Monday, December 28, 2009


I trust that everyone of us enjoyed a meaningful Christmas in 2009 and, upon reflection and taking stock of our lives, are looking forward to a happy (and prosperous) New Year. Christmas should always be a time of faith, family, and love, and I hope that your Christmas found all of these elements in place.

I received several interesting and valued gifts for Christmas, but two books that I received stand out: Sarah Palin’s “Going Rogue”; and “Kings of Tort”, by Alan Lange and Tom Dawson. Since none of our three children or six grandchildren were with us on Christmas Day, and because Beverly had a touch nausea (probably because of too much pre-Christmas travel, cooking, present-wrapping and anticipation of after-Christmas visits), I spent much of the day reading “Kings of Tort” – a very detailed account of recent events which exposed sordid tales of judicial bribery and corruption, and political intrigue within the Mississippi judicial system, and which were covered extensively by the national media outlets. As stated on the book’s back cover, “Kings of Tort”…”features the story of Dickie Scruggs, who was largely credited with bringing down Big Tobacco in the early 1990s. From his ascent to a net worth of nearly a billion dollars to his seemingly unfathomable downfall stemming from his role in improperly influencing two local judges to influence cases involving fee disputes with other lawyers, the book documents how those in Scruggs’s own trusted circle of tort barons turned on him and cooperated with federal authorities. It also shows the political influence he wielded with judges, attorneys general, and even his own brother-in-law, former U.S. Senator Trent Lott.”

When I first heard that “Kings of Tort” was to be published, my initial thought was that the book would simply be bringing up old, painful news that most Mississippians would like to leave in the past, particularly since it dealt with public officials and public figures (and their families) that had been friends and colleagues of many of us. However, after reading the first gripping pages which recounted the actual FBI-wired conversations between attorney Tim Balducci and Dickie Scruggs; and the conversations between Balducci and Dickie’s two young associates (Zach Scruggs and Sidney Backstrum); as well as the account of how the attempted bribery of Judge Henry Lackey actually took place, I knew that “Kings of Tort” was an important work

Lange, who operates one of the largest political websites in the southeast, and Dawson, a 36-year veteran federal prosecutor who served as lead counsel in the investigation and prosecution of the Scruggs cases, have presented us with an important work because their book chronicles several serious attempts to corrupt the judicial system of one of America’s fifty states, and all of these attempts (some of which were successful) were full scale attacks on the rule of law – the glue that holds together our ability to function as a nation.

I strongly recommend “Kings of Tort” as a “must read” for all Americans who are interested in maintaining the rule of law in our great country and do not subscribe to the theory that “the ends justify the means” when attempting to bring about social change or accomplish some otherwise noble goal.

I will have more to say about “Kings of Tort” and Sarah Palin’s “Going Rogue” in the coming weeks. All of us are interested in the great issues that confront us each day on the news from Washington – the health care debate, for example. There will be time enough to discuss those issues in the days ahead, but in my opinion we can learn much from an analysis of our recent history as seen through these two important books.

Happy New Year, everybody.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


In my last Post (The Blue Dogs – Part II), I posed the following questions:

Does the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition in the United States House of Representatives, including Congressmen Travis Childers (MS-1) and Gene Taylor (MS-4), serve some legitimate purpose that is good for America?

Do the Blue Dogs, regardless of their claim that they are for lowering the national debt, simply “facilitate” the activities of their extremely liberal Democrat Leaders in the House of Representatives, allow those leaders to hold on to power in the Congress, and also allow them to continue their reckless onslaught on the American Free Enterprise System ( in the same sense that a person who continues to make drinks available to a known alcoholic “facilitates” the alcoholic’s dependence on liquor)?

Do the Blue Dogs really serve as a check against their national Democrat leaders, such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, or do we have the Blue Dogs to thank for the present liberal array of House of Representatives Committee Chairmen that are dedicated to a massive restructuring of our federal government and increased government control of our daily lives?

In considering these questions, we must first define a few terms. According to WEBSTER’S NEW WORLD DICTIONARY (Second College Ed.), the term “facilitate” is defined as “to make easy or easier”. The term “facilitation” means “increased ease of performance of any action”; and a “faciliter” is one that makes another’s job or performance easier.” On the other hand, one who is in “complicity” with another, according to WEBSTER, is a “participant”, or “in partnership in wrongdoing”.

Based on a casual glance at the website of THE BLUEDOG COALITION, its leaders proudly boast that the coalition has injected a “moderate” viewpoint into the Democratic Caucus in the United States House of Representatives; and that since 1996, “24 Blue Dogs won their seats by defeating a Republican incumbent.” There is no doubt that the efforts of populist Democrats to unseat conservative Republicans in diverse Congressional Districts have hurt the efforts of The Republican Party to maintain working control of the House of Representatives, but there is little evidence, if any, to show that the Blue Dog Democrats have had any significant effect on the liberal agenda of their Party. Instead, the evidence is crystal clear that these Blue Dogs have done little more for their country than to cast their votes for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House of Representatives. They are then routinely ignored by their Party leaders unless their votes are needed in close party-line votes to support the agenda of the Speaker, although some have been effective in bringing home large amounts of “pork” for their Congressional Districts, thereby ironically increasing the national debt.

Just as a “friends” or others often feed the habit or desires of one inflicted with the disease of alcoholism, the Blue Dog Democrats routinely feed the excessive desires and spending habits (and support the pacifist views) of their national Democrat leaders in Washington by continually voting to keep them in power in the Congress. Our mothers always told us that we are known by the company we keep. Travis Childers, Gene Taylor, and the other members of the Blue Dog Coalition keep company with Nancy Pelosi and her extremely liberal House Committee Chairmen, as well as with Joe Biden and Barack Obama. They should not be allowed to successfully talk the conservative talk at home in the 2010 congressional elections, when they vote to support their Party leaders who are trying to create a new world order and walk the liberal walk in Washington.

Monday, December 7, 2009


As was stated in the last installment of this blog, Wikipedia tells us that the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition is “a group of 53 moderate and conservative Democrats committed to financial and national security, favoring compromise and bipartisanship over ideology and party discipline.” But are they really committed to financial and national security? And do they really favor compromise and bipartisanship over ideology and party discipline? Or are they perpetrating a massive hoax and posturing to convince the electorate that they are something that they are not? Are they really sailing under false colors in order to save their political skins in demographically diverse congressional districts?

Mississippi Democrat Congressman Travis Childers (MS-1) certainly hopes that his constituents view him as “bipartisan” and favoring compromise over ideology and party discipline. When he campaigned in a special election a year ago to succeed Roger Wicker (who was appointed United States Senator by Governor Barbour to replace the retiring Trent Lott), Childers worked hard in Mississippi’s First Congressional District to portray himself as a populist in the mold of one of his earlier predecessors, Democrat Congressman Jamie Whitten, who was Chairman of the powerful House of Representatives Appropriations Committee during Mississippi’s “one-party days” when there was no viable Republican Party in the State. Whitten often boasted that he could “bring home the bacon” for Mississippians with projects such as the mega-expensive Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, which was envisioned at the time as destined to bring thousands of new jobs to the economically depressed northeastern region of the Magnolia State and other regions of the country as well.

