...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

February 29, 2004

Just Call Me Mr. No Credibility

Congratulations on the Oscar, Mr. No Credibility.

A chill wind is blowing in this nation. A message is being sent through the White House and its allies in talk radio and Clear Channel and Cooperstown. If you oppose this administration, there can and will be ramifications.


Every day, the air waves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent. And the public, like so many relatives and friends that I saw this weekend, sit in mute opposition and fear.

Uhhh, yah.

(Somebody in the VRWC musta fucked up.)

Posted by annika at 07:29 PM | Comments (11)

February 28, 2004

Is It As It Was?

i went with Betty and her sister to see The Passion of the Christ Friday night, but it was sold out. In fact, all the evening shows were sold out the whole weekend. So, the three of us ended up seeing the 10:00 matinee in Glendale on Saturday. Now that i’ve had some time to reflect, here’s what i think.


After an advance screening of The Passion, the Pope is said to have remarked: “It is as it was.” A few days ago, i wrote about my preliminary expectations. If you plan to see the movie but haven’t, i may ruin some of the experience, so you may want to stop reading now. Even though everybody knows how it ends, i think it’s best to view any movie without foreknowledge of how the filmmakers plan to tell the story.

It’s definitely an important movie. Is it a masterpiece, as some have called it? i really don’t think so. If you’re a Christian, it's not a movie that you can walk away from without being affected in some way. But it's missing something. It was well made. i’m glad i saw it. i’ll probably see it again, even though it is very difficult to watch. i didn’t hate it, but at this point, i’m not sure i can say i liked it. Maybe i wasn’t supposed to.

While the movie has its flaws, The Passion is realistic enough to make me almost believe i was there, at the crucifixion, something i have been hearing about and reading about all my life. That’s a powerful thing. There are moments of great emotional intensity. Betty cried throughout the movie, and she was shaking afterwards. As i walked out of the theater, i felt as if things were different, somehow. None of us wanted to talk for a while, but those feelings have worn off by now.

What i Liked

There are a few scenes that i liked very much. One scene in particular was a flashback scene with Jesus after he has built a table. Also, the stoning of Mary Magdelene was very nicely done. There’s no dialogue in that scene and it’s completely in slow motion. i couldn’t tell what was going on until the final shot when Mary’s face came onscreen, then it all made sense. Very powerful.

Gibson’s treatment of Simon the Cyrenian was unusual too. i always pictured him as volunteering to help carry the cross, but i think his initial reluctance makes more sense.

The actors who played Simon Peter and Mary, Jesus’ mother, both gave very fine performances. The lack of makeup on the women in the film also added to the realism.

Satan was played by a woman, but made up to look androgynous. She was scary. The scene with Judas under a bridge made me jump in my seat. i also thought using kids to taunt Judas just before he hangs himself made it more diabolical.

Technically, the movie is very well made. The music, visual effects, and photography are all great. The director of photography, Caleb Deschanel, also did The Right Stuff, The Natural and The Patriot.

Is It As It Was? - Historical Accuracy

Mel Gibson obviously wanted to show us the most historically accurate Jesus film to date. Unfortunately, and as i feared, his commitment to accuracy was not as consistent as i would have liked.


My biggest problem is one that has been talked about a lot in the professional reviews. There is too much blood, too early, in my opinion. i thought about this for a long time. Perhaps if the amount of torture had been realistic, i wouldn’t have been as bothered by it. But, at least during the scourging, i think Gibson overdid it. i don’t think it was realistic.

The scourging scene goes on for an unnecessarily long time. Historically, people died from scourging. It didn’t take a lot of strokes to kill someone, and Jesus was whipped savagely in the movie. Though i’m not an expert on this, i really do think any person would have died from that amount of flogging. There was so much blood on the floor after the scourging scene, it is impossible to believe that Jesus wouldn't have at least passed out, let alone believe that he could carry a heavy cross afterwards. We know that Jesus did not die until he was on the cross for three hours, so i think Gibson overdid the scourging scene.

People died on the cross because it was so hard to breathe while hanging up there. if i’m not mistaken, i believe the Nazis did some awful experiments to confirm this. i remember reading about it a long time ago in a book about the shroud. To breathe while on the cross, a person had to pull themself up by the arms to take each breath. Eventually they got too tired from the pain and torture of each breath and they suffocated.

That’s why the soldiers broke the legs of the thieves. When people took too long to die, they would break their legs to hurry the process, because then the victims wouldn’t be able to use their legs to help push themselves up for each breath. Gibson showed the leg breaking, but chose not to show the crucified men struggling to breathe up to that point.

It’s possible Gibson felt that Jesus had to be practically dead when he was on the cross, since he died without needing his legs broken. But i still feel that, given the severity of that scourging, Jesus would never have made it to Golgotha. We know that He did, and not only that, He was able to survive three hours on the cross.

The alternative to breaking the legs was to lance the victim through the heart, which they did to Jesus. That was one of the scenes when i became emotional during the movie, when the water starts coming out from the side. i always knew that story, but i’d never seen it done on film that way. It was hearbreaking.

Betty had a theory that since Jesus was God, he therefore could take more punishment, but i disagree. The whole point of Jesus’ torture and death was for Him to submit to it as a man. Using His power as God to withstand any torture would have been accepting the Devil’s temptation.

If one accepts that Jesus could have survived that horrible scourging, the amount of blood and the wounds do seem realistic, and i wouldn’t have a problem with Gibson’s choice to show that accurately. i just don’t think the scourging could have been that severe.

Thematically, it’s clear Gibson wanted to shock the audience with the amount of torture in the scourging. His torture represents the sins of mankind. It looks horrible because Gibson wants to impress us with the magnitude of God’s gift to us. That was the director's choice. If Gibson had toned it down to a less shocking level, maybe we wouldn’t get the message.

With that goal in mind, i still wish we could have seen Jesus’ face a little more clearly. It’s so dark with blood, it’s really grotesque and hard to look at by the end of the movie. Maybe i’m just squeamish and maybe that’s what Gibson wanted.

i had a problem with the cross too. Like i said, Jesus should have been carrying the patibulum, not the whole cross. i don’t understand why Gibson would choose to have each thief carry a patibulum and then have Jesus carry the unwieldy cross. That doesn’t make sense to me. Why would the Romans have treated Jesus differently from the two other condemned men?

Still, it didn’t bother me as much as Franco Zefferelli’s cross in Jesus of Nazareth, which was more like a scaffolding than anything else.

Another thing, Gibson put the nails in the palms. In that book on the shroud, i read that the flesh of the hand was not strong enough to hold the weight of a human for longer than a few minutes. In the movie, there’s some rope around the wrists, but i don’t buy that either. The Shroud of Turin shows the nail wounds in the wrists. Even if the Shroud is not authentic, you have to admit that the maker of the Shroud knew a lot about how people were crucified.

Does the brutality of the movie take away from its message? Some critics say it does. But i think many critics are confused about the message. And what is the message of The Passion of the Christ? Read the opening lines to J.S. Bach’s choral masterpiece, the St. Matthew’s Passion.

Come you daughters, help me lament.
See Him!
The bridegroom. See him.
See Him like a lamb.
O guiltless Lamb of God
Slaughtered on the stem of the cross.
See Him!
Behold His patience
Always He was patient,
Although He was despised.
See Him!
Behold our guilt.
All sin hast Thou borne
Else we must needs despair.
See Him, out of love and graciousness,
Himself carrying the wood for the Cross.
Have mercy upon us o Jesus.
If you ask me, that’s the message of Gibson’s Passion, too. It invites us to look, to see Him, not to turn away, but to see clearly what He did for us.

Nowadays, people seem to think that Jesus came simply to tell us to be nice to each other. It’s a pleasant message, and it fits into our overly secular world without ruffling too many feathers. But, it’s not why Jesus came here. Remember, we didn’t need Jesus to tell us to "love our neighbor." That commandment was already in Leviticus. But in our secular world, people have forgotten the real reason Jesus came to earth, which was to suffer, to die, and to rise again.

People complain that there’s not enough teaching in the movie. That might be a bit unfair. To make a movie that emphasized Jesus’ teachings would be to make a different movie. But i will say that it would have been a more pleasant viewing experience if Gibson had balanced the horror with more uplifting scenes.


Is The Passion Anti-Semitic?

Some people, including some professional film critics, have said that The Passion is “clearly" anti-semitic. If that is true, then the Gospels are even more anti-semitic. Gibson’s Passion is less anti-semitic than the Gospels, and remember, the Gospels were all written by practicing Jews.

i don’t think the movie is anti-semitic, though. The bad guy is Caiaphas, for sure. But even other members of the religious hierarchy are shown openly disagreeing with Caiaphas. i don’t remember that being in the New Testament. Anyone who sees this movie, and then extrapolates Caiaphas into a representative of all jews, including today’s . . . perhaps that person should look inside their own heart first.

Would i recommend this movie? Yes and no. i'm not one of those who says "everyone should see this movie." It's not for everyone. i don't see any reason for a non-Christian to see it, other than curiosity. But then a non-Christian might not have the theological background to know why we believe what is onscreen represents a good thing.

