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The State Journal encourages readers to submit letters to the editor for publication by noon Wednesday for the following Sunday’s paper. All letters must contain the writer’s full name, mailing address and telephone number for purposes of verification. The State Journal will not withhold the name of a writer. Any letter received without a mailing address and phone number will not be published. The State Journal will not publish thank-you letters, obvious form letters or letters addressed to third parties or to the public at large. Any letter may be rejected at editors’ discretion. All letters submitted for publication are subject to editing for length, form and content. Letters may be no more than 500 words long. Letters may be mailed to Letters to the Editor, The State Journal, 1216 Wilkinson Blvd., Frankfort, KY 40601; or e-mailed to rherron@state-journal.com.
Real Cuba
is different
To the Editor:
After reading Ruby Layson’s article about her trip to Cuba, I’d like to share my own experience traveling there not as a tourist, but to visit family members, with whom we stayed.
Layson describes her accommodations as “anything but luxurious” with bunk beds and cold showers, but I’d like her to know that for the vast majority of Cubans her accommodations were a luxury. Many of my family members live in homes without things we take for granted, including running water, sturdy walls or a proper roof. 
And then there’s the food, or rather the lack of food, for Cuban people. Layson described “simple family-style meals” that included salads, fresh fruits and meat.
Our meals consisted largely of white rice mixed with so few beans, had I counted them on my fingers and toes, I would have had digits to spare. Though my cousin provided dinner for us every night we were there, they were only able to give us breakfast on the first day and lunch for maybe three days. Dinner almost never included meat. 
Finding enough to eat is a constant struggle where a package of dried beans at the government-run store costs $4.95 and salaries range from $5 to $12 per month.
There is free medical care, but unless you are a tourist, it is really only available for serious ailments like broken bones or cancer. I too got sick with what sounds like the same ailment described in Layson’s  article. Despite the fact that we have a doctor in the family, I was treated at home with an herb tea heated in a rusted tin can, because like running water, roofs and meat, pans are a luxury most can’t afford.  
While tourists were listening to street-opera performances, I listened to one cousin talk about being jailed for catching fish without permission in an effort to feed his family, and several who described being punished at work for perceived slights to the Communist government, which is ever-present. In one short week, we were stopped and questioned by the police several times, made to check in with government officials and visited by the Communist block leader.
More and more Americans are able to visit Cuba through tours like the one  Layson participated in and they come home as newly minted experts on Cuba. They should know that every aspect of their trip has been carefully monitored and scripted by the government and that ordinary Cubans would never share their true thoughts about their situation with anyone but their closest friends or family because they simply can’t take that risk. 
There will come a time when the embargo must be lifted and that time may indeed be sooner rather than later, but it is important to understand that the passion expressed by Cuban-Americans about the political situation is not simply due to “emotions,” as the Cuban government would have you believe, but rather from seeing the suffering their families continue to endure under Castro’s repressive regime.
Suzanne Gray
Frankfort
Some hits
and misses
To the Editor:
I enjoyed Mr. Wolcott’s kind letter in which he characterized me as “smart” for shutting up for extended periods. He did call me a “good writer,” however. That’s appreciated. Most responses to my letters aren’t so charitable; one called me “an incompetent essayist,” almost sending me to join Mr. Carlin in one of Bob Newhart’s group therapy session reruns. As regards how the writer “imagines” me, he “misses the mark” (pun intended). He describes a fairly stereotypical image of a liberal: i.e. a cross between Ichabod Crane and Trotsky. My own stereotype of a right-wing conservative is Brom Bones (competent, arrogant, aggressive, having a mean streak and terrifying hapless non-union schoolteachers). Anyway, I’ve never had a ponytail. He missed my age by 10 years, and I have never driven a Volvo, being more of the Silverado/Jeep persuasion. Also, I’ve never worn “round wire-rim glasses.” I was once slender, but age, house renovations, laying floors, keeping the farm from falling into ruin have rendered me somewhat of a superannuated Brom Bones. Other descriptors not fitting a “liberal” image might include owning one or two guns and having been a member of the NRA; not since it became the cheerleader for America’s growing cult of lethality. Also, as a college student I belonged to the Young Republicans, until I woke up and smelled the (burning) coffee. They say if you remember the 1960s, you weren’t there. But I vaguely remember serving during (not in) Vietnam (submarine service). I even voted (once) for Reagan.
Mr. Wolcott makes an accurate observation. A frequent and predictable writer will be avoided, as the un-persuaded reader “already knows what he is going to say” (i.e. just more logic, reason, facts, opinions in support of the team I don’t belong to). Fact is, I write mostly just to get the words out of my head. Minds are rarely changed by information, opinions or argument; they are changed by fear and experience. When independents and Southern Democrats experience a fear of what radical Republicanism is doing, and has in store for us, they will anticipate reading letters like mine, not for information but for confirmation of what they’ve become willing (that is, compelled by experience) to acknowledge.
