Archive | Campaigns RSS feed for this section

Clinton’s “Crime Act” comments not the crime, it’s intolerance of a new party

7 Apr
2016-04-07 (1) If I needed to provide a more specific illustration of just how my old party – the party of FDR, The Kennedys, LBJ, and Clinton built on common purpose, nationalism, and populist policies meant to extend opportunity to the most people irrespective of background and region – slowly worked to abandon me over the past 6-10 years as I was left to toil as a hopeless Red Stater orphaned by national strategists and still touting the glory days of sound economic priorities and political compromise from the 1990s, then today I certainly received a glaring case-in-point. By now, you’ve been bombarded somewhere by the Bill Clinton bickering flap with more aggressive protesting from “Black Lives Matter” campaign disruptors while stumping for his wife today.

CLINTON:

“The ones that won’t let you answer are afraid of the truth,” Bill Clinton admonished protesters at a campaign event for Hillary Clinton today in Philadelphia. The protesters peppered him with questions about the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, a piece of legislation that has become wrapped up in this campaign cycle as Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders both build criminal justice promises built on dismantling parts of it. The crime bill [was] a signature accomplishment of his presidency . . . ” [Source: The Atlantic.]
But wait . . . come again? Attacking the Explainer-in-Chief? You mean Thee One and Thee Only Man from Hope?? Our Bubba?!

IN RETROSPECT: Regarding the tenor of modern Monday morning quarterbacking and political critique of a widely-heralded bi-partisan initiative enacted two decades ago.

ap9409130391_wide-570b21ff250e994b1ceda5fcedd1254d842b5988-s900-c85

Mrs. Clinton (far left) looks on as POTUS embraces then Sen. Joe Biden upon signing Crime Act into law in ’94. 

Yes, folks in today’s arena, and particularly in today’s increasingly intolerant and irrational version of Democratic progressivism, even a global icon and successful two-term POTUS turned revered ex-POTUS, the Dems’ prodigal son and favorite political rockstar who not long ago dropped that campaign-saving convention keynote for the current POTUS, can be memed away without hesitation as some self-serving closet racist who should be subject to an ex post facto party excommunication, officially stricken from the historical record and all federal/state monuments, and subject to universal shaming on every screen we find ourselves staring at the next few hours and coming days.

why_blacks_love_bill_clinton-293x307 (293x307)

Forever living in the past? Or is it still great to be grateful for Clinton Years?

It’s a really sad statement of how the “third way” principles and Clinton’s party shift away from the Great Society to the more broadly inclusive and sustainable “community, opportunity, & responsibility” agenda he pushed for with such great success — whether or not you agree with how they should be viewed in historical contexts a generation later — have been almost entirely rejected in today’s increasingly dissent-free version of the party as somehow “Republican Lite” or just not bernin’ to the Far Left like all the cool kids.

Please, political progressive peoples out there in need of some serious introspection and empathy-refresher: ENOUGH “with us or against us” and more-righteous-than-thou demands and disrespect. Personal attacks to blur meaningful debate USED to be the m.o. for the “other side”, right? That’s the line I subscribed to for a very long time, too. Those vicious and vile Repugs, am I right? Those stupid Fox News and Rush Limbaugh holy rollin’ redneck pigs are not even human enough to warrant humanity seems to be the general take to varying degrees. I mean, sure, we are created equal . . . but some are more equal than others. I think that’s how the story goes, or at least it appears to the general take here as well in terms of recent liberal crusading getting the most attention. The big-tent and diverse views nature of the party has been swept away for a modern version of the party that emphasizes uniformity of beliefs and policies and winning the news cycle with slogans and attacking opponents personally rather than the hard work of building policy consensus and public approval. In many ways, the bumper-sticker debates of complicated problems and questioning the level of American-ism of political foes, and governing in ways that view even minor dissention as treasonous and a question of character very much parallels the Karl Rove -style politics that has been so destructive to our democracy and would presumably be the opposite approach taken by those who opposed him and the GOP brand he sold to the masses.
 
It seems now that despite years of being respected for policies and moderation that brought on prosperous times economically and culturally, today’s loudest voices in the party want him revised down as something entirely different . . .

Without any meaningful consideration of context or legitimate reasoning for differing viewpoints, Clinton can find himself a viral scapegoat on Twitter and in the blogosphere as he’s disrespected and seemingly tossed aside completely in a matter of HOURS as caricatures instantaneous appear and old stories are re-fitted to “confirm” the trending narrative and pile on, almost universally by using the same ol’ trusty GOP attack bulletpoints so many Dems are anxious to get loud about or issue through showing their activist bonafides by making asinine blanket-defriending threats on Facebook if anyone dares admit they might agree (or even just not find particularly disagreeable) whatever the media has deemed newly-scorned public sentiment for that news cycle.

 
Meeting Bill Clinton (2) Lay off my Bill, y’all. Or at least give ol’ Number 42 a basic level of respect when you want to judge his policies and question his motives. Few political or social change movements in recent history have had much impact if they failed to inject civility and build a dialogue from ideas; emotional demands and shaming all others into uniform rationale is not bridging divides, building consensus, or confirming intellectual/moral high ground.
 
I suppose nothing surprises anymore except the unflinching gall and hypocrisy of political idealogues of all stripes . . . many engaging in the very behavior they decry. So much faux-outrage and public affirmation obsession out there it has really halted any chance of meaningful debates and much-needed reforms. Not sure how this changes with the way this election cycle is playing out.
billquote
 
FURTHER READING: Want more thoughtful takes on the broader Lefty Revisionists v. Bubba’s Brand for national Dems? Check out this great piece (from said Lefties, presumably) over at Salon entitled: “The era of (Bill) Clinton liberalism is over. What does that mean for Hillary and the Dems?”
Advertisements

Fave Fives™: President’s Day Edition!

