Letters to the Editor

President and Michelle Obama wave while walking down Pennsylvania Avenue Monday.
President and Michelle Obama wave while walking down Pennsylvania Avenue Monday. (FRANK FRANKLIN II / AP)
Posted: January 24, 2013

A chance at greatness

If President Obama wants a chance at greatness, he must not use the dysfunction of Congress or the unwillingness of the American public to accept the consequences of action on our debt and deficit as excuses for inaction ("A call to 'act in our time,'" Tuesday). Greatness will require leadership, not excuses, assessment of blame, or deflection. I know he has it in him to lead. The question is, will he choose to lead rather than blame?

Dennis Powell, Plymouth Meeting

Ticketing MLK Day volunteers

Our family participated in the 18th annual Martin Luther King Day of Service ("Volunteerism en masse," Tuesday). We gave blood, packed aid bags for shut-ins, and cleaned local streets, among other projects. We were quite surprised, however, when we left our children's school in Germantown, to find that we had received a parking ticket for an expired meter.

Given that the day was a federal, state, and city holiday, a day in which Philadelphia encourages service, we assumed that the Philadelphia Parking Authority would, too, honor the spirit of the day. Instead, it was business as usual.

The PPA offers parking discounts for Restaurant Week, as well as free parking for holiday shopping and various other times during the year. Why does the PPA give incentives to our residents to eat out and shop, but then write tickets for those giving of their time to make our city - and nation - a better place on such an important day? Surely we can do better than that.

Jennifer Kolker and Greg Condon, Philadelphia, jkolker@verizon.net

Change the gun culture

We regard disease as an enemy to be fought. But guns? Not really, even though, as Daniel Taylor notes, American children suffer about 15 times as many deaths from guns as they do from infection ("Guns are children's worst enemies," Monday).

Shouldn't that be a call to action?

The National Rifle Association proposes that we react to the slaughter of little children in Newtown, Conn., by placing armed guards at the door of every schoolhouse. That sounds more like spreading the disease than trying to cure it. NRA leaders should be required to read Taylor's article instead. So should every member of Congress.

I have no illusions that President Obama's commonsense proposals will bring an end to gun violence. But they're a starting point, and we can change. We stopped lynching African Americans more than half a century ago and have now even elected an African American as president - twice. We've changed our behavior in other amazing ways. Surely we're smart enough to change our culture of guns as well. Let's at least make a start.

Lynn Miller, Philadelphia, lynnm3@comcast.net

Admirable and courageous mayor

I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting Philadelphia. There is much to see and take in there, including history, music, and great basketball. However, I now have a new reason to visit: to shake the hand of Michael Nutter, who is perhaps the best big-city mayor in America.

Nutter has shown that he is a conscientious and passionate advocate for economic, educational, and environmental justice. His peerless leadership in taking the NRA to task for being an organization that cares more about profits for its donors than it does for American lives is admirable and courageous ("Nutter plans push to target gun trade," Jan. 16). I hope the people of Philadelphia are aware of the man they are fortunate to have running City Hall.

Pete Novakovic, Cleveland

Reasoned position on guns

Thank you for the most reasoned commentary that I have read recently regarding gun rights and America's violent gun crime ("Gun rights aren't the issue," Jan. 16). The points may be lost on politicians whose gun-control grandstanding has "little to do with the vast majority of gun deaths in America." However, fixing background checks, holding negligent dealers accountable, and clamping down on straw purchasers will save lives.

In 1978, I was protected from a three-person knifepoint robbery in Philadelphia by an associate who, unbeknownst to me, had a concealed-carry permit. Not a shot was fired. Our Second Amendment rights must remain intact so citizens may defend themselves with the weapon of their choosing against evildoers intent on doing harm.

Tom Messmer, Blue Bell

Willing to fight for Roe

With the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade this week, it is crucial to remember why the landmark case is necessary for the protection of women's reproductive rights and health. This ruling essentially granted women autonomy over their own bodies, as well as greater access to medically sound health care. The law enforces women's reproductive freedom and the right to choice, the right to say, "This is my body and I decide how to govern it." Not only is denial of health care to anyone unsafe; it is a failure of justice and a blatant violation of human rights. For these reasons, I proudly support Roe v. Wade and will fight to see it upheld in the future.

Kelsey Grimes, Philadelphia, kelsey.r.grimes@gmail.com

Disillusioned about unions

Growing up in New York, I would always hear my father speak of the benefits of belonging to a union. I subscribed to his position. However, in recent years, I am more than disillusioned because of what we are witnessing in Philadelphia ("Fresh fears of violence at nonunion building sites," Jan. 13). If union leaders do not want to be labeled "goons," they ought to mend their ways. My father was a deeply spiritual man totally committed to nonviolence; he would be mortified by the vandalism and arson at the construction site of a Quaker meetinghouse in Chestnut Hill. The irony is that this violence is directed at a religious community that is totally and completely dedicated to nonviolence. I'm glad my father is not around.

Peggy Devlin, Marlton

Slavery, profits, climate change

There's a parallel between the issue of climate change ("Climate activists are calling on Obama," Jan. 16) and the issues depicted in the movie Lincoln. Then, slave owners were being told to forgo the profits they anticipated from those held in bondage. Since they didn't let go willingly, it took the Civil War to bring about change.

Today, it's the profits that the fossil-fuel industry hopes for from coal, oil, and gas deposits that we cannot allow them to take, since burning fossil fuels is a major contributor to the climate chaos we're experiencing. This time, it's not an issue of justice, but of the survival of human civilization.

The costs of failing to take climate change seriously are very high - think of the billions in costs associated with Superstorm Sandy alone. The costs to repair are undoubtedly higher than the costs to prepare - by improving energy efficiency and transitioning rapidly to renewable sources such as sun and wind power, with a smart grid to allocate the energy where it's needed.

Sue Edwards, Swarthmore

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