The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 12, 1996 · Page 12
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 12

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Saturday, October 12, 1996
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B2 SATURDAY. OCTOBER 12,1993 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 "I can'tsee myself getting into the mud here in the last three weeks. I think whatever happens, I want to be at peace with myself when it's over." Bob Dole on ABC's 'Nightline' OPINION By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Human accounting THE ISSUE Closing state hospitals THEARGUMQilT Saving money a benefit, not a goal R ochelle Chronister spoke a very simple truth to members of the Kansas Legislature the other day. "Mental health reform and hospital closure are not about saving money at this point," said the Kansas secretary of social and rehabilitation services to the Legislative Budget Committee. It is a relief to hear her say it. It is troubling that she felt the need to say it. Certainly, no one intelligent and informed enough to be a member of the Legislature thinks that the purpose or the result of changes in the way we care for the mentally ill and the mentally retarded is to save money. But that is an idea that Chronister, Gov. Bill Graves and members of the Legislature are going to have to keep fighting off, in part because there are many people who cannot conceive of changing anything in government for any purpose other than to cut spending. Eventually, we might hope that shifting from our old excessive reliance on institutions to more community programs will save the taxpayers money. In the long run, community services can be less expensive, not to mention more humane, than the large institutions we are now seeking to close. We probably won't spend less than we are spending now. We could well spend less than we would have spent if there had been no changes. But that will be then. This is now. And now, we are in transition from one approach to another, one form of care to another. For a time, we will have to run both systems at once, winding down a familiar but largely discredited system while jump-starting a promising but untested approach to care for the mentally ill and retarded. Topeka State Hospital and Winfield State Hospital are closing. Many of the people who live there now, and a great many of the people who might have come to live there later, will instead be referred to community services. The new approach, some years hence, may well prove cheaper. But that is not, and must not be, the point. The point is that the retarded and the mentally ill have just as much right to live in the cities and towns of Kansas as the rest of us have. Not only is it a more pleasant existence, it could well be more productive as, with help, more of them may find an opportunity to at least partially support themselves instead of being dependent on the state or on their families. If we put these human goals first, we deserve to be rewarded with a saving of taxpayer money down the road. But even if we do not realize significant savings, it still will have been the right thing to do. It may not show up in the state's balance book. But it will be counted in our favor in the book up yonder. TORY NOTIONS Let the Republican recriminations begin LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL P.O. BOX 740, SALINA, KANSAS 67402 Tolerance is not always easy The issue of tolerance has been raised in the Salina Journal. This subject certainly deserves further thought and comment. What is tolerance? Does tolerance have limits? Is tolerance always good? What should be its role in the life of a democracy? In my understanding, three elements, together with many other less crucial ones, are essential for a democracy to survive and thrive. They are: 1. Respect for others and the points of view held by others. 2. Advocacy, defense and care for the disenfranchised, the most vulnerable and those suffering most in our midst. 3. Committed support of the democracy by its citizens. Concerning the above I make the following comments. 1. We must show respect for and carefully listen to all persons and all ideas. Sometimes the positions taken by those we call "radicals" have proven to be the best. Listen to them we must but to be tolerant of the actions their ideas may lead to may not be possible. It is necessary to hear what they have to say but we may have to condemn some of the things their proposals may lead to. 2. Another of the marks of a true democracy is the defense of the most helpless, the most needy and the most vulnerable. All human life must be held sacred and treated with respect. We must not fall into the trap of accepting the idea that some human life is expendable for the assumed welfare of the state or persons of power. 