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In reading a recent edition of the Arkansas Times I was very offended by the remarks in Bob Lancaster's column ("Fastidious," Aug. 29).  Reading offensive comments like that will lead to me not ever reading the Arkansas Times again.  Shame on whoever published this garbage article. 

Maceo Thomas

Little Rock

Newspaper design changes needed

Some days you have to wonder who is designing and selecting news for the D-G, the statewide newspaper.  

Arkansans buy newspapers for the local and state coverage, with interest also on what's going on in the states that border us. Do they think residents of Texarkana, West Memphis, Northwest Arkansas and Jonesboro are locked up behind fences to keep them from crossing the border?  

Who really cares about an ongoing civil war in Syria? Just because the Associated Press lists it as the first item on the news budget doesn't make it right for an Arkansas front page. But for awhile, that's all the D-G seemed to care about, with Syria getting lead play almost every day. And it was the same thing, day after day.

They do get points for always having a separate state section and they normally do a pretty good job when something major like Hurricane Isaac comes up.

The D-G's editors need to look at the front page of San Antonio Express-News and their own front pages during the "war" against the Arkansas Gazette. Local exclusives and sidebars are better than the same old war or national BS political lies by the candidates and their campaigns.

As a former copy editor at the old Democrat and on four Texas newspapers, I know they can make money with balanced ad-content and still provide a balanced news product.  They just need to limit photo sizes, limit how long the national and international stories are to increase the story count, and use special graphics to advertise special columns, stories and photos that are posted on their website behind a firewall that requires readers to have a paid print subscription or paid web subscription. Anyone really interested in national and international news can find it online. But you can't get much local news online.

Unfortunately, D-G's management seems to be cutting their manpower instead of making improvements that get readers and advertisers back.

You almost feel sorry for their career newsroom employees. The rich owner continues to lay off more people when the advertisers cut back and increase their ads in The Leader and elsewhere. In short, it's kind of sad.  

Keith Weber


A stark contrast

I have just finished watching coverage of both the Republican and Democratic conventions. I dare say that never during my almost 70 years has there been such a stark contrast between the perspective and vision of the two parties. Are we in this mess we've been going through for just over four years now together, or are we to go it alone and hope and pray for the best? No doubt, unemployment is still too high, but it is slowly but surely going in the right direction, dropping from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent in August. Approximately 3.5 million private sector jobs have been created during the past four years, with government employment at all levels significantly down — just what the Republicans should be cheering, as they feel government is the problem. And, speaking of the right direction, as of close of business on Sept. 9, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at its highest since Dec. 2007, up 67 percent since the president took office in January 2009; the S&P 500 Index closed at its highest since 2008, up 78 percent since January 2009; and the NASDAQ is at its highest level in 12 years, closing up 118 percent since the president took office. We've had approximately 30 straight months of positive job creation. Inflation is at or near its lowest level in history. Banks are lending at least at a better pace and at historically low rates. Our importation of foreign oil is significantly reduced. Our domestic oil production is up enormously. We are finally making measurable inroads into alternative energy production. Taxes have been reduced on middle incomes and small businesses. Reasonable restraints have been put in place to restrain Wall Street and, hopefully, avoid another meltdown like we experienced in 2007 and 2008. Relations with other countries throughout the world are vastly improved. Home values continue to rise, though certainly not as quickly as we would like. Though undoubtedly imperfect, we have finally after decades of attempts been able to begin to reform health care. We are out of Iraq, where we should have never been in the first place, and we are on our way out of Afghanistan after killing bin Laden and at least giving the country the opportunity to reject the Taliban. And this is just a partial list of the progress made during the past almost four years. How can anyone even suggest that the president has made things worse since January 2009 when he took office?

Obviously, not every individual is better off than he/she was four years ago, but that is always, though unfortunately, going to be the case on a micro level. On a macro basis however, we as a country are clearly much better positioned in virtually any category one can cite. If one has the good fortune to be employed and, in addition, is invested in the market, how could there be any choice as to how to vote in November, unless, of course you consciously decided to vote against your self interest? And all of this has somehow come to pass in the face of intractable obstructionism on the part of the Republicans, since Mitch McConnell announced just after the last election that the Republicans' primary goal was to insure that Barack Obama was a one-term president. Excluding the knuckle-draggers (the House Speaker's term, not mine), and the bloviating ignoramuses (George Will's term, not mine) out there, I simply cannot fathom how one can vote for the arguably reactionary Romney-Ryan ticket. Think, people!

John Mitchell

Little Rock

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