Anyone who is dead set against this film or Mel Gibson, probably shouldn't see it. It won't change their mind. But i would recommend it for practicing Christians. At least one viewing, as long as you keep in mind this caveat: it's just a movie, it's one man's interpretation, it's not a substitute for the Gospel.

Posted by annika at 06:27 PM | Comments (9)

February 26, 2004

Democratic Duct Tape

One thing i've learned from tonight's Democratic candidate debate: Ain't nothing wrong in this world that can't be fixed by repealing "George Bush's tax cuts for the rich."

To hear the democrats talk, you'd think "George Bush's tax cuts for the rich" was some sort of magic bottomless bag of money.

Posted by annika at 07:30 PM | Comments (19)

The Passion: Preliminary Thoughts

i plan to see the movie. To prepare, i have avoided reading in depth reviews or listening to any of the talk shows that have devoted hours to uninformed opinions about the movie by people who have not yet seen it. Like anything having to do with religion, everybody has an agenda. It's real tough to find an objective opinion, so i try to stay away from all opinions until i can make up my own mind.

As an amateur historian, one thing i am interested in is whether Mel Gibson will depict the historical crucifiction accurately. i've heard so much about how bloody and violent the movie is. i'll reserve judgment on that until i see it. i think some anti-religious critics might be tempted to over-play the violent imagery in order to scare away viewers.

Most of the pre-release controversy is about the allegation that the movie and/or its director are anti-semitic. Two prominent jews whom i respect, and who have seen the movie, Michael Medved and Dennis Prager, insist that it is not anti-semitic. But again, they may have their own agendas. So i'll reserve judgment on that issue too.

i'll say two other things in advance of my seeing it. First, i don't have a high opinion of Mel Gibson as a director, based on his past work. He is not known for being particularly good at historical accuracy. i did not like Braveheart, which was riddled with innacuracy. Same with Patriot, although i did like that movie better after a second viewing. If there's an excessive amount of blood, it makes me wonder if the moviemaker knew that death from crucifixion usually came about by asphyxiation.

Secondly, i happened to see only one still photo from the movie. It showed a cross that is a bit different from the actual device i believe the historical Jesus carried on the way to Calvary. From what i remember (and sorry i don't have any cite for this, i'm going off memory.) Jesus only carried the crosspiece, called a patibulum. The vertical part of the cross was permanently set up on the hill. In the movie, as in most art, we see Jesus carrying a T shaped cross, but i don't think that's what the historical Jesus carried. i'd also be interested in seeing whether they put the nails in the wrists rather than the palms.

i'm not too concerned when i hear that the movie doesn't focus much on Jesus' teachings. There are plenty of very good movies that cover that already. The Greatest Story Ever Told and Jesus of Nazareth are two that i've seen many times. Lest we forget, for us Christians, Jesus was more than just a nice guy who said a lot of nice stuff. The whole point of his life was that he died, why he died and what his death and resurrection gave to us all.

i'm planning to see the movie this weekend with Betty and her sister, after which i'll let you know how it fared against my expectations.

Posted by annika at 12:44 AM

February 25, 2004

Munuvian Mano A Mano

Now this is a great idea. Two fellow Munuvians, Stephen Macklin and Tuning Spork have decided to meet, eat and compete in a trivia contest. With questions to be submitted by the blogosphere!

They've decided to invite . . . their beloved readers, to pose to them trivia questions in their 5 chosen categories of "expertise". (That doesn't mean that they are, in fact, experts in those categories, but merely that those are the categories in which they'd like to be asked challenging questions!)

Sephen's chosen categories are:
1) Sailboat racing
2) Mac OS
3) Lord of the Rings
4) Food
5) Objectivism

Spork's chosen categories are:
1) The Beatles
2) Watergate
3) Offset printing presses
4) General Relativity and/or Classical Mechanics (non-Quantum Physics)
5) The Simpsons

i think it'll be fun to participate by long distance just thinking up some questions!

Posted by annika at 11:11 PM | Comments (4)

A Religious Question

Anybody know the answer to this question posed by a curious Kinayda?

Why do [Christians] accept only parts of the Bible? When I say Bible, I'm referring to the Five Books of Moses. The 10 commandments are a big deal. Everyone agrees with that, but it's pretty clear from the text that pork is a no no. Why isn't that one followed?
i had a vague theory of my own, but really, i'm curious myself on that one.

Posted by annika at 07:38 PM | Comments (17)


i got an e-mail from a guy i don't know named Parson T. Dogies. the subject of his email is: better than via. Gra . stereophotomicrography.

i've always been interested in science and technology, and i'm curious about this stereophotomicrography, which is a field i've not heard of before.

Should i open it?

Posted by annika at 07:12 PM | Comments (10)

February 24, 2004

Thank You President Bush

As i recently said, i am in favor of same sex marriage. i’ve listened patiently and with an open and sympathetic mind to all the arguments by those opposed to gay and lesbian marriage. While i am respectful of those who hold the traditional view, i have not found any of their arguments persuasive.

Still, i am very happy to hear that President Bush has called for an amendment to the Constitution that would define marriage as “a union of man and woman as husband and wife.” i fully support this move, for reasons that are somewhat different than the president’s.

i have always believed that this very important question should be decided through the political process and not by a handful of non-elected judges. But impatient liberal activists have recognized that their best hope of achieving their goal is not by democratic means, but by judicial fiat and extra-legal executive activism. President Bush explained as much in his speech today.

In recent months . . . some activist judges and local officials have made an aggressive attempt to redefine marriage. In Massachusetts, four judges on the highest court have indicated they will order the issuance of marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender in May of this year. In San Francisco, city officials have issued thousands of marriage licenses to people of the same gender, contrary to the California family code. That code, which clearly defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, was approved overwhelmingly by the voters of California. A county in New Mexico has also issued marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender. And unless action is taken, we can expect more arbitrary court decisions, more litigation, more defiance of the law by local officials, all of which adds to uncertainty.

. . .

On a matter of such importance, the voice of the people must be heard.

i totally agree. Make no mistake about my own beliefs in this matter. Same sex marriage is inevitable. i would rather see it come about in a democratic rather than an autocratic manner. For if the trend towards judicial activism continues unchecked, we will have a lot bigger problems down the road, on much more dangerous issues.

i personally have no doubt that a Defense of Marriage amendment will ultimately fail. You need two thirds twice, and then three quarters. It will never happen. The process takes too long and there will never be more support for the amendment than there is today, because the tide of public opinion is changing every day.

Right now, the president is able to say with accuracy that there is an overwhelming consensus against same sex marriage. But from where i sit, i see an overwhelming majority of people in my peer group and younger who are in favor of gay marriage. As the years go by, it is inevitable that gay marriage opponents will become a minority, just as opponents to segregation have dwindled to near extinction within a generation.

What’s most important to me, even more important than the equal rights issues that concern Mayor Newsom and the Massachusetts Court, is the future of our democracy. And that is why i applaud the president for his call to remove this decision from the courts and return it to the people, where it belongs.

Posted by annika at 06:42 PM | Comments (39)

Dinner Guests From Hell

John at Right Wing News just posted his latest poll: Right-Of-Center Bloggers Select The Dinner Guests From Hell.

[S]elections had to be currently living people from anywhere in the world that they'd really dislike having to sit down with for a long 1 on 1 conversation over dinner. Furthermore, no dictators, terrorists, serial killers, or mass murderers could be selected.
As is my habit, here's John's final list with my comments:

1) Michael Moore (41 [votes]) Easy choice. A blowhard and a liar.

2) Hillary Clinton (25) Also easy. She's so full of herself. i'd imagine her talking and talking, but never listening.

3) Al Franken (19) i wouldn't mind having dinner with him. i don't think he takes himself as seriously as we on the right take him. And, he is a comedian, after all.

3) Barbra Streisand (19) Loud, smug, shrill, unrepentant egomaniac. She made my list.

5) Jacques Chirac (18) He'd probably put the make on me.

6) Al Gore (17) He did not make my list. i dunno. He seems like a bore, but he was vice president for eight years. i'd love to pick his brain about that.

7) Noam Chomsky (16) i would do physical violence to him with whatever eating utensil was handiest.

8) Ted Kennedy (15) i'd totally have dinner with him. No food, just booze. i'd get my own ride home, though.

9) Howard Dean (11) Party dude. Yeeeeaaaah!

9) Jesse Jackson (11) No. He might also make a pass, from what i hear about him.

11) Jimmy Carter (10) Again, former president, of course i'd like to meet him. Supposedly a very nice guy, even if he was worse than shitty as a president.

11) John Kerry (10) Dull, self-important prig. Not well liked apparently. i forgot to put him on my list, but he belongs there.

11) Ted Rall (10) You know, i'm only vaguely aware of who he is. Radical Redneck keeps sending me pictures of him. i guess he's some sort of liberal.

14) Terry McAuliffe (9) Liar. Like Ted Rall, he didn't make my list only because i generally ignore him.

14) Ralph Nader (9) He wasn't on my list, but i wouldn't have dinner with him. He's weird looking.

14) Sean Penn (9) Number 4 on my list.

17) Robert Fisk (8) See my notes on Noam Chomski, supra.

