POLITICAL RHET-ORIC. The legislative session opened Monday. All hands, led by the governor, promised to help our health, higher education, highways, schools, pets, prisons and psoriasis. But nobody would say precisely how much they hoped to invest in each of these worthy items or where all the money would come from.
ALLTEL. The Little Rock telecom company acquired Western Wireless in a $6 billion deal that will add more than a million wireless customers and huge new western territory.
HIV/AIDS PATIENTS. The state Health Department found an alternate source of money to make up for a shortage in the fund to pay for drugs for poor people with HIV.
CAROLYN STALEY. The former county clerk was reimbursed by a too-kind County Judge Buddy Villines for her legal expenses while fighting her removal from office for incompetence.
BASKETBALL. The male Hogs won their SEC opener against Ole Miss, the first SEC opener win for Coach Stan Heath in his three years at the UA. A loss to Florida on the road followed, but, hey, a 13-2 record at press time wasn’t bad.
DAVID O. DODD. The Footnote of the Confederacy is still dead but he’s still getting huge 1B forget-hell! news play in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Don’t expect similar for Abe Lincoln on his birthday.

LT. GOV. WIN ROCKEFELLER. Pres. Bush chose Michael Chertoff to be the next secretary of homeland security, passing over Asa Hutchinson again. That means we can expect a Hutchinson candidacy for Arkansas governor in 2006, setting up a big Republican primary battle between Hutchinson and Rockefeller.
SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN. Is she going to protect Social Security as we know it or is she not? Day to day, it was hard to tell. Transfer of contributions to private accounts is a bad idea, she said, but still she wanted to talk about it with Republican advoca