THIS CONWAY NATIVE IS A CONTESTANT ON JEOPARDY: Who is Brock Thompson?
Conway native Brock Thompson, author of "The Un-Natural State: Arkansas and the Queer South," will appear on Jeopardy this Wednesday.
In 2010, the Times published excerpts of Thompson's book, which gives an overview of gay and lesbian life in Arkansas in the twentieth century. Thompson now lives in Washington, D.C., where he is a programs coordinator for the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center. The show, which was taped in September, will air this Wednesday at 2 p.m. The Log Cabin Democrat has more.
NOV. 22, 1963: Kennedy at a rally in Forth Worth outside the Texas Hotel.
Dallas was an unusually dangerous place in the months preceding President John F. Kennedy’s November 1963 visit there. That month the Department of Defense had sent Kennedy aide Ken O’Donnell a confidential, comprehensive report on the city noting its population had recently surged to 747,000 residents primarily because of newcomers coming from rural Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. These transplant Southerners had sharpened what was already a politically and socially conservative climate. The report went on, “Dallas’s political conservatism stems from a fundamentalist religious training and years of conditioning,” William Manchester reported in “The Death of a President.” In the early 1960s, “the maturity of independent oil wealth” and recent industrialization had made the city’s climate “overtly active” and “politically militant.”
The result was a city with no requirement for firearms registration, no firearms control at all, and up till Nov. 22, 1963, a toll of 110 murders — 72 percent by gunfire. Those closest to the scene didn’t hesitate to warn Kennedy. A Dallas woman wrote Kennedy’s press aide: “Don’t let the President come down here. I’m worried about him. I think something terrible will happen to him.” U.S. Attorney H. Barefoot Sanders, the vice president’s contact in Dallas, told Vice President Lyndon Johnson’s aide the city’s political climate made the trip “inadvisable.”
But it was Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas who likely served the most clear-cut warning, Manchester wrote. The junior senator had himself felt the glow of Dallas’ hatred a year earlier when during one of his re-election campaigns he’d been the target of attacks in the Dallas Morning News, owned by radical conservative Ted Dealey. Fulbright readily admitted being afraid of Dallas and its past of political violence. Indeed, he’d turned down several invitations to visit friends there, wrote Manchester, who interviewed Fulbright in 1965. On Oct. 3, 1963, Fulbright and Kennedy spent the better part of a day together, flying to Little Rock and then to Heber Springs for the dedication of Greers Ferry Dam. During the trip and the following luncheon, Fulbright repeatedly told Kennedy Dallas was a “a very dangerous place,” adding “I wouldn’t go there” and “Don’t you go.”
Fulbright was not the only Arkansan, or person with Arkansas ties, who played roles in the events before and after the Kennedy assassination. Below are some others:
Some odds and ends that floated in while I spent the morning with the Legislative Council:
* LIFELINE PHONE SERVICE DEFENDED: A group that supports the federal Lifeline telephone service planned a demonstration at U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin's office today to urge him to reconsider his opposition to the use of cell phones in the program. He's joined others in a disingenuous attack on the low-cost phone service as the "Obamaphone," because some cellular companies have provided free cell phones as a means of delivering the service. Arkansans for Lifelinehas a Facebook page touting the benefits of the service to poor people. An Air Force veteran was part of the demonstration. He said it had been invaluable in his search for work and staying in touch. Griffin has proposed legislation to end cell phone availability under the service. This at a time when more and more people have no landlines. It's a mean idea to deprive poor people of the portability of communications. The cheap phones provided for the service are not luxury items. They are necessities.
* COUNTY JUDGE ANNOUNCEMENT: JP Wilma Walker, a former state representative, will announce for Pulaski County judge Wednesday at Philander Smith College. Former legislator Barry Hyde has already announced.
