Coming to a theater near you
Apparently unconvinced by Arkansans' complaints about ubiquitous political advertising, the Cotton campaign produced a 14-minute video hagiography of Cotton that will air not just on television in major markets in the state, but also in a shorter version during movie theatre previews. The film, "Dardanelle Boys Always Come Home" (original title: "Dardanelle Boys Often Come Home From Washington When They Need Residency to Run for Congress"), often plays like a scene-by-scene ripoff of the first season of "Friday Night Lights." Clear eyes, full hearts, can snooze.
The proposed state minimum wage hike this week overcame a legal challenge from millionaire Jackson T. Stephens Jr. and will be on the ballot next Tuesday. The raise, which would eventually boost the minimum wage in Arkansas from $6.25 to $8.50, is so popular that even Republicans who clearly oppose the thing have had to flip-flop or lie and say they support it (see statewide GOP candidates Asa Hutchinson and Tom Cotton, in full triangulating mode). Ninth-generation Arkansan J. French Hill, a millionaire banker in a tight battle for the 2nd U.S. District Congressional seat, so hates the very concept of a minimum wage that he just hasn't managed to bring himself to come out in support of the state wage hike. Hill gave a long exposition on the evils of minimum wage hikes of any kind during his AETN debate with Democratic opponent Pat Hays. Hill explained, "If a family is truly in poverty, the minimum wage is not any answer." So does Hill have the guts to be honest about his opposition to the state minimum wage ballot initiative? Not quite. Pressed by questioners at a rally this week with Mike Huckabee that drew dozens in Conway, Hill claimed he was still "studying" the issue. What, one wonders, is left to study? Perhaps taking a break from the campaign trail, Hill has been retiring to the Country Club of Little Rock (membership fee $46,000 per year, more than three times what a full-time worker would make on the current Arkansas minimum wage) for deep reflection. What might change the mind of a man on record as opposing any sort of minimum wage at all? It's now officially on the ballot. As the hymn suggests, once to every man and banker comes a moment to decide.
The Democrat-Gazette still fond of white supremacists, in spite of themselves
The descent into self-parody in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's endorsement of Tom Cotton was as inevitable as the endorsement itself. Flowery hero-worship? Check. Mattie Ross? Check. Purple prose love letters to bygone American greatness? But of course. But it wouldn't be a true D-G editorial classic without a few fond words for John C. Calhoun, the white supremacist firebrand who argued that slavery was a "positive good" and who stands by any measure as one of the great villains of 19th century America. The D-G's premise is that Cotton's unbending principles remind the paper of Calhoun, and this is supposed to be a good thing (seems like Cotton's been doing plenty of bending on the minimum wage, the private option, and slippery dodges on various votes he took in Congress, but never mind that for now). Here's the D-G, waxing nostalgic for the good ol' bad old days when "giants roamed the earth": "[Calhoun] defended his principles, however dubious, with a coherence and courage that even now inspire admiration despite ourselves." One wonders, considering the "principles" in question, who might be included in "ourselves" and who might not.
Perhaps those who admire Calhoun ought to have the guts to offer up a few examples. A few samples from Calhoun, who served as vice president, Cabinet member, and congressman from South Carolina: "[T]o destroy [slavery] would be to destroy us as a people." Or: "I hold [slavery] to be a good ... the black race of Central Africa ... came among us in a low, degraded, and savage condition, and in the course of a few generations it has grown up under the fostering care of our institutions, reviled as they have been, to its present comparatively civilized condition. This, with the rapid increase of numbers, is conclusive proof of the general happiness of the race, in spite of all the exaggerated tales to the contrary." Or: "Slavery is indispensable to a republican government." I mean, the coherence! The courage!
Arkansans should vote for Cotton or vote for Sen. Mark Pryor as they see fit. But all of us should be embarrassed of our daily paper's Confederate nostalgia gussied up as true grit. In fact, if Cotton really wants to be a profile in courage, he could say thanks but no thanks to an endorsement grounded in such a rotten conceit.
The prodigal gun
"You stood by my in some of the toughest battles ever fought by NRA ... America's gun owners owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude."
—From a letter by Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association nominating Pat Hays for membership in the NRA's Golden Eagles and the NRA National Patriot's Medal. Hays distributed the letter after Republicans whined that Hays was being misleading by asserting in an ad the facts that he owns guns and has been a long-time NRA member. Hays had gotten an F grade from the NRA, so he shouldn't be allowed to be in commercials with guns, or something. Ninth-generation NRA member J. French Hill said Hays has been "ex-communicated" from the NRA. Who knew the NRA had a pope who could revoke memberships? St. LaPierre better check himself. Who knows how many praiseful form letters went out to infidels?
Dirty telephone tricks
Reports have poured in across the state of robocalls falsely telling registered voters they're not registered to vote. The calls state that they are paid for by the Tom Cotton campaign. Sounds an awful lot like voter discouragement. The Cotton camp's excuse was bad data on registered voters.