Group has a bias in favor of progressive presidents
Re: "More grade inflation for the president," July 7
The Siena Research Institute's latest presidential "survey" is notable only for its shameless favoritism of "progressive" presidents at the expense of historical accuracy. For example, of the top 16 presidents, 12 are Democrats. Only four Republicans -- Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan -- are in the top 20.
Reagan's ranking is perhaps the most suspect. In seven major surveys since 2000, Reagan's mean ranking is No. 7. However, the average SRI ranking is No. 17.
Presidential legacies generally don't develop for 10 to 15 years after a president leaves office. Yet this survey ranks President Obama (No. 15) and former President George W. Bush (No. 39) less than two years after Obama took office. The effects of both tenures are still in flux, making current assessments arbitrary and endlessly distortable.
Such surveys are supposed to educate, but SRI chose only to promote totemic leaders of its ideological preferences.
Mark E. Quartullo
Excessive energy demands will eventually kill off bears
Re: "Leaving the lights on won't actually kill a polar bear," July 4
Meghan Cox Gurdon is right. It is our collective demand for light, heat, air conditioning, refrigeration and mobility that is increasing the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, which in turn is predicted to increase temperatures enough to melt the polar ice sheets and result in the extinction of the polar bears.
It is nice to reassure the little girl that she isn't killing bears when she turns on the lights. Of course, she may feel a little betrayed when the ice actually does melt and the bears die off. It is too easy to dismiss global warming as "adult hysteria." We know that carbon dioxide captures heat in the atmosphere and that burning coal, oil and natural gas emits carbon dioxide. We also know that we will need to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, conservation and efficiency as fossil energy enters its inevitable decline.
Perhaps Cox Gurdon is right that we shouldn't scare little children about global warming. But if we are to assure them that nothing is wrong, then we should be working hard to ensure that we are solving the problem.
We've been 'voting the bums out' for 200 years
Americans have always viewed the next round of elections as the place to right any wrongs and correct any dissatisfactions with our government. They can hardly wait until November to cast their votes against the current group of elected officials for their uncontrolled spending, corporate bailouts and takeovers and perceived corruption, and lay their hopes and dreams at the feet of the next cast of characters to be sworn in to control their future.
This time, we tell ourselves, we are going to throw out the bums who betrayed our trust and will only vote for those who promise to defend the Constitution.
Will it be different this time? I doubt it. We've been playing musical chairs with political parties and their candidates for two centuries, but each election seems to draw America closer to her demise, rather than restoring her to her former glory.
Maybe there is something inherently wrong with our system. Or maybe George Washington was right when he warned us not to allow political parties to have any part of our republic.
Dennis Kolb Sr.
Clear Spring, Md.