Mr. Speaker, You're Up

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Re "Mr. Speaker" [Nov. 15]: In 2008, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States with 69,498,516 votes, the most votes cast for any President in history. On Nov. 2, John Boehner, who has tried to block much of the current Administration's legislation, was re-elected with 139,254 votes — 30% fewer than he received just two years earlier. Yet now he proclaims that "the American people have spoken." This dour naysayer, who in 1995 passed out checks to politicians from tobacco lobbyists on the floor of Congress, would be wise to re-examine and check his astounding arrogance.
Joey Green, WEST HILLS, CALIF., U.S.

I will not mock Boehner for shedding tears when recalling the rough road he traveled while chasing the American Dream. However, I wonder why he doesn't feel a similar empathy for those millions of Americans who are trying just as hard today to realize the American Dream but who are so heartbreakingly failing.
Dorian de Wind, AUSTIN

I was surprised by Representative George Miller's quote that Boehner is "a very hard-nosed Republican partisan." That may be, but as one of Nancy Pelosi's lieutenants, isn't Miller exactly that for the Democrats? That explains why they lost the elections.
Jack Kananian, BRECKSVILLE, OHIO, U.S.

Everything Boehner and others like him do further undermines the American economy and hastens the day China will surpass the U.S. in economic might. When will American voters realize that the politicians they elect to office are causing their country to self-destruct? Political extremists seek to impose their ideology on the whole population, lobbyists control the legislative and budgetary processes, and government for the common good is something that happens only in other countries. The whole system of government is moribund in terms of its ability to formulate national policy and the outcomes it produces for the people. It is hardly appropriate to call it a democracy any longer.
Robert J.E. McAliece, MELBOURNE

A day after the elections, Boehner said the current health care bill will "ruin the best health care system in the world." What system is he using? My wife and I pay $1,300 per month for our policy, which had a 60% premium increase this year. It has taken me six months to get paid for a simple claim for my daughter, with over 40 hours of letter writing, phone calls and listening to excuses about "lost paperwork." Health care and job creation should be the Republicans' top priorities.
Paul Creteau, LAKEVILLE, PA., U.S.

Show Me the Money
Fareed Zakaria's "A Real Revolution?" should be required reading for all members of Congress, especially those Republicans recently elected to office [Nov. 15]. How can one call for deficit reduction and tax cuts simultaneously? How can one wish to cut the deficit and leave defense, Medicare and Social Security off the table? If Republicans are serious about the deficit, it is also time to trim Medicare and to means-test Social Security. Hard medicine, to be sure — but since the Republicans under George W. Bush created this deficit, they should shoulder the responsibility to undertake the hard steps to reduce it.
Katie Stevens, MOAB, UTAH, U.S.

Let's Not Mince Words
Re "Time to Start Over" [Nov. 25]: The Republicans swept into power because many American voters put folksy "common sense" above coherent and sophisticated economic solutions. Joe Klein needlessly rebrands such ignorant voters as "causally informed." Why the whitewash? Those who would take offense are not going to be reading his Commentary in the first place.
Michael Forster, ORAKEI, NEW ZEALAND

Korean Dream
Michael Schuman's encomium for South Korea reads a bit like a publicity pamphlet for the Seoul G-20 summit [Asia's Latest Miracle, Nov. 15]. Having lived in Seoul for more than five years, I can still say that I am gawked at or leered at on a daily basis and witness to continuing sexism, hierarchical insistence and one-way-only roads for students. Yes, the country has much going for it with cutting-edge technology, a rich history, amazing transportation infrastructure, vast natural wonders and a growing cosmopolitan youth. But sweeping the social realities under the rug won't generate the changes that will truly make South Korea matter.
John M. Rodgers, SEOUL

South Korean technology has made its name, and "Made in Korea" no longer means subpar quality. The success has been largely due to a work ethic and dynamism we Koreans are proud of. The nation was poor four decades ago and now many of us are enjoying a quality lifestyle, but we must not become complacent now.
Jinn Moon-tze, SEOUL

The Air-Cargo Threat
In "Bombs On Board," about explosives planted in airfreight, there was a brief mention of dogs being "among the most effective means of detecting hidden explosives" [Nov. 15]. Yet there was no other mention in the article of using dogs. At the very least, dogs should be used to check every load of cargo. Even the poorest of countries can absorb that cost.
Thomas Smith, SOSDALA, SWEDEN

Massimo Calabresi writes that ever since Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie in 1988, "the world has known that international air transport is vulnerable to terrorism." And there I was, thinking that the 1985 explosion of Air India Flight 182 over the Irish Sea, with 329 people killed by terrorists, would have made this clear. As a respected international newsmagazine, TIME owes its readers a truly global perspective.
Sanjoy Biswas, HARROW, ENGLAND

Your piece on the threat to planes from bombs hidden in cargo was informative and disturbing. But I was concerned at the statement that the Lockerbie bomb was planted by Libyans in Malta. Americans seem unaware of the doubt, especially among some of the British relatives of those who died, over whether that conclusion is correct.
Paul Wraight, BANCHORY, SCOTLAND

Burning Orchards
I take issue with your article describing Jewish settlers setting fire to Palestinians' olive trees [Postcard: Bureen, Nov. 15]. You failed to stress that most Israelis thoroughly condemn such abominable acts.
Shmuel Ofri, TEL AVIV

TIME fell for the superficial story and not the reality of the situation. In early November, Palestinians burned trees and land next to Jewish communities in the Etzion bloc. I am a settler and oppose with all my conscience destroying Palestinian trees or property, but the real story here is more complex.
Rafi Ostroff, GUSH ETZION, WEST BANK

He Blinded Me with Science
In 10 Questions, Stephen Hawking compares the brain to a computer [Nov. 15]. A brilliant invention by humans, the computer is still inferior to the human brain given to us by our Creator. No human can create a brain.
Robert Bickmeyer, TROY, MICH., U.S.

Someone needs to nudge Mr. Hawking on the shoulder and tell him that the realm of God likely begins where physics ends. Trying to explain God's existence from within the confines of physics reminds me of the saying "When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."
Vivek Mehrotra, SAN DIEGO

Pictures of Health
The extraordinary thing about the Life photos of JFK's campaign is how the people look so healthy by today's standards [Trailing Jack, Nov. 15]. This is graphic evidence of the toll that has been taken on human health by 50 years of fast and processed foods and other lifestyle changes.
Cathal Spelman, DUNLAVIN, IRELAND