P. J. O’Rourke
Quotations


Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and would boss the grass in the meadow about which way to bend in the wind are the most depraved kind of prostitutes. They will submit to any indignity, perform any vile act, do anything to achieve power. The worst off-sloughings of the planet are the ingredients of sovereignty. Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy the whores are us.

Government proposes, bureaucracy disposes. And the bureaucracy must dispose of government proposals by dumping them on us.

Automobiles are free of egotism, passion, prejudice and stupid ideas about where to have dinner. They are, literally, selfless. A world designed for automobiles instead of people would have wider streets, larger dining rooms, fewer stairs to climb and no smelly, dangerous subway stations.

In the end we beat them with Levi 501 jeans. Seventy-two years of Communist indoctrination and propaganda was drowned out by a three-ounce Sony Walkman. A huge totalitarian system . . . has been brought to its knees because nobody wants to wear Bulgarian shoes. . . . Now they’re lunch, and we’re number one on the planet.

The neo-hippie-dips, the sentimentality-crazed iguana anthropomorphizers, the Chicken Littles, the three-bong-hit William Blakes -- thank God these people don’t actually go outdoors much, or the environment would be even worse than it is already.

Marijuana is . . . self-punishing. It makes you acutely sensitive, and in this world, what worse punishment could there be?

No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we’re looking for the sources of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.

Maybe a nation that consumes as much booze and dope as we do and has our kind of divorce statistics should pipe down about “character issues.” Either that or just go ahead and determine the presidency with three-legged races and pie-eating contests. It would make better TV.

Farm policy, although it’s complex, can be explained. What it can’t be is believed. No cheating spouse, no teen with a wrecked family car, no mayor of Washington, D.C., videotaped in flagrante delicto has ever come up with anything as farfetched as U.S. farm policy.

Maybe it’s understandable what a history of failures America’s foreign policy has been. We are, after all, a country full of people who came to America to get away from foreigners. Any prolonged examination of the U.S. government reveals foreign policy to be America’s miniature schnauzer -- a noisy but small and useless part of the national household.

Whatever it is that the government does, sensible Americans would prefer that the government do it to somebody else. This is the idea behind foreign policy.

One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on. And when you do find somebody, it’s remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver’s license.

West Germans are tall, pert and orthodontically corrected, with hands, teeth and hair as clean as their clothes and clothes as sharp as their looks. Except for the fact that they all speak English pretty well, they’re indistinguishable from Americans.

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

The government is huge, stupid, greedy and makes nosy, officious and dangerous intrusions into the smallest corners of life -- this much we can stand. But the real problem is that government is boring. We could cure or mitigate the other ills Washington visits on us if we could only bring ourselves to pay attention to Washington itself. But we cannot.

I am a journalist and, under the modern journalist’s code of Olympian objectivity (and total purity of motive), I am absolved of responsibility. We journalists don’t have to step on roaches. All we have to do is turn on the kitchen light and watch the critters scurry.

We have no one to blame for the Kennedys but ourselves. We took the Kennedys to heart of our own accord. And it is my opinion that we did it not because we respected them or thought what they proposed was good, but because they were pretty. We, the electorate, were smitten by this handsome, vivacious family. . . . We wanted to hug their golden tousled heads to our dumpy breasts.

America is the world’s policeman, all right -- a big, dumb, mick flatfoot in the middle of the one thing cops dread most, a “domestic disturbance.”

Nothing bad’s going to happen to us. If we get fired, it’s not failure; it’s a midlife vocational reassessment.

Quayle was a twink. He got all the way through the sixties without dying from an overdose, being institutionalized by his parents or getting arrested for nude violation of the Mann act on a motorcycle. At least he was a draft-dodger -- although Dan timidly joined the National Guard instead of bravely going to his physical in panty hose.

For the people in government, rather than the people who pester it, Washington is an early-rising, hard-working city. It is a popular delusion that the government wastes vast amounts of money through inefficiency and sloth. Enormous effort and elaborate planning are required to waste this much money.

No government proposal more complicated than "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private" ever works.

Every generation finds the drug it needs.

I'm a registered Republican and consider socialism a violation of the American principle that you shouldn't stick your nose in other people's business except to make a buck.

Man developed in Africa. He has not continued to do so there.

