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Editorial Roundup: Recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers

July 30, 2019

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. July 29, 2019.

Here they come to snuff the rooster.

Yeah, here come the rooster.

You know he ain’t gonna die!

— Alice in Chains

A few weeks back, a couple of pigs in Eureka Springs made the headlines. Today it’s a rooster in Jasper. What is it about livestock headlines in the Ozark Mountains? Some stories just seem to write themselves.

Seems Jasper has a real fighting bird on its hands. Think Foghorn Leghorn after too much coffee. This bird waits for people to walk by and then, I say, I say, chases them down.

It ain’t funny. Some of us have been chased by these things. Roosters have spurs that can draw blood. And they have this habit of sneaking up from behind, like an ankle-biting dog, and taking advantage when you’re not looking. To confront you head-on might get a bird a swift kick from a two-legged mammal. So they attack from the rear. Exposed calves beware.

From the paper: ”(A) month or so ago, a new rooster appeared at the same residence. It patrols the sidewalk and street in front of the house, chasing people who walk by. A woman reported that she fell fleeing the rooster, said (Mayor Jan) Larson.”

In Bill Bowden’s article, the mayor says that residents having chickens in town isn’t a big deal. Chickens kill pests like ticks and mosquitoes, and owners get the added bonus of having fresh eggs. If that same owner adds a rooster, they might get a little added security against Brer’ Fox.

But what do the neighbors get? Chased, apparently. And awakened at unfriendly hours of the pre-dawn morning. We’d certainly file a complaint or two. Thankfully, the mayor said Jasper’s city council will probably address this with an ordinance soon, requiring roosters to be kept behind a fence.

That works for the attacking problem. But if the noise persists, Jasper neighbors might start investing in pet coyotes. We know Wile E. Coyote never did well against Road Runner, but we’ve yet to see him take on Foghorn Leghorn.

___

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. July 29, 2019.

Robert Mueller is that rare political animal who tells the world what he’s going to do, and then actually does it.

For weeks, Mueller, the man appointed as special counsel to investigate allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and any possible links to the Trump ultimately victorious campaign, had said that when he testifies before Congressional committees, he’ll confirm what’s in the 448-page report he’s already released, he’ll decline to answer questions about ongoing investigations and he’ll refuse to offer any further conclusions about his two-year probe.

Last Wednesday, given the opportunity to talk to two House committees, that’s exactly what he did.

No surprises, no smoking gun, to exculpatory revelations — The Russians interfered; the evidence didn’t prove a link to the Trump campaign; the president’s subsequent actions might be considered obstruction of justice, but that’s not for him to decide. The ball, Mueller wrote in the report and said again on Wednesday, is in Congress’ court.

As much as Democrats wanted the modern equivalent of the damning Watergate tapes, and as much as Republicans wanted Mueller to enable them to close the door on the “Russia witch hunt,” neither got their wish. Impeachment of the president is no closer -- nor farther away -- than before Mueller spoke.

So what was the big deal?

We can say that it is not a big deal that Mueller’s testimony wasn’t flashy or engrossing, despite what the talking heads on the various networks had to say. Mueller’s not an actor, and his appearance was not a dramatization of his report. For those who hoped “the movie would be better than the book” had already missed the point.

We can also say that it’s not a big deal that Mueller seemed tired as he testified. The critique of his demeanor implied that the lifelong public servant had lost a step or two, that he’s a shadow of the hardworking straight arrow everyone remembers.

Those focusing on his style also missed the point.

Even those on the left clamoring for impeachment and those on the right looking for closure missed the point.

The point that everyone should get — Democrats, Republicans, progressives, conservatives, MAGAnauts and Never-Trumpers included — was summed up in this exchange between Mueller and Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican from Texas:

Hurd: “In your investigation, did you think that this was a single attempt by the Russians to be involved in our election or did you find that evidence to suggest that they will try to do this again?”

Mueller: “It was not a single attempt, and they’re doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign.”

How’s that for riveting drama?

Forget about Mueller’s halting and dull delivery. Forget about grandstanding members of Congress. Forget the president’s protestations of how unfairly he’s been treated.

Remember that this investigation found that a hostile foreign power attempted to influence the outcome of an American presidential election, and that they can and will try it again.

“They’re doing it as we sit here.” Let that be what Americans remember about Robert Mueller’s Wednesday testimony. The real enemy isn’t across the aisle in Congress, or the person with an opinion in conflict with yours. The real enemy is a foreign government bent on disrupting our democracy.

___

Texarkana Gazette. July 30, 2019.

President Donald Trump reached deep in the heart of East Texas for his choice to succeed departing National Intelligence Director Dan Coats.

The president tapped U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, the Republican who has represented Texarkana and the 4th District since 2015, for the Cabinet-level position. Coats is stepping down August 15 after serving since March 2017. Ratcliffe’s nomination will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

We don’t think there will be much of a problem.

Ratcliffe is an Illinois native and went to SMU law school. He has been on the faculty of several law schools and in 2004 was appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice as Chief of Anti-Terrorism and National Security for the Eastern District of Texas. That was followed by an appointment as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas before his run and victory over U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall in the 4th District.

In Congress, he serves on the House Intelligence Committee and the House Committee on Homeland Security. Those assignments have given him great preparation for the Cabinet position.

Additionally, he chairs the House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection. Few things will be more important to our national defense in the coming years than cybersecurity.

Ratcliffe has earned a reputation as being very conservative, which is no doubt one of the reasons the president chose him. That choice will play well with President Trump’s base.

Chances are it won’t make Democrats and the president’s foes any too happy, though.

But, thanks to a 2013 rule change by Democrats, it only takes a simple majority for confirmation. And Republicans hold 53 seats in the Senate.

Looks like another win for the president. And for our national security.

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