Archive for Letters

Just talk

There is a lot of talk about "stop the violence" and, unfortunately, talk is all it really is. Few people are willing to admit this, but violence is money.

Just talk

There is a lot of talk about "stop the violence" and, unfortunately, talk is all it really is. Few people are willing to admit this, but violence is money. You have a problem believing violence is a big moneymaking market for mankind? The sale of drugs of all kinds is a multibillion-dollar industry. In America, money is power. The fight over the control of the sale of drugs has caused millions of lives to be destroyed. Violence among my people, by my people, is a disaster. People wonder why there is so much violence among black people? Well, go out and buy a copy of "The Willie Lynch Story" and many of your answers can be found. We have been programmed to be who and what we are; we have been robbed of all hope. Black people are like little turtles that are washed upon the shores from bodies of water by various tides. Few of those turtles make it back to the waters.

I feel there is a concerted effort to slow or stop the advancement of black people in America. Unfortunately, when you stop the advancement of one American, you stop the advancement of America. Black people have been in America for many years. What do we own? We don't own large factories or industries that are able to employ large numbers of people. So employment is in the hands of people who control whether we are employed.

We are almost set up to fail. Our young people are either sure to be incarcerated or go to an early grave by getting into early trouble. Once they into the criminal justice system, they are nobodies. Many of these prisoners are right at home in prison because they have no real homes on the outside.

Austin Porter Sr.

Little Rock

The difference between left and right

The breakdown of politics in America is fairly simple. Those at the top are for plutocracy, and the leaders on the left and right play to their respective bases to win votes. The upper echelon uses social issues such as abortion and gay marriage to keep the masses distracted from economic issues. In this way they can rob us blind while we fight over who is allowed to marry a person of their own choosing. The general populace, whether aligned with the political left or right, want basically the same things — access to health care, education and economic security. The difference is the conservative base wants these things for their kind only, while the liberal base wants it for everyone. That's basically it.

Rich Hutson


Promise must be kept

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump made a crystal-clear pledge to protect Medicare and Social Security. Now, as his term begins, older voters are counting on Congress to support President Trump's vow. This issue is looming because some in Congress are pushing for a drastic change in Medicare that threatens to increase costs and risks for those who depend on it. 

Proposals to create a voucher system, sometimes called premium support, could drive up costs that the 565,000 Arkansans who are now in Medicare have to pay out of their own pockets. And the pain will spread, as another 575,000 of our state's older residents enroll in Medicare over the next 15 years. Arkansas already has one of the country's highest rates of senior hunger, because of seniors' low income, so how are they going to pay additional premiums?

Americans have earned their Medicare benefits by paying taxes throughout their working lives. As our new president declared last year, "You made a deal a long time ago." That deal does not include cutting benefits and pushing up health care bills at a time in life when people can least afford it.

For more than 50 years, Medicare has delivered on its promise, bringing health care to seniors who were once shut out of the system. Yes, health care costs must be contained — but in a fair and responsible way, not by harming hard-working Americans and retirees. President Trump understands this vital principle, and we urge him to remind those in Congress who do not.

Larry Larson

Little Rock

The foster care crisis in Arkansas

As of November 2016, there were over 5,000 children and teens in Arkansas's foster care system, 30 percent more than the same time the year before.

During their time in the system, children may experience years of physical, emotional and even academic troubles. Studies have shown that kids in abusive homes may exhibit signs of delayed learning, aggression and attention deficit disorder. When kids are exposed to controlled substances at a young age, they may experience medical complications as they grow up. They may also encounter emotional problems away from home. Within just a few months of placement, many children show signs of depression and withdrawal. As they grow up, they are most likely to have higher rates of anxiety and poorer social skills at school.

Adolescents in foster care can have trouble with academic functioning. When they come out of problematic homes, many of them show signs of decreased ability to concentrate, and they are likely to make bad choices starting at a young age. Studies say that more than 75 percent of teens in foster care do not remain in school.

It doesn't require lots of effort to help; simply showing compassion and understanding for the children is enough. The most efficient way to contribute to the system is by publicizing the issue to the community. There are so many people in Arkansas who do not know about foster care, and it would be best to educate the public about this problem in our society today. With the help of many caring people, the number of children in the foster system can be reduced significantly, not only in Arkansas, but all over the nation.

Serye Kim

Hot Springs

In defense of the arts

he National Endowment for the Arts may soon be comparing notes with the Affordable Care Act, forgotten on the midden of history.

In defense of the arts

The National Endowment for the Arts may soon be comparing notes with the Affordable Care Act, forgotten on the midden of history. They will have a lot to talk about. Both will have died because they were seen as elitist forms of social welfare, and the GOP has been trying to defund them both since their creation. Reagan tried to defund the NEA in 1981, but gave up after hitting congressional resistance, something the current president will not have. In 1994, Newt Gingrich failed to eliminate the NEA entirely, but he succeeded in laying the ground work for budget cuts and restrictions on the endowment's ability to provide grants to individual artists — all concessions he won from President Clinton during budget negotiations in '96. For the last 60 years these attempts to defund the NEA have been based on the same foundation of disingenuous and willful misconceptions about the role and power of the arts in American society.

With its 2016 budget of $148 million the NEA sounds expensive, but let's keep in mind that this is less than 1/4 of the money raised by the Drumpf Campaign in 2016, and less than one 26,000th of the $3.9 trillion national budget. People who assign numerical values to things often find the arts frivolous, wasteful government spending, something with no material value. But consider this: Between 1966 and 2015 the NEA disbursed $268 million to various American dance companies. Among the organizations they funded was a little known group, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company. Today the Ailey Company has performed for over 25 million people, both in the United States and as a cultural ambassador to audiences around the planet. The NEA funded Martha Graham and Paul Taylor, both of which became institutions of American culture. They, along with the scores of other companies funded by the NEA, helped to foster a tradition of American creativity and expression, as well as establishing dance as an irrefutable facet of American identity. When American dance companies perform abroad, people of other nations sit and watch as our freedom unfolds before their eyes. 

