Letters to the editor

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If you believe in Hillary, you'll vote for Obama

I've recently read that 50 percent of Hillary Clinton's supporters are not voting for Barack Obama.

There are about 25 percent choosing to vote for John McCain. The other 25 percent have not made up their minds, are not voting, are writing in Hillary's name or are throwing their votes away on Ralph Nader. I guess 50 percent of those who said they were Hillary supporters were only voting for her because she was a woman. They obviously were not voting for her because they believed in her policies.

During the primaries, the late Tim Russert, Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh all said Hillary and Obama were exactly the same on policy.

Those actually putting their support behind Obama are the only "true" Hillary supporters. The reason they are supporting him is because they supported Hillary's policies and view of our country. As someone who watched every primary debate, both Democratic and Republican, I can tell you Hillary's view of the world and John McCain's view are very different. If you believe in anything Hillary Clinton actually stood for, you would not be voting for John McCain.

Four years from now you can look back and see we went to war with Iran, saw Roe v. Wade overturned and watched big oil get rich while we lost jobs and our economy crumbled. Or you can say that you supported Hillary Clinton, supported universal health care, supported bringing our troops home, supported restoring our global standing and achieved this by electing Barack Obama!

Mount Washington

No way

Does Sen. Barack Obama believe that millions of Hillary Clinton's supporters will automatically vote for him? Does he believe that American women have such poor memories that they will not recall Joe Biden's contemptible and appalling treatment of the magnificent professor Anita Hill during the confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas?

Will I, the undersigned, a lifelong Democrat, vote for the ticket of Obama/Biden? Check out the weather reports for hell for an answer.


Awful cartoon

I would like to denounce the disgusting cartoon by Jerry Holbert of the Boston Herald -- "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Rants" at the Democratic convention -- which the PG published Aug. 16.

It happens that I am a Barack Obama supporter. I also am a feminist who raised three feminist daughters. No matter who votes for whom, the disgraceful depiction of these women reminds me of Rush Limbaugh referring to women as "feminazis."

I thought the notion that women are equal to men has been an accepted American value for years. If the Democrats hope to win the election, this type of disrespectful depiction of feminists or Hillary Clinton supporters will not further that goal.


Religion problem

Columnist Ruth Ann Dailey saw the "Saddleback" forum as part of a tradition of religious freedom going back to Roger Williams ("At Saddleback, the Wall Stands Firm," Aug. 18). To many of us, it seems a further erosion of those very freedoms.

Ms. Dailey claims that the "wall of separation" is still intact; there is nothing to fear. Really? Is she aware that branches of the military are currently being sued for religious discrimination? That the Bush administration has given millions of dollars to sectarian organizations, much of which did not end up used for secular purposes? Has she forgotten that a few weeks ago, the influential James Dobson attacked Barack Obama, not for his politics but as a heretic? That in 2006, John McCain, who once stood up to the Religious Right as divisive bigots, had to crawl back to the chief bigot, Jerry Falwell, to appease the Republican base?

Considering all that, the last thing we need in this campaign is a self-proclaimed spokesman for a deity convening a "forum" to ask questions -- a forum that the candidates felt they must attend or risk political suicide. It is none of the electorate's business what, if any, religion a candidate espouses. Ms. Dailey doesn't see this as a problem.

One wonders if she'd see a problem if her employment were being determined by people judging not her work, but her creed. The very fact that Ms. Dailey and much of mainstream media don't see a problem is part of the problem.


The greatest danger

The condemnation by President Bush of Russia's aggression against Georgia must be considered extremely hypocritical. After all, it was Mr. Bush who ordered the unprovoked aggression against Iraq leading to an occupation that has lasted more than five years.

Human rights groups are justified in condemning Russian actions that have forced thousands of Georgians to leave their homes. However, it must be remembered that Mr. Bush's war has resulted in millions of Iraqis leaving their homes.

What is most important, however, is that Russian and American cooperation on the issue of nuclear weapons be renewed and not be damaged by the present crisis. More funding and action is needed on the Nunn-Lugar program for Cooperative Threat Reduction, which involves securing nuclear weapons in Russia and elsewhere. The United States and Russia must agree to remove all nuclear weapons from hair-trigger alert. Negotiations should start leading to new treaties requiring further reductions of the huge U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. We must never forget that nuclear weapons represent the greatest danger to humanity.

