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Texas President Norris Asks U.S. to Reconsider ‘Texit’

5 Jul

by Roger White

 

DATELINE: University Park, Texas; November 16, 2019. A scant six months after Texas was granted full secession rights by U.S. President Hillary Clinton and Congress, Texas President Chuck Norris has officially petitioned the United States to reconsider the Texas Republic’s momentous “Texit” vote and allow the prodigal state back into the Union.

Chuckie and Hillary

The Texas Republic, reeling from skyrocketing unemployment following the loss of more than 200,000 former federal jobs and 350,000 jobs related to former ties with the U.S., was hit with another devastating—and ironic—blow in August when Mexican President George Lopez ordered thousands of border agents to turn back Texans attempting to cross the border into Mexico to seek employment. Lopez also discussed plans with the Mexican Cabinet to construct a protective wall along the Rio Grande to “keep the Texican rapists and criminals out.”

 

Seventy-one percent of Texas voters opted to leave the United States in a milestone election in May 2019—an unprecedented move termed the “Texit,” which came into favor in the wake of the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” vote to leave the European Union in 2016. Members of the “Texit” faction, led by Texas Vice-President Dan Patrick and Texas Secretary of the Interior Alex Jones, pushed the secession movement to success in the polls with promises of a completely rebranded Texas national identity, including such measures as the one man-one woman marriage doctrine, guarantees of government-funded automatic weapons for every household, abolition of left-wing elitist solar and wind power, and the mandatory death penalty for abortion providers.

kiddie guns

“These sorely needed changes in the way of life of true Texans mean liberty and freedom,” said Patrick, a former sportscaster and radio talk-show host. “Leftist intellectuals bent on destroying our way of life use that inflated claim of 179,000 household firearms accidents in the three months since we issued every Texan citizen his own AK-47 assault weapon, but I can tell you these numbers are not accurate. And besides, it’s a small price to pay for liberty. The bottom line here is liberty, and freedom. And liberty.”

 

Norris, elected Texas president shortly after the Texas Congress voted to move the new nation’s capital from Austin to University Park near SMU, cited growing “minor issues” problematic to the fledgling country—such as the estimated $100 billion unpaid water bill owed the United States for continued fresh-water supply, an almost total loss of international commerce brought about by a worldwide boycott of Texas goods and services due to the nation’s stance on gay and women’s rights, and a nationwide health crisis caused by Texas’ ban on environmental protections.

 

“In time, I am sure we Texans can find solutions to these trivial inconveniences,” said Norris, as he signed a presidential decree to transform every third high school in the Texas nation into maximum-security Prison Highpenitentiaries to fully house the nation’s burgeoning prison population. “But we feel that, given our close ties to our former country and knowing how the U.S. has lacked for decent Tex-Mex food and has suffered from practically zero decent NFL draft picks this year, it is time to reconsider our affiliation with the U.S.”

 

One issue that may stall progress in Norris’ talks with the U.S. is Clinton’s call for the immediate stand-down of Texas troops, which have maintained a tight ring around the breakaway state of Austin since June 2019, when the former state capital pledged allegiance to the United States and voted to secede from Texas. Weeks after Texas national troops surrounded the besieged city, Clinton called on U.S. air power to drop food, medicine, and supplies behind the “Fajita Curtain” into designated drop zones in the former Texas capital city.

 

The watershed incident that prompted Austin’s split with the Texas nation, according to Austin Governor Willie Nelson, came when Texas Attorney General Ted Cruz announced the nation’s new mandatory 30-year prison sentence for possession of marijuana. “They’re outta their minds,” Nelson said in a press release. “My entire band is locked up in Round Rock High School now—I mean Round Rock Maximum Security Facility No. 3.”

 

Latest word is that U.S. President Clinton is favoring the return of the Texas Republic into the American fold, with the conditions that Texas change its motto from “Don’t Mess with Texas” to “We Messed Up, Texas” and formally apologize to the nation for Nelson Bunker Hunt, the Enron debacle, and Rick Perry.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

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A Cautionary Tale from the Planet Retha

27 Jul

by Regor White

 

Sit down, kids, and I’ll share a tale. Mikey, don’t sit so close to the fire. Your Keds are starting to melt. That’s it. OK, good.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (turn right at Andromeda, second star cluster on your left), there was a planet called Retha. The dominant species on the planet Retha were beings known as Nahums. Now, to energize their transport Planet Rethapods and to heat their dwelling units, for many years the Nahums of the good planet Retha used a substance known as ilo—a gooey byproduct of gigantic decayed creatures (called oarsiduns) that lived long before the Nahums.

