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P. J. O'Rourke Quotes



A hat should be taken off when you greet a lady and left off for the rest of your life. Nothing looks more stupid than a hat.

A humorist doesn't really do that much note-taking.

A very quiet and tasteful way to be famous is to have a famous relative. Then you can not only be nothing, you can do nothing too.

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.

All change is bad. But sometimes it has to be done.

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

America wasn't founded so that we could all be better. America was founded so we could all be anything we damned well pleased.

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.

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.

Because of their size, parents may be difficult to discipline properly.

Children must be considered in a divorce considered valuable pawns in the nasty legal and financial contest that is about to ensue.

Cleanliness becomes more important when godliness is unlikely.

Crazy old people are our entire source of polling information.

Earnestness is stupidity sent to college.

Even very young children need to be informed about dying. Explain the concept of death very carefully to your child. This will make threatening him with it much more effective.

Everybody knows how to raise children, except the people who have them.

Family love is messy, clinging, and of an annoying and repetitive pattern, like bad wallpaper.

Feeling good about government is like looking on the bright side of any catastrophe. When you quit looking on the bright side, the catastrophe is still there.

Finland is a rich country. What have they got? They got Nokia phones and plywood. How'd they get so rich? Because they're free.

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.

Fortunately, I'm married to someone who's a pretty excellent parent!

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

Gossip is what you say about the objects of flattery when they aren't present.

Government proposes, bureaucracy disposes. And the bureaucracy must dispose of government proposals by dumping them on us.

Hubris is one of the great renewable resources.

Humans are the only animals that have children on purpose with the exception of guppies, who like to eat theirs.

I do have to travel a lot for speaking engagements.

I don't even know which end of a computer one is supposed to gaze into. I've never used a computer.

I like making things. I have a wood shop at home. I am a terrible carpenter but I love doing it.

I like to think of my behavior in the sixties as a "learning experience." Then again, I like to think of anything stupid I've done as a "learning experience." It makes me feel less stupid.

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

I read good. I was an English major.

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.

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.

I write because I like to make things and the only things I am good at making things with are words.

I'm a political conservative.

I'm a rather decisive type.

I'm old enough to remember when the air over American cities was a lot dirtier than it is now.

I'm really tired of virtue.

Ideology, politics and journalism, which luxuriate in failure, are impotent in the face of hope and joy.

If government were a product, selling it would be illegal.

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.

If you say a modern celebrity is an adulterer, a pervert and a drug addict, all it means is that you've read his autobiography.

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.

It's better to make fun of yourself because you've always got someone around to make fun of, and they can't sue you.

Let's reintroduce corporal punishment in the schools - and use it on the teachers.

Little islands of human happiness, peace, and prosperity are so exceptional at this point in history that I'm not even sure we can draw lessons from them.

Making fun of born-again Christians is like hunting dairy cows with a high powered rifle and scope.

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.

Never be unfaithful to a lover, except with your wife.

Never fight an inanimate object.

Never wear anything that panics the cat.

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.

Nobody likes insurance companies, especially health insurance companies.

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.

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.

People think the free market is a philosophy, they think that it is a creed. It is none of those things. Free market is a bathroom scale, it is a measuring tape, it's simply a measurement.

People will tell you anything but what they do is always the truth.

Political systems are run by self-selecting politicians. We don't draft people; it's not jury duty.

Politics are for foreigners with their endless wrongs and paltry rights. Politics are a lousy way to get things done. Politics are, like God's infinite mercy, a last resort.

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.

Satire doesn't effect change.

Seriousness is stupidity sent to college.

Soldiers are not policemen, and it's very unfair, even for those soldiers who have some police training, to burden them with police duties. It's not what they're trained for, or equipped for.

Something is worth what somebody will pay for it. Nothing else, nothing more, nothing less.

Southern California is a nice place, if you could cut out the show-business cancer. It just keeps spreading.

Staying married may have long-term benefits. You can elicit much more sympathy from friends over a bad marriage than you ever can from a good divorce.

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 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?

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.

The good news is that, according to the Obama administration, the rich will pay for everything. The bad news is that, according to the Obama administration, you're rich.

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.

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

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.

The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.

The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be drunk. This drunkenness culminates on New Year's Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you're married to.

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

There are plenty of problems in the world, and doubtless climate change - or whatever the currently voguish phrase for it all is - certainly is one of them. But it's low on my list.

There is one thing women can never take away from men. We die sooner.

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.

There isn't much room for an outsider point of view in print any more.

There's a certain kind of behavior in the Arab world that, to me, resembles the way young men behave when there is no significant influence from women in their lives.

There's one more terrifying fact about old people: I'm going to be one soon.

There's something about Marxism that brings out warts; the only kind of growth this economic system encourages.

We need a government, alas, because of the nature of humans.

What would annoy the most people most often? That is the true left-wing test of government intervention.

Whatever it is that the government does, sensible Americans would prefer that the government does it to somebody else. This is the idea behind foreign policy.

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

Who, other than a crazy person, does anything besides hang up on a robo-call? Any call, any person, anywhere, under any circumstances.

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.

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

You don't despair about something like the Middle East, you just do the best you can.

You know your children are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and refuse to tell you where they're going.

You may be surprised to discover you're rich, especially if you're broke.

Zero-sum thinking is an obsession of mine, but mostly in economics.
P. J. O'Rourke, American Comedian





P. J. O'Rourke Biography:

Profession: Comedian
Nationality: American
Born: November 14, 1947

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