Use reason and support Romney

Conservatives who have been swayed to support Newt Gingrich ("Pa. boyhood a fond past for Gingrich," Sunday) are falling victim to the precise trait that they often criticize progressives for having: reliance on emotion, rather than reason, to guide their political thinking.

Fact: Independents decide national elections.

Fact: Mitt Romney consistently polls much more favorably with independents than does Gingrich.

Conclusion: In a general election, Romney would garner more of the independent vote than would Gingrich.

The consequences of next November's election outcome are too vital to our country's future to gamble against the odds. If you're a Republican primary voter on the fence: Shed the emotion, use reason, and support Romney.

Frank Santoro, Havertown, franksantoro.usa@gmail.com

Long live Balanchine's choreography

I was quite surprised to see that the review "Splendid 'Nutcracker' still a holiday treat" (Dec. 13) warns us that the ballet is politically incorrect in its depiction of Chinese people, and suggests that this much-loved choreography be changed so as not to be offensive. Having seen many Nutcracker performances over the years, I feel confident in saying that the figures in the "Tea" dance are not meant to depict Chinese people. Likewise, the Arabian dance is not meant to portray real Arabs. Nor is the dance of the Marzipan shepherds meant to portray real shepherds.

Here's hoping that George Balanchine's choreography will live on, so that audiences may continue to be delighted and enriched.

Charles Slater, Haverford

Blatantly contorted districts

The new congressional districts for Pennsylvania have been so blatantly contorted for political purposes that they beg the question: How could General Assembly leadership be so bold ("Parties rule in redistricting," Dec. 16)? The answer: Because they know Pennsylvanians don't care.

Redistricting is not easily distilled into sound bites. Nevertheless, it is one of the most significant political problems facing Pennsylvanians. Gerrymandering - as the careful designing of legislative districts is known - aggravates partisanship, suppresses voter turnout, makes representatives unaccountable, and mocks our democratic ideals. How democratic can a system truly be if it allows legislators to pick their constituents?

There are alternatives to letting legislators draw congressional seats, such as the independent commissions used by other states. But until we force legislators to consider them, expect politics as usual.

Michael J. Gaudini, Narberth

Bring back old-fashioned colleges

Unbridled competition for top students has caused colleges to offer luxurious and costly banquets of academic offerings ("Colleges cost too much," Dec. 16). Fat course catalogs mean fat tuitions. Would students be worse off if colleges offered the kind of education they offered 50 years ago at a fraction of today's cost?

Harry K. Schwartz, Philadelphia

Doing more to combat homelessness

The article "We can do much more" (Dec. 8) is surely correct: We can, should, and must do more to combat homelessness. However, it reflects the common misunderstanding about the number of homeless people counted on Philadelphia's streets, parks, underpasses, and on SEPTA property last May. The reported 528 number reflects only the individuals who were willing to participate in the first ever survey that asked extensive questions about time on the street, health conditions, and veteran status.

The number does not reflect the total number of people living on Philadelphia's margins, or even the number of people encountered citywide as part of the three-day 100,000 Homes outreach. As reported, substantial efforts are under way to house the most vulnerable of the people who were surveyed, and for continued intensive outreach efforts in the SEPTA concourse. There are also plans for more surveys, this time a full citywide count of homeless Philadelphians. Only by doing this can we truly understand the extent of the need for additional housing options and supports, and thus accurately gauge the depth of the lack of capacity.

Debbie F. Plotnick, director of advocacy, Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, dplotnick@mhasp.org