Archive for September, 2009

RR: Raising the dead to vote

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

A report released by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann alleges illegal assistance, voter intimidation, improper registration, and voter fraud in this summer’s municipal elections. The Greenwood Commonwealth identified one violator as State Senator David Jordan. Here are some excerpts from my column this week that looks at the report.

Hosemann reported allegations that the New Albany city clerk directed absentee voters on whom to cast their ballots and used law enforcement to instruct voters to cast absentee ballots. Another allegation said absentee ballots were opened early and a police officer took the ballot back to a voter with instructions to cast the ballot for a different candidate.

Hosemann also noted allegations in Macon that voters received absentee ballots without requesting them, only to have the city clerk and a candidate show up at their homes and mark the ballot for them.

Another serious allegation involved Canton where a candidate sent a letter to Congressman Bennie Thompson alleging several hundred voters registered at vacant buildings or lots and instances of dead people voting.

Almost 16 percent of the called in complaints concerned the violation of the 150-foot prohibition against campaigning around a precinct. The legislature created this campaign free zone to guard against voter intimidation and the disruption of the voting process.

The Greenwood Commonwealth identified one of these violators as State Senator David Jordan, who was running for reelection for his other job as Greenwood city councilman. Observers from the Office of Attorney General and the Secretary of State, in addition to a reporter from the Commonwealth, witnessed Jordan violating the 150-foot campaign free zone around his Ward 6 precinct. The Commonwealth reported he continued this behavior after being reprimanded by a representative of the Attorney General.

Other reported violations in Greenwood include a candidate speaking to a voter while casting a curbside vote, and poll workers assisting voters who had not requested assistance.

The Mississippi Republican Party currently has a suit pending against the Leflore County Election Commissioner and a poll manager for similar behavior during the 2008 election.

The report also listed allegations of intimidation of voters by law enforcement in Arcola, Gautier, Macon, New Albany, Tutwiler and Mantachie.

A reported violation in Fayette involved a person who was allowed to register and vote on Election Day. Registration is closed weeks before an election.

You can read the full column online at the Madison County Journal: Perry / Raising the dead to vote

RR: The MTV President

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

I had some fun this week with my column ( that looked at the collision of celebrity politics and pop culture.  Here are some excerpts.

Every year the MTV Video Music Awards program has some controversy whether true or created that attracts more attention than the actual program. (There is a certain irony to MTV still giving video awards when so little of its programming consists of videos.) Sunday night, rapper Kanye West crashed the stage while 19-year-old pop-country star Taylor Swift was giving thanks for her first Moonman award.

West, with mic in hand, interrupted Swift and began lauding Beyonce whose video had lost to Swift in that category. (Later, Beyonce showed real class when she won another category and invited Swift out to give thanks.) West was escorted from the facility only after Swift’s mother - I guess the Nancy Pelosi to the Joe Wilson of this story - dressed him down. West later apologized in his fashion, first in a blog post and again from the set of the Jay Leno Show.

Within a day, the two stories collided on Internet video remixes of Obama’s health care speech with West’s interruption substituted for Wilson’s remarks. Wilson’s outburst and West’s behavior, combined with the foul mouth tirade of tennis star Serena Williams, had everyone - politics, pop culture, sports - talking about civility.

Then, Monday evening, Obama was sitting for an interview with CNBC. Terry Moran, an ABC reporter, overheard the conversation and hit Twitter, “Pres. Obama just called Kanye West a ‘jackass’ for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won. Now THAT’s presidential.” [Video of Obama calling West a "jackass"] Turns out, the conversation was “off-the-record” and ABC apologized to CNBC and the White House. (This wasn’t West’s first presidential moment. At a 2005 Hurricane Katrina benefit concert, West made headlines when he announced, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”)

Wilson misbehaved. He might be correct that the health care bill was contrary to what Obama was saying, but he expressed it in the wrong way.

West misbehaved. I might agree with him that Beyonce’s video was superior to Swift’s video, but he expressed it in the wrong way.

Obama? Well, calling West a “jackass” off-the-record might have been the best way to do it. And I agree with the sentiment as well as the delivery.

You can read the full column online at the Madison County Journal: Perry  / The MTV President

RR: Health care reform or snake oil

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

I didn’t watch all of President Obama’s address last night, and honestly the parts I saw I had already heard on the radio from his pre-speech release. I suspect it will not have the impact he hopes for. Today folks are talking about the speech, tomorrow is the commemoration of 9/11, Saturday will see thousands of Tea Party activists on the National Mall, then we’re back into next week.  I expect any bump in the polls will be short lived - mostly because relatively few people watched the speech. It all comes down to the votes and right now, the whip count doesn’t look good for him and the Democratic leadership.

