I want to say thank you for your honest, thought-provoking, knowledgeable articles. You have opened my mind to new ideas, encouraged me to ask questions and to do more extensive research about what is happening in the state of Arkansas. I was guilty of being politically apathetic until I lost my job and was disabled four years ago, which is when I started reading the Arkansas Times. I am so thankful you chose the career you did, so people like me won't be so ignorant of what is going on in the world around me. This has enabled me to make better decisions when I vote and to know when I am being lied to. I hate people lying to me. You and your reporters give such current, detailed information about complex issues, such as the convoluted Medicaid mess. You show me how state issues, organizations and politicians can harm my present and future life. I'm limited in my access to people and events. I don't get out of the house a lot. Plus, there is just too much information to keep up with. You keep up with current events for me. Your writing is clear and to the point. People make better decisions when they have access to accurate information. Sometimes our state politicians and government agencies cover up the truth and mislead the public. I like the way David Ramsey gives such detailed explanations about the medical insurance plans that are changing in Arkansas and who will benefit or will be harmed from the change. I need to know that. I get upset when I can't get honest answers from government agencies.
One of your best, recent issues was about the backlog in the Arkansas foster care program. I was shocked that we have 4,300 kids in foster care. Until I read the article, I had no idea. You explained what part of the agency was understaffed and that applications to be a foster parent were not being processed quickly enough. Your newspaper did extensive research to make people understand what was causing the backlog.
This one-horse town needs your newspaper. Watch "It's a Wonderful Life." I love you and your reporters for what you have done to protect the state of Arkansas. Don't give up.
GOP in turmoil
The GOP is no longer functioning as a true political party. Attempts at government shutdowns, politically motivated witch hunts and attempts to completely hand this country over to the billionaire class are the rule of the day. And the latest GOP fiasco, the booting out of the leading candidate for House speaker because he did something the GOP has a hard time doing these days, simply telling the truth.
What's really sad about all this is that most Arkansans will continue to support the GOP. Why? Because the GOP claims to be the party of God. All a political party has to do these days is claim to be anti-homosexual and anti-abortion and many Arkies will stampede to the polls to give their support.
"To hell with the economy! To hell with foreign policy! To hell with hungry children! We got sinners to punish!"
Watch out for StingRays
C-SPAN recently aired a congressional panel hearing on homeland security threats. The three areas of concern were border security and cyber and infrastructure threats.
Sadly, the congressmen chose to spend most of their time brown-nosing representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). None asked the really hard questions, like how these three agencies justified the unconstitutional use of StingRays, formerly a military technology, now used widely by state and local law enforcement groups against the domestic population.
With StingRays, they can listen in on any cell phone conversation without having to get a court order. In active mode, a StingRay can disrupt and incapacitate a cell phone. It effectively allows law enforcement to worm its way around the Fourth Amendment.
The temptation to use this device for purposes other than homeland security or for catching criminals is just too great. It makes George Orwell's Big Brother pale in comparison. And it makes me wonder, just who is being protected with its use, the people or the corporate/political status quo?
I have no doubt that Arkansas state and local law enforcement groups use StingRays. To what extent is anyone's guess.
I found FBI Director James Comey's testimony chilling. The FBI's chief function in homeland security seems to be punishment, emphasizing lengthy prison terms for kids caught trying to join terrorist groups. Comey's seeming compassion for "lost souls" and "unmoored individuals" sounded like so many crocodile tears to me. He seemed more interested in protecting corporate interests than the general population.
No one talked about the estrangement of American Muslim communities from general society. No one talked about the ongoing social isolation and political demobilization of our youth through things like Facebook, Twitter and the latest virtual reality games. These are symptoms of an unraveling society and are proving to be fertile grounds for the creation of lone wolf mentalities.