Oklahoma City bombing memorial; Israel, the U.S. and Iran; politics in California

Terror in all its forms

Re: “Uneasy in Oklahoma,” April 18

It is so important to commemorate this tragedy, to show the world how horrific and completely unacceptable terrorism is.

Terrorism kills and maims innocent people. We can never say enough how wrong and condemnable terrorists are, with their twisted logic and sick, self-righteous beliefs.

We need to remember the Oklahoma City bombing, the twin towers and the murders of Dr. George Tiller, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Kennedy, to name a few.

We need to admonish and correct any leaders who support or give credence to acts of violence that target those we don’t agree with. It is their rhetoric that many times influences the minds of would-be terrorists.

Gerald Orcholski

None dare call it treason.

“Now I’ve got a rifle, a shotgun and a pistol,” one “tea party” member in Oklahoma City who supports the idea of a local militia told The Times. “We’ve got to get enough people to fight and stand up to the federal government.”

The definition of treason: Taking up arms against one’s nation.

Kevin Powell
Long Beach

The trouble with Democrats

Re “Democrats see rough road ahead,” April 19

One line in The Times’ article about the Democratic convention was very telling about the state of our state: " … in California, where Democrats have controlled state politics for a generation.”

That about sums it up. While neither party deserves a pass, it cannot be denied that Democratic control of the Legislature — and most large cities — is responsible for the decline of our once-great state.

It doesn’t matter how many consecutive Republican governors are elected. Until we end the dominance of Democrats in the legislative branch, nothing will change and the decline will continue.

Heather Lombard

I was a local delegate who attended the California Democratic Party convention and stood in objection to the Jane Harman endorsement.

I was disappointed in The Times’ superficial treatment of what is undoubtedly the most exciting congressional primary challenge in this state: that of progressive antiwar leader Marcy Winograd against incumbent Harman. Surely your article could have mentioned Winograd’s name.

David Greene
San Pedro
The writer is president of the San Pedro Democratic Club.

Jerry Brown, then and now

Re “Brown calls for debate with rivals,” April 18

As a Republican, I applaud Jerry Brown’s call, delivered at the convention, for a debate with all the candidates.

I want to know what they are going to do if they become governor.

I do not care how many unflattering photos of their opponents they can find. If that’s the best they can do, I suggest they go back to their old high schools and run for class president instead of governor of this state.

Steve Stillman
Redondo Beach

Perhaps with Brown again running for governor and Cheech and Chong back performing (as The Times reports), there is a chance that some of the idealism and hope of the ‘60s will return and spoil the Mad Hatter’s tea party.

Ronald Macaulay

It’s hardly 1938 in the Middle East

Re “When Armageddon lives next door,” Opinion, April 16

This Op-Ed is unfortunate proof that Benny Morris has taken leave of his historical sensibilities.

The comparison between Israel and Iran now and Czechoslovakia and Nazi Germany in 1938 is foolish — or, less charitably, misleading.

In 1938, Czechoslovakia was a small, weak country facing Germany alone. Nazi Germany in 1938 was a world power. Today Israel is the undisputed military master of the Middle East and is believed to be in possession of at least 150 nuclear warheads. Israel is also supported by the U.S., the strongest military power the world has ever seen.

Iran, by contrast, is a country with few allies and limited resources that may be trying to develop a nuclear weapon. Considering that Iran’s close neighbors, Iraq and Afghanistan, have experienced U.S.-led invasions and occupations in the past decade, and considering that Iran is continually threatened by the prospect of Israeli airstrikes — including nuclear strikes — why would any reputable historian compare today with 1938?

Michael Provence
San Diego
The writer is a professor of modern Middle Eastern history at UC San Diego.

Morris evinces so much hysteria and tells so many half-truths in his essay that I hardly know where to begin a critique.

Instead, I’ll make a suggestion: While bombing Iran might halt its nuclear program, a simpler way to ensure that Iran does not attack Israel is to tear down the checkpoints and security wall, allow Palestinians the right of return and integrate them fully as citizens of Israel. Ahmadinejad would then have a hard time justifying destruction of the “Zionist entity.”

What about it, Mr. Morris? Are you willing to try peace rather than war to solve your security problem?

Sarah S. Forth
Los Angeles

Morris is right about U.S. foreign policy tying Israel’s hands. Israel has the right to defend its people.

One point the “ever-aggrieved Palestinians” and their friends in the administration seem to have overlooked: When Ahmadinejad follows through on his threats, as Hitler did in 1938-39, the Palestinians will be right in harm’s way. Nuclear jihad won’t spare them.

President Obama and Jimmy Carter continue to agonize over the Palestinians’ claims of rights and land, but those are not the issues. The issues are life and death.

Felix Schwarz

Space plan puts him in orbit

Re “Obama looks to deeper space,” April 16

In his recent address at the Kennedy Space Center, Obama was once again long on rhetoric but deceptive about his real plan for the future when he told the crowd, “Nobody is more committed to manned spaceflight … than I am.”

By the time we get to his Mars program in the 2030s, our space experience — and national treasure of existing resources, inspired originally by President Kennedy — will have evaporated, never to be recovered.

We will be destined to become a second-rate space nation, dependent on Russia to deliver crews and support to the International Space Station.

One of Obama’s more ridiculous statements — “The private sector can do something more efficiently and cheaper than the government” — sounds like forked-tongueism, based on the rash of recent government takeovers.

Stew Davis
Lake Forest, Calif.

So easy, a kid could see it

Re “The man who destroyed WaMu,” Opinion, April 16

I worked as a receptionist at Washington Mutual from May 2004 to August 2005, while attending night school. I met ex-CEO Kerry Killinger one day when he came into our office. He was charismatic, and even took the time to introduce himself to the lowly kid answering the phones.

At the time I had no business training, but even I could see that there were serious problems with a lot of the practices at WaMu. I saw and heard on a daily basis salespeople berating underwriters for not approving a loan, telling them to make the numbers work.

I finally left because I knew that there was no way the market could keep going up.

If a 22-year-old kid without a single business class on his resume knew that, why didn’t the head of WaMu?

Charles Pomerantz