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Wednesday's letters: Remember the lessons of Dec. 7, 1941

Pearl Harbor Day

Recall the lessons of Dec. 7, 1941

Tuesday was Pearl Harbor Day, set aside to commemorate "a date which will live in infamy," Dec. 7, 1941, when the Imperial military forces of Japan bombed military targets in Hawaii.

Today, with Sept. 11, 2001, fresh in our memory, the Pearl Harbor attack is quickly fading into obscurity as the "greatest generation" fades away with it. It would be unfortunate if we forgot the important lessons taught by Dec. 7.

Pearl Harbor is a story of courage, survival and a spirit of "don't give up the ship." On that day in 1941, approximately 2,500 people were killed and another 1,200 wounded. Four major battleships were sunk in the harbor (though two were subsequently raised), numerous planes were destroyed, and the Pacific fleet was set into disarray. To this day, 69 years later, oil still leaks from the USS Arizona, which sits in its watery grave in the harbor.

The bombing shocked and angered the nation. Had it not been a surprise attack, it may not have aroused the emotions of Americans, but such is hindsight.

The real lesson learned from Pearl Harbor was how unprepared we were and how we could have prevented it. Years before the attack, the Army sent Gen. Billy Mitchell to study Pacific defenses.

Mitchell's notoriety stemmed from his advocacy of air power. During his tour of the Pacific, Mitchell visited Japan, witnessed firsthand how the Japanese were embracing air power, and realized America was far behind. He made an extensive report on his assessment of American defenses in the Pacific.

Interestingly, this report was produced in 1924, 17 years before the Pearl Harbor bombings. Mitchell was criticized and ignored by the Army, and the report was quickly dismissed.

Pearl Harbor Day to me is a strong reminder of how Americans tend to be reactionaries as opposed to planners. I find it strange and dangerous that we prefer to pay attention to a dog only after it has bitten us, as opposed to heeding its bark. I hear the dogs barking in the Middle East and Asia, but does anyone else?

Tim Bryce, Palm Harbor

Tax cuts

Will rich ever have enough?

I listened to President Barack Obama speak Monday night, caving in to the Republicans so that their rich donors could get richer. I was hoping the president would let the whole crop of tax cuts expire; the country can use the revenue.

We have not been asked to do anything for these terrible wars (one a voluntary war with a country that meant us no harm) or for our country that is in deep debt due to political posturing and chest-thumping and wasteful policies by the very people that Obama just gave in to.

If the tax cuts are so good for the country, why did the last 10 years not make us completely whole? I personally never gained enough at one time for an expensive dinner from the tax cuts or the earlier trickle-down nonsense. Lower earners do not benefit largely from this largesse for the wealthy, and our country suffers from a revenue deficit.

I am sorry to be so bitter, but I must ask: Do the rich ever have enough?

J.A. "Jim" Cocca, Homosassa

Jobless benefits

Detached from reality

The recent delay in Congress in extending unemployment benefits for the "99-weekers" points out its detachment from reality.

I am rereading Eleanor and Franklin, describing Eleanor Roosevelt's behind-the-scenes work on behalf of the millions of jobless and homeless during the 1930s' Depression. FDR had an uphill battle with Congress during that decade to get emergency relief bills passed. Fortunately, he got it to pass some landmark safety net legislation early on (New Deal, Social Security, etc.), but after that, it was a constant, often losing battle against special-interest Southern Democrats (today's wealthy Republicans).

Despite the horrifying national debt, the amount necessary to provide a safety net now is a tiny amount when compared to what is being spent daily by the military.

Peter Schmidt, St. Petersburg


Don't punish truth-teller

WikiLeaks has presented the truth, not propaganda. People at the highest levels of our government have indeed said the things reported. It is sobering and frightening that Julian Assange is been maligned and treated like a war criminal for telling the truth.

Simply because the government's firewalls and security are porous and the revelations are embarrassing to the United States does not justify the calls for Assange's head.

The solution is to take the high road for a change. Understand the strengths and weakness of allies and enemies and deal analytically with the realities.

Stooping to comic-book descriptions of leaders of other countries is petty, sophomoric and beneath the dignity and public expectations of those high offices. However, as is typical of "feckless" political leaders and ignorant political pundits, killing the messenger is always the first and lasting response.

Assange should be lauded as a hero of journalism and given a prize.

Wesley Johnson, Tampa

By any other name

We hear from leaked diplomatic cables that couriers are lugging suitcases purportedly filled with money and are seen entering the Russian seat of power. In this country we call that lobbying.

Edward Cadden, St. Petersburg

Hard lines, hard times | Dec. 3, editorial

Spending is the problem

This editorial's answer is to raise taxes. Here are some facts to consider. Forty-seven percent of tax filers pay no income tax. The top 10 percent pay 73 percent of all personal income taxes, according to the IRS.

In the period from 1960 through 2010, the federal government ran a surplus six of those years, or 12 percent of the time. It ran a deficit 45 years, or 88 percent of the time. During that same time frame, year-over-year revenue increased 44 times and decreased only seven times.

Raising taxes has not solved the problem. Even when year-over-year revenues increased, we often ran a deficit. Just like most Americans, the government spends up to and even beyond its means. Spending, not income, is the problem.

Stephen K. Gibson, Palm Harbor

Wednesday's letters: Remember the lessons of Dec. 7, 1941 12/07/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 7, 2010 7:24pm]
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