"There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." - President Ronald Reagan.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

G-FAN #86

G-FAN #86 Summary

This quarter, we have a "special guest summary"* of the new G-FAN #86 by Ryan Clark:

Godzilla & Friends III review by Ryan Clark (yours truely).

The Last Samurai interview with Hiroshi Fujioka by Brett Homenick.

Racing for Megalon interview with Yutaka Hayashi by Brett Homenick.

Cult Classic Commander interview with Robert Horton by Brett Homenick.

Godzilla 1998: A Second Look by Mike Bogue.

Lord Zedd Invades ACen by Brett Homenick and How I felt About ACen by Robert Axelrod. (Really enjoyed these artcles, being a Power Rangers fan.)

Monster Music article about French band Gojira.

Kaiju Singalong Time with original and translated lyrics to Miyarabi's Prayer and Get Mechagodzilla!

G-Fan Retro Review: Attack of the Crab Monsters by Mike Bogue.

3D Kaiju Fun concerning Monster Planet of Godzilla.

Centerfold of Gamera vs. Godzilla by John Belloti Jr.

Godzilla Appears In Northern California featuring a suit made by Gabe McIntosh.

Guilala's Godfather interview with Minoru Kawasaki by Jorg Buttgereit.

Tales of King Komodo: Episode 4 comic by Rouge & Tennant (if I read that right).

Kaiju Poetry Corner

A Wonderful Kaiju Weekend G-Fest review by Armand Vaquer and staff writers.

G-Fest 2008 Costume Parade Roundup by Paul Gavins.

My G-Fest XV Experience by Lyle Huckins.

The Show Must Go On! overview of the Biollante incedent at G-Fest by Jonathan Morris.

G-Fest Trivia Quiz 2008 questions and answers. G-Fest XVI registration form.

Godzilla vs. Rikao Yanagata book review by Jason Meininger.

Atami Castle by Armand Vaquer.

I should add, the Far East Monsters ad in the back of the magazine says, concerning their DAM Battlezone figures, "Order by Dec. 31!! After that, these babies are gone!!" I'm not sure if this means King Ghidorah or both that and Godzilla, but their prices are now reduced; I recommend grabbing these great figures while you can.


G-FAN is available at comic and specialty stores or by subscription. See you next quarter. Stay warm!

*Since I haven't received the issue yet to do my usual summary.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Apollo 8: 40 Years Ago

Above, the Earth as seen by the Apollo 8 astronauts in moon orbit.

It is hard to believe that forty years have passed since Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders were the first humans to leave Earth orbit and to travel to the moon in Apollo 8.

Their mission in December 1968 was to test the Apollo spacecraft's systems in achieving moon orbit, which was crucial for a manned moon landing. Originally, they were going to test the Lunar Module (LM) in Earth orbit, but production delays prevented that plan. So NASA sent them to the moon instead. They orbited the moon ten times in 20 hours. The live televised broadcast from the moon was highlighted by Borman's reading from Genesis. The rocket engine that would break Apollo 8 from moon orbit and sending it back to earth was fired on Christmas Day.

1968 was a year of turmoil. It was marked by bitter civil unrest over the Viet Nam War, the assassinations of Sen. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and the Tet Offensive, which led to President Lyndon Johnson to not seek re-election. The Apollo 8 mission was the only inspiring event that year.

It is hard to believe that 40 years have passed since Apollo 8.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Above, a shot taken at the Mt. Aso Volcano National Park in Kyushu, Japan in 2007.

For some people, years start out great and end not-so-great. For me, 2008 was the opposite. I started the year on unemployment. However, it is ending on a good note.

I am now working two jobs. At least things a looking better for me financially. I am now contemplating a return trip to Japan next year. That's provided that the money is still flowing in and the currency exchange rates improve. It is now at 1.00 USD = 90.8772 JPY, which is not too hot! Hopefully, the rate of exchange between the dollar and the yen will improve.

As for 2008's highlights, well, they've been few and far between. Each of my presidential candidates in the primaries fell by the wayside. The end result of the November general election was a disappointment, but I'll still remain optimistic.

In July, thanks to J. D. Lees, head honcho of G-FAN magazine and G-FEST, I was able to go to G-FEST XV in Chicago and had a good time. It was great to see the original Godzilla, Haruo Nakajima, get the Mangled Skyscraper Award and to see many friends in fandom. It was also great to meet Don Frye, from Godzilla Final Wars.

It was also great to see G-FAN named among the Chicago Tribune's "Our Fifty Favorite Magazines" list for 2008. It shows that what we do is appreciated and it gives all contributors a nice pat-on-the-back.

Currently, J. D. is doing the layouts for the Travel Guide To Kaiju Japan. It was a project that I started in February and completed in April during my idle days. We hope to get it completed long before G-FEST XVI so we can have it available there.

I hope that we can see the bottom of the current economic mess soon and start heading back upwards to more prosperous times.

Have a happy and safe holiday season and here's a toast to a bigger and better 2009!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fukuoka Tower

by Armand Vaquer

(Originally published in G-FAN #80)

Featured in 1994's Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla, Fukuoka Tower is the highest seaside tower in Japan. The Tower stands 234 meters tall and the observation room is at 123 meters above the ground and offers spectacular views of Fukuoka City and Hakata Bay. Fukuoka Tower is the symbol of Fukuoka City.

Fukuoka Tower was completed in March 1989 at a cost of 6 billion yen. It was designed by Nikken Sekki and the construction took 14 months. The Tower is designed to withstand wind gusts up to 63 m/s (about 140 mph.), but the strongest wind recorded so far was only 49 m/s. It is also designed to withstand a magnitude 7 earthquake and the strongest recorded earthquake so far has been a magnitude 6 in Fukuoka.

Although the above ground weight of Fukuoka Tower is 3,500 tons, the underground weight is 25,000 tons. This bottom-heavy construction provides the Tower with greater stability.

Fukuoka Tower, with a triangular cross-section, is covered with 8,000 half-mirrors that gives it the nickname of "Mirror Sail."

Above, a view of Fukuoka City and Hakata Bay from the observation room of Fukuoka Tower.

Besides the 123 meter observation room, it also has a cafe lounge (120m) and a lower observation room (116m). During different holidays and seasons, the Tower is illuminated in spectactular lighting at night. In July/August, the theme is the "Milky Way." For Christmas, the Tower has lights shaped like Christmas trees. For Valentine's Day, hearts illuminate the sides of the Tower.

The Tower staff apparently had no idea that Fukuoka Tower was featured in Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla until I told them. I joked that they nicely re-built the Tower after Godzilla knocked it over. This was met with wide-eyed blank stares. I then had to explain the movie and the situation involved to them. I guess their minds work too literally.

Admission to Fukuoka Tower is 800 yen for adults (I was able to obtain a discount card from my hotel which lowered the admission to 640 yen), 500 yen for students and 200 yen for children under 4 years old. For additional information on Fukuoka Tower, log onto www.fukuokatower.co.jp. If you go to Fukuoka City, make sure you visit Fukuoka Tower.

Friday, December 19, 2008

"Deep Throat" Dies

Weird things happen on occasion, and last night was another one.

I was reading David Frost's book on his interviews with former President Richard Nixon, I Gave Them A Sword, last night. There's a new movie starring Frank Langella as Nixon called Frost/Nixon and directed by Ron Howard, so I figured I'd re-read the Frost book before seeing the movie.

