Archive for Letters

Not leading

Supporters of justice were very pleased the Supreme Court helped advance equality and gay rights. However, some celebrants are applauding in the wrong directions. Many on Facebook, and surely elsewhere, are promoting Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who are not Supreme Court justices, as leaders who made this happen.

Not leading

Supporters of justice were very pleased the Supreme Court helped advance equality and gay rights. However, some celebrants are applauding in the wrong directions. Many on Facebook, and surely elsewhere, are promoting Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who are not Supreme Court justices, as leaders who made this happen.

Please research that Obama and Clinton opposed gay marriage until very recently. They opposed gay marriage when polls showed only a minority supported it, and supported it, only after heroic activists helped advance this issue and polls began showing majority support. Google the Gallup polling trends, and discover Hillary and Obama's "evolving" support directly correlates with public opinion.

An ABC News timeline of Obama's "evolution" on gay marriage shows his poll-chasing clearly. In 2004, Obama said "marriage is between a man and a woman." In 2010, Obama said, "I have been ... unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage." In 2011, Obama's communications director said, "The president has never favored same-sex marriage. He is against it."

According to a Washington Post timeline of Hillary's "evolution," she, too, flip-flopped like Obama. In January 2000, Hillary said, "Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman." In 2002, Hillary was asked by "Hardball" host Chris Matthews if she thought New York should recognize gay marriage. Hillary unequivocally responded with a resounding, "No!"

So exactly when did Hillary and Obama "evolve"? Another Washington Post article reports, "Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage in 2012, and Clinton in 2013..." There you have it. These professional politicians did not lead this effort, but merely responded to public opinion.

Newsflash: This is not leadership!

The real leaders were the thousands of gay rights activists that helped legalize gay marriage in many states, which also raised awareness.

We all need to applaud gay marriage or any other beautiful success, but clapping intelligently will accelerate our progress much more effectively. Leadership identification is equally important.

Please see that each one of us can be important leaders with great power to ripple ideas to friends and family and outward to all.

Regardless of all this, hooray for the gays! May we all live happily ever after in loving justice and respect.

Abel Tomlinson

Fayetteville

Learning to hate

We now know that Dylann Roof, the young man who murdered nine people in Charleston, S.C., last week, left behind a manifesto. And from it, we know that the killer's Damascus-road conversion happened once he believed in the righteousness of the Passion of George Zimmerman, the Miami, Florida vigilante who gunned down a black teenager for wearing a hoodie and carrying Skittles.

But what informed his deadly opinions about the Trayvon Martin case? Where did his virulent racism, his born-again awakening about "white race" superiority come from? Was it voices inside his head? Or did he learn how to hate from others? His manifesto credits a group with the innocuous-sounding name of the Council of Conservative Citizens. With a name like that, it could almost be one of our local, holier-than-thou watchdog tea parties. Interestingly, the leader of this group, Earl P. Holt III, is a regular contributor to little Tommy Cotton and a gaggle of GOP presidential candidates now tripping over themselves to return his donations.

Where does a high school dropout like Dylann Roof go to learn how to be a bigot? Surely some intrepid journalist will soon connect the dots for us. Did he watch Fox News? Did he bathe regularly in Rush Limbaugh's flying spittle, or listen to any of the other wingnuts polluting America's airwaves? Did he follow some gilded evangelist beguiling his flock to shed their wealth and hate Muslims and embrace Christ's love of Western civilization? What books did he read and what websites did he visit? When are we going to realize that the poison these hucksters peddle has deadly consequences? How many more innocents have to die?

As is the case with most shooters who are a whiter shade of pale, there is a rush to blame whatever lurked within Dylann Roof on mental illness. But whatever sparked his evil rampage, whether it spontaneously erupted from within a rotten soul or was cultivated by others on the callous, careless fringes of our impolite society, would Dylann Roof be as infamous today without his God-blessed Second Amendment right? That's a rhetorical question, by the way. Arthur Chu, in a recent Salon article, stated the obvious. A "sane" person holding a gun is intrinsically more dangerous than a "crazy" person, no matter how crazy, without a gun. That, ironically, is bulletproof logic.

