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donemewrong1 
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Re: “Arkansas's food stamp story: Small support to poor working people

Let's see.
I am an older white male, partially disabled. My disability prevents me from working in a number of jobs and professions. I have a felony conviction that bars me from a number of additional professions. I do draw disability/SSI, but the monthly amount does not cover all the monthly bills. Yes, I am on the SNAP program, for a whopping $89 a month--perhaps just under $3 per day on average. Transportation is via an 11-year-old car that may develop expensive problems at any time, which obviously I cannot meet. The food pantries I have visited are helpful, but as a rule they "ration" what and when I can visit the next time; a 2-week interval seems to be the norm. Visiting more than one pantry might help, though more driving puts more stress on the old car. Oh, any COLA increase in disability payments automatically means a corresponding decrease in SNAP/EBT monthly benefits.
According to Tom Cotton, I should be driving an SUV. I wouldn't mind that, if someone were to give me such a vehicle as well as pay for fuel and maintenance. I should be dining on steak. I love steak, but buying 2 steaks at the grocery store takes nearly 1/3 of my SNAP/EBT funds for the month. Lobster and caviar? Don't like either of them, so this makes me go even further against Cotton's based-in-unreality views. He says nothing about personal hygiene items or household cleaners--I suppose they don't matter, as he sees things.
I am lucky enough to have Medicare, thanks to the disability. But the Congressman and others probably conclude this is just another example of laziness on my part, because I depend on the government to look after my medical needs. Medicaid? That's still up in the air. If I need prescriptions, and the so-called "donut hole" applies to me, I suppose the "wonderful" choice of paying bills or paying for prescriptions will become part and parcel of my future.
I issue a formal challenge to Congressman Cotton, and, better yet, to the Koch Brothers, and to all the other critics who decry the very existence of SNAP/EBT and related programs. I challenge and dare them to live as I or other recipients of help programs have lived. They must live, experience, and endure what we experience for a barest minimum of 6 weeks to 2 months.
Such crass behavior, practicing of bigotry, and lacking any genuine knowledge of what it's like to be in our, or my, shoes--are there any of these oh-so-comfortable and living in a la-la-land types willing to take me up on this dare? I'm waiting.
But I'm not holding my breath.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by donemewrong1 on 07/16/2013 at 12:44 AM

Re: “Jason Baldwin, Mara Leveritt talk cameras in court

To mudturtle, I had a similar experience some years ago. I paid a visit to some relatives in central Pennsylvania. When introduced to my cousins's co-workers, they were genuinely surprised that a "Suhthenuh" from "Ah-kan-saw" contradicted all their expectations: hoping to see an unwashed, barefoot male, wearing bib overalls, possibly no shirt, weather-beaten straw hat, and a mouthful of Skoal. Not only was I well-dressed, I further shattered their illusions when they learned I was at that time working towards a Ph.D. By the by, those co-workers were "cutting-edge" researchers at a then-major electronics R & D concern.

A few years earlier, I watched with great interest the news coverage of desegregation in the Boston-area schools. The resistance and the violence matched--and arguably surpassed--what happened at Central High in 1957. The 1954 Brown decision was directed towards the heinous education system so prevalent in the South at the time, but what I and many others saw in Massachusetts was a type of "what goes around comes around".

Even during Reconstruction, there was widespread opposition to any mass migration of freed slaves from the South, a mindset that looked with similar distaste at Irish Catholic immigrants, and which arguably led to Jim Crow-type laws in quite a few places in the North, well before the Civil War.

Before anyone comments I defend the South and Arkansas too much, I will balance this with my memories of TV coverage of the 1965 Voting Rights march in Alabama. Seeing the brutal handling of the marchers as they came across the Pettus Bridge, I for the first time felt ashamed to be a part of such a system, and such a region. I did benefit from a moral cliche, that a person can and should learn right from wrong. Knowing what was, and is, right and wrong became more complex, often more problematic, as I grew to adulthood, but there are occasions when something so right becomes unmistakable.

What was said at the panel discussion last night needed to be said; even more, the hopes for having cameras in all the courtooms must become a reality. If enough people will question, complain, and urge, the policymakers must listen. If they listen and act as we hope, Arkansas can be in the vanguard of legal reform, and arguably show that progress is not limited to, say, the North and the West. I've heard some people argue that having an "Arkie", Bill Clinton, elected President, was just a "fluke". Acting positively on the issue of cameras in the courts I believe will give the lie to this misconception.

Are any of our legislators listening?

