Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Don't Vote - It Just Encourages the Bastards by P.J. O'Rourke

Don't Vote It Just Encourages the Bastards
Somewhere in my online travels, I ran across a mention of P.J. O'Rourke's book, and thought it sounded interesting. I've never read anything by him before, but I think I might have to make a habit of it. O'Rourke has been a journalist covering politics for many years, and his take on things in this book is savage, biting, and often spot-on.

You may need to turn off your obscenity meter while you're reading it, as it's about as irreverent as anything I've read since Rape of the A*P*E*, by Allan Sherman, about the sexual revolution and its aftermath. Politics is a dirty game, and O'Rourke doesn't seem to mind getting down and talking dirty.

You can't take all of it too seriously, as the author doesn't, and has some pithy commentare about statement by the founding fathers, such as "Tom Paine...exhorted us to 'receive the fugitive and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.' Calling America an asylum may have been a poor choice of words, or not." He has some great sarcastic bits, like "Science is deterministic and its special needs stepsister social science is not." Special needs stepsister? Is that a politically incorrect image for you, or what?

You'll forgive me if I continue to highlight some great quotes from the book.

"Freedom of speech is important - if you have anything to say. I've checked the Internet; nobody does."

He quotes Adam Smith, in a speech, "Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice." How many countries around the world can say that they've enjoyed long periods of all three? Does it make you think about the plight of third world nations a little differently. I don't know a whole lot about taxes in Somalia, but peace and justice left that place to go on world tour a long long time ago.

Speaking of irreverence, he puts a little different slant on some events from Exodus (the biblical version, not Leon Uris') when he's talking about committees. "Moses goes to a business conference with God and the next thing you know, 'the people gathered themselves together' And someone says, 'All in favor of worshipping a golden calf...'"

We've all heard our kids whine at some point about how "things aren't fair" right? O'Rourke replies to his daughter, "Honey, you're cute. That's not fair. You're smart. That's not fair. You were born in the United States of America. That's not fair. Darling, you have better get down on your knees and pray to God that things don't start getting fair for you."

O'Rourke seems to have a pretty libertarian slant on things, and he tears into politicians from both major parties. The general idea is that we, the people, have allowed the government train to run out of control for far too long, and it's going to take a massive effort to stop it from rolling right over the top of us, our rights, and our freedoms. The book bogs down a bit towards the end, as I think, like most of us, O'Rourke doesn't really know how to stop this thing, but he's hoping that working together, we all can.

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