The benefits of the NEA are not limited to foreigners' opinions of America, or their valuation of freedom. In 2013, I moved from Maryland to Little Rock to work for Ballet Arkansas, a company funded in part by the NEA through the Arkansas Arts Council. Through the Little Rock Creative Corridor project, we are participating in the effort to vitalize the local economy through the arts. This is a model that cities like Louisville, Ky., and Ashville, N.C., have proved successful. Indeed, the fact that the arts stimulate the economy is so obvious that it is enshrined in our language: dinner and a show. People who do not see the value in the NEA often make claims such as "the NEA keeps private individuals from donating to the arts" or "if we cut funding to the NEA private individuals will make up the difference through donations" or even "the NEA is welfare for the cultural elitists." These are tired, if well-rehearsed, arguments that pundits will defend with endless strings of statistics. It is true that defunding the NEA would not kill the arts in America overnight, but this is a shortsighted view.

As a career art professional, let explain how fundraising works to the think-tank elite who have never had to raise a dime. In any city there are a certain number of people who can be convinced to donate up to a certain amount to your organization. This number doesn't change drastically from year to year, and many people who donate to one organization also donate to others. If you remove government funding for the arts from the picture, local arts organizations are left fighting to make up the difference in their funding from the same pool of donors. Not only does the NEA fund performance organizations, it also offers grants to venues that hire performance organizations. Faced with both direct and indirect losses of funding, and unable to make up the difference competing with each other for donations, many smaller arts organizations would, over time, be forced to close their doors, taking the jobs they provide and the economic benefits that they bring with them.

Arguments over government funding of the arts go back to the founding of our nation, but never have the consequences been so dire. At its core, what the NEA supports is the most fundamental of American values: freedom. Not just the derivative freedoms of speech and assembly, but freedom of thought. No one can tell artists what to think, and no one can tell you what to think about art. This makes it dangerous to dictators. The defunding of the arts is the first step on the stairway of censorship. A government that controls the voices of its artists is a government that muzzles the conscience of a nation. 

Call your representatives right now.

Justin Rustle

Little Rock

Landlord-tenant laws need to be changed

Unfortunately for one-third of the homes in the state, Arkansas is the only state to lack an implied warranty of habitability in their landlord-tenant laws. An implied warranty of habitability guarantees the tenant that the housing unit is "habitable" and will remain so. Unless the lease agreement specifies what the landlord is to maintain and repair, landlords are under no legal obligation to keep their property in livable conditions because the law does not require them to do so.

The landlord-tenant laws in Arkansas offer no protection to renters. In addition to the lack of the warranty of habitability, Arkansas is the only state to have a "failure to vacate" law. This law creates criminal penalties for tenants who not pay the rent on time, and gives tenants only 10 days to move out. A late payment is a breach in a civil contract; however, Arkansas is the only state to criminalize a civil contract breach. A civil contract breach requires compensation, not jail time.

While the law is there to protect landlords from freeloaders and property damage, the law protects the landlords at the cost of the tenants' living conditions and protection. The Arkansas landlord-tenant laws need to be amended to include an implied warranty of habitability and remove the "failure to vacate" statute.

Katherine Evans


[Editor's note: Several circuit courts around the state have found the failure to vacate criminal statute unconstitutional].

More of the same

Authoritarian? C'mon, folks. The extremes of both sides are completely drowning out the bipartisan middle's take (that maybe I'm just naive enough to still claim exists).

More of the same

Authoritarian? C'mon, folks. The extremes of both sides are completely drowning out the bipartisan middle's take (that maybe I'm just naive enough to still claim exists).

I've been very concerned about the breadth of executive branch power over the past 16 years and this all seems to be a continuation. With George W. Bush's White House counsel torture memos and Obama's unprecedented use of the 1917 Espionage Act against nine whistleblowers and skirting congressional obstructionism with reliance on wide-ranging executive orders, some truly terrible precedents have been set for the future. And yes, they set up entirely too well for the current fellow in office, who's not too big on "process."

This is why we've got to hold leaders within our chosen political parties accountable and not be so shortsighted about important principles. We should certainly always stand up for free speech and government transparency. Am I right, or am I right?

Jeff B. Woodmansee

Associate Professor

UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law

From the web

In response to last week's cover story, "Big Ideas for Arkansas":

Thank you for this always-interesting feature, Arkansas Times!

I would like to clarify a claim made by Marion Humphrey Jr. in regard to how many Rock Region METRO student 31-day passes eSTEM distributes to its students. The eSTEM CFO, Mark Milhollen, told me that eSTEM has roughly 100 students using these passes as of Jan. 27. With a current enrollment of 1,462, 100 students is 7 percent of the student population at eSTEM.

Our public transit system is serving students of a variety of ages every weekday, taking them to educational opportunities throughout the county. Whatever your beliefs on charter schools, it makes great sense for as many students who are able, whether they are public school students (including traditional public school students and charter school students) or private school students, to make use of our community's existing public transportation resources. With more investment, our system could reach even more area students, helping to reduce traffic congestion and giving parents and other caregivers an opportunity to let a professional driver get their students to school with safe, reliable and affordable transportation. We enjoy connecting people with opportunities, including the students of Pulaski County! Parents and educators can learn more about our system at

Thanks for your support of public transit, and ride on!

Becca Green

Director of Public Outreach

Rock Region METRO

North Little Rock

Regarding the post about recess in elementary schools, I agree wholeheartedly. However, I believe one of our wonderful state senators was trying to get a law passed requiring a cursive writing class at some grade. This would be great for the future learning and production of our youth. (Yes, that is sarcasm.)


In response to the Jan. 30 Arkansas Blog post, "Gov. Hutchinson's scam to slip giveaway for soda industry into military retirement tax exemption bill":

Our state has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the country. So, let's make it easier for the sugar peddlers to feed the beast.

And blending one bill with another that has nothing to do with one another is pathetic and dishonest. This is another example of our elected officials not giving a crap about our military and pathetically sliding a crappy bill underneath their sacrifice.


More of Asa and crew's corporate welfare. Make the corporations earn their money honestly, and not rely on taxpayers to make a profit.

Sound Policy

Ah, the incredible honesty of Republican lawmakers. Now they've got one of America's greatest scammers in the White House (remind me: how many bankruptcies did Obama go through before getting elected? How many divorces?), they have a true professional to emulate.


Always spineless Asa, always!

What a crock of stinking doodoo, brought to us by those self-professed small-government, fiscally conservative, lying liars with R after their names!

