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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Wednesday, 4 February 2004

Topic: Iraq

Today's lesson in careful reasoning...

Follow the logic here.

Powell Says Invasion Justified by Iraqi 'Intent'
Tuesday Feb 3, 4:28 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Regardless of whether Iraq had stockpiles of banned weapons, Washington would probably have decided to invade Iraq anyway because of its "intent" and its weapons-making ability, Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Tuesday.

"I think it was clear that this was a regime with intent, capability and it was a risk the president felt strongly we could not take and it was something we all agreed to and would probably agree to it again under any other set of circumstances," Powell told reporters....
Got the concept?

The Bush Doctrine, current release (3.0) summarized:

Preemptive invasion and occupation of nuclear-armed - oops, well not exactly - dangerously armed - oops, well, sort of - well then... pretty much unarmed third world countries that "would love to" attack the US immediately - oops, doesn't seem to be so - well... "soon" (user defined term) - with nuclear weapons, or with biological weapons, or with chemical weapons of mass destruction - if only they were armed.

As one blogger put it -
There you have it. It didn't matter whether Iraq posed a threat or not. Bush still would've invaded because Iraq wanted to be a threat.

So every classroom nerd deserves to be beaten by the bully, because those nerds all fantasize about besting the bully. (I know. I was a classroom nerd.)
Logical? Maybe not.

Well, folks buy it. The swarthy folks scare them - which may sound racist, or more charitably, ethnocentric - but nine-eleven changed everything. And most folks know logic is something odd used by east coast Jewish liberal intellectuals to make George Bush look bad - when he's really a good guy who is selflessly protecting us all.

Consider Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction and no connection to al-Qaeda and nine-eleven. But they probably wanted to be a threat. What would you do, logically? Whoop their sorry asses. Of course.


But the most curious logic has to do with Bush finally giving in and agreeing to form a commission to investigate "intelligence failures." He wants to get the facts. After he told us he had the facts. And war was the only choice - given the facts.

We knew the weapons of mass destruction were there. We proved that to the UN - with visual aids and everything - way back when. Uncle Colin said we knew the facts. And the damned French said let the inspections continue, Iraq is contained. In spite of the facts!

Today Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld testified to Congress, and explained that David Kay, the weapons expert handpicked by the president to spend months in Iraq along with a team of fellow weapons experts searching for weapons of mass destruction, got it wrong. There WERE weapons of mass destruction. And according to Rumsfeld, the weapons were probably transferred to another country or else destroyed before the war.

How does he know this? Why would Kay and his team have gotten it wrong? If Saddam had weapons, why didn't he use them? Donald doesn't know. But he's sure they were there. Kay was wrong. Powell was being silly.

He's not following the script! He's still using the beta release of the Bush Doctrine!

He needs to remember that it doesn't MATTER if they were there, only that Saddam Hussein WANTED them to be there.


But no one has found them. And he said we would. He said we KNEW where they were.
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and other Democrats on the committee reminded Rumsfeld that in September 2002 he said "we know" where weapons of mass destruction are stored in Iraq.

Explaining that remark, Rumsfeld told the panel that he was referring to suspected weapons sites, but he acknowledged that he had made it sound like he was talking about actual weapons.

The remark "probably turned out not to be what one would have preferred, in retrospect," he said.
An unfortunate choice of words, but innocent. I see.

Explain that loose wording to the five hundred twenty-three dead soldiers, Donald. No, they're dead. Explain that loose wording to their families. Explain that loose wording to their friends.

Oops, getting a little bitter there... One should be generous.

It might occur to someone ungenerous that the gap between "we know where weapons of mass destruction are stored" and "we know where we suspect weapons of mass destruction are stored" is rather large.

But does it matter? Powell explained the new line of reasoning - Saddam "wished he had" the weapons. Good enough. Good enough for some perhaps.

Let's see ...

If you were an ungenerous person you might consider that making it sounds like you were talking about weapons when you were not, in fact, talking about weapons comes awfully close to lying to congress.

But one should trust one's leaders, and they wouldn't lie to congress, or to us.

Okay. Enough sarcasm.

We'll see how this plays out.

Posted by Alan at 17:06 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

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

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