Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Obama Fires Night Manager of Fairfax, Virginia 7-11

(PWN) - Following up on his unprecedented decision to compel the resignation of GM CEO Richard Wagoner, President Obama yesterday afternoon also fired Mr. Sanjay Patel, night manager of the Main Street 7-11 in Fairfax, Virginia.

Mr. Patel was surprised to arrive at the store to begin his regular shift, only to find that he had been barred from entering the premises. Mr. Timothy Geithner has temporarily assumed the night manager job, in addition to his other duties as Secretary of the Treasury. Mr. Geithner declined to speak to the press last night, beyond asserting that he was too busy trying to fix a leaky Slurpee machine, and that he was in the initial stages of an investigation into an alleged shortage of Milk Duds and Hostess Ho-Hos.

Mr. Patel, contacted at his home late last night, indicated that he was shocked to find out that he had been fired. When asked about the reason for his termination of employment, he said that he had received a call from White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who conveyed the President’s decision. “He told me dat it was because I failed to collect de new cigarette tax on two cartons of Camels. I tried to explain to him dat I had been robbed at gunpoint by two men, and dat dey demanded de cigarettes, in addition to stealing all de monies in de cash register. I mean, what was I subbosed to do? But he said dat I should have deducted de tax from de dodal amount of cash dat I handed over.”

The White House issued a press release today on Mr. Patel’s firing, underscoring the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on the failure of merchants to collect federal sales taxes. “Those taxes,” the official statement said, “are destined to support health care for children. This is something for which all citizens should be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.” The written statement, incidentally, was the first to be issued under the administration’s new policy of substituting an advertisement featuring the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado truck in place of the presidential seal.

(Hey, under the Obama presidency, every day is April Fool's Day! BTW, here's an April Fool's post that is more upbeat)

A Competition Where Everybody's a Loser!



The Unemployment Olympics, featuring events such as "Pin the Tail on the Boss" and "Office Phone Skee-Ball."

Chris Matthews: Mail-Order Gag Gift

Chris gets off another knee-slapper, referring to Sarah Palin as a "mail-order bride."

Ed Morrisey has the last word: "Just what does a woman have to do to get Matthews to stop thinking of her as a sex object, anyway? Marry him?" (H/T: The Other McCain).

Maximum Hep-Cat’s Line of Jive Goes Slack; Even Well-Known Blowfish Spits Out Hook

I ridicule David Brooks with regularity, but he has actually written a column on Obama and the auto industry that’s pretty good.

I found this line intriguing: “In a show of force, he released plans from his Office of People Who Are Much Smarter Than You Are.”

What do you think? Just sarcasm, or maybe a little self-parody, as atonement for his previous drooling over the purportedly beefy IQ’s of Obama’s Brain (Stem) Trust?

No matter. In spite of this momentary skepticism, I’m sure Brooks won’t be able to avoid the overpowering appeal of the Hawaiian Wiggler for long.

(H/T: Hot Air)

Meanwhile, Robert S. McCain gives a good thumpin’ to the increasingly sanctimonious David Frum (H/T: Fisherville Mike).

Another Time-Defying Interview



Transcript of Brad Smilo’s recorded interview with Al Capone

Brad: Hello, this is Brad Smilo, of Paco World News, and I’m entering the hotel suite of Mr. Al Capone, well-known Chicago community organizer…Gulp!

Al: Hey, ‘Fredo, take de rod outta de kid’s brisket, will ya? He’s ok.

Brad: Er, Thank you, Mr. Capone. It’s good to see you again.

Al: Always a pleasure, Brad. Sorry about ‘Fredo, dere. He’s new and eager to please.

Brad: Oh, no problem, sir, no problem at all. Mr. Capone, as Chicago’s most famous community organizer and…uh…

Al: Furniture dealer, Brad.

Brad: Yes, yes, of course…er…as a community organizer and business man, our listeners would be glad to hear what you think about the first couple of months in office of another Chicago-based community organizer, President Barack Obama.

Al: Well, I’ll tell ya. So far, he seems to be makin’ all de right moves. Take dis business wit’ de banks and de car companies. He’s sorta takin’ over, see? It’s kinda like de gover’ment is his mob, an’ he’s pushin’ dis udder mob – de private sector – outta his territory. You know, like what we did wit’ Bugsy Moran an’ his boys on St. Valentine’s Day back in ’29.

Brad: So, you don’t see this expansion of government power as being a bad thing, necessarily?

Al: Nah, I didn’t say dat. When I say dat he’s makin’ all de right moves, I mean for him an’ his gang. Nuttin’ surprisin’ about dat; it’s jus’ competition. All your successful entremanures gotta have a’ edge, and right now, Obama’s got de biggest bank roll and de biggest mob. But it ain’t gonna woik over de long haul.

Brad: Why is that, Mr. Capone?

Al: ‘Cuz one ting I loined when I was de big cheese in dis town was dat you ain’t never so big dat dere ain’t some udder mug what wants to muscle in on ya. And even more important, de people – de little guys out dere – dey don’t like havin’ one hot-shot holdin’ all de cards, tellin’ ‘em what to do, where dey can spend dere money, what kinda light bulbs dey can buy - ya see what I’m sayin’? Ya know, all we wanted to do was sell beer; we wasn’t interested in tellin’ people how to live. Dat’s where dis guy Obama is gonna go wrong. He ain’t interested in sellin’ people sump’n real dat dey want; he’s tryin’ to sell ‘em sump’n unreal dat dey ain’t never gonna get, and even if dey did get it, I’m tellin’ ya, de markup is too dam’ high.

Brad: Then you’re saying that there are significant differences between your own approach to business and President Obama’s?

Al: Yeh, sure. I sold beer; he’s tryin’ to sell, whaddaya call, kool-aid.

Brad: This has been an interesting interview, Mr. Capone. And, on a personal note, I’d like to tell you how much I admire that new awning you’ve had installed on your balcony. Those pink and purple stripes are real eye-catchers.

Al: Awning? Dat ain’t no awning. Dose are my pajamas. ‘Fredo hung ‘em out to dry after I spilt gin all over ‘em last night. Awning! You're pushin’ your luck, kid.

Brad: Er…heh…my mistake, Mr. Capone. Thanks again for your time…Gulp!

Al: ‘Fredo! What, wit’ de rod again? Let’m go!

Monday, March 30, 2009

An Army of (The) One

I linked to this piece by Linda at Something…and Half of Something in an update to one of my previous posts; however, I think the story deserves its own post.

According to the article in the Birmingham News, to which Linda refers, one Chris DeHaven, an organizer in Alabama for Obama’s perpetual campaign machine, made the following revealing statement: “”We’re not looking for a fight. That will come later, when we have an army.”

I would think that this is the sort of talk that even Democrats (even liberal Democrats) would find somewhat disquieting. A highly personalistic, imperial presidency with its own grassroots Praetorian Guard is more likely than not to marginalize the Democratic Party apparatus, by drawing support to a cult-like leader at the expense of other elected officials – a possibility that also increases the danger that the Party and the President may be seen as one, in which case a backlash against Obama could lead to severe damage to the career prospects for Democratic legislators. Something similar happened during Bill Clinton’s two terms, when his own popularity became inextricably bound up with the Democratic Party. As Clinton increasingly became a lightning rod for scandal, the public reacted by penalizing his party and returning the Republicans to power in the House and Senate.

Of course, you won’t see notable Democratic figures denouncing these tactics. Right now, they’re more than happy to crowd onto the Obama Express, along with the True Believers, because they think it’s the quickest route to what would effectively be a one-party state. I suppose the regrets won’t start to sink in until the technicians start airbrushing images of Pelosi and Reid and the rest out of the official Party photographs.

Mysterious Flash and Explosion in Virginia

Heh. Not to worry, folks. Just a little accident at Paco Enterprises’ beverage-production facility, where we were running up a batch of our new soft-drink geared for heart patients (Nitro Fizz).

By the way, be sure to check our job listings; we have several new openings for taste-testers and vat technicians.

Senator Dodd Stands By Helplessly As AIG Executives Stuff Dollar Bills Down His Pants

160,000 of them, according to this article in the Washington Times.

The best way to eliminate this kind of influence peddling is not to establish dollar caps and other easily flouted restrictions, but to forbid senators and congressmen from receiving donations from industries, companies and organizations regulated by their committees – to include, as well, individuals who are in the employ of same. I can’t see it happening, frankly, but I throw it out there for consideration.

