Nick Coleman recently profiled Afghan war veteran Jason Meszaros, who is encouraging other veterans to "step forward and continue their service" by participating in precinct caucuses on Feb. 5 (column, Jan. 24).

Through other grass-roots efforts, such as the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs Warrior to Citizen Campaign, individuals, organizations and communities are recognizing the talents of veterans and asking them to serve again in civic, community, faith, and political life. Finding ways to engage recent veterans can help the reintegration process. It is also a call to all of us, as citizens, to engage in community problem-solving and other public work -- including precinct caucuses.

ELLEN TVEIT, ST. PAUL; COMMUNICATIONS AND PARTNERSHIP COORDINATOR, CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY AND CITIZENSHIP, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

Crowd for Romney? Not compared with Obama

Your Feb. 3 headline in Sunday's paper could not have been more misleading. When it states that "20,000 cheer on Obama; overflow crowd greets Romney," a reader would assume that both candidates attracted large numbers of followers. That is unless they read the accompanying article which states that Mitt Romney "made his pitch to a crowd of several hundred people."

A crowd is a crowd? I don't think so.

BRUCE GOLOB, MINNEAPOLIS

An independent mind for McCain

The candidate who routinely puts what is best for the United States ahead of party politics is John McCain. His experience demonstrates environmental respect, economic expertise and understanding of foreign affairs.

McCain's career of public service, positive vision, willingness to be a party maverick and his patriotism are respected by Republicans, Democrats and independents alike. For example, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Rudy Giuliani and Govs. Tim Pawlenty and Schwarzenegger endorse McCain.

I believe McCain would lead us all toward energy independence, environmental stewardship and enhanced national security. He also values Israel's right to exist as the only democracy in the Middle East. Knowing that independent-minded voters are important, I'll support McCain at the caucuses on Tuesday.

BRIAN H. DAVIS, ST. PAUL

Maybe electorate will have spine

Attorney General Michael Mukasey could not bring himself to define waterboarding as torture in Senate testimony last week, albeit he says it would feel like torture if performed on him.

I wonder how a person without a spine can feel anything. Mukasey said he would not pass judgment on waterboarding. And then Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., says U.S. interrogation by torture is not widespread.

Conservatives keep returning to the notion that a little torture is OK. The Bush administration has corrupted our government. Thankfully, we all will have an opportunity to pass judgment in November.

PAUL ABELN, BLOOMINGTON

Unlike Kersten, a message of support and inclusion

As a recent University of Minnesota graduate, I read with disappointment Katherine Kersten's latest attack on a group that holds a different viewpoint than her own (column, Jan. 27).

The bottom line with "Kinky U" is that it is a student-run, student-led and student-funded (albeit very minimally) group that holds discussions on topics in a safe space environment where otherwise none would exist save for the darkest corners of the Web. It is a shame that given Kersten's resources and obvious interest in the educational system, she chooses to sensationalize a small group like this instead of focusing her efforts on the real problems in today's educational system.

I applaud the members of "Kinky U" and similar groups who continue their message of support and inclusion in spite of the efforts of people like Kersten.

VINCENT STAUPE, SAN FRANCISCO

Clearly, Lewis is in economic denial

I thought Jason Lewis' Jan. 26 article was a pathetic attempt to excuse the dismal economic performance under the Bush administration.

If tax cuts are such a great way to stimulate the economy why did the national debt increase by about 35 percent? Why is GDP growth down and the deficit up? Why has job creation decreased? Why has median income gone down? Why is productivity stagnating and why is the dollar losing so much of its value? I suppose Lewis thinks that this is all the Democrats' fault.

MARK KIRWIN, MINNEAPOLIS