Blowback archive

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Tax hike for California college scholarships: It's a false hope

12:41 PM PDT, May 4, 2012

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Tax hike for California college scholarships: It's a false hope

In its April 23 editorial, "A college bargain for Californians," The Times ponders what the state might do with "an extra billion dollars a year." After considering various possibilities, the editorial acquiesces to a proposal from Sacramento that even it admits is flawed.

Healthcare: An emergency care mandate isn't enough

6:00 AM PDT, April 10, 2012

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Healthcare: An emergency care mandate isn't enough

In his April 8 Op-Ed article on the individual mandate, the aspect of the federal healthcare reform law that requires everyone to have coverage, William Voegeli advances a false dichotomy. He states that while it may be legitimate to require people to carry health insurance that would cover the costs of their care were they to be hit by a bus, it is illegitimate to require them to carry insurance coverage that will cover substance abuse treatment or dental care for their children.

Gang programs: L.A.'s anti-gang efforts are working

3:23 PM PDT, April 5, 2012

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Gang programs: L.A.'s anti-gang efforts are working

The Times' April 3 article “Mayor Villaraigosa defends L.A. anti-gang program”  mischaracterizes the findings of a study last year by the Urban Institute. Casting doubt on L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's claims about the success of the office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD), the article misleadingly suggests that the GRYD is ineffective by stating that the study claims "there was no evidence that [GRYD] was responsible for the decline in violent crime." 

The real cost of healthcare

11:47 AM PDT, March 29, 2012

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The real cost of healthcare

Art Kellermann, a doctor and a vice president at Rand Health, a division of the Rand Corp., responds to Christopher J. Conover of Duke University's Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research and the American Enterprise Institute, on the issue of how much is too much money for the nation to pay for healthcare. Conover's Op Ed, "Healthcare wasn't broken," was published March 15. If you would like to write a full-length response to a recent Times article, editorial or Op-Ed, here are our FAQs and submission policy.

Santa Monica College: Lost opportunity costs

11:12 AM PDT, March 26, 2012

Santa Monica College: Lost opportunity costs

Protest songs: Record labels aren't listening

12:07 PM PDT, July 12, 2012

Protest songs: Record labels aren't listening

Student drug testing doesn't work

6:42 PM PDT, May 17, 2012

Student drug testing doesn't work

Recycle -- but don't tax -- plastic bags

10:01 AM PDT, April 30, 2010

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Recycle -- but don't tax -- plastic bags

It is no surprise that the organization representing makers of plastic grocery bags takes issue with your April 16 editorial urging the state to pass a new tax on bags. We simply believe that asking Sacramento to levy a draconian tax that amounts to about 1,250% of a plastic bag's value is out of line, and that all of us in California instead should focus on increasing plastic bag recycling.

What must be done before repealing 'don't ask, don't tell'

4:29 PM PDT, April 12, 2010

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What must be done before repealing 'don't ask, don't tell'

The military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is an easy target for an editorial board to express its moral indignation over the lies of U.S. military leaders. The Times has published several editorials on the subject, most recently the March 29 piece on retired Marine Gen. John Sheehan's false allegations that gay Dutch troops were partly to blame for the Srebrenica massacre. The comments are inexcusable, but as a gay American I thoroughly reject the notion that we ought to be focused on repealing "don't ask, don't tell" before addressing the far greater threats that the U.S. military structure poses to American democracy. Sheehan's lies are far less threatening than the cavalcade of military rhetorical manipulations that all Americans, regardless of sexuality, have been subjected to for decades.

Jane Harman: My voting record isn't anti-immigration

9:22 AM PDT, April 5, 2010

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Jane Harman: My voting record isn't anti-immigration

The Times' March 31 article. "Latino groups to release voting score card on immigration issues," inaccurately characterized my record on immigration policy.

