Americans should be proud of the good our nation has done

Letters to the Editor
Published October 15, 2006

Re: We Americans really ought to be ashamed, by Robyn E. Blumner, Oct. 8.

I'm so sick of the "blame America" crowd.

Robyn Blumner thinks we should be ashamed. On the contrary, we should be proud. This country has done more good, whether it's humanitarian aid, promoting freedom or defeating Nazism, than any other nation in the history of the world. Our generosity, in money, ideals, or lives, knows no bound.

So she's upset that we're not giving full habeas corpus rights to terrorist suspects. So what? And hasn't she heard of the Barcaloungers in the interrogation rooms, the 4,200 calories a day they get at Gitmo? Those guys may be prisoners, but they never had it so good.

And all this fixation on making sure enemy combatants get Geneva Convention protections. This is a war on terror (actually, it's a war on militant Islam), and all the terrorists, by definition, will not be fighting for a nation. I doubt we'll ever go to war with a nation again, at least not in my lifetime.

Ernest Lane, Trinity

Trusting Congress to do its job

In her Oct. 8 column (We Americans really ought to be ashamed), Robyn Blumner throws out words like "granted President Bush royal powers," "American experiment in liberty ended," and "people's representatives collude to collapse the separation of powers."

A majority of Congress gave the president the powers he requires to fight our terrorist enemy. I believe that the congressional majority is on the right side of this issue. These are special times, and we need to do what has to be done to preserve our country and our liberty.

I feel that my liberties were more threatened during the '90s, with the "political correctness" craze, than I do with this legislation. Back then, you couldn't say what you wanted, to whom you wanted, when you wanted.

I want to see our government deal harshly with terrorists wherever they are in the world, in a manner which is within laws passed by Congress. I trust this body more than I do most left-wing journalists.

Don Skomski, Clearwater

Reminiscent of the Roman Empire

Robyn Blumner's overview of the Bush administration's effect upon America's social and political landscapes described with excellence the feelings my husband and I have known during this administration. To us, it also feels like, as with the Roman Empire, we may be on the brink of our American "downfall"; the extinction of the great democratic experiment.

Sarah Ivanov, New Port Richey

In education, we get what we pay for

Re: Too cheap to be great, Oct. 8.

In 1987 the University of Florida was on the threshold to being one of the top 10 universities in the country. But due to the drying up of adequate tax revenues, UF began its downward spiral to a status of moderate quality in delivering the educational experience.

One of my responsibilities as a teacher at St. Petersburg High School's International Baccalaureate program was that of an academic coach for some 20 to 25 of the IB students. Remember that virtually 99.9 percent of these students (we did have one student who attended clown college in Sarasota) went on to a college or university somewhere in the United States. For 10 years prior to my retirement in 2002 I strongly advised my students not to attend UF because, even with the Bright Futures grants, they would not receive the quality of learning that they received in the IB program.

The article's title equally applies to public, K-12 education in Florida. In 1987 public education received 61 cents of each general revenue dollar collected by the state. Since that year the allocation for education has decreased to the present 48 cents of each tax dollar; while lottery and, increasingly, property tax dollars have taken up the slack. Both Democrats and Republicans accomplished this sleight of hand.

Interestingly, also in 1987 former Gov. Bob Martinez (a Republican) initiated an expansion of the sales tax assessment to include many of the exempted sales tax occupations, mostly in the area of service businesses. The protest from these newly affected businesses, such as the lawyers, resulted in a cancellation of this legislation.

In 2004 an attempt was made to use the referendum process to force the legislature to periodically review all possible sources of sales tax revenues. Unfortunately, the state Supreme Court found the language unacceptable and the chance to identify some $29-billion in additional tax revenues was lost.

Today, property owners have finally felt the graphic intersection of the decreasing state expenditure of sales tax revenues on education and the rising county and local property taxes assessed for these same expenses.

Maybe now the citizens of Florida will convince the Legislature to look toward an enhanced sales tax base, specifically for education. And then the need for a constitutional amendment will be moot.

Dr. Wallace F. Witham, Belleair Bluffs

Why the SWAT team was smiling

Re: Judge, jury, executioner, Oct. 8.

Bill Maxwell states that Angilo Freeland's death was an execution. I'm sure if the murdered deputy had been black and the killer had been white, he would not have written this column. His racist tones are evident.

The state of Florida just executed another cop killer after 18 years on death row and at a cost of millions of dollars, with the killer whining about cruel and unusual punishment to the end. I believe Freeland's death fits the swift and just punishment our forefathers advocated in our Constitution.

As far as Bill Maxwell's criticizing the SWAT team smiling after the shootout, let him go into the woods after the next armed cop killer and see if he doesn't celebrate if and when he comes back alive.

Lawrence Stephany, Largo

Aiding the terrorists?

When it looks like there is a move afoot to tighten the sale of guns, letters to the editor from weapons advocates increase markedly. I write as a gun owner and former member of the National Rifle Association, and one with a long memory.

During the early years of this administration, a proposal to require background checks and have a three-day waiting period for weapons sales at gun shows was proposed. Terrorism was in the minds of all citizens. With 40 percent of all guns being sold at gun shows, this seemed to be a fantastic way to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists. The NRA fought successfully against this proposal. Do you feel safer when a terrorist can walk into a gun show and purchase a gun?

The question that I ask is this: Is the NRA, through its political position, aiding and abetting the terrorist movement in this country?

Robert Bucklin, Zephyrhills

An outpouring of kindness

I can't tell you how grateful I am for all the generosity shown to my family and me since the St. Petersburg Times featured us in a story. It has not been easy raising 11 children with my limited resources, but my burden has been lightened by so many generous people.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person who reached out to us in our time of need. This outpouring of kindness and giving went well beyond anything I could have imagined. For the people who put our story out there - thank you. For the people who gave contributions- thank you. For the people who gave clothing, shoes and school supplies - thank you. And for the people who kept us in their prayers - I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Francina Brown, St. Petersburg


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