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Sunday, Mar. 29, 2015

No Wonder Voters are Confused

Posted Tuesday, October 19, 2010, at 4:31 PM

After 14 years as Arkansas' First District Congressman, Marion Berry is stepping down. What do you know about the two main candidates who are campaigning to replace him?

If you ask someone what they know about Republican Rick Crawford, they might say, 'well, he wants to impose a 23% tax on almost everything'. Causey commercials have told us time after time that is what Crawford is for.

As for Causey, a television watching citizen is likely to say, 'he worked for Marion Berry in Washington and he's best friends with Nancy Pelosi, who is helping him get elected so he can help continue the liberal Obama/Pelosi agenda in Washington.' At least, that is what, around the clock, Crawford commercials tell us about Causey.

So, at six a.m., Monday, Oct. 11th, I left Salem and headed for Conway where Causey and Crawford would finally get the chance to speak for themselves. I was going to be one of three journalists who were going to question the candidates and enlighten voters at an Arkansas public television debate.

As eleven a.m. neared, I had been worked over by a makeup artist and hooked up to a microphone on the brightly lit stage of a University of Central Arkansas auditorium. My two colleagues and I sat while three candidates (Green Party candidate Ken Adler joined Causey and Crawford) stood at podiums across from us and waited for the questions to fly.

I was chosen to ask first and pointed out that all three candidates seem to be running on the same platform: all favoring helping small business and agriculture, all wanting to protect Social Security and gun rights, all wanting to go to Washington to put an end to crazy federal spending sprees. So, I asked, what new ideas or philosophies do the candidates have that separate them from the rest of the pack and made them the candidate to vote for?

Ken Adler responded that, after years of watching Democrats get elected only to see Republicans knock them down (and vice-versa), his new idea was that more independents need to be elected to stop the vicious cycle. Chad Causey said his new idea is an old one:

take Arkansas common sense to Washington to seek a balanced budget amendment and a 10% cut in Congressional pay. Causey also pledged to work for energy independence, making Arkansas a center for power created by wind, solar, and bio-fuel. Rick Crawford responded that discussing new ideas is nice but he is convinced the biggest threat the country faces is "Obamacare", the health care reform package that he claimed will eliminate jobs and hurt seniors, through Medicare cuts.

It, immediately, became clear that Crawford had been programmed to spout his anti-Obamacare message early and often. Crawford had little interest in discussing other

issues. By his staff's own count, Crawford attacked "Obamacare" and claimed Causey wanted to go to Congress to support the health care reform package "no less than 23 times."

Democrat Causey immediately used the next debate question to claim Crawford's main goal in Washington will be to support "a 23% national sales tax on almost everything we buy". For good measure, he threw in his other favorite attack: Crawford's desire to privatize Social Security, let people risk their Social Security by investing the funds in the stock market.

So it went, questions asked received brief answers and, no matter what the question, the two candidates always found a way to attack each other on the topics their handlers insisted must be emphasized at all cost.

Does Causey really support health care reform as passed? He repeatedly insisted he would not have voted for the bill and saw lots to change but admitted some aspects of the bill, including prohibiting insurance companies from denying insurance because of pre-existing conditions, are beneficial and do not have to be changed.

Does Crawford really favor a 23% national sales tax? Causey said during the debate,

"Crawford and an aide have said he supports a national sales tax many times. It's the truth." Crawford accused Causey of going from "distortion to flat out lies". I have never supported a flat tax or a fair tax and that is not my platform, Crawford insisted."

In an after-debate interview, Causey told reporters there is a tape of Crawford expressing support for a national sales tax and Social Security privatization in a meeting with Republicans in Lonoke. But, Causey also admitted it was a Crawford aide who said a national sales tax was "an interesting concept" on a Facebook site. In other words, there is little to no evidence Crawford is working day and night to promote a radical tax increase in the middle of a devastating recession.

Crawford did not show up to talk with reporters after the debate but one of his advisors who did could cite no proof Causey is a big supporter of health care reform or using cash from Nancy Pelosi to fund his campaign, as Crawford's ads constantly claim. The aide, Ted Prill, complained National Democratic organizations were spending 1.1 million dollars to help Causey and union groups were pouring $450,000 into the race. But Prill did not comment on the big bucks Republican groups are, obviously, spending to help Crawford.

The First District has been a Democrat House seat for most of the last 110 years, so Democrats are hopeful Causey can convince voters he is a "conservative Democrat" worth voting for.