Good Advice on Blogging Counterintelligence

Robert S. McCain links to an interesting article by Andrew Breitbart on left-wing blog guerillas and their strategy of “astroturfing.” McCain goes on to provide some fascinating historical context, showing how the tactics of these cyber-Marxists bear a close resemblance to the operating procedure of the old CPUSA.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Metamorphosis

With apologies to Franz Kafka; hope I’m not alienating you, big guy!
* * * *

One morning, as Henry Dung-Beetle awoke from a worrisome dream (in which his attempt to make a sphere of dung went terribly wrong, and he wound up with a cube, instead, provoking the jeers and laughter of his fellows), he discovered that he was strangely out of sorts. As he stretched his legs he looked at himself and found that two of his limbs were missing, and noted, as well, that his exoskeleton had been replaced by a soft, slightly elastic material. He let his head fall back “I must still be dreaming. God, I’ve got to stop eating the mushrooms that grow on those cow pies.”

As the morning hours passed, he didn’t feel any different, so he got up and found, to his astonishment, that he was a biped. He walked to a clear puddle of water, created by the previous night’s rain, with the aim of lapping up some of the water and washing away the foul taste of “morning mandibles.” Henry was greatly dismayed when he saw his reflection on the still surface of the puddle; staring back at him was – arguably, at least – the face of a man. “It is certainly not a handsome face,” he thought. “In fact, it reminds me of a sun-bleached pile of cow dung, completely desiccated and ready to turn to powder at the slightest touch. If it weren’t for those beady, shifty blue eyes, I’m not certain I would call it ‘human’ at all.”

Henry Dung-Beetle walked back to his burrow, musing that he would now be able to create dung balls of truly enormous size. His neighbors, however, were horrified by this transformation, and it wasn’t long before their fear had turned into hatred. They drove Henry away, with a ferocious barrage of dung-balls. Henry shook his fist at them. “I’ll show you!” he said between clinched teeth. “I’ll become a U.S. senator and outdo you all!”

Many years later, on a gray, winter afternoon, Henry Dung-Beetle was sitting in his office in Washington, D.C. He now went by the name Harry Reid, since a fickle public had taken to referring to all politicians as dung beetles, and, true to his word, he had become a U.S. senator. One of his assistants, Mustela Frenata, brought him a massive document, many hundreds of pages thick, and set it down carefully on Harry’s desk. Noticing that it was the final version of the new trillion-dollar budget bill, Harry puckered and unpuckered his lips several times (unconsciously working his now non-existent mandibles). His assistant spoke up. “Here it is, Senator. You know, conservatives are already referring to this thing as the biggest shit sandwich in history.” The assistant started to leave, but Harry shot out of his chair and grabbed him by the sleeve. “What? What did you say they’re calling it?”

Mustela, startled by the intensity of the senator’s reaction, repeated his remark in a low, somewhat fearful voice. “I said that conservatives are calling it the biggest shit sandwich in history. But you shouldn’t let yourself get upset, sir. You’ve got to expect that sort of thing from the opposition.”

Far from being upset, Harry’s eyes gleamed with pride. He slapped Mustela on the back and sent him on his way. Once he was alone, Harry walked over to the large office window and looked at the Capitol Dome. His lips were puckering and unpuckering almost spastically. He raised a fist and shook it, and he spoke over the years to the dung beetles who had chased him away from his home. “Did you hear that, good neighbors? The biggest shit sandwich in history! I always said I would outdo you!”

The Nation's CEO?

The White House has asked that Richard Wagoner step down as Chairman and CEO of GM.

Now, it's true that GM is asking for federal assistance. And it might be true, for all I know, that Wagoner did a lousy job (on the other hand, maybe he did a good job with what he had to work with). But isn't there something just a little...disturbing about the President of the U.S. making a call like this? Maybe I wouldn't find it quite as unsettling if the White House were also calling for Congress to take some punitive - even if only symbolic - action against Chris Dodd and Barney Frank (although that might well be interpreted as an inappropriate step for a president to take, given the division of power in government). Nonetheless, in the context of Obama's now-unmistakable goal of increasing the power of the state, I think this smells.

Update: Not everybody's on board with socialism, yet. Join the tea party!

Update II: Unfortunately, some people are on board with the whole Brownshirt thing.

Do As Al Gore Says (Not As He Does)


Looks like Al Gore must've got pinned under an avalanche of that crap on his desk; what else could have prevented him from turning out all the lights during Earth Hour? (H/T: Hot Air)

That Tears It!

The Nanny State has just upped the price of my smokes. The official spokes-rabbit of Paco Enterprises throws down the gauntlet.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sunday Funny

Pizza delivery in Obamerica (circa 2010).

Update: Perhaps the above is closer to the truth than one might think.

Update II: Suzanna Logan presents proof positive that the White House has gone a little squirrelly

Scientists Discover Purpose of Moderates

Yahoo news headline: "Big squishy blobs may fill key tracks in evolutionary time line".



Congratulations, David Brooks! You're an evolutionary placeholder!

Totally unrelated update: See Richard McEnroe's valuable suggestion.

Good Thing She Wasn't Named Director of Cultural Affairs

Hillary Clinton just keeps leaping from one success to another as Secretary of State.

Full-Auto Feminine Pulchritude

A little Rule Five action, as these lovely, corn-fed instructors illustrate the proper use of various automatic weapons (because Paco Enterprises is all about education):



Also, Troglopundit casts a critical eye on the “World’s Most Beautiful Politicians.”

Harry Reid: Scrofulous Crapweasel

Senator Reid claims that Chief Justice John Roberts lied to him during confirmation hearings.

Translation? Roberts hasn't transformed himself into a black-robed legislator. So, naturally, he has earned the ire of pickle-puss Reid.

I've got a story idea in mind about Reid; something suitably...Kafkaesque. Stay tuned...

Update: Speaking of crapweasels, David Brooks receives another (much deserved) pummeling at the hands of Robert S. McCain.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Assortment

1) The amazing Colonel Fawcett (H/T: Another great explorer, Captain Heinrichs).

2) I was afraid it was too good to be true.

3) Roger Scruton laments humanism's transition to nihilism.

4) A superb roundup of links by Ed Driscoll on the subject of liberal fascism.

5) Full-auto gun show, pretty girl, M-134: looks to me like just the best day ever.

6) The world's most glorious failures (via bingbing at Tizona). Wait, you forgot one...



7) Meanwhile, hope and change vanish over the horizon...


Photo gratefully swiped from Hot Air

8) Ghost twitterer?

By Their Snark Shall Ye Know Them

Patum Peperium takes on the Lilliputian elitists who have gone cross-eyed trying to look down their noses at someone who towers above them (H/T: The Other McCain. BTW, for those who are interested in learning how not to run a group blog - or online magazine or whatever it was - also see McCain's piece on Culture 11).

Obamandias

With apologies to Percy Bysshe Shelley (of course, since he drowned in 1822, I’ve got a fat chance of him accepting any of my apologies, but whatever).

I met a commuter from Maryland,
Who said: Two vast and headless ears of stone
Lie on the Mall. Near them on a stand,
Half sunk, a shattered teleprompter sits, its lone
And empty screen and visage bland,
Tell that its technician well understood
The shallow wiles and liberal dross,
The liar who told us, Yes we could.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Obamandias, hippest evah boss,
I made 2 trillion go 'Poof!' right here",
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, brown and sear,
The untended arugula stretches far away.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rahm Emanuel Speaks Out on the "Bonus" Issue



Hey, all a’ yez hoid a’ dis Jake DeSantis guy, right? Da eyeshade what woiked for AIG and pulled down seven hundred large in bonuses, and den got hit wit’ a whaddayacall, “compost facto” law or “bill of attainment” or sump’n dat da Feds passed dat said, Hey, we got one law for most people, but we got dis udder one for youse guys, so pay up, see ? So, frien' Jake, he says, "Oh, yeh? Well, watch my smoke, assholes", an' he writes up a letter a' resignation, but instead a' sendin' it to da boss, he sends it to da New York Times - da freakin' New York Times! Da boy's got a lotta moxie, no two ways about it.

An' ya know what I tink? I tink dis Jake bozo has a good purnt. In America, dere oughta be one law for everybody, right? And da Feds shouldn’t oughta be able to come back and shake down a few goombahs just ‘cuz dey don’t like ‘em too much. So, whedder yer a’ money bags woikin’ for AIG, or - just to give yez an example at random - a well-connected political fixer who pockets three hundred grand after attendin’ a few meetin’s at Freddie Mac, citizens oughta be able to hang on to da getus, all equal-like. Am I right?

