Archive for November, 2009

RR: “Kings of Tort” documents fall of Scruggs, Minor

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

The forthcoming book “Kings of Tort” by Alan Lange and Tom Dawson is a “must-read” for anyone interested in Mississippi legal and judicial politics.  Here is an excerpt from my column this week, but to get the meat you have to read the full thing at the Madison County Journal: Perry / ‘Kings of Tort’ document downfall

And to get the real meat, you have to read the book.

“I’ll take care of it.” Those five words from Dickie Scruggs sealed his fate, and begin chapter one of “Kings of Tort: The true story of Dickie Scruggs, Paul Minor, and two decades of political and legal manipulation in Mississippi.” Captivated, I read it in two sittings.

This book by Jackson businessman and Y’all Politics publisher Alan Lange, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Dawson, starts with all the nervous intrigue, betrayal, and corruption of a John Grisham thriller.

Another book about the downfall of tort titan Dickie Scruggs is forthcoming from acclaimed retired journalist Curtis Wilkie, Associate Professor at the University of Mississippi. “Fall of the House of Zeus” benefits from interviews with Dickie and Zach Scruggs denied to Dawson and Lange. Wilkie acknowledges a friendship with Scruggs.

Lange and Dawson will be launching a book tour on December 2 at the Pinnacle Building in downtown Jackson from 5:30pm to 8:30pm, sponsored by Lemuria Books. They will address the Stennis-Capitol Press Corps noon luncheon on December 7 at the University Club, also in downtown Jackson. More information about the book, and all the documents cited in the book, can be viewed online at

RR: Grisham’s newest thriller

Friday, November 20th, 2009

John Grisham’s latest book, “Ford County” features seven short stories and is dedicated to Representative Bobby Moak, a Democrat from Lincoln County, Mississippi. I make a few comments on the books (including a quick teaser on each story) and discuss a fundraiser Grisham hosted for Moak and what that possibly means for his future in the legislature. You can read the column online at the Madison County Journal: Perry / Grisham’s latest thriller

More on Thune - Ending TARP

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Chris Cillizza of The Fix at also covers John Thune: The discovery of John Thune

For months — if not years — the Republican/conservative smart set has been looking for a fresh face on which to hang their hopes and dreams.

South Dakota Sen. John Thune may be that person.

Cillizza notes some of the campaign strength Thune has assembled, first for his 2010 reelection and then, if he chooses to flip the switch, start his 2012 campaign.

Thune has also put together a solid core of well-regarded political advisers that could quickly shift from his re-election in 2010 to a presidential run in 2012. That team is led by Justin Brasell who managed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (Ky.) re-election race in 2008.

Brasell is considered among the top campaign managers in the country and wouldn’t be biding his time in Sioux Falls if there wasn’t at least the possibility that Thune had something larger planned in the future. Thune’s consulting team — Glen Bolger is the pollster, Scott Howell is the media consultant — is also top-notch.

Does all of the above mean that Thune is running for president in 2012? No. But, it does mean that should he flip the switch to consider such a race, the work he has done — from a policy, fundraising and staffing perspective — put him in place to be taken very seriously in a field that remains very much a work in progress.

And, it’s why Thune is the Fix’s 2012 darkhorse.

Mississippians know this team. Glen Bolger directed polling for Senator Roger Wicker’s ten point thump of Ronnie Musgrove in 2008.  Scott Howell managed campaign media for Chip Pickering. And Justin Brasell, a Batesville native, earned his stripes in Mississippi politics before making a national name for himself in Republican campaign circles.

But beyond politics, Thune’s focus on policy is what will excite the Republican faithful. Politico (John Thune seeks to stop TARP spending) and the Wall Street Journal (TARP’s Moment of Truth) are both describing Thune’s continuing efforts to begin walking the country away from reckless spending.

Readers of this blog or my column are likely tired of me repeating Haley Barbour’s maxim that “good policy makes good politics,” but this is another example as Thune earns conservative respect not with speeches or pandering, but with bold action and proven principles.