Squirrel Hill

The writer is University Professor of Physics at Carnegie Mellon University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Lauding the best

Your Aug. 23 front-page tribute to American Bryan Clay was outstanding. Those 11 photographs accurately conveyed why the winner of the Olympic decathlon should be called the world's greatest athlete. His excellence in 10 track and field events may have yielded only one gold medal, but it may have been the best example of the true ideals and spirit of the Olympics.


The real China

Now that China has shown that it can do glamour and glitz with the best of us, perhaps it would be time to see the movie "Up the Yangtze." This is an award-winning documentary that shows the true picture of the communist, totalitarian state China really is. The good of the state supersedes the basic rights of the ordinary citizen.

If you don't choke up when the man says, "It is not good to be human," then maybe you need a cardiac check to see if you really have a heart.


Adults in every way but the drinking age

I am writing in regard to James F. Cataldi's letter about lowering the drinking age to 18 ("The Ivory Tower Gets It Wrong Again," Aug. 22). The Nixon-McGovern analogy he uses (he noted that 85 percent of professors voted for McGovern) is inappropriate. Voting for a given candidate in an election is not (or should not) be based on the "bandwagon" approach, i.e., if most people plan to vote for Nixon, well, then I'd better vote Nixon too. The analogy Mr. Cataldi presents only shows the professors thinking for themselves and sticking to their own personal principles.

This may very well apply to the present debate regarding underage drinking. While it is debatable whether lowering or reducing the drinking age would actually reduce the amount of alcohol consumed by 18- to 21-year-olds (I tend to think it would, simply because the "outlaw" allure of ingesting a forbidden substance would no longer be relevant), the point is that an 18-year-old can vote, sign legally binding contracts, purchase tobacco and operate a 2,000-pound vehicle (even a 16-year-old can), but is not permitted to consume alcohol. This makes no sense.

If an adult decides that he wants to get drunk and put his health at risk, that's his decision, and I have no interest in the matter (unless, of course, he then decides to operate a motor vehicle, but that's an entirely different situation). It is absurd that, among a spate of killings, rapes and other violent crimes, people can be prosecuted for consuming a beverage.


We receive more letters than we can fit into the limited space on the editorial page, so we'd like to share some additional letters with our Post-Gazette Web site readers.

People, not guns, are the problem

The ubiquitous "AK-47" that Jana Finder mentions multiple times in her letter is a rifle, not a handgun, as she describes it ("Easy Access to Guns Is a Huge Factor in the Carnage," Aug. 25 letters). Suicides and accidental shootings aren't "crimes" either.

More important than that, however, is the following: Her incorrect and repeated reference to the "easy access to guns" that she complains of. I have no idea as to where Ms. Finder was in the years prior to 1968, possibly not yet born; however, prior to 1968, all manner of firearms could be purchased mail-order, the only question asked being shipping address.

As I recall, regarding what was really the "ready access to firearms" (and I worked in Pittsburgh in 1956), one didn't hear about school shootings, nor do I recall hearing mention of drive-by shootings, which leads to the following conclusion about today's situation, which Ms. Finder and others decry: It's a people problem, not a guns problem.

"Gun control" as usually offered and proposed will not properly address the problem, for gun control does one thing and only one thing: It attacks the rights and prerogatives of the law-abiding. Why on earth would anyone proffer such misdirected action remains an unanswered question.


Why hand out more money to be abused?

As I read the report the Post-Gazette requested on absentee problems at the Port Authority, I almost laughed at the findings ("Absentees at Port Authority Cost Plenty," Aug. 4).

Surprise! The workers are abusing sick days, are tardy and are costing the Port Authority loads of money. Yet the restaurant and hospitality industry is still being forced to bail out the transit authority. Why weren't these issues handled before they had to dip into another industry's pockets?

I am part of the industry that is feeling the pinch because the Port Authority has not been able to handle its own financial problems. Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato should've helped the Port Authority redefine its policies instead of putting more money into its hands to abuse.


