Wednesday, December 31, 2008

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



For those whose knowledge of P.G. Wodehouse is limited to Bertie Wooster and Jeeves – and perhaps to Lord Emsworth and the Blandings Castle crowd – it’s time to further expand your acquaintance by getting to know Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, the subject of some 19 short stories and one novel. Ukridge made his first appearance in the novel Love Among the Chickens; I have not read that book yet, but from what I know of it, Ukridge’s character appears in a somewhat different light than in the short stories (plus, in the novel, he is married, whereas in the short stories he is a bachelor with a roving eye). So, be mindful of the fact that it is the short stories of which I now write, and it is in them that we truly come to grips with the genuine Ukridge – schemer, would-be entrepreneur, big-idea man (if nothing else, it should be apparent why he would appeal to the founder of Paco Enterprises).

The stories are narrated by Ukridge’s friend, Jimmy Corcoran, who plays a sort of bemused Boswell to the towering, ambitious schemer, who is usually seen wearing an old yellow MacIntosh, his pince-nez held together with wire from a bottle of ginger beer. Allow him to introduce himself, from the first short story in the series, “Ukridge’s Dog College”:

- “Laddie,” said Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, that much-enduring man, helping himself to my tobacco and slipping the pouch absently into his pocket, “Listen to me, you son of Belial.”

“What?” I said, retrieving the pouch.

“Do you want to make an enormous fortune?”

“I do.”

“Then write my biography. Bung it down on paper, and we’ll split the proceeds. I’ve been making a pretty close study of your stuff lately, old horse, and it’s all wrong. The trouble with you is that you don’t plumb the well-springs of human nature and all that. You just think up some rotten yarn about some-dam-thing-or-other and shove it down. Now, if you tackled my life, you’d have something worth writing about. Pots of money in it, my boy – English serial rights and American serial rights and book rights, and dramatic rights and movie rights – well, you can take it from me that, at a conservative estimate, we should clean up at least fifty thousand pounds apiece.”

“As much as that?”

“Fully that. And listen, laddie, I’ll tell you what. You’re a good chap and we’ve been pals for years, so I’ll let you have my share of the English serial rights for a hundred pounds down.”

“What makes you think I’ve got a hundred pounds?”

“Well, then, I’ll make it my share of the English and American serial rights for fifty.”

“Your collar’s come off its stud.”

“How about my complete share of the whole dashed outfit for twenty-five?”

“Not for me, thanks.”

“Then I’ll tell you what, old horse,” said Ukridge, inspired. “Just lend me half a crown to be going on with.” -

Ukridge proceeds from one fantastic scheme to another, from founding a dog college to promoting a taciturn pugilist, billed as Battling Billson, whose utterances are primarily limited to ‘R!’ Three of the stories pertain to the career of Battling Billson, and there is a scene in the first of these (“The Debut of Battling Billson”) that never fails to make me laugh ‘til I cry. Middle-weight champion Tod Bingham is going around the east-end halls and theaters offering two hundred quid to anyone who can go four rounds with him. Ukridge plans to spring Billson on him. The night of Billson’s debut – in the Shoreditch Empire, a rough-and-tumble music hall that has attracted a noisy throng of tough customers eager to see a fight – Bingham fails to show because he’s been in an automobile accident. The emcee is forced to substitute, in place of the blood-letting entertainment the mob was expecting, something distinctly less impressive:

- “I beg to announce that ‘is place will be taken by Professor Devine, who will render ‘is marvelous imitations of various birds and familiar animals. Ladies and gentlemen,” concluded the ambassador, steeping nimbly off the stage, “I thank you one and all.”

The curtain rose and a dapper individual with a waxed moustache skipped on.

“Ladies and gentlemen, my first imitation will be of that well-known songster, the common thrush – better known to some of you per’aps as the throstle. And in connection with my performance I wish to state that I ‘ave nothing whatsoever in my mouth. The effects which I produce –“

I withdrew, and two-thirds of the audience did the same. From behind us, dying away as the doors closed, came the plaintive note of the common thrush feebly competing with that other and sterner bird which haunts those places of entertainment where audiences are critical and swift to take offense. –

It was, of course, one of Wodehouse’s inspirations to constantly juxtapose wildly different people in improbable situations – in this case, for example, a crowd of disappointed East-end rowdies and a professional bird imitator – thus enabling him to create the most enduring farces in the English language. If you haven’t dipped into the Ukridge stories before now, treat yourself without further delay!

Happy New Year!



Let’s start it off right with some good news.

1) An important victory for free speech on campus (H/T: Robert Stacy “The Other” McCain).

2) The political success of Kennedys is not always inevitable.

3) We’re still here, the prognostications of climate alarmists notwithstanding (H/T: Tiger Hawk ).

4) Gina Elise has a new pinup calendar (Woof!).

5) My blogfather, Tim Blair, is still goin’ strong.

6) Why wait until the news happens? Let’s invent some headlines for 2009 now:

Jesus Returns, Proclaims Second Coming; Iranian Students Burn Danish Embassy in Protest

7) I am currently negotiating with the estate of a recently-deceased Cuban exile for the purchase of what I’ve been told are unpublished fragments from Che Guevara’s diary of his activities in the Congo. It is my fond hope to be able to present these important historical documents to the world sometime over the coming months. I am also pleased to announce that I discovered another page or two from the secret Bolivian diary in the old canvas pouch which yielded the earlier entries published by Paco Enterprises back in May of this year.

Thanks to all my friends out there who tune in, whether daily or just every once in a while, to visit my humble blog. I hope you will continue to find things here to entertain, instruct or, perhaps, simply distract you as we enter what is sure to be an unusually crazy year. Best wishes from Casa Paco to all of you! And remember: if you drink, don’t drive; you may hit a pothole and spill your drink. And please continue to patronize our sponsor:

Hey, Republicans Have Found Their Pitchman!

Further comment from me would be superfluous.

(H/T: Exurban League)

The New and Improved Democratic Party (Now With Self-Cleaning Option)

Blagojevich leaves another flaming bag of poop on the doorstep of the Democratic Party, as he appoints a successor to Barack Obama’s senate seat, pretty much in opposition to everyone’s wishes. Harry Reid has vowed not to seat Roland Burris, but his grounds for refusing to do so are somewhat dubious from a legal point of view. Me? I’m just enjoying the whole great, gaudy spectacle (the Democratic Party starring in : King of Hearts II).

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

T-i-m-b...

More great nature photography from Are We Lumberjacks?

Update: And more beavers in the news.

Hmm; I've Never Heard it Called That Before

"An Australian MP, Fred Nile, wants to ban topless bathing in order to protect muslims. Mr. Nile stated that topless bathing risked 'raising the ire of Muslim men'."

I guess if you're going to pick a euphemism to apply to the angry Muslim's male member, "ire" really does work better than "Mr. Happy."

(H/T: Hot Air)

Man's Inhumanity to Man

When people lose their humanity, the appropriate analogy is not to animals, but to diabolism. Shin Dong-hyuk, one of the few prisoners ever to have escaped from a North Korean labor camp, tells of a highlight of his captivity: “He once found three kernels of corn in a pile of cow dung, he writes. He picked them out, cleaned them off on his sleeve and ate them. ‘As miserable as it may seem, that was my lucky day.'”

Read it and weep.

Also, I note that the Castro brothers are preparing to celebrate their golden anniversary. I'd like to send them something to mark the occasion. Maybe a couple of neckties...



Try 'em on for size, boys!"

Famous Blockade Runners

The Advance


The Colonel Lamb


The Robert E. Lee


And, of course, the Dignity


Blockade runner, Dignity, under commodore Dennis Healey, and wacky supercargo Cynthia McKinney (attired in authentic Blackbeard the Pirate fright wig), attempted to run into Gaza, but were rammed by Israeli gunboats.

No offense intended to the Israeli Navy, but guys, this is how it’s done:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Operators Are Standing By!

