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

Free Citizen

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

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Sudden Death of Tim Russert

by William Campbell Douglass II, M. D.

You won't hear me say this often about anyone in mainstream media, but Tim Russert, NBC newsman and anchor of Meet the Press, was someone I respected. I took great joy in watching politicians squirm under his tough questioning. So, like most Americans, I was sad to hear the tragic news of his sudden death. After all, Russert was just 58 years old - relatively young by today's standards.

According to his doctors, he had diabetes, heart disease, and he was overweight. Yet without fail, every time I hear a news story or read an article on his death, the commentators express their surprise that something like this could happen to someone who was on blood pressure pills and cholesterol drugs, who exercised routinely (in fact, he worked out on the treadmill the morning he died), and who was on a diet. He'd even recently passed a stress test.

I wish I could say I was shocked by this news. Unfortunately, stories like this one only highlight what I've been telling you all along: Blood pressure doesn't cause heart disease, high cholesterol drugs aren't cure-alls, and exercise can do more harm than good. In short, none of the steps Russert's doctors told him to take to address his health concerns were doing a darn bit of good (bold added).

Instead, if someone had told him to focus on keeping his homocysteine levels low and his magnesium levels high, we might not be having this conversation in the first place. Homocysteine makes cholesterol stick to your artery walls and can also contribute to the hardening of your arteries. It's simple to control your cholesterol levels by loading up on B vitamins, like B6, B12 and folate (bold added).

Magnesium also has vital heart-healthy benefits.

"Statins don't protect against heart attacks. And [Russert] didn't know that the lack of one nutrient could have cost him his life," said acclaimed neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock[1]. "The number-one cause of sudden cardiac death is magnesium deficiency. Cardiac patients and those with diabetes have the lowest magnesium levels of all" (bold added).

I've written... before about the many benefits of magnesium. This mineral prevents blood clots, dilates blood vessels, and can also stop the development of dangerous heart irregularities. It's why I've been such a long-time advocate of increasing magnesium intake for its heart-health benefits - not to mention what it does for your bones and bodily tissues. I've even used magnesium in emergency medicine to help limit brain damage in stroke victims. And yet more than half of Americans have a magnesium deficiency.

"People who are deficient in magnesium are most likely to have sudden cardiac arrest, and when they do arrest, they are harder to resuscitate," Blaylock says. "Many simply can't be resuscitated" (bold added).

Dr. Samuel Belkin, surgeon in chief of New York's Montefiore Medical Center, did a good job of summing up just why the death of the beloved newsman has so shaken both Americans in general and doctors in particular: "It makes us all feel mortal, and it also highlights the natural history of this silent killer and our limited ability to catch this killer before it strikes."


[1] Dr. Blaylock previously served as Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and is currently a visiting professor of biology at Belhaven College. Both institutions are located in Jackson, Mississippi.

Bob Barr Calls Dubya Worse Than Slick Willie

Here's an interesting video of a recent brief interview of Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee.

Barr exhibits his tremendous self-discipline by maintaining his train of thought while seated face-to-face with Lindsay Campbell.

Barr says, among other things, that George W. Bush is a worse president than Bill Clinton was. As a Georgia congressman, to be sure, Barr was an early advocate of impeaching Clinton; in fact, he introduced an impeachment resolution in the House well before the idea was seriously considered.

I don't know where Campbell got the notion that Barr ran for president in 1992. That was the year that he narrowly lost Georgia's Republican primary for U. S. senator to the late Paul Coverdell, who proceeded to unseat the Democratic incumbent, Wyche Fowler.

Recent polling suggests that Barr could win enough votes in Georgia to cause Sen. John McCain to lose the Peach State to Comrade Obamanation.

Other posts on Barr and the Libertarian Party are here, here, here, here, and here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

New Suit Against Indiana Photo Voter ID Law

On April 28, the U. S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) upheld Indiana's strictest-in-the-nation photo voter identification law. That case was decided on a facial challenge under the U. S. Constitution, but the high court left the door open for as-applied challenges in federal courts as well as challenges under state constitutions.

Now the League of Women Voters of Indiana has filed a state constitutional lawsuit against the photo voter ID law. The league argues that the legislature erred in enacting the measure by statute, rather than through a constitutional amendment. One of the lawyers for the league says that the SCOTUS's ruling will have little effect in this case. The suit cites two specific examples in which it claims that citizens were prevented from voting under the photo voter ID law, which was passed in 2005.

It's worth noting that the Missouri Supreme Court recently nullified the Show-Me State's voter ID law in a similar state constitutional case.

