Dr. Boozman's Check-up

With a humble and heartfelt spirit, we remember today as a day that marked the turning point in WWII as Allied troops sacrificed their lives in order to destroy the Nazi regime. On June 6, 1944, on the beach of Normandy, France, Allied Forces launched the single largest amphibious assault in history.  The goal was clear “You will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world,” General Dwight Eisenhower told troops. 

On the 68th Anniversary of the day that played a significant role in Allied victory of WWII, we like to say thank you to our service members who fought tirelessly and served our country to rid the world of tyranny.  It is with gratitude and appreciation that we remember the courageous acts, selfless dedication and unwavering determination portrayed by our servicemembers. Through the courage and sacrifice of the Allied Forces, along with all Americans, we are able to enjoy the unending rewards of freedom through the acts of valor displayed on this day. 

We will forever remember the thousands of members of the Allied Forces who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their bravery, skill and selfless determination to fight for freedom.

For many people the Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer. However, it is important to remember and recognize the real reason for the holiday.  It’s a day that we are reminded of the deaths of the brave men and women who have given their lives for our freedoms.  It’s important to reflect on their sacrifices.

This article, Why They Serve—'If Not Me, Then Who?' published in the Wall Street Journal is a great example of the very real sacrifices our servicemembers and their families face every day. Take time to read this reflection of the heroes who have graciously volunteered to serve our country.

Warnings from Europe

May 25 2012

Over the weekend, leaders from the G-8 nations met at Camp David.  The looming threat of a European economic collapse was at the top of their agenda.

From all accounts, it sounds like it was a lively debate at Camp David.  In one corner, you had the newly-elected president of France who believes that his nation isn’t spending enough.   In the other, Germany’s chancellor who has taken on the role as Europe’s chief proponent of austerity.  

President Obama is encouraging Europe to split the difference on those two approaches.  But is that what we are doing here at home?  If you look closely to what the President has advocated, you find austerity takes a back seat to government spending.

This is important to point out because we are not immune to the type of crisis we see transpiring overseas.  While much attention is focused on Europe’s fragile economic situation, we too are on shaky ground.  If we continue down the road we are on, we risk going the way Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Don’t think that could happen here?  Well, we already spend more per person than any of those four countries.  We have massive entitlement programs that are on a path to insolvency.  And, in recent years, we consistently drive our deficit spending to new record levels because the Senate refuses to pass a budget.

The only way will we get a handle on this situation is to reform the manner in which we budget and allocate federal dollars.  We have got to get serious about reigning in federal spending.  We have to strengthen Medicare and Social Security to ensure the solvency of the programs and control our deficits.  And we’ve got to cut the waste that is so rampant in today’s bloated federal government.

America should be leading by example.  As the world looks to us for advice on how to avoid an economic collapse, we should be in a position to give it.  We are not there.  It’s past time that we make the tough decisions that will get us there.

You may have heard our conversations with KASU in Jonesboro and KBJT in Fordyce on your way to work this morning. If you missed the interviews you can listen to them on the attachments below. We talked about a wide variety of topics including the Farm Bill, Iran Sanctions that the Senate approved earlier this week and budget proposals that were voted on last week.

Last week our Military and Veterans Liaison Steve Gray recognized the service and sacrifice of two WWII veterans with a medals presentation in Highland.

Richard Manning of Wilford, joined the U.S. Army in 1944 serving with the 76th Infantry Division in Luxembourg. Manning earned several medals for his service including the Purple Heart.

George McCants of Cherokee Village, served in the U.S. Army with the 75th Infantry Division. He arrived in Europe just before the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. McCants earned several medals for his service including the Purple Heart.

Steve travels across the state honoring the service of our veterans in medal presentations. “Gray, who is retired from the U.S. Air Force, gave a poignant account of the difficulties American servicemen and women have endured over the years, and how important their service to the country has been at such trying times in history,” Tammy Curtis wrote in the Area Wide News. Read her story about this latest medal presentation: Local World War II Veterans Receive Honors.

Please Mr. Postman

Proposal Keeps Rural Post Offices Open

May 15 2012

In an effort to preserve rural post offices the United States Postal Service proposed an alternative to closings and consolidations. This is a step in the right direction to providing rural communities with the ability to utilize USPS services while working to balance its books. This is a welcomed announcement that should provide some peace of mind to rural Arkansans. The plan modifies the hours of service operations. You can find the proposed hours for your local post office here. The proposal is a reasonable plan to maintaining services in rural America while working to regain financial footing. The new strategy would be implemented over a two-year, multi-phased approach and would not be completed until September 2014. 

I supported Senate passed legislation to reform the USPS and provide good guidance for it to get back on its feet without cutting the practical access to a post office. I have also been active in urging the USPS to maintain rural Arkansas post offices most recently signing onto a bipartisan letter with his senate colleagues to extend the current moratorium on post office closures until Congress addresses postal reform measures.

“James Jones got the award in ‘America's Classics’ category Monday night in New York, after their first trip ever on a plane, and his first vacation since graduating high school in 1963. He was recognized as one of America's top chefs for making one distinctly American dish, and making it perfectly.”

That is how CBS News concludes their story on the honor bestowed on a tiny, two-table restaurant in Marianna, Arkansas.   On Monday night James Jones, proprietor of the Jones Bar-B-Q, was in New York City to receive an "American Classics" award from the James Beard Foundation.  The Foundation’s honors have become known as the "Oscars of Food."

To coincide with awards ceremony, I inserted the following statement into yesterday’s volume of the Congressional Record:

Mr. BOOZMAN: Mr. President, I rise today to recognize the owners of one of the oldest African-American-owned restaurants in America—the Jones Bar-B-Q Diner in Marianna, Arkansas—which has been honored by the James Beard Foundation Awards.  

The Foundation recognized Jones Bar-B-Q as one of five restaurants from across the country in the “America’s Classics” category at the 2012 annual awards ceremony taking place today at the Lincoln Center in New York City.    

Foodies will tell you this honor is a big one.  Arkansas writer Rex Nelson calls the Beard award the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. Certainly high praise for a small operation that began on a back porch, but this is no ordinary run-of-the-mill barbecue.     

This honor is a long time in the making.  Jones Bar-B-Q Diner has been in operation, in some form, since at least the 1910’s.  Walter Jones—the founder and first pitmaster—lived in a bare wood dogtrot house and first served barbecue from the screened-in back porch on Fridays and Saturdays.  The family recalls that original cooking setup as a “hole in the ground, some iron pipes, a piece of fence wire and two pieces of tin.” 

Eventually, Walter moved from selling the meat on the back porch to a small place in town called the “Hole in the Wall.” It was literally a window in a wall from which he would sell meat from a washtub.  The modern incarnation, the Jones Bar-B-Q Diner, opened in 1964.

The business today remains true to its small town, family roots.  Hubert Jones, Walter’s son, is the present day proprietor and his son, James, tends the pits.  The pork shoulder is still smoked with a simple set-up over the pit.  They still serve a very limited menu that centers around smoked pork, hacked into bits, and served on white bread with the Jones’ vinegary sauce.        

The James Beard Foundation—which is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to celebrating, preserving, and nurturing America’s culinary heritage—only awards its “America Classics” distinction to restaurants with “timeless appeal…that are beloved for quality food that reflects the character of their community.” 

To qualify for the “America’s Classics” award, establishments must have been in existence at ten years and they must be locally owned.  The honorees are selected each year by the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant Committee, which is comprised of 17 people throughout the country, many of whom are notable food critics and culinary writers.  The Foundation is acutely aware of how special Jones Bar-B-Q Diner is to Marianna, the state of Arkansas and southern cuisine.  

I’ll leave you with one piece of advice.  If you want some of Jones’ famous smoke pork, it’s best to arrive early.  The diner usually opens around 7:30 am Monday through Saturday, and then closes by early afternoons when all the meat runs out.  So get there early, bring your appetite and be sure to congratulate the Jones family for being recognized by the James Beard Foundation.  Their restaurant is definitely an integral part of the community and of Arkansas’s culture.  I am proud of Jones family’s contribution to the Natural State’s heritage and commend them for receiving this honor.  The Jones Bar-B-Q Diner in Marianna truly is an American Classic.

I stopped by KARK in Little Rock to visit with their morning show team. We chatted about the jobs report, UALR's new nanotechnology department and the Farm Bill.  You can watch the full interview here.  

Rivers of Recovery

May 02 2012

Rivers of Recovery is dedicated to offering our combat veterans the opportunity for rehabilitation through outdoor-based therapies. We learned about this innovative program last year and wanted to participate to show our support for its efforts to help our combat veterans. We have had the opportunity to get to know the program founder and staff. Like us, they share our passion for helping our veterans who have been physically and psychologically injured during their service to our nation and I was happy to help the program expand in Arkansas. In April, we joined some of our wounded warriors on the White River and KTHV caught up with us on our trip. To learn more about Rivers of Recovery click here.