Tuesday, October 28, 2008

E Pluribus Haters

I love this picture! This is a kid at the church Halloween Carnival who went dressed as Sarah Palin. By the time I got to her she had mislaid her fake glasses and was far more interested in the cotton candy than in posing for me. But she was a sport about and I got her before she jammed all that blue stuff in her mouth.
I sent this around to many of my friends. You know, cute kid in a great costume. That sort of thing.
The responses to the picture were unbelievably partisan. My Republican friends-and yes I do have them-were inordinately pleased by her choice of costume. Some of my Democratic friends were appalled.
Here's my advice. Chill. I mean, Godalmighty. It's a kid in a costume. It means nothing more than if there were a skinny black kid in a dark suit in attendance pretending to be Obama. I would find that equally hilarious and would have taken his picture.
It was Halloween.
Lighten the hell up.
Have I mentioned that I will be really glad when this damn election is over?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wish I Had Written This......

The Republican Party used to specialize in gimlet eyed, steel rim, crepe-soled common sense and then it was taken over by crooked preachers who demand we trust them because they're packing a Bible and God sent them on a mission to enact lower taxes and less government. Except when things crash and then government has to pick up the pieces.

Garrison Keillor

My Sunday Feeling

I have gotten many calls and e-mails from all over the country from people wanting to learn what I know about the horrible assault on local news anchor Anne Pressly. I don't know much more than what everybody else knows. Pressly was found unconscious in her bed by her Mother early Monday morning. She had been savagely beaten about her head and shoulders by an assailant or assailants as yet unknown to the police. Indeed, we learned from her Father yesterday that she attempted to defend herself against her attacker. In return she wound up with virtually all of the bones in her face broken as well as her left hand. Her doctors were cautiously optimistic about her prognosis as late as yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately, Anne Pressly died last night at the tender age of 26.

This story has resonated in this town for any of a number of reasons. Violent crime is virtually unknown in the neighborhood where she rented a house. Bank fraud and wire fraud, maybe. But the Country Club area of the Heights is practically a little Switzerland of tranquility and safety. She was a beautiful young woman with a prominent position at a local television station. I have been told by friends in the media that know her that Anne was a genuinely nice person which is not always the case in that line of work. This kind of crime is not supposed to happen to the Anne Presslys of this world. Especially not in that neighborhood.

I do not know if her attack was a random event during a property crime gone bad. It seems that the type of beating she received was atypical of that type of crime. Her beautiful face bore the brunt of her attacker's rage. People get robbed all of the time without getting disfigured in the process. This attack seems awfully personal to me. This is the gut feeling of most women in my life who have expressed an opinion to me concerning the matter.

Hard to say which scenario is scarier: Was she beaten during a robbery gone horribly bad? Or did a stalker or an ex-lover do this dreadful thing to her? We don't know what we don't know. The first scenario, although plausible, is probably not very likely. If you want to go by the stats, the second scenario looks more probable.

Because women are assaulted all of the time.

Two days after the news of Anne Pressly's assault a black woman in a less afluent neighborhood of Little rock was shot and killed by her ex while she was taking a shower in the alleged privacy and safety of her home. Her children were there at the time. I do not know this lady either. But like Pressly I am sure this woman "loved and was loved" in equal measure by her people as well. Her untimely demise is every bit as tragic as the assault of Anne Pressly.

It's just that nobody knew her.

If any good can possibly come from the deaath of Anne Pressly, and there won't be much, it will be the realization that violence against women is at epidemic proportions and that it cuts across all social lines of demarcation. The women's shelters are full of Anne Pressleys. I could name you at least 3 women over in Pleasant Valley and/or Chenal who have been battered. The woods are full of crazy narcissistic men who hit women when they don't get their way. Safety is an illusion whether you live in Walton Heights or in Mabelvale.