Rahm Emanuel is resigning from his congressional seat this Friday.



“I know what you’re thinking; you’d expect to pay $50,000, $100,000, up to $200,000 for a congressional district of this quality! But you’re wrong! We can let you have Rahm Emanuel’s congressional seat for only $19.95! How do we do it? We purchase congressional and senate seats wholesale so we can pass the savings on to you! Order today and we’ll double the number of congressional seats! You still pay only $19.95!”

(Not available in stores; credit card, check or money order only; no C.O.D., please; allow four to six weeks for delivery; shipping and handling charge of $35,000 per order; if not satisfied, will refund purchase price, less shipping and handling).

Fatuity Index: High

There is probably nothing more outrageously stupid than those arguments which condemn Israel for the “disproportionate” nature of its attacks on Hamas in Gaza. Hamas, along with its Iranian masters, is dedicated to the extermination of Israel. These terrorists have lobbed thousands of missiles into Israel. They purposely place their military installations in residential areas. And they’ve tried to prevent the wounded from getting help from Egyptian medical personnel. Presumably, the western shills for Palestinian statehood (and good luck with that, incidentally, considering that there are at least two Palestinian factions at each other’s throats) would also argue that a proportionate response to the destruction of the Trade Towers in New York would have been to fly an airplane into the tallest building in Kabul.

No, geniuses, the proper approach to a rabid dog is not to say “bad doggie” and swat him on the head with a rolled up copy of the New York Times. The proper approach is…put him down.

Seraphic Secret has some good commentary on the subject, plus a roundup of links.

Chris Matthews and the Effects of Cognitive Dissonance

What’s going to happen if Chris “Tingle-Leg” Matthews ever gets angry with Obama? I imagine that it will look something like this:

Reach for the Sky, Capitalist Dogs!

The Bolsheviks claimed to be apostles of Marx, but their real model seems to have been Jesse James.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Assortment

1) My Detroit Lions set impressive new record.

2) Hamas’ ingenious plan? Goad Israel into attacking and then just sit back until other Arab states come running to the rescue. Slight problem: other Arab states think Hamas brought it on themselves.

3) Jamie Lee Curtis thinks hard times will draw us peons closer together (H/T: Ed Driscoll and Dirty Harry).

4) More good scoop on Che Guevara’s incompetence as a military strategist (H/T: Babalu).

5) Bill Dyer, a/k/a/ Beldar, discusses the inside baseball of Dan Rather’s suit against CBS. It’s one of those situations where you can feel good about cheering against both teams.

All Clear



Good nooz! De President-Elect's transition team jus' cleared itself of any wrongdoin' wid dat Blagojevich crumb, after a lengt'y investigation of itself. Now yez can all settle down an' not have ta worry about nothin', 'cuz, as youse can see unless yer some kinda blind chump, everyting is on de up an' up.

A Stroll in the Park

The environs of the secret Paco Command Center have assumed the taupe, gray and sepia colors of winter, but the balmy temperature today made for an enjoyable walk for the missus and me (and Mabel, the official dog of Paco Enterprises).







The area is alive with deer and foxes, both of which I’ve seen crossing Barkley Road early in the morning on my way to work. And something’s been skittering around on my roof in the predawn hours (at least, I hope it’s the roof, and not the attic).

Back to work tomorrow, unfortunately. On the other hand, it’s just a three-day work-week for me; I get Jan. 1st off, of course, and I’m taking the second off, as well, since it will be our 31st wedding anniversary. Now, which one is that? Not silver; not gold. Kevlar, possibly?

Claustrophobia

Tsk-tsk. Not even technically president yet, and Barack Obama is already feeling the walls closing in. If privacy had really been that important to you, mister, politics was probably a pretty dumb career path. My building is just across the park from the White House; I'll be listening for the primal scream.

Sunday Funny

Irish Bank Robbery

An armed and hooded robber bursts into the Bank of Ireland and forces the tellers to load a sack full of cash.

On his way out the door with the loot, one brave Irish customer grabs the hood and pulls it off revealing the robber's face. The robber shoots the guy in the head without hesitation!

He then looks around the bank to see if anyone else has seen him. One of the tellers is looking straight at him and the robber walks over and calmly shoots him in the head also.

Everyone by now is very scared and looking down at the floor.

"Did anyone else see my face?" calls the robber.

There are a few moments of silence; then one elderly Irish gent, looking down, says: "I think my wife may have caught a glimpse..."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Year’s Resolutions…For Other People

I can never manage to keep my own New Year’s resolutions, so I thought I’d prescribe some for a few of the world’s noteworthy folks who could definitely use a change – if not for their own good, then for the good of others.

1) Robert Mugabe - I believe you’re still a nominal Catholic. Confess your sins and pray that you die before you can commit any more. Your poor country has suffered enough at your hands, and you, and your nation, would be greatly improved by your death.

2) Kim Jong-Il – Except for being Catholic, ditto.

3) Raul Castro – You’re not a complete idiot. I have this vision of you picking up something by Milton Friedman one day, reading it straight through, and shouting “Eureka!”, after which you will tip-toe into your brother’s room, smother him with a pillow, and then declare an end to the obscenity of the Marxist state in Cuba. No time like the present, old fellow!

4) Ahmadinejad (and the entire government of Iran) – Just stop being militant, triumphalist Muslim a$$holes, already. And try to get it through your thick heads that nothing says “psychopathic morons” like that business of hanging allegedly adulterous women and suspected homosexual men from cranes.

5) Barack Obama – Ignore that groveling press, Mr. President, and whatever you do, don’t believe your own propaganda. In fact, you should emulate the ancient Roman practice of having someone constantly whispering in your ear: “All glory is fleeting, and you’re just an exalted ward-heeler who, in a less shabby age, never would have risen higher than the sewer of Cook County politics”.

6) John McCain – Remember this, John: there’s a point beyond which magnanimity becomes vanity, and goodwill becomes masochism. Nobody’s going to rally around a banner that doesn’t stand for anything but good sportsmanship (especially when even that is directed almost exclusively toward the other team). Conservatives have no desire to continue fielding selectively amicable losers. You ran on the McCain ticket and lost; resolve to govern as a Republican senator for a while, and you might go a long way toward redeeming yourself.

Update: Readers are encouraged to suggest their New Year's resolutions for whatever magnificoes strike their fancy.

Grin and Bear It

Theo has a great instructional video on what to do in the unfortunate event that you encounter a bear in the woods (H/T: Captain Heinrichs); there's some good advice in the comments section, too.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Feet Friday

Largely (and sadly) forgotten today, Amos Milburn was a popular and influential figure on the post-war R&B scene, with his finger-bustin’ Texas boogie-woogie piano style. Here he is playing “Down the Road A Piece” (Note: the gentleman who introduces Milburn is Willie Bryant, a musician and bandleader who hosted a television show in the early ‘50’s that featured live broadcasts of jazz and R&B artists from the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Dang! Where’s the Tardis when I really need it?)

The President-Elect in the Iron Mask

The warder was sitting at a crude wooden table, peeling an apple with his penknife, when there was a knock on the heavy oak door leading to the main section of the prison. “Enter”, he shouted.

The door opened slowly on its ancient iron hinges, filling the room with a sound like the gates of hell on judgment day. A tall, somewhat portly fellow walked into the room, carrying a tray laden with a large, frosted, stainless-steel cup, filled to the brim with pureed arugula and low-fat soy milk. Beside the drink was a pack of Virginia Slim cigarettes and a book of matches.

The warder paused in eating his apple and gave the man a searching look. “You are new here.” It sounded almost like an accusation.

The man attempted a smile, but the gloomy surroundings made it wither on his face. “Yes, sir. I have just entered into service with the prison staff today.”

“You know the rules? You are not to speak to the prisoner, nor are you to take notice of anything he may say. Set his tray down, empty his chamber pot, collect his bed things for washing and call me when you are finished.” The warder rose from his chair, wiped his hands on his leather vest, and unfastened a ring of keys hanging from the rope belt that held up a much-patched and very dirty pair of pantaloons. “Come this way.”

