by Max Brantley
The Thursday line commences. I close out with:
* GOLF: President Obama says it's his "personal opinion" that Augusta National Golf Club should admit women. Only in the pinched, narrow world of a paternalistic political clique could this be considered controversial. But males still dominate the corporate world and the political world that's busy passing legislation restricting women's rights. There are even some women who support second-class status for their gender. UPDATE: Shazam! Mitt Romney sides with the wimminfolk on this one.
* HERE COMES, JUDGE: The out-of-control partisan judge who demanded a homework assignment from the Obama administration because of the president's remarks on the health care case got his response today, a calm and factual corrective to the judge's poorly informed rant. Interesting that today's local newspaper coverage delved hardly at all into the extraordinary extrajudicial action taken by this judge, focusing instead on the president's remarks.
* SPEAKING OF HEALTH CARE: Arkansas Republican legislators worked over Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford today for seeking approval of a federal payment of more than $7 million to plan the insurance exchanges meant to cover many people now uninsured under health law. They had all kinds of objections, but the core is massive resistance to the law. Why, they said, it might be unconstitutional. When's the last time a state got away with ignoring a federal law by contending it was unconstitutional? The late, lamented civil rights resistance comes to mind. Bradford has said if the law goes away, the money and planning goes away. meanwhile, Arkansas risks a loss of much more for failing to plan for the eventuality. Approval of the deal failed in committee. Needing 12 votes, it got 10, with four Republicans voting no and several absent. Rep. Linda Tyler's vote for the common sense path of taking available money to implement something that remains the law of the land will, naturally, be used against her in demagoguery by Jason Rapert, opposing her for a Senate seat. His path is potentially far more costly to the state, not to mention damaging to people in need of health insurance. But Rapert knows that chanting "Obamacare" repeatedly is far more effective politically than the complicated, albeit, factual explanation.
* NOT IN OUR FRONT YARD: The board of directors of the Methodist Children's Home approved a resolution today opposing any acquisition of its land by the Little Rock Technology Park Authority. The Oak Forest facility is located in one of three areas under consideration by the Authority.
* IT'S THE ECONOMY STUPID: Unemployment claims fall to four-year low.
* NEWT BOMBS: Gingrich's health care "think tank" has filed for bankruptcy protection with $10 million in debts and virtually no assets. You have to wonder how much went into Newt's — or Tiffany's — pockets.
* FREE MULCH: It's spring, haven't you noticed. Pulaski County announces free mulch giveaway April 13 and 14 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 3200 Woodrow Street. First come, first served. Giveaway ends when mulch is gone.
* ELECTION CONTEST: Former state Rep. Fred Smith and the Democratic Party argued in court today before Circuit Judge Mary McGowan whether he was eligible to run for the legislature given his felony conviction, a charge dismissed recently after his completion of probation. Arguments centered on what constitutes a conviction, a party spokesman said. No ruling at last report. Smith is trying to challenge Rep. Hudson Hallum in the Democratic primary. The party tried to disqualify him, but the secretary of state's office said it acted too late to do so. More details of hearing here. UPDATE AND CORRECTION: It was a federal judge in the lawsuit over the state's drawing of lines for state Senate districts who Thursday denied a dismissal motion and set a May 7 trial for the complaint that the districts discriminate against blacks.