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Doing away with the filibuster; should Michael Vick be allowed to own a dog; Doyle McManus on the upward mobility gap in America

January 08, 2011

Filibuster — who needs it?

Re "Choke the filibuster," Opinion, Jan. 2

If there is one New Year's resolution that the Senate should seek to accomplish, it's the dramatic scaling down of the anti-democratic filibuster.

Let's face it, the Senate is the place where good legislation goes to die and the will of the electorate is ignored.

I can't think of an example in which the filibuster was used (or threatened to be used) where the best interests of the American people was the guiding principle. Everything good and decent for this nation — civil rights, expanded healthcare for Americans, the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" and the New START treaty with Russia, for example — all faced at least filibuster threats until cloture was achieved.

In 2011, let's hope the Senate goes from dysfunctional to a viable legislative institution. That's certainly what the Founding Fathers envisaged.

Bob Teigan

Santa Susana

Michael Vick's dog days

Re "Why Vick needs a dog," Column, Jan. 4

Sandy Banks omits a key element of the evidence against NFL quarterback Michael Vick that appears in court records and in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's last report on the case.

She speculates that the fighting dogs might have seemed unreal to Vick, like avatars, while his view of the animals kept indoors was different. In fact, that is exactly what Vick's lawyers told me, and it is also what Vick himself said when he visited our offices before his sentencing.

However, the aforementioned reports reveal that Vick had personally taken his "family dogs," thrown them to the dogs in the fighting pit and laughed as they were torn to bits. That key piece of information cannot be ignored.

Ingrid E. Newkirk

Los Angeles

The writer is president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

If Vick and his daughters adopted a pit bull puppy, raised it, nurtured it, played with it and cohabited with it, it is possible that it could change his way of thinking about animals.

My family and I spent three days in Kanab, Utah, last spring. We volunteered at the Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary, where we saw some of Vick's dogs. A Virginia judge had wanted them euthanized.

Best Friends will accept and care for any animal, and Vick's dogs (though they will never be adopted) are surviving.

I guess if Best Friends gives all animals a second chance, I can give Vick one chance to learn to love the sweetness of a dog.

Kathy Hicker

Los Angeles

Banks says that Vick should not only be allowed but ordered to get a dog when his probation is up. She must be out of her mind.

He had a dog — not only one dog but a lot of dogs — and did that help make him a better person? He threw family pets into the ring with those poor dogs of his to be torn apart, so his pathetic excuse that he did not see them as pets is useless.

Some people are beyond redemption. Vick is embarrassed that he is not allowed to have a dog; he should have thought of that before he applauded as his dogs tore each other apart.

Jo Ventresca

Toluca Lake

Animal lovers and shelters

Re "An ailing dog's message: A shelter needs to be rescued," Column, Jan. 3

Hector Tobar's column was both heartening and heartbreaking: heartening because Tobar and his family care for and love animals, and heartbreaking because homeless animals are made to live in conditions that actually make them sick.

The photo of the orange tabby accompanying the article looks like a twin of the ginger cat I adopted from an animal shelter. After being at the shelter for only a few days, Toby contracted an upper respiratory illness, much like Tobar's dog.

Knowing that so many animals are desperate for homes, it baffles me why anyone would buy an animal from a breeder.

I urge anyone who is considering getting a pet to go to his or her local shelter first. You have the chance, by rescuing an animal, to tangibly make the world a better place.

Kate James

Novato

I would like to thank Tobar for his reporting. It always breaks my heart when I read about shelters in need of funds to help our animal friends.

I hope the article sparked support. I sent in a contribution, even if small, in the hope that many little ones will do some good.

Klaus von Hagen

Morgan Hill, Calif.

It's not all about college

Re "The upward mobility gap," Opinion, Jan. 2

Doyle McManus grossly overstates the benefit of college by implying that an individual's economic achievements are due to the fact that they graduated from a university.

College-bound students are already more industrious, motivated and intelligent before college admittance than non-college attendees.

Even without college, they would grossly outperform high school counterparts who lack the drive and ability for further educational advancement.

Attributing the income difference, divorce rates and unemployment disparities to college graduation perpetuates the myth that everyone should go to college at whatever cost.

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