Friday, April 30, 2010

Rule 5 Saturday

Singer, dancer, actress and WWII pin-up girl Betty Grable in a number from the 1942 film, Footlight Serenade.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

And at a certain point, Mr. Prez, you become unelectable

And I imagine it might well have been yesterday, when the President had this to say: "I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money."

Wait, don't tell me; the government gets to define "enough", right?

Snort Newsworthy

Charlie Crisp Crist is running as an independent. The reaction was immediate and overwhelming.

Liberal Self-Esteem Junkies Wrong Again

No surprise there, but it is in the nature of a public service to publicize these errors in judgment whenever they occur.

Robert Paarlberg has written an article for Foreign Policy's online magazine that takes up the folly of "eco-foodies".
From Whole Foods recyclable cloth bags to Michelle Obama's organic White House garden, modern eco-foodies are full of good intentions. We want to save the planet. Help local farmers. Fight climate change -- and childhood obesity, too. But though it's certainly a good thing to be thinking about global welfare while chopping our certified organic onions, the hope that we can help others by changing our shopping and eating habits is being wildly oversold to Western consumers. Food has become an elite preoccupation in the West, ironically, just as the most effective ways to address hunger in poor countries have fallen out of fashion.
It turns out that the whole organic and slow-grow approach has been tried before.
In Europe and the United States, a new line of thinking has emerged in elite circles that opposes bringing improved seeds and fertilizers to traditional farmers and opposes linking those farmers more closely to international markets. Influential food writers, advocates, and celebrity restaurant owners are repeating the mantra that "sustainable food" in the future must be organic, local, and slow. But guess what: Rural Africa already has such a system, and it doesn't work. Few smallholder farmers in Africa use any synthetic chemicals, so their food is de facto organic. High transportation costs force them to purchase and sell almost all of their food locally. And food preparation is painfully slow. The result is nothing to celebrate: average income levels of only $1 a day and a one-in-three chance of being malnourished.
Yeah, by all means, let's replicate that system in the U.S. (and remember to go easy on the salt).

Happy Feet Friday

Glen Gray and his orchestra perform that big WWII hit, “Sentimental Journey.”

From the shelves of the Paco library



Today I have a quick read for your consideration.

The late Richard Grenier – a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, foreign correspondent, movie script-writer and syndicated columnist – wrote a slender volume (originally published in 1983) entitled The Gandhi Nobody Knows. This survey of Gandhi’s beliefs and political activities came out in the wake of, and as an attempted antidote to, the hagiographical movie produced and directed by Sir Richard Attenborough. It is a fact-based dash of cold water thrown in the faces of those who have come to see Gandhi “as a kind of Indian St. Francis of Assissi.”

To take just one example of the gap between the reality of the actual life, and the plaster saint depicted in the movie, there is Gandhi’s adherence to non-violence:
It is something of an anomaly that Gandhi, held in popular myth to be a pure pacifist (a myth which governments of India have always been at great pains to sustain in the belief that it will reflect credit on India itself, and to which the present movie adheres slavishly), was until fifty not ill-disposed to war at all. As I have already noted, in three wars, no sooner had the bugles sounded than Gandhi not only gave his support, but was clamoring for arms. To form new regiments! To fight! To destroy the enemies of empire! Regular Indian army units fought in both the Boer War and World War I, but this was not enough for Gandhi. He wanted to raise new troops, even, in the case of the Boer and Kaffir Wars, from the tiny Indian colony in South Africa…

But it is not widely realized (nor will this film tell you) how much violence was associated with Gandhi’s so-called “nonviolent” movement from the very beginning. India’s Nobel Prize-winning poet, Rabindranath Tagore, had sensed a strong current of nihilism in Gandhi almost from his first days, and as early as 1920 wrote of Gandhi’s “fierce joy of annihilation,” which Tagore feared would lead India into hideous orgies of devastation – which ultimately proved to be the case.
There is much more, pertaining to other aspects of Gandhi’s life, such as his obsession with bowel movements, his “monstrous behavior to his own family”, his call for the Jews of Europe to submit meekly to Hitler’s genocide, and the striking lack of consistency that led this critic of modern technology and advocate of an idyllic village life to hand-pick “as the first Prime Minister of an independent India Pandit Nehru, who was committed to a policy of industrialization and for whom the last word in the politic-economic organization of the state was (and remained) Beatrice Webb.”

Also quite fascinating, and refreshing, is Grenier’s introduction, in which he unapologetically expresses his belief in the superiority of liberal democracy.
I at no time, for even the blink of an eye, have ever admired Moscow, Havana or Hanoi. I have been given the red carpet treatment in totalitarian countries, been fed caviar and driven about in luxurious government limousines, but for some reason it has never taken. I have also been treated less ceremoniously, being arrested by Soviet paratroops during the Soviet invasion of Prague in 1968. But for all the courtesy shown me by these paratroopers (not shooting me, for example), and despite unrelenting efforts on my part to keep my mind open, I have found all the societies I have visited frankly inferior to our own.
There are some choice observations on the political fallacies of our intelligentsia, too, like the woman who told the author that “socialism ‘really works in North Korea’”, and the person who, when challenged by Grenier to name a society superior to our own, “just to set a standard of comparison,” suggested Angola.

This is a small volume (only 118 pages), but it contains much food for thought.

Salt of the earth

The wonderful Walter Williams ponders the government's war on salt.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What, no tear gas?

Cops in riot gear are called out to protect the Preshizzle from the Grandma Liberation Front.

Also, read AllahPundit's hilarious take.

Assortment

Peter Beinart thinks it would be a great idea to appoint another woman to the Supreme Court – preferably a mom – for a lot of reasons, none of which have anything to do with intelligence or knowledge of constitutional law. Darleen Click at Protein Wisdom raises a few “mild” objections.

How does Mexico deal with illegal immigration? A lot more rigorously than Arizona, says Michelle Malkin. In connection with the same topic, Dan Collins is circulating a petition.

Stacy Cline at The American Spectator writes that Obama’s nominee to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Robert Chatigny, has some, er, unorthodox views on sexual sadism, as well as on standards of judicial conduct.

Pixie Place links to another fine article by Thomas Sowell; don’t miss it!

Do you want to see another Democrat in the late, unlamented Jack Murtha’s congressional seat? Well, neither does Ruby Slippers.

Great rugby fight



No, wait. I’m sorry, it’s not a rugby fight, it’s the Ukrainian parliament.

Lab-Quality Stupid

Stacy McCain has the perfect example of a liberal who hits the nail squarely on her thumb (see the update to Stacy's original post).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mass Examples of Godwin's Law

The always interesting Jeff Goldstein has some thoughts on the left's reaction to Arizona's new border security legislation.

More on the context of the legislation from American Thinker.

How a Captain of Industry Manages Human Resources



The pocket doors slid open with an almost imperceptible whisper as a rumpled looking figure glided into the library, his feet dangling limply a few inches above the floor. This phenomenon, which would have been strange in other circumstances, and perhaps suggestive of a ghostly apparition, was a not uncommon sight in the inner sanctum of J. Packington Paco III, where those who had drawn the great man’s ire were frequently hauled in for a heart-to-heart chat.

The two tall and beefy men in double-breasted suits and fedoras who escorted the visitor had each latched onto an arm and were bearing him into the room in the manner of a couple of professional movers carrying a large painting of questionable taste and dubious market value. Stopping a few feet in front of a massive mahogany and gilt Empire desk, one of the escorts asked, “Where do you want we should plant him, boss?”

J.P., seated in a swivel chair behind the desk, leaned forward and clasped his hands upon the elegant blotter of hand-tooled Spanish leather. “Deposit him in that wing chair, gentlemen.”

With an upward, sweeping motion – referred to among those professionals whose jobs consist mainly of shepherding people from one place to another, generally against their will, as the “alley-oop” (derived from the French, allez, hop!) - the large men hoisted the visitor over the back of the chair and brought him down on the seat cushion with the precision of seasoned experts, provoking a small yip of surprise from their charge.