The new man followed the warder down a long, flag-stoned hall, on either side of which were barred cells; all were empty, save for the one at the very end of the passage. The warder unlocked the solid steel door, swung it open, and motioned the prison steward inside. “I will be back, directly. Mind you don’t talk to him” – his face broke into a loathsome grin – “unless you’d like to share his fate.” The warder returned to his station, and the steward entered the cell.

The room was windowless, save for a small shaft cut into the wall of stone and reaching to the outside at an oblique angle. This pitiful little tunnel – the width of a man’s hand – never permitted more than an occasional bit of gray sunlight to pierce the tomb-like cell. The air was fetid with the smell of tallow candles and night soil. The steward gasped on seeing the horrible surroundings, and the sight of the wretched human being quartered there made his shock complete.

Sitting on a three-legged stool, his back against the dripping wall, was the prisoner. He was wearing a t-shirt and spandex shorts, looking for all the world as if he’d been plucked by some demonic hand from a suburban bike path and thrown into a cave. One ankle was manacled and attached by a chain to a metal ring in the wall; the steward estimated that, while the chain gave him the freedom of the cell, it did not permit the prisoner to come within a yard of the door. But the most ghastly aspect of this poor soul was the iron mask that had been clamped upon his head. It appeared to be in two sections, and was fastened together by rivets. There was a hole that permitted him to breathe, and another that allowed him to take nourishment. His eyes, mad with despair, stared out of two holes, each the size of an old half-dollar. From long experience, the prisoner had grown accustomed to being treated with absolute silence from his jailers, so he gave the steward no notice.

The steward, glancing quickly over his shoulder, set the tray on the one wobbly table in the room, ran to the door, pulled it not quite shut, and threw himself at the prisoner’s feet.

“It is me, Sire! David Axelrod!”

The prisoner was slow to comprehend. The absence of human voices had immured him in a silent world of his own, and to be addressed directly was a thing that had fallen almost outside of the ken of his memory. “David…?”

“David Axelrod, Sire! Your trusty retainer!”

The prisoner’s hands reached out slowly, touching Axelrod gently on his shoulders, as if he were half afraid that his visitor was nothing more than a hallucination. But the considerable substance of the well-fed Axelrod quickly convinced the man that he was in the presence of a real person – and one, furthermore, who was a friend. His tortured emotions getting the better of him, the prisoner embraced Axelrod; he sobbed violently for a moment and then managed to collect himself sufficiently to speak.

“David! At last, someone has broken through the wall of my nightmare to let in a sweet draft of reality! David, why am I here?”

“It is my belief, Sire, that shortly after your victory in the election, you were kidnapped by agents of the Clintons.”

“Ah! Yes, it comes back to me now. I was leaving my hotel, and I climbed into the back of a limousine, and I noticed almost immediately that there were no interior door handles. And…and the driver! He was wearing a snake mask!”

“That was no mask, Sire. It was the very face of James Carville, whose physiognomy is like that of a pit viper. He must have arranged with the Clintons to bring you to this terrible place.”

“But why, David?”

“From what I have been able to glean, Majesty, the old Party stalwarts feared what you stood for.”

“But I didn’t stand for anything! Why should they fear that?”

“True enough, Sire; however, the one thing you manifestly didn’t believe in was consolidating the power of Clan Clinton, and no one was strong enough to resist them. They have cunningly planted an imposter in your place. Yet, you must not lose hope. Everywhere, the suspicion grows that the Pretender is not, in fact, you. The discrepancies between his actions and your promises are too great to sustain this fraud much longer.”

“How so, faithful servant?”

“For one thing, his executive appointments. The Clinton puppet has chosen Arne Duncan for Secretary of Education; even many conservatives like him. And…” Axelrod paused, unsure as to whether Obama’s delicate constitution could absorb the shock. He felt, though, that the news had to be relayed. “And then there is the …the choice for Secretary of State.”

“What, then? Have they dared to deny this position to John Kerry?”

“Would that it were only that, Sire! The imposter has picked Hillary Clinton.”

Axelrod stared anxiously at Obama, not knowing whether this news might fell him like a blow from an ax; yet, to his relief, it seemed, rather, to galvanize him, to revive his spirit. Obama rose from his stool, with his fists clenched; the rattling of his chain only served to heighten the sense of a magnificent defiance which not even durance vile could eradicate.

Axelrod spoke quickly, aware that time was running short. “And then, Sire, there are the changes in policy. There is serious talk, now, the import of which is that we will not cut and run from Iraq. The impostor even pays heed to the butcher, Petraeus. And more bad tidings: you remember the Muslim cleric you lined up to give the prayer at your inauguration?”

“My old mullah from the school in Indonesia? What have they done with Yez-vir Khan?”

“He has been deported as an undesirable alien. The protestant evangelist, Rick Warren, has been substituted in his place.”

“Bismillah!”

“But I must fly, Majesty; otherwise I will be caught out and my efforts on your behalf will cease.”

“Stout fellow, David! But tell me one last thing; how did you discover that I was here?”

“In the usual way, Sire. One of our agents lured Bill Clinton into a sexual encounter, and he talked to her in his sleep.”

“Who else knows that I am buried in this fiendish hole?”

“Only I, Majesty.”

Both men were startled by the sound of the cell door being slammed shut. A panel built into the door at eye level was snapped open from the outside, and the hearts of both of the cell’s occupants sank as the revolting face of James Carville materialized. His eyes gleamed with a reptilian iridescence, his thin lips drew taught in an evil smile, and his tongue darted from his mouth once or twice. Carville spoke in that drawl which marked his origins as a creature of the bayous. “Only you, David! And your agent, of course; but we’ve already bought her off with a cushy position at the Democratic National Committee. Well, boys, looks like ya’ll gonna be roommates for quite a spell. We’ll have another cot put in there, and maybe provide you with something to keep you occupied. Ssssee you later – as in 'never'!"

* * *
The prisoners sat at the one wobbly table in the cell over a game of scrabble. Obama accidentally dropped a piece on the floor – the valuable ‘Q’ tile – and as both men bent down simultaneously to pick it up, their respective iron masks collided with a loud *Clank!*.

“I beg your pardon, Sire.”

“You were trying to palm the ‘Q’ again, weren’t you, David?”

“No, Sire, upon my honor.”

“Well, it doesn’t really matter. I can’t use it right now anyway.” Obama studied the board, and finally picked up a ‘Y”, an ‘N’, an ‘E’ and two ‘S’s. He laid them down next to the word “HOPE”, which Axelrod had spelled on his last move.

“’Hopeyness’, Majesty?”

“It is a legitimate word! Of, pertaining to, or having to do with ‘hope’”.

Axelrod emitted a long sigh. “Yes, Sire.”

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



The Christmas story never palls, because there is that spirit, in all of us, that longs for peace and brotherhood, for kindness and charity. Yet it is nonetheless interesting to see how the message of Christianity has been communicated through the ages, and perhaps there are few more intriguing efforts in history than The Heliand, or the Saxon Gospel. No one knows its author, but it is a powerful retelling of the gospels in light of the Germanic warrior culture of northern Europe in the ninth century.

My source is the translation of the Heliand from Old Saxon into modern English by G. Ronald Murphy, S.J. (first published by Oxford University Press in 1992). Epic in tone, and replete with the color of the times, it is a story that competed with Beowulf in the mead halls and in the camps of Saxon warriors, and the chapter headings are charmingly (and, I daresay, sometimes amusingly) suggestive of Saxon society and its interests. Who can fail to be beguiled, even today, by chapter headings such as these: “The Passion Begins: Judas betrays his own chieftain to southern people; Christ washes the feet of His earls and thanes”; or, “The last mead hall feast with the warrior-companions”; or “Christ the chieftain is captured; Peter, the mighty swordsman, defends Him bodily.”

