To paraphrase Sid Hartman: Who was the genius who came up with the idea of putting the Birkebeiner International Bridge in the middle of downtown Minneapolis? ("Ski bridge brings snow sports downtown," Jan. 14.) Not only is it ugly, but because it has such a small span, one of the lanes on 9th Street is now blocked (at the Nicollet Mall), causing rush hour gridlock. On Tuesday evening, I, along with hundreds of others, suffered the congestion on 9th Street because of this bridge, which even caused an ambulance driver, lights flashing and siren wailing, to do a U-turn and search out a less-congested road. And this is three weeks before another 100,000 people converge on downtown! What were they thinking!?

David Uppgaard, New Brighton

Marketplace 101: People shop at places that meet their needs

Ian Klepetar's complaint "More discrimination: Free parking" (Jan. 17) illustrates why he and other single-issue and bicycle advocates are so woefully out of touch with the realities of economics and the marketplace.

Cub Foods is not advocating for the use of automobiles by offering gas rewards, as Klepetar suggests. Nor are businesses that invest in parking lots for their customers. Cub knows that nearly all of its customers come to Cub stores in the automobile. Cub also knows that those customers are able to shop at Lunds & Byerlys or Whole Foods or Hy-Vee. Cub wants to attract customers to its store, so it offers a spiff in the form of a reward to encourage grocery shoppers to shop Cub.

I enjoy biking, too. But to complain that businesses that make it easier or more attractive for customers is somehow discriminatory against bicycle riders is illogical and the epitome of hubris.

Floyd Grabiel, Edina

The sides are drawn

To the Jan. 17 letter writer from New Prague interpreting President Donald Trump's remark about certain countries ("'Consult the data' misconstrues Trump; his issue isn't with people"), thank you. I do not want to believe that my fellow Minnesotans are mean-spirited. I don't believe that. But, to be clear, what was said was: "Why are we having all these people from *** countries come here?" Trump was expressing a preference for people from countries like Norway. This really is not hard. I am relieved to hear your interpretation, but you are wrong. You are a much better person than our president.

Alice Johnson, Minneapolis

• • •

Right on, Mr. President, that's the way to go. I'm 80 years old, and I don't ever remember purposely going to a country for a vacation that I thought was a shithole. Now I have been to restaurants and hotels that I thought this of and would never recommend to anyone. Now, if I remember, Trump was talking about the country (not the people). I also believe he mentioned Asians as well as Norway. Last but not least, we have U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, last seen questioning the head of Homeland Security ("Furor over what Trump said pushes country closer to shutdown," Jan. 17). I mention this because it seems he was almost brought to tears by this statement. If that's the case, he's a wimp. So keep up the good work, Mr. President. If you can get the Democrats this excited, you have to be doing something right.

Edward McHugh, East Bethel

• • •

Comparing Bill the Butcher (William Poole) to Donald Trump (commentary on the immigration issue by John Kass, Jan. 17) misses the point. Poole was a racist toward Irish and Catholics (and I'm both!) — he had reprehensible morals. Trump, on the other hand, is not really a racist, as he has no real morals — he's amoral (Merriam-Webster definition of amoral: "having or showing no concern about whether behavior is morally right or wrong"). Trump uses issues like racism when he feels it will benefit him, not to take a moral stand. How any "moral" person can support him is beyond me.

Patrick Geraghty, Minneapolis

• • •

To all the immigrants wanting to come to America and reap the benefits molded by generations of hardworking people and brave soldiers who gave their lives to make it what it is today, I have one question: Why don't you fix your own country and spill your own blood and do the hard work that we Americans did in order to make the land of your ancestors a better place?

America does not "owe" anyone a right to be here. Please respect those who sacrificed so much to preserve our Constitution, laws and culture.

Corby Pelto, Plymouth

• • •

How to turn America into a "shithole" nation: (1) Staff government agencies with incompetents and people hostile to the department's mission, loyal only to corporations and their lobbyists. (2) Deny scientific evidence. Slash regulations on pollution. (3) Concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a small elite class. (4) Shred safety nets that protect the health and welfare of the masses. (5) Control thought and language in government agencies. (6) Elect a strong-arm, self-absorbed leader who emulates other despots. (7) Disenfranchise poor and minority voters; redistrict them to the margins. (8) Find virtue in bigotry. Scorn weakness in tolerance. (9) Attack public and higher education; champion charter schools, free of accountability. (10) Underfund revenue collection and industry oversight. (11) Squander the national treasure on a needless edifice. (12) Impoverish the nation with tax breaks for the top 1 percent.

Larry Risser, Minneapolis

• • •

So sad to see that these African countries seem to be sending us their best and greatest as if they don't need an educated class to improve their own countries. Tyler Cowen ("Was Trump right? Let's consult the data," Jan. 16) thinks this is good. I do not.

James Cardinal, Minnetonka

• • •

President Trump's racist "shithole" comment has been vehemently denounced around the world and yet a Jan. 13 letter writer wrote, "I'm proud of my president for having the guts to once again say what many are already thinking." Those "many" whom he refers to are Trump's devoted base, proving that Hillary Clinton was right when she described them as a "basket of deplorables."

Doug Williams, Robbinsdale

Society must improve first

The Jan. 17 letter writers who urged overweight people to fight fat for their health might not realize, unless they themselves have struggled with their weight, that it is much easier to make healthy choices when you already feel accepted for your body size. I have had the most success maintaining my own health when I have access to cute clothes that fit my body, when I see representations of my body type in the media, and when I'm surrounded by people who love and accept me as I am. The women featured in the Jan. 16 article "Join the diet resistance" are advocating for a culture that helps women feel comfortable with their bodies — including access to flattering clothes that fit well — which, for many of us, helps free up mind-space and motivation to make healthy choices and (gasp!) pursue interests we might not have explored if we had been wasting time wringing our hands in front of a mirror.

Heidi Christenson, Stillwater

The writer is a school psychologist.


More body-image insensitivity

I am very surprised and disappointed that the Star Tribune chose to print the "Argyle Sweater" cartoon by Scott Hilburn on Jan. 16. The cartoon shows "Lucy" as a glowing diamond in a school hallway being addressed by three lumps of coal, one of which makes a thinly veiled comment about her breasts — "Wow, she really developed over winter break!" — while the other two make remarks about her. The value of a few chuckles from some folks due to the great difference between coal and a diamond is greatly outweighed by normalizing leering at girls — treating girls (of any age) very disrespectfully, as sex objects. For many girls and boys, it is challenging enough to avoid feeling anxiety about their bodies (whether in puberty or not), and to care for and love their bodies in healthy ways. Printing this harmful cartoon undermines those important goals — and the kicker is that it appears in a section of the newspaper that many boys and girls read.

Anne Ritterspach, Edina