July 6, 2006

are you honest when no one's looking


France captain Zinedine Zidane ponders the World Cup final, French-style, enjoying a quiet smoke during a break from training at the team hotel in Frankfurt

* Froomkin. excerpt:

"The National Journal's Murray Waas on Monday served up another sizzling exclusive, describing previously secret elements of President Bush's interview in June 2004 with CIA leak investigation special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.

"According to Waas's sources, Bush told Fitzgerald that he had directed Vice President Cheney in the summer of 2003 to counter damaging allegations being made by former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, and gave Cheney permission to disclose highly classified intelligence information to do so.
...
"Publicly, Bush has consistently portrayed himself as not only uninvolved with the leak of Plame's identity, but utterly in the dark about it -- and determined to punish any wrongdoers.

"But Waas's story suggests that Bush was directly responsible for the sequence of events that resulted in that leak.
...
"Isn't it about time Bush stopped pretending ignorance about this story -- and came clean on his own role? Why should that information only be shared with criminal prosecutors?

"Is it approved White House procedure to distribute misinformation? Is it okay to out a covert CIA operative? If it's not okay was he disappointed in how top deputies like Cheney and Rove -- both still very much at work at the White House -- carried out his orders?"

* Demonizing Drugs. excerpt:

"The standard story is that Prohibition was a bad idea because it couldn't 'work.' It's said the attempt to make America dry was doomed to failure because our legal system lacked the resources to stamp out alcohol use, at least at an acceptable price.

"The problem with this story is it assumes that, if it were possible to eliminate alcohol use in America at an 'acceptable' cost, then this would be a desirable thing. And that is a seriously wrongheaded belief.

"The truth about alcohol is that, for all the damage it does, its net effect on society is strongly positive. Alcoholic beverages bring both simple and sophisticated pleasures to the 75 percent of American adults who drink them at least occasionally.

"Alcohol encourages conviviality, making otherwise tedious social events palatable, and pleasant occasions even more enjoyable. Alcohol enhances meals, relationships, sporting events, and many other aspects of life. Human beings have recognized this for thousands of years. For example, the ancient Greek dramas, which remain among the greatest artistic achievements of civilization, were composed specifically for an annual festival to honor the god of wine.

"In other words, to make America a completely sober nation, even if it were possible, would be a terrible thing. And this point applies to many other mind-altering substances as well, to greater and lesser extents. In particular, the socially harmful effects of marijuana are almost wholly a product of the fact that its use is prosecuted as a crime, while the drug's beneficial effects may well be comparable to those of its far more dangerous legal cousin, alcohol.

"It's not even clear that it would be desirable to completely eliminate heroin and cocaine use, assuming such a thing could be done, which of course it can't (one of the dirty little secrets of the drug war is that many people use these drugs recreationally for years on end with little or no adverse effect)."

* "I thought how utterly we have forsaken the earth, in the sense of excluding it from our thoughts. There are but few who consider its physical hugeness, its rough enormity. It is still a disparate monstrosity, full of solitudes, barrens, wilds. It still dwarfs, terrifies, crushes. The rivers still roar, the mountains still crash, the winds still shatter. Man is an affair of cities. his gardens, orchards, and fields are mere scrapings. Somehow, however, he has managed to shut out the face of the giant from his windows. But the giant is there, nevertheless." -- Wallace Stevens

* In New York?-- The launch party for the Soft Targets Journal is Tuesday July 11, at the Paula Cooper Gallery. Come for readings by Wayne Koestenbaum, Damon Krukowski, and Rachel Kushner; a performance by electronic musician teleseen with live video mixing from C. Bravo; cold beer, and copies of the journal.

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