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Monday letters: Put some bite into PolitiFact


Keep the bigger picture in mind

I appreciate the service PolitiFact provides. Yet many times I feel the researchers/editors are a little too concerned with political correctness.

According to the PolitiFact website, "The Truth-O-Meter is based on the concept that — especially in politics — truth is not black and white." This is the exact failing I see in your approach many times. By focusing only on the "black and white" facts, you miss the larger picture and, in the case of a recent ruling, an obvious intent to mislead.

The ruling in question concerned Sen. Mary Landrieu's defense of oil drilling in the gulf. She said, "In the last 10 years we've only had 7,000 barrels of oil spilled in the gulf ... not counting hurricanes."

You ruled her statement mostly true. By sticking to just the data, you indeed gave a correct ruling. However, the larger picture you failed to address is the fact that drilling in the Gulf of Mexico cannot be divorced from the threat of hurricanes. It doesn't matter if the cause of oil is spilled by man or nature. It is still oil in the gulf and an obvious threat to the ecosystem.

So before the current horrendous disaster the facts you found (including hurricanes) were: "31,122 barrels of crude oil, diesel, lube oil and gasoline were spilled in the gulf between 2000 and 2009." This should be your ruling. End of story. Landrieu is sticking up for a powerful constituency by trying to imply that over the last decade gulf drilling has been safe if you don't count hurricanes. You seem to be sticking up for her.

Please reconsider your methodology. Don't overlook the forest as you inspect the trees. Put some bite back into journalism. Your profession used to demand it.

Jeremy Bullian, Tampa

Tea party advocates fail to deliver specific solutions

The May 17 Times carried several pieces relating to the right-wing populist tea party movement. There appears to be a "mad as hell" mood as elections draw near. A letter writer wants voters to be better informed by turning to Fox News before they vote. He states that the tea party people will provide information on candidates to help us decide who is best suited to hold public office.

My dilemma is that, search as I will, I cannot find any specific platform from the tea party that can help me decide how to cast my vote. What I do find is a good deal of inchoate furor directed at the arrogance and brazen indifference of the government.

Most of what the evil government does is write checks to old people, pay for their medical needs and pay for the military. So those are the areas that the tea party candidates need to address.

What would happen if a candidate for office got up at a tea party rally and said that he/she would introduce a bill if elected that required anyone with a net worth of more than $250,000 to forfeit their Medicare and Social Security, since they have enough wealth to take care of themselves? The candidate could also name military projects that are wasteful and need to be eliminated.

Candidates should also name any agencies of government, such as the IRS, FDA, EPA or Fed, that they would eliminate or replace with private corporations.

The tea partiers send a feel-good message about how everything is going to ruin because of "them" (the government). But how, clearly, would they do anything differently? Search as I will, I can't find an answer.

Thomas Maciocha, Tampa

Needless fuss over 'papers'

Today I decided to look through my wallet for my "papers." I found my Florida driver's license, which is required when operating a vehicle on Florida roadways. I must produce this license when requested by law enforcement. I also found my Social Security card which, if I apply for benefits, I am required, by law, to produce. As I searched a little more I found my work ID, which, when working on my employer's property, I am required to wear at all times.

If I wish to carry a concealed weapon I must have in my possession a license which, once again, I am required to produce when requested by law enforcement. I also found my health insurance card, which I am required to produce when visiting my doctor. I found my Veterans Administration card, which I am required to produce when seeking VA benefits. In order to be eligible for homestead exemption in Florida, I am required to produce proof of residency.

As for the reference to the Nazi demand for "papers," I suggest that anyone who uses the word "Nazi" to denigrate another American read Elie Wiesel's Night. Maybe then they will understand what they are really saying and put this word with the other offensive N-word. Shame on anyone who thinks that Arizona's immigration law is "Nazi"-like.

Methinks this is much ado about nothing, unless one has a political agenda.

Allen Peck, Largo

Too much bigotry

When Republican Rick Scott's political ads tell my 6-year-old grandson that he's "dangerous" because he looks Hispanic, I wonder what kind of society we have become.

My grandson was born in the United States, his parents were born in the United States and his maternal grandparents have been legal citizens of the United States for 30 years, but if he and his parents traveled to Arizona, they would have to take proof of American citizenship.

Arizona's new immigration law, which will bring racial profiling, sends shivers down my Caucasian spine, especially when I remember reading a list of Americans who have given their lives for our freedom. Approximately 13 percent of our military have Hispanic surnames; many are serving in the Marine Corps.

When did our nation of immigrants become a nation of bigots?

Gwynne Chesher, Wellington

Airline merger

Beware of cliches

Several commentators have likened the proposed airline merger of United and Continental as falling into the "too big to fail" debacle of financial brokerage services and multinational banking institutions that required government intervention. But it is flawed to liken a merger of an industry or service to that of multinational financial and banking institutions that control the life blood of the world's economic activity.

For the last 10 years airlines have been struggling with jaw-dropping losses and reorganizing themselves through bankruptcy court procedures. There is simply overcapacity in the airline industry and these private companies are doing proper due diligence to their shareholders by bringing their businesses back to profitability by combining their resources to provide the best product using economies of scale.

We need to be cautious about clinging to one-size-fits-all cliches such as "too big to fail" and attempting to apply this "philosophy of the day" in all cases. One only need to look at the example of Walmart and its powerhouse ability to consistently reduce consumer product prices.

Scott Hostler, Lutz

Monday letters: Put some bite into PolitiFact 05/23/10 [Last modified: Sunday, May 23, 2010 6:48pm]
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