Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Night Of The Living Dead Legislation

Over at The Art of the Possible I discuss yesterday's Congressional killing of the bailout bill:
As a child of the 80s, I’m not at all reassured by the alleged death of the Wall Street bailout bill after Congress voted it down yesterday. “Dead. Sure,” I say in a cynical voice. “That’s what they told me about Freddy Krueger. And Jason Voorhees. And every bloodsucking vampire who ever graced the silver screen.” With the president and his pals trying desperately to revive the corpse, I’m sure a bailout will arise from this grave eventually, since our elected officials won’t let a minor detail like “it’s opposed by the majority of American voters” stop them from passing an expensive piece of legislation.
And there's more commentary where that came from, by God. Why don't y'all mosey on over to The Art of the Possible and check it out?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Actual Quote: “No One Did Drugs In 1967”

By Jennifer Abel

Jim Gilchrist, leader of the anti-illegal immigration Minuteman Project, was the dinnertime Keynote Speaker at the CT Liberty Forum held in Bristol, Connecticut on Saturday night.

Gilchrist’s speech described the threat he believes illegal immigrants (whom he calls “illegal aliens”) pose to America, claiming that by 2025 illegal immigrants will outnumber “citizen voters” and ultimately cause America to become “a second Russia” that breaks apart into separate nations based on ethnicity or religion. He later cited “print journalism” as one of the two “worst threat[s] from free speech,” and print journalists as being “worse than a corrupt drug-dealing cop, worse than a bribe-taking politician, worse than a pedophile teacher.”

He did, however, make an exception in the case of this reporter.

Gilchrist founded the Minuteman Project in 2004, after “years of frustrated efforts trying to get a neglectful U.S. government to simply enforce existing immigration laws,” as he says in his biography.

The group’s motto is “Operating within the law to support enforcement of the law,” specifically the law against illegal immigration to America. To this end, the group leads patrols along the Arizona/Mexican border. Detractors have accused Gilchrist and the Minutemen of racist intent, though Gilchrist makes a point of calling the group “multi-ethnic” and says he has no problem with immigrants who come here legally and assimilate into American society.

At the Liberty Forum, Gilchrist said “I see a threat to our native history, culture, language … as I speak right now, in my opinion, there are at least 30 million illegal aliens … in the United States.” Gilchrist said the statistic came from a 2004 Bear Stearns report (which actually gives the number as 20 million; he may have misspoke.)

Gilchrist dismissed claims that illegals are here to do farm work and other jobs not wanted by Americans. “They are not here to pick our strawberries. They are here to pick our pockets.” And he painted a bleak portrait of the future he foresees if illegal immigration is not stopped: Mexican drug cartels will make enough money to “buy our infrastructure,” American “heritage, culture and language” will be degraded, and the country will experience a Soviet-style breakup which Gilchrist says is beginning already.

The “Southwest will be the new Mexico,” Gilchrist said. “Detroit will be the new Islam.” There are already “foreign enclaves” in almost every American city, consisting of people who will not learn English and “will not pledge allegiance to the American flag.”

Despite this, Gilchrist said he does not expect America to descend into an 1860s-style Civil War, due to the differences between modern Americans and antebellum Southerners. Modern Americans have homes, televisions, plenty to eat and families they care about, thus making them unlikely to start a war.

By contrast, old Southerners (with the exception of wealthy plantation owners) had no such attachments. “They had nothing, they owned nothing, so why not go to war?”

Instead of Civil War Two, Gilchrist predicted a country becoming more like Mexico with, as he said, two percent of the population controlling 98 percent of the wealth. (There was no indication he meant this as an allusion to the recent $700 billion Wall Street bailout proposal.)

Gilchrist again mentioned his concern over immigrant drug smugglers and dealers, whom he blames for modern rates of illegal drug use in America. He mentioned his own high school days before the modern immigrant influx: he recalled hearing occasional talk of “reefers” but otherwise, “no one did drugs in high school … no one did drugs in 1967.”

With anywhere from one million to ten million arriving in America each year, Gilchrist said, “We have about 17 years before there are more illegal aliens occupying U.S. territory then there are citizen voters.” Upon reaching this demographic tipping point, Gilchrist predicts that illegals will demand and receive the right to vote, at which point they will enjoy “dual voting rights” in America and their home countries, and vote against America’s interests.

