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FACT-CHECKING ON OBAMA IS IN ORDER
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FACT-CHECKING ON OBAMA IS IN ORDER

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While the author of the Sunday letter "Please don't pick Obama over Clinton" is entitled to her opinion, she is not entitled to her own facts.

Obama doesn't have "three years of government experience" as she claims, but rather 11, more even than Sen. Hillary Clinton. Obama's eight years as an Illinois state senator included work on more than 800 bills. His state legislative experience gives him a keen understanding of the implications of federal policies on the state level.

For all their years of Washington experience, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Hillary Clinton and John McCain all lacked the judgment to foresee the Iraq disaster. Obama's principled and prescient denouncement of the war in 2002 is testament to his foreign policy instincts and his willingness to speak the truth, despite the politics of the moment.

Last, I refute that "people in the know" are working to cut the United States' involvement with the United Nations and that Obama's Senate bill gives "millions of our money" to the United Nations.

I presume she is referring to the Global Poverty Bill, which conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed would enable the U.N. to levy a global tax on the United States or make the United States subservient to the wishes of the U.N.

Media Matters for America, the media watchdog, refutes this lie at: http://mediamatters.org/items/200802210011.

- Sheri Sinykin, Madison

\ Crack down on cat owner scofflaws

In Monday's Local section feature "3 things to know this week," the article "Real Life: Dogs, the law and you" said it all. The information regarding dog owners' responsibilities is also sent out with annual license renewals. Those exact same ordinance requirements pertain to cats, but that wasn't included.

There is a double standard in animal control enforcement - strict for dogs, pretty much non-existent for cats.

A few years ago an elderly Madison woman was fined for poisoning cats that had been defiling her property. After calls to the animal control office yielded no results, she took matters into her own hands. While no one should resort to that, no one should be left feeling powerless after going through the proper channels.

My wife and I make our backyard a sanctuary for all manner of flora and fauna. A neighbor's cat staked out our feeders and chased out a pair of ducks that had been regular visitors. When informed of her cat's unwelcome visits, she claimed to be unable to control him. When told she should read "Your Responsibilities as a Madison Cat Owner" that accompanies license renewals, she said she never licenses her cat. A long-time friend, also a cat owner, said: "I don't license mine, either."

While I know dogs have owners and cats have entourages, many cat owners appear to be either ignorant or brazen scofflaws. The city should have uniform enforcement.

- Paul W. Schlecht, Madison

\ Fund languages of future, not past

A recent letter asked why, since the governor and Legislature allocate funds for English as a second language programs for immigrants and their children, why aren't our native-born Indians and their children given the same consideration?

The reason is that English is the language that people need to know to succeed in the U.S. and in the global economy. And we are not doing a good enough job of teaching it now, as recent studies of the Madison schools demonstrate.

If we spend more money on teaching languages other than English, it should be on those languages that Americans will need to know in the future, not the past. That means Chinese and Arabic as the first choices.

If American Indians want to teach their kids other languages, they should do it on their own, just as Jews teach their kids Hebrew, some traditional Catholics teach theirs Latin, or as some families teach theirs Polish or Greek.

- Jim Blair, Madison

\ Keep manual recount for election security

After the recent broadcast of the HBO movie "Recount," we should evaluate how well Wisconsin would hold up under intense scrutiny.

Start with the Government Accountability Board's recount manual, which provides guidance to recount boards. It's poorly organized, with no page numbers, no table of contents and no index.

And what of the procedure itself? There is an important feature of Wisconsin law that needs to be changed.

Under current law, all recounts of optical scan ballots must be done by machine. The programmed memory cards that were used on Election Day are usually used for the recount, so if they made an error on Election Day, they will make the same error for the recount. They are tested before the election. But since Wisconsin has no statewide standards for testing, we have no idea how thorough the testing is.

The Wisconsin Legislature should change the law to allow the option of manual counts of the optical scan ballots as a cross check of the machine counts. (This was the law from 1982 until 2006.) If machines are used, there should be at least a partial manual count, to verify the machine count.

Recounts must be transparent and thorough, and Wisconsin does not meet this standard.

- Paul Malischke, Madison, member of Fair Elections Wisconsin

\ Be self-sufficient, but don't live in fear

The recent "In Depth" piece on the new wave of survivalists was interesting but dismaying in its redundancy.

I remember the 1970s with the gas shortage, food shortage, inflation - the world seemed to be falling apart around us. My parents recall the 1950s when people built bomb shelters in their backyards for when the Russians dropped the big one.

The apocalyptic mentality of 1999 is still fresh in the memories of many. Cash out your savings and retirement. Get paper copies of everything. All power and emergency services might be gone.

People stockpiled food, water and gas for generators, and they of course had weapons and ammo to protect their supplies from the marauding hordes who were not prepared. They ended up buried under a year's supply of candles and Spam.

Most adults remember the endless information after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on how to insulate our homes from the biological weapons of mass destruction. Buy lots of duct tape and plastic!

There is certainly nothing wrong with striving to become more self-sufficient in gas and food. But when groups describe their lives as panic-stricken and fearful, think the government is perpetuating the disaster and contemplate living in communities to self-protect, that's more like Jonestown, Waco or Ruby Ridge.

If that is what the citizens of America become, we might as well declare ourselves the Middle East of the new millennium right now and get it over with.

- Carmen Brunet, DeForest

\ Test drive proves more mpg with gas

Regarding Friday's article on the benefits of ethanol-free fuel and Monday's letter, "Ethanol-free gas the better choice," my experience has been identical.

I drive a flex-fuel, 2007 truck and I get 3 mpg less using 10 percent ethanol gas.

Using E-85 fuel is even worse. On a trip out west, driving the interstate, I used E-85 for the first half of the trip and got 15 to 16 mpg. When I switched to straight gasoline for the remainder, I got 20 to 21 mpg.

Needless to say, I will never use E-85 in my truck again. What would be the point?

- George Eckert, Wisconsin Dells

\ Blame corporate greed, not workers

Regarding a recent article reporting that workers in Wisconsin earn less than the average wage nationwide, it was noted by a Department of Workforce Development official that Wisconsin is working to raise wages by training a highly skilled workforce.

How will this help most displaced workers in the 21st century Wal-Mart economy? Based on this logic, it appears the DWD's position is that Wisconsin is losing higher paying jobs because workers here are not skilled.

Why is the blame for lower wages placed on the shoulders of workers with no mention of corporate policies that promote higher profits for executives and shareholders, often at the expense of front-line employees?

Corporate greed, coupled with a lack of concern for Wisconsin residents and communities, is often at the heart of job losses in our state. As long as the DWD remains content to ignore this fact, hardworking Wisconsin citizens will continue to lose economic ground.

- Joe Purcell, Oregon

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