Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Full Decks

El Jefe has not been posting this week, restricting himself to occasional comments elsewhere, because he is rather buried at work. Blogging is not forgotten, however: El Jefe has a full list of targets that will be serviced as soon as time allows.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Dear Leader Visits the Troops

ITAR-TASS, the Russian news agency, reported yesterday that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il visited his troops for the sixth time in a month, on this latest occasion inspecting the 2nd Guards Infantry Division. (Hat tip: Tinpot Kim praised his soldiers' combat readiness, saying that one of his can lick hundreds of "his enemies" thanks to "intensive training." Okay Mr. Kim. Down here in the South, we used to say one Confederate could lick ten Yankees.
The Dear Leader apparently spent quite a lot of time on his insepcting, visiting a barracks, the canteen, warehouses, and personally interviewing soldiers on their living conditions, and posing for photographs. All laudable, but pretty useless unless it was a surprise visit.
Why is Dear Leader Kim visiting the troops so much ? ITAR-TASS says that "foreign experts" in Pyongyang believe Kim is doing it to provide moral support and to ensure his soldiers keep backing the leader. The personal touch to these visits: Kim's interviews with the troops, asking about their food, etc., etc. -- makes this plausible. Actually talking to the Dear Leader, son of the deified Great Leader, probably really is like speaking with God for North Korean peasant soldiers. But why ? Why does Kim need to make sure the troops are backing the leader ? Why do the troops need moral support ? Is something stirring in the Hermit Kingdom ?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Space Capsules, Pictures and Field Marshals

El Jefe is back from a trip with SWMBO and the Heir to Washington, D.C. SWMBO played tourist for awhile, but she needed to attend an accounting seminar part of the time, so Heir and El Jefe were left to their own devices for some of the time. Was so cool to go play tourist ! So as not to disappoint the locals, and undercut their feelings of superiority on their own turf, I made sure to go the whole turista monty: wearing loud clothing, including a hat with a Texas flag on it, spending lots of money on knick-knacks and gew-gaws I really don’t need, as well as burying my nose in my handy Frommer’s guidebook as necessary.

I have some experience in Washington, and thought that the city was both cleaner than I remembered it in the late 1980’s, and a whole lot more locked-down, no doubt due to 9/11. If you want to do the White House tour, or meet your Congressman, call and get reservations way in advance. No more FBI or Pentagon tours, at least for the present. Probably, on balance, a good thing, I have always thought it a trifle odd that the general public could go tramping through the FBI and Pentagon: places where serious people actually do real work, as distinguished from most of the politicos inhabiting that city.

The Heir and I did walk past the White House (very large, very white, lots of guards). Pennsylvania Avenue is still closed off right in front of the Executive Mansion, with semi-permanent barricades at each end. Big metal round things – which, as Heir and I discovered, are retractable if a vehicle needs to pass through. Pretty slick ! Several fruitcakes in the area, protesting one thing or another, but they looked pretty harmless.

The Heir was much impressed with the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, a place guaranteed to be of interest to boys of all ages, including El Jefe. Three real Apollo spacecraft in the place (Apollo 11, Skylab 4, and an un-flown capsule used as a test article), a real Lunar Module, Gemini and Mercury capsules, a Russian Soyuz, plus an SS-20 IRBM posed next to its counterpart, the US Pershing II. There were lots of planes: a DC-7 airliner, Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, a Dauntless dive-bomber, a F4F Wildcat Navy fighter -- miles and miles of fabulous stuff. The place was full of tourists, including brigades of earnest-looking Chinese with military haircuts and notebooks, who all seemed very interested in the space artifacts.

Spent some time in the National Gallery of Art (on the Mall, between 4th and 7th Streets, by the National Archives). It would be quite possible to spend days in any of these museums, so one needs to decide what to see. Fortunately, we visited the National Gallery the first day, when SWMBO could accompany us: and SWMBO and I have different tastes in art. SWMBO and Heir went elsewhere and left me alone with the objects of my interest: 18th and early 19th Century French and Spanish paintings. I spent most of my limited time in those galleries. The National Museum has a beautiful collection of paintings by the Spanish artist Francisco de Goya.

I spent a lot of time in front of Don Antonio Noriega (1801). Goya’s subject, King Charles IV’s Lord Treasurer, is a central-casting image of a wealthy, proud, arrogant Spanish Don of the 18th-19th Centuries: splendidly elaborate uniform, paunchy, expression somewhere between dignified, humourless and petulant, with a dash of irritation thrown in. Rouged cheeks, court wig just so, chestful of medals and orders of one type or another. Don Antonio looks terribly pleased with himself, and utterly unconvinced of anybody’s importance save his own.

Another interesting Goya is Victor Guye (1810), a six or seven year old page to King Joseph I, the Bonaparte king of Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. Victor Guye was the nephew of one of King Joseph, and Napoleon’s, generals, Baron Nicolas Phillipe Guye – evidently there is a companion portrait of Baron Guye someplace -- both pictures were commissioned from Goya by Baron Guye for his brother, Victor’s father. Apparently Goya got on well with everybody, because a few spots down from Victor Guye is a painting of the Duke of Wellington, great British adversary of the House of Bonaparte. The most arresting feature of Goya’s view of the Iron Duke was his portrayal of the Duke's eyes: Wellington has the thousand-yard stare. Unfortunately, the image I have linked to doesn’t do Goya's portrayal of the coldness of his eyes justice. Not a man I’d want to cross. A hard, hard man. A great general.

