by Max Brantley
The line is open. Closing out:
* UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE: For you legislative wonks, here are the committee assignments in the House. They lack party identifications, so it's a little hard to tell the shape of things if you don't know them. The new speaker will name the chairs. Republicans have stacked up Revenue and Taxation, so look for the billionaires, or their reps, to be well treated in that committee room. Strong Democratic contingent on Public Health, which should have a lot to say about the important medical issues of the day. Republicans have overwhelming majority on State Agencies, where the voter suppression (ID) law will be debated. Democrats seem to have made no effort to contest it. Education also will be a playpen for the Billionaire Boys Club and their charter school express.
* TITTY BABY WATCH: Republicans have not been gracious losers, beginning with Mitt Romney's grudging concession speech which mostly amounted to him saying he was sorry he lost. Check out this Washington Post story on the coal company exec, Robert Murray, who had forced miners to attend a Romney campaign rally. He's issued a whining reaction to Romney's loss in the form of a "prayer" he read to employees right before he fired 154 of them. He blamed the job losses on President Obama. Dick of the Year nominee, easily.
* STRAIGHT TALK FROM THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF: Courtesy of Talking Points Memo
Obama To Boehner: Higher Taxes On The Wealthy Or The Bush Tax Cuts Expire
Say it again.
* SECRETARY BLANCHE????: Blanche Lincoln for Agriculture Secretary? A political consulting outfit offers up the idea for the second Obama term. I can't get excited about that one. She'd spend all her time lobbying for an estate tax elimination. She also gets a mention here in that regard.
* AND SPEAKING OF THE OBAMA CABINET: Chad Griffin, the Arkansas native who heads the Human Rights Campaign, says it's time for a gay person in the cabinet and time for Obama to sign an executive order banning discrimination on account of sexual orientation against employees of companies with federal contracts. Federal legislation to accomplish this for all employees has faltered, thanks to Republicans, including all from Arkansas, and DOY nominees like Mike Ross. The HRC wants more from the president.
* LIFE ON ARKANSAS DEATH ROW: Huffington Post has item on conversation between Henry Rollins and Damien Echols about Echols' 18 years on Arkansas Death Row.
Echols said the miserable conditions on Death Row are perpetuated by public misconceptions about who winds up there. "We're given this impression that prison especially Death Row is full of these criminal-genius Hannibal Lecter types, and it's not true. You have people there who are stark raving insane," he said, adding that the average IQ of Death Row inmates is 88.
During nearly two decades in prison, "I never saw one single shred of any sort of rehabilitation program," said Echols, who argued that reforming prisoners would serve the public interest far better than merely punishing them. "Almost everyone who goes to prison is gonna get out some day," he pointed out. "They're gonna be in your churches, in your schools, in your workplaces so it's probably not a good idea to drive them insane."