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Herman Cain's campaign crisis; public pension reform in California; Florida Sen. Marc Rubio's 'exile' story

November 03, 2011
  • Denying he sexually harassed anyone, Herman Cain said he was falsely accused in the 1990s while he was head of the National Restaurant Assn., and he branded revelation of the allegations a "witch hunt." (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
Denying he sexually harassed anyone, Herman Cain said he was falsely accused…

Questioning Cain

Re "Harassment allegations trip up Cain," Nov. 1, and "Cain tries to explain his side," Nov. 2

It is very possible that GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain truly believes he did not sexually harass any woman.

Men of a certain age have no idea what sexual harassment is; their definition involves touching, groping, sexual language and suggestive gestures. They do not understand that their subtle messages, such as the admiring looks and comments about female attire or hairstyles made in places of business, can cause women to feel threatened. Women who object are rebuffed with "the guy was only kidding" and admonishments to "lighten up."

Fortunately, many males, especially younger men, are getting the message.

Mary Ross

Cambria, Calif.

I'm not defending Cain, but what he's dealing with suggests that the ideal candidate of the future will have to be a robot.

He'll be presidential looking, conversant with all religions, living with an appropriate counterpart robot, two robot children and a robot dog, and have not a hint of a skeleton or even dust in his closet.

We demand that our leaders be flawless and beyond reproach, just as we are. Nothing less than perfection will do.

Hal Rothberg

Calabasas

Pension reform, by the numbers

Re "Brown needs pension effort," Column, Oct. 31

George Skelton supports Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to raise the retirement age and increase the individual pension account contributions by public employees, teachers included. As Skelton writes, Brown's goal is for Social Security to replace 75% of employees' salaries.

Here are the facts: To receive full pensions, a teacher must retire after he or she turns 60. The median age for retirement among California teachers is a little more than 61, nearly equal to the average for women who retire from the private sector. Teachers pay 8% of their pay toward retirement; school districts kick in 8.25%

But teachers have Social Security penalties. Their Social Security payments are reduced by a huge amount, and they usually lose spousal death benefits.

Teachers are the victims of a 1983 federal law that penalizes them for earning Social Security or being married to a Social Security earner.

Bill Lambert

Tarzana

The writer is a former director of government relations for United Teachers Los Angeles.

Reforming the state's public pension system is necessary if Brown wants to restore some fiscal stability. Besides the reasons Skelton gives, there's a third reason for Brown to push pension reform: to put a slab of well-done economic reality on the plates of the union bosses and the Democrats.

Brown's proposal is a step in the right direction, but it's not going to provide the financial relief we need for years. I read that, in 30 years, he estimates saving $4 billion to $11 billion, and $21 billion to $56 billion in 60 years.

It seems as if Brown is just throwing dice, hoping that it eventually lands on a lucky number.

Terrell Grant

Los Angeles

Making sense of an exile story

Re "Marco Rubio's story," Editorial, Oct. 30

There were Cuban exiles before Fidel Castro.

In the 1950s, there were many Cubans who opposed then-dictator Fulgencio Batista and who went into exile to save their lives from his political police — trade unionists, liberal democrats, socialists, communists, Trotskyites, anarchists, the whole wide range of the traditional Cuban left that was oppressed as much by Castro as Batista.

So in the truest sense of the term, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was the child of Cuban exiles, just not the anti-Castro kind so politically active in Florida.

The issue is not Rubio's status as the child of exiles so much as it is his politics and opportunism.

Kim Stevens

San Pedro

Your commentary on Rubio's account of his family's arrival in the United States is right on. It is a shame that Rubio felt a need to alter his family's saga to avoid rattling the Republican anti-Latino immigrant platform. Americans of European backgrounds never apologize for their humble beginnings.

My brother, my sisters and I are the proud children of brave Mexican immigrants. We've all done very well, and we wear our family history as a badge of honor, as should Rubio.

Alejandro Diaz

Los Angeles

'Little guy' wins

Re "B of A kills its plan for debit card fee," Nov. 2

The power of the consumer has been demonstrated through Bank of America canceling its plans to charge debit-card users a $5 monthly fee to access their money.

Bank of America made a huge miscalculation when it determined that it could use its enormous size to gouge the public. It could not have imagined that its action would be condemned by members of Congress and the president. Most of the time, the "little guy" kowtows to large financial institutions. Once in a while, the "little guy" triumphs.

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