So long, 1995; what a year you were. Bob Packwood, the Republican "revolution," O.J. Simpson, Oklahoma City--ah, yes, we remember it well.
Onward we march, through the accumulating history of human folly, greed, bad manners, and general goofiness, with the touching faith that next year will be better--a faith founded on the sensible proposition that next year can hardly be worse.
Our own Rep. Dick Armey started '95 off briskly with his January "slip of the tongue" in calling Rep. Barney Frank "Barney Fag." Heh-heh-heh. And it was a Beavis-and-Butt-head kind of year all the way through.
The "Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act" repealed a large chunk of all laws protecting the environment and public health.
The Texas Legislature legalized concealed weapons, and the law has already gone into effect. Happy New Year!
State Rep. David Sibley of Waco said that writing tort reform laws was like "playing pick-up sticks with your butt cheeks--no matter what you do, you mess up everything."
The fine British film The Madness of King George III came to America, and they had to take off the "III" because of concerns about people assuming they had missed Parts I and II.
Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara said of the Vietnam War, "We were wrong, terribly wrong." And for this, he was justly praised. President Clinton, who thought we were terribly wrong 30 years ago, is still being attacked for it. Rep. Robert Dornan, Republican candidate for president, accused Clinton of being a "traitor" for being prematurely right about Vietnam.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich told his televised college class that women "have biological problems staying in a ditch for 30 days because they get infections," and also explained to the youth of the nation that "men are biologically programmed to hunt giraffes."
Selena Quintanilla Perez was fatally shot, and Howard Stern, radio host and best-selling author, used the occasion to announce that "Alvin and the Chipmunks have more soul than Selena" and to play her music with the sound of bullets in the background.
Jim Hamblin of San Marcos, a member of the Texas Constitutional Militia, said indignantly: "They're going to try and silence us. Why are they so afraid of a few hundred thousand people with assault rifles?"
Sen. Bob Packwood's diaries revealed his obsession with his hair ("just the right amount of bounce and body"), his contempt for people who elected him, and his shameless truckling and demands for special favors from lobbyists.
Right-wing Republicans decided as a matter of ideological faith that there is no such thing as global warming. A pox on the scientists.
The 75th anniversary of women's suffrage arrived amid general attacks on welfare mothers and a woman's right to choose to have an abortion.
The AFL-CIO elected new leaders who seem possessed of the novel notion that workers have to fight to get ahead.
George Bush the elder got several million dollars for making a speech in South Korea paid for by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
A bomb left at the Murrah Federal Building killed almost 200 Oklahomans. The suspect believes that the federal government is evil.
Clinton criticized those who spread hatred of the government, which caused the Washington press corps to quit writing about the Oklahoma City bombing and spend the next several days criticizing Clinton instead.
O.J. Simpson's murder trial received so much media attention that an equivalent amount spent on foreign-language instruction would have had us all speaking Turkish by now.
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The Republican crusade to balance the budget without touching either military spending (one-half of the budget) or corporate welfare--while doling out $245 billion in additional tax breaks to the rich--produced quite a strain on the rest of the budget. Medicare, Medicaid, child nutrition, day care, housing assistance, school lunches, assistance to poor and disabled children, summer jobs for inner-city kids, the environment, health and safety regulation, and education were all cut back. Meanwhile, the Pentagon got $7 billion it didn't ask for, more B-2 bombers that don't work, and Star Wars yet again.
This produced an impasse between Congress and the president which caused the shutdown of large chunks of the federal government.
But don't worry about a thing. All those vexatious questions about how to allocate Medicare, Medicaid, welfare money, and so forth will henceforth be in the hands of the Texas Legislature.
Molly Ivins is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Copyright 1996 Creators Syndicate, Inc.