I'm certain that the LRPD is doing everything it can to bring Pressly's attacker to justice. By all appearances, they are working slowly and methodically to put this puzzle together as well they should. Hopefully soon they will have probable cause to charge somebody. And hopefully once he is convicted he will be sent away for a long period of time. And yes, there has been much hotheaded talk on the radio and on the Internet that hangin' is too good for whoever did such a cowardly thing.

While I may tend to agree, such talk, while pleasing in a certain visceral sense, is useless. It is far better for everyone to keep their eye on the ball.

Pray for her family. Pray for the safety of your own while you are at it. Give blood. Donate money to the fund that has been set up to reward anybody that has information that leads to a conviction.

And pray for the lady who was shot the other night. She didn't deserve it either. And remember the women's shelters in this state.

They are full of Anne Pressleys. Because safety is an illusion.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Today is the day that I have officially outlived my father. My Dad dropped dead at 52. When dawn's rosy fingers high fived the People's Republic of Hillcrest-or something-this morning I was 53.

Granted, waking up dead sometime before this morning was not one of my larger morbid dreads. As I have said before, I'm in better shape than most guys 10 years younger than myself. Unlike my father, I don't use tobacco products and I'm not married to a crazy person nor do I live with a bunch of children underfoot.

But still, as a doctor friend of mine says, " That shit will weigh upon your mind." And so it has.

My friend Jenny, who knows me about as well as anybody asked me the other day, " Well, what are you gonna obsess about now?" This implies that I have been something of a pain-in-the-ass for the previous 52 years. Hmmph. This is not true. Buck checked out when I was a senior in college. So I have only been a pain the ass for @ 23 years.

Laura the Lawyer has invited me to take upon myself her obsessive ruminations about her teenaged daughters. No thanks. If I am going to obsess about something it will be something relatively simple like nuclear proliferation or banking regulations. In a similar vein, Jennifer Hansen from the Democrat-Gazette suggests that I obsess over the economy. Might as well. Most of us obsess over things we have absolutely no control anyway. Upon the suggestion of a thrift-minded colleague, I have started buying a less expensive brand of gin for household use. This is what passes for financial planning for me.

On second thought, maybe I won't obsess about anything ever again unless it involves golf. Maybe I will get a dog instead. Who knows? I'm over the big hurdle. Which of course means that it is all downhill from here in a very real sense.

Great. Way to go me.

Thank goodness I have lots of stuff to do in the interim. Going to play golf with my brothers this morning. Sure, it's at War Memorial but it beats working. Or blogging for that matter. Going out for dinner tonight and watching the Razorback game tomorrow. Have lunches and dinners planned all next week. If this birthday is like the other recent ones, I will come back from golf to find bottles of whiskey on the porch. I will be a fat drunk by next Friday. But then again, my friend Renee Horton pointed out last year that I was a skinny drunk up until then.

Still am.

Enough of this. Time to go play golf and walk on the course that my father used to play.

I'll leave the obsessing to next week.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Sunday Feeling

The Arkansas Arts Center had a party the other night to kickoff it's exhibition entitled "Andy Warhol: 15 Weeks of Fame." The exhibition features paintings, silkscreen prints, videos and other objects. How they talked the Warhol and Carnegie Museums into loaning some of this stuff is beyond me. But there it was, the Marilyns, the Liz Taylor and the creepy screen tests of the various drugged out sycophants that popped up in his movies. Being the well known patron of the arts that I am, I decided to check it out. Besides, the Red Sox-Rays game would still be on by the time I got home.

I'm glad that it will be here for 15 weeks. It was all kind of overwhelming to take in all at once. Maybe it was the fact that the place was packed to the rafters with other patrons of the arts such as myself. Maybe it was the free Absolut vodka. Maybe it was the fact that Warhol really cranked it out and there was just a lot of stuff to look at.

Or maybe it was the, largely unbidden I suspect, and slightly malevolent presence of drag queens at the party. Nothing can tend to draw your eye away from what you need to be looking at like a muscular male transvestite wearing a B-52 on his head, white gloves and affecting a cigarette holder. I am a tall man. The assist from the heels and the big hair made this flower of the evening at least 6'5". He was accompanied by a woman with whom I am acquainted-refreshingly enough a biological member of the species-who I did not recognize at first because she had cut her hair short like a boy and dyed it platinum.

