The legislationis not a work of art, either. Anything that involves computers and backgroundchecks?as this bill does for gun purchases?is an abuse waiting tohappen. As computers grow more sophisticated, people find more sophisticatedways to use them?all of them always involving curtailment of liberties.Australia, actually, is the country that pioneered the antilibertarian use ofdatabases. Even in the 1980s, the Australians I hung around with in London woulddescribe the burdens of putting their lives in order before going abroad evenfor a vacation. Everyone who left the country had his name run through a computerat the airport, and there were a whole host of things that could pop up onscreento render you a hostage on Australian soil: back taxes, child support payments,bad debts from years ago, even parking tickets.
It'shighly unlikely that our own well-organized interest groups?let alone ourobscenely efficient government surveillance organizations?will be ableto resist piggybacking on this kind of tracking system. At some point, the rightto bear arms becomes a lot more trouble than it's worth. Which, I suppose,is the point.
Quayle: Smarter Than Gore Everytime Al Gore takes the lead in something, I'm reminded of his similarityto Dan Quayle. Quayle is running a flat-footed presidential campaign?notto mention running out of money?and he'll be out of contention bythe time we hit New Hampshire. But Gore has a flat-footed campaign, too, andhe has a fighting chance at being president. Don't tell me it's becauseGore is smarter. In fact, there is plenty of evidence?not least the 1992vice presidential debate?that Quayle is the smarter of the two. He certainlyhas smarter speechwriters.
In fact,Quayle, though his presidential prospects may already be shrouded in doom, hasgiven the very best speeches of this young campaign. Last week, on the seventhanniversary of his (admittedly overrated) Murphy Brown speech, Quayle issuedan attack on elites in San Francisco. That's the place to do it, of course?metropolitan,multicultural, gay and richer than anyplace else in the country. It's theSister Souljah method. The key thing that made Bill Clinton a better candidatethan either of the milquetoasts he faced was his willingness to propound hisprogram in the face of those who wouldn't necessary like it. He didn'tjust follow the time-honored Republican method of telling the Rotary Club howgood business was and the Southern Baptist Convention how good prayer was andArcher Daniels Midland how good ethanol subsid?