Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You mean thar ain't no gold in them thar hills?

Rep. Ron Paul (R - sort of - Texas) thinks maybe there isn't any gold in Fort Knox.

Heh. Someday I'll have to post a photo of the shiny new back-splash in my kitchen (shoulda kept the doors locked, fellas!)

Not even if he offered free beer

Mindless lefty bull-horn Ed Schultz of MSNBC claims he could draw a crowd of 300,000, just like Glenn Beck.

I'm reminded of a line delivered by Archie Bunker; I forgot the context, but it seems appropriate: "You could rub liver on your behind, and cats wouldn't follow you!"

Murkowski concedes

Nanook of the North Stacy McCain, on the ground in Alaska, reports that Lisa Murkowski has conceded to Tea-Party-endorsed Joe Miller.

Why would Obama want to celebrate success in Iraq by drawing attention to his economic failure at home?

Wile E. Obama, super-genius.

Most awesome excuse for a mulligan in history

Golfer's swing starts 25-acre fire.

The first Post-American Anti-American President

Former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton has referred to Barack Obama as our country’s first post-American president. As the title of this post indicates, I don’t think he went far enough.

Obama recently had the immortal rind to submit a report to the UN Commissioner on Human Rights in which, once again, he apologizes for our shortcomings (“our” signifying the America of the pre-Obama era, of course; the president has displayed no reluctance in apologizing on his nation’s behalf - rather in the manner of an attorney who, while noting his client’s many moral and intellectual deficiencies, is secure in the knowledge that he, himself, is not personally tainted). Particularly obnoxious was his inclusion in the report of S.B. 1070, Arizona’s immigration enforcement law, which – once again, for those who have not been paying attention – perfectly mirrors federal law and was passed in the first place only because the federal government was failing to uphold its own statutes and regulations. As Nile Gardiner points out in an article in the Telegraph, the reference to S.B. 1070 is intended to enlist foreign support for the administration’s opposition to this bill:
The highly controversial reference to the Arizona law serves only one purpose – to gain UN and international support for the Obama administration’s position in the face of mounting opposition from Arizona legislators and a majority of the American people. A recent Rasmussen poll showed 61 percent of Americans backing Arizona-style laws for their own states, and just 28 percent supporting a Justice Department challenge.

By doing so, Obama officials undoubtedly hope to stir up international condemnation of the Arizona policy in advance of the UN General Assembly meetings in September, which they believe will increase pressure on Arizona to back down. It is a highly cynical move that speaks volumes about the Obama team’s willingness to undercut American sovereignty and popular will on the world stage.
What makes this even more galling is that the report will wind up going to the UN Human Rights Council – whose membership includes representatives from such paragons of enlightened government as Cuba and Libya. The action is contemptible and the venue is preposterous.

If it weren’t for the short memories of voters (exacerbated by the sometime utter fecklessness of the Republican Party), I’d say that Obama had single-handedly set back the American Left for a generation. As things are, I’ll be satisfied if we can just get this guy out after one term and prevent the debut of any similar specimens for a couple of administrations. That is as far as my optimism reaches.

Monday, August 30, 2010

"Comparisons are odious"...

...as Dr. Johnson said, but ohhhh so much fun.

Apparently Death was in the bath tub and couldn't come to the door

Or maybe down at the bowling alley or gambling in Atlantic City. In any event, the old boy wasn't there when Fidel came a-knockin'.

My creative writing vehicle

Troglopundit has discovered it.

Dark doings in San Diego

Intrepid Rinos venture into Ultima Thule, escape with only their preconceived notions on their backs.

I don't know about you...

...but I think I'm going to take my shovel and head on down to North Carolina.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Batter Dictator up!

In the comments section of this post on Fidel Castro’s latest inanity, friend and commenter Yojimbo laments, “Just think if some major league team had signed Castro to a minor league contract. Look at the unfathomable human waste that could have been avoided.”

This gives me an idea. I don’t think it’s too late to nudge this plan along, so why don’t we offer a professional baseball franchise to the leaders of the Latin American Axis of Marxism: the Castro brothers, Ortega, Chavez, Correa in Ecuador and Morales in Bolivia? With this many enormous egos on the same team, the pre-season wouldn’t even be over before they all began falling out with each other.

What?!? Nobody’s benching me, asshole! Now, step aside unless you want me to go all ‘What’s the frequency, Kenneth?’ upside your head.”

The Great Americans series

In a previous post, I touched upon the bootleg whiskey business. An anonymous commenter sent a link to a story over at Reason marking the demise of the great Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, a legendary practitioner of untaxed alcoholic distillation (note: the first link in the Reason piece is to an AP story pertaining to Sutton’s defiant death; that story is no longer available, but here’s a link to the full obituary, which appeared in the WSJ). A very interesting slice of Americana.

And here's a wiki article on a North Carolina bootlegger that Old Paco chased for years - a fellow with the highly improbable name of Percy Flowers. The feds never could get a conviction; Old Paco told me that Percy bought and sold juries with the ease of a used car dealer buying and selling dubious clunkers. My father said that the man was a genius - for example, he taught himself basic structural and electrical engineering from scratch and built a huge underground still - and could easily have made a fortune doing honest work, but just seemed drawn to the excitement of the "game" (I'm reminded of one of Wodehouse's robber-barons: "He preferred his millions tainted. His attitude toward an untainted million was that of a sportsman toward the sitting bird.")

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sunday funnies

Swampie has the late great Jerry Clower.

Mrs. Paco brought this video to my attention: a squad of penguins chasing a butterfly.

And, finally, the whole front page of Steve Burri's blog.

Fidel Castro, the ultimate truther

Fiddle-dee C. says Osama bin Laden is a U.S. spy.

Hmmm. Sorry, but I'm not getting any reading at all on the credibility-meter.

Update: By the way, the Nationals have lost Stephen Strasburg to a torn ligament, but I hear they've got a surprise in the bullpen.

In Memoriam

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of the great blues and rock guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Here he is, playing some lightnin' quick acoustic guitar boogie ("Rude Mood").

Peace, baby!

Snapped another photo yesterday with the cell phone camera. This is the kind of peace symbol I can get enthusiastic about.

Oops! The photo is somewhat marred by the ghostly image of the photographer. Oh, well...


I had planned on attending the Smitty Palooza last night - always a lot of fun - and the big event by the Lincoln Memorial today, but was struck low by a sore throat.

The suave and eloquent Smitty, however, is there, so check in at the Other McCain for updates.

Michelle Malkin also has some good coverage.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I be done seen 'bout ev'rything....

...when I see a terrorist fly...

Rule 5 Saturday

June Christy and Stan Kenton team up on Stan Kenton’s Blues.

Example 597 of why big corporations are not advocates of smaller government

Matt Purple has written an article for the American Spectator that provides a classic illustration of the dangers presented by the concentration of power in the hands of those who build their careers at the crossroads of business and politics. The context? Government-supported ethanol production.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute's Tim Carney dug up a study by scientist Marcelo Dias de Oliveira. Oliveira looked at ethanol's broader environmental picture -- its ecological footprint, if you will. Between the land destroyed by crop planting, the water consumed, and the resultant air pollution, Oliveira found that ethanol does more damage than good to the environment.

This is the sort of cockamamie policy that crony capitalism produces. Currently the government spends $6 billion per year on subsidies for a fuel that isn't environmentally friendly and caused a global spasm of starvation.
Amusing sidebar: When my father, Old Paco, was a revenooer, chasing bootleggers in the mountains of North Carolina, he captured one noted moonshinist, who was subsequently convicted and sent to jail. Old Paco ran into him many years later, and, to his unending amusement, found out that the fellow had been granted a permit by the yankee government to produce ethanol. Whether any of it actually made its way into a fuel tank somewhere was something about which the “retired” whiskey maker was smilingly reticent.

A liberal talks sense (it happens, now and again)

Susan Jacoby is an atheist and a liberal, but she draws the line at the unthinking acceptance of multiculturalism displayed by many of her colleagues on the left. Doubtless I would disagree with Ms. Jacoby on most things, but, for the most part, she gets this issue right.

