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Free Citizen

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

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pray for President Obama

A husband and wife were driving in slow-moving traffic recently, when they noticed a bumper sticker on the car in front of them. It read, "Pray for Obama. Psalm 109:8."

The woman's Bible was lying on the dashboard, so she got it, opened it up to the scripture and read it. She began laughing and laughing. Then she read the verse to her husband, who, incredulous, had a good laugh as well. Psalm 109:8 reads, "Let his days be few; and let another take his office."

If you want to voice a biblical prayer for our president, this one is perfect.

Now let us all bow our heads and pray.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Another Way to Screw the Taxpayer

At this posting, there are 23 comments on this piece.


by Todd Starnes | FOX News Radio

A Minnesota town is outraged over reports that an illegal immigrant was implanted with a penis pump – paid for by taxpayers.

Shakopee Police Chief Jeff Tate said the expense to taxpayers was more than $50,000.

“It’s shocking,” he told FOX News Radio. “It’s certainly disturbing as well. You know it’s not going to set well with the public at large.”

Scott County Attorney Pat Ciliberto wants to know how an illegal immigrant was able to obtain tens of thousands of dollars in medical assistance.

“There’s no logical argument for why that should have been approved,” Ciliberto told the Shakopee News. “I don’t know how many illegal aliens are getting emergency medical assistance for such a procedure.”

Ciliberto told county commissioners the cost of taking care of illegal immigrants in their community is skyrocketing.

“It should be obvious when Scott County goes from seven bookings in 2006 to... Read more>>>>

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How Great is Allah?

"Islam may remain an irritation to the West for centuries yet, but not a fundamental danger. The real danger is our own apostasy... which has already done so much more harm than Islam ever could."


by Joseph Sobran

DUNN LORING, VA —Robert R. Reilly’s The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis (ISI Books, May 2010) will, I am sure, fascinate other readers as it did me. I could hardly put it down until I’d read it twice.

Reilly (a dear friend of mine, by the way) contends that Islam suffers from a flawed metaphysic that deforms its theology. It rejects reason and exalts will. It has no room for natural law: Murder is not wrong by definition but only because Allah chooses to forbid it. If he’d decided to enjoin it, it would have become our duty.

Islam understands his omnipotence to mean that he is superior to reason itself (thus, if he said that two and two make five, so it would be). Allah’s will is the direct cause of everything; no need to look for secondary causes. No wonder, given this primitive conception of nature, Islam rejects Western science. Allah’s will accounts for everything that happens. The world continues to exist because he recreates it continuously from moment to moment. He could decide to annihilate it at any time.

One noted atheist, the Marxist Christopher Hitchens, ridicules the very conception of God as that of a “celestial dictator” — a Stalin in the sky, as it were. But Christians address God as “Our Father.” Far from being a cruel deity who inflicts suffering on his creatures, he is a God who chooses to suffer himself. This is why G.K. Chesterton remarked that Christianity is unique among religions in ascribing courage to God. The Creator became a creature. Why would the omnipotent, impassive Allah need courage? Nobody could nail HIM to a cross. To Muslims, the Christian concept of a triune, incarnate God, insulted, tortured, and murdered by his own creatures seems blasphemous.

The primal Muslim error about God’s nature has led, Reilly argues, to a deep stultification of Arab culture for roughly the last millennium. He cites Hilaire Belloc’s 1938 prediction that the Muslim world would once more surpass Christendom, if only it... Read more>>>>

Saturday, July 17, 2010

BlogNetNews: Requiem for an Aggregator

If you're a regular visitor to this site, you've probably spotted the little blue BlogNetNews banner in the upper left corner. It showed this blog's ranking in the state of Mississippi. In the last several years, I've ranked as high as number three; for the week ending July 10, I was number 16 (not too shabby, considering that I only had one post during that week).

Last Tuesday, I noticed that the little blue banner had disappeared and assumed that something was wrong on this end; I was also unable to log on to the BlogNetNews site. I haven't been online nearly as much this week as usual, and today I finally took the time to investigate and discovered that BNN is no more. Too bad, since it was a great source for keeping tabs on blogging in the Magnolia State-- and other states as well. It was also a motivator for me to post on this blog.

