Thursday, March 31, 2011

From the shelves of the Paco library


Let’s face it: we all enjoy the adept use of mockery to pop the balloons of the smug, to uncover the third-rate, to reveal the shortcomings of our fellow man (which, by definition, includes our own occasionally sorry selves). Many classic examples of mockery as an art form were collected by Dwight Macdonald in Parodies: An Anthology from Chaucer to Beerbohm. There are, as one would expect, some choice takeoffs of such notable writers as Pope, Swift, Wordsworth, Tennyson and Browning (and many others, too numerous to mention here); however, there are also darts hurled at political figures and even at the language of the common man, American version.

As an example of the latter, the editor has included H.L. Mencken’s translation of the elegant 18th century English of the Declaration of Independence into the contemporary American idiom of his time. For the benefit of those who may not recall the exact wording of the original, or who may never have encountered it at all, I reproduce the first paragraph here:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Mencken renders it thusly:
When things get so balled up that the people of a country got to cut loose from some other country, and go it on their own hook, without asking no permission from nobody, excepting maybe God Almighty, then they ought to let everybody know why they done it, so that everybody can see they are not trying to pull nothing over on nobody.
The classic phrase, which every schoolchild learned and took to heart as a crucial part of his heritage (at least, until fairly recent times) – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” – is translated as, “All we got to say on this proposition is this: first, me and you is as good as anybody else, and maybe a damn sight better.” And perhaps my favorite alteration:
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Becomes…
That any government that don’t give a man them rights ain’t worth a damn; also, people ought to choose the kind of government they want themselves, and nobody else ought to have no say in the matter. That whenever any government don’t do this, then the people have got a right to give it the bum’s rush…
Dwight Eisenhower may have been a great general and at least a good president, but his speeches (as president) were rather notorious for their mangled syntax and rambling subordinate clauses. Oliver Jensen translates the Gettysburg Address into “Eisenhowese”. Here is the last paragraph of Lincoln’s original:
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
If President Eisenhower had written and delivered this speech, Jensen believes it may have come out sounding something like this:
Now, frankly, our job, the living individuals’ job here, is to pick up the burden and sink the putt they made these big efforts here for. It is our job to get on with the assignment – and from these deceased fine individuals to take extra inspiration, you could call it, for the same theories about the set-up for which they made a big contribution. We have to make up our minds right here and now, as I see it, that they didn’t put out all that blood, perspiration – well –that they didn’t just make a dry run here, and that all of us here, under God, that is, the God of our choice, shall beef up this idea about freedom and liberty and those kind of arrangements, and that government of all individuals, by all individuals and for the individuals, shall not pass out of the world-picture.
Macdonald’s book was published in 1960, and is likely out of print; however, the Oxford University Press has recently come out with The Oxford Book of Parodies - see review here - and it looks promising.

Obama: “Hey, look over there! Jimmy Carter!”

Yes, the Grandee of Georgia Goobery continues to beclown himself.

One wonders what Obama will do with the rest of his life, once he is heaved out of the White House. I like to think he’d spare us the endless stream of embarrassing episodes that have constituted Carter’s post-presidential career, but I’m not optimistic. Being a self-styled internationalist, he might decide to continue slinging his pick at the edifice of American exceptionalism, or maybe he’ll slip into the role of minister-without-portfolio, becoming a mouthpiece for various disreputable foreign organizations (or, for that matter, for one or more disreputable domestic organizations). I’m sure George Soros will find something for him to do.

In any event, our biggest concern is over what he is doing (and not doing) now, and the most important future similarity I hope to see between Carter and Obama is one term in the White House.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Barack Obama, warmonger war mangler

An improvised war room in the White House. President Obama has summoned Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon to discuss U.S. strategy in Libya.

Obama: All right, let’s see what we’ve got here. Hmmm. Yes, two maps of Libya. Now, Bob, what’s the significance of the color scheme? There’s a big patch of red, with smaller patches of yellow.

Gates: The red represents the areas currently under the control of the government, the yellow represents the areas occupied by the rebels. This [pointing at one map] is from a week ago. And this one was put together after your speech.

Obama: Okeydoke. Well, now, wait a second. The yellow patches on the most recent map are fewer and smaller than on the map from last week. How can that be? Do you suppose Qaddafi didn’t hear my speech?

Gates: Er, we’ve been assured by our intelligence sources that he did, Mr. President.

Clinton: Mr. P-p-p…

Obama: *Sigh* It’s a fact, Hillary. I won, you lost. Get over it. Mister President. See how easy it is?

Clinton: Of course, Mr. P-p…sir. Maybe Qaddafi’s forces took heart from your…let’s see, now, how can I put this in a constructive, helpful way?... from your spineless waffling on the issue of regime change, and redoubled his attacks on rebel positions.

Obama: Hey, my waffling is not spineless! It’s a kind of nuanced, yet strong and manly dithering. The sort of thing voters expect from a president when he’s trying to finesse another term. The sort of thing that a president in a red pantsuit probably couldn’t pull off.

Donilon: Forgive me for interrupting, but we’re getting a little off-topic. Why don’t we just give money to Qaddafi to get what we want?

Obama: Donilon, try to remember that you’re no longer working for Fannie Mae, will you? That stuff won’t work with a nut job like Qaddafi. Bob, what else, besides air cover, can we do to make it look like we’re…ummm…

Gates: Doing something useful?

Obama: Exactly. Perception is reality, after all.

Gates: Well, we’ve provided the rebels with some smoke bombs to help screen them in their attacks. Here, I’ve brought one with me; thought you might like to see it [hands smoke bomb canister to Obama].

Obama: Woo! It’s heavier than it looks. What does this pin do?

Gates: No, Mr. President! Don’t pull…

*Pop!* Pffffffffftttt…

Obama: *Cough-cough!* Whoa! How do you turn this thing off? Gates? Gates, where are you?

Gates: Over here, sir! *Cough!*

Obama: Gates?

Voice: *Gag!* What on earth is going on in here?

Obama: Ah, there you are Gates. Why are you kneeling? Your voice seems to be coming from near the floor.

Voice: I’m not kneeling. And I’m not Gates. I’m Representative Dennis Kucinich, and I just popped in to show you this bill of impeachment I’m drawing up.

Obama: Right now I can hardly see anything. *Cough-cough!* Leave it with my secretary, Spock-ears!

Clinton: *Choke!* Is this the transparency you’ve been talking about, MR. PRESIDENT?

Obama: I can still make out the map, Hillary! And I’ve got my trusty pointer! And I say, we should continue to pound the seat of government, right there!

*Thump!*

*Slap!*

Obama: Ow!

Clinton: That was not the seat of government, buster!

Obama: Madame Secretary, you are hereby ordered to stop wearing those red pantsuits for the duration! What the… Where’s that water coming from?

Donilon: It looks like the smoke has set off the sprinkler system, sir.

A door opens. Gliding through the smoke like a stately ship plowing through a fog bank, the dignified silhouette of the president’s gentleman’s personal gentleman – Gustave Napoleon Toussaint D’Orleans, late of Haiti – can be seen striding to the window, the falling water pounding out a wet cadence on the umbrella with which he has wisely equipped himself for just such an emergency.

D'Orleans: Never fear, Monsieur le President! I will open ze window – so! – and turn on ze electric fan, and ze air weel be clear in ze nothings flat. [Mutters under his breath] Parbleu! May le bon Dieu preserve us from zees progresseeve war-manglers!

