"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.

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition
Get the ebook edition here! (Click image.)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Craig T. Nelson Is Mad As Hell

"Coach" Craig T. Nelson is hopping mad. He was on the Glenn Beck Show on the Fox News Channel May 28 and said this:

NELSON: No, we are a republic. And that means that we need to be represented. We're not being represented.

Listen, I'm not going to pay any more money. What these people are asking me to do —

BECK: You're seriously saying you won't?

NELSON: No, I'm asking Glenn Beck to promote this. I'm saying it personally. But I'm asking you...

BECK: Are you are saying you personally won't pay income tax anymore?

NELSON: I'm really thinking about it, Glenn, because as a fiscally responsible grandfather, there are programs that they're asking me to fund that I refuse to fund.

Wow! I didn't know Nelson's a conservative! (Well, maybe he wasn't until Schwarzenegger and the Sacramento Democrats made a mess out of the state.)

To read the full (rush) transcript, go here.

Burbank Marriott Hotel & Convention Center

Above, Frankenstein's Monster and Count Dracula seemed to like the Marriott. I heard no complaints from them.

One more comment on Monsterpalooza, and it really isn't about Monsterpalooza.

The subject here is the venue, the Burbank Marriott Hotel & Convention Center. My first visit to this facility was back in 1999 for G-FEST '99. At that time, the hotel was part of the Hilton Hotels chain and it was the Burbank Hilton. The facility was (and is) a great one for conventions of this type. The hotel is nice and the convention center facility is top-notch.

At the time of G-FEST '99, the hotel seemed to be "in the middle of nowhere" although it is situated next to the Burbank (Bob Hope) Airport. There were no handy fast-food outlets nearby and we were at the mercy of the hotel's restaurant prices. One night at G-FEST, a bunch of us pooled our money together and sent someone out to a Kentucky Fried Chicken to get dinner. That was inconvenient.

Since then, a new shopping center with many fast-food outlets sprung up across the street. This makes the hotel more of an ideal place to hold a convention or show.

Since G-FEST '99, I've been to a few other conventions and shows there. TV Land Convention, Hollywood Collectors Show and the 2008 Dark Shadows Festival immediately come to mind.

If I have to give one critique on the venue, I'd say the Convention Center could be a bit larger. It seemed that Monsterpalooza was a little bit cramped in there.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Monsterpalooza In Burbank

Monsterpalooza In Burbank

Text and photos by Armand Vaquer

Above, King Kong atop the Empire State Building greeted entering attendees (click on this and the other photos to view larger).

I just got back from Monsterpalooza (and my local sushi bar) that's being held this weekend at the Marriott Convention Center in Burbank, California and I was greatly impressed. There were plenty of things to do and see. There were many stars, past and present, of horror and science-fiction movies and television shows.

Monsterpalooza had scheduled events in the Theater and a Museum of horror figures. There were dealers galore such as Anime Jungle (below) and Monsters In Motion thoughout the venue. Throughout the show, there were monster make-up displays (above). I saw several people in the process of being made up as some ghastly being of one kind or another.

Some of the stars included Julie Adams from The Creature From The Black Lagoon, Margot Kidder (Lois Lane) from the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, scream queen Brinke Stevens, Danielle Harris, Michael Berryman and many more.

Above, Julie Adams and Armand pose with a life-size Creature figure.

It was a pleasure to meet the late Forrest J. Ackerman's assistant, Joe Moe along with Phil Kim (below), the new head of Famous Monsters of Filmland.

I was also pleased to meet the Classic Horror Film Board's "Count Gamula" himself in his guise as mild-mannered artist Kerry Gammill.

The Museum had quite a number of displays. They included...

Boris Karloff in Jack Pierce's make-up chair having tea...

...Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula with Kharis, the Mummy...

...the Alien...

...and, of course, no visit to California would be complete without having Governor Schwarzenegger on hand...

... and Dracula putting on the whammy

Before heading out of Monstepalooza, one more shot of Kong:

Monsterpalooza runs through tomorrow, so if you get the chance to go, do yourself a favor and go. If not, start planning to attend next year's show!

UPDATE: Jim Nolt, who founded the Adventures Continue website, sent me this message:

Your mention of Brinke Stevens sent me looking for a photo taken in (judging from my hair style and waistline) about 1992-1993.


This is the photo of Brinke and Jim that was attached (he looks like a young Jonathan Frid here):

Dick Morris: The Incredible Shrinking Clintons

Former Clinton advisor Dick Morris has an interesting article on "The Incredible Shrinking Clintons."

I thought it was a mistake for Hillary Clinton to take the Secretary of State position in the Obama administration. It seems that she has been, predictably, marginalized. She has no real power. Morris likens her to William Rogers, who was Nixon's first Secretary of State. Rogers was also marginalized, with the real foreign policy power in the hands of Henry Kissinger.

Bill Clinton has also been effectively muzzled.

To read Morris's article, go here.

Assassination Ad Puts Egg On Newspaper's Face

The sorry state of journalism or the staff's lack of basic knowledge of history reared its ugly head this week at a Pennsylvania newspaper when they had to apologize for running a classified ad calling for the assassination of President Obama.

According to Philly.com:

Warren Times Observer Publisher John Elchert says the ad appeared Thursday. It read, "May Obama follow in the steps of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy!" The four presidents were all assassinated.

The Elchert said that the staff failed to make the "historical connection." The Secret Service is investigating the person who placed the ad. The paper published a note that said, "apologies for the oversight."

If that wasn't bad enough, the person who placed the ad failed to recognize that assassinating Obama wouldn't solve anything. Vice-President Joe Biden, a goofball if there ever was one, would become president. Then you'd have House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a real mental midget, next in line until a vice-president is appointed.

We're just going to have to tough it out until the 2010 elections.

Friday, May 29, 2009

"American Capitalism Gone With A Whimper" - Pravda

This item could be called "From The They Should Know Department."

Russian newspaper Pravda's English website has an article entitled, "American Capitalism Gone With A Whimper" in which they say:

It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American decent into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple, excuse me dear reader, I meant people.

True, the situation has been well prepared on and off for the past century, especially the past twenty years. The initial testing grounds was conducted upon our Holy Russia and a bloody test it was. But we Russians would not just roll over and give up our freedoms and our souls, no matter how much money Wall Street poured into the fists of the Marxists.

A population who experienced the "joys" of Marxism would be the best people to recognize what is happening to the United States under Barack Obama.

Yes, unless people wake up to what is happening, our capitalist system will be gone with a whimper.

To read the full article, go here.

I never thought I'd see the day that I would quote or even agree with something out of Pravda.

Is Godzilla 3D Back On Track?

Above, director Yoshimitsu Banno announces his Godzilla in 3D/Imax project to G-TOUR.

Back in August 2004, J. D. Lees led 60 Godzilla fans to Japan to celebrate Godzilla's 50th anniversary with G-TOUR. While G-TOUR was in Tokyo, a dinner party was held at the Roppongi, Tokyo TGI Friday's restaurant. One of the guests at the dinner was Godzilla vs. Hedorah director Yoshimitsu Banno.

Banno gave a talk to the assembled fans and disclosed that he was given the green light to produce a 3D/Imax feature featuring Godzilla by Toho Co., Ltd. The feature was entitled Godzilla: 3D to the Max. This was to be an independent production financed by Banno's group. That year, Toho announced that they were putting Godzilla on a ten-year vacation due to slumping ticket sales.

