It’s good to be home, even jet-lagged after almost a 50-hour “day” of being in motion from the port of Chennai, India home. Maybe this weekend I’ll review India. In the meanwhile, let’s get back to more parochial concerns:
* DUSTIN MCDANIEL SALTS THE POLITICAL FIELD: Attorney General Dustiin McDaniel, running for governor in 2014, promoted his candidacy with one of those always-to-be-taken-with salt bits of internal polling that showed him the runaway favorite among potential Democratic contenders and trailing, by a statistically insignificant amount, Republican Asa Hutchinson. Republicans think Democrats were oversampled to help McDaniel on his Democratic flank. But these are the same Republicans who took generic polling as holy writ this year and as a result dramatically overestimated Republican legislative gains. But I’m also dismissive of McDaniel’s spin that Asa’s small lead (44-41) can be explained by his greater name recognition. How could that be, given the constant headline-grabbing McDaniel has done while Asa has mostly toiled in anonymity since his last electoral loss six years ago. Still, there’s not much doubt the state begins any election cycle nearly evenly divided on general party leanings. Issues ultimately decide the elections. A ton will be spent on this one before it’s done. I wouldn’t take a 52-14 lead by McDaniel over Bill Halter in the Democratic primary to the bank just yet, for example. Republicans making mischief could help Halter in 2014 as much as they hurt him in 2010 in his race against Blanche Lincoln. But bloom is a bit off the lottery Halter created.
* THE RISING COST OF NEWSPAPERS: Got my annual bill today for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. It will cost $273 for home delivery in 2013, up from $180 in 2012. That’s a whopping increase of more than 51 percent. About what your pay went up this year, right?
* SPEAKING OF THE DOG: A point of personal, wholly self-interested privilege follows. While reading the newspaper from afar, I noticed an extensive story last week about an appeal of the results of a trial of a claim arising from botched brain surgery at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. The case was tried in the court of my wiife, Circuit Judge Ellen B. Brantley. The DOG account of oral arguments on appeal in the Dec. 7 paper said an insurance company, seeking to invalidate an $11 million award (reduced by the judge from the jury’s $20 million), argued “that Judge Ellen Brantley and the jurors bungled the case — badly enough that it deprived the insurance company of a fair trial.” The Arkansas Supreme Court Thursday disagreed unanimously. It upheld every aspect of the lower court proceeding. I bring this up only because of my head-scratching over the newspaper’s identification of the bungling judge in the third paragraph of the story about the insurance company’s appeal argument. Fair enough. But … there was no mention of her name at all in the lengthy story upholding her ruling in every respect on both appeal and cross-appeal. She’s referred to only as an anonymous “trial judge.” Weird, Political Editor Lockwood.
* BULLYING IN THE LR SCHOOL DISTRICT: Channel 4 was on hand last night for continued Little Rock School District discussion of bullying in schools, a conversation engendered by a report on complaints from the Latino community that have been discussed in the Times. Wendell Griffen, a pastor and judge who’s led some community discussions on the topic, has already weighed in. What follows is a copy of a note he sent to Pam Smith, the district’s communications officer.