Saturday, September 29, 2007

Lt. Governor and the State Senate

Let us take the scenario that Dewey Bryant is elected (God forbid!!) Lt. Governor. He will have the power to appoint all the State Senate chairmen. Now he has made it perfectly clear he will appoint ONLY REPUBLICANS as committee chairmen. (Of course, he has flip-flopped on that issue. Please see for more info.)

Right as of this moment, the GOP controls the State Senate 27-25. If that holds up in the general election, Dewey can make all Republican appointments. He's a very partisan Republican and if the State Senate is GOP-controlled, making those appointments makes political sense. To the Republican victors belong the spoils.

But what if the Democrats take over the State Senate. I have a good friend who is a Republican State Senator (He is unopposed for re-election). He was a Republican when all the Republicans in the state could fit in a telephone booth. He knows his politics. He told me the GOP will lose four to six seats in the upper chamber. He even ticked off the Republican seats the Democrats could win. He would be absolutely stunned if the GOP maintained its majority. Now remember: This State Senator is a very strong conservative Republican.

Looking at a gain of six seats, the GOP would have 21 seats to the Democrats' 31. So now let's get this straight. There are 31 Democratic State Senators yet Dewey baby is going to appoint all Republicans to chairmanships? Huh? Are Martians going to dig up all that gold in my back yard?

Here is what could happen (and my Republican friend doesn't think it'll happen, but he doesn't discount the possibility). The Democrats are so pissed off they tell Dewey to kiss their grits and refuse to accept his appointments. (It would be interesting to see how blacks would like being shut out of the legislative process. Remember: State politics in Mississippi has gotten a lot more polarized in the past few years. And there is bitterness in both parties.) So they decide to caucus and say they are rejecting his appointments and vote on a straight-party line vote to reject Dewey's choices. The Democrats may throw a bone or two to some Republicans, but essentially they'll control the legislative process. Dewey will just preside over the State Senate, but the Democrats will just flip Dewey the well-deserved bird.

There is a possibility of the reverse: Jamie Franks being elected and a Republican State Senate. But Franks is wise enough he can't be a die-hard partisan. He said he would make appointments that would "reflect Mississippi." He would appoint Democrats, Republicans, whites and blacks to committee chairs even if the Democrats took control of the State Senate. And he would defuse some of the partisan bickering that has affected the State Legislature.

Dewey has painted himself in a real corner (I keep telling you this guy is an empty suit and is dumb as a brick. I know the guy.). If he keeps his word and appoint only Republicans to committee chairs, he will piss off the probable Democratic Senate and there could be a partisan revolt against him (Just what Haley needs to get his programs through. Dewey won't be Haley's "wing man". He'll be Haley's dodo.). On the other hand, if he flip flops (Surprise!) and appoints chairmen that "reflect Mississippi" (i.e., appoint blacks and white Democrats), he'll piss off the red-meat Republicans whom he will need when he runs for governor in 2011 or re-election as Lt. Governor.

Believe me, Jamie Franks would do a much better job than Dewey. He would keep the waters of the State Senate smoothly flowing. With Bryant, there would be constant turbulence. But if Dewey were elected, it would be a raucous four years. There would be no dull moments with that empty suit and pretty boy being Lt. Governor (Just make sure he has plenty of Dippedy Doo for his gorgeous hair that is coiffed at Monique's.).

1995 Redux?

In 1995, there was no doubt Republican Governor Kirk Fordice was going to win by a landslide. The big question is how many Republicans he would sweep into office with him. Then-Republican Chairman Billy Powell predicted good-sized Republican gains. Indeed, there was even talk of the GOP taking over the State Senate. The Republicans already had the Lt. Governor's post and there was talk of the GOP winning the Secretary of State's, Treasurer's and MDAC Commissioner's posts. Democrats were depressed and were bracing for the worst.

Election Day turned out to be a lot different. Kirk Fordice was re-elected with 55.9% of the voted. He was the ONLY Republican to win a statewide post. Republican incumbent Lt. Governor Eddie Briggs went down to defeat to Ronnie Musgrove. Republican candidates for Secretary of State, Treasurer and MDAC Commissioner got no better than 39% (You read right.) of the vote. As for those big GOP legislative gains, Republicans actually lost seats in the State Senate but gained some in the House. Billy Powell hurt GOP hopes by calling Democratic conservatives "liberals", a charge that badly backfired.

So now it's 2007 and we are getting the same rhetoric again. I do believe incumbent Republican Gov. Haley Barbour will be re-elected. But unless he diverts some of his money to Republicans running for the State Legislature, he won't have any coattail effects. A lot of Republicans (and Democrats as well) think a governor has coattail effects. He doesn't. Fordice had none. Musgrove sure didn't have any.

Let's look at the math. Barbour will get 54%-58% of the vote. Usually, a candidate has to win with at least 60% to have coattails. As of today, I can't see Barbour getting 60% of the vote. If Eaves gets below 40%, that means his support among white voters is very weak. I think he'll get at least 20% of the white vote. If he can't get that, he ought to drop out of running for statewide office in the future or come up with a new campaign theme if he does run.

