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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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Monday, 13 March 2006
Starting the week with alarms and chaos...
Topic: Chasing the Zeitgeist

Starting the week with alarms and chaos...

Monday, March 13th, two days before "Brutus Day" (the Ides of March, the day when bad thing happen to political leaders), we got the alarm from the president. Well, actually, David Sanger in the New York Times surveyed what the president had been saying in defense of the now moribund (as in dead) Dubai ports deal, and also in reaction to all the polling showing, consistently, that the majority here wonder what we're doing there - wondering just why are we in a war that more and more looks like a civil war where we may have to take sides in what is not our business, in a country in ruins we just cannot reassemble (and the locals aren't helping, what with their more pressing issues over who finally gets to be on top), and where, best case, we'll end up with a fundamentalist theocracy, with ties to Iran, that might or might not be willing to side with us on this or that issue in the future. Somehow that's bit discouraging.

The Alarm? A Bush Alarm: Urging U.S. to Shun Isolationism

Ah, as Sanger opens - "The president who made pre-emption and going it alone the watchwords of his first term is quietly turning in a new direction, warning at every opportunity of the dangers of turning the nation inward and isolationist..."

Quietly? Define that. The idea is we really shouldn't shun deals with foreign governments, especially with the United Arab Emirates (we should reach out co-opt them into helping us even more with thing like the port deal), and we should believe that it really is our business to rip out a pesky government, especially one that had be run by the murderous and destabilizing Saddam Hussein, and get those folks way, way over there to start up the first Jeffersonian free-market flat-tax deregulated democracy in the neighborhood. We should be involved in the world, and engaged. We can't always act alone. That would be wrong. Not prudent. Thus the alarm.

Sanger probably uses the word "quietly" because he is compiling things - there was no one central presidential speech launching a "campaign on isolationism." In the last two weeks or more there seems to have been a major shift in the way the president is talking about the world, and in how the administration chooses now to deal with the world. Sanger is reporting that. Nothing was actually announced. But the shift is blatantly obvious and should be noted.

There's something odd going on here, and it doesn't take rocket scientist to wonder what's up. Matthew Yglesias does the basics for us here, saying that what the president sees as an unfortunate isolationist reaction in Americans these days looks more like unfortunate opposition to the administration's policies -
It's worth saying as clearly as possible that this is entirely bogus. Before George W. Bush took office, zero American presidents launched wars against countries that posed no threat to the United States for the purposes of transforming an entrenched dictatorship into a democracy. After Bush took office, he continued in the noble American tradition of not doing that. Several years into his term, he invaded Iraq because, or so he said, its government was close to building a nuclear bomb that it was likely to give to al-Qaeda. Several months after the invasion, it became clear to everyone that this was false and he started pretending to have done it in order to turn Iraq into a democracy. Today, with Iraq in shambles, people are correctly perceiving that the reason no president has ever tried to do something like that is that it's a fundamentally unsound, unworkable idea.

His effort to paint himself as a free trade martyr is, if anything, more pathetic. The White House has embraced protectionism whenever - as in the case of the steel tariffs, the softwood lumbers tariffs, and the explosion of farm subsidies - the balance of K Street money favors protectionism. The farm bill he signed into law doomed the Doha Round of WTO talks...
And Yglesias goes on about CAFTA and so on, but you get the idea.

And it does seem like name-calling. Suggest that something is a stunningly bad idea and should be reconsidered and you're an "isolationist." As name-calling goes that's pretty good. You get lumped in with the "buy American" folks who want to destroy Toyota and Sony, or with those way back with those who thought we shouldn't have fought in Europe against Hitler (and were glad when FDR said we never would, even as he was working us into the battle).

The problem is that, like all name-calling, it's beside the point. The opposition has, for the last five years, since that historic September, urged that we should engage the world and work out how everyone could join in dealing with "the problem." But no. We'd have none of that - join us in what we've planned and don't ask question, or you're one of "them." Here, suggest security concerns that should be worked out and poof - you're an "isolationist," case closed and you're wrong.

It's the usual. The pattern is clear. Let's talk, as something here seems to need more consideration. No, no point in talking as it's clear that you're just an [insert name here].

You might point out that you were the ones saying we needed to work with the world and the administration was saying that was dangerous and things had to be done unilaterally, without considering the views of wimps, fools, the corrupt and the French. You might, but why bother? You'd just get called another name. Of course, in the fifties you'd be called a communist. The label stops the conversation, as how can you consider the views of someone who's a [insert name here]?

So much for political discourse. But then lots of people use this method to shut down discussions. It probably explains more than a few divorces.

But there was - on the day when folks were discussing "isolationism" (gee, I never knew I was an isolationist but I guess I'll have to rethink things and agree with the administration more now) - the first of the current flurry of presidential speeches on Iraq.

These seem to be semiannual affairs. About twice a year the frustration builds up. This week the war will be four years old, and this milestone is over twenty-three hundred our troops dead, the chaos in the streets of the major Iraqi cities, the low poll numbers. People wonder what we're doing and why, and what we'll get for it in the end.

It's time again. Run out the usual - it may look bad but it's not, we really do have a plan, there was nothing at all wrong with the idea, and if you'll be patient we'll "achieve total victory" (to be defined later), and the media is unfair in reporting all the bad news. Look! Schools repainted!

CNN reported on the first speech in the current series here, the president acknowledging things really aren't going well at the moment. This was the big news, the hook. But of course the president said it was going well, as it's all in how you look at things. Yeah, that Shiite mosque was blown up and there were two weeks of death and destruction and revenge and counter-revenge, worse than any chaos before, but then, Iraq is "turning away from abyss" - they saw the worst so now they know that's not the way to go. The new parliament will finally meet soon - late, but they will meet. It'll all work out.

How does he know? Is there a plan if it doesn't? None needed. It'll work out. CNN - "Hoping to shore up support for the war, President Bush said Iraq was moving toward a democratic future."

We'll see. But don't doubt it. You'll be called a name. And no one will listen to you because you're nothing but a [insert name here].

CBS here reported other aspects of the speech, "Bush Urges Patience on Iraq" and so forth. Of course he did. But CBS led with the message in the speech for Iraqis - "President Bush called on Iraqis Monday to embrace compromise as they negotiate a new unity government.." Yep, they're messing up the whole thing. All democracies work on compromise - you talk and work things our so everyone get something, or understand why what they want must be put off. What's wrong with these people?

