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To survive, our nation must be united

Letters to the Editor
Published September 30, 2006

In defense of both the Clinton and Bush administrations regarding world terrorism, I believe we need to rethink this subject. Until 9/11, a terrorist attack of this magnitude here was unknown. History had not exposed us to this type of war. While we were seeing violence against America in smaller doses in other countries, we were naive as a nation to what was occurring on a larger scale. Our ignorance has made us vulnerable.

It is time to put partisan politics aside and work together, not as Democrats and Republicans, but as a country should in time of war. While the politicians rant and rave about each other, the security of our nation is at stake.

The infighting that is occurring among politicians is nothing compared to what could happen unless we are prepared in all ways to defend America and American interests abroad. If we remain a divided country, our future could be no country at all. Please listen.

Lois Scheff, St. Petersburg


Iraq has to be fixed

All intelligent, well-informed people now know the war in Iraq should never have been started. That doesn't matter anymore. Those same people know it has been managed poorly and in many cases corruptly. That also doesn't matter anymore. Colin Powell was correct: "If we break it, we own it." Not just Republicans, but all Americans now own it.

If we Democrats want to inherit this war by taking control of the House and/or the Senate, we must be prepared to lead our country out of this morass. Regretfully, we cannot just leave. We, in fact, need to send more troops and everything that costs politically and financially. The message from we Democrats must be: Americans broke it and Americans can fix it, but this administration has shown repeatedly it cannot do the job.

For nearly six years this president and his lap dog Republican Congress have waged the war without success. It is time for American government to take over from partisan government. Bush will never do this on his own.

We must tell the people the Democrats are here to help this president win this war whether he likes it or not. We will not "cut and run," but we definitely will not "stay the course." Whether you like it or not, the Democrats must be the cavalry and come to the aid of this misguided president who has bungled more than Gen. Custer. Sound the bugles, let's win this war.

William Whiteside, Tampa


Start talking about winning

It is time for our leaders to be forthcoming on the status of the war in Iraq. Every day it is more bad news and misdirection on the issues. This is coming from both Republicans and Democrats, and unless it stops, we are in grave danger of losing the war in Iraq. Yes, losing the war.

That is the issue both sides need to debate. So why don't they? For the Republicans, to admit that we are losing the war would be to admit a failure in leadership. For the Democrats, it is simply that they do not have a candidate who can win on the position that he/she can win the war. So we get this tiresome debate on pullout strategies.

The American people do not want to pull out; we want to win. We need to win. We created this mess, and if we do not clean it up, the mess it is going to get worse, and it is going to be in our back yard. I know, it sounds as though I am taking the president's position on the war. To a large part I am. However, I do not support how the president has run this war.

If Republicans want our support, then come clean. Admit your failures. Tell us how hard this is really going to be. Tell us how we can help. The same message applies to the Democrats: Stop talking about pulling out. Start talking about winning. Starting today, let's debate the issue of winning the war.

Mark Stephens, Land O'Lakes


We lose either way

What do we win if we "stay the course" in Iraq? What America wins in the war with Iraq is a ballooning national debt and no guarantee we will not end up fighting the same troops we are training.

Just because a country has free elections does not mean it will agree with our positions. Look at the Palestinians. They elected Hamas, whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel.

Former Sen. Sam Ervin said, "Political freedom cannot exist in any land where religion controls the state, and religious freedom cannot exist in any land where the state controls religion." Iraq is such a country, so if we win, we lose.

It's time the news media understand this and begin asking the president the hard questions that are crying out to be asked. What are we paying for with the lives of our young men and billions of dollars each month? And if we get what we want and leave, how do we know the Iraq military will not establish another dictatorship? Everyone but the current administration knows it is time to say: Good night, Iraq.

Gerald A. Cerveny, Tampa


A Democrat on the front line

I have read many letters in the Times from writers who like to label the Democrats as weak on terrorism and defense.

Please tell my 22-year-old son - a registered and voting Democrat who is entering the 14th month of his 12-month deployment in Iraq, wearing 80 pounds of body armor, in 130-degree temperatures, driving a fully loaded nonair-conditioned Army fuel tanker with the windows rolled up while dodging snipers, mortars, improvised explosives, car and roadside bombs through the streets of Baghdad - that as a Democrat, he is weak on defense.

