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Steve Brawner


Solution to the birther debate

At the base of the Statue of Liberty are poet Emma Lazarus’ words: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Dividing the divisive King-Lee holiday

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is still at the point in his young administration where legislators tend to give him much of what he wants, so it will be interesting to see if he gets this: separating the state’s commemorations — this year on Jan. 18 — of the birthdays of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

What Bumpers was

In 1992, I interviewed the late Sen. Dale Bumpers while working my first reporting job for the Arkadelphia Daily Siftings Herald. As we sat on the hood of his gray Pontiac Bonneville outside Ouachita Baptist University’s football field, I asked him why he had never run for president despite once being included as a possible contender on the cover of Time magazine. He looked wistful for a moment, munched some popcorn, said I didn’t have enough space to print the reasons, and then talked about the strain that being president would cause for his family.

To reduce prison growth, remember Texas

There’s much that policymakers don’t agree about these days, but something like a consensus is emerging about one issue: criminal sentencing reform. Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives, moderates, President Obama, people who don’t like President Obama — many of them agree the United States imprisons too many people, and they even agree why that’s bad. Liberals agree with conservatives that locking up 2.3 million people nationwide is a waste of money. Many conservatives agree with liberals that it’s a waste of lives.

Rookie’s bill would shine light on campaigns

Rep. Janna Della Rosa, R-Rogers, is a rookie, and she admits she made some rookie mistakes. During this past legislative session, her self-described rookie-ness got in her way as she tried to pass a bill that would have required legislative and statewide candidates to file campaign finance reports online in a searchable database. It failed in the House, 48-33, with 19 not voting, and never made it to the Senate.

A day of thanks

It would have been easy on Oct. 3, 1863, for President Lincoln — or anyone else — not to be thankful. The nation (or nations, depending on one’s perspective) was still mired in a terrible Civil War, and while the Union had enjoyed victories that summer in Gettysburg and Vicksburg, much bloody fighting remained. Earlier that year, Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd, had been injured in a carriage “accident” caused by an assailant sabotaging the driver’s seat. Their beloved son, Willie, had died the previous year at age 11.

A day of thanks

It would have been easy on Oct. 3, 1863, for President Lincoln — or anyone else — not to be thankful. The nation (or nations, depending on one’s perspective) was still mired in a terrible Civil War, and while the Union had enjoyed victories that summer in Gettysburg and Vicksburg, much bloody fighting remained. Earlier that year, Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd, had been injured in a carriage “accident” caused by an assailant sabotaging the driver’s seat. Their beloved son, Willie, had died the previous year at age 11.

Do needy students merit more scholarships?

Let’s jump straight into the facts. According to a new report, “Closing the Gap,” by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, 94 percent of Arkansas’ state-funded college scholarships are based solely on merit — ACT scores, etc. — while 6 percent also are based on need. Only two states and the District of Columbia are weighted more toward merit. The national average, on the other hand, is 75 percent need-based.

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.”