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Free Citizen

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

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Downsize the Mississippi Legislature

This letter appeared in the March 31 Clarion-Ledger.


Burdett Rutland ("Reapportionment due in Mississippi," March 14 letter) notes that neighboring Alabama and Tennessee, with larger populations than Mississippi, both have smaller legislatures. Also, Louisiana has 39 senators and 105 representatives, and Arkansas has 35 senators and 100 representatives, whereas the Magnolia State has 52 senators and 122 representatives.

The Web site ncsl.org shows the number of legislators for each state. The most egregious example is California. With more than 12 times Mississippi's population, that state has 40 senators and 80 assembly members.

There are only two ways that the Mississippi Legislature could be downsized. Since the legislators themselves obviously won't do it, we citizens will have to do it through a ballot initiative.

Click here for two of my previous articles on this subject.

Here's another piece that relates to this topic.

An Irritated Senior Citizen

o All 535 voting members of the U. S. Congress: it is now official that you are ALL corrupt morons:

a) The U. S. Post Office was established in 1775. You have had 235 years to get it right and it is broke.

b) Social Security was established in 1935. You have had 75 years to get it right and it is broke.

c) Fannie Mae was established in 1938. You have had 72 years to get it right and it is broke.

d) The War on Poverty started in 1964. You have had 46 years to get it right; $1 trillion of our money is confiscated each year and transferred to "the poor" and they only want more.

e) Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965. You have had 45 years to get them right and they are broke.

f) Freddie Mac was established in 1970. You have had 40 years to get it right and it is broke.

g) The U. S. Department of Energy was created in 1977 to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. It has ballooned to 16,000 employees with a budget of $24 billion a year, and we import more oil than ever before. You have had 33 years to get it right and it is an abysmal failure.

You have FAILED in every "government service" you have shoved down our throats, while overspending our tax dollars.


~~ Author unknown

NOTE: He left out FEMA, Amtrak, and the IRS, among others. Oh, and "Cash for Clunkers"-- how quickly we forget!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Netflix CEO Puts Cash Down "Open Primary" Rathole

On June 8, the California ballots will feature Proposition 14, a measure for a Louisiana-style "top two open primary,"[1] and the campaign is heating up.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently transferred $500,000 from his campaign account to the campaign in favor of Prop. 14.

Also, Ballot Access News reports that Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, last week gave $257,328 to the campaign for Prop. 14.

What would be the motivation of the CEO of Netflix to throw a quarter of a million dollars down a rathole? I was on the verge of joining Netflix, but I just decided to join Blockbuster instead. Besides, you can return Blockbuster’s DVDs to their brick-and-mortar stores.

I guess Schwarzenegger doesn’t think he’s screwed up California quite enough yet, so he wants to add the “top two open primary” to his checkered legacy. In addition to Governor Ahnuld, these were among the backers of California’s 2004 “open primary” initiative: now-CIA director Leon Panetta (D), ex-Governor Pete Wilson (R), and ex-Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan (R). And yet the voters still had the good sense to defeat this monstrosity, as it lost in 51 of the state’s 58 counties.

The opponents of the “open primary” (Prop. 62) raised enough money in 2004 to beat this abomination. I’m confident that they will again be able to get their message to the voters.

I am continually amazed that some independents and small party members support the “top two open primary.” I guess they don’t give a damn about having a chance to elect independents and small party candidates to office, since the final choice in the “top two” is almost always one Democrat and one Republican, two Democrats, OR two Republicans.

Incidentally, I wonder how the Netflix CEO arrived at such an oddball figure as $257,328.

Maybe that was what he had left in his petty cash account.


[1] All candidates, including independents, are listed on a single ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the runoff. The California proposal is for all state and congressional offices.

The Cloward-Piven Strategy

From DiscoverTheNetworks.Org:

~~ Strategy for forcing political change through orchestrated crisis

First proposed in 1966 and named after Columbia University sociologists Richard Andrew Cloward and his wife Frances Fox Piven (today Piven is an honorary chair for the Democratic Socialists of America), the “Cloward-Piven Strategy” seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.