Cue ominous music

Jonah Goldberg – almost always an amusing writer - has a good op-ed on Obama’s utter fecklessness as a chief executive.
You've got to wonder when White House political guru David Axelrod will look at the churning pools of poll data and, like Chief Brody in Jaws, say: "We're gonna need a bigger boat."

The analogy isn't quite right, because in the movie, the shark ultimately loses. It's hard to imagine a scenario where Barack Obama and Axelrod victoriously paddle away on the flotsam of their own political wreckage. But in one sense, the analogy works just fine: This White House is rudderlessly lost at sea and inadequate to the challenges it faces.
And here are more dire diagnostics from Bill Wilson at NetRight Daily.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Happy Feet Friday

What a combo! Count Basie, Dorothy Dandridge and the tap masters Pops and Louis appear in this 1943 Hit Parade video.

From the shelves of the Paco library

In 1954, C.S. Forester turned his attention away from Captain Hornblower momentarily and wrote a series of short stories about the Third Reich, which he published in a volume called The Nightmare. It would be difficult to conceive of a more appropriate title.

In this book, Forester delves deeply into the twisted moral and psychological threads that caused an entire nation-state to meld itself with the diabolical vision of one supremely powerful lunatic. For the most part, the stories deal with the internecine struggles within and among the various components of the Nazi state: the Party, the SS, the Army, the bureaucracy. It was a world in which paranoia was not so much a form of mental illness as a principal tool for staying alive. One careless word or thoughtless gesture could send even the highest functionaries to the gallows, thus creating opportunities for their murderously ambitious subordinates.

The stories extend from the infamous “Night of the Long Knives” – Hitler’s purge of the SA (the “Brownshirts”) – to the Nuremberg trials. One theme that emerges as a prominent feature of the stories is the degree to which the lust for power can so thoroughly erode one’s moral sensibilities. This is doubtless one reason why pride is considered such a dangerous sin: it is a view of self-actualization that looks at life as a zero-sum game, in which one’s fellow human beings are almost always considered to be potential rivals, to be done down at the first available opportunity.

A good example of this phenomenon is seen in the story, “The Bower of Roses”. Spiegel – a man who has labored thanklessly under Lucas in the Party – sees his chance for advancement during the Night of the Long Knives:
…when so many people were dying, another death might not be inquired into too strictly; if Lucas were killed by his trusted subordinate, and that subordinate maintained later that he had indisputable proof – nothing written, of course – that Lucas had been involved with the plotters, then his reward would be great. Probably he would be head of the department, wielding Lucas’s power, enjoying Lucas’s prestige. Spiegel could thrill at the thought, for the little man, although he could be sick with fear, was consumed with ambition; although he was running with cold sweat at this moment he still had his clarity of vision and his remarkable capacity for summing up motives and prejudices. On the morning after the Night of the Long Knives Lucas’s death would be looked upon as the clearest proof of Lucas’s guilt. The cold heavy pistol in Spiegel’s pocket was the key that would open for him the door to power – the door which otherwise would always remain closed to him.
Forester also does a fine job in exploring the private hell of those Germans who collaborated, not because they believed in the Fuehrer’s ravings, but because they feared for their lives, or the lives of their families, or because of loyalties that had become hopelessly confused. For example, the author introduces us to a doctor at a concentration camp who slowly goes mad, and ultimately – and voluntarily - follows his victims to a grisly death. There is also the story of a Wehrmacht general – an old soldier beloved by his men – who is disgraced and dismissed because of a tactically brilliant escape from a Russian encirclement that is viewed by the Fuehrer as a defiance of his orders to, quite literally, fight to the last man. In the last months of the war, the general is restored to active service and given similar orders to defend a position in France. He reluctantly accedes to the request because of the Law of Hostages, which stipulates that the family of a “traitor” is attainted, and he wishes to save his wife; in the end, however, he defies Hitler and, rather than oversee the wanton destruction of ten thousand of his own soldiers, he surrenders after a typically brilliant defensive campaign, and only when his supplies have been exhausted and there is no longer any hope of holding out; the twist is that he is able to do this because of the heroic sacrifice made by his wife – the truth of which, in all likelihood, he will never know about.

These are vividly imagined stories that convey something of the horror of life in a totalitarian state. One might ask, though, why we should look back at the depravity of an extinct regime. The author explains, in his introduction:
It happened ten years ago; it seems certain that similar things are happening at this very moment in other countries where ruling gangs are established in power. There is no purpose in studying history unless the lessons of the past are to influence policy in the present, and present policy can only have a basis in the lessons of the past.

Former senator in the news

Alan Simpson has outraged feminists by saying that Social Security is like “a milk cow with 310 million tits.”

I’m not sure why feminists, particularly, should be outraged by this. Should any reference or allusion to mammarian organs - even those of the bovine class - be considered a violation of some kind of intellectual property rights enjoyed exclusively by the female of our species? Or did they think Alan Simpson was calling them a bunch of cows?

I’ll tell you what outrages me. The author of the article – presumably somebody with a knowledge of journalism, including its history and icons – completely missed the fact that Simpson lifted his comment almost verbatim from H.L. Mencken, who used the analogy in an editorial he wrote back in the 1930s to refer to FDR’s view of the role of the federal government.

From A Carnival of Buncombe, a collection of essays that Mencken wrote in the 1920s and 1930s ("Sham Battle" - October 26, 1936):
It may be, indeed, that the Rooseveltian or anti-Jeffersonian concept of the government as a milch-cow with 125,000,000 teats still has many years to go."

Anti-Chavez Rule 5

The outgoing Miss Universe, Venezuela’s Stefania Fernandez, registered a subtle protest during the recent pageant against the baboonocracy that currently misrules her country. Powerline has the details, as well as a photo suitable for framing.

Now, that’s a fisking!

Michael Gerson has written a piece on the Tea Party movement which Smitty at The Other McCain has subjected to an admirable fisking. It pleases in every way. Not only is Smitty’s response intellectually sound, it is aesthetically attractive, featuring the deft touch of geometrical symmetry as he lays out his counterarguments side by side with Gerson’s original remarks in a table format (an approach definitely worth stealing).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I'm really starting to have some fun with the camera feature on my cell phone. Yesterday, as I was riding the Washington Metro back to Vienna, I noticed that all the advertisements in my car were for Gillette deodorant. The ads were not in the most refined taste; however, given the frequency with which the air conditioning units on the Metrorail trains malfunction, I'd say Gillette has targeted a potentially lucrative market.

A couple of the photos are a little blurry; I took them while the train was moving, and was trying to do so somewhat surreptitiously, since the spectacle of a man in an immaculately-tailored double-breasted brown suit and Panama hat shooting pictures of B.O. alerts might have excited comment. The messages are pretty clear, though (as always, click to enlarge).

Ansel Adams. Psssh!

The Long, Hot Summer

Discretion, valor, better part of

James Cameron, having issued a challenge to climate-change skeptics to debate him, ended by showing a “discretion” streak down his back a mile wide, and cancelled a scheduled public debate with Andrew Breitbart, Marc Morano and Ann McElhinney at the last minute.

Oh, but he did take the time to call denialists “swine”. So, what, is he a Muslim and the debate would have been haraam?

As Maine goes, so goes the nation

Unfortunate, if true, says Amity Shlaes in this article, which suggests that “Live Free or Die” doesn’t mean what the President thinks it means.
It’s wrong for the president to ask for patience. The results of the government experiment are in, courtesy of the states. Double dips are more likely with policies like his. And most Americans would prefer a future that looks like New Hampshire to one that looks like Maine.
As the Archduke Ferdinand used to say, “It’s all about whose wiener is getting schnitzelled.”

