Archive for the ‘Arkansas Culture’ Category

How’s Mike Beebe doing?

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So I chatted by phone this morning with Mike Beebe. It was the first time we’d talked since he left the building.

Any governmental or legislative commentary or analysis was off-the-record, not that he had much of that to offer. I just wondered how he was doing. I miss the rascal.

But on the important stuff he said:

1. Ginger sustained a little physical setback from which she is recovering well, but which had him for a time doing two things he had not really ever much done. Laundry was one and vacuuming the other.

2. He is hitting the golf ball better than ever but can’t putt. Putting is for the younger man who hasn’t missed enough putts in his lifetime to know how scary putting is.

3. Reports that he is mostly coaching the Arkansas State football team are false, in part because they have a good coach and fine recruiter who has landed a class in the top 50 or 60 in the country and comparable to Kentucky’s or Vanderbilt’s.

By the way, he is not doing either lawyering or lobbying. He has affiliated with the Roberts Law Firm on its international business side to advise clients on economic development prospects. I don’t really know what that means. He goes to the office, oh, maybe a half-day a week.

On this day, AETN was coming up to Searcy to interview him for a documentary about him.

So no golf today. No putts left short or pulled wide.







Written by jbrummett

April 7th, 2015 at 2:33 pm

Quoting Vickery on the gay matter

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Credit where due: Conservative quipster/lobbyist Bill Vickery said during my monthly sit-in with him on his radio show Sunday morning that, when it came to religious rights and gay rights in Arkansas from the big to-do last week, “nothing has changed and everything has changed.”

That’s exactly it.

I deem that to be Vickery’s best line since he said Liza Minnelli would play Martha Shoffner in the movie. Or when he said voting for Mike Ross as Mike Beebe’s third term was like flirting with the pretty girl all night, then going home at closing time with her ugly sister.

What Vickery meant first was that law in Arkansas is unchanged. Asa Hutchinson’s big show of resistance actually left the status quo. Religion is freely practiced in our Bible Belt state, where no one had even remotely impeded it. And gays remain without expressed anti-discrimination protections in our law.

But, politically speaking, he meant that The Washington Post article was correct that the gay rights movement has won.

Indiana had to retreat. The business and entertainment industries demanded it.

Arkansas had to appear to retreat. Walmart and Acxiom and our fully warranted fear of another besmirched reputation demanded it.

And then Georgia, with such a bill under consideration, looked at Indiana, and then Arkansas, and said to hell with that.

With remarkable rapidity, the gay rights movement has so remade the prevailing American culture that American corporations, under new public pressure in both a micro and macro way from the immediate and intimate public connection of social media, must now get out in front of a cultural issue like that with a purely economic decision to attend to the emerging customer base.

Corporations make the real decisions and government falls in line. That’s an old thing and a bad thing on tax and regulatory policy. But apparently it’s a good thing and a progressive thing for the culture.

What it means on public school policy is a big fight, which is what we may be about to have in the state-usurped Little Rock district.

That’s another blog post.






Written by jbrummett

April 6th, 2015 at 4:28 pm

Three points on Wally and Razorback, Inc.


I spent some time this morning — wasted, some would say — taking to the Twitter to argue with oxymoronic Arkansas sports journalists in light of Wally Hall’s mighty fine column this morning.

The Wallster took to task Razorback, Inc., of which the University of Arkansas is a subsidiary, for selling marketing rights to an out-of-state firm that operates from offices on the state-owned campus and posts videos of football team practice sessions from which the Arkansas sports media is barred.

Wally called this a case of the Hogs competing with the news media professionals covering them.

I wish to make three points if I may:

1. Arkansas sports journalism is mostly about Hog boosterism. It looks to me like Channel 4 doesn’t have a sports news segment, but a Razorback promotional segment. So the specific complaint is actually that the Hogs are competing in the boosterism field with the local media. My suggestion, then, is that Arkansas sports journalism try some, you know, journalism. Detached, questioning, dubious. That assertion by me this morning on the Twitter led a couple of offended sportswriters to say Arkansas sportswriting had come a long way since my childhood days in it. I replied, yes, the wrong way. In those days, at least Orville Henry wrote informatively, insightfully and authoritatively. My boss at the Arkansas Democrat was a guy named Fred Morrow, who may still be the best columnist I ever read. He had little use for Frank Broyles or the Hogs and wrote so. I seem to remember he actually made fun of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

