I thank you for your coverage of this "event." My sister, Pam Dickens, has done pet therapy at Tampa General Hospital for more than two years, and Thursday I saw firsthand what an amazing job she does not only for the children in the hospital but also for the wonderful staff.
For just a short time that morning, on the fifth-floor pediatric unit, children smiled and possibly forgot about their illness and adults were just a little less stressed.
Maybe we need more stories showing the compassion and spirit that so many people like my sister share with this community. We are living in a difficult period right now — job losses and endless tales of people struggling — but for one hour as I attended a dog wedding I saw sick children, worried parents and kind, gentle staff members forget their worries and celebrate a "marriage."
Patti Chastain, Tampa
Homeland Security's warning had some merit
In light of the violent murders of Dr. George Tiller in his church and, more recently, security guard Stephen Johns while on duty at the Washington, D.C., Holocaust Museum, can Americans now agree that the Department of Homeland Security was onto something this past April?
Shortly after the Homeland Security report in April underscored the rise in right-wing "radicalization and recruitment," DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano was bullied by popular right-wing pundits, the current GOP chairman as well as a former Republican speaker of the House, into apologizing for the report.
Perhaps former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, RNC chairman Michael Steele, pundits Michelle Malkin and Rush Limbaugh and others should be apologizing to Secretary Napolitano.
The First Amendment is and should be the law of the land with respect to free speech, but there is something seriously wrong with our country's conversational culture when so-called "news talk" pundits on one side of the political aisle can badger a U.S. Cabinet member into making apologies for factual assertions in a report that all too tragically are later borne out. Moreover, it is arguably these very right-wing pundits who are responsible for adding fuel to the flames of extremist hatred among their audience, thus triggering the most fanatical among them to do the unspeakable.
These pundits are quick to abdicate their responsibility by claiming "freedom of speech" privilege, but they are forgetting that, as a popular comic-book hero might say, "With great freedom comes great responsibility." If these representatives of public communication are to call themselves "journalists," as some of them actually do, then they need to communicate their opinions with a greater level of civil and civic responsibility. Otherwise, they dishonor our freedoms, and the First Amendment, by tacitly enabling such hatred and domestic terrorism of our citizenry.
Michelle Kenoyer, Riverview
Life of hate talk before shooting | June 11, story
A biased casting of blame
The mainstream media have once again blamed the "right-wing" extremists for the shooting death of the museum guard. This falls in line with the idea that there are right-wing killers popping up all over the country. First the media pointed to the shooting of three police officers, then the abortion doctor, now this.
In reality, this James von Brunn was an anti-Semite, anti-Catholic neocon (conservative) hater who was apparently targeting the offices of the Weekly Standard, a conservative newspaper. This, of course, was not printed because it went against this paper's (and many others') agenda. There was no mention of the Muslim-convert who killed the Army recruiter.
This von Brunn and the killer of the soldier could be considered "left-wing extremists" or "antiwar" or "anti-American," but you will never ever see those words printed together in the mainstream media.
The far left have been out there for the last eight years at antiwar rallies, political speeches, at the Capitol, but they were never mentioned as "left-wing" groups. They were just "protesting" the Bush government. Do you see the bias?
Bill Gerretz, St. Petersburg
Closing of Chrysler dealerships
Consumers are too pinched
To the owners of the Chrysler dealerships that are closing and to those losing their jobs, let me extend my heartfelt sorrow. On the other hand the complaints of losing this business may partly be due to the fact that most of us can't afford to finance another item for five years or more that has obviously been overpriced in the first place.
The last new car we bought was in 1999 and I don't foresee being able to do anything about replacing it any time soon because I have to pay for food, health insurance, property taxes, homeowners insurance, clothes for a growing child, and on and on.
Maybe if those with the power to do something about it, including the car dealership CEOs, weren't so greedy we might all be a little better off. The one person who has benefited from this situation is our mechanic. I appreciate him and have become a loyal customer because he has been fair and honest with us when he could have taken full advantage of a profitable situation for himself.
Theresa Hicks, Clearwater
Microcar damages can dent the wallet June 11
Bigger cars are safer cars
So collision costs are higher for small cars. Is anyone really surprised?
The true and unfortunate increased costs associated with small cars are from fatalities and injuries. It has been proven, year after year, that more people die or get injured in a small car vs. a safer, larger one. This is something that Detroit has been telling us for years, and they have sales figures to back them up. Has anyone noticed that virtually every Asian car company has increased the size of their cars and trucks for the American market? They have been allies with the Big Three in this ongoing debate.