Since Childers’ election after a nasty Republican Primary that left Republicans divided in a conservative district that has voted consistently for Republicans in past national elections, he has publicly stressed his independence from The Democrat Party’s national leadership and has tried to position himself, although a Democrat, as not subservient to party discipline in matters’ such as health care, that are of importance to his district.

Mississippi’s First Congressional District is racially diverse. While a substantial majority of its voters are white, middle class and blue collar, and live in the northeastern portion of Mississippi in the foothills of Appalachia, a substantial portion of its citizens are African-Americans, many of whom live farther west in the flat lands of the Mississippi Delta along Highway 61, the famous “Blues Highway”.

In winning his election last year, Childers cobbled together enough voters from the predominantly white and conservative eastern portion of his District to go with his far more liberal constituency from the Mississippi Delta. Many Republicans, bitterly divided after a bloody primary battle, stayed home and did not vote in the general election. Whether Congressman Childers can hold his coalition together in the 2010 Congressional Elections, in the aftermath of the tumultuous events that have taken place at the national level under the leadership of President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress, remains to be seen.

Next week, we will discuss whether Blue Dog Democrats such as Congressman Childers serve some legitimate purpose when they present themselves as “bipartisan” and as “conservative Democrats”. Is the Blue Dog Coalition good for America, or are the Blue Dogs simply “facilitators” that allow the extremely liberal national Democrat leadership to hold on to power in the Congress? Are they really conservative Democrat Dogs that are left out in the cold by their colleagues and turn blue in the process? Or are they really wolves in Blue Dog clothing? We will draw some conclusions, based upon the evidence, in our next installment (The Blue Dogs – Part III).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


According to Wikipedia, the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition in the United States House of Representatives is currently a group of 53 “moderate-to-conservative Democrats…favoring compromise and bipartisanship over ideology and party discipline”. This organization within the Democratic Party was first created in 1995 and, although “clearly not Southern, some view the Blue Dogs as political successors to a now defunct-in-name Southern Democratic group known as the Boll Weevils…” Again according to Wikipedia, Blue Dog Democrats are sometimes defined as being “choked blue” by “extreme” Democrats from the left, or Congressmen that, when left “outside in the cold, turn blue”

With the 2010 congressional elections on the horizon and clearly on the radar screens on both major political parties, a close look at the Blue Dogs, what they stand for, and where they get their funding, is timely and important. Much is riding on the 2010 Congressional elections. Although former Democrat Speaker of the House Tip O’Neal once said that “all politics is local,” the implications of the 2010 elections are national in scope. With President Obama and his associates, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid, apparently transfixed on the notion that capitalism has failed and that the United States should be transformed into a quasi-socialistic society where fifty percent (50%) or more of the nation’s economy should be driven by government-run or supported institutions and services, those who we elect to Congress in 2010 could very well determine whether America, and the principles that made the country great to begin with, will survive as we have known it in the past.

Reagan and his followers have said at one time or another (1) that government is best that governs least; (2) hard work is the key to success in life; (3) each person is responsible for his own actions; and (4) we are not just a bunch of special interest groups that call ourselves Americans, but we are one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. These are the principles that should drive us as we select who to send to Congress in 2010. All politics should not be local next year.

As stated by Wikipedia, it has been my experience that Blue Dog Democrats, particularly in the South, like to portray themselves as non-ideological and as Congressmen who can “bring home the bacon” to their constituents. But a larger question in 2010 is whether these Blue Dogs can stand up to their Democratic leaders that want to remake America. Can they as Democrats, help fight the war in Afghanistan to win; fight hard and openly to defeat the efforts of their leaders to socialize our institutions, nationalize our health care system, and raise our taxes? Are those Blue Dogs who ask to be elected or returned to Congress willing to state publicly that they will not only abstain but will vote against Nancy Pelosi in her bid in 2010 to remain as Speaker of the House of Representatives? Will they organize with the Democrats and insure that radical Democrat Congressmen such as Barney Frank (D-Mass) and Charlie Rangel (D-NY) remain as Chairmen of the key committees in the House of Representatives; or will they support the Republicans when the House is reorganized? These are legitimate questions that should be asked of Blue Dog Democrats in their races against Republican opponents next year.

There are two Blue Dog Democrat Congressmen in Mississippi who will stand for re-election in 2010. In our next post, we will examine their races and what the Blue Dog Coalition really stands for.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

Monday, November 16, 2009


A milestone quietly occurred here last week within the ranks of the Mississippi Republican Party when long-time Republican activist Cindy Phillips announced that she was stepping down as the Mississippi National Republican Committeewoman, effective January 15, 2010. Cindy was first elected National Committeewoman in May, 2000, and has served effectively and with distinction since that time.

I had the pleasure and privilege, as her County Republican Chairman, to second Cindy’s nomination to be the National Committeewoman at the 2000 Republican State Convention; and I remember it well. Senators Thad Cochran and Trent Lott, as well as Congressmen Roger Wicker and Chip Pickering, had all just made speeches and were sitting on the front row, with approximately 1000 Republicans in attendance.

State Senator Bill Hawks (later the United States Undersecretary of Agriculture) made the nominating speech for Cindy and talked about her longtime selfless service to the Party and her wise counsel to him when he ran for Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi. In my remarks, I spoke of how she had found time to help me find Republican poll workers in three remote Madison County precincts which had to be selected only a few days before the State Convention, while at the same time she was engaged in a tough election campaign for National Committeewoman. Dede Baxter of Lucedale gave another seconding speech for Cindy that day and recalled how Cindy, as President of the Mississippi Federation Of Republican Women, had helped her form a Republican Women’s Club in Lucedale and George County, a sparsely populated County near the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

After her resounding election victory through the votes of the State Convention Delegates, Cindy pledged to be an active National Committeewoman and do all that she could to grow the Republican Party in Mississippi and nationally. She has fulfilled her pledge in countless ways, travelled to remote places, and has mentored hundreds of Republican men and women on what it means to be a Republican and how to effectively promote Republican causes. She has also served with distinction as a member of the Republican National Committee and its Rules Committee; and was my trusted adviser during my tenure as State Party Chairman whenever big decisions had to be made.

In short, Cindy Phillips is the quintessential American patriot – one who loves her country and remains convinced that the Republican Party is the best vehicle to maintain those principles that made our country great Thanks, Cindy, for a job well done; and thanks, also, for the memories.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Prior to the gubernatorial elections which were held on November 2, 2009, Larry Sabato, the widely respected University of Virginia professor of political science and political observer, was quoted as saying:

“If the GOP should win both New Jersey and Virginia, then there will be a longer and more pro-Republican spin put on the off-off-year elections, and the commentary will last longer – possibly enabling Republican candidate recruiters for 2010 to score some big catches.”

Karl Rove, in a pre-election analysis, said:

“Tuesday’s election will provide the most tangible evidence so far of how strong a backlash is building and just how frightened centrist Democrats should be of 2010.”

The dust has now settled after Republicans scored convincing wins in Virginia and New Jersey. Republican Bob McDonnell won his election for Governor in Virginia by a startling 17.4 points and in New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie won by a convincing 4.2 points in what was expected to be a very close race, despite being outspent by a 3 to 1 margin. These Republican victories are especially significant because only one year ago, President Obama carried New Jersey easily with 57% of the vote and also won Virginia with 53% of the vote. It is also noteworthy that Virginia is the home state of the current Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who also serves as the current Governor of the State.

In the aftermath of the election, Karl Rove wrote in the November 4, 2009, edition of the WALL STREET JOURNAL:

“Tuesday’s elections should put a scare into red state Democrats – and a few blue ones, too.” (He also noted that Republicans swept six of seven statewide contests in Pennsylvania as well).

Karl’s basic analysis was that on November 2, suburban and independent voters moved to the GOP (13 points in Virginia; 12 points in New Jersey; and 8 points in Pennsylvania), where they had voted in much larger numbers for Obama one year earlier. His final conclusion was that “[e]ven a five point swing in 2010 could bring a tidal wave of change…[ in the 2010 congressional elections].” Senator Joe Lieberman (D.-Conn.) seemed to confirm Karl’s analysis when he stated that there was “a very large and quick move of independents” away from the Democratic Party and that public fears of the rising debt are at a “tipping point”.

Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi, who is also Chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association (RGA) stated:

“Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie proved that voters everywhere are looking for leaders who focus on growing jobs, keeping taxes low, and strengthening the economy. They showed that by focusing on pocketbook issues, Republicans can win anywhere in 2010.” It is noteworthy that the RGA invested more than $7 million in New Jersey and $5 million in Virginia, in the November 2 races.

In perhaps the most insightful commentary on the November 2 elections (“Voters are Desperate for Political Leadership”, WSJ, Nov.5, 2009), Dan Henninger wrote:

“Welcome to the permanent American Tea Party….That electorates in two politically significant states, led by the widening independent movement, could swing within one year from enthusiasm for electing Barack Obama [to support for two Republican gubernatorial candidates] is simply astonishing. Add another American metaphor to the political landscape: the cattle stampede. Independent voters across the U.S. have become like the massive cattle herd John Wayne drove from Texas to Kansas in ‘Red River’. These voters are spooked and on the run, a political stampede that veered left in November, 2008, and now right a mere one year later.”

Henninger also noted that in the nine months from the failure of Lehman Brothers to the bankruptcy and nationalization of General Motors, the American people were “riveted to news of economic distress.”

My take on all of this? I believe that Republicans, both here in Mississippi and nationally, have a huge opportunity to make a comeback in the 2010 congressional elections and that the voters want to place a check on the President and his associates, particularly Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Americans sense that the country has reached a long-term economic tipping point and are looking for stable political leaders that will not bankrupt the country. Unless Republicans can provide that leadership, the stampede will continue.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


On the eve of two gubernatorial elections that have attracted national attention as possible barometers of the current popularity of the Obama Administration and the potential gains that Republicans might make in the all-important 2010 congressional elections, the special November 3, 2009, congressional election in upstate New York’s 23d District has suddenly burst on the scene and, in regard to the public’s interest, to some extent has eclipsed the New Jersey and Virginia Governors’ races. Liberal commentators and others have taken to the airwaves, as well as the print media, and the internet, in full force.

For example, a blog by Linda Hirshman in the DAILY BEAST (“How the GOP Loses Women”, Nov. 1, 2009) wrote:

“Former Republican congressional candidate Dede Scozzafava cried real tears Saturday as she conceded that right-wingers had pushed her out of the race. Even though her local party had picked her to run in Tuesday’s election…her support for abortion and gay marriage made her too liberal for the new national party. Insurgent Republicans, led by Sarah Palin and Glen Beck, mounted a candidate on the conservative line, and fought Scozzafava so effectively that she turned tail and ran. She then endorsed the Democrat.”

In another November 1 article in THE POLITICO (“Fiasco, N.Y. Republicans deliver again”) Alexander Burns states: “The collapse of Scozzafava’s campaign…is simply the latest calamity to befall the New York GOP and an illustration of the utter ruin into which the state party has fallen.” Burns correctly points out that Republicans now control just two of New York’s 29 congressional House seats, lacks a single statewide elected official, and represents “only a minority of both chambers of the state legislature – the first time since the New Deal that New York has had a Democratic governor and legislature.”

The results of all of the November 3d elections deserve a close look by those of us who wish to see a resurgence of the Republican Party nationally. However, before the dust settles after those contests have been decided, a short analysis should be made of how the New York Republican Party could handpick a congressional candidate whose views are so foreign to the views of rank- and- file Republicans in the 23d District.

It is true that the New York Republican Party has recently suffered defeat after defeat despite numerous scandals within the Democratic ranks (Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned after being implicated in a prostitution scandal; and his successor, David Patterson, promptly admitted to a history of extramarital affairs and drug use). Some say that the New York Party is a victim of being located in a region that has recoiled from George W. Bush and a conservative national party. However, I would offer a different view, based on many personal observations and recent conversations with a group of New York Republican Party leaders who were seeking advice on how to revitalize their organization. In these conversations, I was astonished to discover that in 2008, the New York Republican Party had only three (3) full-time employees and an annual budget of less than $500,000. During my tenure as Chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, Mississippi had seven (7) full-time employees and an annual budget of over $1,500,000. The Florida Republican Party had over 60 full-time employees during the same period and an annual budget that dwarfed the budgets of New York and Mississippi combined.

These simple facts explain, loud and clear, what is wrong with the New York Party. It has no realistic party organization that listens to the people and can no longer provide a realistic support group for its candidates. Instead, it obviously relies on party bosses to select its candidates, rather than building the party from the ground up (which is when candidates APPEAR, rather than being chosen by the bosses).

When the New York Republican Party reforms itself and begins to raise real money for Party organization and its activities, Republicans will begin to win races once again. The good news is that this can happen rather quickly whenever the leaders of the Party become tired of losing and get serious.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


In the aftermath of the billions of taxpayers’ dollars that have been spent on President Obama’s stimulus package, as well as bailouts for the nation’s financial institutions and automotive industries, I suppose that we should never be surprised over what will come next as the President and his congressional allies proceed to remake America to fit their own socialistic views. Still, I was astonished when I read the following headline of Michael O’Brien’s September 20, 2009, article in THE HILL, a Washington publication: “OBAMA OPEN TO NEWSPAPER BAILOUT BILL.” Surely, I said to myself, America has not come to this – where we must try to bailout newspapers or any other organization that takes our fancy, all in the name of “the vital interests of the nation”.

According to O’Brien’s article, United States Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) had introduced S.673, the so-called “Newspaper Revitalization Act”. This proposed legislation would provide tax relief to news organizations, such as the NEW YORK TIMES and others, if they would convert to nonprofit organizations with Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. In other words, if financially troubled news organizations would abandon the necessity of making a profit in order to exist, the government would come to the rescue. No doubt, the government would also impose restrictions or establish guidelines on what news could be reported or commented upon, just as it has established guidelines for the nation’s financial institutions and automotive industries.

President Obama was quoted as saying that he would be “happy to look at” the proposed legislation and that good journalism is “critical to the health of our democracy”. He was also “concerned” about the growing trend of reporting – especially the political blogs, which he stated result in “not a lot of mutual understanding”.

