Clinton's acceptance of responsibility doesn't mean hands are clean
I am not a big fan of Sen. Rand Paul, but the rhetorical beating he took in letters published Jan. 27 is unwarranted.
Seven letters condemned his treatment of Secretary Hillary Clinton at the recent Benghazi hearing and not one letter supported his comments.
One writer's letter contained a correct thesis: Good leaders don't throw their subordinates "under the bus." But it incorrectly concluded that Clinton didn't do just that.
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In fact she relieved Assistant Secretary Eric Boswell, Deputy Assistant Secretary Charlene Lamb and Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell for "performance inadequacies."
Contrast that performance with Secretary of Defense Les Aspin in 1993. In September of that year, Aspin denied a request from the U.S. commander in Somalia for tanks and gunships to help protect his troops in their fight against Somali rebels. In October, U.S. forces lost 18 soldiers in the "Blackhawk Down" incident. In December, Aspin resigned.
Clinton seems to think that because she "accepts responsibility" her hands are clean. Ambassadors are the personal representatives in their respective countries of the president. Ambassadors work for the secretary, not her staff. So for her to say that she never saw Ambassador Chris Stevens' cables expressing his concerns about the security of his mission implies that she was either disengaged or indifferent to his requests.
Either way, she should not be allowed to use her personal popularity and feigned indignation to escape culpability for this tragic incident.
David L. Patton
Pension promise betrayed
After 16 years of service to Kentucky in law enforcement, I was forced to retire under hazardous-duty disability after being shot by a felon with a fully automatic weapon. All this time I paid into the retirement system fund to cover just such an occurance.
Now the Kentucky Retirement System has found a way to shore up its ailing bank account by robbing me and more than a thousand other retirees of what is rightfully ours. Even though we are all under the age of 65, the retirement system took away our long-standing health insurance and forced us over to a Medicare part B plan where we now must pay $1,200 a year for doctor services.
In short, they want to balance the budget on the backs of the disabled; those who gave the most to the citizens of this state.
In the 10 years it will take me to reach 65, I will have paid $12,000 out of pocket. My figures come from the Social Security office and the lady there was appalled at what the retirement system had done.
I realize there are thousands without insurance and on Medicaid, but understand I paid for this in advance out of my paycheck when I did work. It was insurance and security for when I retired or could not work.
It was a benefit I was promised and one of the reasons I took the job. Honesty today is out the window and gone.
Assault rifles not the problem
In the wake of the tragic Newtown shooting, many are once again calling for a ban on military-style rifles.
Unfortunately emotion can lead to erroneous decisionmaking. Most objects can be assault weapons. Automobiles are involved in thousands of deaths via accident, murder, or suicidial crashes.
As far as firearms go, you are far more likely to be killed (through murder or suicide) by a cheap handgun than by a semi-automatic rifle. At close range, a 12-gauge shotgun would inflict considerably more damage on an human being than a .223 AR-15 round.
The AR-15 is simply a semi-automatic rifle useful for personal defense (high capacity magazines are superior here), target shooting and hunting small game such as coyotes. Cosmetic features such as pistol grips, flash supressors (which are not silencers), barrel covers and adjustable stocks simply make the weapon more comfortable to operate.
Banning assault rifles would make thousands of innocent citizens into criminals; actual criminals would not obey the laws. It would also restrict the power of the citizenry vis-a-vis the government. I support background checks (though not a national registry) and generally do not mind waiting periods.
A real solution to gun violence, however, deals with the more expensive tasks of improving mental health, reforming ineffective or counterproductive drug laws, and encouraging the media to quit sensationalizing tragedies which make infamous celebrities out of killers.
Jason Kyle Richie
Do redistricting at same time
House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he will move forward on state house redistricting this session even if the Senate waits. "We will request that they pass our plan without amendments, as we will theirs whenever it is submitted to us for our action," he said.
The Senate should not pass the House plan until theirs is ready. If the Senate passes the house plan this session, what prevents the House from refusing to pass the Senate plan when the Senate has no leverage? Also, why is Stumbo in such a hurry?
Besides trying to fool the Senate, Stumbo knows that time is not on his side. After a Feb. 12 special election, the Democrat majority will be reduced by one.
House Republicans are, on average, younger than Democrats. Several Democrats are old geezers who could kick the bucket any minute and are likely to be replaced by young, healthy Republicans.
Both houses need to pass their redistricting plans during the same session. Both need to do so in a constitutional way. Make sure that population guidelines are followed. Split only the minimum number of counties necessary. Split no precincts. Do not draw strings to connect non-contiguous counties. Do not be punitive toward Lexington Sen. Kathy Stein or anyone else.
This time, let's do it correctly.
Bearing too much sacrifice
In the movie A Few Good Men, a marine private and a lance corporal were found not guilty of murdering a fellow Marine after the base commander admitted to ordering a code red, but they were discharged from the Marine Corps because they had followed orders.
The private asked, "What did we do wrong"?
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray recently sent a letter to the police and fire retirees about the condition of the pension fund. He wrote about how past mayors and council members had kicked the issue down the road by underfunding the account. He wrote about getting all of the stakeholders together to research a range of solutions.
The solution is called a "shared sacrifice for everyone." The shared sacrifice for nearly 47 percent of the retirees will be that the cost-of-living increases will be cut. The retirees, while working, paid for a mandatory increase of 2 to 5 percent per year and of course it was always nearer the 2 percent than the 5 percent. This money was taken out of our paychecks and now the mayor wants us to keep paying after we have retired. He has almost doubled the health insurance on retirees. Some retirees had to leave the program because the rates were too high.
So to Mayor Gray, I ask, "What did we do wrong"?
William L. Clemmons Jr.
Early childhood development
It seems to me that we are making the current gun control debate way too complicated. The National Rifle Association has a program called Eddie Eagle that teaches gun safety to youths. This must be similar to the current course taught to concealed-carry applicants.
I propose that all children prior to entering school or any preschool be given the Eddie Eagle training. Upon successful completion, they would be issued a handgun of their choice and a concealed=carry permit as well as a box of ammo.
The gun and ammo people would reap tremendous sales growth. Bullying and fighting among our youth would disappear as there would no longer be a toughest guy on the playground. Guns are the great equalizer.
After a few generations, there would be no need for a debate concerning guns or a need for the gun lobby to buy off our elected representatives as everyone would have a gun. Crime would disappear as everyone would carry a gun, not just the bad guys.
What could go wrong?