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Is "Son of Vietnam' shaping up in the Saudi Arabian desert?

The American people must be in dire need of a catharsis to relieve their feelings of frustration and guilt over our defeat in Vietnam and the Marine massacre in Lebanon. Along comes Reagan with Grenada and Libya, along comes Bush with the Panama fiasco and now Saudi Arabia, and America is cheering the current military buildup on with a glorious rush of patriotism and oil fever; we are no longer the patsies of the world, we are again big and strong. Stop the new Hitler! Where were all of these patriots during the recent years that our government was openly supporting Saddam Hussein's policies and activities?

How can we now take the moral high ground against "naked aggression" by Iraq when we could not bring ourselves to do so when Saddam did exactly the same thing against Iran? Could it be that we didn't give a hoot about Iran because of how it shamed and embarrassed us to the world? Is that why we even actively supported Saddam in that conflict? And could it be that we have now become moral and can send hundreds of thousands of troops to the Middle East because there is no longer any danger of interference and retaliation by the Soviet Union?

One further question: Does anyone believe that we would have called for international condemnation and sanctions had Saddam attacked our terrorist enemy (and his archenemy) Syria? Or would we have led the cheering squad?

Our leaders are now telling us that an additional 100,000 troops will be sent to Saudi Arabia to complement the 100,000 or so already there. Do I see Son of Vietnam shaping up for the Americans while the few allied(?) troops are hanging around the rear? And do I see the various Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, playing their convoluted politics, letting us hang out to dry while they play footsie with one another? You bet I do! I'm afraid we are a long, long way from seeing the last act in this play.

A.C. Torreano, Palm Harbor

It has been many years since Americans were drafted into military service. No one now serving in the regular forces or the reserves was coerced into donning the uniform. This means that every soldier, Marine, sailor, airman or Coast Guardsman now on duty in Saudi Arabia or the vicinity of the Persian Gulf is a volunteer.

The regulars were the first to go. No question. But then, the president, recognizing the true size of the problem, called up selected reserves. Many are now serving alongside their active-duty counterparts in the Middle East. More will eventually do so.

And now we begin to hear whining on the home front! A careful reading of any newspaper reveals that American support of the president's actions in the Iraqi-created crisis is by no means unanimous. The anti-war movement, so successful in the Vietnam era, sees an opportunity to rejuvenate itself and is crawling out of the woodwork. Of course, no one in his right mind wants to see American blood spilled _ especially if it is in the veins of a friend or relative. Basically, this is the message of the "Peace at any Price" crowd.

But consider why we maintain regular and reserved armed forces in this day and age: The world is still a jungle with people like Saddam Hussein on the prowl. Had not the United States responded as it did in August of this year, our latter-day Hitler would now have control of the world's current main source of energy. It becomes more and more likely that there will be shooting before he is stopped.

To return to the main point: Every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine or Coast Guardsman now serving in the Persian Gulf or called to active duty because of it, at some point in his or her career swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States and to defend it against all enemies foreign or domestic. The U.S. government and its people now ask only that this commitment be honored.

James V. Christy, Clearwater

Mullet Rappers, Bennett hit

Re: The Mullet Rappers get down, Oct. 26.

On the editorial page?

Mr. Pittman and the Times, surely you must have a higher regard for the responsibilities that should go with defending freedom of speech and the press.

Pure and simple garbage. If you're trying to get down to a gutter level, then consider changing the "policy" of your paper, perhaps "The policy of our paper is very simple _ merely to become a mullet wrapper."

Andy Lundquist, New Port Richey

In regard to Clay Bennett's cartoons: Oct. 25, Horror Classics, in which he portrays Gov. Martinez as a monster along with Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolfman; also Oct. 26, where he portrays President Bush as a clown in a clown suit.

I find Clay Bennett's cartoons very offensive, and not funny at all.

M. Hogan, Largo

Another view

I want to tell you how very much we appreciate the wonderful newspaper you put out.

We just returned from a four-month camping vacation which took us as far west as Mississippi and as far north as northern Vermont. We purchased local newspapers in all the campgrounds that we stayed in and not one paper was as good as yours. The Orlando Sentinel and the Jacksonville paper were good but not quite good enough. My husband is an avid baseball fan and sorely missed the wonderful coverage we get here. We also missed your editorials, national weather map and listing of national weather conditions, colorful pictures, colored comics and more.

We also want to thank you for our very nice carrier _ Barry Wynocker _ who never misses a delivery and is always so nice and pleasant. Keep up the good work. It is appreciated.

Nancy G. Wanke, Largo

Keep taxes local

Amendment 3 addresses the future of intergovernmental relations in our state. The history behind this amendment is very blunt. The Florida Legislature banned unfunded state mandates in 1978 but has ignored the law ever since. Passage of the amendment would put the provisions in the Florida Constitution.

