Romney revives debate over missiles in Europe | March 24
Good thing Romney not in charge
We need to thank Mitt Romney for reminding us what he would be doing if he had won the presidency. He would be introducing a military element by arming the Ukrainians, without any request or support from our NATO allies.
When asked what different actions he would have taken, he had no concrete advice except a longing for the days when America was feared around the world, like when George W. Bush invaded Iraq on a hunch. Then he informed us there are no countries where America is held in higher regard than it was in 2008, because we didn't bomb Syria, didn't prop up Egypt, didn't bomb Libya and haven't bombed Iran yet.
His proposal is to increase defense spending and produce fear in Vladimir Putin by installing missiles in the Czech Republic. That is exactly the provocation and excuse Putin would need to invade farther west. Then what?
Does Romney forget that we were almost universally loathed for our stupidity and bullying? Would he have us policing Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine simultaneously; against even our NATO allies' express wishes?
President Barack Obama has navigated these challenges with intelligence and the humility to recognize the limits of force. Republicans' only solution is to blame Obama, using self-serving rhetoric at the expense of our collective dignity.
Kurt Steinmann, Belleair
Ramp up pressure on Putin March 23, commentary
Don't fall for Putin's bluster
This column by Garry Kasparov throws more light on the Putin-Ukraine-U.S. situation than most comments by so-called experts and most American pundits. Kasparov's main point, that Vladimir Putin ignores history, rules, diplomacy and just plain logic, should illuminate the State Department and NATO.
If Putin really thought Russia had a right to Crimea, why did he not present a well-thought-out petition to the United Nations? In fact, he could have made a logical and almost honest proposal and asked for an open referendum with NATO and U.N. observers. Like most bullies who fear they are wrong, he relied on force, lies, bribes and the well-known aversion to another major war by all the other world powers.
But sooner or later Putin will run out of moves. The best thinkers and workers will flee. The natural gas revenue will be stolen by the oligarchs rather than invested in the military. Expect to see even more "private armies" run by oligarchs and outside of Putin's control.
Kasparov is right. Heighten the pressure. Strengthen and enforce the sanctions. Those who even hint at armed resistance or military action against Russia are just falling for Putin's bluff and bluster.
Robert P. Curran, Beverly Hills
Landed, then lost | March 23
Look deeper at salaries
Gov. Rick Scott has provided hefty financial incentives to businesses that move here, and they are always touting the "average" salaries. We should look deeper, since these averages include the pay for the CEO and other officers at the top, who usually make 10 to 100 times more than the average employee. This skews the numbers.
They should give the average pay by groups — management vs. nonmanagement employees and how many of each.
Jane Kisluk, Seminole
Red-light cameras and need for green March 22, editorial
Plenty of uses for money
Even though red-light cameras at 51 intersections have proved to save lives, reduce the number of crashes, allow police more time to keep our city safer, and actually made a profit, last week the Tampa City Council voted to take down the cameras because they didn't know what to do with the money. It was nearly $1.64 million last year.
Given that in 2012, Hillsborough County was No. 2 in the state in DUI arrests (4,030), No. 1 in DUI crash injuries (665), No. 2 in DUI crashes (1,478) and No. 2 in DUI fatalities (60), it's obvious that we need to improve safety on our roads. Here are some ideas: Fund more DUI education programs; spend more on the Sheriff's Office S.A.V.E. program; donate money to high school driver-education programs; fund outreach programs for children at risk; fix water drainage problems; repair sidewalks; add sidewalks where needed; designate more bike lanes; patch potholes; and provide more security at schools.
Discontinuing a proven, successful program and denying other programs funding is not only absurd but a dereliction of duty.
Teresa Miller, Tampa
The audacity of courage | March 20
I enjoyed the article about Stefan Sanderling and, after seeing him once again lead the Florida Orchestra to its highest level of performance Sunday night, felt a bit sad that we won't see him here again. His chemistry with the orchestra is clearly greater than any of the fine guest conductors we have seen for the past two years.
While I feel more comfortable listening to the "old war horses," I agree with Sanderling that the orchestra must include other works in its programming. Just look around the concert halls and observe the audiences. How many of them (us) will be attending concerts in 10 years or 20 years? Many of the composers the current audiences love were considered "avant-garde" in their day. When we were teenagers, Elvis was considered too far out; who would think that today?
For the orchestra to survive, it must adapt. It certainly should include the great composers of the past in its programming, but also must introduce us to late 20th and 21st century classical music. I am trying to keep my mind open and learn to appreciate the newer stuff; I hope other supporters of our great Florida Orchestra will do so, too.
It was probably time for Maestro Sanderling to move on, but I hope he will be invited back often and be willing to guest-conduct the orchestra that has continued to achieve greatness because of his time here.
Henry Goldhammer, Palm Harbor