Archive for Letters


President Reagan used to say, "There you go again," so here we go again.


President Reagan used to say, "There you go again," so here we go again. Our Republican-dominated Congress is reforming our tax code much like Congress did back in Reagan's day. Those of us who actually remember Reagan know that Reagan was a really wobblyheaded, senile old actor who often replied, "Well ... (wobble, wobble) ... er ... uh ... " and sometimes confused reality with movie fiction. Under Reagan's lack of leadership, congressional spending got so out of control Reagan became the first U.S. president to budget for over a trillion dollars. To make matters worse, Reagan's Republicans reformed the federal tax code to benefit rich folks. The first cuts were made in 1981. The second cuts were in the 1986 Tax Reform Act. These tax laws resulted in the worst stock market crash in history, remembered as Black Monday. Republicans like to blame Iranian Silkworm missiles, but the TRA was passed Oct. 22, 1986, and the crash happened all around the globe only a year later Oct. 19, 1987. When the dust settled, Reagan had destroyed the American economy, and his successor, George H.W. Bush, suffered the consequences in defeat at the hands of Bill Clinton, the only president to balance the federal budget four years in a row. Clinton's successor, George W. Bush, cut taxes twice and caused the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.

So, here we go again making the same Republican mistakes. We just love to suffer.

Gene Mason


Sober Trump

Lyndon Johnson drank a quart of bourbon every day. Everett Dirksen sipped champagne all day long. Nixon mixed booze and pills. FDR, Tip O'Neill, Teddy Kennedy, Wilbur Mills: They were all alcoholics, but they got things done. Social Security, civil rights legislation, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act — they somehow managed to move the ball down the field despite the fact that they were drunk while doing it. Trump doesn't drink, and I'm beginning to think that might be the problem. Perhaps we need to feed him a bottle of Wild Turkey and a six-pack of PBR every day. We just can't continue to have him staggering around the White House sober. The country might not be able to survive much more of that.

David Rose

Hot Springs

Hold the salt

Fine review of the redone Clinton [Presidential Center] restaurant. But I urge you not to encourage the chef to add more salt. Most chefs over-salt. We can add more but we cannot remove it.

Howard J. Barnhard


From the web

In response to a Dec. 5 Arkansas Blog post on the approval of a new security plan for the Ten Commandments monument that was shattered the day it was originally installed by a man driving a Dodge Dart. The new plan will have the monument in the center with bollards — thick posts — flanking it on each side:

With a little bit of sanding, that could look a whole lot more like a penis.


In response to a Dec. 4 Arkansas Blog post discussing an interview with the CEO of Dollar General, Todd Vasos. The chain targets people who make less than $40,000; Vasos said "the economy is continuing to create more of our core customer.":

I was in a Dollar Store this morning. I needed antibacterial hand wash and I had three options. I could drive 5-10 minutes to the local Dollar Store and spend $2 for the name brand I use. I could drive 30 minutes to the nearest Walmart and pay $3, or I could go to the local grocery store or drug store and pay around $4.

The same scenario applies to other name-brand laundry supplies, paper towels and household products.

There is a Family Dollar and a Dollar General in our rural town of 2,500. Both are always busy. There are two Dollar Stores within 10 miles and another one 19 miles away. If you take the Pottsville exit off of Interstate 40, the only lights you will see for several miles will be from the isolated Dollar Store located there.

I'm in our local store often. I know the manager and most of the employees well enough to ask about their families and their lives. It's an older building but always very clean and the shelves are well stocked. 

I realized that certain people attached a stigma to shopping at the Dollar Store when I ran into a wealthy lady in our local store and she immediately went into defense mode and offered a lengthy explanation as to why an emergency necessitated her being in "that store." The store manager overheard and winked at me behind the lady's back when I said, "Hey, I'm in here all the time."

These stores fill a need in rural areas, not only for bargains on name-brand items but even more so on generic brands. As mentioned previously, not everyone has transportation to travel to the nearest Walmart, 30 minutes to an hour from most places in this county. The Dollar General CEO is right on target with his assessment of the situation. It's a sign of the times we are in.


In response to a Dec. 4 Arkansas Blog post on the hiring of Hunter Yurachek away from the University of Houston to be the new athletic director for the University of Arkansas:

Oh, great.

Took me three years to learn how to pronounce Bielema. Now it's Yurachek.


An open letter on taxes

Dear senators and congressmen: I am writing to say that this tax cut for the rich and screwing the middle class is immoral.

An open letter to our congressmen

Dear senators and congressmen: I am writing to say that this tax cut for the rich and screwing the middle class is immoral. The House and Senate bills would get rid of the medical expense tax credit, the student loan interest credit, and make student loans that are paid by employers taxable income. It would also get rid of the property tax deduction. These tax increases will devastate my family.

First, by getting rid of the medical tax credit, my daughter and her husband will have a larger burden paying back the medical bills my grandson has incurred. Roman has had three surgeries in the past month and he will be in surgery again in two weeks. He has been hospitalized more days than home since he was born nearly two years ago.

Second, I have two children in college who are taking out student loans because we can't afford to pay out-of-pocket. They will be hit hard by the student loan credit repeal when it's time to pay them back. Also, my wife has decided to go back to school to get a Ph.D. in psychology to help disabled veterans with PTSD, such as myself. The Veterans Administration has a program that pays off student loans for employees who go to work helping veterans. Making that student loan payoff taxable will deter her from being able to afford to work at the VA.

Third, we are trying to buy a house, and depending on if we can get a VA loan, we might have to pay property taxes. By eliminating the property tax credit, the bill will place an undue burden on me as well as my children when they are ready to purchase their own homes.

These bills are immoral. And to cut corporate tax rates in half and reducing or eliminating the estate tax that helps Donald Trump is appalling. These bills are tax increases on me and my family and a giveaway to millionaires and billionaires like Trump and his family.

Enough is enough. Kill these bills and start over by cutting taxes for me and my family, and raise taxes on the corporations who are stashing trillions of dollars in the Cayman Islands.

Patrick Gray


On Sunday, Nov. 12, the Democrat-Gazette front page told Arkansans that the state spent more than $4 million with a company to develop "learning communities" in select schools. Max Brantley showed this week [on the Arkansas Blog] the actual cost is $12.5 million. Sen. Linda Chesterfield (D-Little Rock) spoke the truth when she said the expensive material was nothing more than team learning that has been a part of education for years. The process described in the article is typical of education decisions made at a high level and then foisted on teachers. The decision-makers mean well, and want to do something to move kids forward; their hearts are in the right place — but not their brains.

There is another common occurrence that happens when salespersons ply leaders with "educational trips" and perhaps some new golf balls. That sales tactic brings packages to schools that often have no scholastic merit. In fact, this writer knew such useless, expensive programs were bought when he was called to the central office and saw packages of golf balls on the boss' desk. Sadly, the new stuff more times than not replaced what worked well. In the case of Solution Tree, had the leaders taken the time to talk with teachers like Linda Chesterfield, they would have told them that the money could be better spent elsewhere.

Assuming there is no way out of the Solution Tree contract, let this be the last instructional contract instigated for schools by legislators. Empower, encourage and support teacher efforts to establish good learning environments and help when asked. Our charter schools have shown how well empowering teachers works.

Perhaps the Arkansas Times would assign one of its gifted writers to do a deep dive into the many commercial programs and training sessions bought by the Little Rock School District over the last 10 years. Report the cost, status, results reaped and, most importantly, if a program was abandoned, what happened to the expensive materials. This writer predicts the total cost will be several million dollars; most programs are no longer in use; their use did not bring about noteworthy change and the costly materials were trashed. For sure, the Times should monitor "Pollution Tree." Fancy commercial programs depend more on high-powered marketing departments rather than powerful educational results.

