By the Way

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• The Great Welfare Reform of 1988 has passed. Americans may look back on it someday as our own perestroikaâ€"an attempt to remedy one web of government programs with another. Does anyone really believe that Gorbachev can achieve prosperity for the people of his country by moving the bricks around the windows on the 15th story? The socialist foundation of the system is what needs reordering. Likewise, as a few courageous souls such as Charles Murray are saying, it is the premises of the welfare state that explain the Great Society's dismal results. But while Rome burns Nero fiddles. Reagan took this one to the Rose Garden.

• Now that Iraq and Iran have settled their differences, foreign policy experts and media people are overcome with concern about the use of chemical weapons by both sides. Meanwhile, however, not a whisper of outrage over the charge, by the highly respected Jane's Defense Weekly, that Cuba has been using a lethal mixture of Soviet-supplied mustard gas and nerve gases against guerrilla forces fighting Angola's Marxist government. Is it that the foreign policy establishment doesn't want to jeopardize the delicate U.S.â€"South Africanâ€"Angolan negotiations (over the rebels' heads) to try to end over 20 years of civil war in Angola? Is it squeamishness about criticizing a Soviet client state? Sometimes "paranoid fantasies" become understandable.

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