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President Obama's speech pattern; California's Legislature fails to curb gifts to members; "free" education for all

May 31, 2011
  • The president: Some have noted Obama's stumbling performance as an off-the-cuff speaker. (Charles Dharapak / Associated Press)
The president: Some have noted Obama's stumbling performance as…

Presidential pauses

Re "Fast brain vs. slow mouth," Opinion, May 26

It is clear that President Obama's frequent "uhs" and stuttering have led to questions regarding his ability to communicate. Some say he has a speech impediment; Meghan Daum calls it an "intellectual stammer," in which his mind works too fast for his mouth.

Let us imagine: Obama is live on television speaking to a notoriously critical audience. The whole world, present and future, is observing, channeling their thoughts to the screen as the president speaks for the United States. The pressure can persistently nibble on the nerves of a person.

Nerves? Person? Oh yes! Obama is a person; he gets nervous, as would any other in his shoes. Obama does not have a brain impediment; he's not st-st-st-stupid. He's just got a bad case of nerves.

Vanessa Gonzalez


After eight years of the goofy, cringe-inducing rambling and stumbling of George W. Bush, I find the intelligent, thoughtful discourse (peppered with occasional off-the-cuff humor) of Obama to be a welcome relief.

Bonnie Ann Baker


Our gifted Legislature

Re "Legislature drops effort to curb gifts," May 27

It's difficult to understand how the enforcement of marijuana laws or illegal cellphone usage can be justified while preventing special interests from buying the Legislature is considered too expensive.

Has anyone calculated the cost of a government responsive not to the needs of the electorate but to the selfish interests of those who provide golf vacations and Disneyland tickets?

Errol Miller


I see once again that the wolves are in charge of guarding the hen house. To them, $204,000 a year is too high a price to curb the influence of lobbyists in Sacramento. How many millions or billions of dollars does the influence of lobbyists cost taxpayers?

Jim Bean

Los Angeles

Big bucks at Blue Shield

Re "Blue Shield CEO earns $4.6 million," Business, May 26

I've been a Blue Shield customer for more than 20 years. I now pay an annual premium of nearly $10,000, up $1,000 from last year and about double what I paid just a few years ago.

My deductible is $2,500 annually. Factoring in other non-covered medical costs, I'm spending about $20,000 a year before Blue Shield starts paying, and I'm healthy. It would be twice as much had my wife not just become eligible for Medicare.

Blue Shield Chief Executive Bruce Bodaken's $4.6-million salary seems justified. How else would he be able to pay the medical expenses for him and his family?

Bruce R. Feldman

Santa Monica

At a time when so many people cannot afford even basic health insurance, this borders on criminal. And to remind us that Blue Shield is California's largest "nonprofit" health insurer adds insult to injury. Certainly Bodaken is raking in astronomical money from his work.

It was just three months ago that Blue Shield was seeking to raise its rates as much as 59%, but it eventually backed down due to public and political pressure. The company says Bodaken's salary is based on his performance. If he can perform brilliantly enough to earn his salary, he should be able to figure out how to offer his customers affordable policies.

Peggy Jo Abraham

Santa Monica

Perhaps the Second Coming is at hand after all, and this time Christ will drive the CEOs out of the temple. That would indeed be cause for rapture.

Paul Cooley

Culver City

The price of a free education

Re "In education, free means free," Editorial, May 25

In a perfect world, a free education would indeed be free. But because taxpayers refuse to support the full costs, public schools do not receive the funding for all the programs necessary to provide a well-rounded, high-quality education.

So now schools are forced to cut programs that serve those same low-income students you, the ACLU and Assemblyman Ricardo Lara claim to be protecting. Responsible schools always provided safety nets for students who couldn't afford to pay the fees. Now those same students will not be able to afford to participate when exclusive, expensive clubs will provide the only access to those activities.

As long as the state refuses to provide the necessary funding, this effort to hamstring public schools' ability to provide as many opportunities to as many people as possible is misguided, and it is bound to fail our students.

Williams Meier


Having taught in California for more than a decade and in another state for almost that amount of time, I have seen many students fail a two-semester course only to take it in the summer when the class is shorter and presumably less comprehensive.

Many teachers I know see summer school as a sham. Why are taxpayers on the hook for a student who chooses to fail? Free means free once, not twice.

Students who need to retake courses should do so on their own dime. I grew up in Pennsylvania, and this was the case. Very few students failed a course because if they had, their parents would've been furious.

Sharon Curcio

Canyon Lake

On Medicare

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