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Sorry, National Review, Jane Eyre Really Is Awful


Wednesday, at National Review Online, Jessica Hornik Evans wrote about a conversation she overheard in a bookstore in (where else?) Portland, Oregon*, about all the racism and toxic masculinity in Jane Eyre.

Jane Eyre isn’t racist or toxically masculine (or any other kind of masculine), but it is a dumb book.

(Spoilers ahead, but you should thank me for spoiling it.)

Almost every character in it is insane. The only exceptions are a couple of maids and Jane’s devoutly Christian boarding school roommate, which is ironic because all the other characters in the book need Jesus. Midway through the book, Jane is about to marry a “Byronic hero” (literature-speak for a male drama queen) named after some town in upstate New York, and the author goes on for about four pages on how silly the “if anyone objects, speak now or forever hold your peace” thing is at weddings because nobody ever objects.

Three guesses what happens next.

Turns out ol’ Schenectady has an insane wife he’s hiding in his attic, and bigamy in the 19th century is only for Mormons. Wedding’s off.

(Keep in mind that Charlotte Bronte, the author who tells us how insane Bertha (Wife #1) is, thinks Jane and Binghamton are the ideal relationship, which tells you how reliable she is. Also, there’s a pretentious umlaut over the “e” in Bronte, which I could probably look up how to type, but I’m not going to.)Meanwhile back at the ranch, Plan B for Jane is to marry her cousin and run off to India. She backs out at the last minute, not because, oh I don’t know, marrying your cousin and running off to India is a really bad idea, but because she hears voices that tell her Utica is back in the market.

Voices. In. Her. Head.

Out of the incestuous frying pan into the schizophrenic fire.

Turns out there was a fire over at Irondequoit’s place, and it just happened to kill the woman standing between him and Jane, and he just happened to be close enough to get severely injured himself, because that’s not completely suspicious. Reader, she married him, and sadly Charlotte Bronte died of really bad morning sickness in 1855, because the two deadliest things (other than civil wars) in the 19th century were being artistic and being pregnant, so she didn’t have time to write the sequel in which Ithaca got tired of Jane the way he did with Bertha, and starts trying to off her in hilariously inept ways while she’s oblivious, and everyone realizes the whole thing was supposed to be a dark comedy.

*Perhaps we should just be happy that there’s one business in Portland that hasn’t been burned down yet.

Memo from the Great Beyond


I do not know how I received the communication below. I just got the second dose of the COVID vaccine, so it might be that the 5G they implanted in me is more powerful than I thought, although I recall Rob Long receiving something similar after William F. Buckley Jr. passed away.

FR: New Arrivals/Orientation Dept.

TO: R. Limbaugh

CC: Mgmt/St. Peter

RE: Orientation Followup/Concerns

Mr. Limbaugh,

While we have certainly enjoyed your, shall we say, boisterous presence in the two months you have been here, there seem to be a few aspects of life here in the Great Beyond that need further clarification in your case.  Please note that this memorandum is for explanatory purposes only.

  1. As was explained in your orientation, the resources available to Kingdom authorities are infinite, and there is thus no need to tax residents for such public services as street maintenance.  Therefore, your criticism of paving the streets with gold, a longstanding policy of ours, as wasteful spending which will necessarily lead to tax increases is not valid. In addition, we remind you that St. Peter died almost 1,800 years before the Republican Party in the United States was established, and therefore was never a member of said party. In light of those facts, referring to him as a “Republican in Name Only” is dreadfully anachronistic. Please remember that we strive for accuracy here.
  2. We are in receipt of your “Limbaugh Letter”. We found your conversation with Alexis de Tocqueville quite enlightening, and, to be frank, publishing two pages’ worth of “stupid quotes” from various demons is an idea we wish we had thought of.  However, the image on the back cover- Rev. Jesse Jackson and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, among others, with the caption “We’re Waiting”- is quite problematic and we trust you will be more discerning in the future.
  3. Also – regarding the “Limbaugh Letter”- as mentioned in item 1, resources here are infinite, both in terms of food and finances, so your idea to hold a “bake sale” so the prophet Daniel can afford a subscription to your newsletter is doubly unnecessary.
  4. While we do not have definitive proof, we believe you and Antonin Scalia are behind the recent “lasagna incident” involving former Sen. Arlen Specter. Sen. Specter is here on what is known on Earth as a “technicality”, and wishes to stay out of the limelight.
  5. In response to your previous inquiry, the form for renewing previous loans of talent is Form MTY-1430, a copy of which is attached. Simply fill out the appropriate parts of the form, return it, and you should receive a response within seven days.
  6. While the timetable for Paul Shanklin’s arrival here has not yet been determined, as a protective measure, we are arranging a dream for him in which he will be warned not to impersonate certain senior archangels too closely. Your conduct since arriving here has inspired this.

