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REJECT CORPORATIONS AS 'PERSONS'

High court should stick to precedent - Sept. 12, editorial

The case of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, does indeed pose a threat to federal campaign finance laws that attempt to rein in the pernicious influence of for-profit corporations on the democratic process. The St. Petersburg Times urges that the high court "stick to precedent," as long-standing judicial principles require it to do, in upholding the decisions of lower federal courts that affirmed the constitutionality of the campaign finance law at issue. Had the court followed precedent in 1889, however, we would not be where we are now.

It was in that year that the court, in Minneapolis & St. Louis Ry. Co. vs. Beckwith, first recognized the personhood of corporations within the meaning of the clauses in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution concerning the deprivation of property, and concerning the equal protection of the laws.

Significantly, while the high court was extending constitutional rights to artificial corporate "persons," it began systematically narrowing the rights of real people and citizens, African-Americans, to their constitutional rights. Plessy vs. Fergusson, for example, upheld in 1896 as constitutional state laws that enforced segregation by race as long as there was provision for "separate but equal" accommodations. The so-called "Jim Crow" laws remained in effect until the civil rights movement led to their overthrow a half a century later.

For 120 years now, the high court has been continually expanding the constitutional rights of corporations - neither "born" nor, properly speaking, "naturalized" citizens - that were never intended to be recognized as persons for purposes of the U.S. Constitution. This literally unprecedented extension of constitutional rights to corporations, including ever-widening rights of free speech, poses perhaps the greatest threat to our political and economic system that we have ever faced.

The court should exercise this opportunity, not only to uphold campaign finance laws, but also to reverse once and for all time its long-standing and baseless recognition of corporations as "persons" under the U.S. Constitution.

Sidney W. Kilgore, attorney at law, Tampa

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Thousands cheer, assail Obama plan Sept. 13, story

The media too often are dismissive of conservatives

As usual, you, the media, are so biased it is unbelievable. President Barack Obama gives a speech in Minneapolis to maybe a few thousand people and you print in the headline that "Thousands cheer, assail Obama plan."

Your smaller line for the Freedom March in Washington, D.C., states that "angry protesters march in D.C." where hundreds of thousands of people showed up.

I will never understand why the media feel the need to show not only their bias toward Obama but also their dismissiveness of the conservative movement. I am sick to death of the media portraying anyone who disagrees with Obama as angry, unpatriotic, whatever.

Did you watch any of the march on TV? I did. They were not "angry" protesters. They were people fed up with the lies, the half-truths and the government turning our Constitution into something that no one recognizes anymore. I always thought the media were supposed to "report the news," not distort the news to fit their own agenda. If you want to print something, print the truth!

Alice Rusconi, Spring Hill

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Where were they before?

As I watched the protesters in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 12, I was wondering where these people were when we needed them.

Where were the protesters who are so concerned about budget deficits when President George W. Bush cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans, which converted billions of dollars of budget surpluses from the Clinton years to the trillion-dollar deficit we face today?

Where were the protesters when President Bush sent us to war in Iraq with no plan to pay for it, thus adding billions of dollars to the deficit?

I am confused why these protesters are so angry with President Barack Obama when it is the policies of the previous administration that got us into this mess.

Richard Feigel, Clearwater

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Living in a fact-based world - Sept. 13

Incentives to be healthy

The interview with Paul Gary Wyckoff regarding his book, Policy and Evidence in a Partisan Age: The Great Disconnect, was interesting, but I found some of his answers somewhat misleading.

With regard to the debate on health reform he stated that the benefits of prevention have been oversold. Wyckoff implies that "prevention" is defined as simply screening everyone for a disease in hopes of finding the few affected, and quotes Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer as stating that the cost of services exceeds the savings.

It may be that screening everyone is not cost-effective, but those of us who are health and fitness professionals would argue that prevention is about changing lifestyles to prevent disease rather than waiting for it to manifest and then trying to cure or manage the disease. Prevention in this sense could certainly be cost-effective, especially if physicians were encouraged to prescribe exercise and healthy diets.

It is my understanding that this definition of prevention is the one espoused by advocates of health care reform. Incentives to be healthier could go a long way in preventing chronic disease and saving untold billions in health care costs.

Anita Jimenez, Ruskin

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Competence is in question - Sept. 12, letter

We need a plan

As poorly as the writer seems to think Social Security and Medicare are managed, try telling millions of seniors who depend on both programs that they could do without.

It's time for the politicians to put aside their partisan politics and work together to come up with a health plan acceptable to both parties. A poorly run health care plan would be better than no plan at all, which is what we have now, leaving millions of Americans with absolutely no coverage. A plan that is less than perfect is better than no plan at all. Let's pass something we can build on.

Daniel Ward, Zephyrhills

Let's get back to people power - Sept. 7, letter

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Destructive forces

The letter writer makes the point that we need to get back to people power. His first sentence says it all, "Is it just me or are we all more annoyed and agitated than we used to be?"

The answer is yes and I can illuminate the situation. I, too, have asked myself the same question. I grew up in Washington, D.C., and politics was mother's milk to me, but never since the days of Joseph McCarthy have I seen such vitriol as we are experiencing today.

I, too, puzzled over the cause. Then I recently watched an interview with Max Blumenthal, author of an amazing book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party. I have not read the book, but expect to receive my copy soon. However, the three-part interview was illuminating enough and should be viewed by anyone asking the same questions about our divisive society. The message is truly scary and has been brewing for more than 20 years. We must take our beloved country back from those who seek to destroy it.

Margot Woodrough, St. Petersburg

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