Thursday, July 31, 2008

Friday Happy Feet

Ella Mae Morse isn’t as well remembered today as other singers from the swing era, but she ought to be. Born in Mansfield, Texas, Ella was a slender little thing with a great set of pipes who teamed up with Freddie Slack and his orchestra in the 1940’s for a string of hits. Here she is with Freddie and the boys performing “Cow Cow Boogie”.

Clean Shaven

Tim Blair has a hilarious post up about the “fuzz war” going on between Hamas and its opponents (“Hamas has resumed its policy of shaving mustaches of political opponents to humiliate them.”) Of course, the anti-Hamas crowd has vowed revenge: “The Aksa Martyrs Brigades issued a statement strongly condemning the shaving of Namnam’s mustache, and threatening retaliation.”

I posted a comment at Tim’s in which I speculate how this retaliation will play out:

A dingy room off of an alley. Ten men are standing around a table, the only light coming from a candle in the center. Abdullah ibn Ah-OO-ga, chief of an important cell within the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, sits at the head of the table on an overturned crate and glances around at his men, his stern eyes seeking to confirm their readiness and dedication; he smiles grimly, satisfied that they will give their all.

“Brothers! We have been ignobly affronted by these Hamas dogs, who have shaved the mustaches from those of our comrades who have fallen into their hands. The time for vengeance has come!”

Aware of the need for maintaining silence, the men ululate in a whisper.

“Tonight you will go forward into the territory of our adversaries and you will take them, one by one. You are ready? You know what to do?”

The room was suddenly filled with a buzzing noise, as if someone had disturbed a hornets’ nest; the ten men were waving their battery-operated Norelco shavers in the air, all of them on, all of them turned to “close shave”.

Abdullah smiled. “Go with Allah, my brothers.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rand Report Says Terrorism a Matter for the Police, Not the Military


Cold fury has some interesting observations on this issue.

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



I’m not exactly a Civil War buff, but I do have a fairly large collection of books on the subject, and since a passel of Paco’s died in that war, fighting for the side that “came in second”, there’s a certain family interest, as well (the Paco in my direct line was captured at Gettysburg, and died in a federal prison camp).

The thing that has always fascinated me most is the personalities of some of the figures associated with that struggle, and there were few more fascinating than the Gray Ghost of the Confederacy, John Singleton Mosby.

No doubt, modern scholarship has added to our knowledge of the military operations of this famous Confederate officer, but the book for me has always been Virgil Carrington Jones’ Ranger Mosby, first published in 1944. John Singleton Mosby was commander of a force of Confederate partisans that conducted numerous successful raids in Northern Virginia, turning Loudon, Fauquier and Fairfax counties into an area that came quickly to be known as “Mosby’s Confederacy.” Mosby was mentioned more frequently in Lee’s dispatches than any other Confederate officer, and his efforts at disrupting Union supply lines were so successful that Grant eventually ordered that his men be hanged without trial, whenever captured (in retaliation, Mosby executed several Union soldiers, and subsequently proposed to Grant that their respective prisoners be treated humanely; Grant acceded to this request). One of Mosby’s most celebrated exploits was his capture of General Edwin Stoughton. Here is Jones’ description of the incident:

“At the brick home of Dr. Gunnell [Stoughton’s headquarters], sitting back a hundred yards or so from the main road past the courthouse, they stopped. Mosby gave a loud knock, and in a few seconds an upper window was raised and someone called down sleepily, ‘Who’s there?’

‘Fifth New York Cavalry with a dispatch for General Stoughton,’ replied Mosby.

The window was closed, a light flickered and footsteps could be heard coming down the stairs. The door was thrown back by Lieutenant Prentiss of Stoughton’s staff, dressed in shirt and long drawers, looking more like a farmer roused from his couch by chicken thieves than an officer in the United States Army facing a group of desperate Partisan raiders.

Mosby grabbed him by the shirt and poked a gun in his ribs. ‘Lead me to the general’s room,’ he said coldly…

Stoughton lay in a sound sleep, heavy covers accenting his figure in a sloping mound. Near at hand stood several empty champagne bottles, mute evidence of revelry the night before. Mosby walked to the bed and pulled down the quilts. Stoughton was on his side, snoring. Lack of covering caused him only to double his knees more closely against his stomach. But he kicked and raised on one elbow in sputtering confusion when the Partisan lifted his nightshirt and spanked him on the behind.

‘General, did you ever hear of Mosby?’ the figure bending over him asked.

‘Yes, have you caught him?’

‘He has caught you.’”
* * *

After the war, Mosby became that thing of anathema in the south, a Republican, and was a supporter of Grant’s election bid. He had a varied career after the war, working as a lawyer, in both private and government practice, and was U.S. consul in Hong Kong.

But it is his dash, courage and effectiveness as a cavalry officer that interest us most, and Ranger Mosby is a must for students of the “little wars” within the big war.

Obama's Solution to the Energy Crisis? Air


The great thing about Gateway Pundit is that you frequently hear interesting stories there first. Check out this nice catch, which is a representative example of the Messiah's deep thought:

"There are things you can do individually, though, to save energy. Making sure your tires are properly inflated — simple thing. But we could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling — if everybody was just inflating their tires? And getting regular tune-ups? You’d actually save just as much!"

Patently absurd, but I call upon resident friend, commenter and engineer Real Jeff to provide his customary debunking of this nonsense, anyway, because he does such a good job at this sort of thing.

Blacklists Are Just a Conservative Thing, Right?

Ed Driscoll has been keeping tabs on the new McCarthyism (or maybe we should call it Wellsianism). Be sure to hit Ed’s links.

I Was Going To Post About This Earlier But Couldn’t Be Bothered

Scientists may have discovered a laziness gene.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hope and Change and Murder in the Second Degree

Obama picks up the all-important homicide defendant endorsement.

Via Powerline

Polar Extremes

Everyone remembers that Knut was, at one time, the world's cutest polar bear cub; adored by millions, he was a major source of income for the Berlin Zoo. Now, of course, he is a grown-up psychopath, whose excessive interaction with humans at an early age appears to have ruined him. According to the linked article, "He actually cries out or whimpers if he sees that there is not a spectator outside his enclosure ready to ooh and aah at him" (this is known as "Chuck Schumer" syndrome). Experts say he will probably never mate.

In connection with that last point, I wrote two short Knut skits at Blair's old place, which I will now recycle for the benefit of those who may have missed them the first time around.

Knut and the Zoo Keeper - Part I

Zoo keeper: Go, on, Knut, go on. Say hello to your mate.

Knut (Working the Times crossword puzzle): Hmmm?

Zoo keeper: I said, go on over there and say hello to “Cindy”.

Knut (Removes spectacles and glares at zookeeper): Dude. She’s a bear.

Zoo keeper: I know she’s a bear! That’s the whole point. You’re supposed to mate with her.

Knut: Oh, right. So we can have kids and you and your staff can debate about whether “mom” should be allowed to scarf down as many cubs as she likes, or whether you ought to bite the bullet and actually save them from a toothy death. Listen, man, if you’d had your way, I’d probably have wound up as a pair of fuzzy white slippers for your wife.

Zoo keeper: But this is the way it’s supposed to be in nature! You’re a bear!

Knut: I like to think that I’ve risen above such deterministic modes of thinking. Pity you haven’t. (Glances at Cindy). Tell you what: you like her, you mate with her. I won’t say anything to your missus. (Replaces spectacles and resumes working crossword puzzle). I mean, it’s not like I could tell her or write her a note or anything. I’m a bear, remember?

Knut and the Zoo Keeper - Part II

Zoo keeper (walks up to Knut, softly, and coughs to get his attention): Knut, Cindy the she-bear is really anxious to meet you.

Knut (walking on an exercise treadmill while reading the Financial Times): Just a minute (reads aloud to himself – “A former director of the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday pleaded guilty to charges of illegal trading…” – You see, this is why I put my surplus funds in bank certificates of deposit. Sorry, what were you saying?

Zoo keeper: I said, Cindy the she-bear is…you know… ready for a little canoodling.

Knut: Gawd! Are you at it again? Still trying to get me to mate with that…that…bear?

Zoo keeper: Knut, listen. You’ve got to mate with Cindy. The papers are all complaining about how attached you’ve become to humans, and how you’ve been ruined for normal polar bear life.

Knut: Ruined for normal polar bear life? Oh, you mean eating raw fish and inattentive Eskimos, and hanging out on ice floes and getting chased off of crowded beaches by angry walruses? Perish the thought! Why wouldn’t I be all over that deal? Do you mind? You’re standing in my light. (Resumes reading Financial Times).

Zoo keeper: Please, Knut! Our zoo is becoming a laughing stock.

Knut: Oh, man, get off my back, will you? *Sigh*. All right, all right. Tell you what I’ll do: bring my car around and I’ll take her to the movies. I think there’s a Fritz Lang festival going on downtown.

Zoo keeper: I said “mate” not “date”!

Knut ( Rises to his full height, and looks at the zookeeper with withering contempt): If you are seriously suggesting, sir, that I would stoop to fornication – with a bear, mind you, and, furthermore, with a bear to whom I have not even been properly introduced – then we have nothing further to discuss (folds Financial Times, slaps it under his arm, and marches into cave, angrily slamming French doors).

Assortment

1) Tigerhawk lays out more evidence that global warming is just socialism with a sweaty face.

2) Are BDS sufferers simply progressives who burn with the blue flame of an ethereal moral purity? Nah, I don’t think so.

3) The always-link-worthy Don Surber shows how the Democratic convention in Denver is turning into something of a microcosm of what we can expect if the Donks win the White House and also hold onto majorities in both houses of Congress. The piece ends with an unintentionally hilarious comment from Denver’s mayor.

