People are always angry at America. They're absolutely certain that America either caused their problems or is deliberately not fixing their problems. But the anger is always directed at America and never at Americans.
When I board an airplane these days, all the middle-aged men are dressed like me - when I was an 8-year-old. They're in shorts and T-shirts. And it's not just on airplanes. It's in business offices, teachers' lounges, and churches.
Californians are people who insist on growing their own vegetables, but they won't dig up the pretty lawn, won't plant anything for fear of getting dirty, and they use fragrant bath salts from The Body Shop instead of smelly compost.
Some taxpayers may object to a print journalism bailout on the grounds that it mostly benefits the liberal elite. And we can't blame taxpayers for being reluctant to subsidize the reportorial careers of J-school twerps who should have joined the Peace Corps and gone to Africa to 'speak truth to power' to Robert Mugabe.
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.
Computers seem a little too adaptively flexible, like the strange natives, odd societies, and head cases we study in the social sciences. There's more opposable thumb in the digital world than I care for; it's awfully close to human.
The Communist bloc of old was a study in the failure of failure. Losers in the Soviet economy were the people at the end of the long lines for consumer goods. Worse losers were the people who had spent hours getting to the head of the line, only to be told that the goods were unavailable.
The only advantage to being a middle-aged man is that when you put on a jacket and tie, you're the Scary Dad. Never mind that no one has had an actually scary dad since 1966. The visceral fear remains.
Our earliest evidence of government, in the ruins of Babylon and Egypt, shows nothing but ziggurats and pyramids of wasted taxpayer money, the TARP funds and shovel-ready stimulus programs of their day.
The baby boomers' politics have covered a wide band of silliness, from the Weather Underground to the Timothy McVeigh types. The great majority of us are well in the middle of that spectrum, but still, there's been both leftie silliness and right-wing silliness.
I come from Toledo, Ohio, a town that has been hurt badly by the shift of the automobile business towards Japan. And yet I remember how the car workers lived in the neighborhood that I grew up in. My father was a car salesman, and I remember how we lived. I remember how modestly we lived.
When I was fifteen, I dreamed of living in the big city, as many a young person does if he is artistic and sensitive. By 'artistic and sensitive' I mean short, skinny, unkissed, bad at sports, and carrying a C average in high school.
Positive rights are the right to shelter, the right to education, the right to health care, the right to a living wage. These things are - these are, I would call them, more properly, political rights rather than positive rights. And they are extremely tricky, because now we are dealing with things that are zero sum.
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.
When you pay a hospital bill, you're really paying two hospital bills - one bill for you because you have a job and/or insurance and can pay the hospital. and another bill, which is tacked onto your bill, to cover the medical expenses of someone who doesn't have a job and/or insurance and can't pay the hospital.
I'm too tough and sensitive to have to have some pubescent twerp with his mom's earring in his tongue, who combs his hair with Redi-Whip and has an Ani DiFranco tattoo on his shin, come show me how a computer works.
Agriculture is a business that has been up to its bib overalls in politics since the first Thanksgiving dinner kickback to the Indians for subsidizing Pilgrim maize production with fish head fertilizer grants.
As I get older, all sorts of things become less funny. Once one has children, any cruelty involving children becomes far less amusing than when one was at the mercy of one's friends' and relatives' children.
I think it's been hard for people to understand how Islam can be a good religion, and yet the Islamists are evil. Those of us who have had experience with Islam understand this, just as we understand the difference between snake handlers and people going to church on Sunday morning.
They are just really stupid people in Hollywood. You write them a script, and they say they love it, they absolutely love it. Then they say, 'But doesn't it need a small dog, and an Eskimo, and shouldn't it be set in New Guinea?' And you say, 'But it is a sophisticated romantic comedy set in Paris.'
The great thing about being a print journalist is that you are permitted to duck. Cameramen get killed while the writers are flat on the floor. A war correspondent for the BBC dedicated his memoir to 50 fallen colleagues, and I guarantee you they were all taking pictures. I am only alive because I am such a chicken.
