The line is open. I'll have to count on crowd sourcing for wedding reports, troll watch and related duites.
I note Jason Tolbert reports a Republican claim that a Democrat infiltrated their phone bank operations today. That would be more campaign initiative than I've seen demonstrated by the Democratic Party of Arkansas so far this year, but who knows?
Tomatoes and pig meat for me.
Interesting. Nothing, after a number of catty runup articles, in the New York Times today on Chelsea Clinton's wedding to Marc Mezvinsky this evening at an estate within commuting distance of New York City.
The Washington Post on the other hand blows it out. Speculation on the guest list. A roundup of headlines. A promise of "continuing coverage" on the gossip blog. Twitter chatter galore of course (trending snarky).
My own evening plans include dinner about halfway between Gravel Ridge and Otto — heirloom tomatoes from farmer Al Leveritt will be the headliner, along with pork smoked by pit virtuoso David Koon.
UPDATE: As guests begin to surface, names emerged. There was a rehearsal dinner for the wedding party last night, but also a cocktail party at the hotel where Bill and Hillary Clinton are staying for all wedding guests who are scattered in lodgings ranging from quaint B&Bs to a Hampton Inn in Poughkeepsie. Marie Clinton Bruno of Little Rock talked to the NY Times, remembering Chelsea's role as a bridesmaid in her wedding to Gio. Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen turned up, too. Bill Clinton lunched with brother Roger. I'd love to know how the NY Times reporter concluded that the throng of young people in attendance (imagine, Chelsea and Marc asked THEIR friends to the wedding) were a mix of Arkansas and the hedge fund world. Perhaps some were barefoot. Hint to NY Times: Some people may be natives of Arkansas AND work at hedge funds. Ask around.
The vast majority of guests looked to be in their late 20s or 30s, perhaps college and work friends of the bride and groom. Perhaps they will be celebrities some day, but for now they can rest comfortably in their anonymity. They seemed to be a mixture of Arkansas and the hedge-fund world. One blonde in a ballooning yellow dress walked across the street to the gawkfest and took pictures of the locals, then had her picture taken with them, then posed with a bemused and very patient state trooper.
“We don’t know who we’re looking at,” one bystander complained. “My God, they all look like they’re in their 20s. They’re kids! Seriously, I want to see Oprah.”
Does Kat Robinson ever stop traveling? I don't think so. Her report, and photos, from the annual cardboard boat races on Greers Ferry Lake at Heber Springs.
It's damn hot here at Sandy Beach in Heber Springs, where a good thousand people or more are lined up on the sand, in the treeline and on a bevy of boats in the water to witness the World Championship Cardboard Boat Races. But the heat isn't running people off. They're stripping down to their swimming gear and flip flops and diving on in.
The boats this year are so widely varied. ASU Heber Springs has brought back its canoe, which has seen some 13 years worth of racing. Other amazing creations include "The Flying V" (an electric car shaped boat), the Arkansas Toothpick (created from engineer blueprints and shaped sorta like a cigar boat), a Napa truck, "The Cool Brees" (painted black and gold and piloted by a guy in a Drew Brees New Orleans Saint jersey), "Daydreamer" manned by guys in Hawaiian shirts and a fellow dressed in a parrot costume, and the Green Bay Packing entry this year — a replica space shuttle.
Even an hour into the event, more boats continue to arrive. They've made a floating reef around the pageantry. I'd love to be part of that boat culture, but then I couldn't be on land to upload an update for those landlubbers at home to read. Yes, I'm drinking plenty of water. Gorgeous day for the event. Planning to stay for the demolition derby at the end.
The National Scout Jamboree provides an occasion for the New York Times to review the Boy Scouts, whose numbers have declined sharply. Its exclusionary policies — gay youths, atheists, girls (except at the Explorer level) aren't allowed — give some pause. Its problems with predatory leaders, though relatively small in number, undoubtedly factor into parents' evaluations. I suspect changing times and interests play the biggest role in declining numbers.
I was a Boy Scout. An Eagle Scout even. I pushed my son into trying Scouting, but he was unenthusiastic and I found myself unable to argue the point. In retrospect, I couldn't remember what held me in Scouting so long; maybe lack of anything else to do. I know some true believers, too (at least one of whom is on duty at the jamboree currently.)
I guess I'm kind of conflicted. I'm curious what others might think. It might be that a lack of interest is the dominant theme, which would say a lot.
It's Saturday. Fire away.
John Brummett is right, of course. Gov. Mike Beebe can't explain away the question of state vehicle oversupply — if there is one — by saying the bulk of the cars are in constitutionally independent agencies — highways, Game and Fish and colleges. The legislature appropriates their money; he signs the legislation. All are governed by commissions and boards composed of gubernatorial appointees. He could — and should — demand full accountability.
I've called before for a computerized database of every state vehicle and, where appropriate, names of employees to which they are assigned and which employees are cleared for use of free cars for personal commutes. (Yes they pay a piddling tax, in some cases but not all, for the commuting privileges.)
