Archive for Letters

Happy birthday, Head Start

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson stood in the White House Rose Garden to announce the creation of Head Start, a federal program that would ensure at-risk children across the nation received access to a quality early childhood education.

Happy birthday, Head Start

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson stood in the White House Rose Garden to announce the creation of Head Start, a federal program that would ensure at-risk children across the nation received access to a quality early childhood education.

I am among the 32 million Americans Head Start has served since its creation in 1965, and I can speak firsthand to the incredible difference it makes in the life of a young child facing poverty. The Newton County Head Start program's comprehensive approach to early education ensured I entered Kindergarten healthy — cognitively, emotionally and physically — and ready to succeed. Its whole-family focus also made sure my single mother had the tools and resources she needed to be the best mother she could be to me and my three siblings.

Head Start truly laid the foundation for my future success and lifelong commitment to early learning. I went on to graduate at the top of my high school class and was the first in my family to graduate college. Today, after a long career advocating for early childhood education, I serve as the Director of the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education at the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

So happy birthday, Head Start. As we plant rose bushes in celebration of 50 years of success, we renew our commitment to Head Start and plant the seeds for 50 more years of opportunity.

Tonya Solomon-Williams

Little Rock, Arkansas

From the web:

In response to an Arkansas Blog post, "The bigoted past of new state drug director Denny Altes" (May 15):

Does anyone vet these appointments beforehand?

JCJ

All the vetting Dimmy Altes needs is for you to be over the age of 40, have the ability to read a newspaper and this blog and a long term memory. I live in the same area that Secret Squirrel lives in and it's very easy to come up with the nickname, Dimmy, even if you're only paying half attention to this bizarre human. 

Not only being a racist and proving it many times over, he's also fond of wearing a long black waistcoat or duster while slipping into meetings and functions like he's a stealth CIA agent. Dimmy, son, WE CAN SEE YOU! Every time, we can see you.

Evidently there's big money to be made by only, ONLY electing idiots out of Sebastian and Crawford County. I guess it's better for the fat cats here that their elected representative be totally unable to represent anyone or to form an original thought or have a good grounding in right vs. wrong. 

We've been shipping idiots to Little Rock since forever and no wonder Fort Baptist is like an island in a stream, outcasts, never members of the Little Roc Club. We are regarded higher by our insaniac western neighbor, Okla-whoopty doo-homa. I'm sorry we helped send you Asa too! It is to cry.

DeathbyInches

In response to Andrea Zekis' guest column, "Hall out of touch on Jenner" (May 14):

You are right on! I think it's incredibly difficult to understand any transgender issues. The same way I find it impossible to understand what people feel like with "no conflict." I do also understand why they cannot comprehend my position. I only seek a basic understanding that conflicts can exist and we have right to attempt to resolve them as best we can without being considered some type of disease that requires extermination.

JimM

My problem is why does it have to be a rich white woman before people care? Trans women of color have been dying in the streets and no one cares. But one white woman opens her mouth and suddenly everyone is an "ally?"

Why is it always a rich white person before people care or listen? White supremacy is evil.

Chelsea Solis

In response to Gene Lyons' column, "Bigots can speak, and so can their critics" (May 14):

Compromise is a bitch when one side wants to be left alone, and the other side wants only genocide.

It was no false dichotomy, but some, apparently, will use it as a guise to defend the terrorists in the most venal and cowardly way possible.

It is provocative, and that is partly the point. If the KKK and Westboro have their right to protest and march, ugly people like Geller also have that right. The blinding truth, though, is that no other religion takes offense in such lethal manners. You can hold hook nose drawing contests, and Holocaust revisionists and the piss Christ, and nobody will shoot you.

We are supposed to respect and regard such people as would think murder is a proper response to offense as equals?

If we make allies, our true allies know there are parts of our nation that have a great time ridiculing and insulting each other, and the more mature groups laugh or come up with their own verbal retorts.

As for the brave officer, well, he had a Glock, and it was in .45, which is a good man stopper in a gunfight. I have shot the gun, and it is very accurate, in the right hands, so head shots from a guy who trains a lot is not surprising. He wishes to remain anonymous, and that is good, as other Jihadis may mark him as a target for being so insolent as to defend Geller and her group.

That is the thing to remember, when one goes after Kelly's all-too-spot-on analysis, these are not rational people your dealing with. Geller may be a target because of how provocative she is, but now a cop in Garland is a target because of what he stopped.

How are you going to fault him?

Steven E.

If Pam Geller or anyone else can be intimidated into not criticizing Islam, then they have won a huge psychological operations victory over America by preventing the Esprit de Corps that develops in a nation and its military at war against an enemy, which serves as a great source of motivation to prevail! And they wonder why we criticize their patriotism!

Thomas Pope

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Maltreatment of imprisoned mothers

n the front page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Arkansas page last week, we learned about the settlement of a lawsuit brought by women who were pregnant and incarcerated in the Pulaski County jail and were forced to deliver in the jail (with one delivering in the transport to the hospital). The amount of the settlement is not disclosed, but what is disclosed is the inhumane manner in which these women were treated, during their pregnancies and at the point of labor and birthing.

Maltreatment of imprisoned mothers

On the front page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Arkansas page last week, we learned about the settlement of a lawsuit brought by women who were pregnant and incarcerated in the Pulaski County jail and were forced to deliver in the jail (with one delivering in the transport to the hospital). The amount of the settlement is not disclosed, but what is disclosed is the inhumane manner in which these women were treated, during their pregnancies and at the point of labor and birthing. The description says so much about the attitude of the guards and the medical staff. Their mocking and careless disregard of the safety of these women and their infants should enlighten all of us to the quality of those we assign to serve in our jails and prisons. I do not need any further evidence of the cruelty and demonization of the people who we incarcerate. Are their newborns not as valued as newborns in the free world? The devaluation is certainly evidenced in these cases. And in a jail setting, these women may be innocent for all we know but cannot make bail. I am truly sickened, and I want our community to speak up loudly and clearly that we intend for the treatment to be appropriate for all of the mothers during pregnancy and thereafter. Our society cannot survive when we allow such abuse.