2. Arkansas newspapers waste too much precious money that could be paid to me on sending massive contingents to these Razorback football games. Basically, the only thing these armies of typewriter jocks are doing is watching live production of a television show. Statistics are kept for them. Dressing room quotes are provided for them. And if real news breaks out, such as Bobby Petrino’s camera-caught crossfield outburst toward Les Miles two years ago at LSU, then they say, hey, I didn’t see it. Does television not provide replay? The CBS people are right down there in the other booth. Check on the Twitter and see that everyone is talking about this incident, then ask CBS to replay the video for you, then do a story. I wrote a column on this incident the Tuesday after this Friday game. It was the first newspaper column reference to Petrino’s misbehavior.

3. Razorback, Inc., has always been out of control and remains so. Johnny  Tyson got off the UA Board of Trustees becaue he was sick of the way Jeff Long ran the whole university. David Pryor, who is on the board, has some of the same cocnerns, but is entirely too circumspect to make a spectacle, especially with his boy not needing any familial waves made until Mr. Cotton is disposed of.

Otherwise, Wally had a good column and was right.


Written by jbrummett

August 15th, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Posted in Arkansas Culture

Reid, Pryor and Arkansas gun zealotry


Allow me to explain why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would take the assault-weapon ban out of the gun control measure.

It’s because of you.

Not you solely or specifically, of course. I refer to you in a general way as an Arkansas voter, thus an element of a gun-crazed electoral subset.

I refer to our pervasive identity in the Natural State as irrationally devoted to the self-enriching propaganda of the National Rifle Association.

You know the nonsense to which I refer: Any restriction of any kind of any weapon violates your constitutional right to defend yourself against an evil president who is coming for your gun,

You know the self-enrichment to which I refer: The more that the NRA can make you afraid, the more money the NRA receives.

So Arkansas paranoia rules the country. Arkansas paranoia helps keep it possible to shoot faster to kill more children in a shorter time.

What I am saying is that Reid’s action is largely about preventing U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor from losing too many of your votes in the next election.

It matters to the country whether the Democrats hold control of the Senate. It matters to Democrats in holding that control whether Pryor keeps his seat. It matters to Pryor’s keeping that seat whether you will vote for him.

So put yourself at the center of gravity on gun issues in America.

Reid is a practical politician who enjoys a Democratic majority and would like to preserve it, indeed build on it toward filibuster-proofing. He certainly does not want to imperil it for the next election cycle.

He has four Democratic senators from red states who face re-election in 2014, one of them Pryor. The others are Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, Mark Begich in Alaska and Kay Hagan in North Carolina.

Please understand that the Tea Party-infested U.S. House of Representatives will never approve an assault-weapon ban. So the Senate exercise of pursuing such a ban, led by California’s Diane Feinstein, is academic, pointless as policy.

So what Reid has done is pare the assault-weapon ban from the main gun control measure. He’s told Feinstein she can propose it only as an amendment.

Leaving it in the main bill would cause Republican senators to filibuster, blocking any gun legislation at all.

It would force Pryor and those three others either to vote to end a filibuster and thus for the ban, and thereby likely commit political suicide, or vote against any gun legislation and so outrage their bases that their re-elections would be severely weakened by a loss of supporter enthusiasm.

And it would be for no good reason since the House is not going to approve an assault-weapon ban anyway.

So Reid wants to give Pryor and the three others something moderate on guns to support, though it’s not certain they’ll do even that as long as there is an unsettled dispute about whether universal background checks would create a national gun owner database, which the gun lobby fears for some paranoid reason.

Then it would be up to these red-state senators to finesse with their liberal bases their separate votes against Feinstein’s amendment for the assault-weapon ban.

Pryor has spent his political life in those very kinds of finesses, first watching his dad do them and now performing them himself. He knows how they’re done.

Or used to be done.

He undoubtedly will say something privately to his base along these lines: “I opposed the assault-weapon ban because Republicans were going to filibuster it in the Senate and defeat it in the House. Faced with that reality, I voted the best way I could to make sure we would get at least some improvement in our gun laws.”

Translation: Do you prefer me on this tightrope or Tom Cotton and the Tea Party?

