A4 SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2O, 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 :"The candidates' brain waves have been as flat as a Kansas plain or a Whitewater bank account." Hendrik Hertzberg in the Oct. 21/29 i edition of The New Yorker T BY GEORGE By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Increase the peace THE ISSUE Reducing violent crime THE ARGUMENT People, not leaders, get the credit L ouis Farrakhan wants the credit for new figures that show a decline in the nation's violent crime rate. And it is hard to make a case that he doesn't deserve at least some of it. Or, at least, that our elected officials should be forced to share the credit with others. Last year, as the leader of the controversial Million Man March, Farrakhan led hundreds of thousands of black men in a pledge to renounce violence. Last week, as part of his Day of Atonement, Farrakhan claimed credit for the fact that new FBI figures show overall violent crime down 3 percent. It is hard to accept that any race-baiting, Jew-hating pal of Mohamar Khadafy is responsible for anything good. But why should a man who demands his followers promise to "never raise my hand" to attack any human being get less credit for a drop in violent crime than, say, Bob Dole, who likes to go sightseeing in gas chambers, or Bill Clinton, who promises 100,000 more cops on the beat? Crime is a problem that will be solved, if it is to be solved, from the ground up. No amount of prisons, executions, police officers or laws will stop us from living violently if that is the way we want to live. Leaders are important. President Clinton has shown promise in this area, making genuine remarks about living together in peace. But Clinton's own personal scandals, along with Republican efforts to smear anything the president supports, have limited his ability to make a difference in this area. No, if we are going to live in peace, without fear of racial or random violence, it will have to be because we, the people, want to. Students from Salina South and Central high schools have formed a group devoted to "Increase the Peace" among their potentially violent peers. School counselors and police officers are lending a hand to the concerned students, but real peace among young people, among any people, has to come from the heart. If we still have one. Police need our help GEORGE B. PYLE The Salina Journal Police should not be too proud to take us into their confidence P olice work is not a job for amateurs. It takes well-trained professionals who understand modern analytical, computer and communications technology. Still, when the Salina Police Department caught its first break in a 10-month-old bank robbery, it did not come through computerized crime records or digital fingerprint files. An officer found a, clue by looking at good old paper and ink — a photo in a newspaper. : Seems an investigator from Salina was visiting •# Cleveland, Ohio, trying to pick up the trail of a person who might know something about a triple murder. In a spare moment, the officer picked up the local newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and noticed a photograph of a suspect in a Cleveland- area bank robbery. That photograph tickled something in the officer's own memory. A surveillance camera photo of the man who robbed a Salina bank l^st December bore a striking resemblance to the Ohio robbery suspect. :| Case solved? Hardly. «The man who robbed the Salina bank is probably the same person \tfho robbed at least one suburban Cleveland bank in the last few igionths. But he is still on the Ipose, moving on down the road, With plans to visit to another bank when he runs low on cash. "' Still, every little piece in the guzzle can only help. ;, So why did Salina police wait rijore than a month to release a photo of the man their officer $ent to look for in Ohio? .They did so only after they found the man's truck in Lincoln, Neb., and found out that he had applied for public assistance in Qhio. That is, police asked Sal- ipans to help look for this man once they were sure he wasn't here any more. Didn't they think that the people who would have seen that picture in the newspaper would have their own memories jogged, just as the Salina investigator did, and maybe give officers the lead they needed to find their man? For weeks, officers said they didn't have enough evidence to charge their quarry with murder. They just wanted to talk to him. But they had enough evidence to get a search warrant to go through the man's truck, discovered abandoned in Nebraska in August. And by Thursday they were swearing out a murder warrant against him. Even if the man they are looking for never killed a fly, police are eager enough to find him that they have traveled to two states, that we know of, on his trail. Now that trail is" cold. It may never warm up again. ! Because of that, it is possible that neither the police, nor the families of the victims, nor the family of the suspect, nor the community of Salina, will ever know what happened to the much-loved Salina woman, her daughter and her great-grandson. Explanations from police that they did not want too much publicity in this case, that they did not want to poison the jury pool and possibly get a trial moved to another town, may be honestly felt. But they are wrong. Defendants in splashy criminal cases always ask for their trials to be moved. In Salina, it almost never happens. And, even if it would happen, wouldn't a trial in Topeka or Parsons be better than no trial at all? It is not that the police should be criticized for