Notes on how things seem to me from out here in Hollywood... As seen from Just Above Sunset
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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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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, 5 July 2004

Topic: Photos

Photography as Propaganda

The first shot is one Matt Drudge ran on his site last week, and has since removed. Just a trick of perspective. Kerry is a hunter and a gun-owner. He was at a shooting event, proving something or other. It doesn't matter. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has rated him "F" in the senate. Why? One reason is that Kerry thinks the ban on automatic assault weapons, due to expire on September 13th, should be extended. He sees no need for ordinary folks to own Uzi's and such. Says they'd be lousy for hunting. There's no way the ban will be extended. The votes aren't there.

I guess Kerry doesn't get the point. Folks say they have a right to their weapons of choice.

This photo may be the daydream of every conservative gun owner in America. Not that they'd advocate anything like what is pictured, much less try it. Just a little joke. Drudge thought it was funny. But he took it down. It's all over the web.

The second photo? Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of the National Review Online and on the television talk shows all the time. Very pro-Bush, pro-war, pro-torture and all that you would expect. Hates the French. (See his 1999 Bastille Day piece - Happy Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkey Day!) Jonah's mother, Lucianne Goldberg, is far to the right of her son and on her own site ran this second photo of Kerry, with a caption saying that now even puppies were no longer safe.

Or this may be Kerry's new running mate. She was making fun of him. Bush eats puppies, or like Montgomery Burns, skins the alive for fun?

Consider this conservative humor.
































Posted by Alan at 22:48 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Topic: Backgrounder

Housekeeping: Background Notes

The week started with the controversial idea floated by the new government of Iraq that perhaps it would be wise to grant amnesty to the "insurgents" fighting there right now - not all of them, but at least the small-fry. The idea was to divide "the opposition," so to speak.

The new Tito-lite fellow running the place, former CIA terrorist operative Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, now seems to be backing off the idea. Jack Straw, the UK foreign minister, and Australia have no problem with it.

American popular opinion, from what I see on the talk shows and in the papers, runs the other way. They killed our guys who were just there to free them all from Saddam Hussein. It's an insult. Ungrateful bastards! And everyone knows you kill the bad guys. Amnesty? What for?

Our government is silent. It's the Iraqis' show now? Sovereignty and all that.

Special Case: Would Muqtada al-Sadr get amnesty? He's wanted for murder and Bush pledged to "get him and bring him to justice" - and to get his pesky private militias. The words of one angry Texan, armed, big time, are not to be taken lightly. (Bush has been working on that steely Clint Eastwood glare.)

And now Muqtada al-Sadr has issued a statement calling the new interim Iraqi government "illegitimate" and pledging to resist "oppression and occupation."

Dicey stuff. The MAN (Bush) says this bad guy is going DOWN, but the deputy sheriff (Allawi) says, well, maybe not. We could pull him in and make him a partner.

The bad guy (al-Sadr) just laughs and calls them both fools - and plans to go on being a pain in the ass.

Of course if you check this item you will discover that al-Sadr's spokesman "clarified" his "recent militant statements." Mahmud al-Sudani (the spokesman) said that Muqtada is still committed to a truce and would only work against this here caretaker government "non-violently."

Ah! You see Muqtada al-Sadr has in the past offered to distinguish between the Allawi government and the US troops, and offered to offer to support Allawi if he would set a firm timetable for a US withdrawal. Operarting theory here? Those big, bad threats are aimed at aimed at shoring up his base of support - the folks who really don't want us there. Yeah, the Allawi government had considered offering an amnesty to Sadr and his lieutenants, but postponed it Monday until it could clarify whether the fellow was still committed to violence. He said he was. His spokesman said he wasn't.

Keep `em guessing. Keep `em guessing.

And about this murder charge... Al-Sadr is wanted for the 10 April 2003 assassination of rival cleric Abd al-Majid al-Khoei, a charge he denies. The hapless other cleric was stabbed to death in the central Shia city of Najaf, along with two other people. See this for details. No one says al-Sadr actually stabbed the guy, but he may have been part of conspiracy to do that, or known of a conspiracy to do that. Or should have known of a conspiracy to do that. Or something. The charges we lodged by the previous Coalition Provisional Authority - the guys we so carefully picked. Gone now. The new government, which we only indirectly picked, may or may not be legally required to maintain the original charges. Unclear.

So what? Now the interim government of this Allawi guy is taking a significant step in imposing its authority by drafting an emergency law, titled The Law for Defense of National Safety.

Damn that sounds familiar.