Please indulge me in some verse (or worse) regarding the above: How do our minds work? What can we say? Truth be told, may be this way: Like some beast we can suppose, born with 10 prehensile toes; an opposite thumb and clicking tongue, to write and speak, yet still be dumb to say how most of thought-filled deeds are but reflected primal needs. As Sisyphus we all are reeling, our reason but the fossil stone of ancient fears and feeling.
I must decline the writer’s kind offer of a conversation at Poor Richard’s book and coffee shop. That seems a bit “stereotypical.” Maybe we can get together at a whiskey bar some rainy day. For now, I’ll just talk to myself a while longer.
Mark Henry
Frankfort
Pill bill will
be a real pain
To the Editor:
Has the Kentucky General Assembly gone absolutely crazy? Have they really passed a bill to control pill mills in eastern Kentucky that forces every doctor in the entire state to request a KASPER (Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting System) report on every patient that gets strong pain medication (Schedule II or III)?
A 10-year-old with a broken arm requires a KASPER report for needed pain medication? Every surgery patient of every surgeon, gynecologist, oral surgeon and optometrist has to have a KASPER requested? (Oops! I’m sorry! The legislator’s friend, the optometrist, was exempted by name). How many thousands of patients fall into this category every day? How much staff has the state set aside for this? How much extra staff will a surgeon have to hire to do all this reporting?
All this because the governor and the attorney general can’t enforce the law east of I-75? So let’s just punish everybody! Doctors and patients! This will translate into decreased use of strong pain medications even when they are perfectly appropriate. So, when Steve Beshear or Jack Conway have to have surgery, I hope their doctors recommend they just pick up a bottle of Advil!
How many ways can the government screw things up? Do they have to burn down the barn to get rid of the rats? Whatever happened to common sense?
I apologize for the oxymoron.
Tim Hulsey, MD
Bowling Green
Voting mode
is outdated
To the Editor:
When will government bring our voting procedures and structure to the 21st century? A recent polling by NBC-MARIST poll of Florida showed an advance in voter participation because of using cell phones for their survey. This is not an endorsement for any politico; however, politico needs to get with it and bring our voting procedures to modern data processing times.
In the Florida polling by NBC, the survey structure suggests the reason for an edge for Obama is young voters have a tendency to communicate mostly by cell phone.
Romney leads with landline respondents, 48-45 percent.
However, Obama leads among cell phone respondents, 57-34 percent.
Moreover, in Virginia, Romney’s up one among landline folks, 47-46 percent, while Obama is up 54-36 percent with cell users. Note: Twenty eight percent of survey interviews in Ohio and Florida were conducted on cellphone; 27 percent in Virginia.)
According to the January-June 2011 National Health Interview Survey, part of annual in-person interviews collecting health statistics, in the first six months of 2011, 31.6 percent of U.S. households were  “wireless only.” That’s a significant increase of 5 percent when compared to the number of wireless-only households counted in the first six months of 2010. The number of wireless-only households has nearly doubled since the first half of 2008. Nationally, the age demographic changing fastest into wireless-only households is the 18-44 group. As a whole 46.3 percent of those households are wireless-only ­– a significant increase of 18.9 percent since 2008. Within that age group, the largest growth was in the 18-29 range, where more than half, 52.4 percent, live in wireless-only households.
If our scientists can write software to land and retrieve a rocket on the moon, why then can’t we write software allowing voters to cast a ballot by PC, cell phone or any other mainstream data-processing software?
With the present numbers very disappointing – just over 40 percent vote – the expansion as seen in the NBC survey shows a participation of more than 20 percent. Simple math would indicate by adding that amount of votes, the total voters now has reached the 60 percent mark.
In this technology era, it is imperative that vote casting be simple and mobile. This action will not take place without the endorsement and push by the commonwealth’s secretary of state.
Jim Anderson Stivers
Frankfort
Stand up for
clean water
To the Editor:
Elkhorn Creek is a special place in our region, providing a place where we all love to fish. For more than a decade, though, our waterways have been at risk of more pollution, thanks to two polluter-driven Supreme Court decisions. More than 6.6 million pounds of toxic industrial pollution were dumped into Kentucky’s waterways in 2010. Unfortunately, just as President Obama is about to sign off on new protections for our waterways, Congress voted to keep many of Kentucky’s waterways inadequately protected by the Clean Water Act by blocking an amendment to the House Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 5325) from Congressmen Jim Moran (VA) and John Dingell (MI).
I am disappointed in Congressman Ben Chandler for voting against the Moran-Dingell amendment and failing to protect Kentucky’s waterways. I hope our senators do the right thing and vote against this attempt to weaken the Clean Water Act when it moves to the Senate.
Molly Bisulca
Environment America Washington, D.C.

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