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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.

The grift that keeps on taking

The cornerstone of American criminal justice is Due Process. As a foundational principle for the U.S. Constitution, we can trace its origins back to Chapter 39 of Magna Carta, in which England’s King John promised that “[n]o free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseized or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”

Not just cheese also unicorns

On this day in 1835, the New York Sun newspaper tested the limits of public gullibility with the first in a series of fantastical stories about life on the moon. Five more would follow. The satirical pieces sparked international interest; and proved that a well-told whopper can snooker the best of us.

Public health or political pride

According to a recent report by Arkansas News Bureau, the state’s Medicaid expansion program commonly known as the private option is projected to have a positive impact on the state budget of $438 million between 2017 and 2021, a consulting firm hired by state legislators concluded recently.

The snap heard ‘round the world

On this day in 1920, 95 years ago, seven men assembled in the Jordan and Hupmobile showroom at Canton, Ohio, to organize an important forerunner of the National Football League. Among those gathered at the inception of the American Professional Football Conference (APFC) was legendary athlete, Jim Thorpe.

False dichotomy limits options

The likely closure of Entergy’s White Bluff coal-fired electrical plant has been met with a lot worry by many in the region. Those worries center primarily on the loss of jobs and the putative hit to the local economy. While such concerns are certainly warranted, they miss both the larger environmental and economic pictures.

An ignoble and enduring tradition

It is a comforting, yet possibly naïve belief that America has made strides in the way it expresses political and social dissent, but as history ably shows, such beliefs are more false comfort than real progress. This week we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Watts Riots in Los Angeles, California.

Red Bark Mulch

I have a suggestion for Gov. Hutchinson, who, at this writing, has yet to issue his formal call for a special legislative session this month. He will ask the General Assembly to approve a multi-million dollar bond issue to help a big defense company win an even more valuable contract to build armored vehicles at its Camden plant.

Heart stopping coincidences abound

As recently reported by The Commercial, the Pine Bluff School District has contracted with Nashville, Tennessee-based From the Heart International Educational Services for consulting services. Such arrangements are commonplace, but this one creates more questions than would normally be anticipated.

Special session, the governor and an ‘SEC Primary’

So it appears we are going to have a special session of the General Assembly later this month. Fine, if you believe that “economic development incentives,” as they are sometimes termed, to private industry bear fruit sufficient to outweigh the costs. Or not so fine, if you’re among those who regard such state subsidies to be “corporate welfare,” in the words of one (Republican) member of the legislature.

We can’t spare change

Seventy-five years ago today, Winston Churchill ascended to the position of British prime minister. In his first address to Parliament as prime minister, he outlined the coming arduous tasks and their concomitant sacrifices.

Victory and its aftermath

Today we note the 70th anniversary of VE-Day, the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in Europe. The unconditional surrender of the German war machine exacted a monumental toll on all sides. It positioned the United States for a post-war industrial boom; while setting Europe on a course for rebuilding and partition.

Criticism shameful at every turn

You know statesmanship in your community has reached rock bottom when a member of the city council publicly castigates a teenager for daring to be politically engaged. Sadly, that’s exactly what happened at the most recent meeting of the Pine Bluff city council when Alderman George Stepps thought it appropriate to criticize Ridgway Christian School senior William Fells III, who gave a speech at the April 20 meeting.