Dinner, dessert, and years later detente
An April 23 letter criticizes President Obama for shaking hands with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela on the ground that Chavez is "a Communist, a dictator and a dirt bag."
Chavez makes a lot of unflattering comments about the United States, but he is not a dictator. He is the democratically elected president of a free country whose economic system is somewhere between capitalist and socialist.
In September 1959, at the height of the Cold War, President Dwight Eisenhower invited to the United States a foreign head of state. He not only shook his hand but even had dinner with him. The guest was Nikita Khrushchev. Now there was a dictator and a Communist! And what he had to say about the United States would have made Chavez sound like an amateur.
JOHN GOETZ, MINNEAPOLIS
How are we ever going to achieve world peace if we can't even share something as simple as a handshake?
JIM DAHLGREN, CRYSTAL
Financial misbehavior is a better target
I wish President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder would put as much time, energy and effort as they have spent in trying to prosecute our military establishment into investigating and prosecuting the members of Wall Street and Congress who conspired and profited off of the subprime lending fiasco. That would truly be the transparency and change we could believe in.
BILL WASTE, MINNEAPOLIS
FLYING WHILE OVERWEIGHT
Base ticket price on
the space occupied
Like Gail Rosenblum, whose April 23 column defends the right of obese people to pay for only one seat on airlines, I sympathize with those who are extremely overweight. I have obese friends and had an obese relative who was one of the most wonderful people in the world. She died at 38 due to a heart attack.
If airlines charge half price for those occupying two seats, they should not place anyone in one of these seats that are already occupied. They paid for a full seat.
I fly often and fortunately I rarely have a middle seat. But I recently sat beside a lady who was able to squeeze between the armrests but a substantial amount of her body spilled over into my space. She had to get a seat-belt extension from the flight attendant. Fortunately, the person on my other side didn't mind sharing his space with me.
Which is more fair, charging someone for the space they occupy or smothering the unfortunate passenger seated beside them who paid full fare? Although I sympathize with overweight people, most had at least a 100-pound warning of their pending handicap.
ANTHONY DICKENSON, BURNSVILLE
DEFINITION OF EXTREMIST
At heart, it starts with an illegal action
In response to the April 22 letter "The New Terrorists": The writer is only an extremist if he plans to take a gun he purchased with money he accumulated from evading taxes to shoot up immigrants hired illegally by a caterer providing food at a gay wedding reception because he's angry at Barack Obama for creating this economic hole in his first 100 days.
MALCOLM BAKER, MINNEAPOLIS
Outrageous, and board colleagues are complicit
Minneapolis School Board Member Chris Stewart has demonstrated his destructive character to the public once again ("Principal on leave after words with Minneapolis board member," April 21). Unfortunately, resignation or expiration of term are the only remedies available to voters when an elected official turns rogue.
However, it would be very difficult to create a situation like this one if other board members and administrators were not enabling Stewart by either encouraging him or ignoring him. In either case, Stewart's defective character has already been shown publicly. His unfitness for office is obvious. If his colleagues tolerate his behavior and do not seek his resignation, they are as disgraceful as Stewart himself.
This is an outrageous episode in an already terrible and costly story of ongoing incompetence and self-righteousness. The school board and the senior administrative leadership need to go. Now.
ANN BERGET, MINNEAPOLIS; FORMER MEMBER OF THE MINNEAPOLIS SCHOOL BOARD