

Aides say McCain and his wife Cindy will join Palin in traveling to Jackson, Miss., Sunday at the invitation of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour because of concerns about people threatened by the storm, which was heading into the Gulf of Mexico and menacing the same area ravaged by Hurricane Katrina three years ago. The storm could hit the United States as early as Monday afternoon.

The McCains and Palin will receive a briefing at the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency — a permanent operations center monitoring hurricane response.

Republicans are worried about holding their national convention during the storm.

If the storm's landfall is serious, McCain said he probably would rethink allowing the four-day political gathering to continue.

[... .]

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Vice-Presidential Poll Results

Starting on June 20, I ran a poll on the homepage of this blog which asked, "Who should Senator John McCain choose as his vice-presidential running mate?" These are the final results.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney led with 21.9 percent.

Sarah Palin, Alaska's governor, was second with 15.1 percent. She was my personal favorite, and I didn't even vote in the poll!

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal (GIN-dle) ran third with 12.3 percent.

There was a four-way tie for fourth place between Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, and "Other." Each received 11.0 percent.

Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina tied for a distant eighth place with 2.7 percent.

Bringing up the rear was Florida governor Charlie Crist with 1.4 percent.

It goes without saying that this was not a scientific poll.

Thanks to all who took the time to participate. I haven't yet decided what the topic of my next poll will be, but stay tuned.

Gov. Palin's Husband And Son Are Independents

UPDATE: Comment #9 at the Ballot Access News link below notes that Alaska allows voters not wanting to affiliate with a party to register as "undeclared" or "nonpartisan" (I believe New Jersey is the only other state that has those two registration choices for independents). Both Todd Palin and his son Trac are registered as "undeclared." Since first registering in 1989, Todd has never affiliated with a party; Trac has not yet cast a vote. Undeclared and nonpartisan voters have their choice of either primary, as do registered Republicans.


Alaska is one of the 29 states that registers voters by party. Gov. Sarah Palin, the prospective Republican vice-presidential nominee, is, of course, a registered Republican. According to Ballot Access News, however, Gov. Palin's husband and 19-year-old son-- who is now in the U. S. Army-- are registered independents.

For offices other than president, Alaska has two ballots on primary day: the Republican ballot and the Democratic/Alaskan Independence/Libertarian ballot. Independents are invited to vote in the Republican primary, while ANY voter may participate in the Democratic/minor party primary. Thus, if the governor's husband and son were registered Republicans, they would still have their choice of either primary ballot.

Not surprisingly, some 60 percent of Alaska's registered voters are not affiliated with any party.

It would be interesting to know whether Gov. Palin's husband and son have ever voted in the Democratic/minor party primary.

Friday, August 29, 2008

"McCain-Palin" Has A Nice Ring

Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is expected to announce his choice for his running mate today in Dayton, Ohio. The recent talk has been that it would be either Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty or former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. However, NBC's David Gregory just reported that it will NOT be Pawlenty.

When I first heard those words, I immediately thought that Romney must have the inside track. But Gregory then said that speculation is now centering on (DUM-DE-DUM!) my personal favorite for the position... Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska! (Be sure to scroll down after you click on this link.)

If it is Governor Palin, I can't wait for the vice-presidential debate between her and Jabberin' Joe Biden, that far-left gasbag from Delaware. That will be an absolute feast!

If Governor Palin hops an airplane this morning for the Lower 48, that should be a pretty good sign that she's the one.

UPDATE: Gov. Palin is definitely Sen. McCain's pick. Fox News's Carl Cameron keeps calling her "Susan Palin"!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The "Open Primary" Debate Rages On

My piece on Oregon's ballot initiative, Measure 65 (M65), has attracted several provocative comments. M65 proposes a Louisiana-style "top two" election system, popularly called an "open primary" in the Beaver State. Linda Williams, chairwoman of the Independent Party of Oregon, the state's third largest political party, lists defects in M65, as Dan Meeks also does. My friend Nancy Hanks-- the Queen of the Independents-- has posted two comments defending the "open primary" ("top two" is a much more accurate term for such nonpartisan elections). I will here respond to Nancy's comments.

Nancy is an official in the New York Independence Party, so she evidently considers anyone outside of the two major parties to be an independent.

"Since when are major party hacks concerned about excluding minor parties from the ballot????"