After reading O’Brien’s article, I put it aside for further consideration at some later date, hoping the whole concept would go away. Then, on October 21, 2009, I came across an article by Seth Lipsky in the WALL STREET JOURNAL entitled “ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO SUBSIDIZE”. He reported that Leonard Downie, a former executive editor of the WASHINGTON POST (and one who had once publicly refused to vote so that he would not be improperly influenced in his zeal to report the news) had issued a written report for the Columbia Journalism School and came out in favor of government subsidies for the press. His report was entitled “THE RECONSTRUCTION OF AMERICAN JOURNALISM”.

In reading Lipsky’s article, I learned that direct government subsidies are indeed given to newspapers in some European countries, and that advocates of such a practice argue that government support for news reporting should not be precluded “anymore than it has for the arts, the humanities, and sciences, all of which receive some government support”.

There is no doubt that many news organizations are suffering financially at the present time. There is also no doubt that a free press is vital to our society or that freedom of the press and free speech is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In my view, a free press cannot be maintained in any news organization that accepts government subsidies of any kind. Whether Senator Cardin’s proposed legislation (or any similar legislation) should receive serious consideration is a subject that all of our news organizations, both locally and nationally, should be questioned about. They should publically comment on the subject – loud and clear – before any attempt is made to pass such legislation and before the general public is made fully aware of the implications of this latest attempt to “reconstruct” America

Friday, October 16, 2009



O Lord,

Let chaos ensue, so that thy servant might prosper. (Lawyer’s prayer)

It has been said that the redistricting process, through which controversies erupt among the political parties and various political factions in every state legislature, is a lawyer’s dream. And, in states which have bicameral legislatures, where the members fail to reach agreement on the reapportionment of both houses of the legislature (in compliance with one man, one vote guidelines), the courts will surely be asked to step in and do the job for them. The same is of course true for a unicameral state legislature as well.

Such a situation occurred in Mississippi in 1991, where, according to an article dated September 1, 2009, in the North Mississippi Daily Journal, “[r]acial politics, a speaker’s race and other factors prevented the Legislature from reaching agreement. The issue ended up in federal court with the legislators running in 1991 under the old districts and again in 1992 under the new districts.”

Court action was necessary again in 2001 when Mississippi lost a congressman and the boundary lines of Mississippi’s remaining four congressional districts had to be drawn, with each having roughly the same population figures. The Democratic House of Representatives in the State Legislature, and the Republican – leaning Senate, failed to reach agreement on congressional reapportionment and the courts, once again, drew the lines. However, the Democrats in 2000 and 2001 cleverly anticipated that the Mississippi Legislators would not agree on congressional redistricting and filed their lawsuit asking for judicial reapportionment prior to the time the legislators convened to consider redistricting. The Democrats also uniquely filed their case in the friendly confines of a heavily Democratic county judicial district and asked the locally elected judge to congressionally reapportion the entire State of Mississippi, should the legislature fail to agree on reapportionment when they convened months later.

After the Mississippi Legislature convened in 2001, the House and Senate deadlocked and failed, as anticipated, to agree on the new congressional boundaries. Another lawsuit was then filed by others in a federal court, and the State’s two major political parties were each named as defendants. The federal court was also asked to redraw the congressional boundaries.

All of the judicial maneuvering in 2001 resulted in two expensive trials - one before a local state court judge and the other before a three - judge federal panel. Both cases “went the distance” – one to the United States Supreme Court and the other to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Only after this titanic struggle were Mississippi’s current congressional boundaries finally drawn.

An ironic side show to the congressional litigation in 2001 occurred when the State Legislators did agree that year on the reapportionment of the Legislative Districts of their members in both the State House of Representatives and the State Senate. Through remarkable compromises among the legislative representatives of the two political parties and the Legislative Black Caucus, the Legislators drew crazy-quilt district lines for themselves that totally ignored regional and historic boundaries or geographical communities of interest.

The end result of the efforts of the State Legislators to redistrict themselves was shocking, to put it mildly. Over 100 “split voting precincts” were created in the legislative races in the Republican–friendly State Senate and over 400 such split precincts were created in the Democratic–dominated House of Representatives. Some of these “split voting precincts” were split four ways, which means that those precincts were split or fragmented in the legislative races to require four separate ballots for four separate legislative elections to be voted on in a single precinct, depending on the fragmented voter rolls prepared for that precinct – all in the name of the one man, one vote reapportionment guidelines. The end result, of course, was voter confusion, a nightmare for election officials, and an open invitation for voter fraud.

In summary, the Mississippi Legislature in 2001(also the year of the September 11, 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center)incredibly created Legislative Districts that resulted in split precincts in no less than one-fifth (1/5) of the State’s 2000 voting precincts. Additional precinct splits occurred later when the State’s 82 Counties were also forced to “reapportion” their local government boundary lines for the county elections occurring simultaneously with the legislative races.

Mississippians have had to live with the reapportionment actions of the Mississippi Legislature in 2001, and the same forces are in positions of leadership in the Legislature as they face a reapportionment of their Legislative Districts in 2011. Will the State Legislators in Mississippi in 2011, or the state legislators in any state, make statesman–like efforts to respect historical boundaries and geographic communities of interest as they approach redistricting in 2011 and 2012? Only their barbers and hairdressers know for sure.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I had intended to continue today my discussion of the redistricting process that will affect how we vote when the new census figures arrive in 2011. However, alarm bells went off for me when I read the October 5, 2009, article in the POLITICO by Manu Raju and Jonathan Martin, which is entitled “ GOP LEADERS TO MICHAEL STEELE: BACK OFF”. “According to multiple people familiar with the meeting”, several Republican leaders in Congress, including House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, delivered a “blunt message” to Michael Steele, recently elected Chairman of the Republican National Committee, to quit meddling in policy issues such as health care, and focus on fundraising, the upcoming governors’ races in New Jersey and Virginia, and other political matters.

According to “unnamed sources”, Steele was “taken aback” by the criticism of his actions and grew defensive in a “heated discussion”. He said that he was getting asked where the GOP stood on a range of issues and “wanted to respond to those questions.” Later, Republican Senators downplayed the differences of the participants in the meeting, but Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee stated that the “point” of the discussion was that elected Congressional Republicans should set policy, while the RNC’s role was to “create an environment in which Republicans can be elected to set policy.” He expressed confidence that Chairman Steele understood the proper role of the RNC and that…“ I think we see eye to eye on it.”

In a follow-up article in the POLITICO on October 6, 2009, Chairman Steele said that “the continuing unease over his leadership owed to some [Capital} Hill aides ‘who clearly had a bug up their you know what.”

Only those present know precisely what was said at that “private” session of our Republican leaders, which was apparently leaked to the press to further someone’s private agenda. However, one thing is crystal clear: if Republicans want to make large gains in the congressional elections in 2010, Congressional Republicans and the Chairman of the RNC (and their aides) must find a way to effectively work together to achieve that goal.