Happy Feet Friday

Louis Jordan and his band in an “electrifying” version of “Caldonia", from 1946.

Think You’ve Got It Rough?

Try flying out of Prague's Franz Kafka International Airport.

On the Danger of Tim Geithner Opening His Pie Hole

Tim Geithner’s press conference.

NYT: Mr. Secretary, won’t the proposed plan for toxic asset disposal require huge write-offs by commercial banks?

Geithner: Oh, yeah, they’re going to get absolutely whacked. [White House handler leans toward Geithner and whispers in his ear]. I mean to say, rather, that while there will be some write-offs, they will be manageable. There’s a fair chance that the banking system won’t collapse. [W.H. handler whispers again]. Or, what I should say is, everything is under control.

AP: Mr. Secretary, you seemed to imply the other day that you thought China’s suggestion about replacing the U.S. dollar with another reserve currency was a good idea. Since your remarks were widely criticized for leading to the subsequent steep fall in the value of the dollar, would you care to comment further?

Geithner: Oh, sure. I didn’t say I actually liked the idea of the dollar being replaced by an alternative reserve currency, I just meant that, what with our enormous spending plans, the dollar wouldn’t be worth very much anyway…[W.H. handler sharply tugs on Geithner’s coat sleeve and whispers furiously] Heh, er, that is, uh, no, I don’t have any additional comments on that.

Reuters: Mr. Secretary, a lot of people have expressed concerns about the slow pace in filling the open job slots in the Treasury Department. Are you making any progress in that area?

Geithner: Well, now, I’m happy to tackle that question. We’ve just made an offer to an assistant mail-room clerk and…[W.H. handler whispers] What? A tax lien on his house? Ahmm…we’re continuing to vet a list of promising candidates.

Fox News: Mr. Secretary, how do you square the notion of these alarming budget deficits with the administration’s assertions about a return to fiscal responsibility?

[W.H. handler claps hand over Geithner’s mouth] That’s all the Secretary has time for today.

The President’s Policies Will Undermine the Economic and Political Well-Being of Our Country (Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That)

Kudos to Bobby Jindal for telling it like it is. And this comment from Dan at Protein Wisdom neatly captures the irony of those (including many Republicans) who seem to think that we can dissociate the success of the man, Barack Obama, from his success in getting his harmful policies enacted:

“[Obama] wants to take my money and leave my children in debt and make them do mandatory voluntary service, and socialize the health care system, and weaken the military, and grow the size of government, and make it more intrusive, and take away our guns, and ghettoize religion, and force physicians and pharmacists to either do things they believe to be unethical or give up practicing as part of the socialization of medicine, and make injured military pay for their treatments, and make our children wards of the state, and destroy our economy with his cap and trade schemes, and lots of other pernicious shit, but I really wish him all success apart from all that stuff.”

The power of government to do harm is infinite; the power of government to do good is limited. We have a man at the top who believes otherwise. The only success I can wish him at this point is in experiencing the kind of epiphany that is occasionally vouchsafed to the person who is a sincere seeker of truth. Whether he is, or is even capable of becoming, such a person remains to be seen; based on the evidence to date, I may be pardoned a certain, shall we say, skepticism?

Update: Welcome Outlaws!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What is the Meaning of Life?

I've wasted so much time trying to figure out so many things, when all I really needed to do was ask Don Surber.

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



I’ve always been fond of “swashbuckler” novels, and one of the best practitioners in this genre was Rafael Sabatini. A prolific author – writing some 30+ novels, numerous short stories, and several works of non-fiction (including a biography of the notorious Inquisitor General, Torquemada) – Sabatini developed a formula that usually included the following characteristics: (a) a momentous period of history; (b) an intelligent, resourceful young man, who is an adventurer, either by avocation or by accident; (c) a love interest that goes haywire but is righted in the end; and (d) one or more nefarious plotters who come within a hair of ensnaring the hero, but who are ultimately outwitted. In Sabatini’s novels we encounter Jacobites, French Royalists, Venetian patriots fighting against Napoleon, and American colonists in the struggle for independence from Britain (to mention only a few).

George MacDonald Fraser was an admirer of Sabatini, and contributed a forward to a reissue of Captain Blood (which he preferred to Treasure Island). Several of the novels were made into movies (starting in the silent film era), with perhaps the most famous being the aforementioned Captain Blood, which was released in 1935 and starred Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland (connoisseurs of pirate movies may also recall the 1942 film, The Black Swan, with Tyrone Power and Maureen O’Hara).

Although formulaic, the novels never pall, due to the elegant prose, the masterful plotting, the wry humor and the care taken in developing the personalities of even the secondary characters. Through diligent searches conducted in used-book stores and at library sales, I have assembled a collection of 15 or so of the novels (plus Torquemada and The Life of Cesare Borgia) and have yet to find one of Sabatini’s books that is not enthralling. It is escapist literature that is great fun (and who among us does not feel the need, at least occasionally, to steal away from what we are pleased to call “reality” for an hour or two?)

Impact of Obama’s Director of Cultural Affairs Already Being Felt

MGM to make new Three Stooges movie.

Sean Penn as Larry? Check.

Jim Carrey as Curly? Check.

Benicio del Toro – who recently starred as Che Guevara in a movie that runs longer than the entire Bolivian campaign – as Moe? Too sweet for words.

(H/T: Babalu)

Massive Blunt Force Trauma

Or at least, that’s what you might deduce from seeing all the red in this graph from the Washington Post linked by the Heritage Foundation.




Now, to be fair, George Bush got the process well on the way to extravagant excess; however, that still doesn’t excuse this spending spree. That part of the graph on the right that looks like Hanibal Lecter’s butcher-block table right before a meal represents the Obama budget deficits. As the Heritage piece points out, even if Obama reduces his deficits by half, we’d still be awash in red ink (which goes to show that, no matter how costly “compassionate conservatism” is, it can’t hold a candle to full-court press liberalism).

As I’ve said before, any Republican candidate for office who isn’t talking roll-back shouldn’t be given the time of day (let alone money and votes).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another Book From the Sweaty Palms of Al Gore

Smitty, at The Other McCain, brings us the profoundly depressing news that Al Gore's puffy paws have typed out yet another volume in his ongoing series of Cli-fi pot-boilers.

Perhaps it will cheer us up if we revisit the occasion of Al Gore's Nobel prize fiasco.
* * * *

The auditorium was alive with a steady murmur, as the audience waited in excited anticipation for the proceedings to commence. On the dais sat a trio of stout, elderly men in baggy, full-evening threads; with their bald heads, neat beards and flashing spectacles, they lent a mildewed academic air to the event. Seated apart from them, in an ornately-carved chair resembling a throne, was another elderly man, of regal aspect, decked out in what appeared to be the uniform of a French admiral from about the time of the Franco-Prussian war – but since this was Norway in the year 2007, it was obviously King Harald V.

One of the stout little men in rumpled suits approached the podium, and held up his hands, prompting silence from the audience. He thumped the microphone once, which elicited a loud, but brief, hum from that instrument, and then opened his mouth to speak. But he held his tongue and listened in perplexity as another, disembodied voice was heard throughout the auditorium, apparently coming from behind the curtain, stage left.

“It is a great honor . . .no, no, no . . . It is a great honor . . .yes, that’s better . . . It is a great honor . . .What? My lapel mike is switched on? Dammit, why didn’t somebody tell me?”

A ripple of gruff Norwegian laughter swept the audience, and the man at the podium smiled. “Vell, by golly, I suppose it’s natural for a feller who’s bein’ avarded de Nobel Peace Prize to haff a case of de yitters!” His smile disappeared abruptly, and he assumed a mien of great dignity, as he began his prepared remarks.

“Ladeeeeez and Yentlemen! As chairman of dis here Nobel Peace Prize Committee, I haff de honor of introdewcin’ dis year’s vinner, Mee-u-ster Albert Gore!”

From behind the curtains, a somewhat sheepish-looking Al Gore advanced onto the stage, to thunderous applause. Overwhelmed by the tumultuous welcome, he swelled with pride, looking, in his white tie and tails, like one of those gargantuan birds from the Paleocene epoch, a sort of giant, flightless magpie.