Over at SLATE.COM you will find quick reviews of the international press. And one sees there that according to Lebanon's Daily Star (they got a copy of the thing) the new government has hesitated to pass the legislation, "because of concerns that it grants Allawi too much power." The prime minister will be able to declare martial law in certain parts of Iraq or nationwide, though he would need Cabinet approval for the former, and Cabinet and presidential approval for the latter. Once martial law is declared, the emergency law would allow Allawi to: "Take command over all police, intelligence, army and other security forces in that area ... Create special civilian courts for people accused of 'major crimes' ... Appoint civilian or military administrators in areas under martial rule. Release any defendant from custody ... Monitor--and restrict--mail, telegrams and wireless communications in affected areas. Freeze the assets of anybody accused of crimes that undermine national security, as well as those who are accused of providing shelter, funding and other assistance to suspected insurgents."

Ah, yep.

The July 7 BBC item on this has some interesting quotes.
"The lives of the Iraqi people are in danger, they are in danger from evil forces, from gangs of terrorists," said Human Rights Minister Bakhtiyar Amin.

Iraqi officials introducing the new law said people should be protected in the current climate of violence.

Mr Amin described the law as being similar to the controversial US anti-terror Patriot Act.
They are learning. Evil forces! They're getting the idea now.

There is GOOD - and then there is EVIL. George wins.

More to follow...

Housekeeping: Part Two

In these pages on Friday, 2 July 2004 in Voices - On Winning or Playing Fair you will find some comments on the upcoming election and the importance of Ohio

Bob Patterson, The World's Laziest Journalist, says that state is the one key state in the next election.

Ohio. In April 2003, Bush visited the Timken Company in Canton (Stark County) to give an economic policy speech to many hundreds of Timken line workers, administrators, and the company's chief executive officer, Tim Timken. He held up Timken - the company, not his friend - as a model for how the recovery was going great guns. I saw it on CNN.

Really.

Last month the plant closed.

Jobs all gone - poof!

The Timken closing represents twenty-seven percent of Stark County employment.

Oops.

Details here - and it was a bummer. The CEO is major Bush campaign fundraiser, a "Ranger."

Oops. Again.

Will Bush win Ohio? Who knows?

My brother in Cincinnati says no. But Ohio just mandated that all their public schools teach both evolution and creationism - equal time for each. My brother's wife, a teacher there, just rolls her eyes. She teaches reading to "special education" second graders. She'll be fine.

Yes, Bush has publicly said "the jury is still out" on that there evolution theory. He doesn't buy it. Well, to be fair, there's more, or less, to it - in an October 29 New York Times article on Bush, Nicholas Kristof reports: "Characteristically, he does not believe in evolution - he says the jury is still out - but he does not actively disbelieve in it either; as a friend puts it, 'he doesn't really care about that kind of thing.'"

You see, he's just not curious about it. It's just fancy book-learning stuff. Not his concern. That might play well in Ohio.

Consider too that Ohio just passed a total state ban on not only gay marriage, but on same-sex civil unions too. No rights for these folks. The Bush call to amend the constitution to ban gay marriage may play well there. He's on their side.

The state is his to lose.

The vote? Electronic there this year.

Bob worries the Ohio vote could be rigged.

Yes, the Ohio Diebold systems can be hacked. Easily. The Diebold CEO is a Bush Ranger too. And his guys know the source code and data structures.

But the systems are pretty open. Maybe I could hack them in the other direction. That might be fun.

But that wouldn't be fair.

Posted by Alan at 20:29 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 7 July 2004 17:49 PDT home

Sunday, 4 July 2004

Topic: Photos

New stuff...

Volume 2, Number 26 (Sunday, July 4, 2004) of Just Above Sunset is now on line.

Extended versions of items that have appeared here - AND Bob Patterson on Bush and his flying lessons - and a bit on what makes for good photography (as he's done a bit of that for Associated Press). Ric Erickson's note from Paris becomes a weekly feature - and this week we get a bit on Marlon Brando's death making the front page of all the Paris papers and Michael Moore's film opening there. And readers send in comments - from Chicago to Atlanta, and from Montr?al to Paris. There's much on the law this time, and on religion and on ethics. Most folks just check out the pretty pictures. Whatever. It's all online now.

Yes, it's the Fourth of July Issue - with quotes about America - and a patriotic Hollywood photo.



Posted by Alan at 19:53 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Topic: Couldn't be so...

Fireworks

As for Bush getting reelected, the marketplace speaks volumes - see this - where you can buy shares. Rick Brown, the News Guy, pointed out this site last year.

Let's see - today the New York Times breaks the news we traded "detainees" with the Saudis (some Brits go free from there after they'd been tortured, and we release a few Saudi dudes from Guant?namo) - so we could keep the coalition of the reluctant together a bit longer. The Los Angeles Times quotes from the Army's own report that the statute being pulled down in Baghdad was completely staged. Just what folks on the left claimed was true and everyone on the right claimed was not so at all.

