A worrisome trend

Reading and watching the news leaves me in one of two states: despair or hilarity. The latest instance is the media's microscopic scrutiny of any Barack Obama misstep on his foreign journeys while ignoring his opponent's periodic and predictable blunders.

The latest comedic bit is Sen. John McCain's reference to the terrorists on the Iraq and Pakistan border (Iraq and Pakistan don't share a border). While this man has proven repeatedly that he has no grasp of geopolitics, it's also painfully obvious that neither do American media.



A Park Board miscue

The installation of the Red Bull Illume photography exhibit on the Stone Arch Bridge was the Minneapolis Park Board's bonehead play of the year ("Park Board erred in closing bike route," July 20).

Pedestrians, dogs and bicyclists had to compete for extremely narrow passage lanes. And when one of the panes shattered, yellow police tape cordoned off 25 percent of the remaining space, making travel even more hazardous.

What a mess! We don't have enough wide open green space in our parks system for projects like this. I'd love to have heard the commissioners' arguments in favor of tying up the Stone Arch Bridge for more than 10 days in the middle of summer.



Not that good

The veteran supporting John McCain featured in the July 22 article "Come November, which candidate will the veterans salute?" served this country proudly, as did Sen. McCain. Their service and sacrifice were admirable.

But to say that is the only barometer to serve in the White House is absurd. And to say that you have to have served in the military to be elected president is also absurd. George W. Bush was in the military -- well, kind of -- and where are we eight years later?

Let us not forget where McCain has stood on veterans benefits.

• When it came time to vote on Sen. Jim Webb's GI Bill, he was AWOL.

• Last September, he voted against another Webb bill that would have mandated adequate rest for troops between combat deployments.

• He voted no on a badly needed $1.5 billion increase for veterans medical services and for establishing a trust fund to bolster underbudgeted veterans hospitals.

• In 2006, he voted against a $20 billion allotment for expanding swamped veterans medical facilities, an amendment to provide $430 million for veterans outpatient care.

• In 2004, he voted against and helped defeat on a party-line vote a $1.8 billion reserve for veterans medical care.

McCain has been sadly talking the talk about his appreciation for veterans, but he's been a little slack on walking the walk.



It's only a quarter

I read with interest some of the complaints at the open hearing on a possible transit fare hike. Most amusing was the individual who stated that if the fare goes up a quarter she might as well drive.

I'm not sure what kind of math she is using or what year's gas prices she is factoring in (obviously not this year's), but her statement made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Other equally nonsensical complaints included not being able to get to work, that the Metropolitan Transit Commission is a government entity so it can't just raise prices, and that "the MTC is taking food off of my table."

Let's face facts. For an average five-day-a-week commuter we are talking about $2.50 -- just slightly more than a half gallon of gas. If you take the bus more often than that, as I do, buying the 31-day unlimited ride card will save quite a bit as opposed to paying cash for every ride.

The bottom line is that the bus and light rail are infinitely cheaper than driving every day and everywhere. And it is far and away better for our environment than autos, which is something everyone should take into account.



His home: The IP

The author of a July 19 letter was wrong about Dean Barkley running as an independent.

If the author knew anything about the Independence Party, he would know that most of our supporters have no party affiliation. These voters outnumber those who do have some party affiliation in Minnesota. And some of them also consider themselves members of the IP.

The IP exists to provide ballot access for all independent candidates in Minnesota. And Dean Barkley is certainly one of them.



Don't blame gaming

A July 19 letter writer ("Getting boys to read/Blame video games") claims that the reason that reading rates for boys have dropped while those for girls have risen is that boys play "graphic and violent video games," while girls apparently do not.

This is a common and fiercely ignorant sentiment shared by many who have obviously never played a video game in their life. I challenge the letter writer to play a video game without reading at all. Video games have instructions to read, menus to navigate and choices to select. If anything, the problem is violent movies, which offer no reading at all, and can be much more violent than video games.

And don't forget the final piece of evidence countering the letter writer's claim: I love playing video games. I am 13 years old. And I am a boy. And, yet I somehow managed to open up the front page of the Star Tribune, read all the way to the opinion section, make it through that letter, get on the computer and write and send a response. And for those of you who think I'm the exception, try actually talking to a young gamer.



A waste of money

Can somebody tell me why the Republicans and Democrats are spending money on conventions that are for the most part meaningless? Couldn't that money be better spent on something useful?

It is going to cost millions for these conventions when the candidates have already been chosen! Talk about a huge waste of money and resources! Just so a bunch of delegates can have a drunken party! In this time of everyone tightening their belts to make ends meet, why are the parties doing this?