Letters to the editor, Dec. 4, 2013

December 4, 2013 

Facebook shunning shows coal group's true agenda

In a recent exchange on the West Virginia Coal Association Facebook page, it became apparent the coal industry does not want people knowing about the recent ABC News investigation, "Big Money, Black Lung and Doctors for the Coal Companies."

When a group of people (many of whom are from the coalfields) began posting links to the investigation on the WVCA Facebook, the links were deleted and the people were banned. The WVCA called those posting the links a "radical anti-coal crowd" and "spammers."

The WVCA then stated they would be willing to engage in thoughtful discussions, however, many of the thoughtful comments from people with opposing opinions were deleted and those people were banned. At one point, the WVCA made reference to Berea College, stating to one of the participants, "you are a student from Berea. Please spare us the pretense of caring about coal miners."

As a former fourth-generation coal miner and Berea College student, I care about coal miners. How could it be said that those who posted the link do not care about coal miners? They were in fact attempting to inform coal miners on the site that coal companies are funding doctors who deny black lung benefits to coal miners.

If the WVCA (originators of the "Friends of Coal" campaign) truly cared about coal miners and their families, they would be working to inform miners of the unscrupulous denial of black-lung benefits, not deleting posts about it.

Nick MullinsBerea

Misleading on marijuana

A writer made some false claims in his anti-marijuana letter. I would like to correct these errors.

He claimed that "most people who are for marijuana legalization are the ones who use drugs illegally." Some 78 percent of Americans favor legalizing medical marijuana, and 58 percent want it legalized for recreational purposes. So he was obviously wrong.

He says that one joint is as harmful as five cigarettes. Cigarettes cause cancer, marijuana does not cause cancer. He again was wrong.

He claimed that marijuana caused birth defects, another false claim. There is no proof whatsoever that marijuana causes birth defects.

He said that, "legalizing medical marijuana is not the cure for America." Yet millions of people use it as a cure for pain, nausea, lack of appetite, fibromyalgia, glaucoma and dozens of other conditions with a doctor's prescription. For those millions of people it is a cure.

He then repeated the typical "gateway" nonsense that if you smoke a joint you will want heroin. More than half of Americans have smoked pot, and less than 1 percent of Americans use heroin. His claim is clearly false.

This guy's letter is why Americans no longer support the war on marijuana -- it is based on lies.

The real question is not whether you want pot legalized, it is whether you want the government to capture your neighbors from their homes in the night, seize their property and throw them into Gulags because they like a plant.

Ellen McGrady


What's your plan, GOP?

All of my Republican representatives — senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, and Rep. Andy Barr — are adamantly opposed to the new health care law, but not one has a suggestion for an alternative.

Should we assume that they prefer our totally inadequate and expensive system that preceded Obamacare?

I have contacted all three and advised them to pay attention to the wise comments by former Gov. Mitt Romney that the Israelis pay only about a third as much as we do per person for health care.

I suggested they ask the Israelis to come to the U.S. to show us how they perform this excellent service so cheaply, but not one of the congressmen has had the courtesy to respond.

The Israelis would surely be willing to do this for us in return for the $5 billion-plus that we taxpayers give that rich country each year in foreign aid. Alternatively, the congressmen could learn from any of the Western European countries, all of which provide excellent health care for their citizens at about half the cost of what we pay.

Does anybody know why the Republicans prefer our expensive health-care system? Could it be that they are unduly influenced by the drug and insurance companies?

Lowell Bouma


Why Paul plagiarizes

I read with interest a recent commentary in the Herald-Leader regarding Rand Paul's effort to introduce diversity into the GOP. In it, I discovered just why he feels the need to borrow from the thoughts of others. When left to his own devices it comes out in the following way: "We've got to look like the rest of America. We've got to do it with tattoos, without tattoos, with earrings, with ponytails, everybody." And: "I'm still for all the things I'm for."

He suggests that the GOP should essentially use appearances and rhetoric, rather than substance and conviction to woo votes. Americans are living, breathing, thinking, feeling, hoping, loving, dreaming and hurting people — not simply voters.

The GOP has systematically divided and alienated, and the result is the Republicans' Tea Party. The GOP has put a lot of effort into establishing a false reality, encouraging a distrust of liberals, experts, scientists and academics. Districts have been redrawn so dramatically that the conservative bloc has eliminated any hope of a fair election. The Supreme Court has ruled in their favor regarding campaign financing, voting rights and defining a corporation as a person.

There are still only two principal parties in America. One is dominated by big business and so-called corporate individuals, the other is dominated by we the people.

As a Democrat, I choose we the people any day.

I suppose you could say, in the words of Paul, "I'm still for all the things I'm for."

Michael Austin

Stamping Ground

City knows, doesn't act

Ball Homes has carefully crafted their final plan for the Harvey Property, near Dogwood Trace and Firebrook, to comply with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Goverment's Comprehensive Plan.

Planning and the council have shown Ball Homes unusual sympathy throughout numerous reviews and public meetings, where opposition and problems have been publically detailed. There remain important points that need to be examined.

State agencies have documented a Native American burial site on the property. The proposed connection to Dogwood Trace's Agape Drive is currently impossible and ultimately inappropriate by all standards. Access is blocked by private land and it is too narrow.

Residents oppose additional traffic or preventing on-street parking. The 300-year old burr oak situated at the proposed entrance is historically significant, rare and endangered by anticipated traffic. Access via Old Schoolhouse Lane and Military Pike at Harrodsburg Road is tight, convoluted and dangerous.

The housing density calculations and the zone change request were incorrect because of inclusion of other land already zoned at the time of the application. Ball Homes, the city council and Planning Commission know all of these things.

Why then does the plan continue to receive the city's blessing? Is there more to this review and approval process than we know? Could Ball Homes and other developers in the Lexington area have an ace up their sleeves?

Roger Marion


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