17) Janeane Garofalo (8) See my notes on Noam Chomski, supra.

17) Michael Jackson (8) He was on my list. He's too scary. i'd keep looking at his fake nose, and i wouldn't be able to enjoy my dinner.

20) Alec Baldwin (7) i would throw rocks at him.

20) Paul Krugman (7) Blah blah blah. He didn't make my list.

20) Al Sharpton (7) Al's great. i'd definitely have dinner with him. That would be a lot of fun.

Other names on my list that didn't make it on John's were: Margret Cho, Tim Robins, Rosanne Barr, Dan Rathre, Bill Marr, Erik Roberts and George Cloonie.

Rosy O'Donell and Dan Rathre were honorable mentions on John's list. i can't believe Bill Marr didn't make it over there. Forget his politics, he's simply the most unfunny comedian i've ever heard.

Number one on my list: Rosy O'Donell. She literally makes me nauseous. Not a good thing when your eating dinner.

Posted by annika at 12:15 AM | Comments (12)

February 23, 2004

The Year 1975

Karol at Spot On posted some very interesting facts about the year 1975. An interesting perspective on how much we have changed, or not. Do read the comments too.

Posted by annika at 09:48 PM | Comments (3)

The Return Of The Huge Comment of the Week®

Picking a Huge Comment of the Week® for the week of February 15 through February 21 was difficult for me. Two or three lengthy and civil debates occurred in the comments. The Kerry's Medal post garnered 21 comments. The Judge Warren post yielded 14, and the Scalia At Amherst post topped the list with 22 comments.

So you'd think there'd be a lot of good material for me to choose from when determining the newest winner. Not true.

Yes, there were many comments that were well reasoned and articulately written. In fact, most of them were. Unfortunately, since so many of you visitors chose to disagree with me, i had to throw out all of those comments.*

That left me with a good number of amazingly brilliant comments by one particular commenter whom i happen to think very highly of. That is, of course, me. But it wouldn't really be fair to award the coveted Huge Comment of the Week® award to myself. Heh, i'd win it every week then, wouldn't i?

Well, now that i think about it, maybe that's not such a bad . . .

No, of course not. That wouldn't be nice. So anyway, i agonized over this week's selection more than i usually do. Everyone who took part in the debates of the last week, here on annika's j, deserves their own silver star. Or in some cases, maybe a purple heart.

i had the feeling that i should award a tie. Such a decision would be consistent with my well known fear of commitment, so it made sense to do so. Especially with so many deserving commenters.

But then i came across some information, which i considered sufficient to break the tie in a way that would be manifestly unfair to the other deserving candidates. i found out that one commenter is taking the bar exam this week. Not wishing to distract him with undue worry over the outcome of this latest Huge Comment of the Week®, i have decided to bestow the honor upon Matt Rustler.

The winning comment is Matt's February 20th counter-argument to my counter argument to his counter-argument. The one which prompted him to point out, in his next counter-argument, that i had been "conspicuously silent" in response to some analogies he made in his previous counter-argument. Well Matt, there was a reason i was conspicuously silent, you bastard. Those were tough analogies to defeat. i'm still right, though.

And since Matt has already won the coveted prize once, he gets the very first Huge Comment of the Week® Oak Leaf Cluster! Congratulations Matt, and good luck on the bar!

Then there's D-Rod, who called me a "vile slandering surrogate Bush lackey skankpuppy." That's okay, i consider those compliments. Except for "skankpuppy." i prefer "skank-kitten."

* Just kidding.

Posted by annika at 07:56 PM | Comments (6)

Frank J's Latest Contest

Susie is running Frank J.'s "Super Lucky Happy Fun Permalink Contest Number One II."

If you please, go now to IMAO and vote for the correct contestant.

Posted by annika at 04:07 PM | Comments (1)


i've read a lot of eulogies for Sex and the City over the last week, but none written as beautifully as this one at Candied Ginger. Thank you girls!

Posted by annika at 09:34 AM | Comments (4)

February 22, 2004

Over Reacting To Nader

i don't understand why everyone's freaking out about Nader's announcement to run for president as an independent.


Nobody's gonna vote for him this time. i mean, the democrats may be stupid, but they're not idiots. And the left wing wack-jobs who voted for him last time may be idiots, but they're not stupid.

People who voted for him the last time recognize they made a mistake, and they won't do it again,' predicted Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who is chairman of the Democratic Governors' Association. 'He won't have the resources to mount a major campaign, and people are focused on solutions, not symbols.'
So just calm down freakazoids, have a latté, hug a tree, or whatever. Better yet, take a bath, i promise you'll feel better.

Posted by annika at 08:57 PM | Comments (9)

Officer Down

Sadly, there is also bad news this Sunday. A Los Angeles Police Officer was killed in the line of duty on Friday, while responding to a domestic violence call.

Officer Ricardo Lizarraga, 30, was shot allegedly by Kenrick Johnson, 32, as Lizarraga and his partner confronted Johnson in a South Los Angeles apartment. Lizarraga died Friday afternoon after surgeons at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center fought to save his life.
They caught the guy that did it pretty quickly. i hope they fry him just as quickly. He had a 16 year criminal history, including convictions for robbery, arson, drug dealing and domestic violence.
The suspect in the Lizarraga killing was being held Saturday in Men's Central Jail on suspicion of homicide and violating his parole from a prior robbery conviction, police said.
What disturbs me is the number of people out there who are shooting at police. i had heard that random potshots have been increasing. The L.A. Times article doesn't say whether there's been an increase, but there is this quote by Police Chief Bratton:
At a Saturday afternoon news conference, Bratton said he was incensed by the gunfire directed at members of the force. He said that LAPD officers had been shot at eight times so far in 2004, in addition to 40 such incidents last year.

The police chief blamed a number of factors, but said the primary problem was 'so many people with guns and they're not reluctant to use them — [they're] sociopaths.'

In fact, another LAPD officer was wounded yesterday in the same neighborhood where Officer Lizarraga was killed.
An unidentified undercover officer suffered a graze wound when he and a colleague tried to break up a fight. The scuffle, which included gunshots, had spilled into the street from a party near the intersection of 84th Street and Broadway in South Los Angeles, Bratton said.

The officers, who were searching for a murder suspect, had been watching the party from a van. They were shot at as they identified themselves as police. The officers fired back, killing one suspect who had tried to flee and wounding another.

Another sadly ironic twist was that Thursday, the day before Officer Lizarraga's death, the City of Burbank held a lunch honoring all the people who helped to apprehend the scumbag that killed one of their own officers last November. That manhunt took a lot longer, but they finally caught the guy. I think he was on his way to Mexico.

It's not a good time to be a cop, these days. i'm paying more attention to these stories partly because i'm working on a novel about police. But also, these events hit home because i've always admired police officers. Like firefighters, they go inside places when any other sane person would say, "I ain't goin in there."

Officer Pavelka, the Burbank cop, was my age. He was just doing a routine traffic stop. Officer Lizarraga was trying to pat down the suspect when the guy got away and came back with a gun. He was shot twice, just below the bulletproof vest.

Posted by annika at 12:12 PM | Comments (4)

February 21, 2004

Questions Regarding Kerry's Medal

Emperor Misha linked to an article that asks some questions about Kerry's Silver Star.

Supposedly, a B-40 was fired at the boat and missed. Charlie jumps up with the launcher in his hand, the bow gunner knocks him down with the twin .50, Kerry beaches the boat, jumps off, shoots Charlie, and retreives the launcher. If true, he did everything wrong.

(a) Standard procedure when you took rocket fire was to put your stern to the action and go balls to the wall. A B-40 has the ballistic integrity of a frisbie after about 25 yards, so you put 50 yards or so between you and the beach and begin raking it with your .50's.

(b) Did you ever see anybody get knocked down with a .50 caliber round and get up? The guy was dead or dying. The rocket launcher was empty. There was no reason to go after him . . . .

(c) Kerry got off the boat. This was a major breach of standing procedures. Nobody on a boat crew ever got off a boat in a hot area. EVER! The reason was simple: If you had somebody on the beach, your boat was defenseless. It coudn't run and it couldn' t return fire. It was stupid and it put his crew in danger. He should have been relieved and reprimanded. . . .

Something is fishy.

Here we have a JFK wannabe . . . who is hardly in Vietnam long enough to get good tan, collects medals faster than Audie Murphy in a job where lots of medals weren't common, gets sent home eight months early and requests separation from active duty a few months after that so he can run for Congress. In that election, he finds out war heroes don't sell well in Massachsetts in 1970, so he reinvents himself as Jane Fonda, throws his ribbons in the dirt with the cameras running to jump start his political career, gets [Sen. Claiborne] Pell [D-RI] to invite him to address Congress and has Bobby Kennedy's speechwriter to do the heavy lifting. A few years later he winds up in the Senate himself, where he votes against every major defense bill and says the CIA is irrelevant after the Berlin Wall came down. He votes against the [first] Gulf War . . . then decides not to make the same mistake twice so votes for invading Iraq -- but that didn't fare as well with the Democrats, so he now says he really didn't mean for Bush to go to war when he voted to allow him to go to war.

Maybe it is fishy, but i'm not holding my breath for the media to look into this one anytime soon.

