What's Right with Germany
I hope the signs of Germany's economic turnaround, discussed in "Back on Track" [July 26], are real. But this recovery must be export driven. The country's lack of domestic consumption is not due to fear of the future but to people not having enough money in their pockets. Economic reforms, necessary as they are, will leave most consumers with very little disposable income. Retirement plans will be smaller, forcing people to save more for the future. The high prices for gasoline do not help the consumer either. As your story reported, with the compromises the unions and companies like Siemens and DaimlerChrysler are making to keep jobs in Germany, higher wages are not in sight. So I hope for an even bigger export boom that might create new jobs, because before that happens, only the tourists can increase consumption in Germany.
In your story on the conclusions of Lord Butler's report that Tony Blair took Britain to war on a false premise but should nonetheless be absolved from blame [July 26] you included a photo of an antiwar protester's banner that read BLAIR LIED, THOUSANDS DIED. The slogan is of course all wrong. Not only does it flagrantly contradict the facts of recent history in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, but it is also propaganda of the worst kind, a lie that no one who knows what the situation really was like would or could honestly believe. Saddam's terror against his own people brought death to many thousands of Iraqis, and the longer he remained in power, the more deaths would have come about. Let me put it this way: "Blair was brave/ Wanting to save/ Thousands from the grave." This, naturally, also applies to President Bush.
Formula for Boredom?
Michael Schumacher's dominance of Formula One racing is yawn inducing [July 26]. I grew up a big fan of Formula One races and have enjoyed many years following the sport. Unfortunately, as more and more high-tech auto innovations were allowed, I began to lose interest. The racing was getting sterile, even boring. Now, with almost zero competition among the cars and drivers, you can count me as one whose interest is nonexistent.
Fort Collins, Colorado, U.S.
Schumacher's superiority is not hurting Formula One; it is the pinnacle of motor racing, and viewers should understand they are watching history in the making as Schumacher racks up more world championships than any other driver. He is a brilliant competitor with an incredible team supporting him. For the International Automobile Federation (FIA) to create regulations that would hobble him and Ferrari is backward thinking. The sport should be moving forward. It's the job of the other teams, not the FIA, to find a solution to their lack of competitiveness within the existing regulations.
Know Thine Enemy
"The Iran Connection" reported on the evidence uncovered by the 9/11 commission that there were contacts between al-Qaeda and Iran between October 2000 and February 2001 [July 26]. That is further confirmation that the U.S. attacked the wrong country. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. Your story noted that Osama bin Laden declined an offer of collaboration with Iran to avoid alienating his supporters in Saudi Arabia. So, what better country to attack than Saudi Arabia? The warfare should have been not military but economic, in the form of subsidizing a Manhattan Project to end our dependence on oil. We can start now and lead the world, or wait for the oil to run out and watch other countries take advantage.
Beaverton, Oregon, U.S.
Fantasy and Reality
I was taken aback by Richard Schickel's rather brusque film review of King Arthur [July 26]. Schickel seems to think that director Antoine Fuqua's vision, with its emphasis on realism, is the film's downfall. Instead, Schickel believes that "what these movies really need are cheeky athletes as their heroes" and in addition, "flash, sass and genial trash." It is quite disconcerting when a film reviewer says villains should spew sardonic menace, in a sense asserting wicked one-dimensionality, which any film lover knows is a one-way ticket to B-moviedom. At least Fuqua had a discerning vision; Schickel seems to lack just that.
"Marked Women" [July 26], on the rash of honor killings committed by Iraqi men against female family members suspected of straying from traditional rules of chastity, left me overcome with feelings of outrage, disgust and sadness. My beautiful 16-year-old daughter died in a car accident several years ago, and her loss continues to bring our family indescribable pain. I know that her father and brother would give their lives in a heartbeat if doing so would bring her back. That fathers and brothers kill daughters and sisters in the name of honor is beyond abominable.
I cannot understand how Iraqi men can so blatantly mistreat their women and feel no remorse or shame. How can they kill their mothers, sisters, wives and girlfriends with such ferocity? Don't they see their women suffering? Do they not understand that for their country to have a future, men and women need to work together? Murder is wrong, regardless of what a woman has done or not done.
The Moral of Martha
Martha Stewart's prison sentence for conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal investigators is a stark reminder that if we fail to obey the law, we will suffer the consequences [July 26]. From time to time we need to be reminded of our moral responsibilities. Stewart could have avoided the scandal that enveloped her simply by taking the high road and admitting that she had made a mistake.
New York City
I was outraged by Stewart's remark that "there [are] many other people that have gone to prison. Look at Nelson Mandela." How dare she even hint at any parallels between her jail sentence and Mandela's ordeal. Her upcoming prison time has nothing at all to do with the 27 years Mandela spent locked up under inhumane conditions. Stewart is going to prison because she lied about a transaction aimed at making her even richer. Mandela risked his life and was imprisoned because he fought against apartheid. To make any comparison is insulting.
Division Over Unions
Re columnist Andrew Sullivan's essay on the Senate's defeat of the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage [July 26]: For anyone to claim that the weddings of same-sex couples somehow tarnish the sanctity of marriage is absolutely ridiculous. How sacred is marriage when two people can be wed by an Elvis impersonator in a Las Vegas drive-through chapel? Or get married and then have the union annulled two days later, as Britney Spears did? If gay marriage is such a threat and heterosexual marriage is so sacred, why isn't the religious right working to create a constitutional amendment to ban divorce, thus preserving the sanctity of marriage forever?
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
As a straight male who has been married for 18 years to the same woman and, with her, is raising three children, I fail to see how allowing gay marriage would degrade, in any way, my marriage. Considering what gays have to go through to get married, most gay couples who want to marry are probably less likely than straight couples to get divorced, since 50% of straight marriages fail.
Mark J. Olberding
Nevada, Iowa, U.S.
Sullivan's argument that those who support the Federal Marriage Amendment are simply using the issue to mobilize President Bush's political base was absolutely absurd. This is an issue of morality, not politics. Those who oppose homosexual marriage do so because they believe it goes against God's will and because they believe children are healthiest and happiest when raised by a married mother and father. To use the issue to attack Bush is ludicrous and frighteningly divisive.
Tustin, California, U.S.