Bill Smith, ARRA Editor: With the presidential election upon us, many people are also focused on the economy. However, we know from history that we will be able to correct our economic problem even if it takes longer than our American tendency to want instant solutions for everything. However, because of the economic crisis, many voters are ignoring the most significant issue that our next president is directly responsible to address. That issue is the very real global threat to America's very survival. Since confronting this threat every day is not part of our personal daily routine and responsibilities (until it is too late), we tend to be myopic and look at the "me things."
If inexperienced or burdened down with domestic and economic cares, voters may not comprehend or may even forget the bigger picture -- surviving the very "real" foreign enemies that literally hate our culture, democracy, traditions, freedoms, religions, materialism, and way of living. In fact, they hate us (i.e., you). In our daily bickering over small things, we tend to ignore the big dangers because we can we do nothing about them individually.
To put "just one" of the threats into perspective, consider an article in the October issue of Imprimis published by Hillsdale College that addresses Iran. The article was adapted from a speech by Michael Ledeen. Michael Ledeen is the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributing editor at National Review Online. Previously, he served in the White House as a national security advisor and in the Departments of Defense and State. He is author of more than 20 books, including The Iranian Time Bomb. His articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the American Spectator, International Economy, Commentary, and the Washington Times.
The article is too long to quote here so I encourage you to visit and the read the article online. However, below are Lendeen's closing words which highlight just one of the many countries whose government leaders hate America and who wish our demise as the principle leader of the 'free world":
"The bottom line is that Iran is our principal enemy in the Middle East, and perhaps in the entire world. It is also a terribly vulnerable regime, and it knows that—which is why it makes up stories about airplanes and missiles that it doesn’t have. As for the question of nuclear weapons, it seems hard to imagine that Iran does not already have them. Iranians are not stupid, and they have been at this for a minimum of 20 years in a world where almost every major component needed for a nuclear weapon—not to mention old nuclear weapons—are for sale. A lot of these components are for sale nearby in Pakistan. And if the Iranians do have a weapon, it is impossible to imagine that, at a moment of crisis, they will not use it. The point is, we have an implacable enemy which has no intention of negotiating a settlement with us. They want us dead or dominated, just as our enemies did in the 1930s and ’40s. You can’t make deals with a regime like that.So, who is best to challenge Iran and other enemies of our Nation - Obama or McCain? The most critical and therefore, important issue is not "change" but survival -- how will America continue to physically exist as a country and a democracy with guaranteed individual freedoms and rights. Who will be the best president to protect us from our foreign enemies (even while we continue our internal domestic bickering over almost everything)?
Our choices with regard to Iran are to challenge them directly and win this war now, to do so only after they kill a lot more of us in some kind of attack, or to surrender. There is no painless way out, and the longer we wait, the greater the pain is going to be."
Do we pick Obama - a younger inexperienced (i.e., non-experienced) smooth talking candidate who is an anti-traditional family values advocate and unfortunately already has a past full of bad choices and savory associations? Following the mantra of "Change" is not the answer because the issue is then "change from what and to what" and importantly, the consequences of the "change." Change can mean a lot of things. We have recently experienced a lot of negative economic change which can be directly associated with Obama's associates in and out of Congress. And how can a person who voted "present" verses "yes or no" on a majority of his votes in the Illinois and US Senates be prepared to address the most important issues of our time? Voting present is not good enough when dealing with threats to America. Obama promises talk and compromise and appears willing to concede ground to our enemies (i.e., using an appeasement approach).
Or, do we pick McCain -- an older but scarred and proven warrior who is the straight talking man who is called a maverick for taking consistent stands and speaking the truth even within his own party? An experienced candidate who understands the threats to our country from outside our borders. A man who served his country in war and understands the pain and suffering. A man who while addressing the enemy understands compassion and forgiveness towards those who even tortured him. McCain is willing and able to clearly detail to our enemies (those who wish us harm and / or even destroy us) the limits of our tolerance and a clear understanding of the consequences for pursuing further aggressive acts, actions that threaten America.
The American people have voiced poll after poll their continued negative opinion of the present Congress lead by Democrats and have given the Democrat leadership the lowest ratings in history. It is from this pool of Democrats that a junior inexperienced member has come forth to be their candidate for president. Not a person who stood on principles against his own failing political party leadership but instead pandered for items he wished and voted absent or present on the other issues. If Obama were to become president, he will be again supporting these same failing "tax and spend" liberal leaders: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. And then who will save us from our enemies?
Folks, I've got some sad news to report tonight -- according to this story from CNN, 26-year-old Anne Pressly died on Saturday.
Pressly was an anchor for KATV, an ABC affiliate in Little Rock. She was attacked on Monday during an apparent burglary in her home, which is in the upscale Heights area in Little Rock. She sustained the injuries that led to her death during that attack.
This news is depressing, to say the least. I'm a PR guy and, as such, had met Pressly.
She was a genuinely nice person and an absolute professional. Her death is more evidence that Little Rock is going to the dogs. If you're not safe in the Heights in Little Rock, where are you safe? This whole affair is absolutely pitiful and depressing -- it underlines what a cesspool our capitol city has become.
I'm glad I live in Benton and wish that Pressly had chosen to live in nearby Benton, Bryant, Conway, Lonoke -- anywhere but Little Rock -- and had commuted to work every morning. They've got a crime problem in Little Rock that's growing more destructive by the day. They need to get it under control before everyone with a lick of sense moves out of there.
Ah, it was a glorious night at C.W. Lewis Stadium in Benton.