It used to be that a Democrat like Pryor could deflect the gun issue by publishing photographs of himself as a sportsman hunting fowl.

That’s what Pryor did in 2002. People leaving a big pre-election NRA rally in Springdale found photos like that on flyers that had been placed under their windshields while they worshipped inside with Wayne LaPierre.

But the right-wing has so devolved that the issue is no longer about hunting.

The contemporary gun zealot doesn’t care how much camouflage a politician lathers on his body or how many dead birds he carries out of a duck blind for a waiting photographer.

The contemporary gun zealot wants to carry any firearm of his choosing on his person at all times, regardless of what game is in season.

That’s because it’s always in season to be manipulated by the NRA and prepared for marauding Kenyan Muslim socialists coming to take your Constitution and your arsenal.






















Written by jbrummett

March 25th, 2013 at 8:25 am

And now for some basketball commentary


So House members and Senate members played a basketball game last night at the Stephens Center at UALR, this to raise money for Big Brothers.

A crowd of a few hundred assembled. That’s a few hundred more than the Trojans regularly draw.

The House won by eight or nine points, as everyone knew would happen because one of their members, Green Party-ist Fred Smith — well, he once was a Globetrotter and he is young enough that he can still dunk.

Game over.

Well, the House also had the better ex-Hog celebrity, sharp-shooter Pat Bradley, who can still do it in this context despite having added a mid-adult layer of flesh.

It was unclear who the Senate’s ex-Razorback ringer was. Some said Blake Eddins.

The Senate’s best player was Jeremy Hutchinson, the bald fireplug, who looks like a veteran YMCA-level combatant and whose pugnacious intensity on the court  — risking the health of himself, others and infrastructure — reminded me of the way Rep. John Burris legislates.

Burris did not play. He was spotted standing in an aisle enjoying a cup of what may have been an adult beverage.

Hutchinson was ripe for “gator” jokes. He had an unfortunate incident with a semi-estranged girlfriend in which she reportedly conked him with a gator head. So there was some gator-chop motioning going on. And there may have been a sign. And I may have tweeted that he looked like he’d played before, maybe for Florida.

A few random observations:

1. Full-court basketball is a serious physical test and I am most impressed with the near-50 senators, Jim Hendren and Paul Bookout, who played a lot of minutes — Hendren getting in the low post for several rebounds and layups. I complimented him as he departed with an ice pack on his knee.

2. The game started almost as if on a script. House Speaker Davy Carter, a runner who looks mildly athletic, was left open for a three and he drained it softly. Then he was not heard from again.

3. Republicans are better athletes than Democrats. Just a sad fact. Well, Bill Bradley was OK. But watching Sens. Robert Thompson and David Johnson try to negotiate a basketball court gave me a good sense of the tragedy that has happened to Democrats in Arkansas.



Written by jbrummett

March 20th, 2013 at 8:40 am

Animal bill update


On the animal rights bill, SB 13: I’ve been hearing today from the bill’s opponents that Sen. Gary Stubblefield was going to run the bill Wednesday in the Senate committee without any amendments despite my reporting that he told me last week he was having the bill rewritten.

So I’ve been on the phone with him and he tells me that he is excising the section requiring the consent of two veterinarians, one of them of the suspected abuser’s choosing, to impound animals.

And he tells me he is excising three lines to make sure a person would not be vulnerable to a misdemeanor charge for observing suspected animal abuse and alerting authorities. The bill never said that in the first place, he insisted, even as he acknowledged taking out three lines to make sure it doesn’t.

That leaves, he said, a bill saying animal rights abuse investigations require probable cause and can be conducted only by law enforcement agencies.

None of this is yet in writing, but in the bowels of the legislative staff surely overrun with last-minute bill filings and other nonsense.

So we wait to read the amendments.

At best the revised bill would propose a sad step backward by hamstringing animal protection groups. The issue is how big and tragic the backward step.

The issue is whether these amendments, if they do as Stubblefield describes, would merely trim around the offensive margins of an essentially bad bill.

I continue to believe that the complaints of Stubblefield and his supporters about abusive investigative practices by animal rights groups could be addressed without changing the law itself or weaking any codified animal protections.

Stubblefield says he plans to run the bill in committee Wednesday, after getting it amended on the Senate floor, presumably tomorrow.

He told me something really interesting might happen in the committee meeting, but then clammed up.