Inspired by the August 1965 riots in the black district of Watts in Los Angeles (which erupted after police had used batons to subdue a black man suspected of drunk driving), Cloward and Piven published an article titled "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty" in the May 2, 1966 issue of The Nation. Following its publication, The Nation sold an unprecedented 30,000 reprints. Activists were abuzz over the so-called "crisis strategy" or "Cloward-Piven Strategy," as it came to be called. Many were eager to put it into effect.

In their 1966 article, Cloward and Piven charged that the ruling classes used welfare to weaken the poor; that by providing a social safety net, the rich doused the fires of rebellion. Poor people can advance only when "the rest of society is afraid of them," Cloward told The New York Times on September 27, 1970. Rather than placating the poor with government hand-outs, wrote Cloward and Piven, activists should work to sabotage and destroy the welfare system; the collapse of the welfare state would ignite a political and financial crisis that would rock the nation; poor people would rise in revolt; only then would "the rest of society" accept their demands.

The key to sparking this rebellion would be to expose the inadequacy of the welfare state. Cloward-Piven's early promoters cited radical organizer Saul Alinsky as their inspiration. "Make the enemy live up to their (sic) own book of rules," Alinsky wrote in his 1972 book Rules for Radicals. When pressed to honor every word of every law and statute, every Judaeo-Christian moral tenet, and every implicit promise of the liberal social contract, human agencies inevitably fall short. The system's failure to "live up" to its rule book can then be used to discredit it altogether, and to replace the capitalist "rule book" with a socialist one.

The authors noted that the number of Americans subsisting on welfare -- about 8 million, at the time -- probably represented less than half the number who were technically eligible for full benefits. They proposed a "massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls." Cloward and Piven calculated that persuading even a fraction of potential welfare recipients to demand their entitlements would bankrupt the system. The result, they predicted, would be "a profound financial and political crisis" that would unleash "powerful forces … for major economic reform at the national level."

Their article called for "cadres of aggressive organizers" to use "demonstrations to create a climate of militancy." Intimidated by threats of black violence, politicians would appeal to the federal government for help. Carefully orchestrated media campaigns, carried out by friendly, leftwing journalists, would float the idea of "a federal program of income redistribution," in the form of a guaranteed living income for all -- working and non-working people alike. Local officials would clutch at this idea like drowning men to a lifeline. They would apply pressure on Washington to implement it. With every major city erupting into chaos, Washington would have to act.

This was an example of what are commonly called... Read more>>>>


Additional sources:

Wikipedia article

American Thinker article

Preparing for Panic

Washington Times piece

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cuccinelli Attacks ObamaCare

by Robert Romano

Today [March 23], Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will file suit against the federal mandate imposed by ObamaCare that individuals must purchase health insurance. He and other courageous state attorneys general deserve our thanks.

In short, the Federal Constitution does not permit Congress to enact a mandate for individuals to purchase anything, let alone health insurance. The Fifth Amendment provides that “No person shall be… deprived of… liberty… without due process of law.” The American people have the liberty to choose their own health insurance plan — if they want one.

At issue in the case is a newly-enacted Virginia law that prohibits individual mandates — in direct contradiction to the federal statute.

Cuccinelli will argue that the Constitution provides no explicit grant of authority for Congress to mandate the purchase of insurance. According to the Roanoke Times, “With this law, the federal government will force citizens to buy health insurance, claiming it has the authority to do so because of its power to regulate interstate commerce," Cuccinelli said. "We contend that if a person decides not to buy health insurance, that person – by definition – is not engaging in commerce, and therefore, is not subject to a federal mandate."

Such a line of attack is the most likely to disarm government-run health care at its inception in a efficient period of time, even more so than a repeal strategy now being promoted by Congressional Republicans.

