Sunday, August 31, 2008

It's A Miracle!

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

(Thank God for Hot Air)

Conversations With Oscar



We’re here again with our environmental expert, Oscar the Oak Tree. So, Oscar, did you see the Democratic National Convention?

Oscar: I didn’t have a choice. The only television I can see from here is the one in the neighbors’ living room, and they were watching that crap all last week. Believe me, I’d rather be fed through a wood chipper than go through that again. They usually watch reruns of Monk, which is great because that’s one of my favorite shows. Incidentally, did you see the episode where Monk got stuck in a submarine with Natalie…

Me: Yes, yes, I saw that one, and very entertaining it was, too. Now, tell us, did you catch Al Gore’s speech?

Oscar (rustling branches furiously and scattering acorns and terrified squirrels in all directions): I sure did! Man, that dude’s a regular climate-change calliope. He hadn’t been talking for five minutes – and it was bad enough as it was, what with all the lame jive boilerplate about Republicans baying at the moon and barbecuing puppies - before he whipped out his usual worn-out global-warming shtick. He’s like some old bore who haunts the country club and, no matter what the conversation is, finds a way to bring up that damned hole-in-one he hit down at Doral in 1979. Even the people whose TV I was watching used Gore’s speech time to walk the dog.

Me: Al Gore is predicting some drastic changes. For example, he said, “Many scientists predict that the entire north polar ice cap may be completely gone during summer months in the first term of the next president.”

Oscar: So, what’s Obama gonna do? Walk on the water with his big cold feet?

Me: Gore also said, “We already have everything we need to use the sun, the wind, geothermal power, conservation and efficiency to solve the climate crisis.”

Oscar: What, he left out unicorns harnessed to turbine engines? Interesting how he always manages to omit a couple of other possibilities, like drilling for more oil and building nuclear power facilities. Look, Al Gore is just a big, pudgy Cub Scout who’s failed to qualify for any merit badges, so the only way he can hold people’s attention is to tell scary stories around the camp fire.

Me: Well, thank you Oscar for your always-interesting insights. We’ll try to catch up with you after the Republican convention.

Oscar: Fine by me; only not this Friday night – there’s a brand new episode of Monk.

Joe Biden - Super Genius

I've been doing research on Joe Biden, and I think he's a formidable candidate. Politically savvy, an expert on foreign policy, an original thinker, and a brilliant scholar; yep, a real asset to Obama's team...

Update: Meh-heh! Dog Fight at Bankstown reveals that John Kerry has come out swinging and, as usual, has planted one on his own pointy chin. In an effort to tie Sarah Palin to Dick Cheney, Herman Munster uttered this devastating judgment: "'With the choice of Gov. Palin, it’s the third term of Dick Cheney,' Kerry said on ABC News' 'This Week.' 'He’s chosen somebody who doesn’t believe climate change is man-made.'"

I sincerely hope that the Obama campaign has Kerry pop up at regular intervals, like a scary jack-in-the-box, to point out more Palin-Cheney similarities. Maybe it will go something like this:

Week One: "Sarah Palin thinks the surge worked."

Week Two: "Sarah Palin thinks that the U.S. Constitution gives citizens the right to keep and bear arms."

Week Three: "Sarah Palin thinks that if you drill for oil, you'll get more of it."

The evening of November 5th: "Sarah Palin helped McCain steal the election."

Honestly, I think John Kerry has at least as much hair inside of his head as outside.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hurricane "Humor" From Democrat Don Fowler

Don Fowler, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, believes that Hurricane Gustav is God's gift to the Democrats. Har, har! You're on Candid Camera, Don!

"The Naughty Librarian Vibe"

Mark Steyn (not surprisingly) has one of the best initial takes on Sarah Palin.

Update: Uh-oh! The anticipated Palin bounce will no doubt be canceled out by the endorsement of Obama by Saudi Arabia.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Assortment

1) A war-time letter delivered 64 years late (via friend and commenter, KC).

2) American Thinker has several good talking points for Sarah Palin. And Beldar has some detailed background on the non-scandal of the state trooper.

3) Mrs. Paco snapped a picture today of what appears to be a demon squirrel, sitting in the top of our mammoth sunflower, eating the seeds (click in order to appreciate the magnitude of the evil).



4) With respect to Sarah Palin: WWBD?



5) Iowahawk plays Homer (and I don't mean Simpson).

Sarah Palin

I am shocked that a major political party could offer up a candidate who has such little experience in foreign policy, national security and health care.

But since the Democrats have decided to do that , they really can’t complain about Sarah Palin, now, can they? In fact, she’s had more executive experience than Obama, plus she’s a pork-buster to boot.

Frankly, I think this is an exciting choice. The only “dirt” on her, so far, is that she has been accused of pressuring the state troopers to fire her brother-in-law, ostensibly for personal reasons. Well, just take a gander at this from Confederate Yankee and let me know if you think the guy was fit to wear a police uniform.

Somewhere, Hillary is holding her sides, laughing her gluteus maximus off.

BTW, don’t miss these fun facts about Sarah Palin (also via Confederate Yankee).

Update: And you won't be seeing Obama or Biden in anything like this kind of setting (H/T to Currency Lad).

Update II: Hey, John Edwards is going to give a speech, too. Word on the street is that the stage will be set up like a hotel room, complete with champagne bottle in a bucket of ice and a porn video stream on a plasma TV. The subject of his speech (per Brit Hume): "The American Dream."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy Feet Friday

Benny Goodman made the most joyful noise of all the clarinet players of the Swing Era, but when it came to purity of tone and perfection of pitch, Artie Shaw was the man to beat. Here he is with his orchestra, from the 1940 film, Second Chorus, playing “Concerto for Clarinet (there’s some fine trumpet work, too):



AND, because Saint has expressed a high regard for the Happy Feet Friday swingfests, and to mark the fifth anniversary of Dog Fight at Bankstown, here's a bonus: Glenn Miller and his orchestra playing the biggest hit of the Swing Era, "In the Mood".

Pride Goeth Before the Fall

When Obama steps out from his temple tonight – or, perhaps, simply materializes in front of it, like an anthropomorphic blob of ectoplasm – I suspect that the only physical risk to him is that a sudden gust of wind may disintegrate his ethereal manifestation. The risk to his presidential bid, however, is considerably greater.

As Currency Lad points out, B.O. will be accepting the nomination on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s epochal “I Have a Dream” speech. The contrast couldn’t be greater. On the one hand, the martyr to civil rights and a passionate advocate of the color-blind society, a man who braved the threats of white-robed terrorists in order to appeal for simple fair play; on the other, the virtual apotheosis of a racial huckster, who built his early career, not in opposition to, but with the help of, unrepentant terrorists of a different stripe, and who would have us believe that he slept through every sermon preached by his racist pastor for twenty years. The contrast will, of course, be even more pronounced as Obama surrounds himself with the trappings of a stage-Olympus.

I hope they have Michelle pop out of a giant clam shell; then the mythological construct will be complete.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



Malcolm Muggeridge lived a full and active life: teacher, foreign correspondent, military intelligence officer, editor, novelist, essayist, television talk show host, and lay theologian. He also penned one of the best autobiographies of the 20th century: Chronicles of Wasted Time, the subject of today’s “Shelves” feature.

Originally published in two volumes (The Green Stick and The Infernal Grove), and covering the time from his childhood to the end of World War II, the story of Muggeridge’s life is a kind of Pilgrim’s Progress for the modern era. He was born into a socialist family, and he married into another (his wife, Kitty Dobbs, was the niece of Beatrice Webb). Muggeridge saw socialism as the wave of the future, and took up residence in the Soviet Union in 1932 as a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian. His intelligence and honesty, however, undermined his youthful enthusiasm for the workers’ state, and he was one of a (shamefully small) group of reporters who tried to get out the story of the Stalin-induced famine in the Ukraine. Thus began his long journey, not only from the political left to the political right, but from agnosticism to Christianity (and ultimately to the Catholic Church).

Chronicles is written in simple, yet elegant, prose, and is filled with the satirical wit and self-deprecatory humor for which Muggeridge was widely known. The following snippets afford only the merest taste of his fine style and the tiniest inkling of the extent of his innumerable encounters with both the great and the obscure.

