The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 20, 1998 · Page 10
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 10

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Wednesday, May 20, 1998
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B2 WEDNESDAY. MAY 2O 1998 THE SALINA JOURNAL George B. Pyle editorial page editor Opinions expressed on this page are those of the identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (785) 827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters® saljournal.com Quote of the day "Much like bellybutton lint, opinionsfrom citizens who are not involved in the democratic process are not worth much." Shon Barenklau publisher of The Sarpy County (Neb.) Times, announcing that his newspaper will not publish letters to the editor unless the authors are registered to vote. By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Corporate connection THE ISSUE The Chinese scandal THEARGUMBVT It is just another expression of corporate power A t long last, after years of a no- account land deal and months of a minor-league sex scandal, we begin to learn the real reason why Americans should be concerned about the ethics of the Clinton administration. And we also learn why it has taken so long to cut through the fog and get to the real issues. If Bill Clinton and the Democratic National Committee did what they are accused of doing — what, out of all the rumors and charges and scandals, should really concern us — then the core of that scandal is the same as the core of so many others. Multi-national corporations with no particular loyalty to any nation are using their great wealth to bend foreign and defense policy to their profit. And, on that score, it seems impossible to find someone in official Washington who is clean enough to throw the first stone. The charge that really gives serious Americans pause, the one that has caused many Democrats to hesitate before backing the president and attacking his accusers, is the increasingly credible charge that money from the government of China found its way into the Democrats' 1996 election funds and that Clinton, in turn, allowed corporations such as Loral Space and Communications Ltd. and Hughes Electronics to sell to the Chinese satellite and guidance technology that might pose a threat to U.S. security. Loral Chairman Bernard L. Schwartz is a major financial backer of the Democratic Party. The web of the scandal even expands to the recent shock from India, where a nation long fearful of China and long doubting American resolve has rashly become a nuclear nation. Members of the He-Man Clinton Haters Club — including columnists William Safire and Cal Thomas — focus their alarm on the Chinese connection, the smoking gun Sen. Fred Thompson promised but never delivered in his failed investigation last summer. But they have a blind spot when it comes to the corporate connection, the suggestion that in the China deal, as well as in U.S. dealings with enemies and dictatorships throughout the world, the corporate desire to seek profit wherever it lies consistently trumps any American political interest or human rights concern. That is true in our dealings with China, with Indonesia, with Burma and, perhaps more importantly, with Nike, with Mobil and with Boeing. It has been years since the Clinton administration, going back on its own promises, said it would no longer block economic dealings with China out of disgust for that nation's medieval human rights policy. Clearly, profit was being placed ahead of principle. And, with the liberal wing of the Democratic party in hibernation, with Jesse Jackson reduced to schmoozing African leaders on administration junkets, where is the political pressure on Bill Clinton to change his tune? Sam Brownback? Al D'Amato? Newt Gingrich? Please. There used to be a name for politicians who sold out human rights for corporate profit. They were called Republicans. No wonder Bill Clinton is getting away with this. T SPEAKING ENGLISH California politics catch a hopeful wave Big-spending millionaire candidate isn't buying his party's nomination — yet C alifornia, its citizens will tell you, is the state of the future. I know because I have relatives there. Both my parents grew up there, and most of the clan still live in California. Californians like to consider themselves with it, hip, whatever you want to call it. So us hicks, farmers and straw-house dwellers should look to California to see what's going to happen to us in a few years. At least that's what they think. It's really kind of neat when you think about it. It's like that TV show "Early Edition," where the guy gets the newspaper delivered to his doorstep a day in advance. So he knows what happens one day in advance every day. But that's $ nothing compared to what Kansans get. We get to see what will happen to us years in advance. Since this is an election year, let's look at California's race for governor, shall we? It turns out there is hope for politics after all. T TORY NOTIONS DAN ENGLAND The Salina Journal California slums when it comes to elections these days. California, political experts have maintained, has entered into the world of the TV election. Californians don't go to debates. They don't read the papers. They don't check out the facts. No. They watch those stupid TV commercials and pick their candidates that way. Sigh. So is this what Kansans are headed toward? Maybe not. You see, there's this guy, airline king Al Checchi, who has spent $35 million in the primary. Checchi is running against Rep. Jane Harman, who has spent $12 million, and Gray Davis, California's lieutenant governor, who has spent $9 million, for the Democratic nomination. And, you see, Davis is in first place. There's even better news. Checchi promised not to attack his candidates. But, as politicians are apt to do, he broke that promise as soon as his numbers went down. He clobbered Harman with a number of scathing ads. Voters, as they are apt to do, responded to the attack ads. Davis jumped to first place. So can we draw three wonderful conclusions from this? Can we say that the public isn't moved by fat cats who drop a lot of money? Can we say that the public is beginning to punish the candidates who slime and not punish those actually slimed? Can we say, in fact, that television commercials aren't the most impor- tant thing for voters? Nah. Not yet anyway. This race ain't over until June 2. That's plenty of time for Checchi to drop a few more mil and buy some more TV time. Davis may be the lowest spender in the three-way race, but he still has spent $9 million. I could live pretty well on $9 million. And we've seen too many recent races destroyed by rotten TV commercials to say things truly are better. Not even Kansas has escaped the trash heap completely. Sen. Sam Brownback's shameful slime against Jill Docking and his shady connections to the groups that produced them still stink two years later. But we can be encouraged by this. There may be a day when politicians