We print journalists are victims of economic forces beyond our control. We were as surprised as everyone else was by the sudden collapse of the reliable reporting market. We had no idea that real news and clear-eyed analysis were being 'bundled' with subprime celebrity gossip, 'U.S. Weekly' derivatives, and Jennifer Aniston/Angelina Jolie swaps.
I grew up going to public school, and they were huge public schools. I went to a school that had 3,200 kids, and I had grade school classes with 40-some kids. Discipline was rigid. Most of the learning was rote. It worked.
Adam Smith pointed out that there were three things that make us more prosperous, in a general sort of way: freedom to pursue our own self-interest; specialization, which he called division of labor; and freedom of trade.
I live in New Hampshire. We're in favor of global warming. Eleven hundred more feet of sea-level rises? I've got beachfront property. You tell us up there, 'By the end of the century, New York City could be underwater,' and we say, 'Your point is?'
Head lice have their own animal-rights group, or may as well. The National Pediculosis Association doesn't exactly advocate letting lice live with dignity, but it does oppose pediculicidal treatments.
Passover is my idea of a perfect holiday. Dear God, when you're handing out plagues of darkness, locusts, hail, boils, flies, lice, frogs, and cattle murrain, and turning the Nile to blood and smiting the firstborn, give me a pass. And tell me when it's over.
Our regulatory bodies strive to create honest dealings, fair trades, and a situation in which no one has an advantage over anyone else. But human beings aren't honest. And all trades are made because one person thinks he's getting the better of the other, and the other person thinks the same.
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.
Of course, no one wants to ban the vote. Voting should remain available for sporting and recreational purposes. But certain types of votes clearly should be curtailed - 'assault votes,' for example, in which the only purpose of the vote is to harm others.
Jimmy Carter was - he still - he remains to this day America's most ex of ex-presidents. You just can't believe that we elected this doofus. He was a bright enough guy and sort of well-meaning. But he was about as prepared to be president of the United States as your goofy old uncle, you know, the one that memorises baseball statistics.
No doubt the ridiculous politicians are right to like politics. They have found careers in which success can be achieved by being ridiculous. Imagine Jimmy Carter or George W. Bush rising to the top of any other profession.
Preachers at black churches are the last people left in the English-speaking world who know the schemes and tropes of classical rhetoric: parallelism, antithesis, epistrophe, synecdoche, metonymy, periphrasis, litotes - the whole bag of tricks.
Writing on a computer makes saving what's been written too easy. Pretentious lead sentences are kept, not tossed. Instead of sitting surrounded by crumpled paper, the computerized writer has his mistakes neatly stored in digital memory.
Kuwait City is not gorgeous, actually, but it's got a kind of Epcot Center thing going for it. It's not pretty. But it's striking, I'll give it that. It's not as over-the-top as Abu Dhabi or Dubai. But nearly.
As a longtime former resident of 15 years in Washington, I wish that everybody would stay off the Mall with their political cause so that we can get out there, you know, and play flag football or Frisbee, or walk the dog or something - you know, which is, you know, what the National Mall should be for, in my personal opinion.
I realised the bohemian life was not for me. I would look around at my friends, living like starving artists, and wonder, 'Where's the art?' They weren't doing anything. And there was so much interesting stuff to do, so much fun to be had... maybe I could even quit renting.
The inherent purpose of American government is let people seek their own goals and to encourage them to be responsible on the various adventures they have on their way to those goals, good, bad, and otherwise.
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.
Medical researchers don't know much about head lice because they don't much care. The reason that they don't much care is, paradoxically, that they know a lot. That is, they know one important thing: there is no evidence that head lice transmit disease.
My wife and I both come from Irish families. There are two kinds of Irish families: the hitting kind and the kidding kind. If you're fortunate - and both of us are - you come from the kidding kind of Irish family.
We loved cars until the '70s or so. Then they became appliances. They turned into motorized cup holders. Most of it has to do with urban sprawl. What began as pleasure ends up in necessity, as so many things do.
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.
We will win an election when all the seats in the House and Senate and the chair behind the desk in the Oval Office and the whole bench of the Supreme Court are filled with people who wish they weren't there.
Banning paper and plastic and making shoppers carry their groceries home in their mouths like dogs is just the thing to make a little tin humanist in the Obama West Wing think he's admiral of the Uzbek Navy.
