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the Way Things Weren't

by Ralph Heller

resident Clinton enjoys telling civil rights activists that he remembers several black churches in Arkansas being burned during his boyhood, although the truth of the matter is that there were no black churches burned in Arkansas during that period—elsewhere across the South, yes, but not in Arkansas.

Similarly, Hillary Clinton has told people proudly that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary who conquered Mr. Everest, but the problem with this is that Hillary was born in 1947 and Sir Edmund was known to absolutely nobody outside his native New Zealand before he climbed Mt. Everest in 1953.

Indeed, less than two years ago, by way of explaining his support of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act of 1996, Senator Ted Kennedy said, "I remember help-wanted signs in stores when I was growing up saying ‘No Irish Need Apply’." But Kennedy was born in 1932 and by the time he was able to read signs the Irish were already the biggest and most influential voting bloc in Massachusetts and were running the City of Boston like a wholly owned Irish subsidiary.

Nor do liberals have a monopoly on faulty memories. Ronald Reagan delighted in telling the story of the exploits of a World War II bomber crew he said he’d read about in the papers although the tale actually came from a popular movie. One supposes there is a universal tendency for people to remember what they’d like to remember, but liberal Democrats are more adept than the rest of us at putting this tendency to convenient political use.

And just as we tend to remember individuals and events imperfectly, we also tend to forget how government is supposed to function. We’re so accustomed to the high-handedness of courts, heavy-handed regulation in response to environmental alarmists and such things as IRS quotas that we forget that things were not always this way.

In this month’s cover story Las Vegas attorney Edward Hanigan has good news for citizens fearful that arbitrary exercise of ever increasing federal power knows no end. In three recent cases, reports Hanigan, the U.S. Supreme Court trimmed the sails not only of Congress and its obliging bureaucrats but even imposed limits on the Supreme Court itself—as if to remind us that even in a flawed democracy, after all, miracles can still happen.

Also in this issue Contributing Editor Steve Miller wonders if there isn’t a good deal more evidence of "global whining" than "global warming" in the media these days, and discovers some rather shockingly "selective" use of available environmental data, and the fascinating fact that last January was the coldest January in nearly two decades.

Chances are you have read little about last January’s unusual cold temperatures, if anything, but can you imagine the alarm bells that would have been set off on the front page of your daily newspaper if January had been not the coldest January in 19 years but the hottest?

I’m reminded of a best-selling book I was asked to review many years ago when I was with the American Management Association, entitled The Cooling. According to the authors, worldwide temperatures up to that time in this century had dropped so precipitously that a new Ice Age appeared to be inevitable. And as if to remind us of how conveniently "selective" alarmist memories can be, The Cooling made the New York Times Best Seller’s List in 1972. Is there really no one among today’s global warming propagandists who remembers those warnings of an imminent Ice Age only 25 years ago?

We round out this month’s Nevada Journal with six solid suggestions for changing the ground rules governing elementary and secondary education, written by a man at least as concerned about the state of public education today as anyone else in Nevada—Mark Laden, member of the Board of Regents of our own University and Community College System.

Just as we tend to forget that government was not always as oppressive as it is today, and forget that many Americans now worried about global warming were worried about a new Ice Age only 25 years ago, we also tend to forget that in the lifetimes of most of us public education enjoyed the sort of public confidence and support today’s educators can only dream about.

Mindful of imperfect memories, let me also remind you to circle the date of November 15th on your calendar—not the date when some church in Arkansas was burned or when Sir Edmund Hillary climbed anything but the anniversary of the death of Jaromir Vejvoda in his native Czechoslovakia. What? The highly educated, erudite and discerning members of NPRI never heard of Jaromir Vejvoka? I mean, would you fail to honor the memory of the man who composed the "Beer Barrel Polka?"

Ralph Heller is the Senior Consulting Editor of Nevada Journal.


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