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No Fast-Track Decisions - I am very concerned about soon-to-be decided fast track legislation. Everyone should be watching this bill very carefully. There are some very powerful people who want it passed, and they will probably do anything they can to see that it is. You know why? Because it makes the president an emperor -- master of all trade all over the world -- something every conqueror in world history has been trying to achieve since people began to form societies. No one in the world should ever have that much power.


The Founding Fathers of America would never have approved giving the executive branch so much power. There is no good reason for passing this legislation in any form. Our Congress should conduct research and debate and vote on trade legislation, just as they always have. They should not, under any circumstances give up any more power to the executive branch of our government, which could reasonably be accused of running amok and leaning toward tyranny and fascism. Contact your legislators and tell them no on fast track.


Anne McLaughlin


Spokane, Wash.





Ninth Circuit is Right - Compulsion and "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," are, in my opinion, the key word and phrase, respectively, in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, ruling the Pledge of Allegiance, containing the phrase "under God," to be unconstitutional


Framers of the Bill of Rights were well aware of the excesses of British monarchs, Tudors and Stuarts, had committed in the name of religion. People were compelled to belong to the religion of the reigning monarch, and those who did not paid a heavy price -- Sir Thomas More, for one, with his life.


There is legal precedent for the decision, found in W. Va. Bd. of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. at 642 (1942). The heart of the Barnette decision, again in my opinion, is: "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us." And: "We think the action of the local authorities in compelling the flag salute and pledge transcends constitutional limitations on their power and invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which it is the purpose of the First Amendment to our Constitution to reserve from all official control."


Compulsion may not be used by any state or the federal government, to force any person to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, nor may Congress by law, compel school children to profess their belief in a Christian God.


If you really believe in freedom for all, you may not compel some to give up their freedom, to believe or not as they choose, to conform to your idea of what is right and proper. The First Amendment says, in part, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion." The 9th Circuit Court read the First Amendment.


Al Mangan


Spokane, Wash.





God Doesn't Bless Nations - This is a response to Alan Wolfe's commentary, Leave the Pledge [of Allegiance] Alone, which ran in the July 4 edition of The Inlander.


I am sure Wolfe's article assuages many religious fanatics and patriotic zealots. Like Swiss cheese, it tastes good and yet is full of holes.


Wolfe says: "nothing about the pledge is coercive. Students can opt out of saying it." Apparently, he does not remember or understand what it is like to be a child. To a 10-year-old, 25 of his classmates standing and reciting a pledge all at the same time is very coercive. Children can be coerced.


We went until 1954 without the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance when Joe and his true American, self-righteous, McCarthy, communist- hating zealots were at their most froth-full pitch.


Although I do believe there is a God, we don't all believe there is a God. The phrase "under God" isn't symbolic. It was meant to mean as it implies. And as Wolfe uses the lame rationale that the majority believes in God and therefore "under God" should stay in the pledge, I wonder if that majority would so agree if the word "God" was symbolic of the tooth fairy.


Wolfe says: "The only people excluded by the term [under God] are atheists." Sorry, Wolfe. Wrong. Agnostics don't believe or disbelieve in God. I consider myself to be a believer and yet an agnostic; a believing agnostic. There is nothing more personal than one's own spiritual quest, and to need or want public affirmation of personal beliefs is to use society's validation as some sort of security blanket for one's own lack of faith.


Of course, it is well known that one of God's great attractions for so many of us mortals is that God plays the role of the big father in the sky, who can assuage all our insecurities and will do so with proper supplication and idolization. "God bless America," "one nation, under God." Do Americans think that if they parrot such things enough that that will somehow make it true?


America: what would it be without its delusions? We think movie stars, sports stars, rock stars are important. We think it matters if we utter the words "one nation under God" as if that washes us all or absolves us from our shortcomings on a personal and a national level.


In my belief system, God does not bless nations or peoples; God blesses individuals. To think that we as a group of people are blessed by God any more than any other peoples is as ridiculous as a football coach attributing his team's victory to God's blessing.


Tom Brooks


Spokane, Wash.

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