And Air Force One was grounded with a bad engine and Bush misses a West Virginia engagement while they roll out the spare plane.

And this this from Bob Harris:
You've surely already read about Colin Powell performing the Village People's "YMCA" in Indonesia. If not, the BBC has the video.

As the BBC's Tim Wilcox dryly put it: In any league table of politician's most embarrassing moments, it must rank pretty high.

And really, is there any better way to help stabilize a nation struggling with fanatic Muslim reactionaries than by performing a tune originally created to celebrate joyful gay sex?

I think not.

Y'know, it's the sheer enthusiasm behind the bat-brained idiocy that's so amusing.

Watch the video. Tell your friends.

And then remember this is the guy whose cartoons, empty vials, and plagiarized, misleading data led directly to an elective war, ten thousand civilian deaths, global distrust of the U.S., and a strengthened Al-Qaeda, all at a rising cost already surpassing $120 billion.

The guy in the hard hat. Trying to sing "YMCA." In front of a bunch of foreign ministers. In Indonesia.

Giggle. Cry.

And then at least be glad we'll (probably) still have elections in the fall.

I guess there's still some pride in that.

On this July 4, have a truly wonderful series of gratuitous explosions -- a form of celebration derived from the British, the escape from whose influence we are supposedly celebrating.
Geniuses, we are. Genius, right from the start.
Well, the sun is setting out here in Hollywood. Time to watch some fireworks, after sedating Harriet-the-Cat.

Posted by Alan at 19:38 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Saturday, 3 July 2004

Topic: Couldn't be so...

Smoke and Mirrors

I see this today in my local Los Angeles Times.

The folks at Information Clearinghouse were right low those many months ago. The pulling down of that statute of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad when we took over the place was a totally staged event. No joyous Iraqi civilians - just some shills. Our own Army, now, finally, explains it all in detail:
The Army's internal study of the war in Iraq criticizes some efforts by its own psychological operations units, but one spur-of-the-moment effort last year produced the most memorable image of the invasion.

As the Iraqi regime was collapsing on April 9, 2003, Marines converged on Firdos Square in central Baghdad, site of an enormous statue of Saddam Hussein. It was a Marine colonel -- not joyous Iraqi civilians, as was widely assumed from the TV images -- who decided to topple the statue, the Army report said. And it was a quick-thinking Army psychological operations team that made it appear to be a spontaneous Iraqi undertaking.

After the colonel -- who was not named in the report -- selected the statue as a "target of opportunity," the psychological team used loudspeakers to encourage Iraqi civilians to assist, according to an account by a unit member.

But Marines had draped an American flag over the statue's face.

"God bless them, but we were thinking ... that this was just bad news," the member of the psychological unit said. "We didn't want to look like an occupation force, and some of the Iraqis were saying, 'No, we want an Iraqi flag!' "

Someone produced an Iraqi flag, and a sergeant in the psychological operations unit quickly replaced the American flag.
So it was stage-managed for all us back here. To make us feel good. The news folks covering it cooperated. News anchors on the television were saying it was just like the fall of the Berlin Wall - and we all felt great.

A sham. But we didn't know. And we wanted to feel good about waging war. We needed to.

And it seems the Iraqis for the most part stayed away, having other things to do.

I feel the same way when the major studios film in the neighborhood out here in Hollywood. It's interesting for a moment, then all the trucks and cables and tech folks are just irritating. And not my business. One seldom ever knows what the film will be. Doesn't matter. One afternoon a few years ago they even used the courtyard of the apartment building where I live - dollies and cables and flats and booms everywhere. Harriet-the-Cat hid under the bed.

Same thing - a bunch of people making a film for an audience far away.

__

Note:

Again yesterday. Driving home from some shopping in Sherman Oaks. Came up Beverly Glen from the Valley and turned left on Mulholland Drive - to ride the crest of the hills over to Laurel Canyon and down that twisting canyon road to home. You hardly ever see more than one or two cars way up there. It's real pleasant - view of the Santa Monica Mountains one way, and the Pacific far in the distance the other.

Halfway across the hills - a giant jam. At the entrance to Marlon Brando's place up on Mulholland - traffic cones, then six police cruisers, then satellite vans from all the television stations (I counted nine), cameras everywhere, a catering truck.

Ghouls looking for a shot of a weeping relative or friend? Probably.

So I crept through that, trying to look inconspicuous - as my left brake light had gone dead last week and I didn't want a ticket for that, and I had been smoking my pipe, and you're not supposed to smoke when you drive in the Hollywood Hills as it really is fire season....

Fascinating? No.

Irritating? You bet.

Things are always different on the ground.

Posted by Alan at 16:44 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 3 July 2004 16:54 PDT home

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