The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 21, 1996 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

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Monday, October 21, 1996
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A4 MONDAY, OCTOBER 21, 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 "I'm not going to be convinced until it comes up and shakes my hand." Matt Dennis on what it would take to make him believe in Bigfoot By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Senator gets smoked THE ISSUE Vidricksen and the tobacco lobby THE ARGUMENT Senator was too easily hoodwinked C harges that Sen. Ben Vidricksen wants teen-agers to buy cigarettes are off the mark. The truth, sadly, is worse than that. Last week Allan White, challenging Vidricksen for his 24th District Senate seat, accused the Republican incumbent of backing legislation that would make it easier for minors to buy cigarettes. Despite all those campaign contributions, it is a stretch to say Vidricksen is a special friend of the tobacco industry. He has been a key sponsor of legislation to ban smoking in, among other places, Kansas schools and the Statehouse. It is more accurate to say that Vidricksen was suckered into offering a bad amendment to a good bill — a position he recanted when the details were explained to him by people who are less trusting of Topeka lobbyists. The facts are these: Last winter, the Legislature was considering a bill that would make it a crime for people under 18 to buy cigarettes or for anyone to sell cigarettes to a minor. Vidricksen offered an amendment that would make the state law the only law on the subject in Kansas. No city or county would be able impose its own restrictions or penalties. The amendment passed. But the next day, Vidricksen and his fellow senators reversed themselves and removed the so-called pre-emption amendment. The ban on under-age sales, without the preemption clause, later became law. Senator Ben said he had first been told that the amendment would only affect new local laws. But, after public health agencies protested that it would also sweep aside restrictions already on the books in Wichita and other cities, he changed his mind. Who misinformed Vidricksen as to the meaning of his own amendment? At the time, the Kansas City Star quoted Vidricksen as saying he'd been put up to the action by "four or five tobacco lobbyists." More recently, he has claimed it was convenience store chains that asked for the pre-emption clause because they want to be able to learn one set of rules for the entire state. Maybe. The truth is that pre-emption clauses have been a prime goal of the national tobacco lobby for years. Anyone in public office should know that. Vidricksen says he did not. The issue here is not tobacco. The issue is that it was far too easy for an industry that clearly cares not for the lives of Kansans to totally hoodwink a respected member of the Kansas Senate. Voters will have to consider if that is the kind of representation they want. LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL P.O. BOX 740, SALINA, KANSAS 67402 America should be above abortion In "The dance of death," Oct. 7, the Journal editorial page editor wrote: "Executions are barbaric, whether they are done in a dark prison chamber at midnight or on the gallows in the town square at high noon. The shame of this entire argument is that politicians are trying to have it both ways." He says it is "positively surreal," and "Someday, America will join the rest of the civilized world in realizing the death penalty is beneath us. But as long as we hide the reality of what we are doing from our own eyes, that realization will be far too slow in coming." This is about the death penalty for a person given a complete, fair trial in a court of law, then convicted of a particularly heinous crime. Doesn't it matter that more than 4,000 unquestionably innocent babies are put to death in the darkness of their mother's womb every day in the USA? Abortion means no judge, no jury, no trial, no appeal and no stay of execution. That's having it both ways. American justice? We ought to lead the rest of the civilized/not- civilized world now in confessing that abortion is totally beneath us. We shouldn't have to make it illegal, it should be unthinkable! Two front-page headings (Sept. 27 Salina Journal) bear out a double standard well. First, "Klaas" killer to die" (Richard Davis, sentenced for the murder of 12-year- old Polly Klaas), second, "Senate upholds abortion veto" (President Clinton's veto of bill to ban partial-birth abortions). One proven guilty without a reasonable doubt, countless others obviously innocent without a shadow of a doubt. Each condemned to the same fate. Death. Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas wrote Sept. 26, "If Congress will not say no to a grisly procedure (partial birth abortion) that results in the death of a fully formed and viable baby, what will it say no to?" I'd add, what kind of president would veto such a ban in the first place, and sadly, how could Nancy Kassebaum vote to sustain his veto of this procedure — condemned by former Surgeon General C. Everet Koop and hundreds of leading doctors and described by a great many as virtual infanticide? — NORBERT E. HERMES Salina Politicians tell the truth, sort of I take exception to George Pyle's opening remark in Oct. 7 "The dance of death" opinion. I believe that most politicians tell the truth most of the time. That it is the whole truth or all of the truth is debatable. Just using George's column that day, both pro and con, can tell the truth selectively, use accurate quotes, selectively, and arrive at two very different conclusions, with the truth. Words are very powerful things, we must be very careful how we write them and how we read them if we are to tell or hear the whole truth. Always remember that a "good politician" only tells the part that is advantageous to his or her position. As for the position for public executions, I don't find it that far fetched. If we are going to kill people in the name of justice, don't sanitize it. If it's the right thing to do, then it's right to do it publicly. — FRANK CLOUTIER Wakefield ESSAY Who is paying for all those TV ads? And what do they expect from Clinton in return for their generous donations? S AN FRANCISCO — Whose money is buying those anti-Dole TV spots saturating the airwaves, and what are the secret sponsors getting for their investment? Thanks to the reporting enterprise of The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal (whatever became of The Washington Post and "60 Minutes"?), we have learned that a good chunk of Clinton campaign money comes from "the Asian connection" — millions from Indonesia's Riady family, from its $6 billion Lippo banking interests in California and Hong Kong, and the Asian money-raising prowess of its hired hand, John Huang. Huang, who involved President Clinton personally in prying an illegal $250,000 out of a $ South Korean company, also helped steer $425,000 to buy those TV spots through a gardener and his wife. That resident alien couple, related to a Lippo bank partner, went home to Indonesia and then sent over $295,000 of their contribution. That's an election crime no matter what Al Gore says. But set that aside for future prosecutors. Focus on simple sleaze: It's wrong for Bill Clinton to solicit money from a powerful family in cahoots with a foreign dictator to affect the T LIBERTIES New York gives WILLIAM SAFIRE Tlie New York Times American election. Focus, too, on obstructing justice in the Whitewater scandal: between the time the Clinton confidant Webster Hubbell was forced to leave the Justice Department and went to jail, it was a Lippo retainer who gave him the comfort to remain hushed. What has the Riady family been getting for its campaign money investment? Plenty; Clinton's Asian connection helped turn around U.S. policy on human rights. Fact: In 1992 President George Bush launched a formal review of whether Indonesia, with its military thugs terrorizing labor organizers, was failing to live up to "international labor standards" and should be denied duty-free access to U.S. markets. Fact: Clinton's former campaign manager, Mickey Kantor, when he became U.S. trade representative, resolutely kept that review from being terminated throughout 1993. But at the same time, James Riady, Webster Hubbell and a Little Rock lawyer, Mark Grobmyer, worked over President Clinton to forget about the support Candidate Clinton had promised the people of East Timor, targets of bloody repression. Fact: On Feb. 16, 1994, Kantor suddenly changed — he rejects the word "reversed" — policy by declaring the Indonesia review ended. That $40-million-a-year gift to Indonesian exporters and bankers reduced our human rights leverage in East Timor. It presaged Clinton's flip-flop three months later that removed all trade pressure on China to encourage democracy. Grant that other policy arguments by hungry U.S. executives and eager advocates of engagement carried weight. But heavy money plus top-level persuasion provides basis to believe that U.S. foreign policy was improperly influenced by the back-channel dealings of Clinton's "Asian connection." Now to Huang, fondly called "aggressive" by Clinton. For two years, this richly severanced Lippo operative held the sensitive post of deputy assistant secretary of commerce for international economic affairs. That job requires a Top Secret clearance, sometimes one for Special Compartmented Intelligence. Thus, Huang was privy to U.S. trade bargaining positions, internal reviews of policies • toward Indonesian and Chinese interests, even electronic and satellite intelligence from. the National Security Agency. Surely the FBI conducted a full field investigation of Huang before he was granted his top- security clearance. Oversighters should ask: Did its summary reveal to Craig Livingstone the background to Lippo's agreement with the FDIC to cease and desist from violating laws about money laundering? Clinton's