Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Go Norte, Young Man

And if his insect-borne swelling wasn’t enough trouble at Christmastime, Fidel has to deal with the defection of a prominent former comrade to the welcoming arms of the New York Yanquis. His prospective salary of $32 million over four years assumably represents a significant raise from what he was paid for his pitching in the workers’ paradise. He joins a list of past defectors, including the successful Orlando Hernandez and not-so-successful “Traitor to the Motherland” Andy Morales.

Reach for the Citronella Cigars

The CIA’s genetically engineered mosquitoes have finally started doing their job, though it appears their first victim might end up surviving the attack. Despite the less-than-fatal reaction, the program is expected to expand - Col. Kadaffi, there’s a cybernetic scorpion with your name on it.


Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Government to Mandate Time Machines in All Post Offices

The New Jersey legislature has just voted to require use of a technology that doesn’t exist. The Childproof Handgun Bill will require that all guns sold in the state be equipped with a device that allows only the owner to fire it – that is, once someone creates such a technology. Naturally, illegally-obtained guns used by criminals will probably not end up being similarly equipped. In addition, the device will keep other family members from using father’s gun in self-defense in the event of a home intrusion. As with trigger locks and other safety measures, anything that slows down response time or makes the weapon less accessible puts the potential victims of a violent crime in greater danger. But, Mrs. Brady says, they help keep children from firing guns! Yes, the more you do to lock up a weapon, the less likely it will ever be fired. People who think that private ownership of firearms for self-defense is legitimate at all, though, need to acknowledge the trade-off. “Safety” legislation can make people less safe, sometimes fatally so.


Sunday, December 08, 2002

Still No Recount

The extremely close senatorial election in South Dakota has broken many Republican hearts in the last few weeks, but that hasn’t stopped some party officials from pining away for rescue by their own white knight – credible evidence of electoral fraud. South Dakota’s attorney general is currently investigating allegations from across the state, the most serious coming from Indian reservations in the state, which generally vote heavily Democratic.

Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, except 30 days before a primary election or 60 days before a general election

The much-awaited legal battle between free speech and campaign finance regulation has finally begun in earnest with oral arguments before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia over the McCain-Feingold "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act." Unfortunately for PR purposes but fortunately for the plaintiffs' prospects, former special counsel Ken Starr will be leading the case against the spending and contribution restrictions. Focusing in on one of the reasons for the much-vaunted bipartisan nature of the bill’s passage, Starr said "When you look at the legislative record, what you see is ... the incumbent members of Congress, who supported this legislation, said, ‘we don't like ads. We want control over our campaigns. We don't like people using our names in ads.’ It's really quite staggering. In a free society, if you have a view with respect to a particular law, you can't name a member of Congress or a candidate for Congress?" All the members who voted for McCain-Feingold were by definition incumbents, most of them planning to run for reelection. What could have more bipartisan appeal than hobbling potential challengers while preserving, indeed strengthening, the advantages of incumbency?


Friday, December 06, 2002

Reading the Bans of Government

The Canadian government seems to be having a difficult time these days deciding what to ban. Banning things, of course, is one of the prime functions of government and fringe benefits of political power, so this could end up turning into something of a national crisis. The first ban they’re considering is on the Lebanese group Hezbollah. This plan follows a speech by Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah encouraging true believers to adopt the practice of suicide bombing worldwide and to “not be shy about it.” Indeed – there’s nothing worse than a timid suicide bomber. Progress looks like it’s going to be slow, though, as the government is waiting for official intelligence and law enforcement reports before proceeding. Before proceeding, that is, to seize the Canadian-held assets of a known terrorist organization that has expressly advocated genocide. Wouldn’t want to rush into that rash course of action without crossing all of your Ts, certainly. The Canadian Justice Minister is also putting the brakes on another impending ban, this one on child pornography. He is of the opinion that the legislation moving through Parliament on that topic needs an “artistic merit” exception. That way, if you’re going to sexually exploit children while producing pornography, you’re going to be required to have really nice lighting and a believable plot first. First up under the new law – an all-nude, all-underage performance of King Lear. What could have more artistic merit than that?


Thursday, December 05, 2002

A Merry Centenary Birthday to You

The U.S. Senate’s most senior member is 100 years young today. The man who once played little league with Methuselah’s older brother if finally heading toward the quiet reward of a restful retirement in his hometown of Edgefield, South Carolina. Ol’ Strom has had a colorful career in politics, now spanning over 70 years, that stretched from reform-minded educator to hang-’em-high judge to anti-integregationist Democrat to conscientious conservative Republican to, eventually, racial reconciliator (after a fashion). He’ll be remembered not only for his extraordinary longevity but as a favorite subject for countless morbid Washington jokesters for whom his advancing decrepitude and persistent ass-grabbing were a combination too compelling to resist. This is man, after all, who makes Robert Byrd look vigorous and coherent. A most remarkable individual indeed. So happy birthday, Senator Thurmond. May your next 100 years be filled with as much excitement as your first.