Don’t Tear Down Our Monuments!

ARKANSAS

By

Richard Mason

Don’t tear down our monuments!

No, this is really not about Confederate Monuments. They just happen to be on this year’s tear down list. But the reason being used to take down the Confederate Monuments is sure to be used on other similar monuments. This is the reasoning: the Civil War is deemed to be a bad war for a whole host of reasons. In some circles, where it’s labeled a bad war, they want all plaques, monuments, signs, and statues commemorating the losing side in that war destroyed.
Okay, so I guess that means we need to start determining good wars and bad wars, and then, of course, we’ll take down the memorials to bad wars. But it seems that the winners always say their war was a good war. Of course, if we consider recent wars, it’s hard to find a good one. The Gulf War to destroy the non-existent weapons of mass destruction or the never ending war in Afghanistan? If we review the long list of good and bad wars, it’s hard to find a war that is justified, except for the Second World War. And if we check on all war monuments, signs, and statutes, we’ll find almost every war has its share. What do we do about all these pieces of history? Do we attempt to remove the “bad” war monuments? I sure don’t think so.
I believe the destruction of any monument that was erected in memory of a fallen soldier is wrong, and when we start down that path there is no ending. Certainly, we can look at the Civil War and without question mark it as our countries greatest tragedy. However, how about the Mississippi mother who lost three sons at Gettysburg, and after the war was over, helped raise the funds to erect a memorial to her fallen Confederate soldiers. Can you imagine that mother’s grief as she stood on a courthouse square and watched as the statue of a Confederate Soldier was unveiled? Do we have a. moral obligation to keep that monument, or can we just destroy it? But let’s go a step further: Millions of Americans believe the Vietnam War was immoral and wrong. There were not only +50,000 Americans killed, but as many as 2,000,000 Vietnamese. Should we tear down all the memorials to that War? But before you answer, can you even imagine the pain of a father or brother as they trace the name of their fallen soldier on the Vietnam wall?
I think what we must do is to consider the loss of American lives and its impact on our people. If we look at each of our war memorials as a tribute to a fallen soldier, the rush to erase history will diminish. Only when we put the personal feelings in place of a piece of granite can we realize that when a piece of stone was dedicated to the fallen of any American war there were family and friends who stood and looked at that dedication moment and mourned the loss. When we do that, we will put aside the good and bad war idea, and only look at the monument as a tribute to a fallen American hero.
Certainly, a monument in Germany to Hitler shouldn’t be allowed, but a monument to the Germany soldiers who died in that conflict should be. Yes, I agree slavery was a horrible part of our southern history, but 90% of the Southern Soldiers who fought in the war never owned slaves, and many of our nation’s founders owned slaves, even George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Surely, we wouldn’t try to erase our heritage by removing any reference to them. Well, let’s look at our founding fathers. How many of the ones who signed the Declaration of Independences were slaveholders? The answer is 41 including Benjamin Franklin. Do we cut their names out of the Declaration of Independence? Of course not! Surely that should put to rest any idea that owning of slaves is a reason for banishment. It seems, we Americans are swayed by current events to respond irrationally to a tragedy by doing something, and many times later, after cooler heads reflect on the actions taken, they are reversed.
Ninety percent of the Confederate soldiers didn’t own slaves, so why did they fight? They fought for many reasons, but many expressed the simple statement that they fought to defend their homes.
The Civil War stirs deep passions in some people, and the idea that the breaking up of a statue would cause a mentally unbalanced individual to do an irrational act is enough of a reason to leave the monuments alone.
Let’s that a look at all the monuments around our country, not just the Confederate ones. I believe they have one overriding similarity. It’s very simple: they exist as monuments to American heroes who gave their lives in battle. To me an American who gave his life on the beaches of Normandy, a soldier who died in the jungles of Vietnam, a Union soldier who died at Bull Run, and a Confederate soldier who yelled “For Virginia” as he charged across the fields of Gettysburg and died, are all American heroes, and if a group of Americans want to build a monument to their courage and memory, they should be allowed to, and no one should remove it.

