B2 THURSDAY. OCTOBER 10, 1996 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: (913) 827-6363 E-mail: SalJournal ©aol.com Quote of the day "It irks me when people use the character's name in a demeaning way. Us like attacking motherhood and applepiefor heaven's sake," Bozo the Clown a.k.a. Larry Harmon, objecting to Bob Dole's reference to Bill Clinton as 'Bozo' OPINION By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal No more prisons THE ISSUE Prison overcrowding THE ARGUMENT We don't need prisons; we need ideas D wight Eisenhower once said that every dollar spent on weapons of war was a dollar stolen from the needy, the hungry, the children of the world. The same could be said of the money spent on prisons. Which is why Kansas should not spend more money building prisons until we have made absolutely sure there is not a better way. And there must be a better way. Prisons, like weapons of war, are a necessary evil in the world. But if some are necessary, that doesn't mean that more is better. The state of Kansas currently has custody of more than 7,500 souls, and the number is growing. Because we already have more inmates than we have cells, we are starting to stack them two to a* room. The result has been unrest and violence in three of the state's largest prisons, violence that threatens our state employees and, in the long run, our state. Gov. Bill Graves said last week that the state will soon have no choice but to build more prison cells to hold the existing prison population and to receive the added inmates expected in coming years. But we do have a choice. And we should make a different one. First, the state should declare that it is not going to build one more prison cell, not one more bar, not one more bunk, until we have grasped the reasons why so many of our fellow citizens are being sent there. And we should actively seek alternatives. First, and most obvious, is the ludicrous War on Drugs, which clogs our courts, corrupts our police and crowds our prisons. As long as we continue to apply the failed methods of Prohibition to the modern mood-altering substances the marketplace demands, we will never be able to build enough prisons to hold all the drug dealers and users. Also, we must start imposing economic sentences for economic crimes. Spending months or years rotting in a prison cell does absolutely nothing to make whole the victim of a theft or swindle. It would make infinitely more sense to make these criminals feed and house themselves, but garnish their income or seize their assets to make restitution to their victims. New ways of dealing with criminals will not be easy to find. And they will not be cheap. But no one will even try them, even think about them, as long as the first response of our leaders to prison overcrowding is to build more prisons. We have enough prison cells. We need more brain cells. LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL P.O. BOX 740, SALINA, KANSAS 67402 Gays should not be denied basic rights As a woman today in a heterosexual marriage, I am angry about the fact that my country is denying the equal human rights I enjoy to a certain class of its citizens. Think about this for a minute. Our country, the land of the free, home of the brave, is denying equal rights to some of its citizens. Isn't our country supposed to be a place of equal opportunity? If this is so, then why is society persuading the government to discriminate against gays and lesbians? Andrew Sullivan says in his June 3, 1996, Newsweek article, "Gay men and lesbians are no longer strangers in America. They are citizens, entitled, like everyone else to equal protection — no special rights, but simple equality." Gay men and women have the same hopes as everyone else, and they seek "to be a full and equal part of America, to give back to our society without being forced to lie or hide or live as second- class citizens." Yes, I believe that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry their partners. When someone is lucky enough to find a person to fall in love with, and want to make a legal, public commitment to them, they should be able to without discrimination. Gays and lesbians are human beings and deserve equal human rights. If the gay and lesbian community is denied these rights, it will force them to pretend to be someone they are not. They should be able to express themselves as freely as the heterosexu- al community, without any shame. They should not be outcasts in their own country. — JESSICA JOHNSTON Concordia Glorify the Creator, not the creation Your "Do onto others" opinion (Sept. 25) was an essay in ignorance, however well intentioned. How can a person who doesn't claim to be a Christian, such as yourself or followers of the Ma- harishi, claim to be the authority on what is compatible with Biblical Christianity? I specify Biblical because it may very well be compatible with what some people may call Christianity, but it is not compatible with Biblical Christianity. I believe the Smith Center pastors are more qualified than any of you to speak with authority on this subject, since their reference is without doubt the Bible. The proponent of TM proved that he didn't know what he was talking about when he said that TM helps Christians to glorify the creation. Anyone who has really studied the Bible is aware that God condemns those who glorify creation rather than the Greater. It is Him and Him alone that we are to glorify. Anyone who doubts that TM is incompatible with Christianity should obtain a copy of "TM Wants You" by David Haddon & Vail Hamilton, published by Baker Bookhouse. I highly recommend it. — KATHY KINDALL Wells T UNCOMMON SENSE Clinton a master of style over substance If Dole can't do any better, he should start working on his concession speech ( followed my own advice and listened to the presidental debate on the radio so I could focus on substance and not be distracted by President Clinton's love affair with the camera or Bob Dole's telegenically challenged demeanor. Dole did well, and in that sense he won, because expectations for his 4 performance had been so low. In opening remarks, when both men had a chance to set the tone and agenda, Clinton flawlessly hit each of his campaign themes. He took credit for 100,000 more police officers on the streets, though only 15,000 have been seen. He brazenly claimed responsibility for tax cuts, even though his tax hike was larger than any president in history. Dole opened soft, introducing family and a friend. He stat- * ed his themes in response to a question about the role of the federal government. Clinton answered with a litany of legislation and programs he favors. Dole's rebuttal was good but could have been better. He said the president trusts the government, but he (Dole) trusts the individual. He might have noted what James Madison said about the lim- T ON MY MIND CAL THOMAS Los Angeles Times Syndicate ited role of the federal government: "The powers delegated by the proposed constitution to the federal government are few and defined." Or, since Clinton has becpme a faux Republican, Dole might have paraphrased John Kennedy's line about not asking what your country can do for you, but what you can do for