Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania on October 29, 2002 · Page 6
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Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania · Page 6

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Tuesday, October 29, 2002
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VIEWPOINT Tuesday, October 29,2002 — Page 6 "The Gazette wants to be the friend of every man, the promulgator of all that's right, a welcome guest in the home. We want to build up, not tear down; to help, not to hinder; and to assist every worthy person in the community without reference to race, religion or politics. Our cause will be the broadening and bettering of the county's interests." — Indiana Gazette, 1890 The Indiana Gazette Generic Senior By MARK LANE Cox News Service DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — You don't know me, but I can tell by the look on your face you're trying to figure out why I seem so familiar. Maybe it's this gravelly, sincere voice. Maybe it's the look of helpless worry I do so well. Listen. Hear that slow, soft, tin- klely piano solo that often plays in the background when I appear. Figured it out yet? Yup, I'm the Generic Senior. I've dominated your television screen all month. And just wait 'til this week is over. By the time polls open, you're going to want to put me in the old television-advertising-folks home. At least you will if there's still a Medicare program around to pay for it by then. If I haven't lost my home to confiscatory taxes by then. If they haven't taken away Social Security by then. If they haven't tossed me into the streets so they can pay for smaller class sizes by then. You see, this is what I do best. Worry. Yeah, yeah, I hear you. Old people worrying is a cultural stereotype. Well, let me reassure you: Personally, I'm not worried. I have far more work than I can handle. Every producer of political ads is calling my agent this year. We gotta have Generic Senior looking worried that he'll lose Social Security to Wall Street sharpies after it's privatized. We gotta have that Generic Senior guy who will bravely fight back tears at the prospect of going untreated because Congress can't get its act together on prescription drug coverage. We gotta have Generic Senior who demanding tax relief or the bank will foreclose on his home. We gotta have Generic Senior look crushed because his life will be destroyed by politicians cutting budgets because some amendment got passed. When I get this stricken, helpless look onmyface, grown people cry. I know. I sat with the focus groups. Once I had to personally convince this one woman in the group that I'm just an actor and the bureaucrats, lawyers and career politicians aren't really going to turn off my oxygen tank. It's only a campaign ad, lady! I feel great. Sheesh. Last election cycle, I lost a lot of work to those snotty little Generic Schoolkids. Always waving their little hands in the air. Me, me, call on me! Really annoying. They were everywhere with politicians standing in front of chalkboards. There're fewer of them this year. Education is a touchier, more expensive issue now, and the happy little Generic Student doesn't vote. He was always a snippy little know- it-all, if you ask me. Before that, you always had to listen to that whining Concerned Housewife. As I told the ad guys before and I tell them now, I'm more versatile then either of them. I can be in an attack ad and it won't feel like an attack ad. Republicans use me to attack Bill McBride and me class-size amendment. Democrats use me to attack Republicans who want to privatize T— excuse me, reform—Social Security. And both parties need me to swell up with pride at the sight of Old Glory or cringe with fear at a future darkened by politicians, personal injury lawyers, greedy HMOs or whoever else is doing mischief. Both parties need Generic Senior to melt with gratitude in front of Rep. Incumbent who is looking out for me in Washington. Heh, heh, that's me, Generic Senior. And don't even think of attempting that warm, half-to-myself chuckle, bucko. It's a registered trademark. So don't hate me just because you're sick of seeing my face in campaign ads every hour of every day and night. Yeah, I feel your pain, but I'm just doing my job. And as those baby boomers age, my agent won't be able to answer the phone fast enough. That's why I don't care what they do to Social Security. I'm sure not going to retire any time soon. (Mark Lane is a columnist for The Daytona Beach, Flo,, News-Journal. He may be reached at mark. lane@news-jrnl. com) Saturated with violence By BOB HERBERT New York Times News Service . KENSINGTON, Md. — Flowers, candles and a small American flag sit next to the industrial vacuum cleaner that was installed for the convenience of customers at one edge of the Kensington Shell station at Connecticut and Knowles avenues, just across the border from Washington. Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera, a 25-year- old Silver Spring resident, was using the vacuum to clean up scattered Cheerios and other items in her minivan around 10 a.m. on Oct. 3 when a shot from the so-called Beltway sniper slammed into her back and killed her. If you stay in the business of reporting long enough you can begin to feel that you're always walking in the footsteps of violent death. As I jotted notes describing the spot where Lewis-Rivera fell, it reminded me of the notes I'd taken in August at an intersection in the Bronx where a 10-year-old girl had been shot in the head and killed by a man who, according to police, was firing wildly at somebody else. I scribbled in my notebook that the stain of the girl's dried blood on the sidewalk "was about the size of a dinner plate — you could see where the blood had seeped into the ridges of the cement." I never did a column on that murder, in part because it was too routine. The kid-kiUed-by-slray-bulIet story had already been written so many times in so many places that there wasn't much to add. The scene here in Maryland's Montgomery County, where six of the sniper's victims were killed, also reminded me of Columbine, the Son of Sam terror in New York and the horror that fell upon Oklahoma City in the spring of 1995. Shawn Creasey, a young airman who was one of the first to get a close-up view of the carnage in Oklahoma City, said, "It's not like you see on television." He described how he and other rescue workers fought their way through the wreckage of the federal building. "We found a foot sticking up out of the rubble," he said. "It took me a few minutes before I realized, you know, that was somebody's mom." That's what murder is really like. A child's blood on the sidewalk. A stiffened leg belonging to some- body's mom. The nation is saturated with violence. Thousands upon thousands of murders are committed each year. There are more than 200 million guns in circulation. Murder is so routine, including the killing of children, it doesn't even warrant serious news coverage in most cases. We don't know what to do about all this violence. We sensationalize it, glamorize it, eroticize it. We are fascinated, not by the victims (or by the people with serious ideas about how we might prevent some of this violence) but by the killers. With the exception of her family and friends, nobody knows who Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera was. . But through their exploits, John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo have purchased a permanent place in the nation's culture of notoriety. If they aren't executed, they may someday be trotted out, like David Berkowitz, to add their commentary to our coverage of the serial killers of the future. In the popular culture of movies, television and video games, murder is such a staple we seldom give it a second thought. If a bare breast were shown on network television, it would make headlines from coast to coast. But homicides are fed to us as routinely as commercials for cars and beer. Bang! She's dead. We'll return to this delightful carnage after a word from our sponsor. Lewis-Rivera, who was married and the mother of a 3-year-old girl, and all the other victims of the Beltway sniper will soon be completely forgotten by the general public. New victims will take their place in our consciousness, but only momentarily. The violence in our society is as relentless and impersonal as an automobile assembly line. Muhammad and Malvo may have been the ones actually cruising the streets day and night snuffing out innocent lives. And if that's so, they will deserve whatever punishment they get. But it's the rest of us who have tolerated, encouraged, even embraced a culture of such violence and relentless dehumanization that the death of a Lori Ann Lewis- Rivera really means nothing. We murder one another by the tens of thousands in this country, and there is no sign anywhere that that is about to change. COLLEGE Bush seeks mandate for tax cuts By MORTON KONDRACKE Newspaper Enterprise Assn. If this isn't a "nationalized" election, don't blame President Bush; He's stumping for a mandate to make his tax cuts permanent, get his judicial nominees approved and run the Homeland Security Department as he chooses. And also to reform Medicare, pass his energy and terrorism-insurance bills and put limits on medical malpractice awards. Furiously moving around the country — this week to Pennsylvania, Maine, the Caroiinas and Alabama — Bush is using a stump speech mat rarely varies and confronts Democrats on their favorite issue, the economy. While Democrats are running ads in states Bush visits charging that the economy is "the weakest in a generation" — an overstatement — Bush acknowledges, "it's kind of bumping along, not as strong as it's going to be" if he gets more tax cuts. In every state, he cites the amount of money taxpayers there would "keep in their pockets" and spend or invest to "stimulate job growth" if his rate cuts, marriage penalty repeal, child care credit and "death tax" repeal were extended beyond their current cutoff date of 2010. He does not make a point mat Democrats could: that the total adds up to $553 billion over 10 years, more than half of what remains of the nation's once-fat budget surplus, and all of it coming from once-sacrosanct Social Security revenue. To nationalize the tax issue, though. Democrats would have to declare that they will delay or repeal Bush's