I rarely hear of strikes now, except those that end in disaster. None of the unions I represent has gone on strike in ten years, and I wonder if any of them ever will. Until the Eastern Airlines strike this year, I thought I might never see a strike again. Strikes in the United States last year fell to their lowest level in four decades. In 1974, which was no great year for strikes, there were 424 of them. In 1988 there were just 40, which is about the same as the number of prison riots. A few months ago I saw my friend V., who is a lawyer with the Mine workers.
One in 28,000 would be a pretty good failure rate for a condom manufacturer. It’d be a spectacular for a method to prevent prisoner recidivism. But in fields like nuclear deterrence and ecological disaster prevention, one little mistake can spoil the whole darn program. What is happening in Prince William Sound is a horrible catastrophe. The place looks even worse than Boston Harbor did in those Bush for President TV commercials. Tens of thousands of oil soaked birds and animals are dead or dying, but that’s only the beginning.
Despite his pee-pants performance in the Omaha debate against Lloyd Bentsen, it looks as if Dan Quayle, 41, will be president one of these days. Consider the politico-actuarial probabilities. Assuming the Republican lead endures, the junior senator from Indiana will be elected vice president. This alone will give him an even chance of becoming president. Three out of the last five presidents were vice president first. Seven out of the last ten vice presidents have ended up heading a national ticket, and four (five if you presumptively count George Bush) got all the way to the Oval Office.
In early February 1984 E. Robert Wallach, a close friend and legal adviser of Edwin Meese, paid one of this occasional visits to the Bronx headquarters of the defense contractor Wedtech, a company that has since grown infamous for bringing and corrupting its way to fabulous success. Only a few weeks before, on January 23, President Reagan had announced the nomination of Meese to replace William French Smith as attorney general.
Even in the context of the Supreme Court tussles that have provided political entertainment since at least the 1930s, the 1987 saga of Robert Bork, Douglas Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy broke new ground. What made the play rougher this time was the heightened consciousness of the power stakes, a more aggressive deployment of the interest groups, and a great sophistication in media use. If the overworked term “watershed” still conveys some meaning, it applies here to the future direction of confirmation politics.
Nuclear power is on its way out in the United States. The current technology has failed in the U.S. marketplace, and it will not be revived. Advocates of nuclear power will, for a while yet, be able to point to nuclear power's ever-increasing share of electricity production. And, to be sure, a few more nuclear power plants will begin operating each year for several more years. Such controversial plants as Seabrook and Shoreham may even come on line.
The odds are still against it, but Costa Rican president Oscar Arias just might end up deserving his Nobel Peace Prize, He has given gratifying early indications that he will not rest on his laurels and settle for mere token moves toward democracy and stability in Central America, but will demand substantial action, especially from the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. However, Arias needs help from Washington, and he is getting all too little of it.