Friday, October 31, 2008

Stingy Taxpayers

According to Obama, it's just plain selfish not to want to pay higher taxes. So, everybody in the tax bracket right above mine, you need to dig a little deeper.



Update: Not directly related, but I'm enjoying my new-found hobby of making motivational posters:

Happy Halloween!



Maybe this is scarier...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fear of Voting



Has-been author of psycho-sexual potboilers, Erica Jong, predicts “blood in the streets” if Obama loses.

Could be. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a certain amount of bloodletting even if he wins; no doubt there are more than a few of his friskier supporters who will consider that they’re on the right side of a revolution that has been permanently won, and will view his victory as a green light to strut and bully and generally raise hell. But “civil war”? Who’s going to be in charge on the Left? Keith Olberman? Chris “Tingle Legs” Mathews? How about Colin Powell; he’s got some military experience. Or maybe Chris Buckley will bring us to our knees with his lethal irony bombs.

If Obama does lose, and if there is violence, you know who I’m going to hold responsible (in addition to the individuals who commit it)? The mainstream media, that’s who. They’ve done nothing but frame Obama’s victory as an inevitability, helping to whip up unreasonable expectations to such an extent that a loss would be seen as yet another election “stolen” by Republicans.

I devoutly hope that there won’t be any violence; but if there is, my motto will be that of Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) in Out of the Past, who, when the femme fatale says, “Jeff, I don’t want to die!”, responds, “Neither do I, baby, but if I have to, I wanna die last.”

(H/T: Cold Fury)

Update: Priceless take on Christopher Buckley's apostasy by Iowahawk.

Update II: Of course, not all media outlets are in the tank for Barrie; for example, the ones that are getting kicked off of his campaign plane.

Update III: John at Wuzzadem is back, better than ever!

Happy Feet Friday

Embedding’s not permitted on this one, so just hit the link and go straight to YouTube for a medley of smokin’ boogie-woogie and soulful blues from the great Memphis Slim.

Assortment

1) I guess this is still cheaper than breast implants.

2) Compare and contrast.

3) If Obama’s such a regular guy, why is he drawing the enthusiastic support of these folks? And this fellow? And this lot?

4) Mystery writer Tony Hillerman has died. If you haven’t read his who-dunnits set in Navajo country, you don’t know what you’re missing (here’s a nice tribute from The American Spectator). RIP.

Update: American Spectator link fixed.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



The Library of America is an ambitious publishing project that is bringing out definitive editions of the best in American literature, history and journalism. The volumes are sturdily bound and printed on high-quality, acid-free paper, and will last for generations. I have acquired maybe ten or so, but wanted to focus today on the two-volume set, The Debate on the Constitution, which features arguments made by some of the finest minds of the day, pro and con, on the passage of the fundamental document of our republic. The federalists favored a strong national government, the anti-federalists advocated the sovereignty of the states, and although the federalists ultimately won that fight, their foes made some trenchant arguments that still resonate today.

The politicians, statesman and other concerned citizens who participated in the debate, and whose speeches and essays are included in these volumes, stand out – certainly in contrast to the current crop of politicos and pundits – by virtue of the depth and breadth of their learning, their knowledge of history, and the genuine seriousness with which they treated the American experiment and their own responsibilities in nurturing the new polity.

Here is “Publius” (Alexander Hamilton), from the Independent Journal of New York in 1787, writing on the dangers facing a nation that cannot agree on laws that bind the states together in common interest:

“A Firm Union will be of the utmost moment to the peace and liberty of the States as a barrier against domestic faction and insurrection. It is impossible to read the history of the petty Republics of Greece and Italy, without feeling sensations of horror and disgust at the distractions with which they were continually agitated, and at the rapid succession of revolutions, by which they were kept in a state of perpetual vibration, between extremes of tyranny and anarchy…From the disorders that disfigure the annals of those republics, the advocates of despotism have drawn arguments, not only against forms of republican government, but against the very principles of liberty. They have decried all free government, as inconsistent with the order of society, and have indulged themselves in malicious exultation over friends and partisans. Happily for mankind, stupendous fabrics reared on the basis of liberty, which have flourished for ages, have in a few glorious instances refuted their gloomy sophisms. And, I trust, America will be the broad and solid foundation of other edifices not less magnificent, which will be equally permanent monuments to their errors.”

George Mason, writing for the anti-federalists (the Virginia Journal, 1787), expresses concerns about the form of national government, drawing attention to some issues that are still troublesome today:

“In the House of Representatives there is not the substance, but the shadow only of representation; which can never produce proper information in the Legislature, or inspire confidence in the people; the laws will therefore be generally made by men little concerned in, and unacquainted with their effects and consequences.”

“The Senate have the power of altering all money-bills, and of originating appropriations of money, and the salaries of the officers of their own appointment in conjunction with the President of the United States, although they are not the representatives of the people, or amenable to them.”

“These with their other great powers (viz. their power in the appointment of ambassadors and other public officers, in making treaties, and in trying all impeachments) their influence upon and connection with the supreme executive from their causes, their duration of office, and their being a constant existing body almost continually sitting, joined with their being one complete branch of the Legislature, will destroy any balance in government, and enable them to accomplish what usurpations they please upon the rights and liberties of the people.”

It was an exciting era, and the arguments and counter-arguments collected within the pages of The Debate on the Constitution serve the very useful purpose of focusing our thoughts on the vision of our founding fathers, and throw into relief many of the dangers which they foresaw, and which gather around us, once again, in this particularly important and tumultuous election year.

Send Porky McQuisling a Message

You may not be able to vote against "Abscam" Jack Murtha (unless you live in his congressional district, of course), but you can show your love in another way (H/T: Dan Riehl).

The Infomercial

Barack Obama makes a routine visit to see his doctor, on the day of his 30-minute infomercial.

Doctor (A small, somewhat pudgy little fellow, whose coke-bottle eyeglasses give him an owlish appearance; he speaks in an unexpectedly rich, soothing baritone): Good morning, Senator!

Obama: Er, good morning. Say, you’re not my regular doctor.

Doctor: No, I’m Dr. Mindbender. Your regular physician had an emergency call, and probably won’t be back for several hours. Of course, if you’d care to reschedule…

Obama: Oh, no, no. This is just a routine visit. I’ve got to give a speech tonight on national television, and I want to be at my best. Frankly, doctor, I’ve been troubled by bouts of insomnia, lately.

Doctor: Yes, your eyes do look a little glassy; a little tired. Here, let me turn off this awful overhead light; we’ve got plenty of beautiful sunlight coming through the window, anyhow! (takes an ophthalmoscope from the pocket of his white lab coat and peers at Obama’s eyes). Mmmmm…Yes I can tell that you’re tired. And there’s some discoloration in the corner of your right eye; possibly a subconjunctival hemorrhage. Nothing to worry about. Here; I’m going to hold this silver pocket watch up to one side and I’d like you to focus on it.

Obama: Certainly, Doctor (Obama looks at the watch; it’s twirling, slowly, on its chain; the light from the window is twinkling on it; it’s very pleasant…almost…mesmerizing…).

Doctor: That’s right. Relax. My, you are tired, aren’t you? I can see your eyelids drooping…they’re getting heavier and heavier…you’re getting sleepy…very sleepy…

Obama: Z-z-z-z-z….

Doctor: Listen carefully, Barack. You’re giving a speech tonight. It is a very important speech. I am going to tell you what to say. Forget the talk that you have prepared and that you have been practicing up to now. I will tell you exactly what you need to say. When you sit in front of the cameras, as soon as you say, “Good evening, my fellow Americans”, you will completely forget the old speech and you will only remember the one I will give you now…Here is what you have to say…

(Later on the evening of the same day. A broadcast studio. Cameramen are getting their equipment into position; the soundman is doing a last-minute check; the make-up girl is flicking a piece of lint off of Obama’s suit, as he sits behind a desk, poised to give what may be the most important talk of his life. The director begins the countdown to air time…On the air!)

“Good evening my fellow Americans…I…er…tonight I want to talk to you about…about…about Oxiclean Products! (his voice suddenly rises an octave, and the decibel level makes the soundman jerk the earphones off his head). Are you tired of spending good money for name-brand laundry products that leave your colors looking faded, your whites looking yellow and dingy? Then you need Oxiclean! Hi, Billy Mays here…”

(The cameraman, the director, the soundman and the make-up girl are standing offstage, stunned, their jaws dropping, looking rather like a line of rural mailboxes with the flaps hanging down; the director finally manages to make the “cut” sign, a few moments after Obama has diverged from listing the wonderful effects on laundry of Oxiclean, and embarked on a detailed explanation of the product’s many other uses, including cleaning the grime from kitchen stoves and bathtubs.)

