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Readers of the Independent talk back to the editor

Faith-botched
I am dismayed at the lack of concern displayed by presidential candidates about the unconstitutionality of President Bush's faith-based initiative, so I am planning to introduce a resolution at my party caucus and hope your readers will do the same, then become delegates to pass it at county level.

To caucus attendees:
Our founding fathers, having witnessed religious persecutions in church-controlled countries, created a Constitution that bars Congress from passing laws aiding or hindering religion, thus preventing an entanglement of government and religion. A quote often attributed to James Madison in 1803 says, "The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries."

President Bush, however, has found a way to supply tax aid to religious groups, bypassing the powers of Congress and using his executive office to create faith-based offices at federal agencies.

Whenever social programs operated by religious organizations have received government funding in the past, they were subject to strict requirements to maintain neutrality, including a prohibition against proselytizing recipients. Bush's initiative has no such constraints.

The dangers our founders feared are realized when a program such as Chuck Colson's InnerChange, favors one religion over another. This program forces prison inmates to become evangelical Christians as the price of receiving rehabilitation, better treatment while in prison and the prospect of an earlier release. According to a lawsuit won by Americans United for Separation of Church & State, the program amounts to publicly funded religious indoctrination.

I propose this resolution to the party platform: "The Party's chosen candidate will uphold the Constitution by abolishing the publicly funded faith-based programs established by the executive branch of the Bush administration."

Janet Brazill
Colorado Springs

Life, liberty and limits
Steve Plutt ("Bush's world," Letters, Jan. 24) makes many valid points about how the Republican('t) party has lost its way. Sadly, so have the Democrats. If we continue to elect politicians, do we really expect change? Sorry, but "insanity is doing the exact same thing repeatedly and expecting different results."

No matter who is elected, unless it is a statesman, I expect more of the same: corrupt "British aristocrats" causing economic conditions indicative of enslavement. As long as there are exploitable people, there will be those who exploit.

Is there a way to end this? Yes! Look to the Constitution for that answer: a republic, even if it is a limited socialist one. I say "limited" in that what it does is supply what is needed not interfere with the life, liberty or pursuit of happiness of its citizenry.

Dwayne Schultz
Colorado Springs

McCain's revenge

Colorado Republicans have a rare opportunity to right a past wrong on Feb. 5 by voting for John McCain. McCain was wrongly vilified during the 2000 campaign, lost an election he should have won, and has since emerged as the most honest man in Washington. He deserves the respect (and the vote) of Colorado's GOP.

Jeff Robertson
Denver

Clinton's weakness
Let's look at Sen. Hillary Clinton's qualifications by examining health care reform. She was in way over her head and portrayed herself as someone reaching out, when her leadership on health care was "my way or the highway."

While an Army War College student in 1993, I did my own analysis and discovered that if Medicare or Medicaid were restructured to be part of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (similar to what Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., proposed), that coverage could be expanded and savings up to $956 billion could be realized over a four-year period.

I wrote Hillary, Bill, Al and Tipper Gore to provide this input. I bought into their "tell us what you think" statements. I got confirmation of receipt from all four and did not hear anything back. Later, in D.C. as part of the War College curriculum, I decided to look up Tipper Gore's office and hand-carry my analysis to Tipper for her review.

I saw a complete lack of organization and disregard for input from American citizens. There were pieces of paper hung on doors with masking tape with the words "Health Care Task Force" handwritten on them.

Then there was the "dead letter" file, an abandoned cart in the middle of the hallway with hundreds of letters stacked up. They were from people across the country pouring their hearts and souls into trying to help.

I know. I read some of them. Yet, for all the talk on inclusion, input was ignored. Hillary's "Let's Chat" mantra is an act. She has proven herself inept at building consensus and realizing one shoe does not fit all. Health care needs to be reformed by making sure people are able to select, based on market availability and needs, instead of having it forced upon them.

Gregory S. Hollister
Colorado Springs

The record counts
We need to look at the process we use to support a candidate. I run and hide when supporters think their candidate is the messiah sent to save us. When an individual can see the strong and weak in any candidate, that is how informed decisions can happen. When you put a person on a pedestal and refuse to see any weaknesses, that's often when the surprises happen later. We know Clinton's flaws, but we don't know Obama's.

