by Max Brantley
This from a man who voted for all the fetus and firearm legislation, some of it patently unconstitutional, approved in the recent legislative session.
I think I'll pull a Bro. Rapert on Crazy Davy. Today's Bible sword drill:
You could look it up. In the context it means you haven't heard the last of gun waving, fetal fascination, gay bashing or force feeding of religion from Arkansas Republicans and I think Carter is smart enough to know it, but was playing to the press peanut gallery.
(Oh, OK, I won't make you look it up: "Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.")
I have actually developed a contrarian view of legislative events of late. It is that there's been entirely too much focus — by me and others — on the social issue claptrap that generated so much heat. The bigger story of the legislature was the fundamental reordering of government begun swiftly and forcefully by the new Republican majority. Executive power was diminished. Tax cuts were tailored almost exclusively to benefit the wealthy (Crazy Davy's blanket exemption on capital gains for the very wealthiest transactions gets the Walton Family MVP trophy). The adoption of Obamacare masked an attack on conventional Medicaid that will have devastating impact in years to come if the so-called private option falters. The legislative auditing arm is being put to use in political vendettas. Republican lobbying was critical in defeating a bill that would have prevented the forced retirement of some older judges Republicans like Rhonda Wood wanted to see go home to make room for their ascension. Through "special language," which is a democracy-defying trick, a private company that makes millions off serving home schoolers got a huge windfall (thanks, Johnny Key). The Walton-financed attack on the public schools didn't advance as far as their lobbyist Luke Gordy hoped, but they have the money and will to play the long game. There was much more organic damage, particularly in election process tinkering aimed at depressing turnout by Democratic constituencies. Republicans would have neutered the attorney general's office, but pulled back in part because they realized they might control that office someday, too.
All in all, I kind of wish the session really HAD been all about guns and fetuses. Bad as that legislation was, it was mostly sound and fury signifying little. The abortion bills will be struck down in court. We already had law and constitution heavily weighted against women's medical rights. Similarly, Arkansas already was about as permissive as possible on gun law. Advances in gun nuttery were mostly on the margins, except for the legal trick bag by which the zanies think they've totally deregulated weapon carrying. Maybe they did. It's still of far less concern than the tectonic movement toward a strangled government run for the wealthy without regard for women's rights; ethnic, racial, religious or sexual minorities, or, of course, Democrats. Speaker Carter was on board with all this, by the way, so you'll excuse me if I grab the salt when I read the wide-eyed accounts of his moderation.
But more bodacious than Carter was Rep. John Burris, who asserted that Democratic legislators really wanted the Medicaid expansion to fail and had worked to that end. It was left to Democratic Rep. Fred Love to inject honesty and salient facts into the discussion. How, he noted, can you say Democrats worked to defeat legislation that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM VOTED FOR?
Faith has always trumped facts in the Republican order of battle. Prepare for more.