Why? The Benton Panthers won their first conference game of the season against Little Rock's J.A. Fair War Eagles, a team that is actually worse than Benton.
Yes, Benton won 34-26, and they did it for homecoming, too.
Regardless, that was a display of some of the worst high school football I've ever seen. Benton, once a force in central Arkansas football, has been inconsistent (to say the least) since the early 1980s and this current team is one of the worst Benton clubs I've seen take the field.
Ah, but this game was important. Why? It was a battle for dead last in the 6A South -- Benton was o-4 in the division (1-6) going on into the game whereas J.A. Fair was 0-4 (0-7 overall). Having watched these two miserable teams take the field, its no wonder they're both at the bottom of the eight-team division.
Both teams were sloppy and wholly unprepared to play worth a damn. Penalty flags simply rained down all night long, turning a contest that should have been a little over two hours long into a three-hour contest.
A lot of the penalties were stupid, too. J.A. Fair got called for the idiotic sin of not having enough players on the line of scrimmage on offense. The War Eagles also managed to get called for having an ineligible receiver down field and making an illegal substitution. Benton, meanwhile, roughed J.A. Fair's punter well after the fellow made his kick -- a move that gave J.A. Fair a first down, and they capitalized on it, too, by scoring a touchdown.
Benton also managed to throw interceptions to J.A. Fair three times. Two of those turned into touchdowns.
So, Benton essentially handed the ball to J.A. Fair four times. How bad is J.A. Fair, even with all those gifts from the Panthers, the War Eagles managed to lose. Hell, Benton's run defense was so bad that J.A. Fair converted on third and long quite a bit by simply handing the ball to a back and having him run straight up the middle.
You can use your running game to abuse the opposing team when your opponent's defense is absolutely horrible. Benton's plan to stop most of those runs seemed to involve players hurling themselves at backs and hoping that would be enough to knock them down. Benton missed tackles all night long and looked truly horrible.
And J.A. Fair still managed to lose. It was truly a frustrating evening.
Ah, but there were some great things about the evening. First and foremost, I always have a lot of fun going to Benton's home games with my dad. We both graduated from Benton High School and love to see our hometown team play. Besides, those gamest represent about the only times that my dad and I can simply sit down and visit without any interference.
Also, Cliff Lee was at the game. Cliff Lee, a Benton boy, is a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. He played high school baseball for Benton and he attended a ceremony at the game in which his number was retired.
Plus, those outdoor P.A. speakers at high school stadiums are a constant source of amusement. You had what was supposed to be a roaring panther -- a racket that actually sounded like the noise a bobcat with a sore throat might make -- every time Benton scored. Also, I did appreciate the opening minutes of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" playing through the P.A. system once -- it sounded scratchy and distorted through those speakers, but it's the thought that counts, right?
Obviously, Benton isn't getting anywhere near the playoffs this year, what with a 1-4 conference market and only two games left in the season. Even the most optimistic fan figures the team will reach 2-5 in the conference (3-7 overall).
I'm sure things will be back to normal next week when the Panthers head south to play El Dorado, a solid team with a 4-1 conference record (6-2 overall).
Hey, the Panthers did win tonight and that's good enough for now.
The Arkansas Razorbacks lose again. Read all about it right here.
ARRA News Service - From the heart of the Ozarks, a Letter to Editor by Fred Polich of Bull Shoals, Arkansas: These are hard economic times for many. The mainstream media and other liberal influences, like Hollywood, want the public to believe it is all the fault of the Bush Administration. However, it was the Carter and Clinton administrations and policies that pushed for easier lending guidelines for home buyers who couldn't afford to make a down payment and their mortgage payments. It was Democrats in Congress that pushed legislation that promoted the lending to buyers who should not have received mortgages. However, the failed housing market, collapsed lending institutions, and the recent Wall Street tumble and economic downturn has turned the polls to favor the Democrats. At this point in the election campaign, should the focus be only on the economy?
I am a conservative with mainstream values who is very concerned with the ultimate outcome of the 2008 election. Protecting the unborn; the right to bear arms; marriage being only between a man and a woman; keeping "In God We Trust" on our currency and the pledge of allegiance with the words "under God" in it; and honoring our flag are some of my core beliefs. It is these core values and beliefs that a Democrat victory would be a seriously threaten. I am concerned that if Barack Obama were elected with both the Senate and House remaining under the control of Democrats, the consequences will be devastating.
Why am I concerned? Because Obama said his first action would be signing the "Freedom of Choice Act." A law that would open all avenues to abortion and prohibit limitation or restrictions by the states. Also, I anticipate legislation that will threaten mainstream traditional core values, disregard the intent of our Founding Fathers, twist our Constitution, and violate our Bill of Rights. I fear that immigration problems and terrorism will become an even greater threat because of "softer" policies. I'm concerned that our military capabilities will be compromised. But, my number one fear is the life-time appointments of replacement Supreme Court judges and other federal judges. Most assuredly their judicial philosophies will mirror that of Barack Obama and the liberals in the Senate who confirm judicial appointments. Therefore, the decisions of these new justices and judges would most likely be extremely liberal, long lasting and likely devastating to people holding to traditional values.
It is a voter's patriotic duty before voting to know the voting record and core values of the candidates (presidential and congressional). Consider Barack Obama's associations with a terrorist (Bill Ayers) and with other outspoken critics of our Nation, such as his pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Also, consider his ties with ACORN, an organization under investigation in thirteen states for voter fraud. Obama has a vested interest in ACORN because he was a training instructor for their volunteers and a recipient of benefits. You can find out more about ACORN and the individuals previously mentioned by searching the Internet, reading sites like the ARRA News Service, the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, and listening to conservative talk radio and FOX NEWS. You will learn a LOT that the other main stream media doesn't tell you because of their liberal posturing.