Ever since, rumors have been floating around on who would be involved, whether or not financing for the project was obtained and what monsters will be in the movie.

Reports of the comings and goings of different entities have been reported on the Internet in the ensuing years.

A few weeks ago, Ken Hulsey at Monster Island News* reported on some news of the project. This was, understandably, met with skepticism.

This week, Hulsey found this little tidbit:

This 2004 movie was directed by Keith Melton who also made a four-minute motion simulator ride film about James Bond, "Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man" and is working on "Godzilla 3D."

That little nugget was found here.

The questions Godzilla fans are wondering about are: Is the Godzilla: 3D to the Max project really back on track? Is it in pre-production or is it actually, really now being produced?

It appears that the evidence is starting to show that the on-again, off-again Godzilla: 3D to the Max project may be on-again. We'll see.

All one can say at present is stay tuned!

*I am a contributor to Monster Island News.

UPDATE: Ken Hulsey pulled his post that was posted this week on the project containing the link to the article on Keith Melton's alleged involvement. Meanwhile, Brett Homenick sent a query to Kenji Okuhira, the film's producer, on May 19 on whether or not the project is on and he specifically asked if Melton was involved, to which he replied the same day, "Thanks for your inquiry. It is not true, I am afraid. I hope this helps." I sent Keith Melton a query this morning on the article that Hulsey found. If I receive a reply worth noting, I'll advise. Looks like this is another dead-end.

UPDATE (6/2/09): Cleve Hall posted at the Classic Horror Film Board saying that the Godzilla 3D project is "sorta back on track" but without Yoshimitsu Banno or his company. It is to be filmed in the U.S. and the principals are "acquiring financing" now. I don't know how accurate this is, just reporting it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

G-FEST XVI Movie Line-up

J.D. Lees has announced the movie line-up for this year's G-FEST XVI:


The twenty fifth Godzilla movie in the series, with direction by Shūsuke Kaneko following his highly acclaimed Gamera trilogy. This 2001 release saw Godzilla take on a truly evil role, being a more powerful and dangerous threat than ever before.

Thursday evening, July 2nd
Time: 10:30 PM


A Toho classic, combining the alien invasion and kaiju sub-genres by the golden-age team of Honda, Tsuburaya, and Ifukube. The Mysterians was the first Tokusatsu to be filmed in TohoScope. Our feature is to be introduced by the star, and our guest of honor, Mr. Kenji Sahara.

Friday evening, July 3rd
Time: 10:30 PM


(With bonus “Best of G-FEST Video Contest” features)
Considered the best in the series by many fans, Godzilla vs. the Thing is nearly perfect on all fronts: direction, special effects, and score. This would be Godzilla’s last role of a serious villain until he was resurrected in the 1980s.

Saturday evening, July 4th
Time: 10:30 PM

For more information, go to www.g-fan.com

Opposition Grows To National Sales Tax Trial Balloon


The prospect of a national sales tax looms in Washington, but opposition is growing.

FoxNews.com wrote:

As lawmakers toy with the idea of an across-the-board sales tax on just about everything, tax reform advocates are starting to drum up opposition with the same fervor they employed during last month's anti-tax tea parties.

The idea of a national sales tax was once unlikely. But now that the federal government is doling out billions in stimulus spending and bailouts, and looking for billions more for health care reform, the prospect could be gaining some traction.

Correction: The federal government is doling out trillions.

Let's see. We are paying local, city and sales taxes. We are paying taxes and fees in water, electric, gas, telephone and trash bills. We are paying fuel taxes. We are paying automotive taxes. We are paying state sales taxes. We are paying state income taxes (well, some people are lucky to live in states without income taxes). We are paying federal income taxes. We are paying Medicare taxes. We are paying Social Security taxes. (Did I leave any out?) Now they want to possibly add a federal sales tax?!

To you Obama "hope & change" dumb-asses who voted Democrat last year: Is this the hope & change you wanted? (Just asking.)

To see the full article, go here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mercy General Hospital In “Adventures of Superman”

Mercy General Hospital In “Adventures of Superman”

By Armand Vaquer

Location shoots in the “Adventures of Superman” were rare occurrences due to the limited budgets, especially during the color years (1954-1957).

Fans have been able to find some of the locations used for the show. The downtown Los Angeles area around Seventh Street and San Pedro Street was used in “The Machine That Could Plot Crimes” and the Wilbur Avenue and Linnett Street area was used in “The Man Who Could Read Minds.” Both of these were from the second season in 1953. The 1953 season was filmed in black & white.

Also in 1953, some episodes would show a hospital building and then transition to a sign that read “Mercy General Hospital.” This was the case in the episode “The Face and The Voice” in which an injured Boulder (with Superman’s face via plastic surgery and played by George Reeves) lamented, “It takes more than a face and a voice. There’s only one Superman.”

Seeing the hospital building shot in this and other episodes in 1953, I often thought it looked familiar. It should look familiar; it is actually the Hospital of the Good Samaritan (or Good Samaritan Hospital) in Los Angeles on Wilshire Blvd. near downtown.

Good Samaritan Hospital gained notoriety fifteen years later in June 1968 when Sirhan Sirhan shot Senator Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel after Kennedy won the California Primary for the Democratic presidential nomination. Kennedy was first rushed to Central Receiving Hospital (which no longer exists today), but they did not have the facilities necessary to treat Kennedy’s head wound. He was then transferred to Good Samaritan Hospital where he underwent surgery to remove the bullet and fragments from his brain. He did not recover and died the next night. His body was taken to the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles for an autopsy. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s facilities were located in the basement of the Hall of Justice. George Reeves was also autopsied at this facility in 1959.

Good Samaritan Hospital looked pretty much the same in 1968 as it did in 1953. Today, while the original building still stands, it is partially hidden behind new hospital buildings.

The view at top is of the old building looking north. The view of the hospital used in the Superman episodes was looking west. Most likely, it was stock footage that the show's producers obtained.

Can you name the other "Adventures of Superman" episodes that showed Good Samaritan Hospital as "Mercy General Hospital"?

North Korea Threatening War

After Barack Obama said that he will bring diplomacy back to foreign policy during the campaign, North Korea is now threatening to attack U.S. and South Korean warships.

My Way News is reporting:

North Korea threatened military action Wednesday against U.S. and South Korean warships plying the waters near the Koreas' disputed maritime border, raising the specter of a naval clash just days after the regime's underground nuclear test.

Pyongyang, reacting angrily to Seoul's decision to join an international program to intercept ships suspected of aiding nuclear proliferation, called the move tantamount to a declaration of war.

"Those who provoke [North Korea] once will not be able to escape its unimaginable and merciless punishment," North Korea's official news agency said.

Reuters is reporting that Russia fears that a conflict with North Korea could go nuclear:

Russia is taking security measures as a precaution against the possibility tension over North Korea could escalate into nuclear war, news agencies quoted officials as saying on Wednesday.

North Korea has responded to international condemnation of its nuclear test and a threat of new U.N. sanctions by saying it is no longer bound by an armistice signed with South Korea at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

It looks like Obama's diplomacy is working out well. Talking to North Korea's leaders is tantamount to talking sense to a mad dog.

