The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on March 24, 1995 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

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Salina, Kansas
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Friday, March 24, 1995
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Page 4
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4 Friday, March 24,1995 VIEWPOINTS The Salina Journal the Salina Journal Serving Kansas since 1871 HARRIS RAYL, Publisher GEORGE B. PYLE, Editorial Page Editor SCOTT SEIRER, Executive Editor JIM HAAG, Assistant Editor BEN WEARING, Deputy Editor TIM FITZGERALD, Sports Editor BRET WALLACE, Associate Editor MARY JO PROCHAZKA, Associate Editor BRAD CATT, Associate Editor Editorial Opinion Riding a juggernaut Roberts tries to rein in his party J ust as the Congress is about to run like a herd of lemmings off the edge of the fiscal cliff, a few independent Kansans can be heard urging something resembling reason. The new Republican leaders of the House are determined to vote in a tax cut for the poor, put-upon folks who are struggling to raise their children on salaries as paltry as $199,999 a year. The fact that such tax credits for children would actually harm the next generation — by robbing it of things like decent school lunch programs, saddling it with an ever- larger mountain of debt, or both — doesn't seem to matter to people like Speaker Newt Gingrich and Majority Leader Dick Armey. But it does matter to western Kansas Congressman Pat Roberts and the other three House members from the Sunflower State, good Republicans all. All four have joined a large faction of House Republicans to ask that the $500-per-child tax cut called for in Gingrich's Contract With America be limited to families with annual incomes of no more than $95,000. That is still too high a limit. It helps people who do not need it. And even the short-term help it will provide for taxpaying families who are struggling to get by will be off- Roberts set by cuts in programs that help those same families and by increasing the federal deficit. Any tax relief Congress feels compelled to provide should, indeed, target families with children. But it should target families that really need the help, say, those making $35,000 or less. Only those middle-class families can make a sound case for being overtaxed, because a wildly disproportionate share of the money needed to keep the Social Security system afloat is siphoned from their paychecks. But Roberts has been in Congress long enough to know a juggernaut when he sees one. And he apparently does not think he can derail this one — only steer it a little. Roberts also knows that, in the long run, this welfare-for-the-rich proposal is a political loser for his beloved Republican party. We can only hope his fellow pachyderms will listen to him. If Roberts and company can succeed in making the Republican House position on tax cuts the more reasonable $95,000 limit, then coming compromises with House Democrats and the more moderate Senate may leave America with a little tax reform that might actually help people who are not rich enough to buy their own member of Congress. The Salina Journal welcomes letters from its readers on subjects of public interest. The best letters are short, to the point, and stick to a single subject. Volume of mail received prevents the publication of all letters, and the editors reserve the right to edit for space or style. Write: Letters to the Journal, P.O. Box 740, Salina, KS 67402. Fax: {913)823-3207. E-mail: America Online: SalJournal. Internet: SalJournal@aol.com. Letters to the Journal Representatives should stand on principle I am distressed by the mood of the Republican senators for their abuse and threats of punishment towards Sen. Mark Hatfield, a man of integrity and years of service, for voting his convictions instead of the party line. Would that all our congressmen do likewise. This would be a good time to remember a forgotten hero, Sen. Edmund G. Ross from Kansas, who may well have preserved for ourselves and posterity constitutional government in the United States. The story is told in the book "Profiles in Courage" by John F. Kennedy. After the Civil War the mood in Congress was mean and ugly. Congress wanted to inflict harsh punishment on the defeated South, while President Andrew Johnson was trying to follow President Lincoln's policies of reconciliation in bringing the southern states back into the union. False charges were trumped up against Johnson, and impeachment proceedings were brought against him. Sen. Ross knew the mood was angry in Kansas for impeachment, and his sympathies lay with them. He opposed President Johnson's policies, but he cast the one, deciding vote against impeachment because of his conviction that the charges and proceedings were unjust. As Ross himself later described it: "I almost literally looked down into my open grave. Friendships, position, fortune, everything that makes life desirable to an ambitious man were about to be swept away by the breath of my mouth, perhaps forever." To quote from "Profiles in Courage" (teen-age abridged edition), Page 79: "Neither Ross nor any other Republican who had voted for the acquittal of Johnson was ever re-elected to the Senate, not a one of them retaining the support of their party's organization. When he returned to Kansas in 1871, he and his family suffered social ostracism, physical attack, and near poverty." The majority is now always right. Looking back, things are often viewed differently. As we