Sunday, February 28, 2010

Art’s good for you, so pony up, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer

With tiresome regularity, another artiste has spoken out in favor of increasing public funding for his profession. David Thompson demurs (H/T: Tim Blair).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against tax money being used to promote art, within reason; for example, I really like the Korean War Memorial. But it’s a bit much for artists who make careers out of insulting the middle class to whine that that same middle class should be forced to fund their output. Surely there are enough well-heeled liberal elitists out there who either despise their western cultural heritage, or put a premium on bizarreness for the sake of bizarreness (or both), to make the kind of art I’m talking about a paying proposition on a (gasp!) capitalist basis.

Is Britain Finished?

I’d like to think not, but when I read things like this and this, I have to admit that I’m not optimistic.

(Second item courtesy of the excellent Word Around the Net)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sunday Funnies

How about if we make the biathlon a little more…interesting?

Drat! Looks like the Burris beat out Detective Paco on the Paul Ryan security contract (these cheeseheads really stick together).

Update: A little too close to the truth, but still very funny, is this vision of the Obamocracy:



Via Dad 29 and Stacy McCain

Rule 5 (Addendum)

Kristin Davis - the Manhattan Madam who numbered Eliot Spitzer among her clients - is running for governor of New York, apparently on the Libertarian ticket.

You gotta admit, she's got a very attractive, er, platform.

Massive Earthquake in Chile

An earthquake having a magnitude of 8.8 struck Chile this morning (Tim Blair has a video news-report from Santiago). Mrs. Paco is presently trying to find out if her people down there are ok.

H/T: Captain Heinrichs

Update: Live-feed (in Spanish).

Update II: Mrs. Paco's family is ok. Our prayers go out for those many others who lost their lives and homes.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Go for the Gold!

Ok, there's not actually any gold involved, but you might rate a mention if you enter TrogloPundit's Official Obama Health Care Summit Demotivator Contest. Here's the photo:



By the way, what is it with this guy and the way he flips you the bird by sending his middle finger crawling up the side of his head like a bald woolly-booger? Look, Preshizzle, if you want to maintain your middle finger cred, this is how you do it.

Anyhow, here's my contribution:

Nancy Pelosi thinks you are stupid



You know what we got here, Clyde? Why, what we got is the most ethical Congress in the history of these United States. Don't believe it? Just look over there at Charlie Rangel. The House rules committee found him guilty of gettin' his hand caught in the til. And you know what? Someday we might even ask him nicely to step down from his position as head of the House Ways and Means Committee - although, on second thought, maybe not; there ain't nobody knows the ways and means like Charlie, and that can be kinda useful. Still, he got his wrist slapped with a rolled-up copy of the New York Times, so why don't we just say he paid his debt to society and move on?

Rule 5 Saturday

Patsy Cline’s got those “Lovesick Blues”.

Assortment

From the blogprof: Sarah Palin fact-checks ObamaCare.

I thought the Preshizzle told John McCain the campaign is over? Not so, says Ruby Slippers.

Arts & Ammo discusses vomitus gratia artis.

The Eye of Polyphemus sees troubled waters.

Richard McEnroe has some superb military photos.

From El Campeador: if you can’t trust Democrats on health care, how can you trust them to fight anthrax?

Gee, it sure felt like justice.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy Feet Friday

Take a little ride on the Texas & Pacific with Louis Jordan and his Tympani Five.

Looks like facts trump "first class temperament"

I didn't have time to watch or listen to the health care debate, between the president and his Democratic mamluks on one side, and their Republican opponents on the other, but, according to this piece at Powerline, the GOP's team came out on top. It seems that Obama came across as arrogant and testy (and, occasionally, ridiculous, by trying to dismiss inconvenient facts as irrelevant details). Also, how stupid is this presidential comment: “I don’t think Tom we’re going to have another one of these because people don’t have 7-8 hours a day to work some of these things through." You don't have to understand it, you bastards, just pass it!

Update: Nice analogy from Smitty at The Other McCain.

Update II: Polite, but relentless and merciless criticism of Obama Care from today's summit by Wisconsin's Paul Ryan.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

At Last!

A political group that I can support without qualification.

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



The place is India, the year, 1857. In the first few months of this year of destiny, a number of strange events has officials of the East India Company baffled: the friendly rajah of Kishanpur has been assassinated (to all appearances, by his wife); a guru sits beneath a tree in the town of Bhowani, uttering dark prophesies; above all, there is the mystery of the nightrunners, native men who move along the jungle trails and across the dry plains, from city to village to cantonment, carrying chupatis, small unleavened wheatcakes that serve as a sign, inscrutable to the English, of a conspiracy that is rapidly reaching the point of its terrible fruition.

John Masters, whose biographical Bugles and a Tiger I reviewed in an earlier Shelves feature, takes up the Sepoy Rebellion in his novel, Nightrunners of Bengal. It is an incisive fictional treatment of the tangled relationship of England and India in the mid-19th century, a fascinating look at the clash of cultures and the combination of ignorance, cupidity, ambition, and divided loyalties that came together at a moment in history to create a whirlwind of horror and destruction - but a moment that also led to astounding displays of courage, determination, generosity and self-sacrifice, among both the English and native Indians.

The story centers on Rodney Savage, captain in a regiment of the Bengal Native Infantry based in a cantonment near the fictional town of Bhowani. Upon the assassination of the Rajah of Kishanpur, he is ordered to make a show of force in the independent princedom, where he is beguiled by the Rajah’s widow (the Rani). He both fears and admires her, and strongly suspects that she is the author of her husband’s death. She eventually offers him the command of her army, going so far as to physically seduce him, but he ultimately turns down her offer.

Returning to Bhowani, Savage is caught up in the tedious rounds of life in a cantonment, filled with the malicious gossip of its womenfolk, the heavy drinking, the sense of purposelessness, the ennui somewhat ameliorated by the pride he has in his regiment of sepoys. He is plagued by the attentions of an earnest, forward and (apparently) priggish young woman named Caroline Langford, who has come out to India to visit, and whose eagerness to understand the country greatly tries his patience, largely because she asks intelligent questions about the larger picture of the relationship between Britain and India that he has ceased to think about (he will later come to see her in a much different light, as he witnesses her compassion and selfless hard work during an outbreak of cholera).

While life on the surface continues as usual, there are all kinds of ominous portents. Rumors abound among the sepoys that the new cartridges they have been issued are greased with pig and cow fat, the strange nightrunners with their chupatis are fanning out through central India, and a small wagon train of weapons bound for Kishanpur is discovered by accident after a wild, late-night horserace by drunken English officers.

When the blow finally comes, the English are taken completely by surprise. On May 10, the sepoys mutiny, killing all of the English they can find - men, women and children. Rodney’s wife is bayoneted, his young son severely injured and left for dead, his fellow officers and their families cut down before his eyes, the cantonment is burned. He and his son are helped to escape by two sepoys who refused to join the mutiny, and he later meets up with Caroline Langford and Piroo, a wiry little native carpenter and “retired” assassin of the thuggee cult. Together, they recuperate at a village, where they experience the pity and hospitality of the natives who are as horrified by the rebellion as they are. They eventually make their way to the city of Gondwara, where a small force of Queen’s troops and a loyal detachment of Bengal cavalry prepare to meet the onslaught of the mutineers.

The novel is rich in period detail, possesses an exciting plot, and delves far more deeply into the psychology of the principal actors and the turbulent relations between Britain and India than can be conveyed in a brief summary such as this, so get hold of this book and treat yourself to a great read.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Vermont State Motto: Syrup and Socialism

Well, no, actually, it's "Freedom and Unity", but the first half of that phrase has certainly been obsolete for as long as Vermonters have been packing Bernie Sanders off to the U.S. Senate. Sanders, as probably everyone knows, is the senate's only avowed socialist (kudos to Bernie for at least being honest about it).

Comrade Sanders was recently seen providing an example of Godwin's Law, or at least a corollary thereof, by comparing climate change skeptics to those who ignored the threat of Hitler back in the '30s. So, climate change = Hitler, and climate change skeptics = ...I dunno...America First? Charles Lindbergh? Ed Driscoll carries Sanders' analogy to its absurd conclusion, with the sarcastic formulation, "fluctuating temperatures equals invading Europe and killing six million Jews."