In Rhode Island, Gov. Don Carcieri, a Republican, has proposed photo voter ID, and the state ACLU has criticized the proposal (surprise, surprise).

Thanks to Election Law Blog.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Alaskan Independence Party

The ultimate goal of the Alaskan Independence Party is an election in which the voters would choose among four alternatives for Alaska's status. In 1990, the party elected a governor, Walter Hickel, who was a former Republican governor and interior secretary in the Nixon administration. Three candidates sought the AIP nomination for governor in 2006.

Gov. Sarah Palin, who has been mentioned as a possible 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate, addressed the AIP's last state convention. The AIP's candidate for president this year is Chuck Baldwin, the nominee of the Constitution Party.

The AIP lists all of its candidates on the same primary ballot with the Democrats and another minor party. That primary is open to any voter, and each voter may thus cross party lines from office to office.

As Ballot Access News notes, the AIP in 2006 filed a federal lawsuit, seeking to compel the state to recognize a party rule giving the state committee the right to decide whether a candidate may run under the AIP label in either the primary or the general election. Thus, the party would even be able to reject a candidate who had won the AIP primary.

This is a notable case, given that the federal courts have been moving toward greater autonomy for political parties since the 1970s. As BAN says, "Federal and state courts in Alabama, Georgia, and Hawaii have upheld the right of parties to exclude candidates from their primaries on the basis of the clash between the party’s platform and the candidate’s principles. The U.S. Supreme Court has issued decisions which imply that parties do have a right to exclude candidates from their own primaries, but has never squarely decided the issue."

Alaska-- unlike Alabama, Georgia, and Hawaii-- registers voters by party. To me, it would seem strange for a party to prevent one of its registered members from seeking the party's nomination. And the voters would not take kindly to a party rejecting and/or replacing a candidate who had won that party's primary.

Additionally, the AIP voluntarily participates in the blanket primary with the two other parties. This makes it possible for non-members to out-vote AIP members in choosing an AIP nominee. Since the party doesn't seem to care about that possibility, it's odd that it nonetheless wants to be able to say who can run under the AIP's banner in both primaries and general elections.

It sounds like the suit is aimed almost totally at Daniel DeNardo, who has sued the AIP for $10,000,000. Last year the U. S. district court ruled against the party, and the AIP has appealed to the 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is expected to hear the case in August 2008.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The "Spitfire From The Tundra"

In 2006, Sarah Palin knocked off the incumbent governor-- and former longtime U. S. senator-- in the Republican primary. She then proceeded to shellack a former Democratic governor in the general election.

The article below notes that the governor returned to work three days after the birth of her fifth child. As mayor, she was back on the job the day after she delivered her fourth child, and, in fact, took the baby to the office with her.

I continue to be amazed that she has the same last name as her husband.

Here's a video on Gov. Palin. Previous posts on her are here and here. ~~ SR


by Justin Quinn

OK, I'll admit it. I'm a convert.

Three weeks ago, I had no idea who Sarah Palin was or what she was about.

Then, I started researching running-mate possibilities for presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, and noticed a grassroots effort to get the Alaska governor on the ballot. Her name seemed to be everywhere, and I started to wonder if it was a horrible trick, dreamed up by some lovestruck, basement-dwelling teenager with raging hormones and a vivid imagination.

The more I learned, the more I was amazed by this spitfire from the tundra. I checked with a friend who works on The Hill in DC, and sure enough, she was everything the Internet machine said she was and then some. My friend called Palin the GOP's "secret weapon," and said she's got the presence, the substance and the panache to change the election for McCain ... if only he'd consider her.

"Look her up," my friend told me. "You won't believe it. Call me when you do."

So, two weeks ago, I called her office and spoke with her press secretary, Sharon Leighow, who downplayed the "Draft Sarah Palin" campaign, saying the good governor has a "full plate" right now and, although she is flattered and humbled by all the attention, "Sen. McCain's campaign has not contacted our office."

As deflating as this news would appear to be to the Palinites of the world (and, indeed, she does seem to have a global appeal), I later discovered that one of the bigger items on her plate was the recent birth of her son Trig, who was diagnosed with... Read more>>>

Gingrich: Gov. Jindal For Vice President

by Klaus Marre | The Hill | June 15, 2008

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said Sunday that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal “would be far and away the best candidate” to appear on the Republican presidential ticket with Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).

Gingrich, who appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” heaped praise upon the former congressman, saying that he is a “spectacular” governor and predicted that Jindal [GIN-dle] would be a presidential candidate in the future.

However, Jindal, who also was a guest on the show, said that he already holds the job he wants.

