Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The ol' college try

A psychotherapist, writing under the name Robin of Berkeley for American Thinker, pens an article speculating on Obama's state of mind, receives loads of hate mail from leftists, writes back to all of them inviting them to join him in a civil dialogue. Welcome to Trollville, Robin.

What do you do when Tech Support lets you down?

Whatever it is, I bet it isn't as awesome as this.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hubba, hubba!

Sure, they're Russian spies, and they need to be jailed, but, er, credit where credit is due.

(H/T: Don Surber)

Quantum pratfalls

I have low expectations for the Obama administration - very low - but even I would not have thought that the current crowd could be this fantastically stupid.
The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn't good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million -- if water isn't at least 99.9985% pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.
So, because 99% pure isn't good enough, it's better to leave the water totally polluted. This is insane. This is a Dumbocracy. Rule by the imbecilariat. Totalistupidism.

Words fail me. I hope the ballot-box won't in 2012.

Update: Team O, pluggin' the damn hole:

When the economic plan doesn't work, try a marketing campaign!

Joe Biden has been tabbed to sell the, er, success of Obama's stimulus plan. What could go wrong?

Representative Creeps

So, which one's the most arrogant, obnoxious, mentally unstable congressional ass-hat: Pete Stark or Alan Grayson? You make the call (write-in votes welcome).

Did Al Gore invite masseuse to fondle his sea bass and two hush puppies?

According to Byron York, this story is sounding more and more credible. I was particularly amused by this bit:
The accuser said Gore maneuvered her into the bedroom. His iPod docking station was there, he told her, and he wanted her to listen to "Dear Mr. President," a lachrymose attack on George W. Bush by the singer Pink.
So, Al wanted her to see his “iPod docking station”, eh? Is that a new spin on “etchings”? I once referred to Al Gore as the Aimee Semple McPherson of the global warming religion; the analogy is now perfect.

It's possible, of course, that this story may turn out to be bogus, but if so, it's the most brilliantly imagined, realistic fiction I've read in quite a while.

By the way, for those unfamiliar with the sea bass reference, you can read about it here.

(Big H/T to James Board).

Rest in Pork

The passing of Sen. Robert Byrd is now old news, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of linking to Richard McEnroe’s perfect summary of the man’s true legacy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Important safety tip from Jeff S.

From the inbox:

Older men subjected to devious new scam

Women often receive warnings about protecting themselves at the mall and
in dark parking lots, etc. This is the first warning I have seen for men. I
wanted to pass it on in case you haven't heard about it.

A 'heads up' for those men who may be regular customers at Lowe's, Home
Depot, Costco, or even Wal-Mart. This one caught me totally by surprise.

Over the last month I became a victim of a clever scam while out shopping.
Simply going out to get supplies has turned out to be quite traumatic. Don't be naive enough to think it couldn't happen to you or your friends.

Here's how the scam works:

Two nice-looking, college-aged girls will come over to your car or truck as
you are packing your purchases into your vehicle. They both start wiping
your windshield with a rag and Windex, with their breasts almost falling out
of their skimpy T-shirts. (It's impossible not to look).

When you thank them and offer them a tip, they say 'No' but instead ask for
a ride to McDonald's.

You agree and they climb into the vehicle. On the way, they start
undressing. Then one of them starts crawling all over you, while the other
one steals your wallet.

I had my wallet stolen Mar. 4th, 9th, 10th, twice on the 15th, 17th, 20th, 24th,
& 29th. Also Apr. 1st & 4th, twice on the 8th, 16th, 23rd, 26th & 27th, and
very likely again this upcoming weekend.

So tell your friends to be careful. What a horrible way to take advantage of
us older men. Warn your friends to be vigilant.

Wal-Mart has wallets on sale for $2.99 each. I found even cheaper ones for
$.99 at the dollar store and bought them out in three of their stores.

Also, you never get to eat at McDonald's. I've already lost 11 pounds just
running back and forth from Lowe's, to Home Depot, to Costco, Etc.

So please, send this on to all the older men that you know and warn them
to be on the lookout for this scam. (The best times are just before lunch and
around 4:30 in the afternoon.)

Department of Justice

No, seriously, it's really called that.

RINO miffed that John Hawkins won't let him horn in

David Frum has taken umbrage at John Hawkins' refusal to include him in Blogads Conservative Hive ( Little Miss Attila has the details).

Well, y'know, Dave, duh! Even Benedict Arnold had the good taste not to lobby for inclusion in the Society of the Cincinnati. Maybe that's pitching it kind of high, but come on. I'm all in favor of a big tent, but some folks come in just to get out of the rain and mooch our barbecue and then they head back to the big city to laugh at us for using the wrong fork or otherwise behaving as simple clods. We don't need people speaking on behalf of conservatism in the Old Media Church if they feel compelled to subscribe to the equivalent of the 39 Articles (Populism is always and everywhere the first ominous step on the slippery slope to anarchy; moderation in the pursuit of socialism is no vice; it's ok to sprinkle references to Edmund Burke and Bill Buckley throughout your essays but you need to do so very selectively and never in a context that might undermine your liberal pals; etc., ad nauseum).

Besides, isn't there some kind of quota on conservative Canadian punditry on the subject of U.S. politics? We've got Mark Steyn and Kathy Shaidle and Small Dead Animals, and they're the real McCoy. Why put up with the watered down hootch of David Frum?

The motto of the Toronto Police Department: To Observe and Neglect

Mark Steyn marvels at the performance of the Toronto police, who stood by idly watching as the usual crowd of nihilists rioted at the G-20 summit, vandalizing shops and burning cars (even police cars).

This is yet another argument for gun ownership. When the government fails to do one of the few things it’s supposed to be good at – maintaining law and order – then citizens are helpless unless they have the means to defend themselves.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

President Walter Mitty fantasizes about fixing the oil spill all by his lonesome

Why would Obama turn down an offer of assistance from the Dutch, who seem to be admirably equipped to handle just the kind of disaster represented by the Gulf oil spill? Confederate Yankee seems to know the answer.

More on this subject from John Steele Gordon at Contentions. And yes, you do, indeed, smell unions.

The "humanity" of the Taliban

Be prepared for the worst in this post from StraightShooters.

Is the Washington Metro-Rail holding Virginia commuters hostage?

A little context.

The commonwealth of Virginia and the Washington Metro are locked in a struggle over funding. Metro wants Virginia to cough up a whole bunch of money for system upgrades, while Governor McDonnell is insisting that two board members be appointed by Virginia.

I’m sure this is just one of those amazing coincidences, but I didn’t ride on a single train last week that had air conditioning (I commute on the orange line from Vienna, VA to Washington, D.C.) This situation has been especially wretched during the evening rush hour, with over-crowded trains – standing room only – having temperatures that were the same, or higher, than the outside air temperatures (this past week, the thermometer has registered in the mid to upper 90s). It’s a miracle that no one has experienced heat stroke yet. And, oh yes, by the way, Metro is preparing to launch its largest one-time fare increase in history (typical government operation: service deteriorates, charge more for it).

To me, it is simply not credible that the air conditioning systems on ten separate trains suddenly “malfunctioned”. I have complained to Metro, and have received no, let alone a satisfactory, explanation of the sauna-on-rails service last week. Until I get an explanation, I’m as justified in believing this to be a thuggish attempt by a bloated, top-heavy, government-run bureaucracy to extort funding from Virginia taxpayers by subjecting Virginia Metro riders to agonizing trips in mobile sweat boxes, as I would be in viewing the execrable service as being merely the result of “normal” mechanical failure.

Sunday Funny

Never saw it coming.


Swiped from My Food Looks Funny.

Lower your taxes? What are you, some kind of smart-ass?

Kopp the Custard Man gives Joe Biden some advice.

A warning from the original "Happy Warrior"

Al Smith, a four-term Democratic governor of New York, and an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for president in 1928, was appalled by the statism of FDR, and gave an electrifying radio address in 1936 warning of the betrayal of the party - and the Constitution - by Roosevelt. George Joyce discusses that speech, and its relevance for today, over at The American Thinker (H/T: Cold Fury).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

President Who-Is-this-Guy

Mark Steyn has another brilliant article (of course!) that gets to the heart of Barack Obama's frightening hollowness.
To return to Cohen’s question: “Who is this guy? What are his core beliefs?” Well, he’s a guy who was wafted ever upward from the Harvard Law Review to state legislator to United States senator without ever lingering long enough to accomplish anything. “Who is this guy?” Well, when a guy becomes a credible presidential candidate by his mid-forties with no accomplishments other than a couple of memoirs, he evidently has an extraordinary talent for self-promotion, if nothing else. “What are his core beliefs?” It would seem likely that his core belief is in himself. It’s the “nothing else” that the likes of Cohen are belatedly noticing.
I have long thought that Obama didn't so much want to be president as simply get elected president. Unfortunately for him (and even more so for us) he's now got a tiger by the tail and he doesn't know how to let go. We'll have to fix that little problem in 2012.

