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Common Sense

January 27, 2013
Re "Sculpture gets a reprieve," Jan. 24 Where is the common sense of the Santa Monica City Council when it comes to donated public art? The iconic "Chain Reaction" by the late Times cartoonist Paul Conrad hasn't cost the city of Santa Monica a single dime, yet it won't invest the minimal amount of maintenance necessary for such an outdoor sculpture. Could you imagine if the federal government took the same position as Santa Monica when it comes to outdoor monuments such as the Statue of Liberty or the Washington Monument?
January 26, 2013
Re "Gunning for good sense," Opinion, Jan. 22 In ancient Greece, philosophers who misused logic and rhetoric to propose indefensible arguments were called sophists. Today, sophistry is the weapon anti-gun-control pundits use because they have no real arguments. Jonah Goldberg writes that 40 years ago a government drug regulator denied approval to all drugs, thus keeping helpful medications off the market along with harmful ones. Therefore, Goldberg goes on, we shouldn't act to reduce gun violence because such action would cause harm to the vast majority of people who are nonviolent.
January 19, 2013
Re "DMV report adds to license debate," Jan. 16 Findings by the DMV make the case that allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses will be good for everyone. Really, did this need to be researched? Doesn't common sense say public safety would benefit by testing and licensing undocumented immigrants before they drive? Salvador Sanchez Silver Lake ALSO: Letters: 'Cops count,' especially in L.A. Letters: Gov. Brown's vision for UC and CSU Mailbag: Pigs, apes and humans -- we're not so different
January 17, 2013 | David Lazarus
Saturday is Gun Appreciation Day, an occasion to feel good about a consumer product that is guaranteed to play a role in the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans this year. That's not hyperbole. Roughly 30,000 people have been killed annually by guns in this country since 1979, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2010, the latest year for which statistics are available, the body count was 31,672. That places guns in unique company as a legal, over-the-counter product that, in the hands of some users, will kill people.
January 12, 2013 | By Michael Muskal
A month after a gunman invaded Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 children and six adults, a group of local residents are calling for efforts to make communities safer from gun violence. A news conference is scheduled for Monday, the one-month anniversary of the shootings at the Connecticut school, a tragedy that has reignited the national debate on gun control. A task force led by Vice President Joe Biden has been meeting this week with advocates on all sides of the thorny gun control issue and he has said he is hoping to have recommendations by next week.
January 6, 2013
An audit of the L.A. County assessor's office delivers mostly common-sense recommendations to address the bribery controversy. The recommendations of a new audit of the Los Angeles County assessor's office are a responsible, if somewhat depressing, reaction to the controversy that has embroiled that department for months. Its top official, John Noguez, has been arrested and charged with accepting bribes from a tax consultant who was seeking reduced assessments for his client's properties, a charge that, as the audit notes, creates the impression that "the property tax system in Los Angeles County is being gamed by politically connected taxpayers.
November 22, 2012
Re "Something to be thankful for," Nov. 20 With the holidays here, I am reminded of the way we once celebrated them. Stores were actually closed, and there wasn't a Black Friday, nor were there endless lines of people who had waited for days to buy things. People actually slowed down and took a day off to do nothing. We were not attached to any devices that now have become indispensable. I truly am grateful this holiday season for the memory of a time when the world stopped and took a real day off from all the madness and stress.
October 24, 2012
Proposition 34, the measure to replace the death penalty in California with a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, appears to be struggling. Last month, a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll found the initiative trailing 38% to 51%, although other surveys, such as a Field Poll released in September, showed a closer margin of 42% in favor and 45% against. But there may be enough undecided voters in California to sway the outcome in either direction. If they can replace visceral notions of revenge with a thoughtful examination of the morality, cost and effectiveness of capital punishment, they will put this long-delayed and badly needed policy change in place.
October 16, 2012 | By Michael Kinsley
This political campaign has been a frustrating blizzard of numbers and studies. One side says $344 billion over 21 years, then the other side calls that a desperate lie and says the real number is up to $1 trillion over the next decade. The first side then attempts to validate its number by saying it comes from a recent report by the authoritative Center for Boring Statistics, and the second side says that, by contrast, its numbers are based on numbers in the nonpartisan volume "Vicious Figures for Dummies, 3rd Edition" (1958)
October 16, 2012 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
When Barack Obama and Mitt Romney hit the stage Tuesday night at Hofstra University on Long Island for the second of three presidential debates, they'll be responding to questions submitted by a town hall-style audience, who will determine the content of the conversation. It's a controlled chaos, but a chaos nonetheless, one that gets to the heart of American democracy. And yet, suggests Richard Beeman, former chairman of the history department of the University of Pennsylvania, our democracy faces a growing paradox: that, while “there is an abundance of evidence establishing that the vast majority of Americans, whatever their political differences, have an intense love of country … there is an equally large body of evidence suggesting that Americans' knowledge of their history and of the way in which their institutions have worked over the course of that history is embarrassingly meager.” Beeman's statement comes in the introduction to a new series, Penguin's “Civic Classics”: six small paperbacks that seeks to gather our most essential documents, among them as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and a collection of Supreme Court cases, spanning two centuries.
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