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Kudos for President Clinton

A recent letter writer implied that college student Bill Clinton actually sent troops to Vietnam to do his

fighting for him. How ridiculous! So Bill Clinton did not serve in Vietnam. So what? Get over it! Nobody cares!

Hundreds of thousands of other college students during that period in our history also did not serve in Vietnam. Many of us who did serve or had loved ones who "survived" Vietnam are immensely grateful to Bill Clinton and all those students who had the guts to stand up and say "Stop this war, now"; some of us even died (remember Kent State?).

Bill Clinton is no coward. To the contrary, he has the kind of courage to take on the complicated, tough issues; the courage to do what's right rather then what is easy or politically safe; the courage to take on the entrenched, "get-rich-on-the-blood, sweat-and-tears-of-average-Americans" powers that be _ for the American people.

Bill Clinton is the ideal leader for America because he possesses an inner strength for moral and social leadership like Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and the intestinal fortitude of Gen. George Patton to use force when necessary and the wisdom to know the difference.

S. C. Castellano, Brandon

Recently there was a letter to the editor criticizing and condemning Mr. Clinton for avoiding service in the armed forces during the Vietnam War. Let us be sensible. There were thousands of men who evaded service in that war. Nobody bothers them about it _ only if they wish to become president of the United States.

Thousands of Vietnam veterans when drafted cursed the draft and anybody connected with that war: a very unpopular affair, to say the least. Why do so many politicians and other people persist in calling Mr. Clinton names for having evaded that idiotic, inhuman, unnecessary war? Come on, let us be human.

No, I did not vote for Mr. Clinton, but I respect him for being our president. Yes, I was in World War II.

Eduardo A. Acosta, Seminole

As a Republican, I give President Clinton oceans of credit for the way he succeeded in bringing about democracy in Haiti.

It may yet prove to be premature to assume Aristide is up to the task of achieving his goal, but what our president has accomplished is more than can be expected under the circumstances.

Furthermore, our president has, at the same time, stood up to Saddam Hussein and prevented an invasion of Kuwait.

I firmly believe Clinton will score another victory and prevail in refusing to lift the United Nations' sanctions against Iraq.

In closing, someone has to explain to me why President Bush failed to eliminate one Saddam Hussein when he had the chance in 1991.

Frank W. Arrigo, Clearwater

Another view

Re: Give Clinton credit, Oct. 15.

The writer of the above-referenced letter asks voters to give President Clinton credit for allowing the introduction of the abortion drug RU486 into the United States. In other words, we should honor a man who has paved the way for the killing of unborn babies in "a private, dignified office visit." How low have we as a people fallen if we feel that murder is somehow okay if it is done quietly and out of sight?

The writer also references the "hideous placards" that pro-life demonstrators display outside abortion clinics. I agree that they are "hideous." Many of those "placards" are photographs of aborted children. What could be more hideous than the sight of a maimed, dead child? If the picture of an aborted child cannot convince someone that an abortion is hideous then I don't know what can.

Gregory Giordano, New Port Richey

A modest increase

A word about the modest Social Security increase.

A few years ago an increase was announced. The next day several utilities increased their rates. The next year (last year) they postponed the increase three months. Now we have a very modest increase. Maybe the president of this country should take time out from campaigning for friends and relatives, go to a grocery store and see how high prices are. Then on the way home stop and buy gas. Medicare is also way up _ so high it will wipe out any increase.

Why take it out on us elderly? We are the people who defeated Hitler and his Tokyo pal. We gave you a beautiful world. Why take things out on us?

J. Gordon Rosser, Hudson

The "most important concern'

Re: Casinos in Florida.

The many pro and con letters which appeared in the Times recently did not touch on the most important concern for the people of Florida. That is our already severe water shortage. Those 47 casinos _ and the hotels and motels which will spring up around them _ will use trillions of gallons of our precious water. The casinos and hotels will not be rationed. So guess who will be left high and dry!

Please vote against the casino proposition, as well as the legislators who are pushing it _ for Florida's sake.

Joy Whitlock, Largo

Just what is wrong with Democratic and Republican candidates who are aspiring to be elected to various offices on Nov. 8? I have spoken to many candidates and asked them to go on record _ opposing the casinos that supporters are trying to foist on the people of Florida. They ignored my pleas or gave feeble excuses.

Are our politicians waiting for the nefarious casino fraternity to enrich their coffers with contributions for their election campaigns? And I heard nary a word from our television stations speaking out editorially against attempts to open casinos in various cities in Florida. I note, however, that TV stations are being inundated with confusing commercials for casino gambling.

I don't want to see crime take hold in our Florida cities as is happening in Atlantic City with its attendant slums.

Only the St. Petersburg Times has the guts to speak out editorially against casinos. Bravo!

Lew Breyer, St. Petersburg

Before retiring and moving to Florida in 1985 I lived in New Jersey for 36 years, and I can tell you first hand that casinos are not for Florida.

