Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
BREAKING: Forwarding racist emails is not OK
Among the emails turned up by Freedom of Information requests of Leslie Rutledge's tenure at the Department of Human Services: an email written in a grotesquely offensive dialect that Rutledge forwarded. Rutledge's excuse: She only forwarded the racist material "without comment." She blamed the email's author, who emerged to announce that those criticizing the note were simply unfamiliar "with literary technique." Rutledge defenders on social media invoked Mark Twain (if you're using Twain to defend a embarrassing, slapdash email written in the 21st century, you're already in hot water — is the n-word cool too?). Here is a sample of the "literary technique": "baby's momma done turn into a ho and a stripper an she be raisin' fusses and kickin' and bitin' and whoopin dis man ..." This mix of ham-fisted Ebonics stereotypes and Uncle Remus dialect isn't how anyone of any race speaks today. It's how some white people speak to make fun of black people. To be charitable, maybe Rutledge just didn't know how offensive this was. Given her petulant, blame-the-liberals defensive crouch, she will never learn. Her latest excuse — that there were no racial undertones at all, and the email merely "sounds like country talk" — strains our credulity, and our charity.
Quote of the week
"How will [Leslie Rutledge] 'protect' all of us when she doesn't even respect all Arkansans or lacks the judgment to recognize she doesn't? ... [I]t would be heartening if she would just take responsibility for what she did and apologize, not continue the excuse-making of 'I just forwarded what my friend sent to me.' "
—State Sen. Joyce Elliot
The demagogues must be crazy
As Election Day gets closer, the demagoguery is going into high gear. U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton recently told a tele-townhall that ISIS was going to join forces with Mexican drug cartels and attack Arkansas. The claim, which Cotton's camp later said was based on blog posts from various right-wing websites, is without merit — but might succeed at least in sewing panic for political profit. Meanwhile Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway), being challenged by a surprisingly frisky young upstart, Tyler Pearson, said that parole should be abolished entirely in the wake of the tragic murder of real estate agent Beverly Carter. When Pearson pointed out that Rapert's proposal "would likely bankrupt our state," Rapert responded only as demagogues can: "I'd like you to ask Mrs. Carter's family today if she wished that that man who should have been in prison was there wwhen he killed her." Finally, if there's going to be populist rabble-rousing, you know old friend Mike Huckabee (not running for anything at the moment, but eyeing the 2016 Iowa presidential caucus) will be in the mix. He said that if Republicans didn't go back to full-throated discrimination against gay people, he'd leave the party.
Secretary of State Mark Martin dodged this week's AETN debate, the only major candidate to do so for any office. He blamed a scheduling conflict. Odd because he hasn't made a public appearance in months. Might be nice to hear about, say, his failure to adequately inform the public about the new voter ID law. A number of local ink-stained wretches in town have stories of Martin literally crying when faced with mildly adversarial questions, so cowering at home may be the best approach.
The shamelessness of Mike Maggio, by the numbers
Maggio, who was removed from his elected position as circuit judge on account of ethical violations, filed a claim for unemployment compensation from the state of Arkansas. It is likely the claim will be withdrawn.
$451: weekly unemployment Maggio would receive if unemployment claim approved
$11,275: maximum payment Maggio could receive
0: number of public officials claiming or receiving unemployment after leaving office, according to the recollection of state unemployment officials
There were lots of debates this week. A brief summary: Republicans said "Obama" a lot. Asa Hutchinson said Mike Ross' "knees buckled" after the tragic Sandy Hook school shooting (Ross' pro-gun exuberance was insufficient in the immediate wake of news of the slaughter of 20 children, according to Hutchinson).
Quote of the week 2
"We basically took a shotgun to a problem that needed a .22"
—Bill Clinton on mass incarceration in the United States, addressing the U.S. Conference of Mayors at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock last week
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