I think the "major party hacks" are concerned, Nancy, about their own parties being able to officially nominate candidates for the general election ballot-- which is one of the basic functions of a political party. M65's "top two"/"open primary" concept is far from being a "reform"... it's actually a regression to a no-party system.

"... you make the party primary system sound downright fair and equitable! But surely you are aware that the best scenario for an independent or minor party candidate is a non-partisan election."

States began in the early 1900s requiring the parties to hold primaries. Before that, the parties in most cases used conventions and caucuses to nominate their candidates. In a convention or caucus system, of course, grassroots citizens can only vote in the general election.

Richard Winger, publisher of Ballot Access News, has done a study of California's and Washington state's experiences with the blanket primary, in which all candidates of all parties were listed on a single primary ballot. Richard found that independents and minor party candidates almost never finished first or second.

I have observed Louisiana's experience with its "open primary" since its inception in the 1970s, and I cannot recall any independents or minor party candidates ever making the "top two" for a congressional or statewide office.

For an independent or a member of a minor party to support the "top two"/"open primary" is like a chicken handing Colonel Sanders a hatchet and inviting him into the henhouse.

"And why should the voters pay for closed partisan primaries???"

In 1995, a federal appeals court ruled that, when the state compels parties to hold primaries, the state must pay the costs of those primaries (Republican Party v. Faulkner County [Arkansas]). If left to their own devices, the parties would very likely nominate by convention or caucus rather than by primary-- because of the expense of holding primaries. Since the voters are accustomed to primaries, the states will continue to require and pay for primaries.

"Open primaries became a national issue in this [presidential] election campaign because independents were allowed to vote in some states but not in others, and most voters feel that's unfair."

You're mixing apples and oranges here, Nancy. What you're talking about here is the true open primary, in which a party's ballot is available to any voter who requests it. In almost every state where one major party has open primaries, the other major party does too (each voter, to be sure, may vote in only one party's primary).

Several federal courts have ruled against the state-mandated open primary. Idaho Republican Party v. Ysursa, which challenges that state's open-primary law, is currently in the U. S. district court there. Sooner or later, a case challenging the state-mandated open primary will reach the U. S. Supreme Court, and when it does, I'm convinced that the high court will strike down such a law (see Miller v. Cunningham [Virginia, 2007], California Democratic Party v. Jones [2000], and Democratic Party of Washington State v. Reed [2003]).

In states where open primaries are not mandated, each party decides whether independents are invited to vote in its primaries. If independents are not invited, they may vote in a party's primary by simply re-registering as a member of that party.

Why should a voter who steadfastly refuses to join a party be allowed to participate in that party's candidate selection process-- unless the party invites such a voter to do so?

"Partisan politics, whether it's major party or minor party, is on the way out."

Does that mean the New York Independence Party is on the way out, Nancy? Seriously, if the "top two"/"open primary" is such a great idea, you have to ask yourself: why is it that only two states-- Louisiana and Washington-- have ever used it for all of their state and congressional elections? Washington state is using it for the first time this year and faces continuing litigation from the state's Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian parties. And Louisiana has this year restored party primaries for its congressional elections.

"Open primaries is important for independent voters to be able to participate in elections in a meaningful way."

You express a concern, Nancy, for independent voters, and yet you don't seem to be similarly concerned about independent and small-party candidates.

The "top two"/"open primary" enables the voters to choose among all the candidates in the preliminary round,[1] but there are only two candidates per office in the final round. Again I ask: why should the voters be limited to just two choices per office in the final, deciding election?

Here is an article I wrote in 2004, during the "top two"/"open primary" initiative campaigns in Washington state and California (Prop. 62 lost in 51 of California's 58 counties).

Click here for a piece on the various election systems. This includes the history of Louisiana's "open primary" as well as the efforts, 1966-1979, to impose the "open primary" here in my state of Mississippi.


[1] It should be noted that, in Louisiana's "open primary," there is no runoff when one candidate gets 50-plus percent in the first round. In Washington state's "top two" and Oregon's M65 "open primary" proposal, however, there is always a second round between the top two vote-getters.

The Musgrove-Wicker Special U. S. Senate Race

Mississippi's special U. S. Senate election between Ronnie Musgrove and Roger Wicker will be included on the November 4 general election ballot. This contest is for the remaining four years of the term to which the Republican Trent Lott was elected in 2006. Earlier this year, Gov. Haley Barbour appointed the Republican Wicker to fill the seat on an interim basis.

Yesterday Sidney Salter referred to "... Democratic U.S. Senate nominee and former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove."

