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Cult cowboy

Cult cowboy

September 27, 2018

Vol 45 • No 4

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Songs a-Blaze

Foley was immortalized by Lucinda Williams.

Come to the R&B Cook Off

Dance to the music while you eat plenty of pork on Oct. 7 in Argenta.

Blaze Foley: Never a star, always a legend

'Blaze' film makes a name for a Malvern songwriting legend — and now it's all different for Ben Dickey, the Little Rock musician who portrays him onscreen.

Who was Blaze Foley?

"I don't want to be a star, I wants to be a legend!" — from the film "Blaze."

Banking for all in Arkansas

With a new effort to reach the unbanked, Southern Bancorp CEO Darrin Williams' Big Idea comes to life.

Outrage roundup

So many provocations, so little space.

Ira's: a downtown diamond in Little Rock

Fingers crossed that it's here to stay.

Term limits ballot hopes look grim

Terrible Tom Cotton and ethics charges filed against state justices.

Laverne Cox comes to Fayetteville

And much more.


The Observer, Junior and our young nephew from down in Lower Arkansas got down to Hot Springs for SpaCon over the weekend, the multiday geekfest that's one of the bigger pop culture conventions in the state.

Casual corruption

To date, I'd remained relatively unemotional about the overlapping corruption scandals that have permeated the Arkansas legislature and have slowly been brought to light by prosecutors.

Kevin Gordon plays Potluck and Poison Ivy

Also, Mark Edgar Stuart comes to South on Main.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Soothe Your Burning Hole edition

Play at home, while loading your baked potato!

BS Bob Ballinger

Disingenuous is a handy word for political discussions. Look it up or, better still, for a perfect definition, read last Sunday's op-ed article in the statewide newspaper written supposedly by state Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Berryville), a Northwest Arkansas Republican who is hoping for elevation to the Senate in November.

French Hill in the bunker

In "Fahrenheit 11-9," Moore can't spray everything

Too many things burning.

William Blackart talks border collies, love affairs with vampires

And making his 'Chinese Democracy.'

The 'magick' of Damien Echols

More than the top half of the front of the Thursday Styles section in the print New York Times and a full page inside is filled with an account of Damien Echols, now holding forth to audiences on "magick."

Local takes on Kavanaugh: Sympathy for women, mush and an imbecile

My quick scan of overnight Twitter turned up three posts on the coming hearing today for Brett Kavanaugh from local sources. See if you differ from the headline assessments.

Medical clinic planned in former Kmart on Rodney Parham

A $35 million medical facility is planned for the former Kmart at 10901 Rodney Parham Road.

Thursday's open line and the Senate testimony in review

The open line and the daily news roundup, mostly about Christine Blasey Ford.

Kavanaugh hearing UPDATE: Ford wins the morning. Kavanaugh comes out firing.

This is among the many links by which you may watch the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Christine Blasey Ford's sworn statement that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school. She is unsurprisingly emotional. Watch and see what you think.

State prepared to evaluate marijuana dispensary applications

The state announced today it has an agreement with a consultant to review applications to dispense medical marijuana.

Patrick Kennedy headlines Arkansas rally against state mental health cuts

Changes in funding and regulation have led to an 11 percent across-the-board cut for behavioral health providers, according to Kramer, threatening the survival of many. But DHS said the number of providers in the state has only grown over the past year.

Trump administration predicts hell on earth — sharp rise in global temperatures

Climate news from the Trump administration and it isn't good.

Rep. Steve Womack's son arrested on drug, gun charges

KARK reports the arrest of Republican Rep. Steve Womack's son on drug and gun charges.

Facebook reveals huge security breach

Facebook announced today that a security breach had allowed access to information of some 50 million accounts.

No Small Talk, Ep. 29: A Steinway at the ASO

This week on No Small Talk: news of an underwater concert as part of a series called "The Water About Us," and a conversation with Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Music Director/Conductor Philip Mann, longtime ASO Principal Keyboardist Carl Anthony and Steinway technician/gallery owner Stephen Wirges about the ASO's acquisition of a new Steinway piano.

If you can't laugh ...

We may face a lifetime of horror from the Supreme Court, but at least we have Twitter mashups.

UPDATE: The Kavanaugh nomination and male privilege moves ahead. But wait...

