B2 THURSDAY, MAY 21. 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® saljoumal.com Quote of the day "We all fell in love, fell out of love, and fell in love again to the sound of his voice." Tony Bennett at the funeral of Frank Sinatra. By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Seat belts save lives TK ISSUE Seat belt awareness campaigns THEARGUMBilT It is the law, and it is a good idea W e can argue about air bags, about speed limits, about sports utility vehicles, even about blood alcohol levels. But there is one thing about which there is no longer any reasonable argument. Seat belts save lives. And this Memorial Day weekend, as motorists attack the highways for an often forced and hurried introduction to summer, law officers across Kansas and across the nation are going to be out in force reminding us to buckle up. Even seat belts do not make drivers and passengers invulnerable. Given the size of our vehicles and their speed, collisions can still be deadly even to those buckled in and correctly positioned in front of air bags. But wearing a seat belt vastly improves any person's chances of surviving a crash. That is particularly true for young children, who should be securely fastened in a proper child safety seat. Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for persons from age 5 to 27, a tragedy that could be vastly reduced if more people would wear their seat belts, and make sure others do, too. One reason we care, of course, is that preventable accidents cost all of us money. Added medical expenses, emergency services, rehabilitation, lost wages, reduced productivity, increased insurance premiums, all are caused by people who neglect the easy ways of avoiding accidents or protecting ourselves from their impact. That's why wearing seat belts is a law, not just a good idea. Another reason, though, is the fact that we just cannot sit by and allow people to suffer and die when a two- second action could have prevented it. Highway Patrol officers and others will be setting up roadblock checkpoints on roads and highways to hand out brochures and teach people the hows and whys of seat belts and safety seats. Listen to them. Better yet, beat them to it. Buckle up, this weekend, and every day. LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL SJLetters @ saljournal.com Teach thinking first, then computers This letter is in response to the very good letter written by Suzette Brotton ("Computers are more than a convenience," May 8), which was her critique of my comments printed in an earlier Salina Journal ("Try a pencil," May 1). First of all, I did not do a good job of proofreading my letter, so I missed the fact that I left out a few key words. What I had intended to tell the high school student who complained about having to use a 1979 model calculator was that, in my day, we had to use "our brain and the 1942 model pencil." No, I am not saying that our young people don't need to know how to use computers. I am saying they should learn how to do readin', writin', and 'rithmetic in the old-fashioned way. I see too many young people who can't read anything more complex than "See Jack run," who can't add up a simple meal ticket when the computer breaks down or loses power and who can only give the right change because the computer tells them how much it should be. Before I retired, I was shocked at how many people I could not consider for the position I was interviewing for because I could not read their writing, or because they could not complete the answers to information requested, or both. All that makes me wonder if the doctors, nurses, lawyers, lab technicians and scientists who we entrust our health to know what they see on all those screens? Finally, I believe that starting the use in grade schools and continuing from there is depriving students of learning to use their brains for something other than what key to push, plus the cost to keep the equipment running and up to date is going to make the cost of education in the lower grades too high to pay good teachers the wages they should get. (No, I am not and never was a teacher). Plus, educators should take into consideration that not all students are interested in entering a white collar profession but prefer to work with their hands and build something manually. Therefore, I think a general course in computer use could be offered the last year of high school for those who P.O. Box 74O, Salina, KS 67402 are interested. I know of no company that would not have to train a new employee in the system they use for their business. I know a man who took computer instruction after he became legally blind, with people who had their eyesight, and was hired in the state office where his work was on a par with or better than some who had computer use while in school. He received many commendations and instructed new employees before he retired. I even think that forcing youngsters today to really think might help some of them know the difference between right and wrong