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I find it bewildering that state Sen. Paul Gazelka (“I’d like to expand on my thanks to the president,” Opinion Exchange, Oct. 15) summarizes his piece by writing, “I’m choosing substance over style.”

Substance? Style? The current president voluminously and famously displays neither.

On the substance side, Gazelka’s assertions of President Donald Trump’s success (tax cuts, restoring choice to health care and protecting pre-existing conditions, immigration reform, better trade deals) are all either greatly exaggerated or flat-out wrong.

As for style, Gazelka unbelievably tries to justify rudeness, bullying, misogyny, white supremacy, and a total lack of decorum and class by writing, “Trump’s style is necessary to his leadership.” I assume, then, that Gazelka is on board with the Trump supporter at the rally whose sign advocated hanging “traitor liberals.”

Undoubtedly there was poorly directed passion and impropriety from some of Trump’s supporters and some of the protesters, but there was no effort by Trump to bring civility to the occasion.

Style? I think not.

Mark R. Nordling, Lakeville

• • •

I was struck today by the contrasts reflected in the opinion section of the Star Tribune. On the one hand, there was Gazelka’s commentary, where he “wants to expand on [his] thanks to the president” and on the other, a letter to the editor that regrets that some of our Somali neighbors feel unwanted given the hateful rhetoric of Trump’s recent rally speech.

I find it very telling that an elected official in our state chose to thank Mr. Trump rather than make all the citizens feel welcome in the state he works for.

For those who are native to Minnesota, you may take good government for granted. I do not. I moved here, in part, because this state has a commitment to the common good, and to pursuing (if not always achieving) the best for everyone who lives here. Gazelka’s commentary reflects badly on that reputation. For our Somali neighbors and other refugees and immigrants who felt diminished by hateful comments by our president, please know that you are very much wanted (and needed) to weave the rich tapestry that is Minnesota.

Sandy Wolfe Wood, Stillwater

TRUMP RALLY COSTS

For purely political visits, pay up

I agree with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s assertion that taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for the president’s visit when the purpose is strictly political (“Why I asked Trump’s campaign for reimbursement,” Opinion Exchange, Oct. 15).

Readers may not be aware that when the president engages in travel that is purely political in nature, like a rally, either his campaign or the Republican National Committee is supposed to reimburse the Air Force for the operation of Air Force One. To do otherwise would put the Air Force and Department of Defense in the position of funding part of a political campaign. When presidential travel is part of his job, such as touring natural disasters or foreign state visits, the bill is on the taxpayers. (Apparently neither the White House nor the Air Force care to disclose the actual cost. Internet sources quote the operating cost of Air Force One at anywhere from $165,000 up to $275,000 per hour. The Treasury Department says the actual reimbursement cost reflects what a similar charter flight would cost the government.)

By the same token, local taxpayers should not have to pay the expenses of any political candidate.

As a taxpayer I do not care to subsidize any campaign, whether I support the candidate or not. Consider that the president may be traveling here again before the 2020 election. This is a state he wants to turn, but should Minnesota taxpayers be required to subsidize such purely political activities?

John Fouts, Eagan

• • •

Kudos to the Minneapolis Police Department for its officers’ successful efforts at keeping the peace on the streets of the city during and after President Donald Trump’s recent Target Center rally. Mayor Frey, on the other hand, has much to answer for, given his poisoning of the dialogue before the event.

When he characterized the president’s decisions as “reprehensible,” he had to know that he was virtue-signaling to a largely left-wing constituency, some of whom resorted to violence. The Star Tribune did a disservice to its readers in its failure to accurately report on the violence that protesters visited upon citizens attending an event with the unique opportunity to have a firsthand visit from our president. While some of the president’s remarks were crude and intemperate, nothing justified the protesters’ searching out and physically attacking attendees, never mind their attacks on our police force.

This isn’t what America is all about. We are the most free nation in history, steeped in our founders’ constitutionally guaranteed right of free expression. Yes, we are a deeply divided state and nation. But, we must all honor everyone’s right to express themselves free of violence.

Mark H. Reed, Plymouth

CONGRESS

Shorter terms won’t fix much

An Oct. 14 letter to the editor, “We need congressional term limits,” stated that term limits would solve many of the problems in Congress today. Term limits have been incorporated in many states, but with unanticipated, counterproductive results:

• Members may need to leave office just when they are becoming experts in complex areas.

• The focus becomes even more short-term than it is now.

• Unelected staff have more influence because they are permanent and more knowledgeable than short-term elected officials.

• There are fewer alliances between members of opposing parties because of the turnover, increasing polarization.

• The legislative branch becomes less effective for numerous reasons, from decreased influence of leadership to reduced commitment to members’ roles as legislators.

The only “accomplishment” of term limits is shorter terms (of course). Given all the adverse effects of term limits, such initiatives are not the answer to any of the Congressional issues stated in the letter, such as polarization and indifference to voters’ desires.

Nic Baker, Roseville

THE KURDS

Trump pulls troops from Syria, and allies and adversaries take note

President Donald Trump has pulled all U.S. troops out of northern Syria and thereby given the green light for a Turkish incursion and forced the Kurds to find succor with our rivals. The U.S. military has a long history of providing American forces as trip wires in international areas of conflict. We place these troops there to ensure that our enemies know that an attack on this area is an attack on American interests and that the U.S. will fight.

My first assignment in Europe in the 1970s was to northeast Bavaria, up against the Czech and East German borders. We knew that if the Soviet Bloc attacked, our unit would be quickly enveloped or overrun, but that this act would ensure that the might of the U.S. was fully engaged. It was a deterrent.

This same deterrent has been effective in U.S. military/State Department strategies throughout our history and relies upon a belief by our allies that we are steadfast in their defense and a belief by our adversaries that we will defend the ground and our allies.

This act by the commander in chief broke this belief. He abandoned our allies without giving them any notice or warning. Our bond of trust was broken.

Will we next pull all U.S. forces off the Korean Demilitarized Zone one night and tell the North Koreans to do what they want? Our allies must now wonder.

Ron Olney, Eden Prairie

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