Gridlock in Congress: the American People vs. PACs

Regarding the Opinion page article "Gridlock Inside Congress," Oct. 13: The author states: "The real end to gridlock will come when the lawmakers reject the influence of the special-interest groups who fund political campaigns and hover around Congress calling in their chits."

I agree with this observation. Political-action committees (PAC) have too much influence on congressional decision making and congressional elections. Our congressional leaders are more concerned about getting reelected today than representing the American public. Gridlock in Congress is more than just who's sitting in the president's seat, and who's in Congress; it's whose voice is getting heard. It's the voice of PACs and not the American people. Paige B. Durham, Centerville, Tenn. Black Muslims

While reading the article "Protest Now Renewed, Divided," Oct. 6, I take issue with some of the author's statements. The article compares the meeting between Louis Farrakhan and Jesse Jackson to a meeting of the heirs of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Yet, the author mentions that Warith Muhammad turned to the teachings of the traditional Sunni faith following the death of his father. This is also what Malcolm X did following his pilgrimage to Mecca and travels to Africa.

Mr. Farrakhan followed the original race-based theology of Elijah Muhammad. In a sense, one cannot call Farrakhan an heir to Malcolm X, since Malcolm X, by his own words, had moved away from this movement. Also, it was my understanding that the the Rev. Ralph Abernathy took over for Dr. King upon his tragic death, and there were disputes among the SCLC regarding the Rev. Mr. Jackson's role in the aftermath of the assassination.

This is an interesting article, yet it seems to fall back on a simplistic, mistaken approach designed to put black Americans into two stereotyped groups. And if Farrakhan and Jackson were to agree with these characterizations of their roots, I would call them pretenders to their prospective thrones. Dennis Murphy, Grandville, Mich. Sexual abuse

After reading the editorial "Children and Civilization," Oct. 29, a parallel dilemma struck me regarding children who are silently abused and tortured. We, in the United States, seem to be in the forefront of identifying human rights violations around the globe, but we are not so forthright in focusing on the inhumane treatment American children suffer.

I see it firsthand as a counselor for emotionally troubled teenage boys. We are sitting on a bombshell in this country - sexual abuse in the home. Wouldn't it be a refreshing change if this nation could scrutinize itself as well as it does our global neighbors? Let us begin to practice first at home where the abuse is surely in epidemic proportions. M. Federico, Sonora, Calif. `Life Skills' on and off the field

Regarding the Sports page article "Learning `Life Skills' on the Football Field," Oct. 23: What a treat to read about high school football coach Jim Nagel's attitude about playing and winning. By helping students function better as whole people, he is helping society at large.

His contribution is especially important on the sports field, where many students believe that their value lies in their competitive achievements. Not that we can blame them - our society has become obsessed with getting ahead, often excluding values that we need more than ever. Mr. Nagel's approach is a welcome counterbalance to those based on the notion that "Nice guys finish last." Diana Morley, Napa, Calif.

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