Archive for September 2008

Light Blogging For Awhile

September 25, 2008

The reports of my death are exaggerated.

Since September 8, I have been dealing with the toughest health challenge of my life. While I have made progress, the road to the recovery of my health will be a long one. So, for the time being, my posts here will be sporadic.

I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to thank those who, during the past four-plus years, (1) have been loyal readers of this and my other blog, (2) have taken the time to post comments, and (3) have thought enough of this blog to add it to their blogrolls.

I covet your prayers.

I am wounded but not killed.
I will lie down and bleed for awhile.
Then I will rise and fight again.

~~ Author unknown

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Mississippi Natural Law Party Names Presidential Candidate

September 7, 2008

Remember the Natural Law Party? It ran Dr. John Hagelin of Iowa for president in 1992, 1996, and 2000. In 2000, Hagelin also competed unsuccessfully with Pat Buchanan for the Reform Party’s nomination, since the RP nominee was entitled to some federal cash as a result of Ross Perot’s 1996 presidential run.

Today Hagelin heads something called the U. S. Peace Government. The Natural Law Party has ceased to exist at the national level, and the NLP remains ballot-qualified in only two states– Mississippi and Michigan. Several weeks ago, someone from Florida e-mailed me in search of the contact information for the NLP’s state chairman, with which I provided him. I now know why he needed that info: Brian Moore, the presidential nominee of the Socialist Party[1], was seeking the Mississippi ballot line of the NLP, which he received on August 21. According to Ballot Access News, “The nominating convention was conducted by the party’s long-time state chair [who lives in Ocean Springs] via telephone with the other members of the party’s state [executive] committee.”

So that’s one more choice that Magnolia State voters will have for president on November 4. Whatever votes Moore gets here will surely come out of Senator Obamanation’s hide.

The Natural Law Party of Michigan, on the other hand, has nominated electors pledged to Ralph Nader for president (Nader will be on the Mississippi ballot as an independent).

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[1] The Socialist Party is not registered in Mississippi. Moore’s other option for ballot access here was to qualify as an independent.

Jindal Postpones Louisiana Primaries

September 4, 2008

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal (GIN-dle) yesterday issued an executive order delaying the Bayou State’s party primaries for Congress, which had been slated for Saturday. The primaries will likely be re-scheduled for September 13, although that’s not yet certain. The runoff (or second) primaries will be held on Saturday, October 4. The delay, of course, comes in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav.

From 1978-2006, Louisiana used nonpartisan elections[1] (popularly called “open primaries” there and in Mississippi) to elect its congressional officials. The Bayou State has elected its state and local officials in “open primaries” since 1975.

Louisiana has registered voters by party since 1916. The Democrats are inviting independents to vote in their congressional primaries, while the Republicans are not.

Meanwhile, Washington has this year become only the second state– after Louisiana– to use nonpartisan elections to choose all of its state and congressional officials. The Evergreen State calls its system the “top two,” which is a much more accurate term for nonpartisan elections than “open primary.”

One of the arguments used by advocates of the “top two”/”open primary” is that it increases voter turnout, since it enables voters to choose among ALL the candidates in the first round. That was not the case in the August 19 first round of Washington’s “top two,” however. According to the secretary of state’s website, the turnout was 42.58 percent of registered voters. In contast, the turnout was 45.14 percent in 2004, when the state had party primaries.

Secretary of State Sam Reed, one of the strongest backers of the “top two,” had predicted a 46 percent turnout for August 19.

Thanks to Ballot Access News.

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[1] There are no party primaries, and all candidates, including independents, are listed on the same ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the runoff.

Palin Won An “Open Primary”

September 3, 2008

In a nonpartisan election, popularly called an “open primary” in Mississippi, there are no party primaries. All candidates, including independents, run in the same election, and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, proceed to the runoff. This is the way that we now elect our state and county judges and county election commissioners; it’s also the way we conduct special elections to fill vacancies in offices, such as the Roger Wicker-Ronnie Musgrove U. S. Senate race.

I don’t know whether all of Alaska’s cities and towns have nonpartisan elections, but Sarah Palin’s hometown of Wasilla does. At age 32 in 1996, Palin, then a council member, defeated a three-term incumbent mayor.

The great majority of U. S. municipalities, including most of the big cities, use nonpartisan elections (“open primaries”) to choose their officials. California, for example, has had nonpartisan municipal AND county elections for nearly 100 years.

Having party primaries in Mississippi’s local elections is part of the residue of the old one-party system, in which races were decided in the Democratic primary, with a Democratic runoff if necessary. So long as all candidates ran– and all voters voted– in the same election, there was no problem. It was only after the Republicans began fielding candidates that voters were no longer able to choose among all the candidates in the first round of voting. In just about every part of the state at various times, voters have found themselves facing the dilemma of being able to vote for mayor or council member, but not both.

Two cities in which this situation occurred in 2005 were Hattiesburg and Tupelo. Perhaps we should set up a betting pool on which municipalities it will happen in in the spring of 2009.

Why do we need party primaries in local elections anyway?

Click here to see the advantages of having “open primaries” in municipal elections.

Click here to see a plan for greater choice for Mississippi voters in the years that we elect our state and county officials.

Sarah Palin, Grover Cleveland, and Woodrow Wilson

September 3, 2008

Governor Sarah Palin has nearly eight years of experience as an elected executive: six years as mayor and nearly two years as governor. Votelaw compares her experience to that of President Grover Cleveland (Palin, of course, is running for vice president, not president– a fact that seems to have escaped her critics):

“Oh, the gnashing of teeth among various pundits about Palin’s inexperience (see Daily [Kooks] for a small roundup of newspaper editorials). And attacks from David Frum and Ramesh Ponnuru on National Review’s website.

“Compare her background to that of Grover Cleveland.

— Elected Sheriff of Erie Co., NY, in 1870 for a 4-year term. Goes back into private law practice at the end of the term.

— 1881, elected as mayor of Buffalo

— 1882, elected as governor of New York

— 1884, elected to the presidency

“Democrats should just shut up about Palin’s ‘Grover Cleveland’ problem…”

It should be noted that a Mississippian, L. Q. C. (Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus) Lamar of Oxford, served as interior secretary in the Democrat Cleveland’s cabinet. In 1888, Lamar was confirmed as the first of Cleveland’s four appointees to the U. S. Supreme Court.

In 1888, despite winning the popular vote, Cleveland was defeated for re-election by the Republican Benjamin Harrison. When asked why he lost, he said it was because he didn’t get enough votes. Cleveland was speaking of electoral votes, of course, since he knew that those were the ones that counted.

In 1892, he beat Harrison in a rematch, making Cleveland the only president to serve non-consecutive terms.

Governor Palin’s background should also be compared to that of the Democrat Woodrow Wilson, commander-in-chief during World War I.

After serving as president of Princeton University, Wilson won his first elective office, governor of New Jersey, in 1910.

In 1912, Wilson was elected president, mainly because the Republican Party was split. Former president Theodore Roosevelt, who had unsuccessfully challenged President William Howard Taft for the Republican nomination, ran as the nominee of the Progressive (or “Bull Moose”) Party. Roosevelt finished second to Wilson, while the incumbent Taft carried only two states.