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Supporting the paper

It has been ironic amusement for me to see ads for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette subscriptions featuring a recent Doonesbury strip. High on my list of hopes has been that newspapers and Doonesbury would last longer than I do. Both are getting problematic.

Garry Trudeau has been doing Doonesbury for 50 years, and this paper has broken 200. The ADG, I suspect, has always looked askance at Doonesbury since it clearly did not follow the editorial slant of the paper. Remember having to find the daily strip on page 2 of the classified ads section? Now it appears they have common purpose: the survival of newspapers. Doonesbury has been on the theme for years--and, incidentally, spoofing Donald Trump for over 30. Seriously, check out the Doonesbury site.

My wife and I recently got our tablet and are capable of using it. We would prefer paper, and we are having serious misgivings about how we will manage breakfast with only one device. We have a long, happy marriage based in part on passing sections of the paper and not talking at breakfast. We'll work it out because the local newspaper is too important. I've been needing to replace my antique laptop.

Little Rock is blessed to have a top-notch local paper; compare the sad Commercial Appeal in Memphis and feel happy. As Doonesbury is trying to tell you, a healthy local paper is key to civic engagement and democracy. And how are you going to know who died? We will support the ADG as long as it is available, and I will continue to hope that Trudeau can keep Doonesbury going, even if only on Sundays.


Little Rock

On religious 'nones'

Dana Kelley's recent analysis of the trend toward religious "nones" was rather pathetic. He spends most of his time accurately describing the statistical trends, but then claims the decline should be alarming because ... of the opinion of a 19th century Frenchman?

Why don't we do some real analysis? The United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) measures life expectancy, education, and per capita income and ranks countries around the world. The HDI shows that countries with higher religiosity have lower HDI scores. This correlation holds even in the United States, where the states with higher religiosity have lower HDIs. This does not mean that being religious causes lower human development scores, but being religious does not seem to improve one's lot. Another report, the World Happiness Index, shows the happiest people in the world live in the least religious countries. So it seems clear that being religious, by itself, has little impact on the well-being of a country.

I don't want to say that attending a church has no positives. It can create a great sense of community, and that is valuable. It can create vehicles to help society, for instance, feeding and clothing the poor and hungry. But look at today's religious trends: Prosperity gospels, such as those taught by Joel Osteen (No. 1 NYT best-seller) and Paula White (our president's "spiritual adviser") tell followers that the way to receive blessings is to first send them money. I seem to have missed that part of Jesus' gospel. Further, you have leading "Christians" such as Jerry Falwell Jr. who continue to praise a man who has committed adultery, sexualized his own daughter, and lies constantly.

It is no wonder "nones" exist. I just wonder why there are not even more.



Walk-ons on walkers

So disgusted with Hog football that we have decided to help. We have taken our 77 years of experience and 77-year-old mature bodies and started training. Recently started tough aerobic, strength, and memory training. Hired spouses as acting coaches. Not feasible to give them a long-term contract right now.

We intend to lead the football team to victory. We will not be hobbled by a printed sports page or fake sports news. Have hired two women and a truck to take us to Fayetteville. Somehow we will get it done. Maybe the Legislature will help with new laws. Go Pigtails!


Little Rock

On the impeachment

Turns out I have something in common with Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the former NSC expert on Ukraine, and Maria Yovanovich, the ex-ambassador to that country, both of whom have been testifying in the Trump impeachment hearings.

We are all children of parents who fled the vicious dictatorship that was the Soviet Union. And if their parents were like mine, these honorable public servants grew up steeped in the knowledge of what it means to be deprived of life, liberty and basic human rights by a tyrannical regime. We were also schooled in seeing through Soviet disinformation tactics and the constant redefining of reality endemic to that system. So when we see a president of the United States spouting conspiracy theories invented by the FSB (or GRU, KGB, MVD, GPU, NKVD, Cheka--different names for the same rotten thing), and cozying up to the likes of Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, and Xi Jinping, we naturally bristle up. And when cozying up to dictators leads to sacrificing America's natural allies abroad and endangering her national security in exchange for dirt on political opponents or a hotel in Moscow, we see Red. The Cold War isn't over, you know. It's just entering a new phase.

If Vindman's and Yovanovich's parents were like mine, they didn't come to the United States to evade military service or to make a buck. They came because America was a nation committed to "liberty and justice for all," where the rule of law mattered and where their children could grow up breathing freely.

Well, America under Trump's leadership and with Republican collaboration has really dropped that torch. Instead of serving as a beacon to the rest of the world--Reagan's "shining city upon a hill"--it appears she's become a Trumpian dumpster fire of betrayal, corruption and lies, serving only his personal interests and those of the neo-Soviet dictators he so admires.



Editorial on 11/23/2019

Print Headline: Letters


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