But Mississippians are very independent in their voting. Party labels don't excite the average voters. Unless you are a party activist, party labels don't turn you on in statewide or Legislative races. With the exception of the Treasurer's race (where politikook Shawn O'Hara is running his umpteenth race), the Democrats have a strong ticket. On the social issues, not one of them can be painted with the liberal paintbrush.

It is very conceivable on Election Day the GOP could win only two statewide offices, Governor Barbour and State Treasurer Tate Reeves. Jamie Franks should get the same base vote as Eaves (44%, as I wrote in a previous blog) plus more. Franks is bleeding Dewey Bryant with the cigarette tax-grocery tax swap. (And don't believe Dewey's polls showing him more than twenty points ahead of Franks. That means Franks is getting about 9%-12% of the white vote. I believe my cat Bueller is a Martian if Franks is that bad with white voters.). Attorney General Jim Hood will win with about 62% of the vote (I plan to vote for Hopkins because I think Hood is a lapdog for trial lawyers.). MDAC Commissioner candidate Rickey Cole has an excellent chance of winning (Les Riley of the Constitution Party will get a couple of thousand of votes.) against Dr. Moo (Lester Spell). State Auditor candidate Mike Sumrall is a very strong candidate and may win if he can convince the majority of voters the state needs an auditor and not a politician for the post. I do not think Rob Smith will defeat Delbert (Eggbert?) Hosemann for Secretary of State. Hosemann will win with 55%-59% of the vote (I plan to vote for Hosemann. I cannot stand Rob Smith and his aloof arrogance.). And I believe Gary Anderson will run a good race for Insurance Commissioner but will lose to Mike Chaney (Unfortunately, Anderson will lose because race is still an issue with the dumber parts of the voting electorate. Those turkeys will never vote for a black. I'm voting for Chaney because Anderson is too closely tied to Dicky Scruggs, a notorious trial lawyer who has given Anderson big bucks. Yeah, I know Chaney has gotten insurance money. But I just can't stand trial lawyers.).

But none of the Democrats other than O'Hara are poor candidates. I don't see how Barbour can help them. As for the Legislative races, the GOP will lose control of the State Senate. I talked to a Republican State Senator who is a political animal and a Republican when Republicans caucused in a phone booth. He thinks the GOP will lose four to six seats in the upper body. As for the State House, he thinks the GOP will gain five or so seats. Again, just like 1995.

I could be wrong. Maybe the GOP will sweep everything in sight and they not only keep control of the State Senate but take control of the State House. And maybe my cat Bueller will become a CPA and help me during tax season.

Monday, September 24, 2007

My Favorite Blogs

I do have some favorite blogs for the 2007 Mississippi elections and I heartily recommend them to you. I have reviewed a lot of blogs and there are some that are outstanding. So here I go.

The best by far is I really do believe it is the number one political blog in Mississippi. While I do not agree with John Leek on many issues, I bow down to his excellent reporting. He broke two stories that the mainstream media (MSM) did not report until much later--Dewey Bryant's hitting Jamie Franks' truck and Les Riley being re-placed on the ballot for MDAC Commissioner. John also has the courage to put his name on the blog instead of being anonymous. I predict this blog will be the leading political blog in Mississippi in due time. If you want hard-hitting reporting and editorials, this is the blog to bookmark. It is a populist Democratic blog, but at least you know where John stands. I check it at least four times a day.

Another blog that is fantastic is I have laughed my tush off reading this blog. It is written by Hammer of Logic. Hammer not only is a great reporter, but he has a rollicking sense of humor. His poem on Dewey's billboards is a classic. I wish he would write every day. Believe me, this is one of the funniest and yet most incisive blogs I have ever read on Dewey Bryant. If Franks is elected Lt. Governor, you can give some of the credit to Hammer of Logic.

If you want die-hard Democratic partisanship, read The blog is very good, but it is Democratic all the way. I read it for a different point of view, since most of the candidates I'm supporting are Republican. But I respect good reporting when I see it. Yallerdog is very good at reporting the Democratic side. is a very good blog and staunchly Republican. Britt Kittredge is excellent and does a very good job of reporting. I wish he would blog a lot more. He does an excellent job in reporting the Republican and conservative points of view. Like me, he does not blog on Sundays because of church. I respect that a lot. is another Republican blog. He does a good job of reporting and even quotes those whom he disagrees with. My only complaint is that he doesn't blog enough. But when he does, it is worth a good read. is a good left-libertarian blog. Tom Head is excellent in analyzing the candidates and their platforms. I strongly disagree with his blog on the social issues, but he adeptly defends his stands. I can disagree with a person and still strongly respect the individual. I recommend this blog just because of Head's excellent analyses of the candidates. is an anti-Franks blog. But he also writes on other candidates and issues. He is conservative. I strongly disagree with him about Franks. If he met Dewey Bryant, he'd be gung-ho for Franks. But this blog is excellent in reporting and it has a great sense of humor.

