Real Reform

     I had a high school art teacher who had a great idea for government reform.
     Mr. Kurtz said that every congressman and senator who proposed a new law should have to do it on national TV, and that all the voters should have a box on their TV set, by which they could vote on it immediately.
     If the voters approved, the bill could be submitted to Congress.
     If not, not.
     If voters thought the bill was pointless, or self-aggrandizing, or stupid, they could push a third button, and the senator, or congressman, would be electrocuted. Immediately.
     “It’ll cut down on the bullshit,” Mr. Kurtz said.
     I agree with Mr. Kurtz.
     The first lawmaker who should Take The Test, and be hooked up to jumper cables, is Oklahoma state Senator Ralph Shortey.
     Shortey, a first-term Republican from Oklahoma County, wrote and introduced Oklahoma Senate Bill 1418. It has no co-sponsors. Here is Shortey’s bill, in its entirety:
     “An Act relating to food; prohibiting the manufacture or sale of food or products which use aborted human fetuses; providing for codification; and providing an effective date.
     “BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA:
     SECTION 1. NEW LAW A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 1-1150 of Title 63, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:
     No person or entity shall manufacture or knowingly sell food or any other product intended for human consumption which contains aborted human fetuses in the ingredients or which used aborted human fetuses in the research or development of any of the ingredients.
     “SECTION 2. This act shall become effective November 1, 2012.”
     I called Mr. Shortey’s office this week to ask him how his bill was doing.
     Shortey’s executive assistant Jacqueline Barbee answered the phone herself.
     Here is a lightly edited report of our interview.
     Me (K): Does Mr. Shortey really think this is a problem?
     Barbee: Yes, that’s the reason he introduced the bill. He’s done some research on it … and it has more to do with flavoring.
     K: People are using human fetuses to flavor food?
     B: That’s what I understand.
     K: Who’s doing it?
     B: I couldn’t say.
     K: What sorts of food?
     B: I couldn’t comment on that either.
     K: What did Mr. Shortey do before he ran for the Legislature?
     B: I’m not sure. … I just know he was in the oil business.
     I hate to blow Ms. Barbee’s gig with her boss, but her boss is a moron.
     If Mr. Shortey can provide me with proof that anyone, anywhere, ever, has flavored any food with a human fetus, I will kiss Mr. Shortey’s rosy red ass.
     Wine, perhaps?
     The Wine Spectator gives it a 97: It has a fresh nose with notes of raspberry jam and a smooth umbilical finish.
     For the record, my stepfather, who died last year, was one of the world’s top flavor chemists. We discussed flavors often, for more than 30 years, because Ira was an expert, and I love to learn about anything from an expert.
     I spent many hours with Ira last year, on the last good day of his life. On that day, Ira told me a long, interesting history of the flavor business.
     I wish Ira were alive today, so I could interview him about Oklahoma S.B. 1418, and so Ira could explain to all of us, in chemically precise terms, exactly how big a whore Mr. Shortey is, and how big an idiot.
     And I would like to tell state Sen. Shortey, for Ira, and for myself, that Mr. Shortey is out of his mind, and should be hooked up to jumper cables as soon as possible.
     Lots of people hate abortion.
     But to suggest that flavor chemists are using human fetuses to flavor our food is an accusation so vicious and unfounded I can only compare it to things that happened in the Nazi era.
     State and national news services, fishing for meat in Mr. Shortey’s vegetable brain, suggested that he introduced his bill as a way to fend off stem-cell research.
     Not that stem-cell researchers eat fetuses.
     Mr. Shortey denied that accusation, though he does oppose stem-cell research.
     I promised Ms. Barbee I would send Mr. Shortey this column, and I will.
     I will publish Mr. Shortey’s response in its entirety in this space, if he sends me one, and if it is no longer than this column. If it is longer, I will edit it lightly, and publish it here.
     I ask Mr. Shortey to tell us all: Who is flavoring foods with human fetuses?
     What foods are they flavoring with it?
     If Mr. Shortey cannot answer these two simple questions, and cannot explain to us in plain English why he introduced such an inflammatory and stupid piece of legislation, I ask Mr. Shortey to kiss my rosy red ass.

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