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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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Consider:

"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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Friday, 25 November 2005

Topic: World View

Our Man in Paris: Nicolas to the Rescue
No Riots! Today's news from France, from Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis is an account of a scandal - the top law and order guy in the government blocks the publication of a book about his wife that may say a bit too much. Back to the good stuff. And see the photos of Paris on Friday.

Nicolas to the Rescue

PARIS - Friday, November 25 -

A week ago Le Parisien had an exciting headline. 'The Incredible History of a Forbidden Book' spread over five columns, followed by, 'Nicolas to the Rescue of Céilia' in 96-point bold, equally over five columns, with two very poor photos of these lovely people flanking the essential of the story.

Since we were having no riots last Friday, the front-page scoop continued on pages 2 and 3, filling them with everything we need to know about the private relations between the short minister of the interior, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his wife, Cécilia Sarkozy, his apparently former right-hand man.

According to Céilia she met with the journalist, Valérie Domain, for a half hour, 'not more.' She admits that she liked the journalist's earlier book, 'Femmes de, filles de,' which also includes a brief portrait of her.

But after the new book, 'Céilia Sarkozy, entre le coeur et la raison,' rolled off the presses to the tune of 25,000 copies and was headed to bookstores for its debut on November 24, Céilia freaked out.

Although apparently separated from Nicolas since a late June trip to Disneyworld, when Céilia discovered the book's sale was imminent she phoned the minister, told him her worries and asked him to take care of it.

Sarkozy had the editor visit him at the ministry of the interior, for, as Le Parisien puts it, a 'muscular' discussion. The following day the publisher called the author and told her the book wouldn't go on sale.

Then there was public silence for a week, except quite a bit of talk that is imagined to have gone on within the cabinets of several lawyers.

Books don't get banned all that often in France but it happens. A book about President Mitterrand's health was stopped before finally appearing eight years later. Alain Delon banned a book about himself before it was written, but it might have come out two years later with a different publisher.

The author, Valérie Domain, former 'grand' reporter for France Soir and head of the information department at Prisma magazine's 'Gala,' is not an amateur. She has given her lawyer a CD-ROM containing two hours and forty minutes of recorded conversations between the author and her subject.

Note of this has turned up on page six of today's Le Parisien, which goes on to mention that the lawyer for the author will go after the publisher, and that the publisher's lawyer will counter-sue the author for damages. Meanwhile the book was supposed to appear yesterday, and 25,000 copies of it are collecting fresh dust in some cool warehouse.

Le Monde noted on November 18, talking to other publishers, that Sarkozy seemed to be unaware that there are legal methods for suppressing a book, which in turn raised questions about the courage of the book's publisher. Another pointed out that books used to be banned for 'state reasons,' but the level is lower now.

At this point the publisher isn't talking so it is impossible to know exactly what arguments Sarkozy used to prevent the book from going on sale. In France everybody is guilty of something so the poor guy probably expected to spend Christmas in the Santé if he didn't do as he was told.

This is also probably much ado about very little, except that Sarkozy is involved, maybe a bit over-excited, momentarily forgetting his presidential candidate status. According to those who might know, there can't be much in the book that the public hasn't already read - except for some juicy tidbits possibly served up by Céilia exclusively to the author.

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Paris, Friday, November 25 - Street Scenes -


































Matching Smart Cars on rue de Rivoli -

















Things are quiet behind La Samaritaine now that it has closed -

















Text and Photos, Copyright © 2005 - Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis


Posted by Alan at 13:08 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005 13:16 PST home


Topic: Chasing the Zeitgeist

Reputation

The item in these pages - It Really is Always About Sex - was, in its final conclusions, about just that, but much leading up to that was about this mid-week news - In Legal Shift, U.S. Charges Detainee in Terrorism Case - "The Bush administration brought terrorism charges on Tuesday against Jose Padilla in a criminal court after holding him for three and a half years in a military brig as an enemy combatant once accused in a 'dirty bomb' plot."