My small car, which is suitable for Pinellas County, would be eaten up on the roads of most every American city. Not only are there potholes, there are snowstorms, freezing rain, and really fast-paced, aggressive driving. I have never seen anybody ever go below the speed limit anywhere but Pinellas County.
Now the government is mandating that Detroit build more small cars. The government is denying the reality that small cars are less safe and now appear to be more expensive in some ways.
The Detroit automakers have made an effort to build a bridge between the realities of the oil situation and the demand of the American public for large, safe cars. Ford built the first hybrid SUV, the Escape. Chevy is bringing out the world's first plug-in electric car next year, the Volt. Why do so many people think that Detroit is so out of touch? Just look at all the large cars we have here in Tampa Bay. Were all these purchases for glamor and status?
I highly doubt it. Americans know their roads. They know that there are a whole lot of accidents out there. Give Detroit a break.
Jeannie Cline, St. Petersburg
Deal or no deal, it's done | June 10, story
Ford deserves support
I was disappointed to note a comment made by a local person that he would no longer buy either a Chrysler or GM product, but only Toyota and Honda.
The first carmaker and as American as apple pie was Ford. I now drive a Cadillac CTS and love it, but my next car will be Ford, Lincoln or Mercury. Ford took no government bailout money. They now have to compete with two companies that are owned by a union and a government that can print all the money it wants.
All I would ask is try a Ford product. They are the only true U.S. car manufacturer not owned and controlled by the federal government and a union. They are making great cars.
Perry J. Dahl, Tampa
U.S. deficit needs attention, quickly | June 11, editorial
No time to cut back
At a time when national unemployment is approaching 10 percent and local governments are contemplating draconian cuts, one might expect a call for the federal government to spend another $100 billion to $200 billion to support states and localities so that the benefits of federal stimulus spending are not undermined by cutbacks at the state and local level.
Instead, you issue a call to reduce the federal deficit, the surest way to cut off a recovery before it has even had a chance to begin.
Yes, debt matters, but unlike the runaway level of household consumer debt that led to our current crisis, federal debt is moderate by historical levels. At the end of World War II, debt held by the public was more than 100 percent of one year's national income. Far from ruining the economy, what followed was the greatest economic boom in U.S. history.
Steve Dubb, Tampa
U.S. deficit needs attention, quickly | June 11, editorial
Obama on a binge
My wife and I get more laughs out of your editorial page than we do the comics. Barack Obama's out-of-control spending makes George W. Bush look thrifty. His policy of government ownership and intrusion into everything is changing this great country from a democracy to European-style socialism.
Your paper, like the majority of the media, has gone from reporting the news to just more Obama propaganda. I can only hope the American people wake up and vote out the "current occupant" before the damage is irreversible.
Martin Horne, Treasure Island
Odyssey claim tarnished | June 5, story
Spain's questionable claim
I find myself wondering: By what right does Spain claim ownership of the gold and silver treasure found at the bottom of the ocean by Odyssey Marine? If I remember my history correctly, that gold and silver was either stolen outright from or mined by the slave labor of the indigenous peoples of this hemisphere.
Many of those peoples are unable to make a claim for it because they are now extinct, thanks in large part to the efforts of those same Spaniards. At the time they stole it the Spaniards obviously thought that "possession is nine-tenths of the law," so I say let the same precedent apply now.
At least the Odyssey people earned their interest in it by the sweat of their own brow and not by enslaving an entire race of people and exterminating most of them.
Kim L. Ground, Tampa
Rename it Tampa Bay No Water | June 9, Howard Troxler column
More cooperation needed
I certainly agree with Howard Troxler's column about the ineffective projects we have seen in our water district.
We have five water districts in our state under the Department of Environmental Protection. We need a state water czar to require the districts to cooperate with each other and share resources.
For instance, in springtime flooding of the Suwannee River basin, why not send water to the Southwest and South Florida districts to recharge the well fields through a pipeline system? Existing rights of way could be shared with the electric distribution system.
Dennis McDaniel, St. Petersburg
Be proud of our flag
Flag Day is Sunday and that means our proud symbol of the United States of America is to be displayed once again. "The Stars and Stripes" demonstrates to the world our patriotism and loyalty to our country.
The American flag epitomizes the fact that we are a freedom-loving people adhering to the words from the American's Creed: "I believe in the United States of America … whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon the principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes."
Newcomers to our shores should become familiar with what the American flag stands for. Our flag represents a democracy that we are proud to say is among the finest in the world. New immigrants should become citizens as soon as possible; to do less would not be conducive to a fervent way of living in this free society.
Be sure to display your American flag, regardless of how big or small, in front of your residence. Be proud of our flag and be proud that you live in the United States of America.
Jack Keller Sr., World War II combat veteran, Belleair Bluffs