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P.J. O'Rourke
1947 -

Author, columnist, and humourist, former editor-in-chief of National Lampoon Magazine, now Foreign Affairs Editor for Rolling Stone Magazine. Author of the bestselling books Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut (1995), All the Trouble in the World, Parliament of Whores (1991), Give War a Chance, Republican Party Reptile, Holiday's in Hell, Modern Manners, Bachelors' Home Companion, Eat the Rich and The CEO of the Sofa (2001). An unofficial website celebrating his work can be found here.

Books by P.J. O'Rourke
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All the Trouble in the World (1995)
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Give War a Chance (1993)
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Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the U.S. Government (1992)
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The CEO of the Sofa (2001)
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Click here for an essay by P.J. O'Rourke
Some kinds of stupidity cannot be faked.

2001 - his review of Hillary Clinton's It Takes a Village (1995) in his book The CEO of the Sofa
The college idealists who fill the ranks of the environmental movement seem willing to do absolutely anything to save the biosphere, except take science courses and learn something about it.

Government is not a machine with parts; it's an organism.

1991 - from Parliament of Whores
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.

1991 - from Parliament of Whores
The grave worries facing the world today mostly don't have solutions. That is, they don't have solutions outside ourselves. We can't vote our troubles away. Or mail them to Washington, either. We can't give fifty dollars to the Sierra Club, read Douglas Coupland, and sing the Captain Planet theme song and set everything right. Instead we have to accept the undramatic and often extremely boring duties of working hard, exercising self-control, taking care of ourselves, our families, and our neighbors, being kind, and practicing as much private morality as we can stand without popping.

1994 - from All The Trouble in the World
The source of contention between conservatives and liberals, the point at which the real fight begins, is when liberals say, 'Government has enormous power; let's use that power to make things good.' It's the wrong tool for the job. The liberal is trying to fix my wristwatch with a ball peen hammer.

The principle feature of American liberalism is sanctimoniousness. By loudly denouncing all bad things - war and hunger and date rape - liberals testify to their own terrific goodness. More important, they promote themselves to membership in a self-selecting elite of those who care deeply about such things... It's a kind of natural aristocracy, and the wonderful thing about this aristocracy is that you don't have to be brave, smart, strong or even lucky to join it, you just have to be liberal.

When government quits being something we use only in an emergency and becomes the principal source of aid and assistance in our society, then the size, expense and power of government are greatly increased.

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.

May 6, 1993 - from a speech to the Cato Institute, reprinted in Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut
When those who are against conservative policies don't have sufficient opposition arguments, they call love of freedom 'selfish.' Of course it is - in the sense that breathing is selfish. But because you want to breathe doesn't mean you want to suck the breath out of every person you encounter.

Our democracy, our culture, our whole way of life is a spectacular triumph of the blah.

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

1991 - from Parliament of Whores
At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child - miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats.

from Give War A Chance
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.

... charity is an axiom of conservatism. Charity is one of the great responsibilities of freedom. But, in order for us to be responsible - and therefore free - that responsibility must be personal.

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.

By observing the progress of mankind, we can see that the things that are good for everyone are the things that have increased the accountability of the individual, the respect for the individual and the power of the individual to master his own fate.

What I discovered in Somalia is a place where there was no shortage of food ... There was a shortage of public order. There was a shortage of a social system to provide food for people who were powerless. Rice was selling in Mogadishu at 10 cents a kilo -- the cheapest rice in the world because of all the rice that had been donated. The problem was that if you didn't have a gun in Mogadishu you didn't have 10 cents. It didn't matter how cheap or readily available the rice was. There were people with guns taking it away from the people who didn't have guns.

Oct. 20, 1994 - from an interview published in Eye Magazine
Money is preferable to politics. It is the difference between being free to be anybody you want and being free to vote for anybody you want. And money is more effective than politics both in solving problems and in providing individual independence. To rid ourselves of all the trouble in the world we need to make money. And to make money we need to be free. But, oh, the trouble caused by freedom and money.

1994 - from All The Trouble in the World
Liberals are the ditch carp of democracy.

What is this oozing behemoth, this fibrous tumor, this monster of power and expense hatched from the simple human desire for civic order? How did an allegedly free people spawn a vast, rampant cuttlefish of dominion with its tentacles in every orifice of the body politic?

1991 - from Parliament of Whores
A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them.

1991 - from Parliament of Whores
Economics is an entire scientific discipline of not knowing what you're talking about.