J.P. dismissed his associates and scowled at the man sitting across from him. In a tone of voice reminiscent of the late Brooklyn prosecutor Burton Turkus, confronting a member of Murder, Incorporated on the witness stand in a capital murder trial, he asked, “You are Fred Toettcher, a/k/a ‘Toucher’?”

“Yes, I am. What’s the meaning of kidnapping me off the street?”

“Kidnapping is an ugly word, Mr. Toettcher, and completely out of place in this context. You are an employee who has been summoned by his employer to explain an episode of disgraceful conduct.”

“But I don’t work for you. I work for…”

“…for radio station 98.5 in Boston; a property, you might be interested to know, that I acquired this morning.”

Toettcher’s throat made a noise like a suddenly upended gallon jug of apple cider. “You…you bought the station?”

“Correct. And as a result of that transaction, I obviously have the right to question my employees about their job performance. Now, getting down to brass tacks, it is my understanding that, in one of your recent broadcasts, you drew an analogy between Tim Tebow’s NFL draft party and a Nazi rally, based on your observation that the attendees, consisting of Mr. Tebow’s friends and family, were all Caucasian?”

“Yes, but…”

“Did you trouble yourself to analyze the racial profile of any other white players’ draft party guests?”

“Well, no…*cough*…no, I didn’t, but…”

“Did you trouble yourself to analyze the racial profile of any of the black players’ draft party guests?”

“Er...no. No, I guess not.”

“There is no guesswork involved here at all, Mr. Toettcher. You saw an opportunity to inject some leftist cant into a totally inappropriate setting and you did so. Perhaps you see yourself as a kind of Keith Olbermann, another media personality who made the transition from sports commentator to political carnival barker.”

“Keith Olbermann has done a lot to create opportunities for sports broadcasters to do more meaningful work.”

A short, but loud guffaw escaped from J.P.; if a howitzer could ever be described as sounding jolly, then J.P. had just given a perfect impression of one. “Mwaha! Gad, sir, you are a character, yes, indeed. I think you will find that Olbermann has come down somewhat since the heady days of which you speak. By the way, would you like to meet him?”

Toettcher’s facial expression, which had been a mask of fear up to this point, took on a momentary look of reverence. “Do you know him?”

“He’s here now.” J.P. took a cigar from a rosewood humidor, nipped the end with a guillotine cutter and struck a match. Once the ignition process had been completed, he extinguished the match by lazily waving it back and forth a few times, then dropped it into an onyx ashtray. “In fact, he works for me.”

“How could that be? He’s under contract to MSNBC.”

“I beg your pardon. I forgot to mention that I purchased a controlling interest in MSNBC from General Electric last week. Thanks to an obscure clause in Olbermann’s employment contract, which binds him to undertake, in addition to his talk-show responsibilities, ‘such other duties as may be assigned, from time to time, by the party of the first part’ – which is, of course, me – he is now doing some odd jobs about Paco Tower.”

He barely raised his voice as he called for Spurgeon, his gentleman’s personal gentleman.

Although he had not been present during J.P.’s interview with Toettcher, Spurgeon, through long habituation, was attuned to his master’s voice and promptly entered the library – silently, as it were, on little cat’s feet (which were none the less feline for being shod in size 12 triple-E brogues). His sudden materialization brought forth another startled yip from Toettcher, who grasped the arms of his chair as if he’d been lolling in the seat of a fighter jet and had accidentally hit the eject button.

“Yes, sir?”

“Spurgeon, has Mr. Olbermann finished his morning tasks?”

“He is well underway, sir. Mr. Olbermann has finished scouring the balcony of turkey-buzzard droppings, and has just commenced feeding flies to your collection of Dionaea muscipula - or” he said, turning to Toettcher, having sensed an aura of ignorance radiating from his master’s guest – “the Venus flytrap plants, as they are, *sniff*, commonly known.”

“Excellent. Kindly ask Mr. Olbermann to come here immediately.”

A few moments later, a scruffy looking fellow decked out in a white t-shirt and denim overalls shuffled into the library. Although his prematurely white hair was in need of brushing, and he appeared not to have shaved for a few days, the man was undeniably Keith Olbermann. He smelled strongly of bleach.

“You wanted to see me, Mr. Paco?”

“Yes. Spurgeon tells me that, after some initial grousing, you seem to have buckled down to your work.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, keep it up, Olbermann. Perhaps, one day, I will be able to see my way clear to letting you ease your way back into broadcasting, maybe let you cover the occasional sports event. I understand that St. Mary’s girls’ school has an excellent field hockey team. That’s something that might be within your scope. We’ll see.”

“Yes, sir. Is that all, sir?”

“Yes, that’s all. You’re dismissed, Olbermann.”

Olbermann began to trudge back to his chores, but was abruptly halted by a command from J.P.

“Just a minute, Olbermann. Aren’t you forgetting something?”

Olbermann pivoted and faced J.P. His lips had grown taut, and there was a flash of defiance in his eyes.

J.P. smiled benevolently, as his right hand closed on the hilt of what he amusingly referred to as a letter opener, but which purists would have insisted was an Arkansas toothpick. He jabbed the point of the blade into a bundle of stapled papers lying on top of the blotter, and lifted them gently a few inches above the desk top.

“You know, Olbermann, the clause in your contract dealing with termination of employment for cause seems to have avoided the careful scrutiny of your attorneys.”

“Olbermann lowered his head. “All right, all right”, he muttered. “I’ll say it.” He took a deep breath and said, through clinched teeth, “Mr. J. Packington Paco III is the…is the…best person in the world.” He then tottered out of the room. A sob could be heard on the other side of the door.

J.P. drew on his cigar and exhaled a series of smoke rings, which broadened and wobbled in the direction of Toettcher, settling gently round his head, as if he’d been the target in a ring-toss game on the midway at the county fair.

Although the room temperature was comfortable, Toettcher was trembling violently, and his chattering teeth sounded like somebody rattling dice in a cup. With great effort, he finally managed to speak.

“Mr. Paco, I swear, I’ll never drag politics into my commentary again! Never!”

“And you will apologize to your radio audience, and to Mr Tebow, and to Mr. Tebow’s friends?”

“Without delay! I’ll even take out a half-page ad in the Boston papers publicizing my apology! At my own expense!”

“A what-sized ad, Mr. Toettcher?”

The gallon jug of apple cider tilted again. “I…I mean a full-page ad.”

J.P.frowned pensively, while Toettcher watched for any move on his boss’s part to don the black silk. It was with incalculable relief that he heard another of J.P.’s booming laughs.

“Mwaha! Well, well, well, Mr. Toettcher. We shall let bygones be bygones this time. I shan’t detain you further, inasmuch as I know you are eager to make amends.” J.P. rose from his desk, took his guest by the arm and personally walked him to the front door. “And just to strengthen you in your resolution, young man, permit me to inform you that your attorneys were even more remiss in reviewing the termination clause in your employment contract than Olbermann’s. So I exhort you to go, Mr. Toettcher, and sin no more.”

As he closed the front door, J.P. was approached by Spurgeon.

“Sir, I regret to report that Mr. Olbermann has an insufficiency of flies on hand to complete today’s feeding of the Dionaea muscipula.”

“Hmmm. Tell him to go down to the dumpster behind the seafood restaurant on the corner and round up a batch.”

“Very good, sir.”

Oh, by the way, there are a few bugs in the health care legislation

Transparency deluxe! Analysts at the Department of Health and Human Services gave HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius a damning report on the Democrat health care plan a week before the vote, which Sibelius kept under wraps until this legislative monstrosity got passed.

Monday, April 26, 2010

In the great tradition of William Howard Taft...

...why not Chris Christie?

I could support him. There are, as a matter of fact, a number of attractive potential candidates: Palin, Paul Ryan, maybe Mike Pence. What say the Paquistas? Who do you like in the big race?

Epistemic foreclosure

There has been a lot of blather about something called “epistemic closure” floating about recently, rather like dust motes in the rays of sunshine that manage to slip in between the moth-eaten drapes in those salons where the philosophes of pragmatism presumably congregate to lament the obtuseness and insularity of their tea-party inferiors.

