E. Ky. coal played out, get on with energy transition
In a Dec. 24 article, Sen. Mitch McConnell railed at the Obama administration's so-called "war on coal."
In the same issue, an article reported the price of natural gas had fallen by 29 percent in late December. The continuing decline in gas prices makes it more cost effective for utilities to generate electricity from gas than from coal.
The coal left to mine in Eastern Kentucky is no longer competitive with gas or with coal from Western Kentucky and Wyoming.
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Coal as a livelihood in that part of the state is pretty much played out. The only way cost-competitive coal can be mined is by blowing the tops off of mountains and despoiling what's left of the natural environment.
McConnell and other Republicans such as Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe do not recognize the fact that the current level of production of greenhouse gases poses an existential threat to both the environment and creatures that live on Earth.
Natural gas burns with fewer emissions of mercury and other toxic chemicals than coal and is a good transition fuel, but the only answer is to transition to sustainable energy generation, such as wind, solar and hydro. We should get on with the transition.
GOP and racial divide
America has a pervasive race problem that will not be resolved as long as we continue to deny it.
Far too many people believe racism does not exist in our country and don't want to talk about it. Often, those who bring up the need to dialogue on race issues are called racists.
The fact that the Republican Party is predominantly a white people's party speaks volumes about where the GOP stands on race.
Why does the Republican Party have such a hard time relating to people of color?
It seems the party is content in not trying to win the black vote. That sends a subtle message that blacks are not worth Republicans' efforts to win their votes.
By becoming a more diverse party and working hard to appeal to black voters nationwide, the GOP could make a huge difference in changing racial attitudes for the better. The ball is in the GOP's court. What will the party do with it?
Paul Lam Whiteley Sr.
Obama, Holder missing
Did I miss seeing Attorney General Eric Holder or President Barack Obama make an appearance at the funeral of the two policemen who were murdered in New York?
Holder met with the parents of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., even before he knew all the facts about the case.
At the same time, Obama rendered his opinion about the necessity of changing future police tactics.
But in the case of the murdered policemen he had little to say.
I have always thought that Obama and Holder were supposed to represent all Americans, not just the few that they want to.
They should recognize that all lives matter.
In response to the Dec. 26 commentary, "'I can't breathe' movement should break government's chokehold," by Dr. Cameron Schaeffer:
I can only say that I have never before seen someone make an argument I essentially agree with (legalization/decriminalization of most drugs) so diluted by specious sidebars.
He has a legitimate argument that drug laws are far too draconian and affect minorities disproportionately.
Yet he ties that argument to cigarette taxes (which unambiguously reduce rates of smoking and save lives which a physician should favor); the tired old Tea Party generic railing against taxes, debt and regulation, abortion, immigration and Social Security, which he actually calls a Ponzi scheme, and, of course, Obamacare, the eternal whipping boy of those who refuse to truly understand it.
In doing so, he reduces his arguments to the usual right-wing blathering.
That's a shame. He had such potential.
Jonathan C. Morris
Andy Beshear wrong about realities of heroin trade
Attorney general candidate Andy Beshear's Dec. 10 commentary suggested increasing sentences for dealing heroin.
He does not understand the realities of street culture. Most sellers have little or no hope for advancement in a world requiring education and connections. No amount of penalty will influence their decisions to use or sell drugs.
For years, the public has been sold a bill of goods that imprisonment reduces drugs on the street. The opposite is true. Despite the feeble commitment of prisons to treatment, inmates typically learn two things: drug using and drug-dealing connections. Not only are drugs traded inside prison walls, but big dealers operate inside prisons.
Thus, overcrowding works the following way: Squeeze a little one in, ooze a better-trained drug-dealing soldier out. Obviously, we are woefully unequipped to prepare ex-offenders to find good jobs so they can take respectable leadership roles in their families.
We were better off with a dosage-controlled oxycodone epidemic. The sad truth is that heroin and other drugs will continue to slip across our borders until our medical/pharmaceutical industries come up with an alternative that provides the equivalent cheap high many get from illegal drugs.