The NYC GOP -- Do we still live in a free country? The storm trooper behavior of the police during the Republican Convention in New York this week makes me worry that we don't. I am stunned and angry that more than a hundred nonviolent bicyclists were arrested. The police also arrested a peaceful performance artist as he described his sidewalk chalk-writing bicycle to Ron Reagan for MSNBC's Hardball. This excerpt from that artist's report about the treatment of himself and the other bicyclists should scare the wits out of us all, including conservative Republicans:
"After being arrested, I spent 24 hours in the Tombs, a notorious NYC correctional facility, with over a hundred other bicyclists from the previous night's Critical Mass bicycle ride. Several of the cyclists detained were not even part of Critical Mass, but were simply on a bicycle at the wrong time when the police decided to arrest anyone on the streets with a bike. The cyclists had spent the previous night in . . .a former bus depot on the west side piers converted into a holding pen for protestors. [It] had cells sectioned off with chain link fence and razor wire, and a floor covered in motor oil, transmission fluid, and other toxic chemicals. The cyclists were forced to sleep on this floor, many of them only wearing cycling shorts and T-shirts. Several had severe skin rashes the next day as a result."
You can read more about this and see a video of his arrest at www.BikesAgainstBush.com. This really looks like fascism to me. There is no free speech or freedom of assembly under fascism. I am truly scared about what our country is becoming under the current right-wing Republicans. We have not faced such serious threats to and erosions of our civil rights since the dark age of McCarthyism. Peaceful people expressing their beliefs should not be treated like this. The best thing we can do to repel this throwback to the Dark Ages is vote for John Kerry and other Democrats who will protect our civil rights.
Stuck in the Bedroom -- In Paul Seebeck's article "The Religion Gap" (8/19/04), political science professor John Green reflects, "The religious attendance gap would likely disappear if you got rid of abortion, homosexuality and gay marriage, because these are the issues that mobilize regular church attendees." Thus we have from the fundamentalists outrage when a president dallies and when gays seek to marry, but only their silence when America's armies are mobilized in a naked war of aggression wasting countless lives and treasure.
Perhaps instead of concerning themselves so extensively with "bedroom" issues, regular church attendees should reflect on the fact that 1,400 years of Islam, 2,000 years of Christianity, and 5,000 years of Judaism have utterly failed to improve their respective adherents' abilities to live as neighbors with one other. Now that would be a subject around which you could justify a major mobilization. Maybe controlling the private sex acts of "others" is not the key to a peaceful and just world, after all.
The poverty of the religious establishment's "moral" agenda suggests an equal poverty of thought and purpose. Perhaps the issues of poverty, racial prejudice, corruption of governments, disparity between the wealthy and the poor, destruction of the earth's natural treasures for profit, and America's massive arming of the third world are just too much for the religious institutions to tackle safely, despite their millions of adherents and billions in financial assets.
Yep, it's definitely easier to call for a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage. That'll straighten things out, for sure.
Nine Mile Falls, Wash.
Bush Divided U.S. -- After reading his article "Father Knows Best" (8/26/04), I have a few comments for Ted McGregor. I don't think "the power of money" is eroding our nation. I certainly agree with your points about the ills foisted upon us by the massive tax cuts, the polluters writing the legislation, and the problem with one party beaten into submission.
I think the problem is that an incompetent, reckless person with way too much power is our president. It's a classic example of too much power in one person's hands. George Bush went all over the country campaigning for fellow Republicans during the midterm elections and got most of them elected. The Republicans then took over both houses of Congress. Most of those members of Congress couldn't say no to the man who got them elected. So unfortunately, W. had carte blanche to do whatever he wanted. And did he ever do things: He invaded Iraq, slashed taxes (mostly for the rich) and gave big business and the polluters anything they wanted, etc.
It's like the guy in the bar who says, "If I was President, I'd head over to the Middle East and kick some ass." Unfortunately, that's our President: an unread, easy-money frat boy, trying to remake the world in simplistic black and white terms. If Bush isn't our worst President, he's in the top two or three.
So that's what the problem is: an incompetent is running our country without checks and balances. The bickering has always been with us. Probably some of the slams and insults of the 18th and 19th centuries were worse than today. We can just hope and pray that Bush gets un-elected this November.
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Legal Layoffs? -- I have been an employee at Sacred Heart Medical Center (SHMC) for 20 years. I was lucky enough to start under Sister Peter Claver, who ran our hospital with true compassion. Skip Davis and Mike Wilson would like the public to think that they have this same compassion, but that isn't so.
Recently, 88 LPNs were laid off. Six LPNs were allowed to keep their jobs; the hospital is using this as an excuse to say our union contract doesn't apply and that therefore they can give any severance option they want. SHMC has offered one-week severance pay to LPNs who have been there between 15 and 35 years. Non-union employees have been offered one week for every year worked. The hospital thinks this will be a union-breaker. But so far their strategy has backfired. Our contract also says that any area not mentioned specifically in the contract is open to bargaining at any time. The hospital has refused to honor this part of the contract.
I am asking SHMC patients, both past and present, to write to CEO Skip Davis or to Mike Wilson and protest this discrimination. Most LPNs are close to retirement. Is this not age discrimination? And is it legal to discriminate against union employees?