It is true that vast numbers of Americans are extremely upset and frustrated with the direction our country is taking under the leadership of the Obama Administration, both on the domestic front as well as in the foreign policy arena. Enthusiasm is building toward a consensus that we made a terrible mistake in the last election by placing our trust in leaders that wish to replace the principles upon which the nation was built with a socialistic form of government. Still, the people will not fully place their trust in 2010 in a political party where its leaders are not fully united and seem to be more intent on bickering among themselves, rather than on responding to the pleas of those attending the tea parties.

In the period leading up to the midterm congressional elections during the first term of the Clinton Administration, Congressional Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich, sounded the alarm and trumpeted their “contract for America” – a clear manifesto of what they were for and what they were against. They were aided in this effort by Haley Barbour, who was serving at the time as Chairman of the Republican National Committee. There was no highly publicized internal bickering because they were united in an urgent effort to re-establish Republican principles and defeat the Democrats. The Congressional Republicans and the RNC Chairman embraced each other and praised each other. They were united.

The leadership and unity displayed by the Congressional Republicans and Haley Barbour during the Clinton Administration is the type of leadership we need today in Washington. Without it, the Republican Party – and the nation – will continue to suffer.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009



A few days ago, I posted an article which reminded us that new population figures will probably be released by the U.S. Census Bureau in February, 2011. This new data will be used by state legislatures to create 435 new congressional districts and new legislative districts in every state legislature across America as well.

As I stated in my earlier post, this redistricting or “reapportionment” process takes place every ten years and must be based upon the “one man, one vote” doctrine espoused by the United States Supreme Court in BAKER V. CARR, the landmark decision rendered in 1962. This case ruled that each congressional district in each state must be roughly equal in population.

Subsequent rulings have established that state legislative districts in each state must have parity as well. For example, Mississippi has 122 members of its House of Representatives and 52 members of its State Senate. In these two bodies, all existing legislative districts must be recreated, based on population shifts, gains and losses during the past ten years in the existing districts.

The stakes are high as we approach the 2011 redistricting process, not just in Mississippi, but across the nation. The new congressional districts, to be created after the 2011 census data is made public, could easily determine whether the Republicans can make the necessary gains to weaken the power of the Congressional Democrats and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And, since the state legislatures in all fifty states will draw the new congressional districts, legislative redistricting will have a tremendous impact on future congressional elections as well. Legislative redistricting will also have a huge impact on state elections and will help determine which of the two political parties will maintain dominance in each state legislature for the next ten years.

In most states, legislative elections will not take place until 2012, well after the 2011 census data comes in. This lapse of time should give the legislative leadership of both political parties in most states a chance to reach some reasonable agreement as they work to recreate legislative districts based on one-man, one-vote guidelines. However, three states ( including Mississippi ) will have their legislative elections in 2011, and each legislator who runs for re-election in those states will likely make his/her intentions known before the new census data is released. Therefore, Mississippi Legislators, for example, will be trying to redraw legislative districts while they are running for re-election and will surely be trying to protect themselves and their personal election prospects when they vote on reapportionment. In such a volatile situation, political survival will be their main focus, as opposed to protecting regional and county boundaries in their districts. Moreover, the Democrats will be trying to recreate districts that will ensure that they maintain their dominance in the Mississippi House of Representatives, and the Republicans will surely be doing the same thing in the more Republican-friendly State Senate.

If the House and Senate legislative members fail to reach an agreement on redistricting in both houses, the courts will surely be asked to step in and reapportion the legislature. A lengthy court battle over reapportionment would be very expensive and could take years to complete.

Deadlock in the Mississippi Legislature over reapportionment has happened before, and the prospect that it could happen again is real. Such a result would not be in the best interests of the State or its people. More about that later in my next post: REDISTRICTING – PART III.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


In early 2011, new population figures will be released by the U.S. Census Bureau. This information will be used by the State Legislatures across America to help them create not only new Congressional Districts in all of the United States, but new House of Representative and Senate Districts in every State Legislature as well. Typically, the formulation of new redistricting plans at the state and congressional level fall to the state legislatures, and, in certain states such as Mississippi where there is a history of civil rights conflicts, the redistricting plans must be approved as well either by the U.S Department of Justice or the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

This redistricting process takes place every ten years in the United States because, pursuant to U.S. Supreme Court decisions, legislative and congressional district boundaries must be drawn according to the “one man, one vote rule”, which means that all such districts within a state must be roughly equal – not in size, but according to population. In other words, territorial integrity is a thing of the past, and gone are the days when a legislator would typically represent one or more counties in a rural area and another representative or senator would represent one county in a metropolitan area. This process is, of course, a departure from the concept adopted by our founding fathers when they created the U.S. Constitution. In the Federal system, the number of Congressmen representing a single state is based roughly on that State’s population. On the other hand, each state, regardless of population, elects two United States Senators.

Most experts and constitutionalists agree that the “one man, one vote’ reapportionment guidelines handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court have had some positive results. Deeply entrenched regional control over the statewide political process has been replaced, in many instances, by elected officials that are more representative of the people they are pledged to serve.

Unfortunately, the one man, one vote reapportionment guidelines have also had negative effects. It is not unusual for disgraceful “gerrymandering” tactics to be employed in the extreme when a legislature is called upon to draw new district lines. And it is no secret that these new district lines are often drawn in total disregard to county or regional interests but solely because of racial and political power considerations.

Legislative and congressional districts in today’s world, as stated, have often been drawn to protect those presently in office, or to punish elected officials who are not in favor with the leadership or do not belong to the political party in power. The result has been a crazy-quilt maze of legislative and congressional districts across this country that ignores regional and county boundaries and is created for the sole purpose of maintaining power. A casual glance at legislative district lines in Mississippi and most states would surely confound most of the founding fathers and should concern even the most hardened and cynical politicians who fear for the welfare of the country.

There is a contorted legislative district in the Mississippi Legislature that is located on the Gulf Coast where it is said that one can throw stones into three states and the Gulf of Mexico without leaving the district. There must be a better way.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Religious trends in America are important – and not just for ecclesiastical reasons. In his online newsletter, Karl Rove (who many refer to as the “architect” because of his spectacular success as a political advisor for President George W. Bush) presented to us a recent study by Trinity College in Connecticut, dated March 19, 2009, which concluded that the number of “non-religious”individuals in the United States is increasing dramatically. On the other hand, the number of “mainline Protestants” is steadily decreasing.

The Trinity College Study found that the number of Americans who stated that they have “no religion” increased from 8% in 1990 to 15% in 2008. During that same period, the number of “self-identified Christians” fell from 86% to 77%.

While these numbers are significant, the state-by-state and regional results are eye-popping. New England, where the electoral votes in every state went to Obama in the last Presidential election, now has the highest proportion of non-religious residents in the country. In Vermont, the percentage has risen from 13% in 1990 to 34% in 2008; in Massachusetts from 8% to 22%; and in Maine, from 11% to 25%.

It is also noteworthy that while the percentage of Catholics declined only slightly from 1990 to 2008 (26% to 25%), their numbers fell dramatically in the Northeast and Midwest. For example, Massachusetts (the home of John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic President of the United States), the Catholic proportion of the population dropped from 54% to 39%, while in Wisconsin, from 39% to 29%. Conversely, the Catholic proportion of the population has increased in the South and Southwest, probably due to Hispanic immigration (29% to 37% in California; and 23% to 32% in Texas).