Is there a movement in favor of Vermont seceding and joining Canada? If not, let's get busy. And please pardon my own indulgence in a variant of Godwin's Law...


"All within climate change, nothing outside climate change, nothing against climate change."

(Photo lifted from Moonbattery)

Unrelated, but also found at Ed Driscoll's site, this hilarious nugget:
What’s Obama’s standing in DC these days? Perhaps this headline offers one clue:

“Jimmy Carter Upset About Being Compared To Obama.”

Monday, February 22, 2010

Smoke 'em while you've got 'em

Stacy McCain points out a good reason to support Rick Barber: his GOP primary opponent supported a 500% increase in cigarette taxes.

If Barber opposes the tax increase, that would make him sorta...Reaganesque.

I Guess Harry Reid Needs to be Reelected So He Won't Beat His Wife

From Gateway Pundit:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suggested Monday that domestic violence by men has increased due to U.S. joblessness.

Reid, speaking in the midst of a Senate debate over whether to pass a $15 billion package meant to spur job creation, appeared to argue that joblessness would lead to more domestic violence.

“I met with some people while I was home dealing with domestic abuse ["at his home?", Jim Hoft asks]. It has gotten out of hand,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “Why? Men don’t have jobs.”
Now, domestic violence among unemployed men may well have a tendency to increase (are gals immune, incidentally?), but since the previous "jobs" bill did not lead to a noticeable increase in employment, what's different about this one?

Property rights? What a quaint idea!

From friend and commenter Jeff S. comes this ominous bit of news from Investors Business Daily:
You did the responsible thing. You saved in your IRA or 401(k) to support your retirement, when you could have spent that money on another vacation, or an upscale car, or fancier clothes and jewelry. But now Washington is developing plans for your retirement savings.

BusinessWeek reports that the Treasury and Labor departments are asking for public comment on "the conversion of 401(k) savings and Individual Retirement Accounts into annuities or other steady payment streams."

In plain English, the idea is for the government to take your retirement savings in return for a promise to pay you some monthly benefit in your retirement years.
Kleptocracy, anyone? Remember, my fellow Americans: eternal vigilance.

demotivational posters
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Employee of conscience (suspended employee of conscience, that is)

A senior officer at Amnesty International has been fired because she objects to appearing on the same platform with Taliban stooge Moazzem Begg.

The Real Steal Deal

The president has finally unveiled his own health care proposal, and perhaps the most notable thing about it, aside from its enormous cost, is the inclusion of price controls on insurance company premiums.

Eureka! Price controls! Hey, I bet nobody else in the history of the United States ever thought of that!

Allah Pundit has the details, and the inside baseball strategy, on this bill. The health care “summit” coming up this Thursday looks to be a complete joke (“Hey, how about if all you Republican senators meet with me and we can discuss why you’re against health care reform, before a national audience”). I think the Republicans should have just said, “Thanks, but no, thanks”, and issued a statement blistering both the dishonesty of the summit idea and the half dozen most noxious features of the president’s proposal.

Meanwhile, Marc Thiessen says, meet the real obstructionist.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Justice" Barack Obama?

Ed Lasky at American Thinker marvels at the ability of the Washington Post's Jeffrey Rosen to get it so wrong. From a recent article by Rosen:
[Obama's] too detached and cerebral . Too deferential to Congress. Too willing to compromise . And he's too much of a law professor and not enough of a commander in chief, as Sarah Palin recently admonished.

These are some of the qualities for which the president, rightly or wrongly, is criticized. They are also the qualities that make him well suited for another steady job on the federal payroll: Barack Obama, Supreme Court justice.
Lasky responds:
I am sure I am not alone in failing to see how Barack Obama measures up to these qualities. The "smackdown" alone that Rosen mentions reveals he does not have the temperament, and then there are plenty of instances of his rush to judgment ("the cop acted stupidly") and his hectoring ("I am the only one standing between you and the pitchforks") and straw man arguments, his hyper-partisanship, his blame-shifting; and his history of misunderstanding the law.
No, Ed, you are not alone. I, too, fail to see how Obama ever got the reputation of being "cerebral" (or "too cerebral", as it is usually phrased). What on earth has he done, what has he ever said or written, to make people believe that he is a deep thinker, a first-rate cogitator, a visionary politician, a top-flight statesman? You don't need a first-class mind to be filled with hubris, and even the most arrogant of our presidents have rarely suffered so many pratfalls, so early in their presidencies. Rosen has endowed Obama with qualities he clearly does not possess, and is thus touting him for a job (another job) for which he is manifestly unsuited. Be sure to read Lasky's piece for a short, but comprehensive, fisking of Rosen's hallucinatory ravings.

Another great thing about dogs

They're civilized.

Sunday Funny


(From the folks at Very Demotivational.)

Update: President Obama asks the Dalai Lama to do him a favor on his way out of the White House.


"So, bottles and cans over there, newspapers over here, right?"

(Photo gratefully swiped from The Camp of the Saints)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Australia Gets First Saint

Mary MacKillop to be confirmed as a saint by Pope Benedict XVI.

Stacy and Smitty at CPAC (Video!)

Stacy McCain and Smitty discuss the importance of keeping it real at CPAC (Smitty, by the way, is the one who looks like a lawyer for Murder, Inc.; Stacy puts me in mind of Pittsburgh Phil Strauss).

Update: Smitty - the T.S. Eliot of the cybersphere - is also posting a series, The Protocols of the Elders of Cthulhu (I refuse to ever try to spell that word again). And yeah, I know, I know; H.P. Lovecraft. The Eliot allusion is based on Smitty's possession of a large store of literary, historical and mythic knowledge.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Paco’s Diary (an Occasional Feature)

February 19, 2010

The boss came in this morning and, after puttering around for a few minutes, shuffled into my office to blab. We get along fairly well, but I can’t say that it's a particularly enjoyable experience, primarily because of his unpredictability. He’s one of those moody fellows, all smiles and amiability one day, a carping and irascible sourpuss the next. I think he was born that way, but a long career dedicated principally to protecting his own gluteus maximus from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune seems to have exacerbated this manic tendency, and his promotion, after many years, to a very senior position that requires little in the way of actual work, gives him far too much time for thinking deep thoughts and playing at being a strategist. Today his vinegar content was on the high side, so he could think of no better conversational topic than a suddenly-perceived need for my division to work on increasing its visibility in the organization. My suggestion - that the best way to accomplish this goal was for all of us to start wearing tweed plus-fours, or maybe togas - was not well received.
* * * *

One thing I’ve learned (to my dismay) is that on the rare occasion when I actually have a good idea, it tends to be by accident. Mrs. Paco called and expressed concern about an ice dam that had built up at the edge of the roof in the back of the house (there was a little trickle of water running on the inside of the window in the master bath). I facetiously suggested that she hang out of the window with a blow-dryer. She called me back about an hour later and, in her best “Eureka!” tone of voice, told me that it had worked; she had, indeed, leaned out of the window and held a blow-dryer to the section of the gutter which connected to the downspout at that corner, and a sufficient quantity of ice had melted to allow the gutter to start draining properly.

* * * *

I posted a link on my blog a couple of days ago that led to a story about a woman reporter who asked Joe Biden about the “bruise” on his forehead; this question arose during a press conference held on Ash Wednesday. Biden, a Catholic (perhaps nominally so, but that’s between him and God), had been to Mass and received the traditional ashes on his forehead. The really disappointing thing was that the reporter was supposedly Catholic, too, so she should have known better. In any event, a commenter at the original web site quoted Dennis Miller as saying that it’s not that Biden is a Catholic, it’s just that Obama puts his cigarettes out on Joe’s forehead; a bit of imagery that left me in stitches.

Rule 5 Saturday

The harmonious Dinning Sisters give us the lowdown on Clancey the Cop.

At least the chipmunk's cute

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Maybe the priest bopped him on the forehead

Joe Biden: a shlamazel as well as a schlemiel (H/T: Alarming News).

Happy Feet Friday

Ahhhh- hah! Bob Wills and the boys belt out Ida Red.

Whack-A-Lib!

Kathy Shaidle expresses some mild distaste for hippies.

At the American Spectator, R. Emmett Tyrell, Jr. laughs at Joe Biden.

