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Don't Vote It Just Encourages the Bastards Paperback – September 13, 2011
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Having had a lot of fun with what politicians do, P.J. O'Rourke now has a lot of fun with what we should think about those politicians. Nothing good, to be sure. Best-selling humorist P.J. OâRourke is back with his latest political masterpiece, Don't VoteIt Just Encourages The Bastards. Using his signature wit and keen observational skills, OâRourke reflects on his forty year career as a political commentator, spanning his addlepated hippie youth to his current state of right-wing grouch maturity. Don't VoteIt Just Encourages The Bastards is a brilliant, disturbing, hilarious and sobering look at why politics and politicians are a necessary evil--but only just barely necessary. Read P.J. O'Rourke on the pathetic nature of politics and laugh through your tears orwhat the helljust laugh.
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American politics are dominated by news bites and slices of incomplete information and people that vote often lack a basic understanding of economic principles or in my opinion much logic. P.J. O'Rourke writes a line about what is wrong with politics, half the voters are less than average intelligence.
Using sarcasm and lots of analogies, he writes short examples of why certain political issues are often carried to absurdity, states like California with strict gun laws have lots of murders while those with very lax laws don't, for example, and also that we should probably have vote control because voting leads to politicians taking us into war which leads for far more deaths caused by guns.
He writes about the futility of much of the left and right ranting (radio, books, etc.) because it's like preaching to the little old ladies wearing white hats in the choir.
I enjoyed how he worded the observation that we allow 19 year old's to vote, but we don't trust them with a beer.
Just because he uses lots of tongue-in-cheek humor, sarcasm, and analogies that could be seen as over the top in there usage, he is obviously a well read and well informed and well connected person and his writing is crisp and straight forward. Much of the chapters read like part of a conversation with a neighbor over a beer while bar-b-cuing some burgers. Good old fashioned complaining about how stupid so much of the American political scene is, was, and will be for the foreseeable future.
He points out that taxes make Republicans, logic makes libertarians and having children makes conservatives. It's interesting in my own observations, and I think that he writes a bit about this too, is that people tend to live their own lives as they see fit (libertarianism at its core) but that they often want to force others to do things for their own good.
I think both lefties and righties could gain something from a thoughtful reading of this book, certainly libertarians would enjoy it, although, his own words about preaching to the choir ring partially true here.
There is a great bit of discussion in this book directed at our current mess and the administration in the White House, I found is critique spot on. There is a lot in here about economics and the national debt and spending, perhaps this is is the most important discussion in any political discussion these days, one that is over looked or soft footed about. It is far too important a discussion to dismiss, and should be required knowledge before one is allowed to vote. Good luck with that wish, of course.
I give this book a strong recommendation before this upcoming election or any in the future for that matter.
It's a trope among liberal writers that the reactionaries' fantasy world free of government is best embodied by Somalia, a country in which none of them would want to live, and in which most would not survive. Remarkably, O'Rourke discusses Somalia in his book, but never acknowledges its status as the perfect embodiment of his ideals, or how poorly that has worked out. Instead, he raises the subject to talk about how nice it is to kill pirates.
If this sounds like O'Rourke is rambling, he is. The book is directionless and full of filler. At one point, O'Rourke lists all the different dictionary definitions of freedom; in various places he quotes at length from other authors (Ann Coulter, for one). I suppose there is one benefit to the reader -- the most intelligent material in the book comes from outside sources, including Milton and Rose Friedman on why government spending is inefficient (p.71).
But on whole the book is listless, not well thought out, not funny, and quite boring. I was amused to see that the last word of the book ("proverbs") was misspelled ("proberbs"). I interpret this to mean that even O'Rourke's editors at Grove/Atlantic were not able to get to the end of this drivel.