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Ashcroft showed contempt for the legal process

Published Jan. 18, 2001|Updated Sep. 7, 2005

During the past controversy concerning the confirmation of Linda Chavez, many "political pundits" said that what separates John Ashcroft from Linda Chavez was that Chavez actually broke the law. They maintained that despite being more conservative than Patrick Buchanan and believing that only his religious ilk will have a pleasant afterlife, George W. Bush is entitled to his own choices in his Cabinet unless there is wrongdoing. In the case of Ashcroft, there is wrongdoing.

During his last year in the U.S. Senate, Ashcroft torpedoed the nomination of a distinguished state Supreme Court justice, Ronnie White. This alone is not a crime or wrong. Partisan politics has been the rule in Washington. Ashcroft's crime comes in the reasoning and manner of this attack.

Ashcroft spent the better part of a year attacking and destroying the name, reputation and standing of a man who, by the nature of his position, could not answer the charges. He did so not for some lofty reason but only for his own political gain in a heated election not involving Ronnie White. In these attacks, Ashcroft, who is under consideration to be the nation's top law enforcement official, demonstrated total contempt for the legal process. In Justice White's case, Ashcroft attacked a single dissenting opinion. Ashcroft attempted to paint the justice as "pro-criminal" simply because he questioned the process used to send a defendant to the electric chair.

A justice is neither "pro-" nor "anti-" criminal but a guardian of the process. When the state sends a person to his death, the process must be above reproach. Ashcroft also added the "race card" to this tempest, attacking the only black justice on the Missouri bench.

Ashcroft has demonstrated that he believes the results are more important than the process, that he has disdain for the legal process and supports the politics of destruction even when it involves an innocent third party so long as it advances his political agenda. We cannot have an attorney general who does not respect the system.

I hope that both our U.S. senators will not support the nomination of John Ashcroft to be attorney general. Remember _ if we ignore our rights, they will go away.

David Schauer, St. Petersburg

A balanced view of a man of faith

Re: His faith guides; his duty demands, Jan 16.

Congratulations to Mary Jacoby for a sensitive and perhaps the most understanding and fairly balanced story on John Ashcroft that I have read. Her article portrayed the Assemblies of God church and the faith of its members realistically. She demonstrated how beliefs can guide one's own life yet leave a person open toward others, how one may render unto Caesar those things that belong in that category while rendering unto the Lord what is his due.

Ashcroft is a proven public servant with the training and experience which, when combined with an admirable lifestyle demonstrating good moral judgment and integrity, uniquely qualify him to be the nation's chief law enforcement officer.

Adon Taft, Brooksville

A nation going astray

I am amazed at the moral and political attitude that exists in America today. Perhaps it is most marked in the hearings on John Ashcroft's nomination to be attorney general. As I see it, Ashcroft is a decent, honest and moral man. His years of service show a record of very high values in political conduct. The only thing, it seems, that may be askew with this man is the fact that he believes in Jesus Christ. i.e. he is a Christian. Here is the crux of the resistance that is mounted toward him. Apparently it is perceived that his high moral values and Christian beliefs may be in opposition to current political doctrines in America.

Where does that put us as a country? Are we now on a road that denies the Bible and Judeo-Christian ethics? Do we now embrace ideas and values that are opposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ?

The question now clearly stands before us: If God is real and we are in opposition to him, then what is going to happen to us as a nation?

David Gaston, Largo

Ashcroft's opponents look intolerant

Doesn't Article VI of the U.S. Constitution read that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States"? Why then should any member of the Senate, who is sworn to uphold the Constitution, have a problem with John Ashcroft's Christian faith as in any way disqualifying him for the job of attorney general?

Joe Lieberman's Jewish faith was widely considered a positive qualification for the office he sought, while proclaiming Al Gore a servant of Almighty God.

John F. Kennedy's Roman Catholic faith was politically used by his supporters to charge his opponents with intolerance and bigotry.

Doesn't the charge of intolerance and bigotry now belong to those who oppose John Ashcroft's confirmation?

John V. Koontz, St. Petersburg

Get on with running the country

Along with millions of other Americans, I feel it is finally time to put an end to partisan squabbling and get on with the business of government. No egregious fault seems to have surfaced about any of George W. Bush's current nominees that would render them incompetent or unfit to hold the office for which the president-elect has nominated them.

