Tuesday's election results; the death penalty in California; San Francisco votes to ban Happy Meals

Take the gloves off

Re " Obama's next challenge," Nov. 3

President Obama and the Democrats have one chance now to govern. If they continue to waste time trying to compromise with the Republicans, who aren't interested in giving the president credit for anything he does and whose only goal is to see him defeated in 2012, they lose and he's a one-term president.

If the Democrats unify and immediately start passing legislation in the lame-duck session of Congress — bills the House has already passed thanks to Nancy Pelosi — and push them through the Senate without a single Republican vote, they can restore the faith of the Democratic base and make a huge comeback by 2012.

Obama needs to take off his gloves and start using

his bully pulpit.

Steve Binder

Oxnard

Wow, the Republicans are even more hypocritical than I thought. They say the electorate has spoken and that they expect Obama to go along with everything they want. And they won only the House, not the Senate.

What happened when Obama won the presidency and the Democrats won a large majority in the Senate and a majority in the House? Why then did the Republicans decide to oppose everything Obama and the Democrats wanted? Did the people not speak clearly enough then?

I guess the Republicans' answer, as usual, is no.

Susan Jacobs

Studio City

Props to The Times for avoiding the typical left-wing spin of blaming the election results solely on the economy. The Times quotes a former Clinton administration official and Obama supporter as saying that the president's "partisan, harsh, class-oriented and divisive rhetoric" is partly responsible for the historic thumping, and I concur.

It is one thing to fail repeatedly on promises such as holding unemployment at 8% with "shovel-ready" stimulus-funded jobs. It is quite another thing to govern by seeking to demonize Fox News, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Supreme Court and concerned American "tea partyers." This alienated millions of Americans.

David S. Olson

Los Angeles

Mixed message on marijuana

Re "Youth vote falters; Prop. 19 falls short," Nov. 3

Proposition 19's failure makes it that much more important to facilitate research into the benefits and harms of marijuana. At present, researchers have to contend with a monopoly on the marijuana supply held by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, whose mission is to study the harmful effects of illicit drugs.

We need to pressure the Drug Enforcement Administration to issue another marijuana cultivation license. In 2007, DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner found that the agency should issue a license to a researcher to cultivate marijuana; her recommendation was rejected.

It's time we ask why the DEA upholds an obstructionist federal monopoly.

Stephen Morseman

San Leandro, Calif.

Congratulations California voters: By defeating Proposition 19, you've succeeded in keeping the Mexican drug cartels and the street drug dealers raking in huge profits, committed precious law enforcement manpower to the pursuit of a futile effort, empowered more gang violence, obligated yourselves to continued expenditures prosecuting and imprisoning people who shouldn't be in the criminal justice system, and prevented a huge potential source of revenue for your bankrupt state.

Stuart Singer

Arlington, Texas

Proposition 19 spurred some interesting conversation, but passing it would have been ill-advised. I hope the nation now realizes that:

The international Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs treaty bans marijuana. The U.S. signed the treaty, which prohibits the production and supply of marijuana.

The cost would have been tremendous. Just like tobacco and alcohol, legal marijuana would impose extraordinary social, medical, cultural and financial costs.

California already has de-facto decriminalization, and the benefits of legalization do not outweigh its risks.

Yes, it is a carcinogen, and yes, it is addictive.

Deni Carise

New York

The writer is senior vice president and chief clinical officer of Phoenix House.

Debating the death penalty

Re "Justice in slow motion," Opinion, Oct. 31

Arnold Friedman brings to light a grave problem in our state and in most of the country: The death penalty process is inherently flawed and broken, and can thus never be administered fairly, quickly and with good faith that all the fail-safes are effectively employed.

Given its crippling cost to taxpayers, we have a proposition just begging to be put on the ballot to crush this barbarous and slow process once and for all. Letting our convicted killers die with a whimper in a cell is no less retributive in my opinion, but it makes a lot more sense.

Tim Curns

Beverly Hills

Saddam Hussein was convicted of mass murder and hanged less than two months later. That's justice. In California, a death sentence is a joke, with 20 years or more of appeals, thousands of pages of documents (which no one can totally read) and millions in legal costs. The death sentence is not justice.

Remember the old axiom, "Justice delayed is justice denied"? It's well past time to close down death row and sentence all death-row inmates to life in prison without parole.

Sol Taylor

Sherman Oaks

San Francisco's food fight

Re "Happy Meals banned in San Francisco," Business, Nov. 3

I feel so much better now that San Francisco's Board of Supervisors is on the job protecting us all from the threat of eating too much unhealthy food. Happy Meals are so persuasive, alluring and seductive — especially to low-income (read ignorant) unfortunates — that I myself have taken to avoiding the streets where McDonald's restaurants lurk enticingly lest I succumb to the siren call.

Oh joy and hosanna, beloved eight wise ones!

Frederick Dickinson

Downey

Re "Hands off our Happy Meals," Editorial, Nov. 2

I say, "Hands off our kids." McDonald's spends tens of millions of dollars a year on advertising that uses toys to get kids to prefer junk food and demand it from their harried parents. What parent wants to constantly compete against that?

Most Happy Meals contain fatty meat, fatty fries, sugary drinks and white flour. That's pretty much the opposite of what kids should be eating. As the kids grow older, they almost certainly will graduate to the restaurants' bigger burgers and drinks, while graduating into overweight adolescence and obese adulthood.

San Francisco deserves applause for trying to rein in the fast-food industry — and the obesity epidemic.

Michael F. Jacobson

Washington

The writer is executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Welfare watch

Re "New limits on welfare cards," Nov. 2

Instead of limiting the use of debit cards issued to welfare recipients, why not investigate those users for welfare fraud? Find out why money meant for the children is being withdrawn at pot dispensaries, massage parlors, psychics and other places.

Limiting the use of the debit cards will not reduce fraud. Actively monitoring the use of the cards will give a better picture of the families that need to be investigated first.

Do it for the children; they are the ones who suffer when their money is misappropriated.

Elizabeth O'Hara

Anaheim

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