As time went on, technology developed rapidly—as did the burgeoning population of Retha. The great thinkers and scientists of the planet began to wonder and worry about the safety and the continued availability of the resource ilo. They found, you see, that ilo gave off foul emissions when consumed for energy—and common sense told the thinkers that only so much ilo could be used before it was all gone. Furthermore, the thinkers had found wondrous ways to harness Retha’s natural, reusable energy—such as her great winds and the heat from her nearest star—to fulfill all of the planet’s power needs.

Alas, the influential and powerful Nahums who owned the ilo reserves resisted violently any consideration of these new energy discoveries. They intimidated the thinkers, employed their own so-called scientists to refute and discredit the thinkers, and they paid great sums to Retha’s lawgivers—an unscrupulous class Lopiticiansknown as Lopiticians—to ensure that laws and edicts quashed any and all acceptance of this upstart “renewable energy.”

Disaster followed disaster regarding use and transport of the volatile substance ilo—such as the great ilo spills in the waters of Oximec and Askala that killed all manner of creatures and fouled the once-healthy waters.

The strained rationalizations and twisted logic of the ilo elite reached the pinnacle of absurdity, however, when a process known as farcking became widespread in the Retha region known as North Aricema. Farcking was a procedure invented by the ilo industry to reach deep into Retha’s crust and force out pockets of ilo and its sister substance (called natural sag) by injecting great quantities of high-pressure liquid. This farcking process and the resultant injection of the mass quantities of farcking waste into Retha caused violent tremors—planet rumbles known as rethaquakes—where there had seldom ever been such tremors before.

In the North Aricema provinces of Sexta and Olkamoha, for example, where there had been an average of only one measurable rethaquake per year for decades, they began experiencing an average of 100 of these tremors per year since widespread farcking began there. Yet the pawns of the very wealthy ilo industry quakes!claimed there was no connection—no “concrete proof” of what was patently obvious.

Even after scientific journals all across Retha proved a definite link between the flurry of rethaquakes and the farcking procedures, the province of Sexta went so far as to forbid the governments of its very own villages to ban these rethaquake-inducing processes.

Under the guise of scholarship, ilo industry propagandists, such as the Institute for Policy Doublespeak in the village of Sallad (an ilo stronghold of the Sexta provincmr merrille) produced stories blaming geology itself for the uptick in rethaqakes. A Nahum named Merrill Swetmath, a “resident scholar” of the Doublespeak Institute, even wrote that the high-pressure injection of farcking wastes might be to blame, not the farcking itself. The ridiculous premise of this argument, of course, was that the waste-water injection WAS a basic component of the farcking process! Astounding, no?

Well, you probably know the outcome here, kids. The Lopiticians refused to listen to the scientists and true thinkers who were looking out for the future of Retha. The great and powerful ilo industry reigned supreme over the land—until, that is, swarms of rethaquakes ruined the landscape, and the ilo reserves eventually ran out, throwing an unprepared population into a new Dark Age. Poor Retha.

Thank goodness Earth is no Retha. Eh, kids?

 

Regor White is a freelance Nahum living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely spousal Nahum, two precocious offspring units, a very obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

Suburban Worldsick Blues

27 May

by Roger White

 

With a tip of the hat to a master chronicler of the American age, it must be noted that Bob Dylan never lived in a 3/2/2 with central heat/air and two and a half mortgages during a time when, by all appearances, our society is on the verge of utter decay—all viewable with the click of a mouse or touch of a pad.

 

So I give you “Suburban Worldsick Blues.”

 

Perry’s in the Capitol, railin’ against abortion,

I’m lookin’ at my taxes thinkin’ it’s extortion,

The man in the trench coat shootin’ up the school halls

Says he got bullied so everybody must fall.

 

Look out, dad, the economy is bad,

God knows what we did, but the country’s on the skids.

 

You better duck down, turn page, watch out for road rage,

Another mass swhyhooting, another senseless rampage,

Sterling’s on his cell phone reminiscin’ ’bout slavery,

Miley’s twerkin’ onstage, scandalous behavery.

