Biden’s flu gaffe

For our sake, he should wear a mask

In regard to Vice President Biden’s remarks regarding the swine flu, I’m sure we’d feel a lot safer if he spent the rest of his term in office wearing a surgical mask!

Tim Kingston, Fridley

Politicizing crime

Grandstanding measures will make us less safe

Last-minute amendments at the Legislature display politics as usual, not good leadership.

Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, wants all “predatory offenders” to have “Mr. Yuck” license plates. Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, wants to ban those convicted of “crimes against property” from working in building weatherization programs for life. He and Sen. Warren Limmer also think some ex-offenders should not be eligible for public assistance, and 112 representatives actually voted for this amendment.

These proposals will only make it more difficult than it already is for ex-offenders to safely rejoin our communities, and will take resources from smart public safety programs, making Minnesota less safe. They also don’t say much for our belief in redemption, forgiveness and human dignity.

I think these legislators know this, and don’t even care if they pass. In the next election, they just want candidates to be able to say, once again, “Representative X voted to hide sex-offenders in your neighborhood.”

Please thank the legislators who did have the courage and sense to oppose these proposals. The good news is their ranks seem to be growing.

Mark Haase, Minneapolis; director of public policy, Council on Crime and Justice

reps misbehaving

GOP outrage for Ellison, mum on Bachmann

It was ironic to note the criticism of Rep. Keith Ellison by Minnesota Republican Party officials for his deliberate arrest in protesting the expulsion of aid groups in Darfur at the Sudanese Embassy on Monday (Star Tribune, April 28). They chastised Ellison’s decision as a “publicity stunt unbecoming of the office he holds.”

Yet we hear nary a peep from these same people over the incessant headline-grabbing shenanigans of Michele Bachmann, their own representative from the Sixth District. Sometimes pronouncements like this can be applied a little closer to home, and with even greater effect.

Charles Cleland, Brooklyn Park

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I find it interesting that the first confirmed Minnesota case of H1N1 Influenza A occurred in Rep. Michele Bachmann’s district. I’m not blaming this on Michele Bachmann, I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.

Amy Huston, Eagan

Specter’s defection

His actions left him on the outside

E.J. Dionne contends that Sen. Arlen Specter’s decision to leave the Republican Party is evidence that it “has little room left for moderates” (Star Tribune, April 29). He is wrong and is mischaracterizing what really happened here.

No GOP leaders forced Specter out. In fact, the last time Pennsylvania’s senior senator was up for reelection in 2004, President George W. Bush and other Senate conservatives rallied around the moderate Specter, helping him beat a more conservative opponent in a primary battle he otherwise likely would have lost.

This time around, however, Pennsylvania Republicans had simply had enough of Specter. And for good reason.

While the Republican Party is open to people of all walks of life and a wide variety of viewpoints, there are a few principles that we do demand our leaders defend. Without any philosophical criteria whatsoever for our candidates, what could we say we stand for?

One thing we do — and should — require of Republican leaders is a record of fiscal responsibility, and Specter’s vote for President Obama’s so-called “stimulus legislation” — a Democratic wish list light on tax cuts and infrastructure expenditures and heavy on nonstimulating spending and entitlement expansion — was simply too much for Republicans in Pennsylvania to swallow. At a time when the GOP is trying hard to reclaim the mantle of fiscal responsibility, Specter is doing the opposite.

And so the Pennsylvania GOP seemed ready to run a different candidate for the U.S. Senate this time who would be tough on spending and advocate tax cuts. What is wrong with that?

The Republican Party is in tough shape today. It has a great deal of work to do in order to restore GOP majorities. Part of that is to encourage some intellectual diversity within our ranks; we need not have absolute consensus on every single issue. But we will not get anywhere if we simply rubber-stamp the fiscally irresponsible policies of the Obama administration, as Specter seemed intent on doing.

Andy Brehm, Wayzata, former press secretary, Sen. Norm Coleman