Swine is swill
Nah, ya know what's "Dismal" (re: last week's Pearls About Swine column, "Dismal")? That a geopolitical division of these United States would be so bereft of wisdom that its smartest news outlet finds it necessary to devote precious column space to commentary on the typically atrocious sports teams of a single university. No offense to Beau Wilcox; he's an unusually good writer for this topic area (even if the unparalleled successes of the track and field program are given woefully short shrift in his keystrokes). But it has always hit me like a blindside clip that the Arkansas Times can maintain such vigilant and righteous monitoring of the sadly unbalanced distribution of funds between athletics and academics at the state's flagship school while simultaneously pretending that a sizable fraction of its readership cares one flying flag about whatever embarrassing performance the Razorbacks turn out from week to week. The ethically challenged slave-labor status of collegiate athletics notwithstanding, how can you justify wasting ink on cultivation of fan-boy foppery? If you must have a "sports section," it would seem much truer to our state's unique excellence in energy exertion to focus on what is the genuine feather in our athletic cap: outdoor recreation/competition.
The Natural State boasts mountain-bike races, rock-climbing contests and trail runs that are nationally renowned. Believe it or not, the most successful athletes in these contests become local heroes whose exploits snap-crackle across their devotees' Tweets and whose careers last decades beyond the latest Hog to be arrested. What's more, those Arkies lacking a competitive bone still find great sport in getting outside for a hike or a float down the country's first (and best) national river. Friends who were unlucky enough to get transferred to other locales tell me they never realized how much they would miss the amazing resource that is the River Trail. Indeed, I would lay dollars to hickory nuts that a far greater fraction of our populace finds participatory inspiration (versus the spectator form inspired by UA athletics) in the woods and streams than inside the painted lines of ball sports. The benefits to our health (and, by extension, our economy) provided by such participation are beyond question. Informing your readers about their outdoor opportunities, perhaps infecting them with the excitement that can come from an XTERRA podium finish, would seem a far greater service than feeding the pretense that the Razorbacks will ever again win a conference championship by putting (hot) air in a ball.
Foster care nightmare
What a horrible story, the federal court pleading of sexual abuser Clarence Garretson, a foster and adoptive parent. It makes me sick. What terrible memories those young people will carry around with them all their lives because adults who were responsible for protecting them, including the Arkansas government, betrayed, abused, neglected and ignored them. I am disturbed because for two years I have read articles, reports, graphs and comments about the Arkansas's foster care program and the growing number of children that are trapped, separated from family, friends, in a state agency that has multiple problem areas that our state government seems incapable of dealing with.
Money is more important to them than protecting the lives of the foster care children and they resent any money they have to spend on the program. This subject has been over-studied, analyzed, assigned to multiple, redundant legislative committees, and Hornby Zeller Associates did studies for the governor. The Arkansas Times has done several in-depth articles about the reasons for the backlog of parents waiting to be approved and why the numbers have increased. One of their best issues on the subject is "Cost of incarceration: When moms jailed, kids sentenced to foster care," by Kathryn Joyce.
The governor knows the weak links in the program. He knew them in 2015 when Rep. Justin Harris gave his adoptive children to a rapist. None of his Republican colleagues in the state legislature or Governor Hutchinson demanded that he resign. The governor and the legislature pretend they care about life and will aggressively protect a fetus in a womb to justify their discriminatory laws to control women's reproductive organs. At the same time, they contradict themselves, by not doing what needs to be done to ensure that the lives of the living, breathing children in the foster care program are protected, and that there are enough caseworkers and inspectors to make home visits to check on the children after they have been placed in a home.
From the web
In response to last week's cover story, "Leslie Rutledge, the absent attorney general":
Chastised for loving her state and country! Left will be left.
She has served the will of the majority of Arkansans.
Your article is your opinion, not news. I miss the days when reporters and news media would just print the facts less their opinions. It was much more compelling to the masses of readers. We the readers like to form our own opinions. The win for your publication is you get a broader audience.
If nothing else, I'd ask her to keep her mind on what's going on here and quit worrying about what's going on in other states.
Well, and one other thing: When she goes on TV, please don't mention she's from Arkansas.
Last week's cover story, "Leslie Rutledge, absent AG," incorrectly said that Rutledge was the first female Arkansas attorney general. She is the first elected female; Gov. Bill Clinton appointed Mary Stallcup attorney general in 1991 after AG Steve Clark resigned. Stallcup, who went on to be general counsel at the University of Central, died in 1997.