by J.D. Tuccille
October 30, 1996

A Jewell Treated Rough

Same as it ever was ... same as it ever was. I don’t know who the former members of the Talking Heads voted for in the just-finished election, but their lyrics were prescient. But, better-than-it-could-have-been as the election result was, if I wanted “same as it ever was,” a Heads best-of album is a hell of a lot cheaper than the lost-track-of-the-zeros ad budgets of the this year’s candidates for office.

Well, minor as the shuffling of private-sector rejects was at the national (and my state’s) level, some encouraging signs did come in from the results on various referendums and ballot initiatives. Institutionalized racism was sent to the back of the bus (sorry, couldn’t help myself) as Californians approved Prop. 209, calling for an end to “Affirmative Action” in state programs. The same voters approved a measure to allow the cultivation and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes (Hmmmm ... I’m felling a bit under the weather right now).

Arizona also gave the nod to marijuana’s healing attributes — further evidence of the wisdom of a state that I’m considering for my next home after I tire of the bright lights of Gotham. New York City, my current abode, knocked down attempts to loosen term limits, while the voters across the West elected to indicate on future ballots which candidates refused to endorse limitations on tenure in office.

But overall, the election and the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the election demonstrate the futility of fighting for a little personal breathing space via the ballot box. You can piss away an awful lot of money, and end up back where you started.

Other tactics can be more risky, of course. Jim Blaes knows this — he’s the fisherman who took exception to the Coast Guard’s habitual bad manners when conducting “safety inspections.” He told the swabbies that they could board his boat unarmed — a condition that the crew of an armed vessel found too daunting to consider. Well, correcting federal manners can carry a stiff penalty, but Blaes has been acquitted on the felony charges, although the misdemeanor charges may carry some jail time.

The fishing community has rallied around Jim Blaes and the current issue of Reason magazine carries a very good article supporting Blaes’ and his fellow fishermen’s complaint about the transformation of the Coast Guard from a trusted, even revered, lifesaving agency to a gang of acquatic stormtroopers. What caused the change? If you guessed the zero-tolerance War on Drugs, you win a gold star. The War on Drugs (and reality) turned all too many coasties into trigger-happy, pot-poaching cowboys, and the new, intrusive safety regulations simply created a new reason to go busting chops.

In case I haven’t made it clear, I give Jim Blaes a lot of credit for the stance he took, and I hope that more of us find the guts to do the same. It takes a lot to face down federales on the rampage — especially when we know that their ammunition budget has to be justified to the number-crunchers at year’s end. But taking a personal stand — and backing others who do the same — will have a hell of a lot more impact than anything we may do leading up to or on election day.

I mean, Jesus, give me some of that advertising budget and I’ll get my own domain name ... and maybe and old Talking Heads CD.

Ah well, and so much for the power of argument. So back you go to Full Automatic or to my home page.

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Copyright (c) 1996 Jerome D. (Il Tooch) Tuccille. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Il Tooch is prohibited. Mess with me and I’ll use your polished skull as a beer mug.