Huck’s big moment 

Mike Huckabee got a speaking spot near prime time during the Republican National Convention, but the performance was not likely to catapult him to stardom.

For one thing, many national commentators took note that Huckabee's speech featured overly familiar gags recycled from his presidential campaign. And he was widely criticized for retelling a favorite story about a Joe T. Robinson teacher who greeted first-day students in a classroom with no desks. Later in the day, some military veterans carried desks in. The point of the painful extended metaphor has never been entirely clear. Wrote James Fallows in the Atlantic: “… somehow a little portion of each of our brains and souls is zapped away each time a prominent figure says something that is obvious nonsense — remember, the Nazis had school desks too! — and knows he can count on a cheer by a closing reference to country and flag.”

Huckabee also was caught in a number of factual errors. He erroneously said 1) that Abraham Lincoln founded the Republican Party; 2) that Sarah Palin got more votes for mayor than Joe Biden got for president; 3) that John McCain had not succumbed to torture by making critical statements about the U.S. while in captivity, and 4) that Lincoln spoke words about government apparently uttered by Gerald Ford. Not so hot, but probably good enough for Fox News, his new employer.

You've got a friend

Recent reporting about Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin includes that, during her time as mayor of tiny Wasilla, Alaska, she hired a Washington lobbying firm that helped the town rake in millions in federal earmarks — those “pork barrel” government payouts legislators like to sneak into appropriations bills to benefit their home districts. That got us wondering: Have the city fathers of Little Rock hired a friend in Washington?

You bet your sweet bippy.  For going on three years now, the city has had a contract with the firm of James Lee Witt Associates, run by former FEMA head James Lee Witt. Scott Carter, communications manager for the city of Little Rock, said that the annual cost of the contract with Witt Associates is split three ways, with the city and Little Rock National Airport each paying $2,500 a month, and the Port of Little Rock paying “a little more.”

Carter said that the lobbying firm has been helpful in addressing levee certification issues and assisting with several federal grants. In addition, Carter said, they've helped the airport get more funding and have helped secure money for city road improvement.  

Neurotic Arkansas

University of Cambridge psychological researchers have posed questions to more than 600,000 people in the U.S. to come up with a personality map of the 50 states.

Sigh. Arkansas didn't do so hot. Summary: Arkansans are more likely to lead stressful lives and are less friendly and trusting. The conclusions are based on on-line answers to 44 short questions, such as, “Do you see yourself as someone who is outgoing?”

Arkansas ranked fair to poor in categories for such positive attributes as extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness. But the state was the 10th most neurotic state, exhibiting traits of anxiety, stress and impulsiveness. The summary for top states in this category:

“The impact of neuroticism is particularly strong in relation to public health. Exercise is less popular and life-expectancy lower. There is a comparatively high mortality rate due to heart disease and cancer. In states with a high-level neuroticism rating, people are less likely to go out or spend time with friends. Entertainment and the arts tend not to flourish in these states.”

Results are to be published in the new issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science.


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