OC's Scariest People
Sometime after we'd decided to give this year's Scariest People issue a Day of the Dead style and an Iraq War substance, I e-mailed a link to a Los Angeles Times story to the staff. I prefaced it with the note, "Exactly what we DON'T want to do with Scariest People."
The Sept. 24 piece by Nicholas Ricciardi was about the controversy surrounding a man who put the names of Iraq War dead on anti-war bumper stickers and T-shirts. Families of the dead, even those who oppose the war, were understandably upset, and some states have passed laws against the practice.
Now, the guy almost certainly has the right to do what he's doing. But that's not what we're doing here. It's not about names, or even numbers; too many more of both—whether American, Iraqi, Baptist, Shiite, Wiccan, atheist, Sunni, Reform Jewish or lapsed Catholic—will be added to the sad roster of the fallen between the time I type this and the time you read it. And it's certainly not about appropriating the sorrow of mourning families to make a political point.
Their grief belongs to them and them alone. But the death this war has wrought belongs to us all. It's all our fault, thanks to our oh-so-scary elected Congressional representatives.
Premium Seating: Los Angeles Angels v St Louis Cardinals
TicketsTue., May. 10, 7:05pm
Getdown 21 - Mma Fights
TicketsSun., May. 15, 3:00pm
Premium Seating: Los Angeles Angels v LOS ANGELES DODGERS
TicketsWed., May. 18, 7:05pm
Los Angeles Angels vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
TicketsWed., May. 18, 7:05pm
In this space, we'll review just how our current and former congresspeople helped get us into this mess—or, at best, didn't keep us out of it. Also in this year's rogues' gallery are a few local cheerleaders and enablers of the war effort.
Non-Iraq-related evildoers don't get a free pass, though. We also offer a list of other assorted bad actors—Nazis, rapists and lawyers, oh, my!
Now, Orange County being Orange County, we have more than our share of loyal Republican legislators who, whatever their strengths and weaknesses on other issues, have wholeheartedly supported this country's greatest moral, legal and strategic foreign-?policy failure since Vietnam.
Our lone Democratic rep, to her credit, did vote against the original authorization for war in Iraq (which was signed into law five years to the day before this writing—weird), but has since consistently voted to fund a debacle that has now devolved into what liberal Middle East expert Juan Cole counts as three distinct civil wars. More broadly, she and our senators are part of an ineffectual opposition that, whether in the minority or the majority, has not provided any meaningful check to the Bush administration's war plans.
And where have those plans led us? To the abyss. It's beyond scary to contemplate the depth of the pit of immorality that is the Iraq War, so most people don't even look at it. Phrases like "Fight them there so we don't have to fight them here," "The next six months will be crucial," "The surge is working," even "Bring them home now" are defense mechanisms. They're about the idea of the abyss, not the abyss itself.
Just stare at it for a while, and as Nietzsche predicted, this one will stare back. I don't know what anybody else sees, but when I look at it, I see something that looks a lot like the grinning calavera Los Angeles artist Votan drew for this week's cover. Its empty gaze is an accusation. How do you plead?
So head down to your neighborhood botánica and buy a couple of candles, a sugar skull or two, a bouquet of orange marigolds. Set up a little ofrenda at home. Pour a shot of your favorite tequila, place it on the altar, then drink one yourself and say a little prayer against what should be your greatest fear: that politicians of such little wisdom as those who had a hand in the Iraq War will still be representing this county—and this country—when the next generation of soldiers turns 18.
—Ted B. Kissell
1) DANA ROHRABACHER
A onetime Orange County Registereditorial writer, dope smoker, Vietnam War dodger and Reagan White House speechwriter, Rohrabacher won a seat in Congress running as a "champion of term limits" because, he said, too much time in Washington, D.C., caused laziness, arrogance and corruption. Nearly two decades later, a cocky Rohrabacher is still holding his seat with no sign of leaving voluntarily. And corruption? Well, he's managed to keep that as far away as his wife (election fraud), his best friend (influence peddling) and his Huntington Beach protégé (bribery).
With few exceptions (medicinal marijuana, patent rights), Rohrabacher is a Republican sheep. That shouldn't surprise or disappoint us, but here's what does: Rohrabacher, who genuinely has a love of the Iraq-Afghanistan region, squandered his position, knowledge and contacts to become a rubber stamp for President Bush on the war.
This July 2004 statement on the floor of the House of Representatives demonstrates someone had inhaled from Dubya's doobie: "I say, thank God that we have a president who was willing to take this stand," Rohrabacher said. "What we are seeing in Iraq is a historic strategic move to outflank the radical Islamists. We are turning a dictatorship in the Muslim world into a democracy. . . If we do what is right and we stick to this, our enemy will collapse, just as communism collapsed, just as other evil forces collapsed."