John Ragland

Hot Springs

Guns like autos

A recent New York Times op-ed, "You're Better Than This, Europe," led me to thinking about one of the biggest and easiest ways to fix problems in the U.S.: deaths by guns. All it takes is will, legislation and overcoming the greed of the gun industry. We should treat guns like autos.

Licensing guns and gun owners like autos and auto drivers would take a giant step, particularly with a requirement for liability insurance for guns and gun ownership. Is it irony or lunacy that we are far more restrictive and sane about autos than guns? Imagine if gun owners had to register their guns and themselves every year or three. I see the day when liability insurance companies would restrict ownership of weapons, so that far fewer crazies take out nine worshipers or 20 kids at school, and far fewer kids are killed in homes.

Robert Johnston

Little Rock

From the web

In response to an Arkansas Blog item wondering if the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's society page will now feature profiles of same-sex marriages:

They did publish extensive listings of all the couples who applied for marriage licenses in Pulaski County last year after Piazza's ruling. To get on the one or two pages in the High Profile section on Sundays requires that you are somebody, know somebody, or have a lot of money (based on what I've heard and seen — not a confirmed fact). So depending on the number of weddings they may have a full-or-half page spread with multiple photos of the bride and groom, their families and the wedding party, or maybe just four to a page with big photos of the bride with more specific information about the wedding and reception than you find in the tiny notices buried elsewhere in that same section.

Maybe we should take bets on when we think they'll feature a gay wedding anywhere in the High Profile section.

NeverVoteRepublican

Whether the DoG decides to publish gay wedding announcements, I am sure, will depend on how much influence and money the people getting married have. Society pages have always been for the wealthy and influential, and about the only people who read them are wealthy and influential, or people who wanna be wealthy and influential.

plainjim

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Free James Weaver

The Arkansas Times cover story on June 18 regarding the plight of James Weaver, an inmate in the Tucker Maximum Security Correctional Facility who was sentenced in 1990 to life without parole, was timely and informative.

Free James Weaver

The Arkansas Times cover story on June 18 regarding the plight of James Weaver, an inmate in the Tucker Maximum Security Correctional Facility who was sentenced in 1990 to life without parole, was timely and informative. Weaver was convicted for his forced participation in the disposal of a dead body. I will not attempt to retell the entire story in this letter since David Koon did a wonderful job writing about Weaver's situation, in which I became involved due to my position as one of seven commissioners on the Arkansas Parole Board this past year. I would encourage everyone to read Koon's article, as well as visiting the website freejamesweaver.com, and form your own opinion whether Weaver's 25 years of incarceration have been ample punishment. The website includes a four-page letter and links to all information given to the governor outlining many of the reasons why the parole board unanimously recommended that Weaver be granted clemency and released from prison.

James Weaver filed an application for clemency, which was received by Gov. Mike Beebe on Oct. 1, 2014. Gov. Asa Hutchinson inherited the file because there is generally an eight- to nine-month backlog of clemency and pardon requests that must be taken up by the governor. By statute, the governor had until July 5 to render his decision.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Hutchinson has issued his decision. He did not deny as was done previously by Govs. Mike Huckabee and Beebe, neither of whom had all of the information that was available to Hutchinson. A denial would have meant that Weaver could not reapply for another six years. Hutchinson took "no action" on Weaver's request, which means that Weaver can reapply for commutation immediately. Weaver is in the process of that already. There is some question as to how long this new process will take, but I am of the opinion that the governor could render a decision immediately once the new application is received and reviewed by his office. Others imply that the process could take over a year. Public opinion could help speed up the process, so I ask all of you to help free James Weaver.

There is no doubt in my mind that former Pulaski Circuit Judge John Langston was wrong in not allowing a continuance in Weaver's trial that would have enabled the actual killer, who was being evaluated at the State Hospital, to be available at that trial. And, how many of you have ever heard of a murder trial being held two-and-a-half months after a murder? That just doesn't happen ... but, it did! Again, read Koon's story as well as the information sent to the governor shown on the website. You will also be able to read about a case in which a much more involved accomplice to a murder received a 20-year term but was paroled after serving only 14 years.