If the Democrats are truly committed to serving the people, the people would best be served by confirming Bush's nominees without delay so we can get on with running the country.

Ana Gomez-Mallada, Lighthouse Point

Bush's mixed message

One thing you can say about George W. Bush: He is not WYSIWYG. WYSIWYG (pronounced whizzywig) is a computer term that stands for "What You See Is What You Get." This term is used by computer programers to describe programs that are written in straight-forward fashion, so that what you see in the program code is what you get on the screen _ in contrast to more arcane programs where there is not so direct a connection between what you see on the screen and what the program code reads.

George W. Bush ran as a moderate on a middle-of-the-road platform not offensive to any group. He held himself up as a uniter not a divider. Yet he could hardly have put forth more divisive Cabinet appointments than John Ashcroft, Gale Norton, Tommy Thompson and Linda Chavez.

Whizzywig George W. Bush is not. What we get from him is not at all what we saw during the campaign. He gives new meaning to the political dictum: Run in the middle, then govern from the right.

Edward H. Stein, Tampa

Look beyond the party line

Do political party loyalists really believe the nonsense they write in the letters to the editor, which I read every day?

The concept of this Republican or that Democrat somehow being the messiah (or the devil), is just ridiculous. Both parties are so far in the pockets of special interests, why they even bother attempting to appease the public is dumbfounding. They have so many debts to repay by the time they gain power, they can't even begin to hear (or care) what the voters say. The voters see one image during the campaign, then the wolf in sheep's clothing emerges. I am not just speaking of the here and now.

We as a society will continue down this path until there is no turning back. People must use their own minds to decide their beliefs and quit following party guidelines. I will continue "wasting" my vote on the long shots (the independents, the Reforms, the Greens) until enough of us do so, collectively, that we are heard!

Jason LaCroix, St. Petersburg

Defense spending deserves a cut

Retired Navy Adm. Jack Shanahan's column Pentagon's books are in a shambles, should be proof enough that calling for a reduction in defense spending is the patriotic thing to do. We are military-poor. We spend enormous amounts, throwing money at the Pentagon like there's no tomorrow. All the while, our "conservative" Republican friends are decrying big government as a a "liberal" malady. The Democrats are no better; they are less demonstrative about it.

When I think about all the money the government spent training me for military duty, and the pennies I got (on coming home from a war) for my personal advancement in civilian life, I am assuredly frustrated, not only for myself, but also for my country, my fellow veterans and the greater society.

Now we are faced with an incoming barrage of big spenders once again under the cover of "defense." The nominee for secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfield, will be a big-spending operative for the military-industrial complex and will be a prime mover for a new Star Wars system and an even greater military build-up.

As a congressman from Illinois, he voted against food stamps, Medicare and anti-poverty programs. He supports massive increases in an already bloated military budget.

What are we so afraid of? Losing our complete geopolitical domination of the world? Losing some money for pork spending and profiteering?

Adm. Shanahan and the Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, as well as the retired admirals and generals of the Center for Defense Information are advocating defense cuts.

We need a balanced set of priorities. President-elect Bush said that in his acceptance speech. We should help him to practice what he preaches and oppose Donald Rumsfield for secretary of Defense. He would make a better secretary of spending.

James Willingham, St. Petersburg

Honesty wins no votes

Re: Adlai the Clueless, Jan. 12.

I believe your story on Adlai Stevenson was unfair. Now of course, my mother, who is 84, remembers him fondly and voted for him. However, his brand of truthfulness would not go over well in this day and age when the American people want sugar-coated lies and empty promises. Stevenson was at least honest, to a fault, I guess.

Who can forget his immortal words: "Nature is neutral. Man has wrested from nature the power to make the world a desert or to make the deserts bloom." Or this quote: "Let's talk sense to the American people. Let's tell them the truth, that there are no gains without pains."

Yes, honesty did not get him elected in 1952, nor would it in 2004.

Mary Anne Schmidt, Palm Harbor

A vicious diatribe

Re: Adlai the Clueless.

I hope this is one of the many letters you receive reproaching you for publishing that article about Adlai Stevenson. What was the purpose of such a vicious diatribe about a dead man?

The writer even used his poison pen to ridicule his own father. Is that the kind of news that sells?

J.D. Hammond, Hudson

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