Though Rohrabacher took the opposite stance on the Kosovo conflict during President Bill Clinton's second term, Rohrabacher argued adamantly that criticism of Bush's Iraq War blunders were unpatriotic and anti-soldier. "When we fought communism, President Reagan stood firm when the shrill voices of defeatism and retreat attacked him . . . the same way our effort today is being undermined by nitpicking, backbiting and defeatism," he said on June 15, 2006.
Nowadays, the Huntington Beach/Long Beach congressman isn't as aggressive on war critics. How could he be? Nope, Rohrabacher chalks it up to loyalty. "I feel that I have been a loyal soldier to this administration, to the President and, yes, to the country," he said in June. The word "Iraq" no longer can be found on his congressional website homepage. He's moved back to ranting about illegal immigration, China and liberals, who, in his mind, don't have the backbone to be like him: courageous.
VOTED IN FAVOR OF WAR: Yes
VOTED TO FUND THE WAR:Yes. And China's next.
WHERE HE STANDS NOW:Rohrabacher's office did not respond to repeated interview requests. Their last response to a Weekly interview request went like this: Go get a real job.
2) LORETTA SANCHEZ
After changing her surname from Brixey to Sanchez and party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, she defeated Republican Congressman Bob Dornan in 1996 amid allegations of electoral fraud later proven to be unfounded. Sanchez is a hawk on human rights in Cuba and Vietnam, and unlike most Latino politicians, she isn't 100 percent Aztlanista on immigration issues. Her often-touchy relationship with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus came to a head this year when she quit, after chairman Joe Baca reportedly called her a "whore."
On Oct. 10, 2002, Sanchez was among the 133 members of the House who voted against authorizing the invasion of Iraq, but she has voted in favor of every war-appropriation bill since. She opposed the troop surge in February, and three months later, she joined Democrats in unsuccessfully calling for U.S. troops to be redeployed out of Iraq in 90 days. She recently drew ire from conservative Republicans for implying that General David Petraeus was misleading Congress about the success of the surge.
Sanchez's opposition to the war in Iraq led her to vote with other Democrats to fund the war effort with bills that would require a time line for troop withdrawal, a position she justified in a CNN interview last April. "This is no longer about military might," Sanchez said. "We know our soldiers are the best. They have been doing a great job out there. But they're in the middle of some real civil strife. Some really nasty al-Qaeda people. Some insurgents from outside of the arena, and they're all ganging up on our troops. We are now the target."
VOTED IN FAVOR OF WAR: No
VOTED TO FUND THE WAR: Yes, with timetables
WHERE SHE STANDS NOW:Sanchez wasn't available for an interview, but her press spokesperson sent us this e-mail: "Congresswoman Sanchez voted against entering the war and has continually questioned our military officials and the president on the lack of progress and failed strategies. She supports the redeployment of our U.S. troops and believes continued sectarian violence signals the need for the Iraqi government to take control of Iraq."
3) CHRISTOPHER COX
For eight and a half consecutive terms (1988 to 2005), Republican Representative Cox soothed conservative Orange County voters with that sweet smaller-government talk. But when it came to the massive military expenses needed to neutralize Saddam, what Cox lacks in anti-spending firmness, he makes up for in flash. "We continue to discover biological and chemical weapons and facilities to make them inside Iraq," he famously said in a 2005 speech quoted by Salon.com. The former securities attorney voted in favor of bazillion-dollar war. As chairman of the Committee for Homeland Security, Cox kept us in perpetual suspense with quotes such as this from a 2004 CNN interview: "I think America's a soft target. We have a big, open society. Every shopping mall, every office building—there is no end to it."
To help protect those malls and office buildings, he helped bring about the USA PATRIOT Act and its reauthorization four years later, an act widely criticized for infringing on numerous constitutional rights, including privacy. Ironically he wrote in a Register column when he resigned in 2005, "If we give up our freedom to suit the exigencies of the war on terror, we will give al-Qaeda the victory."
VOTED IN FAVOR OF WAR: Yes
VOTED TO FUND THE WAR: Yes
WHERE HE STANDS NOW: Inside the Bush administration, as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
4) JOHN CAMPBELL
Campbell likes it to be known that his great-grandfather Alex was elected to the California state assembly in 1860 as part of Abraham Lincoln's Republican ticket; he likes this to be known primarily, it seems, so he can get away with facile comparisons of the war in Iraq to the American Civil War. For a former automobile dealer, he sure can't sell a convincing line of BS. It's not impossible to get Campbell to change his mind, as Minutemen leader Jim Gilchrist found out when he tried to run against the guy, only to have Campbell suddenly veer hard-right on immigration and portray Gilchrist as a communist, a charge that in Campbell's world also seems to apply to anyone who ever wants to use tax revenue to pay for anything.
