Or is it the Daisy Bates open line? The civil rights leader also is included in today’s state holiday observance. PS — Yes, we’ve changed the blog format to go to a short introduction with the remainder of a single post on a continuation of the item.

Other news:


* APARTMENT FIRE: At the Chapel Ridge apartments at Chenal Parkway and Highway 300. Channel 4 has coverage. Eight apartments burned.

* WHEELING AND DEALING: No response so far from Sen. Jane English to my question of whether 1) she’s decided to support private and option and 2) she got significant political consideration, perhaps a slice of surplus revenue, for a favorite project. Fast-track the veterans home in hometown NLR, maybe? Her vote would put it over the top in state Senate.


* IN DEFENSE OF MARK PRYOR: Former U.S. Rep. Marion Berry has battled illness since his retirement from Congress, but he sounded in fighting trim today with an op-ed column first published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette defending U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor against a previous op-ed by Republican Sheffield Nelson. It follows:

Setting the record straight on Sheffield Nelson’s ‘smack talk’


By Marion Berry

One of the things I’ve always loved about Arkansas is its sense of dignity. Sure, when we disagree, we huff and argue and kick the dirt, but at the end of the day, Arkansans respect each other, even if they disagree.

That wasn’t the case a couple of weeks ago in a guest column in this newspaper. There was no dignity, no respect, just some more smack talk from the same old partisan folks about my friend Mark Pryor.

I know a thing or two about Arkansas politics, so I decided it was time to set the record straight.


A Republican insider like Sheffield Nelson has every right to share his opinion, just like anyone else. But I’m not writing because he took a cheap shot at Mark, a good old-fashioned public servant.

I’m writing because the readers here deserve better.

I’m one of scores of folks in our state who were friends with Mark Pryor long before he was our senator. And any one of us can tell you that his Christian faith is as true as the day is long. But I shouldn’t have to tell you that. Go to church with Mark on Sunday. You’ll see.

Mr. Nelson knows better. But he chose to use this space to spit out garbage about Mark and question his faith, a fellow Arkansan who he knows personally.

Why take shots at a neighbor, Mr. Nelson? Down in south Arkansas County, where I come from, people deal straight with each other.

Now I get that Mark is in a dogfight with Congressman Tom Cotton, an ambitious young man from Harvard who thinks he’s already up for a promotion.

But I happen to know a thing or two about representing Arkansans in Congress, and I’ve got some real concerns with Congressman Cotton as he steps up his political ambitions by trying to take down Mark with the help of his Washington special-interest backers spending millions to get him elected.

These are the same guys that told Congressman Cotton to vote against Medicare, the farm bill, student loans and disaster assistance. Well, folks, he listened, and now these shady groups are spending a fortune to lie to Arkansans about Mark’s record. Y’all have seen the ads.

When Mr. Nelson, Congressman Cotton’s political ally, tried to question Mark’s deep Christian faith here in this newspaper, I suppose it’s because he’s trying to distract folks from Cotton’s irresponsible and downright reckless record in Congress.


But attacking someone’s faith is like shooting ducks in a pool: It’s an easy shot, but it’s a cheap one.

Mr. Nelson said he couldn’t find an example where someone in politics had embraced the Bible before. Well, sir, you didn’t look too hard now, did you?

Here in Arkansas, both Democrats and Republicans hold our Bible close, and we aren’t ashamed about it. Look, folks, this Senate race is about one thing: what’s best for Arkansas. And there is a clear choice for Arkansans in November. You’ve got Tom Cotton, who was the only congressman from Arkansas irresponsible enough to vote against Social Security, veterans benefits, and disaster relief that families here needed to recover after last year’s floods and ice. He opposed equal pay for women and even voted against affordable student loans, the same federal loans he used to pay for his Harvard education.

Folks, that’s called climbing the ladder and lifting it up after you.

And then there’s Mark, a good man who listens to Arkansans and always puts us first. He continues to fight against cuts to Medicare and Social Security while looking for responsible ways to cut spending that don’t harm our senior citizens, veterans or working families. Mark has sponsored bills to help wounded warriors and relieve the VA filing backlog. Need more? Well, Mark supports paycheck fairness and Arkansas’ minimum-wage increase.

So Congressman Cotton’s partisan buddies can spread whatever trash they like. While they’re doing that, Mark will continue fighting for Arkansas with his faith as his foundation.

They’ll keep talking, he’ll keep working.