In 1978 the first casino opened on the boardwalk in Atlantic City amid glowing promises of lots of jobs, lowering taxes and generally putting Atlantic City on the map, as they claimed. I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth.

Yes, the boardwalk with its many casinos is beautiful and glamorous, but go back into the real Atlantic City and you find crime, prostitution and overall deterioration of the city. I visited the city last summer and was appalled at what I saw.

The promoters of casinos for Florida would have you believe that casinos are the answer to our problems. They are not. Don't be fooled, folks, by the high-powered commercials on TV and the print media. Ask any resident of the real Atlantic City. They have been waiting for 16 years.

Larry Lutz, Oldsmar

Money for terror

Congratulations to the St. Petersburg Times for yet another discerning editorial regarding the Middle East (Hope amid the terror, Oct. 18). The editorial touched upon the problems caused by Hamas extremists. Fundamentalist terrorists have caused fear throughout the world, including here in the United States.

An Oct. 3 CBS Evening News broadcast, with Anthony Mason reporting, observed that "Hamas continues to be opposed to any Middle East peace agreement, with help from some in the United States." Mason pointed out that millions of dollars flow from U.S.-based Palestinian gangs to Hamas. Some of this money may come from drug profits and insurance scams run by these gangs.

While Arab Americans, like American Jews, have a right to contribute money for charity and to the needy in the Middle East, money for terror to Hamas is another thing. According to Steve Emerson, a terrorist expert, 70 to 80 percent of the funds ultimately going to Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza come from the United States.

If, indeed, the fruits of peace are to be enjoyed in the Middle East, the pipeline of funds from the likes of the Holy Land Foundation and the Islamic Association for Palestine, both based in Richardson, Tex., must be shut off.

Norman N. Gross, Ph.D., president, Promoting

Responsibility in Middle East Reporting,

Palm Harbor

Is there a problem?

Re: Group alleges tap water danger, Oct. 19.

Tap water danger _ wake-up call or cry wolf?

The ubiquitous news media coverage of the hazardous chemicals in drinking water study the last few days would have us believe there is a serious national problem, "one of a series of wake-up calls."

Thanks to the Oct. 19 Times article, the facts emerge. The group making the claim:

Made its own determination of what constitutes "safe."

Used the most conservative bench marks of cancer risk.

Admitted the study was in the nation's heavy agricultural areas, not nationwide.

Released the study without giving outside scientists an opportunity to evaluate methods used in the study.

The EPA tried unsuccessfully this year to overhaul the Safe Drinking Water Act. One has to ask: "Is there in fact a serious, national drinking water problem or is this just another attempt to use an uncritiqued study to elicit favorable public opinion and, in turn, government support for their agenda?"

John E. Russell, Clearwater

Privacy violated

This is regarding the letter about the two charitable organizations who sued to change the county solicitation ordinance to extend their "rights" to solicit funds from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. by phone. The letter writer's assertion that her phone is solely for her benefit and is akin to a door into her home is shared by thousands of others. I also support her contention that "all solicitation by telephone should be prohibited so as to not disrupt household routine at inconvenient times."

My dictionary defines a nuisance as: "something offensive or annoying to individuals or the community, to the prejudice of their legal rights." Phone solicitors have evolved from an annoyance to an outright nuisance as exemplified by their ever-increasing interruptions during meals. I believe the county phone solicitation ordinance abridges my "rights" instead of protecting them. It permits a nuisance to flourish and in so doing, coincidentally enables solicitors to infringe upon my "right to privacy." If my pockets were deep enough, I would contest the validity of this ordinance in our courts.

Earl Keel Jr., Largo

Teachers' benefits

Regarding the letter saying teachers are overlooked, I would like to remind them that they overlook the benefits they also reap.

For sure they have the weekends off; for sure they have one week off for Thanksgiving, two weeks off for Christmas, one week off for Easter and three months off during the summer.

I do not want to be a teacher but I have to work most holidays and I am lucky to have two weeks' vacation, and also work every weekend. I also have to work overtime if I'm asked. I also would like to have their pension plan _ I don't have one.

Isabel Pletcher, Tarpon Springs

Does "hysteria' prevail?

Your current anti-Republican, anti-Jeb Bush, even anti-Reagan hysteria as evidenced by the Phil Gailey Oct. 9 column, A GOP sweep could add up to a disaster; your Oct. 13 Crime: fear vs. facts editorial; your anti-Bush tirades on the same day by Ellen Debenport (front page, no less) and Bill Moss are making a farce out of any pretense that you have a responsible newspaper. This, coupled with your vicious political cartoons, makes a mockery of fairness in reporting. Have any of your reporters or editorial writers read your own slogan: "The policy of this paper is very simple _ merely to tell the truth"? There is no longer even a pretense of separation between your news accounts and editorials _ I'm sure the difference must have been touched on in your Poynter Institute.