Dee Ann Newell

Little Rock

Pro Bernie

Good news! Sen. Bernie Sanders is challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. With this, Hillary's coronation by corporate media has hit a beautiful bump in the road. The reality is that like Republicans, Hillary and Obama are professional politicians with no real principles, who will take money from corrupting sources and say anything to obtain power.

Once in power, they cannot be trusted to do anything they said in their campaigns. That is not leadership! Bernie is a sincere leader with principled positions that may be uncomfortably true, but are the needed medicine.

As in previous elections, Hillary and "top tier" Republicans are the media-declared "serious" candidates because they raise millions from Wall Street and other ultra-wealthy interests. And of course, Wall Street does not donate for charity. They absolutely expect and are surely promised returns on their investments.

Please go to opensecrets.org to see the vast oceans of Wall Street cash in which these politicians bathe. Like Obama and Republicans, Hillary has taken many legal bribes from corporations like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Time Warner, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, 21st Century Fox, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, among others. Bernie has not.

Although Bernie is wrong on the important issue of Israel, like 99 percent of our Congress, he is right about virtually every other important issue. The most important issue, deeper even than economics, is saving and improving our democracy in the face of complete oligarchy, or rule by the richest few. We cannot solve any problems economic, environmental or peace-wise without functional democracy. On this, Bernie is the most powerful elected advocate for democracy we have.

The logic becomes that if Bernie is elected and can help save and improve democracy, we could then elect leaders that are badass on every issue like Congressman Dennis Kucinich was. Currently, if you are like Kucinich, your opponent gets massive corporate funding for your defeat; ultimately he was gerrymandered out of office.

With galactic cajones, Bernie correctly stands up for the democratic socialism that has helped make Scandinavian countries wonderful.

Bernie has said he will release "very specific proposals" to raise taxes on the superrich and corporations, serious healthcare reform toward single-payer Medicare for all, and tuition-free college education. He has also consistently opposed all job and environment killing "free" trade agreements like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Obama and Hillary support, and he supports stringent regulations of Wall Street.

The core of his campaign is on economic inequality and corruption of democracy by the billionaire and millionaire class. Bernie asks: "Is it morally appropriate that 99 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent ... and the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent ... [while] our democracy [is] being destroyed when one family can spend $900 million to buy elections?"

The reality is that the Democratic and Republican parties have shifted to the right, especially since Reagan. The Republicans have become purely a party for the oligarchs, and most top Democrats have become right wing on core economic policies, much more so than Republican President Eisenhower. Hillary Clinton once said there is a "vast right wing conspiracy." Ironically, she and Obama are a part of this conspiracy.

Obama's TPP, Obamacare, illegal NSA surveillance and Wall Street bailouts are right-wing corporatism. Obama's corporatist anti-environmental policy is exemplified in his Cushing speech: "I've (opened) up millions of acres for gas and oil ... more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore ... quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high ... added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some."

Moreover, Bill Clinton's NAFTA, WTO, 1999 removal of Depression Era banking regulations, social welfare cuts, and the 1996 Telecommunications Act were also right-wing corporatism.

Hillary will be virtually identical to Obama and Bill. They are decent on some social policies that do not threaten the economic interests of their wealthy campaign financiers. However, on fundamental economic policies, they are barely different from Republicans. Hillary will give a little lip service to inequality and democracy, but once elected, like Obama, she will very weakly do anything for the people, and work much harder for her wealthy masters.

The only way to defeat Wall Street candidates is if poorer — people do something. I just donated at BernieSanders.com and urge everyone else to do likewise. Thanks to people like us, Bernie Raised $1.5 million on day one, more than any Republican, with the average donation under $50.

In the altered words of Bernie, "A political revolution is coming! Don't underestimate us!"

Abel Tomlinson

Fayetteville

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You’re not being too harsh, Mr. Brantley

If the majority of Arkansans were as informed, thoughtful and objective as you, The Natural State wouldn't continue occupying the bottom rungs of the 50 states as it has since its statehood.

From the web

In response to Max Brantley's column, "Asa's talk is cheap" (April 30):

You're not being too harsh, Mr. Brantley.

If the majority of Arkansans were as informed, thoughtful and objective as you, The Natural State wouldn't continue occupying the bottom rungs of the 50 states as it has since its statehood.

But the majority isn't. So it does.

"Arkansas Values" were ugly and hurtful (not just to blacks; to your entire state's population and economy) in 1957.

As embodied in Gov. Hutchinson and his administration, they still are in 2015.

Bigots were wrong then; they're wrong now. Bigots will always be wrong, no matter how they dissemble. That's how the world works.

Kudos to you and the entire Arkansas Times staff. Especially during the past year or two, your coverage and reporting have risen to unprecedented and impressive new heights!

Norma Bates

In response to an Arkansas Blog post, "Martha Shoffner's attorney objects to possible 20-year sentence; argues for 12 to 18 months":

She feels bad about what she did, she needs a new roof and she went through the dreadful experience of going to jail.

Would these things be taken into consideration if she was an economically disadvantaged minority person who committed a crime? If not, then why take them into consideration now?

Kate

Who did she actually harm? The state lost no money on her sidebar payoffs.

That's the problem with our over-full penal system, we're sending too many to prison because we're mad at them, not because they're dangerous or a threat to society.

Your regressive, backward attitude and values is why the U.S.A. with 5 percent of the world's population has 25 percent of world's imprisoned.

eLwood

Just remember that in federal prison there is no parole, so she will serve the complete sentence, except for a little bit of good behavior time, unlike state prison, where a person usually serves about one-sixth of the time they receive. I'm not defending her, but 20 years is ridiculous, given the fact that, as Chuck Banks pointed out, there was absolutely no proof that the state lost money because of the bribes. I think two or three years is reasonable. She won't live much longer than that.

plainjim

Is Chuck playing the "age discrimination" card? Martha was aware of what she was doing.

She did it more than once. She was elected to do a job. Before running she knew what the job paid. (Or did she?) Ignorance not a valid excuse.

None of this: "Steele, why hast thou forsaken me stuff? Steele: "Well, Martha, to save my own ass, of course."

