n The primary elections are May 18 and early voting begins Monday, May 3. Here are some of the Arkansas Times' choices, all of them candidates in the Democratic primary:
CIRCUIT JUDGE TIM FOX for the Arkansas Supreme Court, Position 6. He's ruled wisely in tough cases, including his finding that a state rule prohibiting homosexuals from serving as foster parents was unconstitutional. His chief opponent, Court of Appeals Judge Karen Baker, seeks votes from the Religious Right by slyly criticizing this decision.
WENDELL GRIFFEN for circuit judge in District 6, Division 5, Subdistrict 6.1. The former Court of Appeals judge has an admirable public record, as well as the gravitas and integrity to restore respect to this judgeship, whose previous occupant was removed by the state Supreme Court for violations of judicial ethics.
JAY BARTH for the state Senate, District 34. The college professor would bring intellect and empathy to the Senate. The record of his opponent does not inspire trust.
REP. RICHARD CARROLL for re-election to the House of Representatives from District 39. A former member of the Green Party, Carroll is a progressive and independent legislator. His opponent, Sen. Tracy Steele, has been often allied with the special-interest groups who seek to control the legislature, and too often succeed.
More to come.
n The author of what he hopes will be a best-selling book was in town recently advancing his odd notion that the poisonous political discourse of today began with the investigation and 1998 impeachment of Bill Clinton, suggesting that Clinton was as much at fault as his persecutors. We've noted earlier that the political "total war" began at least as far back as Ronald Reagan's decision to appoint only reactionary Republicans to federal judgeships. The "Doonesbury" comic strip Sunday reminded us of another milestone preceding Monica Lewinsky and the Clinton impeachment. This was Newt Gingrich's infamous 1994 memo instructing Republican candidates to lash their Democratic opponents with words like "sick, disgrace, corrupt, cheat, decay, pathetic, radical, traitor, greed, anti-family," etc. That memo, Doonesbury pointed out, was "the Magna Carta of attack politics. It codified the toxic rhetoric that came to define an era." Another pre-impeachment landmark was "The Clinton Chronicles," a video that accused Clinton of a couple of dozen murders, among other offenses. It was shown and sold widely, with the acquiescence of the mainstream media. Not since Franklin Roosevelt was president, maybe not since Lincoln, had such a savage attack on a sitting president been so indulged. The impeachment of Bill Clinton was not the beginning of political terrorism, but an example of its protracted practice.