The roles of liberty and the Constitution


In response to the Jan. 10 letter on gun violence that ended with "Never forget, the Constitution was created to protect us citizens from our government": This libertarian myth is contrary to the full breadth of the document. According to constitutional scholar Garrett Epps (writing in the Nation, Feb. 7, 2011): "[The] document as a whole is much more concerned about what the government can do -- not with what it can't. From the beginning, it was empowered to levy taxes, to raise armies, to make war, to set the rules of commerce and to bind the nation through treaties and international agreements. ... [It] was not written to weaken an overreaching Congress but to strengthen an enfeebled one."

The Constitution continues to be a living, breathing document -- the 27 Amendments are proof of this -- and should not be considered a means to restrict our present laws based on an 18th-century, musket-toting populace.


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The reason that gun owners are against central registration ("Register weapons as we do vehicles," Readers Write, Jan. 8) has a lot to do with lessons learned from the history of other nations. It seemed logical to register guns in Great Britain, then people had to turn them in to be scrapped or face prosecution. It seemed logical to register guns in Australia, then people had to turn them in to be scrapped or face prosecution.

Nazi Germany decided to register both guns AND people in order to keep track of them. It must have seemed logical at the time as well. History has shown us that registration can be misleading as to the real intention or final execution of a long-term plan.

The parallel with vehicle registration is not quite valid, since there is not a large-enough group of Americans who embrace a nation devoid of automobiles, at least not yet.


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It'd be best to stick to the core mission


Part of the administrative problem at the University of Minnesota has been poorly analyzed and off-mission grasps at cash. The unlicensed transplant drug ALG and the sacrifice of an essential agricultural research and teaching site at Rosemount for gravel mining were cited in recent Wall Street Journal and Star Tribune articles. The school's president, Eric Kaler, could bring an end to these disastrous forays by publicly recognizing that not even the university can turn gravel into gold nor transform exurban development into a model of sustainability. The academic home of Norman Borlaug should recognize that its value is in research and education to improve food supply, energy, the environment and health, and that attempting to trade away any of these missions for short-term cash will diminish the university.


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A little facial tissue can keep you healthy


With the flu now hitting us hard here in Minnesota and throughout the country ("Flu outbreak rivals deadly 2009 pandemic," Jan. 9), time to benchmark Howard Hughes.

Even though most people know they should not go out in public with a nasty cold or the flu, they still do. And infect others with their germs.

Hughes knew this and was insistent with his use of Kleenex to protect him from harmful germs. He gathered the tissue in his hands before touching anything in public, especially door handles and bathroom nozzles.

That's not to mention his obsession with washing his hands.

Might be a good strategy to copy today, if you plan on staying healthy. Maybe as a way of saying thanks, the makers of Kleenex might want to donate some money to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.


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What's worse? His words or how people reacted?


It's a shame that ESPN is apologizing for comments by broadcaster Brent Musburger during college football's national championship game. Many saw the comments as creepy and over the top. Yet we live in a world where we accept an 80-year-old man marrying a Playboy model or TLC promoting shows about older women -- "cougars" -- looking for younger men. All Musburger was doing was complimenting a woman on her looks, something grandparents at retirement homes do nearly everyday. Not to mention that the woman he was referring to, Katherine Webb, gained more than 90,000 Twitter followers in 24 hours. So who are the "creeps" now? And what should he have done instead? The camera was pointed at Webb in the stands. It's a very hypocritical world we live in.


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Thanks for clearing the way at Lake Harriet


Minnesota Nice has just been taken to a new level. Some energetic folks cleared a 4-foot path on the ice around the circumference of Lake Harriet for all skaters to enjoy. My wife and I donned our 40-year-old skates and were treated to an evening spin on the ice. Yes, this world can be a wonderful place.