At about 10:30 last night, I heard the news report that Watergate's "Deep Throat" had passed away:

W. Mark Felt, the former FBI second-in-command who revealed himself as "Deep Throat" 30 years after he tipped off reporters to the Watergate scandal that toppled a president, has died. He was 95.

Here I was reading about Watergate last night and, lo and behold, one of its principal figures passed away. Talk about weird!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Walter Moore For Los Angeles Mayor

Since 2005, Los Angeles has had only a part-time mayor.

L.A. Weekly, a local Los Angeles newspaper conducted a study months ago and found that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has only conducted official city business an average of 11%. That's why he's called the "11% Mayor." Considering his hare-brained tax and housing plans, maybe 11% isn't so bad after all.

Villaraigosa has been a joke (a rather bad one) since his election. The topper was the disclosure that he had an affair with a Latina reporter, who was covering him for a local Spanish-language television station.

This year, instead of dealing with the city's problems, he spent much of his time out campaigning out of state for Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and currently serves as an "advisor" for President-elect Barack Obama's transition team.

Los Angeles can do better than Villraigosa. The only viable candidate for mayor is Walter Moore, a local attorney instrumental in Jamiel's Law. He has raised enough in campaign contributions to qualify for matching funds.

His website now is offering yard signs and bumper stickers. The election for Los Angeles Mayor is March 3, 2009.

For more information, go to the Walter Moore for Mayor website by clicking here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bailout Car Ad

I saw this car ad parody at a forum I belong to. It hits the nail right on the head!

This is what I call "truth in advertising!"

Saturday, December 13, 2008

G-FAN #86 Is En Route!

G-FAN #86 is en route! I was told tonight by J. D. Lees, editor & publisher of G-FAN magazine that issue number 86 is printed and out in the mail. So keep a watchful eye at your mailbox for the issue.

I received 2 photos of the original Godzilla suit actor Haruo Nakajima at the Toho Studios Godzilla statue with his Mangled Skyscraper Award. Those will go into issue 87 that will come out next Spring.

Once I receive #86, a summary of its contents will be posted. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 12, 2008

GOP Wrecks UAW Bailout

The U.S. Senate shot down the United Autoworkers bailout that is disguised as a bailout of the big three U.S. automakers, GM, Ford and Chrysler.

According to FoxNews.com:

GOP objections stalled the measure in the Senate Thursday night. Republicans put pressure on the powerful autoworkers union as they tried to squeeze out concessions in exchange for their support.

"This was just simply subterfuge on the part of the minority in the Republican Party who wanted to tear down any agreement that we came up with," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said at a press conference, declaring "the auto industry around the world is in peril."

Intense negotiations broke down over the union's refusal to meet GOP demands for wage cuts. Corker, the architect of the Republican counterproposal to the House-approved bill, told FOX News that negotiators were "just three words away from a deal."

Corker rejected the accusations, telling FOX News the union simply refused to offer a date by which they could be competitive with foreign automakers who have plants in the United States.

"I was stunned that they would walk away from a deal to put these companies on an incredible footing, a healthy footing for their employees for years to come," Corker said.

The senator complained that the UAW pay scale is "far higher" than at other plants in the United States, particularly those of foreign automakers.

In terms of hourly wages, the pay scales are similar. For instance, General Motors says the average UAW laborer makes $29.78, while Toyota says it pays about $30 per hour.

The difference is in the benefits, however. GM's hourly labor costs (including pensions and health care) total $69 for active workers. Toyota's total about $48 per hour at older U.S. plants.

This does not even mention the benefits that thousands of retired autoworkers are receiving. The UAW is unwilling to make any cuts until 2011. Sorry, but if this really were a crisis, then they should be willing to make cuts now.

Hugh Hewitt wrote in today's Townhall.com blog:

Now Senator Reid has announced he's giving up and going home --one of those moves that makes me wonder about the whole premise of the exercise. If a real crisis is at hand, does the Congress go home for a month?

Since no input by the GOP was allowed by the Democrat majority, so small wonder the Republicans in the Senate voted against this bailout of the UAW.

It is about time the GOP showed some backbone. If the Democrats continue to refuse to negotiate for terms favored by the Republicans, then this bailout is good as dead.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hello, Hollywood! I Have Your Gov. Blagojevich!

Hello, Hollywood! I Have Your Gov. Blagojevich!

When the news hit about Gov. Rod Blagojevich's attempt to sell President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat in a "pay to play" scheme, I noticed that he bore a strong resemblance to a friend of mine, actor Steven Kirk.

Here's a photo of Steve Kirk and his family:

And here's a photo of Blagojevich with Barack Obama:

Many others who know Steve Kirk also noticed the resemblance: Noticed Something Funny.

Hello, Hollywood! If a studio decides to make a movie on Gov. Blagojevich, I strongly urge you to cast Steven Kirk as the Governor!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

2008: Not A Good Year For Democrat Governors

2008 is turning out not to be a good year for Democrat governors.

First, we had the scandal involving New York Governor Eliot Spitzer (below), who was found to be a customer of a prostitution ring.

Now we have a new scandal involving Illinios Governor Rod Blagojevich (below). Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday, accused of scheming to enrich himself by selling Obama's vacant Senate seat. The governor has authority to appoint Senate replacements.

This is called a "pay to play" scheme in which an appointment to an office is sold to the highest bidder.

Obama has called for Blagojevich's resignation, but he needs to go further in this matter as it raises a lot of questions about Obama and his staff's associations. What did they know and when did they know it?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Actress Nina Foch, 1924 - 2008

1924 - 2008
Actress and drama teacher Nina Foch has passed away.

The Los Angeles Times reported:

Nina Foch, a veteran actress from Hollywood's film noir era of the 1940s who became a widely respected acting coach and teacher of directors, died Friday at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. She was 84.

The cause was complications of long-term myelodysplasia, a blood disorder, according to her son, Dr. Dirk De Brito.

Foch became ill Thursday while teaching "Directing the Actor," a popular course at USC's School of Cinematic Arts, where she taught for 40 years. She also offered the class for years at the American Film Institute.

Her students have included a number of accomplished directors, including Randal Kleiser, Amy Heckerling, Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz.

I mostly remember her as Nicky in Return of the Vampire in which she co-starred with Bela Lugosi in 1943 for Columbia Pictures.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Forrest J. Ackerman, 1916 -2008

Forrest J. Ackerman, known to many fans of science-fiction and horror, died last night of heart failure. He was 92.

Ackerman, who knew Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr, Vincent Price and Bela Lugosi, was the former editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland and was the one who coined the term, "sci-fi." He was also a literary agent and he discovered his lifelong friend, Ray Bradbury.

He is considered to be the "Godfather" of science-fiction and horror fandom. Although slowed due to the effects of a stroke, Ackerman was still sharp and just as enthusiastic over the sci-fi and horror genres as a twelve-year-old. It was simply a case of a willing mind betrayed by a aging body.

"Uncle Forry" may be gone, but whenever you watch a science-fiction or horror movie, he will be there.

Whenever you attend a sci-fi or horror convention, he will be there.

Whenever you read a science-fiction or horror novel, he will be there.

Whenever you read a sci-fi or horror magazine, he will be there.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tokyo Tower

Text and photos by Armand Vaquer

(Originally published in G-FAN #78.)

Category: Travel

In celebration of the 50th birthday of Tokyo Tower this month on December 23, the Tower is given the spotlight.

