Archive for Letters

Beau don’t know Bo

All credit to Arkansas for their 30-0 whitewashing of Ole Miss. The Hogs played a great game, with their defense causing six turnovers and stifling a potent Rebel offense. However, Wilcox is way off base when he declares "you can bet that Ole Miss will have more offensive stability when their signal caller changes next fall. He's not a natural scrambler, misses reads and is just not capable of making decisions under duress."

Beau don't know Bo

As an Ole Miss graduate and a diehard Rebel fan, I would like to comment on Beau Wilcox's column "Resurgence" (Nov. 27). All credit to Arkansas for their 30-0 whitewashing of Ole Miss. The Hogs played a great game, with their defense causing six turnovers and stifling a potent Rebel offense. However, Wilcox is way off base when he declares "you can bet that Ole Miss will have more offensive stability when their signal caller changes next fall. He's not a natural scrambler, misses reads and is just not capable of making decisions under duress." First of all, may I remind Wilcox that Bo Wallace led the Rebels to victories over Arkansas in 2012 and 2013. Moreover, he was a three-year starter for Ole Miss who set all sorts of school records during his career. He played a key role in making the Rebels a force to be reckoned with in the SEC West. Yes, he isn't a "natural scrambler" and "misses reads" like all quarterbacks do. But I think during his time at Ole Miss he definitely proved he could make "decisions under duress." Starting every game from 2012-2014, Wallace led the Rebels to come-from-behind victories and what will turn out to be three bowl appearances. Against Mississippi State, Wallace played with a bum ankle and guided the Rebels to a convincing 31-17 victory. In the process, he threw for nearly 300 yards. For the past three years Bo Wallace has been the face of Ole Miss football. He hung in there and provided Rebel fans with many memorable moments. To say he wasn't capable of "making decisions under duress" is just plain wrong. Finding a replacement for Wallace for the 2015 season will be no easy task for head coach Hugh Freeze. Go Rebels!

Jimmie Purvis

Little Rock

Lessons from Doug

When I arrived at the Arkansas Gazette newsroom in 1966, I had several lively conversations with reporters over a two- or three-month period. We discussed how to gather news, interview technique, etc. It was very informative to me as a 27-year-old rookie. Doug Smith and I had those kinds of chats, and we also discussed how important it was to report the truth as we could tell at the time we gathered the data. That was sacred, because we valued our relationship with our readers. But we did have one disagreement: What was America's best beer. We quickly resolved that issue by agreeing that the beer that was available was the best beer.

Doug was one of my favorite writers. I loved his honesty.

Wayne Jordan

Little Rock

Giving up privacy

With all of the new technologies promising to make our lives faster, easier and more organized, most of us are becoming more public with our lives than ever before. We go about our day with "smart" devices sending location data out for navigation routes, search terms for returning webpages, or using apps to find a nearby hangout. Often, we don't realize just how critical this data can be.

Privacy rights have been vanishing since 9/11 with the creation of the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act gives the government unprecedented authority to spy on United States citizens. The general consensus seems to be "I'm not doing anything wrong. Why should I care?"

Imagine for a moment that you are an average law-abiding citizen writing a short suspense thriller during the time you have off from your day job. Some common search terms you might use writing this story could include topics such as poison, types of firearms or creating a fake ID. Couple this with your normal jogging route through the rural part of the county, constantly sending location data to what is essentially the same data set as your search results from earlier.

This kind of information could be used to force you to confess to a crime you didn't commit. In 2010, "Bill," a New York resident, was wrongfully accused of downloading child pornography. This accusation surprised Bill so much that he fainted during questioning. Bill lost his job, his home, and was shunned by some of his best friends for something that he never even did.

Even you could find yourself being questioned for conspiracy to commit a crime. If you had to go to legal battle with the FBI, CIA, NSA or any other "alphabet soup" organization, would you be prepared?

Michael Tomlinson

Sherwood

I remember when Ronald Reagan was elected a friend of mine wore a black armband and said bad things were going to happen. He was right. Reagan let the federal budget get so out of control, he became the first U.S. president to budget for over a trillion dollars. Reagan also attacked working Americans by labeling hundreds of thousands of Americans as "double dippers" and stealing their Social Security benefits. Reagan demonstrated that Republicans could take away Social Security and be lauded as heroes. Arkansas has not learned from history.

The 2014 Republican sweep of Arkansas and the Congress was not the result of a TV show contest or a political game. The political cycle was a life-and-death struggle between the Great Society and robber barons. No sports metaphor suffices. LBJ's Great Society has been strapped to a chair with wheels and left to rot by the fireplace. FDR's New Deal is being replaced by (insert next Republican president's name)'s raw deal.

Here is how it will happen. The next Republican president will borrow heavily from the Social Security fund, declare the social program bankrupt, and win support from states like Arkansas to privatize Social Security, whereby creating a system that steals life from the poor and gives to the rich. George W. Bush almost succeeded in doing this.

Billionaires now rule Arkansas. Social Security cannot survive.

Gene Mason

Jacksonville

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Don’t slight Pinnacle

I do not know why you felt the need to insult and basically bash Pinnacle Mountain State Park in your seemingly unrelated introduction. It sounds like you have hiked in only one small area of the park (on a busy Saturday, at that), and are unaware that Pinnacle Mountain State Park is much more than solely the mountain that gives it its namesake.

Don't slight Pinnacle

I enjoyed and appreciated your article on the new trail guide for Petit Jean State Park ("Rediscover Petit Jean," Nov. 20). It was great that you got the chance to meet Dr. Matt Moran and go on such an informative guided hike. His knowledge of the ecological diversity of the trails is fascinating.