approach this Easter season we are again reminded that a little fewer than 2,00° ^-....s a D , '.l.j . eligious moral majority demanded the release of Barabbas, a criminal, and the crucifix- ion of Jesus. Pilot gave in to their demands against his better judgment. — MYRON LADY Abilene Town pitched in to save its heritage I would like to commend the citizens and friends of the Bennington community for their recent success in purchasing and retaining the old soda fountain in the Bennington Drug Store, which was built in 1913. Brandon Cochran and Tim Bulleigh are partners in the business, while many "friends of Bennington" united together to obtain the soda foundation back bar and stools. Another local resident kindly purchased the marble soda bar. Thus, this was, and still is, a united effort of many people. As Ottawa County Historical Museum Curator, I'm sincerely concerned about historical endeavors within the county. I am just learning about the area's rich heritage. During the week before the auction of Feb. 19, from Tuesday through Saturday, I was very busy daily with meetings concerning the project; just as were several Bennington citizens and other friends. As I understand from the owners of the new establishment, pizza and soda (pop), perhaps also coffee, etc. will be served, with a wholesome environment of recreation, for both young and older local patrons and visitors. I appreciate the privilege I had in taking a small part in this worthwhile, historical endeavor. Thank you. In our county museum at Minneapolis, we have many interesting exhibits and have promoted preservation and historical education outreach. A major exhibit concerning the famous African-American scientist, George W. Carver, continues with progress in development. Volunteers provide great help, and we have a very progressive museum board. We also support county unity and individual community identity. Please visit our museum. — JETTIE CONDRAY Minneapolis • Jettie Condray is curator of the Ottawa County Historical Museum, Minneapolis. JURISPRUDENCE If ignorance is bliss, then we must be delirious A ccording to a new poll, 60 percent of Americans are unable to name the president who ordered the nuclear attack on Japan, and 35 percent do not know that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. One out of every four people surveyed for the America's Talking/Gallup Poll did not even know that Japan was the target of the first atomic bomb. Four percent of the 1,020 adult respondents thought the first bomb had been dropped on some other country. Twenty-two percent knew virtually nothing about an atomic bomb attack. They didn't know where — or, in some cases, even if — such an attack had occurred. Two percent of those surveyed thought John Kennedy launched the first nuclear strike, and one percent thought it was Richard Nixon. This is scary. In an era in which the ability to acquire and properly process information has become profoundly important, America insists on being, to a large extent, a nation of nitwits. Consider, for example, some of our recent top-grossing movies: "The Brady Bunch Movie," a ditzy reprise of a ditzy 1970s situation comedy about a terminally ditzy family; "Dumb and Dumber," which is even dumber than the title indicates; and "Billy Madison," a full-length made-for-morons motion picture about — what else? — a moron. I turned on "Beavis and Butt-head" the other night, and it was so much worse — so much more stupid — than anything I had imagined that I just sat staring in astonishment. I had a notebook in my hand, which was ridiculous. You can't IN AMERICA Bob Herbert THE NEW YORK TIMES make notes about "Beavis and Butt- head. " None of this would be important if we were talking only about fads, goofy things that make a momentary appearance, spark a chuckle and pass harmlessly from sight. But that is not what is going on. We are surrounded by a deep and abiding stupidity. Radio talk-show hosts, contemptuous of facts and disdainful toward truth, spew venom — and mindless listeners all across the country cheer. Each day tens of millions tune in faithfully to the television talk shows, which have come to resemble an imbecile's version of "Can You Top This?" Topics from the past week include: "Teen-age boys who claim to have slept with many girls"; "Virgins tell us about the men who they hope will take their virginity"; "People who embarrass their spouses in public"; "A 31-year-old woman who is engaged to a 14-year-old boy," and "Skinny men with large women." Some African-American students, unable to extricate themselves from the quicksand of self-defeat, have adopted the incredibly stupid tactic of harassing fellow blacks who have the temerity to take their studies seriously. According to the poisonous logic of the harassers, any attempt at acquiring knowledge is a form of "acting white," and that, of course, is to be shunned at all costs. If only there were alarms clanging from coast to coast to alert us to our folly. An ignorant populace is a populace in danger. Consider that many of the people who are screaming the loudest about the so-called Republican revolution were too ignorant about the issue of civic responsibility to drag themselves to the polls last November to vote. And then consider the large number of folks who did vote without having a clue as to what they were voting for, or against. An election night poll showed that nearly half the voters believed that either welfare or foreign aid was the largest item in the federal budget. They couldn't have been more wrong! These are two of the smallest