'Shoot first' mentality is killing us
I go through Transportation Safety Administration security at the Cincinnati airport frequently and observe the absurdity of the $4 billion a year being spent on airline security in the U.S. to keep terrorists from downing a plane with maybe 200 people on it, but every day 30-plus people are killed in the U.S. by other people with guns.
That's the equivalent of a commercial airline crash every week, which no one would accept. Yet we tolerate this.
In 12 states you now have a greater chance of getting killed by a gun than being killed in a traffic accident. I support individual rights, but this carnage is a national disgrace. In too many situations, guns have become the answer of first resort rather than last. This situation can only be described as domestic terrorism and it's undermining our society.
Why are we so vigilant about protecting Americans from foreign terrorists, but so reluctant to prevent Americans from killing each other?
Look, what's this coming? It's an organ grinder with three tethered dancing monkeys. What's it say on the organ box? NRA — the most dangerous purveyor of violence in the land.
But what's with the dancing monkeys?
Well, one is Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky's disastrous contribution to American politics. Chinless, spineless, without character or conscience. He's holding a sign that says "No!" in big, black letters. No to any legislation that would protect children from wanton gun violence.
And who's the second monkey? Why, it's Sen. Dan Coats from Indiana. A right-wing chump who loves the gun lobby more than life itself. Coats will dance anytime, anywhere to whatever tune the organ grinder plays.
And, alas, the third monkey is none other than Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana's 3rd District. For Stutzman, there'll be no background checks. No ban on lethal assault weapons. No limit on the magazines that provide multiple rounds for the assault weapons that are wielded by the crazies who've escaped background checks.
Stutzman loves guns so much that he wants to bring gun manufacturers to Indiana.
The blood of children sacrificed — and yet to be sacrificed — is already on the hands of these three. Men who are a disgrace to the U.S. Congress, the people of America and especially the voters who put them in office.
The Rev. Thomas E. Sagendorf
I live in Harlan County, where there's not much traffic on the roads and not many people in the stores and restaurants. The only lines we see are at the funeral homes and churches when we are saying good-bye to friends and family.
The unemployment rate in Harlan County is 16.3 percent, the third highest in the state. The main industry that drives our economy, coal, needs to be put on an endangered species list.
A special tax on this industry, the coal severance tax, was initially agreed to by the coal business to prevent a sales tax on food for the citizens of Kentucky and for the benefit of the people in the coalfields, whether it was economic development, roads or municipal services such as water or sewage treatment. All of these services are woefully inadequate in Eastern Kentucky.
But the legislators in Frankfort are proposing to use $2.5 million in severance tax revenue for improvements to Rupp Arena in Lexington. Fayette County has an unemployment rate of 6.4 percent, the third lowest in Kentucky.
If Lexington-Fayette County needs tax money why not institute a sales tax on Thoroughbred sales? That would enable an industry local to Fayette County to support the needs in Lexington.
The governments in Frankfort and Washington have robbed the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky way beyond any coal company.
U.S. going broke
One would think that a newspaper would refrain from printing letters from individuals who have no concept of what the truth is. I am referring to a July 2 letter entitled "Forgetful Mitch" that states "under President Barack Obama the deficit has dropped by 50 percent already."
Obama took office in 2008 and the debt has gone from approximately $10 trillion to approximately. $16.8 trillion. There is no way this can be considered a 50 percent drop, since it is a 68 percent increase, but I want to be fair with the facts. The president does not control what is spent by the government; he only submits a budget, and this is approved or disapproved by the legislature — or, in the modern world, the legislature ignores a budget.
The letter writer is sort of on track by criticizing a legislator, but I just can't see why he wants to pick on a minority (Republican) member, when it is the majority (Democrats) who pass the bills and control the spending. The Democratic majority gained control of both the Senate and the House in late 2006, but lost control of the House in late 2010, and the debt has gone from $8.5 trillion to $16.8 trillion, as of March 2013.
During the period when the Democrats had control, the annual deficit was about $501 billion (2006-07), $1 trillion (2007-08), $1.8 trillion (2008-09) and $1.7 trillion (2009-10).
When the Republicans regained the House, the annual deficit was $1.2 trillion (2010-11), $1.3 trillion (2011-12) and $1.4 trillion (2012-13).
So, as you can see, there is no 50 percent drop anywhere. It is only getting worse the longer our government (both Republicans and Democrats) continues to spend more money than it has available.
If we don't pass a bill requiring a balanced budget and start paying this deficit down, this country will shortly be completely bankrupt.
J. D. Miniard
A bug's life
The Herald-Leader published two seemingly unrelated stories on July 2. On page one, we learned of Alison Grimes' candidacy for the U.S. Senate.
Further back was a Washington Post report that environmental factors may doom the world's butterflies, driving them into potential extinction, along with their insect cousins, the honeybees.
Experts cited in the Post article attribute factors such as habitat destruction and pesticides as leading contributors to the population loss of these extraordinarily beneficial insects, who bless us not only with their beauty but with the pollination of 80 percent of food crops.
So what has this got to do with a Senate race?
Tragically, while human factors are destroying these valuable creatures in a toxic atmospheric stew, filth-dwelling roaches and blood-sucking mosquitoes thrive and spread disease.
I may be going out on a limb here, but am I the only person who sees an entomological analogy to politicians?
To paraphrase Muhammad Ali, Grimes will need to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee if she expects to oust McConnell.
But perhaps we could use more butterflies and honeybees and fewer roaches and bloodsuckers in Washington.
As a postscript, I recommend former Kentuckian Barbara Kingsolver's recent fact-based novel, Flight Behavior, which explores the effects of climate change on the declining butterfly population and the resulting political opportunism.