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Money, Money, Money,…

Money, Money, Money…”
“Money, money, money,… money makes the world go ‘round, that clinking clanking sound that makes the world go ‘round.” Yes, you movie buffs guessed it. That right out of the Broadway Play and Movie Cabaret, but what has a decades old movie or play have to do with the good old USA? Well, it seems things haven’t changed, and if we look at our congress, and even glance at the ongoing budget considerations, you will come away with mumbling, “Money, money, money,” Yep, that’s the way we keep score, and lately it’s like certain companies and individuals have won the lottery. Just consider this: The current administration is proposing to add 80 billion dollars (at last count) to the defense budget. Of course, the +80 billion increase is a lot more than the Defense Department requested, but that doesn’t matter to those generous members of congress who are loading up every branch of the armed services, with extra ships for the Navy, more men for the military, and adding planes that will never see combat. Not only that there are gobs of military bases the Pentagon has requested be closed, and you and I know there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell those bases will be closed. Congress is going to increase the Defense Department budget by some ungodly amount, and, they will refuse to even consider closing any of the facilities on the Pentagon list of bases to close.
Of course, we have 150,000 troops posted overseas to keep countries like Japan and the Philippines safe. These troops are left over from World War II, and serve no purpose except to cost us billions in defense spending each year. The sum total of wasted money is easily north of 200 billion, and with the deficit soaring, our health care costs and the needs of children and college students at an all-time high, why waste 200 billion dollars? The answer is actually fairly simple. It’s just a matter of dollars. You know it’s the old “money, money, money” again, but those defense dollars must go to the right people, and those people aren’t folks who need health care, college students, or needy kids. The 200 billion would easily pay for a complete college education for every high school graduate for the next five years, and have enough money left over to pay every child in America’s health cost for the next decade, and go a long way toward universal health care. So why won’t congress do the right thing? Former President Dwight Eisenhower pinned it on the Military Industrial Complex. In other words there’s money to be made during a war or building the armaments necessary to fight a war, or paying companies to supply the troops around the world.
However, peace is not good for business, if you are building yet another tank or destroyer or paying to put troops in the Philippines, its jobs and money for the big companies. That is why, during a Republican administration, the Defense Budget soars. There is not a country in the world that is a legitimate threat to the USA. The phony hand-waving by our congress because of the threat of North Korea, China or Russia is just like fake news. We have military that is more than a match for any or all of the above countries. Russia has a budget of only 20% of our Defense Budget and China and North Korea aren’t anyone’s idea of realistic threats to us. The increased Defense Budget is just another bone like the tax bill to reward the big corporate supporters of the present administration. What could be simpler than that? Republicans always cut the taxes of the wealthy, pad the Defense Budget, and cut benefits for the poor and middle class. It’s what Republicans do. Who could possibly be surprised at that observation?
Of course, it’s not just unnecessary Defense Department spending, it’s also a failure of congress to close bases and other facilities that are no longer needed and to quit adding ships the Navy says they have no use for and planes the Air Force doesn’t want. But let’s look at closing bases. This little boondoggle is a bipartisan issue and Democrats are as guilty as Republicans. I have yet to see one congressman or senator vote to close a base in their state or district. We have outmoded pieces of decades old military equipment sitting on runways and in storage that are useless in a modern war, and of course that’s bad enough, but our and your home state congressman or senator not only wants to keep those pieces of junk lying around, but they insist they be replaced and added to even though they know it’s a waste of money. Naturally, when you confront one of our representatives about closing a base in their state, they will cook up some farfetched, implausibly scenario that shows why their home state pieces of outmoded junk should be kept in top shape, and no, we can’t shut down the Little Rock Air Force Base or you fill in the blanks.
But what really gets me is the lack of accountability. If an elected representative is going to waste a 200 billion dollars of taxpayer’s money, at least they should have the guts to stand up in a town hall meeting and defend their actions. Of course, you and I know they won’t, and what’s even worse, when it’s time to run for office again, they show up with their hands out, unless they are like Congressman Bruce Westerman, who has sugar daddies in the forestry companies, who since 2014 have kicked in $142,000 into campaign funds. Well, what a coincidence, do you think the super corporate friendly forestry bill he has introduced has anything to do with all that money? Environmentalists are lining up to oppose making our National Forests industry timber farms, and guess what? Surprise, surprise, the timber industry supports the bill. My God, Congressman, have you no shame? Why don’t you have the guts to show up for a Town Hall Meeting and answer some of you constitutions questions? Are you afraid some little gray-haired lady will hit you will a tough question, or do you just want to keep sucking the public tit without being held accountable for the way your voting?

