The object of the political war is not to shrink the state or shut it down; it is to capture the thing and run it for your constituents’ benefit.

— from “The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule” by Thomas Frank; p. 39; emphasis added.

When our economy is hurting, the last thing we should do is raise taxes as Barack Obama plans to do and has done. The American people cannot afford a Barack Obama presidency.

— statement from Republican presidential candidate John McCain after the Labor Department reported that the national unemployment rate rose to a five-year high of 6.1 percent last month as American companies cut about 84,000 jobs; Sept. 5.

Today’s jobs report is a reminder of what’s at stake in this election — John McCain showed last night that he is intent on continuing the economic policies that just this year have caused the American economy to lose 605,000 jobs.

— statement from Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama following the jobs report release; Sept. 5.

While these numbers are disappointing, what is most important is the overall direction the economy is headed. Last week, the economy posted a strong gain of 3.3 percent at an annual rate in the second quarter, led by growth in consumer spending, exports, and a well-timed and appropriately sized stimulus package. This level of growth demonstrates the resilience of the economy in the face of high energy prices, a weak housing market, and difficulties in the financial markets.

statement from the White House after release of jobs report; Sept. 5.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain addressing the GOP convention.

The Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, Calif.

[S]everal readers have suggested that perhaps one of the tech geeks charged with setting up the audio/visual bells and whistles for the evening was tasked with getting pictures of Walter Reed Army Medical Center but goofed and got this instead. At first I thought, No, that’s ridiculous. This is a major political party with big time professionals putting this together. Nothing is left to chance. I mean, is this the RNC or a scene out Spinal Tap or Waiting for Guffman?

— Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo; Sept. 5.

If, after all, the eradication of all sin requires the effective elimination of all privacy, and if that, in turn, leads to the establishment of a trivial, oppressive, perhaps even totalitarian society, then it surely follows that a substantive and free society must be prepared to tolerate at least some sin. And that leads us, quite naturally, to the devices that tolerant societies employ to handle an acceptable level of sin: hypocrisy and privacy.

— from a commencement address by veteran broadcaster Ted Koppel at Stanford University; June 14, 1998; emphasis added.

You work quite hard. I’ve got to be in there with my hands. I’m 65, for God’s sake. I don’t want to do all that stuff anymore. … It’s dispiriting. This is just partisan poison, and after a while you get tired of covering it.

— from an interview with Britt Hume of Fox News, who is retiring after 32 years in television news; Sept. 5.

It’s discouraging. We’re going to fix the house, but I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to sell it.

— Racquel Barnhart, 38, of Pearlington, Miss, who experienced flooding from hurricanes Katrina and Gustav, on her desire to move away; Sept. 2.

Since passage of the Patriot Act, many companies based outside of the United States have been reluctant to store client information in the U.S. There is an ongoing concern that U.S. intelligence agencies will gather this information without legal process. There is particular sensitivity about access to financial information as well as communications and Internet traffic that goes through U.S. switches.

— Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington; John Markoff of The New York Times reports that “Data is increasingly flowing around the United States, which may have intelligence — and conceivably military — consequences”; Aug. 29.

We discovered the Internet, but we couldn’t keep it a secret.

— Andrew M. Odlyzko, a professor at the University of Minnesota who tracks the growth of the global Internet; U.S. share of Internet traffic has fallen from 70 percent to 25 percent; Aug. 29.

We’re not asking for extra work, but if operating results are better, I want to share this with the faculty. We think this is an innovative approach that benefits both faculty and administration, and ultimately benefits our students.

— Lester A. Lefton, president of Kent State University, on the school’s use of “a new and unusual tactic to improve its status, retention rate, and fund raising—paying cash bonuses to faculty members if the university exceeds its goals in those areas,” reports The Chronicle of Higher Education; the bonuses “are built into a contract, approved last month, that covers 864 full-time, tenure-track faculty members who teach and do research on the university’s eight campuses,” reported The Chronicle’s Kathryn Masterson; Sept. 5.

It is as if China has made a gift to the United States Navy of 200 brand new aircraft carriers.

— a Chinese blogger quoted in a Times story by Keith Bradsher, who reports that China’s central bank “has been on a buying binge in the United States over the last seven years, snapping up roughly $1 trillion worth of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed debt issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac [but those] investments have been declining sharply in value when converted from dollars into the strong yuan, casting a spotlight on the central bank’s tiny capital base. The bank’s capital, just $3.2 billion, has not grown during the buying spree …”; Sept. 4.

I have asked my accountant to review all the data recently made available to me by the Punta Cana Hotel in the Dominican Republic concerning my investment 20 or so years ago in purchasing a unit in that hotel for occasional use over the years. Once my accountant obtains and verifies the facts, I will follow his recommendations.

— statement from Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which writes the federal tax code, on a report by David Kocieniewski of The New York Times that the congressman “has earned more than $75,000 in rental income from a villa he has owned in the Dominican Republic since 1988, but never reported it on his federal or state tax returns”; Sept. 5.