4) This Obama ad from MoveOn.org is so maudlin, so awash in sentimentality, so risibly mawkish that one wonders if it wasn’t put together by a McCain mole. If Obama does win the election, I think it will reveal the heretofore unsuspected strength and unity of the voting block consisting of emotional cripples.

5) I am kind of excited about this h’yere Civilian National Security force Obama mentioned a while back. In fact, me and the boys already got ourselves organized. Ain’t that right, boys?


Durn straight, Cap’n Paco!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Redlining on the Hope-O-Meter

Not long ago, rumors were circulating about the Obama campaign sponsoring an entry in a NASCAR event. The rumors proved to be untrue, but if the deal had panned out, I wonder if it might not have looked something like this...

The scene: Moody’s Truck Stop and Repair, on I-85 about ten miles outside of Charlotte, N.C. The phone rings. A wiry, grizzled little man in dirty overalls and a baseball cap bearing the Red Man chewing tobacco logo – the owner, Floyd Moody - wipes his hands on a kerosene-soaked rag, and answers.

Floyd: Moody’s Truck Stop and Repair.

Caller (in a smooth voice, like a can of Pennzoil softly glopping into a funnel): Hello, Mr. Moody. My name is David Plouffe. Perhaps you’ve heard of me?

Floyd (scratches his chin in thought): Let’s see now…Plouffe….Plouffe…Um, naw, I don’t recollect…Wait a minute. You’re not that independent hauler who pulled in here last year in a pink Mack truck, are ya? The one with the big trailer that had a picture of a tube a’ KY Jelly on the sides? Got roughed up by some of the boys over to Melissa’s diner? ‘Cause iff’n it’s you, I can tell ya, none a’ my mechanics had nuthin’ to do with it.

Plouffe: No, no. I’m the campaign manager for Senator Barack Obama.

Floyd: Well, ya’ll are barkin’ up the wrong tree, Mister. In the first place, I’m supportin’ McCain, and in the second place, even if I was votin’ for your guy, they wouldn’t be no money involved. See, my wife Ada jes’ had a hip replacement…

Plouffe: No, you misapprehend me, Mr. Moody.

Floyd: I what?

Plouffe: You misunderstand. The Obama campaign doesn’t want you to give us money; we want to give you money.

Floyd: Come again?

Plouffe: You used to sponsor a NASCAR race team, didn’t you?

Floyd: Yeah, my repair shop here ran a car seven or eight years ago. Got too expensive for us, though, and we folded the operation up.

Plouffe: But you still know the ropes. You’ve got some men you can put together on short notice to staff a pit crew.

Floyd: I reckon so. ‘Course, could be kinda hard to pick up a driver on short notice. And what about the car?

Plouffe: The Obama campaign can provide a car, and a driver for the main race. We just need some fellows in the pit who can take care of the car and give us some tactical advice, and a driver who can do the qualifying rounds. And we’ll pay you well.

Floyd: I might get Earl Hunneycutt to drive the qualifyin’ laps; I ‘spect he’s out on parole now. But, as I said, me an’ the boys all support McCain; though I s’pose we could wear sunglasses and false beards – y’know, to protect our honor. Ya’ll pay well, is that what I heard ya say?

Plouffe: Very well, Mr. Moody.

Floyd: W-e-l-l, Ada has been wantin’ one of them fanny tucks. See, the other night down to Smokey’s Tavern, we was sittin’ at the bar soakin’ on a coupla beers, and when we got up to leave, Ada’s bar stool followed her out.

Plouffe: Really, Mr. Moody, I don’t need to know…

Floyd: Didn’t even notice till we climbed into the car an’ her head poked through the sun roof like the top of a Christmas tree.

Plouffe: What you do with the money is your own business, sir. I’ll be in touch. Good afternoon.

(With the help of massive infusions of scotch, Plouffe, at the end of a long day, was finally able to eradicate the image of Ada Moody and her traveling bar stool from his mind).

* * *

On the big race day, an hour before the event was to commence, Floyd Moody’s mechanics stood around in the pit, under a rainbow-colored “Hope and Change” banner. Jake scratched his face incessantly.

Jake: Man! Why did Floyd insist on us wearing false beards? We already got real ones.

Billy Ray: I dunno. But he’s givin’ the orders and that extra five hundred dollars for a day’s work at the race ain’t gonna hurt none.

Jake: May be. But I got to tell ya, Billy Ray, this is the craziest race I ever heard of, let alone been associated with. I mean, first, Obama’s campaign guy has a car delivered by some bewildered leasing company employee; the car’s already been souped up, and the seats tore out, and it’s been repainted (Jake scowled as he looked at the banner over the pit; a faithful recreation of the car’s lavish new paint job ). An’ what the hell did he want to go an’ put runnin’ boards on a race car for? Lord only knows what the Avis people are goin’ to think of it when it gets returned. Then, Earl Hunneycutt has the best day of his life during the qualifying rounds, and places the car in the 12th spot, and what happens? We have to bounce Earl and use some mystery driver – who still ain’t showed up, yet, mind you. And to top it all off (here, Jake dropped his voice, not wanting her to overhear him), some middle-aged female shows up this morning claiming to be an extra pit hand sent by the Obama people.

Billy Ray: I can’t argue you with you on any of that, Jake. It all does sound kind of fishy.

Jake: Durn straight it sounds fishy! And what do you expect happens just a little while ago? Obama’s pal, Jesse Jackson showed up! He wasn’t here ten minutes before he gets to talkin’ with some biker dude wearin’ a black Dale Earnhart cap – the number “3” was right there in front, clearly visible – and Jackson up and says how he always thought Dale, Sr. was overrated.

Billy Ray (Whistles in awe): What happened to Jackson, then?

Jake: I don’t know. I couldn’t get close enough to the ambulance driver to find out. Hey, what’s all that commotion over there? Who is…

Jake’s jaw dropped, like a loose tailgate on a Ford 150, and he gaped, with an expression on his face of surprise and horror, not unlike what one would anticipate seeing on the map of the village atheist come judgment day. The crowd near the pits opened up to reveal a tall, slender black man in a rainbow-colored jumpsuit approaching. He carried a modified racing helmet under his arm (there were two little hollow pods, one on each side of the helmet, no doubt to provide room for his substantial ears), and he was accompanied by four black-suited security men, their eyes shaded with sunglasses, their heads bristling with electronic communications gear.

It was Obama, himself, all dressed up and ready to drive. Floyd Moody came bustling up to see what was what. “Say, listen here, Senator! We didn’t have no idea you was the mystery driver!”

Obama smiled warmly at his pit crew. “Hi, fellas! Yeah, David Plouffe thought it would be better if I surprised you. Don’t worry. I watched Days of Thunder - twice.”

“B-but”, Floyd Sputtered, “there’a a whole lot you jes’ can’t pick up from watchin’ a movie, Senator.”

Obama frowned. “Look, Floyd. I’ve got to do this thing.” He turned and swept an arm across the stands. “This is the quickest way for me to win the hearts and minds of these gun-toting Bible-thumpers, and I’m going to need all the support I can get. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go climb aboard my chariot.”

A few moments later, Obama’s legs were waggling in the air helplessly. Jake and Billy Ray each grabbed a limb and pulled him from the car.

“You’re supposed to climb in feet first, Senator”, Billy Ray explained.

“Ok, ok, I’ve got it now. There!” He settled himself behind the wheel. “Well, fellas, there’s the announcement to start!” Obama’s pit crew was startled when he turned to his Secret Service handlers and shouted, “Come on, Gentlemen!”, but not nearly as startled as when the agents climbed on the running boards – two agents on each side of the car – just before Obama pulled his car onto the track to take up his position in the lineup.

“Hey!” Floyd yelled. “They can’t ride on the outside of your car!”

But Obama was gone. He pulled into position; however, the start of the race was delayed as NASCAR officials descended on Obama’s car. There were some sharp exchanges between the Secret Service agents and the officials, a flurry of calls to Washington, and ultimately the agents reluctantly returned to the pit. Then the green flag dropped, and the cars roared into action.

By the completion of the third lap, Obama had, astonishingly, moved from his 12th-place starting position to 8th place, primarily because some of his maneuvers had led to several near-collisions, and one spin-out that had disabled Mark Martin’s Chevrolet, causing Martin, nearly apoplectic with rage, to retire from the race (the symbolism of the episode was particularly unfortunate; Martin’s car was sponsored by the U.S. Army). The senator’s peculiar driving had made the other competitors extremely wary. For one thing, he had a habit of sticking his arm out of the window whenever he intended to pass. He had also once stepped on his brakes to avoid hitting a butterfly that had haplessly fluttered across the track, forcing Greg Biffle to swerve and bounce off the wall, and to make an otherwise unnecessary pit stop. Whatever political hay he might have been making with the fans, he was not winning any votes among the drivers and their crews.

Floyd finally signaled him to pull into the pits for gas and new tires. The mysterious woman who had showed up as a member of Obama’s pit crew shoved Jake out of the way; “I’ll take care of the tires on the driver’s side”, she yelled in a loud voice – a voice that sounded vaguely familiar to Jake, although he couldn’t quite place it. Meanwhile, Floyd gave the senator as much advice as he could in the minute or two that the car was being refitted and fueled “Senator, unless you’re lookin’ to become the country’s first one-armed president, you’d better keep both hands on the wheel! And maintain a steady speed, don’t be pumpin’ those breaks!”

Obama sipped from a bottle of water that had been handed to him, and smiled. “I hear you, Floyd. You know, I think I’m really beginning to get the hang of this sport!” Billy Ray smacked the hood, indicating that the crew were finished, and Obama zipped back onto the track.

