Every town has good yard art, but there is none better than Dr. Joe Smith's display of sculpture on the main street running through Caldwell, Texas. It's a wonder that seems to change every time we drive through.

[imgcontainer] [img:Caldwell.jpg] [source]Bill Bishop/Daily Yonder[/source] Every town has good yard art, but there is none better than Dr. Joe Smith’s display of sculpture on the main street running through Caldwell, Texas. It’s a wonder that seems to change every time we drive through. [/imgcontainer]

AT&T’s bill in the Kentucky legislature aimed at releasing big phone companies from the responsibility of providing landline service died late this week.

The bill had received considerable opposition from rural residents and legislators who believed the companies would abandon unprofitable regions of the state. AT&T had 32 lobbyists working on the bill. 

AT&T isn’t through, however. The Christian Science Monitor reports that the telecom is trying the same tactic in Mississippi. The bill there would diminish the authority of the state’s Public Service Commission to regulate the company’s phone business. It would remove the state’s authority to control prices on 30,000 stand-alone landlines.
The company contends that it should no longer be required to serve every customer — especially in rural areas — because the federal government is getting rid of the Universal Service Fund, which subsidized rural phone service.

• The New York Times reports that Republicans believe they can get votes among Hispanics by talking about the economy. 

Kirk Johnson reports about how the Hispanic vote may play out in a couple of key swing states: 

The big question that could ripple through the swing-state belt is how strongly that Democratic alignment will hold this time — and for the Republicans, whether the tough anti-immigrant talk that has often laced through this year’s presidential primaries will create headwinds among Hispanic voters that will be tough to counter. Mr. Obama’s support last time was less than some other Democratic presidential candidates received: President Bill Clinton in 1996 and Michael S. Dukakis in 1988 both had slightly stronger numbers.

“If it’s only 60 percent, then states such as Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico are going to be in play; if it’s 80 percent, he will probably win those states,” said John J. Pitney Jr., a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California. “A lot of it is going to depend on the state of the economy.”

Here’s the Los Angeles times editorial page on the transportation bill passed this week in the Senate: 

Here’s how bad things have gotten in Washington: A transportation bill passed Wednesday by the Senate, which does nothing to solve the highway system’s long-term funding problem and will complicate transportation planning because it extends current funding for only two years rather than mapping out a comprehensive plan for five, is being hailed as a bipartisan triumph and is quite possibly the only piece of major legislation the upper house will approve this year.

Transportation for America compares the two bills, right here

• A review of polls taken over the last 40 years finds that the younger generation (the Millennials) are “less interested in the environment and in conserving resources — and often less civic-minded overall — than their elders were when they were young,” the AP reports

• Where will Jim Thorpe finally rest?

The Washington Post writes about the struggle between Thorpe’s people in Prague, Oklahoma, and the people of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, the town that adopted the name in the early 1950s in exchange for allowing the body of the great athlete to be buried there. 

This is one wild story.

• The rise of farmland prices in Iowa has slowed a bit in the last six months, but, the Des Moines Register reports, “continues to grow at an average annual rate of more than 20 percent, Iowa farm real estate agents were told during a meeting Friday in Ankeny.” 

The statewide average increase for the six months ending March 1 was 10.8 percent. The high prices are being driven by corn that sells for up to $6.50 a bushel. If corn drops to $4.50, farmland prices will drop, said one farm management group president.

• The Daily Beast says Rick Santorum is making an “ugly appeal to rural voters.” 

We’ve noted in the Yonder that Santorum tends to do better in rural and exurban counties — but not THAT much better. Still, the difference is enough to get the juices flowing of righteous coastal liberals:

Santorum—who last I checked lived in swank, suburban Washington—has become the candidate of rural and small-town inertia, representing the isolated, aging, often modestly educated and overwhelming white residents nostalgic for a fading past. The Santorum worldview, following a tradition that well precedes Sarah Palin, portrays a wholesome, small-town middle America fighting a desperate battle against corrupt coastal big-city “elites.”

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