Archive - 2008 - Editorial
As the Vermont Legislature and the Douglas administration work to achieve a balanced budget in light of a significant downturn in revenues, an emphasis on increasing revenues needs to be matched with proposed cuts. That has not happened to date.
Vermont has a few weeks to get its wish list in order before the federal government hands out parts of a $400 billion stimulus plan to stem the national recession and prime the economic pump. Faced with thousands of layoffs in recent months throughout the state, Vermonters, no doubt, want to know what Gov.
Hey, it’s two weeks ’til Christmas and from the constant bleating of news reports 24/7, we all know that the world’s economy is on life support. So, what do we do … dig a hole and hide, or look around us and see what life has to offer? Well, as Annie said, “the sun will come out tomorrow” — in fact, it’s out there now.
It seems appropriate, in this coming year of change, to talk about establishing new traditions. That doesn’t mean tossing out the old, but rather making way for the changes that are ahead and learning how to embrace them with all the richness of family rituals.
I speak for many, as an adult with three grown daughters, to recognize that the holiday traditions we celebrated 20 years ago when they were young, giddy and true-believers, are much different today. Not yet the granddad and with daughters in the Rockies and further West, the four of us gather when we can and celebrate togetherness simply because we miss each other and rejoice in the bonding of just being together.
We ski. We run. We hike, bike, kayak, swim, water-ski, rock-climb or just hang on the porch and gab away the hours. This past January we had cause to go to Hawaii to see an uncle of mine married and be part of the wedding party. We all took time off from work and school (not an easy thing in itself) and spent the better part of a week playing on the shores of Oahu and being with family. We played in the surf, toured the island, paid $10 each to open a clam and see what type of pearl would be inside; two of us took surfing lessons after the other two had to get back to their respective responsibilities, and we all had a memorable time together.
Three months later, two daughters and I met in Big Sur, California to run in their first marathon along that spectacular coast to Carmel. We started the race together, ran stride for stride for those 26 miles and crossed the finish hand-in-hand triumphant over our heads. That night I treated them to cocktails at Carmel’s Highlands Lodge and saw a glorious, blazing orange sunset over the Pacific in country made famous by photographer Ansel Adams. It was an occasion not to forget.
Clippings article published Oct. 23, 2008
Let’s talk about editorials and this newspaper’s perspective over the past eight years.
Since 2000, this editor has been roundly criticized — and applauded — by readers reacting to editorials on the national or international scene. Many of those editorials have been about the elections with George W., about the invasion of Iraq, the economy, and what I have considered to be the misguided policies of the Bush administration.
Contrary to some publications, editorials are written with the premise of the piece clearly stated and one side of the issue boldly supported. Very few editorials are middle-of-the-road essays that point out both sides of the issue and let the reader decide which group of facts has the most validity. Picking one side of the issue and defending that point of view is precisely what editorials should do. And, yes, that means the editorials are biased. Of course they are. They reflect my research and my point of view. That doesn’t mean, however, they are not supported by facts or credible evidence that counters an opposing agenda.
But why write about those issues when that’s the purview of national publications, some critics ask, then suggest we write solely about local and state issues.
It’s a good point, and frankly, I would do my job better if I made it a priority to always include a local editorial to accompany any editorial on the world or national scene. Two shorter editorials would almost always be preferable.
But when the issues get mixed up with people’s emotional framework, rational discussion often falls by the wayside and partisan politics enters the fray. The strategic reasons for invading Iraq or not, for example, get lost within the emotional context of patriotism, God and country, and supporting the troops.
“Never in living memory has an election been more critical than (this) — that’s the quadrennial cliché, as expected as the balloons and the bombast. And yet when has it ever felt so urgently true? When have so many Americans had so clear a sense that a presidency has — at levels of competence, vision and integrity — undermined the country and its ideals?”
That was the opening paragraph of The New Yorker’s endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama for president on Oct. 13. It continued: “The Presidency of George W. Bush is the worst since Reconstruction, so there is no mystery about why the Republican Party — which has held dominion over the executive branch of the federal government for the past eight years and the legislative branch for most that time — has little desire to defend its record, domestic or foreign … Meanwhile, the nominee, Sen. John McCain, (has) played the part of a vaudeville illusionist, asking to be regarded as an apostle of change after years of embracing the essentials of the Bush agenda with ever-increasing ardor.”
That this presidential election is the most critical of our times is a debate for historians decades hence, but certainly a record 93 percent of the American populace, according to recent polls, say we are going in the wrong direction. And certainly these two major party candidates offer stark differences in style and in the policies they would pursue.
It is no surprise to readers of this paper that we enthusiastically endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president. We are impressed with his coolness under fire; his thoughtful and deliberate approach when addressing difficult issues; his skills as a campaigner, organizer and director of a massive undertaking these past 18 months that delivered a consistent message of hope that has inspired tens of millions of supporters. And he has done it with honor, integrity and clarity of purpose.
Democrat Tom Costello, a veteran legislator serving Rutland and Brattleboro, has an uphill battle in challenging incumbent Brian Dubie as the state’s lieutenant governor. But Costello’s pragmatic approach to the issues, experience in bipartisanship as a former legislator, and his ‘can-do attitude’ when it comes to reaching resolution on problems facing the state earn him this paper’s endorsement in an effort to unseat Dubie and bring new energy to the state’s second-highest post.
Costello is a likeable “Joe-Six-Pack” kind of guy who, even though he has a law degree, feels more comfortable talking in half sentences, tossing in a few choice words that come from his days as a Marine, and talking about practical measures to solve problems rather than whining about obstacles or politics. After six years of dodging the issues, his frankness is refreshing.
“Our present administration is not dealing specifically and effectively with these problems which are solvable,” Costello told the Independent last week in reference to re-licensing Vermont Yankee, financial hardships for Vermont’s seniors, and attracting new jobs to Vermont. “My experience is to work together in an aggressive way, but to work together and find a solution ... There is no reason why we can’t make these things happen. That’s been my experience.”
Welcome to the Brave New World where author Aldous Huxley imagined in his 1932 satire that society would prefer to be kept uninformed and live lock-step in a soma-induced blissful oblivion. Well, close enough. The world is the political orbit of the Republican Party in which no one is allowed to speak critically of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and the media, in particular, is not to pursue questions that seek to flesh out her positions or leadership style were she to be catapulted into the nation’s highest office.
Facts in this Republican dystopia (a negative utopia) don’t matter; what matters is that supporters swallow the party script. So, if Gov. Palin wants to keep repeating the lie that she opposed the Bridge to Nowhere and rejects federal earmarks to states, then the party faithful should excuse the falsehood and just drink the soma-laced Kool-Aid.
John Feehery, a Republican strategist, captured the mood perfectly in a Washington Post story on Tuesday when he told a Post reporter that the campaign was entering a period in which the dominant themes established in the campaign were more important than skirmishes over the facts.
“The more The New York Times and The Washington Post go after Sarah Palin, the better off she is, because there’s a bigger truth out there and the bigger truths are she’s new, she’s popular in Alaska and she is an insurgent,” Feehery said. “As long as those are out there, these little facts don’t really matter.”
Wow. Let’s think about that.