Philadelphia Library Cancels Mummer Story Hour


PHILADELPHIA — The public library system of Philadelphia has canceled a program that featured Mummers, members of flamboyantly costumed groups that perform annually in the city New Year’s Day parade, reading books to young children. The cancellation comes after the first such event, held in Wissaquehoninghocken (pronounced “pa-SHUNK”) Library, a public library in Northwest Philadelphia, where Kevin Prosciutto, a 37-year-old longshoreman and member of the Golden Fancy Boys of Manatiniquehanna (pronounced “pa-SHUNK”), was scheduled to read the book “Myrtle the Covetous Platypus” at an event advertised for children between five and eight years of age.

According to an unnamed source within the library, Mr. Prosciutto entered claiming to be depicting Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, but resembled “the illegitimate love child of Elton John and Lady Gaga, if that love child had consumed LSD which was somehow fattening.” Four pages into the book, other members of the Golden Fancy Boys of Manatiniquehanna entered carrying small stringed instruments, which they played while singing a song that involved various Presidential candidates and elements of the plot of “Guardians of the Galaxy 2.” When pressed for details, the unnamed source began weeping quietly and only said, “I had no idea the name ‘Elizabeth Warren’ could rhyme with so many parts of the female anatomy.”

Although a spokesman for the public library promised mental health services would be made available for the children and (perhaps more importantly) their parents, most of the children seemed unfazed by the incident, with many assuming Mr. Prosciutto was portraying Gritty, the Philadelphia Flyers mascot. No children or library staff members were injured, although Mr. Prosciutto and Andrew Halupszczkowski, another member of his group, were briefly treated for an incident involving Elmer’s Glue and their own chest hair.

Libraries affected by the program closure include Wyoconshouwchlan, Shackamackoning, and Gwynyddhloc, all of which are pronounced “pa-SHUNK.”

Fracking, Vaping, and the New Puritans


Around the turn of the millennium, it was conventional wisdom that nicotine was the worst possible thing for you, and that the world economy was on the brink of Peak Oil, which would soon send energy prices on a permanent upward spiral and slowly grind the economy to a halt.  Since then, two innovations have challenged these beliefs: vaping and fracking, both of which have attracted controversy.

Vaping provides nicotine, the chemical that gets you hooked on tobacco, without the tar.  Fracking revived the American natural gas industry, causing a major move away from coal and toward natural gas, and made the United States self-sufficient in oil, in the process turning North Dakota into Saudi Arabia with lutefisk.

Both these innovations were unexpected, and both were imperfect improvements on the status quo. While vaping is not nearly as bad for you as smoking, nicotine is still addictive. Switching from coal to natural gas is an improvement in terms of carbon emissions (a major reason why the United States is the only developed nation to meet its Paris Accords goal) but burning natural gas still releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thereby ruining Greta Thunberg’s childhood.

Both have faced a backlash from politicians. More practical Democrats, such as John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, have made their peace with fracking, but on the party’s liberal wing, support for banning it entirely is almost mandatory. Vaping has attracted bipartisan concern, to the point where the panic has led some to switch back to smoking.

H.L. Mencken famously defined Puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” Today, we might define Puritanism – at least with these issues- the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, might come up with a solution you didn’t have in mind.

Pennsylvania Political Geography, I: Introduction


Via Wikipedia, a map of Pennsylvania with counties labeled.

Greetings from the center of Presidential politics, rural Pennsylvania.