To unite Little Rock, the education divide must end, and caring leadership will do just that. Over time, charter schools cause unintended financial distress that harms the school district because it has no choice but to give the charters money that is needed elsewhere. Charters are meant to be a temporary way to try innovative education ideas and then return to regular school status. They either develop a good idea or prove something not worth doing.

For example, if a charter pulls 1,000 students from the public system, that system must maintain the schools vacated by the charter students, but without the state funds associated with those students. The charter students come from many schools in the district, and the district cannot close any one school to compensate for the loss of state money. In a few years, the impact of lost funds damages the public system. Worse, permanent charter schools help create the artificial tag of good and bad with well-run charters considered like desirable, expensive private schools. Concerned leaders will see to it that every Little Rock school is considered good, and no area is favored over another.

Much could be done to unite us with little or no cost. Charters could voluntarily return as open public schools, and the school district could assure them that they could continue to be independent. More independence could be granted to regular schools. Baker Kurrus' research showed that keeping children together in good schools longer leads to better students, so we could work toward creating more pre-K-through-eighth-grade campuses. The community could solve the east-west high school crisis, avoiding a lawsuit with a special election providing one-time funding to equalize money for Mills and Robinson construction. Doing the Same Old, Same Old begets the Same Old, Same Old results. Is this community satisfied with SO, SO?

Richard Emmel

Little Rock

From the web

In response to the Nov. 16 article about filmmakers documenting the Elaine massacre and its reverberations:

I live in Fayetteville and work with the Lee Street Community Center in Elaine. My first trip was in 1998. I had been going there seven or eight years before I learned about [the massacre] at a film festival at the University of Arkansas. Our nonprofit chairman is George Andrew Gibson, who grew up in Elaine and wanted to do something for the children. Our building is located near the low-income apartments. When we park in the grass at the center, children start showing up. The school closed 10 years ago, and they need something to do. Last year we opened Turning Point Park on Main Street. Our theme is "Recognizing the Past with Hope for the Future, 1919 to 2019 and Beyond." The legal proceedings following the massacre led to a Supreme Court decision that redefined the 14th Amendment to give due process to ALL citizens. I have written a children's book to teach about this on an elementary level. We need to start teaching appropriate parts early and build on it. There are so many significant details to this history.

Elaine Volunteer


I never groped a woman or did any of those other things that are flashing across the news outlets every day.  True enough, I never had a "real" job, at least not one in an office environment, but the idea of invading a person's privacy in such a manner is just foreign to me.  I mean, it's not like I'm constantly fighting off the urge to grope, like an alcoholic fighting off the urge to knock back a bottle of Schnapps.


I never groped a woman or did any of those other things that are flashing across the news outlets every day.  True enough, I never had a "real" job, at least not one in an office environment, but the idea of invading a person's privacy in such a manner is just foreign to me.  I mean, it's not like I'm constantly fighting off the urge to grope, like an alcoholic fighting off the urge to knock back a bottle of Schnapps.  

And what about the other men in the workplace, the non-gropers? Why don't they explain to the gropers that what they are doing is just not acceptable?

We need two things here. We need all the non-gropers to stand up and say, "NOT ME." Then we need them to take the gropers aside and enlighten those Neanderthals.

David Rose

Hot Springs

From the web

In response to the Nov. 6 Arkansas Blog post, "Supreme Court refuses to hear Mike Maggio's appeal":

It's a shame he only got 10 years. I wonder what the parole possibilities are? He won't serve enough time, in my opinion, for the incredible abuse of trust given a judge. He's contributed to the downfall of the entire justice system. Here's hoping that his income is attached for the rest of his life to pay off the civil case.


Shouldn't he have to serve extra time for showing what an a-hole he is? Remember geaux tigers?


There is no parole in the federal system, Perplexed, so he will serve all of his time, less a little bit (matter of a few months at most) off of that if he behaves himself. This is what is so great about federal sentencing vis-a-vis state ones. In the federal cases, you know how much time a person is going to serve, whereas in state sentencing, you have to divide the sentence handed down by either one-sixth, one-third, one-half or 70 percent, depending on the severity of the crime.


In response to the Nov. 5 Arkansas Blog post, "More than 20 dead in mass shooting in Texas church":

Dear Sutherland, how are those thoughts and prayers working for y'all?


Vanessa, what a heartless comment.


Eagerly anticipating the athleticism from the usual sources as they bend, twist and turn to keep from calling this, like the Vegas massacre, an act of terrorism, yet speak with such rapid assurance when the perp is identified as having one of those funny names.

During the interregnum, before such is revealed, it's "thoughts & prayers" down the line from the blowhards and puffers.


For those who disliked Vanessa's earlier post, explain to me, precisely, what benefit has ever accrued to the victims, as opposed to the self-indulgently thoughtful and prayerful, from thoughts and prayers.


Ho hum. Just part of the daily price of no coherent gun policy in the good old U.S.A. No amount of prayer will change that reality. Gotta wonder if our elected leaders see such mass shooting events as entertainment because they sure as hell aren't lifting so much as a little finger to do anything to change the status quo.

Damn shame, too. Maybe one of us on this blog will be in the next batch of mass victims. We can call it U.S.A. Roulette, just with more firepower and far more dead and wounded.

Oh, and where were the good guys with the guns we always hear will stop a bad guy with a gun like this? Or did Texas confiscate all the guns, and that news just hasn't percolated across the border yet?

Sound Policy

Just decided to buy a gun this week. Guess this is not the place for a recommendation on what kind to get.

Screen name taken

What makes me most sad about any of the mass shootings is that they even happen to begin with and that none of the perpetrators are being captured alive. The last mass shooting I can remember where the shooter was captured alive was the during the Planned Parenthood murders in Colorado Springs in 2015. Something is deeply wrong in our U.S.A. I believe in the right to bear arms, but I also believe that gun-worship is empowering the mentally ill to commit mass murder. So many hateful paranoid men thinking an assault rifle is going to right all the imaginary wrongs they feel have been done against them.

Artificial Intelligence

In defense of Vanessa, some version of the point she was trying to make has been all over Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere all afternoon and this evening. Maybe she was the first one to "go there" on the blog, but she is definitely not the first to say it. It was out there well before it showed up here. People are tired of hearing "thoughts and prayers" and then that's the end of it. Anyone can say that. It's beginning to ring hollow and I cringe whenever I hear it now. If "thoughts and prayers" help in any way, how could this have happened in the most holy of places?

 Something evil has been unleashed and is running amok in the U.S.A. I have no idea how we are going to find our way back to civilization, but I'm sure it will take more than a catch phrase to fix this mess.


Thoughts and prayers never solved any crimes. It is just an excuse, a damned cover-up for insensitive politicians who don't want to solve what is one of the biggest — if not the single biggest — dangers of our modern society: the uninhibited access to weapons capable of mass killings. Politicians hide behind their thoughts and prayers while people are being killed. This same thing could happen at my church. We don't take any security measures because everyone should be welcomed to the house of the Lord. Speaking of "thoughts and prayers," how many of us really believe that the politicians are sincere in their offering them up?


In response to the Nov. 5 Arkansas Blog post, "Honeymoon's over for Sarah Huckabee Sanders":

Dear Media, please keep it up. Sarah Huckabee upstaging her boss will simply shorten her time in the spotlight, and the administration will have to reach even lower for a spokesperson.