There are only two excellent websites on Mississippi politics. is perhaps the best of them all. They give the links to all the major political news reports of the day. For sheer excellent reporting, it is tops. The only thing I regret is there hasn't been a political report issued since February 26th. I check in to the website at least twice a day. reports the same news as Magnoliareport. But it also allows for commentary. It makes the website unwieldy and hard to navigate. Alan Lange writes good editorials but he is a partisan Republican. I'd like to see a tad more objectivity. A lot of the commentary by other commentarians leaves much to be desired.

These are the blogs I will look at throughout the campaign. While I may disagree or agree with them on the candidates and issues, they are all very informative. They are all worth a good read.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Commercial Franks Should Run on TV

There is no doubt Franks can win on the issues, especially the sales-tax-on-groceries issue. Here is a TV commercial I would love to see.

On the TV are the large cedar doors of a fashionable country club. The narrator intones:

"These are the doors of a very fashionable country club. After a tough morning of playing polo, eating filet mignon and lobster for lunch and drinking Chivas Regal, Phil Bryant is meeting with his country club buddies and rich campaign donors. They are discussing the big income tax cuts Phil is going to propose for them and opposing the sales tax cut on groceries for us little people. Phil doesn't care about us. Elimination of the grocery sales tax would give us more money so we could buy school supplies and clothes for our children.
"We working people can't get in a country club. We're too busy working for a living. That's why we're backing Jamie Franks. Our kind of man. Our kind of Lt. Governor."

Please vote for Jamie Franks. One of the working people for all of us working people.

Just a thought. But I think it would be a very effective ad. I've been in campaigns before and even managed (winning) one.

Questions Jamie Franks Should Ask Dewey

Jamie Franks can't defeat Dewey Bryant on looks or rhetoric. Dewey (I'm going to call him that rather than Phil, since Dewey seems more appropriate for him--real prissy.) is a very good stump speaker and he is a dandy in the looks department. It's hard to compete against a blow-dried candidate.

However, Franks can defeat Dewey on the issues. If I were Jamie Franks (and he hasn't asked me for any advice), here are the questions I would ask Dewey:

1. Most Mississippians want elected officials who will support the Governor when he is right, but object when he is wrong. You stated you would be Gov. Haley Barbour's "wing man" and be a slavish follower of Barbour. Is there anything you disagree on issues with Barbour?

2. Polls show 80% of Mississippians are in favor of raising the tobacco tax and lowering or eliminating the sales tax on groceries. Why are you opposed to it, even though studies have shown it would not cost municipalities any funding?

3. You stated you wanted to lower income taxes. Just what are your specifics on lowering income taxes?

4. In your race for State Auditor in 1999, you stated you wanted to eliminate some of the smaller counties in Mississippi and "consolidate" them. Could you please be more specific?

5. You stated just before the Republican primary you would appoint ONLY Republicans to head all the committees in the State Senate. Now just a few days ago you may not appoint all Republicans as chairman. I have always said I would appoint chairman that would reflect Mississippi. Just what is it, Dewey? Have you flip-flopped again?

6. The State Auditor's office could have put a stop to the wild spending for the failed Beef Plant, but it didn't. The fiasco cost the state $55 million. Why didn't you put a stop to this boondoggle?

7. You want to be second in command to run the state, but your office has been highly criticized by PEER for poor and incomplete audits. Turnover has been over 85% during your administration. The NSAA audit on your office has for the first time ever given the OSA failing marks. The NSAA wrote the quality of state audits is terrible. Can we really trust you to effectively run the office of Lt. Governor?

8. You state you are a conservative. But when you ran for Rankin County supervisor in 1988 you were considered the most liberal candidate. You were once in FAVOR of abortion. The Miss. Right to Life and National Rifle Association organizations endorsed your opponent in the primary. Why are you NOW conservative?

9. You state to religious leaders you are bitterly opposed to gambling. But on the Gulf Coast you stated you are a strong supporter of gambling. Indeed, you have taken contributions from the Band of Choctaw Indians. Dewey, just where do you stand on the issue? Or are you flip-flopping again?

10. As you know, Hurricane Katrina was one of the biggest natural disasters to hit this state in its history. Yet your office failed to properly audit the dollars that were spent on recovery efforts. Instead, much of the money was spent on pet boardings, limousines, gym passes, first class air transportation and other amenities for Reznik (a group hired by Dewey to oversee Katrina money). Why did you allow a company to steal from Katrina victims on your watch?

11. For years, you never said a word about illegal immigration. Not a peep. Now you are gung-ho in bashing illegal immigration. Why the sudden change?

If I were Jamie, don't expect any answers. Dewey is an empty suit and is one of the stupidest men ever to run for Lt. Governor. But if Dewey ever has the guts to debate Jamie, those are the questions I would ask Pretty Boy.

Good luck, Jamie.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Math of Barbour versus Eaves

Right now, many people think Republican Gov. Haley Barbour will win by a towering landslide over Democratic challenger John Arthur Eaves, Jr. On the, I read one comment stating Eaves would "be lucky to break 40%."

As we say in the accounting profession: Take a statistic to lunch. So I did some number-crunching. I do believe Barbour is ahead and will likely win. But if I were the Barbour enthusiasts, I would not be too overconfident. It may be a lot closer than you think.

