State Auditor Stacey Pickering is currently serving six months active duty with the Air National Guard. His spokesperson originally announced that he would serve three months. For that he should be congratulated and we appreciate his military service. But serving on active duty for six months is not the same as other Mississippi National Guard members who are called to active duty to serve overseas in combat situations or those who fulfill their duty by serving one weekend a month and a two weeks each summer. Pickering is an Air Guard chaplain serving in Nevada, not overseas in a combat zone. There is also an assumption that as a chaplain Pickering requested his active duty status rather than being called up. While Pickering should be commended for his service in the Air Guard, he is AWOL from the fulltime job he was twice elected to by Mississippi taxpayers. Pickering’s annual salary as state auditor is $90,000. With his officer’s rank, years of service and allowances, his total military pay while serving on active duty is easily a minimum of $70,000 per year. Add his Guard pay to his salary as auditor and Pickering is making $160,000 per year during his six months of active duty. Some private sector companies, when guardsmen or reservist employees are called up for active duty, pay the difference between what the employee makes while on active duty versus what their salary would be in the private sector. Again, it is worth noting these persons are being paid by the private sector, not taxpayers. It is also no secret that both Pickering and State Treasurer Lynn Fitch, prior to the legislative session earlier this year, lobbied for a pay increase for their current positions because they were having trouble “making ends meet”. One response is pretty obvious. While I agree all statewide officials’ pay should be increased, both Pickering and Fitch knew what they would be paid when they became candidates for their respective state offices. Another point is that even if the pay is increased for all statewide elected offices, it should not be increased during the terms of current incumbents. Several times I commented to people that outside of some school superintendents, principals and other public school administrators, not one K-12 teacher in our state earns $90,000 per year. Some of responded to my comments by noting that not many Mississippians, period, make $90,000 per year. Pickering pulling down at least $160,000 per year while he is on
I have never been a fan of Louisiana Republican Bobby Jindal. When I worked on Capitol Hill, I was not a fan when the super ambitious Jindal was a member of the U.S. House. I was not a fan when he was elected governor, and before he dropped out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination, he was near the bottom of the list of original 17 Republican candidates. However, I was all on board with Jindal when the former governor was interviewed by Ole Miss alum Shepherd Smith of Fox News after three Baton Rouge police officers were ambushed and murdered. Regularly when on the air Smith, who leans to the left, makes no secret of his love and loyalty to the Rebels. He attends Ole Miss football games and has appeared on the giant video board at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. He did nothing to enhance his journalistic reputation when he interviewed Jindal. Several times during the interview after the police shooting, Jindal used the phrase, “all lives matter.” Almost in anger, Shepherd said the term “all lives matter” was “derogatory” and was a “very divisive phrase.” Jindal, to his credit, stuck to his guns and said we should value all human lives. In the wake of the interview and his treatment of Jindal, many conservatives strongly criticized Smith. Jindal was accurate and correct using the phase, and Smith should receive low journalistic marks for the way he the handled the interview.
Ted Cruz still doesn’t play well with others
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is still catching flak for his snub of Donald Trump and his non-endorsement speech at the Republican National Convention. Some conservatives have gone so far as to label the speech as a F Trump speech. During a recent meeting of some of the major financial backers of Cruz’s presidential campaign, many voiced their objections to his speech at the convention. Cruz still harbors presidential ambitions for 2020 or beyond. A lot can change in the future, but in my opinion, Cruz’s presidential ambitions have been rightfully crushed. His convention speech was not different from his entire career as a member of the U.S. Senate – he doesn’t play well with others.
