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Who can put the United States back together again?

Last week's commentary on the debt ceiling debacle along with Social Security and Medicare – keeping it intact for guys like me – brought a range of opinions from readers.

And then there was the downgrading of the country's credit rating from AAA to AA plus.

Some blamed the Tea Party. Others blamed the spenders in Congress from both parties. A liberal blamed conservatives. A conservative blamed liberals.

So, that's pretty much where we're at in this country. None of us, it seems, are on the same page. I remember this feeling back in the late '60s and early '70s.

Older readers will remember the sign an Ohio girl supposedly held up during a Richard Nixon rally in 1968.

"Bring Us Together Again," it urged Nixon. He couldn't (although props to Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter for trying) and arguably an era of good will didn't return to the country until after the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

It seems we're at a similar point. We need someone to bring us together. I just don't know who can do it at this point.

***

I was watching a CNN report on the downed helicopter in Afghanistan that took the lives of 30 American soldiers. The anchor was interviewing a grieving wife and mother of two, who obviously was distraught.

"How are the kids doing?" the anchor asked.

For goodness sakes, why do news producers allow their minions to ask such dumb questions?

How are the kids doing?

What possible light can one shed on a story by interviewing someone who's just lost a loved one? Is anyone enriched by listening to such an interview?

I'm not. Click.

***

According to the Springdale Morning News in northwest Arkansas, a 34-year-old woman was charged with theft after stealing 185 copies of the newspaper outside a grocery store.

Her attorney said she "was just trying to save some money."

The woman said she is a member of a coupon club and a fan of the "Extreme Couponing" show on television.

The Springdale newspaper is not alone. Other papers across the country are reporting an increase in the theft rate, attributing it to the couponing craze.

As the editor of a daily newspaper, I cringed years ago when I got the first order from a publisher to put an "ear" on the front page of Sunday's paper, informing readers of the total worth of that particular edition's coupons. Not only did I think it cheapened the product, but I also thought that the dollar amount was generally misleading because the poor girl who counted up all the coupons included such deals like $250 off a new garage.

(I put the coupon "ear" in the same category as the little folksy greeting on the bottom of the page that thanks a particular reader for subscribing, which is nice as long as that particular subscriber is still alive. Don't laugh.)

OK, I've used coupons. But there are only so many bottles of shampoo that I need in the course of a year. And from what I've seen, a lot of manufacturers' coupons are for new products, which I did very well without before they were launched. So, I think the coupons in the Sunday paper are a nice thing, but I don't think they trump honest-to-goodness news, opinion and sports as the primary reasons to buy it.

And they're certainly not worth going to jail for.

Published: August 11, 2011
New Article ID: 2011708119987