No exit plan for jury duty

March 14, 2011 I consider myself to be a decent citizen. I vote. I recycle. I don’t litter. I yield to most pedestrian traffic.But when I received notice I was selected for jury service, I did what every red-blooded American does— I wondered if I should pretend it got lost in the mail.“Notice? What notice? I’ve never seen any notice. Maybe this notice you speak of, maybe it had a little …accident?”

Preparing for all-out war

March 14, 2011 One hundred and fifty years ago in Arkansas, the first secession convention drew to a conclusion as the rest of the nation was preparing for all-out war. As states were continuing to remove themselves from the United States, Charleston Harbor in South Carolina began to capture the curiosity of everyone as Federal troops remained in position in Fort Sumter.

Ledge update

March 14, 2011 LITTLE ROCK — Controversy over health care reform dominated the national headlines last year. The struggle has now moved to state capitals.In Arkansas, the Medicaid program is the battleground on which health care reform is being contested. The governor is seeking authority from the federal government to make what his administration terms “bold” and “fundamental” changes in the structure of Arkansas Medicaid. The goal is to prevent a severe budget crisis in the program.

A kink in the housing market

March 11, 2011 The February U.S. unemployment rate is out and it’s a welcomed 8.9 percent with 250,000 new jobs, according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics. The high mark of unemployment was reached in the fourth quarter of 2009 at 9.9 percent as we sunk into the Great Recession.

Truth about Muslims in America

March 11, 2011 Throughout our history, the United States has endured periodic outbreaks of fear and hysteria — from the Red Scare to the Yellow Peril. To that ignoble list, we can now add the “Muslim Menace.”Echoing “takeover” rhetoric from the past (communists in government, Asians in the workplace), demagogues and anti-Islam groups are using legitimate concerns about homegrown terrorism as an opportunity to stir fears of a stealth Muslim takeover of the U.S.

NFL vs. Wisconsin teachers

March 11, 2011 There are two high-profile labor disputes in the news these days. One involves Wisconsin’s public-school teachers; the other, the National Football League’s players. I mentioned this to a friend, who responded that the NFL dispute was more troublesome. The very idea of people making such high salaries possibly striking for more irked her. While I understand that sentiment, I believe that the dispute in Wisconsin is far more problematical. Here’s why:

St. Pat’s Day: Blarney and Friends

March 10, 2011 As a person with Irish ancestors, I feel compelled to tip my hat to Saint Patrick’s Day. As a person with Irish ancestors, I also feel duty-bound to mix in a wee bit of blarney.  Saint Patrick is famous for (a) bringing Christianity to pagan Ireland and (b) chasing the snakes out of Ireland. Unfortunately, the legend overlooks the fact that there were NEVER ANY SNAKES ON THE ISLAND TO BEGIN WITH!

Arkansas secession convention

March 10, 2011 One hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansas was entering its second week of debate in the first secession convention in Little Rock. The convention began on March 4, 1861 — the same day Lincoln was inaugurated. As the second week of debates began on March 11, 1861, the Confederate Constitution was adopted in Montgomery, Ala. The eloquent oratory of both the unionists and secessionists in Little Rock was apparent.

Fame, fortune somehow elude me

March 10, 2011 Like most Americans, I would like to be famous. Unlike most Americans, I have managed to sniff around the edges of celebrity achieving a fair amount of notoriety for a nobody, but not as much as, let’s say, a minor cast member on one of the less popular reality shows.I’m not nearly as famous as one of the friends of one of the Real Housewives of pretty much anywhere. And, while I’m sure I have way more talent than any of them, the staff at the Kardashian sisters’ clothing stores gets more recognition than I do.

Why politicians overreach

March 10, 2011 Having dodged a government shutdown for the moment, Congress is now embroiled in a burning debate over cutting the federal budget. The House has passed a bill imposing far-reaching cuts of $61 billion — dramatically slashing everything from education and housing to environmental regulations and public broadcasting. This is “the will of the people,” House Speaker John Boehner argues, citing last November’s elections.