Japan's Tokyo Tower has been featured in several kaiju films over the past 46 years, the first being in Mothra (1961). The Tower was also featured in King Kong Escapes (1967) in which Kong and Mechani-Kong do battle while climbing it. It was also featured in Gammera The Invincible (Daikaiju Gamera) in 1965.

Above, Tokyo Tower from Sumida River.

The Tower was blasted in 1995 by Gamera in Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe and it became a nest for Gyaos in the same film. It was also blasted by Godzilla in Godzilla x Mothra x Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003) and it appeared as a ruin in 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars.

Tokyo Tower was modeled after the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. The Tokyo Tower is 333 meters high. Since 1958, it has been the world's tallest self-supporting iron tower. The Eiffel Tower is only 320 meters tall. The Tokyo Tower weighs 4000 tons, which is much lighter than the Eiffel tower, which weighs in at 7000 tons. The Tower is painted in white and orange to meet Japan's aviation safety regulations. The Tokyo Tower broadcasts 14 signals for radio and television. It also has a lightning rod on the top.

Visitors can take an elevator to an observatory level which provides excellent views of the city, which is what 60 G-fans did in August 2004 during G-TOUR. There's a gift shop on the observation level and more gift shops can be found on the ground floor.

Above, Shinjuku as seen from Tokyo Tower's observation level.

The observation level has several telescopes available for use by visitors. Visitors can ascend to the main observatory at 150 meters and the special observatory at 250 meters to get a bird's eye view of Tokyo. Under good weather conditions, Mt. Fuji can be seen in the distance. A ride to the top floor, the special observatory, costs roughly ¥1500 per adult.

An aquarium, wax museum and several more attractions can be found on the ground floors of the Tower. Separate entrance fees apply.

An even taller tower is now being planned for Tokyo.

When in Tokyo, a visit to Tokyo Tower is a must.

Above, a morning moon and Tokyo Tower.

Monday, December 1, 2008

It's Official: We're In A Recession! Duh!

As if we didn't know this already, but it is now official: We're in a recession! Well, duh!

From FoxBusiness.com:

The National Bureau of Economic Research declared Monday that the U.S. has been in a recession since last December.

While it may now be official, the announcement hardly came as news to economists and consumers.

“We’ve been saying this since February or March,” said Gus Faucher, director of macroeconomics at Moody’s Economy.com. “It’s been pretty obvious for a while.”

Faucher cited as evidence payroll employment numbers that have been falling every month since January. Private sector employment payroll figures have declined every month since last December, he added.

These figures have been indicating for months “that firms are cutting back and that they are producing less,” said Faucher.

A recession is traditionally defined as two consecutive quarters of economic contraction.

The NBER, a private group of leading economists, also cited declining employment numbers as a key indicator that the recession began nearly a year ago.

Hell, I could have told you that. I was laid off last November and found that insurance claims work job offerings have been sparse at best. I did land a position as an independent contractor for an independent adjusting company last February, but claim assignments have been few and far between. Luckily, I maintained my security permits that I obtained years ago when I worked in armed private patrol. I was able to get a job working as a field supervisor for a company who contracts with Los Angeles County.

I have landed a job this week with another independent adjusting company. This one looks to be more promising. If things work out as I hope, I will just concentrate on that.

It is not surprising that insurance claims positions are sparse, as AIG problems has shown, insurance carriers are very much tied to the financial markets through investments. Since the mortgage meltdown, insurers have had a tough time because of bad investments, and by people cutting back on buying insurance. We can thank Sen. Chris Dodd, Rep. Barney Frank and others for this mess.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? I hope so, but right now I don't see it. Things may get worse before it gets better. But putting the same people in charge of the economy who denied problems with Countrywide, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, et al is not boosting my confidence level any.

ADDENDUM: See How The Democrats Created The Financial Crisis by Kevin Hassett at Bloomberg.com.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ka-boom! Endeavour Lands In California

Ka-boom! Plus a little shaking and rattling hit my placid residence today at around 1:20 PM.

I was taking an afternoon siesta when the space shuttle Endeavour came to California for a 1:25 PM landing at Edwards Air Force Base. I've experienced the sonic booms set off by returning shuttles before (sometimes twin sonic booms) as they glide in at supersonic speeds to land at Edwards.

When I heard that Endeavour was diverted to California for its return from space (due to poor weather conditions at Cape Canaveral), I figured that we may get the sonic booms today (it depends upon the glide path). I was right.

I've gone to Edwards Air Force Base for two shuttle landings (one by Columbia in July 1982 and one by Endeavour in 1992) and those are experiences that fans of the U.S. Space Program should experience. I highly recommend it!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

California's Sunset

California is in trouble, politically and economically. This is not a recent development, but the problem has gotten worse since Gray Davis was recalled as governor.

Joel Kotkin takes a look at what caused the "Sundown For California." In it, he writes:

Davis’s apparent inability to gain control of the looming budget crisis opened the door to his 2003 recall and the election of a Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The former bodybuilder and action hero promised to clean up “the mess” in California. He took aim at what he derided as the “girlie men” in the legislature, promising to get the state’s affairs in order. It was not to be. After a bruising defeat by liberal interest groups over a series of propositions, the onetime tough guy embraced what he called “bipartisanship.” The media, particularly on the national level, cooed, but in reality the governor simply ceded initiative to the very “girlie men”—the left-leaning state legislators—that he formerly promised to rein in.

Under Schwarzenegger, notes former GOP Assemblyman Keith Richman, the state budget actually grew even faster—10 percent annually as opposed to 7 percent—than under his spendthrift Democratic predecessor, Gray Davis.

Dan Walters, the dean of California political reporters, argues that Schwarzenegger never bothered to learn the basics of state governance. As a result, state spending, particularly on state employees and their pensions, continued with no notion that another budget crisis was looming.

During Brown’s watch, and even despite his occasional opposition, the Democratic Party came increasingly under the sway of public employees, trial lawyers, and narrow interest activist groups. Their ability to raise money and impose their political will often outweighed that of even the most powerful business interests.

The full bill for this transformation would eventually be paid not by Brown, but by his former chief of staff, Gray Davis. Becoming governor in 1998, Davis became the prisoner of the special interest groups with whom his predecessors, Deukmejian and Wilson, had struggled.

By then, California’s shift to the Democrats had become inexorable and, with the fading of a GOP counterweight, influence within the party flowed to its more radical factions further to the political left. As a result, the state moved decisively away from the economic growth focus of Pat Brown. It seemed determined to wage war against its own economy. As pet social programs, entitlements, and state employee pensions soared, infrastructure spending—the hallmark of the Pat Brown regime and once 20 percent of the state budget—shrank to less than 3 percent.

The educational system, closely aligned with the Democrats in the legislature, accelerated its secular decline. Once full of highly skilled workers, California has become increasingly less so. For example, California ranks second in the percentage of its 65-year-olds holding an associate degree or higher and fifth in those with a bachelor’s degree. But when you look at the 25-to-34 age group, those rankings fade to 30th and 24th.

Instead of reversing these trends, the state legislature decided to spend its money on public employees and impose ever more regulatory burdens on business. Davis, a clever and experienced public servant, understood this but could not fight the zealots in his own party. When the state’s revenues shrank after the high-tech bust in 2000, he appeared to be their complete captive. Perhaps the most telling example of the misplaced priorities of the state’s majority party took place amid the state budget crisis when legislators, facing an imminent fiscal disaster, took time to debate legislation about providing more protections for transgender Californians.