I choose to call them "Teapublibans."


In response to the Jan. 30 Arkansas Blog post "Remove two LR high schools from 'academic distress' list, Education Dept. recommends":

And so it continues. LRSD with 48 schools has 6 (12 percent) declared academically deficient and get taken over while a state-sponsored charter school in Little Rock has never passed the requirement (100 percent fail) and they give it another 13 years of uneducating people. How many other charters and private schools are getting a Republican Board of Education free pass?

couldn't be better

Time for Johnny Key to leave LRSD alone and to return the district to local control. He had little or nothing to do with LRSD's improvements, so his usefulness is questionable anyway. 

Jake da Snake

What happens to Michael Poore if the district is returned to local control? Does he have a contract that guarantees him a certain term as superintendent? I watched him when he was superintendent in Bentonville, and he served creditably. I thought he was crazy when he gave up that position to take the Little Rock one. Time will tell whether he will survive or not.


In response to the Jan. 30 Arkansas Blog post "Bentley's bill restricting use of food stamps passes House":

Are they going to give grocery store owners' tax breaks or pay them for the expense of making all these changes? Will there be blind studies to show the results of this action?


I am really not as naive as the following comment might make me appear, and far be it from me to defend a woman who would threaten to use her elected position to take a game warden's job for giving her husband a ticket, but removing public funds from the purchase of foods that are clearly unhealthy is not a terrible idea. Such an action would not correct the problem of poverty-induced obesity, but at least the action would diminish the enablement a bit. The people of limited disposable funds do not have to eat for satiation; they just do so out of habit, and no small amount of susceptibility to advertising. The amount of sugar added to everything from children's cereals to salad dressings is huge, disappointing, and entirely intentional. Putting a bit of economic pressure on the decision process as to what to buy and eat would help. The major transgressors, such as sugary soft drinks, are very easy to identify. If Asa is trying to slip through additional support for the soft drink industry, I just cannot imagine how any decent human being could be part of such an action and how anyone could sleep at night.


You know, Mary does not not exactly fit the profile of someone who has been eating healthy, and she has all the money she needs to do so. The poor people she has targeted have to try to eat enough bulk to make them feel sated, whether healthy or not, so as to just get through the night and live another day. The smugness and condescension on these dictatorial legislators continues to dismay me. Remember, she is the one who threatened a game warden with his job when he ticketed her husband. Why do we elect these kinds of people in Arkansas, when there are so many more people who could do a better job?


She wrote this bill from the back of her rainbow-farting unicorn, so, you know it's grounded in reality.


A 5.7 earthquake away from destruction

I woke up recently to tragic news: A 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Italy triggered an avalanche, burying a resort hotel filled with vacationing families, causing loss of life and devastation across the region.

A 5.7 earthquake away from destruction

I woke up recently to tragic news: A 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Italy triggered an avalanche, burying a resort hotel filled with vacationing families, causing loss of life and devastation across the region.

That same number — 5.7 magnitude on the Richter Scale — has been on my mind for weeks. Ever since I received a copy of a letter that describes what a 5.7 magnitude earthquake could do to Oklahoma's Cushing Oil Hub. It's not a pretty picture.

Arkansas's neighbor to the west has been experiencing massive earthquake swarms that are increasing in size and magnitude. Oklahoma's earthquakes are caused by wastewater injection wells used by the oil and gas industry. Despite agreement between the U.S. Geological Survey and the Oklahoma Geological Survey on the seismic consequences of injecting oil and gas wastewater deep underground, Oklahoma continues to allow thousands of these injection wells.

Cushing is known as "The Oil Pipeline Crossroads of the World" for good reason: With capacity for 80 million barrels of oil (and 42 gallons in each barrel), you do the math. The letter, sent by the EPA to Oklahoma's agency overseeing the oil and gas industry, is dated Nov. 22, 2016. It was written a month after Oklahoma's biggest earthquake: Pawnee's 5.8 quake in September 2016.

According to the EPA and Department of Homeland Security, and referenced by the U.S. Geological Survey and Oklahoma Geological Survey, an earthquake of 5.7 magnitude at the Cushing Oil Hub could destroy infrastructure and release untold amounts of crude oil into the environment.

Recently, Erin Brockovich, the respected environmentalist and subject of an award-winning film, traveled to Oklahoma to meet with families whose homes have been destroyed by nonstop earthquakes, now averaging up to three per day in Oklahoma.

Arkansas is the unhappy recipient of Oklahoma's seismic activity due to faultlines running east and west through the Ouachita Mountains and because of the Ozark Mountains' proximity to continuing tremors in Oklahoma. Now, an additional threat has emerged: Valero's Diamond Oil Pipeline. The Diamond Pipeline could be the final straw, adding 200,000 gallons of oil per day to this seismic area.

Originating at Oklahoma's Cushing Oil Hub, the Diamond Oil Pipeline is to be constructed through every watershed, river, farmland and forest between Fort Smith and Memphis. The Diamond Pipeline would terminate at Memphis's Valero Oil Terminal (after tunneling beneath the Mississippi River).

Recently, a group of fearless young people staged a sit-down strike at the Valero Oil Terminal. They studied the peaceful methods of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and knew they would be arrested. But they made their point: Memphis is at the heart of the New Madrid Fault zone, site of the most devastating earthquake in United States history. The Diamond Oil Pipeline connects what is currently the nation's most seismic region (Oklahoma) with the historically deadly New Madrid Fault zone, converging above the Memphis aquifer, upstream from the fertile Delta.

What could possibly go wrong with this scenario? We know what can go wrong, thanks to the EPA's warning to Oklahoma's oil and gas commissioners. The increasing seismicity of the Cushing Oil Hub constitutes a threat to national security, and building the Diamond Oil Pipeline compounds that threat.

Total destruction is only a 5.7 magnitude quake away — a magnitude that comes closer to reality with each passing day.

Denise Parkinson

Hot Springs National Park

The end

Democracy in our country is dead. It's not going to resurrect. It will decay quickly in the fetid cesspool we have so mindlessly built around us by our narcissistic fascination with exploitation and waste.

