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.

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