As the translator points out in his introduction, the author is unknown. But “[w]hoever he was”, writes Father Murphy, “he was an enormously gifted religious poet capable of profound intercultural communication. He rewrote and reimagined the events and words of the gospel as if they had taken place and been spoken in his own country and time, in the chieftain society of a defeated people, forcibly Christianized by Charlemagne…By the power of his imagination the unknown poet-monk (perhaps ex-warrior) created a unique cultural synthesis between Christianity and Germanic warrior-society – a synthesis that would ultimately lead to the culture of knighthood and become the foundation of medieval Europe.”

I’ll close, in this Christmas season, with the following description of the birth of Christ from the Heliand:

“At that time it all came to pass, just as wise men had said long ago: that the Protector of People would come in a humble way, by His own power, to visit this kingdom of earth. His mother, that most beautiful woman, took Him, wrapped him in clothes and precious jewels, and then with her two hands laid Him gently, the little man, that child, in a fodder-crib, even though He had the power of God, and was the Chieftain of mankind. There the mother sat in front of Him and remained awake, watching over the holy Child and holding it. And there was no doubt in the mind or in the heart of the holy maid

The Perils of Co-Authorship

Dan Collins at Protein Wisdom links to this hilarious item, which indicates what can happen when two people "collaborate" on a creative assignment.

Season's Greetings From Paco Enterprises



A very merry Christmas to you all, and a happy New Year!

Update: By the way, all I want for Christmas is for the President to pardon agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. Do it, Mr. President. Do it NOW.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Assortment

1) I saw the original 1947 version of Bush Christmas on TCM this evening. The action takes place in Australia, and involves a group of children who run afoul of a trio of horse thieves. For all I know, this may be considered a hackneyed old chestnut of a movie down under, but I thoroughly enjoyed it (the movie was remade in 1983, but I know nothing about that version, except that Nicole Kidman was in it).

2) Speaking of movies, one of my favorite scenes is Rita Hayworth's first appearance in the 1946 film, Gilda. Watch and you will understand why (Woof!):



3) An interesting take on political prisoners from the superb Stuff White People Like.

4) The New York Times won't give an FBI informant equal time with the odious Bill Ayers, but Bob Owens will (via Bob's Confederate Yankee blog).

Princess Caroline

James Taranto has some amusing thoughts on Albert Hunt’s salute to Caroline Kennedy (H/T: From on High).

Hunt, in his obsequiousness toward mainline Democratic party hacks, appears bound and determined to give the late Arthur Schelesinger, Jr. a run for his money in doing the liberal limbo (How low can you go!) I particularly liked this blossom from Hunt’s bouquet: “An even more dramatic example might be the young man who was elected four years before Baker, and with even fewer credentials. Riding a celebrated family name, he defeated more experienced rivals in both the Democratic primary and the general election. That was Edward Kennedy in 1962. He has gone on to become one of the most influential senators in the history of the institution.” Who can deny it? On the other hand, who but a blindly partisan propagandist would view that fact as anything other than appalling?

William F. Buckley, Jr. once suggested that perhaps we ought to simply declare the Kennedy’s the official royal family and pension them off, with the strict understanding that no one in the family would be permitted to hold elective office. In retrospect, I think it would have been a bargain.

Update: Request for disclosure? Apparently that is an act of of lèse-majesté.

How About a Giant Statue of Obama Riding a Unicorn (And Slaying the Dragon of Non-Hopey-Ness)?

The WSJ asks, “Why wait?” Let’s go ahead and start planning a monument to Obama now.

Money quote: “The most capable nuclear attack submarine in the U.S. fleet bears the name of our 39th president. Fittingly, the USS Jimmy Carter's first commanding officer was relieved of duty on account of ‘loss of confidence’ in his abilities

A Detective Paco Rerun - Detective Paco and the Brewer

It was a day in late spring and the air conditioner was on the fritz and it was hot as a bucket of hell’s rivets. For the first time in memory, I actually wished that Al Gore had been in town, but he was in Australia, somewhere, presumably teaching aborigines how to build igloos. I looked out of the window and saw Bogan chasing a cat; it was so hot, they were both walking. Because of the oppressive heat, I had granted Sheila and myself a casual day at work. Sheila had come in wearing cut-off jeans and a tank top (which didn’t cool me off at all). I wore a double-breasted suit, wing-tips, cotton shirt and a silk tie – but no pocket handkerchief (that’s as casual as the detective’s dress code allows). The humidity was making my panama hat sprout shoots. I was wondering, in that random-association way that sometimes comes over you when you’re half-dazed from the heat, if I could grow some new hats.

A thought struck me. Air conditioner on the fritz . Fritz. Then I remembered. A German beer brewer by the name of Helmut Erdmann was in town and had made an appointment to see me today. I looked at my watch; he was due right about now, as a matter of fact.

Sheila had gone out to nag the landlord about fixing the AC, so when my client arrived he helped himself to the office door and shuffled in. He was a short, stocky guy, with a body built along the lines of a Highland cow, and with a head like a salt-lick sporting a walrus mustache; sort of a pint-sized Bismark.

“Ach! I am zo glad to meet you, Herr Paco! I haff zutch a problem and I am hoping dat you can help me, bitte!

“Have a seat, Mr. Erdmann. What can I do for you? Kegs being pilfered on the docks? Employees siphoning off the suds?”

“Nein, nein, nuttink zo zimple as dat, Herr Paco. You zee, I am de director of Aying Brewery in Bavaria, and ve are facing huge increases in de prize of barley. De farmers are divertink de land to growink corn for de biofuels industry, and zo, de prize of barley, it keeps goink up. Ve haff to keep increasink de prize of our beer. Und, ach du lieber!, de customers are complaining.”

When he talked about beer, Erdmann’s ice-blue eyes gleamed like those of a Teutonic Knight who’d just stumbled onto a group of unescorted Latvian milk maids. I couldn’t see what I could do for him, though.

“Mr. Erdmann, I’m a private detective, not a commodities speculator. What is it you want me to do?”

“Herr Paco. You are good at de investigations, nicht wahr? Perhabz you can show up diss global varmink for de hoax it iss, and de farmers, dey go back to plantink barley.”

“Well, that’s a pretty tall order, Mr. Erdmann. You see . . .” At that moment, Sheila came into the office.

“Excuse me, Paco. I wouldn’t have intruded, but I’ve got a registered letter for you. You need to sign for it.”

She walked briskly toward my desk. She had spent Memorial Day weekend at the beach, and was thoroughly bronzed. Her long, golden hair flounced about her shoulders, and her breasts bounced lightly, and with that provocative ripple effect unique to a firm, but ample, bosom. She dropped the letter on my desk, turned, and got her first eyeful of Erdmann.

He had risen from his chair and was staring at her; he might have been Sigurd ogling Brunhilde. His already florid complexion marched double-time through the spectrum, changing from crimson to magenta in seconds, and although his mouth was moving, the only sounds that emerged were little mewing noises.

Sheila cocked an eyebrow, pursed her lips and quickly folded her arms in front of her prow. “You need a glass of water, mister? Maybe a nitroglycerine pill?”

Gott in Himmel!, he muttered under his breath. “It’s de St. Pauli girl!”

Suddenly, I got an idea. “Look, Mr. Erdmann. Maybe you’re going about this thing the wrong way. Right now, you can’t do much about your expenses, but what about boosting your revenues, over and above the cost of the barley? Maybe a marketing gimmick is what you need.”

“Bleeze. Vat is diss . . . ‘marketink gimmick’ of vhich you speak?”

“Well, what sort of advertising do you do? What are your symbols, your logos?”

“Oh, I zee. Vell, one of our beers hass a picture of a house on de label. Anodder vun hass a picture of two goats . . .”

“Goats? I think I’m beginning to see your problem. Why don’t you call a modeling agency and find your own version of the St. Pauli girl?”

“Ja, ja. Diss girl. She makes de St. Pauli girl look like a Trüffelschwein.”

