The Jan. 18 front-page article on the assertion of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., that U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is “compromised” by his unabashed 180-degree turn on supporting President Donald Trump, was misleading from the top. It unfortunately just repeated a very conservative pundit’s assertion or faux outrage that Omar had no “evidence” to advance her political opinion. Nowhere did she assert there was any illegality or even a breach of ethics. So why does she need “evidence”?
And she was absolutely on the mark, obvious to any political or media person, that Graham suddenly, the day after his moral compass and friend U.S. Sen. John McCain died, became Trump’s biggest defender after years of telling Americans how frightening a Trump presidency would be. As a political media strategist, I’ve made the same assumptions of the potential compromises Trump has on Graham. Did Graham suddenly have an epiphany that Trump is the best president ever?
I call BS, and I’m so happy that we have a number of new congresspeople unafraid to call BS on Sen. Graham and the rest of the good-old-white-boys network. (I’m white.)
Thomas Harens, Chaska
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Kudos to new Rep. Omar for calling out Sen. Graham for his moral ambivalence, not to say spinelessness — having formally denigrated then-presidential candidate Trump in 2015 for being a “race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot” and currently serving as Trump’s obsequious supporter.
My abiding memories of Graham are similarly contradictory: (1) of him waving his arms and pleading with his congressional colleagues “to not dismiss this case” in the 1990s impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton for having had a sexual encounter with a consenting adult, and (2) his baring his teeth and loudly demeaning Democratic senators during the recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings for their willingness to investigate a woman’s sexual assault testimony against nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The man (Graham) is a moral poser. The only good thing I can think about him is that he was reportedly a close friend of McCain, in whose life there are several incidents of moral courage: (1) his refusal to be freed as a Vietnam War POW if it meant leaving his fellow POWs still in captivity, (2) his 2008 defense of opponent Barack Obama at a Minnesota presidential election rally, and (3) his deciding vote on upholding the Affordable Care Act. What a contrast there is between these two Republican cohorts, and Graham’s moral ambivalence dishonors that friendship.
On the other hand, there’s a lot to like about Omar. We are going to hear a lot about her in the future.
Michael Woolsey, Eden Prairie
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In response to her tweet that Graham was compromised, Omar responded that it was “just an opinion based on what I believe to be visible to me.” As a constituent, I expect more from my newly elected representative. My advice: Hold your opinions until you have tried to see the world from perspectives other than your own.
Jack Uldrich, Minneapolis
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I agree with the assertion of Jennifer Carnahan, chairwoman of the Minnesota Republican Party, that “Rep. Omar is now in a position of power and should realize her words and tweets have consequences.” But I long for the day that Carnahan and other leaders of the Republican Party can say the same about a person who is in an even higher position of power — President Trump! Omar’s one unsubstantiated assertion is nothing compared with the hundreds (thousands?) of unsubstantiated statements from Trump.
Curtis Aaseng, Hastings
Industry, too easily, uses ads to target new populations
With so many advertising dollars spent on creating the illusion of a “healthier” way to smoke, it’s no wonder that so many people are fooled into believing that e-cigarettes are better for them (“Decline of smoking in state slows,” Jan. 16). Just read one of the full-page ads in the Star Tribune placed by Juul, and you’d almost think that these things are actually beneficial. Unfortunately, many young people actually believe this, and the industry has found a whole new population of users. This should make me happy. As a professional hypnotist, it means that I can rely on a steady stream of clients who at some point will either want or need to quit. It’s also interesting to note that the industry has a huge benefit in keeping up the belief that quitting is hard, so don’t bother. Every day, people stop smoking in all sorts of ways. I just wonder why we continue to make it so easy for new populations to be targeted in advertising?
Kelli von Heydekampf, Edina
$10 million for this? Unacceptable.
Ten million dollars of taxpayer money for the Final Four is an obscenity (front page, Jan. 18). I want my tax dollars to address real issues that our communities face: the homeless and low-income-housing crisis; health care subsidies, infrastructure, domestic violence, the opioid crisis and drug treatment programs. But $10,000,000 for a sports event?! What la-la land do the powers that be live in? This has got to be some kind of a sick joke. We cannot afford this kind of horrifying mismanagement of our tax dollars. U.S. Bank Stadium has been a financial fiasco for the majority of the population from day one. No one I know is the least bit interested in subsidizing the sports industry with its megamillion-dollar events. I have no problem paying taxes if the money is well-spent. But this is so outrageous I can hardly comprehend it.
Chris Cinque, Minneapolis
IMAGE ARCHIVE OF WOMEN’S HATS
The dark underside of that era was the harm brought to birds
In response to the Jan. 17 article “Brimming With Hats” about the herculean effort of a Minnesota Historical Society staffer photographing and digitizing the society’s massive hat collection for public viewing online, some mention should be made about the dark and devastating effect that the women’s millinery trade had on native birds in the U.S.
The huge consumer market for decorative feathers used in the millinery trade during the late 19th and early 20th centuries had disastrous effects on our native bird populations and resulted in the extinction and near-extinction of many species. According to the American Ornithologist Union (established in 1886), more than 5 million North American birds were being killed each year for hat feathers. Prices paid to hunters for showy and colorful feather plumes soared, and it was common that mature birds were harvested, leaving baby birds to slowly starve to death in their nests.
By the late 1880s, it was women conservationists across the United States who began to organize and publicize this bird holocaust. And it was largely through the efforts of informed women and the newly formed Audubon Society that public awareness and sensitivity to the issue grew, leading to the adoption of state and federal laws such as the Lacey Act of 1900 and the Weeks-McLean Act of 1913. Eventually, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 was passed, which made it “unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, possess, sell, purchase, barter, import, export or transport any migratory bird,” effectively putting an end to the era of feather hats.
Hats off to the Minnesota Historical Society for documenting this fashion trend, but let’s all take a moment of silence to reflect upon the millions of birds who lost their lives to decorate a hat.
Louise M. Segreto, Edina
The writer is vice president of the Minnesota Division of the Izaak Walton League and a member of the board of the Bush Lake Chapter of the Minnesota Izaak Walton League.