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jon Meacham, standing between us and a regression to savagery

Andrew Ferguson catches former Newsweek editor, Jon Meacham, making a priceless ass of himself in an interview with Jon Stewart (by the way, has “John” with an ‘h’ become déclassé?)
To Jon Stewart—still rapt, still unsmirking—Meacham went on to cast Newsweek’s unhappy fate as an “existential crisis,” confusing the consequences of his own terrible business sense with a calamity afflicting the whole country. “Let me say this,” he said, portentousness rising. “I don’t think we’re the only catcher in the rye between democracy and ignorance, but I think we’re one of them, and I don’t think there are that many standing on the edge of that cliff.” [emphasis mine – Paco] Indeed, Newsweek was one of the few “common denominators left in a fragmented world.” And it’s not his fault that the denominator business isn’t what it used to be.

Meacham’s Daily Show appearance was a bottled sample of the narcissism that is one of the besetting sins of our press establishment, and in large part the cause of its undoing.
Big H/T to Ed Driscoll, who has much more on the subject of weekly news mags.

Not at all related, but a belated happy birthday to Emperor Franz Josef, who was born August 18, 1830.

”You were absolutely right, Sire, to sack the minister. His comment was flippant to the point of being an act of lèse-majesté. Just imagine him gawking at your new hat and uniform and asking if you had abdicated in order to play first-trumpet in a circus band!”

Go, Marco!

Marco Rubio is up 8 points over Charlie Crist.

You know who benefits most from this? Otto von Habsburg.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Full disclosure

There's been a bit of a kerfuffle in the dextrosphere over this article at the Daily Caller, which alleges that a significant number of conservative bloggers are accepting payola from the Republican establishment. Stacy McCain has responded, as has Dan Riehl, while Richard McEnroe weighs in with photographic evidence of the scandal.

I thought this might be a good time for me to come clean. Paco Enterprises has, since its inception, been in the pay of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Aside from that one purely mercenary aspect, you can always count on my complete independence. Oops! that reminds me...

"Killer 'stache, your majesty!"

Hey, you know what I want for Christmas?

A Castro piñata.

Update: The voice of the people cries out for a Nancy Pelosi piñata. Your wish is my command.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hard to beat

Smitty brings us Dennis Miller and Rep. Thad McCotter discussing the Ground Zero Mosque.

Why I make most of my book purchases online

Because you never know when the President might walk into the bookstore and the ultra-liberal, hyper-emotional shop owner will start bawling and dripping snot all over the inventory.

How about a three-dollar bill with an image of the President making a long putt?

Some folks are talking about redesigning our currency, and a few think Barry's mug would look great plastered on a one-dollar bill (others suggest a more appropriate unit of exchange for Obama's picture).

There is one upside to having a currency note with Obama's picture on it: the thing would be sure to wind up as an item at James Lileks' Engraveyard.

Numbers so big, the human mind cannot grasp them

Check out the real-time U.S. debt clock. This is what unsustainability looks like.

(Big H/T to JeffS.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sunday Funny

Have you ever suddenly remembered something that you haven't thought about for years? This happened to me this past week. Out of the blue, I recollected a great commercial that took off on Russia's stagnant culture (it was particularly appealing at the time it came out because the Soviet Union had not yet collapsed). The only thing I recalled was that it was a Russian fashion show. Sure enough, I found it on YouTube (turns out, it's an old Wendy's commercial).

Update: Here's another amusing Wendy's commercial with a Soviet theme (I don't recall having seen this one before).

So, what happened in the Australian election?

These guys explain it (so how come I still have no idea?)

Big H/T to Don Surber

Update: Skeeter in Australia explained it to me this way in response to my email inquiry:

As vote-counting finished last night, there were still a few seats still in doubt.
But it looks very much like our first hung parliament in 70 years will be the result.

There are 150 federal electorates across the country; each elects one representative to the House of Reps.

Therefore, for a party to govern in its own right, it needs a minimum of 76 seats to assure a majority vote on any legislation.

Three Independents and one Green were elected yesterday, leaving 146 seats for the two major parties (Liberal-National Coalition and Labor).

Because neither party had achieved 76 seats at the close of counting, the Parliament is "hung".

What happens next is that each major party will woo the other (cross-bench) elected members and try and convince enough of them to come on board to form a government.

A further complication is that the government must provide a Speaker, who cannot vote on a bill. This means that 77 members of like mind are required to form a stable government.

In a hung parliament, the Speaker's job is usually offered to an independent or minor party member.

At the moment, the official Electoral Commission score board is: ALP 71, Coalition 71, Green 1, Independents 3, and three seats still in doubt.

As I type this on Sunday morning, the ABC is announcing ALP 70, Coalition 72 with a likely result of 72:73.

Green will support Labor. The 3 independents are more likely to support the Coalition, but it is not a done deal yet.

Opinion is divided, but the general feeling is that the Coalition will gain in the 3 doubtful seats, and the independents are more likely to side with the Coalition, thus allowing them to form a slim majority government.

The final counting may take a week or so. Postal votes will not be counted until Thursday and final counts are complicated by our preferential voting system.
In close seats recounts are almost inevitable.

After the final count, the next step will be for each party to present to the Governor General (representing the Queen) and convince her that they can form a government.

The Coalition has gained a big majority of total primary votes from the population and will probably win slightly more seats than the ALP.

In a "hung" situation, this should allow the GG to decide in the Coalition's favour.
(Sadly, there is some doubt regarding her impartiality. Her daughter is married to one of Labor's successful candidates.)

Yesterday's voting also included a ballot for the Federal Senate, our house of review. Reps are elected for a maximum term of three years — Senators for six years.
Normally, we vote for half the senate at each federal election, so that yesterday, we were replacing those senators elected 6 years ago.

The exception is when a government calls for a "double dissolution" because they can't get their legislation passed through the Senate. In that case, all senators retire and we can get an entirely new bunch.

Each state elects its own senators. Because the votes are drawn from the entire state rather than from individual regional electorates, the Senate results can be quite different from the Reps result.

The Greens have strengthened their grip of the Senate and now have nine senators, giving them a balance of power in the upper house. This is potentially disastrous for Australia because the Greens are likely to force a Labor government into even more extreme environmental socialism (socialistic environmentalism?).

An example of this is that, during the Rudd government, the Green senators sided with the Coalition senators in blocking Labor's insane emission trading scheme — the Greens thought Labor targets for reducing "carbon" were too low.

Our morale is a lot higher than it was before the election. The big gain is that Labor's profligacy has been stemmed, at least for the moment.

Knowledge is power

And, as P.J. O'Rourke points out, the greater the distribution of knowledge, the greater the participation in power-sharing. Here's a sample:
The strength of America is not economic, military, or diplomatic. The strength of America is an idea — an idea of a place where people have information, understanding, and control over their lives. Once, during the civil war in Lebanon, I was stopped at a Hezbollah checkpoint by a teenager with an AK-47. When the young man saw my American passport I was subjected, with a gun muzzle in my face, to a twenty minute tirade about “great American satan devil.” I was told that America had caused war, famine, injustice, Zionism, and poverty all over the world. Then, when the boy had finished his rant, he lowered his gun and said, “As soon as I get my Green Card I am going to Dearborn, Michigan, to study dentist school.”

Sabotage and rape

Julian Assange, notorious Wikileaks founder, has been charged with rape and molestation in Sweden.

He's on the loose, though, current whereabouts unknown. And it's Sweden, so who knows how much jail time he would get if actually caught and convicted. Still, it's another thing for him to start sweating over. Vermin.

H/T: Kathy Shaidle

Update: Stacy McCain reports that the victims were women.

Update II: Charges dropped (H/T Mikael in the comments).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rule 5 Saturday

The great Sarah Vaughn sings Perdido.

People never learn...

...as George Moneo at Babalu reminds us.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Who elected these people?

One prop of progressivism that people tend to overlook is the increasing power of NGOs (non-governmental organizations). These private (but often taxpayer-subsidized) advocacy groups are elected by no one, answer to no one, are accountable to no one. Yet they are becoming increasingly influential, especially through their congressional lobbying and the courts.

Case in point? The Center for Food Safety got a federal judge to revoke the Dept. of Agriculture’s approval of modified sugar beets – which account for 95% of the entire beet crop, and 50% of the nation’s sugar.