Since there are no party primaries in Mississippi's special elections, there are no party nominees. That's why no party labels will be listed next to Wicker's and Musgrove's names on the ballot. It just happened that (1) there are only two candidates in the special U. S. Senate race, and (2) one of those candidates is a Democrat and the other a Republican. It was possible for any number of candidates to run, and for all of those candidates to be from the same party or from any combination of parties.

Six candidates ran in the special U. S. Senate election in 1947, when John Stennis was first elected. The top five vote-getters were all Democrats, and the lone Republican received less than one percent of the vote.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Parties Oppose The "Open Primary"

The Hankster is an excellent blog which is "of, by and for Independents across America." Its publisher is my friend Nancy Hanks, who is a transplanted Southerner based in New York City. Yesterday Nancy posted a link to a column about Oregon's ballot initiative, Measure 65, which proposes a Louisiana-style "top two" (a.k.a. "open primary") election system for the Beaver State. This is my comment on that column:

Under "Reform," the headline on the piece about the Oregon ballot measure is misleading. NO political party supports Measure 65 (M65), since it would take away the parties' ability to officially nominate candidates.

Under this monstrosity, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the runoff; this makes it nearly impossible for independents and small party candidates to reach the runoff and thus have a chance to be elected. The two final candidates are almost always a Democrat and a Republican, two Democrats, OR two Republicans.

In a system of party primaries, there is no limit to the number of independents who can run for each office in the general election, and that's the only campaign that an independent has to wage. In the "top two" system, in contrast: if lightning strikes and an independent makes the runoff, s/he then must wage a SECOND general election campaign.

That's another downside of the "top two" monstrosity: the top two finishers are forced to wage TWO general election campaigns; this makes campaigns more expensive and hence discourages candidates from running.

M65 hardly qualifies as "reform." In California (which has had nonpartisan ["top two"] county and municipal elections for nearly 100 years now), the voters rejected the "top two" for state offices in 1915 and for state AND congressional offices in 2004.

When a small party's message is kept out of the final election, the party loses its main reason for existing (in a system of party primaries, to be sure, each party has the right to have one candidate for each office on the general election ballot).

Why should the voters be limited to only two choices for each office in the final, deciding election?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Moonside Creek

Let's go down by Moonside Creek
(The crickets are a-chirping)
Past the bayou long and deep,
And there we'll pine our hearts away
And dream of yesterday.

Come tread the canepole trail once more,
Dusty twilight evening veil,
The bream are jumping o'er the stars
And splashing make no sound.

Sparkling cinders from the fireside sail
Up and up to twinkle briefly
Against the fading blue afar
As darkness claims my stay.

Whispers of the evening come
And leaves do rustle, mosquitoes hum,
And lofty dreams arise to meet
The moon, doth glow by Moonside Creek.

~~ Ken Gillespie, copyright 2005

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Oregon Liberals Argue "Open Primary"

Last Tuesday, August 19, Washington state held the first round of its Louisiana-style "top two" elections for its state and congressional officials. In this system (popularly called the "open primary" in Mississippi and Louisiana), there are no party primaries. All candidates, including independents, are listed on a single ballot, with the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advancing to the runoff.

In Oregon, a proposal for a similar system, Measure 65 (M65), will appear on the November 4 ballot. A liberal website, BlueOregon, has been having a lively discussion on this issue, and I have posted several comments (it's worth noting that the Beaver State now has closed primaries: voters register by party, and neither party invites independents to vote in its primaries).

Here is a portion of one of my comments:

James Frye says, "I am absolutely opposed to M65. We're not in the uni-party Deep South..."

I appreciate your opposition to the M65 monstrosity, as I've been arguing against this concept for years. The Mississippi legislature passed the "top two" (popularly called the "open primary") five times between 1966 and 1979. Its implementation was (thank God!) blocked each time. In the meantime, Louisiana began using it for its state and local elections in 1975 and for its congressional elections in 1978. Again: Louisiana has heretofore been the ONLY state to use the "top two" for all of its state and congressional elections (and the Bayou State has restored party primaries this year for its congressional elections).

Most Southern states (Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia) use the classic open primary: there is no party registration, and each voter picks a party on primary day.

The "uni-party" South is ancient history. In Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, both U. S. senators are Republicans. Seven of the 11 former Confederate states now have Republican governors (and Arkansas is the only one of these 11 states that has two Democratic U. S. senators).