Our president for the past eight years tells us as he departs that "we will be fine." Only if by "fine" he is describing what we will be ground into under the heels of corporate plutocracy. The past week offered us serial insults in the way of so-called candidates to lead the highest executive offices of our government. Each one is a personal affront to every American citizen. As a group, they are suited only for the careers from which they were drawn. Those careers are designed solely to exploit the common good for the purpose of personal profit: the exact opposite of democratic government.

The Democratic Party representatives in the so-called "confirmation hearings" showed us they have become nothing more than another "pussy" to be grabbed, abused and tossed into the overflowing landfill of what we never have been able to accomplish. The already crippled and soon to be put out of its misery "news" media merely scrabbled for whatever crumbs were tossed their way when they could force a brief break from preening among themselves.

You want hope? It's not going to leap at you from whatever flickering screen has absorbed your few seconds of attention span. It's going to happen when that demagogue comes to crush you and you have the guts to kick its ass. That's going to take some preparation. The current trend line says you're not up to it.

David Steadman


From the web

In response to last week's cover story, "Plant of the year," about medical marijuana:

The only dope I see in this is [marijuana policy expert Mark] Kleiman, talking about things he is not in touch with, and coming up with a term like stoned-hours. He has no idea what he is talking about, and the issue of the drug problem is that it will save lives, and help people (who really want to) quit using the opiates, that are killing them. Also, why isn't the state putting out a call for people with experience with this sort of thing? They are flying blind, and have absolutely no idea as to what they are doing, and need to be doing. That's a glaringly obvious fact that no one seems to think is worth mentioning.

Dale Worthington

In response to Autumn Tolbert's Jan. 19 column, "A heart in this house":

Autumn Tolbert, thank you. I met Rev. Barbour in Selma two years ago. A new moral leader for our country. Like my guide, my colleague and my friend the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We have a democracy, a country and a world to save.

Strider Benston

The elections woke people up, a good thing, and that caused some people to feel insecure about their future, especially when you have a president-elect that can't convey his thoughts into a structured sentence with a beginning and end. He is just giving out information from the middle of a sentence. We aren't getting good information from him. His Cabinet and staff picks have been rather one-sided and some are scary people with extreme views. We will find out more information next week. I have been watching a lot of late-night talk show comedians and they provide some much needed laughter, so I don't take the shifting politics too seriously, which can ruin your whole day. There are a lot of political groups and PACS forming that are made up of good people that have felt the need to take some action that will produce and recruit strong candidates to run for offices that will be open in the 2018 election, such as [the ones held by] Governor Hutchinson, Treasurer Dennis Milligan, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and more. A good benefit that comes from marching Saturday is that you will meet some energetic people from a lot of different organizations. I think the march is important for my mental health.


Taking on trainers

As our legislators return to work this week, they will take up House Bill 1040, preventing athletic trainers from practicing in nonclinical settings and severely restricting what they can do to provide assistance to students.

Taking on trainers

As our legislators return to work this week, they will take up House Bill 1040, preventing athletic trainers from practicing in nonclinical settings and severely restricting what they can do to provide assistance to students.

As someone who has worked in college athletics for the better part of the last 15 years, I have seen up close the fine work that our certified athletic trainers do to keep our student athletes healthy.

However, State Rep. Joe Farrer (R-Austin) apparently does not see the value in the services provided by my colleagues in the athletic training profession. Perhaps, as a physical therapist, he stands to have a personal financial gain due to these restrictions, as the treatment of certain spine injuries and post-surgery rehabilitation — treatments that ATCs are licensed to conduct — would be reserved for off-site physical therapists under this legislation.

In a Dec. 20 story on KARK-TV, Channel 4, Farrer was quoted as saying "some local physical therapists and I have had some issues with some of the athletic trainers in our area. We need to clear up some of these issues."

Perhaps Farrer would like to clear up his conflict of interest in introducing this insidious legislation — if conflicts of interest even bother us anymore. But that is unlikely, as he was apparently "too busy" to discuss this legislation with KFSM-TV, Channel 5, in Fort Smith earlier this week.

Certified athletic trainers not only help students heal from injuries, they help prevent injuries, and in some cases, they save lives. Would the same interventions by athletic trainers that saved the life of a college student athlete in Arkansas be illegal because of Farrer's issues?

Just a few short days ago, the Mississippi State University basketball team's bus was just 200 yards away from a car that flipped in a single-car accident. Riders on the bus pulled the driver from her car, and she was then evaluated by the team's athletic trainer. Would that evaluation be illegal in Arkansas because of Farrer's issues?

The needs of our students are greater than any issues causing Farrer any personal consternation, and frankly, his complete lack of sound judgment in introducing this terrible bill gives me full confidence to say that I trust the talented and competent certified athletic trainers in the state of Arkansas far more than a politician with an axe to grind.

This bill currently sits with the Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee in the House. I implore the members of that committee not to let Farrer's issues take precedence over the wellbeing of Arkansas students. Kill this atrocious legislation immediately.

Paul T. Smith


The fallacy of deterrence

Last week's article "The 91st Arkansas General Assembly: It's going to be a beast" was, overall, an excellent summary of significant legislation we may expect this year. However, I wish to correct one statement from the article regarding guns on college campuses.

In reviewing circumstances related to the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon (2015), the article incorrectly stated that UCC banned guns in violation of Oregon state law. In fact, individuals (including students) with concealed handgun permits were allowed to carry their weapons on the UCC campus and in classrooms. This fact was reported by Politifact in November 2015 when a Florida state senator declared UCC was a gun-free zone).

UCC was anything but a gun-free zone. It was known at the time of the shooting that many students had concealed handgun licenses and were carrying concealed handguns on campus. At least one of those students spoke to news media immediately following the shooting.

We are told that permitting concealed handguns on college campuses will deter mass shooters. UCC proves the fallacy of the "deterrence" argument. Knowing there were armed civilians on the UCC campus, the shooter attacked anyway. Perhaps he was hoping for a firefight that would create additional casualties? We may never know, or we may learn more when the final report of the shooting is released later this year.

Stephen Boss

Arkansans Against Guns On Campus


From the web

In response to "The 91st Arkansas General Assembly: It's going to be a beast":

2017 will be the first year where we really find out exactly how heartless some of our elected legislators can actually be. We had better buckle up, because we're in for a long, bumpy ride here in Darkansas!