Is it a quagmire yet?

Up to now, I haven’t weighed in on the war, kinetic military action, aggressive humanitarian mission - whatever it is – in Libya, because I’m not really sure what’s going on.

I’m apparently a member of a large club in that regard, which includes even the president of the United States. So, Barry, just exactly what are you up to? You say Qaddafi must go, but claim that the scope of our activities does not include regime change. We followed France’s lead in supporting the rebels, only to find out that al-Qaeda is, to some extent at least, involved on their side. If we’re not truly committed to eliminating Qaddafi, then what happens if he manages to cling to power more or less indefinitely? Will we be establishing a permanent cordon of air cover to protect civilians? What if that doesn’t work? Will you be reduced to having U.S. planes drop DVDs of your recent speech on Qaddafi’s forces, in the hope that your awesome rhetoric will cause government troops to stack arms and go home?

Or is this whole thing like the making of Casablanca, in which shooting began before the writers had finished the script, and nobody had any real idea, day to day, how the movie was going to end?

Say, here’s a thought, Mr. President: look under the sheet music on the piano; maybe you’ll find a coherent strategy there (right next to the Letters of Transit).

Update: One relevant question is, “what was the impact of Obama’s speech on Qaddafi?” See here for the hilarious answer

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Buycott!

Seraphic Secret announces that tomorrow, March 30, is Buy Israeli Goods Day.

Help counter the global anti-Israeli boycott being sponsored the same day. Buy something produced in the only functioning democracy in the Middle East. Stand with Israel!

Free advice for Julia Gillard

Deny that you support a carbon tax, and blame the whole thing on false rumors spread by Chinese hackers.

(Still…how do you explain your own public statements on television? Hmmm…I’ve got it! That wasn’t you, it was computer animation done by the hackers!)

Things that go well with peanut butter

Jelly, chocolate, vanilla wafers, raccoons…

(H/T: Mrs. Paco)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Assortment

“Overseas-contingencies-kinetic-aliocious”

Robert Avrech at Seraphic Secret has the last word on Elizabeth Taylor.

Are you a Beta male longing to be Alpha? Then check out The Art of Manliness (H/T: Captain Heinrichs).

How about a live radio broadcast of a total lunar eclipse?

It's no longer "Grandpa John's." It's "Grandpa John's Kinetic Keyboard Action".

The wildest wild man of the wild worldwide web - Tim T - has some suggestions about Facebook upgrades.

Stay alert; Gavin Atkins is everywhere!

Unfortunately, that fiery Celt, Miss Red, has been ill. We wish her a speedy recovery, and we thank her for her Rule 5 (and for her endorsement).

Happy birthday to the great Dan Collins (do what he says).

Ohhhh, so those are sweater puppies...

Stephen Green drunkblogs Obama's Libya speech.

Another case of Chris Matthews disease discovered

Or, as I believe the medical experts call it, Obama-sourced jactitation. Via Small Dead Animals comes this priceless bit of asshattery from one Christina Patterson, writing (I nearly typed “writhing”) in The Independent:
Sometimes, you need to go away to keep your love alive. Perhaps it's the change of air. Perhaps it's the change of view. Perhaps it's just the chance to stop and pause. Who knows what it is that melts away the doubts, and the disappointment? But when I gazed at my beloved, at Lake Garda last weekend, I realised that, in spite of everything, my love still burned bright.
For Barack Obama, folks; her love still burns bright - let me count the ways…wherefore art thou, Barry?... Lay your sleeping head, my love, Human on my faithless arm… – yes, her love still burns bright for the First Jughead.

It may be true that there’s no accounting for taste; however, I know an overdraft in the common sense balance when I see one, and Ms. Patterson is clearly insolvent. Or perhaps the whole thing can be chalked up to a particularly bad case of delerium tremens, or a spot of malaria. Far better, I should think, to claim later on that one has been raving, than to admit to the ownership of these risible sentiments. Just a suggestion, ma’am!

So, what exactly does Obama have against U.S. energy independence?

The U.S. has the largest reserves of fossil fuel of any country on earth, yet, for some strange reason, we can’t seem to get them out of the ground.

In what I’m sure is totally unrelated news, GE continues to advocate cap and trade, and the development of commercially non-viable (but splendidly subsidized) alternative energy sources.

Down with crony capitalism! Up with paquismo!



(Photo courtesy of Colonel - soon to be Brigadier General - Milquetoast)

Compare and contrast

The conservative Koch brothers – owners of Koch Industries, a huge energy and manufacturing conglomerate - are being attacked by the administration and its allies on the left because of their advocacy of smaller government, while big government collaborator GE basks in the rewards attendant upon its pursuit of the worst sort of crony capitalism. Healthy competitiveness vs. slick lobbying, two pillars of the free market system vs. Jeffrey “Quisling” Immelt, taxpayers vs. tax dodgers, producers vs. parasites.

Obama has turned the lights out in the kitchen, and the cockroaches are running amok. Let’s hope the 2012 election will prove to be a big dose of boric acid powder.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Caption Time!


After going on a murderous rampage, Frankenstein's monster terrorized children at a local soccer camp.

Monday Movie

Papillon and his friends escape and find themselves in a leper colony.

Hey, how about those VCU Rams?

Virginia Commonwealth University is having quite a good run, having beaten Kansas today 71-61, and moving into the final four.

In keeping with what I take to be blog tradition, I suppose I should celebrate with a photo of sweater puppies. Ok, here ya go.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sunday funnies



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Tim Blair and friends celebrate Earth Hour.

Reporter comes out of the closet

Or would have, if Joe Biden hadn't prevented him.

England in decline - Part XLII

Hundreds of thousands of "youths" rioted in London in a protest against government spending cuts - and to enjoy the adrenaline rush one gets when one throws white paint on police officers.


"Cor, I wish this was Chicago, 1968."

Correction: There were hundreds of thousands of protesters, but they weren't all rioting; looks like the violence was due largely to the efforts of our old friends, the anarchists (self-styled, anarchists, that is; apparently they want to preserve a critical mass of government in order to fleece the taxpayers on their behalf).

Friday, March 25, 2011

GE stands for “Gravy Express”

Actually, the exploitation runs in several mutually advantageous directions – none of which benefit the taxpayer, as Conn Carroll points out in this article:
We’re sure there was no quid pro quo between Rangel and Immelt. That would be bribery, which is illegal [ “Ha,ha!” the author failed to add – Paco] And there is nothing illegal about lobbying or giving to charity. In fact, in our current system, it is hard for a capitalist to compete without “investing” in politics. The U.S. corporate tax rate is the highest in the world at 35 percent. If GE did not have a Washington office dedicated to lobbying for benefits from the government, over the last five years it would have had to pay somewhere around $9.1 billion in taxes on its $26 billion in American profits alone. Instead it got a $4.1 billion benefit. That is a $13.2 billion payoff on a $200 million lobbying investment. What kind of capitalist could say no to that kind of return on investment?

When once-great exemplars of capitalism like GE are profiting more by investing in lawyers and lobbyists in Washington instead of engineers and innovators, our system is clearly broken. We can start to fix these incentives by reducing the corporate tax rate. But much broader reform of our tax and regulatory system is needed.
Not to mention the absolute necessity of ridding ourselves of capitalist rope salesmen.

