Lawsuit challenges Mississippi gay marriage ban


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Two same-sex couples seeking marriage equality in Mississippi filed the first federal challenge to the state’s gay marriage ban on Monday, the latest in a string of similar lawsuits nationwide.

“We’re hoping the case will move quickly,” said Aaron Sarver of the North Carolina-based gay-rights organization Campaign for Southern Equality, which filed the suit on behalf of the women in the U.S. District Court in Jackson.

Rebecca Bickett and her long-term partner Andrea Sanders want to get married in Mississippi, the lawsuit says, while Jocelyn Pritchett and her partner Carla Webb already got married in Maine and want their union recognized in Mississippi.

Both couples have children and say Mississippi’s ban deprives them – and their children – of their constitutional rights simply because they’re gay. They want the ban overturned and also seek a preliminary injunction while the case is pending.

“My family is no less a family than any other,” Bickett said in a statement.

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HALL: Travis Childers will not be the next U.S. senator from the Magnolia State.


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BY: Sam Hall

This will come as no surprise to most voters, but Childers seemingly got into this race for one reason: Had incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran lost his primary, Childers was ready to wage a war for the heart of Mississippi voters. He would have tried to paint a narrative that offered a choice between moderate, pragmatic Mississippi values and a far-right national movement.

But Cochran won, which essentially leaves Childers as a lame-duck candidate.

In many ways, people were hoping Childers could rekindle his 2008 “magic” in 2014. He won a special election in a wide-open field after a runoff against then Southaven Mayor Greg Davis on May 13, 2008. Six months later, Childers once again defeated Davis in the regular general election, winning a full two-year term by a 10-percent margin.

Two event spurred Childers’ victories in 2008: [Read More]

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State Auditor Stacey Pickering tells Legislature that MAEP formula needs close examination in 2015 session.


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State Auditor Stacey Pickering has notified the Legislature of his concerns with the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) formula.

The report provides detailed information to lawmakers on the MAEP formula in advance of the upcoming 2015 legislative session.

RELATED>>>PLUNKETT: Time for Republicans to exorcise the education demons and fully fund MAEP

“Each year the Office of the State Auditor provides an overview of MAEP funds, how arbitrary changes are continually made to the formula, and how funds are used, or not used, for our students,” Pickering said. “Accountability issues are a major concern of this office, and it is past time for the MAEP formula to be seriously examined.”

Four flaws discussed in summary include:

• MAEP funding is given to districts in a lump sum with no oversight or accountability regarding how the funds are to be used as no targeted spending is required by law:

- Spending MAEP funds is at the discretion of the district with no state requirements. – The rate at which administrative expenditures has grown far exceeds the rate at which classroom spending has grown. In fact, in all years except 2004-5, the rate of administrative spending has significantly out-paced classroom spending. Expenditures are increasingly going to administrative costs as opposed to where the money should be going, which is the classroom.

• While using enrollment might initially appear to be an ideal funding mechanism for school districts because it artificially inflates the number of children actually attending classes, it is a poor mechanism for funding for several reasons:

- It removes a district’s incentive to get children to attend school regularly.
– It does not properly reflect student or school needs.
– It would add an additional $30 million or more to school districts with no guarantee that it would be focused where it is needed the most- in the classroom.

• Using the new federal Community Eligibility Program (CEP) causes artificial inflation of the state’s “At-Risk” Program:

- This new program will give 53 districts and 506 individual schools the ability to give free lunch to all students regardless of individual eligibility. – Base Student Cost (BSC) uses free lunch data to establish funding for “At-Risk” programs– inflated 10 percent in the “At-Risk” program portion.

• The recent change in law to use inflation rates for the BSC calculation and only fully recalculate the MAEP every fourth year will increase funding demands. This can occur in the following instances:

- If a one-time injection into the formula (i.e. 2015-2016 Teacher Pay Raise) is not properly removed and accounted for in full recalculation years; and – When the federal government allows the inflation rate to move, it will increase the BSC, and will not be tied to any performance, accountability, or outcome measures, or actual need.

“Our brief shows that those able to manipulate a few characteristics of the formula can increase the funding of K-12 schools by nearly $40 million without even looking at actual need and with no required targeted spending,” Pickering added. “Even if we did know exactly how much to fund MAEP with using precise calculations there is no mechanism in place to ensure that once taxpayer dollars are sent to the districts they will be spent on teachers and students in the classroom.”

The full report can be viewed HERE.

Office of State Auditor Press Release

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MS Supreme Court allows Lee County judge more time in judicial misconduct case.


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The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance recommended in September that Judge Rickey Thompson be removed from office and pay more than $11,000 in fines and costs.

The Mississippi Supreme Court yesterday rescheduled the deadline for Thompson’s attorney to file in the case.