Q: I want to ask about Pakistan. Obviously, the Pakistani government is complaining about the U.S. military effort there, and it’s a pretty big departure from our past practice. Can you talk about what the communications have been like between the two governments? And also, can you talk about whether you all have concluded whether this was worth it?
MS. PERINO: Well, one, in regards to the reports about that incident, we have not commented and I won’t today. But what I will reiterate is that we’ve been working closely with the new civilian government of Pakistan that is feeling its way and working to establish itself. It obviously had a very big scare yesterday with an attack on the Prime Minister’s motorcade. And thankfully, that attack was not successful. We have a lot of cooperation that’s ongoing with them, and a lot of need to increase communication. And one of the things you saw just about three weeks ago was a meeting off the coast with Admiral Mullen and other generals, with their generals, so that we can work on jointly tackling the problems that we have in Pakistan.
Q: They’re not emphasizing cooperation. They’re emphasizing right now that they’re upset that this happened.
MS. PERINO: Well, I understand that. And we’re focused on trying to improve coordination and communication.
Q: Does that mean you’re trying to improve letting them know ahead of time when something like this is going to happen, or what does that mean?
MS. PERINO: I‘m just not going to comment on the incident in any way. And to answer your question, I would have to do that. So I’ll decline to comment on it.

exchange between reporter and press secretary Dana Perino at White House briefing; Sept. 4; emphasis added.

Silence is disturbing. It is disturbing because it is the wavelength of the soul. If we leave no space in our music—and I’m as guilty as anyone else in this regard—then we rob the sound we make of a defining context. It is often music born from anxiety to create more anxiety. It’s as if we’re afraid of leaving space. Great music’s as much about the space between the notes as it is about the notes themselves. A bar’s rest is as important and significant as the bar of demi-, semi-quavers that precedes it. What I’m trying to say here is that if ever I’m asked if I’m religious I always reply, “Yes, I’m a devout musician.” Music puts me in touch with something beyond the intellect, something otherworldly, something sacred.

— from the commencement address by Sting at the Berklee College of Music; May 15, 1994.

There’s a shot! Oswald has been shot. Oswald has been shot. A shot rang out. Mass confusion here. All the doors have been locked. [pause] Holy mackerel!

— veteran TV newsman Ike Pappas, who had been an arm’s length from Lee Harvey Oswald when he was shot by Jack Ruby in Dallas, reporting the event live to listeners of WNEW radio in New York; Mr. Pappas died this week; Sept. 2.

The European Union has sent no warships to Georgia, because it does not believe in that kind of thing, and is now creaking its way through the painfully slow process of sending some civilian monitors to Georgia, just as soon as Russia gives its consent. Oh, and the EU has fast-tracked €1m in humanitarian aid, with an extra €5m to come later.

A weakened, distracted America has just promised a billion dollars (€700m) in aid for Georgia with about half of that earmarked for “fast-track” delivery, sent two warships to Georgia bearing humanitarian relief supplies, and is about to send the USS Mount Whitney, flagship of the 6th Fleet, into the Black Sea. It has also sent the vice president, as mentioned above.

In the words of the old joke, if that is a distracted America, I’d hate to imagine what an America with its eye on the ball might do.

— from the blog; Sept. 4.

Stories yesterday pointed out that overcrowded hospitals [in Haiti] were being flooded, tens of thousands of the luckiest people were in some kind of shelters, and that there were entire families stranded on rooftops, not begging, but screaming for help.

On the same day, the Bush administration announced it would seek to immediately send $1 billion in aid to Georgia to help rebuild that country unnerved by Russian intervention in a brewing civil war.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Haitians have no homes, no food and no hope.

This isn’t the first time this ailing nation has been overlooked, Four years ago, the misery was nearly the same after two late-summer hurricanes left more than 80,000 people with absolutely nothing to eat. Disease was rampant as dead bodies floated everywhere, and the government couldn’t even find the machinery or fuel to create mass graves for thousands of dead.

The United States provided $60,000 in aid. It was embarrassing and cruel.

There’s not even a mention of any aid being funneled to the Haitians this time.

— from an editorial in the Aurora (Colo.) Sentinel; Sept. 3.

For many people — particularly anyone over the age of 30 — the idea of describing your blow-by-blow activities in such detail is absurd. Why would you subject your friends to your daily minutiae? And conversely, how much of their trivia can you absorb? The growth of ambient intimacy can seem like modern narcissism taken to a new, supermetabolic extreme — the ultimate expression of a generation of celebrity-addled youths who believe their every utterance is fascinating and ought to be shared with the world. Twitter, in particular, has been the subject of nearly relentless scorn since it went online. “Who really cares what I am doing, every hour of the day?” wondered Alex Beam, a Boston Globe columnist, in an essay about Twitter last month. “Even I don’t care.”

— from a discussion of “ambient awareness” in a New York Times Magazine feature by Clive Thompson headlined “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy”; Sept. 5.

photo credits:

• Sen. John McCain addressing GOP convention: Image Shack
• Walter Reed Middle School: Talking Points Memo
• Inner Harbor Navigation Canal in New Orleans: Skip Bolen, European Pressphoto Agency
• Sting: BBC
• Ike Pappas: Associated Press

Quotabull is a weekly feature of Scholars & Rogues.

4 replies »

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  2. “The object of the political war is not to shrink the state or shut it down; it is to capture the thing and run it for your constituents’ benefit.”

    Which begs the question: who are your constituents?