17 Feb

As friends and loyal TWP readers know all too well, I absolutely love to talk presidential history and politics, so naturally I’m a fan of President’s Day. After reading a few news stories detailing lists for the best & worst in POTUS this morning, I figured I’d add my takes to the mix and give you a quick snapshot of my all-time faves.

Here we go!

Bubba’s still got it.

1. Bill Clinton: His personal story and rise to fame, his ability to connect with people of all stripes, and his record of achievement.

2. John F. Kennedy: His charisma, courage, and ability to inspire a generation.

Theodore Rex

3. Teddy Roosevelt: His ambition, confidence, practical approach, and tenacity — of all our former presidents, I believe his skill set and ability to proudly fight for the American people over partisan politics would be best served to lead us in our current crises. Bully!

4. Abraham Lincoln: Our greatest and most-important president — his background as a “country lawyer” and the wisdom he demonstrated during the Civil War.

LBJ

5. Lyndon Johnson: The Big Daddy from the Pedernales had an uncanny ability to get things done with a “New Deal” Texas swagger. Fascinating man.

Vote Now: Who is the best president as ranked by historians?

In honor of Presidents Day, we take a look at the small group of presidents consistently ranked among the best, and ask your opinion in this online vote.

Source: National Park Service

Historians have been ranking presidents on job performance since the late 1940s, when Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. polled 55 historians in a survey for Life magazine. He followed with a similar poll in 1962. The survey sparked a lot of talk, and criticism, as some experts didn’t find much value in it.  Stanford historian Thomas A. Bailey claimed the Schlesinger polls included a bias toward Democrats, liberals and anyone with a connection to Harvard.

But over the years, various presidential rankings have focused on a small set of presidents who always appear at the top of these surveys of historians. In 2000, a survey from The Wall Street Journal and the Federalist Society ranked Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin Delano Roosevelt as “great” presidents.

A study of historian rankings from Meena Bose at the United States Military Academy in 2003 showed little variation from different historian surveys.  Bose said after a symposium of experts looked at all the studies, there was a consensus that the actual exercise of rankings had “limited value,” but the exercise was useful because it provoked debates about qualities make a president a great leader.

Also, surveys about presidential greatness taken by the general public showed different results, with a preference to rank more-recent presidents higher. Ronald Reagan, in particular, has polled well in recent surveys. In 1999, Reagan was listed as the fifth-best president ever in a popular poll, but 11th in a poll of historians. In recent years, Reagan was listed as one of the top 10 presidents in four out of five historian surveys.

Living presidents also present a challenge to historians, and tend to be ranked higher by historians as time goes by. But for the purpose of our informal polling, here are the five presidents who historians have ranked among the top five presidents in surveys since 2000.

1. George Washington. The 1st president was the only person the Founding Fathers even considered for the job.

2. Thomas Jefferson. The 3rd President was a driving force behind the Revolution and an intellectual force as the Constitution came to be debated and ratified.

3. Abraham Lincoln. The 16th president served little more than four years in office, but accomplished much.

4. Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Democrat served for 12 years as the only president elected to four terms, in a period that started in the Great Depression and ended with World War II nearly concluded.

5. Theodore Roosevelt. The Republican, a distant cousin of FDR, led considerable reforms at the start of the 20th century and redefined the president’s role.

You can vote here by clicking this link: https://polldaddy.com/poll/7802133/

Redefining “Anti-Racist” [UPDATED]

22 Dec

[ORIGINAL STORY]

Wow.

Yes, it’s Arkansaw, so I get it. But it’s also 2013, folks, so pardon me while I’m still a bit shocked and dismayed by the following display of anti-enlightenment I recently had a chance to take in directly from our friends and neighbors to the north in A Place Called Harrison:


[STORY UPDATE]

From the Harrison Daily Times, November 29, 2013:

A Harrison Police report shows that a witness saw some people vandalizing a billboard on the Bypass early Friday morning and reported it to police. Now it’s under investigation as a criminal matter. The report shows the witness called police about 12:10 a.m. Friday to report seeing several people vandalizing the sign.

The sign, which has drawn much controversy since it went up, is bright yellow with the words “Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White” emblazoned on it in black letters. The vandals had painted over part of the last two word and wrote the word “Love” on it.

Assistant Police Chief Paul Woodruff said the witness saw the act in progress and was able to give police the license plate number of a vehicle seen leaving the area Friday morning. He said the incident is an open criminal mischief investigation and no formal report had been finalized by Friday afternoon.

antiwhite_harrison

Hard to consider such an upgrade “vandalism.”

As loyal TWP followers and other newsies will recall, said billboard began causing a stir with local residents and travelers passing through along the busy U.S. 62/65 highway bypass when the sign went up sometime in mid-October, despite drawing the ire and condemnation of several city leaders. Since then, the company that owns the sign has refused to identify who is paying for this absurd public proclamation, only saying it was a “young man” who had agreed to pay $200 per month for a year.

For a growing town where most are eager to turn the page on an ugly history and want to promote commerce, investment, and be a place where young folks might stick around to raise their families, this has to be a very aggravating setback.

Hopefully the voices of “Love” truly do win the day for the citizens there and throughout our beloved, yet very racially-challenged Natural State.

[STORY UPDATE: PART TWO]

“The People’s Lawyer” (Campbell) doesn’t shy away from controversy, does he?

…and now: The Litigation.

A billboard located along Highway 62-65 in Harrison garnered national attention when it first appeared in October, as reported to you here on TWP.  The sign read, “Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White,” until late November, when it was altered it to read, “Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Love.”  Though sign owner Claude West has refused to say who rented the space for the bargain price of $2,400 per year, suspicions abound that the renter of the sign has ties to the Ku Klux Klan.  Only days before the sign went up, Thomas Robb, national director of the Knights of the KKK, posted on his Facebook page, “Anti-KKK is a Code Word for Anti-White.”

