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Head-hunting

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"WASHINGTON — After three months of study and funding from the National Rifle Association, former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas on Tuesday recommended that schoolteachers and administrators carry guns to defend against school attackers."

Seeing this item in the daily paper, we were reminded of a headline from the satirical on-line journal, The Onion: "Unstable Man Plots To Bring Guns To Schools."

The Onion head was on a piece about Wayne LaPierre of the NRA, and it was probably a little better fit there. Hutchinson is not as dizzy as LaPierre — who is? — but if you accept donations from the unstable, and champion their creepy causes, you're apt to be tarred with the same brush. Hutchinson is really not so much unstable as unscrupulous, mercenary and madly political. He's running for governor again and doubtless expecting a sizeable contribution from the firearms industry.

He's also counting on help from the large and well-heeled drug-war lobby. He recently joined seven other former heads of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in calling on the Justice Department to prevent Colorado and Washington from adopting regulations for the legal sale of marijuana, which those states' voters approved in November. Drug reformer Mason Tvert was moved to say, "It is not surprising that these ex-heads of the marijuana prohibition industry are taking action to maintain the policies that kept them and their colleagues in business for so long. Their desire to keep marijuana sales in an underground market favors the drug cartels, whereas the laws approved in Colorado and Washington favor legitimate, tax-paying businesses. Marijuana prohibition has failed, and voters are ready to move on and adopt a more sensible approach. It's time for these former marijuana prohibitionists to move on too ... The Cold War-like mentality by the former DEA heads is as outdated as the Cold War itself."

Asa is plenty cold, all right. When he was drug czar, he sicced federal agents on cancer victims who tried to relieve their suffering with marijuana. Even Dick Cheney was impressed. As congressman, he was an active member of the cabal that tried to remove from office a president the American people had elected. He'd give the people arms, but not pain relief, or self-government.

Not from The Onion, though it sounds like it could be, is the headline "Senate backs slash to jobless benefits." This one actually described an action of the Arkansas Senate. The popular headline verb "slash" never seemed more appropriately nasty. The only thing we'd do to improve the head is leave off the last word. "Slash the poor! Slash 'em good!" is a theme of the current legislative session.

All the hateful anti-female bills the legislature has approved might lead one to believe the lawmakers are totally absorbed in their war on women. Not so; they're waging class warfare too, and vigorously. ("Slash the poor! Slash 'em twice if they're women!") Tax breaks for the rich, benefit cuts for the poor, and let's make it harder for them to vote too. As we write, the legislature still has not decided whether to grant or deny health care to a quarter of a million of their fellow Arkansans. Most people — most ordinary people — would find this decision not so difficult.

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