UPDATE: Sen. Jeff Flake, in advance of committee vote, says he'd like to see a delay in full Senate confirmation vote for an FBI investigation of new allegations. With Donald Trump cheerleading the angry denials of an accused sexual predator, Republicans in Congress seem prepared to speed Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to a speedy vote. There are many hitches:

Friday, thank goodness. Open line and news video

Here's an open line. Also, today's news roundup with lots on the Brett Kavanaugh circus.

The Outrage Edition

Arkansas Times editors Max Brantley and Lindsey Millar talk about the Kavanaugh hearing and local reaction, the status of ballot issues and legislative corruption on the latest "Week in Review Podcast."

Mark Martin off to Taiwan

Secretary of State Mark Martin is set for  another international junket, this one to Taiwan, flying business class courtesy of the Taiwanese government.

Why women don't report rapes: Jonesboro cop edition

NEA Report has a stunner for these  times:: Jonesboro Police Officer John Shipman said on social media that 80 percent of rape reports are false, a figure he produced in defense of his assertion that Brett Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford is "lying." Official reaction has been appropriate except for one quibble: How is he still employed as a law officer?

Riot reported at youth detention center in Mansfield

KFSM reports a riot last night at the Mansfield Juvenile Treatment Center left injuries among both staff and youths.

As Hillcrest turns: Another bakery in the works

City Board agenda this week includes a proposal for another bakery in Hillcrest.

Brett Kavanaugh's record raised questions long before the women came along

The FBI has begun reviewing allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and in a week will produce what is likely to be inconclusive additional information on the allegations. For that reason,  It's worth looking at (New York Times) how Kavanaugh has been a less than credible witness frequently, including but not limited to the recent dissembling about his high school and college years.

The moral victory open line

The open line after another moral victory for Razorback football.

Pine Bluff getting worked up about a casino

The proposal to expand casino gambling isn't yet assured a spot on the November ballot because of pending lawsuits, but lots of talk is underway in Pine Bluff.

Exposed: The secret plan to start privatizing prisons

Thanks to Sen. Joyce Elliott for exposing a clandestine plan to begin privatizing Arkansas prisons without going through the legislature. Look out for the politics in this one.

Another prison death, this one at Ouachita Unit

The Correction Department reported the death of Antonio Rauls, an inmate at the Ouachita River Correctional Unit, who was found unresponsive in his assigned cell and didn't respond to emergency treatment.

Tom Cotton's curious idea of victimhood

There U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton goes again, an angry, entitled white man suitable for the times.

The open line and the latest callout of Kavanaugh

Here’s looking at you Brett. The open line.

Arizona judge blocks Israel boycott law. Arkansas, anyone?

Here from the Washington Post is a report on a federal judge's ruling blocking an Arizona law that makes any business contracting with the state pledge that it is not engaged in boycott activity against Israel. Arkansas has just such a law and the Arkansas ACLU has said it would be happy to sue here should a willing plaintiff emerge.

Judges are non-partisan? Not David Sterling

A note on the heavy influence of partisan politics in David Sterling's race to unseat Associate Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson, a position that is officially non-partisan. The race is anything but. He's running as a Republican, overtly and frequently.

When they say it's not about sex, they may have a point on Brett Kavanaugh

Sex and drinking allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his obvious dissembling about these matters are important. But Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post (a conservative, by the way) gets at the heart of why he should not be on the court.

A positive plug for Arkansas on minimum wage campaign

A break from the drumbeat of national criticism of Arkansas government's rigged Medicaid work rule to slash spending on health coverage for the working poor: Mother Jones highlights the current campaign to increase the minimum wage here.

U.S. Supreme Court denies review of Suhl conviction

The United States Supreme Court today denied a request to hear an appeal of Ted Suhl's conviction for bribing a state Human Services Department official to help his behavioral treatment business.

Blue Hog reveals Land Commissioner John Thurston's big spending on a bass boat

Blue Hog Report poses a good question for Land Commissioner John Thurston, who hopes to move up to secretary of state in the November election: Why did you stick taxpayers with the cost of a bass boat?

George Hopkins retiring at Arkansas Teacher Retirement System

George Hopkins, director of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, told the board he was retiring at the end of the year, an announcement that reportedly draw applause from some members.