Here is Muggeridge, during WWII, studying tradecraft for an intelligence mission in Africa – specifically, the creation of invisible inks, using a variety of substances, including “…what my instructor referred to primly as BS, meaning bird shit.This last required some special explanation; it could, he said, be used when all else failed, and worked well, but procuring a supply was not as easy as might be supposed. For instance, he once had to fall back on it when he was stationed at The Hague, and had imagined that crumbs spread on his little balcony would bring a goodly number of sparrows that might be relied on to leave behind a supply of BS. Not so; the birds duly arrived and ate the crumbs, but, whether because they were constipated, or out of delicacy, there were no droppings. In the end, he explained to me, he had to walk in a public park – which, fortunately, was spacious – and when he saw traces of BS, he dropped his handkerchief as though by chance, and scooped the BS up. His dolefulness became almost unbearable as I pictured him walking mournfully about questing for BS, and I tried to cheer him up by expressing my unbounded admiration for the brilliant stratagem he had devised, which, I said, I was sure would prove invaluable in Mozambique. He nodded, I thought without much conviction, and expressed some doubts as to whether the sort of birds found there would prove suitable donors.”

And here is the author’s judgment on Walter Duranty, the Stalinist stooge who wrote for the New York Times, and is today chiefly remembered as the journalist who lied about the terrible government-induced famine in the Ukraine: “I had the feeling…that in thus justifying Soviet brutality and ruthlessness, Duranty was in some way getting his own back for being small, and losing a leg, and not having the aristocratic lineage and classical education he claimed to have. This is probably, in the end, the only real basis of the appeal of such regimes as Stalin’s and Hitler’s; they compensate for weakness and inadequacy…Duranty was a little browbeaten boy looking up admiringly at a big bully. By the same token, if the New York Times went on all those years giving great prominence to Duranty’s messages, building him and them up when they were so evidently nonsensically untrue…this was not, to be sure, because the Times was deceived. Rather, because it wanted to be so deceived, and Duranty provided the requisite deception material…Just as the intelligentsia have been foremost in the struggle to abolish intelligence, so the great organs of capitalism like the New York Times have spared no effort to ensure that capitalism will not survive.”

To which I can only add, Amen.

Of additional interest to Muggeridge fans (and potential fans) is My Life in Pictures, which combines hundreds of photos of the people Muggeridge met throughout his long life with anecdotes, vignettes and brief character sketches (George Orwell, Hugh Kingsmill, Evelyn Waugh, Peter Sellers, William F. Buckley, Jr., John Reith, Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa – the list seems practically endless). I also recommend the Diaries of Malcolm Muggeridge, written in much the same lucid style as the Chronicles, and covering the decades following the Second World War.

Celebrate!

The Saint - sole proprietor of the excellent, and excellently named, blog, Dogfight At Bankstown - is celebrating five years of incisive thinking, fine writing and sparkling wit. Go on over there and wish him joy!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Obama To Receive Laurel Crown in Mock Greek Temple

Allahpundit at Hot Air has the best take on this: "Too staid for my tastes. What about a giant plaster Lincoln head descending from the sky with Obama inside, and once it hits the stage he breaks through out of the top hat like the Hulk?"

I foresee conflict in the temple between Obama and Hillary's diehard supporters.



Update: Big Lizards has a different - and very shrewd - take on the staging.

Original Thoughts From Joe Biden

Hi, this is Brad Smilo for Paco World News. I’m here with Senator Joseph Biden, and, Senator, first, let me congratulate you on the Democratic nomination for VP.

Biden: It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done.

Brad: Senator, the Republicans didn’t waste any time in digging up the old plagiarism charges. How do you plan to deal with that issue?

Biden: I shall fight on the beaches, I shall fight on the landing grounds, I shall fight in the fields and in the streets; I shall never surrender.

Brad: So, you’re saying that the charge is basically irrelevant?

Biden: It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Brad: Do you plan on adopting the same aggressive tactics in dealing with your Republican critics? Does that pose some risk, do you think?

Biden: In revenges men look not at the greatness of the evil past, but the greatness of the good to follow.

Brad: Senator Biden, what do you say to those Clinton supporters who are threatening to bolt the party?

Biden: There are voters now-a-bed who shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Brad: Um, I think St. Crispin’s Day is actually in October, Senator.

Biden: A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, Brad.

Brad: Ok, Senator, you know you’ll be getting ribbed about it; what’s with the hair plugs?

Biden: A large head of hair makes the handsome more graceful and the ugly more terrible.

Brad: Thank you, Senator Biden. Good night and good luck.

Biden: Good night, Brad, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chavez an Obama Fan?

Hey, he's flashing the sign.

Assortment

1) Captain Heinrichs discovers a cool marketing gimmick.

2) Real Jeff sends along this political stress buster:

HOW TO START EACH DAY WITH A POSITIVE OUTLOOK

a. Open a new file in your computer.

b. Name it 'Barack Obama'.

c. Send it to the Recycle Bin.

d. Empty the Recycle Bin.

e. Your PC will ask you: 'Do you really want to get rid of 'Barack Obama?'

f. Firmly Click 'Yes.'

g. Feel better?

(Editor: I sure do!)

3) Via The Scribbler's Pen (in fact, there are so many good things over there today, you ought to visit and just keep scrolling):



4) So it's Joe Biden, eh? Dan Riehl has a little something for you to chew on.

Update: Don't miss Zombietime's photo foray among the true believers.

Update II: We had a great trip to North Carolina, and a visit to one of my favorite used bookshops paid off handsomely. I found a book entitled Boswell's Column, a compilation of 70 essays that James Boswell wrote for The London Magazine between 1777 and 1783 under the pseudonym The Hypochondriack; this volume represented the first publication in England of the essays in book form. I also found a collection of Inspector Maigret stories (Maigret's Christmas) by Georges Simenon, which, as the title suggests, are centered on a holiday theme. BTW, if you haven't seen the Granada TV series starring Michael Gambon as Inspector Maigret, you don't know what you're missing!

Update III: I'm not watching the Democratic Convention coverage, but if I hear of something interesting developing, I'll no doubt put up a wise-ass post. It'll be tough for the Dems to top that exciting moment at the 2000 convention, anyway; you remember, when Tipper Gore was bitten by a rattlesnake on her tongue and Al had to suck the poison out?


UpdateIV: Basic theme of the Democratic Convention so far? Earth is doomed if Obama isn't elected.



Update V: Joe Biden claims to have been "shot at" on a trip he made to Baghdad . Ummm...No, not really. (H/T to Don Surber)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Viva La RevoluciĆ³n (By Yimminy!)

The scene: Karl Gregson’s gas station and grocery in the small Minnesota town of Little Oslo. Several locals are sitting in lawn chairs outside of the store, in the shade of a large overhang. Eyes are raised in friendly recognition as a bus pulls up beside the gas pumps. The bus is a cool, soothing green color, with cheerful pink lettering spelling out the words, “Little Oslo Psychiatric Center”. Besides the colors, the only thing to distinguish the vehicle from the garden variety school bus is the metal grating in the windows and behind the driver’s seat. A tall, powerfully-built man of middle age climbs down from behind the wheel; his attire is vaguely suggestive of the uniform of a cricket player, but he is, in fact, Gunnar Larsen, a male nurse at the local funny farm.

“Hello, boyss! Whew, vhat a day I had today!”

Dag Christensen, a large man of some antiquity, filling out the full dress uniform of a farmer come to town – brand new overalls, freshly-polished brogues and a straw hat – asked in a booming baritone, “Vhat happened, Gunnar?”

“Vell, I drove a load of lewnies tew de state park, and vun a’ dem took all his clothes off and climbed a tree, like a monkey. Damn fule near broke his neck tryin’ tew hang from a high branch by de tail dat he hadn’t got.”

The boys guffawed. Gunnar was a highly popular citizen by virtue of the interesting character sketches he was able to draw from the long practice of a profession that brought him into daily contact with the mentally liberated.

Suddenly, Ole Johansen, who had his nose buried in the newspaper, encountered a bit of intelligence that gave his mind such a jolt that his thinly insulated skull couldn’t contain it, so that the charge ran down his arms causing him to rattle the paper violently.

“Yumpin’ Yimminy! Did yew fellers hear about dis?”

Karl Gregson, who had been whittling on a piece of wood – by all appearances, the same piece he had been whittling on for 30 years – looked up in indignation, sucking the brand new cut on his thumb. “Confound yew, Ole! Vhat’s so important dat yew got tew rattle dem papers like a kid tearin’ de wrappin’ off a Christmas present?”

