Archive for August 2008

Dear Abby

August 31, 2008

Dear Abby,

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

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

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

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

Worried About My Reputation

McCain, Palin In Mississippi Today

August 31, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Vice-Presidential Poll Results

August 31, 2008

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

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney led with 21.9 percent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gov. Palin’s Husband And Son Are Independents

August 31, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

“McCain-Palin” Has A Nice Ring

August 29, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

The “Open Primary” Debate Rages On

August 28, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And why should the voters pay for closed partisan primaries???”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Partisan politics, whether it’s major party or minor party, is on the way out.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Musgrove-Wicker Special U. S. Senate Race

August 28, 2008

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

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

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

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