Arkansas roundup

The dogs called an end to our night’s sleep shortly after 6am on this chilly Sunday morning. If there was a benefit to being awake before I wanted to be, it’s that I was sipping hot coffee an hour earlier than usual.

And I had a thought.

On Friday, a tornado cut a path of devastation across Little Rock, Arkansas, over a hundred statute miles southeast of us here in Harrison. I’m not all that familiar with the LR area, but in the last two years we’ve made a couple of trips down there.

I pulled up Google Maps, traced the route we took both times and zoomed in on a specific spot. Here’s a screen-capture of that location:

On both sides of Interstate 40 are the woodlands of Burns Park, at 1,700 acres the largest municipal park in the state. Less than a mile north and east of the highway are the densely populated neighborhoods of West Little Rock and North Little Rock.

This, to a reasonable certainty, is exactly where Friday’s tornado crossed I-40. We last traveled that stretch on January 7th, returning home with Smudge.

No, that’s not really a big deal. I simply find it interesting.

Today’s header image is cropped from a national map displaying poverty rate by county.

Arkansas is the sixth-poorest state in the US, with a poverty rate of 16.08%. Four adjacent states also are in the poorest ten — #1 Mississippi (19.58%), #2 Louisiana (18.65%), #8 Oklahoma (15.27%) and #10 Tennessee (14.27%).

Nationally the poverty rate is 13.15%, with 18 states’ rates higher than that.

The Mountain is in Marion County, Arkansas, which has a poverty rate of 15.2%. We’re camped for now in Boone County, where the rate is 14.8%. To our south, neighboring counties Newton (20.8%), Searcy (23.8%) and Stone (23.4%) are poorer.

To offer a little context, Deb and I moved here from a town with a poverty rate of 3.2%. The rate in the Ohio county of my childhood is 9%; where Deb was born and raised in West (By God) Virginia, it’s 21%. The Connecticut county in which I lived for two-plus decades has a poverty rate a shade over 4%.

We never forget where we are. We love it here. And we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Asa Hutchinson, who served Arkansas as congressman and its most recent governor (until Sarah was inaugurated in January of this year), this morning announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

I’m not a fan. I won’t be voting for him.

As governor of Arkansas, Hutchinson was adequate. He was quite popular at the ballot box, winning with 55% of the vote in 2014 and a record 65% landslide in 2018. (Sarah got “only” 63% in last November’s general election.) When he dabbles in national politics, however, he shows his true colors.

Neo-con. Bushie. Establishment. Uniparty. Pick a shingle.

The guy is rabidly anti-Trump. He (almost certainly) voted for Doctor Dementia in 2020, praised his federal WuFlu restrictions and backed The Vax, supported the January 6th kangaroo court and opposed the censure of Dizzy Lizzie.

It’s not clear to me what Hutchinson is trying to accomplish by entering the race. He has no chance of winning the nomination — hell, I’ll predict right now that he’ll lose the Arkansas primary to Trump. His intent may be to wedge votes away from POTUS #45, though I think it’s more likely that he and Pence (who’ll definitely be running) will end up fighting over the same Bushie demo.

Some might be tempted to say that Hutchinson is “out of touch” with conservative populism (or populist conservatism), but that’s not the case. As governor he signed bills into law that frustrated the wretchedly immoral LGBT agenda, prohibited businesses and government facilities from requiring vax passports, and blocked state and local officials from enacting mask mandates. A former federal prosecutor, he’s also said that he disagrees with the Trump indictment.

On the other hand, he vetoed a bill prohibiting the chemical and surgical mutilation of sexually confused minors. (The Arkansas legislature overrode his veto.) He later expressed “regret” for his pro-Liberty actions around WuFlu mandates. As for the indictment of Trump, two days ago he said this:

“When a public official is indicted, I think with regard to the office, the office is more important than the person and they should step aside.”

I’m not quite sure how that’s different than what the previous House speaker gave us last week — “everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence.”

Look, I know I don’t have a lot of firsthand experience with politics in this state. But I believe that Arkansans are smarter than to punch Asa Hutchinson’s ticket to The White House.

Then again, Kasich won the Ohio primary in 2016. Anything is possible.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB

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