The suspicions that racist motivations were behind the billboard have only grown since this past Wednesday when a local resident, Chad Watkins of Harrison, was arrested and charged with defacing the sign.  Watkins’ friends created a Facebook page and fundraising website to call attention to the matter and raise money for Watkins’ legal defense.  Almost immediately, bigoted and hateful comments began appearing on both sites.

Watkins has retained none other than Matt Campbell of Pinnacle Law Firm in Little Rock to defend him.

“It’s incredible,” says Campbell.  “The majority of the people leaving hateful comments about Mr. Watkins online tout themselves as Christians, yet, only days from Christmas, they are angry because someone changed a hateful message to one of love.  They scream about constitutional rights, but they seem ready to condemn Mr. Watkins before he ever even has a day in court.  The cognitive dissonance is staggering.”

Watkins friends have created an online fundraising campaign to cover Watkins’ legal costs, and Campbell has stated that all money raised beyond actual costs and fees will be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center at the close of the case.

“I’m doing it at no charge to him. He already has a fundraiser campaign set up for legal fees.  I told him I’d bill against whatever was raised, and, when the case was over, if there was excess money donated, we’d donate it to the SPLC.”

“Evildoer” graffitist, Chad Watkins

The Facebook page started on behalf of said vandalist, Watkins, includes the following formal description:

Let’s come together and raise money to help Chad Watkins with the legal fees he acquired when he “vandalized” an incredibly racist billboard with the word “LOVE”. If you’re from Harrison, I’m sure you’ve seen that hideous, racist sign on the bypass; It reads “Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White”. It attracted lots of protestors, and made our entire town look bad to those passing by. Many of us locals were disgusted with the sign, and shocked that it was even allowed.

Several weeks after the billboard was put up, it was vandilized with the word “love”. We all silently cheered for the brave sole who did this! Surprisingly, we found out that the “vandal” was someone we all know and love- Mr. Chad Watkins. Sadly, he was caught!

Donate Here: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/9fHh3/ab/a2To93

(Southern Poverty Law Center ©)

Redbird Recovery: Thursday Morning Coming Down

31 Oct

Well, it’s over.

Barney Frank has sung.

Doris Kearns-Goodwin can now die a happy man.

And somewhere, Curt Schilling is still talking as he pretends he somehow deserves some of the glory for this.

Unfortunately, all we have going on here is Thursday Morning Coming Down for yours truly, as I add my name to disappointment roll call today, along with all of you other Cardinals loyalists out there.

There’s no joy to be found in Mudville at the moment.

No solace.

No, sir(s).

Not yet.

Matty C. makes final out at Fenway.

Umm…Wha-Wha-What Happened?

I reckon there’s plenty to discuss regarding things that quickly went downhill for the NL Champs in this noted “Weird Series” fall classic. From multiple quirky plays occurring all over the field, to the total disconnect from the Cardinal Way of sound fundamentals shown throughout regular season/previous playoff rounds compared to the various baseball brain farts that left us scratching our heads multiple times in this series. Those simply could not be the same Redbirds we all had been watching together for the last seven or eight months. Right?

Lacking the spirit in St. Louis? Freese & Jay done seen better days.

Am I incredibly bummed about all of those obvious failings? Of course I am. There were so many blatant miscues here and there it’s no wonder many in Cardinal Nation are e-ranting and e-whining on and on about them in today’s post-mortems. But it was certainly not at all shocking to see this team go down in flames and lose a series when our “Mr. Clutch” ace (Adam Wainwright) loses both of his starts, and especially when an entire half of the starting of line-up is barely making any contact whatsoever. “Big City” AdamsDavid FreeseJon Jay, & Pete Kozma? More like Out, Out, Out, Out! Seemingly e’r other inning; seemingly e’r single at-bat. Our ducks at the top-half of the order were continually hitting with nobody on and were left stranded out there on the bearded pond. It became awfully clear awfully early on that this no-show quartet had little business riding the bench somewhere on a sh!tty team, let alone on one the remaining two that were vying for the crown.

A clutch knock, fellas? Maybe a couple lil’ bloop singles that somehow find a way to fall in and break the funk? Hell, how about just a productive out that advances a runner???

NAH.

(Not even close.)

jbw_ms(seattlegame_2013)

Rest Assured: Serfass & Woodmansee (Baseball Nerds)

Ok, I’ve had a chance to swallow my pride and sleep on it now…and this is still not Happiness! Perhaps taking some time to “write out” my frustrations and slowly start rattling off those silver linings and looking ahead will be therapeutic. Perhaps things are just paining me that much more today because a very good friend, colleague, and fellow baseball nerd assured me several months ago that I had nothing to worry about all season with this team — they were destined for another championship run. Oh, and as if that false sense of security wasn’t cruel enough, it was none other than that ol’ Serfass Phamily Phave, Shane Victorino, that ended up doing us in!

Reeled in and filleted, I tells ya! What emotional battering! 😉

These f*cking guys? #FearTheHygiene

[Bitterly] Moving Forward…

From our Fearless Leader:

“There’s been a lot of talk about [being set up for success], and rightfully so,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said Wednesday night, moments after a 6-1 Red Sox victory ended the World Series. “You look at the young arms. We’ve got experience behind the plate and in left and right. We’ve got a lot of young players out there. There’s a lot of things to be excited about moving forward.

“It’s really hard to think about at this point, because it’s so rare and special to be on this stage. And you hate to see anything slip away — not that we gave it away, they took it. They played us and they beat us.”

