Odds & Ends: Animal Rights Conundrum; Washington Psychopaths; Evil Vegetables; Who Needs the Constitution?

Animal Rights Conundrum, Part I What do you do when a cougar waltzes up to your house and eats your dog? Donald and Nelda Williams of Arbon Valley, ID, didn’t think twice. "I’m not just going to call the Idaho Fish and Game," Mrs. Williams told reporters. "I’m going to shoot him when he’s in my face."

Animal Rights Conundrum, Part II Who do you root for in this one? Florida resident Sandy Parks was walking Bandita, her pet Chihuahua, in December when a starved juvenile red-tailed hawk swooped down and grabbed the dog. Parks kept a fierce grip on the leash as her pup went airborne. "Here I am yelling, ‘Drop the Chihuahua! Drop the Chihuahua!’ she told the Orlando Sentinel. "I am surprised I didn’t scare the hawk away. I had no idea they had that much tenacity. I’ve been hungry before, but I’ve never held on to food that much." Parks smacked the bird on the head and "stomped her foot into its belly. When that didn’t work, the grandmother yanked the leash, and all animals attached to it, into the house, jockeying until the hawk’s legs were lined up with the door jamb. A few door slams later and a wounded Bandita was free. Parks collected her pooch and rushed it to the veterinarian." The hawk was tended to by the Audubon Society.

Please, Don’t Act! Presidential hopeful John McCain blasted the Federal Communications Commission on January 5, saying, "The FCC is notoriously the worst bureaucracy in Washington with the most power. …They don’t act. They’re classic bureaucrats." With all due respect to Senator McCain, the problematic bureaucrats in Washington are the ones who do act.

Night of the Living Think Tank The good folks at Citizens Against Government Waste released a survey ranking Alaska the top state in pork spending per resident last year. Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who has devoted decades to keeping the spigot of federal spending to the Last Frontier open, didn’t contest the findings. Facts are stubborn things, after all. But the Republican solon did have some harsh words for CAGW: "All they are is a bunch of psychopaths that go around and raise money from the extreme right….They are idiots."

Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down! CEI has been accused of a lot, but never of inconsistency on where we stand on issues relating to government regulation of the economy. Not so at the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, a joint project of prestigious think tanks the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute. Last month the Joint Center touted two of its latest policy briefings. The first, calling for a government dictated breakup of Microsoft, was titled, Baby Bills Would be Good News. The other one called for the feds to keep its hands off the Internet. That was titled, Market Should Prevail in Internet Services.

What Do They Have Against Cauliflower? National Review pointed out that Bill and Hillary Clinton were serenaded at Christmas by a California children’s choir which changed the words to a Yuletide tune in order to appeal to the First Family’s peculiar sensibilities: "On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me/ 12 eco-days/ Save spotted owls/ Homes for the homeless/ Food for the hungry/ Produce organic/ No cauliflower/ Seas I can swim in/ Air I can breathe/ All solar power/ No rush hour/ Good guys on TV/ And a world where people are free."

Naturally! The US Postal Service announced that it finished fiscal year 1999 with a profit of $363 million, marking the fifth straight year the post office has finished on the plus side of the margin. Postal officials also announced that they will need to raise the price of a stamp in 2001.

Three Out of Four Ain’t Bad It wasn’t all triumph for the US Postal Service in 1999, though. Postal officials were forced to recall posters advertising a stamp commemorating NATO’s 50th anniversary because they identified the organization as the North American Treaty Organization.

Boo! Just Kidding! Universal Studios is being hauled into court because its theme park’s haunted house is too darn scary. Cleanthi Peters and her granddaughter were spooked when a Halloween Horror Nights employee dressed as a chainsaw murderer (the chainsaw had no chain) jumped out at them. They tried to run away, but slipped on a wet spot. The faux murderer continued waving the chainsaw at them after they fell. Actual injuries are not specified in the suit, according to the Associated Press, but Peters is claiming the ordeal inflicted "extreme fear, emotional distress, and mental anguish."

So the Lord Said to Ted Turner… UN Sugar Daddy Ted Turner has cast off his wife but is looking to take on NBC. Turner, who already owns one network (CNN), is apparently not satisfied. "I’m like Noah. I want two of everything."

Not the End of World As We Know It Doomsday cultists in Indonesia were convinced the world was going to end at 9 am on September 9 of last year (9/9/99). When it didn’t happen, reported Reuters, members of the cult were so incensed they beat three of their own to death. "The members were really mad," a village chief was quoted as saying. So far there have been no reports of similar behavior among disappointed Y2K alarmists.

Exhibit #73,462 in the Case Against Trial Lawyers Bottom feeding trial lawyers aren’t just avaricious. Turns out they’re also lazy, using the same cookie cutter lawsuits for computers that they did with pharmaceuticals or asbestos manufacturers. Trial lawyers have been piling on Microsoft ever since the judge in its antitrust case deemed it a monopoly. Dozens of suits have been filed by prospecting attorneys digging for gold, but many of these are near carbon copies of suits previously filed against other defendants. The Washington Post noted that one complaint contained this sentence: "These arrangements have enabled Microsoft Corporation to exclude other developers of Intel-compatible PC operating systems from obtaining the supply of such generic drugs’ active pharmaceutical ingredient." Another suit refers to the Washington State based computer giant as being located principally "within the state of Texas." Why the confusion? "Like most complaints, this one was filed pretty quickly," said the lawyer who filed it. Laughing, he told the Post, "It will probably require an amendment or two."

Up For the Down Toke A newly elected Green Party member of New Zealand’s parliament is adamantly refusing to give up his marijuana habit now that he is helping craft the nation’s laws. Reuters reported that Nandor Tanczos claims he uses cannabis as part of his Rastafarian religious observation. The dreadlocked MP said, "I certainly have no intention to be intoxicated while being involved in any parliamentary work." That’s too bad. It might help correct some of the delusional ideas embodied in the Green Party platform.

Your Legislators at Work According to the National Journal, the number of speeches in the House of Representatives in 1999 in which Rep. James Traficant (D-OH) said "Beam Me Up": 93. The number of speeches on the House floor in which Rep. Major Owens (D-NY) recited rap poems he had written: 3.

Constitution? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Constitution! Unhappy with what it sees as Congress’s unwillingness to "act" on the question of gun safety, the Clinton Administration has vowed to do whatever it takes to impose its plans to effectively enact new gun control laws, regardless of whether Congress passes any. "We’re not going to rely on Congress," said White House spokesman Joseph Lockhart. "We’re going to find other avenues. It’s our overall sense that this is something the American public is demanding." The traditional method of making laws–requiring them to be passed by a democratically elected congress theoretically expressing the public’s desires–apparently has become an encumbrance to the current regime at the White House.

But What if It’s a Girl? An East Timorese mother saluted the United Nations troops protecting her homeland from pro-Indonesian militias by naming her newborn son after them. Pedro Unamet Rodrigues was born in the public information office of the UN compound sheltered from the orgy of violence and killing outside. UNAMET is the acronym for the United Nations Mission in East Timor.