As mentioned in these pages long ago (here), the irony is when you think about Henry Clay (1777-1852), the Great Compromiser, this is no longer our model for how governance works best. This president never compromises. That's weak, and it "sends the wrong message." The world needs to see our resolve and all that. The warring sides in Iraq this month know that. "Yeah, George - whatever."

In the two days before the first speech in the series somewhere around seventy died in Sadr City with the car bombs and mortar round and all. The rest of the country was no better. And Knight-Ridder reported here Iraqi officials confirming death squads have been operating from inside the Iraqi government. The soldiers and their commanders have been taking out selected Sunnis and their families. And the day of the first speech in the current series there was this - "Shiite vigilantes seized four men suspected of terrorist attacks, interrogated them, beat them, executed them and left their bodies hanging from lampposts in a Shiite slum today, according to witnesses and government officials."

There's no whiff of compromise in the air there.

And there's no whiff of compromise in the air in Washington.

That's not how things work anymore. Why are we asking the Iraqis to be different from us?

Interestingly a good take on the whole business comes from Bronwen Maddox in the Times of London (UK) here - speech last night was an attempt by the president to show that "he gets it." He really does understand why Americans blame him for the mess in Iraq. That can't hurt as he seems finally to be "acknowledging what the rest of the US is seeing nightly on the television."

As for the rest, the need to "not lose our nerve" and our "comprehensive strategy for victory" (don't ask) seems to Maddox to be piffle, although he doesn't use that word, even if he is writing from London.

And as for the good news -
The first was that the US would pour platoons of experts into combating the threat of roadside bombs, which have killed many US soldiers, and which he called "the No 1 threat to Iraq's future". Perhaps they are, but we are spoilt for choice.

Tackling these bombs may be a useful thing for US forces to do. But the impression is that they do not know where to start. Since the bombing of the Shia al-Askariya shrine in Samarra, militias have been springing out of the shadows and bombs exploding in areas that used to be quiet.

Nor is Bush's second claim credible: that the weeks since the Samarra bombing could have been worse. He argued that many had predicted that the bombing of the shrine would plunge Iraq into civil war. But "most Iraqis haven't turned to violence", he said, adding his voice to the futile wrangle about whether the killings now qualify as "civil war".

Even if you concede the hypothetical point that the bloodshed could have been worse, it is clear that these weeks have changed the war. Before, the US was fighting Sunni militants. Now, Sunnis and Shias are fighting each other, with the US watching impotently.

So his third main claim also looked vulnerable: that the Iraqi security forces, under US guidance, were becoming more representative of Iraqi people. The greater fear, as coalition officials acknowledge, is that the US has equipped the Shias in what may become a civil war.
Other than that things are fine.

An aside - the president didn't say much on the technical points of the advanced research into ways to deal with these bombs. He said he couldn't. That would be tactical knowledge the bad guys could use, immediately. They'd counter somehow, immediately. Some of us do know the details and the specific contractors involved. But as much as we are beyond irritated with this whole business, none of that will appear here. He's right. We've got some good stuff in the pipeline, and people should know we're working on the puzzle - but that's it. The comments here are on policy and geopolitics and political theory. That's all fair game - in a democracy you can question decisions and suggest alternatives. That's the whole point in having one. Involvement, participation, makes things better for everyone. The country is a joint effort, or has been, in concept, so far. But some things are not said, for good reason.

In any event, Maddox is curious that the Democrats seem adrift these days - the low polling numbers and chaos in Iraq should be a gift to them -
But they are afflicted with the same problem as the Tories: how to criticise [sic] the conduct of the War on Terror that they initially supported.

The attempt by Russ Feingold, a Democrat senator from Wisconsin, to win a congressional censure of Bush brings a nasty twist. He wants a resolution to censure Bush for what he thinks has been unlawful wiretapping after September 11, 2001. The White House, noting that Feingold may contest the presidency in 2008, has dismissed this as political. More awkward for Democrats, it has challenged them to say that it "shouldn't be listening to al-Qaeda communications", even though "we are a nation at war".
Yep, Feingold late in the day the "patience" speech was given did introduce the censure resolution. Earlier in the day at a speech in Wisconsin, Vice President Cheney wasn't pleased - without the permission of George Clooney, he channeled the ghost of Edward R. Murrow, who himself threw the words of a witness at the McCarthy hearings back at Joe McCarthy - "Have you no shame, sir?" The irony was delicious.

For those interested, over at the "Crooks and Liars" site you can see a streaming video of Feingold introducing the resolution here - the president authorized an illegal domestic wiretapping program and then misled Congress and the public about its existence and legality, and the resolution is a responsible step for Congress to take in response to the President's undermining of the separation of powers and ignoring the rule of law.

Senator Specter says the law in question was unconstitutional. You can't pass laws the interfere with the president or something. Senator Frist says whatever - warrantless spying on American citizens is constitutional and legal anyway, law or no law. Senator Durbin asks Specter if that's so. Specter says, "I don't know - I don't have any basis for knowing because I don't know what the program does."

This is a Tom Stoppard play. Or a Feydeau farce. Or maybe it's a Monty Python skit. No, it's the Senate.

Feingold tossed in something deadly serious. These guys couldn't handle it. Good theater, but a bad day for the country.

It doesn't matter. There will be no censure. The president's party controls the senate. Were they to let this come to a vote they have the votes to smash it, and the Associated Press here reviews all the Democratic senators who'd never vote for censure - you don't want to appear too radical or too angry or too unwilling to work things out.

What? That would be too much like the guys on the other side of the aisle?

Let's see here. You get criticized for having no plans, no principles, and for those wimpy ideas about being reasonable when the swarthy masses with the odd religion are out to kills us all, and here you decide the right thing is to take no position and to try to appear sweetly reasonable one more time. Because you think you get points for that? Yeah, right. Congress will not change hands.

But what a chance. Note that a few hours after the boilerplate "patience" speech the new USA Today, CNN, Gallup polling hit the wire, with this - the president's approval rating hits a new low, thirty-six percent of those polled say they "approve" of the way Bush is handling his job. A record low. Sixty percent disapprove - matching an all-time worst rating hit last November and again two weeks ago. Fifty-seven percent say sending our troops to Iraq was a mistake - up two points in two weeks, down two points from last October.

