I consider myself to be an agnostic but I have always thought that the teachings of Jesus Christ are an excellent philosophy for guiding the human race. Jesus was probably one of the many traveling philosophers of his time and the stories of miracles and mysticism relating to him were quite likely invented by early Christians in an effort to attract more followers
Jesus told us to be kind, compassionate and forgiving. Many of his beliefs are in direct conflict with the Old Testament. Much of the Old Testament is based on violence and generally nasty behavior. Today, as well as in the past, many organized "Christian" groups promote teachings that are in direct conflict with the teachings of Jesus and seem to be based on the Old Testament or various anti-Christian beliefs. An early and extreme example of this was the Crusades. During the Crusades the Europeans sent many men and boys to the Middle East to kill Moslems. And kill they did in the name of Christ. Throughout much of Christian history heretics have been tortured and killed. Look at the Salem Witch Trials in our own country or the Inquisition in Europe. All this was done in the name of Jesus.
Following the 9/11 attacks Bush and his cronies began planning a war on Iraq, a nation that had little or nothing to do with the 9/11. Many thousands of Iraqi men, women and children have died in this ongoing war and many American soldiers and civilians have also died in this war. Bush repeatedly lied to Americans in order to justify invading Iraq and killing thousands of people.
All this killing is being promoted by a man who professes to be a devout Christian. What would Jesus have to say about this?
Dan R. Carmichael
Even as we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, the killing in our name goes on. We Americans are responsible for the violent deaths of over 100,000 Iraqi civilians.
Walter O. Jones
Lake Crystal, Minn.
Having read Rev. Allen Brill's article ("'Spiritual Left' Must Resolve Cultural Crisis') in the 12/15/04 TPP -- in fact, because it was insightful and fairly complicated, I read it twice -- I can only say, "Good luck."
The "problem," Brill mentions, is that, "The Left still communicates almost exclusively in the language of Reason and the Enlightenment." Well, I suppose this strategy has been employed in the USA for -- what? -- well, several decades at least. Ample time, anyway, if it's any good, to displace the language of Religion and Superstition that precedes it and has enjoyed general use for only several hundred thousand years.
Brill's solution then? More conviction and the application of "faith development" through several stages that essentially help humans achieve a "new synthesis" that embraces both modernity and spiritual faith. Translated, this means helping humans learn that myths and symbols are -- voila! -- simply myths and symbols (but full of paradox and mystery we must appreciate, all the same). Or, a simpler translation (my own): we must help humans develop an intellect.
I'm all for it. Sign me up. And I can hardly wait to try it out on my cousin Bubba. Though, frankly, I think it'd be easier to convince him that God is dead and we are on our own, like it or not.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Many excuses have been given for the loss of the presidential election by the Democrats. Would you allow one more?
According to statistics, 2% of this country's population own 90% of it's wealth. Since the GOP has always been of, by, and for the wealthy, this wealthy elite now controls both houses of Congress, as well as the judiciary system. Actually they have enough control over all politics, that there is really only one party, with two wings. Now, this elite group did not intend for the Democrat wing to win the election. So they put on this "dog & pony" show with a phony hero, and a litigation lawyer as the Democratic candidates. Had they really wanted to win, they would have picked someone like Sen. Tom Harkin, along with [Sen. Russ] Feingold or Sen. [Patrick] Leahy as their team. Such a team would have cleaned the "bring 'em on" cowboy's plow, and presented him with a one-way ticket to Crawford, Texas.
Because of this wealthy elite's control of Washington, all social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, Social Security and veteran's care, as well as getting a living wage for the lower income working class, will have a "hard row to hoe", during these next four years. THEY WHO OWN THE GOLD MAKE THE RULES.
Moral values seem to have different meanings to different peoples. There is objection to stem-cell research, gay issues, abortion, because of "moral reasons." But there are no particular qualms about starting an unjustified war with Iraq, reducing whole cities to a pile of rubble, committing tortures and killing thousands of people, including women and children. It seems we are living in a state of blurred vision concerning moral values.
Lisa Korrenn Zencoe
Lake Worth, Fla.
Bush is hurting the future of our great grandchildren and their children. They are earmarked to help pay off the debt Bush has run up and is still running up. Bush thinks: Give the rich big tax cuts, then everything will be wonderful. This theory did not work for Reagan or Bush Senior.
President Bush is the world champ, he holds the world record, he has run up in just 3 years, 10 and 3/4 months a debt to the tune of $1,789,653,627,426.81.
Why do not the news media -- newspapers, radio stations, television stations -- bring this very important fact to light? The reason is they are all on the big bandwagon -- they are all getting big tax breaks.
Greed is the answer here. In my book greed is a sin. A very large number of people are being hurt today in their struggle to survive. With Bush's tax structure the number of poor people will keep growing, the middle class will keep shrinking.
When President Bush was campaigning around the country, he stated many times that it's a good thing that our manufacturing and clerical jobs are being performed in foreign countries.
