Archive for Letters

Remembering Howard Baker

Howard Baker died in late June. The former Tennessee senator was one of the last moderate conservatives in the Republican Party.

To the Editor:

Remembering Howard Baker

Howard Baker died in late June. The former Tennessee senator was one of the last moderate conservatives in the Republican Party. He is best remembered as the co-chair of the Senate Watergate Committee (1973-74) who asked about his fellow Republican Richard Nixon: "What did the president know, and when did he know it?" He became known as the "great conciliator" and, as Senate minority leader (1977-81), helped Jimmy Carter get ratification of the extremely important Panama Canal treaties. Majority leader in 1981-85, he retired in 1985 before his party finished its purge of people like him who actually believed in public service.

I wish he were equally remembered for helping us get through the last two years of the Reagan administration, which had virtually collapsed during the Iran-Contra affair (a scandal that appeared to be more constitutionally serious than Watergate). He gave up a possible bid for the presidency to become Reagan's White House Chief of State and restored order out of criminality and incompetence. He never wrote a tell-all about the mess he inherited and never took personal credit for his actions. He always gave the clueless, but appreciative, Reagan credit for everything.

Because I lived in eastern Arkansas in 1972 and 1978 when Baker was campaigning for re-election to the Senate, much of my television news came from stations in Memphis. I recall a TV ad in which he told a group of senior citizens that as long as he was in Congress they would never have to worry about losing their Social Security or Medicare benefits. Can you imagine any Republican saying that today? It would be a political kiss of death.

In stark contrast to Howard Baker, who led a loyal opposition, Eric Cantor rose to power as the House Republican majority leader using strictly extreme partisanship. Since 2010, he worked tirelessly to prevent the House of Representatives from ever taking constructive action on anything that might solve any of our numerous problems: high unemployment, low wages, our deteriorating infrastructure, domestic violence, et al. Although extremely influential, he was practically anonymous. A few years ago, he was the answer to a clue on TV's "Jeopardy." The contestants on that show are always knowledgeable people, but not one of the three knew who Cantor was.

Ironically, Cantor was considered to be the Tea Party's heir apparent to the inept John Boehner as Speaker of the House. But Cantor had the same flaw as Boehner — as perceived by the Fox/Tea Party wing. They each have had moments when they remembered that they really should help govern rather than sabotage the country — like when the debt ceiling needs to be raised to allow the U.S. to pay its debts and prevent our becoming a failed, deadbeat nation. So Cantor wasn't quite extreme enough and a little-known Tea Party challenger primaried him this summer and defeated him.

Shortly after his defeat, I was vacationing in Colorado at Valley View Hot Springs, near the one-street town of Villa Grove. Whenever I'm out there, I always drive into town for breakfast at its iconic trade store. There is one table in the cafe section that is always occupied by loud coffee-drinking locals who discuss the current news together. One morning Cantor's defeat was the major topic, but their dilemma was that none of them could figure out why he was so important. They were all guessing wrong until I finally had enough and blurted out from two tables over that he was the Republican House majority leader.

Poor Cantor — he was hardly known by anyone outside Washington right up to his political end. But it's not his professional end. He not only quickly resigned his leadership position but, as of Aug. 18, his district seat as well. He's going to make millions on Wall Street, officially working for those whom he's been effectively working for all along.

In a dictatorship, there is only one way to do things. The four-year Republican majority in the House has been wasting time scheming to privatize or end the social safety net, voting repeatedly to repeal the newly acquired health insurance for 8 million Americans, trying to eliminate all abortion options for women, attacking Hillary Clinton, and shutting down the government. Therefore, little time has remained to deal with much of anything else. Meanwhile, the Republicans in the Senate, while a minority, use the filibuster rule to require a 60 percent vote to move anything along, so nothing's being done there, either. It's their way or no way.

In a democracy, all the people are supposed to have a voice. But if one of two major parties, like the Fox/Republican-Tea Party, decides to become the Party of No ­—as it did after Obama's 2008 election — then we no longer have a democracy. Politics is the art of compromise, and compromise is the only way that democracy works. The former GOP has been taken over by Kamikazes, anarchists and sociopaths who work solely for themselves and their wealthy donors, like the Koch brothers. Our former democracy has been replaced with a plutocracy.

For our democratic-republic to ever work again, we need a loyal opposition, not saboteurs. Sadly, we aren't going to see any more Howard Bakers anytime soon. I'm reminded of what one of those guys at the Villa Grove Trade Store said: "The Republican Party won't be able to properly function again until it gets rid of the Tea Party, like a bad case of diarrhea."

David Offutt

El Dorado

From the web:

Ferguson

It's unquestioned that law enforcement agencies across the fruited plains have been and continue to be armed with weapons formerly reserved for the military. Why and to what ultimate purpose is anybody's guess.

Meanwhile, a rally of Darren Wilson supporters (he's the officer who shot Michael Brown six times, according to the independent autopsy) — all white — present a disturbing picture of distorted thinking.

"He got exactly what he deserved." 

"He had cause for shooting this boy. Seems like they overlooked the fact that he robbed a convenience store."

Norma Bates

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Arkansas needs to take responsibility

Recently, two Arkansas legislative committees approved a resolution opposing the proposed EPA carbon pollution standards (the Clean Power Plan), which requires states to develop and implement plans to reduce carbon emissions. I appreciate the Aug. 12 Arkansas Blog post by Benjamin Hardy, which presents facts about the EPA rule proposed in June, and suggests that the committees' resolution was a political stunt. A subsequent blog post by Hardy reported that a leading energy efficiency expert praised Arkansas efforts to develop a state implementation plan to curb carbon emissions.

Arkansas needs to take responsibility

Recently, two Arkansas legislative committees approved a resolution opposing the proposed EPA carbon pollution standards (the Clean Power Plan), which requires states to develop and implement plans to reduce carbon emissions. I appreciate the Aug. 12 Arkansas Blog post by Benjamin Hardy, which presents facts about the EPA rule proposed in June, and suggests that the committees' resolution was a political stunt. A subsequent blog post by Hardy reported that a leading energy efficiency expert praised Arkansas efforts to develop a state implementation plan to curb carbon emissions.