KPFK prospers as it reflects the chaos of American society

March 31, 2010

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KPFK prospers as it reflects the chaos of American society

I was grateful to see Jim Rainey acknowledge the tremendous potential of KPFK Radio in his March 27 column, "Schism at KPFK leaves factions warring over programming, fundraising and leadership." KPFK/Pacifica Radio is certainly unique: Committed to real free speech and social justice, the station is absolutely free from any corporate, business or big-money influence, an exemplary model of democratic discourse. In this regard, it is unrivaled among significant media outlets in America.

Israel glorifies its own murderers

1:48 PM PDT, March 25, 2010

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Israel glorifies its own murderers

In their March 17 Times Op-Ed article, "Why glorify the murderers?" Ron Kehrmann, Yossi Mendelevich and Yossi Zur make a number of misleading statements and remove all historical context in their effort to demonize Palestinians as people who hate Israeli children more than they love their own.

Charter schools: an antidote to one-size-fits-all education

9:53 AM PDT, March 23, 2010

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Charter schools: an antidote to one-size-fits-all education

Education historian Diane Ravitch is half right.

Education magic bullets are often blanks

3:20 PM PDT, March 16, 2010

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Education magic bullets are often blanks

Those who wonder why California was excluded from the first round of federal Race to the Top grants would do well to examine their own commentary for clues. It is typical of editorials and other articles on this topic to speak in general terms -- to throw out noble-sounding phrases that, in the end, don't offer specifics. The Times' March 4 editorial, "Another setback for California schools," reflects this kind of commentary.

Haven't found that software glitch, Toyota? Keep trying

3:23 PM PST, March 11, 2010

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Haven't found that software glitch, Toyota? Keep trying

There has been a lot of speculation recently that Toyota's problems with sudden acceleration may be caused by a problem in the vehicles' electronics systems. The "electronics" includes millions of lines of software running on the automobiles' computers. As The Times reported on March 3, Toyota's chief engineer testified to Congress that the company has done extensive testing on its cars' electronics and believes they are not the cause of the sudden acceleration.

Cutting California from 'Race to the Top' is bad for the country

4:04 PM PST, March 9, 2010

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Cutting California from 'Race to the Top' is bad for the country

As I started reading The Times' March 4 article, "California disqualified from receiving federal school funds," I hoped the story would examine the devastating impact the Obama administration's decision to disqualify our state from a round of "Race to the Top" grants would have on our schools and children. Instead, The Times devoted much of its story to finding explanations for why California was cut off from the first round of grants; the idea that reform-wary teachers unions deserve blame underlies many of the comments in the article. Those of us involved in education (I conduct research in mathematics education) are all too familiar with this type of finger-pointing, which does little to create public discourse about critical issues.

Why gun-control activists are targeting Starbucks

5:43 PM PST, March 8, 2010

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Why gun-control activists are targeting Starbucks

In its March 5 editorial, "At the Starbucks saloon," The Times criticizes the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence for launching a petition drive asking Starbucks Coffee Co. to change its policy welcoming armed patrons into its stores. The Times writes that Starbucks is merely an "innocent bystander" and that our "true foe" is the open-carry crowd.

A high-speed rail system that wouldn't serve Californians

4:09 PM PST, March 3, 2010

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A high-speed rail system that wouldn't serve Californians

The Times' Feb. 28 article, "Some fear California’s high-speed rail won’t deliver on early promises," reports that the system's cost projections have been underestimated and the ridership projections overestimated. The plans for the state's high-speed trains are indeed on the wrong track, but for a far more fundamental reason: The planned system, which would connect the far-flung regions of Northern and Southern California, wouldn't serve our actual needs. This is precisely why the ridership would be low.

The Times gets a wrong number

March 1, 2010

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The Times gets a wrong number

California's hands-free cellphone law has been a lifesaver. According to California Highway Patrol statistics, the law has helped reduce the number of annual fatalities on our roads by 700 and collisions by between 75,000 and 100,000. CHP data also show that traffic fatalities and crashes in California were each down by roughly 20% in the first six months since the law took effect on July 1, 2008, compared with the same six-month periods of previous years.

