I have been a Times reader since moving to Florida in 1979. It is technically one of the best newspapers in the nation. The reporting is focused and photography is unequaled. I seldom agree with the editorial stand, but being a longtime reader it is something I have come to expect. So it was no surprise when your editorial board supported President Barack Obama for a second term. I disagree with your opinion that Obama has done a good job.
The biggest problem facing the nation is the lethargic, stagnated economy. We must have a leader who understands the uncertainty and doubt holding back business growth and job creation. It will take leadership, plain and simple; a leader who leads from the front, not from behind an army of appointed academics with no business experience. America must have a leader willing to compromise to pass a balanced budget. Obama's personality will not allow him bend or budge from his vision of the nanny state utopia he waxed so eloquently of in 2008. Obama spent two years dissolving a Democratic majority in Congress by forcing a health care plan that plainly a majority of Americans said they do not want. This was done while the swirling economic vortex intensified. The administration's answer was to throw money at it. Lots of it.
Now the unfolding debacle in Benghazi further indicates our president is far better at campaigning than at leading. We need experience not experiments and we must have leadership over partisanship.
Dennis Roper, Clearwater
Be polite to canvassers
This election has seen Floridians flooded with radio and TV ads, mail and yes, door-to-door canvassers. I am one of these canvassers. As a volunteer, I want to thank those people who kindly answer their door, do not yell at me, politely either answer me or as politely refuse (as is their right). We are Americans, volunteering our time to become involved in this great system called democracy. When you hear our knock, it is the knock of a free nation that hopefully is still willing to listen to their neighbors. Be kind to us — we are your American brothers and sisters.
Mark Barasz, St. Petersburg
Beth — not her real name — knew she had a problem when her urine turned bloody. The other problem was that she had no health insurance. Her work at a fast food restaurant didn't provide insurance and she did not have the cash to see a doctor and get expensive tests. So, like many people without insurance, she hoped the problem would go away. It did not, and after a year of hoping the symptom would resolve, she scraped enough money together to buy insurance and get tested.
I met Beth at St. Anthony's Hospital in my work as a palliative care physician. The tests showed she had cancer of the bladder and ureter that spread to the internal organs and bones. Her prognosis was grim.
As physicians we see this story repeatedly, where patients postpone necessary testing due to lack of insurance. Many times, the cancer could have been cured if found earlier. I believe we all should have health insurance, and the Affordable Care Act is the closest thing in 25 years that has been passed toward making this happen. There is no doubt in my mind that with Obamacare many more lives will be saved.
Each time I hear Mitt Romney declare he will repeal Obamacare if elected, I cringe. From what I see daily in our hospitals, Obamacare is one of the best things our country has accomplished in the last four years.
Corey H. Evans, M.D., MPH, St. Petersburg
Out of touch
I think that most Americans would agree that the most successful presidents of the last 30 years were Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, two men of very different political persuasions but with certain things in common. Both were charismatic, intelligent, hardworking, tenacious, and (importantly) both came from relatively humble backgrounds. As a consequence, as president they each had an ability to understand and genuinely relate to people of all social and economic classes.
The latest polls suggest that a majority of Floridians now plan to vote for Mitt Romney, a man with a background of extreme wealth and privilege who has never had to worry about money. Romney's reported income in 2011 was approximately $21 million, or $57,000 per calendar day, which means that every single day he earned substantially more than the $44,000 that the average Florida household earned during the entire year.
I do not resent Romney's wealth. My concern is that simply because of this huge disparity, he is unable to understand or relate to the economic challenges faced by the average middle class Florida family. In contrast, it is clear that President Barack Obama is committed to expanding the middle class and limiting the growing gulf between the wealthiest and poorest of our fellow citizens.
Mark Singleton, Seminole
Public services at risk
To voters who are thinking of voting for all the tax exemptions on the Florida ballot: There will be so many millions of tax dollars removed from state and county revenues that public services will suffer. You better hope if you call for a fire truck or ambulance or sheriff that there will be personnel and equipment available to respond.
These amendments will ruin Florida for years to come, and we will all pay dearly for it if they pass.