Environmental Notes

ARKANSAS
BY
RICHARD MASON

Environmental Notes

Mountain Lions roam our woods.
I was sitting in my SUV at Walmart when a friend walked up and started a conversation. During the conversation, we talked about the dozens of mountain lion sightings in South Arkansas, and then he mentioned a confirmed sighting west of Magnolia of a female mountain lion with three cubs. There have been many other reports not only in South Arkansas, but in Northwest Arkansas near the Buffalo National River. Of course, the proof of mountain lions in Arkansas is the fact that last year a deer hunter killed one in Bradley County, and adding to the sighting in southwest Arkansas, a local doctor told me he and his wife had seen two mountain lions cross the road west of Magnolia.
I think the evidence is overwhelming, and we can conclusively state that we have somewhere around 20 to 30 cougars in our state, and based on a this recent sighting of a female with three cubs, we have a breeding population. I hope the Game and Fish Commission will take notice and admit the obvious. There is a breeding population of mountain lions in Arkansas, and since our ecosystem desperately needs to be rebalanced, they will put a hunting moratorium on the shooting of cougars with a $20,000 fine for a violation. If you agree send an email to Stan.Jones@agfc.ar.gov.
Mountain lions are in Arkansas because they have an extended range, and that is determined by the amount of prey available to the animals. All of the rivers in the United States from the Continental Divide in Colorado to the Appalachian Mountains flow east and south and the dense underbrush along the river banks gives the migrating cougars as easy path south and eastward along with excellent prey. The ultimate proof of how far a mountain lion can roam is the discovery of a mountain lion in New England this past year that was tagged in Colorado.
Of course, why mountain lions would come to Arkansas is also an easy answer: Feral hogs, possibly as many as a million, roam our woods, and they are a lot easier to catch than a spooked whitetail deer. Naturally, if we want to reduce our feral hog population, we should increase the number of animals that dine on hog meat. So hunters; for God’s sake don’t shoot a mountain lion, but nail every feral hog you see. Note the reasons below.
* * *
Feral Hogs are taking over. Since my column on feral hogs, I’ve heard from a whole raft of folks, and the consensus is that the problem boarders on catastrophic. A little figuring will shock you: In the several weeks since my column was published as many as 25,000 new feral hogs will have been added to Arkansas’s soaring hog population, and the bad news is most of these hogs will mature, and since the state is almost void of hog predators, the 12,500 extra sows will have three litters a year of a minimum of 6, which will add an estimated 225,000 feral hogs to the state over the next five year. Yes, and if you consider all the hogs, a population of over 2,000,000 is a minimum number that will roam our forest in five years, and you don’t have to be a math genius to see the impending disaster. The Game and Fish Commission needs to address this problem and put a bounty on feral hogs. Stan.Jones@agfc.ar.gov
* * *
Evolution is not a theory, it’s a fact, and that goes for global warming. Yes, global warming, which creates climate change is caused by human activity, and the California wildfires, mudslides, and hurricanes on the Gulf Coast have been intensified because of climate change. Of course, the earth is not 6000 years old, it’s several billion years old, it’s not flat and dinosaurs didn’t exist along with the first humans. Please don’t let your predetermined judgment cloud the facts about our planet, and when 98% of the scientific community says something, don’t embarrass yourself by saying you don’t believe them, and when a geologist tells you spreading hog manure on the Swiss Cheese Boone Limestone will pollute the Buffalo National River, don’t sound like a backwoods dumb-ass and say “Uh, well, you know, I don’t think the hog farm will pollute the Buffalo.” Yes, I have heard more than one uninformed, but intelligent person, say those very words.
* * *
Everything in the environment has a purpose, and as Chief Seattle once said, “Man is only a part of the thread of life, and what he does to the web he does to himself…..Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we cannot eat money.” Chief Seattle 1786 – 1866
Of course that means exterminating certain so called undesirable species such as wolves, cougars, bears, and yes, even snakes, has consequences. The ecology of the natural world is complex and intertwined, and when a species is removed it has a direct effect on other species. The current disappearance of our quail is an excellent example. We have removed most of the small size animal’s predators, and the population of raccoons, possums, armadillos, and feral hogs, has exploded.
Where have all our quail gone? The quail nests have been destroyed by this overwhelming increase in these quail egg-eating animals. So, if we ever want to hear a bobwhite whistle again, we will have to reduce the animals that prey on ground nesting birds. The only way to restore a damaged ecosystem is to repair the web of nature, and of course that means to restore the predators that prey on small quail egg eating animals. Anyone who thinks loss of habitat is the cause of the diminished quail population should get out from behind their desk and take a look at the millions of acres in our state with good quail habit that are void of quail. We need more bobcats, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, and wolves in our woods, and unless we rewild these animals into the fabric of our state, we will continue to have a disruptive ecosystem, which will be substantially less than if we returned to a harmony with nature. So when you see a coyote, bobcat, or any other predator that will help control the overabundance of feral hogs, quail eating raccoons, possums, and other overabundant small animals, don’t shoot them! But when you see a feral hog—blast away. By the way, the young piglets are a super edible part of the feral hog population, and if you really want to bring home a superior dining package, shoot the small piglets. If our restaurants would feature roast suckling pig on their menu, they’d have folks standing in line.