Unfairly throwing the book at the 'Irvine 11'

3:05 PM PST, February 22, 2010

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Unfairly throwing the book at the 'Irvine 11'

The 11 students who each briefly disrupted Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's speech last week at UC Irvine have no 1st Amendment protection for their actions and deserve to be punished, writes my colleague, law school Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, in his Feb. 17 Times Op-Ed article. Reading Chemerinsky's piece, you'd think a group of hysterically angry Muslim men prevented Oren from speaking at all. But the situation, as a look at a video recording of the event makes clear, was much more complicated.

What L.A.'s firefighters have already given up

4:35 PM PST, February 17, 2010

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What L.A.'s firefighters have already given up

In writing about the city of Los Angeles' growing budget crisis in his Feb. 13 Op-Ed column, Tim Rutten expresses concern for "employees who aren't police officers or firefighters" and the fact that the mayor may choose to lay off many of them in the months ahead. Rutten rightly acknowledges the sacrifices these working people have already made, pointing out that mandatory furloughs will reduce their take-home pay by "at least 5%" this year. He calls on police and fire unions to "step up and take an equitable share in the sacrifice," continuing, "That's doubly true given the mayor's firm commitment to maintaining both the police and fire staffs at their current levels."

Desecrating a Muslim cemetery with a Center for Human Dignity

3:38 PM PST, February 16, 2010

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Desecrating a Muslim cemetery with a Center for Human Dignity

It is a leap in logic for the Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, to argue in his Feb. 13 Times Op-Ed article that because a parking lot has been built by Israel over part of the Mamilla Cemetery in Jerusalem, or that power and sewage lines have been placed underground, the Muslim cemetery ceases to exist.

Keep California's courts open

4:14 PM PST, February 11, 2010

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Keep California's courts open

Economists, law enforcement officials and political and business leaders all agree: A healthy economy and our civil society depend on having timely, reliable access to our justice system. But you wouldn't know it reading The Times' Feb. 10 editorial, "Rebuilding California’s courts."

Family over foster care is still a priority in L.A. County

2:10 PM PST, February 10, 2010

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Family over foster care is still a priority in L.A. County

The Times' Feb. 5 article on child-family reunification efforts in Los Angeles County's foster care system began with a grossly misleading headline before it was later corrected: "County to end emphasis on family over foster." The headline did not at all reflect the state laws under which the county's welfare system operates, and it sent a very negative message to readers. It reinforced the widespread perception in many communities that our child welfare system does more to break up than preserve and build families, the cornerstone of our society. This misperception often limits cooperation with the system. I'm sure this was not The Times' intent.

Pasadena's arts-friendly reputation is undeserved

4:21 PM PST, February 9, 2010

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Pasadena's arts-friendly reputation is undeserved

The lead paragraph of The Times' Feb. 7 article, "A shifting canvas in Pasadena," states that the "city has carried out a tradition of giving back in the form of art." As the founder and artistic director of the defunct Pasadena Shakespeare Company, which performed 37 critically acclaimed productions over nine seasons, my experience is not consistent with the oft-repeated claim that Pasadena is supportive of the arts (at least in any meaningful way). Indeed, it comes as no surprise to me that the artistic canvas to which The Times refers is shifting -- or in imminent danger of sinking beneath the waves.

Stop L.A. Unified's 'charterization'

2:48 PM PST, February 3, 2010

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Stop L.A. Unified's 'charterization'

As The Times continues to lead the parade to charterization of the Los Angeles Unified School District, one of the most overused and misunderstood phrases on the paper's editorial page is "reform." Change is not necessarily reform. Genuine reform produces lasting, beneficial improvements and isn't concocted by editors or frustrated school boards willing to try just about anything.