* * *

A cold autumn wind buffets Paco Tower, bringing a chilly downpour of rain; however, the bad weather serves only to enhance the sense of warmth and well-being enjoyed by the Captain of Industry, as he sits in his library, sipping brandy and smoking an Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Churchill. Spurgeon the butler is gingerly placing another log on the fire – from a cord of logs imported from the Brazilian rainforest - when the phone rings.

“Don’t bother, Spurgeon; I’ll get it. Hello? Oh, hello, Dr. Mindbender! Permit me to congratulate you on a sterling piece of work! By the by, how did you manage to detain the senator’s regular doctor? Really? Well, I suppose someone must have released him by this time; I mean to say, if you’re handcuffed to a ball-washing machine on the golf course, someone’s bound to find you sooner or later. What’s that? No, I don’t know what the impact in the polls is, yet, but I do understand that Oxiclean saw a spike in online orders; I’m glad the poor fellow has at least something to show for his ordeal. I’ll have Spurgeon bring your check around to the carnival. And, doctor: your country thanks you.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

All the Shocking News on Palin That's Fit to Print!

The People's Cube continues to mine Palin's background; the appalling facts just keep mounting!

Deconstructing Modern Political Coverage

This election cycle, the media are not just in the tank for Obama, they are the tank, and that glistening container is sloshing and running over with the sweet milk of hope and change and electoral predestination.

I’ve been wondering why this should be. There are the obvious reasons, of course: the press is always biased in favor of the Democrat, reporters and other news-mongers are overwhelmingly liberal, and the large metropolitan centers in which the major media are located are echo chambers for those fashionable political views that pass for received wisdom. But this year I think there’s something additional afoot, and I believe it has to do with The Narrative.

It appears to me that all of these news writers, reporters, pundits, talking heads, and assorted other gatekeepers are unmasking themselves as frustrated authors, would-be Pulitzer Prize winners who hunger to write the next Great American Novel – and the Obama narrative, as recounted by the candidate and his handlers, perfectly dovetails with their jejune sense of drama. Bouncing around inside their heads, like a ping-pong ball tossed into an empty garage, is the exciting notion that the storyline of Obama’s life makes a great read, and that they now have an opportunity to write the ending to the story in a way they find artistically pleasing.

Just consider the elements of the plot:

1) First serious African-American candidate for president: young, hip and brimming with big city cool;

2) Genuine African roots (his father was from Kenya);

3) A somewhat complicated childhood (father skipped, early years unsettled, wound up being brought up largely by his white grandmother);

4) Worked hard to further his education, finally graduating with a law degree from a prestigious university;

5) Toiled among the disadvantaged, in a non-profit environment, to help better the lot of the poor;

6) Coming to believe that he could have a greater impact by moving on a larger stage, he decides to enter the political arena, where he wins elective office successively in the Illinois state senate and the U.S. Senate.

7) He is, ostensibly, a garden-variety liberal, compassionate, tolerant and fair-minded – practically from central casting! – but there are sexy, though vague, undercurrents of radicalism, that could conceivably propel him toward mighty deeds, unprecedented in recent memory.

Are there facts that conflict with, contradict and otherwise undermine The Narrative? Racist and anti-semitic preachers? Terrorist associates? Sweetheart deals with crooked real estate investors? Ethically-challenged fund raising? Thuggish intimidation of political foes? A fundamental contempt for America, for its constitution, for the give and take of our system of government? Well, what do fiction writers do when they want to smooth out the bumps in the plot? They edit, they delete, they ignore; it’s called “poetic license”, and they are, you must remember, laboring to nurture The Narrative, to write that wonderful novel in the only medium at their disposal.

And what is one of the things a writer will do to develop characterization? He will employ the device of contrast, to throw into relief the shining merits of the Young Hero. So, if Obama is a veritable Beowulf, the storyline demands that John McCain and Sarah Palin be cast in the respective roles of Grendel and his mother. This may not be fair, or even remotely factual, but we must never forget: The Narrative is the thing!

Unlike the yellowing, dog-eared manuscript of a traditional novel, resting in the desk drawer or file cabinet of the novelist manqué, wrinkled and dirty after numerous round trips to disparaging publishers, The Narrative as it unfolds in the minds of these indefatigable scribblers is read everyday, and taken in by that uncomfortably large portion of the population – described by H.L. Mencken as the “booboisie” – not as the torrid potboiler for which the “bodice-ripper” is the obvious model, but as genuine biography and scientific fact, with potentially alarming consequences for the future of the Republic.

If Obama is elected, one wonders what prodigies of literature our frustrated novelists will turn out under the guise of “news” at the end of four years. My guess is that the Young Hero celebrated in the stanzas of today’s epic poetry will undergo a sharp transformation, as will the genre used to aid and abet his struggle to secure a second term. Look for the world-weary loner of noir fiction: hard-bitten and cynical, but possessing his own admirable code of honor, pressing forward to do the right thing amidst the disasters and crimes with which he is beset – through no fault of his own! – but with which he has been framed by his cunning enemies. Perhaps the press can work in some gangsters or Nazis, or maybe a company of night-riding Republicans. There is plenty of time to decide whether Bobby Jindal will look better in a white hood and robe, or in jackboots, a gleaming monocle in his eye. Plenty of time to create a new Narrative.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Good Dog! But...

I don't much care for cats, but I admire this dog's loyalty to a basket of kittens. I wonder, though, if this will ruin his reputation, maybe get him drummed out of the Dog's Union.

"Crikey, mate! Ya coulda saved the goldfish, or even the family Bible, but n-o-o, you've gotta stick by the damned kittens! What a drongo! Yer off the rolls, mate."

Dean Barnett, RIP

A very nice tribute from one of his many close friends, Hugh Hewitt.

Shatner Continues to Amaze

I never much cared for Star Trek, but I get a kick out of Bill Shatner.

The Terror

The roiling masses of the left wing of the blogosphere are rapidly coming to resemble the faction in the French Revolution known as the Mountain, an increasingly bloodthirsty group of rowdies whipped up by a succession of Jacobin demagogues to a fever pitch of savage violence. Andrew Sullivan aspires to be their Robespierre.

Update: On the subject of Vichy conservatives, John Hawkins has some interesting thoughts (H/T: Babalu). As far as I'm concerned, David Frum shot his credibility if only for this remark: "I say 'aye' to the proposed national debt bailout — and a big shout out to Rep. Barney Frank, one of its early authors, who has been a prescient early voice on the need for a big solution to a big problem." No word on whether Frum has figured out yet that Barney is the problem.

Update II: Back to the shop on redistribution.

Who Are We to Argue with the Financial Times?

What, ho! Just thought you American johnnies could use a bit of advice. This Obama cove seems to be the favorite, and with jolly good reason. In the first place, he’s run a devilish cunning campaign; you know, well organized, pots of money, good speeches – by American standards of course; not quite the St. Crispin’s Day tongue-wag, but, I don’t know, you know, not bad for the kind of thing you go in for in the colonies. And, really, you don’t believe all that guff about socialism, do you? I mean, not that there’s anything wrong with socialism – we’ve had it over here in one form or another for years and years, and, any day now, it’s bound to click, bound to. But you’ve got the senator’s word that he and his party won’t have time to do any “crazy things” (Ah! There’s that magnificent oratory, again!), and we’re confident that Peter is safe from the highwayman acting in Paul’s interest, at least until Mr. Obama’s second or third term. Oh, and his comprehensive healthcare plan? Topping, absolutely topping stuff. Not quite up to the mark in comparison with our own expedited cradle-to-grave program, but definitely a step in the right direction, rather. As long as you don’t become obsessed with that whole “three score and ten” thing. Can’t live forever, you know; up to your armpits in old duffers. I mean to say, that is simply not on.

So, you young blots on the escutcheon, here’s a tip: be British. Get it over with and vote for Barack Obama, what? There’s a good fellow.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Detective Paco Rerun - Detective Paco in Miami

I walked from my air-conditioned room on the first floor of the Hotel Espléndido into the courtyard and it was like slipping into a warm bath. The nights in Miami tended to be hot and humid, but this evening the air was completely still, not the slightest breeze stirring. I strolled around the courtyard and paused under an avocado tree to have a cigarette. I fired one up and blew a puff of smoke into the branches; it hung there like a spider web. Nothing moved in the dead air, except for mosquitoes and the fragrance of jasmine and the vague sense of menace always looming behind the deceptive stillness of a tropical night. Perhaps the menace wouldn’t be vague at all tomorrow morning: I was going to be calling on Haroun’s House of Hummus, first stop in the search for Farouk.

Farouk had gone AWOL from Guantanamo again, and according to the FBI, was planning to take me out for good, this time. I knew that Florida would be his first stop, and Haroun’s place was a clearing house for information among the local Arab population, so, operating on the theory that the best defense is a good offense, I was going to try and track him down. I grabbed a cab the next morning, and headed out to the not-so-classy section of Biscayne Boulevard. There, wedged in between a t-shirt shop and Tío Wang’s Cuban-Chinese Cafetería and Tea House (“Today’s special: boliche con eggroll”), was Haroun’s House of Hummus. I pushed the door open and walked in.

