BIPEC stands for the Business and Industry Political Action Committee. The organization is very powerful in state politics despite the organization’s non-profit 501 (c) (6) status with the Internal Revenue Service. BIPEC gives grades to state legislators and members of the Mississippi Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. The grades are based on legislators and judges who BIPEC says are pro-business and support free enterprise. The organization says it is composed of businesses, professionals and more than 30 trade associations. While BIPEC cannot make contributions, have a PAC or take an active political role, to say it is not a conservative political organization is like saying the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center are not liberal organizations that favor Democrats. The director of BIPEC is a former staffer at the Mississippi Republican Party.
Some Republicans in the Mississippi House got dinged for making the conservative vote
While BIPEC has traditionally been known for its advocacy of lower taxes, the organization’s vote ratings for the 2017 session of the Mississippi Legislature has concerned, and even angered, a number of conservative Republicans in the House. One of the key votes used was HB 480 which would have designated 70 percent of voluntary taxes collected on internet sales by out of state firms to be directed to the Mississippi Department of Transportation. Mississippians who support increased funding for highways and bridges know that a per gallon fuel tax won’t fly with the legislature. Even stranger in the BIPEC ratings is the fact that four House Republicans opposed HB 480 and it was rated a “vote against business.” Yet, these four GOP members received an A grade from BIPEC. Nine other House Republicans voted against HB 480, their only “vote against business” and yet received an overall B grade for the session. BIPEC called this part of their grading as the “subjective portion” of their ratings. BIPEC said that 35 business and professional leaders (mostly lobbyists) participated in the ratings. Nationally there are
Hinds County lawsuit shows at least one, and probably more Rebel boosters are nervous
Without question, some Ole Miss alumni and boosters are nervous about their names being made public in connection with their role in the NCAA allegations of illegal recruiting involving the football program. One booster, “John Doe” filed legal action against the University of Mississippi and the Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL). The suit was filed May 23 in the Hinds County Chancery Court and heard by Judge Denise Owen. “John Doe” sought to enjoin Ole Miss and IHL from publicly divulging his name in connection to allegations made against him regarding his involvement in football recruiting cheating. As the legal action was filed in Hinds County, it was not hard to surmise that “John Doe” is from the Jackson area. On March 22 the WeidieReport filed a Freedom of Information request with the University of Mississippi with a copy to the IHL commissioner. The request was for the names of any alumni/boosters Ole Miss had disassociated from the Rebel athletic programs as the result of the NCAA allegations. After several email exchanges and phone conversations, on May 3 the Assistant General Counsel at Ole Miss sent me a cover letter and copies of four letters that had been sent to alumni/boosters notifying them of the school’s decision to disassociate them from Ole Miss athletic programs. The names of the boosters, (a.k.a alleged cheaters) were redacted. I thought at the time the blacking out of the names in the letters was akin to changing the names to protect the guilty. Steve Robertson, who covers Mississippi State athletics for Scout.com, has been tenacious and like a bulldog, no pun intended, in digging into the NCAA allegations against the Ole Miss football program. When Robertson’s FOI request resulted in him receiving the same redacted booster names, Robertson filed a complaint with the toothless Mississippi Ethics Commission. And I emphasize the word “toothless.” It would have made more sense, but also been more costly, to file action in a chancery court to force Ole Miss to release the names of the
First Baptist Church in Jackson offers prime parking across the street from the State Capital for lobbyists and other visitors to the Capital. From the reserved parking signs shown below, the giant law firm of Butler Snow has very special prime parking. Butler Snow has more than 20 offices across the United States in addition to offices in London and Singapore. These “Reserved for Butler Snow” signs turned a lot of heads during the regular session of the 2017 Mississippi Legislature. I assume the reserved parking will still be available to Butler Snow lobbyists during the upcoming legislative special session on June 5. In some political and legal circles, Butler Snow is jokingly known as “The Evil Empire.” The firm is no joke and wields a lot of political power in the state. Former Sen. Trent Lott and former Gov. Haley Barbour are affiliated with the firm. I’ve been told Butler Snow does pro bono legal work for First Baptist and might be the reason for their special parking privileges. I have not been able to determine if that includes special prayers for Butler Snow from the pulpit on Sundays.
Condoleezza Rice: “Don’t sanitize history by taking down monuments”
The Washington Examiner recently reported that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized efforts to tear down monuments to Confederate leaders because she doesn’t believe in sanitizing history. The first black woman to serve as secretary of state told the newspaper, “I am a firm believer in ‘keep your history before you’ “. Rice added, “When you start wiping out your history, sanitizing your history to make you feel better, it’s a bad thing.” She added our nation’s founders should be viewed in the context of their time instead of through the prism of modern values. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slave owners, but the United States is the greatest nation on earth because of these founders. Robert E. Lee was a great American despite being the commander of the Confederate Army. Of course, the good sense exhibited by Rice will not impress Mayor Mitch Landrieu, a Democrat, who pandered to black New Orleans voters by leading the charge, with approval from the city council, to take down the statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard and Confederate States President Jefferson Davis. Instead of taking down those statutes, Landrieu would better serve New Orleans if he did something about the rampant violent crime in the city. If you are waiting to read the comments of Rice in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Daily Mississippian, Mississippi Today or the Times Picayune in New Orleans, you will have a long wait. Mississippi Today is an interesting case. Alan Lange, the owner of the political site Y’all Politics, wrote a column taking Mississippi Today to task for being a “tax shelter extraordinaire”. He ridiculed the news site’s claim to be nonpartisan. I agree. Mississippi Today is about as nonpartisan as The New York Times, Washington Post and MSNBC.