Don Surber finds Biden boldly predicting past events.

Jennifer Rubin catches Evan Bayh sticking straw in his hair.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Those Big Blog Bucks!

Stacy McCain has a good post up about Hot Air's acquisition by Salem Communications, which also owns Townhall.

I think I'll put Paco Enterprises on the block. Let's see how it goes!

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



Celebrated in novels and movies for generations, the French Foreign Legion is one of the world’s best-known military forces. In Legion of Strangers, Charles Mercer has written an enthralling history of this organization, each chapter highlighting either a particular campaign or the details of daily life.

The Legion was formed almost as an afterthought by King Louis Philippe in 1831, with the aim of collecting some of the many exiles in France who had fled violent political and dynastic squabbles in Italy, Austria and Spain, and sending them abroad to serve the interests of empire:
During the first year of his reign he saw one of those opportunities to kill two birds with one stone when a Belgian adventurer who called himself the Baron Böegard made him a proposal. Böegard offered to enlist the fractious exiles who brawled through the streets of Paris in a “Légion Étrangère” and lead them to North Africa to aid the French forces there. Wishing to rid Paris of the troublesome exiles and wanting to offset the losses of French soldiers in North Africa, Louis Philippe required little urging to accept the plan. Thereby he added one more to the long list of mercenary units which had served France.
Although the Legion has been sensationally romanticized in such novels as Beau Geste, there is, understandably, much in the basic character of the organization that makes this an almost inevitable temptation. Take, for example, the extraordinary mix of men and motives that created the unique spirit of the Legion:
All manner of men have been attracted to the Legion for all manner of reasons. It is impossible to find a craft, trade, profession, or way of life that has not been represented among the wearers of its white kepi. Members of royalty and a great variety of nobility have served in the Legion. On occasion the professional musicians in its ranks could have formed an outstanding symphony orchestra…A Spanish bishop, serving as a private, used to play the organ in the chapel at Sidi-bel-Abbès; drink had been his undoing, and he had to be well lubricated with alcohol in order to play effectively…at least one American millionaire enlisted as a private during World War I. Once, a general, reviewing a regiment in Syria, was struck by the military bearing of one private. He asked what his occupation had been before enlisting. “I was a general, mon Général,” replied the private who had been a major general in the White Russian Army…Prince Aage of Denmark…served as a captain in the Legion for many years…
Although the Legion is most closely associated in the public mind with North Africa, legionnaires fought in Spain, Vietnam, West Africa and in some of the biggest European battles of World War I. The most sacred relic of the Legion, in fact, is the wooden hand of Captain Jean Danjou, whose small force fought to the last man in Mexico against overwhelming odds during the revolution against the Emperor Maximilian.

This is a book that I have read and reread over many years, and while there are others that no doubt provide a more comprehensive and up-to-date history (Legion of Strangers was published in 1964), Mercer’s narrative is one of the most fascinating because of his focus on certain inherently interesting episodes (the ghastly march into the Sahara by a column of 300 French and native tirailleur troops and their running fight with Tuareg tribesmen; the war in the Kingdom of Dahomey which pitted legionnaires against the king’s “Amazon” warriors ; the bloody Rif War in Morocco that ultimately resulted in as many as 100,000 dead; the courageous but futile efforts in Vietnam). Unfortunately, I believe the book is now out of print, but it is well worth searching out.

Hit Man

TrogloPundit celebrates his one-year blogging anniversary tomorrow, and he only needs 677,000 more hits to make the one million mark. Let's get busy! I think the person who scores the millionth hit gets a case of Badger Porter.

The Neighbor from Hell

Amy Bishop - the woman who went on a shooting rampage at the University of Alabama - was, not surprisingly, an awful neighbor (H/T: Gabriel Malor at Ace of Spades)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Wheels Come Off



Since practically the first day of the Obama administration, one of the big questions has been how far down the road to serfdom Democratic senators and congressmen were willing to go in order to satisfy the President's ambitious, if initially vague, plans for an unprecedented expansion of federal power. Many went quite a long way down that road - some enthusiastically, others with great misgivings - but all are now facing the wrath of voters who have detected the smell of a socialist rat in the hope-and-change bouquet. The repercussions are already being felt: Republicans have taken the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey, a Republican has won the Senate seat once held by Ted Kennedy (the political equivalent of landing a marlin with a fly rod), Harry Reid is a dead man walking, Granny Boxer's reelection bid is threatened, and several Democrats in the Senate and House have either decided to return to private life, or are weighing the option. A year after the most over-hyped election victory in history, the Democrats are reeling; and the G.O.P., which was last seen lumbering off to the elephant graveyard, is gaining not only in actual victories, but in generic party-preference polls.

All of which goes to show that it is almost always an exercise in futility to write the obituary, or pronounce the permanent victory, of any movement, cause or political party. The flame of belief will always burn sufficiently hot to sustain a minority in defeat, and hubris will just as frequently set the overconfident victors up for a fall. There are still Nazis in the world, and probably more communists at any dozen American universities you'd care to name who ardently believe in the tenets of Marxism than there are in North Korea. And even when a particular political theory falls into disfavor, the emotions, beliefs, desires (and not infrequently, the neuroses and ignorance) that gave it life will generally latch on to something similar - e.g., green has become the new red, the totalitarian impulse shifting from dreams of the workers' paradise to dreams of the Garden of Eden variety.

So, while it is good to see the Democrats momentarily thwarted in their long-term goal of permanently codifying the nanny state, this turn of events does not, in and of itself, prove that the Reagan years were anything more than the Indian summer of individual liberty and free enterprise. Somerset Maugham once wrote, "If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too." The key is constant - not cyclical - vigilance; we may not always be able to count on the incompetence of Big Brother.

Bayh-Bayh

Hmmmm. Could Evan Bayh be considering a return to politics in, say, 2012?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dick Francis, RIP

Famous author of racetrack mysteries, Dick Francis, has died.

Do Your Part to Help Critters Like Zoro, Dozer and Arctic...

...buy a raffle ticket for the Gator Bike (A floor-sweeping tip of my cavalier's hat to Blue Crab Boulevard).

From the Inbox

Miss Red Muses links to this item about a guy who was a Marxist in college and who knew somebody else who held the same beliefs - a fellow who now happens to occupy the White House.

Little Miss Attila links to a fine tribute to Peter Gunn (I used to watch it when I was a kid; great detective show and a killer soundtrack!) H/T: Smitty

Norwegian-Givers

A cold, blustery night outside the eco-friendly mansion of Al Gore near Nashville, Tennessee. Under the cover of darkness, five strange figures crouch near the large shrubs in the front yard. One – apparently the leader – is a man wearing a white ski sweater with a red and green snowflake pattern, and a purple Laplander winter hat with long tassels hanging down over his ears. The other four are women, similarly garbed in colorful sweaters, nylon ski pants and warm-looking but fairly conspicuous headgear. The group moves across the front yard, their attempt at furtiveness somewhat undermined by the swishing noise of their nylon ski pants as they duck-walk from shrub to shrub. Suddenly the leader halts and turns to his gang.

“Shhhh! Can’t yew girls make less noise dan dat? Remember, ve are on a secret – vhich means qviet - mission, an’ yew all soun’ like a room full a’ paper cutters!”

“By gawly, Thorbjøm, it vas yer idear tew steal Al Gore’s Nobel Prize medal back! Ve shoulda got holt a’ some real guerilla gear, like black ski masks an’ dark yackets an’ cargo pants. Yet here ve stand – or sqvat, radder – lookin’ like de Norvegian bobsled team practicin’ up for Vankewver.”

“Listen, here, Sissel; it vas our committee dat recommended Gore fer de prize, based on his movie about global varmin’, an’ now ve know de whole t’ing is a crock, ve got tew get it back fer de honor of Norvay! He never replied tew our letter askin’ nicely fer him to return de medal, so it’s up tew us. Now, time is of de essence; besides, ve don’t need all dat ninya shtuff; yew yust have tew valk bow-legged-like tew avoid makin’ dat svishin’ noise, and de shadows vill gib yew all de cover yew need.”

Another member of the team piped up. “But, Thorbjøm, how ve goin’ tew get intew dat big place. It looks like vun ‘a dose mansions in Gone vit’ de Vind.