Martha: "I had this impression that getting into politics and winning an election gave the winner, uh, well, you know certain unspoken but well-deserved perks."

Steele Stephens just happened to be one of them, "no harm, no foul."

I'm too old for prison; they'll make fun of me. Probably tell me to shut my pie hole all the time.

Maxifer

In response to an Arkansas Blog post, "KKK billboard erected in Russellville; mayor speaks out":

Like I said earlier about Harrison, the Russellville Chamber of Commerce could and should blacklist the owner of this billboard and make him/her a pariah among the business community. Plaster their name in publicity so that no one else will ever do business with him/her again. Boycott their ass off. I seriously doubt that they only own one single billboard. Put them out of business and I suspect they would decide that renting their billboard to racists is not a good business decision.

Certainly we have and must protect free speech in this country; but, by the same token, the owner of the billboard has the freedom to refuse the business of racists. Until he/she does so, the people of Russellville, just like the people of Harrison, have the freedom to refuse to place ad on any of his/her billboards ... and if they are truly unsupportive of racist bigotry, that's exactly what they will do. Otherwise, they deserve to be painted as a racist city.

Perplexed

Excuse me but when did only African Americans have the right to express their views? I oppose bigotry but come on people, this is a subtle advertisement as opposed to burning down a city and of course the freedom of expression called looting. This PC nonsense has gone too far in one direction. I'd wager all would applaud if it said "no justice no peace."

Maggie Smerf

I am 100 percent free speech but the KKK has a history so intertwined with murder, terrorism and pure evil that you can't separate it from anything else it does. This would be the equivalent of Al Qaeda putting up a billboard. This would be the same as Hitler saying, "But I am a good artist, can't you compartmentalize that?"

Clem Hooten

In response to an Arkansas Blog item "Hutchinson names another study group -- this one on highways":

I'm actually for dedicating some or all of the sales taxes from vehicle sales, vehicle repairs, tires, vehicle parts, vehicle additives like oil and gas additives, Freon, etc. to roads with 50 percent for the state based on the county or zip code in which the money is collected from, 25 percent for the city and 25 percent for the county in which the money is collected.

That way the money is spent where the people live and the tax is collected from.

If people from Cabot drop their car off at Gwatney on their way to Little Rock or the Air Force base, then they should contribute to the maintenance of roads they drive on. If they take their car to a car dealer in Cabot, then the money stays in Cabot.

ok72076

Didn't Asa say something about a special session for some issue or another? Let's hope special sessions won't be needed for each task force or working group issue. We'd never get rid of the scum bags who are supposed to represent us, not the special interests who can wine and dine them every "working" day.

Doigotta

While it would have done some good when the energy needs were going on and not this slump, we tax natural gas far too low. We tax at 1/20th of what Texas charges because they tax all, at retail, at their borders. We gave them so many gifts that the drillers should be paying for a hooker pad for the legislature.

couldn't be better

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Clean streets, lower crime rate

The crime rate in Little Rock is higher than it has been in decades and our city is now the 64th top performer in violent crime in the U.S. An average Little Rock citizen has a 1 in 13 chance of being a victim of a theft crime and a 1 in 72 chance of being a victim of a violent crime. Hope is not lost for Little Rock, however, for other cities have faced the same problem.

Clean streets, lower crime rate

The crime rate in Little Rock is higher than it has been in decades and our city is now the 64th top performer in violent crime in the U.S. An average Little Rock citizen has a 1 in 13 chance of being a victim of a theft crime and a 1 in 72 chance of being a victim of a violent crime. Hope is not lost for Little Rock, however, for other cities have faced the same problem. For example, New York City reported a 51 percent decrease of theft and a 72 percent decrease in violent crimes by using a version of the Broken Windows theory. The theory claims that if an area is rundown then it will appear to be lawless and attract negative activity. If Little Rock cleaned up of these rundown areas, then there would be no attraction for the lawless, and in response Little Rock's crime rate would drop significantly. Another result of cleaner streets would be an increase in tourism, spiking the economy of Little Rock and the profits of the small business owners. Not only would the crime rate drop, but all of Little Rock would reap the benefits of cleaner streets.

John Redding

Little Rock

Against 2223

I am not at all surprised that the group supporting [Eureka Springs' equal rights] Ordinance 2223 has had to dig 40 years into a man's history to come up with a talking point. Please note: They are not sticking to the facts. Fact 1: that this ordinance was pushed through at the end of the city council meeting without a fair hearing or time for rebuttal. Fact 2: that state law prohibits cities from passing an ordinance having to do with discrimination. That is under the purview of the state of Arkansas.

They know the law is unenforceable and I would further submit to you that they know they don't have a leg to stand on, so they have engaged in the typical political ploy: completely change the subject so people will stop looking directly at the issue and instead engage in "ain't it awful." This group of people's true agenda is to divide our city into "us" and "them," which is the basic goal of most government offices. Keep raising a ruckus and not look at the facts.

As for Mr. Turner, he needs no defending. If you have to dig 40 years into a man's past to come up with some "dirt" on him, that probably means for the last 40 years he's been doing just fine.

Your paper has served the troublemakers as a divisive tool, which was their goal in the first place.

Pamela Stewart

Eureka Springs

From the web

In response to the Times' April 23 cover story, "What will Eureka do?":

First, I must thank Stephen King for allowing David free access to your literary channeling service and for only requiring a small plug for "The Shining" in payment.

In other words: Wonderful introduction to your insightful article, Mr. Koon! A hook such as this is sometimes necessary in order to lure a Philistine like myself to read an educational piece. I'm now much more informed about the current controversy up in Eureka Springs.

It's also left me grinning like a skeleton at the wheel of a wrecked Packard at the bottom of a hidden ravine somewhere in the Ozark Mountains.

Olphart

Good thing the legislative session is over. Otherwise, the bigot brigade led by Sen. Bart Hester and Rep. Bob Ballinger would be trying to pass a bill banning Bruce Jenner from coming to Arkansas. Small minds from wide gaps in the road trying to tell the rest of us how to live.

