Mitt Romney’s religion as a campaign issue; utilities’ ‘smart meters’; 21st century weapons for the Pentagon

Politics and religion

Re “Romney’s religious ‘test,’ ” Opinion, June 1

In reading Tim Rutten’s Op-Ed column concerning Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, I was struck by the quote from Warren Cole Smith: “I believe a candidate who either by intent or effect promotes a false and dangerous religion is unfit to serve.”

I understand I am in a minority here, but I believe that anyone who thinks there is an immortal, all-powerful being sitting somewhere listening to their mumblings is not totally sane and almost certain to be dangerous.

Aside from the unconstitutionality of the whole idea, “my fairy tale is true, yours is false” is the stuff of inquisitions, both in the past and what is currently going on in the Middle East.


Diane Silver


Our great experiment called the United States seems to always be in question. Are we capable of tolerating our neighbors’ race, religion, language, gender and culture? Sure, John F. Kennedy was a Roman Catholic, and President Obama is African American.

It seems that when the media talk about the subject, it arouses those who haven’t grasped the meaning of our democracy. Unfortunately we aren’t the perfect union yet and probably never will be, thanks to those who dip into the barrel of discrimination.

Ken Johnson

Pinon Hills, Calif.

‘Smart meters’ are the future

Re “Outcry over ‘smart meters,’ ” May 29

A smarter grid is crucial to achieving the clean energy revolution we need. Choices that slow that revolution will keep us dependent on fossil fuels, known contributors to various illnesses.

Every meter that must be read manually requires utilities to dispatch trucks that emit tailpipe pollution. While smart meters enable far greater reliance on solar and wind, meters that can’t communicate will limit the shift to renewable resources. In short, benefits are significantly diminished if the smart grid is deployed piecemeal.

That doesn’t mean utilities should get a pass. Regulators must hold them accountable for delivering environmental and health benefits. That’s why Environmental Defense Fund is advocating with state regulators to ensure ratepayers get good health returns on their investment. Next month, we will publish score cards for California’s three publicly owned utilities’ smart-grid plans.

Tim O’Connor

San Francisco

The writer is a climate change policy analyst and an attorney at Environmental Defense Fund.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. seems to have missed an opportunity to grease the skids for acceptance of its “smart meters.”

We Americans, while overtly suspicious of government and private entities doing things that we perceive as eroding our freedoms, unquestioningly hand over our rights when told it’s necessary to do so for national security and the “war on terror.”

PG&E should have started its meter campaign with flag-waving public-service announcements about the vulnerability of the old meters to terrorist attacks and perhaps some sly innuendo on Fox News about being suspicious of neighbors who resist the installation of the new patriotic meters.

Stephen Lee

La Habra

Must war always be the way?

Re “Military seeks lethal arms in a tiny package,” May 31

What I find most unsettling was the statement that “the Pentagon is looking to cheaper, smaller weapons to wage war in the 21st century,” as if this is the new paradigm for our future.

I know that it is naive to imagine that our world will someday be free of conflict, but to make active preparations for a future life that will be engulfed in a paroxysm of constant violence is a terrible M.O. for our country.

Russell Blinick


For the record, the smart bombs have nothing to do with me or with any members of my family. Peace.

Bill Smart

Santa Barbara

Poor service

Re “Death doesn’t halt Verizon bills,” Business, May 31

David Lazarus writes in his column about Verizon’s billing of a dead customer: “I’d like to think that Verizon has also learned from this episode and will show more respect to its customers in the future.”

Does he really think that, after writing several columns on telecom-

munication companies’ abhorrent behavior? Each time a wronged customer has the stamina to persist or find an advocate in the media, the companies vomit a half-digested apology and then walk away grinning.

There is nothing to be gained from acting honorably. Better-trained customer service reps with more authority cost more money but bring in less. Changing their practices will reduce revenue because most people who are wronged will just pay up to make the annoyance go away.

David Lazarus, explain to me from where your sunny optimism about a lesson learned comes.

Jan Dreier



Re “What did you do last Sunday?,” Opinion, May 29

At the age of 75, “losing it” is one of my worst nightmares. So I read the article with interest and asked myself what I did on a recent Sunday. To my delight, every detail surged back.

I was in England on the last Sunday of my vacation, and we had a family get-together. This event was way out of the norm, but what surprised me was the clarity of the memories, as if they were a movie running in my head.

Like most of us, I would be hard-pressed to remember what I did on a routine Sunday.

I asked my husband (who had not accompanied me on my trip) what he did that Sunday. He pondered, then gave up.

Could we prevent memory decline in our old age if we made a conscious effort to do something out of the ordinary? It’s worth more than a passing thought.

Audrey Bishop

Westlake Village

Mercury in fish

Re “Study: Mercury common in sport fish near cities,” May 29

The article points out that toxic mercury is a threat to our health in California. What it doesn’t mention is why this is the case. Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury pollution in the United States. Just because we can’t see them poisoning us doesn’t mean they aren’t harming our health here in Los Angeles.

Mercury pollution is released into the air by coal-fired power plants and then rains down into rivers, streams and oceans, where it winds up in fish and eventually on our dinner tables. As the Environmental Protection Agency finally adopts standards that will protect people from the damage coal-fired power plants do to our health, the cost of coal will continue to increase.

We can protect our health and our pocketbooks by moving beyond coal and getting real about the abundant opportunities for clean energy here in Los Angeles.

David Graham-Caso

Los Angeles

The author is a deputy press secretary for the Sierra Club.

Enforce all laws

Re “State might opt out of ICE reports,” May 31

What is it with our elected officials and police chiefs who make reference to illegal immigrants who should not be deported because it may cause hardships to them and their families? So what if they didn’t commit any serious crimes. For starters, what about illegally entering the country?

Silly me, I thought elected officials and all law-enforcement officers swore an oath to uphold and enforce all laws. They should not exclude those crimes that may provide political or other advantages.

I guess selective law enforcement is the new standard (except for my parking tickets — no selectivity there).

Bill Marsh

North Hollywood

Joplin’s hero

Re “Joplin says goodbye to a man who died saving others,” May 29

We should all hope (and pray) that in moments of extreme chaos and danger, our choices and behavior would emulate that of

M. Dean Wells, who died while herding customers and employees into a safer part of a Home Depot during the recent tornado.

There is no greater reason for one’s existence than a concern for the welfare of others.

Terry Lynn Whitfield

San Antonio Heights

Wal-Mart green

Re “Wal-Mart’s green hat,” Opinion, May 31

Perhaps Wal-Mart’s carbon footprint can be reduced until it is as small as its living wage-generating footprint.

Ed Coonce