The Common Good
March-April 1998

All the News That's Written to Space

by Ed Spivey Jr. | March-April 1998

It's February and so far you haven't kept a single
New Year's resolution, have you? Not even the one about
setting aside a special time to write in your journal.

It's February and so far you haven't kept a single New Year's resolution, have you? Not even the one about setting aside a special time to write in your journal. ("But The X-Files was really good this week!") Also, because of the ice in your bathtub, you just realized you forgot to turn off the outside water faucet. (No, turning it off now doesn't count for next December. You have to turn it off then, too.)

Admit it, you're already starting to lose your sense of direction for the year, and you need some guidance, some advice to get out of the winter doldrums. (Winter Doldrums Example No. 1: Last night I dreamed I was sitting at a desk balancing my checkbook. That was the whole dream.)

What you need is a mentor, and, if you're like me, when you think of a mentor you think of Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi. But you knew that already, didn't you?

Yes, a lot of people look to the inspiration of Daniel arap Moi, and not just because he has the guts to leave his middle name uncapitalized (who among us has the courage to do that?). But also because, year after year, he has the conviction and the clarity of purpose to rule his nation with the simple belief that a hundred million Kenyans can't be right.

Nope, in Kenya it's Daniel arap Moi who is always right. And despite the bothersome needs of his people he continues to do things his way, with his unwavering vision, his strong leadership, and his secret Swiss bank accounts. This is the kind of man to lead us out of our malaise. (Winter Doldrums Example No. 2: On account of El Niño—or is it Tickle Me Elmo?—it's hard to use snow as an excuse to take off work because it's 65 degrees outside. What is this, London?)

And Now the News...

Editor's Note: The following is a sophisticated international news analysis that may be lost on readers who think, for example, that the phrase "help Rwanda" is from a Beach Boys song. If you are one of these people, we suggest that you immediately go down into the basement and turn off your outside water.

Belated congratulations to Daniel arap Moi, who was again re-elected president of Kenya, a nation of immense promise and huge natural resource reserves that, inexplicably, still has a 14th-century standard of living. But we're sure that's not the fault of the democratically elected president-for-life Moi, or, as his devoted subjects affectionately call him—"please don't imprison us, Mr. President." Moi recently took his fifth consecutive term in office despite protests from meddlesome opposition leaders who reported rampant election fraud and misconduct, including armed soldiers intimidating citizens at voting booths. (Is that wrong?)

Attempts to interview these opposition leaders failed since they all...uh...had to go somewhere. That happens a lot in Kenya.

Moi's many awards of recognition include earning Kenya a coveted place on Amnesty International's List of Really Bad Countries. Coincidentally, an Amnesty fact-finding group recently was lucky enough to experience traditional Kenyan hospitality, which included three days of trying to slowly scoot their bodies around so that they could untie each others' hands and feet and eventually work the gags loose from their mouths. (Amnesty officials were unable to confirm the account for this reporter, even though I never called them.)

Sadly, Kenya's constitution stipulates that this would be the final term for the aging patriarch. But Moi staffers are confident that Kenya's supreme court can find a loophole, particularly if one of the justices were dangled out the window of a high-rise office building. "Oh yes," the judge would say as he watched his pocket change fall to the concrete several stories below. "I'm sure there is a way around the constitution. Can I come back in now?"

President Moi is proud of his decades of achievement and was recently honored with a commemorative bumper sticker: "You think this is bad? Honk if you'd rather live in Nigeria."

Moi's unique approach to incumbency ("I'm not leaving") has impressed U.S. political consultants as they prepare for our own presidential election. They are looking carefully at Moi's innovative three-point approach to re-election:

  • Arrest people.
  • Give jobs to your cousins.
  • Arrest some more people.

Democratic Party officials refused to confirm or deny rumors that Al Gore's election slogan will be "Vote for me and I'll let you live."

However, lobbyists for the National Rifle Association were quick to condemn this get-tough approach to voters since it does not explicitly involve the use of handguns.

And in other international news...

  • NATO officials in Bosnia appeared at a press conference surrounded by dozens of accused war criminals and stated emphatically that they have not been able to arrest any accused war criminals since they couldn't find any.
  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth publicly thanked mourners who again placed thousands of flowers at the gates of Buckingham Palace. She pointed out, however, that Sonny Bono was not a member of the royal family.
  • As the Asian financial crisis worsens, Japan's government denied it was flooding American markets with deliberately underpriced products. They insisted that "a hundred bucks is a fair price" for a new Camry.
  • I know I speak for all of us when I say we want to see more rich guys in high-altitude balloons. What an inspiration to know that someone could be that bored with their life.
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