* YUM. IT'S COON TIME: GILLETT: It's never too early to be sure you're set for the Gillett Coon Supper, set Jan. 11 in Gillett. Mitch Berry, son of former Congressman Marion Berry, also has announced the second Pre-Coon Supper Reception before the event to raise money for the Marion and Carolyn Berry Scholarship at Arkansas State University. A pre-supper reception was a tradition begun by the former congressman when he ran for state Senate in 1982. It became a more formal fund-raiser in its own right last year. The reception will start at 3:30 p.m. at the Berry farm shop. Tickets are $40. The supper itself begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Gillett Auditorium, Tickets may be purchased at the door for both events. Sponsorship designations are possible for $500 and $1,000 contributions. Call Ben Noble at 501-772-9473 or Gabe Holmstrom at 479-409-3329.
* YEAH, SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT: The American Conservative Unionhas issued its ratings of the Arkansas legislature. This is valuable. Sort of like an endorsement from the Family Council. 'Nuff said.The Crackpot Union gave perfect scores to: Reps. Nate Bell, Jim Dotson, Justin T. Harris, Debra M. Hobbs, David Meeks, Stephen Meeks, Josh Miller, Richard Womack, Charlotte Vining Douglas, Kim Hammer, Lane Jean, and Bruce Westerman and Sens. Cecile Bledsoe, Jim Hendren, Bart Hester, and Bryan King. Given zeroes are, of course, some of the very best in the legislature.
* DENNIS MILLIGAN: THE MOVIE: I forgot to claim dibs for the movie rights to the Dennis Milligan story. I'm referring to this and this and this and this. Milligan, a Republican candidate for state treasurer, is making a federal case out of a late-night visit to the Capitol by opponent Duncan Baird and several other leading Republican lights. Somebody beat me to it.
Since I've received multiple copies, there seems to be popular demand to post Rep. Nate Bell of Mena posing with his kill this week on a bear hunt.
Bell commented yesterday on Facebook about the hunt:
A bear hunting expert told me this evening that he believes successful still hunting for black bear on national forest is the most difficult big game hunt in Arkansas. I don't know if that's right but it kinda made my day and the hunt was definitely physically demanding and a test of woodscraft.
More here. Before anyone starts — he says he plans to eat the meat and preserve the hide.
(For those too young to get it, the headline channels my favorite song as a four-year-old, "The Ballad of Davy Crockett." …. Born on a mountain top in Tennessee, greenest state in the land of the free. raised in the woods so's he knew every tree, killed him a b'ar, when he was only three…..)
Shelli Russell at mysaline.com reports that Little Rock lawyer Jack Wagoner has sent a check for $158 to Bryant Police Chief Mark Kizer to reimburse his $58 dinner tab at an Orlando steak house/strip club and an extra $100 to help offset the five days of pay he lost because of Mayor Jill "Republican" Dabbs' suspension for dining at Rachel's.
mysaline posted a copy of Wagoner's letter and a photocopy of the check.
The item doesn't say if Kizer intends to cash the check.
Wagoner has turned up on this blog periodically for his work in lawsuits challenging the state ban on same-sex marriage and its discriminatory impact against gay couples legally married in other states.
It's not like the guy was going to strip clubs and spending city money every day or using city money to tip the strippers. He got to go on a trip and went with all the other cops to have a steak dinner at a strip club. They need to reimburse him for his meal.
I asked Wagoner if he'd heard from Kizer.
...he said thank you to me and the other hundreds of people that have expressed dismay over this tempest in a teapot. I mean really. What is the complaint here? It's not that he ate a steak dinner while at the conference. No one claims he paid for any "side items" other than the meal for which he sought reimbursement. It's about the morality police in action once again. Going to a strip club for dinner at a cop convention is pretty much something a bunch of cops would do. I don't think it's criminal or wrong. My actions on this are not so much in support of Kizer as in opposition to the morality police. If I was merely doing something kind to help another fellow human I would not have been public about it. I let people know I did it more to let those that are making an issue about this know what at least one person thought about it.
I'm off to UALR early, so a quick roundup before I go:
* MAKE A PLEDGE TO KUAR/GET A MATCH: Rosi Smith and I will be raising money on KUALR/KLRE this morning. Call 569-8485 or 1-800-952-2528 or go to kuar.org and make a pledge. The blog pledge is in effect. $10 match toward everyone who mentions the Arkansas Blog. $25 for Republicans.
