ISSUE | HOME TEAM

Christie's playing wrong side of field

Gov. Christie cannot be elected president, and it isn't because he could not win a Republican nomination battle fought largely on the right.

Christie has doomed himself in a general election because no politician whose base of support is in the Northeast could afford to lose Pennsylvania, and no one can win Pennsylvania without faring well in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, where the bulk of the state's voters live.

Yet one incontrovertible fact makes that impossible for the governor: He is a Dallas Cowboys fan ("Diehard 'Boys fan, calculated high five?" Dec. 16). And if Eagles fans needed a reminder, there was Christie on national TV last Sunday, high-fiving Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at the Linc.

Philadelphians can tolerate much, even, say, a governor who would allow a bridge to be shut down in a fit of pique. (That story isn't over yet.) Philadelphians understand hard-elbowed politics. But ask them to vote for an in-your-face Cowboys fan? That is a bridge too far.

|Don Wuenschel, Swarthmore

ISSUE | CHURCH, STATE

Look, don't light

News coverage of public menorah displays failed to note that objections by the American Civil Liberties Union were based on Mayor Ed Rendell's lighting of the candelabra because it constituted official participation in a religious act ("Those public menorahs are bigger than ever," Dec. 16).

As general counsel of the ACLU in Philadelphia when the public lighting started in 1974, I secured the promise by Rabbi Abraham Shemtov that the religious ceremony would no longer involve city officials. They could attend as members of the public and observe.

Although the religious practice of lighting Hanukkah candles - preferably in private - is guaranteed under the First Amendment, government participation violates the separation principle.

|Burton Caine, Philadelphia, bcaine@temple.edu

ISSUE | HOPE

Countervailing forces of optimism at work

In an age when we are continually forced to endure the ugly realities of our world, it was refreshing to read Sister Mary Scullion's inspiring message about economic and social justice for the most vulnerable of our society ("A message Philly needs to hear," Dec. 16). International and domestic terrorism breed fear and xenophobia; growing income inequality and massive incarceration rates among the poor divide our nation in an unprecedented manner; and the blind justification of torture and the brutal killing of innocents undermines our most fundamental human rights.

These ugly realities consistently tend to erode our belief in the strength and power of the human spirit. Consequently, it was genuinely uplifting to read of the author's belief that "the power of hope and transformation" will dramatically change the manner in which we address issues of social justice in our society.

|Peter C. McVeigh, Oreland, pmcveigh@comcast.net

ISSUE | PEACEFUL GIFT-GIVING

Sharing joy without spreading suffering

In the spirit of the holiday season, gifts of jewelry representing love should also help bring peace. Tragically, many of these items come at a great cost to people we don't see. African gold is often mined through slave labor and exploitation.

It is not my intent to be a killjoy. But we can opt to shop for gold from companies that are working to take steps to source conflict-free gold for their products, such as Tiffany & Co., Jared, Kay, or Zales. We can also look for fair-trade labels and purchase fair-trade brands such as Divine and Equal Exchange chocolate, and Good & Fair cotton clothing. And we can put pressure on companies like QVC, headquartered here in the region, to join the movement.

|Gretchen Cole, West Chester, margaretacole@gmail.com

ISSUE | ENERGY POLICY

Consumer, environment watchdog role

City Council President Darrell L. Clarke's only mistake in the Philadelphia Gas Works saga was making the correct decision a half-year too late ("Pipeline dreams," Dec. 16). In axing the ill-conceived plan to sell PGW, Clarke protected Philadelphians. Selling PGW would have meant ballooning gas rates, a loss of local jobs, and the city's abdication of control over gas-related infrastructure amid industry plans for projects that will endanger the city. Now Clarke can show himself to be a true champion for Philadelphia by steering our city away from plans by big fossil-fuel polluters to expand dangerous infrastructure, and toward more sustainable and economically empowering solutions.

This time around, following the lead of the community from the start to avoid dangerous fossil-fuel hub plans could put Clarke beyond reproach.

|Sam Bernhardt, senior Pennsylvania organizer, Food and Water Watch, Philadelphia, sbernhardt@fwwatch.org