- - Sunday, January 4, 2015


The year has barely begun, and most of us are tired of hearing bad news unless it happens to liberals, as occurred in November. A look back at recent times on this date might be in order. The following are factual, up to a point.

On Jan. 5, 1896, physicist Wilhelm Roentgen’s discovery of X-rays was reported by an Austrian newspaper, whose gossip columnist related on the same day that Roentgen’s fiancee dumped him after he quipped that he “could see right through her.” There was no further word on how he reacted to this negative news.

On Jan. 5, 1914, exactly 100 years ago, Henry Ford announced the unheard-of pay rate of $5 a day for his factory workers. Less often reported is his successors’ decision after the introduction of the Edsel in 1958 to cut it to a buck and a half. The Edsel designers got the last laugh, though: “Pre-owned” mint-condition Edsels now routinely sell for $100,000 or more, about the cost of a new Tesla.

In 1925, Nellie Tayloe Ross became the first female governor on Jan. 5 of what was supposed to be the state of Wyoming, which had a population of exactly 36, all of whom were related to Ross and all of whom wore silver-studded cowboy boots, even while swimming. Her first executive order required the men of her state to ask for directions whenever they were lost while driving their Model Ts or riding their horses, or to ask their wives, whichever was more convenient.

In 1942, famed public TV conversationalist Charlie Rose was born on Jan. 5, on the very table across which even now he tosses softballs to lefties while crooking his expressive eyebrows at anyone to the right of Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

In 1969, Brian Hugh Warner was born in Canton, Ohio, on Jan. 5. Indifferent to that town’s claim to prominence as the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Mr. Warner rose to stardom as the ghoulish entertainer Marilyn Manson. Mr. Warner forged his stage name from sexpot Marilyn Monroe and convicted cult murderer Charles Manson, thus combining the cultural obsession with sexual anarchy and its corollary, violence. In 1996, Mr. Manson helped hush skeptics over these being the biblical Last Days by releasing his hit album, “Antichrist Superstar.”

Let’s jump to 1972, when, on Jan. 5, far-seeing President Richard Nixon ordered the development of the space shuttle. It was only later that historians discovered that he had not only secretly booked a flight during the Watergate hearings, but also had asked NASA engineers to devise an escape pod in the shuttle. The pod, which almost certainly never was used, was programmed to land briefly in Nixon’s backyard in San Clemente, California, and then go on as a drone to blow up some guy named Woodward.

In 2000, Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner Doris Meissner issued a ruling on Jan. 5 that Elian Gonzalez, the 6-year-old Cuban refugee living with relatives in Miami, was to be returned to his Castro-loving father in Cuba. Within weeks of his return on June 28, Elian, who by then could name all the characters at Disney World, began wearing green fatigues, smoking cigars and denouncing the “Imperialist swine America.”

Actually, Elian began affecting those behaviors while attending public school in Miami under new guidelines issued by the Florida chapter of the National Education Association. By the time he got to Havana, Elian had added a bandolier to his outfit and memorized the biography of Fidel Castro’s lovable murderer and T-shirt model, Che Guevara.

Last year, Elian turned up in propaganda photos heralding President Obama’s order to end the U.S. embargo of Cuba in return for two shortstops, an old Russian missile and a box of Cohibas. The Russian missile, it should be noted, is powered by an engine from a 1956 Chevy, since Edsels are still hard to come by in Cuba.

That’s it for Jan. 5. May God bless everyone with a safe and prosperous new year.

Robert Knight is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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