UPDATE: The Japan Times is reporting:

The [Japanese] government Tuesday welcomed the U.N. Security Council's quick opposition to North Korea's nuclear test but continued to scramble for a fresh response to Pyongyang's latest provocation.

Prime Minister Taro Aso and U.S. President Barack Obama agreed during a phone conference in the morning that Pyongyang's nuclear test was "a serious threat to the peace and stability of Northeast Asia and the international community," and that a swift adoption of a U.N. resolution against the reclusive state is necessary.

They also confirmed that Japan, the U.S. and South Korea will cooperate more closely over North Korea and stressed the importance of coordinating with China and Russia.

Jane Randolph Dies At 93

Above, Charles Bradstreet, Lou Costello, Jane Randolph and Bud Abbott in "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein."

Actress Jane Randolph, who played insurance investigator Joan Raymond in the comedy classic Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), passed away due to complications after suffering a fractured hip in Switzerland on May 4. She was 93.

Randolph also appeared in Cat People and Curse of the Cat People. She was a RKO contract player.

According to the Hollywood Reporter:

After "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948), Randolph largely retired from acting. In 1949, she married movie producer and Southern California businessman Jaime del Amo -- the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, Calif., was built on his family's land -- and moved to Spain.

Monster Madhouse's Karlos Borloff To Return To G-FEST

Above, Karlos Borloff met Haruo Nakajima at G-FEST XV last year. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Monster Madhouse's Karlos Borloff To Return To G-FEST

I received this message from TV horror host Karlos Borloff on G-FEST XVI:


For more information, go to http://www.monstermadhouse.com/

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

G-FEST XVI Is Around The Corner

G-FEST XVI Is Around The Corner

G-FEST XVI is a little over a month away. If you haven't registered or made your room reservations at the special G-FEST rate, now's the time to get a-crackin'!

North American Godzilla fans will be gathering July 3-5, 2008 at the Crowne Plaza O'Hare International in Rosemont, IL for G-FEST XVI. The special guests for G-FEST XV are Kenji Sahara, who has appeared in more Godzilla films than any other actor, including the classics: King Kong vs. Godzilla, Mothra vs. Godzilla, and Destroy All Monsters; and Robert Scott Field, who appeared in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah as android M-11.

G-FEST XVI will feature panel discussions with Kenji Sahara and Robert Scott Field along with fan movie historians. August Ragone, "the living encyclopedia of kaiju", plans to be on hand at the convention. There will also be a giant dealers room, video game contests, video contests, art contest, modeling contest, costume contest & parade, special programming for young fans and more.

Movie screenings will be held at the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge, Illinois. The movies to be shown will be announced shortly.

Weekend admission tickets are $40.00 for adults, $20 for youth (12 and under). Daily admission (at the door) is $25.00 for adults, $10.00 for youths. Children 5 and under are admitted FREE. For more information, log onto www.g-fan.com.

CA Supreme Court Upholds Same-Sex Marriage Ban

The Associated Press is reporting that the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriages:

The California Supreme Court has upheld a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, but it also decided that the estimated 18,000 gay couples who tied the knot before the law took effect will stay wed.

The decision Tuesday rejected an argument by gay rights activists that the ban revised the California constitution's equal protection clause to such a dramatic degree that it first needed the Legislature's approval.

NO On Sotomayor!

President Barack Obama selected Federal Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court to replace the retiring Justice David Souter.

Sotomayor, a Latina, rose up during the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations. However, she is radical enough to do Obama's bidding (or dirty work) on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sotomayor has made some controversial comments during her career:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

“Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.” She was referring to non-white, female judges.

Additionally, a 2005 video surfaced of Sotomayor speaking with potential law clerks, saying that a “court of appeals is where policy is made.” She also laughed and said, “And I know — I know this is on tape, and I should never say that because we don’t make law. I know. O.K. I know. I’m not promoting it. I’m not advocating it...”

See video:

She has also been overturned in the Supreme Court on four cases where she wrote the opinion. Also, she has been rebuked in writing several times by a senior judge for not being on point on the constitution.

She is also not a defender of an individual's right to keep and bear arms. She is one of only three federal appellate judges in America to issue a court opinion saying that the Second Amendment does not apply to states.

Senator Orrin Hatch said, “I'll tell you one thing, I'm not very happy about judges who will substitute their own policy preferences for what the law really is; who think that they can run the country from the bench when they actually have a limited role. And that role is to interpret the laws made by those who have to stand for reelection."

In other words, Sotomayor would legislate from the bench. A bad choice. Chances are, Republicans won't be able to stop her confirmation, but they use her nomination to point out the radicalism of Obama.

King Kong vs. Godzilla Credit

Bloomberg.com has an interesting article written by John F. Wasik on the economy with a King Kong vs. Godzilla scenario.

The article states:

The fallout that has irradiated highly leveraged Western economies has started a King Kong versus Godzilla battle.

To avoid getting trampled, you will need to finesse your credit options and hedge against inflation.

The monster characterization comes courtesy of Niall Ferguson. Viewed through a lens of history, the Harvard professor and author of “The Ascent of Money” (Penguin, $29.95), sees deflation in the short term followed by inflation.

King Kong, in Ferguson’s parlance, represents the kind of deflation going on now. Economies from Japan to the U.K., in his estimation, will continue to shrink this year. The lone exceptions are China, India and Brazil. Godzilla is the wave of liquidity “pouring like a jet hose from central banks.”

To read the full article, go here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Colin Powell, A RINO Phoney

Gen. Colin Powell claims that he's a Republican. Yet he supported neo-Marxist Barack Obama for president.

Powell says that the GOP needs to be a "big tent." Powell claims the reason he supported Barack Obama for president last year was that he believed Obama was "best-qualified" to lead.

What do you think of "hope and change" now, General? Obama quadrupled the national debt; essentially took over the auto and banking industries; is dismantling the safeguards that the Bush Administration set up that protected this country from terror attacks for seven years; and now he wants to nationalize health care (that will usher in rationing).

John McCain was a moderate Republican presidential candidate that was tailor-made for the Colin Powell/Nelson Rockefeller/Hugh Scott/Gerald Ford/John Rhodes wing of the Republican Party. Yet he abandoned McCain and supported Obama. Powell essentially pissed on the grave of Ronald Reagan, who he brown-nosed his way to the top through.

Reagan appealed to moderates, independents and Democrats without sacrificing principle. Reagan welcomed those who didn't agree with him on everything. He always said, "Part of a loaf is better than no loaf at all." He won them over on his terms. The moderates of today have no principles. You can call them RINO (Republican In Name Only) or "Democrat Lite". What do they stand for? They embraced the socialist policies of Obama. They would prefer that the march towards socialism go at a slower pace, but they still embrace it.

Look how successful the moderate wing of the GOP has been. They can't win elections. If it is a choice between a "Democrat Lite" and the real thing, Democrats and some independents will vote for the real thing. Get a strong articulate conservative as a nominee, the liberals will have their clocked cleaned.

As for Powell's "big tent", a poster at the American Spectator said it best:

If you think it's okay to kill babies, get out of my tent.

If you think that gay marriage is anything other than an abrogation of natural law, get out of my tent.

If you think that persons entering this country in defiance of its laws should be granted amnesty, financial assistance, or the right to vote, get out of my tent.