Most political observers know that Donald Trump was the first Republican since 1988 to carry the Keystone State, but fewer realize that Trump’s victory broke an even longer-standing pattern. Pennsylvania was once one of the most Republican states in the Union, voting for the GOP in every election between the Civil War and New Deal (except 1912, when it went for Theodore Roosevelt’s third-party bid), even sticking with Herbert Hoover in 1932.

Franklin Roosevelt carried the state the other three times he ran, but by smaller margins than he won the national popular vote, and Pennsylvania went for Thomas Dewey over Harry Truman in 1948. In 1952, however, Pennsylvania began a pattern of being slightly more Democratic than the nation as a whole and stuck to it until 2012.

The source for this data and all other election data in this series is Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections at

As you can see, in every election from 1952 until 2012, Pennsylvania was more Democratic than the national popular vote, but by six percentage points or less in every year except the 1964 and 1984 landslides. The 2016 election broke this pattern, as Donald Trump carried Pennsylvania while losing the popular vote nationwide.

This consistency masked several changes going on within the state. Western Pennsylvania, once heavily Democratic, became solidly Republican outside the city of Pittsburgh. The Philadelphia suburbs, once a Republican stronghold, have become more Democratic. In the central part of the state, Republicans have increased their margins in rural areas while losing ground in some cities, such as State College, Harrisburg, and Lancaster. A number of more blue-collar cities, such as Erie and Scranton, seemed to be getting more Democratic, but swung toward Donald Trump in 2016.

Pennsylvania Regions

The most fundamental division in Pennsylvania’s geography runs along the Blue Mountain, at the eastern edge of the Appalachians.  It crosses the Mason-Dixon line almost halfway across the state’s southern border, near Chambersburg, then runs north of Carlisle, Harrisburg, Lebanon, Reading, and Allentown, roughly following the path of Interstates 81 and 78. Pike and Monroe counties, in the Poconos, are north of the Blue Mountain, but their proximity to the New York metropolitan area makes their demographics more aligned with the area to their south.

The area south and east of the Blue Mountain is mostly part of the Piedmont, the area of rolling hills stretching from New York City to Alabama. It tends to align with the Northeastern cities, mostly with Philadelphia, but in some areas with New York or the Baltimore-Washington region. Outside of already densely packed Philadelphia and some of its suburbs, its population has grown at an impressive rate for a northern state. It is relatively affluent. Politically, it has shifted to the Democrats (especially in the areas around Harrisburg, Lancaster, and the Philadelphia suburbs), but Republican margins have been holding, or even increasing, in the areas around York and Reading (rhymes with “wedding”).

The area north and west of the Blue Mountain is the stereotypical Pennsylvania of coal mines and steel mills. It tends to identify with the Midwest or Appalachia. It is not as wealthy as south-central or southeastern Pennsylvania, and, outside of State College and some of the Pittsburgh suburbs, its population is either declining or growing slowly. It is either part of the Appalachian Mountains or the Allegheny Plateau, the easternmost part of the Mississippi River basin. Politically, the Democrats used to have a great deal of support here, but it began turning toward the Republicans around the turn of the millennium (there are counties here that voted for Walter Mondale, John McCain, and Mitt Romney), a trend which has accelerated with the rise of Donald Trump.

Pennsylvania population growth, 2000-10

Median household income by county, 2010

Another way to split Pennsylvania is into four basic regions, one entirely east of the Blue Mountain, one entirely west, and two straddling it. These regions are:

  • Bidenland, a term coined by Brandon Finnigan of Decision Desk HQ.  This region consists of several small, blue-collar cities (Reading, Allentown, Bethlehem, Scranton, and Wilkes-Barre) in northeastern and east-central Pennsylvania. The Blue Mountain divides it between the anthracite coal region, stretching from Scranton to Schuylkill County, and a string of exurban areas from Reading to the Poconos. It tends to be evenly divided in elections, but swung to Trump in 2016.
  • Central PA, the area James Carville had in mind when he described Pennsylvania as “Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between.” This is the state’s Republican stronghold, and its presence is what keeps Pennsylvania in play for them.  The Blue Mountain divides it between the growing area around Harrisburg, Lancaster, and York, and the more thinly populated Appalachian area.
  • SEPA, or Philadelphia and its “collar counties” (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery). This is the smallest region by land area, but the largest by population.  In the past, the Republican suburbs balanced the Democratic city, but recently, both have become Democratic strongholds. Since the mid-20th century, it has held steady at just under a third of the state’s population.
  • Western PA, the most stereotypically “rust belt” region. It contains the Pittsburgh metro area, as well as Erie and several smaller, blue-collar cities such as Johnstown and New Castle. Once heavily Democratic, Republicans have made impressive gains here, but its shrinking population is making it less of an asset in statewide elections.

