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July 6, 2011     Hays Free Press
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July 6, 2011
 

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+ Page 4A + ardon me while I vent. A few days before the luly 4 holiday, someone emailed me two photographs that could tear your heart out. ne photo depicted a Marine lieutenant's flag-draped casket being offioaded from an airliner as the plane's passengers looked through the win- dows in somber reflection. The other was a shot of 2nd Lt Iames C, athey's young widow lying on a makeshift bed in front of the casket the night before the funexaL She had asked to spend one last night with him before he was laid to l~St. An anonymous blogger's text attached to the photos urged ~veryone to remem- ber the sacrifices of our folks in uniform. The writer also urged fons, arding the photos to everyone on the recipients email list, since it was a sure thing that "the media" wouldn't publish them. The photos were incredl%ly powerful that etch the~ permanently into your consciousnesg But the Unages- the ones th.at the blogger said'~e me- dia" va~uldn~ touch - weren't ignored by joumalis~ As a matter of fact, theywere published sixyears ago in a newspaper. Had the anonymous ~ bothered to look dose~, he would have seeo a credit line at the comer of the photos, That aedit line identified the pictures as the work of Todd Heisl~ who won a Pulitzer Pl~e for the Roc~ Mountain News for the images in 2006. He now works for the New York lgmes. So these photos - the ones "the me- was certain to ignore-were not only published by a mainstream newspaper, but were awarded the h~b_est honor in ~mmal- ism. And Heislefs panner, reporter Jan Sheeler, also won a ~ for the paper. The anonymous blogger who stepped in it with his snarky comment isfar from alone.Almost daily I see blogs .an=d emails from critics accusing"the media: ofwith- holding its coverage and its compassion for the m itary. Usua those critics are anonymous. The ~ I~e worked for the past 38 ymrs ha~ printed untold thousands of stories, h-nag~ and supportive editori- als about our military personnel and their familieg So I'm more than a little vceary of '~he media" being painted in hues of pink. I wonder if our anonymous critics ever stop to think that "the media" they so ~ffully bash is one of the institutions of om that our military folks put their lives on the ~ne to protect. Do they realize that over the past two centuries, scores of reporters and pho- tographers- dedicated human beings who make up %he media" - have died alongside our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines while covering our nation's wars? Heisler himself narrowly escaped death from a roadside bomb while cover- ing the war in Iraq. I wonder if the critics ever stop to think that "the media" is comprised of ordinary working people with families and mortgages, and yes, even feelings. People who believe that their profes- sion makes an important contribution to the messy business of democracy. I wonder if they think about the fact that members of'~he media," unlike anony- mous bloggers, sign their names to their work, making themselves accountable to the courts of law and public opinion. Do the critics ever consider how members of "the media" risk the wrath of those in charge every time they publish aprobing news story or a tough editorial opinion? Do they realize that the First Amendment is listed first for a reason- so that ~the media," warts and all, can serve as a court of last resort when absolute power corrupts absolutely? Those touching photos vcere not shot by an amateur with a camera phone. They were not published by some anonymous the send button in the middle of the night. Theywere shot by a talented and dedicated journalist who puts his name on his Work, and then theywere pub- lished in an American newspaper.Which is about as maiusueam media as you csn get I've never met Todd Heisler, but I've had the privilege to work with hundreds ofjoumallsts like ~ I can testify that most members of '~he media" work in- cred~ly long hours at low pay and often at the expensa of their family lives to cover the news for you. They do this even when the stories are painful to cover. And even when they get mindlessly bashed by anonymous critics. Ifyou'd L"ce to see more photographs by Todd Heisl~ and dorft mind visilin~ a mainstream media awards site to see mere, he~s alink for you: http://www.pu~tzer.org/works/2OO6- Featu~Photography Faoughven Happyr urthofJ Donnis Baggett is publisher and editor of the Waco Tribune-HeralcL dbagg~acotrib.com. TNEY REALLY SAm lr'lll " ere ,was no reasonitt to do it." -- Parks director Kerry Urbanowicz on the cry of Ky~$ ~~ ~ a fireworks display after scores of area cities had cancelled thelm beClllm II~llltfllk; Kyle's location on a watered golf course made It much safer thlm~ ~ officials said. ' ~-: :,:~ll~ Free Press July 6, 2011 THE WEBSITE @ Ibelieve I have previously written about those loony prognosticators and one crazy Mayan calendar that predicted the end of the world is approaching fast. I also recall being a bit cynical of these soothsayers in past columns, doubting their theo- ties, visions or drug-induced hallu- FROMTHE cinations. I might've even used some unflattering term describing these in- game one day a week. Meanwhile, dividuals. If so, allow me to apologize there are millions of hard-working with me to the Outlet Mall?". Now, I don't know how it is in your house- hold, but Maw and I made a pact 20 years ago that states between Labor Day and Super Bowl Sunday, the remote control stays in my Cheetos- stained hands, and there will be absolutely no HGTV or Food Network appearing on the big television dur- ing the weekend. I suspect there is a similar treaty in place in most homes now because after months of research souls working five days a week, earn- here in Texas and perhaps up in and close observation, I also believe ing less than what Peyton Manning Green Bay. If not, there should be. the world we once knew will soon makes during the pre-game warm- What will we do this fall on Sun- change dramatically, altering the lives ups, who look forward to Sunday days? What will be our excuse for not of every warm-blooded American. just to be able to sit back, drink a few raking the leaves or fixing that leaky Thanks to the greed and mul- beers and watch football. And now, faucet? What's gonna keep us glued ish stubbornness of a few power- they may take that away from us. to our recliner for six straight hours ful individuals, our world will soon The last report I got from the negoti- every Sunday? Is it proper to drink crater around us, creating a void that ations is that nothing has been settled, beer while watching reruns of'The may never be filled. Men will wan- and no side is giving in. It seems the Waltons"? How can we keep from der through the streets on Sundays, NFL is heading for a nasty divorce, spending our Sunday afternoons screaming and c,=r~" _~, not knowing oblivious to the crying children, wear- walking down endless aisles at Ikea? what to do. That s right, folks, our ing their favorite NFL apparel, sitting Oh, it's going to be a long year. world is fixing to crumble come Sap- on the couch with an unopened beer Hey, Jerry Jones! If you Or any of tember because the NFL season is in one hand and an idle remote in the your money-clutching cohorts are swirling around the crapper and may other.What about them?what are they reading this, please, for the love of going to do every Sunday afternoon Tom Landry, stop your bickering! Give in a little and shorten the pre- be lost forever. Oh, pray it's not so! I'm not real sure what all the trou- " ble is over in NFLville, but there's a lot of squabbling between the greedy players with bulging biceps and bloated bank accounts and the stub- born team owners who have more money than the California state trea- sury. Players want more money and fewer work days, while the owners want to rule the world. There's prob- ably several other grievanc~ that I don't know about, but that s not the point. Both sides have tons of money, and all they have to do is play one and Monday night? Who is going to get custody of the TV remote? Most of the world won't have to suffer through this up-coming, le- thargic, NFL-deficient season. Other countries will go about their routine lives, toiling through the work week, then relaxing at home, sipping tea or wine, watching rugby or lacrosse. Meanwhile, here in the USA, men will be flipping through all five-hundred channels on their big screen TM searching for anything that will keep the wives from asking, "Want to go season. Donate a million or two to the players' long-term health insur- ance policy. Open the doors to your stadiums. Help us poor, football- loving guys out! We need the NFL We can't live on college football alone. We need our Cowboys, Texans and 11- tans! If I have to endure another thn~ months of watching houses getting flipped or angry housewives in New Jersey, I will simply go insane. me football or give me death! I wanna grow up to be a politician, and take over this beaua'ful land. --Thenyrd Eric Cantor needs to grow up. Unfortunately, the Republican House majority leader equates a tantrum with statesmanship. He is