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President Obama's speech; Gov. Jerry Brown's tenure so far; faith in today's world

April 15, 2011

Action, not speeches

Re "Obama lays out deficit reduction plan," April 14, and "Obama to set clear choice on the deficit," April 12

President Obama gave a great speech Wednesday. He truly spoke to my progressive heart. But can I trust him? He has made great speeches and promises in the past.

I worked to get him elected, voted for him and donated to his campaign. However, once he was elected, he did the opposite of what he promised in every realm that was important to me: civil liberties, single-payer healthcare, the wars, the economy and justice. I believe this lack of leadership is the reason Democrats lost the House in 2010.

Nice speech, but right now I feel like, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

Raquel Brac

Redlands

That Republicans don't like the president's call to increase the tax rate on the wealthiest Americans is no surprise. After all, it makes sense. One only requires a solar-powered calculator to understand that this country and its citizens have needs that should be funded by implementing a fair taxation rate.

This is not to be confused with the so-called fair tax proposed by the right-wingers. I speak of a truly fair taxation rate that is consistent with our history — one that is progressive and pays for the services our country demands.

Obama's tax increase proposal on the wealthiest Americans isn't class warfare; it is class fair.

Nick Kobliska

Oceano, Calif.

I heard sweeping promises to do good things, for lots of voters, paid for by taxes on the rich. But nothing specific. I read the speech and found nothing concrete. That's not a plan; it's a statement of hope.

Even if we believe Obama's rhetoric, his plan is well short of the problem. This year's deficit is

$1.65 trillion; the Congressional Budget Office estimates the 10-year deficit to be something around

$10 trillion.

Obama hopes to cut the deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years. This is an admission that under Obama, the government is unable or unwilling to live within its means.

Does anyone have a real plan for actually balancing the budget? Or are my grandchildren fated to pay for today's improvidence?

Arthur Armstrong

Manhattan Beach

The way I see it, we have two choices. Obama wants to shrink the deficit by raising taxes on wealthier Americans and requiring them to pay more into Social Security instead of just on the first $106,800 of income (which should have been done years ago).

The Republicans' plan would slash Medicare, Medicaid and other domestic programs such as education, environmental protection and anything that might help the poor or the middle class.

Let's see who has the most influence, the wealthy or the rest of us.

Mary J. Shepphird

Fountain Valley

The president's speech was about the morality of our country under his watch and how history will remember him, not politics or anything else. It may have been lacking in details, but Obama presented his moral vision for reform. It was a shot across the Republicans' bow for once.

Dennis Grossman

Woodland Hills

Faith in today's world

Re " 'Rebranding' a denomination," April 12

I grew up in a Conservative synagogue in Ottawa, Canada, where we were considered heretics by Orthodox Jews and dangerous by all Christians. Attending Sunday school plus Hebrew school three times a week after regular classes was mandatory.

Spending most of my time in detention, memorizing the days of the week and the months of the year, I didn't learn much about our faith except that if you don't marry a Jew, you're toast. There was no joy, no spirituality, only dread.

Consequently, like most of my contemporaries, I became a social Jew who doesn't attend services anywhere. Instead, we worship daily at Our Lady of Perpetual Guilt.

Molly-Ann Leikin

Beverly Hills

Rebranding, repackaging or coining a catchy slogan will not solve the underlying problem faced by Conservative Judaism and other religious denominations. Undermining religiosity is an educated "flock" that simply no longer has faith in the miraculous underpinnings attendant to religion. Even those who profess to believe in God shy away from the God of the Bible.

Every High Holiday, I sit in temple and listen as the powers of the almighty are reeled off while the congregation stares blankly or eyes their watches. Just once, I wish a rabbi would have the courage to halt the proceeding and ask for a show of hands as to how many people were actually buying into what was being proclaimed. My guess:

This never happens for

fear of what the response might be.

Gary Miller

Encino

Show trial

Re "Guantanamo's distressing legacy," Opinion, April 10

David K. Shipler envisions a civilian trial for Guantanamo detainees as a "pageant" for presenting our criminal justice system, the "crown jewel" of our democracy.

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