Posted by annika at 06:53 PM | Comments (26)

February 20, 2004

Should Judge Warren Recuse Himself?

There's an interesting comment thread going on in my recent Scalia post that i'd like to open up to a wider discussion. Here's what's happened so far:

First, Coyote brought up a pending case involving Dick Cheney, in which he believes Justice Scalia should recuse himself.


maybe the kids at amherst are protesting the death of credibility of a supreme court justice?

face it, the outright refusal to step away from the cheney case does tend to raise an eyebrow or two.

there is ex parte and then there is EX PARTE..

the supreme court should be far above all appearances of impropriety, and spending a weekend with someone who has a lot to lose in a case that might be decided by your vote does indeed smell a bit inappropriate.

i agree with Coyote. Scalia should recuse himself. Whether or not Scalia can be unbiased is irrelevant. It's the perception of bias and conflict of interest that requires his recusal. Coyote continued:
scalia's actions have nothing to do with left or right. the point is that he is tossing his own credibility out the window by engaging in ex parte communication with someone who has a case in his court.

there are two possible outcomes:

he finds for cheney, thereby removing any chance that his opinions are not seen as partisan political crap. this only serves to taint his leagacy. i'm sure scalia does not want his legacy to be one that screams "bought and paid for".


he finds against cheney in order to save face, thereby screwing the conservative cause of keeping the vp's energy discussions secret. i'm pretty sure that no one on the republican side of the fence wants those dicussions made public, as it would indeed add to list of problems facing the current administration.

if anything, consevatives should be very concerned about such a breech, as any short term victory (cheney winning his case) would be grossly overshadowed by the fact that this inappropriate behavior might well take the teeth out of any future rulings scalia might make. not to mention that the whole thing only serves to chip away at the honor and reputation of the supreme court. those nine are supposed to be above back room politics..

if i were a conservative, i'd be worried shitless that scalia will save his own reputation rather than look like a corrupt ass in the history books.

Then i gave my two cents worth, picking up on the judicial bias and conflict of interest thread, and analogizing the situation with the Mayor Newsom lawsuit and the attempt to block the San Francisco gay marriages by seeking a court injunction. i said:
Judges hate to recuse themselves even when the conflict seems obvious. It's sad. Take for instance Judge Warren, who's going to hear the injunction case against what Mayor Newsom is doing in San Francisco. Judge Warren is gay. Conflict? He apparently doesn't think so.
Then Hugo raised this strong challenge.
Annika, does that line of reasoning mean that Thurgood Marshall should have recused himself from hearing civil rights cases? Or that O'Connor and Ginsburg should recuse themselves from abortion cases? My dear girl, whom I love and admire, you come close to an unpleasant ad hominem argument there...
Then, Coyote said:

maybe judge warren should recuse himself if he was spending the weekend with the mayor of san francisco, chasing boys or whatever.. your intolerance and prejudice are showing here :-(.

you assume that judge warren's sexual preferances will cloud his judgement when it comes to gays?

thats exactly like saying that the revered scalia would not be able to judge fairly on a case involving mr bush sr's son, you know, the guy who was VP when Ronnie Regan appointed him to the court..

im with Hugo on this one.

Et tu Coyote?

i tried to clarify my position.

You don't understand the purpose of recusal. It doesn't matter whether Warren is influenced or not, if he upholds the marriages, his decision will be tainted by the perception of a conflict, the perception of bias, and for that reason he should recuse himself.

Recusal is required not because of a fear of actual bias as much as a concern for perceived bias, which casts doubt on the independence of the judiciary. Apply your own reasoning to Scalia then, why don't you. If he tells us he won't be biased, why shouldn't you believe him and just leave it at that? You said it yourself, whichever way he decides will be tainted because of the perception. That's why he should recuse himself.

It is certainly reasonable for somebody to believe that a gay judge, who is at present personally excluded from participation in marriage, might have a personal interest in the outcome of a case involving the expansion of marriage's definition. He stands to personally gain or lose a fundamental human right, depending on his decision.

The Federal Code of Judicial Conduct says: "Any justice, judge or magistrate of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned." The California Code of Judicial Ethics says the same thing and adds that "a judge shall disclose on the record information that the judge believes the parties or their lawyers might consider relevant to the question of disqualification, even if the judge believes there is no actual basis for disqualification."

And i'm tired of being called prejudiced when it comes to this issue. i support gay marriage. This is a huge issue and i want to see it done right, especially since most of the country is against it. How does that make me prejudiced?

Oh, and, Thurgood Marshall, a personal hero of mine, didn't judge cases like Brown vs. Board of Education because he wouldn't have been allowed to! That's why he argued them instead. And if O'Connor and Ginsberg were pregnant and planning to have an abortion at the time they were hearing an abortion case, absolutely, they should recuse themselves.

Then Matt filed his amicus curiae brief against me. Matt said:
First: I know the question was rhetorical, but I can't resist responding. The last time Scalia voted with the majority was January 26--the last time the Court issued opinions. Scalia's most famous for his dissents, but he doesn't always dissent!

Second: I think the case for recusal for Scalia is much stronger than for Warren. There has to be a reasonable limit on what factors require recusal. Every judge has some interest in most cases, even if it's only in the sense that he agrees or disagrees with the legal principle(s) pertinent to the case. The fact that a judge may have a personal policy preference on an issue does not automatically give rise to a reasonable inference that the judge will allow that preference to improperly influence his decisions (imho, of course). I think the fact that a judge is a member of a minority group is too weak a basis, without more, for requiring that judge to recuse himself from cases involving that minority. It requires us to infer something about the judge's preferences based on his class membership (always an iffy proposition), AND to assume that this speculative, inferred preferences will improperly influence him. By that rationale, it would seem to me that no judge who's a member of a racial minority should ever sit in an employment discrimination or similar civil rights case brought by a minority (or at least a minority from the same group as the judge), no woman judge should ever sit in a sexual harassment case brought by a woman, and very few judges should ever sit in cases involving age discrimination (since judges tend to be older folks). Similarly judges who are devout adherents of most mainstream religions (like Scalia) shouldn't sit in cases involving asserted gay "rights" (since nearly every orthodox religion implicitly or explicitly condemns the idea of gay marriage), and judges who are gun owners shouldn't sit in cases construing the Second Amendment or state equivalents. Etc., etc., ad nauseum.

Of course these are ultimately metaphysical arguments. There's no way for us to know to a certainty what is going on or will go on in a judge's head, so typically all we can do is make educated guesses about what's likely to unduly influence him/her. But those guesses can't be knee-jerk; there has to be a little reasoned analysis. It's not "unreasonable" in the common sense of the world to think that membership in a general class is prima facie evidence of potential bias significant enough to require recusal. But I think it's "unreasonable" in any sense of the word that takes into account the realities of our judicial system.

Matt, i'm tempted to take back all the nice things i said about you. ; )

Scipio added some background:

Chief Justice John Marshall refused to recuse himself from several cases that he had been involved in; one where he had been a lawyer for one side; another where he had been a judge on the case previously; and a third where he had a demonstrable pecuniary interest in the case.
And Coyote further clarified his own position:

What i meant about the prejudice is along the lines of what Matt has written. you pre judged that warren cannot make a just ruling because he belongs to the minority involved in the case.

the whole anology is some distance from scalia's predicament, when a week-end long ex parte sesssion with someone who has a case in front of him is most certainly a valid reason for a recusal.

but.. from the arguments you have made, it appears that you would indeed agree that scalia's best course would be to recuse himself.

That is correct, Scalia should recuse himself. He won't, though. Just as Judge Warren won't. Like i said, judges hate to recuse themselves.

But still, i think my opponents are missing my point. It's the perception of bias and the perception of conflict that requires recusal. It doesn't matter whether Warren can give an unbiased ruling. i'm not arguing one way or another whether he is in fact biased. It doesn't matter. He stands to gain from the outcome of the case. That's obvious. At present, as a gay man, he does not have the right to marry another man. It is now within his power to help give himself that right. That's a conflict. He should recuse himself because the perception of judiciary independence and non-bias is at risk if he doesn't.

Ask youself this. If you were a lawyer for the plaintiffs, would you consider appealing an adverse ruling on the injunction, based on Judge Warren's conflict? Of course you would. You'd be an idiot not to. If you support gay marriage, why give the plaintiff's that appealable issue?

What if this were about money? Maybe you'd be able to recognize the obvious conflict better. What if Judge Warren owned a '92 Taurus and a class action case came before him, brought by plaintiffs who claimed that all owners of '92 Ford Tauri deserved compensation for some defect. If the judge ruled in their favor, he would gain a benefit that he did not have before hearing the case. Should he recuse himself then? What if you and i both agreed that Judge Warren is a man of integrity who would not let his personal stake in the outcome affect his decision? The answer is clear. He should still recuse himself.

Matt said "The fact that a judge may have a personal policy preference on an issue does not automatically give rise to a reasonable inference that the judge will allow that preference to improperly influence his decisions." Of course. But when it is within a judge's power to give himself a benefit that he would not otherwise have, there is a reasonable question raised about his impartiality. The standard is not the actual existence of partiality or bias. How could one ever prove that? It's an objective standard. Does it look like he might not be impartial. If the judge stands to gain personally by the outcome, i believe the conflict is obvious.

