Saturday, August 2, 2008

Neocon Central

Above: This is no way to start your day.

I am terrified to walk the streets around the building where I work.

At any minute, I may be invaded in the name of DEMOCRACY.

I knew that working in downtown Washington D.C. would probably mean I'd see political figures walking around, but I wasn't prepared for this: in the last two days, I have been innocently walking down the street, only to look up and find myself being stared down by the dark heart of neoconservatism.

It started on Thursday. Swamped at work, I'd taken the Metro in early so that I could be at the office by 8. Understandably, I was dead tired, as 8 a.m. is a time when no decent person should be awake. Or, for that matter, running into any of the architects of the Iraq War.

As soon as I stepped out of my Metro station (Farragut North, on the Red Line) and turned right to head for my office, I see a fit older guy who looks very familiar walking right towards me. He's by himself, and his jacket is off (it's fucking hot here these days). As he walks right past me, we make eye contact, and that's when I finally recognize him: former two-time Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (remember, he held the post under President Ford, too).

Left: Rumsfeld brings sexy back.

I was flabbergasted. I thought about saying something, but he was gone before I could yell "Yeah dude, really great call on trying to run a war with an undermanned, undersupplied fighting force, and then not planning at all for the aftermath of said war, and also for not paying the attention that you needed to to the conflict in Afghanistan. You're a shitty administrator, and your former Presidential aspirations were pathetic and laughable!" So that kind of sucked. Also, it wound up being a shitty day at work, because honestly, how could a day that starts with Rumsfeld end well? I'm just glad I got through it without being put at the bottom of a naked pyramid.

I'm not sure what he was doing around there, but he must have been attending some event at the Mayflower Hotel, which is directly behind my building. The Mayflower Hotel is a popular hotspot for political events; a while back, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had a hotly-publicized powwow there after she conceded the nomination to him. There were lots of women with pink signs outside. Also, the Mayflower Hotel is where Elliot Spitzer used to have sex with his really, really expensive prostitute. The place was crawling with Secret Service all week.

But my adventures in neoconservatism weren't over for the week. (You know you're having a bad week when Rumsfeld isn't even the worst thing that happens to you.) Yesterday, after another shitty day at work (funny how when you do election-related work, your bosses just sort of go apeshit when the election gets to be 90 days away; all of a sudden they want all us attorneys filling in all sorts of absurd spreadsheets so they can track what we do), I took off around 6. I had the choice to go home, or to head to my bank so that I could deposit a reimbursement check for $14.12. Since I now live in abject poverty, I opted to go deposit my check. As I headed for the bank, I stopped at the curb, waiting for the light to change so that I could cross Connecticut Avenue. And who suddenly pulls up next to me but the Man with the Moustache, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, wearing his characteristic look of shaggy-haired rage?

Left: John Bolton demonstrates what he would do to the United Nations if the United Nations had a neck.

We stood next to each other for a good thirty seconds, and, again, I wanted to say something, but the man was obviously seething (he's probably still fuming at the fact that we are currently in diplomatic negotiations with Iran instead of blowing up the U.N.), and I feared that if I said anything, he'd go into a berserker rage and cut me to shreds with his adamantium claws. I said nothing, and eventually we crossed Connecticut Avenue together, him probably thinking "This godless liberal probably can't wait to say something about my filthy, unhygienic moustache," and me praying really hard that this wasn't the moment that God decided to smite Bolton with some holy lightning; I don't want to be collateral damage to the surgical strike on Bolton, no matter how reprehensible the man is.

We eventually parted ways, and I deposited my laughable little check, and then I headed to the Metro, and managed not to run into Paul Wolfowitz the entire way.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Congress is Awesome

That's what it boils down to.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Dark Side of Florida

Above: Something is rotten in the state of Florida.

So sometimes being a civil rights attorney is not all that fun. Sometimes you have to do some grunt work. Me, I've spent the week plugging numbers into a huge spreadsheet. Actually, that's not true. I spent the week making sure an intern plugged those numbers into the spreadsheet. We don't pay her.

Still, the work is not always sexy. (By the way, as an attorney that has seen many a sexual harassment case, it is my advice that you do not refer to your work--or to anything or anyone in your office environment--as "sexy." You should draw the line at saying that your work "looks very nice today.") But even the drudgery can sometimes turn up something interesting. And yesterday it did.

In the law, rarely does anyone come to you with a smoking gun. You'll rarely find some memo from a Secretary of State saying "And for the month of July, I'd really like a progress report on how we're going to get all the black people off the voter rolls by November. Remember, people, we're only 124 days out! Let's get McCain elected here!" The way you find out the dirty stuff that's happening is by poring over thousands of documents in the hope that someone somewhere put something down on paper that leads us to something juicy. And as we were going through three boxes of call logs from the Broward County Board of Elections in Florida, we certainly found something juicy:

Elections in Broward County are being supervised by evil Jedis.

Yes, that's right. If you go vote in Broward County in the fall, your precinct table may well be manned by a Sith Lord, a disciple of the power of the Dark Side of the Force. I have unearthed a call log that reveals that during the 2008 primaries, a certain "Darth Peterson" called County headquarters to run an address check on a Broward County voter.

This has huge legal ramifications. Supreme Court followers will surely recall that that august body has previously ruled that the mere presence of Sith lords at polling places constitutes prima facie evidence of voter suppression efforts. See Organa vs. Palpatine, 456 U.S. 1657 (1999) ("Nothing has quite so efficacious a detrimental effect on the exercise of the franchise than the ominously pregnant hum of a lightsaber."). Now, with the Supreme Court's new right-leaning composition, legal experts are predicting that the Court is itching to overturn that rule.

"Scalia was in the minority in Organa, as you'll recall," said Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, "and I'm certain that he wants a second bite at that apple. And you know that Alito is very much to the right of former Justice O'Connor on this one. Back in 1993, when he was still on the Third Circuit, he ruled that Imperial Stormtroopers had Eleventh Amendment immunity from civil damages awards in Bivens actions for excessive force. He even went so far as to add dicta to the effect that that outcome would remain the same 'no matter how many Bothans died in bringing the Court that information.'"

Left: A 2004 photo of Broward County poll workers. We assume that that's Darth Peterson on the far right.

Preliminary investigation into reports of this Darth Peterson have yielded troubling results. The Establishment Clause ramifications of Peterson's repeated "I find your lack of faith disturbing" comments alone make this Constitutionally problematic, and reports that Peterson was Force-choking voters pulling the lever for Hillary Clinton require immediate attention.

Florida: if it's not one thing, it's something else.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Supreme Court Roundup

The Supreme Court is taking no prisoners these days, handing down rulings left and right that are sure to piss someone off.

A month ago, the upheld the constitutionality of Indiana's requirement that voters show government-issued ID when they go vote, pretty much relying entirely on the fact that, back in "Gangs of New York"-era New York, machine politicians paid people to vote multiple times. Never mind that this type of voter fraud seems to be non-existent today, or that the law results in travesties like busloads of nuns being turned away (by other nuns!) at the polls because most nuns don't get driver's licenses. I think that it is safe to say that if you just issued a ruling and it is turning nun against nun, you fucked that ruling up.

A few weeks ago, they ruled that the prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay could appeal their detention in federal courts through the right of habeas corpus, which Congress and the President had done away with via the Military Commissions Act, basically reminding those two branches that, hey, guess what, you can't just, you know, suspend the law and shit. This pissed off people who think this is going to mean that a bunch of terrorists are going to be set free to blow us all up (Justice Antonin Scalia falls squarely into this camp. The believing they'll blow us up camp, not the actual blowing us up camp. To my knowledge. He is an angry jurist.) It also "pissed off" John McCain, who probably secretly agreed with the decision (one would have to think that a former prisoner would have a soft spot in his heart for judicial review, which was not available to him, as the U.S. has yet to open up a District Court in Hanoi), but figured it would be politically expedient to decry it.

