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Like Mike

In the 1990’s, Michael Jordan was a hero of the NBA and a pop culture icon. A recurring theme in Gatorade ads at the time featured people singing about how they wanted to “be like Mike.”

What should be done about Lidia?

When leaders of eight Arkansas higher learning institutions sent a letter to Congress recently calling for immigration reform, among their arguments was that undocumented students brought to America as children struggle to access college — a waste of their talents, both for them and for society.

Voter fraud is a fraud

Hardly anyone noticed last spring when Jon Husted, the Republican Secretary of State in Ohio, issued a report on the 2012 election. Out of 5.63 million ballots cast in that state, he identified 135 possible cases of voter fraud.

When will the madness end?

Who knows when this madness will end. Perhaps by the time these words reach print we will have been delivered of the latest psychotic episode — the absurd shuttering of some federal government bureaus and offices. Dangerous shenanigans, and a national embarrassment. And still to come is the debt ceiling debate.

Uncle Sam can't refuse to pay bills

As this column is being written, the government is shut down, which is bad, but temporary. The bigger debate is over raising the debt limit, which will be reached on about Oct. 17. The consequences of failing to increase it would be permanent, would cost taxpayers trillions of dollars, and would benefit mostly the foreign creditors who loan our government money.

The real meaning of the 'Redskins' debate

As a general rule, the names of professional sports teams, and their connotations, are of little concern. No one cares that the Chicago White Sox don’t wear white socks, or that Utah, where the NBA’s Jazz are based, is the last place you’d think of when you think of jazz.

Obamacare is here for now

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — has dominated the political conversation for the last five years since the legislation was introduced in 2009. Now, at long last, key parts of it are here, but for how long may depend on factors outside either political party’s control.

Risk, relativity and reward

This week the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics released a new report, Measuring the Prevalence of Crime with the National Crime Victimization Survey. The report contains information couched in often complex details, but they distill into promising news.

School elections, few vote. Is that ok?

I've used this quote before in describing runoff elections, but it's even more appropriate for the upcoming school elections. The poet Carl Sandburg wrote, "Sometime they'll give a war and nobody will come." Each September in Arkansas, it could be said, "Sometime they'll have an election, and nobody will vote."

Examining our conversations about race

When people call for a national "conversation" about race, what they really have in mind is a lecture. Sometimes President Obama is among them. So at the expense of alienating critical race theorists, some heresy: If the president wants to understand why he heard car door locks clicking as he walked down the street, he should study those two appalling homicides in Duncan, Okla. and Spokane, Wash. that Fox News is beating the drums about.

The endless quest for credibility

The United States boasts the most powerful military on Earth. We have 1.4 million active-duty personnel, thousands of tanks, ships and planes, and 5,000 nuclear warheads. We spend more on defense than the next 13 countries combined. Yet we are told we have to bomb Syria to preserve our credibility in world affairs.

Political names

They were on their way from Little Rock to some political mission in the state's upper left corner so, naturally, they left Interstate 40 near Fort Smith and motored north on its newer cousin. A moment later they passed a sign proclaiming the asphalt to be not just I-540 but the John Paul Hammerschmidt Highway.

A less imperial president

In the runup to an attack on Syria, some disenchanted voters were thinking, "This wouldn't be happening if we had elected Barack Obama." On Saturday, they got a welcome surprise: They did elect Barack Obama.

Reader mailbag

Occasionally I receive feedback from you – my dear readers – regarding a column I have written. Whether the e-mails are positive or negative, I consider them the highest compliment that something I wrote evoked a reaction strong enough for you to take time to express your feelings.

Can a new sisterhood march on Washington?

"Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will," Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his 1963 "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." He was describing his frustration with some white "moderates" who gave lip service to his civil rights case but couldn't bring themselves to join. "Lukewarm acceptance," King wrote, "is much more bewildering than outright rejection."