The rainbow-colored Chevy (bearing the slogan “Hope and Change”, plus a small ad for Tony Rezko’s bail bondsman) sped along the track, pulling toward the wall going into the high, banking turns, and cutting toward the inside of the track coming out of the turns. Obama did, indeed, seem to be getting the hang of things. Suddenly, however, a tire blew out. Hope and Change skidded and caromed off the wall.

Billy Ray: Damn! Did you see that, Jake? Obama had a blowout! And his car’s rollin’!

Jake: No, Billy Ray, it ain’t rollin’. It’s just sorta…bouncin’. Looky there! The car came down on the roof and then bounced over onto the tires and then bounced onto the roof again. It ain’t rollin’; it’s flip-floppin’!

Fire rescue teams streaked onto the track where the car had finally come to rest. Although the car hadn’t caught fire, the rescue squad sprayed it down with their fire extinguishers, just to be safe. When Floyd and his boys came huffing up, they immediately began clamoring to know how the senator was doing. “Is he hurt real bad?”, Floyd asked, in a trembling voice.

“Naw,” said the paramedic, who had pulled the senator from the car and checked him out. “No broken bones or nothin’; he’s just shook up a might. He seems kinda delirious, though; seems to think he’s bought the farm You might want to try to talk to him.”

Floyd cradled Obama in his arms; the Senator spoke weakly. “Whole world…could’ve been…hope and change…”

Jake turned to Billy Ray. “I wonder what the hell happened to that tire? We had just put it on…or rather…that woman did…” Jake frowned and scratched his head.

* * *

A middle-aged woman in a navy blue pantsuit emerged from the restroom under the stands carrying a dirty, rolled up jumpsuit under her arm, which she tossed into the first trash can that she spotted. She had short blond hair and wore a wide-brimmed straw hat, into which she was fastening an extremely long stainless steel hatpin that bore more than a passing resemblance to a boot dagger. A pair of large-framed dark glasses obscured her visage, but her ankles – suggestive of a saurapod from the late Jurassic period – fleetingly reminded a few NASCAR enthusiasts of someone they had seen a lot of over, seemingly, the last two decades. They couldn’t exactly remember who she put them in mind of, but the faint and imperfect recollection was uniformly tinged with a visceral distaste.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

That's M'Boy!

Five-year old boy goes over the wall at his daycare center, escapes to Hooters restaurant (via the excellent Emigre With a Digital Cluebat).

I Like Ike

From the vaults of TV political ads, comes this Disney-produced commercial for Dwight Eisenhower.

WWBD?



Obama, before a large crowd in Berlin: "And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life."

The crowd gasped as a big man, wearing the dirty uniform of an American soldier, walked across the stage, drew his bayonet from its sheath and, quick as a flash, reached inside Obama's jacket and cut his suspenders; the Senator's slacks subsequently fell down around his ankles. The big man glared at the Democratic candidate through hooded eyes. "Let me tell you something, Junior. We were in Berlin in 1945 as gatecrasher's at Mr. A. Hitler's genocide party. This is where we put a stop to Nazi aggression. A couple hundred thousand allied troops stopped along the way to be buried. Just thought you might need reminding." Mitchum sheathed his bayonet, waved down a jeep, climbed aboard, and sped off through the crowd.

Another Enemy of the People Identified

Just in time to celebrate Revolution Day in Cuba, Raul Castro finds something else to blame on global warming.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

"PIG EATER"

The Dissident Frogman shares some hilarious correspondence he has had recently with some of his Muslim friends.

Or, as the New York Times Might Put It, "Supreme Court Confirms Right to Bear Arms; Lawnmowers, Grass Hardest Hit"

Man vs. Machine.

I’m Sorry I Can’t Take Your Call…

The hotline telephone rings in the President’s sleeping quarters in the White House at 3:00 AM on an early spring morning in 2009. On the other end of the line is an anxious Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Mullen: Come on, come on…Pick up…
Obama’s voice (against the background music of the Hallelujah Chorus): “Hello, this is the President...”
Mullen: Mr. President! Thank God! Admiral Mullen here. The Iranians have just launched missiles at Israel…
Obama: “I’m sorry I can’t take your call right now; however, your call is important to me, so if you’ll leave a message at the tone, I’ll get back to you at the first available opportunity.”
Mullen: What?!?
Obama: “Or, you can choose from the following menu…”
Mullen: I…
Obama: “If you are using a rotary telephone, please stay on the line and one of our operators will be with you as soon as possible. Current waiting time is estimated at…twenty minutes…”
Mullen: Damn! We haven’t got twenty minutes!
Obama: “If this is an emergency military situation, please touch ‘1’ for Admiral Mullen…”
Mullen: I’M ADMIRAL MULLEN!!
Obama: “If this is a non-military foreign policy emergency, please touch ‘2’ for William Ayres, the Secretary of State..."
Mullen: This is preposterous!
Obama: “If you are a television news anchor who is ‘in the tank’, and would like to conduct a personal interview, please touch ‘3’ for Reverend Jeremiah Wright, White House Communications Director…”
Mullen: Oh, sure. The guy who called me a honky sailor at the last cabinet meeting? That’s likely.
Obama: “If you are a lobbyist or campaign fund raiser, please touch ‘4’ for the White House cashier…”
Mullen: We’re on the verge of war, and I get this hambone’s message machine. Un-freakin’-believable!

There is suddenly a clicking noise on the White House end of the line. An angry female voice is heard

Woman’s voice: Hello. Who is this?
Mullen (surprised): Who the hell is this?
Woman: This is Madame de la President, that’s who the hell this is! Now I’ll ask you one more time, who are you and what are you doing calling the White House at three o’clock in the morning? I’ve been laying here listening to that damn telephone answering machine for five minutes
Mullen: Mrs. Obama, this is Admiral Mullen and we’ve got an international emergency on our hands. I need to talk to the President immediately.
Michelle: Well, you can just call down to the Oval Office, ‘cause he’s sleeping on the couch.
Mullen: Mrs. Obama, I really need to talk to the President.
Michelle: Yeah, well, I really need to talk to him, too. In fact, I was talking to him plenty – and loud - about calling out some strange woman’s name in his sleep – Brunhilde or something like that – he’s been doing it for months, ever since he got back from Germany last summer. So tonight, I finally had enough and whomped him a good one upside the head, and he woke up and got all in my face, and I said, ‘You keep sassin’ me that way, Mr. Hope and Change, and you’re gonna find yourself hoping I don’t change your face, and…and…(Michelle suddenly bursts into tears)
Mullen: Ma’am, what’s wrong?
Michelle (wailing): I can’t help it! I still love the jug-eared chump!
Mullen (in a state of utter desperation): Mrs. Obama…er…Michelle, how about this: you give me the President’s cell phone number and I’ll call him and before I even mention a brand new war breaking out, I’ll straighten him out on this Brunhilde business. How would that be?
Michelle(whimpering): Would you really do that for me, Captain?
Mullen: Admiral.
Michelle(excitedly): Oh, don’t you worry about that, honey! You fix it up between Barack and me and I’ll personally see to it that you’re promoted! Now, here’s the number: 555-5574.
Mullen: Thank you ma’am. Goodnight.

(Mullen quickly dials the cell phone number; a familiar voice answers):
Obama: This is the President.
Mullen: Thank God I was able to reach you sir! The Iranians…
Obama: “I’m sorry I can’t take your call, but if you’ll leave a message at the tone, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Peace.”

Friday, July 25, 2008

Godspeed, Randy

Tizona has lots of good links to articles on the Randy Pausch story. A brave man who faced his mortality with great courage, and who left a legacy of love and inspiration to his family and students, he will be sorely missed. Please pray for his family.

Assortment

1) Don Surber fact-whips Obama senseless.

2) Ten historical mysteries, via The Scribbler’s Pen.

3) If you’re going to jail, you’re already looking at an awful experience, so do yourself a favor: don’t make it worse.

4) Also, if you’re already in jail, doing light time at a minimum security facility, the same thing goes: don’t make it worse (H/T to friend and commenter, Mojo).

5) I drink lots and lots of espresso. If you’re fond of the genuine café cubano, Marta at Babalú shows you how to do it up right.

6) One begins to wonder: does T. Boone Pickens really believe in the efficacy of wind power, or is he just talking up a bad investment? Conceptually, wind power sounds like a great idea, and it may actually be; but I’m concerned that the usual suspects are going to flog it as an excuse to avoid drilling for oil (which, in fairness to Pickens, is not, I believe, an argument he has made).

7) ”A little vegemite on your platypus fritters, luv?”

Update: Friend and commenter Retread draws attention to another Don Surber post on matters environmental.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Friday Happy Feet

Louis Jordan was a fine musician, song-writer and showman. He began his professional career in the 1930's, and with his small group, the Tympani Five, handily made the transition from swing to post-war R&B. Here he is with "Buzz Me, Baby."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

From the Shelves of the Paco Library


Imagine being a cop on the Los Angeles police force for nearly 24 years, and retiring after a successful career with the respect and admiration of your colleagues and your supervisors. Imagine, further, that in retirement you have taken up a cold case to investigate – and not just any cold case, but one of the most sensational unsolved murders in American history. Finally, picture yourself discovering, after an exhaustive investigation, that the murderer was, in all likelihood, your own father.

This is not a screenplay dreamed up by an over-imaginative writer of crime dramas, but one of the most gripping pieces of non-fiction I’ve ever read: Black Dahlia Avenger, by Steve Hodel. The Black Dahlia, of course, was Elizabeth Short, a young woman who followed the path beaten by so many dreamers as they made their way to California in the 1930’s and ‘40’s. Most of them ended up being disappointed. Elizabeth Short wound up being tortured to death; her corpse was cut in half with surgical precision and left lying a foot or so from the road in a residential neighborhood where it was discovered by a woman and her young daughter on the morning of January 15, 1947.

