Re "Guitarist, land agency strike chord," April 29
It's painful enough to watch the beauty and biological richness of the Santa Monica Mountains degraded by developers trying to maximize profits. But for U2 guitarist the Edge to build his mansions on precious undeveloped coastal habitat and claim he is doing it in an environmentally friendly way is depressing. (Will the bulldozers have hybrid motors?)
Thanks, Edge, for making us all even more cynical. And do us all one favor before you begin the destruction: Promise not to write an inspiring song about it.
My dad played the guitar in a dance band during the Depression, and with five kids, life was a struggle. Nowadays, a guitar player like the Edge wants to get permits to build five mansions above Malibu.
Bob Dylan sang "The times they are a changing." You can say that again.
So, how do all the neighbors feel, now that they have discovered what it's like to be one of the insignificant "little people" who have money but not enough money to defeat this megalomaniac?
Afghanistan isn't easy
Re "Afghan crossroads," Opinion, April 27
If John R. Bolton possesses some wisdom on Afghanistan that the Soviets failed to grasp and our current president "neither fully understands nor supports," I wish he would share it with us. He decries a withdrawal of troops motivated by politics, when in fact a withdrawal is what most Americans support.
Bolton seems to be living in a fantasy world in which we can withdraw from Afghanistan only when the situation has markedly improved. If so, he is guilty of the naivete he so regularly accuses his opponents of.
By Bolton's own admission, we don't know what "the job" is in Afghanistan but we have to stay there as long as it takes to get it done.
That makes sense.
It's time to let a cost-benefit analysis guide our war actions. The U.S. has so far spent $455 billion to push Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan and into Pakistan. There have been really huge costs but very little gain.
America is deeply in debt, and Bolton wants to keep throwing money at the unending, undefined and therefore unwinnable war in Afghanistan. He should instead follow President Obama's good logic to try to limit our future losses and leave as soon as possible.
Bolton writes that Obama "is simply looking for a way out of a conflict he neither fully understands nor supports."
Bolton is probably right about Obama, but in spite of the title of his book, "Surrender Is Not an Option," Bolton gives us no indication that he understands why we are in Afghanistan. Moreover, he gives us no indication that anyone in the administration or in Congress understands why we are in this war.
Double standard on pensions
Re "Hospital head gets pension plus millions," April 28
My wife and I teach for the Los Angeles Unified School District. She's not entitled to full Social Security benefits, even though she contributed to the system for years before becoming a teacher. I can't draw on money from the California State Teachers' Retirement System, even though I was forced to contribute to it for years after I became a substitute teacher.
This is all because of some ridiculous law called the Windfall Elimination Provision, which forbids certain public employees -- hoi polloi such as we, but obviously not the lofty and privileged such as Sam Downing --from collecting two full pensions.
We too feel we "earned" those extra few hundred dollars a month that we could really use but apparently aren't already rich enough to collect.
Patrick M. Dempsey
Are we really supposed to be surprised to hear Downing say about the retirement money paid to him, "I think I've earned it"? When an executive responds, "I should not have received all that money -- it was excessive," that will actually be something new.
Re "Enough of 'birther' baloney," Editorial, April 28
Now that the "birther" issue has been put to bed, shouldn't we consider repealing the constitutional provision that only a native-born American can be president? That provision was enacted hundreds of years ago as a result of concerns that no longer exist.
The framers of the Constitution were undoubtedly wise men, but they could not foresee what today's society would look like or the important contributions made by numerous naturalized citizens. What we have left is an archaic, paternalistic, discriminatory law that has no rational basis.
Why shouldn't Americans be permitted to elect a naturalized citizen to be president? I am a naturalized citizen, but President Obama need not fear: Even if the provision is repealed, I have no intention of running against him.
Re "Ruling limits consumer class actions,"
Business April 28