One argument we're hearing from Republicans against Medicaid expansion is that we can't afford to add to the federal debt. After all, even if it's a good deal for the fiscal bottom line in Arkansas to accept more than a billion dollars a year in federal spending, that money is coming from deficit spending on the national level.
The Walton family heirs, Alice Walton in particular, have received several mentions during the past year for their philanthropy. Specifically, there was a lot of press about the Crystal Bridges art museum, which cost over $1 billion and is free to the public. Northwest Arkansas is certainly better for this donation.
The Observer, as you may have heard by now, will be making the trip to Washington, this week for the presidential inauguration, accompanied by our ol' pal, Arkansas Times resident shutterstud extraordinaire, Brian Chilson.
The Arkansas Times has written a number of times about the ugly situation that would occur if Medicaid expansion doesn't happen: People who make between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level will be getting government subsidies to buy health insurance, but those who fall below 100 percent of FPL who don't qualify for Arkansas's stingy Medicaid program will be left out in the cold.
Arkansas hasn't always lived up to its motto, Regnat Populus (The People Rule), but there's a group of reformers who'd like to. The group calls itself, deservedly enough, Regnat Populus, and its goals are not only noble but well thought-out, which is not always a strong point with reformers.
Can we spare a moment to commiserate with the Republican Party? Not so much the poor national party, so in thrall to its extremist wing that it may sacrifice the nation's wellbeing by welshing on its debt to drive home the point that the country has been going to hell for 77 years.
Instead of immediately returning to campaign mode, the attorney general should have announced that he was putting his campaign on the backburner — while not withdrawing entirely — to focus on getting his personal and professional life in order.
Last week I promised in 2013 to give only serious consideration to serious topics in this space. OK, I've got the serious topic — contempt for Congress. Not contempt of Congress, which you can go to prison for. Contempt for, an American given, held steadily, resolutely, justifiably for more than 200 years.
Perhaps because I rarely visit Washington, I'm persuaded that the budgetary hostage crisis currently obsessing the nation's capital holds little fascination for the general public. Wasn't that what last month's "fiscal cliff" deal was all about? Government by televised melodrama appears to be losing its ability to hold the nation in thrall.
"Is Ashley Judd going from Hollywood to Capitol Hill? The media sure hope so. Otherwise Mitch McConnell's reelection race will be deadly dull. The well-known actress was mooted as a potential candidate for U.S. Senate from Kentucky last month in what merely seemed to be a light-hearted post-election story."
Also, the Delta Exhibition at the Arts Center, the Trevor Ware Fundraiser Art Show, Monster Jam at Verizon Arena, Rally for Reproductive Justice at the Arkansas State Capitol, Elliot Lipp at Discovery and Shannon Wurst at Tales of the South.
Well, back in Little Rock for one full day. Here's my return open line, including:
* SPANKING FOR JESUS: I ignored the news that the wacky Pat Robertson had endorsed spanking disobedient wives, citing the familiar Biblical support for wifely submission to their husbands.
Damien Echols, freed from Death Row in today's West Memphis Three plea bargain, released the following statement today:
To all my friends and family, my attorneys and advocates, and to those of you from every corner of this earth who have stood beside us these long years, please know that I will forever be indebted to all of you for helping me to become a free man. Each and every day I was the beneficiary of acts of kindness and humanity from people of all walks of life, of all ages, nationalities, religions and political persuasions.
Mike Huckabee, who left Arkansas, where he built the platform for his media success and which, incidentally, has an income tax, is putting down expensive roots in a beach development in Walton County, Fla., east of Destin — a $3 million home.
Over the past three years, his Rogers Photo Archive in North Little Rock has been on a buying spree, purchasing the vast photo morgues of 11 great (and greatly cash-strapped) American newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times, The Denver Post, the Boston Herald and The Detroit News.