American Culture


If it was the Marlins, you wouldn’t see people in Florida getting up at 5 a.m. And if it was the Yankees — well, their fans aren’t real. They just buy the hat.

— Helio Rocha, a restaurant manager who stayed up all night in anticipation of watching the Red Sox’ Major League Baseball opener (played in Toyko) at 5:30 a.m. in famed Boston watering hole Cask ’n’ Flagon; March 26.

Adam Smith’s invisible hand has a puppeteer: the Federal Reserve. In case there is any confusion about who was pulling the strings behind the scenes of JPMorgan Chase’s acquisition of Bear Stearns, the curtain was lifted Monday. By raising its bid — with the grudging approval of the Fed — to $10 a share, from $2, JPMorgan exposed what had long been whispered about but no one dared to say aloud: the Fed is officially in the deal-making business.

— from Andrew Ross Sorkin’s “Dealbook” column in The New York Times; March 25; emphasis added.

Largely due to the aging of the baby boomers and rising health care costs, the United States faces decades of red ink. … If the United States continues as it has, policymakers will eventually have to raise taxes or slash government services that U.S. citizens depend on and take for granted. … Over time, the U.S. government could be reduced to doing little more than mailing out Social Security checks to retirees and paying interest on the massive national debt.

— from a March 15 speech at Brown University by David M. Walker, who resigned as comptroller general of the United States earlier this month; emphasis added.

I’ve never seen a government be able to circumvent the business cycle in a capitalist economy, but at the same time, the government is going to pull out all the stops to minimize the instability. The grim reality is that recessions are a part of life. It’s like surgery. You don’t feel good as you get out of the operating room, but inevitably there’s a healing process and things get better.

— David A. Rosenberg, chief economist at Merrill Lynch; March 14.

Arguing about whether we can or cannot already see the effects is like sitting in a house soaked in gasoline, having just dropped a lit match, and arguing about whether we can actually see the flames yet, while waiting to see if maybe it might go out on its own.

— Ross A. Alford, a tropical biologist at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, saying “scientific tussles” regarding the impacts of climate change can be distracting; March 25.

The next president of the United States seems sure to be more committed to environmental policy than the current president is, and a carbon tax is high on everyone’s list of options. Indeed, a carbon tax has been promoted almost as a panacea — just pop in the economic incentives and watch them work their magic. But unless steps are taken to lock the tax revenue away from policymakers and invest in substitutes, a carbon tax could lead to more revenue rather than to less pollution.

— Monica Prasad, an assistant professor of sociology and a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University and the author of “The Politics of Free Markets,” in a New York Times commentary; March 25.

Karima Tung, 12, one of three girls home-schooled by their mother, reading the Koran.

I don’t want the behavior. Little girls are walking around dressing like hoochies, cursing and swearing and showing disrespect toward their elders. In Islam we believe in respect and dignity and honor.

— Aya Ismael, a Muslim mother home-schooling four children near San Jose, Calif., one of many parents of many faiths “who … are often inspired by a belief that public schools are havens for social ills like drugs and that they can do better with their children at home; March 25.

The Speaker believes it would do great harm to the Democratic Party if superdelegates are perceived to overturn the will of the voters.

— Brendan Daly, spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., repeating the speaker’s position that “superdelegates should not ‘overturn the will of the voters’ in the face of criticism from top donors to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton,” D-N.Y.; March 27.

As to our right to vote, and have that vote count, there can be no debate. The goal is simple: One person, one vote.

— Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., on his intent to propose legislation that would create six rotating, regional primaries to select presidential candidates, while the Electoral College would be abolished by a constitutional amendment; March 27.

I had a very simple formula: If it affected the life of a U.S. citizen, you woke the president. At 3 o’clock in the morning, unless there is a nuclear holocaust coming, there is not much the president has to decide. What you are doing is starting to put into gear the response of the U.S. government on behalf of the president, not necessarily by the president.

— Kenneth M. Duberstein, President Reagan’s last chief of staff, noting that presidents rarely make snap decisions at 3 a.m.; March 16; emphasis added.

Mark Halperin of Time magazine in the cargo bay of an Obama bus recently in Ohio.

I’m not sure too much is lost. There used to be a self-defined cadre of campaign reporters. Now the news comes from everywhere — from bloggers, maybe some guy with a video camera. Anyone can generate news and everyone can generate news. What’s the advantage of being the 50th guy on the bus?

— S. Robert Lichter, director of the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, arguing that the decision by major news organizations to cut back on “campaign bus” coverage of presidential candidates is long overdue; March 26.

In relying on documents that I now believe were fake, I failed to do my job. I’m sorry.

— Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Chuck Philips of the Los Angeles Times after the Times “acknowledged that it unwittingly relied on fabricated FBI documents, created by a con man, for a report that implicated associates of rap mogul Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs in the 1994 shooting of rapper Tupac Shakur”; March 27.

We landed a few hours before daybreak and as soon as I got off the helicopter my night vision broke, I was surrounded by the sound of artillery rounds, people screaming in Arabic, automatic weapons, and the terrain didn’t look anything like what we were briefed. I knew it was going to be a bad day and a half.

