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    Letters to the Editors

    With war and domestic needs, don't cut taxes

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 16, 2003

    Re: 6 in 10 oppose wartime tax cuts, April 14.

    I agree with the six in 10 Americans who oppose tax cuts. The war in Iraq is costing us many billions of dollars, and many more will be needed to rebuild the country. Also, if the United States attacks Syria, as some influential hawks are encouraging, many, many more billions will be needed.

    We have many urgent needs to help the American people, including our veterans.

    Rather than cut taxes for the wealthy as proposed, veterans benefits should be maintained or increased. The VA hospitals are suffering from cuts. They need more money to help current veterans and to take care of the hundreds of thousands of vets who will soon be returning from the Middle Eastern wars.

    Let's take care of our own in this time of economic downturn.
    -- John McCrossan, Tampa

    Spread the sacrifice around

    The war in Iraq is costing us billions of dollars. Our country was in a financial crisis before we even considered the cost of war. As a result, our elderly are sacrificing their promised prescription drug relief. The schoolchildren are sacrificing the promise of a better education. Millions of Americans are sacrificing the hope of getting health care insurance. All children are sacrificing their future by being saddled with the interest payments on an increasing national debt. And, worst of all, the poor and middle class are sacrificing their sons and daughters to the war.

    Perhaps those good patriots in the top 2 percent income bracket (who stand to gain a hefty amount from the proposed tax cut) will do a little sacrificing by telling Congress and the administration to drop the large tax cut from the budget. They might want to follow Warren Buffett's advice.
    -- Patricia D. Sidebottom, Dunedin

    Chaos should have been expected

    I was sickened to hear Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld take no responsibility for the chaos and destruction going on in Baghdad, but to say sarcastically that critics must realize there will be some untidy transitions. This is unthinkable language for looting of hospitals and destruction of pre-Babylonian antiquities. Such chaos and destruction were certainly predictable.

    The appointment of Gen. Jay Garner to head the stabilization efforts in Iraq did not encourage me, since he is described as a good friend of Rumsfeld. I fear that the American people have "hot-shot cowboys" in charge of our mighty military power.
    -- Carol A. Barker, Thonotosassa

    This is untidiness?

    Re: Secretary Rumsfeld declares looting in Baghdad is "untidiness."

    The hospital in Baghdad was stripped of its medical supplies and equipment by looters, leaving doctors no means of caring for their patients. The national museum was pillaged, with priceless artifacts being stolen or destroyed.

    Is this untidiness? Significantly, our forces did have enough troops to protect the Oil Ministry building. The war is not about oil? Bunk!
    -- Richard Vanni, Seminole

    Cause for skepticism

    Re: Looting of the National Museum.

    The United States has come in for all kinds of hysterical vilification from the left for "allowing" the National Museum in Baghdad to be looted. First, this raises the question of whether we "allowed" looting to go on at all. Or, as the secretary of Defense said, "stuff happens."

    However, as to the National Museum. We should not forget that while we saw all kinds of video footage of buildings being looted, people carrying stuff down the street and all that (and often the same scene over and over), we didn't see pictures of the museum being looted, only what it looked like after the looting supposedly took place. For all we know, Baath Party members and regime officials did it, taking the "priceless" museum pieces to pay for their lifestyle while on the run. All we have is the word of the museum staff, and you must keep in mind that they were employees of Saddam Hussein's government.

    I'm not saying they are lying, because I don't know, but you have to have a certain skepticism.
    -- Ernest E. Lane, Trinity

    Idiotic criticism not needed

    I am appalled that with several weeks to find weapons of mass destruction, while fighting a war against fanatical Saddam Hussein loyalists, our troops have not found the "smoking gun" that the Iraqis had only 12 years to hide. Obviously our troops have spent too much time being trained in how to save their own butts in battle and not on how to find these weapons. Our generals are misguided and need to be retrained to recognize what is important when fighting a battle.

    Come on! Get real, people! Put your energy to good use. Our troops and government need support, not idiotic criticism.
    -- Hal Chapman, U.S. Navy, retired, Bayonet Point

    Only conservatives get labeled?

    Re: In TV war news, the hits and misses, April 14.

    In Eric Deggans' review of war coverage, the Fox News Channel is described as "Roger Ailes' right-leaning cable news network." Interestingly, in subsequent mentions of ABC, CNN, MSNBC, and CBS, the owner was never named nor was the term "left-leaning" used. Does this mean that Deggans only knows the owner of Fox by name? Does it mean that to Mr. Deggans there are no political "lefts" on TV, only political "rights," and all the rest are "moderates"?