Republicans are convinced this is the year they finally capture the First. John McCain took 58% of the vote in the 2008 campaign against President Obama.

All that means, the money will keep pouring in and the attack ads will keep going out until November third comes around and the votes are counted.

The sad thing is, between now and November second, voters will be casting votes based on which of the untrue or half-true ads that are bombarding them. There is no real debate on the issues to help guide voters to make a rational choice on which of the two newcomers is really the best choice to represent our district.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Hello Richard, and greetings to your readers. Here's something you won't likely see from Mr. Crawford, or Mr. Causey... a response from an actual candidate.

It was a pleasure meeting you at the AETN debate, and I enjoyed participating. It was the second formal debate I had ever been in, and the first televised formal debate. I don't feel that I was at the top of my game, but I do seem to recall answering more than just the opening question about how I thought the Green Party differed from the other two parties. I thought my non-prepared answers to the remaining questions throughout the remainder of the debate also highlighted a number of the differences that exist between the three of us, and I'm disappointed that you didn't choose to tell your readers that I support universal healthcare, and think we should pay for it by severely reducing needless military spending, especially on outdated Coldwar strategies.

I'm also sorry to see that you didn't tell them that I want to re-visit the posibility of using radioactive Thorium as a clean-burning nuclear fuel to help bring an end to our nation's energy dependence. Or that I want to re-vitalize the American passenger rail system and put people to work on infrastucture building railroads run on renewable hydro-electric power in states like Arkansas, while simultaneously providing economical transportation options that move us away from single occupant, fossil-fuel-burning conveyences.

I saw nothing about my response to the question on agriculture, and how we in northeast Arkansas can lead the way in using agricultural by-products to generate new business opportunities, such as in the area of bio-fuels. Another idea I have is the government helping to start local businesses that create bales from rice straw to be sold and used as "green" building materials.

Nor was there any comment on my position that the two major parties are allowing big businesses, like insurance and pharmaceutical companies, or the oil industry, to write the majority of the legislation that goes through Congress at present, and how we need to put government back into the hands of the people it is supposed to represent and protect through REAL grassroots democracy.

I also didn't see anything in your blog about my answer to your EXCELLENT question at the post-debate press conference regarding campaign finance reform, and my position that there should be a limit on how much money a candidate can spend, in order to ensure that the election does not go to the candidate with the most money.

In most news accounts of the AETN debates, I either wasn't there, I merely "participated", or I only gave articulate, offbeat answers. Granted, I poked a little fun at myself to undercut some criticism I had received prior to the debates, but I was still there, and still had things to say that I think voters deserve to hear.

KAIT in Jonesboro held a debate last Monday night and didn't bother to invite me. I wonder what your readers would call a state where restrictive ballot access prevents candidates from being able to run and provide voters a choice, or where the media determines what candidates are, or are not heard. I call it Arkansas at present, and I think both those things needs addressing.

I was invited to participate in the debate on KASU, 91.9 FM on Thursday night, Oct. 21 at 6:30 PM, and I hope your readers will tune in if they are interested in hearing something other than Republican and Democrat "talking points", prepared answers that have little to do with the questions, and continued sniping back at forth at one another. I have some fresh ideas for ways to move Arkansas forward, and will take them to Washington.

Thanks for the bully pulpit.

-- Posted by kenadler on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 11:19 AM

The only reason I can understand for so many articles to say "Ken Adler also participated", or to omit that completely is to silence a voice.

Maybe I was watching a completely different debate, but it was clear to me that Mr. Adler was speaking substance while the other two were bickering and arguing in a televised game of "tag, you're it."

-- Posted by kg2495 on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 2:13 PM

Please forgive a couple of typos I found in re-reading my response above. I get stoked and start wailing away at the keyboard, and don't notice some little things sometimes. There's an extra "S" where it should have said, "need addressing", above.

That's why I'm not a news editor.



-- Posted by kenadler on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 2:54 PM

I don't live in Mr. Adler's District, but, I concur completely with what he had to say. Specifically, the media in Arkansas have deprived the voters open elections by failing to cover all candidates that potentially will end up in Washington D.C. legislating the future of our Country. I call it plutocracy/oligarchy in its finest glory...we don't need to take our Country back from the government, we need to take our Country back from the Corporations. Until the media conducts itself as true journalists...we are still of the Corporation, by the Corporation...in journalism too.