I do not know why you felt the need to insult and basically bash Pinnacle Mountain State Park in your seemingly unrelated introduction. It sounds like you have hiked in only one small area of the park (on a busy Saturday, at that), and are unaware that Pinnacle Mountain State Park is much more than solely the mountain that gives it its namesake. Several other trails are spread throughout the park, containing extremely diverse ecosystems. One can find bottomland hardwoods, swamps, mixed hardwood pine forests, upland hardwood forests and glades, all within the park's 2,351 acres. With two rivers running through the park, and several areas left untouched by the public, Pinnacle is home to a thriving, healthy amount of wildlife and plant species. These include wild turkeys, whitetail deer, bald eagles, coyotes, bobcats, several amphibian species, every species of snake in Arkansas and a wide variety of birds. Please note that the list I just gave is in no way exhaustive. I also did not include the park's trees and plant populations. I would be quite thrilled to find any of the aforementioned species in a "grand city park."

I encourage you to explore the rest of the park, besides the mountain itself. Yes, the mountain is packed on the weekends and has probably suffered some ecological damage from all of the foot traffic. Any state park within bike riding distance of Arkansas's largest metropolis would suffer the same consequences. Luckily, the rest of the park seems to be a well-kept secret, and could still be considered, perhaps, a small bit wild. No park in Arkansas can boast being "remotely wild," I'm afraid. Not even the revered Petit Jean. The park's "stubby anthill" is still just as awe-inspiring as other mountains in Arkansas; the fact that it is the most used makes no difference. Perhaps you have become jaded due to the fact that this mountain isn't "just an hour further down the road."

No two areas in Arkansas are the same — that is the beauty of our Natural State. I beg you to do a little bit more research on areas that you decide to publicly dismiss. Thankfully for everyone, no matter how far "West Little Rock's sprawl" increases, Pinnacle Mountain State Park will remain.

Gillian Hannah Rossi

Pinnacle Mountain State Park interpreter

Little Rock

Pro Circles

According to the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau, 19.7 percent of Arkansans live in poverty. 28.6 percent of those impoverished people were Arkansas children. Comparable to the United States, Arkansas ranked No. 48 of the 50 states having citizens living in poverty. Depending on your definition of what it means to be poor, those percentages may be lower or higher. However, the truth of the matter is Arkansas needs to do something to combat this very serious problem.

There are many negative attitudes towards people who need some form of government assistance to help them make ends meet. I'm sure many Arkansans hold these same opinions. Some feel as though people shouldn't receive handouts and need to work like everyone else. Yet what about those who do work but whose job doesn't pay enough to cover food or bills? The public has this perception that the majority of people receiving welfare benefits are deviants that are working the system. If citizens have a problem with how the government manages welfare benefits, why don't those individuals who criticize government solutions lend their own personal helping hand?

Circles USA is a national program with the goal of helping families out of poverty. It does so by bringing low-income people and middle-class community members together. The way the program operates is one Circle leader, a low-income individual, is matched with allies, middle-income members, who meet once a month. During these meetings the leader creates a plan to obtain the economic, professional and social resources to move out of poverty. The allies form a support group to aid the leader to achieve these goals. Some Circles programs offer classes that the leader can take to learn about budgeting, planning and setting goals. Circle programs offer training for communities and encourages them to tailor their programs to the needs of citizens in their specific communities.

There are some criticisms of the Circles program. New sites are cautioned that some participants take four or five years to move out of poverty. There is a maximum of 25 participants at a time, so there aren't a large number of people being helped at once. Circles has a "slow and steady wins the race" mentality. According to a Stanford Social Innovation Review, 64 percent of participants finish the program and their income was increased by an average of 28 percent while participating. This promising data is the reason why Circles advocates say small numbers of participants and adequate time lead to success.

I believe that Circles could be utilized very well in Arkansas. Personal relationships crossing class lines can only help in the fight against poverty. Learning about finances and networking with leaders of communities may be the tools needed for people to move away from being financially underprivileged. We all know the Chinese proverb, "Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime."

Kolby Harper

Gurdon

Correction

In last week's Comment, we mistakenly transcribed a letter from Kavion Wang, owner of Fantastic China. Instead of "Everything that comes from our kitchen is French and homemade" the letter should have read, ""Everything that comes from our kitchen is fresh and homemade."

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Tell us next time

I'd like to respond to the recent review your writers completed of my restaurant ("The good, the bad, the rubbery," Nov. 20). Fantastic China has a long, successful history (nearly 20 years) in The Heights area, and we have always been dedicated to providing the best quality food to the residents of Central Arkansas.

Tell us next time

I'd like to respond to the recent review your writers completed of my restaurant ("The good, the bad, the rubbery," Nov. 20). Fantastic China has a long, successful history (nearly 20 years) in The Heights area, and we have always been dedicated to providing the best quality food to the residents of Central Arkansas.

As in all businesses and personal interactions, there can be a bad day. The experience of the reviewer is not indicative of the quality of my restaurant and the food that comes out of the kitchen on a daily basis. Everything that comes from our kitchen is fresh and homemade, including all the appetizers like the dumplings and eggrolls. My chef has been with me since we opened and continues to make the food your readers and my customers love and keep coming back for.

I understand that people have different tastes and what may be too spicy for some may be just right for others. I appreciate the review of my business; however, I take issue with the fact that the reviewer did not bring his or her dissatisfaction with his meal to my attention or to the server's attention. I make every attempt to make sure that every one of my customers receives a quality experience when dining with me. If something is not right, it is fixed immediately. I was not given the opportunity to do so this time.

In the future, your reviewers should take all of this into consideration not just for my restaurant, but for all restaurants in the area.

Kavion Wang

Owner, Fantastic China

Little Rock

Fluoridation, Mandrake!

In March 2011, Gov. Mike Beebe signed into law Act 197, which mandates fluoridation for most water systems in Arkansas. Whether you were for or against the issue, you cannot deny that much research and discussion has taken place in the almost three-year period since the signing of it into law. It is important for you to read about it for yourself.

In my opinion, the fluoridation of our water is nothing less than the poisoning of our water. For those who perceive the need for it to prevent cavities in children, there are studies indicating, "It just ain't so!" But if you insist, then simply buy it in the form of toothpaste. And for all other water issues, such as bathing, the fluoridation of our water is going to be a waste of money. Consider the warning labels required on products containing fluoride, and ask yourself, if you really want to ingest this no-less-than-questionable substance into your body on a daily basis. Some may argue that they are not concerned about it, because they use water purifiers. However, not everyone can afford such equipment, and it is not fair for those who cannot afford a purifier to have to be forced to drink it. And personally, I do not want to rely on filtering it as being adequate.