“Yumpin’ jiminy, Inger-Marie! Yew got tew larn tew t’ink positive. Maybe dere’s a vindow open somevheres.”

“Dat’s yer plan ‘A’?” asked Kaci, incredulously. “Hopin’ tew find a’ open vindow?

Suddenly, the crouching figures found themselves bathed in a bright pool of light; they had tripped a sensor and the security lamps had come on. They froze in place, resembling nothing so much as a group of mannequins in the shop-window of a sporting-goods store, set up to push the clearance sale of a discontinued line of winter-wear. The front door opened, and a corpulent man in a velour bathrobe with blue and silver stripes and black leather slippers walked out on the porch. “What’s going on here?” he queried nervously.

A high-pitched voice, unheard till now, vocalized the thought that was on everyone’s mind. “Ok, Thorbjøm,” Agot squeaked. “Vhat’s yer plan ‘B’?”

* * * *

A few moments later, the Norwegians were standing in Al Gore’s library in front of his desk. Gore lowered his bulk into a long-suffering leather swivel-chair that squealed like a baby pig pulled away from its mother’s paps.

“So, you’re professors from the University of Oslo and you stopped in to pay your respects?”

Ja, dat’s right Meester Gore,” Thorbjøm said excitedly. “Ve yust popped in tew say ‘hey’.”

Sissel nudged their leader in the ribs. “Oof! Oh, er, an’ tew say how glad ve are dat yew vun de Nobel Peace Prize fer yer gewd vork on global varmin’. Ahm…dew yew by any chance haff de medal aroun’ here someplace? Ve vould sure be delighted tew see it, by cracky!”

Al Gore rose from his chair; in his flashy bathrobe, he resembled an awning being unfurled. A smile spread rapidly across his puffy face, like a crack in the rind of an over-ripe cantaloupe. “W-e-l-l…Why, of course I’d be glad to show you the medal!”

The faces of the Norwegians fell in unison as Gore reached into the recesses of his bathrobe and pulled out his medal, rather in the manner of a farmer hauling a bucket of water up from the bottom of a well. Agot whispered to Thorbjøm, “Ve ain’t never goin’ to get holt a’ dat dam’ t’ing if he vears it aroun’ his neck!”

Thorbjøm gulped and said, in a small voice, “Dat’s de biggest silver chain I ever did see, Meester Gore.”

Gore smiled and, taking up the slack in the chain with one hand, shook it lightly. “Oh, that’s not silver; it’s triple-forged stainless steel. Wouldn’t want to lose my medal!” Becoming convivial, with the opportunity of basking in the warm glow of these obvious admirers, Gore grew expansive. “Say, it’s a cold night out; how would you all like a glass of brandy?” The Norwegians eagerly accepted this display of hospitality. Gore poured out sizeable snifters for himself and his guests and they all went and sat down around a coffee table on the other side of the room.

Suddenly, a puzzled expression stole over Gore’s face. “You know, you all look familiar to me for some reason. I could almost swear that we have met before. Did you attend the Nobel Prize ceremony by any chance?”

The Norwegians – who, as members of the selection committee, had all been on the stage when King Olaf had presented Gore with his medal – automatically pulled their hats lower and looked at their boots. “No,” Inger-Marie said, “ve veren’t dere.” Gore shrugged and tossed back his brandy.

Agot whispered to Thorbjøm, “Maybe if ve can keep him drinking, he goes tew sleep and ve slip de medal off.” Thorbjøm agreed that this was their best hope, so he proposed a toast. “Permit me tew offer a toast in yer honor, Meester Gore, for vinnin’ dat dere Nobel Prize medal. Here, let me fill up yer glass.” Gore simpered and tossed back the brandy. “Well, now,” Gore said, picking up the bottle and pouring a good-sized splash in everybody’s glass, “permit me to propose a toast to King Olaf.”

And so it went, both sides proposing one toast after another – to Michael Mann, the hockey stick, the University of Oslo, the Great State of Tennessee, Tipper Gore, Tippecanoe and Tyler, too…on and on until the room began to spin and eyelids grew heavy and the sound of communal snoring filled the air…

Thorbjøm bolted out of his chair on hearing a loud report. “Dere vas no need tew shyoot him!” he shouted. He tottered in a daze before the coffee table, blinking slowly. He groaned as he realized that he had been dreaming. Stumbling to the window, his head pounding, he pulled back the drapes and was immediately blinded by a shaft of sunlight hitting him square in the eyes. Squinting in agony, he saw Al Gore back his car out of the driveway and head off down the road. The noise he had heard must have been the front door slamming.

Thorbjøm turned to look at his colleagues, who, variously slumped in their chairs or curled up on the floor, presented a scene that suggested a drug deal gone bad. He staggered over to their comatose forms, shaking a shoulder here, nudging a prostrate body with a boot there, until the piles of gaudy winter-wear began to stir. The other members of the team slowly pulled themselves to their feet, grasping their heads and howling like the damned.

“Vhat…vhat happened?” Agot asked in a strangled voice.

“By yimminy,” Thorbjøm muttered, “dat feller mus’ haff a hollow leg. He drank us under de table. Umm…vhat haff ve here?” He bent over the coffee table – slowly, fearing that his eyes might come uncorked and his brains spill out – and picked up a sheet of note paper. On it was written a message:

“My dear friends –

You all must have been exhausted by your journey and the late hours because you fell asleep. I didn’t have the heart to disturb you, so I left you where you were. I have to be off to Washington for a few days, so kindly lock the door on your way out. You’ll find some freshly-squeezed carrot juice and soybean sausages in the kitchen if you’re hungry [ Thorbjøm’s hand involuntarily rose to his mouth to suppress a vomiting impulse]. I hope you will all stop by again sometime, and I wish you a safe trip back to Norway.

Al”

“Uff da!” Thorbjøm said between clinched teeth. “Ve haff failed.” He raised a fist and shook it at a framed photograph on the wall showing Vice President Al Gore accepting a check from a Buddhist monk. “By Odin, I’ll track him down tew de ends a’ de ert’!”

“Not tewday, Thorbjøm,” Sissel pleaded.

“No, not tewday. First, ve go by de airport an' denn ve go back tew de Motel Six an' rest."

“Vhy ve go by de airport first?” Kaci asked.

“To buy airline tickets, 'cuz tewmorrow ve are goin’ tew make a leetle trip tew Vashington!”

He was met by a chorus of angry objections, to which he held up a firm, if somewhat shaky, hand. “Laydeez, please! Is dis de ol’ Viking spirit of Sweyn Forkbeard an’ Harald Bluetooth?”

“Dey vere Danes,” Inger-Marie said, unhelpfully.

“Och! Vell, Bárður Snæfellsás, denn. De point is, ve come to get dat medal an’, by yimminy, ve are goin’ to get it!” The four women, recalled to a sense of their patriotic duty, managed a weak cheer.

Thorbjøm called a cab, and ten minutes later, five unbowed – in spirit, anyway – Norwegians piled in, ready to embark on a mission that they hoped, someday, might well justify the composition of a contemporary Nordic saga.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sunday Funnies

The People's Cube reveals the latest Obama jobs program: Govamids.

Richard McEnroe has a valentine for our old pal Wronwright.

Return Interview with Leading Chicago Citizen




Transcript of the most recent interview with Al Capone conducted by Brad Smilo of Paco World News Daily (PWND)

Brad: Good afternoon to all my listeners out there. Thanks to the miraculous time-travel technology of Paco Industries, I’m fortunate to be here at Tomaso’s Italian Restaurant with well-known Chicago businessman and community organizer, Al Capone. How’ve you been Mr. Capone?

Capone: Mmph…Cull me Ow, Bad.

Brad: What’s that? Oh…call you Al. An honor, Al. Maybe I’d better let you swallow that mouthful of pasta before I ask any questions.

Capone [taking a big gulp of Chianti]: Aaahhhh! Dat’s better. I almos’ got some a’ dat chow down de wrong windpipe. I’m doin’ swell, Brad; how’s about youse?

Brad: Couldn’t be better, Al.

Capone: Good, good. Say, ya wanna try some a’ dis baked rigatoni? Looks to me like yez could stand to put some meat on dem bones.