The New York Times here didn't put it so bluntly, but comes down to the fact that Padilla was detained at Chicago's O'Hare airport in early 2002, and held as a "material witness" in New York, then our government, facing a legal deadline to defend this decision to hold him as a material witness indefinitely, labeled this guy an "enemy combatant" and shipped him off to a military brig - claiming congress gave the president full authority to do what was necessary to disarm Saddam and deal as he saw fit with any threats associated with terrorism – and thus they determined this fellow had no legal rights at all, as in no right to counsel or to be charged with a crime - even if he was an American citizen (he is a Brooklyn-born, or Chicago-born, former gang member who converted to Islam). They first said he was plotting to set off a "dirty bomb" – then there was some legal maneuvering and in June 2004, as the courts considered the case - can you hold an American citizen and take away all his rights on the president's word? - the government released a surprise document saying, well, no, the dirty bomb thing may have been a mistake - he was really plotting to blow up a particular apartment building, so throw away the key based on that. Now they're actually going for a criminal trial, with all the features that all of us think we as citizens have a right to, charging him with being part of "a broad conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism and to murder, kidnap and maim people overseas." This change of tactics was puzzling, but seemed a way to keep the issue of whether the president has this power - to suspend any citizen's legal rights as will - off the docket. Charge him with a lesser crime, so this issue goes away.

But that the guy was held for three and a half years without charges does matter to some of us bleeding-heart liberals (and to some conservatives), those of us who think this isn't how the country ought to be run, even if "everything changed after September 11" and all that. We kind of liked the constitution. It seemed like a fine document, laying out some "inalienable rights" that, even if rights asserted in the middle of the eighteenth century, were pretty good even now.

Over at MSNBC, Eric Alterman put it this way -
You know, if the Bush administration says it can pick up an American citizen off the street, hold him incommunicado, refuse him the right to a trial and refuse to explain what the nature of his crime is, I think this pretty much makes the United States Constitution inoperative. Sure, not many of us are likely to face the problems that Mr. Padilla faces, and for all I know he is a bad guy. But our Constitutional protections are supposed to apply to bad guys as much as good guys. What’s more these dishonest incompetent ideological extremists are almost always hiding something significant whenever they claim to be operating in our national security interests, and you’d have to be an idiot (or a White House reporter or a Fox News anchor) even to be able to pretend to believe them this time. I’m sure when this is over we will find out they are just covering up their own incompetence and dishonesty. But the lack of outcry over this naked police state tactic is one more example of how increasingly hollow are our claims to be an example to anyone of anything, save hypocrisy.
A bit overheated, but not wrong-headed.

But are these guys just covering up their own incompetence and dishonesty?

Seems so. Thanksgiving Day, the New York Times, citing "unnamed current and former government officials," ran a front page story saying there was indeed something else going on - the administration backed down from the more serious charges against Jose Padilla because the "Dirty Bomb" case relied on testimony of two al Qaeda suspects who are secretly being held by us at those "black sites" - and they gave their testimony while being tortured. An internal CIA report concluded that one of the men had talked while being subjected to what the Times call "excessive use" of waterboarding.

Oops. The item indicates the government decided they just could not have a trial that would raise the issue of whether we really could (or should) be kidnapping folks and torturing them. Now whether waterboarding is torture or not is in dispute. The subject is convinced he or she is drowning and will die, and always says anything at all, very quickly, to make it stop. But they don't die, usually, and no bones are broken and no major organs fail, so is it really torture? You can look up all the discussion of that. There are some internal government memos.

No opinion is offered here, but when you have to wonder what sort of country we've become when the discussion is whether we're doing something that seems like torture or something really very close but not quite the same thing - and no matter how you decide that, whether it is or is not a good thing, if it saves innocent lives. Were, say, one of our pilots captured and this technique used to find out what village would be bombed next so the other guys could get the women and children out and save innocent lives, would the definition change?

There's the question, too, of whether you use torture, or this almost-torture-but-not-quite-the same-thing, when the subject may be innocent and know nothing, but you're not sure. Should we do this in a sort of "exploratory" way, and be willing to say "sorry" if we're dealing with someone who turns out to be a nobody who knows nothing?

And do such techniques work? If the subject will say anything to make the pain stop or to stay alive, how do you evaluate what you hear?

And last year, Phil Carter here hit on another problem - obtaining information through torture makes criminal prosecution more difficult, if not impossible.
Any information gained through torture will almost certainly be excluded from court in any criminal prosecution of the tortured defendant. And, to make matters worse for federal prosecutors, the use of torture to obtain statements may make those statements (and any evidence gathered as a result of those statements) inadmissible in the trials of other defendants as well. Thus, the net effect of torture is to undermine the entire federal law enforcement effort to put terrorists behind bars. With each alleged terrorist we torture, we most likely preclude the possibility of a criminal trial for him, and for any of the confederates he may incriminate.
The courts have long recognized these techniques do not provide information that passes any test for veracity.

