September 14, 2020
Buy This Book or We’ll…
By Steven Longenecker
Dear reader, With 20 books now to his name, our editor in chief P.J. O’Rourke is still less than enthused about marketing those books. So instead, he’s turned it over to me, his magazine publisher and erstwhile editor. You can help me ensure he doesn’t regret it… But first, a step back. If you’ve read American Consequences for any time at all, we hope that P.J. O’Rourke needs little introduction… He’s one of America’s most beloved political satirists – and has been mocking bad politics and worse economics for nearly 50 years.
- The Wall Street Journal has branded him “the funniest writer in America.”
- The Chicago Tribune went further… “To say that P. J. O’Rourke is funny is like saying the Rocky Mountains are scenic – accurate but insufficient.”
- And according to 60 Minutes, P.J. is the most-quoted living man in The Penguin Dictionary of Modern Humorous Quotations.
P.J. got his start in the “underground” newspapers of the 1960s. In the ’70s, he worked as the managing editor, then editor in chief, of the National Lampoon magazine. And he’s been a foreign correspondent for Rolling Stone and the Atlantic Monthly, covering combat, rebellion, rioting, and general unpleasantness from the civil war in Lebanon through the Iraq War. While doing all that, he’s written a score of books… three of which hit the New York Times bestseller list – Parliament of Whores and Give War a Chance both capturing the No. 1 spot. And Eat the Rich is one of the most indispensable books on economics that I’ve ever read. And of course, a few years ago, he helped us launch this little online political and financial magazine. Through it all, he’s effortlessly funny. Reading his work is refreshing. His jokes sparkle with original thought and truths about human nature… an appreciated reprieve from the mean-spirited jabs so common with today’s social-media mob mentality and too-serious megamedia world. As P.J. puts it so well…
I make fun of things for a living. But over the years I’ve found that making fun of things can be an excellent way to understand them. And making fun also causes me to be a neutral referee. I don’t take sides. The absurd is the absurd whether you find it on the left, on the right, or in the middle.
Reading a P.J. O’Rourke essay or book is a rare moment of easy-going humor in a mad world. It’s a bull session with a lifelong friend – a time to expound on outrageous ideas and figure out what you really think – free of judgement and with abundant laughter. And his latest book, A Cry from the Far Middle: Dispatches from a Divided Land, is exactly what America needs today. P.J. introduces the book like this…
America is in need of some explaining, especially at the moment.
That the country is a mess is the one thing the country agrees on. And even about this we differ. Half the nation seems to be saying, “We don’t know what’s wrong with America, but we can fix it,” while the other half says, “There’s nothing wrong with America, and we can fix that“…
Everything is much more wrong than it ever was, and we are much more right about it. We’re all mad at each other and incensed that others are furious with us. It’s a sort of permanent anti-Christmas, an obligatory holiday exchange where we’re bound to receive umbrage and compelled to give offense.
And he ends with a wonderful ode titled “What I Like About U.(S.A.)”… including fast food, suburban sprawl, and traffic jams. The reasons why are both surprising and instantly relatable to any American. In between are essays on the Electoral College… the difference between Coastal folks and Heartlanders… “Robin Hood” arithmetic… the return of lemon-sucking puritans and stiff-necked pettifoggers… the difference between his kids’ education and his own (and how it might be of aid to the nation)… and even a draft of what the next presidential inaugural address should sound like. Here are only a few of the dozens and dozens of lines that I highlighted while reading…
- Our country was founded by the delusional and the crazy, populated by the desperate and the unwilling, motivated by most of the Seven Deadly Sins, and is somehow… the richest and most powerful nation on earth, ever.
- Government shutdown? Our government is so bad at everything that it can’t even do nothing right.
- The only kind of people we should want to be president are the kind of people we’d have to drag, cursing and kicking, into the Oval Office.
- When I read 1984 in high school I thought, “This is what the commies are doing in the Soviet Union.” When I read 1984 in college I thought, “This is what the Man is doing in AmeriKKKa.” But when I read it as a mature (that is to say, old and worried) adult, I was shocked. I realized, “This is what we’re doing to ourselves!“
- If you’re woke you must stay “conscious” in order to continually “communicate” how “vigilant” you are about “toxic masculinity,” how “mindful” you’re becoming about “cultural appropriation,” and how “committed” you are to “no platform” people who disagree with you by, for instance, putting your vocabulary in quotation marks.
- When it comes to self-analysis, drugs are a one-man birthday party. You don’t get any presents you didn’t bring.
Every week, we have dozens of readers who have found us here at American Consequences because they love P.J.’s writing – and now we get to return the favor. Today is your chance for a healthy dose of something we could all use in America… a bit of absurdity in this solemn pandemic-and-politics year. If you ever have the chance to grab a Dewars and soda with P.J., please jump on the opportunity. Until then, buy his latest book, pour a drink of your own, and settle in for a delightful read. Click here to get your copy of A Cry from the Far Middle on Amazon. Now here are some of the stories we’re reading… Listen to P.J. Live Today at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, Hosted by the CATO Institute Please join CATO Institute Executive Vice President David Boaz for a conversation with “America’s funniest writer” and Cato H. L. Mencken Research Fellow P.J. O’Rourke. Bulwark Podcast: P.J. O’Rourke on A Cry From the Far Middle On this Bulwark Podcast, P.J. O’Rourke joins Charlie Sykes to discuss his new book: A Cry from the Far Middle: Dispatches from a Divided Land. Let’s Hold On to the Throwaway Society Disposable products aren’t merely more convenient than the alternative; they’re also safer, particularly during a pandemic but also at any other time. And they have other virtues: the throwaway society is healthier, cleaner, more economical, less wasteful, less environmentally damaging – and yes, more “sustainable” than the green vision of utopia. The numbers tell us the economy is better, but millions of Americans aren’t feeling it A new divide has emerged between the haves and have-nots – with the have-nots the ones whose livelihoods has been most disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Read our latest issues of American Consequences by clicking here. And let us know what you’re reading at [email protected]. Regards, Steven Longenecker Publisher, American Consequences With P.J. O’Rourke and the Editorial Staff September 15, 2020 P.S. What shall we do if you don’t buy P.J.’s newest book? Should we “go big” and threaten to riot in cities across America? We might as well take credit for the next inevitable protest-turned-free-Gucci-for-all. And indeed, in our next magazine, out this weekend, P.J. has written a fabulous essay titled “The Joy of Rioting.” Or, could we duplicate the famous “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog” 1973 National Lampoon cover? Though, with the COVID-19 pandemic stressing everyone out, we’d rather keep our pups right where they are. We doubt threatening a goldfish would have the same effect. Instead, we will embrace our libertarian roots and promise to do absolutely nothing. Nonetheless, we can’t
recommend A Cry from the Far Middle highly enough. Buy this book. And after you’ve read it, give it to a friend. It is exactly what America needs at this very moment.