In God's Name | Oct. 28
State system cries out for reform
The Times' series "In God's Name," which provides in-depth coverage of the decades-long history of abuse by operators of unregulated Florida group homes and military-style boarding schools, is heart-wrenching. And the fact that these practices likely continue to this day is outrageous.
I can't fathom anyone mistreating children to such a severe degree, especially in the name of religion. That's blasphemy.
The hellish brutality which these boys and girls suffered at the hands of self-professed men and women of God is inexcusable and should not be ignored.
Meting out barbaric abuse, creating emotional distress, and inflicting anguishing punishment is antithetical to every accepted practice in dealing with troubled children. Turning a blind eye and deaf ear to the pain of these children is shameful.
The Legislature's motivation in exempting certain group home operators from state standards and licensure was wrong in 1984, and inaction would be wrong today. Florida should not be known as a state where some children are safe but others are subjected to such cruelties.
Protection of the vulnerable and defenseless is the most important role of a caring community. The cries of countless degraded and damaged children should motivate a chorus of concern to reform our system of supervision over these facilities.
Jack Levine, 4Generations Institute, Tallahassee
Attach conditions to aid to Israel Oct. 28, Bill Maxwell column
Israel shares our values
I have no problem with U.S. aid being tied to American values and interests. The clergy cited in this column want Israel singled out for "well documented human rights abuses against Palestinians."
Israel is a democratic state, with a 20 percent Arab minority that has members in parliament and a sitting member of the Supreme Court.
Israel protects all religions' rights to operate openly and educates its women freely. It has no prohibitions against gays and hosts large gay pride parades. It has offered to negotiate peace treaties with its neighbors (Egypt and Jordan being in effect). Israel's army goes out of its way to prevent nonmilitary deaths and injuries during battle.
As for the Palestinians, their leaders have said that when a Palestinian state is formed, it will be free of Jews. Selling land to Jews is punishable by jail or death. Palestinians state in their charter that Israel must be wiped off the map.
Palestinian children are sent as homicide bombers, and then parks are named for them and money given to their survivors. Palestinians openly kill gay citizens and routinely carry out "honor" killings. Their schools teach hatred of Jews and Christians.
And yet, Bill Maxwell and these 15 clergy choose to attack Israel. Let the comparisons begin. Let the foreign aid go to those who have American values. What will the Palestinians do for money then?
E. Michael Reisman, Tampa
Look at Egypt, Pakistan
I suggest that the "respected American Christian leaders" start by requesting Congress apply those same rules to our aid to Egypt and Pakistan. These are the countries that hid Osama bin Laden, stormed our embassies and burned our flag.
John Rinde, Largo
This election, women voters, is about trust Oct. 28, Robyn Blumner column
Admitting a mistake
Robyn Blumner's claim that Mitt Romney wants us to pay no attention to his 47 percent misunderstanding is incorrect. He actually went on national TV and said he was completely wrong to have said that. Now, in any relationship, isn't it best to have someone who can do that when they make a mistake?
Has our president in the last four years ever admitted being wrong or taken real responsibility for any problems? Or has he instead blamed everyone and anything but himself? Is that a person you can trust?
Eric Greenbaum, Tampa
Leave my sign alone
My Obama sign was torn down again. Do the vandals who attempt to deny my right to vote and support the candidate of my choice have any appreciation for the Constitution of the United States?
I have served my country all of my adult life as an Army officer and an intelligence officer. I spent seven months in an Army hospital recovering from wounds received in Vietnam. I was awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. This doesn't give me a special status, but at least it should vouch for my love of country and my search for the "more perfect union."
Leave my sign alone.
Anthony Nelson, St. Petersburg
Medicare: no complaints
I'm tired of Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates extolling the wonders of private insurance over Medicare. I've been on Medicare for two years and have had no problem. Billing is handled quickly and accurately, and the Medicare website is useful. I've heard no complaints from my doctors.
My supplementary policy from one of the largest private medical insurers is another story. It often plays games to delay payment and is endlessly frustrating to my doctors. Now, this paragon of the free market wants me to choose all new doctors and labs because it couldn't come to an agreement with my current health care providers (i.e., squeeze more profit out of them).
I say phooey. I choose Medicare over Romneycare, whatever that is.
Jack Reed, Palm Harbor
Remove the bigotry
Amendment 8 conforms the Florida Constitution to the U.S. Constitution. Anyone who claims the people of Florida need more separation between church and state than what is contained in the U.S. Constitution has an agenda that goes well beyond Amendment 8.
More troubling, however, is that those opposing Amendment 8 know that the current provision they are extolling was a blatantly bigoted and discriminatory provision adopted in the late 1800s. It is offensive to see writers extol the alleged virtues of the current Florida Constitution when they and all your readers should know it is still tainted with its bigoted, discriminatory history.
All Amendment 8 does is remove the bigotry and leave everyone in Florida with the same constitutional protections our forefathers felt were appropriate when balancing church and state.
Joseph D. Magri, Belleair