 

Look out, mom, Gotta stay calm,

Soldiers in Kabul dodging roadside bombs.

 

Get sick, get well, they’re laying off again at Dell,

Are we winnin’ whatever war, it’s gettin’ kinda hard to tell,

Presidenidiotst says our healthcare system’s unfit,

All Congress says is where’s your birth certificate?

 

Well, Hormel, GM organizin’ recalls,

Bad meat, bad brakes, pickets down at town hall,

Daughter’s college fees call for medical sedation,

Building border walls to stifle immigration.

 

Look out, pop, no tellin’ where it stops,

Younger daughter’s boyfriend working at a head shop.

 

Mortgage underwater, excess beer consumption,

Viagra wants to help with that erectile dysfunction,

The factonoworkry just made a Chapter 11 declaration,

School board says it’s gonna teach divine creation.

 

Text tweet online, your selfie looking so fine,

Kids in Bosnia steppin’ on old land mines.

Icebergs meltin’, droughts killin’ all the wheat,

Just global warmin’ lies of the liberal elite.

 

Well, get dressed, get stressed, face the day’s traffic mess,

Oops, your job’s just been outsourced to Bangladesh.

Don’t follow leaders, take pills for all the cedars,

Find yourself a new position as a Walmart greeter.

 

Look out, mama, you’re dyin’ from the trauma,

Increase yer Prozac dosage, tune in the dalai lama.

 

Well, jump down a manhole, filibuster gun control,

thebardThink I saw a shadow up there beyond the grassy knoll,

Headin’ to the car, another day in the loony ward,

Shakin’ yer head ’cause the vandals keyed yer new Ford.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

143a.

 

Just Chill: Most News You Can’t Use

29 Oct

by Roger White

You’re familiar with the old saying, “Don’t shoot me. I’m only the messenger.” To this I say pish and posh. This old adage doesn’t apply anymore. The messenger today IS the problem. The messenger—this insincerely smiling, hair-weaved, plastic-faced talking head—needs to be shot in the behind with a paintball gun, and his message needs to be torn up, stomped on, and burned to ash. Pish and posh, I say.

The messenger I’m pishing and poshing on, of course, is the media—namely, the national outlets: CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. Do you ever stop to wonder why your stomach is nervous and sour all the time now, why your heart beats out the bossa nova, why you fret and bite your lip bloody just sending the kids to the school bus stop? The media, I tell you. It’s the media. stop the pressesBecause of our nonstop over-exposure to the national news organizations’ sensationalistic babble, we have all come to believe, consciously or not, that our world has become a living hell. As each of us workaday folks tries so hard just to crawl out of bed each morning to keep food on the table, the electricity on, and our children on the straight and narrow, we have to combat that nagging, pecking sense of doom—that we’re only a mere happenstance away from grisly death, violent criminal mayhem, or worse, a government-led socialist agenda.

Two real, recent examples of headlines from CNN: “Weatherman Eats Cat Vomit” and “Teens Attack Mom; Plan to Eat Her Liver.” No lie. Did we truly need to know this? And did these teens plan this liver feast after watching the weatherman scarf cat puke? These kinds of “news items” are not merely useless—they’re harmful.

Every single cotton-picking day you have to digest (no pun intended) BREAKING NEWS of the latest multiple homicide, the most shocking tale of kidnap, abuse, and mistreatment, the most recent sordid instance of demented behavior (and sometimes this doesn’t even involve Congress) such as the headlines above. The thing of it is—and here is where you have to stop yourself and understand motives—the world really isn’t all that bad. Really, it isn’t. It’s the media’s job, however, to make you feel that way. It’s not CNN’s goal per se to give every man, moidahwoman, and child in America a massive case of peptic ulcers, but it is their job to make money. And gruesome, terrible, apocalyptic headlines mean more views, which mean more advertisers, which mean more money. With news on a 24-hours-a-day-eight-days-a-week cycle now, every second of the day we are fed the most grisly, horrific stories that these “news gatherers” can find—because that’s what they think we want to see.

