Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
The Democrat-Gazette saw fit to assault U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln three times in less than a week on their editorial page. This level of repetition surpasses a mere pattern and might be deemed an obsession. Obsessive folks can be dangerous because they tend to ignore facts that don't concur with their fixations.
Newspaper editors who probably would not recognize a plow if it opened a furrow on their writing desks simply lack credentials on this topic. Yet, they hold forth to be experts on farm policy and the programs designed to accomplish that policy. Contrary to ignorance-based opinions, farm programs were not designed to make farmers wealthy. They exist to ensure that the nation has an adequate supply of food and fiber products. They do provide a safety net to producers of the major commodities that are the base of the world's food supply, but that net certainly does not guarantee a profit.
I would defy any editor or other farm program critic to name another national food and farm policy initiative that has delivered the benefits to a society like our U.S. farm policy does. Senator Lincoln understands this. Many editors do not.
Criticizing Senator Lincoln for standing up for a segment of her constituents that suffered severe crop damage from weather disasters in 2009 is not only unfair, it's suspicious, because critics have relied on editors at the Washington Post and the New York Times to advocate against Arkansas producers. Why? Why would a native give credibility to a big city editor far removed from the farm in an effort to harm their home state industry of agriculture? Seeking an answer to that question is liable to cause me to fall into the paranoia pit and it's already crowded with tea baggers.
From the farm community, I say bless you, Miss Blanche, and please don't let the naysayers wear you down. You did us proud by being a senator, doing what a senator should!
Harvey Joe Sanner
Time to eat right
Last week's withdrawal of the diet drug Meridia marks the latest setback in a long and frustrating quest for a pharmaceutical solution to our national obesity epidemic. Despite millions of dollars spent by drug companies, none of the handful of diet drugs on the market is considered very effective.
This is most unfortunate, for obesity has become the number one public health problem for our community and our nation, affecting one-third of our population. It's a precursor to heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses that account for more than a million premature deaths each year.
Leading causes of obesity are consumption of fat-laden meat and dairy products and inadequate exercise. This is particularly critical during childhood years, when lifestyle habits become lifelong addictions. The failure of the drug industry to come up with a dietary silver bullet places added emphasis on the diet/exercise solution.
The time has come to replace meat and dairy products in our diet with wholesome grains, vegetables, and fruits and to undertake a regular exercise program. Parents should insist that their schools introduce wholesome school lunch choices and should set a good example at their own dinner table.
Where's the ethos?
As one who was born and grew up in Arkansas, attended public schools in the "Natural State" and graduated at the head of his class at Hendrix College, in 1965, to leave for Europe to study literature on a Marshall Scholarship at London University, and who now lives and teaches in Louisiana, I have often wondered why Arkansas people do not get busy analyzing the spiritual and intellectual life of their own society. Here in Louisiana we know we are in deep trouble. The state budget is bleeding tax revenues and higher education is being ruthlessly cut back. In a few years higher education in Louisiana will consist of LSU and a bunch of community colleges that were once "universities." I teach at one such "castrated" institution.
Arkansas — I suspect — suffers from some similar problems. It is not just that the brightest people can hardly wait to leave. It is also the poverty of the ethos of the place that makes it such a lousy place to live in, unless you are middle-class and middle-brow. I have never noticed that Arkansas people indulge in much serious introspection. Rather, like deprived people in similar places — West Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, etc. — what you get is predominately a middle-brow, liberal Protestant ethos that mindlessly values the status quo and has little time for dissident views, for the arts, especially when they challenge that point of view. I have occasionally pointed out to the present poo-bahs who run my old alma mater that Hendrix College, when I was there, was a pit of homophobia, and that I have many unhappy memories of the place, but this not the kind of rootin'-tootin' endorsement these little Methodists want to receive. This obsession with other people's sexual preference is typical of Arkansas and a good index of its provincial narrowness and ignorance.
Arkansas advertises itself as "the natural state." A rather unconsciously comical designation. It would be better if Arkansas strove to become the "artificial state," as civilization, and we all know this, is essentially artificial.
There is plenty here to think about, not that I imagine for one moment that anyone in Arkansas will waste any time on it at all.
James A. Means
I am really in a state of despair. The Democrats are stumbling all over themselves, not doing anything but reacting to the Republicans. The Republicans are still playing gotcha politics and doing nothing for the American people but those who join lock-step with them. Their utilization of fear and hatred seems to resonate with the old, the uneducated and the rednecks of the land and keeps these life-forms in a constant state of agitation.
I sometimes think it would be most expeditious for those of us with the ability and desire to think for ourselves to merely concede. Vote Republican across the board and let the bastards have it. Five or 10 years from now, when this great country is in a total state of disaster they can blame only themselves and those of us not imprisoned can return from exile in Canada (or wherever) and try to rebuild the country. Our American Taliban seems to be trying to turn us into a Heinlein-type of religious-controlled government that would expel or imprison all who don't think like them. Unfortunately there is no defense against a life-form that is self-replicating, judgmental and self-justifying by way of selective use of an old religious document many of them believe was written by God himself. These life-forms are incapable of sound, logical thought and their analytic skills are non-existent, so by faith alone they proceed, full of themselves and forgetting the very words of their own Gospel (forgiveness, tolerance, etc.).
The best example is the man whose name is spelled like booze but who pronounces it like Bozo.
Do you know any good, inexpensive, long-term lodging facilities in Canada? I haven't thought of that since the Vietnam draft.
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