by Max Brantley
The line is open. Thanks for the cartoon to Wolf Grulkey, Democratic House candidate against Republican Rep. Justin Harris. Other stuff:
* FOURTH DISTRICT DEBATE: Democrat Gene Jeffress, Republican Tom Cotton, Green candidate Josh Drake and Libertarian Bobby Tullis were taped in debate at AETN this afternoon for broadcast at 8 p.m. this evening. From Twitters, it sounds like little new ground was plowed. I was interested in a question on what could be done to "help" the timber industry. When Democrats try to help the auto industry, it's called socialism. What is it when the government help is for Koch timber industry affiliates? Or when Tom Cotton proposes an enormous estate tax break to suck up to South Arkansas timberman John Ed Anthony? A helping hand to job creators, I guess.
Noted: Rep. Nate Bell, a Cotton supporter, provided this quote from Cotton in the 4th District debate:
"We should turn federal highway decision making back to the states and allow states to determine what roads are essential."
Would we have an interstate highway system if route planning and construction were split up among the 50 states? Would dollars follow where they were raised? Or people? Wouldn't this hurt net recipient states and rural states like Arkansas? Nice sound bite for the unreconstructed States Rights crowd. But under examination, it falls apart as most of the rest of Cotton's economic theorizing does. Such as his bald assertion that repeal of Obamacare would "improve" health care in Arkansas. There isn't a single Republican alternative that doesn't mean less health care coverage for poor people. That's an improvement only to those expecting a tax cut for the wealthy from Cotton/Ryan/Romney/Koch budget plans.
The Third District debate will be aired at 7 p.m. Credit Republican incumbent Steve Womack for appearing, though he faces only token third-party opposition. You'll recall that Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro ducked the statewide TV network. He clearly believes the less exposure he gets the better. Crawford did appear tonight on some local cable channels in Jonesboro area in a debate with Democrat Scott Ellington and other contenders. Mighty nice of him.
* 2ND DISTRICT ANSWERS: A while back, I posted Democratic 2nd District congressional candidate Herb Rule's written answers to questions delivered at an election forum sponsored by the AAUW and the League of Women Voters. Here are Republican Tim Griffin's responses to the same questions. Green Party candidate Barbara Ward responded in two parts — here and also here.
* TECH PARK TANGO, PART 2: The 2nd night of “facilitated discussion” with Charles Dilks, the consultant hired by the Little Rock Technology Park Authority board to help with site selection, was a more low-key affair that the evening before. University District Neighborhoods Association head Joe Busby spoke in favor of the 84-acre Asher Avenue site, one of four Dilks has chosen from a list of 23 alternatives. Nickolas Jovanovic, a UALR professor of construction, pressed Dilks on his assessment that the Asher Avenue site might be too close to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to appeal to park partners University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital, asking if that meant a site near UAMS (read Forest Hills) might be too close to please UALR and ACH. Finally, Dilks agreed, and in a moment of candor said, “If I had my choice, [the park] would be between the two [UAMS and UALR] and connect them.” He had said previously it would be inappropriate to comment on the neighborhood sites (which are between the two institutions) since the city has declared them “off the table” and that it was his job to evaluate alternatives.
* LITTLE ROCK CITY BOARD CANDIDATE FORUMS: At last, the city has announced air times for taped city board candidate forums. 8 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday on the local government access channel.
* SCHOOL REFORM: A HINT AT WHAT'S HEADING OUR WAY: Look south to Louisiana to see what a Republican governor and legislature, pushed by the Billionaire Boys Club, is doing to public education in the name of "school reform." Louisiana has moved beyond merely shoveling money with little oversight into quasi-private schools masquerading as "charters." It's pushing ahead to vouchers.
This latest conflict reveals the hidden agenda driven by the choice movement. The schools are being rapidly re-segregated, with the full benefit of public funds.
Charter schools have been promoted as part of what people like Arne Duncan call the "Civil Rights issue of our time." They are touted as delivering rigorous instruction for students not currently succeeding in the public schools. But research is showing that charters and vouchers, and the market-driven "choice" model, are yielding a re-segregation of our schools, powered by public funding.
* JOHN MCCAIN IS REALLY P.O.'ED: Because Colin Powell has again endorsed Barack Obama for president.
* HARD-HEARTED MITT ROMNEY: Mitt Romney's brutal treatment of same-sex couples and their children as Massachusetts governor is worth a read. Family man? Not if it's the sort of family he disapproves. Mean stuff, though it might make him more popular in some quarters in Arkansas.
* MORE HARD-HEARTED REPUBLICANS, THIS TIME ON RAPE: A friend sent a handy chart from firedoglake illustrating where Republican politicians have stood on rape down through the years. It is not a joke. Sorry to say. Find it on the jump.