They've kept the ball rolling this week. In a stunning double blow to all Marine Wildlife-Americans, the Court knocked back the punitive damages that Exxon got smacked with for the Valdez debacle from $5 billion to $500 million, and also decided to take up a case from the Ninth Circuit in California (read: it accepted the case so that it can overturn the decision some time next year) which will result in the Navy being able ignore the Coastal Zone Management Act so that it can conduct all sorts of sonar exercises that will cause "behavioral disruptions" and hearing loss to whales and dolphins. So basically, dousing all sorts of wildlife in raw petroleum is now cheaper than ever, and we'll be driving whales and dolphins deaf and crazy so we can be ready for when those terrorists attack us with their terrorist submarines! Who cares, you can't hear anything underwater anyway, right? So who cares if whales and dolphins are deaf? You know who was deaf? Fucking Beethoven, man.

Michael Chertoff also got a free pass to ignore environmental regulations when the Supreme Court declined to take a case where the lower courts let Homeland Security waive environmental regulations so that it could build its awesome border fence (built to keep Lou Dobbs's night terrors at bay) without worrying about whether it cuts rivers in half, or how many folks' properties it runs through. But it's all good, because as the Cold War taught us, big-ass walls work!

Also disappointed by recent rulings were vengeful, raped babies, who were very upset that the Supreme Court's liberals said it was unconstitutional to execute someone for raping a baby. Both presidential candidates came out against the decision, because, I mean, how can you be running for president and be for baby raping? Baby raping polls very, very badly.

Also, it is very likely that today or tomorrow, Justice Scalia will take a minute to inform us, while striking down D.C.'s gun control statute, that we need all the guns we can get in order to be safe from the Redcoats. I'm calling it right now.

Update: About 10 minutes after I posted this, Scalia did actually come down from the mountain armed with an opinion opining that we do indeed have substantial Constitutionally-protected rights to bear arms.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My New Job is Strange

Not only because it's staffed by people who are really, really, really, REALLY into racial justice (I've been forced to put up a very ugly racial justice-themed calendar in my office--nothing like a new picture of some random march or rally every month to really help the time fly by), but mostly because of that thing you see in the picture, which is right outside my office, which, by the way, is so far from a window that I have to pass by about 6 other offices just to be able to see the door of an office from which you can see a window. They call my enchanted corner "the South Side," which in most cities seems to be code for "the ghetto."

In any case, thing in the picture above turns out to be a very sophisticated mousetrap. Since we are a racial justice organization and therefore love everyone and everything, it was at some point decided that mice should not die horrible deaths at our hands. Therefore, the traditional spring traps you see in cartoons were out of the question, and the decidedly horrible glue traps that force you to affirmatively kill the mouse yourself were also ruled out.

So they went out somewhere and bought that thing, which apparently works as follows: the little box is somehow suffused with mouse pheromones, which lures mice into the box, after which they can't escape. So basically, this thing lures mice in there by reeking of mousesex, and then the mouse gets in there and can't get out, all the while trapped by itself, with no opposable thumbs or appropriate reading materials, in a chamber full of sex hormones that will drive it crazy until somebody sees him and releases him into, presumably, the wilderness that is downtown D.C.

We haven't caught any mice since I've been here, but I can assure you that when we do, I'm not getting anywhere near the releasing of the sex-crazed rodent.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Sometimes you need to make a change.

While life here at the Hacienda is placid and idyllic, and interrupted only by my monthly fights with various telecommunications companies, it became clear that it was time for Don Paco to give up the life of luxury and plunge back into the thick of things. That being the case, I hereby announce the bittersweet news that I will be leaving these fair shores to go over the ocean to Washington, D.C., where I have accepted a job doing voter rights work. That’s right, Don Paco may soon be suing an election official in a state near you!

The job doesn’t pay tremendously well, but do you remember Katherine Harris, the Florida Secretary of State in 2000? Didn’t you ever wish you could have sued her? I may well get the pleasure of suing whoever the new Katherine Harris is, which is compensation in and of itself.

But Don Paco, you may ask, what does this mean for your sporadically-updated and mildly amusing website? Never fear, for it shall live on. I make the move this week, and many things—including my computer—will require shipping, and it may take a while to get settled in. So during the next few weeks, there will be little to no action here. Then I will hopefully do a slight site redesign and get back to cranking out new updates for the three of you that read this.

I am leaving my faithful dogservant Santiago in charge of the Hacienda, which he is not too thrilled about, an opinion he has taken to expressing by defecating on hard-to-reach carpeted areas. I would threaten him with a sacking, but he has the most seniority of all the staff, and I would not want to antagonize the union. And really, he shits because he cares, so it’s really the thought that counts. Plus the last few times I haven't had to be the one to clean it up.

And so for the moment I leave you with this picture of the campaign headquarters of San Juan Mayor Jorge "El Gran Gansini" Santini, who for some reason seems to be trying to get re-elected by... looking like he's ready to come over and give you a good fucking? Is the man fixing his tie or fixing to give it to you Santini-style? You be the judge, but I just want to say that when I look at that poster, I immediately experience an irrational fear of being impregnated. Also, thank the Lord that Rudy Giuliani didn't think of this first.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

There Goes the Neighborhood

Urban decay is a terrible thing. Hard economic times have hit Puerto Rico, and you can see the signs of it everywhere. The street where the Hacienda is located is no exception. A few blocks from the Hacienda’s palatial grounds, there is a house that has been abandoned for some time. The likely scenario is that the owner is asking too much for it given the repairs it needs (the houses on this street being of a “classic” vintage). Perhaps it is tied up in an inheritance dispute, which would bode ill, given that the complexity of the estate provisions of Puerto Rico Civil Code and the lumbering inadequacy of our local courts would give rise to the inference that the property dispute would most likely be resolved at around the same time that we settle our political status questions. In either case, the fact remains that there is an abandoned house on our street, and now the wrong element has moved in.

You see them out in the yard in the afternoon, just lazing about, not working, flaunting their grass for all to see, their eyes all red and bloodshot. They reproduce like rabbits, so you can’t even know how many offspring are running around; who knows how many of them are squatting on that property. And no one has ever seen any of them leave the property and go to work.

You know who I’m talking about.

That’s right, you guessed it—wait, what? Seriously? Wow, I had no idea that you were such a racist. I’m very disappointed in you.

I’m talking about rabbits!

Yes, the house down the street has been colonized by a clutch of rabbits. As I was walking down the street a few days ago on my way to go jogging at the nearby track that I sneak in to through a hole in the fence (which they’ve simply just stopped repairing because someone—not me—always opens it up again), I looked in the yard of this abandoned house and realized that it was teeming with rabbits, all just sitting there munching on all the overgrown grass.

Now, you may not be familiar with Puerto Rican fauna, but we don’t just have feral rabbits running around. I mean, I was walking around and I saw all these white rabbits just chilling in that yard, my first thought was to look around for Alice and to wonder whether I’d done things I couldn’t recall when I’d been in San Francisco. But other than seeing those rabbits, everything else remained normal. I could not taste colors, I could not hear smells, my feet did not turn into angry marshmallow rhinoceroses, and my mother, who was with me at the time, could also see the rabbits (but then again, she’s probably an unreliable witness, because God only knows what she was getting up to during the late 60’s-early 70’s.).

My mother was thrilled to see those rabbits (perhaps because of a previous dalliance with a WHITE RABBIT? We may never know), but I respectfully disagree. These rabbits, I have concluded, are Bad for Puerto Rico, and possibly even Bad for America, like the show “24.” Here is just a brief list of why these rabbits need to go:

- They shit all over the place.
- They don’t pay taxes.
- They eat all our precious grass.
- Their eyes are creepy and red.
- They’re cute, and look really cuddly, but they fucking hate you.
- They’re bringing down property values.
- They’re for staying in Iraq indefinitely. (Seriously. Fucking neocon rabbits.)
- They taste delicious, yet they’re not on my dinner plate.
- Bugs Bunny was a terrorist whose reputation was rehabilitated by the powerful carrot lobby.
- My faithful dogservant Santiago wants to catch them but they are much too fast for him.

