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"I think people in Arkansas are ready for me to fight back. We know that these are outside groups, that it's the mayor of New York City that's paying for people to come here to be part of this. We know that; we know how they play the game. The truth is I'm here to represent Arkansas and I'm not going to kowtow to the mayor of New York City regardless of what he wants or how much money he spends here." —Sen. Mark Pryor, responding to television advertisements criticizing his vote against gun-control legislation.

The senator sounds like Gov. Orval Faubus in the '50s, when he was resisting racial integration. No matter the cost to himself politically, Faubus promised, he would not kowtow to the NAACP and the Urban League, he would stand fast against the forces of Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole, he would not flee even a virtual army (well, nine) of black schoolchildren. He kept his promise, and — who could have guessed it? — did not suffer politically, but was elected again and again.

Pryor is up for re-election next year, and hoping his defiance of the mayor of New York will stand him in good stead. (He got in a gig at President Obama, for good measure. What might Faubus have accomplished if he'd had a black president to dare?) Pryor might want to go further and threaten to punch Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the nose if the mayor shows up in Little Rock, as a mayor of Chicago once threatened to do to the king of England if he came to town.

For all the senator's courage, we know someone he will not pick a fight with, and will kowtow to tirelessly, and that is the NRA. There's valor, and there's discretion.

A person could file his income tax return with less time and trouble than will be required to vote under Arkansas's new voter-restriction law. Rules proposed by Secretary of State Mark Martin to implement the law "define proof of identity as a document or identification card that shows the person's name and photograph, has an expiration date within the last four years and is issued by the U.S., the state or an Arkansas higher-education institution. People seeking an identification card through their county clerk would submit an application that includes information about their residence, height, weight, eye color and hair color. The application includes an oath swearing that the applicant does not have any of the allowable identification. It must be signed in front of a notary ... " The rules go on and on.

Martin is a yellow-dog Republican, as are the legislators who enacted the new law, which is intended to discourage voting by people who might vote Democratic — the poor, the elderly, minorities. Republicans believe that voting booths, like country clubs, should be exclusive.


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