This was too fucked up for me. So I headed out to the main gallery in search of a refill.

My neighbor Betsy-who hails from Warhol's hometown of Pittsburgh-was there with her 11 year old daughter Caroline. Caroline used to figure somewhat prominently in this space until she got older and grew bored with me. Alas. Sic Semper Old Farts.

Now I know Caroline and I could tell that she was fidgety and distracted. She saw me and came over. She pressed up to me. I put my arm around her and bent down.

"What's up?" I asked.

" I don't like all the drag queens here," she said. I looked around. There was a gaggle of them, black and white, some built like your average running back, yoo-hooing at each other from the bar area.

" I think they're weird," she said. "Did you see the 2 guys in there? One of 'em is huge." She pointed to gallery where the Warhol exhibit was being shown.

Under such exotic circumstances I easily pass for normal and so I tried to comfort the poor lamb.

" Well, one of the two interesting people in there is a girl," I said.

" Really? She looks like a boy. I mean, even more than the boy dressed like a girl."

" No. She's a girl. She used to be married to a psychiatrist."

" A psychiatrist?"


By this time her Mom had come over.

" Caroline is kinda weirded out by the screaming queens in our midst," I said. "She is not old enough to drink yet which helps me manage the visual stimulation better."

" Well, she is really gonna be weirded out by what I'm gonna be this Halloween."

"No," I said,seeing the light bulb hovering over her head.

" Yeah, the guys at the station want me to go as a drag queen. It wouldn't be that hard. I'm 6 foot tall. Put on some bad clothes and makeup, stick some fake nails on and lower my voice. I think it will be fun."

I have not inconsiderable experience with six foot women. They tend to be sufficiently "out there" if only due to their stature. But this was too much for Caroline who put her hands over her ears.

" Ewwww, gross! You're going to pretend to be a guy pretending to be a girl! Yuk!"

Good thing I had a couple of drinks in me. This was all getting too complicated.

I looked at my watch-given to me by a biological woman I have seen with her clothes off-and decided that watching baseball, where strikes are strikes and-forgive me-balls are balls, was a better use of my time.

Before I left Betsy grabbed my arm and slinked up to me.

" I want you to take my picture on Halloween." She had dropped her voice into a lower register. She gave me a wink that Edie Sedgwick would have found positively lurid.

I left. Like I said, this was too fucked up even for me.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Vox Populi: The First Date From Hell

JK met a guy for drinks after work the other night. It did not go well.

" The first thing out of his mouth is, get this, ' Sorry I'm late. I had a manicure today,' "she said. "Then he holds up his hands to show me and, Jesus, his nails look better than mine do."

" A manicure?" I said. " You're kidding. And that's the first thing out of his mouth?"

" Oh!" she said, grabbing a fistful of my shirtsleeve. "It gets better. All the time we are there he is, like, staring at my boobs. Then he actually says, no lie, ' I can't quit staring at your cleavage'."

" No."

" Oh yeah."

" What is this guy? Some kind of freak?"

" I mean, his fingernails were longer than mine."

" I'm surprised you didn't just get up and leave."

" I'm surprised that I wasn't found dismembered under a bridge somewhere," she said, shuddering at the thought.

I felt better about myself after hearing that story.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vox Populi: The Kid At The Pizza Place

Kid: You have good karma.

tmfw: Huh?

Kid: You called me ma'am. You have a nice voice. You are a good man. I'm Asian. I know these things.

tmfw: Well......there are people that would readily dispute that. There are many people that actively despise me. Really. I'm easily despisable. My character flaws are as wide as the coastal shelf. Ask anybody. Really.

Kid: I'm Asian. I know these things. You have good karma. Trust me.

tmfw: Do I still have to pay?

Kid: Yes.

tmfw: Damn. See? There I go.