— a March 7, 2007, journal entry of Jerry Ryen King of Georgia about air-assault sniper mission in a known al-Qaida stronghold just north of Baghdad; he died in Iraq April 23, 2007, along with eight other soldiers after suicide bombers blew up two dump trucks outside a school building they were in; March 25.

People think I have to justify this war just because my son died in it. That’s not the case. I think we must secure that area of the world and make it stable, otherwise my grandson is going to be over there. … You have to do what you’re called to do. My son stood for the honor and the dignity that should have been given him in his death. I would never stop anyone from going, because down deep inside I know my son did the right thing.

— Peggy Buryj, whose son, Pfc. Jesse Buryj, died in Iraq on May 5, 2004; March 19.

Listen to the words of Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister: “Last year was the year of security,” he said. “This year is the year of reconstruction, it is the year of services, and it’s the year of combating corruption.” We’re going to help them meet those goals.

— from a speech by President Bush at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio; March 27.

This isn’t like World War II. There’s no VJ Day, no sailor kissing a girl when he comes home. This is somebody saying that trend lines indicate a sustainable level of violence. That’s not a great feeling.

— Army Capt. Derek Bennett of the 1st Armored Division, who entered Iraq in April 2003 on a 90-day deployment that military planners stretched to 15 months; March 19.

If you read the foreign media, the only message you can get is that China is very heavy-handed, and they are doing a lot of bad things in Tibet, and they are totally out of their minds. And they talk about the Dalai Lama as if he’s God.

— Gao Zhikai, a former Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, claiming foreign media about Chinese actions in Tibet have been biased; March 25.

Q: On troop levels in Iraq, The New York Times is reporting that General Petraeus recommended to President Bush putting off any decisions on further troop reductions until about a month or two, perhaps after July. And they also say that it now appears likely any decision on major reduction of American troops for Iraq will be left to the next President. Do you take issue with that characterization?

MS. PERINO: Well, a couple of things. One, the President gave a speech Wednesday, March 19th, in which many headlines were similar to the ones that you read about today. So the President is in a process of getting briefed by his senior advisors, both those that are on the ground and here at the White House, at the Defense Department and at the State Department. So, across-the-board, the President is getting all of this input, taking it into account before he makes a decision. And those decisions aren’t going to be made public until he’s ready to make them public.

And I think it’s prudent for him to allow Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus to come back and provide information to Capitol Hill. He’ll continue to consult with Capitol Hill before he makes a decision on the way forward. But he’s made — he’s not been shy about saying that we will have to make sure that the gains that have been achieved over this past year not be erased by acting too quickly in bringing troops home. Remember, all of this is conditions-based. So from the very beginning, if I go back to January 2005, President Bush at that point thought that we would be able to start announcing troops coming home. That didn’t happen because of the Samarra mosque bombing and the violence that ensued. So then in late December 2006 and January 2007, the President made another decision based on conditions on the ground, and that was to send more troops in.

Nine months later, in September of 2007, the President makes yet another decision based on conditions on the ground, and that was that because of the success we’ve had some troops would be allowed to start coming home. And I would just point to you there’s a pattern here, that the President listens to the commanders on the ground and makes decisions based on that regard.

— exchange between reporter and press secretary Dana Perino at a March 25 White House press briefing [emphasis added].

CNN: Do you see yourself as an elder statesman now?
DAVIES: Aw, no. When I get up on stage I’m just another punk trying to make contact with the world. Yes, I’m older, but I’m not that much wiser. I still make the same mistakes I would have made years ago. … I know people look to me to have all the answers [as an elder statesman] but remember, I don’t have all the answers. Maybe that’s why I’m still doing it.

— interview exchange between CNN’s Todd Leopold and Kinks frontman Ray Davies; March 27; emphasis added.

Ever wanted your own floating estate? The perfect toy for those in the billionaires club, the newest design from Monaco based Wally Yachts is in a class of it’s own- the newly termed ‘gigayacht’. For roughly £100 million the lucky buyer will surpass the league of the mere megayacht to become the exclusive owner of the largest private vessel known to man. At 59ft across and 2,730 tons at half load, the aptly named WallyIsland will have everything the super-rich could ever dream of (a tennis court, pool and five accommodation decks including a main saloon, dining room, library, cinema, spa and fitness area) and even a growing garden with shrubbery and flower beds that will be fed by an irrigation system. With fuel tanks big enough to enable five years of cruising, and space for 40 crew and 24 guests, two 45ft motor yachts, two 27ft sailing yachts, two cars and water-toys including six jetskis, the design company expect it to fulfil the dream of someone who wants to “live comfortably on board fulltime, like on their own estate”.

— description of a Wally Yachts “gigayacht”; [emphasis added]

photo credits:
Muslim child: David Kadlubowski, The New York Times
Campaign bus: Damon Winter, The New York Times

Quotabull is a weekly feature of Scholars & Rogues.

8 replies »

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  2. I keep looking at that Dana Perino quote to see if she answered the question you emphasized, and no matter how hard I look, I just can’t seem to find the answer anywhere….

  3. Normally, I wouldn’t use such a lengthy quote. But Ms. Perino is a master of obfuscating the query so badly that listeners forget the question.

  4. I just can’t wait for Trend-Line-Indicating-a-Sustainable-Level-of-Violence Day. I’m gonna grab Dana Perino and plant one on her!