Thinking about 2012? Think Thune

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Governor Haley Barbour always tells Republicans to stay focused on 2010 and not to get to wrapped up on who will be our nominee in 2012.  He is right.  But if you’re looking for someone to keep on the radar screen, think Thune.

David Brooks writes in the New York Times about Senator John Thune of South Dakota. You’ll remember him as the guy who defeated then Democratic Leader Tom Daschle in 2004.  He is a solid conservative and would make an attractive candidate and to boot, his state borders Iowa.  For now, stay focused on the next year of politics, but keep an eye on Thune.

RR: Dems join GOP

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

During the Clinton Years (1993-2000) Republicans very effectively contrasted the differences between the Republican and Democratic parties. Newt Gingrich and Haley Barbour used that contrast in politics and ideas to capture the Congress for Republicans for the first time in forty years. And the Republican National Committee worked to translate those differences down to street level - where all politics is local.  The RNC kept a running total of Democratic elected officials who switched to the GOP from constable to congressman and that list grew to more than 440.

Last week, six elected Democrats in Mississippi switched to the Republican Party including a district attorney over four counties, and the Simpson County sheriff. This brings to the total of seven elected Democrats switching to the GOP in Mississippi since the innauguration of President Barack Obama.  It is time for the RNC to start counting again.

You can read about these switchers and what it means, if anything, for the Democrats online at the Madison County Journal: Perry / Dems join GOP

Barbour Delivers Weekly GOP Address

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Governor Haley Barbour gave the weekly Republican address this Saturday.  He spoke about the Virginia and New Jersey races, health care policy, and the need to refocus attention on jobs.

RR: Evers: Let me earn it

Friday, November 6th, 2009

I’ve met Charles Evers a number of times over the years, but when I sat down this week to interview him, it was the first time I had really gotten to know him and ask some questions I had wondered about.  He has too many stories to tell in one post or one column and highly recommend reading his autobiography: “Have No Fear: The Charles Evers Story.

A story I didn’t have room for in my column this week involved Charles Evers supporting the nomination of Judge Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  60-Minutes was in Mississippi doing a story on Pickering, who stood up to the Klan in the 1960s only to have his racial sensitivity questioned by partisan Washington Democrats forty years later. From a transcript of the broadcast:

But when Clarence McGee, who heads the NAACP in Hattiesburg, sat down for 60 Minuteswith a Pickering supporter, Charles Evers, brother of murdered civil rights leader Medgar Evers, the NAACP president got an earful:

Charles Evers:You know, maybe you don’t know, you know that Charles Pickering is a man helped us to break the Ku Klux Klan. Did you know that?

Clarence McGee: I heard that statement made.

Charles Evers: I mean, I know that. Do you know that?

Clarence McGee: I don’t know that.

Charles Evers: I know that. Do you know about the young black man that was accused of robbing the young white woman. You know about that?

Clarence McGee: Nope.

Charles Evers: So Charles Pickering took the case. Came to trial and won the case and the young man became free.

Clarence McGee: I don’t know about that.

Charles Evers: But did you also know that Charles Pickering is the man who helped integrate his churches. You know about that?

Clarence McGee: No.

Charles Evers: Well, you don’t know a thing about Charles Pickering.

Charles Evers says what happened next didn’t make it on the program, but explains a lot about the opposition. He asked NAACP President Clarence McGee why he was opposing Pickering and McGee told him it was because the national NAACP called down and told him to do so. 

Evers served as NAACP Field Secretary for Mississippi after his brother Medgar was assassinated doing that job. He was the first black mayor in Mississippi since Reconstruction. He supported Kirk Fordice, Haley Barbour, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. You can’t put him in a box and if you tried, he’d fight his way out.

Brian Perry interviews Charles Evers on October 30, 2009 at WMPR in Jackson.

Brian Perry interviews Charles Evers on October 30, 2009 at WMPR in Jackson.

You can read my column at the Madison County Journal online: Perry / Evers: Let me earn it

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