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I'm plopped in a rocking chair on the front porch at twilight, sipping a peach-flavored beverage and contemplating the state of our troubled nation. My thoughts turn to recent stories about our White House being completely refurbished from the floors to furnishings.

It took 200 workers between Aug. 4 and 20 to sweep through the East and West wings with their tools and brushes. I read the president even hand-picked the wallpaper.

So there I sit swaying and frying in my thoughts with the aroma of burned rubber drifting from each ear. Suddenly I recall how many mysterious leaks have plagued this president's administration of late. And how he took off on a 17-day working vacation while the remodeling was underway. And how his detractors and enemies always knew far too much about his business within short periods. And how one White House spokesperson was quoted saying this work was "more out of necessity than cosmetic."

And then it strikes me what an absolutely ideal time (and convenient excuse) it would have been to cloak a real unspoken reason for this project: Sweeping every wall, floor, ceiling and piece of furniture for eavesdropping bugs in all sizes and locations.

It was only a thought from an Ozark front porch as night insects began their serenades, valued readers. But who knows? Our new and improved White House could be even cleaner than we imagine nowadays.

Speaks for thousands

If you've never met the straight-shootin' Duane Woltjen, you've missed knowing an Arkansan from Fayetteville who's passionately dedicated to preserving and protecting our unique and precious Buffalo National River.

So it was no surprise to me that he joined who knows how many other citizens of our state in response to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality's (wheeze) recent website call for public response to their job performance.

Duane sent the following, which I feel compelled to share with the thousands who undoubtedly feel likewise about this agency's actions in wrongheadedly permitting and protecting C&H Hog Farms in the national river's watershed. Making matters worse, the department is now considering a new operating permit for this place that holds up to 6,500 hogs and continually sprays millions of gallons of raw manure in fields along a major tributary of the Buffalo six miles away.

"Mike--I finally responded to the subject survey, but respective to the Directors Office [Becky Keogh] rather than Water Quality ... I assume she supervises and is responsible for the actions of Water Quality. The following were my comments:

"Your denial of karst at C&H Hog Farm exemplifies your denial of clear and obvious scientific facts, your bias against the public interest in order to favor harmful agriculture enterprise practices, and astounding disregard for the tourism industry respective to the Buffalo National River.

"Now you have another C&H permit application before you, respective to which you have received many thousands of very informed letters from knowledgeable experts in their fields and ordinary citizens opposing issuance of another operating permit, but you are apparently stalling responding to them for fear of being confirmed as the malfeasant frauds you are.

"I hope for a miracle such as rescinding the existing permit and denial of the pending permit for C&H, or your resignation en masse."

Personal responsibility

Reader Ron Richardson said my recent column on the complexities of soaring health-care costs in our country missed one important point, perhaps even the most important of all: having a third-party system.

"For example, you've heard someone say I work for the XYZ corporations and their benefits are great! I pay nothing for health care. Well, suddenly you see when something has the appearance of free to the consumer then there is no concern for costs. The consumer isn't involved in the process.

"Strange that something you purchase is something most today feel someone else should pay for: [their] health care. It's a personal responsibility issue, as well ... I do agree with most comments in your article ... Lots of food for thought."

Use cartel cash

I see the national media has returned to publicly cussing (and rarely rationally discussing) the wall Donald Trump promised he'd build along the border with Mexico. His campaign spiel was that Mexico would pay for this wall to enhance security in our nation.

And now comes the media's 10,000 paper cuts inflicted on the president over who will really pay when and if the wall gets built. It's a certainty the language involved in whatever Trump says will be tortured and politically spun for distribution, as has become the case in virtually every word he tweets or utters.

All that aside, the best idea I've heard for covering expenses in building a "big, beautiful" wall is to use the billions of dollars confiscated from Mexican drug cartels. There's plenty. I see notorious drug lord "El Chapo" Guzman's empire reportedly had at least $14 billion itself. What's happening with all that money today?


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at

Editorial on 09/03/2017

Print Headline: Bugs and Buffalo

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