Numbers can be good to measure many things, but you must be very careful on cause and effect conclusions you extrapolate from that data. In the article [“Presidents by the Numbers,” September 3], it is said that President Clinton is good because the rate of abortions went down the fastest when he was president. But clearly such things don’t change in a year or even four years. For a rate to change, it is driven by numerous factors, not the least of which is what happened before the measure was taken. So, it is likely that the president before Clinton initiated some program, which in turn paid dividends in terms of the abortion rate that was evidenced during the Clinton presidency. Seems to me the authors are drawing conclusions that are unwarranted and extremely misleading.
MIKE BALL Spring, Texas
Enough with the gerrymandering [“Boundary Hunters,” September 3]. It’s absurd and we let the craven politicians get away with it. It certainly isn’t at all what the Founding Fathers envisioned.
JAY BURZAK Salem, N.H.
The Mosque Fallout
Why are we worried about what other countries think of us [“The Shouts Heard ‘Round the World,” August 27]? Don’t we know what a great country we have and how proud we should be of our freedoms here? Let’s take care of ourselves first and stop worrying about what other countries think of us.
JULIE STRANGES Chatsworth, Calif.
When the Anti-Defamation League, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and the American Jewish Committee oppose the unconditional rights of Muslim-Americans to build their mosque, they oppose the religious freedoms of all Americans and the Jewish values you all share. I call on all Jewish leaders to pause and reflect. As you start a new year, I ask you to join in reaffirming a shared commitment to confronting Islamaphobia and anti-Arab racism with the same determination you have when facing anti-Semitism.
FRANK BELCASTRO Dubuque, Iowa
The U.S. image overseas has deteriorated ever since we have tried to become the policeman of the entire world. Why do we continue to try to impose our beliefs on the whole world? We step into everyone else’s business. Whether it be Iraq or Afghanistan, we always fight for what we think is right without regard for the people who live in those countries. Having been in the military and in Vietnam, I saw firsthand how we screwed up over there and continue the same mistakes time and time again. No wonder most of the world is sick of the big bully America.
JANET BAUMAN Amelia, Ohio
Yes, I am very concerned by the rhetoric concerning the building of the mosque in New York. Gosh, hasn’t religion caused enough wars and conflict in the world already? I get E-mails from others frequently showing how intolerant of a people we really are.
JIM JORDAN Warren, Ohio
Will the protests over the Islamic center near Ground Zero hurt the U.S. image overseas? Given the objective of Islamic leaders to turn the United States into an Islamic country and the world into an Islamic world, any protests that hinder that objective are likely to hurt our image in the Islamic world. However, protests that oppose the in-your-face disrespect for the hundreds of innocent Americans who died at the hands of Islamic radicals at Ground Zero will meet with general approval by the rest of the world.
BRENT JOHNSON Orem, Utah
No, I am not concerned that the protests will hurt the U.S. image overseas. The only ones being hurt by the protests are the Muslim community and their intolerance for our freedoms to protest as well as our freedoms of religion. I have several close friends in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom who have written multiple times about the risks of creeping Islam in their societies. Mr. Crowley [State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley] and the Obama administration should stop apologizing for the U.S. policies and start defending the USA against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
JOHN ORTH Grafton, Wis.
Too Much Tea?
The hypocrisy makes my gray hair grayer [“A User’s Guide to the Tea Party,” August 27]! Government interference in “our” lives? What about their stance on abortion and gay marriage? Is that not interference? Don’t touch the Constitution! OK, how about you not messing with the 14th Amendment! What they really mean is that it’s OK when it’s something they are “for” and not OK when it’s something they’re not for. Their wish is that everything be Christian oriented—but their brand of Christianity. However, don’t mess with their Social Security or Medicare. Doing what’s right has neither a left nor right, Christian or not, orientation. It is just that—doing the right thing.
MARILYN MUELLER Alpharetta, Ga.
Amending the Constitution
There are some items that do need to be added to the Constitution, such as congressional term limits, anti-lobbying (giving of gifts, promises, etc.), and yes, repealing the 17th Amendment [“The GOP Targets the Constitution,” September 3]. Obviously Mr. Schlesinger doesn’t understand that the intent of the Founding Fathers was to give states a voice in Congress. The people already have a voice in Congress, the House of Representatives (although as of late that apparently isn’t much of one). I’m not a big fan of the GOP; they have done about as much to derail the Constitution as Democrats, but I am in favor of limiting the power of the federal government.
MIKE LARSON Gardner, Mass.
We have moved from the “Father of the Constitution’s” reality to that of Rep. Pete Stark, a California Democrat, who said, “The federal government, yes, can do most anything in this country.” [See who supports Stark.] A contributing factor to the growth of national government power was the 17th Amendment. The Constitution established a federal government based on checks and balances not only between the branches of government, but also the national government, the states, and the people. The states appointed their representatives to the Senate and the people elected theirs to the House. The 17th Amendment removed the states from the equation. Now, senators are nothing more than at-large House members serving six-year, rather than two-year, terms and the states have no say in decisions that affect them. As a result we have states struggling with unfunded mandates, challenging healthcare reform in the courts, and trying to enforce national immigration laws. The 17th Amendment was a mistake and should be repealed to restore checks and balances as the Framers intended.
RICHARD LAWRENCE Clinton, Utah
Mr. Schlesinger misses the real problem as he attacks the Tea Party movement and other conservative groups. This discussion would not exist if the courts had simply ensured compliance with the 10th Amendment, which essentially froze the powers of the federal government to those granted by the Constitution and earlier amendments at the moment it was ratified. Thus any expansion of federal power after that date is unconstitutional unless granted by an amendment. This includes all of the Roosevelt era’s New Deal programs (including Social Security), the Great Society programs, and finally Barack Obama’s seizure and redistribution of private property along with his healthcare program. Strict interpretation of the Constitution, using the dictionary and views of the appropriate time periods, would have prevented the implementation of such illegal laws and will do so in the future. The Constitution was intended to change, but via the amendment process, not by the passage of unconstitutional laws and expansive court decisions.
KARL HAMMERLE San Antonio