The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, February 26, 1992, Page 4, Image 4

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Imaginary wars
Military budgets protect political power
While the rest of the world celebrates the end of Cold
War hostilities, American politicians and Pentagon
brass are busy conjuring up imaginary wars in secret
planning rooms.
In Pentagonese, these wars are known as “scenarios.’' As the
debate begins to rage over how much to reduce the U.S.
military following the collapse of the Soviet threat, the various
scenarios will fly through the halls of Congress like bullets.
Rep. Les Aspin, D-Wis., has prepared the first detailed
Democratic plans to reduce the military in the post-Cold War
age. His proposals would cut the military $50 billion to $120
billion more over the next five years than the $50 billion
President George Bush has recommended.
Aspin told The New York Times that his staff had devel
oped these plans over the last several months by studying the
forces necessary for such military crises as a repeat of the
Persian Gulf war and U.S. air support of South Korean forces
to repel an invasion from North Korea.
Such deep cuts are far more than Pentagon planners arc
likely to endorse, although Aspin’s scenarios indicate that even
with his cuts, the United States would still be able to fight three
simultaneous regional conflicts.
Military leaders don’t seem to be as interested in protecting
the public as they are in protecting the political power they
derive from huge budgets.
The Pentagon, Aspin said, has been unwilling to share with
Congress the military scenarios it has developed to rationalize
continued massive worldwide deployments.
Military planners supposedly have been visualizing some
pretty far-fetched future conflicts. One such scenario envisions
a land war in Europe against Russia, whose president, Boris
Yeltsin, has said that he would like his country eventually to
join NATO.
Fanciful scenarios aside, the simple truth is that the Bush ad
ministration has failed to justify the massive amount of funding
it wants to continue to pour into the military. A five-year
reduction of only $50 billion is nothing more than a drop in the
Even Aspin’s reductions are modest. His proposals would
mean America still would be spending $210 billion to $235
billion a year on the military. Some military experts have
recommended a $160 billion annual outlay by the year 2000.
Aspin said, however, that under his proposals, greater cuts
could follow as international stability improved over the next
few years and the threat of the former Soviet Union continued
to decrease.
A Pentagon budget for the next fiscal year should emerge
from Congress sometime this summer. Because the Senate
usually supports military expenditures, the final figures proba
bly will fall somewhere between the Bush and Aspin plans:
And while our leaders argue over their scenarios, the peace
dividend promised to Americans in the New World Order will
continue to be spent on weapons for fake wars.
Religion supercedes gay rights
In response lo the letter of Michael
Andrews, alumnus (“Oppressors
denying rights of gays, lesbians,” DN,
Feb. 24): I apologize if my speech
offended you. But, yes, I do believe
that each person has a fundamental
right to freely exercise his or her
religious beliefs (no matter how
“narrow-minded” or bizarre) in the
absence of some compelling slate
interest. And, no, I do not believe that
a landlord should be able to discrimi
nate on the basis of race or religion.
Why not? Because I (and the vast
majority of Americans) believe the
interest in eradicating these forms of
discrimination is so compelling as to
outweigh competing interests. The
same cannot yet be said of discrimi
nation based on “sexual orientation.”
For example, the proposed Gay Rights
Amendment was defeated by a mar
gin of 80-20 percent. Furthermore,
the slate of Nebraska continues to
discriminate (as do all 50 states, to
my know ledge) on the basis of sexual
orientation as to the fundamental right
to marry.
I agree, but am confused with,
your statement that “one person’s
freedoms end where another’s be
gin.” Doesn’t that support my posi
tion? Is it not the gay/lesbian commu
nity which seeks to impose its free
doms on the landlord or a business
owner’s freedom lo use properly for
rcligiouspurposes?ltcertainly is,and
at the risk of criminal penalty. The
problem, of course, is that two inter
ests arc in conflict. I did not belittle
the gay rights movement before the
Judicial Committee. I merely urged
the committee to uphold the integrity
of religious freedom against this
competing interest. I am not ashamed,
and I would do it again.
If you devalue the right toexcrcisc
of religion, you impact more than
“religious fundamentalist oppressors.”
A California appellate court realized
this recently, and held that religious
beliefs in the rental of real property
were protected. Why? To hold other
wise might have led lo overruling a
case that protects the right of Native
Americans lo use peyote for religious
purposes (People v. Woody). So, the
difference between me and you is
probably nothing more than the very
nigh value I place on religious free
dom for all.
Finally, no one else who opposed
the bill spoke for me. I spoke for me.
That’s my right. You are mistaken in
lumping my statements together with
those who turned out to protest against
Wayde Pittman
third-year law student
-■ w ^
News drought slows business
Sorry, there will be no column
this Wednesday. It was a slow
news week, and that’s bad busi
ness for those who are supposed to
observe and commcnton these things.
The deadline rushed up like a starv
ing Rottweiler, and I was unable to
think of anything even remotely inter
esting to discuss.
