Notes on how things seem to me from out here in Hollywood... As seen from Just Above Sunset
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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Political Wrap

An interesting night in the primaries, wasn't it? The polls show Kerry could now defeat Bush, and Edwards could too, but by a narrower margin. And they both did well tonight. Kerry cleaned up, actually. Clark squeaked through in Oklahoma. Joe dropped out. Dean looks weak. Sharpton picked up his first delegate.

The odd thing is Edwards' surge. A nice guy people trust, who refuses to rant about the inadequate character of others or about the problems and mistakes of the past, and tends to think instead about how to fix things now and what might be good to do in the future? How odd. Blame is so much fun in politics! Well, the commentators on the right have a new nickname for him - "The Breck Girl." We'll see what happens to him. I'll watch for the Ann Coulter article mocking him.

So this week's primaries are over.

What do it all mean? Too early to tell. But as Markos Moulitsas Z?niga put it:
In Kerry's nightmare world, Dean and Clark drop out. He doesn't match up favorably one-on-one versus Edwards. So today's muddy results (Clark wins one, Edwards wins one) was probably Kerry's best realistic outcome (short of winning every contest). It makes sure the field remains fractured.
And on we go.

But if the Super Bowl halftime show showed anything at all, it showed we really care about Janet Jackson's erect nipple.

What really matters? Celebrities.

So as seen from Hollywood, the list of who is supporting whom:

Dean has the backing of two fictional presidents, Martin Sheen (President Josiah Bartlett of "West Wing") and Michael Douglas (President Andrew Shepherd of "The American President"), although the man who created both characters, writer Aaron Sorkin, reportedly decided to support Dick Gephardt. Oops. Gephardt was gone in a flash. Dean also has the support of Director Rob Reiner, comedian Robin Williams, and actors Paul Newman, Whoopi Goldberg and Susan Sarandon. Ah, old folks.

Clark has Madonna, political provocateur Michael Moore, and actor Ted Danson under one big tent. (Looking ahead to a possible Bush-Clark debate, Moore said, "I really want to hear President Bush have to say, 'Yes, General, No, General.'")

In the battle of the bands, Kerry appears to have captured the nostalgia vote with endorsements from James Taylor, Carole King, Bette Midler and Peter Yarrow - of Peter, Paul and Mary. More old folks.

Edwards has the slightly younger folks with Hootie and the Blowfish, while Dennis Kucinich is being backed up by Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Ani Difranco and Michelle Shocked.

Oh yeah, before he dropped out Gephardt was endorsed by Michael Bolton, Barry Manilow and Tony Bennett. Need one say more?

Edwards has been endorsed by "pretty boy" actor Ashton Kutcher.

Kucinich has pretty impressive list of endorsements: Danny Glover, Ed Asner and Joaquin Phoenix.

Now that you know all this, who do you think will receive an endorsement from Janet Jackson, or Michael Jackson, or Kobe Bryant, or Martha Stewart, or Scott Peterson? Enquiring minds want to know!

This is not to say we are a shallow, frivolous people. No.

But doesn't it strike you that the Super Bowl and its halftime show was a great recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and its variants? Was this evening designed to give the "resistance fighters" in Iraq - with their roadside bombs and exploding Toyotas - a reason to fight on?

It wasn't just the briefly bouncing boob and the awful music. Add in the commercials - the farting horse and the dog that bites a fellow's testicular apparatus to get his master a beer. And all this framed by a few hours of costumed steroid-enhanced mutants on speed clobbering each other for glory.

This was showing the people who wonder about what we're doing in their neighborhood just what folks in the Middle East could have if they give in to us - what they could be.

Some future.

Posted by Alan at 21:18 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 3 February 2004 21:24 PST home

As the sun goes down today after thirty-six hours of quite stormy weather, the sky clears and one sees the usual rainbow outside the window.
From the north staring out over the Hollywood Hills, and to the south ending somewhere downtown - but as it's a double rainbow the "end of the rainbow" seems to be in two places.
A little after five today...

Posted by Alan at 17:23 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 12 February 2004 10:30 PST home

Topic: Photos

The rain is almost over - the sky clearing.
The moon is almost full.
The sun will set soon over the Hollywood Hills
This from my window at 16:45 Pacific Standard Time

Posted by Alan at 16:29 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

Topic: The Law

Evidence of drug related program activities is a serious matter.

This is a curious thing - the bad guys sting the cops and still go to jail. Over suspicious chocolate bars, of course.

One thinks of Tommy Chong. He does have a son named Paris.

Yes, one more item from l'Agence France-Presse (AFP) by way of The Tocqueville Connection:

PARIS, Feb 2 (AFP) - Five men who conducted their own sting on a French police undercover operation by swapping a promised delivery of cannabis resin for bars of chocolate were sentenced to prison Monday after getting convicted on an obscure health law.

But the lawyer for the mastermind of the double-cross, a 22-year-old named Rodolphe Grosol, said his client was the victim of an unsuccessful set-up.

The police operation started when an undercover officer met Grosol in a Paris bar in August 2002 and was offered 30 kilogrammes (66 pounds) of cannabis resin for 50,000 euros (62,000 dollars). The day of the delivery, police raided Grosol's apartment and arrested his accomplices.

But instead of finding a stash of the drug in the apartment, they found five blocks of chocolate made up to look like cannabis -- which Grosol planned to pass off as the real thing.

Despite protestations from his lawyer that he was not guilty of possessing drugs, Grosol was finally convicted and sentenced for violating a little-known health law that bans "incitement to the use of a substance presented as a narcotic."

Grosol was given a three-year jail sentence, with 16 months of it suspended.

