Lincoln, Douglass, TR would be Democrats today
Sen. Rand Paul is correct that the GOP has roots in racial progress, when you look back to President Abraham Lincoln. But the party has been venturing away from those roots for more than 100 years. Democrats nationally and in Kentucky have assumed the mantle of working towards racial equality.
During the legislative session of 1873-74, Gov. Preston Leslie was successful in passing laws which recognized the testimony of African-Americans in Kentucky's courts.
Gov. and U.S. Sen. Augustus O. Stanley sponsored anti-lynching legislation before the Kentucky General Assembly and U.S. Congress. In January 1917, Stanley — with the sheer force of personality — stopped a Murray mob from lynching a black murder defendant.
In doing so, he was also able to free Circuit Judge Charles Bush and a commonwealth attorney being held hostage.
When Stanley ran for re-election in 1924, Republicans successfully used his opposition to the Klan and lynching against him.
Nationally, Democratic President Harry Truman integrated the Armed Forces of the United States.
In response to Brown v. Board of Education, Govs. Lawrence Wetherby and A.B. "Happy" Chandler took the lead in helping integrate public schools. Gov. Bert T. Combs established Kentucky's Human Rights Commission and, by executive order, desegregated all public accommodations.
In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and pushed it through a Democratic Congress.
Louisville state Sen. Georgia Powers sponsored legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment and public accommodations. One co-sponsor was future U.S. Sen. Walter "Dee" Huddleston of Elizabethtown.
It should be noted that Paul, during his 2010 campaign, advocated repeal of legislation which prohibited discrimination in public accommodations.
If Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and Theodore Roosevelt arose from the dead, they would become Democrats.
Paul L. Whalen
Paul's wishful thinking
Kentucky's junior senator, Rand Paul, engages in faulty, wishful thinking when he says he knows African-Americans will again look to the Republican Party as the party of emancipation, civil liberty and individual freedom.
The Republican Party today is much different from the party of Abraham Lincoln and post-Civil War years.
Racial progress began to move significantly with Democratic President Lyndon Baines Johnson's signing into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Those laws delivered the once Democratic South to the Republican Party, even to this day.
Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and both George Bushes utilized a "Southern strategy" whereby they made little effort to win the African-American vote. Losing Republican presidential candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney were extremely uncomfortable when addressing predominantly African-American audiences.
African-American voters are sensitive and sophisticated, not easily fooled by candidates who discount them.
In the 2012 presidential election, Republicans tried to suppress the votes those who would most likely would vote Democratic. African-American voters were not intimidated; many stood in long lines for hours to cast their votes.
Paul and our too-long senior senator, Mitch McConnell, regularly show contempt for our twice-elected first African-American president, Barack Obama. McConnell and his party did everything they could to make Obama a one-term president.
As long as we have two senators like Paul and McConnell, I don't think African-Americans in Kentucky will again look to the Republican Party for hope.
If Abraham Lincoln were living, I don't believe he would be affiliated with the Republican Party as we know it today.
Paul L. Whiteley Sr.
Who's protecting who?
Recently, President Barack Obama said he might not let his son play football because of the violence.
Yet, he wants to ensure his daughters are allowed to fight on the front lines of a combat zone?
Buy local, government
Once again I feel it necessary to express my disappointment at local government going out of state for services available locally.
I applaud the new improved websites for Rupp Arena, the Opera House and Lexington Center. But why award the contract to a North Carolina firm? How much payroll, net profits and property tax will come back to Lexington from this out of state firm? How much of their employees salary will be spent at Lexington merchants, restaurants and entertainment venues?
Lexington has a number of highly skilled web developers and search-engine optimization specialists that could have provided this and kept the money circulating locally. They may have even purchased tickets at these venues. Local government, businesses and organizations need to realize that every dollar spent locally has a multiplier effect financially while at the same time encouraging skilled professionals to remain in and expand their Lexington operations.
