Visitors to Bethlehem; the payroll tax cut fight; Jonah Goldberg on Ron Paul

Bethlehem memory

Re “O little town of tourist dollars,” Column One, Dec. 20

The article says that although tourists flock to the West Bank city of Bethlehem, they don’t spend much money there. My experience is different.

In February I traveled with friends to Israel and added an optional excursion to Bethlehem. At the border, we were transferred from our Israeli tour bus to one owned and operated by Palestinians.


Our group of 20 was then taken to a restaurant for an excellent lunch, followed by an extended visit to a Christian woodcarving store where many in the group bought items to take to our next stop, the Church of the Nativity. Several of us bought scarves and flutes from vendors in the streets. Though we did not stay at the hotels, we did leave money behind.

Bethlehem does not have an airport, so yes, tourists will have to come via Tel Aviv. But they will come, both Christians and Jews.

Renee Schwartz

Thousand Oaks


Questions in the Bell scandal

Re “Bell’s highly paid chief offstage in legal drama,” Dec. 20

It is undisputed that former city of Bell Police Chief Randy Adams entered into an agreement that was backdated, deceived the public and gave him a salary that could only be deemed a gift of public funds.

He is alleged to have entered into an agreement promising him a disability retirement pension. Thus, the injury inflicted on the public coffers was exacerbated by the additional significant windfall he was to receive in the form of a tax break on his salary. Also, an employee cannot “agree” ahead of time to become disabled.

Why isn’t Adams being criminally charged?

Kenneth C. Hardy


Isn’t it a conflict of interest when the agency prosecuting the Bell corruption scandal (the L.A. County district attorney’s office) is alleged to have encouraged Adams to take a $457,000-a-year job in the first place? And didn’t Adams break the law by allegedly agreeing to retire with a preapproved disability pension?


The simple statement by prosecutor Max Huntsman that he could not get a conviction kind of smells. Maybe an independent agency should take over this prosecution.

Kudos to Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy for asking why Adams is not a defendant.

Miguel Rosales


Fight over the payroll tax cut

Re “Dysfunction in the House,” Editorial, Dec. 22

To describe the House of Representatives as dysfunctional is an understatement. House Republicans abused their power to make a political statement at the expense of both the employed and the unemployed.

If they have any regard at all for voters’ reaction, they will have to overcome tea party disregard for the common good.


Lenore Navarro Dowling

Los Angeles

I would rather say that there is dysfunction in the media and in Washington, not just the GOP-led House. Your editorial and several letters on the same day show clearly that you and they don’t see that this country is falling apart financially.

The country has been spending taxpayers’ money with very little regard for the consequences. Now we are broke (more than $15 trillion in debt) and headed over a financial cliff, and few in the media seem to care.

I see your job as making sure that the people know the truth about what’s going on in our government, not pushing an agenda.

Clarence Dixon

Los Angeles

It has become painful. The responses of Congress in important matters are boorish at best, the payroll tax cut vote being the latest example of congressional hubris. This is the same Congress that was able to act swiftly when adopting a resolution supporting “In God We Trust.”

Though GOP representatives seemingly bear a greater share of responsibility, Democrats are not blameless.

We should have a constitutional mechanism allowing for mass recalls.

Greg Ryan

Woodland Hills

Am I alone in finding the controversy over extending the payroll tax holiday misleading?

This so-called payroll tax cut is, in fact, a temporary reduction in employees’ contribution to Social Security.

For many years there has been seeming agreement on all sides that the Social Security trust fund is going to be in trouble soon. So is there now no irony in the fact that Congress is focusing on reducing the money going into the trust fund but no longer expressing any concern for the future of Social Security?

Phil Moser

Sherman Oaks

How Ron Paul would govern

Re “Ron Paul’s naive promises,” Opinion, Dec. 20

Jonah Goldberg brings a dose of much-needed perspective to Ron Paul’s candidacy for the GOP nomination. Goldberg is right that a Paul administration would not guarantee his ability or effectiveness in building coalitions or consensus.

The safe bet is that Paul would use his veto authority deliberately and often when it comes to spending bills. Congress might be forced to actually deal with the deficit instead of playing the blame game.

Gene Richau


Goldberg, of all people, should not criticize the only viable candidate who holds a true small-government philosophy.

Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and all the rest just want to keep the status quo basically intact, like George W. Bush did before them. Look at Europe right now; that is America in 15 years without serious change. That is not hyperbole. Paul needs our support.

What a world we live in where conservatives don’t jump at the chance to support the candidates with true small-government ideas, even if they probably will not win.

Mark C. Johnson

Los Angeles

Arizona sheriff

Re “U.S. to screen Arizona inmates,” Dec. 20

How can Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his thugs in Arizona call themselves law enforcers when they can’t even enforce basic civil rights? Immigrants are human beings and deserve to be treated as such.

How will a brave soldier home from Iraq feel if he or she is pulled over in Arizona because he or she has dark skin? Neither our selfless, heroic soldiers nor the people in this country, whether legal citizens or not, deserve that type of discriminatory treatment.

It’s absurd that Arpaio would refute what the U.S. Department of Justice reported. Ya basta — “enough is enough.”

Carmen Kaplan

Woodland Hills

Mortgage mess

Re “SEC targets ex-Freddie, Fannie execs,” Dec. 17

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — fraud? Really?

Why doesn’t the Securities and Exchange Commission target the members of Congress who continued Freddie and Fannie’s federal charter, which encouraged the push for homeownership on the one hand and gave Freddie and Fannie favorable status on its business model on the other?

Clearly, the SEC has “forgotten” that both are quasi-governmental agencies that were encouraged to do precisely what they were doing. Scapegoating them gives the illusion that government is “doing something,” and it is easier than looking in the mirror or in your constituents’ faces.

Stephany Yablow

North Hollywood

Lancaster pride

Re “Lancaster is a successful portrait in black, white,” Dec. 19

Lancaster isn’t full of white racists trying to run the minorities out of town. I am an African American woman who moved here two years ago and can hardly believe how this community has been portrayed in The Times regarding Section 8 issues.

Most Lancaster residents just want a good quality of life with people who have pride in their communities. We are not racist for disliking some Section 8 renters in our midst who bring crime, trash, loud music and droves of menacing teens to our neighborhoods.

I applaud our mayor and local sheriff’s deputies who work to enforce the rules, no matter how much flak they receive.

Beverly Antel


Get our weekly Opinion newsletter