As pointed out here, recently CIA intelligence officers leaked information about CIA interrogation techniques and the "questionable confessions" that have been obtained through them. "They can tell you to the minute how long it will usually take before someone will give up information under different techniques. They also know that the information is as likely to be a lie as the truth."

So the prosecution of Padilla was jeopardized "by the means of collecting information against him," and these folks also don't want anyone to know any more details about how we are treating prisoners. We are not looking good around the world. So we get a lesser count.

How bad are we looking around the world? Try this:

Replant the American Dream
David Ignatius, The Washington Post, Friday, November 25, 2005 - Page A37

Okay, Ignatius started traveling all over as a foreign correspondent twenty-five years ago, and spins a tail of celebrating Thanksgiving here and there around the world, most times with a sentimental toast to America - and "more than once I had my foreign guests in tears." They loved the American dream as much as he did.

Now? -
I don't think Americans realize how much we have tarnished those ideals in the eyes of the rest of the world these past few years. The public opinion polls tell us that America isn't just disliked or feared overseas - it is reviled. We are seen as hypocrites who boast of our democratic values but who behave lawlessly and with contempt for others. I hate this America-bashing, but when I try to defend the United States and its values in my travels abroad, I find foreigners increasingly are dismissive. How do you deny the reality of Abu Ghraib, they ask, when the vice president of the United States is actively lobbying against rules that would ban torture?

Of all the reversals the United States has suffered in recent years, this may be the worst. We are slowly shredding the fabric that defines what it means to be an American.
Well, the counterargument is that what they think doesn't matter - everything changed on September 11, 2001, and we have to protect ourselves. And they never liked us much anyway. (But why did so many want to come here, and why do they still want to come here?)

In any event, this is what he's seen in recent years -
We inherited incredible riches of goodwill - a world that admired our values and wanted a seat at our table - and we have been squandering them. The Bush administration didn't begin this wasting of American ideals, but it has been making the problem worse. Certainly George W. Bush has been spending our international political capital at an astounding clip.

When I began traveling as a foreign correspondent ... I thought I understood what the face of evil looked like. There were governments that used torture against their enemies; they might call it "enhanced interrogation" or some other euphemism, but it was torture, and you just hoped, as an American, that you were never unlucky enough to be their prisoner. There were governments that "disappeared" people - snatched them off the street and put them without charges in secret prisons where nobody could find them. There were countries that threatened journalists with physical harm.
Yeah, and now we do all that. But the counterargument is that we have to do all that. See what "changed everything" above. The counterargument is that nostalgia is not reality.

Ignatius says this really should change, but the government is not going to do it. Who will? You and me -
I would love to see the Bush administration take the lead, but its officials seem not to understand the problem. Even if they turned course, much of the world wouldn't believe them. Sadly, when President Bush eloquently evokes our values, the world seems to tune out. So this task falls instead to the American public. It's a job that involves traveling, sharing, living our values, encouraging our children to learn foreign languages and work and study abroad. In short, it means giving something back to the world.

We must stop behaving as if we are in a permanent state of war, in which any practice is justified by the exigencies of the moment. That's my biggest problem with Vice President Cheney's anything-goes jeremiads against terrorism. They suggest we will always be at war, and so it doesn't matter what the world thinks of our behavior.

That's a dangerously mistaken view. We are in a long war but not an endless one, and we need to begin rebuilding the bridges to normal life.
Ah, had I funds I would gladly return to Paris, and get my meager French working again, and visit Prague, where my grandparents lived, and see if any of the Pittsburgh-tainted Czech comes back.

But anyone traveling and sharing and listening and knowing the language would now, of course, be seen as "the exception to the rule." It may be too late. The damage may be too deep.

We now have this reputation, and that will take more than a few "exceptions" to overcome.

We elected those who are proud that the public around the world hates us and their governments are thus reluctant to support us. They see that as a sign of strenghth - we have resolve and the balls to do what's hard to do when no one else will.

We've got three more years of such leadership. No one outside these borders will be impressed with a random curious and eccentric long-term visitor from America upstairs or down the street. They'll wait and see who we next elect as the man who represents just who we are. And that's a long way off.

Posted by Alan at 00:21 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005 09:22 PST home

Thursday, 24 November 2005

Topic: Photos

Thanksgiving Day

Posting will be light as the entire editorial staff (of one) will be far from Just above Sunset for a few days. One can work remotely, but there's food and family and all the rest.