Dance With Who Brung Ya

Dance With Who Brung Ya

Of course that was a comment made by legendary Texas coach Darrell Royal back in the SWC days when someone asked if he was going to throw the ball more. Well, what does that have to do with Arkansas? Everything! We’re not dancing with who brung us. That’s right, we may say The Natural State, but we’re sure not dancing to the Natural State tune. We can’t expect to succeed in enhancing our quality of life if we don’t do The Natural State dance, and we’re not dancing. Yes, very simply put, if we really believe our natural beauty is the centerpiece of our state, then we’ll dance with Mother Nature instead of destroying our natural beauty. Of course, I could fill up this column, with examples such as “Hog farm on the Buffalo Watershed.” Of course, no one in their right mind, who gives a whit about our state’s natural beauty could possible thinks a hog farm on the Buffalo watershed is dancing with who brung ya. And just think about all the dozens of empty or near empty Industrial Parks that are bare, scraped off acres sitting there empty with only a lottery’s chance of ever seeing an actual plant or factory being located there. Yes, the list goes on and on, and everything on that list is basically anti-Natural State. Well, that’s the problem so how do we switch dancing partners?
It’s a simple question, and it has a simple answer, but making that change requires a total reversal of the way we approach almost everything we do here in Arkansas. Let me explain: We must approach our daily decisions whether big or small with the same question. Will this enhance the Natural State or will it diminish it? Of course the second part of that question is just as important. We must be pro-active and take an attitude of, what can I do to make the Natural State, well…more natural, and what can I do to stop those who are destroying the beauty of The Natural State.
I believe if we enhance our natural beauty and dance with who brung us, then all of the benefits of our natural beauty will not only be protected, but we will truly have a state where cities, towns, and woodlands will have an ever increasing quality of life, and those skilled, high tech professionals who are fed up with the traffic, pollution, etc in our mega cities will gravitate to a true Natural State, where they can have the enhanced quality of life everyone wants.
But that begs the question: What can the average or since we’re Arkansawyers, we’re all just a bit above average, do to enhance The Natural State? Let’s start with the small items that add up. In other words, by making a small addition every year compounded by thousands of others making similar additions. Well, about the most natural thing I can think of in our fair state is our trees. Yes, we have a lot of trees, but we have thousands upon thousands of blank places that are just crying for trees. Now before you point at that empty parking lot, check out your front yard. Remember, a great shade tree in your front yard can cut your utility bill by as much 25% and give the appraised value as much as a $10,000 boost. If you would like to join a tree planting group, the Little Rock Street Trees Association plants trees every year in Little Rock and they would love to have your help or donation.
Of course, every positive addition such as trees to The Natural State, adds to our quality of life and takes us a little closer to being the true natural state. Yes, the blank parking lots in every town in the state cries for greenery, and the “Stuck in the 50s Landlords” who think trees are fluff are keeping the shopping center tenants from reaching their stores potential. Government studies have confirmed the obvious: Landscaped shopping center do 25% more business than blank lots.
But it’s not just a unlandscaped shopping center, it’s everything that for a better word, is—ugly. Let me define ugly in a Natural State way. If you look down your gateway street into your town is it ugly? Is it full of garish oversized signs? Are the utility wires cluttering the treeless street? Yes, it easy to see ugly, if you pay attention to your surroundings, but that part of the problem. We just blank out those ugly scenes with thoughts such as “It would cost too much.” Or, “It’s not important.” Or “Trees would just get in the way and maybe I couldn’t see the 60 foot tall McDonalds’s sign.” But let’s face it folks, we’re not leading the pack in good taste and environmental progress. No, we’re bottom feeders, who ignore cities who are making quality of life improves. All of the items I have mentioned are already in place in progressive towns, and we’ll catch up someday—maybe. But we need to start. And as our population becomes more pro-active, it will happen. So why not be a troublemaker and start insisting on some of the obvious additions to our state that will bring us up to the Natural State image? Trouble makers? Yep, when you go to a city council meeting in Arkansas and start insisting on a sign ordinance or planting trees, or putting utilities underground, you will be called a “Troublemaker”
Of course, being pro-active is more than planting trees. It also consists of opposing things that are detrimental to our ecosystem. A good example is the forestry bill proposed by Congressman Bruce Westerman. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many other who don’t want our National Forests to become corporate timber farms, is that you should oppose the bill, and if Congressman Westerman thinks it is such a great bill, come down to El Dorado and hold a Town Hall meeting to explain the bill. “Congressman, just give me a date, and I’ll reserve the largest facility in South Arkansas for the Town Hall meeting, and I’ll guarantee you a “great” crowd.