D.A.R.E. generation wants marijuana legalized

3:32 PM PST, February 1, 2010

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D.A.R.E. generation wants marijuana legalized

D.A.R.E. America Chairman Skip Miller writes in his Jan. 28 Times Op-Ed article, "Don’t legalize marijuana," that his organization has been successful in its efforts to reduce illegal drug use in the U.S. by educating schoolchildren. Indeed, protecting young people has long been used to justify marijuana prohibition. But in reality, our drug laws have failed to stop marijuana use among American youth but have succeeded in punishing them with damning criminal records, loss of financial aid for college and removal from after-school activities. As a graduate of D.A.R.E., I know all too well about the shortcomings of this program and of America's war on marijuana.

An L.A.-N.Y. unity? Fuggehdaboutit

3:09 PM PST, January 26, 2010

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An L.A.-N.Y. unity? Fuggehdaboutit

Although I am a New Yorker now, I am proud of my Los Angeles roots. I was born in Monterey Park, and my first job was as an usher at the Music Center in downtown L.A. I have hiked in Griffith Park, camped out overnight for a seat at the Rose Parade and wolfed down many roast beef sandwiches at Philippe's.

Give wild horses their land back

5:35 PM PST, January 21, 2010

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Give wild horses their land back

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's ode to the "majestic" wild horse, and his description of how the federal government must manage its population in his Jan. 14 Times Op-Ed article, comes across to the average reader as a reasonable and sympathetic approach to the problems faced by the American mustang. What Salazar doesn't mention is that the bureaucracies now under his control -- and the business interests they service -- have created the problems the Interior secretary says he wants to solve.

California is free to make its own drug laws

4:08 PM PST, January 14, 2010

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California is free to make its own drug laws

The Times raises two objections in its Jan. 13 editorial, "Legalize pot? Not so fast," to a proposed state bill that would legalize, tax and regulate the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older.

Reid flap shows the need for a conversation on race

5:12 PM PST, January 13, 2010

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Reid flap shows the need for a conversation on race

The furor over Sen. Harry Reid's remarks about President Obama's race, reported by The Times in several articles, has gone way overboard. His remarks, however -- that Obama is "light-skinned" and speaks with "no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one" -- may yet prove useful in sparking a badly needed, frank conversation about race in America. Indeed, we can never understand what Reid meant -- and our reaction -- unless we have this conversation.

Doctor's prison sentence isn't a sea change for cyclists

4:14 PM PST, January 11, 2010

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Doctor's prison sentence isn't a sea change for cyclists

Last year's infamous incident on Mandeville Canyon Road -- in which a driver braked hard in front of a group of cyclists, causing two of them to be seriously injured -- began as so many anti-cyclist road-rage incidents do: The driver provoked the cyclists into responding to his verbal assault so he could "justify" using his vehicle to teach them a lesson. In fact, the driver, former emergency room doctor Christopher T. Thompson, was accused of previously using his vehicle to teach cyclists a lesson. On Friday, as reported by The Times in its Jan. 9 article, a chapter in that history came to a close as Thompson was sentenced to five years in prison.

Outrageous pay on Wall Street? Tax 'em

3:52 PM PST, January 7, 2010

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Outrageous pay on Wall Street? Tax 'em

Moshe Adler, in his very incisive Times Op-Ed article on Jan. 4, correctly points out the hypocrisy and lack of correlation between production and compensation among high-paid executives. He offers three prospective solutions: a law to set a maximum ratio between highest- and lowest-paid workers, one to set the minimum ratio of income between labor and shareholders, and for lawmakers to make the minimum wage a true living wage.

You can have your gods, and I can have mine

2:34 PM PST, January 6, 2010

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You can have your gods, and I can have mine

Barry Goldman's objections to religious and spiritual diversity, as articulated in his Jan. 3 Times Op-Ed article, are too cynical and trite to even merit space in this newspaper. His Aunt Mary's quotation, "Whatever Jews believe, that's what I believe," is the policy of someone without intellectual or spiritual hunger. For Goldman to laud this attitude as proper shows an amazing amount of disdain on his part for the curiosity and exploration that religious growth requires. Using terms such as "superstitious hocus pocus" is simply another way of calling unfamiliar beliefs unfounded. Think of all those silly Hindus eating a vegetarian diet, those foolish Quakers sitting in silence, those odd Buddhists chanting together.

