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If wanting to raise the severance tax to a fair level is “clownery,” as Sen. Bob Johnson calls it, what is the proper name for Senator Johnson's position, resisting any attempt to make rich special interests pay their fair share of taxes? Stealery? Whorery?

Whatever the name, it's popular in the legislature, though no one else practices it so conscientiously as Johnson. Sen. Shane Broadway, a comparatively fair-minded legislator who favors the severance-tax increase, says that some senators who don't want to vote for it might be brought around if they're promised specific highway improvements in their districts. But why would any senator not want to vote for a proposal that would shift a little of the tax burden from the poor to the rich? In more populist states, at least a few legislators would be howling for approval of such a measure. Arkansas, however, has a long history of knuckling under to the privileged few. Racism was about the only part of populism that caught on here. Arkansans have paid a price for their unwillingness to stand up for themselves. Let's not miss this chance. Insist that your legislators support the severance-tax increase. And if they don't, vote for the initiated act to raise the tax that is sure to be on the general-election ballot. Even Governor Beebe, a former legislator himself, is coming to realize this might be the best approach. Maybe he sees because he's a former legislator himself.

Nader creeps again

When Ralph Nader leers at the television camera and makes threats against the American people, it's almost as scary as when Osama bin Laden does it.

If not for Nader, George Bush would not be in the White House. Four thousand American soldiers and 100,000 Iraqi civilians would not have died. Prisoners of war would not have been tortured — America didn't believe in torture before Nader and Bush. Fewer subsidies would have been given the rich in America, fewer penalties imposed on the poor. Civil liberties would not have been so massively violated. Air and water would be cleaner. Fewer reactionaries would sit on the Supreme Court.

Now the make-believe progressive warns that he may run again, and again take votes from the Democratic presidential nominee so that the Republican candidate can win. All of the potential Republican candidates are committed to continuing Bush's policies. “Four more years” will be Nader's campaign slogan, and Corporate America will again reward his betrayal of American workers. It's a nasty business. Give Nader credit: He probably wouldn't do it if it didn't pay well.

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