Regarding Godfrey Sperling's column "The Democratic retreat on Sept. 11" (May 28): All this talk about the Democrats wanting open hearings and committees on the lack of preparedness and intelligence communication before Sept. 11 has got me wondering: Does it really make sense to demand hearings and committees on why a bombing happened and why there was a failure in a certain area? Wouldn't that just be informative and helpful for the enemy, by allowing them the privilege to hear about weaknesses in defense? And wouldn't national confidence and resolve be weakened to hear a lot of talk about missed warnings?
I'm not saying that the United States government and its agencies shouldn't learn from mistakes that were made, but broadcasting its failures at a time of war would be counterproductive.
Regarding your review of "Holy War, Holy Peace: How Religion Can Bring Peace to the Middle East" ("Israeli-Arab conflict could use more religion," May 23, Books): How refreshing to read the review of Marc Gopin's book in which he states that Middle East conflict cannot be resolved by individual political leaders but must be addressed on the level of the people within the community. Bravo! And yet, I must question whether or not a war is instigated by and thereby able to be stopped by the people.
The power to end or maintain wars must fall on the leaders. People, I believe, are "led" somewhat sheepishly into the act. Can we envision a leader currently in a war-torn state suddenly relinquishing his power to press on into war and instead start pushing for peace? I hope so.
This is precisely the kind of leadership that is needed to achieve the "Holy Peace" of which Mr. Gopin writes.
Regarding "Put a cork in borking" (May 13, Editorial): I am outraged at the partisan games being played with judicial nominees. Leaving these important positions vacant has created a crisis in the federal courts. President Bush has nominated more than 100 men and women of distinction and accomplishment. They are solidly within the mainstream of American legal opinion and have received either a well-qualified or qualified rating from the American Bar Association.
Judges help ensure that the innocent remain free and the guilty are punished. Judges make decisions that help safeguard the stability of the marketplace and address the grievances of those who have been wronged. Because of the number of vacancies in our nation's courts, Americans are being forced to wait for justice, and the burden being put on sitting federal judges is growing heavier. I expect more than partisan politics from our nation's leaders.
Robert D. Clay
Thank you for "Five good reasons to dine al fresco in May" (May 2, Ideas) about the five planets in the western sky that can be seen this month. Several nights I carried the article to and from the Oakland hills, where we enjoyed the spectacle of these five planets, and later saw the group joined with a crescent moon.
One Wednesday night from the steps of our church, the clear sky was a breathtaking stage for four of the planets, with the moon coming up over an eastern hill. Since this show won't happen again until 2040, we were happy to have seen it.
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