Lynn Fitch sounds like a Democrat at NCF; maybe rumors are true she will be supported by Jim Hood and Mike Moore
Several people attending the Neshoba County Fair for all the political speeches commented that State Treasurer Lynn Fitch sounded more like a Democrat than
Fiction in the news pages of The Washington Post
Recently I received an email from a college fraternity brother who lives in Charleston, attaching a Washington Post story written by Neely Tucker. He commented, while the Post does not seem to tire of bashing Republicans and Donald Trump, while praising Hillary Clinton, The Post still found time to publish an extensive story titled, “Inside the hottest gay bar in the most homophobic state in the nation.” The story by Tucker noted that the “hottest” gay bar is in Jackson, and of course, the “most homophobic state” is Mississippi. What is not mentioned is that Tucker attended both Mississippi State and Ole Miss although he remains a faithful supporter of Bulldog athletic teams. Tucker’s late father, Dr. Duane Tucker, was long associated with MSU. Before his retirement, Dr. Tucker rose to the number two position for MSU’s extension service. Prior to being with The Washington Post for almost 15 years, Neely Tucker also worked for the Miami Herald and Detroit Free Press. First let’s start with the headline on Tucker’s story, the “hottest gay bar” in Mississippi. WonderLust is the name of a bar located in north Jackson. Funny, living in Jackson for about eight years I have never heard of WonderLust. Neither had several other people I contacted who have lived in Jackson for all or most of their lives. However, I must admit that I am not inclined, or do not have any desire to frequent the “hottest” bar for the LGBTQ community. The headline also notes that WonderLust is located in the “nation’s most homophobic state”, which according to Tucker, would be Mississippi. I wonder what factual basis or documentation there is for that assumption? I would guess the assumption is because Mississippi is often noted to be located in the so-called “Bible Belt” and is known, as Tucker points out, as a very religious state. Of course, labeling someone or a state as “homophobic” is sort of a liberal’s version of McCarthyism. Just because a person does not endorse or approve of the LGBTQ lifestyle does not mean they are homophobic. Tucker further writes that WonderLust is located in the Fondren section of Jackson. WonderLust may technically be in the boundaries of Fondren, but the location is actually in a seedy, high-crime area.
Fondren is not Jackson’s “gayborhood” or “predominantly black”
Despite the many problems of Jackson, Fondren is a trendy, artsy, developing section of Jackson that features many popular restaurants, bars and retail shops. It is not known, as Tucker writes, as Jackson’s “gayborhood” and a “magnet for a good bit of openly LGBT
(Editor’s note: Packing up, moving, unpacking and getting my computer on line again has prevented any recent commentary from being published. I apologize to readers of the WeidieReport and I’ll do better now that I’m up and running.)
New Orleans is truly one of America’s great cities. While I have lived the majority of my life in Mississippi and Washington, D.C., I was born in New Orleans. I graduated from both high school and college in Mississippi, but also attended high school and college in Louisiana as well. My oldest son was the first member of the Weidie family to be born outside of New Orleans (Pascagoula). In many ways, post-Katrina, New Orleans is better than ever. After the devastation of Katrina, the economy has roared back and thanks in no small part to charter schools, K-12 public education has made great strides. Tourism is booming and major conventions are booked far into the future. However, a very serious and dark threat hangs over the city. Violent crime in NOLA is out of control. Unlike some cities, the violent crime does not know the usual boundaries. In Mississippi, south Jackson and parts of west Jackson are very high crime areas as opposed to the rest of the city. Even in Washington, D.C., the worst crime is mostly confined to southeast D.C. and those areas south of the Anacostia River. In New Orleans, violent crimes frequently occur in very nice neighborhoods such as the Garden District, along beautiful St. Charles Ave., Uptown, on Canal Street and in the main areas of the French Quarter. Mayor Mitch Landrieu should worry about major crimes in NOLA instead of spending $1 million dollars to take down a statue of Robert E. Lee and even more money to take down more statues honoring other Confederate generals. Just a few months ago some of NOLA’s famous restaurant and lounges were the scene of armed robberies. The restaurants, as well as their customers, were victims. This is not to even mention the more than $5 million it cost to fix a huge sinkhole at the foot of Canal Street. Sooner or later there is going to a terrible tragedy involving numerous tourists or others attending one of the many conventions that are held in the city. NOLA is on borrowed time if something is not done to bring violent crime under control.