A slow news day or just another chance to take a shot at Trump?
The headline on Jerry Mitchell’s story in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger said, “Comey leaves LA in a Mississippi jet.” And that’s a big deal? After being fired by President Trump as FBI
National debt is approaching $20 trillion ($20,000,000,000,000.00) – Drops in the bucket add up to a full bucket
The national debt of the United States is approaching $20 trillion dollars. That’s right – $20 trillion. Let’s put all the zeroes on $20 trillion – $20,000,000,000,000.00. That is almost $155,000 in debt owed by every man, woman and child living in this country. Now, let’s talk about Essential Air Service. EAS has always been a sore spot with me. This is a program the U.S. taxpayer subsidizes to small airports serving less-urban areas. The program currently subsidizes four airports in Mississippi – Tupelo, Meridian, Hattiesburg-Laurel and Greenville. I’d like to note an excellent report on EAS written by journalist Steve Wilson of Mississippi Watchdog.org. Mississippi Watchdog is part of a 50-state national organization sponsored by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. It is a network of news websites reporting on state and local government issues. The stated mission of the organization is to hold politicians and bureaucrats accountable for handling of taxpayer dollars and to focus on government waste. The highly regarded Columbia Journalism Review says the Watchdog sites are “impressive”. If you’re not receiving the emails of Wilson and reading the web site, I strongly recommend it. Wilson often does a better job of investigative reporting than much larger news organizations in the state. He has especially done a fine job reporting on the boondoggle that is better known as the Kemper County energy plant built by Mississippi Power Company. But let’s
Or, attend Stanford and find your inner weirdness
A number of years ago, I attended a men’s NCAA basketball regional in Charlotte, NC. In the opening game, Mississippi State defeated Stanford before losing in the regional finals to Duke which had beaten North Carolina in its opening game. One of my sons and I cracked up laughing at the Stanford mascot, a Tree. For those who don’t remember, at one time the nickname for Stanford’s athletic teams was the Indians. Stanford is a great academic institution, but the Indians nickname was certainly not satisfactory to the p.c. police at the California school. Stanford changed its nickname to the Cardinal, the color, not plural Cardinals as the baseball St. Louis Cardinals, NFL football Arizona Cardinals or the Cardinals of the University of Louisville. My wife and I went to the recent NCAA Women’s Final Four in Dallas. We got in our seats early to see the first semifinal game between Stanford and South Carolina. In the second game the Mississippi State women shocked the basketball world by ending the 111 game winning streak of defending national champion UConn. As the Stanford women came on the court, I turned to my wife and told her she was about to witness the worst, most stupid, goofiest mascot in the history of college sports – the Tree. She agreed as she watched the Tree dance up and down the court like a ballerina. Even better were the Stanford students wearing “Fear the Tree” shirts. I don’t think it struck much fear in the hearts of the South Carolina women’s team. While Stanford is quick to say the Tree is not the school’s “official” mascot, it is what it is. Only in California. I also agreed with my wife’s comment, “Attend Stanford and find your inner weirdness.”
The Left-Coast Never Disappoints
Through an Open Records request, Judicial Watch obtained records of a committee of the California Legislature. According to Judicial Watch, the law firm of former Obama U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr., will be paid $25,000 per month for 40 hours work each month. This $300,000 annual payment will not be for legal work but to provide “legal strategies regarding potential actions of the federal government (i.e. Trump Administration) that may be of concern to the State of California.” In January, California legislative leaders announced the hiring of Holder to assist them in any federal challenges to state policies such as climate change and immigration. Never mind, however, that California has major state budget problems.
More than 30 years ago, I was editor and publisher of a weekly newspaper on the Gulf Coast that was owned by Gannett. A prominent citizen and former mayor, who had lost his re-election bid, died. I had to write the customary obituary editorial for the late mayor. I was never his fan. He was often nasty and mostly rude to the city aldermen that served with him. I decided not to be a hypocrite and the best I could say in my editorial was that he was a man who very much cared for the city of Ocean Springs. Earlier this week I recalled the mayor when I learned Bill Minor had passed at the age of 93. I was sad to hear of his death, and there is no question Minor made many contributions to Mississippi during his long career. After someone texted me Tuesday morning about Minor’s death, I went to the Clarion-Ledger online edition where I saw the headline on reporter Jerry Mitchell’s story. The headline was, “Bill Minor remembered as a model for journalists.” From my perspective, I would never consider Minor as a “model for journalists.” His left-wing politics was one thing, but I objected far more to his liberal bias and his frequent carelessness with the facts. During my days as an editor and syndicated political columnist, I was once on a panel at Ole Miss with Minor, the late Norma Fields of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, and a TV anchor from Jackson. Every member of the panel was asked who they were supporting in the race for governor that was taking place at the time. I went last, but Minor and the two other journalists righteously wrapped themselves in a self-serving cloak of objective journalism. They refused to tell the students who they would vote for in the upcoming election. When it was my time to answer, I told the students not only would I tell them the name of the candidate for whom I would vote, I proceeded to tell them, correctly, who each of the other journalists supported. An outraged Minor then chased me across campus after the panel ended and demanded to know why I answered how I did.