3. As citizens we must support our country and be prepared to sacrifice for our country in every way that our conscience permits us to. Such support may mean that I may be compelled to tolerate and give limited accommodation to viewpoints held by others and even the actions those positions might bring forth. I may believe those viewpoints and actions to be wrong but I may have to tolerate, not accept, them. This always results in a struggle of the soul. To be a citizen of a democracy is not always comfortable. On the other hand — to be a citizen of a democracy is a very great privilege. — VERNON SWENSON Lindsborg Divine dropped the ball Last year, when John Divine was mayor of Salina, he was contacted with questions concerning the design of the Ninth and Broadway intersection and the Magnolia Road interchange. He was told that the drainage of south Salina should be improved with the design of the Magnolia Road interchange. The existing 9-by-7-foot box under 1-135 needs to have additional boxes added as recommended by 1978 and 1986 studies. John Divine did not follow up these concerns, nor did Salina city staff. How will John Divine address concerns as a U.S. representative? The same way? — J. NEIL JEDNORALSKI Salina GEORGE F. WILL The Washington Post « Republicans have a right to be mad at Dole and Kemp for avoiding key issues B y making him his running mate, Bob Dole rescued Jack Kemp from what Kemp calls, with studied Chiirchillian overtones, his "wilderness" period. Wednesday night Kemp repaid Dole by making Dole look, in comparison to Kemp, like Churchill. In the "debate" (Americanspeak for a meandering, triangular conversation with Jim Lehrer) with droning Al Gore, who is the elevator music of American politics, Kemp sometimes rose from incoherence, only to espouse the indefensible. To the question "Should federal government affirmative action programs be continued?" Gore, with his tone of patronizing unctuousness, said "yes" and justified such programs with a rationale the Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional — the promotion of "diversity," rather than the remedying of specific injuries from discrimination. Then with slightly smarmy cleverness Gore congratulated Kemp for "being a lonely voice in the Republican Party" in defense of racial and other preferences. Kemp's answer to the question began, "My position on affirmative action has been clear ever since I left a professional football career," and he proceeded to pioneer new frontiers of unclarity. "Affirmative action should be predicated on need," he intoned, oblivious to the fact that affirmative action has to do with race rather than with need. Before Wednesday night many Republicans probably thought things could not get worse. Their spirits had especially sagged when, before the Hartford debate, they saw pictures of Dole soaking up last-minute advice from George Bush. It probably was the fruit of that confabulation that dropped with a damp splat on the stage in Hartford when Dole not once but — it was so fascinating the first time — twice took Bill Clinton to task because four years ago, when debating Bush, Clinton had not addressed Bush as President Bush. From whom do you suppose Dole got the idea to waste the attention of 70 million viewers by resurrecting that minor act of lese-majeste? "With malice toward none," advised the first Republican president. Fiddlesticks. Let Republicans begin their recriminations. They have a right to be furious with Dole and Kemp for not talking, with a heat and constancy commensurate with the gravity o£ the issues, about partial-birth abortions and the California Civil Rights Initiative. Dole's reluctance to talk about those issues suggests unease with cultural questions. He seems comfortable only with the issues of easily splittable differences, like taxes — the sort of issues that came to him on the Senate Finance Committee. Kemp avoids divisive is- T UNCOMMON SENSE THE PRES'DEA/r HA3 AuoroF PHOTO-OP VJHV Jlttr A/OW/ I'M AfilLL KIDS THEIR K/ORVONfc PARENTS Republicans have a right to be furious with Dole and Kemp for not talking, with a heat and constancy commensurate with the gravity of the issues, about partial- birth abortions and the California Civil Rights Initiative. sues because he is a 61-year-old puppy, eager to please, and to be praised by people who have no intention of voting for the Dole-Kemp ticket. And perhaps because his mind is on another ticket — say, Kemp-Powell four years hence. Clinton's veto of a ban on the form of infanticide called partial-birth abortions — the killing of an almost completely delivered baby — was an act of extremism unparalleled in recent American history. It was an act of obeisance to the most extreme faction of the "pro- choice" movement, an act defended by Clinton with medical falsehoods of a brazenness astonishing even considering his penchant for falsehoods. With unsparing descriptions and graphic depictions of partial-birth abortions, Dole could refocus the debate about extremism, and about the coarsening of the culture, which is in much worse condition than the economy, about which Dole complains vigorously. In b stead, Republicans remain pathetically defensive about Clinton's charge that they are extremists because while he proposes slowing Medicare's growth to 7.1 percent annually, they propose 5.9 percent. V; Wednesday night Kemp contrived to raise the subject of partial-birth abortion without even using the name, let alone disturbing, anyone's tranquillity by describing how the baby's brains are sucked out to collapse the,' skull. Doing so would not earn Kemp more media valentines for his cheerful "civility.- • The CCRI, which would ban racial prefers ences by government in California, probably will pass and almost certainly is more popuial than Dole is in every California congressional; district, including minority districts. Opposition to affirmative action is an affirmation of the conservative vision of government's prop: er functions. But Dole is reticent about it, perhaps in part; because his running mate — and his occasional traveling companion, Colin Powell — sup. port affirmative action with positions indistiriJ! guishable from Clinton's muzzy "mend"it;~ don't end it." ,.'''