According to “House passes stronger penalty for freeway protests” (May 9), Republicans want to increase penalties for marching on freeways. They are very concerned about causing delays that have “significant consequences.” One woman missed an appointment at Mayo. Another couldn’t get to her mother’s deathbed. These, indeed, are significant consequences caused by traffic delays.

I’m assuming that, buried in the bill somewhere, is a penalty for Vikings, Twins and Gophers games that cause similar traffic problems. No? I guess our entertainment is more important than highlighting human-rights abuses. State Rep. Ilhan Omar says it well: “When you are prioritizing inconveniences over injustices, that tells us a lot.”

Thomas Haines, Eden Prairie

IRAN DEAL PULLOUT

Regime change via sanctions is a familiar, if failed, policy

President Donald Trump’s hope is that by renewing sanctions against Iran we will provoke regime change in a society that has never known democracy. That is the same hope for the Cuba embargo, which has lasted through the following presidencies: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump. It was kept alive due to the Cuban refugee lobby that each president catered to.

The sanctions will fail because the rest of the world wants to do business with Iran. Because of the Israel lobby, U.S. policy will not change until the next Middle East war. When that occurs, both Saudi and Iranian oil will be taken out of the marketplace. Geopolitical considerations disappear once gasoline hits $6 a gallon.

John Freivalds, Wayzata

TRUMP’S INFLUENCES

After latest Cohen revelations, elected leaders must investigate

I would like U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen and U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, as my representatives, to investigate how and why huge sums of money ended up in our president’s lawyer’s (Michael Cohen’s) LLC account (Essential Consultants) from a Russian oligarch and firms like AT&T, Novartis and Korea Aerospace (“Firm tied to Russian made payments to Cohen,” May 9). We need to know if Cohen was selling influence that affected U.S. policy. If so, this is a form of bribery and treason. If the investigation proves that our president, through Cohen, exacted a pay-to-play scheme with all these companies, that should be considered a high crime, and Paulsen would be obligated to file articles of impeachment. No one, including our president, is above the rule of law.

Gerald Holguin, Edina

DISTRACTED DRIVING

The mechanics of maintaining undivided attention to the task

A few months ago, while driving, there was some upcoming news on the radio that I really wanted to hear. At that time, in heavy traffic, I had to change several lanes, so I shifted my focus to driving. I completely missed what I wanted to hear on the radio. There are times you have to shift focus from listening to the radio or having a conversation with passengers in the car. Your passengers in the car sharing the heavy traffic will understand.

Conversation with people outside the car is another story. They expect your undivided attention, so it is harder to shift focus. You should never initiate a call while driving, and if you accept a call, it should be very short. “I’ll be there in about 20 minutes. I’m driving now so I can’t talk.”

Distracted driving is not only distracted vision. It is also a distracted mind. Hands-free solves only the distracted vision part (“Take a step to reduce distracted driving,” editorial, May 8).

Car manufacturers complicate the problem by requiring you to navigate a touch screen menu to change a radio station.

Dick Gudim, Bloomington

• • •

A May 8 letter mentioned that Canada fines people $1,000 for littering and suggested that we levy similar fines for texting. Why not just confiscate the phone immediately, for evidence-gathering purposes? It could be returned a week or two later. I suspect that lesson would not be easily forgotten!

Anne Ulmer, Cannon Falls, Minn.

• • •

I have to comment on two May 8 letters. One referred to a recent “crackdown” on texting while driving that produced more than 1,500 citations in two weeks, and the other suggested a $1,000 fine for that offense. Has anyone multiplied those two numbers and realized that passing a law to improve public safety also could bring in a huge amount of revenue? Of course, as public safety increased, the revenue would decrease, but in the initial stage the government could make quite a haul. It could be given to the schools.

Steven White, Minneapolis

REPRESENTATION

The windsock Erik Paulsen is accused of checking has a role

I think a May 10 letter writer (“U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen: He’s checking the windsock”) has lost sight of what an elected representative is supposed to do — represent the opinions of the majority he or she represents, with protections for the minority.

David Brandt, Minnetonka

LOBBYING

Call it G2G influence

I read recently in the Star Tribune (“Governments cut money to local lobbyists,” May 8) that local governments in Minnesota “spent less money on lobbying in 2017 compared to the previous year, but still used $8.77 million trying to influence decisions at other levels of government, according to a new report from State Auditor Rebecca Otto.”

That’s a good deal, I guess.

But I’ve never fully understood the sanity of one government agency taking our tax dollars to hire someone to encourage another government agency to take even more of our tax dollars to spend on programs/projects. Why can’t these programs/projects just stand on their own merit?

Mike McLean, Richfield

MINNEAPOLIS POLICE

Appearances do matter

Kudos to Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo for his decision to reduce the imperious appearance of command staff by dropping the white-shirt policy and to reporter Libor Jany for his use of the word “sartorial” (“Mpls. police switch leaders’ uniforms back to blue,” May 8). Minneapolis has always been a blue-collar police department, no pun intended.

Perhaps my friend Chief Arradondo can next tackle the issue of “collar brass.” Up to and through Chief Robert Olson, Minneapolis chiefs have worn one gold star on their collars. During the short tenure of Chief William McManus, he amped up the bling wars by wearing four gold stars per collar. Then assistant chiefs donned three, inspectors two, etc. This carried on across the metro and state, with command staffs of large and small departments adding gold accessories to their uniforms. That is fine for large departments of Byzantine structure, but it is not very Minnesotan.

I remain a great fan of Arradondo and the MPD but reserve the right to offer criticism. Culture matters in a police department and is the most difficult thing for a chief to shape.

Gregory S. Hestness, Minneapolis

The writer, now retired, is a former chief of the University of Minnesota Police Department and former deputy chief of the Minneapolis Police Department.