Repeal will take time — a luxury not on the side of those who stand with liberty — and depends upon victory in 2010 in the least. Not to mention the transition of one if not two presidential election cycles to overcome an Obama veto. At the earliest, legislation repealing ObamaCare could be enacted in 2013, assuming a filibuster-proof majority can be secured in the Senate.

As with other entitlements, repealing them proves even harder than enacting them. Ronald Reagan once said that “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So, governments' programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth.”

One need only look at the present scheme of federal entitlements to see the difficulty involved. Despite bleeding red ink year after year, having their trust funds pilfered by Congress, and the prospect of complete insolvency by 2017 and 2037, respectively, Medicare and Social Security remain unreformed and as unsustainable as ever.

That is not to say that repeal... Read more>>>>

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

U. S. Supreme Court Requests Mississippi Response

From Ballot Access News:

On March 19, the U. S. Supreme Court asked Mississippi to file a response to the certiorari petition filed by Brian Moore,[1] in the case over whether Mississippi should have put Moore on the ballot for President in 2008. The case is Moore v. Hosemann, 09-982.

This is the second indicator that the Court may be interested in this case. The first indicator was when Scotusblog flagged this case as a certiorari petition of interest. Scotusblog is a well-regarded news service that covers developments in the U. S. Supreme Court more closely than any other news source.

If the Court does take the case, it will be the first time since 1991 that the Court has taken a ballot access case filed with that Court by a minor party or independent candidate.


[1] Moore, a Florida resident, was the presidential nominee of the Socialist Party, which is not ballot-qualified in Mississippi. He was nominated here by the Natural Law Party.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Colorado Libertarians to Hold a Primary

The Colorado Libertarian Convention, meeting on March 20, nominated most of the party's candidates for the 2010 general election. However, because of a 2003 change in state law, small parties must nominate by primary in certain circumstances. It will therefore be necessary to hold a statewide Libertarian primary for governor and U. S. senator. Colorado's primaries will be on August 12.

This will be the first Colorado party-- other than the Democratic and Republican parties-- to conduct a statewide primary since the Progressive Party did so in 1916.

Both of the candidates for Libertarian national chairman, Wayne Allyn Root of Las Vegas and John J. Meyers of Dallas, addressed the convention. Root, a recovering Republican, was the LP's 2008 vice-presidential nominee and has already announced his intention to seek the 2012 presidential nomination.

One of the candidates for governor, Dan Sallis, has an interesting nickname, "Kilo."

Mississippi law specifies that all parties nominate by primary; however, none of our six small parties have ever held a primary, since they have never had more than one candidate for the same office. The Magnolia State's ballot-qualified small parties are the Libertarian, Constitution, Green, America First, Natural Law, and Reform parties.

Thanks to Ballot Access News for the link.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Out-Of-State Petition Circulators

Mississippi's initiative process has been in the news lately, with the measure for voter ID qualifying for the November 2011 ballot. It's also possible that an abortion initiative will appear on that ballot.

Mississippi is the only state that had the initiative process and lost it. This happened in 1922 as the result of a state Supreme Court ruling. In November 1992, some 70 percent of the voters approved our current initiative process, and the U. S. Department of Justice in 1993 okayed it under the Voting Rights Act. Since then, only two initiatives have qualified for the ballot, prior to the voter ID measure. Both of these proposals were for term limits-- in 1995 and 1999-- and both were defeated.

As though the Magnolia State's initiative process were not already tough enough, the state legislature in 1998 made it even more difficult by requiring that petition circulators be residents of the state. However, if a lawsuit were brought against this requirement, I believe that the suit would be successful. In 1999, for example, the U. S. Supreme Court struck down a Colorado law that mandated that petition circulators be registered voters in the state (Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation).

Furthermore, seven of the federal circuit courts of appeals have issued rulings regarding residency requirements for petition circulators. Richard Winger, publisher of Ballot Access News, says, "The 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th circuits have thrown out laws that bar out-of-state circulators. The 2nd and 3rd circuits have thrown out laws that require circulators for district office to live in the district.