The Day My Daddy Cried

The Day My Daddy Cried
October 25th, 1948
Well, I’m really upset, so just listen up, and I’ll tell you why. About this time last year, I was standing out in my front yard, when I heard our neighbor across the road, Mr. Lonnie Henley, just a-hollering, “Richard, head off that old sow of mine! She’s done busted out of her pen again!”
I looked down toward the El Dorado highway, and that old sow was cuttin’ a shuck heading my way.
“Yeaaaah! Souie! Get!” I yelled.
Well, that hog did a u-turn, and headed straight up the highway, and then I heard, “Hoonk! Hoooonk” A big tank truck was heading for me and that stupid pig. I jumped out of the way, but that pig went straight to hog heaven. Mr. Lonnie came up and pulled the pig off to the side of the road, and my daddy, who had heard all the yelling and honking, walked up, and then Mr. Lonnie said, “Well, Jack, I’m gonna cut off the hind quarters for hams, but that’s all I can use. If you want any of what’s left, help yourself.”
Daddy nodded, “Richard, go get a hatchet, butcher knife, and one of your momma’s big dish pans.” Naw, ‘round our house nothing goes to waste, so I hurried home and in a few minutes I was there with all the stuff we needed, and as Mr. Lonnie loaded up the hind quarters and Daddy and I filled our dishpan with what was left, Mr. Lonnie said to Daddy, “Jack, that old sow done had a littler of six, and they ain’t big ‘nough to fend for themselves. I’d give you a couple if you’d like to raise ‘em.”
Well, I was all for it, but Daddy shook his head. “Richard, your Momma and I would be taking care of those piglets, after you got tired of ‘em.”
“No sir, I promise, cross my heart and hope to die, if I don’t take care of the little pigs.”
Finally, after three more “No s”, I dropped down to one pig, and when Daddy hesitated, I offered to wash the car. “Yes.” And off we went to Mr. Lonnie’s busted down hog pen.
Heck, which pig to pick was hard, but finally I pointed to one with three white feet.
I’ll admit it. I did exactly what Daddy said I was going to do, and after about two weeks I got tired of fooling with the little pig. Daddy took it out to the barn and put it in the stall with our two mules. I kinda figured he was hoping one of our mules would step on Mr. Pig. Yeah, that’s what I named him.
Okay, the mules didn’t step on Mr. Pig, in fact, after a few weeks, they really took to him, and he would trot around the farm with the mules like he was one of ‘em.
As soon as Mr. Pig got a little bigger, it would stand by the barn gate to wait for Daddy to come in from work, and I kinda wondered why, and then one afternoon I watched as Daddy took out a carrot and gave it to Mr. Pig. Well, as the weeks past, Daddy and Mr. Pig went everywhere together.
Well, it was a late October day when I heard something that really upset me. I’d finished my paper route, and as I started to walk into the kitchen, Momma said, “Jack, there’s a strong cold front blowing in tomorrow, and temperature is going to drop down below freezing—hog killing weather.”
