The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 26, 1986 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

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Sunday, January 26, 1986
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Page 4
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Opinion The Salina Journal Sunday, January 26,1986 Page 4 •T 1 ! Mft;i *, T 1 1 he Journal Founded in 1871 HARRIS RAYL, Editor and Publisher KAY BERENSON, Executive Editor SCOTT SEIRER, News Editor LARRY MATHEWS, Assistant News Editor LORI BRACK, Weekend Editor JIMHAAG, Night Editor MARY JO PROCHAZKA, Associate Editor Vote no aid There he goes again. President Reagan again seeks military aid for guerrillas trying to overthrow the government of Nicaragua. The aid, $60 million, would be part of a $100 million package that would include "non-lethal" help. Congress cut off military aid to the guerrillas, known as contras, in 1984. After a long debate last year, Congress agreed to give some non-lethal aid. Now Reagan wants to buy more guns and ammo for these thugs. Why do we keep debating this issue? If we had followed the American ideals we preach, we would have washed our hands clean of this Nicaragua business long ago. One of those ideals is tolerance, a willingness to accommodate political, religious and cultural diversity. That ideal guides our behavior at home, providing the glue that has helped to hold together a vast nation of remarkable ethnic variety. The ideal should influence U.S. behavior abroad as well. In the case of Nicaragua, clearly we can afford to tolerate its government, despite our dislike for its political complexion. This tiny country poses no security threat to the United States. The Nicaraguan regime may be a troublemaker in Central America. If so, we should support efforts like the region's own Contadora process to help Nicaragua's neighbors achieve an end to Sandinista mischief through a regional agreement. Any U.S. efforts to influence Nicaragua's internal affairs should go no further than peaceful diplomacy. Congress should reject Reagan's latest bid for contra aid. Lawmakers should insist that the administration instead seek a negotiated solution. Clarification needed President Reagan has a prime opportunity to practice what he preaches about terrorism. He should halt debate over comments he made Wednesday to abortion opponents by unequivocally declaring that he will not pardon abortion clinic bombers. Reagan, an abortion foe, met privately with about two dozen abortion opponents. After that meeting, a couple of those attending said the president had said he might consider pardoning abortion clinic bombers "on a case-by-case basis." As could be expected, that report drew controversy. A White House spokesman, Albert Brashear, responded by saying Reagan really hadn't said that, but had simply said he "may get a review" of a case in which a man was sentenced to 42 years in prison for kidnapping a physician who had performed abortions. Other abortion opponents who attended the meeting with Reagan said they interpreted his comments differently. Needed is a clarification from Reagan himself. If his comments led anyone to believe he condones property destruction, and he doesn't, he needs to set the record straight. Otherwise, his comments could be construed as a presidential endorsement of bombings. If Reagan truly intends to pardon clinic bombers or kidnappers, he should make his position clear. If he intends to take the doling of justice out of the judicial branch and into his own executive branch hands, Americans deserve to know what Reagan perceives as just. Bombing — any building for any reason — is a dangerous, serious crime. That no one was hurt is a fact of chance, not a mitigating circumstance that should lessen criminal penalties. Kidnapping likewise is a serious crime. Our laws consider the deliberate deprivation of another's freedom serious enough to warrant life imprisonment. If Reagan believes the crime doesn't count if the "criminal" acted out of dedication to an honorable cause, then he was a hypocrite for criticizing Middle East terrorists, whose actions stem from sincerely held beliefs. If he really believes his own impassioned condemnations of terrorism, he should speak out against terrorism in his own back yard. Gambling, purity and hypocrisy Some notes on purity in Kansas: One of the slickest wagers among a golf foursome is called bridge. It's run much like the card game with openings, bids, even doubles and re-doubles. After partners are determined, one pair opens with the score (number of strokes) it will accomplish on the first hole. The other partners counter with