States we never expected to have a good word for. From the Kentucky Supreme Court’s September decision striking down that state’s anti-sodomy laws as unconstitutional: “‘Equal Justice Under Law’ inscribed above the entrance to the United States Supreme Court, expresses the unique goal to which all humanity aspires. In Kentucky it is more than a mere aspiration” (Civil Liberties, Winter).

Just drop some more rhetorical bombs on it–I’m sure we can win with just one more escalation. “We cannot raise a white flag in the cultural war, for that war is about who we are,” unrepentant loser Pat Buchanan advised the suits in the Wall Street Journal on January 21. “Because culture shapes politics, culture is the Ho Chi Minh trail to power.”

Deja vu all over again. “Chicagoans concerned with progress under school reform should know that Head Start almost died an early death because of standardized tests,” warn Judi Minter and John Ayers in Chicago Enterprise (January-February). “Politicians oversold the idea with simplistic notions that Head Start would increase an average participant’s IQ one point a week. Then, only several years into the program, when the tests showed limited growth on narrow cognitive tests, a phaseout of funding was urged and under way. Proponents of the program argued that Head Start was succeeding in areas that were hard to measure–curiosity, motivation, leadership potential and general competence that would pay off later. They asked for more time and more relevant analyses.

“Does this sound familiar? Last month, the release of Illinois’ statewide test scores saw enemies of school reform blaming the reform movement for the city’s lack of progress on the achievement tests….We in Chicago are doing many of the things Head Start did to succeed: empowering new school leaders, revitalizing the careers of many school people, bringing thousands of volunteers to the educational setting, improving the climate at schools and raising ‘patterns and expectations of success’ for our children. This hard work will surely make us proud one day.”

Well, it would certainly be nicer than a machine gun. Sara Lee Corporation CEO John H. Bryan, quoted in BVA Voice (December), newsletter of Business Volunteers for the Arts/Chicago: “Chicago is the one American city that could be defined most of all by the cultural and artistic life it offers its people.”

Hey, no word, no problem, right? One difficulty faced by the nation’s first and only intensive outpatient treatment program for Polish-speaking alcoholics (run by the Polish Welfare Association on North Cicero), according to clinical director Agnes Kowalewicz: “Many times, terms need to be invented in the Polish language in order to create the language of recovery. As heightened awareness of the dangers of excessive drinking and alcoholism have come to the forefront in American society, terms such as ‘codependent’ have taken on new meaning. However, if your native language is Polish, there is no word which easily translates to the word ‘codependent.'”

New horizons in inequality. Paige Cunningham of Americans United for Life on South Dearborn: “It’s unfair…that 90 percent of male executives 40 and under are fathers, but only 35 percent of their female counterparts have children.” (AUL’s interest stems from its contention that the ability to choose abortion has made it easier for women to conform to male standards of not being “tied down” by children.)

Open government–a victim of radiation poisoning. From a January 20 letter from the Evanston-based Nuclear Energy Information Service and three other groups to Governor Edgar: “H.B. 1918’s passage [repealing local veto power over “low-level” radioactive waste dumps] represents the third occasion in the last nine months when a significant change in State radioactive waste law has been introduced and passed literally in the closing hours of a legislative session, without public or legislative committee hearings or scrutiny. This kind of governance may be acceptable in Peking or Baghdad; it is not acceptable coming from Springfield.”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.