"114 SUNDAY, OCTOBER 13. 1996 THE SALINA JOURNAL "George B. Pyle m editorial page J 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 Z 67402 • Fax: ~ (913) 827-6363 E-mail: ; SalJournal '. @ aol.com Quote of the day ; "Images of (Bill) •• Clinton playing golf, or the saxophone, or his »• favorite card > game, hearts, 'have become such standard fare that "they have come to '1 constitute what •1. might be called '. an iconography ;: of ordinariness." < Elizabeth i Kolbert '• The New York Times By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Can't stand the heat THE ISSUE Pat Roberts vs. Sally Thompson THEARGUMBUT Congressman thinks he is above criticism I f Pat Roberts thinks it is out of bounds for a campaign rival to raise the point that two of his children have been on the federal payroll, then he has been in Washington too long. The longtime Republican congressman from western Kansas was so upset the other day after the other person running for the U.S. Senate, Democrat Sally Thompson, attacked the $1,300 internships Roberts' kin had in the House doorkeeper's office, that he angrily refused to share an elevator with her. His exact words, overheard by a Kansas City Star reporter, were, "I'm not getting into the elevator with that bitch." Roberts instantly apologized for his choice of language — or, at least, for his choice of an audience. He later issued a formal apology in which he regretted his outburst, but defended his rage at a personal attack on his children. This whole campaign has taken on a decidedly negative tone, exaggerated by the fact that both candidates possess skins that, frankly, may be too thin for the rough and tumble of politics. Thompson has only been in public life for six years, after a career as an accountant and banker. She can display a personal resentment of political criticism that has not served her well. But, while Thompson may display a metal yet untempered, Roberts has no such excuse. After eight terms in the House, Roberts appears to believe the Senate seat being vacated by Nancy Kassebaum is his by divine right. Thompson's attacks on Roberts' questionable residence, his sizable pension and his vote to end a federal youth jobs program four years after his own children had temporary government jobs are all valid points for an opponent to raise. It is not Roberts' word choice that is important. It is the attitude his ourburst betrays, an attitude that would deny any mere mortal the right to question a , public official. If that is his attitude, then perhaps Roberts would benefit from a return to private life, where he could freely exercise his constitutional right to make crude remarks about politicians. T CONTRIBUTING EDITOR From city to country DAVID A. WILSON for the Salina Journal The quiet rural way of life has its own forms of stress A study has been done, so now it's official! People are moving from urban to rural areas ("Life in small towns makes a comeback," Salina Journal, Sept. 23). Not that a study was really needed, but I suppose it's good to have it confirmed. The urban-to-rural movement has been going on for years, and it will undoubtedly * continue. Perhaps that is the reason the Natural Law group decided that Smith County was a good location for their new learning center. With only about 5,000 people, Smith County certainly qualifies as rural. The reasons this group would choose a rural w area are probably very much the same as the reasons families and individuals make the same choice. Urban life is stressful. Rural life is perceived as being more laid back, relaxing and restful. > That's true to some extent, but it takes a while to make the adjustments. Twenty-one years ago, we made a move from city to country. Moving to a two-acre "farmlet" (it's what we could afford) 10 miles from the city we lived in at the Jime seemed like a good idea and, in the long run, it was. In the short run, we had to make a lot of Changes in attitudes. We found that dealing with utility companies, weather, roads and the gen- j|ral inconveniences ofjhiral life often cause their own sflress. f Some things took a while to learn. Others we learned very fast, such as always having candles and flashlights as well as auxiliary, non-electric, heat. When the power goes out in the rural areas, It sometimes takes longer to get it -back on than it does in a city. Weather conditions can render Then suddenly, one aiduvxin T CAN SHE SAY THAT? Election may not be over when it's over the roads impassable. Shortly after we moved to our rural home, a flash flood washed out one of the bridges. That county lacked the money to replace it for four years. Because we heated with propane, winter road conditions could contribute to another problem. If the roads were impassable due to bad weather, we could get no propane deliveries, no matter how badly we needed it. And any time of the year it was not easy to get repair people to come to the house. It was much easier to load the washing machine or refrigerator into a pickup and take it to the city to be repaired. Sometimes there were difficulties with wild animals. We raised chickens and ducks. Opossums and mink will kill chickens, and skunks seem to love fresh duck meat. Then there were the two rabid skunks we killed in the back yard. After we lived in the country long enough to be considered rural ourselves, we could understand how much a person had to learn to adjust to country living. Some did not learn very fast. One such person burned trash in a burn basket next to tall, dry grass — with no water hose ready. The resulting