But change his mind on the Iraq War? Nobody from Campbell's office returned our requests to clarify his current position, but there's no indication he's backed away from his previous views. According to his web site, Campbell blames the lack of progress on Iraq on liberals and the American media. "Since Election Day, the 'mainstream' press has gone quiet about Iraq," he says. "Of course, much of that journalistic activity during 2004 was intended to make President Bush look bad and to elect John Kerry as president. That effort failed. But the war in Iraq is not failing. . . During the Civil War, the 'Howard Deans' and 'Dan Rathers' of that day did not understand the importance of winning the conflict. But its grand purpose was clear to many soldiers then, and it is clear to historians now."
VOTED IN FAVOR OF WAR: Yes
VOTED TO FUND THE WAR: Yes
WHERE HE STANDS NOW:"Clearly, there has been progress on the ground. . . . ?There are obviously still many challenges over there, not the least of which are political. But it makes no sense to precipitously make more rapid troop withdrawals and risk a massive destabilization of the region when we can reduce troop levels while maintaining control."
5) ED ROYCE
Although he's easily overshadowed by louder Republican colleagues, the eight-term Fullerton representative (who has been called a "flesh-colored snooze button" and characterized as having the charisma of a "lawn chair" in our pages past) has quietly used his weight to influence some of the scariest decisions in the country. Royce has a knack for conflating terrorism with illegal immigration and is a big fan of prayer. He strongly favored making the Patriot Act permanent; he succeeded in getting the House to remove language for a guest-worker program from the House immigration-reform bill; he has opposed giving undocumented immigrants licenses; and he was a key figure in getting the Real ID Act added to one of the supplemental Iraq spending bills. He also voted twice to support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and he supports giving federal aid only to public schools that permit prayer.
When it comes to Iraq, Royce has a solid pro-war voting record. As a member of the Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees, he was one of the few representatives who had a chance to question General David Petraeus during the release of his report on the state of the war in Iraq in September. "Give us your unvarnished opinion on the progress that's being made or not being made by Iraqi military units," he asked the general. What he got was a mixed answer: Some things good, and some things are not so good. And so Royce remains "cautiously optimistic" about the state of affairs in Iraq, but he's disappointed "that there isn't political movement for reconciliation between the ethnic groups, and it's that challenge that has many of us worried.''
VOTED IN FAVOR OF WAR: Yes
VOTED TO FUND THE WAR: Yes
WHERE HE STANDS NOW: Royce's office has not responded to the Weekly's requests for an update on his position.
6) GARY MILLER
This Republican has been a staunch supporter of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here at home, his interests lie in making money—even if that means bending the rules to do so.
Labeled one of "The 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress" by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in 2006, Miller has been involved in several controversial real-estate deals. Most prominently, he avoidded 2002 paying taxes on a $10 million profit he made from land sales in Monrovia by saying the land was under threat of eminent domain—a claim that Monrovia city officials continue to deny. And in 2005, Miller pushed a provision in that year's transportation bill that resulted in the closure of the Rialto airport and allowed his business partners and frequent campaign contributors, Lewis Operating, to purchase the land for development. The deal made Miller millions, has resulted in an investigation by the FBI and raised flags that House ethics rules had been violated.
But despite all that, earlier this year, Miller was named as the ranking member of the Oversight and Investigative subcommittee of the House Committee on Financial Services. Nice one. He has consistently voted for funding the Iraq War. He also voted to build a fence along the Mexican border to "secure the country from terrorists," but he did not support pulling troops out of Iraq in May because pulling them out would mean "that we don't support the commander in chief," "emboldening the terrorist enemies."
VOTED IN FAVOR OF WAR: Yes
VOTED TO FUND THE WAR:Yes, without timetables
WHERE HE STANDS NOW: Annnnnd another no-comment.
7) KEN CALVERT
After managing his family's Corona restaurant for several years, Calvert went into the real-estate market, until the allure of public service beckoned him to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1993. (If you haven't heard of the guy, you probably don't live in San Clemente; the rest of his district is pure Inland Empire.) It certainly didn't take long for the Republican to make a name for himself as a politician. During Calvert's first year in office, a Corona police officer pulled him over in the company of a woman who had a rap sheet featuring arrests for prostitution and heroin possession. He was busy buttoning up his pants but claimed, according to the police report, that he and his lady friend were "just talking."
