SPENDING BIG, BUYING NOTHING: While elected officials dither about, our pristine beaches are being overrun by an invasion of giant jellyfish. Some of these mutant creatures are as big as eight feet in diameter. To date, experts have established no conclusive connection between the current tsunami of quivering ectoplasms choking Santa Barbara’s iconic waterfront with the assault by hordes of jellies upon the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant’s cooling vents just two years ago. But the odds that these events are coincidental remains statistically quite remote. However, three things we do know for certain. First, the jellyfish are bad for the tourist industry. Second, their arrival portends the end of the world. (That also is bad for our tourist industry.) And lastly, illegal immigrants are to blame. (They, by contrast, are very good for the tourist economy.)

Angry Poodle

Scientific information remains scant about these gelatinous hordes. They are said to be of the lion’s mane species, which, despite its size, does not pack a lethal sting. They are also said to be so sexually promiscuous that individual jellyfish can mate with themselves if no partners are available. More disturbing to families with children, these wanton creatures have no aversion to engaging in onanistic acts of amorous embrace in highly public places. We also know they are not indigenous to the area, but have come from afar — drawn by cold water currents generated by wind-driven ocean upwelling — to steal jobs away from our local jellyfish population. I could tell you more about these jellyfish if all the “experts” and “high ranking city officials who speak on the condition that they shall remain anonymous” were actually at their desks when I called shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. That so many people simultaneously “happened” to be in meetings, as I was assured by their underlings, strikes me as statistically improbable.

Naturally, when I called the White House to see what, if anything, President Barack Obama was going to do about this jellyfish infestation, I was told that that he, too, was in a meeting. Something about an oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. Something about sending 1,200 National Guard and $500 million to Arizona so they arrest people for DWB — driving while brown. While I recognize that there’s not much Obama can actually do about the jellyfish — or the Oil Spill or illegal immigration, for that matter — it is of the utmost importance that he appear to be taking charge. I suggested the president dispatch a few thousand National Guard to Santa Barbara — armed, of course, with $500 million in spending money — so they can patrol the beaches and shoot any jellyfish on sight. Or bribe them to go back home.

I am told that where the politics of immigration is concerned, Arizona is the canary in the coal mine, the elephant under the rug, the dog in the manger, and the Trojan Gift Horse into whose mouth we must not look, all rolled into one. Personally, I think there’s a whole lot of misplaced angst out there. If we’re going to keep the foreigners out, we should start with everyone sporting a smarty-pants British accent. At a time when American journalism is on the ropes, can we afford to sit idly by while these insidious limeys take over our American media? I call it the “Simon Cowell” effect. Why is it that every TV “reality” show looking for the obligatory nasty host hires a Brit to do the job? Have Americans grown that soft? Why is it that National Public Radio is now teeming with refugees from the BBC, bad adenoids and all? How many corn-fed cud-chewing American reporters have been put out of work just so that the networks can pretend they’re not responsible for the dumbing-down of American culture? That high-toned, upper-class, pseudo-posh accent has invaded automated voice mail, airline PA systems, and even elevators that announce what floor they’re on. I can only wonder what kind of pernicious insidious effect that will have on our sense of national identity. By the time I figure it out, I can assure you, it will be too late. Not to belabor the point, but have you considered the name of the oil company responsible for the monstrous Armageddon now erupting in the Gulf of Mexico? It’s British Petroleum, folks, not PEMEX. Do I have to spell everything out?

And then, of course, there are the freaking Canadians. First, we let them play in our hockey leagues. That was just the camel’s nose under the proverbial tent. Now Canadians, like Steve Nash, have taken over basketball — which, aside from lacrosse, remains the most authentically American sport ever. His team, the Phoenix Los Sols, is about to embarrass our Lakers in a come-from-behind upset. How is it that every bleating-heart folksinger and rock-and-roller with literary pretensions turns out to be from Manitoba or Saskatchewan? How is it, also, that Canadians have gotten such a hammerlock on the white stand-up comedian market — at least for the non-redneck comedy subgenre? It gets worse. Right here in Santa Barbara, just a few years ago, we had a city councilmember who was actually born in Canada voting on whether Americans born in America had the right to drink on their own beaches. (For the record, he thought we should, while most of his American-born council colleagues sold us out.) Where are the Minute Men militia when you need them most? Protecting the wrong border from the wrong enemies, that’s where.

A few years ago, my kids flushed decapitated Barbie Doll heads down the toilet to determine the precise breaking point of the sewage system. Who do you think showed up at 7:30 in the morning to fix the mess? Not anyone with a British accent, I can assure you. Or anyone whose ancestors had ever been subjected to the boot-heel of the British Empire. It was some guy from Michoacán. It turns out he had two daughters enrolled at Santa Barbara High School. He had another already in college. I could have been wrong, but I had my doubts that his papers were sufficiently green for the immigration authorities. But I didn’t ask. I didn’t care. I still don’t.

In the meantime, if you’re out strolling on the beach, watch out for the jellyfish carcasses. Even though they’re dead, I understand they can still sting.


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