The term is intended to convey the notion that conservatives who adamantly oppose Obama, the Democrats and big government are trapped in a closed information loop consisting of Fox News and a handful of radio talk-show hosts and right-wing blogs. The tea-partistas, these philosophes seem to be saying, are locked in an echo chamber in which the only thing to be heard is the reverberation of their own ideological prejudices and overheated rhetoric. How can they possibly expect to be taken seriously, when they do not listen to alternative voices? How will they ever be able to get the big picture?

I don’t know, how did people like David Brooks and David Frum and Matthew Yglesias manage to break free of the cultural snobbery and the cult of mindless centrism that afflicts so much of the inside-the-beltway punditry? Oh, that’s right. They didn’t. And never mind the middle-of–the-road fetishists, for whom the best solution to our political problems is simply to split the difference between socialism and capitalism (leaving us with the proverbial vanilla ice cream and dog-turd milkshake); what about hardcore leftists – like the President – whose sources of information give the appearance of being limited to the pamphlets of Norman Thomas and the demagogic speeches of Huey Long? Not fair, the philosophes say. The President also reads the Washington Post and the New York Times (Brooks might add, “And he even condescends to talk to me personally, from time to time”). Well, then, there you have it! The political spectrum of ideas from A to…B.

The arguments against the vigorous populist conservatism that are cloaked in the too-clever-by-half phrase “epistemic closure” are being made by people who suffer from their own form of tunnel vision. Make you a deal, Brooks et al: you guys actually listen to two hours of Rush Limbaugh, and I’ll actually listen to Obama’s next speech. Then we’ll compare notes.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dump Reid

No, really...



Chad Christensen, a Republican candidate for senator who hopes to unseat Reid, came up with this simple, but brilliant, marketing campaign.

Paco’s Diary

When Kathleen Parker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary last week, there was an almost universal uproar of catcalls and Bronx cheers. This was all very gratifying, initially, because I had assumed that everyone was thinking, “How could they give the award to her instead of to Paco?” In point of fact, this doesn’t seem to have been the cause of the indignation; however, I think it’s fair to say that the choice was baffling on its own merits. Parker is a junior member of the Frum/Brooks wing of political punditry, the chief purpose of which is to publicly lament the waning influence among movement conservatives of…well, of Frum and Brooks. Her political thought is garden variety centrist blah, and there is nothing particularly interesting about her style. The merest throw-away line from someone like Charles Krauthammer is better than Parker’s entire body of work. I suppose that, at bottom, the Pulitzer people were trying to show that they occasionally look beyond the Axis of Liberalism when considering candidates for prizes; in which case, the words “epic fail” come to mind.

* * * * *

Some time ago, a person in the publishing business got me to thinking that I might make my Che stories into a marketable book, although I’d probably have to come up with an additional 30,000 words on top of what I had already written. So, I set myself a deadline of October – er, last October, I’m afraid (Remember the line from Dilbert? “I love the sound that deadlines make as they go whizzing by”). Unfortunately, a lot of other things impinged on my spare time, and the process has turned out to be much slower than I had anticipated. I struggle along, though, and have written another three stories which I’m saving for the book (I figure I need to write another five or six stories to generate a critical mass of verbiage). The thing that I find interesting and fun about writing them is that, although they’re almost pure satirical farce, most of the stories include a kernel of truth. There really was a Tania, for example, who, in the stories (as, reputedly, in real life) is Che’s lascivious squeeze; the French journalist Regis Debray actually did hang out with Che for a while (which reminds me; I’ve discovered to my consternation that Debray is still alive, so I might have to use another name for him); Che did, in fact, sneak into Bolivia aboard a plane dressed as a bald businessman; and there was a mysterious English journalist who joined up with Che for a short time, and who was suspected by some of being a CIA spy. These last two references are to stories that have not appeared on my blog, but will appear in the book – if I can finish it, which I am committed to doing, however glacial the pace. Meanwhile, here’s a sample from the unpublished episode featuring the English journalist, whom I have named “Smythe”:
Smythe joined me and a small detachment of the men for our next series of operations. A “great boon to the revolution”, indeed!

To describe the next two weeks would take the skills of a Biblical prophet writing of the trials of Job (all superstitious nonsense, of course, but a perfect analogy for the living hell of this nightmarish fortnight). Smythe was an unmitigated disaster. He was not only in the way – clanking along behind us with his golf clubs, constantly peppering the men with questions about their military experience, their travels, even their home life, stopping them to point out interesting butterflies (he was, not surprisingly, a collector) – he was the most phenomenal jinx, a great human pothole in the road to victory. Our first night with him, at a temporary camp not far from a small, isolated army outpost that we planned on raiding the following morning, Smythe managed to set fire to his tent while making coffee. The blaze spread to a couple of trees before we could put it out, and the resulting conflagration must have caught the eye of a sentry and spooked him, because the next morning the soldiers had vanished – taking their food and weapons with them (the capture of which had been our objective).

Two days later, we made a recruiting visit to a tiny rural village. The enterprise didn’t gain us any new adherents, but the peasants did cough up a couple of chickens. Smythe, in an effort to make up for bollixing the attack on the army outpost, offered to cook them. To put it mildly, he was no Regis Debray in the culinary department. He was apparently under the impression that “cleaning” a chicken simply meant dipping it briefly in soapy water before skewering it and roasting it over an open fire. The end result was a disgusting mess that resembled – and tasted like – a charred lady’s handbag filled with feathers and offal. The men and I, however, were so hungry that we managed to choke it down, and we were subsequently out of commission for three days due to stomach cramps and diarrhea. Smythe - naturally, in the way of jinxes – escaped unscathed, having dined on some tinned provisions he had brought from England.

* * * *

I’m taking some vacation time in a couple of weeks, and boy, do I need it! The political appointees at my federal agency are engaged in a kind of aimless frenzy, trying hard to live up to the Obamunist standard of creating the illusion of “doing something”, while accomplishing very little, save for substantially damaging employee morale. Several of them have hopes of career advancement in the…heh…second Obama term, which explains much of their spastic energy (they’ve got to do something, anything, to catch the President’s attention). Naturally, I am doing whatever I can in my capacity as a private citizen to render their hopes entirely moot.

Amazing! A Keith Olbermann Wanna-Be!

The Daley Gator reflects on a moment of bilious idiocy indulged in by one Fred Toucher, a Boston sports-radio host, who runs afoul of Godwin's Law in talking about Tim Tebow's NFL draft party.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Remember?

Man, I can't wait!

Sunday Funnies

Are We Lumberjacks? has videos from two hilarious series that I had almost forgotten.

And in case you haven't seen the Toyota lawn mower, here it is:



Finally, courtesy of Captain Heinrichs, "just the facts, ma'am".

Cheese-flavored snacks can be bad for you

Very bad.

Rule 5 Saturday

Rita Hayworth performing “You Excite Me” (I’ll say!)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dunk Brooks Day

Jennifer Rubin - one of my favorite bloggers - writes with stylish good humor and keen insight, and her civility, even under provocation, is enviable. That's why, when she ripped David Brooks' living heart from his chest and pressed the still-beating organ into his pasty white hand, I can almost imagine him smiling weakly and saying "thanks" just before he expired.

Steny Hoyer (if that’s his real name) apologizes…

for calling opponents of Obamacare “un-American”.

I guess we ought to be big about this, so...


"Apology accepted"

But wait, there’s more!

The cost of big government isn’t just reflected in income taxes and deficit spending. As Clyde Crews and Ryan Young point out, regulatory costs amount to a hidden tax that exceeded $1 trillion last year. And it is a particularly insidious “tax” because it is practically invisible.
The hidden tax of federal regulation cost businesses and consumers an additional $1.187 trillion last year—none of which shows up in the federal budget. Regulation eats up an additional 8.3 percent of GDP. We have to work an additional 34 days to pay for the federal regulatory burden.

