It's a strange election day before us. A Republican primary — for 4th District Congress — is the hottest race on the ballot. A Democratic primary race for 1st District Congress has barely caused a ripple. Republican legislative primaries tend to offer a choice between hard-core rightwingers and truly bat**** reactionaries. Most interesting race on the Democratic side is the effort by billionaires (Walton, Stephens) and Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce cutouts (Dickson Flake) to beat Sen. Joyce Elliott in a race to represent a low-income, majority black district that Walton probably wouldn't walk through without a security cortege. Elliott's challenger has been AWOL in the fight to preserve homes targeted for demolition by the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce Technology Park. But what voters in that district don't know can't hurt them, right?
Oh, there's also the Republican-manufactured high interest in the vote for crank candidate John Wolfe in the Democratic presidential primary. It's a two-day embarrassment for President Obama if Wolfe scores well, says here. Arkansas is irrelevant however you slice it in this — and most — presidential elections.
The big news of the day might be the success met by paid canvassers for a batch of proposals to amend state law or constitution. Sign petitions for:
* THE ETHICS REFORM ACT: It would level the playing field between moneyed interests and the 99 percent at the Arkansas legislature.
* THE GAS SEVERANCE TAX: If we increase our severance tax to a rate comparable with other major gas-producing states we will be able to repair damage done to county roads by drilling rigs and otherwise insure a stream of revenue for highways. If higher severance taxes killed the drilling industry, drillers wouldn't be in high-tax states like Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and many more. The tax is a tiny marginal cost of the proposition. Gas companies have already spent $1 million to discourage democracy.
Who knows where these guys will stop? The image at top shows something you'll find on the industry-funded website attacking the tax petitions. It urges people to report, East German style, whenever you spot a dissident gathering gas tax signatures. Then what? Will a drive-by kneecapping squad be dispatched? A counter-protestor with a Don't Sign placard? Cameras to take photos for circulation? It's Big Brother scary. I plugged in my own address last night, but haven't looked out the window yet to see if I'm being staked out.
Message: Ve vill not tolerate dissent from the corporate line!!!
Canvassers may also be gathering signatures for some terrible casino proposals. The current semi-monopolies produced for Southland and Oaklawn casinos by legislative finagling are products of reprehensible self-interest politicking. But that's no excuse to approve something even worse.
CONFIDENTIAL TO SLIMEBALL: You do know, don't you, that the candidate you're supporting by attacking the birthplace of his opponent ALSO was not born in Arkansas? Full disclosure: I was not born in Arkansas either. Is 39 years punishment enough to claim residence?