The Louisiana "top two" system is indeed part of the refuse of the old one-party (truly NO-PARTY) system, in which elections were decided in the Democratic primary, with a Democratic runoff if necessary.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Get-Together At Saddleback

This conservative California blogger has joined with other Bay Area bloggers to start a new pro-John McCain site. I wish them well in their efforts to keep the junior senator from Illinois out of the White House, which, in my view, is the best reason to support McCain.

I have several comments on last night's "Civil Forum" moderated by Rev. Rick Warren at his Saddleback Church in southern California (which I did not realize until yesterday is a Southern Baptist church).

When asked by Warren to name the top three persons whose advice he would seek as president, Sen. McCain included U. S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia). This is the same Congressman Lewis who, on the House floor, has compared Republicans to Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen.

Sen. Obamanation named Clarence Thomas as a justice that he would not have appointed to the Supreme Court. McCain, on the other hand, listed justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Souter, and Stevens (a youthful age 88) as ones that he would not have nominated. I like what McCain said about the Supreme Court, particularly in regard to the abortion issue. Let's remember, however, that the Democrats will likely have a bigger majority in the Senate than they have now. A President McCain will have great difficulty getting a justice in the mold of Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, or Alito confirmed-- especially if that justice will be the decisive vote in overturning the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling.

I also find it interesting, as related to the Saddleback event, that there has been absolutely no mention of the "separation of church and state."

Did you know, incidentally, that former Rep. Bob Barr, the Libertarian presidential nominee, filed for an injunction against the Saddleback forum? I haven't seen anything about Barr's suit on the TV news (there couldn't really be a news blackout of the minor party candidates, could there?).

On the subject of McCain's prospective running mate, I trust that he's shrewd enough not to actually pick a pro-abortion candidate. One such possibility is Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security director. A pro-abortion Catholic, Ridge was a congressman during the 1980s, when he openly opposed President Reagan's missile defense proposal, the Strategic Defense Initiative. Ridge was also part of the "nuclear freeze" gang.

Another potential McCain vice president is Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the Democrat Algore's running mate in 2000. Let's not forget that Lieberman (1) has this year donated $100,000-plus to Democratic Senate candidates, and (2) thinks it's copacetic to suck the brains out of babies.

I thought that Obamanation did well at last night's forum, but that McCain had the better performance.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Greens Nominate "Jihad Cindy"

On the weekend of July 12-13, the U. S. Green Party nominated Cynthia McKinney, the former Georgia congresswoman, for president at the party's convention in Chicago. Her vice-presidential running mate is Rosa Clemente, an independent journalist and Hip Hop activist from South Bronx, New York (two black females... not a lot of diversity on that ticket). Clemente is also identified as a "community organizer"-- where have we heard that term before?

Comrade McKinney, a former Democrat who now lives in Oakland, California, thus becomes the second former U. S. House member from Georgia to win a minor party's presidential nomination this year. The other is Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party's nominee and an ex-Republican.

McKinney is also the second candidate with the nickname "Jihad Cindy," as anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan recently qualified to run as an independent against U. S. House speaker Nancy "San Fran Nan" Pelosi (who is evidently too conservative for Comrade Sheehan).

Sheehan has been endorsed in the U. S. House race by the Green Party and the Peace and Freedom Party. She will likely out-poll the Republican nominee, since no GOP candidate has gotten more than 18 percent against the Democrat Pelosi. A Libertarian candidate is also running.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

ACLU Challenges "Sore Loser" Law

The Atheist and Criminal Liberties Union, which occasionally gets one right, has brought a federal lawsuit against South Carolina's "sore loser" law.

Most state "sore loser" laws prohibit a candidate who loses a party nomination from then running in the general election as an independent. One state that does not have such a law is Connecticut, where U. S. senator Joe Lieberman was able to win re-election as an independent in 2006 after losing the Democratic primary.

Prior to the 1980s, Mississippi had a September deadline for independent candidates to qualify. In 1974, civil rights activist James Meredith attempted to re-qualify as an independent after running in the Democratic primary for the U. S. House. The state Supreme Court, however, put the quietus on that.

South Carolina is one of four states that allows a candidate to seek the nomination of more than one party (this is called "fusion"). The state's "sore loser" law, as interpreted by the election commission, says that, when someone does run for more than one party's nomination, he must win each one in order to be on the general election ballot. The ACLU is representing Eugene Platt, a candidate for the state House of Representatives. Platt won the nominations of the Green and Working Families parties but barely lost the Democratic primary, so the state election commission said that he cannot run in the general election.