I wouldn’t have been surprised if Sidney Greenstreet had waddled over in a white linen suit with a fez on his head and a fly-swatter in his hand. The place looked like a 1940’s Hollywood set at Warner Brothers (“one (1) standard middle-eastern café, including ceiling fans, lattice-work shutters, small round tables with grimy white table cloths; scattering of sinister characters”). Actually, though, the joint was owned by Haroun Saba, a Lebanese Maronite who was ostentatiously apolitical, but not allergic to the profit motive; I calculated that a cut of the reward money out on Farouk might secure a useful tip. I snagged a table near the door, and just as I was taking a seat, I was run down by one of the customers who was passing by with a cup of coffee. It was a soft and sweet-smelling collision, and the contents of her cup spilled on her, so I didn’t really mind. She had thick, lustrous black hair, piled up on her head like Audrey Hepburn’s, and large, liquid brown eyes, and flawless skin the color of a Kraft caramel cube, and she was dressed to the nines in a low-cut yellow satin dress.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, sir! Did I spill any on you?”

“No, ma’am, I’m fine. But it looks like your dress is done for.”

She let out a little moan of despair and immediately sat down at my table. She picked up a napkin, dunked it in a glass of water and began rubbing the stain, which ran in a streak down the front of her dress. She rubbed the thigh area in long, smooth strokes, until the fabric was so saturated that it became nearly transparent. I could tell that her caramel coloring went all over.

“I’m sorry to be such a bother, and I hope you don’t mind; this dress is practically brand new and I just naturally reached for the first water I saw – which, unfortunately, turned out to be your water glass.” She gave me a dazzling smile, and I couldn’t help but think, given her instinct for tidiness, how nice it would have been if she had overturned a whole samovar of coffee on herself. She called the waiter over and asked him to bring me another glass of water. His complexion reminded me of a Kraft product, too; “vegemite”, I think it’s called.

My new friend kept up a steady flow of patter, occasionally casting what looked to me like nervous glances toward the main dining area. Suddenly, she placed her hand on mine, the long graceful fingers pressing down on the back of my hand firmly; I could feel her racing pulse.

“Why don’t you let me make up for all this fuss by buying you breakfast?”

I smiled and happened to glance at a mirror hanging on the wall to the right side of the table. An interesting piece, probably antique, that might have dated from the late Ottoman empire; however, it wasn’t nearly as interesting as the moving images I saw reflected in it.

“Baby, I’m afraid neither one of us is going to have time for breakfast.” I grabbed her by the wrist, stood up, yanked her out of her chair, twisted her arm behind her back, and pulled out Shiny Sal – my stainless steel .38 caliber revolver – all in one seamless movement, and pointed the barrel in the direction of the front door, where two seedy patrons were attempting a quick exit.

“Hold it Farouk!”, I shouted. Farouk, who had been moving speedily to the door, stopped abruptly, his hand on the doorknob. His companion – his old comrade, Ali, if I wasn’t mistaken – wasn’t quite so alert, and practically climbed half-way up Farouk’s back; they looked like two vaudeville comics who hadn’t yet gotten the dancing horse routine down pat.

The tomato squirmed, but I held her tight. “Nice try, honey, trying to distract me that way while your pals escaped. You want to tell me the connection?”

“You bastard!”, was all she’d say. I looked steadily into Farouk’s eyes. “Well, boys, here it is: you can go back to Gitmo in one piece, or I can send you back looking like a couple of colanders plucked from the scratch-and-dent bin at K-Mart. What’ll it be?”

Farouk and Ali conversed hurriedly and heatedly for a moment in their native lingo. I could tell it was Arabic; they sounded like the quality-assurance team at a spittoon factory.

Farouk uttered a monumental sigh, and both characters held up their hands in surrender. The girl began to scream at them. “You are a disgrace to Islam! I am ashamed to have such cousins as you! Why do you not resist.?”

Farouk stared at her sternly. “Shut up, Saleh! Obviously, for the time being, Allah prefers that I return to Cuba. And as for you, Mr. Paco. You are a most vexatious man!”

I grinned at him. “Yeah, that’s always been my problem. In fact, my senior year in high school, I was voted ‘most likely to vex’”. Haroun finally made an appearance, his standard deadpan altered by one slightly raised eyebrow. To ensure his safety, I affected not to know who he was.

“You! Do you work here? Call the local FBI branch and tell them to send some agents over here to pick up these terrorists.” He obeyed, with seeming reluctance, and ten minutes later, the gang was being loaded into the FBI paddy-wagon.

As they were escorting Saleh into the wagon, she took one last look at me, and shouted, “Why don’t you stuff that gun up your . . .”Slam! went the door.

I turned to one of the FBI guys. “What a pity. Now I’ll never know what she was going to say.”

Divine Intervention Requested

Our parish priest asked the congregation to pray the litany of St. Thomas More in the week leading up to the election (St. Thomas More is the patron saint of statesmen, politicians and lawyers). If ever we needed the intercession of the saints to spare us the victory of a demagogue like Obama, it's now.

This does not, of course, relieve us of the responsibility of doing whatever we can, as individuals, to fight for victory. Whether it's ringing doorbells, working the phones or - above all - making sure you get to the polls, let's get 'er done.

Update: All is not by any means lost.

Fair Play

If the fairness doctrine is once again foisted on us, does that mean that Keith Olbermann will have to have a conservative on his show for balance? I wonder how that would go…

Keith: Good evening, I’m Keith Olbermann, and, in keeping with the legislative implementation of the fairness doctrine, I’ve now got a sidekick, right-wing extremist and friend of the late William F. Buckley, Jr. [boos from the audience] David Brooks. So, David, what do you think of Barack Obama’s presidential victory?

David: I believe this is a truly transformative event, Keith, and we all wish the new President well. One of the amazing things about him – and I mean this in a positive sense – is that there’s this benign, even benevolent aspect of the Nietzschean Übermensch about him…

Keith: Whoa, whoa whoa! Nietzschean Übermensch ?!? What, you’re saying he’s some kind of Nazi?

David: No, no, Keith! Not at all. What I mean is that he possesses a superb confidence in his almost mystical vision…

Keith: Mystical vision? So, now you’re saying he’s like Jim Jones, he’s trying to get us all to drink the Kool Aid? Excuse me, a second; how the hell did you ever worm your way into the ranks of an objective newspaper like the New York Times with these kinds of reactionary views?

David: Keith, all I’m saying is that President Obama will have to be on guard against those conservatives – and they’re mistaken, of course, tragically mistaken – who believe that he may try to immanentize the eschaton…

Keith (getting in Brooks’ face and screaming): Oh, and I suppose you didn’t know that “immanentize the eschaton” is code for “uppity black person”? You know something, Brooks, you’re THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD!!!”

David (removing his glasses and wiping the spittle off with his handkerchief): All right, Keith, all right. I’ve had my say. Now it’s your turn.

Keith (twenty minutes later, panting, his chest heaving from an unbroken tirade): …and that’s why a bullet in the nape of the neck is too good for a fascist hyena like you, Brooks! Do you dare to respond?

David: Well…

Keith: Oops, sorry! We’re out of time for tonight. Be sure to join us for our next show, folks, when special guest and noted klanswoman, Peggy Noonan, will be here to answer the question – yes or no, Peggy! - do you still advocate burning crosses in the yards of Democratic Jewish war veterans?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

WWBD?



In the current environment of Democratic foul-play and dirty tricks, we should ask ourselves: what would Bob Mitchum do?

Two PhD candidates from the local university are skulking in the shrubbery in front of a house which features a McCain/Palin sign planted bravely in the front yard. As soon as the lights in the house go out, the young men creep over to the sign and squat down next to it.

Chris: Ok, Dave, break out our friend, Mr. Box-cutter!

Dave: How many signs does this make tonight?

Chris: At least a dozen.

Dave: I wouldn’t have thought there were that many Republicans in the neighborhood. Stupid fascists. There! Number 13!

A flaming match flies between the two vandals, hitting the ground and sizzling in the dewy grass. Chris and Dave jerk their heads around and spring to their feet, like two fake snakes leaping from a can falsely marked “Peanuts”. A tall man wearing a trench coat and a snap-brim hat is standing a few feet away, a fresh cigarette dangling from his lower lip.

The stranger (speaking in a low, deceptively calm voice): You boys got a problem with freedom of speech?

Chris: Listen, this is our exercise of free speech.

The stranger: From where I’m standing, it looks like simple vandalism.

