You know you are making a weak case when ...
How do you know when you have lost an argument?
You have to invoke religion to support an irrational position: "We cannot include birth control as part of normal preventative health care because birth control is a sin."
You have to invoke the Constitution to support an irrational position: "We all have the right to carry around whatever weapons we want wherever we want because the Second Amendment says so."
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You have to invoke ideology to support an irrational position: "We can all agree to share the cost of certain social services like public education, fire and police protection, highways, etc. but we cannot share the cost of health care because that would be socialism."
You have to invoke sarcasm to support an irrational position: "We cannot peg the minimum wage to inflation because ... why don't we just raise the minimum wage to $100 per hour?"
You have to hide behind a rational position to support an irrational position: "We have to implement voter suppression in the name of protecting the integrity of our elections through stricter voter-ID laws."
You have to cling to an irrational position that is demonstrably false: "We don't need to address manmade climate change because it is not proven science but simply a political agenda perpetuated by a left-wing media."
You have to make absurd comparisons to support an irrational position: "We need to repeal the Affordable Care Act because it is as destructive to personal and individual liberty as the Fugitive Slave Act."
Advice for legislature
Since the General Assembly is in session, I would like to mention a couple of things that need fixing along with a couple that don't.
We don't need more bills to regulate women's personal lives and interfere with the rights they already have.
We don't need bills changing workers' rights like trying to get a "right to work" law passed. This is not a worker-friendly law but a law allowing companies to work their employees for less. Workers need pay raises since these have been few and far between and some even get their pay cut.
Companies are making healthy profits but these profits are going to the top employees and not being shared with the middle class and below employees.
Raising the minimum wage is badly needed. Some states have already raised their minimum wage above the national level and so can our legislature.
We need to screen nursing-home employees to make sure the right people are taking care of our loved ones. The ones selected should be paid a living wage to give them the incentive to do a good job.
We don't need a bill taking away telephone landlines. Landlines are needed by people who have medical alert machines (including my mother-in-law) or burglar/fire alarm systems. There are areas where cellphones don't work and if you moved in one of these areas, you would be out of luck all the way around. AT&T is making healthy profits and doesn't need to cut services.
Owen D. Humphress
A Jan. 18 letter referred to an Dec. 22 op-ed I wrote on the issue of language in Eastern Kentucky. The writer said, "...while I agree with a recent column writer that we should speak correctly, I do not believe we should try to lose our accent or try to conceal it."
Neither do I.
The column, suggesting that we strive to make Eastern Kentucky a "Linguistic Empowerment Zone," notes that we should cherish our dialect, and at the same time "aim to expand our language skills past proficiency to mastery."
The focus was on thoroughly learning the conventions of standard English usage, not on trying "to lose our accent or conceal it." I probably could have made that clearer in writing on this touchy subject.
The op-ed closes with a quote from the children's book Mommy Goose, that says it more succinctly: "To talk like your flock is no disgrace. Just use the right word in the right place."
In other words, use any accent you feel comfortable with (whether it's 100-proof Clay County or 80-proof Pike County), but be able, as second nature, to speak and write grammatically correct English when appropriate. If some folks look down on our accent, as the letter writer said, "that is their bad."
But being able to understand and employ standard English grammar when it's called for (and it ain't always) is our responsibility and powerfully to our advantage.
Try a little moderation
Far-right Republicans can be counted on to blame government and President Barack Obama for every ill. Their mantras are "government can't do anything right" and "get government off our backs."
But it's OK that government is big on armaments and cozy with agribusiness, big oil and pharmaceuticals. It's like telling Sam to cut the grass, but while you're at it, stay off the lawn.
Sure, government has its screw-ups. But to harp on that while ignoring Enron, Bear-Stearns, BP, Freedom Industries and other private-sector mishaps and misdeeds is hypocrisy on a grand scale.
Heck, even Mother Nature, irritated at our material excesses, keeps sending us miseries. Let's blame Obama for these, too?
Truth is, things go wrong and there's no way to correct or avoid all of them. Technology and globalization changes everything, and neither more nor less government is likely to bring satisfactory job numbers or economic security.
Better that we drop partisan wrangling and do our best together. And it wouldn't hurt to think before plunging ahead with wars and domestic drones and gee-whiz innovations that seem to come back to bite us.
One of those slick TV ads that annoys is the IBM message, "making a smarter planet."
Far better to temper those smarts with wisdom and moderation.