Re "Venezuela candidate sees thirst for change," Feb. 14
It's been terrific, the coverage of Venezuela's primary and the smart decision by five opponents of President Hugo Chavez to unite behind whomever got the most votes. At 39, Henrique Capriles is a proven leader, a popular governor and an intelligent candidate promising believably to keep Chavez's programs for the poor while probably but not explicitly intending to cut programs depleting the national treasury.
That 3 million voted and Capriles won 62% of the votes says he'll be a formidable candidate and could win votes from the chavistas. Chavez should be worried.
I hope The Times will continue covering the campaign in Venezuela leading up to October's election, which will be more important than we as a nation can imagine now.
Churches in our bedrooms
Re "Bishops dismiss Obama's birth control revision," Feb. 12, and "Key Republican vows to fight birth control mandate," Feb. 13
The bishops of the sex-scandal-ravaged Roman Catholic Church have no standing to talk about "grave moral concern."
The government's edict has nothing to do with religious freedom. The Catholic Church and other religious institutions have the freedom to deny choice to their members, but they cannot ignore the law and try to take away choice from other people. They can turn down all of the tax dollars they get for any of their programs.
How dare they try to force their religion on the rest of us, all the while claiming it takes away their freedom of religion. They ignore my freedom of religion.
They are an outrage, as are all people who clamor for a smaller, less intrusive government yet have no problem with the government coming into our bedrooms.
The objection to requiring contraception coverage is not merely an economic question of who has to pay for it; it is immoral and against religious freedom.
Freedom in a democracy is essential, especially from big government. This means we are Catholic, and we will run the Catholic hospitals as Jesus would. If you do not like it, do not go to a Catholic hospital.
Thanks to the bishops for standing strong.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Tenn.) and the Catholic bishops certainly believe they occupy the moral high ground. However, the Republicans' social conservatism is in direct opposition to their fiscal conservatism.
The facts show that preventing a single unwanted pregnancy saves thousands of dollars. Without birth control, this additional cost burden falls on the insurance companies and then to all of us. Those of us who use birth control subsidize those who don't.
I challenge all social conservatives, and the Catholic hierarchy, to pay the appropriate medical premium surcharge for all unwanted children. They should put their money where their principles are; only then will their elevated stand be taken seriously.
The language of governing
Re "English-only for candidates?," Editorial, Feb. 11
A language qualification for city council candidates is a minimum threshold requirement, but it is important.
As a retired city attorney, I am aware of how local elected officials work. They don't just go to meetings and talk. They read memorandums, staff reports on legislation and many more items that are crucial to what they do. Anyone who cannot handle the English language cannot honestly and properly serve.
Your editorial position is naive and dangerous. The Arizona Supreme Court's decision involving the eligibility of San Luis City Council candidate Alejandrina Cabrera was correct.
Michael H. Miller
Suppose that all of the city council candidates in San Luis would not have passed the test to demonstrate necessary English skills. Consistent with the Arizona Supreme Court's ruling, the city council election would be canceled, thereby leaving a council with only members whose terms had not expired.
By extrapolating to future elections in which no candidate would pass the English test requirement, the city would eventually have no council. This is no good.
Thus, Arizona's requirement for public officials to pass a test demonstrating acceptable English skills should be applied only to elected officials and not to candidates for public office.
The English ability of a candidate would first become an election issue, where it belongs.
Re "Upheaval threatens to undo Miramonte gains," Feb. 12
If John Deasy, superintendent of the L.A. Unified School District, was truly trying to heal the community of Miramonte Elementary School, he would have reached out and included the parents, teachers, union and community as part of the decision-making process. Instead, he unilaterally decided to remove all staff.
It is no wonder parents are protesting and the union accuses him of grandstanding. Parents complained they were kept in the dark about the alleged abuse, and Deasy's response shows that it continues to be business as usual at L.A. Unified.
Re "Deal gives banks a pass," Column, Feb. 12
Whether mortgages and foreclosure documents were "robo-signed" or executed by a person is not the issue. A foreclosure does not begin unless loan payments have not been made in a timely manner. The lender has an obligation to its investors to recover monies owed.
The $25-billion settlement may result in favorable stimulus to the market, but let's look at it for what it is: a pragmatic step, not some kind of punishment for fraud.
Re "Will Oscar be safe?," Opinion, Feb. 13
The Internet is like a knife: It is useful, but when used by the wrong hands, it becomes a weapon.
There is nothing wrong with online voting per se, but hackers make the Web a voting bomb. Online tallies should be eschewed, especially for the Academy Awards, which could easily lose their value in the hands of hackers.
An award is something well earned; we can't let voting impostors take that from us.
Re "Lawman says peer pointed pistol at him," Feb. 15
What would happen to me if I pointed a gun at a Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeant and said I was going to kill him? Or if I pointed a gun at anybody?
Is it just me, or is there something nutty about the way the law is applied to law enforcement?
Re "Still calling," Feb. 14
Tony Bennett: "The loveliness of Paris seems somehow sadly gay/ The glory that was Rome is of another day/ I've been terribly alone and forgotten in Manhattan/ I'm going home to my city by the bay."
Justin Bieber: "And I was like/ Baby, baby, baby, oh/ Like/ Baby, baby, baby, no."