Arkansas's criminal justice system needs a great amount of reform. Hutchinson has formed a task force to look into this burdensome and costly system. As of May 27, there were 18,839 imprisoned individuals compared to 17,864 on Dec. 16, 2014, in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). There are also approximately 54,000 individuals in Arkansas Community Correction (ACC). That number includes individuals on parole and probation, those in drug courts and boot camp, and approximately 2,000 incarcerated individuals. That is a total of almost 73,000 who are directly overseen by ADC and ACC. This does not count the unfortunately huge number of family members, including numerous children without a parent, who are indirectly affected and suffer immensely.

Our state cannot afford to continue "as is." So many of our prisoners, and those out on parole, are repeat offenders. The majority of those committed lesser crimes (drug offenses lead the list) than those who need to be kept in prison for worse crimes such as murder, sex crimes, assault and domestic violence. What can the state do to end this vicious cycle that sometimes affects three generations of a family? For starters, provide pre-K education to properly prepare all children in this state to earn a high school diploma or vocational education as well as a college diploma. Why do we wait until they reach prison to teach them these things? And then, Arkansas must attract good jobs that pay much more than minimum wage. We must spend our tax dollars more wisely on education and job creation, which will, in turn, lower our crime rate.

In closing, I would ask all Arkansans to help "free James Weaver." His bunk at Tucker Max should be occupied by someone who scares us.

Dennis Young

Texarkana

Modern vs. historic

Little Rock's Historic District Commission is entertaining a proposal that would allow the construction of modern-looking structures in the MacArthur Park Historic District. In fact, it engaged a consultancy to consider how the standards associated with preserving the historic district might be changed to facilitate the construction of modern-looking structures. These would not be modern structures stylistically consistent with old-time structures, but simply modern structures. Modern structures that could be placed adjacent to, or surrounding, National Register properties. Modern structures that could comprise entire half-blocks of the district. Modern structures with no attempt at stylistic harmonization with historic structures.

What sense does this make? People who choose to live in an historic district do so because they enjoy the ambiance associated with such an experience. And people who visit an historic district expect to see something historic, not something modern.

Those interested in preserving the historic character of the MacArthur Park Historic District need to let the historic district commissioners know their feelings before the district is reduced to an architectural hodgepodge of historic buildings and modern suburbia.

Dale Pekar

Little Rock

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More oversight needed

On Friday, Arkansas learned our women's prison in Newport, McPherson, is the centerpiece of a federal civil rights investigation concerning sexual abuse of the women prisoners in our custody at this unit.

More oversight needed

On Friday, Arkansas learned our women's prison in Newport, McPherson, is the centerpiece of a federal civil rights investigation concerning sexual abuse of the women prisoners in our custody at this unit. The fairly vague descriptions of taking photos, trading contraband for sex by officers and staff, and other human rights violations are part of the federal agency's concern. We also learned that our state is not in compliance with the non-mandatory Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) due to another federal lawsuit outcome that would be violated if the Arkansas Department of Correction met the PREA certification requirements. This is a serious concern among many of us who serve as prisoner advocates.

I believe all Arkansans need to be concerned about these allegations. Our prisoners are also our mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and friends. It is our role as citizens to ensure those we convict and send to prison are humanely treated and return home to our community — without the added trauma of sexual abuse. I have served men and women in our prisons and those returning to our communities for more than two decades, and I became acutely aware of the great importance of the prison staff to be mindful of the powerful dynamic between people who are incarcerated and those who are there to guard them — or those with power and those without any power in those circumstances.

I was an eyewitness to the steady development of the power of a staff person who is no longer there, who was given a great degree of power over the women with whom the staff person interacted — with little visible oversight from my perspective.

For me, the lack of outside oversight of our prisons is the overarching issue in the abuse of prisoners. As an example, in our two efforts to legislate a ban on the shackling of women in our prison during labor and delivery, the legislation offered by then-Sen. Mary Ann Salmon included an oversight and accountability provision, with reports to be sent to the governor's office. The legislation offered failed to pass due to the influence of the Department of Correction officials. Consequently, there is little we can truly know about the use of shackles during labor and delivery, or even information about the well being of babies born during a mother's incarceration in a our state prisons. And this is true about so many things that go on behind the walls of the prison.

