I enjoyed "Friends with Benefits" [Feb. 20]. It brought back memories of our Labrador befriending a baby bison on our farm. They certainly met anthropologist Barbara King's standard for friendship, i.e., putting some effort into their relationship. The two groomed each other, licking each other's ears often and affectionately. It was amazing to witness.
Jennifer Rief, DURHAM, N.H.
My poodle Henry and his best friend, labradoodle Ernie, don't get why you had dogs on the cover but never mentioned friendships like theirs in the article.
Larry Coffin, BRADFORD, VT.
Catholics and Contraception
Conservatives are up in arms that Catholics might be required to pay for birth control ["Obama vs. the Church," Feb. 20]. But Catholics in the U.S. have often paid, via taxes, for things that run counter to Catholicism: the death penalty, wars condemned by the Pope, detainment of immigrant families who crossed the border to seek a better life. The right stands up for "free exercise of religion" only when it suits its agenda.
Brian Range, AUSTIN
Rich Lowry declares in his column that "Thomas Jefferson didn't write a letter to the Danbury Baptists about how best to help people avoid pregnancy." Yet what Lowry calls the "encroachment of secular government" is what has given women the right to vote, the right not to be poisoned by toxic air or dirty water, the right to go to multiracial schools and, yes, even the right not to have a dozen children. I'm pretty sure Jefferson didn't think to write the Danbury Baptists about those ideas either.
Phyllis L. Ballata, WHITE BEAR LAKE, MINN.
First Italy, Then the U.S.?
Re "The Most Important Man in Europe" [Feb. 20]: Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti should head to Washington after he's finished in Rome in 2013. Michael Schuman's description of the partisan politics and corruption that have distressed Italy sounds all too familiar and should be required reading for every member of Congress. We need the full Monti too.
Jeff Davis, WEST CHESTER, PA.
Wrinkles in Time
The photographs of this year's Oscar nominees were stunning ["Great Performances," Feb. 20]. But what a shame the airbrush tool broke down before the photographer could touch up the men.
Annette DiGiacomo, LAKEWOOD, COLO.
Preet Bharara has not collared what your cover line calls the "masters of the meltdown" ["The Street Fighter," Feb. 13]. And he won't collar them unless he goes after Chris Dodd (former chairman of the Senate Banking Committee), Barney Frank (former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee) and other Democrats who refused to heed the warnings from Bush Administration officials of potential problems at Fannie and Freddie.
William P. Barron Jr., FAIRBORN, OHIO
I don't understand why publications like Time legitimize Ann Coulter, in this case by giving her a voice in your gallery "What Is a Conservative?" [Feb. 13]. Coulter's goal is to make herself wealthy and famous by being outrageously insulting, bigoted and misogynistic. Notoriety does not equal insight.