And what is the Center for Food Safety? A junk-science outfit that opposes modern technology in food production. Its Executive Director is Andrew Kimbrell, an anti-business crank, who is one of the beneficiaries of the largesse of Douglas Tompkins, a tycoon who made his pile in the clothes business, sold out and decided (as, unfortunately, many rich people do) to “make a difference” (there’s some good background on these guys at Activist Cash).

I see the impact of NGOs at my federal agency, too; for example, many are heavily involved in attempting to shut down coal-fired power plants and divert resources to favored (but inefficient or untested) “renewable energy” projects.

The extent to which many policies are, in effect, being created by unelected advocacy groups is appalling. This is an area where we really need more transparency.

(Big H/T to Overlawyered)

Happy Feet Friday

The Deep River Boys provide some killer harmonizing on “Toot That Trumpet”.

Was he the last of the giants?

Fraters Libertas has a video which juxtaposes clips of Ronald Reagan and clips of the wretched trolls who are busy digging the grave of American freedom.

Democratic message for the mid-term elections: “Hey, Republicans, your mothers swim out to meet troop ships!”

Fred Barnes underscores the desperation of Democrats facing electoral apocalypse this fall. They can’t win on the issues, so they’re resorting to personal attacks.

This is pretty much like whistling through a graveyard that is populated by real vampires. With the highest unemployment rate in decades, a sky-rocketing deficit, an unpopular health care bill, and the kind of Democratic Party corruption that probably would have embarrassed even Boss Tweed, voters are focused on genuine bread-and-butter issues – and although the donks are still providing the circus, they’ve proven themselves hopelessly incompetent at turning out the bread.

Besides, the taxpayers are beginning to take offense at being drafted to play the clowns in the center-ring; therefore, it’s quite possible that the Democratic Party will go out with neither a bang nor a whimper – just a last shrieking high note on an expiring calliope.


You know, when you don’t use a defibrillator correctly, you can kill rather than help. Unfortunately, Obama and the Democrats are as inept at applying the job defibrillator as they are at everything else.

Barack Obama: not fit to tie Jimmy Carter’s shoelaces.

Swampie says, “Investigate this, Nancy!”

Richard McEnroe has some good advice for hunters.

El Cid catches Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Ground Zero District) drawing erroneous conclusions.

Enoch Root at Piece of Work in Progress puts the Ground Zero mosque in perspective.

Congratulations to the Australian dodgeball team!

What the…a remake of True Grit?!?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

From the shelves of the Paco library

I believe I may have touched on a couple of the works of Mikhail Bulgakov previously (his satirical sci-fi novella, The Fatal Eggs, and the comic gem Heart of a Dog). He is best known today for his novel, The Master and Margarita (which I have not read); but it is his first fictional work, The White Guard, that I want to take up today.

The action of the novel is set in Kiev (referred to only as “the City”) at the end of WWI. The Ukraine is in a state of political turmoil: the war is over, but such order as exists is due primarily to the presence of German troops who have not yet been demobilized; Czarist military units – consisting largely of cadets – represent the rapidly shrinking imperial element; outside of the city, Petlyura and his army of Ukrainian nationalists are closing in; and ominous tidings arrive from Moscow where the Bolsheviks have seized power. It is a remarkable and well-told story about the chaos that erupts when not only a government, but an entire society, are overthrown.

The events of all this turbulence are related primarily through their impact on the Turbin family. Two brothers, Alexei and Nikolta, are czarists, the former an army doctor, the latter a cadet corporal. They live with their sister Elena, whose husband, also an army officer, has departed – supposedly to link up with Denikin’s White Army approaching from the south, but in reality to flee Russia altogether. There are various artfully-drawn hangers-on, including a kind-hearted but hopelessly clumsy and socially awkward cousin who shows up at the house unexpectedly for a long visit - complete with several bulky trunks and a caged canary - just as Alexei stumbles in the door, half dead from a bullet wound.

Bulgakov uses the swirling changes, the dramatic alteration of individual and collective fortunes, to demonstrate both the strengths and the fallibilities of human beings in circumstances of social break-down, the enormous pressures turning some into spiritual diamonds and crushing others into dust. There are scenes of narrow escapes, of deeply moving kindness, of unquenchable hatred and truly mindless violence. And throughout all, there is the Turbin family, shaken to the core by the passing of the old world, and by the potential horror of the new world striving to be born, but never failing in their love for, and loyalty, to one another.

For those who have ever imagined what it’s like to go through a catastrophic social collapse – or for those who simply enjoy watching a brilliant author bring his fictional characters to life – you can hardly do better than read The White Guard.

In search of Nancy Pelosi’s brain

Nope, nope. Still can’t see it. Ah, well. She might not even have used her brain to come up with the idiotic notion that opponents of the Ground Zero mosque ought to be investigated.

There’s really no need for an investigation, anyway, since Confederate Yankee has already come clean.

Death of a Giant

Bobby Thomson – who hit “the shot heard round the world” in the final game of the 1951 National League pennant race, leading the New York Giants to victory over the Brooklyn Dodgers in “the miracle at Coogan’s Bluff” - has died at age 86.

The great Red Smith immortalized the contest, and Thomson, in one of his most famous columns.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Caroline Glick provides it in an article on the proposed New York mosque.
But for Obama, there are some groups who must be denied the same civil rights he upholds as absolute in his defense of the plan to build a mosque at Ground Zero. As Obama has made clear since his first days in office, he believes that Jews should be denied the right to their property in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria simply because they are Jews.

OBAMA IS so firm in his belief that Jews should be denied civil rights in Israel's capital and in the heartland of Jewish history that he has provoked multiple crises in his relations with Israel to advance this bigoted view. Almost from his first day in office Obama has struck out a radical position in which he has insisted that Jews must be prohibited from building anything - synagogues, homes, nurseries, schools - in Judea, Jerusalem and Samaria on land they own. Jews - Israeli and non-Israeli - should be barred from exercising their property rights even if their construction plans have already been approved "in accordance with local laws and ordinances."
H/T: Seraphic Secret

Barry says all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds

Hey, I'm serious. The President is sure we're headed in the right direction.

"Don't turn here; keep going straight. And, no, we don't need to stop and ask for directions."

Julia Gillard...Republican?

No, no, no; not that kind of Republican. An advocate of Republican government, as opposed to a constitutional monarchy.

I don't have a dingo in this fight, but I'd be interested in hearing what my Australian readers have to say on the subject.

Update: Splendid comments, folks! Thanks for taking the time.

Constitution down!

If the United States is ultimately transformed into a kind of giant UK – complete with dysfunctional, government-run health care, cultural upheaval due to lack of immigration enforcement, and a disarmed citizenry – it won’t be because we didn’t have any clear-eyed, brilliant political diagnosticians. Dr. Thomas Sowell, in his latest essay, continues to sound the alarm:
While the kings of old have faded into the mists of history, the principle of the divine rights of kings to impose whatever they wish on the masses lives on today in the rampaging presumptions of those who consider themselves anointed to impose their notions on others.

The Constitution of the United States is the biggest single obstacle to the carrying out of such rampaging presumptions, so it is not surprising that those with such presumptions have led the way in denigrating, undermining and evading the Constitution.
Read every urgent word of it.

Obama's comments on the proposed new mosque beginning to unite Democrats

Unite Democrats against him, that is.

Cold Fury has a few "mild" criticisms of the President on this issue.

Flintlocks don't kill people; people kill people

Ricketyclick has an interesting piece on the correlation between gun ownership and lower crime rates.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Czar deposed

Obama’s “Transparency Czar” has been whisked away – not to Ekaterinburg, but to the Czech Republic, as ambassador. His duties have been handed over to an ex-lobbyist who is, to put it mildly, not a fan of disclosure.

Hypocritical, of course, but, really, what was the Preshizzle to do? He doesn’t need an Opacity Czar; that’s the one thing he’s good at, himself.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

For every humorless progressive action, there is a hilarious conservative reaction

Andrea Harris has the perfect riposte to the anti-Tea Party crowd.

