American Culture


Our economy has demonstrated remarkable resilience.

— President Bush at a press conference; July 16.

We’re spending like a drunken sailor.

— Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., predicting the federal budget deficit would double this year; according to Manu Raju of The Hill newspaper, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that, for the first nine months of fiscal 2008, the government ran up a $268 billion deficit, $148 billion more the same period last year; July 17.

The government of my country snubs honest simplicity, but fondles artistic villainy, and I think I might have developed into a very capable pickpocket if I had remained in the public service a year or two.

— Mark Twain, in “Roughing It,” published in 1886.

Our results, frankly, reflect all the difficulties weighing on the media sector … but we have been in down cycles before and know how to manage through them.

— Craig Dubow, Gannett Co. chairman and chief executive, after Gannett reported that second-quarter profits were down 36 percent from a year ago; revenue fell 10 percent, shares were off 7 percent and USA Today advertising sales dropped 17 percent; July 17; emphasis added.

[The loss reflects] a weakening economy and a continued challenging business environment in the publishing division.

— Marshall Morton, president and chief executive of Media General, owner of 22 dailies and 275 weeklies and other publications, on its second-quarter loss of $129,000 vs. a $5.2 million profit a year ago; its newspaper ad revenues fell 17 percent; July 17; emphasis added.

Unprecedented fuel prices have created a real crisis in the airline industry, and Delta has been a leader in responding with quick, decisive action.

— Edward Bastian, president and chief financial officer of Delta Air Lines, following the announcement that Delta posted a $1 billion loss in the second quarter because of high fuel costs; Delta said it will reduce flights and cut about 4,000 jobs this year; July 17; emphasis added.

My co-workers are doing a great job working through the significant challenges facing our industry. We will continue to work together to react to the market and maintain our focus on providing quality service to customers.

— Larry Kellner, Continental Airlines’ chairman and chief executive officer, after Continental reported a second-quarter loss of $3 billion; Continental plans to reduce domestic flights, retire 67 aircraft and cut 3,000 jobs; July 17.

It seems to me that other financial institutions not accepting these checks is only furthering the panic. Sure, IndyMac will give you a check, but what good is it if no other institution will accept it?

— Sheryl MacPhee, 46, of South Pasadena, Calif., who tried to deposit a check from an IndyMac branch in another bank only to be told she could not have access those funds for up to eight weeks; regulators from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. have taken over the ailing bank; July 16.

My hope is that people take a deep breath and realize that their deposits are protected by our government.

— President Bush, at an unscheduled press conference, reminding Americans that the federal government insured their deposits up to $100,000; July 17.

It affects everybody, and you need not be a home owner, or have credit or be a consumer. People are getting used to a new terminology; they know all sorts of credit-crunch-related terms. Money can be made now, but generally it’s a hugely unfortunate economic time. There’s a lot of talk about how bad it is.

— Martin Slaney, head of derivatives at GFT Global Markets in London, discussing the global economic slowdown; July 17.

You see a consensus developing that the current system is unsustainable. But actually saying what has to happen next is a little bit scary if you’re in a campaign, especially if some of your most prominent supporters have such deep ties to these entities.

— David C. John, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, discussing the rumors of insolvency regarding Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and the virtual silence about them from presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama; July 17.

The business was going nowhere, so the only thing I could fund the business with was more credit cards. I just started panicking.

— Jeremy Riney, describing how he started Music America Records in Los Angeles by financing his business with personal credit cards until he owed about $100,000; The Washington Post’s Simone Baribeau reports that “[s]mall businesses will charge 2 1/2 times more this year than they did in 2002, when credit card charges ran about $140 billion”; July 4.

Blindsided, distraught, disrespected. All those adjectives. I definitely feel insulted. … I didn’t realize my salary was that much compared to everyone else’s. They basically dumped mine and got nothing in return.

— former Denver Nuggets center Marcus Camby after being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers; Mr. Camby will earn a base salary of $8 million and could make as much as $11.7 million if he hits all his incentive bonuses; July 16.

A lot of the busy guys used to brag that they had patients waiting six months or a year. Granted, I thought it was exaggerated for their own p.r., but now you almost never hear that. Now you hear a month or two.