I’ll look at each of these regions in detail, including the sub-regions and trends within each, in subsequent posts. For now, here is a look at how the four regions voted, both in absolute terms and relative to the national popular vote, showing the trends I’ve mentioned above:

Below is the population of each region, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of the state:

As you can see, Bidenland declined slightly before growing again, as the suburban areas around Reading, the Lehigh Valley, and the Poconos grew, while the southeast has been fairly steady at just under one-third of the state’s population. Central Pennsylvania has grown steadily, while Western Pennsylvania has declined.



One of the many depressing features about this election cycle is the absence of James Taranto’s “Best of the Web” column, which would print haikus whenever a presidential candidate dropped out of the race.

Friday morning, New York City mayor and noted groundhog assassin Bill de Blasio dropped out (no doubt another victim of the unstoppable Joe Sestak juggernaut). This has some personal meaning for me. As you might guess from the profile picture, the groundhog is my spirit animal: I’m hairy, I’m from Pennsylvania, and I look funny when I run. Anyway, in the spirit of Mr. Taranto:

Now he has more time
To devote to mayor tasks;
Eight whole hours, perhaps?

And for his fellow New York flop, Kirsten Gillibrand:

Dem base believes all
Women who accuse, except
When it’s Al Franken.

Mike Gravel:

Palin no longer
Craziest Alaska pol
(She, at least, is hot.)

John Hickenlooper:

D.C. hipsters mourn;
White House will not now become
A home brewery.

Jay Inslee:

Follows own advice,
Helps environment by not
Giving off hot air.

Seth Moulton:

Mass pols usually
Concede on election night;
Marines are faster.

(By the way, Moulton dropped out the day David Koch died. It would be presumptive of me to suggest that Koch immediately ascended to heaven and began performing miracles, but a liberal Massachusetts politician did stop spending money unsustainably within hours of his death, so draw your own conclusions.)

And finally, the first dropout, Eric Swalwell:

Would nuke NRA,
Drops out first; what happened to
Truman Democrats?

Two Cows 2020


You’ve probably heard the “two cows” joke comparing different political and economic systems. Here’s where the 2020 presidential candidates fit in:

Michael Bennet, Julián Castro, John Delaney, and Wayne Messam: You have two cows. Not even they know who you are.

Joe Biden: You have two cows. You milk them a bit too enthusiastically.

Cory Booker: You have two cows. They spend all their time trying to convince you they’re just like that bull you bought back in 2008.

Steve Bullock: You have more acres than any farmer, but no cows actually live there.

Pete Buttigieg: You have two bulls. They marry each other.

Bill de Blasio: You have eight million cows. None of them can stand you.

Tulsi Gabbard: You have two cows. They gas all your chickens, but you stand by them anyway.

Kamala Harris: You have two cows. You get thrown in jail for forgetting to donate their milk to the school lunch program.

Amy Klobuchar: You have two cows. You get angry at them for not getting a fork for your cheese curds and try to sabotage their efforts to find another farm.

Beto O’Rourke and Joe Sestak: You have two cows. You show them at the county fair and come in second. They spend three weeks walking around your ranch and decide they want to compete at the state fair.

Tim Ryan: You have one old cow from San Francisco. You try to replace her, but it doesn’t work. You realize she won’t let you get anything done now, so you try to start a new farm in Iowa.

Bernie Sanders: You have two cows. You realize it’s more difficult to market your milk when there’s more than one other farmer in town.

Tom Steyer: You have two cows. They pass gas. It destroys the world.