It’s tempting to brush off regulatory costs, since most of them are borne by businesses. But remember, businesses pass on their costs to consumers. We all pay for the cost of the regulatory state.
The federal government is metastasizing into an enormous, out-of-control tumor on the body politic. It’s time for radical surgery.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hmmmm...

Sounds a bit counterintuitive to me:
[T]hieves have broken into a Dutch prison to steal the inmates' televisions.

Twice in the last six weeks, burglars broke into a minimum-security prison and stole TVs from cells while prisoners were on weekend furloughs, a spokesman for the justice ministry said on Wednesday.
H/T: Mrs. Paco

Happy Feet Friday

Ella gives a fine performance of “Beale Street Blues” (and you’re right, that’s Nat King Cole who’s poking his nose in the door; the scene is from the movie St. Louis Blues).

Today also marks another anniversary

An extremely sad one.

Vote for Arlen Specter says…Stacy McCain?!?

It’s ok, folks. Stacy hasn’t misplaced his mind. It’s a case of wheels within wheels…

Jump! Jump!

Daniel Henninger at the WSJ says “Democrats at the Edge of the Cliff”.
In 1994 when the Democrats lost over 50 House seats at mid-term, the party's favorable rating was 62%, and for the Congress they controlled it was 53%. They still got killed. Now the party's favorable is 38% and Congress's approval is 25%. The Republicans' numbers are low, too, but they're not in charge.

The Democratic Party is on the edge of an electoral cliff with a long fall to the bottom. No wonder they're seeing a demon under every bed.
And they still want to push immigration “reform”, cap-and-trade, financial “reform” and a VAT. One is tempted to express a suspicion that drugs and alcohol are involved. Or perhaps they’re just crazy.

Or are they crazy like a fox? Immigration and cap-and-trade both enjoy a certain amount of support from the idiot-wing of the Republican Party. Maybe nudging this legislation along represents an attempt by Democrats to damage the capacity of the Republican Party to serve as a banner about which disaffected independents will want to rally. Just a thought.

Happy Lenin's Birthday Earth Day!



Environmental wackos of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your bacon sandwiches!

And don't forget, comrades: you are strictly enjoined to stay awake.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

From the Shelves of the Paco Library



For those interested in the Middle Ages, Seven Medieval Kings, by Joseph Dahmus, is an excellent survey of some of the leading figures of that historical epoch: Justinian, Harun al-Rashid, Charlemagne, Henry II, Frederick II, Louis IX and Louis XI. In a lucid, fast-paced prose style, Dahmus relates the careers of these sovereigns who did so much, for good or ill, to shape their world.

Charlemagne, whose reign went far toward unifying the fragmented Europe that had resulted from the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, was truly a military marvel of the times:
Charlemagne’s military successes and the size of his empire aroused the wonder of his royal contemporaries, from the Anglo-Saxon kings of Britain to the caliph in faraway Baghdad. His was no mere Frankish kingdom. It was an empire that included Spaniards, Italians, Slavs and Avars. Einhard says Charlemagne more than doubled the territory he had inherited from his father (and brother). In the north he had added Saxony and Frisia, Bavaria to the east and the borderlands taken from the Slavs and Avars, to the southwest the littoral of the northern Adriatic with the exception of Venice, two thirds of Italy, Brittany in the west, and the Spanish march across the Pyrenees. Yet he conquered not merely to add to his empire. In his judgment two motives justified his wars: the defense of his people and the defense and spread of Christianity. The majority of his wars he waged against pagans to the east who menaced his frontiers and against Moslems in Spain.
Harun-al-Rashid, celebrated even in fiction as an important character in the Arabian Nights tales, was certainly one of the most illustrious and powerful of the caliphs, and the jewel of the Abbasid dynasty.
Harun, just twenty-five, inaugurated what tradition records as one of the most brilliant reigns in the history of kings. What kind of man was Harun? Was he the charming and princely caliph of the Arabian Nights whose enormous power was matched only by the fabulous wealth and whose harem was filled with girls as numerous as the stars and more ravishingly beautiful than the moon? Part of this picture is true. Contemporary poets and chroniclers extolled Harun’s might and munificence, and while no contemporary writer has left an exact number of the female population of his harem, it may have numbered a thousand. The court historians speak of his nocturnal revelries when, despite Koranic prohibitions, wine flowed freely to lighten the hearts of the dancers and the bowstrings of the musicians. The Arabian Nights introduce Djafar, the son of Yahya his adviser, as Harun’s favorite companion in these revels, and the probable truth of these stories is borne out by more prosaic sources. That Harun even disguised himself on occasion and roamed the streets and bazaars of Baghdad after nightfall is also true.
But as the author is quick to point out, there is much in Harun’s character and history that was repugnant:
Harun was guilty of acts of cruelty, even savagery. Perhaps his greatest cruelty was that of permitting his governors to fleece his subjects just so long as they handed over his share. Single acts of savagery mar the greater part of his reign. Particularly vicious was his last act. He ordered the innocent brother of a rebellious chieftain in Khurasan seized, called in a butcher, and then had him cut off the joints of his fingers and toes, then hands and feet, one by one, until the poor man expired. Harun witnessed this barbarity from his death bed.
As the saying goes, history is biography…or is it the other way around? In either event, there is plenty of both packed into the pages of this highly instructive volume; a thoroughly good read.

Somehow, I don't think this is about plentiful beefsteak

The U.S. is starting to look as if it has adopted the Argentinian economic model (H/T: Instapundit)


Argentina: Hopin' and changin' since 1946!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Conceal this!

I dunno. Maybe Sydney Greenstreet could get away with it if he wore an overcoat 2 sizes too big.

A match made in...well, not heaven, exactly

The Blog Prof says that Rahm Emanuel wants to be mayor of Chicago.


"C'mon, Daley, ya schmuck, ya! Let's see you do a battement glissé!

Update: Rahm Emanuel, gasbag.

Dear South Carolina

No offense. You're a lovely state with great people. But, you know, really; can't you do better than this?

Also via Gateway Pundit, an anti-Che song (about freakin' time!)

Jaw-dropping

Confederate Yankee has a post, with links to the relevant stories, on the decision by Bill Clinton and Janet Reno to use CS gas during the Waco siege, with the intent of putting the children in the compound in danger so as to trigger their mothers’ maternal instincts and force an evacuation. Like CY, I had never heard this before.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tailgunner Joe


Joe Klein: I have here in my hand, a napkin with the names of seditionists...

Update: Welcome Instapunditi!

Update II: An absolutely first-rate idea from Kathy Shaidle.

Hypocrisy on stilts

Democrats are screaming that the tea-partistas are ratcheting the rhetoric up to incendiary levels. This is, of course, just the usual liberal strategy of falsely attributing characteristics and motives to opponents in an effort to isolate them.

There is an utterly shameful hypocrisy to all of this, as David Gutmann points out in his article, “Blue Rage and Red Rage”, at the American Spectator. Gutmann takes us for a little stroll down memory lane, when Bush Derangement Syndrome had reached epidemic proportions.
Many Bush death-wishers chose not to hide behind their blogging pseudonyms, but marched -- presumably under the eyes of the police -- carrying placards that openly declared their violent sentiments. The producer of "Zombie-Time," who records left-wing marches around the country, has photographed a host of these provocative placards. Here are some of the most expressive examples of the genre:

"KILL TERRORISTS. BOMB THERE HOUSE (sic). KILL BUSH. BOMB HIS F---IN HOUSE"

"SAVE MOTHER EARTH. KILL BUSH"

"HANG BUSH FOR WAR CRIMES"

"BUSH IS THE DISEASE. DEATH IS THE CURE."

"I'M HERE TO KILL BUSH. (SHOOT ME.)"

"BUSH IS THE ONLY DOPE WORTH SHOOTING."

"DEATH TO EXTREMIST TERRORIST PIG-BUSH"

"THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PEOPLE LIKE YOU: KILL BUSH!"

A mobile guillotine was paraded with the sign, "BUSH WHACKER," hung over a basket containing the president's severed head.
The bloody-mindedness wasn’t by any means limited to the professional placard-bearers.
The following exchange in October 2006 took place on Bill Maher's Real Time. It suggests that John Kerry is, at the very least, a sore loser.