This is one of those rare times that I agree with the ACLU. This is the first case of its kind, and it sounds like a no-brainer to me. The state is prohibiting political parties from having the candidate of their choice on the November ballot.

I have long been fascinated by the way that New York does fusion. Each qualified party has a line on the ballot, and every candidate is listed under each party whose nomination he received (U. S. senator Al D'Amato, for example, usually had three ballot lines-- Republican, Conservative, and Right To Life). When a candidate has multiple ballot lines, the voter may vote for him on any one of the lines, and the candidate's total vote is the total of all of his ballot lines.

When New York mayor John Lindsay ran for a second term in 1969, he lost the Republican primary. Since he had won the Liberal Party's nomination, however, he was re-elected that November with less than 50 percent of the vote.

Close U. S. House Race In Tennessee

First-term congressman David Davis apparently lost Thursday's Tennessee Republican primary by 500 votes out of more than 51,000 cast. Mountainous east Tennessee has been a Republican stronghold since before the Civil War; in fact, since the 1930s, the winner of every Republican primary for the U. S. House there has also won the general election.

Davis said that absentee ballots that had not yet been delivered might put him over the top. An election official, however, indicated that such ballots must have arrived by primary day in order to be counted.

Also, according to The Greeneville Sun, "... Davis said... that a Tennessee law exists which states that if a person consistently votes in one party's primary elections, and then switches to another party's primary, 'that vote can be challenged.'

"Davis added that he is aware of 'anecdotal evidence that Democrats switched over in several counties' in Thursday's election..."

This sounds similar to a Mississippi law which was enacted in 1987, and which has almost never been invoked. This law says that anyone voting in a party primary must support all of that party's nominees in the general election. Since it's a secret ballot, that provision, of course, is unenforceable.

"[Brook Thompson, state coordinator of elections] stated, 'The process is to challenge them at the polls on election day.'

"An election-day challenge would involve poll-watchers who, based on their own knowledge, could challenge someone who has always voted in one party's primary when that person suddenly seeks to vote in the other party's primary.

"'It doesn't happen very often at all,' Thompson said. 'That's the law I'm sure he's referring to.'"

"The state coordinator said the law allows for challenges on election day, but not afterward, adding, 'I don't know of any election that has been challenged after the fact based on that law.'"

Rep. Davis doesn't seem to be leaning toward asking for a recount.

Not only does Tennessee not register voters by party, but it also does not have runoff (or second) primaries. In 2006, Davis won the Republican primary over 12 opponents with 22 percent of the vote.

The Hill has an article on Thursday's Republican primary for the U. S. House.

Friday, August 08, 2008

"Open Primaries" for Local Offices

Tennessee held its party primaries for state and federal offices (other than president) yesterday. To my knowledge, it's the only state that has primaries on Thursdays.

Shelby County-- of which Memphis is the seat-- also held its general election yesterday for certain county offices. I had known that Memphis had nonpartisan municipal elections, popularly called "open primaries" in Mississippi: there are no party primaries, and all candidates are listed on the same ballot.

But the elections for county offices in Shelby County are apparently also nonpartisan. Since the general election for those offices was held yesterday, the first round obviously occurred at an earlier date and narrowed the choices to two candidates per office. According to the Memphis Daily News:

"Polling places in Shelby County will be open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for state and federal primaries and county general elections.

"Also, voters will decide the fate of two sets of amendments to the Shelby County charter, and will vote yes or no to retain seven state appeals court judges. The county general election ballot features races for assessor, trustee, General Sessions Court clerk and Criminal Court judge Division 6."

Interesting that Tennessee has retention votes for state judges. This likely means that the judges first gained office through appointment.

I'm going to find out whether all counties in Tennessee have nonpartisan elections ("open primaries") for their county officials, or whether that's decided on a local-option basis.

Tennessee, incidentally, does not have party runoff (or second) primaries (Ray Blanton won the 1974 Democratic primary for governor with 22.7% of the vote, and Bill Frist won the 1994 Republican primary for U. S. senator with 44.4%).

Click here to see my proposal for greater choice for Mississippi voters.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Obamanation Leads the Racism Party

"... Barack Obama never defended Congressman [Stephen] Cohen from the black racists and anti-Semites of Memphis."

by Lowell Ponte

“I am not a racist,” snapped former President Bill Clinton angrily days ago on ABC-TV, sounding remarkably like another president with whom he has often been compared, Richard Nixon, remembered for saying with equal honesty, “I am not a crook.”