A bitter man
Following another speaking appearance before a large group of students at Ole Miss, I was approached by a young black student. She told me she had heard Minor speak a few weeks
George H. W. Bush – A Perfect Fit For “The Greatest Generation”
The term “The Greatest Generation”, coined from the best selling book written by Tom Brokaw, is often used to describe those Americans who grew up during the Great Depression and fought in World War II, both on the battlefield and those on the home front who contributed to the war effort. Brokaw correctly said these Americans were the “greatest generation that any society ever produced.” My point leads to a book written by Pulitzer Prize winning author Jon Meacham. It is entitled Destiny and Power, The American Osyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush. Destiny and Power is my recommended read for this month whether you are a Republican or Democrat. It also doesn’t matter if you thought Bush was a good president or not. Regardless of your political affiliation, the forty-first president is a very decent man of character and great humility. Bush was from a wealthy, prominent family, but as soon as he finished high school, he joined the Navy. His plane was shot down on a combat mission in the Pacific. Bush was picked up by a submarine and was the only member of his crew to survive. He may have made mistakes during his public career, but he is one of those Americans of “The Greatest Generation” who did many things not for power, money, fame or glory. Throughout his life, Bush did most things just because it was the right thing to do. Bush truly deserves a place as a member of “the Greatest Generation.” If you read Meacham’s book, I promise you will enjoy it. The great historian David McCullough calls Destiny and Power a “first-rate book.” The book is an inside look at a man who served as a congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, envoy to China, chairman of the Republican National Committee, head of the CIA, vice president and President of the United States. I completely agree. It is a first-rate book and it is the story of a very noble American.
Will Ross Bjork and Hugh Freeze survive? Will Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter be strong enough to handle his AD, coach and the mess in Oxford?
Is there anything that stirs more passion in Mississippi than a heated political discussion or campaign? Of course there is and the easy answer is SEC football, in particular the rivalry between Ole Miss and Mississippi State. When NCAA allegations were announced against Ole Miss athletics about a year ago, a firestorm of denials, finger-pointing, defiance, charges of persecution by the NCAA, a lot of spin control by Ole Miss and much, much more erupted. The volume increased recently with additional and very serious allegations against Ole Miss football. New Chancellor Jeff Vitter, Athletic Director Ross Bjork and Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze filmed a 20 minute video to discuss the allegations, how Ole Miss would respond and announced a self-imposed bowl ban for 2017 and that the school would forfeit almost $8 million in SEC postseason revenue. While discussing the video with a friend, I made the mistake of calling it a press conference. I was quickly corrected. It was not a press conference and reporters were not invited so no questions by the press took place. The situation at Ole Miss has received widespread national coverage. While the final outcome may not be known for another year, the overwhelming consensus is the Rebels will suffer more severe penalties from the NCAA. It has been argued the NCAA wants to make an example of Ole Miss and that the university’s pre-emptive self-imposed penalties were a self-serving appeasement that won’t satisfy the NCAA. The most interesting speculation is how the investigation will impact Vitter, Bjork
(Editor’s note: Wednesday afternoon Andrew Puzder withdrew as President Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Labor)
The Hill newspaper in Washington and other media are reporting the fight over President Trump’s Cabinet has moved from new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to Andrew Puzder, Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Labor. Democrats, teacher unions and other liberals targeted DeVos in an attempt to block a Cabinet selection. The Senate confirmation of DeVos ended in a tie until Vice President Pence broke the tie by voting for DeVos. Now, Senate Democrats view Puzder as their best chance to block a Trump Cabinet member from confirmation. Puzder, the CEO of a fast food chain, is thought to be vulnerable on several points. More important from a Mississippi angle is State Treasurer Lynn Fitch is expected to be named to a subcabinet position in the Labor Department if Puzder is confirmed. Puzder’s path to confirmation starts with hearings this week. From what I have read, most of the allegations against Puzder are bogus.
Attention Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss: There is no “assault” on the media
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mississippi statehood, the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss will sponsor several programs during the spring semester. According to “HottyToddy.com”, a site covering Ole Miss and Oxford, the Feb. 17 program is titled “Assault on the Media.” The four journalists who will discuss the “growing hostility” toward the press will be Clarion-Ledger investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell, cartoonist Marshall Ramsey of the same newspaper, Ronnie Agnew, the executive director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting and former executive editor of the Clarion-Ledger, and Kate Royals, formerly of the Clarion-Ledger and now a reporter for the web newspaper Mississippi Today. I repeat, there is no “assault” on the media. People are just sick and tired of the left-wing bias of the press. That is not an “assault”. Poll after