This is a major issue for the health of each and every one of us. I suggest a letter campaign to our legislators, as well as to State Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, head of the Senate Public Health Committee, to bring to light the current research on fluoridation and the need for the overturning of that law.

Remember, Hot Springs voted against the fluoridation of our water many years ago, when the trend was big to accept it. So did Eureka Springs. My father, Dr. Cecil Parkerson, was a medical doctor in Hot Springs for over 50 years, and I know that he voted against the fluoridation of our water and felt strongly about it, and he was always ahead of his time in thinking.

The House has yet to designate the head for their Public Health Committee; however, you can call 501-682-7771 around January 12, 2015, to find out, and contact that representative about the updated research on fluoridation, and stress the need to work to overturn that law.

It is my opinion that the money spent for the equipment and maintenance to fluoridate our water supply will not only be a waste, it will prove to be a detriment to our very health.

Gail Parkerson

Hot Springs

From the web

In response to "Arguments today in lawsuits challenging Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage," a post on the Arkansas Blog by Max Brantley and David Koon:

Interesting that there was feeling on the state's side that the state had the right to deprive a class of its own citizens of some of their rights under the U.S. Constitution.

I hope we get the positive state ruling before the feds, or the state will come out looking even more backward than usual. And this certainly affects that Tech Park concept unless it is planned to be another white only, heterosexual only, right-church only private club and which means it won't be "high tech" and probably not "tech" but rather just assembly or a call center.

Creative people stay away from haters — they have no reason to put up with idiots as they can work anywhere, so why pick a hater's paradise. And Fayetteville, that's also for your consideration.

couldn't be better

If the state feels that they have the right to not recognize marriages from other states, then they should immediately stop recognizing first-cousin marriages and all the other marriages whose circumstances would prohibit an Arkansas license being issued.

If they had done that, then their argument might be valid. But they recognize all of those marriages, just not same-sex couples with valid marriage licenses.

That suggests animus.

Bob Donahue

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The future of Social Security

I've heard many people lament that Social Security won't be around by the time they need it. Social Security is quite sound and is well run. It has to be tweaked from time to time to keep it that way, and that's where the voters come in.

The future of Social Security

I've heard many people lament that Social Security won't be around by the time they need it. Social Security is quite sound and is well run. It has to be tweaked from time to time to keep it that way, and that's where the voters come in. If the voters put people in office who support it, Social Security will continue to thrive. If the people vote for candidates like Tom Cotton who oppose it, and if people like him achieve a majority in Congress with a like-minded president, Social Security will indeed fade away. It depends on whom the voters elect.

Both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush believed their elections in 1980 and 2004 were mandates to privatize and initiate the systematic destruction of Social Security. A Democratic majority in the House led by Speaker Tip O'Neill reached a compromise with Reagan to save it, and Reagan is still hated by many because of some of his benefit cuts. Mr. Bush was stopped primarily by a horrified public. I still believe his sneak attack on Social Security played a huge role in the Democrats' return to control of both houses of Congress in the 2006 elections.

President Obama stunned nearly all of his supporters in his first term when he put Social Security and Medicare on the negotiating table to achieve a "grand bargain" with the Republicans on the budget. Fortunately, the GOP didn't realize they had won and turned him down because they had decided to never agree with him on anything. Many of Obama's 2008 voters have never trusted him since. If he had agreed to weaken those programs, Mitt Romney would probably be president today because many previous Obama voters would have stayed home on Election Day 2012.

On Nov. 4, a majority of the 37 percent of registered voters who bothered to vote put both houses of Congress in the hands of the Fox-Republican-Tea Party, which is obsessed with sabotaging and ultimately destroying Social Security and Medicare. (That was the lowest voter turnout since 1942, when the nation was united by WWII.) That also means that the other 63 percent who neglected their obligation to democracy also "voted" to undermine Social Security and Medicare as well: Silence is consent.

With the election of Mr. Cotton to the Senate, Arkansas doesn't have a single supporter of Social Security and Medicare in Washington. Our four representatives in the House and now both senators are devoted to the agenda of the reactionary plutocracy that wants to dismantle our social safety net and return to the precarious past: the Koch brothers, Grover Norquist, Club for (Greed) Growth, Americans for Prosperity, ALEC, etc.

Regrettably, even President Obama has stacked his current 18-member Deficit Commission with 14 participants who favor cutting SS benefits. The meetings are held behind closed doors, and Erskine Bowles is its chairman! You've heard it before: They're probably planning to recommend balancing the budget on the backs of the seniors.

The OCED (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) has compared the social security benefits of its 34 member nations and eight other major economies and found the U.S. near the bottom. American workers' benefits rank at No. 36 among the 42 nations studied, right below Slovenia. We ought to be ashamed. Social Security is one of our most efficient and effective programs, but it should be made even better.

Instead, we will have a majority in Congress, and seemingly a president, that maliciously wants to reduce benefits, raise the age of eligibility to 70, and privatize it so the plutocracy can make a profit from it. This is what the majority of 2014 voters and all the no-shows evidently want. If that is what the richest country in the world truly desires, the future for American workers and seniors looks very bleak.

David Offutt

El Dorado

From the web, in response to 'The GOP in charge,' a Nov. 13 cover story by Benjamin Hardy and David Ramsey:

The answer to your question "What will it mean?" is: Some really stinky, awfully dirty shit is going to hit the fan, more so on the state level than the national level, so strap in and hang on, because we're in for a really bumpy ride over the next few years. If you want a quick and easy example, I'll simply point out the fact gas prices went up 10 cents the day after the election. Greed is good, and we're going to see and endure a lot of that attitude!

RYD

From the web, in response to Max Brantley's Nov. 13 column, 'Brave new Arkansas':

Yip. Our resident and nonresident billionaires paid good money for this.