Dr. George Hodel, the author’s father, had led a varied life – classical pianist, newspaper reporter and ultimately a physician (though he never practiced as a surgeon, he excelled at the discipline in medical school). He was also a sex-obsessed hedonist and an admirer of de Sade who numbered among his friends in Hollywood the actor/director, John Huston, and the avant-garde photographic artist, Man Ray (one of the most haunting lines of speculation pursued by the author is the possible relationship between Man Ray’s photograph, The Minotaur, and the staging of Elizabeth Short’s corpse).

The book is filled with the materials that would have made for excellent film noir: Hollywood, sex, corrupt cops, ghastly murders, and a dogged detective whose childhood memories resolve themselves into important clues as he embarks on the greatest challenge of his life. Does Steve Hodel prove his case? In my opinion, if he has not definitively closed the book on the case, he has at least made an extremely compelling argument – the best one I have seen advanced, so far. And whether you ultimately buy his theory or not, the book is a fascinating – indeed, a mesmerizing – look at the culture and society of post-war L.A., and an example of the truly awesome deductive powers of a first-rate investigative mind.

Worrisome News

Linda, who runs the feisty, no-nonsense blog "Something...and Half of Something", is suffering from a brain tumor. She has licked it before and I imagine she'll lick it again, but some heartfelt prayers wouldn't go amiss.

Israel Will Always Have At Least One Friend - Itself

Obama: ""Well, let me -- let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel's. It will be a strong friend of Israel's under a McCain government -- administration. It will be a strong friend of Israel's under an Obama administration. So that policy is not going to change." Here's the rest.

I know, I know; he was tired. That's why, when that phone rings at 3 am in the morning, we can all take comfort in the existence of voice mail.

H/T to Cap'n Heinrichs

The Incredible Lightness of John Edwards’ Integrity

The Democratic Party hocked up a particularly repulsive slate of presidential candidates this year, and the individual to whom I took the most active and instant dislike was John Edwards. A successful, yet nonetheless sleazy, liability lawyer who rode the gravy train to the end of the line, he was well known for his melodramatic courtroom antics; he once “channeled” the spirit of his client’s dead child, which tactic, had I been a juror, would not only have convinced me to vote for acquittal of the defendant, but would have emboldened me to reach out from the jury box and try to strangle Edwards with his own hundred dollar necktie. The hypocrisy of this fat-cat ambulance chaser and owner of a house the size of a shopping center trying to pass himself off as a defender of the poor was revolting, and I got the distinct impression that he was attempting to treat the electorate as if it were constituted of the sort of mental midgets who made up most of his juries. A sufficient quantity of voters, however, either saw through this monumental fraud, or were fetched by the comparatively greater charms of the other candidates, so Edwards was ultimately swept into the dustbin of presidential history.

Perhaps that explains why it was left up to the National Enquirer to track this inflatable Ken doll of a man to a hotel in Los Angeles, where he reportedly spent the night with his mistress and his love child – while his wife was back home in North Carolina, battling cancer. Of course, he apparently had other reasons for being in Los Angeles: per the Enquirer, “The former senator attended a press event Monday afternoon with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on the topic of how to combat homelessness.” Interesting topic, John; why don’t you just invite the homeless to stay with you?.

Death By 1000 Paper Cuts has more.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Protester Fails to Make Global Warming Argument Stick

Idiot tries to glue himself to the British PM.

What'd He Say?


In an exchange with Terry Moran, Obama had this to say:

"So the point that I was making at the time was that the political dynamic was the driving force between that sectarian violence. And we could try to keep a lid on it, but if these underlining dynamic continued to bubble up and explode the way they were, then we would be in a difficult situation. I am glad that in fact those political dynamic shifted at the same time that our troops did."

Sounds kinda like Lewis Carroll translated via Babel Fish into Finnish and then back again.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Oh, and Katie? Watch the Pottie Mouth, Sweetie

Obama offers some fashion tips to the female reporters accompanying him on his crash-course field trip to the Middle East.

Alberta the Beautiful



I just saw a great western on the A&E cable channel: Open Range, starring Robert Duval and Kevin Costner (2003). A fine story about loyalty, honor and redemption, with some splendid acting; however, the real star of the movie seemed to me to be the location. I cannot remember the last time I saw such breathtaking scenery: those high green hills, and the biggest, bluest sky in the world. The movie was filmed on location in Alberta, Canada, which is a place I hope I'm privileged to see some day.

Sounds Good to Me

Attorney General Michael Mukasey has called for a formal declaration of war against al Quaeda. Naturally, "Democrats in control of Congress and civil rights groups reacted coolly, saying Mukasey's proposals would avert legal oversight and stack the deck in favor of the administration." That last part intrigues me greatly: "stack the deck in favor of the administration." So the Democrats are...what, exactly? Trying to insure a fair playing field between terrorists and the Bush administration? Are the Democrats under the impression that the war on terror is some kind of contest between al Quaeda and George Bush, personally? If I were the sort of person to...you know...doubt their patriotism...it might cause me to formulate some very wicked notions about the Democrats' capacity - perhaps even their willingness - to grasp reality.

Dog Bites Man


The spirit of Walter Duranty lives on at the New York Times!

Pretty shocking: NYT runs an op-ed by Obama, but rejects one by McCain. Why not just change the name of the paper, for the duration of the campaign, to The Obama Herald? Perhaps the editors were afraid that a McCain op ed would hurt Obama's off-off Broadway foreign policy box office. In any event, this is pretty lame, even for the Times; they're just phoning in their hypocrisy these days.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Al Gore Has A Dream


Well, yes, that one's interesting, too, but the one I'm talking about is his dream of ruining the country in order to save it.

John Pethokoukis has a great short article at U.S. News & World Report in which he estimates the price tag of Big Al's full-option climate change package at a cool $5 trillion dollars. "Gore's fantastic—in the truest sense of the word—proposal is almost unfathomably pricey and makes sense only if you think that not doing so almost immediately would result in an uninhabitable planet." Hence all the scare tactics and overheated (so to speak) rhetoric: you're not going to squeeze that kind of cabbage out of the American people unless they think they're just this side of doomed.

The really frightening thing, though, is that, as the long march of history has taught us, no idea is so fantastic that a sufficient quantity of politicians, social quacks, scientific frauds, professional fanatics and poltroonish citizens can't be found to give it a whirl, regardless of the ultimate cost in capital and even human lives (vide the South Sea Bubble, prohibition, National Socialism, Communism, Jimmy Carter's foreign policy; the list is practically endless). Now, I suspect that the majority of my fellow citizens aren't quite ready for a nation covered in bird-slaughtering windmills and lined with highways clogged with pedal cars. But one never knows, for sure.

So, I urge those of my countrymen who are concerned for the preservation, not only of their individual liberty, but of our country's economic strength, to remember that Obama has signaled his intention of finding Gore a place at the table in his administration. Ironic, isn't it? Al Gore has once again given intelligent and rational citizens an important reason to go to the polls this November.

Bloodless Stalinism

The Environmental Protection Agency offers a good example of the process by which representative democracy is enervated through bureaucratic fiat. This is a serious attempt to exercise almost dictatorial control over a large section of our economy, and anybody who thinks I'm exaggerating should look into the history of the EPA's aggressive prosecution of wetlands "violations", which wound up sending people to jail without trial and led to the imposition of ruinous fines.

Australian Sets New Record

Crickey! She's lucky she didn't spontaneously combust.

Keith Olbermann: Journalistic Prostitute

The idea of Keith Olbermann – former sportscaster-turned-leftist-banshee - calling anybody a clown is ironic; that he should refer to a real man and a genuine American hero like Colonel Day as such is insane.

I need not add much in the way of criticism to the mountain of opprobrium Olbermann has brought upon himself, except to add that attention junkies who routinely distort the facts and tell blatant lies have no place in anything that purports to be a news organization. MSNBC is helping to dig the grave of the mainstream media – so I guess there is a slight upside to all this (for those with a clinical interest in the walking bag of social pathologies that is Keith Olbermann, you might want to check out Olbermann Watch).

Update: Commenter reunionpi suggests a few lines of inquiry with respect to Keith Obi-Wank-Canoodle. I found this article which opens with a very revealing quote from the Twerpissimo himself: “My frustration has been over many years of never being able to be an irresponsible kid,” says Olbermann. “I’ve always felt like I was the designated driver 24 hours a day.”

Swell. Keith Olbermann=Howard Sprague on crystal meth.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Any Volunteers?


Obama calls for Universal Volunteer Service

A short, portly boy of about eleven years of age stands at a makeshift podium in the club house (his uncle’s barn). Several children of approximately the same age fidget on rough benches, waiting for the speaker to call the meeting to order. In lieu of a gavel, he uses an old hammer to get their attention.

“Ok, gang, I know you’re all wondering why I called this emergency meeting. Well, I’ve got an exciting announcement. President Obama has issued our club a commission in the National Volunteer Service Organization! (The audience erupts in cheers) And since we’re the first group of kids to receive a commission, we’ve been designated the O-Team! That’s right, gang: we’re now officially Obamateers! (More cheers and applause). The President also sent us personal membership cards. Here, hand these out, will you Buckwheat?

Buckwheat: Huh? Not me, ‘panky! Ya’ll seem to have missed the si’nificance of this ‘lection. Git one a’ these white kids to do the work for a change, o-tay?

Spanky: You’re absolutely right, Buckwheat! Here, Froggy, pass these out. Fellas, I hope you appreciate the opportunity we’ve been given to help build a progressive America, and that you’ll all pitch in and help President Obama.

Darla: I think he’s cute!

Spanky: Gang, there’s just this one thing. Since this is a volunteer effort, there’s no direct government funding. So I’m going to pass the hat and take up a collection to get us started (Spanky removes his beanie and begins to hand it around; after a few moments, he returns to the podium).

Spanky (takes a quick count): One dollar and seventy-five cents. We’re off to a great start! (he holds up the commission to another round of cheers).

Suddenly, a small stone zips through the air, punching a hole in the commission, right through the “O” in “Organization”.

Spanky ( scowling): Who did that?

Alfalfa: Dang! Look, everybody! Republicans!

Butch and “Woim”, having entered the barn quietly, come swaggering down the aisle, their newsboy hats pulled down low. Butch is carrying a slingshot in his hand.

Butch: Whadda you commies think you’re up to?

Woim: (in the echoing fashion of the unimaginative sidekick): Heh, heh! Yeh, whadda you commies think you’re up to?

Spanky: We’ve signed up with the National Volunteer Service Organization. We’re going to do our bit to make this a truly progressive nation.

Butch: Oh, yeah? Like what?

Woim: Heh, heh! Yeh, like what?

Spanky: The usual things progressives do: we’re going to recycle cans, sign petitions to prohibit drilling in ANWR and inform on our parents’ excessive carbon emissions to the government.

Butch: Well, ya ain’t gonna get much done with that dollar and seventy-five cents, so I’ll just relieve you of the getus. Me and the Woim figure to make a down payment on a pack of cigarettes.

Alfalfa (dressed in his junior plus-fours, his hair pomaded, the famous seven-inch cowlick standing straight up at the back of his head like a Sioux chief’s eagle feather, approaches Butch, shaking his fist): You can’t get away with this!

Butch: Oh, yeah? (he reloads his slingshot and fires a stone at Alfalfa’s head, neatly severing his cowlick)

Alfalfa ( reaching his hand up to feel the stump of his cowlick): Oh, no! My personality!

Mickey ([Ed. Note: Robert Blake] sidles up to Spanky and whispers): Listen, Spanky, there’s a gun in the glove compartment of my father’s Nash, and it’s parked just a few blocks from here outside an Italian restaurant. I could run and get it, come back here and plug these mugs, and we could pin the whole thing on the Bowery Boys.

Spanky: No, Mickey. We’re going to handle this the way President Obama would want us to. ( Spanky turns to Butch and Woim) Ok, Butch. We surrender.

Aussie Commie-Lover Debates Cuban-American Commie-Hater

This should be of particular interest to Australian readers.

Update: Father Bob Maguire calls Henry Gomez a fascist, courageously waiting until Mr. Gomez had finished his interview and was in no position to respond (Mr. Gomez only learned of the insult through the notice given by a commenter at the Babalu blog).

Paco Botanica

The secret Paco Command Center in Occupied Northern Virginia is enjoying a glorious burst of color this summer, which gives the recuperating Mrs. Paco something nice to look out the window at.

The above pictured plant is a moonflower, which generates numerous brilliant white, trumpet shaped flowers. Each flower, when it's ready to blossom, is rolled tight, like a fancy napkin at an overpriced restaurant, and it suddenly unravels in the blink of an eye. The flower only blooms after the sun goes down, and it withers and dies the next morning when the sun rises (kind of like vampires, or the shelf-life of Obama's latest foreign policy pronouncement).


The gladiolas are starting to bloom, and what a magnificent flower it is. The blossoms tend to be so heavy that they pull the stalk down to the ground, so I try and cut them for interior display before they wind up lying there like a bunch of drum majors, passed out in their gaudy uniforms from an excess of strong drink.


This perennial hibiscus has great, flashy-looking red flowers the size of bread plates.


Some beautiful orange dahlias. These flowers, along with the gerberas, tend to attract goldfinches, which savagely tear the petals off. I am bound by an oath to friend and commenter Rebecca not to get after the little devils with a shotgun; in fact, I am pleased to report that I have decided to enter into peace talks with the finches. My lead negotiator will be the neighbor's cat.

Mrs. Paco sends her regards. She is still in considerable pain, but ever so slowly is on the mend. Please remember to pray for blogger kae's mother, who has also recently undergone surgery for a serious illness.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Maybe It's a Thyroid Problem

I'm not sure that having to scrimp on food is such a bad idea for these ladies (caution: the NPR article linked to by Moonbattery has a photo with the usual tag for enlarging. It's up to you, of course, but I really don't see the need).

Have a Cigar?

Good to see that British investigators are not letting little things like honor killings and home invasions keep them from doing important work - like checking on the origins of Boris Johnson’s cigar humidor.

By the way, Humiblog is a good source of information on cigars. I used to be quite the connoisseur, myself, many years ago, and had gotten to a point where I could identify the country where the filler leaf was grown without prior knowledge of the brand (this is small potatoes when you consider that there are genuine experts – not mere dilettantes like me – who can tell you what side of a particular mountain the leaf was grown on). A cigar store in North Carolina would occasionally give me samples of new brands and ask my opinion.

In the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s, I still found certain Havana’s to be the best; however, socialism eventually ruins everything, and I noticed that the Cuban government was growing slack in its quality control. At their best, of course, Cuban cigars were (and are) the gold standard of smoking; but the consistency is no longer dependable (the Zino Davidoff firm ultimately canceled its contract with Cuba for the production of cigars under the Davidoff name, precisely because of quality issues). When the price of cigars went through the roof, I eventually gave up smoking them on a daily basis, and became what I am now: virtually a “skid row” smoker, who gets his nicotine from Winchester Little Cigars (machine-made gaspers that look like cigarettes).

And here’s a remarkable, but true, story for you. The only Playboy magazine I ever bought was one that had a lengthy article on cigars ( here’s the cover of the issue I’m talking about, graced by the lovely Anne Randall). I was attending the University of Detroit in the fall semester of 1973, and one evening, after polishing off a hot dog and an order of vinegar fries at a little diner near the campus (I regret that I have forgotten the name of the restaurant, but I think it was a Greek place; Onassis Coney Island , or Nathan’s, perhaps?). I walked back to the dormitory and on the way saw this issue at a news stand. I forked over the money – eager to improve my knowledge of cigars – and later sat in my room poring over the article (shielding my eyes, of course, from the lascivious charms of Miss Randall - Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! - Dang! I keep forgetting to turn off the Mendacimeter). Anyhow, I eventually became a great partisan of the Hoyo de Monterrey brand, particularly the Excaliber line. In my opinion, Honduran tobacco generally has a richness and body that is closer to the great Cuban leaf than tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic (which I find comparatively milder) and Nicaragua (which varies pretty wildly between bland and sharp).

I still enjoy a good cigar from time to time, but the “golden age” of my smoking career is long gone – when I used to work for a bank in Miami and had exclusive use of the old corporate board room for my office, with its marble floors and walls, and a brass and marble-topped table that was so large that it had to be lifted up by crane to the third floor when the bank building was constructed in 1938; I could puff away to my heart's content. Impossible these days, of course.

I Don’t Think “Consensus” Means What Gore Thinks It Means


“What? You mean, global warming is just a load of crap after all?”

Nah, just kidding. Not about global warming fears being a load of crap; I mean about the likelihood of Big Al ever being susceptible to reason on the subject. He’s not about to admit that his gold mine doesn’t contain anything but pyrite.

But there’s no excuse for people who have at least a modicum of honesty and cognitive ability not to see the light.

First off, check out this article by Dr. David Evans, who has actually worked on carbon emissions models (h/t Cold Fury). Second, note the source of financial support given to “brave” little whistle-blower, James Hansen, at NASA.

And third, ask yourselves this question: even if anthropogenic global warming were to be established as a material threat, based on hard scientific fact, do we really want statist solutions cooked up by monomaniacal political losers and elitist, power-mongering market manipulators?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Friday Happy Feet

The Fabulous Dorseys is a (largely fictionalized) bio-pic released in 1947. As you would expect from a movie that purports to tell the story of Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, there are lots of good tunes; however, my favorite is “Art Tatum’s Blues”, a jam session with a great “after hours” look and sound, featuring some of the greats of the swing era (the Dorseys themselves, of course, plus Charlie Barnett, Ziggy Ellman, Ray Bauduc, and, as the song title suggests, Art Tatum). The session starts out with blues, but ultimately switches over to a foot-stomper. Nice solos and some swingin’ ensemble work make this one that I wish I could have seen in person.

Cerveza, Sí, Stroh’s Light, No!

Babalú has a link to a beer commercial featuring the Maximum Leader, himself. What really makes this funny is the way that the vocal inflections in the dubbing so perfectly match the expressions on Castro's face.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



Vladimir Voinovich is a genius. He’d have to be in order to write a genuine comic novel about Stalinist Russia on the eve of the German invasion.

The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin is a tour de force - and a tour de farce – that has the added advantage of being a scathingly satirical look at the Soviet Union under its most murderous tyrant. Circulated in samizdat prior to its ultimate publication in the west (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1977), the novel followed the path taken by many other great works that came out of Russia during its (entirely too long) Marxist phase.

Private Chonkin is a country bumpkin who is drafted into the Soviet army and winds up being detailed to guard an airplane that has made an emergency landing outside of a small village in the hinterlands. He is completely forgotten by his superiors and settles down as a guest of more or less indefinite duration, easily making the transition back to his peasant way of life. He moves in with a farm girl (Nyura), and calmly adjusts to his new circumstances. When the Germans invade, however, chaos ensues, the assumption is naturally made at all levels of government that the country has been betrayed by spies, and stories begin to circulate about a suspicious-looking soldier hanging around a village far from the front lines. Chonkin, unaware that the secret police have marked him as a spy, takes the selfsame police to be hostiles, captures them when they come looking for him and locks them up. He also temporarily beats back an attempt by a regiment of troops to take him prisoner.

The novel features a large gallery of amusing characters, including a farmer with a scientific bent who makes vodka from excrement, local officials who spend most of their time waiting for somebody to tell them what to do, and two Soviet officers who have a hilarious encounter in which each thinks the other is one of the invading Nazis.

Just a taste (Chonkin is involved in a pitched battle with Soviet troops who are under the impression that they’re up against a detachment of the German army):

“The soldiers of the strike force, wearing their white cloaks, had crept right up to the fence. The general could see each soldier in turn raise himself up a little from the ground and fling his arm. ‘They’re throwing the bottles now,’ surmised the general.

But why wasn’t there any flame?

The general was again connected with the battalion commander. ‘Why aren’t the bottles on fire?’

‘I don’t understand it myself, Comrade One.’

‘Aren’t they lighting them with matches?’ asked the general, raising his voice.

The battalion commander’s heavy breathing could be heard through the phone.

‘I’m asking you,’ said Drinov, without waiting for a reply. ‘Are they lighting the bottles or aren’t they?’

‘No, Comrade General.’

‘Why not?’

‘I didn’t know you were supposed to,’ the battalion commander confessed after a moment’s silence.

‘You’ll learn all about it at your court-martial,’ promised the general. ‘Which commanding officer holds the same rank as you?’

‘Junior Lieutenant Bukashov.’

‘Transfer the command of the battalion to him and place yourself under arrest.’

‘Yes, Comrade One’, came the doleful reply.”

If you enjoy this book, you’ll be interested in the sequel, Pretender to the Throne. I also recommend The Ivankiad, Voinovich’s thinly fictionalized, funny and maddeningly exasperating story about his attempt to obtain an apartment for himself and his wife in Moscow, and The Fur Hat, a tale of comic woe involving a hack Soviet writer, who receives, as a token of recognition, a hat in accordance with his status in the pecking order of Soviet literature; not a hat made of reindeer skin or marmot, but, appallingly, “fluffy tom cat.”

All Clear

Mrs. Paco made it through surgery fine. Was a little baffled, however, when the doctor came out to talk to me. He showed me the x-rays of his disk work, and indicated precisely what he did, but my attention was drawn to a pair of scissors that seemed to be lodged in Mrs. Paco's brain. Apparently, they must have laid them on the side of her head for a moment. I didn't actually ask, but will make sure to do so tomorrow.

Many thanks to you all for your prayers and best wishes; Mrs. Paco was greatly touched.

Retread: In answer to your question in the comments, she's at Fair Oaks. Very nice hospital, and wonderful staff. I believe we'll take all our business there in future.

And from Mojo, here's a little translation comedy for ya!

Book review tomorrow, as usual.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Radio Silence

Blogging is likely to be light for a day or so; Mrs. Paco is having surgery tomorrow to replace a disk in her neck bone. All prayers welcome.

Monday, July 14, 2008

If at First You Don't Succeed...

The excellent Fail Blog.

Blog Shopping

1) Cold Fury - Prime red meat, 24/7.

2) Contentions - Commentary magazine’s blog; more solid common sense and informed analysis on a daily basis than you’ll find practically anywhere else.

3) Plains Feeder - From the heartland of America, unique insights, high comedy and excellent photoshop work.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tune In Next Week, When Skinhead Quakers Burn Down a Mosque

The Brits have definitely developed the habit of whistling through the graveyard.

Sure, I suppose it's possible that militant Christians might behead a Muslim. But, as a television show concept, the whole notion just seems to lack...verisimilitude. It would be like a U.S. crime drama featuring a rash of KKK cross-burnings in , say, Detroit. Now, Detroit has a lot of crime, but white-sheeted, redneck knuckleheads aren't the cause. And militant Christians aren't the cause of the escalating violence in England. To me, it is simply bizarre that the show's creative types would project upon Christians (even militant Christians) a form of murder that has pretty much been the exclusive domain of the fanatical practitioners of the religion shared by this episode's victim.

But of course, if the show had striven for realism, some folks - the kind that do more than simply write a huffy letter to the editor - might have gotten upset. Can't have that - not in a country which has largely become a cultural game preserve for everything Non-British.

Cool It


As usual, the chicken littles are behind the curve: global cooling is now where it's at. In fact, I think we probably don't have to really worry about global warming until we start seeing heart-wrenching articles about polar bears suffering from hypothermia and frostbite.

(Story link via Tigerhawk; photo gratefully swiped from Al Gore's Blog)

Draw! No, Wait!!

The Scibbler's Pen has a great video of an exhibition shooter who fires and hits his targets faster than I can blink.

Take Him Down to the Garage


Obama distances himself from another supporter. I think the senator might be better off with genuine enemies; his friends don't seem to be doing much for him.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Courage



Obama continues to lock himself in the bathroom. Maybe McCain should debate a cardboard cutout (that would still be pretty realistic).

What Next? Backgammon Wrestling?

An exciting new sport (via that indefatigable miner of internet gold, Captain Heinrichs).

Raul Castro: The Abraham Lincoln of Cuba

Fidel Castro has been an unmitigated disaster for Cuba, but his brother, Raul, bids fair to become the Great Emancipator. I mean, just look at the vast array of freedoms he has granted to the Cuban people:

"Since officially taking power, Raul Castro has eased some restrictions on Cubans. They can now stay in hotels, own mobile telephones, and buy appliances such as computers, motorbikes and pressure cookers."


Why, the place is practically Hong Kong! Just think. Cubans can now stay in hotels, own mobile phones, and buy computers and even pressure cookers! Keep up the good work, Raul! Maybe your career really will wind up resembling Lincoln's - right down to the last detail.

More Fabulous Fauxtography

Are We Lumberjacks? has some unique photos of the Iranian missile test.

Incoming!

Tigerhawk schools the Iranians in how to do some real fauxtography.

Tony Snow - RIP

Tony Snow has died of cancer. God bless his soul and comfort his family and friends.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Yum!

Remember that I said the Babalu blog occasionally posts recipes for Cuban specialties? Well, here's one.

Bin Laughin'


Hmm. Looks like "Bin Flip-Floppin'" is missing.

How Low Can Venezuela Go?

Linda at Something...and Half of Something put together some good bullet points from the Commentary article that I linked in a previous post - dealing with the rise of antisemitism in Venezuela - and adds an interesting observation of her own: Venezuela has declined to issue visas to Israelis since 2006.

Hey, Chavez! Hugo to hell!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Friday Happy Feet

Perry Como gets hep to the jive in "Hubba, Hubba, Hubba" (from the 1946 film, Doll Face).

Assortment

1) An astonishingly elegant and perceptive quote.

2) Totalitarians always seem to have it in for the Jews. Hitler, of course, needs no introduction in connection with this phenomenon; Stalin should be familiar as an Anti-Semite, but in case he isn’t, here’s some background. Whatever the reason, I suppose it would be asking too much for Hugo Chavez to be any different.

3) Science marches on.

4) Cuba celebrates this hero of socialist labor (Bagock!)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



Uncle Peter, a retired Communist spy living in Potsdam, sat in his wheel chair enjoying the garden, when the family’s pet pig fell out of a tree, striking him on the neck and killing him instantly.

The beginning of a good Communist joke? No, more like a fitting symbol of the end of the bad joke that was Communism. Rory MacClean begins his marvelous book, Stalin’s Nose: Travels Around the Bloc (published in 1992), with this true story of his uncle’s demise, and he is soon on the road in a Trabant with his newly-widowed Aunt Zita and the murderer – Winston the pig – on a journey of discovery through the ideological (and, in some instances, the physical) ruins of post-communist eastern Europe. By turns funny and sad, the book explores the soul-deadening impact of Communism, and the lead-booted bureaucracy that seems to arise, inevitably, as a result of man’s attempts to theorize away human nature, as if it were little more than a bogus hypothesis.

On this strangest of road trips, we encounter a host of characters and incidents, some comical, some tragic, but almost all reflecting in some important respect the intrinsically evil, and idiotic, nature of totalitarianism. One of the book’s strengths is the skillful weaving into the narrative of Communism’s collapse some of the kaleidoscopic history of Europe, its peoples and prejudices, and the great episodes that have shaped it and reshaped it, for good or ill, for over a thousand years. But the book is also the intensely personal story of Aunt Zita, and of her efforts to exorcise the ghosts of a past haunted by the twin monstrosities of Communism and Nazism (her family broke with her upon her marriage to a Communist, and her brother was an officer in the SS). Along the way, we discover the delectably ironic story of how she first met Uncle Peter. She had been herding pigs, and she and a large sow took a tumble off of a slippery path. The sow landed on top of her, and she was trapped beneath the life-crushing weight, suffocating. Fortunately, a Red soldier happened upon her, shot the pig, and pulled her out from under. It was love at first sight. Many years later, one of the sow’s distant relatives would avenge the species by snapping Peter’s neck.


A few more vignettes:

Jerzy, a slightly tipsy Pole:

“’Forty years of socialism and still no toilet paper,’ said Jerzy as he reemerged. He… hung his coat on a brawny arm and unscrewed the Wyborowa. He poured the vodka and raised his glass in a toast. ‘The Red Fleet.’ We looked surprised. ‘To the bottom.’ He drained his glass. ‘In Gdansk I meet Russian sailor. He hate Poles and told so. Nothing the matter; we hate Russians also. He say Russians more strong and hard and fast and then, insult, he say Russians better drinkers.’ Jerzy poured another round. ‘So my friends and I take him for drinking: pepper vodka, honey vodka, even Zmijowka, vodka marinated by serpent. Of course, he not take; he only Russian and pass under table. So my friends carry him to tattoo maker. And while he dream of virgin in Minsk we tattoo on his chest a damn big Polish eagle. It much money but worth every zloty.’”

