Opinion: Reflections on some timeless P.J. O’Rourke quotes

P.J. O'Rourke was a friend and mentor. He blurbed my first book, and he was a hero to many of us libertarians who felt humor was an effective way to point out the absurdities of politics and life. He understood economics, free markets and the value of free people. And he left us with some excellent quotes.

"If you say a modern celebrity is an adulterer, a pervert and a drug addict, all it means is that you've read his autobiography."

This P.J. O'Rourke quote speaks to society's obsession with celebs. It has expanded in our new Tik Tok world. Celebrities' need for attention knows no end — and when they write a book and want to sell it, they sensationalize their shortcomings.

When Kate Middleton fought off speculation and put questions about her health to rest with a dignified video, a few people were upset. Kate's California-based sister-in-law, Meghan Markle, saw all the attention and sympathy Kate was getting, so she called Oprah and set up an interview to tell her about that time Wolfgang Puck's in Beverly Hills got her order wrong.

Hunter Biden is another infamous celeb who demonstrates this desperate need for attention. We know it wasn't Hunter's cocaine at the White House because there was some of it left.

But things may change for "the First Son." Joe Biden's poll numbers are so low that Hunter might be forced to get a job based on his own wherewithal. P.J. nailed this one too: "Politics is the business of getting power and privilege without possessing merit."

We have combined celebrity and politics with the likes of Donald Trump and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a former TV comedian now running that corrupt country. Somebody should make a reality show: "Keeping Up with the Ukrainians."

Even O.J. Simpson got a reality show called "Juiced." We are in a very confusing time.

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."

This latest $1.2 trillion, pork-filled budget deal speaks to this P.J. classic. When I was at Georgetown University, we used to call Washington, D.C., "Hollywood for ugly people." Even the most fervent budget hawk goes to Washington with lofty intentions and then starts to enjoy the limo rides and the hot tubs full of women provided by lobbyists.

Speaking for the 50% of us who pay the taxes, I could be just as proud to be an American for half the money I send in. My CPA just did my taxes, and he told me to make out a separate check for $14,675 for Ukraine, payable to Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The recent budget bill includes $175,000 to pay a House chaplain. Only mind readers in Hollywood have fewer things to do all day.

All this leads us to my favorite P.J. quote:

"The mystery of government is not how Washington works, but how to make it stop."

This perfectly describes the maddening self-importance of our leftist government and its ineffectual answers to our problems — many of which it created with past "solutions." And every single one of those "solutions" either takes more money from us or gives government more power over us.

P.J. saw the need for limited government and individual freedoms.

He sums up libertarian views:

"There's only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences."

I say, smoke all the crack you like, but do not expect me to pay for your rehab or not to shoot you if you try to steal my lawnmower. You cannot regulate stupidity. Darwin was onto something.

O'Rourke coined the phrase "fashionable worries" to define the virtue signaling of the idle class about unquantifiable things such as modern-day "global warming."

P.J., who died in 2022, would love to make fun of our burgeoning "Deep State" today. All the uptick in crime worries me less than the growing and unaccountable tumor that is our government. To me, the criminals among us are less of a threat than a well-organized big government with enforcement divisions.

Contact Ron Hart, a syndicated op-ed satirist, author and radio-TV commentator, at Ron@RonaldHart.com or @RonaldHart on X (formerly Twitter).

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