In President Obama's stirring inaugural address ("The Obama era," Feb. 14), he predicted "defeat" for "those who seek to advance their aims by . . . slaughtering innocents." Can anyone miss the irony that, three days later, he provided abortionists with taxpayers' money to do this very thing across the globe (The Buzz, Feb. 14)? How sad that Obama's new "age of responsibility" should begin with such a massive act of irresponsibility.
-David Whitla; Indianapolis, Ind.
Phasing in debt
Thank you for the column about Obama's comments on sacrifice ("Phasing out sacrifice," Feb. 14). It's easy to throw out catchy phrases attempting to rally the uninformed masses without having real substantive decreases in government. How does Obama expect to lower taxes (as he promised) and spend more on bailout pork without increasing our national debt?
-Robert Zetocha; Lincoln, Neb.
Joel Belz listed American wars since the end of WWII but omitted the Korean War (1950-53). We lost over 36,000 troops in that "police action" and, much like our current engagements, most folks weren't too concerned unless they had a family member in the Armed Forces. My older brother was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. Regarding sacrifices, I was born in 1937 and recall as a 5-year-old a serious shortage of Fleers Double Bubble gum and chocolate bars. There was a thriving black market in the stuff.
-Doug Ferree; Kalispell, Mont.
I appreciated your interview with Charles Murray ("College crush," Feb. 14). I am aware of alternative ways to get a B.A. without the college experience, but this was the first time I had heard of a feasible means of doing away with the need for one. Murray's proposal for certification exams truly would be a free-market solution.
-Anna Pedersen, 18; Houston, Texas
In light of our troubled economy and the enormous cost of obtaining a college education, certifying individuals would work well in technical fields. However, applied to liberal arts--based occupations, certification would mean that students would bypass general education classes outside their fields of interest. In the classical approach to learning, such classes show students how to understand their world, analyze trends in society, make educated decisions, and communicate those decisions to others.
-Susan Peisker; Cedar Park, Texas
Your interview with Murray is a rare public acknowledgement of a subtle but powerful shift taking place as higher education increasingly becomes focused on outcomes assessment. Accreditation agencies ask, "Are schools delivering what they say?" Employers ask, "What does the student with a degree really know?" But some academic institutions are taking the lead by adopting truly competency-based approaches for granting degrees. Real education calls for real assessment.
-Stephen Kemp; Ames, Iowa
More than class struggle
By using the term born again to include Muslims, Jews, and atheists in his song "Born Again American" ("Patriot games," Feb. 14), Norman Lear strips the phrase of its original meaning and makes it just a euphemism for "spiritually inclined." Jesus meant more than class struggle and social reform when He said, "You must be born again."
-John Harris; Lexington Park, Md.
Kudos to Emily Belz for the timely article regarding Norman Lear and his reshaping of America. His political activism continues America's slide toward becoming a godless nation. A closer examination of the lyrics and philosophy of the performers reveals a subtle attack on the free enterprise system and the faith of the founders of America.
-Terry Blankenship; Dallas, Texas
The Problem of Edmund
Thank you for a beautiful and thought-provoking column ("Surprised by Jack," Feb. 14). To those who believe in a "Problem of Susan," I submit the "Problem of Edmund": Someone in league with the White Witch simply could not be "pure enough to deserve" Aslan's ultimate mercy and sacrifice, yet that is exactly what he was given.
-Alyssa Lynne Rosselli, 16; LaPorte, Ind.
Darwin vs. Darwin
Marvin Olasky ("Dialogue with Darwinists," Feb. 14) suggests a debate to discover commonality between pro-evolution geneticist Francis Collins and an Intelligent Design theorist like Michael Behe. One possibility: Evolution neither affirms nor denies the existence of God. The confusion is caused by the juxtaposition of Darwinism as a philosophy with atheistic implications and Darwinism as a science that merely studies a process.
-Steve Aldridge; Prior Lake, Minn.
Andrée Seu's putting her finger on the herd-instinct aspect of hermeneutics ("Group thinking," Feb. 14) was an epiphany for me. Like the fish in her illustration, I couldn't see the water for the, ah, water-until now!
-Peter Kushkowski; Portland, Conn.
I helped establish the Faith Based Initiative when I served in the Department of Justice from 2001 to 2003. Former director John DiIulio's distinction ("A faith too saturated," Jan. 31) between "faith-based" programs (eligible for federal funds) and "faith-saturated" (ineligible) is, unfortunately, the current Supreme Court interpretation. My office and the White House advocated early and often to "voucherize" many federal programs, giving the choice to the program beneficiary and making even "faith-saturated" programs eligible for federal dollars. However, Congress was very reluctant to do so and the Constitution's separation of powers hampered us in the executive branch from implementing voucher programs unilaterally. That separation is also delaying changes that the current administration wants to make.
-James A. Davids; Virginia Beach, Va.
I enjoy your articles, but I was bothered by your recent review of TV shows ("On the small screen," Feb. 14). Three times the reviewer refers to shows that have overt sexual content but encourages us to watch them anyway. This shrug-of-the-shoulders response to adultery and fornication is surprising.
-Cedric Hohnstadt; Bloomington, Minn.
Rep. Heath Shuler believes that Democrats show more compassion for Americans throughout their lives ("Blue dog comeback," Jan. 31), but I don't find creating, and now enhancing, dependence upon government to be compassionate. Rather, it creates a permanent underclass that (quite conveniently) votes Democratic. Although his heart may be in the right place, his solution isn't.
-Karl Schafer-Junger; Santa Cruz, Calif.
Shuler says he isn't a Republican because they are "every man for himself" and that goes against his Christian values. I feel that the more I can gain, the more I can, and do, give to charities, which should be the role of the church and individuals, not the government. The Democratic Party "helps those who cannot help themselves," yes, but it does so with money taken by force from others.
-Robert Lumbrix; Vincennes, Ind.
Hearts can be won
I think the Jan. 17 issue on abortion was one of the best we've ever read. Thank you especially for writing about the history of abortion in America ("Lessons from the past"). I was shocked by the facts, although I shouldn't have been, and yet they gave me hope for the future: Hearts can be won and changed and lives can be saved, even if the laws remain the same.
-Monica Ault; Catonsville, Md.
Worthy Adult Index
As an MIT numbers guy, I well understand how the notion that "you can't manage what you can't measure" has crept into family life ("Keep the numbers up!" Jan. 17). With the significant demands and struggles that parents face, people should not be surprised that parents use the "Worthy Child Index" of grades and awards. Other indices apply to more than our children: cars, boats, vacations, salary, charitable giving, and countless other things we use to try to satisfy our weaknesses (and for which there is only one true saving grace).
-Glenn Sosa; Sarasota, Fla.
No Republicans represent northeastern states in the U.S. House of Representatives ("Party of Steele," Feb. 28, p. 44).
Republican U.S. Senator John Thune is from South Dakota ("Cutting the honeymoon short," Feb. 28, p. 48).