Remember Sen. John McCain endured a lot of pain in the stockades and never compromised his Country or his values. My friends and fellow countrymen please don't "sell out" your values and God given rights to a hurting pocketbook during tough economic times. Please do your homework and vote wisely. [Fred Polich of Bull Shoals, Arkansas is a retired middle-school teacher.]
Bill Smith, ARRA Editor: Al Hundley, a Baxter County, Arkansas resident, asked me "where can I best make a difference supporting John McCain for President." As National Political Director, Let's Get This Right, I asked "are you willing to travel and pay your expenses." As we talked, I emailed him a list of swing state offices and phone numbers. He said "yes I'm going!" and now he is in Ohio! Cleveland's WKYC TV 3 reported last night on Al Hundley's and Bob Klitzkie's work for the John McCain campaign in Ohio:
BRECKSVILLE -- Al Hundley and Bob Klitzkie are both a long way from home helping John McCain try to put Ohio in the victory column. Both men are retired, both are dedicated McCain backers, and both are bankrolling the cost of their travel, hotel room and food out of their own pocket. Both men asked to be assigned someplace where their work could make a difference.Want to Help: Would you like to join Al, Bob and others in sharing John McCain’s plans for a prosperous America with Democrats and Independents? Citizen's for McCain will be knocking on doors, walking precincts and making phone calls in preparation for election day. You can join them in this effort through one of the many field offices in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida:
Both are working at McCain's Brecksville campaign office for free, doing everything they are asked. That could include making calls, dropping off signs, running errands and helping set up rallies.
Hundley says, "I'm here to help John McCain win the Presidency. Whatever I can to to turn the tide and carry the day." Bob Klitzkie is from Guam in the Pacific. That means he cannot vote for President. Al Hundley is from Arkansas. Both men plan to stay through the election and both predict they'll be celebrating the outcome in Ohio. "The Klitzkie poll says Ohio's going for John McCain," Klitzkie predicts. [Video available]
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Link: [Crotchety Old Man Yells At Cars]
My wife sent this over today. Great stuff.
Join the other Wordless Wednesday participants (or contribute something of your own) by clicking right here.
Here in Conway, a record number of voters turned out for early voting on Tuesday afternoon.
County Clerk Melinda Reynolds said as of 3 p.m. Tuesday, the number of people who had early voted totaled 2,600. The typical number of voters by the second afternoon of early voting is 500 or 600, she said.
She said there have been no major problems with early voting so far, only minor issues, such as a couple of paper jams.
A few elections ago, my wife and I voted early. We stood in line for well over an hour.
The next time we voted, we decided to wait and go on Election Day. We ended up waiting for maybe 30 minutes or less, and everything went smoothly.
In addition, it seemed more exciting and patriotic to vote on Election Day. We then went home and stayed up half the night to see who won.
Based on our past voting experiences, we've decided from now on we'll wait and vote on November 4th.
Yes, the time has arrived to unveil our new award and hand it to three very deserving bloggers -- Grandy at Functional Schmunctional, JD at I Do Things so You Don't Have To and Margie and Edna from Margie and Edna's Basement.
Yes, those bloggers are hereby named honorary Captains of the All Arkie Army. Why? Because we like them and want to send over a small token of our appreciation for making the blogosphere a better place to be.
Yes, the All Arkie Army is a collection of bloggers who happen to be from Arkansas or have ties here. We're a diverse lot, but this little award -- this distinguished designation -- gives us the chance to collectively acknowledge some of the better bloggers out there.
And, in the esteemed tradition of the Kentucky Colonels, you don't necessarily have to be from Arkansas to be a Captain of the All Arkie Army.
To that end, this award comes with absolutely no strings attached. That's right. We're not asking any of the recipients to pass it on or any of that stuff. We just appreciate the recipients and want to show it.
We hope the recipients do choose to grab a copy of the award and display it on their blogs, of course. And who wouldn't want to show off those fine colors? Yes, they'll be the envy of their visitors, for sure and certain.
And, the lucky recipients of this award get a dandy bonus, thanks to our own Theresa Komor of A Bumpy Path and Eyebald. Since this is the inaugural award, Theresa figured we ought to make it special, so she kicked in 1,000 Entrecard credits for the lucky recipients.
That's right -- 333 credits for each recipient (yeah, we know it's not even).
So, we hope the recipients enjoy their awards, display them proudly and keep doing what they do. The bonus Entrecard credits should come in handy, too.
Of course, we'll be naming more honorary Captains as we go, but this first group is decidedly exemplary. Stay tuned to see which lucky bloggers get honored next!
- Heart disease and stroke are the #1 and #3 causes of death in Arkansas.
- The total cardiovascular disease death rate in Arkansas is the 5th highest in the U.S.
- High blood pressure is reported by 30.5% of adult Arkansans.
- The Stroke death rate in Arkansas is the highest in the U.S.
- The Diabetes frequency in Arkansas increased 1994-2000 (5.4% to 6.2%) to 7.4% in 2005.
- Arkansas ranks 7th in the nation in obesity (BMI>30) with 28.0% of adults being obese.
- Of Arkansas children 0-5 years of age, 20.4% (%>95th) are obese.
- Of Arkansas student’s 9th-12th grades, 34% describe themselves as overweight.
- In 2000, total hospital charges in Arkansas for cardiovascular disease totaled over $1 billion dollars.
In 2006, Arkansas has a larger percentage of tobacco smokers than the national average, with 24% of adults smoking.
The national average is 20.8% according to Cigarette Smoking Among Adults --- United States, 2006 article in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Smoking contributes to heart disease and stroke because it increases blood pressure. When people smoke, their blood vessels constrict, forcing the heart to work harder in order to pump blood through the cardiovascular system.
Want a sure way to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke?
A Politically Incorrect Guide to Politics
An oldie but goodie.
By John Brummett
Since we don't have much happening of a political nature inside Arkansas, there is uncommon statewide interest in a state Senate race in Conway.
Actually, that's not true.
The statewide interest is mostly among a few hundred or so insiders. Regular people statewide aren't at all fired up about this local race for one of the 135 individually insignificant seats in the Arkansas General Assembly.
There's probably not a thing in the world that would be changed for the every-day Arkansawyer by this race. Arkansas legislative issues seldom come down to one vote, and, anyway, everybody in the Legislature votes the same way nine out of 10 times.
Now that I've successfully established the pointlessness, let's shine the spotlight, shall we?
I'll get back to Obama and Palin and the rest next time. By Thursday, there will have been another debate and a guy named Ayers will be bigger than Willie Horton. It's getting nasty. McCain has no chance otherwise.
You have Sen. Gilbert Baker, veteran incumbent, former music teacher at the University of Central Arkansas and past state Republican Party chairman. He's one of those professed religious conservatives. He's a likable, energetic, Mr. Positive sort whose engaging and adapting manner affixes a palatable and moderate facade to his underlying right-wing instincts.
With nominal and destructive Democrats like Bob Johnson, Baker is part and parcel in that outfit calling itself the "Brotherhood" that now runs the Senate. It exists merely for mutual back-scratching in disbursing state surplus money equally among senators for their self-aggrandizing local pork projects and play-pretties.
Baker fell into the group because he got his feelings hurt years ago when Mike Beebe, then the top dog in the Senate, presumed to tell him what he could have from the capital expenditure budget.
Opposing Baker is Democrat Joe White, a Conway businessman who has the fervent backing of a man who otherwise is the state's consummate advocate of bipartisanship. That would be the aforementioned Beebe.
This is entirely personal. When Baker was state Republican chairman, he funneled tens of thousands of dollars in party money to one of those faux-independent groups that spent the money on attack ads on Beebe calling him, absurdly, a co-conspirator with the criminal Nick Wilson.
Conway residents got a mailer the other day that attacked Baker for having steered all his share of the Brotherhood's pork-barrel state money to UCA - instead, that is, of parceling out smaller chunks here and there for rodeos, county fairs, senior citizen centers, halls of fame and things that ought to be attended to locally, like sidewalks and street lamps.
The point was to try to tie Baker to the discredited Lu Hardin, and, indeed, as I well know, those two were pretty chummy in the day.
The mailer didn't say that it was from White's campaign. So Baker called a news conference to declare it "illegal." But it turns out that state law is unclear on whether such mailed material must reveal how it's paid for.
White said the absence of campaign disclosure was an oversight. Quite an oversight, don't you think? A politician just plain forgot to put his name on something. Anybody buying that?
Anyway, what in the world is supposed to be wrong with taking all of your share of the Brotherhood's pork barrel and passing it on to your thriving local state university?
Baker called this mailer a "Washington-styled attack ad" that he eschewed.
I remind you that Baker took Republican Party money and passed it on to one of those supposedly independent groups so that the supposedly independent group, a mere hit squad, could produce and air bogus attack ads on Beebe and a few targeted legislative and local candidates.
For his big state GOP fundraiser when he was party chairman, Baker brought in Karl Rove, the mere architect of modern Washington style.
So tell us another one about what you eschew, Gilbert.
John Brummett is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. His e-mail address is email@example.com; his telephone number is (501) 374-0699.
By John Brummett
CONWAY - This showcase state Senate race in Conway is odd. These candidates, state Sen. Gilbert Baker and businessman Joe White, will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for, well, it's hard to say.
Baker thinks it's important that we have a two-party system and that he's the last line of defense against our not having one.
He keeps telling me that if the Democrats take his seat, then he just doesn't know what would become of the Republicans. He's actually contended that Democrats are out to get him because he's taken Republicanism all the way to the Pulaski County line.
It's like this is "Gilbert's Last Stand," an epic Western movie filmed on location at the Morgan exit.
Maybe he's right, because I can't figure otherwise what the deal is with White's Democratic challenge.
Joe is a good ol' Conway boy who's been in the car business and other enterprises. But he's a ponderous communicator and he doesn't seem to have any issue that inspires him.
My guess is that he has some Democratic friends and he let them talk him into providing the warm body for going against Baker because these friends simply would prefer that Baker not be the senator from Conway, his being a Republican and all.
Maybe they fear that Baker will aim higher after getting term-limited in four years, maybe Congress, though I doubt he has that hankering or that Second District incumbent Vic Snyder is losing sleep.
So I wrote the other day that there wasn't any issue or policy at stake in this over-hyped contest. Baker, ever the Pollyanna, tried to tell me that there was.
He says he's committed to taking all the remaining three cents off the grocery tax. He says Gov. Mike Beebe, who supports White, is fretting about the economy and talking about a second incremental reduction of only a penny or a fraction.
So there's your issue. Baker wants to go back to the Senate in January to cut the budget more than the governor may want at the very time we may be entering a deep recession that would erode state revenues while increasing human needs, such as for Medicaid.
You'd think Republicans would have learned from recent national and international financial events that taking in less while spending more and trying to live on fiscal vapor creates eventual mathematical complication.
What Beebe and legislators ought to do is hold on to the $250 million or so in surplus now amassing, meaning income in excess of approved spending levels. The governor and legislators should lock that money in a rainy day fund in case things get as bad as they might. Just this once, because global finance has collapsed, they ought to resist the urge to spend every taxpayer penny they can get their hands on.
You see, when the economy goes bad, state government gets hit from both sides. It loses revenue stream while its essential responsibilities increase. And state government can't run up a deficit like the federal government.
Without real cash for state government, sick poor people don't get medical help because federal Medicaid matches aren't met. Prisoners don't stay in prison very long. College tuition gets hiked up. The public schools must get theirs off the top, because that's in the state Constitution and case law and we sure don't want another lawsuit.
Anyway, curious as to what possible substance or significance I might discern, I drove to Conway the other afternoon for a debate between Baker and White put on by political science students at UCA. I found none.
On the issue of whether Conway ought to be wet or dry or, as it is now, "damp," meaning dry except for private club permits as approved by the Alcoholic Beverage Control board, both Baker and White came out forcefully for supporting and trusting the will of the people at the ballot box, either way.
Baker did tell me afterward that, if given the chance, he'd personally vote dry, even to end the dampness, but only prospectively, not retroactively. He wouldn't want to put any constituent out of business.
He's against booze in his dry county, you see, except for the amount they're already pouring, which, as it happens, he finds to be just right.
He'd grandfather in booze monopolies. And I thought Republicans were for markets and competition.
The whole thing is just weird.
John Brummett is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org; his telephone number is (501) 374-0699.
According to this story posted by Arkansas Business, KATV Anchorwoman Anne Pressly was attacked in her home early Monday morning and remains in critical condition.
KATV is Little Rock's ABC affiliate.
Pressly was found unconscious in her home in Little Rock's Heights area and, according to police, received severe wounds in the course of what may have been a robbery.
Here's hoping Pressly is OK and this whole incident underscores something that a home security consultant mentioned to me a couple of years ago -- the Heights is one of the areas hardest hit by burglaries in Little Rock.
According to that consultant, the problem with the Heights has to do with the perception of the area by its residents. The Heights is one of the more exclusive areas of Little Rock, so residents feel safe in that environment and assume they won't be victims of burglaries.
And, yes, I do mean burglaries -- breaking into and entering a structure with the intent to commit a felony therein. By definition, a burglary is not limited to robbery, but most burglars have stealing in mind.
So, many residents of the Heights don't think much about security. They probably should as they've got the best stuff to steal and criminals get an idea which residents have good security systems and which ones don't.
Years ago, a police officer told me something that has proven true time and time again -- criminals will hit the homes that provide the best opportunities. If, for example, a no-goodnik is out to rob homes and he faces one that has an alarm system, one that has tightly-bolted doors and one that provides an easy means of access, which one do you think he's going to hit?
What the sad Pressly incident teaches us is that we can never take home security for granted, and that's doubly true in a city like Little Rock.
God bless you and get well soon, Anne! Those KATV news broadcasts just aren't the same without you.
Willy gets out and about the Natural state occasionally and gets tapped on the shoulder by his cell phone which is a handy picture taker. Pictures not always great quality but are a reminder of what the Cell phone sees around the state. With the Hawg's Permission, Willy will contribute some of past and present views of "What the Cell Phone Sees"
Sometimes we forget the beauty that we have in Arkansas.
The picture does not do justice!
As a lot of you folks know, I've been the director of media relations for the Arkansas Realtors Association for the past three years.
In that capacity, I've seen both state and national markets go from the heights of 2005 to the slow markets that we've got going on right now. One of the questions I get a lot from the press, of course, is "just what the heck is going on?"
That topic has been rather beaten to death, but here it is in a nutshell. As we've learned, money was too readily available. That easily available cash served to inflate home prices and we've seen what happened when it became apparent that a lot of folks found themselves in a position where they simply couldn't pay their mortgages.
That's right. We got a lot of foreclosures and those drove down property values by adding a bunch of discounted homes to the housing inventory in markets around the nation. Furthermore, the death of the subprime market took a lot of that easily available cash from the market, so we saw even more downward pressure on home prices.
That situation led to the present where a lot of people are upside down on their loans -- they owe more than their homes are worth. It's been a hell of a mess, of course, but a common question is "how did we get here?"
The simple fact is, the federal government -- starting with the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 -- has had a nasty habit of messing around in the free market and twisting bankers' arms into issuing mortgages to people that probably shouldn't have them. Why? Well, it was an issue of fairness -- some people, particularly low income people, were left out in the cold when it came to getting a conventional mortgage, so why not make it easier for them to get homes?
The government meddled, meddled, and meddled some more until the subprime lending industry was born. Those nasty little things generally led to "no money down" loans which offered wonderful initial interest rates, but contained terms that kicked in after, say, five years that jacked those monthly mortgage payments through the roof.
In other words, if someone is barely paying their mortgage even under the favorable initial rates in an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), what happens when the introductory period has run and those monthly payments shoot through the roof? Well, you get a lot of foreclosures and what-not.
Of course, some of those loans were outright predatory, whereas others were taken out by people who wanted more "house" than they could afford and they simply ignored what was coming down the road or figured they could sell their homes for a profit before they had to pay under the decidedly unfavorable terms.
Meanwhile, home values were artificially inflated everywhere, and why not? Money was cheap and plentiful, and the impact on home prices were obvious. Furthermore, builders started emphasizing pricier homes as there was a huge market for them. People who could legitimately afford, say, a $150,000 home under a conventional mortgage found themselves able to get subprime and "exotic" loans for homes that cost twice as much.
At the first of 2007, it was very obvious the whole system was crashing down as people found themselves unable to afford the terms of their mortgages and couldn't sell their houses because prices were dropping and inventories were increasing at the time. So, they started defaulting and the number of foreclosures went up substantially. In fact, we're still dealing with people struggling with their subprime mortgages.
The result of all that, of course, is downward pressure on homes due to both increased inventories of discounted, foreclosed properties and the lack of easily available mortgages. Banks aren't handing loans out to everyone with a job and pulse anymore, so it generally costs more to get a mortgage because down payments are required for most of them.
Here's the good news for Arkansas -- we've certainly been impacted here in the Natural State, but we haven't been hit as hard as in other states. Why? The National Association of Realtors tells us that, nationally, 9 percent of all homes are covered by subprime mortgages. That's significant as 54 percent of the foreclosures nationally involve subprime mortgages.
In Arkansas, however, only 5 percent of all homes are covered by subprime mortgages and, as a result, foreclosures have been reduced accordingly.
However, the availability of mortgages has hit us in Arkansas just as it's hit everywhere else, albeit to a lesser extent. That means that list prices are dropping and you can read all about that phenomenon and how the availability of mortgages play into it by clicking right here.
As for home values, we've been pretty fortunate here in Arkansas. Through August this year, for example, the average price of a home here was $152,400, down 1.3 percent from an average of $154,422 through the first eight months of 2007.
Yes, that's a drop, but not nearly as severe as the double-digit reductions in values in the rest of the country.
So, does that mean that there aren't any concerns in Arkansas housing markets? Not exactly. Sales have dropped 19.2 percent through the first eight months of 2008 -- 17,723 single family residences sold by Realtors as opposed to 21,931 through August 2007.
That means that buyers are in a very good position to find some bargains out there as inventories are still relatively high. Furthermore, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgages are still available, but require 3.5 percent of the purchase price for a down payment and closing costs. Those FHA loans, by the way, cover most homes in Arkansas.
Sellers, meanwhile, are still selling their homes, but there's a problem of perceived value as opposed to actual, fair market value. Sellers, still used to the hot markets of a couple of years ago, tend to overvalue their homes.
Regardless, Realtors in Arkansas tell me that sellers willing to price their homes fairly will usually make a profit if they've been in their homes a few years. They just might have to wait a bit longer to sell those houses than they did just a couple of years ago.
What's the good news? I'll put it this way -- I picked up my house in Benton, Ark., two years ago for about $30,000 less than what it appraised for this year. In other words, I got a bargain and my home is worth considerably more than I paid for it. When the market comes back around -- and it certainly will -- I could make a tidy profit, indeed, if I chose to sell.
A major problem over the past few years is that people started to view homes as short term investments -- buy one, sit on it a couple of years and make a profit. That's never worked out very well in Arkansas, but real estate remains a solid long term investment in this state.
Bill Smith, Editor, ARRA News: I received these first words from a reader and wondered how I could use them. Well this weekend's news provided the opportunity.
"Something to think about. Just a few points to ponder. Anyone who's gone through the Security Clearance procedures in the Military" (even Gen. Colin Powell), FBI, CIA, Secret Service or other agency requiring securing, processing and handing of classified information and documents "can verify that this is a valid point to ponder: If Barack Obama would apply for a job with the FBI or with the Secret Service, he would be disqualified because of his past association with William Ayers, a known terrorist. If he is elected President he would not qualify to be his own body guard!"Kind of makes you wonder where General / Former Sec. of State Colin Powell's head was at when he endorsed Obama. Powell didn't resign his commission and therefore he is still responsible to his oath of office. Upon what valid basis did he support a person for Commander-in-Chief who may well have been disqualified for military service, etc. A man who used hard drugs which would not be waived for a commission as an officer. A man who has been associated in his past and present life with a former anarchist, shady Chicago back room deals, a black supremacist pastor, a communist mentor, and close family (blood) relatives and foreign leaders in an African country with ties to radicals and terrorists. It is beyond reasonable belief that one of our former popular Generals who served as a Republican leader and was sought by his party to consider running for president would now endorse Obama.
Obama's stated beliefs and principles are so diametrically different from those previously espoused by Powell. Also, Obama's actions and associations would not have been "becoming for a junior officer" under Powell's command. As a retired officer, I am still reeling from the above thoughts. Surely race could not have been a factor in Powell's decision. And yet, Powell related in his public endorsement that 'the prospect of Obama becoming the first African American president would 'electrify the world.'" More disturbing is the fact that Powell "expressed disappointment" of McCain's selection of a woman - Gov. Sarah Palin - to be his vice presidential running mate. In 2000, Powell campaigned for John McCain for President and may very well feel betrayed for not being selected for the VP nomination. One wonders at this late endorsement about Powell's feelings on a woman being selected over either Powell or another a person Powell would have approved of as VP. Powell calls Biden a good choice, when Biden and Powell were seldom on the same page on core issues or values.
Powell became a 4-star General, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, national Security advisor and Secretary of State under Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W, Bush. Now this singular decision made by Powell to publicly influence voters for Obama over McCain, a fellow military man who "really served" his country, is almost too much to take-in. And the alleged reason for Powell's endorsement - McCain selected a woman for VP and Obama as a black president may electrify the world. Powell's decision left many feeling like the people must have felt when their "Knight" lost their "shining armour."
Yes, Powell has the right to vote and support whoever he wishes but now he joins the ranks of people like Wesley Clark, as empty suits seeking another moment of fame. My suggestion to all is "THINK, Before YOU VOTE!" The choice: Obama the young smooth talking inexperienced socialist who is also an anti-traditional family values advocate or McCain the older but scarred proven warrior who is the straight talking man who is a maverick by speaking the truth even within his own party. A maverick who chose a person - yes a woman - outside of Washington politics to help him stand firm for the American people against the onslaught of a Democrat controlled Senate and House led by an inept Harry Reid and the "beyond the pale" Nancy Pelosi. Again, "THINK -- THINK, Before YOU VOTE!"
Yes, folks, its time to follow in the grand tradition of the Kentucky Colonels and name some folks Captains of the All Arkie Army.
"Kentucky Colonel? Captain of the All Arkie Army? What the hell are you talking about, The Hawg?"
Well, the state of Kentucky has, for years, bestowed the honorary title of Colonel of those individuals who have done something to significantly improve the culture of the Bluegrass State. You had such notable individuals as Tom Parker (Elvis' manager) Colonel Sanders (the chicken guy) and even Muhammed Ali (he floated like a butterfly, stung like a bee!) was honored with the title of Kentucky Colonel.
One fascinating thing about the Kentucky Colonel honor is that one doesn't have to be from the state of Kentucky to receive it. Yes I, The Hawg, have long dreamed of being a Kentucky Colonel.
But, I digress...
So, we're doing something similar at the All Arkie Army. There are certainly bloggers out there that we members of the Army enjoy -- individuals who have improved the blogosphere significantly.
Let's give them a nice, no-strings-attached award, huh? Let's show our appreciation by naming them Captains in the All Arkie Army and presenting them with the dandy award posted here? This is an award that says, "You're just a fine blogger" and doesn't require them to pass it around or anything like that. It's a simple token of appreciation.
The floor, then, is open for nominations. I ask all members of the All Arkie Army, then, to pick some bloggers that you like and post them in the comments section or e-mail links to their blogs to me if you're shy. We'll take nominations for a few days and then vote.
Remember, we're not looking for any members of the All Arkie Army and nominees don't necessarily have to be Arkansas citizens. These are just people we like.
Get cracking, folks, and let's honor some bloggers!
Here in central Arkansas, Friday night football has been a major event for as long as I can remember.
Yes, communities in these parts follow their high school football teams with a passion. When a team is struggling, that tends to irritate the heck out of its home town.
We Benton residents have been quite irritated this year as our poor Benton Panthers have been plagued with trouble all season long. The Panthers traveled to Sheridan on Friday and lost 15-7 to the Yellowjackets.
Sheridan isn't that good but, fortunately for them, Benton is worse this year. That little game put Sheridan's record at 3-4 (2-2 in the 6A South), while Benton fell to 1-6 (0-4 in the 6A South). Benton's only victory came against Conway, a team that is bad as Benton in that it has also managed to win one only game this year. Thank God for Conway, I suppose.
How bad did Benton play against Sheridan? Well, you only need one stat to show that -- 80 yards of total offense. To make matters worse, the Panthers were held to 17 yards in the second half. That's just sad.
So, congratulations to Sheridan. Benton was Sheridan's homecoming game, so there's something to be said for good scheduling.
Speaking of opportunistic scheduling when it comes to homecoming games, there's hope on the horizon for my beloved (yet struggling) Panthers. The Panthers host Little Rock Fair for the Benton homecoming on Friday.
Little Rock Fair hasn't won a game all season. Here's hoping Benton will chalk up a victory, improve to a sparkling 2-6 record and get a conference win. There's a lot on the line when those two teams take to the field -- the loser gets the honor of being dead last in the 6A South while the winner is, well, next to last. Yeah. How's that for motivation?
This season is a wash for the Panthers and I'm hoping things will get better next year. My dad and I go to almost all Panthers home games, so we'll be back to watch more football for (hopefully) many years to come. We're both proud Benton High graduates, after all, and those games give us the chance to visit and catch up on this, that and the other. The social aspects of those games are very important to us, but we'd love to see the team play well.
Benton isn't the only team that's struggling. Head right here to read about the Arkansas Razorbacks' latest woes.
It's nowhere near "politics as usual" in Arkansa's small communities that are surrounded by miles of cattle ranches and hay fields. It's about people with strong ties to home and each other in ways seldom seen these days. It's about life based on real, tangible values, ideals and mores that leave no one standing outside the reach of home.
This swing symbolizes yet another milestone of rebuilding a town mostly destroyed by a tornado several years ago; a tornado so severe that it laid flat everything in its path. The old school that was is now a beautiful, rambling campus of buildings and football, baseball and soccer fields. Somehow, the modernity of the new school only emphasizes the sense of small town community and a simple way of life. Though colleges tend to be a micro community within itself, this small town celebrates and applauds the successes of growth along with it, making the college as much a part of the town as everyone else. No one is left out. This swing and small play gym mark the beginning of a park snuggled in with humble, single family homes, giving the neighborhood kids a safe place to be instead of in the streets.
The two lane highway that runs through the center of town eventually meets up with other two lane highways, each intersection marking the way to get to other small towns. The countryside comes within inches of the solid line painted along the edges of the road. There are no shoulders, no room for driver error, yet they are the best maintained roads you will find. The road lines are always fresh, never faded, the weeds are bushhogged and the trees trimmed of loose branches. Between the network of paved, two lane highways are miles of gravel roads, painstakingly scraped and planed after every rain storm.
Soon, you'll come to another small town, this one with around 350 residents and no businesses to speak of, yet there is a town hall, a waste water system, a fire department and a police force of two part time officers. The tickets given to drivers speeding through the center of town results in enough revenue to keep its small infrastructure in place for the benefit of its residents. The town's mayor is a humble, quiet man with a sense of fairness and wisdom that would be the envy of any large city judge, if only those large city judges would take notice.
Mile after mile on these two lane highways is the beauty and wholeness of nature itself. As far as the eye can see is the size of graze for a herd of cattle with calves romping and cows grazing. A little further on is as large of a field dotted with hundreds of round bales of hay drying in the sun, waiting to be lifted onto flatbed trucks and hauled to huge storage sheds to be stored for the winter. Half mile driveways lead to the ranch homes and barns, with meticulously mowed lawns and tended gardens. Sometimes, what was a driveway becomes a dirt road that cuts between the home and barns to give access to more farms and ranches beyond. A glance toward the left or right while passing through a wooded area is often met by the return glance of ever watchful deer, herds of which sometimes join the cattle to graze in the open.
The C130s from Little Rock Air Force Base fly overhead several times a day, yet the loud roar of the engines doesn't detract from the serenity; instead they become part of it. The planes' competition are hawks, eagles and chicken hawks gliding on stilled, outstretched wings, and V's of geese passing through on their migration routes. It's not unusual to have to stare several seconds to decide if what is flying is a bird or a dragon fly or a monstrous, four inch horse fly.
Life is big here in Arkansas, and in ways that are far larger than life in any large city could ever be. Life surrounds you and makes you a part of it, makes you one with it. You are alive.
According to this story in the Benton Courier, the Benton, Ark., City Council passed a resolution last week asking Alderman Joe Lee Richards to resign.
What did Richards do? He referred to part of his district, Ward 2, as a "black ghetto" during a City Council meeting. As a result, his fellow alderman passed a resolution asking him to take his ball and go home, claiming that Richards' statement had tarnished the city's image.
Of course, the alderman who passed that resolution were right -- what Richards said was embarrassing and doesn't do just a whole lot to counter the notion that we're a bunch of backwards neanderthals here in scenic Benton.
On the other hand, Richards was elected by the citizens of Ward 2 and it's up to them to decide whether his political career is at an end. Interestingly enough, some of the black residents in Richards' ward have expressed their support for the man. Perhaps that's one of the primary reasons Richards has chosen to ignore the Council's resolution.
Fortunately, the Council's resolution isn't binding. That's a good thing as we certainly don't want a situation in which the Council can decide which alderman are suitable and which ones are not. Should they ever get that power, it can be successfully argued that the Council has stopped representing the citizens of Benton entirely.
While you're here, why not check out some more Arkie nonsense right here?
As I've griped about several times over the past couple of months, I got dog sick and was unable to get a lot of things done.
I've pretty much kept up with my job, my primary blog -- The Natural State Hawg -- and have, sadly, not done much at all with The All Arkie Army. I put that one together a few months ago for the purpose of providing a place for Arkansas bloggers to promote their content. Of course, we've got some people on there with Arkansas ties, too.
I'm finally healthy again and find myself in the mood to pay some attention to the little blog that I've unfortunately neglected. To that end, we've got a few changes in store.
First of all, we're moving from simply posting links here and there to reproducing entire articles that have something to do with the Natural State or are just ones that participants happen to like. Some of that content will be original, whereas some will not be. Of course, people will still come in and link to their articles and that's just fine.
I'm not limiting what people can post at all. I suspect people will still simply use the All Arkie Army as a way to link to their blogs. That's just fine. I simply believe some Arkansas-specific content that's reproduced in full will be useful to all who visit.
Also, I had hoped to get the All Arkie Army listed on Entrecard, but the blog was rejected for want of original content. More original content should help us get around that problem and, thus, drive some more traffic to the blog. We'll just see how it works out over the next month or so.
Now, most of the great ideas I've come up with over the years have been stolen and I can't claim credit for this one. No, my friend Theresa Komor over at Eyebald and A Bumpy Path came up with the idea of having more original content on the All Arkie Army in hopes of having more of a magazine format. That was a great idea and I've shamelessly stolen it. That's pretty much par for the course.
Second, I have been inspired by the very kind ladies over at Margie and Edna's Basement. Not long ago, those nice ladies presented me with the Special Tea Award. That award was special because there were absolutely no strings attached. That's right -- I didn't have to pass it around or anything like that. It was a simple token of appreciation and I love that idea.
When you combine that concept with my desire to be a Kentucky Colonel, what do you get? That's right -- an award through which people will be named Captains in the All Arkie Army. The award is not meant to be passed on and will be awarded to bloggers out there that we just like. How cool is that? I hope it works out like that, at least.
So, there are big changes in store at the All Arkie Army -- some things I've been meaning to implement for some time but just haven't felt up to it. So, if you are an Arkansan or have ties to this wonderful state, please pay us a visit and think about applying for membership. Instructions on how to join can be found right here.
More Arkie nonsense at The Natural State Hawg.