In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

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April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 2, 2007 / 16 Tamuz, 5767

A victory for disfranchised Mississippi voters — and they happen to be white

By John H. Fund

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Last week a federal district judge found direct evidence that the political machine in Noxubee County, Miss., had discriminated against voters with the intent to infringe their rights and that "these abuses have been racially motivated."

Among the abuses catalogued by Judge Tom Lee were the paying of notaries public to visit voters and illegally mark their absentee ballots, manipulation of the registration rolls, importation of illegal candidates to run for county office, and publication of a list of voters, classified by race, who might have their ballots challenged. The judge criticized state political officials for being "remiss" in addressing the abuses. The U.S. Justice Department, which sued Noxubee officials under the Voting Rights Act, has called conditions there "the most extreme case of racial exclusion seen by the [department's] Voting Section in decades."

Explosive stuff, so why haven't you heard about it? Because the Noxubee case doesn't fit the media stereotype for voting rights abuses. The local political machine is run by Ike Brown, a twice-convicted felon. Mr. Brown is black, and the voters who were discriminated against were white.

Judge Lee concluded that Mr. Brown retained his power "by whatever means were necessary." According to the judge, Mr. Brown believed that "blacks, being the majority race in Noxubee County, should hold all elected offices, to the exclusion of whites." (Whites are 30% of the county's 12,500 people, but only two of the 26 elected county officials.) Judge Lee also criticized top officials of the state Democratic Party for "failing to take action to rectify [Mr. Brown's] abuses."

Last month a memorial service was held in Philadelphia, Miss., about 50 miles southwest of Noxubee, for three civil rights workers who were murdered while trying to register black voters during the "Freedom Summer" of 1964. Their deaths helped spur Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which swept away poll taxes and other impediments to black voting. Ever since then, a consistent media story line has been built around fears that the South's racist past will return to squash black political aspirations.

But the reality isn't so simple. While voter suppression by whites still goes on and must be curbed, so too does incompetence by election officials that calls into question the validity of elections, along with outright voter fraud. The right to vote includes the right not to have one's vote diluted by someone who shouldn't be voting, votes twice or doesn't even exist. Yet mild measures to increase the integrity of the ballot box, such as photo ID laws or efforts to better police absentee ballots are routinely attacked as attempts to restore Jim Crow voting procedures.

Just look at the coverage of the Justice Department's botched removal of seven U.S. attorneys. Congressional Democrats have gone into overdrive to prove the Justice Department canned them for their failure to pursue voter fraud cases, which it felt should be given a higher priority. The confirmation hearing for Hans von Spakovsky, a sitting member of the Federal Election Commission, has drawn bitter opposition because some former Justice Department officials make strained claims he pushed for laws requiring voters to show a photo ID as a means to suppress black voter turnout. He is also accused of derailing two investigations into possible voter discrimination and causing enforcement of voting rights cases to plummet. In fact, the Bush administration filed 35 voting rights cases in its first five years, as opposed to only 25 by the Clinton administration in its last five years.

Critics of the Bush Justice Department bitterly complain that its priorities have shifted away from traditional voting rights enforcement and have questioned if Justice should be filing "reverse discrimination" voting rights cases like Noxubee. Joseph Rich, the chief of Justice's voting section until he resigned in 2005 to join the liberal Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, has said he thinks the Noxubee case had merit but wonders if it was "really a question of priority" for a department with limited resources. "The Civil Rights Division's core mission is to fight racial discrimination," Mr. Rich told TPMuckracker.com. "That doesn't seem to be happening in this administration."

In reality, what the old civil rights establishment seems to be most upset about is a shift of priorities. They note the Bush administration has so far only filed two complaints on behalf of black voters, compared with eight filed by the Clinton administration during its last six years. Liberals note that of the voting rights cases the Bush administration has filed so far, seven have been on behalf of Hispanics. But Hispanics are now the largest minority in the country, and it's hardly surprising that more cases would arise involving a population that includes many new citizens unfamiliar with how to combat voter discrimination.

Judge Lee's ruling shows that there was extensive evidence of voter fraud in Noxubee County. More than 20% of the county's ballots were routinely cast by absentee voters, despite requirements that everyone have a valid excuse to obtain one. A major reason for their proliferation was that Mr. Brown, in his capacity as head of the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee, would pay notaries public to complete absentee ballots for voters, sometimes without their knowledge or consent. According to Judge Lee, Mr. Brown and his allies then "put in place a nearly all black force of poll workers and managers, over whom they had effective influence and control, and who, under Brown's direction, ignored or rejected proper challenges to the ballots of black voters."

During the 2003 primary election, witnesses testified that Mr. Brown personally left the local sheriff's office (where he had set up shop across the hall from where ballots were counted) to tell poll workers to "count every vote, count them every one right now." Kevin Jones, the incumbent superintendent of education, who is black, confirmed that Mr. Brown told poll workers to count the votes and that they complied.

Mr. Brown also went through the absentee ballots in other precincts the night before the Aug. 26, 2003, runoff and put Post-it notes on some ballots with instructions indicating they should be rejected. Judge Lee found that "witnesses who saw the yellow stickers maintained that every sticker seen was on the ballot of a white voter."