If you offer aid, comfort and compromise to the sworn enemies of our country, get out of my tent.

If you think that the Constitution is an archaic document that can be ignored at the whim of a political agenda, get out of my tent.

If you think it's fiscally responsible to bankrupt our country, get out of my tent.

If you think the community organizer-in-chief has a clue about national security, economics, democracy, business or morality, get out of my tent.

I don't care if I'm the only person left in my tent, at least I can cling to my guns, my Holy Bible and my Constitution.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Amber Dubois

I received the following message on the Amber Dubois case:

Hello -

I am contacting you today because you have shown interest in our efforts to locate Amber Dubois. Below you will find a sample letter and a list of contacts for various shows that feature missing persons cases. I am asking you to please send a copy of the sample letter below to these contacts to assist us in our plea for more media coverage for Amber's story.

I would greatly appreciate you continuing this chain by forwarding this to all of your own contacts and and asking them to do the same.

Someone - somewhere - knows something - we need to find that person. Please help us Bring Amber Home.

Thank you so very much.

Lisa Wilson


Sample letter:

Hello -

I am a faithful, longtime viewer. I would like to call to your attention the case of Amber LeeAnne Dubois - this beautiful 14 year old girl who went missing in Escondido, CA in February.

I want to hear more about this case. I want to see her featured as a missing person. This child's disappearance could happen to any family and it is scary! Please research and air her story.



Feel free to copy and paste this sample letter and send it to your local news outlet.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Reagan To Be Honored With London Statue

Former President Ronald Reagan will be honored with a statue to be placed in London near the current U.S. Embassy.

The Westminster City Council decided to waive the 10-year requirement to erect the statue in Reagan's honor.

Normally, statues are erected in honor of people who have been dead for more than 10 years. Reagan died in June 2004. But the Council says it has approved a request by the Reagan Memorial Fund Trust to recognize the former president's contribution to world politics.

A new U.S. Embassy is planned for a different section of London. The Reagan statue will be placed near one for former President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

G-FEST XVI Music Video Contest

G-FEST XVI Music Video Contest

Here's the requirements for the G-FEST XVI Music Video Contest:

1. Entries can be in either DVD+R or VHS video tape. No video CDs, please.

2. Entries must be received one week prior to G-FEST (deadline: June 26) for review. The sooner, the better.

3. You may enter more than one, but we must limit it to three maximum.

4. Videos should only be as long as the song used, up to 5 min. maximum.

Set scenes from the world of Japanese sci-fi (live action please, no anime) to music (nothing vulgar, please) and send in your video.

Entrants will be pre-screened and the finalists shown at G-FEST. We cannot guarantee that all entries will be shown. Make sure you include your name and address on your video(s).

Send videos to Music Video Contest, 18618 Collins St. No. 105, Tarzana, CA, 91356.

Good luck!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cleanliness Is Next To Godzillaness! New G-Toy!

Cleanliness Is Next To Godzillaness! New G-Toy!

A new bathroom Godzilla toy has been released.

The Godzilla figure included in the so-called Ofuro de Taiketsu Kaiju Hantaa! (”Showdown in the Bathroom - Monster Hunter!”) set features three red LED lights that start blinking when you hit it, a mini speaker and two water sensors you need to hit in order to hurt Godzilla.

Watch your water bills go up as you spend more time in the tub!

To read the full article, go here.

Cheney Responds To Obama On National Security

Cheney Responds To Obama On National Security

In response to President Obama's speech, former Vice-President Richard Cheney spoke before the American Enterprise Institute. Here is the full text of Cheney's speech:

Thank you all very much, and Arthur, thank you for that introduction. It's good to be back at AEI, where we have many friends. Lynne is one of your longtime scholars, and I'm looking forward to spending more time here myself as a returning trustee. What happened was, they were looking for a new member of the board of trustees, and they asked me to head up the search committee.

I first came to AEI after serving at the Pentagon, and departed only after a very interesting job offer came along. I had no expectation of returning to public life, but my career worked out a little differently. Those eight years as vice president were quite a journey, and during a time of big events and great decisions, I don't think I missed much.

Being the first vice president who had also served as secretary of defense, naturally my duties tended toward national security. I focused on those challenges day to day, mostly free from the usual political distractions. I had the advantage of being a vice president content with the responsibilities I had, and going about my work with no higher ambition. Today, I'm an even freer man. Your kind invitation brings me here as a private citizen - a career in politics behind me, no elections to win or lose, and no favor to seek.

The responsibilities we carried belong to others now. And though I'm not here to speak for George W. Bush, I am certain that no one wishes the current administration more success in defending the country than we do. We understand the complexities of national security decisions. We understand the pressures that confront a president and his advisers. Above all, we know what is at stake. And though administrations and policies have changed, the stakes for America have not changed.

Right now there is considerable debate in this city about the measures our administration took to defend the American people. Today I want to set forth the strategic thinking behind our policies. I do so as one who was there every day of the Bush Administration -who supported the policies when they were made, and without hesitation would do so again in the same circumstances.

When President Obama makes wise decisions, as I believe he has done in some respects on Afghanistan, and in reversing his plan to release incendiary photos, he deserves our support. And when he faults or mischaracterizes the national security decisions we made in the Bush years, he deserves an answer. The point is not to look backward. Now and for years to come, a lot rides on our President's understanding of the security policies that preceded him. And whatever choices he makes concerning the defense of this country, those choices should not be based on slogans and campaign rhetoric, but on a truthful telling of history.

Our administration always faced its share of criticism, and from some quarters it was always intense. That was especially so in the later years of our term, when the dangers were as serious as ever, but the sense of general alarm after September 11th, 2001 was a fading memory. Part of our responsibility, as we saw it, was not to forget the terrible harm that had been done to America … and not to let 9/11 become the prelude to something much bigger and far worse.

That attack itself was, of course, the most devastating strike in a series of terrorist plots carried out against Americans at home and abroad. In 1993, terrorists bombed the World Trade Center, hoping to bring down the towers with a blast from below. The attacks continued in 1995, with the bombing of U.S. facilities in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the killing of servicemen at Khobar Towers in 1996; the attack on our embassies in East Africa in 1998; the murder of American sailors on the USS Cole in 2000; and then the hijackings of 9/11, and all the grief and loss we suffered on that day.

Nine-eleven caused everyone to take a serious second look at threats that had been gathering for a while, and enemies whose plans were getting bolder and more sophisticated. Throughout the 90s, America had responded to these attacks, if at all, on an ad hoc basis. The first attack on the World Trade Center was treated as a law enforcement problem, with everything handled after the fact - crime scene, arrests, indictments, convictions, prison sentences, case closed.

That's how it seemed from a law enforcement perspective, at least - but for the terrorists the case was not closed. For them, it was another offensive strike in their ongoing war against the United States. And it turned their minds to even harder strikes with higher casualties. Nine-eleven made necessary a shift of policy, aimed at a clear strategic threat - what the Congress called "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States." From that moment forward, instead of merely preparing to round up the suspects and count up the victims after the next attack, we were determined to prevent attacks in the first place.

