Hurricane Center on the mark, saves lives


Amid the storm coverage, I have seen no credit given to the National Hurricane Center's phenomenally accurate forecast of Sandy's peril. Speaking as a meteorologist, I can tell you that without the center's complex and expensive computer models, Sandy would have been regarded as just another minimal hurricane headed out to sea. The intensification of the storm, its unprecedented size and, most important, its sudden, anomalous left turn directly toward the most populous part of the country was forecast five days in advance. Such accuracy undoubtedly saved hundreds of lives and prevented hundreds of millions in property damage.


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Mitt Romney made this statement during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention: "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans. And to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family."

Romney's point was to mock President Obama and the consensus among scientists about climate change. Fast-forward now to Hurricane Sandy. I dare Romney to repeat these phrases.


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How will our presidential election be impacted by Sandy? Predictions vary. But what if we had no Electoral College? With voting potentially suppressed in the Democrat stronghold, lower turnout could cost Obama many popular votes and elect Romney with a majority of the national vote, thanks to voting in the undamaged South, Midwest and Mountain states.

But popular votes totals are not what counts, so long as the Electoral College exists. A majority of only a few votes cast in a devastated blue state would be sufficient to send that state's entire Electoral College total to Obama. Therefore this election could flip the result of 2000, when a Democrat won the popular vote but the Republican won the Electoral College vote.

Imagine both Democrats and Republicans beginning this century cheated of a national victory by the Electoral College. More important, the majority of voters will have been cheated in two of the century's first four presidential elections. Then these trick-or-treat elections should become as unpopular as they are antipopular and we will amend our Constitution to decide elections more reliably and sensibly on the popular vote.


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Let's express the deficit in terms we can grasp


Both major political parties profess great concern for our children and grandchildren. How concerned are they, really? Conservatives stand on "no new taxes" and liberals counter with "no spending reductions." Unfortunately, the truth is we have promised ourselves more than we can deliver. Our government has continued (and accelerated) its deficit spending. Do we really comprehend the nature and scope of these deficits?

The projected federal deficit for 2012 is $1.2 trillion. Let's put that big number in perspective with a paradigm shift. The IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis has an assessed value of $177.6 million. Therefore, the Treasury must borrow additional funds this year equal to what would be necessary to purchase 6,756 IDS Centers. That is the value of 134 such buildings in each of the 50 states. That is in just one year.

Since Americans cannot fathom paying for their own lives and indulgences, we need to change the paradigm, so that instead of vague references to an incomprehensible trillion-dollar annual federal deficit, Minnesotans see their children being buried each year under another 134 IDS Centers. This is no longer a debate. It is a financial and moral disaster.


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With less than a week to the election, the toll of this year's process has been great. Almost everyone I talk to discusses the fatigue of having to endure countless ads on television (most demeaning and negative), the unending volume of flyers and phone calls, and the continued effort to discern facts from fibs, substance from stupid, and serious intent from games and shenanigans. Being an informed voter in a democracy is hard enough without all these other distractions and outright efforts to deceive.

It is reported (Oct. 31) that super PACs and nonprofits have spent $840 million dollars thus far on the election. It appears that Republicans have benefited most from the Citizens United case, because $350 million has been spent in support of Romney and $100 million in support of Obama. Given the closeness of the race, it is clear that money has played an enormous role in influencing voters.

Add to that the reports of voter misinformation being distributed in Florida, Virginia and Indiana and outright efforts to intimidate minority voters in Ohio and Wisconsin, and you get a disgusting picture of an election process that is in serious need of reform.


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Barnes in Third, Nolan in Eighth


U.S. Erik Paulsen has voted with his colleague Michele Bachmann 93 percent of the time. Do you agree with Bachmann 93 percent of the time? If no, then the Third Congressional District has a great option with Brian Barnes, despite the Star Tribune Editorial Board's endorsement of Paulsen. Barnes served our country as a military officer and has protected American manufacturing jobs as a business executive here in Minnesota. We deserve a moderate, bipartisan representative. Barnes is it, Paulsen is not.


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No matter what Minnesota district a candidate is in, voting with the current conservative crowd is not good for a state and for the nation. So Chip Cravaack instead of Rick Nolan (editorial, Oct. 29)? To say that "Cravaack needs to cast an adult vote next time" is to give him latitude he doesn't deserve. To report that "he's willing to listen" to union leaders is not to report that he has listened and is doing what labor needs to get done. And to let him get by with living so far away from his district? Not a good move by the Editorial Board to endorse this Republican. Don't soft-soap it, if that's what it is, in order to make your Republican subscribers pleased for awhile.