H/T: Instapundit

The New York Times and the tragedy of memory loss

The old, gray battle-ax may soon be good for nothing but bird-cage liner and cheap insulation (or perhaps, as my readers will hasten to point out, it has already fully transitioned to those primary uses).

Kinetic military action is hell

Smitty was one of many who commented on what he calls the administration’s “verbal wardrobe malfunction.”

The Orwellian euphemisms used by the current crowd would be amusing if the underlying idiocy were not so dangerous for the country. It’s enough to make me want to engage in a time-limited, scope-limited, kinetic transfer of foot energy to the seat of the trousers of whoever is responsible for this alarming proliferation of nonsense.

H.L. Mencken wrote something about the inauguration speech of Warren G. Harding that could be applied to 99% of everything uttered by Obama and his minions: “It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh.”

The fundamental unseriousness of Barack Obama

Perhaps the president has hit upon the idea of surrounding himself with incompetents in order to look better by comparison. Why else would he even consider somebody like Jamie Gorelick to head the FBI?
Movie patrons recall Forrest Gump's remarkable presence in an amazing succession of notable historical events. Gump's innocence and simple wisdom amid those times made for a delightful two hours of cinematic escapism. But there is no escaping the damage that would result if President Obama appoints Jamie Gorelick to succeed Robert Mueller as FBI director. Like Gump, Gorelick was present at a remarkable series of recent historical events during the past two decades, but through them all she displayed nothing that could be called either innocent or wise. So let us count the ways in which Gorelick earned the sobriquet "Mistress of Disaster."
The Obama administration continues its transformation into one giant maelstrom of fecklessness.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy Feet Friday

Gene Krupa flails away!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Keep Marizela in your prayers

Michelle Malkin has created a site dedicated to finding her missing cousin.

From the shelves of the Paco library



I believe it was friend and commenter Michael Lonie who brought to my attention John Maddox Roberts’ SPQR series, for which I am deeply in Michael’s debt. I have finished the first two books - The King’s Gambit and The Cataline Conspiracy - and found them to be excellent.

The series stars Decius Caecilius Metellus, a low-level public functionary from a large old noble family, whose talent for snooping enables him not only to solve murders but to ferret out threats to the Republic. Falling somewhere between the philosophical amiability of Steven Saylor’s Gordianus the Finder, and the wise-guy brashness of Lindsey Davis’ Marcus Didius Falco, Decius, though a young man of high integrity, has no illusions concerning the shortcomings of Roman government, or the human foibles of his fellow man (including himself). Written in the first person, the narrative is characterized by a ready wit and a healthy dose of honest introspection, which are combined with plot lines taken from the pages of real history.

In The King’s Gambit, Decius thwarts a conspiracy by consuls Crassus and Pompey against a successful Roman general who is fighting against the kingdom of Pontus (although his discovery and attempted prosecution of high-level corruption nearly costs him his life). His weakness for beautiful women – who tend to be involved in the skullduggery – adds to the danger, although there are, ahem, compensations.

And, as with all of the best writers of historical fiction, we are given some very interesting history lessons:
…since some god had seen fit to put Mithridates in my mind, I reviewed what I knew of him. There was always some rogue of that name troubling the eastern world, kings of Parthia or Pontus. The one giving us so much trouble that year was the King of Pontus, the sixth Pontine king of that name. He was something of a marvel, because he had been no more than eleven years old when he inherited the throne from his father (Mithradates V, naturally), had been a prize troublemaker for every minute of his reign and was still alive at sixty…

He was said to be a huge man, a champion with all weapons, the fastest foot-racer in the world, a superb horseman, a poet and more. It was said that he could speak twenty-two languages and that he could outeat, outdrink and outfornicate any ordinary human being. But then, it is always the Roman tendency to ascribe heroic qualities to someone who has repeatedly bested us. We did the same, briefly, for Hannibal, Jugurtha and even Spartacus. It would be too humiliating to admit that our most successful foe was probably some disgusting little Asiatic hunchback with a squint and a hanging lower lip.
The Catiline Conspiracy takes us into a world of embittered schemers, who begin by killing moneylenders (the conspirators are nearly all heavily in debt), and end in a last stand that features a desperate battle between the rapidly-constituted legion of Lucius Sergius Catalina, the chief troublemaker, and two regular roman legions. The story is awash with spies and double agents, and ambitious men whose lust for power takes them to the verge of madness. Our hero comes close to madness himself, of a different kind, as he is seduced by the sensuous step-daughter of Catalina.

For lovers of mysteries and Roman history, the SPQR series is highly recommended.

The Paco Doctrine

"You want some of this?"



Many thanks to Col. Milquetoast.

Elizabeth Taylor, RIP



She was one of the most beautiful women ever to emerge on the Hollywood scene, the dark hair and violet eyes a stunning combination. She made some fine films (I liked her in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer), and she won two best-actress Oscars: one for Butterfield 8 (which I haven’t seen), and one for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (which I have seen and positively loathe; the incessant, monstrous on-screen fighting between Taylor and Richard Burton might just as easily have come from one of their own home movies).

Elizabeth Taylor led a very messy life, but still…one of the last of the screen giants, unforgettable.

Dead at 79.

Update: Well, now, that's weird.

Chuck Schumer thinks you're guilty until proven innocent

And even if you're innocent, it doesn't matter - at least when it comes to gun ownership.
Get collared years ago on a bogus drug charge because the oregano in your back pocket looked like was a bag of weed? Or maybe a judge back in 2006 dropped those charges because you were able to provide proof for that Adderall prescription? Under proposed legislation, it will not matter if you were innocent all along or even proven innocent by a court of law.

Either way, you can forget about buying a gun.

The Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011 would greatly expand the definition of those legally prohibited from owning firearms to include anyone who’s ever been arrested — even if never convicted or found guilty — for drug possession within a five-year period.
My first act as president will be to propose legislation mandating that any senators or congressmen who sponsor legislation that infringes on the constitutional rights of the citizen will have their office moved to a bench in McPherson Square, where they can rub shoulders with the other bums.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy Birthday to William Shatner!

He's 80 years old today.

One of my favorite Shatner scenes.

Sounds logical to me

Jeff G. explains Obama’s Libyan policy in one short, incisive paragraph.

Another commie finally confesses to what we all knew anyway

Morton Sobell, who conspired with Julius Rosenberg and others to deliver military secrets to the Soviet Union, has come clean about his motives.

See Dan Collins for much more, including some interesting background on Gadhafi’s connection to the East German Stasi.

Bigamy exposed

Facebook Fail.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sounds like Obama’s next Secretary of the Treasury

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) failed to pay $287,000 in property taxes

It’s the consistency, stupid

David Steinberg has an excellent piece at Pajamas Media questioning the wisdom of Rovian political strategy.
Mr. Rove: the reason there is no frontrunner right now is that everyone is following Rovian strategy and is sending out feelers, which sounds disgusting. Nobody — excepting the GOP candidates wondering why they aren’t polling well — read your op-ed and felt relieved.

The self-evident truth regarding running as a conservative — an identity which overwhelmingly comprises America’s biggest voting bloc — is that conservatives do not care who wins the GOP nomination. They are happy; they are self-sufficient and will fight on their own. If the party gets onboard with the base, good for the party, but the base is aboard with the Constitution first and the GOP second or never.

This has been evident since the Founders; this was demonstrated truth during the 2010 elections. How can you not know this yet?
Rove’s basic preference for a candidate on wheels – move him to the right in order to get the nomination, then back to the center for the election – is, over time, too clever by half. It might be an acceptable strategy if all you’re interested in is electing a Republican; it won’t do to launch a revolution.