The boss left nothing to chance. Witnesses testified that on the day of the runoff, as voters cast ballots in person at polling stations, poll workers walked up unsolicited to black voters "taking their ballots and marking them without consulting the voters." Terry Grassaree, the chief deputy sheriff for the county, threatened Samuel Heard, a candidate for sheriff against Mr. Grassaree's boss, that "I'll put your ass in jail" after Mr. Heard complained about illegal distribution of campaign literature at the polls.

Mr. Brown sounded like Huey Long when he explained his actions. "This isn't Mississippi state law you're dealing with," he told Libby Abrams, a poll watcher for Mr. Heard, Ms. Abrams testified. "This is Ike Brown's law." When Ms. Abrams responded that she planned to have four poll watchers on hand as votes were counted, Mr. Brown told her "Fine, fine, have as many as you want. I'll send the police on around to arrest you."

Mr. Brown also published a list of 174 names of voters he claimed were illegally voting in Democratic primaries while they intended to support Republicans in the fall election, and suggested he would challenge them. He said he planned a crusade to "root out disloyal Democratic elected officials and voters," including Larry Tate, a black county supervisor who had angered Boss Brown by supporting Sen. Thad Cochran and Rep. Chip Pickering, both Republicans.

The defense Mr. Brown mounted against all these charges was that he had acted legally and was motivated solely by a desire to elect Democrats. He called the Justice Department's lawsuit an example of "persecuting the victim" and noted the irony that after the white establishment had oppressed blacks for 135 years federal officials had the "preposterous" effrontery to challenge blacks who had achieved political control of Noxubee County only a dozen years ago.

Judge Lee had none of it. "If the same facts were presented to the court on behalf of the rights of black voters, this court would find that [the Voting Rights Act] was violated," he wrote. As part of his ruling, he gave lawyers on both sides 30 days to file briefs in the civil matter laying out how they will end the election abuses. Defendants who violate his order could face contempt of court and fines.

It's unclear how much Mr. Brown plans to comply. He isn't returning phone calls from reporters. He may not be intimidated by the prospect of fines, having served time in federal prison a decade ago for tax fraud. Last year he refused to sign a consent decree in which county officials promised not to harass or intimidate white voters, fill out absentee ballots for voters, or coach them.

Mr. Brown also contends that Judge Lee's order may be moot because of last month's ruling by another federal judge in a lawsuit filed by state Democratic Party officials. They, like Mr. Brown, were upset by Republicans voting in the Democratic primary under Mississippi's open primary law. "They come over and vote in the Democratic primary and it's for the white candidates and then in the general election they run and vote for Republicans," complained Ellis Turnage, the attorney for the Democratic Party. The Democrats asserted that state law guarantees them the "freedom not to associate" with interlopers in their primary. District Judge Allen Pepper, a Clinton appointee recommended b

y Sen. Trent Lott, agreed, but he handed the Democrats a Pyrrhic victory by ordering the state to create closed primaries — but also to require photo ID at the polls. Democrats who have long used incendiary rhetoric to block approval of a photo ID law are howling.

The irony of their complaint wasn't lost on Marty Wiseman, director of the Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University. He noted that "Democrats, many of whom fought long and hard during the bad old days to open up Mississippi's closed political system, are attempting to make their own case for 'freedom not to associate.' " Secretary of State Eric Clark, a Democrat, said his party made a "serious mistake" in filing the lawsuit. "I believe in opening doors to voting and not in closing doors," he said.

But should Judge Pepper's order stand, it may have the salutary effect of finally cleaning up Mississippi's election records, which the Greenwood Commonwealth, the largest newspaper in the Delta, notes "still has people on the rolls from the 1960s who haven't voted in decades, yet federal rules make it almost impossible to purge their names." That is an invitation to voter fraud and manipulation la Ike Brown.

Despite abundant evidence that protective measures such as photo ID and tighter controls on absentee ballots aren't designed to suppress voter turnout, the civil rights establishment continues to resist against any effort to improve ballot integrity. Yet as former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young has noted, showing ID is a daily fact of life in America now, and getting such IDs in the hands of poor people would help them enter the mainstream of American life. A poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News last year found Americans backing a photo ID law by 80% to 7%, with two-thirds support among both blacks and Hispanics.

At the conclusion of his ruling in the Noxubee case, Judge Lee cited the ruling of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Welch v. McKenzie, a 1985 case in which the court held that "the right to vote includes the right to have one's ballot counted. This includes the right to not have one's ballot diluted by the casting of illegal ballots or weighting of one ballot more than another."

Half century ago the issues involved were literally black and white. Now they are murkier and more nuanced. Not all villains in voting rights cases are white. I've interviewed Democratic candidates from St. Louis to Detroit to Newark who acknowledge that many of our voting systems are so underfunded and sloppy as to invite either rampant incompetence or outright fraud. The Justice Department's victory in Noxubee County isn't a win for one race over another, it's a signal that some rethinking of old stereotypes is in order.

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JWR contributor John H. Fund is author, most recently, of "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)

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© 2006, John H. Fund