We could count on almost universal support back then, because everyone understood the environment we were in. We'd just been hit by a foreign enemy - leaving 3,000 Americans dead, more than we lost at Pearl Harbor. In Manhattan, we were staring at 16 acres of ashes. The Pentagon took a direct hit, and the Capitol or the White House were spared only by the Americans on Flight 93, who died bravely and defiantly.

Everyone expected a follow-on attack, and our job was to stop it. We didn't know what was coming next, but everything we did know in that autumn of 2001 looked bad. This was the world in which al-Qaeda was seeking nuclear technology, and A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear technology on the black market. We had the anthrax attack from an unknown source. We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.

These are just a few of the problems we had on our hands. And foremost on our minds was the prospect of the very worst coming to pass - a 9/11 with nuclear weapons.

For me, one of the defining experiences was the morning of 9/11 itself. As you might recall, I was in my office in that first hour, when radar caught sight of an airliner heading toward the White House at 500 miles an hour. That was Flight 77, the one that ended up hitting the Pentagon. With the plane still inbound, Secret Service agents came into my office and said we had to leave, now. A few moments later I found myself in a fortified White House command post somewhere down below.

There in the bunker came the reports and images that so many Americans remember from that day - word of the crash in Pennsylvania, the final phone calls from hijacked planes, the final horror for those who jumped to their death to escape burning alive. In the years since, I've heard occasional speculation that I'm a different man after 9/11. I wouldn't say that. But I'll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities.

To make certain our nation country never again faced such a day of horror, we developed a comprehensive strategy, beginning with far greater homeland security to make the United States a harder target. But since wars cannot be won on the defensive, we moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks. We decided, as well, to confront the regimes that sponsored terrorists, and to go after those who provide sanctuary, funding, and weapons to enemies of the United States. We turned special attention to regimes that had the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction, and might transfer such weapons to terrorists.

We did all of these things, and with bipartisan support put all these policies in place. It has resulted in serious blows against enemy operations … the take-down of the A.Q. Khan network … and the dismantling of Libya's nuclear program. It's required the commitment of many thousands of troops in two theaters of war, with high points and some low points in both Iraq and Afghanistan - and at every turn, the people of our military carried the heaviest burden. Well over seven years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive - and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed.

So we're left to draw one of two conclusions - and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event - coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort. Whichever conclusion you arrive at, it will shape your entire view of the last seven years, and of the policies necessary to protect America for years to come.

The key to any strategy is accurate intelligence, and skilled professionals to get that information in time to use it. In seeking to guard this nation against the threat of catastrophic violence, our Administration gave intelligence officers the tools and lawful authority they needed to gain vital information. We didn't invent that authority. It is drawn from Article Two of the Constitution. And it was given specificity by the Congress after 9/11, in a Joint Resolution authorizing "all necessary and appropriate force" to protect the American people.

Our government prevented attacks and saved lives through the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which let us intercept calls and track contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and persons inside the United States. The program was top secret, and for good reason, until the editors of the New York Times got it and put it on the front page. After 9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn't serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people.

In the years after 9/11, our government also understood that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. And in a few cases, that information could be gained only through tough interrogations.

In top secret meetings about enhanced interrogations, I made my own beliefs clear. I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program. The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do. The intelligence officers who questioned the terrorists can be proud of their work and proud of the results, because they prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people.

Our successors in office have their own views on all of these matters.

By presidential decision, last month we saw the selective release of documents relating to enhanced interrogations. This is held up as a bold exercise in open government, honoring the public's right to know. We're informed, as well, that there was much agonizing over this decision.

Yet somehow, when the soul-searching was done and the veil was lifted on the policies of the Bush administration, the public was given less than half the truth. The released memos were carefully redacted to leave out references to what our government learned through the methods in question. Other memos, laying out specific terrorist plots that were averted, apparently were not even considered for release. For reasons the administration has yet to explain, they believe the public has a right to know the method of the questions, but not the content of the answers.

Over on the left wing of the president's party, there appears to be little curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists. The kind of answers they're after would be heard before a so-called "Truth Commission." Some are even demanding that those who recommended and approved the interrogations be prosecuted, in effect treating political disagreements as a punishable offense, and political opponents as criminals. It's hard to imagine a worse precedent, filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse, than to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessors.

Apart from doing a serious injustice to intelligence operators and lawyers who deserve far better for their devoted service, the danger here is a loss of focus on national security, and what it requires. I would advise the administration to think very carefully about the course ahead. All the zeal that has been directed at interrogations is utterly misplaced. And staying on that path will only lead our government further away from its duty to protect the American people.

One person who by all accounts objected to the release of the interrogation memos was the Director of Central Intelligence, Leon Panetta. He was joined in that view by at least four of his predecessors. I assume they felt this way because they understand the importance of protecting intelligence sources, methods, and personnel. But now that this once top-secret information is out for all to see - including the enemy - let me draw your attention to some points that are routinely overlooked.

It is a fact that only detainees of the highest intelligence value were ever subjected to enhanced interrogation. You've heard endlessly about waterboarding. It happened to three terrorists. One of them was Khalid Sheikh Muhammed - the mastermind of 9/11, who has also boasted about beheading Daniel Pearl.

We had a lot of blind spots after the attacks on our country. We didn't know about al-Qaeda's plans, but Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and a few others did know. And with many thousands of innocent lives potentially in the balance, we didn't think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all.

Maybe you've heard that when we captured KSM, he said he would talk as soon as he got to New York City and saw his lawyer. But like many critics of interrogations, he clearly misunderstood the business at hand. American personnel were not there to commence an elaborate legal proceeding, but to extract information from him before al-Qaeda could strike again and kill more of our people.

In public discussion of these matters, there has been a strange and sometimes willful attempt to conflate what happened at Abu Ghraib prison with the top secret program of enhanced interrogations. At Abu Ghraib, a few sadistic prison guards abused inmates in violation of American law, military regulations, and simple decency. For the harm they did, to Iraqi prisoners and to America's cause, they deserved and received Army justice. And it takes a deeply unfair cast of mind to equate the disgraces of Abu Ghraib with the lawful, skillful, and entirely honorable work of CIA personnel trained to deal with a few malevolent men.

Even before the interrogation program began, and throughout its operation, it was closely reviewed to ensure that every method used was in full compliance with the Constitution, statutes, and treaty obligations. On numerous occasions, leading members of Congress, including the current speaker of the House, were briefed on the program and on the methods.

Yet for all these exacting efforts to do a hard and necessary job and to do it right, we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.

I might add that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about "values." Intelligence officers of the United States were not trying to rough up some terrorists simply to avenge the dead of 9/11. We know the difference in this country between justice and vengeance. Intelligence officers were not trying to get terrorists to confess to past killings; they were trying to prevent future killings. From the beginning of the program, there was only one focused and all-important purpose. We sought, and we in fact obtained, specific information on terrorist plans.

Those are the basic facts on enhanced interrogations. And to call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims. What's more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the American people less safe.

The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism. They may take comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum. If liberals are unhappy about some decisions, and conservatives are unhappy about other decisions, then it may seem to them that the President is on the path of sensible compromise. But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States, you must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States. Triangulation is a political strategy, not a national security strategy. When just a single clue that goes unlearned … one lead that goes unpursued … can bring on catastrophe - it's no time for splitting differences. There is never a good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American people are in the balance.