cuts. They aren't willing to open themselves up to charges of "raising taxes," even in the name of "saving Social Security." Curiously, meanwhile. Bush is not touting two new positions that could help GOP candidates cope With charges that they favor big business over workers and are "bought and paid for" by the pharmaceutical industry. Last Saturday, Bush used his weekly radio address to unveil administrative steps to put workers' 401 (k) retirement plans on an even footing with those of their bosses. And on Monday, he announced new regulations to bring low-cost generic drugs to market more swiftly, saving consumers and employers an estimated $3 billion a year. On the radio. Bush sounded almost like a populist in declaring that "corporate executives should have to follow the same rules that every other employee must follow during blackout periods. If you can't sell on the shop floor, you should not be able to sell on the top floor." He. announced new regulations, fulfilling elements of Congress' new iaw on corporate abuse, to give workers a 30-day notice of 401 (k) trading blackout periods, enabling them to sell their stock, and said that the Securities and Exchange Commission was readying a rule to prevent executives from selling stock when workers can't. Bush took his customary swipe at the Senate, pointing out that the House has passed — but the Senate hasn't — his proposals to allow more stock diversity in 401(k) plans, more frequent account updates and better investment advice for workers. In speeches in Pennsylvania and Maine on Tuesday, Bush never referred to his action on 401 (k)s nor to the even more surprising poke he took at the pharmaceutical industry, which is staunchly allied with the GOP and a frequent target of Democrats. Following a Federal Trade Commission recommendation, Bush announced that drug companies could have only one 30-month extension on their patents before generic products could come onto the market and couldn't get any extensions for mere cosmetic changes in their products. "Our message to brand-name manufacturers is clear," Bush said. "You deserve the fair rewards of your research and development; you do not have the right to keep generic drugs off me market for frivolous reasons." Democrats charged that Bush's steps were inadequate and disingenuous, lacking an adequate enforcement mechanism and undercutting a generic bill passed by the Senate and blocked by House GOP leaders. Still, the pharmaceutical industry's lobby seemed stunned by the action, especially after the millions it has given to GOP candidates and committees this year. With rising drug costs a major campaign issue in many states, es- pecially among swing senior voters, Bush's action ought to help GOP candidates —if voters find out about it. On other issues. Democrats will find it difficult to accuse Bush of "politicizing" either the war on terror or Iraq policy. He certainly wraps himself and his policies in a patriotic aura, but breathes not a negative word about the opposition. That's not the case on homeland security, though, where he accuses the Senate of trying to take away authority held by "every president since lohn F. Kennedy" to suspend union and civil-service work rules for national security reasons. In Missouri last week, Bush said that GOP Senate candidate Jim Talent "understands what I'm talking about. You put him in the Senate, we'll get us a good-homeland security bill, which will make it easier for presidents to protect America." Bush also claims that the Senate has established "the worst record in history" and is "playing shameless politics" with judicial nominations and calls for passage otiegislation to "modernize" Medicare with a drug benefit, increase energy conservation and "stop junk lawsuits" against doctors. Nobody can accuse Bush of sitting on his 65-plus percent approval rating. He's using it to make this election a referendum on his policies. So far, though, he isn't setting off a landslide. (Morton Kondracke is executive editor of Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill.) Bahrain takes step toward democracy By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN New York Times News Service MANAMA, Bahrain — There is nothing more beautiful than watching people get to vote in a free election for the first time — particularly in the Arab world, where elections have been so rare. That's what happened in Bahrain on Thursday, as this tiny island nation off the cast coast of Saudi Arabia voted for a parliament that will, for the first time, get to share some decision-making with Bahrain's progressive king, Sheik Hamad bin fsa al- Khalifa. As I visited polling stations, what stnick me most was the number of elderly women who voted, many covered from head to toe in black burka-like robes. Many of them illiterate, they would check the picture of the candidate they wanted to vote for and then stuff the ballot in the box — voting less for a politician lhan for their own empowerment. One appeared to have her grandchildren with her. As she voted, her grandson, who looked about age 10 UNLESS CLEARLY LABELED AS A "GAZETTE EDITORIAL," ALL OPINIONS ON THE VIEWPOINT PAGE ARE SOLELY THOSE OF THE AUTHORS. and wore a soccer