For the strikers: Demonstrators in downtown Los Angeles show support for…
Locked up, badly
Re "The hidden hunger strike," Editorial, July 20
Thank you for your continued coverage of the hunger strike by California prisoners.
California's prisons are perpetuating a system in which violence breeds more violence, thereby making our society less rather than more safe. No one has to condone the crimes that led these men to prison to be appalled at conditions of confinement that are tantamount to torture.
As taxpayers and voters, these abuses are being committed in our name, and we should stop them.
Fixing what is broken
Re "Oval Office ideologue," Opinion, July 19
Be reasonable, Jonah Goldberg. Keeping our children's education and deficit-reducing healthcare reform off the table in the debt talks is in no way comparable to congressional Republicans wiping out any possibility of raising revenue to help reduce the deficit.
It's unfair to paint President Obama as no better than any of the Republicans in Congress when he is trying to save our economy from default. He has compromised on trillions of dollars in other entitlements, an unpopular move that certainly won't increase his chances of getting reelected.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) openly declared that his party's top priority is making Obama a one-term president. Now who here is the pragmatist, and who here cares more about the 2012 election?
Goldberg writes: "Americans wouldn't mind soaking 'the rich,' 'big oil' and 'corporate jet owners.' " Soaking? Really?
When poor or middle-class American families receive assistance, conservatives say it's an "entitlement," but when corporations have their effective tax rates decreased or don't pay any taxes at all, that is a business "incentive." So is that why our largest corporations, in the face of the lowest effective tax rates in decades, have reduced jobs, not created them, over the last decade?
I suppose it is good that Goldberg, like the Republicans in Congress, has suddenly discovered balanced-budget religion, because he and they didn't seem to care when George W. Bush was living in "public housing."
Bike safety is everyone's job
Re "It's a crime to harass L.A. cyclists," July 21
There are so many reasons to applaud this law. But it's not enough to keep our bicyclists safe.
Every time I go out on the road, I worry about people who bike without helmets in a car culture where so many drivers are aggressive, arrogant or simply not paying attention. Most of the bicyclists I pass — especially teenagers and young adults — are not wearing helmets.
Riding a bicycle without a helmet is reckless and dangerous. Next, can we turn our attention to that? How about a campaign encouraging helmet use?
As a cyclist for more than 80 years, I want to establish my credibility: I have been an amateur road racer, done the commuter-by-bike bit and taken many overseas bicycle tours.
To those cyclists who claim they are "treated like second-class citizens," I suggest they stop acting like second-class citizens and obey the rules of the road.
I admit to many of the "offenses" cyclists are often accused of, but I do so out of self-preservation. Drivers don't like bicycle riders slowing them down. So if I keep my speed up as I approach a stop sign, I spend the absolute minimum of time getting in the way of the drivers.
Jumping lights may also appear to be reckless, but I gauge my chances for a safe "jump" very carefully. After all, it's not the driver who is going to come out on the short end of the stick in a collision.
But the closest calls I have ever had have involved motorists using their cellphones blowing through a red light.
So the next time you see me go through a stop sign without slowing down, you can figure I'm not slowing your two tons of motorized iron either.
Cleaning up dirty coal
Re "Carbon dioxide's escape hatch," Editorial, July 20
Kudos to The Times for highlighting this failed "carbon capture and sequestration" experiment This issue is highly relevant to customers of the L.A. Department of Water and Power, which gets 39% of its electricity from two coal-fired power plants in Arizona and Utah.
To feed the Utah plant and cool our homes, the federal government is planning to approve the mammoth Alton strip mine next to Bryce Canyon National Park. What a tragedy it is that, when we have so many renewable energy options available, we choose instead to invest in a 19th century technology that turns pristine wilderness into wasteland and pollutes our air.
The true cost of coal is far greater than what our energy bills reflect.