Why tarmac delay rules are bad for airline passengers

December 29, 2009

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Why tarmac delay rules are bad for airline passengers

The Times' Dec. 22 editorial on the federal government's rule requiring airliners that sit on the tarmac for more than three hours to disembark passengers was surprisingly astute -- surprising because the sensible observations and conclusions that The Times expressed have been so rarely understood or articulated in this emotion-charged debate. Ever since a very few but very public events -- in December 2006, February 2007 and then one flight this past summer in Rochester, Minn. -- many have made "fixing" this problem a cause celebre.

The hypocrisy of American bluster toward Iran

December 23, 2009

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The hypocrisy of American bluster toward Iran

By now there is little doubt that hypocrisy has become Washington's standing policy on foreign affairs. What is astounding is the lack of shame in such overt duplicity as Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's (R-Fla.) accusations in her Dec. 14 Times Op-Ed article that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorists -- when she herself has a track record of supporting terrorists.

International law is clear: Israeli settlements are illegal

4:29 PM PST, December 16, 2009

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International law is clear: Israeli settlements are illegal

Eric Rozenman's Dec. 11 Op-Ed article, " Israeli settlements are more than legitimate," is legal nonsense that disregards history. He is correct in his observation that Article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine permitted "close settlement by Jews on the land, including state lands and waste lands not required for public purposes," but the conclusions he then draws are flatly wrong.

Who's watching charter schools

December 16, 2009

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Who's watching charter schools

In its Dec. 9 editorial, "Learning about ethics," The Times calls for state charter school laws to be "changed accordingly" in relation to publicly disclosing the expenditures of taxpayers' money. Readers may come away with the impression that charter operators are subject to little accountability compared to traditional public school districts.

If Ecuador wants free trade with the U.S., it should earn it

December 14, 2009

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If Ecuador wants free trade with the U.S., it should earn it

The Times' Dec. 3 editorial, "Trading with Ecuador," ignores evidence of Ecuador's hostility to the United States and misleadingly asserted that Chevron is calling for an end to beneficiary status for Ecuador under the Andean Trade Preferences Act.

America's pointless gun fight

5:05 PM PST, December 8, 2009

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America's pointless gun fight

The "crazy" thing about the gun debate in America is how misguided and off-base both sides of the issue are. An example from one side is The Times' Dec. 1 editorial on the Washington state police officer shootings, "Crazy about guns"; from the other side, we have almost any fundraising appeal over the last year from the National Rifle Assn. Both sides offer little compromise on this issue, making the gun debate one of extremes. Our leaders ignore the important truths needed to formulate and articulate policy proposals that address the reality of life in America in a constructive and collaborative way.

4:09 PM PST, December 7, 2009

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In defense of monogamy

In his Nov. 22 Times Op-Ed article, “Monogamy isn’t easy, naturally,” biologist David P. Barash claims that because monogamy is rare in the animal world, it is therefore unnatural behavior for humans. The logic of the argument is critically flawed.

The ignorance behind anti-nuclear bias

1:15 PM PST, December 4, 2009

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The ignorance behind anti-nuclear bias

The Times excels when it comments on social and political issues on its opinion pages. But when tackling technical issues, it often falls dramatically short. I am both frustrated and annoyed at the lack of knowledge of nuclear power that pervades this country, and the perpetuation of this ignorance by well-meaning but equally uninformed authority figures. The Times' Nov. 28 editorial, “No new nukes — plants, that is,” perpetuates this ignorance.

No-fishing zones: a draconian conservation measure

November 25, 2009

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No-fishing zones: a draconian conservation measure

California's anglers and boaters aren't sure which was more egregious: the state blue-ribbon task force's draconian decision to stifle California's offshore recreational fishing in the guise of protecting the ocean environment, or The Times' one-sided article on the subject, “Panel backs no-fishing zones off Southern California coast” (Nov. 11).

