Smart Talk, Feb. 25 

Winning tickets at Oaklawn

Excitement is huge about the April 9 Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn Park thanks to the $5 million purse Oaklawn owner Charles Cella has put up to match the country's top fillies, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta.

Some lucky ticket holders are already cashing in on the race. They are people holding $2.50 grandstand seats for that racing day, the second to last of the live racing season. EBay auctions for the seats have been lively, with the first 36 closed deals recorded on eBay reflecting an average ticket price of $225. Many tickets remain on offer, some with owners seeking $500 and $600 each. You can still count on watching the race from the rail, if you're pushy enough, for $2.

A whiter shade of pale

Obituaries for segregationist Jim Johnson, who took his life last week at 85, noted the name he'd given his Beaverfork Lake home, Whitehaven. It was a thumb in the eye of critics of his politics, Johnson said, a way to tell them “to kiss my ass.”
Who knew that another famous Arkansas politician of decidedly different political stripe occupied a home known as Whitehaven? We are indebted to UCA archivist Jimmy Bryant for this information. In 2000, President Bill and Hillary Clinton bought a home for post-presidential occupation in Washington near Embassy Row for $2.85 million. It, too, is known as Whitehaven. Not to worry about messages. The home is on Whitehaven Street and journalists long ago concluded that was the obvious derivation of the home's name. Clinton probably is safe from criticism, too, for having lived in the White House.

The wisdom of Wooldridge

A liberal blog, Blue Arkansas, couldn't help but notice First District congressional candidate Tim Wooldridge's tout of his board membership in the Families First Foundation. It's supported by Church of Christ congregations and crusades on a variety of social issues — abortion, gambling, alcohol and same-sex marriage. Its aversion to homosexuality includes a statement endorsing “wise, informed discrimination” against homosexuals. In employment? Housing? Association? Criminal prosecution? The statement doesn't specify, but it's unpleasant to contemplate. Says Families First:

“Are Christians guilty of discrimination because of a refusal to tolerate homosexuality? No. There is a difference in wise, informed discrimination and prejudice! Discrimination against what is bad is necessary for the preservation of good. Did past cultures that practiced discrimination know something the current culture should learn? Unless truth has surfaced to discount the social policies of the past, then a similar discrimination against homosexuality and for heterosexuality appears needful for the social good.”

Wooldridge is the former legislator who once introduced a bill to bring back public hangings — a youthful indiscretion, he now says. He's also a paid lobbyist for the Arkansas Association of Public Universities. Members include the University of Arkansas, which has an explicit policy AGAINST discrimination on account of sexual orientation. Doesn't apply to contractors like Wooldridge, presumably.

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