P. J. O’Rourke

Over on Twitter I’m spending the day quoting P. J. O’Rourke, my all-time favorite irascible curmudgeon. He’s like H. L. Mencken, but with a better hairdo.

I’ve met P. J. at least three times and engaged him in conversation twice. Nothing that he would remember; hell, I don’t even remember the conversations. They were brief and occured either before or after he’d spoken at some function or other… anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, Twitter. I like Twitter, but 140 characters is limiting. I’ll put the longer, spillover quotes here. Bibliography at the end.

The quotes:

If we don’t want the world’s wealth to be controlled by people with money then the alternative is to have the world’s wealth controlled by people with guns.

Freedom is not empowerment. Empowerment is what the Serbs have in Bosnia. Anybody can grab a gun and be empowered. It’s not entitlement. An entitlement is what people on welfare get, and how free are they? It’s not an endlessly expanding list of rights — the “right” to education, the “right” to food and housing. That’s not freedom, that’s dependency. Those aren’t rights, those are the rations of slavery — hay and a barn for human cattle. 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.

The weirder you’re going to behave, the more normal you should look. It works in reverse, too. When I see a kid with three or four rings in his nose, I know there is absolutely nothing extraordinary about that person.

There’s a whiff of the lynch mob or the lemming migration about any overlarge concentration of like-thinking individuals, no matter how virtuous their cause.

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.

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.

The free market is ugly and stupid, like going to the mall; the unfree market is just as ugly and just as stupid, except there is nothing in the mall and if you don’t go there they shoot you.

If you are young and you drink a great deal it will spoil your health, slow your mind, make you fat – in other words, turn you into an adult.

In comparative terms, there’s no poverty in America by a long shot. Heritage Foundation political scientist Robert Rector has worked up figures showing that when the official U.S. measure of poverty was developed in 1963, a poor American family had an income twenty-nine times greater than the average per capita income in the rest of the world. An individual American could make more money than 93 percent of the other people on the planet and still be considered poor.

Senator Ted Kennedy: “And when the Reagan administration was selling arms to Iran, WHERE WAS GEORGE?” Answer: Dry, sober, and at home with his wife.

Imagine a weight-loss program at the end of which, instead of better health, good looks, and hot romantic prospects, you die. Somalia had become just this kind of spa.

Worshiping the earth is more fun than going to church. It’s also closer. We can just step off the sidewalk. And sometimes we can get impressionable members of the opposite sex to perform sacramental rites with us. “Every drop of water wasted is a drop less of a wild and scenic river, Jennifer. We’d better double up in the shower.

When government does, occasionally, work, it works in an elitist fashion. That is, government is most easily manipulated by people who have money and power already. This is why government benefits usually go to people who don’t need benefits from government. Government may make some environmental improvements, but these will be improvements for rich bird-watchers. And no one in government will remember that when poor people go bird-watching they do it at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

There are a number of mechanical devices that increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible.

There’s a lot of debate on this subject – about what kind of car handles best. Some say a a front-engined car, some say a rear-engined car. I say a rented car. Nothing handles better than a rented car. You can go faster, turn corners sharper, and put the transmission into reverse while going forward at a higher rate of speed in a rented car than in any other kind.

Selected bibliography:

All the Trouble in the World

Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government

Eat the Rich: A Treatise on Economics

Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut

Modern Manners: An Etiquette Book for Rude People