A quick, soft swishing noise is heard, as Dave extends the short, but razor-sharp blade of the box-cutter. The stranger smiles as he pulls a .38 revolver from the side pocket of his coat. Chris and Dave simultaneously gulp as they hear the crisp click of the hammer being pulled back; Dave’s hand opens automatically to let the box-cutter fall harmlessly to the ground.

The stranger: Don’t choke on your bubble gum, boys. You. Tear the sign in half and give a piece to your buddy.

Dave (does as he’s told, and hands half of the sign to Chris): Now what?

The stranger: Eat it.

Chris: Eat it??

The stranger: That’s right. Down the hatch, fellahs!

A few moments later, as the vandals manage to swallow the last bits of the sign, the stranger asks them a question.

The stranger: Ok, where are the rest of them?

Chris: In the trunk of our car. Wait…you don’t mean…

The stranger: Soup’s on! Let’s go.

Assortment

1) Sarah Palin dropped the puck for a hockey game last night, and how is her appearance treated by Yahoo News? This way, of course.

2) They grow 'em tough down under. Real tough.

3) Charles Krauthammer shows the difference between being a fair-minded critic who still knows which side he's own, and being a parlor conservative who is more concerned about being on the "right" side of history.

4) There are plenty of reasons to vote against Obama, not the least important of which is that this guy is only a heartbeat away from the presidency.

5) It's "hope and change", right? Not rope and chains?

6) In the "Whatever Happened To?" Department, Mary Mapes continues to put her brain stem to non-productive use.

7) If the same stupid government idea fails repeatedly, try, try again.

Update: Food for thought, via Wimpy Canadian in the comments section.

Update II: Bill Ayers - apparently afraid that Bill O'Reilly was planning on throwing a pipe bomb through his window - calls the cops. Name another American - if you can! - who is more reprehensible than this pusillanimous worm.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Happy Feet Friday

Lester Young and friends give us a fine “after hours”style blowout called “Jammin’ the Blues”, from a particularly high-quality short jazz film made in 1944.

What, Again?

For some reason, military voters just keep having problems with their ballots.

A lot of military personnel get off at the same Metro location as I do - the Vienna station. I hope none of them signed up with those two old ladies who have been sitting at that little table at the entrance for the last six weeks, signing up voters (that would be the table with the Obama stickers all over it).

Update: I want this so bad I can taste it.


Sayonara?

(Photo gratefully swiped from Darleen's Place)

The Good News: Bill Ayers Won't Be in Charge of the Department of Education

The bad news: he might be in charge of the gulag.

Unrelated update: The most idiotic lead paragraph in a news story this year (and it's been a very competitive year). H/T: Currency Lad

Unrelated update II: Yes We Carve!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Watch for the New Blacklist

Via Tizona, a slide show of some celebrity Republicans (Ok, Obama, I'll see your Oprah and raise you Rachel Hunter. Rachel Freakin' Hunter, dudes!).

Completely unrelated update: Persian pigeon paranoia.

Reducation

Bill Ayers may have been able to morph into Chicago's idea of an "educator", but let us not forget that he always has been, and probably always will be, a commie punk.

And, even aside from mere politics, a total creep.

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



I am an avid reader of letters and diaries (published, of course ), but certainly among the most amusing I have come across are the completely fictional writings in Maurice Baring’s Lost Diaries and Dead Letters. The book is a collection of imaginary epistles and chronicles attributed to various famous people in history and literature (or to more humble folk who find themselves in the company of the great); Christopher Columbus, the young George Washington, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Walter Raleigh, and many others are represented here, and Baring does a fine job, generally focusing on some personality trait or specific incident for which the character is renowned, and turning it to comic advantage. [Note: Maurice Baring was an English writer who led a varied life, serving as an officer in the Royal Flying Corps in WWI, a journalist, novelist and essayist. He traveled extensively in Russia and wrote an excellent personal memoir - The Puppet Show of Memory - and was a close friend of Chesterton and Belloc (more on Baring here].

Here’s a snippet from the private log of Christopher Columbus:

October 11. - Saw a light on starboard bow, but am not quite certain that it wasn’t a star.

October 12. - Roderigo saw the land at two in the morning. The King promised a reward of 10,000 Maravedises to whoever saw land first. Clearly this reward is mine, as the light I saw on Thursday night was not a star. Explained this to Roderigo, who lost his temper, and said that if he didn’t get the reward he would turn Mahommedan. The land is, of course, the coast of China. I always said it was somewhere around here.

Stood in to make land. Anchored with the best bower in eleven fathoms, soft clay. Hoisted Spanish flag; took possession of the country, which seems to be India, not China, after all. Call it West India or Hispaniola. Natives talk in a drawling sing-song, chew tobacco and gum, and drink Manzanilla and Vermouth mixed, icing the drink. This is a very gratifying mixture. It is called Cola de gallo. They have a round game of cards with counters, called chips, in which you pretend to have better cards than you do hold in reality. Played and lost. Natives very sharp.”

Sherlock Holmes gives us a peek at his diary of unsuccessful cases:

January 10. - A man called just as Watson and I were having breakfast. He didn’t give his name. He asked if I knew who he was. I said, ‘Beyond seeing that you are unmarried, that you have traveled up this morning from Sussex, that you have served in the French Army, that you write for reviews, and are especially interested in battles of the Middle ages, that you give lectures, that you are a Roman Catholic, and that you have been to Japan, I don’t know who you are.’

The man replied that he was unmarried, but that he lived in Manchester, that he had never been to Sussex or Japan, that he had never written a line in his life, that he had never served in any army save the English Territorial force, that so far from being a Roman Catholic he was a Freemason, and that he was by trade an electrical engineer – I suspected him of lying.”

Finally, Sir Walter Raleigh, in a letter to his Aunt Katherine appealing for money in order to buy new clothes, reveals the details of the famous cloak episode:

“When the Queen approached this spot, not because it was in any way damper or more muddy than the rest of the pathway, along which she had walked with the greatest unconcern, but because she wished to call the attention of Burleigh and others to the neat trimmings of her dainty shoes, she halted, and first she coughed, and sighed; and then she swore, and spat, as is her so charming habit, and cried, ‘Ods Bodikins, how can I avoid the filing of my, Byrlady! feet?’ I at once pressed forward, and taking off my cloak, being careful to hold the lining downwards, so that the inferior texture should escape the notice of the courtiers, made as though I would fling it on to the ground, so as to spread a carpet and a footcloth for her feet; I naturally waited for her to cry out against the ruining of so fair and so costly a cloak; but no, instead she cried out: ‘Here is a footcloth that indeed pleaseth me, Ods Bodikins!’ and other words to that effect, and out of an excess of coquetry she expressed her Royal wish to tread rather on the lining than on the exterior; I was constrained, therefore, to spread the cloak before her, with the plush downwards and the lining showing, but at the same time I grasped her Royal hand firmly, and led her over the dangerous spot rapidly, and no sooner had she crossed it, than I seized the cloak, and flinging it once more swiftly over my shoulders, I said to the Court: ‘This floorcloth is now Royal, and therefore for her Majesty alone’…the cloak is, needless to say, ruined for ever.”

This is a clever book filled with subtle and witty observations which, ironically, may in fact give us a truer view of the thinking and personalities of many of the great folk of history, and clearer insights into the minds of some of the prominent authors of fiction, than a mere recitation of dry facts.

Don't Mess With Aussie Lumberjacks

Australian loggers have an "animated conversation" with protesters (language alert; although, frankly, except for the "F" word, it's completely incoherent to me).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Company He Keeps...

An excellent video. Watch it.

Oh, and here’s a Republican endorsement Obama probably would have preferred to do without.

All the reasons you need to avoid pulling the lever for Obama on election day.

Update: Jim Treacher's got my vote for quote of the week (and it's only Tuesday!)

"Hi. This is Joe Biden. I'm Sorry I Can't Take Your Call Right Now, But If You'll Leave a Message...

The Washington campaign headquarters of Barack Obama. Campaign adviser David Axelrod is sitting at his desk when his secretary enters.

Secretary: Here are the latest internal polls for Florida and North Carolina, Mr. Axelrod; they were taken after Mr. Biden’s…er…comments in Seattle about Senator Obama being tested in his first six months by a foreign policy crisis.

Axelrod: Mmph. Ok, let me have a look (Reads to himself for a moment) Crap, crap, CRAP!

(A strange bumping sound issues from the closet, along with what seem like muffled yells)

Secretary (startled, she whispers to Axelrod): Sir! There’s a noise coming from your closet!

Axelrod: Really? I didn’t hear anything.

(*Bump! Bump! Bump!* Ehhmeouttaear!!)

Secretary: Sir, I’m sure that…

Axelrod: That will be all, Miss Tufts.

Secretary (casts a doubtful glance at the closet): Yes, sir ( she leaves the office, closing the door behind her).