Behind the overwrought reaction to enhanced interrogations is a broader misconception about the threats that still face our country. You can sense the problem in the emergence of euphemisms that strive to put an imaginary distance between the American people and the terrorist enemy. Apparently using the term "war" where terrorists are concerned is starting to feel a bit dated. So henceforth we're advised by the administration to think of the fight against terrorists as, quote, "Overseas contingency operations." In the event of another terrorist attack on America, the Homeland Security Department assures us it will be ready for this, quote, "man-made disaster" - never mind that the whole Department was created for the purpose of protecting Americans from terrorist attack.

And when you hear that there are no more, quote, "enemy combatants," as there were back in the days of that scary war on terror, at first that sounds like progress. The only problem is that the phrase is gone, but the same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers are still there. And finding some less judgmental or more pleasant-sounding name for terrorists doesn't change what they are - or what they would do if we let them loose.

On his second day in office, President Obama announced that he was closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. This step came with little deliberation and no plan. Now the President says some of these terrorists should be brought to American soil for trial in our court system. Others, he says, will be shipped to third countries. But so far, the United States has had little luck getting other countries to take hardened terrorists. So what happens then? Attorney General Holder and others have admitted that the United States will be compelled to accept a number of the terrorists here, in the homeland, and it has even been suggested US taxpayer dollars will be used to support them. On this one, I find myself in complete agreement with many in the President's own party. Unsure how to explain to their constituents why terrorists might soon be relocating into their states, these Democrats chose instead to strip funding for such a move out of the most recent war supplemental.

The administration has found that it's easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo. But it's tricky to come up with an alternative that will serve the interests of justice and America's national security. Keep in mind that these are hardened terrorists picked up overseas since 9/11. The ones that were considered low-risk were released a long time ago. And among these, we learned yesterday, many were treated too leniently, because 1 in 7 cut a straight path back to their prior line of work and have conducted murderous attacks in the Middle East. I think the President will find, upon reflection, that to bring the worst of the worst terrorists inside the United States would be cause for great danger and regret in the years to come.

In the category of euphemism, the prizewinning entry would be a recent editorial in a familiar newspaper that referred to terrorists we've captured as, quote, "abducted." Here we have ruthless enemies of this country, stopped in their tracks by brave operatives in the service of America, and a major editorial page makes them sound like they were kidnap victims, picked up at random on their way to the movies.

It's one thing to adopt the euphemisms that suggest we're no longer engaged in a war. These are just words, and in the end it's the policies that matter most. You don't want to call them enemy combatants? Fine. Call them what you want - just don't bring them into the United States. Tired of calling it a war? Use any term you prefer. Just remember it is a serious step to begin unraveling some of the very policies that have kept our people safe since 9/11.

Another term out there that slipped into the discussion is the notion that American interrogation practices were a "recruitment tool" for the enemy. On this theory, by the tough questioning of killers, we have supposedly fallen short of our own values. This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the President himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It's another version of that same old refrain from the Left, "We brought it on ourselves."

It is much closer to the truth that terrorists hate this country precisely because of the values we profess and seek to live by, not by some alleged failure to do so. Nor are terrorists or those who see them as victims exactly the best judges of America's moral standards, one way or the other.

Critics of our policies are given to lecturing on the theme of being consistent with American values. But no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things. And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them.

As a practical matter, too, terrorists may lack much, but they have never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in freedom of speech and religion … our belief in equal rights for women … our support for Israel … our cultural and political influence in the world - these are the true sources of resentment, all mixed in with the lies and conspiracy theories of the radical clerics. These recruitment tools were in vigorous use throughout the 1990s, and they were sufficient to motivate the 19 recruits who boarded those planes on September 11th, 2001.

The United States of America was a good country before 9/11, just as we are today. List all the things that make us a force for good in the world - for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences - and what you end up with is a list of the reasons why the terrorists hate America. If fine speech-making, appeals to reason, or pleas for compassion had the power to move them, the terrorists would long ago have abandoned the field. And when they see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations, or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don't stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along. Instead the terrorists see just what they were hoping for - our unity gone, our resolve shaken, our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity.

What is equally certain is this: The broad-based strategy set in motion by President Bush obviously had nothing to do with causing the events of 9/11. But the serious way we dealt with terrorists from then on, and all the intelligence we gathered in that time, had everything to do with preventing another 9/11 on our watch. The enhanced interrogations of high-value detainees and the terrorist surveillance program have without question made our country safer. Every senior official who has been briefed on these classified matters knows of specific attacks that were in the planning stages and were stopped by the programs we put in place.

This might explain why President Obama has reserved unto himself the right to order the use of enhanced interrogation should he deem it appropriate. What value remains to that authority is debatable, given that the enemy now knows exactly what interrogation methods to train against, and which ones not to worry about. Yet having reserved for himself the authority to order enhanced interrogation after an emergency, you would think that President Obama would be less disdainful of what his predecessor authorized after 9/11. It's almost gone unnoticed that the president has retained the power to order the same methods in the same circumstances. When they talk about interrogations, he and his administration speak as if they have resolved some great moral dilemma in how to extract critical information from terrorists. Instead they have put the decision off, while assigning a presumption of moral superiority to any decision they make in the future.

Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interest of the United States. The harm done only begins with top secret information now in the hands of the terrorists, who have just received a lengthy insert for their training manual. Across the world, governments that have helped us capture terrorists will fear that sensitive joint operations will be compromised. And at the CIA, operatives are left to wonder if they can depend on the White House or Congress to back them up when the going gets tough. Why should any agency employee take on a difficult assignment when, even though they act lawfully and in good faith, years down the road the press and Congress will treat everything they do with suspicion, outright hostility, and second-guessing? Some members of Congress are notorious for demanding they be briefed into the most sensitive intelligence programs. They support them in private, and then head for the hills at the first sign of controversy.

As far as the interrogations are concerned, all that remains an official secret is the information we gained as a result. Some of his defenders say the unseen memos are inconclusive, which only raises the question why they won't let the American people decide that for themselves. I saw that information as vice president, and I reviewed some of it again at the National Archives last month. I've formally asked that it be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained, the things we learned, and the consequences for national security. And as you may have heard, last week that request was formally rejected. It's worth recalling that ultimate power of declassification belongs to the President himself. President Obama has used his declassification power to reveal what happened in the interrogation of terrorists. Now let him use that same power to show Americans what did not happen, thanks to the good work of our intelligence officials.

I believe this information will confirm the value of interrogations - and I am not alone. President Obama's own Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Blair, has put it this way: "High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al-Qaeda organization that was attacking this country." End quote. Admiral Blair put that conclusion in writing, only to see it mysteriously deleted in a later version released by the administration - the missing 26 words that tell an inconvenient truth. But they couldn't change the words of George Tenet, the CIA Director under Presidents Clinton and Bush, who bluntly said: "I know that this program has saved lives. I know we've disrupted plots. I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us." End of quote.

If Americans do get the chance to learn what our country was spared, it'll do more than clarify the urgency and the rightness of enhanced interrogations in the years after 9/11. It may help us to stay focused on dangers that have not gone away. Instead of idly debating which political opponents to prosecute and punish, our attention will return to where it belongs - on the continuing threat of terrorist violence, and on stopping the men who are planning it.