    Also, in the piece, Deggans mentions by name many of the cast of characters on the various news programs. He specifies that some (such as Pat Buchanan) are "noted conservatives" and yet among all the other names mentioned, not one is described as a "noted liberal." Does this mean that to Deggans' way of thinking, there are no "liberals" among all the reporters and anchors on television? Is objectivity in reporting a lost art among your staff?
    -- Ray Kelly, Sun City Center

    Injecting race into war deaths

    Re: Study: 20 percent of war deaths are blacks, April 13.

    I am scratching my head trying to figure out why you folks thought this story was newsworthy. Does this mean that from now on, whenever the United States goes to war, no matter how small the total number of casualties, you will want to see them counted by race? Perhaps I'm wrong, but my guess is that only the most race-conscious newspapers such as yours found this story newsworthy. So what can we expect next time? Will you want to give us the racial count in real time as each battle unfolds?

    Thank you, St. Petersburg Times, for publishing this story, and bringing new meaning to the concept of "banality of war."
    Geoffrey Nunn, Palm Harbor

    Where will the conquests end?

    Now that "peace" has come to Iraq, will Syria be the next target? And what will be the target after that? If the Bushies have their way, we will be at war for a long time.

    It reminds me of a story on HBO once. A woman was raped and suffered great psychological damage from it. As she and her husband were driving down the street one day, she screamed that there he was, the man who did this to her. Her husband cornered the man in a parking garage and killed him in a tremendous fight. Later that same day as they were returning home, she started screaming again. "There he is. The man who raped me."

    Where will it end?
    -- John A. Cowan, Zephyrhills

    Answering antiwar letters

    Re: Letters, April 8.

    To the letter writer (TV war is far from real), who refers to war supporters as "mindless," you haven't seen videos of Saddam Hussein's victims having their tongues literally torn out and other horrible tortures inflicted in front of their families. You haven't seen tens of thousands of Kurds die horribly from poison gas deliberately dropped on them for the crime of desiring freedom. Yet you "mindlessly" support the continuation of a dictatorship that, with its access to weapons of mass destruction and its willingness to use them, threatens Americans directly.

    To the letter writer (Where does it end?) who criticizes Nat Hentoff for his ability to differentiate between Vietnam and the conflict in Iraq and then chides America for its inability to stop Stalin's crimes, I paraphrase Robert Kennedy who said that we need "the courage to change what we can and the judgment to accept what we cannot." To insinuate that because Americans cannot police every conflict in the world we should not intervene when our interests coincide with what is right is a sad argument coming from one of those who purports to value human life so highly. It seems that the lives valued are those of the oppressors, not of the oppressed.

    Finally, to the writers of the letters Collateral damage close to home and Americans are still waiting: Yes, Americans are waiting for our leaders to shore up our infrastructure, including schools, the health care system, deteriorating bridges and highways, but where are the demonstrators for these issues? Instead, the energy of those supposedly concerned with these social issues is spent defending a murderous dictator and those who are guilty, in many cases, of collusion in his crimes, thereby alienating many, like myself, who agree with them on domestic issues.

    If today's demonstrators against the war would show equal attention and devote equal energy to those less "romantic" issues of social change right here in America, those changes would occur.
    -- Martin Altner, Safety Harbor

    Questionable targeting tactics

    Think of the cost of each of the 2,000-pound laser-controlled bombs we tried to drop on Saddam Hussein plus the multimillion-dollar aircraft to fly them plus all the incidentals for each strike and it adds up to quite a sum. This is not to annihilate an army but just to kill one man. Just recently the Serbs assassinated their prime minister the old-fashioned way, using a rifle.

    To include a little humor, you might compare the recent attempts to kill Hussein with Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny. Elmer points his blunderbuss down the rabbit hole and fires, only to find Bugs still running around. Elmer made a lot of commotion but never hurt anyone else in the process.

    Our government spokesmen have said that Hussein is targeted to be killed. Isn't that the same as murder? This is not the same as killings that occur during the exchange of fire between opposing forces. War tribunals only punish people from the losing side.

    I support the men and women of our armed forces who are doing the job they were sent to do, but I do not support the people who sent them there.
    -- William M. Sacher, Sun City Center

    Dispatches are appreciated

    I would like to voice my deep appreciation for the dispatches from the 101st Airborne filed by Times staff writer Wes Allison. My brother, Sgt. Steve Sanders, is with "No Slack," the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry of the 101st, the unit with which Mr. Allison is embedded. His dispatches help me feel just a little bit closer to my brother. Thank you.
    -- Ken Sanders, Tucson, Ariz.

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