medical marijuananursing home reform

Letters to the editor: Nov. 4

November 4, 2013 

Cartoon on target

I loved Joel Pett's "Couldn't get a sitter" cartoon, which ran in the Idaho Statesman. Keep up the great work. Republicans should be tried for treason because they put our national security in jeopardy.

President Abraham Lincoln spoke of the need "to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan." Yet, the jihadist Republicans shut down our government, and we had to borrow money to pay Afghan war veterans' death benefits.

"May our children and our children's children to a thousand generations, continue to enjoy the benefits conferred upon us by a united country, and have cause yet to rejoice under those glorious institutions bequeathed us by Washington and his compeers," said Lincoln.

Today, if a Republican called Lincoln father of the GOP, Lincoln would sue him or her.

William C. Kibble

Retired Air Force captain

Boise, Idaho


NURSING HOME REFORM

Reasons to be offended

Ruby Jo Cummins Lubarsky, president of the Kentucky Association of Healthcare Facilities, is offended —"gravely" offended — that a volunteer advocate for nursing home residents described those who abuse or neglect the elderly as committing "crimes against humanity."

The attack was in no way directed at loving or hard-working caregivers. Nor was it focused on homes that provide quality care.

It was directed at those who abuse or neglect the elderly, those who systematically slash budgets while reaping obscene profits, and those who stand idly by to let it happen.

In light of that, one must wonder why the phrase so gravely offended.

Was it the word humanity? Surely, we can all agree that our loved ones deserve to be treated like the treasures they are.

Was it the word crime?

Certainly, allowing someone to starve to death or beating them or letting them lie helplessly in their own feces until painful sores develop is a crime — or at least it should be.

I simply cannot share her outrage. I do, however, take offense at the fact that many nursing homes remain in deplorable conditions and too few people seem to really care.

Lubarsky and her group routinely work against mandatory background checks and work for limits to their responsibilities.

When was the last time a nursing home owner was taken away in handcuffs for allowing abuse or neglect? The law doesn't allow it. It's called corporate immunity.

But Lubarsky's association wants to ensure that those who hurt the elderly can't even be taken to civil court.

Now that is something at which we should all be offended — gravely offended.

State Sen. Ray S. Jones

Pikeville

Caregivers not industry concern

Leave it to a generously paid nursing home industry lobbyist to deflect the slap aimed at their bean counters who place profits before people and redirect it onto their overworked and underpaid staff.

If they genuinely cared about their caregivers, they'd hire enough of them so these dedicated souls could provide good care, without injuring themselves and their residents.

Nursing home reform advocates have pushed for a staffing standards bill in Kentucky for years. Industry lobbyists fight back with their checkbooks, providing campaign contributions to legislators who keep those bills from seeing the light of day.

I know what it is like to work in nursing homes. I know that dedicated caregivers, who have a true regard for old people, must struggle daily with staffing and supply shortages. I know what it is like to love nursing home residents, and it is in their memory that I insist we do better for them.

Lobbyist Ruby Jo Lubarsky's reference to "predatory personal injury lawyers" foreshadows their plans for the 2014 legislative session.

They will take another stab at stripping nursing home residents of their right to a trial by jury in the event of neglect, abuse or wrongful deaths. It is up to every one of us to make sure that doesn't happen.

Finally, Lubarsky chastises the Herald-Leader for printing my piece that criticized their industry. Fortunately for us, there are still some things in our society their money can't buy.

Jan Scherrer

Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform

Versailles


A small brain trying to decipher Paul's political moves

So Sen. Rand Paul thinks liberals "have really big hearts but very small brains." And, he said, "you have to think through the consequences" of public policies.

My particular brain can't reconcile Paul representing a state with more than its share of families who struggle financially and at the same time taking contributions from the American Bankers Association — a lobby for tax breaks for banks and harsher bankruptcy laws.

Nor can my brain understand why Paul takes contributions from Blue Cross/Blue Shield — the insurance association that lobbies for more lenient treatment of Medicare fraud after having been fined $340 million over two decades for such fraud.

Finally, my brain can't fathom Paul's acceptance of contributions from Alliance Resource Partners, a company that has been cited repeatedly by federal mine safety officials for violations of mining safety laws. A "war on coal miners" maybe?

I've thought through the consequences of Paul's public policy preferences and decided that, though I won't claim to understand his brain, he is in no danger of having too large a heart.

Robert Shimer

Lexington


Fact-challenged spin

When reading Rep. Andy Barr's Oct. 21 column defending his "no" vote on ending the shutdown and raising the debt limit, one gets the uneasy feeling there's something badly wrong with it.

It's skillfully written, to be sure, but the overwhelming impression it leaves is of a work of deceptive political rhetoric, also known as bull manure.

A little research reveals that the piece is built around a major falsehood. Barr writes, "According to the Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare will cost American taxpayers $48 billion in 2014 and nearly $2 trillion over the next decade."

A look at the CBO's website, however, reveals its July 2012 conclusion that repealing Obamacare would add $109 billion to federal budget deficits over the 10-year period from 2013 to 2022. It also reveals its May 2013 conclusion that taking all of the law's provisions into account, the net effect will be to reduce the budget deficit.

