The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 2, 1997 · Page 12
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 12

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Friday, May 2, 1997
Page 12
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B2 FRIDAY, MAY 2, 1997 THE SALINA JOURNAL George B. Pyle editorial page editor Opinions expressed on thjs 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: SJ Letters® Quote of the day '"Ms is not the Alamo. This is not San Jacinto. And I'm not Davy Crockett." Mike Cox Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman outside the Republic of Texas 'embassy' near Fort Davis. By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Playing politics THE ma The politics of abortion THE ARGUMENT It's more about politics than abortion T he politics of abortion in Kansas clearly have a lot more to do with politics than they do with abortion. And that is sad, both for those who want to reduce the number of abortions and those who want the procedure to remain legal. Most Kansans have one foot planted firmly in each camp. Which is why lawmakers should follow our governor into some reasonable compromise, rather than hold out for their own version of theological perfection. Gov. Bill Graves says he would be glad to sign a bill banning the much- hated, and perhaps never-used, partial- birth abortion procedure in this state. And he would have done so by now, except some purists in the House amended the Senate bill to ban not just partial-birth abortions but nearly all third trimester abortions as well. That is too much for the Senate and for Graves — as it should be. So the bill is going nowhere, and partial-birth abortion will remain legal in Kansas. This is progress for the pro-life side? It is, if what anti-abortion activists want is not reasonable regulation but a total ban on abortion in Kansas. They know they cannot get such a law passed without first making wholesale changes in the Senate and, probably, in the governor's office. To do that, they first need to plant legislative booby traps they hope moderate Republicans — and the voters — will be booby enough to step into. By attaching to the partial-birth abortion bill the overbroad ban on third trimester abortions, with no exceptions for rape, incest or all but the most serious risks to the health of the mother, anti-abortion activists have destroyed the very bill they should want to pass. But they will then be able to accuse their political enemies of voting against a bill that would have banned partial- birth abortion. Their campaign ads won't mention how many of their targets would have supported the bill if it had really been only a ban on partial- birth abortions. When this is over, not one thing will have happened to discourage one woman from having an abortion. But the anti-abortion politicians will have a lot more to crow about come the next election. V THE OBSERVER Confidence, thy name was Roosevelt LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL Salina schools need more support I have not been a resident of Salina for very long, but long enough to notice the friction between the needs of the school children and the attitude of the voters. I work at a local bank in partnership with a local elementary school. We volunteer time to go to the school and help with reading, arithmetic and other needed skills. I am also serving on the school site council, so I hear about the projects, plans and frustrations that are expressed. I am a little confused as to why there are buckets in classrooms to catch water falling from the ceiling? Why are closets being renovated for offices and classrooms to accommodate the overcrowding? Why are the libraries full of books that are falling apart? Many of the teachers I've met say they haven't had a raise in more than four years. My question is, where is the money going? Are there "pet projects" that are being funded and are not efficiently run? Is Salina too top heavy in the administration area? Better yet, where is the money coming from? Have we become so dependent on state and federal assistance that we don't see the need to pitch in? It is high time for more community involvement. I am told that a great many of Salina's residents are retirement age. That's great! I am also told these residents live in neighborhoods throughout Salina. That too is great! How long has it been since you've walked through a school? Any school? I challenge you to tour a school near you. You'll be surprised, I'm sure. Believe me, even though I have children in the Salina school system, I did not realize what was there until 1 became a volunteer. You can also make wise choices when voting. The children should not have to suffer to «et an education. Salina is a wonderful place to raise children. Let's show them The Roosevelt Memorial should have a wheelchair but no Roosevelt S ! 