Thank you to the Arkansas Times for organizing this important information. Thank you Rep. Greg Leding for providing the public with a plan of action. There are still a few legislators with common sense and decent morals. I know their names. I really believe we need to hire an exorcist for the Arkansas State Legislature. They are being socially harmful, irresponsible, unreasonable, irrational, counterproductive, discriminatory, overreaching and they are hurting the state economically by driving away business and tourists. Why do they hate the people of Arkansas? Because we get in the way of the Arkansas Legislature's true God: power and greed. The political machines have offered them a lot of easy money to go down in the history books as unpatriotic traitors to their state and their country.


In response to Ernest Dumas' Jan. 12 column, "Glass houses":

The USA has meddled in the attempts of people in numerous other countries to govern themselves. That other countries and governments, and corporations spanning all the above, might use psy-ops to influence our governance should be understood. However, we should hold our leaders accountable for making false, perhaps dishonest, perhaps misinformed (lying or just dumb) statements to us, and we should try to educate an electorate capable of recognizing and responding to such challenges. These are likely to be the nature of future invasions of our borders. The redcoats are coming, via the internet and similar mechanisms, not so much by the boats and planes of yesteryear. I felt much better having a president who demonstrated the capacity to comprehend, understand and work in the nuanced gray areas of modern challenges than I feel looking forward to having a simpleminded bully thumping his chest and not really thinking about anything in particular.


In response to Gene Lyons' Jan. 12 column, "Hillbillies":

I mostly agree with Gene; however, he failed to point out that, in the introduction to the book, J.D. Vance stated that he was a conservative in his political views and was not pretending to present an academic and unbiased viewpoint of his subjects. This book was too personal for that. This explains his tendency to assign some blame to the "hillbillies" for their own predicament. However, that does not diminish his explanation of the failure of government, or why the people are the way they are.


Because I put my name on what I write, I have avoided many discussions on race in Arkansas. Perhaps I need to find a pen name, because my experience has been that anyone who contends there isn't hateful and two-faced racism from border to border in this state has lived a sheltered life. Regarding the book, I don't understand the empathy for the racist views. Call it as you see it, if you're gonna write about it.

Rick Fahr

I've seen Mr. Vance interviewed once about his alleged "memoir."

It took even the likes of me about three minutes to determine that he is a complete and utter fraud; he's had about as "hardscrabble" a life as Ivanka Trump and, since she's at least nominally in business, she probably works a lot harder.

Of course, you may want to buy this big pile of crap for investment purposes; I hear that a copy of Clifford Irving's bio of Howard Hughes commands a high price on eBay these days.

Joe Quimby

My problem with the haters is that they have pretty much destroyed the concept of "common good," and are against anything that would improve the common good because it would help people they don't approve of. Doesn't matter why they don't approve, they're just against helping those "others" even if it would also help them. And "others" is most easily defined by race. Because it's so easy.

Vance at least acknowledges that he doesn't understand why more people don't escape the same way he has, which, in my mind, makes him a whole lot less smart than what he thinks he is.


On the issue of hate: Many ignored voters felt "hated" by the press and Clintonites — constantly referred to as "uneducated" — as if formal schooling is the only definition of "educated" — and constantly lumped together as racists, xenophobia-ites, etc., and totally ignored by the Democrats. Vladimir Putin didn't stop Clinton from going to Wisconsin. The self-righteousness of the press was truly ridiculous and still is. Liberal used to mean caring for all the people — whatever happened to that concept? Hubris.

Investigator of both sides

For gun sense

Since the attack at Ohio State University, lawmakers have offered solutions they believe would prevent such scary events.

For gun sense

Since the attack at Ohio State University, lawmakers have offered solutions they believe would prevent such scary events. Recently, state Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) argued that all Arkansas colleges should be forced to allow the presence of loaded, hidden guns on campus, because shooters intentionally pick so-called "gun-free zones" like college campuses to wage attacks.

However, an analysis by Everytown for Gun Safety found that only 14 percent of mass shootings from 2009-2015 took place in so-called "gun-free zones." Of the at least 133 mass shootings since 2009, only two occurred at a college or university. Lawmakers like Collins are relying on this false notion of exaggerated vulnerability to carry out the gun lobby's aim to allow guns into as many places as possible with no questions asked.

In 2013, our legislature passed a law allowing faculty and staff with concealed carry permits to be armed at our colleges and universities, with the condition that institutions could choose to opt out of the law annually. Three years later, every single Arkansas college has continuously chosen to keep guns off their campuses — and they have good reason to do so.

While some may believe that only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad one, the fact is most civilians have not received law enforcement training on how to respond to active shooter incidents and severely lack the expertise required to stop a shooter.

What's more, allowing the presence of guns on campus would burden campus police and other first responders with the task of having to quickly decipher during a violent incident if a person holding a gun is a "good guy" or criminal.

If you believe our lawmakers should respect the decisions of our campus communities and ensure that Arkansas colleges continue to remain safe spaces in which to learn, I urge you to join Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. There is simply too much at stake to back down now.

Eve Jorgensen

Little Rock

Congressional perks

Did you know Congress works 10 months out of the year, taking the entire months of August and October off? Sixty days of vacation? Do you get that much? Did you know that in the 10 months they are in session they average three workdays a week? They get four-day weekends every weekend. Do you get this?

Robert Johnston

Little Rock

Lawn commandments

Governor Hutchinson signed the bill putting the Ten Commandments on the Capitol lawn. He's a lawyer and knew it wouldn't pass the Supreme Court. But before he was a lawyer, he and his wife were graduates of the fundamentalist Bob Jones University. He won't publicly admit that now, but it still compels him to sign bills by religious nuts that he knows to be illegal.

Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) says the Ten Commandments are the basis of American law. Some questions: Please show me where the Ten Commandments made the genocide of the Native Americans OK? Where did it authorize the Trail Of Tears? Where did it make the Salem Witch Trials OK? Which commandment made slavery OK? Where did Jim Crow get authorized? Where did it make the internment of innocent Japanese Americans morally right?

For that matter, where did it say torture and secret prisons under George W. Bush was OK? The simple fact is that Rapert is a phony who is pushing his religion on us with the lie that our government was built on the Ten Commandments. The above stated proves that!

