Nonbelievers are treated as 2nd-class citizens
I was extremely disheartened, even offended, by the recent PG editorial applauding the decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the Newdow case ("Not a Prayer: Mention of the Almighty Survives a New Legal Attack," March 15). What the PG seems to be saying to all of the nonbelievers and secularists is that we should sit down and shut up and quietly accept our position as second- or third-class citizens while the religionists thumb their noses at the Constitution and the First Amendment. While that may be good for social harmony, it is anathema to a vibrant and just society.
This incorrect ruling raises two very important questions. First, where is our supposedly independent judiciary? As you pointed out, in 2002 this same court ruled the opposite way. As far as I know, the Constitution hasn't changed since then, so apparently the court has bowed to public pressure instead of ruling on the merits of the case and the law.
And second, where are all the "strict constructionists" and Federalist Society members decrying this direct violation of the Constitution? Or are they only concerned with allowing corporations to run amok and keeping weapons of mass murder in the hands of public menaces?
I understand that this may seem like a small issue to many, but to those of us who are not believers, it is indeed a big deal to be told by our country on a continual basis that our beliefs are not valid and that we are not entitled to the same rights as the religious zealots. Not only that, but by giving religious belief the imprimatur of government approval, it lends cover, albeit minuscule, to the Scott Roeders and Fred Phelpses of this world.
W.S. (BILL) KASZYCKI
Profit not everything
I feel compelled to respond to Arnie Esposito's March 16 letter ("Mass Transit a Bust"). He complains that transit agencies are rarely profitable. I don't disagree. But do publicly financed roads turn a profit? Should we abandon road paving because it isn't profitable?
Many of our best institutions that make life better for us all are funded and overseen by taxpayers and citizens -- libraries, roads, schools, our military.
I no longer ride the bus regularly. But as I drive I'm frequently thankful that every day, almost a quarter of a million commuters in the Pittsburgh area ride buses, trolleys and the subway rather than drive their cars.
Try to imagine what an extra couple of hundred thousand cars on the road would do to the daily commute. Whether you use public transit or drive, the headline of this 1992 Post-Gazette article describes what a commute would look like for drivers if we didn't have public transportation: "PAT Strike Disrupts City: Parking Lots, Streets Jammed."
No more Metcalfe
The primary bid for lieutenant governor by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe of Butler County (12th District) finally confirms that his ambition lies elsewhere than with his present constituents ("Rep. Metcalfe to Run for Lieutenant Governor," March 11). But he still wants to be on the ballot to repeat his miserably failed role as state representative, in case voters can't be duped into handing him the higher office.
Why should we re-elect him here if he obviously yearns to be elsewhere? Mr. Metcalfe has clearly never had the stomach or competence to fight for his constituents, wasting their money instead on his own extremist, vindictive ideologies that have nothing to do with the schools, roads and economy in his district.
Ridiculed and reviled in his own district, he's also despised by many within the state Legislature, including a substantial number in his own party. He prefers rejecting other people's bills to being a productive legislator himself.
He spouts religious and ethnic intolerance, homophobia and bigotry. He has opposed voter rights. He even managed to alienate a group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, referring to them as "traitors" simply because they had the temerity to provide public education about energy policies and national security.
We need to dump Daryl.
Middlesex, Butler County
The bad Bush years
I read the March 13 letter by Robert Szypulski ("Obama's Oligarchy") and am wondering where he was from January 2001 to January 2009.
During those years, our imperial, unitary president took it upon himself and his administration to unconstitutionally 1) invade a sovereign country on dreamed-up weapons of mass destruction; 2) declare that torture is legal; 3) spy on American citizens without warrant; 4) throw people into prison without just cause while depriving them of their rights; 5) gut government agencies and man them with political hacks and cronies; 6) defy and/or ignore international treaties and laws; 7) doctor scientific data that documented environmental harm being done by human activity; 8) set up fake news to propagandize for his failing policies; 9) undermine our nation's security by dangerously piling up debt with tax cuts to the rich and unfunded wars, etc.
So, in answer to his question, yes, I do want President Obama to transform these United States of America away from the radicalism of the Bush years.
It appears that letter writer Robert Szypulski ("Obama's Oligarchy") suffers from a common right-wing problem: memory. It was Mr. Bush who tromped all over our Constitution, beginning with stealing two elections and including the so-called Patriot Act and on into illegal imprisonment and illegal wiretapping.
Now it is true that some of us are not terribly pleased that Mr. Obama did not immediately roll back all of these illegal actions, but he has taken some important steps, including outlawing torture and attempting to shut down the illegal jail in Cuba (of all places).
This paper often publishes stories about kids who drink, smoke, bully and do other bad things. I am writing to let people know about those of us, grades 6-12, who recently attended the National Young Leaders State Conference, sponsored by the Congressional Youth Leadership Council.
For four days, students representing both private and public schools throughout Pennsylvania met at the Hilton Hotel in Pittsburgh to discuss leadership skills. We learned about taking responsibility for our words and actions, communicating more effectively and setting goals.
The purpose of NYLSC is to help us become better leaders of the present and future.
JACOB E. GERSZTEN
St. Edmund's Academy
Individuals, not government, must care for the poor
Once again conservative Catholics are being force-fed a liberal interpretation of Catholic social justice with Glenn Beck being skewered by the Saint Vincent de Paul Society executive director Keith G. Kondrich ("TV Host Presents a Shameful Message That All Should Reject," March 15 letters). Calling Mr. Beck's words obscene is the exact word I would use to describe liberal Catholic social justice! Unfortunately, Mr. Kondrich uses his own words as an indictment against himself.
Mr. Beck was pointing out the fact, a real fact, that communism and Nazism forced wealth from one group and gave it to another group: the Jewish people to the Aryan people; the bourgeoisie to the proletariat. He clearly pointed out how religious figures, specifically Catholic Father Charles Coughlin, moved into liberal politics espousing that government instead of religion should care for the poor. Mr. Kondrich conveniently overlooks this fact. In fact, Mr. Beck glaringly failed to mention Msgr. John Ryan, another liberal Catholic priest, being tied into FDR's tragic New Deal.
The Christian works of charity have no place in American politics because the Scripture Mr. Kondrich quotes does not demand Caesar, the Roman government, "to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless and the frail" but Jesus' followers. Christians caring for the poor is a moral imperative, not an option.
Using federal tax dollars to care for the poor is not a Christian moral imperative, but an imperative reserved for ideological ghouls like Lenin, Stalin and Hitler. Quite a contrast wouldn't you say, Mr. Kondrich?
REV. JAMES HOLLAND
The writer is a Catholic priest.
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