“I’m certainly supporting Sen. McCain, will do whatever I can to help him get elected, but I’m focused on being governor of Louisiana,” Jindal stated.

Asked whether it could be a problem that the governor, who is 37, might be perceived as not ready to lead the country in case he would have to replace McCain, Gingrich said the case can be made that Jindal’s “experience in the executive branch and in the legislative branch is greater than” that of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.).

“It strikes me that it’s going to be very hard for Obama’s campaign to explain that... Read more>>>

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Take Away Comrade Obamanation's Teleprompter...

... and he's even less articulate than President George W. Bush, if you can believe that.

In this video of the junior senator's town hall meeting in Virginia, he attempts to tell the puzzled audience how the federal government will provide "affordable health care" (just as the feds now furnish affordable postage stamps, obviously).

"Inhalator" is from the same lexicon as "strategery."

It's understandable that Barack H. would be sleep-deprived. After all, he's campaigned in 57 states, or so he has claimed. He also said that a Kansas tornado had killed 10,000 people, when the actual number was 12.

After viewing this video, one can easily appreciate why the Messiah is reluctant to participate in joint town hall meetings with Senator McCain.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Truth About Gas Prices

"When Shell Oil president John Hofmeister recently appeared on Glenn Beck’s show [on CNN2], he pointed out that Shell’s profit margin, at about 7½ percent, is well in line with the profit margins of most industries. Hey, since Google’s profit margin is more than three times Shell’s, why not slap Google with an excess profits tax?"

by Robert Ringer

“Pain at the pump” has become the favorite catchphrase for media folks. It’s a cute little saying, but, speaking as an apparent minority of one, I’ve never quite been able to figure out why people pick on gas. After all, isn’t it just as painful to pay $250,000 for a house that used to cost $8,000? Or $30,000 for a car that once cost $3,000? And look what’s been happening to the price of the most basic foods (e.g., milk, bread, eggs).

The fact is, everything in life is relative. Relative to what Americans have been used to paying for gas, $4.00 a gallon sounds like a lot. But relative to what countries such as the UK, France, and the Netherlands pay — $6-$10/gallon — Americans have it made.

Contrary to what politicians would like us to believe, the main factors driving up gas prices are:

1. Supply. So long as “environmentalists” have their way, our lack of domestic supply assures that gas prices will continue to rise.

2. Demand. The emergence of China and India as economic superpowers assures continual upward pressure on energy prices.

3. Currency devaluation. And, above all, it will take more and more of the rapidly devaluing U.S. dollar to pay for less and less foreign oil.

Of course, there are other factors that play into the equation as well (such as the 18.4¢ per gallon federal excise tax [plus the 18.8 cents per gallon Mississippi excise tax]), but the three I’ve listed above are the main causes of “high” gas prices — and that’s not about to change anytime soon. In fact, political realities virtually guarantee that gasoline prices will continue to rise.

But the single biggest cause of future increases in gas prices is likely to be the confiscation of oil company profits, euphemistically referred to as “excess [or windfall] profits tax.” This will cause... Read more>>>

Friday, June 13, 2008

Run, Jesse, Run!

UPDATE-- 6/17/08: Here's an article on Jesse Ventura and recent Minnesota political history.

A momentous golf match took place in Minnesota on Wednesday. The competitors were former Gov. Jesse Ventura and Dean Barkley, the former interim U. S. senator from Minnesota. The agreement was that the winner of the golf contest would NOT run as an Independence Party candidate for U. S. senator.

Barkley won.

After Sen. Paul Wellstone was killed in an airplane crash during his 2002 campaign for re-election, former Vice President Walter Mondale was chosen to replace him as the Democratic-Farmer-Labor nominee. A few minutes into Mondale's televised debate with the Republican Norm Coleman, Gov. Ventura held an impromptu press conference to present Barkley as Wellstone's interim successor. Seems Ventura had phoned Barkley with the news of his appointment only shortly before the press conference.

Since his service in the Senate, Barkley has enhanced his resume by managing Richard "Kinky" Friedman's 2006 independent campaign for governor of Texas ("How Hard Could It Be?"). The other independent candidate in that race was state comptroller Carolyn Keeton Rylander Strayhorn, the mother of Scott "Judas" McClellan, former press secretary to President George W. Bush. When asked why Strayhorn got more signatures on her nominating petitions than he had on his, Friedman said that she had gotten all of her ex-husbands to sign for her.

Besides his winning the golf match, another factor rules Barkley out of the Minnesota Senate race. A lawyer by profession, Barkley has just been named CEO of the bus company for which he has recently been a driver. If Ventura runs, however, Barkley says that he will still have time to manage his campaign.