And our governor is complicit in that effort because he signs such bills out of religious compulsion or to get the cooperation of his fellow fundamentalists in his "save the rich folks' money" administration.

Time will bear out what I'm writing here, I believe. Not to mention the taxpayers' money it will cost us in the courts.            

Karl Hansen


From the web

In response to Best and Worst 2016

Always the best read of the year.

Claude Bahls

The best read of the worst year.


Rapert is gonna be pissed he did not get a mention ... or did I miss it?

Arbiter of All Things AOAT

In response to an article in the Dec. 15 issue about the medical marijuana commission:

I have some concerns about how a commission [whose members] voted against medical cannabis and were appointed by opponents of medical cannabis will be able to make fair, unbiased decisions that would best benefit and meet the needs of seriously ill patients. Alleviating unnecessary suffering is what this law is supposed to be about. It sounds like the commission still wants to continue the arguments for and against it. Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman said "not everyone in the state voted for it and we have to be conscious of that." What has that got to do with anything? The majority of the state voted for medical cannabis. Period. There wasn't a rule that said you had to cater to the minority that was against it. Does this mean the commission is going to dilute the law and only halfway honor the "will of the people"? Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2 million people in the presidential election. Do you think Donald's new Cabinet members are looking for ways not to offend or hurt those 2 million voters? I was wondering about the comment that the commission can also impose fees and receive revenue from other sources. Will these fees and revenue be available to the public? I have a hard time believing that Speaker of the House Jeremy Gillam did not receive any applications [for the commission] from attorneys who have experience in state rules and regulations. You would think Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, would have an overabundance of them.


Ride it out

Before the JFK assassination and the dawn of conspiracy theories, we trusted our government to tell us what was what. Ike might hold back a few facts in the interest of national security, but he would never flat-out lie to us.

Ride it out

Before the JFK assassination and the dawn of conspiracy theories, we trusted our government to tell us what was what. Ike might hold back a few facts in the interest of national security, but he would never flat-out lie to us.

The 1960s changed everything. Lyndon Johnson misled us to cover up mistakes and failure in Vietnam. Nixon conducted secret raids against Laos, Cambodia and the DNC. Ever since that time, we have been witness to a parade of misinformation emanating from our leaders.   

Acid flashbacks: The government put out PSAs warning that they would be coming our way. Many spent 1970s in fear. Today, with old age upon us, we might welcome one or two just to break up the monotony. As it turned out, those flashbacks were just another empty promise.

Y2K: Need I say more. It took me years to get rid of the cans of tuna fish and evaporated milk I'd stockpiled for that dud.

Weapons of mass destruction: Last month my fourth-grader came home and told me his math class was trying to find the common denominator. I felt sorry for the lad. We were looking for that denominator when I was a kid and I truly believe it will never be found. It may be time to put weapons of mass destruction in the same category.

For decades, the public has been fed misinformation on a regular basis, but 2016 took the art to astounding new heights. We are through the looking glass now. In the words of Grace Slick, "logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead." I'm afraid there is nothing to be done for a bad trip ... err, so I've been told ... but to ride it out.

David Rose

Hot Springs


It is the nature of living things to prey on each other. Carnivores prey on herbivores and other carnivores, herbivores prey on plants, and, in some cases, plants are the predator. Just consider the Venus Fly Trap. It's that whole "circle of life" thing. 

Humans are also not exempt from this predator/prey relationship. While instances of humans actually eating other humans in a literal sense are rare, or at least antiquated, we are the predators and prey of each other nonetheless. I mean, here we are just a few days into the new year and there have already been six homicides in the state, at least as reported in the news at the time of this writing. 

Also, consider the fact that we are the only animals that, as the saying goes, "pay to live on the planet." This cost of living too often comes in the form of a predator/prey relationship. People need and want things, and other people prey on those needs and wants. The prey in this situation may not experience a literal death, such as a sheep devoured by a hungry wolf, but a death in the form of a loss of freedom. The prey in this scenario succumbs to a form of slavery. There is loss when a person's wellbeing is at the mercy of a predatory system designed to make them pay to live for the entire span of their life. This is the "circle of life" for humans. We pay to be born, we pay to live, and we pay to die.

Modern humans have lived on the earth for either 200,000 years or 6,000 years, depending on whether one subscribes to the theory of evolution or believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible. Either way, you would think in both instances we would have had the time to rise above the level of plants and animals. Guess not.

Rich Hutson


From the web

In response to the Jan. 9 Arkansas Blog post "Legislature opens, House speaker calls for collaboration, civility":

It sounds like a good idea, and I have made a promise to myself to try to hold my tongue about the legislature this session. Let's see how long I can keep this promise.


I'm trying to remember if Sessue Hayakawa, in his role of Col. Saito, the commandant of the Japanese Prison Camp in Burma during World War II in the movie "The Bridge on the River Kwai," ever spoke to the inmates about "collaboration and civility." I don't believe he ever used those words. 

Since Democrats in the Arkansas legislature hold not even a quarter of the seats, there will be no "collaboration and civility" in the legislative session starting today. We'll see a giant steamroller rolling over a little group of ants. Probably wordlessly except for the faint screams coming from the little pile of crumpled ants.

Let's be supportive of our tiny ant army in the legislature, but all they'll be able to do in this session is throw roadblocks at bad bills. They'll never stop them from becoming law because the votes aren't there.


Shorter translation is: Democrats should sit down and shut up. And we can all get along just fine.

wannabe conservative

Civility? Collaboration? Where did this come from? Has he been talking to some well-qualified public school educators?


Arkansas’s top grantmakers

I enjoyed reading Leslie Newell Peacock's recent article about Arkansas's top grantmakers. But our foundation is feeling a bit left out.

Arkansas's top grantmakers

I enjoyed reading Leslie Newell Peacock's recent article about Arkansas's top grantmakers. But our foundation is feeling a bit left out.

The Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas should appear on your annual list, coming in around No. 12 in your ranking. During 2015, we had assets of $47.3 million and awarded $3.1 million in health-improvement grants to organizations in Arkansas.

Our foundation was created in 2001 by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield to fund health-related programs solely in Arkansas. In our 15 years of grantmaking, the Blue & You Foundation has awarded more than $27 million to 1,036 health programs in Arkansas, in 176 communities and in every county of the state, except one (come on, Prairie County!)

