American Culture


WOLF BLITZER: In the Gallup poll, the last one, only 24 percent of the American public thinks Congress is doing a good job.
Rep. NANCY PELOSI: Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t approve of the way Congress is ending the war in Iraq myself. And that’s because of the 60-vote barrier in the United States Senate. But don’t mistake, expert that you are — your audience should not mistake the rating for Congress as the rating for the Democrats. We’re as high as we’ve ever been. We’re up 53 percent to 30 something for the Republicans in terms of favorability of a political party in the Congress.

— Sept. 25 exchange between CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi regarding the approval rating of Democrats vs. Republicans in Congress, about which an Aug. 21 Gallup poll notes: “The nine-point drop in Congress’ job approval rating from [July] to [August] has come exclusively from Democrats and independents, with Democrats’ ratings dropping 11 points (from 32% to 21%) and independents’ ratings dropping 13 points (from 30% to 17%). Republicans’ 18% approval rating is unchanged from [July].” [emphasis added]

Now, get on that plane and enjoy United’s nonstop service to Paris with seats that recline a full 180 degrees.

— a suggested rewrite for the ending of the film “Casablanca” as Rick parts with Ilsa by “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator and executive producer Phil Rosenthal, complaining at a House Telecommunications Subcommittee hearing about the 4,000 product placements in network TV shows in 2006 that led to marketing driving plot lines rather than the creative instincts of writers.

Q: Mr. President, for Republicans seeking election next year are you an asset or a liability?
THE PRESIDENT: Strong asset. (Laughter.) Ann.
Q: Can I follow?
THE PRESIDENT: No. (Laughter.) I knew I made a mistake calling on you in the first place. (Laughter.)

— exchange between reporter and President Bush at a Sept. 20 White House press conference.

I know that we’re different not only within nations but among nations as well. Those differences among the various nations must be respected. But what better among political leader, presidents or with social movement leaders than coming together to think about how we can support life and humankind. It’s my sense that in this new millennium, it should be the millennium of life. And from here or from Cuba, Venezuela, Europe, Africa, we need to create and come together to save lives and to save humankind. In recent days at the United Nations I have heard a lot of talk about global warming, climate change, but they don’t say why, and where’s all that coming from. There appear to be few political leaders or movements that say where is all this coming from. Perhaps from Western culture. Perhaps excesses in relation to industry. Or perhaps because of excessive luxury, excessive consumption. If we all think about the humankind, we need to figure out how we can change that situation. And I personally know that there are presidents and countries who send troops abroad to save lives, but there are also countries and presidents who send troops abroad to take away lives. If we compare these two things and weigh these two things, certainly we’re going to come to the conclusion that these policies must change and that in this millennium the key guideline must be to save lives. And please don’t consider me to be part of the axis of evil.

— Bolivian President Evo Morales on The Daily Show, Sept. 26.

Above all else, we Americans must understand that the goal of war is to achieve a specific purpose for the nation. In this respect, the military is simply a tool of statecraft, one that must work in tandem with diplomacy, economic suasion, intelligence and other instruments of U.S. power. How tragic it is to see old men who are unwilling to talk to potential adversaries but seem so ready to dispatch young people to fight and die. … The best war is the one that doesn’t have to be fought, and the best military is the one capable and versatile enough to deter the next war in the first place.

— Retired general and former presidential candidate Wesley K. Clark, writing in the Sept. 16 Washington Post.

Q: Do you think there’s a risk of a recession? How do you rate that?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, you need to talk to economists. I think I got a B in Econ 101. I got an A, however, in keeping taxes low — (laughter) — and being fiscally responsible with the people’s money. We’ve submitted a plan that will enable this budget to become balanced by 2012, so long as Congress learns to set priorities. And we can balance the budget without raising taxes.

— President Bush’s assessment of the economy during his a Sept. 20 White House press conference.

Look, candidates who go out and say that the United States is vulnerable to attack and we’re going to make sure our professionals have the tools necessary to protect us are going to do well. Candidates who go out and say that helping these Iraqis realize the benefits of democracy are going to do well. Candidates who go out and say that it’s very important for the United States to have clear principles when it comes to foreign policy, they’ll do well. Candidates who say we’re not going to raise your taxes will do well.

— President Bush advice on what candidates will do well in the 2008 election, given during his a Sept. 20 White House press conference.

Journalists and NGOs in Egypt and elsewhere should be permitted to carry out their peaceful work in a hospitable environment free from fear of harassment, reprisal, intimidation, and discrimination. A free press and a vibrant civil society are cornerstones for any democratic society, and we urge the Egyptian Government to expand protections for journalists and lift the restrictions on NGO activities, including limits on organizations’ ability to accept foreign funding. Restricting the political space of NGOs and public debate only limits a society’s own growth.

— from a Sept. 24 statement by White House press secretary Dana Perino on the Egyptian government’s closure of a human rights non-governmental organization as well as the conviction and sentencing of several newspaper editors.

I think the odds are very high, if we ended up with that level of pledges, I don’t see as a citizen how you could turn that down. How could you turn to all of your fellow citizens — if they walk in and say, ‘You know, we think you’re the person who ought to debate Senator Clinton, and we think you’re the person who can actually explain where we ought to go,’ how could you turn to them and say, ‘Well, I’m too busy?’

— former House Speaker Newt Gingrich telling Fox News on Sept. 23 that he’d run for president if supporters pledge an initial $30 million for his campaign.

The financial reports filed after Sept. 30 will set the tone for the last 100 days before people start voting and caucusing. The numbers will be a signal to voters in the crucial early states that our movement has the support it takes to win.

— from a letter to supporters from presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, who has scheduled “more than 12 fund-raisers this week, from a $25-a-person rally last night in Portland, Me., to a large weekend event sponsored by Sheila Johnson, the first female black billionaire in the United States and a co-founder of Black Entertainment Television.” Sen. Obama raised $58,912,520 over the first six months of this year.

Nike is aware of the growing health issues facing Native Americans. We are stepping up our commitment … to elevate the issue of Native American health and wellness.

—Sam McCracken, manager of Nike’s Native American Business program. Nike plans to sell at least 10,000 pairs a new shoe, the Air Native N7, at $42.80 wholesale to raise $200,000 for Native American health programs.

Apparently shoe companies are now ethnically segregating their sneakers. And proud of it. … Personally, I feel discriminated against. There are, to my knowledge, no Nike Airs designed for short, non-practicing Jewish women who have sensitive metatarsophalangeal joints.

— Marni Soupcoff, a member of The National Post editorial board and a contributing editor for The Iconoclast, writing Sept. 26 in The National Post.

We do it as a courtesy to the aldermen.

—Mike Lufrano, community relations vice president of the Tribune Co.-owned Chicago Cubs, explaining why the Cubs offered members of the city council — and state legislators — a special deal on playoff tickets in apparent violation of the Tribune Co.’s code of ethics.

Quotabull is a weekly feature of Scholars & Rogues appearing Thursdays.