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Specter's move shows he serves himself

Congratulations, Mr. Specter. Your cowardly decision to change parties has broken your contract with not only me but also every other Pennsylvanian who voted for you in the last election ("Specter Stuns Senate by Switching Parties," April 29). This brazen move is nothing more than a survival tactic that proves, once again, in your eyes it's all about you.

Your move has the added benefit of disenfranchising more than half of our country's citizens by giving the current administration a filibuster-proof majority. So much for checks and balances. I'm sure you will get a cushy chairmanship on a committee, as that's the way Washington works. It's not about serving your constituents but just about serving yourself.

To my fellow Pennsylvanians, I say, is this really what we want? Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, can't we all agree that a turncoat is someone we don't want representing us? What does this say about Mr. Specter's character?

In the upcoming weeks we will all see Mr. Specter's attempts to explain this move as being due to his conscience. He will throw the Republican Party under the bus and blame it on the far-right mentality. However, we all know this is just a shameless move by a career politician.

To Mr. Specter: Shame on you, sir. To my fellow Pennsylvanians: Can't we do better than keeping this self-serving individual in office?

BRIAN K. FOSTER
Mt. Lebanon


Single-issue GOP

Sen. Arlen Specter did not leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left him. For the past two decades, the GOP has painted itself into a political corner. It has become a single-issue party -- anti-abortion. All other issues have become secondary. It ignores moderate conservatives and no longer deserves their support.

RALPH HORST
New Kensington


Degree's context

Bishop David Zubik's comments on Notre Dame's upcoming honorary degree for President Barack Obama ("Bishop Says Notre Dame Wrong to Honor Obama," April 23) are a clear example of the modern lack of perspective and the willful ignorance shown constantly by those on the far right. Even intelligent people can fall for single-issue politics, as the bishop has demonstrated well.

If Notre Dame were honoring Mr. Obama for his policies, he'd be given this accolade at the end of his term, but rather it is choosing to give Mr. Obama this distinction at the beginning of his term, which clearly says to anyone paying attention that the university intends to note the historic and unique event this is for the millions of black Roman Catholics around the world and, yes, even the black Pittsburgh Catholics for whom Bishop Zubik is supposed to be speaking.

Mr. Obama's presidency, when examined from a historic viewpoint, is a major point of pride for all Americans. After all, he's not merely the 44th president of the United States of America, but the first black one. Bishop Zubik should consider context before trying to lead his flock.

DAN SHEVOCK
Swissvale


Appropriate honor

It was with sadness that I read about Bishop David Zubik's position on the commencement address and awarding of an honorary degree by the University of Notre Dame to President Barack Obama ("Bishop Says Notre Dame Wrong to Honor Obama," April 23). As a graduate of Notre Dame, I believe the bishop misses the mark.

When my daughter applied to Notre Dame some years ago, as part of the application process, she was to write a report on one of a selection of books. She chose "Letter from the Birmingham Jail" by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In it, Dr. King envisions an America that is a better place by advancing the acceptance and equality of all of America's people. It is inspiring. Including this book as part of the admission process speaks volumes for the university about its mission of promoting unity among all Americans regardless of race, color or creed.

Now the university has invited the president to deliver the commencement address. Barack Obama is the fulfillment of the dream of Dr. King as he wrote the letter from the Birmingham jail years ago. President Obama has persuaded a majority of Americans to look beyond race in electing him to lead our nation. He has restored our international relationships, recognized science as fact-based and nonpolitical and disavowed torture.

As a non-Catholic, Mr. Obama may hold different religious beliefs and is free to do so. The university is and should be proud to honor this president.

JOHN F. BECKER
Green Tree


Safer walking

I am writing to address the issue of pedestrian safety. I am so happy the Pittsburgh police finally are taking this seriously and taking action.

I am a Pittsburgher who has dealt with this problem for quite a while. I have always taken the bus and have to use the city crosswalks, for years encountering the problem of not being safe due to drivers speeding and not caring about my safety. Their concern is to get to their destination, but we need to also arrive at ours -- having the right to feel safe doing so!

I deal with this often in Oakland, where drivers speed, not letting pedestrians walk, either by blocking our crosswalks or seeing us walking and nearly hitting us. I have a friend who got severely injured in Oakland near Montefiore hospital. Every time I cross there, I remember this and am scared. I hope the police continue to monitor Oakland.

LAURA ANNE STUKUS
Squirrel Hill


Judge for yourself

As editorial director of Monthly Review Press and also a former professor at Pitt-Johnstown, I was delighted to see Sally Kalson's article "Chavez's Gift Gives Surprising Boost to Book" (April 21). The book was published by our press and has been a steady seller for nearly four decades. I used the book as a teacher, and it always opened students' eyes.

I was amused and not a little irritated by the rather casual dismissal of the book by one of Pitt's professors. The dependency theory he refers to is really a theory of imperialism. To reject the theory, one would have to deny that the United States is an imperialist power, something no serious scholar does.

The rise of the Asian Tigers certainly does nothing to disprove the theory. It was the very closeness of these countries to the United States that allowed them to "take off," although their circumstances these days surely take some of the shine off that term. South Korea, for example, benefited enormously from its support for the war the United States waged, with maximum brutality and a horrendous death count, in Vietnam.

The Monthly Review Press wishes to thank Ms. Kalson for her interesting and informative piece. And we encourage people to read Eduardo Galeano's book and form their own opinions.

MICHAEL D. YATES
Boulder, Colo.


Postal kudos

As another longtime resident of the area, I would like to take exception to Mike Hudak's assessment of the service at the West Mifflin/Pleasant Hills post office ("The Postal Service Needs More Counter Help," April 25 letters).

The service has been consistently good since they moved from the rinky-dink building in Pleasant Hills. The postal employees who work at the counter are professional and helpful. They should be commended.

JAMES D. KINGSLEY
Jefferson Hills


The last thing any household needs is more guns

The "gun" subject has been run into the ground. I have to admit, I was itching to write a letter but decided that some very good arguments had been made. Then on April 27, the Post-Gazette ran a front-page story "Gun Sales at Record Levels." Oh, please! Gun owners are buying more guns.

Is there really a reason for this? Hunters and law enforcement notwithstanding, does an ordinary citizen need more than one or two guns? Maybe he imagines himself with a gun in each hand, Clint Eastwood-style, going after the bad guys. That's a generous thought and, I'm sure, totally inaccurate.

Everyone knows, of course, that gun owners are afraid their guns will be taken away from them. So they buy more. Buying more weapons and stashing them away means there are more dangers at hand in households where there are children. That's a proven fact. And with the present state of the economy, how does a man justify spending money on guns when he already has a supply of them?

Maybe I just have the wrong picture in my mind. But I cringe at the thought of a guy with a stockpile of guns. That's not a masculine image. What is manly, though, is a man who doesn't own a gun. I guess that's becoming a rare breed.

MARGIE SWANSON
Beaver


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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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