Throughout the impeachment hearings, the Republicans have complained repeatedly that the process is a sham. And they are correct. It is a sham that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is blocking State Department documents and witnesses from being presented. It is a sham that Attorney General William Barr has done the same thing in the Justice Department. It is a sham that we haven’t heard from President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who is at the center of much of the testimony. It is a sham that we haven’t heard from Trump himself. The impeachment process is part of our Constitution and our president has chosen not to abide by the rules that were set out by our founders. I see no justification for this other than the fact that the president and his cronies are guilty of the crime they are implicated in, bribery, which is explicitly forbidden in the Constitution. If it wasn’t a bribe, show us the evidence. The American people deserve better than this. Republicans may succeed with keeping this president in office for the next year but they will pay severely in coming elections for this sham.

Jim Cotner, St. Paul

• • •

If you know you are not going to like the answer, don’t ask a question. Increasingly, that was the strategy of Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. Fiona Hill and David Holmes provided compelling firsthand testimony that the Republicans didn’t like. So they either used their time for questions to pontificate or they yielded back their time. Simultaneously, they ran up the white flag and they proclaimed victory.

David Hauschild, Blaine

• • •

“Ukraine pressured,” “Evidence mounts,” “Pompeo enabler,” “Sondland implicates Trump,” “Likely obstruction.” Talk about hair-on-fire editing. Five headlines on three pages of copy courtesy of the New York Times and Washington Post effectively distributing talking points of the Democratic Party in the Nov. 21 Star Tribune. The Times’ concept photography was icing on the cake. Page A1 displays a comfortable, confident Sondland swearing to tell the whole truth while, in another shot, President Trump is screaming at reporters. Sondland appears again on page A12 confidently facing photographers, and page A13 includes four storytelling images. High-speed shutters capture a deep frown on the face of Rep. Devin Nunes. A policeman’s profile against a Republican Party poster demonstrates the police state we’re becoming under President Trump. A couple of representatives (one from Minnesota, of course) studiously peer at hearing documents, and Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., is shown with a no-nonsense facial expression. Great PR for Democrats. Journalism it is not.

Dave Swanson, Rochester

• • •

As we move to the next phase in the Trump impeachment process, I’d like to remind people only getting their information from Fox News (especially during that channel’s evening line-up of nonjournalists) why that media outlet exists.

The network’s founder, Roger Ailes, was a former Nixon White House staffer who began to develop the concept for a propaganda outlet for Republicans after Nixon’s resignation. So, please bear that in mind as you watch. You’re not getting “fair and balanced” news; you’re getting exactly what the Republican Party wants you to hear to support its goals.

The frightening thing now is that the Grand Old Party, which used to be the party most strongly supporting defense of our nation and national security, is now repeating debunked conspiracy theories traced back to Russian efforts to weaken our country to defend our current president. All of that is playing into Russia’s efforts to weaken democracy around the world and especially in the United States.

Deb Pitzrick, Eden Prairie

• • •

Take a deep breath. Watch and listen to as much of the House hearings as you can stand. Stay away from Twitter. Stay away from the ranting on Fox News, as it is just a lot of shouting and will raise your blood pressure. Stay away from the uninformed gossip at the local coffee shop. Use your own good brain and judgment as to who is telling the truth. If a lot of patriotic foreign service people are telling the same story, it is not a conspiracy theory. Remember that we are all immigrants. Those of us much further away from our immigrant roots are often the most complacent. Open your mind. This political landscape is the “Wild West” — unlike anything we have seen before. Don’t assume either political party is the same one your grandfather, father, mother, husband, etc. always voted for. Neither occupies the moral high ground. Good luck. Our future as a nation is at stake and it depends on all of us. Oh, and don’t forget to vote!

Mary Jane Miller, Minnetonka

• • •

This past week during the impeachment hearings, America saw the real patriots. We don’t know these quiet people. These are the career professionals who work quietly behind the scenes and without accolades. We owe gratitude and a great debt to each of these patriots. If this is the “Deep State,” I’ll take it.

Germain Minton, Roseville

VAPING

Too convenient to leave out the rest of the study’s findings

If the owner of an e-liquid manufacturer is going to use a study from the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) to support her opposition to a ban on flavored liquids for vaping (“Total flavor ban risks unwanted outcomes,” Nov. 22), she should report the findings more completely.

The NEJM study’s conclusion that “E-cigarettes were more effective for smoking cessation than nicotine-replacement therapy” was based on the finding that after one year 18% of flavor users were nonsmokers vs. 9.9% of those in the nicotine replacement group. Put another way, 82% of flavor users were still smoking. Omitted was the fact that the British National Health Service (NHS), which conducted the study, provided each of the 886 study subjects with “weekly behavioral support for at least 4 weeks.” That level of behavioral support is just not going to be available to the 34 million smokers in the U.S., so the marginal improvement in smoking abstinence noted in the NHS study is likely to be even less here. Meanwhile, the 25% of teens who vape, almost exclusively with flavors, are four times more likely to become cigarette smokers than nonvaping teens. It makes no sense to facilitate creation of another generation of cigarette smokers when continued flavor sales are quite unlikely to reduce smoking among current users to any truly significant degree.

Dr. Greg Wright, Edina

HOUSING MARKET

Current ups mean future generations will struggle

The Nov. 20 Business section article about the booming sales of more expensive homes is actually a cautionary tale about the entire housing industry in this country (“Move-ups spark record Oct. home prices”). We all like to see our homes appreciate in value but tend to forget that with every gain a few more people — among them our kids and grandkids — are further removed from homeownership. This is a direct result of policies long in place that turned homes into an “investment” vs. a place to live, like most countries. In fact, it is the same “financialization” that has caused the huge distortions and inefficiencies in our education and health care sectors that are a large part of our terrible affordability problems.

As a former Realtor, it pains me to say that the real estate industry itself is POTP — part of the problem. It is interesting that the real estate industry has been mostly able to avoid the disintermediation — getting rid of the middleman — that the internet did for so many other industries with middlemen like retail, travel and music, resulting in their greatly reduced costs. Perhaps it’s time to see if we can rethink how we view real estate in this country and bring some sanity back into our homes.

D. Roger Pederson, Minneapolis

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