Kid: Don't push it.

tmfw: I won't ma'am.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I Got A Nikon Camera. I Love To Take Photographs.

I took pictures once again for this year's Race for the Cure last Saturday. I was heading across the Broadway Bridge before the start when I ran across a crazy person shadowboxing as he shuffled sideways into North Little Rock.
Here he is. I hope he didn't get trampled.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thinking about regulation

TMFW is off doing the work of the Lord, so I'm pinch hitting.

You've heard all the bad news about the global Wall Street so I won't reiterate. We now need to think about what happens next. While scrambling out of this crisis, we need as a nation to think about how to avoid the next one. We will not all agree. Our presidential candidates took a while to start talking about the problems, but in the last few days they've taken a few short, tentative steps toward telling us what they propose, but the solutions will have to be much bigger than anything either candidate has suggested thus far.

Here's the thing: starting with the Reagan administration our government has operated on the assumption that deregulation is universally good. Financial markets, airlines, drug companies, importers and exporters, owners of nesting sites for endangered species--everybody was clamoring to be deregulated. The unseen hand of the marketplace was a far better regulator than the government, so we should let the markets sort everything out. And as a nation, we gave everybody what they wanted. The pace of deregulation slowed a little during the Clinton administration, but it never stopped. One of the exceedingly specific results of all this was that the credit default swaps at the heart of the global financial crisis, understood by very few even on Wall Street, dodged any regulation at all. They didn't even have to be registered with the S.E.C. Nobody who dealt with them had to have special training or a special license, the way you do to sell stocks and bonds or real estate or be a barber. Do you know how a tranche works? Neither does anyone in government.

The events of the last three weeks indicate a need for more regulation of the financial markets, and it is important that we start thinking about what we expect from the leaders and followers that we will elect on November 4. None of them--whether running for president, congress, senate, governor, school board, dog catcher--are talking about a new regulatory framework, but regulations are clearly on their way. Everything will be different in 2010, and it's your job as a citizen to think about what that framework will look like.

Today I suggest three guiding regulatory principles and fifteen specific proposals. I am perfectly willing to admit I don't know what I'm talking about and that all of the particulars of this piece are nonsense. But as a nation, we need to look beyond the current crisis and into what we want to do next. This is your job as a citizen and a voter: think about what the government should do.

Guiding principles: (1) Investing is better than speculating. (2) Saving is better than spending. (3) Nobody needs to be that rich.

Here are some inflammatory specific suggestions.

1. Smaller is better. It is part and parcel of American law that when a company gets so big that it becomes a monopoly, we break it up. We should have a choice when we buy petroleum products, so Standard Oil had to go. For similar public policy reasons, no business entity should become so large that its failure endangers the entire country. As we have antitrust laws preventing monopolies, so should we have laws preventing any organization from becoming too big to fail. We shouldn't have any financial institutions big enough to bring down the whole country, much less the world. Ironically, the moves of the last few weeks have made Bank of America way too big to fail. The next administration should thank it for its service and break it up.

2. Regulate all financial instruments. The unseen hand that's supposed to regulate markets has changed into an unseen fist that's punching random strangers. The Securities Act of 1938 was enacted because of the last crash. The idea was that those who placed securities on the market had to meet certain minimum standards about reporting so that investors could make informed decisions. The credit default swaps at the heart of the current problem are completely unregulated. There are no requirements for capitalization, or debt to equity ratios, of insurable interest. At the race track there's a jockey club. In the credit default swap market, there's nothing. Nada. Zip. Because this was completely unregulated, nobody can tell from the outside how bad somebody else's book are, and because there's no transparency in the default swap market, one bank can't tell how much of this mess another bank has on its books. They were neither insurance (governed by states) nor securities (governed by the feds). Trillions of dollars was gushing around, and nobody understood what was happening. Just as GM has to register with the SEC when it issues new shares of stock, Morgan Stanley ought to have to register with some government agency when it invests billions of dollars in tranches nobody understan ds. In most states, you can't sell insurance policies without getting approval from the state insurance commissioner. Nobody with any sense looked at this credit default swap deal. That's just stupid.

