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Always high prices — always

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee has always said he’s a happy Wal-Mart shopper, but you can’t accuse him of emulating the Arkansas retail giant’s low cost pricing tactics.

We checked into the redesigned website of the governor’s Hope for America PAC, the vehicle by which he is raising money to fly around the country to test the waters to make a presidential run.

The website (www.hopeforamericapac.org) now features an “e-store.” Currently, there’s no campaign stuff for sale, but you can buy copies of four of Huckabee’s books. You wouldn’t want to buy there, unless your goal is to maximize the amount of money you put in the Huckster’s pocket.

Here are the books, the website’s price and, in parentheses, the lowest available price for a new copy found in an Amazon search on Jan. 2: “From Hope to Higher Ground,” $29.95 ($13.95); “Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and a Fork,” $29.95 ($7.48); “Character is the Issue,” $21.95 ($10.19); and “Living Beyond Your Lifetime,” $21.95 ($14.03).

Conflict in Kensett

U.S. Sen.-Elect Jim Webb (D-Va.) has written a book called “Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish shaped America.” This is from an article by JoAnn Wypijewski about Webb and his book in The Progressive magazine:

“On the wall in Webb’s new Senate office, there no doubt hangs a four-by-seven black-and-white photograph framed in barn wood of a gaunt man in overalls and knee-high boots with ‘a hard, bitter look that could crack a rock.’ It was taken in 1936 in Kensett, Arkansas, and the man is B.H. Hodges, Webb’s grandfather. He was born in Kentucky, mined coal in Carbondale, Illinois, and moved to Arkansas, where he’d heard there were diamonds, but there weren’t. He crossed the small-town baron A.P. Mills one day when he told local blacks that they were being charged higher interest rates than whites at Mills’s grocery store, told Mills he was un-Christian and could go to hell. He took his family back to the coal fields … ”

A.P. Mills was the father of Wilbur D. Mills, longtime chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the United States House of Representatives, often described by the media as “the second most powerful man in Washington.” If either Mills were alive today, he might tell a different version of the A.P. Mills-B.H. Hodges encounter.

Webb is not fond of certain other prominent Arkansans either, according to Wypijewski: “Jim Webb is an angry man. He is angry at Yankees and corporations, which might as well be Yankees, even if their scions are named Walton and they’re billionaires from Arkansas. … ”

Where lies a steel-drivin’ man?

A review of a new book, “Steel Drivin’ Man: John Henry, the Untold Story of an American Legend” by Scott Reynolds Nelson, says that some people dispute the alleged “facts” given in various versions of the John Henry story. These skeptics say that “He wasn’t in Virginia or West Virginia, but in Alabama or Arkansas or Texas, all of which have historical markers claiming he fought the steel drill there.”

We’d be delighted to claim John Henry as an Arkansan, but we can’t find anyone who knows of the existence of a John Henry marker in Arkansas, and at least one well-known historian doubts that such a marker exists. The state History Commission has no record of a John Henry marker, but the commission keeps track only of state-authorized historical markers; it doesn’t know about markers put up by private organizations or local governments. If anyone knows the whereabouts of a John Henry marker in Arkansas, please contact the Times. We suspect the marker might be somewhere in the vicinity of the Gurdon Ghost Light.

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