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Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - July 16, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Defiance wonder: a Nixon orchestration? Editorial Page Tgeidoy. July 16, 1974 Washboard crossings m AXPAYERS will put up with a lot, an Omaha city council member, Robert Cunningham, said recently, "but there are basically two things they want from their tax dollars: Those are good garbage pickup and smooth streets to drive on." That slight exaggeration brought to mind a problem nettling Cedar Rapidians this summer. Garbage pickup is ef- ficient, as always, and the street maintenance program is rolling along smoothly. But railroad crossings, over which the city has little control, seem rougher this summer than in many a year. Correspondingly, complaint calls to city hall have been numerous. The Fourth street SE tracks at Seventh and Eighth avenues threaten to rip loose the tail-pipe or muffler of any vehicle crossing at more than 10 miles per hour. The First street SVV tracks near the Penick Ford plant could serve as a test run for auto tire ad-men. Most of the northeast quadrant crossings are washboard rough, with the Oakland and Center Point road gauntlet taking the booby prize, as usual. Disappointingly, not a railroad company repair crew is to be seen. And how goes the city's an- nual effort to jog railroads into patching up slightly flawed cros- sings and reconstructing heavily- damaged ones? Richard Phillips, city public improvements commissioner, said letters are being sent to each railroad, but the outlook is none too promising. A spokesman for the Rock Island told Phillips, for example, that the city should not expect work crews this summer or fall. Which raises the question: If unusually rough crossings go unrepaired this year, what will they be like in 1975? City public works crews handle routine patching, but the city- has neither the time nor the money for major repairs. The city also offers to lend railroads equipment and workers for cross- ing improvements. Beyond those helpful alterna- tives, however, the city is powerless to act. The situation re-illustrates Iowa's need for a law giving cities leverage in bringing about railroad crossing improvements. In light of the legislature's failure to take such a proposal seriously, the newly- created department of transpor- tation should put this one on its agenda for early action. Insight from high view LATELY a couple of Soviet spacemen have taken their turns in the cosmonaut circuit, orbiting the earth in still another test of human skill in the ad- vancement of man's knowledge. Soon they will return to pretty much the same obscurity that has enfolded many U.S. astronauts after taken-for-granted returns from the same great adventure. Vanished fame may be the lot of even those Americans who set the 84-day space-endurance record recently in Skylab 4 (Carr, Pogue and But one of them, Ed Gibson, said some things about the journey that deserve to be ab- sorbed, and long remembered even if he isn't. Quoting from remarks attribut- ed to Gibson, solar physics specialist and Ph.D., in a New York Times magazine piece June Every time I had a few minutes free and every evening after we finished work, I'd head for the windows, usually with a camera. It was endlessly fascinating. And there was one thing that came to me, as a result of looking at the earth like that. You see, here on earth, we are so accustomed to looking at the earth on maps. And maps always have lines drawn on them that divide one part of the earth from another. Even globes have lines drawn on them. But wiien you get up there you SEE, even though you knew it intellectually, that there are no lines that divide one part of the earth from any other part. It's all one. You sit up there and you think, "Why should the people on this plot of ground be shooting at the people on that plot of It's so obvious that there aren't that many differences, that it's all the same earth When I tell people about that feeling, they always say "How but it doesn't go in deep with them. But I really believe that the space trips HAVE made a difference in the way people think of this earth. I think that the pictures taken of earth from space have had a subtle, maybe unconscious effect on the way people think of this planet, helping them to understand that it all really is one world. Consciously as well as other- wise, for people speaking many other tongues than ours, Ed Gib- son's thought should make the rounds and help to guide us all to better new designs for what goes on across the phantom lines down here. Isn't it the truth? By Carl Riblet, jr. The adventures now known as the Wa- tergate, ITT, the dairy lobby, the Ells- berg ripoff that failed, the tapes and the stonewall have all combined to emphasize the three faces in politics the face of victory, the face of defeat and the red face. "H'u face is the worst thing about him." William Shakespeare InlerOcean Press Syndicate Exorcising demon rum By Mary Costello A NIGHT of good drinking is worth a year's wrote