In one of his March, 2009, newsletters, Karl Rove stated that the ongoing move towards a more secular America and the decrease in the number of mainline Protestants “…will have a tremendous impact on the nation’s culture and society.” I am certain that the impact Karl predicted in March, 2009, was felt in the November, 2008, Presidential elections and will continue to be felt in the future. This does not mean that Republicans should change their values, their message of economic and religious freedom, free from oppressive government control; or their support of a strong military and vigilant defense of the homeland. These messages continue to be endorsed by the great majority of the American people. What the poll numbers do tell us, however, is that in order to win nationally, Republicans must be united, more now than ever before.

The key to victory for Republicans in the future is unity - a real desire to defeat the Democrats rather than fight among ourselves, and articulate and credible candidates who can carry the Republican message to the people. The 2010 Congressional elections will be an important watershed event as we Republicans continue to fight the culture war and begin our march back from the wilderness.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


It is my impression that many of our citizens are thoroughly confused and frightened when they listen to the ongoing debate over the proposed overhaul of our national health care system. Many Americans would like to find a way to improve the system, but they do not want to succumb to a government controlled health care system that could bankrupt the country and create more problems than it would solve. Most Republicans have stated that we should resist “socialized medicine” in this country, while most Democrats say that we already have a socialized medicine health care system that serves a large portion of our population. They say that a “universal” health care system is a right that all Americans are entitled to, regardless of the cost to the taxpayers.

As I tried to think through this issue, I concluded that it would be a good idea to have someone who has had first-hand experience with a socialized medical system in another country to describe his experiences with the system and how it compares with American system as we now know it. With these thoughts in mind, I turned to my old friend, John Eames, of Olive Branch, Mississippi, which is just south of Memphis. John is a native of England, where he served his country with distinction in the military in the years following World War II. He moved to the United States over twenty years ago and is a retired businessman and developer. During the last several years, he has been an active member of the Mississippi Republican Party – first on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and, after Katrina, as a member of the Madison County Republican Party Executive Committee in central Mississippi. He and his wife, Karen, recently moved to Olive Branch to be near her family.

I asked John to write to me and compare the differences in the English and American health care systems. His letter is as shown below, and I strongly recommend that you read it and send it to others. I am certain that John’s letter will give you great insight into what we will eventually be facing if we adopt the Democrat health care plan, or any significant part of it.

John M. Eames
8125 Rosemont Drive
Olive Branch, MS 38654

Tel: 662-890-7186 Fax: 662-890-7057

Cell: 662-812-8909


September 2009

Re: Health Insurance and related topics

Dear Jim,

With the President and the Administration apparently setting out on a second push for “Obamacare” it seemed like an appropriate time to set out some thoughts from an expatriate “Brit” who experienced nationalized health care in England and is now a proud and happy American.

The National Health Service in UK (NHS) set out soon after World War II as a noble endeavor - universal health care for everyone. Unfortunately and with hindsight foreseeable, it did not take long to change and over the years has become a serious burden on the economy. It is now the largest employer nationally. There are more administrators than health providers. Further it does not provide the care and treatment that people expect and certainly not what we take for granted in the USA.

Under the NHS you can choose your General Practitioner as long as he/she is local. No house calls but office visits are fully covered. However if you need treatment from a specialist, or at a hospital be prepared for a long wait, sometimes a very long wait. At the age of 20 I was diagnosed with appendicitis, and told I could have surgery in 18 months. I still have my appendix at 79 years of age.

About ten years ago my sister needed hip surgery. She was in a lot of pain. To have the surgery under the NHS she would have had to wait an undetermined period of time. We calculated that the wait would be until she reached an age which actuarially would mean that she would not need a second replacement. Her BUPA insurance covered the procedure which was done promptly.

NHS hospital beds are always full. The staffs are overworked. Frequently the nurses are foreign and unable to converse with patients in English. Many of the hospitals are infected with “staph”. My sister recently declined treatment rather than stay overnight in hospital.

Next let me address the cost. Every citizen is covered from birth and starts paying premiums when they earn L5,200 per year. It is mandatory. No exceptions. Every subscriber/employee has approx. 10% deducted from their paychecks each month. In addition there is a 13% payroll tax on all employers. If you are self employed you pay both. Even though the total “take” of 23% covers Social Security as well as health insurance it is a heavy price to pay. Wow!

Add to this my understanding that there is not a fund in existence as there is for Social Security, Medicare etc. The monthly premiums have to pay all costs and expenses on a current basis.

Despite the cost, most citizens who can afford to enroll in private health care plans, such as British United Provident Association (BUPA). This means that they are paying twice - once to the NHS and also to a private insurer. I did so when I was in England, and members of my family who are still there continue to do so.

Dentists who practice under the NHS are scarce, and the treatment they give severely limited. My information is that you are entitled to a check up once every 10 months, and then only basic service such as extractions and fillings. No cosmetic work is covered. I paid for my dental work in UK but even that was light years behind the treatment available in USA.

Irrespective of whether you have private insurance, when an ambulance is called the patient will be taken to a NHS hospital. If the patient has private insurance he/she has to arrange to be transferred to a private hospital if that is their wish.

A few years ago my sister was involved in a serious accident which left her unconscious. A member of our family called and being her next of kin I flew over immediately. I found my sister, still unconscious lying in a NHS open orthopedic ward completely unattended, without even an IV for hydration. I knew she subscribed to BUPA and was able to have her transferred to a private hospital where she received good treatment in her own room. Happily she is still alive. Would she have been if left in the NHS hospital? We will never know.

To give credit where it is due, my granddaughter, who show jumps professionally, fell at a fence and the horse fell on top of her breaking her leg. She was taken by ambulance and admitted as an emergency. She received very good treatment at the NHS hospital. Her leg completely recovered and she was able to resume her show jumping career at which she has achieved an enviable share of success.

Turning to “Obamacare” I am not really sure what the full proposals are. Is anybody? However I do think there are improvements that should be made to our system. One that I consider essential is that health insurance must be portable, i.e. transferable between States and between jobs. Insurance must be obtainable on a national basis. We should be able to shop insurance companies in any state in order to obtain the cover we seek at the best possible price. This in itself will introduce the competition between insurance companies that does not exist under the present system that limits cover by State. It would be the same as auto insurance.

When my wife and I moved from Maryland to Mississippi we had a very difficult time finding health insurance for her due to “pre existing conditions”. Had the insurance been portable between States we would have been able to continue with the insurance she had had in Maryland for some years and the problem would not have arisen.
The same portability must also be available for insurance provided by employers. If an employee leaves for any reason he/she should be able to keep the insurance cover by assuming responsibility for payment of the premiums.

This raises another point. Employers get tax relief for the premiums they pay for their employees. Individuals do not get this relief. This difference should be addressed in any overhaul of health insurance.

I am not in favor of a “public option” whatever form it may take. It will inevitably become the insurer of last resort, and thus expensive for the government (taxpayers). Ultimately it will become mandatory, meanwhile having forced private insurers out of business.

