It is bad enough that the nation’s top career diplomats have been fleeing this administration, often without being replaced. It is deeply troubling that the foreign-service budget has been slashed, while military expenditures are exploding. It is dismaying that our commander-in-chief believes that he can negotiate peace with North Korea without even reading an intelligence briefing. Now, even our mediocre secretary of state is being thrown under the bus by our erratic president (“Trump replaces Tillerson with Pompeo in dramatic shakeup,”, March 13).

Worse to me than all this scary news, however, is that the newly nominated CIA director is the very Gina Haspel who ordered the torture of U.S. captives in black sites in Thailand and elsewhere, then destroyed the tapes of those interrogations when they came under scrutiny. An exhaustive Senate report described those scenes as so starkly gruesome that one detainee was left “completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.” Today’s online Washington Post reported that some CIA officials were so upset witnessing those interrogations that “some on the team were profoundly affected ... some to the point of tears and choking up.”

So I wonder : Why are we replacing all diplomacy with war? Why is it better to have a doofus at State who is a lackey to Trump than a doofus who isn’t? And what sacred American values are we defending by asking a known torturer to explain to our government what is going on in the world?

Charles Underwood, Minneapolis


Bipartisan group puts forth good gun-law proposals. But …

Finally, we have four state senators who have shown some leadership and taken the initiative to put forward some common-sense gun background check legislation (front page, March 13). Thank you, Matt Little, DFL-Lakeville; Scott Jensen, R-Chaska; Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury; and Paul Anderson, R-Plymouth, for leading the effort to require that anyone who sells a gun must first determine if the person buying the gun is a felon. I can’t imagine any legislator or any citizen of Minnesota who would not want this common-sense measure put in place. Universal background checks for gun purchases are a necessary and sensible part of a three-pronged approach, which also includes increased school security and increased mental-health resources, to reduce the chance of another mass shooting.

Tom Traub, Lakeville

• • •

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, is shortsighted in his concern for making schools safer. He supports some measures to do so by arming teachers and having mental health checks. He does not support universal background checks or mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms. He seems to care deeply for youngsters in schools, but apparently does not have the same concern about the crowds of people who go to large gatherings at public venues (for example, the Las Vegas massacre in 2017). Madmen are not site-specific in their targets, as recent history has shown.

Furthermore, it seems we have become a deranged society when we think teachers should be armed and schools should become armed fortresses in order to keep the young of our country safe.

Jo Brinda, Crystal


Don’t talk him up, Star Tribune, and do mention all challengers

Once again, U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen has been showcased in a positive light by the Star Tribune and portrayed as a fiscal conservative who is concerned about the economy, and as a public servant working hard to do what’s best for Minnesota (“Paulsen flexes his muscle on economy,” front page, March 12). When is the sucking up going to stop? This constituent completely disagrees with the Star Tribune’s assessment and knows better. This is a man who self-describes himself as “The Math Guy,” yet voted to increase our country’s deficit and give tax cuts to the wealthiest individuals in our country. How’s that math adding up for our country?

Let’s be clear: Paulsen was only given the appointment to the U.S. Joint Economic Committee by House Speaker Paul Ryan because his job as congressman is in jeopardy! It has nothing to do with his experience or knowledge.

Why isn’t the Star Tribune writing more about why Paulsen’s job is in jeopardy? Paulsen continues to disregard his constituents or representing them. Still, no real town hall! Health care, DACA, gun reform, Russian interference — these are just a few of the many issues on which Paulsen only takes marching orders from President Donald Trump or from Ryan, with no input from his voters. So, yes, he has competition from not just one, but two, very capable and worthy opponents. There should be even more lining up.

Colleen Graf, Brooklyn Park

• • •

The article summarizes the Dean Phillips campaign in the Third Congressional District as well-funded, then stops, as if funding is all that matters. Ideas, principle, passion and a willingness to listen to constituents also matter. Dean Phillips has these; Erik Paulsen does not.

Rod Fisher, Eden Prairie

• • •

I was distressed to see, for at least a second time in the Star Tribune this year, reference to only one Paulsen challenger in the upcoming election. There is a hard-fought battle going on within the Democratic Party between Dean Phillips and Adam Jennings. This will be decided at our Third Congressional District Convention on April 14.

It is unfortunate when the only major newspaper in our area does not acknowledge the correct field of candidates. Indeed, earlier on, there were three candidates. Jennings currently serves on the City Council of Tonka Bay. The Star Tribune would serve our community better if it accurately reported on the status of congressional and other upcoming local, state and national races.

Sandra Larson, Minnetonka


Desired Coffman name erasure is more rewriting of history

The hoopla over striking former University of Minnesota president Lotus D. Coffman’s name from the facade of the student union (“U student body wants Coffman name off building,” March 9) is but another example of punishing persons in the past for actions that would be reprehensible by contemporary standards. (Further examples: renaming Lake Calhoun, removing statues and other memorials to national heroes who were slave owners.) Then, should Van Gogh’s paintings be destroyed because he was a drunkard?

And are those of us alive today to be judged in the future from the perspective of laws and political/religious standards extant at that time? This is a lose-lose game that does nothing to advance knowledge or demonstrate moral superiority.

The answer, of course, is cultural relativism, recognizing that the rules, standards and expectations of daily life change, and that rewriting history because of a disconnect between two snapshots of life taken over time is simple-minded and self-deception.

Lloyd K. Sines, Big Lake

The writer is a retired University of Minnesota faculty member.