Letters to the editor
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Santorum has the power to get the job done for us
The PG endorsement of Bob Casey Jr. is no great surprise ("Casey for Senate: Santorum Exemplifies the Worst of Washington," Oct. 22). However, it is a shame that the hometown newspaper of the third-ranking senator in the United States does not acknowledge what it means to the region to have the third-ranking senator represent this state.
We all know about the 911th Airlift Wing that Sen. Rick Santorum worked to save. Sen. Santorum secured funding for educational programs at the Pittsburgh Symphony, the African American Cultural Center, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, the National Aviary, the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
Sen. Santorum also has secured more than $11 million for adult stem-cell research, helping to transform Pittsburgh from a steel town into a biotechnology research leader.
Additionally, he was instrumental in funding of the renovations to the Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs Hospital, construction of a parking facility at the hospital and increased operational funding, which has resulted in vastly improved patient care.
The PG said Bob Casey Jr. could do those things, also. He may want to do those things but he will not be able to get them done, because he will be a freshman senator. I plan on supporting Sen. Rick Santorum because he has been a true fighter for Pittsburgh and we all have benefited from his efforts.
So the PG endorsed Bob Casey Jr. for senator ... what a surprise! And what an endorsement. About 70 percent of your editorial was about Sen. Rick Santorum.
Let's review what you cite about Mr. Casey. He and Mr. Santorum are about the same on Iraq, pro-gun, pro-death penalty and anti-abortion.
Mr. Casey has no clue concerning Social Security and wants to do something about health care. And, of course, the coup de grace -- he wants to increase the minimum wage! That will solve all the nation's problems.
He has political experience but no legislative experience. Let's face it: Bob Casey doesn't have the guts to tell us how he will make a difference. That is probably why the PG endorsed him; he will be a faithful foot soldier for the Democrats.
Surprise: The PG did not endorse Rick Santorum. But you might have had the decency to acknowledge that the weary slurs trotted out yet again have all been answered. If you find the answers lacking, you have an obligation to acknowledge the answers and identify any weakness. The fact that you did not do so points to the hypocrisy of the PG, not Rick Santorum.
Take, for example, the tired charge that Mr. Santorum's residence situation as senator is just like Doug Walgren's. When Mr. Santorum ran against Mr. Walgren for the House, he correctly pointed out that Mr. Walgren did not live in the district, or in Pennsylvania. When Mr. Santorum represented his district in the House, he lived in the district. When he was elected to the Senate, the situation changed: He no longer represented one district but the whole state -- and promised to visit every county every year (a promise kept).
There's another difference: The Senate is in session 70 to 80 days per year more than the House -- a huge difference for a family with young children. A weekly commute from Pittsburgh would take a toll on the family and on his commitment to visit every county. The Santorums did the responsible thing as parents: Like many Senate families, they got a second residence in the D.C. area. That residence does not replace the Penn Hills home -- where they vote, pay their taxes, serve jury duty and maintain their official residence.
The PG knows these facts and ignores them, yet charges hypocrisy?
Likewise the silliness about using the Pennsylvania cyber school: The Santorums are lifelong residents of Pennsylvania, where they vote and pay taxes. By what state should their children be educated?
It's bad enough to distort his record. Why make his family a political football?
Limit their terms
In your article regarding the loss of influence and federal dollars if one or both houses of Congress is captured by the Democrats ("Would Incumbents' Defeat Cost State Dollars?" Oct. 22), the importance of seniority is, of course, pivotal.
In that light, I think term limits for incumbents would enforce an equitable distribution of influence in committees, etc., as "lifelong politicians" could not accumulate power.
I find it repugnant that power is rewarded to representatives on the basis of length of service and should even be a consideration when I cast my ballot. Two or three terms is plenty of time to develop "expertise" on a topic/law, particularly given the research and staff resources available to each representative.
Term limits represent a simple solution to the problems associated with seniority-based power, influence and pork-barrel politics.
PATRICK K. STROH
The American way
Waa, waa, waa. Poor David Bear, the PG's travel editor, had to listen to advertising on a recent US Airways flight. Waa, waa, waa ("Must US Airways Practice Its Hard-Sell Pitches on a Captive Audience?" Oct. 22 column).
Let's get real, Mr. Bear. Advertising is a way of life in America today. Do you ever watch television? Listen to radio? Drive along a highway? I also noticed that there seems to be a whole bunch of those annoying, pesky ads in your newspaper, too. I bet those ads pay your salary.
In recent years the Post-Gazette editorial staff has never hesitated to bash the "old" US Airways for "price gouging" Pittsburghers with its high fares. Now that they're as low or lower than Southwest's, there must be something else to complain about.
Perhaps, instead, you should welcome these innovative ideas that help US Airways make money while still offering these low fares. Next time, just pretend it's a safety announcement, and you'll probably never hear a thing.
The writer is a US Airways employee.
I have seen and read Rush Limbaugh's ignorant and outrageous remarks about Michael J. Fox's condition and Mr. Limbaugh's allegation that he was faking the symptoms in Mr. Fox's recent TV spot in support of stem-cell research ("Limbaugh's Shots at Fox Put Him Back at Center Stage," Oct. 26).
I can only conclude 1) that Mr. Limbaugh has never witnessed the terrible effects of Parkinson's disease firsthand; 2) that if he has, he is even more crude, insensitive and vicious than I already thought; and/or 3) he himself is off whatever medication he is now legally or illegally taking.
I expect that others, like I, who witness the ravages of the disease on close friends or family members share my outrage and disgust at the remarks of Mr. Limbaugh. He owes a full apology to all those suffering from Parkinson's disease.
Two simple steps could help safeguard these elections
Safeguarding the integrity of elections is fundamentally an American value and should be a nonpartisan effort. Paper ballots with routine audits are among the best safeguards available for electronic elections. Voter verification of paper records for audits and recounts strengthens confidence in our elections.
Last month in Washington, D.C., a majority of congressional representatives vouched support for HR 550, the voter-verified paper record bill. While awaiting passage of this legislation, Pennsylvania officials should take two steps to help safeguard our elections for November.
Parallel testing of voting machines on Election Day is a way to audit the accuracy of the software on Election Day. It is inexpensive and doable for November's election. In parallel testing a video camera documents the test votes cast by volunteers and at the end of the day a comparison is made of the votes cast with the votes tallied. The process is intended to catch vote fraud.
Additionally, our county should verify that the software on our voting machines is that certified by the state. Counties across our nation receive their voting machines from overseas manufacturers without verifying the software. Software verification should occur before and after each election.
These steps toward safeguarded elections would be unnecessary if we had voter-verified paper ballots with routine audits. But until we do have transparency in elections with meaningful audits and recounts, our county should make every effort to enhance the confidence of the voters.
The letter also was signed by Douglas Shields, City Council president; Tonya Payne and William Peduto, City Council members; Chuck Martoni, County Council member; Bob Hillen, chairman, and Joe Weinroth, vice chairman, Republican Committee of Pittsburgh; and Jim Roddey, former Allegheny County chief executive.
First Published October 29, 2006 12:00 am