BNN would not divulge the standards for its rankings, since it obviously did not want bloggers to be able to game the system. I suspect that the number of hits was a big factor in the system; it clearly was not the quantity of posts, since I have made the top 20 in a number of weeks in which I only had one post. Now that BNN is history, I wish they would reveal their secrets, but I'm not holding my breath.

Here are some links to commentary on BlogNetNews's demise:

Obit for BlogNetNews

BlogNetNews, RIP?

Blog Net News


BlogNetNews Goes Dark

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Governor Hugh Lawson White

Jere Nash, the "Blue" half of Red/Blue, blogged about David Waide, the retiring president of the Mississippi Farm Bureau and possible candidate for governor in 2011.

"... history has not been kind to candidates outside public life winning campaigns for Governor. Since Hugh White was elected in 1935, only one other businessman has won the right to live in the Mansion, and that was, of course, Kirk Fordice. Heck, since White, Fordice has been the only non-lawyer to win the state's top job."

Hugh Lawson White, who grew up in Pike County, was indeed a businessman, but he was also mayor of Columbia. He got 51.7 percent of the vote in defeating Paul B. Johnson Sr. in the 1935 Democratic runoff for governor. In 1951, at age 70, White won 51.1 percent to beat 35-year-old Paul B. Johnson Jr. in the Democratic runoff. Those were the days, of course, when our elections were decided in the Democratic primary.

In 1940, White lost a race for U. S. senator to the incumbent, Theodore G. Bilbo, the rabid racist from Pearl River County. After Senator Bilbo died in 1947, White hoped that Governor Fielding Wright would appoint him to fill the vacancy. But Wright decided not to appoint anyone, and White did not run in the special election, which was won by circuit Judge John C. Stennis of Kemper County.

Ironically, White and Bilbo were the only two in the 20th century who served two non-consecutive terms as governor. Starting in 1987, governors were permitted to succeed themselves, and Kirk Fordice was elected in 1991 and re-elected in 1995. He was the first Republican to occupy the governor's mansion in more than a hundred years. The only other elective office that Fordice held was Warren County election commissioner.

In another bit of irony, in antebellum times, there was a U. S. senator and Whig presidential candidate from Tennessee who was also named Hugh Lawson White. Our Governor White's forebears came to Mississippi from Ireland by way of South Carolina. As far as I know, there is no connection between him and the Tennessee politician.

Governor White is remembered as the creator of the Balance Agriculture With Industry (B. A. W. I.) program. A large man, he was often seen in his later years riding about Jackson in his chauffeur-driven car.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Hankster on Proposition 14

My friend Nancy Hanks commented on my post from yesterday about California's passage of Proposition 14, a measure for a "top two open primary" for state and congressional elections. A former Arkansan who now lives in New York City, Nancy is a strong advocate for independent voters; she's also a local official in the Independence Party. She's part of the campaign to put a proposal for nonpartisan elections ("open primaries") on New York City's November 2010 ballot. Nancy acknowledges that nonpartisan elections would put her party out of business, since the final choice in the "open primary" is almost always one Democrat and one Republican, two Democrats, OR two Republicans.

Nancy says, "The OTHER selling point [for Proposition 14] was that 3.5 million independents (decline-to-state voters) will now be able to vote in the decisive first round of voting in California. Californians tried to implement open primaries in the past, and more than 2 million voted in favor of the referendum in a primary election."

For state and congressional offices, California independents already had their choice of either the Democratic or the Republican primary. That's a greater choice than was enjoyed by any party registrant, who was restricted to voting in his or her own party's primary.

I wouldn't call the first round of the "top two open primary" decisive, since its only purpose is to winnow the field to two candidates, both of whom may be from the same party (the fact that there is always a second round casts constitutional doubt on the "top two" in California and Washington state).

Why should the voters be limited to just two choices in that final round-- which is truly decisive?

In 1998 and 2000, California used the blanket primary, in which all candidates of all parties were listed on a single ballot; the top vote-getter from each party advanced to the general election. The U. S. Supreme Court in 2000 struck down the state-mandated blanket primary on the ground that it violated the political parties' associational rights (California Democratic Party v. Jones).