He approached the chairman, who escorted him to the chair upon which was seated His Majesty, King Harald. His nibs rose, smiled, and pumped Al’s hand as if he were jacking up a car preparatory to changing a flat. Then Al was bustled by the chairman back to the podium. Al stood by, basking in the moment, as the chairman cleared his throat theatrically, and read out a laudatory description of his achievement.

“Mee-u-ster Gore, ve, de Nobel Peace Prize Committee, take great pleasure in presentink to yew dis here avard, in acknowledgement of de contribyutions yew haff made to vurld peace by losin’ de yew-ess election in de year tew tausand, by yiminy!” Beaming, the chairman handed Al a box covered in blue velvet, containing the coveted medal.

In a long history of wooden public appearances, Al Gore had acquired the reputation of being rather like a tree; he was now demonstrating another aspect of arboreal similitude by imitating the effect of the change of seasons. The color of his face underwent a series of kaleidoscopic transitions, in a manner suggesting time-lapse photography, from a whitish green, to pink, to heliotrope, to a vivid crimson. His prepared speech forgotten, he muttered, almost involuntarily, into the microphone the only Norwegian words he knew, comprising an expression he had learned on this trip when he had inadvertently stepped on the foot of a bell hop at his hotel:

“Uff da!”

Time for Another Blairite Link-Fest!

In which I link to bloggers who matriculated in the Comment Academy of Tim Blair U.

1) Global warming jargon: Three Beers Later explains it to you.

2) Angus Dei at Tizona reminds us why we're lucky we don't live in a celebritocracy.

3) Mr. Bingley has a survivor's tale to beat all survivors' tales.

4) El Campeador draws his sword against a worthy target (one of the worthiest, in my opinion).

5) kae of Bloodnut discovers that their feet aren't the only thing fat people can't see.

6) Mythusmage reports on the death of a city.

7) TimT deconstructs an Obama speech.

8) Margo's Maid browses through the Pally personal ads.

9) KC at Pixie Place grabs El Campeador's sword and says, "Here, let me have a whack at him!"

10) Miss Red needs a tip jar.

Because If At First You Don’t Succeed…

This strikes me as an incredibly bad idea: “The Obama administration is considering asking Congress to give the Treasury secretary unprecedented powers to initiate the seizure of non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, whose collapse would damage the broader economy, according to an administration document.”

In the first place, Geithner has been incredibly slow off the mark to develop a plan for handling toxic bank assets; now we’re supposed to believe that the government is ready to take on a host of other troubled companies? In the second place, Obama has, heretofore, shown a lack of urgency (and seriousness) in pushing for a workable bank-rescue plan (including the failure to fill some 17 top Treasury positions), apparently convinced that the sheer awesomeness of his persona would serve as a viable substitute for thoughtful planning. Thirdly, this scheme opens up the possibility of more open-ended bailouts, resulting in even more massive deficit spending. And, of greatest concern, the plan expands the potential for government interference in the marketplace, and lays the foundation for genuine socialism.

The current administration appears to be trying to convert capitalism into something resembling one of those children’s baseball teams in liberal communities where scorekeeping is prohibited, where nobody loses. The difference, of course, is that political economy is not a game. Under any form of economy, somebody has to pay. Under the Obama presidency, it looks like the ones who will be footing the bill for government-sponsored excess are those who have adhered to the rules, lived within their means and engaged in truly productive activity. Way to go, suckers!


An investor in toxic assets, reviewing his portfolio.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Inside Obama’s Economic Brain Trust



Some inside dope from New York Magazine.

“Gangsters in Pinstripes and Pearls”

Part of my shtick is to write imaginary conversations between officials of the Obama administration, with accompanying photos of gangsters (as in a recent post, for example, where I had two of Capone’s torpedoes stand in for Axelrod and Plouffe).

Michael Goodwin in the Daily News seems to share my perspective.

Occupied Northern Virginia

Readers of this blog will recall that I frequently refer to Fairfax County (and environs) as “Occupied Northern Virginia.” The original intent of this expression was simply to make a light-hearted dig at the preponderance of “yankees” and other out-of-staters who have congregated here, primarily because they are employed by the federal government.

Daniel Pipes, however, reminds us that there is an aggressive contingent of non-native residents whose presence stands for something more than merely the introduction of Boston accents and the addition of Cincinnati chili to restaurant menus. Some 600 supporters of the Islamic Saudi Academy showed up not long ago to push for a zoning waiver for expansion of their “school.” Based on the report to which Pipes links, they were a bullying crowd, who shouted down and otherwise tried to intimidate Fairfax County residents who objected to the waiver. This school, by the way, “has been frequently criticized for its reported use of textbooks promoting hate and violence, its former students associated with jihad plots, reports of negligence on reporting female child sex abuse, and ISA’s former valedictorian convicted of joining Al-Qaeda and plotting to assassinate the president” (follow the links in the original story for background).

Something to keep in mind. For the nonce, I shall double the guard around the Paco Command Center.

Al Gore’s Dream

Among an increasing number of pricey, foolish initiatives being contemplated by the Obama administration, energy independence based on renewable power sources is one of the least credible. Windmills and solar power simply are not going to yield the kind of returns to justify the investment. If the president wants to get serious about reducing reliance on oil, he needs to start talking about nuclear power.

Besides, would you want your life to be guided by Al Gore’s dreams?


I thought not.

Meanwhile, Powerline has the latest on climate change.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Knock on the Door in the Middle of the Night

Hey, even if it is just Barney Frank, that’s still pretty scary. Michelle Malkin draws attention to this bit about Frank: “’There’s deeply rooted anger on the part of the average American,’ the Massachusetts Democrat said at a Washington news conference today. He said the compensation restrictions would apply to all financial institutions and might be extended to include all U.S. companies.”

Hold up, there, Elmer. The fact that we live under a republican form of government, rooted in the great American documents - the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights - boils down to this: beyond a certain point, and within fairly clearly-defined limits, it doesn’t matter a tinker’s dam how angry the “average American” is - about anything. There are certain unalienable rights – nifty phrase, what?; perhaps you’ve heard of it before – that are beyond the reach of legislation, executive fiat, judicial decree, and a numerical majority of ill-informed hotheads. No? You don’t think so? Well, Barn’, what if, tomorrow, a majority of “angry Americans” decided that it would be a swell idea to round up gays and put them in concentration camps? Or Jews or Navajos or vegetarians? Still think majority + anger = congressional authority?

Just remember this, Porky: tea-bags ain’t the only things flying off the shelves these days.

Update: And speaking of knocking on doors, Robert S. McCain has some suggestions about what to do when the Obamanoids visit.

Geithner Measured for a Chicago Overcoat



David Plouffe: So, Mr. Axelrod, I hear dat da President has went and tol’ Secretary Geithner dat his job is secure. Whaddaya make a’ dat?

David Axelrod: Why, it’s like dis, Mr. Plouffe. Remember, back in Chicago, when we tol’ a guy, what had made hisself kinda inconvenient, dat we wuz "takin’ him for a ride"?

Plouffe: Yeh, I remember. It’s like ya tell a guy one ting, but ya mean sump’n else, right?

Axelrod: Exactly, Mr. Plouffe. Ya take da edge off sump’n by callin’ it some other ting.

Plouffe: Yeh, yeh, I got it. It’s…Now, what’s dat woid…roomatism?

Axelrod: Moicy me, Mr. Plouffe, youse have went and used another malaplop expression. Da woid is “eufeminism”.

Plouffe: Oh…But what’s dis got to do with skoits, Mr. Axelrod?

Axelrod: It ain’t got nuttin’ to do with skoits. It wouldn't cuz it's a Greek woid, see?

Plouffe: Oh, well, yeh, I can see dat. So, to make a long story short, Geithner’s toast, right?

Axelrod: Boint to a crisp, Mr. Plouffe.

Housekeeping

I've fixed a couple of outdated links for blogs listed in the blog-roll, added some new ones, and deleted one (sadly, Ted Stevens retired his Scribbler's Pen site).

A Detective Paco Rerun - Detective Paco and the Drive-By Shooting

[Author's note: I linked to an American Spectator piece the other day by Hal G.P. Colebatch. That name sounded familiar, and I recollected that I had used a Colebatch in one of my old Detective Paco stories. I dug through the archives and found the story, which features Tim Colebatch, who had apparently been giving Tim Blair and Andrew Bolt a hard time. I reissue it here merely as a matter of historical interest].

