Letters to the editor

Democrats' fear shields Cheney

Re "Impeachment gets a brief look," Nov. 7

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) sponsored a bill to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. If ever a bill needed to be passed, this was it. Democrats betrayed Kucinich and Americans by not allowing it to proceed to a floor vote. No wonder the public is disenchanted with the Democrats in Congress. I am a lifelong Democrat who could never vote for a Republican. But I will withhold my vote for any Democrat who was a part of this. This 81-year-old veteran of World War II will vote for Kucinich in the primary election in this state.

Charles Wilkes

San Jose

The Times' article about Kucinich's effort to impeach our imperial vice president says that bringing up the issue in Congress would force the Democrats to choose between their liberal base and a broader electorate, which might view the resolution as a partisan game in a time of war. Leaving aside the fact that The Times fails to distinguish between war and colonial occupation, a recent poll by the American Research Group found that 54% of American adults want impeachment proceedings against Cheney.

Impeaching, convicting and removing Cheney from office would not only be the right thing to do, it would be popular. Sadly, the Democrats lack the courage to do this, but what else is new?

Jon Krampner

Los Angeles

After reading that congressional Democrats are afraid of a "bruising floor fight" over the Cheney impeachment bill, I wonder if there is anything they do not fear? Here is a man whose approval rating is even lower than their own (until now, anyway), a man whose depredations Kucinich barely touched on and at whom these same Democrats have been railing for six years, and still they are afraid.

Assuming, for the moment, that Cheney has violated his constitutional oath as charged, the leaders of the House become joint malefactors with him in not honoring their own oaths to protect and defend the Constitution by investigating the charges.

Robert Silver

Los Angeles

Water usage

Re "The Valley rates," editorial, Nov. 2

Regarding your claim that water allotments shouldn't be higher in the San Fernando Valley than elsewhere in the city: All things being equal, plants grown in the Valley do require more water than the same plants grown in the metropolitan region because of climate differences. The California Department of Water Resources' website has a map of reference evapotranspiration zones, which is a general guide for determining the amount of water a plant might need at various locations. I'm no agronomist, but I guess this means that whatever plant I choose to grow will require significantly more water in the warmest climate of L.A. than the coolest.

David Olmstead


Constant war

President Bush last week chastised Congress for "behaving as if America is not at war." I keep forgetting, with whom exactly are we at war -- Iraq? Iran? Afghanistan? North Korea? Al Qaeda? Hamas? Terror? Drugs? Poverty? Inflation? Islam? Someone or something else? I would appreciate it if someone could clear this up for me.

Matthew Wilczynski


Points of view on Pakistan

Re "Arrests mount in Pakistan turmoil," Nov. 6

I was glad to hear President Bush ask Gen. Pervez Musharraf to bring democracy to Pakistan by holding elections. That is not enough. By his unconstitutional act, Musharraf has removed the country's Supreme Court as the guardian of the people's rights. His bogus election as president would have been correctly nullified, as he is not allowed by the constitution to run while in charge of the army.

The United States needs to ask Musharraf to return the country to where it was on Nov. 2. How can you have free and fair elections when all who participate as candidates, workers or reporters are arrested just for the sin of being players in the political process?

Pakistan needs an independent election commission, such as those in India and Bangladesh, and a neutral caretaker government. Then we have to believe in the will of the people.

Ekbal Qidwai

Newbury Park

With Pakistani lawyers taking to the streets to oppose Musharraf's suspension of civil liberties, it would certainly seem that Musharraf has taken note and is putting into action what Shakespeare wrote, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

It is often forgotten that lawyers, both here and in countries such as Pakistan, are the first line of defense against a government's abuse of power.

Greg W. Garrotto

Los Angeles

The writer is an attorney.

Re "Musharraf does what dictators do," Opinion, Nov. 6

Sanctimonious liberals crying about Musharraf's power grab are the same arrogant hypocrites who praise maniacal dictators such as Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for "standing up against America."

People who rationalize the power grabs, mass imprisonments and tactical starvation by totalitarian governments have little room to complain about a rogue leader who at least sides with America's interests.

Like it or not, dealing with many foreign countries is often a dirty business because of their corruption and undemocratic nature. The choice is clear when it comes to protecting this country or listening to vile partisans who cheer for America's demise.

Pat Murphy

Pacific Palisades

Why add to the Bush administration's failures by recommending the withdrawal of support for Musharraf when the alternative could be the sectarian violence of Iraq?

Saying that Musharraf has never been a democrat or a reliable ally against the Taliban implies that being a democrat in the region and fighting the Taliban are matters of willingness, not the Herculean tasks they are.

Americans cannot forget that our nation was born out of a revolution and, more significant, that one-size democracy does not fit all.

Louise Schuck Pappas

Shell Beach, Calif.

Amend the law on drug penalties

Re "Closing crack's 100-1 ratio," Opinion, Nov. 2

The U.S. Sentencing Commission has shown Congress that now is the time to reform the crack cocaine sentencing scheme. The commission introduced an amendment, made effective Nov. 1, that lowers the bottom of the recommended sentencing ranges for crack cocaine-related crimes so that they are no higher than the mandatory minimum sentences required by federal law. The change is expected to affect more than 3,500 people each year and would reduce defendants' sentences on average by 15 months. While this step is encouraging, only Congress can eliminate the punitive, racist disparity between powder and crack cocaine sentences. The increased penalty for crack has not aided urban communities. Instead, it has devalued men and women and stripped them from their communities for excessive periods of time.

Jasmine L. Tyler


The writer is the deputy director of the Office of National Affairs of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Mandatory minimum prison sentences have done little other than give us a high incarceration rate. The deterrent value of tough drug laws is overrated. Crack use declined after the 1980s not because of a slick advertising campaign or mandatory minimum sentencing laws -- the younger generation saw what crack was doing to their older siblings and decided for themselves that it was bad news. This is not to say nothing can be done about hard drugs. Access to substance-abuse treatment is critical. Diverting resources from prisons and into cost-effective treatment would save tax dollars and lives.

Robert Sharpe


The writer is a policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy.

AG aggravation

Re "Mukasey's nomination advances to Senate floor," Nov. 7

Perhaps Judge Michael B. Mukasey, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), and, for good measure, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should volunteer to be waterboarded before Mukasey is confirmed as attorney general. That way, they would all personally know, without waffling with their words or weaseling with their logic, if waterboarding is indeed torture. If it feels like torture, it probably is.

David Wyles

Playa del Rey

Redefine 'victim'

Re "Citigroup CEO falls victim to loan crisis," Nov. 5

Citigroup's CEO a victim? The words "perpetrator" or at least "co-conspirator" come to mind instead. Recently resigned Citigroup CEO Charles Prince slinks away with nearly $150 million for the last four years and for retirement. Meanwhile, millions of borrowers stand to lose their homes and tens of thousands who worked in the industry have lost or are losing their jobs. The truly honorable course for Prince to take would be to put his windfall and his executive experience to work for the real victims.

Dan Henrickson

Los Angeles

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