As we hear far too often, we need greater transparency and more civic engagement in the day-to-day functioning of our state agencies, including our prisons. We all need to think of the ways we can provide appropriate oversight so such abuses will end and not recur. If I were a judge, I would be reluctant to send any woman to our state prisons for fear of such mistreatment. Regarding men in our system, rape is so common among our male prisoners that our community tolerates and accepts this as an ongoing part of incarceration. How can a correctional system work effectively when so many traumas are inflicted on those we want to rehabilitate? And how can we succeed in our re-entry and recidivism reduction when so much trauma has occurred?

Dee Ann Newell

Executive Director

Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind

Little Rock

Support Bernie

We have hundreds of days left before the 2016 general election. We have hundreds of days to amass a tremendous grassroots movement against the political machines of Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, etc. We have hundreds of days to let America know that we don't want another candidate that will pay lip service to corporations and Wall Street. We have hundreds of days to fight for someone that looks out for the common man — I can almost guarantee that is you, reader. Who is this someone that will truly look out for us (and not just when it is politically expedient)? His name is Bernie Sanders, a man that has been steadfast in his views since day one. Read through the 12 initiatives that Bernie will fight for: rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure; addressing climate change; real tax reform; protecting the most vulnerable Americans; health care as a right for all; taking on Wall Street; making college affordable for all; trade policies that benefit American workers; raising the minimum wage; growing the trade union movement; creating worker co-ops. Join the fight for Bernie here in Arkansas. What do you have to lose? A primary?

Trey Weir

Little Rock

From the web, in response to The Observer's June 11 column, "A modest proposal," which, in the wake of Gov. Asa Hutchinson saying he believed it was legal for Arkansans to openly carry firearms, announced the formation of The Open Carry of Large Butcher Knives, Rusty Machetes or Razor-Sharp Hatchets Movement:

The ability to carry "arms," openly or otherwise, and everything you somewhat humorously wrote qualifies as such, is exactly the point. Your "wet my pants" feelings are of no concern to a right guaranteed.

Doug Charette

Amidst the trembling, teeth-chattering, knee-knocking, and quivering that must go on at your editorial board meetings, are you folks also channeling Kurt Vonnegut?

Michael Motley

Looks like the author forgot to take his meds today. I stand with the above. Oh, btw, nobody walks around with their pistol or rifle in their hands, not unless they intend to use the tool. Want to ban hammers next? How about vehicles? Lots of people get killed with cars and trucks every year, let's get those devilish implementations of murder off our roadways!

Chris Wardell

Each and every one of the above comments comes from an individual who signed on to the blog TODAY in order to comment specifically on this column.

Must have hit a nerve, eh? It's really kinda hilarious, in a pathetic sort of way.

Vanessa

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Sympathy for Justin Harris

Must have been a slow news week: Leave Harris alone or start your own daycare. Anyone could have made the same mistake.

Sympathy for Justin Harris

Must have been a slow news week: Leave Harris alone or start your own daycare. Anyone could have made the same mistake.

As far as us paying a few dollars more per day for a child that may come in late or is on the grounds — I could care less.

Been there with severely challenged kids.

Steve Wheeler

North Little Rock

Medicaid reform

An open letter to members of Governor Hutchinson's Health Reform Legislative Task Force:

Not all beneficiaries of the private option are deadbeats. As a longtime advocate for the elderly and people with disabilities, I spend a lot of time listening to Arkansas legislators discuss the future of Medicaid and the fate of Arkansas's uninsured population. At the beginning of the 2015 legislative session, bills were introduced to terminate the private option. My state representative suggested that current beneficiaries of that program should get a J-O-B to pay for their own health insurance. For those task force members who share his opinion that Arkansans working minimum-wage jobs can afford the average $275 per month insurance premium but prefer to game the system instead, I refer you to an editorial appearing on Ithaca.com (May 30, 2015), an online New York State newspaper.