(Axelrod rises from his desk, locks his office door, and tip-toes to the closet. Opening the closet door, he looks down with thinly veiled contempt at Senator Joe Biden, trussed up like the victim of a jewelry store robbery, an Obama bumper sticker plastered over his mouth)

Axelrod: Once again, Joe, you’re not following the script. I told you to hold the racket down, and what do you do? You thrash around like a pit bull at the vet’s, squeamish about getting his distemper shot. Do you need a shot of something, Joe?

(Biden’s eyes widen with fear, and he shakes his head quickly from side to side; in spite of the gag, he manages to articulate his submission: “Moe! Mot-at! Peas!).

Axelrod: Very well, then. You just lay there quietly like a good boy, and we’ll bring you something to eat in a little while, maybe let you go down the hall for a wee-wee. And don’t worry, you’ll be out on the campaign trail again before you know it; just as soon as we can get the micro-receiver embedded next to one of you hair plugs ( a faint whimper comes from Biden; “O-o-o, moe! P-e-a-s!”). Sorry, Joe; but you want to be Vice President, don’t you? I’m sure you’ll want to be there to help Obama through the foreign policy blow-ups that his inexperience will attract - isn’t that how you put it? Now knock off the noise, unless you want to be sealed up in the Vice President’s office come January! *Slam!*

Monday, October 20, 2008

Assortment

1) Peter Wehner at Contentions makes a couple of excellent observations on Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama.

2) Some typically great comments and links from Dogfight at Banks Town on Joe the Plumber. Jim Treacher’s all over the topic, too, and Mark Steyn provides a hilarious analogy of the Obama/Biden tax message. Oh, and don’t miss Jules Crittenden’s link to a piece by Byron York on Joe-solidarity.

3) Sarah Palin refers to her joy at visiting the pro-America part of the country, and Biden’s hair plugs stand on end. “It doesn’t matter where you live,” Biden says, “we all love this country.” Oh, really?

4) Joe “Gaffe-a-Minute” Biden seeks to soothe voters’ fears over Obama’s inexperience. Well done, Plugs!

Update: Haw!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Detective Paco Rerun - Detective Paco Takes the Train

AmTrak. Their motto ought to be, “Relax. You’ll get there eventually.”

The train was over an hour late, due to “signal problems” up the line, they said. Last time it was “switch problems”. It could’ve been bandits wearing sombreros and crossed cartridge belts blocking the tracks with a fiery barricade for all I knew. For all AmTrak knew.

It was cold and damp on the station platform and a thick white fog had settled in; I felt like the lone argyle in a drawer full of white socks. Through the cloudy veil from the direction of the ticket window came the “tic-toc” sound of Sheila’s purposeful, high-heeled gait.

“Ok, Paco. The station attendant’s been in touch with the dispatcher, and the train ought to arrive in a couple of minutes.”

“Thanks for checking.” I was restless and shifted from one foot to the other. “Sheila, I don’t feel right about this. Blowing town, I mean.” I had recently helped the FBI to capture a particularly slippery Muslim terrorist, who had escaped so often from Gitmo that he might as well have had a regular week-end furlough. He had gotten away again and the word on the street was that he planned to assemble a gang to take revenge. The FBI had advised us to get out of town for awhile. I had some business in Miami, and Sheila was going to drive to her mother’s house for a week or so.

“Don’t be silly, Paco. It’s just for a few days, until Smedley and his boys from the FBI can stake out the office and pick those guys up. You’re always doing their work for them; let them do what they’re paid to do this time.”

“Yeah, but I don’t like the idea of running away.”

“Oh . . . stuff and nonsense!”

“ ‘Stuff and nonsense?’ You been reading those British mysteries again? Sheila, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, we do the hardboiled stuff. We don’t do country houses and dukes drowned in duck ponds and poisoned scones. I don’t even know what a ‘scone’ is!”

“What makes you think I have time to read British mysteries? And incidentally, a scone is a rich, biscuit-like pastry”. She reached up and straightened the knot in my tie. There wasn’t much she could do about the one in my throat. There was no denying it: I’d miss her.

She looked up at me with those twin aquamarine-tinted windows on her soul. Her eyes grew misty, welling up with tears. Poor kid, I thought. Must be allergies.

“You never told me what this so-called ‘business’ in Miami was about, Paco, but I can read a map. Miami isn’t very far from Cuba. You’re going to try and catch those clowns, yourself, before they leave Florida, aren’t you?”

I couldn’t lie to her. Oh, I can tell whoppers with the best of ‘em. But not to Sheila. Somehow, she just wasn’t the kind of girl you lied to; though maybe I could stretch the truth a little.

“Baby, I don’t even know where those guys are.” Which was true; although Haroun’s House of Hummus was probably a good place to start looking. “I’ll be careful.”

She gave me a weak smile. “Maybe you ought to take Bogan with you.”

I laughed. “Are you kidding? They’d put me off the train before I got to Kissimmee.”

Suddenly, she stood on tiptoe and gave me a peck on the cheek.

I must have looked startled, because she said, “Well, you asked for it.”

“Huh?”

“You said ‘kiss me’.”

Like an idiot, I was about to explain that I had named a town in Florida, not invited a bus on the jaw, but I stopped myself in the nick of time. The horn on the train sounded; the Silver Slug was oozing into the station.

As the train stopped, the conductor jumped off. He did the typical AmTrak security check: he eyeballed the passengers quickly to make sure nobody was carrying an AK-47 slung over his shoulder, or cradling a spherical canister with a long fuse and the word ‘BOMB’ stenciled on it. Then he shouted, “Booo-ARD!”

My eyes met Sheila’s one last time. A tear rolled down her cheek. I said what any man would have said at a time like this.

“Better get yourself some antihistamines, dollface.”

To my surprise, she thumped me on the arm – hard – and said, “You’ll miss your train, you big palooka. Better go.”

I climbed aboard and the wheels squealed and the train rolled off into the night. I stood for a moment in the vestibule of the last car, staring out the back window at Sheila’s shapely silhouette, still lingering on the platform. Funny, I thought. I never noticed before that she had allergies.

If You Like Obama, You'll Love His Team

Bill Dyer (a/k/a Beldar) over at Hugh Hewitt's references this article from the Sunday online edition of the Financial Times, which points out some of Obama's likely choices for cabinet positions.

How do you like this, America? Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. John Kerry as Secretary of State. Hagel, for those who don't know, is a nominally Republican senator from Nebraska who fought against Bush's every move in Iraq, including the surge, and who was once considered to be in the running as Obama's VP - i.e., he's a moron's moron. John "Lucky Hat" Kerry needs no introduction.

If this happens, I will have to borrow from The One, Himself, when he was busy throwing some of his shady associates under the bus: "This is not the America I knew." In fact, I wonder if a President Obama wouldn't, in effect, be throwing us all under the bus.

Update: Hey, thanks a lot, Mike.

Update II: Associations matter. For example, Obama couldn't get clearance to be his own bodyguard.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Burp!

I guess helping your husband run for president really causes you to work up a big appetite.

I wonder what Joe the Plumber had for dinner tonight?





Update: Go Cornhuskers!

Scrappleface Endorses Obama

Sort of (H/T: Captain Heinrichs). This dovetails nicely with my heartfelt wish that Obama's next memoir is entitled, How My Loss in the 2008 Presidential Election Led Me to Find Inner Peace as an Arugula Farmer in New Mexico.

And lest you forget...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friendly Debate

Ace details what happens when you try to exercise free speech in New York. Looks like it's time for a new poster...



Hey, kids! You can make your own Obama poster by going here.

Update: Go, granny, go! (H/T: Cold Fury)

Update II: You know things are getting scary when Iowahawk writes a dead serious post.

Update III: Rich, red meat from Rachel Lucas.

Vichy Conservatives

I was mulling over the possibility of writing something about the odd phenomenon of conservative pundits who would have us believe that they’re somehow helping the cause of “true” conservatism by doing their level best to pave the way to victory for the most left-wing Democratic presidential candidate in history - very possibly in conjunction with a filibuster-proof Democratic congress – when I came across this item from somebody who says it a lot better than I could.

For the record, I’m not knocking people who criticize McCain or Palin for valid reasons (and by “valid”, I mean clearly articulated and logical, not that I necessarily have to agree with them); I’m talking about the Chris Buckleys, the David Brooks’s, the Peggy Noonans, et al, whose real objections are clearly, as “Tacitus” in the linked editorial points out, based on matters of style rather than substance, but who think that their hick readers won’t actually be able to find the pea under the shell. And I also share the author’s disgust with their preening, melodramatic displays of martyrdom: just a bunch of missionaries stewing stoically in a pot, more sad than censorious, lamenting their flock’s relapse into cannibalism. It looks like we may not only wind up having to take America back from the Democrats, but conservatism back from its self-appointed expositors.

As Trump might say, “Peggy Noonan: You’re. Fired.” Read the article.

