by David Ramsey
While Max and Lindsey are in lovely San Francisco, here's a few to chew on. Line is open.
MAX BAIT: I was out of the room for this, but apparently Sen. Missy Irvin made a point of going on the record during the Senate's Public Health committee meeting this morning with her belief that the real problem with Medicaid is waste, fraud and abuse. She said constituents were complaining about seeing Medicaid recipients driving around in nice cars. Welfare Queens in Mountain View! I’d say that would make a good reality show but it’s probably not, you know, real.
UPDATE: Max rises to bait in San Francisco. As a percentage of cost, I've never seen any showing that the biggest fraud in government paid medical programs is by any but the big recipients of the money — pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, doctors, hospitals. Some po folk in Mt. View cadging an anti-biotic scrip in Medicaid when she had enough income from slinging burgers to pay for herself? Not a big problem. Missy Irvin is a doctor's wife, BTW.
CHURCH IN CONWAY SCHOOLS UPDATE: A letter from Springdale law firm Cypert, Crouch, Clark and Harwell to the Conway School Superintendent Dr. Greg Murry states that legal precedent clearly prohibits allowing a religious leader access to students during lunch. The school had been allowing a representative from the Christian group K-Life and other Christian groups to meet with students at school.
The letter was sent to the Times in partial response to a Freedom of Information Act request the Times made of Murry. Max wrote about the matter in this week's Insider column.
Murry has asked conservative Christian organization Liberty Institute, which offers free legal advice, to advise him on whether the religious meetings are constitutional. In his email to Liberty, Murry cites articles in the Log Cabin Democrat and by Max, whom he describes as "probably the most liberal writer in the press in the state."
It's not often an FOI response comes not from the public agency required to respond but from a private religious entity, but that was the case here: Liberty sent the FOI response and said its own research is not yet complete.
UPDATE FROM MAX: Thanks Dr. Murry. Liberal isn't a dirty word here, though it may be to you, Conway and the Liberty Institute. To clarify a bit on what's happened here. Murry sought legal advice on the religious visitors in December. He got negative advice. The practice was stopped for further study. The letter would indicate Murry than reached out to the Liberty Institute, with a record of fighting to expand the role of religion in public places, and said he was seeking help on defending the past practice of letting youth ministers come into the school and build cred for their orgnaizations in the public schools. The FOI production only underscores my belief that the fix is in by Dr. Murry. Maybe that's his own personal inclination. Maybe that's only bowing to the power of the big churches in Conway. Either way, I really wish the Humanists and Atheists and Muslims United were scheduling lunch visits, passing out pamphlets and posting notices. I'd ask Dr. Murry — if he took questions on this subject, but he doesn't, having ceded that authority to a religious organization — if he'd be looking to defend existing practice THEN.
GUNS! Today at the Capitol, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously endorsed Sen. Bryan King's bill to allow concealed handguns in churches; and the House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs unanimously approved a resolution to preserve the Second Amendment. Hopefully this will let anyone worried about the Second Amendment sleep easier, though the resolution's sponsor, Rep. Richard Womack, basically admitted to reporters afterwards that the resolution doesn't really do anything.
GUN ON CAMPUS: A student at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith was arrested after he brought a 9 mm Glock to campus.
* PRYOR FOR THE PIPELINE: U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor has joined a bipartisan group of senators urging President Obama's approval of the Keystone pipeline now that the Nebraska governor has approved a route (a signifcant difference from the time when Tiny Tim Griffin of Paron was demagoguing the pipeline last year). Yep, it's election year. Opponents of the pipeline are fearful of damage to Nebraska's declining aquifer. But tar sands must be moved from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries for shipment to China. Wouldn't want to stand in the way of that. Not, certainly, a Democrat protecting his right flank with an election coming onl