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Opinion

Strong evidence against capital punishment

Just this week Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge was almost gleeful in stating her intent to set execution dates for several inmates on the state’s death row. I worry about people who think capital punishment represents the great pinnacle of justice. Given her demonstrated proclivities to shill for all manner other ultra-conservative, anti-science and anti-environmental causes, the fact that she champions an ineffectual and draconian punishment philosophy is nauseatingly predictable. At least she’s consistent.

Justice and Freddie Gray

Local prosecutors, being elected to office, are subject to the rule of the people. Their decisions, however, are not — or at least they shouldn’t be. Any state’s attorney or district attorney worthy of the office gives public opinion about particular cases exactly the weight it deserves: zero.

Fiddling around, ignoring problems

You know the story about Nero fiddling while Rome burned? It didn’t actually happen, but it illustrates a point about leaders crazily ignoring a problem. These days, no illustration is needed. The government’s largest programs, Social Security and Medicare, are not burning up, but their problems are being ignored.

A growing family farm

A few weeks ago I wrote about a small gardening project I had undertaken. I built planter boxes and trellises against my old shed. I planted gourds, moonflowers and pumpkins in the boxes. The gourds and moonflowers are now snaking their way slowly up the trellises. I am hopeful that the summer will yield many flowers and alien-looking fruit.

First ladies independent and important

The old sentiment “behind every successful man is a strong woman” is a tad antiquated in an era when a woman is the putative presidential nominee of a major political party. Strength, intellect, creativity and rectitude have always been equally distributed across genders. Only in recent years has American culture finally begun to embrace that fact.

After Orlando, Exercises in Irrelevancy

In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Orlando, our leaders have shown a talent for devising remedies that are clear, simple and irrelevant. One politician after another has stepped forward with remedies that would not actually have stopped or appreciably hindered Omar Mateen from carrying out his slaughter.

Airport lines: your government failing you

This summer, air travel is for people who expect to go to hell and want to know what it will be like. Security lines have reached epic lengths in many airports. Thousands of travelers have missed flights. And the Transportation Security Administration now advises passengers to arrive two hours before departure for domestic flights — and three in some places.

Researching the opposition

Opposition research, as it’s called, has been underway for decades. Every public utterance by Hillary Clinton has been vacuumed from the public record: newspapers, magazines, television and radio tapes, speech transcripts, White House letters and logs, congressional testimony, Senate papers, State Department correspondence (save for whatever may be, or may have been, on the personal e-mail server she used). As it becomes available, that is; some White House documents, stored at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, have yet to be catalogued and opened to inspection, a process that surely will bring more accusations that the National Archives is acceding to pressure from the Clintons to drag its feet.

Colorado’s lessons from legal pot

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper opposed a 2012 state ballot initiative to allow the sale and use of marijuana for recreational purposes. He told voters it might “increase the number of children using drugs and would detract from efforts to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation. It sends the wrong message to kids that drugs are OK.” Spurning his advice, voters approved it.

Spiting Obama proves lethal

‘If we can’t defeat it, we’ll at least make it very hard to enroll’ appears to be the logic behind Arkansas’ Republican legislators’ approval of a 2014 amendment to the state’s so-called private option Medicaid marketplace. The cynical tactic appears to have worked.

Repurposed signs inspire hope

With a regular slate of depressing things to report, it was heartening to read a recent article in The Commercial detailing Ron Jefferson’s efforts to improve Pine Bluff. Jefferson, who returned to Pine Bluff after living decades in Detroit, now supervises individuals who have been convicted of petty crimes and sentenced to perform community service. As such, Jefferson clearly understands the wages of negativity. He’s also engaged in a program tailored to thwart some of those detracting forces.