Archive | Economics 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?”

Quapaws Hint at Savaging Arkansas…with Economic Progress?

21 Feb

John Berrey, Quapaw Tribe Chairman

Very interesting developments could be in the works as leaders from the Quapaw Indian Tribe of Oklahoma continue to hint at the group’s long-term plans to replicate their successful casino business model with “new” formalized “legal” gambling to central Arkansas, which, goin’ by what the good folks here tell me, is somehow entirely different than what they’ve been doing down at Oaklawn in Hot Springs and on east of here at the dog tracks in West Memphis . . . but I digress.

You may recall that the tribe  purchased an 80-acre tract south of the Little Rock Port Industrial Park for $775,000 late last year, leading to the original speculation about the group’s true intentions on down the road.

Hey, for the record, I am certainly no gambler, and frankly have never quite wrapped my brain around the idea that all the unnecessary anxiety that comes with risking your own cash could be fun or entertaining. That being said, you can also put me on record as being counted among the generally pro- new revenue & stuff-to-do club on these sorts of things, rather than the many hell-in-a-handbasket Chicken Littlers we often find to have the loudest political voices among us. You know who I am talking about, that Family Council crowd of misguided do-gooders who continually seem happy in letting each of our bordering-state neighbors reap the financial rewards we have more or less gifted to their respective state budgets due to our collectively misplaced moral stands, which may very well come from an altruistic viewpoint, but obviously misses the bigger picture.

Source: Tribal Government Gaming (2009)

What the people who lobby hard against the prospects of a state lottery, bizarre legal relics like Sunday alcohol restrictions, and legal gambling via tourism-friendly casinos near the state’s most populated areas, is that maybe if a few slot machines and blackjack tables directly lead to helping our state combat hunger, provide our public schools with more resources or smaller class sizes for our children, or even might mean we can finally finish that Interstate 49 project Missouri and Louisiana keep waiting on us to complete our portion of (or any of the myriad other road improvements we desperately need for a modern economy), then by all means BRING THIS ON. Am I right or am I right?

(Editor’s Note: I am right.)

Tunica certainly isn’t Mississippi’s great ethical failing, folks. Perhaps Jerry Cox and the like can secretly lobby for passage of Arkansans for Compassionate Care ballot initiative and have a way to combat all those stressful, sleepless nights sure to come when those squaws bring all that sinful abomination to town.

Source: Arkansas Blog

It’s probably worth noting to readers that John Berrey, the Quapaw Tribe’s Chairman, recently completed a four-year stint as a member of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a presidentially appointed post. So when you’re left muttering to yourself “how in the heck are they able to link this one to Obamacare so everyone here hates it?!” you’ll at least know where the enormous stretch would seemingly come from.

Hubert Tate

For more background, below you will find the accompanying commentary yesterday from KARK’s Hubert Tate.

Stay tuned. Could get real testy if this push becomes a reality.

An Indian tribe, native to Arkansas, has purchased 160 acres of land in Pulaski County, hoping to reclaim a part of its history in the state. The Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma is trying to figure out the next step to develop the land, including the possibility of a casino. No decision has been made, but right now the tribe’s main focus is to reclaim its history in the State. The tribe had property in Pulaski County dating back to before the 1800’s, but the United States government forced them to surrender their lands.

“We really love Arkansas and see it as part of our home. Then in 1850s, we were removed from Arkansas and brought out to Indian Territory of Oklahoma,” said business chairman John BerreyQuapaw, Oklahoma is where the majority of the tribe’s 4,500 members are now located.

Property near the Little Rock Port Authority is where Quapaws were for decades before moving northwest, which is the main reason why the tribe purchased 160 acres near Thibault Road in Little Rock recently. Berrey says the focus is now on determining what to do with the land. “We are more concerned right now about our history and reestablishing ourselves to the people and children in Arkansas. We were part of the very beginning of the state and we want to be part of the future state of Arkansas,” he said.

Berrey says the tribe has a strong business arm in Oklahoma, including a portfolio of gas stations, restaurants, hotel, spa, golf course and two casinos, all of which provide more than 2,000 jobs through its enterprises in Oklahoma. So, KARK asked him about the possibility of duplicating the business model in Little Rock. He makes it clear, the group doesn’t have any plans right now to build a casino or anything else in Pulaski County, but he doesn’t rule out the possibility.

“I would never say never. We would love to help the state out in any fiscal situation. We would love to employ a lot of people. We have a great record in doing those type of things. So if the opportunity arises, we would probably take advantage of it , but right now, we are trying to protect it and be a good steward of what we own,” said Berrey, who also does acknowledge there has been mystery surrounding the possibility. “I just think people try to put stuff together that may or may not exist. (The tribe) can game. We don’t know what the opportunities are in Arkansas, but we just want to be part of the state,” reiterating his sentiment that there is no timetable to making a decision.

