Some sage advice on the U.S. Senate

"The Senate was an institution that the nation counted on to take collective action. A commitment to passionate but not unlimited debate; tolerance of opposing views; principled compromise; vote up or down even if it meant losing ..." (from "The Last Great Senate" by Ira Shapiro).

Shapiro's book sadly shows how the Senate has lost its way. Its lions once included Humphrey, Baker, Ervin, Javits, Byrd, Mansfield, Jackson, Kennedy and Dirksen among others. Today's Senate includes: Reid, Paul, Kyl, McConnell, Inhofe and others to whom "principled compromise" is perceived to be a weakness. As Sen. Evan Bayh observed in 2010, "There is too much partisanship and not enough progress -- too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving."

Fortunately, the author has proposed solutions. Above all the Senate must view itself not merely as an extension of the battle between political parties.

"The Last Great Senate" should be read by all senators serving, those running for Senate as well as anyone with an interest in politics.

Peter Swift

Pleasanton

Drug War has yet to produce any victories

The War on Drugs began in 1971. Since then, crime, murder and drug abuse, directly related to the drug cartels has increased here in the United States.


Advertisement

During Prohibition, the American public trusted their local gangs more than they trusted their government, a situation mirrored in Mexico. What was primarily a war on Mexican cartels supplying America's marijuana habit is now a war on violent cartels that distribute all drugs and increasingly focus on meth, an extremely harmful drug. If we'd legalized, taxed and controlled marijuana, we could have wiped out the cartels' main source of income and kept the trust of the American public. And most importantly, we would have a better ability to fight the scourge of meth.

It may not be too late to legalize marijuana and treat it like we do alcohol. We would make enough tax income to fight the really dangerous drugs. But we've created even more violence and instability in Mexico. Cartels are not only destroying innocent lives and communities in Mexico but increasingly in the United States. These cartels are now so rich and strong that it may be impossible to achieve the upper hand.

Joel Olney

Livermore

Party alienates its Democrats who are pro-life

The Democrats, at their Charlotte, N.C., convention had quite a number of prominent people giving speeches in support of their views. Most of them said things very predictable. As a liberal Democrat, I enjoyed hearing them.

But then I was astounded when Nancy Keenan, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League appeared. She gave a no-holds-barred spirited speech setting forth the extreme pro-choice dogma according no rights whatsoever, no matter how late-term, to the fetus. Obviously, the party leaders were unconcerned about alienating the pro-life Democrats. One would think that the leaders would try to avoid such a position. Is this sheer stupidity or what?

I consider myself pro-life but do believe that pregnant women who, for whatever reason, do not want to give birth should have the legally protected right to an abortion within the first month after conception. Admittedly this may require the mother-to-be to endure months of pregnancy discomfort, plus the pain of giving birth. But that cannot be helped.

Howard F. King

Livermore

No free lunch when it comes to our energy

Regarding the energy subsidy tally and energy and the taxpayer: to begin with there ain't no free lunch. The data that I will list was taken from a recent issue of The Wall Street Journal. These are the federal subsidies for electric power in fiscal 2010.

Oil & Gas, $654 million, $0.64 per megawatt hour

Hydropower, $215 million, $0.82 per megawatt hour

Coal, $1,189 million, $0.64 per megawatt hour

Nuclear, $2,499 million, $3.14 per megawatt hour

Solar, $968 million, $775.64 per megawatt hour

Wind, $4,986 million, $56.29 per megawatt hour

These figures do not include any subsidies that the state of California may also furnish. As you can see in order for nuclear, solar and wind to be competitive with coal, oil and gas and hydropower they must be heavily funded by the government. If not, your power bill would sky rocket. I hope with all the hoopla for renewable energy that may find favor with some greens and global warming fans that some will remember "there ain't no free lunch."

Robert Wood

Livermore

Public workers compensated far too much

Just read Thomas Peele's article in the (Sept. 23) Sunday Times entitled "Pension plus pay equals scrutiny." I think this is an outrage. This situation could be improved by raising the retirement age to 65 and/or years of service to 35 or 40.

I have heard this story and ones like it over and over again. What are all the secrets about? These are public employees paid with taxpayers' money. Many of these people sit around eating doughnuts for 20 years and then retire with outrageous benefits. Others who were "injured on the job" and put on disability go on to lead normal lives and continue working in the private sector.

With most of our municipalities going broke, it's time to rethink the rewards our servants get.

Leo M. Mara

Livermore

Wish Muslim world didn't let film provoke it

Why did that film producer of the Islamic video feel the need to defame the Islamic prophet and what did he hope to gain by doing so?

Seems to me, he was deliberately trying to start an uprising in the Middle East. It is very sad that people feel the need to torment and put down other religions (America is a land made up of many religions and races). Why can't we all get along and treat each other with respect?

I am not saying that it is OK to "kill people" who do not share the same religion as you. I just feel bad for the many "good Islamic people" in the Bay Area that will have to suffer undue prejudice because of what a few radicals in the Middle East did. I want to apologize to the Islamic people for the hateful video and let them know that they are loved and welcome in our country.

Perhaps in the future ... these radicals in the Middle East could put an end to these hateful videos by simply ignoring them. I urge you not to let these producers of hateful films push your buttons and control you.

Kathie Kubo

Dublin

Now we know Romney plenty well enough

I grew up a part of the 47 percent Mr. Romney spoke of with such disdain.

I did nothing to earn the government's help, but my dad did give his life when his plane went down in the Pacific in 1944. Perhaps Romney wasn't referring to me or others in that group; perhaps he was thinking of the people receiving Social Security Disability, like my cousin, a schoolteacher too ill with breast cancer to continue to work, or perhaps the retired seniors I deliver Meals on Wheels to or perhaps the thousands of disabled children and adults who receive aid so that they can live independently.

These are some of the people who make up that 47 percent of the country beneath Romney's concern. Throughout this campaign the Republicans have tried to get the public to "know" Romney better; now I believe we do.

Dorothy Nicholas

Livermore