Ole ignored the jibe and cut to the chase. “It says here dat dis group a’ protesters – de Shtoodents fer a Democratic Society – are plannin’ on disruptin’ de Republican National Convention in Minneapolis! Gonna shut it down, dey say!”

Rough murmurs of Norwegian-American disapproval greeted this announcement; this lot believed fervently in fair play.

“Ja, it says dat de executive committee of de SDS is flyin’ intew Minneapolis late next veek from Vashington, and dere gonna start makin’ plans tew sabotage de convention. By golly, ve ought tew dew sumptin’ about it!

Dag stuck his thumbs in the straps of his overalls, and commenced reminiscing. “Vell, vhen I vas back in de auld country – durin’ de var, vit de partisans fightin’ against de Nazis - ve yewsed tew lay trip vires across de street tied tew bumbs. Den – kablooie! – sauerkraut, by golly!”

Pastor Grieg – a tall, elderly, angular man whose one vice was the meerschaum pipe he was now smoking – spoke up. “Now, Dag. Ve can’t be blowin’ up protesters. Dere bits might hit some innocent bystanders.”

Karl suggested that they contact the state Republican Party; Ole scowled. “Bah! Dem fellers are goin’ tew be tew busy vit de speeches an’ de nominatin’ tew pay attention tew de SDS. Besides, de officials at de state level ain’t got de bawls…” – Pastor Grieg removed the pipe stem from his mouth and gently reproved his friend: “Yew mean de intestinal fertitewd, don’t yew, Ole?” – Ole, fired up over the imminent threat, nonetheless consented to a slight compromise – “…dey ain’t got de gumption tew tackle dese reds. Look, boyss; ve got de mayority of de board of de Little Oslo Norwegian-American Republican Association right here. I say ve take de bull by de horns and solve dis here problem ourselves!”

This appeal roused the dormant Viking blood of the small group, and they cheered wildly; if a member of the SDS had stumbled on them now, it was a cinch that they’d have played “catch” with him, tossing him about on the tips of their spears (if they’d had any spears).

Ole, having established that they had a quorum, called the emergency meeting of the Board of the Norwegian-American Republican Association of Little Oslo to order. “Ok, men! Ve are resolved tew fix de little red vagons – so to speak – of dese here radical bastards! Pardon, Pastor Grieg. Of dese here radical scalawags! How do ve do it? Dag, yew got any more tauts on de matter – yew know, from yur experience in Vorld Var Tew?”

Dag tugged on the lobe of a saucer-sized ear. “Vell, now, let me see. Ve yewsed tew change de street signs aroun’, tew send dem Germans off on vild goose chases. An’ sometimes, ve’d send vun of our men in a taxi tew pick up dere officers outside dere club, den ve’d carry dem intew de country vhere ve’d…yew know (Dag made a cutting motion across his throat with a finger the size of a bratwurst).

Ole, who had been staring at Gunnar’s bus while pensively chewing on his soup-strainer mustache, smiled. “Dag, yew yust gave me a gewd idear.”

* * *

In the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, near the arrival gate for the American Airlines flight from Washington, D.C., little four-year-old Johnny, standing at his mother’s knee, asked in a subdued voice, “Mommy, who are those funny-looking people?” Little Johnny’s mother nearly wrenched her neck doing a double take. “Good lord! I think those are ‘hippies’, dear.”

Two rather rotund, florid-faced men with long black hair had materialized at the arrival gate, one of whom bore a large, hand-lettered sign: “Welcome SDS!” They were dressed in tied-dyed denim shirts and bell-bottom jeans, and they wore glass beads around their necks. Karl, overly-sensitive to the snickers that their passage had created among the less colorfully attired crowd, whispered a hurried question to Ole.

“Are yew sure dese here get-ups iss right, Ole? Ever’body’s been lookin’ at us like ve yust popped out of a space ship!”

Ole, keeping a sharp eye peeled for the arrival of their targets, spoke to Karl out of the side of his mouth. “Sure I’m sure, Karl. I saw a documentary about de 1960’s vun time, about de protesters and all, and dis is de kinda shtuff dey vore.” A few minutes later the airplane from Washington landed, and it wasn’t long, as the arriving passengers made their way from the plane to the gate, before Ole and Karl spotted their quarry.

They were a gaggle of young people, perhaps twenty or so, most of whom were sporting t-shirts bearing the printed visages of various Communist theoreticians, gunmen and dictators. The men appeared, on the whole, to be indifferent in the matter of haircuts and shaving, and the few women in the group not only went without makeup, but, with respect to their legs (and to the upper lip of one rough-looking specimen), were similarly allergic to razors. At the head of the mob was a slightly older fellow, decked out in what might be called “revolutionary executive wear”: corduroy slacks, a black blazer and an open-collared white shirt. Although his hair was neatly trimmed and he was clean-shaven, he nonetheless exuded a sort of spiritual scruffiness. Ole, dragging Karl with him, walked up to the man who was obviously the leader and stopped in front of him.

“Velcome tew Minnesota! Ve’re vit de local chapter of de Shtoodents fer a Democratic Society!” Ole glanced meaningfully at Karl, who shouted out his lines.

“Power tew de pipple! Down vit de hawgs! Ooof!”

Ole had sharply dug his elbow into Karl’s ribs. “’Pigs’, yew dumb head, not hawgs!”, he muttered savagely under his breath. Smiling brightly at the SDS leader, Ole commenced his pitch.

“Yessir, by cracky, ve’re here tew help yew in any vay ve can. Ve got a courtesy bus outside, all ready tew take yew an’ yer comrades down tew de Republican convention center.”

The SDS leader eyed the two “mature” hippies with skepticism. “Er, hello. I’m Ed Nutzel, Chairman of the Executive Committee. Ummm…you guys are a little old to be part of a student movement, aren’t you?”

Ole laughed. “Ja, ve’re gettin’ up dere, no doubt about dat. But ve’re vhat yew call ‘shtoodents emeritus’. Ain’t dat right, Moonbeam?... I said, ‘AIN’T DAT RIGHT MOONBEAM?”

“Ooof! Vhat? Oh, ja, ja! Dat’s right…er…Aquarius! Time tew take it tew de streets!”

Nutzel remained dubious about the whole prospect. “Listen, guys, I appreciate it, but ….”

Karl hurriedly piped up, “And ve even got tew guides fer yew! Dey can show yew de layout. Come here, girls!” He signaled to two young ladies who had been hidden from view behind a pillar (they were his twin 19-year-old granddaughters, both of whom had cheerfully joined in with the scheme; they stepped forward with a beguiling sashay).

Suddenly, Nutzel’s doubts melted away like a scoop of ice cream on an overheated radiator. Ilse and Katherine wore their long golden tresses in single plaits, and were dressed in matching denim miniskirts, white plastic knee-high boots, and red tank tops (strategically purchased one size too small) bearing the Chihuahua-like mug of Che Guevara, but more importantly, revealing the well-tanned, pulchritudinous charms of these two healthy, corn-fed country girls. Topped off with sparkling blue eyes and merry smiles, they could have been decked out in Ronald Reagan t-shirts and wearing the Castro brothers’ scalps from their belts, for all Nutzel cared.

“Well, I…yes, yes, I think we’d be glad to take you up on your offer! Very kind of you. Please lead the way!”

Ole and Karl (and the two revolutionary valkyries) helped the SDS gang collect their luggage and escorted them to the “courtesy bus” – in reality, the bus from the Little Oslo Psychiatric Center, with the name carefully covered up with a banner reading: “Smith’s Private Limo Service”. The large, black-bearded driver stood by the door – smart in his white pants and Leon Trotsky sweatshirt – and helped the SDS people on board.

After the last one was loaded, Ole shouted, “Ve’ll follow yew in our car!” He and Karl raised their clinched fists, in a friendly show of solidarity as the bus pulled out.

Ten minutes later, one of the members of the SDS executive committee – a native of Minneapolis – said to Nutzel in a somewhat perplexed tone of voice, “Say, this isn’t the downtown exit…”
* * *
In an upstairs room at the Little Oslo Psychiatric Center that doubled as a library and a lounge for the professional staff, doctors Ellis and Greene were sitting at a table beneath a plate glass window, enjoying a cup of coffee at the end of a long day, as they had done most days over the last ten years of their association. Dr. Greene was browsing through one of his favorite books – Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds - and Dr. Ellis was staring out of the window at an imposing brick building nestled in a stand of birch trees on a low ridge, about five hundred yards due west – in actuality, the predecessor of the current establishment. The Little Oslo Rest Home had been built in 1905, but the structure was abandoned and boarded up fifty years ago. This evening, however, it held a strange fascination for Dr. Ellis.