“Er, Sheila, that will be all.” Sheila tossed her head and glided out of the room; if anything, her stern action moved Erdmann even closer to a stroke. Erdmann thanked me and hurried out of the office.

The air conditioner suddenly began humming, and I felt a blast of refreshing cold air. I walked into the waiting room and asked Sheila how she had managed to get our landlord, a notorious procrastinator, to get the thing fixed. She gave me a wicked smile. “Simple. I bent over and picked up a pencil he had dropped on the floor. He was grateful.”

“For the pencil or the view” I said, and gave her a wink.

Monday, December 22, 2008

An Expert on Chicago Politics Weighs In




“Hello, folks. This is Brad Smilo of Paco World News, and I’m here again with well-known Chicago community organizer and…er….”

“Furniture dealer, Brad.”

“Yes, furniture dealer, Al Capone. Well, Mr. Capone, Illinois has produced yet another big political scandal with Governor Blagojevich being arrested for graft, and a host of other politicians falling under a cloud of suspicion. Looks like things haven’t changed much over the years.”

Capone: Yeh, these things go in, whaddayacallit, cycles, right? Ya know, round an’ round. Ya get everybody to play ball, keepin’ it all hush-hush, everybody gets a spoonful of gravy, and then some goombah gets greedy, starts flappin’ his gums on the telephone, the feds pick it up, then they all start trippin’ over each other to cut a deal, doin’ their associates dirty, stoolin’…I tell ya, there ain’t no honor in politics at all. That’s why I always kept out of it – except to buy off the occasional mayor or judge; but whaddaya gonna do? Overhead, right?

Brad: What do you think the root cause of this problem is, sir?

Capone: Technology, Brad. It’s a curse. See, back in the old days, I wanted to cut a business deal, I had the guy come meet me in my hotel suite. The boys would frisk him, we’d sit down, have a little chat; nobody’s the wiser. Nowadays, everybody’s gotta use the phone, or send messages on those little walky-talky things – raspberries, ain’t that what they call ‘em?

Brad: BlackBerries.

Capone: Yeh, I knew it was somethin’ fruity. Anyhow, the feds, they listen in, get the lowdown on this bohunk governor and every single mug he’s been talkin’ to, and before you know it, Wham!, they got him and all his pals on the hook.

Brad: Well, actually, Mr. Capone, I meant what do you think is the root cause of all of this corruption?

Capone: Oh, you mean why do we keep gettin’ stuck with politicians what ain’t got no ethics?

Brad: Exactly.

Capone: That’s easy. The rubes keep votin’ the bums in. See, people will always vote for some putz who says what they wanna hear. In Illinois – ‘specially in Chicago – these days ya got whaddayacall your liberal Democrats, an’ there ain’t nothin’ they like better than pie-in-the-sky, chicken-in-every-pot, government’s-gonna-wipe-your…

Brad: Nose?

Capone: Well, I gotta even lower opinion of ‘em, if you know what I mean, but, yeh, you get the picture. So what happens is, the rubes, they don’t figure that runnin’ the government is like a real business; to them, it’s just like a big magic show, or a movie or somethin’, or – and this is the worst part – sometimes like a religion that ain’t got no hell, just a heaven that’s gonna open up like a swell speakeasy soon as ya get enough of these liberal Democrats runnin’ the operation. And the things people want from politicians these days! Good weather, for cryin’ out loud! In my day, all they wanted was somethin’ like filled-in pot holes or a new hospital.‘Course, the rubes don’t know it, but there ain’t no magic in politics; it’s like anything else: ya gotta watch the guy at the till. The problem with these voters is, they ain’t watchin’ the guy at the till, and he’s helpin’ hisself and bringin’ down the net margin.

Brad: So, an informed electorate can make a genuine difference?

Capone: Oh, sure. Ya know, when that little St. Valentine’s Day thing happened back in ’29 – and I had nothin’ to do with it, I was in Florida at the time, but it wouldn’t have happened if Bugs Moran hadn’t got greedy, the little mick bastard…where was I? Oh, yeh; the rubes finally got wise and threw out my pal Big Bill Thompson a couple of years later. Can’t say it was good for my business, but I understood where they was comin’ from.

Brad: Then what you’re saying is, graft doesn’t pay?

Capone: No, no, it pays off huge; when Big Bill died – God rest his soul – they found two million samolians in his safe deposit box at the bank. But Bill was a citizen; he saved his graft, week in and week out. What I’m sayin’ is, punks like this Blagojevich got no sav-wah fair; they chase the goose what lays them golden eggs around the yard with a meat cleaver ‘til the damned thing’s squawks attract the law, instead-a bidin’ their time and just collectin’ them eggs as they come along. Greed, Brad. It’s the big lump in the gravy boat of life. Ja get that? “The big lump…”

Brad: “…in the gravy boat of life.” Yes, Mr. Capone, I got it. I guess we can add “philosopher” to your resumé!

Capone: Yeh. Put it down between furniture dealer and philanderist.

Brad: You mean “philanthropist”.

Capone: Yeh, that too.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Director's Cut

Tom Cruise’s movie, Valkyrie, will be opening in theaters soon. It’s about the plot to kill Hitler, and Cruise plays one of the main conspirators, Count Claus von Stauffenberg.

This film has been in the works for a very long time – so long, in fact, that I remember it was being discussed at Tim Blair’s old blog more than a year ago. Someone commented that Cruise was too short to play von Stauffenberg, and that he would have to wear spring-loaded stilts. I conjured up an out-take, which I reproduce here from memory.

Adolf Hitler: “Himmel! It’s gettink kinda shtuffy in here; Count von Stauffenberg, can you open a vindow, bleeuz?

Von Stauffenberg: “Ja wohl, mein Führer!”

(Boing! Boing! Boing! *Crash!*…Aughhhhhhh!!)

Cut!

Investment Diversification

Gold is generally considered a good hedge against inflation, and, in addition to bullion, krugerrands, Canadian Maple Leafs, and U.S. gold buffaloes, it's also available in the form of St. Louis police badges.

(H/T: Don Surber)

Nuttin' to Worry About



Hi ya. Since some a’ yez might be a little worried about Rahm Emmanuel, seein’ as how he ain’t been hoid from for a coupla weeks, da boys was tinkin’ dat maybe I oughta let yez know dat he’s jus’ dandy. We got him on ice until dis Blagojevich ting blows over, see? So, maybe yez oughta just move along, see, and mind your own bees wax.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sunday Funny


(Courtesy of Captain Heinrichs)

Update: Allahpundit links to a video featuring a rather puzzling invention; I mean, what's the point of this thing?

Update II: Heh. Another reason to avoid getting tattoos.

Update III: What if a lawyer had written "T'was the Night Before Christmas" ?

Brain Trust

Here's an inside look at U.S. Treasury Secretary Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke and Federal Reserve Bank of New York President Geithner discussing the math behind the $700 billion bailout-of-practically-anything-and-everybody:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Assortment

1) The Federal Government is making a down-payment on the U.S. auto industry, agreeing to fund $17.4 billion in loans. $13.4 billion is being doled out over the next two months, and $4 billion “later.” But here’s the good news: “Bush said the loans will be called back if the companies are not viable by March 31.” Really? How is that going to work? If the funds are disbursed over the next few months and the situation gets even worse – and assuming that the purpose of the loans is to provide money that will actually be, you know, spent - how do we know if we call those dollars back, they’ll come running? Have you ever let a completely untrained beagle puppy loose in a field full of rabbits and tried to get him to come when called? Exactly.

2) As a rule, you shouldn’t bring a pizza to a gun fight, but it seemed to work out all right for this guy - this time, anyway.

3) Hey, Wronwright; aren’t you missing a Swiss watch?

4) Dr. Charles Krauthammer – for my money, the wisest columnist writing today – casts a disapproving eye on dynastic tendencies in the U.S. government.

