Sunday soapbox

20/02/2022

Sunday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse but not to abuse.

There is only one basics human right: the right to do as you please, without causing others harm. With it comes our only basic human duty: the duty to accept the consequences of our actions.  – P.J. O’Rourke


Saturday soapbox

19/02/2022

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse but not to abuse.

 

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 licence. – P.J. Orourke


P.J. O’Rourke 14.1..47 – 15.2.22

16/02/2022

P.J. (Patrick Jake) O’Rourke, journalist, satirist and writer, has died:

P.J. O’Rourke, the conservative satirist and political commentator who was unafraid to skewer Democrats and Republicans alike in best-selling books like “Parliament of Whores,” in articles for a wide range of magazines and newspapers, and on television and radio talk shows, died on Tuesday at his home in Sharon, N.H. He was 74.

The cause was complications of lung cancer, said Deb Seager, the director of publicity at Grove/Atlantic, Mr. O’Rourke’s publisher.

Mr. O’Rourke’s political writing was in the caustic tradition of H.L. Mencken. As writers and commentators go, he was something of a celebrity, welcome on talk shows of almost any political bent and known for appearances on NPR’s comedy quiz show “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me.”

He was a proud conservative Republican — one of his books was called “Republican Party Reptile: The Confessions, Adventures, Essays and (Other) Outrages of P.J. O’Rourke” — but he was widely admired by readers of many stripes because of his fearless style and his willingness to mock just about anyone who deserved it, including himself. In “Republican Party Reptile” he recalled his youthful flirtation with Mao Zedong.

“But I couldn’t stay a Maoist forever,” he wrote. “I got too fat to wear bell-bottoms. And I realized that communism meant giving my golf clubs to a family in Zaire.”

In 2010, The New York Times invited him and assorted other prominent people to define “Republican” and “Democrat.” He offered this:

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

Mr. O’Rourke was prolific. In addition to some 20 books, he wrote a column for The Daily Beast for a time and appeared regularly in The Atlantic, The American Spectator, Rolling Stone and The Weekly Standard, where he was a contributing editor. He was the conservative side of a point-counterpoint segment on “60 Minutes” in the mid-1990s, opposite Molly Ivins, and a guest on “Real Time With Bill Maher,” “The Daily Show,” “Charlie Rose” and other talk shows.

Mr. O’Rourke was most often identified as a political satirist, but his subjects ranged well beyond the political. His first book, published in 1983 (and reissued in 1989), was called “Modern Manners: An Etiquette Book for Rude People.”

“Good manners can replace intellect by providing a set of memorized responses to almost every situation in life,” he wrote. “Memorized responses eliminate the need for thought. Thought is not a very worthwhile pastime anyway. Thinking allows the brain, an inert and mushy organ, to exert unfair domination over more sturdy and active body parts.” . . 

He was renowned for his pithy quotes which include:

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

You can’t get rid of poverty by giving people money.

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.

To mistrust science and deny the validity of scientific method is to resign your job as a human. You’d better go look for work as a plant or wild animal.

Think what evil creeps liberals would be if their plans to enfeeble the individual, exhaust the economy, impede the rule of law, and cripple national defense were guided by a coherent ideology instead of smug ignorance.

Fiscal conservatism is just an easy way to express something that is a bit more difficult, which is that the size and scope of government, and really the size and scope of politics in our lives, has grown uncomfortable, unwieldy, intrusive and inefficient.

The idea of capitalism is not just success but also the failure that allows success to happen.

When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.

 


Quote of the day

14/11/2017

Sometimes the right response to evil is an appeal to powerful and effective social organization – an appeal to civilization itself. – P.J. O’Rourke who turns 70 today.


Quote of the day

14/11/2016

Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we’re looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.  – P.J. O’Rourke who celebrates his 69th birthday today.

He also said:

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 they get elected and prove it.

And:

I rarely meet a politician that I don’t like personally. They are generally well endowed with charm. Therein lies the danger.

And:

 Liberals are always proposing perfectly insane ideas, laws that will make everybody happy, laws that will make everything right, make us live forever, and all be rich. Conservatives are never that stupid.

And:

There is a simple rule here, a rule of legislation, a rule of business, a rule of life: beyond a certain point, complexity is fraud. You can apply that rule to left-wing social programs, but you can also apply that rule to credit derivatives, hedge funds, all the rest of it.

And:

Political discourse has become so rotten that it’s no longer possible to tell the stench of one presidential candidate from the stink of another.

And:

There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as ‘caring’ and ‘sensitive’ because he wants to expand the government’s charitable programs is merely saying that he’s willing to try to do good with other people’s money.

And:

Children live in the only successful Marxist state ever created: the family. ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need’ is the family’s practice as well as its theory. Even with today’s scattershot patterns of marriage and parenting, a family is collectivist to a more than North Korean degree.


Who’d be a politician?

11/05/2009

P.J. O’Rourke explains to Bill Ralston why he wouldn’t want to be a politician:

“Meetings.” He stretches out the work in horror. “If it was just a matter of bossing people around, I wouldn’t mind so much. It don’t think any of us would. But to sit through meetings and have to be pleasant to everyone all the time. Can you imagine? I can’t do it around the house, with my wife and chidlren whom I love; how could I do it with the whole goddam public!”

The interview is in this week’s Listener. You can read a preview here, but you’ll have to buy a copy of the magazine if you want to read it all before it goes on-line next week.


P.J. O’Rourke on capitalism and free trade

19/04/2009

The Business Herald interviewed USA satirist P.J. O’Rourke who said on capitalism:

The free market is simply a measurement. It’s a yardstick; a bathroom scale. You may hate what you see when you step on a bathroom scale, but you can’t pass a law making yourself thin. And I feel there are a lot of politicians out there who think that you can, or want to tell the public that the public can.

On China:

Two years ago, I spent quite a long time there. And I was there a year ago too, although that was more Hong Kong. But it’s an amazing place. The changes are great. People who say the Chinese economic boom has not come with greater freedoms are only talking about a limited range of freedoms. When people are able to feed themselves, as opposed to unable to feed themselves, that makes them a lot freer. Economic freedoms are a big part of the freedom we use every day. They’re easy to mock, but the freedom we use most often, and to the greatest extent, is economic freedom. And so the Chinese all of a sudden have that, and it’s extraordinary to see. But it also is an important lesson that economic freedom is a necessary, but not sufficient, part of complete freedom.

And On free trade:

People will lie about this. Even if they don’t always understand the free market is to their advantage, they do understand that free trade is to their advantage, in a macro sense over a long period of time. But nobody seems to understand yet that when you restrict your imports you are restricting the actions of your own people and you are hampering the freedoms of other people around the world to indulge in the harmless exchange of goods. People say free trade causes dislocation. In actual fact, it’s the lowering of trade barriers that causes the dislocation. It’s not the natural state of things that causes dislocation, so much as it is the changing from the previously unnatural state of things.

The full interview is here. 

He doesn’t know how to use a computer and writes with a typewriter. As a specialist in work avoidance I concur with his view on the danger of distraction with computers, but there is no way I’d choose a typewriter over a word processor and not just because it’s easier to make corrections when I type faster than I spell.

There’s a link at the bottom of the interview for information on O’Rourk’s John Bonython lecture in Auckland on April 30th. It didn’t work but I found if on the Centre for Independent Studies’ website.

Hat Tip: goNZo Freakpower


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