ISSUE | MAKING SAUSAGE

Sharpened veto pen

Even though there has been little mention of the line-item veto for a long time, its restoration would be the best thing Washington could do. Lawmakers currently add earmarks to bills, provisions that mean handouts for fat cats as rewards for campaign contributions.

This results in a higher priority for reelection than to do what's best for the nation. It also wastes taxpayers' money and contributes to unsustainable budget deficits.

The line-item veto would allow a president to veto wasteful earmarks. In addition, continuing to limit campaign donations might help politicians favor what's best for all citizens.

|Larre Hoke, Cherry Hill

By the few, for few

If the Constitution were drafted today, the preamble would read, "We the lobbyists and one-percenters of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice (for us only), insure domestic tranquility (keep the people from rebelling), provide for the common defense (contractors), promote the welfare of the wealthy, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity only, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

|Dave Savage, Collingswood

ISSUE | BONES

Museum staff helped Dread pack for trip

In reading about the dinosaur skeleton, I was sorry to see no mention of the four years' effort by professionals and volunteers at the Academy of Natural Sciences to prepare many of the bones ("Giant dinosaur skeleton heads home to Argentina," Dec. 16). All other projects in their preparation lab were set aside to work on this one specimen.

|Randy Lyons, West Chester, gotajugl@msn.com

ISSUE | LEADERSHIP

If all politicians were like Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro, government would be led by intelligent, competent, effective, and thoughtful individuals willing to work across aisles and govern successfully.

|Steven J. Barrer, M.D., Huntingdon Valley, sjbarrer@gmail.com

ISSUE | ATTACK ABROAD

Civilization hasn't covered much ground

Once again, we have looked into the face of evil in the school massacre in Pakistan ("141 massacred in Pakistan," Dec. 17). Time and again, humankind has committed atrocities in the name of God, or greed, or vengeance, or a show of power.

Man once lived in caves and used clubs to kill his enemies. In the years since, we have progressed from there to a place in time where, in the twisted view of terrorists, it somehow is justifiable to attack a school and slaughter its teachers and students. That is, we have not made progress at all - and the whole world should be grieving.

|Sheryl Kalick, Philadelphia

ISSUE | VIOLENCE AT HOME

Focus on family fault lines to head off trouble

The war veteran suspected of killing his extended family and then himself should be viewed in a different light, one that considers that fathers' lives matter ("Shooter is found dead in woods," Dec. 17). Bradley W. Stone not only suffered probably from posttraumatic stress disorder, but access to his kids may have been used as a tool to punish him.

Federal health officials report that the largest group of suicides is among middle-aged men. Divorce and PTSD are large risk factors. Those at risk are also at risk of hurting others. To prevent these tragedies in the future, we need to reach out to struggling fathers, insisting on shared parenting - for not only do kids need their dads, but dads need their kids, too. As a society, we can do better.

|Peter G. Hill, member, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's Working Group on Family Law, Weston, Mass., peterg.hill56@gmail.com

ISSUE | LINE OF DUTY

Voters signed off on firefighter honor

While a letter writer blasts the Nutter administration for the posthumous promotion of firefighter Joyce Michelle Craig to lieutenant, the honor actually was bestowed automatically under a recent City Charter change that called for firefighters and police officers killed in the line of duty to move to the next highest rank ("Above and beyond," Dec. 16). This change was approved by Philadelphia voters.

As a veteran, I am all in favor of supporting armed forces members killed or wounded - just as I am in favor of this small show of respect for Craig, who died while keeping all of us safe. Indeed, she put her life on the line in the early morning hours while the rest of us were snuggled in our beds.

|Raymond Vozzelli, Philadelphia, northlf206@aol.com

ISSUE | GUN CONTROL

Seeing a senator's many faces on gun issue

In his op-ed piece, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) is singing a very different tune than he did just two short years ago when running for reelection ("Congress must act to ensure safety of children," Dec. 16). Outside of the Philadelphia area, Casey was aggressively pandering to gun owners. He was opposed to banning guns; no mention of expanded background checks - all pro-Second Amendment. Now, he wants more background checks and bans on some firearms.

|Michael D. Allen, Lower Makefield