Brad: No, I’m fine, thanks. Al, I’m sure my listeners would be glad...*Gulp!*

[Two large thugs in baggy suits pull .45s from the recesses of their flashy haberdashery and hold them to Brad’s head]

First thug: So, youse are wired, eh, buddy?

Second thug: I taut so! One a’dem income tax dicks, boss!

Capone: Put dose rods away, ya morons ya! Brad here ain’t no stoolie; he’s a reporter. He’s here to tap my brains on, whaddaya call, current events. His listeners are his radio audience [turns to Brad]. Sorry about dat, Brad. De help is a little jumpy dese days, what wit’ de Treasury cops breathin’ down my neck. Now, whaddaya wanna know?

Brad [wipes forehead with handkerchief]: Well, as I was about to say, my audience would be interested in your take on a comment recently made by a CNN reporter to the effect that President Obama ought to channel his inner Al Capone in dealing with his opposition..

Capone: “Channel his inner Al Capone.” I ain’t followin’ ya, Brad. What de hell does dat mean?

Brad: The reporter is suggesting that the President ought to be more like you.

Capone: Well, I s’pose he must mean de President oughta give up de politics racket an’ go into de second-hand foiniture business. ‘Cuz dat’s my line, ain’t it, boys?

First thug: Yeh, boss. Foiniture.

Second thug: Dat’s right. Chairs an’ couches an’ [shoots cuffs and straightens tie] arm-mwahs an’ such like.

Brad: Actually, Al, I believe what he’s saying is that the President should be more like a…a gangster.

Capone: A gangster! Perish de tawt, Brad. Look, youse tell de President anytime he’s int’rested in settin’ up a showroom someplace, I’ll be glad to give him a few tips. For example, nuttin’ like a red tag sale aroun’ T’anksgivin’ to move out dat ol’ inventory. But when it comes to makin’ illegal hootch an’ shakin’ down shop-owners for protection an’ shootin’ up Bugs Moran’s gang – which, by de way, I didn’t have nuttin’ to do wit’ ‘cuz I wasn’t even in town at de time, see? An’ I wouldn’t ‘a missed Bugs [frowns angrily at thugs] if I had been after him, which I wasn’t…well, I’m a lawr-abidin’ citizen and youse can tell dat two-bit yellow-rag-hawker of a reporter I said so.

Brad: I’ll be happy to do that, Al. Thanks for your time, and I’ll be talking to you again soon, I hope.

Capone: Yeah, well, t’ru a screen, pro’lly, if I can’t shake dese T-men. You’d t’ink dey had better t’ings to do dan chase after a’ honest appliance salesman.

Brad: Er, I thought you said you were a furniture dealer?

Capone [sticking another forkful of rigatoni in his mouth]: Wup? Oo, shoo, shoo. Foint’cher. Fee ya ‘roun’, Bad.

Imagine the 1812 Overture Scored for Sousaphone and Accordion...

...and then try to imagine something worse. If you can conjure up a piece of music that horrible, it might well sound like the Peace and Friendship Symphony, as played by the Tehran Symphony Orchestra.
Late last month — around the time the Iranian government executed two more political prisoners, charging nine others with waging war against God, a capital offense — the Tehran Symphony Orchestra was sent on a government-sponsored tour across Europe, which just ended this week.

It played the so-called Peace and Friendship Symphony, by Majid Entezami, a four-movement jeremiad of martial bombast and almost unfathomable incompetence and silliness, originally performed, according to Tehran Times, last February in Iran to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the revolution.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Rule 5 Saturday

Helen Forrest delivers a memorable performance of “You Made Me Love You” (includes a trumpet solo by Harry James).

Today's Math Lesson

A number divided by zero is an expression that is not meaningful.

The corollary is that a number provided by zero is also not meaningful.

Update: Of course, the problem could simply be my intellectual incapacity to grasp the complex brilliance of Obama and company.


Joe Klein's view of the average American.

Whistling through the Iranian graveyard

As Jamie Fly points out in the Weekly Standard, the Obama administration seems to think that if we ignore Iran it will just go away. The talk of additional sanctions in conjunction with the same mealy-mouthed rhetoric about keeping the door open and the lack of at least verbal support for the opposition may be part of a brilliant scheme to keep the mullahs off balance, but somehow I suspect it's the same foreign-policy fecklessness that has stamped this presidency with the indelible mark of bumbling incompetence (and, unfortunately, W didn't leave a road map behind on how to deal with this problem, as he did with Iraq).


"Hey, Joe, does this look send the right signal of tough love to the Iranians?"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Shazam!

Remember those old episodes of the Andy Griffith show when Barney got credit for solving crimes and otherwise getting out of scrapes due to Sheriff Taylor's efforts?

Biden's doing a reprise of the Deputy Fife role.

Happy Feet Friday

The legendary Fats Waller plays “Ain’t Misbehavin’”.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Assortment

Maybe Gibbs would come across better if his microphone were turned off
Presidential spokes-goober Robert Gibbs took a few digs at the Tea-Party movement the other day. In the new spirit of bi-partisanship, I think Gibbs ought to meet privately with some Tea-Party folks for a frank exchange of ideas…



Incidentally, close observers of the press conference may have noticed the representative of Paco World News Daily (PWND), who responded to Gibbs and then invited his fellow correspondents to weigh in on the relative merits of Gibbs and his boss.



Department of Anthropogenic Global Stupidity.
What happens when you combine junk science with government meddling? Fatalities.

I can’t get enough of those Hitler-in-the-bunker videos!
Via Smitty at The Other McCain.

Where do I apply?
Looks like poor Ralph Kramden was born a few decades too soon.

The incumbency disease
Why Harry Reid’s coming loss will come as a big surprise to him and to him alone.

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



A little over a decade ago, I exchanged a few letters with Florence King (yes, that Florence King, the well-known essayist). What prompted our brief, but (to me, at least) enjoyable correspondence was an article she had written for, I believe, the National Review, in which she had praised the novels of an author named Anya Seton. Upon Miss King’s recommendation of Seton, I acquired Avalon, and was so impressed by it that I eagerly scooped up everything of Seton’s that I could find. I wrote Miss King a letter expressing my gratitude for having made me aware of Seton’s work, and she wrote me a charming note in return. We wrote to each other a couple of times more, discussing Seton and some other authors (I was also in Miss King’s debt for her having introduced me to Andrew Ferguson’s political essays).

And so I pass on to you my heartiest recommendation of Anya Seton’s novels. My favorites are those books of historical fiction which bear out Seton’s well-earned reputation for exhaustive research, although, naturally, it is her skills of invention, characterization, plotting and just generally fine writing that make the works so thoroughly enthralling. I will touch on one of her novels today.

One thing that stands out about Seton’s novels is the strong female characters who fill the role of the protagonists in her stories. These are not the feminists of Gloria Steinem’s fevered ideology – beings whose superiority is ironically at odds with their “victim” status and whose self-fulfillment is apparently wholly dependent on the police powers of the State - but genuinely intelligent and strong-willed women who, through force of character and determination, carve out a life of independence and, in some case, power in a man’s world. In That Winthrop Woman, Seton treats of a real-life person, Elizabeth Fones, a young woman of 17th-century England, who succumbs to the charms of a wastrel named Harry Winthrop, abandoning her engagement to another man to marry Winthrop, whose profligate ways soon lead to economic ruin. Elizabeth’s father-in-law, John Winthrop, forces the couple to join him in sailing for New England, but Harry drowns before they depart, and Elizabeth, now a widow with child, departs with her cousins for a new life in Massachusetts. The last two-thirds of the book deals with Elizabeth’s subsequent marriages, charges of witchcraft, Indian troubles, and the hard life of pioneering in pre-revolutionary America. Throughout all runs the theme of her rebelliousness against the stern and suffocating society of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and her refusal to be governed by the narrow-minded bigotry of the dour fanatics of the early days of settlement in New England. In her “Author’s Note” Seton writes of the historical Elizabeth:
Elizabeth has thousands of descendants today; many of these – guided by Victorian genealogists and a biased presentation – have a vague feeling that they should be ashamed of her. A member of the Winthrop family, a hundred years ago, even went so far as to mutilate references to her in the original manuscripts. I believe that her life was significant and praiseworthy.