As long ago as 1915, 58.2 percent of California voters rejected a measure for a "top two open primary." Another such proposal, Proposition 62, was defeated in 2004, as it lost in 51 of the state's 58 counties.

Friday, July 02, 2010

The Golden State's "Open Primary"

From the July 1, 2010 edition of Ballot Access News:

On June 8, California voters passed Proposition 14 by 53.7% to 46.3%. It provides that the only two candidates who can be on the November ballot for Congress and partisan state office are the two candidates who poll the most votes in June. The implementing language also says that write-in votes in November for Congress and state office can no longer be counted.

Proposition 14 was put on the ballot by the state legislature in February 2009. Most legislators did not favor that system, but they voted for it in return for state Senator [now lieutenant governor] Abel Maldonado's vote for the budget.

All of the state's large newspapers, except the Orange County Register, endorsed Proposition 14. Some newspapers not only endorsed the measure, they printed untrue statements about it.

The campaign against Proposition 14 was outspent 20:1. The campaign for the measure raised [more than] $4.5 million and spent a great deal on radio ads. The campaign against the measure raised $216,000. The Democratic and Republican parties raised money and arranged for Internet ads against the measure, and also arranged for some slate cards to recommend a "No" vote. But the only TV and radio ads against the measure were created and paid for by the Libertarian, Green, and Peace & Freedom parties. [The group] Free & Equal created the leading Web page against Proposition 14, and it, as well as Californians for Electoral Reform, organized press conferences and protests against the measure.

The "top two" system was tried in Washington state for the first time in 2008 and resulted in a Democratic-Republican monopoly on the ballot for all congressional and all statewide state offices. In Louisiana, which has used the "top two" ["open primary"] for state office since 1975, no minor party candidate ever qualified for the second round. Louisiana also used "top two" for congressional elections, 1978-2006, and again, no minor party candidate ever qualified for the second round. However, because the Louisiana system for Congress held its first round in November for the years 1998-2006, the Louisiana system did not have the effect of keeping minor party congressional candidates out of the November election after 1996.

Proposition 14 lost among the voters who voted on June 8. But approximately half the voters voted by mail during the period May 10-June 7, and those voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 14. The mail vote count was released at 8 p. m. on election day, and it showed the measure passing with 60%. Therefore, it appears that voters who voted at the polls rejected it, 48%-52%.

The reason for this disparity is that the campaign against Proposition 14 did not swing into full gear until two weeks before election day. Voters who voted early did not hear any message against the measure.

The selling point for the proposition was that the state legislature has been late with the budget [which requires a two-thirds approval vote] every year for the past nine years. Proponents insisted that Proposition 14 will change the type of people elected to the legislature. This was a winning message, and the political science research suggesting that there is no connection between openness of a primary, and whether the legislature is polarized, was largely unpublicized.

Lawsuits against Proposition 14 will be filed, but because the constitutionality of the "top two" idea will undergo a trial in U. S. District Court in Washington state starting November 15, 2010, challenges to California's new law will probably not be filed until 2011. There may be limited lawsuits brought this year against some particular problems with Proposition 14 that are not present in the Washington state "top two" system.

Supremes Rule on Petition Privacy

Washington is one of the 25 states that permits citizens to use a referendum to veto an act of the legislature.


From the July 1, 2010 issue of Ballot Access News:

On June 24, the U. S. Supreme Court said that states are free to release the names and addresses of people who sign petitions, unless there is reason to believe that if the information is released, the signers will be harmed. Doe v. Reed, 09-559. The case is from Washington state.

The plantiffs signed a controversial referendum petition, and they don't wish to have their names and addresses made public. They sued to stop the state from releasing the information.

The referendum petition would have had the effect of suspending a 2009 law that set up procedures for same-sex couples to be treated by the state as though they were married.

The decision says that there is a state interest in releasing the data, because even though elections officials check petitions in Washington, they might make mistakes, and public exposition of the names might lead to the discovery of such mistakes in the petition-checking process. But, the decision says that if petition signers can show that they might be harassed, then they should file a new lawsuit and can stop the release of the information. In this particular case, the U. S. District Court will now hold a trial to see if the plaintiffs qualify for privacy.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote separately to say that the U. S. Constitution does not protect the secret ballot. None of the other justices expressed any opinion about that.