Matheny’s View? A Bright Future

“As we look through the season — and we’ll start doing that tonight, kind of reviewing what we were able to accomplish — we had plenty of adversity,” Matheny said. “[There were] plenty of things we had to overcome. And they did it in a style that represented the organization well, the way they played and didn’t back off one second, of the way they prepared. It was a relentless team, and I think that’s a way to label them. And I’m very proud to be a part of them.”

We’re beyond the “conventional wisdom” stage of what to do next at this point — it’s now an outright necessity for the team’s brilliant GM John Mozeliak to go ahead and tap into that surplus of young pitching talent in order to make a couple of significant upgrades going into 2014. Obviously, the stockpile of fastballin’ young’uns are the StL organizational strength and that highly-touted farm shouldn’t be sold outright for assumed instant glory…but we also find ourselves in a position where the team can afford to ship a couple of those arms for the sort of quick improvement to the regular line-up that puts us over the top come next October. It’s a rare luxury for a contending team to have, no doubt, and timing-wise, it’s very promising to see several solid (and very affordable) free agents out there this offseason that could quickly fill a need, too.

Top Priorities: Yunel Escobar at SS in 2014?

What’s Next? Who’s Next?

Among my laundry list of would-be improvements, whether filled via trade or scrap-heap signing, includes making an investment for a long-term SS solution the top priority of our Hot Stove efforts. Methinks Tampa Bay’s Yunel Escobar would be an absolutely perfect fit on this squad right now, so I’m going to go ahead and declare an “all in” on this call.  Beyond acquiring the next Edgar Renteria at SS, I also feel that infield depth is a serious concern moving forward…especially now that we have seemingly repaid our debts to Lucifer for the aformentioned Freese’s amazing 2011 playoff run (who’s soul was clearly being punished with his .170ish/0/0 series output…but thanks for the memories, right?). Behind newly-minted starters Matt Carpenter moving over to the hot corner, and the Flyin’ Hawaiian “Mighty Mouse”, rookie phenom Kolten Wong replacing him at 2B, I’m thinkin’ we rake in a reliable veteran who can play a few spots behind them and help be a clubhouse leader for us, someone like the highly-respected Michael YoungOmar Infante, or even another tenure for Rafael Furcal (if he’s willing to play for peanuts in order to be on a winner and prove he’s healthy again, that is). Just don’t get totally lame and pull another Felipe Lopez or Ty Wigginton on us again for that role, ya hear? I haven’t forgot.

Rosie2012stl

Closing Rosie!

Additionally, pressing team needs include filling a glaring void in CF with a solid option for the time being (1-2 years?), as well as adding another good lefty out of the ‘pen. For the latter, perhaps the hard-throwing former closer Mike Gonzalez could both compliment 1-batter specialist Randy Choate and serve as another reliable gap-filler between Martinez, Siegrist, and my main man Trevor Rosenthal at the back end of games. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing if we might throw a few bucks Roy Halladay’s way, have him play the role of his likely-departing buddy Chris Carpenter, and see if he might surprise some folks with another decent year or two as a fifth starter or converted RP on the cheap.

That’s my $0.02 on the Nows & the Laters following our latest crushing World Series defeat to those damned BoSox from Beantown. If you’re like me and from the Nintendo and Bases Loaded era, I think the proverbial “Agony of Defeat” can be summed up pretty well by the reaction of reliever Seth Maness to Jonny Gomes’ go-ahead HR in Game 5. (By the way, if you’re old school and scoring this at home, let’s just agree that it made just about as much sense to pitch to PAPI as it did to pitch to PASTE in the video game. Get out tha way! Yikes!)

WS2011_stlclasswar

Hot Stove Heaters: Will we see free agent bidding wars from the usual big market spenders this offseason?

Baseball writer Jayson Martinez over at The Bleacher Report adds his voice to the one of many out there today also touting a very bright future for those Birds on the Bat:

Earlier this season, I chose the St. Louis Cardinals as the “Most Brilliantly Run Franchise in Baseball”. True to form, they had another brilliant season that included their fourth World Series appearance in the past 10 years. While they couldn’t outlast the Red Sox, who beat them in six games, they shouldn’t miss a beat in 2014 as long as they continue to follow the model of success that’s allowed them to post winning seasons in 13 of the last 14 years.

As they’ve shown the baseball world throughout the season and into the playoffs, their young talent is for real, and they should continue to produce more homegrown talent that should put the team in a position so that they don’t have to rely on the free agent and trade markets.

Carlos Beltran: Sliding Away from St. Louis

The Cardinals have the financial resources to make moves in free agency and the farm system that would allow them to do nothing and still be a good team. It’s good to have those options. Some teams have neither.

General manager John Mozeliak had a quiet offseason prior to the 2013 season, opting to use his financial resources to lock up Craig and Adam Wainwright to long-term extensions. With most of his team’s core of talent under club control for several more seasons and several million dollars coming off of the books, he could focus more on adding another impact bat or pitcher to push the team over the top next season.

[. . .]

The question is whether they’ll have to spend that much to put together a championship-caliber roster for 2014. There really isn’t much that needs to be done. They’re great now and they’ll be losing just one key component—Beltran—to this year’s team. Finding an upgrade at shortstop is most likely at the top of the team’s “things to do” list this winter while adding depth to the pitching staff could also be on the agenda.

Prognosticate here with me for a moment, fellow citizens of Cardinal Nation. What’s your Day After diagnosis looking like? What is it now, just 104 days ’til pitchers and catchers can officially report? Today may not be Happiness, but that day, friends, will be Baseball Bliss all over again. 

How ’bout we just turn that bunch of Clydesdales horsies loose already! ¡Viva El Birdos! Dial me up some Mike Shannon on the radio!

Not that we’re doing any counting down or anything here at TWP. 🙂

¡Viva Julián!