1998 - from Eat the Rich, Grove/Atlantic
Wealth is, for most people, the only honest and likely path to liberty. With money comes power over the world. Men are freed from drudgery, women from exploitation. Businesses can be started, homes built, communities formed, religions practiced, educations pursued. But liberals aren't very interested in such real and material freedoms. They have a more innocent -- not to say toddlerlike -- idea of freedom. Liberals want the freedom to put anything into their mouths, to say bad words and to expose their private parts in art museums.

from Give War A Chance
The difference between corporations and governments is governments have a monopoly on force. It's a lot easier to vote with your feet or your wallet than it is to change a government with your vote.

Nov. 11, 1996 - quoted in the Toronto Sun
We've been nice to the liberals for too long. They're thugs. The liberal dream is to control people, to oppress and exploit them for some 'higher' goal. ... [L]iberals are always championing laws and social programs which are theoretically good for a class of people while being provably disastrous for people themselves: racial quotas, busing, welfare, my goddamned taxes. ... The core of the liberal belief is that the mass is more important than the man.

1994 - from "The Carribean Refugee Crisis", published in The American Spectator Magazine
Making charity part of the political system confuses the mission of government. ... government works best when it is given limited and well-defined tasks to perform.

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.

In an egalitarian world everything will be controlled by politics, and politics requires no merit.

To the extent that responsibility should be shared and merged, in a free society it should be shared and merged on the same basis as political power, which means starting with the individual. Responsibility must proceed from the bottom up - never from the top down...

We Americans are an unprincipled nation, when you come down to it. Not that we're bad or anything. It's just that it's hard for us to pay attention to abstract matters when we have so many concrete matters--cellular phones, ski boats, salad shooters, trail bikes, StairMasters, snow boards, pasta-making machines, four-door sport utility vehicles, palmcorders, rollerblade skates and CD players for our cars--to occupy us.

1991 - from Parliament of Whores
I hate political correctness because it's founded on the idea that by means of language you can escape truth -- that if you simply give a different name to something you've somehow changed it. It is a very childlike idea.

Oct. 20, 1994 - from Eye Magazine, Toronto
The decision that politicians are wiser, kinder and more honest than we are and that they, not we, should control the dispensation of eleemosynary goods and services is, in itself, a diminishment of the individual and proof that we're jerks.

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free.

May 6, 1993 - from a speech to the Cato Institute, reprinted in Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut
The fact that nothing's happening never stops a real reporter.

1994 - from "Make Lunch, Not War", published in Rolling Stone Magazine
You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money.

Our government gets more than thugs in a protection racket demand, more even than discarded first wives of famous rich men receive in divorce court. Then this government, swollen and arrogant with pelf, goes butting into our business. It checks the amount of tropical oils in our snack foods, tells us what kind of gasoline we can buy for our cars and how fast we can drive them, bosses us around about retirement, education and what's on TV; counts our noses and asks fresh questions about who's still living at home and how many bathrooms we have; decides whether the door to our office or shop should have steps or a wheelchair ramp; decrees the gender and complexion of the people to be hired there; lectures us on safe sex; dictates what we can sniff, smoke, and swallow; and waylays young men, ships them to distant places and tells them to shoot people they don't even know.

1991 - from Parliament of Whores
[In Mexico, a man] told me about a village up in the mountains so poor that the Indians used to say, 'All we have are rocks.' Then a corporation from Mexico City came and said the rocks could be turned into agricultural lime. The corporation offered to pay the village a large sum. The Indians got together and yakked and yakked. After weeks of deliberation they announced they were refusing the corporation's offer. 'All we have are rocks,' they said. 'And if we sell those we won't have anything.'

1994 - from "Make Lunch, Not War", published in Rolling Stone Magazine
There are just two rules of governance in a free society: Mind your own business. Keep your hands to yourself.

from a speech to the Cato Institute
Term limits aren't enough. We need jail.

May 6, 1993 - from a speech to the Cato Institute, reprinted in Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut
Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy the whores are us.

1991 - from Parliament of Whores
You can't get good Chinese takeout in China and Cuban cigars are rationed in Cuba. That's all you need to know about communism.

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.

May 6, 1993 - from a speech to the Cato Institute, reprinted in Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut
Idiots are blind to the coercive power of government. Bigots are blind to everything else.

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: Go to hell! It's as simple as that.

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

[Decriminalizing drugs] We won't dispassionately investigate or rationally debate which drugs do what damage and whether or how much of that damage is the result of criminalization. We'd rather work ourselves into a screaming fit of Puritanism and then go home and take a pill.

1991 - from Parliament of Whores
Liberalism ... is ultimately about the primitive, ignorant, tribal idea of collective life. And about human sacrifice - liberals like that even better. The will, the conscience, the very existence of the person must be destroyed for the benefit of the mob. Liberals have the same morals as Fascists, Communists, Crips, and Bloods.

1994 - from "The Carribean Refugee Crisis", published in The American Spectator Magazine
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

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. Well, who isn't?

from Parliament of Whores
Everybody knows how to raise children, except the people who have them.