Neal Gabler on the Democratic Party; the DREAM Act; rating nursing homes

Where did the party go?

Re “Democrats are compromised to death,” Opinion, Dec. 26

Neal Gabler is right: The Democratic Party represents “interests” and is no longer committed to the principles that favor the powerless. To gain a majority, it must appeal to as many progressive groups as it can without being labeled “liberal.”

It is this retreat that recently led it to measures favoring the wealthy: eliminating Glass-Steagall under President Clinton, and supporting the banks and corporations under President Obama.


Where in the political spectrum is the party that will represent the unions, the shopkeepers and the farmers, the poor and the elderly? There is a vacuum in American politics that only a party that does not accept contributions from banks and corporations and emphasizes job security, universal healthcare and environmental protection can fill.

Green Party, anyone?

Charles Crittenden

Lake View Terrace


All of the Democratic presidents Gabler mentions — Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson — moved to compromise when their agendas ran into resistance. The presidential ship regularly founders on the shoals of such political realities, and it matters little whether it is helmed by a Democrat or a Republican.

Gabler also seems not to have heard of the “tea party” movement (not mentioned once in his piece), a grass-roots resistance to the ideological purity exemplified by Obama in his first two years in power and that led the charge in ruthlessly repudiating his agenda in November.

Obama has demonstrated that he is enough of a pragmatist to gauge the direction of the political winds. It is a skill, sadly, that completely evades pundits such as Gabler.

Avi Davis


Democrats have done anything but compromise since 2008.

Their agenda and methods are what got them a “shellacking” in November. A few Democrats did fold in the lame-duck session, in listening to voters and backing off lockstep obedience to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

Obama pursues his agenda through regulation because he and the Democratic leadership can’t have what they want through legislation. This is neither compromise nor democratic.


There is no way to sell with a straight face the facts of the last two years as those of a group that hopelessly “wants to please.” Thanks for the laugh.

George Schirtzinger


As a retired physician, I firmly believe that Obama has all the qualities of a well-trained, experienced doctor.

He listens carefully to the patient’s complaints, does a thorough physical exam, orders the necessary tests and carefully evaluates all the facts available to make the proper diagnosis. Only then does he prescribe the appropriate treatment.

Obama’s approach sometimes leads to compromise, but it helps him to effectively address our country’s serious problems.

He is the right “doctor” to heal our nation, and we are lucky to have him as our leader.

Samuel Sapin


Sherman Oaks

Gabler’s insight is not novel: We Democrats have always been famous for our willingness to see the other side.

As Robert Frost said long ago, “A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.”

That flexibility is a mark of distinction, as F. Scott Fitzgerald noted: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

One who requires doctrinaire rigidity must sit on the right side of the aisle.

Dan Schechter

Los Alamitos

DREAM and reality

Re “Keeping a crucial DREAM alive,” Opinion, Dec. 27

I’m not against giving children of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. But those who support the DREAM Act want to condemn the children of poor illegal immigrants to military service while the rich ones go to college.

Let’s make the path to citizenship through the military, period, with citizenship and an honorable discharge a joint ceremony. Serve four years, then

use the GI Bill to attend college.

Those who are not college material exit the military with a job skill.

This is a route to citizenship I believe all Americans can support.

Alan L. Strzemieczny


That Republicans will assert their power in Congress to strengthen border security and workplace enforcement comes as no surprise. What’s really nearsighted about GOP anti-immigration goals is the failure to see the potential of the DREAM Act.

Providing a path to citizenship for undocumented students who know no other home than the United States would allow them to be productive members of society. With increased spending power and their American values of hard work and investment in the common good, they would make significant contributions to all sectors of society.

Tougher border security and penalizing employers won’t work by themselves. Rather, Republicans need to acknowledge the untapped human potential of all those who would be freed by the DREAM Act to join their peers in pursuing the American dream.

Lenore Navarro Dowling

Los Angeles

Capital idea

Re “Steward of Palestinian city’s boom,” Q&A, Dec. 26

Ramallah Mayor Janet Mikhail asserts that East Jerusalem may one day become a Palestinian state’s capital. Get real.

In 1868, the U.S. signed a treaty with the Sioux nation giving it exclusive domain over the Black Hills, which was and is as holy to the Sioux as Mecca is to Muslims. Eight years later we invaded the Black Hills, which no longer belong to the Sioux.

We will return the Black Hills to the Sioux before Israel gives up any part of East Jerusalem. Mikhail and every Palestinian leader knows this, yet they tell their people otherwise.

Until the Palestinian leadership honestly confronts this reality — that Israel will never allow those who fled or the multitude that is their progeny to return to Israel — there can be no peace.

Marvin J. Wolf

Mar Vista Heights

Tribal plans

Re “Yurok seek land for a tribal park on the North Coast,” Dec. 26

Several other tribes have engaged the federal government in co-management of former tribal areas that lie within the bounds of national parks, national forests or lands held by the Bureau of Land Management.

To name only a couple: the Hopi and the Kaibab National Forest, and the Timbisha and Death Valley National Park. Neither is a full-blown transfer of lands and total tribal management, yet their efforts reflect the executive order signed by President Clinton that federal land agencies are to enter into various agreements with adjacent tribes that lay claim to such lands.

I am not alone as a strong advocate for more tribal involvement, including the transfer of such acreage. States may or may not want to join in; they are not obliged by the executive order, only by their conscience.

Imre Sutton


The writer is a professor emeritus of geography at Cal State Fullerton and co-editor of “Trusteeship in Change: Toward Tribal Autonomy in Resource Management.”

Letter perfect

Re “Care homes to post ratings,” Dec. 27

The new letter grades rating nursing homes are desperately needed to guide people seeking care in such institutions.

Over a few decades I’ve learned how dangerous and even deadly a bad nursing home can be. My experience with nursing homes began with the neglect and abuse my mother suffered in such institutions.

Later I wrote a book on how to find the best long-term care, and an article that was the basis for the ABC television movie, “When You Remember Me,” about abuse and neglect in a nursing home. I’ve witnessed good care as well as neglect during my 23 years of bringing entertainers to perform free at nursing homes.

The new rating system will enable people to avoid the worst nursing homes and provide an incentive for the bad homes to improve their care.

Rena Dictor LeBlanc

Sherman Oaks

She had soul

Re “ ‘Lovergirl’ singer, R&B artist,” Obituary, Dec. 27

Teena Marie was a dynamic vocalist who definitely proved that great R&B music has no color barrier.

Being a young adult of the 1980s myself, I remember how her music rocked good old-fashioned house parties.

Slow dancing, finger-poppin’ and downright body-jerking soul music will forever be the fortress of her energetic musical style.

Wayne E. Williams

Camden, N.J.