5) Ageing pretty boy, Robert Redford, (who, incidentally, is starting to look like a teetotaling Kennedy, if such a thing can be imagined) has one good, last rant against President Bush (H/T: Hyacinth Girl).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bad Casting

Before he decided to go into politics, Barack Obama yearned to star in a remake of Cape Fear...



He finally had to admit to himself that he'd never be able to fill those shoes...




(Photo of The President as a Young Reprobate gratefully swiped from Moonbattery)

Happy Feet Friday

Betty Hutton gives a very animated performance of “Murder He Says” on this Bob Hope radio program from WWII (the song is a riff on the hep talk of the '40's).

Nut Roots Roasting on an Open Fire

Linda at Something...and Half of Something goes behind enemy lines and retrieves MoveOn's letters to Santa Claus.

Taliban Terrified of Semi-Nude Lithuanians

Exurban League has the link to a great piece by Michael Yon which includes a fascinating look at the exploits of Lithuanian Special Forces in Afghanistan.

Al-Zaidi Apologizes, Says “I Thought It Was A Wedding”

TV reporter Muntader al-Zaidi says “sorry about that”, but still faces up to 15 years in prison for “aggression against a president.” His employers, Cairo-based al-Baghdadiya TV, “called for their journalist to be freed, saying he had simply been exercising his freedom of expression.”

I dunno. Based on exhibit A, I’d say it was attempted murder.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



Much of the charm of novels that constitute a series lies in the recurrence of interesting, well-defined characters toward whom we eventually develop an affection not unlike that which we have for real-life friends. Add enthralling plots and the farcical disconnect between the best-laid plans of mortal men and the unanticipated results of those plans, and you have the substance of Donald Westlake’s remarkable string of humorous crime novels featuring ace burglar and idea man, John Dortmunder, and his gang of eccentric partners.

Westlake excels in that subgenre of crime fiction known as the “caper”: the well-planned scheme to heist jewels, cash, or, in the case of The Road to Ruin, a fleet of antique automobiles belonging to Monroe Hall, a wheeler-dealer who has managed to loot his companies while narrowly avoiding going to jail. Hall lives, however, as a virtual prisoner on his estate, afraid of the many people who have suffered from his perfidy and who may be out to get him.

Enter John Dortmunder and company. Andy Kelp – deal originator and car thief (he always steals cars with “MD” tags, because doctors know how to travel in comfort) – introduces Dortmunder to Hall’s ex-chauffeur, Chester Fallon, who nurses a grudge against his former employer and is looking for help in arranging for the theft of Hall’s fabulous collection of classic automobiles. The gang gets together at their customary meeting place: the back room of the O.J. Bar & Grill in Manhattan, where Rollo the bartender knows John and his pals only by the drinks they prefer. In addition to Dortmunder and Kelp, there’s Stanley Murch, the gang’s driver, and Tiny Bulcher, a man-mountain of somewhat tricky temperament who provides the muscle. Dortmunder is the brains of the outfit, and he ultimately decides that the best way to get inside Monroe Hall’s well-guarded compound is in the guise of servants – which proves to be fairly easy, given the fact that nobody, anywhere, wants to work for Hall.

What the gang is unaware of is that there are two other groups of people who are actively trying to get hold of their mark: a couple of venture capitalists who lost their shirts investing in Hall’s companies, and three beefy members of a union whose workers lost jobs and pensions due to Hall’s Enron-like machinations. Everybody’s plans wind up colliding like bumper cars at the fair, and Dortmunder gets kidnapped along with his “master.” From this point on, all the various schemes go off the rails.

The characters, whether recurring or unique to each individual story, are well drawn, fully developed personalities. Take Flip Morriscone, for example, Monroe Hall’s health trainer: “Flip Morriscone would rather watch himself than anyone else on the planet, man or woman, and that was because he was in the absolute peak of physical condition; rockhard abs, rockhard butt, legs like a centaur’s, neck like a plinth. On the treadmill, on the machines, anywhere, what he was really doing was not training the slobs. What he was really doing was watching himself, and getting paid for it. (In his dreams, he often walked beside himself, holding hands.)”

There are a dozen novels in the series (the first is The Hot Rock, my favorite is Drowned Hopes). In addition to the Dortmunder series, Westlake has authored numerous non-serial novels of comic crime, noir crime, adventure and even a western. One of his best adventure novels is Kahawa, the plot of which centers on the theft of a train full of Ugandan coffee during the dictatorship of Idi Amin (and a more penetrating look into the twisted mind of that monster you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else).

You’ll enjoy spending a little time with John Dortmunder and his boys (just don’t try any funny business with Tiny).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Che-philia

Steven Sonderbergh has contributed another load of manure to the already-mountainous pile of Che hagiography.

If you want to know the real Che, you have to get inside the man’s mind, and there is no better way than through reading the Bolivian diaries. No, not the published diaries; the secret diaries uncovered by yours truly through the carelessness of Goodwill Industries…

Background

The Diaries – Fragments

The Diaries – First complete entry

The Diaries – Second complete entry

The Diaries – Third complete entry

And, for the first time on this blog site, the final entry...

Ok, I won’t deny that this is a bit of a setback. Being captured by Bolivian troops has definitely thrown the revolution off schedule. And of course, since Felipe and Julio are the comrades planning the rescue effort, things don’t look particularly rosy for me, personally. However, so far, my treatment hasn’t been bad. In fact, this morning, when I complained to the guard about the effects of this stuffy cell on my asthma, he smiled and told me that they would be working on my ventilation shortly.

Ha! It is amazing how quickly news travels in this modern world. Unless I miss my guess, Fidel has heard of my plight and is working his magic to secure my release. I see a squad of soldiers lining up in the courtyard; obviously they are there to form the security detail that will escort me to the nearest train depot, and then, on to the airport and back to Havana! What a comical lot of hayseeds they are! The Bolivian army must not trust them with firearms because these clodhoppers have been equipped with shovels instead of rifles.

The next time, things here will be different. I haven’t given up on Bolivia, but let’s face it: the locals – mostly illiterate Indians – are so fixated on their little plots of land and their families and mundane things like eating that it’s hard to grab their attention – even shooting them doesn’t win them over to Marxism. So, my advice to the next guerilla chief is this: focus on the cities. When you shoot people in cities, there’s a kind of terror-multiplier effect. Kill a teacher, and his colleagues, his students - everybody, in fact, thanks to newspapers and radio - hears about it. Execute one of these degraded Inca peasants, on the other hand, and the shot does not echo beyond the valley where it is fired.

Ah! Here comes the captain of the guard. What is that fool doing, unholstering his pistol? Does he think I’m going to jump him with this leg wound? Madre mia, it stings! I can’t wait to get back to Cuba and get some decent medical care. I do hope that these reactionaries aren’t going to be such idiots as to actually hold a trial ( diary ends).

Your wish is granted, comandante; no trial. (Note written at the bottom of the last page of the diary in a different and unidentified hand)

(Note to regular readers: I hope you'll pardon me for linking this stuff yet again, but there are undoubtedly 3 or 4 billion people out there who haven't read it, and the new movie affords me another excuse for shameless self-promotion).

Two Thumbs Up!

James Lileks – your sure-footed guide to the hilarious byways of American pop culture – has a series of old mystery movie reviews up at his site. Try this one on for size.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Australian Prime Minister Signs Death Warrant of Planet

Tim Blair has the lowdown on the response of leafy green heads in Australia to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's substantial backtracking on target benchmarks for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The PM, who ran on a platform which supported reductions of 25-40% by 2020, has rolled out a new goal of...er...5%.

Leftist enviromaniacs are smoking like ockra in an untended wok:

"...he’s put the planet in grave danger."

"We could be an inspiration to the world. Now we are its pariah.”

"Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is too weak on climate change, according to protesters who staged a sit-in at his Morningside electorate office this afternoon."

Five percent is a good start, but I think he needs to get it down further; maybe to one percent - or zero.

