The Shirley Sherrod affair; helping homeless vets in L.A.; the U.S. pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai

A lot of villains in this tale

Re “An extraordinary apology,” July 22

It’s hard to decide whose conduct in the entire Shirley Sherrod affair is most reprehensible.

There’s Andrew Breitbart, who in his lust for another liberal scalp posts an obviously edited video for the purpose of destroying this woman, and when caught has the audacity to claim he had no such intention.

Then there are all the TV talking heads, especially on Fox News, who immediately ran with Breitbart’s lie and dialed up the hateful rhetoric.

My vote, however, goes to the Obama administration. Sadly, it is becoming more and more apparent that this administration is unwilling to stand up to the right-wing noise machine, as evidenced by the “shoot first, ask questions later” treatment Sherrod received.

Anyone who has watched the entire unedited video of Sherrod’s speech will understand just how awfully she has been treated. She is, without question, the only honorable participant in this tragedy.

James McFaul


Please allow this 56-year-old black American to comment on Sherrod’s dilemma: being ousted from her position as director of rural development for Georgia because someone edited her comments in a video.

This just goes to show that President Obama, our first black president, needs to create a Senate Race Relations Committee, similar to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Race is still the touchiest subject in America.

Pam Hairston


Defending the VA on housing

Re “Housing homeless vets,” Editorial, July 21

Your editorial challenging Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki to do more to provide for homeless veterans at the West Los Angeles VA was wrong on two fronts.

First, after years of unsuccessful appeals to the Bush administration to fund the rehabilitation of three underutilized buildings at the VA, Shinseki used his executive authority to move $20 million to rehab one of the buildings, committed to funding the seismic rehab of the other two and provided a path to fund the balance of the refurbishment next year.

In a meeting with Shinseki last month, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D- Beverly Hills) and I received his commitment to provide for the long-term therapeutic care of nearly 300 chronically homeless veterans in those buildings.

Second, the editorial’s implied criticism of federal legislation that prevents the lease of VA property to the private sector is misguided. In 2007, Feinstein and Waxman wrote legislation that would protect the property from being privatized and would preserve it for veterans services forever. Shinseki, Feinstein and Waxman deserve praise, not criticism.

Zev Yaroslavsky

Los Angeles

The writer is a Los Angeles County supervisor.

As your editorial points out, almost 25% of the veterans served in transitional housing will need permanent supportive housing, and others will require a housing subsidy. Ending homelessness for veterans in Los Angeles County requires a strategic plan that would utilize existing resources and form new partnerships with affordable-housing developers.

Several cities are willing to assist in creating housing for veterans. Santa Monica Mayor Bobby Shriver has done an outstanding job of creating the dialogue.

What incentives can we give to the 88 cities in L.A. County to initiate plans to end veteran homelessness?

These VA buildings are a first step to assist the men and women who are returning to California cities each year from Iraq and Afghanistan. We need a comprehensive plan, and a stronger sense of urgency.

Toni Reinis

Dora Leong Gallo

Los Angeles

The writers are executive director of New Directions Inc. and CEO of A Community of Friends, respectively.

Speaking of unemployment

Re “President presses GOP on jobless aid,” July 20

Our president accused Republicans of blocking unemployment benefit extensions.

What the Republicans objected to was adding this to the debt.

The president himself made a big production about all expenditures being paid for. A great deal of stimulus money is unspent and could easily fund the unemployment extension.

Why the president chooses to be a demagogue on this issue defies logic. What the people need are the jobs that were promised with the stimulus package. Only when people are working and consuming will the recession end.

Maybe if the administration spent more time stimulating business and less time partying, we might get people back to work.

Keith C. De Filippis

San Jose

Working in the 21st century

Re “Economic forecasts call for more pain,” July 21

Nobody is stating the obvious truth about unemployment: that the marketplace has changed and that there will never again be enough jobs for everyone who wants one, no matter who is in the White House or in Congress.

Fifty years ago, economists predicted that technology would displace thousands of workers a year. Now we have robots doing human work.

We need to rethink the whole concept of having a job. When we say we need more jobs, what we really mean is we need more money to live on.

So why don’t we try an old idea? Establish a basic income for everyone, enough at least to get by on. Each of us could then try to find work to earn more.

Al Sheahen

Sherman Oaks

Expo visitors see another side

Re “Where’s our cool pavilion?,” Opinion, July 16

Fred Bernstein’s Op-Ed notes that the U.S. role at this summer’s Shanghai World Expo matters, and he’s absolutely right. That there is a U.S. pavilion at all speaks to the determination of hundreds of people who stepped up to create the pavilion in record time — after others said it was already too late to do anything.

Critiques of this effort must be weighed against the over 3 million Chinese visitors who have braved long lines to make this one of the most popular pavilions at the Expo.

Most Chinese guests come away reporting they were surprised and delighted by the American values projected inside. Chinese visitors have commented that the Chinese already knew the U.S. was a rich, powerful and important country, and that the U.S. was very wise to instead portray a side of itself the Chinese did not know: friendliness, creativity and a call to collaboration.

The U.S. pavilion is engaging millions of Chinese visitors with a pavilion that up to the last minute seemed unlikely ever to exist. That is no small achievement.

Bob Rogers


The writer is founder of BRC Imagination Arts, part of the U.S. pavilion team.

Bernstein complains that Chinese visitors to the World Expo’s U.S. pavilion “will see a country determined to promote its corporations rather than its people or its political system.”

I’m just guessing, but I would imagine the two things that Chinese people have enough of are people and political systems.

I read The Times every day, and from what I read, it seems the Chinese nowadays are most interested in business and a higher standard of living — and where would you find a better example of this than through America’s companies?

I for one am proud of our Henry Fords and our Bill Gateses.

Jack Buss