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It's not that Matt Birk is the worst example of this campaign tactic. It's just that his quote in Thursday's paper caught my eye and caused it to roll ("Opposite visions steer running mates," Oct. 6). He criticizes Gov. Tim Walz's handling of the pandemic by saying, "You came into our houses. You messed with our kids. You messed with our churches." If Birk had been addressing the virus itself, that would have made sense. It was the pandemic, not the governor, that invaded our homes and disrupted our lives in small and horrendous ways.

It is so easy, boring and wrongheaded to heap blame on incumbent officeholders for every grievance we might have. As if any one of them has the power to lower the price of groceries, or stop street crime, or cure a pandemic. Yet we keep seeing these simplistic and misleading statements pillorying incumbents. Why? Apparently research shows that negative political ads mostly confirm what we already think, convincing us that we have been right all along. So, besides being aggravating, they're useless.

This is my 30th campaign cycle since I stared voting in 1964. And I say to Birk and to all campaign ad creators on both sides, "You come into my house and try to mess with my family. I mute you, one and all."

Steven Blons, St. Paul


What about the other gun sellers?

If Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is truly interested in stopping the "straw sales" of guns, why did he single out Fleet Farm? ("Fleet Farm accused of firearm straw sales," Oct. 6.) According to Thursday's Star Tribune article, Sarah Elwood, one of the two straw buyers recently convicted in U.S. District Court, purchased 97 firearms from nine different gun dealers in Minnesota between May 2020 and May 2021, 13 of the 97 from Fleet Farm. If that is true, then there are eight other gun dealers that averaged over 10 straw purchases per dealer during that same time period. Why are these other dealers not also being sued by the state through Ellison and given the same adverse publicity as Fleet Farm? All of the arguments brought forth by Ellison justifying his lawsuit against Fleet Farm would seem to hold true for the other eight gun dealers.

Further, Fleet Farm has 17 locations in Minnesota, which would obviously make it more difficult to keep track of all gun purchases by straw purchasers intent on not getting caught. How many of the other eight dealers have the multiple location issue to deal with? Finally, why is the burden on gun dealers, when the federal government is the one to approve gun purchases, and one would think that the feds have the best record of who is making these purchases and with what frequency?

I wholeheartedly agree that these straw purchasers are a plague on our society, but I think the solution lies in severe punishment for the buyers, and more attentiveness at the federal level.

This lawsuit smells like election-year politics.

John Burke Murphy, Maple Grove


Here, take these attack lines

I just finished reading an article about California Gov. Gavin Newsom's red-state media blitz. He's been taking out full-page ads and putting up billboards attacking new restrictions on abortion, using pictures like a lady in a pretty gown and handcuffs, with the tagline, "Texas doesn't own your body. You do." Another one says, "Need an abortion? California is ready to help."

Well. Newsom has ambitions, I assume — President Joe Biden is pushing 80, after all, and nobody without an exaggerated self-importance gets to be governor of California — but it's refreshing to have a Democrat who is willing to brawl. Historically, we have been polite, long-winded and immune to the idea that catchphrases work better than 90-page policy proposals. Against the mobs foaming about evil acronyms (CRT! SEL!) we have generally brought a soup ladle to a knife fight.

In this last month before the election, it might finally be time to sharpen the knives. Herewith are a few of the indiscreet phrases I'd like to see on billboards, arranged as product lines. Help yourselves.

The Roe line:

  • "Ectopic? GOP says: Go die!" (This seems unfair, but it's going to happen.)
  • "Make in-vitro a crime! Vote Republican!" (It's been talked about. Really.)
  • "End birth control! Vote Republican!" (That one's for Idaho. The University of Idaho and Boise State University are already doing some of that.)
  • "Want to have your rapist's baby? Vote Republican!" (Quite a few states get this one.)
  • And my favorite, in memory of Virginia Woolf: "A womb of one's own? Not in Texas!"

The law-and-order line (all billboards should have pictures of the Capitol attack):

  • "How Republicans support the police."
  • "'Legitimate political discourse,' says the Republican National Committee."
  • "Can't win an election? Try this instead!"
  • "Republicans peacefully transferring power."

The money line:

  • "Think kids aren't worth a tax credit? Neither do we! Vote Republican!"
  • "Hate affordable child care? So do we! Vote Republican!"
  • "Let's help make billionaires richer! Vote Republican!"

And one could do a rather grim "kid" line, with a silhouette of an AR-15 in the center and a tagline like "The Republican solution to overcrowded schools" or "Pro-life ends at birth," but I think it better not to go there. Too much. Stick to stuff like a picture of Sanibel Island with a quote from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2018: "I am not a global-warming person." That really says enough.

Jonathan Locke, Minneapolis


Just admit to bad driving

As usual, it's the coverup that causes the most concern, not the incident. Thursday's article "Harris' SUV in accident that renews agency woes" explains that although the vehicle Vice President Kamala Harris was riding in hit the side pavement of a tunnel, the Secret Service reported a mechanical failure. Rather than take the fallout of a truthful explanation, the agency decided on a coverup. Wrong decision.

Elaine Frankowski, Minneapolis


Celebrate the historical role

It's unfortunate that Columbus Day is seen by some as honoring Christopher Columbus the man and ignoring what he did in the year 1492. Despite his personal faults, Columbus had the courage and determination to do something nobody in the Old World would do: sail west and change the course of history and Western civilization.

If not for Columbus, the New World may not have been discovered until much later. The history of the European nations and America could have been completely different. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and John Adams could have lived their entire lives in Europe. We could be speaking French or Spanish now instead of English.

We should have a national holiday to celebrate the discovery of the New World and the root of the beginning of the 13 American colonies. It's what happened in 1492 that made the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving possible. Whatever the pilgrims and Indigenous people did at the first Thanksgiving, it did not change the course of history.

Happy 1492!

John Wong, Edina