>' Wednesday night Kemp often seemed'as" unprepared as a man who overestimates his capacities is apt to be, and his performance further drained competitiveness from the 199$ race. However, it guaranteed fierce competition for the Republican nomination four years hence. The Kemp-Gore seminar was billed, as £ preview of October 2000. Say it ain't so. ' ••'••<;' Kemp kept one hand behind his back Republicans are still reluctant to raise their best issue — Bill Clinton's character V ice President Al Gore got an early pardon from Jack Kemp, and the Republicans' biggest issue — character — was taken off the table at the start of their debate Wednesday. Since Abraham $ Lincoln's ghost was invoked, let's say it was like refusing to discuss John Wilkes Booth's assassination of the 16th president, because that would have been mean-spirited, and focusing instead on his acting abilities. Still, as in the first debate between Bob Dole and President Clinton, Kemp's substance won over Gore's robotic, often condescending and repetitive mantras. I lost count how many times Gore spoke of "protecting Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment." This on a day when Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala announced the administration's intention to cut $100 billion from the growth of Medicare in the next six years. When Republicans have tried to reduce Medicare costs, Democrats have beaten them silly with demagogic campaign commercials about dead grandmothers. "Tax scheme" was another slogan frequently invoked by Gore in response to Republican tax-cut plans. Gore got one thing right. He said the country has "an important choice to make between two approaches to the future of this country." Kemp's choice begins with the individual and the belief that hard work and right decisions ought to be rewarded with the ability to keep CAL THOMAS Los Angeles Times Syndicate — * Al Gore's choice begins with government as dictator — it sets its own agenda, tells you how much it will cost, and you get to keep what's leftover. most of what you earn. Gore's choice begins with government as dictator — it sets its own agenda, tells you how much it will cost, and you get to keep what's left over. Only on abortion does Gore want government out of our lives or, to be more precise, out of the lives of almost born babies. To his everlasting credit, Kemp was unafraid to criticize Gore on the president's veto of a bill that would have banned partial-birth abortion. Kemp nicely summed up the problem with big and encroaching government: "This economy is overtaxed, over-regulated, there are too many people suing each other... our education is not up to the standards that the American family and the American people want for their children, and clearly the welfare system is a disgrace .... It's not the values of the poor that should be called into question, it's the values of the welfare system from Washington that prevent people from climbing out of poverty." It was a slightly longer indictment than Ronald Reagan's succinct pronouncement about having a deficit not because we are taxed too little, but because the government spends too much. CNN's Bill Schneider found Kemp's words too difficult to understand. If he's right, it's further evidence of the deplorable condition of our public schools, which could be improved if parents had the "right to choose" on education. Kemp was precisely on target on foreign pol* icy, criticizing the administration for not having one. This prompted Gore to claim credit where none was due. You would think the ad : ministration was responsible for world peace when, in fact, fighting has subsided in Bosnia" and Haiti only because we are an occupying force. Who believes that once our troops have vacated (after the November election, of course) people who have a long history pf killing each other won't start doing so again? The most laughable Gore foreign policy line was about "reconciliation" in Northern lr& land, where two days earlier an IRA bomb ex> ploded at a British army barracks. Gore tried to link George Bush's brilliant Desert Storm operation which expelled Saddam Hussein from Kuwait with the missile lobs on southern Iraq that Clinton ordered with only British support. He even mentioned the presence'of Norman Schwarzkopf in the debate audience' as if the former general's presence endorsed the administration's approach to Saddam. " The press' insistence on "civility" in this campaign has effectively silenced the Republit cans' most powerful weapon — character..;But if you can't trust Bill Clinton to tell the truth about anything, why would you vote for him? How can we believe that Clinton and Gore mean what they're saying, especially since what they say today so often varies with what they said yesterday? Bob Dole has one last chance to raise the character issue by simply reminding us of how' many Clinton associates and appointees are in jail, under investigation or been forced to ren sign in disgrace. If Dole shows up in San Diego just hoping to be liked, he'll fail. <• In debating Gore with one hand tied behind his back, Jack Kemp fought a draw. Like Dole in Debate 1, he needed a KO — but didn't get it. Character is the Republican ticket's possible knockout punch — but maybe nobody cares. •" III IE5BURY By G.B. TRUDE/U} MINP/F IGO AT PV0UC* ALL. MM? ANP>SH& ffT»i PROBATION.

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