The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 3, 2001 · Page 7
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 7

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Thursday, May 3, 2001
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THE SALINA JOURNAL THURSDAY, MAY 3, 2001 A7 Tom Bell Editor & Publisher Opinions expressed on this page are those of the _ identified i writers. ; To join the I conversation, ' write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (785) 827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters® saljournaLcom \ Quote of i; the day "It's just grinding bumping, imitating some sexual behavior. It's not as bad as they make it sound." Emily James sophomore at Norristown (Pa.) Area High School, defending the 'dirty dancing' fad among teen-agers that has led some high schools to impose new rules or cancel dances altogether Ut IK knew OPINION From one who has been there INEBSUE Death penalty THEARGUMBUT An unusual position by a victim's father L et's listen to a typical discussion between folks on J opposite sides of the death penalty issue: Pro-life: "I'm against the death penalty because such decisions should remain in the hands of the Almighty Killing should not be answered with more killing." Pro-death: "Sure, that's the way you feel now. But what if someone brutally murders one of your children? How will you feel then?" That's a good question, one that can be answered only by those unfortunate souls who have actually lost a loved one to murder. Next week we will get that chance, when Bud Welch comes to Salina. Welch's daughter, Julie, was killed six years ago when Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City She was one of 168 people kUled in the worst case of domestic terrorism in U.S. history Welch said initially he was filled with vengeance and rage and wanted McVeigh to die for his crimes. But after a time he said he realized those emotions are the same ones that drove McVeigh to detonate the bomb in Oklahoma City And they are same motivations that fuel the public's call for execution. Welch wants to end that cycle. He says killing McVeigh only adds another body to the tally And that does not benefit the healing process. This is a powerful message from a respected source. Each of us will benefit from hearing Welch's story, no matter what side of the issue we are on. Welch will speak at 7 p.m. May 10 in the all-purpose room of St. Mary's Grade School, 230 E. Cloud. That is less than one week before McVeigh is executed in Terre Haute, Ind. It is a good time to consider the issue of capital punishment, and whether we should continuing this cycle of vengeance and rage. — Tom Bell Editor & Publisher Letters to the Journal are welcome but, like everything else in the newspaper, are subject to being edited for space,, clarity and taste. All letters must include a daytime telephone number for confirmation. No anonymous letters will be published. E-mail (sjletters@saljournai.com) are encouraged, but please do not send attachments. • EDITORIAL NOTEBOOK It's always your friends r I ^here's an old saying in ; I Washington: It's never j ^ your enemies; it's always your friends. i tor the moment, President l^iish couldn't be sitting any better. Congress has signed off on a $1.35 trillion tax cut, and even though it's not the $1.6 trillion he had campaigned on, the cut is incontestably a victory for Bush, half again as much as the cut the Republican Congress miserably failed on two summers ago. He now has agreement on the budget, not the 4 percent limit on spending increases but 5.2 percent, close enough and well below last gear 's extravagant 12 percent increase. 1 However, his own defense secretary and longtime adviser, Donald Rumsfeld, is about to back him into a tough corner. Rumsfeld is drawing up plans for an additional $25 billion a year increase in defense spending over the next seven years, including a 42 percent boost in purchases of big-ticket weapons items whose costs tend to balloon down the road. Bush's budget aides had already rejected as too large a Pentagon request for a $10 billion increase for this year, largely because most of it was for down payments on expensive weapons systems. And tjhey had planned to hold growth in the defense budget to $4.5 billion a year over the next decade. T CAN SHE SAY THAT? Bovine press rates Bush's 100 days Just because it's more tmmmr— ^IIIIIIMI Just because it's more interesting than we thought doesn't mean it doesn't stink A USTIN — What a great idea: Let's write about George W.'s first 101 days in office. Are we media people creative and original, or what? This isn't blackbird journalism because blackbirds are bright-eyed and alert. Nor can we call it pack journalism; wolves are predators, not sycophants. There's something bovine about it: It's herd journalism. The Supreme Court appointed President Billy Bob Forehead, and everyone in Washington stood around for 100 days peering at him and then announced, "Gosh, there are some really interesting colors in that." I am forced to admit, it does have some interesting colors, but is anyone going to mention that it stinks? "But the polls show His Bushness has an approval rating of 57 percent." "Does that mean he doesn't stink?" "No one else is saying what you're saying. Don't you think you're a little out of step?" Out of step! Oh no! Anything but that. Not out of step, not the worst of all Washington