Ellen M. Clark, Port Richey
In God's Name | Oct. 28
Love and compassion
Unless it's been experienced on a personal level, it is difficult to fathom the pain and horrors of raising a child who has become totally uncontrollable, connected to the worst elements of society, immersed in drugs and other criminal behaviors, and been through the court system and secular programs.
We cannot speak for any of the other programs referenced in your series, other than Teen Challenge. Our son has been there since November 2011. If any of the atrocious methods of discipline you mentioned were currently being employed, our son would certainly have made us aware of them well before now.
God and prayer have been removed from the public school and the public square. Our children are being taught moral relativism, and even that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Our society has created the need for places such as Teen Challenge.
We'll stack the love, compassion, character-building and eternal benefits of Teen Challenge up against any of the secular programs.
Steve and Amy Davis, Port Richey
Far-flung death, devastation | Oct. 31
Crist and Christie
Isn't interesting that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie isn't getting kicked out of the Republican Party while heaping praise on FEMA and President Barack Obama's efforts to help in a disaster?
Poor Charlie Crist — maybe he was just governor of the wrong state. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that New Jersey's other government branch — the Legislature — is not a hotbed of disdain, discord and dysfunction, like Tallahassee. Seems like divided government can work better.
Fran Hay, Spring Hill
Helping each other
The people of this country are divided on politics. Right now there are no blue states or red states — only the state of emergency.
The devastation from Sandy will take months, maybe years, to clean up. Eventually people will recover, but nothing will go back to normal. After such an event there is no normal. Priorities will change and people will never forget.
As we have always done in the past, we will come together as one to help each other. We will open our homes, hearts and wallets to help our brothers and sisters recover the best they can. When it comes down to it, we are the United States of America. That says it all!
Barb Smigels, Clearwater
Reporters brave elements, ridicule | Oct. 30
Too much clowning around
Was I the only one who got virtually nothing out of all the live shots in Sandy's assault on New York? Why is it we never saw or heard from any real people dealing with the storm?
Quoted in the Times is Missouri School of Journalism's Stacey Woelfel: "Is it ratings driven? Sure, but it's also reporters going where the audience isn't able to go. Where it crosses the line … if people laugh at you or fear for your life, you're distracting from the story."
Imagine that — juvenile antics that distract from the real story, which was very apparent listening to the Brooklyn EMS scanner via the Internet. While scores of real-life rescues were dramatically taking place, we were watching TV people standing in flooded streets blocks away.
Warren Elly, Tampa
Tourism props up Castro regime Oct. 29, letter
I would like to rebut Sen. Marco Rubio's take on visiting Cuba through a "people-to-people" cultural exchange program. The claim that such visits are illegal is patently false. My husband and I were fortunate to travel to Cuba in September with YMT Vacations on a "Cuba, Its Culture and People" tour. The trip was fully approved and permitted by our government and Cuba.
We spent long days visiting historic, artistic, educational and agricultural sites in Havana, Vinales, Santa Clara, Remedios and other cities. We spoke with many Cubans, watched dance performances, toured museums, ate in local restaurants and listened to wonderful music.
Our Cuban guide was very knowledgeable and open about his country, its successes, failures and hopes for the future. We came home with a much better understanding of a beautiful country, its problems and some of its achievements in education, medicine and the arts.
I believe we should have more of these exchanges with the Cuban people as they are some of our nearest neighbors. If the senator's attitude toward Cuba were held toward all our former foes, there would be no tourism to Japan, Germany, Russia, China or Vietnam. Bad things happen, but holding unending grudges on the international scene is a serious limitation to peaceful progress.
Carol Skey, St. Petersburg
On the road
Unsafe at any speed
The other day I was driving down Park Boulevard in St. Petersburg. Traffic, as usual, was thick but fast. I looked to my right and saw a guy alone in his car, driving with his seat all the way back picking his guitar and singing.
Driving and talking on a cellphone or texting is one thing. But drivin' and pickin'? There must be a country song in there somewhere.
Al Sandefur, St. Petersburg