What's really at issue in the Koreatown-Little Bangladesh dispute

4:40 PM PST, November 17, 2009

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What's really at issue in the Koreatown-Little Bangladesh dispute

Steve Lopez's Nov. 8 column about naming a part of Koreatown "Little Bangladesh" trivializes an important issue for a newer immigrant community struggling for acceptance and recognition in Los Angeles. For Koreatown's Bangladeshi community, which many don't know exists, an official recognition by City Hall and a few well-placed signs help legitimize the community as an important and valued presence in L.A.

Misrepresenting the ideology of Islamic terrorists

November 16, 2009

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Misrepresenting the ideology of Islamic terrorists

In their Nov. 12 Times Op-Ed article, “Our enemy is not Islam — it’s extremists,” Judith Miller and David Samuels wrote regarding the Ft. Hood shootings that "in taking aim at the evasive psycho-babble that dominated early news accounts, the right has engaged in an equally dangerous bias that conflates [Nidal Malik] Hasan's radicalism with the religious beliefs of mainstream Muslims. In their narrative, any Muslim might suddenly 'snap,' as Hasan apparently did, and reveal himself to be the enemy within." They identify me as a proponent of this view. While acknowledging that I added "sensibly that not all Muslims might be so inclined," they assert that I "left it to more primitive commentators to draw the inevitable conclusion that all Muslims in the U.S. military should be viewed as potential traitors."

Villaraigosa is no Hahn holdover

1:29 PM PST, November 5, 2009

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Villaraigosa is no Hahn holdover

Robert Greene's Nov. 1 Op-Ed article, "The real Villaraigosa era begins now," in which he portrays Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's first term as largely a continuation of his predecessor James K. Hahn's policies and offers prognostications regarding his second term, was strange and strained. And wrong.

A constitutional convention isn't the only route to reform

2:01 PM PST, November 3, 2009

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A constitutional convention isn't the only route to reform

The Times, in its “ California Fix” editorial series, has rightly argued for a fundamental reform of state government -- so fundamental, The Times feels, that the state needs a convention to rewrite its Constitution. The editorial board's most recent installment, “Closer to a constitutional convention,” focuses on two proposed initiatives for the 2010 ballot by Repair California. The first would amend the state Constitution to permit voters to call such a convention, and the second would actually call one.

Call Polanski's crime what it was: rape

12:21 PM PDT, October 30, 2009

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Call Polanski's crime what it was: rape

The Times' Oct. 25 article, "How a girl's stark words got lost in the Polanski spectacle," is yet another piece about Roman Polanski's crimes that purports to be tough on the film director but instead adds to the public perception that what he did was no big deal.

L.A. County's challenge: delivering swine flu vaccine effectively

October 28, 2009

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L.A. County's challenge: delivering swine flu vaccine effectively

The Times' Oct. 19 editorial, "Fighting swine flu," criticizes the vaccination efforts of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (which I head) for not focusing enough on schools. While it is true that L.A. County's inoculation program isn't as focused on schools as New York City's is, The Times' criticism of our efforts reflects a misunderstanding by the editorial board of our outreach to schools, our extensive H1N1 vaccination efforts and the unique features of our county.

Why Armenians cannot 'get past' the genocide

3:22 PM PDT, October 15, 2009

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Why Armenians cannot 'get past' the genocide

Just as The Times expressed in its Oct. 13 editorial, "Turkey and Armenia: reconciling history," I believe that it's in both countries' interest to restore diplomatic ties and open their shared border. However, I cannot help but question the logic of The Times' appeal to Armenians and Turks to "get beyond" the issue of the Armenian genocide -- especially when the editorial board shares the concern of Armenians that the establishment of a commission to study the genocide is "simply a means for Turkey to continue denying history."

My mother and sister, prisoners of China's Communist Party

4:45 PM PDT, October 13, 2009

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My mother and sister, prisoners of China's Communist Party

China's leaders meant for the celebrations on Oct. 1 to remind the world of their country's growing power and importance. But the 60th anniversary of the communist revolution, which Nina Hachigian wrote about in her Sept. 30 Times Op-Ed article, should also remind us of something else: The Chinese Communist Party is still very much an authoritarian regime whose nature remains quite the same as when Mao Tse-tung brutalized the nation.

