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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.

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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?”

The Ironic Arkie: Demandin’ Personal Choice

9 Apr

 

Go ahead…and tread on me?

Ain’t it funny how the good folks here in Arkansas think the notion of government-promoted healthcare access as a fundamental right for all of our citizens is somehow an unconstitutional overreach by this president’s administration in dealing with state guidelines, yet have never (until recently) raised much stink about their completely acquiescence to state and local kingmakers in deeming them as lacking the personal responsibility and moral fiber required to let otherwise hard workin’ and tax payin’ Arkansans make the personal choices of whether or not they want to throw down some cash on a card game, purchase Arkansas’s Diamond Bear products freely, play up their southern bonafides by making their own mash at home, or simply drink on the state’s unofficial official deity’s Sunday holidays.

Of course, the sort of “Blue Laws” like we have in Arkansas are ones which restrict certain activities or sales of goods on Sunday, to accommodate the Christian Sabbath, in this case being the sale of liquor. The first Blue Law in the American colonies was enacted in Virginia in the early 1600s, which included required church attendance. Other early Blue Laws prohibited work, travel, recreation, and activities such as cooking, shaving, cutting hair, wearing either lace or precious metals, sweeping, making beds, kissing, and engaging in sexual intercourse.

Blue Laws have operated to protect Christian business owners from competition on their day of sabbath. However, they never sought to protect from competition those Jews and Muslims whose traditions call for Saturday worship, and thus have clearly established a double-standard to promote Christianity, which seems to me, even as a follower of Jesus in my own right, to run far more afoul of the U.S. Constitution than the legislation affectionately known as “Obamacare” could ever been seen as doing.

Although Blue Laws requiring Sunday church attendance disappeared in the 19th century because they so blatantly violated citizen’ rights to 1st Amendment religious freedoms, other such Sunday restrictions have continued to exist into the modern era, including in Texas, where such laws prohibited selling common housewares and washing machines on Sunday until 1985, and car dealerships in the state continue to operate under similar outdated prohibitions. Similarly, courts in New York and Connecticut have ruled that, because blue laws were created and propagated by religious groups for religious purposes, they are unconstitutional:

Buy Alcohol on Sunday? Connecticut Now Allows It

Gary Donaldson, left, Ben Schiano and Brooks Titcomb celebrating the Sunday sale of beer, wine and liquor in Connecticut.
By ELIZABETH MAKER
Published: May 20, 2012 in The New York Times

Nevertheless, we’re all too aware that Blue Laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sundays continue to exist and be enforced, especially among our fellow freedom lovin’ Southern brethren residing here in Arkansas and elsewhere in Ye Ol’ Confederacy.

The fact that ours remains one of only a handful of remaining states which still prohibit selling alcohol on Sunday — even as it is now the second busiest shopping day of the week — seem to make no sense in terms of economic losses for small business, statewide revenues from sales taxes, and most importantly, the fact that our state chooses to severely limit the personal freedoms of our adult population while their peers from freedom-hatin’ Lib’rul ‘Merica do not encounter the same government “overreach” that we do here in The Natural State. Indeed, as most Christians see little conflict in going to church in the morning, then watching a football game — maybe with the family, or maybe at a sports bar — in the afternoon, what is the remaining valid rationale for this Puritan ritual anyway?

Once again, we have here a severe case of The Ironic Arkie. (Look for more of these rants in the coming weeks.)

Check out some more local flavor on these broader issues from an earlier story by Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times:

City Wire has a good report on a federal lawsuit arising from the newly opened liquor market in Benton County. A prospective retailer has challenged the Arkansas law that prevents franchising of retail liquor stores and multiple ownerships as a burden on interstate commerce.

Macadoodles liquor chain sought to expand its presence in Arkansas in lawsuit, prior to more liquor law loosening seen in other locations after last election.

The plaintiff wants to run a Macadoodles, the retail chain that had to win a legal fight to open its store in Washington County and which has long enticed huge Arkansas business just across the Arkansas line in Missouri.

