by Max Brantley
It's open for your comments. Closing out:
* TODAY IN HISTORY: Former Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller died on this day in 1973 of pancreatic cancer. He was only 60. Imagine what Rockefeller might think about the philosophy of today's Arkansas Republican Party.
* CALLING ALL VETERANS: U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin is having a breakfast — invitation only — for his "veterans advisory committee" at 8 a.m. tomorrow at the Doubletree Hotel. It is closed to the public, I was informed. This is in advance of his meeting later in the morning with Republican Rep. Jeff Miller, chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee, and VA officials over the proposed vets center on Main Street. I'd be surprised if Griffin has invited any veterans who'll publicly challenge his inexplicable opposition to the VA moving ahead with a well-studied and explained plan for an expanded vets center on Main. All the vets who've called me unhappy about Griffin's position say they know nothing about the breakfast. A press conference is scheduled at 11 tomorrow at the VA hospital at the conclusion of the meetings. The expectation is that Griffin and Miller will blister the VA, though they've apparently followed the law, answered every question thrown at them and have a contract ready to be fulfilled to provide a more suitable place for veterans committed to improving their lives. What? Do these vets think the country owes them something? BTW: When Griffin talks about a lack of notice — despite a six-year search and newspaper ads — about a vets center relocation, ask him if the city gave any notice about the homeless center it's putting on Confederate Boulevard, the dump to which he and the mayor have talked about consigning veterans (though the law bars use of federal money for non-vets.) UPDATE: In an interview with Roby Brock, Griffin made it clear he plans to pound the VA. He suggests they somehow broke rules, though he has named none. He's going to try to differentiate between VA and veterans, but if VA can't serve them he's soiling the veterans. But he'd rather beat up a bureaucrat than help a vet.
* EQUAL RIGHTS IN GEORGIA: Some spunky Georgia Democratic women are fighting back at the increasing Republican assault on women's reproductive rights. They've introduced legislation to ban health insurance coverage of vasectomies.
"Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies," said bill author Yasmin Neal in a statement. "It is patently unfair that men can avoid unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly, while women's ability to decide is constantly up for debate throughout the United States."
* STILL MORE EQUAL RIGHTS: A California judge, Bush appointee, says the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. An infringement on federalism by abridging rights granted by individual states.