Moreover, I have photographic evidence that they are ruining the neighborhood. This is an actual picture what our neighborhood looked when we moved in here in the early 90’s:

Here's what it looks like now:

And what do you think was in that little baggie? I’ll give you a hint: who likes grass? Rabbits, that’s who.

Oh, if only Rudy Giuliani could come and save our fair city by fixing all the broken windows.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

War on Phones Update

It’s not a day of paying the bills here at the Hacienda without a little telephonic fraud. Back in March, an internet services account arose from the dead and started sending us bills again. This account was for my stepfather’s office, and was started about a decade ago with Isla Net, a company that has not existed for years. The account we had with them has also not existed for years, since we cancelled it. Apparently, Centennial bought out Isla Net, and I guess as a housewarming present, decided to reactivate all sorts of old accounts. Like ours.

So in March, we get a bill from Centennial for $25. Not one to take this type of thing lying down, I immediately called up Centennial and cancelled the account. They assured me that they cancelled it, and that I would not be hearing from them again. But of course, this month they sent another bill.

Oh, I thought, it’s on now.

What Centennial didn't know is that I’ve fought this war before, in my Vietnam-like battle with Claro, the automated telecom servant of all that is evil and unholy. And Centennial, my friends, is no Claro, and it was simply not ready to counter the lengths to which I was willing to go to send this account back to the billing hell from whence it crawled back into our lives.

Centennial doesn't have the wall of impregnable computer menus that Claro has been able to set up to thwart anyone from actually speaking to any living being employed by them. Their computer lets you talk to an actual human being very quickly. These humans, however, are trained in the ninja arts of not solving your problems, and katana blade of their arsenal is demanding to talk only to the person whose name is on the account. And so, when I called this afternoon, I was posing as my stepfather, the doctor.

I explained to them that I’d called in March to cancel, and that I’d been given assurances that said cancellation had indeed taken effect. Immediately the customer service rep countered with “Yes, but did you write a letter?”

Just the opening I was looking for. I went for the nuclear option. Here’s how the rest of the conversation played out:

[And here et me make clear that my stepfather in no way resembles the portrayal of him here. But my version of my stepfather is out to get shit done. He knows that you have to can't make the trains run on time without breaking a few eggs. Or something.]

Doctor (actually me, in all my Method glory): “Did I write a letter? No, young lady, I did not write a letter, because I was not told that I had to write a letter. And honestly, had I been told I needed to write a letter, I would not have done so, as I consider that requirement to be burdensome and wholly unreasonable.”

Customer Service (thinking, I've got you now, sucka!): “Yes, but we need you to write a letter—“

Doctor: “You listen to me, I’m not writing any letter. Do you know how many times I’ve cancelled this account over the years? I’m a DOCTOR, right now I need to be seeing PATIENTS, not writing letters to CENTENNIAL! There’s people out in my waiting room right now that need TREATMENT and you’re sitting here asking me to write you a LETTER—“

CS: “Yes but we need you to—“

Doctor: “You know what, I’ll write you a letter, I’ll write you a letter all right, but you know what I’m going to do with that letter? I’m going to send a copy of it to the Department of Consumer Affairs, along with a note to my son-in-law, the DIRECTOR of that agency, detailing the ABUSES that you people have subjected me to—“

CS [meekly]: “Doctor, please, don’t worry, I’ll cancel the account right now, don’t worry about that letter, I’ll have our accounts staffer cancel it as soon as he gets back from lunch—“

Doctor: “Lunch? Young lady, it’s 3:30 right now. I’m not waiting for some person whom is clearly not going to return from his 3-hour lunch to take care of this. Kindly go in there and cancel it yourself right now, while I’m on the phone.”

CS: “Yes, Doctor, of course.” [Types furiously.] “OK, you’re all set.”

Doctor: “Well, thank you for all your help. You’ve been very helpful. Sorry if I seemed rude back there.”

CS: “Oh, it’s no problem. I’m just glad I was able to help, Doctor.”

Doctor (triumphantly): “Well you have a nice day now. Bye bye.”

Hells yeah. Soon I shall be ready for my Day of Reckoning with Sprint!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Armageddon It

Here's a guest blog for your Hacienda fix, while Don Paco reorganizes his estate. Say hello to Don Paco's little brother, currently hiding from the law in Scotland.

* * * * * *

It's finally happening - we're gonna blow up the moon.

Ok, no, we’re not there yet, unfortunately. But in the meantime, there’s no shortage of hare-brained space crusades for America to get excited about. You may remember a while back when the news began reporting that Earth might get hit by an asteroid in 2030. Thankfully, that's no longer the case, at least not until 2071.

Not one to let a good cash cow slip past them, NASA are totally riding this asteroid till it squeals – a metaphor that is actually more literal than you might think. The snappily-named Object 2000 SG344 is still going to fly pretty close to Earth, and damned if we aren’t gonna try and poke at it, as long as it’s there. We have the technology.

Except that we don’t. The plan is not simply to poke at it, but actually land a few dudes on it, and have them crash out there for a week. If only that were just another metaphor.

This sexy new plan to land people on a hurtling space-rock has jumped to the front of the space mission queue, ahead of the slightly less sexy, Bush-approved "moon landing by 2020" and "Mars landing sometime" plans that have been kicking about until now.

Jerry Bruckheimer: seems to be funding NASA

And I, for one, am all for it, mostly because I am an unabashed fan of frivolous space crusades, as well as the 1998 movie Armageddon, which has apparently replaced all the top scientists at NASA now that the US government is bankrupt. If you ask me, send Steve Buscemi up there as quick as possible. (Not so fast, Affleck.)

Billy Bob Thornton demonstrates the latest NASA technology

But I am not without misgivings. If Michael Bay’s 1998 opus taught me anything, it is that landing on a space-rock is bloody difficult. We will need not one but two manned rockets because half the crew are certainly going to die awful, spacey deaths. We will need to inexplicably explode a space station en route, and given that Mir is no longer there for us to pick on, it’ll have to be the International Space Station, which was almost starting to be useful. And it almost goes without saying that the mission will require awesome, hardcore space-tanks to drive around in once we’ve successfully landed on the space rock. Unfortunately, the only gear NASA have the money for seems to be a Tonka truck for helping the astronauts build space-sand castles:

Actual Constellation Program graphic from the NASA website

Another thing we all know from spaceship movies is that once you send people into space, one of them (usually the one whose name is Steve Buscemi) will instantly flip out, with murderous results. This is why, as in last year’s spaceship movie Sunshine, one of the astronauts will have to be a psychiatrist with his own holographic chill-out room. Unfortunately, as you may have gleaned by now, NASA are pretty skint these days, and so instead of replacing our ancient lunar module with a sharp new spaceship sheathed in chrome and operated by floating touchscreens, we’re keeping the crusty old pre-digital-watch era design. So, in short, we’re sending three astronauts up for the grueling 6-month journey in a 5 meter-wide tin-foil Hershey’s Kiss:

Actual Constellation Program quote: “A clean-sheet-of-paper design is too expensive and risky”

The funniest part of all this is that, as far as I can tell, no one is quite sure whether Object 2000 SG344 is even an asteroid at all. Given its smallish size, about the length of a “small yacht,” and its tidy orbit, which is suspiciously similar to Earth’s own, NASA has said there’s a good possibility that the object is actually a loose Apollo Program booster rocket from the 60s.

At this juncture, a few predictions are in order.

Outcome 1: we fly a few dudes up to the asteroid, and they actually manage to land on it. Once they step out of their Hershey’s Kiss module, they immediately float off into deep space because the asteroid has essentially no gravity.

Outcome 2: we fly a few dudes up to the asteroid and it turns out to be a booster rocket, causing them to turn on each other, suddenly murderous when faced with the prospect of having to pee into tubes and smell each others’ farts for another three months with nothing to show for it except maybe medals of honour from President “El Comandante” Cheney upon their return.