18 Sep

IMG_2620What a treat for me to be on hand yesterday for 2012 Democratic National Convention Keynote Speaker, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, who spoke at UALR today as part of the Winthrop Rockefeller Distinguished Lecture Series. The remarks this evening were fairly apolitical, at least in the typical partisan sense, and focused around meeting the challenges and seizing the moment resulting from the large demographic shift currently occurring in not only places like Castro’s Texas and throughout the American Southwest, but all throughout our country, including right here in Arkansas where between 2000-2010 the Hispanic population increased by nearly 115%. Having the chance to meet one of my political heroes and a future POTUS (¡Viva 2024!) following his presentation was a true honor.

IMG_2626

IMG_2629

From UALR:
San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro told a packed audience at UALR that the way Americans approach shifting Hispanic/Latino demographics will have “fundamental consequences” for America’s future role in the world.

Castro was delivering a talk on “The Political Implications of Shifting Demographics in the 21st Century” at UALR’s Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall Tuesday, Sept. 17.

His lecture was supported and presented through the Winthrop Rockefeller Distinguished Lectures series, one of the most popular UALR campus events.

The consequences will be felt in particular in states like Arkansas, where there has been a 114 percent growth in Hispanic and Latino communities, Castro said. The shifting demographics affect not only who is voting in America, he said, but also the electoral outcomes as well as the conversation about which issues are important.

“We have a young and growing minority population, and we have an aging, non-Hispanic, white community, both with different life experiences,” he said.

These differing experiences produce people who see issues quite differently, according to Castro, who added that the changing demographics can either be an “asset or an albatross” for the U.S.

Castro added that for the first time, other countries are producing students who can outcompete American students. It is in America’s best economic interest to address the accessibility of education to minority populations, he said.

“If we ensure our young people receive an education, we ensure another century of American prosperity and dominance,” he said.

Higher education plays a unique and compelling role in the shifting demographics of the American 21st-century, according to Castro. Not only are college campuses often among the “most diverse places” in the U.S., they are a great place for people to discover the truth that “even though they look different, people are fundamentally much like we are.”

Earlier in the day, Castro met with UALR students for a master class in which he hit on similar themes.

He spoke about ways to improve higher education accessibility, such as San Antonio’s recent addition of Café College, a one-stop center offering guidance on college admissions, financial aid, and standardized test preparation to students in the San Antonio area.

When asked by one student about his political plans, Castro said he intends to serve out the rest of his term as mayor and then run for the office again in 2015.

A San Antonio native, Castro is the youngest mayor of a top 50 American city. He won reelection last year with more than 80 percent of San Antonio’s vote and delivered the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Underwritten by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, the lectures bring nationally known speakers to the Little Rock community, including anthropologist Dr. Richard Leakey and civil rights leader Julian Bond.

IMG_2628

AR-AG: Four’s a Crowd? Fallout?

7 Jul

Wow, it was quite a week on the AR-AG 2014 campaign front. Let’s get caught up on this race together before I bring you the latest on another pending announcement . . .

Attorney David Sterling (Campaign Site)

With incumbent Democrat Dustin McDaniel term-limited, and that insufferable red tide blowing behind state Republicans, it was no surprise to see the them come out swingin’ in the race for attorney general, especially considering this was the one state constitutional office Doyle Webb & Co. missed the boat on in their 2012 anyone-with-“R” ballot takeover. First, we had the early-May campaign announcement from North Little Rock attorney David Sterling, presumably representing the far-right/Curtis Coleman contingent of the party.

Attorney Leslie Rutledge

With no actual movement in the race for almost two months (beyond a lot of gossip among we politicos), the presumed insiders-pick finally emerged last week as Little Rock attorney Leslie Rutledge, a former Mike Huckabee and national GOP organizer originally from Batesville, entered the race with some gusto in a multi-city state tour. (Talk Business has also reported that Arkansas Poultry Federation lobbyist Marvin Childers, a former GOP legislator from Blytheville, is considering entering the race, and several have mentioned Faulkner Country prosecutor Cody Hiland and politically-connected State Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson as serious possibilities as well.)

Despite the setbacks of the last two election cycles, there has seemingly been some much-needed life breathed back into the state Democratic party of late, largely on activist-reaction to the embarrassing social issue setbacks from the last legislative session, national progress on some of those very same social issues, much-improved communication and GOP-response coordination, and a “refreshed” set of attractive young candidates coming out of the legislative and legal ranks who are considering running for office. Not to be outdone, with the emergence of the formidable Rutledge, Matt Campbell of Blue Hog Report broke news last Friday regarding the pending addition of one such Democrat to this race:

According to a couple well-placed Democrat sources, State Rep. Nate Steel will announce his candidacy for Arkansas Attorney General next week, most likely on Wednesday.

I have been a huge fan of Nate Steel’s since I broke the legislative-reimbursement story in 2011 and found that he was one of the five legislators who were not abusing the system for extra income. A native of Nashville, AR, Steel would present a serious challenger for any of the rumored Republican candidates.

Ok, so now that we’re all up to speed on what has been made official or been “seriously” speculated on, time for the latest on a would-be entry for Democrats. With sources telling me that some Democratic donors were reaching out to William “Zac” White, an attorney and recent state senate race runner-up from Heber Springs, about joining this primary race, I reached out to him to ask about the rumors. White, a colleague and friend of mine going back to our first year at the Bowen School of Law ten years ago, has since confirmed to me that he is indeed pondering such a decision and expects to make a formal announcement about his intentions by Tuesday of this week.