Matt also makes other analogies, such as "it would seem to me that no judge who's a member of a racial minority should ever sit in an employment discrimination or similar civil rights case brought by [that] minority . . . no woman judge should ever sit in a sexual harassment case brought by a woman . . ."

Those examples are different than the situation with the gay marriage injunction. A woman judge does not stand to personally gain anything or lose anything by her rulings in a sexual harrassment case involving an individual plaintiff. Only the plaintiff can gain or lose, monetary damages in that case. In a sense, a woman judge gains when the rights of all women are upheld, but i agree that's not enough to require recusal. How could the system be arranged otherwise?

My point is, as a supporter of gay marriage, i want to see it done right. Ideally i'd have liked to have seen this kind of social progress made through the political peocess. By that i mean through acts of a legislature of elected representatives, not unelected judges. But, i'm realistic, too. This country is a long way from expanding the right to marry by legislative means. By going through the courts, Newsom and his supporters have forced the issue, and if it has to happen that way, i'd like to see it done with as much legitimacy as possible.

Posted by annika at 11:10 AM | Comments (14)

February 19, 2004

The Best Sports News In Years

AstroTurf maker Southwest Recreational Industries is going out of business. Professional athletes and their knees have every right to be happy about this. As a sports purist, i believe football and baseball should be played on grass, not carpet, and i hope that no other companies sprout up to replace SRI.

Posted by annika at 01:53 AM | Comments (6)

February 18, 2004

Scalia At Amherst

Noel at Consent of the Governed posted about Antonin Scalia's recent visit to Amherst College in Massachussetts, and the rude reception he got there.

As a Berkeley grad, this type of idiotic and childish behavior by academics and their brainwashed students shouldn't surprise me. But still, sometimes i am shocked. i guess i'm naive enough to believe that a university is a place where the "marketplace of ideas" concept should be encouraged.

Students wore black armbands to Scalia's address. Besides it being incredibly rude, what was the point of the black armband protest? Did somebody die?

[S]tudent groups, including the Pride Alliance, the Feminist Alliance, and College Democrats, decided that . . . [d]uring Justice Scalia's lecture, according to their official 'instructions,' members of these groups will wear black armbands to symbolize their mourning over the Justice's decisions. Other groups will wave homemade signs during the lecture, stand in protest, and chant slogans.
What decisions? When was the last time Scalia voted in the majority on anything?

So childish.

A column by Ethan Davis of The Claremont Institute cites an example of the type of free discourse on might find at Amherst:

Austin Sarat, the professor of law, jurisprudence and social thought who was one of the signers of the faculty boycott letter [against Scalia], delivered a long monologue. 'The scope of legitimate debate on a college campus is narrower than in the world at-large,' he declared. 'Whether homosexuals are covered under the equal protection clause is not a debatable subject on a college campus.'
Huh? Everything should be debatable on a college campus. Isn't that called free speech? i guess not. As Davis points out, at Amherst is symptomatic of what's happening at many other universities.
Legitimate discourse . . . begins after the acceptance of a radical left agenda.

These are the same academics who complain that their ideas are censored and repressed by the outside world. But conservatives who disagree are 'divisive,' and their 'reactionary' viewpoints cannot be tolerated.

Sometimes i wonder how i managed to escape my own college education with my sanity intact.

Update: It's not always bad on every college campus. Look at this report from Powerline.

Posted by annika at 07:58 PM | Comments (22)

Format Question

i'm considering removing the calendar from the sidebar. i never use it. I'm curious about whether any of you find it useful, and if so how. Either on your own blog or when visiting other MT blogs. Similarly, if you never use it, i'd like to know that too.

Update: The tribe has spoken. Kiss it goodbye.

Posted by annika at 07:20 PM | Comments (9)

February 17, 2004

Satirical Political Test

Check out this "Humorous Political Party Quiz to Test If You're an Archconservative, Leftwing Wacko, Antigovernment Libertine or a Commie Sympathizer," to which i was alerted through the magic of e-mail.

Posted by annika at 09:51 PM | Comments (1)

Requiem For A Dean

A couple of good requiems for Howard Dean can be found here:

Danny O'Brien applies the five Kübler-Ross stages of Death to Howard Dean's campaign. Nice Job, D.

Matt at Blackfive goes Elton John on Howie. Pretty classic, Matt.

Posted by annika at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

Sports Analogy

Howard Dean is the Dan Jansen of American politics. Remember Dan Jansen, the speed skater? He was supposed to win every race, but he kept falling down. He wouldn't quit, though.

Posted by annika at 02:15 PM | Comments (3)

Best Kerry Related One Liner That i Plan To Steal And Tell All My Co-Workers Tomorrow

Sometimes Kerry has simultaneous flashbacks to fighting in Vietnam and being a Vietnam War protestor, causing him to spit on himself.

Thanks, Frank.

Posted by annika at 12:05 AM | Comments (5)

February 16, 2004

Shameless Self Promotion

i did a cheesy thing. Maybe you've seen the new link on the sidebar. i opened up my own cafepress.com page. i know, i know, but it was so fun to design the stuff.

i didn't mention it until now because i was waiting for my annika's journal coffee mug to arrive. Now that i've seen the product, i am impressed. The mug came out much better than i had expected.

So now the annika's journal shop is open for business. Hey, if Kylie Minogue can sell panties with her lips all over them, i can offer you a mug to put your own lips on.

(Does this mean we'll be seeing Old Skool or Matt wearing the Kylie panties anytime soon?)

Posted by annika at 11:22 PM | Comments (8)

Civil Disobedience?

Question: Is there any difference between what Mayor Gavin Newsom is doing and what Judge Roy Moore did?

Answer: Yes. One is pursuing a liberal goal and will be hailed as a hero, while the other pursued a conservative goal and has been condemned to a lifetime of obloquy.

Update: Does Rush Limbaugh read my blog? He'd never admit it if he did. But he made the above point almost word for word during his third hour today.

Update 2: It never fails. Just when i think i've had an original thought, within a day or two i find out some other blogger has thought of it first. Ouch, just when i was starting to think i was all that.

Looks like Rod Dreher at The Corner made the Moore/Newsom connection a few hours before i did. i guess this means Rush probably didn't steal the idea from me.



DAMN You to hell.

Posted by annika at 02:49 PM | Comments (35)

Why i Can't Watch The Debates

i watched the democrats debate each other for three minutes and i had to turn it off. Never mind the lies and demagoguery, they offended me by their ignorance of history.

On the eve of Presidents Day, John Edwards said that three of our great wartime presidents had no military experience: Woodrow Wilson, FDR and Abraham Lincoln. Wrong. Abraham Lincoln was a captain in the Illinois militia during the Blackhawk War of 1832. He volunteered and served 90 days, which may seem short, but the war only lasted four months.

John Kerry, who's whole candidacy revolves around his military experience, said that Vietnam was our nation's longest war. Wrong. Vietnam was 1961 to 1975, fourteen years. Some historians date The Plains Indian Wars from the 1854 Grattan Massacre to Sitting Bull's surrender in 1881. That's twenty-seven years. Other historians might even extend it nine more years to 1890 and the Battle of Wounded Knee.

Other things bothered me too. i loved how Kerry said: "There's only one thing wrong with the Patriot Act. Two words: John Ashcroft." Well, i wonder how Mr. Kerry can explain why he voted for it then, since John Ashcroft was Attorney General at the time.

Then there's the tired old line about how the prescription drug benefit is only a way to give tax money to the drug companies and the HMOs. Somebody please explain to me how else that program is supposed to work. Instead of the money coming from the elderly, now it comes from the government. Somebody has to pay for the drugs. Did they expect the pharmaceutical companies to give the stuff away for free?

Update: Another excellent point at Blather Review.

Posted by annika at 01:18 AM | Comments (8)

February 14, 2004

Be My Valentine


Happy Valentine's Day to all of you, my wonderful visitors! May Cupid be good to you all. Don't eat too much chocolate.

Love, annie.

Posted by annika at 01:40 PM | Comments (8)

February 13, 2004

Kerry Takes Page From Clinton Playbook

Remember when President Clinton decided, soon after the Lewinsky scandal broke, that admitting the truth might hurt him, so he told Dick Morris "I guess we'll just have to win then."

It looks like Kerry has decided to do the same thing. i really can't blame him. i mean, Clinton did win in the end, didn't he? The country lost, but Clinton beat the rap.

Via brainstorming, this Reuters story:

U.S. Democratic presidential front-runner John Kerry on Friday denied a report that he had had an extramarital affair with a young woman.

Asked about the report by Internet Web site operator Matt Drudge, Kerry told reporters on his campaign: 'I just deny it categorically. It's rumor. It's untrue. Period.'

After denying the report, Kerry added: 'And that's the last time I intend to.'

Drudge, who broke the Monica Lewinsky scandal involving former President Bill Clinton, on Thursday said Kerry had had a two-year relationship, beginning in early 2001, with a young woman who had since left the country.

As Kerry himself said, "Bring . . . it . . . on."