Just adjacent to the Goyas are my favorite works, French neo-classical/romantic paintings of the late 18th/early 19th centuries. Naturally, I spent a long, long time in front of Jacques-Louis David’s picture The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries. Attentive readers and persons who know El Jefe have probably figured out by now that I am just a bit of a Bonapartist, and this particular painting is one of the holy of holies in the Napoleonic art firmament. Virtually no illustrated biography of the Emperor is without this picture.
The artist described the portrait thus: "He [Napoleon] is in his study. . . . The candles flickering and the clock striking four remind him that the day is about to break. . . . He rises. . . to pass his troops in review." Napoleon is attired in his favorite uniform of a colonel of the Foot Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard (his own regiment), next to him is a chair with the symbol of his dynasty: the bees that replaced the fleur-de-lys of the Bourbon kings. A copy of Plutarch conveys the Emperor’s resemblance, both as soldier and lawgiver, to Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar and the other great figures of Roman history; scrolls of his great legal and legislative achievement, the Code Napoleon are in the chair.

The Emperor is not, however, a snappy dresser: note the unbuttoned cuff (pointed out to El Jefe by the Smithsonian's guard); as well as the somewhat mussed hair.

Could spend all day on these paintings (and in a letter I’m preparing for a friend, and in my personal journal, I probably will dwell on all of them at length), but I will comment here on only two others. In the same room with Napoleon is another work, identified as being painted by somebody “in the circle of Jacques-Louis David” called “Portrait of a Young Woman in White” (1798). Quelle-belle demoiselle ! A gorgeous woman, in a rather low-cut, almost sheer white dress, probably a somewhat risqué subject for a painting in 1798 (but the period between the fall of the kings, in 1792, and the rise of Napoleon in 1799 was pretty risqué). The facial expression is interesting, a beautiful mouth, and expressive eyes, (if an overlarge nose) but an exceedingly bored expression.

Look at Portrait of a Young Woman and then walk right across the room and have a look at David’s portrait of Madame David (his wife) (1813). Fifteen years and a social revolution separate these two paintings. If Young Woman was a bit avant-garde for its day, Madame David illustrates a representative of well-off, proper, establishment French society. The Napoleonic regime looked down on the loosening of public morals produced by the revolution, and to some degree successfully imposed or re-imposed bourgeois social values. One big secret of the French Revolution was that the revolutionaries, and beneficiaries of the revolution like Napoleon didn’t want to overthrow the kings and royalty so much as replace them. The liberals became conservatives once they had power.

I was dragged out of the National Gallery of Art after a time, and we moved on to the Museum of American History. A beautiful collection there, but I have never liked the Museum of American History’s building much. I like the 19th and early 20th Century Gilded Age government buildings in Washington, all columns and domes and granite. The Museum of American History, like most new government buildings in Washington, like our Federal Courthouse here in Houston, is post World War II and thus boring.

If the American History museum is housed in a boring looking building, the same cannot be said of its contents. Again, you have to choose what you want to see, and the Heir and I focused on the sections devoted to the American presidents and to American wars. Highlights of the American History museum included a piece of armour plate off the C.S.S. Virginia, and the Field-Marshal’s baton of the German World War II era Generalfeldmarshall Werner von Blomberg (1878-1946), who was Hitler’s Minister of War from 1933-38. Field-Marshal von Blomberg had, in retrospect, the great good fortune to be forced out of his official positions in a juicy little scandal prior to the war. Generalfeldmarshall vonBlomberg's baton is a garish thing, grey leather, with brass ends; with lots of Iron Crosses, Eagles and Swastikas all over it. von Blomberg's name, and the date the baton was conferred, are on a white band at the bottom (von Blomberg was the first of Hitler's Field-Marshals).

I have more to say, saw lots more cool stuff, but El Jefe is running out of gas. The sandman is calling…hopefully with a bottle of brandy, a cigar and one of El Jefe’s Marilyn Monroe look-a-like mistresses from the Dream Palace. Perhaps more tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving

El Jefe has returned, in a better frame of mind. More about his trip after Thanksgiving.
Today, sitting round the tables with our families, it is an appropriate time for us all to reflect on God's blessings and favors to ourselves and our families, and to ask for his continued protection and favor to us, our families and our country.
All sorts of serious news to comment on, but that awaits a later time also. Gravest of all, of course, is the news that Jessica Simpson and her Boy Toy have split. (Hat tips: T, plus Drudge/Us Magazine). Shocker ! A Hollywood split ! Who'd a thunk it ?

Friday, November 18, 2005

That Dark Star Again

All sorts of things worthy of attention, including a pusillanimous resolution on Iraq in the Senate. However, I am still in somewhat of a funk, and not really in the mood to blog. It's about all I can do for the moment just to work. From tomorrow, I am away for a few days, so hopefully El Jefe's morale improves.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Is that all ?