H/T: Ed Driscoll

The “Duh!” Factor

Hyscience poses the question, “Are 38% of Americans dumber than a box of rocks or are our public schools doing a terribly bad job of teaching our students about American history and government?”

Ignorance and apathy are, in my opinion, two of the main nutrients that support the poisonous tree of American liberalism, and are the sturdiest props for our increasingly large class of clueless “independents”, endlessly gullible, forever stumbling around in a fog of unknowing, hoping that “somehow everything will all work out.” Add these people to the ranks of the true believers, and, as the mile-markers on the road to economic disaster begin to whiz by so fast that they look like a picket fence, conditions become ripe for the destruction of freedom and order. Be sure to wake me when the civil war starts.

If you can see apocalypse coming, thank a teachers’ union.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Monday Movie

The doublecross scene from one of the greatest heist movies ever, The Asphalt Jungle.

Assortment

As Sisu points out, Sarah Palin is scoring big in India (the legacy media, of course, generally can’t be bothered).

Mark Steyn marvels at our very relaxed president.

A few terrific music videos from friend Swampy.

Stacy McCain looks at example #1,386 of England's increasing dhimmitude.

Troglopundit provides us with some interesting Automotivators (at least one of which may well motivate you to wash your eyes out with bleach).

BATF is, once again, gambling with people's lives.

Hey, who doesn’t love puppies?

Kae accomplishes the near-impossible: telling us what’s wrong with Kevin Rudd in less than one thousand words.

Boy on a Bike mulls over some of the strange and erratic leftist views on the use of military force.

The endorsements of my presidential bid just keep piling up!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sunday funnies

Some curious photos, courtesy of Are We Lumberjacks?

The latest in automobile safety features.

Paco Enterprises' salesman of the year.

Update: Paco announces his platform...


Campaign poster courtesy of that Photoshop genius, Col. Milquetoast

Off the rails

This week's dollop of sweet irony.

Rule 5 Saturday

Meet the new Wonderwoman.
Last month, NBC's "Wonder Woman" reboot cast its titular superheroine, with "Friday Night Lights" star Adrianne Palicki stepping into Lynda Carter's invisible plane.
"Titular"? I'll say!

Update: My presidential bid has received another endorsement, and it is definitely the one that is most pleasing to the eyes!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy Feet Friday

Martha Davis, again, playing Vip-i-ty Vip-i-ty Vop.

Can't wait

This is too funny to leave until Sunday.

The Paco Juggernaut!

What's this? Why, it's another endorsement! Unsolicited!

*Ring, ring*...Yo, Tony. Paco. You know the guy who runs 36 Chambers? Yeah, everything's jake. Send his family back to him.

Barack Obama

Putzarch.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

From the shelves of the Paco library


Historical fiction day!

I believe I may have written about Michael Jecks’ excellent medieval mysteries before, but I’d like to draw attention to what constitutes a series within a series. The last several books – which feature the author’s great creations, Sir Baldwin Furnshill, ex-Knight Templar and keeper of the King’s peace for Devon, and his friend Simon Puttock, sometime bailiff and exciseman – have revolved around negotiations between Edward II of England and Charles IV of France for the return to the English king of certain lands seized by the French monarch.

The times were tumultuous, and the British realm was in increasing disarray (as Jecks has written, “The 14th century is a great time for a novelist to write about, just because it was not a great time to live”). The reign of Edward II was rocked by scandals, insurrection and defeats at the hands of the Scots, and no man’s property was safe from the depredations of the king’s chief counselor (and lover) Sir Hugh Le Despenser, a greedy and ruthless figure who is one of the preeminent villains of English history. The French have at last seized Edward’s valuable holdings on the continent, and Charles IV refuses to return them unless Edward travels to the French court to formally acknowledge and renew his vassalage. Edward is prevented by his pride, as well as by his fears for the life of Despenser in his absence, from personally appearing in the court of Charles. He eventually presses his estranged wife, Queen Isabella (who is Charles’ sister), to go to France and enter into negotiations with the French king.

In The Templar, the Queen and Her Lover, The Prophecy of Death, The King of Thieves, No Law in the Land, and The Bishop Must Die, Jecks weaves a multitude of inventive subplots, against the larger background of the lengthy, difficult and strained royal negotiations, that take our heroes back and forth, between France and England, where they are caught up in murders motivated by greed, ambition and politics, inadvertently creating powerful enemies as they proceed with their investigations, heedless of everything save the truth. The books provide a superb picture of some of the most notable men and women of the age, as well as a comprehensive look at the day-to-day lives of everyone from monarchs to serfs, from knights to wandering musicians.

* * * * * *

I have long been a fan of Edwardian fiction, particularly the adventure yarns of such authors as H. Rider Haggard and Anthony Hope, and the historical novels of Stanley J. Weyman. Thanks to my Kindle, I recently downloaded one of the books in Edgar Wallace’s series on Sanders, British commissioner for an unnamed colony in West Central Africa. In Bones: Being Further Adventures in Mr. Sanders’ Country, Sanders is absent for much of the time on leave. The responsibility for keeping the peace falls to Hamilton, his second in command, and to a new addition to the staff, Lieutenant Francis Augustus Tibbets, a brave, but thin and callow, youth, whom Hamilton nicknames “Bones” - sometimes, depending on circumstances, lengthening the name to “Bones, you ass.”

The stories fall into the subgenre of Edwardian fiction known as “empire fiction”, and although there is a bit of the “white man’s burden” aspect to the tales, given the prevailing spirit of lighthearted comedy (almost Wodehousian in places), and the follies of Lieutenant Tibbets, there is also something of the “black man’s burden”, as well. Together, Hamilton and Bones tackle tribal animosities, long-standing personal feuds, tropical illness, dynastic struggles and even a jungle god. Along the way, they are assisted by a powerful and cunning local chief by the name of Bosambo, who is not above a little larceny now and then, but who has a deep respect and a genuine affection for Sanders and his subordinates, managing to save them from less loyal chiefs (and from their own mistakes) on more than one occasion. Here is a sample of the sly humor that predominates, as Bosambo palavers with an ambassador from another tribe, a hereditary enemy:
Bosambo received an envoy from the chief of the Akasava, and the envoy brought with him presents of dubious value and a message to the effect that N’gori spent much of his waking moments in wondering how he might best serve his brother Bosambo, “The right arm on which I and my people lean and the bright eyes through which I see beauty.”

Bosambo returned the messenger, with presents more valueless, and an assurance of friendship more sonorous, more complete in rhetoric and aptness of hyperbole, and when the messenger had gone Bosambo showed his appreciation of N’gori’s love by doubling the guard about the Ochori city and sending a strong picket under his chief headman to hold the river bend.”
A very fun read.

* * * * * *

The second novel in John Stack’s series on the first Punic War is out - Captain of Rome - and it is outstanding. Also, I’m looking forward to reading A Battle Won, the second in S. Thomas Russell’s saga of the age of fighting sail.