I have reviewed the voting statistics in Mississippi elections from 1975 through 2003 in state elections. The voting breakdown is 68% white and 32% black. True, these statistics are not always the same in every election, but that is about the average.

So let's see how this breaks down in the Governor's race. Eaves will get 95% of the black vote. I hear every election (except for Fordice) where the GOP nominee will get 10-15% of the black vote. Barbour thinks he'll get that percentage of the black vote. I believe, at the maximum, Barbour will get 8% of the black vote. So, Eaves will have a 30.4% base (32% times 95%) to work with.

Now we get to the white vote. Eaves will get at least 20% of the white vote. NO Democratic white candidate for state office has ever gotten below 20% of the white vote. Dick Molpus in 1995 got about 20% of the white vote, the lowest percentage of the white vote for a Democratic gubernatorial nominee. So, Eaves has another 13.6% added to the base (68% times 20%). That gives him 44% of the vote. (For Eaves to get below 40% of the state vote he'd have to get 14% of the white vote. My cat Bueller could do better than that.)

If Eaves is going to win, he must get 28.9% of the white vote. That is not as easy as you think. The suburban and urban white vote will go 85% to 95% for Barbour. Eaves will do poorly in the Reservoir, Crossgates and Castlewoods areas of Rankin County. And he will get creamed in DeSoto County.

But the crucial vote will be what I call the "blurals". This is a combination of the white rural and/or blue-collar workers. They are very conservative on social issues but liberal to populist on economic issues. Eaves must do well with these voters to even have a chance to win. It is hard to determine the percentage of the vote this group makes (For example: Bankers, lawyers, CPAs and engineers could live in the rural areas.).

Can he do it? His ads are heavily laced with fundamentalist Christian overtones. One ad has him saying, "Jesus healed the sick" in reference to universal health insurance for children. Another one has him talking about the "moneychangers." Another ad talks about his opposition to abortion, homosexual marriage and supporting prayer and Bible study in the schools. While this may turn off some economic conservatives, it is strongly appealing to the blurals. I've talked to a lot of the blurals. While most of them are voting for Barbour, the Eaves ads are very appealing to them and it is possible for them to change their minds. I plan to vote for Barbour. But as a very fundamentalist Baptist, I like Eaves' ads a lot better than Barbour's. Indeed, if I were voting just on my religious beliefs alone, I would definitely vote for Eaves. (I can't help but notice the bitter irony. It is a Democrat that is running a Christian Right campaign and a Republican running a secular, economic-based issues campaign. This is like having a Baptist preacher having Wild Turkey with his Sunday dinner.)

It is early in the campaign and it is hard to tell what will happen between now and November 6th. But if I were the Barbour people, I wouldn't get too cocky or overconfident. Eaves will not be a pushover. As of today, my prediction is Eaves would get 44% to 47% of the vote.

As I always say: Take a statistic to lunch.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Upcoming Retirement Crisis

This blog will depart from state politics (although it could affect state policy in years to come) and discuss an issue no Federal or State politician wishes to even talk about--the upcoming retirement crisis. But it is coming. I do over six hundred tax returns a year and see very few employees putting into their retirement plans. In fact, I see quite a few of them take their money out of retirement plans and spend it. Take it from this CPA, it is coming.

Years ago, back in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, the only pension plans were defined benefit plans. The company would set aside monies to fund future retirement benefits for their employees. Since the vesting period for a pension was ten years, there was little turnover. The employee didn't have to put in a penny of his own money for retirement. When he hit retirement age, he would get his benefit based on his years of service. For example, for every year you served with a company, you would get a 1 1/2% pension accrual. If you served forty years with a company, you would get 60% of the average of your last five years of salaries. Add that pension to Social Security, throw in some investments and you could have a comfortable retirement. Major industries and almost all government entities had defined benefit plans.

But in 1978, IRC 401(k) was passed by Congress. It was a little bitty sentence, but it would have major implications. A financial person wrote a letter to the IRS seeing if he could form a deferred compensation plan where you could put away for retirement, but payroll taxes would still have to be paid. The idea was to use this as a supplement to the defined pension plans. This would even assure workers of having a better retirement.

But things went awry. The defined contribution plan was born. True, they were always there through the Keogh (a self-employed retirement plan, which I use), but not for the average Jane and Joe in the workplace. For the next thirty years, employers except for government and the biggest employers covered by union contracts did away with the defined benefit plan.

The dynamics of retirement planning changed. Employers no longer had to offer ANY retirement plan. If you wanted retirement income, you could put in $1500 (the amount in 1975)in an IRA a year (It is now $5000.). But if you didn't, you were just out of luck. The burden for retirement planning switched from the employer to the employee. So how much retirement income would you have if you didn't put into an IRA or your employer didn't have a retirement plan, you were out of luck. You would have bupkis (nothing). And if you didn't have any money saved up, you'd be subsisting only on Social Security. Great future.

But most places do have a 401(k) plan. You can put up to 25% of your earned income on your job into a 401(k) up to $15500 (for 2007). (Yes, I know about the top-heavy rules, but let's keep this simple.) Plus, you can still contribute to a Roth or a non-deductible IRA of $4000 a year (which I do).