Maybe it will be the other way around

I rather hope that Obama will be our Kevin Rudd.

If only the Bill of Rights had had an editor

TrogloPundit points out how much better off we would be if the founders had done a little more cutting.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Rule 5 Saturday

Betty Hutton takes Arthur Murray’s dance course.

There's something about a man in uniform

The Presidential bedroom in the White House. Barack Obama stands in front of a full-length mirror, admiring his new clothes.

Barack: Ooooo, yeah, baby! So fine!

Michelle Obama [entering the room]: What the…? Barack, where did you get those silly-looking pajamas?

Barack: C’mon, Michelle. Any idi..er, I mean, anybody can see this is a uniform.

Michelle: A uniform? [She stares in wonder at the suit in question. Her husband is wearing a short, sky-blue military tunic, fronted with red and gold piping. Gold epaulettes the size of hub-caps rest on his shoulders, and dark blue trousers with double gold stripes run down the side of each pants leg. The presidential pontoons are shod in patent-leather jackboots, and, atop his head, an enormous shako resembling an overturned milk bucket teeters precariously. His face is enveloped in the shadow cast by the black leather visor, which is decorated with nearly a pound of “scrambled eggs”] Barack, take that damn thing off!

Barack: I intend to, love of my life. I plan to wear this only on special occasions.

Michelle: The only special occasion I can think of when that thing might be appropriate is if the people kick your ass outta here in 2012 and you land a job as a doorman at some ritzy hotel.

Barack: Not so! Those Taliban idiots are putting Afghanistan on the front burner again – at the worst possible time for me, incidentally, what with the economy being a wreck and elections coming up – and it’s likely that I’ll have to begin making more joint appearances with General Petraeus. Well, I’m not letting that guy outshine me! I’m the commander-in-chief, and I want people to know it.

Michelle: He sure isn’t going to outshine you, not if you wear that gaudy uniform. Hell, you’re flashing like a truck full of mirrors right now. Take it off, it’s hurting my eyes!

Barack: Ok, ok. [Obama begins peeling off his clothes]

Michelle [idly picking up the tunic]: Where did you get this outfit, anyway?

Barack: From Perfectly Authentic Costumes Online. It’s an exact reproduction of a French cavalry uniform from the Napoleonic era.

Michelle [Noticing a tag sewn into one of the breast pockets]: A cavalry uniform, eh? Then how come this tag says “Property of Ringling Brothers Circus”?

Barack: What?!? Here, give me that! Damn! You mean to tell me this is just a suit that used to belong to the calliope player in a circus?

Michelle: It might have belonged to a lion tamer.

Barack: Hmm. Could be. That would explain the big plaid patch on the trouser seat. *Sigh*. First McChrystal, and now this. Well, the week’s almost over. Not much danger of anything else going wrong.

A knock at the door. Invited to enter, the president’s gentleman’s personal gentleman – Gustave Napoleon Toussaint D’Orleans, late of Haiti, but now a U.S. citizen in good standing, and fondly referred to as “Gus” - walks into the room.

Gus: Pardon, Monsieur Le President, but Monsieur Le Vice President begs an audience.

Barack [brows frowning with the concern that always possesses him when Biden’s name is mentioned, in any context whatsoever]: What does he want, Gus?

Gus: Monsieur Le Vice President wishes to inform you about a small mishap zat, he says, may excite some comment in ze press.

Barack: What “mishap”?

Gus: As you know, Monsieur Le President, Monsieur Biden commutes via ze AmTrack train to an’ from Delaware. He eez also, eet seems, a bit of, how do you say, ze railroad ent’usiast. He was explaining to a fellow passenger how ze emergency brake works, an’ he absent-mindedly pulled on ze brake cord, causing ze train to stop ver’ fast. Several of ze pipples was injured, an’ Monsieur Biden heemself damaged one of heez valuable hair plugs. Zat is when ze mishap occurred.

Barack [he had buried his face in his hands; a muffled question emerged, as if from a tomb]: You mean to tell me there’s more?

Gus: Ah, mais oui, Monsieur Le President! Ze engineer was one of ze ones who got knocked out, so Monsieur Biden decided zat he would take ze train into ze station, an’ he wound up running into a cow.

Barack: A cow?

Gus: Oui, but she was not badly hurt. Ze driver of ze gasoline truck, on ze utter han’…

Barack [in a haunted voice]: Gasoline truck?

Gus: Ah, pardon! I failed to mention ze gasoline truck!

Barack: Is the driver…dead?

Gus: Oh, no, no, Monsieur Le President. Just a broken arm. Ze locomoteev, however, would appear to be of no further use to AmTrak.

The military tunic landed on Barack’s head, thrown by Michelle

Michelle: I know what it is, now; a ringmaster’s suit! Might as well put it on – and leave it on.

Airplane returns to gate after deadly cobra found onboard

Oops! Did I say cobra? I meant two-inch turtle.

Seabiscuit, the official turtle of Paco Enterprises, has this reaction.


”First they came for the turtles…”

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happy Feet Friday

For you Bill Haley fans out there, let’s rip it up!

Defective congressman sadly not in minority

You know, being a liberal Democrat is pretty much like having a Get-Out-Of-Mandatory-Sensitivity-Training-Class-Free card. They can let slip the most offensive bigotries with near impunity.

The latest example, via Gateway Pundit, comes from Rep. Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania
“We’re giving relief to ‘average good American people’ not ‘minorities’ or ‘defective’ people.”
Way to flatter your constituency, Congressman!

Liberals DISCLOSE their contempt for the First Amendment

Congressional Democrats (joined by two Republicans - Remember 'em! - Joe Cao and Mike Castle) passed the so-called DISCLOSE bill, which, as AllahPundit points out, appears to impose onerous new requirements on (primarily) conservative and business groups that pay for political ads.

This one's so bad, even the ACLU opposed it. The NRA, to its discredit, agreed to remain officially silent on the bill, in exchange for being exempted. Nice goin', guys! How long do you think you'll be able to keep the Second Amendment if the First is gutted?

Update: Nearly half of American adults think government is a threat to individual rights. Only half?

Al Gore's hockey stick problem

Unlike Michael Mann's, Al's seems to have been real. The Other McCain has a news video of the adventures of "Mr. Stone".

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hey, let's throw up more obstacles to the development of new sources of oil

The National Post reports that 50 U.S. congressmen have sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in which they lobby against the TransCanada pipeline to the U.S. (H/T: that indefatigable explorer of the internet, Captain Heinrichs).

General McChrystal

Just about all has been said of General McChrystal that there is to say. I commend him for his service and wish him well. I hope the president at least has sufficient intelligence to employ him in a useful capacity.

And the very best of luck to General Petraeus. As long as America keeps producing people like him, perhaps we can yet survive the occasional advent of appalling parvenus like Barack Obama.

From the shelves of the Paco library


Paul Horgan, a novelist and historian of the American west, moved in some very diverse artistic circles, and recorded many of his encounters and impressions in Tracings: A Book of Partial Portraits. Greta Garbo, T.S. Elliot, Thorton Wilder and Igor Stravinsky (among others) make appearances in this volume, and Horgan provides unique insights into their achievements, personalities and (sometimes hilarious) foibles.

I am not a tremendous fan of the opera, but Horgan’s description of a performance by the great Russian opera singer Feodor Chaliapin is an enthralling account, not only of the man’s genius, but of his status as an outstanding specimen of that stereotypical figure, the temperamental artist. The occasion that gave Horgan an opportunity to see the genius at work was a 1924 performance of Gounod’s Faust at the Eastman Theatre in Rochester New York (under the aegis of the Metropolitan Opera Company). Here, Horgan describes one particularly memorable scene:
And now comes an act of theatrical genius that surpasses every other moment of the performance in dramatic power. Attacked by the prayer exalting Heaven, Méphistophélès [Chaliapin] falls away from the kneeling figure of Marguérite. He whips forth his long rapier. With its point he catches the hem of his cloak. Raising it in a swift upward spiral, he shrouds his face and figure with the cloak. He takes it high, higher, until a pillar of black is erect in stillness more terrible than all the ceaseless motion of evil in its earlier presence. We gasp.