Many fans of Mississippi State are very happy with every report about the NCAA investigation of Ole Miss. On the other side of the coin, Ole Miss Rebel fans are making hay about MSU’s response to the problems of State’s number one recruit, five-star rated Jeffery Simmons. A video of Simmons beating up on a woman went viral on the internet. But the issue took a political tone because social media comments by Clay Chandler, an Ole Miss grad, former reporter for The Clarion-Ledger and currently director of communications for Gov. Phil Bryant. Some may recall Mr. Chandler wrote many of the Clarion-Ledger’s stories dealing with the 9-2 vote of the college board not to renew the contract of former Ole Miss chancellor Dan Jones. On social media last March, Chandler posted that the college board “fired a cancer patient.” Chandler, the son of former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice David Chandler, didn’t learn his lesson after his previous posts on social media. After Mississippi State finally made its decision about football star Simmons, Chandler went on a very critical Twitter rant about MSU’s decision. That might be expected of an Ole Miss alumnus, but it was very poor judgement on the part of a key member of Gov. Bryant’s staff. After a statewide furor, Chandler deleted his tasteless tweets about the Jeffrey Simmons matter. None the less, it had to be huge embarrassment for Gov. Bryant that one of his top staff members used such incredibly poor judgement. Bryant has a lot major contributors and supporters who are Mississippi State alumni. I’m confident that MSU President Mark Keenum and other State officials let Gov. Bryant know that Chandler’s comments were not appreciated and were certainly unprofessional by a member of Bryant’s staff.
What grade does MSU get for handling the Simmons matter?
After a long decision process, MSU announced that Simmons will be allowed to enroll in school and participate in football if certain conditions are met. State has been roundly criticized by most of the national media. Did State make a mistake in the final determination the university made regarding Simmons? You will hear very strong opinions on both sides of the matter. In my opinion, it is hard to fault the decision because it was MSU that gathered all the facts in the Simmons case before allowing his enrollment. However, a couple of assumptions seem very reasonable. If Simmons meets all other conditions of his admittance to State, he will only miss the season opener against South Alabama. Give me a break. Even if Simmons is an impact player in the SEC like many say he will be, Simmons and many other starters could miss the South Alabama game and the Bulldogs will still win. In MSU’s official statement on the Simmon’s decision, it said that Simmons was waiting resolution on misdemeanor charges where, “in an effort to break up a domestic fight between his sister and another adult woman, he used physical force against one of those involved in the altercation.” I agree Simmons deserves a second chance, but in the video, Simmons is shown pounding the woman who is already on the ground. I also doubt if the statement was the product of State’s sports information department. I’m sure it was written and approved at the highest level of the president’s office.
What one word best describes the administration of Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber? ROTTEN
Congressman Thompson should worry about his constituents, not the state flag
It was not really a surprise recently to see the front page story in the Clarion.Ledger entitled, “Mississippians rally against the state flag.” A picture of the rally on Capitol Hill in Washington showed U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson speaking at the rally. Thompson, the senior member of the Mississippi’s delegation in the House, was elected in 1993. Most of his congressional district includes the Mississippi Delta, the poorest area of a poor state. Since he was elected almost 25 years ago, have the lives of his Delta constituents improved? The answer in a resounding “No.”
School board aims to stop having valedictorians
According to National Review magazine, a school board in North Carolina has initially approved a policy that would stop its high schools from naming class valedictorians and salutatorians because “competition has become very unhealthy.” Also, in the same online edition of NR, it was noted that students at John Hopkins University, a distinguished university, are protesting the school’s plan to start giving actual letter grades to first-semester freshmen. For a number of years first semester students have been given “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” grades. According to some John Hopkins students, giving freshmen actual letter grades would “create a mental-health crisis on campus.”
What if you daughter came home and said she was marrying and having sex with the ocean?
