How to Explain Conservatism to Your Squishy Liberal Friends: Individualism 'R' Us : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

A bit of pre-election humor from the clever P.J. O'Rourke:


(Just in case the hot link does not work.)

-- Ken Decker (, October 30, 2000



Can we assume that you not only read - but also agree with or at least admire the content and writings of "the clever P.J. O'Rourke"?

The word 'clever' could clearly be taken several ways - some positive and other quite negative. Just curious.

-- Blueridge (, October 30, 2000.

Thanks Ken, great article.

-- Nikoli Krushev (, October 31, 2000.

I have read much of O'Rourke and find him utterly trenchant.

-- Ken Decker (, October 31, 2000.

Thanks, Ken. I've always loved P.J.'s stuff -- way back even to when he used to write for National Lampoon.

-- eve (, October 31, 2000.

I had no clue what Ken meant by trenchant. For anyone else who is as illiterate as I:


2 : vigorously effective and articulate ; also : CAUSTIC

3 a : sharply perceptive : PENETRATING b : CLEAR-CUT, DISTINCT - trenB7chantB7ly adverb

On to the article...

-- Bingo1 (, October 31, 2000.

P. J. O'Rourke writes about urban sprawl and Al Gore (from an article in the Sept. 30 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine). Some choice excerpts...

"The VP has been sounding like a mom trapped in a Honda Odyssey with the third-grade soccer team that forgot to take its Ritalin. Here he is, earlier this year, announcing a 'livability agenda' at the White House: 'The freedom of the open road can explode into communting- induced road rage.' An interesting comment from somebody who goes everywhere at fifty miles per hour in a siren-blaring motorcade with an armed escort. In my own suburban Washington, DC, neighborhood, I've seen Al create a lot of road rage just by going out for a spin. 'A gallon of gas can be used up just driving to ge ta gallon of milk,' said Gore. If I had known that was where the Veep was headed in his motorcade -- which woke the baby, scared the dog and created a huge traffic jam on Connecticut Avenue -- I would have gladly walked over to where the Gores live, at the Naval Observatory, and brought them a couple of quarts of Lo-Fat. The Naval Observatory, by the way, sprawls all over Northwest Washington but provides little urban green space, because it's closed to the public."

O'Rourke adds that Gore

"...also laments 'suburbs so distant from commercial centers that if a family wants an affordable house, a commuting parent often gets home too late to read a child a bedtime story.' Or maybe Gore is proposing shroter versions of bedtime stories. Which is fine with me. ' "Smart-growth" policies kept the three little pigs waiting for months to get building permits. So the wolf ate them all. Now go to sleep.'"

Here's what O'Rourke says about Portland:

"The Solon-like city-council persons of Portland, Oregon, have had an urban-growth boundary in place for a quarter-century. It's an interesting concept: Keep your figure by encasing yourself in concrete, then eat what you want. And it's caused some problems, such as a doubling in home prices, the forced exit of poor people. He mistakenly adds that Portland's growth boundary caused 'a strange distortion of real estate prices so that land immediately outside the growth boundary is worth $100,000 more per acre than land inside the boundary because developers know that sooner or later that boundary will have to be moved.' He has it backwards: Prices are $100,000 per acre more inside than outside because developers fear the boundary will never be moved."

Later, O'Rourke cites worries that sprawl is paving over America and notes that,

"If we ever bothered to get off I-80 at someplace other than those factory-outlet stores, we'd know this isn't true. The Department of Agriculture classifies 95.2 percent of the land area of the United States as undeveloped. And that's not including Alaska."

Then he adds:

"Between 1985 and 1996, the National Park System grew by 1.7 million acres. Should we be worried about park sprawl? Pretty soon we won't be able to go anywhere without being pestered by those rustic wooden signs saying NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES and that stupid bear who keeps trying to put out my cigarette."

He then turns to automobiles...

"But halting America's suburban sprawl by leaving your car on the median strip and moving downtown is not going to help. Randal O'Toole, an economist with the Cato Institute libertarian think tank (libertarians think Al Gore should carry a couple of Secret Service agents around on his back for a week and then tell voters what a terrible thing the automobile is), has done some research on the subject. It turns out that the number of vehicle miles traveled actually increases with urban density. Somehow that 'gallon of gas . . . to get a gallon of milk' is burned even when the milk is brought right to the apartment door by that strange and shifty- looking kid who delivers things from the delicatessen. This makes sense, if you think about it. How did that milk get to the city? You never see a cow in a New York dairy cooler. And consider the ten percent bike-and-hike brat-transport problem: You may live right on Fifth Avenue, but the streets are scary, the Schwinn's been swiped, and the precious moppet is sure to get lost in the subway. So he goes everywhere by car -- if not in Mom's Cherokee, then in a yellow cab. O'Rourke has obviously read the report I did for the Cato Institute and much more as well. He cites lots of data and studies. Other than the mix-up on Portland's real estate prices, he seems to have gotten most of it right. I'll have to encourage him to see the Thoreau Institute's web site for some even funnier stories, such as the new zoning codes that require people whose house burns down to build an apartment in its place."

-- eve (, October 31, 2000.

Oops...O'Rourke's quote should have ended with "yellow cab." The rest is someone else's commentary from the website I got this from.

-- eve (, October 31, 2000.

Of course, a liberal would say that a sharing and caring government doesn't have to turn out this way. It could be something like Sweden. And there you have it-the downside: 100 million people killed; the upside: ABBA, Volvos and suicide.

What's this all about? Anyone care to hazard a guess? What would the world be without ABBA? Never driven a Volvo, so I can't comment there. What's up with suicide in Sweden?

Have another hit on the bong.

This one I understand. Quite the host, this P.J. dude. Will he be running for office anytime soon? Where do I sign up as a volunteer?

-- Bingo1 (, October 31, 2000.

Looks around sheepishly at Bingo and whispers in his ear

"thanks Bingo for the translation of trenchant"

hits the bong and exits :-)

-- consumer (, November 01, 2000.


Volvos kick ass, they are well worth the extra bux. Very safe, and very nice handling cars.

As to the Swedes killing themselves, I think it has to do with the fact that they have about 16 months of winter each year. That is enough to seriously depress anyone.

-- Uncle Deedah (, November 01, 2000.

I enjoy P.J. (in spite of his trenchmouth), but he promotes a common canard when he casually says that Sweden has a high suicide rate.

The data in the following link is from a 1998 German paper by Herr Schmidtke, whoever he is. If correct, the Swedish level is barely higher than the US level and nowhere near the top.

What strikes me is that 19 of the top 20 countries are European, many of them Eastern European (maybe this has to do with the culture, the political system, the weather, the accuracy of record keeping, etc). Another striking trend is that male rates are higher in every country except China. So maybe you feminists will ease up on us guys?

Actually, for a variety of reasons, no suicide statistics are very credible.


-- Lars (, November 01, 2000.

Thanks for the link, Lars.

So basically P.J. is full of shit regarding Sweden. Couldn't be the Swedes chosen method of government that moved him to offer up that lame and inaccurate attempt at humor. Nah.

He's just another intensely biased commentator, albeit wittier than most. Big, fat demerit for P.J.


-- Bingo1 (, November 02, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