Cloakroom Talk

Endorsing Conner Eldridge for U.S. Senate

Let’s leave the 2016 presidential race a moment. It’ll continue without us. Let’s consider Congress. From an Arkansas view.

Conner Eldridge
Conner Eldridge
Source: Wikipedia

The Republican Party has had majorities in the House and Senate the last two years. The party has worked hard to oppose most of the Democratic president’s agenda for both of his terms. Yet, these bodies for legislation (to pass new laws and fix old ones), have failed to put forward much of their own agenda. What’s the problem? They have over 50 percent representation.

In the nearly eight years of the Obama administration, Congress has overridden a presidential veto once, only weeks ago. Oddly, GOP leaders regret doing so, according to USA Today Sept. 30, “White House: Congress Has ‘Buyer’s Remorse’ after Overriding Obama Veto.

Our federal government runs on checks and balances. The judicial branch needs all nine justices. Every time the Senate advises and consents on a president’s choice, opposition makes its voice heard and sometimes quashes a nominee. Reasonably astute judges always have been approved to fill the Supreme Court bench within few months.

The GOP leadership promises, however, it will continue to blockade even the most respected, middle-of-the-road candidates if a Democratic president nominates them. The Grand Old Party plans similar tactics elsewhere.

Obstruction of the judiciary is irresponsible. Especially if the legislative branch isn’t working on laws itself.

Steve Womack first was elected to represent the Third District (Northwest Arkansas) in 2010. He faces no Democratic opposition, just a Libertarian. Womack likely will keep his House seat, but let’s send him a message, “We are watching you.”

We warn him, not by skipping the marking of this ballot, but voting for the other guy, Steve Isaacson. We must do this even though Isaacson does not care for his party’s Johnson-Weld presidential ticket but supports Donald Trump.

Representative democracy isn’t checkers but more chess.

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Will Rogers. For President?

Bookmarks showing Will Rogers for President buttons
Bookmarks showing Will Rogers for President buttons. (Source: Will Rogers Memorial Museum online store)

TULSA — Somewhere in the mist of the beginnings of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists arose two icons, Ernie Pyle and Will Rogers. NSNC has other now-ghostly mentors, including Erma and Molly and Art, but these two men from the first half of the 20th century are the modern mentors of columns.

It’s taken me years to understand why.

I loved Ernie Pyle’s World War II columns, classics of our genre and also of overall journalism. Did those send him to the top? Not to me. When, however, I pored through the collections On a Wing and a Prayer: The Aviation Columns of Ernie Pyle, co-edited by our friend the late Mike Harden, and Home Country, American travel stories edited by Lee G. Miller, it became obvious: Pyle observed, then he wrote it true.

What of Will Rogers? He started out a vaudeville solo act of spinning rope and spinning quips and stories. He turned those into movies then into newspaper columns, among other outlets.

Those one-liners of Will’s haven’t gone stale nearly a century later, repeated especially in election years. Worthy of hero-worship? By the end of our Labor Day weekend to Rogers’ hometown of Claremore then to Tulsa for its museum of another gifted performer, the answer came out yes and the reason became obvious.

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Basket of Responsibles

bushel-picking-basket-openclipart-org-734x800
“Bushel picking basket from the book: Vegetable Gardening by Ralph L. Watts, 1919
Source openclipart.org

It’s only Oct. 1, and my prescription for Damnitol is nearly out. I may not have any more refills authorized. Dr. O’Connell probably thinks I’m popping them like peppermints.

Maybe I am.

This week, though, I’ve figured out a drug-free solution, maybe even drub free: Form a club: the Basket of Responsibles.

This is a third American basket. The first this election season is the “basket of deplorables,” coined by 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton. The second is HRC’s “Other Basket.” Many people in the GOP “Other Basket” would be proud to be with the Responsibles.

First we have to define my basket a little. It’s tough, because I’m not gray enough to proclaim “being responsible” as groovy. (And groovy was nearly before my time.)  Continue reading

Vegan Frittata

My chickpea frittata with flash-cooked bok choy.
My chickpea frittata with flash-cooked bok choy.

ForksOverKnives.com, the website of the 2011 documentary, piqued my interest a few months ago with a recipe for “Chickpea Omelet.” No, it’s not lumpy with garbanzos. The dish is a savory pancake using flour ground from the bean.

The chickpea flour sometimes is found in the gluten-free section of supermarkets, but it always has a shelf spot in Indian or other Asian groceries. There it’s also known as gram or besan flour.

Nor can the beans sit still with just two names, as they’re also known as chana or ceci.

Gram now has a spot in my pantry. A 2-pound bag costs under $10, even the organic version, at my area’s main South Asian market.

I’d been missing frittatas and omelets since going vegan in spring 2013. Scrambled tofu doesn’t appeal. (I am a 95 percent vegan — rarely, I’ll order huevos rancheros at a TexMex cafe, and I never interrogate any host on whether their cookies or cakes contain milk and eggs because they likely will.)

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Tear Down This Wall, That Wall, The Other Ones

Mr. Developer,
Tear Down This Wall.
Pull over the other walls. Haul off the rubble and rebar.
Thank you.

Looking northwest at the side of what's left of the Mountain Inn, downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas, March 21, 2016
Looking northwest at the side of what’s left of the Mountain Inn, downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas, March 21, 2016

It’s a straightforward request but due a complicated, expensive and apparently years in length answer. Thursday (March 24), I made the request to the city of Fayetteville, Arkansas, that something be done about remains of the Mountain Inn, left vacant for ages then partly razed a few years ago. Some three stories of wreckage remain at the entrance to our restored and popular downtown.

[See the end of this column for updates.]

An entity named NWAP LLC of Mountain Home in 2014 bought the property, on the southwest corner of College Avenue at Center Street about a block east of the historic Square. (Mountain Home by the way is not a suburb but 122 miles east.)

Before, the Mountain Inn extended a block south of Center to Mountain Street. That half block of 1960s-ish building, an eyesore for years, finally was torn down, left as a hole for some time but now is a parking lot. A strip of land about 20 yards wide along College (U.S. 71) next to the ugly part has been landscaped with grass and a few shrubs. The front though is nice.

A summary can be found at the Fayetteville Flyer’s May 2014 “Mountain Inn Property under Contract in Downtown Fayetteville” and from July 2014 “Ex-Developer Richard Alexander Still Keen on Mountain Inn Site” in the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. The latter is about the immediate previous owners, partners planning a new hotel who bought the site in September 2007 — yes, right before the Great Recession, which explains what happened then.

All that makes sense, and our right course should be empathy and patience. Within reason. This past Feb. 1, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette began, “Publicly announced plans to remake the derelict Mountain Inn building downtown haven’t yet happened, and a representative of the property’s owners said it could be still longer before the owner makes any substantial changes.” That article is behind a fee wall.

The newspaper included a timeline: Continue reading