The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 2, 1996 · Page 10
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 10

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Wednesday, October 2, 1996
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(18 WEDNESDAY. OCTOBER 2. 1996 THE SAUNA 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 Sallna, KS 67402 Fax: (913) 827-6363 E-mail: SalJoumal Oaol.com Quote of the day "Well, Tve been working on it longenough.lt feels pretty good," Richard Bergen Sallna sculptor after the state approved of putting his sculpture on top of the Capitol dome T COMMENT OPINION By SCOTT SEIRER / The Salina Journal Airline safety up in the air THE ISSUE Valuejet resumes air service THE ARGUMENT We need government oversight V aluJet, a low-cost airline that fell onto hard times in May when one of its planes fell into a Florida swamp, killing all aboard, is in the sky again with paying passengers (assuming a $19 flight from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., is not a give-away). That raises fresh questions about whether the airline is safe. For that matter, is any airline safe? It's a reasonable question. And for the answer we turn to a standby source - our government. The federal government says Valu- Jet, grounded since June when the Federal Aviation Administration found that safety problems were systematic rather than isolated, is again fit to fly. The problems are fixed. Is that assessment good enough? We hope so, for, really, that assurance is all we have. ValuJet's tragic problems remind us once again how much we rely on government to protect us. Such a reminder is especially fitting now, in an election season, as we debate such topics as tax cuts, spending cuts and cuts in the regulations and paperwork to which businesses must tend. Do we really want to scale back the government's ability to provide us a measure of assurance that, for example, planes are safe to fly, water is fit to drink, auto repair shops are honest, meat is OK to eat, or even that air is safe to breathe? The government's oversight isn't always perfect, and the ValuJet experience teaches us that as well. The airline's safety and maintenance problems long went undetected before the Everglades crash renewed the regulators' vigor in probing ValuJat's operations. But even though a loss of consumer confidence could further penalize ValuJet, despite its $19 flights, the marketplace is a poor regulator. Consumers may know fear, but they lack the knowledge to make informed decisions about product quality and safety. The government's assurance often is our best guard that all is well with all the goods and services we consume. To erode that assurance through indiscriminate budget slashing would be short-sighted and foolish. them know .^^•SoWpfc if*^ 02) ^^^ Pl'l^W^, $&'! w S^^gSSfSS'^AK' : 'JTLW^ ,*', -fc 5 4&{iiV '£i«.4r f >» *^> Manly men, messy jobs What Yankee Doodle dipstick doesn't enjoy changing his own oil? I t's true. That shifty-looking character slinking into a Jiffy Lube in a dark brown Honda Civic was, um, me. I paid to have my motor oil changed, and I'm willing to admit it. . It's not that I don't enjoy changing my own oil. What back-slapping, crotch-scratching, common sense-lacking American male wouldn't enjoy barbecuing his forearms on a . scalding exhaust manifold as he DAVID grapples with a WENSTROM greasy oil filter? &,„ Francisco What cigar- Examiner chewing, sushi-es- 4 chewing Yankee Doodle dipstick wouldn't enjoy wallowing on a hard garage floor among a decade's accumulation of motor secretions and mouse excretions? What's not to enjoy? Until recently, I changed my own oil like clockwork every 3,000 miles or 20,000 miles or so. Then a near tragedy caused me to reconsider this strategy. While helping a neighbor change a flat tire, the jack slipped and 2,500 pounds of Ford Taurus came within inches of spilling my beer. To reach the oil plug and filter on my Civic, you have to jack up the car, then slither underneath and try not to remember that you live on the San Andreas Fault. I can think of better ways to commit suicide than with a Honda Civic. I shall especially miss the ingenious ways automotive engineers add spice to the oil-changing ritual: Engineer A: I know, let's put the drain plug on top in plain view. Engineer B: But then they could get right to it. Engineer A: That's the beauty of the thing. They could get right to it, but they'd have to turn the car upside down to drain the oil. Engineer B: Brilliant! The engineers outdid them- selves when they designed the Triumph Spitfire — or "That Accursed Limey Crate," as I called mine. One does not change one's oil lightly when one owns a British