Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Eat Arkansas

For food lovers

Eye Candy

On art in Arkansas

Street Jazz

A view from Northwest Arkansas

Eat Arkansas

Spice things up at Jerky's Chicken

While our experience was rather hit or miss overall, heading back to Jerky’s to nab a quick chopped jerk chicken sandwich would not be such a far-fetched idea.

Get tickets to the second annual Arkansas Times Heritage Hog Roast

Our annual Arkansas Times Heritage Hog Roast is on the horizon. The cook-off at the Argenta Farmers Market in North Little Rock is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, May 3. Tickets are $25 in advance, or $30 at the door and include pig meat and sides from the roasters and live music from Memphis' Ghost Town Blues Band, Runaway Planet and The Salty Dogs. Proceeds benefit the Argenta Arts District.

Jonathan Wilkins returns to the grill at Argenta Farmers Market

Jonathan Wilkins, the man behind the most delicious bar food Little Rock has ever seen, is cooking again. After leaving White Water Tavern last summer, Wilkins has resurfaced with Arkansas Fresh Bakery, a bakery out of Benton that largely supplies directly to restaurants, but has expansion plans on the horizon. Wilkins will begin selling Arkansas Fresh bread abd grilled sandwiches and snacks at the Argenta Farmers Market on Saturday.

Eye Candy

Friday: Gallery Walk in Hot Springs

There's something arboreal going on in the Spa City, with "Roots to Leaves" and the "Tree Show."

Eye Candy rocks

This blog is joining up with the Rock Candy blog in the not-too-distant future.

Saturday in Argenta: Grand opening at Laman branch

Music, variety show, reading event, gallery talk on history exhibition and arts and crafts activities all day.

Dining Review

Cache takes cash

April 3, 2014
Cache takes cash
But there's much to love about swanky River Market restaurant. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

A Q&A with Kevin Brockmeier on his new book, 'A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip: A Memoir of Seventh Grade.'

April 3, 2014
A Q&A with Kevin Brockmeier on his new book, 'A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip: A Memoir of Seventh Grade.'
Little Rock writer on influences, reservations and why he choose to focus on seventh grade. /more/

To-Do List

Dax Riggs comes to Stickyz

April 3, 2014
Dax Riggs comes to Stickyz
Also, Mike Epps at Robinson, Shinyribs at White Water Tavern, Zajal Live at the Reynolds Center in Fayetteville, 'The Godfather II' at Market Street, John Wiese at White Water, 'Breathless' at Vino's. /more/

Columnists

Max Brantley

Open the closets

Equality is winning, even when the victories seem like losses. /more/

Ernest Dumas

7 million reasons not to repeal the ACA

On the last signup day for first-year insurance coverage, Ross Douthat, the quasi-official Republican intellectual, wrote an obituary for the forces that hoped to repeal Obamacare when Republicans control all three branches of government. /more/

Gene Lyons

Hard to deny Obamacare

So it turns out that millions of people dealt with the Affordable Care Act enrollment cutoff pretty much the way they habitually deal with the April 15 income tax filing deadline: procrastinating until the last minute to ensure maximum stress and standing in line. Like mobbing shopping malls on the day after Thanksgiving, it's the American way of life. /more/

Movie Reviews

God stars as destroyer

April 3, 2014
God stars as destroyer
In Darren Aronofsky's 'Noah.' /more/

Pearls About Swine

Pearls About Swine: Mystified by Dykes selection

April 3, 2014
Pearls About Swine: Mystified by Dykes selection
For the better part of three years, Pearls About Swine has largely championed Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long for how he's met various decision points. But... /more/

Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Eat Arkansas

For food lovers

Eye Candy

On art in Arkansas

Street Jazz

A view from Northwest Arkansas

Arkansas Blog

Friday, April 4, 2014 - 13:05:00

More than two thirds of cuts in Ryan budget would slash programs for the poor

click to enlarge 4-3-14bud.png

U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan
's recently released budget was supposed to be a "comprehensive anti-poverty agenda" that would "speak directly to people who have fallen through the cracks." Lately, of course, Ryan has been aggressively trying to re-brand himself as an advocate for the poor. The Ayn Rand fan with no time for the 47 percent of takers? That was the old Ryan, and it doesn't sell politically with a public increasingly concerned about inequality. Now Ryan is touring impoverished neighborhoods and giving speeches on poverty and, while occasionally putting his foot in his mouth, generally trying to do everything he can to show that the Republican party cares about the plight of poor people in America. 