Emperor Misha still has the best take on this whole sad mess:

[W]e won't know the truth until Jean-Pierre Kerry stops 'stonewalling' and releases all the records of every single sexual encounter he's had for the last 30 years complete with DNA samples, pictures and audio recordings, not to mention affidavits from his partners, notarized and in triplicate. Until then, we must assume he's guilty. Isn't that how it goes nowadays?

Posted by annika at 07:56 PM | Comments (12)

February 12, 2004

Elemental annika

i think it may be a sign of something when my blog makes the periodic table of elements. A sign of what, i don't know. But apparently i have a new elemental symbol: Na. It's on the Humbug blogroll which takes the form of a Periodic Table.

Now on the one hand, i should be flattered that i'm to be found where Einsteinium or Fermium might normally be on the real table. Bottom row of the actinide series, which would make me one of the rare earths. That sounds flattering, except Humbug has labelled that row the "obscuroid series," which doesn't sound too good.

There's no indication of my atomic number, so i'm calling "100," because it's such a nice round number.

Scorebard has a pretty cool design going, too. i like the tab navigation and i dig the baseball poetry.

Posted by annika at 07:36 PM | Comments (7)

Ihrem Ende Eilen Sie Zu . . .

. . . die so stark in Bestehen sich wähnen.

This new Kerry scandal allegation just hit my ears. My first thought is that it doesn't matter, we've been through presidential candidate sex scandals before and we're beyond that now.

On the other hand, since we've been through it already, why would we want to go through it again? No matter what side of the Starr/Clinton fight you were on, you have to agree that it hamstrung the former president during his second term, making him largely innefective in office. That's arguably not good no matter what party you are from.

The Kerry news is cited as the reason Clark stepped back from endorsing Kerry and why Dean has not yet pulled out.

. . . Fast schäm' ich mich, mit ihnen zu schaffen.

i also heard on Medved's show that the new Kerry scandal arose from an investigation done by former Gore and Clark advisor Chris Lehane. i suggested earlier that Lehane's backbiting tactics would come back to haunt the Democrats, and that appears to now be the case. Although i'm skeptical whether this scandal will have legs, i'm also hopeful that it will indeed hasten them to their end.

Update: So far, outside the blogosphere, nobody but Drudge and talk radio will touch this story yet.

Update 2: It's simply hilarious how the old media refuses to mention this story. Do they really think they can ignore the blogosphere? Their arrogance is amazing.

On CNN, Aaron Brown went through tomorrow's newspaper front pages from around the world. He skipped the National Enquirer's, of course, even though i seem to remember him holding up the Weekly World News in the past.

It's not that CNN is reluctant to go with the story because they don't want to publish unconfirmed scurrilous rumors. No, it can't be that, because while i was watching and waiting for someone to mention the Kerry story, i saw them promote an upcoming interview segment dealing with the scurrilous and unsubstantiated rumor that Bush paid for some chick's abortion.

It reminds me of how the L.A. Times published every thin rumor they could about Schwarzenegger, while ignoring the story about Davis's physical and verbal abuse of his female staffers. It all depends on who's side the subject of the rumor is on.

Lou Dobbs pointed to the following curiously timed poll question for tonight's audience: "Do you believe that personal and private matters should be left entirely out of presidential politics?" ("No" is winning by almost two to one.) It's interesting that this sort of subtle push poll question would come out tonight.

Even Bill O'Reilly wouldn't discuss the story, although he made mention of certain "rumors circulating on the internet," in order to instruct his guest not to talk about them. Well, we all know how Bill feels about the blogosphere. His Talking Points was a plea to leave the past alone in presidential campaigning. Presumably, that would leave Bill open to talk about Kerry's present affair, if and when he and the rest of the old media deign to pronounce the subject "newsworthy."

Update 3: Question to the old media: If we don't deserve to know about Kerry's sexual habits because it's just about sex and it's irrelevant, then why the 24 hour wall to wall coverage of Janet's boob? Last i heard, Janet was not trying to be elected leader of the free world.

Posted by annika at 01:50 PM | Comments (8)

"Bush And I Were Lieutenants"

Read this letter to the editor published in the Washington Times, written by Col. William Campenni (ret.), who served in the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Texas Air National Guard from 1970 to 1971. It hits all the points and i must say, it confirms some of what i wrote in my F-102 post of February 5, 2004.

The key quotes, from my point of view are this one:

The mission of the 147th Fighter Group and its subordinate 111th FIS, Texas ANG, and the airplane it possessed, the F-102, was air defense. It was focused on defending the continental United States from Soviet nuclear bombers. The F-102 could not drop bombs and would have been useless in Vietnam. A pilot program using ANG volunteer pilots in F-102s (called Palace Alert) was scrapped quickly after the airplane proved to be unsuitable to the war effort. Ironically, Lt. Bush did inquire about this program but was advised by an ANG supervisor (Maj. Maurice Udell, retired) that he did not have the desired experience (500 hours) at the time and that the program was winding down and not accepting more volunteers.
and this one:
The Bush critics do not comprehend the dangers of fighter aviation at any time or place, in Vietnam or at home, when they say other such pilots were risking their lives or even dying while Lt. Bush was in Texas. Our Texas ANG unit lost several planes right there in Houston during Lt. Bush's tenure, with fatalities. Just strapping on one of those obsolescing F-102s was risking one's life.
and also:
[T]he Kerrys, Moores and McAuliffes are casting a terrible slander on those who served in the Guard, then and now. . . . In the Cold War, the air defense of the United States was borne primarily by the Air National Guard, by such people as Lt. Bush and me and a lot of others. Six of those with whom I served in those years never made their 30th birthdays because they died in crashes flying air-defense missions.

While most of America was sleeping and Mr. Kerry was playing antiwar games with Hanoi Jane Fonda, we were answering 3 a.m. scrambles for who knows what inbound threat over the Canadian subarctic, the cold North Atlantic and the shark-filled Gulf of Mexico.

Link thanks to Prof. Hewitt.

Posted by annika at 11:19 AM | Comments (3)

Crappy Microsoft

i heard on the news that Microsoft has a new patch that will cure some sort of security flaw in the computer that might allow someone to access and take control of my computer! They said it was critical to update with the patch and that it should be done immediately.

That sounded pretty scary and the fact that they were so vague about the vulnerability made me think that there were bad people out there actively looking for foolish computer users who hadn't downloaded the patch "immediately."

So i went to the Microsoft site and downloaded the thing. It went okay, but they didn't warn me that it would take all fucking night to load! i asked my dad the other day when he thought computers might be perfected and he said "when there's no more Microsoft."

Posted by annika at 01:22 AM | Comments (9)

February 09, 2004

Idiot Alert

Fail me once, shame on you.

Fail me twice, shame on me.

Fail me forty-seven times, shame on the California Bar examiners . . .

Would you hire this lawyer?

And what does this idiot intend to do now?

He wants to challenge laws denying ex-felons the right to vote. He hopes to file a class-action suit in the next six months.
My dad was right. There's too many damn lawyers in this state.

Posted by annika at 01:18 AM | Comments (9)

February 08, 2004

Kevin Kim Is Insane

Seriously, wonderfully, deliciously, off the fucking deep end, insane.

Posted by annika at 10:37 AM | Comments (4)

February 07, 2004

Friday Night With annika In The Seventeenth Century Manner

This evening dined with Mr. Jason, and my lady Betty, and her gentleman, which occasioned our thinking and remarking upon the happy life that we live now, having we nothing to care for but ourselves. Mr. Jason treated me most nobly, procuring a great platter of ribbonned dough seasoned in the Sicilian manner, and many flagons of ale and a bottle of wine, which was of very great flavour.

All our discourse and others are of his excellency's election, and we begin to speak of it very freely, and of Mr. Dean's outcry and of Mr. Kerry, who does wish to renounce the parliament and reside at his excellency's manse, supplanting his excellency thereby. Strange how these people do now promise anything: to each pauper a station, to each guild a full purse of coin, to each gentleman wisened with years a vessel of chemist's physic. I pray God to keep me from being too much lifted up thereby.

After that we went forth onto the high street and looked to buy a pair of tanned boots of sorrel hue and belt and hose, and finding none, after that Mr. Jason and the other gentleman led us to Brittania Tavern in Saint Monica's Lane, where Mr. H and Mr. S were, and we drank a great deal more of ale, and malted whiskey, and outside smoked the tobacco weed, and they paid all.

From thence to the Yankee Doodle tavern, where standing at the door Miss D comes by, with her gentleman, and the two of them appearing very fond and loving to the other, and filled with drink. It pleasing us to admit them into our companie, we entered the tavern thusly and much merry making and reverie did come to pass, whilst betimes our gentlemen made to wager after the carom of the billiard.

After that took leave of our friends, who each of them was very sorry to part with us and such, and returned by my lady's carriage to Brent's Wood, and disembarking at the mews, retired by a lift conveyance to our dwelling flat, wherein we sat and talked, and beheld the television device before repairing to our respective chambers.