Outcome 3: we fly a few dudes up to the asteroid, infinitesimally altering the object’s gravitational field and orbit, causing it to fly straight into Russia, with an American flag stuck in it, in 2030.

Outcome 4: we fly a few dudes up to the asteroid and find it is made of crude oil, diamonds, and super-advanced alien technology, but can’t bring any of it back home because our Tonka trucks aren’t big enough.

Outcome 5: Jerry Bruckheimer kills the project and turns all of NASA’s budget towards building robots that transform.

The future is lame.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Some Law Clerk in Hawaii is Pissed

Above: The Large Hadron Collider

Imagine that you are a recent law school graduate working as a law clerk in Hawaii. (Law clerks, in case you didn't know, are the twenty year-olds that write all the opinions that federal courts put out. That's right, after all the fussing and huffing and puffing about judicial confirmations in the Senate, all those judges that go on to the bench following confirmation then go out and hire, without so much as a background check, kids in their mid-twenties who've never even had another job to write all their opinions for them.) So you're a law clerk, you've got a cushy gig in Hawaii, it pays well, the hours are good, and you get to live in Hawaii for the year. Half the cases you're in charge of deal with postal workers being pissed off at the shift supervisor at the Honolulu Post Office, and the others all deal with environmental issues.

And then one day, you walk into your office, find that your judge has been assigned a new case. Anxious to see which postal worker is suing the Postmaster General this week, you open it up... and you realize that you just got stuck with a case where some scientists in Hawaii are asking the court to step in to stop some other scientists in Switzerland from... creating a black hole that will eat our entire planet. That's a clerkship-ruiner right there.

Well, if you happen to clerk for Judge Helen Gillmore in Hawaii, your clerkship just got ruined, because Hawaiian scientists Walter Wagner and Luis Sancho just filed that very lawsuit last week, and it landed on her docket. Wagner and Sancho claim that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), an enormous particle accelerator which is scheduled to undertake an experiment that would replicate the conditions that existed in the seconds immediately following the Big Bang. I have no idea how it would go about doing this, nor do I think that I would be able to understand any of the results of any of the experiments this thing was built to carry out. However, this intuitively seems to be a don't-try-this-at-home type of area to be mucking around in, and Sancho and Wagner's lawsuit purports to give us a couple of reasons why the LHC's experiment shouldn't be allowed to go forward, namely these:

1. The LHC could create tiny black holes that could gain strength and eventually consume everything around them, like the LHC, France, and the Mediterranean Sea.

2. The LHC could create weird particles called strangelets out of smashed quarks, and these strangelets would then turn every other particle they touched into strangelets. Again, France would be in danger, and we couldn't save it, because when we landed our troops at Omaha Beach, our troops would be turned into strangelets. And you are not supporting the troops if you are letting them get turned into theoretical subatomic particles by power-mad Swiss scientists.

3. The LHC could create other weird particles with only one magnetic pole. These would also somehow turn other matter into something horrible.

Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku thinks we don't need to worry about this stuff, and generally I am inclined to believe him, mostly because a) I read one of his books 10 years ago, which I don't remember but I recall thinking was pretty cool, and b) his face is all over ads for CUNY in the New York subway system. If Kaku thinks we aren't going to be eaten by our own black holes, then I suppose I should believe that we will be okay.

Also, I think Sancho and Wagner are forgetting the most dangerous possibility of all: what if the LHC somehow opens up a portal into hell, like what happened to the Event Horizon*? If Lawrence Fishburne isn't available to save us, what will we do then? Michio Kaku can't explain that one away.

The bottom line is that this Large Hadron Collider is trouble. I wish Sancho and Wagner well in their efforts to stave off the end of all existence via a timely intervention in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, and I am also glad that I am not the clerk assigned to that case. Who wants to write up an opinion dismissing a case that then leads to the world getting swallowed up by a tiny French black hole? Not me.

*The Event Horizon is a haunted ship in space.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Aníbal Acevedo hasn't said this yet, but I bet he will in just a few minutes: "This is all some vast conspiracy against me."

So I wake up this morning, readying for a trip, and what's on the news but the fact that our illustrious governor, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, has been slapped with some twenty-odd criminal counts of violating federal campaign finance laws, and he is currently negotiating how to turn himself in to the Justice Department! Many of the charges appear to stem from shady fund-raising dealings in Philadelphia during the early years of this decade, but apparently there's also a ton of charges pertaining to the illegal use of these and other funds up until very recently. All of this would appear to represent the culmination of the PDP's goal of achieving a level of corruption equal to or greater than that of the PNP. Congratulations, you did it! Way to keep those eyes on the prize!

And me about to hop a plane. Bastards! Expect to hear more about this from me soon, and sorry for the absence. The last few weeks have been tempestuous here at the Hacienda.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Crap Presidents: Tippecanoe and Tyler Also

Above: Political campaigns sure were cooler in 1840, when your campaign could essentially be "I likes to gets DRUNK!"

As you might have noticed in the past seven years, sometimes somebody becomes President and the whole thing just doesn’t really work out. In order to commemorate this rather painful historical truism, I hereby inaugurate the a new running series, The George W. Bush Crap Presidents Series. Our first installment is a double shot: the ninth and tenth Presidents, William Henry Harrison and John Tyler.

Tyler’s rise to the Presidency marked the first time an afterthought held that lofty office. If you’re at all familiar with Tyler, you’ll know that he is the “Tyler” in the famous 19th century political slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too.” “Tippecanoe,” of course, refers to William Henry Harrison, the Whig candidate who won the Presidency in 1840 based on a campaign which celebrated his military accomplishments, his (fabricated) desire to lead a simple, rustic life in the countryside, and love of alcohol, which, with a few tweaks, has essentially become the way that the Republican party always sells its candidates, who all mysteriously buy ranches in the western U.S. the year before they run for President, ranches full of deadly, deadly brush that just demands to be cleared.

Left: Tyler wore the same outfit to clear brush that he wore to give his eternally long speeches in freezing weather.

Harrison, a Crap President if ever there was one, is remembered—when he is remembered at all—for delivering the longest inauguration speech ever, clocking in at nearly two hours. Here is an excerpt:
It was the beautiful remark of a distinguished English writer that ‘in the Roman senate Octavius had a party and Anthony a party, but the Commonwealth had none.’ Yet the senate continued to meet in the temple of liberty to talk of the sacredness and beauty of the Commonwealth and gaze at the statues of the elder Brutus and of the Curtii and Decii, and the people assembled in the forum, not, as in the days of Camillus and the Scipios, to cast their free votes for annual magistrates or pass upon the acts of the senate, but to receive from the hands of the leaders of the respective parties their share of the spoils and to shout for one or the other, as those collected in Gaul or Egypt and the lesser Asia would furnish the larger dividend. The spirit of liberty had fled, and, avoiding the abodes of civilized man, had sought protection in the wilds of Scythia or Scandinavia…

It is safe to assume that Liberty was probably not the only one thinking of fleeing on that cold and wet early March day. Deadly stuff, this speech (literally, it would turn out). As broad as the 68 year old Harrison demonstrated his command of the classics to be, he also demonstrated a rather shocking lapse in judgment in deciding to deliver his endless speech without wearing an overcoat. Sparing the young nation any further pontification on the evils of partisanship in the classical-era Mediterranean, Harrison contracted pneumonia and died within the month.

His successor John Tyler had an undistinguished, crap Presidency, a time that was marked primarily by the creation of a variety of other political parties, almost all of which had “Hating President Tyler” as some part of their platform. He spent most of his presidency fighting Henry Clay over banking policy and almost botching the annexation of Texas. Though he had run with Harrison on the Whig ticket, Tyler had been a Democratic Republican (first a Jacksonian, and later an anti-Jacksonian), and after becoming President he pissed off his party by pretty much vetoing everything they wanted to do. They responded by kicking him out of the party, and his entire Cabinet (except for Secretary of State Daniel Webster) quit. Webster would also quit later, a shrewd move considering what would happen to his successor.