Other details - two years ago the number of those polled who said they were certain we'd "win" in Iraq was about eighty percent, and now it's twenty-two percent. Maybe a clear definition of how we'll know when we've won would help. Only one percent two years ago thought it was unlikely or certain we'd win. That's at forty-one percent now. Ambiguity.

Ambiguity is opportunity for those who'd like a change in direction. Or not.

Oh well, these guys are running things well enough, except for what the war we chose has turned into, and the business with FEMA and Hurricane Katrina, and breaking a few laws (or coming up with a whole new view of the constitution about the laws), except for the torture and secret prisons and "disappearing" people, and throwing away respect and influence around the world, and this and that, here and there.

Next up? Avian flu. Via John Aravosis here we learn that the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Michael Leavitt, at a meeting on such in Wyoming said, March 10th, if or when the big epidemic comes people should not expect the federal government to help. That's not the job of the federal government. You're on your own -
When you go to the store and buy three cans of tuna fish, buy a fourth and put it under the bed . When you go to the store to buy some milk, pick up a box of powdered milk, put it under the bed. When you do that for a period of four to six months, you are going to have a couple of weeks of food. And that's what we're talking about.
Make of that what you will. Who would want the government doing things? Personal responsibility, that's the ticket.

Here's an idea. We all hate big government. Let's get together on our own, work together, pool resources, everyone gets a say, and grow our own food, start our on schools, build roads, some sort of power grid, everyone chips in for the common stuff, and we have... a democratic government collecting taxes for some things a few don't agree with, getting bigger all the time. Oops.

Let's work with the one we have. And no name-calling.

Posted by Alan at 21:56 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 14 March 2006 06:17 PST home

Starting the week with alarms and chaos...
Topic: Chasing the Zeitgeist

Starting the week with alarms and chaos...

Monday, March 13th, two days before "Brutus Day" (the Ides of March, the day when bad thing happen to political leaders), we got the alarm from the president. Well, actually, David Sanger in the New York Times surveyed what the president had been saying in defense of the now moribund (as in dead) Dubai ports deal, and also in reaction to all the polling showing, consistently, that the majority here wonder what we're doing there - wondering just why are we in a war that more and more looks like a civil war where we may have to take sides in what is not our business, in a country in ruins we just cannot reassemble (and the locals aren't helping, what with their more pressing issues over who finally gets to be on top), and where, best case, we'll end up with a fundamentalist theocracy, with ties to Iran, that might or might not be willing to side with us on this or that issue in the future. Somehow that's bit discouraging.

The Alarm? A Bush Alarm: Urging U.S. to Shun Isolationism

Ah, as Sanger opens - "The president who made pre-emption and going it alone the watchwords of his first term is quietly turning in a new direction, warning at every opportunity of the dangers of turning the nation inward and isolationist..."

Quietly? Define that. The idea is we really shouldn't shun deals with foreign governments, especially with the United Arab Emirates (we should reach out co-opt them into helping us even more with thing like the port deal), and we should believe that it really is our business to rip out a pesky government, especially one that had be run by the murderous and destabilizing Saddam Hussein, and get those folks way, way over there to start up the first Jeffersonian free-market flat-tax deregulated democracy in the neighborhood. We should be involved in the world, and engaged. We can't always act alone. That would be wrong. Not prudent. Thus the alarm.

Sanger probably uses the word "quietly" because he is compiling things - there was no one central presidential speech launching a "campaign on isolationism." In the last two weeks or more there seems to have been a major shift in the way the president is talking about the world, and in how the administration chooses now to deal with the world. Sanger is reporting that. Nothing was actually announced. But the shift is blatantly obvious and should be noted.

There's something odd going on here, and it doesn't take rocket scientist to wonder what's up. Matthew Yglesias does the basics for us here, saying that what the president sees as an unfortunate isolationist reaction in Americans these days looks more like unfortunate opposition to the administration's policies -
It's worth saying as clearly as possible that this is entirely bogus. Before George W. Bush took office, zero American presidents launched wars against countries that posed no threat to the United States for the purposes of transforming an entrenched dictatorship into a democracy. After Bush took office, he continued in the noble American tradition of not doing that. Several years into his term, he invaded Iraq because, or so he said, its government was close to building a nuclear bomb that it was likely to give to al-Qaeda. Several months after the invasion, it became clear to everyone that this was false and he started pretending to have done it in order to turn Iraq into a democracy. Today, with Iraq in shambles, people are correctly perceiving that the reason no president has ever tried to do something like that is that it's a fundamentally unsound, unworkable idea.

His effort to paint himself as a free trade martyr is, if anything, more pathetic. The White House has embraced protectionism whenever - as in the case of the steel tariffs, the softwood lumbers tariffs, and the explosion of farm subsidies - the balance of K Street money favors protectionism. The farm bill he signed into law doomed the Doha Round of WTO talks...
And Yglesias goes on about CAFTA and so on, but you get the idea.

And it does seem like name-calling. Suggest that something is a stunningly bad idea and should be reconsidered and you're an "isolationist." As name-calling goes that's pretty good. You get lumped in with the "buy American" folks who want to destroy Toyota and Sony, or with those way back with those who thought we shouldn't have fought in Europe against Hitler (and were glad when FDR said we never would, even as he was working us into the battle).

The problem is that, like all name-calling, it's beside the point. The opposition has, for the last five years, since that historic September, urged that we should engage the world and work out how everyone could join in dealing with "the problem." But no. We'd have none of that - join us in what we've planned and don't ask question, or you're one of "them." Here, suggest security concerns that should be worked out and poof - you're an "isolationist," case closed and you're wrong.

It's the usual. The pattern is clear. Let's talk, as something here seems to need more consideration. No, no point in talking as it's clear that you're just an [insert name here].

You might point out that you were the ones saying we needed to work with the world and the administration was saying that was dangerous and things had to be done unilaterally, without considering the views of wimps, fools, the corrupt and the French. You might, but why bother? You'd just get called another name. Of course, in the fifties you'd be called a communist. The label stops the conversation, as how can you consider the views of someone who's a [insert name here]?

