Dateline: Downtown

Dan Roche

Generally, this column is silent as regards national politics. There are sundry reasons for this, largely because past the local level, almost everything is a dog-and-pony, or donkey-and-elephant, show, a mirage and a sham and a goof. Your state representative has a far greater impact on how your life is coerced, threatened, and altogether governed than George W. Bush does in most every case. Also, one must be leery of antagonizing the nitwits, howlers, and button-eyed fatheads who comprise the majority of political partisans in our fair Columbiana. So I do not vote in Presidential elections, or if I do I vote for the candidate who is least likely to win. To vote for the Natural Law Party, the Socialist Workers Party, or the Boston Tea Party is to send even the slightest scare to the two dominant caporegimes and so worth doing.

For some time, I meant to vote for Barack Obama. I don’t know why. I just like the guy. I like his story, I like that he struggles with cigarettes. I like that he did coke and doesn’t care if you know it. But then I thought, well, no matter whether McCain or Obama win, foreign policy will be dictated by the Council on Foreign Relations, while domestic policy will be dictated by Satan. I began to vacillate.

I still haven’t decided to not vote for Obama. In addition to the aforementioned considerations, and furthermore that of balance, by way of an excuse pleaded for the last eight years of embarrassment – the main job of the President of the United States is to look responsible, and ours hasn’t done that – I still think that the junior Senator from Illinois may be the empty suit for the job. One thing will keep me from voting for him: Sarah Palin’s pregnant daughter.

The matter has become an opportunity to highlight weaknesses in abstinence-only education. In a post entitled “So Much for Abstinence-Only Education,” Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas writes, “Teens will do what they will do. It’s obvious Bristol (Palin, Governor Palin’s daughter) would’ve been better served with a discussion about safe sex. Instead, she’s now facing a shotgun wedding to the baby’s father.”

This may be so, and I’m not arguing against advocacy of safe sex or condom distribution. But where does this assumption that Bristol Palin has only been exposed to abstinence-only sex education come from? She attends Wasilla High School in Alaska, a public school (who did not return my calls). I do know that Governor Palin has expressed support for abstinence-only programs as recently as 2006, but also that Alaska has withdrawn from the Title V, abstinence-only until marriage, sex ed funding confidence scheme engineered by the old Gingrich Congress. I found nothing to suggest that Bristol or the kids of Alaska have been exposed to an abstinence-only program. If, say, the girl were HIV positive, would there be the same reaction?

The entire thing strikes me as trashy, an invasion of the privacy of a minor who is not running for office, and logically suspect at any rate. “Family Planning Perspectives”, a publication of the Guttmacher Institute, estimates that “Approximately 17% of couples experienced one or more breaks when using a polyurethane condom, compared with 3% when using a latex condom.” Where does this assumption that Bristol and her boyfriend were not practicing safe sex come from? Perhaps they were, unsuccessfully.

I don’t understand why this should be a matter of public record to begin with. If there were an equivalent teapot storm involving a Democrat, this column would be much more vituperative, and I would be much angrier, because Republicans thrive on this sort of story: it gives them an excuse to think about sex. Democrats should just accept that sometimes the unexpected happens, and look past it. If it continues for much longer, I will be voting for McCain out of sheer spite.

I’ll do it, so help me. Provided, of course, that the New Black Panther Party or the Christian Falangists are not fielding candidates.

Addendada: Go to the Harbor Arts Gallery. The current show, “DEconSTRUCTION”, is one of the better I’ve seen in some time. The artist, Yossi Veissid, is an Israeli who scribbles these close, detailed gestalt images, some of which are marginal, notebook scribblings, some of which are spectacular. I hear “M.C. Escher” in relation to his work, but he reminds me of (a perhaps less schizoid) Nick Blinko. I can’t suggest doing drugs before you go see the exhibit, but geek out on something and get weird first. Rumor has it he’s going to be here on the 11th…If you’ll notice, in front of the Science Building, people scrawled their names and different messages into the concrete when the walkways were being redone over the Summer. If that’s an indication of how the rebuilding project is going to go, I’m just going to transfer out. Come on: the school couldn’t send one of the campus police to hang out for an hour while the concrete set, so as to deter the genius who scrawled “SMOKE WEED” into the sidewalk? Chancellor Motley: Do the job right, or don’t do it. It’s a waste of taxpayer money – what did we get, $125 million to redo the Science Building? I’ll transfer to B.C. before I’m complicit in one more state-sponsored UMass Boston embarrassment. Seriously, I’m heated…As of 9/4, there is no roster for the men’s Soccer team, and the star player is nowhere to be found. Sources believe him to be in Haiti…Thank you to all the lovely sponsors who made Schwag Week (or Convocation, whatever they call it these days) a success…Has anyone else received multiple mailings regarding arriving and parking from the school? I got three copies of the same exact piece this morning, and I don’ even drive. What gives?…Longtime UMB people will be saddened to hear of the passing of William Indrisano of the old “Wit’s End” cafe. Former Mass Media staffer Jason Campos wrote that he was ‘always ready to give advice (unsolicited or not) … Many times, I would come in at 8 AM to the Wit’s End not feeling my best, but by the second sip of coffee and minute or two of conversation with Billy, my outlook for the day would be improved.’ Our deepest condolences to his friends and also especialy to the Indrisano family. Rest in Peace, Billy…