So based on the above, let's take the situation of two workers. John Smith starts out earning $48000 at a CPA firm in the metro area (By the way, that is about the starting salary for an accountant fresh out of college.). He decides to put in the maximum of $12000 a year. His company is required to contribute 4%, or $1920 (Some of you pension experts can correct me on this.) to John's 401(k). Just for argument's sake, let's say John works there for 42 years and NEVER gets a raise (Obviously, that isn't realistic.). Let us also assume the rate of return is 5.5% a year (which is not unrealistic). By the time he retires, he will have $2,145,078.46 in his 401(k). Assuming he takes out only 6% a year, he'll be yanking out $128704.71 a year. That's not bad bucks. And remember, this is the lowest amount he'll be putting in.

But now let's look at Susan Jones. She works in a clerical job earning $20000 a year. There is no way she can put any money into her 401(k). Rent, car note, food, utilities and taxes leave her with very little. To rent a decent apartment in Rankin County costs $600-$800 a month. Her employer does offer a 401(k) plan, so her employer is required to contribute 3%, or $600. Let's say she works there for 45 years. Lets also use the same amount of 5.5% a year. When she retires, she will have $110,471.50 in her 401(k). Assuming she takes out 6% a year, she'll be yanking out $6628.29 a year. She'll be eating a lot of red beans and rice.

Look at the disparity: $2,145,078.46 versus $110,471.50. That is 19.4175 times the disparity between the least and the greatest amounts. Unfortunately, I see more of the latter than the former. I see a very large number of people taking out premature distributions and spending it on cars and even boats. When they retire, they only have Social Security. If you think Social Security is going to get you through your final years, think again. Indeed, MOST of the retirees today state Social Security is their main source of retirement income.

I agree with the pension bill passed this year that allows employers to mandatory yanking out 3% out of an employee's check to put in a 401(k) plan. In Susan Jones' instance, she would put in $600 a year of her own money and her employer would be forced to match it with 4%, or $800. That would be $1400 a year. When she retires, she would have $257766.83 in her retirement account and she could take out $15466.01 a year. (However, the employee does have the right to forbid the employer to take the 3% out of her check.)

The overwhelming number of small businesses do not have any kind of retirement plans. Bupkis, baby. That is where you are going to have the retirement crisis. How are they going to live? Social Security won't suffice. The employees don't have much choice other than to contribute to an IRA. Most employees don't.

President Bush had the right idea to set up Personal Savings Accounts to replace the retirement portion of Social Security(which is 5.3% for the employee and 5.3% for the employer, a total of 10.6%) (I calculated I would get three times the benefit under Bush's plan than under Social Security. In fact, I'm not even counting on Social Security for my retirement and don't even factor it in my retirement calculations.). Except for the very poor, has shown PSAs would benefit almost all workers.

I know the argument. If there was a severe downturn in the financial markets, the PSAs would diminish in value. What the government could do is pay the retiree the difference in what his PSA pays out versus what he would get under normal Social Security calculations. This would protect retirees from the vagaries of the downturns (like the ones in 1969-1970, 1973-1974, 1981-1982, October 1987, 2000-2002.).

But this is only theory. Right now, the Baby Boomers are starting to retire. In 2008, the first of the Baby Boomers will start drawing Social Security. The retirement crisis will soon be coming upon us during the next ten years and accelerating. In the past, the defined benefit plans would give us a strong retiree middle class. But the future may show a small wealthy retiree class, a weak retiree middle class and a large impoverished retiree class.

Government will not be able to solve the problem unless it decides to jack up taxes. And that will cause a massive taxpayers' revolt. The free market can solve the problem, but I've seen very few good ideas out there other than Bush's PSA accounts. But his plan was--and is--dead in the water.

Maybe some politician out there has a good solution. If he (or she) does, I'd like to know about it. The retirement crisis is going to hit us soon and we need some solutions.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Cell Telephones and Polls

The primary season is over and the general election campaigns began in earnest after Labor Day. Now we are going to be bombarded with polls touting how all the candidates are doing. Indeed, has put up the first general election poll I have seen on any general election race, the race between Jamie Franks and Dewey Bryant.

Back in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, pollsters actually used to go to the person's residence and interview him (or her). (Indeed, Gallup Poll interviewers had to lug with them briefcases and wear a big button on the left side of their shirt or dress saying "Gallup Poll."). Except for 1948, when pollsters stopped polling weeks before the Presidential election, the polls were very close to the actual result. In the 1970s and beyond, the pollsters stopped the personal interviews and started using telephone interviews. After all, almost everybody had a listed telephone number and mobile phones were rare. But it was until the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s that poll results were far different among different pollsters.

One reason is the rise of cell telephones. As you know, cell phones are NOT listed in any telephone directory (Well, at least not yet.). You don't get the telephone solicitors or any advertisements when you have a cell phone. I have a Cingular cell phone under the family plan and an Alltel cell phone under the zone plan. I have a land phone but I very rarely use it. I thought of getting rid of it. However, I live right near the airport. If there is bad weather and the cell phones don't work (Alltel doesn't work even in the best of circumstances. Cingular works very good.), I need the land phone.

