"Democracy," wrote H.L. Mencken, "is the theory that the common people know what they want…and deserve to get it, good and hard." Well, according to the Census Bureau, there are now more elected public officials in this country—some 504,404—than bank tellers.
Businessman Peter Grace was giving an antiabortion speech at a New York dinner attended by Ronald Reagan and 900 members of the Catholic church hierarchy. He meant to refer to the fetus, but he said: "Everybody who's for abortion was at one time themselves a feces. And that includes all of you out there. You were once a feces. So we thank you, Mr. President, and now, dinner will be served."
Moultrie, Georgia, is one of 150 small towns that benefit from the government's Essential Air Service Program. That means airlines must fly there even though few people want to, and the government subsidizes the cost. A dozen times a week, an 18-passenger turboprop flies between Atlanta and little Moultrie, carrying, on average, one passenger. Often it's empty. For this service, taxpayers in 1988 paid $379,000—a $291 gift to each person who did take the flight. For this fiscal year, however, Congress appropriated only $25 million out of a needed $31.6 million for the program. So Moultrie's flight could get canceled. Now, how to get rid of the remaining $25 million?
The supreme court of New Hampshire may soon decide whether Mr. James Jordan belched intentionally. Police were about to administer a blood-alcohol breath test when Jordan suddenly gave forth. This prevented the cops from getting a reliable reading, since a burp can contaminate the mouth with alcohol from the stomach. Jordan maintains his belch was unintentional, but the cops warned him not to do it again for 20 minutes or they would consider it a refusal to take the test. He burped again, and the cops revoked his license for three months. His lawyer appealed.
Margaret Thatcher is trying desperately to reduce the number of "quangos" in England. These quasi-autonomous nongovernmental organizations now number 1,648 in Great Britain. That's down from the 2,167 when she took office, but among the organizations that were apparently too important to eliminate are the UK Polar Medal Advisory Committee, the Advisory Panel on the Importation of Sexually Explicit Films for Health Purposes, the Banana Trade Advisory Committee, and the Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances.
Politics got messy in Cliffside Park, New Jersey. The mayor's 33-year-old son could face up to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail for some spiteful spitting. This mouth-watering episode began when Nicholas Castronuovo, a one-time friend of the town's powerful mayor, had the audacity to challenge the mayor in an election. He lost, but then someone started expectorating on the windows of his real estate office. Castronuovo hid a video camera near his window, and the tape revealed that three days in a row, Thomas Calabrese, the mayor's son, jogged by at 5:42 A.M. and hawked one at his window. Castronuovo convinced police to conduct a predawn stakeout, and they arrested Calabrese and charged him with harassment.
Will the defendant please, er, rise? In a sex solicitation case in Florida, the defense attorney asked a witness if she could identify the defendant's parts. To verify her description, the prosecutor sought permission to photograph the defendant, former police officer Frederick Busch, in the buff. The judge refused. Law enforcement is just no fun.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".