Terrorists won't forget the Bergdahl precedent | June 13, commentary
Prisoner swaps are nothing new
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in his enlightening book Duty, specifically details a trade of five Iranian terrorist prisoners for a British computer consultant during the administration of George W. Bush. The terrorists carried out kidnappings, killings of innocent civilians and planned the murder of five U.S. soldiers in Karbala, Iraq.
The five terrorists were released between 2007 and 2010, including the mastermind killer, Qais Khazali. The British "consultant" was specifically traded for Khazali. There was much debate within the Bush administration, but ultimately the trade was made.
The Bowe Bergdahl trade for prisoners of war is not unique to the Obama administration, and realistically is one method utilized to repatriate military and civilian detainees held by the enemy.
Ron Frankel, St. Petersburg
Warning: Neglect voting at your own risk June 12
The duty of a citizen
John Romano's column on the importance of voting was one of his best yet. If you don't like the policies, you have to change the policymakers, and the only way to do that is to make your wishes known at the ballot box.
One of the reasons Eric Cantor was defeated was that too many of his supporters thought his re-election was a slam dunk and stayed home. Don't rely on your neighbor to go to the polls for you. Don't let the majority of the minority rule.
Deborah Green, Sun City Center
Easing burden of student debt June 14, editorial
Policies push up costs
It boggles the mind that we encourage people to spend more on college, and then wonder why colleges keep charging more. The president's latest move does nothing to reduce the cost of college; rather, it makes it easier for young people to get even deeper in debt and encourages colleges to keep tuition high.
Colleges keep raising tuition because they can — they know that politicians will keep subsidizing the costs to buy votes. These policies are nothing more than price supports that have allowed tuition costs to skyrocket. Encourage students to spend and borrow responsibly, and prices would stabilize.
Chris Johnson, Clearwater
Pot foes get billionaire ally | June 11
A better alternative for pain
I continue to be amazed at all of the opposition in Florida to medical marijuana that is based entirely on fear of its use for recreational purposes.
Medical marijuana is not prohibited in Michigan, and in conversations with a responsible Michigan user I have learned that it is available there as a product that helps to suppress pain without the euphoric effects sought by recreational users.
The only side effect is increased appetite, which is relatively benign. Compare that to the many severe side effects of the opioids and steroids that now dominate the pharmaceutical market in our state. Consider also that recreational users have no interest in a product that does not produce euphoria. A medical marijuana law limiting use and sale to noneuphoric products would be of value only to people who genuinely need it for pain and other legitimate medical purposes. It would be no threat whatever to law enforcement, and only a benefit to society in general.
Even the pharmaceutical industry could benefit if it would turn its attention to perfecting marijuana-based painkillers to replace the current opioids and steroids that have destroyed the lives of so many people in recent years.
Sheila Smith, San Antonio
Adelson's political play
There is surely no mystery in Sheldon Adelson's donation to the anti-medical marijuana contingent in Florida. The aim is to turn out a conservative set of voters in November — just the sort who will back Rick Scott for a second term.
Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg
Out-of-state meddling | June 14, letter
Casino mogul eyes Florida
The letter writer wonders why casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is bankrolling the fight against the medical marijuana initiative in Florida. For years, Adelson and other casino bigwigs have been trying to get a foot in the door to set up shop against the Seminoles. Previous governors have wisely avoided opening up our state to outside casino operators. But now, we have a governor who loves big checks. If you want a favor, write a check to the Republican Party or to one of his favorite projects and Florida is yours to exploit.
It is not a surprise that the Drug Free Florida Committee accepted outside money. They know they're fighting an uphill battle because the majority of voters support Amendment 2, and no matter how many times they show the old Reefer Madness movie, the public isn't buying it.
Bob Dalzell, St. Petersburg
Mass killing in Iraq claimed | June 16
It was only a matter of time
When the United States invaded Iraq, everyone with any knowledge of the history of the Middle East knew that three things were going to happen.
First, sooner or later Saddam Hussein was going to be gone. Second, sooner or later the United States was going to leave Iraq. Third, sooner or later Sunnis and Shiites were going to be at each other's throats, as they have been for over a thousand years.
It was only a matter of time.
Ralph Scott, Gulfport
Rays fans didn't ring their cowbells right June 14
Support the home team
As I was reading this article on the Rays fans thrown out after ringing their cowbells at "inappropriate" times, I was dumbfounded to see it all came at the instigation of Red Sox fans. It floored me that Rays fans who came to support their team would be escorted out because of complaints by probably the most arrogant, full-of-hot-air fans who visit Tropicana Field.
Rays fans go to have a good time and support their team. Those Boston fans had some gall to complain considering the stuff they dish out on a regular basis.
Rene Tamargo, Tampa