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The war in Afghanistan; California's budget crisis; trouble at NPR

March 22, 2011

A war and its general

Re "U.S. on course for Afghan handoff, Congress is told," March 16

How come we are asking Army Gen. David H. Petraeus how it's going in Afghanistan when his forces have little to show for 10 years of battle?

Did we not learn anything from the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan? We helped the insurgents who are now trying to kill our troops for being in their country.

I guess we will never learn that lesson as long as the Army is judging its own rate of progress.

Kim Cargill

North Hollywood

Re "Our longest war," Opinion, March 17

Doyle McManus is to be praised for pointing out that Americans are against the Afghanistan war by a nearly 2-1 majority and yet the political class supports it. How can this be?

Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, upset with the anti-Vietnam War movement, ended the military draft. What it showed was that presidents want to have their wars without popular interference. They were successful; our leaders have shown no interest in public opinion since.

The fact that we have been involved in more wars than any other nation since the end of the draft tells us that American presidents must have their wars or they will not get a page in the history textbooks. This is one area where Democratic and Republican leaders are united.

Kenneth Barkin

Pasadena

These cuts are the deepest

Re "Billions in cuts to services OKd," March 17

How callous are we? We cut programs for countless poor, elderly and frail people, as well as for education, which is our future.

How coldhearted and insensitive have we become to cut taxes for the wealthy? Where is our social conscience? Do we still think everyone can pull themselves up by their shoestrings? Some don't even have shoes.

We are not created equal. Some do not have the capacity to excel to the point of self-sufficiency. Our representatives in Sacramento and Washington do not represent the ones without means; they represent the ones who pay for their status, and they dance, like marionettes, on their strings.

Peter Weisbrod

Laguna Beach

Legislators who voted to cut away the safety net for the most vulnerable in our society display heartless disregard for those people's health and well-being. They clearly know that those affected lack the political clout, organization and power to fund a campaign to unseat those responsible for their plight. For shame.

Lenore Navarro Dowling

Los Angeles

Re "Far right thwarts democracy," Column, March 17

At last, some courage in Sacramento. My hat is off to the two Republican lawmakers, Bill Emmerson and Tom Berryhill, and their three unnamed colleagues for their ability to understand that the budget crisis is so serious that they need to work with others trying to stave off disaster for the state, even if it means the end of their political careers.

Oh, to see more of this courage in politics.

Jeanne Whitesell

Huntington

Gov. Jerry Brown says: "Republican activists who threaten GOP legislators are subversives. They're subverting American democracy."

It takes one to know one. If Brown could exercise the art of negotiation instead of refusing to compromise benefits and pay for state employees, he wouldn't have to resort to inciting mainstream Democrats to support his political base at any cost.

Californians indeed voted for Democratic domination in Sacramento, but they also put in a Republican minority that is expected to represent their voters and their party.

So Brown will follow the White House administration policy of making law instead of bipartisan legislation? Why not call for a measure to abolish the Republican Party while he's at it?

Anne E. James

Whittier

Understating the danger

Re "Talk about a meltdown," Opinion, March 15

Jonah Goldberg's benign appraisal of the radiation hazard at the Fukushima nuclear plant has of course been rendered inoperative by events. It was, however, already flawed at the outset because one cannot express the source strength of radioactive material at the plant in terms of a measure of exposure. The two are incommensurate.

Even talking about transient exposure to a passing cloud of radioactive material is to a certain extent a misdirection, because what matters most is what is ingested or inhaled and thus becomes part of you.

Siegfried Othmer

Woodland Hills

Goldberg should apologize to the families of the brave Japanese men who are risking their lives in the attempt to avert a greater nuclear tragedy. The catastrophe was not "equivalent to the exposure of a single dental X-ray," as Goldberg writes so smugly.

The men being rotated in and out of that facility receive a year's worth of radiation exposure in an hour. Some of these men are going to die as a result. They know the risk, and they go anyway.

Shame on you, Mr. Goldberg.

Kim Iannone

West Hills

Broadcasting dollars and cents

Re "NPR needs a backbone," Opinion, March 17

While NPR costs each American just pennies a year, Fox News costs tens of millions of households about $1 a month, which is what the network charges cable companies per subscriber for its programming.

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