It's so easy to talk tough and advocate the failed "stay the course" policies of the Bush administration while sitting on your butt in the air-conditioned comfort of your home, drinking lattes and watching football while others do the fighting and the dying. Those who support our troops, support bringing them home.

This is just one perspective from one mother of a soldier fighting in Iraq.

Barbara Orr, St. Petersburg


Support the war against terrorism

As America and our friendly allies continue to fight global terrorism, it is apparent that President Bush and his administration continue to endure a relentless barrage of antiwar sentiment. Frankly, as a member of the military family, I find it incomprehensible how the antiwar voices are, in essence, aiding the enemy while eroding the morale of our fighting forces.

Our courageous military men and women stand united in faraway lands to protect us from terrorism. It is imperative that we at home stand united in their cause and support the war on global terrorism. Unfortunately, as we go about our daily lives, the evildoers around the world stay focused on their goal of plotting to eliminate our existence.

President Bush continues to honor the stellar leadership examples of Ronald Reagan and Sir Winston Churchill, who ultimately played an essential part in defeating the World War II Axis of power, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Hideki Tojo, in addition to successfully liberating millions of people. As of today, under the leadership of President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, our armed forces have liberated millions of oppressed in Afghanistan and 24-million in Iraq. May God bless our gallant soldiers and see their mission to victory.

Joan Atkins, Palm Harbor


A comparison revisited

Re: Cutting and running is never good, letter, Sept. 23.

Unfortunately, many people, - including the president of the United States - choose to read history to reinforce their political positions rather than looking at it squarely. The letter writer says that there is "no comparison" between the British attempt to hold the American colonies during the Revolutionary War and the Bush administration's activities in Iraq. Britain was an "imperialist power" and the United States is bringing "political freedom," the writer says. And, he concludes, "George Washington's army was on the ropes from 1774 through the end of the war."

The Brits in those days didn't think they were imperialists, nor did one-third of the colonists who sided with them. The British were trying to save the Americans from the "rabble" who were fighting against decency and order (and taxes).

After Yorktown, the British took two years to sign a peace treaty and slowly withdrew troops. The main reason they quit was there was no hope of winning, and the British people were tired of the useless war. Their power was overextended; they had little to gain from an unwinnable guerrilla war; the colonies were relatively worthless economically; Britain's European enemy, the French, supported the rebels; and Washington won the important battles like Saratoga and Yorktown. The British were overextended between the North and South of America, and the victories at King's Mountain and Cowpens left the West wide open to the rebels.

Britain went on to control the seas for more than a century. We should be so lucky.

Mary T. Dresser, Dunedin


A sharp partisan split

Re: Detainee bill passes House, on to Senate, Sept. 28.

The interrogation sections of the Military Commissions Act deserve more public attention. This is not a question of torture as punishment of convicted terrorists. It is a question of torturing persons suspected of involvement in terrorism. The same act denies these suspects the most basic of all legal rights, habeas corpus, the right won by commoners as against their royal rulers in the Magna Carta of the 13th century.

I can't believe that Republican voters, our friends and neighbors in our communities, want to give the executive branch of government (1) the right to hold people without trial, (2) force those suspects to name other suspects, who (3) might similarly be detained and similarly tortured until new suspects are named.

To those who derisively declare that there isn't a dime's difference between the two major parties: While 95 percent of the Republicans in the House voted to give the executive branch the right to use torture and to deny the right of habeas corpus to suspects, only 17 percent of Democratic members agreed to that.

Shame on that 17 percent, but the Democratic Party looks like a bastion of morality and justice compared with the Republicans.

Alvin W. Wolfe, Lutz


Adopting the enemy's tactics

Re: Detainee bill passes House, on to Senate.

I have read the parts of this bill that have been published, and I am shocked that the leaders of this nation would pass such a law. This nation has now gone to its lowest point in my lifetime. We are not a nation that does such things. What have we become in the name of fighting terror? We have become no more than those we are fighting. Is there no one who will say that this is wrong?

No matter what your political party, this goes beyond politics to human rights. Please, America, in fighting the terrorists let us not become like them.

LaTreetha E. Sharpley, Spring Hill


Don't expect decency in return

It is imperative that America must adhere to the Geneva Conventions so our troops will be protected and treated humanely when they are captured. So the next time we fight the English or the Swiss, we can be sure they'll be nice to our captured troops if we're nice to their captured troops.