"He's easy to manage, because he doesn't listen anyhow," Barkley said. The former senator says he believes Ventura will run if he thinks he has a real chance of winning. In addition to the Republican incumbent, Norm Coleman, Stuart Smalley (a.k.a. Al Franken), failed talk-show host, tax dodger, and alleged comedian, is running as the endorsed Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate.

Barkley predicts that Ventura won't decide until 4 p.m. on July 15, the filing deadline.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Preambles to the 50 State Constitutions

Alabama 1901, Preamble We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution.

Alaska 1956, Preamble We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land.

Arizona 1911, Preamble We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...

Arkansas 1874, Preamble We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government...

California 1879, Preamble We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom...

Colorado 1876, Preamble We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe...

Connecticut 1818, Preamble The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy.

Delaware 1897, Preamble Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences.

Florida 1885, Preamble We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty, establish this Constitution...

Georgia 1777, Preamble We, the people of Georgia, relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution...

Hawaii 1959, Preamble We, the people of Hawaii, grateful for Divine Guidance ... establish this Constitution.

Idaho 1889, Preamble We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings.

Illinois 1870, Preamble We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil , political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

Indiana 1851, Preamble We, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to choose our form of government.

Iowa 1857, Preamble We, the People of the State of Iowa, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings, establish this Constitution.

Kansas 1859, Preamble We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges, establish this Constitution.

Kentucky 1891, Preamble We, the people of the Commonwealth are grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties...

Louisiana 1921, Preamble We, the people of the State of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy.

Maine 1820, Preamble We, the People of Maine acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity... And imploring His aid and direction...

Maryland 1776, Preamble We, the people of the state of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty...

Massachusetts 1780, Preamble We... the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe... In the course of His Providence, an opportunity and devoutly imploring His direction...

Michigan 1908, Preamble We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom, establish this Constitution.

Minnesota, 1857, Preamble We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings...

Mississippi 1890, Preamble We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work...

Missouri 1845, Preamble We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness... establish this Constitution...

Montana 1889, Preamble We, the people of Montana, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty, establish this Constitution.

Nebraska 1875, Preamble We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom... establish this Constitution.

Nevada 1864, Preamble We, the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, establish this Constitution...

New Hampshire 1792, Part I, Art. I, Sec. V Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

New Jersey 1844, Preamble We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors...

New Mexico 1911, Preamble We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty...

New York 1846, Preamble We, the people of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings...

North Carolina 1868, Preamble We, the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those...

North Dakota 1889, Preamble We, the people of North Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain...

Ohio 1852, Preamble We, the people of the state of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common...

Oklahoma 1907, Preamble Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty, establish this...

Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, Article I Section 2 All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences...

Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance...

Rhode Island 1842, Preamble We, the People of the State of Rhode Island, grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing...

South Carolina, 1778, Preamble We, the people of the State of South Carolina, grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

South Dakota 1889, Preamble We, the people of South Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties...

Tennessee 1796, Art. XI.III. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences...

Texas 1845, Preamble We, the People of the Republic of Texas, acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God...

Utah 1896, Preamble Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution.

Vermont 1777, Preamble Whereas all government ought to enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man...
Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator can be directed only by Reason and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other...

Washington 1889, Preamble We, the People of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution.

West Virginia 1872, Preamble Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia, reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God ...

Wisconsin 1848, Preamble We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility...

Wyoming 1890, Preamble We, the people of the State of Wyoming, grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties, establish this Constitution...

After reviewing acknowledgments of God from all 50 state constitutions, one is faced with the prospect that maybe the ACLU (the Atheist and Criminal Liberties Union) and the out-of-control federal courts are wrong about God's role in American history.

(Please note that in no instance are citizens told that they MUST worship God.)

"Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants."-- William Penn

Bashing Sen. Webb To Beat McCain

"McCain, too, has roots that reach back into the Confederacy, to his great-grandfather’s 2,000 acre plantation in Carroll County, Miss., and the 52 slaves he owned.

"One of those slaves who took her owner’s family name, Mary J. McCain, was freed after the War Between the States and became the mother of famed blues guitarist 'Mississippi' John Hurt."

by Lowell Ponte

This week the liberal press began a furious attack on one of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s most likely vice-presidential picks, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb.

“Jim Webb would make an awful running mate,” snarled Timothy Noah in the Washington Post webzine Slate.

Webb has “rebel roots,” barked Politico’s David Mark, and “an affinity for Confederacy.”

But truth be told, Webb could be Obama’s best choice to balance the Democratic ticket.

