Quote of the week
"Don't you get tired of watching all these negative ads? And there is a reason they buy them. They work — people say they just hate them, but they get inside your brain."
— Bill Clinton, campaigning for Democrats last weekend in West Memphis
Un-American. That's really the only word for the storm of shameful oppo ads this season demonizing candidates who had, as attorneys, represented clients in the past. None was more shameful than Stacy Hurst attacking Clarke Tucker for handling a single criminal case on a pro bono basis. A question for Hurst and others who seek to villainize attorneys working as public defenders or pro bono: When they read or watch "To Kill a Mockingbird," do they think Atticus Finch is the bad guy?
For the sake of science
"You're being studied for scientific research during the upcoming general election! You were randomly selected to be a subject in a study that examines why people do or do not vote. There is no need to respond to this letter." So says the latest round of unsettling flyers mailed out to voters in the Little Rock area by Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the opaque, Koch brothers-funded political nonprofit. The front of the mailers indicate they're from AFP's "Department of Voter Education."
Aside from evoking the cheerily diabolical voice of a medical researcher from "A Clockwork Orange," what exactly is going on here? AFP campaigns aggressively on behalf of conservative candidates and causes in state elections, so it's likely they reflect some sort of partisan calculation. Maybe they're just targeting likely Republicans; maybe there's another angle. Anecdotally, a number of people have received mailers addressed to someone who no longer lives at that address, or never did. Also anecdotally: Whatever the intent, they're really pissing people off.
The GOP thinks it's a gaffe when you tell the truth
Republicans were furious when Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu said the following (Landrieu is in a difficult fight for re-election; the results are not yet in as the Times goes to press). "The main reason the president has struggled here is because his energy policies are not in line with the people of Louisiana. We are a pro-drilling, pro-oil, gas state. The offshore moratorium was extremely unpopular and, in my opinion, wholly unwarranted. It made a lot of people angry and put many businesses at risk. In addition, the South has not always been the friendliest or easiest place for African Americans to advance, and it's been a difficult place for women to be recognized as the leaders we are. Everyone knows this is the truth, and I will continue to speak the truth even as some would twist my words seeking political advantage."
Landrieu, to her credit, refused to apologize for simply telling the truth about how many Louisianans regard Obama.
Health care, by the numbers
3.2 million: Number of uninsured Americans who would have health insurance today if all states had expanded Medicaid. So far, 24 states, including most of the South, have refused; Arkansas expanded Medicaid via the private option.
35.5 percent: Decrease in uninsured patients visiting the ER since the private option was implemented, over the first six months of 2014, according to survey of Arkansas hospitals.
46.5 percent: Decrease in uninsured hospitalizations.
$69 million: Amount through six months Arkansas hospitals saved on uncompensated care due to the private option.
The Scrooge branch of government
Millionaire Jackson T. "Steve" Stephens Jr., who lost a court fight to remove a minimum wage increase from the ballot, is very, very sad about the coming threat to freedom of paying Arkansans $8.50 an hour. He said this week that he's thinking about putting some of his inherited wealth into a judicial recall measure in Arkansas. Stephens is still weighing whether to threaten judges with recall if they don't do what he says, or alternatively whether to buy off future candidates for judge — he is also considering a "Club for Growth model for judicial elections," he said. You know what they say: If you can't convince 'em in the courtroom, scare 'em with your millions. Stephens and Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway), who wants to recall judges who are nice to gay people, will make a fine pair ... although no matter how much money he spent, Stephens might have a little trouble rousing populist fury against a wildly popular minimum wage hike.