Even as we are transfixed by the power of the symbol, we have to think of the mastery with which the artist managed his props in one long movement until the frozen pinnacle is achieved. How does he know just where to pick the edge of the cloak with his rapier so that in raising the heavy fabric it will not slip, come loose, and ruin the effect? How can he contrive to seem a tall as a church spire in his stark quiet? Scarcely a minute of time, this transformation, yet it seems an eternity.
Ah, but Chaliapin had a train to catch, and, worried that he would miss it, he raced through the final act.
But Chaliapin, having uttered his last contractual note - Jugée!” -leaves Faust to his own fate, charges angrily down to the footlights and with giant steps strides off in full sight.

As he goes, we see him tear away his mustaches and beard and throw them into the orchestra pit. He pulls off his tight black skullcap with its sinister feather and casts it into footlights. He unbuckles his rapier until it clatters along on the floor. He rips open his doublet and unclasps his cloak and rolls it up into what might be a bundle of laundry. Having destroyed the character of Méphistophélès and the crowning illusion in full view of the dismayed audience, Chaliapin disappears into the wings on his escape to the railroad station. Mr. Johnson, obedient to the final strains of the opera, can only depart for l’enfer by himself.
Tracings is a marvelous distillation of some of the author’s most interesting experiences with many of the greats of cinema, music, literature and even religion (he describes his almost miraculous success in persuading the Vatican – i.e., Pope John XXIII - to waive the “100-year proviso”, a rule prohibiting public access to archival materials less than a hundred years old), written with zest and deep understanding. A real biographical page-turner.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd replaced by Red-Headed Woodpecker

Kevin Rudd is out, Julia Gillard is in.


Congratulations, Julia! Heh-heh-heh-HEH-heh!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Edward M. Philby

More details on Ted Kennedy’s relationship with the Soviet Union.

If there was ever a more thorough-going scoundrel than Ted Kennedy in modern American politics, I am at a loss to imagine who it might be (although Barry may be closing in).

Bad enough when people start thinking you're a god...

...but even worse when you start believing it yourself.

Ain't love grand?

The bizarre sex life of the angler fish. Almost as bizarre as some Hollywood celebrity relationships. (H/T: JeffS.)

A titan of industry issues a reprimand



Chris Matthews was having a crazy dream. In his slumbering mind, he pictured himself at the bottom of a dark pool, trying desperately to make his way to the surface. But a man dressed in a baggy double-breasted suit and a wide-brimmed fedora was holding him by the legs, hindering his upward progress. Oddly, the man looked rather like Broderick Crawford in his prime, heavy-set, with a bulldog face.

Matthews felt that he was drowning. He fought to reach the surface of the water, and his efforts were finally paying off. A pale light was emerging in the inky gloom, which he felt sure was emanating from the clear, lung-restoring air above.

Suddenly, he found himself blinking, and was surprised to discover that he was perfectly dry. He realized, with a sigh of relief, that he had been dreaming; yet he doubted that he was fully awake, because his entire field of vision was filled with what appeared to be navy blue fabric. Had he awakened in a coat closet? He shifted his head slightly, looking in the direction of the ceiling, and saw a large, round white object. The moon, perhaps? But how odd that a coat closet should have a window through which he could see the sky. He blinked a few more times, and his vision cleared. No, it wasn’t the moon. The topographical features which combined to create the illusion of the “man in the moon” endowed that image with a jolly face. There was nothing jolly about the face that stared at him now, as the white sphere resolved itself into an indisputably human physiognomy. Matthews shuddered violently. The face bore a strange expression. Not one of anger or hostility. That would have been disconcerting enough. But the look he saw froze his blood, for it was an expression of cold and towering indifference, as if he, Chris Matthews, had been nothing but a crack in the sidewalk, or a discarded bubble-gum wrapper.

“Spurgeon! Brandy!”

The order was barked in a soft, but gravelly voice, and resulted in the appearance of another large man, whom Matthews might, in other circumstances, have taken to be a retired British statesman, but whose plain, albeit well-tailored, black suit and black tie marked him as a member of the servant class. He approached in silence, bearing a brandy snifter on a silver salver.

Matthews attempted to sit up; however, his head seemed to have assumed the mass of an anvil, and he wasn’t at all sure that the effort of raising it off the couch might not cause it to snap off. He pushed his hands under his back and gingerly worked his arms like hydraulic jacks, slowly lifting his trunk into a vertical position, and with a final lurch, sat up, his head feeling as if it were precariously balanced on his neck, like one of those strange geological formations in the American southwest, in which a boulder teeters on the needle-like top of a tall stone pillar.

Matthews gratefully accepted the brandy, and knocked back a healthy dose. He saw before him an enormously fat man in a three-piece blue suit. Another man abruptly wandered over from a dark corner of the room and leaned against the wall. This new addition to the party was wearing a baggy suit and a fedora, and his jowls – sporting a five o’clock shadow that looked as if it routinely arrived an hour and a half early – were quivering as he vigorously chewed a piece of gum. Strange, Matthews thought. That fellow bears an awfully strong resemblance to…Broderick Crawford!

“That’s him!” Matthews shouted. “It’s all coming back to me now! I was having dinner in a restaurant and that guy came up to my table and said, ‘The boss wants to see you’, and I said ‘What boss?’ and he said ‘The big boss’. I figured he was some kind of kook, so I turned to hail the waiter and ask for my check and when I returned to my dinner, I saw that man jerk his hand back, after apparently having reached over my mocha lite vanilla and hazel-nut latte. He drugged my drink, that’s what he did!”

The fat man spoke. “Mr. Matthews, you disregarded a direct order to report to your employer. Johnny simply took steps to ensure that you complied with my command.”

Your command? But you’re not my boss.”

“Not your immediate supervisor, no. But, by virtue of the fact that I own a controlling interest in GE, the parent company of your network, I am the ‘big boss’”. He patted his vast stomach and released a startlingly loud guffaw. “The ‘big boss’, indeed!”

The identity of his host now became terrifyingly evident: it was none other than J. Packington Paco III. He remembered the time that his colleague, Keith Olbermann, had been demoted and compelled to perform certain secret, but presumably menial and punitive, tasks for J.P. For weeks after his return to his New York office, Olbermann would sit at his desk, staring into the middle distance with a haunted expression, twitching spastically. Every now and then he would giggle hysterically, then look over his shoulder in terror, apparently unaware that the sound had emanated from his own larynx.

Matthews began shaking uncontrollably and started to splutter: “I…I…you…you…he…he…”

J.P. smiled – which, if anything, only enhanced the aspect of sinister indifference Matthews had noticed upon regaining consciousness.

“I congratulate you on your mastery of the nominative singular pronouns, sir; however, in the interest of saving time, we shall take your knowledge of the plural forms as given. Now, to business.”

With the aid of both hands, Matthews managed to guide the brandy snifter to his lips. His teeth chattering against the glass sounded like a china cabinet in an earthquake. Still, persevering in fulfilling his need for liquid fortitude, he got the rest of the brandy down.

J.P. took a chair by the couch and continued. “Mr. Matthews, you recently hosted a television program entitled The Rise of the New Right.”

“Yes, yes…legitimate story…good sources…timely material…” Matthews was aware of the fact that he was babbling, but his speech sounded so much like his normal television delivery that he hoped no one would notice.

J.P.’s eyebrows curved downward in a stern frown. “That program was a tissue of lies!”

In other circumstances, Matthews might have felt stung by the remark; but he was now sufficiently anesthetized by the brandy and the residual effects of the knock-out drug, as well as restrained by fear, to answer feebly, “Oh, was it?”

“It was. A sophomoric exercise in knee-jerk liberalism. Practically the political equivalent of Reefer Madness. I am deeply disappointed in you, sir.”

Possibly there were other sentences in the English language that Matthews might have found to be more frightening, but he couldn’t think of any at the moment. He quivered like a forsythia bush in a heavy breeze.

J.P. settled back in his chair, his map suddenly a vision of beatific contentment. “I think you need a change, Mr. Matthews. A fellow spends too much time in a liberal echo chamber like New York, he begins to lose his ability to weigh and discriminate, to separate the factual wheat from the ideological chaff. Y-e-s…I think you need a change. More than just a change; a challenge! Perhaps a stint as a foreign correspondent would do you good.”

This was a contingency so astonishingly and blessedly different from the half-dozen or so horrible possibilities that had been racing through Matthews’ mind that he would have leapt from the couch in joy, if some practical joker hadn’t replaced the bones in his legs with overcooked spaghetti.

“That’s a great idea, J.P.! You know, I’ve long felt that our Paris bureau could use…”

“Darfur.”

Matthews halted in his acceptance speech. “I beg your pardon?”

“Darfur. The violence there is almost criminally underreported in the news media. You could have quite an impact there, Mr. Matthews.”

