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Partisanship is threatening our government

Re: Stop bitter partisanship in Washington,

March 20.

Congratulations to David Broder for having the courage to tell it like it is and to the Times for printing such an excellent column.

There is, as Broder points out, a bitter partisanship brewing in Washington while all the time the combatants are pounding their chests about their virtue and support for the war effort. Unfortunately there is something really smelly about the Democrats' refusal to allow the full Senate to vote on the nomination of Judge Charles Pickering to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It shows that the special interest groups hiding behind the cover of the Democratic majority on the Judiciary Committee will once again get their race and gay-rights issues protected despite the illegality of the entire process.

I have read the Constitution, the Bill Of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence and nowhere can I find reference to a special judiciary committee mentioned by our founding fathers. Just when did this appointed group come into existance, and why do we allow such a travesty to continue?

You would think, as Broder points out, that Majority Leader Tom Daschle would tread lightly on the rights of the president to appoint judges as is his constitutional privilege, but instead he is using his one-vote majority in the Senate and on the Judiciary Committee to thwart most, if not all of President Bush's appointees.

Even those people who support such foul play must surely understand that thanks to jumping Jim Jeffords we have a divided government that plays to the minorities and strengthens the resolve of our enemies in the war on terrorism.

For the good of the United States and for the preservation of our republic let's all write to our members of Congress to stand up for truth, honor, justice and the American Way before partisanship has wrecked our constitutional form of government.

Sam Lasley, Clearwater

Panel was right to oppose judge

I think that the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee did the right thing when they killed the nomination of U.S. Judge Charles Pickering. They saw in him a man who was pretty far right wing, and by killing this nomination, they are pressing President Bush, who lost the popular vote in the 2000 elections, to put moderate judges, and not far right wingers who inject their own personal opinions into rulings, onto the bench.

Bush and the Republicans keep on talking about a "crisis" in regard to the lack of federal judges. It should be noted that when President Clinton nominated someone, oftentimes the Republicans, once again bowing to the demands of the radical right wing, didn't even let many of those nominations come up for vote in the Judiciary Committee. At least committee Chairman Patrick Leahy is doing that!

The crisis cannot be blamed solely on the Democrats, but on the far right wingers like Trent Lott and Jesse Helms, among others. The Democrats, in their vote to deny Pickering the promotion, voted their conscience. They make me proud to be a Democrat!

Dave Cutler, Tampa

Senators are behaving immaturely

The recent rejection by the Senate Judiciary Committee of Judge Charles Pickering has a certain resemblance to a college fraternity black-balling. How can full grown men on the public payroll continue to act so immaturely?

I think it would be doing a public service for the media to publish the names of the dissenting voters in this debacle. For instance, were Florida's senators involved? Or was it the same old holier-than-thou clan including Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

Certainly since Sept. 11 someone in the Democratic Party must realize that the people are no longer into "politics as usual." I wish we could fast-forward to the fall elections. The results of that voting, I'm afraid, are going to rock the Democratic Party's boat for a long, long time to come.

Guy Nash, St. Petersburg

Take politics out of nominations, too

Re: Senators attack judicial independence, by Nat Hentoff, March 14.

In an ideal world, of course Nat Hentoff would be correct that the judiciary should be independent. In the real world, we have politics.

Hentoff's concern seems to be limited only to senatorial review. He ignores how judicial nominees are selected in the real world. As everyone knows, they are selected not only for their judicial expertise but also for their judicial philosophy. Lately, their philosophy seems more important than their expertise.

In fairness, to take politics out of senatorial review requires a similar step in the nomination process.

Thomas D. Conley, Belleair

Let's unite in war on terrorism

In these extraordinary times of war, we all should unite together in support of our commander in chief and our loyal military leaders.

It is obvious that we are in the early chapters of war; we need to recognize that it will take our president and our military several years to complete the mission to eradicate global terrorism. It is a chilling fact that North Korea, Iran and Iraq have advanced biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction. These nations pose a real and dangerous threat to our country. We can no longer take a complacent attitude against these totalitarian nations whose primary objective is to threaten our liberties.

I feel compelled to remind the critics of the war against terrorism that they send a negative message to our fighting troops. It is easy to sit back in the comfort of our homes and casually dismiss our military troops. They need our total support. They are performing their duties with unwavering determination and pride to uphold our freedom. They are not fighting for a political cause; they are courageously defending all Americans.

