States Right$

Maryann Cusimano Love (“The Defense Dilemma,” 3/8) points out the incredible waste in defense programs. To her credit she allots blame not just to the military and their contractors but also to the legislators. Bureaucracies are inherently wasteful and inefficient. The Defense Department and the Department of Health and Human Services are bureaucracies.

In my opinion, the root of the problem with defense spending rests with the Congress, not with the military. Take as an example, the F-35 fighter jet program. It is unnecessary and should be replaced with considerably less expensive Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. But the problem is that the production of the aircraft is spread over 44 states. Which congressman or senator is going to blink?


Michael Collins

Myersville, Md.

A Gift

The Of Many Things column by James Martin, S.J., on March 8 was a magnificent tribute to John W. Donohue, S.J. I was a senior at Fordham when Thomas More College for women was founded, and I was enormously blessed to hear Father Donohue speak on occasion. What a gift he was to America, as you all know better than I. Praise God for this great priest.

Tim Collins

Vienna, Va.

America and John W. Donohue, S.J., have been part of my life for many years now. This reflection brought tears to my eyes. Well done, Father Jim.

J. Peter Nixon

Concord, Calif.

Father John W. Donohue was a very strong influence on many of us New York seminarians through elective courses he taught in education at Dunwoodie Seminary. Insightful, witty, topical, engaging, cultured, patient—all that and more. And because of him I came to know of and read The New Yorker then and ever since!

(Msgr.) Kevin W. Irwin

Washington, D.C.

Eye-Witness Reaction

Re “The Other America,” by Tim Padgett (3/8): The author’s description of what happened here is as off-base as was the CNN Español channel’s slanted coverage of what transpired. I’ve been living here for several years, and I disagree that Honduras would have been better off with Zelaya in office.

The author’s statement that “Zelaya’s proposed nonbinding plebiscite never mentioned re-election” is misleading at best. Everyone living in this country had been listening to him and knew exactly what he was up to. He planned to follow Chávez and others and stay in office. His wanting to “take a poll” on the issue was just a way of stirring up a frenzy that he anticipated would sweep him into continuous presidential status.

What Micheletti did was quite simply to save democracy in Central America. His actions contradicted the status quo in Central America, where presidents have been figuring out ways to stay in office. CNN Español covered the pro-Zelaya marches more than Micheletti’s pro-government marches; thus world opinion was swayed by biased news coverage.

I witnessed the marches personally. The Micheletti marches, referred to here as the “pro-government” marches, were civilized and the numbers were huge. The people were average, everyday working class Hondurans trying to keep their country from becoming another Cuba or Venezuela. The Zelaya marchers were bused in from rural areas, paid $20 a day and were a bunch of hoodlums. They burned businesses, painted graffiti on everything and did thousands of dollars of damage to property.

And contrary to what a lot of media reported, the military did not take over Honduras. They were simply the tool used to physically remove Zelaya. This was not the perfect solution. A democratic process to oust Zelaya would have been better. But this is a country still trying to claw its way into the 20th century. The end result was that a free democratic election was held; and Honduras, imperfect though it is, is still a democracy.

Robin James

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Preachers’ Aid

Domestic violence (Editorial, “Behind Closed Doors,” 3/8) tears the heart and soul out of so many, especially children. In 1993, the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference made a superb 12-minute video, “When You Preach, Remember Me,” a challenge to all preachers to speak out boldly against domestic violence. This topic is too rarely addressed from the pulpit. Maybe America’s Web magicians could find and then run the 1993 video on America’s Web site, or link to the U.S.C.C.B.’s more recent offerings on the topic.

Rick Malloy, S.J.

Philadelphia, Pa.

Children’s Rights

Re “Friendly Persuasion,” by Robert Barron (Books & Culture, 3/8): I think that the pro-abortion forces have defined the argument: It is not a children’s rights issue, it is a women’s rights issue. Until we shift the ground and make it a children’s rights issue, Roe v. Wade will stand, with support by a plurality of the American public.

Robert Davis

Nairobi, Kenya

Ambiguity Versus Precision

Re “Friendly Persuasion,” by Robert Barron (Books & Culture, 3/8): Indeed, that one simple scene from “Juno” seemed to speak more powerfully than years of arguments by even the most impassioned defenders of the unborn (which often repel as much as they attract or persuade).

Unfortunately, many would fault “Juno” for being too ambiguous or for not taking a clear stand. But I think you affirm the important point that God speaks to us at the intersection of ambiguity and imagination, if we allow it to, at least as often as—if not more often than—at the intersection of precision and reason. Thanks for the reminder!

Mark Mossa, S.J.

Bronx, N.Y.

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