As we march toward war, let’s reconsider

Thank you, Herbert W. Chilstrom, for saying so eloquently what I feel in my heart (“Two boys left to fight it out: A parable about conflict,” Sept. 4). The war drums are beating, people. All together now: No more wars!

BERTA MAASS, Stillwater

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Doesn’t anyone remember the term “ground troops?” Or has it become absolutely mandatory to instead use the phrase “boots on the ground?”

MATTHEW ZERBY, Minneapolis

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Gun and gun lobbyists are the real problem

It was with sadness and a sense of irony that I read about our schools being turned into fortresses (“More armed security at schools after Newtown,” Aug. 24). In the name of “freedom,” gun lobbyists refuse to accept any limitations on their “right to bear arms,” resulting in our children needing to be locked up to be protected. I can’t imagine how that affects children each day to be presented with evidence that they aren’t safe in their own schools.

PAT LAYTON, Golden Valley

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A tale of two partisan commentaries on work

The Labor Day commentaries by Joe Selvaggio (“It just takes effort? Don’t kid yourself”) and Annette Meeks (“It’s been a good year for unions — too good”) highlighted problems with partisan commentary.

Both writers speak different languages and inhabit different realities. If one substitutes the word “workers” for “union(s),” in Meeks’ piece, the differences are more easily approached. Unions are not “them,” they are us, the workers. Together in a union we become the workers.

Why would anyone want to stigmatize workers at any job, or identify workers as the adversary: “them” and “other”? Is it wrong that workers should want a place at the table? Workers are not livestock, after all, and we are not stupid. We have futures to plan for, too.

If there’s a problem with the political agenda of any union, a member can opt out of paying dues for that agenda. It’s a separate function, different from the collective-bargaining function. The union’s agenda can be changed, and inevitably will change, because of changing demographics and many other factors. The leadership of the union can be changed by a simple vote. Unions are participatory.


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Forget Syria and do something about Japan

The damaged nuclear power plant in Japan is spewing highly radioactive water into the Pacific in ever greater amounts. Such radiation will enter the food supply and is a serious threat to the health and well-being of all Americans. As such, it poses a real threat to the security of our country.

Rather than undertake a highly provocative military action against the Syrian regime based on questionable evidence, U.S. leaders could apply themselves to something useful instead of destructive and counterproductive. They could take the important step of organizing an international mission to contain and control the leaking Fukushima plant.

I doubt that such a course of action peacefully leading the world in solving truly threatening problems was even considered by the Obama administration, with its “bomb first” mentality.


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Wouldn’t that be a grand presidential race?

If the Republican Party wants to take back the White House in 2016, it had better nominate David Petraeus as its presidential candidate. This would be a classic presidential campaign.

There is no one as experienced or qualified in politics as Hillary Clinton. Her résumé is impeccable. There is no one as experienced or qualified in military affairs and commanding large organizations as Petraeus. His résumé and awards are legion.

As far as I know, Petraeus is neither right-wing nor left-wing, and he could save the Republican Party from demise like he did for our cause in Iraq. He reminds me of Dwight Eisenhower of the 1950s. I would hope that this would not be a mudslinging campaign, but a serious discussion of the issues of war, peace and domestic policies.

If you Google both of these individuals and look at their biographies and list of achievements, it is stunning. No candidate is perfect, but these two are good enough to be president.


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Twin Cities can’t sustain current costs

We Minnesotans can be tremendously proud of our level of support for the Minnesota Orchestra. The orchestra raises $12 million annually, the most in contributions among Twin Cities performing-arts organizations.

Our board and the corporations they represent have donated $60 million in the last five years and have agreed to increase their annual gifts by 20 percent. We are in the final stages of a $110 million campaign that supports artistic initiatives, endowment and Orchestra Hall.

The difficult truth is that even with these terrific fundraising efforts, the orchestra is left with a $6 million annual deficit. Our fundraising study shows that the Twin Cities do not have the same wealth base of many cities with major orchestras. The same study says we cannot realistically expect our community to contribute an additional $6 million every year.

Instead, we’ve proposed eliminating our deficit through a combination of new revenue and cost reductions. Every dollar committed to the orchestra is a step toward sustainability, and we respectfully acknowledge the new $500,000 in pledges spread over three years that cellist Mina Fischer reported in a Sept. 5 commentary. We will be pleased to add these dollars to our growing annual Guaranty Fund when the details of these gifts are shared with us.

We remain committed to the orchestra and its musicians, both now and into the future.

NANCY LINDAHL, Minneapolis


The writer is a member of the Minnesota Orchestra board and chair of its Guaranty Fund.