In his ceaseless effort to make himself look good politically, Barr has gone beyond spin.

Geoffrey M. Young

Green Party candidate, 6th Congressional District

Lexington


Barr on wrong course

Congressmen Andy Barr writes to the Herald-Leader attempting to portray his positions as reasonable. His latest column is the false equivalency between the Affordable Care Act and shutting down the government.

Out of 234 Republican Congress members, only 80 — Barr being one of them — signed an Aug. 21 letter to House Speaker John Boehner demanding the law be defunded or the government shut down.

Barr joins a distinguished list of Tea Party Congress members headed by the likes of Reps. Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, Steve King and Ted Yoho — deep thinkers all. Contrast that to the other 154 Republicans who wouldn't sign the letter. Even Mitch McConnell wouldn't endorse a comparable measure in the Senate.

Barr claims the president shut down the government because he wouldn't accede to their demands to keep the government open by defunding the law.

After 42 failed efforts to repeal the law, the approach of the 80 was to resort to budget extortion. This was so unpopular they were scrambling to pass individual funding bills to restore popular government programs. Deep thinkers in action.

Barr justifies his actions by claiming he is merely following the wishes of his constituents. I doubt the electorate of the 6th District wanted the government shut down.

In 2012, Barr never told the voters he was a Tea Party loyalist; in 2014 that won't be necessary because you are known by the company you keep.

James F. Wisniewski

Lexington


Pipeline propaganda

I was saddened and also amused by the full-page ad run by Williams Co. and partners about the incredible benefits to all Kentuckians if we just trust them and let them run their pipeline through our farms and beneath the rivers that supply our drinking water.

They tell us the pipeline will create an economic boom and give us "energy independence."

Many of the gases running through their pipeline are used in plastics production, and most of these plastics are to be sold overseas.

As for the jobs claim, in all of their previous projects, the companies have used their own teams to perform up to 80 percent of the work, which is temporary in nature.

The tax revenue they claim will result is the amount to be collected over a 10-year period, not each year as they imply.

I don't have space here to cover the number of safety violations and accidents, one of which, in 2013, resulted in two deaths and massive damage to property, not to mention pollution to waterways and air.

When there is a leak, these gases are highly flammable and invisible, so they can go undetected until they become serious. The mostly rural areas the pipeline will run through are ill-equipped to handle these types of emergencies.

Ignore the propaganda. What's more important — a small number of temporary jobs and a few bucks in the public till, or the safety of our citizens and the quality and beauty of our land, water and air?

Sean Detisch

Alexandria


McConnell passes buck

Sen. Mitch McConnell's recent commentary put the blame for the drastic loss of coal mining jobs everywhere but where it belongs.

He should look in the mirror. He has been in the Senate for 28 years, during which Kentucky's coal mining jobs dropped from 30,000 to 14,000.

Last year alone, Kentucky lost 4,000 jobs in the coalfields. In fact, those important jobs decreased in number for each of his terms. If, as a major player in Washington, he can't stop the job hemorrhaging in his home state, why should we keep electing him?

Excuse the sports metaphor, but if a coach has a losing record for 28 consecutive years, isn't it time for a fresh face on the bench?

Kenn Johnson

Mount Sterling


MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Let the doctors decide

Regarding Frank Rapier's Oct. 21 op-ed: While there have been studies showing that marijuana can shrink cancerous tumors, medical marijuana is essentially a palliative drug.

If a doctor recommends marijuana to a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy and it helps them feel better, then it's working.

In the end, medical marijuana is a quality-of-life decision best left to patients and their doctors.

Drug warriors waging war on non-corporate drugs contend that organic marijuana is not an effective health intervention.

Their prescribed intervention for medical marijuana patients is handcuffs, jail cells and criminal records.

This heavy-handed approach suggests that drug warriors should not be dictating health care decisions.

It's long past time to let doctors decide what is right for their patients; sick patients should not be jailed for daring to seek relief from marijuana.

Robert Sharp

policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C.


Too much misinformation

Frank Rapier of the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area based in London wrote an op-ed that was full of misinformation about marijuana.

He claimed that anxiety and stress were not valid reasons for medication, yet many Americans take anti-depressants simply to put themselves in a better mood.

Anti-depressants have a far worse list of side effects than marijuana.

He also claimed that today's marijuana is not the same as marijuana from the '70s. Nobody has created anything new; today's strains were bred from the strains of yesterday. THC is THC; nothing has changed.

If pot has higher potency it is actually a good thing. It means you can have the same effect with less smoke or you can eat less of it.

I would like to ask Rapier a few questions:

■ Your never-ending task force has spent millions of dollars and imprisoned thousands of people during the past few decades, why have you failed to eliminate marijuana?

■ Our nation has spent trillions of dollars and imprisoned millions of people trying to eliminate marijuana. Why have they failed?

■ How many more millions of dollars do we have to spend and how many people do we have to put in prison to make marijuana just go away?

■ Seventy-eight percent of Americans support medical marijuana. What makes you think you are smarter than them?

Ron Osburn

Winchester

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