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The Goodwin Liu judicial nomination; the military and public opinion; benefits for L.A. Unified cafeteria workers

Looking at Liu

Re “Impaired judgment,” Opinion, June 1

There is a reason that attacks like those made on Goodwin Liu, who recently asked that his nomination to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals be withdrawn, are called “Borking.” This horrible process began with the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s bizarre attack on Robert Bork, a recognized constitutional scholar whom President Reagan nominated to the Supreme Court.

Ever since then, federal court nominees have been targeted by ideological opponents of the administration nominating them. This history is the real disgrace.

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Liu was just one more qualified nominee suffering through today’s version of Kennedy’s scorched-earth policy for dealing with those with whom he disagreed.

Arthur O. Armstrong

Manhattan Beach

Ian Millhiser’s claim that Liu’s stance on constitutional welfare rights is similar to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s is absurd. Liu maintains that it’s the role of judges to determine “whether our collective values on a given issue have converged to a degree that they can be persuasively crystallized and credibly absorbed into legal doctrine,” and he argues that courts should strike down California’s school finance system. So much for judicial restraint.

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Millhiser contends that Liu’s testimony against the confirmation of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. was “scrupulously accurate.” But Millhiser repeats Liu’s demagoguery.

Alito never “argued that cops should be allowed to shoot a purse-snatcher in the back to prevent him from getting away with 10 stolen dollars.” Alito’s position was that the Constitution left “for legislative rather than judicial resolution” the issue of whether the traditional rule permitting the use of deadly force against fleeing felons should be modified or eliminated.

M. Edward Whelan III

Washington

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The writer is president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

A respected, costly military

Re “Worth saluting,” Opinion, May 30

Americans should be thankful for our thoroughly professional military, its compliance with civilian control and its efficiency. We should be grateful for the freedoms sustained by its operations.

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We should, however, remind ourselves that we account for about 42% of the world’s total military expenditures. And we are contemplating crucial cuts to the elderly, the poor, the sick and our children to maintain this institution.

We should also remind ourselves that many of our soldiers’ sacrifices have been because of politics. We have been careless in the civilians we have killed. We have engaged in torture, and we have forgotten our veterans on many occasions.

Ralph Mitchell

Monterey Park

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Karlyn Bowman and Andrew Rugg have written a highly flawed essay. I would hope that, as in many other countries — whether poor or advanced — the institution of education would be held in the highest regard. Without it, progress is impossible.

Despite the polls the authors cite, a certain hypocrisy prevails in the United States. Veterans are among the least well-served Americans for their service and sacrifice. They are over-represented in health and crime statistics. And with our society’s mantra of “get over it,” they are discarded.

This isn’t much of an indication that the institution is held in the high regard claimed by the authors.

F. Daniel Gray

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Los Angeles

Where school funds go

Re “Benefits sap school food funds,” May 30

Thanks for a straightforward explanation of why the Los Angeles Unified School District’s food services are in the red. It wasn’t until paragraph 14 that the real culprit became apparent.

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If L.A. Unified requires no monthly healthcare premium from its employees, then who in his right mind wouldn’t drop another plan and head straight for this option? And in what alternative universe is a zero-premium health plan part of the compensation package?

No wonder that those of us who support these systems are increasingly disenchanted. Until the benefits equation is dealt with head on, voters will not accept the false choice between an all-cuts versus tax increase approach to solving budget problems.

Constance White

Pasadena

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Food-service worker Gamaliel Andrade, who asks the question, “Don’t we all deserve a healthy life?,” needs to know that, one, the word “deserve” effectively translates into “entitlement,” and two, your personal health begins at home.

There are ways for the uninsured to take advantage of free or very low-cost screenings or lab work in their own communities. Good eating and light exercise are excellent ways for folks to be healthy.

Waiting for a “health package” to take care of what is primarily a personal responsibility will not make the problem go away.

Sandi Lopez

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Visalia, Calif.

Death made quick and simple

Re “Assisted suicide kits spur debate,” May 31

Executions in California are on hold because the sequence of drugs used to kill condemned prisoners may not be sufficiently painless.

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Meanwhile, a “gregarious” and “disarming” woman has been selling $60 suicide kits composed of plastic bags and medical tubing that, when attached to a helium tank, quickly put people to “peaceful” and permanent sleep.

I oppose the death penalty. But because we have it, I must ask, why has the state wasted scarce resources on an elaborate and expensive method of execution when such an effective, humane and cheap alternative apparently is available?

Randy Munyon

Burbank

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Sharlotte Hydorn is not violating any laws. Her written materials are protected by the 1st Amendment. The items she sells as a kit — the FBI calls them medical devices — are generally available independently: helium tanks from party stores, plastic bags from grocery stores and plastic tubing from hardware stores. Should we ban the sale of rope because suicidal individuals might hang themselves?

Some diseases are known for their great pain and mental anguish at the end of life. Terminally ill patients with such diseases are often kept alive against their will.

Richard E. Goodman

Camarillo

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Selling people “suicide kits” is unethical and harmful to our society. If we are unwilling to commit the necessary resources to fight this elderly woman’s misconception, we are telling the younger people that however you make some money, it’s OK. Which it is not.

Christopher Andrews

Riverside

Cuts hurt

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Re “Costa Mesa seen as a GOP model,” June 1

Our city, county and state governments should be figuring out how to save jobs, not cut them. Why not retain all current employees, institute a short-term job freeze and cut all salaries to balance the budget, starting with elected officials and legislators?

You don’t have to fire people, just cut their pay. If they cannot take the pay cut, at least they can tread water while they locate another job.

When you cut jobs, you cut people. When you cut people, you cut their income. When you cut their income, guess what? You decrease tax revenues.

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Does Costa Mesa plan to raise income and other taxes on those who still have jobs? At what point do we all just cry uncle?

Becky Bonanno

Los Angeles

Dirty hands

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Re “Fat raises, hints of limits,” Business, May 29

A board of directors sets executive compensation, and corporate executives determine board of director compensation. This isn’t a free market but a fixed one. In corporate America, one hand washes the other and both come away dirty.

Carl C. Slate

Sherman Oaks

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Waterboarders

Re “Did waterboarding work?,” Opinion, May 31

David Rittgers writes that “enhanced interrogation” isn’t coming back. The only way to be sure of that is to prosecute and punish those who did it during the previous administration.

Morris Schorr

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Woodland Hills


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