We read with interest recent attacks by President Bush and his surrogates on Bill Clinton for his visit to Moscow while a student abroad. Apparently, we are to understand that Bill Clinton's trip as a tourist to Moscow somehow reflects unfavorably upon his character and fitness to serve as the president of these United States. Rep. Robert Dornan now wishes
us to infer that Clinton's trip somehow transformed him into a Communist sympathizer.
Let us test Dornan's peculiar "logic" with another example. We know that George Bush himself spent two years in Communist China as chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in Peking. After he returned to the United States and ascended to high office, President Bush spent the great bulk of his political capital coddling and otherwise supporting the financial and political interests of that totalitarian Communist nation's government, even after the debacle of Tiananmen Square. Far from condemning those acts, George Bush vetoed Congress' efforts to punish China and pushed hard to assure that China continued to enjoy its Most Favored Nation status.
Are Bush's acts benefiting a Communist nation after his stay in China further proof that Dornan's "October Surmise" theories are accurate? Of course not. Bill Clinton's trip to Moscow as a tourist made him no more or less "red" than did Bush's trip to China. Dornan's claim was ludicrous in the first instance. Moreover, such demagoguery has no place in so important a campaign and trivializes the important decisions America now faces. George Bush should be ashamed to associate himself with such nonsense.
Andrew C. and Sheila M. Greenberg, Tampa
What is it with George Bush that he and all the other "good old boy" Republicans keep hitting on Bill Clinton because he found a way to keep from serving in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War? I'll guarantee you that millions of Republicans found ways to keep themselves _ or their sons _ out of the military during that period of time, doing whatever it took to do so. Personally, as a Vietnam vet, I wish that I had been smart enough, or quick enough, or whatever, to go to Canada, or to jail for that matter, to avoid being involved in the slaughter of millions of Vietnamese people for _ what?
I saw a bumper sticker the other day that sums up how I feel about Bill Clinton. It said, "A vote for Clinton assures us we won't go to war for four years." With the memories that have haunted me since my participation in that god-awful war I will gladly vote for a man that would do anything to avoid going to war. I am one man who is sick and tired of male violence _ especially military violence _ dominating the daily news during the entirety of my life on this planet. I'm also very tired of women who support men's violence as "a necessary evil" that they have to live with, or that they accept as necessary for their own survival. And I'm way beyond ready for humanity to start dealing maturely with the harsh reality of our economic, environmental and social difficulties.
It is time we settled down to live in a true community of human beings _ accepting, embracing and celebrating our diversity while nurturing life consciously instead of destroying it unconsciously. Avoiding war is the mark of a modern man who has unchained himself from the myths and programing of the old men of the past. Cooperation and non-violent conflict resolution takes far more time and patience _ and skill _ than the violence of a quick kill, but it is far easier on us all and it doesn't leave a mess to clean up afterwards. A goal most men seem to have no conscious awareness of, or interest in, achieving.
Truth be known, I'd really prefer a real woman for president of the United States, and in every seat in Congress, as well as in all leadership positions, at all levels of society, in the world. The world is in such a mess today as a result of male decision-making and behavior that they certainly couldn't screw things up any worse, and I believe women could be our salvation. They are, after all, the only source of human life on this planet, which is a pretty amazing _ and powerful _ position to be in, if you have control of your life and your body. (Thus the abortion "debate" and other social travesties, which is the subject for another letter.)
Jim Welch, St. Petersburg
George Bush's insinuation on the Oct. 7 Larry King Live that anyone who demonstrated against the Vietnam War "on foreign soil" committed a questionable, possibly treasonous act "against this country" was as flawed as his presidency.
If you think about it, his distinction between foreign and domestic protests made little sense. Perhaps, like me, you wonder if he knows the difference between denouncing the United States and protesting a policy most Americans now regard as mistaken if not reprehensible. There's a vast disparity between disloyalty and speaking out against the actions of a particular administration which may or may not be in the country's best interest. And it's in the lap of that disparity that a number of our constitutional freedoms rest.
Bush's implication, of course, was that Bill Clinton led the kind of anti-war demonstrations he was talking about. I don't know if that's true and, frankly, I doubt it. If it is, it merely proves he was willing to act on principle, a commodity that's been in short supply in Washington.
Bush's remarks showed him to be a master of innuendo but said very little that was flattering about the quality of his statesmanship. Too bad he chose to spend some of the time allotted him attempting to pick the scabs from America's wounds over Vietnam instead of discussing ways of revitalizing the economy, reducing the deficit and instituting health-care reform, because these are the issues that matter in this election.
