So Jeb has a problem with the Supremes reviewing the constitutionality of killing someone with huge amounts of electricity? Governor Bush is peeved that the high court brings up that annoying Eighth Amendment and that a review will stop the state-sanctioned murders of inmates for a few months.

Cruel and unusual? he asks. Barbaric yes, but cruel? It must be annoying that Old Sparky is now throwing off political smoke after setting one inmate's head on fire. What a mess! The hard-liners in his party are sticking with Sparky and refusing to budge. That presents a problem: How can tough-on-crime Republicans take credit for executions when there are none?

So now comes Rep. Terry Stafford (D-Wilton Manors) to clean things up and make the killing a little more palatable for the voters. After quickly reviewing how far we have come as a civilization from drawing and quartering to electrocuting, this historian sees the logical next step as lethal injection. The quick, clean (smokeless) technique makes everyone a little less queasy.

But after viewing an eerily efficient lethal injection in Texas, we feel the citizens of Florida should be shown executions on television. After all, you allow it, so you should come face to face with the victims of state-approved retribution.

Not likely to happen. Our evidence: The Corrections Department is already making noises about keeping journalists away from inmates and their sides of the story. The department feels setting up interviews with inmates is creating a burden on its staff. Since inmates seem to be dying in custody, we can see the staff is burdened by something, but this seems like a bit much.

The department's leader, Michael Moore, would rather do the public's business in private. We assume the televised execution is out of the question.

We occasionally hear from our foreign correspondent, who happens to be on assignment in Paris. His dispatch:

One can learn much at a sidewalk café. We are perched along the fashionable Boulevard St. Germain at an establishment once favored by Sartre, and it seems like yet another American invasion is plaguing Paris. We're sorry to say that the stain of graffiti (even on statues!) is evident, as are roller blades and the ubiquitous cell phones. (It seems the overly chatty French have discovered a way to keep talking with no one near.) Unfortunately those ghastly platform shoes have now reemerged on the Continent. The big clogs not only look horrible, they give leggy Parisian women an awkward gait. We can report that achingly beautiful women are still in abundance.

The French are also fretting they'll lose some of their individuality among the new Euro community. Not to worry. The culture here is so strongly imbedded deep in the soul of France that nothing could shake it loose. And it's not just art and fashion; malls are hardly making inroads, and thankfully it remains that the smaller the restaurant the better.

What is changing is the famous snooty attitude, at least among many service people. While being whisked along like the mistral wind on the high-speed TGV train, we noticed that the conductors now speak English.

The self-centeredness remains, and that, coupled with a sense of style and history, has dictated a preservation of all things French. The graffiti can be cleaned, and the blader fad will roll by, but this cell-phone thing might be tough to kill. We order more vin rouge.

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Tom Walsh
Contact: Tom Walsh