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Smart talk, Nov. 13



‘I was a stranger'


Bishop Anthony B. Taylor, the new leader of the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, is going to be a bold face for Catholicism in Arkansas, just as a Times cover story by Mara Leveritt had indicated. Taylor was an outspoken advocate for immigrants during his previous assignment in Oklahoma and plans to do no less here.

His first pastoral letter as bishop, issued last week and available on the diocese website,, urges his flock to “open their hearts and minds” on the human rights of immigrants seeking better lives in the United States.

At a news conference after announcement of the 32-page letter, “I was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me: A Pastoral Letter on the Human Rights of Immigrants,” Taylor acknowledged differences within the Catholic community on the issue. He said he was moved to his public position in anticipation of legislative efforts in January to punish those who might help immigrants, knowingly or not. He fought such legislation in Oklahoma.


Seeing red from a blue precinct


Last Tuesday's election had its ups and downs for the Arkansas Times' editorial endorsements. Barack Obama was elected president. But our choice was beaten badly in Arkansas overall by Republican John McCain. Initiated Act 1, to place limits on who may adopt and foster children, won 57-43 approval despite our fervent opposition.

In the search for bright spots, we found them very close to home and in neighborhoods where many issues of the Times are read. (Not that we're claiming credit.) The Pulaski Heights Presbyterian Church, precinct for a number of Times staffers, including editor Max Brantley, voted 2,044 to 821 for Obama. It produced an even stronger vote against Act 1, 2,271 to 531 against, 81-19 percent. Overall, Pulaski County gave a strong vote for Obama and against Act 1. Pulaski, Washington and Searcy counties were the only three in the state to oppose Act 1.

When it came to healthy margins for the right candidate, it was hard to beat the black voting precincts' approval of Barack Obama, who'll be our first black president. St. John's Vision Center at 27th and Main went 915 to 9 for Obama. McCain didn't even muster 1 percent there. Similar numbers included Bullock Temple at 15th and Park (1,243-27) and Greater Archview Baptist (1,180 to 29).


Early tout for the Huckster


Before election polls had even closed last week, Mike Huckabee was getting a presidential tout from an influential commentator — columnist David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register. Yepsen wrote that Huckabee would have been a better vice presidential candidate because, among other reasons, he'd already been vetted, he was better versed on policy issues and he's not as grating on the campaign stump (speak for yourself, Yepsen). He wrote, too, that Huckabee could have kept Iowa in play for McCain. Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses, an important early presidential event that we think the political parties would do well to scrap in 2011. You can be sure Yepsen doesn't agree. He loves the attention for Iowa (and himself). He closed his column:

“Huckabee may get the last laugh. Already, there's talk Palin will be a candidate if McCain loses. Huckabee will be, too. And the first place grass-roots Republicans get to pass judgment on candidates? Iowa. See ya'll in 2011.”


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