by Max Brantley
Max here, on a slow boat to Sri Lanka, where heart-breaking news from home requires a post that I can't deliver in person to all those I'd like to comfort.
Thanks to many who wrote to tell me of the death Thursday of Joan Duffy. Friend and colleague doesn't begin to cover the reasons for my affection for this veteran newswoman, late of the UALR news bureau. She was a pal. A co-conspirator in cackling about the vagaries of the political life she covered at the Arkansas State Capitol for The Commercial Appeal and, before that, as a UPI correspondent in the truly big leagues of Louisiana political skulduggery. I wish I could hear her channeling Edwin Edwards and other deep-fried bayou boodlers just one more time. And I wish I could give a hug to Mark, her son and classmate of my son, for the loss of his mother.
For several years in her reporting days, I'd pick her up most Friday mornings for a run to Conway and the weekly panel discussion on AETN's "Arkansas Week. " Our pre-show discussions on the ride up would have produced one long bleep on public television. She was a tough, enterprising fireplug with a big heart. Happy trails, Duff.
And since I'm on-line:
* FOOTBALL CRAZINESS: A former ASU prof, quoting a former student, reports the presence of Bobby Petrino on campus in Jonesboro. All I know is what the e-mail said. Is football THAT important to ASU Prez Chuck Welch?
* LOWER EDUCATION: Could somebody ask the University of Arkansas what its $350,000 a year "advancement" executive spent $13 million on? Was it a new plan to evade the Freedom of Information law with promises to keep certain information secret in return for large gifts, such as the secrecy that continues to shroud doings in the Walton-financed Billionaire Boys Club school agenda advancement branch office on the Fayetteville campus?
* FINE ART: Somebody grab County Judge Buddy Villines and take the red, white and blue paint brushes from him. Please. Some lights on our ugly new Broadway Bridge are the best we can hope for. No more socks needed on that rooster. And tell him his time would be better spent seeing if he can prevent the Arkansas Farm Bureau from destroying land use rules for protection of Central Arkansas's water supply. Time for the Quorum Court to do right by water drinkers of Pulaski County, not the Deltic-Koch-Farm Bureau lobby.
* COMMON SENSE: The world is learning what the Times reported last week, the Medicaid expansion deal is even better for Arkansas financially than had been originally anticipated. And yet Republicans want to defeat this worthy help for working Arkansans because, who knows, maybe someday, the federal government might cut back support and we might have to spend more as a state or reduce the numbers served. Maybe. This, in the down-the-rabbit-hole world of Republican logic justifies shooting a bird in the hand and NOT giving benefits readily available today to 250,000 Arkies. Republicans want Arkansas, a net recipient of federal tax help, to lead the way on balancing the federal budget, at the expense of our poor people. Rich people and the military industrial complex must be protected first. Who will lead Arkansas if its own legislators will not?
There's more. But that's enough at 90 cents a minute with a terribly slow satellite connection.