Since then, Calvert seems to have steered clear of heroin-addled streetwalkers, but he hasn't exactly kept out of trouble. Last year, the FBI investigated Calvert for steering federal transportation funding to an area where he owned several properties, resulting in a 79 percent increase in the value of his land near March Air Reserve Base. He was never charged. He also wasn't charged in the most famous lobbying scandal in recent memory, ?the one that engulfed his Republican colleague Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who resigned from Congress in 2005 after pleading guilty to accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors. Calvert had traveled to Saudi Arabia the previous year in a lobbying junket tied to the scandal, with both Cunningham and co-conspirator Thomas Kontogiannis.
Speaking of defense, Calvert, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, is one of Bush's most steadfast defenders, especially when it comes to the war in Iraq. During the recent debate on Capitol Hill about the wisdom of increasing troop levels in Iraq, Calvert showed his sober, measured leadership style: ""We are in this war," he said. "We must win. . . . An enemy encouraged by a retreat in Iraq will be close at our heels. . . . I do not doubt that if given the chance, our enemies would come into this chamber tonight and kill us all."
VOTED IN FAVOR OF WAR: Yes
VOTED TO FUND THE WAR: Yes
WHERE HE STANDS NOW: Calvert did not respond to several interview requests.
8) DIANNE FEINSTEIN
On the war in Iraq, California's senior senator (Feinstein has served since November 1992), like most of her Democratic colleagues, has angered many liberals by not being against the war strongly enough and many conservatives for simply being a Democrat. Her position can be summarized as being deferent to the commander in chief's policies, while tut-tutting about his tactics.
Like many of her fellow centrist Democrats, ever-mindful of the realities of pragmatic politics, she has held that Bush needs to be given the resources he demands in order to fight this war that few of them agree with. To be fair, if Colin Powell walks into your meeting at the United Nations Security Council and indicates that the country might have a pressing national-security problem, do you hear him out, or immediately call bullshit?
Indicating her dismay at the attacks on Petraeus' September report on the state of affairs in Iraq, she split with fellow California Senator Barbara Boxer by voting for the Cornyn Amendment of House Resolution 1585, which essentially condemned anyone who cast aspersions on the general's character. In May 2007, Feinstein voted for an Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill that continued to fund the Iraq occupation without establishing firm timetables for withdrawal. "I am deeply disappointed that this bill fails to hold the president accountable for his administration's flawed Iraq War policy," Feinstein said. "The American people have made their voices clear that there must be an exit strategy for Iraq. Yet this president continues to stubbornly adhere to more of the same." So . . . the president is running wild, but we still have to give him his green?
VOTED IN FAVOR OF WAR: Yes
VOTED TO FUND THE WAR: Yes, without timetables
WHERE SHE STANDS NOW: Feinstein's office did not respond to requests for comment.
9) BARBARA BOXER
The slogan for her 1982 campaign for the House of Representatives was "Barbara Boxer Gives a Damn," and in the 25 years since, she has proven that when it comes to the progressive agenda, she certainly does. The legislation that she has championed during her tenure reads like a litany of the issues that give conservatives the most headaches: a woman's right to choose, the fight against global climate change and the intense scrutiny of the military budget.
During Condoleezza Rice's appearance earlier this year before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to campaign for Bush's plan to increase troop numbers in Iraq, Boxer asked, "Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay a price, as I understand it, within immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families." White House spokesman (and apparent feminist-theory expert) Tony Snow called Boxer's highlighting of Rice's lack of offspring "a great leap backwards for feminism," sidestepping the substance of her point.
As a senator, Boxer has been one of the most outspoken critics of the Bush administration's policies in Iraq, even before that stance became popular. Recently, she was one of 25 senators to vote against the highly contentious Cornyn Amendment. In May, she was one of only 14 senators to vote no on House Resolution 2206, which would have provided Bush with more money to fund the war without imposing a timetable for its eventual completion. Earlier last month, Boxer said, "The president took 20 minutes in his speech last night to say one thing: He's staying the course in Iraq. The president got us into a war while being clueless about how he would end it. It is up to Congress to keep pressing to end this war and, if we don't have the votes, to make it a huge issue in the 2008 elections." Oh, c'mon, Senator, don't be afraid to tell us your real feelings.
VOTED IN FAVOR OF WAR: No
VOTED TO FUND THE WAR: No
WHERE SHE STANDS NOW: Boxer's office did not respond to requests for comment.
THE CAMP FOLLOWERS
10) HUGH HEWITT
There are neocons, and then there is Hewitt, a Chapman University law professor and talk-show host/blogger with an abrasive voice that belies his apple-cheeked mug. It's hard to even describe how pro-Iraq War this man is—just go to his blog (hughhewitt.townhall.com) or listen to his radio show on KRLA-AM 870, and he'll probably be extolling the virtues of Petraeus, extolling staying the course, extolling anything that involves an American presence in the Middle East for decades until all the words merge into one command: "IRAQ WAR GOOD." By the way, Hewitt never served a day in the military. MITIGATING FACTOR: Unlike other conservative talk-show hosts, Hewitt is actually smart.
