Readers write

Neither party has been clean

Regarding your Dec. 6 article "Public patience fading for Gore": If this is true I hope that neither public or politicians will forget that he has opened wide the questions of fair vs. manipulative politics. Are the American people tired of Al Gore's persistence, or just tired and ashamed of the hugeness of the questions raised?

Neither of the parties is clean. There has been exaggeration and manipulation everywhere. That is what we are tired of. Let us not waste time and energy on blame, but recognize a level of political cleansing that has not happened for some time.

One more hope: that neither major party find the need to arrogantly declare us as leaders of the world. If we are, our works will show it, without declaiming the cultural characteristics and ethnic dignity of other countries. We are a global community now.

Doris H. Thurston Port Townsend, Wash.

Turn to students for teacher evaluation

Regarding your Dec. 5 article "City tries paying teachers for results": Why is it that we never ask students who the good teachers are?

I dare say that all of us could name on 10 fingers or less the number of teachers who truly impacted our education, much less our lives. Why not ask seniors in high school which teachers, from kindergarten through eighth grade, were their best teachers and why and then repeat the question again for college seniors? Then pay them according to how many times their names appeared on the list. I think the list would look far different than the one generated by administrators.

Belinda Baker Killeen, Texas

High-speed is no promise of punctuality

Regarding your Dec. 11 article "Today: North America's first bullet-train service": Like many, I dream of a passenger train system in this country that is the envy of the world. On the exciting occasion of Acela's debut, I, however, must caution that banking Amtrak's future on a "21st-century Golden Spike" misses the point if Amtrak cannot improve on a 20th-century-old tradition: on-time arrival and departure.

Among the 15 or so trips I or my family have taken on Amtrak in the past four years, I cannot recall one instance of punctuality. Since the train is so unreliable for attending business meetings, I have chosen to drive on the congested I-95 or to fly, for which my hassles are partly compensated by frequent flyer mileage.

Vincent Wei-cheng Wang Richmond, Va.

Partisanship on the bench

Regarding your Dec. 11 editorial on the United States Supreme Court "The supremes, out of tune": The suggestions that "law" and "politics" are separate and distinct and that the Supreme Court has generally been above and beyond "politics" throughout our history is ridiculous.

The first rejected Supreme Court nomination was during the Washington administration. (That nominee was, incidentally, highly qualified. It took a great deal of politics to sink him.) The 200-year rejection rate for Supreme Court nominees (19 percent) is the highest rejection rate for any national office. Presidents usually choose nominees from their own party and typically find opposition in the Senate when the opposite party is in control. In addition, an incredible mass of scholarship since the 1930s has consistently shown that dissents have increased on the Supreme Court, and party identification is the single best predictor of a justice's vote.

Rockford, Ill. Political Science Professor Rock Valley College

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