Don't lose the faith, Romney | July 23, commentary
Mormon skeletons in the closet
Columnist Michael Kinsley wrote that, instead of downplaying his religion, Mitt Romney should "make Mormonism a key part of his campaign." I disagree.
Mormons have a lot of commendable attributes, such as their sobriety and their reputation for honesty. But the Mormon church also has a lot of skeletons in its closet, such as polygamy; the massacre of approximately 120 innocent travelers at Mountain Meadows, Utah, in 1857; and the facts that for 150 years the Mormon church taught that all black people were cursed and that, until 1978, no black man could become a bishop of the church.
Polls have shown that many fundamentalist Christians, a key Republican voting bloc, consider Mormons to be a cult rather than a branch of Christianity. By flaunting his Mormonism, Romney would call attention to some of the Mormon practices that these fundamentalists consider un-Christian, such as wearing special underwear, called "temple garments," to protect them from evil. That would probably lose Romney more votes than it would gain.
James Nelson, Largo
Once again we have a multiple shooting rampage and once again the same old arguments about gun control come forward. How is it that the entertainment industry gets a pass? The gunman apparently was obsessed with a villain from the Batman movies and comic books.
Go to the library and pull a graphic novel off the shelf and view the violence in its pages. Large body counts and gore are prominent. So too in many shows that have been coming out of Hollywood for decades. Characters have no problem obtaining fully automatic weapons and using them with wild abandon.
The entertainment industry has been feeding our culture horrible stuff for years, so it should come as no surprise that there are warped people out there.
The entertainment industry has a First Amendment right to glorify killing, but I think the peddling of demented garbage for years has much to do with these violent outbursts.
Ed Mills, Clearwater
Look out for each other
Letters are pouring in talking about doing something about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and lunatics. Ban the guns and there will be a black market for them. Do we see less drug dealing because of the banning of drugs?
What we really need to do is to connect once again. I don't mean Facebook or Twitter. I mean face-to-face. How many of you actually know your neighbor? There apparently were plenty of signs from James Holmes, but they just weren't picked up by anyone in his life.
Ronald Melone, Clearwater
Penn State penalties | July 24
This isn't a sports issue
The Penn State case is not about sports; it is about greed and the abuse of power. The actions by Jerry Sandusky and others at Penn State, including Joe Paterno, were reprehensible. However, this was not a football issue. There was no advantage gained by the team from any of these actions.
The circumstances of this case should be adjudicated by government agencies and not the NCAA. An appropriate sanction might be to limit government aid, and those involved should be prosecuted. The NCAA's sanctions are nothing more than saber-rattling and showing off its power. Why are so many student athletes being punished — not just football players, but all of the other athletes who gain from funding from the football program?
Ken Cunha, St. Petersburg
State blinded by devotion to testing July 24, John Romano column
Test taking: wrong answer
John Romano's column is right on target. Schools are teaching our children how to take tests, not how to think and solve problems. Our country did not become great by taking tests. It progressed because there were people who could find solutions to challenges and find ways to improve the quality of our lives.
So to all the "smart people" in Tallahassee, enough with the testing. Get back to the basics of teaching our children reading, writing and arithmetic and how to think and solve problems along with respect for teachers and other people.
Sylvia Fies, St. Petersburg
Senate jobs bill
Bring back the jobs
Senate Bill 3664 has been proposed to end tax breaks for companies moving jobs overseas. The bill would continue to allow deductions for jobs moved within the United States, or brought back to the United States. It also proposes an additional tax credit for 20 percent of the cost of moving jobs back here.
Considering the unemployment situation, this bill is a no-brainer. However, one of Florida's senators, Marco Rubio, voted no on even allowing this bill to proceed. Floridians deserve a yes vote on a bill that will actually bring jobs back to the United States.
Karen Spisak, Tampa
Too much fraud
Congress is debating an almost $1 trillion farm bill that includes funding for food stamps. While I support the bill in general, something must be done about the abuse and fraud in the food stamp program.
The going rate on the street for food stamp cards is 50 percent of face value. So someone who qualifies for $200 in food stamps can sell their EBT card for $100 cash, because you can buy beer and cigarettes with cash but not with the EBT card.
There is a very simple way to fix most of this abuse: Require a photo ID to be presented when paying with a food stamp card.
Ashley Hill, Palm Harbor
A rough crowd benefits | July 22
Self-defense is basic right
Every human being has an inherent right to self-defense. Even murderers in prison retain that right, although unarmed.
The other reality is that there is no method of counting how many citizens have successfully used a firearm (while standing their ground or not) in legitimate self-defense by simply displaying a firearm or other deadly weapon and ending the threat. There is no such statistic.
In addition, criminal activity is discouraged by the chance that a potential victim may be armed. Florida's plummeting crime rates over the last 23 years, since its concealed carry law was legislated, surely seem to support that concept.
Lee Hanson, Hudson