by Max Brantley
Another day done. Final items:
* UPDATE *** RAPIDFIRE POLITICAL UPDATE ***: To Ark. and all the ships at sea .... some protesters greeted Repubs at their celebratory "majority" dinner at convention center tonight. Cops called. .... 'nother liberal salon tonight in Hillcrest at Nate Coulter's place for a potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate, businessman John Burkhalter. No way he could be worse than Mike Ross. ... Brum now declares odious tax cut for wealthy only way to get Medicaid expansion done. Price too high. If Repubs insist on tax cuts, Warwick Sabin bill has them, for everybody, not just rich. Even Charlie Collins' bill is better than Davy Carter's capital gains gravy for millionaires. Reminder: tax cuts don't create jobs.
* THE EARTH MOVES; BEEBE MOVES TO STRIKE: Mother Jones reports in-depth on the rising concern about how gas fracking operations, particularly wastewater injection wells, are responsible for earthquakes. Experts quoted in the article include Arkansas as a place where wells were responsible for seismic activity. Arkansas gets attention, particular a geologist for the state, Scott Ausbrooks.
Ausbrooks and [the center for Earthquake Researche's Stephen] Horton partnered for nearly a year to research the Arkansas earthquakes, driving around the state to install seismometers and collect data. And yet when it came time to publish the results in a leading scholarly journal, Seismological Research Letters, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe forced Ausbrooks to remove his name as coauthor. Ausbrooks' boss at the Arkansas Geological Survey is Bekki White, who did two decades of consulting for the petroleum industry prior to her current post. "Ms. White conferred with our office," Matt DeCample, a Beebe spokesman, tells me. "We felt that putting the state and/or Mr. Ausbrooks as a coauthor would represent additional academic credentials beyond their usual scope of work. The survey is in the business of data collection, not interpreting that data and reaching conclusions." When I ask Ausbrooks for a better explanation, he laughs nervously. "Oh, let's just say, I want to say, but I can't. I'll just put it this way: There's money and politics involved." (The state collects $14 million in property taxes from Chesapeake Energy alone.)
* THIS COULD GO ON FOREVER: Will this Train Wreck Legislature ever finish? It's going to go well into the 80-days territory, that much is clear. Still to come is a bodacious hog slop — the state's sitting on a surplus thanks to careful budgeting, so get ready for an orgy of local-interest pork barrel bills (General Improvement Fund), maybe $1 million per senator at the south end of the Capitol. A fiscally responsible Republican legislature gorge on pork? Don't get between them and the trough. And don't you dare suggest a taxpayer rebate. They'll be able to buy gold trim packages for every rural fire truck in the state. The Senate today approved several pieces of agreed stuff, including the compromise school choice bill that is to be amended in the House. It approved the House resolution calling for a moment of silence in school every day.
* DRINKERS' ALERT: Good feature and photos in Fayetteville Flyer on the April 1 reopening of Maxine's Tap, a legenday F'ville tavern. They're going to gussy it up with mixed drinks (absinthe fountains, even), gourmet popcorn and stuff, but it looks pretty good.
* WEDDING BELL BLUES; CHANGING TIMES: Much has been written this week of the rising trajectory of polling numbers in favor of same-sex marriage. We've been down this road before. Thanks to blogger Eschaton for posting this chart below of the evolving opinion on interracial marriage.