Fourth of July
They keep America humming
As a retired federal employee with 31 years of service at the U.S. Public Health Service and Department of Veterans Affairs, the Fourth of July is an important day for me. Since the dawn of our nation, federal workers have played a significant role in America's achievements.
The contributions of federal workers will be very much in evidence as Americans celebrate our nation's birthday. Millions of Americans will check a weather report prepared by the National Weather Service, grill meat inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and fly in skies kept safe by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration. Others will enjoy time in our national parks, travel with children protected by car seats inspected by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and visit post offices to mail letters to loved ones serving in the military. Still others will receive care at the two veterans hospitals in the Tampa Bay area.
My fellow federal workers and I are proud of the jobs we've done for America for the last 236 years. We wish you, and the nation we love, a happy Independence Day.
Sally F. Martin, Tampa
Ruling invalidates Stolen Valor Act | June 29
Denigration of a medal
In the recent past I had occasion to be invited to the White House for the solemn, posthumous award of the Medal of Honor to a good friend who was killed in the line of duty. The Medal of Honor is awarded to a member of the armed forces who distinguishes him- or herself conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States. I find it difficult to accept the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that invalidated the Stolen Valor Act for a man who made "a pathetic attempt to gain respect for himself." As stated by Justice Samuel Alito, only the bravest of the brave are awarded the Medal of Honor. To denigrate the medal in this fashion is unpardonable.
Orfeo Trombetta, Seminole
Donald Montanez/Donald Rivera
Cost of absurd gun laws
Just before last week's sentencing of Donald Montanez, who killed a man who was trying to take back his car from a towing impound, we learned that in the last decade he has lived in the open under a false identity. We know now that he is a felon who came to Florida to reinvent himself. How many times have the state and local governments looked him over and decided he passed muster? How flawed is the process of issuing concealed-weapons permits if this guy sails through?
When the concealed-weapons laws were forced on us by the NRA, we were also "assured" that the application process would eliminate the people who should not have guns. We have been paying a huge price to prosecute, incarcerate and care for Montanez, whose real last name is Rivera, and will continue to pay for the next 25 years at least. On top of the needless death of one man, we have learned the additional cost of absurd gun laws.
J.M. Fernandez, Tampa
Companies split on health law effect | June 29
This is sloppiest journalism I've seen in a long time. It fails to mention that all of the questions worrying business owners have answers online at healthcare.gov. It fails to point out that companies with fewer than 50 full-time employees have no requirement to provide health insurance. It fails to point out that businesses that small may earn tax credits up to 35 percent of their costs by providing health insurance this year, increasing to 50 percent starting in 2014. Some will also get a deduction for the remainder of those costs. It fails to point out that there is no mandate for larger companies to provide health insurance, but there is a penalty (tax, if you prefer) if their employees instead seek tax credits for purchasing their own insurance. In other words, since the goal is universal health insurance, if your employees have to seek government assistance to pay for health insurance, you will reimburse the government for each employee who does get the credit.
I'm really tired of hearing media repeating misinformation or misleading information like this article.
John Goins, Brandon
It's good to be the Fourth June 29, Daniel Ruth column
Mack lying in wait
This column about lightweight politician Connie Mack IV reminded me of the 1992 Eddie Murphy movie The Distinguished Gentleman, in which small-time conman Murphy takes on the persona of deceased (white) congressman Jeff Johnson in order to cash in on the greed and corruption of Washington, D.C. Like Murphy's character, Mack seems to be lying low during the campaign, hoping to sneak into office based on name recognition by uninformed and apathetic voters. The scary part is that Florida could actually elect Mack because of his famous name.
Joseph A. Barkley III, Belleair Bluffs
Supreme Court keeps Citizens United intact June 26
Rubio's odd logic
Sen. Marco Rubio sent me an email response stating "I am a strong supporter of free speech in all forms and believe that includes political contributions."
My question to him and all supporters of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling is, "How is my speech free when I can contribute only $10 and a multimillionaire contributes $1,000,000 to you and your super PACs?" It feels like Sen. Rubio represents the monied citizens of Florida but not me.
Esther Kirk, Riverview
Scott will not carry out health care law July 1
Someone should explain to Justice John Roberts and the rest of the U.S. Supreme Court that they may decide what federal laws are constitutional in the other 49 states but here in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott has appointed himself supreme justice when it comes to what federal laws our governor chooses to obey.
I have no doubt that had the Supreme Court decision been more favorable to Scott, he would have stood behind the court and used the ruling to bludgeon his opponents into submitting to his extreme antidemocratic ideologies.
Brian Valsavage, St. Petersburg
What's next, Rush rehab?
First Jeb Bush starts talking like a reasonable person with his own mind. Then the U.S. Supreme Court finds that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. What's next? Will Rush Limbaugh join a 12-step program and start apologizing to all those decent people he has offended?
John Henninger, Clearwater