So much for political discourse. But then lots of people use this method to shut down discussions. It probably explains more than a few divorces.

Posted by Alan at 21:56 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
home

Sunday, 12 March 2006
The way things seem from out here in Hollywood...
Topic: Announcements

The way things seem from out here in Hollywood...

The new issue of Just Above Sunset, the weekly magazine-format parent to this daily web log, is now online. This is Volume 4, Number 11 for the week of March 12, 2006 - filled with new material.

This week there are four extended commentaries on the past week. In general terms there's a discussion what we can generally believe to be true and what is just "truthiness" - and, yes, the study how we know what we know is epistemology. And, with everyone on the national stage spinning events this way or that, there's discussion of just what winning in that business is. And things sure seem like 1973 in a whole lot of ways. And at the end of the week, political bummers, with an assessment of the way things are going, from the Dubai business to an amazing array of what sure seem like scandals.

And there's one of those infrequent arts columns - a cult book from 1939 becomes a movie with major stars and all that, but why?

Our Man in Paris, Ric Erickson, this week offers us a photo essay on the opening night at the big art exhibit at the Pompidou Center in Paris, and yes, the new show is all about Los Angeles.

Bob Patterson is back, way back. The World's Laziest Journalist has been spending a lot of time in 1943 for some reason, and the Book Wrangler offers a list.

Photography this week - the amazing Korean bell and pagoda at the harbor, scenic lighthouses (yes, we have those here), a bit of Italy here in the land of the wealthy who live at the coast, special botanical shots, and a week after the Oscar business, some really inside stuff.

Quotes this week? Nonsense.

Direct links to specific pages -

Current Events ______________________

Political Epistemology: When the facts aren't enough...
Winning: Reading the Tea Leaves
Edgy Times (kind of like the seventies)
The State of Play: Things Collapsing and the Old Woman Uses the D-Word

In These Times ______________________

LA Revisited: Back to the Obscure Thirties

The International Desk ______________________

Our Man in Paris: What's LA Smell?

Bob Patterson ______________________

WLJ Weekly: from the desk of the World's Laziest Journalist - Time Travel Courtesy of Time Magazine
Book Wrangler: Recommended Without Comment

Southern California Photography ______________________

At Angels Gate: The Korean Bell of Friendship and Bell Pavilion, Angels Gate Park, San Pedro
Lighthouses
Italianate: Statuary at Malaga Cove Plaza
Botanicals
Oscar Day: The Obscure Inside Scoop

Quotes for the week of March 12, 2006 - Nonsense

Posted by Alan at 18:44 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
home

Saturday, 11 March 2006
LA Revisited: Back to the Obscure Thirties
Topic: Local Issues

LA Revisited: Back to the Obscure Thirties

What this about? Nostalgia? For the middle of the Depression? For the middle of the Depression here in Los Angeles when the major studios were pumping out those white-telephone fantasies, the streets were filled with the homeless and hopeless, and the "Grapes of Wrath" dustbowl refugees were rolling in from Oklahoma only to find not much here? There's something in the air that fuels a return to those days?

The new film "Ask the Dust" opened in limited release March 10th (basics here) - Colin Farrell, Salma Hayek, Donald Sutherland, written and directed by Robert Towne. "An ambitious young man (Farrell), sick of his intolerant Colorado hometown, moves to Los Angeles to become a novelist. As his writing career takes off, he becomes obsessed with a Mexican barmaid (Hayek). It's based on a cult-classic book by noir great John Fante."

John Fante? Well, he was born in Colorado in 1909 and began writing out here in 1929 - a few decades of short stories, novels and screenplays. But he's not a household name.

On the other hand, Ask the Dust is his semi-autobiographical coming of age novel set here and does have a noir following. It was first published in 1939 and you might think of it as an anti-Gatsby, written while the man who wrote The Great Gatsby more than a decade earlier, with all its sad glitter, was drinking himself to death right here on Laurel Avenue, a few doors down the street, sickened of many things, including Hollywood. Ask the Dust is about the other side of this town - the grit.

Amazon is offering the June 1980 paperback edition (and offers a link to the front cover, the back cover, and an excerpt). And they quote from the preface by Charles Bukowski - "Then one day I pulled a book down and opened it, and there it was. I stood for a moment, reading. Then like a man who had found gold in the city dump, I carried the book to a table. The lines rolled easily across the page, there was a flow. Each line had its own energy and was followed by another like it. The very substance of each line gave the page a form, a feeling of something carved into it. And here, at last, was a man who was not afraid of emotion. The humor and the pain were intermixed with a superb simplicity ... that book was a wild and enormous miracle to me."

John Fante died in 1983. Bukowski loved the book. But who else was reading it?

Robert Towne was. As in this - "In the Robert Towne-directed adaptation of John Fante's Depression Era novel, Hayek will play the fiery Mexican beauty Camilla who hopes to rise above her station by marrying a wealthy American. That is complicated by meeting Arturo Bandini (Farrell), a first-generation Italian hoping to land a writing career and a blue-eyed blonde on his arm." (A trailer for the movie is here.) That link, at the Internet Movie Database leads to only one comment, which offers this - " Relying on the powerful performances of his cast, the film depends mostly on the background of Los Angeles as the magnificent city of dreams and ambition where lonely souls collide day after day."

Yeah, yeah. Everyone says that. "Crash" won best picture this year.

But what about the book? How did this one become a movie?

In this industry town, the Los Angeles Times explains, but the item was not in the entertainment or business pages. David L. Ulin, book editor of the Times covered it this week in the Friday book column.

See An L.A. Story, And Its Author's Too - John Fante's 1939 novel revealed a city in survival mode, a fertile setting for a writer of a similar mind. - Los Angeles Times - March 10, 2006

There he calls the book one of the "ur-texts of Los Angeles literature" - after almost seventy years still offering "a vivid portrait of the city's life." He says it's seminal, framing a new sensibility, "by turns cynical and innocent, full of rage and hope and desperation, much like Los Angeles."

Of course it was published in 1939, the same year as Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep and Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust. It was a big year for cynicism.

Ulin quotes the opening line - "One night I was sitting on my bed in my hotel room on Bunker Hill down in the very middle of Los Angeles. It was an important night in my life, because I had to make a decision about the hotel. Either I paid up or I got out: that was what the note said, the note the landlady had put under my door. A great problem, deserving acute attention. I solved it by turning out the lights and going to bed."