Jack H. Wolff, South Pasadena

Cancellation, not crackdown

Re: Crackdown on aid for addicts to be costly, Oct. 14.

So now it is estimated that cracking down on addicts and alcoholics drawing checks under the SSI program might cost taxpayers three times more than Congress estimated! So now maybe it is not worth going after them. Well, tell me this: How much does it cost to issue the order _ Stop it!?

Hard-working, responsible people are asked to pay a sizable amount in Social Security tax dollars, and some of these dollars are the basis of monthly checks going to alcoholics and drug addicts. These same hard-working, responsible people are continually reminded that when they reach retirement age, there might not be enough Social Security dollars to reach around. This might very well be true because too much money is being siphoned off by programs such as this.

This is a program that does not belong in Social Security. It does not need to be cracked down upon. It needs to be stopped!

Esther M. Ayers, New Port Richey

Delay it, debate it

As a concerned parent and citizen attempting to critically assess the proposed busing changes, I fully understand and concur with only one recommendation: Delay it and debate it further.

Several recently printed quotes and letters from those with titles, but more importantly, the views expressed by the local citizenry certainly provide strong basis for continued honest debate. If ever there was a time for full inclusion and critical thinking to emerge from the firestorm, this is it.

Clearly, there is far more to this matter than transportation for racial integration. The real issue, for those who wish to cast off the blinders, is about the proper development and education of our children. All of them. As citizens, parents and guardians (we are all guardians), we should not request but demand from our proclaimed leaders a full and honest disclosure of the truth. Those with bully pulpits have a responsibility with no compromise to deal with this issue with open minds and truth as their source. When quotables rely on using rhetoric without foundation to heighten our already-frayed emotions, no one wins. Race does not automatically equate to racism. Some questions to ponder.

What resulting developmental or educational benefit can our children derive from attending neighborhood schools if the neighborhood is defined by its crack houses and drive-by shootings? All the yellow-and-black gas guzzlers in the northern hemisphere couldn't make even a dent. The issue is as huge as the feelings are diverse, and genuine.

Greg Dunning, School Advisory Council co-chair at Sandy Lane in Clearwater: "The way it was presented to us was that we were decreasing busing _ everybody's for that _ and kids were going to schools in their own neighborhood. How can you heckle that?" I heckle not if only Bishop John Copeland, president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance: "If I were superintendent of schools and these many blacks were not keeping up, I'd have to question myself: Who is teaching these kids?I think what Dr. Hinesley and the School Board itself need to focus on is educating the children once they get off the bus." While there should be no argument with teacher accountability, it is a virtual impossibility to teach children who are malnourished, neglected and abused. This responsibility begins with all parents and guardians. It cannot be delegated.

Barbara Czipri of the School Advisory Council of Kings Highway in Clearwater, responding to the characterization of North Pinellas as white and racist, and rejoicing over the possibility of whiter schools: "That sells us short. I don't want my kids to go to an all-white school. I would never choose that. I want them to go to a rainbow school." How will implementation of the recommendation truly contribute to racial integration of the Pinellas County schools?

It's not about the bus. It's about equal educational opportunity for all our children. It's about their future. Our future. There is widespread mistrust of the current School Board. I've taken the time to view most of the televised meetings and have reviewed their decisions over the last few years. I think such blanket mistrust is unwarranted. While we should certainly learn from the past, we cannot go on living in it.

A seemingly unrelated philosophical discussion has been reported in the press recently questioning the benefits of teacher-assigned homework. While remaining open to opposing views, I believe in continuing the practice if not increasing it. I don't have all the answers. I don't think any one individual or group does. We've all got some homework to do. And no one gets extra credit.

Kenneth Talbot, Seminole

Back to basics

Re: Letter to the editor, Oct. 7, titled Contemporary conservatism.

I must again object to a much-repeated error which, because of repetition, seems to die a lingering death.

The letter reads: "the GOP plan would also eliminate taxes on capital gains, dividends and interest on savings. These happen to be the major source of income for the Gucci set," (italics mine).

Anyone with capital who spends their capital gains as income does what is known as "dipping into capital," a major misdeed. Those who engage in this practice soon lose the purchasing power of their capital. Capital gains may have partially replenished this purchasing power after the ravages of inflation.

Perhaps the letter writer has been misled by the U.S. government practice of including income tax (a tax on income) and capital gains tax (a confiscation of capital) on the same tax return. If so, a perusal of a basic economic text in the nearest library should disabuse him.

John Alden Keyser, Dunedin

Will baby-sitting continue?

Now that we have "baby-sat" Aristide for three years and carried him home in a million-dollar carriage, will we now spoon-feed him, wipe his face and protect him from all harm? For how long? Say what?

M. H. Collins, Madeira Beach

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Letters must include the name, address and telephone number of the writer.

Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length. We regret that not all letters can be printed.

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