Relief Pitcher Yanked After Two Wild Throws

Muntadhar "Dizzy" al-Zeidi had a poor outing in his first big league appearance, and was pulled after throwing two bean-ball pitches at President Bush during a press conference in Baghdad.

Al-Zeidi - a reporter who is living the dream of practically every left-wing journalist in America - not only hates America, but claims to hate Iran, too. We eagerly look forward to him taking the mound in Tehran against Ahmadinejad.

The AP helpfully puts this incident in context: "The sight of an average Arab standing up and making a public show of resentment was striking — especially against a leader widely blamed for a litany of crimes by the Associated Press including the turmoil in Iraq, where tens of thousands of civilians have died in the war."

Update: Who does al-Zeidi want to be like when he grows up? I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Who Said What?



David Axelrod: So, Mr. Emmanuel, youse took part in dat conference call wit Blagojevich? And da governor was bumpin’ his gums da whole time about sellin’ a senate seat, and yez didn’t say nuttin' to nobody about it?

Rahm Emmanuel: I tell yez, Mr. Axelrod, I was dat shocked by da whole ting dat I was speechless. I jus’ hadda take some aspirin and go tuh bed for a few days. Never before had I ever saw such dishonest hijinx in politics. Between me and youse, it really horrified me, completely underminded my fait’ in democracy. In fact, it was very like a nightmare.

Axelrod: So’s it could be da whole ting was jus’ a dream, couldn’t it Mr. Emmanuel? Maybe youse wasn’t even dere, actually. Or maybe youse was so trogmatized ya got magnesia.

Emmanuel: Now dat youse mention it, Mr. Axelrod, I tink ya got some’n dere. I’m tinkin’ back, and I’m wonderin’ if I wasn’t maybe actually at church dat afternoon, or maybe even deliverin’ baskets of fruit to one a dem ol’ folks’ homes. Yeh, now my memory’s startin’ to come back on da subject, I believe I wasn’t on dat conference call at all; must-a been some other goon. I guess it was jus’ my imagination playin’ tricks on my sensitive sub-conscience. Tanks, Mr. Axelrod, for clearin’ up dat business.

Axelrod: Oh, no sweat at all, Mr. Emmanuel. Jus’ one hand washin’ de other; ya know, “no bless o-bleach” an’ all dat.

Assortment

Update: Commenter Jeff pens an open letter to failed presidential candidate, John McCain:

Dear Senator McCain:

I voted for you because you were the only alternative to Obama. I went from holding my nose to voting for you because you selected Governor Palin as your VP.

But I see that you are back to your old tricks, the primary reason why I was going to hold my nose. So let me point something out:

You lost the election, in some part because you refused to call Obama on his associates (e.g., Reverend "G*****n America" Wright). This does not give you the moral high ground on any matter.

Therefore, I suggest that you STFU.

Very respectfully,

JeffS
* * * *

1) It's sanctimonious crap like this that explains why I am not exactly devastated by the election results.

2) Peter Fitzgerald (no relation to Patrick): the unsung hero of the Blagojevich take-down.

3) The Northeast U.S. has succumbed to the relentless assault of global warming. Mark Steyn's blue fingers tap out a dispatch from the frozen trenches.

4) Superheroes ain't what they used to be.

5) Paco World News has an exclusive photograph of Blogojevich's pay-to-play senate negotiations being busted by the Feds...

Sunday Funny

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

Click on picture for the full explanation.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hey, Al; Put Your Money Where Your...Er...Mouth Is



You know who says that the northern polar ice cap will be gone in five years? Al Gore, that's who. Oh, excuse me; I mean Friedensnobelpreisträger Al Gore (Ooooo! It sounds so much more...I dunno...heel-clickingly authoritative in German, doesn't it? The kind of thing to make the Klimajugend hurl themselves at bulldozers working on new coalmine construction sites).

Tell you what, Al, I'll make you a bet. If the northern polar ice cap disappears in five years or less, I'll agree to adopt a polar bear and feed him three square meals a day until he drops dead from old age (or clogged arteries). If the ice cap is still here in five years, you'll agree to drop trow and permit my older son, the imminent Richmond tattooist, to engrave "Left Brain" and "Right Brain", respectively, on the appropriate butt cheeks.

Happy Anniversary!

December 13th marks two important anniversaries:

(1) On this day, in 2000, Al Gore conceded the presidential election to George Bush, and...

(2) On this day, in 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured.

I daresay that if it hadn't been for (1), we (and the Iraqi people) wouldn't be celebrating (2).

Dishonest AND Nuts



What a good time to tap into Righty Blogs, click on Illinois, and see what local bloggers are saying about the Blagojevich scandal:

- Reverse Spin

- Backyard Conservative

- Friends of Blago

Update: The Illinois governor is said to be weighing his legal options; he's not the only one...



Update II: How deep is the corruption? Don't know; we haven't hit bottom yet.

New Listing

Paco Enterprises is now blog-rolled at Righty Blogs, a portal that enables you to find conservatives blogs broken out by state (I am located among the Virginia blogs, of course). Among other things, it's a great site for identifying blogs that focus on issues in your state. Drop by and browse!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gordon Brown Calls Dibs

2,000-year-old brain found in Britain.

A Bargain At Half the Price!

Don Surber helpfully identifies some of the dumber things Congress has seen fit to spend our money on this year.

I am still strongly inclined toward the policy my father, Old Paco, has long advocated: every now and then we should cancel the election and have a public hanging, instead. Or, if we're too squishy for justice that is quite that rough, perhaps we can at least dunk a few of these idiots in tar, scatter feathers over them and then parade them around town tied to a donkey. Or how about bringing back the pillory?

Then again, to be fair, these people weren't born into the job...

Mumbai: Not Just Random Murder

Robert Avrech points out that the Obama administration is likely to push the same futile "two-state" policy in the Middle East that has captivated the imaginations of generations of foreign policy know-nothings who have always believed, wrongly, that Palestinian grievances are the primary cause of Islamic violence.

A Billion Here, A Billion There...

Update: world famous economist agrees with Paco Enterprises that bankruptcy is the way to go.
* * * *

The Senate said "No, thanks" to the auto bailout, but the Bush administration may divert money from TARP, anyway, in an effort to keep the "Big" 3 out of bankruptcy. If nothing else, I believe this gives the lie to the notion that Paulson and Co. had any real clue as to what they were doing when they begged for the original $700 billion; what they really wanted was just a big dollar number which they hoped would assuage people's fears, and which could be carved up and allocated in accordance with the "panic of the week." Now it's not simply to provide liquidity to the credit markets, it's to prop up the inherently inefficient and poorly-managed U.S. auto industry, along with that industry's truculent unions, who apparently believe that it's better for the membership to be permanently out of work than to take a reduction in compensation.

Bankruptcy may make for bad press, but that is mostly due to widespread ignorance of how bankruptcy works. A bankrupt company doesn't just fold up; it gets breathing room and temporary protection from its creditors while it works out a business plan - a real business plan - that affords some reasonable chance of success. In this case, it would also mean going back to square one with the UAW and negotiating a completely new compensation structure - something the union would prefer to more or less put off indefinitely.

Some conservative bloggers believe that Republicans should go along with the $15 billion "mini" bailout, so that the genuine taxpayer blowout gets to happen on Obama's watch, under which (the thinking goes) the Democrats in the House and the Senate will pass another bailout with a much higher price tag. Presumably, this plan will fail to accomplish anything tangible, and voters will blame the Democrats.

Too cute by half, in my opinion, and my patience for even smallish raids on the treasury is exhausted. I commend Senators Shelby and DeMint and other Republicans for calling a halt to this foolishness, and, although their good work is already being condemned by the likes of Dick Cheney (who says it's "Herbert Hoover" time), the Bush administration's economic leadership over the last few months does not predispose me toward placing much faith in that quarter.

Update: Use of TARP funds to support auto manufacturers may be illegal (H/T: Michelle Malkin)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Happy Feet Friday

Artie Shaw and his orchestra exhort the Lady to Be Good.

