Sounding off: We need Mitt Romney's courage
At a time in which many American patriots have wondered who within the Republican Party will now be present in Congress to challenge the president for the destruction that he has inflicted on our nation, its character and our values, we have the good fortune to be at the dawn of the congressional leadership of Mitt Romney, who is now the junior senator from Utah.
Romney's recent Washington Post opinion piece is a tour de force, a throwing down of the gauntlet to an abnormal and amoral president. It is no wonder that many members of what has become the Trumpublican Party are expressing concerns.
While expressing support for many of Donald Trump's policies and actions, Romney challenges Trump for his actions, hateful words and deficient character, noting how he has used his victory to engage in name-calling and resentment and promising to continue to speak out against conduct which is "divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions," all of which are Trump hallmarks.
We now have reason to believe that the president's expectation that he will have another "yes man" in Romney will not be reality.
May Romney continue to display the courage, decency and adherence to American values that are evident in his essay. We need more like him.
Oren Spiegler, South Strabane
New year, same soup?
On New Year's Day, members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly were sworn in and seated. There were a few more women, some younger members, some more progressive Democrats and more moderate Republicans — but will there really be any change?
Will any one of them, or any bloc of them, pull this state into the 21st century? Or two years from now, will we still be relying on property taxes to fund an inequitable public school system? Still be paying to drive on a highway that should have been paid for decades ago? Will our roads be under endless construction, yet somehow come out the perennial worst in the nation?
Will we still be buying alcoholic beverages from a system set up after Prohibition? Will we continue to forgo billions in revenue with criminalized cannabis and no shale extraction fees? Will we still have a justice system skewed against certain communities?
Will our legislative and congressional districts remain drawn by partisan hacks? And, will we still have the nation's largest, most bloated Legislature?
If any or all that nonsense is still in place two years from now, then no matter how you hype the new membership, it's the same soup in a different bowl ... .
George Hawdon, Arnold
The Catholic Church will prevail
What to think of Bob Rocker's letter " Priests are the ones who should have been confessing "? Like Rocker, all Catholics are angry, frustrated and feel betrayed by the scandal that has befallen our church. However, unlike Rocker, the vast majority of Catholics don't think cutting and running is the proper response. Catholics have every right to expect their priests to be morally superior. However, we should not be Catholic because of such expectations. The vast majority of Catholics believe in and love their church and know it is worth fighting for.
How do we fight? Letters to the parish or bishop expressing our concerns, prayer, attending Mass on a regular basis, or just plain getting involved. We should not be Catholic because we hold church leaders to a position of moral superiority, but because of Catholic dogma. The Catholic Church has been a force for good in the world for over 2,000 years, and will continue to be so.
For myself, I'm Catholic because Jesus Christ was crucified and rose from the dead. I'm Catholic because of the sacraments, especially the most Holy Eucharist. I'm Catholic because of Mary, the Blessed Mother, and I'm Catholic because of the angels and saints. I'm proud to be a Catholic and cannot imagine a day in my life not being Catholic.
Jesus' church will prevail; he promised it.
Rudolph Puchan, Latrobe
Address the gun issue now
As the new year opens afresh, ask yourself: What must change in 2019?
A new legislative session is about to commence in Pennsylvania. Our representatives will start the new session by acting for us -- "We the people" — and voting accordingly. If not, democracy is extinct in our land and is merely a theoretical concept.
We must address legislatively the gun culture plaguing our society. Mayor Bill Peduto and Councilman Corey O'Connor desire to enact a municipal ordinance to restrict guns in the City of Pittsburgh. I support their efforts and you should, too.
Now's the time to call your state representative and senator and demand political action at the state level to appropriate funds for and enforce any municipal ordinances that get passed.
To members of Congress and the General Assembly: We want a bill at the federal and state levels to eliminate bump stocks, require universal background checks and ban assault weapons — now. Don't sit on this until June when budget time rolls around.
The state and federal taxes we pay become your paychecks tomorrow. We will march, protest, badger you and shut you down if you refuse to help our city's elected leaders enact common-sense gun reform. Our representatives (Doyle, Kelly, Reschenthaler, Scarnati, Turzai, Corman, et al.) were duly elected by us to represent us, not the NRA. Will you refuse to act by hiding behind archaic documents, by referencing the state and federal Constitutions?
Is the gun culture we have allowed to be created representative of the civil society that the framers envisioned?
George Karpacs, South Park Township
Socialists and the presidency
I agree with The New York Times' warning to Nancy Pelosi not to give too much power to the newly elected House Democrats who call themselves "Democratic socialists." They will be a minority of the Democrats in the House.
I don't enjoy being unkind or insulting toward anyone, even the Republicans in Congress, a sizeable minority of whom are really scary "survival of the fittest" social Darwinists, but you have to be a complete idiot to call yourself a "Democratic socialist." That includes Bernie Sanders, who I like and agree with 90 percent of the time.
First, they are not true socialists because they do not advocate abolishing our capitalist economic system.
Second, if you believe that anyone who calls herself/himself a "socialist" can be elected president of the United States, then you must live in Dreamland.
I do agree with their belief that our federal government should do more and spend more to help the poor, the near-poor, the lower middle class and the middle class who are struggling to survive and to pay their bills. They need to inform and educate the public to the fact that almost every one of our traditional allies (if not all of them) have federal governments that do more and spend more (in proportion to their population sizes) than we do in the USA.
And, to paraphrase Al Pacino in the movie "And Justice For All," for us to be right about this, all of these other countries have to be wrong.
I don't think so.
Stewart B. Epstein, Rochester, N.Y.
War on the poor
Three blocks from the theater where I saw "A Christmas Carol," a gray-haired woman sat on the sidewalk with her two grandsons. Both under 3, they couldn't open their granola bars and gnawed at the wrappers instead.
Her sign read "Please help." My son and I bought groceries, then accompanied her and the toddlers to her room at a Downtown shelter. There, staff warned that these little guys were not welcome after 11 p.m. Grandma said "OK," but it wasn't clear what would happen later.
Upstairs, her cell-size room was ajumble with all she owned. We parked the bags and then Grandma hugged my son and me and bade the boys to wave "thank you."
Flush with cash, corporations and CEOs give generously to top politicians in exchange for massive tax cuts. Meanwhile, conservative politicians "fix" the revenue loss by cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Program and other "unaffordable" services for the poor.
When Congress cuts taxes for the rich and food stamps for the needy, they turn America's back on grandmas and toddlers with their cardboard pleas and little mouths.
Has the war on the poor brought us to Dickens' era of indifference, hate and humbug?
Tom O'Brien, Mt. Lebanon
Civil justice for Donald Wuerl?
The pope has accepted Donald Wuerl's resignation of his bishopric office. That's an internal action by the Catholic Church. The Pennsylvania attorney general, based on a formal grand jury report, has accused Wuerl of covering up many instances of sexual abuse of minors by priests under his jurisdiction when he was bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Will Wuerl now be charged with a crime or misdemeanor under criminal law for this coverup? Isn't that the appropriate next step given the evidence reported by the grand jury?
Ed Collins, West Newton