Yep, this is a Los Angeles "in which glam and glitter are not just distant but nonexistent, and it is enough merely to survive."

It now an old theme. And here the hero "falls in love with a Mexican waitress, whom he can't have and (perhaps) doesn't really want. He is casually brutal, to her and to others, and yet his redemption lies in his ability to recognize - if not mitigate - this propensity within himself."

He's conflicted - he sees the 1933 Long Beach earthquake as divine retribution for his sins -
There is, of course, something solipsistic about reading a natural disaster through a personal filter, as if the Earth itself were little more than a megaphone for God. Yet paradoxically, this becomes one of the novel's charms, the unrelenting way Fante reveals Bandini, and, by extension, himself.

Whatever else "Ask the Dust" is, it is a piece of autobiographical fiction, the author's life transformed into myth. It is acri de Coeur, an expression of self in the face of indifference, the indifference of the world. For all Bandini's crowing ("Here I am, folks. Take a look at a great writer! Notice my eyes, folks. The eyes of a great writer. Notice my jaw, folks. The jaw of a great writer. Look at those hands, folks. The hands that created 'The Little Dog Laughed' and 'The Long Lost Hills' "), he is adrift in the universe, just like everyone.

"It crept upon me," Fante writes, "the restlessness, the loneliness ... the world seemed a myth, a transparent plane, and all things upon it were here for only a little while; all of us, Bandini, and Hackmuth and Camilla and Vera, all of us were here for a little while, and then we were somewhere else; we were not alive at all; we approached living, but we never achieved it. We were going to die. Everybody was going to die. Even you, Arturo, even you must die."

This is a universal moment in which the physical yields to the metaphysical and we stare down mortality as if it were the barrel of a gun.
My, it does sound like the flip side of Gatsby. But not on the north coast of Long Island with the mansions. And here we have a profoundly unsympathetic and self-absorbed hero, brutal and full of bluster. No Gatsby charm here. It's an LA thing.

Ulin doesn't think much of the film, as Fante, "is presenting us with a three-dimensional portrait, made all the more profound by his willingness to portray Bandini as unsympathetic and self-absorbed. Regrettably, it is precisely this quality that is missing from the film adaptation of the novel, in which writer-director Robert Towne backs away from Bandini's complex mix of arrogance and insecurity in favor of a lukewarm love story that sentimentalizes the character and his relationship with the waitress Camilla, one of the most scabrous affairs in literature."

Well, Hollywood is like that.

But what's with romanticizing the back end of town during the Great Depression? This film based on a minor novel was green-lighted by any number of marketing people, and funds were released for its production. These things cost real money. Someone decided people would pay to see a tale of someone self-absorbed and confused, with a pumped-up but shaky ego, trying to make sense of a world in economic ruin. And there's even a major earthquake. The marketing people must know something about the current zeitgeist. This is not a good sign.

Posted by Alan at 16:22 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 11 March 2006 16:31 PST home

Friday, 10 March 2006
The State of Play: Things Collapsing and the Old Woman Uses the D-Word
Topic: Chasing the Zeitgeist

The State of Play: Things Collapsing and the Old Woman Uses the D-Word

Stormy sunset in Hollywood, Friday, March 10, 2006Friday, March 10th, as the sun sinks slowly in the west... well, on that particular day that didn't happen here in Los Angeles. Sure, the sun went down, but no one saw it. Dark clouds rolling in off the Pacific, rain on the way, shadowing a weekend of gloom - snow levels down to two thousand feet, just above Pasadena, warnings of mudslides where last year's fires stripped the hills, a cold wind from the north and, of course, the freeways perpetually jammed. All we need in an earthquake, but no one can yet predict those, so all we were told was that it would be a good weekend to stay home, or at least do something indoors. Snow had shut state Highway 58 through Tehachapi Friday morning - a potent Alaska storm blowing into the Los Angeles Basin - the California Highway Patrol closed the Grapevine, the high point of Interstate 5 leaving Los Angeles northward, early Friday morning - snow and hazardous conditions. They reopened it a few hours later. We're told Saturday will be the worst - but James DePreist conducts the LA Philharmonic in William Schuman's "New England Triptych" and Beethoven's "Emperor" piano concerto and Bartók's concerto for orchestra, down at Disney Hall in the afternoon, and in the evening Pharaoh Sanders will be down at the Jazz Bakery in Venice. Screw the beach.

Gloom. Seemed pervasive. Almost national.

This was the day after Dubai Ports World said they'd sell their management contacts for operations at six key US ports to "an American entity" - but no one knows who, and people are whispering Halliburton. After the 62-2 vote in the House Appropriations Committee to craft legislation blocking the deal and attach it to the bill funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and funding extra money for hurricane relief down New Orleans way, the hand-writing was on the wall. Something had to be done. The president said he would veto any bill to which they attached such a prohibition, and the Republican congress said something like "bring it on."

What's going on? Taylor Marsh here argues that while the Democrats been leading on the port issue from the start (really?) also this was "a head-on collision "between the president and "his rubber stamping subjects" - the Republicans who control Congress decided it was "more important to take cover" than back the boss. Still the idea is "collapse" really is the operative word on so many issues where the Republicans are involved - "while they've been kissing the king's ring, Democrats have taken the lead on national security. It's shaken the rubber stampers to their core."

Well, there has been a shift in something, maybe not a "collapse," but a change.

The White House is not happy, saying this sends the wrong message. We "need moderate" allies in the Arab world, like the United Arab Emirates, "to win the global war on terrorism."

Of course, we've befuddled and offended almost all our traditional allies. And the "coalition of the willing" always seemed a motley crew - the Brits, a few Italians and small contingents from Australia and Japan (no combat role for the Japanese as their constitution forbids it - only support and logistics), all the way down to a handful of folks from Fiji. The idea that the White House knows how to build effective alliances and, from their deep well of sage diplomatic comprehension, is lecturing congress on the niceties of the same is amusing, or something.