Alternating bouts of narcolepsy and golf

Yes, I think that admirably captures the leadership attributes of the Obama presidency.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Paco Enterprises’ sales of remainder tables set to skyrocket

Al Gore is writing a new book. Let’s see, now, what will this one be about…?
“With this new work, I hope to help start a conversation about the large-scale drivers of change that are defining and shaping our future — from the rapid development and integration of radically new technologies to the planet-changing impact of the climate crisis, to poverty, globalization and the democratization of knowledge accompanying the emergence of a ubiquitous Internet linking ever more intelligent devices,” Gore said.
Al, Al, Al! That stuff’s pure tranquilizer, buddy; in tandem with your last effort, the two together practically constitute a lethal injection. Where’s the sizzle? Where’s the spice? C’mon, Al, you know what I’m talking about! Give us the inside skinny on the Hollywood sex kittens, the massage therapists, the cheerleaders. Show us the wood sprite that lives in that hollow tree.

A man apart

So, how does it feel to teach a college-level literature course when one of your students is the prime suspect in an ax-murder case? Professor Ellen Laird provides some first-hand observations.

Republicans treating gut-shot economy with styptic pen

Protein Wisdom has been on a tear all week about the failure of the Republican leadership to tackle, head-on, the crucial need for entitlements reform (including the absolute necessity of dismantling ObamaCare). True, the GOP understandably doesn’t want to get stuck with “owning” some of the tough choices that have to be made, and there are limits to what Republicans can accomplish while they control just the House of Representatives. But the drop-in-the-bucket cuts which are a feature of the (apparently) endless series of continuing resolutions do little to address the massive underlying problem: government’s condemnation of this and future generations to indentured servitude in order to pay for things the country can’t afford. The small nicks to the federal budget we’ve seen so far are increasingly being viewed as empty symbolism – as evidenced by the refusal of some of the new conservative congressmen to back the most recent continuing resolution. It is inconceivable to me that Republicans who are trembling like hunted rabbits because of what they see as the potential political fallout from a government shut-down are going to turn into entitlement-devouring lions when (they hope) they take back the senate and the White House.

Even a legislative majority isn’t going to make a fiscal rescue policy palatable to large numbers of people, as we have seen recently in Wisconsin. Yet there, the governor was willing to do the right thing, no matter what the future electoral consequences – which, you know, may well turn out to be positive, if the groundswell of concern over the irresponsible overreach of government and its mercenaries is genuine.

We might as well go ahead and find out what kind of country we are, and what kind we want to be, so the GOP leadership ought to stop bragging about how bold they’re all going to be tomorrow, weather permitting, and start stepping up their aggressiveness now.

P.S. And please tell me that the current leads held by Huckabee and Romney in preference polls are mostly about name recognition. If there is a god of politics, he’s eventually going to take umbrage at our willingness to offer up sacrifices of such inferior cattle.

Sound recall!

Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Alvarez learns the hard way the perils of overestimating the patience of constituents.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The trial of Cap’n Crunch


(Suggested by news reports that the Cap’n is, or at least was, being considered for retirement)

HMS Raptor bobbed softly at anchor in Plymouth harbor, as the bright sunshine splintered into thousands of sparkling lights on the surface of the calm waters. Belying the apparent serenity of the morning, however, a group of grim naval officers had assembled on deck to perform an exceedingly unpleasant task : the officers, under the presidency of Vice Admiral Lord Cadogan, had gathered to form a court martial that would adjudicate a serious charge against a brother officer.

The judges removed their cocked hats and placed them on a long table that had been placed on deck to serve as the bench. Lord Cadogan cast his eyes over the small crowd of junior officers and sailors who had been called as witnesses, and gave a quick glance at a short, portly man with a bulbous nose and a white mustache, who stood in front of the others, smiling rather inanely; this peculiar-looking little specimen was none other than the subject of the inquiry, Captain Eustace Marmaduke Crunch. Lord Cadogan sighed and took his seat, as did his fellow judges.

“I hereby declare this court martial to be in session,” Lord Cadogan intoned. “Captain Crunch, you have been charged by numerous officers and crew members of conduct that represents a breach of your duties under the Articles of War, specifically Article 20, the relevant section of which states, as follows: ‘If any person of the fleet shall find cause of complaint of the unwholesomeness of the victual, or upon other just ground, he shall quietly make known to his superior, or captain, or commander in chief, as the occasion may deserve, that such present remedy may be had as the matter may require; and the said superior, captain or commander in chief shall, as far as he is able, cause the same to be presently remedied.’ We will hear first from the principal witnesses who have lodged the charge. Is Lieutenant Viscount Henry Chenoweth present?”

A young man stepped forward and approached the bench. He was correctly attired in the uniform consistent with his rank; however, it was clearly manufactured of superior materials and made by one of the most prestigious tailors in London. Lieutenant Viscount Henry Chenoweth stood before the judges brimming with the confidence and self-possession of a man who had ascended in the service rapidly, having eschewed the irksome path of hard work, long experience and merit, for the greased rails provided by the family fortune that had enabled his father to purchase a commission for his (admittedly) indolent and vexatious younger son. Lieutenant Chenoweth made a gracious leg to the court and took his oath.

“Lieutenant Chenoweth, you are the person through whose efforts this matter was first brought to the attention of the Admiralty. How long have you served with Captain Crunch aboard HMS Guppy?”

“Nearly a year, my lord. Although, if the court will permit me to say so, it seems a much longer time, due to the foul provender that Captain Crunch inflicted on us.”

“Can you give some account of the victuals that were provided under Captain Crunch’s command?”

“I am most grateful for the opportunity of describing the …the victuals, as you call them, my lord; however, I would sooner refer to our comestibles as the sort of inferior feed with which a dirt-poor husbandman might, in sheer desperation, slop his hogs, than as victuals fit for even the most lubberly pressed man, let alone for an officer in His Majesty’s service.” Lieutenant Chenoweth took the lapels of his coat in hand, striking what he took to be the perfect courtroom pose of the justly aggrieved plaintiff. He smiled inwardly; his use of the word “lubberly” gave his testimony what he believed to be the requisite salty air.

“Thank you for your testimony, Lieutenant. You may stand down. The court now calls chief gunner, Davy Toadvine.”

A short, stocky fellow approached the bench, tugging his wholly imaginary forelock; the real thing, along with the rest of his hair, having vanished years before, the result of an excess of powder in a 32 pounder, a mistake committed in his salad days as a gunner’s mate. Taking his oath he stood solemnly before the court, his eyes glued to the deck.

“Mr. Toadvine, you were elected by the crew to approach Lieutenant Chenoweth with a petition from the common seamen, were you not?”

“Aye, sor, I was that.”

“Now, Mr. Toadvine, how long have you served under Captain Crunch?”

“’R, nigh onto three year, your worship.”

“And how long have you been in the Navy?”

“It be twenty year, this May, sor. I run away when I were a lad, on account of me ol’ dad bein’ hanged at Newgate for housebreakin’. Which were a mighty big miscarriage o’ justice, your lordship. See, me ol’ dad come home one night three sheets to the wind, an’ he accidental-like put his key in the door o’ the house across the street. Well, when he couldn’t get in, he broke a window, so…”

Lord Cadogan held up a commanding hand. “Chief gunner, the sad end of Toadvine pére is not the business of this court…”

The chief gunner looked at Lord Cadogan in perplexity. “Pair, your worship? There weren’t no pair o’ Toadvines, sor, just me ol’ dad. Although I did have an uncle once, what got transported to the colonies for stealin’ a cow…”

“Mr. Toadvine, the fact that the Newgate Calendar is graced with numerous entries featuring the exploits of your family is a matter of no little general interest; however, the purpose of this court is to determine whether or not Captain Crunch provided the officers and men of his command with unwholesome victuals.”