I was holding up a lamp-post outside the editorial offices of The Age, cigarette dangling loosely from my lips, waiting for Sheila to come round with the car. Tim Colebatch, economics editor, had hired me to find out who had been embezzling money from his checking account; turned out, he was. He had gotten all the debits and credits mixed up, and seemed to think that just because he still had checks he couldn’t be overdrawn. I spent an hour showing him the math, and it was the easiest hundred bucks I ever made (and yeah, to be on the safe side, I insisted on cash for my fee; there were probably enough bad checks with his autograph floating around town to paper the walls of his employer’s lobby).

It was dark and a light fog had moved in and I was standing in a round pool of light like the last man in the world, when a sleek, dark sedan cruised up to the building. The driver turned the engine off, and the headlights went out, leaving the car enveloped in the night. There was just the smallest twinkle of light reflected on the window of the backseat behind the driver. Shortly, it was replaced by two twinkles: the window had been rolled down, and someone with glasses was staring in the direction of the The Age .

Suddenly, Colebatch exited the building, all coat and hat and umbrella and bulging brief case; he looked like a cloakroom that had decided to just up and take a stroll. The engine of the sedan growled to life and the car began tracking Colebatch’s pace and direction. As the car drew abreast of the economist, I saw the barrel of a gun emerge from the open window. Instantly, I sized up the situation and shouted, “Tim, get down!” He did what any economist would do: he (a) stopped dead in his tracks and initiated an internal debate as to whether he was the “Tim” so addressed, (b) wondered about the import of the command, “Get down!”, and (c) pondered idly what John Maynard Keynes would have done in a similar spot. Cursing under my breath, I went to fill my hand with the Ruger Police Service-Six .38 caliber revolver tucked into my shoulder holster, but I was too slow (I had developed carpal tunnel syndrome from too many hours practicing holding my cigarette the way Bogart did). I gazed with horror as Colebatch was hit with a hail of . . . streams of water? To my relief, Eyeglasses was furiously working the pump action on what appeared to be the Rambo Two-Gallon Master Saturator model of Super Soaker squirt gun. And Colebatch was masterfully saturated. The sedan sped away, but not before I heard Eyeglasses shout, “Step on it, Bolt!”

Colebatch had staggered backwards, mouth gaping like an astonished carp, and had somehow managed to trigger his umbrella, which opened with a loud “Whumpf!”, catching his hat and propelling it into the darkness. I ran up to the economist and helped him sort himself out. “Wha . . . what happened?” he gasped. “Seems like another drive-by shooting by those right-wing hit-men you’ve been writing about. I, uh, didn’t get a very good look at them.” I smiled to myself. I had a strong suspicion as to their identities; but I liked Bolt’s opinion pieces, and I wasn’t about to jeopardize my commenting rights on Tim Blair’s blog just to satisfy this idiot’s sense of justice.

Another set of headlights rounded the corner and stopped beside us: it was Sheila in the canary-yellow, 1938 Packard Roadster. She got out of the car and clicked over to us in her high heels. “So, Paco, who’s your soggy friend?” Colebatch’s eyes widened to take maximum advantage of the view: 130 pounds of premium blond wrapped in a trench coat, the belt cinched tight around the middle, with the most perfectly symmetrical convexity fore and aft. Her curves probably reminded him of a graph of a ten-year economic cycle or something, because he was studying her with some intensity.

“C’mon, Colebatch, we need to get you someplace to dry out.” We were driving off, when a wino staggered to a stop in front of the building, to admire his new hat in the reflection in the window.

Sunday Funny II

Kathy Shaidle has a link for those who are interested in David Frum's new career as an anti-right-wing conservative.

Update: And of course, you can always go to Are We Lumberjacks? and just start scrolling.

Sunday Funny

People are always asking me – at seminars, cocktail parties, banquets, sometimes even running out to my fully-restored 1939 Packard touring sedan while it’s stopped at a red light – “Paco, how is it that, in this time of financial chaos, economic meltdown and commercial uncertainty, Paco Enterprises is still able to rake it in?”

That’s a good question, John Q. Public, and the answer is simple: offer a good product at a fair price, and the demand will be there. For example, you might be surprised to learn that one of our most profitable subsidiaries is the academic and professional publications unit. “Surely not,” you say. “How can you do any serious volume selling magazines with names like Trends in Economics, Soil Science Monthly, and Optometry Today?”

Nothing to it. A niche market frequently presents an opportunity not only for steady demand, but in an environment where price inelasticity can yield some fat margins. And, er, a little marketing razzle-dazzle helps...









Yes, you can't overlook Rule 5.

Update: TimT - surely the wildest blogger of them all - is also in the magazine business.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Toxic Assets Are Bad Enough…

…but it’s the toxic assholes that are going to do us in. From execrable hypocrites like Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, to hapless class-skippers like Tim Geithner who has showed up unprepared for the big Final Exam, to the top waterdog himself, whose vision of his own presidency seems never to have gone much beyond fantasizing about photo layouts in People magazine – this bizarre collection of ideological idiots, parlor socialists, kleptocratic pinheads, and garden-variety morons may accomplish what our foreign foes have never come close to being able to do: turning the U.S. into a third-rate power and an economic basket case. Seriously, Obama may, indeed, wind up accomplishing a miracle; he’s coming dangerously close to making Jimmy Carter look good by comparison – hell, he’s coming dangerously close to making Jimmy Carter look competent by comparison.

Forget People magazine, Preshizzle. If you're not careful, you’re going to make the cover of this august publication:

Econ Job

36 Chambers has a fine roundup of links on the economic mess.

Totally unrelated update: Scott Ott has an important Arlen Specter update (H/T: Robert S. McCain; BTW, read the McCain piece all the way through. It's like the extra ration of rum before the beat to quarters sounds for the confrontation with the French fleet at Trafalgar).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hello, I'm the President of the United States. Here's My Card...

A Conversation Between Two of Joe Biden’s Hair Plugs

Jarvis: Top o’ the morning to you, Jack!

Jack: Back at you, buddy! Gee, it sure feels good to be alive, doesn’t it?

Jarvis: It does, indeed. I tell you, Jack; I’ve been riding shotgun up here for quite a while, and it strikes me that these may turn out to be the best years of our lives.

Jack: How so?

Jarvis: Haven’t you noticed the spring in the boss’s step, lately? The way he’s always whistling? And there seems to be a …I dunno…a new sense of self-confidence, of poise. I’ll give you an example: he hasn’t spilled soup on himself for over a week.

Jack: Yeah, come to think of it, he does seem unusually happy. The guys all feel it, too. Everybody’s roots are strong and tight; why, nobody’s worked loose since poor Jonah came out after the debate with Palin and Joe found him on the shower floor, lying there like a drowned squirrel.

Jarvis: Exactly! And you know why?

Jack: Why?

Jarvis: Because the boss is no longer the biggest dumbass in Washington!

Jack: S-a-y, I believe you’ve got something there.

Jarvis: You bet I do! I mean – c’mon! – Geithner, Dodd, even the Preshizzle, himself. Did you see him on Leno last night?

Jack: Oh, man! Talk about a gaffe! And coming right on top of that cheap junk that he gave to the British prime minister.

Jarvis: And Geithner! How clueless can you get? If the guy were a dog, he wouldn’t be able to find his own food dish.

Jack: Don’t forget Hillary and that stupid reset button.

Jarvis: Very true, very true.

Jack: Hey…do you feel rain drops?

Jarvis: Yeah, I do. Crap! Joe left his umbrella on the train, again.

Jack: Yeah, well…but he’s not the biggest dumbass in town anymore.

Jarvis: No, no; not the biggest. I mean, he’s still, you know, up there…

Jack: Oh, yeah, there’s no denying that. But he’s no longer the biggest dumbass. That’s the important thing.

Jarvis: Right.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy Feet Friday

Lucky Millinder and his orchestra, with Rosetta Tharpe on vocals, perform "Four or Five Times."

Assortment

1) Conservative Monique has a fascinating discussion with her liberal brother.

2) Richard McEnroe says the IRS is getting lonely and would appreciate some more mail.

3) Hal G.P. Colebatch explains why Australia recovered faster from the Great Depression than the U.S. did (by the way, this can’t possibly be the same Colebatch that I made fun of in one of my old Detective Paco stories; any Australian readers know of another one who might have been my target? Just curious.)

4) A thought occurred to Betsy that also occurred to me: would a law imposing confiscatory taxation on AIG bonuses represent a bill of attainder? Any lawyers want to opine?

5) Well-known shrinking violet Andrea Harris has a few mild criticisms of CNN’s absurd Jack Cafferty (who apparently loves Obama as only a mother could).