In the background, a radio news broadcast indicated that John McCain, who had received the Republican nomination for president, had completed his acceptance speech. The newscaster went on to mention that protests and demonstrations had been surprisingly feeble, and that the convention had been a resounding success. The doctors were rather esoteric men of science who had little interest in politics, so the broadcast went largely ignored. Dr. Ellis cast a couple of anxious glances at his colleague before finally summoning the courage to speak.

“George, I think I need a vacation.”

Dr. Greene looked up from his book and smiled at his friend. “Why not, Tom? You haven’t taken one for over a year.”

“No, this is different. I’m thinking more along the lines of a genuine sabbatical. I think I’m losing my grip.”

Dr. Greene quietly closed his book. “What do you mean, ‘losing your grip’?”

“I’ll come straight to the point. I think I’ve been working here too long. I’ve been hearing voices.”

His colleague laughed, not unkindly. “Tom, you know as well as I do that mental illness isn’t catching. You’re probably just tired.”

“No, George, I’m afraid this isn’t simple fatigue. Several times this week, when I’ve walked along the footpath on this side of the building – particularly when the wind was blowing down off the ridge where the old asylum stands – I distinctly heard voices. Not clearly articulated sentences, mind you, just a few words here and there. Things like, “Help!” and “Let us out!” and – strangely enough – something that sounded like ‘pigs’. Yes, I’m certain of it. Pigs. And there was a curious, almost subterranean quality to the sound – as if they were the voices of the damned.”

Dr. Greene looked at Dr. Ellis gravely. “Tom, maybe you’d better take that vacation without delay. I’ll call Dr. Hegelmeyer at the University; he should be able to fill in for a few weeks.”

“Thanks, George.” The room was warm and the coffee hot, but Dr. Ellis shivered as he cast one last, lingering glance at the old asylum on the distant hill, now ominously silhouetted against the setting sun.
* * *

Later that same evening, Gunnar Larsen made his way down an overgrown path to the north end of the old asylum. He was pulling a hand cart filled with buckets of KFC chicken and bottles of water and soda pop. As usual, he wore his fake black beard during feeding time, in order to confound any future attempts by his “guests” to identify him. Gunnar stooped by one of the small basement windows, opened it and hollered, “Come and get it, comrades!”

There was a shuffling of many feet as the executive committee of the SDS drew around the window. Nutzel, who had shrieked himself hoarse over the first couple of days of his captivity, had resigned himself to his fate, and spoke in measured tones. “Listen”, he croaked. “You can’t keep us here forever. When are you going to turn us loose?”

Gunnar smiled as he passed the food through the aperture (which was just large enough to facilitate the passing through of food parcels, but too small to permit escape by even the slimmest of his prisoners). “Vell, I tink tomorrow ve can let yew out. But vhy are yew complaining? I connected de vater, so yew got a vorking shower and turlets, and dere’s flashlights an’ newspapers and yur own tings from yur luggage.”

“Except for our cell phones!”, Nutzel pointed out.

“Ja, dat’s trew. But de reception down dere ain’t tew gewd anyvay, I betcha! At least yew young pipple have had a chance to tink about de really important tings in life fer a change.”

“Hey, you forgot the honey mustard!” squawked a disembodied voice from somewhere down below.

“See vhat I mean?” Gunnar closed the window and made his way back down the path.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Meme

Currency Lad has tagged me with the following meme: "If you should pass from our presence, what picture of you shall we use for your saint's card - should you be so elevated - and of what do you want to be patron?"

St. Paco the Mild, patron saint of missionaries. Here is my saint's card:

The History of the Soviet Union in 15 Minutes

Short and sweet, witty and ironic, this tells you all you need to know. Don't miss it (I ain't foolin', now; get over there and read it!).

Short Hiatus

Blogging will be light this weekend, as Mrs. Paco and I head south to the homeland (North Carolina) for a brief visit with Ma Paco. Before I go, however, I'll try to finish and post the thrilling inside story of the Norwegian-American Republican Association vs. the SDS!

Update: Sorry, but the Norwegians will have to wait until I get back tomorrow. The story's turning out longer than I had expected. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Happy Feet Friday

From the 1941 movie, Buck Privates, we've got another routine featuring the Andrews sisters. This tune's called "Bounce Me, Brother, With a Solid Four", and if you watch closely, you'll catch a glimpse of Lou Costello (who, to say the least, did not excel as a jitterbug).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

From the Shelves of the Paco Library


Pictured above is the pride of the Paco 18th century collection: the 1903 Pafraets Press edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson. Bound in sturdy hardcover and printed on heavy rag paper, each volume has a frontispiece with a hand-colored plate of the likeness of a distinguished person from the period. I picked up this set in a little shop in Miami that I frequented back in the 1980’s. The bookseller knew that I was interested in 18th century English literature and bought this collection from an estate on the speculation that I’d snap it up. As it turned out, this was no speculation at all on his part, but a sure-thing, because snap it up I did. In fact, I practically ran back to the ATM machine at the bank where I then worked to withdraw the necessary funds; when I got to the machine and found that they had shut it down temporarily, I lost my temper and yelled obscenities at the shining, inanimate monster, reviling the idiocy of those bank employees who thought that the lunch hour was an excellent time to disable the thing. In any event, I finally got the money, ran back to the bookstore, and purchased the set – an unnecessary display of anxiety and exercise on my part, of course, because it was extremely unlikely, even had the availability of the books been advertised far and wide, that the bookseller would have moved the volumes in less than six months had it not been for me.

What most people know of Dr. Johnson has generally been picked up through an acquaintance with James Boswell’s wonderful biography, and Johnson, the man, has largely come down to us through the conversations recorded by his faithful amanuensis; however, Dr. Johnson was a prolific writer, and over the course of a long life penned essays, biographies, travel books, letters, translations, poems and sermons (not to mention the great dictionary of the English language), all in an inimitable style characterized by magisterial prose, solid wisdom, worldly experience and an ever-anxious eye on the hereafter.

Here, for example, are a couple of observations that might, with profit, be taken under consideration by politicians in general, and by a certain Democratic candidate for president, in particular:

(From The Rambler, #20, “The folly and inconvenience of affectation”): “Among the numerous stratagems, by which pride endeavors to recommend folly to regard, there is scarcely one that meets with less success than affectation, or a perpetual disguise of the real character, by fictitious appearances; whether it be, that every man hates falsehood, from the natural congruity of truth to his faculties of reason, or that every man is jealous of the honor of his understanding, and thinks his discernment consequently called in question, whenever any thing is exhibited under a borrowed form.”

(From The Rambler, #28, “The various arts of self-delusion”): “There are men who always confound the praise of goodness with the practice, and who believe themselves mild and moderate, charitable and faithful, because they have exerted their eloquence in commendation of mildness, fidelity, and other virtues. This is an errour almost universal among those that converse much with dependants, with such whose fear or interest disposes them to a seeming reverence for any declamation, however enthusiastic, and submission to any boast, however arrogant. Having none to recall their attention to their lives, they rate themselves by the goodness of their opinions, and forget how much more easily men may shew their virtue in their talk than in their actions.”

There are numerous anthologies available that provide a generous sampling of Johnson’s essays and letters, and for any hardcore fans out there, the Yale University Press is in the process of publishing a definitive edition of his works.

* * *
Eighteenth-century English literature is something of an acquired taste for the modern reader, and for those who might find Johnson in the raw to be rather ponderous going, but who, nonetheless, maintain (a) an interest in the period and the man, and (b) enjoy mysteries, I would also like to recommend an excellent series of who-done-its by Lillian de la Torre, in which Dr. Johnson and James Boswell appear as amateur sleuths. These are finely-crafted stories which admirably capture the personalities of both Johnson and Boswell, and they are faithful to the language, mores and culture of the times. I believe that there are at least four volumes in the series, the first of which is Dr. Sam:Johnson, Detector. Highly entertaining and highly recommended.

The Hologram of Dorian Gray

Jimmy Carter is scheduled to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, thus affording us the delicious irony of seeing before-and-after, three-dimensional pictures of the same model of inept chief executive. On the one hand, the current candidate, bold, confidant, undaunted by his lack of experience; on the other, the embittered, unstable ex-president, who also arrived at the White House with the clueless amateur’s do-it-yourself attitude and unfounded optimism, the painful consequences of which still linger in the national memory as a sort of tragicomic coda to the decade of the 1970’s.

I wonder what Carter will say and do? I imagine his speech will be vetted by less fevered brains, but how can the party bosses make sure that he’ll stick to the script? What if he dons a keffiyeh? Will stagehands be standing by with a hook? Will Obama be compelled to use some portion of his own speech for the purpose of wedging Carter under the bus of misfit supporters? This may well be the only speech at the convention I watch; it is sure to be of interest, if only to spot the horrified dawning of understanding on the faces of at least some of the members of the audience, the traumatic discovery of two peas in a pod.

When the executive has no experience, the key question becomes, "who will he listen to?"

"Ok, Jimmy, here's what you do. Load the bases and then strike three guys out. You'll be a freakin' hero!"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

... - - - ...



The above photo of Obama's convention speech ticket - featuring Jesus Lite swaddled in an upside down American flag - has been touted as a gaffe: an upside down flag is a distress signal.

Well, I don't think it was a gaffe at all. I believe that this is a genuine distress signal being sent to the faithful:

Campaign foundering...Send money, ventriloquist...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Let Him Without Stones...No, Wait a Minute...Let Him Without...Ahm...

Via Currency Lad in the comments section at Tim Blair's blog, one of the great parables, as told by Obama.

What's Become of Rudd?

I've noticed at Tizona and elsewhere that there seems to be some confusion as to the Australian Prime Minister's whereabouts. Why the low profile? Has Rudd prematurely slipped into the role of elder statesman? Did he somehow manage to lock himself in the bathroom? I invite Australians on the ground to opine as to what the old wax-muncher's up to.

Paco Predicts

I am reluctant to make a prediction, particularly when the issue itself will be resolved within the next week or so, because the degree of embarrassment stemming from an incorrect prognostication is inversely proportional to the amount of time that elapses between the forecast and the event. However, I will take the plunge this time and state that I do not think, current rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, that Hillary will be Obama’s choice for Vice President.

Hillary is a Clinton first, and a Democrat second; politics, for her, is about the aggrandizement of power by the Clinton clan and its coterie. Assuming that Obama wins, serving as his second fiddle would make it very difficult for her to mount a challenge to him during the nomination process in the last year of his first term, and if she entertained the hope of using the #2 position as a stepping stone to the White House, the possibility of an Obama second term could conceivably forestall her bid until 2016, when she would be 69 years old. Not ancient, by any means, but if Hillary Clinton is the freshest thing on offer from the Democrats eight years from now, then the party will be in bad shape, indeed.

Another thing to remember is that Hillary is not stupid. She may be a Democrat, but she’s not blind to the very real possibility that an Obama presidency could be an unmitigated disaster. Maintaining the level of public support for the President necessary to sustain her credibility within the administration, while simultaneously attempting to distance herself from his incompetence (or worse) is a balancing act that would require a combination of genius and cunning that, frankly, does not seem to be within her mental scope (nor, in fairness to Hillary, would it appear to be within anybody else’s).

So much for the VP slot from what I take to be Hillary’s perspective. What about Obama’s? What does he gain by making her his running mate? True, he may recapture many currently embittered Hillary supporters, but he would also then come face to face with that enormous core group of voters who would not, under any circumstances, have supported her for President, some of whom might have been willing to vote for him had he been otherwise unencumbered with Clinton baggage. Besides, does he really want to spend the next four years (or eight) watching his back against the machinations of Team Clinton?

Frankly, I think Scott Ott is on the right trail.

Update: It would be kind of funny if he did pick Hillary, because he's announcing his choice via text message, right? I can just see it: "Hill. ATAB? LOL!"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Prisoner of Conscience

Cuba's Martin Luther King, Jr.

Raul's promises of permitting Cubans a meager improvement in their freedom to buy consumer items is worthless without a much greater improvement than is anticipated in basic human rights. As long as Cuba is run by people who think that rights are something that the government manufactures, and grants or withdraws as it sees fit, it is folly to talk of meaningful change.

Oh, and about that double-plus-good Cuban healthcare...

A Detective Paco Rerun - The Ups and Downs of Michael Moore

There was a steady drizzle outside, and drops of water made their halting way down the window, like spermatozoa looking for the prize in life’s most interesting zero sum game, when Sheila walked into the office. She was wearing an expression of mystery when she stopped in front of my desk.

“You’ve got a client outside, wants to see you something awful.”

“Who is it?”

“Michael Moore.”

I was intrigued. Why would Jabba the Hut’s ugly brother come to see me?

“Send him in.”

“He can’t come in. He’s stuck in the elevator.”

“Which floor?”

Sheila gave me that sly, sidewise smile; it was the face that launched a thousand furtive Binaca blasts by an equal number of would-be suitors. “All of them.”

“Listen, baby, I’m going to wind up using more than my allotted comment characters if this keeps up much longer. Spill.”

“He wedged himself in the elevator so tightly he can’t get out, and his blubber is pushing against all the buttons, so he just keeps going up and down, up and down.”

I lit a coffin nail and walked with Sheila out to the lobby. At that moment, the elevator door opened. A whiny voice filled the air.

“Oh, so there you are, Detective Paco! Listen, I’ve got a case for you. According to my calculations . . .”

Shhhhoooop

The doors closed and Moore was gone, like a fat memo down a vacuum tube.

“How long has this been going on?”

“About 10 minutes. Took him a long time to say what was on his mind.”

A few minutes later he was back. “According to my calculations, the Democrats received 100% of the vote, yet Republicans ‘won’ some of the elections. This proves . . .”

Shhhoooop

Moore had begun his downward journey again.

Sheila cocked an inquisitive eyebrow. “So what do we do? Call the fire department, or just stand here and poke him with sticks whenever the door opens?” That’s my girl: always considering the options.

I was working on my second cigarette when Moore made his regularly-scheduled appearance.

“Can’t you get me out of here? It’s hot and I’m getting hungry.”

“What do I look like, a piano mover? I’ll call the fire department.”

I went back to the office, picked up the phone - and heard what sounded like a distant car crash.

A few minutes later, Sam the janitor came running in.

“Mr. Paco! I just saw Michael Moore climbing out of the elevator in the basement!”

“What’s so remarkable about that, Sam?”

“Why, that elevator doesn’t go to the basement!”

Sheila came in laughing. “It’s my fault. He was hungry and I gave him half my ham sandwich. I guess that made him equal to just over the ten-person maximum that Otis allows.”

To Richmond and Back

Last weekend, Mrs. Paco and I made another attempt to get to Richmond from Fairfax (no wonder it took Grant so long to bring his forces to bear on the Confederate capital; he must have taken I-95). The trip was successful this time around, although the traffic was horrible.

We stayed off of I-95 for the first leg of the trip back and took US 1. There is a pretty little bridge in Caroline County that has obelisks mounted at both ends and in the middle. I'm not sure what the significance is, but I found them to be a delightful addition and stopped to take a couple of pictures.





Fortunately, the day was beautiful and not overly hot. I will spare readers a summary of the language I used as we ran into our first gridlock in Fredericksburg.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sunday Funnies

1) Hilarious unclassified military photos, courtesy of friend and commenter Real Jeff.

2) High noon in Lytton, Canada (via that indefatigable internet explorer, Captain Heinrichs).

3) New - and more credible - Bigfoot pictures.

4) Something for the ladies (pure fantasy, of course, but you can dream, can't you?)

Update: Captain Heinrichs provides a look at Canadian artillery:

Bigfoot Hoax

Two men hiking in Georgia claim to have discovered Bigfoot, but the whole thing turned out to be a hoax. A blurry picture of what the two men said was a Bigfoot carcass was submitted for analysis to Paco Labs. Our state-of-the-art, high resolution photo enhancement technology indicates that the object in the photo was not really a dead Sasquatch, but a very-much-alive, though addle-pated, liberal reporter.

Update: Several commenters are complaining about ocular damage and psychological trauma as a result of that photo I linked to. I extend my heartfelt apologies and suggest that a peek at these hooters will have a tonic effect.

Friday, August 15, 2008

New Invention from Paco Enterprises

I regret that it probably won’t be available in time for this year’s general election, but I certainly hope to have the Magic Wand of Disenfranchisement ready for 2012. I plan to wave it over the following groups of voters:

1) People who need Michael Moore to tell them how to vote;

2) People who, given a clear choice between candidates, are genuinely undecided 24 hours before the polls open;

3) People who believe that a laughably clueless foreign policy dumb ass can be transformed overnight into Winston Churchill through the laying on of hands by Hollywood pea-brains and mothballed generals;

4) People who are under the impression that they’re electing a Wizard of Oz instead of a U.S. president

If you can think of any other deserving demographics, let me know and I’ll make the proper adjustments.

Assortment

1) Don Surber has some excellent analogies to the Democratic oil plan.

2) An interesting series showing the evolution of Obama’s new poster.

3) The Republican National Convention has also been targeted for disruption, by the Students for a Democratic [sic] Society. The SDS had its origins in the 1960’s as an anti-war group, and now styles itself as an anarchist organization (i.e., a “movement” consisting mostly of college-age kids who have decided to justify their aversion to the classroom, and the destruction of their parents’ hopes and dreams – and, no doubt, a significant portion of the folks’ life savings - by cloaking their juvenile resentments and bone-idle disposition in “political relevance”). As readers may recall, I witnessed a group of these idiots protesting near my building a few weeks ago. Their encounter with the police came off predictably (a handful of bored cops held them at bay until they got out of line, then the police stomped a couple of them and the rest withdrew in considerable disorder).

4) C’mon! Russia invades Georgia? You knew it had to be this guy’s fault.

5) No offense to Canada intended (not by me, anyway), but Shadowlands has a lol take on the country’s unfortunate dearth of victories in the Olympics.

6) Coming this fall on Messiah TV: Hawaii Jive-O


7) From his earlier days in Hawaii, here is a picture of the young Barack Obama. He has just had a close brush with the law:

Judge: Alright, young man, I’m going to let you off easy, this time, but if the police ever catch you with any more weed, I’ll throw the book at you.

Obama: Oh, you don’t have to worry about that, your Honor! No more weed for this future president of the United States!

Just foolin’ That’s actually Obama’s prep school graduation picture, and the vegetation hanging around his neck is a lei.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

You Are Getting Sleepy...Your Eyelids Are Growing V-e-r-y Heavy

Senator Harry "The Human Tranquilizer" Reid will be speaking at the Democratic National Convention (I must act fast and get the coffee and NoDoz concessions).

Friday Happy Feet

Sing, Sing, Sing! was practically the anthem of the Swing Era. Benny Goodman and his orchestra electrified the audience during B.G.’s 1938 Carnegie Hall concert with a 12-minute version of the tune, which featured remarkable solos by Gene Krupa, Harry James and Jess Stacy.

Today’s Happy Feet features a shorter performance by Benny and the boys, recorded for the 1937 movie Hollywood Hotel; it’s still long enough to incorporate solos by Krupa, James and the Maestro, himself. A foot-stomper, par excellence.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



I like historical fiction, and I like a good mystery; the late Bruce Alexander (the pen name of Bruce Cook) combined the two genres in a remarkable series of novels featuring the formidable 18th century London magistrate, Sir John Fielding.

As a young man of 19 serving with the Royal Navy, Sir John had been blinded in an accident. Nonetheless, he subsequently went into business on his own, and "read" law with his half brother, Henry Fielding, the famous novelist and magistrate. Together they formed the Bow Street Runners, London’s first organized police force. When Henry had to retire in 1754 as chief magistrate due to ill health, he was succeeded by Sir John, who held the office until his death in 1780.

The novels (the first in the series is Blind Justice) are marvelously evocative of the time and place, and feature a host of fascinating characters, running the gamut from judges, lords and prelates to pirates, cutpurses and prostitutes (both practicing and retired). In addition to Justice Fielding, one encounters other historical figures, including Samuel Johnson, Lord Chief Justice Mansfield, and even Benjamin Franklin. Part of the great charm of the series is that the books are presented in the form of the memoirs of Jeremy Proctor, who as a boy of 13, is saved from the streets by Sir John and taken into his household (eventually he, too, decides to study the law). Jeremy is an exceptionally bright lad who winds up providing valuable assistance to Sir John in the latter’s effort to solve the crimes that form the nucleus of each volume, and their interaction and gradual development of a “father-son” relationship is one of the most delightful things about the series.

Sadly, Bruce Alexander died in 2003; but he left a unique legacy in the Sir John Fielding Mysteries, and I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Al Qaeda Done in by the Pickle Police

Well, allied troops are primarily responsible, of course. But Al-Qaeda's harsh rule in areas of Iraq that had come under the group's control led to a ferocious backlash, culminating in the Sunni Awakening and the virtual elimination of Al-Qaeda as an effective terrorist organization.

Among their more idiotic rules was one forbidding women from purchasing cucumbers and other "male" fruit in the marketplaces.

H/T Tigerhawk

I Believe!

Friend and commenter Captain Heinrichs has unearthed another example of science vs. faith.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hope and Change and the Withering Away of the State

Obama picks up another important progressive endorsement.

Update: It'll look nice on the mantlepiece next to this one and this one.

Advisors on Call, 24/7

The sleeping quarters of President and Mrs. Obama in the White House, on the evening of the day on which the President has his first cabinet meeting.

Obama (climbing under the sheets): If I do say so myself, we got quite a lot accomplished today.

Michelle: I heard you were wonderful, honey! Very masterful, yet willing to lean on others for advice. Consensus-building; that’s a sign of real wisdom, and it makes up for a lack of experience. Not like Bush, always going off half-cocked, never paying attention to the experts.

Obama: Thanks, baby. Well, looks like another big day tomorrow so we’d better get some shut-eye (reaches over to the night table and puts out the light, then lifts his head and says in a raised voice): Good night, George! Good night, Wesley!

George Clooney: Good night Mr. Prez, good night Michelle.

Wes Clark: Good night, Mr. President, Good night Mrs. Obama.

Obama: Good night, John.

John Edwards (singing softly under the sheets, “You’re Havin’ My Baby”, accompanied by barely suppressed feminine giggles): Wha..? Oh, good night Mr. President, good night Michelle.

Obama: Who have you got there with you, John?

John Edwards: Sorry, sir, I can’t answer that. Attorney-client privilege, you know!

Loud snores, punctuated by fragments of sentences, come from a far corner of the room: *Z-z-z-z-z*….Yeah, give me the damn daybed…*Snkxx*…Whitey gets the Posturepedic mattress…*Hack! Splutter!*…Baptize…Janet Jackson…wet robe malfunction…y-e-a-h…*Z-z-z-z-z*

Obama (whispering fondly): Good night, Reverend Wright.
* * *

In the wee hours of the morning…3 am…the emergency phone rings; Reverend Wright, coming back from his fourth trip to the bathroom growls irritably, “I’ll get it, I’ll get it…”

Muh Durn Art

Get’cher culture rat’cheer, folks! And don’t miss the critic’s comments.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The People's Candidate

As Babalu points out, we don't absolutely have to choose between Obama and McCain. For example, how about Gloria La Riva? At least, with her in the White House, it'll be the leaders of other countries who'll be worrying about that 3:00 am call. By all means, click on the video; La Riva is quite the silver-tongued orator (if you watch closely, I think you can see a couple of bored robins fall out of the tree behind her).

Clooney Apparently on Short List for Minister of Kultur

George Clooney has been offering Obama plenty of free advice lately - and it's worth every cent!

What is it that tends to turn so many celebrities into braying jackasses? These people spend a substantial part of their lives pretending to be the characters in some screenwriter's script, i.e., trying to be somebody else. So many of them seem to be absolutely clueless about who they really are; whither, therefore, the audacity to lecture the rest of us about how we ought to be and act and think?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Make Some More Room Under That Bus


Actually, you might need another bus for this guy.

Tom Mattzie - resident fat putz at a moonbat group called "Accountable America" - is threatening Republican donors with "confrontation" and "exposure". Apparently, having won a lifetime supply of donuts at Krispy Kreme has enlarded his brain as well as his waistline. And, as is usually the case with parlor radicals, he has picked a fight with the wrong man.

Obama to Raise Money in...Switzerland?

George Clooney thought it would be a good idea to hit up Americans living in Switzerland for donations to Obama's campaign.

Here is an exclusive video from Paco World News Ltd., showing Obama's Swiss volunteers summoning prospective donors down from the hills.

Georgia On My Mind

Ralph Peters of the New York Post has a short, but very perceptive article online about the extent of Russia's deviousness in connection with the problems in Georgia and elsewhere. Peters points out that, when the old Soviet Union broke up, the Russians made sure to continue investing in local political groups and movements that could be counted on to undermine the genuine independence of the former Soviet "republics".

Solzhenitsyn wrote, back in the early '70's, that he doubted that there was a single person in the Soviet Union who still really believed in Communism. Two decades later, not only did no one believe in it anymore, no one wanted to bother any longer with preserving the fiction. Communism had ceased to be, even in theory, a viable economic and political system, and certainly was not up to the task of enabling Russia to compete with the West. So, the ideology was jettisoned; however, the engine that had always been the real source of the old Soviet Union's power - Russian nationalism (to which even Stalin appealed in times of national emergency) - has now been exposed for what it is. Shorn of the trappings of revolutionary Marxism, the aggressiveness of Russian foreign policy has taken on a greater transparency; we can now see clearly that the great democratic experiment has been sabotaged by a new oligarchy, which has not only boosted Russian belligerence in the realm of foreign policy, but has led to a tremendous increase in corruption, as Putin and his allies extend their tentacles into the banking and industrial sectors through violence, intimidation and the abuse of government power (I have seen much evidence of this in the course of my own line or work).

Russia is not quite yet 1920's Chicago, but it is difficult to see what internal forces have sufficient strength to stop the transformation of the country into a genuine gangster state.

Update: Obama opines on the situation, further consolidating his reputation as a foreign policy feather-weight.

Update II: Good links and commentary from Dogfight at Bankstown and The Belmont Club.

Update III: This should help: John Edwards is channeling the spirit of a dead Georgian civilian before the World Court (context).

Friday, August 8, 2008

Eureka!

Ward Snavely stood in his boss’s office, rooted to the floor, shoulders slightly hunched, arms held rigidly against his sides, fists clinched; he looked like a reporter covering a hurricane, leaning into the wind to avoid being blown off his feet. He was being thoroughly chewed out by the senior partner of the advertising company for which he worked.

“Snavely, you’ve had two weeks - two weeks - to come up with a new poster for the Obama campaign, and this crap is the best you can do?” Mr. Glotz picked up a computer-generated picture from his desk; it showed Obama in jeans and work shirt, sleeves rolled up to reveal almost Popeye-like forearms, a shovel over his shoulder, all against the background of what appeared to be either a blood-red dawn or a nuclear explosion. “What’s this, Snavely? Socialist Realism? Great idea! Why not just paint a hammer and sickle at the top, while you’re at it? And I really love this one!” Mr. Glotz picked up another poster prototype. It featured a regular photo of Obama in a dark suit, but had been touched up to show him holding a lightning bolt in one hand and a basket of puppies in the other. The image left him speechless, but seemed to boost the energy he needed to rip the thing into a hundred pieces.

“Snavely, you either get me a workable idea for a new campaign poster before the end of the day or you’re fired!”

Snavely somehow found his way out of the senior partner’s office and began staggering down the hall to the bathroom. The session with Mr. Glotz had almost pureed his bowels, and he felt a keen need to ensconce himself in a bathroom stall for a few minutes.

He entered the bathroom, lurched toward one of the stalls, and opened the door; all of a sudden, it was if the world around him had ceased to exist, except for that one, altar-like object in front of him. Inspiration had come upon him, at last!



At five minutes to five, he marched proudly into Mr. Glotz’s office with the finished product.

Missing Link

Skeletal remains of early liberal discovered.

Dang! First Sherman, Now This

War breaks out between Russia and Georgia.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Friday Happy Feet

Duke Ellington's bands always had a truly unique sound, partly as the result of Ellington's abilities as a composer, partly because of his great soloists. Here's a little number from 1942 called "C-Jam Blues".

The McCain Mutiny

Al Gore has bought a houseboat, christened the Bio-Solar One

The scene: A spartanly-furnished conference room in the Center Hill Lake Community Center. Toward the front of the room, a long table, behind which are seated the board members of the Center Hill Lake Homeowners’ Association. They are gathered to hear a charge, characterized by the plaintiff, as an act of mutiny by senior officers of the BS-1.

Chairman: Mr. Gore, this is an informal hearing to look into some kind of disturbance aboard your house boat. Why are you wearing a dress-blue Navy uniform?

Gore: Well, I am the captain; I thought it would be appropriate to appear…

Chairman: Whatever. Now, you state that there was a…a mutiny aboard your boat?

Gore: That’s correct. A mutiny: “the unlawful resistance of a superior officer, or the raising of commotions and disturbances on board of a ship against the authority of its commander.”

Chairman: Uh huh. And this mutiny was carried out by your [reads through the complaint]…your “senior officers?”

Gore: That’s right, sir.

Chairman (looking around the conference room and spotting the alleged malefactors): Buddy, Lamar, that would be you two boys?

Buddy Johnson: I reckon so, Mr. Smoot.

Chairman: Mr. Gore, just exactly what did Buddy and Lamar do for you to charge them with mutiny?

Gore: Well, sir, I was preparing to engage the enemy…

Chairman: You were preparing to engage the what?

Gore: The enemy, sir; Bo Tomlin’s Jet Ski Rentals. You see, he’s been renting jet skis out all summer, and they’re not only environmentally unfriendly, they create a tremendous din.

Chairman (Sighing): Continue.

Gore: As I was saying, this fellow Tomlin was aiding and abetting numerous persons in disturbing the peace and quiet that I need aboard my vessel to carry out my work.

Chairman: Which is?

Gore: Saving the planet, sir.

Chairman: Saving the…planet. Er, Mr. Gore, witnesses say that you attempted to ram Bo Tomlin’s pier.

Gore: That’s right, sir; “engaging the enemy.” But at the last minute, my senior officers…

Chairman: Buddy and Lamar…

Gore: My senior officers approached the bridge, seized my person and aborted the mission.

Chairman: Mm-hm. It also says something here in your complaint about theft.

Gore (removes two large steel ball bearings from his pocket and begins to roll them in the palm of his hand): Ah! The “Doctor Good Carb’s Zingo Energy Bars”! That’s where I had them! The crew had been pilfering them…

Chairman: The crew?

Hubert Butterfield, the school janitor and part-time swabby of the BS-1, raised his hand

Gore: Yes, the crew had been stealing them, using a duplicate key to the food locker. I could prove the existence of such a key, using geometric logic, and I’d have succeeded, too, if I hadn’t been betrayed by my disloyal officers, who are, incidentally, registered Republicans. And well you may gasp in horror, gentlemen! (Actually, the board members were snickering). I’ve even seen the senior officers and the crew sporting McCain buttons!

Gore was now furiously clacking the steel balls in his hand; they sounded like a Lionel train zipping along the track under the tree on Christmas morning.

Chairman: Mr. Gore, if you’ll pardon us for a few minutes, I’d like to confer with the other board members privately.

The chairman and his colleagues rose and withdrew to a corner of the room. After a few moments of whispered conversation, the chairman pulled a cell phone from his pocket and made a call. Five minutes later a white ambulance could be seen through the window rolling up in front of the community center; on the side of the ambulance was the emblem of the Centerville Psychiatric Clinic. Two burly men in white suits descended from the cab, opened the side panel-door and stood by. The chairman walked over to Gore.

Chairman (smiling somewhat nervously): Mr. Gore, we’re going to take your charge of mutiny under advisement and get back to you. In the meantime, we’ve taken the liberty of ordering a…ahm…private car to take you back to your…uh…boat.

Gore saluted the chairman, and the small crowd – consisting of plaintiff, defendants and a sprinkling of nosy onlookers with nothing better to do – filed out of the building. Gore walked toward the ambulance, but paused long enough to smile haughtily at Buddy, Lamar and Hubert. “Good day…gentlemen.”

As Gore stepped into the van, Hubert Butterfield stuck his tongue through his teeth and vigorously blew air over it, piping his “captain” aboard.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What, Did They Get Caught Counting Cards at the Blackjack Table?

African clawed frogs seized in Nevada. "No charges have been filed against the people who illegally possessed a total of 119 frogs because they are cooperating fully with law enforcement to 'get any and all prohibited frogs off the streets'"...

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



Evelyn Waugh was not only one of the greatest English novelists of the 20th century, but also a fine travel writer who brought the same powers of observation and keen wit to bear during his excursions and expeditions as he employed in penning his masterpieces of fiction. Between 1929 and 1935, he wrote four travel books - Labels, Remote People, Ninety-two Days and Waugh in Abyssinia- and substantial selections from these were later collected in an anthology entitled When the Going Was Good, today’s “Shelves” feature.