“Native Americans can have casinos under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. We have two, very beautiful, very nice casinos and are very successful in the casino business. We are very efficient and we have a very nice product and we are a big economic impact on the region,” said Berrey.

Located east of downtown near the Clinton National Airport, the recently-acquired tribal property has important historic and cultural ties to the area. To better understand the tribe’s ambitions and loyalties, Arkansas Business provided a concise and contextual history in a feature around the time of the purchase:

The newly acquired tribal property is on part of a natural levee that extends northwest from the former Thibault Plantation to the Clinton National Airport. This strip of high ground was home to a string of scattered dwellings and farms that date to 1300-1500 A.D.

Graves are part of the cultural equation, too. Local denizens of the era favored burials near and even in their dwellings. The Arkansas Archeological Survey will conduct a detailed survey of the property for the tribe to identify the historical secrets it contains. “It wasn’t a big, compact village,” said Tom Green, Director of the Arkansas Archeological Survey.

Berrey, a University of Arkansas journalism graduate, also noted that in addition to its “tremendous cultural significance,” the property possessed “economic development potential.” Most of the tribe’s property along the east side of Thibault Road is devoted to farming, and more than 20 acres is wooded.

That choice of names pays homage to the tribe’s name (Ugaxpa in the native tongue, meaning downstream people) and is a reference to the tribe’s migration downstream from the Ohio River Valley to what would become Arkansas.

Oh, and as far as that little “presidential appointment” quip I wrote about — well, perhaps these guys do have their Red State Bonafides in order on a very “different front” after all:

The tribe most associated with Arkansas (including the state name) is now associated with a highly successful gaming development: Downstream Casino Resort in OklahomaOn a different business front, the Quapaw Tribal Business Committee recently bought a 51% stake in Detonics Defense Technologies LLC, a high-end handgun maker.

“This is a very exciting venture that if all goes well will position the Quapaw Tribe as a premier minority contractor in the law enforcement and handgun training space for military, state and local law enforcement,” Berrey also noted in The Quapaw Tribal News. “It’s a very exciting mix.”

Unconstitutional Crusades

25 Mar

Only in the Arkansas Legislature could the fundamental constitutional concept of the three branches of government under the Separation of Powers Doctrine be described as a form of “judicial activism” that apparently needs a fixin’ by the elected scholars coming from the nutty Arkansas GOP. Defending the Founders on unconstitutional crusades has certainly been a central theme in this often surreal and historically polarizing session of the General Assembly.

Thankfully, voters in the Natural State will have a chance to soundly reject the notion of giving these part-time lawmakers and their well-funded brand of template-politics the authority to take control over the otherwise independent judiciary system of our state, regardless of any other political leanings they may have.

Abortion restrictions? Forcefully advocating for gun rights that seem to literally extend to anywhere and everywhere? Perhaps the truth is this agenda is less insanity and more pre-planned side-show fodder for the REAL change Davy Carter and the boys have planned for the taxpayers of our state: far less tax on the very wealthy via absurd capital gains reductions (which means less services and more burden on the large numbers of po’ folk living here), other corporate tax loopholes, and the trying to provide cover of facing no real liability for any misdeeds of business through the guise of “sensible tort reform.”

Legal Analysis from the Legislative Impact Statement for Senate Joint Resolution 5:

The proposal would alter the balance of power between the branches of government. The Separation of Powers doctrine not only separates the departments of government, but also cordons off the powers of one from the other. Under the classic division of the powers, the legislature makes the laws and appropriates state revenues, the executive administers the laws and expends the appropriations, and the judiciary interprets the laws. See Chaffin v. Arkansas Game & Fish Comm’n, 296 Ark. 431, 757 S.W.2d 950 (1988) (“The Arkansas Constitution contains explicit separation of powers provisions which declare that one branch cannot exercise any power belonging to another branch.”) This promotes a series of constitutional checks and balances between the branches of government. See, e.g., Ball v. Roberts, 291 Ark. 84, 722 S.W.2d 829 (1987).

By restraining the Court from controlling its own practices, procedures, and evidence, the independence of the judiciary is threatened. By allowing the General Assembly the power to restrict the facts, the ways facts are brought forth, and the standards by which a jury may evaluate facts, the protections embodied in the Seventh Amendment are endangered.

Hardly a brain trust, but . . .