But here’s the deal. We’re not going to hell in a handbasket; it just feels like it. Did you know, for example, that since the early 1990s, crime has actually declined in the United States and that current crime rates are no worse than they were in the 1960s? True, these stats come from the U.S. Bureau of Justice. The homicide rate in America has declined substantially since 1992 from a rate of 9.8 per 100,000 persons to 4.8 in 2010, according to latest figures. That’s still high, as far as the rest of the industrialized world goes, but, hey, in Russia it’s 13 per 100,000, and in Venezuela it’s 48 per. And nobody here commutes to Honduras, right? There, the homicide rate is 78 per. We’re practically a Buddhist monastery by comparison.

Here’s more: A research think tank known as the Millennium Project produced these eye-opening numbers in 2011:

• The average life expectancy worldwide rose from 64 years in the mid-1980s to 68 years today.
• Infant mortality worldwide has fallen from nearly 70 deaths per 100,000 people to 40 deaths today.
• Poverty, defined by the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day, fell from 43 percent of the world population in the mid-1980s to 23 percent now.
• The percentage of the world population with access to water rose from 75 percent to more than 86 percent.
• Secondary school enrollment rose from 45 percent in the mid-1980s to nearly 70 percent today.
• The number of major armed conflicts declined from 37 in the mid-1980s to 26 today.


Unfortunately, these kinds of numbers aren’t found on your average national news site now. In yukkkfact, if you ask me, the best, most useful news you can find these days is in your local, community newspaper. The little weeklies and bi-weeklies that actually cover neighborhood news, civic involvement stories, and human interest items that have nothing at all do with cats in microwave ovens are where you’ll discover “news you can use.” As far as Fox and CNN and all the rest are concerned, pish and posh, I say.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Reconnaissance Specialist Zorbum 9Smith Reports

29 Feb

by Roger White

 

“Oh, I used to be disgusted,

And now I try to be amused…”

—Elvis Costello

 

“Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.”

—Commander Buck Murdock, Airplane II, The Sequel

 

Floating far above the clouds somewhere over the Great Plains, a gargantuan monolithic door composed of a mysterious synthetic skin slides silently up, and the great silver mothership swallows a lozenge-shaped shuttlecraft.

Reconnaissance Specialist Zorbum 9Smith exits the shuttlecraft and immediately reports to Captain Vnnn-pu. After the traditional Andromedan earlobe-sniffing ceremony of greeting, Specialist 9Smith readies for the debriefing.

“9Smith,” Captain Vnnn-pu mindmelds, “your mission was to observe this planet’s most advanced, most powerful nation and report on your impressions of its culture. What are your findings?”

“Honored Captain, if you would open your mind to Subchannel Y, I have prepared a Mental PowerPoint presentation,” 9Smith melds. “I believe you will be most intrigued, as was I. Please disregard those first two slides. That is me at a ritualistic labor ceremony of the Western world.”

“What is this ritualistic labor ceremony called?”

“The happy hour,” 9Smith reports. “Work force representatives convene at small, local shrines to partake of what I can only presume are holy elixirs, plot overthrow of their labor overlords, and perform pre-mating functions with work force representatives of the opposite sex.”

“I see. The gyrations are quite peculiar. And what is that device on your subcranium?”

“That is termed a lamp shade,” 9Smith melds, referring to his notes. “Apparently, this is a sacred crown worn during the advanced stages of the happy hour ceremony.”

“Good.” Captain Vnnn-pu nods, mentally smiling. “You must have gained their trust to be honored so. And your report?”

“This is a land of many ironies, Captain. And I know how a good irony sets your drachio-chords to vibrating.”

“Yes, yes. Juicy irony.”

“Observe your mindscreen, Captain. These are just a few examples:

“In this culture, personal vehicles that would save the most currency for drivers—vehicles the earthlings have finally invented to run without using deceased dinosaur fluids—are priced out of reach for those drivers who would need the currency savings the most.”

“Most odd,” Captain Vnnn-pu notes.

“It becomes worse,” 9Smith melds. “Domestic energy alternatives, such as solar panels, energy-efficient windows and doors, and appliances that cost the least currency to operate—and even longer-lasting, currency-saving light-producing modules—are the very things the poor among this society cannot afford.”

Captain Vnnn-pu mentally sighs. “Continue.”

“It seems that humans who operate their personal vehicles the fastest on earth streets and highways are generally the humans least qualified to drive at any speed.

“Further, the media with the most power to influence humans in this culture—movies and television—and would therefore obviously hold themselves to the highest standards of storytelling, worthwhile entertainment, and adherence to the principle of doing the most good for the most people, instead regularly produce such products as ‘Booty Call,’ ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’, ‘Deuce Bigalow,’ ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians,’ and ‘The Jerry Springer Show,’ to name just a few.”