But are we sure we'd get the same humane treatment from the Japanese, the North Koreans, the Vietnamese or the throat-cutters? It is unlikely our troops would get their eggs cooked to order. Surely we must treat captured enemies humanely because of our own sense of decency, but is it too hopeful to expect to get reciprocal consideration from people who saw off the heads of their captured and who praise God with each stroke?

Bob Womack, Crystal River


Seek the truth beyond the balance

There is a trend in news reporting to always air both sides of an argument and to always give them equal weight. While this seems sensible, what we often end up with is a homogenized "he said, she said" reporting style that simply reinforces people's existing bias.

Your front-page article about Bill Clinton's Fox interview is a perfect example (Clinton claims renew 9/11 blame game, Sept. 27). Nearly all of the former president's critical assertions are shown by the 9/11 commission to be factually true. However, there is no authoritative record to corroborate the vague defense given by Secretary of States Condoleezza Rice. Yet this article presents them both as equal sides of a debate.

Instead of doing the research to determine the truth, the article focuses on Clinton's demeanor during the interview. Don't be afraid to offend some readers by telling the truth when you find it. More readers will respect you for it than would cancel their subscriptions because they don't like what they hear.

Sometimes "fair and balanced" makes the whole story meaningless.

Jack Coletti, St. Petersburg


Remember Grenada

Re: Beware that wagging finger, letter, Sept. 27.

I am amazed that Clinton bashers constantly blame him for not responding to the 1993 World Trade Center and 2000 USS Cole attacks while ignoring the Reagan administration response to the Beirut attacks on the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks, which killed many more Americans.

The response: Attacking 90 Cubans on Grenada, which certainly did nothing to harm the Islamist terrorists who went on to hit the trade center, the Cole and eventually cause 9/11.

Bob McEwen, U.S. Marine Corps, retired, Indian Shores


Mohammed was no Jesus

Re: Two faiths share one message, Sept. 25.

I must take exception to Ahmed Bedier's statement, "As Muslims, we have to act more like Mohammed and as Christians you have to act more like Jesus."

I hope Muslims wouldn't act like Mohammed. Mohammed was a military leader who in the early stages of Islam raided caravans for food and money and established Islam through armed conflict.

The quote that the pope used is true about the advance of Islam by the sword. One can debate the Crusades and other violence in the name of Christianity and whether those who committed the violence were true Christians, just as Muslims say that terrorists are not true Muslims. But you can never equate the peace, love and self-sacrificial life of Jesus with the life and jihad methods of Mohammed.

I believe there are many peace-loving Muslims, but when Bedier said, "Don't associate our religion, a religion of peace, with the acts of terrorism," he ignores the historical record. Is Islam a religion of peace when its founder was a warrior?

Victor Trent, Clearwater


Medicare drug benefit is working well

Re: Wal-Mart outdoes Washington, Sept. 25.

Your editorial ignores important facts that could be critically important to millions of patients in need.

America's pharmaceutical research companies strongly support efforts to improve access to affordable health care, including prescription medicines. Whether brand name or generic, we want patients to receive the medicines that are best for them. Wal-Mart's new initiative, which provides mostly older, generic drugs at low cost, is one way to improve access to some medicines for some people.

There are other ways for those in need to access their medicines. PhRMA's member companies sponsor the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA), which provides a single point of access to more than 475 patient assistance programs, many of which provide free or nearly free medications to those who qualify. The PPA has already helped more than 2.6-million Americans nationwide.

Also important is the new Medicare prescription drug benefit. Ninety percent of the Medicare population now has comprehensive drug coverage, meaning millions of patients who previously had no prescription drug coverage now receive substantial discounts negotiated by Medicare drug plans.

Part of the reason for this success is that price negotiations occur where they should: in the marketplace, between pharmaceutical companies and prescription drug plans which purchase medicines for more than 100-million Americans. These competitive negotiations drive down costs for beneficiaries and taxpayers while maintaining patient choice.

Although not perfect, the new Medicare benefit is working well, helping provide better access to medicines for millions of Americans who need them the most - a fact unfortunately lost in your editorial.

Ken Johnson, senior vice president, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Washington, D.C.

[Last modified September 30, 2006, 00:58:50]

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