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Bill Clinton comes to the aid of Barack Obama; high-speed rail funds for California; and the estate tax

December 15, 2010

Who's in charge?

Re "Obama enlists help in tax-cut battle," Dec. 11

Not too long ago, he was touted as an intellectual eminence, the measured, cosmopolitan orator, the man of audacity who would change the way business was done in Washington. Barack Obama was the messianic vanquisher of the Clinton machine.

Now, President Obama has had to enlist Bill Clinton to stave off a massive revolt from the "backbenchers" in Congress. And Clinton obliged. He moved to the

White House podium and held court there with the natural and commanding ease of a prince returning to his palace.

Any way one may put it, Obama was eclipsed by the presence of Big Bill. Indeed, Obama has been an

ever-receding presence for quite some time, a diminished, ineffectual president ever willing to cave in without putting up much of a fight. What a disappointment this must be to many of his admirers, and what a disaster it is for the country.

Marco-Antonio Loera

Inglewood

A high-speed ride somewhere

Re "Their loss, California's gain," Editorial, Dec. 11

A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you are talking real money. The true costs to California's taxpayers for high-speed rail are likely to be much higher for construction and operating subsidies than currently stated.

No major passenger rail system pays its own operating expenses from fares, not to mention the construction costs. So who will? What percentage of the people will use the system? What will the cost of security be? And wait until the environmentalists realize what the Great Wall of California will do to wildlife.

Maybe the cheeseheads in Wisconsin have done a long-term cost/benefit analysis and have realized that "free" money now will cost their state way too much in the future.

Murry I. Rozansky

Chatsworth

Having recently returned from Spain, and having spent several weeks in Japan last year, I have had the opportunity to make extensive use of their high-speed train systems. It is wonderful to be able to leave from the center of a city and arrive in the center of another city in comfort and in a couple of hours.

Think of the benefits to our economy and environment if a business or vacation traveler could board a train at Union Station and arrive in San Francisco in two or three hours without endless airport security lines and a long car trip to and from an airport.

So let Luddite Republican governors reject high-speed rail and the can-do spirit that built this country. We Californians will gladly take their share of the federal infrastructure money.

Their constituents, on the other hand, should be outraged.

Alfred Sils

Woodland Hills

Plants for a better tomorrow

Re "Patt Morrison Asks: Cassy Aoyagi," Opinion, Dec. 11

It is nice to learn that golf courses are chemical waste dumps and that there are people out there trying to educate us about native ground covers.

There is a community along the coast north of San Francisco called Sea Ranch, where all ground cover is native. No lawns and very little planting are allowed in Sea Ranch. It is beautiful.

In contrast, in Mammoth Lakes much of the natural ground cover has been replaced with lawns. It must be the work of people who have no appreciation for nature, its beauty and the wonderful native ground cover the Sierra provides us free of charge.

Ergun Kunter

Irvine

We removed our lawn almost three years ago and replaced it with flowering trees, bushes and ground covers. We can verify the substantial water savings claimed by Cassy Aoyagi.

On an annual basis, we now use less than 20% of the amount we used with a lawn watered three times a week. We no longer need workers to mow and blow. These days the city will also pay homeowners to remove lawns.

Best of all, we now have a plethora of hummingbirds, lizards and many other creatures, along with neighbors who enjoy the results.

Olof and Helene Hult

Los Angeles

Women who're acting their age

Re "A new era for older actresses," Dec. 12

Sunday morning, I removed the brown paper bag from my head just long enough to read about the startling relevancy of women over 40 in Hollywood.

As a woman who recently "celebrated" her 41st birthday, I heaved my withering bosom in a labored sigh of relief. It's wonderful to know that my middle-aged sisters and I are no longer relegated to the sunny pasture of life to thoughtfully chew our cud in our sunset years.

Why, with only a modicum of facial slicing and dicing, we can even be considered sexually appealing. How about that!

Angel LaCanfora

Huntington Beach

Though I certainly agree that opportunities are better for older actresses than in years past, most of the actresses given as examples in your article are only in their 40s.

Inasmuch as Bette Davis was cited as someone who would "be shocked to see what middle-aged actresses are doing in 2010," in fact she was doing the same as they were, starring in films until "The Catered Affair" when she was 48 before her "comeback" in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" at 54.

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