I have been a loyal 22-year reader of the StarTribune, but I’m on the verge of canceling my subscription. The inherent bias, use of excessive-sized fonts and negative adjectives used to describe anything related to our next president is unacceptable. I thought the job of the paper was to report the news, letting the readers determine their own opinions. I didn’t realize every article related to the presidency was an editorial opinion piece. It’s very disappointing. Please see the attached picture.
Laura Higgins, Wayzata
• • •
Well, all right, then, problem solved; who knew it could be easy! All you need to remember, Eric and Donald Jr., is that when you see Dad, no discussing business. This arrangement should be extremely easy to monitor.
Ron Bender, Richfield
• • •
Many people do not understand the extent to which most public employees work to avoid even “the appearance” of impropriety. Managers go beyond the rules and regulations. We often use the smell test. Does it smell fishy?
There are strict measures to avoid nepotism in our hiring and promotion procedures. My office goes further and insures that family members, or even dating partners, do not supervise each other. This is fairly easy at a large agency, so we don’t wait for an issue; we proactively avoid even the appearance of favoritism.
Annually, our executives provide disclosures of their and their spouses’ financial investments. My boss once was questioned about owning a few shares in a company that was considering a business relationship with the agency. If the deal was successful, perhaps her share value would have gone up by a few pennies. It seemed ridiculous, but she sold the stock. My husband always complained about how intrusive it was to provide his personal financial and employment information to my employer. One year they questioned a mutual fund. A small portion of that fund, created by an investment firm outside of his control, had purchased shares in a business that was in competition with my agency. The minutia was scrutinized to avoid the “appearance” of impropriety.
Now, at the highest level, our president-elect says he is exempt from these rules. He certainly doesn’t care about the “appearance” of impropriety. Whatever happened to leading by example?
Rochelle Eastman, Savage
• • •
Interesting that our founding fathers, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, did not sell off their assets or place in a blind trust when president. These were rich men, with Washington being the wealthiest. They continued to operate their businesses. Most of their property holdings were in real estate, and most were slave owners.
Bruce Granger, West Concord, Minn.
• • •
The fake-news, top-of-the-page headline “Trump got warning of Russian claims” (Jan. 10) is a black mark on this paper. Without a whisper of verification you run with an article that has now been shown to be a made-up fan-fiction hoax. Shame on you that you desired to put this supposedly denigrating story at the top of your paper without an ounce of truth in it. This speaks volumes of the editorial bias that permeates a once-honest newspaper run by the great John Cowles.
I sincerely hope that you print an apology to those of us who still read your paper despite your left-leaning political witch hunt.
Gordon H. Ritz Jr., Minnetonka
• • •
The King of Fake News and Hyperbole now protests his “victimization” by BuzzFeed and CNN. These next four years are going to seem interminable. We can only hope that our fourth estate stands up to his bullying and intimidation tactics. Shine a light on these antics, please.
Jane Hovland, Duluth
• • •
President-elect Donald Trump recently made one of his final nominations to his Cabinet by naming Dr. David Shulkin as his nominee to lead Veterans Affairs. This choice is illustrative of the contradictory nature of the president-elect.
On the campaign trail, Trump disparaged the VA, calling it “the most corrupt agency in the United States” and “probably the most incompetently run agency.” Thus, his choice of Dr. Shulkin is surprising. Most Americans do not know that the VA has three main branches: the Veterans Benefits Administration, the National Cemetery Administration and the Veterans Health Administration (where all the clinical care occurs, and where I work). Shulkin is the current head of the Veterans Health Administration, having been nominated for the post by President Obama. If one truly believes that the VA is the “most incompetently run” and “most corrupt” agency, it is very odd to essentially promote the No. 2 person to the top job. An alternative explanation is that VA care is comparable to or better than that seen in the private sector (as reported in numerous studies in leading medical journals), and that staying the course is wise.
I believe the second explanation is the real one. We’re fortunate to have Shulkin as a nominee, but it is regrettable that Trump chose such a quiet way to endorse the VA, while publicly trashing the agency.
Dr. Dimitri Drekonja, Minneapolis
The writer is a staff physician in the Minneapolis VA Health Care System and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota.
• • •
To a particular writer of a letter published Jan. 12, thank you for being concerned about how our tax dollars are spent. Yes, indeed, President Obama could have delivered his farewell address from the Oval Office in the White House, but it seemed appropriate for him to be in Chicago. It was there where he announced his decision to run for the presidency, and his speech there rounded out his two terms in office. Because he was the first person of his race to be elected to the highest position in the United States, we all witnessed a historical event, whether you supported him and his policies or not. By the way, Melania Trump is not moving into the White House after the inauguration, but will be staying in New York so that Barron Trump can complete his school year. President Obama’s family moved with him after his inauguration, and both daughters were of school age. Our taxes will soon pay for Secret Service protection for our next first family living in two separate locations, but I choose not to complain about that.
Susan Downing, St. Paul
Franken goes into the weeds; Sessions misconstrues ‘secular’
As I watched the confirmation hearings of Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general, I saw senator after senator ask pertinent questions to draw him out on important subjects. Then I watched as our senator, Al Franken, seemed to be trying to score points over technicalities. It was embarrassing. While others got Sessions to commit to upholding important laws that seemed to go against his beliefs, such as ensuring access to abortion clinics, our senator was berating him over the exact number of civil rights cases that had gone through his office!
David Pooley, New Hope
• • •
Sessions said in his hearing that he’s unsure if secular citizens grasp the truth just as much as religious citizens are able to do. It’s painfully clear that the nominee for attorney general doesn’t even have a basic understanding of the meaning of the term “secular.” Apparently Sessions thinks that secular is everyone who is not Christian, and that is troubling indeed. Secular only means that no reference to any religion or spirituality is given. Very many devoutly religious citizens can be and are secular, and don’t wish to have their personal religious beliefs being debated in the public sphere. Atheism is not the same as secular. Atheism is simply a citizen’s nonacceptance of the existing religious beliefs available. U.S. citizens have always had the right to choose their religion and observe it within homes and tax-exempt churches. It should cause consternation in us when the person asking to be the lead defender of all citizens’ rights apparently doesn’t have a grasp of basic definitions. As recently as last summer he told a group in a speech that the “courts are becoming secular” and that he found that troubling. What’s even worse is that the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life in 2010 found that atheists and agnostics score the highest on tests of religious aptitude than do the believers themselves. Even worse than that is how Sessions also disregards the trend nationally away from organized religion, and estimates now show the nonaffiliated at 20 percent and growing. We can expect that as attorney general he will disregard a full one-fourth of citizens who choose no organized affiliation. Yikes.
Mark Pommier, Hibbing, Minn.