"Hello? Is Someone There?"

Obama, temporarily blinded by photographers' bright lights, was completely unaware of whose hand he was shaking at the Governors conference last Tuesday.



(H/T: Ace and Exurban League)

The Best Advice I Can Give You is Don't Get Sick

Tom Daschle is Obama's pick for Health & Human Services.

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



I don’t know that people read western novels much anymore, which is a shame because there are few places and times that compare with the old west when it comes to an inherent wealth of material – good vs. evil, the rigors of frontier existence, man against the elements, the clash of cultures, the search for the promised land, and the tremendous variations in settings, from the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies to the parched arroyos of the Sonora Desert. And there are more than a few authors who have penned interesting page-turners in this genre, including, in fairly recent times, Louis L’Amour and Elmore Leonard (the latter is better known as an author of crime fiction, these days, but he cut his teeth on western fiction).

I wanted to highlight two classics of western fiction today – and they are classics, not merely pulp fiction (although, I hasten to add, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the latter; good pulp fiction represents the essence of successful story-telling).

The Ox-Bow Incident was published in 1940, and was, astonishingly, the first book written by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. I say “astonishingly” because the novel, in its characterization, pace and thematic complexity, reads like the work of a far more experienced author. It begins with two cowboys, Art Croft and Gil Carter, riding into the town of Bridger’s Wells. They are strangers, and in the overheated environment of a town on edge because of a rash of cattle-rustling incidents, they are viewed with some suspicion by the townspeople. A rider comes into town and claims that a local rancher by the name of Kincaid has been murdered, and his cattle stolen. The sheriff is out of town, and an officious deputy winds up swearing in a posse to go after the criminals – against the advice of the judge and a couple of townspeople, who believe that the posse is likely to hang the first men they find. Art and Gil volunteer for the posse – partly to deter the vague suspicion that hangs over their own heads, partly at the request of Davies, a merchant who fears that injustice will be done and who sees in the two drifters some streak of fair-play – and the men ride off in search of their quarry. They find three strangers, a newcomer to the area who claims to have bought Kincaid’s cattle, along with his two hired hands; however, the head of the outfit can’t produce a bill of sale. For those who may not have read the book, I won’t spoil the ending, but will point out that the novel has a tragically ironic twist at the end (in truth, a couple of ironic twists). The book can be enjoyed on two levels – as both a straight western, and as a brilliant study in mob psychology. It was made into a first-rate movie in 1943, starring Henry Fonda, Harry Morgan, Dana Andrews and Anthony Quinn (but if you’re like me, you’ll want to read the book before you see the movie).

The Unforgiven, by Alan Le May, was published in 1957 (note: this novel has nothing to do with the Clint Eastwood film of the same name, although a movie based on it was released in 1960 starring Burt Lancaster and Audrey Hepburn). It is the story of the Zachary family of the Texas Panhandle in the 1870’s, whose adopted daughter, Rachel, becomes the focus for the primary action. A half-mad old man makes his appearance at the Zachary homestead one day and is driven off by Mrs. Zachary; the peculiar fellow then begins spreading rumors that 17-year-old Rachel was not a white child whose parents had been killed during an Indian attack, but in fact, a Kiowa baby who had been saved during a retaliatory raid by whites (including the late patriarch of the Zachary family). The rumor begins to take on more substance as a Kiowa chief appears one day with a few of his braves, claiming that Rachel is, in reality, his sister, and demanding that she be turned over to him. Ben Zachary, the head of the family, runs off the Kiowas, but they go on the warpath, killing the daughter of the Zachary’s neighbors, the Rawlins. The Rawlins clan comes to believe in the truth of Rachel’s lineage, and blames the Zachary’s for their daughter’s death. Ben Zachary refuses to listen to some of his neighbors’ appeals to turn Rachel over to the Kiowas (Ben’s brother, Cassius, has a great hatred of Indians, because they killed the boys’ father, and he turns against Rachel, too). The Zachary’s, refusing to leave, and facing the wrath of the Kiowas alone, fort up and are ultimately attacked by Rachel’s Kiowa brother and a band of warriors. Again, I will leave you in suspense as to the outcome, in case you haven’t read the book. The Unforgiven is not only an exciting western, but a novel that deals frankly and maturely with the complex theme of racial hatred.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nothing to See Here...



David Axelrod: Did I say dat Barack Obama was gonna talk wid Blagojevich about appointin' his replacement in da Senate, Mr. Emmanuel?

Rahm Emmanuel: Why, moicy me, Mr. Axelrod, I believe yez did. But what I'm bettin' is, youse was mistaken.

Axelrod: Youse have went and hit da nail right on da head, Mr. Emmanuel. I was mistaken. I was prolly distracted by da lights in da news studio, or maybe da swell set-a gams on da make-up goil. If only I hadda knew what I was sayin', I wouldn't even hadda said it.

Emmanuel: Absolutely, Mr. Axelrod. Just a mix-up; just one-a dem tings, ya know?

Axelrod: Truer woids was never spoke, Mr. Emmanuel. I am so glad dat I have been able to clear up dis little fox pus, so's every ting is now, once again, completely jake.

For You Biden Fans Out There

Looking for a collectible that will provide a hedge against inflation? Something not only valuable, but beautiful to look at? A tasteful gift that will be the focal point of your home? Search no further!

PARTIAL EXPIRATORY TRACHEAL GAS INSUFFLATION (TGI) REDUCES PaCO ...

I come across some strange things when I search the web for references to Paco Enterprises.

"World Government Sounds Like a Good Idea" Says British Columnist; "Not So Fast", Say His Correspondents

Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times thinks the time may be ripe for world government. His article is practically a case study in unintentional irony and unwitting self-fisking (a sample: "The European Union has already set up a continental government for 27 countries, which could be a model. The EU has a supreme court, a currency, thousands of pages of law, a large civil service and the ability to deploy military force.")

Gideon Rachman then hears from some folks who don't much care for the idea; you know the sort: "the gun-toting, bible-bashing, nationalistic bit of the United States" (does he really mean "bible-bashing", by the way? Surely he means "bible-thumping").

Anybody here think the Brits - particularly this Brit - should lead the way?* Personally, I would say that the notion of world government is simply not on; certainly I'm not buying it based on the mere affidavit of a fellow who looks like my idea of Wodehouse's Stanley F. Ukridge.

*H/T: Dog fight at Bankstown

The No-Nonsense Camille Paglia

Dick Cavett - in a desperate attempt to cut through the fog of obscurity that has settled on him - recently wrote a smarmy hit piece on Sarah Palin: trite, condescending, saturated with grammatically and syntactically-perfect ignorance. The estimable Camille Paglia, however, was having none of it. By the time she got through with Cavett, I imagine that he hurried home to Nebraska to show everybody his new a$$hole (H/T, incidentally, to Don Surber).

The piece on Cavett begins with the eleventh paragraph. In the first part of the article, Paglia puzzles over Obama's choice of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. I have to admit, the Club of the Puzzled is a large one, and I include myself as a member. I tried to warn Obama off this decision, but he didn't listen...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

One Hump or Two?

My Australian readers will have to be sure to tell me how these taste.

More on the Automaker Bailout



Ha! I figured a measly $15 billion wasn't going to cut it. Mark my word, we are witnessing the creation of another AmTrak.

(Photo courtesy of Captain Heinrichs)

Illinois Governor Blagojevich Arrested

Ace breaks out the flaming skull. The governor was apparently trying to sell Obama’s vacant senate seat to the highest bidder.

Paco World News has an update, featuring a secret videotape of Blagojevich’s negotiations with a group of senatorial wannabes (talk about blatant!)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hello, Sarah? Get Goober for Me, Will You?



Hugh Hewitt relates some highly instructive advice from an advertising friend concerning the Republicans' need not only to update their communications technology, but, even more importantly, to get creative in developing The Message.