Thanks for continuing to recognize and report on the importance of philanthropy in Arkansas.

Patrick O'Sullivan

Executive Director

Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas

Fact check

Whoa! Watch those decimals.  In the report of Arkansas's top grantmakers, the assets of the Walton Family Foundation are listed as $2.6 trillion.  In fact, they are approximately $2.6 billion (at book value; about $3.1 billion at fair market value).

Mike Watts

Little Rock

From the web

In response to the Dec. 19 Arkansas Blog item "Arkansas electors vote for Trump amid protests":

I don't remember the exact year, but many years ago my mother was selected to cast a vote for the Arkansas Electoral College. Even back then, I thought it was a concept whose time had come and gone and I begged her to decline the position. She considered it an honor and when I refused to congratulate her, my dad intervened (not good!). I told him I would never support something that took power from the people and gave it to a select few. 

Hubby and I were having the Electoral College discussion last night and I told him what I did to my mother and that 30 to 40 years later, I still feel the same way.

So what if there is a bigger concentration of people in California than Arkansas? That doesn't make the people who vote in California any less significant, enough to diminish the value of each one of those individual votes. But we are doing that exact thing and that's just not something I can support.

But I am sorry I was disrespectful to my mother.

mountain girl

A winner in name only

When this indirect election system started in 1789, the person receiving the most electoral votes became president and the runner-up got the vice president's office. The 1800 election with President Adams and Thomas Jefferson showed the problems with the system, so the Constitution was quickly amended so candidates have run specifically for president and vice president. By the way, in 1800 Jefferson became president and Aaron Burr vice president. How did that work out? Can you say "Burr-Hamilton Duel"?


In response to the Dec. 15 nonprofit profile of Arkansas Women's Outreach:

Thank you, David Koon, for bringing attention to the dignity of homeless women in Arkansas and for the information on how to contribute. Great article. I applaud Katy Simmons and Rachel Achor for seeing an overlooked need and doing something about it. Many people may just think of the male gender when they think of the homeless people in Arkansas. There has been an increase in the number of homeless women in Arkansas over the past two years. Women, who unfortunately find themselves a part of Arkansas's homeless population, have basic, everyday needs, just like women who aren't homeless. Personal hygiene is very important to improving peoples' mental and physical health. Thank you, Katy and Rachel, for starting Arkansas Women's Outreach and for doing something practical to restore the dignity and quality of life to Arkansas's homeless women.


In response to the Dec. 8 story, "Arkansas archeologist does his job, is asked to leave":

In this new age of Donald Trump, more of this will be going on until the Section 106 review process is completely removed as a requirement.

Marc Henshaw

You are hired to do a job. You perform exceedingly well in the job. You are fired from the job for doing so (excellent job performance). What does this say about the folks in charge of said employee?


This is what happens when a dilettante is made head of an agency requiring actual knowledge. I thought at the start that the director would be a disaster after my disappointing experiences with her as my city councilwoman. Now with the atrocious new headquarters building and yet another example here of failure to follow the most basic steps to preserve knowledge about the city's past we see that we are getting what we voted for with Governor Hutchinson. All governors are guilty of patronage. But rewarding smart people who know their jobs and foolish people who just want to be in charge of something is quite a different thing.


CORRECTION: The feature on the top grantmaking foundations in the Dec. 15 issue of the Arkansas Times had an error in the order of magnitude by 3, reporting the Walton Family Foundation wealth in the trillions rather than billions. For 2015, the family foundation reported assets of $2.6 billion and grant awards totaling $373 million.

Obama to-do list

It must be extremely frustrating for President Barack Obama to see our country heading for the end of the pier knowing there is nothing he can do about it. There are, however, some things he can alter and he should focus on those.

Obama to-do list

It must be extremely frustrating for President Barack Obama to see our country heading for the end of the pier knowing there is nothing he can do about it. There are, however, some things he can alter and he should focus on those.

1) Change the national anthem. Nobody can sing the Star Spangled Banner outside of those sopranos at ballparks, and even half of them can't get it right. How about something by Woody Guthrie, Ray Charles or, my favorite choice, ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man"?

2) Straighten out this dollar coin fiasco. People never did warm to Susan B. Anthony. I'm sure she was a fine person but she looked like Robin Williams in "Mrs. Doubtfire." Sacajawea was an individual to be admired but the courage she displayed in going with Lewis and Clark was a bit overplayed. After all, she was living in North Dakota and married to a Frenchman. How much worse could things have gotten for her? Let's put Marilyn Monroe on the coin. Put Elvis on the flip side and people will sew leather liners into their pockets just so they can carry more of them.

3) Get rid of the designated hitter. You can mess with curling, cross-country skiing or synchronized swimming all you want to and nobody will give a flip. Change the rules of hockey or soccer if you must, but baseball is sacred. 

4) One charger fits all. We don't need half a dozen hanging out of every outlet like Rasta dreadlocks. And while we're at it, let's make all those checkout line touch pads universal as well. 

5) Get Christmas under control. Only an outgoing president with nothing to lose could take this on. I've heard it said that we are at war with Christmas. We are, and we're losing badly. Christmas has overrun Thanksgiving and sprinted across the open ground between there and Halloween like Hitler's Wehrmacht across the Russian steppes. Appeasement doesn't work with Madison Avenue. If we don't do something, and do it soon, we will be listening to insipid Christmas carols piped into our lives all year long. 

David Rose

Hot Springs

Not a path forward

Autumn Tolbert ("Stay the course," Dec. 18) doesn't like it when some folks say Dems should back off "identity politics" in favor of a progressive economic message that will appeal to the populist right. What she doesn't seem to get is that these rural white voters see themselves as the victims, as opposed to the groups normally identified by the left as being disenfranchised in this country. These people can't be shamed into voting Democratic by pointing out how mean they are. The only chance to win their votes is by appealing to their pocketbooks. Without their votes Dems will remain virtually irrelevant, which certainly won't do much for their "identity politics" agenda.

