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The Martin Luther King Jr. memorial; America's battle over "green" energy; the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case

August 28, 2011
  • People look through the fence surrounding the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington on Aug. 21. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
People look through the fence surrounding the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.…

Leadership gap

Re "The newest face on the National Mall," Aug. 22

Building too many memorials on the National Mall in Washington doesn't concern me. I am far more apprehensive about the paucity of current leaders who deserve to be so honored.

Find a person who will withdraw all of our troops from our disastrous overseas engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, restore the importance of factual data and reasoned analysis to the political decision-making process, advocate effectively for social and economic justice, challenge unchecked greed and amplify the ability of those with differing points of view to engage in productive dialogue, and he or she will deserve a memorial of massive proportions.

Ronald P. Wolff


Red light on 'green' energy

Re "America's 'green' quagmire," Opinion, Aug. 23

If Jonah Goldberg wants to know why green energy has not advanced further, he need look no further than the mirror.

Conservatives have dug in their heels for years, preventing a comprehensive push for sustainable energy. There are still big profits to be made from leveling mountaintops for coal and destroying huge areas for the natural gas.

For the sake of Goldberg's 8-year-old daughter and my 8-year-old grandson, couldn't we at least remove the tax and policy supports for fossil fuels and see whether efficiency and innovation can compete and provide a more sustainable future?

Grace Bertalot


Goldberg apparently believes that the answer to global warming is to do nothing — or, more accurately, let the invisible hand of the market take care of it, which amounts to the same thing. In fact, the market is busily digging the carbon hole deeper.

He suggests that ever since Jimmy Carter, government has been pushing the green agenda. If only that were true. Carter's farsighted policies died with his presidency. After 12 years of Republican leadership, the Clinton-Gore administration made promising noises that were quickly dashed by the politics Goldberg represents.

So here we are, with all the politicians still scared of their (dirty-energy lobbyist) shadows. Don't buy any beachfront property for your retirement home, Mr. Goldberg.

Curtis Horton


Government workers' lament

Re "Lax land oversight cost state millions," Aug. 24

The article concerning the loss of revenue to the state from uncollected rent continues the negative image cast on state and local government, admittedly some of it deserved. However, the article could have been titled, "With one-quarter the staff, state agency still collects $400 million in lease payments."

I work for local government; in my experience, the vast majority of employees work hard, trying to do the public's work with fewer and fewer resources. This should be applauded, not cast in the most negative light possible.

Steve McGrath

San Luis Obispo

Dow Chemical Co. avoided paying rent for 17 years on state property it leased. Southern California Gas Co. paid nothing for five years on a desert pipeline. The State Lands Commission didn't collect back rent that accumulated over 22 years from a resort. Auditors discovered more than $8 million in lost revenue.

It's no wonder California is in such a financial mess. We can't hire people for jobs because we're not collecting the money that would pay for them.

How's that for a nice, circular mess?

Phillip Hain


The touching tale of a maid

Re "A cycle of class and privilege," Opinion, Aug. 21

Judy Belk shares her personal history, expanding my appreciation for the historically-charged topics of race and segregation in American lives.

Meanwhile, audiences flock to a "quaint" film that, though probably well intentioned, glamorizes the "segregation nostalgia of the 1960s." The ugly legacy of slavery and segregation, while relieved by humor, is better served by more enlightened examination, as exemplified by Belk's article.

Not having seen "The Help" (nor am I planning to), I can't help but wonder: Do the uniformed maids in the movie wear wigs for the camera, just like Belk's grandmother adopted both wig and persona to face her white employers?

Nostalgia perches awkwardly beside the weight of historical reality.

Luan Gaines

Dana Point

Belk's story reminds me of my mom when she and my dad moved to a big, impressive home. The little brick bungalow was her first house, and she had grown as a woman inside it. She hated to leave, yet moving out meant opportunity to build on her memories.

I related to the hand-me-downs, although they came from siblings and cousins who gave me a peek into some of their secrets, and by their sharing I was able to aspire.

I can't help but think: Isn't it wonderful that we live in America, where equal opportunity makes this moving up possible; that we can better ourselves and know the intimacy of sharing in the way others live?

Someone else might look at this differently, but I see it as a road less traveled that made me a better and stronger person.

Jacque Heebner


Beck and those backing Israel

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