Now ya'll bend over and enjoy it.

elwood

Here's a ray of hope amid the gloom: Essie Dale Cableton, an African American activist with Gould Citizens for Progress and the Arkansas Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s, was elected as mayor of Gould.

author

When you keep voting for the lesser of two evils, Max, sooner or later the electorate asks just how much worse could the other guy be? That's what happened to Pryor and Ross, they ran too far to the right.

Dottholliday

From the web, in response to Gene Lyons' Nov. 13 column, 'Time to govern':

Congress could lower the taxes of those corporations that raise the median wage of their employees. Or link corporate tax rates to the CEO to average employee pay. You want lower taxes, bring down the X number times earnings your executives make compared to the median worker's wage.

Lower taxes on those that share more profits to the workers. 

I know, good luck with that.

Imjustsaying

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Nonvoters will be hurt most

Greetings from the sane democratic republic of Ecuador. I see where the insane citizen of Arkansas voted to allow the Republicans to finish the job of bankrupting the middle class that George Bush started. We did not emigrate to Ecuador to avoid this disaster, but we will not have to watch the Tom Cotton experience as he screws all the idiots that voted for him.

Nonvoters will be hurt most

Greetings from the sane democratic republic of Ecuador. I see where the insane citizen of Arkansas voted to allow the Republicans to finish the job of bankrupting the middle class that George Bush started. We did not emigrate to Ecuador to avoid this disaster, but we will not have to watch the Tom Cotton experience as he screws all the idiots that voted for him.

How did the Republicans pull this off? First, there are the ones who voted against our black president. Second, the ones who will be hurt the most did not vote. This would not have happened in Ecuador for two reasons. First, most people here are colorblind. Secondly, every citizen must vote or pay a large fine. Every citizen is registered to vote and almost 100 percent do.

Nor Jones

Cuenca, Ecuador

Climate change must become central issue

Is it not strange that on a day most progressives, with whom I identify, are mourning the outcome of the U.S. mid-term elections, I am feeling particularly energized? Don't get me wrong, I am mortified by the prospects of both houses of Congress ruled by anti-science market-worshipers. Yet, I feel that the alternatives were not all that great, either. There is an unshakable feeling that the choices voters face with each election cycle are increasingly demoralizing. Voting is a civic and moral duty, we are told. Yet, when it comes to the actual crop of candidates one is supposed to choose from, casting a ballot becomes an exercise in easy-issue voting. Easy-issue voting is that Pavlovian response we all get when words like: pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gay or Tea Party are pinned to a candidate.

Before I elaborate, I must admit that I've never voted in a U.S. election — I'm not eligible — but, from the many friends I have who do, I keep hearing variations on the same sentiment: "They are all bad/corrupt/puppets." There is an undeniable frustration with the way representative democracy is practiced in the U.S. today. To this nonvoting observer, the issues that are being heatedly debated between both party's candidates, and those taken for granted by both, is what unsettles me. What is up for debate, it seems, are the fringe issues, the ideological ones that do not seem to really impact the lives of most voters. We find ourselves sucked into involved discussions on whether the biblical definition of marriage can accommodate homosexual ones, or whether terminating a pregnancy is indeed a personal choice.

These are all valid questions, of course, but not when the greatest existential threat our species ever faced is upon us. Devastating droughts, storms and extinctions are becoming commonplace and yet we are encouraged to neither question the causes nor ponder the consequences. It is almost as if disproportionately dedicating broadcast and cable airtime to color-coding the electorate map according to these ideological squabbles will somehow disappear the unfolding tragedy of climate change. If you think I am being hypocritical, i.e. admonishing issue-voting while insisting that the climate change issue should be the one deciding elections, I'll ask you to pause and think: If our role in climate change is significant, as impartial scientific research has proven, and if continuing our current pattern of resources management will definitely be catastrophic to us all, are we really doing what we can to stop, not to mention reverse, this trend? A good way to prioritize is to weigh the consequences of action, or inaction, on each issue on your list. If we are to do so, we can all agree that our priorities are messed up, and I think it is, in part, because those with influence over setting the agenda are not interested in having this conversation now. I feel energized today because I can see a great opportunity for all of us who are passionate about the well being of our fellow men to step up and, not only point out this great and grave oversight, but help bring about an awareness of what can be done. An ineffectual legislature will only highlight the discrepancy between the threat level we are faced with, and the irresponsible lack of response.

Mahmoud A. Sharara

Little Rock

From the web, in response to Evin Demirel's cover story, "War Memorial's days are numbered" (Nov. 6):

It doesn't take a business major to see where this was going. Hog fans need to act proactively now to start new traditions. Other team fans travel over 400 miles one way to see a game. Tennessee fans living in Memphis have a long drive to Knoxville. Many get tickets to Ole Miss or Starkville. Nebraska has large number of fans from the western part of the state that don't have Colorado any more as a closer game. They don't bitch about it; they get bus trips up or make the long drive and make it a weekend.

Hog fans can do the same. A new company just started train service in Northwest Arkansas to the games. Why not from Central Arkansas? Board a train or bus in Pine Bluff, then Little Rock, then Conway etc. Make Fayetteville the tailgate capital of the south. Get tickets to Mississippi games or LSU if you live in the southern or eastern part of the state. East Arkansas to Vandy is closer; go to those games.

Just think of all the new traditions out there to start! Don't cry just because you lost the Little Rock games; find other ways to show your support!

Skee Hee

I am a Razorback fan, but I refuse to drive three hours to watch a game when I can sit at home and watch it on my HD television. I believe having all the games move to Fayetteville will cause some big-time recruits to consider out of state colleges. I live in Little Rock, and if my son got offers from Arkansas, Baylor and LSU, Arkansas playing games in Little Rock where I could bring more family to watch the game in person would be a huge advantage for Arkansas. Otherwise, I would just as soon drive to Dallas or Baton Rouge to watch my son play for a perennial top 15 team.