their bet. Scoring is complicated. But with carrying some bets, their doubles and even re-doubles, the few dollars wagered on the first hole can become hundreds by the 18th. Think tennis is tame? Love40 is no romance if the server's brother-in-law has put half a c-note on his team in the city doubles tournament. Bingo is the bulwark of many a church. There isn't a Kansas saloon without a card table, a locker room without a fistful of bets on the next games at Lawrence or Manhattan. Cock fights and dog mauls are social events in some secret spots, with big money around the pits. Once after a lunch with District Attorney Dennis Moore at a club in Johnson County, where he prosecutes, Moore turned into the ' 'men's card room" instead of taking a hall to the exit outdoors. Four men sat at each table watching a television soap opera on the wall. The tables were clean. "Amazing," Moore said later. "Ever notice how many businessmen are so addicted to spaps that they watch them over the noon hour at private clubs? " Word travels quickly when you come in a place, he was told. "Too bad," he said. Frog jumps at a county fair can attract the jaded, but in Kansas the law says we're pure. We love the law and the order it assures us. We'll have no whiskey at the betting windows until the sun sets in the east. : New Mexico and Nebraska love our passion for purity. Kansans are still free to plunk their cash at Ak-Sar-Ben and Ruidoso. Colorado and Missouri are mad about us, as we support their state-sanctioned shell games. If there is an interest in sin here, in Kansas, it is only vicarious. Ask any travel agent after I'm betting a state lottery would be bad news Many Kansans probably would admit to a bit of inconsistency when they talk about the state's liquor laws. They like the idea of a wet local watering hole, but favor keeping Kansas "dry." The same may be true for gambling. Some of us enjoy occasional jaunts to Nebraska to play the ponies, and we look forward to our quarter-limit poker games. But we swallow with a grain of salt the television poll that indicates 83 percent of all Kansans favor a state lottery. As a spokesman for the Every-Other- Wednesday-Night-Poker-Club, I must admit to some concern on our part. Even though each of the charter members will undoubtedly claim to be the big winner over the 20- odd years the club has been meeting, it's also understood that a bad night may mean a steady menu of beans on the dinner table until payday. So it's doubtful the EOWNPC members will approve of another temptation being placed in their path. That doesn't mean, of course, that I'd want to give up my chances at winning a million dollars or more in those promotions that Larry Mathews ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR arrive in the mail so regularly. I figure the price of a 22-cent stamp on the "No" envelope is a cheap enough price to pay for the possibility of becoming a millionaire. Trouble is, Ed McMahon told me in his last personalized sweepstakes letter to me that if I didn't buy one of his magazines this time, I was going to be taken off his mailing list. Friends certainly can be fickle! But about this lottery business. If we need the additional money for property tax reduction, as Carlin wants, or for economic development, as many lawmakers want, then let's get it the old-fashioned way — let's TAX for it. There's no denying the promise of riches is going to take money from those who can least afford it. There's also no denying the prob- lems that other states have encountered in spending more and more to bolster slumping ticket sales. Those estimates of $60 million to $80 million in lottery revenues are tough to swallow, and in the event they prove true, even tougher to justify. My biggest objection, however, is the thought of having to read all those stories on the winners — you know, about how it isn't going to change them even though they plan to quit their job, buy a new car for each of the kids and a fur coat for the wife, tour Europe, and hang out at the racetrack. And those are followed, of course, by the stories on how the winners couldn't handle their sudden wealth and lost it all along with distant relatives and fair-weather friends who suddenly appeared out of the woodwork. Then there's the image problem that we may encounter if we hang out the "no- gambling" sign and eventually become an isolated island in the lottery sea. Can't you just hear them saying: "What else could you expect from those conservative Kansas hicks who refuse to gamble with their state's future?" Has kind of a nice ring to it, doesn't it? Iowa lottery even has grocers pushing tickets John , - Marshall ' / HARRIS NEWS