Objective review

It never hurts to fantasize in times of crisis. In the 1993 film

Dave,

the president's double, in an attempt to prevent service cuts, recruits an objective financial analyst to review the numbers. Relentless pork surgery yields a budget that cuts costs but not services. A similar initiative here might well reveal alternatives to closing libraries. Can the "Next Great City" shut down vital connection centers before exhausting every possible measure? No doubt Mayor Nutter would embrace less wrenching austerity measures.

Liz Levine

Philadelphia

» READ MORE: li.levine@yahoo.com

Easy criticism

Re: "Cheney's Legacy," last Sunday:

Sneering critiques of the Bush administration by Dick Polman and his ilk always remind me of the luxury political commentators have to endlessly critique decisions they will never have to make themselves.

Andy Horvath

Elverson

Shameless

It is abundantly clear that Vice President Cheney has undermined the essential principles of our Constitution and placed in jeopardy our reputation as that "City set upon a hill." I would simply ask Cheney the same question that was asked of Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the Red Scare, when the terror card was deceptively used for political expediency: Have you no shame?

Peter C. McVeigh

Oreland

» READ MORE: pmcveigh46@hotmail.com

Legacy's cost

In his defense of Dick Cheney's legacy, Paul Mirengoff points to the vice president's influence in toppling Saddam Hussein and the "protection of our homeland and preservation of innocent American lives. . . ." I won't dispute Cheney's sway in both areas, although I believe the two to be mutually exclusive. It's well and good we haven't suffered another direct attack here. But before highlighting Hussein's removal as a legacy-worthy accomplishment, I wish Mirengoff - and others - would consider the staggering human cost associated with it.

David Kaune

Phoenixville

Born to consume

Tirdad Derakshani ("The American cult of consumerism," last Sunday) is wrong to assert that unbridled consumerism was behind the "mob behavior" that led to the trampling death at the Long Island Wal-Mart. People act solely as individuals, and when one person stumbles, or pushes, because the present his child has to have is in short supply, then panic makes things get out of hand. The phenomenon we call civilization represents a form of consumerism - mankind's appropriation of everything for human purposes. The religious figures he cites, as admirable as their values might be, have less hold on our minds than the truism reflected by

carpe diem

. As Andrew Marvell put it: "At my back, I always hear, Time's winged chariot, hurrying near."

James Miles

Collingdale

» READ MORE: jxxphilly@rcn.com

Preventing abuse

Re: "Do more to end abuse of children," commentary, Dec. 18:

Any discussion about child abuse would be incomplete without mentioning that all too often, abuse and neglect start a cycle of violence that leads to more crime and more victims in the future. Being abused or neglected multiplies the risk a child will grow up to become abusive, hostile or violent. Some will become criminals. One program that lessens risk factors - including unprepared parents with no support system, poverty, drug and alcohol dependency - for committing abuse and neglect is the Nurse-Family Partnership program, which operates in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. This program provides first-time, at-risk, single mothers with in-home coaching from trained nurses during pregnancy and until their children are 2 years old. The impact of the program has been impressive. Despite the struggling economy, state and federal officials must invest more in family-strengthening programs like this.

Lynne Abraham

District Attorney of Philadelphia

Ducking shoes

What's the big deal about the Iraqi journalist shoe thrower? Figuratively speaking, President Bush has been ducking shoes for eight years, mostly from the left. At least the Iraqi had the guts to do it for real. Mr. Bush has handled this issue with the respect and honor worthy of his office, and for this he is to be commended.

Tom Wetten

Bensalem