So let's say you are a pollster and you want to contact me. You can't. The phone calls on my land line are all telemarketers. I have an answering machine that screens the calls. If it's somebody I know, I'll call him on my cell phone (I'm under the measured dialing plan under Ma Bell for my land phone. Why waste the minutes?). I give my clients and political friends my cell phone numbers. I receive no important calls on the land phone.

The bookkeeper/accountant in our firm has only a land phone. Ditto for her husband. Almost all of her friends have cell phones and no land phones. When I worked contract at a large CPA firm doing very complex personal tax returns, ALL the twenty somethings have cell phones and no land lines. How does a pollster contact them?

The demographics are very simple. The young have cell phones and don't have land lines. The thirty somethings have cell phones but may have land lines, but mainly cell phones. The forty somethings and fifty somethings have cell phones and most have land lines. The retired may have cell phones but most of them have land lines. Another problem is people may have land lines only for emergency purposes but use their cell phones as their main telephone. And what if you have an answering machine that screens the calls? They may not want to talk to a pollster. So any telephone poll is going to be skewed towards oversampling the elderly.

Oh, sure, I hear the pollsters adjust the samples because of the cell phone usage. But in the next ten years, estimates show five to fifteen million users will dump their land lines and use only cell phones. How do you adjust the polls for them? It won't be the young people in that batch, but the forty somethings on up that will be dumping their land lines. Just like the pay phone, the land phone might be a relic in the Smithsonian in about twenty years.

I read in about a pollster that called Dewey's victory over Charlie Ross by a two point variation. I wrote in my diary what I THOUGHT it would be and I was off by one point. That same pollster said he called it for Fordice's first run in 1991. There were a couple of polls that showed Fordice within the margin of error.

Review the national polls from 1996 on for Presidential, gubernatorial and Congressional races. This is about the time cell phones started hitting the market. You will see how radically divergent the polls are. I'm not going into the details because I don't have the time to research the polls. But I remember reading in many newspapers and political publications how wildly divergent the polls were.

I very strongly suggest you take polls with a grain of salt and put very little stock in them. For pollsters to be taken seriously in their data, two things will have to occur: All cell phone numbers will have to be listed in a telephone directory (That's not going to happen in the near future. One reason for having cell phones is keeping the phone number away from solicitors and "junk" calls. There'd be a lot of protest from cell phone users if their numbers were listed.) or the pollsters would have to revert to polling techniques they used in the 1950s--actually going to the person's home and interviewing him.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Rudy Warnock for MDOT Central Commissioner

This November 6th we will choose an MDOT Central Commissioner between Republican incumbent Dick Hall and Democrat Rudy Warnock.

Dick Hall is a fine person and a gentleman. He is very polite in his dealings with constituents and is respected for his honesty and integrity on the job.

Nevertheless, I cannot vote for him. Indeed, I have NEVER voted for him in the two races he has run for his present post. When he was State Senator, he was THE most pro-abortion Republican you could find. In fact, he was the ONLY Republican legislator you could find that was pro-abortion in the thirty years I have observed Republican legislators. Appointed by then-Lt. Governor Eddie Briggs in 1992 to head up the committee that dealt with abortion legislation, Hall did all he could to stall or kill any pro-life legislation. Pro-lifers such as myself couldn't stand dealing with him because of his vehement pro-abortion stance.

Rudy Warnock is a professional civil engineer. He has his own firm, Warnock and Associates, which works with cities and counties to build roads and bridges. Today, Warnock is the county engineer for Madison County and city engineer for the City of Canton. He also works with other counties and cities across the district. Madison County and other local governments hire Warnock to design their roads and bridges. They go to him because his firm does the work timely and cost-effectively.

We send hundreds of millions of dollars worth of work to companies outside of Mississippi. Why is this happening? Why are we sending Mississippi dollars out of state? Warnock will do his best to keep the money in the state so Mississippians will be paid to do work in Mississippi. Why hasn't Hall addressed this?

What I would like to see is MDOT give cities a choice about how the money is spent. Why not give the city the money MDOT would spend for projects and let the city decide what roads and streets need to be fixed? Right now in Pearl, there is a lot of work being done on Highway 80. I drive over that highway every day and I can tell you it needs only minor, if any, repair. But I can show you some streets in Pearl that desperately need fixing. It seems like the only time MDOT is busily fixing roads that really don't need it is during election years.

Rudy Warnock also knows about traffic control. It's obvious Hall doesn't. Drive east on Highway 80 from Bierdeman Road to Mary Ann Drive and you'll know exactly what I am talking about. If you hit the red light on Bierdeman, you will have to wait and wait while the westbound traffic is moving along. Then you hit the red light at Kroger and you wait and wait. You keep going and then you hit the Red Light from Hades--the red light on Pemberton. You sit and wait and wait. Then you go and hit the red light on Mary Ann Drive and wait. None of the lights are coordinated. It is a waste of gas and time to sit there and wait and wait. The traffic engineers should do the best they can to make certain there is an efficient flow of traffic. That has not happened under Dick Hall's watch.