-- Posted by C-Rey on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 4:17 PM

To Ken Adler,

As I wrote my blog article, I felt bad that, because of space limitations, I could not include more of your comments. But, as you admitted, you have spent less than $1,000 on your campaign while the other two candidates are spending millions. The reality is, you could have all the answers that could solve all of our problems but, under our current money crazy system, you have zero chance of winning this election. So, I choose to concentrate on the follies of the two candidates who are going to get 99% of the votes. The best thing I heard you say, the clearest indication our campaign system needs changing, was the fact that Marion Berry spent 1.2 million in his 2008 re-election and was UNOPPOSED!!!

-- Posted by Richard Irby on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 4:24 PM

I do understand the space constraints that you're under, Richard. And the comments about the media weren't directed specifically at you, but across the board. I'm sure all the media outlets feel the same way.

But, I don't stand a chance because no one writes about me, and therefore the voters don't know what I'm about. Or even THAT I'm about. News isn't supposed to be based on who spent the most on attack ads on TV, but on who's involved in the race and what they're saying. News should inform, and then allow the audience to draw their own conclusions based on the information. I guess that's in a perfect world. But, as I also said in Conway, that world is what WE make it. So, here I am world-building. :)

Your story, and several others, still do me a favor in a way, first by mentioning me at all, and moreso by concentrating on the silly, partisan tit-for-tat that goes on in MANY races. Just the kind of thing that makes me not want to vote for either of those guys or their parties, and would lead me to vote for ANY other name on the ballot. For that, I do thank you.

And it's great to have this avenue of communication with the press and the voters available. I still managed to get my message out to your readers, and you still helped me do that. Thanks again.



-- Posted by kenadler on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 4:51 PM

I do live in the district and I'm convinced of a couple of things that drive these elections. The first is that the voters don't WANT complicated answers to complicated problems - which is how we get these single-message campaigns. The major parties are convinced that the way to get votes is, like Rick Crawford, keep hammering 'em with a mantra.

Don't want any critical thinking getting in the way of results.

The second problem is that what passes for journalism here is more like... transcription.

I don't think it's a corrupt system as much as a LAZY system. If the media was really serving the public interest, they'd WANT their readers/viewers to hear as many viewpoints as possible. But it's easier to pass on what's being spoonfed to them. And then I'm sure there are advertisers that have a large stake in one or the other majority party.

If it is that kind of pressure, is that the job of the media to bow to it?

Or serve the PUBLIC interest?

If it's the latter and you actually listened to what Mr Adler had to say.. you'd want the rest of us to hear it.

Just maybe some of us are listening...

-- Posted by jcebbing on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 7:33 PM

@Jcebbing is in spot with his comment. The exclusion of candidates that are not of the majority party is a disservice to the voter on behalf of the media. It is rampant and continues to exclude the "we the people" and encourages vote purchasing rather then vote earning. Unless the media like Faux News and others of their "wanna be" shills stop the cycle, we as a country have no chance of a Republic. Nor, do we have an opportunity to escape the corporate cycle of suppression.

-- Posted by C-Rey on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 11:24 PM

Dad used to get mad at me when I'd "early vote." His mainstay argument was "You didn't listen to the debates." True enough I reckon. Hopefully what I write won't lose Ted Adler too many votes from Fulton County. I'll get to "Obamacare" second. Debt first with "best possible scenarios."

Causey and Crawford went back and forth accusing each other of much the same thing - the "others" parties and stances "bad" but except for personal differences, pretty much the same guys. And if you've done your homework, you know the National debt zoomed from $4.2T to $11.5T during the past admin. Of course I realize we had two wars going on. I don't know how many Salem MDs who've served - but I know who one who did. But that was only WWII, Korea and 'Nam - there's a bronze plate at his feet if you don't believe me.

Of course there're those who blame that "black guy" for all that debt but fortunately there's a govt website:


If you watched the debate on:


you saw only one candidate address a realistic means of even partially addressing the debt problem.

Currently the US operates about 700 overseas basings worldwide from the Cold War Early

Warning Base (incidentally the Cold War ended) in Adak Alaska to the Bikini Atoll Monitoring Base (uninhabitable due to nuke testing during the 50's thru the 90's) - incidentally those two bases alone consume $1.2M in tax dollars per week.


There is I suppose a valid argument for spending a trillion or so more dollars on the unproven, untested, JSF F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter). Since the guys we're currently fighting in Afghanistan don't have an Air Force, we - the US could probably get by with the Viet Nam era AD SkyRaider at $100k a copy (and of course Predators).

