VOTE FOR SALE

Politicians do it

Lobbyists throw tons of money at representatives and senators to influence their votes and no one gets upset, yet Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has charged University of Minnesota student Max P. Sanders with a felony for his eBay joke of putting his vote up for sale (Star Tribune, July 4).

The secretary's communications director, John Aiken, has been quoted as saying, "We take it very seriously. Fundamentally, we believe it is wrong to sell your vote."

How naive is Mr. Aiken? Congress does it all the time!

JOHN HINK, AKRON, OHIO

ELECTION '08

Light on the résumé

One of our presidential candidates is a master at speaking, but what else is he a master at?

Does Barack Obama have any experience in any private sector? Has he ever had any experience in real life?

Now he wants to be president of the United States of America, the toughest job in the world. Would you want him to manage your company?

JOHN HUTAR, PLYMOUTH

Substance over style

I don't care about which candidate has the better teleprompter skills ("McCain works hard to polish skills as orator," July 6). I do care about which candidate has the best experience.

There are profoundly important issues at stake in this election. I urge other voters to stop looking at the window dressing and start looking out the window at the real world.

We're not voting for the orator in chief; we're voting for the commander in chief. There's a difference.

CRYSTAL KELLEY, EDEN PRAIRIE

Obama's smart move

People should not be surprised that Obama is moving toward the center. He knows most of the aggrieved Hillary Clinton boosters will vote for him, as will those voters on the left.

Why? Two reasons: There is no viable third party candidate, and he is not John McCain.

WILLARD B. SHAPIRA, MINNEAPOLIS

Good for flip-floppers

Politicians and pundits need to defend candidates who flip-flop. Not only has this weak, shallow insult been overused and abused, it is rooted in a highly suspect world view: a view of a static world in which nothing ever changes. A leader who is inflexible and unyielding may not flip-flop, but he will be disconnected from reality and unable to cope with the constant flux of today's world.

In contrast, a visionary leader is always refining his ideas, even drastically changing them, as new information demands. That leader is agile, constantly on the lookout for shifting conditions, always ready to adapt and evolve. He sees opportunities and amends strategy in response. And though his position on issues may change, it is in reply to changes that occur every day. The backbone of dynamic leadership is rooted in an understanding of how things are today and how they will be tomorrow. Only flip-floppers can be free to adapt as they should and must.

DYLAN MORRIS, BLOOMINGTON

RECONSIDERING JESSE

Record of achievement

The July 3 Letter of the Day was a crude attempt to shame Minnesotans into not voting for Jesse Ventura if he were to run for the U.S. Senate.

There was no mention of his four-year record as governor. No understanding that part of Ventura's public persona was a pose inherited from his wrestling days driven by the needs of our entertainment age. The writer simply assumed that, because Ventura was a former professional wrestler, he had to be a caveman, and people shouldn't vote for this type of person.

WILLIAM MCGAUGHEY, MINNEAPOLIS

IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM

Same old story

It would be a grave threat to world security were Iran to develop nuclear weapons. But what evidence do we have that Iran is close to acquiring such weapons?

Does it have centrifuges? Are there mobile weapons factories? Has it tried to purchase uranium from Africa? Has someone from inside divulged the extent of its operations?

When we have actionable intelligence on these questions, then we should preserve freedom by invading Iran. May I suggest calling it Operation Iranian Freedom?

CHIP WHITTINGHAM, MINNEAPOLIS

vouchers for students

They don't work

A July 5 letter "Consider vouchers" persuasively argues that, in attempting to narrow the minority student learning gap, Minnesota should try educational methods "that have proven to be successful elsewhere." But the letter writer also mistakenly asserts that vouchers are such a method and that, "States that have implemented voucher systems have seen a reduction in the achievement gap between black and white students."

In fact, one of the largest voucher experiments, in the Milwaukee schools, produced "no statistically significant differences in the test scores between the public and private [voucher] school fourth and eighth graders for the 2006-07 school year."

And Howard Fuller, who was the superintendent of Milwaukee schools when the voucher program was launched, has conceded, "It hasn't worked like we thought it would in theory."

Similarly in Cleveland, Indiana University researchers "found no significant differences in overall achievement, reading, or math scores between students who used vouchers and those who stayed in public school, after taking into account socioeconomic differences."

Minnesotans, take heed!

GEORGE MUELLNER, PLYMOUTH

WAITING ROOM DEATH

A lack of concern

The situation resulting in a woman dying unattended in a hospital waiting room in New York happens more frequently than readers might think (Star Tribune, July 2).

On July 25, 2005, my husband died of an ischemic bowel while in a specialized unit at a very reputable local hospital. He was to be discharged that morning!

As his discomfort and abdominal distention increased throughout the day, my constant pleas for help were ignored -- other than giving him pain medications. By evening, surgery was no longer an option. My husband died in most excruciating pain, while I watched.

Some have tried to explain what happened by pointing out that he was older and was being treated for cancer. True, but that's not the point. He didn't die of cancer. And I will never know what would have happened if he had been attended to properly by all the caregivers who surrounded him.

CAROL CRANE, MINNEAPOLIS