Travel important 

Travel worthwhile
A recent editorial entitled “Congo John” criticized Rep. John Boozman for his 2009 travel to 14 different countries including nations in Africa. It compared him unfavorably to me because in 2009 I had taken no international trips. In my opinion Rep. Boozman should be commended for his willingness to participate in and learn from congressionally-related international travel. There are very few challenges facing the United States and Arkansas that do not have worldwide ramifications, including public health, national security, sound immigration policy, trade, student exchanges, information technology and security, economic development, and international diplomacy. My lack of international travel was a result of family responsibilities requiring my presence at home, not a belief that travel is not important for members of Congress.

U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder
Little Rock

In his column April 22, Ernest Dumas set out the facts about the benefits Arkansas and Arkansans will realize from health care reform – more money to the state to pay for the expansion of Medicaid and better care (or in some instances, care for the first time) for hundreds of thousands of Arkansans. He pointed out that the fears of some politicians about the burden on Arkansas to pay for the expansion are baseless. In his April 22 article, Doug Smith reminded us that all Americans are benefiting from the tax cuts and that Arkansans, because we are a poor state, are benefiting disproportionately. Poor states and poor folks should benefit from progressive social programs, and Arkansas and Arkansans do. So why are the approval ratings for Obama and Democrats, who alone are responsible for this good work, not through the roof? I do not know. I do know that for all my life I have been mystified by how demagogues have convinced the working class and middle class to take to the barricades to oppose social programs and a tax system that benefit them. We now need to restore some of Bush's ill-advised tax cuts and probably cut spending to cut into the Republican-crafted permanent deficit. If Obama succeeds, he will not get the credit he will deserve.

Pat Goss
Little Rock

Fogleman defended
I do not know how you feel about your April 22 edition, leading with yet another rehash of the West Memphis Three.

Taking every (stale) thing you say in the article as true, what would you like your reader to do? It is over. Consider a new weekly recovery meeting at your headquarters to help you accept what you cannot change and free yourself to be interesting again.

As an aside, injecting it into a state Supreme Court judicial race is teabagger, using your pen to unfairly jack the system, like screaming “traitor” when actually you just do not agree with an outcome. And it is on the cover. Kinda cheap. But I end with the salve of friendship, “bless your heart. I know you mean well ... .”

Robert D. Trammell
Little Rock

I was shocked at the disgraceful and inappropriate “No” to Fogleman cover on the April 22 Arkansas Times. Apparently it was based on the conclusions of Mara Leveritt, who described convicted felon Jessie Misskelley Jr. as being a clumsy statement giver, incapable of giving a coherent account of facts. To my mind, Ms. Leveritt is the Jessie Misskelley Jr. of investigative reporting. So far her “negative evidence” against Circuit Judge John Fogleman has been rejected by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Judge Fogleman's credentials and qualifications to serve on the Arkansas Supreme Court have been endorsed by the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association, which honored him as its Outstanding Trial Judge of the Year and, according to Ms. Leveritt, “almost every lawyer I know who appeared in Fogleman's court since he was elected a circuit judge 15 years ago hold him in high regard.” He comes from a long and distinguished legal family and has distinguished himself as an experienced and exceptional lawyer and trial judge, well qualified to be elected to our Supreme Court. “YES” to Fogleman.

S. Hubert Mayes Jr.
Little Rock

Thanks, Observer
Thank you for the nice article about our son, MSgt. Bubba Beason, in the April 8 issue.

During his year-long tour of duty in Afghanistan he will run a mile for each one killed during this war on terror. He has a deep burden for the Gold Star moms, the moms who have lost a son or daughter. Our car club, the Dixie Car Club, in Benton sent over 500 Mother's Day cards to the men and women there so they could send them to their moms.

We are so proud of him and Arkansas will be the better when he will be stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base when he returns next year.

Ronald and Brenda Wood

Paper of contrasts
The April 15 Democrat-Gazette op-ed section offered an interesting contrast. Gene Lyons told us that the bottom half of us own 2.5 percent of the country's wealth. The top 10 percent control over 70 percent of it. For the top 1 percent it's 34 percent.

The top .01 percent in income average 976 times that of the bottom 90 percent. Lyon's concern: Political democracies are hard to sustain amid such economic inequality.

Along with a gripe about the complexity of the IRS code, a Democrat-Gazette editorial writer worried that with almost half of us paying no federal income tax, “it's no way to sustain a democracy that we all bear a responsibility to support. Instead of so many being supported.”

Could this include a near minimum wage earner who is unlikely to have either health coverage or a retirement plan and probably can't afford an apartment, or a family of four with an income up to $50,000 and two workers each making less than $30,000, again unlikely to have health coverage or a retirement plan and who probably can't pay on a mortgage?

If any of these get Medicaid or food stamps, are they getting anything that they shouldn't have gotten from their employer? Are we supporting the employees or their scrooge employers?

Jerry Shell



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