MAHER: You could have went [sic] to New Hampshire and killed two birds with one stone.

KERRY: Or, I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone.
Probably not, Lurch. You’d have flung a rock at the President and, most likely, it would have boomeranged off a pillar and parted your hair on the wrong side. Can’t risk that!

There is a groundswell of opposition to big government growing, and it naturally will focus on the most visible proponents of the nanny state: the president and congress. Given the fear and anger that the Democrats’ overreach has engendered among what appears to be a majority of voters, the rhetoric inevitably is going to be pitched kind of high from time to time. Since the liberals seemed to have no trouble at all with the extremist sloganeering against Bush and company, and since the tea-party crowds, though enthusiastic, have not come anywhere near the frenzy of hatred manifested by the left against W, I find the trembling alarm of Democratic shills like Frank Rich and Joe Klein to be comical if sincerely felt, and deeply dishonest if not (snort-worthy in either case). It will be interesting to see whether the Alinsky model can, indeed, be used to isolate and silence scores of millions of people. I suspect not, but I am nonetheless keeping my powder dry (for the benefit of any left-wing literalists out there who may have stumbled upon this site, that’s what’s known as a metaphor).

Hate ‘em all, let the government sort ‘em out!

Stacy McCain has an extremely interesting post on the Southern Poverty Law Center and its highly selective definition of “hate”. The post provides an excellent overview of the “links-and-ties” method used by the SPLC to smear conservatives, focusing on the activities of Mark Potok (there is a photo of Potok in Stacy’s post; I am completely unsurprised to see that he looks like a suburban Trotsky).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Excellent point

Chris Taylor has the smack-down of the month.

Flash of Spring


Not mine; this is a bed of flowers at a house near our parish church.

Break out the red green flags!

Don Surber notes that the United States' celebration of Earth Day falls on Lenin's birthday. Surber writes, "Thursday is Lenin’s Birthday. It will be celebrated around the world as Earth Day, a holiday begun by Democratic Sen. Gaylord Nelson in 1970 to keep anti-capitalist sentiment going after the Vietnam War ended."

Rich, creamy irony, indeed. The totalitarian impulse is difficult to eradicate because there will always be people who wish to order and manipulate the lives of their fellows, in the manner of a scientist experimenting with his lab rats, and no sooner does one statist ideology collapse from the weight of its own internal contradictions than another rises to take its place. Ninety years ago, communism; 35 years ago (and counting), environmentalism; tomorrow, government control of health care. That is why we should never grow complacent, never ease our vigilance; whenever one tyrant falls, there is another waiting in the wings to fill his shoes - as evidenced with chilling clarity in this short film clip of Lenin's state funeral.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I can see you!

This happened back in February of this year, but I just stumbled across it. Apple MacBook laptops distributed to students in a Philadelphia suburb were equipped with Webcams that were apparently used to take pictures of the users.

I was curious to know how prevalent this practice is, and whether it affected other types of computers sold to the general public. Using some special software developed by PacoTech, Inc., which reverses the Webcam to show who might be watching you, I took a screen shot of someone who's been spying on me. Here it is:


Looks like you need to upgrade those speakers, Mr. President!

Sunday Funnies

How to class up your porch.

The Muppets cover a a well-known rock tune (H/T: Captain Heinrichs).

Mr. Bingley, engaging in Photographically Advanced Camera Ops, spots Wronwright on his way to repaint the black helicopters.

Just when I thought I was beginning to understand Australians

Look, I think I get the whole Vegemite thing. Not something I think I'd care for, but, still, just a matter of personal taste.

This, however, seems to be completely over the top.

(Courtesy of JP in the comments)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Rule 5 Saturday

Eleanor Powell and Buddy Rich – what a combo!

Steve Cohen (Clueless, Tennessee)

Rep. Steve Cohen, of Tennessee’s 9th district, recently said that the only things missing from the tea partiers were the white robes and hoods. In other words, they are the spiritual descendants of the KKK.

Really, Steve? You mean like your opponent in the upcoming election, Charlotte Bergmann?

(H/T: Chris Muir).

Not from my shelves, but still possibly of interest

I stumbled across a book today about this character named Grigory Perelman, a Russian who solved the Poincaré Conjecture.

Now, I readily admit that my relationship to the more esoteric planes of mathematics is rather like that of Voltaire to God: when we meet on the street, we tip our hats to one another but do not speak. In fact, when I first heard of the Poincaré Conjecture – oh, about an hour ago – my thoughts immediately turned to Raymond Poincaré, the French statesman whose career extended from the late 19th century through the first quarter of the 20th. What, I wondered, could he have been conjecturing about? The dubious wisdom of letting all those German tourists into the country? The chances of slipping that bill for dinner with the can-can dancer past the accountants?

But no, it turns out that the famous conjecture belonged to Raymond’s cousin, Henri Poincaré. The theorem pertains to…er…well, perhaps you’d better read about it for yourself. The book, which patient readers will recall that I referenced way back there in the first paragraph, is Perfect Rigor: A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century, by Masha Gessen (reviewed here by John Allen Paulus). A brilliant fellow, Perelman also fulfills our seeming desire for oddball geniuses: long hair, anti-social, lives with his mother. Gessen and Paulus explain:
Gessen, on the basis of many incidents of Perelman’s prickliness, his long hair and fingernails and Rasputin-like appearance, and his often asocial behavior, suggests that he has Asperger’s syndrome, sometimes referred to as autism-lite. Quoting the psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen, an expert in the field, she writes that people with Asperger’s have limited social skills, have trouble communicating, often speak oddly (their speech is characterized sometimes by jarring transitions, literal interpretations, or obliviousness to nuance), and frequently need help with the minutiae of everyday living and so are dependent on others, such as their mothers, as was the case with Perelman…

Still, Perelman’s behavior, unusual as it sometimes has been, doesn’t seem all that peculiar to me. I suspect that a small part of the appeal of his story depends on the satisfaction people derive from reading about unbalanced scientists and mathematicians. Witness the popularity of A Beautiful Mind , the biography of John Nash, or The Strangest Man , the recent biography of the physicist Paul Dirac. The phenomenon is vaguely akin to the schadenfreude elicited by tabloids’ tales of celebrities’ faults and foibles.
And there is, of course, the genius’ disdain for lesser mortals:
The next year the European Mathematical Society planned to announce the award of a prize to Perelman, and he responded by saying he’d create an unpleasant scene if he was given it. According to Gromov, he believed that his work was not complete, that the judges were not qualified to assess it, and that he, not they, should decide when he should receive a prize.
This disdain shouldn’t necessarily be taken as mere arrogance, however; perversely enough, there is an admixture of humility:
In 2006, Perelman turned down the prestigious Fields Medal, sometimes described as the Nobel Prize of mathematics, for his work in proving the Poincaré Conjecture. He explained, “Everybody understood that if the proof is correct then no other recognition is needed”…

Perelman rejected the Clay prize [He turned down one million dollars! Genius? You make the call – Paco]. He reportedly said through the closed door to his spartan apartment, “I have all I want.” The comments he made after rejecting the Fields Medal probably reflect his present state of mind as well:

I don’t want to be on display like an animal in a zoo. I’m not a hero of mathematics. I’m not even that successful. That is why I don’t want to have everybody looking at me.
There is much more along strictly mathematical lines that may appeal to brainy coves like Smitty and Jeff S. As for myself, I revel in the character and his narrative, and am content to merely goggle at the math from within my personal cloud of unknowing, like a cow in a pasture watching a truck go by.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Feet Friday

Some righteous dance moves from the Condos Brothers (1943).

Hammer time!

Seraphic Secret has a video of the great Charles Krauthammer commenting on Obama's ridiculous nuclear summit.

Don't mess with Andrea Harris

Andrea takes on AllahPundit (this judge calls it a TKO for Andrea).

With a link to the Allah Pundit drinking game!

Tax Day

I regret that I was unable to come out and play today, but I had so much work to do that I barely even got any serious smoking done (and apologies, again, for not finding time to do the weekly book report).