Asian connection carries no "gate" in its slug. The scandal's coverage cannot be dismissed as being driven by a partisan Congress or a procrastinating prosecutor or an opposition candidate. For a change, the story is being ferreted out by reporters and editorialists. Some are uncomfortable about the sleaze they are uncovering, but want to be on firm ground when asked later: "Where were you when American foreign economic policy was put up for sale?" City that usually loves a political brawl is ignoring presidential race N ew Yorkers have been debating all kinds of things this week. Should Madonna breast-feed her baby? Did Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy score a good pre-nuptial deal? Will Jerry Hall get the satisfaction of a lucrative post-nup from Mick Jagger? Should Kenny Rogers be banished as a starter for the Series? But one thing not furiously debated is the presidential race. This most political of cities does not seem to care about politics. It is eerily quiet in the town that has given America some of its finest electoral implosions and resurrections. Tellingly, The Daily News did not even bother to put a re MAUREEN DOWD The New York Times * porter on Bob Dole's campaign plane until Wednesday. Rupert Murdoch's New York Post is interested in the campaign, even if its attempts to prop up Bob Dole are a bit obvious: "The A to Z of the Clinton scandals," Wednesday's front page blared. "From 'Arkansas' to 'Zippers': A Post special report." "It's a downer," says Guy Molinari, the New York City campaign chairman for Dole-Kemp. "You wait four years for the Big Quinella to occur, and then when it conies, you pretty much know in advance that you're not spending a great deal of money in your state, and it does become a little depressing." Former Mayor Ed Koch, who considered a national campaign on his home turf a good opportunity to stir up trouble, misses the donnybrooks. "It's sad in a way. We have to look over at New Jersey to see any punching. Those people are more savage than we are in New York." Even the politicians don't seem engaged in politics. "If your idea how to spend your time is rooting for the Yankees, you won't make a mistake as against watching the debate," said Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, shortly before Wednesday night's colloquy in San Diego. So why the big shrug from a towri ordinarily immune to ennui? "The citizens of New York are singularly unmoved by politicians at this point," Moynihan said, "Nobody likes us." Indeed, Sen. Alfonse D'Amato just received the dubious distinction of being rated last out of 100 senators for job performance in a Mason- Dixon poll of each state's constituents. Except for showing up on commercials for Gov. George Pataki's bond issue, D'Amato has been lying doggo. It is another case of Bob Dole getting the worst of all worlds. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani hasn't lifted a finger for him, largely because Dole's best friends in New York are D'Amato and Pataki. But the senator and the governor seem to be spending more time on the bond issue than the presidential campaign. "D'Amato and Pataki cast their eyes heavenward and decided a Republican future was not in the stars, and they were gone," Koch says. Dole-Kemp headquarters on Lexington Avenue is dead. One campaign official anony- DOONESBURY The Big Shrug mously offered a Berraesque assessment: "There's a lot of activity in New York,' despite what you're not seeing." The most frenetic activity I saw was a note posted in the waiting room above a stack of copies of The New York Observer's endorsement of Dole: "Please take this article, copy and distribute to as many people as possible and tell them to do the same. Bob Dole himself has asked that we get this article in as many hands as possible." It sounds more like a chain letter than state-of-the-art campaigning. Clinton-Gore headquarters on Park Avenue had the buzz. "Here are our phone banks for the Irish, lesbians, gays, Latinos, Asians and African-Americans," said Bill De Blasio, the state campaign director. Bill Clinton was always expected to win New York. But it seemed unimaginable in '94, when Al D'Amato was a puffed-up kingmaker, that Democrats would do this well. "With the president 20 points up, it allows us an opening to contest congressional races in what would normally be Republican strongholds — Syracuse, the mid-Hudson Valley, Nassau County and even D'Amato's home base of Hempstead," said De Blasio. "After Gingrich went out the back door of that plane and shut down the government, New York became the land of opportunity." Ed Koch predicts that New Yorkers will fall in love with politics again when they get a real contest, probably the mayor's race in 13 months. "Maybe it's not so terrible every once in a while," he mused, "just to have a little lull to recoup our strength." By G.B. TRUDEAU , 7HE DOCJVRS THINK THeYGOTITAU-, I'M NOWINMYTHIRP MONTH OF CH^MO. ANY OTHGR MARiJUANA FORTH? NAUSEA,

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