Better yet, Vanessa, if our world ever regains it sanity then maybe she'll never have a decent job again.

wannabee conservative

I notice lately she's taken to occasional attempted humor. Her jokes fall flat just like her dad's ... but without the outhouse flavor.


Do you Kool-Aid drinkers ever get tired of tearing down successful people just because you oppose their political views? Guess they are OK as long as they agree with your views but look out if they do not. What a collective bunch of phonies.


So, the willingness to lie to the nation on a daily basis meets the description of "successful"? The ability to ignore the voice inside yourself that whispers "you're not telling the truth" is admirable? 

Such is the thought process of a party-before-country Republican.  The blog members can expect to be chastised by Mr. Razorblade for criticizing Manafort, Gates, Flynn and Flynn Jr., when their chances to lie in the spotlight come along, soon.

Emersum Biggins

Prediction: Barring total implosion, she keeps this gig up just long enough to declare for Boozman's seat when he formally announces he's not running for re-election.


In response to the Nov. 3 Arkansas Blog post "State tourism official warns of economic damage from 'bathroom bill' ":

Unfortunately, the political atmosphere is one reason we've decided to move back to our home state. Won't miss the regression of women's rights, the push for more religion interference in public schools and the narrow-minded views of LGBTQ citizens. What ever happened to the Arkansas of David Pryor and Dale Bumpers? Instead we get Rutledge, Rapert and Mr. Re-Homing Harris. Truly sad.


I just moved back to Arkansas from the bluest city in one of the bluest states in these united. To those of you bemoaning the present political climate in Arkansas, oh, and let me add J. William Fulbright and William J. Clinton, let me offer this nugget of consolation: The people and policies that so bedevil you in the present day will be swept away by the inevitable tide of progress. The past that the others are trying to regain is not coming back. The present, such as it is, will be transformed into the future that is evident in the more progressive societies in our country and world.

Inequities persist, but many of those prejudices of our past have been eroded in ways that may not be appreciated. Mixed race families might be a bit odd in some corners of Arkansas, but are not illegal and for the most part do not attract all that much attention. The public persons who formerly hid in the closet who have come out, well, that does not attract all that much attention, really no big deal, at least if they stick to consenting adults.

Yes, a rational, educated and thoughtful people should not take so long to do the right thing, but if you are smart enough to realize things should be better, you should be smart enough to realize that most of our fellow Americans, perhaps especially Arkansans, are not. Take some solace in the fact that Jeff Sessions, Donny Trump and Harvey Weinstein, among others, are not from Arkansas. We begat Johnny Cash, Jim Jones, Douglas Blackmon and Jeff Nichols. Take some pride in their works, and don't take any crap from others, and surely don't crap all over yourself.

Get to work, register, think and vote. Go get 'em.


In response to a Nov. 1 Arkansas Blog post about Sarah Huckabee Sanders' defense of the weird characterization of the Civil War by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly:

Sarah may be dishonest, but she is not dumb, as many here try to portray her. She is an expert in the mechanics and the machinations of a political campaign. As White House press secretary, she is still running a political campaign. She did a good job managing John Boozman's 2010 campaign for the Senate, as well as her daddy's go-nowhere presidential campaign in 2012. She is politically savvy, and knows that politicians are rarely punished for lying. She also knows how to avoid critics. She simply quit communicating with the Arkansas Times, took the Times off the list of media receiving notices and never returned Max's phone calls, according to what he has posted previously. Politics is a duplicitous game at its best. She knows how to practice duplicity very well.



One would think that the Arkansas Times, if it truly wanted to represent a cross-section of opinion in the Natural State, would rely less on its small cadre of paying internet customers and more on those who write from outside such a narrow base in publishing its letters to the editor.


One would think that the Arkansas Times, if it truly wanted to represent a cross-section of opinion in the Natural State, would rely less on its small cadre of paying internet customers and more on those who write from outside such a narrow base in publishing its letters to the editor.

Perhaps you feel that Little Rock is the last bastion of liberal thinking. I certainly understand such a sentiment. And to an extent, you may be right. I certainly admire the many courageous stands you've taken on the LGBT community, for minority communities, for those in the foster care and penal systems, for the poor and those without a voice.

But in the last election, your man Gene Lyons penned a McCarthy-like hit piece on Bernie Sanders, the only candidate who truly cared about all these issues and who, remarkably, was the only candidate who wouldn't accept donations from corporate interests. What further testimony to his dedication to truth and justice than this?

In publishing Lyons' article, you showed the Democratic Party to be just as ruthless and partisan as the Republicans.

There's a lesson to be learned here. And if the Democratic Party doesn't learn it, the Donald Trumps of the world will continue to dominate Arkansas politics, to the detriment of Arkansans.

Brad Bailey Fayetteville

From the web

In response to the Oct. 27 Arkansas Blog post, "Jason Rapert v. the Friendly Atheist," about an interaction between Sen. Rapert and a blogger who asked Rapert how he was spending the $81,000 he raised on GoFundMe and the $25,000 the makers of the "God's Not Dead" movie series sent him to replace the $26,000 Ten Commandments monument that was destroyed less than 24 hours after it was erected:

Since I no longer work at the Bureau of Legislative Research, I can make this obvious statement: Stanley Rapert is a thin-skinned, small-minded asshat, and his stupid rock is going to cost the state a lot more than $100,000.

Christopher Diaz

Rapert and his faux Christianity continue to deteriorate in values, decency and honesty. Shame on you, Jason. You are the best instrument in the devil's toolbox. No one debases Christianity more than you.

Jake da Snake

Rapert was a lot more polite with the jerk than most would have been.


The Friendly Atheist should just inform the local IRS office that there may be a lot of unreported income raised by Rapert hiding in his usual guise as a "church."

If he was smart, all that money raised has been documented by an independent auditor and the extra monies either returned to the giver or the use documented that it was spent in a charitable manner.

couldn't be better

I have asked Mr. Rapert to justify his positions in the past. I've found that he does what many on the Religious Right do when confronted about their bigotry and hypocrisy. He simply accuses his questioner of being a nonbeliever.

Richard Hutson

In response to an Oct. 27 Arkansas Blog post, "Dear Little Rock, Amazon DOES matter":

Whatever chance, and it wasn't much, that Little Rock Metro had, the General Assembly, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and to a lesser extent the Little Rock chamber killed long ago by hating on many things that Amazon espouses for its workers. The Little Rock Tech Park is a start. Amazon is the goal. It ain't happenin' in our lifetimes. Now, look for something bite size. If it's between Austin and Little Rock, where you think they're going to go? Austin itself makes up for the rest of Texas. Little Rock isn't there yet for Arkansas.


I've spent some time in Austin, Texas, recently. Aside from the housing prices and traffic, Austin is a model for what a modern, 21st century city ought to be.

Incredible music scene, food, nightlife (and even day life). Very family-friendly. You feel safe everywhere you go. There's a healthy balance of honoring the past vs. embracing the present. Little to no racial tensions. Discussion of ideas rather than worshiping at the altar of the Razorbacks (sports). Most everything is new or being rebuilt. Fabulous mass transit. Imagine Hillcrest or the Heights with West Little Rock new construction money, and you'll get an idea.

Little Rock does have a lot of nice things going for it, don't get me wrong. But if the choice was between Austin or Little Rock for Amazon, well, the joke's on Little Rock for sure.


In response to an Oct. 24 Arkansas Blog post, "27 layoffs announced at Democrat-Gazette, 86 at WEHCO newspapers":

Printed newspapers are dead and the internet is the box in which they're going to bury them.


