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Meg Whitman’s gubernatorial campaign, Judith Miller’s Op-Ed on Saudi Arabia; the FCC’s broadband strategy

Money and politics

Re “Whitman wealth effect,” March 18

What boggles the mind is how easily voters seem to have been suckered by gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s slick media blitz when her three-part plan for California -- repeated over and over -- makes absolutely no sense: “fix” education, create jobs and cut spending.

With California education already severely underfunded, how do we “fix” it by spending even less? Whitman claims to know something about how to create jobs from her EBay experience. Are we to believe that she did it by spending less?

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That so many voters can be taken in by such sophistry makes me very pessimistic about the future of our once-great state.

Alexander W. Astin
Los Angeles

Anyone see a little irony in two extremely rich Republican candidates, Whitman and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, trying to outdo each other on promising to reduce benefits to the poor and unentitled?

Or that Whitman’s candidacy is founded on her supposed business skills, but if elected she is going to suddenly become ignorant about how her own fortune is invested and managed?

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Brian Cornelius
Los Angeles

Whitman’s idea that, if elected governor, she could put her vast holdings into a blind trust to forestall any real or perceived conflict of interest is disingenuous at best.

Ultimately, she still would have the benefit of those investments and her actions as governor still would affect the value of those holdings, over which she would resume control on leaving office.

The only way to remove any conflict of interest would be to sell off everything. She could then reinvest that money, only this time in California bonds. This would create a new “conflict” -- only this one would benefit both her and the state of California.

Kenneth H. Goldman
La Crescenta

An apology isn’t enough

Re “Pope apologizes to abuse victims,” March 21

As a nonbeliever, I am often accused by the faithful of having no moral compass, so it is with jaw-dropping disbelief that I read of Pope Benedict XVI’s inability to recognize evil in its most blatant form.

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To describe decades of child rape and torture (and their subsequent concealment) without using the word “evil,” and to call for anything less than absolute transparency and accountability where such vile acts have been perpetrated, is itself an appalling moral failure.

If we are to believe what others wrote about him, Jesus railed against hypocrisy and spoke passionately on behalf of children. That I should have to remind his followers of this 2,000 years later is not just a shame; it’s a sin.

Brandon Crist
Torrance

Persian Gulf power play

Re “The gulf in the Persian Gulf,” Opinion, March 18

For decades the Saudis have been spending their petro-wealth promoting and supporting radical, jihad-preaching Wahhabi imams and madrasas and mosques throughout the world. But now that their creation is turning against them, they are shocked.

According to Judith Miller, they have now found the villain: It’s Israel. Surprise, surprise!

If the word “chutzpah” were not already a part of our lexicon, it would have to be coined to do justice to this scenario.

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Gideon Kanner
Burbank

Your Op-Ed article fails to fully identify Miller -- it says only that she “is a contributing editor of City Journal, an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a Fox News contributor.”

A more accurate ID would mention that her many front-page stories in the New York Times were crucial in persuading the public to support the George W. Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq on the grounds that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

She also served three months in jail for refusing to answer questions from the special prosecutor about Bush administration officials leaking the name of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame -- after Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, publicly challenged Bush for “twisting” intelligence to justify war in Iraq.

Jon Wiener
Los Angeles

Target No. 1

Re “It starts with good teachers,” Editorial, March 17

Teachers are getting used to the fact that it’s the season to either demonize them (because they are responsible for all the ills of our society) or patronize them (we’re sure there are some good teachers out there). It’s impressive to see The Times do both in one editorial.

Teachers are always heartened to know that at the moment when the educational system is being de-funded, they can be expected to improve performance and achieve magic. The Times is not smarter than a fifth-grader.

Philip Brimble
Los Angeles

School plan hurts students

Re “Students as dollar signs,” Editorial, March 18

School board member Steve Zimmer has submitted a resolution to the board to exempt 10th- and 11th-grade students already enrolled in high school from the new inter-district transfer policy (12th-graders are already exempt). I hope the rest of the board will support him.

It is not good policy to pull high schoolers away from their current curricula, their extracurricular activities, their sports teams and their friends. How motivating would that be? Don’t we want to encourage high schoolers to stay the course?

The most egregious part of the policy change is that Supt. Ramon C. Cortines did not notify parents in a timely way. I learned of it last week when I stopped by our local high school to pick up a renewal permit. The application deadlines for private, magnet and most charter schools have already passed, leaving us no recourse but to send our children to schools that do not suit them -- or to sell our homes and move.

Lynda Mitsakos
Playa Del Rey

Extending broadband

Re “A go-slow broadband plan,” Editorial, March 17

The Federal Communications Commission’s draft National Broadband Plan is a visionary approach to help close the digital divide and spur economic recovery.

Improving widespread Internet access by increasing home broadband use to 90% of Americans by 2020, compared with 65% today, might sound ambitious, but our state is not starting from zero. The California Emerging Technology Fund has already helped increase broadband adoption in California homes from 55% in 2008 to 62% in 2009. We plan to get this number up to 80% by 2015 and will be on pace to achieve 90% by 2020.

Through the work of public officials and community organizations, California is aggressively pursuing broadband deployment and adoption to generate jobs and promote economic prosperity.

Sunne Wright McPeak
San Francisco
The writer is president and chief executive of the California Emerging Technology Fund.

While increasing access to high-speed broadband may be a commendable goal, there are consequences. As the FCC has stated, an exponential increase in antennas would be required. Antennas and cell towers are already being erected at a rapid pace in areas of Los Angeles where they had not previously been seen -- especially in residential areas. Many wireless facilities are installed without notice or regulation.

As a result, the Pacific Palisades Residents Assn. and more than 30 other community organizations have called on the City Council to revise current ordinances and to provide for community input in antenna siting decisions and greater protection for residential neighborhoods.

Christina Spitz
Pacific Palisades
The writer is vice president of the Pacific Palisades Residents Assn.


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