Where frown lines imitate natural disasters

Every once in a while, the Star Tribune's front page tells a story to which social philosophers could devote hundreds of pages. A Jan. 19 headline, "Quake's feared toll soars to 200,000," is surmounted by, in color, "Finding the best BOTOX." Whither goest us?


First response to Haiti

Without U.S. military, just so much dithering

The U.S. State Department, via USAID, was given the lead for responding to Haiti after last week's earthquake, even though it has even less experience than FEMA at actually managing disasters, particularly a disaster several orders of magnitude greater that Katrina. The Israeli military had a MASH unit up and running within three days from 8,000 miles away. Our military, not being the lead organization, was precluded from doing the same from 800 miles away.

Question: Who was responsible for this apparently politically expedient but substantively incomprehensible decision? The U.S. military is the only organization on the planet with the personnel and logistical experience to handle operations of this magnitude, as it eventually did with Katrina. Acknowledgment and recognition by USAID officials that this is a complex operation doesn't cut it. They are not up to the job and are not supposed to be. They administer foreign aid -- they do not and obviously cannot manage disasters. Clearly, the Haitian people have been victimized by this "policy game" and many more are in the process of dying because of this ineptitude.



So, President Obama sends Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton over to Haiti to see the disaster and to raise the awareness of Americans to pitch in and help.

However, we as a nation are going to give the Haitian people dwarfish aid in the amount of, say, around $100 million; we gave nearly a trillion dollars to the aid of our most sick ideology -- our financial institutions. Worse than that, the CEO crooks behind this scene are receiving bonuses that exceed the Haitian aid. What a "real" crime against humanity!



One has to wonder how a Jan. 19 letter trying to score political points on the tragedy of the Haitian earthquake was worthy of publication. The writer's "two things" are apparent to no one except those willing to promote division and bitterness even in a time of unimaginable suffering.

Neither the United Nations nor President Obama is the issue in this situation. What truly matters is the amazing and moving outpouring of relief efforts from people of all political stripes all across the world.



There have been several comments submitted about the Rev. Pat Robertson's seemingly calloused opinion that this earthquake in Haiti was a result of sin. I read a CNN report this week in which their reporters visited some Haitian churches. The sermon topic in each church was about how earthquakes can be God's judgment for sin. Hmmm. Do these local pastors have the courage to say something we refuse to admit?

The thing we Americans refuse to recognize is that our sin contributed to this disaster. How about it, Americans? When are we going to repent?


'Smashed' series

DWIs abound -- what is Legislature waiting for?

The Star Tribune reports over a half million Minnesota drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated, an undocumented number of others killed and injured each year by them, and at least 22 states already using ignition locks to prevent such carnage, and yet the Legislature is pretending to be cautious and thoughtful about using interlocks here.

Why not immediately contact those states for their experience, and then act on it now? Does it require a vigilante committee marching on the State Capitol to get action in this session?

WAYNE DETuncq, Golden Valley


So far, he's playing a 'be vague and blame' game

Rep. Tom Emmer begins his Jan. 18 piece "Minnesota can't thrive on credit" with the statement that Democrats in the Legislature should "understand that we are facing a huge budget deficit ... better than anyone, because they caused most of this problem with their belief that all of Minnesota's problems are best solved with more government programs." He then fills an entire page-long extra-wide column grumbling about the Twins stadium and teacher raises without identifying a single state-administered government program that he would eliminate, or even one specific step he would take to balance the budget if elected governor.

Could someone explain how this contributes to the political process of solving our problems, or has Emmer calculated that finger pointing and blaming are all that will be needed to energize the GOP base in the next election?


Special election

U.S. Senate seat belongs to Massachusetts

Regardless of the outcome of the special election in Massachusetts, Scott Brown's reply to a David Gergen question is an answer we all need to keep in mind.

This is paraphrased as follows: With all due respect, it is not Ted Kennedy's seat, not a Democratic seat, but the U.S. Senate seat of the people of Massachusetts.