Last time I was in the New York subway, I noticed virtually no one was reading a paper. Not too long ago, the News, the Post were everywhere on the trains. With free Wi-Fi, everyone was on their phones — a sign of the print apocalypse.


None of my eight grandkids, all teenagers, read newspapers. I hate to see it.


I don't know how I could make it every morning without the newspaper to get me started. When I worked as an assistant news editor at the Arkansas Gazette back in the 1960s, we would have 56-page daily newspapers, with a 50 to 60 percent news hole. Now, the Democrat Gazette may run 32 to 50 pages, with a 70 or 80 per cent news hole. That represents the loss of a lot of advertising. I have long wondered how the Democrat-Gazette makes it with the paucity of advertising. Sometimes, a page will only have 10 to 20 column inches of advertising. If it weren't for the inserts, and the special sections, the paper would be in a much worse condition, if it had to depend on the traditional ads.


I live in Memphis and have watched Gannett destroy the state's newspapers like our Commercial Appeal, The Tennessean, the Knoxville News-Sentinel and the Jackson Sun. How bad it is? I would love for WEHCO to buy the Commercial Appeal, as they also own the Chattanooga paper, the closest thing we have to independent media in all of Tennessee.


The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette needs to offer a consistent discount rate for seniors. It is difficult for those on a fixed income to plan finances with seesaw rates. This might stop bleeding in one vital area: readership. As to young adult readers, the key is education. Always has been. Always will be.

Robert K Widding

In response to an Oct. 31 Arkansas Blog post reporting that the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport will begin offering direct flights to Washington, D.C.:

Nearer, my Trump, to thee,

Nearer to thee!

Een though it be a Russian

That raiseth me.

Still all my song shall be

Nearer, my Trump, to thee,

Nearer, my Trump, to thee,

Nearer to thee!


In response to the Oct. 16 Arkansas Blog post “UA Little Rock picks firm to study football”

I guess UALR has money to waste. This study will probably conclude with the same results the 30 Crossing [study] did, i.e. this is a "have to" idea.

From the web

In response to the Oct. 16 Arkansas Blog post "UA Little Rock picks firm to study football":

I guess UALR has money to waste. This study will probably conclude with the same results the 30 Crossing [study] did, i.e. this is a "have to" idea. Then UALR can follow the ASU model of funding it, charge the students, use tax dollars, and borrow from the budgets of other departments.


Great idea. Then let big daddy UA give them Bielema to finish out his contract as their coach. He'll probably last about a month in that job given the "talent" that surely exists at UALR. That should be enough to save UA the cost of firing him or buying out the contract.


If UALR is fortunate enough to gain a marching band, I pray that they'll have saucy majorettes instead of those whiney flag squads.


No no no no.

Who thinks this is remotely a good idea? With the growing evidence of health concerns combined with the vast majority of schools losing money on football, what the what?

Their AD answered the question — don't waste money, especially if it's a veiled excuse to try and save the crappy War Memorial Stadium. That ship has sailed and so should any serious thought that money should be spent to discover something already answered.


Look for a "study" that says, "It's Time For Some Big-Time Collegiate Football in War Memorial Stadium!" Schools don't puke up big bux for studies that say, "Naw, You Small-Time Colleges With No On-Campus Student Body Would Be Pissing Money Down a Rat Hole If You Ponied Up $5M a Year for a Top Rated Coach Like Bret Bielema to Put You in the Alabama-Buckeyes Big Time." Claude Bahls

Well, it's a good thing they aren't wasting any of that money on expanding academic programs or scholarships for underrepresented populations.


A feasibility study does not actually give a recommendation. It puts numbers on start-up and annual costs. Those numbers are based on things like what stadium will be used, what conferences the school can play in, and what the average revenue and expenses of programs in those conferences are like.


In response to the Oct. 16 Arkansas Blog post "Fort Smith legislator paid almost $700,000 on port concept. A waste, says one evaluation.":

Conservative welfare at its finest.

What is it about Fort Smith elected officials? Jake Files and now this guy. I think the finances of all our legislators need to be examined.

Poison Apple

Does [Mat] Pitsch have ANY professional qualifications in the freight transportation area? The Arkansas Department of Transportation has multimodal planning responsibilities and actually has qualified consultants on retainer for river port studies. This should have come through them IF there was a need to study, which there was not.

Arbiter of All Things AOAT

[He said] he has had to pay taxes on his income and bear the cost of his "family's benefits package."

Oh, wow! Just imagine if everyone had to do that! And on an average of, what, about $80,000 a year — not including his income, etc., from his legislative boondoggling, er, work, of course.


Fort Smith and Sebastian County seem to be most eager to allow members of the legislature to rip them off for projects that never get built. I guess that is the conservative ethic at work.


In response to the Arkansas Times' Oct. 12 profile of attorney Mike Laux, who has sued the Little Rock Police Department five times over police-involved shootings. Yes, there are criminals that should be arrested for breaking the law, but glossing over unjustified excessive force and fatal shootings is making the city of Little Rock more violent. Mr. Laux explained what he sees happening in Little Rock and I agree with his comments. You can pray about the violence until you are blue in the face, but nothing will change until the state government, city officials and the police department show the public that they take police shootings seriously, want the truth and will pursue justice, so everyone else involved will take it seriously. If they don't, the violence will get worse and it will be their fault.


In response to the Times' Oct. 12 story "DHS rule change threatens disabled care: ARChoices algorithm inspires state and federal lawsuits."

Now how did DHS "lose the data" for the algorithm that determined the level of care? This is not believable. Either someone is lying or incompetent. Legal Services needs to depose Tami Harlan, the deputy director of medical services under oath. Let us see what Tami Harlan says.

Orval Falsebus

Choosing levels of care by the use of the abacus is the same as length of the rope vs. body weight to insure a successful hanging. Medical care is not Moneyball. This is the situation of getting what you want but not wanting what you get.

Going for the record again

Why can't DHS or any state agency answer questions? This attitude of we don't have to account to anyone for why or what we do is increasing and it is approved of by the governor. It sounds like they are covering up something they don't want the public to know. I consider lying a sin, even if it isn't on Charlton Moses Heston's Ten Commandments chart. What happened to the Arkansas government's morals, integrity, and common decency toward other human beings? You would almost think they want people who are elderly, disabled, sick and poor to die so they won't be a liability to the state budget. If that were true, they should not be governing or in charge of people's lives. They practice fetus worship but kill off people they think aren't important to their voter base. They are really pro-death. There is nothing pro-life about them. Are they getting their orders from Donald? Or has he allowed them to finally show their true natures?


From Facebook

In response to the Oct. 16 Arkansas Blog post "Judge objects to trainer's reference to Black Lives Matter," about Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen's complaint that during a recent training for courtroom personnel an instructor called BLM a hate group "like the KKK": But which of these groups have a history of murder, intimidation and government sanctioned terror?

Reginald Ford

One group wants to wipe out all others who are not white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants, though it is sometimes vague on just HOW they plan to accomplish that ... as they hold their AR-15s. The other group is protesting the injustice that allows police to kill blacks at a very high rate, with the judiciary further allowing it. Their implementation to accomplish that is peaceful protest, and to continue to bring the blatant injustice to light through video and publicity of cases. HOW is BLM a hate group, again?

Betty J. Rousey

Well, black lies (sic) matter is a violent deceitful hate group, little different than the old-time KKK.

Steve Estrada

Black Lives Matter was begun by grieving mothers of sons slaughtered by police. So this guy equates moms w/the KKK???

