Real change is needed on federal budget

Today's editorial seemed to miss the point on the impasse over the fiscal cliff.

Leading off with the statement that "the cliff is clearly a crisis of the Republicans' making" and then stating that the president has moved from his initial positions on taxes and cuts is selective interpretation. If you go back to 2010, you recall that the major revolt in the midterm elections was the push and widespread agreement to cut the size of spending and the size of government.

The political chatter for the last months seems to be limited to the rather minor change in tax rate increases for either all or some. This political talking point has little bearing on the initial push by most old Republicans and all of the new Republicans. All of this blame should be evaluated from that 2010 groundswell. The Republicans have already ceded some rate increases, but to state that Obama has moved on his position by declaring he has already made $1 trillion in cuts over 10 years is laughable. The Simpson Bowles Commission and the House proposal had $4 trillion over 10 years, which is still underwhelming, and is still merely a slowdown in the rate of growth.

So if your evaluation is based primarily on what rate or level is to be taxed, that is only one piece of the puzzle. The real negotiation is over meaningful spending cuts and who gets the prize for getting their underwhelming plan passed. We can be sure that none of these will do anything to change the embedded narrow thinking that is systemic in Washington. This is a missed opportunity to start addressing our foremost economic problems that will again be around for years to come.

Robert Jones

Alamo

Try learning a thing or two from Fillmore

A letter on the Dec. 6 "Comment" page says the writer every morning carefully sets the cereal bowl over Mallard Fillmore so that it does not exist.

The writer should start using a clear bowl so that after the Cheerios are consumed the writer might see and start appreciating the hilariously incisive witticisms expressed by the inimitable Mallard.

On the same page in a laughable pathetic pseudointellectual diatribe against the sharpest and most perspicacious political pundit of our time -- a writer, among other senseless absurdities, vilifies Thomas Sowell for right-wing ideology that is "anathema to most and a plague on the Republican Party." What unadulterated hogwash. If the Republican Party enthusiastically embraced and energetically promulgated Sowell's unassailable ideals and profound philosophies we would not be deplorably saddled with a disastrously incompetent presidential administration that is pushing this country into a bottomless vortex of socialistic destruction.

And if Newt Gingrich is an "appallingly self-absorbed and morally challenged serial adulterer," what would the writer consider John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton? Paragons of unsullied virtue, no doubt.

Lanny R. Middings

San Ramon

Constitution, not NRA, lets us have guns

Our Constitution protects the right of individuals to possess and carry weapons. Accordingly, in our nation, laws regulating firearms are liberal, and firearms are common and easily obtainable.

Today, many people believe that permissive firearms laws are no longer the right policy for our nation. They believe that people will be safer and happier if firearms are no longer available for misuse. That is a valid opinion.

However, the Supreme Court has made very clear that if people want to enact new policies according to this opinion, their first step must be to propose an amendment to the Constitution. As long as the highest law of the land protects ownership and carriage of firearms as an individual right, there is very little that the president or Congress can do to outlaw firearms. The Constitution, not the NRA, is the obstacle to changing our nation's firearms policy.

Chase Buchanan

Livermore

Blame culture, gun access for violence

Banning all guns on one side and arming teachers on the other is a superficial choice. There should also be a discussion about our country's culture that makes death easy, common, and even fun.

Look at how Hollywood makes the mega dollars production of films, TV shows and video games a training university for killing.

Look at our fondness for criminal wars like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and how we trivialize the death of "collateral damage."

Look at our annual hunting season rite, where we take our boys and girls to have their first exposure to killing as a fun family affair. Look at drive-by shootings and teenage gangs that have killed so many of our kids in poor urban areas and for which most of us do not grieve but accept as "their problem".

And look at the ready availability of all kinds of weapons, at home and in the stores, as an expression of our liberties, using twisted interpretations of legal words.

Sanctity of life is dead, partly because of assault weapons are not banned, partly because we failed to better protect the innocent at schools. But we also must look at the dark recesses of our American soul and see that some cancers have long been festering there.

Jorge Fernandez

Pleasanton

Has the NRA taken over this country?

I find it utterly puzzling that the politicians, Congress, president, everyone ... is scared of the NRA?

Why is it so? I thought these kinds of things happen in other "Third World countries," where people with guns and money ultimately control the power and the heads of governments are just puppets. But to see this happening in this country is so demoralizing. Why does the NRA have to be so powerful that the rational thinking people, our representatives cannot stand against them? What are they scared of -- losing their seats -- as opposed to thousands of lives that would be lost every year in USA because of gun violence?!

Mukesh Nayak

Pleasanton

Accountability on Libya yet to materialize

A mistake used to be stepping into an elevator that is going up when what you actually wanted to do was go down -- your own fault. In Washington, D.C., a mistake is allowing the deaths of four American citizens in Benghazi, Libya, and finding no one at fault. The corruption of the political process added to political correctness and an uninterested press is going to be the ruin of the United States of America.

Joe Crossllin

Pleasanton