Letters to the Editors
Don't neglect the need for a U.S. fleet
© St. Petersburg Times,
Re: Sailor shortage could cut supply lines, Sept. 2.
This Baltimore Sun article is most significant. However, the numbers of ships mentioned for emergency sea lift are not realistic.
It is indicated that 76 or 142 Ready Reserve ships and a couple hundred of commercial vessels are needed for a large-scale conflict. I was a merchant mariner in all theaters of World War II, and I know that these numbers of ships could be sunk in short order. In that pre-missile conflict, thousands of merchant ships were torpedoed or bombed. The indomitable Winston Churchill indicated the only war crisis that frightened him was the U-boat threat to the trans-Atlantic lifeline. The way that things are going there may be no such lifeline to worry about.
The essence of the good Sun article is in the last few paragraphs, and should be emphasized. The powers that be should remove the rose-colored glasses and see that a substantial American-flag fleet manned by U.S. citizens is absolutely essential to support overseas conflicts. Military planning for one or two theater wars is great, but as the mate said, "Nobody seems to realize it, but if there's no merchant marine our military doesn't go anywhere."
Alien crew members of cruise and other ships are not likely to sail in troubled waters. They are obliged for such service to neither the United States nor the flag on the fantail or their ships.
We have a grandson, a super kid who is thinking of going to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y. We would be more than proud if he were to follow in the steps of his mother, father, grandfather and great grandfather, but is that a worthwhile endeavor anymore? Perhaps he should go into the Air Force like his other grandpa.
Stopping a cruel practice
Re: Have we forgotten what initiatives are for? Sept. 2.
Martin Dyckman suggests that a proposal to protect pigs from being penned in small cages during their pregnancies is laughable.
No, Mr. Dyckman, it is not laughable. I would rather not have to spend my time helping to collect 650,000 signatures to get an initiative on the ballot. But if a small group of committed individuals does nothing, nothing will change. There are no laws to protect these animals. One of the cruelest factory farming methods is to keep pregnant pigs in metal crates only 2 feet wide. (They are kept continuously pregnant by artificial insemination, thereby spending almost all of their lives in these crates.) The reality is that animals with more intelligence than dogs do not even have enough space to turn around. They stand in those crates day, after day. This causes great physical and emotional suffering. While these animals are alive, they should be treated humanely.
If adding this amendment to the state Constitution is the only opportunity we have to stop this cruel practice, then so be it.
I am grateful to live in a state where ordinary citizens can bring about positive changes without relying on politicians!
A man's province
Re: A bearded man gets a reaction, by Bill Maxwell, Sept. 2.
I agree with Bill's take on beards, but I believe that the real reason for there being so many bearded men these days is that it is the one thing that the militant feminists have not been able to take away from men.
They have taken to wearing men's clothes, gone braless, cut their hair short, cursed and in general tried to act like the men that they have continually put down. But the one thing that they can't do is grow a beard! And therein lies our sanctity.
I, too, have a full, white-but-cropped beard and am proud of it. Long live not the alpha male, but the omega male, beard and all.
Tax cut needed now
Re: Democrats are trapped in Social Security "lockbox," by Philip Gailey, Sept. 2.
I agreed with Gailey's column until the point where he started contradicting himself. About midway through, he wrote, "Not too many years back, in the same economic circumstances, Democrats would have been proposing new government spending to stimulate the economy, and the debate over tax cuts would have been over how much to cut taxes, not whether to cut them. That's what governments used to do in a recession." Then in the end he supports a liberal's statement starting, "His advice to Democrats: Repeal the tax cut . . ."
My family and I make our living from investing, and every day I listen to and read what economists have to say. To this day, I have not heard one against a tax cut. In fact, most say President Bush unconsciously got lucky because his promised tax cut came exactly at the right time for the economy we currently find ourselves in.
Every economist I have listened to also states the "exact wrong thing" to do at this point is to raise taxes or roll back tax cuts. This economy and the world's economy need all the stimulation they can get.
Shades of racism
Robyn Blumner objects to the U.N. World Conference Against Racism considering language that equates Zionism with racism. I think to some degree her point is valid.
Alfred Korzybski, the founder of the General Semantics movement, would have objected strenuously to the idea that Zionism "is" racism. First, he didn't believe any two concepts were identical and he shunned the use of the "is" of identity. Second, he would point out that the words Zionism and racism are both high level abstractions and hard to tie to specific actions. My package of ideas about Zionism and racism probably differ substantially from Blumner's.
The purpose of the U.N. Conference against Racism was to provide a forum to discuss these difficult issues. It was not intended to generate either benefits or losses for Jews and Israel.
There certainly is reason to be concerned about the actions of the Zionist organization and the government of Israel. They drove 800,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948 and 1967 and refuse to allow them to return. The Jewish Agency confiscates Palestinian lands, but will only sell or lease it back to Jews. Israel has built huge subsidized settlements for Jews only while denying building permits and demolishing homes of Palestinians. They have announced plans to manage demographics to ensure Jewish control in certain areas.
I agree with Alfred Korzybski that Zionism is not racism, but I think it has many of the attributes of racism.
The U.N. conference was intended as a way to discuss and possibly understand these issues better. It is not helpful for the United States to back away because we or Israel might have our actions criticized or our beliefs challenged.
In the Sept. 3 Times, a story notes that Israeli President Moshe Katsav rejected criticism of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians by saying they were "a palpable expression of racism and anti-Semitism." On Sept. 2, Robyn Blumner's column suggested that "equating Zionism with racism" is "a code for anti-Semitism."
Not every Jew is a Zionist. Not all Jews, and not all Israelis, support the current militant stance toward the Palestinians. Designating every opposition to Israeli policy as anti-Semitic is exactly the kind of racial profiling that lead to my own and my family's persecution in the Holocaust.
Focus further on coal
Re: Big Coal's cleanup act, Sept. 2.
Compliments to Jeff Goodell's journalistic tour de force on the politics of the coal industry and CO2 pollution. Unfortunately there was only one short sentence -- in the next to last paragraph -- mentioning "pollution controls and mining coal in ecologically sensitive ways."
That topic deserves at least four columns of technical and cost-impact information for us average readers to really understand the options and whom to contact to express our views intelligently. Please, more on this issue in the near future.
Money down the tubes
Re: Of monotubes and monocrats, editorial, Sept. 2.
A pipe costing more than a quarter of a million dollars that costs $129,000 to paint leads to the question: What's that pipe made of and what was it painted with?
Or is the building of these high-cost, high-maintenance, "monotubes" actually due to some "monocrat" related to or sleeping with some contractor?
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