Many Obama supporters, even some Republicans, see him as almost perfect. He is charismatic, but make no mistake, he has very liberal views on abortion, gun control and gay rights. The jury is out, and I don't want a wild card at this critical time. Obama is ambitious, like most politicians. What he can do is arouse emotions. With an unstable world, a recession possibly looming and other problems, I need a proven leader.

I am a strong supporter of Clinton, and yet I disagree with her on some issues. I don't see her as our saving leader who will make everything right. I think she does have the intelligence, a needed understanding of the complex issues we face, and an incredible work ethic. She is extremely disciplined. Her reputation is that she gets things done and really is very moderate on most of her stands.

I see her as a real person who makes real mistakes and is willing to step up to the plate to correct the mistakes she has made. She's the only politician I have seen who has had to justify personal ambition.

Clinton and Obama have very similar views on the war, immigration and health care. But here is where the rubber meets the road. Clinton has a proven record.

Brenda Krause
Colorado Springs

Advice for Amy
I sense a bit of a gender bias in Advice Goddess. While there is not much to disagree with on what Amy Alkon tells one writer, that he needs to take responsibility for the women he picks (or whom he allows to be picked by), I wonder whether she would be going into a similarly one-sided and unsympathetic tirade if commenting on a woman's complaint that "all men are jerks."

The fact that "men are from Mars ..." does not begin to address how different we really are.

The Vagina Monologues prove that one can have an evening-filling play covering what keeps women's psyches busy, while what concerns men can generally be put into two sentences.

The sexes need to learn to talk to each other, so pairings are not entirely based on the narrow set of needs of whoever happens to be the stronger part in the early stages of the mating ritual.

Peter Brebach
Colorado Springs

Mission accomplished
On Jan. 29, the Mission Medical Clinic burned its mortgage! In just the past two years, our community has supported the clinic with $600,000 in cash for the building alone. Our success was catalyzed by the Independent's wonderful 2006 article and photos (csindy.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A19095).

That exposure helped show the need for a free medical clinic to serve the poor, working poor and others without health insurance. Dozens called to offer time and money. The smallest gift was $5 from a man who wanted to help with what he could afford. The largest gift was from a man who said God was telling him to give us $5,000. We are humbled and thankful at the tremendous outpouring.

Today, 69 churches provide more than 270 regular volunteers to serve our patients, and we are blessed with support from more than 50 volunteer doctors, nurses, dentists and other health professionals. Last August, due to a $250,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente, our clinic opened its door to patients every weekday. We are still open every Thursday evening and alternate Saturday mornings.

The Mission Dental Clinic opened in April 2007, and though we have several faithful dentists, we are really hurting for dental assistants and an administrator. To volunteer, call 540-8303 or 482-5904.

Today our annual budget is over $300,000. Thank you for outlining our mission and vision and spreading the word! The patients thank you.

Marcella Rejoice Ruch
Mission Medical/Dental Clinic
Colorado Springs

Death to TABOR
Have you looked around Colorado Springs lately? Did you know there are Web sites listing the latest home sales in your neighborhood due to foreclosure and bankruptcy? Have you seen the empty commercial properties along large sections of Academy Boulevard?

When did you get your last TABOR refund? How much? Did the tax cuts enacted by the Colorado Legislature (when controlled by Republicans) give us better roads, better schools, higher-paying jobs or health care for all?

If you have lived in Colorado for 10 years or more, be honest: Have low, low taxes and the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights brought health, wealth and peace of mind to this beautiful state?

TABOR has only one positive feature: It empowers citizens to say "no" to unwanted tax increases. It also allows citizens to say "yes" when tax increases are needed to keep up with population growth and the people's needs and desires. This provision should be retained. The rest should be gutted.

Our lawmakers must balance the budget every year. The give and take, push and pull of the process, not to mention the independent spirit of our people, pressures our elected officials to abstain from fiscal foolishness. Anti-tax militants have had their chance. Their experiment in improving our quality of life by starving the public sector has been a failure.

I hope TABOR and the political philosophy that feeds it will soon become a distant memory.

I had a poster on my bedroom wall in college that read, "Behold the turtle. He only makes progress when he sticks his neck out." The shell game is over. It's time to admit we bought into a political ideology that did not deliver as promised. We have to move slow and steady. But we can no longer afford to "stay the course."

Steve Bell
Colorado Springs

  • Election issues, Advice Goddess, Mission Medical, TABOR.

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