Kentrick Lewis

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Stop drug war

Richard Emmel wrote a superb letter, published in the Oct. 2 issue, about stopping the drug war as a more humane and less expensive way to deal with those who have become addicted to drugs.

Stop drug war

Richard Emmel wrote a superb letter, published in the Oct. 2 issue, about stopping the drug war as a more humane and less expensive way to deal with those who have become addicted to drugs. Where are the lawmakers that have examined this issue rather than proposing to build additional prison facilities? 

Ken Good

Horseshoe Bend

Best pretenders

Once again, the Republican Party has seduced Arkansas voters with those sweet, meaningless words: "Trust me, we arent those other guys." And, truly, they arent. Never mind the details of who has done what or for whom, it has been enough merely to say that the grass is going to be greener on your side of the fence if you just open the gate and let me in. Maybe we forgot what it is that makes grass greener. If there is one thing our politicians have learned since that first group of runaways landed on our eastern shore its that selling tomorrow is a lot easier than actually doing some work today. The best pretenders got the most attention and now we have some slick sales people in jobs that arent designed for selling. They are designed for people with compassion, empathy, understanding, devotion to law and the wisdom to know when they are just faking it. If you werent paying attention before you voted, maybe its time to start looking to see just whose feet that green grass is growing under.

David Stedman

Damascus

Why NRWC ad?

The editorial staff is to be congratulated for David Ramsey's article ("A third and fourth way," Oct. 30) on the vital, if unsung, role played by "third parties" in our electoral system. Kudos also to Ben Hardy for his piece on the corrosive influence of big money in state races ("Shadow parties," Oct. 30). Both articles are a needy corrective to intellectuals who lack faith in the democratic process by considering a vote for the Green Party to be a waste and who have fuzzy notions about free speech.

So imagine my shock and confusion when, in the very same issue, I saw a full-page spread sponsored by the Virginia-based National Right to Work Committee with warnings about "forced unionization." Inside the front cover to boot. For over 50 years now, this organization with an Orwellian-sounding name has been a major promoter of "union avoidance."

The NRWC ad correctly claims that Tom Cotton is among the sponsors of the National Right to Work Act in the House (the Senate version was introduced by "libertarian" Rand Raul). But certain trivial details are left unmentioned. Like guess who are among the main backers of the NRWC? None other than Koch and Walton money.

Was the Arkansas Times leadership aware of this jaw-dropping fact before taking in the NRWC's business? Of course, the canned response will be that all sides should get equal time. But there is no equality in this case. In fact, the term "right to work" is the result of a concentrated propaganda campaign (Arkansas's right to work law dates to 1944). Furthermore, Wall Street is sitting on trillions in cash. "Big Labor" has spent upward of $400 million lobbying since the late 1990s while big business has spent billions. A little over 10 percent of the U.S. workforce is unionized (in 2010, it was something like 4 percent in Arkansas).

There is an assault on all democratic institutions, including labor unions and the voting rights of people of color and the poor. Why isn't Mark Pryor showing up the paper tiger Tom Cotton for what he really is, point-by-point? Why are state Democrats not drawing greater attention to the fact that a Republican like Leslie Rutledge seems to be guilty of the very thing her colleagues rail on about these day vote-fraud?

In recent years, the Arkansas Times has been touting the notion that Arkansans should not think outside the two-party box. Which is fine for we all believe in free speech. But I resent attempts, intentional or not, to help powerful special interests undermine democracy. Organizations like the NRWC hurt working Arkansans. Which is one reason why I proudly vote as a Green.

Anthony Newkirk

North Little Rock

From the web

On the Arkansas Blog post on former Democratic state Sen. Tracy Steele's endorsement of Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson:

Mr. Steele is not alone. Annie Abrams has endorsed Asa as well, this past week (do a Facebook search).

This seems to be the mantra of some of the connected folks in the African-American community. That should not be interpreted to mean all connected individuals.

The struggle I have is that perceived trickle-down is not going to happen with the Republicans. We (because I'm African American) just are not their interest.

A party that seeks to limit voter access, demonizes minorities, seeks to end healthcare access and seeks to treat me as less than a citizen in not working in my best interests nor is it a friend.

Sadly Arkansas voters will get the government it will elect, the party of the Koch brothers and Stephens. Annie, Tracy, Richard, et al. will get their rewards.

The rest of us can just get in line and hope for the best.

Richard929293

In response to an article in the Oct. 30 issue about demagoguery, including Tom Cotton's statement that Islamic rebels were training Mexican drug thugs to attack the U.S. and come to Arkansas:

Years ago, Russell Baker wrote a column about the frustration of Soviet military leaders who had reports that there were missiles in a place called "Arkansas." They could not find "Arkansas" on any map, so the missiles were safe. I suspect ISIS would meet with the same frustration.

Debbie Hyatt

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Pay attention

If you haven't been following the news lately, you might be interested in knowing the Arkansas Legislative Council is holding briefings or budget hearings by state agencies.

Pay attention

If you haven't been following the news lately, you might be interested in knowing the Arkansas Legislative Council is holding briefings or budget hearings by state agencies.

Now is the time to contact your friendly — or unfriendly — state representative, state senator and agency directors if you have an issue that affects you, your business or the area.

What are your concerns?

For example, everyone talks about the roads and how gas taxes are down. But why doesn't Arkansas dedicate the sales tax from vehicle sales, vehicle repairs, vehicle parts, etc. to the development of road improvements based on the county or zip code that it is collected in? If we had this at 50 percent for the state for regional roads, 25 percent for county and 25 for cities, then perhaps Metroplan and the Highway Department would have extended Hwy. 440 out to Hwy. 107 already. That would have been a cheaper North Belt solution. No tax increase, but a change in what agency gets the money.

Other issues of concern:

Child support being tax deductible and retroactive for as many years as the IRS allows.

Ending cost of living raises based on a percentage of an employees' salary. One percent of $150,000 is a lot more than 1 percent of $35,000. Do the lower paid employees not have a greater need to keep up with inflation?

Ending discriminatory city election systems that favor incumbents by allowing all city residents to vote on the aldermen who are supposed to represent a specific ward and requiring 10 wards instead of five wards with two aldermen.

