Regarding your Sept. 26 article "California recall: Does one man hold key?": American politics are now driven by only two considerations: winning and celebrity. Principled candidates - California's Tom McClintock or Republican John McCain - are routinely asked to bow out of races by the "moderates" in their parties, either because they aren't glamorous enough, or because their principled stands on substantive issues makes them "unelectable."
So we have governments of the status quo, for the status quo, and by the status quo. And we move ever further away from being a republic led by persons of principle.
Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Regarding your Sept. 26 article "Recall front-runner fails to excite": After watching Arnold Schwarzenegger's lackluster performance in the recent debate, all I can say is: "Hasta la vista, baby!"
Instead of looking like polished master debaters, the five candidates for governor of California looked more like schoolyard amateurs, more interested in trading barbs than in debating the real issues. Heaven help us if one is elected governor.
Kenneth L. Zimmerman
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Your Sept 25 editorial "Respect for US Muslims" brings up a number of important points, such as presuming the innocence of the accused chaplain and interpreter until they are proven guilty. Scapegoating has been an unfortunate piece of history of this country and elsewhere. It's wise to withhold judgment. Your suggestion that Muslims refuse to tolerate radicals hiding among them is a difficult one. Only those who know can monitor such activity. It is highly unlikely that Timothy McVeigh's neighbors knew of his plans. Unless someone actively promotes terrorism by word or action, those views are unlikely to be known by the majority of law-abiding citizens, Muslim or otherwise.
Amrita J. Burdick
Kansas City, Mo.
You say "Muslims can do their part by refusing to tolerate the tiny group of radicals hiding among them." That best describes what must be done in order for Americans like myself to gain respect for Muslims. And it is the key to success in our war on terror.
Regarding your Sept. 23 article "Worried about cash and the academy": I appreciated Prof. Derek Bok's concerns with respect to the commercialization of academic research. It may be useful to observe that the relationship between universities and private interests has been fraught for some time. In the 1520s, the great alchemist and medical theorist Paracelsus found himself unable to publish a treatise on syphilis that disparaged guaiac bark (a remedy newly imported from the Americas). The Fugger trading conglomerate had secured an import monopoly for guaiac from the Spanish crown, and it pressured the University of Leipzig into suppressing Paracelsus' work. The treatise gathered dust for more than a decade.
In an era of hostility to public expenditures, it bears remembering that patronage is never without costs. Academics and politicians oversee precious collective resources. They have a responsibility to consider the implied quid pro quo before chasing after private funding. When they do not succeed, we as a society must consider appropriate regulatory interventions.
Jamaica Plain, Mass.
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