Sadly, these Arkansas legislators prefer to avoid their responsibility to protect our health and environment, and have joined the fossil fuel industry, which is choosing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to derail the EPA's proposed standards. The naysayers tell us we have to continue depending on fossil fuels or it will cost jobs and hurt the economy. But ongoing reliance on fossil fuels will be extremely costly — carbon pollution and other emissions will continue to harm our health, accelerate climate change and keep America from benefiting by being a leader in the global clean energy economy.

A strong Clean Power Plan will increase renewable energy generation, create an estimated 2,200 efficiency-related jobs in Arkansas, save Arkansas household customers $57 million a year on electricity bills, and reduce state carbon emissions by 1.9 million tons by 2020 (ICF International Inc. 2014 analysis). I hope that Arkansas continues to be a leader in state implementation of the Clean Power Plan.

The costs of doing nothing are too high. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to not be passive spectators. Tell your legislators to promote renewable energy and limit damage to our health and our planet from fossil fuels. Let the EPA know you support stronger limits on CO2 pollution (comment at www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards). Join Arkansas Climate Advocates (climateadvocates.net). Shifting to a safer, more responsible clean energy economy is the most important challenge of our time — if we work on this together, we can save the Earth.

Rick Owen Little Rock

Bravo on the bus

My wife, Nancy, and I had a wonderful time Friday taking the Arkansas Times bus to the Johnny Cash Music Festival in Jonesboro. Tiffany Holland and the staff of the Arkansas Times made the trip very pleasant. They were friendly, accommodating and provided excellent service. Amy Garland was wonderful with her music en route to Jonesboro. Most everybody on the bus joined her in singing songs that we have learned over many years. The more beverages that were consumed, the better the singing — well, the louder the signing. The restaurant at Jonesboro, Godsey's, served an excellent meal and the waiters were superb. They served approximately a hundred meals within a few minutes of our arrival. The entertainers for the evening, Reba McEntire, Loretta Lynn and Bobby Bare were first-class. It was obvious that the packed house (10,000) thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Thank you so very much for providing quality entertainment for Arkansas.

John Russ

Little Rock

ACA an important corrective

I don't often agree with Ernie Dumas' take, but he is right on the money with his article about the Affordable Care Act ("Cotton's 'some folks': Obamacare helps 230,000 Arkansans"). As someone who has worked for insurance companies, (Gallagher Benefits, Humana Military Health Services) as a benefits coordinator for a hospital and a manufacturing plant and, most recently, in a specialty medical clinic with the primary duties of "extracting" payment from insurance companies, I agree 100 percent that, however flawed, this act has improved the lives of thousands. While at the clinic, I saw too many patients who couldn't even afford to stay warm in winter, much less pay the hundreds and thousands owed from visits, tests and surgeries, so they either did not get the services at all, or went into serious debt from which payment was seldom received. On the flip side, it — no exaggeration — took me six months to a year to convince an insurance company to pay for procedures. This is, sadly, a common occurrence. As a final insult, the largest insurance companies have call centers overseas. Although many of those employees are well trained and most are courteous, one often falls into menu hell when trying to reach someone who can actually address and solve your particular issue.

I suspect the well-funded hue and cry that current advertisements present as being from "the people" to get rid of Obamacare are from insurance groups that don't want to quit making hundreds of millions. If this act is repealed, then shame on the politicians who sold out!

Pat Gleghorn Corning

From the web in response to Max Brantley's Aug. 14 column, "Little Rock: Where the gold rules and just about everybody is connected" on the Little Rock Board of Directors' decision to allow a Murphy Oil gas station to be built on University Avenue despite opposition from city planning staff and neighborhood groups:

You don't appreciate the terms "property value" and "helpless" until the City Board makes zoning changes out of the blue like this near you, your largest asset, your home, where you live and your children sleep.

West Little Rock did not fund the city services that allowed the growth; the board at that time gave that honor to the suckers as well.

Diogenes

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Democrats and poverty

Why do liberals hate the poor? You somehow equate being unwilling to give up American sovereignty and not leaving our southern border unsecured as "Heartless" (Week That Was, Aug. 7).

Democrats and poverty

Why do liberals hate the poor? You somehow equate being unwilling to give up American sovereignty and not leaving our southern border unsecured as "Heartless" (Week That Was, Aug. 7). The reality is that Democrats want the borders open for no other reason than to provide a future voting base of poor and are willing to work with corporatist whore Chamber of Commerce Republicans who want to please their corporate masters by increasing the supply of cheaper labor. Why is this bad? Main reason is it creates a labor surplus for the entry-level jobs needed by the youth currently here and for blacks of all ages. You can't increase the supply of a commodity and expect it to hold its value. Democrats are complicit in creating a surplus of low skilled labor. Liberal leaders don't care who they hurt and are willing to work with open border Republicans to get unregistered Democrats.

Why blacks don't hold Democrats accountable for what is a tag-team attack on the poor I don't understand. You keep repeating the absurd meme that conservatives hate the poor and minorities when conservatives want everyone to succeed. Keeping people poor makes no sense from an economic standpoint. We do have real evidence that Democrats support policy that hurts the poor (amnesty anyone?) and LBJ famously stated "I'll have them ni**ers voting Democrat for the next 200 hundred years ..." when he started the War on Poverty. Add to that liberals insisting blacks be confined to seriously underperforming public schools as a payoff to the teachers' unions and it's hard to believe blacks think Democrats actually want to help them. I'll believe liberals want to help the poor when Democrats start designing policy that doesn't create more government dependency.

