Favorite

Brantley: South toward home 

click to enlarge KETCHIKAN: The sign says it's the salmon capital. Cruise ship capital is more like it, with hundreds of curio shops. Maybe 10,000 passengers on five ships on this day. - MAX BRANTLEY
  • Max Brantley
  • KETCHIKAN: The sign says it's the salmon capital. Cruise ship capital is more like it, with hundreds of curio shops. Maybe 10,000 passengers on five ships on this day.

A two-week cruise from Vancouver to Alaska was nicely timed for the August heat wave. It dipped into the 40s during my visit to the Hubbard Glacier, loudly "calving" with mighty booms of cracking ice.

A brief politically tinged travelogue:

If you stop in Ketchikan, get out of town fast. Five cruise ships dumped maybe 10,000 passengers on the tiny downtown when we stopped. A comparatively small number of cruisers seemed interested in the Tongass National Forest visitor center (whose attractions included a fine documentary on bush pilots). They preferred the T-shirt and fudge shops. We got on a boat to a small fishing lodge with a walkway through a moss-layered rain forest with a champion cedar tree. There, we also ate from a heap of fresh Dungeness crab, mussels, clams and prawns dumped on newspaper-covered picnic tables.

Earlier, we happened to meet the son of a former female friend of the late Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, who said he'd rehomed to Canada after George Bush was given the presidency by the U.S. Supreme Court. You could do worse than Vancouver or Victoria for political asylum. The weather is temperate, in Victoria particularly. The spending on public infrastructure — from transit to, in Victoria, baskets of flowers dangling from every streetlight — is obvious. Except on freeways. Our guide said Vancouver leaders thought freeways destroyed the fabric of a city, besides being costly. So you ride on city streets to the Vancouver airport and to get out of town. One result: a dense and vibrant core city that commands high real estate prices. The neighborhoods are friendly, with sidewalks even. Remember sidewalks? You don't see them often in Little Rock's growth areas. But you will find ever-widening freeways to faraway places along with a decaying core city.

Alaska? It's Arkansas with mountains and glaciers. We saw a mobile home waving a Confederate flag. You'd have to ask Sarah Palin to explain the tie to local culture and heritage. We'd have asked a black person, but we didn't see any. We did see T-shirts and bumper stickers and overheard conversations that suggest some Alaskans despise the black U.S. president even more than the average Arkansan. And speaking of presidential candidates: "That bitch" doesn't rate too highly either, judging by a shopkeeper who loudly shared his opinion just in time for me to stick a moose Nativity scene back on his shelf and exit.

I vowed to come home with something positive to say about Arkansas politicians — though Sen. Tom Cotton's war-mongering and Gov. Asa Hutchinson's First Amendment offense in ordering a halt to freedom of physician choice for women (ending state payments for gynecological services provided by Planned Parenthood) made it hard.

I found an opening in Victoria. The local newspaper lamented the tactics of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He gave two hours' notice of events in British Columbia that occurred hundreds of kilometers from those receiving the late notice. If you happened to get to the scheduled events, you needed credentials to get in. Harper sometimes meets regular people at stores and malls, but the newspaper observed: "Of course, you would have no way of knowing in advance that he's going to be in your local shopping centre, until he suddenly leans over to kiss your baby."

And there I had it: an occasion to say something nice about Gov. Hutchinson. Not Mike Huckabee, who exempts critics such as the Arkansas Times from notice of his events and bars our admittance. Not Tom Cotton, who also freezes out media detractors and otherwise tightly controls access. Not the rest of the Arkansas congressional delegation, who routinely ignore simple questions from the Times. The governor, alone among high Arkansas Republicans, invites us to his public events. He gives us weekly copies of his public schedule. His press staff answers questions, even critical ones on occasion. Now if he would just heed some of our sound advice.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Asa Hutchinson

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Bangin' in LR

    About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Pay attention

    • I have attended community meetings about the recent spike in violence in LR, and police…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • Adawson's comments attribute the plight of black people in the United States to the War…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • Heather Wilson, blacks have NOT been prevented from pursuing the skilled trades as a result…

    • on July 22, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation