by Max Brantley
Given the slow day, I'll round up some stuff early:to his flock on Facebook. He delivered the message from the pulpit on Sunday and it may be found in full at his page.
"One of my duties as your bishop is, in the words of Vatican II (Christus Dominus, 12) 'to teach those truths the ignorance of which is ignorance of Christ himself.' You are not blind or ignorant, but I still have a duty to help you to form your conscience, especially as you prepare to vote 10 days from now. U.S. law prohibits me from endorsing any candidate or political party, but I can remind you of Church teaching on moral and social matters, and encourage you to vote accordingly. Some of the moral and social issues to keep in mind this year are, in descending order of what I consider to be their importance and urgency: 1.) the right to life, 2.) religious liberty, 3.) immigration, 4.) marriage and family, and 5.) economic justice"
FACT CHECK: The "U.S. law" does not prohibit the bishop from endorsing a candidate. It prohibits a tax exemption for organizations that engage in politicking, however. There is a significant difference. If the Catholic Church wants to give up its tax exemption it can engage in politics to its heart's content. Not that there's much difference between politicking and the bishop's message, however (or many other Catholic efforts to influence Republican election chances this year). It's old news, of course, that the bishop's flock tends to think and act independently, particularly compared with the thinking of current conservative church leadership. Drug company receipts would be substantially reduced if Catholic women stopped taking birth control pills, for example.
* SOME THINGS ARE BEST LEFT UNSAID: Mark Lowery of Maumelle is a Republican candidate for state legislature. He has a long history of bad judgment. The screen shot of his Facebook page here is a graphic example. Threatening bodily harm over campaign mailers? Do you really want someone like this elected to the Arkansas Legislature? He hasn't responded to my e-mail for comment, but UPDATE I note the item no longer appears on his Facebook page. Said Democratic Party spokeswoman Candace Martin earlier:
Mr. Lowery's comments are inexcusable and threatening and should be retracted immediately; this is exactly the kind of inflammatory, D.C. rhetoric that we do not need in the state house which can only be expected from a politician who isn't interested in moving our state forward but wants to make incendiary remarks which call into question Mark Lowery's sense of integrity and trustworthiness.
Lowery is running against a hard-campaigning lawyer, Kelly Halstead. Below is the most recent mailer for her. Here's another, which also seems less than a strangulation offense, though it features Lowery's mugshot.
* THE HILLS ARE ALIVE: KUAF has a report on plans for a musical sculpture garden in Eureka Springs.
* WARDEN PUNCHED IN PRISON FRACAS: Arkansas Department of Correction spokeswoman Shea Wilson says that Joe Page, a deputy warden at the Varner Unit, was knocked unconscious by an inmate when a fight broke out Sunday afternoon at the unit after a search for contraband turned up a cell phone. Inmates and prison workers were in a hallway after a meal and trying to detain some of the inmates for further questioning when one struck Page, she said. He was hospitalized and "is going to be OK," Wilson said. Rumors about the size of the conflict have proliferated. Wilson said she couldn't say how many inmates or workers were involved, but it wasn't a "riot."
* CLERGY BACK MEDICAL MARIJUANA: The group pushing the medical marijuana initiative announced a group of clergy endorsed the measure today. From their statement:
As faith leaders, our position on medical marijuana is driven by compassion. Seriously ill people should not be subject to criminal sanctions for using marijuana if the patients' medical professionals have told them that such use is likely to be beneficial.
Holly Patton, Disciple of Christ | Little Rock, AR
Kendal Land, Presbyterian | Arkadelphia, AR
Steve Willis, Disciple of Christ | Hot Springs, AR
Doug Criss, Methodist | Leachville, AR
Jimmy Teeter, Methodist | Blevins, AR
John Drymon, Episcopal | Batesville, AR
Kelly Pearson, Presbyterian | Dardanelle, AR
Jeff Cranton, Presbyterian | Hot Springs, AR
Ruskin Falls, Presbyterian | Little Rock, AR
Kerry Price, Non-denominational | Pine Bluff, AR
Terry Hart, Presbyterian | Bull Shoals, AR
Howard Gordon, Presbyterian | Little Rock, AR
The group also said the hateful Jerry Cox of the righwing Family Council is peddling hokum, as usual, in raising fears about medical marijuana vending machines, clearly suggesting they'd be easy sources of dope. (Republican senators also tried to get the attorney general to issue an opinion on whether the proposal would allow vending machines in dispensaries or collection of the sales tax on marijuana sales, but the a.g. declined to answer questions on a pending measure.) The response from the pro-marijuana group on vending machines:
Lobbyists opposing the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act announced today that they are working to discover whether or not medical marijuana vending machines are coming to Arkansas.
"That's simply not true, medical marijuana is only allowed to be dispensed in one of 30 licensed, non-profit dispensaries" said David Couch, legal counsel for Arkansans for Compassionate Care. "This would not be allowed in Arkansas, unless it was approved by the Arkansas Department of Health."
In California, vending machines add another level of security—helping to ensure that only patients get the medicine. Let's take a look at how it works:
Vending machines are located only in dispensaries. After obtaining a medical marijuana card, a patient must register with the owner of the vending machine, who will issue a security-coded magnetic card—similar to a bank card—that is used only on that vending machine.
When a patient purchases medical marijuana from a vending machine, she'll need to swipe her card, enter her pin number and scan her thumbprint before completing her purchase.
Finally, the entire transaction is recorded on camera.
This is nothing but an attempt by the opponents to distract from the merits of the proposal. We are confident that the people of Arkansas will focus on the merits of the proposal.