Attorney Zac White

Though falling short in the uphill battle he entered in 2012 against incumbent State Sen. Missy Irvin, White earned a lot of respect for the sort of press-the-flesh campaign style he ran, picking up several big endorsements and positive press along the way as he was the first candidate to formally back campaign finance reform efforts, and ran a campaign that focused on largely bi-partisan issues like government ethics, protecting natural resources, and supporting public schools. In the end, his candidacy was hurt by Missy’s name recognition, her sources of outside funding, the general red state trend, and the fact that there was another White (“independent” libertarian candidate Paul White) in the race. Within Democratic circles, White has proven to be a very reliable fundraiser as he held prominent posts in previous grassroots campaigns of Paul Suskie and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.

Passing the torch to Steel? Not so fast, if White enters the race.

What does this mean for the overall race? For the Democratic primary? While some may see Steel as the early front-runner and seemingly the Dems establishment candidate based on his success in the state legislature and his existing campaign organizational structure, this race could actually be quite reminiscent of the epic 2006 clash between then presumed party nominee McDaniel and his upstart challenger, the aforementioned Paul Suskie, who you all remember was the Iraq War veteran who forced an unexpected runoff that June and lost by just a couple of thousand votes. (McDaniel, of course, went on to crush Republican Gunner Delay that November.) Although I feel Steel has done a fine job as representative and would present a quality candidate up to the task of a statewide race versus the ARGOP machine, it is this blogger’s opinion that Dems would be very well-served in having a primary-tested candidate to take on Rutledge (or whoever Joan/John Q. Republican ends up being) in November.

U.S. Attorney for Arkansas’s Eastern District, Chris Thyer

Could there be a real domino effect from White entering the AG race, too? With two candidates possibly announcing formal bids for AG this week, perhaps this makes a run for AR-02 v. Timmy Griffin the more attractive course of action for State Rep. John Edwards. Such a move by White would also be one less potential challenger in AR-01, making it that much more likely that Chris Thyer, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District making big headlines in recent months (Exxon spill, Shoffner prosecution, etc.), could make a run as Roll Call first speculated. You may remember he was appointed by President Obama nearly two and half years ago after serving three terms in the Arkansas House. They also touted the pending candidacy of State Rep. Marshall Wright, however, since then a recent blog post from Michael Cook has all but ended those rumors. Admittedly, I guess I had missed the gathering storm of activist excitement behind Wright during the course of the legislative session. Or perhaps not, as it stands now.

Profiles in Courage

14 Jun

This week’s dose of verbal reality takes us to the ongoing national convention of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS), a progressive legal counter to the far more well established Federalist Society and their lot of Constitutional constructionists (and a group I’ve been proud to be involved with since my 2L year in law school back in ’04).

Profiling courage against the incredibly un-democratic Citizens United decision from the Roberts Court, this highly-memorable quote was taken from remarks delivered today by Professor Burt Neuborne, Professor of Civil Liberties and Legal Director at the New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice.

From the Twitterverse, this tweet today from advocacy attorney Jeff Clements, co-founder and President of Free Speech for People.

 

Campaign Scuttlebutt

2 Jun

Mike Ross: Eatin’ up all the positive buzz.

AR-02

It would be appear there is indeed some truth behind these ongoing rumors that fmr. Lt. Gov. Bill Halter will opt out of another race for Gov, this time option for a congressional run in AR-02 because of Mike Rossy’s seemingly unstoppable start and growing momentum. Honestly, it’s always where here I wanted him (Halter in AR-02, that is), but what would that mean for the rest of the races down ticket? Let’s take a quick look, shall we?

Timmy G.? Pipeline issues. “Timmywatch.” Etc. More on that to come in a future post. Lets look at some of his other maneuvering, though…

Despite what some insiders have told me, that a run for Gov is still not out of the realm of possibility, his appointment to the powerful Weighs and Means Committee signaled to this writer that that was the ultimate D.C. insider deal to get the ambitious Timmy to sit out a potential U.S. Senate run versus Mark Pryor so the Weekly Standard’s Wonderkid, Rep. Tom Cotton, could skip in line on his way to greater national attention, presumably because of having the better of the two resumes to pitch (i.e. none of that pesky Bush Era voter caging and revenge-based U.S. attorney shuffling). No, instead it will seemingly be Timmy’s free reign to build his empire as U.S. Rep. for the forseeable future, IF the Dems can’t get their act together.

In the name of Congressman Vic Snyder – PLEASE get your act together.

John Adams is out. Not that his being in really mattered. He finished fifth in a five-man race last time, even losing to  this guy:

pkglasses

Fmr. AR-02 Democratic candidate Patrick Kennedy

David Johnson: Toothsome. Look it up.

Warwick Sabin? Star on the rise. Probably wouldn’t want to risk a loss in this current political environment to get derailed. If Timmy holds on, look for Warwick to go to war for progressives in 2016 when Hillary tops the home ballot.

Kathy Webb? Wouldn’t do a whole lot better than Joyce Elliott did a couple of cycles ago, despite the amount of respect she has earned within the party and even from many on the other side of the aisle.

Unknown: Hell, it was Herb Rule last time. Much like that race for the student council, anyone’s free to sign up.

AR-Gov

Apparently John Burkhalter is in? With two heavyweights already set to duke it out, and with one of them looking to reinvent himself and do whatever it takes to win, you gotta wonder why.

Perennial Green Party candidate Rebekah Kennedy has said she will not run for this office, despite speculation.

AR-LtGov

Missy’s name thrown around a lot lately. I still think Treasurer is most likely.

Jason Rapert. Much like the Obama effect, he could be a rallying cry for Dems on every ballot in the state. Dems can only hope for this bit of help in what looks to be another uphill battle.

And perhaps the aforementioned Burkhalter actually sees a bid for the top spot pointless now that Ross is busy raising big campaign money and opts to “ease in” with a run at #2. Might be a really smart play for the insider-turned-campaign-newcomer.

Stay tuned, my fellow political junkies…

Mike Ross 2.0: Ladies’ Man?