Denise Parkinson

I am so pleased that Judge Griffen spoke out.

Margaret Ann Gibson Niven

In response to the Oct. 15 Arkansas Blog post "Talking Turkey, Yellville Turkey Trot Style:

This is godawful and cruel - what kind of a person would participate in this?

Fran Owens

Few People up here take pride in their barbarism. Look who they vote for. As for AG&F's sponsorship, I believe they have a turkey calling contest at the Kelley Slab site. Don't expect Chamber sponsors to effect much change. Remember the Klan exists quite openly just over the county line in Boone. Institutionalized animal cruelty is par for such a community.

J.R. Pinky

Arkansas, you're proving your ignorance by keeping this tradition going another year. This is barbaric. Stop! These turkeys don't always land safely when being thrown from an airplane at 100 mph and the people who think this is funny and entertaining are ridiculous.

Jessica Garrison

Animal cruelty should be EVERYONE'S business. Ditto child abuse, elderly abuse. Arkansas has become the laughing stock of the country, thanks to Yellville. This gene pool needs to be drained, and fast. Such an embarrassment to the State.

Elizabeth Wood

Maybe you should visit a chicken/turkey processing plant and watch the hang them upside down it a dark room and cut their throats so they will bleed out. Then steam their feather off before the suck their guts out with a vacuum. Then dropping them from a plane won't seem so bad.

Sonny Bell

If not now, then when?

I remember asking that question after 20 children were murdered at Sandy Hook. Surely, this tragedy would wake us up--get us working to end our gun violence epidemic.

If not now, then when?

I remember asking that question after 20 children were murdered at Sandy Hook. Surely, this tragedy would wake us up--get us working to end our gun violence epidemic. But nothing was done. Fast forward five years and more headlines saying "Deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history," and we have the national tragedy in Las Vegas.

I'm sure the gun lobby will double down; they have proven that profits, not people are important. For decades the NRA has dismantled gun safety regulations across the country with their message of fear — that we can only be safe if we are armed at all times.

I don't think an arms race is the answer.

We need a policy that prohibits gun access to criminals and people suffering from mental illness, and allow research on gun violence as a health issue so we can really shine a light on the problem.

Together, we can make our communities safer and still respect the Second amendment. Contrary to what the NRA says, this isn't a zero sum game. Universal background checks on all gun sales, including sales at gun shows and online would help enforce existing prohibitions and doesn't infringe on anyone's right. This idea is supported by 93 prcent of Americans, including gun owners and NRA members.

Please take action, call your representatives: Tell them now is the time to take a stand against the NRA, and pass common sense gun laws. You can also join Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America, a grassroots organization standing up to the NRA, made up of volunteers in all states who are tired of seeing the endless gun violence.

Let's start now. When our country is faced with a problem we fix it, we don't throw our hands up and say there's nothing we can do. Thoughts and prayers are needed in times like these, but if we don't take action, we won't escape these times. If not now then when?

Daniel Bishop Conway

From the web in response to the Oct. 9 Arkansas Blog post "Trump can still count on Tom Cotton":

Cotton may be the last face your children and grandchildren sees before the door slams shut to deliver Trump's Final Solution. If you aren't of the pure Aryan Race a la the six white men misrepresenting Arkansas in D.C. today, your days may be numbered. Also the continued poking of Kim Jung Un with a sharp stick may doom us all. If you are still a Cotton supporter, please self-deport ASAP!


Sen. Corker, who I disagree with on most issues, is dead on with this. Trump is a danger to the country and Sen. Corker is remembering that his oath of office is not to Trump and his regime, but to the U.S. Constitution.

Rick 1

From the web in response to the Oct. 10 Arkansas Blog post "Mike Pence makes political hay from National Anthem; Trump ready for war":

What one thing do you know for sure when they say that it's not about racism?


Pence should have just said he disagreed with the players. But not go to the stadium with the intention of turning right around and leaving. Imagine all the extra security and inconvience to paying fans wanting to just see a game — all in the name of a publicity stunt.

Still waiting on final totals for the total cost to the taxpayers for this racist PR stunt. There are no figures I can find on secret service and local police costs and support staff in the three various locations. We know this was a preplanned farce because the press corp traveling with Pence was told not to enter the stadium in Indiana because Pence wouldn't be in there very long. But according to the Air Force, the 3 hour 20 minute flight on AF2 from Las Vegas to Indianapolis cost the taxpayers $100,000. Shortly after, the flight from Indianapolis to the republican fundraiser in Los Angeles cost taxpayers $142,500.


From the web in response to the Oct. 10 Arkansas Blog post "Gun goddess Jan Morgan is exploring a run for governor":

Might want to leave her in obscurity, Max. With all this Trump Derangement hysteria feeding the mob, any news of Jan would most likely help her win.

Remember, the media mocked Trump, and he won over Obama voters, so you might want to let Jan live in obscurity because all you are doing is helping her win.

Steven E

If the Roy Moore/Bannon branch takes over the Republican Party, and the rest of us let them take over the U.S., we will all get what they deserve.


A Northwest Arkansas TV station has video of her at a Republican event and her criticisms of A$a drew lots of applause. Interesting.

Screen name taken

She looks like another blind ultra-conservative, toeing and towing the party line, no matter how much it hurts regular people. Arkansas Works is working well, whether the President is black or not.


For those folks who think Donald Trump isn't quite nutty enough, now we have this thing.

Doesn't Arkansas already have enough to be embarrassed about?

The problem is, I could drive downtown and find 50 people in a matter of minutes who would think she is the answer to their prayers.


From the web in response to the Oct. 8 Arkansas Blog post "Huckabee serves up soft balls to Donald Trump":

I didn't watch but from what I've seen the most ridiculous thing Trump said was that he came up with the word "fake"!

I think one of the greatest of all terms I've come up with is 'fake'," he said. I guess other people have used it, perhaps, over the years, but I've never noticed it."


My old step-dad would say, "Right there's where two fools came together."

Errol Roberts

From the web in response to the Oct. 6 Arkansas Blog post "Trump administration moves to loosen birth control mandate in health insurance":

Seems that some personal responsibility might be required.


I know, right? Like why should my premiums go to pay for the treatment of some dude's coronary artery disease when he should have taken "personal responsibility" for his health and adopted a vegan diet. Why should my premiums go to pay for the ER treatment of kids sick with measles or whooping-cough because their parent's opposed vaccinations on religious grounds? They should have taken "personal responsibility" for their kid's health. I think this "citing religious or moral objections" is a two-way street. I think that the amount of money my insurance company charges for drug X is outrageously and immorally expensive and thus, "citing religious or moral objections," I will refuse to pay my bill to them. They better just suck it up and write the debt off, cause I got "religious freedom" on my side.


Birth control protects families as well as men. And who causes pregnancies? Men. Who fathers babies? Men. Who is protected by birth control? Men as well as families. This is just an excuse to weaken maternity and child coverage! But viagra is covered — even for unmarried men. Why should a celibate widow of 17 years pay for men to have relations?

aqua blue

Mena memories

Not sure of the exact time, but back then a county deputy (later a drug task force officer) told me he'd been on a mountaintop near the Polk County line when a large twin-engine aircraft flew over so low that he threw himself on the ground to avoid the propellers.

From the web

In response to Mara Leveritt's Sept. 28 cover story, "Who's afraid of Barry Seal?":

Not sure of the exact time, but back then a county deputy (later a drug task force officer) told me he'd been on a mountaintop near the Polk County line when a large twin-engine aircraft flew over so low that he threw himself on the ground to avoid the propellers. This guy is now deceased, but he never lied to me about anything else.


louie, when I lived in NW Arkansas there was an emergency services director who came from Polk County. He told me about a plane crash in which the plane was full of guns. And of seeing Oliver North in town before anyone knew who Oliver North was. 


In response to Gene Lyons' Oct. 2 column, "Trump and sports":

Gene, you're spot-on with "... sports stars have constituencies of their own." Trump would do well to walk away from that battle. Could this be the straw that breaks the Donald's back? We can always hope.

Tony Galati

President Trump took an oath to defend the country when he took office, so if sport stars are entitled to speak their issues, this wrestling style takedown by the world leader slaps fiction to life with honest tell-it-like-it-is truth.

I don't know if Betsy Ross was real or make-believe, but I do know American soldiers were sacrificed liberating German concentration camps during WWII and were symbolized by the flag they hoisted high, Old Glory. Receiving the Stars and Stripes, a treasured piece of cloth, those Holocaust survivors knew for the rest of their days it was to be a symbol that brave men stood for something.


Odd, then, that Trump showed comparatively little indignation when Charlottesville marchers carried swastikas, don't you think?


The first line of Gene's article describes my brother. "For normal people, sports often serve as a refuge from politics." After a hard, long day at work, he just wants to come home, go to the internet and relax by reading sports statistics and articles about the actual game. He doesn't like politics and works 60 hours a week and has a demanding family to take care of, so he barely has time to sleep. He is irked that Trump has invaded the one place he can relax and filled it with his ugly, ranting political outbursts.


In response to the Oct. 2 Arkansas Blog post, "Arkansas officials react to mass shooting" in Las Vegas:

The price to pay to live in a society with such open and easy access to guns was paid by the poor folks shot to pieces like fish in a barrel last night.  Until American society decides they've had enough of this crap and starts getting serious about putting some controls on the easy availability of guns, this is only going to continue.

Rick 1

Yes, in general, more guns make us safer, but rifles designed solely for killing large numbers of human beings make us the most safe. Whether it be an AR-15 or an AK clone, every family needs one.

Ivan the Republican

Sickening weak responses from the usual numbskulls. Here's a thought: gun control, tougher gun laws, military weapons not sold to random batshit civilians, and praying mantis legislators resign so effective laws can be passed.


In response to the Oct. 2 Arkansas Blog post, "NFL fans boo players kneeling to pray before Anthem: It isn't about the flag":

That the kneeling that is supposedly "dividing" the country is a phenomenon driven by the pig grunts of hate being uttered by The Orange Idiot, who seeks to actively sow hatred and division as a distraction from his complete unfitness for office and his utterly failed administration filled with con artists, gangsters and grifters.


The whole point of Kaepernik's kneeling was that there were cameras attached to a mass audience. As a conversation starter, it seems to have worked.


Ever think about how history will treat The Donald? If he's lucky he'll be remembered around the world as an arrogant, egotistical and crass jackass.


In response to the Sept. 27 Arkansas Blog post, "Governor laments defeat of Obamacare repeal. 300,000-plus Arkansans don't join him":

Asa Hutchinson has certainly shed a tear or two for the propertied class.

"... [I] will continue to focus on creating a more efficient, sustainable system of health care in The Natural State for future generations."

Translation: "If we can make the rules more byzantine, we can cull the rolls of folks, who will then hopefully dutifully die, thus freeing up money for more top-rate income tax cuts. As our lawd of prosperity gospel intends."


I'm still at a loss as to why he was willing to give $6 billion away. This country we live in under Republican domination is becoming more and more bizarre!


Let's not kid ourselves. This governor can do math. He knows full well what the passage of Graham-Cassidy would have done to Arkansas, to the state budget and to his ability to continue to cut taxes (which has been made possible by all of the Obamacare money flowing into the state's coffers).

The bill's failure allows him to have his cake and eat it, too: healthy budget, more tax cuts and the opportunity to say all the things that the mouth-breathers want to hear.

He's safe, but his right flank is wobbly and his legislative allies need him to toe the line on this issue.


In response to the Sept. 25 Arkansas Blog post, "Husbands' influence on the vote of women," citing a wife who voted for Trump because her husband worked in the coal industry:

You'd think a college-educated woman would be able to look around her and see that coal is a dying resource for power generation or much of anything else.  Well, unless WWIII breaks out. Then we, or rather those of us who are still around, will use anything we can scrounge up. Do you think that woman will be able to adapt?


In an election where you had two evils, either vote was going to be a loser.  The man didn't seem to have any influence on the woman who voted Trump. As a thinking person, she gave it the economic thought about who would do better for an industry her husband had a stake in, and he didn't have to tell/ask/beg her to make that Trump vote.  Still, this mass hysteria is rather illuminating as those who seek to blame those percentage of women that had valid reason, based in fact, of why they wouldn't stomach Hillary Clinton as president.

Steven E

I'm happy that my wife and I agree on politics. I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a house divided, such as that of Mary Matalin and her husband, James Carville, who not only vote differently, but actively work for candidates who are diametrically opposed on all of the critical issues. I am sure there have been times when each has had to destroy the other politically. How can love survive in such an atmosphere?


Minimizing rape

I am writing in response to the opinion piece written by Gene Lyons titled "Sex on Campus," published Sept. 21, on behalf of all sexual assault crisis centers in Arkansas and other advocates who work with victims of rape and/or sexual assault. We are compelled to set the record straight with facts about sexual assault, the brain and body's response to traumatic events, and the usefulness of Title IX to address victimizations on campuses.

Minimizing rape

I am writing in response to the opinion piece written by Gene Lyons titled "Sex on Campus," published Sept. 21, on behalf of all sexual assault crisis centers in Arkansas and other advocates who work with victims of rape and/or sexual assault. We are compelled to set the record straight with facts about sexual assault, the brain and body's response to traumatic events, and the usefulness of Title IX to address victimizations on campuses.

Lyons included incomplete research and harmful inaccuracies in his opinion piece, as did Emily Yoffe in her recent articles in The Atlantic on the topic. Publishing incomplete and misinformation does a disservice to the public and limits our community's ability to understand the scope and impact of sexual assault.

Questioning the validity of science that seeks to understand the body's response to trauma discredits victims of sexual violence and other traumatic events. While biological and emotional responses to sexual assault vary, it is widely agreed upon that when the brain perceives a threat, there are common brain-based responses. The science behind the neurobiology of trauma is real and has been ongoing for decades. Yoffe herself makes the argument when she asserts, "being assaulted is traumatic and no one should expect those who have been assaulted to have perfect recall or behave perfectly rationally." We see the biologically-based reactions to trauma evidenced by the variety of survival reflexes, habits or defense responses after a traumatic event experienced by those who serve our country through the police force or soldiers in combat. Even victims of car accidents prove the experience of trauma can cause these same reactions because the brain has perceived a threat.

Though he includes an obligatory clause saying, "[his article] is in no way to minimize rape," Lyons' opinion does, in fact, "minimize rape." Rape is a serious and widespread problem. As noted by the National Sexual Violence Resource center, the reality is one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. Research from a variety of sources and methodologies confirm approximately 20 of college women are sexually violated. Studies dating back 30 years on the scope of rape amongst college students have validated these figures. Additionally, consent is necessary and ongoing in healthy, normal, legal interactions. If one of the participants is too intoxicated (or otherwise incapacitated) to participate or remain conscious (and thus consent) throughout the whole process, the law is clear that the sex act should end. No one is entitled to assume consent for any sex act they desire will be granted simply because other acts were agreed to. If a person enthusiastically orders a cup of tea, but falls asleep before the tea is delivered, it is widely understood that the once highly desired cup of hot tea should not be poured down the throat of the sleeping person. Similarly, sex acts must not be forced upon someone who is blacked out, asleep, ill from alcohol poisoning, incapacitated by drugs, restrained or otherwise overpowered.