His four accomplices received terms ranging from 18 months suspended to 15 months behind bars, and two of them, North Africans without French citizenship, were to be deported.
Curious. Very curious.

And on this side of the pond?

This from Adam Bulger, in the New York Press, January 20, 2004
Early on the morning of February 24, 2003, the Pacific Palisades, CA, home of actor Tommy Chong was raided by federal officers. In classic "hey, man" fashion, Chong sleepily told the intruding officers that they must have the wrong house. The feds replied they most certainly had the right house, as well as a warrant to search it for glass pipes, of which they found a bunch, along with a pound of high-grade marijuana. When first asked if there were any pot on the property, Chong allegedly replied, "Of course; I'm Tommy Chong."

On September 11, 2003, Chong was sentenced for selling drug paraphernalia. Of the 55 people arrested and prosecuted in the bong sweep-officially dubbed "Operation Pipe Dreams" - Chong was the only one with no prior convictions and is currently serving nine months in California's Taft federal prison. (Sort of federal, anyway: In the 90s, Taft became the first privately managed prison in America, and is run by the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation.)

It was Chong's first arrest. During years of smoking and advocating drug use, the only crime of which Chong had been found guilty was making The Corsican Brothers. Nor did Chong even run Chong's Bongs, the business in question. Although he pumped a lot of money into it and promoted the company, it was the brainchild of his son, Paris. Chong pleaded guilty to protect his wife and children from prosecution. Nobody thought that the 65-year-old father of five would serve jail time.

Stan Levenson, a veteran attorney with decades of experience arguing federal cases, was one of three lawyers retained by Mr. Chong during his federal trial in Pittsburgh.

"I thought here would be a client, a high-visibility client, presumably with the means to finance a defense, and it could be a fun case to try," he says. "It's an offensive prosecution. I don't understand the thinking behind bringing this kind of prosecution. Who benefits?"
I guess we all do.

Think of it this way, pipes and chocolate are in fact evidence of drug related program activities after all. And when I don't pay my rent and the landlord knocks I'll wave my checkbook and claim that it shows evidence of payment related program activities. I'll sure that will do.

Posted by Alan at 08:40 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

Monday, 2 February 2004

Topic: Bush

The natives are getting restless!

Let's see here... this fellow says Bush, when he took us to war, "oozed a smugness bred of incuriousness and an airy dismissal of dissent. He knew what he knew with such fiery certainty that even now he seems incapable of facing reality. He's like a kid who refuses to accept the fact that there is no Santa Claus."

Really now! It's another comment on Bush's establishing a commission to find out why he was fooled so badly by the spooks and spies. He's going to appoint the commissioners soon - Lord Hutton and Dennis Miller? Hey, how many suspects get to pick their own jury? Cool. The man has brass balls.

Worth a read:

Blame, Blindness . . .
Richard Cohen, The Washington Post, Tuesday, February 3, 2004; Page A19

And it ends with this:
But any truth commission worth its name would have to look beyond the government. It would be instructive to examine the yahoo mood that came over much of the nation once Bush decided to go to war. The decision -- its urgency -- seemed to come out of nowhere. Yet most of America fell into line, and in certain segments of the media, the Murdoch press above all, dissent was ridiculed. On Fox TV, France was called a member of the "axis of weasels" and antiwar demonstrators in Davos were disparaged as "knuckleheads." Colorful stuff, but wrong, irresponsible and craven.

I do not take myself off the hook. The mood got to me, too. And while I kept insisting that the Bush administration was exaggerating the case for war, was in too much of a hurry and was incapable of assembling a true coalition, I nevertheless went along with the program.

There is much cause for concern here. A consensus -- based on false facts, outright lies and exaggerated fears -- took over the nation. We didn't go on a bender, as we did after Pearl Harbor, and incarcerate a particular ethnic group, but we did go to war when we plainly did not have to. More than 500 Americans and thousands of Iraqis have died for a mistake. Peace has not been brought to the Middle East and America is not only no safer than it was, it may well be in even greater danger. This was no mere failure of intelligence. This was a failure of character.

Why? No newspaper column could provide all the answers. But we were clearly unnerved by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the subsequent -- and now mostly overlooked -- anthrax attacks, which disproportionately affected the news media. Saddam Hussein provided us with a nifty and useful personification of evil -- not to mention spurious links to al Qaeda. He was something familiar, Hitler and Stalin all over again. There was an understandable urge to settle some scores. Finally, though, there was smugness -- the sort of American exceptionalism that so rankles non-Americans. No one better exemplified that than Bush himself. He proclaimed a divine right to unilateralism, oozed a smugness bred of incuriousness and an airy dismissal of dissent. He knew what he knew with such fiery certainty that even now he seems incapable of facing reality. He's like a kid who refuses to accept the fact that there is no Santa Claus.

By all means, proceed with the independent commission. A huge mistake has been made, and we need to know why. But if for a moment we think that it was the CIA alone that took us to war, then we will have learned nothing from what happened. That would be the gravest intelligence failure of them all.
Oh yeah, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran an editorial yesterday with the headline 'Whoops' doesn't work for wars - so I guess a few folks are getting a bit grumpy about things.

But a deeply frightened and angry population will still reelect (or elect) Bush by a landslide.

We're a forgiving people, even if a bit too smug for the French.

Too smug for the French? Now there's a switch! Oh, the irony!

And you will also note the Post item mentions that it "would be instructive to examine the yahoo mood that came over much of the nation." The use of "Yahoo" is curious. The term was first used by Jonathan Swift in Book Four of Gulliver's Travels - you could look it up. Read it carefully. But I have mentioned Swift far too often here.

Posted by Alan at 21:55 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 2 February 2004 22:08 PST home

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