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.
Last year, the Arkansas Claims Commission voted unanimously to award Gyronne Buckley $460,000 for spending 11 years in prison on wrongful convictions. On July 8, a legislative panel reversed and dismissed the commission's award.
Over the long holiday weekend just passed — a glorious and, dare we say it, chilly at times weekend, rarer in July in these parts than a politician with good sense — The Observer was able to get outdoors at night, just for the sake of being there, for an extended period of time.
I just read your article about "America's Worst Politicians" (July 3). When I read or hear about how terrible our politicians are I try to figure out just what it is that generates those complaints. Are those "worst politicians" really different from the rest of us?
The tween-pop Elvis is coming to Verizon for what is guaranteed to be the most frenzied concert Little Rock sees all year. Now, the Biebs has gotten more than his fair share of criticism since his astronomical ascent from YouTube scrubbery to international megafame, but we're not interested in calling out the omnipresent young pup for his fortunes, deserved or otherwise.
Last week, Rep. Josh Miller, a Republican legislator from Heber Springs, spoke against the private option Medicaid expansion last week. He invoked FDR's New Deal — a "hand up," he said, not a "handout."
Pam Hobbs, mother of Steve Branch, one of three eight-year-olds killed in the 1993 West Memphis slayings that became the West Memphis 3 case, says new information unearthed in a new documentary, "West of Memphis," has persuaded her to call for the state of Arkansas to reopen the case.