Obama is widely seen as weak on national defense, and as too far left, with a voting record the impartial National Journal called the “most liberal” in the U.S. Senate.

Webb is a decorated Vietnam Marine combat veteran who served for four years in Republican Ronald Reagan’s administration as first assistant secretary of Defense and then secretary of the Navy.

Obama has little support among blue collar white voters, as rival Sen. Hillary Clinton demonstrated by beating him in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

Missouri-born Webb, who calls himself a “redneck,” not only is proud of his Appalachian heritage but also wrote a 2004 book titled "Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America."

Webb, now a senator from the Virginia heart of the Confederacy, has defended the “gallantry” of those Johnny Rebs who fought not for slavery... Read more>>>

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The 5th Circuit's Open Primary Ruling

The Hattiesburg American has imported an article from the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, "Mississippians want options at the polls." This piece is about the 5th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversing, on May 28, the U. S. district court's ruling in the Mississippi Democratic Party's challenge of our open primary[1] law.

"U.S. District Judge Allen Pepper's 2007 ruling came in response to a lawsuit initiated by some members of the state Democratic Executive Committee who wanted to keep Republicans from voting in Democratic primaries. In response, Pepper ordered Mississippi to require re-registration of all voters as Republican, Democrat or unaffiliated. The parties would then have been free to decide which registered categories of voters got to participate in their primaries."

"Some members"? It had to be a majority of the executive committee-- the party's governing body-- for the lawsuit to be authorized.

The crucial feature of Pepper's ruling was his declaration that our current primary election law is unconstitutional. The absence of that law would be what would enable each party to determine which voters could participate in its primaries. The Democrats said that they would block Republicans but invite independents to vote in Democratic primaries. The Republicans, in contrast, said that they intended to keep GOP primaries open to all voters.

Party registration is not the straitjacket that many people seem to fear it is. It's merely a way of identifying the voters' party preferences. If the law's unconstitutionality had been upheld, however, Republicans would be the only voters who would need to be identified-- since they would be restricted to GOP primaries-- and that could be accomplished without party registration (Louisiana, incidentally, has registered voters by party since 1916).

"The unintended - and unwelcome - consequence for the Democratic plaintiffs was a concurrent requirement that voters produce identification at the polls.

"No political factions liked the decision, which had the potential to produce a dramatic overhaul of Mississippi politics."

Judge Pepper erred in injecting voter ID into this case, since that is not necessary for the parties to identify the voters that they wish to allow into their primaries. Besides, even if the law's unconstitutionality had been upheld, the orders for voter ID and party registration would very likely have been overturned, since those two items are in the legislature's province.

The main change would have been that Republicans would be limited to voting in GOP primaries, hardly a "dramatic overhaul."

"Mississippians clearly want the option to vote in any primary they wish. If anything, they want an even more open system like Louisiana's, where all the candidates are on the same ballot, regardless of party."

We'll continue with our present primary system for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, I have proposed a plan which would give Mississippi voters greater choice.

"Pepper had given the Legislature until Aug. 31 of this year to come up with a proposed plan of implementation for his ruling. Now that pressure is off."

That pressure was in fact removed last December, when the 5th Circuit set aside Pepper's deadline by staying his ruling.

The 5th Circuit reversed Pepper's decision because the case was not ripe. Near the end of her opinion, Chief Judge Edith H. Jones wrote, "Further factual development... would enhance this case's fitness for judicial review."

If the Mississippi Democratic Party decides, at some point in the future, to further pursue this matter, it will need to (1) adopt a party rule excluding Republicans from Democratic primaries, (2) submit that rule to the U. S. Department of Justice for preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and (3) file a new lawsuit in U. S. district court.

The Associated Press also had an article on the 5th Circuit's ruling.


[1] When a party has an open primary, any voter may participate in that primary. The law which the Mississippi Democratic Party challenged mandates that each party's primary be conducted as an open primary.

I Only Regret the Ignorance of History

We keep being reminded that little or no history is taught in American schools today. This was brought home to me again yesterday, when I watched an episode of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?", hosted by the lovely and gracious Meredith Vieira.

The $2000 question for one contestant was what American was hanged as a spy during the Revolutionary War. Three of the choices were Patrick Henry, Nathan Hale, and Ethan Allen; I forget the fourth. The young woman-- incredibly, to me-- did not know the answer, so she first polled the New York studio audience. 49 percent said it was Nathan Hale, and 36 percent said Patrick Henry, evidently recalling the latter's "Give me liberty or give me death!" speech. She then used a second "lifeline" to narrow the choices to two, and-- you guessed it-- the choices were Nathan Hale and Patrick Henry. Finally, she used her "phone-a-friend" lifeline, and her friend, given the two names, guessed that it was Nathan Hale. So, having burned three lifelines, she wound up correctly guessing Nathan Hale.