On Romania:

“In Romania corruption was not a vice, it was a tradition. The Greeks of Constantinople, the Phanariots, were a particularly duplicitous people who governed the country when it was an Ottoman vassal. Their voracious greed had perverted the society. The kings and dictators who followed continued to debase public morals. The custom continued even after the December revolution. In Romania’s first free election a million more votes were cast than voters registered. The official news agency attributed the discrepancy to ‘the enthusiasm of the people for democracy.’”


Moscow:

Hell may resemble the Moscow Metro: flawless and sterile. The escalator bore us deep down into Satan’s Versailles, a subterranean palace of blast doors and trains that ran on time. Beautifully crafted lies embellished the walls. Beneath the mosaics of loyal workers, offering their labors – rifles, tractors, and loaves – to an altar of red flags, the masses had moved silently during Stalin’s Terror. In grand marble tunnels the only sound was their shuffling feet. Loiterers were brushed aside. Nothing would delay the heroic march. The world wept gray tears when communism was victorious.

We waited no more than half a minute. A silver train whisked us through the burial grounds of a civilization as dead as Rome.”

A unique combination of travel diary, history, political analysis and farce, Stalin’s Nose is both a fun and an instructive read.

An' Yur Another One!

1) For those who are trying to keep up with the civil war in the Anglican communion, Dog Fight at Bankstown and Currency Lad have you covered.

2) Hugo Chavez gets the call (courtesy of captain Heinrichs, internet treasure hunter).

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Obama's Supporters

Why, they're regular folks, just like you and me.

Via the delightful Plains Feeder.

Blog Shopping

1) All Things Beautiful is an absolutely unique blog that combines a passionate commitment to Western values with some amazing art work. The founder of the blog - Alexandra von Maltzan - posts somewhat irregularly, but the site will reward your patience (for example, check out this vision of Shar’ia ). Her family history is very interesting, too, so don’t miss the “About Me” section.

2) Babalu covers the “Workers’ Paradise” in Cuba better than anyone else, in addition to tackling other stories of interest concerning domestic and international politics, plus the occasional recipe for traditional Cuban food (which, if you haven’t tried it, you haven’t lived – gastronomically speaking, anyway).

3) Most of you are probably acquainted with Margo’s Maid’s Shadowlands, but on the outside chance that you’re not, get on over there. She (at least, I assume it’s a she) has embarked on a hilarious attempt to infiltrate and sabotage the anti-semites and BDS sufferers who tend to congregate in the comments section of Pravda’s blog. Shadowlands features some of the sprightliest writing and most imaginative humor around, so pay a visit and join in the fun.

Mojo Risin'

(A guest post by friend and commenter, Mojo: a cautionary tale)

The Unexpected Wisdom of William Claude Dukenfield, Part the First

From: "My Little Chickadee" (1940):

Cuthbert J. Twillie: I'm tending bar one time down in the lower East side in New York... a tough felona comes in there by the name of Chicago Molly. I cautioned her, "None of your peccadilloes in here." There was some hot lunch on the bar comprising of succotash, Philadelphia cream cheese and asparagus with mayonnaise. She dips her mitt down into this melange - I'm yawning at the time - and she hits me right in the mug with it. I jumps over the bar and I knocks her down.

Squawk Mulligan, bartender: [walks up] Where's the funnel?

Cuthbert J. Twillie: I don't know. It's up along there somewhere. You were there the night I knocked Chicago Molly down, weren't you?

Squawk Mulligan, bartender: YOU knocked her down? I was the one that knocked her down.

Cuthbert J. Twillie: [to the barfly] Oh, yeah, yes, that's right. He knocked her down. But I was the one who started kicking her!

Squawk Mulligan, bartender: Here's the funnel.

Cuthbert J. Twillie: [to Squawk] Yeah, OK.

[to barfly]
Cuthbert J. Twillie: I starts kicking her in the midriff. D'ja ever kick a woman in the midriff that had a pair of corsets on?

Barfly drinking "Panther": No, I just can't recall any such incident right now.

Cuthbert J. Twillie: Why I almost broke my great toe. I never had such a painful experience.

Barfly drinking "Panther": Uh, did she ever come back again?

Squawk Mulligan, bartender: I'll say she came back! She came back a week later and beat the both of us up.

Cuthbert J. Twillie: Yeah. But she had another woman with her... an elderly lady with gray hair.


The Moral: Never start kicking a stiff broad unless you're SURE her mother is dead.

Old (Occupied Northern) Virginny


Although Northern Virginia has largely become a bedroom community for Washington, D.C., it is fortunate in that it has avoided being completely paved over with sterile-looking new housing developments and strip malls (not that there isn’t plenty of that type of thing; it’s just not universal).

For example, pictured is a scene from the northern approaches to the secret Paco command center (click to enlarge). Our neighborhood is “mature”, if not genuinely “old” (most of the houses were built back in the 50’s and 60’s), and the place has the aspect of a community that was set right down in an old forest. There are near-by nature trails that, I believe, connect with other trails which run all the way up into Maryland, and wildlife is not hard to find (Mrs. Paco observed a deer in the front yard the other day, and has seen a red fox scampering across the road on her daily walks with Mabel, the Official Dog of Paco Enterprises; in addition, there are thousands of birds and a bumper crop, this year, of squirrels and chipmunks – a veritable zoo, run on the honor system).

If only one could stay off of the main roads, the place wouldn’t be half bad; but, alas, one has to go to the grocery store occasionally or to the mall, and the primary and secondary traffic arteries are almost invariably clotted. This is not surprising – after all, we live in the environs of the nation’s capital. But one wonders why this should necessarily be the case.

Now that we are in the midst of a general election year, and the politicians are all in full bloom - like a garden of poisonous plants, created and lovingly tended by some evil eccentric – it occurs to me, as it has many times before, that there is no longer any good reason to concentrate all of the resources of the federal government in one location. In this age of high technology - computers, e:mail, document scanners, remote access, BlackBerries, coference calls, satellite hook-ups, and so forth, nearly ad infinitum - why shouldn’t the government be distributed rather far and wide? Why not put the Department of Agriculture in, say, Omaha and the Department of Health and Human Services in Santa Fe? The cost of maintaining plant, equipment and armies of federal employees is bound to be much more expensive in a high-rent district such as Washington than in Dubuque, Iowa or San Antonio, Texas. And why not put CIA headquarters in Lizard Lick, North Carolina? Imagine the reduction in those costs associated with the maintenance of security and clandestine operations ; I mean, who would think of looking for it there?

When someone at the State Department wants to talk to someone at the Department of Commerce, do they holler at each other out of their respective windows? Use signal flags? Speak into tin cans linked by a long string? Of course not. They call or e:mail or use their BlackBerries. If they need to have meetings, they have access to an array of telecommunications options - none of which requires the agencies to be in the same town.

And since we are constantly reading about the economic miseries of the “Rust Belt”, why not create job opportunities and spread some of that government getus by relocating the Environmental Protection Agency to Detroit or Cleveland? A side benefit might be that having to live among people who are (arguably) suffering as a result of some of that agency’s rules and regulations would have a sobering effect on the highly-paid bureaucrats who run the organization.

And an intangible, but, I think, important, byproduct of spinning off government agencies across the fruited plains (if they cannot be positively abolished, which would obviously be the best course of action with respect to many of them) would be the deflation of the arrogance and pretentiousness that accumulates on the Ship of State, like so many tons of barnacles and seaweed. The concentration of practically all of the executive functions of the federal government in one central location tends to act as a sort of maelstrom, sucking up resources in an ever-expanding path of centripetal force, and creating a separate and costly infrastructure that only reinforces the self-importance of the State’s minions. For example, I am reasonably sure that if my agency were relocated to, say, Honolulu, I would find it a humbling, but, nonetheless, beneficial, experience. I, for one, am ready to do my part.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Detective Paco in the Lion's Den

I was sitting behind the wheel of a commercial van, driving down K Street in Washington, D.C., a little before 8:00 pm on a Friday night. Sheila and Wronwright sat beside me on the bench seat. Wronwright and I were wearing fake mustaches (Wronwright, once again leaning toward the extravagant, looked like the late Archduke Francis Ferdinand); Sheila had her golden hair tied back in a pony tail under a black beret and her baby-blues were shaded with a pair of Foster-Grants. We were heading toward Barack Obama’s national campaign headquarters. Wronwright asked nervously – and for the tenth time, at least – “Paco, you really think this will work?”

“Psssh!”, I sibilated. “Piece of cake”.

* * *

Barack Obama and David Plouffe, his campaign manager, sat in the large anteroom of Obama’s national campaign headquarters. The paid staffers and the volunteers had worked late – cheerfully so, as is usually the case with starry-eyed dunderheads – and were filing out of the building, in two’s and three’s. Obama and Plouffe waved good night to them, and by a quarter past eight they were the last people remaining. Plouffe, sitting in a police-precinct type oak chair beside a deal table, reached into his pocket to extract a cigarette lighter. In doing so, he accidentally pulled out a small, silver-colored flash drive. He smiled lovingly at the item, and waggled it at Obama, who laughed nervously as he fumbled for a cigarette in his pack of Virginia Slims. Plouffe reached into his pocket again and pulled out his lighter, fired up a cigar – also offering a light to Obama - and then placed the lighter and the flash drive on the table. As he puffed on the stogie, Plouffe hooked a thumb behind each red silk strap of his braces, and swelled with the self-satisfaction of a political operator who has just successfully “pulled a fast one”.

“Are you sure this was a good idea?”, Obama asked. To cover his anxiety, he took a long draw on his cigarette, rounded his lips, and blew a smoke ring which wobbled and expanded and settled briefly over his head, like a warped halo.

Plouffe gave Obama a penetrating look. “You’re not coming down with a case of ethics all of a sudden, are you Senator?”

“No, no; nothing like that. I just don’t want to get caught.”