22 Apr

Ross-kick-off_womenLook out, it’s Mike Ross 2.0! The reinvented version, who was brought out of a very short political retirement by the party establishment, is forging ahead with a campaign strategery where he’ll tout himself as a “champion” for the rights of women in this state. Someone who will be able to defend them against those wacky GOP social ideologues who wasted no time in coming to power and enacting an agenda that seemed to offend the otherwise practical and sensible nature of Arkansans from all political stripes. By sharing his outrage about these  legislative controversies to voters, he seeks to prove his bonafides as Arkansas’s new Ladies’ Man, one might conclude.

Yes, really. He’s going there.

What’s that, you say? Everything he’s done as an elected official prior to his announcement of campaigning for governor tells us something entirely different?

Oh, I agree. Because your claims of the rhetoric not at all matching the reality is the one thing here that actually is true.

Now wipe that completely confused (and slightly constipated) look off your mug and walk through this with me.

Over at Arkansas Blog today, Max Brantley discussed the move from Planned Parenthood to highlight some of the former AR-04 congressman’s controversial and disconnected votes concerning the rights of women to control their own bodies and the funding for programs that support their overall health needs, and to press him on how he squares those actions with his recent rhetoric that tries to make his votes appear different than those cast by Republicans (and some Democrats) in the General Assembly:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross made encouraging sounds about looking out for women’s medical services and the ability to choose abortion when he announced last week. But his past record has included votes to restrict abortion and funding for Planned Parenthood, which recently survived a legislative attack on funding for its sex education work in Little Rock.

Republicans, who LIKED Ross’ past record, have been hooting about Ross’ pitch to women. Bill Halter, his Democratic opponent, has been beating up Ross as the next Jason Rapert. Ross himself has explicitly said 1) he’d have vetoed the abortion restriction bills Gov. Mike Beebe vetoed and 2) he would NOT support defunding of Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services in Arkansas.

An issue for the long-term? Republicans arguing that Mike Ross isn’t as liberal as he wants to you believe? Maybe not. But the Democratic primary is something else.

The facts: Mike Ross co-sponsored a controversial bill, long with Missouri’s infamous Todd “Legitimate Rape?” Akin, that sought to redefine the definition of rape and would have prevented women from obtaining important medical care, and has also twice voted to stop federal funds from going to groups like Planned Parenthood, who provide women with myriad health services beyond those related to pregnancy and abortion.

For his part, candidate Ross claims the legislation he helped put forth was somehow not the same as what was recently enacted in Arkansas, and that his position on abortion is actually “unchanged” from his time in the House of Representatives:

“Let me be clear about my position and what it has always been. I am personally opposed to abortion. I do not believe, I do not support government-funded abortions with state or federal dollars. But like Gov. Beebe, I believe, from a public policy perspective, it should be safe, legal and rare,” [Ross] said.

Despite his politically-expedient “evolution” on these issues, and his accompanying public display of “outrage” towards the likes of Sen. Jason Rapert and the rest of the ARGOP’s in leading the Arkansas Legislature to enact these sorts of restrictions, Boss Ross has an accessible voting record we concerned citizens can review which paints a very different picture of where the man actually stands. Indeed, his was a very shameful showing of bi-partisanship at its worst when it comes to siding up with Republicans in their “War on Women” crusades.

As you would expect, Bill Halter’s campaign wasted no time weighing in on the almost Mitt Romney-esque level of flip-flopping hypocrisy shown by the recently self-proclaimed “frontrunner”:

After announcing that he would not run for reelection to Congress and less than two months after saying he was not going to run governor, Mike Ross showed his true colors and voted for this ban. Only now that he is running for governor, has he chosen to flip-flop to suit his own political ambition. Mike Ross’s statements are not consistent with his own previous actions.

Mike Ross talks about believing in Arkansas values, but yesterday he demonstrated a determined willingness to ignore those values when it served his own political ambition.

With Bill Halter, Arkansans know where he stands. He would have vetoed the abortion bills and he never would have supported the attacks on women that Mike Ross promoted by cosponsoring and voting for legislation that would have restricted women from receiving important medical care.

Mike Ross’s record of denying women access to medical care is only one of many aspects of an overall record that Arkansans will find troubling. I am confident that the Arkansas press corps will do their homework and hold Mr. Ross accountable for his own record, rather than allow him to run on someone else’s record.

Democratic_Party_of_Arkansas_LogoThis state — and the floundering state party who, by any reasonable account, have been unable to regroup and come to grips with how to still have some relevance while in the minority, needs a leader with authentic convictions that understands how to build support for real reform so we can move ahead. In my mind, Democrats here should be lining up to support someone who is, at the very least, a consistent “D” in the way they generally approach policy. Hell, one day we may even learn to raise those expectations enough to get beyond some of the same unresponsive establishment do-nothing-ness that has allowed the party to  drift aimlessly into the political wilderness.

bill-halter-glowMore inspiring would be to see the calls for real reform led by someone that is not only bold enough to offer innovative ideas, but also has the conviction and know-how to effectively rally the masses against GOP priorities that thwart Arkansas’s economic and social progress. For my money, Bill Halter is the only person that provides a chance for this to happen.

We’ll never be able to truly move this state forward if we accept anything less than the best we have to offer. The days where we are able to collectively say “Thank God for Mississippi” may be dwindling, you know.

(You can watch Roby Brock’s full interview with Mike Ross from last night’s Talk Business show below.)

AR Medicaid Expansion: Dems’ Playbook?

20 Apr

Make no mistake, Arkansas Republicans campaigned on, almost exclusively, an anti-Obama platform, mostly premised on the promise to prevent implementation of his most notable legislative initiative — the Affordable Care Act — here in Arkansas.