Posted by donemewrong1 on 12/14/2012 at 2:32 PM

Re: “Jason Baldwin talks about 'Paradise Lost' at 'Cameras' event

I have just returned from attending this evening's panel discussion. A little under 300 people were present, and it was a wonderful sight to behold, and even better to be a part of it all. There are people in Arkansas, and elsewhere, who are concerned about the lack of "transparency", to use Mara Leveritt's word, when it comes to knowing what the courts are doing, and how they are--or not--doing their job. Seeing these people at a session such as this convinces me that reform is not impossible. Perhaps very difficult to achieve in the short run, but not ultimately impossible.

Lindsey Millar, Mara Leveritt, and especially Jason Baldwin must be congratulated on their participation, and for sharing a lot of valuable information. Several rounds of applause meant the people present agree that changes are needed, and that they are open to and supportive of having cameras in the courtrooms. I saw just in my area quite a few heads nodding in agreement, and I caught a few whispered comments, including a "that's so much like what happened to me".

One of the most important comments came from Mara Leveritt. She spoke quite eloquently about the state and the people of Arkansas facing another round of definite humiliation and criticism, the result of the West Memphis 3 case. This is something that will shock some people and upset others, but she is right on target. She then discussed how Arkansas can and should be more proactive--and right away--by having cameras set up to record all criminal court proceedings. The state supreme court has already opened up the doors to do this. Now all lower courts should do the same. Arkansas could blunt some of this criticism, and quite probably save the taxpayers a lot of money in the long run. I wish representatives of every circuit and appellate courts could have attended this evening's discussion.

Jason Baldwin, keep doing what you're doing. Mara Leveritt, keep doing what you're doing. Lindsey Millar, keep doing what you're doing. And to all three of you, do it even more.

9 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by donemewrong1 on 12/13/2012 at 8:42 PM

Re: “Pip, pip Old Bean: Tim Griffin highlights his British connection

Interesting. I too am a Hendrix graduate, a Tulane graduate, and spent a very brief time at Oxford. I stand in opposition to TG's and his minions' views about government, and doing the right thing for the American people. Quite probably the times he and I spent at all these places shaped our world views very differently. I wonder how under these circumstances we took such different paths. With my snarky-ness level rising, I can only wonder how he went so wrong.

7 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by donemewrong1 on 10/31/2012 at 10:42 AM

Re: “Death Row inmate fights for exoneration

I must respond to Sound Policy on one point: Some years ago I was accused of criminal felonies, and at one point I asked my attorney at the time if he'd be willing to accept some help, even consultation, with another attorney experienced in a particular field. My attorney immediately went into a huff and virtually accused me of doubting his abilities--no help or consultations were allowed. The results in my case? A plea bargain, a step that "if I knew then what I know now" I would have avoided. I still endure the aftereffects, even after many years. Perhaps a simple point needs re-emphasis: lawyers work for the client, not the other way 'round.

9 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by donemewrong1 on 10/01/2012 at 11:52 AM

Re: “New fiber analysis results in WM3 case

This again shows how fear-mongering, hysteria, and the rush to find a culprit, ANY culprit, has backfired in the long run. Now more than a few state officials and personnel have had all their assurances and promises that dangerous child molester-killers would get their just desserts--that justice would be served--demolished. By extension the entire state has suffered an embarrassment that might have been avoided in the first place. Think, too, of all the tax dollars wasted, and finding and then rendering justice being no closer today than in 1993.

If the members of the 2013 Arkansas State Legislature will stop pandering to the hysteria-driven few, and stop introducing and passing "feel-good" aka knee-jerk reaction-type laws, that would be one major step forward. If the legislators will care to remember that they are public SERVANTS, and will show openminded-ness, that's another step. One way to do so is to take the time and effort to listen to any and all Arkansans who have had direct experience with the "receiving end" of the laws, and act positively on the comments and recommendations they have, even better. I do not advocate getting "soft" on crime; I advocate getting smarter in passing better laws. This may fly in the face of "business as usual", but this latest backlash in the WM3 case should serve as a wake-up call.

9 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by donemewrong1 on 08/30/2012 at 2:03 PM

Re: “Sympathy for the devil

I read with very great interest the cover story and the additional stories about sex offenders in Arkansas. I commend the Times for having the willingness and the gumption to look into this issue, and the complexities that have come out as a result. In particular the complexities of the problems facing the married couple profiled in "The Scarlet Letter" raise the specter of good intentions undermined by real life situations, and how these same good intentions have put this family on the proverbial road to hell.

