Keeping RFK in perspective
Rick Berg's worshipful column on Robert Kennedy ("Remembering RFK," 5/30/08) romanticizes rather than analyzes his subject. When Kennedy entered the presidential race, there already was an antiwar candidate - Gene McCarthy, who challenged Johnson at a time when this was truly daring. If Kennedy's goal was ending the war in Vietnam, he should have worked for McCarthy's reelection. Kennedy's candidacy was a product of opportunism.
Kennedy was not the sun god Berg portrays him to be. He began his career as a staff attorney for Joe McCarthy, and archival sources document that he hired mafia boss Sam Giancana to assassinate Castro.
Kennedy did take an interest in civil rights, so he surely would have continued Johnson's efforts along those lines. But it is hyperbole to imply that the last 40 years would have been significantly different if Kennedy had become president. The fight for civil rights, after all, has proceeded without him.
Robert Kennedy, like all mortals, had a mixture of good and bad in him. He should be remembered, but he should not be deified.
Niess did his job
I was disappointed to read Steve Braunginn's criticism of Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess' ruling regarding the gay marriage amendment ("A Lost Opportunity for Fairness," 7/20/08).
Braunginn presents several arguments why the amendment is bad policy, but ignores the fact that those issues had nothing to do with Judge Niess' decision. Judge Niess only ruled on a narrow issue regarding the procedure for passing the amendment, and in doing so clearly followed the appropriate precedent of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Braunginn's question of "where are the left-wing judicial activists when you need them?" further ignores the appropriate role of the judiciary. Judge Niess' role is not to impose his will on the citizenry, but to uphold the law, including Supreme Court precedent.
While many of us agree with Braunginn's arguments that the amendment is bad for the citizens of Wisconsin, those arguments are political, not legal. Judge Niess upheld the law, which was his only job. He does not deserve such a cheap shot.
William F. Bauer
Crime and punishment
Regarding "Shots Fired" (6/6/06): In your description of "notable recent Madison shootings," you say that two shooters got eight- and 10-year sentences, while the victim was sentenced to 24 years for drug possession.
I'm fine with the long term for the drugs, but how is it that the penalty for robbing and shooting someone is way less than half the sentence for drug possession? It seems like the shooters should be sitting in jail longer than the drug dealer.
Gun violence is caused by guns. The city of Madison and Dane County should ban all guns, but won't since all the gun nuts will go berserk and start shooting everything in sight or scream "Second Amendment rights." The real solution is requiring that guns be registered with the local police or sheriff's department.