Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Santa Ashcroft

He Sees You When You’re Sleeping

Meet the latest in securing your homeland: Special Agent Santa Clause. In light of waning popularity for the Patriot Act, General John Ashcroft recently shocked the nation when he announced the appointment of Father Christmas as a key figure in undercover intelligence. The general defended his choice in the face of his detractors, whose harsh criticism denounced the move as a warm, fuzzy public relations strategy, while others claimed Ashcroft’s only goal was to pay off a few years debt of “naughty.” “Kringle’s inherent gifts far exceed our special agent training,” Ashcroft claims. “Note his centuries of cross-cultural experience and such special talents as seeing people when they are sleeping, and knowing when they wake. He crosses time zones and border patrols with nary a fake passport nor jet lag. Consider his natural ability to enter homes unnoticed – these people trust him, leaving him assortments of snack foods, practically begging us to install a hidden wiretap and video feed.”

Ashcroft’s inspired decision was made early in the morning, he tells the local and international press gathered in his kitchen, when he heard a radio show “call-in” Santa admonish little Billy to brush his teeth well, after describing exactly what he had eaten for breakfast. “It was incredible!” Ashcroft exclaimed, caught by camera crews as he donned a frilled apron and baked hundreds of cookies, feverishly pouring glasses of milk to prepare for his visit with Mr. Kringle. “I’m a believer.”

Although Santa’s induction into the government surveillance game was intended to be a secret operation, Ashcroft fell victim to his own patriotic information gathering. The following transcript was recovered from an impromptu and unscripted Instant Message conversation with Winifred Holkum, proud founder and sole member of a Montana-based Santa think tank into which Washington has recently poured millions of dollars of tax dollars.
“ ‘Father’ Christmas, Old ‘Saint’ Nick – all these are positive connotations to a good and loving patriarchal figure that can be manipulated to benefit the security of our homeland,” Ashcroft typed rapidly, using caps, quotations, and emoticons with abandon.

Christmas Morning.
Ashcroft rubs his eyes and sits before a file download, pulling on a child-size Santa hat, he forces it over his pinched forehead, his eyes cross with the effort, a confused gnome. At the North Pole, Santa and his company of elves lie passed out over a teeny-tiny computer. Children awake to empty stockings and naked fir trees standing sadly in empty, cold living rooms, where untouched glasses of milk symbolize soured hopes.
Back at his compound, drunk on eggnog and the prospect of illicit information, Ashcroft glows in the reflected blue light of the monitor and sings merrily, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

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