— Dr. Michael A. C. Kane, a plastic surgeon in Manhattan, about complaints from plastic surgeons that the economic downturn is affecting their business; June 16.

These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people. Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, human misery and personal indignity. … In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.

— from the first inaugural address by President Ronald Reagan; Jan. 20, 1981.

When we work on tough issues in the U.S. system, which is the best system in the world, it takes a while. There’s never unanimity, but I am feeling very good.

— Treasury secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. about his plan for the federal government to rescue the nation’s two largest mortgage finance companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; July 17.

The economy has continued to expand, but at a subdued pace.

— Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee in which he did not utter the word “recession”; July 17.

Those will do more than any $300 you might send out to the taxpayers.

— Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., criticizing Democrats’ plan to provide more consumer incentives and agreeing with the White House position that adopting legislation to limit home foreclosures and expanding domestic production of oil would to more to stimulate the economy; July 16.

It’s just amazing. It’s irresponsible. This guy does not have any love or care for the sport. The unfortunate is that we are learning that things that look too good to be true are too good to be true.

— British cyclist David Millar after Italian rider Riccardo Riccò became the third rider in the Tour de France to test positive for the performance enhancer EPO; July 17.

We’re absolutely stunned by what is happening and by the behavior of one of our riders. He seems to have secretly used banned substances, hiding everything from everybody else in the team.

— from a statement by Caudio Corti, manager of the Barloworld team, denying knowledge of drug use by one of his Tour de France riders, Moises Duenas Nevado of Spain; July 17; emphasis added.

[Police found] numerous small medical materials like syringes, needles, and medical drip bags which theoretically a cyclist should not have in his room.

— Gerard Aldige, the state prosecutor in Tarbes, France, discussing what was found in Duenas Nevado’s hotel room; July 17.

As our society becomes more fragmented, more bombarded with images, more numbed to feeling, more restless and impatient, what the artist has to offer becomes more and more essential to the health of the community. In a sense, there are three basic artistic strategies which fulfill this function. One is to make art which states the problems or wounds of society; which makes people aware of the underpinnings of the society and wakes them up to act or make changes in their lives or in their communities. The second is to make art which offers an alternative; that demonstrates human behavior which becomes a paradigm for what creativity, cooperation, freedom and playfulness could be. The third is to make art which in itself provides glimpses of a larger consciousness or reflects upon the inexplicable. Some artists mirror the time in which they live. Others convey in their work a sense of timelessness and continuity. That we have this variety of approaches is healthy and meaningful.

— from a speech titled “Some Thoughts About Art, America
And Jumping Off The Cliff” by Meredith Monk, an American composer, delivered in April 1990.

I leave with the belief that this eclipse of the soul will soon pass and with it the lunacy that sees artists as enemies and ideas as demons.

— from a speech at the National Press Club by John Frohnmayer after being deposed in February 1992 as chair of the National Endowment for the Arts by President George H.W. Bush; Republican challenger Patrick J. Buchanan had threatened to make a campaign issue out of President Bush’s support for the then-controversial NEA and Mr. Frohmayer’s leadership.

This is to ensure that we have flexible funds to devote to both building our collections and undertake targeted strategic initiatives where we feel we can really make a difference.

— James Woods, chief executive of the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles, announcing the trust would cut 114 jobs so it could free resources to spend on its visual-arts programs; May 14.

A cat can draw
the blinds
behind her eyes
whenever she
decides. Nothing
alters in the stare
itself but she’s
not there. Likewise
a future can occlude:
still sitting there,
doing nothing rude.

— from “A cat/a future” by Kay Ryan, chosen to be the nation’s 16th poet laureate by the Librarian of Congress; July 17.

photo credits:

• credit cards: Ilya Genkin,
• Italian cyclist Ricardo Riccò: Nicholas Bouvy, European Pressphoto Agency

Quotabull is a weekly feature of Scholars & Rogues.

3 replies »

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  2. A quick suggestion: You might consider putting line brakes in between the quotes to make them easier to read.

  3. You know it’s getting bad when the plastic surgeons start to feel the pinch (or would that be nip?).

    And thank goodness that those deposits are covered by the US government, eh? I feel safer already, knowing that if things get really bad we can always try and borrow some more from the Chinese.