The link gives you lots more of the legal ins and outs.

Key points include that 1) there’s a grandfather clause in Arkansas law for related ownerships and 2) it’s well-known that there are families with related stores that already operate in Arkansas and, it is suspected, take advantage of combined buying power not readily available to single-permit owners.

Lurking in the background, too, is behemoth Walmart, whose heirs paid for the campaign to open Benton County to retail liquor stores and which is currently restricted to a single liquor outlet, on a nominally separate premises in Fayetteville. It took a long legal battle for Walmart to get that single outlet; it thirsts to sell more booze here. The situation exists because of Arkansas’s protectionist liquor laws. They are aimed, first, at protecting profit margins of wholesalers.

The interstate commerce clause is a mighty tool against state discrimination in commerce. Hard to see the compelling state interest in protecting wholesalers’ profit at the expense of higher retail prices for consumers. But lawyers are ready to explain.

And also don’t miss this 2012 piece from David Kinkade of The Arkansas Project.

A dedicated Arkansas Project reader sends along a link to this nifty map (pasted below) from those limey toffs at the BBC offering “a snapshot of wet and dry America.” They slipped out of their powdered wigs and put on their thinking caps to generate this graphic detailing the lingering effects of alcohol prohibition here in the U.S.

With 43 dry counties in red, Arkansas looks to be a national leader (?) on this front. I don’t think I realized how much of the nation lives in open territory when it comes to alcohol sales. I mean, geez, look at that vast swatch of liberatory bluish gray once you move west out of Oklahoma and Texas, and head north from Kansas. I also like that there’s “no data” on Georgia, so it’s grayed out like a medieval dragon preserve. That actually sounds about right.

This is really just an excuse to link to this masterly 2009 piece from the estimable Michael Tilley of the City Wire in Fort Smith, wherein he explored the “convoluted concoction of rules” that govern liquor sales in the Natural State—and lived to tell the shocking tale! A taste:

We have rules as to when and how alcohol can be sold from either a convenience store, grocery story or a bonafide liquor store; rules differentiating between sales of wine fermented in Arkansas and wine fermented outside the state. There are rules that say your local Chili’s or Applebee’s is simply a restaurant that can serve beer if built in a wet county, but is a special private club with a (wink, wink) membership policy to go along with food sales if it operates in a dry county.

There are rules on specific times hooch can be sold on the weekends because we’re all mindful of and in agreement with the seminal Harvard study proving that a beer sold at 9:59 a.m. on a Sunday morning leads to immediate and terrific societal destruction, whereas the same beer sold 61 seconds later is nothing more than a standard commercial exchange between consenting adults that results in a positive economic impact for the local economy and tax proceeds for state and local governments.

Not familiar with the Harvard study? Of course you’re not, because no such study exists. Which is something to keep in mind when considering dang near all Arkansas liquor laws and wondering if there is some pragmatic reason for their formulation — No Such Study Exists.

Do go revisit the whole thing and weep for the dearth of good sense that requires you to rush out and buy your Sunday beer supply at 11 p.m. Saturday.

MAP: U.S. Alcohol Sale Restrictions (BBC, 2012)

[Editor’s Note: Wait a minute…The Arkansas Project, you say? You just quoted and wholeheartedly agreed with them?!?

Yup. I’ve come to respect the heck out of Nic Horton and how he goes about his conducting his business, building his brand, and is willing to do the dirty work of research before public diatribes via keyboard, even when I might be well on the other side of the partisan fence on any given issue…this state needs more honest & open government crusaders, believe me.]

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/

The Pro Ses Are Coming

29 Nov

[Editor’s Note: This entry originally appeared on the The Arkansas Journal of Social Change and Public Service on November 29, 2013.]