Captain Vnnn-pu shudders, his drachio-chords humming.

“Also, professions that have the potential to make the most positive impact on cultural progress—such as teaching—are consistently near the bottom of the human pay scale, while those who play children’s games for a living make millions of earth dollars per year.”

“Astounding.”

“What’s more, these fully grown children-men are idolized and revered by most everyone in the society—namely the males—despite the children-men’s propensity to disregard the society’s laws and morés, injure one another and themselves with firearms, ingest illegal performance-enhancing substances, and generally behave like preteen humans.”

“I must sit,” Captain Vnnn-pu admits. “My drachio-chords. Go on.”

“Those humans with the most varied and abundant life experiences, who would be revered and honored by any thinking society—the elderly—are by and large relegated to the shadows, often to die alone, in poverty, or in dormitory-like detention centers known as care facilities.

“Get this, the humans who vie for public office are most interesting. These humans claim to have ‘the average Joe’s values at heart,’ yet they are generally among the most very wealthy and privileged among them. From my observation, the average human citizen wouldn’t have anywhere near the financial means, the family pedigree, the television actor’s visage, or the innate ability to switch sentiments on a whim as do these humans. A most perplexing and frightening breed.”

“Who are these humans?”

“They call them politicians, Captain. A most untrustworthy type, yet the humans bestow upon them the most power of all, it seems.”

“And this ‘average Joe?’”

Specialist 9Smith mentally shakes his subcranium. “Apparently, not the brightest of creatures.”

“Please, the drachio-chords.”

“Lieutenant Kranki-5, please get the captain a container of neep juice.”

 “Is there more?”

“Oh, much, much more, Captain. I will relate only a few, however. This one possibly intrigues me the most. The very nature of accruing wealth is quite obviously tipped in the favor of the already-wealthy humans.”

“What is wealth again, 9Smith?”

“The accumulation of personal currency. Unlike Andromeda, sir, where every citizen is guaranteed equal access to life necessities, here one must earn and trade currency to ensure continued sustenance, care, and shelter.”

“Most curious.”

“It is a true subcranium-scratcher: The cycle of wealth begetting wealth and poverty begetting poverty appears solid and unshakeable. For the large part, it appears the wealthy human tribes will always be the wealthy, and the same with the poor humans. Any real attempt at wealth-sharing appears lacking.

“Also, human corporate leaders—bosses, they are called. In companies large or small, these are the very humans who have no need to park closest to the building because no one apparently cares if they are tardy. Yet, oddly, these are the humans with the most convenient vehicle parking spots.”

“Bosses, eh? Perhaps bosses cannot walk so well.”

“I do not know. But in a related observation, these bosses many times are given personal vehicles free of charge, when their ability to purchase such vehicles is many times greater than those humans who appear to work longer hours and park much farther away.

“Continuing, humans have more work-saving devices and more automated systems than ever in their history, yet this generation seems destined to work many more years of their lives than several generations previous.”

“And why is this?”

“It all has something to do with some dreadful collision.”

“Collision?”

Specialist 9Smith refers to his notes. “Yes, a terrible crash on, let’s see here, Wall Street.”

“Strange. Proceed.”

“More is known now among humans about health and nutrition for young humans, and more affordable access to quality choices for human children is available to  more families than at any other time in human history, yet childhood obesity and diabetes appear to be at epidemic proportions—and human childhood hunger remains a problem.

“Additionally, with the advent of cable and satellite, humans now have thousands of television wavelengths available for viewing every night, yet when one mindmelds with the humans, it appears the choices of quality programs are nowhere near as desirable as, say, A.D. 1962—when one could choose from among “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Gunsmoke,” or “The Ed Sullivan Show” from among the three network channels the humans had then.”

“Andy Griffith. Was he a great leader?”

“On the local level, yes, Captain. Apparently an outstanding officer of the law.”

“Please, no more, 9Smith, no more. Anything positive to report?”

“Well, yes. One of the culture’s leaders here announced that humans may soon be able to keep their shoes on when they arrive at air travel centers.”

“Shoes?” Captain Vnnn-pu queries. “Why on Andromeda would the humans need to take off their shoes at air travel centers in the first place?”