11) MICHAEL SCOTT KERR
Next month, hundreds of families who lost a loved one in the Iraq War will head to Orange County for a weekend of fun thanks to the nonprofit Snowball Express. Not there to greet them is the man who thought up the idea: founder Kerr. Last December, the Weekly reported that an Arizona arrest warrant for Kerr was still active since he owed almost $50,000 in child support. Further media reports found Kerr had lied about filing the proper nonprofit-status paperwork for the Snowball Express, lied about his résumé—hell, lied about almost everything except his desire to earn a fat salary from the organization. Thankfully, disgusted volunteers booted Kerr before he ever earned a dime from the scheme. MITIGATING FACTOR: Even a snowball has a chance in hell, no?
12) LORETTA SANCHEZ'S SIT-IN PROTESTERS
Over the summer, six people were arrested for refusing to leave the offices of Congresswoman Sanchez. Their reason for the sit-in? They wanted to secure a commitment from Sanchez that she would not vote for any more resolutions funding the Iraq War. Sanchez—one of the few Orange County political voices that has expressed opposition to the war—refused, and so the people sat. The subsequent scene sparked a debate in the Orange County progressive community, with increasing name-calling on the Liberal OC and Orange Juice! blogs. Our take? While her failure to put the brakes on this train wreck is certainly scary (see above), protesting Sanchez for the Iraq War while ignoring the county's many true chickenhawks is like being against shade in Phoenix. Dirty hippies. MITIGATING FACTOR: By attacking Loretta's left flank in this county, they at least had the element of surprise going for them.
13) GORDON DILLOW
Most people know this Orange County Register scribbler as the author of rambling essays defending cops who use lethal force, but his greatest accomplishment as a journalist was his trip to Iraq as an embedded reporter with the United States Marines. During the swift military invasion of Iraq, Dillow hung out with the grunts of Alpha Company of the 1st Battalion of the 5th Marine Regiment as they swept toward Baghdad. The highlight of his trip was a four-hour firefight. As the Weekly reported, Dillow never mentioned the battle in his mammoth story about Iraq for the Register, focusing instead on Dillow's crush on the men he was supposed to cover.
In a speech to fans after he returned from Iraq, Dillow acknowledged that his story wasn't exactly hard-hitting war correspondence. "They always tell you not to fall in love with your subject," he said. "But I did. I fell in love with these guys. They were really great." Three years later, with the war in Iraq an unpopular quagmire, Dillow got a hankering to return to the Middle East. After the paper refused to foot the bill, Dillow told readers he'd pay for it out of his own pocket, and he provided an insight into the mind of a reporter so well-embedded that the Pentagon ought to pay his bills. "My outlook for Iraq is this," Dillow said. "We can't lose the war in Iraq in Iraq, but we certainly can lose it in America. We have to steel ourselves to the fact that it's going to take years, but it can be done, if we have the will. If we're going to withdraw prematurely, just as we did in Vietnam, then we're going to waste the lives of the young Americans who fought and died there—just as we did in Vietnam." MITIGATING FACTOR: Dillow's right about Vietnam: If it weren't for the hippies, we'd still be killing commies there now, instead of wasting our time in Iraq.
THE SCARIEST OF THE REST
14) PETER CALLAHAN
For more than a decade, Callahan has spun, juked and shilled for the Catholic Diocese of Orange as its lead lawyer in various sex-abuse scandals. The Tustin-based lawyer earned his silver coins at first, securing sealed settlements throughout the 1990s on a couple of cases regarding admitted pedophiles. But he's lost his touch in the new millennium, as the Orange diocese has paid out almost $115 million in settlements since 2001 and been forced to release thousands of pages of once-secret personnel files that prove diocesan leaders not only knew about the pederasts within county parishes, but also actively protected them.
That's why Callahan's recent bout of braggadocio in the Jeff Andrade case—in which the diocese defended an admitted statutory rapist at Mater Dei High School—is so funny: He boasted to the press he was ready to go to trial despite mountains of evidence against his clients. And when another victim tried to argue with Callahan, he shot back, "You had your press conference yesterday." Bad Petey! MITIGATING FACTOR: The ringtone on Callahan's cell phone? The Notre Dame fight song.
15) VARSITY GOLD
The Arizona-based company is one of the top high-school fund-raisers in the United States, with many accounts with Orange County prep schools. It also proudly employs a statutory rapist. During the summer, Varsity Gold held a conference at Irvine's Hyatt Regency, where a keynote speaker was Jeff Andrade, a former Mater Dei High School boys' basketball coach who admitted to having sex with a 15-year-old student during the mid-1990s but is now a regional sales manager for the organization. When survivors of Catholic Church sex abuse protested outside the hotel, Varsity Gold officials confronted them and defended their man—that is, when not emphasizing that he no longer visits schools. MITIGATING FACTOR: Public education is in dire need of funds.