Elizabeth Warren: You have two cows. You charge people $50,000 for the milk, and then demand the government forgive their debt.

Marianne Williamson: You ask, who am I to have two cows? Actually, who are you not to have two cows? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the dairy industry. You were born to make manifest the glory of milk that is within your cows. It’s not just in some cows; it’s in all of them. And as you let your own milk curdle into cheese, you unconsciously give other farmers permission to do the same.

Andrew Yang: You have two cows. A tech bro convinces you almond milk will soon make them obsolete, so you demand the government guarantee them a basic income.

And, finally…Donald Trump: You have two cows. You sell one and buy Greenland.

Announcement for the People of Great Britain


(This is loosely based on a joke that went viral after the 2000 election.)

Dear people of Great Britain,

In light of your inability to decide whether to stay in the European Union, and thus to govern yourselves, you are being annexed into the United States, effective immediately. Your new President, Donald Trump, will arrive shortly to claim his new domain (except Yorkshire, which is full of low-energy losers. Sad!). We understand he already owns half of Scotland.

To ease the transition, the following rules are being implemented:

1. The Queen and Prince Philip will be the two U.S. Senators from the new State of Great Britain. We are particularly excited for this, as compared to the current membership of the Senate, they will bring much-needed youth and vitality. Prince Charles will be invited to run for President in the Democratic primaries, where he will have a good chance of winning.

2. All British food is hereby banned. It is too bland, and this is for your own good. When we show you Mexican food, you will understand what we mean.  The full English breakfast will be allowed, but we’re replacing that weird grilled tomato with a donut.

3. The Scottish independence movement will be suppressed. We don’t want them giving Texas any ideas.

4. Fox hunting will be re-legalized, but it will be done by rednecks instead of people dressed in funny outfits whose ancestors were heroes in the Napoleonic Wars. Schools in rural areas will be closed the first day of “fox season” and half their male students will be mysteriously “sick” for a week afterwards.

4a. Any excess beagles not needed for fox hunting will be used for Internet memes.

5. You will get to keep the BBC, but instead of paying a tax for it, BBC broadcasts will be interrupted every 20 minutes to peddle overpriced tote bags and the ability to feel good about yourself. Ken Burns assures us that he will start a documentary on Henry VIII’s wives as soon as he has a musical hook picked out for it.

6. Your soccer players will be taught how to play American football. Anyone caught flopping will be sent to a high school in Alabama for remediation. We expect that your fans will get the hang of tailgating quickly, and you will be pleased to know there is a team called the “Fighting Irish” that loses all its playoff games by 40 points. If all goes well, Oxford and Cambridge will be in the SEC by 2030.

6a. Please stop being racist at sporting events, or we’ll never be able to award you an NBA franchise.

6b. Speaking of basketball, we have something called “March Madness” that your bookies will love.

7. Words such as “honor”, “color”, “check”, and “program”, which you insist on misspelling, will have the excess vowels stripped from them. The vowels thus collected will be sent to Wales, which seems to have a dire shortage of them. If we need any more vowels for Wales, we can get them from Hawaii and Spanish-speaking immigrant communities.

8. Once you have been dealing with the United States government for about a month, you will understand why we do not want it in charge of our health care, and you will be ready for privatized (notice the “z”) health insurance. Don’t worry about those horror stories about medical bills driving people into bankruptcy; you can declare bankruptcy and still be President someday.

9. You will have to learn how to drive on the right side of the road. All roundabouts will be replaced with regular intersections, as God intended. We can’t wait to introduce you to the concept of turning right on red.

10. Speaking of God, being Americanized (again, notice the “z”) means you will have to become religious again. To help this along, we will send every televangelist in America to Great Britain. After a couple months of exposure to them, the Church of England will seem sensible by comparison and you’ll all rejoin it.

10a. If you still need convincing, we’ll just give you back all those C.S. Lewis books you gave us and forgot about.

11. To protect your borders, we will build a wall along the White Cliffs of Dover and make France pay for it.

12. Marvel Comics will be put in charge of rebooting all British fantasy literature. Aslan will get a wacky sidekick, Sauron will get a tragic backstory, and we’ll figure out some way to make the Internet debate whether Harry Potter is an allegory for libertarian politics. Due to political correctness, we might have to make Winnie the Pooh transgender.