Defend us from NRA
This is a public service reminder to Wayne La Pierre, the National Rifle Association and our nation: The first four words of the Second Amendment are "a well-regulated militia." Our new nation had no money to fund a standing military.
Review our well-regulated militia today: The National Guard, regular all-volunteer military of land, sea and air; troops at full capacity serving at home and abroad. The FBI, CIA, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals, border guards, airport and port authority agents, Homeland Security plus specialty forces and drones for covert militia work. Each state supports its own law enforcement with state troopers, city police, sheriffs and deputies.
The militia problem is solved. The public is well protected.
The NRA business model: selling a gun to you to protect yourself and selling the same gun to someone else to protect them from you. Why is the NRA buying political protection while threatening politicians against any type of gun ban? NRA knows poll numbers are against them.
Adults nationwide want a gun bill supporting universal background checks, waiting periods and no straw buying of guns. And a ban on high-capacity magazines and assault weapons sold to anyone except police and military.
Republican-controlled states are currently attacking their voting laws with background checks, registration requirements and cleaning voter rolls in certain districts. The Republican crusade to keep the vote from getting into the wrong hands needs to be applied to keeping guns from getting into the wrong hands too.
McConnell defends vote
You'd expect a letter from the chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party to be nakedly partisan, just as the one published on this page last Sunday, attacking me, was. Unfortunately, it also was a shameful distortion of the truth.
Throughout my Senate career, I've stood up for measures to stop domestic violence and punish those who would abuse women. That's why I supported reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2000 and 2005.
I feel just as strongly about these issues today as ever. That's why I supported a stronger version of VAWA this year that would create tough new minimum penalties for those who commit violent sexual assaults and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. And it would impose mandatory minimum sentences for child predators.
By contrast, the bill supported by the head of the Kentucky Democratic Party was not nearly as tough on perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence. In addition, that bill could strip Americans of some of their constitutional rights, according to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service.
So I'm curious, does the chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party just want to insult the intelligence of voters by falsely attacking me, or does he really not support the bill I supported which required tougher minimum penalties for violent criminals who attack women?
Sen. Mitch McConnell
Useful legal papers
I want to thank your newspaper for including a magazine style advertisement for Kentucky's Best Lawyers. This ad will provide interesting reading in our outhouse and come in especially handy when we run out of T.P.
Edward William III
Colonoscopies save lives
In columnist Paul Prather's narrative regarding his recent hospitalization, he mentioned that he jinxed himself by writing about how he'd never had a truly serious illness or spent a night in the hospital. Unfortunately soon after that, he experienced both.
As a colorectal surgeon, it was good to read what the experience was like from a patient's perspective. I did, however, have a major concern. Colorectal cancer has a high prevalence in this country; 100,000 new cases of colon cancer and over 40,000 new cases of rectal cancer are expected this year. One out of 20 persons will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime.
One of the most effective ways of early diagnosing, and even prevention, is the very test that led to Prather's hospitalization. It is important to emphasize that colonoscopy is a procedure that is safe in the hands of a well-trained endoscopist. Complications are rare and are far overshadowed by the benefits.
I frequently have the satisfaction of knowing that a patient has avoided a colon cancer by having a polyp removed before it has a chance to become malignant. In addition, many patients who have absolutely no symptoms are found to have early cancer. If they had waited until they had developed symptoms, their cancer may have become incurable.
Many people are afraid of going to the doctor because they might "find something." Unfortunately, if they have a significant illness, going or not going will not change that fact. The important thing is to have any illness diagnosed early.
Charles L. Papp, M.D.
Defeat AT&T bill
I read with interest the Feb. 25 op-ed by Kris Kimmel, president of Kentucky Science and Technology Corp, in which he wholeheartedly supports Senate Bill 88 which AT&T wrote to remove itself and other large carriers from regulatory oversight and provision of basic landline service.
I understand that KSTC has a long-standing and mutually supportive relationship with AT&T, including its current board chair who is a lobbyist working for AT&T, which Kimmel did not disclose.
