With the smorgasbord of news items that have accumulated since the first of the year, what better way to nibble away at this cornucopia of juicy current events than to offer them up as tidbits for instant absorption, rather than feasting on an entree which would require greater mental digestion. So, bon appetit!
1. Mr. President, You Are Welcome Anytime - Contrary to recent comments by certain Republican operatives in Arkansas that President Obama has never come to our state because he would be snubbed by Democrats, I believe he would be welcomed with open arms. After all, there is a strong history of presidents visiting our state going back to both Roosevelts, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, both Bushes, Nixon, Carter and others, so why would the first African American elected to that high office want to avoid the state which in 1957 was the face of strident racism, but has overcome that stigma and begun to move progressively forward? Then, there is the obvious fact that fellow Democrat Bill Clinton, the only Arkansan ever elected president, has his Presidential Library and School of Public Service located right here in Little Rock, both wonderful venues, along with Little Rock Central High School, for public appearances. Finally, we have one of only three elected Democrat governors among the thirteen "deep south" states, so come on down, Mr. President. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the hospitable and supportive reception you would receive here.
2. Welcome to Little Rock, Veterans - Once again our city leaders have found it in their hearts to dissuade the establishment of a downtown facility for the homeless. Only in this case it is one that would provide needed services to those who risked their lives in battle to ensure our freedoms. Instead of accepting their congregating at the corner of Markham and Cross each day, as I again witnessed just last week, the Veterans Administration has opted to convert an old automotive dealership building on Main Street which has been vacant for years into a day resource center to minister to their needs. And what was City Hall's response? Of course, it was the same as several years ago when they stopped a homeless shelter from being established at 900 West Capitol. When will they learn?
3. Mitt Romney Meet Win Rockefeller - While Mitt Romney continues to plod away at seeking the Republican Party's nomination for president, he would be well advised to take a page from the history of one of our former governors of Arkansas, Winthrop Rockefeller, also a Republican, whose 100th birthday was posthumously celebrated this past Thursday evening at the Governor's Mansion here in Little Rock. Unlike the stiff and reticent Mr. Romney, "Win" never shunned coming from a very wealthy family and wore that fact well, but he also knew how to connect with the common man and do many good deeds to their benefit in the process. As highlighted in The Governor's Proclamation dated December 22, 2011, he created a viable two-party political system; made government more efficient; led the efforts to improve health care, education, race relations and cultural offerings; and set the example for Arkansans to look beyond themselves through philanthropy. In short, he was the primary force in setting our state on course for the progressive prosperity we enjoy today.
4. And the Killing Rolls Right Along - There have been five violent deaths in Little Rock in just the first three weeks of 2012, a year in which we could establish another record at this rate. What more is there to say?
5. The Other Side of General Lee - I was struck by the dedication of the entire Editorial Page of the January 19th edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to Gen. Robert E. Lee in recognition of his 206th birthday on January 19, 1807. As President Lincoln's first choice to lead the Union Army, which he declined out of devotion to his beloved Virginia, he championed morality on the battlefields of that awful civil war which ripped our country apart for four long years. Unlike his ruthless counterpart, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, whose famous march to the sea destroyed everything and everyone in his path, Gen. Lee fully recognized the difference between civilian and military targets and so commanded his troops to avoid "wanton destruction of private property", to "make war only upon armed men" and "not take vengeance for the wrongs our people have suffered". Too bad he is more often cast as an icon of the more deplorable faction of southern sentiment at the time.
6. That Keystone XL Pipeline is Just That, Nothing More - While many supporters of this project are railing against President Obama for not approving the construction of this pipeline, as they feel it would create jobs and lessen our dependency on foreign oil, Cornell University issued an independent assessment of this project last fall which, basically, refutes those arguments. First, that report concludes that it will create far fewer jobs in the U.S. than its proponents claim due to flawed data provided by the oil industry, and that, in fact, it may even "destroy more jobs than it creates". And, more importantly, this pipeline is just a means to transport toxic tar sand oil 1,700 miles from Alberta, Canada through the heartland of America to the ports of Houston and Port Arthur, Texas for refining. From there most of it will then be exported to foreign countries, rather than being consumed domestically, so there is no real energy benefit to America. Read it for yourself at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/01/20/the-truth-about-keystone-xl-few-jobs-no-energy-security-60041.
7. Gee Thanks, Boeing - When the Boeing company sought help from the State of Kansas to secure a $3.5 billion government contract to build 18 tankers for the Air Force at their Wichita facility, of course the economic development machine in that state revved up to answer the call. After all, they were promised that not only would the 2,100 jobs be preserved but an additional 7,500 jobs would be created. Who could say no to that? But a funny thing happened after Boeing was awarded that contract last February. In November Boeing decided that production costs were too high there and that they would parcel out the work among their other plants in the U.S. So, having enjoyed over $650 million in tax breaks from various government entities in Kansas over the past thirty years, they break their promise and say adios to Wichita. There is a profound lesson to be learned here by other states, counties and cities all across this nation who go out of their way to give away millions of tax dollars in hopes of attracting jobs, but get short-changed in the process. Be careful what you wish for!