The decision may help other lawsuits that concern ballot access. [Chief Justice John] Roberts wrote that signing a petition to put something on the ballot is expressive activity. "Expressive activity" means that the activity is protected by the Free Speech part of the First Amendment. By contrast, a 1992 U. S. Supreme Court decision, Burdick v. Takushi, said that voting and (by implication) signing a petition are not expressive activity.

That language in Burdick v. Takushi has made it difficult to win ballot access lawsuits. Law Professor Rick Hasen, an election law expert, wrote on his... Election Law Blog that Doe v. Reed silently overrules Burdick v. Takushi on that point.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

California Dreaming

by Alan I. Abramowitz | Senior Columnist | Sabato's Crystal Ball

California voters recently approved a ballot [measure] that would drastically alter the Golden State’s election system. Instead of the traditional two-stage electoral process with separate Democratic and Republican primaries followed by a general election between the major party nominees along with any independent or third party candidates, the new system would feature an open primary in which all candidates would run together and the top two finishers regardless of party would face each other in the general election. Thus the general election could involve a Democrat and a Republican, two Democrats or two Republicans. Theoretically a third party or independent candidate could make it into the runoff, but that would be rather unlikely.

Backers of the “top two” primary system, including California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, argue that the reformed electoral process will encourage candidates to adopt more moderate positions in order to appeal to a broader primary electorate and that this will, in turn, make it easier to achieve bipartisan compromise and avoid the gridlock that has paralyzed the state in recent years.

But how realistic is the claim that the new primary system will reduce partisan polarization and gridlock? The assumption underlying this claim is that polarization is largely a product of the current election rules. Thus, according to reform advocates, by changing the rules you can reduce polarization and encourage bipartisan compromise. The fundamental problem with this belief, however, is that polarization is not an artificial by-product of California’s current election rules. It is a result of real divisions within the California electorate and changing the rules will do nothing to reduce those divisions.

The most important source of polarization in California politics is the ideological divide between supporters of the two major parties. ... . In both California and the nation, ideological polarization [has] increased considerably [since the 1970s], but it has always been greater in California. That’s because while California Republicans are as conservative as Republicans in the rest of the country, California Democrats are considerably more liberal than Democrats in the rest of the country.

The ideological divide between the two parties in California is exacerbated by the fact that supporters of each party are concentrated in different geographic regions of the state. The largest metropolitan areas of the state, Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area, are overwhelmingly Democratic while the few pockets of Republican strength are found in some of the outer suburban areas of southern California as well as small towns and rural sections of the state.

Contrary to popular belief, gerrymandering has had very little to do with the increase in one-party domination of California’s congressional and state legislative districts in recent years. California’s 58 counties, whose boundaries have not changed, have also exhibited a trend toward one-party domination. Thus, in the 1976 presidential election, the difference between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford was less than 10 percentage points in 45 of counties with two-thirds of the state’s voters and more than 20 points in only two counties with less than 10 percent of the state’s voters. In contrast, in the 2008 presidential election, the difference between Barack Obama and John McCain was less than 10 percentage points in only 12 counties with less than a quarter of the state’s voters and more than 20 points in 25 counties with more than half of the state’s voters.

The “top two” primary system is not going to change the realities of partisan polarization and one-party domination of large areas of California. Given the sharp ideological divide between Democratic and Republican voters, liberal Democrats will continue to dominate elections in Democratic regions of the state and conservative Republicans will continue to dominate elections in Republican regions of the state.

That’s exactly what has happened in the one state that has implemented a “top two” primary system. In Washington, which began using the new system in 2008, the electoral consequences were minimal. In all 9 of the state’s congressional districts the open primary produced a general election runoff between the Democratic or Republican incumbent and a challenger from the opposing party and in all 9 general election contests the incumbent was victorious. And based on the winners’ voting records in the 111th Congress, the new primary system has had no effect on partisan polarization—the gap between the state’s Democratic and Republican representatives was just as large in the current Congress as it was in the previous one. Expect the same results in California. [NOTE: Louisiana has had a similar system since the 1970s. The main difference is that Louisiana does not have a runoff if someone gets 50-plus percent in the first round. In Washington and California, however, there will always be a runoff.]