Re: "Follow N.J.'s lead," editorial, yesterday:
Gun-control advocates have been telling us for years that New Jersey's extremely strict gun laws are highly effective, and that nearly all of the guns used in crimes come from places with "lax" gun laws, such as Virginia and Pennsylvania. But if New Jersey needs to pass a one-gun-a-month law, then this is a clear admission that the gun-control lobby has been lying all along about the effectiveness of New Jersey's laws.
Re: "Pension perk defies city scrutiny over its cost," Sunday:
Where in corporate America do we see things such as Philadelphia's DROP program, even for employees with 35 years of service? You don't, because such benefits are financially irresponsible and impossible to fund even for the best of companies.
Generally, corporate America offers a defined retirement income approximating 50 percent of an employee's average salary in the last five years. But even this is being abandoned in favor of 401(k)s and other plans that don't guarantee any percentage of salary at retirement. Yet Philadelphia is willing to cut services for libraries and other worthwhile activities while never addressing this crushing burden.
When Philadelphia and other cash-strapped governments get real about pensions and employee-benefit programs, maybe then there will be sympathy for their financial difficulties.
If left alone, Israel would never kill another Palestinian. But the Arab world always has had a convoluted interpretation of events. It's fine to poke the Cyclops in the eye when convenient, but the giant must never retaliate because its tormentors are hiding behind women and children. No civilized nation has a strategy for this.
When women and children start dying, there's a global outcry. But Palestinian men have no qualms about using them as shields. To them, it's just another tactic of war. As long as this anomaly exists, anything Israel does is futile.
The status quo has failed. American policy toward Israel and Palestine has done nothing except prolong the suffering of the Palestinian people and enable Israel to keep an iron grip on the West Bank while at the same time sealing off Gaza and it's 1.5 million residents.
We desperately need a new American approach that is unbiased and gives equal considerations to both sides. Only then will Israel find the courage needed to make the hard decisions that will, ultimately, need to be made.
Gary E. Kaminski
Pullin' a Palin
. Definition: When someone appoints a person he wouldn't have chosen otherwise, as a result of recent developments. That's what John McCain did when he chose Sarah Palin as a running mate. Had Barack Obama chosen Hillary Clinton as his running mate, I doubt McCain would have picked Palin. Likewise, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was Pullin' a Palin by choosing Roland Burris to assume Obama's vacant Senate seat, averting attention from charges he tried to sell the seat to the highest bidder. If things had gone the way Blagojevich planned, Burris would never have been considered in the first place.
I want to thank the Mummers, the city of Philadelphia, the parade sponsors, and the volunteers who made the 2009 parade such a special and exciting day for my family.
Until I relocated to Rhode Island two decades ago, I regularly attended the parade. Last Thursday was the first time that I brought my husband and two children to see what I had looked forward to every year as a child. Not only were the costumes and pageantry as spectacular and the participants and spectators as enthusiastic as I remembered, but the event also was very family-friendly.
After watching the Comics and Fancies parade up Broad Street, we moved to City Hall for the String Bands and then went to the Convention Center - indoors and warm! - to see the Fancy Brigades do their thing. Wow! The Mummers and Philadelphia sure know how to ring in the new year.