Brice Hammerstein

Sherwood

From the web

In response to Will Stephenson's Aug. 6 cover story, "Where were you on Pharoah Sanders Day?":

Wow, I am a rabid jazz fan and after living in LR for more than 10 years, and I did not know that he was a native! For those interested, Clark Terry, a huge legend of the jazz world, is currently residing in Pine Bluff, and seemingly fighting some health difficulties admirably.

Anyway, the most recent recordings I've heard with Sanders are on Kenny Garrett's "Beyond the Wall" and "Sketches of MD." The man is 70-plus years old and still recording with the biggest, forward-looking musicians — that should tell you something.

munkle

In response to Max Brantley's Arkansas Blog post, "Think early closing for private clubs would depress crime? Try this":

I assume that if they offer a proposal to cut the hours of business for legitimate businesses, there will be an accompanying budget cut in the police department budget since obviously there isn't a need for more to sit in donut shops waiting for those nonexistent calls? Floating shutting River Market hours at 9 p.m. and eliminating those late-evening activities on the riverfront will further cut the need for police. Why, you can do that Fourth of July celebration from noon to 3 p.m. and stop a lot of complaints from noise to drunk partygoers. What a great opportunity for the nannies on the City Board to turn the clock back to 1850!

couldn't be better

Another stupid political machination by a small-minded politician(s). And I'm not particularly a supporter of late, late-night clubs.

If you want to see the crime rate drop, you've got to actually study crime. This is been hinted at during these discussions, but never really addressed: Do a comprehensive study of crime in Little Rock/Central Arkansas. Study ALL the call-outs by police and the types of crimes they investigate. Then let the people know what's going on in their city.

Then you would know what to do to actually make a difference in crime in our fair city.

Cherry-picking the problems that happen at places that have the least political support only positions a politician for re-election. It's not going to have any serious impact on crime.

It's all about the next election. Not about making anyone safer.

Perplexed

When I was younger, much younger, my father was complaining about me staying out past midnight. I didn't understand what the issue was. I never got in trouble and my friends and I weren't doing anything wrong. Simply spending time together. He said there wasn't anything to be doing past 10 anyway. I asked him what he did after 10. He replied in a high-pitched really-sockingp-it-to-me tone, "I'm in bed"! I simply and calmly replied, "Then how do you know what there is to do after 10?" As angry as he was his argument was over.

Just because the elders of this city are fast asleep during the night doesn't mean that's when the monsters are out. I work for the city in "emergency public service," and I assure you, first-hand, nightclubs contribute very little to all of the problems we tend to during the night. The fact that they would even say this is laughable and proves, at least to me, that those that are in favor of this proposal are completely out of touch with the reality of what goes on throughout the night in this city.

AtomicBang

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In defense of Joan Adcock

In regards to Max Brantley's editorial on the issue of after-hours clubs ("LR's nannies target clubbing," July 31), I would like to defend Mrs. Joan Adcock as one of the hardest working public servants I have ever met.

In defense of Joan Adcock

In regards to Max Brantley's editorial on the issue of after-hours clubs ("LR's nannies target clubbing," July 31), I would like to defend Mrs. Joan Adcock as one of the hardest working public servants I have ever met.

I have personally worked with her on several occasions. Every year she is an active representative at our neighborhood associations' annual meeting. She informed me of a grant that is available to improve neighborhoods in the city and encouraged our association to apply. She is a constant supporter of the Animal Village and personally volunteers there. She is a vibrant member of Neighborhoods USA. She always returns citizens' emails. These are just a few examples of her commitment to our city.

My point being that she does not deserve the scorn of Mr. Brantley. I don't agree with her on the issue of forcing after-hours clubs to close early. That does not diminish my regard for her as a representative of this city. I am glad she is available for all wards. Although I take a keen interest in local politics, I personally couldn't pick my specific ward representative out of a lineup. I feel Mrs. Adcock is one of the good guys who may not always be on our side of the argument, but she does not deserve to have her reputation maligned simply because she disagrees.

Michelle Noto

Little Rock

In praise of teachers

I really enjoyed the interviews in your "LR Confidential" issue. I learned a good bit. The transgender woman was especially enlightening, but the teacher really hit home with me. I taught for many years and even then it was a struggle to teach and keep peace with the administration. I dearly loved the kids and most of them became fine citizens — many are state and local leaders. As she said in the end, sometimes you just have to say to hell with it and do your job. I would be hard-pressed to teach today. I don't know how the young ones are keeping their sanity. Unless the public can can see the light and then put their experience to the boards to put the burden of learning back on the student and not on the teacher, our system is going to keep going downhill. God love them all, the teachers in the trenches and all the kids.

Evelyn Nelsen

Jonesboro

From the web

In response to David Ramsey's story "Is Tom Cotton too extreme?" in the July 24 issue:

Cotton subscribes to the extreme right-wing agenda. Anyone who advocates a federal balanced budget amendment wants to see the country implode. It's a nice thought and an admirable goal, but such immediate and drastic cuts would decimate poor and lower middle class Arkansans, while simultaneously shredding safety-net programs and essential services for the entire country. Why? Because I KNOW where Republicans would make the cuts. I have relatives who worked every day of their lives and still ended up on Medicaid and food stamps in their old age just to survive. Contrary to "wealth mgmt." commercials, everyone does not have a million-dollar retirement fund and a Wall St. broker on speed dial.

Razorsmack

Not a fan of either Cotton or Pryor. Cotton is way too conservative and out of touch. Plus his affiliation with "extreme" conservative groups is very troubling. It also seems like there is no genuine personality there. Has the persona of an automaton who regurgitates the conservative doctrine.

Pryor I feel has sold out based on fear of political survival. He has embraced conservative views including the installation of the Keystone pipeline and pro-NRA agendas. To me this is a dangerous sign of personal weakness.

For me it will come down to voting for the lesser of two evils, Pryor in this case.

Only in Arkansas

We worked out at the same gym in Russellville during his campaign. He came in, exercised and left in maybe 30 minutes. Rushed through his sets like someone was chasing him. Didn't speak, didn't even make eye contact. It was so odd, I asked if anyone had looked him in the eye or exchanged a word with him. Not a one.