Requiring all public agencies to offer their facilities to other agencies and local groups as needed — at just the cost of someone to look up afterward if the cleaning crew wouldn't still be at the facility still — so that a school auditorium or gym can be used for a city, county or organizational event.

Allowing businesses and people to deduct from their taxes anything they provide to a local government that improves their local area or provides a needed service for a local government, such as paying to improve downtown with a park or bandstand between Wendy's and First Arkansas Bank, or donating land and paying for equipment for mini-parks on vacant land or land with homes that need to be torn down.

What are your concerns? Speak up or suffer later.

Keith Weber

Jacksonville

From the web, in response to David Koon's cover story last week, "The martyr of Danville Mountain":

Excellent writing. Something like a hobo finding a friendly door back in the Great Depression, for reasons I don't know or can't remember, Jay and his brother rode up in our yard a number of years ago. Mag and I gave them glasses of ice water and a crumpled 20-dollar bill as we talked about endless war and the often unseen damage veterans bring back with them.

The visit only lasted about 10 minutes, and I forgot about it until I learned of Jay's untimely death. Since then two of my high school buddies have lost their sons by the same method after they returned from several tours of Afghanistan and Iraq and couldn't regain their footing and couldn't leave what they had to do and what they witnessed back in the Middle East.

Now Jay makes three and who knows how many more will follow a similar path in the future. Unlike WWII veterans, no one knows why these boys were sent to war and I predict no one will know 50 years from now. I don't even want to try to imagine the anguish these families are going through and will go through for the rest of their lives. I can only hope that someday America will not be at war and no one's son or daughter will take up arms in another country in defense of the Fortune 500.

Deathbyinches

From the web, in response to Max Brantley's column, "Clarke Tucker: a vote for the future":

Beside his name is a D, which rhymes with B, which stands for Barack. Hurst has a nice red R beside her name on the ballot. If that makes a major difference in a relatively progressive, educated district, it's a real statement about the state of the Arkansas electorate.

Jack Zibluk

From the web, in response to Joseph Jones' guest column, "Eugene Ellison: Little Rock's Michael Brown":

Dear blacks, if you don't want to die, don't attack people. Is that too much to ask of you?

Jack Elfingham

Dear Little Rock white cops, when you enter an elderly black man's apartment, unannounced, without warrant and give no warning when his disabled mind is confused while shooting to kill, you should be charged with murder.

eLwood

Ellison is no Brown. The difference is illuminating. Ellison was clearly a victim of police abuse and over reaction, much the same way that cops murdered John Crawford in Walmart.

The circumstances of Brown being shot are in dispute, and favor the narrative of officer Wilson, as Brown was NOT shot in the back, and had attacked officer Wilson.

If ever there was a case for protests, Eugene Ellison is that case, but Brown is NOT.

Steven E

From the web in response to "Obamacare is working," an Oct. 27 post on the Arkansas Blog by Max Brantley:

I'm telling you those people are so hard headed they'll kill the PO AND keep the tax cuts no matter how much they have to slash government services. And then we'll be back in court over school funding. ... But they won't care.

JB

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Cotton’s muddy record

The best thing we have to look forward to is the certainty that we will have someone other than Tom Cotton to represent us in the 4th Congressional District. His voting record has been an embarrassment to humanity. When his record was brought up as an issue after he announced his candidacy for the Senate, he accused his opposition of slinging mud. At least we know that Tom Cotton is honest: He acknowledged what his voting record looks like.

Cotton's muddy record

The best thing we have to look forward to is the certainty that we will have someone other than Tom Cotton to represent us in the 4th Congressional District. His voting record has been an embarrassment to humanity. When his record was brought up as an issue after he announced his candidacy for the Senate, he accused his opposition of slinging mud. At least we know that Tom Cotton is honest: He acknowledged what his voting record looks like.

Cotton voted against the Farm Bill, which everyone knows is vital to Arkansas. Why? Because it still contained food stamp appropriations! Contrary to popular belief, more whites receive food stamps than blacks. Single mothers and children are the primary recipients. Proper nutrition is essential for the development of the mind and body. A well-nourished child is more likely to become a well-educated student and a productive adult. Since Cotton is Harvard-educated, we should not allow him to claim ignorance on any of this.

It would be admirable if Cotton were seeking ways to make food stamps less necessary. Does he support efforts to get Walmart, McDonalds, etc. to pay employees a living wage? Does he support the meager increase of the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour? (Even though that's much better than $7.25 an hour, ask yourself whether that's enough to pay your bills.) Does he support putting millions of unemployed workers back to work by creating well-paying jobs to improve America's crumbling infrastructure of roads, bridges, dams, parks and electrical grid? (The construction of Interstate 69 across South Arkansas is still unfunded!) No. It seems that he just doesn't care.

Cotton agrees with many Arkansans that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has to be repealed. It appears to be a vote-getter to have the callous belief that in the U.S. only those wealthy enough or lucky enough to have a job that provides health benefits should be able to get insurance. However, by the end of this year, millions of people will have signed up for policies they couldn't afford before. Also, in states like Arkansas that expanded Medicaid coverage, hundreds of thousands have coverage who otherwise would be without (like those unfortunate enough to live in the wrong states). Are we really going to just take away their insurance?

Does Cotton want to replace the ACA with something better? Is he recommending universal health care: Medicare for everyone? Medicare is already fully operational, it works fine, and it's less expensive. (Many of those who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 have never forgiven him for not fighting for universal Medicare. Instead, President Obama immediately opted for the Republican plan proposed by the right-wing think tank Heritage Foundation.) No. Cotton has actually voted to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 70, privatize it, and turn it into a voucher system! That's a not-too-subtle method to destroy it altogether.

The Republican contribution to the ACA was the requirement mandate and the use of private (for-profit) insurance companies. It's doubtful Cotton and his Fox-Republican-Tea Party colleagues would really get rid of either of these. They both benefit the insurance companies. Remember, the Republicans asked Mr. Obama to delay the employer mandate for one more year; he agreed to their request; they've now filed suit against him for doing what they asked! So they obviously support the mandate. Don't you just love them?