How low can he go?

Gallup has the Prez at 42% approval. As always, every time I see one of these things, I can't help but wonder, why isn't it lower?

Immigration death wish

When tolerance evolves into nothing more than indifference to one's own cultural heritage, then it is no longer a virtue. No nation has an obligation to permit its society to be undermined and ultimately destroyed through immigration, legal or otherwise. Here are two object lessons for the U.S.


France (H/T to Captain Heinrichs for this one).

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sunday Funny

Visual funny plus Chuck Norris fact, all rolled into one!

Update: Hey, Fidel! I quit!

From the Cordoba House Suggestion Box

Smitty has an excellent idea about alternative sites and symbolic architecture for the infamous mosque planned for New York.

Punks shooting spit-wads at a battleship

"Progressives" take aim at Charles Krauthammer.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rule 5 Saturday

June Christy sings the Heart of San Antone.

First in war, first in peace, first in line at the mosque

Hey, if the preshizzle wants to acknowledge Islam during Ramadan, I'm ok with that (just don't forget those warm regards to us Christians on Easter Sunday, Barry!)

But I'm at a loss to understand precisely what he means when he says that "Islam has always been a part of America." Unless some Muslim tourists in England got conned into boarding the Mayflower for a three-hour tour - a three-hour tour - I don't see how Islam has had an impact in America since the early days.

Although, if we're going to rewrite American history, I'd like to go first!

* * * * *

It was a somber George ibn Augustine Washington – emir of the Army of the Continental Brotherhood - who pushed back the flaps of his tent on another day of relentless, bitter cold at Valley Forge. He looked with an aching sadness about the camp. Many of his men had removed their turbans and keffiyehs, and wrapped them around their frost-bitten hands and feet. The chill breeze brought to his nose the disturbing (yet maddeningly exquisite) scent of a haraam meal – bacon, most likely, or perhaps ham. Of all the dangers that beset his troops, it was this violation of Quranic law that bothered him the most; yet, in this valley of icy torment, where starvation seemed always to be standing, like an invisible angel of death, beside the men while they crouched before their pitifully small fires, he could not find it in his heart to condemn them. And in this he was justified, for doth not the Qur’an say, “He hath forbidden you only carrion, and blood, and swineflesh, and that which hath been immolated to the name of any other than Allah. But he who is driven by necessity, neither craving nor transgressing, it is no sin for him. Lo! God is Forgiving, Merciful”?

Washington pulled his Persian lambskin coat more tightly about his tall frame, and settled his qaracul hat securely on his head as he began his rounds.

“As-Salamu Alaykum”, he said, with forced cheerfulness, to a group of men gathered around a tiny campfire.

“Wa alayka as-salam”, the men called in unison.

“Have you eaten this morning, brothers?”

One man – a small fellow with a massive beard – said, through chattering teeth, “Yes, emir. A little falafel in pita bread.”

“May it please Allah,” Washington intoned, “that we will soon be dining on goat meat and rice in our own homes.”

“Oh, emir,” wailed a young soldier, who had lost two fingers of his right hand to frostbite, “when will the French janissaries come?”

“Patience, my son. The Dar al-Islam was not built in a day.”

The cold, thin air was suddenly pierced by the cry of the muezzin, calling the soldiers to prayer. As the camp came slowly to life for the midmorning observances, Washington walked over to a large oak tree, a little way from the main body of troops, removed a rolled-up prayer rug from a large interior pocket, and spread it upon the snow. In the stark gray light, he was struck by how like a pool of blood it seemed.

After performing the ritual prayers, he offered up an appeal from the heart.

“Oh, Allah the Merciful! Be thou our sword of justice, and drive before thee the red-coated unbelievers who taint this land with their eating of unclean flesh and their defilement of our women and their contempt for thy divine law! Send them running into the sea where they may be swallowed by leviathan, let the funereal ululations of their wives and daughters sound throughout infernal Albion! Arm us with the martial prowess of the Prophet – Peace be upon him! – and under thy banner of the crescent and stripes guide us to victory over the infidel British and their pig-eating German hirelings! And if it so please thee that we should be defeated, assist us in accepting the inscrutable workings of kismet.”

Suddenly a rider galloped into camp, the snow muffling the pounding hooves of his charger; Washington ran to the courier and grabbed the horse’s bridle.

“What news have you, lieutenant?”

“Emir Washington! I regret to report that Emir Horatio ibn Robert Gates has declared himself caliph and is seeking to have you deposed!”

“Bismillah!” Washington cried in a rage; he began issuing orders to his staff officers, calling for the assembly of his troops.

“We will crush this upstart’s forces, and I will personally strangle him with my own bowstring!”

“But, Emir,” one of his aides interposed. “What about the British?”

“Bah! They are mere dogs of unbelievers. Gates is a schismatic, a viper nestling in the very bosom of the Continental Brotherhood. I want six volunteer suicide bombers, this instant; they are to assassinate his family. But he is mine! Allahu Akbar!”

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mystery solved

Many - including me - have wondered why Obama really wanted to be president. Is it an ego trip? Is he power-mad? A secret devotion to the Washington Redskins?

Well, now we know. It was the generous vacation leave.

Happy Feet Friday

Paul White wants a zoot suit with a reet pleat, while Dorothy Dandridge places an order for a brown gown with a zop top.

From the shelves of the Paco library

What ho! Time for another Wodehouse review.

I have been very fortunate over the last few months in finding some of the Master’s novels that had eluded me until recently. Today’s pick is Indiscretions of Archie. The circumstances are similar to those occurring in many of Wodehouse’s books featuring non-recurring characters: young man marries rich girl (in this case the daughter of yet another hotelier), young man experiences numerous unhappy run-ins with stern father-in-law, young man makes everything all right in the end.

The young man this time around is Archie Moffam (pronounced “Moom”) – genial, kind-hearted, not extraordinarily intelligent (one instantly recognizes one of Wodehouse’s basic “types”). The novel opens with an encounter between Archie and his future father-in-law, the intimidating American millionaire, Daniel Brewster, in the lobby of the latter’s New York Hotel, the Cosmopolis. Archie complains about the service – he had left his boots outside the door of his room overnight and was miffed at finding them untouched the following morning, unaware that this was not the custom in American hotels – and sets the stage for the unpromising beginnings of his absorption into the Brewster family.
‘There is a shoe shining parlour in the basement. At the Cosmopolis shoes left outside bedroom doors are not cleaned.’

‘Then I think the Cosmopolis is a bally rotten hotel!’

Brewster’s compact frame quivered. The unforgivable insult had been offered. Question the legitimacy of Mr. Brewster’s parentage, knock Mr. Brewster down and walk on his face with spiked shoes, and you did not irremediably close all avenues to a peaceful settlement. But make a remark like that about his hotel, and war was definitely declared.

‘In that case,’ he said, stiffening, ‘I must ask you to give up your room.’

‘I’m going to give it up! I wouldn’t stay in the bally place another minute.’
Two weeks later, of course, Brewster receives the explosive news that his daughter has gotten married. And, lo! when he finally meets his new son-in-law, it is none other than Archie.
There was one of those silences. Mr. Brewster looked at Archie. Archie gazed at Mr. Brewster. Lucille, perceiving without understanding why that the big introduction had stubbed its toe on some unlooked-for obstacle, waited anxiously for enlightenment. Meanwhile, Archie continued to inspect Mr. Brewster, and Mr. Brewster continued to drink in Archie.


‘Yes, father?’

‘Is this true?’


‘Have you really inflicted this - this on me for a son-in-law?’ Mr. Brewster swallowed a few more times, Archie the while watching with a frozen fascination the rapid shimmying of his new relative’s Adams-apple.
Mr. Brewster comes around, very grudgingly, to putting up his daughter and Archie in his hotel until his son-in-law finds work (not an imminent prospect, given Archie’s somewhat vague strategy: ‘The general scheme was that I should kind of look round, you know, and nose about and buzz to and fro till something turned up.’) Thus commences Mr. Brewster’s long nightmare.