Dick Hall has NO training as an engineer. None. Nada. Null set. Bupkis. He is a politician through and through. He was first elected as a Democrat to the State House, then switched parties ("The fiscal issues." You know, just like Lester Spell), reelected as a Republican to the State House, elected to the State Senate and then appointed by the late Gov. Kirk Fordice to the MDOT to fill the vacancy left by then-Commissioner Wayne Burkes.

Rudy Warnock is an engineer who'll do his best to take politics out of MDOT and do what is best for the state. It's time for a change---a big change.

Mississippi needs Rudy Warnock as MDOT-Central Commissioner.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Rickey Cole for MDAC Commissioner

This race promises to be a really interesting race. Democratic candidate Rickey Cole is running against Republican incumbent Lester Spell (hereafter referred to as "Dr. Moo") for State Commissioner of Agriculture.

Dr. Moo is a great veterinarian. If you have a sick animal he is the man to see (I wonder if he takes care of cats? I have five of them, one being stone deaf.). I've had people tell me he is kind to animals and treats them with loving care.

But Dr. Moo was never a farmer. He's a veterinarian and grew berries. He spent quite a few years being mayor of Richland. He's a nice guy and a really pleasant person. He never knew what it was like to spend your life growing cattle or grains.

Dr. Moo, however, suffers from arrogance. He absolutely refuses to apologize for the Beef Plant fiasco. Not once. $55 million down the drain and he can't even utter a simple apology. He can't even say he was wrong. At most, he calls it a "mistake". How noble of him. That money thrown away on that Beef Plant could have built FIVE burn centers in this state. As of today, this state does not have ONE burn center in the state. If you have severe burns, you'll have to go to Louisiana.

I also didn't care for his party-switching. For years in Rankin County, he was a leading Democrat. Oh, I know the mantra he gave: I'm a Democrat but vote Republican in Federal elections. But not once did he ever do anything for the GOP. But once the Beef Plant fiasco came to light and the fallout hurt him, he suddenly switched to the GOP. Yup, he used all that Democratic money to get reelected in 2003 but now he was a real rootin' tootin' Republican. He knew he was dead meat (no pun intended) in the Democratic Party and decided to switch to the GOP. Explaining his switch, he stated he agreed with the GOP on fiscal issues. If that's so, what was the big issue that made him switch? (Crickets chirping.)

Rickey Cole is a REAL farmer. Plus, he is one great speaker. The Beef Plant fiasco is well-known. But he hit Dr. Moo's claim the MDAC conducted 4500 supermarket inspections in 2006. That sounds great, but there are only ten inspectors in the MDAC. There's no way that can happen. And with all the food and pet food imports from Red China being tainted, don't we deserve better than that?

Unlike Dr. Moo, Rickey Cole doesn't pretend to know everything about agriculture. But he plans to appoint people who can do their jobs and give him excellent advice. If Rickey Cole had been MDAC Commissioner this Beef Plant fiasco would never have happened. The MSU study showed the cull cattle beef plant would be a disaster. Do you think Spell listened? NO!!!! He approved it because it was politics through and through. He wanted to curry favor with House Speaker Billy McCoy, State Rep. Tommy Reynolds and the biggest buffoon the Mississippi State Legislature has seen in my lifetime, State Rep. Steve Holland.

Rickey Cole is one of the "little people" who knows what it is like to WORK for a living. He actually farms and puts in a lot of time farming. This is not some hobby for him. He knows what it is like to be a farmer and hence, small business. He'll promote small business and help them grow and prosper. Having Nissan and Toyota plants are great, but we have to eat. He'll help the small farmer and the small businessman.

I met Rickey Cole years ago and tell you he is a humble and kind person. He also has a lot of common sense. This is why Mississippi must elect Rickey Cole as MDAC Commissioner.

And that's no bull.

Will Sumrall and Cole Be Bonellied?

I know you are confused by the title. I expect you to be. The term "Bonellied" means the party whose candidate is running will get very little, if any, financial support in his race for office.

John M. Bonelli ran on the Republican ticket for mayor of Jackson in 1989. He had no money and no name recognition. Plus, he didn't stand a snowball's chance in Key West, Florida in August of winning. No Republican had ever been elected as mayor of Jackson. No matter who won the Democratic runoff primary between State Rep. Kane Ditto and incumbent Dale Danks, Bonelli was doomed to lose. The demographics showed the city was becoming majority black and Ditto, who eventually won, would be the last white mayor of Jackson. No Republican stood a chance of winning.

I followed Bonelli's campaign in the newspapers. He actually had a good, solid platform and some really good ideas on how to arrest the economic decline of Jackson. In fact, I thought his ideas were far better than any of the Democratic candidates. If I had lived in Jackson, I definitely would have voted for him.

Right after the runoff primary, there was a newspaper article in the CLARION-LEDGER as to how much support Bonelli would get from the state GOP. The answer the state GOP gave was very simple: Very little to none. The state GOP was not interested in giving financial support for a candidate running under its banner for the top post of the biggest city in Mississippi. The GOP thought he stood absolutely no chance, so why waste the bucks. So they let Bonelli twist slowly, slowly in the wind. What a noble and brave party.