“R, well, when it comes to that, your lordship, the stuff he give us tasted like wood chips with treacle on’em. Give me good ol’ ship’s biscuit any day over that swill.”

Lord Cadogan, with considerable asperity, invited Mr. Toadvine to step down. The chief gunner was followed by a long procession of witnesses who testified to a congeries of complaints about the ill effects of Captain Crunch’s provisions –now identified as a sugar-coated cereal - ranging from diarrhea to tooth decay. As the sun began descending over the taffrail, Lord Cadogan called Captain Crunch to make his defense.

“Captain Crunch, you have been advised of the charge against you, and have heard the testimony of your officers and crew. What is your defense?”

“Why, my cereal is part of a balanced daily breakfast!”

Although Lord Cadogan was a fair man disposed toward leniency, he had to fight down the irritation he experienced on hearing the captain’s fruity, sing-song voice.

“Captain Crunch, you have just listened to a dozen witnesses denounce your ‘breakfast cereal’ as cattle fodder, so unpalatable that it has to be coated with sugar to get it down. And you have the men eat it with milk! As an officer of the Royal Navy, with many years of experience at sea, you know full well that water can go bad; how much more likely that is with milk.”

“But, my lord, the cereal stays crunchy no matter what you pour over it, due to my secret formula!”

“The impermeability of your cereal to liquids, whether they be water, milk or grog, strikes me as entirely irrelevant. Have you anything further to say in your defense?”

“Kids love it!”

“This court is recessed until nine o’clock tomorrow morning.”

Lord Cadogan and the other judges went ashore, booking a private room at a local tavern in which to discuss the case. Their conference was interrupted late in the evening by the arrival of a dispatch rider who brought important news from London having an indirect, yet important, bearing on the matter at hand.

The next morning, the judges reconvened the court martial upon HMS Raptor. Captain Crunch stood before them, the same inane smile plastered on his face. Lord Cadogan rolled his eyes and cleared his throat.

“Captain Crunch, it is the judgment of this court that you are guilty of violating Article 20, having compelled your officers and crew to eat unhealthy victuals, and having failed to remedy their just demands; however, we have considerable latitude in determining the appropriate punishment, and in view of your recent heroic action against the notorious pirate, Jean La Foot, news of which we received just last night, it is this court’s desire to exercise leniency. Therefore, you are hereby reduced in rank to lieutenant, although, for the time being, you will remain in your position as commander of HMS Guppy."

For the first time during the proceedings, the usually ebullient captain appeared crestfallen. He looked yearningly at Lord Cadogan and asked, “There’s to be no flogging, then?”

Lord Cadogan’s eyes narrowed to steely slits. “This court is adjourned!”

Why is Col. Milquetoast my campaign manager?

This is why (as always, click to enlarge):

Can we dock Obama’s pay?

The guy has been in a holding pattern since the beginning of his presidency, occasionally bellowing “hard to port” from the aft deck, but leaving practically all of the real decision-making to his allies in Congress, or to his various cabinet chiefs and czars. He should be introducing every speech with “I’m not really a president, but I play one on TV.”

Michael Barone, in a typically insightful article, observes that not making a decision really is making a decision (by default), whether the subject is the budget or Libya.
Voting "present" may be a responsible move for a legislator genuinely undecided about which way to go. But an executive voting "present" is choosing a course with consequences whether he likes it or not.

"The buck stops here," said the sign on the desk of the 33rd president, Harry Truman, who was quick to make decisions -- sometimes too quick. The 44th president's tendency seems to be something like the opposite.
We have elected a man as president who seems to truly hate his job. The kind thing - the charitable thing - would be to remove the source of his unhappiness in 2012.

Meanwhile, we're in the unenviable position of hoping that Obama rises to the level of Jimmy Carter.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Republican leadership still suffering from invertebritis

Jeff G. cites Rep. Steve King’s lamentations over the failure of the Republican House leadership to challenge the automatic spending provisions of ObamaCare:
Some members fear that a direct House challenge to Obamacare funding will lead to a government shutdown and Republicans would be blamed. Others believe a confrontation is futile — because if we passed a funding ban, the president would veto it anyway.

They should instead fear the wrath of the American people, to whom we pledged to repeal and defund Obamacare. The same American people who sent 87 freshmen Republicans to Congress — all pledged to pull Obamacare out by the roots. Will the president shut down the government rather than watch his signature program starve for lack of funds? Would he hold all government functions hostage for a king’s ransom of $105.5 billion? Then so be it.
So be it, indeed. What are the Republicans going to do if Obama is reelected in 2012? Wait until 2016, and hope for a GOP White House win before taking action? You can’t beat back the assault by the Democratic Party on personal liberty by turning into a bunch of delicate Victorian maidens overcome by the vapors every time a fight looms. If the Republicans are afraid to do the right thing until they fully control both the executive and legislative branches – and unless the polls are overwhelmingly favorable – the party might as well disband now.

Intellectuals for Sale

Eggheads are no more resistant to the pull of notoriety and applause than anyone else, as Paul Rahe points out in this article.
What would it take to elicit servility from an intellectual? Money would help, of course. Just ask the Harvard professors who founded the Monitor Group—which for a time shilled for Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in return for a quarter of a million dollars a month. And query the administration at the London School of Economics, recipient of a £1.5-million pledge from a foundation run by Seif, the tyrant's notably generous, charming, and debonair son and presumed heir, who earned a Ph.D. at the school with a dissertation alleged by some to have been at least partly plagiarized (LSE is investigating those allegations).

But money is certainly not the only coin in which the modern intellectual likes to be paid. There is, after all, nothing quite like celebrity, and proximity to power can easily become for an intellectual in search of renown what a candle is for a moth. If, as they say, power corrupts, then lack of power corrupts absolutely.
Intellect without a moral compass is not just useless – it is dangerous.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Monday Movie

The hanging scene from The Ox-Bow Incident, a classic treatment of the perils of mob justice.

Assortment

Obama is either a pathological liar, or an idiot if he truly believes the stuff he says.

Oh, and he’s also a deadbeat.

36 Chambers has the post title of the week.

Those evil Republicans might be trying to kill off cowboy poetry, but Smitty has saved a sample from obscurity.

Department of Stopped Clock, Right Twice a Day.

France – freakin’ France - is better at taking a strong foreign policy stance than the Obama administration.

I guess the moral is, if you’re emotionally dependent on an iguana, you might want to eat in.

Steve Burri identifies mysterious, blob-like humanoid.

Harriet Tibet gets dirty.

The Paco for President campaign continues to pick up steam: I now have the coveted Tizona endorsement! Meanwhile, some big-name supporters are whipping up enthusiastic crowds: for example, in Hoboken and Baton Rouge. We’re also making inroads in Illinois and Tennessee.

Disaster in Japan

Our prayers go out for the Japanese (many details at Mind Numbed Robot). Suzy Rice has a list of organizations that are helping.

PFP Media Manager named

That would be Col. Milquetoast, who has created this great poster (click to enlarge):

Cuttin' it close

Some amazing low fly-bys (H/T: JeffS).

Sunday Funny

Appearances can be deceiving.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Happy Feet Friday

Saturday edition!

Joe Maphis works his way through several instruments in “Pickin’ and Singin’”.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Aimee Semple Pelosi

The government apparently has “the biblical power to cure.” Nancy Pelosi will now lead us in prayer:

Heal, Father! In thy just wrath, strike down these heathen Republicans who would transgress thy holy law, dispossessing thy children of the taxpayer gravy that thou hast made a cornerstone of thy covenant with thy chosen interest groups. Do thou tread on their vile red necks, grinding their faces into the ordure of their kin, the jackals and the wild pigs, and clothe thy children in the righteous armor of federal entitlements, forever and ever, Amen.”

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Paco announces bid for presidency

Just doin' my, er, patriotic duty.

I'm thinking of using these slogans (each one will, of course, have the preamble, "Vote for Paco"):
He'll treat your money like it's his own.

Isn't it time for a president whose head doesn't look like a soup tureen?

Born in the USA (certified copy of birth certificate available on request)

He'll sit around doing nothing for half the current presidential salary

He'll never bow to foreign potentates (although he may pistol whip them if they piss him off)
Let's get these posters up, pronto!



Update: I receive my first big endorsement!

Update II: Nothing like a little opposition to get some free publicity.

Update III: The momentum builds!

Update IV: Another endorsement!

Chuck Norris turns 71



Have a great birthday, Chuck (er...please).

Today's Chuck Norris fact: Chuck Norris' calendar goes straight from March 31st to April 2. No one fools Chuck Norris.

Obama’s lust for power

Explained at last.
President Barack Obama says he endured school-yard harassment because of his large ears and funny name and he wants today's students to know bullying is unacceptable
Unless, of course, it involves bullying Republican state legislators trying to rein in extortionate public employee unions. That’s, you know, different.

Update:
Caution! Irony overload alert! The execrable Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is the leading sponsor of proposed anti-bullying legislation.

Paco Enterprises invites bids on Brooklyn Bridge

How is it that liberals, who are so gosh-darn smart and well-educated, are so easily conned? William Tucker, over at The American Spectator, mulls this phenomenon over in light of the recent NPR pratfall.
So where do NPR intellectuals get the idea they are the only smart people around? Only by ignoring the opposition. Tune in to Fox News any night and listen to Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, Steve Hayes or Fred Barnes discussing complex issues. Could anybody say that they are not intelligent? Would it be correct to say that they understand the opposing liberal position but just don't happen to agree with it? Now, try this. Can you imagine Charles Krauthammer being taken in by a bunch of bushy-bearded strangers claiming to be Orthodox rabbis ready hand him $5 million for taking a more balanced view on their effort to move the Dome of the Rock off the Temple Mount?
I think it goes beyond mere ideological myopia. The dirty little secret of liberalism is that its adherents aren’t really any smarter than anyone else. A parrot that has learned to articulate left-wing slogans is still just a parrot, even though his grammar and syntax might be superior to that of, say, Sarah Palin. In the same way, a liberal academic or policy wonk or politician doesn’t actually reason his way to an acceptance of the standard grab-bag of leftist nostrums; he simply imitates and repeats what he hears in the conventional ideological circles in which he has moved all his life.

This is not to suggest that liberals, as a group, are all certifiable morons (although some clearly are). It’s just that their cognitive process is inadequate to the task of objectively assessing reality. They are fantasists, stubbornly resisting the evidence of their own eyes and ears. The doctrine of socialism, for example, in all of its many variants, is the liberal version of the perpetual motion machine, a concept of perfect beauty and efficiency the materialization of which is always just around the corner. It is a worldview that, from a purely logical perspective, and based on more than a hundred years of empirical observation, is completely idiotic. Yet we have a president who posits the wisdom of socializing a substantial part of the U.S. economy through his health care legislation, and where is the single liberal politician, historian or news analyst who is capable of seeing the folly of such a plan? They can’t all be slack-jawed mouth-breathers, and many have impressive academic and career credentials. I won’t deny that mental obtuseness plays a role in certain individual cases, but there is something else afoot. Perpetual immaturity? Character flaws? The lazy avoidance of the rigors of ratiocination? A sociopathic desire to exert power over one’s fellows?

Who can say for sure? But whatever it is that makes liberals believe the things they do, it certainly isn’t superior intelligence.

From the shelves of the Paco library



In point of fact, today’s book is not from my library, but is, instead, a loaner from friend and commenter Nashville Beat. I’ve been wanting to read it ever since it was published, and now, having completed it, I can only shake my head at having deprived myself of the pleasure all these years.

Ghost Soldiers, by Hampton Sides, is the thrilling story of one of the most daring raids of WWII. The mission, however, was not to blow up a crucial ammo dump or storm a fortified town, but to rescue over 500 POWs held in a Japanese prison camp near the city of Cabanatuan in the Philippines (among the prisoners were the last remaining survivors of the Bataan Death March). As U.S. forces advanced in their retaking of the Philippines, the timing of the raid was crucial: the Japanese high command had issued a “kill all” order in the summer of 1944, which mandated the massacre of prisoners in camps located in areas from which the Japanese were compelled to withdraw.

At least one such massacre had already occurred, at the Puerto Princesa camp near Palawan, in December of 1944. The author skillfully unfolds the tale through the testimony of one of the very few men who managed to escape, U.S. Army PFC Eugene Nielson, who was picked up by Filipino guerillas and escorted to the American lines. The mass murder was an almost diabolical affair, with prisoners being herded into covered ditches under the pretense of an air raid. The Japanese guards poured gasoline into the trenches and set them alight. When they became aware of what was happening, as many POWs as could manage it broke for open ground, where they were machine-gunned or bayonetted. Some made it to a cliff where they scrambled down to the beach; however, Japanese guards were waiting for them there, too.

After Nielson briefed Army intelligence, the decision was made to launch a rescue attempt at the camp near Cabanatuan, where guerillas had informed the army that hundreds of prisoners were being held. A colorful and inspirational lieutenant colonel named Henry Mucci was put in charge of leading the raid. He was the commanding officer of the 6th Ranger Battalion, which had a very curious background: most of the men were former mule skinners who had been part of the 98th Field Artillery Battalion, Pack:
…the higher planners had decided that mules were an obsolete way of doing business for a modern, mechanized army. As was sometimes said of the sterile beasts of burden they led, the 98th had “no pride of ancestry, no hope of posterity.” The mules were sent to Burma, and the men, who in truth had grown tired of getting kicked and bitten and stepped on by their stubborn animals, happily awaited a new assignment. With a few clicks of a field typewriter inside a tent somewhere in New Guinea, the 98th was disbanded and the mule skinners became the 6th Ranger Battalion under the command of a perfect stranger named Henry Mucci, who aspired to mold them in less than a year into a sterling fighting force of jungle commandos.
And a fine job he made of it. The rescue, carried out on January 28, 1945 by a hundred Rangers and a like number of Filipino guerillas, was a spectacular success. The Japanese were caught completely off guard, and casualties among the Rangers and the Filipinos were few. All of the POWs were safely removed, save for an elderly and very deaf British civilian who, afflicted with chronic diarrhea, had settled down in an outhouse and didn’t hear a thing (he was picked up later by Filipinos).

Sides weaves the story of the raid, its planning and execution, together with the history of the American debacle in Bataan and Corregidor, the Death March, and the horrible conditions that the prisoners suffered during their internment, to present a comprehensive picture of the war in the Philippines. Along the way, we are introduced to numerous fascinating characters, not the least interesting of whom are some of the prisoners themselves. There is even a dance-hall owner, Claire Phillips, who charmed Japanese officers while spying for the Americans (Sides’ description of her activities reads very like noir fiction).

