No Senate holds barred?

By , Howard Fienberg, Ron Cutter, Jerry Christen, and Steven Chostler

Thank you for the editorial "The Senate's little kings" (Oct. 29). I had only a passing acquaintance with this practice of placing holds on legislation and nominees. No wonder government doesn't work well. How frustrating it would be to a Senate committee to do the work of assessing a nominee for a judgeship only to have a hold put on it. The public suffers because of vacancies on the bench. The court system has huge backlogs.

Preventing the consideration of legislation by these holds, even by one senator, is obviously not in the public interest. We're not paying these people to build little fiefdoms. We're paying them to do the work of the country. Are there other "games" used to hold up the legislative process and avoid going on the record with a vote? Is this just the tip of the proverbial iceberg?

I hope this will be made an issue in reviewing the performance of present senators. It would influence my vote.

Recommended: Can immigration reform pass? Five senators to watch.

Janet Bailey Aurora, Colo.

Research, not conjecture, needed

Regarding "When sound is dangerous" (Oct. 28): We must consider preventive action. However, all we have is the possibility and supposition that the US Navy's new Low Frequency Active Sonar (LFAS) might hurt undersea life.

It makes little sense to apply the precautionary principle in this case. Just because the Navy cannot yet "prove" that LFAS will be completely safe is no reason to conclude that it is not safe. If the researcher has evidence that it is dangerous, then LFAS should be ditched. But it must be understood that conjecture is no substitute for data in the scientific process.

Howard Fienberg, Washington

Research analyst

The Statistical Assessment Service

Figuring out 'Fight Club'

Regarding the opinion article "Rev up the hype, book Oprah for our newest 'victim': men" (Oct. 25): Jack (played by Edward Norton) worked for an auto manufacturer, not an insurance company. To suggest that because most Fortune 500 companies are run by men indicates that men don't have it so bad is absurd and misses a critical point of the movie: Working-class men are frustrated with the confines and superficiality of contemporary life.

If all major companies were run by women, would the other tens of millions of women in this country be better off? Although the film is obviously by and for men, it never suggests that women have it any better. For example, the only notable female character in the film, Marla, was almost as bad off as Jack.

There is no doubt that the violent solution offered by the film is controversial, but the commentary on this film is the poorest I've read.

Ron Cutter Tempe, Ariz.

Music to the heart

David Sterritt really blew it in giving "Music of the Heart" just two stars. It is a four-star movie. It will be unfortunate if anyone decides not to see it on the basis of the Monitor's rating. It's a must-see if you like music, teachers, children, New York City, Meryl Streep, or wholesome emotion in an movie. That ought to cover everybody.

Jerry Christen Bedford, Mass.

Rockwell reconsidered

Daniel Grant's question about how we ought to consider Norman Rockwell's work is best answered by the painter, who considered himself an illustrator ("Rethinking Rockwell," Oct. 29).

Of course, as Charlie Rose pointed out, the difference was meaningless for most people throughout all but the most recent history.

Steven Chostler Denver, Colo.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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