Of course, this example is not nearly as bad as some of those on the "Jaywalking" segments that Jay Leno does on the "Tonight" show. Leno cleverly uses humor to demonstrate the widespread ignorance of American history and government, especially among young people.

I was about 10 years old when I first heard the story of 21-year-old Nathan Hale, who, just before he was hanged by the British, said, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

You see, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and I was a student, American public schools did teach history.

Friday, June 06, 2008

An Exchange on the Mississippi Democrats' Open Primary Case

On May 28, the 5th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans reversed the district court's ruling in the Mississippi Democratic Party's suit challenging our open primary law, saying that the case was not ripe. Near the end of her opinion, Chief Judge Edith H. Jones wrote, "Further factual development... would enhance this case's fitness for judicial review." The court thus left the door open for the Democrats to pursue the matter more. The party will hold its convention tomorrow, June 7, when some members of the state executive committee will be elected. On July 12, the executive committee will elect the new state chairman, likely to be former state Rep. Jamie Franks, the 2007 nominee for lieutenant governor. We should then have some idea as to what the party's next move, if any, will be vis-a-vis this case.

Below are excerpts from an exchange that I had at FOLO about this and related issues. The commenter "Researcher" identifies himself as a former executive director of the Mississippi Democratic Party.

Steve: The ruling is a setback for the Mississippi Democrats in that the law forcing them to let non-members vote in Democratic primaries still stands.

After Judge Pepper erroneously ordered voter ID– which has no place in this case– Gov. Barbour tried to persuade the 5th Circuit to uphold the order for voter ID. The fact that Pepper was reversed was a setback for Barbour.

No court can order a state to have closed primaries, and the legislature cannot force the parties to conduct closed primaries...

[... .]

Researcher: This is not about Republicans voting in Democratic primaries. This is a fight between factions in the Democratic Party...

Steve: Well, the pro-lawsuit faction obviously won, since the suit was authorized by the state Democratic Executive Committee– the party’s governing body.

The Democrats have said that they will continue to welcome independents into Democratic primaries.

If the Democrats ultimately win the lawsuit, independents will continue to have their choice of either party’s primary, since the Republicans have said that they will keep their primaries open to ALL voters.

The only voters who would have less choice on primary day would be Republicans, who would be restricted to the Republican primary.

[... .]

Steve: [Researcher asks] “Would the current stated intention to allow independents to vote be binding on the state committee?”

... absent the current law, the executive committe would decide who could vote in the party’s primaries. Take California this year, for example. The Democrats invited independents into their February presidential primary, but the Republicans did not. In the June 3 primaries for other offices, however, independents will have their choice of either party’s primary.

[... .]

Steve: Our state’s primary election law, in my view, violates the associational rights of political parties. The state forces parties to let ANY voter participate in their primaries– their candidate selection process.

In California Democratic Party v. Jones, the main precedent for the Mississippi Democrats’ suit, the U. S. Supreme Court said that political parties have “... the freedom to identify the people who constitute the association, and to limit the association to those people only.”

How would you interpret that statement?

[... .]

If a party wants to open its primary to all voters, it may do so, but the state has no business forcing it to.

... If the suit had not been properly filed by the party, it would have been dismissed by the district court, as happened last year with the Idaho Republican Party.

The Idaho suit was re-filed last month– properly this time. If it’s any consolation, there’s also internal conflict in the Idaho GOP over that lawsuit.

[... .]

Steve: [... .]

[Researcher asked] "... why would the party not want to appeal to [non-members] and encourage them to vote in Democratic primaries?"

That’s the point– it should be up to the party, not the state. It’s not the proper role of the state to force parties to let non-members help choose their nominees.

In that New York case from last January, the U. S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) said, “A political party has a First Amendment right to limit its membership as it wishes and to choose a candidate-selection process that will in its view produce the nominee who best represents its political platform.”

Sooner or later, the SCOTUS will have the opportunity to hear a challenge of a state-mandated open primary, such as Mississippi now has. When it does, I believe that the high court will strike it down.

Here’s a very relevant column that George Will wrote shortly before the SCOTUS struck down California’s blanket primary in 2000.

[... .]

Steve: [... .]

What I have said on this thread is based on the trends in the federal courts, not my personal feelings. If I had my “druthers,” the only basic thing that would change would be the way that we elect our local (county and municipal) officials; I have proposed a plan for giving our voters greater choice.