A professor at Santa Monica College recently took a group of students on an “EcoSexual Sextravaganza” trip. If you don’t know what that means, the students planned to marry the ocean and were encouraged to “consummate” that marriage. One of the professors organizing the trip said it was to get the students to love the environment more through “exocentric passions and even lust.” One person said the recent event was actually his second marriage to the ocean so it was “kind of like renewing my vows for me.” The students were specifically instructed to think of the marriage as one involving sex and they should “make love to the water.” Wow, the value of a college education. If you have a son or daughter considering what college they will attend, please put Santa Monica College on their list. We really don’t have higher education problems in Mississippi, do we?
In a previous post on May 16, I stated my opinion that Sam Hall, former executive director of the Mississippi Democratic Party, now executive editor of the Jackson Clarion.Ledger, is still a partisan hack for Democrats. That opinion was based on a lot of things that I seen in the left-leaning newspaper. In this case my comments were based on a particular commentary of Hall in which he wrote that there was a “bankruptcy of leadership” among statewide officials and the Mississippi Legislature. In a Tweet, Hall responded, “Partisan hack calls me a partisan hack. Irony lost on him.” Maybe so, but there is a big difference between writing a blog of political commentary and being the executive editor of the state’s largest newspaper. Hall’s comments also confirmed something I have known for many years. Journalists talk about politicians being thin-skinned, but editors and columnists like to dish it out but don’t like it when they get it back in return.
Liberal campus Gestapo leads anti-free speech march
Jason Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a columnist for The Wall Street Journal. In the May 4 WSJ, Riley wrote a column entitled, “I Was Disinvited on Campus.” His column is certainly worth reading. It should also be noted Riley is not only a conservative, he is a black conservative. In April, Riley was invited by a professor to speak at Virginia Tech this fall. Last week his invitation to speak was rescinded because the department head of the professor who invited Riley objected to the speaking invitation. Other VA Tech faculty also objected to Riley being allowed to speak. So much for another case of liberal tolerance, support for free speech, and open mindedness to other views. Riley’s entire column should be read, but I particularly found interesting his comments about a book written by two political scientists. The book is entitled, “Passing on the Right.” The research of the two professor shows that in the humanities and social sciences, about 18 percent of college professors identify themselves as Marxists. That is nearly double the percentage of professors that describe themselves as Republicans. Does this really surprise anybody? (Note: Because of widespread national coverage by print and broadcast media, Virginia Tech has backtracked and now re-invited Riley to speak on their campus.)
Contributions and enrollment fall at the University of Missouri
Most people remember the turmoil at the University of Missouri when the inmates took over the asylum. Mob rule was the order of the day when students demanded the resignation, and got it, of the school’s president and chancellor. They were joined by 32 Mizzou football players who said they would not practice and would also boycott games until the president and chancellor stepped down. It is now worth noting that two Missouri dormitories have closed because of decreasing enrollment and contributions to the university have taken a nosedive. Should we be surprised?
Tea Party’s circular firing squad takes aim again
The Tea Party sends out frequent emails asking people to join that organization or make contributions. Currently, one of their hot button issues is to seek money to help them
Former ED of state Dems still pushes the party line
As I have mentioned before and most people are aware, Jackson Clarion.Ledger executive editor Sam Hall previously served as executive director of the Mississippi Democratic Party. During his tenure as editor, Hall has made it pretty obvious he intends to make the state’s largest newspaper an organ of the Democrat Party. The headline of Hall’s Sunday column was “Bankruptcy of leadership among state leaders.” It was a huge headline on the front page of the Perspectives section. I agree with a couple of text messages and emails I received about Hall’s column. One comment was do you think the Gannett newspaper would ever hire a former executive director of the Mississippi Republican Party? I think the answer is pretty obvious although I don’t know of any former EDs of the Mississippi GOP who have a journalistic background. Even if one of them had very impressive newspaper credentials, I think the answer is again obvious. During the most recent legislative session, Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Speaker Philip Gunn and the Mississippi Legislature did not meet the policy expectations of Hall. One person suggested if that is the case, Hall should run for political office. During many years in journalism, I knew many reporters who fashioned themselves to being smarter and more capable to govern than election officials. Very few took that opportunity to run for elected office. Another comment I received said that Hall is “nothing more than a partisan hack.” I fully agree. Also, it is clear the newspaper is out of step with many readers as The Clarion.Ledger continues to lose circulation. Perhaps even m0re interesting regarding the newspaper’s credibility is the circulation it claims in the Mississippi Press Association’s Newspaper Directory does not match up with the newspaper’s annual report it is required to file with the United States Postal Service. So much for objective journalism.