True, she was a rebel against the Puritan code, as exemplified by Governor John Winthrop the elder, who was her uncle, guardian and father-in-law. She was also a woman who suffered the handicaps peculiar to her sex and her time, but she had the remarkable endurance which characterized all the first settlers – those who managed to survive.
Although it is a work of fiction, this book is an accurate and instructive introduction to the formative years of early America, as well as the story of a remarkable woman who never let her misfortunes and the spirit of the times compromise her independence and dignity.

Ah, the Virtues of Tolerance

When a society ceases to believe in the value of its own history, customs and religious traditions, then "tolerance" (more accurately, intellectual ennui) contributes to the creation of a philosophical and political vacuum which can, and frequently is, filled by the excesses of zealots. Melanie Phillips writes of the jihad in Britain (H/T: Carpefraise).

Update: The pernicious influence of radical Islam is, of course, felt here in the states, too.

Hey, Great! More Snow! (Now with Pictures!)

We've got genuine blizzard conditions in Northern Virginia today, with at least a foot of new snow and high winds. It's so bad, I haven't seen anybody outside, not even the neighborhood kids (not even the guy next door who spends most of his day walking his dogs). I went out for a little while to dig a path into the yard for the convenience of Mabel, the official dog of Paco Enterprises, and was put in mind of this classic tale by Jack London.

Update: Photos of the New Ice age (click to enlarge).

Three-and-a-half-foot killer icicles.



The Paco Command Igloo.


Heroic, but futile, efforts to dig out. Note the Al Gore signature anthropogenic global-warming goggles, to protect yours truly from the harmful effects of ultraviolet light reflecting off of the snow.

"Nuts!"

No surprise at all, but Obama's new-found interest in bi-partisanship is really a demand for Republican capitulation. To which the Republican response should be the same as General McAuliffe's famous reply to the German demand for surrender.

Obama and the Democrats have created this historic overreach of government power; let them own it.

Or maybe they can float their own version of the Peace Blimp.

Ever Heard of the Paco Railroad Station?

No? Well, read on, and learn about some heroes from WWII (H/T: SezaGeoff).

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

An Open Letter to the New York Times

Dear Newspaper of Record:

Are you nuts? Your stock price is sinking faster than a submarine with screen doors, you're getting scooped by blogs on all the big issues of the day, and your circulation's so bad that if you were a human being you'd need a quadruple bypass, and yet you continue to pay David Brooks to write editorials. Why?

His most recent attempt at cognitive doodling proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is caught up in a fantasy in which he sees himself as a scriptwriter for The West Wing. You remember that television program, no doubt? A chimerical vision of government run by honest and competent liberals? Brooks apparently thinks he's been hired to write scripts for a series of return episodes, West Wing: the Obama Years.

The title of Brooks' article - "The House of Tranquility" - is actually intended to apply to the current atmosphere in the White House. With health care and cap-and-trade falling apart, the unemployment rate in double-digits, Republicans staging dramatic comebacks and the President's approval level at record-setting lows, if there really is a feeling of tranquility, then it is the tranquility of someone in a coma.

And Brooks would have us believe that Biden - Joe Biden - is now a serious and respected member of the team.
Obama casually asked Biden to take the lead on Iraqi policy. This was a potentially dangerous moment in which the vice president could be tromping over ground occupied by the secretaries of state and defense. But Biden seems to know every player in Iraq down to the alderman level — and, so far, he seems to have done the job without stepping on too many toes.
The guy's a lightweight. He could tromp on toes all day long, and who would notice? And the main point is his advice was ultimately ignored.
Biden also was asked to oversee the stimulus spending, a job that occupies 20 percent of his time. He has spoken to 49 governors and 100 mayors successfully policing the spending splurge and heading off potentially damaging stimulus projects, like a Napa wine train that would have shepherded tipplers from one vineyard to another.
Ah, but old eagle-eye Joe seems to have missed all that stimulus money going to non-existent congressional districts and zip codes, and the $252 billion that represents nothing but non-job-creating income transfer payments.
Finally, Biden was asked to come up with a middle-class agenda. This is a surprisingly difficult job because many of these programs — credits for college affordability and child care — fairly reek of Clintonism. This is an administration that is staffed by Clintonites but does not want to appear Clintonian in any way.
Middle-class tax increases, anyone?
Some would say the administration is underreacting to the incredible shift in the public mood. Some would say they need more voices from the great unwashed. But no one could accuse them of panicking, or of scrambling about incoherently. In their first winter of discontent, they are offering continuity and comity. Whatever their relations with the country might be, inside they seem unruffled.
There is enough b.s. in that single paragraph to fertilize an azalea nursery for an entire year. David Brooks is rapidly becoming Walter Duranty redux, covering up this administration's truth-famine. This is one reason that your newspaper is becoming less important than a supermarket flyer; at least with the latter, we stand a chance of occasionally getting 20% off the price of pork and beans, which is likely to become our daily fare before David Brooks' hero is done with us.

Hand Jive

Umm, I'm having a little trouble figuring out why Palin is considered silly for scribbling a few notes on her hand to jog her memory, when the Preshizzle apparently can't stitch two words together in a crowded room without a teleprompter. Besides, it's all pretty hypocritical; we know what Obama does when the teleprompter's not working...

Snowed In

The Paco Command Center continues to be cut off from civilization due to the blizzard. In fact, we're told that we may get another ten to twenty inches of snow starting tonight.

All I have, I would gladly give to be back in Arizona. In the foothills of the White Tank Mountains in western Maricopa County, for example, or somewhere near the Saguaro National Park. Maybe it's just boring desert to some people, but to me it's heaven...



Completely unrelated update: Given the concerns the flying public has about airport security these days, you might want to consider every possible survival tip.

A related update: Don Surber has some advice for D.C. on how to survive the blizzard.

The Perpetual Spending Machine

Smitty at the Other McCain is really on a roll this week. Behold the stimulus pussy.

Update: Caribbean stimulus.

Powder Keg South of the Border

Too much to ask, I suppose, but President Obama might want to take time out from trying to impress foreigners with his kow-towing and focus on the mounting threats in Latin America. Douglas Farah has some excellent analysis of the totalitarian trends among the "Bolivarian" countries (be sure to check the links), as well as the deterioration of law and order in Mexico as the cartelocracy gains ground against the corrupt and increasingly out-gunned state and federal police departments in Mexico.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hey, Republicans, Let's Discuss Health Care



My administration is all about transparency, so come on over to the White House, all you GOP obstructionists folks, and let's have a discussion about the final bill that we Democrats cobble together. Oh, you don't mind if we televise the conversation, do you? Don't worry; this isn't about playing "gotcha" (cross my heart and hope to die).

Image of Venus flytrap by yum9me on flickr

Must Be Zeb Envy

Double Tapper reports that Pakistani diplomat Miangul Akbar Zeb has been rejected as ambassador to both the UAE and Bahrain because his name, in Arabic, means "Biggest Dick" (H/T: Theo Spark).

Hilarious Comment of the Day

Tim Blair highlights this comment from the BBC's "Have Your Say" page (Question: "How should the world react to Iran's nuclear regime?"):
Why shouldn’t Iran have nuclear capability? Israel, India, and many other countries which are no more stable than Iran have the capability. Another case of the USA trying to impose it’s homophobic prejudices on the rest of the world and, to my shame, with this country’s backing!
Although, actually, the guy could be on to something...

You're Better Off, Believe Me


The federal government is closed today, which means I get to go shovel snow. A mixed blessing for me, to be sure, but a good deal for taxpayers. Meanwhile, you may want to pop over to the Other McCain for Smitty's caption contest, or read Robert Avrech's take-down of a particularly nauseating piece of 1940s commie film propaganda.

Update: So, after two days of stakhanovite labor, I have finally cleared my driveway - to no purpose, that I can see, because the snow is still over a foot deep in the road. And they're now predicting another 8-10 10-20 inches of snow Tuesday and Wednesday.

Update II: Angels have wafted Jack Murtha to his eternal reward.

Update III: Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for Obama care.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gone Fission



I stole the above picture from Hot Air and posted it because it reminded me of a hilarious dialogue between George "Kingfish" Stevens and Andy Brown on the old Amos & Andy television show. Kingfish was explaining to Andy that atoms were composed of "protons, notrons, fig-newtons and morons." Here we see a fine illustration of the moron particle.