Several points made in the main article come across very well, notably in the first several paragraphs. The wide range of laws that can put a person on a sex offender registry, and the "sidebar" article that goes into more extensive detail; the details of how many sex offenders Arkansas has, and their respective levels; and the early statements that more and more trouble relating to this state's sex offender laws and registries--these issues have gotten more and more attention in various media outlets, further proof that sex offender laws and issues are not and cannot be viewed or dealt with as simply as most people believe.

However, I have some definite problems with the main article.

One of the most serious is the article spends far too much time looking at the methods through which persons are assessed for the registry, and, in comparison, far too little time on the problems the registry has created, the unintended, unanticipated consequences that have not just for the registrants but their families as well. The profile of the married couple serves as a solid example of good intentions gone haywire; but it and the main article do not take into account just how varied in the registry's "membership". The article as a result paints a bleak picture that possibly endorses a "one size fits all" approach.

I see little if anything that shows more than a few people on the Arkansas registry are themselves under age. I understand that someone as young as 13 years of age can be placed on the registry for creating and sending "sexting" pictures of themselves nude or semi-nude, and the same holds true for the person or persons who receive such pictures. I understand that the charge of sexual indecency with a child can and does apply even to underage babysitters. I wonder how many current Arkansas registrants fall into this category?

A crucial omission is no taking into account the possibility that some registrants are or may have been falsely accused of sex crimes. A long-time friend of mine, who no longer lives in Arkansas, was caught up in a messy divorce case some years ago. His wife wanted out of the marriage, and she wanted everything he had. She pressured their young daughter to tell DHS investigators "Daddy messed with me." This statement was challenged in court, and even the young girl openly admitted that her mother and her maternal grandmother had pressured her to lie. But the judge refused to take these challenges into account, granted the divorce, and all my friend's assets went to his now ex-wife. The judge also issued an order, at the wife's request, that he could have no contact with his daughter under any circumstances. Even though my friend could prove his innocence, it was of no use. About a year or so ago, a middle school teacher in New England was arrested and charged with molesting one of his female gym class students. He was exonerated when it came out the girl was "getting back" at that teacher for criticizing her lateness to the gym class and for persistently bringing "inappropriate music" and disturbing the other students with it. The exoneration was a solid one, because the accuser went into explicit detail about what she had done on Facebook. I know that Arkansas has more than a few similar cases. But I do not see any coverage in the article relating to this factor that shows current sex offender laws are far from effective, let alone perfect.

The interview with Dr. Walker was a good aspect, and one of the places where doubts are very cogently raised about current Arkansas sex offender laws. The interview with Sheri Flynn likewise brings up some important concerns, all of which need to be explored much more thoroughly. I do wish the interview with Robert Combs had been given more emphasis. Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous have shown to be effective in helping many people with this particular problem, not just as a support group but also with research and working with various authorities. I understand groups like Arkansas Time After Time, the various Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL) organizations, and the Sex Offender Solutions and Education Network (SOSEN) have compiled extensive resources of information to show what has to be done to effectively deal with this problem, arguably using the same basic ideas and methods. The powers-that-be in Arkansas I believe can learn a lot from the people who have been through these troubles. One of the few alternatives as I see it is horrible--just let more people wind up on the Sex Offender Registry, and let them experience what it's like to, in the words of the article, live as a "pariah", as a "social leper". These people--in ATAT, SOSEN, and the like--have the perspectives to help create and enforce more effective laws concerning sex offenders, all without the slightest intention of becoming "too soft on crime". I do not understand why more people in authority do not, cannot, or will not consider these resource groups in trying to make laws more effective, and communities safer.

I understand that it is possible under current Arkansas laws and/or sex offender assessment processes for a person who has done nothing more than look at online child pornography to be given the lowest--worst--assessment level, despite no physical contact made with any victim. I understand that current assessment practices are done behind closed doors, with the person being assessed denied any support, even from an attorney or clergyman. I do not understand why that is done, why some "star chamber" aspects seem to be the order of things.

I understand and share the concerns that not just our children must be kept safe from the worst of the worst, the serial molester-rapist. I do not understand why current Arkansas laws, and the general legal and political climate--another factor the article does not really explore--have fallen so far short of expectations. The Arkansas taxpayer is footing all the costs, all the bills, for these problems.

The article has some good points, and does show that matters in this area remain far from an effective, judicious resolution. I just wish the article had gone into, or in more depth, in at least these areas.

10 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by donemewrong1 on 01/29/2012 at 2:46 PM

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