Romney should follow example on tax returns


As a yellow-dog Democrat (the last one barking in the street), I applaud Mitt Romney for selecting Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate. I am certain it will make for an interesting race. In part of the vetting process, Romney asked for and viewed 10 years of Ryan's tax returns. I hope Romney will offer the same access to us with his returns.


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Last year, Ryan cosponsored a bill that would declare a fertilized egg a person. This would outlaw all abortions -- including those needed to save the life of the mother -- as well as in-vitro fertilization and the birth control pill. The bill also would force all women having an abortion to have an ultrasound, whether or not she or her doctor wanted it. Romney has said he agrees with that stance.

This is indeed the biggest election of our time: It will determine the direction of women's reproductive rights.


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Child care workers deserve great pay


The article on day-care costs shows one more good reason to live in Minnesota ("Cost of day care exceeds college," Aug. 16): We care enough about infants and toddlers to set high standards, require low numbers of children for each teacher and want college-educated teachers who provide stimulating education for those young minds. Hurrah for paying early childhood educators a living wage. I hope the Legislature will find funds to help more families enroll in quality, safe care for our most precious resource -- our children.


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On sending the first child off to college


Thanks to Christina Brunkhorst for her commentary about the parents of college-bound kids ("Turning our life's work loose," Aug. 15). What a perfect headline for a well-stated article about one of life's transitions.

The timing of the commentary was perfect for my family, too, as we face sending our oldest son off to college for the first time. Brunkhorst put into words what we have been feeling but didn't want to quite face yet. Her gentle and humorous way of expressing those thoughts have validated ours and hopefully have prepared us for the wave of emotions that will be coming.


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Understand the Constitution's purpose


Minnesotans must vote against the proposed state constitutional marriage amendment. This closed-minded campaign is without logical justification, unnecessarily forced into public discourse by partisan motives, and representative of a poor understanding of the purpose of a constitution. A constitution isn't intended for policy decisions (the state and counties makes marriage laws -- which clearly must be updated). Rather, it is a document that outlines our form of government and lists our rights and liberties. The Constitution is no place for a silly definition of marriage.


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Bravo to staff for anniversary coverage


I commend the Star Tribune and writer Curt Brown for the timely and thoughtfully researched series about the U.S.-Dakota War ("In the footsteps of Little Crow," Aug. 12-17). This is a story that should be known to all Minnesotans. It isn't, but the newspaper has begun to fill that void. This is journalism at its best. Well done. I hope the Pulitzer folks share my sentiments.


Bike helmets

Cyclists need to follow the rules of the road


After reading the brouhaha over whether the Minneapolis bicycle coordinator is setting a bad example when he doesn't wear a helmet, I want to offer this observation ("King of the road," Aug. 7): People on bicycles with or without helmets often blast through stop signs and ignore stop lights. Perhaps there is a lack of willingness to understand the fact that a bicycle is a vehicle on the streets. A collision between a car and a bicycle delivers the most damage to the bicyclist. Please follow the rules, use safety equipment and be courteous.


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Atheist responds: Our quality isn't that quality


Not to overstate the obvious, but atheists don't go to church ("We're just your neighbors," Aug. 12). There are no atheist churches that I'm aware of, and, to be sure, neither the Minnesota Atheists nor the American Atheists are a church.

Why am I making this self-evident statement? Because a Star Tribune reporter quoted me as saying, "We're just like everyone else ... doing all these things other churches do." Obviously, I was misquoted. I would never say we are a church. We don't worship supernatural characters; we don't adhere to any dogma; we don't practice sacred rites, and we like to sleep in on Sundays.

What I explained to the reporter is that atheists -- like Christians, Muslims, Jews and everyone else -- are social primates who enjoy social outings and group activities. We're all the same in the sense that we like to have fun and be accepted in our society.

Whether it's our atheist-sponsored "Mr. Paul Aints" game, conferences, picnics, book clubs, or any of the many activities offered on our meet-up website, atheists just want to have fun like everyone else -- unbelievable fun.


The writer is associate president of Minnesota Atheists.