“Five million troops [enter America] per year,” Gilchrist said. “I use the word troops because this is an invasion, ladies and gentlemen … that’s more than the aggregate amount of [personnel in all branches of] the [American] military.”

After continuing in this vein for awhile, Gilchrist reiterated that he and the Minutemen “are not against immigrants. We do not hate immigrants … we will always need immigrants to continue as a flourishing, prosperous nation, but they have to be the immigrants we want.”

Gilchrist wants immigrants allowed in based on their work skills and “integrity and character.” Also, they “must be assimilated … a Mexican, a Vietnamese or an Islamic – they have to become American.”

Eventually Gilchrist segued into a discussion of other threats facing America. “There are limits today to how far you can go with your civil rights” granted by the Founding Fathers. The worst threat from* free speech comes from two sources: the education industry and print journalism.”

Gilchrist spoke mostly of the threat posed by the latter group. “I can’t think of many print journalists in the mainstream media I don’t despise … I think they have a God complex … they’re worse than a corrupt drug-dealing cop. Worse than a bribe-taking politician. Worse than pedophile teachers … they destroy your credibility.” That is why “I get most of my news from talk radio.”

This reporter sat at a table with other forum speakers and organizers, all of whom started laughing. One of them pointed to this reporter and called out “She’s a journalist!”, and Gilchrist replied “That’s different. She’s freelance.” (In the program directory, the reporter described herself as a “freelance journalist” because she thought it sounded better than “unemployed journalist who’d jump on a media job with both feet if anybody offered her one.”)


*Note: A forum videographer made a recording of this speech; if it ever goes online I’ll link to it here. I will also watch it again to see if I somehow, some way, made a mistake whilst scribbling my notes during the speech, and wrote “from” when Gilchrist actually said “to.”

CT Liberty Blogging Part 1

Connecticut gave America the infamous Kelo v. New London decision, wherein the Supreme Court decided it’s acceptable for the government to confiscate your property on behalf of private developers who will make better use of it (with “better use,” of course, to be defined by the government). In New London’s case, the city decided that wealthy corporations would pay higher property taxes than common homeowners, so the city confiscated some lower- to middle-class homes in the waterfront neighborhood of Fort Trumbull, intending to hand the land over to developers.

Michael Cristofaro, one of the Fort Trumbull residents who lost his home, was also the lunchtime keynote speaker at the CT Liberty Forum (ongoing even as I type this). He mentioned in his speech an unpleasant bit of irony: the Clarion Hotel, where the forum’s taking place, was itself built on land confiscated through eminent domain. He didn’t know the details behind that particular bit of confiscation, but in New London, the development company was to be charged only one dollar per year for a lease on 85 acres of prime waterfront property.

The Kelo case wasn’t the first time New London brought the eminent domain axe down upon Cristofaro’s family. Cristofaro’s parents emigrated from Italy in 1962 and settled in New London which, in 1971, confiscated their house with the stated intention of building a seawall to hold back floodwaters.

A seawall would, at least, fall under the “public use” clause allowing eminent domain – except the seawall was never built. An office park now stands on the site of the Cristofaro family’s old house.

“They lied to us,” Cristofaro recalled. “And 35 years later, the whole story started over again.”

The law says that in cases of eminent domain, the city is supposed to pay “fair market value” for the property it confiscates. Cristofaro was offered $60,000 for his house – less than its assessed value for tax purposes. “But in the end, it’s not about the money. It’s about the lack of choice.” Being underpaid for his house bothers him far less than the fact that he never wanted to leave it in the first place.

Today, the Fort Trumbull neighborhood is what Cristofaro calls “85 acres of waterfront wasteland.” (The confiscated homes covered less than two acres of this space; the rest was already vacant.)

Though the houses were razed, the economic development never materialized. (The developers claim economic troubles.) Even if the promised office space and hotels were built, it still wouldn’t have helped the city; New London already has plenty of vacant office space, as well as hotels that rarely have more than 50 or 60 percent capacity. Cristofaro said he’s spoken with New London hotel owners who feel that if/when the promised new hotel materializes, it’ll put them out of business.

The Kelo case led to some alleged “reform” of eminent domain laws at the state level, but in Connecticut these reforms are cosmetic at best. There’s now an eminent-domain ombudsman paid 70 or 80 thousand tax dollars per year; if your house is threatened with confiscation the ombudsman will earn his salary by telling you it’s for a good cause. And since state legislators feel the eminent domain problem has thus been solved, they get very annoyed when upstarts like Cristofaro insist upon raising the issue.

Cristofaro said he once asked Ernie Hewitt from the state’s 39th district, “How would you feel if your mother lost her house to eminent domain?” Hewitt took offense and snapped, “You leave my mother out of this.”


On a more personal note: I’ve been chatting with various liberty-minded folk at the forum, and have been offered the chance to serve as a sacrificial lamb and run as a Libertarian Party candidate in the next state election. I said thanks, but admitted that due to some misguided fun in my youth there’s no way I’d ever survive the vetting process.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gentle Reminder, Gentle Readers

Too bad I never went in for meditation, which in theory would make it easier for me to focus on issues like “freedom of the press” rather than continue to rant about the bailout you and I will be giving Wall Street millionaires. The press-freedom thing is important since (as you may recall) the first annual Connecticut Liberty Forum takes place this weekend, and I’ll be sitting on the Sunday afternoon “Freedom of the Press” panel. I have written (with my customary sense of gravitas) my capsule biography:
Jennifer Abel is a Connecticut-based freelance writer who has written for the Bristol Press and Hartford Advocate. She’s a frequent contributor to libertarian blogs and is currently doing research and interviews for The Art of the Possible. Her opinions can also be found at Ravings of a Feral Genius.

Before switching to journalism Jennifer held a variety of lucrative English-major odd jobs: she taught high school, researched and wrote NASCAR collectors’ guides, and did copywriting for an ad agency and copyediting for a defense-industry research firm. She also put in a brief stint as an editor for (what she later discovered was) a spam-writing company. But considering how many spambot links she’s since had to delete from her own blog’s comment threads, she figures she’s more than repaid that particular karmic debt.
Last-minute registration information is here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bailout Boosters And Pitcairn Pedophiles

This proposed Wall Street bailout has me in such a bad mood I didn’t even try being polite over at the Art of the Possible today, when I compared bailout supporters to the infamous pedophile apologists of the Pitcairn Islands.

And I gave it the title “Bailout Boosters and Pitcairn Pedophiles” because I don’t know how to spell that juicy sound people make when they stick their tongues out and blow the loudest raspberry they possibly can.

LATER EDIT: The essay is archived here.

If a system’s survival requires making innocents suffer so the guilty can prosper, is that system worth saving? I ask in light of the Wall Street meltdown, and the government’s proposal to force people and companies who live within their means to bail out people and companies who do not. For that matter, I pondered a similar question back in 2004, before the housing bubble registered on most people’s radar but after the Pitcairn Island save-the-rapists scandal made international headlines.

Brief recap for those who have forgotten: Pitcairn Island (of Fletcher Christian and Mutiny on the Bounty fame) had a total population of less than 50 people, and no natural harbors where ships could dock. The only way people and supplies could get on and off the island was via “longboats” traveling to and from larger ships anchored some distance offshore.

The town’s seven adult men were the only ones strong enough to handle the longboats; without those men, the island would effectively be uninhabitable. So in 2004, when the world discovered that the men treated all island females as members of their personal harem and repeatedly raped girls as young as 12, the Pitcairn Islanders insisted that their townsmen still shouldn’t go to prison because:

Islanders have expressed concern that if the men are imprisoned, there will be no one to crew a long boat that serves as the island’s lifeline, transporting freight and passengers to and from passing ships that cannot dock along the rocky shore …. some of the island’s women came out in defense of the men, saying that while underage sex did happen, it was consensual and important to the island’s survival. Pitcairn has a permanent population of just 47 …. Professor John Connell, an expert on the South Pacific from the University of Sydney, said even if the men are incarcerated, they likely will be released temporarily when they are needed to crew the longboat. If they are imprisoned and not let out even temporarily, “then it would be a punishment for the whole community,” he said.

I’m just enough of a social Darwinist to think “If a community’s survival depends on keeping rapists happy, the community doesn’t deserve to survive.” A similar principle applies to plantation owners of yore who argued that the South’s agricultural economy would collapse without chattel slavery to bolster it: “If your economy can’t live without slavery then your economy needs to die so a better one can be reborn.”

Now consider the economic meltdown facing America. What caused it? Bad debt, for the most part. Too many mortgage companies made loans to people who couldn’t afford them. These loans, in turn, inflated housing prices to historically unsustainable levels. The old affordability rubric said, “Get a mortgage equal to three years’ salary, after making a 20 percent down payment.” So if you checked local real estate markets you’d find houses selling, on average, for about three or four times the annual salary of area wage earners.

The housing bubble changed that. At the height of the bubble, certain markets (especially in Florida and California) saw prices rise as high as nine or ten times the average area income.

How can anyone afford to buy a house for ten times their yearly wage? They can’t. But mortgage lenders ignored this inconvenient fact and made loans anyway, replacing the old three-year 20-percent rule with a new affordability standard: “Sign here and we’ll loan you all the money you want. Don’t worry about paying it back! By the time the loan comes due, your house will be worth a lot more than it is now, and you can use that equity to refinance your loan.”

The system worked so long as house prices rose faster than inflation. A guy making 30 grand a year can still afford a $300,000 house today if he expects it to sell for $400,000 next year.

Then the bubble popped. That $300,000 house is now worth only $150,000 and there’s few buyers even at that price, because folks in the region make only 30 grand a year, and can’t afford more than 100 grand worth of house. So even a $150,000 mortgage is too high.

Some loans were even worse: remember the California strawberry picker who made $14,000 a year and bought a $720,000 house? That particular house is probably selling for “only” $300,000 or so these days. That’s $420,000 in value vanished from a single house. And another $150,000 gone from that $300,000 house now selling for half price. And then there’s all the other devalued houses across America, and all the inflated loans made to buy them.

That’s the money Congress says must not disappear. That’s the bad debt Congress wants taxpayers to repay. No matter how irresponsible such lenders have been, we’re told they deserve a bailout because they’re “too big to fail.” Despite their demonstrated inability to be trusted with money, we’re supposed to trust them with more.

The Pitcairn Islanders built a status quo so dysfunctional they must kiss the collective ass of a rapists’ clique to maintain it. Island girls are told “The whole community will suffer if you don’t bend over, take it and then get over it.” Coincidentally, that’s exactly what American taxpayers are being told abut the bailout.

“I don’t think the government had a choice but to take these bad debts of the banks’ books,” said Tom Higgins, chief economist with Payden & Rygel, a Los Angeles-based money management firm.

“What makes capitalism work is borrowing and lending. The problem, without this bailout, would have been you would have condemned the economy to a period of halting growth at best,” Higgins added.

Wrong, Mr. Higgins. What makes capitalism work is this: good business models prosper whilst bad business models fail. And inflating an unsustainable asset bubble by making oversized loans to people who can’t afford to pay them back is a bad business model.

Quick Clarification

In light of the small avalanche of fan mail I've been receiving from folks checking out this blog after Googling my name, I'd like to make the following public-service announcement:

I am not the same Jennifer Abel who recently went to Beijing as a member of Canada's Olympic diving team. If you don't believe me, then check out her photograph and compare it to mine. Other differences worth noting: I'm an inch taller than she is, several pounds lighter, considerably paler and (sigh) old enough to be her mother, assuming I started young.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Lovely Spam, Wonderful Spam

For my birthday last week I received the gift of spam. Lots and lots of spam. My e-mail address somehow wound up on one of the seedier servers of the Web, so for the past week I’ve been inundated with offers to meet sexy singles, purchase herbal supplements promising to increase the size of my non-existent “man tool” (exact quote), or earn commissions by helping Nigerian oil ministers transfer wealth off their home continent.

Most of the offers are penny ante scams: thirty bucks to register with the singles service, or fifty for a two-month supply of phallic-promise sugar pills. Dr. Dagogo’s oil-royalties scheme could in theory suck my bank account completely dry, but even then my losses would be limited to what I have right now; he can’t make a legal claim to any of my future earnings.

So if I lost all my IQ points tomorrow and said “yes” to every one of those unsolicited e-mail offers, it would still cost me less than what the government expects my taxpaying self to pay on its bailout plans for Wall Street and the mortgage industry. Which is why, come November, I’ll be writing in a vote for “that guy in Africa who keeps offering to sell me V!agra without a prescription,” because he can’t possibly trash the country worse than our current crop of elected officials is already doing.

Meanwhile, here’s a collection of spam recipes. Eat hearty. High-sodium chemically preserved pig byproducts may not be the healthiest diet in the world, but it’s still better than what the government’s feeding us.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Over at the Art of the Possible I've got a fairly straightforward piece about the political nature of drug crimes.

LATER EDIT: The essay is archived here.

Cocaine is a Hell of a Drug (Political Crimes Edition)

Advice for aspiring criminals looking to reduce the opportunity costs of time spent in prison: if you’re given a choice between selling drugs or murdering a young woman, choose murder so you’ll get a shorter prison sentence. Consider the example of Robert Chambers, the so-called “Preppie Killer” who in 1986 strangled Jennifer Levin to death in Central Park. He got 15 years for the deed, served it, got out and just returned to serve a 19-year sentence for selling cocaine. And that was a plea bargain; he could’ve gone to prison for life.

Fifteen years for killing someone; 19-rather-than-life for selling illicit feelgood powder. If you run a poll asking people “Who deserves the harshest punishment: someone who strangles you to death, or who offers to sell you some drugs?” 5 percent of respondents will say “the strangler” and 95 percent won’t say anything because they’re busy giving you that look folks reserve for stupid questions. Similar responses follow if you ask college students, “Who would you rather have living in your dorm: a guy with a drug conviction on his record or a guy with a conviction for rape or murder?” But rape or murder won’t disqualify anyone from receiving financial aid. A drug conviction just might.

Why should victimless drug crimes result in harsher penalties than those which inflict actual suffering upon innocents? Aldous Huxley explained the rationale in 1932, when he published Brave New World. Check out chapter 10, where the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning explains why Bernard Marx should face harsh penalties for being a misfit who criticizes the system:

“Consider the matter dispassionately, Mr. Foster, and you will see that no offense is as heinous as unorthodoxy of behaviour. Murder kills only the individual – and after all, what is an individual? … We can make a new one with the greatest ease – as many as we like. Unorthodoxy threatens more than the life of a mere individual; it strikes at Society itself.”

In the days of the Russian gulags, those who criticized the Communist regime faced much harsher penalties than those who merely robbed or killed the regime’s citizens. Alexander Dolgun, in his book Alexander Dolgun’s Story: An American in the Gulag, reported that Soviet political prisoners convicted of crimes like “having an anti-Soviet dream” floundered at the absolute bottom of the prison-camp hierarchy, while murderers and thieves reigned near the top.

Why should pot sellers rather than rapists be kept off college campuses? Why does selling coke give a man a stiffer sentence than strangling a woman half his size? What do drug offenders have in common with the anti-Soviet dreamers?

Simple. Any government that cares enough to establish a class of political crimes will care enough to treat such crimes with special harshness. After all, unorthodoxy threatens more than the life of a mere individual; it strikes at Society itself.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Gimme A Cabinet Position

The other day I interviewed for a job I’m not likely to get because my experience doesn’t quite dovetail with what they’re looking for. So I drove home thinking, “Damn. Two college degrees, lots of experience and an impressive clip file … what the hell does it take to land a decent job these days?” Then I read this article in the New York Times and figured it out. “Of course! That’s what I’m missing: connections. If I’d had the foresight to become high-school buddies with a politician I wouldn’t be stuck in this career rut today.”

Gov. Sarah Palin lives by the maxim that all politics is local, not to mention personal.

So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency.

Ms. Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates Ms. Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages.

With the presidential cabinet due to be restocked in a few months, I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that I too love cows. Indeed, many of my friends and former colleagues are cows (assuming they haven’t lost weight since last I saw them). And though I don’t technically belong to Palin’s buddy clique I did send a “friends” request to her daughter’s babydaddy on MySpace. If he accepts it and Palin makes it to the White House, I hope she’ll consider me “one of the gals” and thus worthy of a job leading the USDA.

Unless that position’s been reserved for Ms. Havemeister, in which case I’d like to point out my qualifications to lead other government agencies:

The Department of Energy

I love energy and am proficient in the use of several types: electricity, gasoline, even candles. I’ve also pioneered the adoption of renewable technologies: back in junior high I did that thing where you use a potato to power a digital clock, and today I own several solar calculators and no-battery shake-em-up Faraday flashlights. Also: my late father, a Disabled Veteran, spent most of his Navy career working in nuclear-sub power plants, so I grew up with a respectful understanding of the hazards and potential of nuclear power. I also know how to pronounce “nuclear” (no vowel between the “c” and the “l”).

The Department of the Interior, or maybe the Environmental Protection Agency

I love interior environments, and have visited several of America’s national parks.

The Department of Homeland Security

I love secure homelands. I also love disaster porn, which means I know how to protect the country in case of emergencies. For example: if there’s a hurricane, I’ll tell my fellow Americans to evacuate coastal areas and avoid substandard levees. If there’s a terrorist attack, I’ll tell them to buy duct tape. And if the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts on my watch, I’ll evacuate everybody in America to safe locations outside the ashfall zone (i.e., somewhere east of the Mississippi), and stockpile enough food to feed the country’s population during the resulting ten-year volcanic winter.

The Department of Health and Human Services

I love healthy people, and have ample experience in various human-service endeavors. I’ve even worked on a phone sex line, which is service indeed and suggests I’d be fun to have a beer with, which is a very important trait to consider when choosing your leaders.

The Department of Veterans Affairs

I love veterans, and have already mentioned that my father was one. So was my grandfather, who single-handedly (as he told it) defeated the Nazis in World War Two. If it weren’t for my family you’d all be speaking German right now.

The Department of Education

I love education. My entire educational history took place in public schools; I’ve been both a student and a teacher, giving me firsthand perspective from both sides of the desk when regarding the problems and challenges facing today’s educational – no. Never mind. Where education policy is concerned, I have actual professional experience directly relevant to the issues, which is obviously not what employers are looking for when they hire people for high-paid government gigs.

Besides, I don’t really want to work in education again. Best to focus my energies on jobs I actually desire; if I can’t land another gig like Snarky Staff Writer I’ll gladly settle for something along the lines of Head of the Department of Homeland Security. And I’m not averse to honest competition for the job, either. If you think you’re better qualified than I am for any of these lucrative government positions, feel free to explain why in the comments.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Breaking The Law

Over at The Art of the Possible, I discuss the extensive criminal histories shared by Barack Obama, Sarah Palin and me.

LATER EDIT: Now archived here.

Breaking the Law, Breaking the Law

Welcome to my first post here at the Art of the Possible, which does not run criminal background checks on new bloggers before letting them start. Even if it did I’d be fine, because I never got caught any of the thousand or so times I violated state and federal drug-n-alcohol laws during my misspent youth. It’s perfectly acceptable for post-Boomer Americans with no arrest record to say “Smoking illicit cigarettes, drinking before age 21 … yep, I did it all back in the day.” Even the government says it: Barack Obama used booze, pot and cocaine as early as high school; Sarah Palin smoked marijuana when it was legal in her state of Alaska but still a federal crime; the FBI lets former pot smokers join the agency and arrest current pot smokers. Drug crimes won’t hurt your professional or legal reputation the way other crimes do (so long as you never get arrested).

For example: you’ll never see an FBI agent, executive branch candidate or new blogger here say “As a youngster I: was a recreational arsonist/ held up a few liquor stores/ sexually assaulted some people/ murdered several hookers” without shattering all hope of respectability. When the likes of Barack Obama, Sarah Palin and me admit our history of drug-related federal crimes, we don’t expect folks to think any less of us because we know we only ever broke the laws nobody cares about (so long as you never get arrested).

