Wake up, Democrats! September 12 is our primary, and we can take back our party from the enablers of the right-wing Bush agenda by voting for someone who truly represents us: Jonathan Tasini for US Senate.

If you still haven't heard of Tasini, the courageous and articulate challenger of Senator Hillary Clinton, it's time for a quick crash course in grassroots democracy in action. Tasini, longtime president of the National Writers Union and expert on labor and the economy, decided to challenge Hillary because of her ongoing support of the war in Iraq. 40,000 Democrats petitioned to assure Tasini a place on the ballot. Dozens of Democratic organizations around the state have endorsed him. In a recent poll from among MoveOn members in New York, Tasini garnered 44 percent of the vote, falling short of the 2/3 required for an endorsement. Given Clinton's celebrity, this is an impressive number.

Tasini is a strong advocate for single-payer health care for all and standing up against the abuses of large corporations. Tasini will work to represent us in the Senate, while everyone knows that all Hillary intends to do with her Senate seat is to attempt to launch her campaign for president. She'll continue to ignore constituent's questions and concerns while she ponders what might appeal to swing voters in Ohio in 2008.

Check out Tasini's website: www.tasinifornewyork.org. Get out and vote on September 12. It's time for real leadership and courage: Jonathan Tasini.

Janet Siegel, Park Avenue, Rochester


Another instance of the "religion is a crutch for weak people" analogy! Dayna Papaleo includes it in her whimsical commentary on organized religion ("Put Your Faith in the Internet," August 16), but we hear it all the time.

It's a poor analogy. Are we really such staunch creatures, impervious to hardship and disappointment? How does that view square with incontinence? Or cancer? Or Alzheimer's?

In his day, Ronald Reagan was arguably the world's most influential person. Ten years later, he didn't know who he was. One would think that such realities would instill humility into people.

The premise that better fits the analogy is not that of an upright pillar of strength and virtue rightly disdaining a crutch. Rather, it is that of a person groveling through the mire on his belly, too proud or stupid to acknowledge that a crutch would be useful. (Or, more typically, unaware that such a crutch exists.)

In the Bible are found answers to age-old questions such as: Why do we grow old and die? And why does God permit suffering? True, you must thread your way carefully and avoid the ever-present religious hucksters, but such intellectually satisfying answers can be found.

Sure, it's possible to trudge through life without a clue to these answers, but why would anyone choose to do it? They add meaning to life, even more so than the political, social, or educational solutions typically embraced by society.

Tom Hartlieb, Erie Station Road, Rush (Hartlieb is a 30-year member of Jehovah's Witnesses.)


Jennifer Loviglio's lament ("Apocalypse When?" The XX Files, August 9) about being a secular humanist focuses on our having no "deity or helpful tome... playbook (or)... messiah's return to earth." But the lament also points out that secular humanists must come to conclusions about personal and other issues based on what Loviglio identifies as "the vague values of secular humanism."

Are these values so vague? So we don't have commandments, gospels, sura, or sutras to interpret! But we do have both reason and experience as sources for our ethical wisdom.

Reason and experience help us to decide how we should act. We develop these values for "the here and now." Both our acceptance of personal responsibility for all our actions and our expectation of the freedom to make these decisions are reflected in respect, compassion, and fairness extended toward all others. An expression of our integrity is retaining the possibility of altering our beliefs and subsequent actions as we continue to gain experience and knowledge.

Being a secular humanist may seem to be difficult. But the use of reason and experience allow us to identify what we should do to make the world a better place for everyone.

Barry A. Swan, Laconia Parkway, Brighton;Madrikh (leader), Beth Haskalah, Rochester Society for Humanistic Judaism


As the community conversation about the varied societal problems and potential solutions facing the residents of the City of Rochester rages on, voters must not forget to look closely at those running for City Court Judge.

City Court Judges will have the most direct impact and interaction with those who are dealing with the judicial system. Democratic City Court Judge candidate Maija Dixon is a city school district, University of Rochester, and BuffaloLawSchool graduate who has represented both civil and criminal clients in County and City Courts. She was strongly endorsed by the Democratic Party at its convention in her first-ever run for office.

She is someone who has defended the rights of children in foster care, represented people who have been discriminated against, and fought for the rights of domestic-violence victims for a decade, while raising two boys as a single mother. Maija Dixon has a unique and vital insight into the fundamental issues facing our community, and we would be well served by her election to City Court.

Larry Knox, Rochester (Knox is a volunteer with Maija Dixon's campaign.)


Thanks for the great job of re-raising the Dysfunctional New York issue ("New York's Lej: Still Dysfunctional" and "Rochester Reformers," August 16). Our fine state has a disease that is causing young people of leave in droves, breaking up families, and causing an undue tax burden on those that remain. We need businesses that pay taxes, not just residents.

David M. Lum, Wolf Trap, Pittsford (David Lum is a volunteer for CBGNY but submitted this letter personally, not on behalf of the organization.)