REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM
- How many Straussians does it take to change a light bulb? (The answer to this question to be found in the obvious place below.)
- The Great Peace March collapses, some $300,000 in debt, in the Mojave Desert, 120 miles from its starting point, and over 3,000 miles from its destination in Washington, D.C. Actor Robert Blake on the experience: "This has been the most wonderful, glorious experience of my life. The fact that I'm bitter and hurt is because I am a marcher. I suppose I should be grateful to [debt-ridden sponsor] PROPeace." (Los Angeles Times, March 15, 1986)
- 1972 Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern failed in his campaign for the presidency of St. John's College, Annapolis, known for its Great Books program, set curriculum, and tutorials.
According to a long-time St. John's instructor, McGovern referred to his "enjoyment" of Thucydides, the latest on his Great Books reading list. Has the love of Great Books turned the "come home America" politician into a lover of gore? That's what a liberal education will do to you!
Although the St. John's College presidential search committee supported McGovern, the College's Board of Directors (evidently flinching from his liberal public image) turned to William Dyal, Jr., head of American Field Service International, who remarked "I voted for Mr. McGovern . . . George McGovern and I are probably closer together politically than most people in the country." (Washington Times, March 11, 1986)
- An honest journalist complains about the Washington Times: "They're injecting ideology into news columns, particularly in the play they give stories and headlines," said Jack Nelson, Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times. (New York Times, December 30, 1985)
- How reporter Robert C. Toth of the Los Angeles Times understands the Soviet Union (and America):
[Soviet leader Mikhail] Gorbachev's political opponents, who are considered neo-conservatives and generally anti-Western, may be making common cause with the military, which again was blocked during the [Soviet Communist Party] congress from winning full membership on the Politburo for the defense minister. . . .
In the four weeks since the 27th party congress, a gathering that occurs about every five years, analysts at Rand, Georgetown University's Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Johns Hopkins University's School for Advanced International Studies have been pouring over the tons of speeches, press reports and other documentation from the weeklong meeting.
They were most startled by the recall of Anatoly F. Dobrynin, Soviet ambassador to the United States for 23 years, to a highly influential job within the party's Moscow bureaucracy, probably as head of the Central Committee's International Department.
"It's as if Frank Church were made president of the Heritage Foundation," said one Kremlinologist with admitted exaggeration. (Los Angeles Times, March 24, 1986)
- "Poll Finds Most Americans Believe Press" - Los Angeles Times front-page headline. Buried in paragraph 14:
Despite this generally favorable impression of the press, Americans have serious reservations about specific news media practices. For example, 53 percent of those surveyed thought the press was one-sided when presenting political and social issues. When compared to past survey results, this number suggests that public doubt about press fairness actually is growing. (Los Angeles Times, January 16, 1986)
- Answer: They don't need to. The light is made conspicuous by its absence.
- California Chief Justice Rose Bird on all the little people she's standing up for:
"I don't think in the long run that ideology plays a very great role in it. . . . I vote the way I think the law requires me to vote. . . .
"If Eddie Meese is in power, every little justice who is going to be appointed . . . has to look and sound and talk like Eddie Meese. If you don't, you get thrown out.
"You don't want people in lock step up here. The beauty of California has been its openness, that you have a variety of people. It is a beautiful thing that a little Hispanic can look up here and see Cruz Reynoso in the highest judicial office in the state. That is a beautiful thing. Why do we have to have Eddie Meeses all over here? He doesn't have a corner on the truth. . . ." (Los Angeles Times, November 23, 1985)
- Bicentennial reflections from "How the Constitution Disappeared," by Lino A. Graglia, University of Texas law professor:
Although it may come as something of a disappointment to some, an "aspiration for social justice, brotherhood, and human dignity" happens not to have been what brought this nation, or at least the government founded on the Constitution, into being. The convention to revise the Articles of Confederation was called and the Constitution was drafted and ratified not to provide additional protections for human rights-on the contrary, the stronger national government created by the Constitution was correctly seen as a potential danger to human rights-but almost entirely for commercial purposes. . . . How little the Constitution had to do with aspirations for brotherhood or human dignity is perhaps most clearly seen in its several provisions regarding slavery. (Commentary, February, 1986)
- Responding to Undersecretary of Education Gary Bauer's charge that U.S. textbook publishers are "hypercritical of American institutions" while "glossing over" the faults of the Soviet Union, a Houghton Mifflin Co. executive gave an adroit defense:
"We seriously question any argument that urges American publishers to become the counterparts of the authors of Soviet teachers' manuals," said Marlowe Teig, who heads the executive committee of the Association of American Publishers school division.
"How would we be different from the authors and publishers in the U.S.S.R. who advocate communism?" Teig asked. (Los Angeles Times, January 16, 1986)
- UCLA's Center for the Study of Women, with partial funding from the California Council for the Humanities, sponsored a two-day conference, "The Dark Madonna: Women, Culture and Community Rituals."
Imagine the audience's surprise then, and discomfort, and consternation as the speakers at the opening session turned out to be six white women whose presentations contained either no reference to the Dark Madonna or tangential ones at best. Considerable reference was made, however, to racism in U.S. society and some of these women's struggles in coming to terms with it. . . .
Most people did return the next day. As promised there were Black, Chicana, Native American, and Asian panelists, and much discussion of the history and significance of the Dark Madonna. . . .
Appropriately enough [the conference] ended at night in a ritual.
Many felt awkward or apprehensive about participating in any ceremony, but they let [Women's Quest members] lead them out into the dell of the sculpture garden. Accompanied by Lisa Theil's drum, several women carrying bowls of burning sage, and a little chanting, they gathered around the platform. Solemnity, awkwardness and humor were inextricably blended as they touched Mother Earth and remembered their mothers, grandmothers and role models, calling out Tina Turner, Eleanor Roosevelt and Lizzie Harden into the night." (Los Angeles Times, November 13, 1985)
- Claremont McKenna College literature professor Wendy Owen discovers the meaning of affirmative action in one of several pensees on being a young woman teacher at a former men's college:
One of my colleagues tells me today that I have been hired by CMC because I am a woman. Simply because I am a woman. Apparently my summa cum laude from an Ivy League university, my Oxford M.A., my Yale Ph.D. are inessential. My gender has gotten me the job. I have no sharp or witty retort for him. I am furious and silent. I go home and spend $50 on longdistance phone calls to friends who work to convince me that I am something other than my sex. I lie awake that night and contemplate quitting CMC. (Profile-The Alumni Publication of Claremont McKenna College, Spring, 1986) .
- An American Government text we'll not adopt:
White men end up being friends with white men. Given that one is not too much richer than the other, two white men seem to be able to be friends in America. They can drink together, tell dirty jokes, and sometimes even talk about important things. The only limitation is that they cannot love each other. For males to be friends, they have to prove to society that they are more attracted to women than to men. They can neither cry nor comfortably kiss in public. (David F. Schuman [with Bob Waterman], A Preface to Politics, 4th ed., 1986, p. 276)