Another reason is the momentum against health care reform : those against health care reform have a twenty point election intensity advantage over those who support it.  In other words, those against it are REALLY against it, and those for it really don’t care that much.  Its hard to care about health care reform over ten years when you’re thinking about your job and the economy today and tomorrow.

This week I write about health care reform.  Here is an excerpt:

Americans don’t begrudge a snake oil medicine show rolling into town promising a cure to arthritis, influenza, gout, a weak libido, tooth aches, a poor metabolism, acne and a humped-back. What with the charismatic salesman, scarlet banners, a dancing bear, carnival music and testimonials it can be quite entertaining. They might even buy a few bottles of elixir which if nothing else could provide a toddy before bed. Most see the miracle cure salesman for what he is: a profiteer not a physician.

Obama and the Democrats are politicians, not physicians. People see it clearly.

Some voters bought the hope that Obama would be different, a post-partisan president. They even bought his $787 billion stimulus elixir that promised to prevent unemployment from exceeding 8 percent. The current unemployment rate is 9.7 percent and growing. That was one expensive toddy.

The American people simply do not believe the advertised benefits of health care reform.

You can read the full column at the Madison County Journal online: Perry / Health care or snake oil

Healthcare & Energy Small Business Forum

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Governor Haley Barbour is hosting a Small Business Forum focusing on “Healthcare & Energy for Small Businesses.” The forum is sponsored by the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the Mississippi Economic Council.

September 15, 2009
Jackson Convention Complex
1:30pm - 4:30pm
RSVP: or 601-359-3150

Tort reform needed in health care reform debate

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Lex Taylor, Chairman of Mississippians for Economic Progress, has authored a piece on the necessity of tort reform as a component of health care reform.  Here are some excerpts:

Don’t take my word for it. Democrat Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus wrote in a health care reform paper, “Careful reforms of medical malpractice laws can lower administrative costs and health spending….A serious effort at comprehensive health care reform, then, should address medical malpractice.” Baucus argues tort reform would lead “to improved patient safety” and move physicians “away from the costly practice of defensive medicine and toward the best quality care.”

Before our reforms, Mississippi witnessed a decrease in available medical care because malpractice insurance rates discouraged new entrants to the medical field, encouraged seasoned physicians to seek early retirement, and made specialty practices (like OBGYNs) cost prohibitive. Following the passage of the Mississippi Tort Reform Acts of 2002 and 2004, the frequency of medical liability litigation diminished and Mississippi’s largest medical liability carrier reduced premium rates and issued premium refunds in the double digits annually. Mississippi, like other states that limited noneconomic damages, witnessed insurance premiums plummet and doctor shortages dissipate.

Physician shortage is a real threat to America’s health care. The Association of American Medical College predicts a doctor shortage of 124,400 by 2025. If you believe there are 46 million Americans currently unable to receive medical care that will enter the health care marketplace with President Obama’s reforms, then you can agree we will need more physicians or we will all face severe shortages. Medical malpractice reform opens the door to more doctors. Without tort reform, we’re sure to see patient lines getting longer.

Civil litigation reform can improve the climate of health care practice in America as it did Mississippi. Doctors practice less defensive medicine thus lowering overall industry costs. Patients and doctors have improved patient relationships. Lawsuit abuse no longer pushes doctors into early retirement removing valuable experience and expertise from the medical field. More doctors mean greater choice, opportunity and patient access.

A fair health care reform bill should consider federal limits on non-economic and punitive damages, limits on lawyers’ fees, elimination of joint liability to ensure only those at fault pay, shorter statutes of limitation, mandatory pre-litigation filings, and “safe harbors” for doctors in compliance with the same protocols required in government backed coverage.

We cannot sue our way toward lower health care costs. Tort reform will lower health care costs, reduce waste, enhance the quality of care, encourage new doctors to address patient access, and increase choice and competition. Health care reform without tort reform is no reform at all.

You can read the full column online at the Madison County Journal: Taylor / Tort reform critical to health reform

RR: Katrina recovery

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Last week I wrote about some personal memories of Hurricane Katrina’s roar into Mississippi. This week, I look at the relief and recovery efforts by Mississippi’s people, federal delegation, and governor. When Katrina hit, I was working for then Congressman Chip Pickering so I discuss his efforts in particular, but as I said in my column, there was plenty of work to go around and “In the days following Katrina, hundreds of Mississippians were being heroes every hour.” You can read the column online at the Madison County Journal: Perry / Katrina recovery

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