AP says that the US government has detained 83,000 "foreigners" in the past four years of the War on Terror ? So few ? By all means, let innocent persons caught up in the net go, if we can figure out who they are, but we can keep the Al Qaeda, Taliban and the hard-core Baathists in Iraq till they rot as far as I'm concerned.
Here's to the next 83,000.

Your Name Here

The Texas town of Clark, near Fort Worth, has renamed itself “DISH” to get ten years of free satellite television service from The Dish Network. The town’s hundred or so residents get free basic service and a free digital video recorder/satellite receiver.
One hopes that the Dish Network throws in couches for all the new potatoes. Dish, Texas joins the proud ranks of places and institutions that prostitute their names and pasts for a mess of pottage. Formerly this pernicious practice was mostly restricted to stadiums and games: “Vitalis Sun Bowl,” the “SBC Cotton Bowl,” the “Nokia Sugar Bowl,” “Minute Maid Park.”

Yes, yes, I'd like free satellite TV too. But where does it stop ? Why don’t we just do this with whole states ? The country even ? I think they're already doing it with planets and stars -- seems like I've read about outfits which purport to be able to sell buyers rights to name particular stars. Will “Microsoft Texas” get us all free Windows upgrades ? Then again, maybe I could quit my day job if I renamed this blog the "Kingdom of Hooters."
It would be priceless if the Dish Network turned right round and sold the naming rights. How about "Home Shopping Channel, Texas ?" "Al Jazzera, Texas ?" Or maybe "Penthouse, Texas ?"

No escape from popular culture. Surrounded by plebeians. Enough to drive you wacko.

Under a Dark Star

El Jefe is usually certain that he is Felix – fortunate, one of Fortune’s Favorite’s in fact. Okay, not real prepossessing looking, not a rocket scientist, or mega millionaire, or a rock star, but life has generally made up for this in other ways. El Jefe has a good life and is usually certain that the Big Guy Upstairs, or whatever underling he has deputized to watch over the operations of Gang Bosses like El Jefe -- takes care of things.

No doubt, in the Big Picture view of things, he does, but recent events, some frightening, some inconvenient, some depressing, (fortunately, none serious in the earthshaking, life or death REALLY UNLUCKY sense), combined with a serious case of Writer's Block have made even El Jefe wonder whether he is under a Dark Star, yea, whether Fortune, as it did to Great Caesar on that very Bad Day in Pompey’s Curia, has deserted him. Dark Star, Big Cloud, Bad Mojo, whatever.
No doubt Gaius Julius Caesar Dictator, could El Jefe but ask him, would know the appropriate sacrifice to propriate the Gods: that which would make Fortuna Primigenia turn her beneficent gaze once more on the world of El Jefe and his friends, family and enterprises. But alas, Gaius Julius is long gone, except to an old friend's Ouija board, and in any case, we live in a more “civilized” time. In any case, events over the past couple of days make El Jefe even more certain that he won’t be sorry to see the back of 2005.

Monday, November 14, 2005

On the Public Service

Patriae Inserviendo Consumor (“I am consumed in the service of my Fatherland”)
Motto of Prince Otto von Bismarck
The BBC reports today that California Governor Ahh…nold Schwarzenegger has received a rapturous welcome from hundreds of adoring Chinese fans, and that the police had to rescue the Governor from friendly crowds in Beijing

Governor Schwarzenegger is in China on several errands: promotional events for the Special Olympics, and conversations with Chinese political and business leaders on, inter alia, trade between China and California, and intellectual property theft, a subject near and dear to the hearts of movers and shakers in California.

I am glad to see people giving the Governor such a warm welcome. No doubt he needed it after his State’s voters decisively rejected his reform proposals last week.

I make jokes about everything – but my tasteless quips about Ahh…nold aside, I quite admire the man. Were it legal, I wouldn’t mind Governor Schwarzenegger being President Schwarzenegger, and that’s a hell of a concession for me to make to a person of foreign birth. I don’t agree with the Terminator about a lot of things, but everything he has gotten in this life, he has most assuredly earned.

But this is true of many people. What is most admirable to me about Governor Schwarzenegger is that he does not have to be Governor – does not need it, but just does the job anyway. Ahh..nold is famous almost beyond imagining, has instant entrée in the most important social and political circles in this country and Europe, has a gorgeous wife, four children, more money than he could ever spend – and he still puts up with being Governor. Certainly, there is an element of vanity in it: perhaps even the predominant element, but this is present in all politicians and leaders. However, ambition is often laudable: this man could have an easier life, but he is, to a degree, sacrificing his ease to the public service.

