The Democrats are calling out the Republican administration over communications with Russia that may have included the issue of current and future sanctions (“Trump told of Flynn deceit weeks ago,” Feb. 15). National intelligence is secretive by nature, and this whole situation should certainly not be broadcast and vetted in our media, most focused on “fake news” sensationalism these days.

Remember that President Barack Obama was basically given an embarrassing pass for his blunder with the departing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. During his re-election campaign on a Russian visit, Obama was caught reassuring Medvedev that he would set things right if re-elected, not realizing that his microphone was never turned off, for all the world to hear. Subsequently, Vladimir Putin undertook major initiatives that took advantage of the weakly perceived Obama administration: Crimea, Ukraine, Syria, Iran, etc. Michael Flynn is gone as President Trump’s national security adviser, and it is time to move on, placing our confidence in the strong administration we chose for years to come.

Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis

• • •

With the Democratic National Committee e-mails, it was all about the hackers and almost nothing about the content of the hacks. Fast-forward three months and look at the Flynn/Trump Russian issue. With the press and the Democrats, it seems to be totally about the content and nothing to do with the leaking of this information, which could very well be illegal, depending on who, what, where and when. Who leaked what is totally relevant to the investigation of this matter.

James (Jim) E. Cabak, Plymouth

• • •

If Americans want to really see what is going on in the radical and consistently dishonest Trump White House, they need to look past, and not be blinded by, the flash-bang grenades. Two have been inflicted on us so far; one orchestrated to cause chaos (the unvetted immigration and refugee ban) and one that leaked out due to its brazen stupidity (Flynn’s and undoubtedly others’ collusion with our enemies before taking office). Do not fixate on what the media will show you in three-minute segments as it slowly unravels the obvious. Instead look for the long game, and see the machinations behind it. Many expert and honest people, including long-term principled conservatives, military and security veterans are warning you about it, if you choose to listen. There is an unprecedented rate of criticism and alarm.

Certainly there is a plan, and to hide it this administration will regularly distract you by the obvious, but so far effective, tactics of 1) blaming the media, 2) calling nonbelievers haters, 3) sending out fast-talking and angry spokespeople pointing anywhere else but behind them, 4) calling those in their group who get caught red-handed independent actors of which they, incredibly, had no knowledge. These are standard tactics for distracting citizens, but they’re occurring at an unprecedented rate. Judge both the transparency and depth of the explanations. Note how often you are told that the leaders are both strong and in charge, yet ignorant of incredible behavior in their group. They are clearly banking on P.T. Barnum’s wisdom: You can fool some of the people all of the time.

If you really want to believe in the honesty and sincerity of this administration, despite the astounding amount of evidence, are you in that group?

David Paulson, Minnetonka

CONGRESS

Trump’s taxes, and discussion of Paulsen and Franken, continued

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen and the rest of the Republicans on the House Ways and Means committee voted against requiring President Trump to reveal his tax returns. Sen. Rand Paul says it “makes no sense” for Republicans to investigate their own party. And yet, as the Star Tribune’s Feb. 14 editorial points out, “it is time for the American public to know exactly what is going on between the Trump administration and a longtime adversary of this nation.”

Exactly. I urge all readers to call their members of Congress right now — especially if they are Republican — and tell them we need to know what the president’s conflicts of interest are and where his loyalties lie.

There aren’t enough Democratic votes to do the job, so it’s up to the Republicans. Please call.

Elizabeth Halvorson, Deephaven

• • •

Issue needs to be taken with the Feb. 14 letter supportive of the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s endorsement last fall of Paulsen’s re-election (“Yes, he earned endorsement and reputation as independent”).

The congressman’s legislation combating human trafficking and recovering missing children, cited in the letter, are no-brainers. It should be just as obvious for Paulsen to help get handguns and assault weapons off the streets and expand voting rights, which his Republican colleagues have continued to suppress. There are a host of issues needing to be discussed at town hall forums, but so far over the years, the five-term congressman has refused to engage constituents in such meaningful encounters. By contrast, his retired nine-term predecessor, Jim Ramstad, held as many as three or four town hall forums each year throughout our Third District.

I am reminded of the inscription on the old Minneapolis Auditorium, which read: “Participation in the rights of citizenship presumes participation in the duties of citizenship.” Many of us are continuously finding time to take our citizenship duties seriously and will not be thwarted even by a representative who is reluctant to listen and share in a town hall setting.

Kai Laybourn, Bloomington

• • •

Humor is serious business. A lot of jokes display real intellect. When one uses it wisely, as U.S. Sen. Al Franken does, humor has many functions (“Dignity of his office should have meant no backsliding to comedy,” Readers Write, Feb. 14). A visit to the lighter side doesn’t change the situation, but it can help us cope with the scary things coming from President Trump’s office, such as making us all afraid of each other. Franken is so skillful that even his fundraising letters make me smile. I imagine the Feb. 14 letter writer wants Trump to be Trump. I say: “Let Franken be Franken!”

Marty Rossmann, St. Paul

THE OPINION PAGES

What makes for an editorial cartoon that best serves readers?

The Star Tribune is blessed with one of the best political cartoonists in the business — the highly acclaimed Steve Sack. He serves up a regular dose of thoughtful art that elicits a wide variety of responses — disgust, pity, gut-busting laughter. What makes his cartoons successful is that they are based on actual facts from the news.

With that lofty standard, why would the Star Tribune waste Opinion Exchange space on pictorial claptrap like the Feb. 14 cartoon by Michael Ramirez? “Unvetted immigration”? Excuse me? The New York Times recently laid out the gantlet that would-be immigrants must navigate. It includes 20 steps — various interviews, background checks, fingerprinting, etc. Maybe that is why Trump’s campaign demand for “extreme vetting” does not so easily translate into actual policy. The unavoidable fact is this: Vetting is already extreme.

Printing fearmongering material like Ramirez’s scary dice-roll just perpetuates the misinformation that fueled Trump’s campaign and continues to motivate certain policy choices. Surely the Star Tribune can find better material for Sack’s off-days than outrageous drawings based on “alternative facts.”

Michael W. Murphy, St. Paul

• • •

The Feb. 7 issue had an editorial cartoon that was a refreshing change from those created by Sack. Mr. Sack is definitely very talented, but is also very left-leaning. Even when there has been buffoonery by the left, he has seldom taken advantage of the opportunity. Fellow readers will agree that this newspaper has become more left than right, even though owned by a Republican. The Feb. 7 editorial cartoon by Dana Summers suggested that Atlanta Falcon fans could behave like Democrats disappointed by Hillary Clinton’s defeat, and “cry and whine and protest … maybe burn a college campus!”

Wayne Dokken, Robbinsdale