If by “racist” one means those who believe that certain groups of people are inherently superior to others of a different dermal hue, then most would agree that Bill Clinton is not a racist.

But if by “racist” one means those who politically grant certain groups a social position of privilege or superiority over others solely because of skin color, then many Democrats are among the most racist people who have ever lived.

The Democratic Party, we must never forget, is historically the party of slave owners.

Today the skin colors Democrats favor have changed from white to black and brown, but the party’s cynical never-ending political game of divide-and-conquer, polarizing people into artificial racial groups and pitting them against one another to win elections, remains unchanged.

Can Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, son of an African father and a politically radical white mother from Kansas as the presumptive Democratic presidential standard-bearer, lift America to an era of post-racial politics?

The chances of this happening, as early Obama enthusiasts hoped, now seem to be evaporating as fast as his standing in public opinion polls.

Critics of racial preferences usually argue that liberal “reverse racism,” intended as a kind of reparation for... Read more>>>

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Latest On Washington's "Top Two"

This is the first year that Washington state will use a Louisiana-style "top two" system to elect its state and congressional officials, and the first round is set for August 19 (this system is popularly called the "open primary" in Louisiana and Mississippi: all candidates, including independents, are listed on a single ballot, and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the runoff). The "top two," however, is facing continuing litigation brought by three of Washington's political parties. According to Ballot Access News:

"The 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals has now received briefs from all sides in the ongoing lawsuit over the “top-two” election system. The Democratic Party of Washington, the Republican Party of Washington, the Libertarian Party of Washington, the Secretary of State, and the Grange have all expressed themselves. No one expects the 9th Circuit to stop the Washington state primary, which is set to be held in two weeks. Probably a decision will be in 2009."

The 9th Circuit's ruling, to be sure, may be appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS). When the SCOTUS gave the go-ahead to the "top two" last March, it left the door open for an "as-applied" challenge following Washington's first use of the system.

Backers and opponents of Oregon's "open primary" initiative, which will appear on the Beaver State's November 4 ballot, are closely watching the Washington state litigation.

Louisiana has used the "open primary" for its state and local elections since 1975, and I continue to be amazed that the courts considering the Washington "top two" have not been presented with evidence as to how it has worked in the Bayou State.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Don't Know English? No Problem!

Did you know that, under the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act, parts of nine Mississippi counties have been required to furnish ballots in the Choctaw language?

I was reminded of this when I came across this story about a federal judge ordering language assistance for Alaskan Natives whose language is Yup'ik:

"The ruling requires the state to provide language assistance, including trained poll workers who are bilingual in English and Yup'ik. Sample ballots will have to be written in Yup'ik. A glossary of election terms also written in Yup'ik will have to be provided."

How did Alaska come under the Voting Rights Act in the first place?

When the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson was drafting the bill, it was decided that any jurisdiction would be covered (1) which had a literacy test for voter registrants and (2) where less than 50 percent of the eligible voters had participated in the November 1964 election. The administration's trigger sprang on Alaska, not because of racial discrimination but due to cold weather and geographical isolation.

In November 1974, in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, the Democrats added considerably to their majorities in both houses of Congress. In 1975, that Congress added Section 203-- "language assistance"-- to the Voting Rights Act, and that section now applies to parts of some 31 states. American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Asian Americans, and Latino Americans are covered.

The Democrats evidently figured that citizens who were not proficient in English would vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

The city of Los Angeles alone has to provide ballots in six or seven different languages. Imagine the additional expense!

The Mississippi counties that are "active" for the Choctaw ballots are Jones, Kemper, Leake, Neshoba, Newton, and Winston. Attala, Jackson, and Scott counties are "nonactive."

It's incredible that, despite living here all their lives, certain people cannot comprehend English well enough to read a ballot written in English. Perhaps the Choctaws need to take some of their casino profits and set up remedial English classes.

The government furnishing ballots in languages other than English, to be sure, lessens the incentive for those people to learn English.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Obamanation's Bloopers

Barry is definitely not ready for 'Final Jeopardy.'

Here is a funny audio montage of the Big B. O.'s bloopers.

I note, incidentally, that Jerome Corsi has a new book out on the junior senator entitled The Obama Nation.