After the tears, they merrily cut
With the GOP is on the verge of controlling the U.S. House of Representatives, the public will surely feel blessed to know that our future speaker, John Boehner, is now free to express his inner self.
It seems that crying, sobbing and otherwise making a spectacle of yourself on 60 Minutes is no longer deemed a major faux pas and grounds for ending one's political career. The slightest hint of pure sentiment (childhood, the American dream, and mom's apple pie) can set off this normally buttoned-down Ohio Republican into paroxysms. Those who know him best, Boehner assures us, are very accustomed to his sobs and snorts.
Now that Boehner is ready to ascend to second in line to the presidency, and just in time for the holidays, the dewy-eyed congressman has let the world in on his secret. Both he and his weeping Republican compatriot in the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, can entertain the masses with crocodile tears while they and their fellow congressional millionaires merrily hack away at such entitlements as health care, unemployment benefits, Social Security and all that separates the rest of us from utter oblivion.
Chris Monaco, Micanopy
By some measures, far from exceptional Dec. 18, commentary
America is exceptional but can always be better
Exceptionalism means the American experiment has been, from the beginning, rare and deviating from the norm. It does not necessarily make one superior, contrary to popular definition.
This also applies to widely quoted statistics pertaining to education and health care. While we appear to be lagging behind in these areas, there is still no better place in the world to achieve beyond one's wildest dreams. While there are pockets of abject poverty, there is no better place in the world to be "poor."
In this magnificent country, not "we," but "I," each individual, must avoid complacency. Our founders gave us liberty and a promise of equal opportunity under the law with no guarantee of equal results.
I argue that "American exceptionalism" is the notion that the United States is the greatest nation, right and wrong.
Arthur P. Broaderick, M.D., Niceville
Be careful what you ask for
For those of you who voted for Rick Scott, be careful what you ask for. The current climate in the media and in politics in general is to demonize government. Voters are being manipulated into thinking government is the cause for of the current economic debacle. I'm no economist, but the last time I checked, the Wall Street collapse and mortgage and banking quagmires weren't the fault of the government (directly) or the middle class. These catastrophes occurred due to the lack of government regulation.
Special interests with all of their money and political pundits have successfully been able to reverse the heat on corporate America and place the entire blame on the government. Scott's agenda, as he puts it, is to "streamline" government, which is code for dismantling and deregulating even more. Remember it was government regulators who caught Scott's HCA ripping off your tax dollars in a Medicare scheme. Like every corporation that commits fraud, this probably wasn't its first rodeo. How many times did it get away with other frauds undetected?
Rick Scott is not out to see that "Joe the Plumber" gets a job or a fair shake in a blue-collar trade. As the Times reported, he's been having confidential meetings with large corporate interests out of the eyes of the media (Sunshine Law be damned) and the general public. He is out to lay the groundwork for his special interest cronies to dismantle government as we know it and labor unions, all under the ruse of his infamous "Let's get to work" slogan, which strategically plays on the hearts and minds of the electorate and unemployed.
Scott is a corporate wolf in political sheep's clothing.
Randy St. Clair, Pinellas Park
Taj Mahal courthouse
Don't forget maintenance
In recent weeks everyone's been talking about how much money it cost to build the Taj Mahal courthouse in Tallahassee. As someone who works in maintenance, I find it interesting that no one has discussed how much it's going to cost to maintain the building.
African mahogany needs special oils to treat it. Terrazzo floors need to be stripped, waxed and polished to keep their shine. Add lawn care, cleaning the kitchens and other regular maintenance, and it's clear that the taxpayers will be carrying a heavy load for years after the building costs are paid.
Tony Tardugno, Tampa
For a better education | Dec. 20, letter
GOP has been in charge
A letter writer complaining about the "liberal bias" of the Times in an article about school vouchers used talking points such as schools being "a bastion of left-wing ideals" without giving a hint of what he was talking about. The letter states, "Instead of blasting Republicans, why not fix the school system?"
Instead of this name-calling, a few minutes taken to research the topic of Florida's poor school performance would have revealed that since 2003, the head of the Department of Education in Florida has been appointed by Republican Govs. Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist.
Since Republicans have been overseeing the Florida public school system for years now, who else does the letter writer think should be blamed? And how would he propose the system be fixed by the same Republicans who have overseen its decline?
George Petrick, Riverview
For homeless, a last act of dignity | Dec. 22
A jarring contrast
Fifty-six homeless people died in Hillsborough County this year. Many families could not afford Christmas gifts or a nice dinner for their children. And a rare bottle of wine is expected to sell here for $30,000.
Where are our priorities?
Sue Shiflett, Odessa
Repeal's negative effects | Dec. 21, letter
The repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" is not a profoundly radical experiment within the military. This change is an acknowledgement of the sad reality that has gone on for far too long: that the United States has been excluding valuable, competent citizens based on a long-standing, irrational fear.
There have always been homosexuals who have fought and died in service to our country. So now that we might actually know who they are, is that going to compromise our military effectiveness, or unit cohesion? Utterly ridiculous. It belittles the adaptability of the brave men and women who serve our country to believe that they are not "brothers-in-arms" wholly dedicated to whatever the task at hand is.
We, as a nation, are diminished when we deny the skills and talents that gay individuals can and do contribute.
Jack Beaufait, St. Petersburg