grass fire burned several acres. Some learned faster, such as the new neighbor kids who took turns rolling down and embankment covered with poison ivy. But everyone eventually learned, or moved back to a more urban area. Recently, some Smith County residents have expressed objections to members of the Natural Law group coming from St. Louis to build a center in Smith County. The real question is how long will it take the former city-dwellers to adjust to the weather, roads and general inconveniences of rural living. If they adjust soon, they may actually be able to enjoy the lack of stress they are probably looking for. If not, the next government-funded study may show they and many others moving back to the cities. • David A. Wilson, Smith Center, is a retired microbiologist and a member of the Salina Journal Board of Contributing Editors. Strange situation in Texas may decide who gets control of the U.S. House H ave you heard the one about how it all comes down to Texas? In this chilling horror scenario, it's Nov. 6 and the R's and the D's have come out in a near-tie for control of the House of Representa- _ $ tives. Just two or three votes' difference will determine which party runs the House, whether Dick Gephardt or Newt Gingrich is elected speaker and whether the reelected President Clinton gets a chance to go back and "fix" the welfare bill, as promised, or we actually do wind up booting little kiddies and crippled seniors out into the street. So? It may not be over 'til it's over, but the fat lady sings Nov. 5, right? Not in Texas. Because of a triumph of legal reasoning by three Republican judges in Houston, Texas has 13 congressional districts that could still be in play after Election Day — and some of them very likely will be. Since the three-judge panel threw out last spring's primaries in these 13 districts over a redistricting beef, what we conduct on Nov. 5 is merely an open primary, all comers and parties welcome. In several now-crowded races, no one is likely to get 50-percent-plus-l. The run-offs are scheduled for Dec. 10, which gives the D's the willies because it's a set-up for the Christian Coalition. The average voter figures he did his duty in November. Who holds elections in December? Who thinks about voting during the Christmas MOLLY IVINS Fort Worth Star-Telegram shopping bustle? Passionate ideologues, that's who. That's how we got Rep. Steve Stockman, our proudest contribution .to the national Knot- Head Quotient, in the first place. Normal voters stayed home, the Christian right and its disciplined troops turned out in force, and whammo, we sent a hopeless dingbat off to Congress. I'm not saying that all candidates supported by the Christian right are hopeless dingbats: Stockman is special. For those of you who may have forgotten, Stockman is the glorious gun nut, militia supporter and Polluters' Best Friend who is facing a complaint to the Federal Election Commission from the 1994 campaign and will almost surely draw another this time. In "94, he took $80,000 from the Suarez Corp. of Ohio, which was out to get incumbent Jack Brooks. Stockman, according to The Beaumont Enterprise and the Houston Chronicle, lied on his resume in '92 about being an accountant, lied about having worked for IBM, lied about being a graduate of the University of Houston- Clear Lake (he did later graduate) and lied about being a computer consultant at the school. And although this may not be morally opprobrious, Stockman, who's from Michigan, spent his first six months in Texas living in the Fort Worth Water Gardens and reported having zero income to the IRS as late as 1990. My favorite recent example of the quality of people with whom Stockman hangs out is a letter that his chief of staff sent Mimi Swartz of Texas Monthly after Swartz wrote a profile of Stockman dubbing him "Congressman Clueless." Stockman's jefe suggested that Swartz had gotten her job for reasons other than talent. More dangerous is Stockman's association with Larry Pratt, a former director of Gun Owners of America, who has spoken at meet- ings of the Aryan Nation. According to the magazine Roll Call, Stockman made Pratt "almost a shadow congressman." Our other peppy possibilities for a Texas-determined House of Reps include the 25th District in Houston, where incumbent Ken Bentsen is running against 10 challengers, including several loons, one standard-brand Republican and Dolly Madison McKenna, a pro- choice Republican. Dallas' 5th District, East Texas' 2nd District and the amazing 14th District, which runs^lll over everywhere, are also in play. In the amazing 14th, Democrat Lefty Morris (his slogan is "Lefty is Right!") faces the Republican/Libertarian Ron Paul, who is himself so far right that he's sometimes left, as happens with your Libertarians. I think my favorite issue here is Paul's 1993 newsletter advising "Frightened Americans" on how to get their money out of the country. He advised that Peruvian citizenship could be purchased for a mere 25 grand. That we should all become Peruvians is one of the more innovative suggestions of this festive campaign season. But what will the Peruvians think of it? Over in the 5th District, Democrat John Pouland faces Pete Sessions, the son of the'foi- mer FBI director who has built name recognition by running against the retiring incinh- bent, John Bryant. Sessions is a serious right- winger associated with the National Center* for Policy Analysis, the right-wing think tank that puts out such screwy studies that it is in itself practically a case study in how statistics