There are ACA provisions Cotton and company would likely get rid of in any replacement program. They would be the Democratic contributions in the ACA that benefit the people rather than the companies. Do you really want to say goodbye to these: 1. You can't be kicked off your policy if you get sick. 2. You can't be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition; 3. Women can't be charged more than men. 4. If unable to get a job with health coverage, your son or daughter can stay on your policy until age 26. 5. The elderly can't be charged more than three times what is charged to younger policy holders. 6. The donut hole (the time when there is a gap before being covered again) in seniors' Medicare drug programs is being closed. 7. No more than 20 percent of your premiums can go to overhead, profits and CEO salaries.

One of the most shameful votes by Cotton was his opposition for relief aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Here in Arkansas, we have our fair share of natural disasters: tornadoes, droughts and floods. When we need federal aid, we need to have a representative in Washington with the credibility to ask his colleagues for support. Tom Cotton doesn't qualify. I don't recall his ever claiming to be a "compassionate conservative," which seems to be an oxymoron anyway, but we need a representative who is capable of showing empathy to those in need.

Cotton insists he votes according to his principles. I respect anyone with principles that make sense. But his anarchistic principle of opposing government of, by and for the people but favoring corporate rule is not a principle that I admire. I find deplorable his sociopathic principle of doing everything he can to help his corporate benefactors while sacrificing the rest of us. Nor can I find any redeeming value in his dog-eat-dog, every-man-for-himself principle. Cotton's muddy voting record stands on its own.

David Offutt

El Dorado

From the web

In response to "The story of Jimmy Doyle's Country Club" (Oct. 16):

Really enjoyed reading this. I used to come out there and danced all night. I'm so ready to come back and see if this old body can still party.

Yvonne Ware

I enjoyed reading the story. I have been a member of Jimmy Doyle's Country Club for about 21 years now and even though the crowd has gotten smaller, it is still my home away from home.

Angela Sweatt

I was one of the regular guys there always dancing, always had pretty women at my table. Guess maybe I was good two-stepper, don't know, maybe I was just a good-looking guy. Wish those days were back. Now I can hardly walk, but I would not do it any other way. Hope it never changes and stays open for a 100 more years.

John Franklin Studdard

Boy, did I ever exercise some poor judgment at JD's 30-something years ago.

Paul Covert

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Arkansas following Kansas over cliff

This has been an especially informative political season, but the most significant revelation comes from the state of Kansas, where Sen. Pat Roberts and his buddy Sam Brownback have built a Republican empire that has brought the state of Kansas to its knees.

Arkansas following Kansas over cliff

This has been an especially informative political season, but the most significant revelation comes from the state of Kansas, where Sen. Pat Roberts and his buddy Sam Brownback have built a Republican empire that has brought the state of Kansas to its knees.

To make the long horror story short, Sam Brownback took over as governor in 2011, instituted the perfect Republican reforms to "stimulate" the Kansas economy, and, naturally, these Republican reforms have crippled the state of Kansas.

Arkansas is about to do the same. If Arkansas continues to elect Republicans, our state will wind up just like Kansas, and we know it.

But, red state Arkansans are truly the same as the proverbial lemmings that follow their leaders right off the cliff. Wiser folks can stand and say, "Look, Arkansas! There goes Kansas right off the cliff," but the average Arkansas voter has already chosen the way of Kansas, and no one can convince a lemming to change direction.

The halcyon days of Democratic leadership in Arkansas will soon be over. It is time to accept the Kansas-style demise of the Natural State in the hands of Republicans. Over you go, Arkansas.

Gene Mason

Jacksonville

From the web

In response to an Arkansas Blog post about National Education Association ad criticizing Senate candidate Rep. Tom Cotton for his vote against the student loan program:

Is Tom Cotton running against Michael Bloomberg, President Obama or David Pryor? I've heard commercials indicating Bloomberg's radical idea of background checks for people purchasing guns is infringing on my 2nd amendment rights. Since I'm not a felon, stalker or spousal abuser I don't feel like it does. Maybe it's a good idea to try and keep weapons out of criminals', spousal abusers' and the mentally incompetents' hands. Just saying. Or is Tom Cotton running against President Obama? I hear TC say about every 10 seconds that ACA is bad even though it seems to provide healthcare and make nearly everyone pay something towards the cost. Why is healthcare a bad thing again?  Mark Pryor seems like the best guess as he seems to be linked to both Obama and Bloomberg frequently. If only Mark were as charismatic as those two he could smash the softball that is Tom Cotton out of the park.  Come on Mark (and all other D candidates), ACA makes most pay something towards their own healthcare. Surely in the age of Ebola we can all agree on the need for health care. Our founding fathers thought of it in Article 1, Section 8 of the constitution that put healthcare (general welfare) on the same footing as national defense. Come on Mark, uphold the Constitution.

Quid pro quo

In response to an Arkansas Blog post on the AETN debates between Senate candidates Rep. Tom Cotton and Sen. Mark Pryor and between 2nd District Congress candidates French Hill and Pat Hays:

Running against Prez Oblackula is a tired easy route for the ditto heads. Far more difficult if you run against Hays. Pat said he would not have voted for the Affordable Care Act if he were in Congress. Kinda hard to keep trying to tag him to Prez muslimkenyan. I suspect, folks like me in the middle liked the calm, upbeat, hopeful and collaborative approach from NLR versus the turdblossum backwash from the LRCC.

Yapper John

Just watched the Hays-Hill debate. I don't want to say that Hill is desperate necessarily, but when he tries to link Mayor Hays to the president, it just comes off as too great of a stretch. Hill tries to say he understands real people and talks about how he supports public schools, etc. Don't his kids go to private school? Isn't he a Country Clubber? I mean, what does he have in common with regular folks? French Hill has more in common with Milton Drysdale than he does with the Man on the Street.