The Sands of Iwo Jima

Some great WWII photos of Iwo Jima (H/T: Jeff S).

Sunday Funny

Safety-rope fail.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Three Cheers for Global Warming!

Man, do I miss living in Miami. And Arizona. Here are a few pictures (taken from the safety of my front porch) of the recent climate unpleasantness here in Occupied Northern Virginia (click to enlarge).


That's the deck. We use it so infrequently, I'm not really sure what that stuff is under the snow; probably a table and a chair of some kind.




That's one of the neighbors' houses across the way.




See that object behind the wild plum tree? It's a car (not mine, fortunately).

Update: Great news! We're supposed to get another 4 to 5 inches of snow Tuesday night!

Yojimbo, clean out that garage, buddy; as soon as we can get to an airport, me and the missus are heading for Tucson.

When the Going was Good


Today is the birthday of Ronald Reagan, of blessed memory. He was a great president; Obama isn't fit to iron his pocket handkerchiefs. Above all, Reagan serves to remind us that real charisma, at bottom, is dependent on character, dignity and substantive ideas. Maybe we'll all remember that by the time 2012 rolls around.

Ace of Spades has a video of the 1981 inaugural address.

Update: A great - and typical - Reagan story.

Another Outbreak of Sanity

What white racist neo-colonialist islamophobe said the following?
"England is a cesspit. England is the breeding ground of fundamentalist Muslims. Its social logic is to allow all religions to preach openly. But this is illogic, because none of the other religions preach apocalyptic violence. And yet England allows it. Remember, that country was the breeding ground for communism, too. Karl Marx did all his work in libraries there."
Rather too obviously a trick question. The commenter is Nigerian author and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka.

Here’s the big money quote:
”[Solinka suggested] rigorous punishment for those who feel, not 'I'm right, you're wrong,' but 'I'm right, you're dead.'"

Going Dutch

Smitty at The Other McCain has the latest Patrick Condell video and links concerning the Wilders trial.

Rule 5 Saturday

Alvino Rey and the King sisters swing the “St. Louis Blues”.

A Very Cold Desert

I’ve now got more snow in my front yard than this place in Antarctica.

Friday, February 5, 2010

G'Day, Mates

One thing I've definitely been overlooking here at Paco Enterprises is the political climate in Australia. Herewith, some comprehensive, hard-hitting analysis.

Happy Feet Friday

The great Glen Gray and his orchestra play the “Casa Loma Stomp.”

Thursday, February 4, 2010

“Oh, the Stupidity!”

Laura W at Ace of Spades brings us news of the Peace Blimp, the latest weapon (so to speak) in the arsenal of the anti-war movement.

The really great news is that they’re looking for a slogan to put on the blimp.

Unfortunately, it seems the site has stopped accepting suggestions - probably because of items like these:

“Aim Here”

“You Cannot Resist the Pudding”

“Palin 2012”

Random Harvest

No, not the novel by James Hilton, or the excellent film version featuring Ronald Coleman and Greer Garson; just a few random – but interesting – items.

Many thanks to Mr. Photoshop, Bob Belvedere, at The Camp of the Saints for the pulp-fiction “cover art” illustrating my most recent Detective Paco story. Great stuff, Bob! (Update: Unfortunately, when I click on the link now, I get a 404 page; sorry, Bob). Update II: Link fixed!

Richard McEnroe is trying to raise some money to repair his computer, but rather than hit you over the head with his begging bowl, he is offering value for money, so go on over to Three Beers Later and check out his book, An Anthology of Restoration Plays Invisible Dirty Old Man.

The brilliant blog humorist Jim Treacher was injured in a hit-and-run accident yesterday in Washington, D.C. Our prayers go out for Jim’s speedy recovery, and for the uncovering of additional facts in this increasingly mysterious episode.

One final note. It appears that I’ve attracted the attention of a spambot who is littering my comments section with links to a site that offers me a home-study course on the “Quran”. You are really barking up the wrong date-palm, Abdullah.

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



Americans’ fascination with celebrities is not a new phenomenon, although one might argue that the threshold for qualification has been significantly lowered in recent years (Paris Hilton? Please). Carol Felsenthal provides us with an excellent biography of an “old school” celebrity in Alice Roosevelt Longworth.

The daughter of Theodore Roosevelt and his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, Alice’s birth was marked by tragedy, as her mother died two days after Alice was delivered. TR was devastated, and he attempted to deal with this loss by blotting out everything that reminded him of his wife – unfortunately including his daughter. Although later in life she would become a fanatical supporter of TR’s political career and legacy, and one of the few people whose advice he genuinely respected, the indifference shown to her by her famous father in her early years, compounded by the coolness of her stepmother, Edith Carow, whom TR married a couple of years after the death of her mother, led Alice to develop a lifelong craving for attention, and a singularly wide rebellious streak, as indicated by this description of her behavior as a teenager:
The newspapers reported that Alice had been asked to leave Boston’s Copley Plaza Hotel for smoking in the lobby. When her father prohibited her from smoking under his roof, she said “very well” and smoked atop the White House roof. She drove her car unchaperoned around Washington, getting stopped at least once for speeding, at a time when automobiles, not to mention female-piloted ones, were so rare that some states had laws that required a man on foot to run ahead of the vehicle waving a red flag. She regularly bet on the horses, bragged about her winnings, and ignored her father’s increasingly angry lectures.
The book is filled with interesting anecdotes of the figures who strode across the American political stage, extending through Alice’s very long life (she died at the age of 96 in 1980). Her husband, Nicholas Longworth, was a Republican congressman from Ohio (and ultimately Speaker of the House, beloved by members of both parties) to whom Alice was married for 25 years, until his death in 1931. It was a stormy relationship, and practically an open marriage in the years leading up to Nick’s death. Nick had always been a boozer and a womanizer, and Alice’s child, Pauline, was widely believed to have been fathered by Idaho Senator William Borah (to his credit, Nick adored the child and lavished attention on her; ironically, after Nick died, Pauline was subjected to the same indifference from Alice that Alice had received from her father). Nick had very little control over his wife, but one thing he absolutely demanded was that, in view of the rumors surrounding the child’s parentage, Alice discard her original notion of naming the child “Deborah”.

There is a particularly funny anecdote cited by “Fishbait” Miller, official doorkeeper of the House of Representatives for three decades, involving Nick:
Fishbait’s favorite story has the Speaker sitting in the House library, “reading a Cincinnati…newspaper…when a brash congressman thought he’d make a splash by putting down the Speaker on his womanizing. ‘Mr. Speaker,’ he said, ‘I’ve always wanted to say something to you but I’ve never caught you when you were not busy. Your pretty bald head reminds me of my wife’s behind. Is it all right if I rub my hand across it? Then I’ll be sure.’ Without waiting…he rubbed his hand all the way across Longworth’s bald head and said, ‘Yes, it does feel like my wife’s behind.’ He looked around at his audience a bit smugly as he waited for Longworth to explode. But he didn’t. Instead, Longworth lifted his own hand and ran it across his head thoughtfully. ‘I’ll be damned if it doesn’t,’ he said.”
Within these pages you’ll find amusing (and frequently scathing) descriptions of a host of politicos, journalists, statesmen, foreign potentates, labor leaders and famous hostesses, including the long-running theme of the intense dislike that developed between the two wings of the Roosevelt family, TR’s and FDR’s (in his youth and young adulthood, FDR, interestingly, was considered a buffoonish non-entity by the TR side; “the feather-duster”, as Alice nicknamed him). Along the way, you’ll also see how the two main political parties have changed over the years. If one could go back in time, the antecedents of the present Democratic and Republican parties would be largely unrecognizable.

But above all, this book is a fine biography of a remarkably complex woman, who was so wildly popular in her youth that colors were named for, and songs written about, her (Alice Blue Gown, for example), and who personally knew every president from Benjamin Harrison to Ronald Reagan.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Detective Paco in "Something Scaly" - Conclusion

Two days later, we drove through the gates of the White House in a small panel truck. The cab was topped with an enormous, angry-looking bug in a steel cage. On the side panels were painted our commercial bona fides: “Wrickwright’s Pest Control. Satisfaction guaranteed or double your cockroaches back”. We both wore blue jumpsuits and baseball caps bearing the name of the company, and in the back seat were our tools: a couple of butterfly nets, a trout basket and a box of crickets we had purchased at a bait shop.