Charles Cotton, a liUle-remembered English poet of the 17th Century. It's probably a good thing that Cotton never met Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard, the 19th Century American reformer and patron saint of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union Founded in 1874, the WCTU was part of the temperance movement which had emerged earlier in the century as a reaction against the excesses of drinking on the fronlier and in the cities. The WCTU is slill going strong, despite such setbacks as the repeal of Prohibi- tion in the United States, the increasing consumption of alcohol around the world, and a failure to attract younger people to the cause. The organization estimates it has over a half million members in 70 countries. A number of them will attend an eight-day WCTU congress to be held in Trondheim, Norway, beginning on July 22. The theme of the conference is "Love in Action." One of the organizers of the meeting told Editorial Research Reports that people respond belter to the call for abstinence when it is presented with compassion. The congress will stress the need for education on the dangers of alcohol, a theme that Frances Willard and her successors have been emphasizing for a century. A look at the statislics un- derlines those dangers. About 7 percenl of the adult population nine million Americans are alcoholics or problem drinkers. Abuse of alcoholic beverages costs society more than billion an- nually, is responsible for 50 percent of all traffic fatalities, accounts for one-third of all suicides and plays some part in half of the 5.5 million yearly arrests. A recent study also found that heavy drinking increasts the risk of mouth and throat Particularly alarming has been the sharp increase in teenage drinking. There are now an estimaled al- coholics in the country under 21 years old, and the number is increasing as young people turn away from hard drugs and marijuana and begin drinking. Morris E. Chafetz, director of the Na- tional Instilute on Alcoholic Abuse and Alcoholism, believes that part of the problem is that alcohol is considered al- most as American as apple pie. "Nonalcoholic drugs are somehow foreign and frightening, because their use, except as medicine, is not yet ac- cepted as part of the mainstream of American culture. Alcohol, on the other hand, is so common a drug that we lend to ignore it and its victims as we have done for far too long." Edltorlol Research Reports By William Safire WASHINGTON If you were worried about the outcome of the supreme court's deliberations about your case; if survival in office were your goal; and if you had a good instinct for the manipulation of the media w hat would you do to get ready to turn a lemur into lemonade? First, you would tell your press spokesmen to start playing a game called "rule-out roulette" refusing to rule out the possibility of your defying the supreme court, pointedly declining to reiterate assurances given last year that you would abide by a "definitive" decision of the high court. Second, you would direct your lawyer to nourish speculation about the pos- sibility of your defiance by declining to tell the justices you are seeking a supreme court saying only you wanted their "guidance and judg- ment" which you could, if you wished, ignore. Third, you would pass the word to every member of your official family not to give any off-the-record or deep- background hints to anyone that you might accede to the court's demands, thereby fueling the rumors that it was your plan to defy the court and go down with separation-of-power flags flying. Now why on earth would you want the jungle drums beating out that message of likely defiance if you were worried about the outcome of the case? Wouldn't that be getting people angry in advance? People's forum Police aid denied To the Editor: I feel the citizens of Cedar Rapids and surrounding areas will find it interesting to learn about some requirements of the Cedar Rapids police department. On July 8, shortly after midnight I got off work in downtown Cedar Rapids. After driving my car a short distance I discovered I had a flat tire. I found myself in quite a spot, because surprisingly only part of the jack was in my car. I decided the wisest thing to do was to walk to a phone and call for help. Since it was so late I called the police department, supposing they were not only protecting us but were helpful. I was told very frankly that it would be some time before any police car would be in my area. Then the officer informed me that if they did come, they would not be allowed to use their jack on my car. There evidently is a city ordinance against allowing a city taxpayer to use any equipment from a city policeman. I find it hard to believe such a requirement actually exists. However, this is what I was told. Finally I had to call a friend out of bed to help me. They tell women that if an incident such as this happens, wait in the car for a policeman to assist. What good would that do? How can we teach our children to have Of course. Editorial writers would gobble