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The ditch–the final chapter

I’ve been overwhelmed by the almost 60 wonderful e-mails I’ve received on my piece, “The Ditch.” So many of these offered hope I’d find my old friends, Glodene and Doll Baby. I am delighted to tell you I have and I can now give you “the rest of the story.”

Applauding mayor’s Animal Control veto

Continuing its march of distraction, the issue of removing Pine Bluff Animal Control from the supervision of the Police Department has taken yet another turn. Showing the wisdom and judgment that got her elected in the first place, Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth vetoed a proposal to separate the two entities.

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.

Tesla vs. dealers: Let buyers decide

America is the land of the free - unless your idea of freedom includes a right to build cars and sell them directly to the public, rather than through a third party. For those who try to do that, America morphs into a semi-feudal system of state-law trade barriers and bureaucracy whose ostensible purpose is to protect consumers but whose actual one is to protect incumbent holders of automobile retail franchises, as expert testimony confirmed at a Federal Trade Commission conference on the subject in January.

Putting words in someone’s mouth

I recently saw a silly cartoon that gave me an idea for this column. The first frame showed two siblings sitting on the floor amidst piles of torn paper. The second frame showed the older of the two with a comic bubble showing a lightbulb above his head. He then began sticking bits of paper in the younger one’s mouth, saying, “Chew! Chew! Swallow!” at the younger’s loud cry, the mother rushes in and asks, “WHAT’S going on here?” The older calmly answers, “Aw, nothing, I’m just puttin’ words in Timmy’s mouth.”

What Trump and Sanders get wrong on trade

Donald Trump says the problem in the United States is that “we don’t win anymore.” Trade is his favorite example, based on our longstanding trade deficit. But in one big area, America is a big global winner, year after year. That little-known fact exposes the basic, fatal error in Trump’s lament.

Modern privateers still influential

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress issued a document entitled, “Instructions to Commanders of Private Ships or vessels of War, which shall have Commissions of Letters of Marque and Reprisal, authorizing them to make Captures of British Vessels and Cargoes.” This declaration gave the captains of privately owned commercial ships the right to attack and plunder British ships without any legal consequences. Thus began the long American tradition of private military contractors.

Pacts old, new and irrelevant

Twenty-five years ago today, the Warsaw Pact came to an end. Formed as a military counterpoint to the West’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the original assembly included the Soviet Union, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Albania.

Oligarchs rise in dirty money

The concept of hegemony is popular among people who study the distribution of power across societies and the world. The term ‘hegemony’ is used to indicate a condition where a small group of people exert a disproportionate or unfair influence over another group.

Council trapped under logical rubble

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by this point in the situation, but recent efforts by certain members of the Pine Bluff City Council to construct a false victim narrative around Garland Trice; and a concomitant effort to vilify Danny Bradshaw (dba Mr. Brick) really strain credulity. At the most recent meeting of the council, members Steven Mays, George Stepps and Thelma Walker each exhibited a rationale that borders on delusional.