Mudbone

In response to David Koon's story "Don's Weaponry, small gun shop since 1986" in the July 31 issue:

Good story. Sometimes we forget there are reasonable people who like guns, and there is nothing wrong with that.

plainjim

In response to the Arkansas Blog item about the Razorback football team excluding all but the SEC Network from covering practice:

If the newspapers and the Arkansas Press Association refuse to run any of their press releases and just didn't cover them at all, they might get the message. They need to be reminded that we pay for that bunch of buildings next to the glorified sports complex and that without that part, they would just be a bunch of neighborhood kids playing on the street.

And cover the ASU, UAPB and the other colleges and fill the paper up. The smaller schools would love to see more fans and certainly the Foundation won't miss all of that parking, seat bribes and other corrupt cash they hide from the public.

couldn't be better

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Ceasefire

You can't read or listen to a news report today without noting the mention of some nation or group within a nation being involved in negotiations over a ceasefire.

Ceasefire

You can't read or listen to a news report today without noting the mention of some nation or group within a nation being involved in negotiations over a ceasefire. Apparently this means that some people want to talk about not shooting at other people. Almost always there is an accompanying story about the Secretary of State of the U.S. rushing to the troubled area to do some talking. If you are reading a newspaper you will also likely find in a less prominent place some mention of several folks shot to death in various localities around the U.S. If you are listening to television the shootings are usually quickly noted either in the few seconds allotted right before or immediately after "the break." You don't hear about anyone rushing to the troubled areas in the U.S. to do any talking or anything else. Apparently our nation or groups within our nation aren't much interested in talking about some people not shooting other people.

Perhaps I didn't express my thoughts very well with that previous sentence. We do like to talk about shooting people and we like to show people doing it a lot and we call it entertainment or infotainment if we start feeling a little embarrassed. Some of us even think it is our responsibility to be ever ready to shoot somebody else. Some are so eager to blast away they carry loaded guns with them everywhere they go. In the U.S.A. we call that freedom. We are free to reel off as many rounds as possible as quickly as possible into as many other bodies as possible. We like to say that kind of thing only happens when those other people getting shot didn't have the foresight to carry loaded guns and freely blast away at those shooting them. We even write laws to protect people who shoot other people when they think that other person might be getting the upper hand. What we don't want to think about and certainly don't want to talk about is a ceasefire.

If we started talking about a ceasefire in Chicago or New Orleans or Pine Bluff or Little Rock, we might have to talk about limiting access to guns and ammunition and the right to blast away when the mood strikes. That means we would have to talk about restricting freedom and nobody wants his or her freedom to have any restrictions. We also might have to talk about civic responsibility and sharing and right versus wrong and even, Lord forbid, something about the psychology of perception and, OMG, religion.

It's possible some education and a controversial historical reference or two could slither into the conversation. Maybe there would be a government secretary who understands these things and could spare a few minutes to broker a ceasefire. If someone as squirrelly as Vladimir Putin can stop a war in Ukraine with a wave of his hand as some very bright people seem to think he can, surely we can find a way to stop a war against ourselves.

David Stedman

Damascus

A cycle of violence

When Joshua invaded the land of Canaan, he murdered every man, woman and even the children in 31 cities, in the name of God.

It was through violence and terrorism that the Jewish people got control of the land of Canaan.

When the Egyptians conquered the Jewish state it was with violence and terrorism that the Jews lost their land and were scattered throughout the world.

In modern times, the English took control of Palestine, and it was through the use of violence and terrorism that the Jews regained control of Palestine, including Jerusalem.

One of the most inhuman acts was the blowing up of the King David Hotel by Jewish gangsters, which killed many innocent people and resulted in the English withdrawing from Palestine.

It was the United Nations and the American government who created the Jewish state of Israel, mostly due to the guilt the world's civilized nations felt over the horrible violence and terrorism perpetrated by the Nazi government against the innocent Jewish people in the Holocaust.

This resulted in the Palestinian people being removed from the land that they had occupied since ancient times.

Unfortunately, the Jewish people became what hurt them the most, the oppressed became the oppressor.

What has been happening to the Palestinian people since World War II is a war crime. The disproportionate reaction of the Israeli government is exactly like the methods employed by the Nazis during World War II. When Jewish resistance fighters tried to assassinate Nazi officials, the Nazis responded by slaughtering entire villages. Innocent men, women and children were slaughtered by the thousands. This is exactly what the Israeli government is doing today.

And what is the result of this violence and terrorism? It hardens the hearts of the oppressed, and creates a cycle of never-ending violence. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind, Gandhi said, and he was right. The civilized world has rightly judged the Nazis for the terrorism they perpetrated on innocent people during the Second World War.

One day the civilized world will wake up and condemn the Israeli government for doing the same thing. The hypocrisy is on a biblical scale, and it must stop now if Israel is to survive as a nation.

The Jewish religion teaches that they are God's chosen people. Islam teaches that its people are God's chosen people. The Nazi government taught the Germans that they were God's chosen people. In this belief system there is only room for one at the top, and that is not what God wants.

Jesus taught us that all human beings are the children of God, the same God, and how we treat each other is a sign of our respect for the Universal Father. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The Master told the masses, if you do this unto the least of my Father's children, you do it on to me. Please, in the name of the Universal Father of all mankind, stop this insanity. Learn to love. We will live together as brothers or we will die as fools.

Butch Stone

Maumelle

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Policy led to Little Rock’s segregation

Are Little Rock's segregated neighborhoods the result of a conspiracy? You bet. City officials admitted as much during a school desegregation suit in the 1980s, the federal courts ruled that was in fact the case, and the federal appeals court upheld those findings. We're not talking grassy knolls or faked moon landings here; we're simply repeating the conclusions that the federal courts have reached based on the evidence.

