Quotables: on celibacy, the media, robins, taxes, gardening chic, etc.

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Jun 02, 2005 12:00 AM

A potpourri of quotations on contemporary topics, large and small. . .

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, D.C., on alleviating the shortage of Catholic priests by allowing them to marry: "You know, optional celibacy is not a cure-all. There are many of our Protestant denominations that are having trouble filling their slots and would have an even greater trouble even if they weren't able to ordain women. So that has been a temporary surcease for their problems."

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Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona on a possible White House run in 2008: "You know what (the late former Arizona Congressman) Mo Udall would say: 'Presidential ambition is a disease that can only be cured by embalming fluid.'"

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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia - on whether "evolving notions of decency" regarding issues such as abortion and the death penalty should be legislated through statutes or judicial rulings: "If you think aficionados of a 'living' Constitution want to bring you flexibility, think again. You think the death penalty is a good idea? Persuade your fellow citizens to adopt it. You want a right to abortion? Persuade your fellow citizens and enact it. That's flexibility. Why in the world would you have it interpreted by nine lawyers?"

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ABC News president David Westin, on declines in newspaper readership and viewership of network news: "Both newspapers and evening newscasts still remain dominant news providers for many millions of Americans. . . . The issue isn't that the size of the news pie is shrinking . . . (but that) it is being sliced into smaller and smaller pieces. And the primary reason is simple: convenience."

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Westin (above) further: "If we want to serve as the news outlets for the millions of people who historically have turned to us each day, then we will need to go beyond mastering the new ways of reaching our audiences. We need to demonstrate to the American people, relentlessly, a quality of journalism so great that everyone recognizes it and no one can deny it. That way, when people look at all the myriad alternatives for their news, they will choose us - no longer because they lack any viable alternative but increasingly because, despite the alternatives, they value what we have to report."

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Yale epidemiology professor Durland Fish, on a new target of interest as a cause in the spread of Lyme disease, contracted by humans from the deer ticks - Fish and other researchers having ruled out raccoons, skunks, opossums, chipmunks, and catbirds as animals in which Lyme spirochetes hide: "We've long thought that mice were the primary reservoir of infection . . . (but) robins turn out to be really good reservoirs. There is research demonstrating that almost all ticks feeding on (robins) get infected."

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Jean-Baptiste Colbert, minister of finance to French King Louis XIV: "The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing."

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David Frum, author and columnist for the Canadian newspaper, National Post: "Many Americans see Canada as a kind of utopian alternative to the United States: a North American democracy with socialized medicine, same-sex marriage, empty prisons, strict gun laws, and no troops in Iraq. What they don't see is how precarious political support for this alternative utopia has become among Canadian voters in recent years."

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Jane Fonda, in her book, "My Life So Far," on being photographed in North Vietnam during the Vietnam War: "That two-minute lapse of sanity will haunt me until I die. . . . I realize that it's not just (a picture of) a U.S. citizen laughing and clapping on a (North) Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun: I am Henry Fonda's privileged daughter who appears to be thumbing my nose at the country that has provided (me with so many) privileges."

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Vermont writer Geoffrey Norman, on the latest in gardeners: "Gardening snobs are something new. These are the people who must have the best goatskin gloves - and make sure that you know it. A pure statement of the impulse is contained in this gem from style.com: 'If you're serious about breaking new ground, there are chic tools aplenty, like Hermes leather-handled trowels and shears, which look particularly lovely with Burberry's new flowered apron. And while Ugg has not yet come out with gardening shoes, Birkenstock's urethene clogs will protect your pedicure.' . . . Actually, if you call it 'dirt,' you are pretty much announcing, right there, that you are a gardening stiff. It is 'soil.' Always."