3. Make banks act like banks. In the 1980's federally insured banks and savings and loans were required to have documentation, like evidence of employment and ability to repay a loan. The deregulation model that's been with us since the 1980's posits this as over-regulation. Leave the banks alone, and the good ones will survive. Don't interfere with the unseen hand. Well I, for one, favor the old plan. There was no regulation whatsoever of mortgage-backed securities or even of the mortgages that backed them and they have brought the global financial system down. Stupidity.

4. Encourage investment, discourage speculation. This has lots of vectors. Warren Buffet and Bill Gates invest. Goldman Sachs speculates. Note that Goldman Sachs and its former employees, speculators all, are now in charge of the American economy. Paulson is an academic with no real-world experience outside of the Fed, but Kashkari and the others that are now running the economy were all trained as speculators and they're all still at it, only using the U.S Treasury to do it. This is stupid. Speculation is the problem, and investment (looking for and encouraging long-term results) is the answer. Raise taxes on short-term capital gains, and eliminate taxes on long-term (over two or three years) capital gains, and put investors in charge.

5. Eliminate all taxes on personal savings accounts. Really, what's the down side? We lose a little tax revenue, but every other developed nation in the world saves more than we do.

6. Triple the annual deduction for contributions to IRAs and 401(k)s and everything else that amounts to saving for retirement. I there any reason to discourage saving for later?

7. Dramatically increase taxes on people who make more than $500,000 a year. Or a million. Pick some number, and tax it. Here I'm going to draw a distinction between those who make things and those who don't. Bill Gates is a rapacious bastard and I hate him, but Microsoft makes lots of stuff I use every day. Richard Fuld made hundreds of millions for tanking Lehman Brothers by investing in markets he didn't understand. Since greed seems to blind even smart people, let's make greed less lucrative.

8. Repeal the designated hitter rule. Well, since I'm reorganizing the world, I might as well bring it up.

9. Renstitute Glass-Steagall. The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 created the FDIC, limited the activities in which banks and bank holding companies could engage, and required investment banks to remain separate from retail banks. It worked. All but the FDIC part was dismantled in 1999 by a bill written by John McCain's economic adviser, former senator Phil Gramm and loudly supported by McCain. The mess you see today is the direct result.

10. Break up the financial markets. Separate stockbrokers from insurance salesmen and separate all of them from bond traders and bankers. Put firewalls between them so that an infection in one segment doesn't spread to the entire country.

11. Impose a tax on executives of cratered financial institutions equal to 100% of their bonuses and 50% of their salaries for the last five years. If they can't think in terms of a long view voluntarily, let's punish them for failing to do so.

12. Shut down the markets if they slide more than two percent in any given day. If we're going to have a crash, let's do it in slow motion.

13. De-nationalize banks and savings and loans. When I was a kid it was rare for a savings and loan to operate outside of a single community. When the loan officers considered a home mortgage, they knew the neighborhood, and they reported to a chief executive who was a part of the same community. That kind of location-driven understanding, that kind of permanence of place and relative smallness is inherently well-informed about its business and inherently well-organized. Washington Mutual's executives couldn't even keep track of where their branches were. Down the road from me there are two Wachovia branches across the street from each other. That may be growth, but it's patently stupid. There have been at least three managers of my B of A branch in the last two years. None of them can remember what I do for a living or how much money I have. Banking isn't just another retail business, and it shouldn't be managed like one. It did not benefit you or me in any way that Washington Mutual had branches coast to coast or that they were managed like fast food franchises.

14. Eliminate short trading. What good does it do? It's the ugliest sort of speculation--betting that someone else will fail. Short traders will complain about being put out of work, but the criminal code puts lots of muggers out of work, too.

15. Require that investment banks be privately held. The shares of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns were traded in public markets, and as their value fell, it exacerbated the panic on Wall Street. Small investors are easily spooked, big investors are extremely easily spooked. Let's give them one less thing to be spooked about.

