Opinion: Doug Thompson and Daddy Warbucks

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Looking at the source
By Doug Thompson

The U.S. Constitution needs revising at least, and probably a re-write.
We can no longer realistically blame President George W. Bush for everything that’s gone wrong.
On Sept. 11, 2001, we were the world’s only remaining superpower and the whole civilized world stood by us. The country had the kind of unity I’ve never seen in my lifetime. The budget was strong. Every military option was open.
Fast forward five years. We’ve stuck in Iraq. The whole civilized world lost all sympathy for us years ago. We’re as divided. About 35 percent of the people still support the president and a fair portion of them are just being stubborn. We’re broke.
You can’t get from there to hear this quickly with a functioning government. We can’t blame all that on one man. If George W. Bush really is a dolt, then the constitutional check and balance system clearly failed to work. If he’s not the stubborn fool that many, including me, assume him to be, then the implications for our constitution are worse.
I’m totally against giving the president more power. The long leash we gave Boy George got us into this mess.
I’m at a loss to declare what we should do. The only thing I’m really sure of is more of a tweak than a change.
Congress should have the sole authority to declare war.
Article 1 (powers vested in Congress), Section 8 of the existing constitution, item 11: “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.”
Twice in my lifetime, Congress gave the president the power to wage war without ever declaring it. Twice in my lifetime, the result has been a prolonged debacle. Each time, Congress looked at the president and said: “See what you did.”
If it’s not worth declaring war, it’s not worth going. I’m tired of Congressmen hedging their re-election bets by letting the president do it. Don’t give me this “what-if” garbage about flexibility, and cite to me a lot of examples and scenarios. Look and Iraq and tell me with a straight face that isn’t a war.
We invaded a sovereign country. We dug the leader of it out of his hidey hole. We let the new government hang him. Congress is going to either skate or get blamed for failing to support a war they never declared.
How many dead does it take, to steal a line made famous in the effort against AIDS. How many people have to die before we decide that this is a war or not? Give us that number, and we’ll meet again and declare it.
Another thing: There needs to be an independent, special prosecutor that isn’t appointed by Congress to go on partisan witch hunts, nor left unappointed by Congress so the party leader can skate.
As I’ve said before in this space, the unbelievable double standard in presidential accountability shown between the Clinton and Bush administrations is the greatest political scandal of modern times. Clinton has an office dalliance and he’s impeached. George W. Bush goes to war on false pretenses and anybody who points this out is accused of disloyalty.
There needs to be a special prosecutor, or judicial panel, assigned to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by the president. This is a drastic re-alignment of the balance of power, but I don’t see an alternative given the complete failure of my own profession, journalism, to hold the president accountable. They’re all over him now that he’s wounded. When he was powerful and needed watching, the press was a cowed as Congress.
When the White House correspondent of the New York Times is shown to be the administration’s housecat, it’s time to look somewhere else besides the media for watchfulness.
The Bill of Rights needs shoring up. Clearly, the 4th Amendment wasn’t enough to stop my momma’s long-distance telephone calls from being searched for “patterns.”
Now, here’s a question: What are the chances we could convene a constitutional convention in the current state of politics and get a good result?
That’s dicey.

Daddy Warbucks

Sixth Street Gentrification

Buildings dozed and changes are being made Daddy W. notes with very little sadness. The destruction of two long time Sixth Street structures took place this past week or so. The old white house that stood on the corner of Sixth Street and Hill Avenue, which housed the Arkansas Printing Co., for the last decade or so, suffered a fire and was subsequently torn down. The method used made (and still makes) quite a mess, though. No plans have been announced for that tiny corner near the railroad tracks and the gateway to the UA campus. And, another old brick building, on the corner of Sixth Street and Eastern Avenue near Burger King is gone. It recently house a Hispanic variety store. A large portion of the entire lot has been marked off
and something new is coming. Neither building housed a lot of architectural heritage, but the landscape – all over NW Arkansas does change. Daddy W. is still watching for the bulldozers to wreck the Edward Durrell Stone designed Carlson Terrace on the UA campus, which is a crying shame. It won’t be long before they go one source tells us.

New Tenant. Mattress King is moving to the new collection of add-on tenets to the shopping center off Sixth Street (where the old Johnny Carson Hair Center once stood) in a little odd shaped building. The three-or-four unit space was built this winter.

Gone to Farmington.
The once busy, but badly land-locked and almost inaccessible Tractor Supply on Fayetteville’s Sixth Street has moved to Farmington. The new and easier to reach farm and home supply store (which has county crooner George Strait as its spokesman), seems much more at home out there in Farmington.

Moniker Fails.
Daddy W. asked for it in this space and voted until his index fingers got blisters, but his choice of Thunder Chickens for Springdale’s new professional baseball team got squeezed out by – of all names – The Naturals. Maybe the Springdale team, unbeknown to us all is nudist? That’s about all Daddy W. can conger up when thinking of The Naturals. But maybe their mascot will be a tree – nope – not in Springdale – Fayetteville maybe. Springdale nope. Thunder Chickens would have been the best. So they blew it from the start.

Spot Not, no more?
The collection of car washes all over NW Arkansas – once known as Spot Not Car Washes – have taken down the franchise name. And the Wash Zone signs in Springdale and Farmington have also been removed (at least part of the sign) indicating that some franchise agreements there, too, must have been dropped.

Jim Ray action.
Yes, news has spun out of Bentonville that Jim Ray, that car selling man of legend, has now bought the Action Honda shop. Ray recently sold out of his Fort Smith Toyota location. So look for a new bike man in town – Jim Ray.

Going down on campus.
A sharp-eyed reader wonders if the community knows about the planned destruction of the UA’s old Science and Engineering Auditorium?  The same reader notes that the begging university is going to remodel Brough Commons (the dining hall), which is at least the
third or fourth time in well recent memory.

What’s up?
The same sharp reader wonders who’s footing the $25,000 a month bill for the crane downtown on the old Mountain Inn site. Isn’t the city supposed to be getting some tax dollars or something back on that stalled-out project by now? What gives? Who’s minding the store, er city?

Still dancing. A remodel is almost complete for one of Fayetteville’s strip clubs on College Avenue. Once known as Regina’s House Dolls and later Stephanie’s Cabaret, the building has been painted silver to match the newest name, Silver Dollar Cabaret. The dances, some say, have not changed as many times as the building. Bada-bing.

Fresh on April 7. The Fayetteville Farmers Market opens April 7, so warm weather shouldn’t be far behind.

Typo Gremlin’s at work.
Daddy W. knows an error when he sees it. Last week, the typo gremlin’s got hold of Daddy’s column and reduced the amount that the UA asked for from the state legislature from $36 million to $3 million. That was a mistake. The UA wants $36 million – or about $3 million a month. But, there was no typo in the amount the UA brags about raising- that is a cool billion, baby.

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