A Year Of Lileks: The Best James Lileks Quotes From 8/26/03 – 8/26/04

“Is (John Kerry) running to reseed the blasted heath we call America? But he’s already had decades in the Senate without much to show for his effort. Good for him! Run on that record! It would be a refreshing campaign ad: “For years I have steadfastly avoided using my power to screw things up, preferring to aid the people of my state with small riders on large bills. Who am I to overturn the American health care system? I can, however, provide a nice swimming pool for poor Bostonians.”

“If Bush takes out Iranian nuclear bomb facilities before the election, it’ll be good for another 50 books. Now do you see how evil he is? First Iraq, then Iran ‘ good L-rd, is no one safe?”

“To all who serve in the armed forces,” (Kerry) said in his acceptance speech, “help is on the way!” Given his record, we can assume this means a helicopter landing on the embassy roof in Baghdad to evacuate the refugees. First come, first served. And no shoving! If we learned anything from Vietnam, it’s the importance of an orderly retreat.”

“Democrats are truly united behind one man: George W. Bush, whom they hope to push into a moat full of crocodiles. Rabid crocodiles. Rabid crocs who just finished with Ann Coulter and are mad that she was even considered to be a suitable appetizer.”

“The United Nations will probably agree, once again, to do the wrong thing together rather than the right thing alone. A single death, after all, is a tragedy. A million deaths is a U.N. committee report. Nicely bound. With graphs and pictures.”

“In power, (Al Gore) told us that Saddam Hussein had WMD programs and terrorist connections. Out of power, relying on The Nation instead of those silly CIA briefings, he decides that Iraq was slightly less dangerous than Monaco and certainly not as dangerous as the jackbooted gang that runs Gulag America today.”

“There are always those who see tyrannies and wonder how they might be persuaded to play nice. It’s as if there were a bear prowling around, and the villagers decided to stake out a few infants for supper in hopes the beast would go away. Reagan preferred to shoot the bear. One hopes the verdict of history will be simple: nice aim.”

“(W)e actually backed up the U.N.’s empty words with action — over the objections of France, which had been in bed with Saddam for so long they were no longer sleeping together, just reading until one or the other fell asleep.”

“Oh, for the days of a loyal opposition.”

“The left is terribly worried about what the popular kids are saying about them in the United Nations. “We’ve alienated the world! For heaven’s sake, we’ve alienated China! Oh, and Free Tibet!” The right couldn’t care less, but what can you expect out of a party that would rather get married to Great Britain than have an affair with France?”

“Commentators now fear an “upsurge” in the old dependable “cycle of violence” ‘ you know, Hamas sends someone to drive ball bearings through children on a bus and Israel responds by killing the people who hatched the plot. It takes a particularly Olympian viewpoint to view this as tit for tat, but moral equivalence is the dusty chipped prism through which the press regularly views the conflict.”

“What does (Richard Clarke) counsel? In a recent piece in Time magazine, he’s frank: “In addition to placing more cameras on our subway platforms, maybe we should be asking why the terrorists hate us.” OK, Mr. Terrorist, what do you want from us? “We want you to lose.” Hmm. Well, there’s only one reasonable, nuanced response: Would you be happy with the Sudetenland?”

“The new Spanish government will soon meet with Germany and France to craft a “European” approach to terrorism. Topic No. 1: How big should the white flag be? Oak or cedar for the pole?”

“Getting bombed by al-Qaida because you helped topple a fascist regime is a stark reminder that you did the right thing. You have the right enemies. A country should worry when al-Qaida doesn’t regard it as a target, because that would mean it appeared to be a house of rotten wood, easily collapsed when the time is right.”

“As the strongest nation in the world, we are apparently required to do what the weakest ones want, lest we waste their most precious commodity: sympathy. It’s a common theme for those who value process over results and admire impotent international institutions whose primary output is thick, creamy paper stamped with interesting signatures and lovely official seals.”

“Europe can’t fight its way out of a paper bag, because it spends half its money propping up its paper bag industry, and the other half on bureaucracies regulating the strength and thickness of paper bags. Europe can only be the equal of American power with the willing cooperation of a president who stays up late at night wondering whether chain-smoking leftists in cafes on another continent might greet his next state visit with giant mocking puppets.”

“Let’s just be blunt: The North Koreans would love to see John Kerry win the election. The mullahs of Iran would love it. The Syrian Ba’athists would sigh with relief. Every enemy of America would take great satisfaction if the electorate rejects the Bush doctrine and scuttles back to hide under the U.N. Security Council’s table. It’s a hard question, but the right one: Which candidate does our enemy want to lose? George W. Bush.”

“At least we’ll have a clear choice in November. Bush is serious about the war. The Democrats are serious about the war against Bush.”

“You’d swear that if you jabbed the average Democratic presidential candidate awake at 3 a.m., he’d shout, “Unilateral cowboy yellowcake carrier landing fake-turkey photo op!”

“If Gore wants these people on his side in ’08, it’s because he thinks they’ll still be spitting mad in four years. And he’s right. They will be. They will hate Bush more than Osama bin Laden, right up until the day the Islamists target mixed-gender schools, abortion clinics and gay-rights counseling centers. Then they might finally realize it’s not only their war too ‘ it always has been.”

“It goes without saying that President Bush emanates a mind-warping energy field. You’ve seen it in action: Perfectly rational people who pride themselves on their nuanced, sophisticated opinions fall to the ground and begin frothing and barking when the subject turns to Bush; you expect them to succumb to Sudden Rumplestiltskin Syndrome, grab a leg in each hand and rip themselves in two.”

“To many swing voters, that’s the baggage the Dems carry right now. Wobbly on foreign policy, dependably pro-government benefits for anyone who can show up and sign a form with an X, pro-religion if the church supports abortion and euthanasia. In other words: liberals! Unfair? Broad? Crude? Sure. But not entirely inaccurate.”

“Dissent is not automatically worthy of praise. The act of dissenting is not brave; dissent is the default position for half the nation. We don’t round up people who vote for the losing candidate and ship them off to the gulag. And sometimes dissent is overtly un-American. Go to any anti-globo demo; look at the chanting rabble in Che T-shirts who want to replace America with International Workers Permanent Committee for Boiling Rich People in Huge Vats. Dissent on parade, and un-American to boot. It’s the same tired line: dissent against the dissenters, and you’re quashing dissent.”

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