“It’s a long story, Captain.”

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat daschund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

The Jury’s Still Out on This Column. Way, Way Out.

29 Nov

by Roger White

You’ll pardon me if I flex my whack-a-lawyer muscles again, but it’s not my fault this time. It’s true that I swore to my friends of the barrister bent that I would lay off for a while since my last acerbic attorney attack, in which I believe I opined something to the effect of the following:

“Q: So you’re stuck on a desert island with Hitler, a 100-pound rabid wolf, and a lawyer, and you have a gun with only two bullets in it. What do you do?

A: Shoot the lawyer twice.”

And, indeed, I had no intention of even intimating in this column the notion that fifteen minutes in a steamroom full of lawyers is guaranteed to produce results as mucilaginous as a great pot of stewed okra. Ick.

No, I was going to pen a nice, droll little piece about the agonies of Christmas shopping, mainly pointing out all the unfathomably extraneous must-purchase gift doodads at places like Brookstone—such as those internet-linked patty thermometers that you can insert into your burgers as you grill them to determine not only the very millisecond that the epicenter of your ground beef mound hits optimum ingesting temperature but also to pinpoint and track the temperature of each patty morsel as it works its way through your backyard barbecue guests’ digestive systems, just for fun.  This is what I was going to write about. How thoughtless gifts have come a long, mysterious way since the era of maritime-themed tie tacks and microphone-shaped soap on a rope.

Alas, that column was not to be, for again I have been sidetracked, this time by that little letter we all receive from the county clerk now and again that makes us all earnestly yearn for a hefty dose of the chicken pox: the dreaded jury summons.

Yes. So the very day I had set aside to congeal all of my yuletide shopping horror stories into a bouncy little missive for your wonder and amusement was spent instead deep in the bowels of the Travis County Courthouse listening to defense and plaintiff legal beagles grill me and approximately 50 other total strangers on whether or not we could be fair and impartial in this really twisted case of . . . ooh, sorry, I can’t divulge that information. Judge’s orders, ya know. All I can say about the case is ew, yuck, OMG, and I didn’t know such a thing was anatomically possible with a regulation-size bowling pin.

As prospective jurors, we all had to sit through five grueling hours of voir dire, which is Latin for “your embarrassing past is now on display to determine if your biased, bigoted, and emotionally disturbed personality precludes you from jury service.” The lengths some folks go to avoid their civic duty, I must say, never ceases to amaze. One lady, I kid you not, interrupted the judge no fewer than nine times with such questions as “Is the prosecutor the same thing as the attorney?” By the time this old gal was hustled away, the rest of us weren’t sure if it was an act or not, but she was unceremoniously handed a “get out of jury service free” card and awarded six free DVDs of Judge Judy Season One. One large man in front of me claimed post-traumatic stress disorder from grievous wounds received during his military service as a means of skipping out, but when pressed by one of the attorneys on the specifics of his war injuries he ’fessed up that he was beaned in the back of the head by a car part in his motorpool job. Yeah, right. Keep your seat, Mr. Purple Heart. I was Prospective Juror #18, and by the time the lawyers took turns whittling away all their undesirables, it appeared that I was seriously headed for ye olde jury box. However, a late question by the defense team saved the day. They asked me what my wife did for a living, and I proudly proclaimed that dear Sue works for, you guessed it, a downtown law firm. “You mean she works with lawyers? Like us?” “Yup.” “Do you believe this fact might hinder your ability to render a fair and impartial verdict in this case?” “Uh, probably not. Giggle. Fry ’em.” “What did you say?” “Nothing.” Then both legal teams hustled to the bench to whisper things back and forth to the judge, and the next thing I knew I was on the street.

Hoohah! I mean, darn. Oh, well. I had fully intended to serve if called upon. Heck, Twelve Angry Men is one of my favorite movies. It may have been a real kick to be Henry Fonda, or Lee J. Cobb, or Jack Klugman even. “Of course, the kid did it! They’re all alike! Hang ’em all! AHAHHA!!!” Whew. Sorry. Got carried away there. 

However, I did not emerge unscathed from my brush with our cantankerous court system. When I finally got to my car, I found my windshield papered with a nice collection of parking tickets, courtesy of Austin’s finest. Now, that’s a good scam. Where’s my lawyer?