6) Blue Crab Boulevard brings us the welcome news that the Preshizzle has backed off of at least one obnoxious scheme.

Specter to Support Card Check?

If he winds up voting for this pig, the Republican brass ought to summon him to Party HQ, form a hollow square, make him stand in the middle of it, and formally snip the elephant pin off of his lapel (assuming he’s even wearing one; otherwise, Michael Steele or somebody can grab him by the suspenders and let fly with the “man-boob snap of pain”, then proceed to the application of an atomic wedgie).

According to The Hill, “Specter says he will probably cast the decisive vote on legislation that, if passed, would make it easier for workers to organize in labor unions” (which is certainly one way of looking at it). Specter stated, “Around here, and every place, you play the cards you are dealt.”

Well, now, Wild Arlen, let’s have a look at that hand...


Yeah, I thought so. Better sit with your back to the wall, chief.

This is one of the problems with RINO representation, particularly when Republicans are in the minority: one or more of them always seems to be casting the “decisive” vote on Democrat-brand legislation, and they almost always vote with the donks, thereby providing that small spark of “bi-partisanship” that Democrats can fan into a flame of PR propaganda later on.

But that’s just my opinion. Let’s see what one of Obama’s important constituents thinks:


"Hey, paisan, youse gotta do da right ting. Youse’ll have da gratitude from all a’ us labor leaders (and from da putzes on da shop floor, too, natch)."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mind Like a Steel Sieve

The awesome genius of our lawmakers has been noticed even in far off Australia.

By the way, the name "Larcenia" for a politician somehow just seems so...right.

Whoa! Everybody's getting into the act! Obama's teleprompter has a blog (H/T: Isophorone, in the comments).

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



Unfortunately, I didn't have time to compose my typical, longish, semi-thoughtful book review this week, so I'm just going to list a few interesting titles on the theme of captivity and escape.

The White Rabbit: The Secret Agent the Gestapo Could Not Crack, by Bruce Marshall, is the thrilling story of Wing Commander F.F.E. Yeo-Thomas. Yeo-Thomas, a director of Molyneux (a Parisian dressmaker, of all things), volunteered for military service in Britain in 1939. For a year and a half he coordinated activities among the different groups comprising the French Resistance, before being captured. He was tortured and ultimately sentenced to death, but succeeded in escaping from the death convoy. Nail-bitingly good non-fiction.

Churchill: Wanted Dead or Alive, by Celia Sandys, is the fascinating story of Sir Winston's adventures as a journalist and soldier in South Africa during the Boer War (including, naturally, an account of his capture by the Boers and his escape). Sandys, a granddaughter of Sir Winston, tells the story - sometimes harrowing, sometimes comical - in clear, straightforward prose. An extremely good read.

The Long Walk, by Slavomir Rawicz, is an account of one of the greatest escapes of all time. Rawicz, a Polish cavalry officer, was captured by the Russians in 1939, and sent to a gulag near Yakutsk (a city in the Russian Far East 450 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle). He escaped with a handful of his comrades a year later (acquiring and losing a few traveling companions along the way), and walked all the way to India. It is a tale of tremendous suffering, patience and courage. A remarkable story that I highly recommend.

Screwtape’s New Recruit

With profound apologies to C.S. Lewis

[Author’s Alert: Read the whole thing before clicking on the links if you want to avoid spoiling the joke]

My Dear Wormwood,

I note with pleasure that you seem, in most respects, to have hit upon the proper balance between empty (though still plausible) protestations of your conservative bona fides, and the task of undermining anything in the way of genuine conservative principles. Apparently the repeated hammer blows that I have been obliged to strike against your preternaturally thick skull have finally driven home the importance of wearing the mask. Only in this way can we fulfill the desire of our Father Below to convert a conservative renaissance into a mere reformation – the latter, of course, being far easier to manipulate to our own advantage, inasmuch as it involves bureaucracy rather than art, and exalts form over substance.

You have, acting with what appears to be a newly-acquired cunning, frequently injected the word “moderate” into your discussions of conservatism. Well done, indeed. To posit the existence – and to proclaim yourself a champion - of a higher and purer form of the very thing you seek to destroy is an admirable strategy. Take care, however, not to overplay your hand. You want to avoid creating, in the minds of American voters, the idea that you are trying to rally them around an entirely new banner (especially around one which, as we both know, is incapable of sustaining long-term support – for who was ever willing to pledge life and fortune in defense of a splitting of differences?) The goal should always be to preserve the vessel of conservatism intact, while emptying it of its significance.

On the whole, a commendable effort. But having examined the depths of my soul – a task concerning which the time expended can be measured in seconds, withered and desiccated as the thing is – I cannot claim that my admiration is altogether unmixed with disappointment. How is it, for example, that one of the Enemy’s paladins, Robert S. McCain, can mock you mercilessly without eliciting even the slightest scornful bon mot? Surely you can see, dear nephew, how difficult it is for me, under the circumstances, to absolve you of the crime of flashing the white feather. So I exhort you to gird up what, for want of a better word, I shall refer to as your “loins”, and to remember that the mission you have undertaken, while it may require the cultivation in the minds of the gullible and inattentive of an image of “middle-of-the-road reasonableness”, need not deter you from the occasional exercise of ad hominem demagoguery, particularly when such an attack, as in this instance, is directed against an adversary who is now, and forevermore will be, immune to the blandishments of your sophistry.

Your affectionate uncle,

Screwtape



Dear Uncle Screwtape,

Thank you for your kind letter. Your praise has motivated me to return to my files on Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, whence I have extracted material sufficient for at least three columns, in which I will continue my denunciations of the popular – sorry! populist- currents within the conservative movement.

Dealing with Robert McCain, on the other hand, is tricky business. You see, he has this “Rule 4” that he’s constantly talking about; it involves making enemies to increase one’s blog traffic. If I respond, either directly or indirectly, he’s likely to draw more readers – which means more potential converts to the Enemy’s cause, since, admittedly, all I have to oppose to his logic is a suave style. Besides, he is pretty fierce. I’ll certainly try to “cowboy up”, though.

By the way, uncle, I hope you won’t consider it presumptuous of me to correct you, but the name is Brooks. David Brooks. Not Wormwood.

Your loving nephew,

Worm DAVID BROOKS

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hey, How About a TV Show Called "My President, The Car"?



In the first episode, the wheels come off...

No .22 Calibers Among My Readers, I Hope

What kind of hand gun are you? (H/T: Friend and commenter Jeff S.).

Zoot!

Mark Steyn has written a wonderful essay on Don Raye, a songwriter who composed the lyrics for, among many other songs, "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", a monster hit for the Andrews Sisters in the early 1940's (special Happy Feet bonus: the Andrews Sisters performing BWBB from the 1941 movie, Buck Privates; I've linked to it before, but it's always worth another look).

H/T: Captain Heinrichs

Update: Richard McEnroe thinks he has discovered the source of Raye's inspiration:

There was a sharp Italian Boy from Old Pompeii,
He had a Forum sound that no one else could play,
He was a top man at his craft,
But then old Carthage showed up
And he was off in the draft!
He's in the legion now, blowing reveille,
He's the Big Bad Buccinator from Cohort B!

A-toot a-toot, a-toot diddle-ee-ada-toot
He blows it eight to the bar - that Roman Rhythm!
He can't blow a note unless the cornicens
Are playin' with 'im
He makes the maniples march when he plays reveille
He's the Big bad Buccinator of Cohort B!

Buccinators are really hard to blow, you see
He nearly popped a vein on "Flight o'the Bumblebee"!
The Centurion understands,
He had him scourged only once,
And he left him his hands!
He's in the legion now, blowing reveille,
He's the Big Bad Buccinator of Cohort B!

Old Carthage and its elephants the troops did scorn,
'til the Buccinator salute them with his big horn
Then the brutes trumpeted back!
Then they started to charge,
now his ass's in a crack!
He's in the legion now, blowing reveille!
He's the Big Bad Buccinator from Conhort B!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Robert McCain's Second Commandment

Link unto others as you would have others link unto you.

1) Jammie-Wearing Fool disses Prince Horse face (and a right drubbing it is, too, guv'nor).

2) It's the Obama limbo! How low can you go, Preshizzle? Richard McEnroe says, this low.

3) Dan the Man has some primo Randian PhotoShop.

4) Little Miss Attila identifies a serious rival to Obama in the next presidential election.

5) Fifty years later, Babalu reminds us that Cubans are still voting with their feet.