up the bait, direly warning that if you dare to defy the court, that in itself would be an impeachable offense. They would focus attention where you want it not on the court's coming decision, but beyond on your reaction to the court's decision. In this way, you would subtly shift the focus of public concern away from "which way will the court decide''" to "what will the President do if the court decides against You would thus regain some command of the situation. Meanwhile, the torrents of abuse that are heaped upon you in the leaks and voluminous reports of congressional committees are vitiated by the im- minence of the court decision and your reaction to it. Congressional-presidential confrontation is old news; the possibility of a clash between judicial and executive branches is fresh news. What happens when the court decides? If the decision surprises everyone and is favorable to you, or at least not un- favorable, well and good. If the decision directs you to turn over the additional tapes, then the suspense you have built up would begin to pay off. The decision would not stand alone, a powerful sup- port for the forces of impeachment; it would stand as the prelude to your own decision, as all eyes turn to you. If you defy, you would deserve to be impeached, most people would say, not realizing the obverse of their judgment: William Safire that if you do not defy, you not deserve to be impeached. Public opinion would he perfectly set up for your next move Assuming that there is no bloodstained dagger with presidential fingerprints on it in the tapes now being demanded assuming that they contain more of those damaging but inconclusive statements to which the public is now inured you would announce a prime-time telecast of your response, the suspense about which you have carefully built up with the un- witting help of your most vitriolic critics. "My fellow you would begin, "as the careers of those great dissenters, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis, have shown, the majority of the supreme court is not al- ways right. I believe that future genera- tions, in the perspective of history, will come to agree with the eloquent dissent of Justice Soandso (Quote here from one dissent of the decision against you, if there is one.) Save ffie whale Then you would relieve the suspense which you have manufactured with a gracious, even pious, acknowledgment of the supremacy uf the supreme courl in disputes between other branches and even within one branch. In so doing you may weaken the presidency, but nut so much as if you were to make a successful impeachment possible. "1 am a man of the law." you would assert bravely. "1 accept the decision of the supreme court. I will make these tape transcripts public, along with 126 addi- tional conversations that may be of interest. Let us see if this satisfies the special prosecutor and the judiciary committee or if, as I suspect, they keep coming back for more in their strategy of 'delay, defame, destroy' Public reaction would switch from a brief, stern "he'd better not defy the court" to a relieved "the President did the right thing, and if these tapes don't prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, then the impeachment crowd has no right to keep harassing him." And so you would have made lemonade out of an especially sour lemon. It would not be like winning a victory, but it would avert disaster, and there is some satis- faction in using your media opposition as a tool in building the suspense for your riposte. That would be my plan, if 1 were worried. What would you do, if you were worried? respect for police departments and tell them they ore their friends when this sort of thing happens? Does it happen every day? I certainly hope not. Do we need to review some of the laws? Mrs. Duane Johnson 1127 Eighth street NW Interference To the Editor: For those who enjoy (he Municipal band concerts in Bever and other city parks, it is unfortunate that a steady stream of motorcycles and cars has to pass by the bandstand throughout the concert. With overflow crowds such as Bever had Sunday night (July many people had to sit across the street from the bandstand where they were treated to the vroom-vroom of motorcycles inter- mingled with "Stars and Stripes We realize people must come and go from the park during the concerts, but would it be possible to close off the en- trance by the bandstand an hour and a half for, if nothing else, respect to the fine artists in the Cedar Rapids Municipal band? D. C. Van Metre 2207 Grande avenue SE Fraudulent To the Editor: Tsk, tsk. Now I see by your July 11 is- sue that some abortion clinics in New York are not only willing to abort preg- nant women, but nonpregnant women; and, on the basis of a urine test even a man. (For a fee, of course.) And who said we couldn't get carried away with this abortion thing? Tsk, tsk. Shirley Rucdy 2428 Fourth avenue SE Courts decisive, even with no 'smoking gun' Clearer light on obstruction of justice By ,'ames Reston WASHINGTON The conviction of John Ehrlichman for conspiracy and