“It was a pretty lucky break, you being able to borrow this stuff from your uncle Wrickwright.”

“It was no problem at all,” Wronwright said. “He’s getting out of the pest control business anyway, forming a partnership with my Uncle Wraulwright to set up a chain of taco stands. You’d better take a last gander at that book to make sure we’ve got all the basics down.”

I had found a book in the library - The Care and Feeding of Geckos - by one Chauncey Smythe-Pooter, Bart., who seems to have dedicated his entire life to the study of these reptiles (fanatically so, apparently, since, according to the dust jacket, he had recently died of dehydration after getting lost in the Western Australian desert while tracking down a new species – named after him, posthumously, Diplodactylus smythe-pooterensis). The volume had far more information than we would ever need, but it was helpful in identifying a major piece of gecko intelligence: the little guys love crickets.

“I think I’ve mastered the essentials, Wronwright. Say, pull over there. I see Mr. Lord.”

Lord walked up to the truck, smiled and nodded approvingly at our disguises, and handed us our temporary security badges.

“Everything’s set, gentlemen. The President and First Lady are traveling today, and only the Secret Service fellows know what the real game is. As far as everybody else is concerned, you’re looking for termites.”

We entered the White House and began a sweep through the building, sowing crickets everywhere, and then made another pass through all the rooms.

Amazingly, after only a couple of hours, we had rounded up six of the lizards; the poor little devils must have been starving, because the cricket-bait was working like a charm, luring them out of their hiding places with relative ease. Everything had gone pretty smoothly, except for that one incident where Wronwright was chasing a gecko down a hallway, and just as he rounded a corner and was bringing down the butterfly net, he bagged Rahm Emanuel. Rahm started tearing at the net and sputtering profanities, then suddenly got a terrified look on his face and, employing one of his old ballet moves, began to jump wildly (I looked it up later; I think the experts call it a Grand jeté); Wronwright’s gecko had run up Rahm’s pants-leg. I could understand the feeling since I had found one of them the same way when I sat down to take a cigarette break. I had felt a cold spot on my thigh, looked down and saw a gecko in perfect bas-relief about three inches above my knee under my jumpsuit. But whereas Rahm sensed something cold running up his leg and panicked, I knew I was looking at a thousand dollars, so I just reached down inside, plucked the gecko off my thigh, and dropped him in the trout basket. Fortunately, Rahm finally leaped out of his pants, and Wron scooped up the fugitive.

We were still missing one lizard, and had one more room to check: the Oval Office. We ambled in and started poking around. The crickets we had placed in the office were still chirping and hopping around, so I was beginning to wonder if we had run into a dead-end in trying to find the seventh gecko. In any event, we took a break; I sat in one of the visitors’ chairs, and Wronwright, wanting to experience a bit of history, sat in the chair behind the presidential desk.

He settled back and locked his hands behind his head, sighing contentedly.

“You know, Paco, I would have made a great president.”

I slipped a cigarette pack out from under my hat, removed a coffin nail, and fired it up. “Well, you couldn’t do much worse than the current one.”

He sat forward in the chair.“Damned straight! A whole lot better, I’d say! Why, I’d sit here, tell these bureaucrats the way it was gonna be, and make ‘em look lively about it. And those congressmen! ‘Jack Murtha, I’m gonna give you ten seconds to get your lard-ass outta my office and then I’m gonna sic the dogs on you!’ That’s the way I would do things, yessirree.”

Just then, the phone on the presidential desk rang. Wronwright, unthinkingly, answered it, while I stared at him in stunned silence.

“Hello? Uh-huh.” He sat slowly back in the chair, a wicked smile on his face. “Well, hello, Nancy! What’s that? Hell, no, I don’t support a second stimulus bill! It’s a taxpayer rip-off just like the first one. Save your breath, cupcake, there’s no way I’m changing my mind on this. Huh? Oh, is that so? Well, let me tell you something.” (By this time I was waving my arms frantically, trying to get Wron to hang up). “I know you’ve got a safe seat back there in San Francisco. In fact, you’d probably have to blow up an abortion clinic owned by six gay doctors while wearing a Sarah Palin t-shirt to even stand a remote chance of losing your reelection bid. But that doesn’t mean you’ve got a lock on the Speaker’s position. Oh, yeah? Well, you’re another one!” He hung up the phone, cracked his knuckles and chuckled softly.

I gaped at him a moment before I could find my voice. “Wron”, I said, “you do realize, don’t you, that Pelosi thought she was talking to the President?”

Wronwright stared at me for a few seconds, rather blankly. “Oh. Heh. Yeah, you’re right. Well, I’m sure there’s no harm done.”

Suddenly, I heard a chirp and then a crunching noise; it seemed to come from someplace close. I looked down and there, at my feet, was lucky number 7. I slipped off my cap, placed it gently over the renegade gecko, and emptied him into the trout basket. “Ok, partner, let’s go collect our fee.”

We found Mr. Lord hanging around by the service entrance and handed over the geckos. He peaked inside the basket and smiled broadly. “Excellent! Thank you, gentlemen, for a job well done! The president is in your debt.”

I pushed the cap back on my head and leaned against the wall. “He sure is; to the tune of seven thousand samolians. Cash or check will be fine.”

* * * *

Another snow storm. Wronwright and I were sitting in my office, waiting for the spring thaw. I was thinking of calling up Al Gore and telling him, “Hey, great job fighting global warming! You can stop now.” The intercom buzzed.

“Paco, I’ve got a Mrs. Lipschitz on the line.”

“Jewelry?”

“Yep.”

“Driveway?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Tell her to pour kerosene on the driveway and strike a match.” I flicked the intercom off.

I slipped the rubber-band off the newspaper, flapped it open and scanned the front page. You could have knocked me over with Biden’s I.Q.

“Hey, Wronwright, listen to these headlines. ‘Democratic Party Unity Collapses. President Pulls Plug On Second Stimulus Bill, Threatens Pelosi’s Position As Speaker.’”

Wronwright smirked. “I told you I’d make a great president.”

* * * *

Epilogue

The lights had been out for over an hour in the First Bedroom. Michelle Obama lay awake, driven to the point of madness by the noise.

*Chirp-chirp-chirp*

“Barack?”

“Z-z-z-z-z-z”

“Barack?”

“Z-z-z-z-z-z”

*Chirp-chirp-chirp*

“BARACK!!!” She began beating her husband savagely with her pillow.

“Z-z-z-*snort*-*hack*…I didn’t say those things, Nancy, I swear!”

“Barack, it’s not Pelosi, it’s your wife!”

“Wha…wha…what’s going on?”

“Can’t you hear them?”

“Hear what?”

“The crickets! The room’s full of them!”

Barack sat up and yawned. “I can now!” He reached over and switched on the light sitting on the night table, opened a drawer and extracted a pack of Virginia Slims. When Michelle started to remonstrate, he held up a hand.

“Hold it, hold it. I’ll give them up next week, but right now I’m under a lot of stress.” He lit a cigarette, took a long draw, and exhaled. “For example, how the hell did Pelosi get the idea I was backing off of the second stimulus plan? And what on earth made her think I was trying to torpedo her Speaker’s position? And why did she go to the press instead of talking it out with me? Of course, from what I can gather, she thought she had been talking to me. I dunno. Maybe it’s the Botox; it must be messing up her mind. Or…I wonder…do you suppose Biden’s been sneaking into the Oval Office again, sitting in my chair and talking on my private phone? I don’t see how he could be, though, since I’ve given orders that he not be admitted under any circumstances. It’s really all so unfair! For once in a generation, a genuinely charismatic man like me comes along, captures the people’s imagination, and sets out to put the country on a nobler path. But, for some reason, everything just starts to come unglued. They’ll not stop me, though! I’ll outlast them all! Won’t I, Michelle?... Michelle?”

“Z-z-z-z-z-z…”

Barack sighed, stubbed out his cigarette and turned out the light.

*Chirp-chirp-chirp*

“Oh, damn!"