Appoint Pa. judges
In his commentary ("Appoint? Objection!" May 4) Michael R. Dimino correctly points out that "the choice of judge makes a huge difference." But then he wrongly argues for the continued election of judges in Pennsylvania. Thankfully, even he has the good sense to admit that "elections are not perfect" and that "many voters do not know the names of judicial candidates, let alone the distinctions between them."
Why would we want our judges chosen by uninformed voters? Why would we want them chosen by a small number of voters? Studies show that few people vote in judicial elections, and that those who do usually can't remember who they voted for or why they voted for that person. This is no way to choose judges.
Judicial selection in Pennsylvania has worked in spite of and not because of the judicial election system with its attendant flaws, including partisan politics, the presence of powerful influence groups, and the need to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.
The Philadelphia Bar Association supports Gov. Rendell's proposal to enact a non-elective, merit-based judicial selection system. We applaud him and sponsoring legislators for championing this reform because we believe that the judiciary must be separate and distinct from the other branches of government. Judges should not be subject to political whims and passions of the moment.
The proposals for merit selection provide a good balance of citizen involvement and the check of retention elections while eliminating most of the drawbacks of the electoral system.
Jane Leslie Dalton
Philadelphia Bar Association
Evolution is a fact
In the Republican presidential debate on MSNBC, three of the candidates expressed something shocking. Asked if anyone on the stage "does not believe in evolution," Sen. Sam Brownback, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Rep. Tom Tancredo raised their hands. That alone should spell an immediate end to their respective candidacies. It indicates their minds have been so poisoned by religious literalism that they have lost touch with reality.
There is no debate within the scientific community regarding the validity of the theory of evolution by natural selection. It is unfortunate that a handful of religious extremists have created the illusion, in the public sphere, that there is anything to discuss as far as science is concerned.
I submit that this is a clear case of faith having overstepped its bounds. Your faith should not require you to deny overwhelming empirical fact. As prominent Harvard biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Edward O. Wilson have insisted, there is no necessary conflict between religion and science, presuming the former deals with the "why" and the latter with the "how."
Poverty is our fault?
From his satirical tone one can deduce Joe Queenan believes the rest of us do not think about the poor with sufficient beating of breasts, tearing of hair, etc. ("Hey, poor people: Blame yourselves!" commentary, May 3). But I don't understand what it is he would have us do.
Obviously, he would have us do something, since the poor themselves cannot be held responsible for their plight. They never are. To make oneself accountable for one's actions and accept the consequences thereof is not the American way these days.
Oh, wait a minute, I think I know! Queenan wants us to give the poor more money. Then they won't be poor anymore. What a novel idea! Why hasn't anyone thought of it before? But I doubt that Queenan really wants that to happen. What would he write about then, and how would he manage to feel superior to the rest of us by displaying his concern for the poor?
The spate of killings in the streets of Philadelphia has one unsung victim - business. Remember during our school days when the teacher would play word association games? Well the word
is now associated with the word
in our nation's corridors of commerce.
My sales staff hears it; my purchasing staff hears it; and just about any other employee who handles calls hears it. I'm sure its also having a negative impact on businesses considering a move to this area and potential employees looking for jobs in Philadelphia.
Calling in the National Guard, as some suggest, would just make a fine mockery of our city and further erode business confidence. This is an internal issue that must be solved by a city commission on violence.