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Steve Brawner


Huckabee’s presidential real estate value

Former governor Mike Huckabee, proclaiming that he was the only contender to “own property” in Arkansas, returned on Monday to formally enter the presidential primary in the state where, until recently, he was trying to sell that property. The splendid home in North Little Rock, acquired at the close of his tenure, was, at least while on the market, evidently considered superfluous, and somewhat less splendid (by about $2.4 million) than his beachfront in Florida, where Huckabee lives when not campaigning. Presumably it is the domicile to which he will return within months. Whether Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio will repair to Florida, where they both also own property, remains to be seen. One of them will, certainly; perhaps both. But Huckabee will get there first.

Listen, lead or both?

“Look, I imagine that there’s theoretically a chance that (we) all went from being radical extremist crazies to Washington sellouts in 12 hours. But maybe a more likely narrative is that we really think that this is a good step for the conservative movement.”

Pay DHS director like a football coach

The highest paid state employee is Bret Bielema, the head football coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. He will make $4 million this year. Meanwhile, the director of the Department of Human Services — an agency that serves 1.4 million Arkansans with 7,500 employees — will earn $163,000.

Drivers, can you spare a dime?

Considering a gallon of gasoline is now $2 less than it was not long ago, is now the time to raise gas taxes a dime? Some say yes, if the state is committed to maintaining its highways. Others say no, including legislators and, in a recent poll, a clear majority of Arkansans.

Cuba: carrots and sticks

There are two ways in politics to change behavior: power and influence. Power is the stick — using your greater strength to make someone do what you want them to do. Influence is the carrot — encouraging them to want to do it themselves. Sometimes you use both.

Free market requires moral code

Life, the pope is telling us, is about more than the bottom line. This past week has given two examples of why people should listen to his big economic message even if they disagree with some of his little ones. One involves a giant automaker. The other manufactures a little pill.

Squashing the wrong problems

You know when you’re on your porch, and you notice a spider crawling by, but then you look closer and realize it’s not a black widow or a brown recluse, so it’s not poisonous, but then you wonder if maybe you could be wrong, so therefore it could be a threat, and plus it’s a nuisance? Those things multiply, and maybe they’ll get into the house, so you squash it just to be sure.

Welcome to your country

Fifty people from 22 countries raised their right hands Friday in U.S. District Judge Beth Deere’s courtroom. Journeys that had taken decades were ending in an 11 a.m. ceremony. The participants had been examined by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, met English language requirements, and passed a citizenship test that many native-born Americans would fail. After taking the Oath of Allegiance, they were no longer from 22 countries. They were from one.

Chelsea Clinton for president?

Veteran newsmen Steve Barnes and Ernie Dumas have forgotten more about politics than I know. Sitting across the table from them after taping the AETN public affairs show “Arkansas Week” last Friday, I asked them this question, or a variation of it: Who are the young Democrats moving into national leadership who soon could run for president?

For GOP, is it Reagan or Goldwater?

Campaigning for president in Little Rock Wednesday before several hundred onlookers braving the midday heat, Sen. Ted Cruz said Republicans must nominate a “real and genuine conservative. That’s the only way we win. If we nominate Democrat-lite, we will lose once again.”

The real Common Core conflict

The Governor’s Council on Common Core Review didn’t drop any bombshells when it announced its recommendations July 30. It had already made its mark when it pre-recommended in June that Arkansas join the many states exiting the year-end PARCC exam, which Arkansas has since done.