13. You get the British Empire back! You can have military bases in half the world’s countries, but you’ll have to pretend to feel bad about it occasionally. Don’t worry, that won’t affect anything. We may, however, offer the Falkland Islands to Argentina if they can get Pope Francis to shut up about capitalism.

14. Since no country using the metric system has ever made it to the moon, we will re-impose the Imperial system on you. Really, letting the Europeans talk you into using metric was the first sign this whole European Union thing was going to get out of hand- you give Brussels 2.54 centimeters and they’ll take 1.6093 kilometers.

15. Please tell us who built Stonehenge. It’s been driving us crazy.

Getting Gassed in the Garden State


Friends, it is with a heavy heart that I must announce New Jersey is at it again.

Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who until now had been content to be quietly slightly less awful than his counterpart in New York, was in the news for two rather remarkable things recently.  The first was occasioned by Josh Gottheimer, a Democratic congressman from North Jersey, going on one of those warm-and-fuzzy tours where he did various jobs in his district.  Rep. Gottheimer went to a gas station but was relegated to wielding the windshield squeegee because he doesn’t have the certificate you need in order to legally pump gasoline into cars.  In other words, as anyone who has driven through New Jersey knows, it’s illegal to pump your own gas there.  Murphy was quoted in the article as saying (in 2018), “The way gasoline is delivered in this state is part of our fabric.”

The second was Gov. Murphy saying today that he will sign a bill to legalize euthanasia that has passed both houses of the state legislature.  So, New Jersey is about to join six other states and the District of Columbia as places where euthanasia is legal- and the only one where it’s legal to be euthanized but not to pump your own gas*.

(Incidentally, my main objection to euthanasia is that if you have the power to choose how you will die, having a doctor inject you with poison to make a political point seems like a very lame way to go.  Get back to me when I can have myself tied (naked, of course) to the back of a rocket which will explode in midair and scatter little bits of me all over the landscape while a choir with jazz flute accompaniment sings “Up, Up and Away In My Beautiful Balloon”.  #YODO.)

(I know, I’ve put way too much thought into that.)

The compromise solution here is obvious.  If any New Jersey residents are too dumb to pump their own gas without blowing themselves up, just consider it a form of euthanasia.

*In Oregon, another state with legalized euthanasia, it is also illegal to pump your own gas, but there is an exception for counties with a population under 40,000.

Il Trionfo De Bezos: An Opera in Three Acts


ACT I: Il Donatio de Bezos

Goffredo Bezos, a book merchant who has gotten rich through trade, is in Nuovo Iorco to announce a great gift to benefit its people. Don Chucco, doge of Nuovo Iorco, sings of Bezos’s generosity toward the city, and notes that he has, at least temporarily, calmed the tension between the Cuomi, Deblasii, and Ghillibrandi over which faction will lead the planned invasion of Nuovo Ampscheria to oust Il Donaldo from the imperial throne.

A messenger arrives with news that Alessandria, a onetime barmaid of Spanish origin, has overthrown Giuseppe Crolio in the outlying region of Broncsia. Don Chucco begins rebuking him for his impertinence, until Alessandria shows up and denounces the festivities surrounding Bezos, alleging that the noble families of Nuovo Iorco bribed Bezos to make his donation and that he will bring ruin to the city (“Gentrificazione!  Ipstertopia! Rento thru il rufo! Mondo trafico! Wipipo!”). Enraged, Lady Nancia, wife of Don Chucco, orders Alessandria exiled to the island of Verde-Nuovo-Deale (“Che proposale vamo nowhere prestissimo!”). Don Chucco and Lady Nancia apologize profusely to Bezos, who forgives them, but says he must depart for the land of Nova.