Left: John Tyler, looking like the winner he was.

Tyler also seems to have been a terrible guy to know, as it seems that if you had any sort of association with him, you were apt to drop dead at any moment. On Harrison’s death, Tyler became the first Vice President to become President due to the death of a President, and spent his term losing the battle to keep those around him alive. His wife, Letitia Tyler, became the first First Lady to die mid-term when she passed away in 1842. Then, in 1844, Tyler, members of his Cabinet, his new fiancée Julia Gardiner, and others participated in a ceremony aboard the USS Princeton, where a cannon backfired and killed his new Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur, his Secretary of the Navy Thomas Gilmer, and his fiancée’s father, David Gardiner. Julia married him anyway, and years later he would die and leave her a penniless widow. Though everyone around him died, Tyler managed to have many children who lived to adulthood, and he had a horse named “The General” that lived for 20 years.

Tyler was the first President to have a veto overridden by Congress (which they did as a “fuck you” on his last full day in office). Congress also tried to impeach Tyler, but I guess his aptitude for failure was contagious, and they were not able to. Belonging to no party, and apparently liked by no one except the woman who married him in spite of his indirect role in the death of her father, Tyler did not run for another term. After his presidency, Tyler went on to serve in Congress—the Confederate Congress.

William Henry Harrison and John Tyler demonstrate that you can be a crap President without shoddily planning disastrous wars or by having evil Vice Presidents (Tyler didn’t even have a Vice President). The best thing that you can say about the Harrison presidency is that his grandson (another Crap President candidate) would later become President, and the best thing that you can say about Tyler’s time in office is that he didn’t cause the Irish Potato Famine. Unless he did, which would not be at all surprising.

So the next time you send a text message you shouldn’t have sent, or leave your DNA all over a crime scene, or pay thousands of dollars to a prostitute to cross state lines, don’t beat yourself up about it—just remember that you are, in your own special way, honoring the legacy our most Crap Presidents.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pedro Rosselló, We Hardly Knew Ye

Above: Pedro Rosselló

This past Sunday, Puerto Rico had its gubernatorial primary for the pro-statehood New Progressive Party (NPP), which was won by popular young candidate Luis Fortuño, who has the distinction of possibly being the first Puerto Rican to be both a) a Republican and b) a dead ringer for Milhouse from The Simpsons. Other parties had primaries as well, but the other leading party, the pro-Commonwealth Popular Democratic Party (PDP), did not hold a gubernatorial primary, apparently being satisfied to run Governor Aníbal Acevedo out there to get slaughtered in the fall. I imagine they must simply want to be rid of him one way or the other, be it through his inevitable loss in November or his possible incarceration for campaign finance violations.

Luis Fortuño: Res ispa loquitur.

The big story, however, is not so much that Fortuño won, but rather that former Governor Pedro Rosselló lost. Rosselló, a former tennis prodigy and noted pediatric surgeon, became governor in 1992, a post he held for two terms that were marked by noticeable public works initiatives and almost mind-boggling corruption within his inner circle. He opted against running for a third term in 2000, and retired to Virginia. His exile would be short-lived, however, since in 2003, inspired by the Warren G. Harding-esque ineptitude of the Sila Calderón administration and the prospect of running against Aníbal “Please God Let It Be Over” Acevedo, Rosselló returned to Puerto Rico.

Left: Aníbal Acevedo (believe it or not, this is what he looks like after plastic surgery paid for with suspicious funds).

In his absence, the leadership of the NPP had been taken over by Carlos Pesquera, a seemingly even-keeled guy who had headed up the Urban Train project. However, at some point in the summer of 2002, Pesquera lost his marbles. Here’s how it happened: news got out that the Office of Women’s Affairs, a state government agency, had chosen to display a Puerto Rican flag in its lobby, but not a U.S. flag. Somehow, Pesquera got it into his head that the best way to solve this problem was to gather up a mob, march them down from the Capitol building to the Office of Women’s Affairs while blasting country music (the strangest detail in this entire sordid fiasco), start a riot outside the office, and then break through the office’s glass doors carrying an American flag in order to plant it.

Left: Carlos Pesquera thought he could claim the Office of Women's Affairs for the USA by planting the flag in the lobby.

On a personal note, I was working in San Juan that day, and let me tell you, it made it hard to get lunch. After that clusterfuck, it wasn’t too hard for Rosselló to dispatch Pesquera (who, by the way, was caught on several video cameras in his incitement to riot and breaking and entering, and yet beat the charges without even going to trial by having even more of his followers cause tremendous traffic jams outside the courthouse, which is only blocks away from the Hacienda). Having thrown Pesquera under the bus, Rosselló immediately launched a new campaign to retake the governorship. His efforts came up short, and he lost a hotly contested election that the Puerto Rico Supreme Court wound up deciding.

And then he went crazy.

Having lost the governorship, he decided that he needed to be in the Puerto Rico Senate. Mind you, he did not run for Senate. However, Victor Loubriel, the guy in his party who won the Senate seat for the region where Rosselló lived, was made an offer which he opted not to refuse, quit two days after being inaugurated, and, voilá, Rosselló was in the Senate.

But just being the newest dude in the Senate was not enough for Rosselló. Although a Senate president had already been chosen—Kenneth McClintock, whom everybody here calls ‘MaClinton’—Rosselló and his followers decided that, since he was the president of his party, then he should naturally also be president of the Senate. McClintock was having none of it, however, and he refused to budge. Rosselló then did the democratic thing and had McClintock and his allies all thrown out of the party, which was still not enough to dislodge McClintock, whose hold on that seat was a strong as the moustache he used to sport was creepy.

Left: Kenneth McClintock: Not even Tom Selleck would tell you that that shit looks cool.

While this was all going on, more instances of impropriety on Rosselló’s part came to light. As if it weren’t enough that over thirty members of his administration—including several of his cabinet secretaries and his personal assistant—wound up serving time in prison for a veritable potpourri of corruption charges, the news surfaced that the government pension that Rosselló was receiving was about 40% higher than it should have been, because records of some of his early government work had been falsified: apparently, during one summer where he was supposedly working for the government as a student, he was actually in the U.S. playing in a bunch of tennis tournaments, and enrolled in classes at Notre Dame. Some other guy got sent to jail over this kerfuffle, and though Rosselló was ordered to pay back $80,000 of wrongfully-awarded pension funds, his supporters raised the money and paid it themselves. Rosselló was prosecuted in the matter, but beat the charges. Soon thereafter, he wrote a book called “The Triumvirate of Terror,” where he charges the PDP, the Federal government, and the Ferré family (owners of El Nuevo Día, Puerto Rico’s largest newspaper), all of whom he compares to Hitler and Osama Bin Laden, with conspiring to bring him and the statehood movement down.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s economy went straight into the toilet, leading to a government shutdown for two weeks, which our illustrious governor Acevedo decided to solve by eliminating the excise tax, replacing it with a 7% sales tax, which after a year he decided hadn’t worked, and now wants to scale back down to 2.5% while bringing back the excise tax. Acevedo is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for campaign finance violations, and is pretty much hated by just about everyone who’s ever had anything to do with him.

2007 rolled around and it was time for Rosselló to gear up for another gubernatorial run, but this upstart Fortuño had the gall to run against him. A protracted primary campaign took place, which Rosselló “did not participate in.” Let me explain. Initially, he promised that he would not be running for governor. Then he decided to do so. But then he said he wouldn’t campaign for it. Except he did: he hit just about every town and municipality in Puerto Rico, holding rallies and marches and all sorts of events, except that he claimed that he was not campaigning, but instead was just appearing at the events as the president of the party. He refused to debate Fortuño, claiming that he didn’t debate members of his own party, and as far as I can tell, his only campaign promise was to set up “reconciliation commissions” wherein political officials who had committed acts of corruption would be given amnesty for them so long as they confessed to their actions and expressed contrition, claiming that this idea was inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions that South Africa set up to deal with the legacy of apartheid. Because as anyone will tell you, when greedy assholes steal taxpayer dollars, that is exactly the same as apartheid.