Two semi-seasonal photos - Beachwood Canyon looking down from the Hollywood sign this week, and an alternative to traditional Thanksgiving dinner right here on Hollywood Boulevard -






















Posted by Alan at 08:15 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005 07:39 PST home

Wednesday, 23 November 2005

Topic: Chasing the Zeitgeist

It Really is Always About Sex

Just before everyone settled down for Thanksgiving to eat far too much and watch the usual Detroit Lions game (against the Falcons this year as the Cowboys had the late game against the Broncos), the national dialog was sputtering down. Wednesday there was that new poll - "A majority of US adults believe the Bush administration generally misleads the public on current issues, while fewer than a third of Americans believe the information provided by the administration is generally accurate, the latest Harris Interactive poll finds."

Yeah, so?

There's been a massive "public mood" change over the past several months, as the "fed up" quotient in the country rises. Perhaps this started with the Hurricane Katrina business - the president late to the game and looking childish, and Michael Brown's FEMA performing worse than the wildest conspiracy theorist could imagine - and this peaked with last week's silliness in the house with the name-calling and the Republicans forcing a vote one what they said that fellow from Pennsylvania really meant but clearly didn't. These folks who have control of the executive branch, both houses of congress, and seventy percent of federal judgeships, were looking just petty and bullheaded. The vice president was on stump saying, "We didn't lie" - and to think we did is reprehensible and near treason and makes our troops cry and is worse than drowning puppies in Drano and whatnot. This produced somewhat the opposite of the intended effect, as they say - as in, "What's his problem?"

The plan for these pages was to comment on this item - In Legal Shift, U.S. Charges Detainee in Terrorism Case - "The Bush administration brought terrorism charges on Tuesday against Jose Padilla in a criminal court after holding him for three and a half years in a military brig as an enemy combatant once accused in a 'dirty bomb' plot."

What's up with that?

As laid out here, Padilla was detained at Chicago's O'Hare airport on May 8, 2002, and held as a "material witness" in New York. Then, facing a legal deadline to defend its decision to hold him as a material witness indefinitely, the government quickly labeled this guy an "enemy combatant" and shipped him off to a military brig in Charleston - the Charleston in South Carolina, not the one in West Virginia - and the administration, claiming congress gave the president authority to do what was necessary to disarm Saddam and eliminate any threats associated with terrorism - determined this fellow had no legal rights at all - no right to counsel or to be charged with a crime. He was one of the bad guys - even if he was an American citizen (he is a Brooklyn-born, or Chicago-born, former gang member who converted to Islam).

They said he was plotting to set off a "dirty bomb" and irradiate who knows what, and who knows how many fine Americans. There was some legal maneuvering and in June 2004, as the courts considered the case - can you hold an American citizen and take away all his rights on the president's word? - the government released a surprise document saying, well, no, the dirty bomb thing may have been a mistake - he was really plotting to blow up a particular apartment building, so throw away the key. Now it seems they're actually allowing a trial and all the rest that all of us think we have a right to - charging him with being part of "a broad conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism and to murder, kidnap and maim people overseas."

So now he gets access to the rights Americans think they have? The silliness of all of this is covered by Dahlia Lithwick here, and she reminds us that when the Defense Department decided to release America's last "Public Enemy Number One" - Yaser Esam Hamdi - from his three years of in a military prison without charges, he was shipped off to Saudi Arabia, "with a firm handshake and commemorative US Navy mug." The terrorist too dangerous to be tried in open court was "sent home to his parents for a seriously enforced new bedtime." And she lists other "oops" cases.

Just what is going on?

Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball at Newsweek do some digging. They get administration lawyers to explain that the Bush administration, determined not to yield any ground on the constitutional issues in the case, have indicated it may still hold this accused "enemy combatant" indefinitely - even if he is acquitted of these terrorist conspiracy charges he was indicted on.

As in -
Today's comments are significant because the Justice Department plans this week to file a motion with the Supreme Court urging that it not review an appellate court ruling affirming Padilla's status as an enemy combatant. The department plans to argue that the case is now moot because President Bush, in an order signed earlier this week, transferred Padilla from the custody of the Defense Department - which had been holding him in a military brig - to the custody of the Justice Department so he can stand trial in Miami.
In short, this indictment removes the question of whether he has rights - so there's nothing to argue. They're making a test case go away.