While in the midst of my ablutions and preparation for the bedchamber, did rang out from the telephone apparatus the announcement of my gentleman's very presence at the vestibule of our dwelling abode, though he bade us farewell but three quarters of the hour past. Still sleepy with drink and attired for the night, yet i took the gentleman into my chambers upstairs, and there did we dally a great while, drinking a mild beverage and talking till the gentleman began to be most loving to me and kind, whereupon was sustained the Latin nulla puella negat, but happily.

Posted by annika at 02:26 PM | Comments (14)

February 06, 2004

Happy Birthday President Reagan

RR 12-07-88.jpg

This is one of my favorite pictures of Ronald Reagan. With the Statue in the background it's so allegorical, isn't it?

He was, and is, a truly great man.

Posted by annika at 07:13 PM

Did You Know About This?

i just checked out CW's blog, nosuchblog. He has a post about a disturbing occurrance that i hadn't heard about before. A Boeing 727 disappeared last year and no one knows where it is.

When last seen, the 727 was being taxied to the runway without clearance by a known airplane "repo man" from Miami named Ben Padilla.
Padilla? Shit, i hope it's no relation to the other . . .

Whew, apparently not.

There are actually a lot of jetliners out there being operated "on a shoestring" by various fly-by-night charter operators . . . . Occasionally the charter operators default on the lease, and the owners will send an airplane repo man to get the jet back.

. . .

But what makes this case unusual is the 727 never showed up anywhere in the world. Despite a concentrated search by the world's security services, there hasn't been a trace of the missing airplane since it took off from Luanda. What makes this case more interesting is the economics of old 727s. They generally aren't worth much. The cost of stealing one, flying it around the world, repainting, and refitting it is generally more than it is worth. You'd be better served to simply buy a nicer one close to where you are.

That's what makes me suspicious. i'm not generally a conspiracy nut, but a stolen jetliner sure would help a terrorist get around the flight 93 problem. Apparently, before this plane was taken, it had been refitted to hold extra fuel.
A big suspicion, because of the extra internal fuel, was that terrorists had procured the aircraft to use in a Sept 11-style attack. This is why just about everyone in the world was looking for this plane.
Be on the lookout, they haven't found it yet.

Update: At Freedom of Thought, Claudia posted this e-mail, supposedly from Mr. Padilla's brother, and this update back in August.

Posted by annika at 12:11 PM | Comments (13)

February 05, 2004

GWB's Airplane

Without entering the fray on the AWOL controversy, (You probably can guess where i come down on that one, anyway.) i wanted to shed some light on the plane George W. Bush learned to fly back in the day. Kind of a bookend to my famous post on his father’s plane (and this gives me an excuse to recycle that link yet again).

Truth be told, the F-102A was almost obsolete by the time George W. Bush began flying them. But in it’s day, Convair’s Delta Dagger was pretty badass. It was billed as the first supersonic all weather fighter. It first flew in 1955 and began operational service about two years after the Korean armistice. Nine hundred and seventy-five were built by the Convair division of General Dynamics between 1955 and 1960. It was used sparingly in Vietnam. Later, some planes were sold to The Greek and Turkish air forces, and it flew during the Cyprus conflict of 1974.

It was big. If i’m not mistaken, i think it was the biggest fighter we’ve ever had. At over 68 feet long, it was almost six feet longer than the F-4E Phantom, which was no midget itself. But with only one engine, the Delta Dagger weighed half as much as an F-4.


The weight difference makes sense when you consider the mission of the F-102A. It’s kind of misleading to call it a fighter, because that’s a term that encompasses a wide variety of planes that were designed to do vastly different things. It’s more accurate to call the Delta Dagger an interceptor.

To understand the job of an interceptor, as opposed to a pure air superiority fighter, you have to remember what we were afraid of back in the Fifties and early Sixties. These were the early years of the Cold War, before intercontinental ballistic missiles. If a nuclear war happened, it would have been fought by long range bombers penetrating the enemy’s homeland to drop bombs just like in World War II.

To defend against these long range bombers, the superpowers relied on early warning radar to detect an attack and interceptors to stop it. The idea was to shoot down the bombers as far away from the homeland as possible. Early warning radars needed to detect the bombers while they were still far enough away for the defending interceptors to take off and get within range.

Thus, speed was the one overwhelming requirement for a true interceptor. Maneuverability was not so important. These planes were like dragsters, not formula one cars. They needed to get within range of the bombers fast, so they could shoot them down before the bombers crossed into homeland territory or got near their targets. The Delta Dagger had no guns; interceptors weren’t intended for dogfighting.

We had the Delta Dagger, and it’s unbelievably fast successor, Convair’s F-106 Delta Dart. The Russians came up with the Yakovlev Yak-28 and the huge Tupolev Tu-28 Fiddler. Perhaps since it was the first of its kind, Bush’s Dagger was relatively slow compared to the Delta Dart and the Russian Fiddler. The Dagger’s top speed was only 825 mph, while the Dart went 1,587 mph.

The strategy was for interceptor units to be ready to scramble on a moment’s notice, in the event of a nuclear attack. They would race towards the incoming bombers and fire air-to-air missiles as soon as they came into missile range. i would guess that the range of an interceptor was important, but then the range of the air to air missiles would be added to the aircraft range.

i don't want to sound like i’m minimizing the contributions of the brave pilots who flew the F-102A. Those men stood guard so my parents could sleep at night during a very dangerous period of the Cold War. Still, flying the F-102 was not the same as flying a Phantom over Vietnam. Interceptor pilots sort of pointed their plane in the right direction and stomped on the gas pedal. The radar automatically guided the plane into attack position and fired the missiles.

Thankfully, we never discovered whether interceptors would have been enough to stop a nuclear bomber attack. There was a period of time when military planners thought that the wave of the future would be faster and faster bombers. But that ended in the early 1970s when strategic planning had abandoned the idea of nuclear bombers penetrating enemy territory. The new method of nuclear war relied on inter-continental ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and submarine launched missiles. Obviously the interceptor was no defense against these newer strategic weapons. The nuclear missile made the long range bomber obsolete. And when the bomber was no longer needed, the interceptors became extinct too.

Although the Delta Dagger remained in service until 1974, the U.S. Air Force began moving its interceptors to National Guard units at the end of the sixties. So by the time George W. Bush graduated from his T-33A trainer into an F-102A at Ellington AFB, his unit’s mission had already begun the transition from air defense on 24 hour alert status to pilot training.

It’s a tricky thing to try to place a value on one individual’s service in the Armed Forces. Who am i to judge? i have a friend who has the seemingly cushy task of serving on the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman as an administrative clerk. Besides the fact that she’s sitting in a gigantic floating target, she’s doing a hell of a lot more to serve her country than i am doing, even if her duties are somewhat mundane. i would never denigrate her service, because she volunteered and every person in the military is there to protect me.

Obviously, flying an obsolete plane in a training squadron is different than driving a boat in the Mekong Delta. Still, they also serve who only stand and wait. Bush had the misfortune (or good fortune, depending on your perspective) of being born a few years too late for his chosen mission. We shouldn’t hold it against him that he became an interceptor pilot at a time when that mission was winding down for reasons he probably was not aware of when he joined. If he had served in the 147th Fighter Interceptor Group a few years earlier, he would have been on the front lines of the Cold War, a far more important and potentially dangerous war than Kerry’s Vietnam. i don’t think that lessens the value of his service to our country one bit.

Bonus trivia question: What is the plane in the picture doing?

Posted by annika at 12:09 AM | Comments (29)

February 04, 2004

Brilliant Satire

Once again, Frank J. has outdone himself. Read his satire of the typical Democratic Underground.com comment thread, which can be used equally well with any topic.

Posted by annika at 06:21 PM | Comments (7)

Lincoln/Bush Parallel?

This piece at Free Republic.com appealed to my love of historical irony so much, i am reprinting it in full here:

We must fact the fact that our Republican president was a DESERTER! He never even served in the REAL military. Instead he was in the Illinois state militia during the Blackhawk War and NEVER saw any combat. Captain Abraham Lincoln even admitted years later that the worst he suffered in the Blackhawk War was a bunch of mosquito bites. Not only that, even though Captain Abraham Lincoln mustered out of the militia on July 10, 1832, there is NO RECORD of a Captain Abraham Lincoln being in the militia (not a REAL army) from May 27, 1832 to July 10, 1832. One can only conclude, despite any facts to the contrary, that Abraham Lincoln was a DESERTER. At the very least he was AWOL.

Contrast that sad military record with that of our great Democrat, George McClellan who bravely faced down Quaker Guns outside Richmond, VA in 1862. McClellan, who is now running for president, is absolutely correct in his assertion that Lincoln is a miserable failure as a president especially since he did not seek the advice and consent from our European allies in the War of Rebellion. I look forward to a political campaign featuring a distinguished REGULAR military officer with a chest full of medals up against a Republican deserter who slacked off in the militia, not the REAL army. One candidate spent the war slacking off and suffering from nothing more than a bunch of mosquito bites and the other candidate is a genuine WAR HERO who did not desert.

This November the choice is yours. VOTE for the Democrat candidate WAR HERO....NOT the Republican deserter.

p.s. Did I mention that the Democrat candidate is a WAR HERO?