Law Libraries & Pro Se Litigants: Accessing the Information to Access Justice

One of the many effects felt downstream during the U.S. economic slump of the past several years has been the tremendous rise in pro se litigation (i.e., citizens who choose to represent themselves in court, generally due to their inability to afford an attorney) in today’s courtrooms. However, even as the need for access to professional legal services increases, officials in both federal and state government find themselves needing to cut existing services to lower budgets. Accordingly, many public law libraries find themselves taking on an ever-increasing role as the de facto “front line” for the growing demand for access to legal information, leading to increased pressure on law librarians and other legal-information professionals who provide reference services and often balance myriad other “new” duties in this transitional period of our profession.

With this new environment comes not only increased patron counts, but also the kind of expectations many of these laypersons have when they come see a “lawyer librarian.” In this role, we have a very important legal boundary when dealing with these patrons – we are not their attorneys, are not practicing law in this role, and cannot steer them into decisions by providing legal advice. It’s not only unethical; it can have negative repercussions should the person not have things go their way and feel they relied on your opinion to make a decision. With so many resources and layperson forms available now, however, and because many people are directed to law libraries by local court staff members without much direction as to what can be offered, many patrons have unrealistic expectations of what the reference librarian can do for them. That said, those in this field are librarians first – while legal boundaries must be respected, there is also a professional obligation for reference librarians of all stripes to treat all patrons equally and fairly and provide them with the tools they need to access and use the information that they seek.

Pro se patrons are a unique group of people from all sorts of different backgrounds, but almost all share a very limited background when it comes to the practice of law. Nonetheless, as persons representing themselves in court, they are required to perform at least some research to have a basic understanding of their legal issue, and they must submit documents that follow a certain basic format to be deemed acceptable in court. These patrons typically ask for assistance in choosing and drafting pleadings and forms, interpreting what something says, and in researching statutory law. Ethical conflicts arise regarding the level of reference service a librarian can give to the patron in this context, often when choosing forms, and particularly in drafting forms to be used in court. Patrons frequently inquire about the legal expertise of the person helping them, and, if that person mentions that they have a law degree, those expectations become even higher. Many library policies are vague on issues such as these, leaving librarians on their own when an insistent patron’s inquiry becomes problematic. The trick for librarians is to perform as experts on finding information, rather than as experts at analyzing all of the information gathered, in order to assist the patron in a meaningful way but also not cross into the unauthorized practice of law.

Fulfilling Ethical Duties While Avoiding Unethical Conflicts

The tools of legal reference are often very confusing to pro se patrons, and it is important that these patrons have someone to assist in the navigation of these tools, because, office water cooler stories aside, helping them remains our duty as librarians. To leave the user floundering about, unable to use available resources would be no less a disservice or wrong action than would giving out bad legal advice. The librarian’s loyalty lies with the patron and their information need. Yet fulfilling this need comes with restrictions that protect both the librarian and the patron who has taken on the task of handling the matter on their own. It is best for law librarians to help the patron as much as possible – providing basic source and term suggestions; instruction on using the tools, guides, referrals, and other pieces of assistance; and avoiding any lawyerly performance that might arguably establish a client-attorney relationship. There are certainly a broad range of approaches to this process, with some librarians acting as a source guide, and others as someone who teaches the self-litigant how to research on their own, but the bottom line is the same: if the line into “lawyerly function” is not crossed and the librarian is working inside the boundaries, they may assist their patrons without needing to fear unauthorized practice of law.

Game-planning for Law Libraries

Many library policies do not specifically address the problem of giving clear guidelines to both staff and pro se patrons about the scope of available reference service, beyond cautioning their librarians to tread carefully. Placing stated policies regarding the scope of available legal reference services in a prominent position where patrons can easily spot and read it as they wait their turn at the desk can be a great way to get everyone, staff and patrons alike, on the same page. In addition to increased awareness of policies, there should be available directories and referral lists of attorneys and local association numbers available to the patrons who need legal advice – what better way to show that librarians are here to help, but we are happy to defer to the “experts” when it comes to the actual practice of law?

