News in Review

Flooding in floodplains? Bored teenagers taking drugs? You don't say!

It's time once again to review all the news that isn't.

Least shocking local news story: Flooding along watercourses near Catalina.

We finally got a decent rain, which any Tucsonan worthy of the name knows is all good. As usual, the local news outlets pretended it was a natural disaster, talking excitedly while showing us murky footage of floating Sentras, listing power poles and--whoa!--water swirling in storm drains. Predictably, though, their big story was flooding in the floodplain. Never mind that most of us are aware that water runs downhill, or that it is widely thought that only a foolish man builds his house upon the sand. (It's in the Bible.) He who lives by the wash gets wet by the wash--usually in July, August or December.

Pima County has been buying up floodplain property since the big rain of October 1983--ah, my children, that was a storm--but there's really no saving steel-jawed frontierspeople from themselves. They will go parking trailers in the pleasant shade of old mesquites. Major wreckage downstream from the paved-over city and the channelized washes--pouring more concrete into the Rillito is the city's usual response to a downpour--has occurred about every 10 years since '83; minor flooding happens more often. That's how it is.

Now, though, the immense damage to mountain drainages has added an element of real surprise and danger to the cyclic melodrama of the Sonoran year: The wall of water that rolled through Oracle three weeks ago has frightening implications for that pretty little town. The Aspen Fire functionally created new flood zone, and Oracle, through no fault of its own, is in it. The peril Oracle faces is the real monsoon story.

Least shocking national news item: Pedophile priest murdered in prison.

For some reason, newscasters reported this from an urgent forward crouch, showing the whites of their eyes like nervous horses. And now there's going to be some sort of investigation into how something so awful could have happened in a nice penitentiary in Shirley, Mass.

Surely no one is losing sleep over this one. Is any one of the following statements open to dispute?

· Maximum-security prisons are crowded, desperately understaffed warehouses full of people who, we can only hope, really are all guilty of dreadful crimes.

· Murder is a fairly common event in these places.

· Pedophiles have a phenomenally high mortality rate in prison.

· A pedophile priest is not going to be popular anywhere.

Why, then, is there supposed to be some sort of scandal about John Geoghan's murder? Because he was an old white guy who'd worn a suit every day, he should have been protected better than a standard-issue felon?

Or is it because the inmate who was momentarily left alone with Geoghan has a history of gay-bashing? Dark allusions to this keep coming up in the context of the prison's supposed negligence, but what could the murderer's malignant opinions have to do with that? The guy apparently also hates nonwhites and Jews, which makes him pretty much an equal-opportunity homicidal creep. Maybe he loathes Catholic priests as well. Besides, normally intelligent people know that "gay" and "pedophile" are unrelated categories. "Pedophile" does not mean "male boy-molester." It means "adult child molester," and if Geoghan had messed with 150 little girls instead of little boys, he would likely be just as dead right now. Given what he was and where he was, his death was just a matter of time. End of horrible story.

Study of the week: Bored, unhappy teenagers more likely to take drugs.

OK, making fun of the "New Study Finds" squibs in the Star is like shooting big fish in a small barrel, but still. Who shelled out the funding for this one?

"Researchers" could have asked anyone in the graduating class of any high school anywhere in America and produced these "findings." In exchange for a hit, of course.

And, finally, most shocking news item: Bush vows to fight terrorists

I apologize. Honestly, I had thought that our president was a shameless chickenhawk, the sort of guy who would duck Vietnam, skip out of the Air Force Reserve and then spend his life hollering, "Let's you and him fight!" You know, the kind of person who would leave tens of thousands of American service people to die one by one in the heat and dust at the hands of an enemy they can't even identify and then haggle over their pay. I truly believed he was the sort of leader who would make a cosmically stupid tactical mistake (killing whole bunches of people to turn a despicable but stable state into a writhing hotbed of terrorists) and never even bother to set foot on the ground he'd soaked with blood.

But no! Here he is stepping up, acting like a real shogun, vowing not to be intimidated and plunging right into combat with our poor, tired soldiers. Having him there, leading the charge like Henry V or George Pickett will for sure clear up the whole mess in a sec.

Best case scenario? Shock and Awe, II: Dick Cheney wades in and finds that cowardly Saddam and then Rumsfeld roughs him up a little. Then Saddam is forced into the ring with Bush--who'll wear his flight suit, of course. It'd be mano a mano, winner take all, and you know it'd be a blowout.

And our soldiers could all come home.

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