Matthews was far more alarmed at the kind of impact that Darfur could have on him. “No! Surely you don’t mean…”

“Or perhaps the tribal areas on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the front in the war on terror. You’d have to keep your head about you, of course.”

It was precisely the difficulty of keeping his head, as opposed to the relative likelihood of it winding up as a decoration on some tribesman’s pike outside of a Taliban encampment, that made the suggestion unthinkable.

He might not be able to stand yet, but there was nothing that was going to prevent him from kneeling.

“No, no! Please, J.P.! I’m a married man, with children! I..I don’t travel well…irritable bowel syndrome…and my asthma…Please, sir, isn’t there some way I can make amends and still keep my television program?”

J.P. smiled benevolently, and helped him to his feet. “There, there, Mr. Matthews. If I am any judge, I do detect something like genuine remorse. Yes, I think there may be a way for you to make up for your mistake.”

* * * *

The following week. A television studio in New York. Chris Matthews is about to go on the air with a new edition of Hardball. Three…two…one…and…action!

“Good evening, this is Chris Matthews. You’re probably wondering why I’m sitting here on a small wooden plank over a big tub of water, dressed in a clown suit. Well, the answer is simple. Last week, I hosted a show dedicated to the proposition that the new wave of conservatism in this country represented a huge threat. And you know something? I was wrong. As…er…several well-placed people in the news industry have pointed out, almost all of the violence we’ve seen in the political arena in the past year or so has been caused by leftists. Therefore, in order to give you all a more balanced view, and to afford my critics some measure of justice, I’ve asked a few of the conservative movement’s leading lights – Mark Steyn, Stacy McCain and Ann Coulter - to come on the show tonight and...[sigh]…Dunk Mr. Tingles! Mark, looks like you’re up!”

Stacy McCain: Whoa, whoa, whoa! That farce you called a documentary was about conservatism in the United States, and you’re inviting a Canadian to take the first crack at you? I don’t think so. Here, Mark, give me the ball!”

McCain winds up and hurls the ball at the bull’s-eye, hitting it dead center. Matthews drops into the cold water. He climbs the short ladder – his one-piece white-polka-dot-and-red suit clinging to his skin, his orange hair streaming - and heaves himself onto the platform. “Meh”, he mutters to himself. “It’s a living.”

You never hear of rats boarding a sinking ship

Smitty of The Other McCain reports that, not only Rahm Emanuel, but also Peter Orszag, White House Budget Director, may be stepping down.

Update: Brett L in the comments: "Been a while since someone got thrown under [the bus], and the axles are lubricated by the blood of the useless."

From the far-flung corners of Blairistan

Tim Blair has a knack for finding memorable quotes from news stories. This one brought forth a hearth-felt “Haw!”: ”Kevin Rudd’s top mental health adviser has resigned in frustration …”

Andrea Harris blasts the profound ignorance of the modern American liberal (and when I say “blasts”, I mean BLASTS!!).

The estimable Mr. Bingley discovers a unique technology for stopping the oil spill.

Richard McEnroe envisions a fascinating remake of The Wizard of Oz.

Pixie Place marks the passing of Jimmy Dean (she’s got several YouTube videos, including Dean’s monster 1961 hit, “Big Bad John”. I loved that song when I was a kid; still gives me goose-pimples).

“What do our college students really know about Israel?” asks Miss Red. The answer is unsurprisingly depressing.

James Board reports on another "honor" killing.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The incompetence spill

It just keeps coming! Nothing can plug it!

First, there's this hilarious question-and-non-answer exchange between State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner and someone from the Press on the subject of whether or not Hillary Clinton was speaking for the administration when she said that the feds would be suing Arizona over the latter's immigration enforcement legislation.

Secondly, it looks like Obama's Oil Spill Commission is going to consist of two scientists and five leftist policy hacks.


Have a little faith, baby!

As the memorable Oddball from Kelly's Heroes advised. Slatts News tells us about the sad case of Ron Wayne, one of the original founders of Apple Computer, who cashed in way too early.

Happy Father's Day!



Update: A moving Father's Day story.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Obama invokes the Monroe Doctrine on Gulf oil spill

Or pretty much, anyway. Gateway Pundit reports that, to date, the Obama administration has accepted offers of assistance from only 5 of 28 countries that have volunteered to help.

Maybe he's thinking over the offers one at a time, dedicating each round of golf to a single country, then rendering his final decision after soaking on a tall cold one at the "19th" hole.

The Rabbi elaborates

Rabbi David Nesenoff - the gentleman whose question to Helen Thomas prompted an answer that (mercifully) ended her career - has written an excellent op-ed for the Washington Post that plumbs the depths of just how offensive her statement really was.
She didn't say that the blockade was unjust, or that aid was not getting to Gaza, or that there was a massacre on the high seas, or that East Jerusalem is occupied, or that the settlements are immoral . . . and get out and go back to West Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat. No. This was not the two-state solution. This was get the hell out and go back to the places of the final solution, Poland and Germany. The Jew has no connection with the land of Israel.
Profound truths, spoken from the heart. Read the whole thing.

(H/T: Hot Air headlines)

Sunday Funny

What's luck got to do with it?

The suave - but deep - Smitty, of The Other McCain, has written a post in which he becomes a kind of human, turbo-charged electric fan, clearing the air of whatever it is that Peggy Noonan's been smoking.

Noonan thinks the Preshizzle is "snakebit", i.e., unlucky. Smitty's having none of it. The whole post is great, but I particularly liked this line, which sums up in a few words the difference between Carter and Obama on the one hand, and Bill Clinton on the other: "...could it be that Carter and Obama are fools, whereas Clinton has the benefit of low animal cunning?"

The Tea Party goes global


Kyle Peterson at The Daily Caller brings us the news that the idea of individual freedom and small government has international appeal (H/T: Sissy Willis of Sisu, writing at Riehl World View).

Rule 5 Saturday

Frances Faye and Martha Raye engage in some scat singing with a late assist from some crooner whom I can’t quite place.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Obama betrays another Democratic constituency

AP headline: "Obama to agencies: Don't pay dead people"

The perpetual rookie


Found at Seraphic Secret, in a post that contains much solid good sense.

Also, see Robert Avrech's post underscoring the diabolical evil of the Iranian regime.

Dirty business at the World Cup

I'm not a fan, myself - soccer always struck me as being like kick-ball without the bases - but watchin' our boys get robbed by some foreign lunkhead of an official kinda steams me. Stacy McCain has the details.

Paco's Diary

I have had occasion before to observe that the federal agency where I work is turning into a perfect microcosm of the Obama administration. Our chairman is rapidly building a cult of personality centered on his own ambitions. He is surrounded by flunkies whose vast ineptitude has not only excited comment within our shop, but even among other government agencies. There is an endless stream of press releases featuring bogus accomplishments, a “five-year plan”, a bundle of “strategic initiatives” that are based on a profound ignorance of the nature of our business, even mini-purges of staff members whose attempts to disabuse him of his wilder notions have opened them up to charges of being insufficiently supportive of his “vision.”

A colleague who was born in eastern Europe says the current environment here reminds him of the old Soviet Union. The atmosphere is compounded by the chairman’s collection of motivational posters from the 1920s, which bear an eerie resemblance to the kind of thing produced by artists of the Socialist Realism school. And then there is the Big Brotherish use of technology: occasional telephone messages left on the voice mail of all the agency’s employees, spelling out the resounding success of his latest trip abroad, or the progress being made in implementing one of his many starry-eyed plans (an interesting feature of these voice-mail messages is that they can’t be skipped or automatically deleted). Now this narcissist is even posting videos on our internal web site, with propaganda broadcasts from exotic foreign climes.

I am seriously thinking of resigning. As Bertie Wooster says, "I can put up with a certain amount of rot, but not absolute rot."

* * * * *

I bought Mrs. Paco a foxglove plant for her birthday - a very pretty perennial, with purple flowers on long green stalks. She was googling to find out whether to plant it in sun or shade, and discovered a few facts of which - I swear, Your Honor! - I was in total ignorance. From the Wiki entry: "Depending on the species, the digitalis plant may contain several deadly physiological and chemically related cardiac and steroidal glycosides. Thus, the digitalis has earned several more sinister names: Dead Man’s Bells, and Witches’ Gloves.

The entire plant is toxic (including the roots and seeds), although the leaves of the upper stem are particularly potent, with just a nibble being enough to potentially cause death."

Hey, blame Home Depot.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy Feet Friday

Artie Shaw and the boys take a non-stop flight.



Update: From the swing era, Richard McEnroe finds Detective Paco a sweet ride!

If you really want to know what the White House is up to...

...I guess you need to watch Ecuadorian TV.