Sheep farming is heavily subsidized in Great Britain. Without the subsidies, the green grazing in the valley of the River Exe would be gone. The handsome agricultural landscape of which the British are so proud, carefully husbanded since Boudicca's day, would be replaced by natural growth. The most likely growth is real-estate developments.
By the end of the 1950s, American cars were so reliable that their reliability went without saying even in car ads. Thousands of them bear testimony to this today, still running on the roads of Cuba though fueled with nationalized Venezuelan gasoline and maintained with spit and haywire.
Supposedly, summer vacation happens because that's when the kids are home from school, although having the kids home from school is no vacation. And supposedly the kids are home from school because of some vestigial throwback to our agricultural past.
Kabul is a walled city, which sounds romantic except the walls are pre-cast reinforced concrete blast barriers, 10 feet tall and 15 feet long and moved into place with cranes. The walls are topped with sandbags, and the sandbags are topped with guard posts from which gun barrels protrude.
The body is forever teaching us lessons. There are all sorts of things that we can't do, shouldn't do, had better not do very often or do for too long as we get older. The body makes its presence known.
The great majority of Baghdad is a slum - a lot of it's new, but it's still slum. It's usually this concrete-block, one-room design with a door and a window, arranged one-up, one-down, often with a shop with nothing in it on the first floor, and then a one-room apartment above it. There's street after street after street of that stuff.
The subculture of felons is in great vogue among adolescents. Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, and so forth allow us Republicans to say to America's young people, 'We be thugs.' The GOP may capture the youth vote at last.
The job of the president of the United States is to talk to the public, is to explain to them. Now, some presidents talk too much, like Bill Clinton. Some presidents try to talk but don't know how, like George Bush senior.
Being a humorist is not a voluntary thing. You can tell this because in a situation where saying a funny thing will cause a lot of trouble, a humorist will still say the funny thing. No matter how inappropriate.
The minute somebody joins a committee... they immediately suffer from committee brain. They become wildly over-enthusiastic, over-optimistic, over-pessimistic. Committees turn people into idiots, and politics is a committee.
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.
If you ask the government to solve all of your problems, it's a bit like asking your wife to cook and clean, to raise the children, to hold down a second job to help with the family finances, to keep her parents happy and well and keep your parents happy and well, and to also - to do the lawn and clean the gutters.
I think the Baby Boom does have a tendency to get its nose in everything. The Greatest Generation had a better tendency to leave people alone. Of course, they also had a better tendency to hate everybody's guts.
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.
No humorist is under any obligation to provide answers and probably if you were to delve into the literary history of humour it's probably all about not providing answers because the humorist essentially says: this is the way things are.
Public schools helped create the idea of America and inculcate Americans with a few rudiments of knowledge. To judge by that very American item, the Internet, a few rudiments is all anyone cares to have.
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.
The Clinton administration launched an attack on people in Texas because those people were religious nuts with guns. Hell, this country was founded by religious nuts with guns. Who does Bill Clinton think stepped ashore on Plymouth Rock?
Affirmative action makes employers think, 'Black woman nuclear physicist? Hah! Probably let her into Harvard 'cause they were looking for a twofer. Bet she got C's in high school practical math. Give her a job in personnel.'
After all, what is your host's purpose in having a party? Surely not for you to enjoy yourself; if that were their sole purpose, they'd have simply sent champagne and women over to your place by taxi.
In our brief national history we have shot four of our presidents, worried five of them to death, impeached one and hounded another out of office. And when all else fails, we hold an election and assassinate their character.
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.
There are artists with palettes and easels selling the kind of modern art that Soviet art critics used to critique with bulldozers. Judging by the paintings I saw, the Soviets were right the first time.
The commies are the only people on earth who think Star Wars will work. If they're that gullible, maybe we should have held the summit at Atlantic City and let them lose all their missiles playing Keno.
Mankind is supposed to have evolved in the treetops. But I have examined my sense of balance, the prehensility of my various appendages, and my attitude toward standing on anything higher than, say, political principles, and I have concluded that, personally, I evolved in the backseat of a car.