And note this, all you bloggers out there. Those who link to my Che Diaries are automatically in the running for the coveted Paco Enterprises "Awesomeness in Blogging Award." (That's right; it's for sale.)

Che’s Bolivian Diary – The Lost Episodes (Part VI)

September, 1967

We were a moody, disconsolate bunch as we sat around the campfire. An outsider might have thought that we were weighed down by the revolution’s lack of military success, or by the paucity of new recruits, or even by the fact that the last shipment of supplies from our Bolivian communist allies consisted of a fruit crate filled, not with ammunition or medicines or even fruit, but with yellowed old paperback copies of Das Kapital (Thanks, comrades! Just what the world’s preeminent – and starving – Marxist revolutionary needed).

But the proximate cause of our unhappiness was lunch. Each of us held a tin mess plate in his lap, staring with something very like despair at the cloudy, viscous stew that had been deposited therein. Protruding from the glop, like prehistoric mammals mired in a tar pit, were various lumps of extremely unappetizing organic matter. Pepe, who had assumed KP duties this week, stood by smiling with idiotic pride, an old rice bag tucked into his dungarees like an apron.

“What is this stuff?” I asked skeptically.

“Ah, Jefe, that is an old family recipe for arroz con pollo.”

I gingerly plucked something from my plate that bore a remote resemblance to an animal’s limb. “Very interesting, Pepe. I note, for example, that this chicken had webbed feet.”

Pepe ran a nervous finger around the inside of his grimy collar. “Well, Jefe, I didn’t actually have any…you know…chicken, so I substituted a frog.”

A dozen spoons abruptly halted half-way between plate and mouth, as if we’d been a precision eating team responding to the order to present arms.

“And instead of rice, you used…?”

“Oh, a handful or two of parched corn.”

Julio – one of our more reckless trenchermen – shoveled a spoonful of the foul entré into his mouth and bit down on something hard.

“Mierda!” He fished the mysterious object from his gob. “And just what is this supposed to be?”

Pepe took the item into his hand, rubbed it on his apron, and studied it. “Sorry, compadre. That’s a button off my shirt.”

“Well,” Augusto volunteered charitably, “it’s not as bad as those chinchilla turds he fed us yesterday.”

“Look,” Pepe said, “I already apologized for that. I thought they were berries.”

“Enough!” I shouted. I glared at my revolting meal. “More than enough. We can’t continue subsisting on frogs and parched corn and” – I shot a stinging glance at Pepe – “chinchilla turds. Now listen. I know we’re running low on ammunition, but I’m going to send someone into the woods to try to shoot a wild pig or a tapir or anything with meat on it. Who’s our best marksman?”

Pepe piped up. “Hector, without a doubt.”

“Fine. Tell Hector to get his rifle and…”

“No good, “ Julio shook his head sadly.

“Why not?”

“Don’t you remember? He accidentally shot his trigger finger off last week cleaning his pistol.”

I sighed a bitter sigh, wondering if Trotsky had had days like this (and concluding, with a keen sense of the unfairness of it all, that even in the darkest days of the Russian revolution Trotsky had never fed on chinchilla droppings). “Ok, who’s our second best marksman?”

Pepe was quick to nominate Felipe, on the strength of the latter having shot Pepe’s hat off of his head at a distance of five feet – also as a result of carelessness in weapon-cleaning. I directed Pepe to tell Felipe to take his rifle and two rounds of ammo and go see what he could find in the way of meat.

Suddenly, there was a good deal of commotion in camp with the arrival of two people driving up in an antique Ford automobile.

One was Tania, my revolutionary better half, a voluptuous communist activist who I had originally met in East Germany and who had followed me to Bolivia in order to share my struggle (and my cot). She had been in Argentina to meet with some of our contacts in Buenos Aires, and had stopped off in Camiri to see our (useless) Bolivian operatives. I was flabbergasted to see her dragging a man along with her.

In his safari shirt and vest, with khaki pants tucked into paratrooper boots, the whole ensemble capped with a solar topee, he looked like a big game hunter who had been grossly misinformed about the presence of elephants in Bolivia. He walked by Tania’s side – a little too closely, in my opinion –and a toothy smile lit up his undeniably handsome face.

Tania spoke first, trotting up to me and throwing her arms around my neck.

“Che, baby!”

“Please, querida”, I said. “Not in front of the men. You are undermining revolutionary discipline.”

She laughed and playfully scolded me. “Ah, Che! Don’t be such a bourgeois moralist. I’ve got a surprise for you! Look who I’ve brought with me; Regis Debray, the famous French leftist writer!”

I was stunned. Tania knew that we were low on everything and that we were constantly on the run. And here she comes, bringing along another mouth to feed, a mere non-combatant who would be nothing but a millstone around our necks.

“Tania, what on earth possessed you to drag this…this pen-pusher out here?”

“But Che, Reej can be a big help to us.”

Reej? I confess that I felt the slightest twinge of jealousy. At this precise moment, our guest, who had been standing by, practically wiggling with excitement, stepped forward and wrung my hand. “Ah, this is the great honneur, monsieur le Comandant! To meet you at last – You, who are putting into the practice what I have been writing about for years! One would think that you had been reading my books and articles, yes?”

Debray gave me an intensely inquisitive stare, as if expecting me to tell him that his ivory-tower drivel had, indeed, served as my revolutionary roadmap.

“Señor Debray, could you excuse us for just a moment?” He gave a baroque flourish with his hand, as I took Tania by the arm and led her out of earshot.

“Tania!” I fumed. “We need ammo, food and medicines; we don’t need a court jester!”

“Che, you’re just being pig-headed. Reej” – I gave her an angry look – “Regis, can tell the story of the Bolivian revolution to the outside world. And that is largely your story, darling. He can play Boswell to your Johnson.”

Exasperating as she could be, I couldn’t help thinking, as I gazed upon her peerless dark eyes and full, sensuous lips, that I had plans for my “Johnson” that had nothing to do with anybody named Boswell. Also, I wasn’t about to find myself ejected from my own tent again as a result of one of her temper tantrums.

“All right. He can stay for awhile. But the very minute he gets in the way, out he goes.”

I walked back over to Debray, who stood beaming at his surroundings. “This is really the life, is it not monsieur le Comandant? Fighting to help the trodden-down arise and take charge of their own destiny!”

I was about to mention that, so far, the “trodden-down” gave no evidence whatsoever of wanting to “arise”, at least for anything more important than tending their crops and their scrawny chickens. But I was finding that it was hard to get a word in edgewise with this loquacious fellow. He was sniffing the air censoriously, his big French nose apparently encountering something unpleasant. “Ah, monsieur le Comandant, forgive me for venturing my inexpert opinion, but should not the latrine have been dug farther away from camp?”

“That’s not the latrine. It’s lunch.”

He blanched, but quickly recovered as an idea occurred to him. “Ohn honh! Then I see how I may make myself useful immediately! My uncle was a great chef in France, and he taught me everything he knew. I always carry with me to these remote locations a valise with certain cooking necessities, and it would give me tremendous pleasure to prepare something for you and your men, yes?”

“If you can prepare something that tastes less revolting on the way down that it does on the way back up, it would give us tremendous pleasure, also.” This was actually a very appealing idea. It would keep Debray out of the way, and remove the opportunities Pepe had for poisoning my entire command. Yes, not a bad idea at all. Or so it seemed at the time.
* * * *

Felipe amazed us all when he returned in the late afternoon, a small wild pig thrown over his shoulder. I was rather miffed that he waited for me to conclude my congratulatory remarks on his marksmanship before confessing that he had, in fact, come across the pig while it was sleeping under a bush and had brained it with a rock; however, I was so glad that the menu for that night would be mercifully free of undercooked amphibians that I did not bother to retract my comments. Debray walked up to the men, amiably shunting them aside. “Ah, my fine revolutionary gallants, step aside and permit me to do the honneurs this evening! If you, comrade, will be so kind as to lend me your bayonet, I will have this pig skinned and dressed in the nothings flat!”

A few hours later, the men had gathered around the cook-fire, entranced by the delicious aroma of the smoking pork. Debray – apparently something of a naturalist, as well as a cook and writer – had found some wild herbs and spices which, with the addition of the condiments and sauces from his traveling pantry, had been combined to prepare what was indisputably the finest meal that had ever come our way in the Bolivian wilderness. Tania sidled up to me, and squeezed my arm

“Isn’t he wonderful?” she said. “Not just a writer, but a first-rate chef.”

