- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:


Oct. 7

The Independent, Ashland, Kentucky, on Senate race:

With the latest Bluegrass Poll showing Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes holding a narrow 46-44 lead over U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the role of a third party candidate like Libertarian David Patterson becomes increasingly important.

No one expects Patterson, a Harrodsburg police officer, to be elected to the U.S. Senate seat McConnell has held for 30 years. Indeed, the same Bluegrass Poll conducted for The Courier-Journal, the Lexington Herald-Leader, WHAS-TV and WKYT-TV shows Patterson had support from only 4 percent of the poll respondents. But in a race that is as close as this one is shaping up to be, that 4 percent can be the difference between victory and defeat for the two major party candidates.

The closeness of this Senate race reminds us of the closeness of the 2000 presidential race between George W. Bush and then-vice president Al Gore. Long-time consumer advocate Ralph Nader was never considered a major candidate for president in that race, but in Florida, Nader, running as an Independent, received just enough votes to tip the results in Florida to Bush, and Florida gave Bush just enough electoral votes to win the presidency, even though Gore had received more popular votes for president than Bush.

Of course, there were other factors in that race. Gore also would have been elected president if he had just carried his home state of Tennessee, but he failed to do so.

Kentuckians have already shown they like and will support candidates with libertarian views.

The race between McConnell and Grimes has been so long and so acrimonious that it could cause some voters to protest the way both parties have campaigned for the Senate seat by casting their ballot for Libertarian Patterson, the only other Senate candidate on the Kentucky ballot. Of course, any voter can write in the name of a candidate, but under Kentucky law, write-in votes are not counted unless the person receiving them has declared his or her candidacy for the Senate, and no one in Kentucky has.

There is another reason why Patterson, 43, may get some votes in this corner of Kentucky. A native of Louisville, he spent his middle school and high school years in Ashland and graduated from Paul G.Blazer High School before earning an bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University. While he now lives in western Kentucky, he obviously has ties to this community..




Oct. 3

The News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown, Kentucky, on commemorating the Vietnam era:

Most of us seldom think about the Vietnam War. Few of the under 50 crowd can find Vietnam on a map or know what the Vietnam War was even about. But for many who fought there - or families who lost loved ones - it is thought about every day.

It is hard to believe, we had “boots on the ground” there in the early 1960s and the Vietnam War officially started nearly 50 years ago.

On Sept. 25, the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs honored all those who served in Vietnam along with their families. Designed to commemorate the beginning of the Vietnam War 50 years ago, the ceremony was held at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort.

But it really was all about honoring and thanking those who served honorably during the Vietnam War; those who were not properly welcomed when they returned.

The Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs has partnered with the Department of Defense for the next 10 years to recognize all those who served in Vietnam. The 50th Anniversary Commemoration event is the first in a series of annual events to thank Vietnam Veterans and their families.

You may ask why remembering the Vietnam War is important. Some would suggest it is to remember the bad or dishonorable decisions made by our political leaders so we don’t make them again before or during war. Some might even argue that we did not learn that lesson.

Kentucky has 116,000 Vietnam veterans. The Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors 1,103 of them for their sacrifice. It is well worth a visit, if not to pay respects, or for the history involved; then for the architecture of the Memorial itself.




Oct. 6

Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader on drug treatment:

Trying to lay out a coherent approach to deal with Kentucky’s plague of drug abuse and addiction without touting the Affordable Care Act is like explaining Keeneland without mentioning horse races.

You can offer some details and useful recommendations (such as the gorgeous grounds and corned beef sandwiches) while completely missing the big picture.

Missing the big picture is what Kentucky’s competitors for U.S. Senate are doing as they try to win votes on the drug-abuse issue.

Give Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes credit for at least mentioning the importance of preserving payment for drug treatment through the Affordable Care Act as part of a three-pronged platform for combating drug abuse that she released last week.

Republican Mitch McConnell, his party’s leader in the Senate, has said time and again that he wants to repeal “root and branch” the law that he calls Obamacare, even though it finally will provide Kentucky something it desperately needs: a funding stream for drug treatment and rehab.

McConnell has tried to pretend that the state could somehow by itself preserve coverage for the 521,000 Kentuckians who are now insured through Kynect, the health insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act.

Of course, as McConnell well knows, Kentucky could not possibly keep up the coverage without the increased funding from the federal government and changes Congress made to laws governing the insurance industry.

Most important when talking about the drug scourge is the inclusion of mental health and substance use disorders among essential health benefits. As a result, health insurance sold on Kynect and other insurance exchanges must cover drug treatment. Also, Kentucky had to make drug treatment a standard Medicaid benefit as a condition for expanding that program.

What this means is that for the first time, nonprofits and other providers will be able to afford to build treatment facilities, both residential and outpatient, knowing they will be reimbursed for the services.

If the law is allowed to work as envisioned, Kentuckians who are ready to commit to treatment no longer will be consigned to a long waiting list that pretty much guarantees they’ll be using again before their names come up.

The expansion of treatment for users and addicts through the Affordable Care Act could make a real difference. Too bad more politicians aren’t talking about that.



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