Additional Reading

Randy Diamond and Martha Dragich. Professionalism in Librarianship: Shifting the Focus of Malpractice to Good Practice. 49 Library Trends 395 (2001).

Paul D. Healey. Pro Se Users, Reference Liability, and the Unauthorized Practice of Law: Twenty-Five Selected Readings. 94 Law Lib. J. 133 (2002).

Paul D. Healey. Professional Liability Issues for Librarians and Information Professionals (Neil Schuman Press, 2008).

Stephen Parks. A Lawyer/Librarian’s Efforts to Avoid the Unauthorized Practice of Law. Library Student Journal (2013).

Drew A. Swank. The Pro Se Phenomenon. 19 BYU J. Pub. L. 373 (2011).

Arthur J. Lachman. Self-help services: Reducing risk by avoiding the formation of lawyer-client relationships. NLDA Insurance Program Bulletin.

The Arkansas Journal of Social Change and Public Service is a vehicle for identifying and addressing the pressing needs of our society. It examines issues lying at the nexus of policy, public interest, and academia, and raises awareness of topics insufficiently examined in traditional scholarly publications. [UALR Bowen School of Law]

Dreams Didn’t Die in Dallas

22 Nov

jfkcourageDreams didn’t die in Dallas fifty years ago because President Kennedy’s courage continues to inspire so many of us to believe in this nation’s greatness and become better Americans. Today, we pause to remember his legacy and reflect on his visionary leadership. Thank you, sir. Your ideas do indeed live on.

an idea“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.” — John F. Kennedy

Teddy? BALLGAME!

24 Sep

So I hear news of a “filibuster” and tune in only to find that smarmy, self-loathing hypocrite, the anti-immigrant Hispanic Canadian-Texan, Sen. Rafael “Ted” Cruz, reading children’s literature aloud to his  Senate colleagues, as he re-re-re-doubles down on his personal mission to somehow thwart a law long since advocated, enacted, and subsequently upheld by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government, respectively. Picture me not impressed.

From C-SPAN:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) while speaking in opposition to #Obamacare, reads Green Eggs & Ham.

I guess we should all be glad he at least happened upon a certified medical professional with the moonlighting Dr. Seuss with his story time session. Hey, at least it wasn’t My Pet Goat. This is clearly what those (highly quotable) Founding Fathers envisioned with that whole democracy thing, right? It’s surreality, folks!

I do not like that Teddy Cruz,
I do not like his version of news.
He’s a vile man who will tell a lie,
And I do not like his hair or tie stupid face.

Hey, I’m no friggin’ poet. 😉

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.

 

When Soldiers Go Social on Politics

29 Apr

File this one under “shameless self-promotion.”

My National Law Journal piece out today takes a look at the legal restrictions on soldiers’ political speech online — particularly making disparaging remarks about the commander-in-chief — in light of the popular use of sharing political views through social networking such as like Facebook and Twitter.

The National Law Journal (4/29/13)


Although the Uniform Code of Military Justice criminalizes a servicemember’s use of ‘contemptuous words’ against the president, some use social media to insult Obama.

Profiles in Courage, “1st Ed.”

28 Apr

jfk_profilesincourageInspired by the works and writings of two of my political heroes, John and Robert Kennedy, today I offer up the first installment in a new series of posts we’ll aptly refer to as “Profiles in Courage.”

I hope readers will come to enjoy this new effort to specifically highlight powerful quotes and recent rhetoric in the news attributed to great leaders from across the political spectrum that are strengthening the notions of accessible democracy and responsible citizenship — the pillars of The Project Manifesto.

To get started, it only seems fitting to begin with one of my favorite quotes from then-Senator Kennedy’s “Profile in Courage” memoir which really sums up our goals more artfully than I can:

“In a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, ‘holds office’; every one of us is in a position of responsibility, and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities. We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve.” – John F. Kennedy