Oh, and by the way; the press is really going after Joe the Plumber for having the stones to ask a question to The One, and expressing dissatisfaction with his answer. We should each of us, in his own way, show solidarity with Joe...



"I am Spartacus!"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Obamanomics Made Simple

Happy Feet Friday

Tommy Dorsey and his band give a joyous rendition of “Hawaiian War Chant”, featuring some fabulous work by Ziggy Elman on trumpet and Buddy Rich on drums (from 1942; toward the end, you get an eyeful of the dancer Eleanor Powell, who, for my money, had the best-looking pins in Hollywood).




Hey, today only: two for the price of one! Speaking of Eleanor Powell, here she is in a dance routine from the early '40's; the first minute is a solid big band boogie-woogie blowout (and again, what a great set of gams she had).

Assortment

1) I was intending to put up something like this, myself, but Moonbattery beat me to it.

2) Iceberg, Tip Of: Via Currency Lad, the shape of things to come.

3) Everybody’s heard about Joe the Plumber’s exchange with Obama by now, and how absolutely devastating Joe’s simple, but spot on, comment was in highlighting The One’s knee-jerk socialistic tendencies - or, if you’re feeling charitable, his “economic illiteracy” (BTW, if you haven’t met Joe, here he is) . How seriously is the Obama campaign treating the Joe factor? This seriously:



4) Afraid the first endorsement might not have taken, Fidel Castro endorses Obama again (incidentally, the linked article has some interesting information on a few of Jeremiah Wright's Cuban friends).

Update: Quote of the day from Instapundit: "They've done more investigations into Joe the Plumber in 24 hours than they've done on Barack Obama in two years".

Son of Update: Plumbers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your...er...clogged drains.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



Patrick O’Brian, George MacDonald Fraser and Bernard Cornwell are far too well known for me to praise their novels here; they are masters of historical fiction and I doubt that I could say anything about them that wouldn’t be completely obvious to my readers. It would just be a case of gilding the lily.

So I wanted to highlight a few other writers in the genre, all of them well-known, although the particular novels I’m going to mention may not be.

1) Barnaby Rudge, by Charles Dickens, is one of two historical novels that the author wrote (the other being A Tale of Two Cities). The book is a brilliant fictional reconstruction of the anti-Catholic riots that broke out in London in 1780, largely as the result of the mad Protestant fanatic and rabble-rouser, Lord George Gordon, who whipped the mob into a frenzy over the Pappists Act of 1778 (the Act had been an effort by Parliament to remove some of the more onerous restrictions that had burdened English Catholics for many years). During the riots two prisons were attacked and essentially destroyed, Catholic homes and the chapels of several foreign embassies were burned, as was the home of Lord Chief Justice William Murray. The riots continued for five nightmarish days, until the army was finally called out and given orders to shoot. Hundreds of people died in the riots and millions of dollars of property damage was done.

The novel is filled with plots and subplots, the obligatory love story, and an extremely unusual character in Grip the raven (the inspiration for Edgar Allen Poe’s most famous poem). Dickens does his usual masterful job at drawing interesting, believable characters, and he lavishes attention on the minor ones as well as the major. At 636 pages (Oxford Illustrated Classics edition), the novel is not the kind of thing you race through just to see what happened; but for those who have the patience to approach the book as an entry into another world and way of life, and to absorb the rich period detail, the excellent characterizations and the accurately-described history, it is well worth the trip.

2) Quentin Durward is, in my opinion, one of Sir Walter Scott’s most interesting novels. Scott was a gifted writer of historical fiction, possessing a genius at bringing to life many of the great actors who swaggered across the world stage. The hero of the title is a young man who leaves Scotland to enter service with a company of Scottish archers in the employ of King Louis XI of France, and the novel follows his adventures against the backdrop of the great rivalry between King Louis – known to history as the “Spider King” – and the appropriately-named Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. Charles was the nominal vassal of King Louis, but he was an extremely ambitious man whose duchy was, for a time, mightier than the kingdom of his overlord. Louis was a monarch of incredible cunning, mixed with an almost laughable degree of superstition. The character sketches of the two rivals are brilliantly imagined by Scott, and are among his greatest creations, and there are, as with most 19th century novels, numerous interesting subplots (for example, Scott gives us a fascinating picture of the gypsies of the period, and their sad lot under the reign of the brutal Louis). Note: Sir Walter was much given to writing very long introductions to his novels; while I usually plow through these things myself, they can be skipped with no loss of understanding and appreciation of the stories.

3) C.S. Forrester is best known as the author of the outstanding Hornblower series, although he also wrote other distinguished fiction (including The African Queen, and a first-rate crime novel called Payment Deferred, which was made into a movie in 1932 starring Charles Laughton – I highly recommend both the book and the movie, in that order).

In Rifleman Dodd (published as Death to the French, in England), Forrester gives a picture of the land-based war against Napoleon, but in miniature. The hero, Matthew Dodd, is a soldier fighting in the Peninsular War who gets trapped behind enemy lines, and the book is the exciting story of his fight for survival and his hair-raising attempts to get back to his company. Along the way, he acts as a sort of one-man army, wreaking havoc among French forces. He succeeds, and the conclusion is a touching picture of the regular soldier, thrilled above all to be back among his mates, and firmly convinced that his heroics were simply part of the job.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Christopher Buckley Endorses Obama, Get’s Head-Start on “Change”

Christopher Buckley has either been fired from National Review, or he quit, it’s not quite clear to me which. Allahpundit seems not to think too much of the idea, although, as usual (God bless him) he tries to have it ever which way. I’m rather closer to Ace’s view: “And frankly, I just don't believe that any sort of conservative would actually endorse a radical and socialist. So it seems to me a rather important qualification for an NR gig -- actually being a conservative -- is unmet here.” [Note: I disagree with Ace’s opinion that Buckley’s novel, Wet Work, is a “lame thriller”; I think it’s very good].

I’ve read Buckley’s endorsement of Obama, and the whole thing seems to boil down to this: I don’t agree with Obama’s politics, but he’s lying anyway, so why worry, and besides, he’s wearing the old school tie. Oh, and the memoirs; Buckley was fetched by Obama’s memoirs. Well, Chris, you know a President who wrote some highly regarded memoirs? Ulysses S. Grant, whose two terms in office pretty much set the standard with respect to corruption for decades.

If for no other reason than sloppy logic, I think NR’s certainly within its rights. Incidentally, an update to the Hot Air link above offers NR’s official position on the subject, and indicates that Buckley was just filling in for Mark Steyn, anyway.

The only thing that makes this at all newsworthy is the fact that Christopher’s father was the founder of NR; however, William F. Buckley, Jr., took principled stands on several occasions when it came to reading people out of the conservative movement – the John Birchers, Ayne Rand – and he expunged several writers and editors from the masthead of his magazine over the years for ideological reasons – Max Eastman and Joseph Sobran come immediately to mind. Also, as Ace points out, Ann Coulter was fired from NR after her first essay.

I think it was Bill Buckley, himself, who once said that, in a free society, voluntary organizations have the right to create their own mission and define the terms of membership. Words of wisdom. Besides, maybe Christopher can get a job with The Atlantic; God knows, political apostasy notwithstanding, he’d be an improvement over anybody they’ve got.

Yumpin' Yimminy! It's Krugman!

Meeting of the Nobel Prize Committee for Economics; sitting around an IKEA card table, in the Nobel Prize Headquarters of the Swedish Royal Academy, situated one flight up over the King Gustavus Adolphus Pastry Shop, are the four committee members: Olov, Bengt, Erik and Sigvard. Olov and Bengt are smoking ornate porcelain oom-pah pipes, Erik is chewing on a dry-cured Sumatran cigar, and Sigvard – a non-smoker – is simply rubbing his eyes and attempting to suppress a strong desire to cough.

Olov: I tell yew, boyss, de Literary Committee really stepped in de reindeer pewp dis time, tellink de Americans dat dere noffle writers are yust a bunch of hayseeds hew need not apply.

Bengt ( who is also a director on the board of Volvo, and is nervously puffing little Cheerio-sized smoke rings from the side of his mouth): By golly, yew said a mout-ful, Olov! A lot a’ dem American noffelists are Volvo customers – or dey yewzed to be, anyvay – an’ exports fall off mebbe ten, fifteen percent next yahr, I betcha!

Erik: Vell, vhat about dis, boyss? How ‘bout ve gib de Economics avard tew an American, dis yahr? Mebbe sqvare tinks vit dem?

(General murmur of assent)

Erik: Hmm…Let’s see, now. Vhat about dis Valter Villiams guy? Ve ain’t niver gib de avard tew no black feller, before.

Olov: Bah! Dot’s no gewd, Erik. Villiams is a conservative.