sports car. British sports cars are so delicately constructed that if you removed the wrong bolt, you're liable to find yourself entombed in a heap of British auto parts. Fortunately, I never had to change the oil. My Triumph had a sort of self-draining mechanism. About a quart of oil would leak onto the driveway every two or three days. All I had to do was add new oil. I was mulling this over when a Jiffy Lube ad on the radio caught my ear. Why not? I asked myself. I pulled up to the Jiffy Lube expecting to find a gaggle of Type-A women in hard-ball blazers banging out business reports on laptop computers. What I found was a bevy of Type-Beer Gut guys in blue jeans ogling Shelby Cobras in grimy back issues of Motor Trend magazine. These were guys who char slabs of beef on open grills and cheer lumps of beef on open gridirons — and they were paying to have their oil changed! Imagine my surprise at learning these guys were actually paying to have their cars vacuumed. That's right. At many oil-change establishments, skilled mechanics will actually vacuum your car! They understand that while a man might be reluctant to let someone change the oil, no self-respecting guy can be expected to vacuum his own car. If a friend spots you at a Jiffy Lube, you can always say, "Oh, I took my car in to get it vacuumed. It's only $27.99," "Only $27.99 to get your car vacuumed? What a deal." "Yeah. They also changed my oil. I'd rather change my own oil, but they insisted." Perhaps I will miss mangled knuckles and tangled obscenities, but my oil-changing days are over. MILESTONES IN AVIATION: PESK R.V1NG MAS BEEN CERTIFIED BVTttE TAA T COMMENT Dole looks like a dope on drug issue Most boomers probably don't see anything wrong with recreational drug use T he Bob Dole presidential campaign is not going to win over sizable numbers of baby boomers, their voting age children and other younger Americans by claiming President Clinton is soft on drugs. Those are the Americans, actually now the majority of voting age Americans, where "soft on drugs" originated and where drugs have been seen, even tolerated, as a part of the landscape. They are also the people among whom Dole is most likely to be suspect as unknowing and intolerant of younger Americans, too old for the times. Dole personally and in his TV advertising is using old TV clips in which Clinton recalls he once smoked a marijuana cigarette but "didn't inhale" and another, later clip in which he joked to a group of teen-agers that he'd inhale if he got the chance to try pot again. What's obvious to the baby boomers and their youngsters and most everybody else and what ought to be obvious to the Dole campaign is that the film clips show more of President Clinton's pure sappiness than his permissiveness on illegal drugs and he ought to be seen as more a talkative dumbbell on the subject than a threat to the nation's young. That, of course, would be on the shaky pre- T SPEAKING ENGLISH LEONARD LARSEN Scripps Howard Newsservice When Dole pontificates about the president being "soft on drugs," he's more likely to be laughed at than listened to. sumption that President Clinton was telling the truth concerning his past and prospective experiences with marijuana, which is a whole other subject that remains ripe for exploration. What Dole seems to be saying in his attack on Clinton's "naked failure of leadership" on the drug issue is that the president — certainly the nation's most prominent among those baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 — bears moral guilt, not just for himself but on behalf of the boomers and all the shocking and infuriating youthful goings-on during the 1960s. However Dole intends it, that's not much more than stirring the coals of the age issue and the generation gap, the World War II generation vs. the baby boomer generation. And it may be news to the Dole campaign but the issue has already been decided, in 1992 with the election of President Clinton, who won the presidency carrying all the boomer baggage, even including status as a Vietnam war protester and draft dodger. What also seems lost on the Dole campaign is that among the boomers and the younger voting age Americans who followed them -— a total population estimated at 108 million — is a major part of the catalogue of America's drug experience and shared knowledge of illegal drug usage and its consequences. There must be in that group tens of millions of Americans who've used drugs —'•• most likely marijuana but sometimes harder! stuff — who've used and stopped using, who've never been addicted, who've regarded their own and others' occasional drug use as recreational and who, most important, resent uninformed political preaching