* THE TRANSPARENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: The Walton-financed lobby group, Arkansas Learns, which is working to create a white flight middle school ("charter") in West Little Rock is a useful source of information on the Little Rock School Board, generally critical. Last night its Twitter feed mentioned that Superintendent Dexter Suggs, new in town, had mentioned he'd received a contract buyout offer to go to another school district, but had refused it because of his commitment here. (Arkansas Learns is also promoting an anti-union teachers' union.)
Good for Dr. Suggs.
Bad for Dr. Suggs. I got a tip on this and asked the newly transparent school district's information office for a comment on it and got zip. No return call. Transparency and accountability this isn't. My tip said the job offer was from Florida.
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STRIP STEAKS: Meat and more are the lures at the Orlando restaurant where Bryant's police chief dined.
*MOUNTAIN OUT OF A MOLEHILL: The Bryant City Council last night suspendedPolice Chief Mark Kizer for five days for eating a meal while on a convention trip at a steakhouse, Rachel's, that includes performances by scantily clothed women. Stripper steaks, in other words. A Grand Teton has been made of this molehill. It was bad judgment by a police chief not known for the other variety. But if he met the statutory expense limit rules, I'm not sure the setting in which he chooses to eat his meals is cause for much more than the embarrassment that ensued. Will we punish conventioneers for eating in other disapproved settings — say a bean pie supper at a Black Muslim restaurant?
Anyway, if we're to talk about action for wasting money, rather than just spending it at stupid places, what about:
* Mayor Jill "Republican" Dabbs' upgrade to first class for her trip to Boston?
I have some obligations this morning, so some hurried notes:
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HE DIDN'T LOOK: Chief Mark Kizer (right with GOP state Chair Doyle Webb at a fund-raising dinner) swears he only ate steak and didn't take in the scenery at strip club on city-financed outing.
* BRYANT COPS ENJOY STEAKS IN THE RAW: The Bryant News website apparently broke the news, elaborated on in the Democrat-Gazette this morning, that Bryant Police Chief Mark Kizer and a cop who works providing school security had charged the city for steak dinners at a steakhouse/strip club in Orlando — Rachel's Adult Entertainment and Steakhouse — during a recent junket. Chief Kizer claims he never peeked and claims he went for the excellent steaks. Strippers perform continuously in view of all tables, workers in the joint say. The spending was dug up by an alderman who earlier unearthed first-class air ticket upgrades by Mayor Jill "Republican" Dabbs and companions on an $11,000 junket to Boston. Dabbs claimed the first class upgrades saved money against what her baggage charges would have been. Which led me to wonder just how many frocks Dabbs had to pack for a League of Cities convention and how she could attend many meetings what with all the wardrobe changes. It's been nothing but fun since Republican Dabbs took office, along with City Clerk Heather "Republican" Kizer, once married to the gentleman club diner Kizer. Trencherman Kizer also does duty on the Saline Quorum Court with Dabbs' husband, Allan. Wonder if anybody has checked Saline Quorum Court travel receipts for steak dinners? Another job for the Legislative Audit Division, should it ever turn attention to Republican officeholders. Get your popcorn. The Bryant Council will have another expense account discussion at its meeting Thursday. Last time, Republican Dabbs complained that such matters were better discussed personally with her than publicly.
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Bryant News Facebook
GENTLEMAN'S CLUB TAB: For Chief Kizer.
* TIM GRIFFIN PROPOSES LABOR LAW BREAK:U.S. Rep. Tim Griffinhas proposed as one of his final missions in Congress to allow the Arkansas operator of children's clothing consignment sales to continue to pay part-time worker through discounts on clothing rather than through actual cash. She's done a masterful job of massaging the public relations campaign on how she's doing favor to struggling moms by getting their labor for free. The women themselves do seem willing. So Griffin wants to legalize an exemption for the successful business operator from labor laws. Next: Allow tomato farmers to pay pickers in tomatoes rather than cash.
* KINDERGARTEN CHILD LEFT ON SCHOOL BUS ALL DAY: These stories happen periodically and they always give me a chill. A 5-year-old fell asleep on her bus to school in the South Conway County School District and was overlooked when the bus unloaded. She stayed alone on the bus all day until being driven home and dropped off. She was unhurt. Fox 16 reports. She was scared — understandably — by her 7 hours in isolation.
