U.S. guns fueling drug wars | March 9, editorial
Violence is rooted in drug policy
The Times editorial relating to guns and the drug wars reflects a complete loss of perspective. It focuses upon guns as the cause of the violence and threat to security in Mexico and the United States.
The real cause is our idiotic drug laws, which make drug trafficking so profitable and give rise to the cartels. The situation is very much like that which prevailed during our Prohibition era, which was characterized by organized crime and associated violence. It is very much unlike that era in that we came to our collective senses and repealed the 18th Amendment. Our "war on drugs" has lasted many decades with no end in sight.
The editorial calls for President Obama to use the inter-American summit as a stage to craft a strategy for dealing with this threat to security. Fine! Let's call for step one to be legislation within the United States to identify drug abuse as a health problem — and subsequent steps to address the reform of all the associated criminalization aspects.
Donald Barnhill, Trinity
New laws not needed
You are correct that the real work is at the border. Our porous border allows these illicit activities to flourish. But you are wrong on several other counts.
U.S. gun laws do not allow for the general sale of automatic weapons. Automatic weapons have been greatly restricted since the National Firearms Act of 1934, and since 1986 no newly manufactured automatic weapons can be added to the transferable list. You speak of cracking down on dealers who supply known straw buyers with guns. Well, if these straw purchasers are known, they should be arrested and charged for violating the Gun Control Act of 1968.
Your veiled call for new restrictions on the freedoms of law-abiding Americans is disingenuous; it is not lax gun laws that are the problem, it is lax enforcement of current laws.
Winston Harr, Tampa
A boost to trade?
An item in the Opinion section noted how guns bought in the United States are ending up in the hands of the Mexican drug cartels, while the Mexican cartels' drugs are ending up in the United States.
For all you "naysayers" out there, maybe NAFTA really is starting to work.
Dennis P. Condon, Palm Harbor
Sensible limits on lawyers' fees | March 5, editorial
You get what you pay for
I read with interest your editorial in support of the cap on attorney fees when the staff hires outside counsel.
This is a classic example of a bill that is good politics (let's kick the lawyers, again) but is totally unnecessary and, in fact, dumb. It's a solution in search of a problem — a veritable "bill to nowhere."
Somebody out there must remember that the "Tobacco Case" fees were negotiated at length by Gov. Lawton Chiles' office before he signed the contract. Big Tobacco had never been beaten in a courtroom anywhere in the world. The state needed the A-team. They got it. They won. At that point, the state refused to pay. Shades of the Pied Piper, I guess.
The problem with Sen. Mike Fasano's bill is that it purports to protect those who don't need protecting. It confuses us with the real bad guys. After it passes, any global wrongdoer who wants to dump faulty products, dangerous drugs or poisonous chemicals into our environment will be astounded to learn that we have capped our own attorney's fees — in advance! Their strategy will be to simply expand the litigation to the point where the state's lawyers make less than the minimum wage. In law, as in politics, you get what you pay for.
Thomas W. Carey, Esq., Clearwater
Notice beauty, dismiss brains? | March 7
Brain was the problem
A professor and a graduate student at the University of South Florida have developed a theory that it was Sarah Palin's beauty that made it difficult for people to vote for her. As a former professor and a registered Republican, I can assure the professor that it wasn't her beauty that made people turn away from her, it was her brains.
Starting with the interview with Katie Couric, Palin demonstrated a severe lack of knowledge about facts that she would need to know if she were to help run the country.
In America, good looks always help with the public, and for the USF team to assert that the voter is so shallow that they allowed Palin's good looks to stop them from supporting her is an insult to all voters.
Roger W. Gambert, Palm Harbor
Notice beauty, dismiss brains? | March 7
Not very reliable
As a former president of an international market research firm, I would like to point out that this article about Sarah Palin is misleading.
The 133 undergraduates is not a projectable sample of public opinion. Further, the group was divided into four smaller groups for the testing. That means that the statistical reliability of the findings is so wide as to render them virtually meaningless.
The elements of the article are interesting, but at best, the story is anecdotal.
Paul Myles, Largo
Obscuring the news
I am writing to address a long-standing concern I have for the minimization of visibility in the printed media of news articles that are critical to having a well informed public.
In the Times March 9 issue, above the fold, you had a large color picture of The new Britney, while back on Page 4A was an article Obama's bold agenda getting a push-back from Democrats.
It is obvious that the Times considers Britney more newsworthy. I ask you, Mr. Editor, as a citizen of your country, which article do you consider to be more newsworthy?
The leadership of the Times is doing their readers and their country a disservice by minimization of visibility of important news.
William Rohlfs, Largo
The new Britney | March 9
I find it distressing the St. Petersburg Times would choose to publish a large picture of Britney Spears on the front page.
I have had a great deal of respect for this newspaper, its investigative reporting and insightful editorial content, but now my respect has been significantly lowered.
The choice of the prominent position of this photo moves this newspaper downward alongside the checkout counter entertainment magazines and edutainment journals.
Jay Hall, Tampa