Sen. Rubio blasts Clinton | June 11
Under Bush, U.S. stature sank
Sen. Marco Rubio stated that doubts about American world leadership, whatever that vague reference is supposed to mean, have never been higher.
He goes on to speak of the foreign policy of President George W. Bush and how "there was never any question that the U.S. was going to lead the free nations of the world" under that administration.
I'm not sure what bubble Rubio lives in, but perhaps he might be interested in looking back at the Bush administration's approval ratings in France, Canada, Germany, Britain, Spain and most of the rest of the free world at the time. They were about on a par with today's Congress. Does Rubio not recall the millions who marched in protest around the world to oppose Bush's invasion of Iraq? Does he not recall "freedom fries" in the Capitol cafeteria?
The American government was reviled around the world for our smug, deadly and ineffective foreign policy, the price for which we will be paying dearly for decades to come.
Rubio would do well politically to steer clear of comparing the leadership effectiveness of the Bush administration's success stories overseas with those of the last five years, at least with voters who have memories of what the reality abroad was.
Thomas Maciocha, Tampa
Latest Florida rail roils | June 9
Citizens' voices will be heard on All Aboard Florida
As All Aboard Florida becomes a topic of great discussion for families along Florida's east coast, there are three important facts that must be part of this conversation: 1) This is 100 percent a private sector project and no state dollars will go to All Aboard Florida; 2) The Federal Railroad Administration is the lead agency over this project; and 3) We're working hard to ensure Florida families have their voices heard on this important matter.
To help families have their voices heard, last week I asked All Aboard Florida to extend their comment period to 90 days, and we asked the Federal Railroad Administration to extend the comment period for their environmental impact statement to a minimum of 90 days. Families have questions, and All Aboard Florida and federal officials have a responsibility in providing meaningful answers.
We're also addressing concerns laid out by elected officials regarding funding quiet zones for rail lines. While my proposed budget did not include this funding, legislators and local leaders worked to include this in the final state budget. Legislators and local leaders in communities that might be affected by All Aboard Florida and other rail transit systems wanted these state dollars to establish quiet zones in their areas. To better meet communities' needs, I've asked Florida's transportation secretary Ananth Prasad to meet with community leaders to see how this grant funding can best be used. These are not subsidies for All Aboard Florida, and if local leaders indicate they do not need the grant funding, we'll take action to use these dollars for other priorities.
Gov. Rick Scott, Tallahassee
Obama considers options in Iraq | June 13
We shouldn't get involved
The current state of slaughter in Iraq is a direct and natural outgrowth or the folly started by President George W. Bush and his administration. Many of our sons and daughters died or were maimed fighting to "liberate" areas now controlled by terrorists.
Sunnis are only about 15 to 20 percent of the country, and the 60 percent that is Shiite will tolerate this mayhem only so long before they counterattack, inviting in Iran, and going into all-out civil war.
As Bush tried to say: "Fool me once, shame on thee; fool me twice, shame on me." Let's not get fooled again, spending blood and treasure on people who don't want it and don't deserve it.
Bob Tankel, Dunedin
Remember the toll of war
George W. Bush listened to his neocon advisers and started the war in Iraq. It produced a number of embarrassments, such as: no WMD's and "mission accomplished," to name the most obvious. It produced an incredible drain on our treasury that we still feel. It produced thousands of dead Americans and untold numbers of dead Iraqis. It produced tens of thousands of wounded soldiers.
All this being said, the war seems to have produced a level of hatred toward the United States that is deeper and more widespread than ever. We kick over a hornet's nest that releases jihadis whenever we meddle in the Middle East. These are tribal people who don't want democracy. Let them sort it out.
Tom Reid, Seminole
Three questions about ISIS | June 11
New era of religious strife
We need to stop calling every insurgent a terrorist. That's a cop-out so we don't have to understand exactly what is happening in the Islamic world. We are living in a time of religious wars similar to the beginning of the European Thirty Years' War. And if we fail to recognize that fact we will see centuries of continued conflict and horrors.
Al-Qaida and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, are just two instances of religious groups who want to conflate their religion and the state to replace another sect or religion that is entwined in the government of their country. Just like the Lutherans and Catholics in the early 1600s, the Sunnis and Shiites are determined to overthrow the other sect that is using the government to discriminate against them. These conflicts were suppressed when there were military dictatorships or authoritarian regimes running the governments.
Christianity recovered from the extreme religious conflicts after several centuries when those European nations and the United States shifted to a position of separation of church and state. Today, Europe is confronting an influx of religious-minded Islamists that creates those old tensions all over again. Our response should be to promote the complete separation of religion and government with laws that eliminate that discrimination.
Ian MacFarlane, St. Petersburg
Lack of leadership on Pier persists June 11, editorial
Have the architects for the Dalí Museum submitted a design for the Pier? They certainly did a good job on the museum, and to tie it in with the Pier would make the waterfront look outstanding.
Audrey Nopper, Clearwater