MICHELLE OBAMA

Let her apologize

I am sorry, editors, you did not make a good case for Michelle Obama (editorial, Feb. 21). Remember the saying "words matter" seems very familiar.

Maybe her statement was not a poor choice of words, a slip of the tongue, but her true feelings. Maybe Obama missed her American history classes. There has never been a perfect country and there never will be a perfect country. I think Michelle Obama needs to clarify her statement and make an apology to the American people.

M.P. SODERHOLM, BLOOMINGTON

Her meaning was clear

The indignant discussion about Michelle Obama's stated pride in her country has been shamefully distorted in its omission of a key word. That word is "really" as in "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country."

A function of the word "really" is to intensify meaning, in this case Obama's feelings about her country. That she is really proud of it at this time assumes that she has always been, to some degree, proud of her country since that which does not exist cannot be intensified.

The specious interpretation of Obama's words is really irresponsible, unethical and rude.

MARGIE GHERITY, EDEN PRAIRIE

PAWLENTY AND NWA

Weak opposition

The Feb. 19 article "Pawlenty may bend on NWA obligation" is a continuation of his weak opposition to the Delta Airlines-Northwest Airlines merger. Our "I want to be vice president" governor is trying to present the image that his position in making financial concessions to Delta will salvage some jobs.

To let Delta off the hook for immediate payment of NWA's huge debt to our state and to not terminate the airport concessions would be to give away the store without a significant payback. To accept that Delta would do the right thing is naïve, especially as proved by NWA's reneging on the promise to keep the headquarters in Minnesota. The idea that Pawlenty is trying to save MSP as a hub is a "straw man." No matter what direction the merger takes, the Twin Cities airport will remain a "hub" for a major airline because of its location, its financial, industrial, recreational and educational activities, the number of Fortune 500 headquarters, the passenger traffic and general energy of this area.

Let us hope that Minnesota's U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, who is chairman of the House Transportation Committee, can slow the consummation and shed light on the real motivation for the merger. The merger rush is motivated by the fact that delay will lessen the chance of its occurrence, especially if delay exposes the merger to approval of a coming Democratic administration.

While the Star Tribune has written extensively about the merger, it has not effectively exposed the weaknesses in the so-called justifications for the merger offered by the players, who are obviously motivated by the financial rewards they will accrue. It is your responsibility to speak up editorially, now.

FELIX A. PERRY, MINNEAPOLIS

Laid off, ready to vote

Apparently it takes not only Northwest Airlines' Doug Steenland getting a $31 million golden parachute and 13,000 Minnesota jobs lost to get the attention of our governor and state politicians, but hundreds of millions of dollars Northwest owes the state of Minnesota if it leaves the state.

The thousands of inspectors, mechanics and cleaners who lost jobs in 2005 and Steenland's $26 million bonus didn't even get a second glance from our state government. While I and other former NWA employees struggle to rebuild our lives, and revenue is lost from all the jobs sent out of state and overseas, is it any wonder that Minnesota is falling into a recession? Come Election Day, I will remember the lack of support from Tim Pawlenty and state legislators.

STEVEN SCHOENECKER, HASTINGS

CASTRO STEPS ASIDE

Years of solid leadership

Many Americans hated Cuban President Fidel Castro but they never knew what he did for his country. Castro led a revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista. He brought health care to everyone and free education all the way to the university level. Castro took the big farms of the fleeing wealthy and divided them up and gave them to the people. The people who before lived in dirt huts and barely scraped by now had enough land to feed their families, health care and college.

We should be praising his accomplishments and hoping that his brother can bring as much good to Cuba as he did.

TRAVIS PETERSEN, MINNETONKA

IMMIGRANTS AT THE BORDER

Why are they coming?

In response to the Feb. 21 letter on illegal immigration: Why can't we look beyond a need for border fences? Why are these immigrants coming here? What has affected their economy at home to cause this lack of jobs down there? Could it be our NAFTA? Let's be truthful.

BEVERLY BAILEY, RICHFIELD