Mystery money corrupts campaign | July 13, editorial
Issue ads a matter of free speech
In this editorial you suggest that American Commitment's free speech right to criticize Sen. Bill Nelson's record is dependent on the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. But the Supreme Court made clear in 1976's Buckley vs. Valeo that issue advertising is not subject to campaign finance restrictions.
Unfortunately, dubious pronouncements made authoritatively have become a habit for the Times.
For instance, it is a simple, undeniable fact that the health care law passed with exactly 60 votes for cloture, the minimum required. Thus every vote was decisive, and had a single Senate Democrat, such as Nelson, voted "no" it could not have passed. Anyone who would allege, as you have, that any of the 60 was not the deciding vote is a partisan apologist, not a fact-checker.
The relevant Supreme Court decision that confirmed our constitutional right to protect the privacy of our supporters was not Citizens United but the landmark 1958 case NAACP vs. Alabama, which found that membership organizations have a right to protect the anonymity of their supporters because forced disclosure would risk retribution that could chill their free speech rights.
Given the willingness of some in the media to coordinate with outside pressure groups to intimidate and silence critics of the Obama administration, such protection is more vital than ever.
Phil Kerpen, president, American Commitment, Washington, D.C.
Most voters oppose health care law | July 13
Distortions skew result
It's not surprising that a slight majority of Florida voters oppose the Affordable Care Act. According to a recent Kaiser health reform quiz, only 25 percent of respondents know that the law does not require small businesses with fewer than 50 employees to provide health insurance. Only 27 percent know that the law does not create a government-run insurance plan to be offered along with private plans. While almost everyone feels strongly one way or the other about the ACA, respondents scored less than 50 percent on five of the 10 questions, in some cases dismally less.
That Americans scored so pathetically low on such a politically charged issue is testament to the efficacy of the Republican campaign of misinformation, distortion and outright lies regarding the ACA. See, for example, "death panels," "government takeover," "job killer," "largest tax increase in history," among many other pejorative — and inaccurate — terms.
Charles Stewart, New Port Richey
They've got theirs
I find it ironic that in your poll, the greatest opposition to the Affordable Care Act comes from those over 65. This very group has been enjoying a government health care program, Medicare, since 1965! Can you imagine the uproar if there was a movement to repeal that?
Peter McLean, Riverview
Good first step
I think this law is a good first step, though not perfect. I am already holding a rebate check from an insurance company as a consequence of the act.
I think the Democrats have to educate the public better — a none-too-easy task, I concede.
Sahasra Naman, Tarpon Springs
Quiet respect for two bay area sons | July 13
Thank you, Tampa Bay Times, for using Page 1 to honor those American patriots who fought and died beside our nation's banner in Afghanistan. The roadside bombing that took the lives of Army Staff Sgt. Ricardo Seija, Spc. Clarence Williams III and four other Americans was tragic. God bless them and their loved ones.
If I could speak to our fallen heroes, I would tell them:
Whenever Old Glory falls to the ground in flames, I will think of you, my friends. I will share your sorrow and your pain. For you are the blood and soul of our nation. You are every flag waving in the wind all across our beloved land.
Tony D'Andrea, Largo
Sheriff shoots down NRA's inane quiz July 13, Daniel Ruth column
Right on target
Daniel Ruth hit the nail on the head as he illustrated that the NRA's questionnaire is designed to get a specific response from the person seeking political office. The NRA can use the submitted answers as a tool to rally its members to oppose and criticize politicians who do not support its extremist gun legislation.
Ruth was perhaps too kind when he called the biased questionnaire "half-baked." A more accurate picture is clever, manipulative and intimidating. Hats off to Ruth for exposing this propaganda tool used against politicians who are more concerned about gun safety issues than caving in to the NRA's agenda.
Tom Burke, Clearwater
Steel to curtain the RNC | July 13
Be on best behavior
How sad to think that we have to go to such great lengths to protect our citizens from one another. I pray that no one becomes so enraged by whatever is said or is going on that a fence will be needed.
I know the threat of terrorism is always going to be a way of life now. I just hope hosting the RNC does not bring out the worst in our own citizens.
Sabina Harshbarger, St. Petersburg
China-made U.S. Olympic uniforms cause furor | July 13
A matter of national pride
I was furious when I heard our Olympians will be wearing made in China uniforms in London. It is an insult to our athletes. China is one of the worst civil rights violators in the world.
Where is our national pride? And who are the goofs who made this decision?
Ray Gilliam, Clearwater
TV option is too attractive
To increase attendance, the Rays need to stop televising every home game. They should only televise road games. Why would people in this low-wage market fight the traffic, pay to park, purchase a ticket and pay $13 for a beer and hot dog when they can watch the game in the comfort of their own living room?
Tom Plate, Largo