journalism sins! Naturally, I'm terrified not to agree with everyone else, but the only reason I'm giving El Chico even a C-minus is because I figure he'll get worse, and we'll need the lower grades. Not being terribly interested in the efficacy of the Bush public relations operation, or even in his marital fidelity I'm grading him on what he's actually done to us. Do let me know if any of this makes you healthier or more secure, or improves the environment or your personal finances: • His first act was to cut off funding for international family planning groups that so much as mention abortion, presumably because he thinks the Third World needs more unwanted children. • Bush repealed Clinton's "last minute" (10 years in the making, with countless studies) rules on ergonomics, which means "preventing workplace injuries of the kind that cause constant pain and eventually cripple you." For millions of Americans afflicted and yet-to-be afflicted by these easily preventable injuries — most to the neck, back and wrist from repeated stress — Bush's presidency literally means pain. • He named as chief law enforcement officer of the United States John Ashcroft, a man who by his own record does not respect civil rights, abortion rights or human rights, ^nd who built his career opposing school desegregation. • He also repealed Clinton's "last T TORY NOTIONS According to published accounts, in his defense review, Rumsfeld, instead of choosing among the F-22, the Joint Strike Fighter and the new-generation F-18, opted for all three, plus a modernized B-2 fleet. It's worth noting that all previous Pentagon cost estimates for these aircraft have been too low, and even Rumsfeld's generous estimates will almost certainly prove likewise. And then there is a costly variable: the unbudgeted and unknown amount for Bush's missile defense system. Rumsfeld will reportedly propose an extra $8 billion over the next seven years to get that started. Clearly, Bush's defense advisers and his economic advisers are on a collision course, and, one of the drawbacks of a strong Cabinet is that Rumsfeld is a power in his own right and is not going to be cowed into other than token scale-backs. Given a healthy economy and a lot of luck. Bush might be able to accommodate both his tax cut and the extra defense spending but a huge peacetime increase in the military would break the dam on domestic spending. While a bemused Congress looks on, Bush's bloodiest and nastiest fight might be in his own Cabinet room. As they say, it's your friends who get you. — Dale McFeatters Scripps Howard News Service THE P^oBLfM HfjRE IS A/EED TO ICPPLV ^\oRe FOOD FOK you minute" (eight years in the making) lowering of the 1942 standard for arsenic in drinking water by 80 percent. In 1999, the National Academy of Sciences recommended the reduction, since the current standard "easily" carries a one-in-100 risk of causing cancer Bush moved at the request of the mining and wood-finishing industries. However, it turned out to be unpopular with moms and others, so the administration has asked the Academy of Sciences for an "expedited re- View" of its own work, thus demonstrating — according to Forehead's spinners and our more credulous media — that he is en- viro-friendly after aU. Bush pays no attention to scientists on the subject of global warming, the most serious threat to our national security He broke a big, fat campaign promise to cut C02 emissions and then gratuitously went out of his way to pronounce the Kyoto Treaty dead. This horrified our European allies and many others. It was done at the request of the energy industry • He repealed another "last minute" (years of work) Clinton rule against public subsidy of logging roads in the remaining unspoiled national forests. This is the system under which taxpayers have to help pay for the destruction of their own national forests. Done at the request of the timber industry • He's still pushing for the $1.6 trillion tax cut he campaigned for because the economy was so hot. Now, he says it's needed because the economy is so bad. The richest 1 percent of the people get 45 percent of the benefits of this cut, according to the respected Citizens for Tax Justice. That's ridiculous. A group of billionaires' even came out against repealing the estate.' tax. How pathetic can you get? Bush would; get a $39,000 tax cut under his own plan,; and Dick Cheney would get $2.3 million, according to CBS News. He also did his best to kill the McCain- Feingold reform bill, which outlaws "soft money" and unreported, unlimited campaign donations, also known as bribes. • Bush has cut funding for programs to. help abused and neglected kids, and funding for child care for low-income parents (making it even harder for mothers to get off welfare). He cut 100 percent of the mon-' ey for Reading Is FUNdamental, the effective program championed by both his wife' and his mother. Leave no child behind. • To prove he was "engaged" during the 11-day standoff with China over the spy plane, his own staff reports His Bushness personally inquired, several times, whether the captured American crew had- Bibles. • He needlessly and uselessly angered South Korea through ignorance of North' Korea. He blew the chance to negotiate a' missile build-down and now says the United States must build a National Missile De-' fense shield at an underestimated cost of $60 billion because of North Korea. • He