Who is really on your side in this election? | Oct. 31, Blumner column
Blinded by one-sided thinking
After reading this article, I've determined the Robyn Blumner types are 50 percent of the problem in political discourse in America. The other 50 percent belongs to those on the far right. It is sad, but both truly are different sides of the same coin.
The right and left in this country are blinded by their one-sided thinking. Their ears and minds are closed. There is little inclination to compromise (think Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill) or engage in intelligent discourse. The goal is to prove a point and maintain power.
The tea party movement started as a way to mobilize people who were fed up with exactly this type of political environment. Unfortunately, what started as a protest movement against everything disgusting about Washington — the ever-increasing size of government, the government's spendthrift ways, and politics as usual — was immediately bashed and dismissed by the left and hijacked by the right. So much for a reasonable point of view.
I hope not only our partisan politicians, but also our partisan journalists (Blumner, Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann and the rest) can move toward rational conversation and problem solving. Constant bashing of the other side only preaches to the choir and doesn't sway anyone. Valid points by both sides are often made, but the vitriol in the message makes most tune out to the net effect of accomplishing … nothing.
Life is lived more in the gray areas than in the black or white ones. This is where the average American lives. Far right and left ideologies are useful only for the political classes and the media who serve them.
We will have to start listening to each other first, then begin talking to each other instead of at each other to save this country from itself.
Rick Kale, Brandon
Rigorous work required
As Advanced Placement teachers at a low-income, high-needs school, we applaud the St. Petersburg Times for its recent editorial and articles highlighting some of the issues surrounding these challenging, college-level courses. We found your poll of parents particularly intriguing, especially the statistic stating that close to 70 percent of parents believe that AP classes should be open to any student who wishes to take them.
While we agree that AP classes should be open to most students and while we embrace diversity at all levels, we encourage those students who do sign up — and their parents — to understand that the classes are rigorous and that discipline, dedication and a strong work ethic are required for success. If students hope to acquire college credit for the class, they should be prepared for college work.
Furthermore, your article of Oct. 31 attempts to perform a cost-benefit analysis of AP classes, a mistake that legislators and pundits intent on quantifying the value of education have made for some time. Simply exposing a student to the college-level language, analysis, and critical reading and writing inherent in most AP classes is, in our opinions, worth much more than the $86 cost of the exam.
If a student is willing to work hard, an AP class can offer not only a stellar academic experience but also an opportunity for immense personal growth. For our students, isn't that value enough?
Deborah Van Pelt, for AP teachers at Leto High School, Tampa
Regulation and taxes
Listen to history
It's useful to remember what previous American leaders have said about who benefits from deregulation and lower taxes.
Thomas Jefferson: "I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
Abraham Lincoln: "Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
Theodore Roosevelt: "The citizens of the United States must control the mighty commercial forces which they themselves call into being."
Woodrow Wilson: "Big business is not dangerous because it is big, but because its bigness is an unwholesome inflation created by privileges and exemptions which it ought not to enjoy."
Dwight Eisenhower: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."
And, last, a literary insight:
Theodore Dreiser: "The government has ceased to function; the corporations are the government."
William Gilbert, Weeki Wachee
Too much information
I remember when news networks ended the broadcast day around 11 p.m. or midnight, some even earlier, signing off with the national anthem and a salute to flag. Updates were given mostly on the hour during the day.
It would be nice to retreat to that practice, because there is entirely too much information, mostly useless, constantly being thrown at us.
Why do we need news 24 hours a day, the minute it happens? I surely don't, unless, of course, it's a national disaster. Do we really need "breaking news" that Lindsay Lohan has re-entered rehab? Or that Lil' Kim has been released from prison?
Most of the broadcast media outlets create news out of much ado about nothing, throw in their opinions and constantly repeat the same stories as an excuse to keep their annoying talking heads busy.
I rarely watch news shows. I would much rather get my information in depth from my newspaper while enjoying my morning coffee, or from an occasional update from the Web, and then only from legitimate sources.
John Tischner, Dunedin
I finally realize the difference between conservatives and liberals.
Conservatives conservatively, sparingly dole out the money and attentively guard the money pile held by their billionaire friends who will in turn buy their campaign posts and needs.
The liberals liberally disburse the money, helping the poor, the needy, the sick, the weak, the elderly, the unemployed, the home losers — the people.
Interestingly, conservatives wrongly labeled themselves as "Christian, religious," but I see the liberals as more Christian and religious, doing exactly what my Bible says to do: help those who struggle, be compassionate, treat others with fairness.
Susan Schubert, Tampa
Honesty in labeling
While I applaud your efforts through PolitiFact to sort out the truthfulness of political statements, I must quibble with your label "barely true." A salesman selling a used car based on a representation that "ignores critical facts that would give a different impression" (your "barely true" definition) would be guilty of fraud.
Perhaps a better label would be "dishonest."
Edwin J. Bradley, Lithia