The line is open | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The line is open

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Your turn. Finishing up.

* FILMMAKER ARRESTED: The man suspected of making the film that has set the Muslim world on fire has been arrested as a parole violator. On probation for bank fraud, the suspect reportedly wasn't allowed to use computers or access the Internet without probation officer approval.

* HOG HYSTERIA: The Razorback talk shows and message boards are exploding with the rumor, wholly unconfirmed as far as I can tell and based on no solid media report, that an announcement is imminent that Butch Davis will be the next coach of the Razorback football team. This week? This month? This year? Next year? Who knows? Doesn't stop the talk. But a source who knows a source says an unimpeachable source of someone closely connected to talk shows says a news conference will be called — maybe — tomorrow or the next day or eventually. You've been warned — not that it's about to happen but about how easily this kind of stuff gets started. Davis, a UA grad, is currently advising the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, says here. Hell I don't know. I do know some major boosters would like to see Davis picked, which counts for something. I know he comes off controversy in a previous job at UNC.

* HOW TO BUILD A TECH COMMUNITY: Suddenly, publications are full of advice on building better communities, including those with vibrant technology sectors. In the Washington Post, the subject is Boulder, Colorado and a new book by Bruce Feld, who helped make its startup community prosper. The comments include this (which should make some people in Little Rock feel a touch uncomfortable)

This is the type of tech center that government officials dream about building. They often invest hundreds of millions of dollars in creating top-down clusters. Rarely do these efforts show any results. Boulder wasn’t the result of a government effort. Rather, it grew organically and resulted from the efforts of a handful of entrepreneurs who got together and decided to foster entrepreneurship in the region.

Top down. It was and is the Arkansas way. Look around. Could we do better? The Post writer says entrepreneurs must lead. Long-term commitments are necessary, something more than the two- and four-year government cycles. The article talks at length about the reason government fails. Government leaders are defensive, reluctant to admit failure. Governments are bound by hierarchies and rules of engagement. Governments create policy. Entrepreneurs take action. Conclusion:

I suggest that, before government officials waste public funds on trying to build yet another cluster, they read Feld’s book and hang out at the cafés in Boulder or Silicon Valley. They will realize that their best hope to foster innovation is to team up with entrepreneurs such as Feld.

* SCHADENFREUDE: I'm mighty nervous about optimism relative to President Obama's position in the polls. Lots can happen in 40 days when the other side has billions to blanket the air with every falsehood imaginable. But you can see where people like Michael Tomasky are getting some pleasure out of the current state of Republican media unhappiness, from Dick Morris on. Now polling is a liberal media trick, trailing Repubs whine.

What a fantastic last two weeks these have been. I don’t even mean Barack Obama solidifying his lead over Mitt Romney, although that’s perfectly fine. No, I mean the near-mathematically perfect joy of watching these smug and contemptible creatures of the right dodge and swerve and make excuses and, most of all, whine. There is no joy in the kingdom of man so great as the joy of seeing bullies and hucksters laid low, and watching people who have arrogantly spent years assuming they were right about the world living to see all those haughty assumptions die before their eyes. Watching them squirm is more fun than watching Romney and Paul Ryan flail away.

* ASU AND CRIME: Several months ago, Daily Beast did a listing on which UCA and ASU scored high on a "crime-rattled" index the publicatin devised. Now comes another website to debunk that ranking. Among the things it said in a release about ASU:

The website studied Department of Education crime data reported under the Clery Act, spanning the years 2008 and 2010, and found that:

* There was only one on-campus murder in 2010, skewing the weighted ranking.
* Two crimes exceeded the national average rates: forcible sexual assault and burglary, the former not by a wide margin.
* While there was a notably large tally of burglaries (126 incidents within the three-year span), the numbers dropped to 59 and 17 incidents, respectively, between 2009 and 2010.

“Arkansas State University is another college making strides in crime prevention,” says NerdWallet VP Anisha Sekar, who led the study. “A single murder in 2010 — not reflective of current campus culture — is what landed ASU on the Daily Beast’s list.”

* BEER POLITICS: Great chart plots beer preferences according to partisan politics. Dos Equis is middle of the road. Samuel Adams trends Republican. Molson is one popular choice of high turnout Democrats, but Heineken leads the pack.

* TWO-PARTY ARKANSAS: Former Sen. David Pryor and former Rep. Ed Bethune, beaten for the Senate by Pryor in 1984, will be the program at 6 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Old State House, a benefit for the museum. Tickets are $100.

* HOBBY LOBBY BOOTS PREACHER: Hobby Lobby, a crafts chain whose owners are conservative Christians and who've sued to block the federal law that requires private insurance to cover preventive health care for women, including birth control pills, isn't so friendly to all brands of religion. Faithful America said in a news release that Rev. Lance Schmitz, an evangelical pastor, was ordered off the chain's headquarters premises in Oklahoma City when he tried to present petitions signed by 80,000 people objecting to the Hobby Lobby lawsuit against women's health care coverage. The news release quoted Schmitz:

"I thought a Christian business would be interested in hearing from a pastor with a petition signed by thousands of people of faith,” said Rev. Lance Schmitz. “I guess Hobby Lobby is more interested in using their faith to score political points than in finding a way to ensure that its female employees get the health care they need."

* OH, YES, THERE'S VOTER FRAUD: A Republican-backed firm accused in Florida of questionable voter registration applications. Isn't this somewhere in the process before Republican voter ID laws kick in?

* CLEAN ENERGY: The Sierra Club and allies today held a news conference to urge the Beebe administration to make "clean energy" a part of his administration's energy plan. Clean tech jobs are good business and good for the environment, they say. Gov. Mike Beebe has already made a significant contribution to the cause with state support for wind power firms, currently buffeted by declining federal support. Republicans like coal and like to criticize "green" energy.

* RULE CHALLENGES GRIFFIN'S FISCAL CONSERVATISM: Democratic congressional candidate Herb Rule today attacked Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin's credentials as a fiscal conservative, but my observer on the scene said the comments weren't well received by a Maumelle audience. Rule said that Griffin had higher office expenses, by $37,000, than other Arkansas congressmen. He also said that, according to county records, Griffin owed $719,565 in mortgages on a house valued at $588,650. A release quoted Rule: “Well, I guess we should call him ‘Sub-prime Tim. He’s under water by $130,000. Could you finance a new home for 122% of value? Not me — be scared to.” I've written and called the Griffin campaign for a response, but none so far.

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