How about a vote to ban these two from Eureka Springs and Fayetteville?

philbilly

In response to "A child beaten, slain despite red flags" (April 23):

As a former caseworker this article is hard to read. Caseworkers are not psychic. They have to process investigations with the information available to them. An investigation entails meeting with the reporter, meeting with the child and meeting with the alleged offenders. The investigators see the home. If the worker and their supervisor could not find a reason to substantiate the allegations, then DHS is out of their lives. In some cases they can open what is called a supportive service case where they think the family could benefit from services. If an investigation was properly done and there was an unsubstantiated finding, then DHS is not culpable. Did the investigator search for the parents' names? I do not know. Were there issues with the system not picking up the previous cases? I do not know. The simple fact is this: Caseworkers are underpaid, overworked and have a very high turnover/burn-out rate. Caseworkers take the brunt of the abuse from the parents, kids, foster parents, judges and the system in general. We need less blaming DHS and more overhauling the system so cases don't fall through the cracks and children and families can get the services they need.

oneofthemdamnlesbians

Once a person has had a child removed from his or her custody for abuse, especially six confirmed physical and sexual abuse reports, then part of the punishment immediately should be to tie their tubes or give them a vasectomy. I know someone above said people can change, however, this man abused two sets of children and was allowed to have more babies in order to abuse them. Totally disgusting. Children need advocates. If people can't be good parents, then I don't think they should physically be capable of producing children. This is ridiculous. We are in the same state and the system failed. As the older son said, so much could have been done. We have an overpopulation problem on this earth. The last thing we need is more deviant people reproducing.

thetruthhurts

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In-prison visits important

Thank you for writing about the existing and the looming video visitation services for families of the incarcerated in our state's jails and prisons.

In-prison visits important

Thank you for writing about the existing and the looming video visitation services for families of the incarcerated in our state's jails and prisons. I have feared this technology and its potential for harm ever since the Supreme Court ruled that prisoners have no rights to visits, not even by their children (Bazetta v. Overton case). Certainly, in-person visits can be costly, providing security for the visits, but once more, the costs are greatly offset by the value of an in-person visit with the children and most visits serve as motivations for the incarcerated parent to abide by the rules and maintain positive behavior. I have talked with wardens in 42 prisons and jails in 14 states that have created more child-friendly visits. They often report that the culture of their facilities is enhanced with more cooperation and positive reactions.

Again, the importance of the parent-child visits allows the maintenance of the relationship of the parent and child, as most parents will be home during their child's minor years. A video visit for 30 minutes in a fee-for-service session does very little to improve the relationship. There are cases when video visits are valuable: I am sure the families of our deployed soldiers, as well as prisoners and their families, who are separated by hundreds of miles, are grateful for video visits. But that is not the case in Arkansas.

I was hopeful that our state prison board and directors would not pursue video visiting, as the funds could be better used for our families by providing funding to help with travel and overnight stays rather than resorting to this sort of poor contact. The Arkansas Department of Correction has a history of intermittent efforts to become child-friendlier, but the agency and the board have recently been more neglectful of the consideration of the children's needs. There is not a uniform policy to support parent-child contact. Indeed, there are many ill-informed judges, caseworkers, therapists and caregivers who oppose children visiting with their incarcerated parents. Their positions violate research and the direct experiences of the children who want to visit. Indeed, it would have been helpful if the board had talked with family members about the implementation of video visits in our prisons, to insure their perspective was considered.

In our recent survey of families of the incarcerated whom we serve now or have served in the past more than 90 percent of 232 caregivers and youth found video visiting as unsatisfactory compared to a direct visit, either through the window with a phone or a direct contact visit. Many also felt fearful that such video visits would replace a contact visit, something implied in ADC spokesperson Cathy Frye's comments to the Times.

We will all benefit from sustaining these families, not destroying them.

Dee Ann Newell

Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind

From the web

In response to last week's cover story, "A killing in Pocahontas":

Wow! Great story.

The national media offered this tale as an emblem of Southern Grotesque? That might be an understatement. Even the names are perfect: Bob Sam Castleman. His girlfriend, Becky Spray. B.S.'s son had a girlfriend named "Fanci."

My grandfather, who often mixed his metaphors, had a saying for a sad and sordid account such as this. He always said that a snake in a box is worth two in the grass.

Again, good job.

Where does the Times get all these talented writers?

Olphart

The irony of this story is that the son, who the father was trying to protect, eventually "turned" on his father in an effort to get a lighter sentence. I've always heard there is no honor among thieves and drug dealers, and this story proves it!

RYD

I grew up in Dalton, just outside of Pocahontas. When I was still young, my family moved to Paragould, two weeks after my best friend, at the time, Felicia Elliot's family had been murdered and she had gone missing. I still visited there a few times a year until I moved to Idaho. I was too young to know about the Perkins case, but I do remember the building he lived in. But I can say with absolute certainty that Pocahontas is a cancer on society as a whole. Very few decent people still live there. It has become a melting pot for drug dealers, drug abusers, thieves, murderers, and the like.

Cody James Bradford

In response to "New anti-choice laws in Arkansas pose danger to women":

The ACLU of Arkansas kept a very low profile this session for one reason: to help those who wanted to do the right thing do it.

So, while we were hardly visible on many bills, we quietly but assiduously fought these measures that endanger women's health and interfere in their most private, personal decisions. Our efforts, and those of intelligent, reasonable and compassionate legislators on both sides of the aisle who are sick to death of these political score-keeping measures, whose sole purpose is to be used as ammunition in political races, were stymied by the overwhelming ability of certain groups to threaten withdrawal of support from and/or antagonism to the reelection campaigns of those who ended up feeling they "had" to vote for the bills — and you see the result. The left, middle and right were overwhelmed by the extremists.

Somebody has to stand up against this truly loud and vindictive minority. We're not stupid. We know this is not about protecting women.

When those who would do the right thing by women and their families are given the same support, we'll see a different outcome. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood and others will do our part to fight these oppressive measures; but the silent majority is going to have to rev up its game and get a lot louder and a lot more involved — around the state more than in good old progressive Little Rock — to put the oppressive, backward-leaning minority back it where it belongs.