On the political side, things are looking up as Proposition 11 was passed by the voters this month that will remove the broken system of gerrymandered legislative districts. That is, unless some liberal court decides to undermine the will of the people again (which is not unusual, as the events that led to Prop. 8 showed). If allowed to stand as written, legislative (state assembly and state senate) districts could be competitive enough for Republicans to mount real challenges to the entrenched Democrats. Maybe we're seeing the beginning of the end of one-party rule in the state.

If you are a citizen of California, or are interested in what's going on in the Golden State, you should read the full article.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Batman To Be Killed By Father

Here we go again! Batman, a.k.a. Bruce Wayne, is killed by a man claiming to be his late father, Thomas Wayne.

Thomas Wayne, along with his wife Martha, were gunned down by a small-time hood named Joe Chill in the comic books, but here it seems that Wayne faked his own death.

According to an article in Fox News.com:

The world's most famous comic book hero has breathed his last Bat breath.

Bruce Wayne — who by night is Batman — gets murdered by a man claiming to be the father he thought was dead.

In a highly controversial new comic book storyline, Bruce, who first appeared in 1939, is killed by Simon Hurt — the leader of the shady Black Glove organization.

Simon claims he is really Dr Thomas Wayne, saying he faked his own passing when Bruce was a child.

The superhero dies when he tries to stop his foe escaping by helicopter in the new comic Batman R.I.P.

Back in 1993, Superman was killed off in an epic battle with Doomsday. Recently, Captain America was killed by an assassin. Batman (Bruce Wayne) had his back broken by Bane in the "Knightfall" story line in the 1990s. Now Batman is to be killed off. It seems that DC Comics doesn't have much respect for their cash cow. Or do they? The "Death of Superman" story line boosted sales of the Superman line of comics, so DC is hoping that killing Batman will do the same trick. I really doubt that DC would kill a character whose most recent movie, The Dark Knight, was a boxoffice hit.

In the comics, a death is rarely ever permanent. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

To read the full article, go here.

UPDATE (11/29/08): According to ScreenIndia.com, DC Comics is denying that Batman is to be killed off and that the news reports have the story line "blown out of proportion." See the link for details.

Ginza Crossing

by Armand Vaquer

Category: Travel

(Originally published in G-FAN #77.)

Above, an aerial view of Ginza circa 1950.

I've always been fascinated by photographs of movie locations and comparing how they looked at the time of filming and how they look in present day.

Although Ginza wasn't actually a movie location in Godzilla (1954), except as a detailed minature, the craftsmen at Toho faithfully recreated Ginza crossing well enough to give viewers an idea on how the district looked in 1954.

I recently discovered a website for the 39th Bomb Group (VH) (http://39th.org/39th/history/damagephotos/ginza.htm) that contained photographs of the World War II bombing damage to the Ginza district of Tokyo, Japan and a website devoted to Old Tokyo (http://www.oldtokyo.com/) Old Tokyo also contains vintage photos of the Ginza district, before and after World War II.

You will note (in the website) that one of the accompanying photographs of Ginza Crossing shows extensive damage to the district from the Allied firebombing, but the Wako Building survived (only to be demolished by Godzilla in 1954). The original building, the Hattori Building, stood at the Ginza Crossing location until it was destroyed by the 1923 Kanto earthquake. The Hattori was noted for its prominent clock tower. The new Wako Building also included a clock tower as a bow to the old building. It was completed in 1932.

Above, the Wako Dept. Store in 2001.

Across the street from the Wako Building, stood (and stands today) the Mitsukoshi department store. The Mitsukoshi was one of the first Western-style department stores in Japan. It sustained heavy bomb damage in World War II, but has been rebuilt and is still a thriving department store.

Above, Ginza Crossing during the occupation in 1945. The Mitsukoshi Dept. store on the right already had repairs started.

Two department stores, the Wako and Matsuya, were requisitioned for use by Allied forces during the course of the occupation (1945-1952).

Today, Ginza is a thriving and upscale district with many high-end department stores. According to the Old Tokyo website, "Ginza Crossing is still considered to be Tokyo's prime real estate, with prices fetching into the tens of thousands of dollars per square meter!" This was also mentioned by our tour guides during 2004's G-TOUR as we were bused through the district.

Above, Ginza Crossing in 2006.

Besides the Wako and Mitsukoshi Department stores, Ginza also has the Takashimaya, Seibu, Daimaru, Matsuzakaya, Tobu, Odakyu , Tokyu and Printemps Department stores. Apple Computers also has a big store in Ginza.

Hopefully, you enjoyed this look at one of the focal points in world and kaiju history.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Godzilla's Lawyers Fight Back

An interesting article on the "army of lawyers" that Toho Co., Ltd. dispatches to protect their rights to the Godzilla character has been posted.

The article reads in part:

It's been 54 years since an atomic blast awakened the slumbering reptilian monster Godzilla, and the fire-breathing, fin-tailed beast has been terrorizing downtown Tokyo ever since — in more than two dozen movies, on television and in comics and cartoons.

But Godzilla is a pussycat compared to the coterie of lawyers and investigators in Los Angeles and Japan who aggressively protect the radioactive behemoth from anyone who dares to appropriate his lizardly image for profit.

Hurling hundreds of lawsuits and takedown notices like so many fireballs, Godzilla's owner — Toho Co. Ltd — has roasted Hollywood studios, automakers, toy manufacturers, rock bands, book publishers, national food chains, record labels, bloggers, wineries and just about anybody seen as capitalizing on the monster's unique features, name or theme music. When it comes to policing trademarks and enforcing copyrights in the United States, intellectual property attorneys say Tokyo-based Toho is easily a match for Walt Disney, Fox and Lucasfilm in terms of courthouse zeal.

To read the full article, go here.

G-FAN magazine, which I am a contributing writer for, is permitted to use Godzilla's image under the fair use law.

The fair use law is as follows:


"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

1 the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2 the nature of the copyrighted work;
3 the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4 the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."

Additionally, G-FAN (i.e., Daikaiju Enterprises, Ltd.) and Toho has an informal, unofficial relationship in which each side cooperates with the other. I have conducted G-FAN and G-FEST business with Toho although Toho's official policy is not to recognize fan organizations, activities or publications. This has been the case for the past several years. Recently, I arranged to have a letter of congratulations from Toho Pictures, Inc. president Shogo Tomiyama to be sent to Haruo Nakajima for his receiving the Mangled Skyscraper Award. G-FEST rents films from Toho annually for screenings at the convention.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Media Bias For Obama Admitted

Above, my favorite political cartoon on 2008 media bias.

Not that it comes to any surprise to those who closely followed the 2008 presidential campaign, but Time Magazine's Mark Halperin admits that the media's coverage of Barack Obama was clearly biased in Obama's favor.

Cover-ups of Obama's radical and corrupt associations, hit pieces against Cindy McCain and puff pieces for Michelle Obama are just the tip of the iceberg of media bias.

Newsmax.com reports:

The mainstream media's support for Barack Obama's presidential campaign was so biased that even major insiders are now admitting they were shocked by its depth and depravity.

Last week, Time magazine's Mark Halperin called the media's performance during the campaign simply "disgusting."

Halperin told a panel of media analysts at the Politico/USC conference on the 2008 election, "It's the most disgusting failure of people in our business since the Iraq war."

He added, "It was extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage."