I introduced the joint resolution during the 1989 legislative session to address the issue that local governments were facing, which is unfunded state mandates. An unfunded state mandate is a state-initiated program or service imposed on local government without the funds or funding source necessary to implement it.

Amendment 3 will provide protection of local revenue. No city or county could be bound by state laws that require them to spend local revenue unless the new law fulfills an important state interest and either: 1.

provides funds for the mandate, 2.

authorizes the creation of a new funding source for cities and counties, or 3.

passes by a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate. The two-thirds vote is an important safety clause that would allow mandates without funding but not by a simple majority vote.

The problem is serious because the current system interferes with local officials' ability to provide for existing services and local priorities. Mandates are not optional and must be paid for by law. Anything left over goes to local priorities. If there is not enough left, taxpayers accuse local governments of mismanaging revenue or blaming them for raising property taxes.

Presently, the cost of state mandates and their effect on local taxpayers is rarely identified before a law is passed. In some cases, mandates add up to 20 percent of a city's total property tax revenues. When a community complies with unfunded mandates, every citizen pays the bill. Whether payment is made through raising property taxes or deleting an existing program or service, everyone feels the impact.

A common problem with unfunded mandates is that one area of the state must implement and pay for a program needed by another area of the state. After Amendment 3 is added to the state constitution, state leaders will have to weigh the benefits of a new local program against its cost. This will make those responsible for the decisions also responsible for finding a way to fund those decisions. Let's keep local taxes local! Vote YES on Amendment 3.

Rep. Sandra Barringer Mortham, Tallahassee

Banned in Clay County

Re: Clay County schools drop two books from reading list, Oct. 26.

I could not believe it when I saw that the lovely classic My Friend Flicka has been removed from the list for fifth- and sixth-grade students because "damn" appeared twice and "bitch" once. Also I was surprised that Abels Island had been removed because it referred to drinking wine.

I promptly consulted the 1979 Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. The definition for "bitch" was: 1.

female of dog, wolf, fox, etc. and 2.

bad or bad-tempered woman.

The definition for "damn" was: 1.

originally to condemn as guilty; 2.

to condemn as bad, inferior, often used as a curse; 3.

to criticize adversely; 4.

to ruin chances for success, to make fail; 5.

to swear at by saying "damn" as "he damned the weather."

If the people of Clay County want to be consistent in their extremes of censoring, they had better begin with Webster.

As far as Abels Island, if they are going to ban a book because it refers to drinking wine, they had better begin with the Bible. Look in Chapter 2 of the Gospel according to St. John. There you will find the story of the marriage in Cana of Galilee when Jesus Christ turned the water into wine because the family had no wine for the feast. This is not the only reference in the Good Book to the custom of drinking wine.

I am reminded of the late '20s and early '30s when the best plays and books were guaranteed readership by being banned in Boston.

Evelyn S. Drayton, Seminole

Pollution reducer

We all know that stop and go traffic gives us less mileage and spews more pollutants into our atmosphere. How can we cut down on the pollutants and use less fuel (which would ruin Saddam Hussein's day)? This will not be the definitive answer, but it sure would help.

If we could get the stop lights on our thoroughfares, such as U.S. 19, synchronized so as to allow traffic that approaches the speed limit to flow smoothly instead of stopping at each and every light, we could not only lessen traffic congestion but also diminish the fuel consumption and pollutants.

How could such a plan work? It would take a combination of acts such as: 1.Have those in charge of the timing of the lights break out their third grade math books and do some recalculating. 2.Have those interested drive at a speed that nears the posted speed limit.

This idea has a fair chance of working. Not only could this idea work, but it could possibly do away with those drivers that many complain about _ those that switch from lane to lane while hollering and making obscene gestures to other drivers! I say it could work, not that it will work. There is one key ingredient that is absolutely vital to this plan if it is to work at all. This key factor would be for those who have a propensity to seek the passing lane for no apparent reason (i.e. have no intention whatsoever to even near the posted speed limit, pass another vehicle, make a left turn-off within a reasonable distance or check their mirror to see how many cars are bogged down behind them) to please stay in the right lane.

It seems so little to ask and we might even see people trade in the "U.S. 19 Salute" for a "Have a Nice Day Wave"!

D. Condon, Palm Harbor

More pork-barreling

Re: Grant to restore Welk's home, Oct. 27.

Here is another example of pork-barreling that is hidden in the $52.2-billion agricultural appropriations bill that was passed by the House last Monday. I wonder how many of these expenditures are hidden from the American people in the various appropriation bills. How will we ever solve our budget problems when our elected officials are doing this to us? Our only recourse is at the polls where we must defeat people like Quentin Burdick.

James W. Gills, North Redington Beach

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