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On Friday morning we saw a mug shot of a former U.S. president, and it is the face of a petulant child determined to ruin the family’s Christmas photo. As he has always been hyperaware of images and the use of media, I am not surprised that the face in this mug shot is one that seems practiced. It is like everything else in the media touched by this particular spin-monger: performative and disingenuous. It is no accident that the face we see is glowering, vindictive one. Just like the little boy in the Christmas card, he’s determined to communicate his displeasure and voice a passive, feckless protest. What is that protest? What does he choose to take a stand on? He’s shared it in the first post of his newly reinstated Twitter/X account, the mug shot with the caption “Never surrender.” Since the photo is taken at the moment of a literal surrender, the “hold my breath” peevishness of the posture seems even more ridiculous. But, if it is childish, it also is the face for the anger and grievance that has fueled his rise as a demagogue. It is the face of a child, who even when confronted with his own foolishness, chooses to “never surrender,” not back down, and punish everyone with his performative rage. If we allow that angry child to do so, he will create enough noise to destroy everything around him.

The one-time president is now a four-times-indicted candidate, and he will raise money and create buzz with this image. It will be on T-shirts, marketing emails, lawn signs and banners in the year ahead and will literally be waved as a standard to rally behind. But if it is published and repeated, it is marketing and not policy. It will excite and anger many, but offer no hope — only the opportunity for some to “hold their breath” alongside an angry child.

The great weight of our times is to be careful to not mistake this peevishness for courage; to not mistake theatrics for governance; and to not let rage and noise replace our honest need for ideas and vision. We cannot allow an angry child to do that.

Michael Whistler, Minneapolis


The Aug. 23 Star Tribune carried an article announcing Trump’s proposed “ring around the U.S. economy” universal tariff of a flat 10% on all goods coming into and purchased by U.S. consumers (“Trump vows major new tariffs if elected”). Trump is off the mark, of course, but that is not announcing anything new about him. It appears doubtful that he really knows what a U.S. tariff is. He talks as if it would be paid by the foreign companies who bring their goods into the U.S. That is not the case. A tariff imposed by the U.S. government on such goods is actually a tax imposed on the U.S. purchasers who buy such products.

Let’s assume we have a widget that is produced in another country, and it comes into the U.S. to be distributed by an import dealer that would normally sell that widget for $100. With the 10% tariff applied, the widget will now cost the American customer $110. The foreign company may eventually feel the effect of the tariff because fewer may be sold at the higher price. But the initial effect will first be felt by the U.S. customers who buy the widgets, who will have to fork over an extra $10. That money then goes to the Treasury; it is in fact a tax on the U.S. consumer paid to the government. The outside company that made and imported the widget does not pay one dime into the Treasury in this transaction. That 10% hike is paid by the U.S. consumer.

We ought to at least know this before Trump gets too far ahead with this thinking. Still, maybe his plan is to add a 10% tax on the U.S. consumer.

David Lingo, Golden Valley


I was dismayed by the front-page headline and subhead for the article on Judge Natalie Hudson as the new chief justice for the Minnesota Supreme Court (“Supreme moment for high court: In a landmark appointment, Natalie Hudson will be the first person of color to lead Minnesota’s high court,” Aug. 24). You couldn’t resist emphasizing in the title that she is the first person of color to lead the high court. I find it insulting to her serious career and impressive accomplishments that her race was what got the star treatment on the front page. How insulting to reduce her to one of her immutable characteristics on page one.

The predictable choice to play up identity politics is very disappointing. Immutable characteristics like race, national origin and ethnicity are hardly a measure of an individual’s accomplishments. If someone bothered to turn to page A9, they would have read about her significant qualifications and intellect, but not everyone reads the whole paper. Perhaps her race could have been a mention at the end of the article, if at all, but not in the headline. The Star Tribune diminishes her achievements with this tiresome race-based reporting.

Jeanne Foussard, St. Paul


The Star Tribune article “Hoping for a shake-up” (Aug. 13) highlighted a group of DFL women who are “determined” to comprise St. Paul’s first all-female City Council.

The report didn’t mention any other female candidates in St. Paul’s City Council campaigns— in particular, there was no mention of Pa Der Vang, who is running for the Seventh Ward council seat on the East Side against 28-year-old Cheniqua Johnson.

Pa Der Vang is a seasoned St. Paul resident, professor and community social worker who has volunteered on St. Paul’s East Side for more than 23 years. Johnson has less experience in the city.

Vang is the daughter of Hmong immigrants who escaped from Laos a few months before she was born in a Thai refugee camp. She survived as an infant thanks to condensed milk provided to famished camp residents. On arriving in the U.S., Vang’s parents immediately went to work, attending English-language classes in the evenings after their long day jobs. They taught their children to blend into their community, to help others as much as possible, to become part of a larger whole.

Today, Vang has masters and Ph.D. degrees in social work and teaches at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. She co-founded the Minnesota Hmong Social Workers’ Coalition. She’s published books and scholarly articles. She’s served families in crisis, intervening in situations involving mental illness and domestic abuse. She’s worked with troubled students, guiding them through personal traumas and into productive lives. The list of her achievements goes on and on.

In my opinion, there is no comparison between these two candidates. One is a mature St. Paulite, the other a young relative newcomer. One would follow in current Seventh Ward Council Member Jane Prince’s footsteps as an independent voice for the East Side. The other has received an abrupt DFL stamp and speaks in progressive phrases that follow but do not yet lead.

Progressive phrases aren’t enough to help St. Paul deal with its multitude of serious problems. We need a representative who researches solutions and puts constituents, not party, first. We need a leader who’s been leading for a very long time.

That woman is Pa Der Vang. I humbly suggest you take a closer look.

Jean Wulterkens, St. Paul