Unless we quickly turn this agenda on its heels somehow (not going to happen during this session, obviously), you can start making plans to live in a second Koch-land headquarters, with their home state of Kansas and its new deregulated Rethug utopia as being the model for where we will be headed.

You see, I don’t believe in “vast right-wing conspiracies.” I believe true ambitions can be found 99% of the time if one we’ll simply step back from the headlines and perform a little exercise called “follow the money.”

The Future of Arkansas Democrats

14 Aug

arkdemsbannerIt’s one thing to duke it out and lose. It’s quite another to not even put up a fight when it comes to these important congressional races.

First, Arkansas progressives found themselves wondering what the heck happened to our Forrest Gump candidate in AR-03, now we’re supposed to come to the defense of ol’ sud-sippin’ Grandpa Herb in AR-02. We sent up a school bus driver against an impressive bunch of D.C. insiders in AR-04. Thank goodness for Scott Ellington in AR-01, who at least gives us a shot of not being shutout completely this fall. Seriously, is this the best Dems here can offer? Exactly what was it that the state party did to “regroup” following the historic GOP gains in 2010? No push to recruit top-notch candidates? Are we quietly just waiting it out until President Obama is off the top of the ticket before we even try again? If not, why does it feel that way right now?

Sadly, Governor Beebe does not use his broad popularity to push anything bold or progressive, or even to really push for other Democrats down-ticket. Historically popular politicians generally try to leave their mark on history . . . but I just don’t see a reduction in the grocery tax or a landslide re-election as having a lot of staying power in the minds of future generations. If he were maintaining his spot above the fray in anticipation of a run for federal office, perhaps that approach would make sense. Otherwise, it is just a big ol’ disappointment. Perhaps the Left’s biggest guns here, Bill Halter and Dustin McDaniel, are already setting the stage for a primary bloodbath in two years. And as we saw in the Halter v. Lincoln war, spending millions to tear down each other didn’t bode well in November with so many hard feelings still lingering. As much as I personally admire Halter and his ideas, this “secrecy” he maintains to what his next moves will be make it difficult on other progressives possibly considering runs of their own or wanting to build a movement behind his populist message.

It’s beyond time for progressives here to rebrand themselves (being champions of government ethics reform and protecting the environment in the era of fracking could be winning issues to start) and start developing a roster of young talent to run for office over the next decade. While there has been some movement on this front with progressive groups forming, it must go beyond occasional email list updates or get-togethers downtown to drink and socialize. Considering that seemingly everyone just looked around with shrugged shoulders when it came time to run against Congressman Griffin and his record – from the state’s most progressive and populated region in a seat long-held by someone like Congressman Snyder – just seems to prove that apathy has indeed settled in and that Democrats are subtly just allowing the complete GOP-takeover to occur.

GOP: Fear…It Sure Seems To Be Working

4 Nov

Crazy Train’s next stop: Xenophobialand!

You might’ve seen the story behind this new ad campaign on Time Magazine’s “Swampland” blog today (if you’re not already reading this daily, then consider this your official prompting — great stuff). I saw the ad, entitled “Chinese Professor,” for the first time while in the Nashville, TN, area over the weekend.

Here’s the blurb, followed by the actual ad:

A new and striking TV ad, slated to run on cable networks into next year, is produced by Citizens Against Government Waste. The group has maintained for decades has that deficit spending will ruin our children’s future. That apparently hasn’t done the trick: when a founder of the non-partisan group rolled out an anti-deficit TV campaign in 1986, the nation debt was $2 trillion. It’s now close to $14 trillion. So it’s turbo-charging its argument with sub-titled xenophobia.

AR-02: Building Upon the Snyder Legacy?

13 May

You may have already passed by your office pile of this week’s Arkansas Times and noticed retiring Congressman Vic Snyder on the cover. Yes, just a few days before the (non-early) voters finally weigh in on the Race to Replace Arkansas’s True Blue Democrat, the state’s leading progressive publication has finally cast the spotlight on that “other” highly important Democratic primary battle. In AR-02, Democratic voters have a choice between keeping this seat squarely in the corner of progress and compassionate legislating or trying to “be more like them” by watering down the message and attempting to ignore big issues facing our country because of the fear of what the latest Arkansas poll may say on the matter.

