THEY WOULD BE PRESIDENT

Representing us abroad

We have just suffered through 18 months of political rhetoric and have picked a very junior senator, not an expert on foreign affairs, over the wife of an impeached president. Another party has a 71-year-old senator trying to distance himself from the sitting president.

Are we to believe these folks are the best of the best we Americans have to offer for the highest office in the land?

I have always, arguably, thought a trained ape could run domestic programs for the country. Where a real difference can be made is a person elected president who can carry our colors in foreign affairs. I hope that's not to much to ask for.

EDWARD F. BATE JR., BLOOMINGTON

EXAGGERATED EVIDENCE

Two from GOP agree

The Senate Intelligence Committee, composed of eight Democrats and seven Republicans, concluded that the Bush administration greatly exaggerated evidence in order to invade Iraq. I'm shocked! Shocked, that two Republicans had the courage and integrity to agree with the conclusion.

DOUG WILLIAMS, ROBBINSDALE

STATE REVENUE, SERVICE

Out of balance

While David Strom and Brian McClung may not like it, the report from Minnesota 2020 is correct in noting that Minnesota's economic performance has declined substantially following our state's shift toward lower relative government spending ("Report: 'Less investment, less return,'" June 5). It's also important to remember that throughout our many previous years as a "high revenue/high service" state, our economy consistently outperformed the national norm.

All of this is completely contrary to the theory espoused by the "no new taxes" crowd, to whom it is axiomatic that lower taxes must always be better for the economy. These people don't seem to recognize the need to balance the costs taxes extract from the economy against the benefits provided to the economy by the things those taxes pay for, such as an educated workforce and efficient transportation infrastructure. We should seek to find the optimal balance between costs and benefits to maximize our long-term economic performance.

SCOTT T. PETERSON, ST. PAUL

SENIORS' LAST HURRAH

Learn from the error

I support Bloomington High School officials in their response to the three young men involved in the Confederate flag incident.

I understand the inclination of high school seniors to pull an outrageous, rebellious prank as they are about to graduate. I remember it well. The trouble here is that these three chose a rule violation that is very hurtful to so many people who are directly affected by the symbolic significance of the Confederate flag today and very offensive to many more who understand that symbol in terms of racial bias.

The defense of "appreciating the Southern lifestyle" is transparent, and admiration of the television show ("Dukes of Hazzard," which was canceled from network TV well before 17- and 18-year-olds were born) is not credible. These statements insult the intelligence of the three seniors themselves.

Whether or not the three are racist is not the issue. Whether or not they "get to walk" with their classmates isn't so critical. That they willingly used a public symbol so painful and hurtful to others for their last hurrah in high school is what concerns me. It is what they learn from this mistake that is important.

PATTY FEALA, MINNEAPOLIS

A safer choice

If you want to embrace the Southern lifestyle, try a cowboy hat and some grits.

J. TODD EMBURY, RAMSEY

MINNESOTA FISH DINNERS

Endangered species?

Your June 4 article about yet another chemical contaminating Minnesota's fish is disheartening news. First we had to worry about PCBs, then mercury, and now a new chemical, PFCs (the 3M chemical), is limiting how much and how often we can eat certain fish.

How sad one of the most healthy forms of protein has been contaminated by yet another chemical. Unfortunately this growing list of chemical contaminants will continue unless Minnesota changes how it regulates and manufactures chemicals.

We need new policies that will protect our health and environment and green chemistry that creates safe chemicals. Unless we change, Minnesota will become the land of 10,000 lakes we can't eat fish from.

PAUL ESCH, WOODBURY

BIG STONE II POWER PLANT

Build it, and it will hum

It doesn't seem to be a big problem to decide on whether the Big Stone power plant should be built. If we need the electricity, build the plant and run the wires.

If we don't build, what happens in a couple of years when local people in western Minnesota want to build a home or open a new business and are told by Otter Tail or the other power companies that they cannot hook up to their service because no more power is available? They will be told to install their own little generators to light up their homes or businesses. Of course then the power plant will be built with the huge delay causing serious economic problems. It's undeniable that we will need more electricity now and in the future. Everyone replacing their lightbulbs will not make the problem go away!

HAROLD OLSON, MINNEAPOLIS