Small wonder Obama won the election. Besides reneging on his pledge to take public financing, Obama outspent John McCain by 2 to 1. That, plus the media's biased reporting, the only way Obama would have lost the election was if he made a major gaffe.

In an earlier blog, I noted that 2008 would be known as the death of journalism. Now we are getting confirmation of this. The media will never be trusted again by Republicans and conservatives.

To read the full article, go here.

Panic In The Sky: Meteor Lights Up Canada

The Associated Press is reporting that a large meteor lit up the Canadian sky last Friday night:

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan (AP) - Scientists say they're searching for remnants of a meteor that brilliantly lit up the sky before seemingly falling to earth in western Canada.

University of Calgary planetary scientist Alan Hildebrand called it one of the largest meteors visible in the country in the last decade.

Widely broadcast video images showed what appeared to be a speeding fireball Thursday night over Saskatoon that became larger and brighter before disappearing as it neared the ground.

Hildebrand said Friday that he received about 300 email reports from witnesses.

"It would be something like a billion-watt light bulb," said Hildebrand, who also co-ordinates meteor sightings with the Canadian Space Agency.

Tammy Evans was wakened by her 10-year-old daughter who ran into the bedroom.

"She said there was a flash of light, the house shook twice and it sounded like dinosaurs were walking," Evans said.

Hildebrand suspects it broke up into pieces and he plans to investigate around Macklin, Saskatchewan near the Alberta border.

These photos were taken by a police car's dash camera:

My, that's a big one!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tax Crazy Gov. Schwarzenegger

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, was elected in an election when Gray Davis was recalled from office for budget and tax problems.

Since then, Schwarzenegger has converted from an anti-tax crusader and now is a full-fledged tax & spender.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

State lawmakers began moving toward a deal this week to close California's deficit with the help of steeper car fees that would cost many drivers hundreds of dollars annually, according to people involved in budget talks.

Under the plan, GOP lawmakers -- most of whom have signed anti-tax pledges -- would vote to triple the vehicle license fee that owners pay when they register their cars every year in exchange for a ballot measure that would impose rigid limits on future state spending. Motorists' annual license fees would rise from 0.65% of the value of their vehicles to 2%. For a car or truck valued at $25,000, the increase would be $336.

The higher fees would generate $6 billion annually, helping to fill a budget gap that is projected to reach nearly $28 billion over the next year and a half.

The proposal is being championed by incoming state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). Democrats and advocates for the poor have opposed strict state spending limits, saying they would cripple government services.

Steinberg may be gambling that voters would reject the limits, as they have in the past.

"We don't comment on the specifics of negotiations," said Steinberg spokesman Jim Evans, "but this much is clear: The state is $28 billion in the red and we need new revenue."

The plan would create a political quandary for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has already proposed a flat $12 increase in annual car fees.

The last governor to triple the license fee was his predecessor, Gray Davis. Voter anger soared, and the increase played a large role in Davis' removal from office. Schwarzenegger crusaded against the hike throughout the recall campaign, and in his first act in office he cut the fee -- the "car tax," as he and some others call it -- back to its current rate.

But the governor has been adamant that the state needs new revenue. Earlier this month, he proposed closing the deficit with billions of dollars in new taxes, including a 1.5-cent sales tax increase.

Another tax scheme is to tack on a 9% "pet tax" to veterinary bills.

According to the Los Angeles Pet Examiner website:

Potentially just days from now, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will be moving to tax veterinary services for your pets.

According to the Governor’s website, his new budget proposal would mean “[e]ffective February 1, 2009, the sales and use tax rate will be applied to appliance and furniture repair, vehicle repair, golf, and veterinarian services. Effective March 1, 2009, the sales and use tax rate will be applied to amusement parks and sporting events.”

While many would agree that you could fairly classify golf, amusement parks, and even sporting events as, if not luxury items, at least optional ones, how can one possibly be so callous as to suggest that veterinary services belong in the same category as golf?

Frankly, Governor Schwarzenegger is incentivizing animal neglect.

I agree. With the country in a recession, now is not the time to be taxing people to death when they are struggling to make ends meet. Concerned Californians should contact the Governor's office, their state senator and assembly member to demand spending cuts, not more taxes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Osaka Castle

by Armand Vaquer

Category: Travel

(Originally Published in G-FAN #79)

In 1955, the first kaiju battle took place in Godzilla Raids Again (a.k.a. Gigantis the Fire Monster and Gojira No Gyakushu (Godzilla's Counterattack)) between Godzilla and Angilas (Anguirus). To capitalize on the success of Godzilla (1954), this sequel was rushed out to the theaters on April 24.

The main battle between Godzilla and Angilas took place in the city of Osaka that concluded with a fatal bite to Angilas's throat atop the ruins of the just-destroyed Osaka Castle. Angilas is finished off by Godzilla's radioactive breath after falling into the Okawa River.

The Toho miniature craftsmen faithfully recreated the Castle in miniature. Although that miniature was destroyed during the battle, the real Osaka Castle still stands today as a tourist attraction. On the 8th floor observation level of the Castle, one can get excellent panoramic views of the the city of Osaka, including Osaka Business Park which includes the Twin 21 towers attacked by Godzilla in Godzilla vs. Biollante.

Construction on Osaka Castle (Osakajo) started in 1583 on the former site of the Ishiyama Honganji Temple, which had been destroyed by Oda Nobunaga thirteen years previously. Toyotomi Hideyoshi intended the castle to become the center of a new, unified Japan under Toyotomi rule.

However, several years after Hideyoshi's death in 1615, Tokugawa troops attacked and destroyed the castle and terminated the Toyotomi lineage. Osaka Castle was then rebuilt by Tokugawa Hidetada in the 1620s. However, the main tower was fated to be struck by lightning and burnt down in 1665.

In 1931, the present ferro-concrete reconstruction of the castle was built. Bombing raids in 1945 caused extensive damage to the Castle. The Castle was given an extensive renovation in 1995-1997, giving it new lustre.

Above, Osaka Castle under construction in 1931.

The Castle now houses a museum that documents Toyotomi Hideyoshi's life and the history of the castle. It contains many interactive exhibits for visitors. G-TOUR visited Osaka in the summer of 2004. On the Castle grounds is a time capsule from Expo '70.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Recession Hits Japan

During normal times, I would make an annual trek to Japan for vacationing, visiting friends and researching material for future G-FAN daikaiju eiga articles.

Unfortunately, these aren't normal times.

Last November, I was laid off due to the mortgage meltdown. I am working, but it is at half the salary I normally make. At least I am keeping my head above water until things finally turn around.

As I said, I normally would be headed to Japan for fun and frolic. But even if I were in a normal financial position, I doubt that I would be going to Japan at this time.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting:

Japan has slipped into recession for the first time since 2001, joining Europe in a global economic downturn, as Japanese companies cut spending amid weak exports and consumer demand failed to lift the world's second-largest economy.

Japan's gross domestic product contracted 0.1% in the July-September period compared with the previous quarter, or 0.4% on an annualized basis, according to preliminary data released Monday. That followed a revised 0.9% contraction in GDP, or an annualized 3.7% in the second quarter.

And Reuters reports:

TOKYO, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Japan's economy logged a second straight quarterly contraction in the third quarter as sky-high commodity prices hurt the corporate sector, which had supported the longest recovery of the world's second-largest economy.

The third quarter reading sent Japan into recession for the first time in seven years, under the most commonly used definition of a recession as two consecutive quarters of contraction.

