- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 7, 2016

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:


Dec. 7

The Courier-Journal on remembering the attack at Pearl Harbor:

Hawaii was not yet part of the United States. It was just a small set of islands in the Pacific that many had likely not heard of before Dec. 7, 1941, and the attack that propelled the U.S. into World War II.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s words the following day have never lost their impact:

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan.”

There are fewer and fewer sailors still living from that day 75 years ago when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, yet history is etched with a photograph of the USS Arizona aflame and listing. And history is etched in headlines: Japan attacks U.S.

The memories - and history - must not be forgotten.

2,403 American lives were lost.

21 ships were sunk or badly damaged.

188 planes were destroyed.

Those cold numbers do not tell the story of the valor and heroism.

Looking back, the surprise attack on the American naval fleet followed the U.S. embargo of much-needed oil shipments to Japan, imposed after that imperialist nation annexed Manchuria, waged war with China and invaded French Indochina.

The United States had been resisting a move to join the war in Europe and in Asia, to fight fascist Germany and Italy and Japan.

War with both Japan and Germany was likely inevitable even before the attack on Dec. 7.

What always seems clearer in the years following wars and military action is that rhetoric and failed diplomacy leads to dangerous brinksmanship and ultimately the exercise of military might. That same story applied to England and European countries while trying to contain and appease Hitler’s Nazi Germany and his scheme to create the Third Reich - the Thousand-Year Reich.

What also can’t be forgotten is that now both Japan and Germany are staunch allies.

On this day, we salute the brave who died at Pearl Harbor and the battle’s survivors - as well as those who fought and sacrificed in WWII.




Dec. 1

The Lexington Herald-Leader on why Gov. Matt Bevin should back local gun laws:

It’s common now to brush off legislative proposals to address serious societal issues by saying government can’t solve all problems.

Gov. Matt Bevin just did it when asked about the disturbing increase of gun deaths in Louisville and Lexington.

“You have a cultural problem, you have a spiritual problem, you have an economic problem,” he said. “People who want to pretend it’s something that can be legislated, some more government rules are going to fix this, are delusional.”

Let’s leave aside the fact that Bevin is happy to use the government to intervene in other areas, the truth is he is just wrong about what government can do. Government can solve some problems and, more importantly, it can help individuals and communities as they try to solve problems.

Examples abound: automobile deaths were rampant before a range of government interventions steered us toward safer vehicles and more competent drivers. The long arm of the government, prodded by concerned citizens, enforced innovations such as seat belts, air bags, padded dashboards and shatterproof glass.

But, as the saying goes, cars alone don’t kill people, it takes a person driving a car to do that job. And, there too, government has imposed life-saving rules. Alcohol-influenced traffic deaths have shrunk since the legal limits for blood alcohol content were lowered and enforcement increased. Fewer young people die or kill others in car wrecks, thanks to licensing laws that require new drivers to graduate through several qualifying steps. We require periodic relicensing and take licenses away from people deemed unable to operate a vehicle safely.

All this and cars are only made to get us from one place to another.

Guns, on the other hand, are designed to kill or grievously injure people and animals.

It’s true, as Bevin suggests, that deep societal ills are tied to the uptick of gun violence in Lexington and Louisville. But the numbers suggest those ills aren’t found only in the urban centers. All of Kentucky has a problem with gun deaths. In 2014 the rate of gun deaths for the entire state was a third higher than in the nation as a whole: 13.8 per 100,000 population compared to 10.2 for the nation. Notably, that comparison grew worse from 2013, when it was 13.7 per 100,000 population in Kentucky compared to 10.4 nationally.

Bevin turned the problem back to the affected communities. “It’s going to take a community that does some serious soul-searching and asks itself the hard questions. It takes ownership and heals itself from within,” he said.

That’s just what Mayor Greg Fischer in Louisville and Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington are suggesting. Thomas has prefiled a bill that would allow Louisville and Lexington to enact gun control legislation for their own communities.

If Bevin is dead-set against the state taking action to reduce gun deaths in its cities then he should at least support local efforts to, as he says, heal “from within.”




Dec. 4

The Advocate-Messenger on the lack of women represented in the Kentucky legislature:

The Kentucky House of Representatives will look very different next year, as new Republican leaders take over and chart a new course for the lower chamber, which had previously been under the control of Democrats for close to a century.

It’s a promising time for Republicans and their priorities. Based on the initial rhetoric of the incoming leaders, there’s also hope for a less divisive, more inclusive House that is willing to consider ideas from all sides.

The change in leadership is also resulting in a substantial amount of influence landing on local representatives Jonathan Shell and David Meade, who represent the 71st and 80th districts respectively.

One thing that won’t change with the new House, however, is the lack of female representatives. In the current House, women fill 18 of the 100 seats. In 2017, that number will rise by one to 19, thanks in part to Republican Kimberly Poore Moser filling a currently vacant seat.

The number of women in majority leadership positions will change from one to zero.

Women make up more than half of Kentucky’s population, according to Census data, but hold fewer than one in five representative seats. In the Senate, the rate is even lower - four of the 38 seats, or about 10.5 percent are held by women.

But it would be foolish to blame the members of the House and Senate for these discrepancies. Each of them was elected appropriately by the voters in their districts. No one went around actively preventing women from seeking office or rigging elections in favor of men.

In fact, it would be foolish to throw blame around at all. You don’t blame the thermometer when it’s freezing outside; we shouldn’t blame our elected officials for not being women. Having too few elected women is an effect, not a cause. And no one can say with real confidence exactly what the cause is.

Men still have many unfair advantages in the business world. Women are still criticized more than men if they act confident or bossy - codewords like “overbearing” and “emotional” get applied to women for exhibiting the same characteristics described as “self-possessed” and “exacting” in men.

Women may genuinely have less interest in holding elected office. Or there may be a feedback effect where young women don’t see as many females in elected positions and so don’t pursue politics.

But it doesn’t do any good to point fingers at business leaders, religious doctrines or any of the other favorite scape goats for inequality. Pointing fingers only puts people on the defensive and results in them pointing fingers elsewhere. And it often means people with plenty of good qualities are demonized for a few mistakes.

We can’t just pass a law requiring more women in the legislature. That’s not how a representative democracy works.

Voters are the ones who give elected officials their jobs. Voters are the ones responsible for who their elected officials are. Change can’t come from anywhere else.

But voters can also only vote for whoever is on the ballot. If their only options are men - and in many districts, that’s the case, the only men will get elected.

Changing the legislature in this regard requires a bigger, more systemic change in how society treats women.

As responsible constituents, we should acknowledge the fact that women do not serve as big a role as they should in the leadership of our government. And we should acknowledge that discrimination against women in the world outside of government certainly doesn’t help the situation. Then we can work to identify and correct discrimination as we encounter it in our lives.

If we successfully change our cultural climate, we’ll see the thermometer of the state legislature adjust accordingly.



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