The old woman was not only ugly with the ugliness age brings us all but showed signs of formidable ugliness by birth - pickle-jar chin, mainsail ears and a nose like a trigonometry problem. What's more, she had the deep frown and snit wrinkles that come from a lifetime of bad character.
Oh, God. The Sixties are coming back. Well I've got a 12-gauge double-barreled duck gun chambered for three-inch Magnum shells. And - speaking strictly for this retired hippie and former pinko beatnik - if the Sixties head my way, they won't get past the porch steps. They will be history. Which, for chrissakes, is what they're supposed to be.
Children from the age of five to ten should watch more television. Television depicts adults as rotten SOB's given to fistfights, gunplay, and other mayhem. Kids who believe this about grownups aren't likely to argue about bedtime.
You can learn all about the human condition from covering the crime beat in a big city - you don't need to go to Beirut for that - but a foreign correspondent begins to understand poverty from a different perspective.
The wise traveler [to Beirut] will pack shirts or blouses with ample breast pockets. Reaching inside a jacket for your passport looks too much like going for the draw and puts armed men out of countinence
There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmastime. Mature, responsible grown men wear neckties made of holly leaves and drink alcoholic beverages with raw egg yolks and cottage cheese in them.
Our democracy, our culture, our whole way of life is a spectacular triumph of the blah. Why not have a political convention without politics to nominate a leader who's out in front of nobody? Maybe our national mindlessness is the very thing that keeps us from turning into one of those smelly European countries full of pseudo-reds and crypto-fascists and greens who dress like forest elves.
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.
I have, of all the inglorious things, a malignant hemorrhoid. What color bracelet does one wear for that? And where does one wear it? And what slogan is apropos? Perhaps that slogan can be sewn in needlepoint around the ruffle on a cover for my embarrassing little doughnut buttocks pillow.
The three branches of government number considerably more than three and are not, in any sense, 'branches' since that would imply that there is something they are all attached to besides self-aggrandizement and our pocketbooks. ... Government is not a machine with parts; it's an organism. When does an intestine quit being an intestine and start becoming an asshole?
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.
There is parody, when you make fun of people who are smarter than you; satire, when you make fun of people who are richer than you; and burlesque, when you make fun of both while taking your clothes off.
Anyhow, all mankind's ideas and interests, all human aims and motives, are exhibited, fully formed, in a three-year-old child. The kid is just operating on a smaller scale and lacks the advantage of having made enormous soft-money campaign contributions to political candidates.
Gambling is so pervasive in Nevada that maybe the state should just go the whole hog. There'd be gum machines that dispensed chewing tobacco if you lost. You could gamble for the toilet paper in public bathroom stalls. And fill out Keno cards in an attempt to win cancer therapy at the hospital.
Remember, FDA employees are serious about fear. We pay these people to panic about an iota of rodent hair in our chili, even when the recipe calls for it. FDA employees are first-class agonizers, world champions at losing sleep. When Meryl Streep got hysterical about Alar, they actually checked the apples instead of Meryl's head.
[We're] told cars cause pollution. A 100 years ago city streets were ankle deep in horse excrement. What kind of pollution do you want? Would you rather die of cancer at eighty or typhoid fever at nine?
It takes a lot of weapons to do good works (as Richard the Lionhearted could have told us). And this is not just a Somali problem. We have poverty and deprivation in our own country. Try standing unarmed on a street corner in Compton handing out twenty-dollar bills and see how long you last.
This is the most elaborate and luxurious method of convincing others that you can cook. Take everybody out on your yacht until they're green in the face. Then you can rave for weeks about your sauce marinara and no one will gainsay you..
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.
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.
In general, life is better than it has ever been, and if you think that, in the past, there was some golden age of pleasure and plenty to which you would, if you were able, transport yourself, let me say one single word : Dentistry.
Imagine if all of life were determined by majority rule. Every meal would be a pizza. Every pair of pants, even those in a Brooks Brothers suit, would be stone-washed denim. Celebrity diet and exercise books would be the only thing on the shelves at the library. And - since women are a majority of the population - we'd all be married to Mel Gibson.
Cats are to dogs what modern people are to the people we used to have. Cats are slimmer, cleaner, more attractive, disloyal, and lazy. It's easy to understand why the cat has eclipsed the dog as modern America's favorite poet. People like poets to possess the same qualities they do.