Governor Schwarzenegger could tell the people of California to take their job and shove it, and, after last week, most people of sense could understand him doing so, and would sympathize. Yet there he is this week, in China, doing California’s business. Yes, yes, to some degree it’s a junket, and he gets the adulation of the crowd, gets to meet big-shots, eat at their banquets and engage in interesting repartee. He also gets to spend his evenings with briefing books, staffers who know too much, and the telephone; all so he can receive gratuitous advice from lobbyists, experts and fixers who need him to do something in China, and whom are all certain they know more than some pretty-boy actor. Oh yes, also letters from lunatics, insults from cranks and wrangling with legislators. All this as head of the minority party in his state, which is chock-full of ingrates and rivals and believers in a free lunch.

Nobody will thank Ahh….nold, but he shows up for work anyway. Good on you, sir. Patriae Inserviendo Consumor.

Have You Ever ?

I do love questionnaires and surveys. Somebody e-mailed me this one...

Have you ever...

smoked a cigarette ? yes
smoked a cigar ? yes
crashed a friend's car ? yes
crashed your car ? yes
stolen a car ? no
been in love ? yes
been dumped ? yes
been in a fist-fight ? yes
had feelings for someone who didn't have them back ? yes
been arrested ? no
been hunting ? yes
gone on a blind date ? no
stolen a kiss ? no
had a crush on a teacher ? yes
written a love letter ? yes
skipped school ? yes
gotten a raise ? yes
played hooky from work ? yes
been on a plane ? yes
been on a boat ? yes
been on a ship ? yes
thrown up in a bar ? no
been a crime victim ? yes
taken painkillers ? yes
laid on your back and watched clouds go by ? yes
made a snow angel ? no
played dress up ? no (cept for parties and Halloween)
cheated while playing a game ? yes (only cheat codes in video games)
fallen asleep at work/school ? yes
kept a diary ? yes
felt an earthquake ? no
seen a volcano ? no
been in a hurricane ? no
touched a snake ? yes
owned a gun ? yes
run a red light ? yes
been suspended from school ? no
had detention ? no
been in a car accident ? yes
hated the way you look ? always
witnessed a crime ? no
square danced ? yes
pole danced ? no
questioned your heart ? yes
been lost ? yes
been to the opposite side of the country ? yes
cried yourself to sleep ? no
played cops and robbers ? yes
sung karaoke ? yes
done something you told yourself you wouldn't ? yes
done something you told yourself you shouldn’t ? yes
done something you told yourself you couldn’t ? yes
laughed till some kind of beverage came out of your nose ? yes
caught a snowflake on your tongue ? yes
sung in the shower ? yes
been married ? yes
been separated ? no
been divorced ? no
had a dream that you married someone ? yes
glued your hand to something ? no
worn the opposite sex's clothes ? no
been a cheerleader ? no
sat on a roof top ? yes
didn't take a shower for a week ? no
played chicken ? no
driven while intoxicated ? yes
been pushed into a pool with all your clothes on ? yes
been told you're hot by a complete stranger ? no
broken a bone ? yes
been easily amused ? yes
shown poor judgment about people ? often
laughed so hard you cried ? no
cried so hard you laughed ? no
mooned/flashed someone ? no
forgotten someone's name ? yes
slept naked ? yes
gone skinny dipping in a pool ? yes
gone skinny dipping in a pond/lake ? yes
been kicked out of your house ? no
blacked-out from drinking ? no
played a prank on someone ? yes
gone to a late night movie ? yes

Friday, November 11, 2005


(An annual post)

Have you forgotten yet ?
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz – The nights you watched and wired and dug...?

Do you ever stop and ask, ‘Is it all going to happen again ?’ . . .

Have you forgotten yet ?...

Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget.

Siegfried Sassoon “Aftermath, March 1919.”

Today is Veterans Day in America. Because the calendar is crowded with holidays, Veterans Day replaced an older holiday, known as Armistice Day, which commemorated the end of the First World War, surely the most needless, tragic, but consequential war of modern times. Canada, Australia and the other British Commonwealth nations, very appropriately, call today “Remembrance Day” which is how I prefer to think of it. World War I is ancient history to most of us, yet it is with us, always. Pause, friend, for a moment, wherever you are, and remember.

When historians look back upon our times, they will probably agree that the 21st Century really began on 11 September 2001. Similarly, Gavrilo Princip, a 19-year old Serbian revolutionary bandit, member of a terrorist organization called the Black Hand, the al Qaeda of its time, effectively began the 20th Century about 11:15 a.m. on 28 June 1914 when he murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, and his wife, Archduchess Sophie, by a bridge in Sarajevo, in what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Ninety years later, Sarajevo was the scene of more violence, this time between Serbs, Croats, and Muslims, quarreling over the make-up of the post-Cold War Balkans. The 20th Century thus ended where and as it begin, in Sarajevo, in blood, with another war that nobody would win.

The 1990’s violence in the former Yugoslavia, like almost everything else in modern times, stemmed from the war that Princip helped begin. Over 10 million dead bodies later, the war he and a baker’s dozen of incompetents started ended today, in 1918.