For all the partisan anger that still lingers, our administration will stand up well in history - not despite our actions after 9/11, but because of them. And when I think about all that was to come during our administration and afterward - the recriminations, the second-guessing, the charges of "hubris" - my mind always goes back to that moment.

To put things in perspective, suppose that on the evening of 9/11, President Bush and I had promised that for as long as we held office - which was to be another 2,689 days - there would never be another terrorist attack inside this country. Talk about hubris - it would have seemed a rash and irresponsible thing to say. People would have doubted that we even understood the enormity of what had just happened. Everyone had a very bad feeling about all of this, and felt certain that the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville were only the beginning of the violence.

Of course, we made no such promise. Instead, we promised an all-out effort to protect this country. We said we would marshal all elements of our nation's power to fight this war and to win it. We said we would never forget what had happened on 9/11, even if the day came when many others did forget. We spoke of a war that would "include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success." We followed through on all of this, and we stayed true to our word.

To the very end of our administration, we kept al-Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed.

Along the way there were some hard calls. No decision of national security was ever made lightly, and certainly never made in haste. As in all warfare, there have been costs - none higher than the sacrifices of those killed and wounded in our country's service. And even the most decisive victories can never take away the sorrow of losing so many of our own - all those innocent victims of 9/11, and the heroic souls who died trying to save them.

For all that we've lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings. And when the moral reckoning turns to the men known as high-value terrorists, I can assure you they were neither innocent nor victims. As for those who asked them questions and got answers: they did the right thing, they made our country safer, and a lot of Americans are alive today because of them.

Like so many others who serve America, they are not the kind to insist on a thank-you. But I will always be grateful to each one of them, and proud to have served with them for a time in the same cause. They, and so many others, have given honorable service to our country through all the difficulties and all the dangers. I will always admire them and wish them well. And I am confident that this nation will never take their work, their dedication, or their achievements, for granted.

Thank you very much.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

California Voters: "Up yours!"

California voters yesterday sent a very loud and clear message to the politicians who have bankrupted the state: no more taxes!

It wasn't just "no," it was "hell no." Not since Proposition 13 in 1978 has California voters made clear that they don't like the tax and spend policies of the state's government.

The voters defeated Propositions 1A through 1E that were backed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Democrat legislature, labor and teachers unions. Only Proposition 1F, that will freeze legislators' salaries during hard times, passed.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Schwarzenegger has called for cuts that would hit every corner of the state. He announced plans to lay off 5,000 of the state's 235,000 workers and has proposed slashing education by up to $5 billion, selling state properties, borrowing $2 billion from local governments and potentially reducing eligibility for healthcare programs.

Schwarzenegger said the voters' message was, "Don't to come to us for extra help. That was the message. And you know something. I appreciate that when you hear that from the people. It gives us a chance to go and adjust, and say 'OK, we went in the wrong direction. Now lets go in the right direction and lets go do what the people want.'"

This is not a good omen for Barack Obama and the Democrats. First it was the tea parties that were organized in response to the massive spending and bailouts of Obama and the Democrats in Washington. Now it is the California voters rejection of more taxes. This is a prairie fire that is sure to build to a big climax in 2010.

Will the state make meaningful cuts? Or will they hope for a Washington bailout and let taxpayers from other states carry the burden of paying for California's excesses? We shall see.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quake Rattles L.A.

A moderate earthquake rattled the Hawthorne area this evening. The preliminary report was that it was a 5.0 quake that hit at 8:39 p.m., about 10 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles, near Inglewood/Hawthorne.

Other reports indicated that it was a 4.7 temblor.

I felt it, but due to the distance (about 20-25 miles from me), it felt like a 3.0.

Apollo 11: 40 Years Ago This July 16

Above, the offical patch design for the Apollo 11 moon mission.

July 16 will mark the fortieth anniversary of one of man’s greatest achievements: the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Those who were alive then will never forget "Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed" and "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."*

Above, the Apollo 11 astronauts: Mission Commander Neil Armstrong, Columbia (command module) pilot Michael Collins and Eagle pilot (lunar module) Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin.

It was on July 16, 1969 that a Saturn V rocket was launched at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon. This mission fulfilled President Kennedy’s goal of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

Above, Apollo 11 is launched atop a Saturn V launch vehicle.

It was a good year to be fifteen years old, as I was at the time. I was always a big fan of the U.S. Space Program (it is the only worthwhile government program we have, in my opinion). It was a month before the Woodstock rock festival. The launch date was on my grandmother’s 69th birthday.

Above, former President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson are joined by Vice President Spiro Agnew at the launch.

The command module was called "Columbia" and the lunar module was named "Eagle." Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon in Eagle while Collins remained in moon orbit in Columbia. The actual landing site was at the Sea of Tranquility. The landing platform of Eagle is still there. The capsule portion of Columbia is now at the Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Twenty years ago, the Arts and Entertainment cable channel ran a series of programs on the 20th anniversary “as it happened.” Hopefully, they will re-play these programs this year. Fortunately, I videotaped these programs. My two-year-old daughter sat on my lap and absorbed these programs with fascination. It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed since then. It is even harder to believe that 40 years have passed. That’s when one realizes how old they are. I remember the launch and the live television broadcast from the moon’s surface. Practically the whole world was glued to their televisions sets that night (with the exception of a few communist countries). Those were exciting days.

Above, ghostly black & white images were broadcast live from the moon.

This is one anniversary that we should all look back on and celebrate.

Above, following splashdown, the Apollo 11 crew is welcomed back by President Richard Nixon on the USS Hornet.

Above, spectacular images, such as this one of astronaut Aldrin on the moon were shown once the many rolls of film were developed.

*This is what people heard. It was intended for Neil Armstrong to say, "That's one small step for a man..." The "a" had been left out possibly due to Armstrong's flubbing of the line. See Snopes.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Visiting Bela

This morning, I had some insurance claims work to do in the Windsor Hills area of Los Angeles (above Culver City). When I completed it, since I was in the neighborhood, I made a quick stop at Holy Cross Cemetery.

I went to Bela Lugosi's grave and took a few pictures (click on photo to view larger):

Above, the section of Holy Cross Cemetery where Bela Lugosi's grave is located.

Above, Bela Lugosi's final resting place.

Above, another view of the section of Holy Cross Cemetery where Bela Lugosi's grave is located.

Basically, when you enter the main gate of Holy Cross Cemetery, make the first left turn when you pass the gate guard shack and go up the hill a little bit and you're there. It is the section to your left.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Turning Down the Volume

CIA Director Leon Panetta has given the following message to CIA employees:

Message from the Director: Turning Down the Volume

There is a long tradition in Washington of making political hay out of our business. It predates my service with this great institution, and it will be around long after I’m gone. But the political debates about interrogation reached a new decibel level yesterday when the CIA was accused of misleading Congress.

Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values. As the Agency indicated previously in response to Congressional inquiries, our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing “the enhanced techniques that had been employed.” Ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened.

My advice — indeed, my direction — to you is straightforward: ignore the noise and stay focused on your mission. We have too much work to do to be distracted from our job of protecting this country.

We are an Agency of high integrity, professionalism, and dedication. Our task is to tell it like it is — even if that’s not what people always want to hear. Keep it up. Our national security depends on it.

Bravo, Mr. Panetta! It's about time the agency was defended.

Gingrich: Pelosi Lied

What did Nancy Pelosi know and when did she know it?