Not to fear, though, because others admirably covered the day's events. Stacy McCain and Smitty were all over the Washington. D.C. protest. Love this sign, incidentally...



Carol's Closet has pictures of the protest in Tampa.

Update: By the way, Barry claims to be "amused" by the tax day protesters. He told another one of his patented whoppers, claiming that he has lowered taxes, and that the protesters ought to be thanking him.

Well, ok.


Thanks...jughead

Update: Donald Douglas has the left coast covered, and Lance Burri has a crowd shot in Madison, WI.

Status Quo

Ben Stein’s 1976 memo to Norman Lear indicates that liberals don’t seem to have evolved much in the last 30 or so years.

Anti-Incumbency Fever!

Dead man beats incumbent.

Congress Fruit Bat Henry Waxman Backs Down

Richard McEnroe has the facts.

CAUTION: Richard's post includes actual photos of Waxman.

Brokeopolis

A number of large cities are insolvent and - Wow! Didn't see that coming! - public employee unions are a big part of the problem, as underscored in this post at the Neighborhood Effects blog run by the Mercatus Center of George Mason University.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Tax Cuttingest Congress in History

You can laugh or you can cry. Mike Pence - stout fellow! - chooses to laugh.

Tax Day Eve

I had the pleasure of spending the evening before Tax Day at the third Smittypalooza. Smitty - the learned and debonair host of the party at the Army-Navy Club in Washington - is, of course, the Chief Operating Officer of The Other McCain; the great Stacy, himself, was present, and actually displayed his kick-ass guitar skills (and the singing was pretty good, too). The real music star, however - it was his guitar, after all - was Chris Cassone, who's written some stirring Tea Party anthems.

Barbara of American Freedom was there; she's the sweetest little hell-raiser you're likely to meet in a month of Sundays. Other distinguished attendees included Wombat Rampant, Matthew Vadum (a contributor to the American Spectator), and Brian Garst, a fellow who may look like he's 18, but is no callow blogger, I assure you.

I found it particularly gratifying, after a long day laboring in the federal salt mines, to clink beer bottles with Stacy and the gang. Thank you, guys!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Send 'em back home

James Stockdale pushes a version of an idea that I have long advocated: let congressmen work from their home districts instead of gathering around the great lobbyist water hole of Washington, D.C.

I wrote long ago about the desirability of breaking up the executive branch and distributing it around the country. With modern information and communications technology, there's no reason that the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency, ad infinitum shouldn't be headquartered in places like Omaha or Charlotte or Phoenix. The rent's cheaper, it would create more jobs outside of the capital, and it would serve as a symbolic, but important, dilution of centralized power.

And frankly, I'd love to see my agency headquartered in Lizard Lick, North Carolina. Top that for a cool address!

The Supreme Court: a shaky refuge for those who support the Constitution

The always excellent Thomas Sowell delivers a well-placed boot to the trouser seat of Republican presidents who go with "safe" picks for the Supreme Court.
If and when the Republicans return to power in Washington, we can only hope that they remember what got them suddenly and unceremoniously dumped out of power the last time. Basically, it was running as Republicans and then governing as if they were Democrats, running up big deficits, with lots of earmarks and interfering with the market.

But their most lasting damage to the country has been putting people like John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court.

Atta boy!

Self-styled conservatives like David Brooks and David Frum advocate a kind of incremental conservatism - which, in practice, means laying down one mile of track for every two the liberals rip up.

Not so Governor Christie of New Jersey, who is tackling the fiscal crisis and the unions head on.

I'm not the only one with a microphone hidden in the Oval Office

Looks like Smitty's been planting a few bugs himself.

Loose bows

Steve Burri's "special camera" picks up something in President Obama's bow to President Hu Jintao of China that press cameras missed.

On the subject of Obama's bowing, William Jacobson asks a first-rate question.

Hey, you know those black helicopters? They're real!

They just happen to be Mexican.
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, hears a lot of disturbing reports from Texas law enforcement officials working along the U.S. border with Mexico. Poe returned from his most recent trip to the Lone Star State claiming to have seen photographs taken by local sheriffs of Mexican military helicopters in action over U.S. territory. One copter was photographed hovering over a building; the other over a recreational vehicle park, according to the Examiner's Barbara Hollingsworth. "We don't know what their intention was," Poe told Hollingsworth, adding: "The Mexican military has no business coming into the United States."
I guess Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is too busy focusing on the threat from Canada.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Now, that's what you call a close call

A doctor removes a live round from a soldier's head.

Totally unrelated, but check out this potential inspiration for a low-budget Hitchcock knock-off.

Also unrelated, but I wonder if Iowahawk's kids go to school in something like this...

Well, there’s your problem right there



Our democracy hasn’t been hitting on all cylinders, but not to worry; Mr. Hopewrench is on the job.
President Obama said Sunday that the United States is still “working on” democracy and a top aide said he has taken “historic steps” to improve democracy in the United States during his time in office.
As Jennifer Rubin says,
[W]hat has Obama done that qualifies as historic steps to improve our own democracy? I’m stumped to think of a single thing. Great transparency? Hmm. Haven’t seen that in the health-care legislative process or elsewhere. Toleration and civility for the opposition? Puhleez. Does Obama regard his own presidency as some historic leap forward for American democracy? Apparently so, a troubling sign that his narcissism continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
Or, as President Sarkozy of France might put it, “Sacre bleu! Ze Américain has ze bad case of ze folie de grandeur, no?”

Cleanliness is actually two or three blocks from Godliness

Hygiene rules in British hospitals to be relaxed in order to accommodate the usual suspects.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

If you can't eliminate guns...

...go after the ammo.

Uh-oh...

...looks like Biden figured out how to Google.

(H/T: Anthony Sacramone at Contentions)

I bet all those Aztec priests went through the same thing when Cortez conquered Mexico

Who could this be?
Nowadays, [he] needs medication to fall sleep. He feels a constant tightness in his chest. He takes beta-blockers to help him get through the day. He is gaunt and his skin is pallid. He is 57, but he looks much older.
A failed Wall Street tycoon? A congressman caught in flagrante delicto with an intern?

Why, no, it’s Phil Jones, the head of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England.
His days are now shaped by investigative commissions at the university and in the British Parliament. He sits on his chair at the hearings, looking miserable, sometimes even trembling. The Internet is full of derisive remarks about him, as well as insults and death threats. "We know where you live," his detractors taunt.
Click the link to read the whole fascinating article in Spiegel Online, which also includes a profile of Canadian Steve McIntyre, the “Jack” in this tale of Climate-Change giants who has been hacking away at the global-warming beanstalk from his small house in Toronto. A sample:
One day, McIntyre came across a curve that seemed all too familiar to him. It was the famous hockey stick curve (see graphic), with which US climatologist Michael Mann sought to prove that, during the last millennium, temperatures have never increased as sharply as they are rising today.

But McIntyre was suspicious. "In financial circles, we talk about a hockey stick curve when some investor presents you with a nice, steep curve in the hope of palming something off on you."
I wonder what Al Gore makes of it all...

Assortment

El Campeador bids a fond farewell to Bart Stupak (truly, lol!!)

The all-seeing Eye of Polyphemus takes a look at the retirement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

That wild man of the interwebs, Tim T, gives us some art criticism.

Andrea Harris draws our attention to a case of fake Islamophobia.

What’s in a name? Founding Bloggers says quite a lot, actually.

And, as bingbing points out, whatever name we use, there’s an awful lot of it.

The Daley Gator spots an outbreak of feminist hysteria.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sunday Funny

I wouldn't mind having dreamed some of these up myself.

(H/T: Are We Lumberjacks?)

Tragedy

We offer our prayers for the repose of the souls of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and the 95 other people who died when their plane crashed in Russia this morning. God bless them and their families and friends.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Rule 5 Saturday

Sensuous Ertha Kitt belts out the blues.

Stop us before we offend somebody!