16) PATRICK PICENO
When he was 21 years old, Patrick Daniel Piceno—horny and drunk—didn't have money to rent a Harbor Boulevard hooker. Instead, he stalked, raped and brutally beat a tiny 73-year-old Vietnamese American grandmother in a Garden Grove parking lot. His defense? Yes, I beat her. Yes, I wanted to rape her, but I didn't. I couldn't "get it up." Odd, then, how his sperm was found deep in the vagina of the woman, who was found unconscious next to a Dumpster. In July, Piceno won a 23-years-to-life trip to a California prison cell. MITIGATING FACTOR: There are some Asian gangsters in California prisons.
17) MICHAEL LAMB
Public Enemy Number One (PENI) Death Squad members fret about keeping a ruthless-thug image. They stain themselves with pro-Nazi tattoos and spew pro-Hitler rhetoric. They view reality through a methamphetamine haze. They laugh at their own demise. Sure, Michael Lamb, you're a tough guy going away to prison for life, if not San Quentin State Prison's notorious Death Row. But that's not why you make our list. Mike, you affectionately called Jacob Rump—your cohort in PENI crime—your "Right Butt Cheek," and he called you his "Left Butt Cheek." MITIGATING FACTOR: We hear guards pipe Elton John tunes into certain prison cells at dusk.
18) JOHN ANGEL SALCIDA
Here's a real-life plot for a horror flick: Huntington Beach high-school girl dates upperclassman, becomes pregnant, gets married, moves to a Nevada hellhole, endures husband's cheating with whores, moves back to Orange County, happily begins dating a co-worker. Husband—John Angel Salcida—follows wife back to OC, beats and rapes her, then demands to know if her new boyfriend has a bigger penis. Apparently, he didn't like the answer. Early one morning, he entered the new couple's residence and used a hammer and knife to kill 18-year-old Sergio Ojeda, who suffered gruesome wounds to his genitals. Then, Salcida casually walked into a bathroom where his estranged wife was running bath water and said, "He's dead. I killed him." He beat and raped the girl again. MITIGATING FACTOR: This year, state court of appeal justices told Salcida to go fuck himself.
19) SHERIFF MICHAEL S. CARONA
How scary is the prospect of a dirty cop sitting as the top law-enforcement officer in OC? In June, the well-regarded Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit—comprising 250 police agencies in four countries—voted to block Carona's access to the group's Mafia files based on our sheriff's associations with Rick Rizzolo, a Las Vegas titty-bar owner and reputed mob associate, and con man Joseph Medawar, a Lebanese native Carona incredibly let film top-secret anti-terrorism training. After Carona's ties to the men emerged in OC Weekly, both Rizzolo and Medawar were convicted of federal crimes and incarcerated. MITIGATING FACTOR: The self-styled Christian conservative with lofty political ambitions is squeaky-clean compared to some of the people who do his dirty work.
20) ROY LEE MORTON
Okay, guys get upset with their girlfriends or wives and yell. Some men will go so far as to make threats. Sadly, others strike out. But how many men in a dispute knock a woman to the ground, choke her, pull his pants down, squat his ass over the woman's face and threaten to take a crap? We only know of one—and we use this term loosely—person: Roy Lee Morton. This year, the rapist and serial woman-beater unsuccessfully demanded that his conviction be overturned, in part, because his girlfriend had caused the violence by nagging him while he watched a porno in an Orange apartment. MITIGATING FACTOR: Morton will have time to learn his first skill before he emerges from prison after 2013.
21) ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER WEBSITE COMMENTATORS
No matter the story, the comments eventually boil down to the evils of Mexicans. Just look at some of the crap left regarding an August piece on the resignation of longtime Register publisher N. Christian Anderson III: "How about losing the pro-immigration bias this paper has. Read the comments people post."
"Stop ignoring the massive illegal immigration problem in Orange County. Report on how our neighborhoods have steadily been turning to garbage, starting in Santa Ana and radiating outward. Report on how there is no place to live in the county because huge areas of this county have become uninhabitable. Stop glossing over the impact of their crimes in your stories."
"The OCR could easily do without Yvette Cabrera and her racist columns."
The comments are so noxious that Register reporters signed a group letter in March asking editor Ken Brusic to better monitor the comments. Earlier this month, the Reg finally instituted a policy requiring readers to register with the paper before leaving comments. MITIGATING FACTOR: Counting the zero-to-Mexicans rate makes a great drinking game.