Plouffe relaxed again, and flashed a wide smile. “I guarantee you the operation is absolutely fool-proof.”


* * *

We came to yet another red light, and Wronwright gave vent to his concerns - again. “Paco, are you really, really sure this is going to work?” This time, Sheila chimed in, too.

“Paco, I don’t mean to join Wronwright in playing twenty questions, but are you certain about your source?”

“Look”, I said. “I’ve known Jimmy the Geek for a long time; I’ve even done a little business with him on a couple of cases. He’s a top-notch information tech guy who moonlights occasionally as a … well, as a freelance computer espionage agent. He told me that he’d been approached by none other than David Plouffe and offered a thousand dollars to worm his way into the McCain campaign, rifle anything good he found on their computers, and give the info to the Obama people. Jimmy has no politics, whatsoever, so he agreed. He said that he found some valuable data – donors’ lists, campaign strategy materials and opposition research – downloaded it on a flash drive and handed it over to Plouffe in the main computer room of Obama’s headquarters; he saw him put the thing in the top drawer of a little file cabinet next to the computer.”

“What’s a flash drive?”, Sheila asked.

“It’s a little gizmo about the size and shape of a BIC lighter. You download files onto it from a computer, plug it into another computer, upload the files, and away you go.”

Wronwright then asked an uncomfortable question. “What if Plouffe has already uploaded the data on his computer?”

“Jimmy told me that the computer in Plouffe’s office is down; he saw a note on the monitor saying, ‘Do not turn on computer; mother board needs to be fixed’. He says that there’s no way it’s going to get repaired before tomorrow, at the earliest.”

“And Jimmy told you all this just because he was miffed at not getting paid?”, Sheila queried.

“That’s right. When it came time for the payoff, all Plouffe had for Jimmy was a mouth full of hope and a handful of change – two hundred bucks, to be exact, with a vague promise to consider a larger remuneration at a later date, maybe, and a definite threat to turn him over to the cops if he spilled the beans.”

Wronwright was skeptical. “How do you know this guy is telling the truth?”

“Listen, he may be a crook, but he’s not a Democrat. Ok, here we are.” Traffic had died down, and I was able to park within a half-block of Obama’s campaign headquarters. “Let’s run over the routine one more time. We’re Obama volunteers and we’re delivering boxes of campaign brochures. Once we get inside, I’ll ask if I can use the bathroom; it’s right next door to the room where Jimmy said the flash drive ought to be. Most of the people in the office ought to be gone by now; you two keep anybody who’s still there occupied. And Wronwright, quit twirling your mustache; it’s already come off twice.”

We each took a large box out of the van and walked up to the front door. Sheila was baffled. “Say, what’s in these boxes, anyway?”

“Oh, just some bumper stickers that I picked up here and there.”

Wronwright stopped so suddenly we almost tripped over each other.

“Oh, crap!”, he said, through clenched teeth. “Do you see who’s in there? It’s Obama himself! And some guy who looks like a commodities trader!”

I looked through the window. It was Obama, alright, and I recognized his pal. “That’s David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager. They must have had some kind of rah-rah session for the worker bees. Well, no matter. With these outfits we’ve got on, they shouldn’t suspect a thing.”

I led the way into the office and we all did the obligatory gushing at finding The Messiah there, in person. Plouffe rose from his chair, a look of suspicion on his face.

“Who are you people?”

“We’re volunteers. Just dropping off some campaign flyers.”

“This time of day?”

“I’m sorry, sir, but we got held up in traffic.”

We set our boxes down on the floor. That’s when Plouffe and Obama saw that all three of us were wearing bright red Ché Guevara t-shirts. Plouffe’s doubtful look abated somewhat; then his eyes zoomed in on Sheila – that’s when I knew we were home free.

While we were all attired in Democrat-approved threads, Sheila’s superb three-dimensionality immediately arrested the attention of both Plouffe and Obama; Plouffe’s jaw dropped like a loose flap on an old mail box, and Obama furtively popped a Tic-Tac into his mouth. Wronwright had been assigned the task of picking up the shirts, and Sheila’s was at least one size too small (I recollected how atypically unfazed he had been when she had chided him for making his “mistake”, just standing there with a sort of beatific expression on his map; now I understood why). Her breasts were stretching the fabric – and Guevara’s visage – so taut that the world’s best-known revolutionary looked like a walleyed chimp. The denim mini-skirt completed this singular vision of feminine pulchritude.

Plouffe gave her a dazzling smile. I could practically hear the blood draining from his polar region, like apple cider from an upturned gallon jug (settling somewhere around his equator, I would imagine). ““W-e-l-l!” - (*glug, glug, glug*) – “And what is your name, Miss?” - (*glug, glug, glug*). Plouffe and Obama had both risen from their chairs and walked over to Sheila, absolutely mesmerized, rather after the fashion of two mummies who had been fed tanna leaves and were obeying the commands of the high priestess.

The perfect moment had arrived. I asked Plouffe, “Hey, can I use the bathroom right quick?” Plouffe simply gave me a distracted wave of the hand.

Wronwright arched his eyebrows inquiringly when I came back a few minutes later. I shook my head. “It isn’t there. He must have moved it.”

“What are we going to do?”, Wronwright whispered. “We can’t shake him down.”

“Oh, no? I might have to do…”

“Do what?”, Wronwright asked frantically. “And what are you staring at?”

I tried to suppress a smile. There, on a table, was a flash drive - the flash drive, if I wasn’t mistaken: silver-colored, an ‘x’ drawn on the side with a magic marker, just as Jimmy had described it. I asked Plouffe if he minded if I had a smoke; another dismissive wave, from both him and Obama. I picked up the cigarette lighter, lit a gasper, put the lighter down and palmed the flash drive. I caught Sheila’s eye, gave her the “thumbs up” sign, and nodded in the direction of the door.

I had to hand it to her: she was playing her part beautifully. “Well, now, gentlemen, ya’ll have been so sweet - and here I am, just a plain little old country girl from North Carolina! But I really have to go. I’ve got some homework to do – and don’t forget your promise, Mr. Plouffe, to come visit me in my apartment and help me with my term paper, now, y’hear!” She gave each man an affectionate little squeeze on the knee and walked to the door with a gracefulness just this side of a sashay. Apparently, due to some kind of strange, momentary indisposition, neither Plouffe nor Obama stood up to see Sheila off, but they grinned and tootle-oo’d like mad. We forced ourselves to walk at a normal pace to the van, then we piled in and drove away.

“Got it?”, Sheila asked excitedly.

“Got it”.

Curiosity took hold of me. “Sheila, what was that malarkey about Plouffe coming up to your apartment and helping you with a term paper?”

She gave a wicked little laugh. “I told him I was attending the University of Maryland on a cheerleading scholarship and that I was majoring in marketing, and he said. ‘Well, now, that’s right up my alley! I’d be glad to give you some private tutoring.’ So I gave him my address and telephone number. No doubt he’s going to be surprised to find out that I live at the Lincoln Memorial and answer my phone with the salutation, ‘Third Precinct, Vice Squad.’ Oh, but I can’t wait to get this t-shirt off.”

She must have felt herself caught in the crossfire of the sidewise stares Wronwright and I were giving her. “I mean, when I get home, boys.”

* * *

Plouffe and Obama finally recovered their…equanimity…and sauntered over to the table. Plouffe said, “Well, we might as well have a look at these campaign brochures before we leave.” He took a pair of scissors off the table, cut through the tape on one of the boxes, opened the flap – and stared.

“What’s the matter?”, Obama asked.

Plouffe plunged both arms into the box and came up with a couple of fists full of gaudy bumper stickers: “I Spent the Day at Everglades Alligator Farm!”; “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not ‘Odditorium’ – Orlando”; “Rayne, Louisiana: Frog Mural Capital of the U.S.” He opened another box and found more of the same: “All Aboard the Tweetisie Railroad!”; “Brevard, N.C.: Squirrel Sanctuary”; “I Got My Crabs From Dirty Dick’s Crab House – VA Beach”. Plouffe, now in a state of complete bafflement, opened the last box; it was full of bright orange bumper stickers with blue letters spelling out the words, “Elect Elmer ‘Law ‘n Order’ Paco Sheriff – Republican”. Plouffe was suddenly galvanized by the knowledge that something else was wrong, besides the brochures. He looked at the table where he had left his cigarette lighter and the flash drive; the flash drive was gone.

Obama, worried by Plouffe’s heavy breathing and florid color, asked him, “What’s going on, Dave?”

“What do you think’s going on?”

“What do I think? How would I know what I think? You haven’t told me yet.”

“We’ve been had! Those volunteers were ringers! They came here to steal the flash drive, and they got it, too!”

Obama gaped at his campaign manager. “But…but…they were wearing Ché t-shirts! And you’re saying they really weren’t Democrats? That’s…that’s…sacrilege!”

Plouffe collapsed into a chair, heaved a huge sigh, and pulled the piece of paper from his shirt pocket on which Sheila had scribbled her name – ‘Susie Belle Hunneybags’ – her address and her telephone number. “Well, I guess I won’t be needing this”, he said, and tossed the paper on the table. When he rose to wearily put on his jacket, Obama quickly slipped the paper into his own pocket. “Hmmph!”, he thought to himself. “I know at least as much about marketing as Dave does. And even if Susie’s not a Democrat, I’m a ‘big tent’ kinda guy, anyway!”


* * *

Obama had gone to bed and was just dropping off to sleep when his wife, Michelle, stomped into the room, plopped down next to him and slapped him on the forehead as if he were the male half of the couple in a V-8 fruit juice commercial. “And just who is ‘Susie Belle Hunneybags?”, she roared, holding a crumpled piece of paper under his nose; it certainly didn't help matters that the ‘i’ in Susie was dotted with a little heart.