Rosselló's campaign slogan was “Esto lo arregla Rosselló”, which translates roughly to “This mess? Rosselló can fix that shit.”

Fortuño whipped his ass 60-40, and now theoretically Rosselló will retire from politics, sparing the island from an Acevedo-Rosselló election, which would probably have resulted in mass suicides. Rosselló will be missed by fans of colossal trainwrecks and authoritarian tendencies the world over, and when Fortuño annihilates Acevedo in the fall, Acevedo will be missed by, uh, no one.

Also, as a bonus, it now looks like this guy, whose name is Tomás Rivera Schatz and who frequently sports what is essentially a Hitler moustache, will be elected to the legislature in the fall, and will probably hold a leadership position.

And here you are thinking that the Obama/Clinton race was interesting. Ha!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Poorly Thought-Out

Above: Miguel Tejada

I know this isn't dispositive evidence or anything, but don't you think that if you were trying to convince everyone (including the Department of Justice) that you didn't use steroids, maybe you wouldn't go around advertising how you're such a super awesome runner that you need them to strap a parachute to you to make it challenging?

This reminded me of some article about Barry Bonds' workout regime back before all the stuff about the BALCO indictment broke, and it said that part of his training involved swinging a particularly heavy bat (even heavier than normal heavy bats, which are apparently standard in baseball training), which the author warned readers not to try at home, as doing so would break the average person's wrists.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Benedict Kills Again

Pope Benedict: How long before he has the entire Jedi order killed by his clone army and yells "Power!!! Unlimited POWER!!!"?

His Unholy Majesty and his Exorcism Squad lackeys have struck again, this time quietly bringing to an end the life of one of the high priests of the secular American religion of Conservatism, William F. Buckley, the author of (among numerous other works) God and Man at Yale, and the founder of the National Review, a conservative periodical.

Left: William F. Buckley. Obviously he would've preferred "Right: William F. Buckley", but now he's dead so tough titty.

How did Buckley die? Did he die of despair at the prospect of a President named Barack? Was the spending profligacy of the Bush Administration too heavy a blow to his conservatism? Did Chris and Snoop lure him into a vacant? No, none of the above. The modus operandi of Benedict's ecclesiastical enforcers was once again in evidence: the victim, in his early 80's, was found dead at his home, of "natural causes."

When will our leaders stand up and take notice of the sacramental scourge that is Benedict? In the past year he has had his dastardly Exorcism Squads send Jerry Falwell, Buckley, the top Senegalese Muslim guy, the Greek archbishop guy, the King of the Mormons, and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to that big Unitarian Sunday Brunch in the sky.

Meanwhile, Satan, the putative target of the Exorcism Squads, still roams free, as evidenced by this footage captured by Hollywood:

As of today, we are spending billions of dollars a month fighting the supposed threat of Islamofascism. But what about the very real threat of Pope Benedict's Papambenedictumofascism? How will those who aim to lead our nation propose to deal with this most existential of threats? All the health care mandates in the world aren't going to fix this one, Hillary! What good was being right on Iraq going to do if you're wrong on Benedict, Obama? How exactly is making the Bush tax cuts permanent going to address the evil that emanates from the Vatican like the stench of campaign finance improprieties, John McCain? Is Mike Huckabee, a purported expert in miracles, our only hope of escaping the thousand-year rule of Beelzedict XVI? The candidates need to stop running from this important issue. The American people demand a change to our policy of papal appeasement!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Those New York Kids Are Blunt

The Hacienda has received the following exclusive communiqué from Brother Astoria:

"So our Nursing Home had this event on Valentine's Day where children made cards for the [mostly older] veterans who live there.

I wonder how these 2 cards made it through. Maybe someone figured that the vets would enjoy the brutal honesty."

Gotta wonder about the center 'flower's' resemblance to a shovel.

From the Straight Talk Express school of Valentine card-writing

Monday, February 25, 2008

I Am Ravaging Argentina

Left: I don't know this lady, and I don't know her junkie sons.

You can imagine how surprised I was to open up the New York Times website the other day only to find out that I am currently in the process of horrendously devastating the lives of poor Argentinians and Brazilians. Paco , says the Grey Lady, has "destroyed thousands of lives in Argentina and caused a cycle of drug-induced street violence never seen before in [Argentina]."

Much like John McCain , I was shocked and appalled that a liberal rag such as the Times would, in contravention of all journalistic ethical standards and practices, launch such a vicious torrent of yellow journalism my way, relying exclusively on hearsay, innuendo, and unreliable, drug-addicted, foreign sources. Not only that, but the Times seems to have made absolutely no effort to contact me for my side of the story. Now, therefore, I must defend myself against these vicious libels directed at me by that most Communist of rags. This assassination of my sterling, unimpeachable character shall not stand, I tell you.

As you well know, dear reader, Don Paco is a Puerto Rican gentleman of leisure. That much is easily verifiable from the "About Me" section of this very blog, which the Times "reporters" who put together this story obviously neglected to properly inspect. According to the Times, paco is "a highly addictive, smokable cocaine residue" that is "even more toxic than crack cocaine because it is made mostly of solvents and chemicals like kerosene, with just a dab of cocaine." The "paco problem" in Argentina and Brazil stems from the fact that the market has been flooded with this cheap substance, which apparently provides a short, intense high, and is extremely addictive. If the Times is to be believed, paco has an iron grip on the drug trade in Argentine shantytowns such as Ciudad Oculta.

Now, anyone who has ever met me knows that I am not made of cocaine and solvents. Neither do I contain any kerosene. I am not, so far as I can tell, smokable. Though I am cheap, I am certainly not addictive. You need only check the hit counter on this website to see just how not addictive I am. So far as I can tell, no one has ever sold all their possessions and stolen from their relatives in order to continuously smoke me. I may not be a scientist, but I know that I am not constantly being smoked. And Argentine slums? I never go there. Ask Doña Paquita, who knows a thing or two about Argentine slums--Doña Paquita having a slightly different formulation of what constitutes an enjoyable tourism experience--how big my presence is in those parts of the world.

I have to say, I am tired of being targeted by the Times for its libelous jeremiads against me. New York Times, you have impugned my honor for the last time. I am now forced to take drastic measures. Since the Times has made its fraudulent persecution of my spotless reputation a matter of shameful public record, I have but one choice:

I hereby challenge New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt to a duel.

Left: Hey Clark Hoyt, you've got bigger problems than Judy Miller and Jayson Blair now, you reprobate.

Sir, I shall be at the Heights of Weehawken , New Jersey, at dawn on July 11, along with my second. It shall be pistols at ten paces, and if you do not show, I shall know you for the coward that you are, and your "newspaper" for the fish-wrapper of ignominy that Rush Limbaugh and his ilk hold it to be.

Also, know that if you do not show, I will DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! I'LL DRINK IT UP!

You have been warned.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Keith Van Horn: Today's Hero of the Unemployed

Above: This guy has the same job as Keith Van Horn.

Generally, you have to work hard every day to be a valuable member of our society. Some, however, are able to advance the causes of liberty and justice from their lowly perches among the ranks of the unemployed. Those are our Heroes of the Unemployed, and today, their king is white hoopster Keith Van Horn.

Keith Van Horn is a professional basketball player. After a lengthy and undistinguished career of not playing all that greatly and many a “one of these things is not like the other” moments, Keith called it quits in the spring of 2006. Few in the basketball world mourned his basketball passing.

But it appears that fortune favors the Van Horny. This week, because of the arcane salary rules covering NBA trades, Keith Van Horn was paid $4.3 for having once had a basketball career.