outfit, tried to explain to his iittie sisters what a voting booth was. Thus are seeds of democracy planted. This is the first election ever in the Arab gulf region where women were allowed to run and vote, and their husbands have quickly discovered what that means. The king's wife, Sheika Sabika — in an unprecedented move in this conservative region — campaigned publicly for women to go out and vote. She visited a Shiite Muslim community center and an elderly woman stood up to say: "Thank you. [Because we can now vote,] for the first time our husbands arc asking us what we think and are interested in what we have to say." It's true that Bahrain's young king has been planning this transition to a constitutional monarchy for several years, as part of a move to spur economic growth and overcome Bahrain's legacy of Sunni-Shiite tension. He prepared the way by releasing all political prisoners, inviting exiles home, loosening reins on the press and repealing laws permitting arbitrary arrests. Nevertheless, this election is about something larger than Bahrain. It is about how the Arab world confronts the forces that produced 9/11 — and all of Bahrain's neighbors, like Saudi Arabia, are watching. What the more enlightened Arab leaders understand today is that with the mounting pressure of globalization, population explosions and dwindling oil revenues, their long acceptance of political and economic stagnation — which they managed with repression and by refocusing anger onto Israel and America — is becoming unsustainable. While the first big explosion happened in New York City, these regimes know that unless they get their houses in order, and on a more democratic track, the next explosion will be on their doorsteps. Not a single person I spoke to at polling centers mentioned foreign policy. Most said they hoped the parliament would improve the economy, end corruption by senior ministers and give people a voice. "Things have changed in the whole world and we can't just sit around and watch and have no forum to express our views — the pace of change dictates this upon us," said Dr. AWM. Abdul Wahab as he waited to vote. The Bush team needs to pay attention to the Bahrain experiment, because it is a mini-version of what nation-building in Iraq would require. Like Iraq, Bahrain is a country with a Shiite majority, which has been economically deprived, and a Sunni Muslim minority, which has always controlled the levers of power. Historically in this part of the world, democracy never worked because of the feeling that if your tribe or religious community was not in power, it would lose everything— so no rotation in power could be tolerated. By electing one house of parliament and appointing another, the Bahrain! king is taking the first tentative steps to both share decision- making and nurture a political culture in which the country will not be able to move forward without the new lawmakers' building coalitions across ethnic lines. The same would be needed in Iraq, only on a much larger scale. I heard Harvard's president, Lawrence Summers, say once that "in the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rented car." Ditto for countries. So many Arabs today feel that they are just renting their governments. They have no real ownership, and so don't feel responsible for solving their own problems. Bahrain took a small step last week toward giving its people ownership over their own country, and one can only hope they will take responsibility for washing it and improving it. No thing could help (his region more. There is hope. asette (USPS 262-040) Published by THH INDIANA PRINTING & PUBLISHING COMPANY 899 Water Street Indiana, PA, 15701 (724) 465-5555 Established in 1B9O On the Internet: jndianagazette.com R.HASTIERAy Publisher. 1913-1870 LUCYR.DONNEU.Y Publisher, 1970-1993 JOH DONNELLY Publisher, 1970-2000 MICII Afil. J- IJONN I; LI .Y „ _.I'residen l Publisher HASTU'n.KlNTER „ _ Secretary Assist nn iTrea.su re r STACIli I). GOrrFIIF.IlSON _ Treasurer Assist.int Secretary IOSF.PII I.G1-ARY ..Ccncral Manager ROBERT YILSIIjONIS..... ..Adv./Mklg. Director SAMUEL I. HECirn-I ....Executive Editor LYNN SCOTT Assl. Executive Editor Special Projects CARL A. KOIDGIE -...Managing Editor CARRIER SUBSCRIPTION RATES — Paid in advance to Gazette office — Pour weeks, $12.35; Thirteen weeks. S37.35; Twenty-six weeks, S75; Fifty-two weeks, S14B.90. MOTOR ROUTE SUBSCRIPTION IIATHS — I>aid in advance to Gazelle office — Four werLn, $12.90; Thirteen weeks, $:ill.75;'IVrenly-MX weeks, $77.30; Fifty-two wcdu, SIM. SUNDAYONLYSUBSCRIFnON HAILS — Paid in advance to Gazelle office: • BY CARRIER—Twenty-six weeks, S22.10: Fifty-two weeks, $44.20 • BY MOTOR ROUTE — Twcnly-six weeks, $24.70; Fifty-two weeks, $49.40. MF-MRER OPTHB ASSOCIATED PRESS — Tile AP is entiilcd exclusively in the tiseor reproduction of all local news printed in this newspaper as well as all AP news dispatches. • Prilod loals tWagR Ittk) al lin! ti MB, HA I f.701 Puli!l<hc<l dally eircpl KewttariUhy, Memorial liny. Inly round. Ulxir Day,TltinksK)«tn B I>TiyniiilclirtMHi.-Kl),iy. raamaarr. Send ixlclms clungr* in: Indiana Ca/cm-. PCXIkwIO. Indl.irUI, i'AIS70l

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