The Tenth Commandment sends a message to socialists, to collectivists, to people who believe that wealth is best obtained by redistribution, and that message is clear and concise . . . Egalitarianism is sinful; it's also cowardly.
You know, if government were a product, selling it would be illegal. ... Government contains impure ingredients - as anybody who's looked at Congress can tell you. ... government practices deceptive advertising. And the merest glance at the federal budget is enough to convict the government of perjury, extortion, and fraud. ... in a nutshell: government should be against the law. Term limits aren't enough. We need jail.
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait is a case of bad men doing wrong things for wicked reasons. This is the full-sized or standard purebred evil and is easily recognized even by moral neophytes. Other malignities-drugs in America, famine in Africa and everything in the Middle East-are more complex. When combating those evils people sometimes have trouble deciding whom to shoot.
Newsmen believe that news is a tacitly acknowledged fourth branch of the federal system. This is why most news about government sounds as if it were federally mandated -- serious, bulky and blandly worthwhile, like a high-fiber diet set in type.
The forces of safety are afoot in the land. I, for one, believe it is a conspiracy - a conspiracy of Safety Nazis shouting "Sieg Health" and seeking to trammel freedom, liberty, and large noisy parties. The Safety Nazis advocate gun control, vigorous exercise, and health foods. The result can only be a disarmed, exhausted, and half-starved population ready to acquiesce to dictatorship of some kind.
I believe that Western civilization, after some disgusting glitches, has become almost civilized. I believe it is our first duty to protect that civilization. I believe it is our second duty to improve it. I believe it is our third duty to extend it if we can.
Government usually doesn't work. It doesn't work because it is political. People who are wise, good, smart, skillful, or hardworking don't need politics, they have jobs. The difference between the political process and an honest life is the difference between parading around waving picket signs while hollering catcalls in front of the White House and getting up in the morning to go make a living.
The Greenpeace booth at all the rock and roll shows nowadays are akin to the old sorcerers who used to stand in the middle of villages warning of danger, 'When night wolf swallows mother moon, there will be great famine.'
America is not a wily, sneaky nation. We don't think that way. We don't think much at all, thank God. Start thinking and pretty soon you get ideas, and then you get idealism, and the next thing you know you've got ideology, with millions dead in concentration camps and gulags.
Name me, if you can, a better feeling than the one you get when you've half a bottle of Chivas in the bag with a gram of coke up your nose and a teenage lovely pulling off her tube top in the next seat over while you're doing a hundred miles an hour in a suburban side street.
Creative writing teachers should be purged until every last instructor who has uttered the words 'Write what you know' is confined to a labor camp. Please, talented scribblers, write what you don't. The blind guy with the funny little harp who composed The Iliad, how much combat do you think he saw?
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.
The only really good vegetable is Tabasco sauce. Put Tabasco sauce in everything. Tabasco sauce is to bachelor cooking what forgiveness is to sin. The next best vegetable is the jalapeno pepper. It has the virtue of turning salads into practical jokes.
The Arab peoples possess an ancient and highly developed civilization that is in many ways more sophisticated than our own. For instance, they invented algebra. And this is why we have to go to war with Saddam Hussein this minute and bomb the shish kebab out of him before he invents trig and chemistry and the whole of America flunks high school.
The purpose of a funeral service is to comfort the living. It is important at a funeral to display excessive grief. This will show others how kind-hearted and loving you are and their improved opinion of you will be very comforting.
There's no telling what might have happened to our defense budget if Saddam Hussein hadn't invaded Kuwait that August and set everyone gearing up for World War II. Can we count on Saddam Hussein to come along every year and resolve our defense-policy debates? Given the history of the Middle East, it's possible.
Passover is my idea of a perfect holiday. Dear God, when you're handing out plagues of darkness, locusts, hail, boils, flies, lice, frogs, and cattle murrain, and turning the Nile to blood, and smiting firstborn, give me a pass, and tell me when it's over.
If a journalist shows a facility for praise he's liable to be offered a job in public relations or advertising and the next thing you know he's got a big office, a huge salary and is living in a fine home with a lovely wife and swell kids - another career blown to hell.