Here’s what happened. The Dallas Mavericks wanted to acquire point guard Jason Kidd from the New Jersey Nets. The problem is that in the NBA, when you make a trade, the salaries have to even out on both sides, and Jason Kidd makes a lot of money playing basketball because he is very good at basketball. So the Mavericks offered the Nets a bunch of guys in exchange for Kidd, but the salaries still didn’t even out. So what did the Mavericks do? They called up unemployed Keith Van Horn, who was not making any money playing basketball because he is not that good at basketball, signed him to a $4.3 million contract, and threw him into the trade. Now the Keithotron will spend the remaining 2 months of the season “getting into game shape,” will probably not play a single game, and will be paid approximately $75,439 a day for doing it. The man essentially just became $4.3 million dollars richer simply for existing. Which is awesome.

Left: Keith Van Horn's career in one picture.

The Keitholizer took a few days to agree to this sweetheart deal, according to his agent, because of all his “other responsibilities,” which I believe is absolutely impossible. So in honor of Keith Van Horn clearly being the luckiest white basketball player ever to grace the hardcourt, here is my dramatization of how the phone call where his agent called him to tell him about this sweet deal really played out, and how Keith Van Horn became today’s Hero of the Unemployed:

Sometime last week:

The phone rings at Der Keithhaus, the Van Horn McMansion.

Keith Van Horn: Yeeeello ello ello.

Keith Van Horn’s Agent David Falk: Keith?

Keith: Keith?

Falk: Keith?

Keith: Keith, yo.

Falk: Keith, are you high again?


Falk: Keith you really need to cut back—

Keith: A THRIVEN HONK! It’s a mammogram for my name!

Falk: You mean an anagram?

Keith: No dude that’s in Iraq.

Falk: What?


Falk: Listen buddy, I know it’s been a while—

Keith: Davey did you ever play that NBA Jam arcade game? It was awesome, you always had to play the Mavericks first, and they were really bad that year, and you could only use two guys, and one of them was Mike Iouzzolino, and every time he scored Marv Albert would yell “IOUZZOLINO!” That game was the shit, Davey. Wanna toke?

Falk: I’m on a plane, Keith. We’re talking on the phone.

Keith: Oh yeah that’s right! Man the future is awesome. KEITH!

Falk: Be quiet for a sec, Keith. I’ve got great news for you.

Keith: They've resegregated the league?

Falk: No, even better. You remember how when you retired a couple of years back, but we didn’t actually file the retirement papers with the NBA?

Keith: Uh, no.

Falk: Well, we didn’t. That was kind of my bad.

Keith: Naw man it’s all good.

Falk: Well it turns out it was a good thing that we didn’t sign those papers. The Mavs are trying to get Jason Kidd from the Nets, but the money wasn’t working out, but then they realized that they still own your basketball rights, so they want to sign you and then trade you to New Jersey—

Keith: No Davey No! Not New Jersey again!

Falk: But Keith, here’s the thing: they want to pay you $4.3 million, and you don't even have to play.

Keith: What?

Falk: Dude, you don’t have to play. All you have to do is work out for a few months, go to practice.

Keith: And I get four million dollars?

Falk: $4.3.

Keith: And I don’t have to play?

Falk: That’s right.

Keith: And I get four million dollars?

Falk: $4.3.

Keith: Dave is this legal? They won’t make me testify in the Congress or nothing right?

Falk: Totally aboveboard, my great white hope.

Keith: Do I have to blow someone?

Falk: You don’t have to. Might be a nice gesture though.

Keith: Dude, accept the offer. Right now.

Falk: I think we should make them wait, so it’s not too ugly-seeming.

Keith: Dude are you crazy? Say yes right now, man.

Falk: I think we should say you have other responsibilities, and that your personal integrity—


Falk: Okay. But you know I get 5% of that money, right? Because I’m your agent.

Keith: You know David, insofar as it’s pretty fucked up that I’m going to make millions of dollars for, as far as I can tell, absolutely nothing at all, I’m loath to begrudge you a share of my dubious windfall. I know we haven't talked in a while, what with me no longer being a player and thus strictly speaking no longer in need of your services as an agent, but this was nice. You keep finding me teams that want to pay me millions to not play and I will substantially increase your commission.

Falk: Man, you sober up quick.

Keith: I’m Keith Van Horn, bro.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lightning Strikes Jesus Statue

Man, that can't be good.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil--On Sunday, God made it pretty clear what he thinks of what his subordinate Pope Benedict XVI has been up to with his Exorcism Squads when he rained down His mighty bolts of lightning on the statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Mt. Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro.

God, a regular reader of this and all other words ever written or to be written, from now until the end of time, has found out via this blog and His own omniscience that Benedict has been using his Exorcism Squads to off the canonical competition and not for beasting Lucifer , he whose name is Legion.

This morning, God's spokesman, the Metatron, rang forth a mighty host of silver trumpets and announced that "Hearken ye mortals, that the hour is nigh upon thee to slough off the deceptions of the false prophet of the Almighty Lord's holy Word, and embrace rather that which has been set down for you in the Book He had all those apostles ghostwrite for thy benefit. Do not make us send Gabriel and Michael down to smite thee.

"God also said to tell you that you guys are this close to losing your free will privileges," added the Metatron.

The prospect of a regime of straight predestination is a grim prospect, says one Vatican insider. "Do you realize how obnoxious those Calvinists are going to be if that goes down? We'll never hear the end of it."

The Metatron then addressed Benedict directly, warning him that if He had to send down another antipope to set up shop in Avignon and clean this mess up, He was going to be "one vengeful Alpha and Omega."

The Metatron added that God specifically also wanted it relayed to people that His son Jesus did have sex with Mary Magdalene, as well as many other women, because He "wasn't no damn punk."

"God out," concluded Metatron.

The statue of Christ was unharmed by the lightning, because, just like most Brazilian public works, it is made of recycled thongs, butt implants, and happiness.

Author's Note: The composition of this article began last night, but was interrupted by a mysterious power outage on the Hacienda's street. Crumbling Puerto Rican infrastructure or Vatican shenanigans? You be the judge.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Det. Jimmy McNulty Loves the New FISA Law

Who likes the unfettered ability to listen in on phone conversations? Jimmy McNulty does, that's who.

Baltimore, MD -- Detective Jimmy McNulty of the Baltimore Police Department's Homicide unit was glad to hear today that the US Senate caved in to the White House on warrantless wiretapping powers, pointing out that the probable cause requirements of the warrant-securing process had hindered many of his investigations.

"When we had to come down off the wire on Marlo Stansfield, that essentially killed our investigation," said Det. McNulty. "Now we're going to be able to catch that mope, and we won't even have to deal with recalcitrant phone companies being reluctant to help us go up on wires because now they have immunity from prosecution for helping us."

"Now I can stop making up serial killers in order to get attention," added McNulty. "I still can't believe I did that. That seems neither gritty nor realistic. I really sort of jumped the shark there."

When asked whether he was afraid that his superiors might discipline him for coming out so publicly on a contentions civil liberties issue, McNulty was dismissive.

"Fuck the bosses, Bunk. Sometimes I wonder what it'd be like to work for a real police department," said the Detective.

He then rambled on for several hours about how individuals are invariably crushed by heartless institutions, and bemoaned the decline of the American city.

Fellow Baltimore Detective Lester Freamon declined to comment for this article, but he did look up from his work on a miniature Louis Catorze armoire replica and give the writer a knowing look over the frames of his bifocals.

Baltimore politicians also supported the Senate's FISA bill.

"Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeit, partner, you know that if it's about national security, then Clay's right there with you on it," said Maryland state Senator Clay Davis. "I carry the water for that machine, you hear?"