Michael Gerson has written a piece for the Washington Post that seems to be another of those mystifying specimens of Republican self-doubt, a warning that “we” should not act like “them”.
We have entered a national debate on the role and size of government, intensified by the passage of health-care-reform legislation. It is not quite Antietam, but many Americans feel that their deepest beliefs about liberty and self-government are being undermined. Passions run high. Activists slip easily into reckless talk of tyranny and revolution.

In this context -- on the day health reform became law -- Sarah Palin wrote to her Twitter tribe: "Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: 'Don't Retreat, Instead -- RELOAD!' " In a moose-hunting culture, these words probably carry less menace. Palin was not trying to incite violence. But she was careless about the context of her words and ignored a positive duty to confront political extremism.
Perhaps Gerson thinks that Palin should have added “THIS IS A METAPHOR, GUYS”, for the benefit of those who do not enjoy membership in the moose-hunting fraternity. And I really don’t follow his drift when he says that Palin “ignored a positive duty to confront political extremism.” Confront what political extremism? As I have said before, show me a list of terrorist attacks by Tea Party activists, of universities besieged, of violent mass protests. Even the charges of felonious expectoration and use of a vile racial epithet proved to be bogus. Americans watched the most brazenly partisan government in recent times pass a bill that a majority believe (correctly, in my opinion) will have a seriously adverse impact on their quality of life, and the first duty of conservative leaders is to ask their followers to play nice?

Gerson continues:
The most basic test of democracy is not what people do when they win; it is what people do when they lose. Citizens bring their deepest passions to a public debate -- convictions they regard as morally self-evident. Yet a war goes on. Abortion remains legal. A feared health-reform law passes. Democracy means the possibility of failure. While no democratic judgment is final -- and citizens should continue to work to advance their ideals -- respecting the temporary outcome of a democratic process is the definition of political maturity.
Now, I would call that a very true-ish notion; however, it lacks the context to which Gerson previously attached so much importance, and which makes all the difference between relevance and irrelevance. I agree wholeheartedly that a functioning democracy depends on the acquiescence in the final decision by those whose candidates have lost. If every election resulted in riots and insurrection, then ours would be a genuine banana republic. But I think it matters very much what people do when they win – or, to be more precise, it matters very much what elected officials do when they win. A majority of voters gave us Obama and a Democratic Senate and House of Representatives; so be it. But it seems clear that the majority of voters did not believe that they were going to be getting the kind of federal overreach they are seeing in, to take the most egregious example, the health care bill. The opposition to this bill was wide and deep, and was ignored by the Democrats. It is one thing to expect the losers in an election to abide by the results. It is quite another when, in addition to the losers, a large proportion of the ostensible winners are being asked to accept results which they didn’t endorse. Democracy certainly does mean “the possibility of failure”; but it does not imply the acceptability of deception and mendacity, nor does it apotheosize elected officials and render their decisions sacred, in spite of being objectionable to the majority. And we are constantly informed, even by many Republicans, that the health care entitlement is practically irreversible. This is a sentiment I do not share, but if it proves to be true, then it would be at least one democratic judgment that does, indeed, turn out to be “final”. Is it not a matter of some concern, therefore, that this final decision represented an abuse, at least, of the spirit of democracy?

Gerson’s suggestion would be to throw the rascals out over the course of the next two elections. I agree. I believe practically everybody who opposes the policies of President Obama and his party agrees. I know of no one who is calling for Obama’s impeachment, and the few instances of violence recorded recently (actual and threatened) have nothing to do with the groundswell of public opposition to the policies and ideological vector of this administration (and everything to do with fringe nutbuckets). If the rhetoric is heightened and occasionally intemperate, the Democrats have no one but themselves to blame, for they have turned deaf ears to reason, and adopted a “because-I-said-so” approach both to debate and to governing. And I go on record as saying that talk of “tyranny”, far from being “reckless”, may be one of the surest and most non-violent ways of reminding our progressive triumphalists that those who still value liberty are alive and well – and numerous.

Update: By the way, I found the Gerson article via a link in a post by Peter Wehner at Contentions. The names of Gerson and Wehner were giving off bad vibes for some reason, but I couldn't remember exactly why. So I started Googling, and it all began to come back to me.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Man, those were the days!

Roberta X draws our attention to a time when you could buy ammo in grocery stores.

I can't even find three-quarters of what I'm looking for in a gun store, these days.

The Harry Reid Bus Tour Gets Some Traction

Happy Feet Friday

A young Mel Torme sings “Baby Boogie.”

Qatar Humor

I was alarmed to read in the news that a Qatar diplomat was involved in what initially appeared to be a shoe-bomb incident aboard a U.S. flight, but was genuinely astonished to learn later that the whole thing turned out to be a quip gone horribly wrong. Mohammed al Modadi, who seems to have been sneaking a cigarette in the lavatory, was challenged by Federal air marshals, and he told them that he was trying to “light his shoes on fire”, after which he was promptly subdued (though later released).

Who would have dreamed that the citizens of Qatar were such cut-ups? My curiosity got the better of me, and so this morning I paid a visit to the Qatari embassy in Washington in order to get a close-up look at these merry Mohammedan mad-caps.

It was a fine day as I walked up the half-dozen steps to the front door. The sunshine, filtered through the branches of a Japanese maple tree, created a mottled pattern of light and shade on the porch. The door had a small sign on it that read “Pull”; obeying instructions to the letter, I pulled on the ornate brass door-handle, but the thing didn’t budge. I tried again, with no greater success, and so finally grasped the heavy brass knocker and gave a couple of short raps. A deep masculine voice bellowed from inside, “Push!” I did so, and the door opened easily.

A uniformed security guard chuckled softly. “Heh-heh. Welcome to the Qatar Embassy, sir! One of these days, we get around to putting that ‘Pull’ sign on the other side of the door, maybe. How may I help you?”

I stated my interest in interviewing the information officer, and the guard told me to step over to a desk near the entrance-way to a hall that ran through the building. Still grinning, the guard said, “Mr. Rasheed will help you.”

I walked over to the desk, but there was obviously a dearth of Rasheeds. I looked around and saw only the guard, who had resumed his position near the door. I poked my head over the desk and was nearly startled out of my skin when a sort of midget suddenly shot up out of nowhere. He was attired in a white robe and a ridiculously large green turban, and his face bore an angry scowl. In a high, squeaky voice he asked, rather querulously, “Are you an American?”

“Er, yes”, I answered, “You see, I’d like to…”

Before I could finish my sentence, the pint-sized Qatari opened the front of his robe, revealing a bandolier full of dynamite, and he pulled a chord, shouting “Allah akbar!” There was a loud Pop!, and a puff of smoke. I’m sure that I set a new record for the standing, flat-footed back-jump, and I’m not altogether sure that my Panama hat didn’t flip over in the air several times in the manner of a coin toss. As the smoke cleared, a large man in a baggy gray suit rose from behind the desk, holding the littlest Qatari under one arm - a ventriloquist’s dummy! He – the real Mr. Rasheed - was positively guffawing.

“Haw, haw, haw!! Did you get that one, Daud?”

I turned to look at the guard, and he was standing there holding a camera in his hand, apparently having captured my ludicrous high-jump for posterity.

“Got it, chief!”

Mr. Rasheed advanced with an outstretched hand. “I hope you will forgive my little joke, sir. It is a kind of rite of passage for all first-time visitors to our Embassy.”

I took his hand and immediately felt a jolt run up my arm, the experience being strongly suggestive of the effect on a toddler who has decided that the obvious purpose of a fork is to stick it into an electrical outlet.

Mr Rasheed burst into laughter again, holding his palm out and revealing a joy buzzer.

There was much of a highly offensive nature that I could have said at that moment; however, reluctant to run the risk of damaging diplomatic relations with a country that, given the inscrutable foreign policy designs of the current administration, might prove to be our only ally in the near future, I played the good sport.

“Er…heh…very amusing, Mr Rasheed. In fact, your practical jokes dovetail nicely with my reason for being here. Having read about your Mr. Modadi’s practical joke aboard the airplane yesterday, I came to chat with your information officer about this heretofore unperceived strain of humor that seems to be an attribute of the typical Qatari’s personality.”