At the end of the week even the previously pro-Bush folks were sighing a strained "whatever." He can say anything he likes. They face voters in November, who, after being fed a four-year diet of we're-all-going-to-die scenarios of what would happen without George at the rudder, are saying this smells. The idea of a firm owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates managing the movement of cargo in and out of our ports just "feels" wrong. Hey, you play on their feelings, fear and anger, and what did you think the reaction to this would be?

"Trust me" - after the WMD weren't there (and after that joking skit about it at the Nation Press Club dinner where the president looked for them under pillows and behind curtains and got big laughs), after the admission that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the three-thousand dead at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, after the videotapes showing the president was warned about the drowning of New Orleans after he said he wasn't, after this, after that - feels a lots like Nixon in the seventies saying "I am not a crook." Sure, you want to trust your president. But you don't want to be jerked around. When someone with something to propose that seems a little odd is reduced to saying "trust me" and little more (maybe "it's kind of complicated and you probably don't have the real experience to understand the idea") you don't trust them. It's human nature. And when you've been burned before...

But it gets even more complicated. The president is "troubled" by what just happened. We could lose a key ally. We could lose jobs - they might not buy Boeing but go with Airbus and all that. A new round of trade talks between the United States and the United Arab Emirates was postponed. This was important!

But then ABC reports this - "The White House asked Dubai Ports World, a company owned by the United Arab Emirates, to give up its management stake in U.S. ports, to save President Bush from the politically difficult position of vetoing a key piece of legislation to protect America's ports..."

It seems Karl Rove had a heart-to heart with the president. Rove is, after all, the president's chief political advisor, and sometimes called Bush's Brain. (James Moore, the co-author of that book, is now on the federal 'no fly' list and thus no doing lectures, readings or book signing, except very locally, so you can trust Rove.) It is a solution of sorts.

But then which is it? This deal was important to the "war on terrorism" and important to the economy. So you call the long-time family friends who run the joint overt there and tell them to save your butt and pull out?

You want the terrorists to win? You want America to lose jobs?

This is a tad confusing. It just adds another subtle layer of skepticism to the multi-layered pervasive grumpiness of even your own supporters.

Not that it matters. Things are still bad.

Late Friday - House To Vote On Ports Despite Company Promise - they want to go on record saying this was astoundingly dumb idea and legislate that no foreign government own any company that manages the ports, or any key part of the country's infrastructure. They won't let it go.

And the week runs down to a Friday of bad news. New polls, AP-Ipsos here - "More and more people, particularly Republicans, disapprove of President Bush's performance, question his character and no longer consider him a strong leader against terrorism, according to an AP-Ipsos poll documenting one of the bleakest points of his presidency."

Approval rating at thirty-seven percent, the lowest of this presidency for this polling method - and thirty-six percent approval of the handling domestic stuff - and only forty-three percent approval on foreign policy and terrorism. Bummer.

And the Washington Post here chatted with Republicans running for office in November. They fear this president will be "more albatross than advantage." It's mostly the Dubai business and "a perception of weakness that has liberated Republicans who once would never have dared" to cross the White House. Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio said you have "no political capital" left. Bummer times two.

Business Week says here that the Dubai thing seems like "the thread that could unravel" everything on the agenda. They quote Frank Luntz, the hard-right polling guy even NBC fired to being too much of a Bush cheerleader saying this - "It's an electoral disaster. This is potent because it legitimizes all the Democratic attacks of the past three years that the President isn't paying attention." Bummer times three.

Ah, the Wall Street Journal wouldn't end the week with a downer, would they? Well, yes - this congress may start questioning the details of those requests for defense funding. "Deficit pressures, scandals involving defense contracts, congressional unease with administration bookkeeping for war costs" seem to have them spooked. That and the low poll numbers "are combining to end defense spending's status as the budget's sacred cow." Bummer times four.

Other business folks? Over at Bloomberg News there's this about "deteriorating relations" between the White House and "fellow Republicans," something abuut the Dubai business "underscoring a perception of incompetence stemming from the government's response to Hurricane Katrina." Even the strange senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum is quoted as saying that that the administration "didn't handle this very well." And he's not handling his own stuff that well himself. Bummer times five.

[Note: Tim Grieve at SALON.COM provided pointers to these items here in his "War Room" roundup. Highly recommended.]

What to do with all this gloom? Say strong leaders have deep convictions that aren't shaken by what anyone else thinks. That's what makes you so good at what you do. Reuters covers that here, but you had to see it on television to get a sense of the noble snarl that went with the words. "You see, a real leader..." Amazing.

One thinks of that quip from Mark Twain - "I am not one of those who in expressing opinions confine themselves to facts." Or this - "He speaks to the audience as if they're idiots. I think the reason he does that is because that's the way these issues were explained to him."

But maybe it's not just him. Thursday Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee. Iraq seem to be on the verge of, or in, a sectarian civil war, and, given that eighty percent of us think that is so, as the polls show, committee members pressed him again and again on what the plan is for dealing with that. Can a full-scale civil war be prevented somehow, and if not, as seems to be the case, what do we do - stand back, choose sides (which side and why>), get out, call in other Arab countries, protect what and abandon what? What is the plan? Rumsfeld - "The plan is to prevent a civil war, and to the extent one were to occur, to have the, from a security standpoint, have the Iraqi security forces deal with it to the extent they're able to."

That's it. Let them handle it. No big deal. It'll be fine. Or not. But it's not our problem, trust me. So he too speaks to the audience as if they're idiots.

Is anyone fed up with this? Note the letter here - a veteran turns in his medals -
... I return enclosed the symbols of my years of service: the shoulder boards of my rank and my Naval Aviator's wings.

Until your administration, I believed it was inconceivable that the United States would ever initiate an aggressive and preemptive war against a country that posed no threat to us. Until your administration, I thought it was impossible for our nation to take hundreds of persons into custody without provable charges of any kind, and to "disappear" them into holes like Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram. Until your administration, in my wildest legal fantasy I could not imagine a U.S. Attorney General seeking to justify torture or a President first stating his intent to veto an anti-torture law, and then adding a "signing statement" that he intends to ignore such law as he sees fit. I do not want these things done in my name.

