In recent years, the State of the Union address has become unwatchable because of our elected representatives’ inability to control themselves. Like trained apes, they leap to their feet in applause every time the president says something they agree with or something patriotic. Every speech is interrupted dozens of times by these ridiculous antics.

On Thursday, our leaders put their silly behavior on display to the world by interrupting the pope in the same way. Despite admonishments from their respective party leaders to please hold their applause until the end of the speech, these petulant children just couldn’t help themselves. They look like buffoons. It’s rude and embarrassing. Whatever happened to dignity?

Mark Gortze, Maple Grove


Good riddance! Or, maybe it would be better if he stayed …

Upon hearing breaking news Friday of U.S. Rep. John Boehner’s resigning as House Speaker, I could not help thinking of other purges — Stalin’s, Mao’s, etc. Purged of any reasonableness that may have existed.

The Tea Party is now officially the Republican Party! God help us.

Paul J. Bartone, Eden Prairie

• • •

To mangle Shakespeare and apply it to Boehner, one could say: “Nothing in his congressional life became him like the leaving it.”

Pat Ryan Greene, Minneapolis

• • •

Noooooo, John, don’t do it! We need you to stay in Congress!

What you are feeling is guilt. You probably haven’t felt that in a long time. Instead of leaving with a guilty conscience, we need you to work with President Obama for the good of all Americans.

The fabric of America is coming apart. Let’s get back to common sense. As the most powerful man in Congress, show the pope your compassion for all people. Get your inspiration from Pope Francis and make him proud.

Francis stated the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

You will find that this is easy to follow.

Judy Sigelman, Golden Valley



We’ve received a call to action; here’s how to respond

The recent news about plunging household income for African-Americans in Minnesota was alarming. Not only did we learn that the earnings disparity is widening, we also learned that household income is dropping thousands of dollars a year on average for African-American families, while it is remaining stable for every other group.

Minnesota has long struggled with opportunity gaps in education, higher rates of poverty, lower wages, and huge disparities in employment between the African-American community and others. This news should be a call to action for policymakers in our state. It’s time for us to invest in Minnesotans with programs that will support and lift families out of poverty through education and job opportunities.

We need to start as early as possible by investing more in early-childhood education and programs that are proven to help kids get ahead and stay ahead. We need to make sure people are prepared to enter the workforce or transition to another career with increased workforce training. We need to make sure people can get to jobs and vital services by investing in transit infrastructure.

I commend Gov. Mark Dayton for pledging to tackle this issue. We need to work together and take bold actions that will finally rectify these persistent and troubling programs. Minnesota should be a state that works for everyone and for too long it hasn’t.

State Rep. Raymond Dehn, DFL-Minneapolis



From a helpful article, a letter writer construed self-pity

I saved the Sept. 22 commentary by Rebecca Cohen (“Why I had an abortion after 20 weeks”), because I think it offered the best argument for not outlawing abortions past that point in a pregnancy. Terminating a healthy pregnancy as a means of birth control is, in my opinion, not acceptable. However, most of those abortions take place far earlier than 20 weeks.

It was quite obvious that this was a very painful decision for Cohen and her family. I did not feel that she was writing her article in a “self-pitying” manner (as a Sept. 23 letter writer suggested), rather that she was pointing out how a federal decision to outlaw abortion past 20 weeks would adversely affect mothers, like her, who do not know until mid-pregnancy that the fetus they are carrying, which continues to grow, has no chance of survival after birth.

After seeing in my own family the pain that infertility can cause, I cannot stand to hear how many healthy babies are aborted. That is not what Ms. Cohen wrote about. It is quite a leap to conclude from her commentary that she is not sensitive to the abortions of healthy fetuses. The number of abortions would almost certainly decline if birth control were more available and affordable. Sadly, a large proportion of abortion opponents are also opponents of access to birth control.

Kathleen M. Breen, Prescott, Wis.



Ironies galore in our country’s approach to patients

The lead story on Sept. 23 (“Health care deductibles up 40 percent since 2010”) contained a remarkably ironic subtext. We read that health care consumers are choosing high deductibles to make their insurance affordable, then choose to forgo health care because they can’t afford it. That’s the superficial irony. Deeper still, this problem is growing in the wake of the Affordable Care Act. And if we add a common-sense assumption to the story — that people apparently use health insurance mainly for expensive emergencies they really can’t afford — the irony goes even deeper: As health care becomes ever more expensive, the industry needs to protect itself against patients who can’t afford care.

OK, but does anyone recall that the full name of our overarching health care law is the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?” I’ll just say it: Our health care industry has become an intractable capitalistic bureaucracy.

Tracy Witham, Sauk Rapids, Minn.



Name debates can wait until winter; crumbling paths can’t

Let’s stop the lake naming nonsense and repair the crumbling, washed-out and unsafe walkway connecting Lake 1 and Lake 2 (Harriet and Calhoun/Mde Maka Ska).

Winter, after construction season is over, is navel-gazing time here in Minnesota. The Great Name Debate is a perfect activity for a cold January day.

Mike Beer, Minneapolis

• • •

The momentous prayer service at the site of the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers on Friday was a reminder to set aside, for the sake of compromise and progress, our narrow, strongly held viewpoints on the issues that divide society. Peter Bell’s commentary in that morning’s Star Tribune (“Must diversity issues always drown out broader public concerns?”) was a sad commentary on how far we have strayed from focusing on the good for all people.

David Beal, Edina