It is no secret that incumbent State Treasurer Lynn Fitch is making noise about running for attorney general in 2019. On May 1, Clarion.Ledger political editor Geoff Pender, one of the state’s best journalists, wrote an early preview about the possibilities for the 2019 statewide races. He mentioned Fitch is said to be “all in” to run for AG. But at the end of his column about the 2019 contest for AG, Pender wrote something that had to make Fitch cringe. He said former AG Mike Moore and some other Democrats might feel that for Democrats, the AG’s race three years from now might be a “lost cause” for their party. Hood and his predecessor as AG, Mike Moore, might consider supporting Fitch. This is based on the assumption incumbent AG Jim Hood is testing the water to run for governor but is unlikely to seek a fifth term as AG. Given the scenario that some Dems think no other member of their party could win the 2019 race, there have been numerous reports that both Moore and Hood would support Fitch and she would welcome their support. In that event, Fitch would certainly solve a lot of fundraising problems in a statewide race for AG. Moore and Hood would be in a position to raise a lot of campaign money for Fitch from their trial lawyer buddies, both inside and outside of Mississippi. However, even quiet support from Moore and Hood would also be a very tricky situation for Fitch in a Republican Primary. With no incumbent running for AG three years from now, the GOP will have a very competitive primary. There’s little doubt Mike Hurst, the Republican nominee against Hood last year, is expected to be a candidate. There would certainly be other strong Republicans, such as Rankin County DA Michael Guest, who would enter the race. Fitch’s election as AG would certainly solve a personal problem for Fitch. Her current salary as treasurer is $90,000 per year. AG pays $108,960. That would almost be a $20,000 per year increase for Fitch. Along with State Auditor Stacey Pickering, Fitch has made it known that both of them are claiming they have a hard time making ends meet at their current salaries. For that, I don’t have much sympathy. They knew what the jobs paid when they ran for their respective offices. I have commented to several people that outside of some school administrators like superintendents and principals, there’s not one K-12 teacher in the state making $90,000 per year. Usually the
Most internet sports sites contain a lot of nonsense, but a comment on a site dealing with Mississippi State athletics may even exceed the usual dribble that can be found. On the site, SixPackSpeak.com, one reader noted “there are rumblings that an MSU alum is being vetted as Trump’s vice presidential candidate.” That MSU alum would be U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican. The writer of the post added, “Marsha Blackburn is fairly popular amongst the GOP establishment, and she has ovaries.” I could easily argue against the fairly popular assessment. He added, “Those are two things (GOP establishment and female) that Trump needs in a VP.” The source of the Blackburn for VP rumors are easy to guess – either Blackburn herself or Republican Congressman Steve Palazzo from South Mississippi. When John Boehner stepped down as Speaker of the House, you will recall the Republican Caucus voted overwhelmingly for Paul Ryan as Boehner’s successor. Blackburn received only one vote. That vote was cast by Rep. Palazzo. Blackburn is originally from Jones County and graduated from Mississippi State. After graduation from MSU, Blackburn moved to Tennessee and was elected to Congress in 2002. In the very unlikely event Trump would select Blackburn as his VP candidate, it would make Sarah Palin look like the greatest Republican VP nominee in history. I don’t think Trump will be elected, but if so, and his running mate is Blackburn, I can’t think of anything more frightening than Blackburn being just a heart beat away from being President of the United States.