The line is open early. Bits and pieces:
* DEBATE UPDATE: Debate thoughts? I thought Obama had edge by hitting Romney's ever-changing positions and his fantasy math on defense spending. I don't think it's a game-changer for anybody. Romney again long on platitudes, short on specifics, particularly since he can't say outright that he'd like to go to war with somebody and use all that expensive new military hardware.
* TOM COTTON FOR PRESIDENT: Interesting line in the latest in a long series of tributes in the Weekly Standard to the love of their life, 4th District Republican Tom Cotton:
If his lack of political experience is a drawback, you’d never know it. He’s an impressive candidate, knowledgeable on issues, seems bound to attract attention in Washington, and is blessed with bright prospects for gaining still higher office. John Goodson, a trial lawyer and longtime Democratic powerhouse in Texarkana, says Cotton is “going to be our congressman, then our senator, then our president.”
Goodson didn't mention governor, which may or may not mean his newish wife, Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson, might still have a hankering in that direction. Tim Griffin might say something about the love letter to Cotton's suggestion that he'll go after Mark Pryor in two years.
* STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: Blanche Lincoln and Mike Huckabee are listed as co-authors of an op-ed on the importance of foreign aid.
* FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Term-limited state Rep. Kathy Webb, co-chair of the Joint Budget Committee, told the AP today that she supported the medical marijuana initiative. I'd predict voters will favor it in her legislative district. I know one who does.
* ETHICS IN REVIEW: The state Ethics Commission will review whether Republican legislative candidate John Hutchison of Harrisburg violated prohibitions against use of campaign money for personal expenses by paying himself some $4,000 in living expenses, paying his daughter for rental of an office and making a payment to the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce. Hutchison has defended the living expenses as allowable replacement of lost wages from a job he stopped while campaigning.
* COMING TO ARKANSAS? I think Texas is probably a pretty good predictor of what Republican dominance in Arkansas could mean.
Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Dr. Kyle Janek announced this week that its newly created state health program for low-income women will not include Planned Parenthood or any of its affiliates, and if a federal court orders it to include the women’s health provider in the state-run program officials will shutter the program rather than let Planned Parenthood participate.
Currently the federal government pays for about 90 percent of Texas’ $39-million-a-year Women’s Health Program. But that funding is at risk after Texas voted to exclude Planned Parenthood or any of its affiliates from being included in the program.
The current federal-state health program provides contraception and health screenings. The state-funded program will provide those services plus treatment of certain sexually transmitted diseases, Janek said.
It's the Republican way. Agree with us on all things or we will punish you. What's next? No medical insurance for people who insist on seeing a gay doctor?
While we're at it: Meet another religious extremist Republican candidate (is there any other kind?) from Kansas.
* PLANNED PARENTHOOD FIGHTS BACK: Nice timing given the above. Planned Parenthood now as an advocacy organization here, Planned Parenthood Voters of Arkansas.
“We will focus on ensuring access to comprehensive, affordable reproductive health care for all,” said PPVA Board Chair Jessica Xan DeLoach. “We’ll be at the capital and in communities across the state, advocating for access to health care, education programs, and vital prevention policies.”
PPVA will engage in lobbying, issues education, pro-choice voter identification, education and mobilization. The organization and all efforts are supported entirely by independent donations and managed by a Board of Directors.