'We need to fix the problem' | May 31
Shinseki served nation honorably
What a disgrace. For political expediency, the president, under pressure from self-serving, spineless congressmen, weak-kneed advisers and bloodthirsty elements in the press, accepted Eric Shinseki's forced resignation — notwithstanding that, as a true patriot, Shinseki was more than willing to carry on, bust some heads and take names. He dedicated his entire adult life, with impeccable character, to serving his country. Now what is he guilty of? Believing what his subordinates told him.
The Washington establishment is a lot like the Pony Express — with one major difference. Instead of the horses being changed or reconditioned every four or eight years, it's the riders (the politicians) who are changed. All the while, the American people end up suckered, with a less than competent and often deceitful performance.
John Demas, Odessa
Twist in vote maps trial | May 30
Florida's electoral injustice
The trial over Florida's legislative redistricting is one huge exercise in ignoring the core issue at stake: equal protection under the law.
The GOP has no problem working up a froth about mythical "voter fraud" — its excuse for nationwide voter-suppression campaigns. Yet it seems blind to its own equally broad efforts to rig elections through the gerrymander. This campaign has a single, simple mission: to make the votes of likely GOP voters worth more than those of likely Democratic voters. It's not about crazy-quilt legislative districts. It's all about diluting the power of one group of voters ("theirs") while enhancing the power of another ("ours").
This clearly and unambiguously violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. If our courts had the courage and integrity we expect of them, it wouldn't be allowed. In the 2012 congressional elections in Florida, Republicans won 51.7 percent of the votes and Democrats won 46.7 percent. By rights, this should have sent 15 Republicans and 12 Democrats to the House. The actual split was 17 to 10.
This kind of injustice was repeated around the country. As we all know, it is even more unfair at the state level in Florida.
Buck Beasom, Tampa
Defending the law, or not
I've wondered where Pam Bondi has been during the redistricting lawsuit. Why should private groups go to court to enforce the Florida Constitution when the her office proclaims, "It is the attorney general's duty to defend Florida law"? Oops, that statement was issued concerning her objection to same-sex marriage.
Apparently she believes it is her duty to defend Florida law when it conflicts with the laws of other states and federal court rulings, but not when Florida law conflicts with state Republican Party objectives.
John Chamless, Pinellas Park
More meddling abroad
The U.S. House has passed by voice vote HR 4587, the Venezuelan Human Rights and Democracy Protection Act. It authorizes President Barack Obama to choose whom to apply sanctions against and whom to support. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the president could interfere, at his discretion, in the internal affairs of another sovereign nation. It appears Congress has learned nothing from our actions in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, etc.
It also states that the United States can offer refugee status or political asylum to dissidents in Venezuela or assist in their relocation to other countries. We cannot secure our borders, but we will provide a base for dissidents to agitate against another nation?
This legislation also "authorizes appropriations for assistance to civil society in Venezuela." It doesn't specify how much will be spent or where the money will come from. I suspect the Treasury's printing press will be working overtime.
William Rueck, New Port Richey
Land of the grieved, home of the depraved June 1, Daniel Ruth column
A change will come
I feel a bit more optimistic than Daniel Ruth does, not because there is any accelerated progress toward gun control, but because change happens when you least expect it.
Who would have predicted a decade ago that we would be witnessing the epic shift in views on gay marriage? A February poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 53 percent of Americans support gay marriage and 41 percent oppose it. That is nearly a reverse of the same poll 10 years ago.
And who would have guessed 10 years ago that we would have an African-American president? Change seems to have accelerated faster in the past decade than it did in the previous decade. Perhaps it is our quickly changing demographic makeup that is driving our attitudes.
Whatever it is, one cannot discount the rapidity of change. So perhaps in another decade, or sooner, when we least expect it, gun control may take an unexpected turn. After all, the only thing inevitable about life is change.
George Chase, St. Pete Beach
Even though Daniel Ruth's column covers the truth about how our Congress is bought and paid for by the NRA in all aspects of gun control, it also is a good example of how all government agencies are being run. Not for the people, but by lobbyists, with our elected officials reaping the harvest.
Mary Jane Callihan, St. Petersburg
Obama to force carbon cuts | June 1
It seems America has been rendered powerless by a slew of regulations that have stymied growth. Our infrastructure is in a sorry state — an ignored area for realistic job production. Instead, the president has plans for the demise of hundreds of existing coal-fired power plants while preventing new plants from coming on line.
He will force this scenario by introducing still more regulations, which he argues are for the benefit of a planet undergoing climate change. Forget about the thousands of jobs lost and the impact on our already-hurting economy. His use of executive order is a slap in the face to our Congress. We deserve better.
Orfeo Trombetta, Seminole