As usual, it is not the plot that intrigues us so much as it is Wodehouse’s sheer inventive zaniness and the multitude of comic touches: A few samples:
Professor Binstead had picked up a small china figure of delicate workmanship. It represented a warrior of pre-khaki days advancing with a spear upon some adversary who, judging from the contented expression on the warrior’s face, was smaller than himself.

* * * *

It would have pained Peter deeply, for he was a snake of great sensibility, if he had known how much his entrance had disturbed the occupant of the room. He himself had no feeling but of gratitude for the man who had opened the window and so enabled him to get in out of the rather nippy night air…He was a snake who took things as they came, and was prepared to rough it a bit if necessary…When at home, he had an eiderdown quilt to sleep on, and the stone of the window-sill was a little trying to a snake of regular habits. He crawled thankfully across the floor under Squiffy’s bed. There were a pair of trousers there…They were not an eiderdown quilt, but they would serve. He curled up in them and went to sleep. He had had an exciting day, and was glad to turn in.

* * * *

Much has been written of the emotions of the wanderer who, returning to his childhood home, finds it altered out of all recognition; but poets have neglected the theme – far more poignant – of the man who goes up to his room in an hotel and finds it full of somebody else’s dressing-gowns and bulldogs.
It’s all great fun, and a welcome distraction from our current woes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More government intervention is almost always the wrong solution

Even when the problem is the historical impact of racism, argues Amy Wax. John McWhorter discusses Wax's book, Race, Wrongs and Remedies: Group Justice in the 21st century.

I've suddenly developed a strange new respect for James Caan

James ("Sonny") Caan proclaims: "I'm an ultra conservative."

(H/T: Ace)

I'm Back!

Updated and bumped: On my mini-vacation, I did find time to do some volunteer community service work. By the way, this reminds me of a story that my older son told me. You will recollect that he is a tattooist. Well, another fellow, who fancies himself as an amateur tattooist, decided to tattoo his name on his own chest - while looking in a mirror. My son and his boss had to fix the result.

Feel free to alert the media.

Had a great trip down to Midlands (a small town not far from Charlotte, North Carolina), where there was a small gathering of the Paco clan at Bro Paco's house. For amusement, we did some target shooting, and I got to try out my brother's Colt AR-15, and my nephew's Springfield Armory .45 pistol (I also used up some old .38 spl. ammo with my Ruger Police Service Six). My nostrils are still savoring the aroma of the gunpowder, and I recollect with pleasure the slight ringing in the ears after an hour or so of shooting. The day was capped with a splendid meal prepared by sister-in-law Paco, consisting of beef tenderloin, green beans, small, tasty potatoes, and sourdough bread, washed down with - what else? - sweetened ice tea.

I should mention, as well, our side trip to Outdoor World and the Bass Pro shop, an enormous store for the outdoorsman (and possessing a fine selection of hunting rifles and shotguns, plus one of the best inventories of ammo I've seen in a great while).

I see that the Comment Academy had a stimulating session in my absence. Glad to see the place was left in good hands.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Assortment (and open thread)

I’ll be offline for a couple of days (takin’ a trip to see my father, Old Paco), so feel free to talk among yourselves.

Here’s an assortment to get you started.

Theodore Dalrymple contemplates book thieves (now, I’m a pretty honest fellow myself; however, if you happen to leave a first edition of Build My Gallows High lyin’ around somewhere, you might want to make sure you have it chained down).

Apostasy and schism among the unbelievers.

At least one Muslim thinks that pitching a high rise stick in the eye is a bad idea. On the same subject, Moonbattery has some interesting architectural suggestions.

ICE employees issue a vote of no confidence in their leadership.

Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd demonstrate that, actually, breaking up is a whole lot easier than patching things up.

If Bill Buckley had used the kind of illustrations in his political essays that the Classic Liberal does, we’d be looking back fondly on the two-term Goldwater administration.

Sunday Funny

Nobody does the funny like Iowahawk.

Will the New Hawaii 5-0 go "Jack Bauer"?

Could be, says says Jason Apuzzo over at Libertas. The focus of the remake will be the struggle against terrorism (although there are obviously countless ways Hollywood could mess this up).

And while you're visiting Libertas, be sure to read David Ross's essay on modern art.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Rule 5 Saturday

Carol Adams shows how a hot foot can make anybody dance.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sad Sacks

Dr. Stacy McCain identifies three cases of Republicans who suffer from "testicular atrophy".

Michelle Obama launches the biggest invasion of Spain since Tariq ibn-Ziyad

Mr. and Mrs. Obama have demonstrated, once again, that, in the great Dance of Statesmanship, they both have two left feet.

At almost the very moment that Michelle Obama is descending on Spain with her enormous entourage (which will take up 60 rooms at one of the most expensive hotels in the world), the State Department hit upon the great idea of posting a travel advisory for African-Americans:
Fox News reports that prior to the first lady's arrival, the State Department had issued a travel warning to Americans advising that "racist prejudices could lead to the arrest of Afro-Americans who travel to Spain." The wording was reportedly removed from the State Department website Monday, ahead of Michelle Obama's arrival in the country Wednesday.
Maybe her merry band includes a squad of diversity-trainers.

Happy Feet Friday

Benny Goodman and his band perform a medley of tunes (1937).

The power of mockery

Lexington Green ("Which", the judge intoned, "I strongly suspect is an alias")* has an interesting post at Chicago Boyz on the absolute necessity of tearing down the sham superiority and the absurd pretensions of the ruling class.

Incidentally, I heard about Green's post on Mark Levin's show this evening, as I drove home from work - more than an hour later than usual, courtesy of the #&**@ Washington Metro.

*The parenthetical remark will be familiar to readers of P.G. Wodehouse.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The omens are good

Parked by the curb outside of my office building today, I spotted an interesting sight: a small blue truck, registered in Maryland (a heavily Democratic state) to a union guy (International Union of Operating Engineers), that had this bumper-sticker:

Sorry, Nance, looks like even your zombie army is starting to show signs of disaffection.

From the shelves of the Paco library

Alec Waugh, like his more celebrated brother Evelyn, was a novelist, biographer and travel writer, perhaps best remembered today as the author of the semi-autobiographical (and, at the time, scandalous) novel, The Loom of Youth, and of Island in the Sun, a novel that dealt with decolonization and race relations in the Caribbean.

Today, though, I wanted to highlight his biography of Thomas Lipton, of Lipton’s Tea fame. The Lipton Story: A Centennial Biography (published in 1950) describes the life of one of Britain’s most interesting self-made men. Born in very modest circumstances to an Ulster-Scots couple in 1850, Lipton exemplified the very best aspects of the full-throttle capitalism of the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1865 he sailed for New York; however, the labor market being tough in the north, with the return to civilian life of so many soldiers (the Civil War had recently concluded), he headed south, picking tobacco in Virginia, harvesting rice in South Carolina, and eventually winding up back in New York where he worked in a grocery store. He returned to Scotland after four years in America and went to work in the small provisions store his father had established with the savings he had managed to set aside from his life as a farmer in Ireland and a laborer in Glasgow. From an early age, Lipton was an indefatigable go-getter, ultimately establishing his own provisions shop, specializing in the sale of butter, eggs and Irish ham. Through hard work and personal economizing, he slowly acquired capital, opened new shops, and branched out into the sale of tea. Following the sound advice of his mother, he cut out the middle-man whenever possible, and purchased tea plantations in Ceylon, where the industry was just beginning to take off. He also created affiliates in the United States, and became an extraordinarily popular figure in America – perhaps the best goodwill ambassador Britain ever sent our way.

