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Barack Obama is hardly insulated from criticism

Don't dare disagree with Obama | July 17, Bill Maxwell column

Obama is hardly insulated from criticism Can anyone explain to me what the heck Bill Maxwell is talking about? His mostly negative, factually anorexic op-ed piece takes Sen. Barack Obama to task for fostering an atmosphere that doesn't allow, or doesn't tolerate, criticism very well.

Is he kidding? We know Maxwell must have some familiarity with Fox News since Jesse Jackson made his now-famous anatomical makeover suggestion of Obama on Fox, but has he seen Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly, or heard any of the conservative radio talk shows? I invite Maxwell to do a Lexis/Nexis search on the words "flip-flop" and "Obama" to see how many times national media outlets have labeled (that's right — criticized) Obama for changing positions.

Maxwell's first point about Obama: "You had better watch it when you offer a litany of his flip-flops" or expect the Spanish Inquisition. Obama has reversed his position, by my count, twice. Once about not accepting government campaign funds to raise unlimited private funds to fight what will inevitably be a nasty campaign to counter the new round of swift-boaters. And changing his vote on FISA. A disappointing vote, no doubt. If journalists would do their job and research issues before throwing around labels, it would be a good start.

John McCain, by the count of one well respected national blogger, has changed his positions so far 64 times (the Carpetbagger Report). We don't hear that very much in the media, do we?

What makes me think Maxwell is taking journalistic shortcuts? He offers no other criticism of Obama, except the very cryptic: "Thousands of other blacks dislike or even despise Obama, but they dare not let on." Really? Why would that be? Because he's "hypersensitive"? Is that a reason for being despised? And what evidence do we have of that?

Oh, that's right — the whole New Yorker cover. The cover that was condemned as intemperate, in bad taste and disrespectful of Muslims by, well, pretty much everyone. Even Sen. McCain to his great credit.

I perhaps have just wasted my time, since Maxwell will just view this letter as another attempt to squelch his free speech and defend Obama's with hypersensitivity, rather than look at the merit of my issues. Sad thing.

Walter Blenner, Tarpon Springs Don't dare disagree with Obama | July 17, Bill Maxwell column

Obama takes the high road

Bill Maxwell's column taking Barack Obama supporters to task for being, in his opinion, so needlessly sensitive to remarks or magazine covers that they consider tasteless clarified for me much of what appeals to me about Obama. I have no idea what kind of a president he might actually make. But what I do know is that so far I've seen Obama consistently taking the high road.

At one point, toward the end of her campaign, Hillary Clinton was hanging on by a thread and I expected Obama to take advantage of her weakness and crush her by saying her efforts had become futile. He didn't. He has consistently refused to engage in the name-calling, labeling and smearing that I've come to expect from our politicians. So, for me, his supporters asking for more civility from everyone is just another step in the right direction.

As for Maxwell's problems with blacks solidifying their support for the first black presidential candidate, I'd say such unity is also a good sign. Personally, I'm surprised that clever Republican spin doctors have not already succeeded in somehow turning Obama's black supporters against him. I'm a cynic regarding politics. And I'm eager to be proved wrong.

Alan Reeder Camponi, St. Petersburg

Don't dare disagree with Obama | July 17, Bill Maxwell column

Generation gap

It is a shame that the older black leaders, including Bill Maxwell, can't, or won't, adjust to a new type of black leader, who doesn't interest himself with only black issues.

People like Maxwell and the Rev. Jesse Jackson represent the black society of 40 years ago when things were much worse for their community. They fail to see that the leaders of today appeal to the youth of America, both black and white, and have different concerns than they did.

If the older black leaders can't accept the new leadership, they should just fade away rather than criticizing Barack Obama and his supporters.

Roger W. Gambert, Palm Harbor

Don't dare disagree with Obama | July 17, Bill Maxwell column

Sour satire

I respect Bill Maxwell's writing and enjoy his column, but I think he is mistaken on the New Yorker magazine cover. First, satire backfires when it is mistakenly perceived as truth. There are plenty of people in this country whose suspicions of Barack Obama as a secret Muslim (with nefarious plans for the nation) have not abated, and this is exactly the kind of image the far right would choose to fuel that perception. As advertisers know, we tend to be persuaded by what we see.

Second, some satire crosses over into the territory of viciousness and leaves a bad taste, like swallowing a mouthful of vinegar. True satire ought to possess a kind of grace and a sense of its own limits. I am not accusing the New Yorker of viciousness; I just believe they did not think this one through.

Furthermore, the vulgarity whispered by Jesse Jackson deserves the condemnation that goes with it. Outraged reaction has nothing to do with suppressing "free speech," which should also be "civil."

Nancy E. Moore, Riverview

Satire? What's that? | July 17, letter

Apologetic native

It never ceases to amuse me when people like the letter writer, who for some reason moved to Clearwater, feel compelled to insult natives of Clearwater with sophomoric attempts at satire, by suggesting Florida natives are school dropouts lacking sophistication.

As a native of Clearwater, I would like to apologize for not being as suave, erudite and urbane as the letter writer thinks he is.

It's hard for me to recall what Clearwater was like before the letter writer and the rest of the transplants arrived to bring us their witty and cosmopolitan intellect. Oh, I just remembered. Clearwater was a paradise.

R. Padgett, Clearwater

Satire? What's that? | July 17, letter

Leave us to our misery

I realize that it must be incredibly difficult to live among us knuckle-dragging troglodytes who are generally referred to as natives — although I neither own a spear or shield. What with hurricanes, bugs, hanging chads, sharks, heat and homeowners insurance, it's a wonder anyone can survive on this miserable peninsula.

There is an option for those of you who have come here to drag us yokels out of the darkness and into the light, but have failed in that task. I would ask that you leave this hellhole posthaste, returning to from whence you came.

Michael Norona, Tampa

Calamities shake faith in capitalism | July 15

Addicted to money

E.J. Dionne's column on capitalism hit the nail right on the head. What he is saying in simple terms is that ever since the New Deal's installations of safeguards protecting the United States from predatory investors, organized capital has made every effort to eat away at these changes. Every time they get a free rein and introduce laissez-faire-type legislation it backfires, leaving the government to bail out these greedy people.

Uncontrolled capitalism is like an addiction that keeps repeating itself from generation to generation.

Jack Levine, Palm Harbor

Agency should track food, field to table July 17, editorial

The ones really to blame

Your editorial grumbles rightly about lax performance by the Food and Drug Administration. In the letters section, a writer grumbles, rightly, that Medicare's investigations into fraud leave a lot to be desired. Another writer grumbles, less rightly, about "incompetent government-run bureaucracies."

All miss a vital point. These agencies all respond to congressional directives and funding. If Congress orders investigations (and provides oversight), they happen — if they're funded adequately. If Congress orders personnel cuts (because of surreptitious budget manipulations to pay for wars and tax cuts), government-run bureaucracies will indeed perform incompetently.

We are a nation of cheapskates, more interested in the immediate (usually overhyped) tax cut than in supporting vital agencies or maintaining infrastructure. As long as we insist on "free" breakfast and dinner as well as lunch, we'll be served unsafe food.

Eileen O'Sullivan, St. Petersburg

Barack Obama is hardly insulated from criticism 07/20/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 25, 2008 5:37pm]
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