C'mon Arkansas! Stand up and fight for your state!

Rita Sklar

In response to Gene Lyons' April 16 column, "The Obama Doctrine":

Fact of the matter is that Obama is worse than Chamberlain, because Iran is weak, the sanctions are hurting, yet Obama wants to removed sanctions before any proof of Iranian complaisance. This is foolish since Iran has not hesitated to break every single nuclear inspection treaty it was obligated to follow.

Every single one. Not once or twice, but every single time. Let that sink in for a bit. Since Obama has decided, unilaterally, to make buddy buddy with the Castro regime, FARC, which is an armed branch of Castro's terrorist structure, attacked military bases less than a day after Obama's announcement. Iran has supported other terrorist activities, such as Yemen. More egg on Obama's face.

Nobody worries about a nuclear Israel because the Israeli nuclear program is entirely for defensive purposes, where as the only reason Iran wants nuclear weapons is to exterminate Israel. Yet Obama touts his plans as if Iran is playing straight. Iran does not care if it gets nuked by Israel in retaliation. Even the Saudis are shopping around with Pakistan because they sure don't want Iran to be a nuclear power, and their only viable alternative to trusting Obama is to create a nuclear stockpile of their own.

Obama talks a good game, but his actions are anything but strong.

Steven E

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Mindless cattle

Why only two choices at the polls in this country? I'll tell you why. Because the real power structures within the Republicans and Democrats are engaged in an operation designed to keep us mindless cattle at each other's throats while they rob us blind.

Mindless cattle

Why only two choices at the polls in this country? I'll tell you why. Because the real power structures within the Republicans and Democrats are engaged in an operation designed to keep us mindless cattle at each other's throats while they rob us blind. They have a vested interest in keeping us locked in a battle of words over moral issues while ignoring the economy. While we argue over same-sex marriage and abortion, the gap between production and income grows wider everyday. As CEOs and shareholders gain more power and wealth, the rest of us obsess over whether or not we should kill prisoners. It's time to wake up, folks. Capitalism is destroying us. It's time to remind our leaders/overlords they can be replaced.

Richard Hutson

Rose Bud

Another monument

Now that we're going to be blessed with a monument on the Capitol grounds celebrating words from the old Jewish part of the Bible, I believe that it's only fair that we also have a monument celebrating something from the New Testament, the Christian part of the same book.

I suggest that the other monument celebrate the Sermon on the Mount, especially the Beatitudes, the very words spoken by Jesus himself.

No one but a real Jesus hater would oppose that second monument.

Brent Cater

Clarksville

From the web:

On last week's cover story by Leslie Newell Peacock, "Why and how you got screwed by the 90th General Assembly":

Thanks. Great concise reminder of all the harms that the greedy self-aggrandizing public "servants" brought us this session.

Ark7788

Don't forget the quiet passing of an act that totally restructures state government, creating 10 executive level top pay cabinet members. I am amazed this hasn't received more publicity. It in essence builds a much bigger government.

Clem Hooten

Worst Arkansas Legislative Session EVER!

However, stayed tuned, because I suspect this is only the beginning since we passed a Constitutional Amendment that not only increased the salaries but also extended the terms of these hateful, self-centered and small minded "public servants."

In just a little over 3 months, the Teapublibans managed to reverse the last 50 years here in Darkansas.

RYD

Is there a short catchphrase or hashtag to rally against this wave? I am looking for something short to scribble on a T-shirt. "Equality Arkansas" or #EqualityArkansas seems to have a nice touch, but I want something that is more inclusive of the poor who got shafted this session.

jj

On last week's story by Benjamin Hardy, "What HB 1228 was really about":

Asa never planned to issue an executive order. He just didn't want to look as bad as the Indiana governor. Now that the mics and lights are off, Asa is Asa.

r5ander

On Max Brantley's column, "How bad was the 90th Arkansas General Assembly?"

You've been unhappy about how things are done here for years. Maybe it's time to move to the coast.

Doug Shinn

President Obama refuses to lower taxes to create jobs and growth, so the responsibility falls to the states. But seriously, anyone who has witnessed the failure of the stimulus package, that was only capable of generating two years growth and still argues for the Keynesian economic recovery model, is lacking in economic analysis skills.

Simply put: An across-the-board tax cut at the federal level would place a massive infusion of cash into the economy through the hands of businesses that can create jobs and into the hands of consumers who can purchase goods and services. A huge psychological effect occurs in the minds of job creators that doesn't occur following a government stimulus. In the absence of a federal income tax cut, then state income tax reductions can be effective, i.e. Texas and Florida that don't have any income taxes and whose economies are very strong.

In every instance in which the policy was implemented the economy rocketed out of recession with a 7 percent or greater post-recession growth rate, generating a self-sustaining recovery for 5 to 7 years. Obama's government stimulus was only capable of generating a 5 percent post-recession quarter growth rate and a two-year recovery. By 2010 the Federal Reserve had to intervene to keep the economy afloat by holding interest rates at zero and expanding the money supply to purchase T-bills private investors didn't want.

In a recovery, both short-term and long-term unemployment decline in tandem. That didn't happen following the stimulus package. Long-term unemployment remains elevated at over 11 percent. You can label an across-the-board tax cut as only for the rich, but it happens to be the only way to create enough jobs and economic growth for any socioeconomic class to feel economically secure and that they are providing for their families, and to propel the economy for an extended recovery.

As for an state Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers: Why don't the Democrats try targeting it toward Medical Savings Accounts or other benefit rather than as a cash payout that can be spent in foolish ways. Obamacare was so poorly conceived with unsustainable cost increases that it can't last much longer and these workers could benefit greatly from a modest and affordable market-oriented insurance plan.

Thomas Pope

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An Observer worth framing

The Observer really got his (her) dander up in the April 2 edition and told it like it is! Hallelujah and Amen! I'm framing this column!

An Observer worth framing

The Observer really got his (her) dander up in the April 2 edition and told it like it is! Hallelujah and Amen! I'm framing this column!

