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Standing Outside Their Circle

Pacific Palisades couple find themselves at odds with staunchly antiwar friends, but say the war hasn't realigned their liberal politics.

March 21, 2003|Sandy Banks | Times Staff Writer

She came back grateful for this country's freedoms, and amazed at what others take for granted: "I was in awe of how nobody here had gratitude for law and order, for the right to say whatever you want. You can go to a cocktail party and say, 'The president's a mass murderer,' and not be in jail the next day."

"I don't get it now when I see these signs that say we're just as bad as Saddam Hussein. People don't have any idea what it's like. The hypocrisy of it all ... that's what bothers me."

Jim, too, draws on an old-fashioned loyalty, a fundamental faith that his country is trying hard to be all that it aspires to. He grew up in suburban Philadelphia, a high school quarterback who went to Dartmouth, then to Stanford for an MBA.

His dad had only a high school education, but worked his way up from construction worker to business owner and taught his kids that no dreams were beyond reach.

Jim took that to heart. After college, he and two partners started a software company. Two years ago, he sold that firm and began looking for ways to spread the benefits of technology to underserved communities.

The '90s, he said, were "like one long spring break. I worked my tail off, but the economy was booming and we could coast along. Like a lot of people, I had blinders on." Then the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked, and the blinders dropped.

"That made me take a step back.... I realized that things weren't just what I thought, in terms of being hunky-dory for us. We had some serious challenges."

Now that the war is underway, "The most useful thing any of us can do is pray that it's over as quickly as possible," he said Thursday. "And as painlessly."

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