History repeats to look like era of Know Nothings
It never fails to amaze me when people keep trooping down the same old blind alleys of history.
Remember the Know Nothings? The mid-19th century whackadoos who wanted to rewrite the Constitution to exclude immigrants and deny civil rights to all but the "native born?"
Of course, "native born" didn't include the people already here when the pilgrims arrived, also not the others "purchased" to do the grunt work, just those Europeans whose grandparents were born here.
Obviously, they wanted to re-establish the same two-class system (a very few haves, a whole lot of have-nots) that their ancestors had rejected less than a century before. They wanted America to be a huge gated community, where slavery was valid and the American dream was for the privileged few.
Know Nothings were pretty rabid. They fomented armed mob warfare; encouraged the repression, even murder, of "non-natives" (the poor, Catholics, immigrants, non-lily-whites, anybody who disagreed); and generally acted like thugs. They liked to call themselves "the party of true American Republicans." Any number of our genuine heroes, like Lincoln and Mark Twain, found them appalling and hateful.
What happened to them? They failed — though not before causing considerable trouble and misery. History left them behind.
Or did it? Golly gosh darn, look around. The Know Nothings are back ... but with a different name. Tea Party sounds neat, even "true native American" in its way. But the message is pure, classic Know Nothing, in all its thuggish glory.
Oh, yes. Why were they called Know Nothings? Guess.
Charles S. Merrill
Lawsuits in waiting
I was appalled that the Kentucky Senate and a House committee rushed through Senate Bill 110, which permits optometrists to perform eye surgery.
This poses a severe risk to their patients' eye health. (Lawmakers may have been influenced by more than $400,000 in donations to their campaigns by the optometrists).
The Feb. 13 commentary by Dr. Don Swikert, a medical doctor in family practice in Union sets forth legitimate concerns.
A frightening part of the bill approved by the Senate permits the Optometry Board to decide which laser surgery optometrists may perform. How could the Senate in good conscience delegate such power to the Optometry Board, which is self-serving?
Optometrists are not surgeons, they are not medical doctors, they did not go to medical school or train for years in surgical residencies and in hospitals as did ophthalmologists.
Optometrists are not the same as ophthalmologists. Optometrists are trained to test vision, prescribe corrective glasses and grind and fit glasses. Unfortunately many people do not know the difference between them and will unwittingly subject themselves to eye surgeons they think are medical doctors.
As an attorney, I can envision the courts inundated with lawsuits for botched eye surgeries by optometrists if either the House or the governor fails to stop SB 110.
Some may even attempt to sue the legislature and the commonwealth for willfully subjecting the people of Kentucky to inferior surgical care. In addition, the cost of malpractice insurance may skyrocket.
Make cuts in defense
What is it about Republicans? The first programs they target to cut are social programs benefiting Americans. This from the party that gave taxpayers Iraq and Afghanistan, which have cost nearly $1.2 trillion since 2001. What did that contribute to the deficit?
A hint for Republicans and the Tea Party movement: China; not to borrow more money, but to study what not to do. China, the world's second largest economy, is expanding overseas, not with military bases but by trade and financing. China has no military bases abroad.
The United States has 865 military bases in 135 countries plus additional microbases the Pentagon doesn't even bother to count, bringing the total more than 1,000.
The United States spends approximately $250 billion annually to maintain bases overseas. Start the budgetary cuts by closing half of these bases to save approximately $125 billion annually.
Next, target your search for unnecessary defense spending like the $4.1 billion for the next generation fighter, F-22 Raptor, $6.7 billion for the F-35 Lightning II still in development, $4.2 billion to continue the aircraft carrier replacement program, $720 million for a third missile defense site in Europe. Savings: nearly $141 billion.
Despite all our advanced weapon systems, we have been in Iraq and Afghanistan for a decade and never caught Osama Bin Laden.
Remember that the Roman Empire at its height in 117 A.D. required 37 major bases to police its realm from Britannia to Egypt, from Hispania to Armenia.
James F. Wisniewski
Hard on the ears
During any local television newscast, one can hear almost every grammatical error known to English-speaking people.
It's worrisome that many times the so-called professional journalists are the worstest of the doers of.
Health reform works
On Aug. 25, I received a letter from my insurance carrier informing me that my monthly premium would increase $58.10, a 25 percent jump. The letter did not offer any reason for the increase.
The letter also let me know that if I upped my deductible to $5,000 from $3,500, the monthly premium would increase $6.35, a 3 percent jump. I figured instead of paying an additional $600 a year to protect $1,500 of assets — expensive insurance by any measure — I'd accept the larger deductible.
However, the insurance carrier cautioned, in doing so I was creating a new plan that would not be considered a "grandfathered" plan, and thus would be affected by post-reform changes. The communication was written to sound like without grandfathered status I'd see:
■ Premium increases due to requirements in the law (but would that be more than 25 percent?).
■ Potential loss of coverage in 2014 when post-reform changes are fully in place (scare tactic?).
Then, a letter dated Dec. 29: due to new explanations from Health and Human Services, I am able to keep grandfathered status. Here's a good quote from the insurance carrier's letter:
"The health care reform law includes additional new benefits that might somewhat increase premiums. But rising medical costs and greater use of medical services are still the main reasons that premiums increase each year."
They didn't mention that when informing me of a 25 percent jump.
My point is that the Affordable Care Act works for me. I don't want it to change.