In my thinking Bush will go down in history as the worst thing that ever happened to the USA.
(Mr.) Clare J. Crowley
RE: Terrible choices confront Oregon [by Les AuCoin, 12/15/04 TPP, on passage of an initiative to require state and local governments to compensate developers for land-use restrictions] ... Environmentalists and social justice proponents have wonderful ideas, but focus only on symptoms. It is immaterial how many laws we pass, if we do not confront fertility. Ever-exploding human numbers will spread and cover the planet, legally or illegally.
Yes, we need a clean environment to survive, but the finite environment will support finite numbers. Nowhere in the article did I see how much land and how much water per person is needed to support one person. Nor did I see how this number is compared to human numbers in Oregon.
We need to base our rhetoric in reality. All economic and survival activity must come from some eco system. Since systems are finite, our fertility needs to controlled.
Oklahoma City, Okla.
Looking at the gay union subject from the standpoint of a world overburdened with human beings, more gays and gay unions would be a blessing.
Everett L Williams
Besides FDR's "Test of our progress" speech cited by Arianna Huffington [12/15/04 TPP], progressive populists should be prepared to cite Lyndon Baines Johnson's: "In a land of great wealth, families must not live in poverty. In a land rich in harvest, children must not go hungry. In a land of healing miracles, neighbors must not die unattended. In a land of learning and scholars, young people must be taught to read and write."
However, Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country  says, "40% of the US prison population is functionally illiterate" [p. 198). The US prison recidivism rate is 71%. When prison community colleges were in place, the recidivism rate was 10% for its students and illiteracy was reduced. "75% of welfare recipients are illiterate" (ibid., p. 198). Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) should change its emphasis from work to education, keep the 1996 hours requirements so as not to place an undue burden on nursing mothers and prevent states from imposing a "Family Cap." Abortions rose 17% in New Jersey when it imposed one."
The "2004 Presidential Election and Catholic Social Teaching Report Card says, "Almost 36 million Americans live in poverty, an increase of 4.3 million from four years ago." Liberal, progressive populists must continue America's war on poverty against selfish, regressive plutocrats.
Joseph J. Kuciejczyk
St. Louis, Mo.
Editor's Note: Due to editing errors, a letter in the 12/15/04 TPP misspelled Mr. Kuciejczyk's name and stated the wrong year for the publication of Peter Drucker's book, Management, which was published in 1974.
The Democrats lost the election and power in Congress and many state and local offices. What choice does this leave them?
I suggest they get organized and use the boycott method.
Money is what makes the Big Corporations sit up and take notice.
Those that are not friendly to Democrats, labor, etc. should be targeted for boycotts. Get a list of those that gave money to and were supportive of the Bush and Republican campaign and zero in on them with boycotts.
Some boycotts have already proven effective. Why not use them to secure more favorable aid from these corporations for the Democrats?
Since the election, mainstream news outlets appear to have bought uncritically the notion that concerns about the accuracy of e-voting are not only unfounded, but to be ridiculed. Expressions of concern about the lack of auditable paper trails have been spun to sound like paranoiac rantings. Is there no antidote to this brilliantly dangerous "rational concerns equal nonsense" spin? There is -- The Progressive Populist has been a refreshing exception to the above trend on this and other issues. It is my observation that thoughtful, intellectually honest people work on local newspapers here and across the country. Why not get them better information? I plan to buy a gift subscription to The Progressive Populist for my local paper. Why not do that where you live?
American-made products are becoming hard to find. However, there is an all-union Internet shopping site (www.shopunionmade.org) ... Please pass the word!
James J. Hoover
In his article "Deja Vu All Over Again" (12/15/04 TPP), Wayne O'Leary makes some good points regarding the inadequate strategy of the Kerry campaign. All excuses aside, I think that Bush's win resulted from one primary strategy: Karl Rove turned attention away from the economy and the unpopular war in Iraq and focused on the three G's: God, guns, and gays. Bush supporters voted not on his performance but on ideals.
Instead of trying to be all things to all people, as Kerry appeared to do, the Democrats need a candidate who will stand firmly for our own ideals and who can evoke the kind of emotional responses that win votes from the average American who reacts rather than analyzes.
Perhaps a good first step would be to appoint the passionate, progressive Gov. Howard Dean to be the new Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
A white man in an aggressive act rips a black woman's clothes, exposing her breast. A demeaning act of domination from our slave-holding past? No, that was entertainment featuring Janet Jackson and served up on primetime television. (And it wasn't a case of just turning off your TV or switching channels; viewers didn't know it was coming.) I saw it as a racist, sexist, and hostile act. That is why it surprises me when Arianna Huffington, whom I greatly admire, and other progressives continue making light of this incident, suggesting it is something only silly, conservative prudes could care about. If we progressives want to speak to values we had better be willing to take a clear-eyed look at how and why dominance and exploitation get served up with sex in our society.