When a couple decides to divorce, they should inform both sets of parents before having a party and telling all their friends. This is not only courteous but practical. Parents may be very willing to pitch in with comments, criticism, and malicious gossip of their own to help the divorce along.
The Vietnamese Hoa were merchants and manufacturers. They were very successful and thus, according to the logic of Marxism, responsible for society's failures. The Hoa suffered the same fate as the pizza parlour in Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing except at the hands of the world's fourth largest army instead of a small, petulant movie director.
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.
[T]he Clinton administration launched an attack on people in Texas because those people were religious nuts with guns. Hell, this country was founded by religious nuts with guns. Who does Bill Clinton think stepped ashore on Plymouth Rock? Peace Corps volunteers? Or maybe the people in Texas were attacked because of child abuse. But, if child abuse was the issue, why didn't Janet Reno tear-gas Woody Allen?
The poor of the world cannot be made rich by the redistribution of wealth. Poverty can't be eliminated by punishing people who've escaped poverty, taking their money and giving it as a reward to people who have failed to escape.
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.
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.
The French are sawed-off sissies who eat snails and slugs and cheese that smells like people's feet. Utter cowards who force their own children to drink wine, they gibber like baboons even when you try to speak to them in their own wimpy language.
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.
The anti-individualist enemies that Ayn Rand battled are still the enemy, but they've shifted their line of attack. Political collectivists are no longer much interested in taking things away from the wealthy and creative.
The U.S. Constitution is less than a quarter the length of the owner's manual for a 1998 Toyota Camry, and yet it has managed to keep 300 million of the world's most unruly, passionate and energetic people safe, prosperous and free.
It is important to remember when making jokes about women, that they are not a minority. They weren't captured on another continent and brought here in leg-irons (funny shoes, yes, but not leg-irons) and Hitler didn't blame them for Germany's loss in WWI. Therefore, you can make any kind of fun of them you want.
Global warming is a fact. Now it's up to liberals to make it a reality. Hence there is crucial importance in preventing powerful, greedy free market forces from getting in the way of worsening storms and rising sea levels. The Kyoto Accord is a good first step.
Modern elites live in bubbles of liberal affluence like Ann Arbor, Brookline, the Upper West Side, Palo Alto, or Chevy Chase. These places used to have impoverished neighborhoods nearby, but the poor people got chased out by young singles living in group homes, hipsters, and urban homesteading gay couples.
In Henry Adams, I discovered not only the prototype of the modern thinker but also someone who is more interesting: a viper-toothed, puling, supercilious crank, thwarted in ambition, aging gracelessly, mad at the cosmos, and ashamed of his own jejune ideals. He is nevertheless very dear to me.
Upbeat is for people who want to feel good about their cause: the reformers, the progressives, the revolutionaries, the utopians, the collectivists, and the rest of the altruistic scum of the earth. Why do these people want to feel good? They want to feel good in order to convince themselves that they are good.
I'm on Medicare now. If I go and have a big operation, it costs me nothing. It should cost me a little. I'm not rich, but I can afford a few grand if I have to have my appendix taken out. I can pitch in a little bit.
As a nation, Kuwait has been, arguably, free of freedom itself. Claimed in turn by Constantinople, Riyadh, and Baghdad, Kuwait has survived by playing Turks off Persians, Arabs off one another, and the English off everyone.
It could be that all awful dictators are frustrated artists - Mao with his poetry and Mussolini with his monuments. Stalin was once a journalistic hack, and I can personally testify to how frustrated they are. Pol Pot left a very edgy photo collection behind. And Osama seems quite interested in video.
The car provided Americans with an enviable standard of living. You could not get a steady job with high wages and health and retirement benefits working on the General Livestock Corporation assembly line putting udders on cows.
Pete Seeger is a modest, unassuming, cheerful, and kind-natured man. He's a good folk singer, if you can stand folk singing. And he's such an excellent banjo player that you almost don't wish you had a pair of wire cutters.
Tel Aviv is new, built on the sand dunes north of Jaffa in the 1890s, about the same time Miami was founded. The cities bear a resemblance in size, site, climate, and architecture, which ranges from the bland to the fancifully bland.
