Best in newspaper

The Oscars, Tonys, Grammys, etc., have all been given out, so there's nothing left but my favorite (and strictly personal opinion) awards, The "Gazzies." They honor the best, and decry the worst, recent Arkansas Democrat-Gazette letters and columns.

First up, we have the "Way-Off-The Mark" award for cruelty and meanness by an obvious Trump voter: Mr. John Cloud (May 6). I try to be fair in my assessments, but as a degenerate Democrat, I am, at 80, too old to remember when and where I was a degenerate; if I was, it was only one time and never in front of Sister Mary Francis.

This next award leaves us with a first-time-ever tie, folks. It is the "Right-On-The-Money" Award for their perfect assessments of the LEARNS Act and its pending irreparable harm to Arkansas children, families and taxpayers. Give it up for Ms. Evelyn Nelsen and Mr. Richard Emmel (May 5 and 6). They've shone a light on not only a calamity-in-waiting, but what I believe is a clear violation of the First Amendment's intent to implement the separation of church and state; arguably and historically the worst marriage ever.

Our next award for best "Guest Writer" for her stunning piece "Truth Matters," the "Gazzie" goes to Shelley Smith.

This one brings tears to this old critical thinker's eyes, folks, but the "It's About Time" Award goes to fan favorite Kevin Elsken. It had Bertrand Russell doing the Hoochie Coochie in his grave. Reason lives!

And finally, our "Lifetime Achievement Award" for his hysterical portrayal of a teacher-of-the-year applicant's response to the silly question concerning his or her plans to implement the LEARNS Act, we are proud to present the "Gazzie" to Mr. John Brummett.

Well, that's it, folks. Stay tuned for the news and don't forget to tip your server.


Bella Vista

Constant vigilance

Not surprisingly, totalitarian governments have uniformly banned the possession of firearms inasmuch as they recognize that a well-armed citizenry is a bulwark against tyranny.

Today is no different. It seems Marxist forces in this country consistently seek to strip Americans of their Second Amendment rights. Since the outright prohibition of firearms has proven problematic, the forces of suppression have adopted an alternative strategy. They hope to achieve their malignant goals incrementally.

Each progressive regulation and restriction is a "modest" and "reasonable" regulation to which no "fair-minded" citizen can object. The ultimate endgame is (as with the Cheshire Cat) complete disappearance. This process is readily discernible in the Marxist-inspired legislation on both coasts.

Only a determined citizenry by constant vigilance can thwart their evil designs.


Little Rock

Find mutual respect

Over several recent walks recently, I listened to an amazing book for those of us who are often holed up in our respective thought silos. The book is "I Never Thought of It That Way" by journalist Mónica Guzmán, and I highly recommend it.

Toward the end of her book, which encourages reasoned conversations outside our comfort zones, she mentioned the Spanish word "convivir." She noted that the frequent translation for the word is "to co-exist" and opined that "to co-exist" is a very low bar, that we need to find ways to thrive together. She encourages us to see beyond the hype of political and religious dogma that lurches us into our fortresses and away from those who speak, think, preach and legislate in ways that are anathema to us.

Some politicians, pastors, partisans and pundits want to keep us divided, aggrieved and angry, presenting those they consider as "other" or "less than" as the enemy. We often use inflammatory rhetoric that causes us to distrust or hate one another. And yet, there are people I know and love, with whom I fervently disagree on politics and religious issues, whom I am still able to see as the kind souls they are despite those disagreements.

Guzmán urges us to remain curious, to remain open to learning the basis for the diverging views. She is now a part of a group called Braver Angels that seeks to bring people with vastly different views on myriad subjects together for rational and courteous discourse, finding in so doing that mutual respect is possible through such communication. I hope to take part in such conversations and hope other Arkansans will do so as well. We might just find that our bottom-line values are closer than we think.


Little Rock

Reasons to look up

"Don't cry for me, Argentina," sang Madonna in "Evita." For those of us who have experienced a couple of challenging events--the drastic Arkansas post-World War II population decline, the Berlin airlift, the polio epidemic, the Cuban missile crisis (remember Duck and Cover?), the Cold War, Vietnam, Nikita Khrushchev at the UN, even the unpaved Big Hill on Hayes Street--there has been much locally and nationally to darken our mood.

But "Don't despair, Arkansas," I say. Look at today's skyline, Museum of Fine Arts, and medical complexes, Little Rock. Look at continuing progressive leadership in Fayetteville, Pine Bluff, Conway and all of our state colleges. Ukraine is disheartening, but NATO is stronger. Don't let the talking-head drama-derries on TV, nor the kindergarten-quarreling politicians in D.C. define you.

"Don't despair, Arkansas!" I say.


Little Rock