I tend to think the problem is overblown and that the abuses are small. But it doesn't mean they should be dismissed out of hand.
Brummett ends by echoing my earlier suggestion that the explosion of state-paid cell phones might be worth a look, too. People with reason to know tell me you'd be surprised, for example, at the international calls made on some of them, particularly by certain very highly paid state employees.
It has been a long week. Light up the open line.
NEWS: Though Republicans would prefer to bar Democrats from offering candidates by legal technicalities, a Pulaski County judge so far has refused to bar the democratic process — he'll allow a special primary to go forward to pick a Democratic nominee for Stone County sheriff after the primary ended in a tie.
UPDATE: Just caught this on Twitter, where hustling Chris Spencer put a link to this photo on his Ozarks Unbound Facebook page. No text required. It's grateful women thanking Dr. William Harrison, who's closing his Fayetteville clinic on account of poor health. (I originally called this an abortion clinic. It was that, alone in NWA, but it was also an ob/gyn clinic for other needs.) Chris is a one-man band in Fayetteville. Check him and his website out.
Some think Sen. Blanche Lincoln can't win re-election period. She certainly can't win without a strong black vote. So she doesn't need stories like this — black legislators who are understandably angry that President Obama promised $1.5 billion to Lincoln for farm aid while giving the shaft to black farmers who've been waiting for years for justice and a $1.2 settlement for years of government discrimination.
Associate Justice Donald Corbin, 72, has been released from the hospital after emergency bypass surgery, the state Supreme Court announced. It further said that Corbin is expected to resume chemotherapy treatment for cancer. The release quotes Corbin as saying he plans to return to work and complete his term, which runs through 2014.
First things first. Wildlife Officer Michael Neal is a hero. He slammed his truck into a pair of cop-killing renegades, beginning the end of the West Memphis shootouts two months ago.
But read on. Does it strike anybody else as just a little bit opportunistic to grab onto Neal's shirttail for a Republican Party fund-raiser so soon after the fact? He'll be honored at a dinner tonight in Brinkley. Proceeds will raise money for Republican candidates for state legislature and county judge.
Understand, state employees are free to participate in political fund-raisers off-duty. (But they probably shouldn't use state trucks to drive to such events.)
What do you think?
I'd forgotten this. An all-campus ban on smoking on all state university campuses takes effect Sunday.
Old fogey sidetrip. In my college days, cigarettes were 23 cents a pack in Virginia (free book of matches included). We smoked them — Luckies and Marlboros — in the classroom. In the dining hall. At football games. In the student coffeeshop. All night at the card table. In dorm rooms. In taverns. In restaurants. I think even in the library, though I rarely darkened those doors.
Glad that's over.
Andy Griffith has filmed a commercial for Medicare touting the benefits of new health legislation.
Maybe the Repubs can get Floyd and Goober in rebuttal.
Here's a funny part. Andy's endorsement for President Obama has brought out some 'baggers on the Facebook page for fans of Andy Griffith re-runs.
Yes, there's an Arkansas angle in the SEC civil complaint alleging securities fraud against Texas billionaires Samuel and Charles Wyly. Also named is Dallas stockbroker Louis Schaufele III, a Little Rock native.
Schaufele and the Wylys turned up in earlier reporting about the implosion of the Stanford Group, where Schaufele once worked. Schaufele was a key figure several years ago in congressional investigations of off-shore tax havens. The website of the Episcopal Foundation of Dallas lists him as treasurer and vice president of the board.
Roby Brock's Talk Business offers a profile on David Whitaker, the Democratic challenger for Congress in the Third District, Republican since the dawn of time. It won't be possible to dismiss him as a liberal. At last count, he wasn't even that far behind Republican nominee Steve Womack on money in the bank. That should change by the next reporting period, I'd guess.
Gridlock in D.C.
Republicans are filibustering a tax-cut bill meant to spur job creation. They want to pile on some non-germane hot button stuff.
Last night, House Republicans hid behind specious procedural excuses to defeat a bill to provide benefits for rescue workers harmed in 9/11 work. Anthony Weiner went bonkers. Good video at the link.
The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee continues to use Medicare's 45th anniversary to highlight what Republican control could mean to the popular program. Nine Republican Senate candidates have made threatening remarks about it, including Rep. John Boozman. Said the release:
Boozman Voted to Replace Medicare With a Private Program. In April 2009, Boozman voted for a GOP alternative budget by Rep. Paul ryan that called for "replacing the traditional Medicare program with subsidies to help retirees enroll in private health care plans."
In that private insurers have double the overhead of Medicare (often with less coverage) the idea of privatizing Medicare is a fair topic of discussion this election season. Paying for Medicare going forward is also a fair topic for all candidates and the old cliches about cutting fat aren't sufficient.
Jon Hubbard seems to be a columnist for the Jonesboro Sun now. That once fine…
Mark Darr may know a little something about how to make a pizza, but I…
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