On Monday, President Donald Trump announced that he’s drastically shrinking two national monuments in Utah’s red rock country — newly designated Bears Ears National Monument and 21-year-old Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. His actions are not only a denigration of the millions of Americans who voiced support for national monuments during the comment period, but also to the tribes that requested Bears Ears be established to protect the treasure trove of cultural resources found there.
Many of our national parks got their start as national monuments. What we stand to lose at these two locales are potentially America’s greatest national parks yet. I sat with paleontologists while they steadfastly worked on unearthing rare dinosaur fossils discovered in Grand Staircase-Escalante. And I can’t wait to hike Cedar Mesa in Bears Ears to see ancient cliff dwellings up close.
We cannot allow Trump to dictate what’s worthy of protection. Our American heritage is at stake, and it includes our Native American heritage with five tribes, the Utah Dine Bikeyah, finally participating in managing their ancestral lands at Bears Ears. I stand with them in saying leave Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante intact. They are national treasures that belong to all of us.
Amy Garcia, St. Paul
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Mr. President, big mistake to move the embassy (“Trump forges ahead on Jerusalem despite warnings of violence,” StarTribune.com, Dec. 5).
This move will be catastrophic in the Middle East and will remove the U.S. as the main peace broker to others who might not be sympathetic to Israel.
Mr. President, the Jerusalem issue is tied to total peace agreements, as is the issue of Palestinian refugees, and this has been the standing U.S. policy. To unilaterally move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is to say “to hell with Palestinians and their concerns.” Indeed, you promised this during the campaign; however, it is a thorny issue that is taken seriously by the U.S. allies in the region. To disregard their advice is to create a new axis in the region and make the U.S. an unreliable partner.
It is OK to not fulfill all of your campaign promises, as you said after your inauguration.
David Sindiga, Roseville
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On April 6, 1977, in an interview with David Frost, President Richard Nixon famously stated that “if the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.”
Now we learn that John Dowd, an attorney for President Trump, claimed on Sunday that “President [Trump] cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.”
It turned out that Nixon was wrong and that acting on this viewpoint was indeed illegal and eventually cost him his job. I’m looking forward to more of this kind of history repeating itself, if not the sordid, daily rehashing of the details.
Mark R. Jacobson, Richville, Minn.
PERFORMANCE AND POLITICS
Events turn rather uneasy at Orchestra Hall, and for what?
Oh, come on, Manny Laureano! You make a scene by walking off stage during a performance Saturday, disrupting our magnificent orchestra’s performance because a guest singer made a few political statements! (“Minnesota Orchestra trumpeter storms off stage in protest of performer’s anti-GOP comments,” StarTribune.com, Dec. 5.)
I am a very amateur cellist, and when I read about your tantrum during the Minnesota Orchestra performance with guest singer Rufus Wainwright, I recalled my cello teacher talking about how difficult it is for talented performers to land a job with an orchestra. My good friends’ daughter, a superb flutist, will soon be cast in with thousands of other talented flutists for a handful of jobs with orchestras across the country. And here you are, a member of the world-renowned Minnesota Orchestra, deciding that you will not do your job on a particular night. Your job is to play — not to protest. I hope your employer makes that distinction during your next review.
Thomas Collins, St. Paul
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I applaud Laureano for walking off the stage at Orchestra Hall. The entertainment stage is not the place for political comments, either by Rufus Wainwright or Meryl Streep.
Harryet Wicks, Golden Valley
An interest group wants you to buy in. Will you?
This morning I read the commentary by Jason Flohrs, Minnesota state director of Americans for Prosperity, stating that U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken “are wrong to oppose tax reform.” Some of your readers may not understand that Americans for Prosperity is in actuality a lobbying organization funded in large part by the Koch brothers and a surrogate for the archconservative Tea Party movement. The two tax bills, one offered by the Republicans in the U.S. House and the other by the Republicans in the U.S. Senate, take trillions of dollars from the American people to give grotesque tax breaks to billionaires, huge corporations and other privileged special-interest groups, while at the same time their tax breaks are likely to increase the deficit by $1.4 trillion. It’s not hard to foresee that the next step by these same “fiscally responsible” legislators will be to call for “deficit reduction” by proposing major cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs essential to the 99 percent that comprise the rest of us. The vast proportion of the American people will lose and the rich will get richer. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Roger Roe, Naples, Fla.
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They’re at it again. By misusing statistics (lying, in most people’s eyes), the conservatives are desperately trying to sell us their tax giveaways to the rich. They cite the periods after JFK’s and Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts as times of increasing incomes. Most trusting folks would conclude from this that the tax cuts caused incomes to increase. But a brief google shows that the times were just as prosperous, and the increases in annual income just as good, before those tax increases as after. In other words, the tax cuts had nothing to do with increases in income. If they can’t make their case without lying, they should regroup and try to pass a tax reform bill that actually does what they claim it will do.
Mary McLeod, St. Paul
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Give me a break! The Democrats run up the national debt by $9 trillion over eight years, but scream bloody murder when the GOP tax bill runs it up by maybe $1 trillion. Democrats will rue the day they did nothing but obstruct the tax bill.
William Howard, Minneapolis
Viewpoint as portrayed in cartoon misled, didn’t belong
Shame on you for printing Lisa Benson’s political cartoon on sanctuary cities (Dec. 5). It’s one thing to show differences of opinion about policy and the virtues or moral failings of public leaders, but this cartoon is a blatant lie. Sanctuary policies don’t advocate for letting felons out of jail. They advocate for public safety by separating the role of police from the role of immigration enforcement. When police do the work of immigration officers, immigrant witnesses and immigrant crime victims fear cooperating with police. Communities become mistrustful and less safe. That is why I am proud that Minneapolis is a sanctuary city and why I support further policies to strengthen that commitment. Don’t print lies masquerading as political commentary on an issue already so fraught with misunderstanding and tension.
Amy Lange, Minneapolis