Verna Matson, Tarpon Springs
Time marches on
Here is another viewpoint about the spotted owl controversy, but you may not wish to print this letter because it does not conform to your mind-set.
There is a scientist who owns a big tract of land in the Pacific Northwest. He has studied the spotted owl for a number of years. He claims that there are more spotted owls per square mile where the big trees have been cut down than where they are still standing. He thinks this is so because the sunlight can reach the ground where the trees have been cut. Therefore, the small animals on which the owl feeds are more numerous.
Aeronautical engineers can prove that a bumblebee can't fly. The size and shape of its body in relationship to its wings prove that it can't fly. But bees don't know this, so they fly anyway. Maybe the owls don't know that they should curl up their toes and die when somebody cuts down some trees.
We all know that dinosaurs once lived but now are extinct. We can only guess at how many other species of animals have become extinct over the ages.
Environmentalists want to have it both ways. They want human beings to guarantee that every species now living will live forever. On the other hand, they want us to believe in evolution, which tells us that those animals that do not adapt will not survive.
If they think that human beings can make time stand still, they are making a big mistake.
Benjamin Liptak, Spring Hill
Help in a time of need
Hurricane Andrew brought tremendous devastation to the South Florida area served by Baptist Hospital of Miami, and to so many of our nurses, doctors and employees who lost everything they owned. But Andrew brought something else, too: immediate support from other hospitals and health-care volunteers (some of whom we don't even know) during our time of need.
When we think back to those first days following the storm, we are still overwhelmed by the amount of help we received from Tampa Bay area hospitals including Tampa General Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital, Bayfront Medical Center and Mease Hospital.
When we needed medicines and other supplies, we got them. Above all, when we desperately needed nurses, doctors and other health-care professionals, they came.
These wonderful people walked into a hospital that had suddenly become a giant MASH unit _ only to find that their exhausted peers needed as much emotional support as the patients from our community. Their professionalism and humanitarianism, wherever they were needed, will never be forgotten.
We could not have made it through this catastrophe without their help. We especially appreciate the contributions to the Baptist Hospital Sunshine Fund, which will be used exclusively to assist those employees who have lost their homes and suffered devastating financial losses.
On behalf of our board of trustees, medical staff, employees and our community _ thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
S. Congratulations on being named one of the 100 best companies in the United States by Working Mother magazine!
Brian E. Keeley, President,
Baptist Hospital of Miami
A "higher, nobler duty'?
Re: Congress overrides veto of cable bill, Oct. 6, specifically comments attributed to Sen. Dole: "This is an attempt to embarrass the president 30 days before the election. That's what this is all about" and "Sustain the president's veto _ he hadn't asked for much," Dole implored.
Sen. Dole's comments beg the question: Is it a higher and nobler duty of a congressman to vote either pro or con on this or any other bill's override based on whether the congressman deems his vote to be in the best interests of the American people, or should prevention of "embarrassment to the president" be the higher and nobler duty?
Nathan V. Holt, Tampa
Re: It's puzzling, letter to the editor, Oct. 11.
This letter is a perfect example of the school-bashing that people with little direct knowledge of what is happening in our schools seem to delight in engaging.
School was open on Monday, Columbus Day, and I'm sure that most teachers at the elementary level, and those at the secondary level where it is relevant to the curriculum, discussed Columbus (and the present controversy) on Columbus Day. In fact, since Oct. 1, our first-grade class has been exploring the many aspects of our world that Columbus' voyages impacted.
On Friday we will be working. Just because children are not present, do not infer that teachers aren't working. Many of my colleagues will be attending state conferences. Unlike most people in business who attend conferences, the majority of teachers will pay their own transportation and housing expenses and conference fees. Many also will give up their own time on Saturday to attend, to learn new techniques to improve the education of our youth. Others will meet with parents or work in classrooms planning for our classes. (Excellence in teaching requires a great deal of preparation!)
Many people, particularly those employed by the federal government and banks, were off on Monday. Many more people who are employed in the private sector _ retail sales, factories, hotel/service industries, physicians, etc., _ were working on Columbus Day, just like the teachers and students of Pinellas County.
The next time you are not working but schools are open, why not take the opportunity to visit your child's (or grandchild's or neighborhood) school or, better yet, volunteer? Even if it's only for one day, I'm sure the school would appreciate your involvement.
Janelle R. Jenkins, St. Petersburg
In the everyday rush of daily life, we often overlook outstanding efforts made by people employed in our city.
I've never met him, but I respect him greatly. He's never stopped trying.
Thank you, Rick Dodge!
Gerald S. Bentley, St. Petersburg