Bengt: Vhat about dat guy hew writes doze economics columns fer de New Yurk Times? By yimminy, dere’s a reliable Boosh-basher fer yew!

Sigvard (Having thrown his head back to place some Vizine in his eyes, he speaks softly – by all appearances, directing his question to the chandelier): Yew mean Marine Dawd?

Erik: Ach! Dunt be such a bewby, Sigvard! Marine Dawd’s not an economist. She’s…she’s…vell, by grannies, I dunt know vhat she is, ‘zactly, but she ain’t no economist, no sirree!

Bengt: I got it, fellers! Paul Krugman!

(More murmurs of agreement)

Erik: Okey-doke, den, yentlemen. Er…by de vay; does anybody know vhat kinda shtuff he’s written at de academic level? Ve can’t openly gib him de avard based yust on his newspaper columns; I mean, dey mostly been wrong.

(Erik looked at Olov. Olov looked at Bengt. Bengt looked at Sigvard . Sigvard was still looking at the ceiling – hacking loudly, as his eye-drops had accidentally gone down his throat. All of them shook their heads in the negative)

Olov: I tell yew vhat I do, boyss. I google Krugman, and find sometink dat he wrote fer vun a’ dem academic qvarterlies, and ve put dat down on de plaque. How’s about dat?

(A boisterous round of cheers, interspersed with “by yimminies” and “tank Gud’s”, as the committee members adjourn for princesse tortes and coffee at the pastry shop.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

You Gotta Be Kiddin' Me!

Ace says that, in the movie Dirty Tricks, Annette Benning is going to play the role of Helen Thomas. This is the most ridiculous casting I've ever heard of. It's like casting Scarlett Johansson as Seabiscuit. No. No, it isn't; it's worse. It's like...it's like...it's like casting Annette Benning as Helen Thomas.In case you don't know, this is Annette Benning...




And this is Helen Thomas...



...


"Mmmmm...tanna leaves!"

Sweden Declares War on U.S.

Paul Krugman wins Nobel Prize in Economics. Krugman, a columnist for the New York Times, has been wrong so often that Donald Luskin created a truth squad to call him on his BS ( see here for the truth squad archives).

Jules Crittenden has more.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Detective Paco Rerun - At Machado's

It was the end of a long week for Sheila and me, and, as the Romans might have said, all roads lead to Machado’s.

The door was opened briskly by a retired boxer – Hamfist Harry – who was dressed in what appeared to be the uniform of a Honduran field marshal. We went up to the maitre’d’s station and were greeted by Joe “Kneecap” Weiss. Joe’s previous occupation - I’ll call it bad debts negotiator - while perfectly suited to his muscle-bound frame and deceptively ferocious appearance, was abhorrent to his basically kind and indolent nature. Tony Machado had given him a job as a table scout and Joe was taking it seriously. Too seriously. Apparently he was under the impression that maitre’d’s were all French, and so he had tried hard to acquire a patina of “class”.

“Bone swah, messue et madamoyzell” (He was inordinately proud that he knew the difference between “madamoyzell” and “muhdamn”). “And where would yez like to park yezselfs tonight?” Joe gave me a quick smile, before dismissing me entirely for the purpose of staring worshipfully at Sheila. Whenever he saw her, he was like an ox contemplating a golden angel who had appeared out of nowhere, miraculously, to pull the plug on the butcher’s electric hammer.

She gave him the smile that tied a thousand tongues, and patted him lightly on the arm. She had always had a way with animals.

“No table tonight, Joe. We’re just going in to the bar for a couple of drinks.”

“Ok, Miss Sheila.” And he bowed her out of his domain, like Essex handing Elizabeth into the royal coach. Actually, more like a gorilla who’s just spotted a banana on the ground. But you get the idea.

We climbed aboard the leather-upholstered bar stools and ordered our drinks (Sheila had a glass of Drambuie. I ordered a scotch and soda on the rocks, but told the barkeep to hold the soda. And the rocks, too, while he was at it).

Just as we were getting on the outside of our drinks, a fellow of what’s known as “Middle Eastern” appearance took a seat on the other side of Sheila. Sheila suddenly sat bolt upright and gasped. The newcomer looked at me from behind Sheila and smiled.

Farouk!.

“Ha! Detective Paco, nazrani pig! Now I have you and your dhimmi whore both! I am holding a knife at her back, Paco – the sword, or rather, the pocketknife of justice - and you are going to watch her die, and then you are going to die!”

I looked directly into Sheila’s eyes. “You ok, baby?”

She was scared, but she was game. “I’ve suddenly developed a sharp pain in my lower back, but yeah, other than that, I’m just dandy.”

I looked back at Farouk. He had obviously tried to “blend in” with what he took to be the nightclub scene, but must have gotten his notions of fancy dress from somebody’s 30-year old home movies of the senior prom. He was wearing a blue velour tuxedo with a clip-on red tie, and black patent-leather shoes. He looked like a melodramatic guy who would want to draw things out. I decided to play for time. I took a cigarette out of the pack on the bar and perched it on my lower lip.

“Well, Farouk, long time no see. So you didn’t like the tropics, eh? How did you get away from Guantanamo this time?” I pretended to pat myself down for matches.

“It was simple to get away, dog of an unbeliever. In the morning, when we were out picking chickpeas for the daily ration of hummus, I slipped through a hole in the fence, stole a 1954 Hudson, and paddled to Key West. There, my brothers concealed me. And now I have made my way here. Just to see you.”

I gave him a resigned smile. “Well, now, looks like you’ve got us dead to rights. But your Allah is a compassionate god, right? He wouldn’t begrudge me a last smoke, would he?”

He grinned malevolently. “A last smoke? Sure, Paco. Maybe a blindfold, too, huh?”

“No, just the smoke will do.” I began to reach toward my inside coat pocket, when Sheila gave a little jump.

“No tricks, Paco!” Farouk muttered.

“Relax, Farouk. I can’t find any matches and I just remembered that I’ve got a lighter in my pocket. Don’t worry. I know when I’m beat.”

He eased back on the knife, as Sheila exhaled with momentary relief. And then she gasped again as I filled my hand with a .45 cal. pistol, which I pointed directly at Farouk’s head.

“I’m not likely to miss at this range, Farouk, so unless you want a flat-top down to about nose-level, drop the knife.”

Farouk’s face twisted in indecisive rage, but I had him figured right. He could kill Sheila, but he’d never get me, and that wouldn’t do at all. He’d try his chances another day. He dropped the knife.

Just like in the movies, the cavalry got there after it was all over. Joe came lumbering up.

“What’s goin’ on here, Mr. Paco? Is this punk givin’ yez trouble?”

“Just a little, Joe. Do me a favor. I’m going to call the FBI. Now, I know you’re out of the business, but, for old times’ sake, how’d you like to take this guy out back and give him a little workout while we wait for the Feds? He threatened Sheila’s life, incidentally.”

The faithful old dog’s eyes flared, and his lips curled, and I’d almost swear that he growled.

“Wit’ pleasure, Mr. Paco!”

Ten minutes later, Smedley from the FBI and two of his boys were bundling up a strangely chastened and very much bruised Farouk, and hustling him out of the bar. Sheila and I were left alone.

“Well, Paco, that was a close one. I’m glad you didn’t have to try and shoot him. You might have missed and hit my drink.”

“Wouldn’t have done much damage if I had”. I turned my wrist and pointed the barrel of the .45 at the end of my cigarette, pulled the trigger – and drew deeply as a little flame popped out of the barrel’s “front sight”. Sheila’s baby-blues rounded in shock. “Eddie! Bring me another Drambuie! And leave the bottle!”

Adjutorium Nostrum in Nomine Domini

One of our nieces (the youngest daughter of Mrs. Paco’s eldest sister) took her final vows as a nun in the Carmelite Order in Chile. We watched a DVD of the mass, and it was a beautiful ceremony. And I must say, I would be extremely hard pressed to name another occasion in my lifetime when I have seen anyone whose countenance was so radiant with happiness and spiritual peace as that of this young woman. God bless her.

Days of Rage

Obamaniacs are claiming that Republicans at McCain's rallies are getting scary, demonstrating insane rage. Er, compared to whom, exactly?

Forum

This is not a postmortem, because, as Jules Crittenden has written, “The tea-leaf readers still haven’t polled the one person in America who knows which way this thing is really going. You know her. We all know her. Gore and Kerry sure do. She’s the fat lady. The one who, contrary to some reports, doesn’t warble till Election Day.” But I would be interested in hearing readers’ views on What’s Gone Wrong with the McCain Campaign, or whether McCain could really have been expected to come up with anything to clear the enormously high hurdles that have been presented this election year.

1) I think McCain could have run against Obama and won. I even believe that McCain could have run against Obama and the media and won. But having to run against Obama, the media, widespread voter fraud AND an economic crisis, after 8 years of an increasingly unpopular Republican administration around which public frustration has tended to coalesce (rightly or wrongly) may prove to be too much in the end. What could McCain have done differently? What, if anything, can he do now?