Officially ended, anyway. How can an atrocity like the First World War ever truly end ? Fought over nothing, ending in no victory for anyone, except political cranks, demagogic ideologues and other fanatics. The First World War, besides murdering millions, destroyed ancient Christian kingdoms, and killed the faith of the peoples in their civilization, in their leaders, in progress, parliamentary institutions, science and religion, and left us instead the poison fruits of Communism, Nazism, and Socialism and all the other “isms” you can possibly ever think of. The road to Auschwitz, Hitler and Stalin runs straight from the murder scene in Sarajevo. The Second World War killed more, in raw numbers, than the First – but the later war was only a continuation made possible by the poisons unleashed in the first war.

Satan had a good day in Sarajevo in June 1914. If not for the murderer Princip, and the clumsy diplomats and generals who blundered Europe and the world into a war everyone lost, whoever would have heard of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler or Mussolini ? Lenin would have rotted away in exile with his books and scribblings; Hitler no doubt would have died in deserved obscurity in some Vienna doss-house. Stalin would have met the inevitable fate of a bank robber; and Mussolini perhaps never left journalism. No collapse of the British Empire forcing America onto the world stage to redress the balance. No Great Depression, no Nazis, no World War II or Holocaust, no Cold War. Maybe no collapse of the Ottoman Empire giving us, ultimately, Bin-Laden, Zarqawi, Arafat and suicide bombers.

But Gavrilo Princip fired his fatal bullets, and the whole edifice of civilization crumpled before them. The shots of Sarajevo echo still. Gentle reader, think today of his crime, and of all whom, unknowing, ultimately paid. Because of the shots in Sarajevo, men who had no reason to hate each other fought and murdered each other all over the world in job lots -- in the fields of Champagne, on the roads of Poland and in the snows of Russia, in Iraq and in China. Children died in the cold Atlantic and starved by the million in Russia, the mountains of Armenia and the Balkans. Sleepy eastern Europe, so long a quiet agricultural backwater, twice in fifty years was turned into an abattoir. Americans died in the Argonne and, thirty years later, in the Pacific and in the deserts of Africa; later in the jungles of Vietnam; and today US Marines are dying in Fallujah, Baghdad and in the hills of Afghanistan, all in some way because of, or related to the acres of warehouses of cans of worms opened by Princip.

Besides killing, maiming and wounding millions, the war had other, more insidious effects, as we have seen just this week. Most fatally, Europe lost confidence in its leaders, in science, in the Christian religion – in itself -- at some level even in its right to exist as a culture. Today we see France, mulcted by its sacrifice of so much blood and treasure in the first half of the 20th Century, hesitant to even criticize, much less repress, barbarian rioters in its midst, and even willing to pay them to be quiet. Germany and Russia, gravely wounded in both body and soul, led the turn away from God, progress, law and civilization, and burned books and millions of their own citizens. Britain, mother of Parliaments and the law, crippled and bankrupted by that war and its continuation, abandoned its Empire, is ashamed of its past, and its political class today quivers in fear of criticism by modernity's ascendant barbarians.

Today in 1918 -- on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh month, of the eleventh day – the first war ended, and the killing took a little break. Think of all war dead today, dear reader. But, almost 100 years on, spare a thought for a moment or two for all the dead of the Great War, so pointless, so long ago, but so horribly, tragically important.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Early this morning, I had an interesting conversation of sorts with an old, old friend. We have not spoken in over a year. I’ve known L since junior high school, or middle school as they call it now. My family played the moving game several times during school years, so L is, or was, about the oldest friend I had.

Unfortunately, alongside friendship and growing up and families and all the rest of existence, there’s politics. L and I certainly never had politics in common, but up until rather recently, that never seemed to matter too much. However, the last presidential election evidently was too much, and L dropped me; an event, which, quite frankly, cut me pretty deeply, and still does. It never even entered my mind that this might happen one day, particularly over something as silly as politics.

Oh yes, I was talking about a conversation. Anyway, L called me. I can’t really tell you what the talk was about, or even exactly what was said, except that we talked for a long time about families and places and old times, and people we both know. I turned around to grab something…and found myself looking at my cat (who was lying right there on the bed with me, looking at my face, apparently deeply concerned), and the bright red numbers on the alarm clock.

The whole episode had been a dream. I had evidently gotten up, turned off the alarm, and fallen back asleep. An extremely real dream: I mean, that conversation seemed REAL to me. I do not generally have dreams like that, quite so vivid or about persons of importance to me so I suppose on some level I must have needed that “contact” even if it was only with chemical and electrical processes in my own head. I immediately thanked God for the opportunity to talk once more to my, I suppose, ex-friend, even if only to an image in my head.

Happy Birthday Marines

Today is the 230th anniversary of the founding of the US Marine Corps, an institution just over six months older than the country it protects. I was going to write my own more elaborate happy birthday, but Mackubin Thomas Owens's over at National Review Online really cannot be bettered, and I commend it to your attention.
I'll just say Happy Birthday USMC, and thank you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005


Now that the elections are over, expect the Left (both the Democrat politicians and Big Media) to drop the mask of objectivity and friendliness towards Judge Alito. The gloves will really come off, from today forward.