The editorial quotes Mike Sigler, a New York State representative, saying, "I work hard for my health insurance. ... Medicaid people are getting charged all the time with fraud." The editorial poses the question "Who are 'Medicaid people'?" I think it's important for task force members to ask the same question, and take the time to research the answer.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 73 percent of nonelderly Arkansans with Medicaid are children. Despite the fact that 17 percent of families receiving Medicaid have at least one full-time worker and 41 percent have one or more part-time workers, 48 percent of nonelderly Medicaid recipients are living under 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($11,770 for an individual; $24,250 for a family of four). The minimum wage in Arkansas is $7.50 per hour, yielding a weekly salary of $300 less 6.2 percent (about $19) for Social Security taxes.

The vast majority of health care fraudsters are doctors, pharmacists, drug dealers and professional scam artists, not homeless people, single moms, the disabled or grandparents raising children of incarcerated parents. The editorial points out that, "It's not easy to qualify for Medicaid. ... Nor does Medicaid automatically renew." The annual review paperwork can be daunting for homeless, mentally ill, or low-literate people. "And the attitude ... that they must be trying to rip off the system, or that they deserve their disabilities and their poverty because of their lack of work ethic or moral fiber ... makes applying for that card an exercise in humiliation."

The editorial goes on to cite the recent Medicaid fraud case in New York City involving homeless people who were recruited at soup kitchens and shelters to unwittingly allow a ring of doctors to run up almost $7 million in phony Medicaid charges in exchange for a pair of cheap sneakers. That story was covered by news media nationwide. However, most articles left out the part that the investigation leading to the arrest of 23 people, included nine physicians, was prompted by a homeless lady who walked into the Brooklyn district attorney's office to report that she had been recruited and brought to a clinic where a podiatrist gave her sneakers and a knee brace, which she insisted she didn't need. However, accepting the knee brace was a condition of receiving the free sneakers. The editorial concludes: "In other words, an honest 'Medicaid person' just saved the state of New York over $7 million. Maybe she should run for office." While I'm not advocating that this lady run for office, I would hope that she could be provided with appropriate services and supports to get a roof over her head while she gets back on her feet. She is an example of the majority of Medicaid-eligible American citizens, who do not choose to be deadbeats.

Gloria Gordon

North Little Rock

Capitalism run amok

The problem with our economy is that capitalism in America has arrived at an ugly place. I don't think Adam Smith envisioned a corporate welfare state when he wrote about the "free market." A level playing field where a person's skills and determination can secure a slice of the American Dream is what Smith and other founders dreamed of in the early days of our nation's founding.

What we've become is a nation controlled by corporations who manipulate the legislative process to take advantage of bailouts, subsidies and tax breaks for the wealthy that are paid for by us peons. For an example, look at the current deal with Lockheed Martin. This deal will result in only a few jobs, but will increase the tax burden for poor Arkansans.

This set of circumstances isn't going to change if we continue to put the same old parties in office. We need something different in this country. Maybe a Democratic Socialist from Vermont?

Richard Hutson

Rose Bud

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Why do they think it is normal?

The more that comes out, the more dots that can be connected, the more it seems that these right-wing ultra conservative religionists are a cult of pedophiles hiding in the folds of the robes of Jesus.

From the web

In response to Benjamin Hardy's May 28 cover story about the lack of consequences for state Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork) after he moved two adopted daughters out of his house and into the home of a man who turned out to be a rapist:

And as Harris still roams around freely participating in anything he chooses, we learned yesterday that he addressed a large group of teachers gathered for an end-of-year meeting. They were told there was no possible way that any kind of cost-of-living raise was forthcoming. Harris then took the mic and quipped "guess you are really mad we voted ourselves a 117 percent pay increase." Marie Antoinette couldn't have said it better.

SHELLY SMITH

Justin (and Marsha) Harris. The Duggars. Bart Hester. Mike Huckabee. Gothard. Joseph Hutchens. Rapert.

There are just way too many "coincidental" ties that lead back to the abuse of young children, mostly girls.

This bunch believes that changing a baby's diaper naturally arouses lust in a male. Or that seeing a young girl's bare legs causes desire. There seems to be a general consensus in this fundamentalist bunch that it is entirely natural for an adult male to be attracted to young children. And that males cannot control themselves. IT IS NOT NORMAL.

