Texas textbook vote
Voters should be wary of right turn
The actions of the conservative block of the Texas State Board of Education to rewrite the social studies standards serve as a clear harbinger of the possible results of the American electorate swinging blindly to the right in the coming congressional elections. America needs to step forward as a leader on the global stage and avoid reverting back to an isolationist mind-set.
The actions of the board fly in the face of the separation of church and state championed by our nation's founders. Conservative board member Cynthia Dunbar stated that the origins of the country were "a Christian land governed by Christian principles," leaving no doubt as to the intent of the board to steer away from separation of church and state.
Rod Paige, the former education secretary under George W. Bush, in testimony to the board, sagely stated, "We need the history of Texas to be reflected as it actually happened, not filtered through the lens of a political ideology."
It is important that in the November elections each voter clearly understands what he or she is voting for.
Gerard Meyn, Dunnellon
The latest Texas social studies textbook vote clearly demonstrates that winners write the textbooks. This was true in the Dark Ages, when Roman Catholics controlled most of Europe. That changed with the Renaissance. It is true today in the Middle East, where Islam is almost totally dominant. It is true today in America.
Accounts of the Civil War differ greatly between Northern and Southern states. Political domination has always had an influence on how history is viewed. With the election of President Ronald Reagan, that political domination moved far to the right over the following 30 years. In the last election, Texans elected a Christian fundamentalist-dominated school board. Did you expect them to maintain the status quo?
Unfortunately, their decision to dramatically increase their Christian fundamentalist influence in Texas will reverberate throughout other states because of the huge quantity of textbooks Texas buys. Can the fall of the wall of separation of church and state be far behind?
Francis Prahl, St. Petersburg
The money candidates deserve our skepticism
Linda McMahon in Connecticut and Rick Scott here in Florida are using their own personal wealth to flood the television with ads claiming what they will do when elected.
I have always known that people need lots of money to get elected, but never has it seemed so blatant. If you are rich, just pay for a multitude of ads. These people also know, sadly, that many people do not investigate the truth of the ads; they simply believe them as they are.
Money, as they say, talks. It surely does. But it does not always, or even often, tell the truth. I would like to tell my fellow Americans to doubt anything that comes from untried rich persons, whose money may well have not been gained honestly.
Lucy Fuchs, Brandon
$6M later, Scott talks outside ads | May 26, story
Don't get fooled
It is beyond my understanding why 22 percent of registered Republican voters would want to support Rick Scott for governor, a man who was forced out as CEO of the hospital company he founded because of Medicaid and Medicare fraud, costing the corporation $1.7 billion, the largest fine in history at that time.
It's truly amazing that someone would think he's honest because he "took responsibility for the Columbia/HCA debacle." He expects us to believe that he didn't know when he was CEO of the hospital giant that his company was paying doctors to admit patients and overbilling government health programs by falsifying diagnostic codes and ordering unnecessary lab tests. The man who runs his companies with an iron fist and considerable personal involvement had no knowledge or participation in any of more than 12 criminal and civil charges?
If only he had "put more money into internal auditors, external auditors," he could have seen this disgrace coming and uncovered this nefarious plot behind his back that just happened to put millions of extra dollars in his pocket? He obviously thinks we are a bunch of flaming idiots and, to some extent, he is apparently right.
He says he is "interested in applying business principles to managing the state." Considering the ideology he has previously followed, I wonder how many billions of dollars his brand of ethics is going to cost the taxpayers.
Stephen Feldman, Valrico
Critics lash Crist on "lack of urgency" May 26, story
I am writing in response to the front-page article Wednesday about the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The responses of our elected officials are disturbing at best. To think that TV ads are the answer and that there is no problem is even scarier. Sure, right now the oil is not affecting our shores. What will happen when— not if — we have a tropical storm?
Millions of gallons of oil have been spilled so far with no end in sight. Something is profoundly wrong with the fact that there are no regulations requiring automatic shutoff devices on rigs in U.S. waters. There is the possibility of completely spoiling the entire Gulf of Mexico and no one seems to be taking action. It is not only Florida that will suffer. What about Louisiana, Alabama and Mexico? The oil is in Louisiana and its marshes are being fouled as I write this. People's lives have been changed forever and an ecosystem is at risk. It has been over a month and I am stupefied at the lack of urgency on the part of BP and our government to end this disaster.
Wesley Sciortino, Palm Harbor
Who's minding the store?
Both political parties need to do a much better job of managing the government agencies that are now providing a lot less service than that for which the American people are paying. There is no reason that the Interior Department and the Minerals Management Service should not have previously developed the backup expertise, equipment and engineering research to contribute something other than bombast to capping the BP well.
The budgets for Interior and MMS are already sufficiently large to provide real disaster response resources, but U.S. agencies have degenerated into online shopping clubs or worse due to the absence of substantive objectives and accountability flowing down from the top. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar needs to be fixing this, instead of limiting his interest to finding out who got free Saints football tickets.
Gary Gardner, Clearwater
Failure of government
Ever since the Reagan administration, we have been hearing that government is the problem. Now we have a major catastrophic event taking place. We can readily see where this type of mentality can lead to. The regulators came from the industry they were supposed to regulate, doing away with the watchdogs and leaving corporate America to decide what is best for us.
I would like to know what members of the former administration who were in bed with the oil industry are saying about all this. The silence is deafening.
Jack Levine, Palm Harbor
Citizens extends no-bid deal | May 25, story
Breach of trust
Citizens Insurance was created to help homeowners. The contracting of inspections to one exclusive company, "Inspection Depot," is a breach of trust and should be repealed so that many entities can provide the service. As it stands, we may have another business that is "too big to fail."
Benjamin Buckley, Tampa