Lipton was an early British exponent of the value of advertising and sometimes took it to comical lengths – as, for example, in the following instance:
That spring when he visited Ceylon he travelled on the Oratava. When the ship ran ashore in the Red Sea his reaction to the accident was typical. The captain having given orders that some of the cargo was to be jettisoned, Lipton persuaded one of the engineers to cut him out a stencil, and while the other passengers were hurriedly packing such luggage as they could carry by hand into the lifeboats, he was hard at work painting the slogan, “Drink Lipton’s Tea,” onto such of the abandoned bales as would be likely to float in the shallow water.
Although an upright Scotsman, Lipton somehow managed to become a close friend of Queen Victoria’s wayward son and heir, “Bertie” (Waugh’s book, in fact, gives one of the most admirable summaries of the troubled relationship between Victoria and the future King Edward VII that I recall ever having read). As he grew in wealth and fame – and, it is important to note, in philanthropy – Lipton became acquainted with the uppermost crust of British and European society, yet always maintained his direct, down-to-earth, genial nature.

He was a lifelong bachelor, and one might say that work was his wife (or mistress), save for the obsession that overtook him in late middle age: his quest for the America’s Cup. Over the years, Lipton financed five challenges – losing them all – but he benefitted hugely from the good will he sowed in America as a result of being a good sport in defeat. His last visit to New York, before his final return to England (where he died in 1931), was celebrated with a ceremonial dinner, hosted by the mayor of New York City, Jimmy Walker. A gold loving-cup, the idea for which was originally suggested by Will Rogers (and subscribed for through the donations of American citizens), was presented to Lipton, who was so overcome with emotion at this genuine outpouring of affection and esteem, that his prepared remarks had to be read by someone else.

This is a fascinating look at an extraordinary, and extraordinarily honest, tycoon, whose active life happily coincided with an era that welcomed, rather than penalized, free enterprise.

Well, that seems to cover everything

Smitty has the post title of the week.

The only person who can save Newsweek

is Jim Treacher (just ask him).

If they do make Treacher editor-in-chief, I will subscribe to the magazine myself, maybe even take out a full-page ad.

Hey, guys, if at first you don’t succeed...

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: “It might have been.”

Carol has redesigned her closet

Carol's Closet has a great new look! And a fine post on the use of all that stimulus money. My personal favorite? "$700,000 to study why monkeys respond negatively to inequity".

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

An Australian Demurs

Boy on a Bike comes across a complaint from someone who thinks that cyclists are mere road-cloggers. He chides the commenter in gentle Australian fashion.

25% of Missourians Support ObamaCare

Heh. That's probably how the MSM would report it.

Of course, the relevant number is the 75% who oppose ObamaCare.

Time to put out an APB on Julian Assange

Marc Thiessen, in his latest Washington Post op-ed, points out that the U.S. not only has the right to shut down WikiLeaks, but to nab its founder, Julian Assange.
With appropriate diplomatic pressure, these governments may cooperate in bringing Assange to justice. But if they refuse, the United States can arrest Assange on their territory without their knowledge or approval. In 1989, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel issued a memorandum entitled "Authority of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Override International Law in Extraterritorial Law Enforcement Activities."

This memorandum declares that "the FBI may use its statutory authority to investigate and arrest individuals for violating United States law, even if the FBI's actions contravene customary international law" and that an "arrest that is inconsistent with international or foreign law does not violate the Fourth Amendment." In other words, we do not need permission to apprehend Assange or his co-conspirators anywhere in the world.
This might seem to be an extraordinary thing to do; however, as Thiessen says, "WikiLeaks is not a news organization; it is a criminal enterprise."

Exactly so. Assange's goal is to undermine our nation's security. He ought to fit in just fine at Gitmo.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Listening at the mirror

Longtime readers may recollect that, awhile back, I mentioned a tale from Jorge Luis Borges’ anthology of mythology and folk tales, The Book of Imaginary Beings. The particular story I referenced originated in China, and relates how, in the distant past, all living things had doubles. For generations they lived in peace with one another; however, in an evil time, one set of doubles waged war on the other, defeated them, and imprisoned them in mirrors, so that the images one sees in the glass are actually the vanquished, condemned to the slavery of mimicking the motions of their captors. But the tale ends on an ominous note – or rather, on a note of hope for the defeated – because it is said that the prisoners in the mirror are growing rebellious, and if one listens closely, one can occasionally hear the clattering of swords and the distant roar of tigers.

This yarn came to mind as I read through a score or so of blog posts this past week dealing with the increasingly imperial attitude of the federal government, and the truly disturbing tendency of the political class to view citizens as if they were essentially little more than puppets, to be manipulated without any constitutional let or hindrance. This stance was ominously evident in remarks recently made by Rep. Pete Stark of California. Yes, he’s one of the more prominent leftist ideologues in American politics, but his world view – that there really are no practical restraints on the government, constitutional or otherwise – is not at all rare among Democrats, and poses a threat even at the level of the Supreme Court, where, more and more frequently, it appears that our liberties hinge on the outcome of a 5-4 split (the mere fact that there are so many 5-4 splits should serve as an object lesson to those who believe that the judicial system will ultimately bail us out of the worst excesses of the executive and legislative branches).

But there is a deeply-felt attachment to personal liberty that animates what I believe is still a majority of Americans. And there is a spirit of rebellion in the air, as exemplified by this post at Investors Business Daily (“Will Washington’s Failures Lead to Second American Revolution?”), and this one at Confederate Yankee (“A Nation on the Edge of Revolt”). There are many – and I am one – who will not willingly submit to the capricious edicts of a political class that refuses to acknowledge the existence of basic individual rights that are beyond, and secure from, the writ of the president and congress.

So, when you stand there in the morning in front of your mirror shaving, Congressman Stark, listen closely. You just might hear the first sounds of the gathering storm.

Slack immigration enforcement claims another innocent life

An illegal alien, who had been arrested twice before on DUI charges and was awaiting deportation, but had been released by ICE pending "further proceedings", struck and killed a nun in Prince William County while driving drunk a third time.

(H/T: Mrs. Paco)

A titan of industry considers a loan request

It was after 10 pm when a light knock, barely more audible than the noise of a distant raccoon banging a pecan against a rock, sounded on the closed panel doors of the library of J. Packington Paco III.

“Enter”, the great man said, as he idly waggled the lit cigar in his hand, creating a double helix of smoke.

The doors opened with a soft swoosh, revealing the imposing form of his gentleman’s personal gentleman, Spurgeon.

“I beg your pardon, sir, but …sniff…Senator Kerry is here to see you. He urges the extremity of some unnamed misfortune as the cause of this unseasonable intrusion.”

“Send him in, by all means, Spurgeon. And don’t scowl, so. Frankly, I have rarely entertained a senator without some ultimate profit to myself.”

As respectful as he was toward the industrious rich – men like his revered employer, for example, who, with their brains and energy and cunning, had amassed great wealth – Spurgeon harbored a deep-seated contempt for spongers and drones, especially for mere arrivistes who had gained positions of influence by virtue of the marriage bed. Yet his overriding sense of professionalism prohibited him from expressing his disdain for the aforementioned senator, except for the slight self-indulgence of an almost undetectable dilation of the nostrils.

“Very good, sir.”

A moment later, the well-known senator was ushered into J.P.’s sanctum sanctorum. The titan of industry rose to greet him, with the smile of pecuniary expectation that blossomed on his face whenever he encountered a member of the politician class.

Kerry – tall and saturnine, with a face like a garden spade and hair resembling a nicely maintained badger pelt – walked hurriedly into the room and took J.P.’s outstretched hand.

“Senator, what a delightful surprise! May I offer you some refreshment? A drink, perhaps?”

Kerry, looking more than ever like the thing Mary Shelley really had in mind when she wrote her famous novel, accepted the offer with alacrity. “Yes, yes, thanks…whiskey…neat, if you please.”

J.P. cocked an inquisitive eyebrow at Spurgeon, who nodded and glided silently to a small table, where a generous selection of spirituous beverages was arrayed in cobalt-blue, Victorian-era crystal decanters. Spurgeon picked up a decanter filled with Macallan (1947) and glanced at his employer; J.P. surreptitiously held up two fingers, signifying an order for a double. Spurgeon poured the whiskey into a tumbler, placed it on a silver salver, and presented it to Kerry – who grabbed the glass, knocked back the whiskey, wiped his mouth and asked for another.