"On the other hand, the 8th circuit upheld a ban on out-of-state circulators in North Dakota, although that decision didn’t apply strict scrutiny, so it is disobedient to the U. S. Supreme Court precedent on who can circulate. There is a case pending against Idaho’s ban on out-of-state circulators in U. S. District Court that may get a ruling any day now. The Constitution Party is about to file a lawsuit against Kansas’ ban on out-of-state circulators." Independence Institute v. Buescher, a federal suit filed on March 15, challenges Colorado's prohibition on out-of-state circulators.

There has not yet been a case on non-resident petition circulators in the 5th circuit, which consists of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

"Scotusblog" Calls Mississippi Case a "Notable Petition"

UPDATE-- 3/19/2010: Governor Haley Barbour today signed SB 3058, which sets a 5:00 p. m. deadline for turning in presidential elector paperwork to the secretary of state. The law previously set the deadline date but not the hour. The change was clearly brought about by the case discussed below. Meanwhile, the U. S. Supreme Court announced that it will consider at its April 2 conference whether it will hear Moore v. Hosemann, 09-982.


From Ballot Access News:

Scotusblog is a highly-regarded blog that reports on news from the U.S. Supreme Court. The editors of Scotusblog routinely read all the certiorari petitions filed in the U. S. Supreme Court. Then, Scotusblog editors choose the ones they feel are somewhat likely to be [heard] by the Court.

The March 12 edition of Scotusblog has chosen Moore v. Hosemann as a “notable petition.” See here.

Moore v. Hosemann is the Mississippi case over whether Brian Moore, the 2008 Socialist Party presidential candidate, should have been on the ballot. The ballot-qualified Natural Law Party nominated Moore, but it turned in its presidential electors ten minutes past five p.m. on the deadline day. Moore sued, arguing that the statute doesn’t indicate an hour on which such paperwork is due; by contrast, almost all other election law deadlines in the election law indicate an hour, generally 5 p.m. Moore also argued that because Article II of the U.S. Constitution says state legislatures (not states in general) have authority to write election laws governing presidential elector selection, the Secretary of State doesn’t have authority to impose a 5 p.m. deadline. The U.S. District Court said the case is moot. The 5th circuit said the case is not moot, and that Moore should re-file the case in state court.

Moore appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the 5th circuit should have itself certified the case to the State Supreme Court, instead of forcing Moore to file an entirely new lawsuit in state court. Moore also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide an auxiliary procedural point in the case. That procedural point is whether states that refuse to accept normal notice that the lawsuit is filed, and instead require the plaintiff to pay for a process server, ought to reimburse the plaintiff for the cost of the process server.

These two procedural matters may seem uninteresting to many readers of this blog, but they are both of great interest to attorneys who sometimes sue state officials. The Fifth Circuit appears to be the only circuit that has ruled adversely on the procedural point about states and the costs of serving notice of a lawsuit. All the other Circuits seem to have ruled that states must reimburse plaintiffs for the cost of hiring a process server, if the states won’t accept service by postal mail.

In the U.S. Supreme Court, the case is Moore v. Hosemann, 09-982. On March 2, Mississippi had told the U.S. Supreme Court that it doesn’t wish to file a response. The U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t set a conference date for Moore v. Hosemann. When it does, perhaps the Court will ask Mississippi to respond. Moore’s attorney is Law Professor Mark R. Brown of Capital Law School in Columbus, Ohio.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Health Care in a Free Society

Click here for the audio podcast of this article.


"... I see health care reform of the kind promoted by the Obama administration and congressional leaders as part of a crusade against the American idea."


by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin)

Someone once said that before there was the New Deal, there was the Wisconsin Deal. In my home state, the University of Wisconsin was an early hotbed of progressivism, whose goal was to reorder society along lines other than those of the Constitution. The best known Wisconsin progressive in American politics was Robert LaFollette. “Fighting Bob,” as he was called, was a Republican— as was Theodore Roosevelt, another early progressive. Today we tend to associate progressivism mostly with Democrats, and trace it back to Woodrow Wilson. But it had its roots in both parties.