perjury in the case of Daniel Ells- berg's psychiatrist though it will be. appealed is regarded here as highly significant for two main reasons. First, it rested in part on the principle that an official is responsible for the acts of his subordinates if he approved a "covert" plan that led to illegal acts, even if he did not approve of specific acts of burglary under that plan. Second, it sustained Judge Gerhard Gesell's principle that even good motives do not justify illegal acts. "An individual cannot escape criminal liability simply because he sincerely but incorrectly believes that his acts are justified in the name of patriotism, of national security Gesell told the jury. These two points bear directly on the question of what a government official may or may not do and, if sustained, are likely to make White House aides much more cautious in the future about authorizing dubious practices regardless of their motives. And they bear indirectly on the continuing impeachment inquiry in the case of President Nixon. Here a distinction has to be made between the Ehrlichman case and the Nixon case. Ehrlichman approved in writing a "covert operation" to examine Dr. Fielding's files on Kllsberg's psychiatric record, provided that opera- tion was "not traceable." There is no such evidence that President Nixon did the same. Nevertheless, the judiciary commit- tee's transcript of a March 22, 1973, con- versation between the President and John Mitchel'i does suggest evidence that the President did know about the coverup of illegal acts, did not "take care that the laws are faithfully but con- spired to, and did, obstruct justice by suggesting that his aides avoid telling the truth. In that conversation, the President, according to the judiciary committee's transcript of the tapes, suggested a flexible policy of giving some informa- tion to the senate Watergate committee "in order to get on with the coverup plan." Later in the same conversation, in a long Nixon-Mitchell exchange, which the President personally directed should he cut out of the transcripts he made public on April 30, Nixon is quoted as saying (skipping his barnyard "I want you all to stonewall it, let them (his suspected aides) the Fifth Amend- ment, cover up or anything else, if it'll save the plan, that's the whole thing." James Reston In short, the President, according to this passage, clearly knew in general about the coverup, which was an ob- struction of justice and, if tolerated by the President, a violation of his oath to "take care that the laws are faithfully executed." If Ehrlichman's conviction is sustained on the basis of his general approval of a "covert then the President is in even deeper trouble as being a party to a specific crime. The psychological effect of the Ehrlichman conviction on the judiciary committee and the members of the house and senate is probably more important than anything else. The President and his lawyer are saying that to impeach and convict, you have to find clear evidence that Nixon personally, and in- tentionally, committed a high crime, prove him unequivocally to be a crook, or In use the vivid but offensive common phrase, "find the smoking gun" in his hands. In the Ehrlichman case, the judge and jury said something far less than this could be a crime: "You didn't have to catch Khrlichman rifling Dr. Fielding's files in order to convict him. Or even prove that he said, do burgle his office and gel the files.' Kven if he thought it was O.K. to mount a "covert operation" just so it wasn't (lesoll said that was enough to convict. Key figures in the house judiciary committee, like Itep. Thomas Hailsback (H-lll.) have been edging toward the ar- gument that the test of impeachment is not one of finding the "smoking gun" but the wider test of general knowledge of crime, and now the conviction of Ehrlichman has greatly strengthened his position. In their slow and steady way, the courts are becoming the decisive factor in this controversy, and the conviction of Ehrlichman is only an example of their power. Within a week or two, before the judiciary committee votes whether to bring in articles of impeachment, the supreme court will decide whether the President has to hand over the rest of the tapes and evidence. That will be the critical moment for all three branches of government judicial, executive and legislative. The first question lies with the members of the supreme court, and it is an ironic- accident of history that while they were considering their decision, former Chief Justice Earl Warren died, and the members of the courl marched to the solemn music in -the Washinglon cathedral, and they listened to the ap- peals for justice and unily in the Republic, and former Justices Abe For- las and Arthur Goldberg were with them, and one wondered what they thought. Later we will hear from Chief Justice Hurger, as we heard from Judge Gesell in the Ehrlichman case, and in the end of this tragedy, the courts arc likely to be decisive on what the congress dues. York rirnps Service
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