Fear will win at the polls

"Obama can't close the deal." "He can't get over 50 percent." Political pundits can't make sense of the polls! They won't tell you the truth, but I will.

America will vote its heritage and march like a Frankenstein mob to the polls on Election Day chanting, "No 'strange fruit' in the White House."

With a gun slung over one shoulder, a rope coiled over the other one -- with a noose at its end -- and a Bible clutched in the other hand, they'll somehow pull the lever for the continuation of the raping of the Constitution, big oil economics and jingoistic insanity.

How else could a 10-plus percentage of reasonable people believe Barack Obama is a Muslim? It is an abysmal ignorance that votes out of fear. No "strange fruit" in the White House!


Hollow promises

What if the United States started a war and didn't show up? John McCain and George W. Bush inspired Georgia's ill-fated rebellion by offering that small democracy the false hope that if it stood up to Russian hegemony the United States would support it.

This would be an absolutely disastrous policy if the United States were physically able to commit troops to satisfy the web of entangled alliances to which it has become committed (despite caveats to the contrary by the Founding Fathers).

As the United States has no immediate capability to deliver a fighting force of any size anywhere in the world because of previous and foolish commitments (Iraq), and as Russia is not a threat to the United States outside its limited sphere of influence, the Bush-McCain policy of making hollow promises to struggling countries is an embarrassment, counterproductive and one of the best arguments for electing Barack Obama the next president that I can think of.


Ugly behavior by arrogant motorists

It is so infuriating to read the recent letters written about "scofflaw" bicyclists. The slightest mention of helping bicyclists and pedestrians and the complaints by motorists come out as if there were a huge epidemic of vicious bikers and walkers. Motorists are apparently jealous of seeing others exercise the same "freedom" to disregard the law as they have come to enjoy with impunity.

For every infraction seen of cyclists and walkers there are tens of thousands of motorists breaking the law! I can't think of any road I've recently traveled where the motorists are not rampantly speeding, running red lights, rolling through stop signs or ignoring frustrated pedestrians in crosswalks. Please, motorists, turn as scrutinizing an eye toward your own behavior as you do toward cyclists and pedestrians! If you were brave enough, you would quickly see that most motorists are breaking the law, and it is only the few who are obeying.

Ask any school crossing guard or worker in a road construction zone about the consideration motorists have for the safety of others.

Motorists are so intent in racing to work or their next destination that they show no regard for safety! It is a rare time when traffic moves calmly and with consideration for others. (Granted, I do see many isolated instances every day, but they are the exceptions, not the other way around.) It is frustrating to see every street turned into a superhighway for the benefit of the selfish motorist.

I think the recent letters are representative of the arrogance of motorists, that they are above reproach and that no obstacle -- construction, person, child or bike -- should impede their path or delay their most important travel. Please end this absurdity. Our streets are dangerous and ugly because of this.


Rushing the end of summer

I am 77 years old and I have a great-granddaughter who started her first day of school Monday, a full week prior to the Labor Day holiday.

Whatever happened to summer?

When I went to school, Labor Day marked the end of summer, and we all knew that the day after Labor Day was the first day back to school for everyone. My family always planned for that last summer fling and we would go to Atlantic City for our summer vacation and drive back on Labor Day just in time for that first day back to school on Tuesday morning. Everyone knew that was the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. Grade schools, high schools and colleges all kept to that schedule.

So, what went wrong? When did the people in charge of our educational systems decide that what had worked for generations wasn't good enough for them ?

Families can no longer plan for that "last summer fling." Local swimming pools shut down in the middle of August because the college kids who work as lifeguards now have to return to college because some educational genius changed the rules without regard for the effect it would have on all the people who would have liked to enjoy the swimming pools for those last couple of weeks in the height of the summer heat.

Are the last two weeks of August so vital to the educational system that everyone's summer has to be prematurely terminated to accommodate academia? I don't think so; it wasn't that way when I went to school, but I don't know what I can do about it, except to write this letter and perhaps stir up some similar feelings in others who may have more of an influence in matters of this sort.

School boards and educational administrators need to re-evaluate their decisions to start the school year before the summer has ended. They have spoiled things for many of us and that error should be rectified.


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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