items in the budget. . I spoke to a woman last week who had just made the astonishing discovery that Gerald R. Ford was once president of the United States. "I'm so embarrassed," she said. "I didn't know until I saw the three of them (Ford, President Clinton and former President Bush) golfing on the news." Americans who willingly swim in a sea of ignorance can blame themselves when the quality of their lives deteriorates. An example: As the crucial Senate vote on the balanced-budget amendment approached, were most Americans — whatever their political persuasion — aware of the vast implications of this latest attempt to change the Constitution? No. If ignorance is bliss, we must be a deliriously happy lot. The Republicans forget our Basic Principles W ell, just in case anyone had any doubts about the Republican plan for improving America, here it is in the numbers: cut programs that serve the poor and give tax cuts to the rich. With a certain cruel intelligence, the Republicans have managed to pick out and damage precisely those programs that we know do real good — summer jobs for inner-city kids and nutrition for pregnant women — while leaving the most wasteful and useless programs, like the veterans hospitals, untouched. These folks must have been trained by The New York Times copy desk, a notoriously sadistic outfit. This isn't the old guns-or-butter debate — although the Republicans combine a determination to increase spending on the military during peacetime with an equal reluctance to use the military for any peacekeeping endeavors. They seem to have missed out completely on Basic Principles. The assigned responsibilities of the federal government, for which we all pay, including poor folks, are (1) to form a more perfect union, (2) establish justice, (3) insure domestic tranquillity, (4) provide for the common defense, (5) promote the general welfare and (6) secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. What do the Republicans think government is for? I'm sorry that government involves filling out a lot of forms. Large human institutions just do seem to come replete with forms, as you will have noticed if you have recently had any dealings with your health insurance company. I'm sorry myself that we're not still on the frontier, where we could all tote guns, shoot CAN SHE SAY THAT? Molly Ivins THE FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM anything that moved and spit to our hearts' content. But we live in a diverse and crowded country, and with civilization comes regulation. It's all very well to run around saying regulation is bad, get the government off our backs, etc. Of course our lives are regulated. When you come to a stop sign, you stop; if you want to go fishing, you get a license; if you want to shoot ducks, you can shoot only three ducks. The alternative is dead bodies at the intersections, no fish and no ducks. OK? At first, I thought that Republican anti-government rhetoric, government as The Enemy, was a sort of nostalgia for the myths of the frontier. (As our western historians keep pointing out, the key factor on the frontier was cooperation, not independence, the frontier was multicultural and the frontier was subsidized by the government.) But I am increasingly convinced that what we have here is a full-blown case of ideological mania. It's like trying to talk to members of the John Birch Society. As Richard Hofstadter pointed out in "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," we have a long, rich tradition of political paranoia in this country. We seem to need enemies, and we've just lost our longtime best enemy, the Big C. So now we're running around looking for someone else to blame for the state of Doonesbury the world. Liberals seem to be in the running, although speaking as a lifelong Texas liberal, I never thought we had control of anything, so it's sort of hard cheese to blame us. Just to remind you of how the world really works, we're the ones who got thrown out of Democratic conventions. There are some classic warning signs of ideology out-of-control that are starting to show up regularly. One is losing touch with the practical. There's a lot to be said for pragmatism. If you have a program that is successfully providing nutrition to poor women and their babies, you don't want to throw it out because babies born in poor health continue in poor health and end up costing the society a hell of lot more money than does the program providing early nutrition. One preemie can cost more than a million dollars. Clear? Another bad sign is cutting off outside sources of information. Actually, that's what goes on inside cults - the followers are cut off from all influences outside the cult. I don't want to push the cult analogy very far, but there is not only a complete, self-enclosed, right-wing media world but also an increasing tendency on the part of some Republicans to push ideological purity to zany new heights. Their latest move is to cut off lobbyists — we are speaking here of bidness lobbyists, not greens or feminists or civil-right workers — who do not measure up to conservative standards. Lobbying associations that have in the past supported Democrats are being told to get new lobbyists. As though a lobbyist ever gave a damn about ideological orientation. Now that's strange. By G.B. Trudeau flH&AUn OKAY, LeFSVO ONE, ..THIS IS ROLAND HeOLBY. TOPAY, NO, NO, TOO U3N6...TU. ISDOUN'A KIP7W5PTO GATHIM! IP/PNT KNOW/T AXRATCH. MAS YOU.' H& SUPPORT FOR. THE Ff&£ tVA5HtN61DN ARBA SCHOOL...

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