Note: the "Quaker Gun" reference is a bit obscure. Quaker Guns were logs painted to resemble cannons, which were placed by the defenders of Richmond to fool McLellan into believing he faced a stronger Confederate force than he actually did. McLellan took the bait and refused to move on the Confederate works, continually asking Lincoln for more men and more time. Until the Seven Days battles, when McLellan was whipped good by Robert E. Lee, cementing McLellan's reputation as a coward and Lee's as a genius. Read aboout it here and here.

Link thanks to Professor Hewitt.

Posted by annika at 04:38 PM | Comments (5)

February 03, 2004


Because i'm big enough to admit it when i'm wrong, even if belatedly, i want to point out that the following statement was made in error:

What about Edwards and Kerry? In my crystal ball, the only question is whether Edwards and Kerry will endorse Dean or Clark after they drop out.
Brain fart.

In my own defense, i wrote that on January 16th, before Iowa, and nobody was giving Kerry or Edwards any chance back then. The media, with their far left goggles had fallen in love with Dean. Everyone else, including me, felt a temptation to accept the media's skewed judgement without question. In reality, the rank and file Democrat always had doubts about Dean, thus the "apparent" Kerry surge. i think media pundits and bloggers, on the left and the right, were hoodwinked by a little wishful thinking in regards to Dean. i can understand the traditional media falling for him and missing Kerry, but we bloggers are supposed to know better. We're the "new media" after all.

Posted by annika at 07:37 PM | Comments (17)

February 02, 2004

What i Did On MLK Day

i promised you news of my doings during my recent trip to Detroit. We didn't work on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so our hosts gave us tickets to the North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Center. Always thinking of you, my visitors, i took some photographs of the cars that really impressed me.

Outside it was freezing cold. i'm not used to it. i'm a Californian, my nordic blood notwithstanding. Snow is something that belongs in the mountains. You ski on it. You don't drive on it. 50° is about as cold as i want it to be outside. Not fucking 20°!


There were five of us. Paul and i were the two senior paralegals, Linda and Grace the two associates, and Patricia the temp paralegal. The other temp, Kathy, stayed in the hotel room nursing the flu, which she eventually passed on to the rest of us.

The convention center was a sea of people. On the day we were there, the attendance was 41,415! And at any given time, at least one of the five of us was lost. Someone was always lagging behind, gawking at a vehicle, or in Paul's case, gawking at a spokesmodel. We used up a lot of cellphone minutes just trying to keep track of each other. Here's a view of the bedlam that greeted us inside the Cobo center.

inside the Cobo

One of the first cars that caught our eye was this Lincoln convertible concept car. Everything is going retro these days, but i think Ford did a real nice job on this baby. A little stodgy for my taste, but cool nonetheless. One thing i really liked was the pale cream colored leather interior. It was almost bluish; i've never seen a color like it. The official pictures are here.

Lincoln Mk X

No one does retro like Jaguar, though.


The Pontiac Solstice will be available next year, so i was told. It looks great, but i remember how shitty the Fiero was. Hopefully Pontiac has learned their lesson.


About lunchtime we all went out to the concession stands and paid through the nose for some hot dogs and sodas, which they called "pop." There was some sort of rock band playing music in the arena and we hung out there while we ate. Unfortunately, being the only smoker in the group i had to duck outside and freeze my ass to keep my nicotine levels up. Paul was nice enough to accompany me and chase away any homeless dudes, while i smoked.

We all kidded Linda about getting a new car. She makes a shitload of money, but she's still driving the same car she had in law school. A beat up Corolla from the eighties! She doesn't want to get rid of it because it's paid for and it still runs great. But we made it our mission to select Linda's next car and then apply relentless pressure on her until she buys it. My pick was this thing:

Subaru Roadster

Too bad it's only a concept car and not on the market yet. It's called the Subaru B9SC Roadster, it's a hybrid and it is phat! Official pics are here. The windshield is made of special glass that changes the tint like some sunglasses do. Confidentially, i think Linda needs to upgrade her image to something sportier. Maybe this car will be available for sale by the time her Toyota finally craps out on her.

Paul noted that Linda's style is, shall we say, simple, tasteful, conservative . . . maybe somewhat dowdy. i don't think she considered that a compliment. At any rate, Paul encouraged her to stay with what made her comfortable. His choice for Linda's next vehicle was the Chrysler 300. That didn't go over too well either. i didn't take a picture of it, but here's what it looks like. Contemporarily stodgy. A bit more mature than my friend would like to go.

i think we all agreed on Linda's future car when we saw the new BMW mini SUV. We fell in love with it. It's called the X3. i sat in it and it's wonderful. So comfy. i just love the seats in german cars.

i didn't take any pictures of the X3 because it was at that moment that i heard music and birds singing and a heavenly light shone down and i became dizzy with feelings of intense desire. i saw this vehicle:

BMW 645ci

Oh yes, my darlings. BMW has revived the 6 series. In convertible. i stood there slack jawed and repeated to myself, "yes . . . yes . . . yes . . . 645ci, you are mine, baby!" Sure i'll never be able to afford it without marrying rich. But lemme dream, okay? i would look so damn good driving along Sunset in that bitch with the top down at a ridiculously high rate of speed. i get all weak and tingly just thinking about it. Gaze at these official pics, if you will. It's simply gorgeous.

After they dragged me away from my new love, we all went back to the hotel to rest and get ready for the evening. We met up with some of the in-house people for our client, who drove us down to a place called Dave & Buster's, which is apparently a chain, although it was the first i'd heard of them. They make a very good desert with bananas and caramel sauce.

The place is like an adult video arcade. Paul was in heaven. i tried a few of the shooting games, but i really liked the airplane simulator, even though i kept crashing. We had fun even though we couldn't get rip-roaring drunk like we wanted. We tried to keep up appearances since we were with the client's employees and we had to work early the next day.

And that was how i spent my MLK day.

Posted by annika at 10:33 PM | Comments (5)

Happy Groundhog Day

"Rise and shine, campers, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today!"

Ha ha. i love the movie. Bill Murray is the best. i laugh and cry and think, every time i see it.

"A thousand people, freezing their butts off, waiting to worship a rat."

Posted by annika at 03:44 PM | Comments (4)

February 01, 2004

Give Tony Some Love

Tony Pierce's new project, Lick Magazine, was launched today at halftime of the [Most Excellent] Bowl. i read through it and hereby pronounce it to be rad, very rad.

Posted by annika at 11:00 PM | Comments (4)

Did You Ever Doubt Me?

New England 32, Carolina 29. The Pats win by one field goal. i said they'd win by two. The Pats didn't cover the spread. i said they wouldn't. i told you to take the Panthers plus 7 points. i hope you did. Did you take the over? i should have told you about that too.

i am awesome!

It was actually a pretty good game, too. Good defensive play in the first half, big offensive plays in the second. i was cheering for both offenses in the fourth quarter, because i wanted my predictions to come true. My friends were looking at me funny.

When New England made that 2 point conversion, i thought i would have a push, but then Carolina tied it up and i knew i was golden. Didn't i point out that Vinatieri was going to be key? Yes, i did.

i am so awesome!

P.S. i missed the whole halftime tittie fest, since i was out on a beer run. i can't stand Janet anyway and Justin bugs me. Apparently, Zomby wasn't impressed. And Shae's blog has good coverage of the er, uncoverage.

i did catch the National Anthem and was gratified to see Beyonce sing it with grace and dignity, unlike her ass-shaking spectacular from last Fourth of July in front of General Grant's tomb.

Link thanks to Michele.

Posted by annika at 07:39 PM | Comments (9)

Most Dangerous Bloggers Deck Of Cards

This is funny. i'm not in it thank goodness. Guess who is the Ace of Spades, though. Link thanks to Kevin.

Posted by annika at 01:23 PM | Comments (2)

My [Most Excellent] Bowl Prediction

Many people have wondered why i haven't posted my prediction for today's [Most Excellent] Bowl game. (Okay, one person wondered.) So here it is.

Carolina Panthers vs. New England Patriots. Funny, neither team represents an actual state, just a large region. New England is favored by 7 points. The field is neutral of course, since the game is being played at Reliant Stadium in Houston. But i heard somewhere that Carolina has never practiced on artificial turf until this week. That sounds funny, but if it's true could it factor in somehow?

Friday, Rush Limbaugh said the game will be close. He picked the Patriots, but didn't think they'd cover the spread. That makes it very tempting for me to predict that the Patsies will cover.

It's really not that hard of a game to handicap, though. Tom Brady, besides being just about as adorable as any football player i've ever seen, can also show flashes of greatness on the field when it counts. And don't forget that NE has Vinatieri and [Most Excellent] Bowl experience on their side.

So, i say Carolina won't roll over, but New England will pull it out by six. Therefore, take the Panthers and the 7 points, if you get the chance.

Posted by annika at 12:29 PM | Comments (2)

Supermarine Spitfire

You gotta see this video of a Supermarine Spitfire in flight. It's hilarious.

"Fuck me!" LOL.

Just watch it.

Thanks for the link Matt. It's best viewed on a high speed connection. But if, like me, you are on dial up, just click the link to save it (right click: select target as . . .), then after it's downloaded it should run in the Windows Media Player without all those annoying pauses.

Posted by annika at 11:03 AM | Comments (5)