Kerry: Heed people's support of Edwards in primaries

Regarding your June 21 article "Kerry's unhurried VP search": John Edwards is at least as likely to help John Kerry win Missouri as is Richard Gephardt. In the Missouri primary, Edwards came in second while Gephardt came in seventh. True, this was after Gephardt had dropped out of the race, but note that both Edwards and Dean were able to carry their own states after dropping out.

Furthermore, John Edwards may very well help Kerry to win North Carolina. A recent Mason-Dixon poll shows that putting Edwards on the ticket would make North Carolina a dead heat. A Democratic presidential candidate has not won there since 1976.

Ultimately though, it's not about carrying one state. Edwards would make the South competitive for Kerry, make George W. Bush expend resources to keep the South, and help to boost Southern congressional candidates. Gephardt would not.

Additionally, I believe that in a year when so many Americans feel disenfranchised by flawed voting processes and are questioning whether our democracy works, John Kerry needs to show his democratic intentions by listening to the unprecedented popular support for one VP candidate - John Edwards.
Laura Perkins
Santa Cruz, Calif.

Realistic perspective on China

The writer of your June 16 article "Getting to know the residents of Beijing" makes a mistake of perspective typical of foreign visitors to China.

Beijing's hutong laneways are not romantic remnants of a lost China - they are open sewers inhabited by the extremely poor. On either side the siheyuan courtyard house high walls do not reflect elements of feng shui - but rather a desire for some privacy in overpopulated China. Rather than lamenting the demolition of hutong and siheyuan as an architectural conservation tragedy, we should be celebrating the destruction of what are, in reality, mostly brick shantytowns.

Tours via pedicab through "renovated" siheyuan bear as much relationship to China's "real past" as a trip to Disney's "Main Street" does to America's real past.
Shannon Roy

'God': ancient word for modern unity

Regarding Erwin Chemerinsky's June 18 opinion piece "Tiptoeing around 'under God' ": Critics are missing the unifying significance of the Supreme Court's posture on "under God." To defer removal of the phrase from the Pledge of Allegiance is not to establish religion; nor did we establish religion by its insertion. As it stands, the phrase "under God" simply complements "indivisible," as surely as the invention of monotheism presaged universal justice, unity, and peace. Many modern citizens have no religion but find common ground in the ancient word, stripped of anthropomorphism.

"God" concisely beckons us: transcend differences, realize brotherhood.
Rick Sprague
Sharon, Mass.

Dads need opportunities to fulfill role

Regarding your June 16 article "Superdad becomes the new standard for men": Thank you for a positive article on fathers, an increasing rarity in the media. One issue not mentioned in your article was expectations for divorced fathers. Changes in statewide custody laws that presume joint custody in the event of a divorce would go a long way to ensure that fathers will continue to play an essential role in their children's lives after divorce.

Greater expectations for fathers can be met only if men are given the opportunity to play a greater role in their children's lives - especially critical in the event of divorce.
Mark Benedyk
San Diego

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