by Max Brantley
Thank goodness it's Friday. I just wish it was December. Final words:
* HURRY SUNDOWN: It was a record 105 at 2 p.m. in Little Rock. Edged up to 106. Fires reported in Hot Spring and Clark counties. The fire in Hot Spring county, near Amity, has prompted the evacuation of a number of homes.
* PUT UP OR SHUT UP: Third District Democratic congressional candidate Ken Aden issued a statement today saying he'll have no further comment on Democrat-Gazette reporting about apparent misrepresentations he's made about his military record until he has received a complete copy of his record from military authorities. He says he's the only person entitled to that and the D-G's reporting has not relied on the full record. Blue Arkansas blog got it about right in its post on the issue yesterday. If the D-G is wrong (and so far, the evidence is that they are right), Aden must prove it quickly. If not, he must apologize and try to move on. It's sad. A seemingly well-intentioned young man took on an impossible race against a strong incumbent in a pro-Republican district. He could boast a solid military history, including three tours of combat duty. But the D-G has reported that he claimed Special Forces status that he tried, but didn't manage, to achieve. And his campaign materials also apparently overstated his college education. These marginal enhancements in his record wouldn't have helped him much. Misrepresenting them does hurt. A campaign spokesman has distributed a letter from a sergeant Aden served under saying Aden carried a Special Forces designation at that time, though various authorities quoted by the D-G have said he never completed all the required courses to become a full-fledged Green Beret.
* PRIORITIES: U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin and other Arkansas Republicans Congressman Griffin voted against legislation today that would have increased rental voucher assistance for homeless veterans. Griffin favors tax cuts for the wealthy and oil companies. Got to pay for those somehow.
* FROM BRUCE BENNETT TO DUSTIN MCDANIEL: A half-century and not much has changed. The attorney general of Arkansas is still trying to get the state out of responsibility for fostering segregation in Little Rock. In McDaniel's case, he's also arguing strenuously for the means — unlimited Pulaski charter schools — to make it worse. The latest is McDaniel's request for a two-week show trial in federal court to list all the reasons the state should be freed from its 1989 commitment to provide financial help to promote desegregation in Pulaski County. The state wants to be free to again promote resegregation. A question looms for 2014: Can McDaniel's street money buy black support that he doesn't deserve? Or maybe he doesn't much care, following a time-tested Republican Southern Strategy to reach the reddening Arkansas voter. Orval Faubus, too, made sure he was never out-segged.
* THE JOHN ROBERTS WATCH: James Fallows givesChief Justice Roberts a bit of credit for departure from script. In this analysis, it still smells a lot like politics.
* BEST ANALYSIS YET OF THE $443 BILLION QUESTION: Ezra Klein touted this Washington Post reporting on the choice facing states on Obamacare. It comes down to a simple question:
States are going to weigh leaving huge amounts of federal dollars on the table, versus accepting potential exposure from expanding an entitlement program.
Help your people? Or serve the politicians who don't want to spend tax money on anybody, no matter how deserving, except for tax cuts for the rich? In the poorest states, where the federal-to-state match is most advantageous (Arkansas) you'd think this would be a no-brainer.
* THE SENATE MAKES THINGS HAPPEN: A highway bill, some student loan relief and flood insurance benefits for many in Arkansas were among the achievements by the Senate today. Channel 4 reports.
* OPPO RESEARCH AT WORK: Republican Twitterites foretold a coming slam at Democratic 4th District Congressional candidate Gene Jeffress today by suggesting they had him on video using a racial epithet. Yes and no. Go-to Republican blogger Jason Tolbert has posted the video, from a Tea Party meeting Jeffress attended at which he spoke up for the effort in Obama's health legislation to do more than was now being done for people in need. He also told a story in which he said a woman in Monticello told him she didn't want to pay for "no more nigger babies in Chicot County." Watch the video. Jeffress' setup of the woman's comment and remarks he makes after quoting the woman make his disapproval clear. "You know what that really sounds to me like?" he says. "Racism. Racism. Now I know that is not all of it. It is not near all of it, but that’s a portion of it,” said Jeffress. "Explosive" as Tolbert suggests? You judge. It is probably true that racial epithets have come to carry so much freight that it is politically correct not to use them even to make a point. Political correctness from Republicans is a touch ironic on several levels, of course. A Democratic Party spokesman commented, "Republicans should address the comments at the Ozark Tea Party before misconstruing a quote from Jeffress." Republican nominee Tom Cotton will leave no stone unturned in battling Jeffress, it's clear. He opposes covering more Arkansas people with health insurance and that's the real point of Jeffress' remarks, sympathy for the underdog. Jeffress seems a good bit more interested in the plight of poor folks than Cotton, the Washington D.C.-import. Speaking of Cotton: A reader inquires after noticing on his Facebook page that a campaigner working the phone for Cotton primary night was Arkansas Lottery exec Julie Baldridge, a former aide to a couple of Democrats, U.S. Rep. Ray Thornton and Death Star Bob Johnson. Sure. We've mentioned her support for Cotton previously. There's no bar on state employees volunteering after hours in federal campaigns.