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Steve Brawner


The craziest primary, hands down

I cannot believe I’m writing this, but last week saw two of the four remaining Republican presidential candidates commenting about the size of Donald Trump’s “hands.” I’m 46 years old, which means I’m at the age when I start looking at the past through rose-colored glasses, but I’m pretty sure presidential elections have never sunk this low in my lifetime.

GOP shows Obama its cards

Generals don’t tell the enemy where they are going to attack. Boxers don’t tell their opponents where they are going to punch. But Republicans told President Obama and the Democrats exactly what they were going to do about the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy, and because of that, they may have increased the chances Hillary Clinton will be the next president. After Justice Antonin Scalia passed away, Republicans quickly declared that Obama might as well not nominate a successor because the Senate won’t confirm him or her anyway. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., said the seat “should not be filled” until the next president takes office. Most of the party’s presidential candidates made similar statements.

Presidential and private option politics

Primary elections were moved this year from May to March 1 to give Arkansans a voice in the presidential election and to help former Gov. Mike Huckabee win an early state. The more important result will be that state lawmakers will make a lot of decisions about Arkansas’ future with an election in their rearview mirrors instead of in their windshields.

Priorities and the Hogs

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines “juxtaposition” as “the act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side.” On January 27, an interesting one occurred at a University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees meeting.

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.