22) MICKEY MOUSE, SLUMLORD
The rodent icon seems to fancy himself a 21st-century Robert Moses. Disneyland has gathered signatures for two initiatives that would allow the company to dictate development around its two Anaheim theme parks. Opponents say Disney is forsaking its obligation to provide affordable housing for the company's many low-income workers; Disney insists it's just looking out for Anaheim's future. Mickey? His quiet smile is deafening. MITIGATING FACTOR: "Steamboat Willie"? Still funny.
23) THE POORMAN
With Wally George dead and gone, KDOC very nearly became an all-rerun station without any crazy local would-be celebrity with a cheap-looking show to call his own. Enter Jim Trenton, a.k.a. the Poorman, who had the brilliant idea of taping a half-hour show of girls in bikinis and the not-so-brilliant idea of hosting it himself. Though he's just a regular-looking surfer dude in real life, he can't seem to appear on camera without leering hideously, sticking his tongue out, wearing ugly outfits and having people pretend to beat him up and vomit on him, among other indignities. MITIGATING FACTOR: If you could make a living being humiliated by beautiful women, wouldn't you at least give it a shot?
24) THE CAST OFNEWPORT HARBOR: THE REAL ORANGE COUNTY
Ever wanted to get scared about the future? Just sit down and watch this MTV reality show as it films a bunch of idiots discussing nothing for a half-hour. Six tanned teenagers—Allie, Chrissy, Sasha, Clay, Chase and Grant—tackle life's tough issues, such as whether Rome is a country, "bootylicious" is a word, or caliente translates to weather-hot or attractive-hot. They serve up these gems with a heaping helping of the words "like," "shut up" and "no way." On complimenting the fairer sex: "If she's wearing a pink dress say, 'Damn, girl, I like your silk.'" On abstinence: "Guys like virgins because it means that you're all pure and stuff." These kids act as a compass for the younger generations, directing them toward the knowledge that if only your parents made as much money as theirs do, you might be able to get by in life being a complete moron, too. MITIGATING FACTOR: Like, no way. Shut up, you guys.
25) THE ANAHEIM UNION ?HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT
The Anaheim Unified High School District Board of Trustees had a vacancy on the dais this year. Instead of filling the seat with the runner-up from the fall election, this jolly bunch decided to fill it with Harald Martin, the ex-cop, ex-board member and current immigrant-hater.
Some of Martin's most memorable moments on the board involved blaming a 13-year-old for her molestation at the hands of her teacher, writing legislation that would allow INS agents to check citizenship of any Latino high-school kids, and trying to sue Mexico for $50 million as a reimbursement for Anaheim's role in educating the children of illegal immigrants. The board's appointment shocked community members and resulted in a bipartisan uproar. After opponents gathered 5,000 signatures in an effort to get Martin recalled, he resigned in September. MITIGATING FACTOR: We get to write the word "dais."
26) DEPUTY KEVIN TAYLOR
On Oct. 5, 2006, Taylor was one of two guards manning the control tower at the F-Barracks inside Theo Lacy Men's Jail in Orange, while 30 feet away, anywhere between six and several dozen inmates committed the most grisly murder in the jail's history. For up to 20 minutes, they stomped, kicked and beat inmate John Chamberlain to death in full view of the control tower. According to a lawsuit filed by Chamberlain's family, the inmates mistakenly believed Chamberlain was a child molester, an impression they allegedly received from Taylor, who, the lawsuit contends, told a white gang leader in the prison that Chamberlain was fair game for a beat-down. (Chamberlain was awaiting trial for possessing kiddie porn.) Cameras inside the control tower mysteriously didn't record the murder, but they do show Taylor and another deputy reacting to the attack minutes later. Taylor, who hasn't been charged with any crime, later told investigators he was watching baseball in the tower when the beating occurred. MITIGATING FACTOR: Taylor was well-liked by inmates, one of whom described him as a "nice guy" and the "best" guard at the prison.
27) ZOMBIE DUMMIES OF HO CHI MINH AND NGUYEN CAO KY
These two scary fellows made repeated appearances at anti-communist demonstrations in and around Little Saigon earlier this year. They depict former North Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh and former South Vietnamese Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky (an advocate of normalized U.S. trade relations with Vietnam) as a pair of lynching victims. With gouged-out eyes and arrows protruding from their bellies, the gruesome display provides a stern warning to commie spies and sympathizers in the Vietnamese American community. They're so scary that protest organizers reluctantly stowed the dummies after receiving complaints from parents that the dummies were traumatizing their kids. MITIGATING FACTOR: VC Number 10!
