The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 27, 2001 · Page 9
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 9

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Salina, Kansas
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Friday, April 27, 2001
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THE SALINA JOURNAL FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2001 Tom Bell Editor & Publisher Opinions expressed on tills page are tliose of tlie identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to „the Journal at: • P.O. Box 740 " Sallna,KS 67402 Fax: (785) 827-6363 E-mail: SJLettens® saljournal.com Quote of the day "The old saying is, 'You can't get blood out of a turnip.'We can't even find any turnips." Sen. Steve Morris R-Hugoton, explaining why Kansas legislators can't find the money to l<eep up with budget shortfalls and demands for Increased spending. OPINION Why? THE ISSUE The Kansas Legislature THEARGUMBtfT Why bother? O ne question for members of the Kansas Legislature: Why? Why are you taking all this time away from your loving families, your regular jobs, your normal diets and your nice soft beds if the only thing you can do in office is fail? Why are you opening yourselves up to all this criticism, ridicule and disdain? Where is the joy, the honor, the sense of accomplishment in that? Since they have returned for their .traditional wrap-up session, and during budget discussions before that, all we are hearing from our lawmakers is why they can't do their jobs. There's no money There's no consensus. There's no chance of making up for the lost time when school funding was on autopilot and tax policy was a bucket with a hole in it. There's no hope of meeting the basic human needs of the very young, the very old and the severely handicapped. How many employers would stand for such a litany of lame excuses? Legislators are elected to find the money, to hammer out consensus, to make decisions, craft policy and meet the basic needs of our citizens, especially those who cannot take care of themselves. Granted, the formal job description of a member of the Legislature is rather vague. The Kansas Constitution makes reference to a state responsibility to provide a basic education, but doesn't specify how lawmakers are to pay for it, or for any of the other services that a decent civilized state provides. But constitutions leave a lot to the hearts and minds of the people of every generation, and their elected representatives. Certainly, the refusal to pay for education, the deliberate blind eye lawmakers are turning to the needs of the handicapped, the willful ignorance of how money spent on early childhood education programs now will save lives and money later, the false belief that a small tax increase is somehow impossible, all violate any basic understanding of a civilization. It all shifts the burden away from the hale and hearty men and women of today's Legislature and onto the elderly, the children, the lame and the blind. Literally. All our lawmakers are doing is scurrying to shift the burdens of governing onto local school boards and city councils, and onto the shoulders of those either brave or stupid enough to seek seats in the Legislature in the coming years, when the spineless lack of decision-making now on offer will finally explode and ever harder decisions will have to be made. If the people now in Topeka really can't solve these problems, maybe they should just quit, go home to their families, jobs and . beds, and let somebody else have a chance. — George B. Pyle Journal Columnist T LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL Please, do us no favors • CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Let's leave Reagan to the historians A n we have heard lately from our local resident socialist/communist journalists (George Pyle and Tom Bell) is to raise taxes and increase government size and spending. These men claim our state government absolutely must increase the amount of money it takes from the citizens of this state (who are this state) so that it (the state government) can then meet our needs. These men think the state government can better meet our needs by taking our money that we have earned by hard work to meet our needs from us and then return a minuscule portion back to us along with rules and laws on how we can uge it. How absurd! •When I w^as a child, I depended on my parents to provide my riSeds. When I become an adidt, I no longer expected my parents to meet my needs, I accepted the responsibility to provide for myself. Government, don't try to do me any "favors" by "providing" my needs. I accept responsibility to provide for my family and myself. We the people create governing bodies not to treat us like children or, worse yet, to en­ slave us, but rather to protect our right to be free men and pursue our goals through our own hard work. I hope in the midst of this clamor for higher taxes, more spending and larger government that there are sensible servants of the people in the city, county and state governing bodies who know that government is for empowering the people and enslaving the government not enslaving the people and empowering the government. As an over-taxed citizen of this state, I ask our elected officials to continue to decrease the size of govej"nment and continue to reduce taxes. — CHARLES N. ROMM Jr. Bennington Letters to the Journal are welcome but, like everything else in the newspaper, subjeol to being edited. All letters must include a daytime , telephone hMlpber for