The legacy of tobacco

Before I could get to the cover story of segregation history in the July 10 issue, I was treated to a full-page Camel cigarette ad. Talk about "history." It was the production of tobacco that brought huge waves of slaves to North America and started a problem that has never died, including the segregation of Little Rock. The slavery continues as an enormous amount of tobacco production in the world, including the U.S., is accomplished with child labor. At least part of the "living history" could be ended by not taking tobacco industry advertising.

J. Gary Wheeler

Little Rock

Policy led to Little Rock's segregation

FindX's comments (Letters, July 17) last week raise some interesting points about our article, "The roots of Little Rock's segregated neighborhoods," (July 10) that are worth addressing, particularly their assumption that segregation is somehow a "natural" phenomenon.

As our article points out, segregated residential patterns have become much more pronounced in Little Rock since 1949. If segregation were natural, this change could not have occurred, since natural laws are by definition immutable. So if changes in residential patterns have occurred, that must be because of human intervention.

Are Little Rock's segregated neighborhoods the result of a conspiracy? You bet. City officials admitted as much during a school desegregation suit in the 1980s, the federal courts ruled that was in fact the case, and the federal appeals court upheld those findings. We're not talking grassy knolls or faked moon landings here; we're simply repeating the conclusions that the federal courts have reached based on the evidence.

What about the students who self-segregate in the hallways, at lunch and in the classrooms? I'd suggest that the artificially created segregated environments that they grow up in, which constantly shape their social reality day in and day out, are replicated by extension in schools. To suggest that self-segregation in schools proves that those students are happy enough to grow up in segregated neighborhoods is to fundamentally confuse cause and effect.

As to the refrain "how about we spend our time and effort on getting people to naturally integrate and value others for our diversity," I agree, but that has been the charge of the city's schools since the Brown decision in 1954. The past 60 years don't seem to have gotten us much closer, and I don't see that magically changing anytime soon. How about we start to address and tackle some of the persistent and entrenched structural obstacles in the way of achieving that goal to get better outcomes?

However, all the indications are that Little Rock, along with the rest of the United States, is in retreat from integration. The school settlement earlier this year removed exactly those remedies — magnet schools and M-to-M transfers — that were put in place by the courts to counteract the effects of the conspiratorially created segregated neighborhoods. Once these remedies are phased out, there will be no active measures in place to combat segregation. Meanwhile, numerous factors, some old, some new, continue to racially polarize the city and its schools.

It is precisely because of these developments that we thought it timely to revisit and reflect upon exactly how and why Little Rock got into the condition that it is in today. We believe it is important for everyone in the city to understand. Without being fully aware of how the city got to this point, there can be no hope of productively going forward from it.

John A. Kirk

Little Rock

One for Otey

I think the choice of "Otey the Swamp Possum" as one of the Arkansas Travelers' two new mascots was a good one for a number of reasons.

He is cute, cuddly and friendly, which will make him a favorite with kids.

He is a unique and original type of mascot.

Opossums have lived in Arkansas for a long time, so they have a natural connection with Arkansas.

To give Otey more notoriety, I'd call him "The Awesome Possum."

Kenneth Zimmerman

Huntington Beach, Calif.

Disproportionate

Stop killing kids! Israel has a disproportionate response in Gaza — which may be a war crime or a violation of the Geneva Convention — killing over 300 civilian innocents, including more than 100 children. Hamas has killed no kids and one innocent civilian. 300-1 is disproportionate. It is a similar ratio to last time Israel bombed and tank cannoned Gaza, killing 900 innocents to three Israeli civilians killed. The U.S. Secretary of State expresses concern about killing so many innocents, especially children. Express your concern to your government officials.

Robert Johnston

Little Rock

From the web

In response to "That 'ghetto' traffic box," a story about Theresa Cates' public art depicting African Americans. It has received complaints and, in a few instances, been painted over.

It's sad that people would have such little respect for the joy depicted in this work and would refer to it as "ghetto." This is an amazing piece and the people in power who bowed down to the complaints of a few should be ashamed of themselves. Stick up for the many rather than buckling to the few.

Felicia Knight Olson

Submit letters to the Editor via e-mail. The address is arktimes@arktimes.com. Please include name and hometown.

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From the web re ‘The roots of Little Rock’s segregated neighborhoods’

As a teacher in LR, I have noticed that our students segregate themselves across racial lines.

From the web

In response to "The roots of Little Rock's segregated neighborhoods," July 10:

As a teacher in LR, I have noticed that our students segregate themselves across racial lines. It happens in the hallway, at lunch, and even in the classroom (the reason an integrated seating chart is necessary or there would be an imaginary racial line drawn down the center of the classroom). I don't think anything sinister is going on, but only the fact that people tend to naturally surround themselves with others like themselves. I also think it is important for these students to be encouraged to cross racial boundaries and work together.

Your article makes it sound like there is a conspiracy plot going on, when I think much of this just occurs naturally. Instead of finger-pointing, how about we spend our time and energy on getting people to naturally integrate and value others for our diversity?

FindX

I spent the first 25 years of my life being raised in Little Rock and only once do I recall a white stranger saying hello or good day to me (excluding folk at school of course). I have lived in N.Y. ever since and I am no longer treated that way (marginalized). In fact — instead of being the black this or that I am just simply Latonya. This is why I am tormented; should I go back home so my chocolate baby can grow up with family and friends or stay up here without family so as a brown person he can have better opportunities and higher self-esteem? It really is a no-brainer I guess but a terrible sacrifice just the same. I am certain that if I stayed in Arkansas I wouldn't be a manager reporting to the VP of Operations for one of the richest companies in NYC.

