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December 2, 2014

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

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
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 25, 2005 / 18 Tammuz, 5765

An antidemocratic plot

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Last week, as one of the great rituals of democracy in America — the filling of a Supreme Court vacancy — was getting underway, democracy in Massachusetts was nearly getting mugged.

Massachusetts is one of 24 states in which voters can approve or reject laws at the polls, a power they have had since the initiative and referendum were added to the state Constitution in 1918. It is a power they have tended to exercise sparingly — from 1990 to 2004, for example, only 14 ballot initiatives became law — an average of less than one a year.

Why so few? In part because ballot measures are generally a last resort, something aggrieved citizens turn to only after lawmakers repeatedly ignore their pleas or the governor brushes them off or the bureaucracy refuses to budge or the hired lobbyists shoot down every attempt at reform.

But in part as well because lawmakers make it so difficult for proposed laws to reach the ballot. They require citizen petitions to be signed by tens of thousands of registered voters, allow proponents only a narrow window of time in which to collect those signatures, then make them get each signature verified by the clerk of the city or town in which the signer lives. They restrict the topics that a ballot question may address. They impose such stringent standards that a single stray mark on a petition — a food stain, a highlighting — can invalidate every signature on the page.

''Many legislators see public policy as their province and theirs alone," says Pam Wilmot of Common Cause, which promotes honest and accountable government. ''They get offended when voters want to have a say. Inside the State House there is fairly widespread resentment toward initiatives — if not outright hostility."

For years, some Massachusetts Democrats have wanted to raise the ballot-access hurdles even higher — so high that they would just about end citizen initiatives once and for all. Last week they almost pulled it off.

By a 12-1 vote, the Legislature's Election Laws Committee reported out a bill that would have banned ballot campaigners from paying petition-circulators by the signature and required circulators to swear that each name was signed in their presence and by the voter named — poison pills, given the number of signatures needed and the short time in which to assemble them. Worse yet, the bill would have obligated the secretary of state to post signers' names and addresses on the Internet — the better for opponents to browbeat or deceive them into recanting their support.

''Make no mistake about it," said Chip Ford, co-director of Citizens for Limited Taxation, which has conducted several initiative campaigns over the years. ''This is war."

He wasn't the only one who thought so. Across the political spectrum, the bill was seen as an underhanded attempt to permanently cripple the public's right to self-government. In addition to CLT, it was condemned by Common Cause, the Massachusetts Family Institute, and the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, by the state's Republican governor, Mitt Romney, and by its Democratic secretary of state, William Galvin.

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Such ideological diversity reflects the fact that the power to adopt or repeal laws by ballot is neither liberal nor conservative. It is democratic. It can be used to lower taxes or raise them, to ban racial preferences or impose them, to endorse the death penalty or oppose it. Massachusetts voters understand that in a system rigged to make legislators all but untouchable, the initiative and referendum are a vital check and balance. Legislators understand it too. That is why they want so badly to eviscerate them.

Sad to say, the initiative process in the Bay State may be nearly dead anyway. It has become almost routine for the Massachusetts Legislature to countermand voter-approved laws it dislikes, such as the tax deduction for charitable donations, the ''Clean Elections" campaign-finance measure, or the rollback of the income tax rate to 5 percent. All three were enacted by decisive majorities, but lawmakers treated them as suggestions they were free to disregard. In two other cases, lawmakers derailed proposed amendments that were headed for the ballot by refusing to follow the procedures spelled out in the state Constitution.

''For 20 years I preached to the students of Princeton that the referendum . . . was bosh," said Woodrow Wilson, a one-time political science professor. ''I have since investigated and I want to apologize to those students." Far from being ''bosh," he had come to realize, the right to let voters decide the fate of a law is the ''safeguard of politics." In Massachusetts last week, that safeguard almost came to an end. Luckily, the plot was exposed. But it's only a matter of time before the plotters try again.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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