Do vets in Congress affect military readiness? The opinion piece, "The troubling dearth of military vets in Congress" (Jan. 13), argues that "a Congress without military veterans loses perspective critical to national security." Are we to assume that military vets give Congress perspective critical to our security?

After World War I, the legislative branch must have been well represented by World War I veterans, yet they left this country ill-prepared for World War II.

The disillusionment of the American people after the Great War made them turn to isolationism. So even then, the veterans in Congress couldn't have rearmed the United States, even if they had wanted to.

As a male veteran, I'm not bothered that future legislatures will be composed mostly of non-veterans.

What is troubling is that unless changes occur, the majority still will be men. If Congress were made up of 50 percent women, including mothers and grandmothers, our country might discover that the Pentagon still would receive needed funds, but that smaller amounts would be required. William Miller Chalmette, La.

Of all the current comments on congressional standing and repute, the "dearth of military vets" was the goofiest. If only 30 percent of the new Congress is composed of vets, so what. Should we have more wars to increase the ratio?

I was surprised age was the only factor cited as a cause for the decline from 50 percent eight years ago. Another factor may be congressional term limits.

In a nation that already makes sacred cows of too many military heroes, we'd do better to read William Greider's "Fortress America," which asks why our military, a decade after the collapse of the cold war, "remains configured and equipped to confront a war of maximum scale."

We love our enemies, but no longer are they Soviet-size.

Maybe we should be thankful there are now fewer vets in Congress. Grant Hilliker Veteran of World War II Columbus, Ohio

Thick-skinned theater-goers Your article "Off-Broadway gains ground" (Jan. 22) states that theatergoers have left "Killer Joe" during intermission due to the nudity and violence.

My wife and I went for our recent wedding aniversary and the show was sold out with standing room only, and not a single person left. I wouldn't say the play was the greatest, but I think New York theatergoers are a bit more thick-skinned than your article implies. Daniel Speers Morristown, N.J.

Tundra penumbra I've been wondering a little about correspondent Abraham McLaughlin's articles on Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura ("Ventura wrestles with 'tripartisanship,' " (Jan. 28). There is a certain condescension in Mr. McLaughlin's description of our "frozen tundra." I caught the same tone in another article a few days ago.

Please note that it was over 30 degrees today on the tundra and I notice that in warm and cosy Boston, temperatures have been in the neighborhood of 20 degrees.

Minnesota is a state with one large and many smaller cities and has a reputation for having a well-educated and productive work force.

Unemployment is nearly nonexistent. Farm land here is highly productive. When I first visited the East, I couldn't believe the rocky soil would raise crops!

Talk about our politics as much as you want but let's show a little respect! H. Petrosky Minnetonka, Minn.

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