It seems Lyons does not care much for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her attacks on public schools, which makes his opinion piece all the more perplexing as it seems to scoff at attacks on public school students. The Title IX system has only begun working for victims of sexual assault. Yes, it has been a bumpy road. No, we have not found it to be a perfect system. Nor is the criminal court system, it is worth noting. Campus disciplinary processes and the protections against gender-based discrimination and resulting hostile environments provided by Title IX offer options to victims of sexual violence that allow them to continue their education while seeking remedies for what was done to them. Once people who have been sexually abused or raped feel safe and understand the reporting process, more reports will be made. This is to be expected. This is a sign the system is beginning to work.

Lyons' opinion that, "It's not a criminal matter, you see. Merely one's educational and professional future that can be at stake," is as outrageous as it is appalling. A victim of sexual violence is often left with emotional difficulties that impact the rest of their life; their education is disrupted, as are their relationships with friends, family and classmates. The very worst outcome for a person found guilty of violating a school's code of conduct is that they are not allowed to finish their education at the institution where the rules of conduct were violated. No incarceration. No parole or supervision. No mandated counseling. No offender registry. They can continue their education elsewhere. A victim of sexual violence may face barriers to completing their education anywhere.

Finally, Lyons shows his true colors when, in the same article, he attempts to debunk the science of trauma, yet writes "... both men and women lie all the time, and sex is one of the topics they lie about most often. Ask any divorce lawyer." Sex is different from sexual assault. Conflating the two perpetuates the problem. Sexual assault is a widespread, serious problem — on campuses and in communities in Arkansas and every other state in the nation. Cheering the demise of a federal law that encourages prevention education and offers protections to students who have been harmed so that they might continue to pursue their education in a safe environment makes no sense. It is bad policy, bad practice, bad politics and in this case, bad press.

Monie Johnson

Executive director

Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault Little Rock

Sports vs. religion

Has anyone else noticed that right wingers, including the president, want to keep politics out of sports, but have no problem injecting politics into religion? Interesting.

RL Hutson Cabot

On Walmart and state money

No they don't need state help. Any conservative legislator who is true to their tea party principles will crow on about crony capitalism. I look forward to deafening silence.

From the web

In response to the Sept. 15 Arkansas Blog post "Walmart plans to build new HQ in Bentonville" about the corporation's plans to apply for a grant from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission:

No they don't need state help. Any conservative legislator who is true to their tea party principles will crow on about crony capitalism. I look forward to deafening silence.


God, I hope we can help them out!!! Maybe we can sell off the town of Waldron and give Walmart the proceeds.

Arbiter of All Things AOAT

Why does a corporation that is partly responsible for dismantling the Pulaski County Special School District deserve grants? Perhaps I am not being considerate of the dent building a new headquarters will have in their average $14 billion net profit every year. I feel like such a cynic.

Artificial Intelligence

Why does the world's largest retailer need assistance from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission? Shouldn't AEDC work on bringing in new economic opportunities?  This sounds like corporate welfare. 


You folks might want to visit Northwest Arkansas and see what Walmart has done for Arkansas. Jobs and economic activity run amuck. As the owner of the Arkansas government, do you know who your largest customer is? [If] these guys put their new headquarters out to bid (like Amazon), and the sucking sound in Arkansas would be deafening.

A broke Arkansas guy started a company and grew it into the largest company in the world. He kept the headquarters in Arkansas. And now, they are choosing to stay here for decades to come. Thank you, Walmart. Thank you for the payroll taxes we collect. Thank you for the income taxes we collect. Thank you for the contribution you make to our economy. Thank you for the intelligent people you attract. Thank you for the hundreds of millions you give away to make our communities stronger.

Here's to another half a century of success for all.


dowhat, we spent the night in Bentonville in June, having not been back there since we sold our house in Pea Ridge in '92. The Bentonville Square is nice. The hotels are aplenty, and reasonably priced. But Walmart HQ ? It was sad. It was almost laughable.

Sam and Bud were from Missouri. After being born in Oklahoma. Went to the same high school I went to in Columbia, Mo. Sam ended up in Arkansas after his military discharge (Oklahoma, again.) He, with help from Helen's dad, obtained a Ben Franklin store in Newport. He's been long dead, and it's not his Walmart any more. He was no more "broke" than Hillary Clinton. Nice try, though.

Walmart HQ in Bentonville looks like a warehouse district in some godforsaken river bottoms, only it's up on an eroded plateau and there's no river barge traffic.

I don't care how much Walmart has stimulated the economy, it does not deserve taxpayer help to build on land they already own. It's not as though it's a gonna raise up the local property tax base.


I agree with dowhat on this issue. Having lived in Northwest Arkansas for 50 years, I have witnessed how much beneficial effect Walmart has had on the economy — and the quality of life. It's much better for the state to hand out its incentives to a homegrown business than to foreign corporations, which oftentimes default on their obligations and have no philanthropic concerns for the local area. I'm looking forward to seeing the new headquarters. I understand there was a concerted effort by some officers in the corporation several years ago to move the headquarters to a more cosmopolitan location. The Walton family stood firm. It would always be in Bentonville, they said, as long as they have the controlling interest.


In response to the Arkansas Blog post "Arkansas legislature rejects bipartisan effort to study race relations":



Racial resentment runs deep here in good ole D'arkansas, especially since Trump fanned the dying embers into a roaring bonfire. Keyword "dying" may be the only long-term cure.


There should be lots of studies from around the country. Seems like it would be easier for some legislators to get some of the studies and then pitch ideas that have worked elsewhere. Not a fan of studies that do nothing and then politicians taking credit for "studying."

Screen name taken

Our legislature seems far more interested in exclusion than inclusion. Otherwise, why would they keep on introducing voter I.D. laws that are clearly meant to exclude anyone but white people? Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Springdale), Sen. Linda Collins-Smith (R-Pocahontas) et al. want us all to march lockstep to their white, Baptist dictates. I guess that's what their Jesus tells them to do. Oh, and I am white.


Naw, they are too busy erecting Ten Commandments and statues to be interested in too many things that will divert their attention from their worthy labor of love.


Don't know why, but your Tech Park (that I've been reading about in these blogs for, what, six years?) just popped into my head. How is that coming along for ya? The best and brightest diverse young minds flocking there for those jobs, are they?

Norma Bates

In response to the Sept. 14 Arkansas Blog post "State Board of Education gives final green light to three more charters in Little Rock":

Anybody who thinks this isn't about completely charterizing Little Rock and Pine Bluff schools (the last strongholds of Democrats and democracy in Arkansas), let me know. I've got some prime oceanfront property in Northwest Arkansas you can have for a mere pittance. Excepting of course those poor and special needs students in Little Rock and Pine Bluff who can't be easily turned into profit centers.

Sound Policy

Charter schools are good for those children who have already been dealt a good hand. We're resegregating the population with charter schools.  On top of that, charters are not held to the same education services standard traditional public schools are. For instance, they offer limited special education services and those they do provide are typically contracted out. "At risk" children often need special assistance. When open enrollment charters do allow a certain percentage of children in this classification into their schools, they often cannot provide the services needed to ensure academic success.

I agree that there may be a public/charter partnership possibility. I just don't see the Waltons, Johnny Key or the State Board giving each its fair share.


On bullshit

I am quoted in Leslie Peacock's article about doctors and medical marijuana. I do not disown any of the things I am quoted as saying, and I commend Peacock on her excellent research and writing. I've enjoyed reading her for at least two decades. But the slant of the article creates a misperception that I am (and many other doctors like me are) cruelly depriving suffering human beings of beneficial treatment. This is not correct.

Silly season

The "silly season" is almost here. This is the season in which some people talk and act crazy about themselves and public policy. It happens around every two years. Political candidates do everything in their power to win public office. In Arkansas, judicial candidates file as early as December of this year. Democrats and Republicans will start signing up as early as February 2018. Voting for primary elections starts in early May. When the primaries are finished, Arkansas's political government will basically be decided. There is only one viable political party now in Arkansas, the Republicans, and winners of the Republican primary contests will most likely proceed to public office. The general election in November 2018 will simply be a formality for our red state's constitutional officers and most of the legislature. Our governor, attorney general and representatives can plan their agendas now for the next two years.

The silly season is also made simpler by computer voting. Arkansas is quickly switching to the Schouptronic machines provided by the Danahar Control Corp. in Illinois. Paper trails are not available to the silly news media and software engineers will eventually be able to design voting results throughout our state. Maybe someday soon Arkansans will be able to phone text their choices for "Republican Idol." Virtual democracy and a one-party system take a lot of the silliness out of politics.

Gene Mason Jacksonville

On bullshit

I am quoted in Leslie Peacock's article about doctors and medical marijuana. I do not disown any of the things I am quoted as saying, and I commend Peacock on her excellent research and writing. I've enjoyed reading her for at least two decades. But the slant of the article creates a misperception that I am (and many other doctors like me are) cruelly depriving suffering human beings of beneficial treatment. This is not correct. The problem is that there is a lack of scientifically valid evidence that marijuana is helpful for any medical condition that I treat, such as PTSD. Peacock notes on the Psychiatric Associates of Arkansas Facebook page an article reviewing the evidence for using marijuana for PTSD and chronic pain. The article concludes there is no good evidence that marijuana is a beneficial treatment for either of these conditions. The article is published in the prestigious, peer-reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine and is summarized in a Reuter's clip. Peacock's article states that my office "voted" not to certify medical marijuana. Voting has nothing to do with this or with determining whether any medical treatment is appropriate. If doctors voted that apple juice cured colon cancer, it would not make it any more effective. I do not object to unusual treatments. If you look on the Facebook page there are also articles about using ketamine (the club drug "special K") as a treatment for depression and MDMA (the club drug "ecstasy") as a treatment for PTSD. If there is evidence a treatment is safe and alleviates human suffering or remediates human disease, then I am all over it. The "evidence" for medical marijuana is testimonial. While testimony is emotionally compelling, it carries no scientific weight. It is not hard to find examples of testimony to just about anything. Even the available testimonial data is not gathered in the systematic scientific way a medical sociologist might do. In my own area of psychiatry there is plenty of evidence that marijuana does harm. For instances it can provoke paranoia and psychosis in people who are predisposed. It can interfere with motivation and memory. I defer to other specialists regarding marijuana as a treatment for seizures, HIV, Alzheimer's disease, etc.

I know that the law only requires that a doctor certify that somebody has one of the listed conditions and does not require the doctor to certify that it is his or her professional opinion that marijuana helps the condition. Think about who this disclaimer lets off the hook: It is not the doctors who provide treatments to patients that are proven to be helpful to them. I will never in my capacity as a doctor advise a patient: "Take this; there is no evidence it works and I don't know whether it does more harm than good — but here you go."

In Peacock's article I am quoted using the word "baloney." I apologize for this word choice. I self-censored to be polite. The word I actually have in mind is "bullshit," in the sense described in the philosopher H.G. Frankfurt's definitive treatise "On Bullshit." Frankfurt argues bullshit is a valuable concept in analyzing human discourse. He states that the difference between bullshit and lying is that the liar is concerned with truth (and wants to obscure or misrepresent it), whereas the bullshitter does not care what the truth is — he is up to something else. For instance, I was out with a friend, and he ordered a bottle of wine and grinned and said "for my heart." I rolled my eyes. Why did he grin and why did I roll my eyes? Because both of us recognized his statement was bullshit. Notice that truth is irrelevant here; wine may or may not be good for his heart, but that is not why he was ordering a bottle of wine. He was ordering a bottle of wine because it is an intoxicating, euphoriant drug, and we both know it. When I say medical marijuana is bullshit, what I mean is that whether or not medical marijuana is helpful for any medical condition, people use it because it is an intoxicating, euphoriant drug. And we all know it. When someone says they use marijuana for their PTSD, they should grin and we should roll our eyes.

Arkansas voters can pass a law legalizing medical marijuana, but they cannot pass a law making marijuana an appropriate treatment for any illness any more than my partners and I can vote that marijuana is not an appropriate treatment for PTSD. The only thing that can establish the utility of marijuana as a treatment is a randomized blocks, placebo-controlled trial comparing marijuana with a plausible placebo and using objective measures and statistical analyses to sort out all the biases that human beings are prone to. In the case of medical marijuana, such evidence is conspicuously absent. Unless there is good scientific evidence, medicine should not be involved with this at all. Also, notice that I am not necessarily against revoking the laws prohibiting marijuana use. I think a good case can be made for repealing all of our vice laws — because their enforcement is too expensive, painful, and ineffective — and then mount public health information campaigns and presume that smart, good, well-informed people will choose to live healthy, happy, productive lives and cultivate good habits rather than bad habits, and they will judiciously use pharmaceuticals that are proven to be helpful to them. That is, we might do better if we treated all vices like we do nicotine use — develop public health and moral solutions rather than punitive, painful legal sanctions. And a debate about this would be honest and not bullshit.

I also worry about doctors monetizing human suffering. The U.S. medical system, which should be devoted to ameliorating disease and easing suffering, is already badly twisted by perverse economic incentives. Obviously, the most self-serving way for me to play the medical marijuana game would be to hand out a checklist with the qualifying diagnoses and their symptoms and have patients check off symptoms and attach a check for $250. I would then provide a signed certificate and a disclaimer that there is no good scientific evidence that marijuana helps any of these conditions. And I could do it all by mail or telemedicine. The patients would buy short-term happiness and I'd be rich. And we could both grin and roll our eyes.

Richard Owings

Psychiatric Associates of Arkansas Little Rock

From the web

In response to Leslie Peacock's Sept. 7 cover story on medical marijuana:

Is hydrocodone "baloney"? Is OxyContin "baloney"? Are fentanyl patches "baloney"? Are the addictions and long-lasting effects on patients' health of the three previous drugs mentioned just "baloney"? I have never met a marijuana addict. I have met plenty of hydrocodone addicts who are now so messed up that they are turning to heroine to ease their physical pain and sadly falling into deeper spirals of addiction.

Artificial Intelligence

Amen. I say give it awhile. After the storm of the early days turns into months and a year or so, the benefits will began to show and start outweighing the negative attitudes on the subjects. The doctors will truly see the good in using it and will begin to come around. You'll see.

Mike Hogan Sr.

Anything that might, I say even might, cut down on the opioid addiction in this country, which leads to heroin, I am all for. Since it is nonaddictive (not to be confused with habit or liking it a lot), I say it is worth a try. Many parts of the country are seeing enormous spikes in opioid addiction deaths in all age groups. No approach seems to be working. For that reason alone, I would be in favor of  legalization of marijuana.