by Max Brantley
The line is open early. The roundup of odds and ends is in the political vein:
* THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT HAS DESIGNS ON ARKANSAS: Church and State magazine reports on plans by the American Renewal Project, a Religious Right organization, to politically target 12 states including Arkansas in 2014 to "restore America to its Judeo-Christian heritage." The group plans pastor policy briefings and voter registration drives, speakers include wackjobs like Rep. Steve King of Iowa and faux historian David Barton. The American Family Association is part of the jihad. Gay marriage is high on the list of calls to arms.
* CAN I INFLUENCE YOUR VOTE?:: Saline circuit clerk Dennis Milligan — who just happens to be a Republican candidate for state treasurer — is floating a plan that seems likely to win Saline Quorum Court approval to pay mileage to out-of-town court jurors as well as the statutory daily fees of $25 to $50, which Milligan says can be eaten up by gasoline from those coming from a distance to the Benton courthouse. Only a handful of cases go to trial. Milligan says he can pay mileage from money saved by a juror notification system that prevents unnecessary trips to the courthouse for jurors drawn for canceled cases.
* IS MIKE HUCKABEE STILL A GOOD FACE FOR RADIO: Politico reported further today on some uncertainty about Mike Huckabee's syndicated radio show.
* BILL: TOO MUCH HILLARY TALK: The former president said the country has too many big problems to obsess right now on whether Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016.
* WHICH ASA DID YOU SEE? A newspaper reader in NWA notes an interesting team change yesterday in the Fayetteville federal court appearance by indicted failed developer Brandon Barber. Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson was the first chair legally, handling Barber's courtroom defense work. But others, including the candidate's son Asa III, handled the photo ops with Barber before and after court. No shame in doing legal defense work, is there? Though some of the people flimflammed by Barber — some of them the kind who bankroll political campaigns — might be of a mind to think the friend of my enemy is my enemy too. UPDATE: A federal magistrate sent Barber to jail today. No more home detention pending trial. The judge said Barber didn't have a permanent residence because a New York court restraining order prevents him from living with his girlfriend
* FROM THE FAR RIGHT: A CANDIDATE FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL: North Little Rock lawyer David Sterling announced today as a Republican candidate for attorney general. He made a point of announcing his willingness to defend the unconstitutional abortion ban approved by the 2013 legislature and to defend the ban on gay marriage. If that gives you any idea, along with a promise by the Federalist Society member to battle an "overreaching" federal government. Maybe he could sue if he wins over the Republican-backed implementation of Obamacare. There'll be more Republicans. Possibles include Faulkner Prosecutor Cody Hiland, Leslie Rutledge, who's worked for the National Republican Party including on election issues, and the Kochhead/Religious right/failed Pulaski JP candidate Chris Stewart.
* JIM ARGUE DOESN'T SUPPORT MIKE ROSS: We've mentioned before (a month ago) that former Sen. Jim Argue is supporting Bill Halter for governor in part because of an opinion formed about Mike Ross when they served together in the Senate. He's now made a video. He criticizes Ross for shifting positions.
“Leadership is more than just sticking your finger up in the political wind and figuring out which direction the winds happen to be blowing at that time and setting your sails always in a favorable wind,” Argue said in a video released by the Halter campaign. “I think those are things that need to be founded on core principles and you need to have the backbone to stick to your guns in however you believe.”
* GETTING THE GAY OUT IN IMBODEN: The Imboden Live website has opened a comment line on the dispute over a decision not to welcome a former student, now TV producer to be a graduation speaker. He happens to be gay. Opponents of his appearance grab hold of the superintendent's defense that no formal invitation was issued, etc. At least one person gets to the crux of it: If Bryant Huddleston were NOT gay, the 1990 Imboden graduate would have been the graduation speaker.
* HOG HEAVEN: Jacqueline Froelich of KUAF has posted some photos and a report on the public relations media tour arranged at the C&H Hog Farms in Mount Judea, a concentrated feeding operation that conservationists believe imperils the nearby Buffalo River. The hog pens were far short of capacity for visiting press. If only we had smellovision.