In spite of his ingrained self-control, Spurgeon’s nostrils were now flaring like those of a bull in the arena that had just been introduced to an emaciated Spaniard wearing tight satin trousers and waving a little red cape. He took the liberty of addressing the senator.

“You found the whiskey…the Macallan 1947…to your liking, sir?”

“What? Oh, yes, fine, fine. Although I’m really more of a bourbon man.”

Thinking inwardly that, whatever else the senator might be, he was certainly not a Bourbon, Spurgeon suggested (with a wryness that escaped Kerry) that doubtless he could send a footman into one of the less prosperous precincts of the city in search of a bottle of Old Crow, if the senator preferred.

“No, no, some more of this stuff is ok.”

Having refreshed Kerry’s drink, Spurgeon withdrew in high (but concealed) dudgeon.

J.P. waved a hand in the direction of the wing chair in front of his desk. “Won’t you have a seat, senator? If I may say so, you appear a trifle distracted.”

“You don’t know the half of it, J.P. You see, I’ve got this little…financial problem.”

“Do go on, senator.”

“Well, I’ve been docking my yacht in Rhode Island to avoid the high taxes that my home state of Massachusetts charges, and the newspapers found out and now I’m stuck on the horns of a dilemma. I can tell the state of Massachusetts to pound sand – which I’ve got every right to do, my lawyers tell me – but then, the media will make me out to be some kind of fat cat who thinks high taxes are alright for everybody else but not for me. Which is, in point of fact, my view, but it’s not the kind of thing that helps at election time. Or, I can pay the taxes and ingratiate myself with the little people. I’ve decided that I need to do the latter, but here’s the rub: Teresa won’t give me any more money!”

“And why is that?”

“Aw, she pitched a fit when Barney Frank and I decided on kind of a whim to open a little donut stand near the Capitol Building. We thought it would bring in some pocket money, be sort of a lark, you know? Teresa really kicked about that idea, but in the end she staked us. And everything was going along pretty well, until Barney got the notion that it would be fun, and maybe get us some publicity, if we worked behind the counter ourselves one afternoon. I agreed, and one day around one o’clock in the afternoon – after the end of the congressional work day – Barney and I worked at the stand. Things were going fine until the city health inspector dropped by and happened to see Barney carrying the donuts from the kitchen to the display racks.”

“I don’t see anything remarkable about that.”

“Well…er…Barney wasn’t using his hands.”


“So, we got shut down and Teresa lost her investment, and on top of that, she had to spread some money around to keep the story out of the papers. She told me that, from then on, all I would get from her was my allowance. She has flatly refused to give me the money to pay the taxes on my yacht.”

“I see. And how much are the taxes?”

“Five hundred thousand dollars. Not really so much, when you think about it, but that would pretty much eat up my annual allowance.”

J.P. lit a fresh cigar, flicking the match into the onyx ashtray on his desk. “And you would like for me to lend you this money?”

“That was the general idea.”

“And what do you offer as security?”

Kerry stared at J.P. blankly. “Security? But…I’m John Kerry!

J.P. permitted his head to rest on the back of his chair, his hard, cold blue eyes peering down his nose at the senator; he might have been a vulture considering the palatability of a dubious piece of carrion.

“Yes, indeed…You are John Kerry; however, it is generally considered bad practice in negotiations to lead off with your weakest point. Meaning no offense, senator, but your wife is your primary source of income, and I believe I am right in assuming, from your previous remarks, that her personal guarantee is not forthcoming. And five hundred thousand dollars is…five hundred thousand dollars.”

Kerry frowned moodily, then brightened suddenly as a thought occurred to him.

“Say, I’ve got some valuable Vietnam War memorabilia; I could pledge that.”

“What sort of memorabilia?”

“Well, there’s my famous lucky hat, the one that the special forces guys gave me when I was transporting them by boat into Cambodian territory one Christmas Eve.”

J.P. smiled. “I beg your pardon?”

“Ok, ok. I didn’t actually cross over into Cambodia, but I came within a few miles of it.”

J.P. slowly shook his head from side to side.

“Well, I might have been nowhere near Cambodia, and, come to think of it, it was actually Ground Hog Day...”

“What else do you have?”

“A pair of Ho Chi Minh’s rope-soled sandals and some boxer shorts that belonged to General Giap.”

“Aside from the questionable market value and liquidity afforded by these items, I wouldn’t dream of depriving you of your mementos in the event of a default. No, I believe I have a more satisfactory alternative. Why not go for the obvious? A lien on the yacht.”

Kerry squirmed in his chair and brought his whiskey glass to his lips, only to discover, sadly, that it was empty. Accepting the inevitable, he agreed. “I guess I could go along with that. By the way, what kind of interest are you going to charge me?”

J.P. beamed and spread his hands in an expansive gesture. “Why, no interest at all.”

“Well, that’s fine! Very generous of you.”

“I always try to accommodate our hard-working public servants when I can. There is, however, one small favor you can do for me, in lieu of interest charges.”

“Name it.”

“I find that my supply of Cuban cigars is running low. Perhaps you can pop over to Bermuda in your yacht and pick up a hundred boxes. I can arrange for my tobacconist to meet you and he’ll take charge of the loading.”

“Hmm. It’s a little dicey. It’s illegal to bring those into the U.S.”

“Well, it was just a thought. I suppose it would be safer to charge you interest, after all.”

Kerry quickly suppressed any legal qualms he might have had. “No, no. I’ll be glad to bring back your cigars.”

“Splendid! We can meet at my bank tomorrow morning and close the deal.”

After seeing Kerry to the door personally (motivated as much by a desire to insure that the senator didn’t absentmindedly walk off with the odd obect d’art as by the courtesy due to a guest), J.P. called Spurgeon into his office.

Resuming his seat behind the desk, J.P. proceeded to outline his plan to Spurgeon.

“I would like for you to call our man Higgins in Bermuda. Tell him that, in a couple of weeks, a yacht will be putting in belonging to Senator John Kerry – it’s a 76-foot sloop called Isabel. I will follow up later with the exact date. Higgins is to find a hundred or so empty Cuban-cigar boxes, stuff all of them, save three or four, with rags or newspapers. The remaining boxes he is to fill with hashish. Tell him to seal all the boxes and then load them on the boat.”

Spurgeon ventured a query. “But, if I may say so, sir, won’t the senator be taking an enormous gamble?”

A booming guffaw emerged from the depths of J.P.’s voluminous frame.

“Mwaha! A gamble, indeed! One he is bound to lose, since the roulette wheel is fixed, so to speak.”


“I intend to leave nothing to chance. Shortly before Kerry is to arrive back in the states, I will alert the Coast Guard – anonymously, of course – to the fact that the senator is bringing contraband into the country on his yacht. The boat will be confiscated and put up for auction, and I will be very surprised, indeed, if I don’t succeed in snagging it for a fraction of its estimated seven million dollar value - particularly since I intend to arrange with one of my government contacts to auction the thing in Oklahoma. Not much likelihood of being outbid for a sea-going yacht in a landlocked state at an auction featuring used HP printers, what?” J.P. entered into a momentary reverie. “I think I shall rechristen it The Jolly Codger”.

Spurgeon gazed upon his employer with something bordering on reverence. He said, in an awed tone, “He would be proud of you, sir”, nodding in the direction of a portrait of 19th-century American robber-baron Jay Gould, which enjoyed pride of place above the hearth. J.P. rose and walked over to the fireplace, gazing at the portrait with a mixture of affection and respect. “That is high praise, indeed, Spurgeon. Do you remember what Jay said to his confederates, as they escaped from New York one step ahead of the law?”

Spurgeon looked off into the middle distance, eager to recall the words exactly.

“’Don’t worry, boys; nothing’s lost, save honor.’ That is the precise phrase, is it not, sir?”

“That is the phrase, verbatim, Spurgeon! Will you not set aside your feudal prejudices for the nonce and join me in a glass of Macallan, 1947?”

“With pleasure, sir!”

Update: Linked by that discriminating literary critic, Smitty