American Culture


I believe my current participation could be a distraction.

— major league baseball pitcher and accused steroids and HGH cheat Roger Clemens, in withdrawing from a scheduled appearance at an “event, which takes place largely at Disney Hollywood Studios, and lets fans interact with athletes and ESPN personalities and watch live ESPN programming”; Feb. 20.

I’m very excited about watching this game. I do want to thank your coaches. Thanks for coaching. Thanks for teaching people the importance of teamwork. I like baseball a lot, so thanks for teaching them how to play baseball, too.

— from President Bush’s remarks at a “tee ball” game between the Little Dragons and the Little Saints at Ghana International School in Accra, Ghana; Feb. 20.

— the lead image on the home page of The Washington Post at 4:28 p.m. (EST) Feb. 22; it promotes a story on “Fashion Week” in Milan.

Students of color do appear to be the target.

— Jana Brown, spokeswoman for the St. Paul’s School, after many black students received threatening letters bearing their photos from the school’s internal face book with the words “bang bang get out of here” written below the photo; Feb. 21.

The more optimistic candidate won nine of the 10 elections from 1948 to 1984, according to Martin Seligman, the pooh-bah of the positive-psychology movement. More recent elections have been spottier, but the pattern holds: All things being equal, voters choose the more optimistic candidate. … Being optimistic helps candidates in two ways. Optimists are able to persevere in times of adversity, so perhaps optimistic candidates are elected because they’re able to weather setbacks during the grueling primary season. But there is also, of course, something about an optimistic candidate that voters find irresistible. Psychologists have found that we tend to like more positive people — no surprise there — so that might explain why we vote for the more optimistic candidate.

— Eric Weiner, author of “The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World,” in a Washington Post commentary headlined “Political Prozac: Why Republicans Are So Darn Happy”; Feb. 9.

— the lead image on the home page of The New York Times’ Web site at 1:55 p.m. (EST), Feb. 22; it promotes “T Magazine“: “An interview with Oscar winner Charlize Theron, above; Cathy Horyn inside the growing Comme des Garçons empire; and new names to watch and to drop.”

Sharper Image is in a severe liquidity crisis.

— Sharper Image’s chief financial officer, Rebecca Roedell, in a bankruptcy court filing, saying the company has suffered “from increased competition, narrowing margins, litigation, lower consumer and market confidence, tighter credit from suppliers, and poorly performing stores” and from “‘negative publicity’ from the litigation involving its Ionic Breeze air purifiers”; Feb. 20.

[I]t looks like it may be anointed the priciest property in America.

— The New York Sun, reporting on bids for the General Motors Building, a 50-story marble tower that overlooks Central Park, for more than $3 billion — which works out to about $1,578 a square foot.

We absolutely think this is going to change the industry.

— Michael Pilot, the head of sales for NBC, on NBC’s decision to scrap fall show debuts and announce a 52-week schedule in April; Feb. 20.

Why not? I want to look back in 20 years and feel like I looked hot on my wedding day.

— Natasha DaSilva, 26, on her wedding gown, about which a New York Times story on recent bridal fashions says: “Cut away at the rear to reveal a tattoo at the small of her back, the dress suggested a languorous night in the honeymoon suite”; Feb. 21; emphasis added.

Q: Before we get into other things, about tomorrow — what’s the mission, what’s the theme of tomorrow’s day in Ghana?
MS. PERINO: We’re going to continue to talk about malaria, obviously, and HIV/AIDS, PEPFAR and trying to support people who — support the government, who is trying to help their people make sure that they can lead healthy lives.

And then, of course, with the trade aspect of it, we’ll continue to talk about the need for responsible, sustainable development on the continent of Africa and, in particular, in Ghana. And then remember, of course, we’ve got the special guest tomorrow night of the American Idol contestant — finalist from two years ago, Melinda — I’m sorry, Jordin Sparks, the 2007 winner; she is the winner, Jordin Sparks was the winner of the 2007 American Idol and she’s going to sing tomorrow night at the Ghana event. She’s been very supportive of American Idol programs, America Gives Back, where they focus on malaria. So that will be part of the entertainment tomorrow night.

— remarks by press secretary Dana Perino at a press briefing during the President Bush’s visit to Ghana; Feb. 20; emphasis added.

— the lead image on the home page of The New York Times’ Web site at 2:27 p.m. (EST), Feb. 22.

Dynadot shall immediately clear and remove all DNS hosting records for the domain name and prevent the domain name from resolving to the website or any other website or server other than a blank park page, until further order of this Court.

— from an order by a San Francisco judge that shut down Wikileaks, a Web site that anonymously posts leaked documents; Julius Baer Bank had sought an injunction after Wikileaks posted “papers purporting to show money laundering and tax evasion schemes at the bank’s Cayman Islands branch”; Feb. 22.

Among people whose immigration views I admire, Mr. Dobbs has a reputation as a hopeless blowhard. I did not dwell on that at lunch. I was his guest, and I had seen what happens if you try to skewer him with insult or accusation. Mr. Dobbs is unencumbered by self-doubt. The granite fortress of his certitude is smooth and featureless, and whatever boulders you hurl at it will end up on your head.

— from a New York Times commentary headlined “Broken Borders and Dover Sole: My Lunch With Lou Dobbs” by Lawrence Downes; Feb. 21.