28) JAMES FLEMING
The former superintendant of the Capistrano Unified School District has been charged with misspending schoolkids' money and making "enemy" lists of schoolkids' parents, and he now faces jail time because of it. Although Fleming pled not guilty to three felony charges, grand-jury testimony by former and current employees and board members of the school system he once ran is pretty damning. He discussed vocal members of the public in secret board meetings and refused to tell taxpayers who was paying for the giant district administration building—which included a shower in his office. While he built it, kids went to school in old portables. Parents and teachers were afraid of him for a long time. And now, even though Fleming's gone, people still wonder if they or their kids will be subject to having their names compiled or their kids retaliated against for speaking out against the board members who supported him. MITIGATING FACTOR: How scary can someone be who looks like Santa Claus?
29) CHUCK DEVORE
The Republican Assemblyman wants to resurrect construction of nuclear power plants in the state, a practice shelved 30 years ago. DeVore's stated intended purpose, to build additional reactors at San Onofre to fuel a water-desalination plant, would have far-reaching benefits for residents, developers and energy companies in our near-desert climate. Of course, that's if you ignore the tremendous cost of building nuclear reactors and desalination plants, coupled with the waste problems both create. Hazardous byproducts from desalination plants tend to disrupt or kill large percentages of nearby marine life, while nuclear waste is, well, nuclear waste. DeVore's response to his critics? "I remain deeply skeptical of an environmental left that is, at its core, hostile to people, while constantly demanding that we give up our inalienable rights in service of the greater environmental good, which they, of course, define," he wrote on his website. MITIGATING FACTOR: DeVore's proposal already died in committee, but undeterred, he says he'll try to get the issue on the ballot in 2008.
30) MARK MCGRATH
It sure seemed like we were rid of Sugar Ray and the band's obnoxious, Madonna-fingerbanging front man Mark McGrath once and for all after their 2003 album In the Pursuit of Leisure bombed hard. Check out the used bin on Amazon, where you can pick up plenty of copies for a mere penny (and even then, it's overpriced). Alas, like a bad fungus, McGrath just wouldn't go away—now, instead of stinking up terrestrial radio (thank God for XM), the überdude made a leap to the telly, where he somehow landed a permanent gig co-hosting celebrity gossip show Extra!He's also emceed such profound cultural masterpieces as The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll, been a guest judge on American Idol, and made acting appearances on Law & Order: SVU and Las Vegas. And now, the other shoe: Sugar Ray are threatening to make another album in 2008, according to their website. Be afraid. Be very afraid. MITIGATING FACTOR: McGrath may be scary, but in terms of empty-headed OC TV celebs, he's no Pete Weitzner.
31) JOE DALLAS
Ignore the delicious irony of the guy's name, which reads as if it were lifted from a gay porn casting list. As the founder of Tustin-based Genesis Counseling, Dallas peddles the Christian fundie line that gays can magically change—like Transformers!—into happy, breeding heterosexuals, if they would only pray, accept Jesus and develop an insatiable appetite for whatever set of genitals not currently in their possession. Oh, and forking over cash for some of Dallas' books and MP3 lectures—with titles such as The Gay Gospel? How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible, When Homosexuality Hits Home, and Homosexuality and the Church ($30 for that one, ka-ching!)—certainly wouldn't hurt, either. Dallas is merely another in a long line of moneychangers preying on his flock's fears and self-hatred, all while ignoring such inconvenient facts as the failure of the bogus "ex-gay" groups he's been involved with to provide any independent statistics showing how many queers have truly switched teams (because if they have, then they were never really gay to begin with). MITIGATING FACTOR: With his goatee and rugged good looks, Dallas would fit right in at a Sunday beer bust at Pistons.
32) YOUR LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM
With each passing year that the Angels fail to win the World Series, their triumphant 2002 season just keeps getting all the more precious. Call it the curse of victory bringing about high expectations, but fans now count on the Halos to not only play deep into the postseason every year, but some of us also expect them to win the whole effing thing on a regular basis. Impossible, sure, but since '02, their playoff record is a woeful 4-12, and each year entering October, they've looked tired, haggard and banged-up, giving off a just-glad-to-be-here aura that all but guarantees a quick exit.
So here's what's scary: The Angels need a bat. A big one. Preferably Alex Rodriguez. Because if they don't pick one up this winter, then the Angels are in danger of becoming the next Atlanta Braves: always winning, but never winning enough to hoist championship trophies. MITIGATING FACTOR: Yankees suck!
33) THE MINUTEMAN PROJECT
Not because they play migra, mind you. But the group founded by Jim Gilchrist imploded this year, with accusations of financial mismanagement and lawsuits to wrest control of the organization. And while you folks were in court, 10,000 more Mexicans sneaked across the border! MITIGATING FACTOR: 10,000 Mexicans sneaked across the border.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss OC Weekly's biggest stories. Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts