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It's all relative 

The other day, maybe it was the other week, there was a drug bust in front of a Subway in SLO. I know, I know, big surprise. Getting baked goes hand in hand with jonesing to eat fresh. But this alleged dealer has a 9 to 5 at Caltrans—or used to have one—which is right down the road. No one’s released a name yet and aside from confirming the bust, the dealer’s non-druggy boss is keeping the date and details under wraps.

I guess it could’ve been worse than dealing drugs.

The message to all those who’ve been beaten, bloodied, and robbed in SLO lately seems worse: Don’t worry, crime is actually down. Police Chief Deborah Linden and the Downtown Association said so. Case closed, I guess. They boasted a decrease in downtown crimes after “special enforcement efforts by [Linden’s] department since Sept. 30.” I read this in a Downtown Association newsletter, which is even printed in cute, quirky Comic Sans MS font. Because when crime goes down, adorable fonts must go up.

They’ve figured crime shriveled by 22 percent, but it all depends on your definition of crime. My definition centers more on violence, robbery, and other things that cause actual harm, which is actually on the rise lately. Their definition falls more in the eww-that-makes me-uncomfortable variety: “aggressive panhandling, drinking in public, and urinating in public,” according to the newsletter. Remember how not too long ago association Executive Director Deborah Cash called street kids untidies? And how Linden’s most notable accomplishment is banning Mardi Gras? I rest my case. At least Team Double Debbie (I’m trying out the nickname) is winning the war on unpleasantness for all us timid downtown shoppers.

But cops and association presidents congratulating themselves for eliminating petty crimes while the violent stuff continues to menace is like shaking keys in front of our faces. Ooh, sparkly. Wait, no, damn you Double Debbie!

Statewide, if you haven’t been following the Abel Maldonado soap opera, let me give the quick and dirty: Maldonado—our boyish senator from Santa Maria—pissed off his Republican buddies last year when he helped Democrats pass a budget with included tax increases. Then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger—Maldonado’s cuddle buddy—appointed him to the lieutenant governor seat, filling the hole left by rogue pain in the ass John Garamendi, who refused step in line with Arnie’s adored offshore oil project proposed by Plains Exploration Company. Now, the Dems are pissed that Maldonado got the appointment and they’ve hinted they would sooner lick Dick Cheney’s cloven hoof than approve his appointment. They’ll probably let him have the seat despite the gum flapping, mostly because it’s more useless and anonymous than even the vice presidency.

Here’s what’s really going to happen: Behind the curtains the Dems are going to negotiate a deal with Maldonado and ensure he’ll use his dual position as a state lands commissioner to keep the PXP project down. They’ll make sure he helps approve a budget that increases taxes because a $20 billion deficit can no longer be patched with IOUs and furloughs, you overpaid suit-and-tie morons—sorry, went off track a bit there.

Maldonado will happily make the deal because he was probably going to vote that way anyway. And with his Rep buddies still all huffy about his last budget vote, he’s still on political timeout with no chance of winning the support of his former chums if he tries for another office. Plus it will give Arnoldonado some much needed spooning time.

The budget will still suck.

I was wrong

Last week I said it’s insane to think global warming is a hoax. Soon after that column ran I started to think, “Maybe I’m wrong.” I thought this because some of you told me so.

“Are you seriously blinded by dreams of solar panels and unicorns?” one of you asked me. I am by the way. Mostly the unicorns.

Now I’ve changed my mind. Global warming is not only not real, I’ve decided, it’s a fiendish scam by the green-energy tyrants to create panic and hysteria in order to hawk unnecessary solar panels and wind farms to us delusional, meek Al Gore acolytes. How could I have been so blind? The green energy sadists got together and stirred up the biggest pot of bullshit ever conceived that would surely send us blubbering fools running to kiss their feet with tears in our eyes and cash in our palms. They’re far more crafty and have much more clout than Big Coal and Oil, after all.

   I also got it wrong about gay marriage, or maybe I’m just not as tapped into the community as I thought. Flip back a page or two and check out the online poll response. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Did you notice that the number of responses is much higher than the usual abysmal turnout? Also notice that the top answer is keeping marriage between a man and a woman? (It was when I last checked.)

For those who suffer from empathy, the idea might seem silly that people in want of equal rights—that won’t harm anyone else—are being denied those rights out of fear they’ll destroy marriage.

The Center for Disease Control puts the national divorce rate at about 50 percent. Since marriage is still largely confined to
heterosexual couples, it’s safe to say the biggest threat to marriage is when heterosexuals get married—at least the half of them driving the divorce rate. I used to think we should not only make homosexual marriage legal, we should make it mandatory.

“Here me out,” I’d argue naively. “Your first marriage can be heterosexual, and if it works out, great. But if it implodes, the next go around you have to go gay. It’s basic science. We need a control group and a variable before we can safely close the books on this tired debate. On the plus side, it would give Pat Robertson and Billy Graham a much-needed excuse to tie the knot.”

At least, that’s what I used to think.

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