Ryan is newly committed, in short, to talking about poverty. But what would his budget actually do? The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is releasing a report today and finds that a whopping 69 percent of the cuts target programs for low-income people — Medicaid, food stamps, grants for college, SSI, school lunch and child nutrition programs, and more. 

Read it and weep: 

Health coverage. The Ryan budget has at least $2.7 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and subsidies to help low- and moderate-income people buy private insurance. Under the Ryan plan, at least 40 million low- and moderate-income people — that’s 1 in 8 Americans — would become uninsured by 2024.

Food assistance. The Ryan budget cuts SNAP (formerly food stamps) by $137 billion over the next decade. It adopts the harsh SNAP cuts that the House passed last September — which would force 3.8 million people off the program in 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office — and then converts SNAP to a block grant in 2019 and imposes still-deeper cuts.

Help affording college. The Ryan budget cuts Pell Grants for low- and moderate-income students by up to $125 billion through such means as freezing the maximum grant (which already covers less than a third of college costs) for ten years, cutting eligibility in various ways, and repealing all mandatory funding for Pell Grants.

Other mandatory programs serving low-income Americans. The Ryan budget cuts an additional $385 billion — beyond its SNAP cuts —from the budget category containing many mandatory programs for low- and moderate-income Americans, such as Supplemental Security Income for the elderly and disabled, the school lunch and child nutrition programs, and the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits for lower-income working families. We estimate that at least $250 billion of these cuts would fall on such low-income programs, as explained in the final paragraph of this blog.

Low-income discretionary programs. The Ryan budget cuts these programs by about $250 billion, on top of the cuts already enacted through the 2011 Budget Control Act’s discretionary caps and sequestration.

The actual agenda here isn't any different than the "47 percent of takers" image that Ryan has loudly been trying to shed, Ryan is just dressing it up with more palatable rhetoric. Remember, Ryan says that all of these cuts to our nation's neediest citizens will "empower recipients to get off the aid rolls." That's what Ryan means when he says his budget blueprint will "speak to people who have fallen through the cracks." The message it will speak: you're on your own. 

 

Friday, April 4, 2014 - 10:50:00

Poor Charles Koch! The press is being mean to him

click to enlarge Charles Koch, misunderstood.
  • Charles Koch, misunderstood.
Talking Points Memo and other news outlets are reporting on Koch industry Invista telling its employees to spread the word: The Koch brothers are all about a free society, and folks who object to the billionaires' pouring money into right-wing causes that benefit industry at a cost to the environment and people are lying.

Invista employees are being urged to spread "the truth" about the Kochs by sharing Charles Koch's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, in which he writes: 

Rather than try to understand my vision for a free society or accurately report the facts about Koch Industries, our critics would have you believe we're "un-American" and trying to "rig the system," that we're against "environmental protection" or eager to "end workplace safety standards" ...

Please. Who does Charles Koch think he's kidding? The critics "and their media allies," as Koch Industries COO Dave Robertson says in the message to employees, are making it up out of whole cloth that the Kochs are huge supporters of ALEC, the right-wing pro-industry legislation mill that tells Arkansas Republicans what to think, that the Environmental Protection Agency has fined Koch for pollution violations, that the Koch money fuels climate-change deniers Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the Manhattan Institute. Then there is brother Bill Koch, who has accused Charles Koch of stealing oil from Indian reservations and federal lands. What is the media to do? Ignore the facts and look to Charles Koch for "the truth"? Sheesh. Here's what Politifact has to say on the Kochs's other claims of environmental rectitude. 

