Book deal rankles

A $7 million book advance reportedly is offered to a minor political figure who labored in obscurity until recently thrust onto the national stage. No more qualified to be vice president than I am, she stands to become wealthy as a result of an ill-informed choice by John McCain. Am I jealous? Sure I am. Only in America can the average and uninspired be elevated to such heights thanks to our fascination with the "cult of personality."

John W. Jones

Solebury Township

Misplaced nostalgia

Re: "Trolley still off the track," Wednesday:

The use of trolley cars for public transportation might trigger nostalgia in some, but as a rider who relied on them for part of my commute between Mount Airy and the Philadelphia High School for Girls, I would argue that the fog of time has obscured reality.

I can remember countless freezing cold or swampily hot days waiting for trolleys stymied by fire hoses strewn across a street, cars and disabled trolleys blocking the way, and wire problems. Trolley tracks make the street surface more difficult and expensive to maintain. Our public transportation dollars would be better spent upgrading subways, investing in green buses, and promoting bike- and car-share programs.

Suzanne Fluhr

Bala Cynwyd

Chapter 11 remedy

A letter writer asks why Toyota does not buy GM ("Bargain purchase," Monday). One reason why not is that Toyota's cost per worker is less than two-thirds that of GM. Filing for Chapter 11 would allow for a complete and greatly needed restructuring of an industry that has operated for decades on greed and inefficiency.

As for the destruction of the American car industry, experts believe the "big foreign makers are established enough (in the United States) to take control of the industry and its vast supplier network more quickly than is widely understood." Chapter 11 could be the salvation of the Big Three rather than their destruction.

Allene A. Murphey

Bryn Mawr

Bid to provoke

With his racially tinged remarks about Barack Obama, Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's second-in-command, appears to be trying to provoke the president-elect. Al-Qaeda would like absolutely nothing better than for Obama to repeat the mistakes of President Bush.

What al-Qaeda really fears about an Obama presidency is that he will use "soft power" as an answer to its violence. Zawahiri knows full well that al-Qaeda would be rendered irrelevant if the United States convinces Muslims that we are not their enemy.

Richmond L. Gardner

Horsham

No change, yet

If

maverick

was the overused word of the McCain campaign,

change

was its counterpart in the Obama campaign. The irony is that so far, none of President-elect Obama's choices for key posts in his administration shows change. Instead it looks more like a shuffling of top Democrats from the Clinton era.

P.J. Katauskas

Media

Not a good bet

Charged with charting our city's economic development, Mayor Nutter and a quiescent Council are busy linking the health of our Market Street corridor to a shaken and shaky industry.

Casinos from Atlantic City to Las Vegas have seen big drops in profitability. As we enter a recession, this is one heck of a (falling) star to which to hitch our wagon. Common sense says you don't bet on bettors to "anchor" economic recovery. It's time to promote economic development that circulates capital within our region, not one that extracts wages, leaving wrecked families in its wake.

Eric Joselyn

Philadelphia