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Publisher’s Notebook:

Days are getting longer. I watch the sun rise every morning as it travels north, now almost half way to its summer peak. Nighttime comes later, allowing time for a pre-supper walk. The Big Dipper is appearing ever so slightly and upside down compared to its summer position. It is still winter as evidenced by Orion’s Belt, but we are only a few short weeks away to spring. The most recent rains have greened up the hills and meadows and the ceanothus are beginning to bloom. It has been a dry year so the creeks aren’t showing much. Of course, Solstice Canyon and Malibu Creek State Park have year-round water, so if it’s a spring walk you are seeking, try out these local jewels. And while you are at it, stop in at Topanga Canyon State Park near the ridgeline of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Treat yourself to verdant green meadows with panoramic views. Try the Musch Ranch trail for a good workout and some wilderness touching. At home, the first strawberries have ripened (and been eaten) and plants are flowering. Remember you need to redo your strawberries every three years. The annual Tomato-Bration at Merrihew’s Sunset Gardens has started, signaling it is time to get tomato plants in the warmer ground. This is sort of the Groundhog Day for Santa Monica. It was so hot last weekend that the blooming azaleas were beginning to wilt, but the pansies were thriving.

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I found the Seymour Hersh take on the Iraq war the most fascinating yet. Who would have thought this badly conceived war would bring Saudi Arabia and Israel together in order to fight Iranian-led Shiite expansionism. To think we are now joining forces with the Sunni Arab world despite the fact that they have created most of the U.S. casualties is very hard to take, although we worked with the Stalinist Communists to get rid of Nazism, so strange bedfellows is not unusual for us. I guess it’s simply making friends with your enemies. This upheaval is likely to remake the face of the Middle East; let’s just hope it resolves quickly and not too many people die in the process. I was actually encouraged to hear of Iraq’s desire to hold a regional peace conference with its neighbors – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Kuwait, Jordan – and the U.S. From what little I know of the Iranian populace, I just have a feeling they are not into a major war. I am voting for the eventual better selves of the Arab/Persian world to make peace. By most accounts, Sunnis and Shiites were peaceful neighbors in Iraq before the war, though the recent Doonesbury cartoon showing a character still mad at his neighbor due to a family killing, later revealed to be from several hundred years ago, shows what has been dug up.

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I am a little uncomfortable with the Big Blue Bus becoming a wing of the morals police by refusing to allow a Tyra Banks ad for her TV show. Word is there were some complaints registered, though by whom and how many has not been revealed. Does this type of advertising demean women? Modeling is a legitimate profession and should not be shunned. I have a hunch if it was a spy show (24 comes to mind), showing machine guns or other action-oriented killing machines and devices, there would be no problem. Models in bathing suits though appear to be a no no. Not in my book. Okay, I am a man and liked the image, but honestly it goes beyond that. I think rating systems have always favored violence over sexuality and I don’t approve of THAT. The MTA has not removed these ads.

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I am actually ready to see Albert Gore, Jr. run for president. I know his new giant house and huge utility bill will be put in his face, but I want him for more than his fight against global warming. Let me be perfectly clear: I would want Ralph Nader first and foremost, as there is nobody in this country that is more concerned about individual citizens than he. That being said, he will never be elected, so my next concern is: who has the necessary experience governing? I like Al Gore’s world tour and that he has taken the time to meet with concerned environmentalists. I liked his time in office where, among many achievements, he turned the role of vice president into a serious job, instead of just fodder for late-night comedians. He spent a significant amount of time meeting with heads of state and visiting foreign countries, and knows how to play well with others. I want a president who can help America get along with all countries, especially in light of the shrinking world we now inhabit. I know that Laurie David helped make him into a more compelling figure through the lens of An Inconvenient Truth, but he also came through as a real human being, something that can be hard to convey on the campaign trail. My next Democratic favorite is New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson because of his ease of self and his experience and character. Also he has a great sense of humor and his political positions are very much in line with mine.

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There is an age-old question about politicians. Should they do what the electorate wants or what they want? Are they supposed to vote their individual conscience or what the voters were clear about? I have personally struggled with the answer to this question since my days as a political science major. Mayor Richard Bloom and councilmember Robert Holbrook are so far withholding their support to allow medical marijuana farmacies in Santa Monica. Perhaps they represent the 27 percent of the Santa Monica electorate who opposed Prop 215 legalizing medical marijuana? Let’s just hope the other members of the council will support the 73 percent who voted yes.

Michael Rosenthal


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