The book covers journeys Waugh made to South America, Africa and the Middle East, with numerous interesting stops along the way. Take Naples, for example:

“As soon as I landed a small man in a straw hat ran to greet me, with evident cordiality. He had a brown, very cheerful face, and an engaging smile.

‘Hullo, yes, you sir. Good morning,’ he cried. ‘You wanta one nice woman.’

I said, no, not quite as early as that.

‘Well, then, you wanta see Pompeian dances. Glass house. All-a-girls naked. Vair artistic, vair smutty, vair French.’

I still said no, and he went on to suggest other diversions rarely associated with Sunday morning. In this way we walked the length of the quay as far as the cab rank at the harbour entrance. Here I took a small carriage. The pimp attempted to climb on to the box, but was roughly repulsed by the driver. I told him to drive me to the cathedral, but he took me instead to a house of evil character.

‘In there,’ said the driver, ‘Pompeian dances.’

‘No’, I said, ‘the cathedral.’

…I paid him and went into the cathedral. It was full of worshippers. One of them detached himself from his prayers and came over to where I was standing.

‘After the Mass. You wanta come see Pompeian dances?’

I shook my head in Protestant aloofness.

‘Fine girls?’

I looked away. He shrugged his shoulders, crossed himself, and relapsed into devotion…”
* * *

Some of Waugh’s finest reporting came from his two trips to Abyssinia (which later furnished him with much rich material for his novels, Scoop and Black Mischief). It is perhaps rare for people these days to stumble across potential journeys in such a haphazard fashion, but what a pity that it should be so:

“Six weeks before, I had barely heard Ras Tafari’s name. I was in Ireland, staying in a house where chinoiserie and Victorian gothic contend for mastery over a Georgian structure. We were in the library, discussing over the atlas a journey I proposed to make to China and Japan. We began talking of other journeys, and so of Abyssinia. One of the party was on leave from Cairo; he knew something of Abyssinian politics and the coming coronation. Further information was contributed from less reliable sources; that the Abyssinian Church had canonized Pontius Pilate, and consecrated their bishops by splitting their heads; that the real heir to the throne was hidden in the mountains, fettered with chains of solid gold; that the people lived on raw meat and mead; we looked up the royal family in the Almanach de Gotha and traced their descent from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba; we found a history that began: ‘The first certain knowledge we have of Ethiopian history is when Cush ascended the throne immediately after the Deluge’; an obsolete encyclopaedia informed us that , ‘though nominally Christian, the Abyssinians are deplorably lax in their morals, polygamy and drunkenness being common even among the highest classes and in the monasteries.’ Everything I heard added to the glamour of this country. A fortnight later I was back in London and had booked my passage to Djibouti.”
* * *

At the coronation of the Emperor in Addis Ababa, Waugh is assisted in understanding the Coptic Mass by an “expert”:

“Professor W., who was an expert of high transatlantic reputation on Coptic ritual, occasionally remarked: ‘They are beginning the Mass now,’ ‘That was the offertory.’ ‘No, I was wrong; it was the consecration,’ ‘No, I was wrong; I think it is the secret Gospel,’ ‘No, I think it must be the Epistle,’ ‘How very curious; I don’t believe it was the Mass at all’…”
* * *

And in Aden, Waugh tells a rather charming tale of a local troop of Boy Scouts:

“One unifying influence among the diverse cultures of the Crater was the Aden troop of Boy Scouts. It is true that Arabs cannot be induced to serve in the same patrol with Jews, but it is a remarkable enough spectacle to see the two races sitting amicably on opposite sides of a camp-fire, singing their songs in turn and occasionally joining each other in chorus. The scoutmaster, an English commercial agent, invited me to attend one of these meetings…Later a Somali boy presented himself for examination in scout law. He knew it all by heart perfectly. ‘First scoot law a scoot’s honour iss to be trust second scoot law…’ et cetera, in one breath.

‘Very good, Abdul. Now tell me what does “thrifty” mean?’

‘Trifty min?’
‘Yes, what do you mean, when you say a scout is thrifty?’

‘I min a scoot hass no money.’”
* * *

The best travel writers skillfully manage to subordinate their own presence altogether, letting the landscapes and peoples of far away lands unroll before the reader in their own element, almost cinematically. And yet the subtle hand of the writer in its crafting of the prose, and in the selection and arrangement of incidents and conversations and locales, can nonetheless be detected, and, in Waugh’s case, truly savored for its genius.

I invite readers to note some of their own favorite travel books in the comments section.

Forget the Alamo?

Mexican soldiers cross into Arizona, hold Border Patrol agent at gunpoint.

It's bad enough that we can't stop illegal immigrants from crossing the border, but when foreign troops start showing up in Arizona to protect drug runners, I'd say we've got us a real problem.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Carter Redux

John McCain recently suggested that an Obama presidency would represent Jimmy Carter’s second term. Let’s take a little stroll down memory lane, shall we?









Paralysis, half-measures and humiliation in the face of radical Islam; an idiotic energy policy based on price controls and entitlements that created long lines at gas stations; bizarre, almost surrealistic, episodes underscoring the farcical nature of his administration; and a proclivity for developing man-crushes on dictators. Oh, yeah. I’m up for that, again.

Monday, August 4, 2008

So, What Are Your Kids Doing this Summer?

Not every child is learning how to work and play nicely with others

Energy Crisis Over!

Obama, flip-flopping faster than the speed of light, creates fusion reaction in his own head, solves energy crisis.

Update: Obama vows to end foreign oil dependence in ten years, will ask Congress to fund installation of 15,000 tire-inflation kiosks.

Ok, I made up that last part; but his actual ideas represent little more than a great whistling sound of compressed air.

Snakes on a Plane

Commenter Nahanni at Gateway Pundit links to this news article, in which we learn that Obama's campaign jet - O-Force One - includes a personal seat for the Messiah with the word "President" on the back. I suppose if the airplane develops problems and begins to spiral out of control, Obama will just slip into his Hope & Change superhero suit, exit the plane, grab the tail and set the aircraft down safely in a field (or, if possible, outside of CNN headquarters).

This level of hubris, I should point out, is generally considered a provocation to the gods. I wonder, if Obama is narrowly defeated this fall, whether he will be able to accept the loss with equanimity; the arrogance he is displaying now seems rather to point in the direction of the Gore gambit: claim victory not only up to, but even beyond, the bitter end.

Update: Interestingly, the arrogance seems to be alloyed with a fair amount of pusillanimity.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Assortment

1) Barack Obama: red diaper godson?

2) The Republican resistance movement continues.

3) Road rage? Why, yes, I know exactly what you're talking about...

4) Alexander Solzhenitsyn has died. A great writer and an inspiration to generations of anti-communists.

Update: The career of another high-level terrorist takes the down-escalator.

Update II: The only use David Gergen has ever been to anybody was to inspire Andrew Ferguson to call him "a goggle-eyed melon head".

Rebellion in Leftywood

First came John Voight. Now, here comes David Zucker. Could it be that the invincible Death Star of Hollywood leftism is about to throw a rod?

A Yard Full of Little Suns


Before this thing bloomed, I was wondering whether Mrs. Paco had bought sunflower seeds or magic beans. It's a mammoth sunflower, and this one's nine feet tall.


This is a bed of black-eyed susans. The bright yellow flowers have helped put me into a cheery mood (much better than the saturnine disposition of yesterday, after our highway difficulties).

Same Old Same Old

Henry Louis Gomez of the Babalu blog has an article up at Pajamas Media in which he throws a little cold water on the expectations of those optimists who seem to believe that Raul Castro's favorite bedtime reading is Adam Smith. As Henry points out, the practical effects of Raul's "reforms" are likely to be nil - certainly not anywhere near sufficient to overcome the economic drag created by a Marxist government.

Another factor to bear in mind when contemplating the hurdles to genuine reform in Cuba is the extent to which the military has worked its tentacles into the economic sector. The army has been given a large investment stake in various businesses, including the tourist industry. How realistic is it to expect that the Cuban army - the only people that actually, you know, possess guns - is going to cheerfully turn in its meal ticket for the greater good?

There are a couple of silver linings to this cloud, however. Even Raul Castro seems to grasp the fact (whether he admits it publicly or not) that Marxism is a dead-end street. And the second positive factor is that 50 years of communism have not extinguished the desire for freedom on the part of the Cuban people.