SERVICE a winter month of Las Vegas specials. Ask the dog breeders, rooster raisers, Calcutta chairmen, the high priests of payday poker and bingo brokers. Ask any kid who's played stretch with a pocket knife, or pool with the guys. We don't gamble. Can't stand to. The law says so. This is why the state wants to get in on gambling — because it's against the law. If betting is a no-no, our hearts remain pure even if our fingers are sticky — in secret, or in other states. If the Legislature creates a lottery, a new kind of gambling, blessed by law, the wages of sin might be diverted from the corner bookmaker to the state treasury. Of course, we shall keep the prohibitions on other forms of betting with a few dozen loopholes and exceptions. The word from Topeka is that state-sponsored gambling (a form of socialism, where the profits go to the government) is grand — so long as the odds are stacked against the bettors. In pure Kansas, we wouldn't have it any other way. Quotation You wouldn't say an ax handle has style to it. It has beauty, and appropriateness of form, and a "this-is-how-it-should-be-ness." But it has no style because it has no mistakes. Style reflects one's idiosyncracies. Your personality is apt to show more to the degree that you did not solve the problem Lian to the degree that you did. —Charles Eames Iowa is disappointed in its state lottery. Its experience may be a valuable warning to Kansas and other smaller population, mid- western states with Las Vegas dreams. Although lottery officials are promising $100 million in the first year to skeptical legislators, that's well below the original promises of painless prosperity for the state. It's just harder to infect a scattered, rural population with the gambling fever. Numbers games, whether run by organized crime or organized governments, seem to work better with large ghetto populations, which can be counted on to sell their food stamps to buy the tickets. Not that Iowa is giving up. Far from it. State liquor store clerks have been ordered to solicit customers to buy lottery tickets along with their booze. This bothers some. "Why are state employees pushing gambling?" grumbles one legislator. It does have a kind of Third World ring to it, like those hungry-eyed kids you meet outside Asian airports: "Hey meester! Drink? Gamble? Feelthy peectures? You like meet my seester?" Who knows how far this desperate effort to balance the budget without raising taxes will go? Already the state store pandering has spread to the private sector — groceries, service stations and the like, which are signed up as lottery ticket outlets. A new state program gives the stores an extra 1 percent John McCormally HARRIS NEWS SERVICE commission if their clerks ask all customers if they want to buy lottery tickets. If a clerk fails to ask, the customer may receive a free ticket. I've already run into this latest revenue- raising effort at my friendly neighborhood grocery. The smiling lady at the checkout counter unfailingly asks me if I'd like a lottery ticket, and I worry that she's going to think me a tightwad if I don't succumb soon, which I guess is the idea. I admire her patriotic efforts to help the state raise money. But it's curious, isn't it, that she's never asked me if I've forgotten the milk, bread, bug killer, or whatever it was on my wife's list I can't remember? Ah, but I protest too much. After all, this is the crown jewel of modern governance, the ultimate in Reaganomics—funding the state without discomfiting the rich. In Iowa its champions are the prestigious newspapers and the Democratic party, which terrorized the governor (who knew better) into signing the bill after he'd vetoed it twice. So I've been trying to think of ways to make the lottery more lucrative. The liquor store and grocery clerks have pointed the way, but surely we can do better. We may not have the urban slums where lotteries are high priority. But why not license auctioneers to auction off lottery tickets at farm foreclosure sales? The same sense of desperation which makes the urban poor grasp at the one-in-a-million chance, pervades those events. And how about the ushers who take up the Sunday collections at church? Couldn't they hand out lottery tickets as they pick up the envelopes? Some might think that sacrilegious. But why? Church bingo is most often cited as the moral precedent for state gambling. School lunch rooms offer another rich possibility for increased sales. It would require kids to beg a little more lunch money, but who knows? It might perform a social good by siphoning off some pot money. Kids below the poverty line who get free lunches ought to get free tickets. You