This story was originally meant to delve into the more Dickensian aspects of this issue, but those plans were scrapped due to buyouts and a rejection of the "do more with less" ethos of the day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I Like Not Getting Stabbed

As I was eating my bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats this morning, I was flipping through today's copy of the San Juan Star and came across a short item about an incident which took place in Cayey over the weekend. Apparently a man entered a business establishment there, and for reasons never specified, became belligerent. He started an argument with another customer, and then stabbed the other customer five times, which presumably garnered him the win in the argument, even if it placed him at a severe disadvantage in his upcoming "don't send me to jail" argument with the local authorities.

This item inspired me to be thankful for the small blessing that my life is generally free of stabbing-engendering arguments. I am a peaceful person, and insofar as I take part in any arguments at all, they tend to be civilized. Bladed weapons rarely if ever make an appearance.

Here is a normal Don Paco argument:

Don Paco: Ooh, Bill Maher is on Larry King. Sweet. Shit, commercial.

Doña Paquita: Ok, quick, turn it to TLC. Channel 98.

Don Paco: Ok.

Doña Paquita: Ooh, it's the show about the sextuplets! Ohmigod, look at that woman's belly. That is disgusting. After she gave birth her belly looked like an 80 year old man's ass.

Don Paco: That sure is a lot of Filipino babies right there.

Doña Paquita: Ooh, and the show about midgets is up next. NO! I shouldn't say midgets, it's offensive. Little people, that is the preferred nomenclature.

Don Paco: But Bill Maher...

Doña Paquita: YOU SEE BILL MAHER EVERYDAY! We're watching the Filipino babies! Ooh, that little one has glasses!

Don Paco: Fucking TLC...

Doña Paquita: What was that?

Don Paco: No, nothing, "TLC, wee-hee!", that's what I was saying. Love that TLC.

But what if I was somehow prone to getting into arguments that ended in stabbing? I imagine it would look something like this:

Don Paco: Ooh, Bill Maher is on Larry King. Sweet. Shit, commercial.

Doña Paquita: Ok, quick, turn it to TLC. Channel 98.

Don Paco: Ok.

Doña Paquita: Ooh, it's the show about the sextuplets! Ohmigod, look at that woman's belly. She looks like she's about to give birth to the US Olympic team. Sigourney Weaver should put on her robot suit and yell "Get away from her, you bitch!" at her.

Don Paco: Man is that preternaturally distended belly gross.

Doña Paquita: Don't be so insensitive! That poor woman. And don't you dare change that back to Larry King.

Don Paco: But Bill Maher...

Doña Paquita: Bitch I cut you!

Don Paco: What? What are you doing with that knife?

Doña Paquita: We're watching this, and then we're watching "What Not To Wear", you hear me, asshole?

Don Paco: But what about-- OWW! You stabbed me! Ohmigod stop stabbing me! AAAAH!

Doña Paquita: Yeah, you gonna watch what now? That's what I thought. Look at you, lying there on that floor, bleeding, ACTIN' A BITCH!

Don Paco: I can't see any light. So cold, I'm so cold...

What Not To Wear, or multiple stab wounds? The former, most definitely. Here's to several more decades of stab-free living.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Beasting of the Week: Don Paco

Le Tigre, the Mark of the Beasting

The Hacienda--For months I have been waging a war of attrition with a mobile phone provider named Claro, and Claro is defeating me. I am straight up getting beasted.

Left: The Claro logo. Like a swastika, but wordier.

For a few months now, I have been in charge of the finances here at the Hacienda, which are complex and time-consuming. A particular point of needless complexity was our telephone situation: at some point, there were something in the neighborhood of 10 phones or phone lines billed to the Hacienda, with roughly 5 different companies doing the billing. Ever a fan of streamlining, I took it upon myself to hack through that thicket and pare away all needless or superfluous phones. The phone line we used to get DSL through, no longer in use after we got a cable modem months ago: gone. The phone line dedicated to the fax machine we've never had: gone. Mysterious cel phone not belonging to anyone: gone. And then there were the Claro phones.

Claro, previously Verizon, is currently the the mobile phone arm of Puerto Rico Telephone (PRT), previously a government-run monopoly that was acrimoniously privatized in the 1990's. PRT is now owned by América Móvil, the biggest telecom company in Latin America. Verizon became Claro when América Móvil bought PRT. Apparently, Claro has spent the last few months making changes to its customer service apparatus so that it will soon be poised to challenge the customer service execrability of Sprint, the Worldwide Leader of Suck.

Two cel phones needed canceling. One of them was my younger brother's old cel phone. The purpose and ownership of the second cel phone remains a mystery to me. They are billed on the same invoice. Neither has been in use since September, which is when my war with Claro began.

That month, I sent in a check for what I thought would be our last bill to the folks at Claro. I called their customer service line, and, after wending my way through their thicket of an automated menu system for close to an hour, got a hold of what passes for a human at Claro, and cancelled the phones. No problem, they said. Just pay that bill and we won't send you any more. Your phones are disconnected, they said.

October rolled around, and with it a new Claro bill. I spent another afternoon fighting their automated menu assassin, and finally, by calling Claro headquarters (really just the PRT "switchboard" or "circle of hell"), spoke to another "person" that proved of little use. I spoke to that person's "manager" (manager being in quotes as I have a strong suspicion that the manager was just the same guy faking a deeper voice, and perhaps wearing a false mustache), and was informed that the previous cancellation had not gone through, as Claro doesn't allow for over-the-phone cancellations. Actually, you do, I answered--you just let me do it last month. After insinuating that had made up the whole cancellation episode, "manager" explained that to cancel the phones, I would have to write a letter to Claro informing them of why I was canceling the phones, and mail it to them, after which a prorated final bill would arrive, which, after payment thereof, would mark the end of our loveless sham of a relationship.

I wrote the [fucking] letter and sent it in. I was very polite in my wording, in the end opting not to include my line about what a shame it is that corporations have no mothers for one to go shit on the grave of. No final bill ever came. I should have known.

Yesterday we got a letter from a collection agency in Carolina claiming that we owe Claro $242. After I scraped all of my brain and cranial matter from the walls and reassembled it into something that may one day again look like my old head, I began preparing myself to once again do battle with the Claro monster. Last night, I watched the Wayans Brothers masterpiece White Chicks in order to build up my resistance to idiocy and things that are offensive. I also insisted that everyone at the Hacienda call me Sisyphus and spent the evening pushing a large rock up the stairs, only to let it roll down again.

Today, around four, I picked up the phone and dialed Claro's customer service number. My old nemesis the Polite Bilingual Machine picked up. It asked me which language I would like to not be able to speak to a person in. I chose Spanish. It read me, en español, a menu of things I did not want to speak about, and at no point did it mention the option of talking to a Polite Bilingual Humanoid. Eventually, it cornered me into pressing 3 to "ask a question" about my account. Once there, it asked me for the last 4 digits of the accountholder's Social Security number for verification purposes. I entered it.

"That number does not match the number in our records. Please try again."

I entered it again.

"That number does not match the number in our records. Please try again."

I checked my notes. I entered the number again.

"That number does not match the number in our records. Please try again."

It didn't offer me to go back to the main menu. It didn't offer to let me speak to a representative. I hit zero.

"That is not a valid option. Please try again."

I hit all the other numbers.

"That is not a valid option. Please try again."

"Damn you, Polite Bilingual Machine, damn you straight to hell," I yelled, my face as red as Bill Clinton's when he contemplates the fact that young people like Barack Obama more than him now.

I hung up, and dialed the number again. I figured I'd try my luck in English, but the PBM backed me into the same corner again, only with a Nuyorican accent this time. Checkmated! Foiled!

Chastened by the thrashing dealt me by the machine, I hung up and called information, looking for a number, any other number, to somehow reach Claro, which I figure there should be one or two of, given that it's about the largest mobile phone provider on the island. The best the operator could give me was the switchboard at PRT.

I called. A new machine informed me that the PRT's switchboard hours were 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. I looked at my watch: 5:15 p.m. I had spent almost an hour wrestling with Claro's machine, which cleverly ran out the clock on me. Claro had defeated me once again.

The score so far:
Claro: 3