Favorite

The scholars of Clinton 

click to enlarge dumas1-1.jpg

What are the chances that a little town of 2,300 would produce two scholars with Ph.D.s from a university in the Islamic kingdom of the United Arab Emirates?

That's exactly what we learned last week. Clinton, county seat of Van Buren County, boasts two residents with Ph.D.s from Belford University: Dr. Johnny Rhoda, a financial planner, preacher and prominent Republican Party leader, and Dr. Maxwell Sniffingwell, a stud English bulldog who lives with a local veterinarian.

Dr. Rhoda's doctorate is in business administration; Dr. Sniffingwell's is in theriogenology, a big name for the study of animal reproduction. You see, Belford University confers hundreds of degrees every year, not on the basis of coursework but of life experiences. Max Sniffingwell maintains that he has sired far more than his share of little bulldogs.

Johnny Rhoda has been a functionary in the Republican Party — he lost badly in a race for the state Senate in 1996 and he is the party's First Congressional District chairman — but last week the party's chairman, Doyle Webb, raised his prominence by making him the plaintiff in a lawsuit against Governor Beebe and the other constitutional officers, which alleges that their use of state cars puts them over the state salary limits. The suit is supposed to provide a big lift to Republican candidates.

Outside Van Buren County we might not have known about Rhoda's great academic achievements had it not been for Tim Griffin, the Republican candidate for the U. S. House of Representatives. Before the lawsuit, Griffin put out a news release announcing that Dr. Johnny Rhoda had come on board as an adviser to run his campaign in the northern part of the district.

Griffin referred to him as "Dr." and explained that he had a Ph.D. in business administration from Belford University and years of successful business dealings along with pastorship of a church. The church happens to be in Rhoda's home on a county road north of Clinton. Such were his business successes that the local bank foreclosed on his home/church because he had not made mortgage payments. The home/church was auctioned by the county clerk in July but Rhoda still holds services there. (He will also ordain you as a minister, for a small fee presumably, if you answer 25 questions about the Bible on his spiritual website.)

Belford University's sole presence in the United States, as far as anyone knows, is a postoffice box in Humble, Texas. You apply for a degree on the Internet by clicking on a box that says "Order Now." You pay a fee, depending on the degree you want and whether you want to graduate with honors, which costs an extra $75. The diploma is mailed within a week from a place where it is legal, Abu Dhabi.

Belford U. got extra notoriety this week when Dr. Ben Mays, a Clinton veterinarian, posted his bulldog Maxwell Sniffingwell's 2009 Ph.D. from Belford U., which cost him $549. Max's owner, a member of the state Board of Education, is on a small crusade to stop people from duping clients by advertising phony academic achievements. Arkansas is one of the places where it is still legal to gull clients that way.

Dr. Rhoda and Dr. Sniff will have to serve as Arkansas's entry in the fake resume sweepstakes. From the Connecticut Senate race, where one candidate had to backtrack on his hints that he had fought in Vietnam, to Christine O'Donnell's serial fabrications in Delaware, the election season has been marked by candidates getting caught in lies about their past and their qualifications.

In Arkansas, we have had to deal with only the usual petty exaggerations. Griffin, who fed us Rhoda's puffery, has had to scrub up his vitae from time to time. He had boasted that he had prosecuted 40 criminal cases during a stint as a Reservist at Fort Campbell, Ky. The Army said, however, that he had been an assistant counsel and only on three cases, none of which went to trial. Now his vitae says only that he worked on the case of a private who pleaded guilty to trying to kill his platoon sergeant.

Early resumes mentioned Griffin's work for Prosecuting Attorney Betty Dickey at Pine Bluff in 1996, when he managed her losing race for attorney general. Dickey nosedived when it was revealed that the courts had dropped charges against more than 90 persons because her office missed the speedy trial deadlines for trying them. That duty has been scrubbed from Griffin's life story. He was working for the government in Washington then.

For a guy whose career was spent trashing politicians of the other party, you could say those are trivial sins.

Favorite

Tags:

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Who needs courts?

    Not since the John Birch Society's "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards littered Southern roadsides after the Supreme Court's school-integration decision in 1954 has the American judicial system been under such siege, but who would have thought the trifling Arkansas legislature would lead the charge?
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Awaiting remorse

    William Faulkner, who wrote a fine novel or two about coming to terms with an inglorious past and the healing power of remorse, would have liked January — a few days of it, anyway.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Trump's obsession

    Is it a only a personality disorder, a deeper character flaw, or just an insecure ego, this obsession of President Trump with settling scores with his predecessor, Barack Obama, and critics of all stripes?
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Religion as excuse upends Constitution

    Tirades over religious liberty since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages nationwide have awakened the ghost of James Madison, the author of the constitutional doctrine on the matter, and it isn't happy that his effort to protect religious inquiry in America is being corrupted.
    • Jul 9, 2015
  • Guns, God and gays

    Many more mass shootings like the one last week in Roseburg, Ore., will stain the future and no law will pass that might reduce the carnage. That is not a prediction but a fact of life that is immune even to Hillary Clinton.
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • AEC dumps ALEC

    No matter which side of the battle over global warming you're on, that was blockbuster news last week. No, not the signing of the climate-change treaty that commits all of Earth's 195 nations to lowering their greenhouse-gas emissions and slowing the heating of the planet, but American Electric Power's announcement that it would no longer underwrite efforts to block renewable energy or federal smokestack controls in the United States.
    • Dec 17, 2015

Most Shared

  • Home again

    The plan, formulated months ago, was this: Ellen and I were going to go to Washington for inauguration festivities, then fly out the morning after the balls for Panama City and a long planned cruise to begin with a Panama Canal passage.
  • Who needs courts?

    Not since the John Birch Society's "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards littered Southern roadsides after the Supreme Court's school-integration decision in 1954 has the American judicial system been under such siege, but who would have thought the trifling Arkansas legislature would lead the charge?
  • Bungling

    If the late, great Donald Westlake had written spy thrillers instead of crime capers, they'd read a lot like the opening weeks of the Trump administration.
  • UPDATE: Campus carry bill amended by Senate to require training

    The Senate this morning added an amendment to Rep. Charlie Collins campus carry bill that incorporates the effort denied in committee yesterday to require a 16-hour additional training period before university staff members with concealed carry permits may take the weapons on campus.
  • Director to resign from state court administrative office

    Supreme Court Chief Justice John Dan Kemp announced today the resignation of J.D. Gingerich, long-time director of the administrative office of the courts.

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • Who needs courts?

    Not since the John Birch Society's "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards littered Southern roadsides after the Supreme Court's school-integration decision in 1954 has the American judicial system been under such siege, but who would have thought the trifling Arkansas legislature would lead the charge?
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Awaiting remorse

    William Faulkner, who wrote a fine novel or two about coming to terms with an inglorious past and the healing power of remorse, would have liked January — a few days of it, anyway.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Trump's obsession

    Is it a only a personality disorder, a deeper character flaw, or just an insecure ego, this obsession of President Trump with settling scores with his predecessor, Barack Obama, and critics of all stripes?
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
  1 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  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Future is female

    • Good article. I think you are right about running a new type of candidate, with…

    • on February 17, 2017
  • Re: Bungling

    • When did liberals and so called progressives start hating on old Russia? In the the…

    • on February 17, 2017
  • Re: Bungling

    • Press conference? Is that what that was? I thought I'd had the misfortune of stumbling…

    • on February 17, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation