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Information for Cabot, Arkansas

Cabot, AR

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Latitude: 34.972647 -- Longitude: -92.022329


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As of the census of 2000, there were 9,764 people, 3,601 households, and 2,823 families residing in the city. The population density was 415.6/km² (1,076.4/mi²). There were 3,762 housing units at an average density of 160.1/km² (414.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.87% White, 1.53% Black or African American, 0.34% Native American, 1.05% Asian, 0.37% from other races, and 0.84% from two or more races. 1.05% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. There were 3,601 households out of which 42.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.9% were married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.6% were non-families. 19.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.03. -- Source: Wikipedia.com



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Census Data for Cabot, Arkansas

Arkansas 2000 Census Population Profile Map

Cabot Arkansas United States
Population 15,261 2,673,400 281,421,906
Median age 32.3 36 35.3
Median age for Male 31.1 34.6 34
Median age for Female 33.4 37.4 36.5
Households 5,432 1,042,696 105,480,101
Household population 15,077 2,599,492 273,643,273
Average household size 2.78 2.49 2.59
Families 4,327 732,261 71,787,347
Average family size 3.14 2.99 3.14
Housing units 5,712 1,173,043 115,904,641
Occupied units 5,432 1,042,696 105,480,101
Vacant units 280 130,347 10,424,540

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Is the fourth time a try for Asa Hutchinson?
10/10/2014

The National Journal, not for the first time, offers a fawning hagiography of a GOP candidate for statewide office in Arkansas, this time Asa Hutchinson. Hutchinson is up in the polls and acting like the front-runner. Mike Ross is a solid candidate but perhaps Democrats need something more than a solid candidate to win statewide these days.

Meanwhile, Hutchinson, running as the generic Republican, has improved as a candidate after three failed bids for statewide office, as Jay Barth tells NJ:

Jay Barth, chair of the politics department at Hendrix College, thinks there's been a noticeable shift in Hutchinson's approach since his last race in 2006, when he lost to Democratic state Attorney General Mike Beebe, who is term-limited as governor.

"He was a little bit harder-edged guy, a little more obviously ideological than he has been in this race," Barth said.

Asa the smilin' triangulater, asserting his transparent flip flops with blithe confidence. Point out the b.s. and it slides right off. Who'd have thought? He's gotten slick.

Oft-quoted GOP strategist Clint Reed jokes to NJ that Hutchinson has a "few more gray hairs these days." However, I note, gently, that Hutchinson appears to have some nostalgia for the hair of his youth based on the picture used for his website: 


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'Modern day speakeasy' 109 & Co. to replace Maduro
10/10/2014


Maduro Cigar Bar
at 109 Main St. is going to shut down in mid-November to make way for a new bar, 109 & Co. Owner Michael Peace hastens to add that the cigar bar isn’t being snuffed out, but will eventually reopen in a different space, and he hopes that space is downtown.

109 & Co. will be a stogy-free “modern day speakeasy,” Peace said; the only smoke at 109 & Co. will be in the taste of the aged cocktails that Peace creates himself in oak barrels. Fans will enjoy an expanded cocktail menu, along with favorites like the 43 Decatur (Basil Hayden’s bourbon mixed with two “high-end liquors,”) and his barrel-aged Manhattans. Peace will spend three weeks redecorating to create an intimate ambiance, with “old-fashioned-style wallpaper,” dim lighting and leather chairs and couches. “We will deep clean everything so there’s no hint of smoke,” he promised. He hasn’t got the bar food “nailed down yet.”

The Maduro’s staff will be kept on. “Moving Maduro’s will allow us to build from the ground up, to make sure there are no apartments above us,” Peace said. He hopes to open 109 & Co. on Dec. 5, the anniversary of the passage of the 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition. 

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Ask Max: Is Arkansas today where you hoped it would be when you came here 40 years ago?
10/10/2014


Guess what he says?

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Conservative advocacy groups continue to push inexplicably awful ads in attempts to reach young people
10/10/2014


As far as I can tell, when conservative advocacy groups want to do outreach to young people, their strategy is to get some tone-deaf Republican ad men in a room and have everyone drop acid. Then they make ads that look like parodies of parodies. Like a John Oliver spoof but he went too over the top. Like a computer program spit out random bits of discarded MTV programming from 5 years ago. Like what very, very, very paranoid people think the kids these days are in to. 

The results are some of the worst advertisements in the history of advertising

Add another one to the pile, via Generation Opportunity. Remember Generation Opportunity (funded by you know who), the Obamacare Lost Causers out to rally the youth of America against the coming Obamapoclypse? The ones who went around to football tailgate parties and music festivals and tried to convince people not to enroll in health insurance that they were eligible for by lying to them? They handed out beer koozies and free pizza and had DJs! Totally awesome! Burning non-existent "Obamacare cards," etc. They put in millions of dollars to the effort and failed, as 7.3 million people are now enrolled in Obamacare plans and millions more have gained coverage via the law's Medicaid expansion. 

Among their failures was a series of ads which argued that if young people signed up for newly available health insurance (often generously subsidized health insurance), they would be sexually assaulted by horror clowns in a psychedelic nightmare dystopia. No really! They starred "Creepy Uncle Sam," menacing young ladies and gents. This was supposed to make people think Obamacare was scary and creepy. Instead everyone decided Generation Opportunity was creepy.

Well, creepers gotta creep. Generation Opportunity is back with a new series of cookie-cutter web ads in North Carolina, Arkansas, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Alaska.  The Arkansas version is above. This thing assaulted me at extremely high volume when I was loading a video on the web yesterday. It's atrocious, and looks and sounds like someone who was rejected from the band Korn was hired to make a commercial for used cars. But there is a pleasant irony to all those dollar bills raining down. Generation Opportunity is blowing through a lot of money making advertisements, which convince no one. Stacks on stacks. 


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Tyler Pearson and Jason Rapert face off in debate in Conway
10/10/2014



My cover story this week
details the underdog challenges from a couple of upstart Democrats running for the legislature, including Tyler Pearson, taking on Sen. Jason Rapert. The Log-Cabin Democrat has a good roundup of a debate between the two this week at the True Holiness Saints Center in Conway. 

Pearson was critical of Rapert's comments about abolishing parole immediately after realtor Beverly Carter was found murdered. Pearson said ending parole “would create a state of chaos in the state prison system, because there would be no way to encourage good behavior in prisons” and “would likely bankrupt our state.” (Rapert spoke with me at length about these issues when his comments were first published on his Facebook page).

I'm afraid Rapert demagogued the issue: “Mr. Pearson, I’d like you to ask Mrs. Carter’s family today if she wished that that man who should have been in prison was there was there when he killed her."

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Arkansas Supreme Court hears oral arguments on challenge to alcohol sales ballot iniative
10/10/2014

The Arkansas Supreme Court this morning heard oral arguments on the challenge to the certification of the proposed constitutional amendment to allow retail alcohol sales in all 75 counties.

The legal challenge was led by Elizabeth Robben Murray of the Friday Law Firm, lobbing a procedural nitpicking claim about the timing of the certification. The plaintiffs are Mary Dillard, a political consultant working with the association of Conway County liquor dealers that have enjoyed a profitable regional alcohol monopoly on account of business from neighboring dry areas and Brian Richardson, chair of the ad hoc Citizens for Local Rights committee. Petitions have to be filed four months before the election, or by July 4. The secretary of state's office was closed that holiday — and following custom as well as law pertaining to other election issues — the office extended the deadline to the next business day, July 7. Plaintiffs argue that was constitutionally impermissible. Secretary of State Mark Martin is the named defendant.

Murray today argued, stealing a line from the Secretary of State's own brief, that Amendment 7 of the Arkansas Constitution “says what it says and it speaks for itself.” 

The Secretary of State's counsel, as well as David Couch, intervening on behalf of the Let Arkansas Decide group which led the ballot initiative effort, argued that the plaintiffs failed to account for Amendment 51, Amendment 5, and the constitution as a whole; argued that requiring state offices, city clerks, and county clerks open on holidays and potentially Sundays would be a logistical disaster; noted that Arkansas Secretaries of State have done this very thing in the past; and stated that those seeking to put this question on the ballot had relied on the Secretary of State's determination to roll the deadline to the 7th (thus, the Court can't step in and suddenly change course now).  

The two sides also sparred over whether the ballot title fails to make the full scope of the amendment clear. 

I'm not a lawyer or an experienced Court watcher, but it sounded to me from the judges' questions like they were more sympathetic to the defendants and the alcohol sales amendment will remain on the ballot next month. We'll see. 

Note that the minimum wage ballot initiative was also turned in on the 7th. 

Here's the lawsuit and more background from Max

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Fleetwood Mac is coming to Verizon Arena
10/10/2014


Verizon Arena reports this morning that Fleetwood Mac (now including long-estranged member Christine McVie) will be in town March 11. I know that seems that a long time from now, but tickets go on sale Monday Oct. 20 at 10 a.m. and they'll probably go fast. Prices range from $52.50-$174, tickets will be available via Ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. 


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Tom and Anna Cotton are expecting a baby boy this spring
10/10/2014


Per Rep. Tom Cotton's mama, he and his wife Anna are expecting a baby boy this spring. Mazel Tov!


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The Main Cheese without cheese? Yes, please!
10/10/2014

A new restaurant opened in West Little Rock this year that is bursting with great options for veg heads, like myself. With a name like The Main Cheese, it's a pretty safe bet that there would be plenty of things for the vegetarians of Central Arkansas, but what about vegans?

The storefront where The Main Cheese currently lives has been home to many restaurants in the five years I have worked in West Little Rock, but I believe this one is here to stay. The decor is adorable, and the atmosphere is casual and relaxed. The menu is kept simple and full of local flavor, and there are plenty of things to keep a vegan coming back for more.

On my first trip, I was immediately drawn to the Caponata appetizer, a warm dish of eggplant, diced tomatoes, black olives, capers and spices. It's served with a generous amount of pita bread that you just want to keep slathering with this amazing dip. For dinner, I decided to go with one of the salads. I settled on the Southwestern Quinoa Salad, because who doesn't love quinoa and avocado? The waitress was unsure of the ingredients in the dressing, so I had her bring it on the side, and although it was marked as vinaigrette, it was definitely cream-based. It was no problem for her to swap it out for some balsamic, however, and I was good to go. The salad was full of delicious, fresh flavors, and I'd definitely order it again.

On my second trip to The Main Cheese several months later, I resisted the urge to order the Caponata again (yes, it was that good) and went with the Hummus Sampler. My dining partner and I both agreed that this dish was great. The samples of hummus came out with oil on top, the way real hummus should be, and was served with well flavored and crispy pita chips. Again, for my main course, I ordered a salad. Now, vegans don't need to be relegated only to the "salad" portion of the menu, but when the description says, "wonton strips and Thai peanut dressing," I'm in! The Thai Peanut Fusion salad was full of cabbage, bell peppers, wonton strips and peanuts and was definitely something I would have again. I ordered it with black beans in addition to the edamame, a little trick I emplore to add extra protein to my meals while dining out. To my surprise and delight, they had a vegan sorbet from Loblolly Creamery on special that day, so I ordered it as well. It was light, sweet and cold, which was perfect for the hot summer day.

I will definitely be going back to The Main Cheese. There are several sandwiches on their menu that I think could be altered to be made vegan. Of course, it would be fantastic if they were to start carrying a few plant-based cheeses in addition to the huge variety of cheese they already carry. A girl can hope.

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Mike Huckabee threatens to leave GOP over insufficient bigotry, but still has time to endorse Bruce Westerman
10/10/2014


Via Right Wing Watch
, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is ready to stand on the courthouse steps refusing to issue marriage licenses as the National Guard storms in, is so fed with the GOP's white-flag-waving on the gays that he's ready to leave the party. 

On a broadcast of the American Family Association's "Today's Issues," he said, "I am utterly exasperated with Republicans and the so-called leadership of the Republicans who have abdicated on this issue." The insufficient hostility toward gay people, Huckabee said, meant that Republicans were "guarantee they're going.to lose every election in the future. I guarantee it." 

He complained that too many Republicans were willing to "capitulate on the same-sex marriage issue and raise the white flag of surrender and just accept the inevitable. If the Republicans want to lose guys like me and a bunch of and a whole bunch of still God-fearing, Bible-believing people, then go ahead and abdicate on this issue." If GOPs proved wishy-washy on gays and abortion, Huck said, he'd leave the party, become an independent, and gather fellow travelers. You can hear the audio below.

All of which leads me to wonder whether he grilled Bruce Westerman, the Republican Fourth District Congressional candidate, before endorsing him yesterday. Presumably Westerman's anti-marriage-equality bona fides are just fine. I've heard that Huckabee is also doing some campaigning for Asa Hutchinson this week, but hey, Hutchinson sounded awfully white flaggy on gay marriage this week. 


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Washington Post fisks Tom Cotton's scary claims about ISIS and Mexican cartels attacking Arkansas
10/10/2014

Earlier this week, we noted Tom Cotton's demagoguery on ISIS and the border. Here's what Cotton said at a tele-townhall:

Groups like the Islamic State collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico who have clearly shown they’re willing to expand outside the drug trade into human trafficking and potentially even terrorism.

They could infiltrate our defenseless border and attack us right here in places like Arkansas. This is an urgent problem and it’s time we got serious about it, and I’ll be serious about it in the United States Senate. 

The Cotton camp later said Cotton's claims were based on blog posts from various right-wing media sources, such as World News Daily, Townhall, and Breitbart.com. 

The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler digs in and finds that the claim is without merit and that Cotton appears to have been relying on dubious, highly speculative, or outright false information. He gives Cotton Four Pinnochios. Fact-checking sites are not definitive arbiters of truth and of course we already know Cotton blames fact-checking on the liberal media. That said, it's interesting that Cotton and his rapid response team have thus far not really even tried to defend the original claim. 

If you write about demagogues, one thing that will invariably happen is that the the audience for that demagoguery will find you. Some Twitter users who are deeply convinced that an invasion by ISIS across the border is an imminent threat asked me to "correct" my original post. On the contrary, I stand by it. The trouble with Cotton's brand of fear-mongering is that there is no way, of course, to definitively prove that a speculative worst-case scenario won't happen. Dig in to the websites that the Cotton camp is getting their intel from, and you will find bloggers who react to the Department of Homeland Security's statement that “[t]here is no credible intelligence to suggest that there is an active plot by ISIL to attempt to cross the southern border” by announcing "AKA... there's evidence, but they're calling it 'not credible' for now."

For the record, you can see all of the sites that the Cotton campaign passed on as sources linked here, plus a 2011 Business Insider article on possible Hezbollah activity in Mexico that Cotton defenders treat as the Rosetta stone of border panic — and a Politifact piece from the time on that topic, then in vogue as a purported imminent crisis in GOP primaries (note that Hezbollah and ISIS are different groups with different aims who are in fact enemies in conflict with each other, but fear-mongering doesn't rely on the finer points).  

The truth is that an Arkansan is more likely to die being struck by lighting or drowning in a bathtub than by an ISIS attack. That's not to say that the U.S. government shouldn't be vigilant about intelligence and defense, but in moments when people are understandably frightened, we expect more from our leaders than to tell tall tales to sew panic for political gain. Tom Cotton talks a lot about being a statesman, and has written about the special role of the elite representatives in a republic providing calm and sober leadership without being inflamed by the passions of the populace. He talks a lot about being senatorial. He can do better than this. 

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Ferneau and McConnell team up in Argenta
10/10/2014

There's a lot going on — a lot of good things going on — at Good Food by Ferneau.

There's a lot going on — a lot of good things going on — at Good Food by Ferneau, the latest venture for one of our most renowned chefs. Donnie Ferneau has re-emerged in a big way after his eponymous eatery was purchased by Frank Fletcher, turned into the lower-brow Rocket 21 and then moved to Fletcher's Wyndham Riverfront in North Little Rock. (It is now closed.) Ferneau began offering healthy to-go items for pickup from Pulaski Heights Presbyterian Church — goodfoodbyferneau.com still reflects that incarnation — before opening recently in the former Argenta Market. The space has been transformed into a minimalist, monochromatic urban-chic spot that by day is filled with light from a north-facing wall of glass.

Good Food by Ferneau also is home to Butcher & Public, the long-awaited retail debut for meat maestro Travis McConnell. There's also a cool bar with TVs (sports; no sound). With all that under one roof, you can:

Have an eat-in lunch, ordering items from either or both the GFF and B&P menus.

Pop in for a drink. The bar is staffed only Friday and Saturday evenings, but a waiter can nab you a beer or some wine any time (not sure if mixed drinks are available in the day).

Grab to-go entrees and other goodies from GFF and raid the amazing butcher case at B&P.

Sit down for a full-service meal on Friday and Saturday evenings, selecting from the small menu Ferneau offers up as he goes beyond the no-gluten/no-sugar borders of his lunch and take-out dishes.

In a recent KTHV, Channel 11, appearance, McConnell said the "public" part of his establishment's name was an encouragement for folks to feel comfortable just hanging out. And that's a clear draw. The space features eight four-top tables, four picnic-style tables and four cocktail rounds with tall stools that also seat four. There's a small lounge area illuminated by the cool new GFF logo. Rocking tunes serenade you at lunch with the music softening at night. It's a place to bring your laptop or tablet and work/surf as you nosh/sip.

Our first lunch visit teamed a bowl of vegan butternut squash soup ($6) from GFF and a spicy meatball sandwich ($9 with chips) from B&P. Ferneau's luscious, "creamy" squash soup, garnished with tiny chia seeds, certainly didn't suffer from its lack of gluten. McConnell not only butchers area-raised whole animals to create the cuts sold in his case, but he also makes all the resulting pates, rillettes and these dense, herb-rich meatballs, three of which are presented in Middle Eastern style with dill, lettuce and a tangy yogurt-based sauce, served on what must be the world's best "hot dog bun" created by Arkansas Fresh Bakery. Three homemade bread-and-butter pickles, two pickled green beans and one pickled okra pod accompanied, as did a bag of Zapp's chips.

Later we had GFF's ginger chicken with quinoa and mushrooms ($12) and must say our venture into the healthy side of the house wasn't as thrilling. There were only a few shards of chicken in the not-overly-gingery dish, which also included squash, carrots and English peas. It was a bit bland and could have used a shot of salt, but there was none in sight. We closed with pecan shortbread with salted caramel ($2), marked very clearly as NOT sugar- or gluten-free. It was very sweet, rich and wonderful, so we weren't surprised to learn it was made by Kelli Marks at Sweet Love Bakes.

Just a couple of weeks into its run, Good Food by Ferneau was packed at 12:30 p.m. on a Friday, and a steady stream of folks flowed in over the next 90 minutes.

We took the trolley over the river the next night for dinner with friends. At 6:45 p.m. there was a healthy but not overwhelming crowd. Dinner is a Ferneau-only thing, but he adds B&P to the equation. Our charcuterie plate (we chose the "little piggy" for $8; the big is $18) featured a large slab of creamy chicken liver mousse, which was not too "livery"; a slightly smaller slab of pork and pistachio pate, chunky and richly flavored; and two slices of bierwurst, which were tasty but not as remarkable as their plate mates. The warm jalapeno and garlic shrimp cocktail ($10) wasn't particularly spicy, but was well seasoned with green herbs, and the seven shrimp were perfectly cooked.

Ferneau also prepares B&P's smoked pork chop ($23), tender and substantial. It's topped with pear chutney and served with red quinoa. The steak ($32 with sweet potato hash) is not B&P, but from Creekstone Farms. The cut was huge, we're guessing at least 12-14 ounces, and it was succulent and flavorful, as good a steak as we've had in a long time. The seared salmon ($25) was proclaimed "fine" by our favorite salmon fan, but she didn't rave. It came atop nutty brown rice studded with mushrooms.

The wine choices are limited but impressive, and they're reasonably priced. Our friends' glasses of pinot noir and Bordeaux were $7 and $8, and our bottle of chardonnay was $29.

One thing you get at Good Food by Ferneau is Donnie Ferneau. He was there during all our visits, and when he wasn't cooking, he was delivering lunches (after ordering you put a number on a stand on your table), busing tables, chatting up guests.

The combination of variety and quality would suggest good times ahead at Good Food by Ferneau and Butcher & Public.

Good Food by Ferneau/Butcher & Public

521 Main St.

North Little Rock

725-4219 (Good Food by Ferneau, www.goodfoodbyferneau.com)

410-7783 (Butcher & Public, www.butcherandpublic.com)

HOURS

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday (Butcher and Public); 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday (Good Food by Ferneau).

OTHER INFO

Gluten-free and sugar-free (except for desserts), full bar, all CCs accepted.

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Political newcomers take on Jason Rapert and Nate Bell, the Republicans Arkansas Democrats love to hate
10/10/2014

Tyler Pearson and Chase Busch face off against against right-wing incumbents. by David Ramsey

Perhaps more than any other Arkansas Republicans, Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) and Rep. Nate Bell (R-Mena) are the bogeymen Democrats love to hate.

Rapert calls for the president's impeachment, suggests that it's "treasonous" to give medical treatment in the United States to American missionaries who've contracted the Ebola virus, rails against "the radical homosexual lobby and pro-abortionists" — and that's all before he's had his breakfast in the morning. He was the man behind the unconstitutional 12-week ban on abortion, a bill that in its original form would have required women to undergo an invasive transvaginal probe. In full demagogue mode, the camera-loving lawmaker famously said, "We're not going to allow minorities to run roughshod over what you people believe in" (Rapert insisted that he was talking about political minorities; the full speech in context suggests he was talking about religious minorities). Rapert was named both "Worst Arkansan" and "Biggest misuse of taxpayer funds" in the Arkansas Times' 2014 Readers Poll.

Bell has not attracted national scrutiny for a piece of legislation like Rapert has for the 12-week abortion ban, but he has made national headlines for his prodigious, liberal-bashing social media output. On Facebook in 2011, Bell appeared to equate Democrats with Nazis via a quotation misattributed to Adolf Hitler. During the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bomber in 2013, Bell tweeted:  "I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine? #2A." The pugnacious, unapologetically right-wing farmer from Mena likes to brag that no one in the House Chamber has pushed the NO button as often as he has ("I wore that button out"). Part of the rump group in the legislature against the state's "private option" health care expansion for low-income Arkansans, Bell voted to fund the policy in 2014, but only after securing a ban on state funding for outreach to let people know about the program. He was explicit that he still wants to kill the policy down the road. "We're trying to create a barrier to enrollment," he said, adding, "I would love to see the program fail."

But while the two have taken their share of abuse in the pages of this publication, they maintain a strong base of support in their districts. Rapert won by 8 percentage points in a hotly contested race in 2012; Bell won by 30. Rapert and Bell are no strangers to controversy — but do all of the hijinks actually make them vulnerable? Can Rapert and Bell, talented incumbent politicians running in conservative districts, actually be beaten in their bid for re-election?  

Tyler Pearson of Conway, the 28-year-old analyst at Heifer International and a political newcomer challenging Rapert, thinks so. "This is absolutely a very winnable race," Pearson said. "We're outworking our opponent. We've knocked on more doors. We have a cash-on-hand advantage. We've outraised him five out of the last six months. We have a much larger grassroots support. ... It's a testament to how passionate people are about this race. It's possible not just because of what I'm doing, but because of what the community is doing."

Meanwhile, another young newcomer, 27-year-old Chase Busch, a student at Arkansas Tech University who also helps out with his family business, Busch Tractor, is taking on Bell. He said his district is ready for a change. "I think I have a very good chance," Busch said. "People will only tolerate so much. People are proud to be where they're from, and people will not tolerate embarrassment. When we have [a legislator] embarrassing our people, they don't want that. That's kind of the situation. People want a guy who's going to serve them and try to solve a problem, not cause a problem."

The challengers face a steep climb. "The bottom line is that [Faulkner County] is a Republican county, this is a Republican district," Rapert said. Public, verified polls are hard to come by in legislative races, but internal polling show Bell and Rapert with substantial leads. "All I can tell you is that in 2010 I ran on a very clear limited government, lower taxes, less regulation platform," Bell said. "I won by 20 percent against a Democrat who was advocating the more liberal policies. In 2012, I ran again against a gentleman who ran to the left of me on a number of issues, including Medicaid expansion. He was for it, I was opposed. And I won by 30 points."

Pearson and Busch are unbowed. A prominent Democrat suggested to Busch a year ago that he consider running. "I did a lot of thinking, praying and soul-searching about it," he said. "I could feel something tugging at me, saying, 'Chase, you just started your political career.' "

Pearson decided to run just days before the filing deadline, after it became clear that Rapert wouldn't have an opponent. In a matter of days, he called everyone he knew to raise the money for the filing fee. "There was a big ice storm and I had to come up to Little Rock the night before, stay in a hotel, and walk down to the Capitol in the ice, just to make sure I could file," Pearson said. He often tells the ice-storm story, a reminder, perhaps, of his determination — and his conviction that the best way to take on an uphill battle is one step at a time.

***

Pearson, born and raised in Conway, is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas and the Clinton School of Public Service. He first came into the public eye when he was featured in stories on the Arkansas private option by MSNBC and PBS in 2014, in the midst of a tense legislative battle over whether to reauthorize the policy. Pearson, then a graduate student, was covered by the private option, and shared his experience.

"I jumped at the chance to spread my story, because I thought it was a very critical one to be told, and I know there are a lot of people like me," he said. "I was in graduate school, and I had an internship that paid me just enough to live off of. The private option was there for me to give me health insurance that I otherwise would not have been able to afford." (Rapert voted for the private option, but Pearson has been critical of the senator for statements that he was taking a "wait and see" approach to the future of the policy — "I've said time and again that I don't know what he's waiting to see, because it's clear that this program is a success.")

Pearson said he has always understood that public policy directly affected his own life and the lives of others in his community. He recounted reading President Bill Clinton's autobiography: "I was reading about education reforms he passed as governor. I'm thinking, I had gifted and talented programs, AP courses, smaller class sizes, mandatory kindergarten programs. All of these things influenced my life. I went to college on Pell grants. I served in AmeriCorps after college. These were all things that he talked about in his book, and I realized how directly policy can impact people."

Pearson has made increasing access to pre-K education and protecting the private option a centerpiece of his campaign, as well as support for raising the minimum wage. He often cites the three-page "Jobs Now" plan on his website and said that Rapert has put too much emphasis on social issues. "He's not focused on jobs, education and health care, and that's what people elected him to do," Pearson said.

Pearson has been sharply critical of Rapert's tenure in office.

"My opponent has embarrassed our district over the last two years that he's been in office," Pearson said. "I think he's a different candidate that's running in 2014 than 2012. I've had several people tell me that they voted for him last time but won't vote for him this time, because they didn't get what they voted for. They thought he was going to be a moderate and fiscally conservative candidate who focused on the issues that mattered to our district. But it seemed that all he cared about was getting in the spotlight and focusing on himself.

"The word that I hear everywhere I go is 'embarrassment' — that Jason Rapert is an embarrassment to our district and our state. And people don't want to be embarrassed. I understand that. I felt embarrassed. That was one of the big reasons I got into the race is I was unhappy with my political representation." 

Rapert, a financial adviser, fiddle player and sometime preacher, said that Pearson was out of touch with voters in their district. "If he actually spent time in Conway, Arkansas, around the conservative people in this district, maybe he wouldn't hear that I'm an embarrassment. Sure I'm an embarrassment to he and his friends that support gay marriage and support abortion on demand all the time, but I'm definitely not an embarrassment to the good families and voters that live in Conway and Faulkner County and still believe that Arkansas values and traditional Christian values actually mean something."

Gaining steam, Rapert took on the preacher's cadence: "So I'm sure, around his friends it might be an embarrassment. But you know what, I am proud to stand up for pro-life. I am proud to stand up for good conservative policies. And if people want to vote for someone that's going to support the policies of Barack Obama ... they've got a choice in Mr. Tyler Pearson."

Rapert's most underrated skill as a politician is that for all of his bluster on the hot-button issues, he is very focused on looking out for the parochial interests of his district and ensuring that state funds flow to the powerful players. Incumbents are always hard to beat; incumbents who are adept at bringing home the bacon can be nearly unbeatable.

"I was able to help with getting $4.7 million for the University of Central Arkansas to help with capital improvement projects here locally," Rapert said. "I was able to get $600,000 for the Arkansas Education Television Network here in my community. I was able to get $50,000 for the Faulkner County Senior Citizens center. I was able to get another $50,000 for the Conway Human Development Center, and actually I've been very vocal in defending the human development centers and the people they serve across our state. When it comes to getting the job done, I've stepped up." Rapert also noted his involvement in leadership and fundraising for various organizations in his district: the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, Conway Christian School.

"I'm a father and I'm a husband," Rapert said. "So you've got a person in me that can understand the day-to-day struggles that families go through in our communities. Or you've got someone that just graduated from college and does not even own a home in this district."

When it comes to those hot-button issues, like gay marriage and abortion, Rapert remains, to say the least, not shy about his positions. He argued that Pearson, by contrast, was supported by abortion rights and gay rights groups, but avoided clear stances on those issues. "He always wants to have it both ways," Rapert said. "One of the first lessons he's going to have to learn in life is that you actually need to take a stand."

On abortion, Pearson said, the labels "pro-choice" and "pro-life" were "a little too black and white for me." Pearson, a Catholic, said, "My personal beliefs are my personal beliefs, but as a state senator, I will keep in mind that I'm representing 83,000 people and I'm not going to force my views on other people. I think it's a deeply personal issue that should be decided between a woman, her family, her doctor, her God, and not by some politician like me."

He said that he would like to reduce the number of abortions in the state, and argued that the best way to do so was to lift people out of poverty via access to high-quality education and jobs, as well as access to comprehensive sex education and contraception. Pearson said that he would have voted against Rapert's 12-week abortion ban (as well as a separate bill that banned abortions after 20 weeks) because they were unconstitutional as a matter of federal law.

"It's already costing Arkansas taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars to fight this in the court system, and to me that's not a very fiscally conservative message," he said. "It's all show — it's grandstanding on the issue just to get Jason Rapert in the spotlight but it's not getting anything done."

Pearson said he does not take a position on gay marriage. "That's going to be an issue decided by the Supreme Court, and I can't really do anything about it," he said. Pearson said he would uphold the law, whether marriage continues to be defined as between one man and one woman or the law changes via the courts. "That's not an issue in my race and that's not something I'm trying to focus on," he said.

Rapert and other Republicans have questioned Pearson's Conway residency at the time he filed, pointing to Pearson's story of walking to the Capitol in the ice and a photo caption in MSNBC's online story that mentioned him staying at a friend's place in Little Rock. Pearson said he walked from a hotel, not his residence, and that during grad school he sometimes stayed with friends overnight in Little Rock when up late studying, but maintained a permanent residence in Conway. "It's kind of like the new birther conspiracy," Pearson said. "Are they gonna want to see my birth certificate?"

"I guess you would have to say this," Rapert said. "If I'm going to have an opponent, Tyler Pearson is exactly the opponent that I would want to run against — an inexperienced, very liberal young man who does not represent the values of Conway, Arkansas, and the rest of Faulkner County."

Said Pearson, "He wants to say that I don't have Conway values? I live in Conway, I'm from Conway." Pearson said that Rapert hammering him on issues like abortion and gay marriage exposes part of the reason Pearson chose to run against him. "I'm focused on jobs, economy, health care, education, infrastructure," he said. "People want a state senator who's going to work for everybody — not take every chance he gets to grab the spotlight."

***

"Before I begin, I got to thinking, it may not be a good idea for you to do an interview on me," Busch joked the first time the Times called him. "You want to know why? Because I think my opponent gives y'all job security."

He's got a point. Save Rapert, surely no Arkansas politician has taken more heat from the Times' Arkansas Blog over the past few years than Bell (his re-election in 2012, wrote the Blog's Max Brantley, "guarantees extremist quote machine fodder").

Taking down the two-term incumbent won't be easy. Bell is more popular in his district than he is at the Arkansas Blog, and he claims that an internal poll shows him with a lead of more than 30 points over Busch (no information about Bell's poll has been released publicly, but a blowout is in line with the conventional wisdom and with Bell's easy victory in 2012).

In addition to Bell and Busch, the race also features a Libertarian candidate, Marc Rosson, a farmer and landlord from Gillham (Sevier County), who objects to Bell's vote to fund the private option in 2014 and his vote for Issue 3, the legislatively referred ballot initiative impacting term limits and pay for legislators. "There's no conservative [that] would have voted for any of those bills, not if they're really conservative," Rosson said. "A dog can call itself conservative, but it's still not conservative."

The situation has Bell, rather remarkably, casting himself as the man in the middle. "I have my Democrat[ic] opponent, who has described me as an extreme right-winger, and my libertarian opponent, who has described me in various terms, most all of which include the word Obama," Bell said. "The voters will express their opinion on Nov. 4, but from where I sit and based on the polling we have at this point, it certainly doesn't appear to be a winning message. Clearly the folks in my district have been very supportive. Actually I was fairly surprised to have an opponent at all."

Busch believes that things have changed since Bell's big victories in the past and that voters in the district have grown dissatisfied with the incumbent, who he said has been unresponsive to constituents. "A lot of people are not happy with my opponent," Busch said. "I had a guy tell me — and he's Republican to the bone — he said, 'I agree with your opponent 90 or 95 percent of the time, but I'm going to vote for you because Nate's an a-hole.' There's been a bunch of that. Voters don't like the way he treats people, and he's come across as very, very arrogant."  

Busch also believes that people have become fed up with the controversy that follows the always quotable Bell.  "My opponent has said all kinds of outlandish things," Busch said. In addition to noting the "Hitler" incident, Busch has given particular focus to the Boston tweet.  

In fact, Busch's first foray into public life was a letter to the Mena Star arguing that Bell should resign after the tweet. "This is not the view of the people of this area," Busch wrote. "I strongly believe that he should resign as a result of this comment. This is a major breach of leadership because it did not make anything better, caused problems [and] destroyed friendly relations." Busch added, "The people of this area and I do love our guns and we shall not have these rights infringed, but the power of love and prayer should be our main focus in this crisis situation."

Busch said he was inspired to write the letter because "when [Bell] said that awful, awful thing about Boston, that's when he revealed himself. ... I know that Arkansas and Massachusetts are two totally different cultures, but they are our countrymen, they're citizens. To infer someone who thinks differently than we do are cowards, that drew the line there."

"Clearly my opponent would like to run a campaign on the basis of one tweet," Bell said. "I'll just simply say that being a member of the legislature is about more than one tweet." 

Of the tweet itself, Bell said: "It's not an issue in my district. Folks there agree with my point of view on firearms and the personal use of firearms. I made it very clear that the timing certainly had a negative effect on some people. I meant exactly what I said. But sometimes tactfully it's better to refrain from saying some things at certain times." Bell added that he had counted 13 major media figures who made "the same basic statement ... without any repercussions whatsoever."

Busch was born and raised in Mena. He doesn't know Bell personally but said Bell lives about a mile from his house as the crow flies ("this love thy neighbor thing is getting tested," Busch quipped). His website highlights the sorts of things that find their way onto " 'Merica!" T-shirts: "In his spare time, Chase enjoys dirt track racing, classic cars, and hunting." He's an NRA member and a devout Baptist. "I'm a religious guy and my faith is very, very important to me, but I won't beat you over the head with it," he said. 

Busch describes himself as a centrist, comparing himself to Mike Ross and to middle-of-the-road Democrats in the legislature. "I'm a moderate," he said. "I don't consider myself a conservative or a liberal. I'd be the guy that's right in the middle of that spectrum." He acknowledged that the district leaned right, but noted that Ross consistently carried Polk County when he was running for Congress. "We're conservative," Busch said. "We like our Bible and our guns. That's the way our district is. People are going to tend to be very, very conservative on gays, abortion and guns — but I think they want someone who's also going to invest in their schools, and has a positive plan to bring in jobs and bring in better health care."

Busch said that he was opposed to same-sex marriage. "I'm a lot like what the district is," he said. "I'm not anti-gay by any means. I'm no Jason Rapert." He described himself as "opposed to abortion" and said he would favor laws that made abortion illegal with exceptions for rape, incest or maternal health. However, he said he would have voted against the bills passed last year in the legislature banning abortion at 12 weeks and 20 weeks because "they were unconstitutional because of federal law, which overrides state law." On gun control, he said, "I do believe in the Second Amendment. I think if you're a law-abiding citizen, if you want to try to have a gun or get possession of a firearm, you're not hurting my feelings." 

Busch said his policy focus was on education and protecting the private option. Bell, Busch said, "has been candid about saying he does not want [the private option] to work."

Bell believes that the private option is unsustainable and unaffordable, but he did vote to fund the policy in 2014, arguing that due to the constraints of the fiscal session and the deadlock in votes, the best way forward for his side was to get what they could and live to fight another day. That tactical logic didn't satisfy Rosson, the Libertarian candidate, a gadfly who has run for numerous offices in the past. "The best tactic I can figure out is that if you're against something, you don't vote for it, you don't fund it," he said.

"He's somehow managed to be even more [right-wing than Bell]," Busch said of Rosson. If Rosson can peel off a few Tea Party diehards still smarting over the Obamacare-funded private option, "that only helps me," Busch said. (There's one thing the two agree on: "He's just about been an embarrassment," Rosson said of Bell. "He don't know when to keep his mouth shut.")

Like Pearson, Busch himself is covered by the private option. "It was designed for people like me, people who are trying to get ahead, trying to do what they can, but may not have the best health insurance available to them because of their pre-existing condition," said Busch, who has epilepsy. "[Bell] doesn't want the private option. He doesn't care if it helps people, he doesn't want it to work. That's a stark difference [between us]. We've got to do what we can to help as many people as we can." Busch noted that more than 1,500 people in Polk County have gained private option coverage, and argued that Mena Regional Health System has benefited from the policy. "It's the only hospital in the district, and when seconds count, we need the best medical facilities possible here," he said. "Without the private option, there could be a possibility that we lose our hospital." Busch, whose mother works at the hospital, said, "I don't want to see anybody laid off because of someone's extreme, scorched-earth ideology, where they don't want to help people."

Busch said that he could recall watching the news with his great-grandmother, who told him stories of how New Deal programs helped people during the Depression. He said that he was a Democrat because they "have a better record of helping the poor and middle class. Trying to help the common person, the worker and the poor. With hands up, not handouts. Opportunities, programs, jobs, helping people get on their feet and going."

But can a Democrat running to the left of Bell win in District 20? Bell said that he would not say anything negative about his opponents but expressed skepticism.

"There are major differences between the Republican party platform and the Democrat[ic] party platform," he said. "I'm going to assume that someone agrees in principle with the Democrat[ic] party platform if they decide to run on that platform." That platform, Bell said, did not have a winning history of late in his district.

For his part, Busch said, "I think we've got a shot to win, I really do." Busch said that Bell was backed by PACs and lobbyists, while the bulk of his own support was from local people. The exception: He's gotten some donations from Boston, plus an endorsement from a Boston city councilman. "For some weird reason," he said, "I've turned into a Red Sox fan."

***

Most observers view Pearson and Busch as long shots. Bell losing his re-election would almost certainly be the most shocking upset of the cycle; while the Rapert race promises to be tighter, one lobbyist told me that Republicans were ultimately a lock in Senate District 35, and a Republican would only lose if "caught with a dead girl or a live boy."

"A key mistake that Arkansas Democrats are making in this cycle is that they have devoted a lot of time, energy and money to running against people they don't like instead of people that they can beat," Bell said.

Both Ross and Democratic Party chairman Vince Insalaco have hosted fundraisers for Pearson and Busch. Pearson in particular has been a fundraising machine — a testament to his talents in that area, but also surely an expression of the local Democratic id, putting money behind rage against Rapert. There has been occasional grumbling that perhaps high-profile lightning rods like Bell and Rapert are sucking in attention and fundraising dollars that might be better devoted to tight races where Democrats are favored or neck-and-neck.

Insalaco dismissed such concerns. "We made an effort to go after quality candidates statewide and I think we've done it," he said. Rapert and Bell might get a lot of attention from the media, he argued (noting, for example, this story), but the party was working aggressively on a couple of dozen races. "I didn't set out to [target] Jason Rapert and Nate Bell. If you look at the map, we went out to deliberately recruit top-tier, quality candidates [including Pearson and Busch] and we've got them everywhere. If we win the House back it will be because of our candidates." 

Of course there could be advantages to Democrats even if Busch and Pearson turn out to be sacrificial lambs. Getting the base to turn out even in districts where Democrats are the minority could help statewide candidates like Mike Ross and Mark Pryor. Rapert, meanwhile, suggested that "the Democratic machine" wanted opposition for Bell and him in order to keep them too busy to spend time working to elect Republicans Asa Hutchinson as governor and Tom Cotton as senator.

Moreover, as several Democratic insiders pointed out to me, you never know. You can't win if you don't play. The long-term health of the party benefits from competing statewide, and the Democrats this cycle appear to be pursuing a strategy of expanding the map. Rapert and Bell attract the headlines, but Democrats are taking on other GOP incumbents and playing in other districts where they face an uphill battle. They're fielding strong candidates in Republican strongholds in Northwest Arkansas, such as Leah Williams in Bentonville and Grimsley Graham in Rogers, both seats occupied in recent years by Tea Party stalwarts; they're also mounting a challenge in Rapert country, where Frank Shaw is taking on Rep. David Meeks (R-Conway).

If nothing else, candidates like Busch and Pearson give voters in their districts a choice. As Pearson put it, explaining why he got into the race to begin with: "I just knew that I wanted to vote for somebody other than Jason Rapert."

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Leslie Rutledge and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week
10/10/2014

Also, Republicans lose their minds, 5 a.m. clubs survive, county jails are crowded, the national media hive mind, the zombie apocalypse is coming to Sharp County, Asa Hutchinson is a strapless wedding dress, Clarke Tucker gets slimed and the Obamapocalypse will have to wait.

Leslie and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Where to begin? Last week, Leslie Rutledge's voter registration was canceled after it was discovered that she was also registered in Virginia and Washington, D.C. The forgiving among us were willing to chalk it up to an honest mistake, but Rutledge went nuclear with a petulant letter blaming Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane and demanding she be reinstated (Rutledge, a Voter ID advocate, showed newfound interest in voter suppressions when the "disenfranchised" voter was Leslie Rutledge). This was impossible, Crane said, so after a week of whining, Rutledge bowed to the inevitable Friday and registered (though she did so "in protest," she said). Questions remain about her candidacy since she was supposed to be a lawfully registered voter when she filed for office. Meanwhile, an advertisement featuring Rutledge and paid for by the Republican Attorney Generals Association, a 527 Super PAC, featured new footage of Rutledge, odd since candidates aren't supposed to coordinate with 527s. Rutledge admitted that she coordinated but said she'd done nothing wrong. An ethics complaint was filed Monday.

Department of bad analogies

Republicans were so upset by the Rutledge kerfuffle that some plain lost their heads. On Twitter, K. Ryan James — campaign manager for Bruce Westerman, the GOP Fourth District congressional candidate — compared the cancellation of Rutledge's registration to violence against women. Some responded that his comparison of Rutledge's situation to victims of domestic abuse and rape might be ill-considered, but James stood by his point.

In case of zombies

The Defense Department donated an assault rifle, handgun and a Humvee to Doug Wortham of Sharp County even though, as the Associated Press reported, "the people in his custody are in no condition to put up a fight. They're dead." Yes, Wortham is the Sharp County coroner, and the goodies are some of the military surplus the DOD has been spreading around to folks with the power of arrest. "I just wanted to protect myself," Wortham explained. Plus he needs the Humvee to get around Sharp County. 

Up all night

Little Rock's 5 a.m. clubs live on, as an ordinance requiring private clubs that remain open after midnight to beef up security by hiring two certified law enforcement officers passed the City Board unanimously. The measure was a compromise supported by the clubs after an effort by nanny staters on the Board attempted to push an earlier closing time.

County jails, by the numbers

2,300: number of state inmates being held in county jails across the state

25 percent: portion of county jail beds beings used to hold state inmates

$28: per day reimbursement for county jails holding state inmates

$45: actual per-day cost for county jails holding state inmates

$18 million: cost to counties of holding state prisoners during the past year

(Figures according to the Association of Arkansas Counties)

Adventures in headline writing

You'd almost think that we could just have one single Clinton beat reporter for every newspaper everywhere, since everyone is going to write almost exactly the same headline. With the Big Dog in town, what's the national media's take?

"Bill Clinton tries to save Arkansas from GOP" (Politico)

"Bill Clinton tries to rescue Arkansas for Democrats (USA Today)

"Bill Clinton plays savior for Arkansas Democrats" (CNN)

"Bill Clinton Tries to Save Democrats in Arkansas" (Time)

Asa Hutchinson is a strapless wedding dress

An almost unspeakably bizarre new digital ad from the College Republican National Committee features a young woman, saying, "Budget is a big deal for me now that I graduated college." Then it cuts to her modeling a wedding dress in a mirror, saying, "The Asa Hutchinson is perfect!" The ad, part of a cookie-cutter series aimed to appeal "to young voters using pop culture oriented language," was roundly denounced by the national media as offensive, sexist, tone-deaf, clueless, hokey, baffling and moronic.

Slime time

An anonymous and egregious direct mail piece attacking Clarke Tucker, Democratic candidate for House District 35, claims he represented "a violent criminal for free." This piece used a bogus return address and employed a font that must be called something like "Serial Killer Serif." The violent criminal? A man who was accused of shoplifting a $9.99 piece of merchandise at Kmart — the only criminal case Tucker has ever handled in his legal career. "I came in kind of late in the process on a pro bono basis and represented him at his plea hearing only, where he pled guilty," Tucker said. The defendant was fined and sentenced to community service.

No comment from Tucker's Republican opponent Stacy Hurst or her campaign consultant, Clint Reed; the latter had suggested previously on social media that this attack was coming.

From the department of good news

The jobs report released last week by the U.S. Department of Labor brought good tidings, with nonfarm payrolls growing by 248,000 jobs in September. Meanwhile, the numbers for July and August were revised upwardsignificantly (more than 31,000 for July; more than 38,000 for August). The work week is up slightly to 34.6 hours. The unemployment rate is now 5.9 percent, the lowest it's been in more than six years. It's the first time the nation has ever recorded a four-year straight period of positive employment growth.

Meanwhile, here in Arkansas, the Insurance Department released more detailed information about rates on the 2015 Obamacare Marketplace. You know how insurance premiums go up every year? The Arkansas Marketplace is seeing rates go down 2.2 percent next year.

Those awaiting the Obamapocalypse will have to keep waiting.

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Travis Tritt headlines Arkansas State Fair
10/10/2014

Also, Kool Keith at The Joint; King Biscuit; 'The Legend of Boggy Creek' at The Old State House Museum; Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival; Adam Faucett, Bonnie Montgomery and others in Conway and 'The Exorcist' at Ron Robinson. by Will Stephenson

THURSDAY 10/9

KOOL KEITH

9:30 p.m. The Joint. $20-$50.

One of the more curious entries in "Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists," a self-explanatory 1999 book issued posthumously by the classic hip-hop magazine, is "Kool Keith's favorite places to pleasure himself," a brief, nine-item inventory including locations such as "Across the street from Madison Square Garden," "Sbarro" and "Polygram Records." Keith, who has also gone by Dr. Octagon, Rhythm X, Big Willie Smith and Black Elvis, among other names, was rap's original self-proclaimed extraterrestrial, and has released at least two great albums — 1988's "Critical Beatdown," by his first group, Ultramagnetic MCs, and his 1996 solo reboot "Dr. Octagonecologyst" — plus a few more good ones. About his bugged, paint-splatter lyricism, it's probably enough to point out that there was a meme a couple of years ago called "Who said it, James Joyce or Kool Keith?" With lines like "Coming down the rampart through beam on the street, obsolete computes, compounds and dead sounds," it's a challenge. "I was ahead of my time and now time has caught up," as he told HipHopDx back in 2008, "and people are doing the same shit I've already tried to tell them. Now they seeing it. It took times and wavelengths. ... The seed I planted, it took a long time to grow."

THURSDAY 10/9-SATURDAY 10/11

KING BISCUIT BLUES FESTIVAL

Downtown Helena. $30 (day), $50 (3-day).

The longest-running radio program in the country was started in Helena in late November 1941. It was named for a local flour company, "King Biscuit Flour," and was originally financed by a grocery store. Hosted by "Sunshine" Sonny Payne since 1951, "King Biscuit Time" eventually made fans out of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Levon Helm, Robert Plant and Elvis Costello, and helped put Helena on the map as a blues destination. It's a reputation that's been further affirmed by the King Biscuit Blues Festival, started in 1986 and originally held in the back of a flatbed truck. This year's festival , which will not be held in the back of a truck, offers three nights of concentrated blues: Thursday will feature Guitar Shorty, Jimmy Hall and Wet Willie, Roy Rogers and The Delta Rhythm Kings and Sonny Burgess; Friday will feature Delbert McClinton, Bobby Rush, Paul Thorn, the Black River Pearl Band, Reba Russell and Anson Funderburg and The Rockets; Saturday's lineup will include the Bell Singers of Memphis, the W.C. Clark Band, Jimmy Vivino and The Black Italians, Sonny Rhodes, legendary harmonica player James Cotton (also performing Thursday at the Wildwood Park for Performing Arts) and about a hundred more artists that we don't have the space to list.

FRIDAY 10/10

"THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK"

5 p.m. Old State House Museum. Free.

"This is a true story," as the opening title card reads in Charles Pierce's 1972 drive-in classic "The Legend of Boggy Creek." And it is: On the night of May 1, 1971, in Miller County, something disturbed Elizabeth Ford while she slept on a couch in a house she and her husband, Bobby, had only just moved into the previous week. Something that returned the following night and attacked Bobby, who was later treated for his wounds at St. Michael Hospital in Texarkana. Jim Powell, then a reporter for the Texarkana Gazette and Daily News, arrived at the scene soon after. "The woman had said it reached a hairy arm through the window," he remembered decades later. "It was breathing hard, and had eyes that were as big as half-dollars and red as coal." Powell named the Fouke Monster and sightings continued — still continue. This is the story of the film, a strange sort of independently produced semi-documentary. The real draw, though, is its striking sense of place, the amplified swamp ambiance and odd, droning rhythms. It's the accents and the color of the woods at night. This is a true story.

FRIDAY 10/10-SUNDAY 10/19

HOT SPRINGS DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL

The Arlington Hotel and Low Key Arts, Hot Springs. $20-$200.

This year's Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival will open with a screening of the documentary portrait "Glen Campbell ... I'll Be Me," and will close with George Takei's autobiographical "To Be Takei" (about his "playful and profound trek for life, liberty, and love"). A sidebar focusing on mockumentary shorts will feature actor and filmmaker Luke Wilson, who will show his short "Satellite Beach," about the Space Shuttle Endeavour (starring Wilson as a "devoted and unlikely shuttle manager"). There will be award-winners from Tribeca, Sundance and Slamdance, plus a Student Academy Award winner ("The Apothecary") and a new film by Oscar-nominated director Lucy Walker ("The Lion's Mouth Opens"). "Winter's Bone" writer and director Debra Granik will screen her new documentary feature "Stray Dog," about a Vietnam vet and biker named Ron "Stray Dog" Hall. YouTube celebrities and magicians highlighted on the "Tonight Show" will be featured, as will films about Quidditch ("Mudbloods"), films produced by Spike Lee ("Evolution of a Criminal," about a 1997 armed bank robbery case in Houston) and films based on black box transcripts from downed planes ("Charlie Victor Romeo," which A.O. Scott has called "one of the most terrifying movies I have ever seen"). There will also be a 20th anniversary screening of the classic "Hoops Dreams," with appearances by Arthur Agee Jr. (one of the basketball players followed in the film) and producer Gordon Quinn, and "When We Were Kings," with director Leon Gast alongside Muhammad Ali's daughter and grandson. Day passes are $20 and festival passes range from $100 to $200.

FRIDAY 10/10-SUNDAY 10/19

ARKANSAS STATE FAIR

Arkansas State Fairgrounds. $2.99-$5.99.

Fans of children's beauty pageants, Arkansas-bred livestock and REO Speedwagon will be busy at this year's Arkansas State Fair, which will also include an alligator-wrestling showcase, a daredevil high-dive and rare appearances by Dru Hill and "Rock-It The Robot." There will be ample opportunities to show off your prized goats, compete in photography, ice cream-making and flower-arranging contests, and sample the state's best homemade pie, spam, chili and BBQ. "Bad to the Bone" auteur George Thorogood will kick off the musical portion of the event Friday night, followed by country mega-star Travis Tritt, endorsed by the Grammys, the Grand Ole Opry and the NRA. Sunday night will feature So So Def legends Jagged Edge ("Let's Get Married" etc.), and Wednesday, the fair will host Color Me Badd ("I Wanna Sex You Up"). Another great '90s R&B group, Dru Hill, unfortunately overshadowed by member Sisqo's solo career, will perform next Thursday, followed by REO Speedwagon, Pop Evil and Mike Posner.

SATURDAY 10/11

ADAM FAUCETT, BONNIE MONTGOMERY, JOHN MORELAND, FRET AND WORRY

8:30 p.m. Pro Auto Collision, Conway. $15.

This Saturday, a handful of Little Rock's finest will play at a body shop in Conway. The event, which has been held at Pro Auto Collision Repair and Towing (at 6 Ranchette Road) for the past three years, will be open to the public this year for the first time. "Here is how it goes down," Pro Auto owner Matt Ross explained on Facebook. "I own a body shop and once a year we push out all the cars, invite some amazing musicians, cook some soul food and have an incredible night. This is an intimate show, the audience asks questions, the artists tell stories, jokes, try out new songs. ... Ask someone who has been, there is nothing else like it in Conway for sure." I believe him. And really the venue seems appropriate, ideal even. In addition to the great Adam Faucett and Bonnie Montgomery — two of the state's most celebrated singer-songwriters — the night will feature duo Fret and Worry (Joe Meazle and R.J. Looney) and a special guest, Tulsa's John Moreland.

SUNDAY 10/12

"THE EXORCIST"

6:45 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. $5.

According to Peter Biskind's notoriously unreliable New Hollywood history, "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls," "The Exorcist" was originally offered to Mike Nichols, director of the "The Graduate," who refused, saying, "I'm not going to stake my career and the picture's success or failure on the performance of a 12-year-old girl." Arthur Penn and John Boorman said no, too, as did Peter Bogdanovich and Stanley Kubrick. William Friedkin, coming off of "The French Connection," said yes. "A good part of my motivation was to make a better film than Francis," he told Biskind, meaning Francis Ford Coppola. "We were ambitious and competitive. Someone would always raise the ante." "The Exorcist" raised the ante — some kind of ante, anyway. The film still shocks for its focus on spirituality and sexuality, both overlaid with fear and disgust and the supernatural. It will screen Sunday night as part of the Little Rock Film Festival's new monthly series at Ron Robinson. According to programmer Levi Agee: "We won't confirm or deny that there will be an actual exorcism performed before the screening."

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Ole Miss gave Arkansas blueprint to beat Alabama
10/10/2014

Even as Arkansas sojourned over the weekend, the free world of SEC football spun almost wildly off its axis and triggered future storylines for the Hogs as they embark on the remainder of a schedule that was already seen as grueling. by Beau Wilcox

Even as Arkansas sojourned over the weekend, the free world of SEC football spun almost wildly off its axis and triggered future storylines for the Hogs as they embark on the remainder of a schedule that was already seen as grueling.

The events of Oct. 4 altered the West divisional landscape dramatically while the 0-2 Razorbacks seek out a means of escape from the cellar. In the wake of the collapse at Arlington against Texas A&M, when certain victory got ensnared in defeat's filthy jaws at the end, Arkansas looks like arguably one of the best 25 teams in the country, and may still finish with a losing record at the end of it all.

First, consider that the Hogs will come off the bye week to face an assuredly hostile Alabama team that is reeling from blowing an 11-point second-half lead in a 23-17 loss at Ole Miss. That game, the second of a two-act Mississippi uprising on Saturday, was as rough-and-tumble as anticipated and it wreaked havoc on the Tide in numerous ways. For beginners, Nick Saban teams are thoroughly unaccustomed to being overmatched in the trenches, but the Rebels shored up their protection of Bo Wallace in the second half and he delivered three touchdown strikes as a result. The running game also shook off early struggles, and perhaps most damning, Alabama's offense was bereft of any kind of big-play threat. Amari Cooper was checked, Blake Sims was unsteady and Kenyan Drake was sent out of the game before halftime on a garish leg injury.

Frankly, but for a gift touchdown that should've been negated by an obvious facemask grab that wasn't called, Alabama would have lost this game by a wider margin. This was the most undisciplined performance by a Tide team since a demonstrative favorite gagged badly against Utah in a BCS matchup six seasons ago, and it wasn't just penalties, turnovers and further kicking woes that brought home that point. Indeed, Alabama looked mortal, unimposing and thoroughly beatable.

Should that give Arkansas encouragement? Well, keep in mind that this very atypical occurrence happened shortly after Mississippi State beat the brakes off the very Texas A&M team that Arkansas couldn't quite conquer seven days beforehand, and Dak Prescott efficiently swapped places with alleged wunderkind Kenny Hill on the Heisman watch list with a five-touchdown effort. The Bulldogs took a cudgel to an already-weakened Aggie defense from the get-go at Starkville.

The Hogs, therefore, may be drawing Alabama at home at the ideal time, or at the worst time, because it's apparent gospel that Saban-coached teams will be especially nasty in the aftermath of a rare loss. But why? Keep in mind that the Tide unthinkably choked away a road win at Auburn last year in an eerily similar game to the one that Oxford hosted, and then, with weeks to prepare against underdog Oklahoma, got run off the Superdome turf by the Sooners. That wasn't the first two-game losing streak of Saban's distinguished tenure, either — note above that when his then-unbeaten team got taken down by Florida in the 2008 SEC Championship Game, the next defeat was to the Utes weeks later.

You can extract as much or as little as you wish from that historical nugget, but you can bet that Arkansas coaches are using the shakeup to point out something. This division, as brutal as it may be, paradoxically clarifies the roadmap needed for success. How does Arkansas hope to win in this league, you ask? Well, the question was posed to Auburn last year, and it answered with authority, and now two long-suffering programs in the Magnolia State are taking out all their frustrations on the teams that had rooted themselves at the pinnacle of the league. (Don't forget about Auburn putting a 34-point spanking on LSU last Saturday night, which planted the latter Tigers further into the pits than Arkansas is at this stage.)

Saturday night in Fayetteville, these rather healthy Hogs get a depleted and shaky Alabama team in their house. We've talked about how those 52-0 games the past two seasons must be sent to the proverbial dustbin with emphasis, and the plate has been set for that to happen, but a moral victory won't do the trick, either. With six meaty chances left for the Razorbacks to validate their widely championed improvement, this is the first and most meaningful. To kill a six-game skid against a titan will be anything but simple, but as it is often said after a game like the one at Vaught-Hemingway last week, the blueprint on how to beat Alabama in 2014 has been created early and it's one that Arkansas will borrow from liberally.

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Monroe GM Canned
10/09/2014

Missed this by a week or two but.....Ed Oretelli is no longer General Manager at KNOE/Monroe, LA....He was fired in late September due to an email he sent to Bill O'reilly's show on Fox "News" Channel.  FTV Live reported the news on September 25th.   In August Oretelli had his email read on Fox "News" that read “I’m aggravated when I see smug liberals like Kirsten Powers and Alan Colmes on the air. Enough already with these leftists.”


Shreveport Station Names Husband/Wife Anchor team
10/09/2014


KTAL/Channel 6/Shreveport has announced its new anchor team for the station's weekday evening newscasts,5, 6, 10.  The husband/wife team of Dan and Jacque Jovic will be anchoring all three weekday evening newscasts.  The Jovics joined KTAL in October 2012, Dan has been the morning co-anchor and Jacque has been the evening co-anchor.  It's not known who will be the new co-anchor of the morning program.   Nick LaFave left the station in August. 

KARK Hopes the Early Bird Gets the Viewers.....
10/09/2014


KARK/Channel 4/Little Rock has announced changes to its morning program.  Beginning Monday, September 29th KARK Today will begin at 4am...and have new faces.  A press release says the 4am to 5am hour will be hosted by Aaron Nolan and meteorologist Natalie Walters.  

"We've seen a trend of people waking up earlier and either turning on the television or jumping on social media," said KARK 4 News Director Austin Kellerman.  "This additional hour will be targeted specifically to them."

 Mallory Brooks and meteorologist Greg Dee will join the pair for the 5am to 7am hours.  KARK Today will be the earliest starting morning program in the Little Rock market as all the others begin at 4:30am. 

Former KTHV Sportscaster Passes Away
10/09/2014

Former KTHV/Channel 11/Little Rock Sportscaster Max Morgan has passed away.  Morgan was on the air at Channel 11 during the 1980's.  According to KTHV, Morgan left Little Rock in 1989 for Baltimore..then on to KDFW in Dallas for 20 years.  Morgan was in the hospital being treated for congestive heard failure and passed away Monday.   KTHV has a tribute posted on its website. 

7 Is The One in July 2014
10/09/2014

Better late than never huh?  The numbers from the July Nielson Ratings book are in.  Arkansas Business.com has all the numbers and analysis for your viewing pleasure.   The numbers show KATV swept all but one of the news broadcasts for the month of July. 


KATV Hires New Weekend Sports Guy
10/09/2014

Well KATV/Channel 7/Little Rock seems to have found its new weekend sports anchor.  Kyle Deckelbaum from WKBT/Channel 8/La Crosse, WI is joing the Channel 7 crew.  Kyle is a Washington DC native.Kyle posted his departure from WKBT on its sports face book page.




KATV Weekend Sports Anchor Says Goodbye
10/09/2014

KATV/Channel 7/Little Rock weekend sports anchor Robert Burton signed off Sunday night.Burton is moving to Washington DC 's WJLA.   Burton had been  at channel 7 since 2011.  


KTAL Texarkana Newsroom Evacuated...
10/09/2014

This from the tip box:

KTAL TV Texarkana newsroom evacuated today after suspicious substance/device found inside.

I wasn't even aware had a live living newsroom in Texarkana anymore.  I know they have their call letters and logo on the outside of a building on Summerhill Road.  I thought when they pulled out of Central Mall that was it for a studio/newsroom in Texarkana.


Long Time NWA Anchor Leaving
10/09/2014


KNWA has announced long time anchor Neile Jones is leaving the station.

The announcement states Jones will be moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma to be closer to her family. Jones joined KNWA in 1997. You'll find the entire announcement HERE







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