not finding this man on their own. No police force is large enough, talented enough and, more to the point, lucky enough to solve all its cases without help from the general public, informed by the press. But an apparent reluctance to admit that they, like every other law enforcement agency in the world, sometimes need.to take the public into their confidence may have cost our police, and us, the only chance we had to crack this important, painful case. T CAN SHE SAY THAT? Twin scandals show the rot of politics Neither Democrats nor Republicans can break free of addiction to big money W oe betide those who use our dandy new twin-set scandals for partisan political purposes. Thou shalt not use them to dumpeth upon President Clinton, and neither shalt thou speaketh & evil of BobDole (although you could wish a plague on both their infested houses). If thou doth transgress,. the vengeful Lord of Clean Politics will never forgive you. Now is the time, friends, foes and utterly indifferent citizens — this is the chance to clean up our political system. If ever the Great Campaign Manager in the Sky were trying to draw our attention to the root of the rot in American politics, it is right this very * minute. Every newspaper in the country twinned the stories Tuesday: An Indonesian couple laid $425,000 on the Democratic Party, which may not be illegal, but it sure as sin is unseemly. Meanwhile, BobDole (R-Archer-Daniels-Midland) was having his nose rubbed in the fact that ADM execs have donated more than $200,000 to his campaigns over the years, this well-known fact being unusually newsworthy in that ADM has just admitted to two price-fixing scams and has been fined $100 million. What might have been the Indonesians' motive? Simple gratitude for a Clinton get-well card, says an executive quoted by The Wall Street Journal, but another possibility is influence over this country's policy on the rebellion in East Timor. (The situation in East Tim- T SUNDAY FUNNIES MOLLY IVINS Fort Worth Star-Telegram or is a horrifying, long-running human-rights violation; two heroes of that agony have just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.) The couple have ties to the Lippo Group, which is into banking, insurance and real estate, so the possibilities for financial favors are also legion. On the other hand, what ADM has gotten from BobDole over the years is shiningly clear. ADM is one of the chief beneficiaries of corporate welfare in this country. According to The Washington Post, "Dole has championed ADM's interests in Congress and the executive branch. He has acted many times to preserve tax breaks for, or block competitive products of, the corn-fed ethanol fuel industry that ADM controls. Dole has worked, too, to preserve the price subsidy for the American sugar industry, which helped ADM." The ethanol subsidy alone that ADM gets from the government was worth $375 million to the company in 1995. Do we really think the Justice Department under a Dole administration would have gone after ADM on the price- fixing charges? Do we really think that a Dole Justice Department would have slapped a $100 million fine on this company, whose motto, according to their ex-exec Mark Whitacre, is "The competitor is our friend and the customer is our enemy"? (Ain't free enterprise grand?) This is your wake-up call! The government is being bought out from underneath us through legal bribes called campaign contributions. Either we fix this sucker or we're dead. Look, the real scandal of politics is not what's illegal — it's what is legal. As a cynical friend of mine observes, white-collar criminals just keep legalizing their crimes. Anyone who gives one single faint flip about this country should never give another nickel to any candidate or political party; all contributions should go to Common Cause or any other campaign reform group to build pres- sure to fix this system. Or, if you're really partisan, you could split the donation between the party and Common Cause. I guarantee that it is in nobody's long-term interest to have this open corruption continue. The people who can afford to buy access and favors now aren't going to be any happier than anyone else when the whole system collapses. Of course, we can buy campaign finance reform. If we put one-fifth of the money into an advertising and public-relations campaign for public financing of political campaigns that was spent to defeat universal health-care coverage (a sum believed to be around $25 million),, we would get campaign finance reform passed the next time Congress meets. As to the cynics who say we'll never get the money out of politics, I say try public cam- < paign financing. The Supreme Court made!' public campaign financing infinitely more dif- j' ficult with its meatheaded 1988 decision that; rich people and special-interest money have a First Amendment right to undue influence in this society. In a recent edition of The New' York Review of Books, Ronald Dworkin makes the contrary case. In fact, it is the First Amendment right of most citizens to have a > say in their own government that is being ir-! reparably damaged. I believe it was Gore Vidal who first sug-; gested this simple formula to control cam- '' paign costs: "No candidate for public office' shall be permitted to buy either time or space" in any news medium. Compensatory time and space shall be provided by the media." For starters, I suggest that Clinton and Dole * agree now to appoint a commission, including', Bill Bradley, Warren Rudman and Fred; Wertheimer (former president of Common • Cause), to study how the European