Deadline has never been one of
my favorite words, particularly that
first syllabic. How you editors and
writers deal with the pressure is be
yond comprehension. I always wanted
to be a newsman myself — If I hadn’t
flunked that cursed typography class,
maybe I would’ve ended up with your
But that’s another story and doesn’t
completely explain why 1 have no
column for today. I usually write
columns on Sunday or Monday, but
this was prevented by an array of
unfortunate circumstances.
First, I was pulled over for speed
ing by a mean county sheriff who
toyed with the notion of impounding
my car. He clocked me in the mid 80s,
which seems fast on paper, but it is a
speed that would be laughed off by
Richard Petty or even Mike Tyson.
Unfortunately for the Law, his radar
malfunctioned and he was forced to
let me go with a warning. Ernie Cham
bers would’ve been proud of the way
I handled the whole scene.
The drive proceeded to get ugly
after that. I ran over somebody’s cat
on the highway, and in my rearview
mirror I could sec a little girl running
down her driveway, waving her arms.
Reluctantly I went back to help her
find the beast, who apparently had
been thrown into the ditch. We looked
for “Snickers” for about an hour, but
the animal had limped off somew here
to die. I apologized profusely and
continued on my way into Lincoln.
I could tell you about the c luttcr of
delinquent bills, library fines and
similar threats 1 discovered in my
mailbox on arrival, but you get the
picture. Add to this the fact that most
of our national morons have been
keeping a low profile lately and you
have the reasons for my lack of a
At least Dan Quayle didn’t let me
down. He has come under fire for
installing a swimming pool and put
ting green at the VP’s mansion, both
financed with private donations. It
must be nice to have the sort of friends
who will cough up $30,000 so you
Unfortunately for
the Law, his radar
malfunctioned and
he was forced to let
me go with a warn
ing. Ernie Cham- _
bers would’ve been
proud of the mxl
handled the whole
can work the kinks out of your pitch
ing wedge. No wonder Bob Kerrey
says Dan Quaylc was bom on third
base and thinks he kicked a field goal.
Kerrey himself finally has been
grabbing a few headlines based on his
strength in the South Dakota Primary.
Not all of the press has been positive
— one story has dredged up the child
labor violations at his chain of restau
rants. As you remember, he was ac
cused of working kids like Pony
Express horses at all hours of the
school night.
And w hy not? Hard, knuckle-scrap
ing labor builds character in the young.
Never mind the hideous physical and
mental scars. These kids will be more
productive workers in the long run,
and they will have the senator to
thank for it.
Besides, if you’ve ever enjoyed
one of Bob’s delicious sandwiches,
you’ll realize that child labor is a
small price to pay for such scrump
tious fare.
The most interesting story of the
week was the subpoena of the jour
nalists who broke the sexual harass
ment story on Clarence Thomas. They
have destroyed their notes and phone
togs and refused to reveal their sources,
which might land them in jail on
contempt charges.
Whatever happened to Justice
Thomas, anyway? He and Justices
Soutcr and Kennedy have been so
busy running errands for Chief Jus
tice Rehnquisl (picking up his laun
dry, mowing his yard) that wc have
n’t seen much of him. Maybe he’s too
busy repatriating Haitians.
Poor Clarence Thomas — he was
nearly betrayed by a wild streak of
Benny Hill. That’s the nature of the
’90s, I guess. One day you’re nomi
nated for the High Court and the next
day you’re nearly driven into the woods
like Rumplcslillskin. Never mind the
fact that Bush could’ve nominated
Isaac the “Love Boat” bartender and
gotten a better jurist.
Even the guy who nominated
Thomas has been quiet lately. Bush is
usually good fodder for any colum
nist, but not even King George did
anything especially stupid this week.
His showing in the New Hampshire
primary has been termed a “wake-up
call,” which is a bit like calling Israeli
helicopter attacks on the Hezbollah a
Bush doesn’t really need a wake
up call anyway. His advisers rarely
sleep at all — they arc preparing to re
elect “the Boss.” The Bush machine
is 100 percent American parts and
American labor, and it might grind
the Democrats up like sausage.
Actually, wc might’ve been spared
the horrors of a Bush presidency if
George had been able to hit a curve
ball. He played a flawless defensive
first base at Yale, but could barely hit
over the Mendoza Line (.200). Re
portedly, a few major league scouts
checked him out but passed him over
because of his weak batting.
If George just would’ve made better
contact, he might’ve gone on to a
relatively obscure career in the big
leagues. His Topps card would sell
for about 20 cents and he would be a
third-base coach at a high school in
Texas or Maine or wherever he pre
tends to be from.
Right. And if the Board of Regents
had brains... but that’s another story,
Anyway, sorry about not ha\ mg a
column for you this week. I hope
there will be some meaningful, thoug t
provoking and substantive nevys to
write about next week. And, n not,
there’s always politics.
Rosenbaum is a senior history major a ml
a Daily Nebraskan columnist.
The Daily Nebraskan welcomes
brief letters to the editor from all
readers and interested others.
Letters will be selected for publi
cation on the basis of clarity, origi
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braskan, 34 Nebraska Union, 14(X) K
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