Why do they think it is normal?

The more that comes out, the more dots that can be connected, the more it seems that these right-wing ultra conservative religionists are a cult of pedophiles hiding in the folds of the robes of Jesus. All the while they are out there lusting after prepubescent children (again, something they seem to think is "normal") they are screaming loudly from every rooftop that gay people are the devil and have no place in a god-fearing society. And that men should rightfully control women and their bodies.

There is a group of conservative male Christians (concentrated, it seems, in Northwest Arkansas) that believes that it is natural and normal to be sexually attracted to children and that only the fear of a god of wrath keeps them from acting on their desires. They point to gay people as a societal scourge. Over there! Look over there! They do their damnedest to prevent women from having reproductive control. Even little girls who are raped by their brother.

It is not natural for adult males to find themselves sexually attracted to children. They are trying to tell us that it is, and that only the wrath of God can prevent acting upon such desires. They claim incest is deserving of the death penalty. Until it's one of theirs. But again — they think it is normal to be attracted to underage girls. And have pretty much said so. And they believe that they can bypass secular law, answering only to a God who always tells them just exactly what they want to hear.

They need called out on it.

They need to be labeled for what they are.

VANESSA

In response to David Koon's May 21 story about transgender Navy Reservist Rae Nelson:

I would just like to take a quick moment to express how proud I am of Nelson! It truly takes courage to be yourself, and be unapologetic about it! Keep being yourself, and just live! I hope you can pursue your Naval Nurse aspirations soon!

Now normally I wouldn't address or entertain the couple of haters that you have in the [online] comments but I feel the need as a friend and fellow Shipmate to address both of them, personally. To THOMAS POPE & "UJI88888": I'm pretty sure neither of you have served in the Navy with Nelson like many others and myself have. You know nothing about her other than the fact that she was born a male. You know nothing of her character, her devotion, and her utmost willingness to serve. Both of you clowns do realize that less than 0.5 percent of the total American population currently serves in the Armed Forces, right? Think about that, so for either of you to say anything so cowardly negative in the comments only makes you look like fools. She gladly does what the other 99.5 percent of Americans can't do.

Additionally, Thomas Pope, Nelson is NOT delusional, she's found herself and is comfortable. That would not affect how she served in the military. The Navy would be lucky to have a hardworking, caring, driven nurse such as Nelson. Furthermore, "UJI88888," please don't bring religion into your own twisted bigoted views. You are not the official spokesperson for all Christians. I can guarantee not all of them feel the same way that you do. I can also guarantee that plenty of "FAGS," as you so eloquently put it, could save your ass if you were in trouble better than you could yourself. Think about that if you're ever in a fiery car crash and someone on your rescue team is wearing a rainbow LGBT bracelet.

Proud of you, Nelson! Your body may be changing, but we will always be brothers or "siblings" in arms. Excuse my rant, but I just needed to call out the back-woods bigotry and plain ignorance of a couple of people.

JACOB TATE

In response to Ernest Dumas' column in the May 28 issue about "freedom of conscience" laws:

The issue is not about weddings ... . For example, take that legendary wedding cake baker who refuses to bake a cake for a gay wedding. Would he also refuse to sell a box of cookies so that the couple can celebrate their wedding anniversary? Or what about cupcakes for the adoption of their child? What if the baker not only does not believe in same-sex marriage but opposes inter-religious marriage? Or biracial marriage? Or remarriage? By opening a business that serves the public, you voluntarily take on the obligation to serve the whole public. When you open your doors to accommodate the public, you open them to the whole public. If you don't believe that, just ask Woolworth's ca. 1960.

PRESREVROB

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TPP: Corporate takeover

I was very disappointed to see the Arkansas Times fail to step out of the acceptable liberal narrative with its neutral stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The excuse given was something like "Oh dear, it's just so complicated ..." What a cop-out!

TPP: Corporate takeover

I was very disappointed to see the Arkansas Times fail to step out of the acceptable liberal narrative with its neutral stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The excuse given was something like "Oh dear, it's just so complicated ..." What a cop-out!