Isikoff and Hosenball offer a ton more detail that will make your head spin - but that's the idea.

Dahlia Lithwick offers lots of links to all sorts of legal folks commenting on this basic question - did the congress give the president the clear authority to suspend parts of the constitution regarding citizens' rights as he sees fit, until the war on terror is declared officially over? That's something the administration would like to keep off the Supreme Court docket, at least until O'Conner is home in Arizona sipping iced tea and Alito is on the bench, as he had already ruled, at a lower level, that the president has that authority, without question. The case of Jose Padilla had to "go away."

There's a lot more from the famous Denver criminal attorney, Jeralyn Merritt, here, with lots of links - even some conservatives (the traditional kind) are appalled. One old-line conservative here -
I have no brief for Padilla or any other al Qaeda mass-murderers. But he is an American citizen, presumed innocent, and it took the government three years even to charge him. Anyone who cares about liberty - which obviously does not include many members of the Bush administration, should be appalled by what has occurred and what it means for the future of freedom in this country.
But that's Andrew Sullivan, and he thinks Bush and that crew have distorted and just ruined the conservative movement - they've made a sick joke out of what is means to be a conservative. Last time out he was so angry he endorsed John Kerry.

Then again, no one - expect these folks above - thinks much about constitutional law and basic rights. You just assume you have those rights you vaguely remember from that eight-grade civics class. It's a yawn.

So the plan in these pages changed.

What isn't a yawn for some folks is when husband or wife, son or daughter, nephew or niece, gets to come home from that fifth or sixth tour in Iraq, where they could get killed. That's been the national topic since the pro-military ex-Marine friend-of-Cheney congressman from Pennsylvania stood up and said our military has done all it was supposed to do and it's time to redeploy them and work on the diplomatic stuff and "soft power" and all the rest. The shrew from Cincinnati called him a coward and not much of Marine (she apologized and said she was misinformed and all that), but the questions were the sitting out there. When will this Iraqi people be ready to take care of their own country? If we stay until we win, how will we know we've won - when everyone is nice and various "evildoers" undergo a massive personality change? Is working out a timetable for changing things a sign of weakness that will cause "the world of folks who hate us for our freedoms" to laugh at us as girly-men with tiny penises who "cut and run" when faced with real men - or it is a sign of intelligence and common sense and a sign we know reality from bullshit? Will it make things more stable, or insure a regional Sunni-Shiite war?

You couldn't raise the issues before. You'd be told you hate America and all the rest. Well, now you can.

And Wednesday, November 23rd you saw things like this:

Rice Seems to Nod to Calls to Reduce Troops in Iraq (New York Times) - "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has offered assurances that the United States may not need to maintain..."

US sends strong signals on Iraq troops pull-out (Financial Times, UK) - "The US administration this week sent its strongest signals yet that it intends to..."

Pentagon envisions pulling out 3 combat brigades in early '06 (Chicago Tribune) - "Barring major surprises in Iraq, the Pentagon tentatively plans to reduce the number..."

It seems the "we won't change a thing until we've won" idea doesn't poll well.

But there really is the psychosexual thing about how some insecure men react when anyone questions his "manliness." Makes them want to go beat up gays, or at least make sure they don't marry each other. And it means you cannot back down from anything, ever, no matter how logical it is to change tactics for the specific new circumstances.

On that issue, go read this from Digby over at Hullabaloo. He thinks this withdrawal plan is "the same phony drawdown" that they've been talking about for the last year. They will do it to show "progress" before the 2006 election - but he doesn't think there's "a chance in hell that George W. Cheney is going to allow himself to be portrayed 'cutting and running' by anyone. And if bombs are still going off in Iraq "that's exactly how it will look."

There's a fascinating discussion here to of how Princeton historian Bernard Lewis - someone Bush actually reads - has become the key prop in the argument for never backing down. The guy has written at least twenty books on Islam and the Middle East. He's eighty-seven but meets with Cheney and Rove all the time. It's all here -
After the terror attacks, White House staffers disagreed about how to frame the enemy, says David Frum, who was a speechwriter for President Bush. One group believed Muslim anger was all a misunderstanding - that Muslims misperceived America as decadent and godless. Their solution: Launch a vast campaign to educate Muslims about America's true virtue. Much of that effort, widely belittled in the press and overseas, was quietly abandoned.

