American Culture


Hhaing The Yu, 29, in rain falling on the ruins of his home, in a township outside Yangon, Myanmar.

This is not about politics; it is about saving people’s lives. There is absolutely no more time to lose.

— United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, pressing the military junta in Myanmar to accept international assistance as hundreds of thousands of its citizens reel from the effects of a devastating cyclone earlier this month; May 14.

• Oppose those relying on external elements, acting as stooges, holding negative views
• Oppose those trying to jeopardize stability of the State and progress of the nation
• Oppose foreign nations interfering in internal affairs of the State
• Crush all internal and external destructive elements as the common enemy

— text under the page 2 headline “People’s Desire” in the May 13 edition of Myanmar’s state newspaper, The New Light of Myanmar.

So many of the loans made were irresponsible — for the borrowers and for the lenders. Lenders have an interest in painting themselves as responsible, even caring entities. They want to cast blame for the sub-prime meltdown as much as possible on their borrowers.

— Kurt Eggert, an expert on predatory lending at Chapman University Law School in Anaheim, Calif.; May 10.

This listing will not stop global climate change or prevent any sea ice from melting. At no time was there ever a suggestion that this was not my decision.

— Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne on the Bush administration’s decision to declare the polar bear a threatened species because of the decline in Arctic sea ice from global warming; an April 29 court order forced the Interior Department to act by May 15; May 14.

If all the members of the House would go out onto the steps and clap our hands three times and say, ‘Down prices, down prices,’ that would have as much impact as passing this bill.

— Rep. Joe L. Barton of Texas, the senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on Congress’s vote to order the Bush administration to halt stockpiling 70,000 barrels of oil a day in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve; May 14.

It is not surprising, then, that many elected officials with input or voting power in the process of the appropriation of the Pentagon budget find themselves in the pocket of defense contractors. Neither is it surprising that these dubious relationships should serve as breeding grounds for the near legendary levels of waste, inefficiency, and corruption that surround the military-industrial-congressional complex.

Two major conclusions follow from this discussion. The first is that, as pointed out earlier, war and political instability in the Middle East are the major driving forces behind the soaring price of oil; and that, therefore, to contain or reverse the rising trend of energy prices requires bringing US troops home. The second conclusion is that achievement of this goal, the goal of ending US wars of aggression, is possible only if (a) money or profits are taken out of war, and (b) money is taken out of elections.

— from a Middle East Online commentary by Drake University economics professor Ismael Hossein-zadeh, author of “The Political Economy of US Militarism”; May 14.

What we see at the gasoline pump is increasingly driven by what is happening elsewhere in the global economy.

— Daniel Yergin, the chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a consulting firm, in a New York Times story that reports gasoline “refiners are caught in a double bind. The price of their raw material, oil, is rising because of strong global demand. At the same time, consumption of gasoline in the United States is falling as a result of slower economic growth and consumer efforts to conserve”; May 14.

We regulate the trading of onions much more closely than the trading of oil.

— Mark Cooper, research director for the Consumer Federation of America, a nonprofit advocacy group, calling for regulation of oil speculation; May 15.

Dubbed the “California,” this concept Ferrari is a V8-powered two-seater intended to cope with ever-rising gas prices and environmental concerns. Among a laundry list of Ferrari firsts, the California features a retractable convertible hardtop and a newly designed, 7-speed, dual clutch gearbox. The slick new gearbox, when coupled with the California’s 460 hp, 4.3 liter engine makes for quicker shift times and acceleration from zero to 60 mph in about four seconds.

— lede to a BusinessWeek story headlined “Ferrari’s Smaller Prancing Pony”; emphasis added.

I propose that we begin a program in education to ensure every American child the fullest development of his mind and skills.

I propose that we begin a massive attack on crippling and killing diseases.

I propose that we launch a national effort to make the American city a better and a more stimulating place to live.

I propose that we increase the beauty of America and end the poisoning of our rivers and the air that we breathe.

I propose that we carry out a new program to develop regions of our country that are now suffering from distress and depression.

I propose that we make new efforts to control and prevent crime and delinquency.

I propose that we eliminate every remaining obstacle to the right and the opportunity to vote.

I propose that we honor and support the achievements of thought and the creations of art.

I propose that we make an all-out campaign against waste and inefficiency.

— President Lyndon B. Johnson, State of the Union address, Jan. 4, 1965.

I believe that we now have the opportunity to say to America that this is a farm bill that truly does assure that we continue to have the safest, most affordable, most abundant food supply in the world. We have addressed the needs of America’s farmers and ranchers.

— Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, the senior Republican on the Agriculture Committee, after the House approved a five-year, $307 billion farm bill that President Bush has adamantly said he would veto; May 15; emphasis added.

Where’s the beef? Where’s the real reform?

— Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wisc., “standing in the House floor next to a poster showing sharp increases in commodity prices — 126 percent for wheat, 57 percent for soybeans, 45 percent for corn” during debate on the farm bill; May 15.

In my zeal to oppose anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its ugly forms, I have often emphasized the darkest chapters in the history of Catholic and Protestant relations with the Jews. In the process, I may have contributed to the mistaken impression that the anti-Jewish violence of the Crusades and the Inquisition defines the Catholic Church. It does not.

— from a letter of apology by Rev. John C. Hagee, “whose anti-Catholic remarks created a controversy when Senator John McCain received his endorsement for the Republican presidential nomination with fanfare,” to William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights; Mr. Donohue’s response: “Well, miracles do happen. If I wasn’t a believer before, I sure am now”; May 14.

This is bullshit, this is malarkey. This is outrageous, for the president of the United States to go to a foreign country, to sit in the Knesset … and make this kind of ridiculous statement. … He has increased the number of terrorists in the world. It is his policies that have produced this vulnerability that the U.S. has. It’s his [own] intelligence community [that] has pointed this out, not me.

— Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., responding to President Bush’s address to the Israeli parliament in which Democrats believe he accused presidential candidate of spreading the “false comfort of appeasement”; May 15.

Juveniles and former child soldiers should be treated first and foremost as candidates for rehabilitation and reintegration into society, not subjected to further victimization.

— Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s human rights program, on reports that “[t]he United States has detained approximately 2,500 people younger than 18 as illegal enemy combatants in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay since 2002 …”; May 15.

BAGHDAD, May 14 — A youthful suicide bomber killed at least 23 people Wednesday in an attack against relatives of Col. Faisal Ismail al-Zobaie, a U.S.-backed police chief and former insurgent who has turned against his onetime comrades.

— lede of a Washington Post story detailing how a boy of about 12 slipped into a funeral and detonated his explosives; May 14.

Q: Any reaction to a poll that shows that Americans are more pessimistic about the economy than since —
MS. PERINO: This is the same question ABC asked me yesterday.
Q: I’m sorry, I wasn’t here yesterday.
MS. PERINO: And then I gave the answer and ABC didn’t use it. (Laughter.)
Q: I withdraw the question.

— exchange between reporter and press secretary Dana Perino at a White House press briefing; May 13.

The three panels of Francis Bacon’s “Triptych, 1976.”

Recession? What recession?

— Barbara Gladstone, a Chelsea dealer, after a “1976 triptych by Francis Bacon brought $86.3 million on Wednesday night at Sotheby’s, becoming the most expensive work of contemporary art ever sold at auction and a retort to doomsayers who had predicted that the art market would falter seriously this season because of broad economic anxieties”; May 15.

Cindy Crawford, Christie Brinkley, Stephanie Seymour; I really like the [classic] American supermodels. [But] how do you pick? There’s so many gorgeous girls.

— Marisa Miller, 29, who “landed the coveted Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover in February, [is] going into her seventh year as a Victoria’s Secret model, and now [is] the first to debut at No. 1 on the Maxim Hot 100 List”; May 13.

Because of her, I am somebody.

— Carlos Rodriguez, coach of Belgian tennis player Justine Henin, 25, who abruptly retired this week, holding seven Grand Slam titles and the world’s No. 1 ranking; May 14.

Oh my goodness, if we put a drilling rig out there, it may destroy our caribou. We heard the same thing back some years back, that if we put a pipeline through some of this area up north it was going to kill off the last 27 head of caribou. You know what happened? The pipeline went in, that oil is warm going through that pipeline, and what happened is it makes the caribou amorous. Now when caribou want to go on a date, they invite each other to go over to the pipeline.

— Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, speaking on the House floor against putting a drilling rig in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; May 12; emphasis added.

photo credits:
Hhaing The Yu: Rapport, for The New York Times
polar bears: Alexander Kutskiy, Business Wire
gasoline pump readout: David J. Phillip, Associated Press
Ferrari California: BusinessWeek
President Johnson: Bob Daugherty, The Associated Press
Bacon’s “Triptych, 1976”: Sotheby’s via The Associated Press

Quotabull is a weekly feature of Scholars & Rogues.

2 replies »

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  2. 460 horsepower? The only way that would be environmentally friendly is if you shut down the car at the end of the four seconds it takes to reach 60 mph.