Given the militaristic ambitions of the new axis of evil - North Korea, Iran, and China - the collapse in the capability of NATO's armed forces due to economic difficulty, and the Middle East tempest, we need to maintain our current levels of military spending. Most clearly, the Pentagon needs a leader who understands the multiple fronts that threaten us and who can lead an organization the size of the U.S. military.
Hagel neither understands the threat nor has he ever shown an ability to lead. He should be disqualified.
Michael B. Hudson, Pottstown
I cannot begin to understand the angst the students and staff of Germantown High School are experiencing after the recently announced closure of their school, along with others across the city ("March to save an area high school," Jan. 3). But I do understand the loss that the community will experience when this iconic building on Germantown Avenue closes. Germantown is already challenged by vacant and underused buildings. Adding the high school, which has served the community since 1914, is a tragedy.
The community is valiantly trying to rejuvenate its commercial district, and this closure would create a huge loss in the fabric of the historic core of Germantown. I urge the Philadelphia School District to reconsider so that we do not have hundreds of displaced students and staff, and another vacant building on Germantown Avenue.
Lucy Strackhouse, Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust
President Obama has said that addressing climate change is an "obligation" we cannot ignore. Let's hope that as he prepares to begin a second term, he is ready to fulfill that obligation by taking real action to reduce climate change ("U.S. shatters heat record," Wednesday).
Changing our communities to be more impregnable when it comes to extreme weather is much more complicated than regulating industrial carbon pollution. Building new infrastructure to adapt to destructive forces is backward-looking, and our country lacks the political will to raise the funding such retrofitting would require. Tackling industrial carbon pollution is the only real way to fix the larger problem of global climate change. It can be done with carbon regulations and new technology.
If we don't do something now, events like Sandy will become more common and more severe. I sincerely hope Congress gives Obama a fair chance to address the largest issue facing our planet today.
Ryan McKenna, Philadelphia, firstname.lastname@example.org
Off to Jersey
I agree with your call to raise Pennsylvania's gasoline tax ("Turnpike toll hike should drive more to E-ZPass," Wednesday). That's exactly the kind of incentive I need to make driving across the free Scudder Falls Bridge to buy much cheaper gas in New Jersey a regular weekly trip.
While I'm there I can easily buy all my wine and liquor (and beer, too!) at a privately owned liquor store, getting better service and selection (and better prices overall) than at Pennsylvania's fossilized State Store monopoly. And I might as well get groceries and have lunch while I'm there, right?
This plan's really going to work out for me. Too bad about all those folks who don't live close enough to a border to do the same (and too bad for the state budget). See the rest of you in the Garden State.
Lew Bryson, Langhorne
Yet another fiscal showdown is about to begin and Republicans are bent on holding the economy hostage again to get their way ("In defense of a debt showdown," Wednesday).
Republicans want to bully us into believing that cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and other dangerous budget cuts - taking food aid from hungry children, weakening education and food safety, and letting our bridges and roads crumble - are the only things we should be talking about.
The most serious economic challenge facing America is the jobs crisis, not the deficit or the national debt. We can't let the bullies in Congress use the debt ceiling as a weapon to hurt the middle class.
Art Hochner, Philadelphia