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Iraq is really a distraction from the war on terrorism

Re: The war in Iraq has dealt a serious blow to terrorists, letter, Sept. 27.

The letter writer is plainly mistaken in contending President Bush has dealt a serious blow to the terrorists in waging his war of choice in Iraq. He uses the Bush-Cheney ploy of obfuscation, attempting to subsume the war to remove Saddam Hussein under the war on terrorism. But the fact that the despot has been removed stands side by side with the grave reality that rather than strengthening us, the war in Iraq is a distraction that has weakened us in the war on terrorism.

The Hussein connection has been so thoroughly refuted _ no WMD, no collaboration with al-Qaida _ that it can find credence only with those who, for whatever reason, have shut out all news of the evidence refuting any connection, those who are blinded by partisanship, or those who cynically join the unreal world of Bush. There, with him, not only do they affirm the nonexistent connection, but also nonexistent progress in Iraq _ never mind the mounting casualties our brave soldiers and Marines are sustaining, the growing strength of disparate insurgent groups in Iraq, and the growing chaos.

The writer asks what makes John Kerry think he would have any more "powers of persuasion" than President Bush in getting the support of NATO and others in stabilizing and reconstructing Iraq. The answer is simple: He is not Bush. He doesn't carry the baggage Bush carries, who in his high-handed rush to get us into Iraq at any cost alienated our allies in "Old Europe" and throughout most of the world and has demonstrated a singular lack of leadership preparing for the war in Iraq and its aftermath.

Paul F. Peters, Largo

This is inferior leadership

Re: The war in Iraq has dealt a serious blow to terrorists, letter.

The fact that George Bush invaded a country that posed no threat to the United States, but continually insisted there were weapons of mass destruction, or the new mantra, programs for developing weapons of mass destruction, is not superior leadership.

The letter writer further claims that John Kerry would not have any more power of persuasion than President Bush. John Kerry has a much better chance of negotiating with our allies because he doesn't possess the "swagger" or "bravado" that Bush proudly touts. Bush's inability to bring our allies together is another example of inferior leadership.

If there had been four years of superior leadership as this author has claimed, as well as serious blows to terrorists, then Osama bin Laden would have been caught by now. Afghanistan would not be full of warlords terrorizing the country. Billions of dollars would not have been spent on a war that was unnecessary, 23,000 Iraqi citizens and more than 1,042 U.S. soldiers would still be alive today.

Toni Molinaro, St. Petersburg

A policy that protects the most lives

Re: Not easy to vote your beliefs, letter, Sept. 22.

This letter accurately presents what many Catholics face in their voting decisions. Yes, one should consider all of a candidate's positions, but proper weight should be assigned to each. I commend the letter writer for deciding to vote for the one whose "policies will protect the most lives."

Of all the issues she mentions, the church has an absolute position on only one: abortion. Some 1.3-million human lives are lost annually in the United States to this injustice. Without a right to life, you have no human rights at all.

Archbishop John Meyers writes, "policies on welfare, national security, the war in Iraq, Social Security or taxes, taken singly or in any combination, do not provide a proportionate reason to vote for a pro-abortion candidate."

John Kerry missed more than 80 percent of the Senate votes this year but never missed an opportunity to vote in favor of abortion. Even partial-birth abortion. George Bush's policies clearly protect the most lives.

Frank Boyle, South Pasadena

Doctrine and the death penalty

Re: Not easy to vote your beliefs, letter.

The letter writer was misinformed when she stated that Catholic doctrine opposes capital punishment. The doctrine does indeed permit the death penalty when used judicially by duly elected government. This doctrine can be reviewed by referencing www.Catholic.com or many other Catholic Web sites.

Having had 12 years of Catholic school, I can remember learning long ago that there were three circumstances upon which life could justifiably be taken without having a guilty conscience: self-defense, war and capital punishment.

The honorable troops who died in Iraq died in an effort to spread freedom to more than 70-million people and to defend our country from future terrorist attacks. In addition to 9/11, there were a half-dozen or more other attacks on the United States that seem to have been forgotten.

The pope's statement concerning the Iraq war was based on his personal opinion. It was not a statement of moral teaching, therefore it was not infallible.

I will vote for George Bush because we have the same value system. In addition, President Bush is a strong leader who can be trusted _ and, from past experience, I know he will improve America even more than in the past four years.

N. Gorell, Madeira Beach

We all have to follow the rules

Re: Deputy overreacted, handcuffed teens say, Sept.23.

The Pinellas sheriff's deputy was correct to handcuff and detain these kids, given the standing rules, times and situation. The mother who complained was exhibiting a blatant disregard of the rules and knows full well that her daughter, who formerly attended that school, knew about the trespassing rules.

My suggestion to the mother and daughter is to quit complaining and embarrassing themselves and realize that they also must go by the rules and protections we all must live by.

V. Burrack, St. Petersburg

Go beyond the same old voices

Your "Other Voices" format on Sept. 25 sounds so inclusive! But I have a suggestion for a more accurate name. I suggest "Echoes." To have three editorials produced by the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and New York Times, side by side with three of your own (and a typically acid cartoon by Pat Oliphant, for good measure) is not what I would call "other voices."

The Big Three, cited above, along with your own, are mere house organs for the political left. "Other Voices" should truly be "other." If you are genuinely interested in balance, look to other papers in other places to give truly "other" opinions.

Keep your own editorial positions. I have no quibble with that. Just be courageous enough to print what "others" with genuinely "other" positions say. That will make you a better newspaper.

William J. Martin, St. Petersburg

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