The great apologist has to have lived large and wild. If he's going to kiss the world's boo-boos and make up, he'd better plant some bruises first. A master apologizer has to be a Lord Byron, a Rick in Casablanca, a Lee Atwater, anyway.
There's a love of rhetorical skill in the Muslim world. Osama bin Laden doesn't just go on tape cassettes and say, 'America sucks.' He recites poetry; he finds things that 'America sucks' rhymes with.
The idea of a stag hunt evokes chivalry - knights in jerkins and hose, ladies on sidesaddles with wimples and billowing dresses, a white stag symbolizing something-or-other, and Robin Hood getting in the way. An actual stag hunt is more like a horseback meeting of a county planning commission.
The prevalence of mobile homes does not correspond with the prevalence of poverty, or with much of anything else. All that can be confidently said about America's mobile homes is that they are massed in places where you wouldn't want to be in one. Florida's mobile homes lie athwart the path of hurricanes. Georgia's are in the way of tornadoes.
I spend my days kneeling in the muck of language, feeling around for gooey verbs, nouns, and modifiers that I can squash together to make a blob of a sentence that bears some likeness to reason and sense.
Funding for the original manned Voyager Mars Program was scratched in 1968, before humans had gotten out of Low Earth Orbit. Mid-'60s plans for a Venus fly-by with astronauts actually flying by it met the same fate.
New Hampshire polling data are unreliable because, when you call the Granite State's registered Republicans and independents in the middle of dinner and ask them who they're going to vote for, they have a mouth full of mashed potatoes and you can't understand what they say.
Like most sensible people, you probably lost interest in modern art about the time that Julian Schnabel was painting broken pieces of the crockery that his wife had thrown at him for painting broken pieces of crockery instead of painting the bathroom and hall.
Why do elites hate the poor? It's xenophobia. They don't know any poor people - except their off-the-books Brazilian nanny and illegal immigrant cleaning lady from Upper Revolta who don't speak English.
Northwest Ohio is flat. There isn't much up. The land is so flat that a child from Toledo is under the impression that the direction hills go is down. Sledding is done down from street level into creek beds and road cuts.
A lot of newspaper columns used to be written in a rat-a-tat-tat, fast-paced style - and they tended to be funny. They were a little relief from the grimmer, grayer parts of the newspaper, and one of the best people at doing this was Will Rogers.
If you spend 72 hours in a place you've never been, talking to people whose language you don't speak about social, political, and economic complexities you don't understand, and you come back as the world's biggest know-it-all, you're a reporter. Either that or you're President Obama.
Toledo is better than exciting, it's happy. Because nothing is more conducive to unhappiness than taking yourself seriously, and taking yourself seriously is difficult when you're baseball team is the Mud Hens.
Like it or not, I've come to appreciate soccer. Any kid can play, which fits with the inclusive agenda of progressive schools. Although the corollary to 'any kid can play' is that every kid must play because there is an iron grip to the warm hug of progressive inclusionism.
We have the British motor industry as a role model for what happens when you try to save an industrial dinosaur. Britain was the first country to industrialise and the first to de-industrialise. We should learn from this.
The importance of local governance may not be obvious to an America accustomed to treating city and state downfalls with doses of federal comeuppance. Sometimes there's a reason for that - the Civil War. More often, all reasoning seems absent - No Child Left Behind.
Even the dumber parts of our government are not run by idiots. These are ordinary people like us, doing a job. By and large, they're trying to do it as well as they can. Or at least as often as people in the private sector try to do as well as they can.
I understand Twitter has become popular among politicians. This technology allows them to stay in perpetual contact with their constituents. The electorate now has instant information about what politicians have been up to.
Liberals want to live downtown. All over America - in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Georgetown - there are crowds of liberals living in the gritty, ugly, dirty neighborhoods sensible people are trying to flee.
The difference between American parties is actually simple. Democrats are in favor of higher taxes to pay for greater spending, while Republicans are in favor of greater spending, for which the taxpayers will pay.
One of the enduring problems with certain societies in the world - and this is certainly true of a lot of places in the Middle East - is that the capacity for self-governance and self-organizing just isn't there. It has to do with history.