ACT II: I Virgini

Bezos arrives at La Cittia del Cristal in the land of Nova to make another donation. He is met by Ralfo, a noble Moor who has become king of the Virgini. Ralfo sings of the previous billionari who have ravaged his land: Il Donaldo, who recently closed the entire land of Nova for three weeks as part of a campaign against the Messicani, and Il Snidero, the worst of all, who destroyed the Redschini. After Ralfo’s lament, a messenger arrives alleging that Ralfo is not in fact Moorish, but a member of the tribe of Mediscuoli, who, as part of a barbaric ritual from the distant past, often falsely pose as Moors.

A chorus of Virgini lament the fall of Ralfo (“E buon, tu es un pediatrizione e non dermatologio!”), but express hope that Don Fairfacco, next in line for the throne, will unite the people. Don Fairfacco is about to take the throne when the Lady Vanessa alleges he has ravished her (“Mitu! Mitu! Mitu!”). Flummoxed, the Virgini offer the throne to Don Marco, only to find out that he has also posed as a Moor. Ralfo, Fairfacco, and Marco all fall on their swords. The Virgini attempt to summon their ancient ruler, Giefferzone de Monticello, but even he declines to take the throne (“E super razialle problematico”).

With no other options, the Virgini offer their kingdom to Bezos, who is about to accept when a messenger arrives saying that the [violazione del Codo de Condetto]-pico, a forgotten but extremely powerful relic, is in the hands of the Enquiereri, a barbarian tribe threatening to use it to overthrow Bezos.

ACT III: La Battalle del ****pico

The nobles of the empire are gathered at a great feast, where the Patrioti are about to devour the flesh of rams.  Bezos arrives accompanied by the troubadour Tomancso and begins singing an aria about the importance of his work in the land of Nova and the neighboring land of Distritto (“Democracia morte in noche”), before denouncing the scoundrel Peccherio, leader of the Enquiereri, for seeking to destroy him with the stolen [violazione del Codo de Condetto]-pico. The assembled nobles begin laughing as one at Peccherio’s name, breaking the power of the [violazione del Codo de Condetto]-pico.

At the moment of Bezos’s triumph, a messenger from Nuovo Iorco arrives with the news that Alessandria’s power has grown to the point where most of the Presidentabile have made trips to the island of Verde-Nuovo-Deale, and she is once again threatening his interests in the city. Bezos, now king of the Virgini, determines that he will move his donation from Nuovo Iorco to his new realm.

The Island Beach Gubernatorial Getaway Guide


Thank you for choosing Island Beach — the most exclusive resort the Jersey Shore has to offer! After a long week of working, budgeting, yelling at the media, pumping your own gas, and contemplating the artistic genius of Bruce Springsteen, we’re sure you’re ready for the perfect getaway.

Our highest priority is the comfort and relaxation of our guests (especially since you need to cross a bridge to get here)! To that end, we’ve cleared away all those pesky Cub Scouts and whatever species Snooki is to deliver you the most unique experience the Garden State has to offer. Please keep aware of the following ground rules, events, and offers to make the most of your stay:

  • On weekday mornings, each booked room will receive a complimentary copy of USA Today. Copies of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and local newspapers are available on request at the front desk. Guests who would like more of an escape from the news can forgo the daily paper and simply receive an alert from the resort staff in case of an abrupt resignation by Jeff Sessions that would require President Trump to find a staunch loyalist to serve as Attorney General.
  • There is a free continental breakfast in the lobby each morning from 6:30 to 9 AM. Please be advised that, due to space constraints, “continental” is a figure of speech and does not refer to the size of the breakfast spread.
  • Inclement Weather Policy: For the safety of our guests, in the event of a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning, all outdoor activities will be postponed or cancelled. In the event of a hurricane warning, guests will be invited to relive their glory days.
  • You’re humming the song “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen now, aren’t you?
  • Guests are invited to watch and/or participate in our taffy pulling contest each Wednesday evening at 7. Please refrain from eating the taffy until it has been pulled.
  • In case of rain, we are pleased to offer several indoor activities for our guests:
    • Contract Bridge lessons: learn to play the classic card game!
    • Children’s Book Club: read and discuss the classic young adult novel Bridge to Terabithia.
    • Historic Movie Screening: in keeping with our World War II theme, guests have the option of A Bridge Too Far or Bridge over the River Kwai.
  • Dinner will be served each evening from 5 to 8 PM. Our executive chef has prepared a forward looking menu, and by “forward looking,” we mean “looking forward to when your state is run by public-sector union puppets because you confirmed voters’ worst stereotypes about Republicans in an election year.” We have a menu featuring Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, a Greek salad with feta cheese and fresh olives, and a sampler of Puerto Rican delicacies. Guests can select — oh, who am I kidding? You’ll eat all three of them.
  • If you enjoy your stay at the Island Beach Resort, ask about our other properties throughout North America. We regret to say, though, that we are no longer able to offer stays in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Discussing Jim Webb’s Exit with the Vietnamese Guy He Killed



