TRADING SANTANA

That was real money

Regarding Nick Coleman's Jan. 31 column, "Santana trade victimizes fans with the ol' Scrooge play": Coleman of course failed to point out that Carl (Scrooge) Pohlad offered Santana a four-year contract at $20 million per year. I am no fan of Pohlad, but offering the pitcher $20 million per year should allow the Twins owner to avoid the "Scrooge" label on the Santana deal.

KIRK THOMPSON, MINNEAPOLIS

The last straw

Torii Hunter, and now Johan Santana. Both gone. Carl Pohlad can take his bag of money and sit alone in his new stadium. We're giving up our season tickets.

DEBRA LAKIN, LAKEVILLE

RON PAUL IN 2008

Integrity personified

Another political campaign season is upon us and this one promises to be the longest and perhaps most bitterly contested presidential race ever. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the candidates are the same old same old: "beauty contestants" who promise us the moon if we will just vote for them. They have one message for a certain demographic and the next day they have another message for a different group, but have no real convictions themselves -- no integrity.

After being numbed by months and months of mass media ads, speeches, debates and mudslinging while the field is narrowed to the preordained major party candidates, we usually hold our noses and vote yet again for the lesser of two evils.

But this year is different. We have a truly positive choice. There is a major party candidate who has more moral courage and integrity than all the other candidates combined. His name is Dr. Ron Paul, Republican congressman from Texas. His message is simple and consistent: return personal freedom and responsibility to the citizens and drastically reduce the size and scope of the federal government. He deserves Minnesota's consideration.

CHRIS NORBURY, OWATONNA, MINN.

OPAT FOR OBAMA

A real domestic agenda

It's cliché to say that the upcoming presidential election is the most important in one's lifetime. Yet for me, for the first time, both are true. I'm excited to caucus on Tuesday for Sen. Barack Obama.

Only Obama has the potential to sweep into office with a mandate and make broad changes we desperately need. The promise of his presidency is that we break free of a divisive politics that has frozen the federal government. After seven long years of being conditioned to believe that an irrelevant federal government is the best a local elected official can expect, I feel the change he has made his mantra is truly possible.

I believe an Obama administration will bring a real domestic agenda that will spark rather than slight our cities and suburbs by improving our infrastructure and growing our economy. I trust Barack believes our roads and transit needs are more important than those in Baghdad.

And I know it is time for true leadership in the White House that will work with Congress so that federal government responsibilities concerning immigration policy -- my district includes more Liberian immigrants than anywhere in Minnesota -- will be reasonable. America should keep our promises to immigrants without yielding any expectations of new residents and citizens.

It is time to get excited about the possibilities. Barack Obama represents for me the very best alternative for a new kind of leadership that unifies.

MIKE OPAT, ROBBINSDALE;

HENNEPIN COUNTY COMMISSIONER

JUDGING HILLARY CLINTON

Her own proven merits

I am tired of Democrats demonizing Hillary Clinton in their attempt to promote Barack Obama. How does that promote unity?

If Obama and his supporters, who have written letters to this paper, really stand for change and hope, why repeatedly attack Hillary's character with innuendoes about her sincerity and honesty? Why not judge her on her own proven merits, not on the flaws or accomplishments of her husband?

Hillary has spent most of her adult life working on behalf of women and children, the largest segment of the U.S. and global population who live in poverty. The further this campaign goes the more discouraged I am that the double standard for women is very much alive. This is also why my support for Hillary is more steadfast, as she puts herself out there with courage, despite the unrealistic public expectations of what a woman presidential candidate should be.

Hillary's genuineness is evidenced by her record of not changing who she is to fit a definition or to be what others think she should be. She has been repeatedly criticized for this, but I did not expect it from fellow Democrats. I find it interesting now that a woman candidate has the most experience for the position, experience is now being considered a negative. Hillary, don't stop pounding on that glass ceiling.

JENNIFER NASH, MINNETONKA

DEPARTMENT OF PEACE

Not in this lifetime

I was about to give Rep. Keith Ellison credit for his honesty. After his visit to Guantanamo Bay saying things were not too bad there, after expecting to see torture similar to that of Saddam Hussein and his sons, he comes up with this idea for a "Department of Peace."

The United States had the Department of War from 1789 to August 1949. The name was changed to Department of Defense. A little more friendly? The Department of Peace no doubt would be headed by the Secretary of Appeasement.

Was Ellison unaware of who is being detained at Gitmo? Does he not see the organizations and countries dedicated to our destruction?

Let's create a Department of Peace after the people of the world decide they are through with war, when despots give up hope of conquering others.

BRIAN GRONQUIST, ANDOVER

And let it begin with her

Only Katherine Kersten could find a way to gripe about the continuing quest for world peace ("In a violent world, Ellison dreams of Peace Department," Jan. 30). I can't wait to read her next column defending crooks who steal candy from babies.

ROB GOUDY, EDINA