Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:
Texarkana Gazette, Jan. 5, 2013:
New Washington power structure doesn't look that much different
Well, the 112th Congress is history and the 113h is now on the job. And things look pretty much as they have for the last four years.
The Republicans still have comfortable control of the House of Representatives. The Democrats still have the Senate (and are a couple of seats stronger.) There are almost 100 new faces in the House this session, but the balance of power is still the same_unless one counts internal strife between moderate and hard-right Republicans.
U.S. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, was re-elected as Speaker of the House, despite his relative unpopularity with (and inability to keep much control of) the Tea Party faction within his party's lawmakers. U.S. Rep Eric Cantor, R-Va., keeps his office as House Majority Leader while U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., still holds the reins on the Democratic side.
Across the Capitol, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, remains the Majority Leader of the Senate. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., still helms the GOP as Minority Leader. In the ranks there are a few new faces as well. But that doesn't portend a change in the status quo.
No major changes over at the Executive Branch either, where President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are still standing after the brutal election season.
Which all adds up to ... well ... more of the same.
Republicans and Democrats will squabble. They will each try to get what they want done and keep the other side from getting what it wants.
Republicans will continue to try and block, and Democrats will continue to support, anything the White House wants done.
And it seems a sure bet that all sides will continue to put partisan politics and power above the good of the nation.
So if you enjoyed the past four years, then you will likely love the next four. If you didn't then your view isn't going to change much.
Southwest Times-Record, Jan. 7, 2013:
Life too precious to lose to violence
A family gathered Saturday to mourn a loved one taken from them as her life was just beginning.
Aleya Teshay Criswell was young, just 21, when she was simply riding in a van Dec. 29. The van carrying seven people was near the intersection of May and North L streets after 2 p.m. that Saturday when police allege a 23-year-old Fort Smith man pulled out a pistol and began firing at the van. Criswell was shot in the lower back and was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
"It saddens me that such a young life like hers has been taken so suddenly," Criswell's great-uncle, Michael Enoch, said last week.
"Aleya was a very smart, kind-hearted person," Marquita Thompson, Criswell's cousin, told the Times Record last week. "She loved to sing and was always smiling; even on her worst day, she would give you the clothes off her back."
Criswell's loved ones and members of the community gathered Thursday for a candlelight vigil at Spradling Park, a place where Criswell liked to take her nieces and nephews. Criswell thought of the children as her own, said her grandmother, Martha Thompson.
State Rep. George McGill, D-Fort Smith, about to serve his first term in office, attended the vigil. He addressed the crowd, saying, "Too many young people have paid the price of senseless violence. Please, young people, hear me now: it has to stop."
Some of those marching along Spradling Avenue on Thursday night carried balloons they later released as well as signs that read, "Stop the violence" and "Put down the gun."
Stop the violence. Put down the guns.
El Dorado News-Times, Jan. 8, 2013:
Here comes 'Biden Boo-Boo'
Move over, Kim Kardashian. Step aside, Donald Trump. Make way, Honey Boo Boo.
It seems there may be another reality show superstar waiting in the wings - our own vice president, Joe Biden.
And no, we're not kidding.
Biden, it so happens, is the subject of a new petition posted on the White House website which calls for the politician to have his own reality show on the television news network C-SPAN.
Of course, who can be sure how serious this petition is? After all, it was launched by the same website that gave us the idea of every state seceding from the union in protest against President Obama's re-election, but we have to admit that the prospect is intriguing.
After all, stranger things have happened ... consider "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," ''Amish Mafia" and "My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding," to name a very few.
The former senator from Delaware has been well known for his quirky remarks and bright, ready smile throughout his tenure in Washington, but it was his comments caught on camera during the swearing in of the 113th Congress last week that caught the attention of internet surfers. While welcoming the senators and their families, Biden exchanged jokes and off-beat remarks with them as they posed for photos, saying such things as "If you ever need any help on your pecs, let me know," and "You've got beautiful eyes, mom," to one senator's mother. He has also appeared on the NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation," and was once caught by a live mic telling Obama before an official address that passage of health-care reform was "a big (expletive) deal." He also singlehandedly made "malarkey" one of the most looked-up words of 2012 by using it in a vice presidential debate.
Evidently, enough people think the veep is such a hoot that they created the petition urging the Obama administration to allow cameras into the daily activities of Biden, thus creating a one-of-a-kind reality show for the network which, let's face it, could use a little levity.
The petition reads: "Vice President Joe Biden has a demonstrated ability to bring people together, whether at the negotiating table or at the neighborhood diner. We, therefore, urge the Obama Administration to authorize the production of a recurring C-SPAN television program featuring the daily activities and interactions of the Vice President with elected officials, foreign dignitaries and everyday American families.
"Such a program would educate the American public about the duties and responsibilities of their Vice President, while providing a glimpse of the lighthearted side of politics even in the midst of contentious and divisive national debates."
Sounds good to us, and we do believe that we would watch a Biden reality show ... at least once.
Who needs Snooki when you have good old Joe?