and help lower the crime rate. — BILL SIEBERT Newton Who's a minority? In your May 5 opinion, you write that the anti-abortion, anti- tax, pro-gun wing of the Kansas GOP is a minority of that party. Do you have any evidence to back up this contention, or is it merely a hunch? I think when polls show that a majority of all Kansans are antiabortion, anti-tax, and pro-gun, it would be extremely difficult to show that most Republicans are not in that majority. — KEVIN L. GROENHAGEN Lawrence Turn off the television Universally, children with their curious minds strive to do what their parents and other grown-up do. If this were not so, toy makers would not be selling little cars and trucks, dolls and play houses and many other toys that imitate what children see adults do every day. Teachers find that new students want to write the letter R backwards because that is what they see in Toys "R" Us. Parents often ask what they can do at home to help their children's education. For starters, just turn off the television and let your children see you reading newspapers, magazines and books. Then they, too, will want to read, which is he foundation of all education endeavors. — W. KEITH WELTMER Salina T BY THE BAY Frank Sinatra: 'You Go to My Head' When life is almost too serious to take, nobody understands better than Frank Sinatra S AN FRANCISCO — For the last few years, I had known exactly what I wanted to do the day Frank Sinatra died. I planned to don a black, funereal suit and a black hat with a veil. As a nod to Frank, the legendary ladies' man, I would wear stockings and black * spiked heels. No matter my responsibilities or commitments, I would blow off everything and spend the day drinking scotch and listening to Frank. A lifelong nonsmoker, I thought I might even buy a pack of cigarettes to complete the picture. Whatever the season, I assumed it would be raining. As it turned out, last Friday — the day we all learned that Frank was dead — the sun $ shone brilliantly on San Francisco. As for the rest of my plan, I got as far as the suit and shoes; Frank sneaked out before I had time to buy the hat. Work could not be blown off any easier than could a bunch of old pals in town from the East Coast. And who was I kidding about the cigarettes and scotch? I hate cigarettes. These days, one scotch acts like a prescription seda- T UNCOMMON SENSE STEPHANIE SALTER San Francisco Examiner tive. I'd never have made it to the second disc of "The Capitol Years." I even missed all the TV specials. No matter. My attachment to Frank Sinatra always has been much more about his music than his life. I've been telling people that for almost four decades — usually in response to someone snarling, "How can you like Frank Sinatra? He's such a (fill-in-the-blank with an obscene slur)." Hey. I never wanted to marry the man. I love to hear him sing. Besides, as we are discovering in his death, Frank was no one-dimensional anything. He was a complex and contradictory man. Yeah, he roughed up some people. But they say he has bequeathed $60 million for charities that help abused children. Since Frank died, I've read all the tributes to him — and listened to no music but his. In this mourning process I've begun to see an interesting irony: For all the talk about his exploitative ways, it is we — the millions who love him — who've done the real using. Rhodes scholar or roustabout, society dame or scullery maid, we who adore Frank project our own stuff all over him. Our hopes and dreams. Our budding or blazing sexuality. Our heartbreak and disillusionment. He belongs to each of us, personally. He comes at our beck and call. With nearly 2,000 single recordings, whatever we need, he delivers. When I'm feeling middle-aged and over the hill, a sure-fire cure is to crank up a driving, big-band Frank number like the Billy May- arranged "The Song Is You." When I have for- gotten that hot sex is not the exclusive domain of the Leo DiCaprio set, Frank with Nelson Riddle's orchestra reminds me with "Witchcraft." Sometimes, after a hard, unforgiving day, I need Frank to come up behind me and rub my neck. He rubs with "Softly, As I Leave You," "All the Way," "You Go To My Head" and "What Is This Thing Called Love?" When I'm taking life too seriously, Frank has a hundred cures, from "Love And Marriage" to "High Hopes" to "Come Dance With Me." And when life is almost too serious to take — oh, man — nobody understands or commiserates better than Frank Sinatra. "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning." "I Fall in Love Too Easily." "Just One of Those Things." "I'm a Fool To Want You." "Drinking Again." And the national anthem of the broken-hearted, "One for My Baby." Only once did I see Frank Sinatra in person: 1974, in a sold-out concert in Madison Square Garden. It was an astounding performance. Thousands of people in the bleachers, yet each of us felt intimately connected to the man on stage. I'm grateful for that night. But if I hadn't been there, I wouldn't be cheated. I