Regarding President Donald Trump’s being used to support Russian interests over the interests of the U.S. (“Trump and Russia: Americans need facts,” editorial, Jan. 15): Has it occurred to anyone else that we have all — Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, journalists, all of us — been manipulated? We are so divided that we suspect people of not speaking the truth instead of listening. Our news has become opinions, so we will “understand” as others would have us see something rather than reporting for us to be able to form our own opinions. The U.S. is so divided that we are at an impasse. Back in about 1959, I remember Nikita Khrushchev, variously, pounding his shoe on his desk in the United Nations and declaring that the Soviet Union would “bury” us, the West. From where I stand, if not the Russians, then the cynics of the world are doing a very good job.
Penny Saiki, Wayzata
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The Edward R. Murrow quote cited in a Jan. 13 letter caught my attention. The quote is: “To be persuasive, we must be believable. To be believable, we must be credible. To be credible, we must be truthful.”
First, I question the self-anointed mission of the press to be “persuasive.” Adopting such a posture presupposes that the press knows better than the citizenry, and needs to “persuade” it that the collective wisdom of the populace is somehow incorrect or otherwise substandard.
Second, I believe the word “truthful” is misapplied, in that it implies that a particular interpretation or filter has colored the reporting of an event or circumstance. A far better word, and concept, would be “factual,” which would leave the decision regarding truth with the reader where it belongs. Facts themselves simply are — they carry no truth (or other value judgment) until bestowed with that high accolade by the thoughtful reflection of the citizen.
Bill Sutherland, Eden Prairie
PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
The moral (and opportunity) costs of conceding to Trump
A Jan. 14 commentary about the ongoing partial shutdown, now the longest in U.S. history, suggested that Democrats agree to President Trump’s demands on border wall funding, as a way to act as the adults in the room (“Nancy and Chuck: Do the necessary thing and negotiate on the wall”). Normally, this would be the ideal route to take in a situation like this, a moral victory in the face of compromise. But this is not one of those times.
The Trump administration has a history of changing the goalposts, sometimes on a whim, leaving the rest of the government scrambling to recover. Trump himself has single-handedly destroyed any chance of congressional Democrats trusting him to keep his word. Conceding now would only give him a green light to continue making erratic demands, with the confidence that Congress will eventually cave in a confrontation.
A historical scenario shows the danger of that route; to me, conceding here would be akin to the appeasement period immediately before the outbreak of World War II, where in the effort to secure “peace for our time,” European aggressors were free to make various claims and land grabs. Eventually, a line was crossed, and the rest is history.
Obviously, this is not a direct comparison to those events, but the principle behind it is the same. Conceding now in an effort to keep the government running and to maintain the status quo will only encourage the president’s behavior.
Trump needs to be contained, not appeased. And the pressure is growing on him, as well as Congress, to end the shutdown. It needs to end, and it will end, one way or another. But with falling public opinion and a growing number of Republicans turning away, it probably won’t be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who has to back down.
Connor Johnson, Lakeville
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I think that an important issue is being overlooked in the political dispute regarding possible construction of a wall on the Southern border.
President Trump has proposed to spend $5 billion of federal taxpayer money to construct this wall. In contrast, the Congress has proposed allocation of $1 billion for other measures to increase border security.
How else could that $5 billion be spent?
To use an example that hits close to home, please note that the entire budget of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is $5.7 billion. The NCI leads the nation’s research efforts to treat and prevent cancer. Right now, only 12 percent of NCI research grants are funded, and many valuable research projects are not supported. If even a portion of the proposed wall funds were allocated to the NCI, cancer research could advance more rapidly. This is an area of research where we have led the world in the past, but more of the important advances are now coming from overseas.
Each day, in my practice, I see benefits from cancer research. We are successfully treating more cancers using treatment developed through NCI research, prolonging lives and curing cancers that previously had a grim prognosis. But we need to do better. Each year, 600,000 Americans die of this disease, and it touches every family in the country.
As an oncologist, I always hope to see improvement in our ability to treat this disease. As a citizen, I recognize that cancer is only one threat to the safety of the country. But I ask our elected leaders to make wise decisions as they spend our tax money, decisions that will truly keep all families safe and healthy.
Dr. Thomas Amatruda, Edina
Leadership shake-up just seems part of an escalating politicization trend
As a former journalist and former staffer of the Metropolitan Council, I have followed the agency closely since its creation more than 50 years ago. One of many things I have observed: Each governor seems to politicize the council and its staff more than the previous one (“Metro Transit veteran ousted,” Jan. 15).
I had hoped this trend had peaked under Gov. Mark Dayton, but apparently not. The recent staff shuffle at the council apparently was driven by the desire to create a high-paying job for Meredith Vadis, a former congressional aide of Gov. Tim Walz.
The big loser in his shuffle was Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb, who has done a terrific job of maintaining and expanding transit service despite very challenging political and fiscal circumstances. Brian’s big sin: He served briefly as state commissioner of administration under GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
The council and region will miss the expertise of Brian and his former deputy, Mark Fuhrmann, especially in working to secure support for regional transit projects through the complex and often confounding processes of the Federal Transit Administration.
Steven Dornfeld, Woodbury
A twist of fate on Hwy. 420
Those concerned that legalizing marijuana will result in many impaired drivers (Readers Write, Jan. 14) should realize that those impaired drivers are already on the road. Legalizing pot will not affect those who drive stoned — they’re going to get high whether it’s legal or not — but it may provide funding for law enforcement to react.
Keith Bogut, Lake Elmo