A deadly off-road race; Ron Brownstein on Democrats and Republicans; Mitrice Richardson's death

Off-road tragedy

Re "Deadly crash stirs debate," Aug. 16

Regarding the tragic and deadly Mojave crash, I was saddened to see the usual finger-pointing to place blame. I know if I were into off-roading and came to this event, I would take personal responsibility and keep far back from trucks flying by.

Even if fences are erected to create a safe zone, that still won't address one of the most disturbing sentences in the article: "On Sunday, empty beer and water bottles littered the area."

Lori Ann Graham

Carpinteria

Sorting out citizenship

Re "Born in the U.S.A.," Editorial, Aug. 16

Why so sacrosanct? The 2nd Amendment, which guarantees the right to bear arms, has been tested continuously. The 14th Amendment should be no different.

On the face of this issue, that offspring born in the U.S. to illegal aliens should gain automatic citizenship simply by virtue of being born here is completely illogical. We've created a creepy netherworld of families that are made up of citizens and noncitizens, likely not the vision of the 14th Amendment drafters. It's unlikely that they would have envisioned a U.S. inhabited by potentially as many as 30million illegal aliens either.

Maria Fotopoulos

Los Angeles

If the birthright provision of the 14th Amendment was written to secure the right to citizenship of all the former slaves living then in the United States — and I believe it was — then its purpose has long been fulfilled. Removing it from the Constitution makes perfect sense.

Frederick Crane

Arcadia

Changing the 14th Amendment does not go nearly far enough. Let's repeal it and make that repeal retroactive, at least to its 1868 adoption — but, better yet, to the creation of our country.

All those descendants of the waves of Johnny-Come-Latelies from the 1800s and later — the French, Irish, Italians, Germans, Scots, Swedes, Chinese and others — would promptly lose their citizenship. Lindsey Graham, John McCain and the majority of their Senate cronies would be bounced from the Senate.

Then, only those directly descended from Native Americans, Pilgrims, pre-independence immigrants and early slaves would qualify for citizenship and all of its privileges. With my native and slave ancestry and my five ancestors who sailed with the Pilgrims, I would be pleased to purge the rolls of my country's citizens of such narrow-minded isolationists.

Adrian Wright

Canoga Park

Two parties, no consensus

Re "A wave of 'no' voters," Opinion, Aug. 13

Ronald Brownstein claims that the Democrats' "greatest problem is that they control all of Washington's levers at a time when most Americans are deeply unhappy with the country's direction."

If "control all the levers" means the Democrats are in charge, he either misses or conceals the point that the gears of the machinery those levers are supposed to control have been jammed with monkey wrenches — filibuster threats, confirmation "holds," etc. — from Republicans.

When the minority party is dedicated to blocking the efforts of the majority, being in the majority can't get Democratic legislation enacted. Politics isn't the art of the possible; politics is the sullen craft of the legislatable.

So either Brownstein is ignorant about levers and monkey wrenches, or he understands but is insidiously abetting the Republicans' efforts to make the Democrats look bad. Whichever explanation applies, I submit that it's he who looks bad.

Michael A. Padlipsky

Los Angeles

I think Brownstein is correct that Americans are pretty dissatisfied with both parties. And, in most contests, we are faced with electing the lesser of evils again. To me, the Democrats are slightly better than the Republicans, but not much. They are still a corporate party, while the Republicans are a regressive uber-corporate party. They should call themselves the Corpocrats and the Republicorps.

Our government puts corporate profits over the public good. This has been going on for a long time, was taken to the extreme with President George W. Bush and continues under President Obama.

In the upcoming midterms, we will elect a new board of directors, and in 2012, we will elect another chairman of the board of USA Inc. The corporatization of America has created a government of business, by business and for business. It and its companion Second Gilded Age are bipartisan efforts.

We need democracy, not corporatocracy.

Michael Goldman

Woodland Hills

It's dangerous out there

Re "When 'by the book' fails," Column, Aug. 14

Though there are two sides to every story — and as we hash this out, assigning blame and trying to figure out what went so wrong — maybe something good can come from this. Maybe Mitrice Richardson did not die in vain.

Perhaps we can work on a reform or law so that people who are detained are at the very least protected — protected from the elements and even from themselves. Better to be safe than sorry.

Maybe Richardson's death can mean that this situation doesn't arise again, and no other family has to endure such a needless, tragic loss.

Ellen Chris

West Hills

Sometimes following the letter of the law doesn't allow for using common sense.

Why couldn't the deputies have found a reason to hold Richardson?

I am not certain that those involved need a "culture change," as

Sandy Banks suggests. What they do need is a little bit of compassion and the realization that it is downright dangerous "out there."

Richardson said she planned to meet up with friends, so the deputies at the station had to let her walk. "They had no legal justification," the report said, "to deprive her of her freedom."

The deputies were between a rock and a hard place. They were in a no-win situation. It was a "Murphy's law" situation. It is now apparent that what could have gone wrong did go wrong.

I am sorrowful for the family of Richardson. I know firsthand what it is like to lose a loved one.

Charles Jones

Woodland Hills

Clarity on an ethics ordinance

Re "Los Angeles ethics panel fails to tighten freebie rules," Aug. 11

The Times did not fully state my position regarding changes to the city's government ethics ordinance.

At the July 2010 meeting, I strongly agreed that the city should adopt new disclosure forms that require public officials to fully identify all events attended under the ceremonial exception to the gift limit laws.

August's meeting continued the discussion regarding gift limit laws, but the matter was continued to the September meeting before I had an opportunity to restate my opinion that our public officials provide full disclosure when performing ceremonial duties at events.

My support for an ordinance that would allow public officials to accept tickets to events worth up to $420 is based on the state's gift limit of $420. Such a rule would apply to events attended by the general public as well as public officials.

I believe applying the state gift limit to such events, as opposed to banning officials from attending them altogether under the gift laws, is

beneficial because it provides the general public more opportunities for conversations with public officials.

I am not in favor of adopting the $420 limit for tangible, "physical" gifts. I plan to discuss this at the September meeting.

Nedra Jenkins

Los Angeles

The writer is a member of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission.

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