And in Syria, the State Department is apparently being represented by Bertie Wooster and Galahad Threepwood.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Obama to name a competence czar

From Paco World News Daily (PWN'D):

Reeling from public criticism - of everything from a chaotic foreign policy to mishandling the oil spill crisis to sponsoring ineffective or, as some say, disastrous economic initiatives - President Obama told reporters today that he planned to name a "competence czar".

"No man is an island," the beleaguered president told the Press, after nine holes of golf in humid, 89-degree heat. "Delegation is what made this country great, and, although George Bush forgot that fact, to the nation's detriment, I intend to restore the concept of teamwork to government."

President Obama expanded on this theme. "Let me give you an analogy. America is like a professional basketball team. I, as president, am the owner. Now, you don't see Abe Pollin down on the floor, mapping out strategy for the Washington Wizards." PWND reporter, Brad Smilo, pointed out that one reason for that might be that Pollin died last year. "Well," the president continued, "whoever the owner is, he doesn't, as a rule, interfere with the coach. The owner looks for someone who has comprehensive knowledge of the game, experience and savvy. In short, he hires the most competent coach he can find, since I, er...he...the owner doesn't have the competence to manage the team on a day-to-day basis. That's why I'm going to conduct a nationwide search for someone who has the knowledge and background that will enable him - or her, as the case may be - to handle the many problems that our country faces." Brad Smilo suggested that the people who elected him might be forgiven for thinking that he, the president, had actually been hired to deal with our nation's problems. To which the president responded, somewhat cryptically, "Oh, look! A chipmunk!", before disappearing with his entourage inside the club house.

Insiders speculate that the president already has someone in mind for this new position.


"Would I like to be competence czar? Soit'nly!"

Update: A most cordial welcome to Instapundit readers. I don't know who tipped the professor off, but thanks.

Looks like Harry Reid will have to be tied to that horse that's gonna be carrying him into the sunset

And the horse will have to be slapped hard on the rump to make him go. Marc Thiessen reports that Reid and his merry band are practicing some skull-duggery in Nevada, targeting Republican opponent Sharron Angle with a labor-backed fake Tea-Party group.

To paraphrase Wodehouse, pond scum could take Reid's correspondence course.


Harry Reid: just oozing with integrity,

Plumber or Urologist?


You make the call (picture taken with my new hi-tech type cell-phone camera; the "how to" stuff figured out by Mrs. Paco).

For Neda

Libertas online film magazine has the entire HBO documentary, For Neda. This is the story of Neda Agha-Soltan, the beautiful Iranian protester who was gunned down by a militia thug during the anti-government demonstrations last year. The video, along with Jason Apuzzo's helpful comments, can be found here.

What, another czar?

Ed Morrissey reports that Obama is preparing to name an oil recovery czar. As Ed says, "the appointment of a 'czar' is another way to outsource leadership."

Exactly so. Obama seems to think that a president should be able to delegate everything to underlings - everything except for the pomp and the prestige of the office, that is. As it turns out, though, he's rapidly becoming little more than the putz-in-chief.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Now, that would make a great t-shirt!

The Daley Gator smacks down those idiots in their Che t-shirts.

Headline of the week...

...comes from the Washington Examiner: "Enamored with wind, Obama ignored drilling risks".

So true, on so many levels.

Another Congress Critter Snaps

North Carolina Congressman Bob Etheridge (full name, Bobby Ray Etheridge) was caught on video blowing his top when a student reporter asked whether he supported Obama’s agenda (Stacy McCain has the video, plus some unflattering headlines ol’ Bobby Ray has garnered around the state).

Dan Riehl points out that Bobby Ray received an “F” from two gun-ownership groups (sure; temperamental guys prefer a world devoid of people willing and able to defend themselves). By the way, here’s Bobby Ray’s Republican opponent.

Update: Bobby Ray has now apologized. “I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse, even if I have to kick ass to get ‘er done. And it’s ‘Bobby F**kin’ Ray, not ‘Bob’...WHAT ARE YOU LOOKIN' AT, PECKERWOOD?” (I may have employed a little literary license, there; but you know he was thinking it).

Jerry Brown can’t think and jog at the same time

Truth to tell, he’s been known to experience synaptic misfires while not jogging, too. But, thanks to this Daily Caller piece, this is the first time I’ve heard him admit that exercising loosens his cerebral wiring.

Brown, of course, recently compared Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman to Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels. “’Goebbels invented this kind of propaganda. He took control of the whole world,’ Brown is quoted as saying. Brown went on to say he believes Whitman wants to be the first female president.” One of Brown’s handlers later said that “It was jogging talk taken out of context.”

Brown, presumably, was hopping on one foot while the other was planted firmly in his mouth. Another good reason why I don’t jog (the other reason is that when I jog, my cigarette keeps going out).

ObamaCare: Still a far bigger disaster than the oil spill

In the midst of Obama’s many other self-inflicted wounds on both the domestic and foreign policy fronts, let’s not forget the big issue that was one of the blasting caps that set off the Tea Party explosion: health care. Scott Gottlieb of the New York Post reminds us that one of the biggest threats posed by the sprawling and obscure Democrat health plan was not the bill itself, but the implementation. The bureaucracy is now filling in the blanks:
Late last week saw the first leaks of the administration's draft regulations for implementing the ObamaCare law -- and everything is playing out just as the critics warned.

The 3,000-odd pages of legislation left most of the really important (and controversial) policy decisions to the regulations that government agencies were told to issue once the bill passed. Now that those regs are starting to take shape, it's clear that the Obama team is using its new power to exert tight control over the payment and delivery of all formerly "private" health insurance.
America’s health care system is now pretty much in the hands of one bureaucrat: Kathleen Sibelius.
The ObamaCare law references the Secretary of Health and Human Services almost 2,200 times and uses the phrase "the secretary shall" more than 725. Each reference requires HHS to set new rules on medical care, giving control to an existing federal office or one of 160 new agencies that the bill created.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (who was once the Kansas state-insurance commissioner) has taken to these tasks with zeal. In some circles, she's now known as the nation's "insurance regulator in chief."
Bottom line? “Sebelius means to dictate what your insurance plan must look like almost from day one, no matter how you get your coverage.”

Elections matter. The one coming up this November matters a hell of a lot. Join me this fall for what might turn out to be a last-ditch fight against this assault on our liberties and on our very lives.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mis ojos!

I'm going to send you to Troglopundit for news of a border security measure that comes close to being a crime against humanity.

Obama should step down

I don't mean right this minute; that would put Slow Joe in the driver's seat. But it is now indisputably in the best interest of this country that Democrats should seek another standard bearer for 2012. So, Democrats, if there is even the last shred of common sense, patriotism and - to put it in terms that you can appreciate - the will to rescue your own careers remaining somewhere in the depths of your partisan hearts, I urge you to summon up your better selves and refuse to renominate Barack Obama at your next national convention. The man is a walking, talking natural disaster, a narcissistic incompetent who views the presidency as just another rung on the ladder of his political career, instead of the most important job in the world; a job, furthermore, that requires of even the most brilliant and popular of leaders a strong sense of humility - which is one quality (among many) that is notoriously lacking in the current occupant of the White House.

Begin the process of repudiation now. Let him know that he has been weighed and found wanting. If he will not step down in 2012, take him down by the power of your ballots in the primaries, caucuses and the convention. Unload this hollow man before he destroys the country and you along with it.

We are all Pamela Geller

Potentially, anyway. Stacy McCain has a good run-down on PayPal's threat to close Pamela's account.

Meanwhile, Pamela isn't letting the jihadists get her down. Check out Atlas Shrugs for the latest on the attempts by Christian convert Mosab Hassan Yousef to fight deportation.

Happy Flag Day!



This site has some great American flag history.

Update Deborah in the comments reminds me that it's also the Army's Birthday!

An extremely rare sighting

No, not the ivory-billed woodpecker, but something almost as scarce: Bill Maher actually being right about something.

Obama continues to shake the money tree

Monty at Ace of Spades reports that Barry has found another thing to waste money on.
President Obama is asking for $50 Billion to distribute to state and local governments to avoid public-sector employee layoffs. (And for "public-sector employees", you can read "SEIU and Teacher's Unions".) The GOP is sure to oppose it, but may not be able to stop a concerted Democratic push.
Monty lays out the huge stakes:
I've often said that the opening conflict of the second American Civil War is going to be between the public sector and the private sector. The battles will remain primarily rhetorical and political, I think, but emotions are running higher now than I've ever seen them. This metastasizing of the Federal government cannot be allowed to continue unchecked, or it will be the ruin of us all.
Amen to that.

Sunday Funny

From the Paco Enterprises marketing handbook.



