Friday, December 21, 2012

Morning notes

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 6:29 AM

From the newspaper, mail and other places:

* COMFORTING THE PRESS: Some lame-duck legislators have proposed relocating the state Capitol pressroom and maybe even charging occupants for use of space, plus leasing Capitol grounds parking places. I note that Sen. Johnny Key, eyeballing a race for governor, has leapt to the defense of convenience for the handful of reporters who use the press room on a daily basis and are further served by free parking places close to the door. The Arkansas Times, which visits the Capitol sporadically, doesn't use the press room and was evicted from its parking place by Secretary of State Mark Martin as political payback for our unflattering coverage of him.

From where I sit, the idea seems fair, though not likely to go anywhere, at least on discommoding the crew that the legislature interacts with on a daily basis. But parking? It makes no sense that Mark Martin gets to decree who gets a free space and who does not, particularly with space in such short supply. Put the spaces up for lease by an independent office or body. Let the market prevail.

FORGOT TO SAY ORIGINALLY: The best thing the legislature could do for helping the public know what's going on at the Capitol is not cosset working reporters with ultimately very finite limits on what they can get into print, but spend money on getting live TV cameras into every committee room and the Senate chamber and cover every public meeting gavel to gavel. The House advances have been invaluable. Let's finish the job.

* FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: I wrote here yesterday and reiterate that the "working papers" exception in the FOI has been abused by governors, attorney generals and others covered by the law. Other states have cases in which working papers have come to have legal meaning — actual documents related to matters of pending concern. It should not be a blanket protection for everything in an office, such as, currently, Dustin McDaniel's phone records. I am not sure a panty posse searching for particulars (if any exist) about phone conversations between the AG and a certain female lawyer is the place to begin a huff-and-puff battle of legal principle on the parameters of this question. Mike Huckabee's broad use of the privilege to cover all sorts of actions and words directly impacting public policy would have been a better time. Another suggestion for those with the money to go to court about abusers of the Freedom of Information law: 10 words — University of Arkansas Board of Trustees and UA Chancellor David Gearhart

* MIKE HUCKABEE REVEALED: Steve Benen at MSNBC is the latest to begin discovering that outrageous, inaccurate and stupid comments by the Florida resident who once governed Arkansas are not isolated incidents. And that Mike Huckabee really isn't a very nice guy.

... to reiterate a point from the weekend, the fact that Huckabee continues to want to push a bogus culture war in the wake of a national tragedy suggests he just isn't an especially nice guy.

For a guy with a jovial reputation, there’s something rather disturbing about Mike Huckabee’s worldview. Remember, it was earlier this year when he said he wanted to see President Obama's college transcripts "to show whether he got any loans as a foreign student."

Last year, Huckabee falsely claimed President Obama “grew up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather.” Soon after, he endorsed “death panel” garbage. By the early summer, Huckabee was equating the national debt with the Nazi Holocaust.

In August 2009, Huckabee argued on his own radio show that Obama’s health care reform plan would have forced Ted Kennedy to commit suicide. Ed Kilgore argued at the time, “This despicable rant should disqualify Mike Huckabee from any further liberal sympathy, no matter how much he tries to joke or rock-n-roll his way back into mainstream acceptability.”

That’s as true now as it was then.

* FISCAL CLIFF: Pretty good explainer from Talking Points Memo on what happens next now that the Tea Party has beaten down Speaker John Boehner's plan on tax negotiations. It will be interesting to see if the Arkansas Republicans in Congress stick with the Club for Growth, with the only acceptable plan NO tax increases, except maybe for working poor; no defense cuts; big cuts in programs that help the poor. The Arkansas Fair Share Alliance has a suggestion for 2nd District Republican Rep. Tim Griffin:

Arkansas Fair Share called on Congressman Griffin to be a strong independent voice for Arkansas families and demand that Speaker Boehner immediately hold a vote on a responsible alternative bill that has already passed in the U.S. Senate and the President is ready to sign that would immediately extend the Bush tax cuts only on incomes under $250,000 for a couple and $200,000 for an individual — a bill that would generate $400 billion more in high-income revenue to address our long-term budget challenges and for critical investments that create and sustain jobs.

Don't hold your breath for Tiny Tim to fall in line.

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