confirmation. ROY LIVENGOOD For The Salina Journal ^ People might not be so crazy about him if they would read the whole story I n a few days I'll be 76 years old, meaning I've lived 24 years shy of a century That's a long time. The year I was born, Calvin Coolidge was president and 13 presidents have followed him. I don't remember Calvin but I do recall the election of 1932 when Hoover was defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Of the 14 presidents who have served in my lifetime, I would have to name the Ronald Reagan phenomenon the most baffling, not for what he did, though his presidential antics were indeed puzzling, but for what he has become to many Americans who call themselves conservatives and who have tried, rather frantically, to make him into something he wasn't — the equal of Abraham Lincoln. The Republicans have outdone even Parson Mason Weems and his George Washington cherry tree fable. This recent attempt to deify Reagan shows how easy it is to create a myth. During the past several years there's been poll after poll taken by people asking who was our greatest president. One of the last polls told us that Reagan was Numero Uno. He received more votes than Lincoln, FDR, Truman, and Eisenhower The polls have now reached the point of total absurdity That point was reached when, during a national poll about presidents, the Republicans sent out e-mail letters to thousands asking that they list Reagan's name who, of course, won out. Some have recanted and said that, well, he might not be the greatest but he was the greatest since World War II. Those Americans who did not live through the Great Depression cannot fathom how terribly difficult those years were and how popular FDR was simply because he gave the people hope. Without a doubt, the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan saved Europe. The Berlin Airlift most certainly saved that city from the communists. One can imagine what Harry Truman would have said about the White House shenanigans of Bill Clinton. Truman had character and he took responsibility for his actions. So did Dwight Eisenhower. Before the D-Day landings, Ike wrote a note in longhand: "Our landings in the Cherbourg- Harve area have failed to gain a foothold and 1 have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. If any blame or fault attaches to this attempt, T TORY NOTIONS it is mine alone." Eisenhower accepted total responsibility for the failure, had it happened. One can only use the word "noble" to' describe his actions. Ike also took responsibility for the U-2 spy plane incident over the Soviet Union. John Kennedy took full responsibility for the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Now back to Ronald Reagan, who not only didn't take responsibility for the Iran- Contra scandals, but seemed to be in a fog about the entire affair So his people threw up a shield to protect him and they did an excellent job. The problem with trying to assess the presidency of this man is, if one applies the same reason and logic to Reagan as to the rest of the presidents, one is bitterly attacked by his admirers as a liberal or an insane member of the left or another Reagan-hater The Republicans tell us that it was Reagan who stopped the Cold War and sealed the fate of Russia. I seem to remember a disastrous war in Afghanistan that bled Russia white and did much to write finish to the USSR. Reagan told Gorbachev to tear down that wall, and he did! Period. The wall did not come down overnight. There were nearly 30 years of patience and diplomacy before it feU. I must have missed something during the years of the Gipper. I recall those years as a time of despair for many Americans. ' Thousands of farmers went under, some committed suicide. Businesses failed. The national debt tripled. There was the Iran- Conra scandals that could easily have ended in the impeachment of the president. For most of his adult life Reagan was an actor, play-acting even during his time in the White House. His acting ability did much to make him a popular president, plus his sunny disposition. There are some who think his role in a wartime movie playing a sailor named Brass Bancroft was; responsible for his nutty idea about Star Wars, but I wouldn't go that far Some o^ the war stories he told as president were not only laughable but nonsensical and he seemed to believe every one of them. Reagan was always making ridiculous remarks. He said that after he came back from the war, he wanted only to make love to his wife and to rest up. He never came back because he never went. He spent the entire war in Hollywood and even starred in a movie called, "This is the Army"; When he had a script in his hand he was great, but at news conferences he stumbled all over himself. Two recent books on Reagan have tried to balance the scales. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frances Fitzgerald's "Way Ouf There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and' the End of the Cold Wan" The other is by historian Theodore Draper and titled, "A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs.'" The arms-for-hostages deal is a bizarre- tale of sheer incompetence with many- shady characters weaving in and out of the story Those who want to get a much clearer picture of the Gipper as president should read the histories. Reagan admirers will probably wince af some of the details, but both books are ful-' ly documented with chapter notes, so I would ask the critics to bring along their own documents if they want to argue facts. So I suggest we leave the presidency of Ronald Reagan to the historians. If they should decide 100 years from now that the" man is entitled to a place next to Lincoln's, monument, that's fine with me. • Roy Livengood, Salina, is a veteran of World War II and a member of the Salina Journal Board of Contributing Editors. Reagan worship very unconservative Isn't it liberals who think the goverment has to bombard people with messages? W ASHINGTON — "Surtout, Messieurs, point de zele," said Talleyrand, expressing the sensibility of conservatism. His wisdom — "Above all, gentlemen, no zeal" — is unintelligible to some profoundly unconserva­ tive conservatives who advocate madly multiplying honors for Ronald Reagan. How many ways are there to show misunderstanding of Reagan's spirit? Let us count the zealots' ways. Not content with seeing Reagan's name attached to Washington's National Airport and to Washington's second (to the Pentagon) largest building and to an aircraft carrier, some people want — seriously — some sort of Reagan honor in aU 3,141 American counties. But their immediate battle — America's greatest battles: Saratoga, Get- • tysburg, and the National Airport Metro Station — is to get Congress to compel administrators of the Washington area Metro to add Reagan's name to the sign at the airport station, which now reads: "National Airport." Those ardent to add Reagan's name to that sign say they are not scoring ideological points, they are practicing compassionate conservatism. They tell of confused travelers who, because Reagan's name is not on the sign, have not realized that the airport is that big structure adjacent to the above-ground Metro station. Please. Travelers too oblivious to know they are at an airport when large, clear GEORGE F. WILL Tiie Washington Post signs say they are? They should be given those little plastic pilot wings that are issued to unaccompanied children, and taken into protective custody The conservatives want to get Congress to order Metro officials to spend several hundred thousand dollars to add Reagan's name to the station signs and all references to the station on maps. But usually it is liberals who, explaining the need for everyone to be supervised by liberals, assert or imply that the average American is dimwitted. Now come conservatives, asserting the need to help Americans who do not know when they are at a clearly marked airport. Besides, Reagan had a memorable thing or two to say about bossy federal institutions meddling in local affairs. Advocates of Reagan idolatry want to worsen the increasing clutter on Washington's Mall by putting a Reagan memorial there. One of the world's greatest public places is becoming a manifestation of the entitlement mentality, contested ground for groups claiming they are entitled to have their achievements (e.g.. World War II veterans) or beliefs (Reaganites) ratified in stone on the Mall. Fortunately, in 1986, Reagan signed a law stipulating that no individual will be honored on the Mall until 25 years after his or her death. Political freedom implies freedom from political propaganda — from being incessantly bombarded by government-imposed symbols and messages intended to shape public consciousness in conformity with a contemporary agenda. Such bombardment is unquestionably the aim of some Rea- ganite monument-mongers. They have the mentality that led to the lunatic multiplication of Lenin portraits, busts and statues throughout the Evil Empire. Very dif ferent impulses, disconnected from immediate agendas, led to the building of the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial, •OONESBURY which were begun in 1848,1915 and 1938 ref spectively, long after the men honored had receded from immediate partisan relevance. Not content with turning the Mall into a battlefield for endless contention between' ideological factions, they want to do the same to the currency They advocate putting Reagan in place of Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill. But Hamilton may already be the Founder least suffi-' ciently honored with public memorials. More than any other Founder, he imagined America's future as an industrious, entrepreneurial nation of vigor, strength, prosperity, growth and social mobility — that is, the America Reagan celebrated. Reagan's misguided worshipers are- guilty of "value subtraction." Economists used that concept to denote one of the miracles of Soviet communism: that system' could take leather, cloth, rubber and thread and produce shoes worth less than the materials of which the shoes were made. Reagan's idolaters are achieving something similar by their mishandling of : the elements of his significance, not least of all his modesty suited to the leader of a republic. What would Reagan in his prime have, made of the incontinent lust of a Washing^ ton-based coterie to celebrate him? That; may be surmised from one of his favorite maxims: There are no limits to what can bfr accomplished if you do not care who geti the credit. In this, Reagan was Roman — or at least like one Roman. Although Cato had served the Roman Republic with distinction, no statue hatt been erected to him, and someone asked; him why. His serene answer was that it was' better to have that question asked than the! question. Why have they erected a statue; to Cato? No one asks such a question about; Reagan, which in fact is a kind of monu-' ment to him. ', By G.B.TRUDEAU- 1 \7HArAS7F10Ne eoamnyjusn- BUT 7H/5 y&^. yOU'/?£ SAY/NG 7»ATA SUXU TAxouw .mfCHiei

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