We'd be 'bellicose,' too, if we were Israel


The Star Tribune editorial on Mitt Romney's foreign policy cautions the Republican candidate about getting too close to Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu because of Netanyahu's "bellicose" attitude toward Iran. When President John Kennedy put a naval blockade on Cuba because of a potential future threat of nuclear missiles, did anyone suggest that he was acting "bellicose" toward Cuba and the Soviet Union? Did anyone shrink from the possibility of a war with the Soviet Union to prevent such a danger to the United States? Why should we expect the Israelis to react differently? What a strange choice of a word to describe Netanyahu's concerns about the Iranian threat.


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Published argument promoted stereotypes


It's concerning that editors for the Star Tribune letters section would publish what appears to be thinly veiled racism in their chosen entries for the day. An Oct. 11 letter writer asks whether Minnesota wants to share standards with countries that recognize same-sex marriage or with countries that don't. But for the latter category, instead of listing countries like Belarus, Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland and Ukraine that have banned same-sex marriage in their constitutions without criminalizing same-sex behaviors, the writer offered a series of Muslim countries that have criminalized all same-sex behaviors, an entirely different and abhorrent practice. The question in front of Minnesota voters is not about criminalizing same-sex behaviors, but about a constitutional amendment recognizing the current definition of marriage. Why make such a comparison if the intent isn't to play on the negative stereotypes of Muslims and/or Middle Easterners that some Minnesotans might have?


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Don't let 'common sense' be a copout


Proponents of the voter ID amendment say it's just "common sense" to vote yes. I believe "common sense" asks us not to think much, to go from the gut. But what we really need is hard thinking and uncommonly good sense.

If the amendment is such a no-brainer, why does a recent poll suggest that nearly half of the people are against it? Second, why is there no bipartisan support? Third, where is the evidence that voter fraud is significant enough to threaten our elections? We hear instead that "integrity" -- or honesty -- is at stake. I'm not convinced, and would remind people that integrity also means wholeness, completeness.

We want elections to reflect the wishes of the majority of citizens. So, shouldn't we focus our efforts on maximizing voter turnout instead of impeding legal voters from exercising this right? In 2010, about 1.68 million Minnesotans did not cast their vote, even though legally entitled (United States Election Project) -- about 45 percent of eligible voters stayed home. Now that's a real threat to election integrity.

I agree with Reinhold Niebuhr: "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." The antidote to governmental abuse is democracy, and we need democracy at maximum strength. I don't see any "common sense" in surrendering a smidge of voting rights to a government that may be friendly now, but not so much in the future.


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Pick national leader with a national vote


Every other legitimate, sophisticated, nonparliamentary democracy in the world has direct election of its national leader. Many of those countries have states or provinces as we do, but they play no formal role in national leader elections and, in any case, the states and provinces don't have separate laws governing national elections, only local ones.

Laws governing presidential elections in the United States should pertain to all areas equally without regard to state borders. It may seem like they do now, but the debate over the Electoral College's existence ("Noncitizens could swing an election," Opinion Exchange, Oct. 9, and "Consider who can really swing the vote," Readers Write, Oct. 11)proves otherwise. If presidential elections (only) were held on a national scale with no inner borders, then the entire population would have an equal say and state size would mean nothing.

The only reason some argue for the continuation of the Electoral College is that their presidential candidates might not otherwise have a chance without moderating their views. Instead, they can rely on a few "safe" states and concentrate on a few "swing" states, an inherently unrepresentative system.


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The money's out there somewhere


I found the commentary "Minnesota Orchestra makes a stand" interesting, especially when it says, "We believe a great orchestra can flourish in the Twin Cities for the $26 million a year our community offers vs. the $32 million we now spend." One of the coauthors was Richard K. Davis, who chairs the Orchestra Board's negotiating team. That differential of $6 million is roughly equal to Davis' total compensation as CEO of U.S. Bancorp last year -- in ONE year (CEO Pay Watch, March 10). I appreciate his efforts to help keep this jewel in our midst, but is this irony lost on anyone?