No one on earth is going to agree with everything on this list, but we really need to ask that our elected officials and those seeking to become our elected officials start thinking about what happens next. This means we need to decide what we want them to do. You took ninth grade civics, and you know you have duties as a citizen and voter. Start thinking.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Slacking Off

I've got too much stuff to do this weekend so Polycarp will assume the usual Sunday duties in my stead.

Please be kind to him as he is a sensitive sort.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Vox Populi: The Election

Got a call f'rom my buddy Smitty today. I don't hear from him all that much. He only calls when he has news about former mutual friends who have blown up completely.

Today he wanted to talk about the Republican ticket.

" You know? They are on to something with Sarah Palin.'

" How so?"

" She is real cute."

"And your point is?'

" That may be all it takes."

" So are you saying that we as the male part of the electorate have regressed to the mean? "

" No. I'm just saying that we all want to fuck her."

"So if the Dems manage to blow this up as per usual they should put....what...Jenna Jameson on the ticket four years from now?"

"Why not?"

At that point I told Smitty that I needed to return to honest toil and needed to hang up.

I hate politics.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Vox Populi: Some Asshole Talking Loudly Into A Cellphone During Lunch At The Town Pump

"You called in sick? Yeah? And they made you come in anyway?

You need to pass out. You understand?

Just pass out. Make 'em take you to the ER.

And then sue the shit out of them."

I would like to think that this guy was not a lawyer.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Oh, Cub Fans. It Happened Again.

Do you remember Otis Campbell, the town drunk on the Andy Griffith Show? Otis would go on the wagon from time-to-time only to embark upon a periodic bender of titanic proportions.
On those occasions when, in the memorable prose of Dan Jenkins, Otis would "make friends with whiskey" he would check himself into the Mayberry jail to sleep it off.
And the next day, Andy's Aunt Bea would show up at the jail with breakfast in a picnic basket and say to Otis, with naught but Christian Charity in her voice, " Oh Otis. It happened again." To which Otis would always reply, " What a mess I've made of my life."
Of course, nowadays Otis would be considered to be a candidate for an intervention and Bea and Andy would be considered enablers. It is only appropriate to adopt the sterile language of the recovery industry when discussing the unhealthy relationship between the Cubs and their fans.
When the Cubs clinched the division last month, my brother John gave me the laundry list of why "This Year Would Be Different." Some were the usual romantic, if not entirely hallucinatory, stuff to which the average Cub fan must cling to in order to get through yet another season. But most of his reasons for post-season optimism centered around Pitching and Hitting.
Of which the Cubs did precious damn little in their 3 game choke job of a series against the Los Angeles Dodger. They scattered 6 runs over 3 games. You can't beat anybody hitting that poorly. Unless your pitching staff happens to be the 1969 Mets that is. Secondly, their pitching staff resembled me throwing at the players' bats at Miracle League. And when the Cubbies weren't giving up dingers, the fielding-long an issue with the Cubs in the post-season-was beyond atrocious. They made 4 errors in one inning in Game 2. I've seen soccer teams boot fewer balls.
There is no joy at the intersection of Clark and Addison because yes, Cub fans, it happened again. But all is not lost. You have the long, cold winter to sleep it off while visions of playoff competence dance in your heads.
And once again, the immortal words of Jack Brickhouse come to mind, as they did at precisely this time last year: " Hey shake it off. Anybody can have a bad hundred years."
Trace it, face it, erase it, Cubs Nation. What a mess you have made of your baseball life.

My Sunday Feeling

North Little Rock, Arkansas is basically a small town. It has always been proud of its discreet and insular ways. However, big things have been happening in old Argenta ( its original name). Alltel Arena was built over there 10 years ago. The old Main Street is now hopping with trendy restaurants and new office space. And 2 years ago Dickey-Stephens field, a state-of-the-art minor league park was opened for business, thereby stealing the Arkansas Travelers from Little Rock. They had only played here since the 20s.

