Restoring Griffith Park's Fern Dell; America's stance today in the war on terrorism; who votes for the Academy Awards

A garden spot again

Re "Restoring a Griffith Park sanctuary," Feb. 19

It was 1949; Fern Dell, that bit of heaven in Griffith Park, was the destination for my first date with my then-future husband. I had packed tuna sandwiches for our picnic, and the sun was shining on our special day. We wandered through the area enjoying the beauty of the ferns and the sound of the water as it streamed over the rocks.

We've been married 58 years and have wanted to return to Fern Dell, but we have been concerned about security. I was gratified to read about the restoration with improved security.

After all the work is finished, two high school sweethearts will return, eat another tuna sandwich and enjoy the surroundings, as we had done so many years ago.

Sandra Loundy

Simi Valley

Terrorism and the war against it

Re "Slouching toward persistent war," Opinion, Feb. 19

Andrew J. Bacevich tells us, "The American people [have moved] on to other concerns and entertainments, with legal and moral questions raised by the war left dangling in midair."

Presumably the war against terrorism declared by President Bush after the slaughter of nearly 3,000 innocent civilians on9/11is "vengeance long deferred," as he sophistically puts it.

Nonsense. It is as much a response to a declaration of war by stateless jihadists as wasGermany'storpedoing of the Lusitania in 1915, which killed many Americans on board, and the destruction of our Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Vengeance is scarcely the issue, since we are too busy with "other concerns and entertainments."

Jascha Kessler

Los Angeles

Bacevich's thoughtful piece on the new way of war should alert Americans to the possible future consequences of an escalating policy of targeted assassinations or covert actions by special forces.

This issue has not yet entered the public election debates in a serious way. It should now.

Tom Wilcox

West Los Angeles

Oscar voting isn't black and white

Re "Unmasking the Academy," Feb. 19

I would pose the following question to Denzel Washington regarding his remark, "If the country is 12% black, make the [Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] 12% black": Would he be in favor of a similar standard for the Lakers?

Does he believe that the team should be 12% black, 15% Latino and a majority white? Of course, the team might not win as many games, but at least we would have proportional representation by race.

Sports and Hollywood are among the most competitive businesses in the world. Competition, while at times unforgiving, is how those enterprises make sure that the best talent rises to the top.

Washington, as one whose talent has allowed him to reach that pinnacle, should understand this.

Paul Derouin

El Segundo

Shouldn't the Academy's predominantly white, male and older voter roster make us question the inherent value of the awards bestowed by this petrified organization? With a median age of 62, why should the aging and former players in the game have the power to pick the current all-star lineup?

The way it is today is not the way it was anywhere, except in Hollywood.

Spike Bragg

Long Beach

The positive side of Scouting

Re "Boy Scouts sued in abuse case," Feb. 19

Once again, The Times runs a negative article on the Boy Scouts of America.

Missing are the millions of positive stories citing the achievements of our multitudes of law-abiding, service-oriented, high-achieving citizens, including many teenagers in our local schools and Boy Scouts in our local troops.

It may be worthwhile for The Times to provide more positive and appealing news.

Bob Levey

Encino

I am furious at the comment made by Steven Balash, the attorney for sex offender and former Scout leader Al Steven Stein, that his client should be an object of sympathy.

Further, I am astounded that anyone would consider sexual abuse of any nature as a one-time occurrence. The act of sexual abuse may last only minutes, but it is a lifetime sentence for the victim. People who suffer this abuse are never the same; their lives are negatively colored forever.

The criminals only have to serve time and then are freed. The victims are prisoners of this crime for the rest of their lives.

Barbara Schiffler

Encinitas

No security

Re "Social Security in peril," Column, Feb. 19

Michael Hiltzik's column on Social Security and the payroll tax holiday should be required reading for every elected official, candidate for public office and voter.

Some of us, believe it or not, were unaware of the long-term effects of the "holiday" on the health of the system. Putting money back into the pockets of those who need it most is a commendable goal, but clearly there are better ways to accomplish it without tampering with Social Security's revenue stream.

We need to think long and hard about the legacy we are leaving to our children and grandchildren.

Philip Gericke

Apple Valley, Calif.

Debtors' rights

Re "Credit, debt industries set for oversight," Business, Feb. 17

For too long many debt collectors have run amok, counting on consumers' ignorance of their own rights to freely engage in abusive and illegal behavior.

A few years back I was contacted by such an agency. The first thing it said could be summarized as, "Pay us now, or we'll take you to court." Another rotten tactic is to completely ignore and interrupt the debtors and have the chutzpah to complain at the debtors' anger.

I did some research and discovered what the creditors can and cannot do. Armed with my new-found knowledge and a recording device (properly notifying of my intent to record), it became a totally different experience. It was amazing how they followed the law when I was able to document their behavior.

Knowledge is power; use it.

Peter Isaacson

Whittier

A vote? Why?

Re "New Jersey's legislators approve gay marriage bill," Feb. 17

In the 1967 Loving vs. Virginia decision, which invalidated anti-miscegenation laws, the Supreme Court said that marriage was one of the "basic civil rights of man." New Jersey Republican Nancy Munoz is quoted as saying, "I trust the people of New Jersey, and I say they should be allowed to voice their opinion."

If Brown vs. Board of Education had been put to a vote, many states would have rejected it. When did it become common in the United States to vote on civil rights?

Jim Goodenough

Canoga Park

Church and state

Re "Santorum defends religion remarks," Feb. 20

WhenJohn F. Kennedywas running for president in 1960, he made it very clear to those who feared his Roman Catholicism that he believed the separation of church and state was absolute. He kept his word.

How things have changed. Now Republican candidate Rick Santorum uses his Roman Catholicism as a basis for his platform. The other Republican candidates also promise to break down the barrier between church and state.

They are not just asking voters to respect their religious views; they are trying to impose those views on the rest of us.

Julie May

Los Angeles

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