The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on November 18, 1991 · Page 24
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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 24

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Monday, November 18, 1991
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. 1 2A The Des Moines Register Monday, November 18, 1991 PINION Sl)c 50cs JHoinciS filter CHARLES C. EDWARDS JR., President and Publisher GENEVA OVERHOLSER, Editor and Vice President DENNIS R. RYERSON, Editor qf the Editorial Pages RICHARD DOAK, Deputy Editor of the Editorial Pages DAVID WESTPHAL, Managing Editor DIANE GRAHAM, Deputy Managing Editor MICHAEL L. PAULY, Senior Assistant Managing Editor LYLE BOONE, Assistant Managing EditorGraphics RANDY EVANS, Assistant Managing Editor A GANNETT NEWSPAPER WILLIAM J. GHEE, Production Director DIANE GLASS, Vice President, Marketing JOHN M. MIKSICH, Vice President, Circulation HENRY C. PHILLIPS, Vice President, Advertising SUSAN A. SMITH, Vice President, Controller SUE A. TEMPERO, Vice President, Employee Relations The Register's Editorials Duke's defeat. Victory, too? 'Only the beginning,' says former KKK leader. word to anyone relieved that David Duke lost his bid to be Louisiana's governor: Don't be. Democrat Edwin Edwards' landslide win Saturday is not a political death knell for the maverick Republican, former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and neo-Nazi. Duke probably will try a comeback, perhaps running for Congress or the White House. In-creasingy he will be a national voice, with racist appeal, for white Americans who feel disenfranchised by tough economic times and a federal government they believe favors minorities. Supporters from all 50 states sent money to Duke's gubernatorial campaign, evidence of the politician's frighteningly broad appeal. "People liked what I said," said Duke, shortly after losing, sounding triumphant. No longer openly hate-mon-gering, he sought to portray himself as a mainstream born-again Christian championing "equal rights for all people," welfare reform and the end of affirmative action. In the best light, Duke's loss symbolizes the distaste with which many people regard his thinly veiled racism. Those voters cast their ballot for the flamboyant Edwards despite his reputation for corrup-' tion because they couldn't stomach Edwards' opponent. A less noble motive for other reluctant Edwards backers: fear that a Duke victory would have negative economic consequences for their state, so dependent on tourists and conventions. As a loser especially as a loser, with whom many white Americans feel a sense of kinship Duke is a force to be reckoned with. There is no better way to do that than by openly confronting the racial resentment that Duke fans in his candid, public discussions. Clear-thinking people know that mi norities do not deserve blame for the nation's ailing economy. It is incumbent upon them to make that case, while not discouraging legitimate debate about racially charged issues such as affirmative action. What is more, if racists publicly reveal themselves, the ugliness they stand for will become even more apparent. However revolting their views, it is preferable that they deliver them without the cover of white sheets or darkness as they light a cross in someone's yard. In that way, their irrational rhetoric can be debunked. That's what must happen in places like Dubuque, where cross-burnings and racial graffiti have followed city leaders' endorsement of a plan to encourage racial diversity. In the Mississippi River city, children and adults alike have shown support for Alice Scott and her three children, who last week found a cross burning on their lawn and a brick thrown through a window. Churches, businesses, colleges and other organizations that disapprove of bigotry have taken out newspaper ads and made public announcements. Schools are addressing racial issues in the classroom. As Dubuque residents confront racism, people around the nation have a similar obligation. Likewise, George Bush and other national leaders who have played race politics (as the president did with Willie Hor-ton in 1988) have a responsibility to counter the consequences of their actions: David Duke. His new national prominence, if not taken seriously by all Americans, could carry him far. "Millions of Americans are supporting me. ... I feel this is only the beginning," Duke said Sunday. The beginning of what? Big money and campaigns Finally, there's hope for campaign-finance reform. lections ought not to be an unending race for money, like the arms race," Congressman Sam Gejdenson, a Con necticut Democrat, said last week in introducing a campaign finance reform bill. "It ought to be exchanges of values and ideas that the public can listen to." A quaint notion, perhaps, in these days of unregulated campaign spending, enabled by mammoth special-interest contributions. Yet Gejdenson's description hits upon what elections were once believed to be about not who outspends whom to get the message across, but whose message is better. For the first time in 17 years, there is hope for a congressional bill to reform an outmoded and inequitable campaign-finance system. The House bill, expected to reach the floor before Thanksgiving, follows passage of a Senate bill in May. The big question now is whether it could muster enough bipartisan support to override a threatened presidential veto. Such a law is essential if credibility is to be restored to the election process, which now gives incumbents a vastly unfair advantage. There also are major ethical problems with a system that allows unlimited campaign spending and allows politicians to become beholden to special interests seeking to influence public policy. A disturbing report by Common