In its complaint, the Commission on Judicial Performance cited Thompson for several instances of misconduct.

Among them was that in June 2013, a licensed bail bond agent was inside the courtroom near the bench. When a defendant was fined or sentenced, the bondsman would approach the bench, take the case file from Thompson, then take the defendant and file outside of the courtroom. When the bondsman was later suspended from writing bonds at the Lee County-Tupelo Adult Jail, Thompson approached the sheriff asking that the suspension be lifted. The commission ruled that Thompson lent the prestige of his office to advance the private interests of others.

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PENDER: Rough road ahead for motorists, politics


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BY: Geoff Pender

Many of our roads and bridges are in poor shape and expected to get worse from lack of maintenance. On present course, experts predict more than half the state’s roads will be un-travelable by 2030.

Part of the problem is the state, with an ambitious road building program in the 1980s, added 3,000 miles of four-lane highways with no money programmed for maintenance. Plus, some were thinly paved to stretch out the miles. The hope was they could be beefed up later.

Another problem: State road funding is from a flat fuel tax of 18.4 cents a gallon, last raised 27 years ago. Cars get better mileage. Construction costs have risen about 300 percent.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers have over the years raided or diverted hundreds of millions of transportation dollars to shore up other budgets.

Transportation leaders and a legislative watchdog group estimate the maintenance funding shortfall at $600 million to $400 million a year. Pulling that from elsewhere in the state budget, say education, would have disastrous effect.

The alternatives are to increase taxes or fees, borrow for a temporary fix or let the infrastructure continue to deteriorate and hope state revenue picks up enough to at least make patches.

A tax increase appears the most likely solution.

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PLUNKETT: Constitutional Conservatism is about neither blind allegiance nor political jihad.


BY: B. Keith Plunkett @Keithplunkett

It is unfortunate to see the misrepresentation going on by Ryan Walters, and his descent into labeling and grouping anyone and everyone who doesn’t adhere to what he perceives to be the “politically correct” way to worship at the “politically correct” alter.

His latest comes on the heels of some anonymous hack coming after me personally for the unforgivable sin of suggesting politics in Mississippi needs some grownups to enter the room.

I don’t know what the newfound fascination is with me personally. I recall writing nothing that is a departure from the positions I have held and have written about for over a decade. But, unlike the personal attacks of the cowardly whose politics are about gossip mongering and drama, at least Ryan mentions a somewhat substantive position to make his argument and he stands behind it enough to put his name on it.

Ryan claims in his commentary to being “truly astonished” that I would be:

sick of people who want to wear the Constitution like body armor, while refusing to educate themselves as to the social responsibilities that make communities work and fulfills the promise of the God-given freedom that the Constitution recognizes.

Ryan writes that he was “taken aback by such talk from someone who claims to believe as ‘WE’ do” (Emphasis on the word ‘WE’ is mine). He goes on to add that my reference to the term ‘social responsibility’ is just too near the “progressive notion of social justice” and that “the Constitution is not about that” and has “nothing to do with it”.

I notice he didn’t bother to provide a link to the entire article to let his readers investigate for themselves the full context of my commentary outside of his interpretation of handpicked passages. Looks like the divide and conquer tactics aren’t solely the territory of liberal Democrats or “establishment” Republicans these days.

Constitutional Conservatism Has A History

Knowing that he is a history guy, I doubt Ryan is unfamiliar with Alexis de Tocqueville. Maybe he would like to brush up a bit.

Tocqueville was a French political thinker and wrote what is considered to be among the first publications on political science and sociology. He was a supporter of the French Revolution and the principles of representative government. In 1831 he traveled to the United States to record his thoughts and to analyze the social conditions of the new Constitutional Republic for the purpose of helping his native France deal with the upheaval in their own system of government.

His detached and scientific approach to observations of the American experience and social order under the United States Constitution have been widely referenced and revered. His writing has influenced some of the greatest political philosophers and scientists in history, and his theories on why the American experience was successful have largely been proven through studies that show where things went off track for our nation. There is a direct philosophical line that moves from Locke and Burke who influenced the Founding Fathers to Tocqueville, and finds its way eventually through Hayek, Kirk, Friedman, and Buckley before settling on Goldwater and then Ronald Reagan. These are but a few of the names. There are many, many more in that long line.

So what did Tocqueville think about the concept of community in our Constitutional Republic? I’ll borrow a passage from writer Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry:

Most conservatives usually sing the virtues of local government as “laboratories of democracy”–in other words, if we have decentralized government, different places can try different things out and a) find solutions that work better for their particular problems and b) help bubble up good ideas from the local level to the state and national level.