“I have to admit, my little red torte, that he knows his onions when it comes to whipping up a feed.”

And it was a feast to remember. The conversation, jokes and arguments that typically characterized our meals had been replaced by an almost reverent silence as we tucked into our food, savoring every bite. I was almost beginning to be glad that Debray had shown up.

That is, until later that night, when I finally had Tania alone. We had stepped into our tent, and after that excellent meal, I was looking on her as the dessert course. I took her in my arms, kissed her passionately, and then started to softly croon the “Song of the Volga Boatmen”, knowing that her favorite sexual fantasy was to pretend to be a German countess being ravished by a Red Army private. She melted in my arms, and began nibbling at my ear. A propitious moment, she obviously thought, to lower the boom.

“Che”, she said. “I forgot to mention it earlier, but we had a little trouble in Camiri.”

“What kind of trouble? Yo–oh-Ho-oh…”

“Well…Che…baby…the reason I didn’t radio you beforehand that I was bringing Regis with me is because the police found the jeep that our contacts had made available to me parked on a side street, and they seized it. The radio code book was in it.”

“Yo-oh-Ho…Oh oh! The radio code book? You left it in the jeep?”

“Yes. It was right next to…uh…the map showing the way to our encampment.”

I held her at arms length, and I’m not entirely certain that my beret didn’t shoot off my head and flip over in the air like a pancake. Tania began babbling an explanation.

“You see, I had only expected to be in Camiri for a half a day, but I wound up having to wait there for three days because Reej” – I shook her violently – “Regis! Regis, wanted to take some photographs for the book he’s planning on writing about you, and he’s a bit of a perfectionist, and he wanted to get the pictures just right, and I guess the longer the jeep sat there the more suspicious the cops got and so they finally confiscated it, so we stole a car and – you’re hurting my arms!”

I released her and stared into the middle distance, my mind reeling. It wouldn’t take even the stupid local police very long to figure out that there was something amiss going on out here in the hinterlands, and to report it to the army. I turned on Tania in fury, haranguing her on the slackness of her revolutionary vigilance, her irresponsibility, her addle-pated carelessness, working myself up into an even greater lather than usual because this is not at all the kind of “dressing down” I had in mind.

To her credit, she hung her head submissively, crying softly. After I had expended my wrath, she looked up at me with glistening doe-like eyes and said, “I’m so sorry, Che. I guess you wouldn’t be interested in seeing the surprise I have for you.”

“Tania, I think I’ve had all the surprises I can stand for one day.” She wiped a tear from her eye. “Oh, all right. What is your surprise?”

She smiled slyly and stood with her back to me. She languorously removed her olive-drab tank-top, then unfastened her belt buckle. Her arms worked like two slow, sinuous pistons to lower, with some considerable effort, her hip-hugging slacks down over the exquisite convexity of her firm little rump, her buttocks finally popping out like two sweet rolls from a toaster. With an index finger, she directed my gaze – as if direction were needed! – to a tattoo on her right cheek. The tattoo was a likeness of yours truly, based on the famous Korda photograph (the one that, in a previous flight of silly feminine fancy, she had suggested using to market t-shirts in order to fund the revolution).

At that moment, I didn’t care if the whole Bolivian army was breathing down our necks. I fairly burst into song.

“Yo-oh-Ho-oh!”
* * * *

The next morning – rather late, I’m embarrassed to say – I assembled the men and gave them the news.

“I regret to say that, er, I have received an intelligence report indicating that our current position has been compromised. We will have to strike camp and move immediately.”

To my astonishment, the men put their hands in their pockets, shuffled their feet, and looked furtively at each other.

“So, what’s the problem?” I asked.

Felipe spoke up. “I can see the need to move on, Jefe, but, the thing is…well, Señor Debray was planning on making Pork Normandy tonight. He says it’s his specialty.”

“What?!? Look, Bolivian troops could show up here any day, now, and we need time to find a new location.”

“Yes, Che, but we caught a couple of rabbits, too, and Señor Debray promised to teach Pepe how to make lapin à la moutarde. He says…how did he put it, Pepe?... ‘it is to die for.’”

I gnashed my teeth and all but threw my beret on the ground in disgust. I was about to threaten them with a field court martial when Tania went sashaying by with a pail in her hand, to draw some water from the stream. She winked and threw her right hip out as she passed, secretly reminding me of her “surprise.” If we had to undergo a forced march, it might be days before Tania and I had another opportunity to…

“Very well, men” I said, attempting to appear as if I had been moved by the reasonableness of their argument. “We’ll delay one more day; but tomorrow morning, we strike camp and move out on the double.”
* * * *

The pork Normandy and the lapin à la moutarde that we had dined on the night before had almost literally been “to die for”, because the following morning shots began ringing out from the distant trees, smacking into the ground as we were tearing down our camp. I ordered Julio to take a few men and reconnoiter. He reported back that it appeared to be a small Bolivian patrol, but undoubtedly it would be followed up by reinforced infantry units. I told him to take our entire force and chase off the patrol, so that we would have time to escape from the main force. As they moved out, I was greatly vexed by Debray, who had duck-walked his way across the field of fire over to where I had taken cover behind a boulder. He was holding a great pot over his head by way of helmet.

“Monsieur le Comandant!” he shouted in excitement, his voice echoing inside the pot like that of a sewer worker yelling to his comrades at the top of a manhole. “This is precisely what I came to experience! I ask leave of you to accompany your brave men to the scene of the action.” I was too busy to argue, so I sent him on his way, with Julio as an escort.

A quarter hour later, the firing ceased, and my men came stumbling back into camp – carrying Debray in a make-shift stretcher.

“Coño!” I shouted. “The Bolivian patrol picked off one man, and it had to be Debray? Is he dead?”

The men lowered their burden, and Tania came running over; stooping down, she cradled him in her arms.

Pepe shook his head. “No, Jefe, he isn’t dead. But a bullet ricocheted off that big pot he had on his head and he fainted.”

Tania gently splashed some water on Debray’s face, and our Gallic hero returned to life.

“Unhhh…Where am I? Sacrebleu! My head, she is ring-ging so!”

I kneeled down beside him.

“Don’t worry, Debray. It was nothing. You’ll be fine. But we have to get out of here and make a long march over the mountains. We can carry you in the stretcher for awhile, but…”

His eyes opened wide in horror. “No, no! I wouldn’t dream of slowing you down, monsieur le Comandant! It has suddenly occurred to me that I will be of far greater use to your cause by writing about it back in France. Yes! That would be better all around, I think. So, if you will just help me to my feet, I will be on my way. My car is undamaged, yes?”

Tania was shocked. “But, Reej! You were going to provide the world with first-hand coverage of the Bolivian revolution!” The men were unhappy, too. “And you were going to teach me how to make oxtail soup!” Pepe wailed, in a reproachful voice.

Debray fumbled in his valise and threw his recipe book to Pepe. “There you go! I make you the present of it! And, my dear Tania, the difference between a first-hand report and a second-hand report is not so very large; it is nothing that cannot be disguised with a little of the poetic license, no? Now, I really must go. Au revoir, mes enfants!” Our guest ran to the car, started the ancient engine, and sputtered off down the trail.
* * * *

Three days later, having put twenty miles between ourselves and the Bolivian army, marching most of the way during a series of heavy storms, we sat under some dripping trees around a hissing fire, staring morosely at our evening meal. I twirled what appeared to be a long, gray, hairless tail around my fork, held it up to my eyes in the gathering gloom and considered it. “Pepe…”

“It’s oxtail soup, Jefe. I followed Señor Debray’s recipe.”

“To the letter?”

“Well, no, not to the letter. You see, there are no oxen in the vicinity, so I had to sort of improvise, you know? I used…”

While Pepe was talking, a tailless, and very frightened, rat scurried by his feet, lighting out for parts unknown.

“No, never mind; don’t tell me. We’ll just let it be your little secret.”

[Editor’s note: for first-time visitors who may be interested in previous entries in the Che diary, most of them are here; the penultimate one is here.]

Talking the Talk

Ninety Miles Away brings us up to speed on a few important changes in the language.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Whew! That's A Relief!

AIG is one of the companies whose problems ignited the global financial crisis, and it has been one of the largest beneficiaries of federal bailout money to date. But I guess if AIG can afford to pay out $450MM in bonuses, everything's now jake.

At Last!

Another blogger who's a shameless smoker. But as Monique points out, it's for the children - which makes for a great new ad campaign: