Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
Square New Deal
The foundation of all civilization is built on principles — chiseled from the bedrock of antiquity. It cannot blow away like a line in the sand, nor disappear in the tragedies, failures and disappointments of life. It endures even when the wall it supports is breached.
Here in Arkansas, the Barbarians (corporate oligarchy) long ago breached our walls. Today we continue to see firsthand how they operate, trampling the norms and standards by which civilized people function. Basic among these moralities is food security for the least among us.
For years we saw the Barbarians coming. We saw them gathering on the mountain range, watched as they crossed the plains, forded the river, and came right up to our wall. And at every stage along the way we jumped up and down, gnashed our teeth, wrung our hands, and shouted at each other the Barbarians are coming, the Barbarians are coming. Someone somewhere needs to stand up and stop them.
In March 2013, the 4th District congressman of Arkansas stated that he thought federal spending should shift "back towards the military, away from domestic programs." These were words from a congressman who represented a district that has had chronic poverty and top-of-the-chart hunger for decades. A few weeks before Rep. Cotton made this statement I was already thinking to myself, "When the last drop of grace and beauty, of gentleness and wonder is rendered from the fiery furnaces of the Barbarians, what shall we have left?" And I had already decided to take action in the most logical way I could think of by running against Rep. Cotton in the 2014 election.
Today, our whole state in terms of hunger is known as "that dismal state" with the "least [food] secure population." And at the same time we are home to some of the wealthiest multinational corporations in the world, in commercial sectors like, agriculture, retail, and investment banking. And whose state government for years, through corporate-backed Democratic and Republican rule, has served at the pleasure of the Barbarians.
Arkansas will continue to be subjugated by the forces of unbridled greed until we uncinch the corporate saddle from our back. But before we can uncinch that saddle, we have to sever the corporate made stirrups that guard the cinch.
There are incredible people in the state of Arkansas who are fighting to rid our body politic of these Barbarians. They are organizing, and some good ideas are being tossed around. I realize that home and hearth, and making a living stymies most of us from any attempt at addressing the ever-increasing difficulties facing our state. But we have to find the time to voice ideas that may one day turn into action to counter what feels like the colonization of Arkansas. Like Paul Spencer of Little Rock and others with the citizen's group Regnat Populus who continue to try and restore our electoral system through ballot initiatives, or Kevin Bell from Alma who has an idea for a temporary political party. And yes, while political parties are temporary I get his point; they don't set out to be temporary. Furthermore, whether this party takes root, or we continue the fight as individuals, or a loosely connected group, we will continue.
In studying all the ideas put forth so far it is clear that the first step all of us can take right now is to register our signature. Because in order to get a candidate, initiative, or referendum on the ballot that is not bought by the corporate elite, we the people have to register our name, and keep on re-registering it every time we move.
Incidentally, in giving Mr. Bell's idea consideration I thought about the kind of short-term political party most Arkansans could back, and came up with the Square New Deal Party. The name and platform is from President Theodore Roosevelt's Square Deal, and thirty years later his fifth-cousin President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. The SND platform would be a combination of TR's three Cs: Control of corporations, consumer protection, and conservation of natural resources, and FDR's three Rs: relief, recovery and reform. In addition, most Arkansans can pat their feet to TR and FDR's sentiments on money's influence in politics. TR: "To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics, is the first task of the statesmanship of the day." FDR: "Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob."
In order to overcome the paralysis of indecision to fight back against the Barbarians remember this — we have all learned how to fight, and we have learned how to dance, and for the rest of our lives our greatest challenge will be in knowing who to fight beside and dance with. We who have pledged to fight the Barbarians would welcome you in the fight, if not today, then tomorrow, or next year, or a decade from now because this idea is not going away — and our principles endure.
Janis K. Percefull
Hot Springs, Arkansas
From the web
In response to a post on the Arkansas Blog about the long invocation on the state Capitol grounds after the Christmas parade by Jason Palermo, minister for a group that seeks to insert Christianity into government and the choice of Secretary of State Mark Martin to give the prayer.
This type of stunt drives more people away from Jesus than it attracts. It's all done for ego. "Look at me, look at me, I'm evangelizing! If you think it's inappropriate, then it's even better because the Bible says I'll be persecuted for my faith. Jesus may have said it's best to pray in private and not boast, but clearly he wasn't talking about me."
Paying Top Dollar for Legislators
I just love how Secretary of Religion Martin says there were no complaints. Who would we complain to? Anyone watching AR politics these past few years has seen multiple Republicans commit multiple ethical (if not illegal) violations and they are never disciplined for it. We all know there is no one in our state government who seems to be able to rein in these right-winger evangelical types. Now I realize that they all run in the same pretend-Christian circles so they don't see a thing wrong with this.
I complained and told the story on the AR Blog because I knew it was the only place where others would understand and care. Arkansas has got to do better in our next election. The fundies have got to go.
In response to an Arkansas Blog post about American Electric Power leaving the right-wing-legislation churning group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) because of ALEC's opposition to action on climate change and renewable energy:
Any time anyone or any group leaves ALEC, a young black man passes a heavily armed cop without a single bullet wound. Yes ... it's just that powerful!
ALEC isn't ISIS, but it's a darkly evil group that works to make life harder for the working man or woman on down to every poor person in the NRA-USA. I grapple to find a comparison. It's the business version of the John Birch Society or maybe the KKK. Its specialty is writing bad bills for lazy or stupid legislators who can't or won't write a bill themselves. Thousands of these bad bills have been passed into law in every state and we let our legislators have a free pass when a private group does their work for them. Does this happen to you where you work? The answer is hell, no!
Why we let ALEC get away with what they do is a complete mystery to me. We ought to at least punish any of our legislators who let ALEC do their work ... that we pay them to do, that we expect them to do themselves.
We need a list of American corporations who are still members of ALEC so we can work to never do business with them ever again. I can't tell you the joy I feel every time I don't buy something made by a company owned by the Koch brothers. It's a small victory, but it's a personal victory all the same. We must get these shadow groups out of our government from bottom to top.
In response to a Rock Candy riff about our "dangerous diamond mine" by Jeremy Brasher and Matthew Rowe ridiculing a marketing site that said Arkansas was "the most likely state to have violence occur over Black Friday sales":
This is cute, funny, etc. It also reminds me of the constant refrain heard from Natural Staters whilst there: essentially admitting that objective observations about Arkansas (racist, misogynist, homophobic, impoverished, obese, Christianity-obsessed, "faith"-based, anti-science, provincial, resentful of "outsiders," resistant to change, ill-educated, dumb, "Good Ol' Boys," et al.) were true — by countering with the bullying loser phrase of final recourse: "If you don't like it, leave." This superficially clever, funny piece about "dangerous diamond mines" boils down to one giant, "Yes, but ... " ad hominem attack on outsiders' journalism and widely acknowledged statistics as "Dumb. Lazy." Like so much else from so many Arkansans, it ignores facts with dismissive, defensive potshots — giving tacit permission to continue business as usual instead of ever addressing massive and historic root causes for Arkansas's ongoing ranking at or near the bottom of the 50 states in desirable qualities ... and at or near the top in undesirable ones. It's not "outsider" journalists or statistics that are "dumb," "lazy" or "supremely stupid," boys. Your piece, once the self-satisfied faux-superior smirks die down, turns out to be just another self-serving anti-reality Troll Hit. Instead of what Andy Borowitz's brilliantly crafted Tweets are to satire, you're what Dennis Miller and Victoria Jackson are to comedy: laboring hard over ultimately dubious jibes in defense of the status quo.