That’s all true enough but, Tocqueville says, local government is fundamental not so much because it’s a “laboratory” of democracy but because it’s a school of democracy. Through such accountable and democratic government, Americans learn to be democratic citizens. They learn to be involved in the common good. They learn to take charge of their own affairs, as a community. Tocqueville writes that it’s because of local democracy that Americans can make state and Federal democracy work—by learning, in their bones, to expect and demand accountability from public officials and to be involved in public issues.

Conservative stalwart Russell Kirk’s work in defining conservatism’s moorings put it even more succinctly. He said:

Modern society urgently needs true community; and true community is a world away from collectivism. Real community is governed by love and charity, not by compulsion. Through churches, voluntary associations, local governments, and a variety of institutions, conservatives strive to keep community healthy.

Kirk further explains:

Conservative principles shelter the hopes of everyone who desires equal justice and personal freedom and all the lovable old ways of humanity. Conservatism is not simply a defense of “capitalism.”

Constitutional Conservatism that maintains healthy communities through voluntary associations–and how big government schemes and federal bureaucratic discretion have robbed the people in communities of the value of those associations–is further explained in the research of political scientists and public policy professors like Charles Murray and Robert Putnam, among others.

In other words, this is not a new concept. In fact, it’s the core principle of conservative thought throughout history.

Conservatism Of Thought And Imagination

Chris McDaniel himself spoke of this in his Town Hall tour during the U.S. Senate campaign, and he specifically referenced Putnam’s work on the importance of community while in DeSoto County discussing traditional values and . . . you guessed it . . . Social Conservatism.

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Does that mean Ryan disagrees with Chris on the importance of community, and if so does Ryan fail his own purity test? Is he a “true conservative” and is he really a “McDaniel Republican” or does this disagreement disqualify him? Should ‘WE’ be “taken aback” by such a notion?

I won’t pass judgement by claiming to be able to answer any of those questions about Ryan. But that’s the point. He has no claim to be able to answer those questions about anyone else, either.

I thought shutting down engaged dialogue by way of dehumanizing labels and angry agitation based in personality politics was a tactic used by Progressives who couldn’t otherwise defend their position. Unfortunately, it seems to have made its way into the unhinged rants of a few of our own who want blind allegiance to a political brand instead of honest discussion of public policy built on principle. It’s a form of political jihad, with the end purpose being to convert or silence by intimidation.

Some prefer to work towards creating a reconnection to the traditional values of social conservatism that act as check against federal encroachment on personal responsibility. You can count me among that number which is why I’ve been happy to be a part of the re-launch of Generation Mississippi.

You can watch the video about it’s inception HERE.

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Others can play the political games with the name-calling and divisive drama devoid of any real substance. As for me, I think Russell Kirk’s words written back in 1957 still apply today when he said “modern radicalism detests religious faith, private virtue, traditional personality, and the life of simple satisfactions. Everything worth conserving is menaced in our generation. Mere unthinking negative opposition to the current of events, clutching in despair at what we still retain, will not suffice in this age. A conservatism of instinct must be reinforced by a conservatism of thought and imagination.”

That is a view of conservatism that is based in real-world application from it’s historically correct place. And yes, when it comes to providing the formal structure that requires the people to participate in maintaining their freedom or risk losing it, history shows us that the Constitution most certainly IS “about that.”

About Keith: Keith Plunkett has worked on communications and policy issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, government agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by going to HorizonMediaMarketing.com or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett

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Filed under Chris McDaniel, contributor, County Government, Desoto County, Ethics, Faith, Federal Government, Generation Mississippi, Keith Plunkett, Opinion, Republican

The Unheeded Secret


BY: Oswald Chambers

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world” —John 18:36

The great enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ today is the idea of practical work that has no basis in the New Testament but comes from the systems of the world. This work insists upon endless energy and activities, but no private life with God. The emphasis is put on the wrong thing. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation . . . . For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). It is a hidden, obscure thing. An active Christian worker too often lives to be seen by others, while it is the innermost, personal area that reveals the power of a person’s life.

We must get rid of the plague of the spirit of this religious age in which we live. In our Lord’s life there was none of the pressure and the rushing of tremendous activity that we regard so highly today, and a disciple is to be like His Master. The central point of the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship with Him, not public usefulness to others.

It is not the practical activities that are the strength of this Bible Training College— its entire strength lies in the fact that here you are immersed in the truths of God to soak in them before Him. You have no idea of where or how God is going to engineer your future circumstances, and no knowledge of what stress and strain is going to be placed on you either at home or abroad. And if you waste your time in overactivity, instead of being immersed in the great fundamental truths of God’s redemption, then you will snap when the stress and strain do come. But if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in Him, which may appear to be impractical, then you will remain true to Him whatever happens.

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