The social and political programs of the progressives came in on two great waves: the New Deal of the 1930s and the Great Society of the 1960s. Today, President Obama often invokes progressivism and hopes to generate its third great wave of public policy. In thinking about what this would mean, we need look no farther than the health care reform program he is promoting along with the leadership in Congress.

Let me say here at the beginning that even though survey after survey shows that 75 percent or more of Americans are satisfied with the quality of their health care, no one I know in Congress denies that health care reform is needed. Everyone understands that health care in our country has grown needlessly expensive, and that some who want coverage cannot afford it. The ongoing debate over health care, then, is not about whether there should be reform; it is about what the principle of that reform ought to be.

Under the terms of our Constitution, every individual has a right to care for their health, just as they have a right to eat. These rights are integral to our natural right to life—and it is government’s chief purpose to secure our natural rights. But the right to care for one’s health does not imply that government must provide health care, any more than our right to eat, in order to live, requires government to own the farms and raise the crops.

Government’s constitutional obligations in regard to protecting such rights are normally met by establishing the conditions for free markets— markets which historically provide an abundance of goods and services, at an affordable cost, for the largest number. When free markets seem to be failing to meet this goal— and I would argue that the delivery of health care today is an example of where this is the case— government, rather than seeking to supply the need itself, should look to see if its own interventions are the root of the problem, and should make adjustments to unleash competition and choice.

With good reason, the Constitution left the administration of public health... Read more>>>>

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Richard Weaver's Centennial

A few minutes ago, I happened to stumble upon the fact that today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Richard Weaver (1910-1963), author of the classic book, Ideas Have Consequences (1948). I think it only fitting that I post something about this great man on such a noteworthy day. ~~ SR


by Thomas E. Woods Jr.

Along with Russell Kirk and Robert Nisbet, Richard Weaver was one of the most influential intellectuals of the postwar conservative renascence in America. A professor of English at the University of Chicago, Weaver was also a scholar of Southern history, and his defense of Southern civilization was at once so elegant and insightful that historians continue to study and discuss his work some forty years after his untimely death. Although despised in fashionable circles, the South, Weaver believed, possessed insight and wisdom that a world increasingly enticed by liberalism (in the American sense) neglected at its peril.

In 1830, one of the most famous debates in American history occurred between Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster and South Carolina Senator Robert Hayne. Weaver analyzed the debate in his essay "Two Orators," and much of what in Weaver’s judgment separated North and South politically, culturally, and ideologically came through in this celebrated exchange. Before a packed and rapturously attentive Senate chamber, the two men delivered a total of five speeches, in which they examined the nature of the American Union.

According to Hayne, the American Union was formed by distinct American states, acting in their sovereign capacity to establish a federal government to act as their agent in a few clearly specified areas. The political consequences of this view were plain. The United States was composed of independent, sovereign political communities, which retained all powers not delegated to the federal government, and which as sovereign states could, through secession, recall the powers delegated to that government. That Hayne’s position possessed merit was evident in the grammatical construction people generally used when speaking about the United States: the United States are rather than the United States is.

Webster, on the other hand, argued that the Union had been formed by the entire American people in the aggregate. In Webster’s conception, therefore, secession (and the less extreme method of resistance to unconstitutional federal action known as nullification) was metaphysically impossible. The Union was not, at root, a confederation of states, but rather an indivisible whole.

Weaver frequently observed that the Southerner was very much a local person, devoted to his particular plot of land and skeptical of distant authorities or grandiose political schemes – and he perceived this attachment to the locality in Hayne’s remarks before the Senate. Hayne’s historical argument, Weaver wrote, "was devoted to the proposition that the United States had been founded primarily to secure the blessings of liberty. For Hayne the implication was clear that liberty required the independence and dignity of the parts, with local attention to and disposition of local affairs. In what may seem to many an excess of particularism, he opposed local improvements financed by funds of the general government. Yet from a strict point of view Hayne was but facing and accepting the price of liberty. Freedom is something that gathers around the hearth, inheres in local associations, and endears to a man his place of habitation."