Drug crimes aren’t the only ones tainting – or rather, not tainting – the reputations of candidates and their families this election season. The Classically Liberal blog points out a subtle hypocrisy surrounding the warm greeting Arizona Senator (and Republican presidential candidate) John McCain gave to Levi Johnston, the teenaged babydaddy of Bristol Palin and future father of Sarah Palin’s grandchild:

What would have happened had the young couple in question engaged in youthful sexuality in Arizona? There the young man would become both a “father-to-be” and a felon at the same time. Any sexual act by an 18-year-old and a 17-year-old is a felony in Arizona, even if the girl’s mother is running for vice president of the United States.

Despite its legal status in other times and places, Levi’s achievement of babydaddy status, like Sarah Palin’s marijuana use, is not/was not illegal in Alaska. And if anyone asked McCain if his home-state versions of Johnston should be investigated for statutory rape, it would be considered an unfair question. Similar charges of rudeness would stick to any journalist who asked Barack Obama or Sarah Palin if they themselves should be charged and arrested for the federal crimes they admitted committing, because everybody knows it’s ridiculous to think less of people who got intoxicated in their youth (so long as they never got arrested).

Nor will you find police launching a criminal investigation into claims that certain online photos depict Bristol Palin violating teen-drinking laws. It would be insane if they did; such an investigation would do nothing to advance the cause of justice. Besides: certain teenage pregnancies notwithstanding, everybody knows people can drink alcohol, smoke pot and still turn out all right.

So long as they never get arrested.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hanna Powering Down

The tattered remnants of Hurricane Hanna just entered my corner of New England. Since I live in a neighborhood filled with aboveground utility poles that fall over if you so much as sneeze on them, I’m giving 60 percent odds that I’ll spend a good chunk of this evening basting in a hot, humid, non-air-conditioned apartment where the rain won’t even let me open a window to let in a little fresh air.

And since the lights have already started flickering a bit, I’d better hurry and post this before losing power. A couple random observations unconnected by transitional devices since I lack the time to create them:

-- They say it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness. As a talented multi-tasker I’m capable of doing both, but considering the temperature I’d rather avoid open flames, regress back to childhood and read by flashlight. At least I won’t have to hide under the bedcovers to do it.

-- If time travel’s ever invented, I’m going to find the guy who first decided that words like “hot” and “steamy” should be synonymous with “sexually appealing,” and slap the stupid right out of him.

-- I sincerely hope a bolt of lightning strikes my next-door neighbor’s hypersensitive car alarm and fries the components right out of it. However, as a kind soul who tries to avoid wishing harm on people, I’m trying to figure out a way this can happen without also frying out the rest of his car.

-- My attempts to do this have met with utter failure. I blame the heat.

-- That said, the worst I’m likely to suffer is a few hours of inconvenience and mild discomfort. Folks in places like Baton Rouge, Louisiana, apparently have it far worse.

Lights flickered again. Rain’s getting loud. I’m turning off and unplugging my computer. See y’all when I get back online.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The 2012 Election: Predictions And Hints

There’s less than two months left until Election ’08 and for the first time in American history, it looks like our next Presidential/Vice-Presidential pairing will be some combination other than “two white males.” Four years from now, if either major party decides to run Two White Males on its ticket this will be hailed as a major step backwards for America’s oppressed classes.

The Republican Party platform will contain at least one plank of psychosexual uptightness disguised as social policy. Perhaps it will still involve gay people. It definitely won’t involve teen pregnancy.

The Democratic candidates will all speak out loudly against the loathsome bills proposed by Republicans. However, when these bills come up before the House or Senate, the Democrats will nonetheless vote them into law.

I’ll be old enough to Constitutionally run for president, yet young enough to still be the Youngest President Ever. I will also have the continued ability to save any ticket from the dreaded “Two White Males” label.

I’ll be old enough to Constitutionally run for president, yet young enough to still be the Youngest President Ever. I will also have the continued ability to save any ticket from the dreaded “Two White Males” label.

I repeated that last paragraph for no apparent reason, although I figure if you missed it the first time it’s a good thing you got a second chance to see it. Ahem.

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