Compulsion is not the American way. Americans prefer to have opportunity and incentives I came to the USA from England in 1981 attracted by the opportunities and work ethic. I appreciated the fact that I could work hard, make money and pay a reasonable fair share in taxes. These conditions did not exist in the UK.

An analogy I am fond of quoting - It is Friday afternoon and the factory is closing for the week. The workers are going home. In the UK the young worker sees the boss leaving in his Rolls Royce and says “I will get you down here.” In the USA as the boss leaves in his stretch Cadillac the young worker thinks “That is where I am going.”

I love America. I have had good times and hard times, but overall America has been good to me. In my late years I should like to give something back. If my life’s experiences can be useful I hope I will be called upon. I am not happy with the direction this country is presently headed but I know that with the right leadership it has the ability and resources to rebound. We must revert to fiscal responsibility. The deficits are unsustainable. No business, large or small, would survive if managed the way our economy is being administered. Overhaul of health care must not be allowed to add to the deficit.

One last thought - if Congress passes a “public option” as part of a health insurance overhaul, all members of Congress should have to enroll in it rather than continue to enjoy their current preferential plan.



Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Senator Edward Kennedy

I did not personally know Senator Edward Kennedy, although like millions of Americans, I have closely followed his noteworthy career of triumph and tragedy. Thanks to an extraordinary Inauguration ticket which I was given with the compliments of Senator Trent Lott, I was able to observe Kennedy at very close range for an extended period of time when George W. Bush was administered the oath of office as President of the United States for the second time.

In his later years, the Senator justifiably gained a reputation as a hard worker who was well informed on the issues coming before the Congress; and he was wildly popular among those that shared his paternalistic views of “noblesse oblige”. However, I was certainly no fan. Although he supported the nomination by Senators Eastland and Stennis of my old friend, Governor J.P. Coleman, to the United States Court of Appeals For The Fifth Circuit many years ago, Senator Kennedy more recently vigorously opposed the nominations of United States District Judge Charles Pickering and constitutional attorney Mike Wallace to that same Court. The fact that neither Pickering nor Wallace, both from Mississippi, was elevated to the Fifth Circuit was and remains a great tragedy. At long last, we Mississippians are fortunate that despite Kennedy’s opposition, Judge Leslie Southwick finally made it through the nomination process and now sits as a Judge on the Fifth Circuit Bench.

Senator Kennedy’s occasional eloquence, and his unbridled passion for centralized government control as the most effective way to improve the lives of the American people, made him a media darling and endeared him to the American Left – and made him an effective tool in the furtherance of their causes. By all accounts, he was also good company. Thus, he was able to strike deals or compromises with his Senate colleagues and to incrementally promote his liberal agenda.

I have read many articles and re-read passages from many of my books on the Kennedy family since Senator Kennedy died. I was particularly struck by the fact that he sent a letter to Pope Benedict in July, 2009, which was delivered by President Obama on his recent visit to the Vatican. The letter asked the Pope to pray for the Senator during his last illness, and the Senator cited many of his accomplishments while serving in the Senate, apparently as justification for his request. The letter, along with the Pope’s response through the Papal Office, were read at his graveside on national television.

One of my favorite articles on Senator Kennedy’s passing, which in my opinion gives proper balance to the Senator’s career and accomplishments, was written by columnist Cathy Young, of REAL CLEAR POLITICS, on August 28, 2009. It is entitled “KENNEDY’S BELIEF IN BIG GOVERNMENT”, and the link is shown below for your consideration.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


According to a recent article in the August 22, 2009, Wall Street Journal, Carly Fiorina, the former Chairman and CEO of Hewlett Packard Company, has recently registered a campaign committee called “Carly for California”.

It is being formed, apparently, in preparation for Carly’s potential 2010 challenge against California’s longtime Senator Barbara Boxer, the Democrat super-liberal who recently publicly dressed down a U.S. Army Officer appearing before her Senatorial Committee for referring to her as “ma’am” instead of “Senator” in answer to one of her questions. As I recall, the Senator was caught on national television saying that she had spent many dollars earning the right to be addressed as “Senator” and was offended when the Officer instead referred to her as “ma’am”. (Apparently, the Senator had “forgotten” that soldiers are schooled to address their superiors as “sir” or “ma’am”, as a sign of respect for the position they hold).

According to July, 2009, Rasmussen Poll, Senator Boxer leads Ms. Fiorina by only 45% to 41% of likely voters in a match-up between the two. Although Republican Party registration in California fell to only 31.4% of voters in 2008 according to the Public Policy Institute of California, Democrats are taking the potential challenge to Senator Box seriously. Democratic Party registration in California has also fallen to 44.4% in recent years, and the percentage of independent voters has grown significantly.

At a time when California is confronted with huge and seemingly unsolvable economic problems, it is possible that the business credentials and a well financed campaign by Ms. Fiorina could have significant appeal to the voters in the Golden State. On the other hand, her removal as CEO by Hewlett Packard’s Board of Directors in 2005 is a negative. Her other potential negatives, according to the Journal, include the fact that she is moderate on social issues and is pro-choice on abortion. She would face a popular conservative Assemblyman in the Republican Primary if she wins.

Still, the idea of somehow defeating Barbara Boxer in California is an intriguing one, because Senator Boxer’s political base is the extreme left-wing of the California Democratic Party. Her defeat would send shock waves across the country and signal a resurgence of the Republican Party nationally.

I had the opportunity to meet and visit with Carly Fiorina at a small dinner held at the State Chairmen’s Republican Party Meeting in New Mexico in 2008; and I introduced her the next morning at the Meeting when she spoke on behalf of John McCain. She came across to me as a tough, no-nonsense businesswoman with a strong handshake; and she is an exceptionally effective stump speaker. As I listened to her speech, it was clear that she strongly believes in conservative business principals and would unquestionably be an effective and knowledgeable candidate on economic issues when California’s unemployment rate, as of July, 2009, stands at 11.9%.

The problem facing California Republicans in 2010 is the same problem facing Republicans in many states. In the upcoming Congressional elections, can Republicans find a way to temporarily reconcile their differences on social issues and join together to defeat the Democrats? Can they support their nominees in an enthusiastic and energized way, whether the Republican nominees are conservative or moderate? If Republicans are to make a comeback in the upcoming 2010 Congressional elections, Party unity is the key. As Benjamin Franklin said: “either we hang together or we will hang separately."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Robert Novak, R.I.P.

Nationally syndicated columnist Robert Novak died Tuesday, August 18,2009. He wrote his last column in late 2008, in which he said that he was afflicted with a terminal illness and could not continue. Novak's column, when coupled with his writings in partnership with Roland Evans (the "Evans-Novak Political Report")became one of the longest running nationally syndicated columns in American History.

As chronicled in his memoir,THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS,Novak appeared on CNN's "Crossfire" and "The Capitol Gang". He later became a central figure in the Valarie Plamne CIA leak case, when he was the first to publish the name of the CIA employee in his column.

