I assume Isthmus prints Rick Berg to show how absurd the right wing can be. His 9/26/08 article, "Taking Sides," is at best amusing, in particular the sidebar, "Obama: Style over Substance."
If one deconstructs what Berg says, one finds he is the epitome of style over substance, providing little factual information to support what he says. On the other hand, anyone who takes the time to read Obama's positions on issues, or who looks at his accomplishments as a U.S. senator, Illinois lawmaker and distinguished professor of law, would know he is nothing if not substantial - meaningful, thoughtful, real.
To say Obama is style over substance requires either a huge degree of ignorance or outright lying. Obama is calm, measured, thoughtful, articulate and not given to knee-jerk reactions. John McCain, meanwhile, is bellicose, prone to fits of anger and shooting-from-the-hip attacks. That's the man Berg prefers to run the nation.
Berg also snips at Joe Biden for twice lifting lines from others' speeches. That is not uncommon among politicians and does not constitute "plagiarism." Biden has given hundreds if not thousands of speeches in his long, distinguished political career. Actually, I think Berg is jealous. He has never written (or spoken) anything that anyone would want to "lift" for use in a speech.
Rick Berg displays the oblivious, unbridled glee prevalent among so many in his chosen party. He claims Democrats are "depressed" over McCain's reckless choice of Palin because she has (according to her supporters) stolen Obama's thunder.
Palin is grossly unqualified for this position, lacking in knowledge of current events, and dishonest. Yet she's ignorantly accepted as a viable candidate by what seems to be the entire Republican Party. Dems are not only depressed, they are terrified.
Berg demonstrates that he has thoroughly absorbed the party line and tactics: toss out scathing one-liners, avoid discussion of honest issues. Rather than reasoned analysis, he relies on character assassination and dredges out the same old tired mythology, trying to hang higher taxes on the Democrats, when it's his own party that rang up huge deficits and deregulated corporate spenders, getting us into the current mess.
Obama outlined his goals and programs in his speech; McCain and Palin did little more than snipe. I for one would rather cast my vote for a thoughtful, gifted speaker and a deeply engaging, brilliant senator and community organizer than a gun-toting creationist who thinks foreign policy means looking at Russia across the Straits.
Alice D'Alessio, Middleton
Rick Berg's article illustrates the pure, unmitigated bullshit and self-delusion that is the Republican ideal and lampoons his position better than any liberal could.
Berg sees an empty father figure to fear/adore and a vacuous pretty lady to dry-hump as the perfect Republican ticket. I'm surprised someone representing Republican opinion would proudly admit this point, much less revel in it.
In the end, even after reading this article a number of times, I have to ask: Are you serious? Really? Unfortunately, I must assume Berg is honest in his writing. I only hope his opinion is among the minority of conservatives, although I cannot trust this to be the case.
'Sins' story mixed issues
Vikki Kratz conveyed a compelling story about a father's struggle with forgiveness ("Sins of the Son," 9/12/08). It is unfortunate that she chose to link the actions of this father's child to the entire class of children who joined their families through international adoption.
The juxtaposition of the bizarre actions of one child with issues surrounding adoption was unnecessary. Since the early 1990s, tens of thousands of children have joined families in the United States from countries abroad. There is no scientific evidence linking these children to violence or criminality. And in this case, there's no way to know whether the child's violent acts were related to growing up in an institution abroad followed by adoption (as the article led readers to believe), or to a myriad of other reasons.
When Kratz interviewed one Seth Pollak, one of the signatories of this letter, for this article, she was counseled that merging her focus on this particular family with larger issues of adoption was scientifically unsound. Moreover, she was told that doing so would unnecessarily upset countless children and their parents.
We are disheartened that many people involved in international adoption read this story. They, along with other readers, became very unsettled by the stereotype it promoted.
Families created through adoption deserve our respect and support, not the ill-founded sensationalism represented by stories such as the one you published.
Seth Pollak, director. Barbara Roeber, community outreach coordinator Wisconsin International Adoption Project
Kosher food's for everyone!
Carlos Gonzales is upset (because the UW residence halls provide kosher meals for Jewish students (Letters, 9/26/08; "Are UW's Kosher Kitchens, Er, Kosher?," 9/19/08). But governments commonly accommodate religiously based dietary requirements. The military and the various prison systems routinely provide kosher food for observant Jews, as well as Halal food for Muslims and vegetarian cuisine for Hindus. Federal and state prisons even allow Jewish inmates to refrain from working on the Sabbath and holy days.
All of this is evidently constitutional. Otherwise, you can be sure Annie Laurie Gaylor would have been in court by now.
Gonzales does not allege that religious ceremonies are conducted in conjunction with the kosher food. He also does not deny that the meals are open to everyone.
Approximately 35% of kosher food is sold to Jews, while the rest goes to gentiles. Muslims buy from kosher butcher shops because kosher food is also Halal. The largest group of kosher food consumers, however, is non-Muslim gentiles, who favor kosher food for health reasons, since it must be fresh and it provides an extra layer of regulation. You don't have to be Jewish to love kosher food.