Monday: Open line and news roundup

The open line and the video roundup of news and comment from a taxpayer-funded bassboat to Bodacious Brett Kavanaugh.

Better not enough for Razorbacks

Jared Henderson on criminal justice: Start with 20 percent cut in prison population

Jared Henderson, the Democratic candidate for governor against incumbent Republican Asa Hutchinson, released ideas on criminal justice today. It leads with a 20 percent reduction in the prison population over eight years, but broadly ranges over issues from treatment of women and juveniles to better recordkeeping.

UAMS, Children's Hospital reach new working agreement UPDATE

Arkansas Children's Hospital and UAMS announced this afternoon a new working agreement effective Oct. 1 to continue a long relationship by which, among other things, doctors serve at both Children's and on the pediatrics faculty at the med school. The news release doesn't reflect the drama that I've been told attended renewal of this deal, which was to expire Sunday.

Amazon, unaware of Arkansas corporate disapproval, ups its minimum wage to $15 an hour

Amazon has announced it's raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour for all of its U.S. employees. They apparently aren't in receipt of the Arkansas chamber of commerce talking points about the damaging economic impact of a minimum wage higher than $8.50.

A candidate with a voting plan vs. a bass boat buyer: The choice in the race for secretary of state UPDATE

State Land Commissioner John Thurston refused to respond to my questions yesterday about the report on his spending of almost $30,000 on a boat equipped for bass fishing and little used for its alleged purpose, searching for debris in Arkansas waterways (a job not given by statute or custom to his office, which manages tax delinquent land sales). But his Democratic opponent for secretary of state, Susan Inman, is working on the angle.

Atlas Bar coming soon to SOMA

Atlas Bar is coming sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas to South on Main. Proprietor Tony Poe plans to use his love for travel and his family’s adventurous spirit to help “bring the world to Little Rock and spark and imagination for travel,” he said. At 1224 Main St., Atlas Bar will be a cozy, intimate space that Poe says he hopes will invite conversation.

State tax revenue continues to run strong

The monthly report on state tax take continues to show strong growth, with gross revenue in September 8.4 percent more than the same month last year and more than 2 percent ahead of forecast.

New episode of Rock the Culture podcast: 'Real Recognize Real'

In this week’s episode, Antwan and Charles provide perspective and conversation on Issue 2, the voter ID ballot initiative, the rules in the event there is a run-off in Little Rock’s Mayoral Race, and West Central Community Center’s tutoring program.

AETN sets debate lineup

AETN has announced the schedule for debates by candidates for four statewide and four congressional races. This is a rare opportunity to see all the candidates together in each race because most incumbents (all Republicans) have been avoiding appearances with opponents.

Ousted Preferred Family executive complains about coverage of scandal

Bontiea Goss, the former chief operating officer of scandal-ridden Preferred Family Healthcare, has written a letter to the editor of a Springfield, Mo., publication complaining that coverage of the case has resulted in work by the agency being "clouded by sensational headlines that leave enormous gaps, which can only be filled by knowing the full narrative behind our commitment to those we served and employed."

James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt coming to Verizon Arena in February

James Taylor and his All-Star Band, along with with special guest Bonnie Raitt and her band, are coming to Verizon Arena on Friday, February 15, 2019. Both artists have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and with a combined 15 Grammy awards between them, the show is sure to be a big draw.

Atheists challenge Jason Rapert on social media blocking policy UPDATE

American Atheists have sued Republican Sen. Jason Rapert in federal court for his practice of blocking critics from his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Chicot Elementary struck by bullets this morning. No injuries

Fox 16 reports that gunshots struck Chicot Elementary this morning, but no one was hurt.

Hillary Clinton laughs at Kavanaugh conspiracy theory

Sure, HIllary Clinton says, the Clintons were gunning for Brett Kavanaugh back when he was in high school. She laughs at the notion his confirmation problems are a result of Clinton revenge. From Talking Points Memo.

Tuesday: Open line and the news roundup

Here's the open line. And a mishmash of news and comment from bass boats to Jason Rapert and bar brawling, beer swilling Brett Kavanaugh.

State government transformation day expected Wednesday UPDATE

Look for Gov. Asa Hutchinson to begin rolling out his state government transformation plan Wednesday afternoon, though I'd expect more generalities than specifics.