Update: By the way, a comment left by "Sober Horse Thief" led me to his (her?) blog, Bile Offload, which has some fascinating and hilarious observations. Check it out!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

No Morons Allowed!

36 Chambers suggests two quick ways to fix Facebook's major problems. I don't use Facebook, myself, but I like the blog author's incisive and witty writing.

The Hope N' Change Blues

The refrain from this song by that fine Oklahoma country-rock band, the Tractors, pretty much captures my mood as I slog through the Obama years.



Why should I saaaaay, "don't worry, be happy"?
To tell the truth, I've been worried from the start,
You know as well as me, we've got trouble with a capital T,
Ev-er-y-thiiiiiing we've got is falling apart.


Oh, by the way, Obama says he doesn't suck.

Rule 5 Saturday

Rosemary Clooney has a case of the blues in the night.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Happy Feet Friday

Lucky Millinder and his band perform the “Hucklebuck” (1948). Look for some very smooth saxophone.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Detective Paco in "The Color Purple" (Conclusion)

I shouted at Wronwright, signaling to him to start recording. He swept the camera to his eye and began shooting.

Mrs. Doherty was holding a sign with a purple SEIU t-shirt nailed to it, and emblazoned with the words, “Purple is the New Red”. It was festooned with little hammers and sickles. The union guys seemed to take extreme umbrage at the sentiment.

“Well, well, well!” the one named Kowalski said. “My, grandma, what a great big sign you got! That sign looks a little too big for you, don’t it boys?”

Mrs. Doherty stood her ground. “Back off, plum belly!”

Kowalski grabbed the sign, ripped the shirt off of it, and broke the pole over his knee. That’s when he noticed Wronwright capturing the whole thing with his camera. An evil smile crossed his face, and he made a come-hither waggle with his index finger. “C’mere, Ichabod.” Wronwright backed up slowly, but he waited just a second too long, and Kowalski clopped him one on the side on the head, knocking him down. Wron quickly rolled over and jumped up.

As Kowalski and his pals closed in on Wron, I shouted, “Wronwright. Lateral!”

Wronwright tossed the camera to me. Although all three of the union boys may well have played first-string defensive linemen in high school (or college, if they made it that far and didn’t get expelled for cheating or setting the cafeteria on fire), they’d never have made it as running backs. As soon as they managed to trot over to me, I sprang out of their reach and tossed the camera to Sheila. Back and forth it went, the people around us cheering us on in our game of keep-away.

The SEIU goons quickly lost steam, and were soon panting like overweight bulldogs after a long walk on a hot day. Unfortunately, the last toss was short, and it landed in the arms of Junior. Kowalski, finally finding someone he thought he could push around with impunity, roared, “Gimme that!” and grabbed the camera out of Junior’s hands, knocking his snow-cone on the ground.

This turned out to be what is frequently referred to as a fatal mistake – almost literally in this case. Although the sun was shining brightly, we were abruptly enveloped in deep shadow, as if we’d experienced a sudden solar eclipse. It was not, of course, a regular eclipse, but another awesome natural phenomenon . Tiny had returned to our little group, and the momentary alignment of the sun and his massive bulk had cast a cooling shade over us.

On seeing Kowalski lay hands on his pride and joy, Tiny roared like some gigantic and angry carnivore from the late Cretaceous period. Kowalski, as previously indicated, was a man of above-average heft, but he became mere putty in Tiny’s hands, and after a minute or so that’s pretty much what he looked like.

Tiny pounded him, stretched him, and molded him into a succession of different fanciful figures, finally dropping him on the ground, in the manner of an artist who has ultimately turned out to be dissatisfied with the quality of his modeling material. Kowalski’s colleagues, apparently having convinced themselves that their friend would have wanted them to escape the deadly encounter in order to cherish his memory, and perhaps lay flowers on his grave every Labor Day, had vanished.

Tiny rushed to take his son into his arms; however, Junior, far from having been hurt, had been delighted by the antics of the grownups, although he took a moment to reproach his father.

“Looks like yer slippin’, Pop. That chump’s still breathin’.”

Kowalski groaned and rolled over on his back. The color of his face now perfectly matched the color of his shirt (what was left of it). He eased his way – one might almost say he staggered – to a sitting position, spit out a few teeth, and blinked several times, trying to assure himself that he was, indeed, still among the living. When he glimpsed Tiny looming in the offing, he began skittering backwards along the sidewalk on his hands and feet like a crab on hot sand.

“Keep away from me!” he screamed.

I sauntered over and helped him to his feet. “Had enough mister?”

He nodded furiously.

I laid it out for him. “We’ve got a movie of you assaulting that little old lady, so if you and your pals ever show up at one of these rallies again, I’m turning it over to the police. Oh, and just so you’ll know, I expect that big fellah over there to be in regular attendance at these Tea Party demonstrations for the foreseeable future.”

The only kind of future Kowalski wanted to experience was one completely devoid of Tiny Weismans. He meekly agreed to keep himself and his companions out of mischief, and slouched off.

I bid farewell to Tiny, and thanked him for his help, and I slipped Junior a buck to buy himself another snow cone. Turning to Mrs. Doherty, I asked if she had been hurt. She scowled.

“You know, if that human utility shed hadn’t thrust himself forward, I would have had a clear shot at that Kowalski weasel with my can of mace.” I assured her that there were plenty of other evil doers in the world worthy of her attention, so she should stay tuned.

Then I went over to Wronwright to see how he was doing.
“You ok, partner? That looked like a pretty nasty wallop the guy gave you.”

Wronwright pulled off his hat and smiled. “This thing’s so big I stuffed it with newspapers so it’d fit better. I didn’t feel a thing.”

“Well, good work, buddy. That video makes all the difference. I told that union goon he’d better never show his mug around these parts again, or I’d turn your movie over to the authorities.”

Wronwright stared at the ground and shuffled his feet. “I, uh, hope we won’t need the video, Paco.”

“What do you mean.”

“The battery in the camera died about 30 seconds after I started shooting.”

What?!? Didn’t you get any of that?”

“Well, I guess the battery was low, anyway, and I was using the camera a little earlier to, uh, sort of warm up and get it properly focused and, er, so forth. So, when the action started, I just faked filming it. I figured the SEIU guys wouldn’t know the difference. And they didn’t, obviously, because that one thug tried to take my head off.”

“Didn’t you have another battery?”

“Yeah, but by the time the camera had run out of juice, the union boys were already tearing up the old lady’s sign and were coming after me. I didn’t have time to change it.”

Sheila was standing nearby, with a smirk on her pretty map. “Why don’t you tell him what you were wasting your battery on, Wron?”

“No, no! It’s not important.”

Sheila held her hand out. “Wron, give me that camera.”

Wronwright turned it over. For some reason, his ears had turned the color of a glass of cranberry juice.

Sheila rummaged around in the pack until she found the spare battery. She installed it, set the camera for replay and handed the camera to me. “Have a look.”

I switched it on and watched the replay. There, on the viewer, was Sheila, in full-body profile, dressed in her low-cut yellow tank-top and cut-off jeans, her matchless convexity, fore and aft, showing to perfection. Now she was reaching her hands behind her head and gathering up her abundant golden air, twisting it into a temporary pony tail and fanning her neck. The lens began a slow zoom until the viewer was filled with the image of two firm, bronzed breasts, from which the heat had brought forth a shimmering glow. Suddenly, the breasts were facing the camera squarely, and the lens zoomed out a lot faster than it had zoomed in, and there was Sheila, once again in full-body display, shaking her fist at the camera and voicing sentiments not unlike those frequently expressed by her mother. Then, as they say in the movie business, the image faded to black. I confess that I was so shocked that I felt compelled to watch the video again, just to make sure I wasn’t mistaking what I had seen.

I looked directly at Wronwright. “Man, you ought to be ashamed of yourself!”

Sheila piped up, sarcastically. “Paco, do you always grin like a hyena when you tell somebody that?”

“What? Oh. No, no, I wasn’t grinning. The sun was in my eyes and I was simply, you know, squinting and scrunching up my face.”

Sheila rolled her eyes and walked away, uttering that timeless imprecation that has been delivered by women through the ages - “Men!”

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Detective Paco in "The Color Purple" (Part III)

As I inched the canary-yellow Packard roadster through heavy traffic to the next Tea Party protest – scheduled for the steps of the Capitol building – I got on my cell phone. I needed a man with a camera, street savvy, and intestinal fortitude to help with the job, so I called Wronwright – I figured he might know somebody. Once I got him on the horn, I discovered that he was attending the demonstration himself, and he insisted that he was the somebody I was looking for.

