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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.

In memory of Ray Thornton

The night before Ray Thornton of Arkansas died I was reading a biography of Adlai Stevenson of Illinois. And making notes about Adlai and Arkansas (the connections abundant and well-known) and what he would make of today’s politics. (That column, coming soon). The book was on my desk in the morning when on my computer screen appeared the first word of Thornton’s death. The physical resemblance the two men shared — nose, eyes, the hairline (or absence of one) — amused rather than startled.

Why it’s too late to scrap the Iran deal

To most Republicans, the three scariest words in the English language, after “Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” are “Iran nuclear deal.” The GOP presidential candidates are so intent on putting distance between them and it that you’d think the document was printed on radioactive paper.

Population number bear reflection

A recent story published in The Commercial details one of the most serious issues facing the people of Pine Bluff and Jefferson County: population loss. The county and city have been in decline for almost three decades. Peaking at just over 57,000 in 1970 (and hovering there until 1990) the region has seen one of the most precipitous population slides in the nation.

A century of bunkshooting fear

Recently, the evangelist Franklin Graham held a prayer rally at the Arkansas State Capitol where he urged citizens to vote for Christian candidates who support “biblical principles.” During his speech, he railed against what he characterized as the “growth of secularism.”

Steering the national will

One hundred-fifty years ago this week, Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth mortally wounded U. S. Pres. Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theater at Washington, DC. History well records the sequence of events: Booth’s furtive move into Lincoln’s private theater box; the fatal shot to the back of the head; the assassin’s leg-breaking leap to the stage and his infamous cry of “sic semper tyrannis!”