In a Jan. 20 column (“Will this downpour stop? It always has”), George F. Will stated that it “must be misery to awaken to another day of being Donald Trump.” Let’s see …

(1) He is the 45th president of the United States; (2) he won the election by defying all polls and defeating Hillary Clinton; (3) he has a beautiful wife; (4) he has a wonderful and accomplished family; (5) he is a billionaire; (6) he owns multiple properties and businesses here and all over the world; (7) he has the news media reporting and analyzing all he says and all he does 24/7; and (8) he is in excellent health.

Lord, that all of us could wake up to another day so miserable.

John Heili, Lake Elmo


It is a gateway drug, plain and simple. These stories show it.

Regarding the potential legalization of recreational marijuana in Minnesota, I am going to be very candid. Potheads and haters get ready.

I recently finished working for eight years at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in downtown Minneapolis. This is a men’s program, and the men come for six months to try to get sober. I was part of a group that led chapels and then small-group discussions every Wednesday night. Eight years, 52 weeks a year: 416 small groups. That is a lot of small groups.

The stories of the men in the program were utterly devastating. The “Sally” is often the last chance for many of the addicts in the program. Many of them had been through as many as 10 recovery programs. Most of them had lost their jobs, their marriages, their families, their health and their dignity. Certainly, none of them intended to end up at the bottom of the barrel.

To a man, their stories began when they were 14 or 15 — when they started drinking or smoking pot. One thing led to another, and they became hard-core addicts.

To a man, they would tell you that marijuana was a gateway drug to meth, cocaine, crack, heroin and other devastating drugs.

It seems utterly remarkable that our state and new governor would even consider legalizing recreational marijuana. Of course, our government sees tax dollars and more tax dollars pouring in. What an unbelievable state we are in where our elected leaders would for one second consider income more important that the health of our citizens. (I love the argument about how other states are doing it — why don’t we? One guy even wrote in about how Minnesota seems to be “regressive” because it hasn’t legalized marijuana yet.)

Fellow citizens of Minnesota and elected officials: I beg you to not legalize marijuana. I know people will still buy it and smoke it and get screwed up. That doesn’t mean we have to make it easier. Please do not make it easier for even one young person to get started! We don’t have to do this. We can be the smart state — the one that cares enough about its young people to not make recreational marijuana legal.

David Arundel, Mound

• • •

Listening to the fervent arguments at the State Capitol against legalization of recreational marijuana at times seems like the sequel to “Reefer Madness” in how they avoid positive aspects like tax revenue, funding for treatment programs, and money saved through reduced prosecution. Emotions run high in this debate.

Mark Pommier, Hibbing, Minn.


Better than the private system, yes, but quite complicated

I agree with the two Jan. 20 letter writers that the VA Heath Care System is far better then the so-called private system, as long as you live near a VA hospital, as they do.

The fact that there are more than 20 million U.S. veterans but only 9 million veterans are actually enrolled in the VA Health Care System indicates to me there is something very wrong with it and that people do not want to discuss the real problem.

It is not only a health care system but a welfare system also. There are eight priority groups for treatment, which requires different copays; however, if your income is less than the VA pension threshold, which was $17,241 for a veteran with a spouse for 2018, you do not have to pay copays and you receive travel expenses. This can amount to a lot of money if you live 100 miles from a VA hospital or 50 miles from a clinic.

You may have to pay $1,626 for Medicare medical insurance to cover emergencies for which you cannot get advance approval to use a local hospital. This also includes paying the additional copay required by Medicare.

I am in priority group 3 and receive a small pension, which is lost in copays and travel cost trying to use the VA Health Care System.

Leonard Zimmer, Walker, Minn.


Writer wrongly assumes that young men can’t be authentically pro-life

The featured letter Jan. 24 (“A question about convictions”) had solid arguments for respectful behavior in response to the confrontation on the National Mall between the young pro-lifers, the Native American with a drum, and a third group. I haven’t watched the videos, but I have read or heard thousands of words on this event. My concern is how the letter writer questions the motivations and rights of the young pro-life men.

Yes, only women can have babies. However, we all are born from our mothers’ wombs. As humans, we all share the experience of developing as emerging life — with beating hearts — while protected inside the womb. To suggest that young men don’t or shouldn’t have an interest in unborn humans (and their mothers) seems a denial of their humanity. Privileged or not; young or old; male, female or nonbinary — don’t we all have an interest in emerging humanity? Even though they’re children, that doesn’t mean these young men are incapable of caring about others and understanding the complexities of the abortion issue. Catholic social teaching emphasizes the right to life; however, it teaches care for all human life (including Native American drummers) as well as all of creation. Unfortunately, the entirety of the teaching is a hidden secret all too often.

I resonate with American Indian drumming because it connects my beating heart to those of others. How about more drumming for peace, more respectful behavior and less questioning of what’s in other people’s hearts?

Michael Darger, Minneapolis


It goes like this, and only like this …

Having grown up on the Iron Range and being a self-proclaimed expert on the origin of the Cornish pasty, I would like to offer the correct definition (“Forging a pasty trail on the Range,” Travel, Jan. 20).

The traditional Cornish pasty, which since 2011 has protected geographical indication (PGI) status in Europe, is filled with beef, sliced or diced potato, swede (or rutabaga — referred to in Cornwall as turnip) and onion, seasoned with salt and pepper, and is baked. Today, the pasty is the food most associated with the English county of Cornwall. It is regarded as the national dish and accounts for 6 percent of the Cornish food economy.

According to the proprietor of a pasty shop in the town of Camborne, one would never substitute carrots for rutabaga (swedes). “Doing so would be considered sacrilegious!” If carrots are used, it becomes a Finnish meat pie! The use of carrot in a traditional Cornish pasty is frowned upon.

Leonard J. Slade, Edina

• • •

Thank you to Stacy Brooks for the article on perusing for pasties on the Iron Range! I, too, am an Iron Ranger who enjoys a pasty (lathered in ketchup) any chance I get along with the benefits of union (MNA) membership. Nothing better than an honest, safe, gratifying day of work followed by a homemade ethnic meal! Iron Range values — so relevant today.

Mitzi Biondich, Edina