I was beyond disappointed to see the Star Tribune publish James Lileks’ Sept. 14 column, “Let’s play Flu Shot Roulette yet again.” Since Mr. Lileks didn’t bother to report actual data on last year’s deadly influenza (the flu) season, let me briefly share what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has widely reported. One hundred seventy-two children died from the flu last year — 172. That is the most in any single, nonpandemic flu season ever. And 80 percent of those children were unvaccinated.

Every day in clinic I have parents refuse to vaccinate their children because of pseudoscience pieces like Lileks’. It may seem harmless to some, but these ideas that the flu shot doesn’t work not only persist but continue to cost healthy children and teens their lives. I expect parody on serious topics from sources like the Onion. As a subscriber to the Star Tribune, I expect journalism about science to be based in science. The flu is no joking matter.

Dr. Nathan Chomilo, Minneapolis

The writer is a pediatrician and internist.


Everywhere you look, political double standards

Christine Blasey Ford has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault that supposedly occurred more than 36 years ago with very vague details including lack of date, place it occurred and who may have been present. Yet many Democratic leaders believe her without question and tell us that we should do the same.

On the flip side, Democrats have elected U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison to run for Minnesota attorney general, and he holds the No. 2 position on the Democratic National Committee. Ellison has been accused of assault by his ex-girlfriend.

Democrats still hold the Clintons in high regard despite the numerous claims of sexual assault against Bill Clinton while he was governor of Arkansas and, of course, his well-documented affair with Monica Lewinsky, his intern, less than half his age, while he was president. Hillary Clinton verbally attacked all of his victims, yet she was selected by the Democrats to run for president and remains a major voice for their party.

Are only women who accuse Republicans, not Democrats, to be believed?

Patrick Ropella, Mason City, Iowa

• • •

Do supporters of President Donald Trump perceive the irony of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process? Because of sexual allegations, the confirmation is delayed and there is a possibility it could be denied. Yet, these same supporters continue to support Trump despite allegations by 15 women of sexual misconduct, the Hollywood tape on which Trump brags about groping women at his leisure, and denials by Trump of his sexual relations with porn star Stormy Daniels and his 10-month liaison with Karen McDougal, a former Playboy playmate.

It’s ironic that Trump could get elected despite the sexual allegations, yet Kavanaugh could be denied confirmation because of sexual allegations. Could these contradictions cause those who voted for Trump and continue to support him to pause and reconsider their allegiance to him? Not!

Kent Nelson, Sartell, Minn.

• • •

I agree that in both the Kavanaugh and Ellison situations, a hearing should be given to the accusers and the accused. Having said that, the situations are entirely different. In the Ellison case, millions of Minnesotans can decide by vote if he deserves to represent us. In the Kavanaugh case, 50 mostly white, elderly men will make that decision for 350 million Americans. Many of these elderly men will not be here to reap the benefits or suffer the consequences of their decision, one that could affect a generation of Americans. Which situation should be carefully vetted and not rushed to a conclusion?

Richard Raser, Savage

• • •

The Star Tribune has a double standard when it downsizes, or should I say “buries,” the article about Ellison’s alleged abuse next to the Thursday obituaries (“Keith Ellison accuser posts 2017 medical document”). Yet any conservative politician is smoked out on the front pages. Should we be investigating the editor of the Star Tribune for bias? Keep checking the obituaries, people.

Michelle Peterson, Plymouth

• • •

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley asserts that to take the time needed for an FBI investigation of the charges of sexual assault lodged by Ford against Kavanaugh would be a “disservice to the American people.” Has anyone asked Grassley to describe the nature of this disservice? How is doing the best we can to discern the full truth about a person being considered for a lifetime appointment to take part in decisions that will have a profound impact upon our nation, and the lives of American citizens for generations to come, a disservice?

Further, could Grassley please distinguish between this “disservice” and the disservice imposed on the American people by leaving a Supreme Court vacancy open for almost a year, refusing to even interview a well-qualified candidate nominated by President Barack Obama? The only difference I can see is in which president made the nomination. This is a flagrant politicization of the role of the Supreme Court, as established within the system of checks and balances so thoughtfully designed by our founding forbears.

Arthur Dorman, St. Paul

• • •

With a passed polygraph test, and an account of her accusation on record in several different ways and many years before this, Ford’s story has credibility well beyond the proverbial “he says, she says” stalemate. But that does not preclude the possibility that Kavanaugh might also be telling the truth if he claimed to have no memory of any such incident.

That’s what makes the need for a reopened FBI background check such a critical component in ascertaining the likely truth of the matter.

Kavanaugh’s drinking back in the day is a matter of record that he not only doesn’t deny but actually jokes about in yearbook entries. If classmates and friends were put under oath during an FBI interview, there is no telling what might be learned of such episodes. And if it turns out the judge was known to sometimes drink to the point of not remembering how he wound up somewhere, or what all he might have done while so intoxicated, then the only thing he can honestly assert with any certainty is that he has no memory of such an incident.

And that’s a big difference from emphatically declaring it never happened.

John Frost, St. Paul

• • •

Nearly 40 years ago, I was sexually assaulted by a stranger at a party at a family member’s house. I chose to stay overnight rather than driving after a night of drinking. The perpetrator, a friend of someone at the party, sneaked into my bedroom while I was asleep. I was able to fend him off after screaming and fighting back, but the event haunted me for a very long time. I can remember the person’s name, face, the location and many other facts of the event. Can I tell you the date? No, because that is not burnished into my memory. Only the parts that made it terrifying imprinted themselves.

To say that Ford is lying because she is unable to recall the night of the alleged assault is ludicrous. It demonstrates ignorance of the impacts of sexual assault on the victims. The fact that this allegedly took place when Kavanaugh was a young man is also beside the point. If we are to forgive violent acts committed at the age of 17, the doors of prison cells should be opening across the country. The Senate should be demanding the highest code of conduct for a member of the Supreme Court. After all, Sen. Al Franken stepped aside for a less serious transgression.

Susan Barrett, Mora, Minn.