Is there something fringe-left about Pasadena?

One doesn't normally think of the small inland city outside Los Angeles as a leftist hotbed, like Ann Arbor or Berkeley — in fact, quite the opposite — it has a historic image as a dowager of a town, Republican to the bone, where the principle activity is the annual rose parade among the elegant California Arts and Crafts style homes.

But a couple of back—to—back events happened, changing the picture considerably.

One is John Kerry's full frontal insult against U.S. troops, something that happened at a Pasadena junior college full of enthusiastic leftists. Kerry felt energized in this big crowd, and spoke candidly about just what he thinks about the intelligence of U.S. troops, calling them, in effect, stupid. The Pasadena crowd roared its approval and ate up the Kerry message since it's conventional wisdom in far—left circles. There was no flap in Pasadena about the Kerry insult until word about it spread elsewhere. Only at that point did it become "a botched joke."

But something else that happened, too. At last Saturday's sparsely attended ANSWER anti—war protest in Hollywood,  an ex—Pasadena mayor got up to speak. His name was William Paparian  and he was running for Congress. He looked like a conventional politician in an unconventional place, sweating in the Hollywood heat in a standard politician's business suit, addressing an unkempt scrum of tie—dyed hippies.

But what came out of the Pasadenan mouth was pure fringe left. The Pasadena ex—mayor spewed a slew of praise for Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, particularly for his 'devil' speech. Watching this, I was flabbergasted. I had no idea Pasadena, or any civilized city, could elect a leftist that lunatic who would openly praise Hugo Chavez. Following Chavez's devil speech, even the most commited of left—leaning Democrats elsewhere squarely distanced themelves from the Chavez diatribe, like Charles Rangel and Nancy Pelosi. Not the Pasadena ex—mayor. He had nothing but admiration for Hugo Chavez. His Web site shows that he's a big supporter of doing Fidel Castro's bidding by dropping the trade embargo against Cuba.

The crazy leftist college, combined with the crazy leftist ex—mayor, presented a whole different picture of Pasadena from its traditional image.

There are probably some good reasons for it — demographic change, for one, and potential political forces' growth in response to certain laws that affect human behavior.

But without analyzing in a systemic way, it's interesting to notice the anecdotal signs of this city's transformation — a Pasadena Home Depot I visited a year ago was full of illegal immigrants and Spanish—language signs, for one. Some prominent universities are in the vicinity, like Cal—Tech and the Claremont Colleges, one of which boasts a prominent Chavista apologist, Miguel Tinker—Salas, who recently denounced the FBI for asking him questions about potential terrorism. There also is a company called Cogent Systems, which received huge contracts from the Venezuelan government for its controversial fingerprint machines,  which were subsequently shown to have potential to identify voters with their votes. It was the main factor that contributed to voter abstention in Venezuela's disastrous congressional election last December, where voter abstention was as high as 82% on fears that votes would be identified.

All in all, Pasadena seems to be a Chavez—centric town. And a leftist hotbed. No wonder John Forbes Kerry felt he could let his hair down and say what he really thought.

A.M. Mora y Leon 01 11 06

One doesn't normally think of the small inland city outside Los Angeles as a leftist hotbed, like Ann Arbor or Berkeley — in fact, quite the opposite — it has a historic image as a dowager of a town, Republican to the bone, where the principle activity is the annual rose parade among the elegant California Arts and Crafts style homes.

But a couple of back—to—back events happened, changing the picture considerably.

One is John Kerry's full frontal insult against U.S. troops, something that happened at a Pasadena junior college full of enthusiastic leftists. Kerry felt energized in this big crowd, and spoke candidly about just what he thinks about the intelligence of U.S. troops, calling them, in effect, stupid. The Pasadena crowd roared its approval and ate up the Kerry message since it's conventional wisdom in far—left circles. There was no flap in Pasadena about the Kerry insult until word about it spread elsewhere. Only at that point did it become "a botched joke."

But something else that happened, too. At last Saturday's sparsely attended ANSWER anti—war protest in Hollywood,  an ex—Pasadena mayor got up to speak. His name was William Paparian  and he was running for Congress. He looked like a conventional politician in an unconventional place, sweating in the Hollywood heat in a standard politician's business suit, addressing an unkempt scrum of tie—dyed hippies.

But what came out of the Pasadenan mouth was pure fringe left. The Pasadena ex—mayor spewed a slew of praise for Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, particularly for his 'devil' speech. Watching this, I was flabbergasted. I had no idea Pasadena, or any civilized city, could elect a leftist that lunatic who would openly praise Hugo Chavez. Following Chavez's devil speech, even the most commited of left—leaning Democrats elsewhere squarely distanced themelves from the Chavez diatribe, like Charles Rangel and Nancy Pelosi. Not the Pasadena ex—mayor. He had nothing but admiration for Hugo Chavez. His Web site shows that he's a big supporter of doing Fidel Castro's bidding by dropping the trade embargo against Cuba.

The crazy leftist college, combined with the crazy leftist ex—mayor, presented a whole different picture of Pasadena from its traditional image.

There are probably some good reasons for it — demographic change, for one, and potential political forces' growth in response to certain laws that affect human behavior.

But without analyzing in a systemic way, it's interesting to notice the anecdotal signs of this city's transformation — a Pasadena Home Depot I visited a year ago was full of illegal immigrants and Spanish—language signs, for one. Some prominent universities are in the vicinity, like Cal—Tech and the Claremont Colleges, one of which boasts a prominent Chavista apologist, Miguel Tinker—Salas, who recently denounced the FBI for asking him questions about potential terrorism. There also is a company called Cogent Systems, which received huge contracts from the Venezuelan government for its controversial fingerprint machines,  which were subsequently shown to have potential to identify voters with their votes. It was the main factor that contributed to voter abstention in Venezuela's disastrous congressional election last December, where voter abstention was as high as 82% on fears that votes would be identified.

All in all, Pasadena seems to be a Chavez—centric town. And a leftist hotbed. No wonder John Forbes Kerry felt he could let his hair down and say what he really thought.

A.M. Mora y Leon 01 11 06