Latonya Brown

In response to an item on the Rock Candy blog on the few films being shown at the Ron Robinson Theater:

I have really had a difficult time with the theater. My understanding was that our tax dollars were going to support a space that could be used by the public. When I asked about that I was told it could only be used Monday-Wednesday if I wanted it in the evening. That pretty much cuts out any kind of public use. I was told it was being used to screen movies. Not many movies were on the calendar. Then, it took me nearly two months of back and forth email to just get a quote. I was then told that they weren't booking anything anymore. After questioning this, I was contacted by someone else, who was very helpful, but by then, it was really too late for the planned event. It certainly left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I hope that this can end up being a space that can be used by the public. It is a shame that it is sitting empty when people are ready and willing to use it for events.

PaulPrater

In response to a post on the Arkansas Blog about former Gov. Mike Huckabee's private jet travels and how he pays for them:

Oink! Oink! Oink! That this talentless hack can make himself rich shows how stupid Americans are these days. Bro. Huck is one of the most dishonest con men to come out of Arkansas. We yack yack yack about him but no one bothers to investigate his record and get him behind the steel bars where he belongs.  Continually escaping punishment for crimes committed creates monsters that we're forced to live with and sets a terrible example for our kids. Huck should have been nabbed when he was taking money under the table to spy on Hillary back when we were paying him to be our Lt. Gov.  His last year in office as our Gov., he committed outrages I didn't think anyone could get away with ... and yet danced off to be the Fox darling of the dumbest people in America. It would seem Huck escaped his sins thanks to professional courtesy offered by his fellow politicians on both sides of the aisle in Arkansas and ain't that a damn shame! Maybe because Huckabee is fat ... he's just too big to fail?

Deathbyinches

In response to an Arkansas blog post on Tom Cotton's lead in second-quarter fund-raising for his U.S. Senate race against Sen. Mark Pryor:

I don't know which is worse: out-of-state billionaires who think they can buy Arkansas on the cheap, or a supposed Arkansan like Tom Cotton who is willing to sell out his fellow Arkansans to these out-of-state billionaires. I guess I can't blame the billionaires as much as I do the sorry sapsucker who will betray his own people for the likes of the Koch brothers and Karl Rove. Cotton should be ashamed, but he is so cold and fishlike, he has no feeling or concern for real Arkansans. I could never vote for anyone like that, regardless of what party they are in. He is not one of us.

Poison Apple

I'll consider voting for Rotten Cotton just as soon as his new bride moves to Arkansas. Further proof he's not one of us!

RYD

In response to an Arkansas Blog post about headway being made in the South by Democratic politicians:

This is the 50th anniversary of Barry Goldwater's famous "extremism" speech to the Republican National Convention that brought the South into the Republican Party, thus changing that party from a party that espoused economic conservatism and social liberalism to one that espoused reactionary social views as well as economic conservatism. Even Barry Goldwater backed away from those views later, after he was defeated by Lyndon Johnson in what was the biggest margin ever up to that time. I remember that speech. The context then, of course, was Communism, aimed at bringing in the John Birchers, but the White Citizens Councils and other anti-civil rights groups in the South also took it as a rallying cry for resistance. It signaled the beginning of the Republican Party as we know it now. His opponent in the Republican primaries was Nelson Rockefeller, brother of Winthrop Rockefeller, who served as New York governor, and who was a very decent, respectable Northeastern Republican who would turn over in his grave if he knew what the Republican Party has now become. The Republican Party was civilized then. You remember Goldwater's words: "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the fight for freedom is no virtue."

plainjim

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The power of voting

I just read your article about "America's Worst Politicians" (July 3). When I read or hear about how terrible our politicians are I try to figure out just what it is that generates those complaints. Are those "worst politicians" really different from the rest of us?

The power of voting

I just read your article about "America's Worst Politicians" (July 3). When I read or hear about how terrible our politicians are I try to figure out just what it is that generates those complaints. Are those "worst politicians" really different from the rest of us? Our elected politicians must inevitably reflect who we are because we are the ones who vote for them and give them the opportunity to represent us. Of course, everyone isn't happy with the outcome of every election because only one candidate can be elected and not everyone votes for the same candidate. Nonetheless, all eligible voters have an opportunity to cast a ballot for his or her chosen politician. Of all the responsibilities we have as citizens of this American republic, voting for a representative in our government is our most valuable and vital one. If we have any spark of interest whatsoever in local, city, county, state or national government every eligible voter must vote every time he or she has the opportunity. We must never allow inconvenience or some temporary hardship to disenfranchise any one of us. It's easy to find fault with attempts to block voters from exercising our most vital right and to rail about the unfairness of it all. Such foolishness is no excuse for not voting. It's even easier to whine that your vote doesn't matter because someone else will just vote for the other candidate and "cancel" your vote. As Forrest Gump's mom told him: "Stupid is as stupid does." You are the only one who can "cancel" your vote and you do that every time you do not vote.

Perhaps you are disgusted with partisan politics and like to say you don't want to have anything to do with politicians. As a citizen of the U.S.A. you do not have that choice because citizenship carries responsibilities with it that must be exercised if you want to continue to enjoy your citizenship rights. Our country wasn't formed and our Declaration of Independence from British tyranny wasn't written by unanimous consent. Many more American colonists rushed to sign a pledge of allegiance to King George than ran to serve in the Colonial Army. We were born from extreme partisanship. The right to vote and have a representative government has always been the struggle of a few against the many. If you have any respect for the few who have carried that battle and passed its bounty freely on to you, you must take the easy responsibility of voting whenever it is offered. Hold your head up high; be proud of carrying out the most important and hard-won responsibility you have as a citizen of the U.S. Honor those who wore the bloody bandages and those who died for your right to vote. You don't have to be on the front line to be part of the struggle. Otherwise, throw away your flags and your fireworks and your "Second Amendment remedies" and crawl back into your spider hole and wait for those who want to keep you from voting to come for you. It won't be to give you a medal. As a bonus, you'll get to read more articles about "America's Worst Politicians" and shake your head in shame.

David Steadman

Damascus

The radical Christian right

Mike Huckabee knows exactly what he's doing. By casting the gay marriage movement in the light of a fascist group, he is attempting to deflect that very accusation from himself and his fellow Christian Dominionists.

