Is this a near riot or a health care forum? | Aug. 7, story
Shouts drown out reasonable debate
How unfortunate that so many people opted to disrupt Rep. Kathy Castor's town hall meeting on health care reform, rather than listen, learn and debate. I strongly support badly needed reforms and want to know more. However, those who do the bidding of the Republican Party and their corporate masters have chosen the most anti-American method they have in their arsenal — to shout down democracy.
The barbarians who made a farce out of any effort at civilized debate not only prevented supporters from learning more, but also disallowed more civilized opponents of reform the chance to be heard. If these obnoxious people continue to shout over reasonable voices on the issue, then there is no point in holding town hall meetings.
This is not the time for the United States to yet again cave in to the loud, uninformed, selfish people who mask themselves as concerned citizens. Many people don't understand that they're helping support those who enrich themselves by maintaining the status quo — conservative Republicans and the health insurance industry.
Those who oppose a fairer, better health care system would do well to recall an observation made by Adlai Stevenson, who said, "Those who corrupt the public mind are just as evil as those who steal from the public purse."
Scott Mears, Tampa
Voices of citizens should be respected
A very disturbing situation has developed in the push to health care reform. Those in opposition to the proposed reform are being demonized, maligned and marginalized by the White House, the Democratic National Committee, the "mainstream" media, members of Congress and others. This is an outrage! This nation is founded on governance by the people. It is our God-given right to voice our opinions.
I can tell you from personal experience that the opposition to government takeover of health care and insurance is genuine and widespread. My business requires that I travel and meet many people. Conversations on any topic very often turn to discussions of health care reform. Fear and opposition are almost universal!
Also, a recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 72 percent of voters believe President Barack Obama's health care reform will add to the federal deficit, and 57 percent say that Obama's health care reform should be abandoned if it does add significantly to the deficit.
The American public must be respected and public opposition to President Obama's health care reform must be heeded. That is the constitutional duty of our elected representatives.
Karen Grof, Safety Harbor
Town hall meetings
We need civilized debate
Millions of people are living without insurance for health care. For a variety of reasons. A lot of them are illegal aliens or homeless or both. This is an unfortunate fact.
If one of these people gets hurt or becomes ill, they walk into an emergency room for treatment. Their treatment is paid for by all of us who have health care insurance. We pay in the form of higher premiums, care costs and other hidden charges. That is the current system.
A vast overhaul needs to happen to bring down the costs to the whole system. The 85 percent of us who have insurance will still need to cover the rest in some way. We do now. The way we're doing it now will crush this country. This is a complex issue and should be debated in a civilized, productive way.
These "spontaneous" demonstrations happening at town hall meetings all over the country are disrupting any such discussions. Clearly, they are organized by groups profiting from the status quo. It's all about the money to be made. It's amazing to me that people are buying into it.
The greed-driven partisanship in the country is sickening. It's hurting us all and jeopardizing America's future.
Jeff Cutting, Brandon
Thinking for herself
I don't believe what I'm seeing and hearing on television and reading in the newspapers. I formed my opinions before I saw anyone on TV, therefore the people like Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and others only voiced what I had been thinking and saying to my husband.
When I go to a town hall meeting and voice my concerns about the "health care reform plan" being discussed, my concerns are my own not, something I was coached to say. Hearing people who are voicing the same concerns being called names and accused of being part of an orchestrated effort by those who support the plan is outrageous.
We still live in the United States of America where we are free to say what concerns us, especially when it affects us personally like health care, without being called terrorists and rogue protesters.
This is our country and the elected people have pledged to uphold the Constitution, which states we have the right to gather and make our voices heard without intimidation. I fear very much where this country is headed because of what is going on in Washington. There is more at stake here than health care. These are my thoughts and not those of someone else.
Joyce Sherman, Port Richey
Try to be realistic
In the Aug. 2 Perspective section, there are no less than three lengthy articles about the single-payer system (Paying the cost of health care reform has some surprising bottom lines; Q&A: An insurance insider speaks out and confirms suspicions; and No easy single view on singer-payer) that imply that this system may well be the answer to our problem.
What none of its advocates address is how we get from where we are to this ideal. It's similar to wanting to get to a pot of gold without having been provided a road map as to where it is.
It's about time that all Americans stop talking about that "pot of gold" that is nowhere in our grasp at this time. Quite to the contrary, what we need to hear are some constructive and attainable things that can be done about reducing the cost of our existing system that would help make insurance affordable.
Nathan L. Belkin, Ph.D., Largo
Cops and turning the other cheek | Aug. 2, Robyn Blumner column
Let the system work
After reading this article, it occurred to me that Robyn Blumner has no idea of the perils and problems that a police officer faces in today's society. She somehow equates the "hate mail" she receives with the in-your-face violence, verbal or otherwise, that a cop faces on a daily basis.
Without discussing the merits of the Henry Gates matter, what is a police officer to do when he encounters violent or threatening behavior in public, whether directed at him or her or a some other member of society? If he allows it go to unchecked, then he is accused of not doing his job. If he makes an arrest, then according to Blumner he is punishing people who "annoy" him.
The police are the only barrier between danger and the public. They need all the tools they can get to do their job. The courts are in place to see that the police don't abuse their authority. Let the system work and let Robyn Blumner think about who she'll call if she encounters a violent, abusive hatemonger on her doorstep!
Gary Repetti, Palm Harbor
Taste of Celtic charm | Aug. 2, Latitudes story
A beautiful place
I was born in Galway, so this article was a must for me. I loved it. I was just there in June as all my family still live in Galway, and it felt for a moment that I was back walking the streets there, it was described so well.
As it turns out I have spent two summers on Inis Oirr many years ago and returned in June. I have the best pictures from the island, as the day was beautiful. Thank you for the Galway article.
Being from Galway, I can definitely say it is one of the best cities in the world. It has a charm like no other. Thank you for making my day.
Valerie Burke, Tampa