Lonoke is back in the headlines with a mayor, a police chief and his wife accused of crimes ranging from manufacturing methamphetamine in order to supposedly frame somebody, to spiriting liquor into the jail to give to inmates, taking inmates to a hotel to have sex with the police chief’s wife (so the convicts say) and having inmates hang Christmas lights at the mayor’s house.

Who is behind all this? Her name is Lona McCastlain. She is a Republican and it’s all happening in Lonoke County. This isn’t the first time that Prosecuting Attorney Lona McCastlain has been in the news.

When she was running for prosecutor back in 1998 McCastlain declared herself the winner in an election that had her winning by three votes. Then her opponent called for a recount and it was found, mysteriously, that the election had become a tie. Then, even more mysteriously, an absentee ballot arrived from Great Britain and gave McCastlain the victory.

Lona McCastlain wasn’t done, however. She threw herself back in the limelight while fighting with a judge and called for him to step out of all cases she was involved in, putting more than 118 criminal cases on hold. It seems our justice system is ill equipped to deal with a renegade — and in my opinion that is what McCastlain is.
Alfred Brock
Canton, Mich.

Protecting parks
I appreciate National Park Service Director Fran Mainella’s effort to “clarify” the Bush administration’s proposed revisions of management policies that guide the decisions of our National Park managers (Letters, Feb.2 issue.)

I have no quarrel with Mainella, but she is a political appointee under direction of a Department of Interior whose motives are clear — starve the National Parks’ budgets, and shift emphasis from protection of park resources to commercial exploitation.

The justifications she offered simply do not hold water. Most of the proposed revisions have no relationship to homeland security, changed laws or “changed times.” They do, however, weaken and obscure the, previously quite clear, mandate to PROTECT National Park resources, first and foremost. And they would make it more difficult for park managers to say NO to the recreation industry’s efforts to open the parks to more abuse by noisy, polluting “toys” such as snowmobiles and off-road vehicles. There are legitimate places for such machines, but NOT in America’s “crown jewels,” our National Parks, where most visitors come seeking peace, quiet, and inspiration.

Director Mainella invites public input. I agree. If the readers want to support the parks and keep them free of commercial exploitation, I encourage them to log onto www.nps.gov, and follow the links to “2006 Management Policies Review,” where they will be able to express their views.
Don Castleberry
Little Rock
Don Castleberry is a retired regional director of the National Park Service.

Thanks, Denmark
Our country is deeply indebted to a few people in Denmark for exposing the Achilles heel of Islam. Of course, we should have needed no more than the experience of Salman Rushdie some years ago to instruct us.

Nevertheless, the lesson is now abundantly clear: All it takes to throw the entire Muslim world into an uproar is to “insult the Prophet.” Wow! Think of all the money we could save in the budget of the Department of Defense.

If only we had realized this five years ago, we could have retaliated for the attacks of 9/11 just by posting offensive cartoons on billboards in Times Square. No need to invade Afghanistan, not to mention Iraq.

(How reminiscent of certain fundamentalist Christians these Muslims are! Their chief concern is not that their own actions may offend God but that God may damn them for their laxity in permitting OTHER PEOPLE to sin. Come to think of it, didn’t God Himself decide at the outset that, while He wouldn’t encourage it, He would allow people to sin if they chose to?)

Our government can still threaten to insult the Prophet big time if al-Qaida should ever strike again. Have the posters printed and ready to go. Given the talent of American cartoonists, I’m willing to bet we could come up with cartoons that would be much more offensive than anything the Danes have produced.

Perhaps all it would take to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons is a threat of some well-placed billboards in Europe. (Are you listening, Condoleezza Rice?)

Too bad North Korea isn’t a Muslim country too. Otherwise we might be able to solve all our problems overseas with a single threat.
Bill Shepherd
Little Rock

Evangelical zeal
The major objection of Western secular societies to Islam is that portion of the Koran — the Sharia — which provides for religious authority over civil behavior. Our long tradition of separation of church and state, which helped insure the freedom of all religions, rebels at the idea of a government dictated by any religion.

Still, many of our fellow citizens resent and frequently protest the strict adherence to the separation of the two institutions which regulate much of our conduct. On some occasions those protests have exceeded legal limits. Some otherwise highly reputable citizens have, in the name of their religion, threatened and actually taken the lives of their neighbors. Violence against your fellow citizen over whether or not the Ten Commandments belong in the schoolroom differs from killing a doctor who performs legal abortions only in degree, not in principle. We are still a nation of laws, not religious edict.

On Sept.11, 2001, an organized group of 19 Muslims attacked two of our nation’s icons, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. They tried unsuccessfully for a third, the seats of government.

That action, provoked by religious fervor of a few, killed over 2,800 Americans of many different faiths and precipitated the death and maiming of many thousands more Americans as well as Afghans and Iraqis at war.

Historians will ponder the greatest geopolitical irony of the infant 21st century when a neo-conservative U.S. administration bankrupted its nation and sacrificed its youth in an almost evangelical zeal to implant secularism into a culture whose combined Holy Scripture and constitution — the Koran — expressly rejects secularity.
Joel Taylor
Little Rock



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