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Christmas a time of opportunity

This is the time of year when so many of us worry about the “perfect” gift, the “perfect” meal and the “perfect” outfit. Often subconsciously we hold ourselves to an unobtainable Norman Rockwell standard of holiday pageant. In so doing, we create needless stress and imperil an otherwise joyous season.

Facilitating dollar sign diplomacy

President Barack Obama recently moved to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. With a great predictability, several members of Congress have decried the action as pandering to Communism. Fortunately, a few cooler heads have also weighed in to the debate.

Let the music play

In a recent report, the White Hall School District’s School Board President Raymond Jones laid out a bold plan for much-needed improvements to the high school. The board voted Tuesday to proceed with the second phase of this plan.

Barriers tested and broken

It sounds like the setup for a redneck cautionary tale: Take a very aerodynamic car chassis with “Budweiser” painted in great big letters down the side, drop in a 48,000 horsepower rocket engine and, just for good measure, strap on a 12,000 horsepower sidewinder missile. What could possibly go wrong?

Distinguishing want from need

A little more than a month ago, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal by a man on Alabama’s death row for the 1989 pipe bomb death of Federal Appeals Court Judge Robert S. Vance. Without comment, the Supreme Court denied the request of Walter Leroy Moody to review his petition.

Truth or grave consequences

With new revelations on the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of torture in the so-called “war on terror,” it becomes painfully, shamefully clear that bad things have been done in our name. It has always been so. It will likely always be so. If we are not a better nation than depicted in the recent Senate Intelligence Committee report, we need to become one.

Degenerate Art then and now

Almost every day appears to give us a new decadence against which to rail. Some mover within popular culture produces a new spectacle and the critics recoil. It’s probably been this way since the dawn of humankind. It’s certainly not a phenomenon exclusive to the United States.

Waning moderation in all things

Earlier this week, Sen. Mark Pryor made a farewell address to the United States Senate. One can speculate as to why Pryor lost his bid for reelection. Perhaps he was too much of a Democrat; or perhaps not enough; or maybe it was the great influx of outsider campaign donations to his opponent. Certainly, in today’s Arkansas, having a “D” behind one’s name was pretty much all that was necessary to get one unelected. Whatever the reasons, Pryor must now ply his trade elsewhere.

New Congress has great opportunity

It doesn’t matter how one’s candidate fared in the recent elections. There is always something festive in what Stephens Washington Bureau reporter Peter Urban calls a “biennial rite of passage”: drawing lots for office space newly elected members of Congress will occupy during their terms.

Familiar refrain across the way

There’s a story now unfolding in Mississippi that should ring eerily familiar to many Arkansans. At the center of it stands Christopher Epps, a charming, detail-oriented post-wunderkind who as corrections commissioner had overseen the state’s inmate population quadruple while prison facilities expanded to include five new private prisons. Epps is the state’s longest serving corrections commissioner. As an accomplished African-American, Epps was widely hailed as a professional and personal role model.

Of creed deed and discontent

One hundred years ago a small group of German intellectuals formed a group in response to their nation’s aggressive campaign of invasion and annexation. Dubbed the Bund Neues Vaterland (New Fatherland League), the organization was headed by physician, Georg Nicolai.

Bang bang boogie remembered

With the now famous refrain, “I said a hip hop, hippie to the hippie, the hip, hip a hop, and you don’t stop, a rock it, to the bang bang boogie, say, up jump the boogie, to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat…” hip hop music leapt out of inner city enclaves and into suburban America. The year was 1979. The track was a 14-minute-long opus titled “Rapper’s Delight.”

Dreams, tears and new lives

On its website, the National Park Service introduces Ellis Island with the phrase, “Island of Hope, Island of Tears.” From 1892 to 1924, Ellis Island, located off the southern tip of Manhattan Island, was the United States’ largest and most active immigration station, where over 12 million immigrants were processed.

Careful what you want

The election held Tuesday is arguably the greatest post-Reconstruction moment in the history of the Arkansas Republican party. With almost every constitutional office either filled by or awaiting a Republican incumbent, it is important to take stock of what this election is, what it isn’t and what their newfound mantle requires.

Five hundred years and counting

Earlier this fall, the Palo Alto Longevity Prize was inaugurated by physician, life-enhancing advocate, and hedge fund manager Joon Yun. The goal of the contest is largely the same as Ponce de Leon’s expeditions during the sixteenth century: finding the fountain of youth. Of course the Palo Alto Prize is couched in modern medicine, not magic-infused waters, but the promise of it remains the same.