Nope, no two ways about it NLR has a lot going on and can justifiably thumb its nose-metaphorically speaking-at its sister city south of the Arkansas River. But sometimes the folks over there forget that, small town though it might be, North Little Rock is attached to the State's largest media market. And it is not as easy to keep things quiet over there as it once was.

Case in point: A man got killed on Main Street over there Saturday night. Street person known to the cops as "Ace." He had been savagely beaten and was barely alive when he was found. He was transported to a local hospital where he later died from his injuries.

The police saw a bloody hand print on the front door of a nearby apartment. They called the resident on the phone and asked him to step out. Inside the apartment there was a bloody baseball bat in plain view of the officers. Inside, they found bloody clothes in the washer and boots caked with what the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette referred to as "blood and human tissue." And with the grim discovery of those items of evidence, Donald Grace was arrested and charged withe the first degree murder of the man known as "Ace."

The District Judge over there is a man named Jim Hamilton. Nice guy. Devout Roman Catholic. Member of the Knights of Columbus. He has been plugged into North Little Rock politics forever. He presided over the Plea and Arraignment of Donald Grace. According to the account in the newspaper, he heard testimony from Grace's lawyer brother and his law partner that they would check on him practically on an hourly basis. He would be easy to monitor. His apartment is located over his brother's law office.

Based on this testimony Judge Hamilton assigned a bond of $25,000 and home detention although he waived the typical requirement of electronic monitoring.

$25,000 for 1st degree murder.

When interviewed by the newspaper, Judge Hamilton said something along the lines of "Well, there's not much doubt that the defendant is going to appear. That's the reason you assign bail in the first place."

And there is something to that. There is no cookie cutter "one size fits all" approach to these things. And there is not much doubt that Grace is going to show up for his trial or any pre-trial hearings. I know his brothers. To the extent that you can control another human, they will make sure he will show.

But a judge friend of mine who has since quit hearing criminal matters once told me his philosophy on bail and sentencing over lunch a couple of years ago.

" I do my best to be pretty consistent. I do it so that the lawyers will have a pretty good idea on the front end about what I am likely to do. It helps the prosecutor in offering a plea bargain. It helps the defense lawyer tell his client what he is looking at penalty wise. I think the system works better if all the players have an idea on the front end of what to expect out of the guy on the bench."

Do you think Grace's lawyer advised him that he was looking at basically getting ROR'd given the severity of the charge? That all he was looking at having to pony up was $2,500 getting charged with beating a man to death on Main Street Argenta with all of those brand new businesses attracting all of that foot traffic? Like me. Who unknowingly parked my car at just about the spot where they found "Ace" the other night while meeting a friend for dinner.

Not very likely. Do you think the average guy under similar circumstances would catch such a light bail? Equally unlikely.

Am I suggesting special treatment of this defendant because his brother is a lawyer over there? No. I am willing to accept that the judge didn't feel the need to put a high bond on Grace as he didn't feel he was a flight risk. But there are a couple of problems with this to my thinking.

In the first place, you have to be a special person to be charged with murder in the first degree. Anybody sufficiently sociopathic to even get charged with that would have to be considered somewhat unstable and therefore a flight risk. Or at least more of one than a purse snatcher. Secondly, it isn't fair to the other defendants, who show up in court with their families, only to get a high bail on a similar charge. It isn't fair to the guy cooling his jets in the County Jail because he wasn't able to come up wasn't able to cough up the 10% to get the bondsman to throw his bail. And it for damn sure isn't fair to Ace who died a horrible death.

I hope for the sake of the family that there is some reasonable explanation for all of this although it sure doesn't look good for Donnie. But even though I feel for the family, there's no way you can justify that bond given the offense. Like my friend the judge says, the system works better if folks have an idea of what they can expect on the front end.

Who knows what to expect now over in District Court in North Little Rock?

Hell, Not Being Content With Having turned Baptist, Just Put In A Bid For Winter Olympics

The Vanderbilt Commodores are 5-0 after beating Auburn last night for the first time since I was born.