Democrats' last stand in Dixie; and other notes from afar | Arkansas Blog

Democrats' last stand in Dixie; and other notes from afar

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NO TRACTION: SUVs were stranded in place for a long period this weekend on a hill near Brian Chilson's home when they couldn't top a steep hill. Going down was no picnic for others. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • NO TRACTION: SUVs were stranded in place for a long period this weekend on a hill near Brian Chilson's home when they couldn't top a steep hill. Going down was no picnic for others.

I'm nearing home on my long journey (near Cozumel at the moment), but thought I'd check in.

* THE ICE HANGOVER: I'm still seeing warnings of late office openings and possible detours on CAT bus routes, though the buses are supposed to return to normal schedules this morning. The Brian Chilson photo is evidence enough of the need for continuing caution and a reminder that SUVs can't defeat ice. 

* SPEAKING OF ICE AND ELECTIONS: Early voting will be held today for the Tuesday special election on pledging hamburger tax revenue to an expansion of Robinson Auditorium (a worthy project). But the start will be delayed until 10 a.m. and run until 5 p.m. because of the delayed start of county office openings.

* MARK PRYOR'S CHALLENGE: The New York Times is the latest with a look at the effort of three Southern Democrats to prevent a Republican sweet of U.S. Senate seats in Dixie.  Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu and Kay Hagan are the remaining Dems. You've heard it before — the general hostility of Southern white voters and Obamacare, Obama, Obamacare, Obama. Re Arkansas:

Arkansas was once quite different from other Southern states, less race-obsessed and with a streak of mountain populism that kept it solidly Democratic well into this century. The election of Mr. Obama changed that practically overnight, costing Democrats the seat of Senator Blanche Lincoln in 2010 and now imperiling Mr. Pryor, a classic Arkansas Blue Dog.

* SPEAKING OF OBAMACARE: There IS another side to the Affordable Care Act story. It's not all massive resistance, signup woest and unforeseen complications. There are millions being helped. Again from the New York Times:

But for all those problems, people are enrolling. More than 243,000 have signed up for private coverage through the exchanges, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and more than 567,000 have been determined eligible for Medicaid since the exchanges opened on Oct. 1. For many, particularly people with existing medical conditions like Mr. Acosta, the coverage is proving less expensive than what they had. Many others are getting health insurance for the first time in years, giving them alternatives to seeking care through free clinics or emergency rooms — or putting it off indefinitely.

Not all who need health insurance are happy with their new options. Many have complained that the prices are too high, especially if they earn too much to qualify for federal subsidies. And many will have a limited choice of doctors and hospitals under the new exchange plans, which have “narrow networks” to hold down premiums.

But Mr. Acosta, like the people in the following profiles, says the health care law has given him a cautious sense of hope.

A place called Hope does not appear in the GOP lexicon.


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