Jewishness cropped up and has never successfully been put down since.

Industrialization came to England but has since left.

Neither conservatives nor humorists believe man is good. But left-wingers do.

These were people who believed everything about the Soviet Union was perfect, but they were bringing their own toilet paper.

To really enjoy drugs you've got to want to get out of where you are. But there are some wheres that are harder to get out of than others. This is the drug-taking problem for adults. Teenage weltschmerz is easy to escape. But what drug will get a grown-up out of, for instance, debt?

Civilization is an enormous improvement on the lack thereof.

Cockfighting has always been my idea of a great sport -- two armed entrées battling to see who'll be dinner.

Earnestness is just stupidity sent to college.

Everything on a boat has a different name than it would have if it weren't on a boat. Either this is ancient seafaring tradition or it's how people who mess around with boats try to impress the rest of us who actually finished college.

Harvard has been almost as important to the American Jewish community as the pork-sausage industry.

I am no stranger to loud music. I've been to a Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels concert. I once dated a woman with two kids.

I can understand why mankind hasn't given up war. During a war you get to drive tanks through the sides of buildings and shoot foreigners -- two things that are usually frowned on during peacetime.

I like to do my principal research in bars, where people are more likely to tell the truth or, at least, lie less convincingly than they do in briefings and books.

I've always figured that if God wanted us to go to church a lot He'd have given us bigger behinds to sit on and smaller heads to think with.

If Christ came back tomorrow, He'd have to change planes in Frankfurt. Modern air travel means less time spent in transit. That time is now spent in transit lounges.

In Western Australia they don't even know how to make that vital piece of sailing-boat equipment, the gin and tonic.

It had never occurred to us that the Kremlin's new anti-booze campaign would apply to journalists. Now, that's a human-rights violation.

Italy is not technically part of the Third World, but no one has told the Italians.

One nice thing about the Third World, you don't have to fasten your seat belt. (Or stop smoking. Or cut down on saturated fats.) It takes a lot off your mind when average life expectancy is forty-five minutes.

Some people are worried about the difference between right and wrong. I'm worried about the difference between wrong and fun.

The America's Cup is like driving your Lamborghini to the Grand Prix track to watch the charter buses race.

The Australian language is easier to learn than boat talk. It has a vocabulary of about six words.

The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then get elected and prove it.

The French are a smallish, monkey-looking bunch and not dressed any better, on average, than the citizens of Baltimore. True, you can sit outside in Paris and drink little cups of coffee, but why this is more stylish than sitting inside and drinking large glasses of whiskey I don't know.

The interesting thing about staring down a gun barrel is how small the hole is where the bullet comes out, yet what a big difference it would make in your social schedule.

The Italians have had two thousand years to fix up the Forum and just look at the place.

The larger the German body, the smaller the German bathing suit and the louder the German voice issuing German demands and German orders to everybody who doesn't speak German. For this, and several other reasons, Germany is known as 'the land where Israelis learned their manners'.

To grasp the true meaning of socialism, imagine a world where everything is designed by the post office, even the sleaze.

War will exist as long as there's a food chain.

What would be a road hazard anywhere else, in the Third World is probably the road.

A charity ball is like a dance except it's tax deductible.

A hat should be taken off when you greet a lady and left off for the rest of your life. Nothing looks more stupid than a hat.

Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then they get elected and prove it.

Many reporters, when they go to work in the nation’s capital, begin thinking of themselves as participants in the political process instead of glorified stenographers.

The whole idea of our government is this: If enough people get together and act in concert, they can take something and not pay for it.

I have often been called a Nazi, and, although it is unfair, I don't let it bother me. I don't let it bother me for one simple reason. No one has ever had a fantasy about being tied to a bed and sexually ravished by someone dressed as a liberal.

You can't shame or humiliate modern celebrities. What used to be called shame and humiliation is now called publicity. And forget traditional character assassination; if you say a modern celebrity is an adulterer, a pervert and a drug addict, all it means is that you've read his autobiography.

You can keep the dining room clean by eating in the kitchen.

You know, if government were a product, selling it would be illegal.

Government is a health hazard. Governments have killed many more people than cigarettes or unbuckled seat belts ever have.

Term limits aren't enough. We need jail.



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