Then, they had to actually govern and come up with justifications in rejecting federal Medicaid funds under the Affordable Care Act while still helping to subsidize its implementation to other states via tax dollars.

Next, here came the powerful hospital and insurance lobby, long eager to find a way to be able to capitalize financially on Medicaid patients. What’s an Arkansas Republican to do???

Obamacare, as the law is popularly known, once seemed doomed in Arkansas, where Republican candidates ran hard in the 2012 election campaign on the promise of stopping reform, and won majorities in both state legislative chambers for the first time since the Civil War era.

Then [Representatives] Dismang, Sanders, House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman and House member John Burris started sounding out whether the Obama administration would allow Medicaid expansion funds to be used to purchase private coverage through an online healthcare exchange that Arkansas will run in partnership with Washington beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

Under Obamacare, people earning from 100 percent to 133 percent of the federal poverty level would qualify for Medicaid. But they could also receive federal premium tax credits to help purchase private coverage through an exchange. States such as Wisconsin have already opted for that route.

The Arkansas plan would utilize Medicaid funds instead of tax credits and cover everyone who qualifies for the expansion, including those living below the federal poverty level – currently $23,550 for a family of four.

But yesterday, as Medicaid expansion (via a private health insurance exchange) in Arkansas became a foregone conclusion one step closer to being reality, for the betterment of our state, however ironic this notion may be considering the rhetoric of the past couple of years. From ThinkProgress.org:

Arkansas came one step closer to expanding Medicaid under Obamacare on Thursday after the state senate advanced a modified expansion bill by a 27-8 vote. The bill now heads to Gov. Mike Beebe (D), who is expected to sign it promptly.

In March, Beebe and the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) struck a first-of-its-kind deal that would allow Arkansas to expand Medicaid while also privatizing the state-federal partnership program. Under the tentative deal, the federal government will subsidize the entire cost of Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion, but allow the state to use that federal money to buy poor people private insurance, rather than expand the existing public program. The compromise — which has been dubbed “the private option” — was appealing to both Beebe and the Obama Administration, since conservative Arkansas legislators are skeptical of public entitlements, but the state has a high number of poor and uninsured residents who will benefit from expanded access to health coverage.

The development is particularly significant since the private option could serve as a template for Republican-controlled states. Conservatives who are adamantly opposed to public health entitlements like Medicaid are being fiercely lobbied by hospital associations and advocates for the poor, who are warning them that safety net hospitals and state budgets could buckle under the weight of uncompensated medical care costs barring expanded insurance access for the poor. The private option could allow Republicans to heed those warnings without endorsing a program they have historically slammed.

Rep. David Sanders, R-Little Rock, left, and Rep. Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, helped lead the GOP’s change of heart.

Funny how things once undebatable can quickly change when faced with reality, isn’t it? But at least this time it was for an improved way of doing things, even if it might’ve not necessarily been the ideal way of doing them.

But now I have to ask, what of the politics of this moment? How can Arkansas Democrats both take credit for the enactment of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion AND still remind voters of the political posturing and subsequent flip-flopping on the issue by their anti-all-things-fed counterparts on the other side of the aisle?

My take is that Ark Dems generally have a small window to do something creative and positive with this. While I’ll admit to you readers that the more idealist “Third Way” notions in me find it a bit disingenuous that Democrats would now be snarking about a GOP flip-flop on the ACA’s Medicaid implementation here, when we should really just be making the most of this seemingly grand compromise and revel in the fact that SOMETHING got done in this otherwise nutty legislative session to improve the lives of thousands of needy Arkansans. I say this primarily because these same Democrats played no real part in the substantive debate in the legislature — the entire discussion and associated compromises — at least once the general blessing for a “private option” was granted by Kathleen Sebelius to Governor Beebe — was controlled by Arkansas Republicans. The whole thing hinged on whether or enough of their members would toe the line on often ridiculous campaign rhetoric, or would give in to a common sense and get the legislation passed.

That being said, I figure Dems going on the offensive with this outweighs the risk of some people having a reaction like mine and backfiring.  I mean, Dems haven’t had much part in any debate because these Republicans have been passing whatever they want and blocking whatever they want.  So turn that on it’s head.  “You clearly could pass anything you wanted, so thank you for passing Obamacare.”

As I was talking with a friend last night about the passage of healthcare expansion, it dawned on me that this moment actually presents a great opportunity for the ArkDems to seize control of the discussion, attempt to take the moral highground, and define the debate going forward.  Rather than letting the Republicans tout how they “avoided Obamacare” by passing the “private option,” I think you guys could turn the whole thing on its head by embracing the term “Obamacare” and literally thanking, by name in a press a release, all of the Republican legislators who voted for the expansion “and made healthcare available to 250,000 Arkansans that did not have it before the passage of Obamacare.”

If they want to scream and holler about how it’s not Obamacare, then they are going to have to be able to explain how the private option is appreciably different than what would have happened under the ACA anyway.  That’s like trying to explain why French vanilla ice cream is completely and totally different from regular vanilla, or why scallions are not the same as green onions.  It’s a distinction without a difference, and most Arkansans will see through it.  This is great on two levels for our side.

First, by embracing the term “Obamacare,” if the Republicans can’t satisfy various constituents that there is a difference in the private option, then they run the risk of being primaried, almost certainly by someone even more crazy and right wing, which should help moderate Dems have a shot in those areas.

Second, if you control the message, the attempts in 2014 by House and Senate members to campaign on having “avoided implementation of Obamacare in Arkansas” will ring hollow and will have about 18 months of rebuttal messaging to contend with.

I think this is a golden opportunity for the party.  Heck, it even allows you to praise the “bipartisan effort that brought the benefits of Obamacare to Arkansas.”  But selling that idea probably requires getting out front with this message almost immediately.