by Max Brantley
It's open. Final notes:
*GAWKERS: Celebrity watchers from Dumas to Stuttgart to Little Rock are Twittering and Facebooking about sightings of celebrities in the state for the filming of Jeff Nichols' "Mud." Above you'll see from the Cafe Bossa Nova Facebook page a photo of Reese Witherspoon, getting a Brazilian meal in LR.
* REAL PUNISHMENT — TAKE A MAN'S GUN AWAY: I happened to review Lu Hardin's formal sentencing document. He did have to pay a $200 special assessment, a standard charge in criminal cases, in addition to the probationary sentence he got yesterday for wire fraud and money laundering. He also was barred from possessing a gun, ammunition or other dangerous weapon. I'm thinking the blood-thirstiest of the critics of Hardin's sentence might find that gun prohibition a bit harsh. "Shall not be infringed" means what it says, dammit.
* SENATE TOUTS: Michael Cook touts some new Democratic arrivals in races for state Senate — Tiffany Rogers from Stuttgart against Jonathan Dismang. (Dismang is such a decent Republican — OK, the bar is pretty low — that Gov. Mike Beebe backed away from a more drastic reshaping of this district than originally planned.) Bruce Maloch is aiming for an open seat in South Arkansas.
* WHITE LIBERAL RACISM: Melissa Harris-Perry offers food for thought in The Nation. Why the dropoff in white liberal support for Obama when enthusiasm never flagged for Bill Clinton, despite a similar record lacking some of Obama's notable achievements (health care legislation, repeal of DADT, etc.)
President Obama has experienced a swift and steep decline in support among white Americans—from 61 percent in 2009 to 33 percent now. I believe much of that decline can be attributed to their disappointment that choosing a black man for president did not prove to be salvific for them or the nation. His record is, at the very least, comparable to that of President Clinton, who was enthusiastically re-elected. The 2012 election is a test of whether Obama will be held to standards never before imposed on an incumbent. If he is, it may be possible to read that result as the triumph of a more subtle form of racism.
* AND STILL THE COUNTRY STANDS: Gays are serving openly in the military. A new report today says there are 131,000 legally married same-sex couples in the U.S.
* MURDOCH SCANDAL: It keeps getting worse for Rupert Murdoch. He's stocking up on top criminal lawyers, a press advisor has quit, Carl Bernstein draws Watergate parallel.
* BITING THE HAND THAT FEEDS US: Republicans mounted enough opposition — and Democrats were too timid — that Gov. Mike Beebe is unlikely to move ahead with an Arkansas application for $3.8 million to plan for the health care exchanges contemplated as fallback insurance under federal health legislation. It's short-sighted and stupid, but when has the Arkansas legislature been otherwise? It's one more move to letting Washington call the shots on implementation in Arkansas, as the governor has said all along. Republicans make the argument that federal law should be ignored because court challenges pend. A variety of decisions have been reached. One appeals court decision has already reached the Supreme Court. This week, the Obama administration signaled it wouldn't delay a conflicting opinion from reaching the Supreme Court in time for review next year.
* STONEWALL AT CITY HALL: I got a reliable tip that city officials have been circulating information about how to redraw city wards to accommodate population changes (which, of course they should be doing after the Census). I asked for a proposed map. City Manager Bruce Moore said there was no proposed map. Tricky fellow. I then asked for any documents related to ward changes. He replied there was no "proposed map." I said that wasn't what I was asking for. I got no return calls from the city department (planning) I originally asked about the ward work. This is a good example of how they do business at City Hall. Do you know where your $1 million a week is? Good luck with finding out. Mayor Mark Stodola's secrecy virus is catching. I bet the chamber of commerce has an idea how the wards are shaping up.
*MORE CITY HALL GARBAGE: City Board tonight got the pitch on a coming new seven-year deal with Waste Management to cut recycling pickups in Little Rock by half, from weekly; raise the cost by 33 percent, to $2.76 monthly per household, and require households to use a 64-gallon cart rather than the current 18-gallon bin for recycling. Helluva deal for Waste Management, as per. They also get a COLA on the price and three one-year rollovers. Bless Director B.J. Wyrick for noting a 33 percent rate increase after a $500 million sales tax increase for less (biweekly rather than weekly) service.