Jonesboro cop suspended for rape comments on Facebook

NEA Report says that Jonesboro Police Officer John Shipman has been suspended for 30 days without pay for commenting on Facebook that 80 percent of rape reports are false. He also said Christine Blasey Ford was lying in her allegations about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Update: Children's behavioral health provider Ascent to close all Arkansas facilities

Ascent Children's Health Services, which provides behavioral health and early childhood development services at ten sites across Arkansas, will close all facilities in the state by the end of November.

Former House speakers Wills and Stovall join in lobbying firm

Deborah Hale of the Democrat-Gazette reported this morning that former House Speaker Bill Stovall was leaving his job as head of the lobbying organization for two-year colleges. Now we know his new job — joining a lobbying firm with another former speaker, Robbie Wills of Conway, and former Rep. Rick Green.

Democrats put TV money into Clarke Tucker's campaign against French Hill

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has committed around a quarter of a million dollars to a TV ad buy this month in support of Clarke Tucker's challenge of Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill.

Donald Trump: Is he us?

The mid-term elections and then 2020 will tell us a lot about the United States: Does the country more reflect Donald Trump or alternative values? Evidence yesterday, from Trump's mocking of a sexual assault victim, to his defense of a dishonest cad of a Supreme Court nominee to a detailed exposure of his long-known dishonesty about finances, isn't encouraging.

Hutchinson announces reorganization plan

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced today he has a plan that would reduce the number of cabinet-level state agencies from 42 to 15.

Shawn Womack judgeship campaign spurs return fire UPDATE

A blast has been fired at Supreme Court Justice Shawn Womack's effort to influence judgeship allocations in the state, specifically his insistence that new judgeships should be created only by lopping judges off some other districts.

Susan Inman rips John Thurston for boat purchase

Susan Inman, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, held a news conference near Land Commissioner John Thurston's office to rip him for spending almost $30,000 on a boat equipped for bass fishing.

Wednesday: The news roundup and open line

Over the hump. Open line. News roundup.

Big Brother is texting you

If you own a U.S. mobile phone, you likely received a test alert in the new presidential alert warning system.  Why do I think nothing good can come of system by which Donald Trump could send out messages to 200 million phones at once?

2,400 law professors, including six from Arkansas, speak out against Kavanaugh

New on New York Times op-ed: 1,200 law professors and counting have signed a letter to Congress saying Brett Kavanaugh shouldn't be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Reason: judicial temperament, or lack thereof. Several Arkansas law teachers signed.

Republicans push to confirm Kavanaugh Saturday

The FBI "investigation" is done and the White House and Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seem intent on a schedule that will confirm the dishonest, nakedly partisan Brett Kavanaugh to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court by Friday.  The

Preferred Family Healthcare transition to new operator continues

The transfer of business and employees of Preferred Family Healthcare in Arkansas continues, according to a memo distributed to employees yesterday.

Speaking of lies: Republicans being held to account on pre-existing conditions

Health care is emerging as a potent issue in congressional races around the country, particularly for Republicans who voted to gut the Affordable Care Act and effectively eliminate coverage for pre-existing illnesses. Think Republican Rep. French Hill of Little Rock.

Thank God for Mississippi and Alaska; Arkansas ranks low in economic survey

Business Insider has come up with an index to rank the economies of the states and the result puts Arkansas at 49, better than only Mississippi and Alaska.

State releases report on college work and pay results

The state Workforce Services Departmen ttoday  released what's known as the "economic security"report — a compilation of employment rates and earnings for graduates of the various degree and certificate programs at state colleges and universities.

Thursday's open line and the news roundup

The open line and news roundup.

New episode of Out in Arkansas podcast: 'T & A with Guest Jacob Ittycheria Of AIDS/Life Cycle'

Out in Arkansas’s hosts Traci Berry and Angie Bowen are joined by Jacob Ittycheria of AIDS/Life Cycle out of California.

Womack citation completes ethics finding against all members of Arkansas Supreme Court. He goes to war with another judge. UPDATE

The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission announced today that an investigative panel had made the same adverse ethical findings against Supreme Court Justice Shawn Womack it had earlier issued against the six other justices.