A chance for Floridians to redraw rigged districts | Nov. 28, commentary
District boundaries defy logic
While I welcomed Daniel Smith's column on the need to do a better job creating competitive U.S. congressional districts, I wish the paper had followed the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. Nothing reveals the absurdity and blatant partisan political influences at work in the district boundary line-drawing process than actual maps of the congressional districts themselves. They defy logic, unless you are part of the Republican and Democratic party machinery, which wants to make sure the district lines are drawn to their own — and not the voters' — maximum benefit.
The congressional districts in the Tampa Bay area — the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th — are textbook examples of this "gerrymandering."
My favorite is the 11th. This masterful work of art includes much of Tampa before it heads south hugging a narrow strip of Tampa Bay shoreline so it then can dip down into just enough reliably Democratic precincts near Bradenton before it turns north to travel across the Sunshine Skyway (!) where it can pick up more Democratic areas of south St. Petersburg, including Midtown. Absolutely incredible.
Florida voters may have the opportunity to say "Enough!" next November. Let's hope the proposed measures establishing fair and impartial standards for drawing district lines make it onto the ballot. Perhaps then voters will be able to realize competitive legislative districts that reflect logical geographic realities and not the self-serving, narrow political ambitions of party and legislative leaders.
Rick Carson, St. Petersburg
Don't delay on climate | Nov. 28, editorial
Consider all sides of global warming
The editorial seems to assume that the need for serious action on climate change is beyond dispute. But let's look at three questions that all must be answered in the affirmative before we take any action.
1. Is the planet warming up?
2. Is the observed warming human-caused?
Perhaps, but the doubts that exist are legitimate. It is clear that Earth has been warming since the last ice age, not just since 1900. The Florida peninsula used to be three times bigger than it is now, but the sea rose and covered most of it before man ever arrived. Florida may continue to shrink whether or not man does anything. Yes, the idea that greenhouse gases are making things go faster is scientifically plausible, but that does not guarantee that it is correct. Proper debate is healthy.
3. Is global warming actually a bad thing?
This is the real issue. It is my impression, reading mainstream news sources, that many people are just assuming without proof that climate change will always be bad. Do we know for sure that the Sahara will increase in size? Do we know that the rain forests will dry up and disappear? Many of the supposed evils of global warming are pure conjecture, and even the likely ones seem to ignore any possibility that positive results might outweigh the negative. Just to mention one possibility, it might be that climate change could make it possible to grow food crops much farther north than we can now, and allow us to bring into cultivation vast areas of Canada and Siberia that are currently wasteland.
Finally, there is this: The fixes currently under discussion cannot be taken seriously. If human industrial activity began to impact the environment around 1940 or 1950, then we would have to return at least to those levels of greenhouse gas emissions to solve the problem. Returning to the level of 1990, or even 1970, would only slow the rate of increase, not bring about a decrease. Since there is no way that we are going to roll the clock back to 1950 soon enough to do any good (if the warnings are in fact correct), we might as well have an honest and open-minded discussion about the possible benefits, as well as the evils, of global warming.
Dean Kennedy, Palm Harbor
Don't delay on climate | Nov. 28, editorial
Beware a hoax
I am absolutely stunned that you would write this editorial calling for immediate action on climate change just days after the recent release of e-mails, data and computer programs showing that global warming may be the biggest science hoax ever perpetrated.
This issue is no longer the climate, it is wholly about politics. I would urge you and your readers to investigate what is going on. Of course you will have to use the Internet as this paper and the rest of the mainstream media are not covering the story.
Tony Semik, Tampa
Chip Bok cartoon | Nov. 27
Don't distort the issue
This editorial cartoon is deliberately dishonest. There have not even been accusations by the deniers of global warming that scientists have faked the data for global warming, as suggested by your cartoon. You should run an op-ed piece by a scientist, like Dr. James Hansen, telling what has really been measured. This is a critical issue that must be addressed by our society.
It does not contribute to public discussion of these issues when newspapers run these type of flagrant lies to distort the issues. You need to check your facts before you accuse scientists of dishonesty.
Michael Sweet, Valrico
White House party crashers
A useful test
The couple who crashed Barack Obama's first state dinner should be appreciated by the Secret Service, not condemned or charged with a crime.
The Secret Service and its procedures got a pass this time because the crashers caused no harm, just an embarrassment. This breach allows the Secret Service to review its policies and procedures and make revisions to prevent this in the future. The next crashers may be there to kill the president.
Why didn't the Secret Service send in its own crashers to test their system? Yes, the crashers should be thanked. They performed an invaluable service.
Hardy W. Bryan, St. Petersburg
Consider nation crashers
So uninvited guests showed up at the president's state dinner and made it through security. Are there dinner-crashing laws? So what's the big deal?
For years millions of uninvited guests (undocumented workers) flow into my country, kill people, blow up buildings, put Americans out of work, get welfare and health care, etc., and nobody in Washington seems to care. And there are supposedly laws against these acts.
I'm sorry but I can't get excited about two people getting an unauthorized dinner.
George Fox, Apollo Beach
A sensible cab system
Alaska has a wonderful solution for its elderly who no longer drive: Seniors can take a taxi within a five- mile radius from their pickup point for just $2 per trip. They go out to eat, to the doctor, to the store, to a movie, wherever, for just $4 for a round trip.
I have no idea what agency subsidizes this program, but the cabbies seem perfectly happy with the arrangement, and the seniors are going, doing, seeing and not endangering themselves or others. Let's figure out a way for Florida to follow suit.
Judy Batson, Tampa