Eloquence test

I disagree with Calvin Trillin's "Eloquence matters" commentary (Inquirer, May 22) on two counts.

First, eloquence must include substance, and there is absolutely nothing substantive about Barack Obama's utterances. "Change" may be an exciting mantra for those who have been on the outside for so many years, but when it is not defined by anything more than being anti-Iraq and anti-Bush, it's not enough.

Second, as to whether eloquence is a qualification for the presidency, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were both extraordinarily eloquent. They could enrapture an audience but were disastrous leaders. Canada's Pierre Trudeau, Democrat Adlai Stevenson, and Britain's Tony Blair were all decidedly eloquent but less-than-effective leaders.

John de Carville

East Fallowfield

The farm bill

Few of us understand the intricacies of the farm bill - the federal legislation that authorizes farm subsidies, nutrition programs, conservation initiatives and more ("Stumble on Hill complicates an override of farm-bill veto," May 22). But an overwhelmingly bipartisan coalition reached a compromise and sent a loud message to the president, who promptly vetoed this historic bill.

In anticipation of a veto override, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said, "Members are going to have to think about how they will explain these votes back in their districts at a time when prices are on the rise."

Congress could have been more aggressive in restructuring farm subsidies. But this farm bill also will expand and strengthen the food-stamp program, promote the availability of fresh, locally grown foods in our schools, and increase the distribution of U.S.-grown commodities through the charitable food cupboard network.

The House and Senate are right to want to help feed the 38 million American families that will benefit from the nation's food and nutrition programs.

Sydelle Zove

Food stamp campaign manager

Greater Phila. Coalition Against Hunger

Philadelphia

Aid for victims

People seeking a "window" to extend the statute of limitations for child-abuse cases state that it's not about the money (Letters, May 22). If that's true, let victims present an alternative in which they agree not to pursue individual monetary awards if a "window" is allowed.

If money is to be considered, it could be agreed that any financial compensation awarded would go toward a fund for counseling or legal fees for victims, or to prevent child sexual abuse.

The horrendous wrong of child abuse can be difficult to prove or disprove decades later, but an alternative that would help aid victims emotionally and psychologically should be offered.

Peggy Lydon

Harleysville

Police firings

While my sympathies are with the Philadelphia police for the extremely difficult job that they face every day in a violent city, I feel the discussion over the firing of the four officers is misguided (Letters, May 26). While many mention that the officers are entitled to due process and a presumption of innocence, the officers have been afforded these rights. They have not been incarcerated or convicted without a trial. They have been fired. If they believe they have been wrongly terminated, they have a powerful union backing them that will take the matter to court. That is a right that many who have been fired cannot afford.

Andrew Celwyn

Philadelphia

Cell-phone angel

When I jumped out of my car in Center City on Thursday, I was completely unaware that my cell phone had fallen into the street. Later, when I realized it was lost, I had no clue to its whereabouts.

That evening, a call came to my house from a "sidewalk sweeper" who identified himself as "Rick." He had found my cell phone and wanted to return it. After I expressed my shock and gratitude, he said, "That is what we are all supposed to do for one another."

Rick's kind gesture and reassuring words remind me once more that we are surrounded by angels, God's messengers of love. I intend to take Rick's message to heart and try to be an angel to others as well.

Sister Louise Alff

Philadelphia