Insult mars Bush Iraq trip | Dec. 15, story
Bush brought freedom to dissent
How ironic that an Iraqi citizen should hurl his shoes in contempt at the very man who provided him the freedom to do so.
Imagine the consequences of such an act just six years ago under the sadistic dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.
A higher compliment to what President Bush and our military accomplished in Iraq could be not be more clearly demonstrated than this Iraqi citizen expressing his newly acquired freedom of speech and right to dissent.
David Tribbey, Largo
Giving Bush the boot
How very appropriate that the Iraqis give Bush the "boot," as it were.
While I do not advocate violence, if the only punishment for one who has so deliberately caused death, violence, pain and suffering for all these years is thrown shoes, please know that I symbolically throw all my shoes too and suggest the fallen soldiers' boots be added to the melee.
Marilyn Dewey, St. Petersburg
Snapshot of a failed leader
What a historic, iconic encapsulation of world opinion of a failed administration and its failed president. Millions of people worldwide and in the United States will share applause with the Iraq journalist who threw his shoes at the president. The shoe in the air is the commentary on the administration. The ducking president is the apt picture of a man who ducked overseas service in the Vietnam War and who ducked important decisions that his people needed.
John Christy Clement, Tierra Verde
Spying in U.S. 'didn't smell right' | Dec. 15, story
A sterling moral compass
Former Justice Department lawyer Thomas Tamm earns my admiration and respect for being the only Bush administration employee to expose Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program (before it was common knowledge) in December 2005. And why did he do it? He says because "I had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution."
In this time of secrecy and deception by our government, it is refreshing to see that some people have their moral compass pointed in the correct direction.
Gail Randle, Clearwater
Executive pay limits 'all but gone' with Bush's change to bailout bill | Dec. 15, story
In it for themselves
I think this article should have been on the front page. I think the average person would want to know that the Bush administration changed the language of the bailout bill to say that the only firms affected (banks, financial companies) would be the ones selling troubled assets to the government at auction. There have been no auctions so far, and I doubt that there will be. I resent and am angry about bailing out companies that get tax money and then go on an expensive retreat and give executives big bonuses and year-end stock options.
If President-elect Barack Obama wants to build the infrastructure (electrical grid, highways, bridges, etc.), as we should, he better put in place that any contractor who hires illegals will be prosecuted. But Congress won't do that because then they won't get all the money under the table from lobbyists.
I love my country and hate what has been happening to it because of apathy by all of us voters. I hope we woke up this past election, and we need to continue to make sure that we change the norm in Washington. As it stands, I feel that every senator and representative is in government for what they can do for themselves, not for us.
R. Wismer, New Port Richey
A natural warrior at 18 | Dec. 16, story
I was deeply moved to read the article about teen activist Mathew Poling and his gargantuan task in taking on Pinellas County with a lawsuit to protect Brooker Creek from development.
For years the county has been chipping away at the sovereignty of this land with their revolving door of artful deception, and environmentally aware citizens are fed up with it. Now they want land use changes that would allow a reservoir and utilities buildings more than five stories tall on 260 preserve acres north of Keystone Road. This is outrageous.
Did they or did they not already violate state law with the buildings they already constructed? Doesn't state law designate the land for preservation? I admire Poling for his courage and tenacity in taking on the responsibility of protecting Brooker Creek from further poaching and defilement. Please do not let Poling fight this battle alone — we all could lose forever.
Karen Weibel Burton, Dunedin
Wealthy should step up
Since moving here several years ago, I have read numerous articles concerning the difficulties facing the Florida Orchestra.
The Tampa Bay metro area is considerably larger than the greater Pittsburgh area, where I lived and worked as a professional musician for decades.
In spite of the many obvious signs of wealth here, the musicians of the Florida Orchestra are paid a fraction of their counterparts in Pittsburgh. To be specific, base pay here is about $28,000 and in Pittsburgh over $100,000.
Does this mean the musicians in Pittsburgh are three or four times better than those in the Florida Orchestra? Hardly. Both organizations are composed of highly skilled, dedicated professionals.
The difference is that in Pittsburgh, the orchestra is largely supported by a small group of very wealthy individuals who understand the importance of maintaining a cultural organization which benefits the entire community in many ways.
It is common knowledge that ticket sales alone will never generate enough income to sustain a full-time symphony orchestra. It's time for the very wealthy among us to lend support to an organization that represents the best of the Tampa Bay area.
Martin Bernstein, Palm Harbor
Utility's basin options dry up | Dec. 16, story
Put meters on water use
Until a government authority mandates water meters for all of Florida, the state is going to suffer from water shortages.
Homeowners should be charged for the installation of the meters by adding a few dollars to each month's bill, or given the option of buying the meter outright. In the park I live in as a snowbird, I know my water usage is very reasonable and only for six months of the year. A water meter would likely save me money.
Janet Marr, Largo
Smokers won't take it | Dec. 10, letter
A burden on society
A reader responded to Sue Carlton's column regarding an increase in the cigarette tax. She supports this tax, and the letter writer cited a number of statistics to argue against the increase.
Perhaps this purveyor of tobacco products might explain to me why I, and others like me, must pay 1) to clean up the nasty butts smokers strew across the land, 2) for the expensive health care smokers require as a direct result of their smoking, 3) to clean my clothes after their smoke stinks up everything I wear, 4) for my own health care because of illness as a result of being forced to breathe second-hand smoke and 5) to bury loved ones killed by the smoke of smokers.
As soon as smokers begin paying their own way, I will support their efforts to poison themselves.
As a beginning let us first, instead of taxes, just assign every smoker an intersection. It would be their responsibility to keep that intersection free of cigarette butts.
Jonathan Hurley, Dunedin