Written by jbrummett

March 11th, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Flip-flop contessa


So you’re reading along today in the Dem-Gaz sports section about a rare personal interview with Bret Bielema, the flip-flop man turning Fayetteville into Fayette-chill.

And all of a sudden the coach is getting quoted at length about cooking, and how, the other night, he cut strips of sirloin and stuffed them with feta cheese and marinated them in olive oil and garlic and then flash-fried them and his wife pronounced them “restaurant good.”

I predict that every Bubba in Arkansas is now going to try this and that rural volunteer fire departments need to be on the alert.

I also see cookbook gold. I’d be happy to work with the coach on that.


Written by jbrummett

February 26th, 2013 at 9:12 am

Posted in Arkansas Culture

Our next governor to lead NRA’s more-gun campaign


Good Lord.

The next governor of Arkansas is, in the meantime, going to lead the National Rifle Association’s campaign for more guns.

Yes, the NRA announced its post-Newtown position this morning. It’s that we need gun-toting security officers in all our schools.

It announced the appointment of Arkansas Gov.-in-Waiting Asa Hutchinson, former George W. Bush administration appointed cop type, to lead this task force.

Just let some Arkansas Democrat run against that in Bubbaville.

So to be clear: Instead of trying to restrict weapons designed specifically not for hunting or self-defense, but to do rapid-fire maximum human killing in close quarters to slaughter more kids in school before the first responders arrive, our next governor is going to lead the NRA in facilitating an even more pervasive gun culture — one in which pointless weaponry is answered, of course, with yet more weaponry.

It’s beautiful marketing that goes this way: Maybe our guns cause tragedy. So the only answer is more guns. Write us a check, please.


Written by jbrummett

December 21st, 2012 at 11:17 am

Behind the headlines with the blogging rascal


There is this program called Lifesquest. Among other things, it’s a day-long series of 50-minute classes meeting in fall, winter and spring terms and designed to keep seniors mentally active, though anyone may attend.

For nine years now I’ve been leading a class called “Behind the Headlines,” which ought to be called “Brummett and Politics.”

The new eight-week fall term begins Wednesday. My class is leadoff at 9 a.m.

I’m advised that enrollment has topped 300, but there is still time for you to sign up, pay a nominal fee to the organization (not to me) and behold my wit and wisdom and take whatever issue you might choose, since interactivity is encouraged, so long as it is mostly civil.

The best terms are these fall ones every four years that begin in mid-Septmeber and end the Wednesday after the presidential election. We tend to get cooking with Crisco during these occasions.

The classes meet at the 2nd Presbyterian Church out in Pleasant Valley.

That is how rumors got started among some right-wing religious evangelicals that, in a holy abomination, I was a Presbyterian Sunday School teacher.

Do not blame the fine Presbyterians for me. Lifequest is supported by a number of churches and other groups, but 2nd Presbyterian merely provides the sanctuary for my wholly secular preachifying. Any heresy is my own, and purely unintentional.



Written by jbrummett

September 17th, 2012 at 9:14 am

Worst states? Like I said


I irked people the other day by saying our worst states tend to have the best football teams and that our best states tend to have the worst football teams.

Actually, all in the world I was trying to do was offer comfort for my fellow Arkansawyers in the wholesale demise of credible college football in the state.

People asked dubiously and scornfully what I based my assertion of state quality on — when, that is, I proferred that Alabama and Louisiana and South Carolina were horrible states with good football but that Vermont and New Hampshire and Montana were good states with horrible football.

So, rather than just  let people stew, I will cite a study and ranking of state miserableness dribbled out today in mere snippets by Bloomberg Television News Service based on aggregated statistics in 13 areas including income inequality, poverty, health insurance coverage ratios, air quality, unemployment, under-employment and so forth.

The least-miserable five states, in order, were Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont and Massachusetts.

Notice that football stinks in each.

The bottom four states, meaning the most miserable, in order of misery: Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina.

Notice the SEC football hierarchy in state miserableness excepting, of course, Mississippi, which is rare in that it is both a miserable state and home to miserable college football.

The full rankings are not yet available.

Actually, the disclosed rankings did extend to the fifth most miserable state.

I shall not mention that one. I fear it would just give us hope for our woeful football team.



Written by jbrummett

September 14th, 2012 at 1:12 pm


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