A faction led by political strategist Karl Rove believed soul-searching over "why Muslims hate us" was misplaced, Mr. Frum says. Mr. Rove summoned Mr. Lewis to address some White House staffers, military aides and staff members of the National Security Council. The historian recited the modern failures of Arab and Muslim societies and argued that anti-Americanism stemmed from their own inadequacies, not America's. Mr. Lewis also met privately with Mr. Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. Mr. Frum says he soon noticed Mr. Bush carrying a marked-up article by Mr. Lewis among his briefing papers. A White House spokesman declined to comment.

Says Mr. Frum: "Bernard comes with a very powerful explanation for why 9/11 happened. Once you understand it, the policy presents itself afterward."
So what's the explanation? Instilling respect or at least fear through force is essential for America's security.
Eight days after the Sept. 11 attacks, with the Pentagon still smoldering, Mr. Lewis addressed the U.S. Defense Policy Board. Mr. Lewis and a friend, Iraqi exile leader Ahmad Chalabi - now a member of the interim Iraqi Governing Council - argued for a military takeover of Iraq to avert still-worse terrorism in the future, says Mr. Perle, who then headed the policy board.

A few months later, in a private dinner with Dick Cheney at the vice president's residence, Mr. Lewis explained why he was cautiously optimistic the U.S. could gradually build democracy in Iraq, say others who attended. Mr. Lewis also held forth on the dangers of appearing weak in the Muslim world, a lesson Mr. Cheney apparently took to heart. Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press" just before the invasion of Iraq, Mr. Cheney said: "I firmly believe, along with men like Bernard Lewis, who is one of the great students of that part of the world, that strong, firm U.S. response to terror and to threats to the United States would go a long way, frankly, toward calming things in that part of the world."

The Lewis Doctrine, in effect, had become U.S. policy.
The policy? Do everything you can to not appear weak. What you do may be stupid or illegal, buy you cannot appear weak. Your safety, the safety of you friends and family, the safety of your country, depends on not appearing weak. Throw a punch. To do anything else is pointless.

Digby:
Let's give them at least some credit for sincerity on one thing. They honestly believe that we have been perceived as weak by the rest of the world. They've always thought this. This isn't a political calculation - they really believe it. They went into Iraq with the idea that they had to show those hinky Arabs that we are not going to be pushed around. When they say that everyone from Nixon on down behaved like cowards, they really mean it. This is their worldview.

... It is a deep article of faith that the reason we were hit on 9/11 is because we failed to respond to the terrorists and others. Therefore, we must make them respect and fear us by being violent and dominating.

I am of the opinion that alienating our allies, exposing ourselves as having an intelligence community that can't find water if they fall out of a boat and then screwing up Iraq in spectacular fashion, we have destroyed our mystique and have made this country less safe. We were much better off speaking softly and carrying the big stick than flailing around like a wounded, impotent Giant.

I see no reason to believe that these people see that. They believe that to "cut and run" is the equivalent of emasculating this country and that is what puts us at risk.
This is just a summary with some excerpts, of course. Digby gives lots of detail.

Are the troops ever coming home? If those who lead us, and many of those who support them, feel our only safety comes from what we do to seeming sufficiently manly, one doubts it.

So it isn't Clinton who had the problem with sex. Given this, he actually seems well-adjusted.

Posted by Alan at 23:50 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005 00:02 PST home


Topic: Photos

On Location: Greystone Mansion

You've seen this place in the movies.

Greystone Mansion, 905 Loma Vista Drive, Beverly Hills - architect Gordon B. Kaufman - English Gothic Revival - 46,000 square feet of living space - completed in 1928 for the Doheny family - landscape architect, Paul G. Thiene - gardens surrounding the estate a mix of gothic and neoclassic -

A new album of twenty-six photos from Wednesday, November 23, 2005, late afternoon is here.

Oil baron Edward Doheny gave the property to his son Ned as a wedding gift. In 1928, Ned constructed this enormous, fifty-five-room Tudor-style mansion. Six months after Ned's family moved in, Ned was shot by his personal secretary (and, rumor has it, gay lover) in a murder-suicide. Ned's widow and children stayed on until the fifties, then the family gave the property to the city of Beverly Hills, and it and the grounds are now a public park.

It may look familiar. Many major Hollywood films were shot here (see this). Read this for a detailed social and political history of the place and the times.

Samples from the album -

Named for its roof - in the background Century City and MGM offices -

































































Spooky late afternoon sunlight -



























In the gardens - aromatic antique roses -




Posted by Alan at 20:19 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005 07:32 PST home

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