Merle Haggard is "proud to be an Okie from Muskogee." And Lynn Rasmussen is proud to be an Okie, too. But the California Department of Transportation won't let her tell anybody. Rasmussen, who was born in Oklahoma, requested space on a sign at a freeway off-ramp to advertise her Okie Girl Restaurant. But Caltrans said no. The word Okie is politically incorrect, a slur on Oklahomans. In California, that is. Oklahoma Gov. David Walters says, "We Oklahomans are proud by any name of our heritage.…If the authorities in California can't help the Okie Girl Restaurant, then we offer her an invitation to come home to Oklahoma."
What's the first thing a people freed from oppression do? Build a casino. In the last couple of years, casinos have opened throughout the former Eastern Bloc from Yugoslavia to Hungary. But Poland is leading the pack. A dozen casinos have opened in hotels and nightclubs throughout the country. Even Warsaw's Palace of Culture sports a casino on the ground floor. Each night the gaming floors are packed with proletarians trying to beat the odds. Just wait until they discover dog racing.
What's the second thing a free people do? They get their MTV. A one-hour show adapted from the channel has been shown on Soviet TV for over a year, and it has been very popular with the nation's youth. But now the music video station is available in the Soviet Union 24 hours a day. It just goes to show that teenagers all over the world like the same things: babes in fishnet stockings and hunky rockers with no shirts.
Ethicist Michael Josephson found that teaching ethics to politicians is like teaching painting to a blind man. During a day-long seminar for California state senators, Josephson told the pols that ordinary working people don't regularly receive gifts as part of their job. But Sen. Diane Watson (D–Los Angeles) pointed out, "We're not ordinary people."
All men should have to pay a "sexual abuse" tax, says German politician Baerbel Tewes. The tax would fund self-help groups for women and children to help "repair the lifelong damage inflicted by men."
Life-sometimes-imitates-a-Cheech-Marin-movie department. During a mass arrest of vagrants in Santa Ana, California, police picked up Alejandro Garcia. After booking Garcia, they promptly turned him over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which whisked him off to Mexico. There was just one problem: Garcia was a legal resident of the United States.
Vice President Dan Quayle has told his staff that they are too brainy. Quayle worried that the eight lawyers and seven Ph.D.s who work for him were spending too much time reading peer-reviewed journals and academic books, so he asked them all to start reading People magazine. I guess he thought that US was just a little too lowbrow.
Environmentalists have a new ally—the KGB. The KGB is, of course, best known for spying, stealing military secrets, and assassinating the enemies of the Soviet Union. But now the agency has publicly pledged to use its resources to fight "ecological crime."
A panel of business leaders has asked the City Council of Chico, California, to require anyone buying a keg of beer to register it with police. The law is supposed to help police crack down on those who serve alcohol to minors and to help stop the parking lot parties at student complexes at the nearby state university. Oh, it sounds reasonable. But then they'll ask for a seven-day waiting period. Then a ban on anything larger than a pony keg. Pretty soon you'll have outright keg control.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".