“Nothing would give me greater pleasure, Paco, than to catch one of those SEIU creeps on film shoving someone around.”

I was a little skeptical. “You know, Wron, you’d have to be kind of stealthy about it. These boys play rough.”

“Let me at ‘em!”

“Well, ok. Where are you now?”

“I’m in front of the congressional building. You can’t miss me. I’m dressed as George Washington.”

“You mean powdered wig, knee breeches and buckled shoes?”

“That’s right. I aim to make my participation a statement.”

“A statement. You mean, like, “Hey, everybody, I’m nuts!”

I could almost hear him pursing his lips. “You obviously don’t understand the importance of symbolism. It’s my way of saying that we need to stick to our founding principles.”

“Oh, ok. I got you. Well, we should be there in about 15 minutes. I’m going to have to park in a garage, and we’ll be walking the last few blocks. Keep an eye out for us.”

After putting the car away, Sheila, her mother and I pressed through the crowd to the front of the Capitol. There were several thousand people, and I discovered, to my chagrin, that at least a score or so had experienced the same inspiration as Wronwright, and had decided to impersonate the father of our country.

I remarked to Sheila, “I’m not sure how we’re going to pinpoint Wronwright in this bunch.” Sheila suggested that we look for a skinny George Washington wearing eyeglasses and sipping from a bottle of Yoo Hoo. Narrowing the field down that way allowed me to spot him almost immediately. We walked up to him, just as he was slurping down the last of his chocolate drink. He grinned in recognition.

His attire seemed correct in almost every detail: powdered wig, blue cutaway coat, white waistcoat and knee breeches, three-cornered hat (two-sizes two big; it looked like he was balancing a wheel-barrow on his head). I decided to suppress my remarks on his appearance, but, unfortunately, Mrs. Doherty did not feel at all bound by the demands of tact, particularly given the fact that she and Wronwright were old sparring partners. She gaped at him and let out a guffaw that sounded like a parrot celebrating the discovery of an untended bag of peanuts. She walked up to him slowly, making a close study of his person.

“Good lord, Wronright! The resemblance is simply amazing.”

Wronwright smiled uncertainly. “You really think so?”

“Yes. You look just like Woodrow Wilson’s grandmother.”

Wronwright scowled. “An old school chum of yours?”

Mrs. D. adjusted her glasses. “No, on second thought, you look more like Florence Harding. Not quite as heavy, though.”

“I suppose you got a gander at her when she caught you and Warren in the closet at the White House.”

Afraid that Sheila’s mother might be preparing to measure Wronwright with her umbrella, I hastily intervened.

“Now, now, you crazy kids! The enemy is over there.” I pointed across the way at three large specimens wearing purple t-shirts.

“Wronwright, you got your video camera?”

He slapped the camera bag hanging from his shoulder. “Check!”

“Stand by.”

After a few minutes, the organizer of the protest began the proceedings with a few words to the protesters, and a succession of congressmen, intermingled with the rare conservative celebrity, made short, but rousing speeches. At one point, a strange murmur arose. I looked behind us and saw an extraordinary sight.

Moving through the crowd, which was parting like a school of small fish which had attracted the attention of a barracuda, was some kind of great, lumbering creature. From a distance it seemed to be an elephant, complete with howdah and rider. As it got closer, however, I saw that the beast was none other than Tiny Weiseman, carrying his young son on his shoulders. I hollered at him to come over. He smiled in surprise, and joined us.

A word about Tiny. He had held a number of minor positions in the world of organized crime, but had finally settled into the role of bookie (he was mine, as a matter of fact). He was, as a rule, a diffident and easy-going fellow, but when annoyed, he had rather the aspect of a highly mobile volcano (this is the main reason why, as a bookie, he had very few delinquent accounts).

I have referred to his young son (who was called “Junior”, by the way). Young he was – only eight years old – but he was already almost five feet tall and weighed in, I would guess, at close to one hundred pounds. An avalanche off the ol’ man-mountain. And Tiny was extremely fond of him.

“Tiny”, I asked, “what in the world are you doing here?”

Tiny lowered Junior to the ground and shrugged.

“Hey, deez Democrats are roonin’ de country. What wid de trillion dollar deficit and de taxes an’ all, howz a’ entremanoor like me s’posed to stay ahead a de game? Alotta my customers are cuttin’ back, not placin’ de big bets dey used to. I figure I gotta take a stand, jus’ like de rest a’ yez.”

I patted Junior on the head. He was munching on a cherry snow-cone. “Your boy’s growing right up there, Tiny.”

Tiny beamed. “Yeh. He’s quite a hunk, ain’t he. Smart, too. Listen to dis. Hey, Junior, what’s de penalty for illegal gambling in Virginia?”

Junior, always glad to oblige his father, began reeling off the answer, in the way a typical third-grader might have recited Longfellow's “The Village Blacksmith”. He stared straight ahead, took a deep breath and delivered his lines in staccato fashion.

“'The operator of an illegal gambling enterprise, activity or operation shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. However, any such operator who engages in an illegal gambling operation which (i) has been or remains in substantially continuous operation for a period in excess of thirty days or (ii) has gross revenue of $2,000 or more in any single day shall be fined not more than $20,000 and imprisoned not less than one year nor more than ten years.' But don’t worry, Pop. I ain’t gonna rat yez out!” He smiled beatifically at Tiny. One got the strong impression that, no matter what the inducement or threat, Junior would not, in fact, rat his father out.

“Heh-heh. Dat’s m’ boy! Say, Paco, how 'bout watchin' de kid for a minute while I go find a port-a-potty?”

I marveled at his confidence; I mean, how the hell did he think he was going to get into one of those things? Nonetheless, I promised to keep an eye on Junior.

The protesters were now working on their chants, and if I had been a Democratic congressman, I’d have been making contingency plans for moving back to Indiana or Missouri or wherever, to resume my place in (most likely) some small-ticket law firm. The tiny group of counter-demonstrators, who had congregated on the other side of the steps, gave it the old college try -shouting obscenities, mostly - but they were drowned out in the joyful, patriotic cheers of the righteous. Suddenly, I noticed three beefy guys in purple shirts heading in our direction, rolling forward like a violet fog bank. They looked strangely familiar. As they drew closer, I saw that they were Mrs. D’s new friends from the police station. They must have recognized the old girl, too, because they made a bee line for her.

(To be continued)

Detective Paco in "The Color Purple" (Part II)

I opened the big glass door to the 3rd Precinct station and walked in. It was an old place, with a lot of that police station charm you see in movies dating back to the 1940s: creaking ceiling fans, a wood floor with a three-inch layer of wax, a couple of wobbly tables and half a dozen very solid oak chairs whose sculpted seats had been worn smooth and flat by the bottoms of generations of complainants and malefactors.

Directly ahead of me was the impressive abode of the desk sergeant, a raised wooden edifice that resembled a judge’s bench. Two globe lights on pedestals were mounted on the desk, one at each end. Between the two beacons loomed the massive red face of the desk sergeant himself, staring in restrained, but nonetheless, high, dudgeon at the parties standing before him.

It was an odd group, even seen from behind at thirty yards. Three large men stood off to the right, all clad in purple shirts. They might have been members of the original Barney the Dinosaur fan club, gathered for a reunion in a strange city and sadly caught in the coils of unfamiliar laws and obscure municipal regulations that they had unwittingly, and quite innocently, violated. To the left stood an elderly, but energetic, little woman wearing a plain gray dress that had gone out of style a decade before color TV came into vogue. She was wearing one of her distinctive hats – a little pink straw number entwined with artificial leaves and a stuffed bird; the hat had slid over to one side of her head, so that the bird seemed to be emerging from her ear, like a cuckoo from a clock. She was vigorously waving an umbrella in the air. Ominously, it was bent at a 90-degree angle, as if it had come into contact with a firm and unyielding object. A bandage wrapped around the head of one of the purple-shirted men gave me an insight into what, exactly, that object had been. Sheila stood to one side and slightly behind her mother, her shapely figure tense and erect and motionless, a goddess who had involuntarily found herself embroiled in an episode of slapstick street theater.

The desk sergeant’s name was Charlie McKenzie, and we had known each other for many years. When he saw me approach the desk, his face brightened, in the manner of a man who, marooned on a desert island for months, at long last glimpses a billowing white sail on the horizon. He motioned the rowdy crew to silence.

“Detective Paco! Boy, am I glad to see you!”

“Hi ya, Charlie. What’s the charge?”

“This, er, lady here claims these fellows assaulted her. And vice versa.”

I now got a good look at “these fellows”. Far from being acolytes of a harmless prehistoric television character, they turned out to be members of the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU.

Sheila came over and put a grateful hand on my arm, which her mother quickly removed.