Getting beaten for U.S. Senate was good for Blanche Lincoln's bank account. She's got her own lobbying business now and the client list grows. Comcast, Valero, Experia, Interstate Natural Gas Association and others now have a very high-powered addition — Monsanto.
Monsanto is a fit for the former Senate Agriculture Committee chair.
The seed giant's influence on Capitol Hill has been in the news quite a bit in the past year, thanks to the so-called Monsanto Protection Act, a provision slipped into a spending bill last March that protects companies that sell genetically modified seeds from lawsuits. While the company says it supports the measure, Monsanto has objected to the nickname opponents have given the bill, arguing that plenty of other agribusiness companies support it, too. Despite efforts to revive the act as part of a later spending bill, it was pulled from recent budget negotiations.
TURKEY TROTTERS: Yellville had a big crowd for its annual festival, even without an airplane drop of turkeys.
Turkey drops resumed this year at the Yellville Turkey Trot, but not from airplane turkey bombers. That practice raised the ire of animals lovers and prompted a $5,000 reward from PETA for information leading to identification of the pilot.
Two live turkeys were dropped from a second-story window in Yellville during the festival. One was chased down. Another flew up to a utility line and perched there for a good while. The Baxter Bulletin has all the details, including the general resentment among the crowd toward those on the anti-cruelty end of the turkey question. The animosity was good for T-shirt sales.
The airplane turkey drop hasn't been done for several years, but event organizers complained that that's what spectators come to see. They had a good crowd nonetheless.
SPEAKING OF ANIMALS: Anybody else react weirdly as I did to the lovingly told tale in the Sunday Democrat-Gazette of the brave crossbow sportsman who picked off a black bear attracted to a barrel he'd been stuffing for days with Krispy Kreme doughnuts? Shooting bears in a barrel, you might say.
The Arkansas Times took another bus trip to the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena yesterday and Brian Chilson's Facebook page photo gallery is the next best thing to being there. The street music scene outside the main stage performing area looks even more tuneful than ever.
I've already written a column this week about Mike Huckabee's worthwhile comments on the Republican-forced government shutdown. And there he goes again. In a speech in Texas, Huckabee again commented sanely on the Republican Party "demolition derby" and "egocentric" politicians.
But today's grabber in the local news coverage was a comment that followed his observation on all-or-nothing political gamesmanship.
He went as far as calling the Rolling Stones the “greatest political scientists of all time” for making popular the idea, ”You Can’t Always Get What You Want” through their song, which hit the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973.
We hope to have some more later, but a quick word on news from a former classmate at Arkansas School for Mathematics, Science and the Arts that a Little Rock native was a member of the team that contributed to the recent Nobel Prize in physics. The prize went to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs "for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider"
A native Arkansan who now teaches at NYU, Kyle Cranmer, was on the team at CERN that worked on the project. His faculty page at NYU lists some of the contributions to the work that substantiated the Higgs boson particle. The YouTube above features him lecturing on the subject.
The NYU Experimental Particle Physics Group reported on the work in advance of the expected award of the Nobel Prize. It mentioned Cranmer's work as editor of a key paper on the work and other elements of his work.
Cranmer has been destined for stardom at least since 1994, when he made the pages of the Arkansas Times in an article about his leadership at ASMSA in Hot Springs.
Benji Hardy has provided a longer, detailed account of events at Joint Audit Committee this morning when legislators prevented Brad Choate from giving his side of his hiring as head of the University of Arkansas Advancement Division
It's an important day for efforts to end the ban on same-sex marriage in Arkansas. A lawsuit filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court by Searcy lawyer Cheryl Maples on behalf of a number of gay and lesbian couples seeking to strike down Arkansas's ban on same-sex marriage is before Judge Chris Piazza this afternoon.
Juanita's, the venerable Tex-Mex restaurant and music venue, is leaving the South Main Street location it's called home since 1986 for the River Market and the former home of Bill St., 614 President Clinton Ave.