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Open Forum

Extremes

Letter to the Editor

Three things, that when taken to extremes, are very much similar, are alcoholism, conservatism, and religion.

Some of us know (or have met) people who have allowed themselves to become so addicted to alcohol that it leaves permanent damage. Some people try resisting and fighting their addiction, and deserve much credit. Some don't fight, or don't care, but still deserve our empathy and respect.

Extensive alcohol use begins to damage the mind and brain , and the person starts experiencing distorted, almost hallucinatory views of the world around them. When you talk with them, they speak something almost gibberish or "in tongues": desultory, disconnected speech and ideas. They might think they're doing fine, but to everyone else, their words have no rationale; their ideas are incoherent. They make little or no sense, and many people disengage from them and move away ASAP.

A measure of conservatism is in most people, serving useful evolutionary purposes. Some rely on it more than others, depending what point they're at on their own personal evolutionary scale. The serious problem with conservatism though, is that like alcohol, it tends to lead to addiction. Uncontrolled conservatism becomes Nazism, or fascism. Some people succomb to the natural tendency for conservatism to be addictive, and like distilleries or breweries for alcohol, use conservatism as a way to gather money. They most commonly use radio and television as "dealers; Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and those sorts of things. But being fed this diet of disinformation and misinformation (fake news, faux news, etc.) forces the interconnections of the brain to create  'open' and 'short' circuits. It's now been shown that forcing the mind to accept that which isn't true, eventually leads to actual physical brain damage!

Religion works much the same way, but instead of using distorted or untrue logic as conservatism does, it just requires the mind to accept absolutes without any proof whatsoever. The bible's contradictory instructions written down by men are justified, by being called "the inspired word of god". But I always ask, "Who says so?" Man.

The entire bible (almost any religious variation) can be condensed into 10 Words: not even 10 Commandments. “Do unto others as you'd have others do unto you."

When any two or three of alcoholism, conservatism, or religion are combined, the harm is multiplied, not just added.

Greed is a fourth component. It can use all the other three.

A. Martin
Merrifield, MN

County Attorney sues County Board

Letter to the Editor

The Crow Wing County Board met Friday in emergency session to hire legal representative in a lawsuit it’s facing from County Attorney.

Ryan, who was elected County attorney in 1994, is suing the board over his 2017 budget proposal, alleging funds the board approved are not reasonable for the duties required of his office.

Ryans budget submission would have resulted in a budget increase for the county attorney’s office of $189.410. Assuming no other charges were made to the county’s budget, this would have a .38 percent increase in the county’s overall property tax levy over 2016. Instead, the county board passed a property tax level with reductions for the seventh straight year. The value of Ryan’s budget amounts to .21 percent of the county’s $83.27 budget.

The legal cost associated with the appeal was one reason Ryan cited for seeking a resolution with the board. “Consequently, I am available if the board of commissioners are interested in negotiating an amical resolution prior to incurring outside counsel expenses.”

Commissioner Rachel Reebe Nystrom said: “We have served along side our county attorney for 10 years. This is a sad day in Crow Wing County, “Nystrom said. “Even the letters to the editor are already ratcheting up. Our citizens are watching us.”

The case has been assigned to Cass County Judge David Harrington. A scheduling conference is set for 11 a.m.  Jan. 18.

Bob Uppgaard
Pequot Lakes, MN

Cass County Community Outreach Day

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office announces that the next “Community Outreach Day” will be held Thursday, January 19, 2017 from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM at the Sylvan Township Building, located at 12956 24th Avenue SW in Pillager, MN 56473. We invite you to come and visit with Sheriff Tom Burch and members of the Sheriff’s Office staff.

The Outreach days provide a good opportunity to learn about initiatives within the Sheriff’s Office. Applications for a Permit to Carry a Firearm or Purchase a Firearm, Alarm Permit Applications and Event Permit Applications will be available. Our portable “Take It To The Box” prescription drug disposal box will be there to dispose of your old, unneeded prescriptions. Staff can also assist you in signing up for our instant emergency notification program “Nixle.”

We look forward to hearing how we can improve public safety in your neighborhoods.

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Sen. Al Franken: In New Year, I’ll put Minnesota first

Op-Ed

In the wake of last year’s dramatic and surprising presidential election, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what the new year will bring.

Given the political earthquake we experienced in 2016, I’ll refrain from making any predictions about what this year’s political environment might be like. Instead, I’ll make this promise: No matter what the new administration brings, and no matter how divisive Washington may be, I’ll always put our state first — and I’ll never stop fighting to deliver for Minnesota.

It’s no secret I disagreed with pretty much everything Donald Trump said during his campaign and, like many Minnesotans, I found some of his rhetoric downright offensive. But he will be our president. And while we can’t yet say what he’ll do when he takes office later this month, I can say I’m going to keep doing my job the same way I always have, working to make progress for the people of Minnesota wherever I can.

For example, the president-elect has signaled an interest in working on infrastructure, and while I’m concerned about whether his approach to the issue reflects the best interests of working people (and not merely the profit motives of big corporations), I’m hopeful we may be able to get some important local projects underway.

Health care is another issue of concern as we look ahead to the new administration. I’m prepared to fight back if and when the new president attempts to wipe out the progress we made in the Affordable Care Act to protect people with pre-existing conditions, to slow the growth in  health care costs, and to bring the best of Minnesota’s own health care innovations to the rest of the country. I’ll stand my ground if Republicans try to end the Medicare guarantee or slash Medicaid or take coverage away from millions of people.

But I’m also ready to find common ground with colleagues of both parties on ways to continue improving our health care system.

Believe it or not, that common ground does exist.

For example, in December, the 21st Century Cures Act—a bipartisan compromise that contained support for potentially lifesaving medical research as well as a number of other provisions I’ve been working to get done for a long time—was signed into law.

One such provision stems from what I learned on my 28-city rural health tour last year. Our rural communities face a series of unique health care challenges, none more serious than the epidemic of opioid abuse. I always have believed there’s nothing partisan about this issue, and the progress we made in this bill is proof. Thanks to the  support of Democrats and Republicans alike, we were able to secure more than $1 billion to combat opioid abuse in communities across the country.

The Cures law also includes a comprehensive measure I wrote to improve how our criminal justice system treats people with mental illness. My measure includes ideas that I heard from communities all across Minnesota about how to reduce the number of people who wind up in jail when they should be receiving treatment: it funds mental health courts and diversion programs (which can help people who get in trouble with the law receive counseling and rehabilitation instead of jail time), and it supports training for law enforcement professionals so they can respond to mental health crises safely and effectively.

To be sure, there’s lots more work to be done—not just on infrastructure, health care, and criminal justice, but across the board. And we need to do everything we can to improve our economy so that every family in Minnesota can build some real financial security. And, of course, we need to do all this in a Washington where progress never has come easily.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken represents Minnesota in Washington, D.C.

Dayton revives bonding bill

Letter to the Editor

Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday proposed that the state borrow close to $1.5 billion for construction to upgrade water-quality systems, roads and bridges, airports and other public works around the state. The plan would create an estimated 23,000 direct jobs, with the added goal of spurring future economic activity by upgrading the state’s transportation network.

Much of what Dayton proposed was pulled directly from a bonding bill that lawmakers nearly passed at the end of last year’s legislation session, but fell apart at the last minute over partisan differences. Released on the second day of this year’s session, Dayton is pressing the GOP-led Legislature to tackle unfinished work from last year. In addition to the bonding bill, that includes tax cuts, and financial assistance to help an estimated 125,000 Minnesotans who face steep health care premium hikes this year. “I’m proposing a bonding bill that should have been passed nine months ago,” Dayton told reporters during a conference call. “Time is of the essence to make up for the lost bonding year and get these projects ready to go starting next spring and summer with the construction season.”

Bob Uppgaard
Pequot Lakes, MN

Rep Nolan comments on snafu over Office of Congressional Ethics

As the new Congress begins, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan shared his reaction to the Republican majority’s effort to dismantle the Office of Congressional Ethics:

“I’m so glad that we were able to push back the Republican efforts to diminish the ethics standards here in the House. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t give President-Elect Donald Trump an assist for that in our success. The reputation of the Congress of the United States has never been lower and has never been in greater need for repair. For the life of me, I don’t know what the Republicans were thinking by starting off the new Congress, which they control, by doing away with important ethical standards that are needed and absolutely necessary to restore Americans’ confidence in our government and in the Congress in particular.”

Peace Is Needed

I believe we should focus on world peace for the following reasons: Think of all the people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and many other places where war has been going on for years. The people who live there can’t get out of their houses to get food and water, farm or go to work because there is a war going on. There are children who cannot go outside to play or go to school because it is not safe. Some kids have grown up to be 31 years old and have not been alive 1 day without being in war.

If we had world peace, men and women could come home from fighting to be with family and friends. Parents have to leave their kids for 12 months at the least, sometimes 16, 20 or 24 months to fight, then come back for maybe 2 months, then go back to war! If there was world peace it would stop the Iraq war because we would agree not to fight.

If we had world peace there would not be as many wars about people’s differences because we would be nice to each other. In Somalia, they are fighting because the people belong to different tribes and they don’t trust one another. They argue till they try to kill each other. The same racist feelings have led to war being fought right now in Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe but Africa is not the only continent that has racial wars. Nearly every war has  been due to race or customs or religion. We even see it right here in the states where people want the Somalia community out of some areas such as St. Cloud.

My friend’s granddad almost got bombed in a war. I feel sad for the families who lost people they love in a war. I think we should focus on world peace because that would solve many problems. Please help each other so we can save the world from war!

Kat Beireis
Pequot Lakes, MN

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