As a citizen, a patriot, a parent and grandparent, a lawyer and law teacher I am left with such a feeling of loss and helplessness. I think of myself as a good American and I ask myself what can I do when I see the face of evil? Illegal and immoral war, torture and confinement for life without trial have never been part of our Constitutional tradition. But my vote has become meaningless because I live in a safe district drawn by your political party. My congressman is unresponsive to my concerns because his time is filled with lobbyists' largess. Protests are limited to your "free speech zones," out of sight of the parade. Even speaking openly is to risk being labeled un-American, pro-terrorist or anti-troops. And I am a disciplined pacifist, so any violent act is out of the question.

Nevertheless, to remain silent is to let you think I approve or support your actions. I do not. So, I am saddened to give up my wings and bars. They were hard won and my parents and wife were as proud as I was when I earned them over forty years ago. But I hate the torture and death you have caused more than I value their symbolism. Giving them up makes me cry for my beloved country.
But the lawyer and law teacher here knows this is pointless. And he didn't even mention this - "In the first action of its kind, a federal jury found Thursday that a private security company bilked the U.S.-led government in Iraq out of millions of dollars." Custer Battles - shell companies, fake invoices and stolen forklifts - it all adds up. And it'll cost them ten million now.

And the war goes on, as described by a visitor here in a quick email from Baghdad -
Getting here was far less complicated than I had imagined, but with 48 hours of life on the Tigris under my belt, I feel blessed with the marvelous array of experiences this city offers. Multiple encounters with white Toyota Landcruisers filled with black outfitted AK-47 totting Interior Ministry irregulars (a/k/a death squads), even more encounters with US and South African security contractors, which are even more threatening - each of these is enough to stop your heart. According to some here, the US contractors are the dumbest and the South Africans the meanest - what a hierarchy.

Today I witnessed - from a safe distance - my first car-bomb. Then went back to read reports of 13 judicially sanctioned executions, 32 extrajudicial killings discovered, 50 bodyguards taken hostage ... Westerners talk about their hotels not in terms of spa amenities and availability of Starbucks, but based on the number of blast walls between the building and the street. So imagine where on earth people would think the arrival of a massive sandstorm was a blessing. I was amused to see Condi and Rumsfeld on TV - carried live on a local TV feed. I watched it in a crowded lobby. I'll just say the reaction of those around me was derisive - no difference in that between the locals and the Americans, all of whom (except me and the journos) seem to be DOD contractors. Possibly they're even right about the use of the term "civil war." If that evokes memories of Spain in the 30's or America in the 1860's it would be misleading. What's going on here is something very different from that. It's more a communal disintegration. But 48 hours doesn't turn one into an expert.
The reaction of those around me was derisive? Must have been Rumsfeld explain how we'd handle a civil war there, if it ever came to that, which it won't.

Well, some may be derisive, but one White House aide told Jim Hoagland of the Post (here) that most people know we need one strong leader who is above the law and isn't afraid to do what's necessary - the NSA warrantless surveillance program, those torture-like Guantánamo things, the secret renditions. The public is with that concept -
The powers of the presidency have been eroded and usurped to the breaking point. We are engaged in a new kind of war that cannot be fought by old methods. It can only be directed by a strong executive who alone is not subject to the conflicting pressures that legislators or judges face. The public understands and supports that unpleasant reality, whatever the media and intellectuals say.
That might call for a bit more polling. Is that what we signed up for? Is that what we think is necessary? It'd be nice to know. But it is the working assumption.

But what about the old woman using the d-word, which would be, in this case, "dictatorship."

Some Cindy Sheehan wannabe nutcase? Not exactly. And she used the word at least twice.

This would be former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, life-long Republican, appointed to the court by Ronald Reagan. Now that's she no longer on the bench she can let her frustrations out, and she let it rip in speech at Georgetown University.

It was the lead Friday evening on MSNBC's Countdown, but seems to have not made too many waves. No transcript or audio or video, just what an NPR report heard as noted here (emphases added) -
Nina Totenberg: In an unusually forceful and forthright speech, O'Connor said that attacks on the judiciary by some Republican leaders pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedoms. O;Connor began by conceding that courts do have the power to make presidents or the Congress or governors, as she put it "really, really angry." But, she continued, if we don't make them mad some of the time we probably aren't doing our jobs as judges, and our effectiveness, she said, is premised on the notion that we won't be subject to retaliation for our judicial acts. The nation's founders wrote repeatedly, she said, that without an independent judiciary to protect individual rights from the other branches of government those rights and privileges would amount to nothing. But, said O'Connor, as the founding fathers knew statutes and constitutions don't protect judicial independence, people do.

And then she took aim at former House GOP leader Tom DeLay. She didn't name him, but she quoted his attacks on the courts at a meeting of the conservative Christian group Justice Sunday last year when DeLay took out after the courts for rulings on abortions, prayer and the Terri Schiavo case. This, said O'Connor, was after the federal courts had applied Congress' onetime only statute about Schiavo as it was written. Not, said O'Connor, as the congressman might have wished it were written. This response to this flagrant display of judicial restraint, said O'Connor, her voice dripping with sarcasm, was that the congressman blasted the courts.

It gets worse, she said, noting that death threats against judges are increasing. It doesn't help, she said, when a high-profile senator suggests there may be a connection between violence against judges and decisions that the senator disagrees with. She didn't name him, but it was Texas senator John Cornyn who made that statement, after a Georgia judge was murdered in the courtroom and the family of a federal judge in Illinois murdered in the judge's home. O'Connor observed that there have been a lot of suggestions lately for so-called judicial reforms, recommendations for the massive impeachment of judges, stripping the courts of jurisdiction and cutting judicial budgets to punish offending judges. Any of these might be debatable, she said, as long as they are not retaliation for decisions that political leaders disagree with.

I, said O'Connor, am against judicial reforms driven by nakedly partisan reasoning. Pointing to the experiences of developing countries and former communist countries where interference with an independent judiciary has allowed dictatorship to flourish, O'Connor said we must be ever-vigilant against those who would strongarm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies. It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, she said, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.
What was that about? NBC reports that at the Friday big Republican meeting in Memphis, when asked, the eight who would be president in 2008 generally said this was silly - she's retired and no one now cares a bit what she thinks.

Kerry was "swift-boated" and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was just "Sheehaned."

It's just an odd warning to add to the end-of-week gloom.

Oh yes, minor gloom at the end of the week. The Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, resigned. What?