who resort to attacking advertisements may find themselves giving speeches to Rotary clubs for a living. There may be a day when television only supplements actual campaigning, a day when handshakes, debates and analytical articles in publications are more important than 10-second sound bites. There may be a day when anyone can run for office, not just those who have connections to special-interest groups or bloated bank accounts. And if the race in California doesn't turn out that way, maybe Kansas can set its own election standards. After all, the best thing about looking into the future is you have a chance to change it. Cities are saved one corner at a time LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL S J Letters @ saljournal .com Get new friends Depth? In a sitcom? Is James Talley serious? ("Seinfeld: Timor gravitatis conturbat mea," May 14) Unlike the cerebral Mr. Talley, I watch "Seinfeld" for nothing more than recreation. I like to laugh. The characters on "Seinfeld" make me laugh, and yes, I will miss them. Shows like "Seinfeld" should be taken for what they are: brain candy. They have no nutritional value, but they sure are good to indulge in occasionally. Just as any healthy person needs to balance the meats, fruits, breads and milk with the occasional Hershey bar, an intelligent television viewer needs to find a balance. If Mr. Talley doesn't find "Seinfeld" funny, I suggest he find something else to watch. I don't eat a Hershey bar in search of extra fiber, and I don't watch "Seinfeld" looking for the meaning of life. In response to Mr. Talley's complaint that none of his friends P.O. Box 740, Salina, KS 67402 wants to talk about anything but "South Park" and "The Simpsons," I suggest he find new friends. Most of my friends would rather talk about more important things than television shows. And I'm only 23. — LANE MANGELS Beloit Justice will be yours After reading the article on the Gina Cyphers murder investigation ("Investigator tracks Cyphers' killer," May 13), I was appalled. I could not believe that private investigator Charlie Parker has no cooperation from the Salina Police Department. Why? Isn't this murder as significant as the others? The Cyphers family has my faith that Mr. Parker will bring them answers that the Salina Police should have done years ago. Hang on, justice will be yours. God bless you! — KRIS COBLE Salina Black Republican candidate for mayor of Oakland challenges Gov. Moonbeam O AKLAND, Calif. — Pointing to a whiskey bottle on the ground inside the chain-link fence at the corner of 98th and Edes, Shannon Reeves ^ says, "Racism didn't have anything to do with that — that's personal behavior." Reeves, 30, is black (as is more than 40 percent of Oakland), Republican and running for mayor on the theme that cities are saved one corner at a time, and corners are saved by improving the behavior of the people around them, one by one. The phrase he is fond of: "No more excuses." He is one of 10 people running against an llth, Jerry ———4 Brown, 60, former governor and three-time presidential candidate, and former Democrat (he has registered as an independent). Brown has a large lead in polls, but he has not won an election since he won a second term as governor in 1978, and if Brown does not top 50 percent in the June 2 voting, there will be a runoff with the second-place finisher. If that is Reeves, the contrast between the candidates will be stark. The corner, bare ground now, used to have a crack house and soon will have, thanks to Chevron's collaboration with a nonprofit cor- GEORGE F. WILL Tlie Washington Post poration Reeves runs, a gas station and shopping center. This will mean nearly 100 jobs, an applicant for one of which has just crossed the street with a brown bag containing his purchase from a liquor store — something ubiquitous in poor neighborhoods in this, California's eighth largest city. Recognizing Reeves, he lets loose a cascade of words, saying he has a high school diploma and "I have no felonies," and although he is on welfare because he just got laid off, he likes the new limits on eligibility for welfare, and when can he sign up for a job. Reeves, a stocky man in a chalk-striped suit, is currently president of the Oakland NAACP. In 1988 he was a Grambling State University student with an internship in Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign. That experience helped convince him that blacks need to make themselves objects of competition by both parties. Today he is speaking fluent Republican, talking about the economics of a poor neighborhood, explaining that the gas station will not be self-service because pumping gas is a good entry-level job in a place where many men "have felonies." The station will contain a convenience store because the neighborhood's purchasing power is insufficient to sustain a good grocery store. The store will carry Similac because there are so many mothers nearby. People will be able to pay utility bills at the store, and there will be an ATM because there are no banks in the neighborhood. Down near the waterfront, Jerry Brown is not talking about gas stations and convenience stores. At the $2 million residence and work space he built a few blocks from Jack London Square (London, another political exotic, ran unsuccessfully for mayor), Brown is talking about the Italian hill town of Perugia as a model for tomorrow's Oakland. He is dressed in a midnight blue double- breasted suit and a black collarless shirt, raiment that today announces "I'm different." He made that announcement in the 1970s by being driven around in a blue Plymouth sedan rather than a limousine, and sleeping on a mattress on the floor of a sacramental apartment rather than in the governor's mansion. He dismisses as the work of "two professors from Kentucky" the "Oakland Ecopolis" study he asked to be written. It says the planet is going to hell in a handcart — "desertification" and all that. It is not exactly what he needs if he is trying to shed his image as a politician who has too many strange ideas, and who also has attention deficit disorder sufficient to justify a Ritalin prescription. However, he is not trying. He has a kind of crazy courage, risking that his campaign will be dismissed as (in the words of Peter H. King, a sympathetic columnist for the Los Angeles Times) "a pathetic exercise in hanging on, the political equivalent of a lounge act: Gov. Moonbeam's last guffaw." It can be argued that especially in cities as troubled as Oakland, there is a case to be made for a mayor who (as critics say of Brown) "doesn't do potholes" but who is largely an inspiriting figure. But it is easier to argue that Oakland needs someone whose eyes are not on the Italian hills but on the as-yet bare ground at the corner of 98th and Edes. By G.B. TRUDEAU tVHAT-VO IUJOK LIK5AN war? IF 7H&&&A PJCH JOHN D&W&e&lN OUT TH&& VeM&IT&P 5NOUGH TDPAY PAY A tor/HOf&f rWANTTO FINALLY,' A0&XUTBW NOTHING verw&N Me FINAL PAYDAY!

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