opted out

A letter writer says he is irate about the buying of votes for passage of the health-care bill and about the fact that 40 percent of the representatives - the Republicans - were excluded from the process ("Votes for sale in Congress," Thursday).

While the writer is correct about the buying of votes, this type of corruption has been practiced by both political parties since time immemorial. He is, however, wrong about the Republicans never having been consulted.

Several Republicans were initially part of the process, but they proved to be intractable. Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) at first appeared to be negotiating in good faith, but then he returned home to Iowa over the August recess and began parroting Sarah Palin's demagogic lies about death panels and "pulling the plug on Grandma." At that point, it became obvious that the Republicans simply wanted to kill the bill in order to deny President Obama a victory.

Bill Fanshel

Bryn Mawr

So what is it

that Abraham does?

I'd like to thank those reporters who unmasked District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham as just another Philadelphia politician taking up valuable space.

We always knew about her record on political corruption: a nonstarter never bothering to pursue her cronies despite widespread and obvious corruption.

We thought she was pursuing street crime. Thanks to your series ("Justice delayed, dismissed, denied," Dec. 13), we learned that she wasn't doing that, either.

Now, most recently, when it comes to a judge doing real estate deals from his chambers, she announces she isn't going to pursue that, either.

What does she do . . . windows?

Mark D. Schwartz

Bryn Mawr

Going after

soft targets

If we're talking budgets again, it must be time to do the Rendell Chicken Dance. In a state where we've bravely cut just more than 1 percent of our government workforce (800 layoffs out of a pre-layoff workforce of 78,501), the very first thing Gov. Rendell proposes closing if he can't get more gambling approved is . . . state parks.

Nobody left to cut in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor or the Office of the First Lady? No fat left in the Department of Aging or Education? Done rightsizing the Turnpike Commission, the Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, the Governor's Commission on Training America's Teachers, and the State Public School Building Authority?

Come on, Governor. Make the hard calls.

Jonathan Goldstein


Thank you,

Rep. Smith

Three cheers for David Goldman and his son, Sean. Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.) went above and beyond the call of duty as a congressman when he flew to Brazil to assist his constituent in regaining his legal custody of his son ("N.J. father, son reunited," Friday). Sean's Brazilian family can blame the U.S. government all it wants for losing custody. The simple truth is that the boy belongs, as deemed by the courts, with his father. I wish them a long and happy life together.

JoAnn Williams


Forced contrast

in WWI letter

Chris Gibbons' piece "Respite from war, sad but brief" on Friday employs nostalgia to misleadingly contrast an incident in World War I with the current war on terror.

Just because British and German soldiers sang Christmas carols together on a sacred holiday, and our present antagonists are non-Christian, scarcely means that the Taliban "care nothing for our traditions."

A linchpin of President Obama's Afghanistan policy is to convert rank-and-file Taliban to noncombatants using the "traditional" inducements of secure livelihoods, freedom from war, and a philosophy of tolerance for the other.

James Miles


A lesson

in counting

How could you do it? The Inquirer, bastion of information and disinformation, in the city of Philadelphia, the center of learning, culture, and crime, has again jumped the gun by a full year in featuring the decade in Sunday's edition ("Decade in review").

Every person with at least a third-grade education knows that in counting to 10, one does not start 0, 1, 2 . . . etc. In counting a decade, one starts at 1 and winds up with 10.

As with the start of this century, it did not begin Jan. 1, 2000, but with Jan. 1, 2001. In these perilous times, please get it right.

John Maher