 

Friday, April 4, 2014 - 10:21:00

Statement from Rhonda Wood appears to violate judicial rules

click to enlarge UNDER FIRE: Court of Appeals Judge Rhonda Wood.
  • UNDER FIRE: Court of Appeals Judge Rhonda Wood.
The knocks against Court of Appeals Judge Rhonda Wood keep piling up. She's been at the vanguard of the Republican, business-lobby takeover of the non-partisan judiciary. She's played loose with the facts on contributions to her unopposed campaign for Supreme Court by the nursing home lobby. Now, after responding to questions raised by Blue Hog Report about her eligibility to run for Supreme Court, Blue Hog's Matt Campbell argues that Wood has violated judicial rules

Yesterday, Wood released this statement:

Earlier this week, news reports questioned my uncontested candidacy for the Arkansas Supreme Court because of an issue with my attorney license dues payment in 2008.1 I take this opportunity to explain what happened.

On February 1, 2008, I made a good faith attempt to pay my license fee in a timely manner. I made a clerical error and my timely check was for the wrong amount, $100 instead of $200. As soon as I was notified of my error, I corrected it and paid the remaining amount. Unfortunately, this was on March 6th, three days after the license fee deadline that year of March 3rd. I was then notified I needed to pay a late fee of $100, which I immediately paid on March 11th.

I take full responsibility for the incorrect payment amount. However, I was never notified of the short suspension until media contacted me this week. My name was not included on the 2008 list of attorneys with delinquent dues. Finally, my license was never revoked, and I have been a licensed attorney in Arkansas since 1999.

Amendment 80 requires me to have been a licensed attorney the eight years prior to serving on the Arkansas Supreme Court. I have served as a Circuit Court Judge from 2007 – 2012 and as a Court of Appeals Judge since 2013. Both positions also required me to be a licensed attorney for a certain period of time and no person has ever before questioned my qualifications to serve on the bench.

I believe I meet the qualifications to serve on the Arkansas Supreme Court and I am prepared to defend my right to do so. I have admirably served our state, and I look forward to doing so again on our highest court.

Campbell argues that Wood, by arguing that an administrative suspension of her law license shouldn't disqualify her from holding a judicial seat, is betraying her impartiality on an issue that's almost sure to come before the Supreme Court. Which judicial rules naturally prohibit.

If you haven't been following along, this issue comes in the wake of Circuit Judge John Cole's recent ruling disqualifying lawyer Valerie Thompson Bailey from challenging Circuit Judge Tim Fox for the 6th Circuit judgeship that Fox currently holds. Cole ruled Bailey was ineligible because her law license, issued in 1999, was suspended between 2002 and 2011 because she didn't complete the required annual legal education courses. Law requires a judge to have six years of law licensure "preceding the date of assuming office." From the bench, Cole said, "A suspension is a suspension is suspension. It doesn’t matter if it’s administrative or disciplinary."

Separate lawsuits have since been filed challenging the eligibility of Judge H.G. Foster, attorney Angela Byrd and Judge Tim Fox (Campbell is an attorney in the Fox case). Several other judicial candidates have had their licenses suspended, but there eligibility has not yet been challenged in court. 

Judicial apocalypse here we come!

 

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Friday, April 4, 2014 - 11:50:00

A report from last night's Charles Portis Gala at the Governor's Mansion

click to enlarge gov.jpg

Last night, the Porter Fund hosted a $200-per-ticket gala to celebrate the Arkansas-born novelist Charles Portis, who was not in attendance. The Fund, started by authors Phillip McMath and Jack Butler in 1984, presents a Lifetime Achievement Award to an Arkansas author every five years, and this year they chose the author of "Norwood," "True Grit," "The Dog of the South," "Masters of Atlantis" and "Gringos," all of which were on sale at a table display in the foyer of the Governor's Mansion when I arrived at 6 p.m.

A tornado watch was in effect as the guests showed up. "In Arkansas, a gala isn't really a gala without a tornado," as Roy Blount, Jr. would put it later in the evening. The mansion itself was extremely clean, full of large mirrors and extravagant light fixtures (I wrote this down: "great light fixtures"). To get to the banquet hall, we walked down a carpeted staircase embroidered with the names of every Arkansas governor who has lived in the building, from Beebe, Huckabee and Tucker down to Faubus, Cherry, McMath. Incidentally, Sid McMath, 34th Governor of this state, was also the father of Phillip, the Fund's co-founder and the host of the night's event.

