Nation has more barriers to surmount
In reading the comments in Wednesday's paper with regard to President Obama's election, one would think that his race was more cause for celebration than his beliefs. Obviously he won the votes of people from all races, not just those who share his skin color. So, the racial barrier has been broken and that is a goal met.
The next barriers to overcome are hatred and disrespect for our fellow citizens. Many say that our country is finally united. Time will tell as events unfold under this as-yet-untested president. Americans should strive to set a new high-level bar of decency, respect and concern for each other, unlike what has been increasingly displayed in recent times. Hopefully President Obama's beliefs will lead us in this direction. Then we will have more to celebrate.
Jean Schutt, Tampa
Respect is one-sided
There it was, the new America of unity and bipartisanship and respect: the inaugural "nah, nah, nah, nah …" mocking of departing President George W. Bush as the new president took the podium.
There it was just before the inauguration as Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and their fellow travelers announced intentions to pursue prosecutions of Bush, Dick Cheney and other members of the now past administration for pursuing terrorists too vigorously.
There it was, too, echoed in numerous newspaper columns and Internet blogs, and political postings, the visceral hatred toward Bush and company.
And, there it was, too, thinly veiled, but not too subtle, in President Obama's inauguration speech with references to ideals allegedly suspended in the pursuit of safety.
And there it was again, after the inauguration when Speaker Pelosi declared that Bush's leaving felt like "a 10-pound anvil was lifted off my head."
Will respect and bipartisanship exist only in the context of allegiance to the new party line?
Bill Northrop, North Redington Beach
Obama seems to be off to a good start
Progressive voters have a right to be encouraged by the new president and the Democratically led Congress. In one of his first acts, President Barack Obama is expected to lift the so-called global gag rule that requires any overseas organization receiving U.S. aid not have anything to do with abortion.
Since President Bush re-established the global gag rule in 2001, 20 developing countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East have lost U.S. funding and donated contraceptives. Many organizations and clinics have been forced to limit services or shut down completely, endangering the health and lives of many women.
In addition, President Obama has already stated his objections to the "provider conscience regulation," the last-minute Bush administration rule that grants broad new protections to health care providers who can refuse medical help to patients because of the providers' "religious beliefs or moral convictions." The "provider conscience regulation" elevates the conscience of the provider over the health and well-being of the patient and can impact a woman's right to abortion, contraceptives and reproductive information.
The U.S. House has already passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act along with the companion Paycheck Fairness Act. These bills are expected to pass in the Senate within weeks and will go a long way to promote and enforce pay equity and ensure civil rights laws protect women workers.
Eleanor Cecil, Tampa NOW, Lutz
Those who came before
Watching Barack Obama being sworn into office, I could not help but feel that, somewhere, legions of Americans who, in their own individual capacities, had given so much and were no longer with us, were rejoicing.
Somewhere, modern Minutemen for freedom such as Fannie Lou Hamer, Bayard Rustin, Ralph Abernathy and Coretta Scott King were crying. Martyrs for freedom, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers, were rejoicing. And political leaders who risked their careers for equality's sake, such as Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey, watched a dream fulfilled.
What a great day to be an American. Regardless of who is president, I am proud to be an American. But now I am especially proud to be a citizen of this great land.
Luis Viera, Tampa
High court ruling erodes our liberties Jan. 20, editorial
Your editorial puts no spotlight on the person who violated our laws. In this society we have both rights and responsibilities. One's rights are not paramount to the responsibilities to society.
Suppose, for instance, instead of finding an illegal firearm and drugs, authorities had found a child, tied and gagged in the trunk? Do you think the outcome of the arrest or court decision would have been different?
I'm sorry, but I believe that if you abide by the laws, you have nothing to fear. But if you violate the laws, then you are vulnerable to variety of outcomes. It's way past time for members of our society to recognize that they have responsibilities, or otherwise we have anarchy.
Don Brugman, Seminole
Let him forgo pay
It is a bit of a disappointment to find out that Timothy Geithner, President Obama's choice for treasury secretary, did not pay taxes for two years when he was working for the IMF. When his name was announced first, there was high praise and unanimous approval of him as a very competent person and an excellent choice at the present serious time for our country.
He was one of the earliest nominees that President-elect Obama made and Obama still thinks he would be a very good choice for the Treasury. Surely he made a mistake and he should pay for it.
Here is my suggestion. If he is really that competent, then he should be confirmed. He made a serious mistake of not paying his taxes when all of us do so diligently. As a punishment for his mistake, I suggest that he works as the treasury secretary for one year without salary. Let us judge him and his competence after one year.
Raghu Sarma, Odessa
Played for fools
On Jan. 15, I received my statement for my Chase credit card. To my surprise, my minimum payment had more than doubled. Since I have always paid on time and more than the minimum amount, I called for an explanation.
The customer service representative told me that Chase had raised the minimum payment amount from 2 percent of the balance to 5 percent of the balance in order to get more funds to lend. When I asked why that was necessary, given the bailout funds they received from the government, she indicated that Chase was doing this because they wanted more money to lend to those who don't or can't pay their bills.
I couldn't believe what she told me, so I called again and another customer service representative gave me the same answer.
What fools we are. I truly believed that our Congress was helping avert a banking crisis, not enabling our banks to consolidate and raise payment minimums for those who budget and pay their bills on time. The only solace I can take is the knowledge that our legislators were even greater fools.
John H. Mason, Clearwater