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Political diversity can keep fact-checking fair

Political fact-checking

Diversity can keep things fair Congratulations to the St. Petersburg Times for the recognition you have received for fact-checking the claims of candidates and political activists. We need to be constructively skeptical of what we hear and read, not only from the candidates themselves, but from those speaking in their behalf.

The one caution I would urge is to include among the fact-checkers people of diverse political opinions, since almost everyone has at least some degree of bias.

When President Bush was accused of misconduct concerning his military service, many people were eager to believe the accusations, even after it was proved that the documents in support of those allegations were utter frauds. When Sen. John Kerry was "swift-boated," the allegations were disputed, but there was never any impartial investigation of whether the swift-boat veterans were lying.

There is enormous positive potential in your efforts to prove or disprove political claims. I hope you succeed. But without a diverse staff, the effort will eventually and inevitably become partisan. Best wishes.

Robert Arvay, Tampa When idealism yields to ambition | June 29, Philip Gailey column

McCain looks like the real flip-flopper

In this column Philip Gailey attacks Barack Obama as a candidate who is "on his way to raising the flip flop to an art form" while suggesting that John McCain is now "reversing or fudging" some of his positions. Gailey then goes on to spend the next eight paragraphs savaging Obama for changes in position with not another word about Mr. "Straight Talk" McCain.

It is so frustrating that Gailey ignores the fact that McCain has been a serial flip-flopper for years now. It's well known that McCain supported the moratorium on drilling for oil off the Florida coast, but now he favors such drilling.

Six months ago he told the Boston Globe he believed that President Bush's warrantless wiretapping was illegal. The June 6 New York Times reports that "McCain believes that President Bush's program of wiretapping without warrants was lawful."

The New York Times of Dec. 13, 2003, reported that McCain said the detainees at Guantanamo have the "right not to be detained indefinitely." In a town hall meeting in June of this year, McCain called the Supreme Court's decision that Guantanamo prisoners had a right not to be detained indefinitely "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country."

In 1999, the Associated Press reported that McCain said, "In the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe vs. Wade." But in November 2006, McCain told George Stephanapoulos, "I do believe that it's very likely or possible that the Supreme Court should — could overturn Roe vs. Wade, which would then return these decisions to the states, which I support."

And the list goes on and on:

McCain is a cynical opportunist who will do or say anything to further his career. He seems to be a person totally without core beliefs.

It is truly unfortunate that Gailey chose to focus on a few recent changes in Obama's positions while giving McCain virtually a free pass on his long history of pandering to win votes.

Dennis Clarke, Tampa

Let's get beyond doubting each other's patriotism | July 4, editorial

Try some balance

The audacity of the St. Petersburg Times never ceases to amaze me when it comes to the positive spin you put on everything that your endorsed candidate, Barack Obama, does, in contrast to your detraction from the campaign of his opponent, John McCain. The partiality and bias you afford the Obama campaign is reflected in the astonishing amount of press you afford Obama every day, while you present McCain's campaign as being almost inconsequential.

When the service in Vietnam of John Kerry, your candidate in the last election, was maligned by the right, your outrage and indignation was never-ending. McCain put his well-being and very life on the line in service to our great nation in Vietnam, and to suggest that this and more than 20 years of service to the American people in the U.S. Congress does not give him an advantage over his opponent in formulating future foreign policy in Iraq or elsewhere in the world is simply absurd.

Your readers will be better served, both left and right, if you will demonstrate some equitable balance in your political coverage and editorials between now and November.

Douglas deWolfe, Odessa

Obama's strategy: Shift to the center | July 7, Charles Krauthammer column

More irrelevance

We always know, despite the subject, that Charles Krauthammer will find a way to defend the neocons and bash the Democrats. The headline here is that Obama's strategy is a shift to the center.

What a revelation! Barack Obama has professed from the beginning of his candidacy the importance of bringing this nation together again. While I don't agree with all his positions, I understand his tactics and agree with that importance, and will certainly vote for him.

One has to wonder, the way Krauthammer punctuates his columns with "I's," if his real objective is to tell us how prescient he is. If so, I suggest he do a five-year review of his columns with the objective of lauding all his successful predictions about Iraq.

I recognize that wearing lapel pins, posture during the pledge to the flag, who your minister is, whether or not you fist-bump, and what your middle name is are vital to the legitimacy of presidential candidacy and steeped in decades of tradition. But Krauthammer might at least try to avoid leading off his column with yet another inane reference to such tired irrelevancy.

Bill Ackerman, Homosassa

Obama not firm on withdrawal | July 4, story

An unseasoned leader

The article stating a change of heart that Barrack Obama has had concerning the withdrawal of troops from Iraq is very telling. What should resonate to the voters is that if elected Obama will be practicing "on- the-job training." Can this nation, facing the evils of this modern-day world, afford to elect a wonderfully skilled orator who is still in his apprenticeship?

Leslie Gomillion, Hudson

Iraq seeks exit date for U.S. troops | July 8, story

Listen to the Iraqis

Now we see that even the Iraqi government wants the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal. What? No one in Iraq is saying "stay the course"? No one is accusing the Americans of a "cut and run" policy?

If our administration does not respond appropriately to this request of the Iraqis, that will only prove what many have believed for a long time: that the United States only wants to control the Middle East and especially its oil in this oil-rich country. Why did we build a huge embassy there? Why do we have 14 and counting military bases there? Is this the hundred years of staying in Iraq that McCain talked about?

President Bush and his administration should realize it's time to get out! And, sadly, it looks like Afghanistan needs our soldiers. Mr. Bush, a strange thing happened to you on your way to Iraq. You forgot what really happened on 9/11, and it was not an Iraqi atrocity.

Lucy Fuchs, Brandon

Political diversity can keep fact-checking fair 07/09/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 11, 2008 8:37pm]
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