What Kimmel also did not say is that Kentucky's previous deregulation of AT&T in 2006 was accompanied by promises of innovation, investment and jobs which have failed to materialize, especially outside of large metro areas. Telecommunications policy experts and consumer advocates have raised serious concerns about how this bill and others like it in other states and at the FCC could destroy the telecommunications infrastructure — paid for by ratepayers and taxpayers — not to mention lessen competition and increase the digital divide.
SB 88 is a step in the wrong direction if we want all Kentuckians, including elderly, low-income and rural folks, to have access to reliable and affordable communications.
No, the sky is not falling
It would seem that Chicken Little has invaded the White House. President Barack Obama listed every horror that could ever happen in his litany of terrors we face if we have sequestration. He must have forgotten that sequestration was intially his administration's idea. He thought it was a great idea a year or so ago as a way to encourage a budget deal. Now it's the end of the world.
It is such a tiny percentage of our expenditures, I don't think anyone would even notice it. If our circumstances are so dire, it seems odd that the president would go off on a golfing weekend or Congress on a mini vacation. Why weren't they all in Washington trying to keep the sky from falling?
Perhaps the White House should look at recent Gallup polls: 57 percent disapprove of raising taxes; 60 percent disapprove of the way the economy is going and 65 percent have big problems with the federal budget deficit.
In a Rasmussen poll, 55 percent of likely voters believe that cutting government spending would do more to help the economy than increasing spending. Sounds like the people know better than the government.
The feds consider it a spending cut when they don't spend as much as they had planned to spend. Now if we just had someone to tell Chicken Little that if she doesn't get out of the way, the falling sky will not just knock her out, it will kill her.
Obama, the flim-flam man
President Barack Obama should be described in history as America's flim-flam man. No president has spent more time selling his programs than Obama.
First, he spent more than a year selling Obamacare. "It will not add a penny to our deficit," he said. The estimates from the Congressional Budget Office made in 2010 estimated its 10-year new spending at $944 billion.
The latest estimates from the CBO made in 2012 estimate its 10-year new spending at $1,856 billion, a 97 percent increase. The true increase in spending is anyone's guess, but it's likely to be much more.
Recently, he's been working feverishly to scare Americans about sequestration cuts agreed upon in 2011. He's used firefighters, policemen and Navy personnel as backdrops, claiming we are headed for a monumental calamity if Congress doesn't legislate an alternative.
First, the cuts this fiscal year are $85 billion out of a budget of $3.8 billion, about 2 percent. If these cuts continue for the 10 years they are planned — which they won't by the way — we will still be running annual deficits of over a half-trillion dollars, increasing our debt from $16.6 trillion to around $24 trillion.
Second, these are not cuts the way we understand the word. They are reductions in planned increased spending. If you had planned to spend $15,000 on a car but then decided to only spend $10,000, using the government definition you would have cut your spending by $5,000.
Yes, in Washington's world, that is a cut.
All pols scamming voters
Tuesday's headlines read "GOP, Democrats maneuver for advantage ahead of Friday's deadline." Who is the advantage for? I promise, it's not for you and me. It never is. They're trying to grandstand for the upcoming elections so they can continue to feather their own nests.
Our public "self" servants never have the citizens interests in anything they do; their only concern is to keep their gravy train on track for their own fortunes and their PAC friends.
Why is it that we sit back and never attempt to vote out the current congressmen and congresswomen and at least start over? As we prepare to take cuts in salaries and beneficial programs, their salaries, perks such as state dinners and fact finding trips, health and retirement benefits are the sacred cows never mentioned.
Just watch, in a few months the campaign signs will start appearing in yards across America urging neighbors to vote for someone who doesn't know you're alive nor care. Politicans should just come to our doors and rob us of everything we own. That's what we deserve.
The only difference in them and Jesse James is that James carried a gun. We, the people, remind me of the fateful lemmings as they blindly run over the cliff chasing after our honorable esteemed leaders. Before we do, though, we'll name highways, buidlings or bridges after them for their service to us.