I was fortunate to hear the Minnesota Orchestra from an early age.
Mitt Romney's comments about people not wanting to take responsibility for their lives, and about Palestinians not wanting peace, make me think that he has what psychologist Carol Dweck calls a "fixed theory of intelligence": He believes that people are the way they are and can't be changed, particularly with regard to their intelligence. This leads to a fatalistic attitude: Romney believes that there's no point in trying to solve problems such as the Israel-Palestine conflict, because the people involved aren't capable of change.
This attitude is especially dangerous in a leader, because so many Americans, especially Republicans, believe that the United States is purely a meritocracy. A potential president who believes that (a) being poor is evidence of not being smart enough or hardworking enough to succeed, and (b) that nothing can change how smart or hard-working people are, has little incentive to support programs designed to reduce poverty.
Romney's attitude is dangerous for another reason. Dweck's studies show that people who believe that intelligence cannot be changed become defensive and risk-averse when they experience failure. They perceive challenging problems to be threats to their reputations as smart people. If Romney were elected, he would eventually do something that would be seen as a failure; all presidents do. He would then become less willing to take on important projects, due to the fear that they could lead to more failure.
ABRA BRISBIN, EAU CLAIRE, WIS.
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The Romney campaign reminds me of that old Johnny Horton song, "Battle of New Orleans," where they hid behind the cottonwoods and didn't say a thing -- they didn't fire their muskets until they "looked 'em in the eyes".
Romney has been tossing out little bon mots that the media eagerly pick up and gnaw away at. But they really hit his opponent (including the media) right between the eyes, witnessed by the rapid response of both.
We are seven weeks out from the election, and by the time the debates roll around, all of these bon mots will be rolled into the questions the moderators will ask. That's when Romney will fire his musket.
Remember Newt Gingrich? President Obama and the media are walking right into it, just as Gingrich did when he thought he had Romney where he wanted him. Gingrich went down faster than a wet kite.
BOB HUGE, EDINA
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Today is a very sad day for me. An oppressive fog, a gloom, clouds me. You see, I have always been discriminated against -- for being gay, and for being of Mexican descent, even when I was born here legally from parents who immigrated legally. Today, I have tears of anger and disappointment, because today in Arizona it is "legal" to discriminate against me. Today, in America -- my country -- it is legal to discriminate against me just because of the way I look.
FELIPE MUNOZ, MINNEAPOLIS
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The voter ID amendment on the ballot in November would limit the right of overseas Minnesotans like me to vote. How am I supposed to present a valid photo ID when I live 6,000 miles away? I have heard that it will be possible to have the U.S. Embassy notarize absentee ballots, but this requires a two-hour commute each way and a $50 fee for notarial services -- essentially a poll tax.
I was born in Minneapolis and lived in Minnesota for 18 years. I still visit every few months. I pay taxes. I read the Star Tribune and cheer for the Gophers and the Twins. I sometimes listen to MPR online. I still contribute to Minnesota and am still greatly affected by what occurs there.
This amendment would place severe hurdles on the voting process for overseas citizens, effectively disenfranchising many of us who are still very much Minnesotan even though we are far away.
EMMA SCHMIDGALL, HAIFA, ISRAEL
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As a Minneapolis native, I was fortunate to hear the Minnesota Orchestra from an early age. I didn't realize how spoiled I was until I traveled to hear two of the most venerable orchestras in the country and felt underwhelmed compared to what I hear at home.
The artistic integrity of this ensemble is threatened by egregious cuts to musician wages. Orchestral management claims that these cuts are necessary for maintaining fiscal responsibility, even as it raises $52 million for a new lobby.
Arts patrons are not regular consumers, looking for the best deal on cereal or being wooed by a sleek storefront. This is a community of mavens. We listen carefully and discuss with one another the interpretation and execution of timeless classics. We are in search of something beautiful and transcendent. Only with a world-class ensemble can we find it.
The board of directors has a fiduciary responsibility to its constituents, and we call for renewed support for the people who make up the greatest orchestra in the world.
IAN SNYDER, MINNEAPOLIS