Schemes Postponed

"Annapolis, Annapolis! Oh, yes, Annapolis must be defended; to be sure, Annapolis should be defended - where is Annapolis?"
Thomas, Duke of Newcastle (1693-1768).
Still have, inter alia, the Iranians on my mind. I haven't forgotten about my promised plan to singe the Mullahs' beards. The plan is in my head, and will appear soon. But I want to do a better job than the Duke of Newcastle. Between El Jefe's day job, engagements these past several evenings, and some other matters, I have not had a chance to give it the attention it deserves, in the form of some additional research on a couple of points, and writing it down. But it's coming.
"A man, a plan, a canal..." No wait, that was another guy, another story.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Good Morning...

All is well in the world of El Jefe. I snooze in the comfy chair on the lawn of my Autumn Palace, in the Misty Mountains above Ciudad El Jefe, empty Cosmo glass on the table next to me, along with the ashtray bearing my dead cigar, and the plate with little bits of Gruyere cheese. The grounds are patrolled by a full regiment of El Jefe’s elite goombas, his personal guard, vigilantly watching over the sleeping Maximum Leader, all wearing their authentic 1920’s ice-cream suits, and carrying their genuine M 1928 Thompsons.

El Jefe’s loyal major domo/butler/fixer, Fritz, complete with monocle, has El Jefe’s next Cosmo ready when he wants it, along with all the Yankee papers and his breakfast, and will handle the phone if that insipid fool King Jacques calls for more advice.

Meanwhile, the protection money (er, taxes), flows into El Jefe’s treasury, the peasants are happily at work in their fields; the five different departments of Secret Police are all busy routing out the (fortunately few) depraved enemies of the Beloved Boss of Bosses. The factories are humming, the shops are full, the streets bustling, corporate profits obscene. Sunny skies, good pollution. At the Gas Station (corner of Avenue El and Jefe Street), super-unleaded (“Sky Jefe”) at the full-service pump is $.50 per gallon.

Someone is shaking my shoulder….is it El Jefe’s Principal Mistress, Marilyn Monroe, the Love Blonde…no, no NO….

Alas, the alarm clock, jerking El Jefe back to the all too mundane reality of working for a living. I’m working on an ERISA brief at work…deadly boring stuff. King Jacques needs to clap his rioters in a dungeon, make them read ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code to each other aloud…guaranteed to kill with sheer boredom almost instantly.

Speaking of the French, their cabinet seems to have at last gotten off the dime and declared a “state of emergency” under an old law dating from the Algerian War in the 1950’s. The rioters seem to be tiring: hopefully this is the case, because the police must be near utter exhaustion. On the subject of the French riots, be sure to read Theodore Dalrymple’s excellent article from City Journal in Autumn 2002 -- “The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris” (only recently brought to my attention) – which may be found via Real Clear Politics (link in the sidebar) or here.

Also worth reading: Carlos Alberto Montaner’s excellent little piece in Real Clear Politics on the silly Summit of the Americas. “Anti-Americanism Has Become Ideology.” The money quotes: “The Left today is nothing but circus and street violence” and “Latin America is the continent of the future and always will be.” You can find that one here.
Finally, go to Rush Limbaugh's site and check out the idea Rush has for President Saddam's legal defense team. Saddam's lawyers need to put Rush on the payroll, pronto. Rush has a whole speech written, built around the theme: "Bush lied and I want my country back !"

Elections today all over the US. To El Jefe the most interesting contest today involves the fate of four proposals by California Governor Ahhh…nold Schwarzenegger, in particular a campaign finance provision that would prevent labor unions from automatically using member dues for political activities unless they have the member’s consent; and another proposal limiting State spending.
Governor Schwarznegger’s proposals seem wise to me, and I assume the merit of them would be readily apparent to anybody who is not a raving lunatic. Evidently, not to the voters of nearly broke California – the Governor’s whole package seems headed for defeat. If I were the Governor, I’d resign if this happened. You can’t help drowning people who won’t swim.

Monday, November 7, 2005

Asprins for Cancer, Paying Danegeld

Despite riots in cities all over France, the best the government can come up with is curfews twelve days after they started, and the belated mobilization of 1,500 police reservists, to reinforce 8,000 or so police, Gendarmes, and CRS (the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité -- riot police). No, wait, the cabinet is going to consider the curfew measure Tuesday. Meanwhile, while the clerks arrange the fountain pens in the cabinet room and order the refreshments, 1,400 vehicles were torched Monday night. Asked whether the Army should reinforce the hard-pressed police, Prime Minister deVillespin says that "we are not at that point."

King Jacques Chirac XVI, from his throne-room in the Elysee Palace, says the chaos is all society's fault, that the poor Muslims are running riot because France "has not done everything possible for these youths, supported them so they feel understood, heard and respected." Evidently the "youths" (can't say Muslim, now can we ?) are all too audible at present to the Government of the French Republic. Prime Minister deVillepin is promising that a $35 billion re-development plan for the inner cities will be sped up, along with jobs and training programs, plus merit scholarships.