She told the Denver Post here there aren't any problems - she just wants to "go home for a while." The Rocky Mountain News here says her name had come up in the Jack Abramoff business. MSNBC here says he sent money her way to get the right things for his clients.

From the Denver Post -
Norton cleared her top deputy, former lobbyist J. Steven Griles, after her inspector general said his conduct showed that the department's ethics system was "a train wreck waiting to happen." Griles is now under investigation for allegations that he did the bidding of convicted Indian casino lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Norton is still supporting him.
And this -
Abramoff's tribal clients donated $50,000 to a conservative environmental group founded by Norton, hoping to win face time with the Secretary. They eventually did.

Former DeLay deputy chief of staff Tony Rudy helped Abramoff arrange a meeting with Norton, and within months, the lobbyist's clients were making huge contributions to the environmental group Norton started, the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy.

Norton's BLM director Kathleen Clarke remained after apparently violating her recusals from a Utah land-swap that investigators said would have shortchanged the federal government. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said the deal involved a "jaw-dropping ... apparent cover-up" within Norton's department.
AP and Reuters are digging deeper. Next week should be interesting. She did so want to open up that Alaska wilderness land to oil drilling, as she had been a lobbyist for the oil and mining industries for a all those years. She got tangled up with Jack. Oh well.

Even more minor but gloom still?

There's this -
When Claude Allen, President Bush's longtime domestic-policy adviser, resigned suddenly on Feb. 9, it baffled administration critics and fans. The White House claimed that Allen was leaving to spend more time with his family, while the Washington Times speculated that the 45-year-old aide, a noted social conservative, might have quit to protest a new Pentagon policy about military chaplains. Allen himself never publicly explained the reason for his departure.

News today may shed light on the mystery of Allen's resignation. According to the Montgomery County Police Department, Allen was arrested yesterday and charged in a felony theft and a felony theft scheme. According to a department press release, Allen conducted approximately 25 fraudulent "refunds" in Target and Hecht's stores in Maryland. On Jan. 2, a Target employee apprehended Allen after observing him receive a refund for merchandise he had not purchased. Target then contacted the Montgomery County Police. According to a source familiar with the case, Target and the police had been observing Allen since October 2005.

Allen is charged with practicing a form of shoplifting called "refund fraud."
Target? Shoplifting? The man who led the government effort to replace science-based sex education with teaching that only abstinence prevents AIDS? That guy? The former aid to Senator Jesse Helms, both of who just hate gay folks? The guy who opposed health insurance for children of the working poor because the program involved covered abortion services for rape and incest victims under the age of eighteen? (Details here.) Yep, that guy.

Even more minor but gloom still?

There's also this -
Faith Hill and Tim McGraw - two stars who usually stay out of politics - blasted the Hurricane Katrina cleanup effort, with Hill calling the slow progress in Louisiana and Mississippi "embarrassing" and "humiliating."

The country music artists - who are natives of the storm-ravaged states - were at times close to tears, and clearly angry when the subject of Katrina came up during a news conference today. They had met with reporters in Nashville to promote their upcoming Soul2Soul II Tour, but when asked about the hurricane cleanup, the stars pulled no punches.

"To me, there's a lot of politics being played and a lot of people trying to put people in bad positions in order to further their agendas," McGraw, a 38-year-old native of Delhi, La., said after ABC News Radio's Dan Gordon asked about Katrina.

"When you have people dying because they're poor and black or poor and white, or because of whatever they are - if that's a number on a political scale - then that is the most wrong thing. That erases everything that's great about our country."

McGraw specifically criticized President Bush. "There's no reason why someone can't go down there who's supposed to be the leader of the free world ... and say, 'I'm giving you a job to do and I'm not leaving here until it's done. And you're held accountable, and you're held accountable, and you're held accountable.

"'This is what I've given you to do, and if it's not done by the time I get back on my plane, then you're fired and someone else will be in your place...'"

Hill, who grew up in Jackson, Miss., echoed those sentiments. So overwhelmed, she uncharacteristically unleashed an epithet, calling the situation, "Bull[shit]."

"It is a huge, huge problem and it's embarrassing," she said.

"I fear for our country if we can't handle our people [during] a natural disaster. And I can't stand to see it. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out point A to point B. . . . And they can't even skip from point A to point B. "It's just screwed up."
It's no longer the Dixie Chicks. Damn. Lost the Country and Western idols. Bummer.

Host and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough on MSNBC as the week ended - "The lack of leadership in Washington, D.C., is sickening. If you look at what Republicans did-promised to do in 1994, when they took control of Congress, and see how they've been acting over the past three or four years, the biggest debt and deficit ever. They are irresponsible and reckless on so many levels. I'm embarrassed right now to be a Republican. It's a disgrace because of the lack of leadership."

There's a link to the transcript and video here. Bummer.

Paul Krugman in the Friday New York Times here on such things -
Never mind; better late than never. We should welcome the recent epiphanies by conservative commentators who have finally realized that the Bush administration isn't trustworthy. But we should guard against a conventional wisdom that seems to be taking hold in some quarters, which says there's something praiseworthy about having initially been taken in by Mr. Bush's deceptions, even though the administration's mendacity was obvious from the beginning.

According to this view, if you're a former Bush supporter who now says, as Mr. Bartlett did at the Cato event, that "the administration lies about budget numbers," you're a brave truth-teller. But if you've been saying that since the early days of the Bush administration, you were unpleasantly shrill.

Similarly, if you're a former worshipful admirer of George W. Bush who now says, as Mr. Sullivan did at Cato, that "the people in this administration have no principles," you're taking a courageous stand. If you said the same thing back when Mr. Bush had an 80 percent approval rating, you were blinded by Bush-hatred.

And if you're a former hawk who now concedes that the administration exaggerated the threat from Iraq, you're to be applauded for your open-mindedness. But if you warned three years ago that the administration was hyping the case for war, you were a conspiracy theorist.

The truth is that everything the new wave of Bush critics has to say was obvious long ago to any commentator who was willing to look at the facts.
But as he said, better late than never.

Friday the 10th was gloomy in Los Angeles. It looks like a gloomy weekend. It must be gloomy in DC too.

Stormy sunset in Hollywood, Friday, March 10, 2006

Posted by Alan at 22:14 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 10 March 2006 22:18 PST home

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