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The return of "Baby Doc" to Haiti; renewed debate on gun control; Gov. Brown's plan to eliminate community redevelopment agencies

January 19, 2011

Once a dictator …

Re " 'Baby Doc' returns to tense Haiti," Jan. 17

It has been speculated that former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier returned to Haiti after a 25-year forced exile because loyalists want him to be the leader of Haiti once again, this time in a democratic capacity.

But how can a ruthless dictator who for 15 years engineered a reign of terror in Haiti (much like his father before him)

ever be expected to rule democratically? It just isn't in his blood or his nature. Would anyone ever have thought Stalin or Hitler could have ruled democratically?

You can't change a tiger's stripes, and you certainly can't change a ruler's political philosophy.

Kenneth L. Zimmerman

Huntington Beach

Duvalier says that he's come back to Haiti to help. Maybe he can start by dismantling his father's Tonton Macoutes and returning the millions upon millions of dollars that he and ex-wife Michelle pilfered during his unelected presidency.

If Wyclef Jean doesn't meet the residency requirement to run for president, how can Duvalier qualify, except by force? And we can be sure he would rule with an iron hand again.

Carol Tensen

Burbank

The right to bear muskets

Re "Gun debate is unlikely to gain traction," Jan. 14

Many of those fervently espousing their "right to bear arms" are also strict constructionists. They believe that we should go back to when our Constitution was adopted and interpret it literally.

At that time, "arms" meant muzzle-loading muskets. I agree. We should allow all National Rifle Assn. members and those asserting their 2nd Amendment right the right to carry muskets. With their powder horns and ramrods, they should be able to get a shot off every minute or so.

William McCall

Arcadia

For the democracy buffs among us, here are the directions to Congress on Your Corner: Turn right at the gun store, pass the Wal-Mart and proceed to the Safeway to say your piece. Not that it will do any good, at least if you favor fundamental societal problem-solving in America.

Our elected officials' inability to maintain even a prohibition on extended ammunition cartridges, let alone assault weapons, or to end the idiotic gun-show loophole is seen also in our country's inability to control the catastrophic behavior of Wall Street or to address catastrophic climate change in this, the most carbon-intensive nation of the world (on a per-capita basis), no matter how obvious the climate emergency becomes.

Over the past three decades, America has become American't, thanks preponderantly to (excuse my partisanship) the ideologically hidebound Republican'ts.

Gregory Wright

Sherman Oaks

It would be laughable if it weren't so pathetic: Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) wants to prohibit the carrying of guns within 1,000 feet of a federal official.

Hey, Rep. King, what about the rest of us? How did we get to this situation in which members of Congress can get healthcare and possibly gun control that for the rest of us are considered "big government"?

Roberta Schiller

Los Angeles

Schwarzenegger's bad finale

Re "Nuñez clemency a departure for Schwarzenegger," Jan. 16

If anything, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should have recused himself from acting on a commutation of the sentence for Esteban Nuñez due to his (Schwarzenegger's) political connection to Fabian Nuñez, Esteban's father and the former Assembly speaker.

As Clint Eastwood's character said in the film "Unforgiven," "It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have."

I don't think 16 years is too much to ask for Esteban Nuñez's role in the killing of one youth and the stabbing of two others.

Steven Siry

Los Angeles

Previously we were introduced to institutions too big to fail; now we meet sons of the politically connected who are too big to jail.

Walter Carlin

Del Mar

Good riddance to poor policy

Re "Knives are out over Brown proposal," Jan. 15

Gov. Jerry Brown's idea to scrap community redevelopment agencies is long overdue.

These agencies, a "backdoor" way to get around restrictions placed by Proposition 13, have milked money from city general funds and school districts for far too long, with local politicos handing fat construction contracts to the politically connected simply by declaring whatever area they chose to be designated as "blighted."

Billions of dollars have been wasted on agencies' "Taj Mahal" projects with little overall merit, usually ones that only appeal to a chosen few in local political bosses' inner circles.

Way to go, governor. Tough times demand tough action.

Robert V. Scarborough

Lancaster

Why would you use the expression "knives" in an article on budget cuts at a time when we're trying to tone down the violent rhetoric?

Please, explain it to us.

Eileen Gelon

Beverly Hills

Trigger happy?

Re "LAPD defends lethal force," Jan. 16

The man recently shot by a Los Angeles Police Department officer was naked and unarmed.

It is the police chief who now stands naked in front of the people of Los Angeles having to explain his policy.

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