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Combatting the Spice of death

If you didn’t know better, you might assume the silver foil package contained some kind of candy. The colorful graphics and branding certainly suggest as much. The names also have playful or dramatic overtones: Scooby Snax, Puff, Dreamz, King Kong, Joker, Geeked Up, Fire, Skunk, Moon Rocks… among many others.

Right-wing rhetoric helping both parties’ major candidates

I swear, if I was a Democrat running for president I would divert as much of my campaign treasury as I could to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Arkansas’s own Mike Huckabee. If I was any Democrat angling to see my party’s nominee win next year I would do the same. Moreover, if I was a Republican trying to set my party aright (but cantered still to the right) I would send all three money, knowing, as do the Democrats (and independents), that not Trump nor Cruz nor Huckabee has a hope of the White House and that their campaigns will serve only to soil the eventual GOP candidate and thus hasten a much-overdue reconsideration of what the party should represent.

Same debate a half century later

Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill creating the national Medicare and Medicaid programs. The ceremony was held at Independence, Missouri, the birthplace of President Harry Truman. Truman, who was issued the very first Medicare card, had lobbied unsuccessfully for similar programs during his time in office.

Enabling change 25 years later

Imagine that you have just graduated near the top of your class at an elite collegiate engineering program. Now imagine you go out into the world only to be repeatedly rebuffed by prospective employers. Their reasons for your rejection? You credentials are first order: good school; good grades; good recommendations. It’s none of those things. It’s because you use a wheelchair.

New tools to block intrusion

As recently reported by The Commercial, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Wednesday joined 44 other state attorneys general in calling on phone carriers AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and CenturyLink to offer call-blocking technology to their customers. We believe this is a necessary step to improve consumer protection.

Yet more uninformed public policy

We’re already in touch with the fact that the current raft of Arkansas legislators is dominated by individuals whose policy positions are misguided, so it was no real surprise when we read that a bill had advanced that would restrict registered sex offenders from living near churches.

Twined fortunes communal misfortune

Watching the fractious and often poison relationship between embattled Pine Bluff School District Superintendent Linda Watson and her school board is eerily familiar. It’s almost like watching Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth fight with certain members of the city council. It’s similar because both women recognize the need for deep systemic changes — necessary changes — and their respective governing bodies appear content to let their constituents slip into the abyss.

House bill 1681 is ‘poor option’

The House City, County and Local Affairs Committee of the Arkansas General Assembly is scheduled today to consider House Bill 1681 by Rep. Mickey Gates, R-Hot Springs, that will give governing bodies the “option” of placing their public notices in a newspaper or on their website.

Bill fences in American dream

Yet again the blind march to theocracy wins the day in the Arkansas House of Representatives. This week the House voted 61-8 to approve HB 1474 by Rep. Brandt Smith, R-Jonesboro, which asserts that American law trumps foreign law in Arkansas courts. News flash: It already does. As long as the nation stands, it always will.

Corporate greed caught in net

Last week the Federal Communications Commission did the right thing in its vote to preserve net neutrality. In its Open Internet Order, the FCC helped to determine an important aspect of Internet functionality by requiring service providers to be a neutral gateway instead of handling different types of Internet traffic in different ways and charging different rates based on traffic content.

Leave it to the professionals

Even though the administrators of every single college campus in Arkansas have opted out, some members of the legislature are determined to cram loaded guns down their throats. Pushing a reformualtion of an already defeated bill, Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, seeks to rob colleges of their “local control” where concealed weapon carry is concerned. So much for being anti-big government.

Illogical governing

Whatever its merits or shortcomings, a federal judge’s decision last week blocking the Obama administration’s immigration policy offered congressional Republicans an escape path from the corner into which they had painted themselves by imperiling funding for the Department of Homeland Security and its 240,000 employees. Thus far they have not shown the wisdom to accept this gift.