What planet are these people on ? We're going into the twelfth night of riots in 275 or so towns and cities all over France. The cops are being fired on. They -- and their comrades in the sapeurs-pompiers (the fire department) -- have to be completely exhausted. The government should have used the Army to back up the police and give them some rest a week ago. Meanwhile, you've got the President saying the rioters have legitimate grievances, and the Prime Minister offering to pay them $35 billion and give the scumbags jobs and scholarships. Gee, what will the rioters get if they burn down all Paris ? Keys to Versailles, free cars, a year's free wine and all-expenses-paid vacations ?

What will King Jacques and his idiot Prime Minister do when the police stop showing up for work, and in this and other ways begin demonstrating a lack of interest in risking maiming and death on behalf of politicians willing to pay off the people shooting and stoning them ? The forces of order have been working at riot control for coming up on two weeks, without thanks, relief or much success, and the breaking point has to be approaching pretty quick. When the police crack, there will be nothing left but to hand the whole job to the Army -- and however good the soldiers might be at backing up the police, I beg leave to wonder how good they'll be replacing them entirely. It's going to be a bloody mess, but King Jacques better hope the troops are willing to shoot.

Every night this goes on, the credibility of the mainstream politicians in France is diminished. This applies to Gaullists as well as Socialists. The French elite is committing suicide. Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin are handing France over to LePen and to the National Front.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

The French Riots

Be sure to read the always prescient and often funny Mark Steyn's very un-funny piece in the Chicago Sun Times today about the opening of the "Eurabian" civil war in France. Among other things, Mr. Steyn points out what a joke it is that the mainstream press keeps calling the rioting scum "French youths." Yeah, right. As Mr. Steyn tells us, the rioters may be technically citizens of the French Republic, but the cars aren't being torched by "Pierre and Jacques and Marcel and Alphonse" out for a night's burning and looting before heading to church.
The French identity has always been one size fits all, something about the French political worldview that I have always deeply admired. The French have absolutely refused to promote "multiculturalism" in the American sense. Instead, the French have always believed in "republican integration" -- when Abdul or Mohammad or whoever go to school in France, they do not receive the happy talk or education in "diversity" that passes for historical education in the United States today. They learn about the Gauls, Joan of Arc, Napoleon and deGaulle. In the eyes of the law, there are no distinctions between Abdul and Pierre.

But the French have let themselves down. Another component of the French approach to the world, since the suppression of the Commune in 1871, has always been "republican legality," which, among other things, includes a complete refusal to counternance violent troublemakers of any kind, for any reason. However, this has been slipping of late. As Mr. Steyn points out: "For half a decade, French Arabs have been carrying on a low-level intifada against synagogues, kosher butchers, Jewish schools, etc. The concern of the political class has been to prevent the spread of these attacks to targets of more, ah, general interest. They seem to have lost that battle." Boy and how ! Mr. Steyn describes these rioters firing on the Gendarmerie, burning down buildings and disrupting commuter trains. We've seen the photographs of torched cars all over our newspapers. Meanwhile, President Chirac, presumably from a padded cell, calls for a "spirit of dialogue and respect."
What could be more illuminating ? Scumbag rioters are shooting at your police and you're calling for "dialogue and respect ?" The reason police are being fired at and buildings burned is because the French have refused to respond to Mr. Steyn's "low level intifada." No wonder the rioters have complete contempt for the government. If I were Chirac, the only calling I'd be doing would be to the police and army barracks to order the issuance of live ammunition. We could talk about "dialogue and respect" when the rioters were dead or jailed.
"Weakness and forbearance" when confronted with violence, yet again. (See last post). The French might as well just skip "multiculturalism" and go straight to state subsidized mosques, the shariah and compulsory veils for women. "Republican integration" will not work without "republican legality" -- without strict law and order. The French are now in a battle, and not in a situation calling for "dialogue and respect." Are they going to fight, or not ?
ADDENDUM: (Sunday p.m.). The present state of affairs in France, in general, makes me want to weep. I've been a Francophile all my life. This is la grande nation ? DeGaulle, Napoleon I, Napoleon III, Louis XIV, Gambetta, Clemenceau, St. Joan, Joffre, Foch, Petain (the WWI version) -- all spinning in their graves. To think the response to the present crisis is by the Gaullist party -- what passes for a right wing in mainstream French politics. Are they not still the men of Austerlitz ? The French were the people who survived Verdun and won the First World War ?

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Restless Rabble and Futile Trips

He was amazed by so much weakness and forbearance. And when the King showed himself at one of the windows overlooking the garden wearing the red cap that a commoner had put on him, Buonaparte's indignation knew no bounds "Che coglione ! Why did they ever let that rabble in ? They should have blasted four or five hundred with cannon and the rest would have taken to their heels. . . If I were king things like that would not happen."

L.A.F. deBourrienne, sometime private secretary to and friend of Napoleon I on Napoleon's comments on Louis XVI's reaction to the revolutionary mob that stormed his palace.