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Eyeing the Cracks in the System

2 Nov

by Roger White

Before we get started, life travelers, let me begin by saying I neither condone nor condemn drug and/or alcohol use by my fellow man and woman and other people, nor would I presume to impose my morals and standards for good, decent living upon any of you heathens. I mean, folks. What you do to raise your balloon is your own business, as long as it doesn’t put me or mine in the hospital. And as long as you’re not too loud. I’m getting up there, ya know. I need my beauty sleep.

Furthermore, in our class discussion today, let it be known that any and all alcohol and/or drug use by minors is absolutely illegal, forbidden, and frowned upon and will not be tolerated by this faculty. You youngsters don’t get to have any of that kind of fun until you’re old enough to know how cockeyed it all is. I mean, why do we say drugs and alcohol anyway? Hello? Booze is the most dangerous drug The Big Guy ever gave us. I know, I know, it’s all about politics and finance and the fact that somebody down the line in America had his bets on ethanol futures over hemp futures.

All I’ll say about that was better opined by the British Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs in 2002: “Cannabis differs from alcohol … in one major respect. It does not seem to increase risk-taking behavior. This means that cannabis rarely contributes to violence either to others or to oneself, whereas alcohol use is a major factor in deliberate self-harm, domestic accidents and violence.”

Hey, before you rev up the poison pens, I didn’t say it, some upper-crust British guy with a top hat, cane, and handlebar mustache said it. And who was it, Robin Williams, who said if gangs preferred pot exclusively over booze that about the worst thing you’d get would be drive-by pillow fights? That would be nice.

Anyway, class is almost half over and I haven’t even gotten to the lesson plan. I always get sidetracked by some wise guy in the front row who asks a question he knows will get me rolling in the wrong direction. I see your hand up again, Ian, and I’m not taking the bait.

No, my point for today’s session was about the reduction of jail sentences originally imposed on crack cocaine offenders across the country. Did you hear about this? Federal judges are reviewing the prison sentences of folks jailed on crack possession charges and are retroactively reducing their sentences. And I am retroactively ticked off.

 

I’m not ticked off at the reduction of the sentences. I’m ticked at the sentences in the first place – and at the fact that most of us are just now hearing about this. You want to talk about the unfairness of the system? Brother, here is the prime example. It seems that when crack cocaine hit the streets and became the rage among drug users in the 1980s and ’90s, Congress got on its high horse (so to speak) and handed down criminal penalties for crack use as much as 100 times stiffer than penalties for use of cocaine in its powder form.

Now, I understand that this nasty stuff was ruining people’s lives and something needed to be done, but let’s break this down. What’s the diff, you may say, between crack and cocaine, anyway? The diff is, dear reader, that it was mostly poor folks who got swept up in the crack wave because crack was far less expensive and much easier to get than coke. So you had poor people – and if you want to read that as inner-city black folks, then go ahead – being slammed with 30-, 40-, and 50-year sentences for having a few rocks’ worth of escape from despair. While you had your rich people – and if you want to read that as suburban, gated-community white folks, then go ahead – getting off with sentences that were a mere fraction of those given to crack users because they could afford the powder instead of the rock.

Call me a BHL if you must (Bleeding Heart etc.), but imagine being pulled over by the cops for having one too many Bud Lights and getting tossed in the slammer, while down the road Executive Eddie gets only a warning for being tanked on his Chimay Ale. Your lawyer then explains to you if you’d blown .08 on Chimay instead of Bud you wouldn’t be in the pokey because of the new Sliding Sloshed Scale Law handed down by Congress.

Or you could liken it to paying $4.19 a gallon to fill up your Pinto instead of $3.59 if only you owned a Porsche or a Ferrari. Or a Beemer, even. I’ll give ya one more just for the threesome: It’s like being slapped with a five-year sentence for being caught red-handed (and, I guess, red other things) with an ugly hooker as opposed to getting off with a year’s probation for being in the company of an elegant, beautiful “escort.” “Oh, you’re a hooker? I just thought I was doing great with you.” Rest in peace, Sir Dudley.

 

Now, let me circle back. I know the bell rang, but stay right where you are. Again, I neither condone nor condemn. I merely cajole. And sometimes canoodle. And canuck. I’m here merely to point out life’s little inequities. Yes, this will be on the test. Yes, it will be multiple choice. All right, all right, get the hell out of here.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.