1 RUSSELL BAKER The New York Times hould the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial include a sculpture of FDR sitting in his wheelchair? Of course not. There should be no statue of Roosevelt in any position. A fine bronze rendering of his old-fashioned wooden wheelchair standing alone is what is called for. Its symbolism would convey a powerful sense of FDR's determination not to be beaten by physical infirmity. Roosevelt himself was always about symbolism, never about the dully and cruelly precise look of things and people. Unfortunately, our ability to respond to symbols is weak nowadays. The technological splendors of film and television have plunked ua down in this terribly visual age in which every- 1? thing must be displayed in excruciating detail. As a result, we lose some of our creative power to take bits and pieces of non-visual evidence and make our own pictures of the world. In Roosevelt's time each person created his own FDR from a few .small but sharp impressions. There was first and foremost the voice. That big, confident voice became one of the distinctive sounds of his age, along with the sassy, sophisticated sound of the big swing bands and the crackling static of radio news reports from faraway Europe. There was the big laugh and there was the smile, the smile of the most confident man in town. (Confidence, thy name was Roosevelt!) They were seen in grainy newsreel film of FDR sitting at banquet tables and in open limousines. Then, in what George Bush called "campaign mode," there was the hat with the front of the brim pushed back. Image: a man sailing fearlessly into a fierce wind. The jaw in these pictures was always held high, and of course there was the cigarette pointing jauntily skyward from that cigarette holder clenched between his teeth. FDR was also part of the fun of going to the movies. When the newsreel had film on Roosevelt, you knew that there would be a ripple of hisses throughout the theater and that these would immediately be drowned in the roar of cheering and applause. Out of these few images, each person created his own Roosevelt. No artist's oil or sculpture could possibly capture all the many Roosevelts carried around inside Americans' skulls. What a letdown it is in London to see the Roosevelt sculpture standing in Grosvenor Square. He looks so false, partly because he is T CAN SHE SAY THAT? In 50 yean they'll be debating vitatW the Clinton memorial should include a depiction of a state trooper. In Roosevelt's time each person created his own FDR from a few small but sharp impressions. There was first and foremost the voice. That big, confident voice became one of the distinctive sounds of his age. standing there alone; everybody always knew he never stood without support. The real trouble, though, is that conventional sculpture makes him look so small, so lifeless, so uninteresting. Out of a few symbols, imagination could construct an awesome figure. The sculptor, trying to make a metal copy of the flesh-and-blood man, had reduced him to the ordinary. The effect was like the letdown one experienced on seeing Superman for the first time on early television. This was not the real Superman who performed his muscular heroics inside one's head; it was just an actor in a baggy, blue union suit. So our insistence on visual reality makes the world duller than it really is. It will make Roosevelt both duller and smaller if he is subjected to a lifelike rendering by an officially certified federal sculptor obliged to seat him in his wheelchair. The wheelchair, yes. It ought to be part of. the monument, and it ought to be an inspired piece of sculpture. What else? A jokey modern sculpture of an Atwater Kent radio, through which FDR's voice worked its magic. Ought to be gigantic. That hat with the upturned brim and the cigarette holder pointed skyward — a sculptor not too benumbed by Congress' idea of realism ought to be able to combine hat and cigarette into something delightful. :' Do not expect it to happen. Cigarettes are political poison just now, and politics rules on this turf. FDR will almost certainly be seated in his wheelchair because President Clinton and disabled persons, creatures of the visual age, demand it. Old-time photographers are now scolded for never snapping FDR in a wheelchair. Would it have cost him the presidency? Look what hap- . pened to Bob Dole when he fell through a flimsy railing while campaigning last year. . Being merciless these days, photographers took the picture. Some papers put it on page one. How badly did it hurt Dole's campaign? Well, it doesn't look as if he'll win four terms. Another group of Texas wackos It would be funny if these mush-brained dimwits weren't so heavily armed A P.O. Box 740, Salina, KS 674O2 how important they are by cleaning up the school facilities. — KAY SNYDER Salina Small towns don't need concealed guns I do not feel that many Kansans, especially those living in quiet, rural areas, would benefit from a law that allows the carrying of concealed handguns. Overall, people living in smaller communities generally feel safe and secure. People know and trust one another. These citizens don't worry about locking their car doors or letting their children play in the parks. They own guns for hunting, not necessarily for protection. Why make a law that many Kansans don't want or need? This law could have had disturbing and damaging effects on both rural and urban communities. First, it could cause fear and suspicion among citizens. People are already concerned because of the increasing number of weapons being used on the streets. We should be regulating guns, not allowing them to be concealed. This law could also increase crime rates along with the number of accidental shootings. More guns result in more deaths, whether they are premeditated or not. If this bill were to pass, 1 agree with Governor Graves that local governments should have the right to regulate the carrying of concealed handguns. For people in urban areas who feel they need the kind of protection they think a concealed handgun may provide, they should have the opportunity to purchase and carry one (provided they meet the specified requirements.) However, in communities where crime rates are low, people have