Candidates should focus on important issues
As the fall presidential election nears, and with the Democratic nomination still in doubt, there remain only three people campaigning, and one of them will be the next president of the United States. With so many critically important issues facing the country and the world, it is disappointing to hear very few of them being debated. Instead, we are exposed to issues like whose clergymen are saying what on the pulpit, who is telling fibs, whether the candidates' spouses are an asset or a liability to the candidates, whose experience best qualifies the candidate or not. I, for one, am rather saturated with trivia and personal attacks. Is it too much for the voters to ask for more meaningful discussion of major issues?
We have a war going on against global terrorism. Is the war in Iraq directly addressing that problem, or are resources being diverted into a futile military struggle in Iraq? How do we best provide quality health care for all citizens? How do we bolster our sagging economy, reduce the alarming rate of our national debt, stop the shrinkage of the dollar, improve national security, address global warming and maintain our deteriorating infrastructure? There are so many other vital and central issues.
Is it too much to ask for the candidates to minimize the trivia and accentuate the genuine issues confronting our nation? Is it too much to ask for the electorate to be aware of the issues and to make an informed decision as to which candidate is best equipped to address these problems and to govern wisely and effectively?
Norman Orenstein, Clearwater
Obama's "bitter" comment
As a former resident of a small town in Pennsylvania, I am shocked and dismayed by Barack Obama's use of the word "bitter" when talking about immigration, church attendance and gun ownership.
I am now worried that he has embraced the kind of bitter comments of his personal religious teacher (the Rev. Jeremiah Wright). Instead of applying logic and goodwill, he has now switched to putting others in the same "boat" with the Black Power advocates of the 1960s.
I will, now for the first time, seek to have him explain his past education and religious training. One must wonder if he truly believes what he says. If he does, I will flee from both him and his comments about small-town America. If he has an adequate answer, I will still listen. I'm truly at a loss for such ill-tempered remarks.
Ernest Shoeman, Clearwater
There is bitterness
Let me start by saying I am a fan of Hillary Clinton, but I have to comment on all the ruckus over Sen. Barack Obama saying that he thought some voters of Pennsylvania were bitter. I don't get what all the fuss is about. People are bitter. I am bitter.
I am bitter that our economy is in the tank, bitter that every time I go to the gas station I feel like I have to take out a second mortgage just for a fill-up. I am bitter that locally we don't have elected officials with the foresight to build real mass transit. I am bitter that, like the majority of Americans, I fell for the line George W. Bush presented before the Iraq war. I am bitter that this war has cost more than $500-billion while the infrastructure of our own country is crumbling. I am bitter over extraordinary rendition, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and secret prisons. I am bitter that the prices of staple items are rising faster than my paycheck. I am bitter that friends and neighbors are losing their homes because they can no longer afford their mortgage while the CEO of Countrywide gets $20-million in stock.
Recent polls show that close to 80 percent of Americans feel our country is headed in the wrong direction. Bitter: The word seems to fit.
Daniel Kanouff, Tampa
Obama doesn't get it
It is not the choice of the word "bitter" that upsets people who have positions on guns, religion, immigration and trade that are different from those of Barack Obama.
It is the characterization that those beliefs arise from and are a way of coping with the loss of jobs. To say that our belief in God is a substitute for prosperity is just another way of saying, "I know better."
Mark Stephens, Land O'Lakes
America in white & black | April 13, story
During an interview on March 20 on a Philadelphia radio show, Barack Obama tried to excuse his white grandmother's prejudiced fears and actions by explaining that "she is a typical white person."
Obama took the bad acts of one person and transferred them to an entire race of people. Isn't that the very definition of racism, prejudice and stereotyping? And this is the man who is going to lead us in a new conversation on race? I don't think so.
Most of us typical white people don't like being accused of racism by someone who speaks in stereotypes while exhibiting his own feelings of racism. Sen. Obama's April 6 comments about how small-town Americans cling to religion out of bitterness, while certainly milder than his March 20 comment, is just one more example of his willingness to stereotype people. Both of these comments were unscripted and off the cuff, a glimpse at his inner thoughts. His inner thoughts are neither presidential or attractive.
Paul Starr, Treasure Island
Double-dipping may be deserved | April 8, letter
Academics made a choice
The letter writer says academic physicians deserve their double-dipping income because they earned far less than practicing physicians. Whose choice was it to teach and not have their own practice?
Let's see: As an educator he or she has a set schedule and salary, paid vacations, retirement benefits, no staffing worries, no malpractice insurance, rent, etc. A physician in private practice has to deal with staffing, malpractice insurance and erratic schedules — basically one has to run a small business that has a lot of red tape. The practitioner must maintain patient records for 10 years, and when he or she wants a vacation it is without pay, because if patients aren't being seen, no income is generated.
Academic physicians don't have to wait 30 to 120 days for a check from an insurance company, which is routine for their counterparts. That is an enormous headache the professor is spared. Physicians at universities chose to teach, so let's not justify their double-dipping. Teaching was their choice.
Diane Wayne, Tarpon Springs
Florida's war on knowledge | April 14, commentary
Pruitt not to blame
All of us share the frustration at not having adequate funding for our university system or for that matter other very important state programs.
Senate President Ken Pruitt must not be blamed for our funding difficulties. They can be traced to a range of decisions that precede the senator's term of office. In fact Sen. Pruitt has made a significant and sustained contribution to our advanced research initiatives in the state university system and has almost single-handedly found funding for Centers of Excellence, research commercialization and other 21st century programs to advance knowledge.
For that we should be grateful.
Mark B. Rosenberg, chancellor, State University System of Florida, Tallahassee
Bring back Jack! | April 4
Picturing the good old days
I could not agree with Jeff Klinkenberg more in his article about master photographer Jack Swenningsen.
Shortly after arriving in Treasure Island in 1961 with my family to accept management of its Chamber of Commerce, it was my pleasure to work with Jack and our ad agency, W.M. Zemp & Associates, in the revision of our color promotional brochure. The color photo in the article was arranged in a neighbor's back yard, with Jack's beautiful daughter as the model, and local residents as the participants. The brochure was such a hit with the Florida welcome stations that we were asked for permission to use it on the cover of the state brochure! This and other promotional items (major newspaper ads, billboards, an updated promotional film) and our cooperation with Bob McHenry, the outstanding leader of the red-hot Florida Development Commission, led to the chamber winning the Governor's Award for Tourist Promotion in 1962.
Unfortunately, those days seem to be gone forever, but I'm happy to see that "one of the best in the business" is still doing photo gigs at the age of 91!
Julian Fant, Treasure Island