THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE

A vote for McCain?

I know that the purpose of the editorial page is not to reunite old friends, but it does seem that's what last Sunday's "Readers Write" did for me.

A reader asserted that Sen. Hillary Clinton was the one to beat Sen. John McCain. The reader obviously felt that beating McCain in the general election was important, but she also went on to say that she would vote for McCain if Clinton did not receive the Democratic nomination.

I had an eureka moment when she went on to say she was over 50. She must be the girl who lived down the street when I was a boy. She was the one who also said she would take her ball and go home if we did not play her way.

MICHAEL BRADY, GOLDEN VALLEY

Unite, or else

I don't know where a May 11 letter writer gets her information that Barack Obama is less electable than Hillary Clinton. The way I see it, if the Democrats can remove their blinders and cross over and vote for the "other candidate" they should easily overwhelm the supporters of John McCain.

Perhaps most Democratic voters are "so blinded" by the "star power" of Clinton and Obama they cannot see that the differences between these two candidates are minimal compared to either's differences with McCain.

If Democrats can't see the importance of uniting, then I hope they can at least acknowledge it is their fault if we have four more years of "the same wealthy-focused and 'be scared' doctrines" as we've had for eight years now.

DAVID L. COUNCILMAN, ST. LOUIS PARK

WORLD HISTORY, POST-9/11

Calling Saddam's bluff

Steve Chapman's May 11 column states exactly why there is a divide between those who support and oppose our actions in Iraq. Chapman writes, "In the 12 years after the first Gulf War, we kept him [Saddam Hussein] in a box, where he was no threat to us or his neighbors." Reasonable people can disagree about that.

The immediate post-9/11 world required all known terrorists to be viewed as threats, period. Saddam Hussein was a terrorist. Besides his regime paying homicide bombers $25,000 to blow themselves up in public areas in Israel, it also hosted international terrorists, including well-credentialed terrorist Abu Nidal, in Baghdad. Further, the Iraqi military shot at U.S. and coalition aircraft nearly daily as they enforced no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq.

Saddam pretended to have weapons of mass destruction when he did not, and that required us to call his bluff.

To say that Saddam was not a threat to his neighbors, the Middle East region or the United States is to ignore history and reality.

Opponents to our actions in Iraq seem to have no interest in enforcing U.N. resolutions, nor do they accept the argument that Saddam was a menace to a region of the world that is vital to the United States and our allies.

PERRY NOUIS, LITTLE FALLS, MINN.;

LIEUTENANT COLONEL, USAF (RETIRED)

GRAND THEFT AUTO

Public safety at issue

You have printed two letters by guys in their 30s who claim that they are able to detach the fantasy or satire of Grand Theft Auto from their everyday lives. The flaw in the logic of these letters is two-fold: First, the concern over the game is not for guys in their 30s but for preteens and teenagers; and second, we should prefer objective studies rather than subjective first-person accounts when we make policy decisions.

Objective studies show that preteens and teenagers are often unable to understand such nuances as satire with the maturity of someone in his 30s, and they act out these games in real life with alarming regularity. It is simply a matter of public safety that we take more care in producing and distributing games like Grand Theft Auto.

JAMES MATHEWSON, Faribault, Minn.

Change at Hazelden

It's a good thing

Hazelden hires a CEO to reverse its slide in an increasingly competitive national treatment market.

The chair of Hazelden's Board says that CEOs who are brought in to manage change will meet resistance.

A key member of the management team is quoted as saying the changes were "necessary, challenging and inevitable."

Your May 11 front-page article states that after five short years, Hazelden's slide has been reversed in the following areas:

• The number of patients is growing.

•Donations are up.

•There's a new graduate school.

•A new women's center overlooks a lake on the bucolic campus.

That does not sound like a CEO who is "leaving an organization scrambling." That sounds like a CEO who is leaving a legacy!

JUDITH A. RUBIN, MINNEAPOLIS

The dedicated core

As a former employee of the Hazelden Foundation, I was disappointed that the Star Tribune's reporter chose to focus on the intrigue and dysfunction at the top of the organization.

Every day, the caring staff at Hazelden bring help and hope to people suffering from chemical dependency, and their families. These employees counsel, prepare meals, keep the buildings and grounds beautiful, run the operation, and create the environment needed for patients to get an opportunity to recover from the terrible disease of addition.

Executives and managers come and go -- there is nothing new about that part of the Hazelden story -- but the work of Hazelden continues, because of the working people in the organization, some of whom have labored there for decades.

HEATHER BJORK, GOLDEN VALLEY