A July 26 letter stated that political contributions should come only from voters residing in the district or state of the candidate, giving Kentucky as an example. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky refused to confirm many judges appointed by former President Barack Obama, but was quick to fill the empty offices with President Donald Trump's appointees, 200 as of last count, enough to significantly change the judicial system.

We all remember how shabbily Sen. McConnell treated Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016, stating that such nominees should not be considered in an election year. But now, in 2020, he assures us that should there be a vacancy in the Supreme Court, he will hurry to fill it.

This behavior affects all of us, not just the voters of Kentucky. This is why many of us do contribute to senatorial nominees who challenge sitting Republican incumbents, including McConnell. From my point of view, the Supreme Court is the main reason for flipping the U.S. Senate. Many evangelicals, who should be repulsed by President Trump's personal behavior, see the importance of the Supreme Court and therefore vote for him. Why can't many left-leaning Democrats, who prefer to stay home, see this?

Hanna Hill, Plymouth


Your fun at our great expense. Do we accept that in other contexts?

Besides the safety and environmental issues raised in recent letters to the editor, why should we (as in "lakeshore owners") be forced to protect our property from your wave-surfing fun? I needed to hire a landscaping company for $14,000 to protect our shoreline against erosion caused by your surfing waves slamming against my shore. I can't think of any other activity that allows one group of people's fun to destroy other people's property.

Mark Hagberg, Eden Prairie


Somewhere there are answers. Now, just who looks for those?

In the front-page July 26 article "Looted businesses lament delay in aid," state Reps. Jim Nash of Waconia and Barb Haley of Red Wing suggest that the rioting was Minneapolis' and St. Paul's own fault. But St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter implies that most rioters were not city residents. The same article quotes Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey as saying the Police Department did everything it could to protect the city, despite Star Tribune reports that Minneapolis police and firefighters could have done more, wanted to do more, had their hands not been tied by the mayor. Whom to believe?

Though a Minneapolis resident, I watched the rioting on TV from the safety of my home, so I couldn't tell. Were the rioters primarily city residents? Or were they from places like Waconia and Red Wing? Were the Minneapolis police and firefighters out in full force doing their best to contain the rioting? Or were they not? And why, 60 days later, hasn't the Star Tribune, our city's paper of record, provided any meaningful insight into these important questions?

John K. Trepp, Minneapolis


Slow results make it easy to add to the risk unintentionally

Steve Sack's political cartoon on July 26 was, as always, so clever and spot-on. Sadly, he got one detail wrong. My recent experience suggests it takes 10 days, not "just" a week, to get results of coronavirus testing. While waiting for my test results, I started feeling completely healthy. I had to remind myself to quarantine even more than I already do, and in all honesty, a few times I forgot and went to the grocery store (wearing a mask). Imagine the number of people I could have unknowingly infected in a week and a half if I had tested positive. Imagine how many people we are all infecting while waiting for the coveted test. No wonder we are losing this battle with COVID-19.

Martha Wegner, St. Paul


On the nature of the choice and the driver of the trends

To me, one of the main points of Laird M. Easton's July 26 commentary "This downturn may be short-term" seems to be summarized in its last sentence, "Perhaps the evolution of our attitude toward death means we are more willing to suffer economic hardship than to endure the sight of corpses piling up unburied, as was common during the 1918 influenza pandemic." This statement seems to offer an either/or choice — a false one to me.

I doubt there was an either/or choice made by the public between death and economic health. Rather, my guess is that the medical caregivers of that time did not have all the tools that the medical caregivers of today do. My guess is the medical caregivers of 1918 did everything they could to preserve life, as did the individual citizens of that time. Simply more people died then than might be necessary today given the same flu pandemic.

I don't think this country faces an either/or choice. Instead, we probably need a mixed approach that focuses more heavily on getting the pandemic under control first and propping up the economy during this time.

James Hagen, Eagan

• • •

Easton is right that most pandemics have a relatively short-lived economic effect, but he downplays the severity of their short-term impacts and undersells their long-term outcomes.

Economies can recover quickly from a pandemic in part because it accelerates changes already underway and often overdue. The sewers installed after the 19th-century cholera epidemics didn't just allow urbanization to proceed; they sped it up. The 1918 flu pandemic didn't just reduce unemployment afterward; it propelled privatization, as people sought isolation in suburban houses and private automobiles.

We see the same happening today. Online shopping, distance learning, home offices, telemedicine: Such trends had begun before this pandemic, but they have become much more prevalent and will likely last long after we have COVID-19 under control. Our economy, too, will come back, but it will be a very different one than what we left behind, with disruptive effects on myriad industries and many aspects of our lives.

Thomas Fisher, St. Paul


Is a balance being sought, or is there a more aggressive agenda?

The July 26 article "U students confront racism in academia" says that one of the changes some students are pushing for is to have the administration "prioritize hiring people of color for tenure-track positions."

I'm curious to know what exactly they mean by "prioritize." The 1964 Civil Rights Act outlaws discrimination based on race. Prioritizing hiring people based on their race could violate the law, depending upon how it's done. If less-qualified candidates are hired because of their race, it would violate the law; however, if race is used as a tiebreaker to decide between equally qualified candidates, that would be legal.

My question for the students would be: Do they want to end discrimination, or change it in their favor?

James Brandt, New Brighton