Leading the circus
Re "Duck, it's The Donald!" Opinion, April 19
Why is it that every time I read an article on Donald Trump, I have visions of P.T. Barnum? It's bad enough that we are subjected to his ego-mercial "Celebrity Apprentice." But now we have to listen to this twice-bankrupted celebrity wannabe, who inherited part of his fortune from his father, tell us of his business acumen.
Do we have to tolerate his bid for attention as he continuously questions the birthplace of our president, a scheme logic would dictate required an enormous conspiracy on all levels that started more than 40 years ago? If the guy can't figure that out, how would he ever find his way to the bathroom in the White House?
I hope that Trump does become the Republican candidate for president. I might even vote for him myself. At the very least, his presidency would inspire comedy routines that would help ease our seemingly inevitable descent into Third World status.
Who knows what he would really do as president? There's a chance, admittedly very slim, that he might be effective.
If the country is going to go bankrupt, we might as well put an expert in the White House to call the shots.
Divided over a genocide
Re "Lack of moral clarity," Opinion, April 20
Thanks to Tim Rutten for pointing out President Obama's failure to acknowledge the Armenian genocide — a historical reality.
The overwhelming conclusion of the eyewitness accounts at the time is that the Ottoman Empire used World War I to essentially get rid of the Armenians without being disturbed by the diplomatic intervention of foreign countries.
It seems no matter what historical accounts show, Turkey is still having its way in directing our president and Congress in what to say and do.
La Cañada Flintridge
Rutten pronounces the Ottoman Turks guilty of an Armenian genocide in World War I without a corroborating judicial verdict or its equivalent. The Ottoman government was not accused of war crimes in World War I. No Ottoman Turk was ever prosecuted for genocide. The crime did not exist until the 1945 Nuremberg Trials.
Several renowned Middle East scholars dispute the genocide thesis, which is generating credible new literature every year.
The Turkish government supports an independent international commission of experts with access to all relevant archives to make an authoritative characterization of the treatment of Ottoman Armenians in the name of historical truth and forward-looking reconciliation. In contrast, Rutten mocks due process and casually dismisses the prominent historians still struggling to separate fact from fiction.
The writer is attorney for the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund.
The will to save the UC
Re "The Master Plan turncoats," Opinion, April 17
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block's Op-Ed article should be required reading for all Californians. Early on, they recognized the value of a fine education system and instituted one that reached into communities throughout the state. My own family counts four generations of California university students and graduates among it.
And yet from these ranks — sadly many of them friends and family — come numerous Californians, including my state senator, unwilling to ensure that this opportunity is available for today's and future students. If that isn't the definition of ingrate, I don't know what is.
Pine Mountain Club, Calif.
Block makes an impressive argument about the potential societal impact of an increasingly expensive public education. He ignores, however, one option that would increase access for needy students and improve the University of California system's finances.
UC undergraduate tuition does not fully cover all related expenses. Therefore, families able to pay tuition are being subsidized by California taxpayers. For affluent families with children in private schools, this often results in a decrease in tuition.
Application of true means testing to the UC tuition structure should mean higher market-rate tuition for those families who are able to pay, with part of the extra revenue devoted to increased
financial aid for those who need it.
It should surprise no one that none of the 29 Republican state legislators who are products of California's higher education system will support putting tax extensions on the ballot. Hypocrisy is the life blood of the Republican Party.
George M. Lewis
Los Osos, Calif.
It takes more than slogans
Re "The problem with boobies," April 19
I was heartened by Peggy Orenstein's commentary on the "I ? boobies" phenomenon. She exposed that campaign's ineffectiveness for breast cancer awareness and its pandering to adolescents' sexual preoccupation. Fortunately, her concern for women who have, or will have, breast cancer is shared widely.
Our culture links sex to almost every product and activity. When teenagers "live in a world that continually encourages them to act sexy without understanding their sexuality," addressing that pathology is more important than using boobies bracelets in a faux crusade against breast cancer.
Let me be clear here: If I hadn't felt my boobies 12 years ago, I would most likely be dead today. A mammogram didn't find my tumor; my hand did.
I'll teach my daughter to feel her boobies despite what Orenstein cites as evidence.
These slogans all seem to tacitly approve of the view that we should value breasts for their utility to others. They raise the wrong kind of awareness.
Unless we can somehow extend this campaign to other organs — "I ? pancreases or "I ? small intestines" — I say we lose the boobie bracelets.
Michael C. Smith
Re " 'Tea party' tango," Editorial, April 20
Your editorial falls into the same trap that so much of the media have fallen into: treating the "tea party" as a major force in our political process. In fact, the sizes of the rallies have dropped tremendously compared to their peak in 2009, when they were enthusiastically promoted by Fox News.
Conversely, rallies of pro-union supporters have numbered in the tens of thousands. But because you and the other mainstream media outlets continue to treat the tea party as a political force, it remains a significant influence. This, despite the views of tea party members, who disagree strongly with the idea of killing Medicare.
Sadly, because of this misinformation about the tea party, Republicans in Congress are able to take extreme positions. The unfortunate fact is that they have influence only because the media give it to them.
Rancho Santa Margarita
Not a reform
Re "Bitten by reform," Opinion, April 19
Failures by the Legislature led to the very reforms Larry Levine seeks to repeal, yet he yearns for the good-old days.
He asserts that "California legislation became the model for laws in other states," which, if true, may explain the mess the country is in.
The key "reform" Levine seeks is repealing the two-thirds supermajority required to increase state taxes, a change that would enable the majority "to raise revenue for needed state services." This is precisely the reason this provision should not be repealed. If a new service cannot be funded by eliminating something else, I submit that if two-thirds of the Legislature cannot be persuaded to raise revenue for it, then it is not a "needed state service" at all.
We are painfully aware of the kind of fiscal mess that Levine's legislative attitude produces.