prepared to hold his breath until, well, until the federal government ceases to operate. President Obama should grant his wish. Take the Bill Clinton route. Put the blame for the collapse of debt- ceiling talks on the shoulders of those who refuse to talk. Cantor and Arizona Sen. John Kyl abruptly withdrew from talks over- seen byVice President Joe Biden because Biden and the Democrats wanted to talk about ways to raise revenue by closing tax subsidies and loopholes that benefit those who need no tax break. The latest impasse drew President Obama directly into the fray, the White House saying Republicans need to stop protecting "some of their sacred cows." That's putting it exactly as it should be. The GOP makes a habit of saying how the opposition fights to protect spending. What about tax dodges and subsidies? The administration has made compromises. The Bush tax cuts were allowed to endure into a new year- hundreds of billions of dollars in debt left on the backs of future taxpayers, plus interest. Obama has recommended spend- ing cuts galore, including a freeze on federal pay. That's called compro- mise. Do the Republicans not have any responsibility to reciprocate? This is all about the absurd notion that somehowwe can achieve $2 trillion in deficit reduction without increasing revenue in any way. With tea parties providing loud encouragement, the Republican Party adheres to the assertion that the revenue the federal government has is sufficient to pay for decades of activism including the largest peacetime defense buildup (Reagan), three wars (G.H.W. Bush, G.W. Bush) and a vastly underpriced expansion of Medicare. Built into this 'is the spiel that America's tax rates are oppressive and constantly rising. That, upon in- spection, is a cured meat which could be easily shot down by Carl Sagan's "baloney detection kit." Taxes- federal and state com- bined, are their lowest as a percent- age of GDP as they have been at any time since 1950. As Fareed Zakaria writes in Time magazine, the United States is among the lowest taxed of the large industrial nations. Anyway, Obama and the Demo- crats aren't proposing to raise the taxes of all Americans, though they should. Every American should pay more for all the government they've bought, and substantially more, be- cause simply cutting spending is not going to resolve our debt problem. Even the draconian debt reduction plan of Illinois Republican Rep. Paul Ryan assumes tax hikes would have to come into pla~ urn, way down the line. Why not now? How now, sa~ cow? Republicans let out shrieks when Bill Clinton managed to engineer a tax increase on America's wealthiest taxpayers. Fiscal visionaries like Phil Gramm and Jesse Helms said the economy would tank. Devastation. Armageddon. What happened, If anyone recalls, was quite the oppo- site. For a brief glimmer of time the federal government actually bought back some of its debt: Yes, a surplus. When a one-vote majority on the Supreme Court gave George W;. Bush custody of that surplus, he of cut taxes first, figure it all out later," the surplus evaporated quicker than dew on a gila monster. It is high time to start thinking of our misguided taxpolicies in the same way we spend on things we don't need, like, for instance, polic- ing the world against threats real and imagined. For one, says Robert McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice, our tax system "lets many of our biggest and most profitable corporations pay little or no tax." "Little or no." That's what the Eric Cantors of the world call oppressive and confiscatory. They're going to hold their breaths rather than ad- dress these tax inequities. Let them, Mr. President. Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. jyoungolumr~gmalLcom. "It is time to send these self serving political carpetbaggers back to Trevis Co. (Cutler & Palge). Tommy Ratiiff is a local man with local roots and con- cams, a man who has lived in Hays Co. and worked tirelessly for the people of Hays Co. for many years. As for the politics, stop whining. Politics is a part of every day life and always has been." -- Bill on "Ratliff says he'll run for sheriff as Republican" on haysfreepre~.com "To those of you saying morale is down at the sheriff's department; you are wrong. There may be a few who aren't happy. But, the strong majority of employees are much happier under Cutler than they ware Ratiiff. Next time you see one, ask. Here's the deal. If they don't like their current boss, they'll say something like '1 just do my job, regardless of who's at the top.' If they do like him, they'll say so. 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