[... .]

Steve: [... .]

[Researcher said] “Primaries are not party elections. They do not elect party officials.”

Project Vote Smart says a primary election is “an election prior to the general election in which voters select the candidates who will run on each party’s ticket. Primaries are also used to choose convention delegates and party leaders… .”

In many states, the parties’ precinct officers are chosen in the party primaries.

[Researcher:] “The states are doing the parties a favor by allowing them to nominate candidates for public office.”

Political parties have a First Amendment right to nominate candidates, but the state is not required to recognize those nominations. Almost every state (1) mandates that the parties nominate candidates, (2) specifies the method(s) for those nominations, at least one of which is the primary, and (3) limits the general election ballot to one candidate per party per office.

[... .]

Steve: [Researcher said] “The party does not pay for the primary. General taxpayers pay.”

In 1995, in [Republican Party v. Faulkner County, Arkansas] a federal appeals court said that, when the state requires parties to nominate by primary, the state must pay the costs of those primaries. If left to their own devices, the parties would be very unlikely to hold primaries, due to the expense. The state will therefore continue to mandate primaries, since the voters are accustomed to them.

[... .]

Steve: [... .]

... As for party registration, it’s no big deal either way. It’s certainly not the straitjacket that a lot of people seem to fear it is. It’s merely a way of identifying voters’ party preferences. If the Democrats succeed in their suit, the only voters who will need to be identified will be Republicans, and that can be done without party registration (Louisiana, incidentally, has had party registration since 1916).

[... .]

This complete post is here.

Voter ID Dispute

The U. S. Supreme Court recently upheld Indiana's law requiring photo voter ID at the polls, and the state held its party primaries on May 6. Here's a letter from the June 4 Readers' Forum of the Terre Haute News:

... . I have a little different twist on my experience at the polls May 6.

I arrived to vote with the most sacred identification card I’ve ever owned and was told I could not use it because it did not have a numbered expiration date on it. I tried to tell them I gave 21 years of my life earning the privilege of having this ID card and protecting their freedom to vote.

Their response was, “Do you have an Indiana drivers license?” Which I do but will not use to exercise my freedom to vote because my ID card, which I cherish very much, is the one the United States Uniformed Services issued me when I retired from the Armed Forces.

There is no numbered date entered on this kind of ID card. Just an entry of "indefinite."

You see, they have no idea when the person with this type of ID card will expire, and when he or she expires the card expires. I could not get this across to the folks at the precinct. I picked up my ID card and walked out.

While I was waiting outside for my wife to vote, a lady from the precinct come out with a paper and a picture on it to ask me if that picture was what my ID card looked like. It was exactly what my card looked like, and it was a legal ID source to vote with.

She begged me to come back in and vote. I was so upset I nearly turned her down, but my wife encouraged me to vote as I went back in and got my ballot to vote. I want to apologize to the folks at the precinct for causing the uproar, and I want to say I’m sorry to the sweet elderly lady that give me my ballot to vote, then leaned forward and whispered in my ear, “Thank you for coming back and voting.”

As I walked away from the table with my ballot a second lady still insisted I needed a numbered expiration date on my retiree ID card. Do they not retain any of the information they are given and remember the rules before they go to work in the precinct on election day? What a day! But it’s over.

— Russell Mendenhall
Rockville, Indiana

Note: And we can't even get the Mississippi House of Representatives to pass a bill requiring non-photo voter ID!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Carter Presidency: Not So Peachy

This is an excerpt from the comments on a post at FOLO, "The Wit and Wisdom of Edwin Edwards," referring to Louisiana's former four-term governor. In an earlier comment, I noted that Edwards had seen through Jimmy Carter from the get-go and had even endorsed California governor Jerry Brown for the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination. This elicited a defense and praise for Carter from another commenter. Here is my response:

The commenter asks: “So just what did [Edwards] see in peering through Carter?”

He definitely did NOT see a backbone. Charles Evers, then a Democrat, called Jimmuh “weak as water,” and he was right.

The reason Edwards endorsed Jerry Brown was probably the same reason I voted for President Gerald Ford that November: he was NOT Jimmy Carter.

If Nixon hadn’t screwed up, Jimmuh never would have been president. Carter went around the country in ‘76 moralizing and talking about being a born-again Christian (a lot of people forget that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson backed Jimmuh in ‘76). Of course, there wasn’t a peep from the mainstream media about “separation of church and state.”

How well I remember the gasoline lines of the Carter years– waiting in line for an hour and then being limited to buying 10 gallons.