“What?” Heck, we’ve raised hogs most years, but this year we didn’t raise any….but…no, no.
“Momma, what are you talkin’ ‘bout?” I had this really bad feeling, and Daddy said, “Richard, that’s just what folks say after a cold snap.”
Naw, I didn’t believe him, but Daddy was working graveyards, and since he had worked all night, he headed for the bedroom.
I was up the next morning at five, a north wind was whistling, and the danged paper route was worse than horrible. I finished about 6, ate breakfast, and headed for the chicken yard to feed the chickens. That’s when I started getting really upset. Mr. Tommy Benton and Daddy were there, and they’d built a fire under a black wash pot, and Mr. Benton had a .22 rifle. Then it hit me. They’re getting ready to butcher a hog—Mr. Pig. Yeah, I went into a panic, ran around to the back of the barn, and let Mr. Pig out.
“Get, souie! Get!” Mr. Pig trotted off toward the swamp, and I ran back around to where Daddy and Mr. Benton were standing. About that time Daddy walked over to the barn to get Mr. Pig, but no Mr. Pig. Then Daddy kinda nodded and looked at me. Yeah, he’d it figured out.
“Richard, go finish feeding the chickens.”
In a couple of minutes, I was throwing chops to about thirty old hens and one mean rooster, and that’s when I heard Daddy banging on the feed bucket. I stopped breathing for about a minute, and then there was this awful sound of a rifle. I headed for the feed lot, and then, as I rounded the corner, our mules started going crazy. Yeah, Mr. Pig had been shot and Mr. Benton was already cutting ‘em up. Course, I squalled out and ran up to Daddy and yelled, “Why did you kill Mr. Pig? He was part of our family!”
Daddy didn’t say anything, but he took me by the arm, and we walked around behind the barn.
“Son, I hated to butcher that pig as much as you do, but we live on a farm, and we just can’t have pet animals. That pig will help us get through the winter by providing meat. I know you’re upset and I am to…”
Then as my Daddy turned around, I could see tears just dripping down his face. He took a deep breath, looked down at me, and said, “Richard, you’re old enough to understand how things are on a farm, so let’s go back around to the feedlot, and help Tommy dress and put up that hog.”
Well, yeah, it was hard to do, but after a while I got over being upset, and I helped scald the pig in that pot of boiling water to remove the hair, and the later I helped Daddy carry the hind quarters to the smokehouse where we hung them up to smoke. We didn’t get finished till late in the day, and I was resting up in my room when I heard Momma, “Richard, Jack…come to the table; supper’s ready.”
Wow, I was so hungry and whatever Momma was cooking smelled so good, I could hardly wait. I walked in the kitchen, and Daddy gave me a little shoulder hug and said, “Richard, you were a lot of help today.”
I made a small smile and we sat down as Momma walked over from the stove with a big platter, and when I took a good look at it, I just sank down in my chair—pork chops.

