Thursday, January 13, 2005



Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's son Mark was free yesterday after pleading guilty in South Africa to charges of supplying money to be used for a helicopter that plotters intended to use to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea. He was fined $506,000.

The story that we're to believe is that Mark Thatcher was a dupe. He thought he was providing funds -- two installments of $275,000 -- for commercial purposes. Instead, mercenaries were going to topple President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled Equatorial Guinea for a quarter century.

You see, ol' Marky Mark (or Sir Mark as the pretentious prefer to call him) seems to have spent his adult life in various sorts of trouble. He had to settle a civil racketeering lawsuit in the US in 1987; he faced charges from the Internal Revenue Service after a home security company went bankrupt; and in 1994 Britain's Parliament investigated him for alleged arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Iraq. While this is his first conviction, I'm sure if you and I were Republicans and he were being charged with marijuana possession, we'd be arguing for life imprisonment because of his long record of prior arrests and history of general trouble-making.

My first thought is that when he gets back to Texas, I want to cold-call this guy immediately, maybe sell him a parcel or two in Glengarry Glen Ross, or hook him up with some of the goods I'm spammed with every day. I'm always amazed when folks with money are "duped," because folks with money are supposed to be sharper than that. The man's mother was Prime Minister of England, for crying out loud.

But then, if you read more, you discover that his wife and two children left South Africa upon his arrest. The wife is from Texas. (She's the daughter of a used car salesman, which probably explains why this mook appealed to her.) Thatcher is on his way to this country, to live in the same state in which our president once denied stays of execution. Maybe Thatcher is hoping to study the master; all President Dumbya got for overthrowing a nation for his own purposes was re-election and a new puppy.

I don't know. It seems to me that if we're going to allow Texans to marry foreigners and give them sanctuary, we'd be better off marrying Mexican immigrants, who at least will do an honest day's work.

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