still have all the Frank a person needs. He lives where he always has — on records, tapes, compact discs and film. We have a great arrangement. I call; Frank delivers. He always says the same thing: "Use me, baby." Connecting the Chinese money dots Even the president's defenders are coming out from behind the stone wall D isclosures last week by former Democratic Party fund-raiser Johnny Chung that he funneled thousands of dollars from a Chinese military officer into the 1996 re-election campaign of Bill Clinton and Al Gore are so serious that even some Democrats are emerging from behind their stone wall to express concern. Chung, who is cooperating with investigators into the Chinese campaign cash connection, received $300,000 from a People's Liberation Army lieutenant colonel, whose father recently had retired as China's top military commander. Chung says he was told to use the money for campaign contributions. Chung says he sent $100,000 to the Democratic National Committee, apparently keeping the rest for himself. Chung's information seems to corroborate a claim by Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., who said at the start of hearings on campaign- finance-law violations last July that he had uncovered evidence that the Chinese government had influenced the 1996 U.S. election. Democrats — along with suspects who fled the country, took the Fifth Amendment or refused to speak with investigators — successfully blunted the investigation. Thompson was left to say in a final report from his committee that CAL THOMAS Los Angeles Times Syndicate there was "strong circumstantial evidence" that China contributed to the 1996 Democratic campaign. That evidence now is far more than circumstantial, and Republicans, united for a change, want to know if China got anything for its money. They are suspicious, despite repeated administration denials of any quid pro quo, because the Clinton administration in 1996 made it easier for American civilian communication satellites to be launched by Chinese rockets. Disturbingly, American technology is being used not only to modernize Chinese weapons but also has been shared with our adversaries, such as Iran and Pakistan. The Justice Department had opposed waivers by the president for satellite technology, fearing China might use our £p'ace expertise to more accurately target long-range missiles at the United States. The Chinese once boasted they could bomb downtown Los Angeles. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott have expressed alarm about the latest disclosures. They want to hold a series of hearings before Clinton leaves for China late next month. As usual, the administration has refused to provide documentation to refute their concerns. Gingrich said, "If the president won't share the information with the Congress on these matters, then he and his administration are guilty. They can't use defense-attorney techniques and blatant obstruction to block matters of national security." Some congressional Democrats are speaking up. Rep. Henry Waxman of California, who has been a strong Clinton defender as the ranking member on Rep. Dan Burton's, R-Ind., Govern- DODNESBURY ment Reform and Oversight Committee, said: "If what's reported is true, it's very troubling. This would be the first solid evidence that the Chinese government was implementing a plan to influence our elections." Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., who was on the Thompson committee, said, "Our investigation put a lot of dots on the canvas that suggested something very wrong had happened. But if this is correct, this information begins to connect those dots." In their book "The Coming Conflict With China," New York Times reporter Richard Bernstein and former Time Magazine Hong Kong bureau chief Ross Munro warn that China will soon be the world's second most powerful military giant. They also indict American companies which, in order to make huge profits, are selling China merchandise that undermines the interests of their own country and of free people everywhere. They write: "If China remains aggressive and the United States naive, the looming conflict between the two countries could even lead to military hostilities." Do we want to provide China with the expertise and weaponry we may someday have to fight against? Should Americans be placed at risk by weapons and technology made in the U.S.A. and sold by corporations interested only in fattening their bottom lines and by a president interested solely in re-election? Chung's testimony is "specific and credible evidence" that demands an independent counsel to investigate what could be the selling out of America by this administration. In wartime this would qualify as treason and an impeachable offense. The offense is equally heinous in peacetime. By G.B. TRUDEAU , HONBV I'M COM- IN00ACKTDPUTTHE HOUSB ON STIU-HOUS- ALTHOUGH tN6 ORPHANS IteCHANGS? ABOUJA YEAR AGO, SAY WHAT? TOSAY, BUSINESS &BOOM- IN&.
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