I've read the Chris Hedges book, "American Fascists, The Radical Christian Right and the War Against America." I've read Jeff Sharlett's book, "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power."

Radical Christian conservatives like Huckabee are no joke. They are dead serious about taking control of all institutions of power: the government, the media, academia, the arts and the scientific community. They have a huge funding pool from the corporate world because, like most fascist movements, they support the suppression of the labor force and the protection of the corporate class. In America, this alliance dates all the way back to Fred C. Koch — father of Charles and David and a founding member of the John Birch Society — and his rabid support of the Mussolini regime for this reason.

Like fascist groups before them, Christian Dominionists have a long hit list of enemies: Democrats, feminists, intellectuals, artists, scientists, homosexuals, non-gender conforming people, those of different religions and Christians of other denominations whose ideology they disapprove of.

The Christian Dominionist movement is not a religion. It is a fascist political movement, a heresy that works in tandem with powerful corporate interests to achieve its goals. And it has achieved astounding success since the days of Jerry Falwell, one of its original architects. Representatives of this movement now occupy the highest positions of power in our government.

Any fascist movement can only thrive in periods of severe or prolonged economic drought. That's all that stands between the radical Christian right, which counts Mike Huckabee among its prominent members, and its complete ascendance to power. We ignore the threat these people pose to our democracy and our open society at our own peril.

Brad Bailey

Fayetteville

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Reaganomics and climate change

At long last the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finally decided what it wants to do about the carbon issue! The EPA has successfully regulated emissions of mercury and sulfur dioxide, but never before has it regulated carbon dioxide, and we've known about its greenhouse effects for over 30 years.

Reaganomics and climate change

At long last the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finally decided what it wants to do about the carbon issue! The EPA has successfully regulated emissions of mercury and sulfur dioxide, but never before has it regulated carbon dioxide, and we've known about its greenhouse effects for over 30 years. Coal-fired power plants are the greatest polluters, and Arkansas has several of them.

The EPA and Obama administration hope to reduce carbon emissions nationwide to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. What's taken them, or previous administrations, so long? Maybe it was necessary to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that the Clean Air Act gave the EPA the authority to regulate carbon emissions, but they did that in 2007. So maybe it was necessary to wait for the recent climate change reports to conclude that we have only a 15-year window before it's too late to prevent the global average temperature from rising beyond 2 degrees centigrade.

My explanation for our procrastination and unwillingness to act has been the success of the Lewis Powell Memorandum of 1971 and the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s. Powell laid out the mapwork that was needed to re-educate the voters so that they would vote against their own best interests. In the affable Ronald Reagan, the plutocracy (the upper 1 percent or upper .1 percent) found a spokesman who could change the public's opinion about them: Instead of their being "robber barons," they would become "job creators." The result has not only been devastating for our middle class and our national infrastructure but also for our environment.

Reagan persuaded a large number of voters that the restoration of the plutocracy and a New Gilded Age would solve all our problems. All we had to do was "return to normalcy" — return to the Gilded Age that existed between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and the beginning of the Progressive Era in 1901. Get rid of those pesky union workers who expect fair wages and benefits and safe working conditions; get rid of those costly safety regulations on products like food, toys and automobiles; get rid of those progressive income tax rates in which the wealthy pay a higher percentage than those with lower incomes; and get rid of those absurd environmental regulations that cut into profits for ridiculous reasons like clean air, clean water and better health.

Reagan reminded voters that it was the inventors and industrialists who had made America great. Every American could become a millionaire like railroad builder Cornelius Vanderbilt, financier J.P. Morgan, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, and oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller. (In the mid-1800s, English essayist Thomas Carlyle called people like them the "captains of industry.") All we had to do was get our constitutional government out of the way. Let developers once again have unlimited access to natural resources and labor with no regulations. Let's return to laissez-faire economics where the government gives support to Big Business, keeps its hands off the economy's ups and downs, and lets the buyers beware.

It's important to remember that the corporate welfare system of the Gilded Age led to such a wide income gap between the plutocracy and everyone else and created such unpleasant working conditions that many victims were considering alternatives to capitalism: socialism or communism. As the 20th century began, President Theodore Roosevelt became the leader of the Progressive Era. His goal was to reform the abuses of capitalism to save the system from itself. A lifetime hunter, he became a champion of the environment; and a Republican, he offered the working class and consumers a "Square Deal."

The disillusionment of World War I's failure to "make the world safe for democracy" brought a halt to our progressivism. During the "Roaring Twenties," Americans elected to return to the plutocracy of the Gilded Age. Laissez-faire was restored as "trickle-down" economics and the income inequality gap between the haves and have-nots widened again. The Great Depression that resulted brought a return to progressivism and a renaming of the "captains of industry" to the "robber barons." Capitalism had virtually collapsed, and another Roosevelt had to save it again.

Progressivism lasted for nearly 40 years.

The breaking point for the "robber barons" was probably Earth Day 1970 that led to the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and creation of the EPA. The fact that these occurred while a Republican — Richard Nixon — was president was more than they could take. It was corporate lawyer and lobbyist Lewis Powell, a lifelong corporate Democrat, who provided the guide rules as to how the plutocracy could regain control .

Months before Nixon appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court, Powell's 1971 memo outlined several steps the plutocrats needed to influence government policy — and they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Right-wing "think tanks," lobbying organizations, and radio and TV propaganda networks emerged to change voters' perceptions of government and corporations: the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, Fox "News," Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth, et al. Corporations even created the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to write laws for their extremist lawmakers to present as their own to promote the interests of the plutocracy.

So, for more than 30 years, we've been stuck with Reaganomics (A.K.A. laissez-faire and trickle down). The income inequality gap has returned to Gilded Age and Roaring Twenties levels. The middle class is in rapid decline, and the burning of fossil fuels is heating up the planet. The plutocracy, through its "think tanks" and politicians and pundits, has succeeded in convincing many voters than none of this is actually happening and, even if it were, nothing can be done about it.

