Flawed arguments on Iran

James Jay Carafano advances several flawed and distorted arguments in "Obama risking war in Mideast" (Sunday).

First, he asserts that Iran is proceeding "apace to build a nuclear bomb." This empty assertion is contrary to the official assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that Iran has not made a decision to develop a nuclear bomb. Moreover, he fails to note that Iran's senior cleric and other foreign-policy officials have consistently denounced nuclear weapons as a sin against Islam.

Second, he mischaracterizes the sensible calls from the Obama administration for a reduction in the planned growth of the U.S. defense budgets as creating a "Paper Tiger" force. However, U.S. defense expenditures alone will continue to exceed those of the next 10 countries combined for the foreseeable future, and there is little doubt that the U.S. armed forces will remain the most capable military force in the world.

Third, he claims the solution to preventing Iran from "going nuclear is to get a different government in Tehran." This flies in the face of numerous credible surveys indicating that the Iranian public strongly supports their right to advanced (civil) nuclear technologies as guaranteed by the Non-proliferation Treaty. Consequently, regime change in Tehran is not likely to substantially alter Iran's foreign policy on this issue.

Christopher Bolan, professor of national security studies, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, Pa.

Springsteen is a fraud

As Bruce Springsteen takes up the class warfare rhetoric of President Obama, I now realize he is nothing more than a gutless, pandering fraud ("Recession rock," Sunday). Springsteen resides securely in the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent of all wage earners, and he plays live to the wealthy 1 percent who can actually afford his exorbitant ticket prices. I am unmoved by Springsteen's hypocritical propaganda, for that's sadly all that it is.

J. Barr, Medford

Making abortion less accessible

Women already have the right to know "the full range of information relating to" their pregnancies and unborn children ("A right to know," Saturday). If a woman wants to have an ultrasound, she already has the right to have one.

Let's be clear. House Bill 1077 is not about a woman's right to be fully informed. This bill would force a highly invasive and potentially traumatic medical procedure on pregnant women - denying our rights to bodily integrity. This bill is another attempt to make abortion less accessible.

Sharon Mayer-Conroy, West Chester, sharonwestc@gmail.com

Best to be fully informed

In most cases, people agree that it is best to be fully informed. However, in the case of House Bill 1077, Planned Parenthood thinks it best to be less informed or even misinformed.

HB 1077 provides an ultrasound requirement prior to a woman having an abortion. More than 20 other states already have the same requirement.

For many years, women have been told it's not a baby, it's a blob of tissue. However, science and technology are showing it is not a blob of tissue; it is a developing baby.

I believe that every woman has a right to be fully informed, which allows her to make an informed decision. Opponents of HB 1077 really don't want women to have a choice at all. Once you walk into an abortion facility, they want you to have an abortion.

Gwenne Alexander, president, Chester County Action, West Chester

Child of character and compassion

I was moved to tears after reading the article about Elena Delle Donne ("After walking away, star feels right at home," Sunday). Her strength of character, compassion, and commitment to her family, especially her sister, Lizzie, are remarkable. This is a child who would make any parent proud! She seems to be exceptionally grounded and wise beyond her years. May she have continued success in her basketball career, and the strength and courage to make the best decisions for herself.

Maureen Walters, Harleysville

Unfortunate assumptions on budget

Along with automatically linking mental illness to crime, Jerry Ratcliffe's "Cuts a threat to public safety" (Monday) makes some other unfortunate assumptions.

First, he argues that Gov. Corbett's proposed budget cuts $41 million from mental-health and other such services. It does not. What it does is combine a variety of budget lines into a single block of state funding for counties to use at their discretion.

Not every county need use up its line-item state funds, but, as it now stands, they cannot easily transfer them to other needs. Similarly, if Philadelphia finds the need to expand its mental-health services, it can do so by drawing from other, less urgent areas.

Counties have long requested relief from state mandates and the block-grant proposal will give them that flexibility.

If an argument over funding is to be put forward, it would be that the block grants propose an overall 20 percent reduction in county spending on services now funded by the commonwealth.

While institutions such as Ratcliffe's Temple University have not imposed restraint on salaries and tuition, states and counties do not have this option. The recession applies to most of us in the real world.

That does not mean that counties, once they have enacted efficiencies expected in the private sector, need skimp on meaningful service to the poor, the mentally ill, or senior citizens. It is a matter of setting priorities, rather than assembling a list of demands and expressing astonishment that it cannot be filled for lack of money.

Gary Alexander, Pennsylvania secretary of welfare, Harrisburg

Grateful for stranger's assistance

On Jan. 7, after we left the Flyers game in Philadelphia, my husband suffered a major heart attack and our car went out of control. Our grandson, who was uninjured, called 911. While we waited, a wonderful person came along and gave CPR to my husband. He wouldn't have survived without this assistance.

Words cannot describe the thankfulness we all have for the kind and generous response that was made by that gentleman who quickly came to our aid. He took immediate action, and the result is that my husband is now recovering. He even continued to check on my husband's status while he was in the hospital.

Human kindness is sometimes taken for granted. In this instance, the person who provided direct and meaningful assistance deserves the gratitude of our entire extended family, and we will never forget what a stranger can accomplish, no matter the circumstances. We salute that unselfish person.

Tobi Grossman, Pittston, Tobigrossman@aol.com

Error in Convention Center design

Having attended the wonderful Philadelphia International Flower Show at the Convention Center, I have one question for those who designed (or approved the plans for) this multi-use facility at great cost. What genius included only two small elevators from the ground floor to the upper floors?

Escalators are wonderful for those who can use them, but young parents with carriages and people with walkers and wheelchairs, to mention just a few, need elevators. Somehow the Kimmel Center and even the oft-maligned Philadelphia International Airport recognized that, providing sufficient and large elevators. But not the up-to-date Convention Center. The day we attended, there were long waits for elevators, as only a few people at a time, with their walkers, chairs, and carriages, were able to crowd themselves into the confined space of those small cars.

Can't something be done about this ridiculous situation?

Gerald Gornish, Merion Station