After watching the impeachment drama, it feels like I am once again witness to the reason Congress gets such low marks from the average citizen, and I am saddened by the willingness of the average citizen to let Congress get away with it.
Whether you are Democrat or Republican, libertarian or socialist, we as voters are accountable for only two things: doing enough objective homework to detect baloney when we hear it and voting to minimize the baloney. It would appear too many of us have abandoned our responsibility for both of these, choosing instead to see only information that supports the particular point of view we wish were true.
How can we complain if we, as citizens, concede to being bad bosses of those who should be working for us? We get exactly this. My appeal to you all — in every party — is to stop being the bad boss.
Craig Britton, Plymouth
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I couldn’t agree less with Stephen B. Young’s opinion piece (“Democrats’ case is ad hominem,” Jan. 30) that the impeachment trials are ad hominem. By definition, those kinds of attacks are against the person rather than that person’s argued positions or their actions. There certainly are ad hominem attacks on the president, which we see very often: negative observations about his weight, his hair, his speech mannerisms and so on. This trial is not about that. It is about the actions he has taken to benefit illegally and immorally by using the power of his office. This impeachment also addresses the evidence used to prove guilt. Ad hominem attacks in a trial would be arguing guilt based on appearance or other unrelated personal characteristics. Acceptable arguments refer to actual evidence, like eyewitnesses to an act (much like the actual evidence the president’s lawyers still withhold). A former law school dean like Young should know the difference.
Charles Underwood, Minneapolis
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Every Young column really has the same subject — the independent (and superior) thinking of Stephen B. Young. And they are all remarkably bad.
In the latest he states that the Democratic impeachment complaint “makes only an ad hominem argument,” that is, that the president is a bad person. This is wildly inaccurate, as Young probably knows.
The main complaint, clear from the very first, and not seriously denied even by the president’s defenders, is that he used his office to pressure a foreign government for a personal, political favor. It is specific and backed up by evidence. Nothing could be less “ad hominem.”
But at least Young reminded us that he went to Harvard! I almost forgot.
Paul Nelson, St. Paul
The place is poor. Ever ask why?
On Jan. 30, Star Tribune Opinion published an online commentary titled “Israel won the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and any peace plan has to reflect that.” In it, the author claimed, seemingly without any sense of irony, “The fact is that Israel has become a prosperous, modern, Western country, while Palestinians remain mired in poverty.” Can any serious person state that the Palestinians remain mired in poverty without then acknowledging that they are an occupied people under restrictive control by the state of Israel? How are people supposed to thrive when the occupier restricts travel and commerce? It would behoove the editorial staff to publish items that are at least somewhat tethered to both common sense and reality.
Joe Wenker, Minneapolis
Laws would be invasive and useless
Having served as an Anoka County election judge for 20 years, let me describe what an actual voter encounter with required ID would look like. As a Minnesota voter approached the poll book judge (the specific election judge tasked with verifying registration) they would be required to present an authorized picture ID to confirm their existing registration. Then the fun would begin!
The judge would be required to decide if the person standing before them is actually the person pictured on the ID. “Would you please remove your glasses? The person in this picture isn’t wearing glasses.” “Have you always had a mustache?” “The face pictured on this ID has many more wrinkles — have you had some work done?” “This picture is of a person with long hair, and you stand before me without any hair. ... I can’t verify that this is the same person! Chemotherapy? Please explain.”
If you believe these examples are extreme — that these would be unreasonable questions — then it is ridiculous to require ID if the “facts” listed on the documents are ignored. And with each embarrassing question the line of voters waiting for their personal inquisition grows longer and more impatient. And believe me, impatience is not uncommon with the present system. Many voters want to be in and out and back to work, or their children are impatient, or they are on their way to a doctor’s appointment. And this doesn’t even raise the possibility of fake ID. Not possible? Ask any bartender or check-cashing service.
My decades of experience working on Election Day have proven to me that Minnesota has an excellent system in place, yet some people can find boogeymen anywhere. For them I have a suggestion: Take the training and serve as an election judge. Walk the walk before you trash talk. Go through the hours of training. Work 16 hours on an Election Day. I’ll bet your county could use the help.
Todd Embury, Ramsey
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Like a case of bad gas, the discussion of voter ID is back, though it hasn’t been eight years since Minnesotans rejected a constitutional amendment requiring voters to show ID at the polls (“GOP renews push for voter ID,” Jan. 28). Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said the reason for the renewal is because he didn’t think it was “clear in people’s minds” just what they were trying to do.
Allow me to be as clear as the sky is blue on a sunny afternoon. The only purpose for voter ID laws is to suppress the vote, particularly at the expense of Democratic candidates. There are at least 10 states, all controlled by Republicans, that have in place stringent photo ID laws for voting. The laws are especially burdensome for minorities who are less likely than whites to possess the required identification. Take Kansas, for example. A study in 2014 by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found that the strict photo-ID laws in that state resulted 2% drop in all votes and a 4% decline among blacks, who disproportionately vote Democratic.
Voter impersonation risks five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. That’s a pretty stiff penalty for a fraudulent vote that would influence only those elections that are actually tied when all the votes are counted.
Maybe that would explain why the number of actual offenders is so minuscule. A study published in the Washington Post found that between 2000 and 2014, out of more than one billion votes cast, there were just 31 instances of impersonation fraud. That’s an occurrence of 0.0000031% of the time. You’d be more likely to be struck by lightning while being trampled to death by a runaway herd of two-humped camels who escaped from the Minnesota Zoo than find an incident of an individual impersonating another voter.
Stephen Monson, Golden Valley
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