June 15, 2006

sometimes a notion smells like the ocean


Weegee (aka Usher "Arthur" Fellig, 1899–1968), Watermain Burst Uproots Madison Avenue, ca. 1940.

* Joe Conason on Ann Coulter. excerpt:

"Now the hard-drinking, trash-talking, fortysomething bachelorette bills herself as a Christian moralist, in holy battle against the liberal heathens.

"That whiff of brimstone in the air may be only the match she is striking for her next cigarette.

"But her version of 'Christianity' turns out to be a strangely modern and convenient faith, which encourages heaping scorn on bereaved widows, bearing false witness against them on television and publicly gloating over the ill-gotten profits thus attained. Leaving behind the golden rule of the Gospels, she embodies a new rule of gold: You can never be too rich, too thin or too vicious.

"Too vicious, however, is the only way to categorize Coulter’s attempted assassination of the Sept. 11 widows known as the Jersey Girls, whom she accuses of 'enjoying' the horrific deaths of their husbands in the World Trade Center inferno. She harangues them as 'broads,' 'witches' and 'millionaires,' for 'reveling in their status as celebrities' while they are 'lionized on TV and in articles about them.'

"Coming from an energetic publicity seeker like Coulter, who still whines bitterly about her elongated cover shot in Time magazine, this is an exercise in self-parody."
...
"What is most disturbing about this episode is not that these women can be victimized by a bully like Coulter, or even that the mainstream media, which abandoned traditional standards of fairness years ago, would eagerly assist her. What is most disappointing is the abject dereliction of the prominent politicians who worked so closely with the Jersey Girls.

"John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), the Senate sponsors of the bill that created the 9/11 Commission, both believed that an independent investigation was essential for reasons of honor and national security. They both know that they could not have prevailed against the White House—and the Republican congressional leadership—without the help of the widows."
...
"But that was then, and this is now—and these two pious politicians remain silent in the face of a malevolent attack visited on their erstwhile friends. Both men know that it is a lie to call these women partisans or profiteers. Both know that these women—and the families they helped to lead—brought honor and purpose to a legislative process that is often petty and corrupt.

"Shame on the silent senators. And please, let’s hear no more from either of them for a while about tolerance, respect and decency."

* Prohibition causes Drug violence. excerpt:

"Almost a century ago, the United States plunged into Prohibition, the criminalization of alcohol. Immediately, illicit dealers began supplying bootleg booze in the shadows. Gun battles erupted between rival rum-runners. Prisons were crammed with alcohol offenders. Police and judges were bribed to overlook 'speakeasy' bars. Street gangs and the Mafia grew in that grotesque time.

"After Prohibition was repealed, alcohol became legal under state regulation -- and the wave of alcohol crimes faded.

"Today history is repeating itself, via criminalization of disapproved drugs. Illicit dealers supply banned substances in the shadows. Gun battles erupt between rival operators. Prisons are crammed with narcotics offenders. Police and judges sometimes are bribed to look the other way. Street gangs and the Mafia profit from the lucrative trade. So do Muslim terrorists who control Afghanistan's opium poppies, and Latin American cartels in control of cocaine production. Local American peddlers carry guns, so they won't be robbed of their cash or stash. They sell to children or anyone able to buy. Addicts commit robberies to get money for daily fixes. Impure mixes by amateur suppliers cause overdose deaths.

"U.S. taxpayers spend $69 billion a year on the 'war on drugs' -- including the gigantic cost of arresting, trying or imprisoning 1.6 million Americans annually -- but the war is being lost, because narcotics abuse remains as extensive as ever. The situation is bizarre."
...
"Legalizing alcohol again in 1933 gradually took gunfire out of the booze business. If America likewise legalized narcotics and regulated them through health agencies, would today's drug murders, police cost and prison expense similarly be eliminated? This newspaper long has called for legalization of marijuana, which is no more harmful than beer. LEAP advocates that step for all narcotics.

"Congress and West Virginia's Legislature should study this question - -- but don't hold your breath while you wait for change, because nearly all politicians brag about being 'tough on drugs.' Thus they guarantee that the narcotics trade will remain in the hands of criminals."

* "We comprehend... that nuclear power is a real danger for mankind, that over-crowding of the planet is the greatest danger of all. We have understood that the destruction of the environment is another enormous danger. But I truly believe that the lack of adequate imagery is a danger of the same magnitude. It is as serious a defect as being without memory. What have we done to our images? What have we done to our embarrassed landscapes? I have said this before and will repeat it again as long as I am able to talk: if we do not develop adequate images we will die out like dinosaurs." -- Werner Herzog

* Video for Sparklehorse's Hammering the Cramps. [thanks karl].

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