get them in the habit early and when they grow up and have their own food stamps, you've got a steady customer. This only scratches the surface. But then it's still a long way to Las Vegas, to the gambling big time — dancing girls, Frank Sinatra, Joseph Aiuppa. We're jes country f oik, doin'our best. Once, tobacco was in and smoking respectable ' 'A woman is only a woman but a good cigar is a smoke." "The Indians gave us tobacco and we gave them syphilis." "What the country needs is a good 5-cent cigar." These and similar statements, mythical or not, are part of the literature created by the golden leaf. They perhaps are similar to the Philip Morris contention that William Allen White would have spoken out in favor of cigaret advertising. The up-te-diddle about this claim made me stretch my memory to the days when I worked at The Emporia Gazette. Mr. White didn't smoke but his son, Young Bill, did. And I smoked, perhaps not in Mr. White's office; that would have been dangerous because of the overflowing cascade of books and papers that rippled from his desk to the chairs and on to the floor. But perhaps there was an unwritten rule against reporters smoking in the office — not advertisers or subscribers. I do not recall ash trays being provided. My own experience with the tobacco goddess may be a case in point for those interested in the rise and decline of smoking. To begin with, a half century or so ago, smoking was not yet ranked as an original sin nor even as a cardinal transgression; it was a matter of choice. Neither of my parents smoked. My grandfather certainly did. He loved a good cigar as much as he did his bedtime whisky toddy. As for cigarets, he thought they were fit only for pimps and prostitutes. Marijuana was restricted to gandy dancers on the railroad right-of-way and to a few drummers in dance bands. Farmers chewed. Whitley Austin HARRIS NEWS SERVICE Smoking was so respectable in those heathenish days that I was allowed to write a paper on cigars for my grade school class at the Emporia Normal Training School. Probably I got the idea because of my good friends, Charles Firth, took me to visit his father's cigar factory. Every town of any pretention had its own cigar factory then. In doing research for my theme, I wrote the wholesalers in Kansas City for information. One of them, I think it was the firm selling Chancellor cigars or maybe it was Niles & Moser handmades, was so taken with my inquiry that it sent a salesman to Emporia to explain the industry. Besides pamphlets, he gave me a box of 10-cent cigars, the top of the line, which in turn I presented to Dr. H.G. Lull, the principal of the Normal school. Imagine that happening today! I didn't take up smoking until I went to college. My first cigarets were fashionable Dunhills but I soon was won over to Chesterfields by one of those salesmen who visited college fraternities and passed out ample samples. Nearly all college men smoked cigarets by then, although faculty members preferred pipes. Few of the girls smoked; those who did were suspected of other bad habits. I tried to smoke a pipe upon occasion but did not enjoy the experience. I tried chewing tobacco, just once, more than enough. In the Army I became thoroughly addicted to the "coffin nails." In the early days of World War II, recruits were showered with them. It was standard operating procedure to go into a city bar, in uniform, and receive without asking a free drink and a free pack. Most cigarets in those days didn't come with filters and soldiers early learned how to shred stubs and then roll the remaining cigaret paper into a ball so tiny it could be hidden in pockets or even in moderately tall grass. This practice saved much stooping when the platoon was ordered to police a drill field. In India, Burma and China, cigarets were a commodity far more valuable than the paper currency available; it was scandalous what one could buy with them. Back in Hutchinson, Kansas, at the Sunday editor's desk, I regularly smoked three packs a day, on some long and tiring Saturdays, four packs. When I moved to Salina I brought the habit with me and the poorly ventilated rooms of the old brick castle at Seventh and Iron reeked with the layered smoke. Why and when I switched mostly to cigars I don't remember. Perhaps George Lamone, if he would look up records of sales to "Austin's Pool Hall," could tell. Usually I smoked 10 cigars a day; I preferred grenadiers, a shape similar to pantellas. More than three years ago, I tired of coughing. I gave up tobacco. Period. Cold turkey. No gradualism, no substitutes. I became pure ^ the driven snow And fat.

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