President Bush is in Mar del Plata, Argentina, for the “Summit of the Americas.” Precisely why our President has hied himself off to Argentina is anybody's guess. Multilateral summits in Latin America, where the leadership class despises us, are of no utility to us whatever. For some reason, President Bush wishes to breathe the same air as mobs of scummy rioters and the politicians of a continent that never fails to applaud a statist solution to any economic problem.
The leftists, led by Moonbat Chavez, are busy doing their usual lefty thing, skipping baths, burning and pillaging, and swilling themselves senseless. Just like the rabble rioting all over France whom French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy rightly called scum. (An aside: poor Prime Minister deVillepin is clearly cut more from the cloth of Louis XVI, than from Napoleon I, whom he professes to admire: deVillepin rebuked the Interior Minister for his comment). M. deVillepin and the President of Argentina need to call in their generals and put an end to the nonsense.
Meanwhile, I return to my original question. Why is our President in Argentina ? I wish President Bush would go to Baghdad, where he is needed and would be welcomed, and visit the troops. Let him take satchels of medals and promotions and visit the troops all over the country. Spend a week there. Yes, the security poodles would get heart palpitations, but one of the privileges of being President is the power to tell them to shut up. The President is commander in chief and should act like it. A visit to the soldiers in the field would be good for the military's morale, and for his own. No lawyers or idiot lobbyists, yammering lefties, or statesmen who say yes and mean no: just serious young people doing necessary work for which they don't get near enough credit.
Fire up Air Force One, Mr. President, and leave that place. Go do something useful.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Moonbat Watch: Jimmy Carter and Iraq

Former US President Jimmy Carter added his penny's worth of comment to the chorus of Left wing criticism of the war in Iraq, calling the Second Gulf War "ill-advised and unjust and unnecessary."

"Ill-advised" and "unnecessary" are certainly debatable and defensible positions on the American effort in Iraq. I happen to completely disagree with former President Carter on both counts, but these positions can be respectably argued, preferably after the war's conclusion.

But unjust ?

A little truth in blogging here. El Jefe doesn't bother with all the hair-splitting of "just war" theory. St. Augustine and others have had plenty to say on this subject, all very erudite and well-considered. Whatever. Like the Romans of the Republican era, El Jefe considers a "just war" any war we happen to be in, no matter who starts it, no matter what it's about; and that the only moral conclusion to war is with our complete victory, and the enemy's destruction or submission, however long it takes and whatever it costs.

I'm fully aware others do not subscribe to this view, but how in the world can our liberation of Iraq be "unjust" even to President Carter ? What does he want ? "Bush lied and thousands died !" the liberals bleat. Would President Carter, Senator Kennedy and Ms. Sheehan be happy if we just pulled out the troops and leave anarchy behind ? Reward the suicide bombers and civilian-beheaders ? How many thousands, who have joined the new Iraqi Army, voted in elections, or supported the new government, will die then ?

The liberals clearly pine for the re-enactment of their finest hour, the American abandonment, at their behest, of South Vietnam. The bloodbath that followed that debacle was no concern of theirs. What would St. Augustine, or anybody privileged to be born in normal times before the world media or the existence of the modern internationalized, deracinated chattering classes, make of a craven, dirty crew who long for the defeat of their own country ?

Maybe we should just let Saddam out of his cell and make him dictator again, so he can go back to throwing people beneath wood-chip cutters.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Iranian Front

We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization and for the uprooting of the Americans and the English. The global infidel front is a front against Allah and the Muslims, and we must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles. There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them.

Hassan Abbassi, Chief of External National Security Planning for the Revolutionary Guards Corps; advisor to Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, and to Iranian “Supreme Guide” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, May 2004.

Friends, the mullah regime in Iran not only wants a bomb, it wants to bomb our country flat, wreck our world order and drink our blood. Have a look at the Baron's recent post on this subject over at Gates of Vienna, here; Doctor Zin's post over at Regime Change Iran, here; and, Michael Ledeen at National Review Online here. Read up, also, on so-called President Ahmadinejad's speech at the World Anti-Zionism conference, and check out that body's chilling poster (at Regime Change Iran), and the revolting conference website (I'll leave you to look that one up on your own).

These people are not kidding around, but this shouldn't be a surprise if you've been paying attention. The Iranian regime is squandering its oil revenues arming to the teeth as fast as it can; it is providing aid, comfort and shelter to wanted Al Qaeda terrorists, and it is killing US and Iraqi soldiers in Iraq.

The two things the mullah regime has going for it is the seeming refusal of most of the American public, much less that of Europe, to take its pretentions seriously; and the sometimes overt, mostly covert wish-dream of the elites of much of the rest of the world for a planet without the pesky Americans, their money and their military around to be so constantly bossy.

The problem is not Iranian nuclear weapons. Iran is going to have nuclear weapons, one way or another. It is rich enough to afford them, has or can build the technological base to construct them, and all factions in the country want them for reasons of prestige. The problem is that Iran is presently led by barbarians who are dangerous both to their own people, to their region, and to the whole world. Such a regime cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. The solution is to bring down the regime.

This is possible, I think, without the use of US troops. The regime has a narrow domestic base, and serious economic problems, not to mention regional enemies. I have some definite ideas on how to give the criminals in Tehran a good push, about which I will have more to say soon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Operational Pause

All sorts of things going on, some of them personal. Not feeling much up to blogging at present -- a focus issue. Will resume again when this changes, hopefully soon.