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Fishers of men or fools?

While historians can’t say for certain exactly how April 1 came to be celebrated as April Fools’ Day, most proffer a religious connection dating to 1582. Most scholars believe the day has its origins in 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII decreed the adoption of the “Gregorian calendar” — named after himself — which moved New Year’s Day from the end of March to Jan. 1.

Extremists count on your credulity

On Friday, the Arkansas Senate passed House Bill 1228 (SB 202), a bill to enact the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Supporters assert that the bill would offer protections to individuals and businesses who do not want to serve certain individuals based on their religious beliefs. The bill is now headed back to the House for a final amendment approval. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

Ted Cruz and the Born-Again GOP

President Dwight Eisenhower signed the bill making “In God We Trust” the nation’s official motto, but his approach to religion was not excessive in its rigor. “Our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious belief,” he once declared, “and I don’t care what it is.”

BUMPY RIDES ON HIGHWAYS MAY LAST

On Interstate 40 near Brinkley a couple of weeks ago, I drove past a sign reading something like, “Big pothole ahead.” I can’t recall ever before seeing a road sign like that on an interstate, but it was certainly accurate. Actually, “crater” would have been a better word.

Starving the beast only made it hungrier

Some time in the 1970s, the Republican Party pledged allegiance to a strategy known as “starve the beast,” which said that the way to reduce the size of government was to reduce the taxes going into it. President Reagan in 1981 used another metaphor: reducing children’s allowance. Democrats, happy to increase government without paying for it, largely acquiesced.

Time to use animal cruelty laws

With the recent death of De’Trick Johnson, the people of Pine Bluff and Jefferson County are forced to recognize the flaws in our local culture of animal keeping. While county lawmakers have been largely mute on the twined issues of dangerous dogs and animal cruelty, the Pine Bluff City Council chose to address the problems with ineffectual and uninformed “breed specific” ordinances. These ordinances do little other than punish the dog for the crimes of the owner.

To walk fall and rise

Fifty years ago this week, Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev sent this congratulatory message to cosmonaut Alexei Leonov as he orbited the Earth: “We members of the Politburo are here sitting and watching what you are doing. We are proud of you. We wish you success. Take care. We await your safe arrival on Earth.”

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.

Infamy cycled and condemned

President Ronald Reagan once observed: “History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.” This sentiment is particularly apt this weekend as we observe the 73rd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Closeted heroes reflect social bias

It was a run for the record books, but like most competitive streaks, this too came to an end. Back in late 2004, contestant Ken Jennings’ string of 74 consecutive wins on the television game show, Jeopardy ground to a halt with one missed question. Of course, by that time, Jennings had amassed $2.5 million in winnings.