Philandering politicians; a stony-hearted America; and Orange County's Great Park

Courting more than the vote

Re "What makes them stray?" Opinion, May 22

Frank Farley focuses on sexual philandering by prominent politicians. While defining a "Type T personality" profile that fits these individuals, he tries to answer this question: "So why do we keep electing such people?"

If, as Farley says, people admire their charisma and risk-taking behavior but often overlook their infidelities and narcissism, are we to accept his characterization of the United States "to some extent as a Type T nation, tilting in the risk-taking direction"?

Farley doesn't go far enough with his questions. Here's another question: What are the likely consequences when we elect individuals who take selfish risks while hiding behind rhetoric touting patriotism and platitudes expressing high ideals?

Put another way, what happens when we elect cheaters and liars to public office? There are ample precedents. I can almost hear the warning: "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

Chuck Hackwith

San Clemente

Farley raises two questions, the first one being if there are gender differences when it comes to marriage infidelity for the rich and powerful. It appears that women find themselves more attracted to men they consider their intellectual equal or superior, which makes an association such as Clinton-Lewinsky less likely for them.

Powerful women also must consider their traditional family role. While a powerful man's neglect of his family is more often overlooked, a woman must effectively deal with the demands of her career and family.

The second question deals with people's ability to forgive the indiscretions of their once-heroes. The answer has much to do with the consequences of their behavior. For example, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's was much easier to forgive than John Edwards' because, in the end, the former has managed to maintain the status quo in the home front.

Berta Graciano-Buchman

Beverly Hills

America's moral clarity

Re "America the stony-hearted," Opinion, May 22

Neal Gabler claims that this country's moral values have changed from the good old days of the New Deal to a less moral and more tough-minded conservative self-interest.

Those good old days included the Dixiecrats, those Southern Democrats who legislated and enforced segregation laws. Gabler also missed anti-homosexual laws, anti-miscegenation laws, anti-Semitic zoning restrictions and antiabortion laws.

I was alive during those tenderhearted days, and I remember when you couldn't sell your house in many areas of L.A. to an African American, Jew or Mexican. You couldn't get a legal abortion. I remember when black men couldn't get into skilled craft unions or get jobs as engineers.

I am not opposed to America being a more just, nobler nation. But to pretend that it used to be so is a fantasy.

Dallas Weaver

Huntington Beach

I reject Gabler's premise that there is a moral revolution happening; moral clarity is more accurate.

Person A taking money from Person B, using the threat of imprisonment, and giving it to Person C does not make Person A compassionate.

To Gabler, this is what constitutes "good works."

Generally, conservatives believe decent people can disagree on social policy. For men like Gabler, conservatives are stony-hearted. Against racial preferences or bilingual education? Racist. Against higher taxes? Selfish.

Why so incurious? Gabler doesn't mention the mountains of evidence that prove that many of the "social disasters" he laments were aggravated by policies he supports.

Richard Palmer

Newport Beach

Gabler captures how the right has lost its compassion. The striking difference of late seems to be the unabashed forthrightness with which conservatives launch their attacks, whether on healthcare, environmental laws or workers' benefits. Protecting selfish interests (their own pocketbooks) seems to be the main reason, but there's a disturbing undercurrent that tells me it's more about protecting arbitrary class distinctions (I have, you don't).

But this is not a zero-sum game. In a "liberal" society, the ideal is that all Americans are healthy, educated and well paid. Everyone benefits,

including the right. By denying the community this ideal, they actually deny themselves.

Gloria D. Sefton

Trabuco Canyon

Gabler accuses conservatives of having abandoned the virtues of compassion, tolerance and caring over the last 30 years. The presupposition is that the "right" has moved further to the right, while the left has maintained these values.

But how would he explain the fact that like so many others, I voted the Democratic ticket for 30 or more years before finally giving it up and switching sides? Did we become stony-hearted? Or did we perceive that the Democrats had gone so far to the left that there would no longer have been a place for such icons as Harry Truman or JFK?

Compassion does not reveal itself in failed social experiments that are massively funded to the detriment of those they should help.

W.A. Sauvageot


It is, or isn't, a Great Park

Re "Great Park, interrupted," Opinion, May 23

Converting a former military base to a metropolitan park is a difficult task in the best of times. We are doing it successfully amid the worst economic downturn since the Depression.

Each week thousands of families visit the Orange County Great Park. In 2010, more than 400,000 visitors enjoyed park attractions and events, including outdoor movies, the Pumpkin Harvest, the free summer concert series and a Cirque du Soleil traveling show.

This summer, the park's 200-acre first-phase development will introduce a nine-acre sports field, the Palm Court Arts Complex, Orange County's largest community farm and an outdoor public plaza where 54 Canary Island date palms are among the 2,000 trees that have been planted, with many more to come. Construction will soon begin on lighted championship soccer fields and other sports amenities.

Mike Ellzey


The writer is chief executive of the Orange County Great Park Corp.

Bickering over plans for Irvine's Great Park and alternate plans for an international airport at the former Marine Corps El Toro Air Station continue unabated. Redevelopment agency funds are needed, and the housing crash has cut off any flow of money to the park.

The voters' choice for a Great Park was a county-wide decision, but now Irvine runs it and is no longer is bound by that decision. Plan B for funding the park may be to open the airport with the help of Los Angeles, which could run it like it does Ontario airport.

It seems unlikely that there ever will be an artificial canyon created at the Great Park or a lake at the intersection of those famous runways.

The runways are there, and Orange County needs a better airport than John Wayne, which is boxed in by urban development

and sensitive ecological sanctuaries.

Donald Nyre

Newport Beach

Tulip test

Re "State forms mortgage fraud force," May 23

Perhaps California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris should study the history of the tulip mania in the 17th century before making statements about the "wealth having been lost" in the housing price bubble.

Given that many of the homes selling for $1 million or more were really only worth a portion of that, perhaps a better term would be "greed not satisfied."

Donald Cameron


Texas dry spell

Re "Livelihoods dry up in Texas," May 22

For over 20 years powerful Texas Republicans, including George W. Bush, have ignored or ridiculed scientists' warnings of impending climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

Now oil companies have purchased congressional Republicans to finally solidify their ironclad narrative of denial, even attempting to pass a law overriding scientists' findings.

How ironic that Texas is one of the first sacrificial cows to fall to the ravages of clearly predicted climate change, with the sad loss of farmers' and ranchers' livelihoods, as the big oil companies' taxpayer-subsidized profits continue to skyrocket.

Wendy Blais

North Hills

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