When the president called, I said to him, ‘I guess I’ve moved to the top of the food chain,’ He was very persuasive.

— Baton Rouge Democratic Party loyalist Patsy Arceneaux, one of 796 “superdelegates,” after she received a phone call asking her to support Sen. Hillary Clinton from President Clinton, the man, she says, who gave her husband a job 10 years ago.

We’re not in anybody’s pocket.

— Democratic superdelegate and longtime Clinton ally Harold Ickes, whose firm, “Catalist, a broker of voter contact lists, [received] more than $125,000 last year” from the Clinton campaign; Sen Barack Obama’s “campaign also paid Ickes’s firm, spending $25,000 to rent a mailing list”; Feb. 10.

Senator Clinton is very proud to have helped New York-based projects that train nurses, improve our hospitals, help those suffering from 9/11-related health ailments, bolster our national and homeland security, and provide our brave men and women in uniform with the resources they need to achieve their mission, while keeping them safe.

— Philippe Reines, Sen. Hillary Clinton’s spokesman, defending more than $340 million in projects for New York state she placed as earmarks in last year’s spending bills; Feb. 14.

— the lead image on the home page of The New York Times’ Web site at 3:45 p.m. (EST) Feb. 22; it reefers a story headlined “Serbia Warned as Protests Continue.”

The man in the street will tell you that golf is booming because he sees Tiger Woods on TV. But we track the reality. The reality is, while we haven’t exactly tanked, the numbers have been disappointing for some time.

— Jim Kass, the research director of the National Golf Foundation, an industry group, on the declining popularity of golf; a New York Times story says “The total number of people who play has declined or remained flat each year since 2000, dropping to about 26 million from 30 million”; Feb. 21.

Even if your credit card company would subtract 1.25 percent off your monthly interest rate, if you’re revolving a balance on a high-interest credit card, it’s akin to putting a Band-Aid to a sucking chest wound.

— Joe Ridout, a spokesman for Consumer Action, in a Washington Post story that says: “The Federal Reserve’s dramatic rate cuts were expected to make it cheaper for consumers to use credit cards. But credit card interest rates remain high and in many cases have even climbed”; Feb. 11.

Can you imagine, every time Sen. Clinton says that, the licking of the lips that goes on with these health insurance executives?

— filmmaker Michael Moore, during a conference call with reporters, on Sen. Hillary Clinton’s proposal to mandate health care for all Americans; Feb. 22.

His movie notwithstanding, Michael Moore clearly doesn’t know a whole lot about how healthcare policy works.

— Clinton spokesman Jay Carson in an e-mail; Feb. 22.

— the lead image on the home page of The Washington Post at 4:32 p.m. (EST) Feb. 22; it promotes a story on “Fashion Week” in Milan.

We heard very clearly from our parents, especially parents that considered themselves middle income, that the amount that we expected from them was very difficult.

— Karen Cooper, director of financial aid at Stanford University, saying “the university would allot $21 million to financial aid, raising the aid total to $114 million”; the increase was the largest in the institution’s history; Stanford’s tuition next year is scheduled to be $36,030 with room and board adding $11,182; Feb. 21.

— the lead image on the home page of the Los Angeles Times at 4:40 p.m. (EST) Feb. 22, accompanied by this text: “Video Vigilante on the prowl: Activists like Brian Bates, who trails men soliciting prostitutes, are pointing cameras on bad behavior and posting it online.”

Photo credits:
Fashion Week: Maria Valentino | The Washington Post.
Charlize Theron: Matthias Vriens | New York Times.
Video Vigilante: Mark Zimmerman | Los Angeles Times.
Wedding gown: Joe Fornabaio | New York Times.
Kosovo border checkpoint: Srdjan Ilic | Associated Press.

Quotabull is a weekly feature of Scholars & Rogues.

7 replies »

  1. I didn’t know you were such an admirer of fashion. Regardless, the comments on optimism winning elections do support what I spent all those months saying about how Edwards was approaching the poverty issue. If true, I guess it suggests that Obama is the man, huh?

  2. But you do get the point about the fashion shots and the video vigilante as lede art on the Web sites of the nation’s most powerful (presumably) newspapers, don’t you? 😉

  3. Denny: I think you’re just looking for an excuse to post pictures of pretty women.

    Thank the gods you didn’t find the nude Lindsey Lohan shoot…. 🙂

  4. Yeah, Dr. D., the point about the fashion shots and video vigilante ads probably wasn’t lost on most of us.

    We heard very clearly from our parents, especially parents that considered themselves middle income, that the amount that we expected from them was very difficult.

    Guess Stanford could never have figured that out on its own.

    Hadn’t heard that Wikileaks was shut down. An archive of it seems to be remaining open. Check out this: Lecture on torture techniques by Dr. Larry Forness of the American Military University. Pretty gut-wrenching. Provenance seems strong, too.

  5. Russ,

    They weren’t ads. The photos were the lead art on the home page of the NYT and LAT. That’s what bugs me, given that the American embassy had been attacked.

    But then again, it was Friday afternoon, and both papers have soft sections in the weekend editions to promote …

  6. Sorry, Dr. D. I mis-spoke. I visit the Times website almost everyday. Thus familiar with those.

    One more thing — very important — the girl zipping up her wedding dress from behind? They call that a tramp stamp.