20 Years Ago
"Fiscal conservatives should have by now been jolted from their 30-year fantasy that if only Republicans controlled Congress, government would become smaller, less consequential, and less intrusive. Those (including me) who once upon time believed this fairy tale should have known better. As in the early 1980s, we have once again collided with the central reality that despite the appealing rhetoric, the GOP is not a small-government party. The Democratic cardinals on Capitol Hill have simply handed over the reins of power to a cast of Republican cardinals."
"Tendentious terminology has always been a problem in the abortion debate. People who support restrictions, for example, call themselves 'pro-life,' implying that their opponents are 'pro-death.' Now a federal jury in Chicago has resolved this semantic difficulty. The correct term for anti-abortion activists, it turns out, is racketeers—or, if you prefer, extortionists."
"Mouths Sued Shut"
"You can't judge a book by its cover, but can you judge a man by the books he gives to his, er, inamoratas? That's a question raised by accounts that one of the gifts President Clinton gave to former White House intern Monica Lewinsky was a copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. As Newsweek reported, Clinton had 'also happened to give Hillary [a copy] when they were courting.'"
30 Years Ago
"Public housing officials in Chicago turn homeless squatters out of abandoned public housing units in the dead of winter. Bureaucrats from San Francisco to Boston prowl the streets looking to uncover residents' illegal conversions of single-family homes to multi-person living spaces. A local television news team uncovers the city of Los Angeles as the biggest slumlord in town, owner of hundreds of housing units that do not meet minimal standards of decency required of capitalist landlords. But all liberal eyes are on Washington, D.C. From there, all blessings flow. Oh, Congress, we beseech you, let our prayers be answered. Let us have 'a comprehensive housing bill for the 1990s.'"
"After six years of bitter debate in Congress and another year in which amnesty dominated the headlines, the new immigration law is a fact of daily life. The purest Daughter of the American Revolution can no longer get a job without presenting the right papers. But the United States is no closer than ever to resolving the contradictions of our immigration policy. And we still have not 'gained control over our borders'—nor will we ever."
Virginia I. Postrel
35 Years Ago
"Knowing what I know of sewer commissioners and the utter fatuity of most municipal programs to eradicate rats and other vermin, the question whether there are indeed alligators in our sewers suddenly became an open one."
James Dale Davidson
"The Things That Don't Die"
"After his overambitious and pretentious projects such as Apocalypse Now, it is a welcome relief to see Francis Ford Coppola do a more modest film such as his current The Outsiders. Like Tex, it's about growing up, viewed so completely from the standpoint of the juveniles that there's scarcely an adult in the entire film."
40 Years Ago
"Change has come to the British Labor Party, once the Western world's leading force for socialism. The party that inspired the social-democratic left in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and much of the Third World is backing off from the tenets of socialism and shifting to the political center."
Robert W. Poole, Jr.
"British Retreat from Socialism"
"Rep. John Breckenridge (D–KY) thinks we need a horse census. He's pushing a bill to require the Agriculture Dept. to take a count of both farm and nonfarm horses to help the horse industry know what its market is. The American Horse Protection League, which tries to prevent commercial exploitation of horses, opposes the bill, noting that it would cost taxpayers about $2.5 million per year.…Contrary to rumors, the bill does not stipulate that the census will be taken by counting the legs and dividing by four."
Alan W. Bock
Photo Credit: Chip Bok