no use for carrying guns for protection. These citizens deserve the right to help prevent concealed handguns from entering their communities. - CHRISTI M. MEHLER Ellsworth MOLLY IVINS f ml Worth Star-Telegram USTIN, Texas — First time as tragedy, second time as farce. A splinter faction of nut cases, a subset of the group of loons who call themselves the Republic of Texas, took two ^ hostages this weekend near Fort Davis and are still holed up in a trailer they call their "embassy." The so-called Republic of Texas says the state was never legally a part of the union and wants it to act like an independent nation again. At this rate, we're likely to get kicked out of the union by the other 49 states for having an impermissibly high percentage of hopeless dolts running loose. w It would be funny if these mush-brained dimwits weren't so heavily armed. In one of the more surreal moments of the crisis (one has to make fine distinctions about degrees of surrealism in this episode), one of the fairly normal lunatics in the Republic of Texas announced that hostage taker Richard McLaren "has gone completely off the deep end." Right. As opposed to the rest of them, who are perfect models of sanity. Everyone in Fort Davis — in this case, the phrase is not an exaggeration — has known for months that something like this was going to happen. McLaren was spoiling for a showdown. Although the failure of local authorities to Do Something about him earlier will now be even more heavily criticized, the reason that law enforcement folks are so reluctant to create new martyrs on the gun-nut right is obvious. Judge Lucius Bunton of Midland did put McLaren in the clink for a month in Monahans for his habit of filing phony liens all over the It is easy to dismiss these folks with the old put-down 'Get a life.' The problem is that they can't get a life, and that's precisely what accounts for the seething anger that then winds up taking such bizarre political turns. lot, thus fouling up all kinds of commercial transactions. In fact, McLaren had filed a lien on Bunton's courthouse. Both houses of the Lege have passed legislation, now in conference committee, providing heavier penalties for filing false liens, using phony warrants and otherwise pretending to be a government. With any luck, the hostage taking in Fort Davis will play in the media for what it is: the work of a squirrel. But if McLaren had not (in the immortal words of his former associates) "gone completely off the deep end," if he had not been "impeached" in March as ambassador of the Republic of Texas, we would have the makings for another case of gun-nut martyrdom. While listening to various "officials" of the Republic of Texas being interviewed about all this, I was struck by how much they resembled the kids who used to get heavily into the game Dungeons and Dragons. Imagination is a wonderful thing, but at what point does it become delusion? When lonely losers use computers to find other lonely losers and create a group fantasy that becomes their entire lives, how far are they from Heaven's Gate? The evolution of the Republic of Texas is instructive: The group is an offshoot of the property-rights movement, which itself shades gradually from people who sound like every grump you've ever heard grousing about the gummint to the crackpots in the militias. And there you start finding people obsessed with III "The Turner Diaries," race war and blowing up government buildings. It's too easy to dismiss these folks with the old put-down "Get a life." The.problem is that they can't get a life, and that's precisely what accounts for the seething anger that then winds up taking such bizarre political turns. It is a political/economic problem. Half the working population of this country has had falling or stagnant wages for almost 20 years. There is no future for young people who are . not headed for college. And yet all one ever hears in the media is about how well people are doing, how the economy is booming, mansions are selling like hot cakes, and big cigars,, are back in. Tens of millions of people don't have the right education or skills to participate in a high-technology, global economy, and no one is doing anything about it. Any hope we ever had that the Clinton, administration might do something for working-class people has long since disappeared. Clinton has been in Philadelphia announcing that government programs won't solve our problems — what we need is ... volunteers. Great — we cut support for low-income housing by more than 90 percent and then wonder why so many people are homeless. Jimmy Carter, who knows from volunteerism, is the • first to tell you that the thousands of homes built by Habitat for Humanity aren't even a drop in the bucket of what's needed. The original Clinton plan of investing in people has long since given way to the interests of bond traders and deficit hawks. Former- Labor Secretary Robert Reich's wonderful new book, "Locked in the Cabinet," is both very sad and very funny. In it, he tells what happened to to all those brave populist plans for investing $50 billion a year in putting people to work and-; giving them the skills they need to get jobs that will give them a life. The jobs are going begging. High-tech firms, offer on-site gyms and swimming pools to,, attract workers with the right skills; they send~ flowers and slather on the perks. But for al-most half of America, those jobs might as well- be on the moon. By G.B. TRUDEAU & TUCIN6CFF, CFCOUHSe, j AUN6MAYTO SMK7WS

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