Balanced Budget Amendment the Answer? Pryor says no, Boozman says yes (part 7)(Famous Arkansan, Tracy Lawrence) (Orsini murder trial part 2C)

 Senator Hatch talks with Fox News host Bret Baier about looming government shutdown. (At first Hatch talks about Planned Parenthood and the fact that they are the leading abortion provider and then he turns his attention to getting federal spending down.)

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Steve Brawner in his article “Safer roads and balanced budgets,” Arkansas News Bureau, April 13, 2011, noted:

You might not have noticed it last week amongst all the yelling in Washington, but a Republican and a Democrat, both from Arkansas, actually agreed on something.

Sen. John Boozman, the Republican, and Sen. Mark Pryor, the Democrat, introduced the Safe Roads Act, which would create a national database to keep track of commercial drivers who fail drug or alcohol tests while requiring employers to check that database prior to hiring.

At first glance, the bill would seem to have a good chance of passage. The problem it seeks to address is obvious and the solution relatively painless. Still, nothing in Washington is guaranteed. Pryor also introduced the bill in 2009, and also with Republican co-sponsors, and it didn’t pass then. If the measure fails again, it will be because the issue will be deemed better addressed through regulations or because Pryor and Boozman become distracted by other matters, not because anybody rallies against it on the Capitol steps. Democracy will survive.

So what about issues where the stakes are higher? If Arkansas’ senators can address irresponsible truck drivers, can they work together on the nation’s fiscal irresponsibility?

In that case, as with the Safe Roads Act, Boozman and Pryor, along with their colleagues on both sides of the aisle, agree on the problem: The government is going broke, creating an unhealthy dependence on unsavory entities such as the Chinese government and burdening future generations with this unconscionable debt. They also more or less agree on what kind of tone the debate should have. Boozman is a little more doctrinaire, but neither is a bomb-thrower

The disagreement is over the solutions — on what spending to cut; what taxes to raise (basically none ever, according to Boozman); whether or not to enact a balanced budget amendment (Boozman says yes; Pryor no); and on what policies would promote the kind of economic growth that would make this a little easier.

 

Brawner makes an excellent point. Since we can work together on other issues, why can’t we work together on the big issues like getting a balanced budget?

Over the next few days I want to take a closer look a Cato Policy Report from July/August 1996 called “Seven Reforms to Balance the Budget” by Stephen Moore. Stephen Moore was the Cato Institute’s director of fiscal policy studies, and afterwards, a Cato senior fellow. This article is based on testimony he delivered before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight on March 27, 1996. Moore asserted:

5.) An End to Baseline Budgeting

A 4.5 percent increase in spending on the School Lunch Program is a budget increase, not a budget “cut.” Baseline budgeting is a fraud. Lee Iacocca once stated that if business used baseline budgeting the way Congress does, “they’d throw us in jail.”

 

It’s time to end the false and misleading advertising in the budget. Congress should be required to use this year’s actual spending total as the baseline for the next year’s budget. If Congress spends more next year than it did in the current year, it is increasing the budget; if it spends less, it is cutting it.

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Country singer Tracy Lawrence performs “Time Marches On” Live

Tracy Lawrence

Inducted in 1996

 (b. 1968) – Born in Atlanta, Texas, this country music artist spent his early years in Foreman. His hits include “Alibis,” “Sticks and Stones,” “If the Good Die Young,” and “Outlaws, Rebels and Rogues” from the movie “Maverick.” In 2007 he released his first studio collection in three years featuring the hit singles “Find Out Who Your Friends Are,” and “Til I Was A Daddy Too.” He was named Billboard’s Top New Male Vocalist in 1992, the Academy of County Music’s Top New Male Vocalist in 1993, and has received many other awards over the last several years. www.tracylawrence.com

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Whatever happened to some of the main characters in the Orsini McArthur murder case? Carl Wilson’s story is below (part 2)

Trouble did seem to follow Carl, no matter where he went or whom he befriended. Many of his problems with the law were of his own making.

