What are Biden’s successes?
U.S. ramps up plan to expel Haitian migrants gathered in Texas | Sept. 18
President Biden has been in office for eight months, and so far: The withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan was a disaster of epic proportions that resulted in complete chaos and the loss of 13 of our great servicemen and women; hundreds of thousands of migrants are flowing into our country through our southern border; inflation is going straight up including gasoline prices which are up significantly over last year at this time; the national debt continues to rise at an alarming rate; COVID numbers are way up (the president took credit when they were down); gun violence and homicides in most major cities are up; North Korea has begun firing missiles again; and even though President Biden said we were going to be more inclusive with our European allies, those allies are upset with the way we left Afghanistan. I am somewhat at a loss to find anything that the president has done right since he took office last January.
Robert Butler, Tampa
Space travel rocks!
SpaceX’s 1st private flight launches 4 amateurs on Earth-circling trip | Sept. 15
Once again Florida is in the forefront of commercial aviation. We Floridians rightly take pride in the launch of the world’s first airliner, the Benoist Airboat, from the St. Petersburg Central Yacht Basin on New Year’s Day in 1914. Earlier this year, St. Petersburg celebrated this achievement with installation of an eight ton stainless steel sculpture of the first airliner and a surrounding Benoist Centennial Plaza on the approach to the new Pier. Now we can take pride in the successful completion of the Space X Falcon 9 rocket Dragon Inspiration 4 launched from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral on September 16th.
The Inspiration 4 flight follows the earlier private enterprise flights of Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin in July. However, while those flights lasted but a few minutes into space and reached a height of 62 miles, Inspiration 4 lasted three days and reached altitudes as high as 367 miles. By comparison, John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth in 1962, reached a height of just 162 miles.
The invention of commercial airlines tremendously enhanced the quality of life throughout the world and momentously contributed to the world’s economy. While we have a long way to go before commercial space flight becomes a frequent mode of transportation, Inspiration 4 along with the Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin flights are the first tentative steps of a new chapter of commercial aviation reaching into space. And it all began over 100 years ago with the world’s first airline in St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay.
Will Michaels, St. Petersburg
The writer is the president of Flight 2014, Inc. - First Airline Monument project
Ask the hard questions
I appreciate the accuracy of Aaron Smith-Levin’s comments about Scientology in his bid for a seat on Clearwater’s City Council. I commend him for saying that he wants to push the Internal Revenue Service to review and revoke the church’s tax exemption. As a retired Lutheran pastor, I have publicly stated that Scientology does not fit the acceptable description of a church entity which preaches the word of God (understood to be the Old and New Testaments of the Bible) and offers, at a minimum, the two sacraments of Holy Baptism and the Eucharist (Holy Communion). Scientology does neither of these things. Instead, it practices no sacraments, and its “scriptures” are the writings of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
When the IRS granted Scientology its current status as a “church,” I believe that decision was a horrendous mistake. It has shielded the organization from being taxed like any other non-religious organization. It has led to what Councilmember Mark Bunker boldly proposed in May 2020 “that the city ask the FBI to investigate Scientology for racketeering related to recent downtown property purchases made with $99 million in cash.” We need more city councilmembers to demand transparency, truthfulness, and cooperation from Scientology if it is going to be a valued partner in Clearwater’s present and future.
John Hayner, Clearwater
Stop the COVID ridicule
Is mocking the unvaccinated people who die of COVID, like is done continually by some news stations, helping to get more people vaccinated? Is that what we have become as a nation?
John Spengler, Spring Hill