Anyone interested in the history of WWII, or in great escapes or in just plain good old-fashioned story-telling will enjoy this book.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Assortment

Moonbattery has a t-shirt “tribute” to Michael Moore.

Richard McEnroe has discovered a new contest that we will all want to enter.

And so it goes in Shreveport uncovers evidence that, when it comes to Gitmo, George Bush is playing mind-control games with Obama.

Trespasser, confronted by homeowner, locks himself in bathroom, dials 911, fearing that homeowner may own a gun.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin: nads the size of coconuts.

The Transportation Security Administration continues to demonstrate its kompetintz.

Ok, Smitty, I owe you one

This photo (and the context) made me laugh out loud.

Barack Obama: What kind of Democrat is he?

Garden variety liberal, or transformative statist? I’m with Jeff G. on this.

Jeff also links to this wise piece by Byron York. A sample:
What a change. Back in 1991, the pundits discussed how hard it would be to defeat a president with a job approval rating of 90 percent. Now, they're talking about how hard it would be to defeat a president with a job approval rating of 48 percent.

Back in the first Bush administration, some GOP strategists surveyed the struggling Democratic field and repeated the old axiom, "You can't beat somebody with nobody." Who could possibly have the stature to knock off President George H.W. Bush? Now, some of those same Republicans are fretting about the quality of their own presidential field and repeating the same slogan, this time not in overconfidence but in self-reproach. Maybe they've forgotten 1991.
Fortune favors the bold, folks. Now or never, do or die.

David Brooks becoming increasingly incoherent

Or, as the saying goes, dog bites man. Allah Pundit has an interesting post (including audio of Brooks vs. Laura Ingraham) that takes the NY Times columnist to task for his strange – one might even say tortured – devotion to President Obama, and his sniffish disdain for the Tea Party.

More and more, Brooks is starting to resemble a mother quail that is running in circles, dragging a wing in the dust in order to distract a predator from pouncing on its beloved chick. Or perhaps a more appropriate analogy is that of a rodeo clown. Either way, he is building quite a reputation for himself as a complete ass.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Obama continues his policy of insulting allies

I mean, this sure sounds like fightin' words to me :
Then Gillard asked the students if anybody had a question about Australia. An arm shot up: ''My family and I have been wondering for a little while: what is Vegemite?''

And thus the two world leaders spent the next couple of minutes riffing about Australia's iconic spread.

''It's horrible,'' Obama said.
Update: On the other hand, maybe he was provoked.


See something funny, Julia?

(H/T: R.C.)

Sucker!

A high muckety-muck (now an ex-high-muckety-muck) at NPR is captured on film (by the ever-enterprising James O'Keefe) spilling the beans.

Update: The whole thing leaves Claire Berlinski (sorta) speechless (H/T: Instapundit)

Now, that right there's brilliant

Smitty at The Other McCain has found a way to quickly and efficiently undo Obama Care:
Noting in a lot of blogs, most recently Cubachi, that the number of ObamaCare waivers (would the scolds frown less if we called it JehovaCare? Or am I only making it worse?) has topped a full thousand, I have an idea:

Have Speaker Boehner propose a one-liner bill:

All Americans are exempted from [the legislation unpopularly known as] ObamaCare.
Occam's razor, freshly stropped.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Monday Movie

Yeah, I know; it's still Sunday. But, once again, I'm going to be incommunicado for at least two days, perhaps longer, so I wanted to get this regular feature up.

Fred MacMurray’s first encounter with Barbara Stanwyck in the noir classic, Double Indemnity.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sunday funny

Trunk monkey - the compilation.

Name that beer!

President Obama has taken up home-brewing. He’s calling his suds “White House Honey Ale”. What do you think we ought to call it?


Ok, everybody, all together now...1.5 trillion bottles of beer on the wall, 1.5 trillion bottles of beer...take one down, pass it around, 1.499999999999 trillion bottles of beer on the wall...

CAIR takes another scalp

Fred Grandy, whose radio program I have listened to ever since I’ve lived in Northern Virginia, has been axed for talking about the threat posed by radical Islam.
Former U.S. Rep. Fred Grandy has been forced to walk away from his popular morning drive-time radio talk show in Washington after the station's management insisted he avoid discussions of radical Islam, sources close to Grandy say.

In recent months, Grandy invited Muslim activists on his morning show, "The Grandy Group," to debate the threat from the radical Muslim Brotherhood. He also hosted several U.S. security officials – including former CIA, FBI and Pentagon officials – who all warned the Brotherhood was infiltrating Washington through its U.S. front groups.

James Lafferty, chairman of the Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force, or VAST, a group that opposes the spread of radical Islam in America, blasted WMAL's management for "caving to the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) once again."
Islamic special privilege continues to leech into our culture, drop by corrosive drop.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Happy Feet Friday

Hoagy Carmichael sings Lazybones.

“Gun walking”

WTF, ATF?

More stupid from pelican neck

Update: Bad link fixed.

Michael Moore seems to believe that money comes from cash mines located on federal land, exploited illegally by rogue capitalists.


Starving prole demands bread.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Offline (What, again?!?)

I'll be traveling on business for a couple of days; therefore, it's open thread time!

So, what's as extinct as the great auk?



Update - Obama discovers "subterranean agenda" in conservative opposition to his administration.


"Dang! Who spilled the beans?"

Update II: The Australian carbon tax Downfall remix (H/T: RC).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jane Russell (Continued)

Stacy McCain has an interesting post on Jane Russell (she was a life-long Republican!), and Bob Belvedere has the photo tribute.

Stalin: just another misunderstood humanitarian

Tomasz Sommer and Marek Jan Chodakiewicz cast a skeptical eye on recent attempts to exonerate Stalin for his involvement in the Great Purge. And as you might expect, an American historian plays an important role.
A more sophisticated example of Stalinist apologetics came in 2009 when Yuza and Eksmo published Leonid Naumov’s ‘The Bloody Dwarf’ against the Leader of Nations: Yezhov’s Plot. Naumov considers the pro-Stalin historian J. Arch Getty, a UCLA history professor who has soft-pedaled the Great Terror for American audiences, to be his master. One of Getty’s more significant contributions to revisionism was the shifting of blame for the bloody purges from Stalin to Nikolai Yezhov, head of the NKVD in the mid-1930s. But this apparently didn’t go far enough, and Getty later exculpated Yezhov as well in a 2008 monograph published by Yale University Press (and coauthored with Oleg V. Naumov—apparently a distant relative of Leonid’s) called Stalin’s ‘Iron Fist’: The Times and Life of N. I. Yezhov, in which Getty and Naumov write, “Although it seems so from our liberal perspective, Yezhov’s cruelty was not in contradiction with the specific ideas of humanity and community he shared with his fellows.”
So, if Stalin wasn’t the real culprit in, er, Stalinism, who’s to blame?
No one. All the bloodletting was the function of impersonal forces of history.
Just one of those things, then, just one of those crazy things.


"Hey, you kids get off my lawn! And put Uncle Joe right-side up!"

Competing gun buybacks

The City of Austin, Texas held a gun buyback event, but some brilliant entrepreneurs outbid the police.

H/T: Jeff S.

John Edwards keeping low profile

Well, if I were facing an indictment, I probably would, too.

Priceless line in the article:
"We all just feel for him, no matter what he's done," Bill Smith, a chef at Crook's Corner, a frequent Edwards haunt, told the Times.