That's bad enough, but the main factor to consider before making a trip now to Japan is the current rate of exchange. Last year, I was able to get around 116 yen per dollar. Right now, the dollar is very weak against the yen and the current exchange rate is 1 USD = 96.7900 JPY. This means that your dollar would not have the purchasing power that it had a year ago. (This is from the XE Exchange website.)

This also means that Japanese vacationers would get more dollars per yen if they should come visit the United States.

So, unless you have the means and just have to make a trip to Japan, it is probably best to wait out this economic downturn until the exchange rate and the U.S. and Japan's economies are on the upswing again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hendrix Drummer Mitch Mitchell Dies

Mitch Mitchell, the drummer of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, was found dead in his Portland, Oregon hotel room FoxNews.com is reporting:

PORTLAND, Ore. — Mitch Mitchell, drummer for the legendary Jimi Hendrix Experience of the 1960s and the group's last surviving member, was found dead in his hotel room early Wednesday. He was 61.

Mitchell was a powerful force on the Hendrix band's 1967 debut album "Are You Experienced?" as well as the trio's albums "Electric Ladyland" and "Axis: Bold As Love." He had an explosive drumming style that can be heard in hard-charging songs such as "Fire" and "Manic Depression."

The Englishman had been drumming for the Experience Hendrix Tour, which performed Friday in Portland. It was the last stop on the West Coast part of the tour.

Hendrix died in 1970. Bass player Noel Redding died in 2003.

An employee at Portland's Benson Hotel called police after discovering Mitchell's body.

Erin Patrick, a deputy medical examiner, said Mitchell apparently died of natural causes. An autopsy was planned.

"He was a wonderful man, a brilliant musician and a true friend," said Janie Hendrix, chief executive of the Experience Hendrix Tour and Jimi Hendrix' stepsister. "His role in shaping the sound of the Jimi Hendrix Experience cannot be underestimated."

Bob Merlis, a spokesman for the tour, said Mitchell had stayed in Portland for a four-day vacation and planned to leave Wednesday.

"It was a devastating surprise," Merlis said. "Nobody drummed like he did."

He said he saw Mitchell perform two weeks ago in Los Angeles, and the drummer appeared to be healthy and upbeat.

Merlis said the tour was designed to bring together veteran musicians who had known Hendrix — like Mitchell — and younger artists, such as Grammy-nominated winner Jonny Lang, who have been influenced by him.

The article is in error on one fact, bassist Billy Cox replaced Noel Redding in 1969 in the Experience, so that makes him the sole surviving Experience member. Buddy Miles, who drummed in Hendrix's Band of Gypsies, passed away last year in Texas. Mitchell was the last surviving original member of the Experience.

Above, Noel Redding, Jimi Hendrix and Mitch Mitchell of
 the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the height of their popularity.

Mitchell was one hell of a drummer and he will be missed.

UPDATE (11/15/08): The Press Association reports that Mitchell died of natural causes in his sleep.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gamera The Brave Box Art

The box art for Gamera The Brave (2006) has been revealed. The two-disc DVD will be available on December 30. It is being relased by Media Blasters.

For ordering information, go to CD Universe.

Obama Campaign May Escape Fundraising Audit

President-elect Barack Obama may escape scrutiny over his campaign's questionable fundraising practices. It has been reported that an embarrassing audit of the campaign's books and records is "unlikely."

If you feel that the Federal Elections Commission should investigate and audit the Obama campaign's fundraising operations, you can contact the FEC at:

Federal Election Commission
999 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20463

(800) 424-9530
In Washington: (202) 694-1000

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

GOP Congressman Warns of Obama Dictatorship

A Republican congressman warns of a possible Obama Marxist dictatorship.

FoxNews.com reported:

WASHINGTON -- A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist or fascist dictatorship.

"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may -- may not, I hope not -- but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."

Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.

"That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did," Broun said. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."

Obama's comments about a national security force came during a speech in Colorado about building a new civil service corps. Among other things, he called for expanding the nation's foreign service and doubling the size of the Peace Corps "to renew our diplomacy."

"We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set," Obama said in July. "We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

Broun said he also believes Obama likely will move to ban gun ownership if he does build a national police force.

Obama has said he respects the Second Amendment right to bear arms and favors "common sense" gun laws. Gun rights advocates interpret that as meaning he'll at least enact curbs on ownership of assault weapons and concealed weapons. As an Illinois state lawmaker, Obama supported a ban on semiautomatic weapons and tighter restrictions on firearms generally.

"We can't be lulled into complacency," Broun said. "You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I'm not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I'm saying is there is the potential."

Obama's transition office did not respond immediately to Broun's remarks.

One has to note Obama's past associations with radicals, Marxists, New Party (socialist) and that communistic graphics have been used for Obama's campaign posters and a communist flag was waved in a crowd of Obama election night celebrants at the White House.

Other examples of Marxists who were elected and turned dictator include Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Argentina's Salvador Allende of the 1970s. An uprising led by the military in Argentina led to the downfall and death of Allende.

Perhaps this is why gun sales have increased in recent weeks?

Monday, November 10, 2008

All Hail King Barack!

Obama transition team co-chair Valerie Jarrett appeared on Meet The Press over the weekend and used a term that is alien to Americans.

Jarret told moderator Tom Brokaw that "given the daunting challenges that we face, it's important that President-elect Obama is prepared to really take power and begin to rule day one."

Rule?! What do they think Obama was elected as? Emperor? King? Lord?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Newt Gingrich For RNC Chairman

Newsmax.com is reporting that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is "ready, willing and able to serve as chairman of the Republican National Committee."

“If a majority of the RNC thought he was needed, he would accept that appointment,” Randy Evans, Gingrich’s close friend, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He fully appreciates the urgency of the moment. The RNC has to do some soul-searching and decide what level of change is necessary. If that answer is bold, energetic change led by someone who has done it before, then Newt would be a good choice.”

But Evans warned the Journal-Constitution that if the GOP is eying a shift toward the middle, “that isn’t Newt.”

Well, we just completed a wobbly "middle" campaign and look at what it got the Republican Party.

Gingrich masterminded the 1994 GOP landslide victory with the "Contract With America" that put the Republicans in control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years.

He would make a great choice as RNC Chairman as he is a great speaker, clear on the issues and has tremendous organizing abilities. He would bring a clear, conservative message to the GOP.

UPDATE (11/11/08): Drudge Report now is reporting that Gingrich is "not interested" in running for RNC Chairman.

Obama Bought The Election

Barack Obama bought the presidency. He outspent John McCain by a 3-to-1 margin. After stating his support for public financing of campaigns and telling the world that he would discuss campaign finance with McCain, he broke his word and opted out of the campaign finance system without discussing it with McCain as promised. He is the first presidential candidate to do so since the system began with the campaign of 1976 between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.

KCCI.com reports:

Obama, a first-term Illinois senator, attracted a flood of donations. He raised more than $600 million during his 18-month bid, shattering the previous record of $357 million that President George W. Bush raised in 2004. In September alone, the Obama campaign took in more than $150 million.

The war chest enabled Obama to advertise aggressively and create extensive campaign operations across the nation, even in states where Democrats have fared poorly for decades. Obama, whose general election spending was expected to top $300 million, capped his ad blitz a week before the election with a more than $3 million, 30-minute infomercial on major television networks.

Arizona Sen. John McCain chose to accept public financing for the general election, limiting his spending to $84 million.