Lucy Rhodes

Little Rock

Deciding whom to serve

Should business people and churches vet everyone they serve? What about murderers, sex offenders, Senate adulterers, child rapists and child rehomers? If a black, disabled, gay person wanted to order a wedding cake, which exclusion would the business use? Better be careful — one of these minorities is open to all and you just might join the hated and discriminated-against minority if you live long enough. I've seen it.

Who are they going to hate and exclude next? It could be you!

(Written in honor of a friend who is gay and our son, who is "disabled.")

Susan Nygaard Keith

Magnolia

From the web

About the 90th General Assembly's access to low-cost, state-subsidized apartments:

A couple more legislative sessions like this last one and they'll all have luxury suites for free at the Capital Hotel. ... hot and cold running hookers, too, child exorcisms paid by the state, pictures of Jesus on state bonds, expense accounts of $1 million! And undisclosed locations where the LGBTs can be roasted like June bugs in a camp fire! 

The Red Team has been waiting almost 145 years to get back into power and line their nests like no tomorrow! They have to blow it out enough to last another 145 years, the next time Arkansas voters are stupid enough to vote them in again.

It's "Supermarket Sweep!" It's "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire!" It's the Powerball Lottery that only hits Republicans every 150 years or so! Grab with both hands and teach yer ass to clinch harder! Oink oink oink oink!

Death by inches

On an Arkansas Blog post about Gov. Asa Hutchinson's backing off an executive order to protect LGBT Arkansans:

I predict within the next one to six years, hundreds and hundreds (maybe thousands) of talented queer people of ALL ages, rich and poor, will leave the state. And with them will go their talented friends. Talented in business, art, music, whatever. The Arkansas "brain drain" has been and will be greatly accelerated.

Some in the gay community have been encouraging other gay people to "stay and fight." But that old argument isn't working much anymore. If we stay and fight, what do we win? I mean, just look around: boarded up buildings, miles and miles of poor farm ground, acres of leaky house trailers, the reputation of worst state in the Union, the uneducated who like it that way, Ballinger-Hutchinson-Huckabee-Hester, and a Walmart life making minimum wage or just above it.

Nope. Not this time. Way too many gay people and gay friendlies are making plans. Resumes have been flying from Arkansas like leaves from autumn trees. "Let 'em have it!" has become the new "California or Bust." There ARE greener fields for the open-minded where there's no fight involved. Just step in and get your share. The rest here are too dumb to know they're suffering.

"Let 'em have it!"

Spunkrat

Hustle up here from Austin, Seth, and talk your daddy into doing right.

Durango

Coward.

Yellowdogdaughter

In response to an item on the Arkansas Blog noting that a Methodist church was excluded from Eureka's Easter Parade because it wanted to carry a sign saying "Jesus Loves All":

The stain of discrimination is slowly destroying the church's influence in this country. They wave a piece of shit and tell us it's a bar of gold.

Am sure that there's a missing section in the Bible where Jesus has to deal with such self-righteous haters. It, too, would have a very short verse commenting on Jesus' reaction to this desecration of his message: "Jesus puked."

Jake da Snake

Well, with the passage of time (approx. 25 minutes) I think I understand the parade official's logic. I mean why would anyone want to allow the United Methodist Church to participate in a parade about Jesus?

The only thing that allows me to state this is "Think and let think." — John Wesley, 1703-1791.

Maxifer

Besides allowing gay people to escape shunning and stoning, Methodists also ordain women, baptize babies and support universal health care. Who needs more proof they are demonic?

Paying Top Dollar for Legislators

In response to reporting on the Arkansas Blog that Josh Duggar, of the multitudinous Dugger clan, and his wife have more than $13,000 in state tax liens dating back to 2009:

When you're in the throes of busily filling your quiver you're liable to like totally forget you're screwing Uncle Sam, too. Not in a gay way, 'cause you're also like totally fighting THOSE people day and night in between quivering. But I like totally don't understand lying about settling your debts because that's un-Christian and stuff. Sounds like a he-said she-just-lay-there type situation or something, bless his heart.

Norma Bates

In response to an Arkansas Blog post on state Treasurer Dennis Milligan's issuing coins and key chains with his likeness on them:

If Milligan wants to give trinkets away, I have no problem with him using his own money, but if this is our tax money being used to buy cheap Chinese junk with his likeness on them, the order needs to be FOIed to see if we are getting near felony levels for misuse of state monies. Where are the Tea Party people on this misuse of taxpayer money, or is it OK because he is one?

couldn't be better

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Tom Cotton and American fascism

Tragically, many Americans unknowingly support fascism. Many prominent leaders are de facto fascists and their followers are clueless.

Tom Cotton and American fascism

Tragically, many Americans unknowingly support fascism. Many prominent leaders are de facto fascists and their followers are clueless. History teachers generally fail us. Responsible teachers would require that every student read FDR's Vice President Henry Wallace's 1944 New York Times article titled, "The Danger of American Fascism." Among other important characteristics, Wallace explains American fascism here:

"The American fascist would prefer ... to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power. ... If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States."

FDR also said "... the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power."  According to these definitions, it is very safe to say American fascism has grown immensely, both in leadership and unwitting followers.

Most directly, politicians and the Supreme Court are attacking democracy, unleashing floods of corrupting money in elections, and supporting policies that advance and protect concentrations of wealth and power. Simply put, this is building fascism. They also twist truth constantly to manipulate gullible minds.  Propaganda and financial election controls are the keys to their car. Fox News, right-wing radio and right-wing religion are the primary engine, but all mainstream media is partially responsible, too.

The Koch brothers are exemplary fascist shadow rulers who would destroy everything we hold dear in the name of false "liberty." Tom Cotton, the darling of the Kochs, Wall Street and the Israel Lobby, is the poster boy of American fascism. If the Kochs were 11-year old girls, Tom would be their Justin Bieber. Virtually all the policies this ilk supports are in the interest of the richest few.

Writing for the Harvard Crimson, younger Tom wrote, "The only real way to solve our current problems is to deregulate campaign financing ... (and) sharply increase contribution limits or eliminate them altogether ... ." This is in complete harmony with David Koch's 1980 Libertarian campaign platform for vice president. In addition to abolishing Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, minimum wage and everything else that helps the elderly, sick and poor, Koch stated, "We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws."