I would have to assume that most of the critics have never experienced facing the enemy or losing a loved one during a war or, more recently, in a terrorist attack. Their shallow criticism should pale in comparison to our united front in supporting the war on terrorism. We need now, more than ever, to take a stand against those who threaten our freedom.

So tonight, while you are sitting in your recliner casually clicking the remote, remind yourself that there are American men and women far away from the comforts of their home and the support of their loved ones who volunteered to defend your freedom. Your respect and the support of their missions should be easily given.

Joan Atkins, Palm Harbor

Reject use of any nuclear weapons

Re: This is no time to think nuclear big, March 14.

I agree with Ellen Goodman. It is time to say no to any kind of nuclear weapon, big or small. Even though the current mood seems to stifle dissent as being unpatriotic, we must denounce the current nuclear posture. The threat of using these weapons invites a worse kind of terror than any we've experienced.

"Mini-nukes, bunker-nukes, nukes-to-use" give the impression of being a different kind of weapon from any used in an all-out war. But that is misleading. Despite the administration's claim that this is a mere "contingency" plan, we need to consider the ramifications. Our using them will give other nations permission to use theirs and ultimately escalate the conflict.

Have we forgotten the devastation that would occur in a nuclear war: the immediate destruction of large numbers of people and ultimate desolation of the environment? Have we forgotten the danger of reacting to inevitable false warnings in an automated missile defense system, the misfiring of a nuclear weapon? Have we forgotten the heat intensities of nuclear explosions, the radioactive dust? Have we forgotten their explosive force _ thousands of times greater than the bombs used in World War II?

In his farewell speech, former President Dwight Eisenhower coined the term "military-industrial complex" as something to be feared. Goodman has used a new term, equally disturbing, "military-executive complex." This new network can be just as dangerous and should not have the power to launch nuclear weapons.

Goodman claims that "war is now the cover story for a new nuclear scenario with a doomsday terror all its own." That's frightening. It's time for patriotic Americans who love this country and our planet to say no to the use of any kind of nuclear weapons!

Jean Lersch, St. Petersburg

Providing safe places for children

Feeling safe is a basic need we all share, especially in these turbulent times. The role of Family Resources is to provide a safe place for some of our most vulnerable citizens _ children who are on the streets as runaways or throwaways.

Family Resources' Safe Place program is a partnership with area businesses and governmental entities that agree to act as a safety net for children on the streets. Any child feeling threatened when away from home, or children on the streets as runaways or throwaways, can turn to a Safe Place location for help. The employees there are trained to contact our organization immediately. The child can then be transported to our St. Petersburg or Clearwater Runaway/Youth Crisis Shelters where we work to reunite the child and family. Through the Safe Place partnerships in the community, Family Resources can reach these vulnerable children before they are victimized on our streets.

The Safe Place program originated in Louisville, Ky., in 1984 and has been adopted by 143 runaway programs in 39 states across the nation. Family Resources has more than 150 Safe Place sites throughout Pinellas County.

Congress has declared March 18-24 as National Safe Place Week, celebrating this successful partnership between the business community and runaway programs in reaching at-risk children on our streets. We salute our Safe Place partners that have reached so many of these children and helped us reunite them with their families.

Jane L. Harper, president/CEO, Family Resources, Inc.,

St. Petersburg

A story of questionable value

Re: Victim, men leave rape case in past, March 17.

What was the overriding factor in deciding to run the story about a 10-year-old rape case? Slow news day? Chance to get another dig in at the Tampa Tribune? Or did you just decide to mete out a little more "justice" to the perpetrators?

I didn't even live in the state 10 years ago when this took place and don't particularly lean to either side. But, come on! What could possibly be gained by regurgitating the whole thing all over again? Obviously, mistakes (serious ones) were made by all _ including the victim who now understands why women don't leave bars alone with four men.

You state very clearly that all involved have straightened up and moved on. End of story, right? No, apparently you felt the need to drag the parties through the whole mess once again, making the rest of us aware of ancient history with no current relevance and removing whatever measure of peace they had managed to find in their lives.

Once again: Citizens do their time and/or make amends to society, but the media, by gosh, will make them pay again!

I subscribe to your paper even though I live in Bradenton because of its high quality. This article seems to be beneath you.

Wendy Gaudioso, Bradenton

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