The Observer and the political rally 

"Rep. Tim Griffin wants us to work 'til we die," a protestor's sign said, and The Observer wondered what Rep. Griffin's response would be if he were there to see it. "At least!" he might say. He and the other Republican members of the Arkansas congressional delegation have not yet admitted error in their voting to end Medicare and privatize Social Security, and Griffin is famously hard-nosed.

But the Second District congressman was not there, outside the Federal Building on Capitol Avenue, nor any other members of the delegation. Over the years, some have kept offices in the building, but none does now. Sen. John Boozman's Little Rock office is just a few blocks farther west on Capitol, but it's in a private office building, and Boozman, though he supports the Republican plan, has not yet cast an official vote for it. Griffin and brother Reps. Rick Crawford and Steve Womack have.

So the protestors chose to gather at the Federal Building, on a warm weekday afternoon, to express their displeasure with the efforts to cripple two great federal social programs. "Social Security is the only income I have," the man carrying the anti-Griffin sign told The Observer. Many in the group of 30 or so were similarly situated, workers and former workers now unemployed because of age or disability or an economy that simply produces too few jobs. People who know that living on a Social Security check is difficult.

They waved signs at passing motorists — "Rich Play While We Pay," "Stop Corporate Genocide" — and they chanted "Hands Off Social Security" and "Hands Off Medicare." Many drivers honked in support.

Alan Hughes, president of the Arkansas AFL-CIO, led chants and spoke, saying that anyone, Republican or Democrat, who supported cuts in funding for Social Security and Medicare should be removed from office at the next election. A disabled bricklayer testified, his artificial leg clearly visible in the shorts he wore. A retired union member said that Republicans and conservatives had created a myth that Social Security is about to run out of money. The Social Security Fund will have $3.1 trillion as late as 2020, he said, and "very modest" changes in the system can keep it healthy much longer.

The Observer thought back to a meeting in Little Rock last summer, where Tea Party types, many of them on Social Security and Medicare, raged against a health care plan that would be to their own benefit. The protestors here at the Federal Building are notably clearer-headed, and more loyal to their class: middle- and low-income Arkansans. That happens to be the biggest class, too.

The iris is to The Observer as Beauty to the Beast, and so we made our annual trip to the state Capitol grounds to look at the iris in bloom. We arrived at about the same time as a group of Iris Club members who tend to the Capitol's flowers.

The iris were splendid, as always, flaunting their countless shades and combinations of purple and yellow and orange and white. The club ladies talked as they snipped and pulled: "I don't like that Polish Princess." "I love that Free and Easy." One found a misidentified specimen: "That is not Raspberry Rhapsody."

The Observer discovered the Capitol iris years ago, when we were stationed at the Capitol by a great newspaper, and we've continued to visit them since. Actually, we believe now, our interest in iris began in our childhood, piqued by the beds at the family home. But young boys try to suppress feelings for flowers.

Even now, The Observer is a little sensitive about it. When one of the ladies suggested we attend the Central Arkansas Iris Society's annual show later that day, our first response was that we had to go to the ranch and keep rustlers away from the herd. But a few hours later, there we were at Hillcrest Hall, attending our first iris show. A significant corner has been turned, we thought.

The iris here were, if anything, even grander than at the Capitol, there were more varieties, and many of them had ribbons for first, second or third place in their various categories. One of the ladies from the Capitol explained to The Observer what the judges look for. It's not just the prettiest flower that wins.

All these fabulous colors on display, and yet The Observer suddenly realized that he didn't see a red anywhere. There is no red iris, a lady explained. People have tried to produce one for years, research has been done, some slightly reddish tones have emerged. But an iris as red as a geranium? Not in the foreseeable future.

"I don't miss it," she said.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Every secret thing

    The Observer came into the office on Tuesday morning, not quite bright-eyed or bushy tailed thanks to Daylight Savings Time jetlag, to find our colleague Benji Hardy conked out asleep in yet another colleague's office, Benji having pulled an all-nighter to bring you, Dear Reader, this week's cover story.
    • Mar 10, 2015
  • Casting out demons: why Justin Harris got rid of kids he applied pressure to adopt

    Rep. Justin Harris blames DHS for the fallout related to his adoption of three young girls, but sources familiar with the situation contradict his story and paint a troubling picture of the adoption process and the girls' time in the Harris household.
    • Mar 12, 2015
  • Addendum

    he Observer has our regrets, just like everybody else. For example: last week, Yours Truly published a cover story on the increasingly ugly fight over Eureka Springs' Ordinance 2223, which is designed to protect a bunch of groups — including LGBTQ people — from discrimination in housing, employment, accommodations, cake buying, browsing, drinking, gut stuffery, knickknack purchasing, general cavorting, funny postcard mailing and all the other stuff one tends to get up to in the weirdest, friendliest, most magical little town in the Ozarks.
    • Apr 30, 2015

Most Shared

  • Hutchinson administration resists accountability in child rape case

    After a nightmarish revelation about serial rapes by a state-approved foster parent, the Hutchinson administration, from the governor on down, resist talking about how it happened.
  • Little Rock police kill man downtown

    Little Rock police responding to a disturbance call near Eighth and Sherman Streets about 12:40 a.m. killed a man with a long gun, Police Chief Kenton Buckner said in an early morning meeting with reporters.
  • From the mind of Sol LeWitt: Crystal Bridges 'Loopy Doopy': A correction

    Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is installing Sol Lewitt's 70-foot eye-crosser "Wall Drawing 880: Loopy Doopy," waves of complementary orange and green, on the outside of the Twentieth Century Gallery bridge. You can glimpse painters working on it from Eleven, the museum's restaurant, museum spokeswoman Beth Bobbitt said
  • Ted Suhl loses another bid for new trial; faces stiff sentencing recommendation

    Ted Suhl, the former operator of residential and out-patient mental health services, has lost a second bid to get a new trial on his conviction for paying bribes to influence state Human Services Department policies. Set for sentencing Thursday, Suhl faces a government request for a sentence up to almost 20 years. He argues for no more than 33 months.
  • Football and foster kids

    It took a football stadium to lay bare Republican budget hypocrisy in Arkansas.

Latest in The Observer

  • Moving

    The Observer will be moving soon. Not out of The Observatory, thank God, as we're sure it will take the wagon from the 20 Mule Team Borax box to get us away from there after 14 years of accumulation, plus a team of seasoned Aussie wildlife wranglers to herd our pair of surly wildcats into a crate. No, just out of the office we've been in at the Fortress of Employment for going on five years, which is bad enough. We're moving to the other side of the building here in a few months.
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • Playing catch-up

    What with the big, clear-the-decks Road Trip issue last week — which we're sure you stuffed immediately in your motorcar's glove box, turtle hull or catchall, for when you get a hankerin' to gallivant — The Observer has had two glorious weeks to Observe since the last time we conversed.
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Old Gray Lady rides again

    There was a reunion of Arkansas Gazette employees last Saturday night, nearly 25 years to the day it was shut down.
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Jodi Morris's lifelong ties to the National Park Service

Jodi Morris's lifelong ties to the National Park Service

"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments


© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation