On the winning side 

There were a lot of interesting things that happened all over in the country and in Arkansas at last week’s voting. For the first time I had more winners than losers, and...

• Since 1994 the Republican Party has sent more senators and representatives to Washington than the Democrats. Last week the Democrats elected more, and because of that the Democrats will run both the House and Senate starting in January.

• There are three counties seven days after the voting that have not turned in their figures. They are Dallas, Garland and St. Francis. They ought to be ashamed.

• While the Abramoff scandals and others involving Republican senators and representatives probably caused many people to vote for Democrats, the Wall Street Journal reminds us that there are Democrats who are also suspected of scandal. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, now expected to become the Senate majority leader, is accused of making a deal with Abramoff and of illegal use of campaign money. Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida is trying to be chairman of the Intelligence Committee even though he was impeached years ago by Congress when he was a judge but acquitted of taking a $150,000 bribe. The Justice Department is also investigating Rep. Allan Mollohan of West Virginia for some mischief and Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana who is suspected of receiving bribes.

• For the first time in the history of the country, a female will become the speaker of the House. She is Nancy Pelosi of California, a Democrat who was elected to a ninth term last week. She lives in San Francisco, is 66 years old, married and has five children,

• Sen. Hillary Clinton, former Arkansan and now a New Yorker, spent $40 million to be re-elected to the United States Senate.

• Last week, Eureka Springs, which is different from every other city in Arkansas and most other states in the country, voted that its policemen should give low priority to arresting people carrying small amounts of marijuana. The vote was 598 yes, 345 no. By the way, Colorado and Nevada voted no to the possession of even one ounce of marijuana.

• Mayors are usually very strong in getting people they like elected to the city council. This time North Little Rock’s Mayor Patrick Henry Hays, who has had his job for 18 years, worked earnestly to elect Tom Brown alderman. But Debi Ross got twice the number of votes that Brown got. So the city council will now have two female members rather than one.

• Lawyer Mark Stodola got about twice as many votes as his nearest opponent for mayor of Little Rock last week.  But since Stodola’s law firm represents the city’s Little Rock National Airport, some are saying, including the city attorney, that elected officials cannot do business with the city unless the Board of Directors votes to allow it. Stodola’s firm was paid $145,000 last year for the work it did for the airport.

While most of us who hate the Iraqi war are happy that the Democrats now command both the House and Senate, there’s no guarantee that President Bush won’t continue sending American soldiers over there. Fifty-five percent of us want our soldiers brought home.

The Muslims steamed up by their preachers are fighting themselves and are trying to kill as many intruders as they can. So far, 2,829 Americans have been killed in Iraq.

Because of the outcome of the election, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the leader of the Iraq invasion, has been fired and replaced by Robert Gates, the president of Texas A&M. Also, the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel, will soon offer a method to try to end American soldiers fighting in Iraq.

But who knows if the president will give way? The only thing I have heard that makes me think he might was hearing Rick Atkinson speak to the Political Animals Club in Little Rock last week. Atkinson is a retired lieutenant general, now a reporter for the Washington Post. 

Atkinson knows Gates, who once headed the Central Intelligence Agency. Gates could change things in Iraq, Atkinson said, identifying Gates as someone who knows Washington, isn’t pretentious and is very good at making compromises. Gates also has been on the Iraq Study Group.

Atkinson hates war, like all soldiers. He reminded his audience that in the history of the world there have been only 29 years when we didn’t have a war.


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