Money Isn’t Everything

Money Isn’t Everything

Tell me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the overriding goal of a society to steadily improve the quality of life of its people? Of course, everyone would agree with that statement, but the how-to’s are the sticky question, and there are as many answers to that question as they are countries in the world. Yes, and each county’s leadership would tell you their methods of achieving an enhanced quality of life, is the way to go.
I’m a red, white, and blue American entrepreneur, a free market proponent, and a small business owner. I’m convinced the opportunities to make a profit here in the good old USA is the key to our great standard of living and a super quality of life. However, the American dream to have a high standard of living and to make a lot of money in order to achieve our dream must have its limits. In other words, we can’t possibly be allowed to do virtually anything to make a dollar. A whole host of things do not only have a negative effect on our quality of life, but many times have a debilitating effect on the individual. The list is as long as your arm; drugs, prostitution, etc. you could add hundreds of items, but the gray areas are the ones I want to address. It’s basically the trade for short-term profit, to the long-term detriment of a quality life. Let’s look at some examples. First in Arkansas: By allowing the factory hog farm to ultimately pollute the National Buffalo River, the politicians and other short-sighted individuals are willing to let the need to make a profit take president over protecting the river. (News Flash! New Permit Denied! Evidently, protecting the River took precedent over making money.) Now, let’s look at a bigger picture: Coal mining and coal fired plants; that combination is one of the major contributors to climate change. Of course climate change is real, and saying it’s not happening is right up there with the Flat Earth Society, and what is even worst, the climate change deniers are doing it to make a profit. They know better! They are willing to trade our grandchildren’s and great grandchildren’s future for coal mining profits. The horrors of climate change during the next 20 to 30 years will be catastrophic, and anyone who supports coal-fired electrical generating plants, is committing a crime against humanity. Yes, you heard me. What our grandchildren and great grandchildren will have to put up with is criminal. However, in order to continue to destroy the environment it becomes cliché to deny climate change, where they can continue to create a horrible world for our grandchildren’s children..
I grew up in and around Norphlet, a small town in South Arkansas, which is almost in the middle of the South Arkansas oilfields, and the last time I checked there was a pumping oil well right in the middle of town. I guess being associated with the oilfields and working in a refinery during my college summers had a big influence on my ultimate choice of professions, and today I’m still working as an oil and gas exploration geologist looking for new oil and gas fields.
However, things have changed since I was a young boy roaming the woods and fishing in the creeks of South Arkansas. As soon as I was old enough to hunt in the woods and swim in the creeks, I was faced with an environmental nightmare. In the 1940s and 50s many parts of South Arkansas producing oil wells dumped the salt water that was produced with the oil into the nearest creek. Because many of these older wells were producing several 100 barrels of salt water a day along with the oil, a tremendous amount of salt water was being dumped into the streams of South Arkansas. Of course, growing up where this was an accepted practice, to a young boy, it was just considered part of the way things were. The creeks that received the salt water became lifeless without any living thing in them, and when the spring rains came and the creeks overflowed their banks, the land, sometimes as much as 50 yards on either side of the creek, became as lifeless as the creek, and in the summer as the sun dried up the water a thin layer of salt covered this lifeless part of the creeks drainage.
Let’s fast-forward to 2017. Today the creeks are full of life, the salt flats are gone, Mother Nature has restored the vegetation, and the saltwater that once made them lifeless is pumped back deep in the subsurface. Well, sure it costs a little more to dispose of the saltwater in this manner, but today, the idea that you would dump saltwater into the nearest creek is unthinkable, and that is the way it should be. There are practices in industry that are detrimental to the environment and to the health of our citizens. It’s trite to say, we should steadily seek to reduce the hazards to our health and to the environment in our society, just as the dumping of salt water into the creeks in South Arkansas. As a country we should steadily move forward with improving our environment, which automatically increases our quality of life, and as our industry prospers and profits soar, the society as a whole should tighten the restrictions against polluting our environment instead of loosening them.
In fact that is exactly what has happened over the past 50 + years. We have cleaner air to breathe, better quality water, and our land use has steadily improved, and in making the USA the economic powerhouse of the world, we have succeeded in not only raising our standard of living through economic progress, but we have created a cleaner, healthier country, which is the envy of the world.
Of all the things in this country that should be bipartisan, our quality of life should always be something Republicans and Democrats alike can embrace. That has been the case during the administration of presidents from Ronald Regan forward. However, the present administration is trying to undo the progress made by Ronald Regan, the Bushes, Clinton, and Obama. Yes, a great deal of the environmental progress to give us a higher standard of living happened under a Republican administration.
Today, unemployment is at a record low and corporate profits are soaring. If anything, we should be strengthen our environmental standards to continue the improvement of our quality of life, but we’re not. This administration is systematically stripping the EPA of critical regulations, cutting its budget, and by allowing the goal to make money take precedent over environmentally policies, it is steadly reducing our quality of life.