So many rail agencies, so little service

4:59 PM PDT, October 1, 2009

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So many rail agencies, so little service

The Times deserves credit for bringing attention to rail safety with its Sept. 27 article, "Death on the rails in L.A." But the article focused too much on the sensational and not enough on the root causes of Metrolink's safety problems. For example, I agree that the rail crossing in Burbank at the Buena Vista Street and San Fernando Road intersection, which The Times cited as a particularly dangerous crossing, needs to be grade separated. But because plans are already underway to do just that, why pick on that location when, judging by the graphic attached to the article, there are more problematic crossings in Anaheim, Corona and other communities?

UC's Wall Street management style

September 28, 2009

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UC's Wall Street management style

So there is a new plan by University of California President Mark Yudof, having been vested with emergency powers by the Board of Regents, to fix the greatest public university system in the world -- with a hammer. The Times' editorial board writes in its Sept. 19 editorial, “UC fee hikes: a two-edged sword,” that it is a good idea to extend the work furloughs for another year (or more?) because faculty and staff would not "leave in droves" if the pay cuts, up to 10%, were continued.

What ails L.A County foster care -- and what doesn't

September 21, 2009

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What ails L.A County foster care -- and what doesn't

I fully agree with Richard Wexler when he writes in his Sept. 16 Times Op-Ed article, “L.A.’s beleaguered foster care kids,” that the recent tragic deaths of two young children at the hands of their caregivers should not lead to a "knee-jerk" reaction to place more children in foster care. But Wexler's characterization of the causes of foster care woes in Los Angeles County are so off the mark that I feel compelled to set the record straight.

Why 33% renewables by 2020 may be impossible

September 8, 2009

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Why 33% renewables by 2020 may be impossible

California legislators are considering a proposal to require 33% of the state's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. In its Aug. 19 editorial, "Sacramento’s power failure," The Times writes that failure to pass the measure would constitute a lack of political will. As chief executive of Southern California Edison, I respectfully believe this issue is more complicated.

The racism of marijuana prohibition

September 7, 2009

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The racism of marijuana prohibition

The Times' Aug. 30 article, "Marijuana’s new high life," does a great job describing the cultural mainstreaming of marijuana. Pot is indeed flourishing in "civilized society" as never before, and the movement to end decades of failed prohibition has picked up unprecedented momentum. But that debate has largely ignored the people most impacted by our current policies -- the rising number of people, particularly young people of color, arrested on marijuana charges each year.

A one-house Legislature is a recipe for more mischief

September 1, 2009

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A one-house Legislature is a recipe for more mischief

The fact that California's dysfunctional government needs an overhaul doesn't make every proposed reform a good one, and one of the worst ideas is the one detailed by Harold Meyerson in his Aug. 21 Times Op-Ed article, "A one-house Legislature." Meyerson wants the Assembly and state Senate to merge into a single body, with each member representing smaller districts. This sounds simple, but the idea of a unicameral Legislature is a seemingly benign reform that would have unintended consequences.

Crazy 'death panel' claims? Thank Roe vs. Wade

August 31, 2009

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Crazy 'death panel' claims? Thank Roe vs. Wade

As reported in several articles in The Times, including the Aug. 21 story, " Obama tries to 'cut through the noise' on healthcare," the president has been forced to address claims from those who oppose his healthcare reform proposal on the grounds that it would fund abortions with taxpayer dollars. Even some Roman Catholic bishops, who would normally support universal healthcare (perhaps even a sweeping single-payer plan), are vocally opposing President Obama's plan. Their reason: abortion.