2) McCain is being criticized by many people for not attacking Obama’s many dubious past associations until too late in the day. I think it’s clear that McCain is not personally comfortable with partisan attacks, however legitimate they may be - and I think it’s perfectly legitimate to question why Obama, who could have chosen from among many people to work with over the years, almost always chose to ally himself with radicals (Ayers), racist demagogues (Wright) and crooks (Rezko). Is McCain truly making a mistake by not hitting Obama harder, or is he correct in his (apparent) assumption that this strategy will not work to win over undecideds?

3) Whether or not throwing the spotlight on Obama’s old cronies is useful, I believe McCain absolutely has to outline a positive vision of what he plans to do when he becomes President. Advocating low taxes and private sector solutions is great, and I believe he said something at one rally about a top-to-bottom review of all federal government agencies in order to determine which ones to cut back and/or scrap (he certainly ought to give this more air play). On foreign policy, I believe he’s been pretty articulate. What else do you think he should address?

4) There has been a lot of debate in blogdom about whether or not this is “the most important election in our lifetime”, whether this is a “transformative election”, etc. I tend to think it is not as important as the last one. In 2004, our efforts in Iraq had bogged down, we were almost two years away from the surge, and a Kerry victory promised to mean a premature withdrawal of our forces and a military and foreign policy disaster. Bush’s victory ultimately made the surge possible, led to the destruction of Al Qaeda as a significant military enterprise, and provided the breathing room necessary to give the Iraqis a chance to get their political house in order. An Obama victory could still do harm in Iraq, but a Democratic victory four years ago would, in my opinion, have been devastating.

Nonetheless, if Obama wins, there is obviously cause for concern. Do you think the greatest danger lies in his ignorance of a sound military and foreign policy vision, or in the possible threat to domestic freedoms by virtue of the Democrats’ increasingly cynical disregard for freedom of speech, and their open support for voter fraud? Or is the biggest danger going to be the usual Democratic tendency toward idiotic fiscal policy and unsustainable entitlements programs?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Anything to This, Or Just Nutty Speculation?

Rumors about whether or not Obama is a native-born American have been floating around for some time, and even several conservative bloggers have claimed that the story's been debunked. I admit, I never followed the issue closely. But the guy in the video seems to make some valid points, especially about how Obama's refusal to release a number of personal records may be connected to this matter. And I'm wondering about something: what happens if he's elected and it subsequently transpires that he really wasn't eligible to run for the presidency? Does everybody just look the other way? Can you imagine the reaction if an attempt is made to remove him from office?

Color me skeptical, but curious.

Emergency Update! - Oh, Lord! Somebody with expertise in election law please help me here. If this turns out to be true and we don't find out about it until after the election, does it mean we automatically wind up with Joe Hair Plugs as President?

Update II: Some honest Democrats talk about Obama skullduggery in the Democratic caucuses.

Update III: Chicago-style politics is no longer just a bad joke.

Update IV: Congress-twit John Lewis makes the inevitable comparison between John McCain and George Wallace. BTW, if memory serves, John Lewis is the priceless ass who once said that so many blacks were thrown off of slave-ships in the old days, that sharks still ply the old slave-trade sea routes.

Last Update: Ok, it looks like the video is the same old jive. Nothing new, nothing credible.

Economic Commentary

Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Obama Says...

A helpful sampling of The One's deep thoughts.

Well, might as well establish the proper mood:



And in New York, an interesting Freudian slip (H/T: Captain Heinrichs).

Update: Christopher Buckley - son of William F., Jr. - has endorsed Obama. Big Lizards responds with a scathing takedown.

Update II: Hollis French, the head of the legislative panel that set out to get Palin, has kind of an ethical problem of his own.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Happy Feet Friday

Latin American music was big in the 1940's, and one of the most popular performers in that style was the Brazilian singer and comic actress, Carmen Miranda. Here she is singing "Rebola a Bola" from the delightful 1941 musical, Weekend in Havana.

A Good Investment

Babalu has some sage advice on where you should be putting your money.

Babbling Brooks

What is it about conservatives who go to work for the New York Times? Do their liberal colleagues put something in the water cooler? Is the prestige of flashing one’s NYT press card so great that the conservative editorialist lives in fear of losing his gig if he strays too far from the NYT’s implicit political mission statement (i.e., All the News that Fits Into Democratic Talking Points)? Is it a case of Stockholm syndrome?

Whatever the reason, the current conservative houseboy at the Times, David Brooks, appears to have fallen in fairly quickly with the rules governing the domestic staff. In an interview with The Atlantic (stop me if you don’t already see a problem), Brooks referred to Sarah Palin as a “fatal cancer to the Republican Party”, accusing her of scorning not just liberal ideas, but of being an idea-free candidate.

After taking a sniff at his liberal nosegay to clear the thought of her from his mind, he went on to make some additional astonishing statements.

“The more I follow politicians, the more I think experience matters, the ability to have a template of things in your mind that you can refer to on the spot, because believe me, once in office there’s no time to think or make decisions [emphasis mine].” Now that’s a comforting thought; the president is supposed to have a mental template – I suppose with automatic default features – so that he doesn’t have to actually think (of course, if the occupant of the White House doesn't have time to think or make decisions, just exactly what is it he's doing in there?). But what if the template is faulty? How about if it hasn’t been updated for years? I always thought that the value of experience was its usefulness in teaching us how to think, not how to respond with canned comments like a talking Ken doll. And if this template, based on experience, is of paramount importance, what do we make of poor Joe Biden, about whom, to continue Brooks’ technology analogy, I believe we’re justified in saying that his hard drive has obviously crashed?

Well, here is what Brooks makes of Joe: “He is anything but a ‘yes’ man. [Biden] can’t not say what he thinks. There’s no internal monitor, and for Barack Obama, that’s tremendously important to have a vice president who will be that way.” Ok, hold on a minute; I’m getting dizzy. It’s important to have a mental template so that you can avoid the time-consuming exercise of thinking, unless you’re Joe Biden, who doesn’t have an internal monitor, and who should be encouraged to think (with what, may I ask?).

With respect to Obama, Brooks finds him to be “a very mediocre senator”, but surrounded by “the most impressive people in the Democratic party.” Since he doesn’t name these magnificoes, I can’t render an opinion on their impressiveness; however, maybe it doesn’t matter, because Obama has “the great intellect.” This might strike some of us as a dubious assertion, given that the senator seems to be unable to string coherent sentences together without a teleprompter, and that he hasn’t disclosed any details on his academic achievements (i.e., his GPA’s in college and law school). The basis for Brooks’ comment seems to be limited to one incident: Brooks once asked Obama if he was familiar with Reinhold Niebuhr, and Obama gave a 20-minute summary of the theologian’s worldview – according to Brooks, “a very subtle thought process based on the idea that you have to use power while it corrupts you.” Frankly, I profess myself to be completely unsurprised that Obama would be conversant with the idea that power and corruption tend to be connected, or that he would have some knowledge of those who have cogitated upon the subject. But so great was the wonder of Brooks thereat, that he “felt the tingle up my knee as Chris Matthews would say.” Well, sorry to throw a wet blanket over your misfiring neurons, Mr. Brooks, but you know who else claimed to be a Reinhold Niebuhr fan? Jimmy Carter.

Obama’s intellect may leave Brooks’ leg thrashing like that of a dog getting a belly rub, but the senator’s “tremendous powers of social perception” practically give our intrepid reporter a case of the vapors. “A couple of years ago, I was writing columns attacking the Republican congress for spending too much money. And I throw in a few sentences attacking the Democrats to make myself feel better. And one morning I get an email from Obama [He knows who I am! *Sigh* - P.] saying, ‘David [He called me David!], if you want to attack us, fine, but you’re only throwing in those sentences to make yourself feel better.’ And it was a perfect description of what was going through my mind. And everybody who knows Obama all have these stories to tell about his capacity for social perception.” I bet they do! Why, I’ll wager that when Obama first met William Ayers, he said something like, “You probably want me to engage in radicalizing our community under the cover of education reform. Count me out!” And five minutes into the first sermon he ever heard Jeremiah Wright preach, I can imagine him nudging Michelle and whispering, “Let’s get out of here; this guy’s a nut-log.”

Brooks represents the worst of inside-the-beltway sophistry, where lofty talk about ideas quickly degenerates into “Gawrsh!-How’d-he-do-that?” admiration for the successful demonstration of intellectual prestidigitation, for gaudy frauds, for slick, but ultimately harmful, gamesmanship.

I deny that Sarah Palin is the Republican’s “fatal cancer”; however, I think it highly likely that David Brooks is, at least, its amoebic dysentery.

Update: Here's something from a fellow Brooks critic.