The fact that the TPP is being negotiated behind closed doors by corporate lawyers, that only a few are privy to its entire contents, and that unauthorized viewing of it by anyone else can lead to jail time, should be a red flag in and of itself. So much for government transparency or an impartial public judiciary.

This much is known about the TPP from leaks: of the 30 or so chapters in the agreement, only five deal with actual "trade." The rest are devoted entirely to corporate protection.

According to a Huffington Post article by Joseph E. Stiglitz, professor at Columbia University and a Nobel Laureate in Economics:

"The real intent of these provisions is to impede health, environmental, safety, and, yes, even financial regulations meant to protect America's own economy and citizens. Companies can sue governments for full compensation for any reduction in their future 'expected' profits resulting from regulatory changes."

In other words, corporations and multinationals — which hold no loyalty to any country — can sue a nation's government for potential losses in revenue, as opposed to actual losses. Philip Morris is doing that right now to Uruguay and Australia because these countries put graphic warning labels on cigarette packages. Smoking went down, so Philip Morris is suing.

The corporations involved in the TPP are ones who are authoring it. They're writing in special dispensations for themselves, and none for ordinary citizens, unions or civil-society groups.

I'll not sit back while corporate lapdogs like John Boozman and Tom Cotton hand over the sovereignty of our nation to a three-person panel of corporate lawyers.

Do the right thing, Arkansas Times. Tell the people what's really going on. Or are you afraid to step out of the box of local news and really speak truth to power?

Brad Bailey

Fayetteville

Questions on Duggar

In cases of child molestation the statue of limitations does not expire until 3 years after the child has reached the age of 18. Why then has a judge allowed for the destruction of evidence in the Josh Duggar case? The youngest victim of his repeated molestations was only 5 at the time and therefore the statue of limitations will not have expired. I am also troubled by the fact that the police in this case were not able to interview Josh because his parents did not think it was necessary. If Josh had committed arson or robbed a convenience store at gunpoint would police have just taken the refusal of the parents as an answer or would they have hauled his butt to a station to answer some questions? Your prosecutors and police are looking really, really incompetent and I am wondering why the citizens of Arkansas are putting up with this. Are your police and prosecutors unaware of the statue of limitations and how it applies to minors? Do they just not think it's a priority? The age difference between the perpetrator and his victims, the repeated nature and the large number of victims should have made this a case to pursue. Also, the parents knew that there were repeated molestations over quite a bit of time and chose to allow their daughters to be victimized. Is this not a case of child endangerment? They have a young daughter in their home now. Will they protect her? Is anyone from the department of social services looking into this?

Caroline Carlson

Seattle, Wash.

From the web

In response to Arkansas Blog reporting on news that Josh Duggar molested five girls as a teenager, including four of his little sisters:

Oh, could old Karma be visiting the Duggar family? Josh & Family goes ape-shit over equality in Fayetteville but now tell us squeezing your little sisters' tits brings them all closer to God? And I used to buy that God stuff by the dump truck loads.

You know, back in the old days, the general population hid people like the Duggars and the Justin Harrises, kept them out of sight so they wouldn't embarrass the whole town. Now money addicts give these embarrassing idiots their own TV shows and elect them to public office, which tells the world that arKansas is no place for their Lockeed plant or a Tech Park or for any decent thinking people to live or even visit.

Deathbyinches

Huckabee defense of Duggar

This whole lifestyle [of the Duggar family] is heavily focused on procreation. They build their lives around it. Yet they expect teenagers to repress and stomp it all down. Yeah, the parents share in this, heavily. But ... Josh Duggar wasn't exploring, he wasn't "playing doctor," he wasn't playing around, he was assaulting. Period. No pass from me for that. Huckabuck Sugarbee can minimize and redirect all he wants, this isn't normal and it isn't acceptable. And shame on Huckabee for trivializing what happened to those little girls. Shame on all of them for focusing solely on poor sexually assaulting Josh Duggar's repentance into goodness and not what he did. And shame on their whole system for trying to cover it up.

dimplasm

Huckabee has always had a warm place in his heart for sex offenders. See Wayne DuMond.

Olphart

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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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