Deploying antimissile defense is years away

Regarding Pat Holt's July 6 column "Scrap the ABM; stick with diplomacy that works": Whether or not the test firing on Friday functioned as wished, there is no problem of "deployment" simply because there is no force to deploy and probably will not be for 10 years. There is no deployment crisis any more than when John F. Kennedy was running for president.

The development of antimissile technology, be it short or long range, is important to US defenses. And when a good reliable antimissile system has been developed it would make sense to accommodate it on a new class of destroyers, where mobility has its obvious advantages. "Scrap the ABM" is dubious advice.

As for diplomacy, it did not prevent the Egyptians from waging war against the Israelis. It did not stop the Israelis from waging war against the Lebanese. It did not stop Iraq from invading Kuwait. But our big stick has prevented any serious forays against US forces. Does it not make common sense to protect our forces and our civilians with our best technology?

Paul S. Eckhoff Stockport, N.Y.

Movies confuse the learning of history

Regarding your editorial, "Rain on the Fourth's parade" (July 5): We can't blame only poor teachers (and poor students) for the failings of our youth to comprehend and remember history. Pseudo-intellectual Hollywood has much culpability.

In a day and age in which, sadly, the mainstream media is the most significant source of information for many Americans, "blockbuster" movies like "The Patriot" (which distorts factual events), do a disservice to Americans by producing over-romanticized and erroneous versions of our past. Is it really any wonder that our children (and our leaders) are so confused?

Michael Pravica Las Vegas, N.M.

Your editorial contains some small mistakes. Although trivial, these errors are inappropriate in an editorial calling for increased education in American history.

First, Lincoln's order freeing most slaves in the United States is generally referred to as the Emancipation Proclamation, not the Emancipation Declaration.

Secondly, although James Madison was among the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution, it is inaccurate to call him the "father" of the document. Madison is actually the father of the Bill of Rights, having drafted the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution himself.

Chris Colvin San Francisco

Judging Gore on schmooze appeal

Godfrey Sperling misses the point in his June 27 column "Before all the schmooze." While President Clinton is the master of the art, the defining difference between his schmoozing and that of George W. Bush is that Clinton is very intelligent and has the ability to say the right thing at the right time. The fact that Al Gore may not be the best at this in public is no indication of what he is like in private.

Maybe if all the political pundits would stop judging our candidates on such specious reasons (and don't think we, as a public, don't know who generates these reasons and keeps them at the forefront of our attentions) then we would could actually engage in an intelligent discourse.

Michael Szwed San Francisco

Web 'cookies'

Eric E. Sterling's July 3 opinion piece "Uncle Sam's 'cookie' is watching you" was very enlightening.

How about an easy-to-understand follow up telling how we all may remove "cookies" from our hard drives?

Bill Bond Williston, Vt.

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