This week, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb dropped out of the Democratic presidential primaries. Here to comment, via seance, is Demh So Dimh, the Viet Cong member Webb killed in 1969.

TLD: Comrade Dimh, I understand this is the first American political debate you’ve seen. Any first impressions?

DSD: Sheryl Crow’s rendition of your national anthem allowed me to understand the American military better than fighting them in combat did. If that is what they must listen to, no wonder they are not afraid to die.

TLD: Good point. Do you think any of the candidates on stage could appeal to Viet Cong voters?

DSD: Why would they? We are not American citizens, and most of us are also dead.

TLD: You could still be a major voting bloc in Chicago.

DSD: Oh, right. Well, in that case, I think Bernie Sanders has a point about corporate power, but his economics are a little too far left for my liking.

TLD: Were you surprised to hear yourself mentioned in the debate?  Senator Webb mentioned you when the candidates were asked who the enemies were that they were most proud of, and it caused a bit of a stir.

DSD: Really? He mentioned someone who was trying to kill him, instead of a domestic political enemy, and he’s the odd one out?

TLD: Yes. All the others mentioned domestic political forces.

DSD: You know I was trying to kill him, right? I wasn’t blocking a bill he had proposed. I wasn’t raising money to run attack ads against him. I. Was. Trying. To. Kill. Him. I threw a small bomb at him with the intention of blasting him into little bits, and —

TLD: Comrade Dimh, I understand you have strong feelings, but —

DSD: I don’t mean to get angry, but if he thinks I’m his enemy, promote him from lieutenant to Captain Obvious. And your political class thinks that’s weird?

TLD: Some of them do, yes.

DSD: This is why I will never understand your culture.

TLD: Would you consider Senator Webb the enemy you’re most proud of?

DSD: Actually, no.  I’m more angry at the Pho Sho restaurant in Shamokin, Pennsylvania. [Code of Conduct violation] stole my family’s banh mi recipe. [Code of Conduct violation].

TLD: Wrapping up, are there any other aspects of American culture that fascinate you?

DSD: I’ve been trying to get into your baseball, but I just can’t bring myself to follow it that much.  The last time I threw a small, round object, it didn’t turn out so well.

Special Interests Aim at Toomey-Manchin Background Check Bill


shutterstock_228936508Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) have proposed a bill to expand background checks, which they claim are necessary to ensure the safety of schoolchildren. Special interests, however, have come out against the plan, claiming that inaccuracies occur in the databases used for background checks and that complying with the requirement would place an undue burden on law-abiding citizens.

This has nothing to do with guns, however. The bill targets teachers, coaches, and other school employees who have been convicted of sex offenses and seek to regain employment in a different state to avoid detection. The American Federation of Teachers expressed skepticism about the bill, citing concerns about false accusations against teachers. To be fair, there are also concerns  — cited by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) the chairman of the committee that would handle the bill — about the federal government imposing mandates on local school districts, but Sen. Toomey points out that it would only restrict non-complying schools from receiving federal money. A similar measure passed the House unanimously last year, but stalled in the Senate committee, at the time led by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

When Sens. Toomey and Manchin proposed a bill in April 2013 on background checks for gun purchases, its failure was lamented everywhere from The New York Daily News to The Onion. Now, there’s another background-check bill before the Senate that cites the same justification (protecting schoolchildren) and has the same sponsors but — this time — it aggravates teachers’ unions instead of gun-rights groups.  Somehow, if this new effort fails, I doubt we’ll see the same amount of outrage from the press.

Jeff Ditzler

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