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As I listened to politicians on the news recently, many said if we didn't pass the voting rights legislation that this would be the end of democracy ("Two Dems join GOP, foil voting rights bill," front page, Jan. 20). First, one has to wonder how this country has survived for 200-plus years without it. I am certainly not opposed to changes when necessary. But to repeat an old adage, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Extremely little is written or on the news about what exactly is in this legislation that we need to survive as a democracy. What I read in the Star Tribune on Thursday said laws have been passed in many states to suppress Black voters and others. What I challenge the Star Tribune to do is list what exactly is in the laws in these states that will suppress voting — not reversing whatever was changed due to the pandemic but changes from previous laws that will suppress voting rights. Star Tribune, get the information out there to the public so we can see what we so desperately need to survive as a democracy.

Bruce Granger, West Concord, Minn.


Regarding the arguments in Clive Crook's commentary ("Biden is adding to democracy's dangers," Opinion Exchange, Jan. 18): Crook's argument appears to be step three in the process of disenfranchising segments of the population.

Step 1: Incessantly tell the public that they don't trust the vote. Don't worry about the fact that no evidence of significant fraud could be found.

Step 2: Pass laws that limit the ability of some people to vote so that "trust can be restored."

Step 3: Accuse those who are trying to preserve the ability of all eligible voters to do so of being divisive.

There it is. Simple. Hopefully not effective.

Thomas Erling Kottke, St. Paul


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A Jan. 20 letter writer asserted that the withdrawal from Afghanistan was reckless and that we left billions of dollars' worth of equipment behind. According to reports from Department of Defense, the hardware was obsolete, damaged and/or destroyed prior to departure. It's fine to disagree with the withdrawal, but the consensus among military and foreign policy was that President Joe Biden had little choice — or in Minnesota parlance, he had to "either fish or cut bait." He was left with an agreement that provided few good choices.

Contrary to the writer's criticisms, gas prices and inflation have nothing to do with Biden. Had Donald Trump won and pursued vaccinations, basic supply and demand would have had the same effects. In this country in 2020, a raging COVID virus shut down much of the country, including travel, work, industry. This results in low or no demand, and the effect is lower supply needs and lower prices to drive demand. Inflation is also Econ 101: Low demand during 2020 due to COVID means pent-up demand when vaccination takes hold. It would not have mattered who was in office when this massive pent-up demand happened, combined with supply-chain disruption.

The writer's last opinion is the most egregious, that Biden's handling of the pandemic was worse than Trump's. It actually is the same tired recitation of 2021 numbers that circulates on various cable networks. The fact is that Trump badly handled every facet of the outbreak with the exception of the vaccine development, and he outsourced that, and a decision was made to pre-fund vaccine development. While true that 2021 had greater infections and deaths, multiple factors contributed to both, not the least of which was poor uptake of vaccines by certain members of political parties, a spread of more infectious variants, a resistance to professional health guidance and just recently our own judicial system.

People are entitled to their own opinions but not their own set of facts. Particularly in these times.

Mike Cassidy, Wayzata


I find it ironic that a letter writer in Thursday's paper would make the claim: "In just a year's time, Biden's poor business and economic decisions drove up gas prices at the pump and inflation in everyone's pocketbook." Then, just a couple paragraphs later, he would laud how Ronald Reagan "made us quickly forget" Jimmy Carter's "floundering" presidency. And yet the beginning of Reagan's presidency, 1980-1981, had one of the highest inflation rates in the last 70-plus years, nearly triple the 2021 average rate of 4.7%.

See how easy it is to cherry-pick issues and then find the data to support your point of view? It's a major enabler of this country's bifurcated and toxic political environment today.

Richard Holman, Loretto

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