by Max Brantley
Morning notes from the mail and more:
* THE GUNS AND FETUSES LEGISLATURE: The City Wire notes how Republican campaign season rhetoric that focused on the economy, jobs, taxes and such has been supplanted in the first month of the legislature with a laser-like focus on the womb and guns. The wackjobs must be served. Sadly, they'll got around to wreckage of state government with wealthy tax preferences and slashing of vital services soon enough. In the meanwhile fair comment on the GOP "bait and switch":
It was a rare pre-election interview in which you would hear a GOP legislative candidate talk something other than jobs and tax reform and jobs and shrinking the size of government and jobs and making Arkansas more competitive with neighboring states and jobs. Five of six talking points — the SIMPLE Plan — among GOP House candidates focused on economic, education and competitive issues.
But the post election action has been anything but jobs and responsible lawmaking and shrinking the size of government.
More than a month into the session, there is no substantive or sustained discussion of legislation involving tax reform, economic competitiveness and jobs. In fact, there is a small but vocal cabal challenging the job-delivering success of Gov. Mike Beebe. Odd.
* GOD, GUNS AND FETUSES III: Jason Rapert is always a source for material. Remember his Tea Party speech, in which he talked about the "stars and bars," Obama's birth certificate and minority viewpoints? He also railed about a Ramadan event at the White House and implied Obama lacked good Christian bona fides. Imagine what Rapert could have done at a Tea Party event with a vote such as he himself just cast. He supported a Senate resolution (by Republican sen. Bryan King) lauding contributions to Arkansas by citizens of Azerbaijan and urging Arkansas relationships with the Azerbaijani people. Readers think this is hypocritical of Rapert, given that the country is 99.2 percent Muslim. Maybe it's merely evidence of his ecumenical spirit, welcome after his nativist tirade against the president and a theme of Christian exceptionalism that's rarely far removed from his Twitter stream. With King as the sponsor, however, I'd be more likely to suspect a pecuniary angle at the heart of this onion.
* GOD, GUNS AND FETUSES IV: Something tells me the Republicans can make more of this. The New York Times reports:
The use of morning-after pills by American women has more than doubled in recent years, driven largely by rising rates of use among women in their early 20s, according to new federal data released Thursday.
The finding is likely to add to the public debate over rules issued by the Obama administration under the new health care law that require most employers to provide free coverage of birth control, including morning-after pills, to female employees. Some religious institutions and some employers have objected to the requirement and filed lawsuits to block its enforcement.
Arkansas Republicans hate providing health care for working people, period, but they REALLY hate preventive care for women because it includes birth control pills. If you screw, you pay the price is their motto.
Once fully in control, you can be sure Republicans will root out any support for contraception that exists within state government. Morning-after pills? Banning them might produce yet another constitutional amendment proposal, if only it wasn't too late. But it's not too late for Republicans to legislate against it. In their world, preventing implantation of a microscopic particle in the uterus that could grow into a fetus is murder. Really.