by Max Brantley
I have an errand to run. So I'll add some odds and ends and open the evening line early, with possibility of amendments:
* LAND OF HOPE AND GLORY: I lead off with a photo from a familiar sight, a high school graduation. This one happens to be at Sloan-Hendrix High School in Imboden, where controversy arose over a tentative plan to have past graduate Bryant Huddleston, now a TV producer, speak. He's gay and at least two school board members thought having a gay person speak was not a good idea. Imboden Live provided full coverage of an uneventful night of honor grads, speeches by top students, remarks from the superintendent and diplomas.Sports columnist says Razorback football coach Bret Bielema better develop a thicker skin. He notes the coach has engaged sharply with critics on Twitter and fans at Arkansas can be fickle. Thick or thin, who's got the time to engage tweet cranks?
* DUH: The Kochs and the oil industry are the moneybags behind many of the groups that try to debunk climate change information. The media does a lousy job of revealing that connection. A series on the subject has begun on Huffington Post.
* WHEN PRESSURE COOKERS ARE OUTLAWED ... Not a laughing matter, I know, when a Saudi traveler enters the country with misleading statements about his need for a pressure cooker. But ... it's not like you couldn't buy one in the U.S. Or that many other weapons of mass murder are not readily purchasable.
* DISTRESSED SCHOOL DISTRICTS/CHARTER SCHOOLS: The State Board of Education met today. It took Drew Central off the fiscally distressed list, but kept Helena-West Helena and Pulaski County Special on it. The board also approved some application changes on several charter schools, including a new location for a proposed classical academy for Bentonville that's an outgrowth of a charter school initiative from Hillsdale College, a conservative institution, built around curriculum based on Western heritage. The Bentonville high school has 1,000 applicants for 400 seats, a spokesman said.
The fiscal distress designation for Pulaski County contributes positively to ongoing movements to split up the school district, particularly to create an independent school district around Jacksonville. The new district would qualify for state construction aid for badly needed new buildings that the larger district can't now receive. A major hurdle to any change in composition of the school district is federal court approval. The district remains under supervision in the desegregation lawsuit.
Among others, the state Board approved a move of the elementary school of the Little Rock Preparatory Academy charter school from 1205 Schiller to the former Cathedral School buildings at 16th and Louisiana.
* OBAMA GETS IT RIGHT: The president took questions today and responded appropriately — the GOP effort to make Watergate out of Benghazi is a bunch of nothing. But he takes seriously the report on IRS targeting of political groups in the 501C4 review process. All political groups should be reviewed for improper activity, not just the 'baggers.
* BUT OBAMA ADMINISTRATION GETS IT WRONG: Now comes news that, perhaps in searching for leak on story about foiled terrorist attack, Justice Department rooted through AP reporters' phone records. I don't like it. I also don't like the Patriot Act, even broader intrusiveness that enjoyed cheerleading from some of the Obama harrumphers now making hay of this news. Doesn't make this action right. But the hypocrisy factor needs noting.
* EQUALITY MARCHES ON: Minnesota today became the
11th 12th state plus the District of Columbia to approve marriage equality.
* KERMIT GOSNELL GUILTY VERDICT: The Philadelphia doctor was convicted of murder for killing living infants delivered during abortions. He could face the death penalty. Again, NARAL Pro-Choice offers a statement worth considering. Laws passed to restrict legitimate medical choices for women create an environment that encourages outlaws:
Full statement from Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, on the conviction of Kermit Gosnell:
“Justice was served to Kermit Gosnell today and he will pay the price for the atrocities he committed. We hope that the lessons of the trial do not fade with the verdict. Anti-choice politicians, and their unrelenting efforts to deny women access to safe and legal abortion care, will only drive more women to back-alley butchers like Kermit Gosnell.
“From the lack of funding available for low-income women to access abortion services, to the sharp decline of reputable providers in Pennsylvania, to the gross negligence of authorities to enforce the law after complaints were filed against Gosnell, each aspect of this case must be a teachable moment for lawmakers: until we reject the politicization of women's medical care and leave these decisions where they belong — between a woman and her family and her doctor — women will never be safe. The horrifying story of Kermit Gosnell is a peek into the world before Roe v. Wade made legal a woman's right to make her own choices.
“NARAL Pro-Choice America's annual Who Decides? publication has given Pennsylvania an ‘F’ grade precisely because it has passed medically unnecessary laws that restrict access to safe and legal abortion care. It is my sincere hope that the women in Gosnell's clinic did not suffer in vain and that Pennsylvania, and every state, will step up and join us in making the protection of women’s ability to get, safe, high quality, and legal abortion care a top priority.”