“What’s he doing here?”

Sheila said, in a placating voice, “I called him, Mom. I thought he could help you make bail.”

“He’s not my mouthpiece! Listen here, judge…”

“’Desk Sergeant’’, McKenzie corrected.

“Well, whatever you are, you can’t lock me away! These union goons grabbed my sign and tore it to pieces, and they roughed me up. Just look at my hat!”

McKenzie spurned the invitation to gaze upon her eccentric headgear, and addressed himself to one of the SEIU men instead

“And what do you have to say, Mr. Kowalski? The three of you ganging up on this poor little old lady.”

“Who’s old?” Mrs. Doherty growled. “I’ll have you know, flatfoot, that I…”

“She’s lyin’, your honor!” The SEIU man had finally tired of his non-speaking, walk-on role. “We wuz just walkin’ t’ru Lafeyette Park, mindin’ our own business, when dis ol’ battle-ax…”

Battle-axe?!? How’d you like me to whomp you another one upside your head, you union stooge?”

The union man flinched, his hand automatically going up in a defensive gesture. Then his two comrades began shouting, and the chaos became general. McKenzie called over a couple of policemen and stationed them between the warring factions, then stepped down from his desk and motioned Sheila and me to one side. He briefly explained that the altercation had occurred at a Tea-Party demonstration near the White House, and that it seemed like the SEIU boys were swaggering through the crowd, looking for an excuse to make trouble. They didn’t deny tearing up Mrs. Doherty’s sign, but they claim she started the whole thing by baiting them. They appeared to be eager to drop their charges – McKenzie’s guess was that somebody may have captured the incident on a video camera, and that Mrs. Doherty was the one telling the truth (or a reasonable facsimile thereof).

“Look,” he pleaded, “we don’t need these people clogging up the justice system. A court will probably throw out all the charges, anyway. Now, I talked to the two arresting officers, and they’re willing to let this thing go. The union guys want to drop it. The only person holding up a peaceful resolution is the old…beg pardon, Miss…your mother. She’s got this whole ‘death before dishonor’ thing going on, and if she won’t back down, the union guys won’t either.”

“McKenzie,” I smiled. “I know just how to fix this. Get back up on your throne, there, and play like you’re going to book the lot of them.”

McKenzie resumed his chair and slapped the top of his desk with a mighty paw.

“All right, I’ve had just about enough! Mrs. Doherty, are you going to drop your charges or not?”

Sheila’s mother raised her umbrella on high; she resembled a small-scale model of the Statue of Liberty, assembled by an incompetent third-grader the night before his history project is due. “No way! I want these thugs put away!”

“And how about you, Kowalski? Are you and your associates going to press charges?”

Kowalski and his friends looked at each other uneasily, but the union rep decided to call Mrs. D’s bluff.

“Yes, sir. I guess we have to.”

McKenzie cleared his throat and gathered himself for his big pronouncement. “Then I’m going to book you all, and you can spend the night in jail thinking the whole thing over.”

I sidled up to Sheila, and slid my arm around her waist. “Don’t worry, Mrs. Doherty. I’ll see that your daughter gets the best of care while you’re paying your debt to society.”

Mrs. Doherty’s sense of justice underwent a sudden and obvious transformation. No matter how righteous her cause, she didn’t want to leave her daughter in the clutches of what she took to be a skirt-chasing maniac. She grimaced as if she’d accidentally swallowed a mouthful of sour milk, and I could hear her teeth grinding. In a symbolic act of striking her colors, she lowered her umbrella and turned to McKenzie.

“Ok, copper. If the offer’s still open, I’ll drop the charges.”

McKenzie cocked an inquisitive eyebrow at Kowalski. “Yeah, we will, too, sergeant.”

“Very well. Get out of my precinct, and I don’t want to see any of you here again. Ever.”

On the way out, Mrs. Doherty furiously tried to straighten her umbrella.

“Mom,” Sheila asked, “what are you doing?”

“As soon as I get this thing back in shape, I’m going to give your boss there a wallop that he’ll never forget! I think he tricked me into dropping my complaint.”

“Easy does it, Mrs. D. What you need is evidence. This Tea-Party protest is still going on, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“Then why don’t you go back to the demonstration, and I’ll send a man along with a camera. Next time, if there’s any trouble, we’ll get the incident on film.”

She paused for a moment, mulling over my suggestion. “You know, Paco, I hate to admit it, but sometimes you do manage to use that head of yours for something besides a hat-rack.”

Basking in this high praise, I led the ladies to my car and filled them in on the details of my plan.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Detective Paco in "The Color Purple" (Part I)

I lay in bed in the wee hours of Saturday morning, in that semi-comatose state that always descended on me after a late-night session at Machado’s, doing my best to help liquidate the bartender’s inventory. While the usual paralytic symptoms were present, this time I also noticed a strange ringing noise. Mustering brute strength, I managed to clap my hands over my ears, but I could still hear that persistent *ring-ring-ring*. Eventually, as consciousness began to seep into my brain, I realized that it was the telephone. My hand wandered under its own power in the general direction of the night-table, finding, in succession, an ashtray, an empty coffee cup, an alarm clock and, at long last, the phone. Lifting the instrument off the hook, my hand pulled it toward my aching head and shoved it against my mouth. I inquired with something less than my usual coherence, “Humphxx?”

An excited female voice commenced a barrage of inquiries and pleas.

“Hello, Paco? Paco, is that you? Listen, you’ve got to help me. You’ll never guess what happened!” It was Sheila, my gal Friday.

“Mmm…”

“Listen, Mom’s been arrested!”

The loud chuckle that erupted from my rusty larynx caused me some pain, but it was worth it. The idea of Mrs. Doherty being tossed in the jug was the kind of thing to ease a dying man’s passing, sending him off to meet his maker with a renewed belief in the ultimate fairness of life.

You’d have to know her, of course, to understand why this news flash gave me such pleasure. Mrs. Doherty was a feisty little half-pint who thought that the world was completely devoid of men who were worthy of her daughter’s affection, and the unworthiest of all, in her view, was Sheila’s employer – namely, yours truly. Although I went out of my way to demonstrate that my regard for Sheila was nothing more than brotherly – an attitude that I was determined to maintain, and which had even secretly led me to make the supreme sacrifice of switching from hot to cold showers – Mrs. Doherty had one of those suspicious minds that viewed every man as a potential wolf poised to spring upon her beloved lamb.

Sheila’s agitated voice brought me back from my reverie. “Paco, this is nothing to laugh about! I can’t stand the thought of Mom being in jail!”

Neither could the police, I imagined. She wouldn’t be in stir for more than fifteen minutes before she had organized the inmates and set them to banging their tin cups on the bars, bawling for better grub and clean sheets.

“Ok, ok,” I said. “Take it easy. Now, what happened? What kind of trouble could your mother possibly get into in the middle of the night? She always goes to bed before ten.”

“Paco, it’s nine o’clock in the morning.”

My hand crept toward the night-table again and retrieved the clock. She was right. My hangover and the drawn curtains had simply created the illusion that it was three o’clock in the morning.

“I guess I overslept. So, why did the cops pinch her? Jaywalking? Creating a public disturbance? She wasn’t trying to feed Mexican pesos into a soda-pop machine again, was she?”

“Assault and battery.”

I groaned, but only from the inconvenience of having to get up, not from surprise. One time, Mrs. Doherty, still recovering from knee surgery, had knocked a purse snatcher down with her walker and pinned him to the sidewalk until a concerned citizen had called the police and an officer had arrived. When he got there, the cop found the perp trapped under the aluminum legs of Mrs. D’s walker, his eyes watering from a blast of mace, his legs pulled up in a fetal position, as he tried desperately to ward off the old lady’s vicious kicks to his crotch. I hear that he practically threw himself at the policeman’s feet and begged him, in between gut-wrenching sobs, to carry him off to the pokey without delay or hindrance.

“Where are you calling from?”

“I’m down here at the 3rd Precinct trying to post bail.”

“Which bail bondsman does she usually take her business to?”

“That’s not funny, Paco. Mom’s never been arrested before.”

“What about that incident with the bus driver and the parakeet?”

“That was back in Kansas City, and they tossed the case out.”

“Only because the parakeet perjured himself. If the DA ever finds out…”

“Paco, are you coming down here or not?”

“Yeah, as soon as I gulp down a cup of coffee, I’ll be on my way.”

“There isn’t time. Just eat some coffee out of the can and get cracking.”

Monday, June 7, 2010

Don't worry, Mr. Preshizzle

We'll take care of that for you come 2012.

Update: If you really insist on kicking ass, Barry, maybe this will help. Try not to spill it on yourself!