Cause suggests, for example, that despite overwhelming public sentiment in favor of it, major reform of the health-care system has been blocked because of the flow of millions from the medical industry to politicians' war chests. The public's disgust with the entrenchment of incumbents was evident in the most recent elections, and has also been ex pressed in the burgeoning term-limits movement. While the latter is flawed because it punishes even good candidates, Congress eventually is going to have to reckon with the public's distaste for the political process. Campaign finance is a good place to start. The proposed House bill circumvents obstacles posed by a 1976 Supreme Court ruling protecting iinlimited campaign spending as a form of free speech. The spending limits are voluntary and offer financial benefits to those who choose them. They cap campaign spending in a given two-year election cycle at $600,000, allowing one-third of that money to be raised by PAC contributions, another third in contributions under $ 1 ,000 apiece, and the final third in contributions of under $200. Candidates who raise at least $60,000 in small contributions under $200 would be eligible for matching federal funds, up to $200,000. The Senate bill, by contrast, abolishes all PAC contributions and bases spending limits on a state's population. It provides for 20 percent of spending to be publicly funded through media vouchers. It also addresses an area that is absent from the House bill: the need for federal limits on so-called "soft money," such as that which is funneled through state parties. Republicans in the House are opposing any attempt to curtail campaign spending and provide public financing. That's counter-productive, since all political challengers, not just Democrats, suffer from the formidable task of matching an entrenched opponent's spending. And all voters, not just Democrats, favor politicians who think for themselves. y REGISTER EDITORIALS represent the institutional view of the newspaper. They reflect the newspaper's editorial traditions and the current opinions of Publisher Charles C. Edwards Jr., Editor Geneva Overholser, and the editorial page staff that writes and edits the editorials. The latter group includes Dennis R. Ryerson, editor of the editorial pages, Richard Doak, deputy editor of the editorial pages, and Rekha Basu, Rox Laird, Linda Lantor, Bill Leonard and Suzanne Nelson, editorial writers. Cartoonist's View i-., X ' "-iSifr !L4-- f THs Docnesbury thxno is catching an! Dick ifw . Tray eta Dm Qo M e-. ship with wneto,Mary Worth says she saw k ll&ilfBlllfr- Q&1& intbewanucf poraouLDiu lite rl ;fe I jpfe ; I ardttoWtzari cr Id fcnews somefeofy nibo sett I ; p llpl & 1 1 J Qucyjo three nud male cfolls I IX)N WRIGIITl'Aiii Hkacii Post The Register's Readers Say 4 Why do police ignore Gosch suspect? year ago when Paul Bonacci first shared information about his participation in our son's kidnapping, we, too, were shocked and a little unsure of the information that was coming from this young man. It was so horrible we didn't want to believe it at first. Then, as the private investigator began to check out and verify all of the information, a picture of what actually happened to our son began to form. John DeCamp, Paul Bonacci's attorney, shared in a written statement all of Paul's remarks with the FBI office in Omaha. All of this time we hoped and prayed they would make contact with Paul and check for themselves the accuracy of the statements about the kidnapping. Silence from the FBI followed nothing happened. So we pursued the information, just as parents have always done. Then all hell broke loose when this story hit the news media. The story was not released by us or our private investigator. However, we had to deal with the effects of this untimely release. Again, we tried to look on the positive side and hope with this all being out in the open, including the names of the kidnappers, that surely the authorities would then seek out Paul Bonacci and talk to him. Again, silence followed by their declaration from their offices that they had decided Paul is not credible on our case, that due to a multiple-personality disorder he has fabricated all of the information about Johnny. If that is true, how was Paul able to select the correct photograph from a line-up of photos and tell us about the local man in Des Moines named Sam and his involvement in our case? Paul has correctly given us his first and last name. This man has been a suspect in the case for four years. This is quite a coincidence. If this terrible tragedy could happen to our son, and the years of pain and work to solve it could be thrown away when a confession finally comes in the case by the authorities, it could happen to anyone. Those responsible for our son's kidnapping are still free. We know who they are at this time, but nothing would prevent them from kidnappiiv again, especially when they see and hear news reports that authorities will do nothing to help. John and Noreen Gosch, 1004 45th, St., West Des Moines. Isn't it appalling that both the West Des Moines police and the DCI both initially felt that the trip to Omaha to interview John Bonacci, who admits involvement in the abduction of John Gosch, was not worth the effort? How could the police dismiss even the slightest clue and refuse to act? Only after WHO-TV aired the story and The Register printed the same did the police finally decide to act. Had it not have been for the news media, the lead would not be investigated. The police should not have to be em-; barrassed into performing their job. It is a tragedy both for the Gosch family ' and for the public that the media must have to step in and expose the laxity . of the West Des Moines police and the Division of Criminal Investigation. Hugh Hammond, 2905 38th