on the subject from the other side of the generation gap. It's impossible even to imagine that Dole could win over to his side many of those tens of millions of Americans who've been there and done that with drugs and who, most likely, see not only the foolishness of Dole's at-; tacking President Clinton as "soft on drugs" but see another broadside against them and their generation. Rather then delivering a telling blow against President Clinton when he shows the TV clips of Clinton's sappy talk of his own marijuana experience, Dole only hurts himself on the age issue, helping to further alienate baby boomers and younger voters and emphasizing that Dole is old, from a different time and different place and he doesn't understand a lot that's been going on. .My own guess — from someone who shares Dole's generation and has kids among the boomers — is that when Dole uses the Clinton TV clips against the president and pontificates about the president being ."soft on drugs," he's more likely to be laughed at than listened to. It's probably the same as when he recites that masterpiece of an anti-drug motto from the Dole campaign: "Just Don't Do It." I'll be ready when Fm finally brain dead You, too, can serve on a jury, as long as you know absolutely nothing about anything S o many trials. So little time. I'm going to be a part of all of them. I missed my chance in the first O.J. Simpson trial. I ^ was too smart. I knew too much. I was well-read. Lawyers don't like that. I missed a fat book contract, a chance to appear on "Larry King Live" and the opportunity to get the Juice's autograph. But this time, I've got a plan. You see, they're selecting jurors for the O.J. Simpson civil trial. Oh, it won't be the same thing. No cameras * means no chances to get my favorable mug on TV. Not as much exposure that way. Shoot. But, as my father used to tell me, you take what you can get. A jury has yet to be selected for the Oklahoma City bombing trial. I'll wait. I've got time. Plenty of it. Oh, yeah. My plan. Sorry. I ramble at times. I built this contraption, you see. DAN ENGLAND The Salina Journal Lemme show you how it works. You attach the^ metal thing shaped like a cap to your head, you see, and you put that strap under your chin. Good, good, good. Now you sit in that chair there, and you ... where are you going? Oh. Heh, heh, heh. I'm not a killer. That's no sparkler from hell, if you catch my drift, 1 heh heh heh. That's no death row chair. It's simply a knowledge sucker. That's right. It sucks every bit of knowledge you have out of your brain, book by book, line by line, inch by inch. After all, having a blank mind is the best way to become a juror. I know this, you see, because of the way I was scratched off the list of potential jurors for the first O.J. trial. I told them I had a Ph.D. in chemistry and several master's degrees in English, math and social studies. Boom. I was off the list faster than you,can say "guilty." Hurts just thinking about it. Lawyers aren't looking for geniuses during jury selection. Lawyers want people they can manipulate. Lawyers want uninformed people who probably sit and watch "Blossom" all week. What? You don't believe me? Oh, sure. OK. I mean, look at the O.J. trial. The prosecution presented virtually undisputable evidence that O.J. was guilty, you see. They matched the DNA in his blood with blood found at the scene. The chances of a DOONESBURY match being wrong were 1 in 170 million. But the evidence was complicated, you see. It was boring. Man, was it boring. I could watch only five hours of the presentation a day before my eyes crossed. It took at least two episodes of "The Andy Griffith Show" to recover each time. The jury couldn't comprehend the evidence because its members weren't smart enough. The lawyers designed that, you see. They wanted a dim-witted jury. Well, they got it. They got a jury that was swayed by emotionally charged claims that the L.A.P.D.. tainted the evidence to frame O.J. because he was a black man. O.J. was about as much of a brother as Judge Ito, but it worked, and he got off scot-free. I don't have a problem with that, of course. That's the legal system. That cop should watch what he's saying next time, and maybe next time the L.A.P.D. will be more careful about whom they hire. But it proved that juries aren't exactly Mensa candidates. So here I go. I'm strapping on my knowledge sucker and flipping the switch. (Insert buzzing noises here). Ahhh. Much better. Not smart anymore. Good. (Three weeks later). Hey. Good news. I'm member of O.J. jury. Book on way. If I,figure out what men in suits are saying. By Q.B. TRUDEAU PUMWM&XCAL- MARIWNA,

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