yourself. Government is far less effective than individuals who make right decisions for themselves and their families. Clinton praised a stupid new law requiring a 48-hour hospital stay after a woman has a baby. That may sound compassionate, but some women may need to stay longer and others with normal deliveries might be able to go home sooner. Why should politicians without medical training make a one-size-fits-all decision for every mother? Dole did well when he spoke of what his proposed 15 percent tax cut would do, putting enough of our money back in our pockets to allow families to notice. He said $1,261 a year for a family of four making $30,000 was enough to purchase four or five months of day care, buy a personal computer or make three or four months of mortgage payments. As expected, Clinton responded that we can't afford it. Here was Dole's chance for a strong statement along these lines: "It's our money, not yours, and we can afford it if Democrats stop spending our money as if it were their money." But he let it pass. Dole did get a clear shot at trial lawyers, the Hollywood elite and big labor, which, he noted, has ponied up $35 million in "soft money" to influence close congressional races. But Clin- ton responded with a story about a child who was killed when his school bus was hit by a drunk driver. He said the family would not have been able to recover damages from the uninsured driver if he had signed a Republican tort reform measure. And so it went throughout the 90 minutes. In baseball parlance, Dole got on base, maybe even hit a double. But he needed a home run — and he didn't get it. What happened to the dramatic announcement that had been rumored — perhaps an offer to resign if he didn't follow through on his promise of a tax cut, or that Colin Powell would be his secretary of state? Yes, Bob Dole was introduced to a lot of voters who don't really know him. Yes, he used humor to his advantage. And, yes, people were reassured that Dole in his latest incarnation is not the nasty man he seemed to be during the 1976 vice presidential debate. But, as the television set revealed (I watched it on tape after hearing it on radio), in the style contest, it wasn't even close. Clinton is the master of style over substance. Dole's final comment — "I know who I am and I know where I'm from, and I know where I want to take America" — was a good line. The problem is that Clinton tells us what we want to hear. Though his record shows his "ideas- in-motion" promises cannot be trusted, a majority appear willing to vote for him anyway. The debate was probably a draw. With less than a month to go before the election, if Dole has a secret weapon, now is the time to use it. Otherwise, forget the inaugural address and start working on the concession speech. Dole failed to raise the character issue If Bob Dole does not worry about Bill Clinton's character, then why should we? B ob Dole entered Sunday's presidential debate with two political handicaps. He emerged with three. The first handicap was President Clinton. He achieved so large an October lead in the polls the way his critics thought he never could: by convincing enough Americans that he had looked after their economic and social interests and would continue to do exactly that in a second term. Dole's second handicap is his own campaign. It was successful in only one goal: Say Dole and you think tax cuts. The problem is that American voters believe that Clinton has been successful enough in shepherding the economy that they are not dribbling at the thought of a tax cut. Without how-to details from Dole, they do not accept his trust-me argument that he could do it without saddling them with interest on a bigger deficit. The third handicap is a brand new one created by Dole and the geniuses who propped him for the debate. Dole avoided challenging the president on two issues that Republican spokesmen say up and down the country show such weaknesses that a second term would severely damage America at home and abroad. A.M. ROSENTHAL The New York Times They are Whitewater and character. Dole failed to bring them up, except glancingly, and marginally. All he said about Whitewater was that the president should announce that he would not grant a pardon to anybody convicted in the affair. That would be wrong for any president to say about any people still to face trial. But pardon has not been the heart of Republican Whitewater charges, barely a toe. The allegations are that Clinton and his wife are guilty of something, that cover-up was going on in the White House, and even that the death of Vincent Foster, the Clintons' aide, was connected. Those are charges of utmost seriousness. Any one of them could bring down a presidency if true, and is villainous mischief if not. If Dole is too delicate or too uncertain to bring them up directly in nationally seen debate, continued Republican attacks about Whitewater will smell fraudulent. Character: Dole brought it up obliquely by referring to drugs as something in the president's past, presumably using marijuana as a young man. But it is demeaning the issue to hang it on that. At home character includes hiding files, misusing the White House against opponents and allowing presidential aides to keep security clearances after they contemptuously evaded FBI background checks. In foreign policy the issue cuts even deeper. Republican foreign policy experts accuse Clinton of squandering American prestige by refusing effective action to stall or punish Sad- dam Hussein for moving armed forces into Kurdish territory supposed to be within U.N.- shelter. Dole said correctly that Saddam was stronger now than before his latest military adventure. But there is a character issue involved in Clinton's conduct of foreign policy that Dole skipped over. That is the price of Clinton's inconstancy toward nations and movements he had promised to befriend, and its risks to the United States. The first to suffer from this unbecoming presidential habit were Chinese Communist dissidents and Tibet, the victim of almost a half-century of Chinese occupation and oppression. Clinton hailed them one year and walked away from his official promises the next in submission to pressures from the Chinese Communist government and the American lobby of businesses in the China trade. The failure of Clinton about Iraq, and the decision to walk away from the Kurds, was the latest inconstancy. The debate was Dole's chance to point out that Clinton's character trait of inconstancy is a warning sign to all nations and peoples, that the word of American presidents may amount to no more than a helicopter helping America's friends flee their, own country. Dole missed it. The debate will not decide the election, or many votes. For him or against him, Americans understand that if Clinton wins it will because the country prefers his achievements, whatever his faults, to Dole's promises, whatever his virtues. Clinton has fought hard twice for the presidency. He never got a free ride, not before Dole's generosity Sunday night. By G.B. TRUDEAU uwviiwmiMsoiw, you UA7CHTH5. OWMP/C&W H&GQT \l m QFAU. inept CYCLING CHAW\\CmiQN. BAR&MANP WHATCV& THATMEAN?
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