John Kass' vituperative tirade "How long can President Biden hide?" (Opinion Exchange, March 11) just begs for response. I offer one.
I am not a reporter, editor, publisher or broadcaster. I am, however, a citizen, one of the millions who choose our governments and for whom those governments serve. As such, I am not in the least concerned that President Joe Biden has not held a news conference himself. It appears to me that, instead, he has been doing the people's work — for example, the COVID relief legislation and the selection of highly qualified nominees for crucial administration positions. To the best of my knowledge, he has not taken time off for other pursuits such as playing golf.
Perhaps more importantly, in Jennifer Psaki, he has a press secretary who, in the sessions I have watched, has been very well-informed, patient, insightful, honest and extraordinarily articulate. In these qualities she manifestly stands head and shoulders above the string of her recent predecessors.
I find this situation not a cause for alarm, but, rather, extremely appropriate and satisfactory.
John D. Tobin Jr., St. Paul
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What a world. We go from a president who won't or can't shut up to a president who won't or can't speak. Don't know which is worse for the country.
Blair Sorvari, Champlin
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The Kass commentary was un-thought-out, incomplete and insensitive to say the least. Biden and I experienced the hard fact: We both suffered with speech impediments as children — including embarrassment, harassment, bullying, ruthless teasing, shaming, constant mocking and being laughed and pointed at. Biden had a stutter; I lisped. After years of training, hard work, practicing, you constantly worry that if you're nervous, it might become apparent again. Public speaking can be enormously stressful without a script or notes.
It's heartbreaking Kass wrote such an article without doing homework. I get it. Biden is now president of the United States. He is watched by the press worldwide. It will take time for him to readjust his speaking abilities working off-script, and maybe he will need a speech therapist for a while. I urge all reporters to cut him some slack.
Nobody knows what others have gone through. The one thing all people need to be aware of is "it could have been me" and not judge others.
Barbara J. Nylen, Minneapolis
OIL SPILL ANNIVERSARY
Our short environmental memory
Last week, the Star Tribune failed to cover one of Minnesota's most significant anniversaries — an anniversary that Enbridge and supporters of Line 3 hope we forget about. On March 3, 1991, the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history happened in Minnesota. More than 1.7 million gallons of crude oil gushed out of the Line 3 oil pipeline outside of Grand Rapids, Minn. The spill rushed over the landscape — filling nearby wetlands and into the Prairie River, a tributary of the Mississippi.
The only thing that saved the spill from becoming as devastating as Enbridge's massive 800,000-gallon spill into Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010 or as broad as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is that Mother Nature prevented the oil spill from expanding further. Fortunately, the Prairie River was still frozen or the extent of the environmental damage would have been far greater reach — including risking poisoning drink water for millions downstream.
For those who believe that pipeline spills never happen — check yourself. Despite all of Enbridge's propaganda, spills do happen. And they happen to Enbridge a lot! In fact, between 1999 and 2010, Enbridge's pipelines have had more than 800 spills in the U.S. and Canada — leaking more than 6.8 million gallons of crude oil.
Minnesotans can't forget Enbridge's record, for if we do, history will repeat itself with even more devastating consequences. Enbridge's so-called "replacement" Line 3 pipeline will carry twice as much oil as the old pipeline — doubling the potential devastation. March 3 can be the only oil spill anniversary that Minnesotans have to remember. We can still stop Line 3.
Douglass Keiser, Minneapolis
POWER AT THE LEGISLATURE
You could spin it positively, Gazelka
State Sen. Paul Gazelka's commentary critical of Gov. Tim Walz's one-man emergency control ("One full year of one-man rule is enough," Opinion Exchange, March 6) leaves me unconvinced. The inference is that Gov. Tim Walz sits in isolation controlling the state COVID response unilaterally according to his whims, Wizard of Oz-like. It appears, however, that Walz invests a good deal of time conferring with and obtaining input from numerous agencies and organizations. Often, time is of the essence.
Many of these entities are created, authorized and overseen by the Legislature for exactly that purpose, such as the Minnesota Departments of Health, Education and Human Services, and many related state agencies. Additionally, there are numerous professional and trade organizations for teachers, seniors, child care, physicians, nurses, public health and hospital groups, retailers, manufacturers, food and hospitality workers, bar and restaurant owners, etc. — the list could continue.
Gov. Walz can take care of himself as far as critics are concerned; that is not my point. It is, rather, that any effective decisionmaker, in or out of government, does better when decisions are informed with input from many different sources; I get the clear impression that is what is happening at the governor's office. The Legislature is not left out. To the contrary, its past work has wisely provided a solid framework of many excellent resources. Instead of tossing more criticism into the mix, Gazelka and the Legislature could rightly claim pride in the many good agencies that now provide resources needed to develop effective statewide COVID responses.
David Lingo, Golden Valley
It acted awfully. Why so surprised?
People are shocked, shocked that the British royal family could be so racist. Really? Have you talked to someone from India or Ireland, Pakistan or Zimbabwe, or Indigenous people from the Americas, the Caribbean or Australia?
It's not a surprise that Meghan Markle was treated poorly by members of the royal family. They've always divided the world into who is in and who is out. The royal family promotes itself as above others, and skin color, class and place of origin are easy avenues to parade racism through. Monarchies are racist by their very nature: They have "royal blood" and you don't.
People love the monarchy, even in the U.S. It's nice for fairy tales and birthday parties. But the whole idea of monarchy, nobility and royal blood is fiction. It was instituted by groups of wealthy people in order to keep their power and wealth. Queen Elizabeth II is a queen not because of her blood, but because the royal family says she is. Prince Harry is a prince because the royal family says he is. His children will not receive a title, because the royal family says no.
So do we really need to spend headlines and social media outrage on the supposedly startling revelations of Meghan and Harry? I mean, the whole exclusive interview was a reality show writ large. And like all reality shows, it was a carefully scripted and edited work. The participants were all promoting their brand; they decided what we were going to see and hear.
But we can decide how we react. Do we need to waste time and words on how bad it is for Meghan and Harry? (I know, I'm doing that right now.) I doubt if anything that is said or written is going to change the monarchy or help dismantle racism in any significant way. If we want to make a difference, there are many real opportunities to work for justice.
The morning news shows all had headlines about the grave crisis for the royal family. Really? This family has a long history of beheading wives that didn't bear sons and killing fathers, brothers and sisters who were rivals to the throne. I think they'll survive this. We, on the other hand, have other things to concern ourselves with.
Patrick Cabello Hansel, Minneapolis
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