democracies handle this question and to make recommendations. As it says in the hymn, God is watching. Be aware of The Bald Eagle Menace Nobody is safe if Our National Bird is going to be dropping nasty things on us I t's time once again for our popular consumer health feature, "You Should Be More Nervous." Today we're going to address an alarming new trend, even scarier in some ways than the one we discussed several years ago concerning the danger of airplane toilets sucking out your intestines (if you had forgotten about that one, we apologize for bringing it up again, and we ask you to please put it out of your mind). We were made aware of this new menace when alert reader Edna Aschenbrenner sent us an item from an Enterprise, Ore., newspaper called — get ready for a great newspaper name — The Wallowa County * Chieftain. The Chieftain runs a roundup of news from the small town of Imnaha (suggested motto: "It's 'Ahanmi' Spelled Backward!"). On March 14, this roundup, written by Barbara Kriley, began with the following story, which I am not making up: "A bald eagle sabotaged the Imnaha power line for an hour and a half outage Wednesday with a placenta from the Hubbard Ranch calving operation. The eagle dropped the afterbirth across the power lines, effectively shorting out the power." This is a truly alarming story. We're talking about a bald eagle, the proud symbol of this great nation as well as Budweiser beer. We don't know about you, but we always trusted eagles; we assumed that when they were soaring majestically across the skies, they were protecting us — scanning the horizon, keeping an eye out for storm fronts, Russian missiles, DAVE BARRY The Miami Herald pornography, etc. But now we find out, thanks to the Chieftain, that they're not protecting us at all: They're up there dropping cow placentas. They've already demonstrated that they can take out the Imnaha power supply; it would be child's play for them to hit a human. Nobody is safe. Can you imagine what would happen to our democratic system of government if, just before Election Day, one of the leading presidential contenders, while speaking at an outdoor rally, were to be struck on the head by a cow afterbirth traveling at 120 miles per hour? Nothing, that's what would happen. First off, your presidential contenders do not ever stop speaking for any reason, including unconsciousness. Second, they're used to wearing ridiculous headgear to garner support from some headgear-wearing group or another. It would be only a matter of time before all the leading contenders were sporting cow placentas. But a direct hit could have a disastrous effect on ordinary taxpayers. That is why we are issuing the following urgent plea to the personnel at the Hubbard Ranch and-every other calving operation within the sound of our voice: Please do not leave unattended placentas lying around. This is especially important if you see eagles loitering nearby, trying to look bored, smoking cigarettes, acting as though they could not care less. Please dispose of your placentas in the manner prescribed by the U.S. Surgeon General; namely, mail them, in secure packaging, to "The Ricki Lake Show." Thank you. We wish we could tell you that the Imnaha attack was an isolated incident, but we cannot, not in light of a news item from the Detroit Free Press, written by Kate McKee and sent in by many alert readers, concerning a Michigan man who was struck in an extremely sensitive area — you guessed it; his rental car — by a five-pound sucker fish falling from the sky. I am also not making this up. The man, Bob Ringewold, was quoted as saying that the fish ' was dropped by a "young eagle." (The article ', doesn't say how he knew the eagle was young; maybe it was wearing a little baseball cap backward.) The fish dented the roof of the car,. although Ringewold was not charged for the; damage (this is why you car-renters should al-; ways take the Optional Sucker Fish Coverage), And here comes the bad news: This is not the ; scariest recent incident involving an airborne ' fish. We have here an Associated Press item, sent in by many alert readers, which begins: < "A Brazilian fisherman choked to death" near the remote Amazon city of Belem after a fish unexpectedly jumped into his mouth." The item — we are still not making any of these items up — states that "the six-inch-long fish suddenly leapt out of the river" while the fisherman "was in the middle of a long yawn." Of course, this could be simply a case of a fish — possibly a young fish, inexperienced or , on drugs — not paying attention to where it was going and jumping into somebody's, mouth. On the other hand, it could be something much more ominous. It could be that fish ', in general, after thousands of years of being ' hounded by fishermen and dropped on rental cars, are finally deciding to fight back in the only way they know how. ; ', If so, there is trouble ahead. You.know those ; Saturday-morning professional-bass-fishing • programs on TV? We should start monitoring ' those programs closely, because the fish qn; those programs are probably sick and tired of; always playing the role of victims. ''.' : It is only a matter of time before there is ;a 1 situation where a couple of televised angling! professionals are out on a seemingly peaceful; lake, casting their lures, and they happen to yawn, and suddenly the water erupts in fury p '. dozens of vengeful bass launch themselves like; missiles and deliberately lodge themselves 1 deep into every available angler orifice. we would not want to miss that.
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