While there's already the proven F-22 Raptor 5th generation fighter aircraft, which coincidentally Russia, China and India are currently testing versions of:



Our traditional allies are certainly focused on what our US Congress is looking to spend money on:



Okay, let's get to Obamacare:

I knew an MD back in the early 90's who suggested FCH "might consider" partnering somehow with OMC. He wound up getting his picture removed from the then lobby of said FCH. He also got a couple of other established FCH MD's kinda "miffed" at him for suggesting such blasphemy.

And though I admit to some degree of a giggle now, nevertheless I want to see FCH succeed. But the MD I knew who voiced the opinion that FCH was "...unsustainable as currently structured..." received the schoolyard equivalent of "...nyahh, nyahh, nnn-nah-nyahh..." seems to have ,er, at least to a degree, been vindicated.

Spending whatever amount of money it was to put that lipstick on the front of the building... well.

Obama however was not around Salem in the early 90s. He may've been organizing something community-wise in Chicago, but I don't think even Illinois' strong arm politics extended it's reach to the Fulton County Hospital.

Don't get me wrong - I sincerely want FCH to "live long and prosper" - to quote an old Star Trek phrase, but there's a corollary: "to seek out new and better civilizations."

Ted Adler for 1st District.

-- Posted by HDucker on Thu, Oct 21, 2010, at 1:48 AM


Pretty good with last names. Not so good with firsts. Good thing thing ballots lead with lasts.

Truly though, there's about 452 US bases that could easily be closed. Okinawa comes in near the last. Okinawa's outlook has changed somewhat, NRPK. Probably need the base for USMC Ops in the fairly mid-term (2020) littorals, Malaysia, Indonesia.

The UK and the EU - except perhaps for a presence Poland and eastward - with the exceptions of air evac bases in Germany can be abandoned.

Now this is gonna take some major diplomacy - but our interests coinicide with one especally and one secondarily. There's an easily overlooked strategic area the US has a direct interest in, the Black Sea Area. But most fail to recognize the significance.




-- Posted by HDucker on Thu, Oct 21, 2010, at 2:39 AM

It's atrocious that candidates such as Ken Adler are seen on the sidelines, and even more that you allow it and encourage it. Richard, you are as bought out as the rest of them. Your excuse for not bothering to include Ken shows that you are doing what you are told to do, not what you know should be done.

You have lost all credibility in my mind as a truly responsible journalist.

-- Posted by AmyFD on Thu, Oct 21, 2010, at 11:13 AM

That's a little extreme AmyFD! Ken Adler was included in the debate in which I participated and I did include him in my blog. The blog was not, specifically, a blow by blow report about the debate, however. The blog was written to show how the two major party candidates are spending millions hoping to get elected by telling lies about each other...instead of publicly discussing issues so that voters can make a rational decision about them. In a blog, the writer (hopefully but not always) uses facts and analysis to express a personal opinion. A blog is not a mainstream news report in which the writer remains totally unbiased, and no one bought me out told me to do or think anything.

-- Posted by Richard Irby on Thu, Oct 21, 2010, at 2:09 PM

Not especially riding to the defense of Mr. Irby (or any of the rest of the media incidentally) but Mr. Irby does have a valid, if unfortunate "built-in excuse" concerning the duties of our fourth pillar of democracy - the ,er, free press:

"As I wrote my blog article, I felt bad that, because of space limitations, I could not include more of your comments. ... you have zero chance of winning this election. So, I choose [sic] to concentrate on the follies of the two candidates who are going to get 99% of the votes."

I'd feel bad too if because of space limitations as a media person I'd felt obliged to point out Mr Adler's "zero chance" and rather concentrate on "the follies of the other two."

Of course one learns biases early - that's Journalism 101. Fortunately the debate itself (as opposed to the bias) is availably archived online:


Unfortunately, voter demographics in Arkansas virtually assure those "most likely to vote" won't have internet access - and anyway, probably wouldn't have learned how to 'boot-up and reach out'.

Too bad, those under 60 or so aren't included in the demographic of those "most likely to vote."

-- Posted by HDucker on Thu, Oct 21, 2010, at 3:36 PM

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I used to call this blog "Stranger In Town" but time goes by quickly. After a year in these parts, I realize people will still say, 'he's from off' but I now proudly claim I am a "Stranger No More"! After a lifetime in living in big cities, small town life has produced surprises, good and bad but, after more than a year, I love it (most of the time!). I promise to keep on writing about stuff that interests me and things I think of to complain about. I hope you will continue to check in occasionally to read and comment.