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A Sarah Palin advisor; paying to use the carpool lanes; the real price of energy Letters to the editor

Advising Sarah Palin

Re “Behind Sarah Palin, a low-profile but high-impact aide,” Column One, March 17

Sarah Palin’s choice of Rebecca Mansour as a top advisor is surprising.

Mansour lives in “Sodom and Gomorrah” (Hollywood), was a fundraiser for an enemy-infested university (Harvard) and wrote a short film with a questionable R-rated title (“Something Between Us”).

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Sounds like a tainted liberal to me.

Phyllis Landis

Ocean Hills, Calif.

This article makes me wonder: Can’t political candidates think for themselves? Voters beware that you’re choosing between candidates’ speechwriters, not the candidates themselves.

Slogans and sound bites do not a candidate make.

Lynn F. Casella

La Verne

Everyone into the carpool lane

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Re “If freeways aren’t free,” Editorial, March 18

Are you serious? Have you tried a carpool lane at peak time? It sometimes is as busy as all the other lanes. Where are the rich people who pay to use them at those times going to go? When are we going to see that we just have too many cars using the freeways at the same time? When are we going to try something else, like alternating work schedules or making deliveries at night to minimize trucks?

Richard Escarcega

Venice

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Letting solo drivers pay to use the carpool lanes doesn’t seem any less democratic than the whole idea of such lanes. Carpool lanes are a lie and a fraud.

The idea behind the carpool lane is to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, making for less traffic. But who really carpools? The parent with a child in the car hasn’t taken a licensed driver off the road. Two guys going to a job in their truck haven’t taken a driver off the road. Going to dinner with my wife doesn’t take a driver off the road.

The point is that most people are in the carpool lane by happenstance, not because they decided to get together to drive one car to their mutual workplace or location.

So instead of having an extra lane available to all traffic, a minority of people benefit. And everyone else suffers because that carpool lane is unavailable and the entry/exit sections create bottlenecks.

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Larry Keffer

Granada Hills

The reason carpool lanes were established was to encourage carpooling, and, as you say, it’s the carpoolers who will suffer from the extra traffic in their lanes with this plan.

Reducing the incentive for carpooling seems exactly the wrong thing to do on our crowded freeways.

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Encouraging carpooling is an example of government action that benefits everyone. Providing special lanes for affluent drivers might reduce the traffic in other lanes slightly, at the cost of discouraging the very thing the lanes were designed to encourage. The costs of this plan seem to outweigh the benefits.

Bert Bigelow

Orange

Instead of a high surtax on a well-to-do minority segment of our motoring society, why not an insignificant surtax on all?

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Do away with the carpool lanes on all freeways and replace those lanes with tracks for high-speed rail, financed by an add-on gasoline tax of, say, a nickel or so a gallon.

That is fair, as all are taxed. All may use the train, especially if the add-on gasoline tax helps subsidize the train passenger fares.

Instead of merely calling the well-to-do, let us call “All aboard!”

Maurice Sparks

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Los Angeles

This one’s a slam-dunk

Re “Gingrich takes shot at Obama’s NCAA picks,” March 19

I never heard Newt Gingrich or the Republicans criticize President Bush when he was on vacation so much of the time. This group disagrees with anything President Obama says or does; if he says “white,” they say “black.” It is not constructive; what do you suppose it could be?

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Mark Temple

Huntington Beach

Gingrich proudly makes mountains out of molehills. He has no shame.

He doesn’t look like presidential material.

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Ken Hense

Marina del Rey

Is there such a dearth of news that you devote so many column inches (with art) to Gingrich criticizing Obama’s March Madness picks?

If the president sneezes, yawns or has his shoelace untied, you can count on Gingrich or one of his ilk finding fault and proclaiming the end of the world because of it.

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I am terribly disappointed that one of the few remaining real news organizations continues to keep the nonissue pot roiling with nonsense like this.

Terry Snyder

Los Angeles

Religion and natural disasters

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Re “Faith’s response to disaster,” Beliefs, March 19

The oldest of theological questions is also one of the easiest to answer. Why would an all-loving, all-powerful God consistently crush and drown innocent children by the thousands?

The obvious answer is that no such being exists. That concept of God was invented by primitive people trying to understand the world with no knowledge of cause and effect in nature.

No wonder religious people “struggle” over these questions.

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Brent Forrester

Pacific Palisades

Why is it that no matter what terrible things happen, people still believe in an almighty God who can destroy life at will?

When thousands die in some natural disaster but a few survive, then people praise the Lord for the survivors. So these few were more worthy of being saved than the thousands who did not survive?

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Come on, this is the 21st century: Is it not time to rid ourselves of these outdated superstitions?

Let’s look at life on this planet with eyes that are not clouded by religious dogmas. Let us use reason and science in our actions to prevent and minimize the terrible loss of life that happens in these natural occurrences.

John Coppejans

Santa Barbara

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What energy really costs

Re “The real price of energy,” Opinion, March 18

The author, Ronald Brownstein, says that the price we pay for energy consumption doesn’t reflect the true cost.

He’s right, yet he writes not one word about the cost of wars and other military spending. You can never assess the real price of energy if you don’t account for the trillions of dollars (and countless lives) spent to support our energy policy today.

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John Farmer

Woodland Hills

Throughout our lengthy addiction to cheap fuel, power companies have learned to leverage huge profits and muscle by underestimating the hazards of fossil fuels and nuclear energy. The real health and safety costs are not listed on their balance sheets.

Corporations are supposed to reap dividends for stockholders, but who is looking out for the average citizen?

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Because no one but the government will cover loans for nuclear plants, the expense of accidents is borne by taxpayers. Likewise, the long-term health effects of greenhouse gases are downplayed.

Those shielding the status quo tell us to doubt peer-reviewed climate science but to trust nuclear science. If businesses are too skittish to guarantee investments in nuclear plants, and major insurance companies calculate the destructive consequences of climate change, shouldn’t we put a price on energy that reflects its true risk?

Amy Hoyt Bennett

Encinitas

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