President Obama’s appearance on the ‘Daily Show'; Meg Whitman’s campaign; California’s community college woes

Don’t laugh now

Re “When politics is no joke,” Oct. 28

The irony is spilling out of my spleen. You can’t make this stuff up.

The Mad Hatter “tea party” is taking us down the fascist rabbit hole. And our leading satirists (cynics) save us from our worst nightmare by holding a counter (culture?) rally at the Washington Mall.

This would be a cosmic joke if not for the truth(iness) we are actually facing. Wasn’t there a movie or play or something like this? “Cabaret”?

The sobering reality is that our nation is broken in so many ways that it cannot be fixed without radical change. “Yes we can” has devolved into “no we won’t.”

Tom Tomeoni

Thousand Oaks

Someone has to be governor

Re “Races heat up,” Oct. 29

So Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, the same candidate who smilingly insists in one of her ads that she wants everyone to realize the " California dream” just as she has, self-righteously calls for her former housekeeper to be deported.

The housekeeper who served her selflessly for nine years. The one whose own dream was to work hard and become an American citizen. Mega-bucks Meg Whitman refused to help her and instead disposed of her as coldly as if she were an item listed on EBay.

I’m afraid if someone this callous and clueless becomes our governor, the California dream for all of us will quickly become a nightmare.

Bonnie Compton Hanson

Santa Ana

So The Times/USC poll has Democrat Jerry Brown pulling away, Secretariat-like.

Given the gathering electoral storm that seems about to inundate Democratic candidates all over the nation, these results seem like so much wishful thinking.

Maybe you should stay out of the polling business and return to the news business.

Stephen Quinn

Huntington Beach

Re “Whitman lashes out at media, Brown,” Oct. 28

I’m so relieved that Whitman will treat Californians like adults, although I feel this statement is not only condescending but ironic.

During the GOP primary, her campaign ads against rival Steve Poizner from the get-go were

blatantly negative to the point of being juvenile.

If the polls showing Whitman trailing Brown are correct, Californians are already acting like grown-ups.

Paul Shubunka

Santa Clarita

The spy in stir should stay there

Re “Free Pollard,” Opinion, Oct. 28

Lawrence Korb seems to understate the damage that Jonathan Pollard may have done to the security of the United States. Large quantities of classified material that Pollard passed to Israel were reportedly passed on to the Soviet Union in return for more exit visas for Soviet Jews.

We may never know the truth about this issue, but this does not suggest to me that the Pollard affair was comparatively minor. I can understand why then- CIA director George Tenet threatened to resign if Pollard was released, as Korb states in his Op-Ed piece.

Why would we ever release a man who passed classified material to a foreign government, which may have passed it on to our most significant enemy at that time?

William T. Parker

San Diego

Korb wants Pollard to be freed partly because he was spying for our ally, Israel.

But then we would have to bring back to life Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who were executed for spying for our World War II ally, the Soviet Union.

Daniel N. Fox


College can have many uses

Re “Educating colleges,” Opinion, Oct. 27

As a community college teacher, I find the inability of community colleges to “keep more students on track,” defined as getting an associate’s degree and transferring to a four-year college, not at all surprising. What I find more surprising is the shock at the results.

California, which practically confers an absolute right to enroll in a community college, has a large immigrant population, much of which does not speak English. We can add to this a lack of academic preparation for many students (immigrants or otherwise) to do college work.

I question the underlining premise that the only standard of success in community colleges is graduation. I feel that less formal results, such as learning English and getting a job, need to be included.

Jack Kaczorowski

Los Angeles

Though I am sure that bureaucratic inertia hampers the performance of community colleges, they may be doing exactly what they should be doing: weeding out those who don’t have the ability or the motivation to earn a bachelor’s degree.

The only way we can ensure that every child is so honored is to lower the requirements. Which is, apparently, what the high schools are doing, because many of these kids seem to spend their early “college” days in remedial (that means high school level) courses.

Our country’s biggest problem is the failure to educate our children for competition in the global economy. But they have high self-esteem.

Arthur O. Armstrong

Manhattan Beach

The billionaire and his club

Re “Billionaire funds bid to remake state,” Oct. 27

Nicolas Berggruen’s generosity and his ideas are admirable. I do have one suggestion, and that is to add Warren Buffet to the list of problem-solvers.

Early in the Schwarzenegger administration, Buffet advised the governor on correcting the inequalities that resulted from the passage of Proposition 13.

Since the passage of that proposition, our state has gone downhill in many ways. Perhaps Buffet and the others on Berggruen’s list can make suggestions that can turn things around.

Lynne Okon Scholnick

Long Beach

Great news. A billionaire who owns little besides oodles of cash wants to “remake” California. To do this, he funds a committee full of out-of-the-box

innovative thinkers like … George Shultz, Condoleezza Rice, Willie Brown, Gray Davis and Eli Broad. And Arnold Schwarzenegger will be the committee’s first guest.

They’ll probably have nice food and accommodations while they rehash and recycle “ideas.”

Philip Brimble

Los Angeles

Belts on buses

Re “Buses lack safety belts,” Oct. 27

The article states that the Los Angeles Unified School District is “purchasing 260 new buses that meet [California’s] 2005 seat belt requirement.... As the new buses roll in, the older buses will be retired.”

This statement raises the question: For the protection of students such as those injured in last Monday’s collision, instead of waiting for the new buses to “roll in,” why are the older buses not being retrofitted with safety belts now?

Edward Fisher

Los Angeles

A right to die

Re “Colleges alarmed by ‘blackout in a can,’ ” Oct. 27

Here we go again, getting our bowels in an uproar over the latest substance-abuse fiasco by college students. And here we go again, ignoring personal responsibility as the solution to the problem. If these students want to binge, it’s their choice, not yours. If they die, they knew the risk. This country has far more pressing problems than drunks to worry about.

Thomas Mann