Plutocratic Reaganomics and climate change denial go hand in hand — and that's the problem. Voters who bought into the first in 1980, and continue to do so, are stuck with accepting the other no matter what the scientific evidence indicates. The EPA and Mr. Obama want to do the right thing at great political risk. Big money, their politicians and their voters will continue to do everything possible to stop them — regardless of the consequences for planet Earth.

David Offutt

El Dorado

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Defining marriage

Regarding state Sen. Jason Rapert's recent guest column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, he makes some good points, but I think there are other ways to analyze the matter, irrespective of the merits of the issue. If our president can change his mind on same-sex marriage less than two years ago, surely this is a fair topic for discussion.

Defining marriage

Regarding state Sen. Jason Rapert's recent guest column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, he makes some good points, but I think there are other ways to analyze the matter, irrespective of the merits of the issue. If our president can change his mind on same-sex marriage less than two years ago, surely this is a fair topic for discussion.

Let us not forget that those who opposed federal marriage legislation, whether DOMA or a constitutional amendment, did so on the ground that issues of marriage are matters of state law for the individual states to decide. So be it. The Arkansas voters then spoke loud and clear, by a supermajority no less, apparently to no avail. Judge Chris Piazza is a fine jurist and a good man, before whom I practice regularly, but he is no more qualified or empowered to issue edicts on such cultural matters than any judge. His opinion also contains some highly questionable propositions, such as that the voters acted solely out of animus, there was no "conceivable legitimate state interest or purpose" and the "speculation" that children of "opposite-sex marriages" (his words) were better off that children of same-sex marriages. A few comments are in order. First, where in the record is the evidence that the voters acted out of animus? Second, and more importantly, where is it written that it is exclusively the province of the judiciary to decide what is or is not a legitimate state interest? Do the legislature, executive and electorate have no say in the matter? The constitution provides otherwise. Third, where does he get the authority — and where is the factual basis in the court record — to opine which relationships are better for children? The only speculation is found in his opinion when he implies that the adopted children of same-sex couples are as well off as children of traditional families, despite thousands of years of human experience versus recent history and no valid scientific evidence or empirical data. Lastly, his decision assumes that he is more qualified to make that determination than the voters. That is what I, and I think Sen. Rapert, find so frustrating.

No one disputes that marriage is a fundamental right. The cases that recognize that right, however, starting with Griswold v. Conn. (which struck down contraceptive bans and explicitly recognized a right of privacy that I cannot locate in my Constitution), were based on the sacred marital relation between husband and wife, which actually pre-dates the Constitution by a few thousand years and which, alone, has the inherent potential for procreation. Let's leave the Scriptures out of the debate. Are we to void natural law, too, on the ground that it is discriminatory? The true questions then are simply: What is marriage and who gets to decide? What relationships does society recognize as fundamental and deserving of recognition and constitutional protection? No one proposes putting constitutional rights up to a vote. That is a "straw man" argument that no one advocates. After all, marriages and families are the central units around which we have organized our society. It is not for judges to decide what is or is not a fundamental right, or to proclaim who has what rights and who does not. Rather, the judicial role is to enforce and protect those rights society chooses to recognize as fundamental. As the racial voting patterns and recent gathering of African-American ministers show, it is also fallacious to compare this issue with civil rights. Civil rights arose from discrimination based upon immutable personal characteristics, such as race and sex (which used to be immutable). The judiciary played a vital role in that area — not by declaring that civil rights are fundamental — but by enforcing and protecting the rights that society recognized as fundamental. After all, we fought a Civil War and passed the 14th Amendment to establish and enshrine these rights.

What I feared is occurring before our eyes. A hotly debated issue in the "culture wars" — involving the central organizing principle of our society — is being pre-empted, removed from the public sphere and decided by the judiciary, which is not empowered or qualified to decide the issue for us. Public opinion is evolving in this area, no question. It may trend toward or away from traditional marriage, but all citizens and adherents of representative democracy will respect the result if the judges will get out of the way and trust our democratic process to work this out.

Just as Clemenceau said that war was far too important to be left up to generals, marriages and families are far too important to be left up to the judges.

Michael Emerson

Little Rock

It takes a village

Max Brantley's lament on the LRSD ("Drastic measures for LR schools," June 12) caused this response and, more than likely, wasted time. The Village School concept has been described by this writer in print many times. Now I know some, perhaps many, are thinking, "I never heard of that." Such is the power structure of Little Rock. Powerful People keep an idea isolated to the opinion pages and friendly conversations so that it never has a full and unbiased hearing. Isolating thinkers to the back pages allows the Powerful People to control the place. The public is allowed police protection because those same police protect the Powerful People. We have reasonable city management because the Powerful People use the city. The good public schools are those controlled by the Powerful People. For the most part, the Powerful People use private schools.

A Village School has several grades located on one campus. The private schools are all villages as is eStem. It is the best educational environment because you get more for your money and it builds strong community. The old structure of neighborhood schools in a district run by expensive administrators is costly and destroys community. With modern technology, one staff can manage a county. Village Schools are self-governing. The first Village should be established in the Central High area. After that, picture the campus of PA or the Episcopal School, and place them wherever there is good space. A Village campus is so large that it is unaffected by neighborhood. Of course, eStem is unique for not having a campus, just buildings. Perhaps the entire city is its campus.

Early this year, there was a casual invite extended to talk with the planning board about the Village concept and the Central High area, in particular. A PowerPoint was created for the meeting. As it has too often happened, the meeting did not take place. The Powerful People operate that way. They make you jump through hoops until you are exhausted while they enjoy the good life. The worst thing about the Powerful People is that they think they know all the answers. Being all-powerful and knowledgeable, there is absolutely no need to associate with peons. We are kept at arm's length with only the ability to waste our time on the opinion page.

Richard Emmel

Little Rock

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