ABC News is reporting that in an interview with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Gingrich stated that current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lied about not being briefed on the enhanced interrogation methods employed on captured terrorist suspects.

In an interview with ABC News Radio’s Marcus Wilson, Gingrich, R-Ga., said Pelosi, D-Calif., “has lied to the House” in claiming that she was never briefed by the CIA about the Bush administration’s use of waterboarding and other harsh tactics.

"I think she has lied to the House, and I think that the House has an absolute obligation to open an inquiry, and I hope there will be a resolution to investigate her. And I think this is a big deal. I don't think the Speaker of the House can lie to the country on national security matters,” Gingrich said.

He continued: "I think this is the most despicable, dishonest and vicious political effort I've seen in my lifetime."

"She is a trivial politician, viciously using partisanship for the narrowist of purposes, and she dishonors the Congress by her behavior."

Pelosi is claiming that she was never briefed, despite being a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. CIA documents that surfaced last week refute Pelosi's claims. She knew about the methods, including waterboarding, but did not object. She is currently fighting for her political career and accused the CIA of misleading Congress.

Partisan Democrats in the Congress are pressing for investigations and prosecutions of Bush Administration attorneys over this issue. If seen as a collaborator, the hard Left will demand Pelosi's ouster.

To read the full article, go here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Remembering John Wayne

"I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them." - from The Shootist (1976).

June 11, 1979 was a memorable day for me and a lot of other people. I remember it well. It was the day that I began my career as an insurance claims adjuster with the now-defunct company, United Pacific/Reliance Insurance Cos. I got the job within weeks of my graduation from California State University, Long Beach.

It was also the day I came home from my first day at United Pacific/Reliance and my mom said, “John Wayne died.”

That hit like a thunderbolt. The news was not unexpected. Reports over the past several weeks by the media indicated that Wayne was losing his battle with stomach cancer. He died at the UCLA Medical Center in Westwood. It was tough, as I recall, to watch the news reports and the special tribute shows on television that night.

As time was running out, the U.S. Congress ordered, on May 26, 1979, the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to John Wayne. Hollywood figures and American leaders from across the political spectrum, including Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Mike Frankovich, Katharine Hepburn, General and Mrs. Omar Bradley, Gregory Peck, Robert Stack, James Arness, and Kirk Douglas spoke in hearings on behalf of Wayne. The most memorable testimony was from longtime Wayne co-star and friend Maureen O’Hara, who also spearheaded the award.

O’Hara said, "It is my great honor to be here. I beg you to strike a medal for Duke, to order the President to strike it. And I feel that the medal should say just one thing, 'John Wayne, American.'”

The United States Mint stuck the medal. On one side it depicts John Wayne riding on horseback, and the other side has a portrait of Wayne with the words, "John Wayne, American." I have a special edition belt buckle with the medal mounted at the center.

On June 9, 1980, President Jimmy Carter, a John Wayne fan, posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Wayne.

It is hard to believe that this coming June 11 will mark 30 years since the passing of John Wayne. It is also hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since I started working as an adjuster.

Wayne appeared in many memorable movies over forty years. Stagecoach (his breakthrough role), The Searchers, Sands of Iwo Jima, The Quiet Man, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, McClintock!, Donovan’s Reef, True Grit (Wayne received the best actor Oscar for his role as Rooster Cogburn), The Cowboys and The Shootist (his last movie) are my favorites.

Since then, Orange County airport was renamed John Wayne Airport. A statue of Wayne stands at the airport and another of Wayne (on horseback) was placed at the former office building of Great Western Savings (Wayne made several commercials for Great Western) that is now the headquarters of Flynt Enterprises at Wilshire Blvd. and La Cienega Blvd. in Los Angeles. A museum dedicated to Wayne has opened at his hometown of Winterset, Iowa.

Wayne was buried at a private funeral at Pacific View Memorial Cemetery in Corona del Mar. Wayne lived in nearby Newport Beach since the 1960s. Newport Harbor tour boat guides would point out the Wayne home as tour boats passed it. For years, his grave was unmarked out of fear of grave robbers (Charlie Chaplin’s grave was the target of grave robbers and son Michael Wayne ordered it to be unmarked).

Twenty years later, a headstone was placed on the grave with a Wayne quote (from a Playboy interview) : "Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday." It also depicts The Alamo and Monument Valley.

In his honor, the Wayne Family established the John Wayne Cancer Foundation.

John Wayne stood tall in life. 30 years after his passing, John Wayne still stands tall. Fortunately, we still have his many movies to enjoy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Godzilla At Raymond Burr Film Festival This Weekend

Godzilla, King of the Monsters! will screen this Saturday afternoon at the Glaser Center as part of the Raymond Burr Film Festival in Santa Rosa, California. It will be paired with Bride of the Gorilla, which co-stars Lon Chaney Jr.

The festival will show other Burr movies and will have actress Barbara Hale, Burr's co-star in the Perry Mason television series. Click on the poster below for details.

California Ballot Propositions In Trouble (Good!)

The Sacramento Bee is reporting that five of six California ballot propositions are failing.

Their pollings show that Propositions 1A-1F are in serious trouble except for the proposition limiting legisators' pay hikes:

A plurality of voters favored one measure -- Proposition 1F -- which would ban pay raises for state elected officials when there is a budget shortfall. Prop 1F was favored by 45 to 35 percent.

Their other findings are as follows:

Proposition 1A, trailed 51 percent to 38 percent, according to the poll. Prop 1A would impose state spending restrictions and a "rainy day" budget fund while triggering $16 billion in extended tax hikes.

The Proposition 1B educational funding measure -- which is pegged to passage of Prop 1A -- trailed 50 percent to 41 percent, according to the poll.

Proposition 1C, would allow $5 billion in borrowing from a revamped state lottery, was by far the least popular measure. It trailed 52 percent to 29 percent and was losing in every geographic region in California.

Majorities also opposed Propositions 1D and 1E. The measures would allow voter-approved funds for child development and mental health programs to be used for other purposes.

Talk show host Hugh Hewitt took a look at this and noted:

The single biggest driver behind the "no" vote is, however, the dishonesty of the "yes" campaign. The brain trust in Sacramento decided to try and sell their massive tax hike and theft of money from designated funds as a "spending cap," and in so doing conveyed enormous contempt for the voters. Every time Arnold calls Measure 1A and its sister stealth proposals as other than a massive tax hike and a series of tax grabs --1D is literally stealing money from kids programs like dentistry and autism/asthma treatment even as the legislature kept its cars and staffs-- the public feels, correctly, that Arnold and the Sacramento Dems thinks they are idiots. The smart guys running the campaign have managed to telegraph a sneer with every ad that shows a weary fireman pleading with the voters not to end firefighting in the state. Voters know they are being conned, and no amount of campaign spending can erase the complete knowledge that the electeds and their sharpie advisors think the voters a vast crowd of fools.

The significance of the "no" vote on 1A through 1E is that it signals more of the same disgust as powered the Tea Parties: Government is too large, takes too much of our money, and lies about doing so.

It looks very encouraging that California voters are catching on that the Sacramento government (i.e., Schwarzeneggar and the Democrat-controlled legislature) have overspent and brought the state to its knees.

With the exception of Proposition 1F, I also urge a 'no' vote on these measures.

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