Letters to the editor

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Obama as generous? That's a good one, PG

I was astounded that the Post-Gazette would print such a ridiculous editorial as "Obama's Generosity: The Senator Gives the Clintons Their Moment" (Aug. 18).

First, the editorial notes how it "is not unprecedented" to have politicians of their stature play a role at a convention. So, honestly, the Post-Gazette's opinion that Barack Obama is being "generous" is comical.

Second, to suggest politicians as politically savvy as the Clintons would "double-cross" Mr. Obama is absurd. They are not a pair of juveniles and, of course, recognize the significance of the event.

Finally, the Post-Gazette mentions the primary run and how ungenerous Mrs. Clinton was in letting go. Well, I think that was very petty and would personally like to see the Post-Gazette try to peddle that argument at the Olympic Games. Go tell the athletes behind the one currently ahead to just drop out.

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama were in a race to represent our country. As a citizen, I want the winner of that race to be the best and brightest, not the winner by default because the others quit. Mrs. Clinton narrowly lost her bid for the nomination and that is on her. Likewise, Mr. Obama will have no one to blame for his loss but himself.

Point Breeze

One of many

The Aug. 15 editorial "Right Moves: The United States Must Use Caution in the Caucasus" is on target.

Instead of name-calling (as we verbally attacked everything French, including not-so-French "fries"), we could have considered how the rest of the world viewed our aggression in Iraq. As you noted, the oil and Republican connection in both incidents also should be apparent.

This time, death and suffering of innocent civilians is news. Did (and do) innocent Iraqi civilians not suffer? Was "shock and awe" just another version of Olympian fireworks to be viewed from a distance, to be celebrated? When the United States began its idealistic journey, our founders stated that we are "one nation" -- they recognized "one of many" sharing this earth. It is most critical to renew that recognition.

Who decides what circumstances warrant military attacks? And where the incident begins -- with the "action" or the political and economic instigation?

If the Russian attack is anywhere a "high crime," we should consider that our founders provided impeachment for "high crimes" undertaken by our presidents.

West View

Drivers' sins

Kristen Debbis, in her Aug. 17 Issue One letter ("Biking Scofflaws"), attributes all manner of behaviors to cyclists, including running red lights (yes), going 15 to 20 mph under the speed limit and riding next to, but not on, the sidewalks. The first is obviously illegal; the second two are legal, but perhaps intended as excuses to argue bikes should be banned from the roads.

On a local blog we just had a discussion involving 80 different comments back and forth on the subject. Bicyclists confessed their sins. Glaringly missing was the fact that car/SUV/motorcycle drivers did not also confess their sins. I don't believe there is a driver out there who does not drive at least occasionally at 26 (or more) mph in a 25-mph zone or 56 (or more) mph in a 55-mph zone, or who fails to come to a complete stop at a stop sign (at least occasionally). In terms of strict lawbreaking these behaviors are illegal. The difference is we expect this lawbreaking behavior; in fact, we are annoyed by "slow" drivers and people who dawdle at stop signs.

Ms. Debbis said she is worried a bike will come flying out of nowhere and hit her when she is making a turn. Well, most bicycles are not moving more than 20 mph, so for a bicycle to appear out of nowhere means you were talking on a cell phone or applying makeup or doing something else that distracted you.

Everyone, please concentrate on driving when you drive.

Stanton Heights

Accept cyclists

Regarding "When Bicyclists Break the Safety Chain, Driver Complaints Mount" (Aug. 18): A lot of the car-bike tension in Pittsburgh is simply due to the rarity of bicycles here. Compared with many foreign cities, we have few bike lanes here, and many Pittsburgh drivers act strangely around bicyclists, braking and swerving excessively, as if they'd encountered a horse!

Car drivers should accept the bicyclists, respect cyclists' right to be on the roads, drive more predictably, use turn signals and get out on their own bicycles now and then so that they'll understand why bicyclists might be swerving to dodge a pothole or riding in the middle of a lane to avoid the gravel and refuse-clogged gutter.

Meanwhile, the bicyclists should use lights at night and respect stop lights. That's what I do.


Dictating beliefs

I am writing in regard to the dictated beliefs of religion in China. I, myself, am not a very religious person, but I still think everyone has the right to believe in any religion. It was reported that when President Bush visited the church services at the Beijing Kuanjie Protestant Christian Church with his family, it was considered a provocative act in a country where Christians are limited by law to worship at state-approved churches ("Bush Pushes China's Leaders on Religious, Political Freedom," Aug. 11).

All I can think about is if a person from the United States so happens to go to China for educational or business reasons, he or she would be limited in their religious beliefs, by law.

It is not fair to the U.S. citizens who visit or stay in China for long periods of time, or to the Chinese, to be restricted in their religious beliefs. Mr. Bush has spoken to China's leaders about religious and political freedom, and China's President Hu Jintao has hinted that the Chinese government planned to widen the religious freedom. The country should do it on their own without needing a leader from another country to push them to do it.

Castle Shannon

Nutrition first

While we applaud the decision of the Pittsburgh Public Schools to offer free breakfast to all students in the district ("Most City Students Will Eat for Free This Term," Aug. 18), its offer will be only as valuable as the quality of the food it serves.

Overly sugary cereals and pancakes are not going to nourish children effectively or help them settle down for their morning classes; likewise, fruit juice is essentially sugar water with vitamin C. Less highly sweetened cereals with a higher whole-grain content, whole-grain toast or bagels with cream cheese, instead of doughnuts and muffins, and actual whole fruit, like bananas, apples and oranges, instead of juices, would go a long way toward improving the ability of children to learn and teachers to teach.

If the quality of the food being offered to students could be improved, the real benefits of breakfast could be enjoyed by both students and teachers.

Squirrel Hill

Easy access to guns is a huge factor in the carnage

Regarding the Aug. 19 letter "Violence Will Cease When Communities Stop It" by Terry R. Minor: The major factor in the handgun violence equation is easy access to guns. We have more permissive gun laws than other industrialized democracies and as a result we have higher gun homicide rates. Mr. Minor seems to be more concerned that no one interfere with his ability to play with his AK-47 than he is about the murder of children and adults by handguns (including AK-47s).

The common-sense solution is to make it more difficult to obtain handguns for criminals and others who cannot legally possess them.

Increasing witness cooperation is a good idea but not the only solution. Handguns are also used in nonstreet crimes including suicides, spousal murders, mass school shootings and accidental shootings. The common factor among these crimes is easy access to firearms. While it is nearly impossible to intervene in the idea and planning stages of a crime, we can prevent most killings by intervening at the acquisition stage. If a would-be criminal cannot acquire a firearm, the criminal or child lacking judgment cannot implement the plan.

People have been complaining for years about the nonstop flow of illegal handguns because the National Rifle Association has blocked all efforts to pass sensible handgun laws. The NRA may now stop its scare tactics because, as we have been saying all along, the Supreme Court's Heller decision confirms that reasonable restrictions on the sale of handguns do not infringe on Second Amendment rights. The gun homicides are not going to stop until the community takes the initiative to urge our legislators to enact sensible handgun laws (like reporting lost or stolen firearms) and to forgo financial support from special-interest groups that don't care about the carnage occurring in our communities.

Highland Park

We welcome your letters. Please include your name, address and phone number, and send to Letters to the Editor, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222. E-mail letters to letters@post-gazette.com or fax to 412-263-2014. Letters should be 250 words or less, original and exclusive to the Post-Gazette. All letters are subject to editing for length, clarity and accuracy and will be verified before being published.


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