TIA hits political hurdle over flights to Cuba | Feb. 15
U.S. contacts with Cuba can help bring down the dictatorship
Words are inadequate to express my disgust and amazement at again seeing elected officials, this time Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., attempt to frustrate the spread of people-to-people contacts between Americans and Cuban exiles and the people on the island.
Having lived a short time in West Berlin, I saw the key role that contacts, unfettered access and the movement of people played in bringing down the Berlin Wall. We all recently saw that phenomenon repeated again with the revolution in Egypt and lingering protests throughout the authoritarian Middle East.
And yet — in defiance of history, human logic and America's national interest — politicians like Rubio continue pushing for the isolation of the Castro regime by restricting flights and other forms of contact. No wonder Castro has endured five decades in power — these folks have erected him a "Berlin Wall."
Sadly, with allies like the Cuban-American members of Congress, Castro has been able to buck every liberalizing trend that has swept the world in recent decades. I wonder how long Americans will continue electing individuals who have neither freedom, nor America's best national interests, at heart.
Tony Gonzalez, Spring Hill
Rubio is out of step
Sen. Marco Rubio is not only out of step with the times, but he needs to find another drum to beat.
As a U.S. citizen I can now travel to Vietnam, despite the fact that our nation fought a war there that cost 47,424 U.S. citizens their lives.
Rubio should understand that a small minority of people living in Miami do not speak for this nation or the state of Florida.
M. Rogers, Tierra Verde
The Cold War is over
Would someone please tell Sen. Marco Rubio that the Cold War is over? The man's thinking belies his age. It's time to bury the hatchet and move on. The '50s were a long time ago.
It's glaringly obvious that Rubio is way out of step with the thinking of the majority of Floridians on Cuba policy. It's bad enough based on his heritage that he seems to care so little for helping to improve the plight of the Cuban people, but now he is determined to make American businesses suffer also by attempting to deny flights to Cuba out of Tampa International Airport.
Rubio acts like Cuba is some horrific terrorist state threatening our national security. Give me a break.
J. Larry McElveen, Safety Harbor
Gov. Scott's budget
Proposals undermine progress on environment
If enacted, Gov. Rick Scott's proposed budget will undermine decades of progress in environmental protection and conservation. In particular, the budget calls for:
• No funding for Florida Forever, the state's premier conservation and recreation lands acquisition program.
• Transfer of the Division of State Lands from the Department of Environmental Protection to the Department of Management Services — which has no conservation mission.
• Major changes to the distribution of documentary stamp tax revenue — the historic backbone of Florida Forever.
• The raiding of other trust funds dedicated to water quality improvement and habitat restoration programs.
• A 25 percent reduction in ad valorem revenue for water management districts.
All reasonable Floridians understand the need to balance the state budget, make government more efficient and create incentives for greater private-sector job creation. However, it is simply not necessary to dismantle critical environmental programs to attain these goals.
Furthermore, the governor has never explained how drastic cuts to state spending and taxes will actually create the private-sector job growth that he has promised.
I hope the Legislature will be more respectful of our environmental legacy and less influenced by dogmatic tea party ideology.
Doug Robison, St. Petersburg
The parent trapped | Feb. 15, commentary
I'm sure that Katherine Ellison's honest appraisal of her feelings toward her children while under stress rings true for many.
But saying that "adolescents evoke such powerful rage in their mothers" focuses attention in the wrong direction. It is the parent who should be constantly soul-searching in order to address a given situation and guide it to a positive outcome. This is not easy, and Ellison has special contributing factors in her family. But it is the role that a parent must play well.
Since every relationship is different, a parent's challenge is to decide what will work in each instance. Corporal punishment suggests strongly that the parent is reacting with other motives or is simply out of ideas to deal with the issue at hand. I employed corporal punishment twice during my daughter's adolescence, something I regretted almost instantly. I was out of ideas.
Still, raising a child remains the most interesting and fun thing that I have ever done in my life. Much could be gained from adapting a more proactive approach and meeting the parental challenge head-on.
Wayne Logsdon, Hernando
Health care costs
Many people have criticized both President Barack Obama and the Republicans for leaving out entitlements — like Medicare and Medicaid — in trying to reduce the budget.
But there is one aspect of health care that should be addressed immediately.
While awaiting back surgery, I was fitted for a back brace. The brace consisted of a piece of molded plastic along with Velcro and fabric for a snug fit. The cost that my insurance company is going to pay for this brace, with no questions asked, is $1,200. The brace has as much plastic as a laptop computer and no more of the other materials than are found on a waterskiing life vest.
If private insurance companies are not looking into this kind of expense, you can bet the government programs are rife with overcharges for the most basic services and supplies.
James Harvey, Tampa