According to Bob Novak, he began his jounalistic career as a political moderate but became more conservative as time passed by. Although his column was not carried in our local newspapers in recent years, I was able to read it in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, which also served our community. As I read the news daily, I increasingly found that I would instinctively look for the Novak column to find out what was really going on in Washington. He was hard on liberals and conservatives alike and had a dislike for "hypocritical, posturing politicians". Still, he had a special respect for Ronald Reagan. In his book he stated: "Although I was no lapdog for Ronald Reagan, I applauded much in his Presidency - far more than any other President in my twenty-four years in Washington".

I met Bob Novak twice, once when he appeared with the Capital Gang at a party in New York honoring Clarke Reed, one of the founders of the modern Mississippi Republican Party; and then again when he spoke to a breakfast for Mississippians in Washington when George W. Bush was inaugerated President for his second term of office. His wife joined him on that occasion - again at the invitation of Clarke Reed, his longtime friend.

As much as I enjoyed reading Robert Novak's columns, I never really had any affection for the man until I read his Introduction to a re-published edition of WITNESS, by Whittaker Chambers, a non-herioc figure and an admitted member of the Communist Party in the first half of the twentieth century. Chambers eventually turned away from the Communist Party and exposed, in public hearings, the urbane and sophisticated Alger Hiss as a high-ranking employee of the State Department in Washington who was also clandestinely an active Communist.

In his Introduction to WITNESS, Novak stated that the struggles of Chambers, as written in that book, changed his life forever. In displaying his sympathy and respect for Chambers, who endured long and loud public denunciations throughout the public hearings in Hiss affair from many in Washington, Robert Novak revealed himself to be an American Patriot. R.I.P.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Republican Primaries

In Mississippi, Republicans proudly claim seven of the eight statewide elected officials (in addition to both U.S. Senators and one of the four Mississippi Congressmen). They are:

Governor - Haley Barbour
Lieutenant Governor - Phil Bryant
Secretary of State - Delbert Hosemann
Treasurer - Tate Reeves
Auditor - Stacey Pickering
Insurance Commissioner - Mike Chaney
Commissioner of Agriculture - Lester Spell

All of these Republicans are outstanding public servants, and I am certain that some of them aspire to higher elective office during Mississippi's 2011 statewide elections. The problem they will face is how to engage in competitive Republican Primaries without spliting the Party and handing election victories to the Democrats.

Raucous Republican Primary elections are a relatively new phenomenon in Mississippi, but we had two recent Congressional races where the Republican Primary elections were violently acrimonious. In Mississippi's First Congressional District, the loser in the primary refused to endorse the winner, leading to a Democratic general election victory. In Mississippi's Third Congressional District, charges and counter-charges of fraud were the headline issues in the Republican Primary. In apparent disgust, Republicans nominated one of the candidates who declined to engage in mud-slinging - Gregg Harper of Brandon. Harper was ultimately sent to Washington after a general election victory over a weak Democrat and had a huge crowd at his election-night victory party.

Mississippi Republicans are justly proud of their statewide elected officials and of the progress their Party has made in recent years. But the vast majority of them do not want their statewide officials to act like Democrats and conduct ugly Republican Primary campaigns in their quest for higher office. Such a spectacle in our statewide elections, when most of our candidates are running, would split the Party, leave lasting scars, and inflict permanent damage from which the Party would not soon recover.

My advice to our 2011 Republican candidates is to ignore the consultants and staffers who have a private agenda and tell us that "politics is a contact sport, even in Republican Primaries." They also tell us that "negative campaigns win elections."

These statements may or may not be true in general election campaigning, but my guess is that in Mississippi, Republicans will not tolerate negative campaigning in the 2011 primary elections.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Recommended Reading

I came across this article by John Fund in the Wall Street Journal called Why Palin Quit - Death by a Thousand FOIAs. Fund discusses an under-reported reason that led Sarah Palin to step down from her seat in Alaska's Governor's mansion.

Greetings From Mississippi

After having served on the Republican National Committee and as State Republican Chairman for Mississippi for almost eight years (and as a County Chairman for several years prior to that), I am pleased that the internet allows me to stay in touch with so many wonderful Republicans across the United States that I have come to know and have genuine affection for, as well my other friends and associates locally. Hopefully, many new friends will read this blog and share their thoughts with me as we begin the process of rejuvenating our Republican Party and rescuing our great nation from the downward socialistic spiral that it is now taking under the leadership of the Democrats and others who have lost their way. They wish to transform America into something similar to a European- style democracy that has an economy heavily dependent upon government, and we see evidence of this fact occurring before our very eyes with every daily newscast.

The purpose of this blog is to share with you my views and conclusions on how to rejuvenate our great Party; and to develop a dialogue with you on the subject. I support no candidate for national office at this time and am more interested in finding ways to rejuvenate the Party, because I know that is the key to winning elections in the years ahead. After many years of service to the Party, I have some concerns.

Perhaps a dialogue between ordinary Republicans, such as you and me, can also save us from the intrigues and destructive tactics of those special interest groups, lobbyists, “advisors”, and staff operatives within our own Party that have also lost their focus – those who would seek to destroy fellow Republicans who are perceived to stand in their way, and prevent them from gaining more power, access or financial reward. Theirs is the politics of destruction. Ours should be the politics of rejuvenation of the Republican Party. They act like Democrats, whereas we should be focusing on what is best for our country.

I am reminded of the comments a few years back of a great Mississippi Republican Governor who, on the occasion when our State Party had formally paid off the debt on our State Party Headquarters Building, said: “Governors come and go, but the Party is there forever.” What he meant, of course, was that the key to our political successes in the past has been the principles our Party stands for, and our unity of purpose. Once we regain our unity of purpose and once again embrace and publicly define our core beliefs, candidates such as Ronald Reagan with great personal magnetism will be encouraged that we have our act together and will appear once again to effectively communicate our values to others. I have found that the best candidates are not chosen. THEY APPEAR.

We rank and file Republicans must make clear to our existing Republican leaders that we will no longer tolerate ugly Republican Primaries, but are interested in what the candidates stand for. When this happens, destructive “leaks” to the press by campaign operatives against a Republican opponent or rival and general infighting among Republicans will diminish, just as surely as roadside bombings diminished in Iraq when General Petraeus instituted the “surge”. For example, we should never again tolerate the kind of treatment Sarah Palin received from operatives within her own Party after the last Presidential election. Whatever we might think of her as a future candidate for President, there should be no place in our Party for those who would commit such blatant violations of Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment. Our job is to compete with the Democrats, not fight among ourselves.

In the spirit of full disclosure, you should know that although I am no longer a member of the RNC, I publicly supported Mike Duncan for re-election as our National Chairman. However, that election is over, and we must help our new Chairman, Michael Steele, succeed.

It was my privilege to host Chairman Steele a few years ago, when he was Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and was in Mississippi campaigning for Haley Barbour when Haley first ran for Governor of our State. We spent a day together, had a nice luncheon in his honor, visited several talk-radio venues, and wound up the evening at the Clear Channel radio show of Charles Evers, a member of our State Executive Committee; where Michael made a great pitch to Mississippi African- Americans on the virtues of the Mississippi Republican Party and its candidate for Governor. Working together, we won that election, and we can win again across this great nation.

I look forward to visiting again with you soon, and please let me have your comments.

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