Times writer Doug Smith’s Four of a Kind story is well written, and it articulates the mood of Ark Dems and the decision they’re being forced to make when they enter the voting booth:

Many followers of Arkansas politics believe chances are slim that the Second Congressional District will elect a successor of comparably leftish views. Aspirants are not lacking, however. Five Democrats are seeking their party’s nomination, and four of them resemble Snyder in political orientation. (Though, like Snyder himself, they don’t shout their liberal inclinations.) But three of these are practically unknown, with the election imminent, and the fourth is a black woman. Arkansas has never sent a black woman to Congress. The fifth Democrat is more conservative than the others, and he’s the best-financed of the bunch, the “establishment” candidate, expected by many to lead the ticket in the first primary. The two candidates in the Republican primary are, like all Republicans these days, proudly far-right. One, the favorite in that race, is a Karl Rove protege. From Vic Snyder to Karl Rove is a long drop.

Smith reiterates what we already know: House Speaker Robbie Wills has led an incumbent-style campaign and has attempted (and, somehow, largely succeeded) to get away with not answering the toughest and most potentially divisive questions during interviews and in debates. Though he flatly stated he would have voted “no” to federal healthcare reform, and despite the efforts by candidates David Boling and John Adams to hold him accountable on this stance during the three debates, Wills “These Hands” approach keeps on working somehow as he goes about dodging the issue and spinning his original answer with deliberate mistatements about how reform will affect the state’s Medicaid obligations. In our minds, local media has not done enough to contrast the differences between Wills and the rest of the field, and, instead, has almost rubber-stamped his front-runner status and “inevitable” primary victory. Just another in a long line of name-only good ol’ boy Democrats from Arkansas, if you ask us.

AR-02: Timmy! v. ???

Though the Times rolled out their rather unsurprising endorsement of liberal stalwart State Senator Joyce Elliott last week, we here at TWP have noted her perhaps-too-out-there-even-for-progressives statements in the debates as well as the elephant in the room, her electability in a general election tilt. Smith also notes Elliott’s statements, such as “fairness doesn’t mean treating everyone the same way” as potential problems for her in this primary and moreso in a November match-up vs. Rove-protege Timmy! Griffin or Huckster-wannabe Scott Wallace.  We do not see her as the candidate best positioned to carry on the Snyder Legacy — one of progressive views, but also with a pragmatism any legislator from this state must bring with them in order to achieve anything meaningful.

So, again we ask, who is the best choice in this field to carry on the Snyder Legacy? Surely his chief-of-staff of the past two years, right? Well, we’ve recounted David Boling’s shortcomings during this primary — most notably how his $300,000+ spent on this campaign in order to be third or fourth in the polls is perhaps one of the biggest election flops we’ve seen here in recent years — and given the fact that Snyder himself hasn’t endorsed Boling (or anyone else), perhaps voters are barking up the wrong tree with that choice. We do applaud his attempts to contrast his positions vs. Wills’, but he just hasn’t been able to connect with voters at the debates or on television.

Lil’ P.K. takes it to tha district… state… world… SOMETHING?

Ok, so we all know that there’s one hot-headed candidate more than willing to contrast himself against the others, but that candidate has offended and alienated so many people (including Jesus?) in such a short time during this primary that we honestly look for him to head back home to South Carolina with his tail between his legs at this point.  Smith notes the “anger” shown by him. It seems that Lil’ P. Kennedy is like a homeless man’s Howard Dean — has the rolled-up sleeves and foaming at the mouth down, but comes nowhere near the adept understanding of policy the former DNC Chair always shows.

Adams: Campaigning on Competence

As Smith mentions, and as more and more local progressives have seemingly started to notice in the past couple of weeks, the real “issues-driven candidate” with the palatable demeanor is Blue Hog Report’s AR-02 endorsee, John Adams. In fact, it was Adams’ performances in the three debates that forced us to think more about his campaign — one under-the-radar in some respects, but one that has been the most consistent, pragmatic, and closest to Snyder’s core values as a lawmaker. Snyder may be given the “liberal” label here, but he is hardly far left by most national standards; rather, he has brought many of the same qualities to office that Adams could bring — ideologically progressive and forward-thinking, but inoffensive and able to win in Republican-leaning election years.

Adams delivered his third straight sound debate performance at the Sticky Fingerz debate Tuesday night. While once again not receiving the local buzz generated by Wills’ rehearsed one-liners or Lil’ P.K.’s post-debate tweets, he was the candidate tackling issues, such as making our tax code fair with true reforms and acknowledging America’s status as the world’s military super power must be re-examined in the context of the world we now face where globalization and the effect of terrorism has changed the 20th Century rules we’ve been playing by.

Who’s Your Congressman? (Arkansas Times)

Most importantly, perhaps, is Adams’ potential electability in a November showdown with whoever the Repugs choose. I just hope voters will give him a second look because he could just the right person at the right time to keep the seat.

An uphill battle to get the chance? Certainly. But hard to not believe in the cause with responses like that, isn’t it?