Swing states? Look beyond the presidency


The Oct. 6 editorial cartoon suggested that the only states that matter during this campaign season are the swing states in the presidential election. In reality, the U.S. Senate is up for grabs, too, and the swing states in that campaign include Massachusetts, Connecticut, North Dakota, Montana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia, Nebraska, Nevada, Indiana and Maine (where an independent looks likely to win but has not said who he will caucus with). Only Wisconsin, Nevada and Virginia are in both swing-state categories, since Florida and Ohio's Senate incumbents look like they will win. In Minnesota, where it's likely that President Obama and Amy Klobuchar will win, there is still that Eighth Congressional District and legislative elections that will be close. In other words, elections still matter in states that are not presidential swing states.


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An Oct. 9 article says Hugo Chavez won reelection in Venezuela based on his "strong socialist policies."

Why can we sit here and state that Chavez's policies are socialistic (which they are) and then people in the United States turn a blind eye to Obama's policies, not calling them socialistic (which they are)? A society can't survive by continuing to "take from the rich and give to the poor." When you do that, you eventually get to the society that Marx, Castro and others have tried unsuccessfully to create.


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Mitt Romney's recent foreign-policy speech seemed to channel Ronald Reagan and was very good, in my opinion. It caused me to reflect on Obama's foreign policy, and only one conclusion can be drawn: America is weaker in the world. Look at our near neighbors -- we slap Canada in the face by denying the Keystone Pipeline, and our Mexican immigration policies are not effective. In the Middle East, our embassies and assets in 20 nations are being attacked, with their people chanting "Obama, Obama, we are all Osama" and "Death to America."

Obama tells the Russia's Vladimir Putin secretly that he will have more flexibility after the election to meet Putin's needs in missile defense in Europe. Iran neither fears nor respects America and busily completes its nuclear weapons. North Korea mocks us and fires missiles over Japan, yet takes our money. Worst of all, as stated by Hillary Clinton, "our crushing national debt weakens us in the world."

Our weakened financial position severely limits our military options. Obama urges Europe to borrow money to create stimulus plans; Europe says "fix your own house." We watch China forge ahead on all fronts and we do little to assert our former world leadership. America is weaker under Obama's leadership.


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Iago would have admired Mitt Romney's slick debate performance last week, but Minnesotans should be not just skeptical but downright scared by his poisonous vision for us. His party's reason for existence and wealth lies in its fanatic intention to replace the progressively structured income tax with a flat tax -- and to shift spending for "social programs" to state and local taxpayers.

If you have recently been beat up by what Republican politicians in Minnesota have accomplished so far to shift the cost of government away from the individual and corporate income tax and onto brutally regressive flat property taxes levied against people's houses and apartments (as opposed to being levied against property such as brokerage accounts, trust funds, business equity, patents, limousines, yachts, jets and art collections, for instance) then you won't likely admire what Mr. Romney promises to do to the United States.


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Hidden in the Oct. 8 Business section was news that the gap between the rich and the poor in this country continues to widen, to the largest disparity in four decades. Author and economist Joseph Stiglitz ("The Price of Inequality") and retired American Airlines CEO Bob Crandall both warn us that the income inequality on the scale existing today threatens democracy. The American Dream is dying, and under a Romney administration, with a Republican-controlled Congress, I fear the final death knell will sound.


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At minimum, restrict access consistently


If you shop at a store that sells both liquor and tobacco, there's probably a notice that it's OK to buy tobacco if you're 18, but that you have to wait until 21 to buy liquor.

With repeated use, the first product is almost assuredly addictive, and chances are great that continued use will lead to illness and premature death.

With repeated use, the other product can also be addictive, although that's not as likely. Still, if the latter addiction occurs, it is an illness itself, and can lead to early death. On the other hand, if that product is used properly, it can actually protect the heart and lengthen life. The first item doesn't have that potential.

Of course, addicts for either are a threat to the well-being of others around them.

After considering all the above, a legitimate question arises. Why aren't both items restricted to people over 21?


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Note to rhetoricians: It's a big country, too


As a dual citizen of Canada and the United States, I am disheartened by the increasing use of some of my fellow countrymen to support American political purposes. Republican ads feature "a Canadian" (Shona Holmes, real or fictional) complaining that the health care system is dangerous. Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt apparently invited "a Canadian" to speak for Canadians view on the impact of same-sex marriage in my country.

Just as here in the United States, one man or woman does not speak for Canada. My healthy and happy parents, Jim and Audrey Johnstone (87 and 85), living in Port Perry, Ontario, are proud and pleased with their health care and hope that Obamacare will be as good for me and my children. They are also proud of their Canadian stand on civil rights for all citizens, including marriage between persons of the same sex. So here's a headline: Canadians love health care! Canadians love love!