St., Des Moines. Defining the role of a newspaper reporter Regarding Dan Millea's letter (Nov. 4) taking David Yepsen to task: Mr. Millea seems to have expected more of Mr. Yepsen's news story, "School Districts Need to Merge for Better Quality, Lepley Says" (Oct. 28), than he should have. As the headline forewarned, the story was not about the pros and cons of school consolidation, merely Iowa Department of Education Director William Lepley's personal feelings concerning consolidation, which Yepsen reported. Inasmuch as the thoughts of Iowa's top education functionary should be of interest to a concerned citizenry, his statements are indeed news. And reportage of these views, at least initial reportage, carries no obligation of balance, since the story does not purport to be a full-blown, multifaceted examination of the issue. Which brings me to my real point: objectivity in newspaper reporting. While factual coverage of an issue is necessary for bottom-line credibility, a newspaper is, beyond that, under no obligation, real or implied, to present a perfectly balanced report of any given issue. That feat is often impossible at any rate, given the conscious and unconscious biases we all, reporters and readers alike, carry with us like defective genes. Bias is an amorphous concept anyway. Seldom is there a charge of bias or imbalanced news coverage when we happen to be in agreement with what the writer has written. At the very least, no reader of a newspaper should approach any article without some healthy skepticism and access to a variety of information sources. At the root of it all, we seem to expect the wrong things from newspa pers that they boost our own special interests and feed our biases, and! fail to expect what we should that they accurately put forth the facts oij an issue so that we may make informed decisions in matters that concern or interest us. And that's all. As if that weren't enough. No, newspapers are not objective (they never have been), because they are products of a rather flawed species. No, they do not need to be objective, because knowing this we should not expect them to be. And by not expecting newspapers to be objective, we allow them to become wonderful yeasty environments that necessitate deliberation and reflection on our part, environments in which it is we who are obliged to make up our own minds and draw our own conclusions. Steven Hakeman, 1807 W. Fifth Ave., Indianola. 'Guru bias' same as racism In reference to the Oct. 31 article, "Fairfield Fears TM Majority," it's true that there is concern and even fear in Fairfield over meditators "taking over the town." I've observed this fear and noted that it is voiced most loudly by those who seem to understand the least what transcendental meditation is and what it means to be a meditator. Your quote, ". . . the people they call 'rus' (short for gurus) have a hidden agenda," signals a form of prejudice. I've only heard the term "ru" used in a derogatory way. When one identifies a group and gives them a label like that, you can be sure that prejudice is at work. Using such a term is not only rude, it also serves to dehumanize the members of that group. When the members of a group become dehumanized they are perceived less like people and more like things something to separate from, something to stereotype, something to fear (hate, resent, dislike, envy, etc.) and something to negatively prejudge. The idea that meditators are trying" to take over the town is an example of how continued living in fear and prejudice can take hold of thinking and perceptions. Meditators are American citizens exercising their rights. Only the prejudice says '.'different." Don't kid yourself when it's directed at you the intolerance that breeds prejudice and fear comes across as a carefully calculated form of hostility. The perpetrator of prejudice is the first victim because he removes himself from one of the most precious things in life trusting and meaningful relationships with people outside his immediate circle. A community infected with prejudice cannot function as a community. It can only give the appearance. - Walter F.Wiese, P.O. Box 471, Fairfield. MID was first The University of Iowa is to be commended for its consideration of a nonsmoking policy in all buildings and vehicles. Contrary to the headline on the story, however, Iowa would not be the 'first university in the state to implement such a policy. Maharishi International University has maintained a non-smoking policy for many years, with broad support among all groups on campus. Robert Dates, director, public affairs, Maharishi International University, Fairfield. Who pays the true health costs? Medicare does not cover the elderly and Medicaid does not cover the poor. Both programs soothe our conscience regarding "charity" cases. More important, they add tremendously to the cost of all medical services due to the paperwork and due to cost-shifting. Take a $170 bill for emergency-room services for an elderly lady. The "approved amount" was less than $30. The co-payment was $7.28 and the lady had supplemental insurance which would pay that amount. As a participating provider, the hospital is not entitled to collect more than the "approved amount." The balance of $140 remains unpaid. In order to stay in business, the hospital must count that as an expense and adjust fees charged to all patients. This is nothing more (or less) than cost-shifting. Christine Rawlings, P.O. Box 524, Davenport WE'D LIKE TO HEAR FROM V0U - Mail your letter to Letters, The Dei Moines Register, Box 957, Des Moines, Iowa 50304, or submit it by FAX at 515486-Z504. Pleas include your complete name, address and a day-tims telephone number. Because of space limitations, letters may bs shortened.

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