Jimmuh invented the “misery index” to criticize Ford’s economic performance. Funny thing: the “misery index” was considerably worse during the Carter years. As I recall, inflation went to 14% and interest rates to 21%.

President Malaise wasn’t much of a delegator either. He personally scheduled the White House tennis courts. And he was petty: when he got mad at a member of Congress, he would bar that member’s constituents from White House tours.

Carter’s a good carpenter, and he’s been a pretty good ex-president– when he’s not supervising sham elections or brown-nosing terrorists.

When the Maximum Leader sought re-election in 1980, HE LOST 44 STATES. The only Southern state he carried was his native Georgia– and his opponent, to be sure, was a Californian.

You misread what I said about Edwin Edwards. He was a crook who should have gone to prison years earlier. And yet I found him interesting, funny, and flamboyant: he was a consummate politician who was elected governor four times.

The complete post is here.


Thought for the day: "If only the people who worry about their liabilities would think about the riches they do possess, they would stop worrying. Would you sell both your eyes for a million dollars. or your legs. or your hands. or your hearing? Add up what you do have, and you'll find that you won't sell them for all the gold in the world. The best things in life are yours, if you can appreciate yourself."

~~ Dale Carnegie (1888-1955)

Monday, June 02, 2008

What Would Will Rogers Say Today?

These are quotes from Will Rogers (1879-1935), American humorist, actor, and author:

~~ "The short memories of American voters is what keeps our politicians in office."

~~ "Wouldn't it be great if [other countries] started electing by the ballot instead of the bullet, and us electing by the ballot instead of the bullion?"

~~ "Take it all in all, I believe [Congress] ought to have their raise. We are a rich nation and our officials should be the best paid in the world. The principal bad feature is that it will make more men want to hold office, and once a man wants to hold office he is absolutely no good for honest work."

~~ "We have the best Congress money can buy."

~~ "I'm not a member of any organized political party. I'm a Democrat."

Voter ID And Closing Primaries

Last year, U. S. district judge Allen Pepper, in a lawsuit brought by the Mississippi Democratic Party, declared Mississippi's open primary[1] law unconstitutional. He went further and also ordered the state to enact voter ID and the registration of voters by party. Last week, the 5th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that the case was not ripe for review and reversed Pepper's decision.

Sidney Salter's June 1 column in The Clarion-Ledger was titled "Voter ID: The thing that won't go away." Unfortunately, much of the focus has been on the hot-button issue of voter ID, which Pepper erroneously injected into this case.

"U.S. District Judge Allen Pepper ruled Democratic and Republican primaries should be closed and that voters would re-register to vote and in doing so declare a party affiliation.

Sidney, as part of the media echo chamber, has been saying this at least since last year. As long as he-- or any other member of the echo chamber-- keeps claiming this, I'll keep rebutting it.

The Democrats want to be able to block Republicans from voting in Democratic primaries. Since the current law forces each party to open its primary to all registered voters, the party brought the suit against the law. The courts' proper role is to rule on the law's constitutionality, and Pepper said it is unconstitutional. He also, in my view, exceeded his authority by ordering voter ID and party registration, neither of which is necessary for a party to exclude voters from its primaries.

In a closed primary, only party members may vote. No court can order parties to have closed primaries, and neither can the state. If a party has a closed primary, it's because that party closed it.

"Pepper also ruled that the Legislature should enact a photo voter ID policy. Pepper's decision was in response to a state Democratic Party lawsuit against the Election Commission seeking to close primaries..."

Pepper's June 2007 ruling ordered photo voter ID, but his amended July 2007 order left out "photo" and merely said "voter ID." Again: only a party can close its primary. If the Democrats ultimately succeed in having our state-mandated open primaries invalidated, the party has said that it will continue to welcome independents into Democratic primaries. The state Republican Party, in contrast, has indicated that it will keep GOP primaries open to all registered voters. Thus, Republicans would be the only voters who would have less choice on primary day, as they would be restricted to GOP primaries.

"The Republicans have a firm hold on that reliable wedge issue that inflames crossover voters who don't understand why people would resist identifying themselves at the polling place - and for whom Ike Brown is still some kind of threat."

Ironically, Brown, chairman of the Democratic Party of Noxubee County in northeast Mississippi, has been quoted as saying that he favors voter ID (it's my understanding that Brown is no longer a member of the state Democratic Executive Committee).

The best way to dispose of the voter ID issue, in my view, would be to enact voter ID. The Legislative Black Caucus is against it, however, and just about anything that the LBC opposes is doomed to defeat.


[1] In an open primary, a party's ballot is available to any voter who requests it. The law which the Mississippi Democratic Party has challenged forces each party to conduct open primaries.