Obama, who during the primary season promised to accept the public financing spending limit, later chose to opt out. He was the first major presidential candidate to forgo public money during the general election since 1976.

McCain and other critics said Obama's record spending shows that the campaign finance system is broken. The system, created in 1974 as part of post-Watergate government reform, was to level the playing field and limit the influence of rich, well-connected donors in presidential elections.

Obama and his supporters have countered that his fundraising has been a healthy expression of democracy. The campaign points out donations came from millions of Americans, who often gave small sums. In September, for example, the average donor gave $86, the campaign reported.

The Obama campaign took in money wherever they could get it. It has been reported that illegal foreign money was taken in. The safeguards of Obama's donation section of his website was disabled, thereby allowing questionable donors to pump in cash. People were finding unauthorized charges for the Obama campaign on their credit cards. The Obama campaign's fundraising could make Watergate pale in comparison for abuses, only I doubt that the Democrat-controlled Congress would bother to investigate their Messiah.

If the public campaign finance system is to work, it has to be made mandatory with no opting out. If this is not done, then the GOP has no choice but to permanently opt out. The GOP should not allow its candidate to be so outspent in the future. It is obscene to allow one candidate to outspend another by a 3-to-1 ratio.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Gun Sales Are Up

According to AOL News, gun sales have risen when it became almost a foregone conclusion that Barack Obama would be elected and Democrats will increase their numbers in Congress.

They report:

Like Smith, gun enthusiasts nationwide are stocking up on firearms out of fears that the combination of an Obama administration and a Democrat-dominated Congress will result in tough new gun laws.

"I think they're going to really try to crack down on guns and make it harder for people to try to purchase them," said Smith, 32, who taught all five of her children — ages 4 to 10 — to shoot because the family relies on game for food.
Last month, as an Obama win looked increasingly inevitable, there were more than 108,000 more background checks for gun purchases than in October 2007, a 15 percent increase. And they were up about 8 percent for the year as of Oct. 26, according to the FBI.

No data was available for gun purchases this week, but gun shops from suburban Virginia to the Rockies report record sales since Tuesday's election.

Maybe it would be a good idea to buy guns and ammo now, while you still have the chance.

Where Are You Senator McCain?

Gov. Sarah Palin denounced the "unnamed McCain campaign sources" as being "unfair" and "cowardly" over the attacks published after the campaign ended in defeat.

From the Associated Press:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is striking back at critics of the high-priced wardrobe she wore as the Republican vice presidential candidate.

As she returned to the governor's office in Anchorage on Friday, Palin said all she ever asked for was "a Diet Dr. Pepper once in a while."

Palin says the expensive outfits were purchased by the Republican National Committee and they belong to the committee.

She called her critics cowardly for speaking to reporters about her anonymously.

Republican Party lawyers are still trying to determine exactly what clothing was purchased for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, what was returned and what has become of the rest.

This matter has festered since Wednesday and John McCain has yet to make a statement denouncing these attacks. I Googled around and there was nothing indicating that McCain has spoken out about these attacks. Where are you, Senator?

UPDATE (11/12/08):

John McCain appeared last night on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Newsmax reports:

LOS ANGELES — John McCain said Tuesday that Sarah Palin did not damage his presidential bid, and he dismissed as typical campaign sniping anonymous criticism aimed at her following their crushing defeat.

"I'm so proud of her and I'm very grateful she agreed to run with me. She inspired people, she still does," McCain told Jay Leno during an "Tonight Show" interview taped for broadcast Tuesday night. "I couldn't be happier with Sarah Palin."

Asked by Leno about griping about Palin from unidentified McCain operatives in the days following the election, the Arizona senator said, "These things happen in campaigns.

"I think I have at least a thousand, quote, top advisers," he scoffed. "A top adviser said? I've never even heard of ... a top adviser or high-ranking Republican official."

Rahm Emanuel In Freddie Mac During Scandal

Chief of Staff desigate Rahm Emanuel was on the Board of Directors of Freddie Mac when the firm was hit by a scandal, it has been revealed.

According to ABCNews.com:

President-elect Barack Obama's newly appointed chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, served on the board of directors of the federal mortgage firm Freddie Mac at a time when scandal was brewing at the troubled agency and the board failed to spot "red flags," according to government reports reviewed by ABCNews.com.

President-elect Barack Obama's newly appointed chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, served on the board of directors of the federal mortgage firm Freddie Mac at a time when scandal was brewing at the troubled agency and the board failed to spot "red flags," according to government reports reviewed by ABCNews.com. According to a complaint later filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Freddie Mac, known formally as the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, misreported profits by billions of dollars in order to deceive investors between the years 2000 and 2002.

Emanuel was not named in the SEC complaint but the entire board was later accused by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) of having "failed in its duty to follow up on matters brought to its attention."

In a statement to ABCNews.com, a spokesperson said Emanuel served on the board for "13 months-a relatively short period of time."

Emanuel was appointed to the Board by Bill Clinton and served there until he resigned in May 2001 to run for Congress.

The Associated Press notes:

Clinton appointed Emanuel to mortgage giant Freddie Mac's board, a post that paid him at least $292,774 in director's fees, according to a financial disclosure report Emanuel filed in 2002 when he ran for Congress. Emanuel served on the board when Freddie Mac misstated its earnings by $5 billion for 2000-2002. When the problem was uncovered in 2003, three top Freddie Mac executives were forced out.

And the Wall Street Journal writes:

Mr. Obama's choice of Mr. Emanuel to lead his White House staff through the economic crisis symbolizes the awkward balancing act that Democrats will face as they reshape the financial industry that they have also cultivated for political support.

Mr. Emanuel earned $16.2 million in a two-year stint working in Chicago for investment-banking firm Wasserstein Perella & Co. He also served on the board of Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant that was nationalized this year in the financial crisis.

It is interesting that Barack Obama seems to surround himself with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae alumns. While Emanuel has not been charged with any wrongdoing, it certainly stinks that people associated (i.e., Jim Johnson, Jaime Gorelick, Frainklin Raines) with the failed two mortgage firms were a part of his campaign or now being selected to be a part of his administration.

It also underscores that the financial meltdown can be laid at the feet of the Democrats.

More Obama Hubris

At Barack Obama's press conference yesterday, he stood behind a podium with the above sign. My initial thought was that I don't remember a past president-elect with such signage. Then it struck me that the graphics are similar to the jettisoned "possum" "Great Seal of Obama" he briefly had back in the campaign.

The hubris of this man seems to have no limits! I guess he can't wait to have the real presidential seal to stand behind. All hail His Majesty King Barack The Spreader!

UPDATE (11/11/08):

Newsmax posts:

Barack Obama has created a stir by proclaiming that he heads “The Office of President-Elect” — an office that does not officially exist.

At his first news conference on Nov. 7, Obama stood at a podium bearing a sign that read: “Office of the President-Elect. Also, his Web site, Change.gov, bears the words “Office of the President-Elect” at the top of its home page.

Writer Larry Anderson referred to the “made-up little title” on the American Thinker Web site, and declared: “I nearly busted a gut ...

“Once again, [Obama] can’t wait to invest himself with the trappings of office.”

Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin wondered: “What other make-believe offices are they going to invent between now and Inauguration Day? I can’t ever recall in my lifetime any mention of such an office.”