needlessly and uselessly enraged the Chinese through ignorance of Taiwan policy. His staff later brazenly claimed this- misstep was deliberate. • On the plus side, after his first meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain, Bush said, "We both use Colgate toothpaste." The Brits spent weeks trying- to decipher the meaning of that remark. Freed from the fear of dying young Age can confer calm and a preference for a low emotional metabolism W ASHINGTON — When Harry Wright, star of the Cincinnati Red Stockings and then the Boston Red Stockings, pioneers of professional baseball, died in 1895, a floral arrangement at his funeral spelled out "Safe at Home." That * delightful story would be more so, but for Wright's age. He was 60. Looking on the bright side, as conservatives are, for sound philosophic reasons, disinclined to do, I take comfort, of sorts, from the fact that by turning 601 am freed from the fear of dying young. Unless 60 no longer counts as old. If so, that is, like blessings generally, a mixed one, because * it extends one's eligibility for premature death. Life is like that, always supplying thorns with the roses. Mrs. Alexander Hamilton, final survivor of the Founders' circle, died in Washington in 1854 in her 97th year. She had lived the entire life of the Republic. So had the slave interviewed in Virginia during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, who recalled hearing cannonading at the Battle of Yorktown 81 years earlier Someone who today is 60 has lived 26.6 percent of the nation's life. Being born May 4, 1941,1 arrived in a year that ended badly, but I arrived 11 days befoi-e the beginning of Joe DiMaggio's 56- game hitting streak. Life supplies roses GEORGE F. WILL TlieWasliiiiglon Post amid the thorns. Perhaps it is just the result of immersion in journalism, which is the opposite of literature, which is writing that deserves to be read twice. Perhaps it is a consequence of living in an obsessively political city where last week's world-shaking events are forgotten, and epochal figures are forever rising without a trace. For whatever reason, being 60 in Washington sometimes feels like having had one year's experience 60 times. However, age can confer a certain calm about the passing circus, a preference for understatement, and for people with low emotional metabolisms. When a maid serving Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington) drowned herself because of her unrequited love for a gardener, Wellesley expressed the hope that the remainder of the maids "will put up with the misfortunes of this world, & not destroy themselves." That's the spirit. So is this. Mussolini, trying to impress a visitor, pointed to a buzzer on his desk and boasted, "All I have to do is press it and my army navy and air force go on instant alert." The visitor, Anthony Eden, supposedly murmured, "Awfully inconvenient if you just want a sandwich." Three determinative events in this 60- year-old's life were clustered in a few years about a third of the way here, between 1960 and 1964. Although the son of a professor of philosophy, until the summer before my junior year in college most of my reading was of the backs of baseball bubble gum cards. Then I read Albert Camus' novel "The Stranger." Since then, I have agreed with Logan Pearsall Smith: "People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading." Camus was catalytic because, back then. any undergraduate worth his weight in- espresso and Gauloises cigarettes thought French intellectuals had hung the moon.' The creed du jour was existentialism, the- belief that life is absurd, so philosophy should be, too. A practicing existentialist- marinated himself in foreign movies — make that films — ostensibly because they had the finest flavors of anomie, alienation and despair, but actually to savor, again* and again, the sight of Jean Seberg in bed- in "Breathless." In 1962 1 saw the Berlin \Vall, sufficient' instruction in the stakes of politics. In' 1964, having cast my first presidential vote,' for Barry Goldwater, I heard election-night' commentators happily declare the future irrelevance of conservatism, and I and' many kindred spirits said, we'll just see- about that. On May 31, 1967, this letter, came to me at Princeton's graduate col-' lege: "Dear Mr Will: Just a line of thanks for. your letter of May 18. Please note that I: very much appreciate your good offer of help. My goal, however, is to solve the prob-' lems of California, and at the moment,, this looks like a lifetime job. Sincerely' Ronald Reagan, Governor." What turns out to be a lifetime job — very steady work-is conservatism's task of- keeping government where it belongs, which is on a short constitutional leash," and politics in its place, which is at the. margins of life. It has taken me 60 years to' identify the three keys to a happy life — a' flourishing family, hearty friends and a. strong bullpen. Actually, in my case, there'. is a fourth: the hope for Cubs baseball in late October. I shall be 67 on the centennial of the Cubs' last World Series victory. Something to live for DOONESBURY FLASHBACKS By G.B. TRUDEAU filmonfc! I uiARiN -m "Helen. • Homi&se S/3 Helen, Jefcfe meet in Vegasand g/Smarried. -Elmonfr. J MRU/ HBLEN! ICANTf (MR .mi9A MIUJONTI /m. tUHYON MARRIBP \„.^ \ NOT? >^ >^ Helen: Bad news. IVe been livirw a]ifi. —Elmorrfc.

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