The Kochs and lapdog Tom got their wish with the Supreme Court's decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon. These decisions build on jurisprudence that is sulfuric acid to self-government.  In addition to cases giving corporations constitutional rights under corporate personhood dating back to Santa Clara in 1886, the landmark 1976 Buckley decision held that money is speech.

Now, taken altogether, the Supreme Court is saying corporations and the ultra-rich have free speech protections to spend unlimited amounts of money to buy candidates, elections and ultimately the laws. It is legalized bribery and corruption. Unfortunately, the poor mice cannot $peak beyond a squeak, while the wealthy banshees scream at a million decibels on every TV channel.

Now, avalanches of money are suffocating our elections to the point that a 2014 Princeton study concluded America is no longer a democracy.  After examining data from 1,800 policy initiatives between 1981 and 2002, researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page found that the richest few control the country in an oligarchy.

Gilens and Page write: "The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence."

There is one last vestige of democracy holding back complete oligarchy: what remains of the Bill of Rights, after being undermined by Dubya and Obama's terror war. Our votes for puppets may not matter as much as money, but we still have First Amendment protections of actual speech, press, religion and assembly.

Let us remember the words of Woody Guthrie, "... You fascists may be surprised, people in this world are getting organized ... . All you fascists bound to lose."

Abel Tomlinson

Fayetteville

Open letter to the governor

House Bill 1228 and the others like it that have come out of this legislative session are hate-filled and venomous attacks on a portion of citizens of the State of Arkansas. How in good conscience can you say to LGBT constituents that they don't matter? I understand the idle nature of this and other laws. Gov. Hutchinson, you and I both know they will never be upheld by the Supreme Court.  But you and your colleagues in the legislature can look like you're tough on the issue. You and I are both intelligent enough, and politically savvy enough, to realize that this is a hollow gesture.  But governor, to the young person struggling daily to accept his or her sexuality,  these don't seem like empty words. A 16-year-old that is coming of age and not understanding the hormonal signals that are going on in his or her body hears your words loud and clear. You sir, an authority in our state, someone that people look up to and aspire to be like, have said to this young person that he or she is inherently flawed. It's because of actions like these, that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans are almost twice as likely as their straight counterparts to commit suicide. Make no mistake governor, if you sign this bill, or refuse to act, then you will have very real blood on your hands.  That's not something I could live with. I am of the opinion that all citizens in this great state deserve the same shot in life.

Michael Nickerson

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A Harvard man

Like Tom Cotton, I have served in a war. I have four medals, none terribly important, to show for it. Perhaps he has more.

A Harvard man

Like Tom Cotton, I have served in a war. I have four medals, none terribly important, to show for it. Perhaps he has more.

Like Tom Cotton, I have the distinction of having a degree from Harvard (HBS '58). Unlike him I cannot claim to be "a Harvard Man." That distinction goes only to graduates of the college.

I do have a good friend, however, a fellow naval officer, an important Republican (or at least he has been), who is "a Harvard Man." I hope he will not chastise me for sharing a recent email:

"Would it surprise you when I say that your new senator is a despicable piece of shit? It's too bad that Harvard doesn't revoke degrees. When I was an undergraduate, there was a common belief that not only can you be expelled but, in really bad cases, you could be expunged. All record of your existence at the college would be erased. Of course, that would not be possible now, if it ever was."

To expunge our junior senator would only bolster his bona fides for the Arkansas voters who voted against their self-interest to elect him. But it would make some of us in the Harvard community feel good.

"Support our troops?" Yes. Support someone who quite obviously joined the Army in order to add to his resume when running for election? No.

Since 1636, graduates of Harvard have aimed to advance the cause of freedom and republicanism (small "r") in America, some liberal, some conservative. Preserve us from one who may destroy the Republic. Arkansas deserves better.

Edward Wooten

Little Rock

An open letter to Tom Cotton

Congratulations on your election to the Senate of the United States of America. You may run for president someday, but I want to point out to you that you are not currently the president.

When you were elected I had no doubt you would embarrass the state of Arkansas, but I had no idea it would be this soon or that your actions would be so injurious to the security, power and prestige of the United States of America. Your unprecedented correspondence with the leaders of the nation of Iran is the most astonishing thing I have seen a member of Congress do. I am 65 years old and have seen a lot.

Not only are you wrong about your interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, you seem to be ignorant that what you did was illegal. By now I am sure you have had to read up on the particulars of the Logan Act, which criminalizes the actions of persons who attempt in any way to negotiate or effect the negotiations of the duly authorized president with other nations. In another copy of this letter, I am urging Attorney General Holder and his successor to fully investigate whether you and the 46 other Republican senators can be charged with the crime.

Your action in this matter is beyond arrogant. It is reckless, it undermines this and every future president by showing that this nation is no longer unified when it comes to negotiating agreements and treaties. It should not have required knowledge of the Logan Act for you to know that what you did was inherently wrong and un-American.

I have no hope or expectation that you will retract your actions. I do hope that the other members of Congress come to appreciate your reckless ambition and see it for what it is, so that you are never able to undermine this nation again for the remainder of what I hope is your final term in office. I also hope the Department of Justice will do its job.

Keith Jones

Little Rock

Truth and abuse

I would like to make a few comments regarding Arkansas Times' coverage of the Justin Harris adoption story. This kind of story is heartbreaking, complicated and (aside from being high profile) not uncommon. I've worked more than 30 years as a therapist with abused children and see several cases each year where many months may go by before those involved begin to get a clear understanding of "what really happened." Sometimes things never become clear — typically as a result of little reliable information, too many conflicting stories and too much ambiguity. These cases always bring up strong unpleasant emotions and immediate urges to ease the resulting discomfort by quickly finding out what is "true" and "doing something." Simplifying things and quickly throwing in our lot on one side or the other brings some comfort. When we feel we have the truth we can confidently blast away at those on the other side who got it all wrong. Three or 12 months later more "facts" come out and, oops, it turns out we had it all wrong. I've been through this process dozens of times with my clinical cases and find myself going through it again as I follow coverage of this Harris adoption story.

What I find very pleasing, however, is the quality of journalism in the Arkansas Times. It is wonderful! This depth of coverage with an impartial tone is welcome and rare. The fourth estate at its best. Kudos to Benjamin Hardy! It is this kind of reporting that can, and I hope will, bring about real change that results in better care for the kids in our state's child protection system. There is a need for levelheaded policy discussions about the issues raised in these articles and some meaningful change, not just rolling of heads and passing of more knee-jerk laws.

Jim Harper

Little Rock

Conservatism throughout history

The conservative mentality has a long history of being wrong and having to change its position, at least outwardly, in the face of scientific and social change. Consider the fact that Earth was once believed to be flat. Conservative church leaders went so far as to force Galileo to recant his findings on the issue or face trial for "heresy." A conservative church also thought once that mental illness was the work of the devil and disease epidemics were God's way of punishing wicked people for their sins. There was once a time when conservatives used the Bible to justify slavery, as well as the oppression of women. In all these instances conservatives have had to admit being wrong and change their stances. One might think a history of getting it wrong would make conservatives more cautious about continuing to apply the same mentality in more recent times, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Today's conservatives, primarily mainstream Republicans and Tea Party types, are still using the same worn-out arguments to justify their positions on issues like same-sex marriage, abortion, the death penalty, poverty and the "War on Drugs." If conservatives have been wrong so often in the past, why still hold on to this archaic approach? Is it possible that today's conservatives may have to change their stances on these hot-button issues? With most of the world, including a majority of Americans whether conservatives will admit it or not, becoming more progressive, they must change with the times. If not they will risk becoming a despised minority within their own country, and the GOP will be added to the list of failed political parties such as Whigs and Federalists.

Richard Hutson

Rose Bud

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Brewing for this fight

Historically, Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen has brewed for every First Amendment fight he can generate. His proclivity for social and political commentary as a judge has always been his platform. Perhaps he does not believe any other platform would be available to him with as much credibility and notoriety. In any event, the current controversy is made to order for him.

Brewing for this fight

Historically, Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen has brewed for every First Amendment fight he can generate. His proclivity for social and political commentary as a judge has always been his platform. Perhaps he does not believe any other platform would be available to him with as much credibility and notoriety. In any event, the current controversy is made to order for him.

Having read his order, it seems to me he has missed the point and misstated the ethical standards he is bound to observe. He thinks Justice Antonin Scalia has paved his way to say whatever he wants and never disqualify unless the case is already filed in his court and he has announced a decision before the case is even tried.

His public letter published on Jan. 28 was his First Amendment right, however unseemly it may be for a judge to utter. However, it is laughable for him to conclude that it was not foreseeable that a lawsuit would be filed in Pulaski County if state takeover occurred. Equally laughable is his conclusion that he did not prejudge the legality (no credible evidence, etc.) or propriety of such a takeover in his Jan. 28 statement.

I don't question his conclusion that both the school district's poor history and the present takeover is tainted with abject racism. The presence or absence of racism is not the issue. The real issue is whether his statements have conveyed the appearance that he cannot be impartial in weighing the evidence and following the law. His Jan. 28 statement must be evaluated as a body of work to determine its impact on appearances. For him to split hairs and say his statement does not expressly commit him to a legal result is sophistry.

Scalia only said that a state cannot prohibit an elected judge from publicly commenting on social and political issues (not just one case)during the course of a political campaign. That decision also indicated that the cure for any appearance of impartiality for those statements is for the judge to disqualify, even if not because of an actual expressed bias. Appearances do matter.

In my opinion Griffen wants this fight. He has waited a long time for a fight like this, and it will accomplish nothing. Any other judge would have immediately disqualified from the case assignment under the present circumstances and not waited for a party to ask for it. And rightfully so. Such is the fallout from a judge commenting on the social and political events of the day.

David Stewart

Fayetteville

Fight for public school

I have taught in the public schools for 13 years. I am the son and grandson of public school teachers. My love and affection for a free and fair public education system runs deep. At this moment in time I fear public education is at a dangerous crossroads. The same corruption that has befallen our political system and our economic system is now threatening to infect our schools. I understand why moderates turn from politics and focus on their own lives. Politics is an unseemly business where integrity goes to die and self-interest and greed thrive. I understand how moderates can feel a sense of disenfranchisement from our elected officials. However, moderates, as I write this, there has been a systematic attack on our public education system.

Our country was founded on the idea of advanced citizenship. Advanced citizenship only works when "we the people" can benefit from a robust and strong public education system. Schools are held in public trust and should remain in the public trust. Once the public becomes divested of public education we truly will be a nation of individuals. We will lose the most fundamental of American principles, that out of one comes many.

To protect a core American value, free and public education, we must realize that no right has been won, no victory celebrated without the unified voices of American citizens challenging the status quo. Today, that status quo is represented by state legislators who have been bought and paid for by lobbyists from Washington, D.C. We must reclaim our constitutional authority over our elected officials and hold them accountable to the great American idea of public education. It was American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr who reminded us that man is moral, while groups are immoral. The protection against immoral groups is a free and public education. We must demand our elected officials protect our public education from the self-interest and greed of the private sector. Our educational system should not be a financial bottom-line industry. Public education should be held in the public trust, and ensure our children have every opportunity to achieve their American dream.

Public education is sick. However, turning over our children to for-profit industry is not the cure. The cure can be found in our capacity to love. We must remember what is great about America, and what makes us the United States of America. Our communal spirit, the spirit that reaches out to the weary and beaten traveler and welcomes them back into community. That is the spirit that we must embrace. Education is our secret weapon. It can cure society's ills, mend its broken relationships, but only if all members of society engage in the process. Public education is public because we all benefit from it or we can all suffer if we turn it into a for-profit bottom-line industry.

I want to call on all my brothers and sisters who feel disconnected, ignored or disenfranchised by the political system to not sell yourself short, to speak up and defend the great public trust we have been given, the education of our children.

Adam Kirby Little Rock

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