How not to contribute to the healthcare discussion

5:30 PM PDT, August 24, 2009

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How not to contribute to the healthcare discussion

I must confess that I find Tim Rutten's Aug. 19 Op-Ed column, "America the delusional," in which he expresses dismay over the tone of the current healthcare debate, to be quite unintentionally funny. From the very beginning, irony appears to be completely lost on Rutten, as he compares the peaceful Irish countryside with the U.S., which he evidently feels is descending into the depths of radicalism. Apparently he has forgotten about the Irish Republican Army, which was active as recently as 1997.

Don't buy Gingrich's doomsday healthcare prophecies

August 18, 2009

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Don't buy Gingrich's doomsday healthcare prophecies

In more than three decades practicing medicine, I have been heartened by remarkable discoveries and innovations resulting in new treatments or the prevention of serious disease. But I have also been saddened by the erosion of public trust in medicine as a profession. Indeed, the poor performance of our current healthcare system and the perverse incentives and spiraling costs that impact the practice of medicine have fed this erosion of trust.

For public schools, one reform matters above all else

August 14, 2009

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For public schools, one reform matters above all else

In her Aug. 11 Op-Ed article, "Charter and private schools might not make the grade either,” Diane Ravitch argues persuasively that a Los Angeles Board of Education proposal to extend choice will not work because charter schools and private management of schools have not yielded a robust net gain in student achievement. Instead, Ravitch suggests strategies the Los Angeles Unified School District could use to promote improvement.

Combating a deadly pastime for teens

July 27, 2009

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Combating a deadly pastime for teens

Three cheers to The Times for its July 19 article, "Los Angeles youths’ nitrous oxide use has adults taking action." Inhalant abuse can and does kill. Too often, abusers underestimate the toxicity of inhalants; they think that computer duster is just "canned air," or that air freshener, spray paint and the myriad other household items in our homes and offices are safe to inhale because we (the parents) do not know to warn our children. Consequently, as The Times' article makes clear, inhaling nitrous oxide now outpaces marijuana use as the drug of choice for Los Angeles middle-school students.

The sky isn't falling at L.A. community colleges

July 24, 2009

Blowback

The sky isn't falling at L.A. community colleges

In its July 21 editorial, "A key test for L.A.’s community colleges,” The Times writes that Los Angeles City College and L.A. Trade-Technical College were recently placed on probation by accreditors for failing to conduct program reviews. As The Times notes, this would mean that the colleges have no way of knowing whether they're doing a good job educating their students

The 'problem with nurses' is a problem with healthcare

July 21, 2009

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The 'problem with nurses' is a problem with healthcare

The Times' June 12 expose about the California Board of Registered Nursing oversimplifies the issue. The so-called problem with nurses is really just another aspect of the shortcomings in the overall healthcare system.

Schwarzenegger's political road show is costing California

July 13, 2009

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Schwarzenegger's political road show is costing California

California is issuing IOUs. Banks are balking. Taxpayers, vendors and students will be left holding the bag. And our bond rating just got downgraded, which could cost California billions of dollars in the long run.

S.F. proposal would restore fairness to rental market

July 7, 2009

Blowback

S.F. proposal would restore fairness to rental market

The Times sure has plenty of sympathy for San Francisco landlords, arguing in a June 29 editorial that they should bear little -- if any -- responsibility for helping tenants in dire financial straits stay off the streets. In arguing against a proposal before the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors that would temporarily forbid landlords from increasing rent on tenants who have lost their jobs or had their wages reduced significantly, The Times says it's unfair to "turn private landlords into an unwilling agency of social welfare."

The myth of 'tepid' support for Villaraigosa

June 30, 2009

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The myth of 'tepid' support for Villaraigosa

The Times' June 20 analysis of its own poll on the L.A. mayor, "Villaraigosa’s future, once bright, looks dimmer now," misses the mark. Voters nationally and throughout California are concerned about the direction of their communities and are reluctant to invest additional funds in government programs at a time when the nation is in recession and their personal budgets are stretched. Against the backdrop of voter opinion outside Los Angeles, the city looks like the proverbial city on a hill, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's ratings would be the envy of chief executives in many jurisdictions.

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