Friday, November 7, 2008

Obama Takes Shot At Nancy Reagan At Press Conference

In his first press conference since his election, President-elect Barack Obama made a snarky remark at the expense of former First Lady Nancy Reagan.

Obama was asked if he had spoken with all living former presidents — Carter, Bush, Clinton, along with President Bush and made the remark at Mrs. Reagan's expense.

"I have spoken to all of them who are living," he says. "I didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about doing any séances," he said.

Former President Ronald Reagan died in June 2004 from complications of Alzheimer's Disease.

The remark by Obama was unnecessary, tactless, classless and totally uncalled for. He owes Mrs. Reagan an apology. Also, it was off the mark as Mrs. Reagan consulted with an astrologer following the assassination attempt on President Reagan in March 1981. Sen. Hillary Clinton admitted to trying to contact Eleanor Roosevelt in a seance.

Perhaps Obama should leave the jokes to the professionals.

UPDATE: Obama has since called Nancy Reagan and apologized.

Biden's Prediction Correct, Timing A Little Off

A few weeks ago in the campaign trail, Vice President-Elect Joe Biden warned that ("mark my words") within six months Barack Obama "would be tested" by an international crisis.

Well, not even six days passed since Obama's election and those challenges have already surfaced.

From the Daily Mail (U.K.):

The first of the challenges thrown at the President-elect, who received his first national security intelligence briefing yesterday, came from the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

He threatened to base warheads along the Polish border if Obama goes ahead with a Bush administration plan to create a missile shield in Eastern Europe.

Then Israel warned Obama last night that his claim that he was ready to open talks with Iran could be seen in the Middle East as a sign of weakness.

Furthermore, Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai demanded that Obama 'put an end to civilian casualties' by changing U.S. military tactics to avoid airstrikes in the war on the Taliban. He spoke out after seven wedding party guests were accidentally killed by an American airstrike.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was the first to lay down a challenge to America's new leader - by increasing tension in a stand-off reminiscent of the Cold War.
In a provocative speech from the Kremlin, he threatened to base warheads along the Polish border if Mr Obama goes forward with a Bush administration plan to create a missile shield in Eastern Europe.

Then Israel warned last night that the new U.S. Commander-in-Chief's campaign claim that he was ready to open talks with Iran could be seen in the Middle East as a sign of weakness.

After eight years of staunch support from President Bush, the Israelis are now watching Mr Obama closely - even though he does not take power until January - looking for indicators as to how he will handle the nuclear threat from Tehran.
'We live in a neighbourhood in which dialogue - in a situation where you have brought sanctions and you then shift to dialogue - is liable to be interpreted as weakness,' said Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni.

Asked if she supported any U.S. talks with Iran, she quickly said: 'The answer is no.'

Meanwhile, Obama was meeting with his advisors at his Chicago home on cabinet selections. Some pundits are already calling these meetings as "What do we do now?" meetings.

It appears that Biden was correct on Obama being challenged, but the timing was a little off.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Palin Attacks By McCain Hacks

As frequently happens after a losing campaign, blame finger-pointing by campaign staff has begun by McCain campaign aides. The target of their ire is Gov. Sarah Palin.

The Guardian (U.K.) posted this article:

Sarah Palin has returned to Alaska following her whirlwind 68-day exposure to the national political scene, but the controversy over her vice-presidential candidacy shows no sign of abating.

As the governor of Alaska stepped off a plane onto icy tarmac in Anchorage on Wednesday night, she faced fresh allegations over her behaviour on the campaign trail and renewed attacks about her lack of readiness for the White House. Much of the attacks were clearly emerging from disgruntled aides within the campaign of the Republican presidential candidate, John McCain.

The most piercing allegations concerned Palin's ignorance of foreign affairs, which were depicted to be even more extreme than already thought; and her spend-thrift actions in kitting herself and her family out with a wardrobe fit to appear before television cameras.

Fox News, a broadcast channel that until election day had been generally flattering in its coverage of the "Palin phenomenon", reported that aides were astonished when they learned she was unaware that Africa was not a country but a whole continent. She was also said to be unable to name the three states that belong to the North American Free Trade Agreement: the US, Mexico and Canada.

Unnamed McCain advisers, their ire no longer constrained by campaign discipline, complained that the Alaskan governor had been unco-operative. The New York Times reported the McCain circle was angry about her independent decision to talk directly to the French President, Nicholas Sarkozy, which then turned out to be a prank from a Canadian radio station.

She was also said to have resisted offers of help preparing for interviews with Katie Couric, which also proved to be highly damaging.

The most colourful new information concerned Palin's spending spree on the campaign trail. Newsweek reported that she ended up splurging far more than the $150,000 that was already known about; with up to $40,000 being lavished on her husband Todd.

A wealthy donor who had offered to foot the bill was shocked when he got the bill from such top-notch addresses as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, according to Newsweek. In a phrase that is likely to go down in US electoral folklore, one McCain aide characterized the episode to the magazine as: "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast."

Palin refused to address the bombardment of accusations directed at her. She said: "If they're an unnamed source, that says it all. I won't comment on anyone's gossip based on anonymous sources. That's kind of a small of a bitter type of person who anonymously would charge that I didn't know an answer to a question. So until I know who's talking about it, I won't have a comment on a false allegation."

She now faces a difficult few months rebuilding relations in Alaska, and fending off investigations against her over the so-called Troopergate affair in which she has been found guilty of breaching ethics guidelines in a dispute over the employment by the state of her former brother-in-law.

The Guardian apparently hasn't heard that Gov. Palin was already cleared days ago of any wrongdoing involving "Tasergate" (that they refer to as "Troopergate").

These hacks making the attacks (hey, that rhymes!) are nothing more than some moderates who are out trying to save their own skins so they can get future campaign work. The talk shows will dig further into this and if their names are found out, they will be outed. Once outed, their efforts in future campaign work will be more difficult. Nobody wants to hire liars and turncoats.

John McCain needs to speak out and denounce these attacks. Thus far, he hasn't.


From Fox News:

Palin spokesperson Meghan Stapleton released a written statement Friday calling the charges "unfortunate and, quite honestly, sickening."

"The accusations we are hearing and reading are not true and since we deny all these anonymous allegations, there is nothing specific to which we will respond," she wrote. "We have the highest regards for Senator John McCain. Governor Palin was honored to be chosen as McCain's running mate."

Newsweek also reported that Palin may have spent "tens of thousands" of dollars more on wardrobe expenses than the $150,000 that was reported in the days before Election Day. The money allegedly went toward clothes for her and her family from high-end stores, even though she was originally told to buy just three suits and hire a stylist for the Republican National Convention.

One aide called the spree "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast," according to the magazine. Palin also reportedly asked to speak at McCain's concession speech Tuesday, and was denied.

McCain adviser Nicole Wallace defended Palin on NBC's "Today Show" Friday morning, saying the Alaska governor "did nothing wrong."

"She is, perhaps, the most un-diva politician I've ever seen," she said. "The only thing I've ever seen her ask for is a diet soda."

Palin said right after the election that she's sorry if she cost McCain even "one vote."

But some are tired of what they say looks like scapegoating.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum told FOX News that McCain himself needs to come out and put a stop to the Palin criticism.

"She's the one that energized the base, she's the one that got the crowds out. ... She's the one that comes out of this without any scars and now they're trying to give her some," Santorum said. "John McCain should come out and say, 'This is ridiculous,' and set the record straight."

As of this writing, John McCain has not come out to refute the allegations.

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