Columns » Max Brantley

So many provocations...

Another bad week demands a Worst Of listing.

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Another bad week demands a Worst Of listing:

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge had time to attempt to get a judge to overturn a state civil rights law in Washington. She sent papers to Washington to defend a florist who wants to discriminate against gay people. She has not yet had time to move to enforce Arkansas law against payday lending, in which poor people are charged triple-digit interest on small loans. This so-called federalist wants to kill a Washington state law and won't enforce Arkansas's.

Governor Hutchinson, and all his administration, joined hands with the pharmaceutical industry to fight medical marijuana, a proven benefit to sick people. He claimed science is on his side. This from a governor who ignored science in forcing an unsafe drug protocol on women seeking an early-term abortion and in limiting access to general health care for women.

Though the law prohibits lobbying by legislators, it has not prevented Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson from essentially lobbying the legislature and regulatory agencies on behalf of putative "legal" clients on issues ranging from government youth services contracts to an outfit trying to win legal protection for gambling machines.

More legislators are getting into the "consulting" business. They include a retired railroad worker and a part-time rock musician. What do they "consult" about? Who pays them? They won't say. Did they have consulting businesses before they became legislators? They did not. Suddenly, their consulting is valuable to someone.

Have you seen that TV ad featuring old codgers indignant that out-of-state people are trying to get into the casino business in Arkansas through a constitutional amendment? The current monopoly on casinos in Arkansas is held by families from Missouri and New York.

Nursing home owners have a constitutional amendment to insulate them from lawsuits for abusing or neglecting old people. They title this effort "Health Care Access for Arkansas." Really.

Nursing home owners put their employees to work getting residents, no matter their state of dementia, to sign petitions for an amendment against their interest.

The Waltons' local school lobbyist picked a slate of candidates for the reconstituted Pulaski County Special School Board and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette rubberstamped them. It's designed as another nail in the coffin of conventional public school districts in Pulaski County (and, in time, Arkansas.) The Billionaire Boys Club envisions, over time, white-flight transfers, more segregating charter schools of questionable educational value, splintered suburban districts (Maumelle and Sherwood) and privatization of the Little Rock School District.

Republicans dusted off an old Say McIntosh story, debunked by a DNA test years ago, that Bill Clinton fathered the child of a black prostitute. It will get worse before it's over Nov. 8.

Police agencies in two states gave chase over more than 30 miles from Kennett, Mo., to Paragould and killed one innocent motorist in pursuit of ... a stolen car.

Leaked tax returns showed that Donald Trump cratered several businesses and used a tax code gimmick to reap almost $1 billion in income tax offsets, though he'd suffered no personal losses in his companies' bankruptcies. His defenders called him a genius.

California enacted a law prohibiting state government-paid travel to states with anti-gay laws. These include laws that prohibit local civil rights ordinances. Arkansas has just such a law, along with a law allowing a religious excuse to discriminate against gay people. Reaction in Arkansas to the news from the prevailing political power: "Who cares?" Or, "What does California have that we want anyway?" Uh, Apple maybe? Google?

I could go on, but ...

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