I winced as he threw a comradely arm around my shoulder – wary, lest he attempt to slip a mouse into the breast pocket of my suit jacket.

“Ah, you have stumbled across the best-kept secret in the middle east, my friend! We Qataris are indeed a light-hearted, fun-loving people. Always the life of the party! Incidentally, I am the information officer, but, if you like, I will be glad to introduce you to the ambassador, himself!”

After what I had been through thus far, this was certainly gratifying news. Surely the ambassador would possess sufficient gravitas to provide me with a few minutes of sober conversation.

Mr. Rasheed went over to the telephone on his desk, mumbled a few words into the instrument, and then escorted me toward the rear of the building. Our progress was extremely slow, as my guide insisted on pointing out various objets d’art nestled in little nooks and alcoves, and drawing my attention to a map of Qatar on the wall, expounding on the country’s history at rather greater length than my attention-span could easily accommodate.

Finally, we reached the ambassador’s office, and Mr. Rasheed took me inside. Rising from a beautiful mahogany desk, impeccably attired in a blue pinstriped suit, was the ambassador. He held out his hand and I took it; it felt strangely cold and stiff.

Imagine my horror when the ambassador’s hand came loose in mine, leaving an empty cuff dangling by his side. I heard a click and saw a flash in my peripheral vision. It was the security guard and his camera again.

The three men laughed until they cried, while I stood there, staring dumbly at the prosthetic paw that I was still clenching. I dropped it on the desk, drew myself up and prepared to deliver myself of what I believe is called a diplomatic protest, when Mr. Rasheed patted me on the shoulder. “You are very good sport! Please, sit here.”

I didn’t want to come across as priggish, so I forced a smile. However, instead of taking the chair offered, I thought to outfox them, and plopped down in another – only to suffer the embarrassment of creating a loud burst of apparent flatulence. I leaped from the chair, extracting from its hidden depths a whoopee cushion.

“Really, Mr. Ambassador, this is all…er…highly irregular!”

“Sí”, he said.

I was perplexed. “See what?” I inquired.

“Sí, is very irregular, I theen’.”

His speech sounded oddly Spanish to me. “Pardon me, but you are the Qatari ambassador, aren’t you?”

The camera clicked and flashed again.

The three of them broke out in a chorus of their now familiar laughter. Mr. Rasheed, slapping his thigh and wiping the tears of merriment from his eyes, explained that the Qatari ambassador was out of town, and that the fellow who had imposed on me was, in actuality, the embassy janitor, Juan Morales. In fact, he said, he had slowed our progress to the ambassador’s office for the precise purpose of giving Juan sufficient time to change from his overalls into one of the ambassador’s suits.

I felt that I had gathered all the information I needed on the drollery inherent in the Qatari character – and then some – so, bidding them good day, I moved briskly down the hall towards the front door. Mr. Rasheed and his entourage ran after me. The information officer attempted to sooth my bruised amour-propre. “Sir, please, wait! I’m sorry if we have offended you. Here”, he said, taking a can of nuts from his desk, “kindly accept this small offering of atonement. They are almonds grown in my own country. Try one.”

He seemed so sincere, so remorseful, that it would have been churlish to have refused his gift. So, smiling a smile that conveyed the idea that all was forgiven, I pried the top off the can – only to have a four-foot long paper snake pop out.

Click, went the camera.

I ran to the door – remembering, in spite of my agitation, to “Pull” – and strode off down the street.

My relief at having escaped the Qatari funhouse was, however, premature. As I stood on a corner, waiting to cross the street, I received a swift kick in the seat of my trousers. I turned in high indignation to see one of my friends from the office, grinning fatuously.

“What did you do that for?” I asked, between clenched teeth.

“Just following instructions”, he said, pointing at my shoulder.

I reached over my shoulder and discovered a yellow post-it note, which I pulled off and read. On the paper was scribbled the following imperative sentence: “Kick me!”

Cooler heads…

…should ultimately be displayed on pikes (metaphorically speaking, of course). W. James Antle III sounds the alarm on Republican repeal-wafflers.

This is precisely why the Tea Partiers, while working to influence the GOP, should not let themselves become a mere subsidiary of an organization that has far too many faint-hearted time-servers who swoon before the daunting, but absolutely necessary, task of rolling back socialism. Money quote:
If Republicans cannot repeal an unpopular bill where many of the costs are front-loaded, many of the benefits are yet to come, and where the creation of another entitlement is as detrimental to their own partisan self-interest as it is to the nation's finances, then conservatives cannot count on Republicans to undo very much of what they routinely denounce and campaign against.

The Republican Party will simply be the saucer that cools the Tea Party. Cooler heads will have prevailed -- and so will have liberalism.
The times call for fewer John Cornyns, and more Thaddeus McCotters.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hey, how is Harry Reid's bus tour working out?

From the Shelves of the Paco Library


Overlook Press has been publishing handsome new editions of the works of P.G. Wodehouse, and I have been delighted to find several titles with which I was unfamiliar, including today’s offering, Barmy in Wonderland.

Our hero is Cyril “Barmy” Fotheringay-Phipps [Fotheringay is pronounced “Fungy”, by the way], a young man not overburdened with gray matter, but handsome and congenial. Through the good offices of his uncle, he has taken a job as a hotel desk clerk with the redoubtable J.G. Anderson, a hotelier. Barmy is sacked as the result of an incident involving himself and Mervyn Potter, a Hollywood matinee idol with an Errol-Flynn-like propensity for irresponsibility, booze and women. Potter almost absent-mindedly manages to burn down his bungalow and is pulled from the flames by Barmy. The actor induces Barmy to join him in celebrating his narrow escape, and in the wee hours of the morning, the two men, now thoroughly drunk, decide that it would be a splendid idea to wake up J.G. Anderson and present him with a small token of their affection.
We had mentioned that his night had been disturbed. What had disturbed it had been the entry into his bedroom at about 3 a.m. of this Mervyn Potter and Cyril Fotheringay-Phipps, the desk clerk. They had come, they said, to present him with a slight testimonial of their esteem. Whereupon, after a few graceful words from Mr. Potter, who seemed to have constituted himself master of the ceremonies, Cyril Fotheringay-Phipps had pressed into Mr. Anderson’s hand a large, slimy, wriggling frog.

They had then withdrawn, laughing heartily, like a couple of intoxicated ambassadors who have delivered their credentials to a reigning monarch and are off to get a few quick ones before the bars close.
Potter convinces Barmy, who has come into a small inheritance and is now at loose ends, to invest in a play in which Potter is starring. Thus begins Barmy’s roller-coaster ride in the “legitimate” theater, with ex-Vaudeville agents turned Broadway producers, finicky actresses, a sinister lawyer (is there any other kind?) and his plagiarism brief, and a play that is not quite as “boffo” as Barmy’s partners had anticipated. Along the way, Barmy meets the girl of his dreams, to whom he contrives to introduce himself through the serendipitous accident of setting her hat on fire with his cigar.

The story line will be familiar to Wodehouse fans; however, it is, of course, the marvelously inventive metaphors and the vivid comic situations that make the book so enjoyable. A last sample:
The mentality of dogs is odd. One might have supposed that a moment’s reflection would have told Tulip that even the most unbalanced man does not climb water-pipes in order to fire revolvers at himself. Nevertheless, he was firmly convinced that it was Barmy who had been responsible for the fusillade. Looking back over the evening, it seemed to him that from start to finish Barmy had been the disrupting influence, and he was resolved to settle accounts with him once and for all. He hated horseplay. He gave his paws a final strop and advanced.
Another fine comic offering from the master that you Wodehouse fans won’t want to be without.

For what we're about to receive...

Miss Red has the funny.

The up and coming

Stacy McCain is doing a great job publicizing some of the new blood being infused into the GOP - people, for example, like Vernon Parker.

Another year gone by

A little bird told me that it's Richard McEnroe's birthday. Best wishes to a fearless, no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners conservative. Drop in at Three Beers Later and wish him a happy birthday.