Poison Apple

A few folks kept a count, during the AETN debate today: Cotton referenced "Obama" 74 times. A friend did the math and it comes out to once every 14 seconds in the time that he spoke. Textbook case of "Obama Derangement Syndrome."

elwood

In response to Benjamin Hardy's cover story "Family vs. institutional care in Arkansas" (Oct. 9):

This article is disgusting! People in the human development centers are not "forced" into institutions. They are not there as a last resort. The resident is in their "home" (should not be called an institution), because that is the best residential "choice" for the individual. Each resident has a legal guardian who makes the proper choice for that individual for the most appropriate place to live. DO NOT EVER JUDGE THE GUARDIAN FOR THEIR CHOICE. You do not know what the circumstances are for each individual and you should not judge them for their choice.

HappyHomeforKim

HappyHomeForKim, no one is arguing against the placement that you chose for your daughter. The point made by the families like the Dodsons (almost 3,000 of them) is that they want their son to remain at home with his family and friends. That's what I want for my son, too. As far as the cost is concerned, I believe Mr. Hardy interviewed representatives of DHS who stated that Medicaid expenditures are higher for care in an institution than care in the community. Individuals with disabilities and their families should have a right to choose between supports in the community or care in an HDC, but at this time they aren't afforded that choice. Not having another option does, in fact, force some families like the Dodsons to place their child in an HDC.

Diana DeClerk Varady

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Decriminalize drugs

Arkansas is about to make a costly mistake. Its citizens seem willing to spend $100 million to build a new prison. For whom are they building that prison? A high percentage of the prisoners will be young black male nonviolent drug offenders. Black males now have a 30 percent chance of going to prison.

Decriminalize drugs

Arkansas is about to make a costly mistake. Its citizens seem willing to spend $100 million to build a new prison. For whom are they building that prison? A high percentage of the prisoners will be young black male nonviolent drug offenders. Black males now have a 30 percent chance of going to prison. Is there anyone who thinks the new prison will end drug abuse in Arkansas? Has anyone thought of the consequences of incarcerating so many young drug offenders? $100 million is an unthinkable amount. However, that is the direct cost. Considerably more than $100 million will be spent to keep people in prison for years. The average cost for one year is around $30,000. The taxpayer never stops paying for a prison.

What happens when inmates leave prison? A more important question is what happens to these young people inside the prison? They learn to be criminals. When they come out they have no credit, no job and they cannot vote. At most, they might be able to get a minimum-wage job. With the misery inherent for an adult trying to live on minimum wage or, more likely, unable to get a job what is the possibility they will use the criminal skills learned in prison to survive? When ex-prisoners get to retirement age, they might get a minimum Social Security payment and certainly no retirement plan money. There is no end to their misery.

Our taxes create better criminals. When released and unable to survive under impossible conditions, many end up back in prison. In 2010, almost half the released prisoners were returned to prison. Instead of spending $100 million on a prison, we use money to rehabilitate nonviolent drug offenders. Once rehabilitated, we should help them get jobs with livable wages. For the small number (about 1.3 percent) unable to be rehabilitated, we should provide safe, affordable housing and some means to earn as much of their support as they are able to do. In simple terms, provide hope instead of depressive hopelessness.

Look at Colorado and Washington. They legalized marijuana. The police no longer chase after marijuana crimes. They now have time to investigate murder, rape, robbery and property crimes. Decriminalized drug states make millions from taxation of marijuana. The drug is controlled and regulated by the state. All the illegal activity surrounding marijuana went away with legalization. The citizens of Colorado and Washington benefit from marijuana instead of spending excessive amounts of money fighting a war against the plant that cannot be won.

Rather than build new prisons, Arkansas should follow the lead of Colorado and Washington. The governor should appoint a group of legislators to construct an amendment to legalize marijuana. We have the successful amendments of Colorado and Washington as models. As soon as the amendment is written and approved, it should be brought to the public for a vote. Further, the governor should free every nonviolent drug offender in prison covered by the amendment. Doing this would provide prison space and make building another prison unnecessary.

Arkansas should follow the results of decriminalized marijuana closely so that they can make a wise decision on decriminalizing other drugs. There should be many public discussions about regulation and control of drugs. That is to be expected. Eventually, we could be in the position of regulating and controlling all drug sales. The drug cartels, criminals and gangs will no longer control the production and selling of drugs. Besides eliminating the criminal element, government control of drugs will make them safe for the user. The state will benefit from taxation of drugs.

Ending prohibition of drugs is not a panacea. Drug problems will continue. We should fight drug addiction, just as we have fought tobacco addiction with sane regulations, good education, taxation, age restrictions, limits on usage, and clinics to help the addicted. Decriminalization will put the afflicted into the position of controlling their addiction rather than risking imprisonment to get their next high. Decriminalization cripples the cartels and gangs, reduces street crime, and that makes Arkansas a safer, more enjoyable place to live.

Richard Emmel

Little Rock

Social Security's future

Most Arkansans I have talked to believe their grandchildren will receive little or no Social Security in the future. This is puzzling because just 14 years ago, Social Security was in its heyday. Our federal government had a budget surplus and so did Social Security. Did George W. Bush spend all that surplus and more?

Arkansans today are probably correct. Social Security may not be available in the future, mainly because most Arkansas politicians today are fundamentally opposed to socialistic government programs, and Social Security is the great white whale of government socialism in America.

As Arkansans have resisted Obamacare, our state could also reject Social Security. Conceivably, if our right-wing legislators could prohibit all Arkansas banks from processing Social Security payments, leaving such processes to the federal bank and outside state banks that allowed government socialism. Of course, this would ruin the Natural State's economy and send hordes of Arkansans clamoring to other states, but this would be a glorious victory against government socialism. This would be just one of the great sacrifices Arkansans would need to make in order to save our grandchildren from socialism.

Remember when George W. Bush tried to privatize Social Security? Today's crop of Arkansas politicians think like Bush. They are fundamentally against the principles behind Social Security and may continue to strive to make Social Security un-socialistic and insecure.

Gene Mason

Jacksonville

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