lie. The bad news for the D's, as Bob Dole's campaign sinks slowly in the West and Clinton threatens to carry Texas, is that the R's'are now giving up on Dole and putting their money into congressional and legislative races. And if there's one thing the R's always have, it's money. Tennis not for the poor, or squeamish This just in: Government discovers that exercise is good for you S o I went to the U.S. Open tennis tournament, which is a big tennis event in New York City, which by the way has gotten much nicer. I say this because, as I was getting out of a taxi, I was startled by the sound of a woman's voice, coming from somewhere behind me, saying something like, "Please check for your personal belongings!" I assume that this was a recorded announcement, being played as part of New York's visitor-courtesy campaign. Either that, or some poor woman is locked in the trunk, and if you keep listening she says: "Please get me out of here!" But getting back to the U.S. * Open: This is definitely the place to be if you want to see the finest tennis players in the world throw up. (More on this later.) But I warn you: You might be intimidated by the crowd. I was. I'm more used to football crowds, the type of crowd where you can paint your body and dance on the seats and blow on a giant plastic horn and wear an animal-shaped hat the size of a fire hydrant and scream insults at the officials so loud that traces of your saliva wind up in the hair of people sitting 38 rows in front of you, and you will not even be noticed. Tennis is not like this. The U.S. Open crowd is made up mainly of your wealthy, upper- crust, wine-snot type of individual, the type of individual who is genuinely concerned about the rising cost of helicopter maintenance, the DAVE BARRY The Miami Herald type of individual who does not personally do The Wave because he or she has a staff for that purpose. Tennis has tried to soften its elitist image via such public-outreach programs as having the top players go into the inner cities and donate their used polo ponies to the poor. But the sport still attracts mainly your conservative, reserved fan. The entire U.S. Open crowd makes less noise cheering than a single New York Jets fan makes burping. I'll tell you one reason why tennis doesn't appeal to" the masses: The rules were invented by insane people (specifically, the French). If you look at a normal sport such as baseball, you see that the rules are very logical: three strikes is an out, unless the third one is a foul tip (but not if the catcher catches it), or if the catcher drops the third strike, in which case the batter may advance, provided that there are runners on first or first and second and fewer than two outs ... no, wait, that's the Infield Fly Rule. But my point is that baseball makes sense; whereas tennis has a virtually random scoring system. When players win a "point," most of the time they actually get 15 points, except sometimes, for no apparent reason, they get 10 points, and sometimes (this is during the "tiebreaker") they get one point, and sometimes they get no points, which means they are at "deuce," which has something to do with "ad." I think a big reason why tennis crowds are so quiet is that everybody's sitting there thinking: "What the hell is the score?" This is not to say that tennis isn't exciting. I saw a moment at the U.S. Open — the tennis world is still talking about this moment — when Pete Sampras, with the score tied (also known as "deuce") (or possibly "ad") in the fifth "set" (or possibly "game") of an extremely tense "match" (or "furlong"), reached deep within himself and — as the truly great ath- letes will — ralphed (or, in tennis lingo, "lobbed his lunch") right on the court. Arjd then he won! The crowd was so excited thaf at the end of the match, one fan — I swear I-'am not making this up — ran down to courtside and got the actual towel that had been used to clean up after Sampras. The fan then left trie stadium, proudly waving this fabulous trophy over his head. Imagine: A towel containing Pete Sampras' actual puke! Everybody at t the country club is going to be so jealous! ' i Let me stress that, despite the Sampras episode, tennis is good for your health. I knoVv this because while I was at the U,S. Open, Doji- na Shalala, the U.S. Secretary of Health aijd Human Services, materialized for no apparent reason and held a press conference at whidh she revealed the startling information that, according to a study commissioned by her ar|d performed by the Surgeon General — exercise is good for you. I am dead serious. They gave out a press kit and everything. 1 It wasn't made clear why Secretary Shalala chose to announce this at a tennis tournament, where the participants and most of the spectators already engage in a physical activity (tennis). Wouldn't it have been more logical for her to make her announcement at some locaje where people mostly just sit around doiijg nothing, such as a bar or a golf course? Do you suppose she really just wanted to watch the U.S. Open? Are other Cabinet members going to pull the same scam? Are we going to see, for example, the Secretary of Transportation showing up at the Super Bowl to announce that, according to a study, the Earth is round? But never mind that. The point is that/.a.c- cording to a study paid for by your personal tax dollars, exercise is good for you. pp^snj't that make you want to get up and. do softip- thing? It definitely makes me want to do something. Somebody get me a towel.
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