TUESDAY, AUGUST 14
Citing an increase in a life-threatening allergy to peanuts that may now afflict two percent of Americans, officials of the Claremont Unified School District announce that they are banning the peanut from all district-prepared meals–that the word "peanut" will no longer be included in the district’s food vocabulary. However, history classes will still include the accomplishments of George Washington Carver.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15
A 1994 video surfaces in which Dick Cheney defends the U.S. decision not to depose Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War because it would create a "quagmire" for years to come. Said Cheney: "If we’d gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn’t have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq . . . Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein’s government, then what are you going to put in its place? That’s a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off . . . How many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth? Our judgment was, not very many, and I think we got it right." Since then, of course, Cheney and Co. have recalculated. A dead Saddam is worth 3,759 dead Americans, and counting.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 16
Forty teachers new to the profession–or simply new to the Morongo Unified School District–assemble at Oasis Elementary School in Twentynine Palms for a day of orientation, which I assume boiled down to getting all the complaints about the heat out of their systems. Hey, did I say "boiled down"? That’s good! It’s about a gazillion degrees out there again today. And the new hires were recruited from places like Montana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Oregon, Washington and Suckersville. "We go to places where there are more teachers than jobs," explains Doug Weller, the MUSD’s assistant superintendent for human resources. Also, to places where people haven’t heard about the district’s high turnover, perhaps best expressed by the famous local expression, "Moroncome, Morongo." A bit cruel? Yeah, well, no more so than whoever lured new physical education instructor Andrew Amosa of Tacoma, Wash., who accepted a job at Yucca Valley and Morongo Valley elementary schools because he wanted to stay on the West Coast. Hope he didn’t actually bring his surfboard.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 18
Steven Mendoza is appointed acting city manager of Desert Hot Springs during a special meeting of the city council, which apparently plans to rotate the most-powerful position in local government among everybody in town. Mendoza is the third person in 10 days to be the so-called CEO of the city. Ann Marie Gallant resigned a week ago Thursday (Aug. 10), apparently in response to a bad performance review by the council. John Hensley was appointed interim city manager, not so much because he has experience as a city manager but because he has experience as an interim–he’s the city’s former interim police chief–but he resigned Monday, which was his first official day on the job. It would obviously look stupid to appoint another interim city manager, so Mendoza got the title of acting city manager. He’s already the assistant city manager, which basically makes him the acting city manager when there is no city manager, but the city council apparently wanted to dot all its "i’s" and cross all its "t’s," and that’s very important, inasmuch as there are two i’s and two t’s in the title of "acting city manager." Mendoza is also Desert Hot Springs’ community development director and makes a wonderful lobster bisque.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 19
Six days after White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove become the latest member of George W. Bush’s war team to announce an early resignation–an option the American soldiers they sent to Iraq don’t have–the big pussy makes the rounds of network interview shows and whines that he’s being persecuted by his enemies. On Fox News, Rove compares himself to a legendary monster whom the ancient Anglo-Saxon hero Beowulf sought to slay. "I mean, I’m a myth, and they’re . . . You know, I’m Grendel . . . they’re after me."
MONDAY, AUGUST 20
Palm Springs police are still scratching their heads over a vacation home break-in where they found signs of possible witchcraft activity and an apparent homage to the notorious Manson Family murders of 1969. Either that or a tip of the 666 to Dick Cheney. Clues? A large pentagram–the five-pointed star often associated with witchcraft and Satanism–was drawn on the floor. Every picture was turned backwards, and every chair was turned upside-down. "Helter Skelter," "Pigs," and "Blood" were written on walls. Charles Manson’s followers arranged furniture oddly and wrote similar words on the wall in blood when they murdered eight people nearly four decades ago. Cops say there’s no way to tell whether the Palm Springs break-in was the work of witchcraft practitioners, devil-worshippers or simply bored vandals. Karl Rove?