I remember driving up Ridgewood Road going to work a week or so before the election. I saw a lot of Ditto signs in an area that would normally be strongly Republican. Right at the intersection of Ridgewood Road and Old Canton Road as you are headed north, I saw a crudely constructed "Bonelli for Mayor" sign. It was written on a big sheet of white paper stuck with a black magic marker nailed to a stick of wood. That was the only sign for Bonelli that I saw. Imagine: One crudely constructed Bonelli sign in a large sea of Ditto signs in a strongly Republican neighborhood.

Needless to say, Bonelli was routed. He received about ten percent of the vote against Ditto. He even got creamed in the strongly Republican areas. But I admired Bonelli for having the guts to run for mayor when nobody else was willing to run under the Republican banner. Bonelli was not a "kook" candidate. He was a very good candidate with well-thought out ideas on how to improve Jackson. Didn't he deserve better?

What bothered me is the GOP did not even have the decency to put up much, if any, money to help Bonelli. He deserved a lot more support. And what does that say to other Republican candidates in strongly Democratic races? They may lose, but giving them money will plant the seeds for future campaigns that will pay off in the years to come. So why run under the GOP banner if you know the state party will let you twist slowly, slowly in the wind in a race they consider hopeless.

So now it is eighteen years later. Democrats Ricky Cole and Mike Sumrall are not wealthy candidates who can independently finance their campaigns. They are excellent candidates running for State Agriculture Commissioner and State Auditor, respectively. They are going to need help from the state Democratic Party. And it can't be just a few thousand dollars. They are running against well-financed candidates, one of them being Dr. Moo (Lester Spell). Perhaps State Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Dowdy can ask his trial lawyer friends put up some huge bucks for Cole and Sumrall. They are going to need it.

Will the state Democratic Party come through for Cole and Sumrall, or will they be Bonellied?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Mike Sumrall Versus Stacey Pickering

Mike Sumrall is to be congratulated for his decisive victory over Todd Brand (with 98.92% of the vote in, Sumrall had 154880 votes and Brand 139269). With just about $11000 in campaign funds for both primaries, Sumrall won an astonishing race for the Democratic nomination for State Auditor.

Now comes the tough part. He faces Republican State Senator Stacey Pickering in the general election. Not only does Pickering have the name (His cousin is Republican Congressman Charles W. Pickering.), but he'll also have the money.

There is no doubt Pickering is a fine person. Everybody who knows him say he is an exemplary Christian man and a very friendly man. He is well-liked in the State Senate. He is also an attractive candidate and a very charming person.

But Stacey Pickering is totally unqualified to be State Auditor. He is a media consultant and a part-time public relations person (Wonderful. That is really one bippy of a great qualification--making people look good and saying groovy sound bites.). He knows as much about accounting and auditing as my cat Bueller does. If he is elected, he'll be bored stiff as State Auditor. And you can rest assured he'll play politics with the job just as his predecessors after Hamp King have. In four years, he'll be looking to move up the political totem pole. (That should be interesting, since his cousin Charles plans to run for governor in 2011. You can get two of them for the price of one. Goody goody.)

Mike Sumrall recognizes the need for drastic changes in the Office of State Auditor. The number of staff is at an all-time low. He wants to have cross-training of auditors so that they can do school audits, agency audits or county audits. The investigative division has more staff than any time in the history of the agency yet it takes more than three years to complete investigations. (You can thank Phil the Pill Bryant for the surplus of investigators. Bryant used to be a fire investigator but knows as much about accounting and auditing as my cat.)

Mike Sumrall will never beat Pickering in the looks or charm department. But voters aren't looking for a good-looking hunk and nice teeth. They are looking for someone who can take politics out of the job and make the Office of State Auditor (OSA) a strong auditing and investigative agency. They are looking for someone who can do the job and knows what that job entails. Mike Sumrall worked for the OSA since January 1979 until 2002. Fairness, integrity and non-partisan practices have always been his method of operation. He is NOT seeking the office so he can move up the political totem pole four or eight years later. I also like his stance on who should be State Auditor. He believes the post should be restricted to CPAs or have a bachelor's degree in accounting (Great idea!!). Sumrall does have a degree in accounting. Pickering sure doesn't have such a degree.

Twenty years ago, I remember a poster I saw a big photo of a Democratic candidate for State Representative in Alaska. He had a big beard and he looked like the Creature out of the Black Lagoon. I laughed when I saw the caption, "Not just a Pretty Face." He was running against a handsome opponent. On that poster he listed his accomplishments as a businessman and what he could do in the State Legislature. Oh, yes. The candidate won.

On November 6th, don't vote for a candidate because of party labels, looks or charisma. Vote for a guy who can do an excellent job as State Auditor. For the first time in nearly a quarter century, politics can finally be taken out of the OSA and the office can turn into the best auditing and investigative agency in the South. But only one man can do that.

That man is Mike Sumrall.