Rich Hutson


In response to Tolbert's guest column from the web

Thank you, Autumn. I agree that we cannot compromise an inch on the value of equality or tolerance under the law, not even in the prioritization of expressing those values. When equality is threatened for any individual or group, it is immediately the priority. Aside from being a moral absolute, we have to assume that no one else will stand up for those threatened minorities. Votes can be swayed in other ways. Arguments can be reframed. An opposition party can halt the erosion of rights even in the minority. For inspiration, think of how good the Republicans have been at being a legislative roadblock, even from 2008-2010 when they were the minority in the House and Senate. Civil liberties are much harder to re-win than votes.

Scott Brock

"It's not a matter of choosing our battles; they've already been chosen for us."

... by the Republicans, of course. Do you really think they want to do anything truly substantive or final about any of those pretended concerns? They do not, in the main because those hot topics keep Republican voters very active. To resolve any of those issues would mean to lose those myopic voters and the rhetorical (and supposedly moral) upper hand against Democrats.

In the meantime, the Democrats spend far too much time in this rhetorical twilight zone far from the concerns of the average voter. I think it can be stated flatly that people who are concerned about how to pay their bills or make the rent might not give a fuck what bathroom a transgender person has to use, even if they have nothing against transgender persons and even wish them well. They just don't care.

Democrats keep bringing knives to a gunfight. I can tell you who will win every time.

A lot of you are going to have to realize that voting Obama into office wasn't the great icebreaker a lot of us thought it was going to be. Instead we've mobilized the racists and haters as a kind of blowback for our socially progressive viewpoint. And just like Clinton before him, Obama was actually a bit to the right of center. The end result was a huge sacrifice for very little gain. In hindsight, it was probably the dumbest thing Democrats ever did. And I voted for him, too.

I am just going to state it plainly: We put a black man in the White House and we thought everyone would be cool with it. Newsflash: They really weren't cool with it!

But hey, sure, whatever, keep poking fear-motivated voters like the average Republican into always voting against your causes. That'll work for sure


Dems path forward

The Arkansas Dems can lead by doing the opposite of what the national Dems did when they reelected the same leadership in charge since the equally embarrassing losses as seen in Arkansas. Electing 75-plus-year-olds is no way to embrace the youth.

From the web:

In response to Jay Barth's Dec. 1 column, "Arkansas Democrats' rocky road forward":

The Arkansas Dems can lead by doing the opposite of what the national Dems did when they reelected the same leadership in charge since the equally embarrassing losses as seen in Arkansas. Electing 75-plus-year-olds is no way to embrace the youth.


Northwest Arkansas has been a Republican bastion forever, so I think this part of Barth's analysis is wishful thinking. Alas. And the appeal of populism goes "way" beyond rural voters. Finally, does anyone think the boutique feminism of "Pantsuit Nation" is going to win hearts and minds in a state that has been so nasty to Hillary Clinton? I really wanted to like this piece, but I just can't.

Jay Ball

The Arkansas Democrats are disorganized. Black Democrats distrust white leaders who failed to support Obama and who fail to support black candidates. The state party website is a mess. It appears that there are almost no activities on the calendar. Every county should have regular meetings with interesting speakers. The county organization is the fundamental component of a healthy party. The chairman and executive director should be speaking across the state on a regular basis. Democrats need to focus on the unifying and necessary issues of improved education and environment. The crime rate in Little Rock is a direct result of terrible schools. The Democrats need to worry more about fixing the schools and less about supplying jobs for inadequate administrators and teachers. Arkansas river quality is terrible, yet Beebe builds a steel mill for the Kochs and Asa puts in a paper mill for the Chinese. Connor Eldridge and Nate Steel ran good campaigns, but there was nobody out there to help them. The party chair should have ripped in to Boozman's trips to Paris and Asa's paper mill and $1 million renovations to the governor's mansion. The party apparatus is a dysfunctional mess, which serves only to greet the Clintons when they happen into town. The Clintons are not that popular in Arkansas anymore. Perhaps they should be invited to give some money to some Arkansas charities to increase their standing in the state. It is disgusting when people serve as governor and then leave town. That applies to Huckabee as well.


So let me get this straight. The Jay Barth who is writing this article about what the party should be doing is the same Jay Barth who actually thought he had a chance running as an openly gay white man in a majority African-American district and actually thought he could win? Nothing wrong with him being gay and white, but if he was naive enough to believe he could win in that Senate district, one has to question his political acumen. So why is anyone listening to him? Forget about his poor judgment in running for the senate for a minute. Just look at this article, where he writes about Pulaski and Washington counties as being the start of an activist movement in Arkansas. If you want to follow Pulaski and Washington county's lead, then the Democratic Party is definitely screwed. Most see the Democratic Party in those counties as a social club for LGBT and liberal elites. If he thinks the "activist energy" of Pulaski and Washington counties is going to change the state, he (again) is naive and sadly mistaken. The Democratic Party in this state has totally abandoned rural Arkansas. People have abandoned the party because the party has abandoned them. Bernie understood this. I don't agree with everything he stood for, but he was at least trying to talk to the disenfranchised. I admire some of the things these activists are doing, but again, do you have to call it "Pantsuit Nation?" It just highlights that Hillary lost and how out of touch the Democratic Party is. And before someone starts hollering about how she won the "popular vote," I understand that. But that is simply because she won California. She failed miserably in the Rust Belt. The Democrats need to get back to what made them dominant in days of old, and that was first and foremost, looking after working families. Yes, they need to do candidate recruitment. That is a "no brainer." But again, if he thinks the activism in Pulaski and Washington counties will translate to rural Arkansas, he is flat wrong. Keep ignoring 80% of the population and you will keep getting the same results.


From the Dec. 4 Arkansas Blog post, "Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus":

And thus we give microphones to morons.


To the best of my knowledge, Bill Clinton never addressed Arkansas Boys State saying that the way to win a case in the Arkansas Supreme Court was to talk and talk and talk, until you turn black in the face. Bill Clinton never did use the office of governor to try to deny children access to public education on the basis of the color of their skin. As I remember, Orval earned $10,000 a year for about 13 years, at which time he retired into a house estimated to be worth $300,000. Oh, and Orval was never elected president of the United States. Really, Jason?


"I don't think honoring a serial adulterer is the image we want to project ... "

Well Rapert, you just voted for one!! You will be honoring him on January 20. 

What a load of crap!

Bass Clef