Yes, I’m a Southern Boy!

Yes, I’m a Southern Boy!
Well, I’m a southerner born and raised in the south, and I wouldn’t live anywhere else. Now let me tell you why: Naturally, living with other southerners is on top of my list, and it’s easy to see why being surrounded by other like-kind folks is so positive. It’s because, within every southerner, there is a streak of open hospitality that is just a natural part of our being. I know saying ‘southern hospitality’ is trite, but it’s true, and there are thousands of examples to prove my point. A wave from a pickup truck driver on a back road to a young girl holding a door open for an elderly man, exemplifies the best part of a southerner’s character. Yes, it’s really who we are, and it’s a big piece of why living in the south is so pleasant, and of course, the best looking women in the country live in the south. Now, I know that going to rub a few transplanted Yankees the wrong way, but let’s just be honest: Name a New England State that can match Arkansas, Mississippi, or Texas in the number of Miss Americas’. Well, not only are Southern gals gorgeous, but by living in the South their conversations can vary from former country girls talking about struggling to get by when they were young, to dining out in New York City. I went to several Christmas parties, and one of the best was sitting around a table for five with four neat southern women. The conversations ranged from tequila stories to working on a Bradley County tomato farm, and it was a delightful evening.
Yes, I know just being from the south can throw a predisposition from a snooty New York waiter, if you’re in dining at a Le Restaurant, but I smile when I think about ordering escargots, and I know while I can dine with the best of them in New York City, they would be lost in what to order from the menu at the Superior Grill in Shreveport. Bill Clinton had to overcome that during his first term in office, and yes, that attitude does gives us southerners something of a chip on our shoulders.
We southerner aren’t perfect, but I’d rather live with our shortcomings in a trade for just living with other southerners. I know we pay The University football coach several times of what we pay the University President, but University Presidents are a dime a dozen, and a football coach who can win six or more SEC games is probably worth several million more than the President. At least that what we’re saying when the morons in Northwest Arkansas negotiate football coach contracts, and when southerners vote for Trump it’s because we don’t mind the lying or voting against our economic interest, it’s southerners are telling New York, California, and the rest the World to “Go to hell,” and that, whether you are a Southern Democrat or a Republican, rings a deep-seated bell in every southerner, whose grandmother or great grandmother raised you with a southern chip on your shoulder.
I think southerners live a more varied and fuller life because we live in the south. Just to give you an example, we had some New York friends over for dinner one night and the conversation turned to guns, and he asked, “Do you have any guns?” To ask an Arkansawyer if he or she owns guns is like asking a fish if it swims. Of course, I said “Yes” He asked, “Really, how many?” And then before I could answer, he said, “Did you just buy your gun” I answered, “No, my dad bought me my first gun, a Mossberg .20 gauge when I was 8, and later a Sweet .16, and of course I have a couple of twenty-twos,”…Well, I stopped before I got to the pistols because he was looking at me like you might react to someone in an Arab headdress carrying a violin case getting on an airplane. Yes, living in the semi-rural south—And every town under 50,000 is semi-rural—opens up an opportunity to drive 30 minute to a river or lake to fish, and most southerner can walk to a wooded area to hunt. It’s a southern bonus we take for granted, and southern forests are the greatest expanse of trees in the country. Wow, our trees sure add to our quality of life.
Now let’s talk about the weather, and yes the south is sometimes so hot and humid that you think you’re living in a sauna, but the good Lord gave us the ability to sweat, and I’d rather sweat a bucket full than freeze my ass off in North Dakota, or this year anywhere north of Fayetteville. Yes, we do have a little rough weather occasionally, but I’ll take an occasional tornado over earthquakes and wildfires. Heck, I like to be surprised by the weather, and southern weather keeps you from being bored. My best thoughts around southern weather revolve around a beautiful, southern spring after a cold winter where the temperature dipped down below 30 for a few nights.
Yep, living in the South is just about as good as it gets, and I not leaving anytime soon.