Did you know that Charles Portis's nickname is Buddy? I didn't know that, but from the very first speech of the night, Buddy was the only name used by anyone at the podium. Phillip McMath opened the ceremony with a long and bizarre talk, part history of the Porter Fund's founding and part memoir of his time growing up in the Governor's Mansion. He showed some childhood photos on the overhead projector, snapshots of himself as a toddler palling around with Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and President Truman. He gave a wildly hyperbolic endorsement of "Buddy" Portis's genius that had something to do with aliens and Mark Twain, and made a series of nearly unintelligible jokes about his father having "six murderers on staff" when he ran the state. 

/more/  

 

Friday, April 4, 2014 - 11:19:00

A Q&A with Stephen Koch, author of 'Louis Jordan: Son of Arkansas, Father of R&B'

click to enlarge 018.jpg

Stephen Koch, the Little Rock musician, writer and all-around Arkansas music advocate, has long been fascinated by the singer, saxophonist and bandleader Louis Jordan, who was born in Brinkley, Arkansas, in 1908 and was one of the most beloved popular musicians of the 1940s. His new biography, "Louis Jordan: Son of Arkansas, Father of R&B," is a record of this fascination and an impressive feat of research, tracing Jordan's career from his early days playing gigs in Hot Springs to his death in 1975, in between detailing his classic collaborations with Ella Fitzgerald, his pop stardom and movie career, his front-page-news stabbing (at the hands of his wife) and his indelible impact on the pioneers of rock, funk, bebop and even ska. 

How did you first get interested in Louis Jordan? 

I can't recall a time when I wasn't interested in Louis Jordan and his music. I bounced on my dad's knee to "Beans and Cornbread." It's great music for kids. But as I grew up, I seemed to be the only person, young or old, even among music fans, that had even heard of him. He was such a shadowy figure, and you never saw his records. There was no statue of Louis Jordan in his hometown. If it hadn't been for finding the occasional Tympany Five 78 in a junk shop, I would have thought I dreamed the whole thing.

When did decide to write the book — and what was the research process like?

My initial, actual research in Louie started when I was living in Los Angeles and Nancy Williams asked me to write his biographical entry for "Arkansas Biography."  I'd wanted to write a full-length biography of Louie and his music and influence for a long time, but got sidetracked — mostly by other Louis Jordan projects, ironically (a documentary, a musical, radio special, tribute concerts, etc.). Finding a good publisher in History Press took a lot longer than writing the book.

/more/  

 

Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 16:07:00

Watch the first seven minutes of FX's 'Fargo,' starring Billy Bob Thornton


Adapting a classic film into a television series is a great idea from a marketing perspective (it's a pre-sold franchise with name recognition) and a boldly terrible idea from an artistic one. "M*A*S*H" admittedly worked out pretty well, and I still ride for "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles," but for the most part it's a bleak subgenre"Fargo" could go either way: the cast is promising, and with shows like "Louie," "Justified," "Archer" and "The Americans," FX has established itself as a safe home for good and serious TV, but it's tough to be optimistic. Now you can watch the first seven minutes of the first episode and see for yourself.

 

More Rock Candy

Cover Story

Better health care, lower cost

April 3, 2014
Better health care, lower cost
Arkansas's Payment Improvement Initiative shows it can be done. /more/

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Arkansas Reporter

Worry about fate of Hall's Newcomer Center simmers

April 3, 2014
Worry about fate of Hall's Newcomer Center simmers
But LRSD's Suggs says fears unfounded. /more/

Editorials

Coleman goes boldly

April 3, 2014
Arkansas has had many governors who were unfriendly to public education. Proudly ignorant themselves, they thought it presumptuous of others to ask for more. Besides, people who get more education are likely to want more money, and the Curtis Colemans of the state are committed to keeping workers' wages low, so that bosses' profits can be kept high. Low wages are among Arkansas's most enduring traditions. /more/

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