No reason for smiles, senators
On the front page of Monday's St. Petersburg Times there are two large color pictures. They show Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. Harry Reid after a deal was reached on the debt/deficit situation. In the pictures, the senators are smiling from ear to ear like Cheshire cats, as if they're proud of themselves.
After the shameful and disgusting manner in which these two men and the rest of their partners in crime failed to perform the job they were elected to do during the past several months, they should both be hanging their heads in shame, not smiling.
Alfred T. Barnard, Beverly Hills
This deal is a triumph for the tea party, hard-line Republicans and their super-rich supporters. President Barack Obama, the Democrats and most of us in the middle have to swallow the bitter medicine and be content that the deal is not as bad as it could have been.
Now that his reaching out for bipartisanship and compromise has been so effectively thrashed, the president and his party should act likewise with resolve and determination on behalf of all of us at the other end of the tea party. I doubt that will happen.
Mukunda Rao, Tampa
Bread and circuses and the gridiron July 29, Daniel Ruth column
Our ridiculous sport
It takes someone of Daniel Ruth's talent and observation to pinpoint the ridiculousness of American "football." Other, much more applicable names are available, such as "spurtball" for the 3 to 6 seconds of action into which the game is divided; or "waitball" for the amount of time everybody stands around while the referee signals exactly what happened during that last spurt.
Real football is known around the world as "the beautiful game" because it is simple, played by well-conditioned athletes who run more or less continuously for two 45-minute periods while exhibiting exquisite ball control and without a beer belly in sight.
American "football," by contrast, has all the beauty of a demolition derby.
R.G. Wheeler, St. Petersburg
Lately, we all have been seeing absolutely heartbreaking photos of the hollow-eyed, emaciated children of Somalia. In Friday's Times there was a picture of a Somali mother and her very sick child. Some 2.2 million Somalis are living in "inaccessible famine."
Then I moved on to the Sports section to read Here, the grass really is greener (July 29). This was another glaring example of a "mega church" expanding its "ministry" by adding a $4.2 million football and athletic facility. The writer describes the facility as "opulent."
Does anyone else think there is something wrong here?
Along with their snack bar, media rooms and various other "ministries," does their budget include Christ's admonition to feed the hungry?
Michael P. Catalano, Palm Harbor
Women find peeping cameras | July 28
Learn English and leave
The case of the Bulgarian women apparently peeped on demonstrates what is wrong with our immigration laws. These women supposedly came to the United States to learn English but in short order found themselves jobs to pay for their living expenses and the cost of their instruction.
Perhaps the United States should follow the example of Australia, which also gets tons of requests from people who want to "learn English." When they come to Australia, they are kept in a campus-like area. When they complete their language course, they are escorted to the airport and made sure they fly back to their native countries. The Australians have learned from experience that most of those wanting to "learn English" are in fact looking for a way to stay and work there.
Humberto A. Calderon, Tampa
Firefighters to get $2M in damages | July 29
Bias case deserved more
The Times buried a news brief deep inside the paper that should have received more play.
A group of white and Hispanic firefighters in New Haven, Conn., finally won their day in court. They were awarded $2 million because they successfully made the case that they were the victims of reverse discrimination.
New Haven had thrown out test results for those seeking promotion for no other reason than African-Americans taking the test had failed to achieve the level of success of other racial groups.
The case originally had been dismissed by an appeals court led by Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who was later nominated by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mike Kersmarki, Tampa
State drug law ruled unconstitutional July 29
Law needed changing
While out walking in November 2008, I found a purple cloth bag with about 250 oxycodone tablets in it.
I called St. Petersburg police and asked where I could turn it in. I was told that if I came to the main police station with it, I would be arrested for possession of illegal narcotics. Needless to say, I disposed of the bag by other means.
Now I know why I received that response on the phone. So much for the Constitution.
I'm still trying to find out when I moved to Thailand, Saudi Arabia or any of those other countries where you are guilty with no recourse just because of possession.
John H. Edwards, Pinellas Park
Tax dollars for religion bad idea July 28, commentary
Principle of neutrality
The writers are wrong about the free expression and establishment clauses of the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution requires government to be agnostic when it comes to matters of religion. Governments should neither favor one religion over another, nor favor irreligion over religion.
Florida's Constitution, to the extent that it denies aid to religious organizations which it provides to nonreligious institutions, violates that principle of neutrality. It deprives students of the right to study at institutions which are affiliated with churches even if the course of study has no religious content.
The primary principle behind the U.S. Constitution is personal freedom. Vouchers enhance freedom. As long as parents are free to choose where to spend them, the vouchers are constitutional.
Rod Sullivan, professor, Florida Coastal School of Law, Jacksonville