The issue could also be conceived another way: was the American Union... Read more>>>>

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Agrarians Took Their Stand

The following is excerpted from a 1980 article written by Andrew Lytle (1902-1995). It's based on his presentation to the Philadelphia Society meeting held in New Orleans in October 1979.


Of the twelve agrarians who wrote the symposium I’ll Take My Stand [1930], only three are alive: Robert Penn Warren [1905-1989], the poet and novelist; Lyle Lanier [d. 1988], a psychologist and former executive vice-president of the University of Illinois: and myself, a writer and reader of fiction.

... all the writers were Southern and most of them, by accident, were associated with Vanderbilt University. These men were already known or were to become distinguished in their proper occupations, whether it was history or psychology or literature. Their agrarian writings merely displayed their common cultural inheritance, which was Christian and European. Let me quote a paragraph from the statement of principles as foreword to I’ll Take My Stand:

"Opposed to the industrial society is the agrarian, which does not stand in particular need of definition. An agrarian society is hardly one that has no use at all for industries, for professional vocations, for scholars and artists, and for the life of cities. Technically, perhaps, an agrarian society is one in which agriculture is the leading vocation, whether for wealth, for pleasure, or for prestige-a form of labor that is pursued with intelligence and leisure, and that becomes the model to which the other forms approach as well as they may."

Surely, then, it must be taken that a poet, a farmer, a banker, a historian, a school teacher, must live in a certain place and time and so exhibit the kind of belief and behavior defined by the manners and mores of that time and place. It was not necessary to be a farmer to be agrarian. It was merely the basic occupation of a commodity-producing society.

Only the Liberal mind could confuse equipment with the thing itself, but then the Liberal is always promising to relieve us of our common ills at somebody else’s expense. He is the propagandist of the power we opposed. It is an old fight and the agrarians were not the first to enter it. This is no time to reargue the case. The books are there to be read, and read in light of our present circumstances. I do want to emphasize that agrarianism was not an effort to reconstitute an ideal state, a utopia... .

From 1940 to 1974, the number of farms in the U.S. declined from approximately six million to a little over two million, 62 percent of our family units. Since the second world war, thirty million people have left the country for the city.

... at the time we wrote there were enough families living on the land and enough privately owned businesses in small towns and cities to counterbalance the great industrial might, which was a fact and had to be reckoned with. If our proposal had been listened to, this necessary industry might have been contained, might not have grown into the only idea of the kind of life everybody must be forced to accept. A family, and I mean its kin and connections, too, thrives best on some fixed location which holds the memories of past generations by the ownership of farms or even family businesses. Not only sentimental memories but skills passed down and a knowledge of the earth tended. And a knowledge particularly of the bloodstreams, so as to be warned and prepared for what to expect in behavior. Industry today uproots. ... . Promotion, except among the basic workers, means pulling up roots and being sent elsewhere, with the promise of a better car and another room to the house. The children, just as they are making friends and getting used to school, must begin all over again. This is a modification of the Spartan state, which reduced the family to a minimal role.

I’ve often asked myself: Why was it that so few people listened to us, although most were sympathetic. The kind of life they knew was at stake. I think the reason of their seeming indifference is this: Nobody could imagine the world they were born in, had lived in, and were still living in could disappear. Well, it has.

As my final word, I think we should have found a larger word than agrarian, for it was this whole country’s Christian inheritance that was threatened, and still is. But let there be no misunderstanding. We still are subjects of Christendom. Only we have reached its Satanic phase. I can’t believe that any society is strong which holds physical comfort as its quest. There is only one comfort, and it is the only thing that has been promised: the gates of Hell will not finally prevail.