Voting isn't a 'vanilla' issue

Regarding Dante Chinni's May 8 column "Bush or Gore: How do you like your vanilla?": Mr. Chinni's claim, that Bush and Gore are so close to one another on the issues that it doesn't really make much difference who wins, is both inaccurate and misleading. While it's true that these two presidential hopefuls often appear like the vanilla candidates that Chinni describes, their impact on the future direction of our nation could be immense, depending on their appointments to the Supreme Court and other federal benches.

The next president could be out of office in four to eight years, but his court selections could frame our way of life for decades to come. His selections could set the course on such items as reproductive choice, certain gun controls, campaign-finance reform, and term limits at the federal level. A big win by either Gore or Bush would probably affect the balance of power in Congress and many state legislatures. It is very important whom you choose to vote for in November.

George Dean Southport, Conn.

Second chance for ex-prisoners

Thank you for your April 27 editorial "Life after prison." How important it is to help prepare inmates in advance of their release for the transition back into society. They need to have the proper job and social skills, as well as the hope that they can prove themselves worthy of rehabilitation and reform. Yet the road to restored first-class citizenship is still full of social and legal barriers.

Since my release from prison over four years ago, I have yet to obtain full-time employment. The banking and temporaries industries still refuse to hire ex-offenders. I have also found some landlords posting "not welcome" signs to those with a conviction record. Fortunately, Social Security and a family member came to my rescue and helped prevent me from falling through the cracks. I do hope your timely editorial will generate a better understanding of the plight of rehabilitated ex-offenders who deserve a second chance.

Robert Scheldrup Solana Beach, Calif.

Too much power for Mr. Gates?

In your May 5 article "High-tech trust-busting a bust with public today," it was observed that the general public seems unconcerned, 67 percent having a favorable opinion of Mr. and Mrs. Bill Gates.

Please put me in the highly concerned column, as one who is thoroughly relieved to see our best-known megalomaniac forced to split his empire in two.

Mr. Gates has done some wonderful things, and the world would be less without his efforts, but his greed and manipulation and apparent desire to control, almost own, the world, frighten me tremendously.

Thank goodness for antitrust laws, and for the courage and determination of those involved in invoking them. I look forward to more and more alternatives to Microsoft becoming available and all of us benefiting from the change.

Ann Somers Pepperell, Mass.

Churches and homosexuality

Regarding your article "Christian churches confront homosexuality" (May 11): Thank you for your well-written, thoughtful article. It is indeed the issue that "troubles religious groups" today, as much as the issue of slavery troubled Christianity 200 years ago, and the issue of women's suffrage troubled Christianity 100 years ago.

Let us work and pray for a peaceful resolution of this issue - a resolution that will unite and strengthen Christians - and, indeed, all thinking people.

Rita Goldberger San Francisco

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