Sen. Blanche Lincoln has proudly announced editorial endorsements from newspapers in Fort Smith, Springdale, Bentonville and Fayetteville. The newspapers, which also endorsed Rep. John Boozman in the Republican primary, lauded Lincoln for, among others, not always getting on board with the Democratic Party agenda.
A little useful background. The endorsing newspapers share an important factor – control by Little Rock financier Warren Stephens, a Republican whose political outlook is often reflected on his newspapers' opinion pages. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, contributions from Stephens and related businesses constituted the third largest single source of contributions to Lincoln from 2005-10, $47,600. Top givers: The Texas law firm, Nix Patterson and Roach, which gave $60,200 and which is believed, among other interests, to be supporting a federal magistrate in Texas, Caroline Craven, for an Arkansas federal judgeship. Her name is one of three Lincoln has sent to the White House for possible nomination. Second-biggest giver? Wal-Mart Stores.
Progressive groups have reported frequently on the extensive campaign spending by wealthy families such as the Waltons and Stephenses of Arkansas on members of Congress like Lincoln who've advocated an end to, or drastic reduction in, the estate tax. These changes would be worth billions to the families.
‘True Blood' author in Times
We enjoyed a Q&A in last week's Sunday New York Times Magazine with Charlaine Harris of Magnolia, the vampire thriller author whose work is the basis for the HBO hit “True Blood.” We like her politics. Excerpt:
“As a married woman with three children who lives in small-town Arkansas, how did you get so interested in bisexual vampires?
“Honestly, I don't know. Gay rights is just one of the social issues I'm interested in. I think that people might be less tense about it if we would all accept the fact that not everyone is wired the same way. I have a lot of friends who are gay, so it's kind of a natural thought progression.
“There are that many gays in rural Arkansas?
“You would be surprised. ….
“Have you met your Arkansas neighbor and ordained Baptist minister Mike Huckabee?
“No. I've had the chance to, but I've let that pass by. That's as much as I want to say about it.”
Old habits die hard. We may have a new Republican majority in the legislature, but like the old Democratic majority, it still doesn't hurt to have a lawmaker spouse to land a part-time job during the legislative session.
When we first asked Gov. Mike Beebe about the "circuit breaker" idea out of Arizona (automatically opting out of Medicaid expansion if the feds reduce the matching rates in the future), he said it was fine but noted that states can already opt out at any time, an assurance he got in writing from the feds.
An interesting controversy is brewing in Conway Public Schools, periodically a scene of discord as more liberal constituents object to the heavy dose of religion that powerful local churches have tried to inject into the schools, particularly in sex education short on science and long on abstinence.
Before last Friday night, the saddest, most "depressing" Depression-era story I had read was Horace McCoy's "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" However, after watching The Arkansas Repertory Theatre's opening performance of William Inge's "A Loss of Roses," I can attest that this play is as rough and unflinching as that Depression-era tale, or any other.
Perhaps U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin might want to reconsider his earlier decision not to include Republican Rep. Loy Mauch on the list of Republican candidates he'd asked not to use his campaign contributions, having read some of what they'd written.