A few were just plain bad luck. In October 1974, while he was working as a construction foreman at a job in Saline County, Carl shot a co-worker in the thigh.

The shooting was ruled self-defense. Eight years later, Carl emerged as a pivotal witness in the investigation into the July 1982 slaying of Alice McArthur. Alice, the wife of prominent Little Rock attorney Bill McArthur, was murdered by two gunmen.

A few months before her death, someone tried to kill her by putting a bomb under her car. The explosives used to make the device were later traced to Carl Wilson. The man who bought them was Eugene “Yankee” Hall, a friend of Carl’s. Yankee and Larry McClendon would later be convicted of first-degree murder in Alice McArthur’s death.

The hitmen were hired by Mary Lee Orsini, who was convicted of capital murder. Carl testified against Orsini in her 1982 trial. He told the jury that Yankee and Orsini drove out to his home in Mayflower to pick up the explosive that was later used to build the bomb planted in Alice McArthur’s car. At that time, Tammy was living there, but the couple weren’t yet married. While Orsini and Tammy rode three-wheelers, Carl and Yankee smoked marijuana and took a walk to a hunting cabin on the property, Carl gave his buddy a shampoo bottle filled with Tovex, a plastic explosive used in construction. Carl said Yankee told him he wanted the explosive to blow up some stumps. During the lengthy investigation and grand jury proceedings involved in the McArthur case, Carl testified that he had few visitors to his out-of-the-way home. “I just try to stay off up there by myself,” Carl testified. “Even got a sign down there where you come in across the cattle guard: ‘Leave Me Alone.’ ” When asked if he had any enemies, he replied: “No. I don’t do people wrong.” Two days after testifying against Orsini, Carl found himself the subject of another shooting investigation after he killed his best friend, William E. “Sonny” Evans. Carl told detectives that Evans was showing him a .22-caliber rifle in the bedroom of Evans’ home and had taken out the clip when the telephone rang. While Evans went to answer it in the living room, Carl and Tammy examined the gun. The rifle had a unique safety lock on the trigger, and Carl told detectives he was pulling the lock back and forth when the gun fired.

Although the clip had been removed, there was a bullet in the chamber. Authorities ruled the shooting accidental. Five years later, on March 18, 1988, Carl shot Tammy at their home. In the midst of a fight about visiting Tammy’s parents, a drunken Carl pointed a .22 rifle at his wife and fired.

He missed the first time. On his second try, he didn’t. The bullet entered Tammy’s left side, hitting her liver and then ricocheting through her body. As she lay bleeding on the floor of their home, Carl was running around “like a wild man,” she says. Finally, he leaned over his injured wife. “My God, what do I do?” he asked. “Get me some help,” Tammy begged. “As far as I was concerned, he could go to hell in a handbasket,” she says, recalling the three months she spent in the hospital. “I hated him.” From his jail cell, Carl begged for a second chance.

Against the advice of many, including her father, Tammy took him back, but with strict stipulations, she says. “You take another drink, you hit me, you don’t go to church — then this is over,” she told him. Police dropped the case against Carl after Tammy refused to press charges. That same year, Carl went to work for Johnny Burnett’s pool and spa contracting business. Four years later, on July 21, 1992, Burnett was found shot to death in his Little Rock home, and Carl was again involved in a high-profile murder case. While police charged Burnett’s wife, Scharmel Burnett, in her husband’s murder, her defense attorneys pointed to Carl as a potential suspect. One of the documents they used to back up their assertion was a nine-page handwritten report by a Little Rock detective detailing a conversation with a Faulkner County law enforcement source. “According to the source, Carl Wilson was a shady character, and if he wasn’t the triggerman, he probably knew who was,” detective Ronnie Smith wrote. “Wilson is a drug user and probably involved in drug trafficking, according to the source.” Adding to the suspicion was Carl’s soured relationship with his former boss when Burnett fired him. The two men also were in a dispute over a worker’s compensation claim Carl made against Burnett’s company. Burnett was killed before the claim was resolved. Prosecutors questioned Wilson about the Burnett murder but determined that he had an alibi.

Scharmel Burnett was tried twice but was never convicted. No one else has ever been charged. Carl’s name didn’t appear in newspapers again until he was killed. “I got the impression that he was an old outlaw who had reformed,” prosecutor Melody Piazza recalled on the day of the shootout. “He had a new wife and … seemed to have changed his life.”

Once an alcoholic who sometimes lost himself in violent rages, Carl became a new man after shooting his wife, longtime friends say. That was almost 13 years ago. “Carl was so proud that he never took another drink,” says Stan Joyner, Carl’s boss at a construction company for several years. After Tammy’s shooting, Carl appeared to make good on his promise to reform, say the dozen or so friends who have known the couple in both good times and bad. Carl was eventually forced to retire after several light strokes and heart surgery. He wandered around Mayflower and Conway during they day, coffee thermos always in hand. In the evenings, he played dominoes and watched television well into the early-morning hours.

His dresser is covered with stacks of videotapes. Still known for a sharp wit and a rough-edged demeanor, Carl seemed to be slipping gratefully — if not always gracefully — into his retirement. In their many years together, Tammy says, this period was definitely the couple’s most peaceful era. “If this had happened 15 years ago, I wouldn’t have questioned it,” she says of the raid. Standing in Carl’s bedroom, which is still pockmarked with bullet holes, Tammy wonders what her husband could have been up to that would have piqued the interest of the ATF. “I’m willing to accept whatever it is. I just need to know. I hope that with all my heart there are no surprises.

But good or bad, I’ll take what they hand me.” Tammy has a few theories of her own. A family vendetta may have prompted some of Tammy’s relatives to go to the police with stories about Carl, she says. Tales of drugs, weapons and the note tacked onto his closet door may have been enough to open an investigation, she muses. She also thinks that perhaps some longtime law enforcement authorities, frustrated by their inability to do no more than link Carl to various crimes, might have been waiting for an opportunity — no matter how small — to strike. “Carl always had a past that haunted him,” Tammy says. “Society never pardoned him, but I know God did.” She describes a long-ago encounter with Buford, saying that during the McArthur trial, the ATF agent approached Carl in a courthouse hallway, telling him, “I’ll get you.” Buford says he cannot comment, adding that he would very much like to. Tammy’s life with Carl, as well as the nature of his death, have made her suspicious of law enforcement. After the shooting, she and Carl’s friends scoured the house, collecting slugs, shell casings and taking photos. All of these items have been turned over to Tammy’s attorney, she says. She also went to the funeral home before anything was done to Carl’s body and took pictures of all his wounds. “When I saw his face wasn’t distorted, God gave me the strength to take those pictures.”

As she sat in the state trooper’s car, waiting for word of her husband’s fate, Tammy occupied herself by counting vehicles. Twenty-six unmarked cars. Four state police cars. Four hours passed. The officers milling about were nice to her, she says. “None of them were mean or rude or ugly. The SWAT team was what scared the hell out of me.” Tammy finally dredged up the nerve to ask a trooper about Carl. “Is he alive or dead?” “Well, ma’am, I don’t think it’s fair to keep you in the dark,” she says the trooper told her. “He’s dead.” As Tammy’s handcuffs were removed, another trooper asked her, “Ma’am, is there anyone I can call to come comfort you?” Tammy asked for her mother, but she wasn’t home. Her grandfather, Daddy John, came instead. When he arrived, they sat there for two more hours. Finally, a white pickup with a camper shell arrived. “And that’s what they took Carl Ray Wilson out in,” Tammy says. Still barefoot and clad in her white, flower-sprigged nightgown, Tammy clutched her grandfather’s hand and turned away from her house. He drove her away in a white Cadillac, telling her that everything was going to be OK. But everything isn’t, Tammy says. It won’t be, she says, until she knows what happened and why.

 

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