Wit, wisdom, information and idiocy

Posted: May 27, 2003 12:00 AM

Wit, wisdom, information and idiocy on various topics - by others...

Washington Post financial columnist Steven Pearlstein, on excesses in corporate compensation: "Executive pay is set in a market that suffers from just about every imperfection known to economists: limited numbers of buyers and sellers, imperfect and asymmetric information, collective action failures, and disconnect between the interest of principals (shareholders) and their agents (directors). In other words, the market is rigged. ... Executive compensation has become a racket and a con game - one that is economically distortive, morally bankrupt, and socially divisive. It tops the list of the corporate reform agenda. And until it is fixed, faith in American capitalism cannot be restored."

Isaiah 6:8, engraved on the Night Stalker Memorial Wall commemorating those killed in action from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment at Fort Campbell, Ky.: "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send?' and 'Who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'"

Radical novelist Norman Mailer: "With their dominance in sport, at work, and at home eroded, Bush thought white American men needed to know they were still good at something. That's where Iraq came in. ... The great white stars of yesteryear were for the most part gone, gone in football, in basketball, in boxing, and half-gone in baseball. ... On the other hand, the good white American male still had the armed forces."

Marguerite Kelly, mother of the late columnist Michael Kelly, regarding his April 3 death in a Humvee accident following a Saddamite ambush: "(Mike was) not perfect, of course, but he was mine and he suited us so well. (His) political column could be fierce and it infuriated some readers, but he was a sunny, funny fellow who made fun of himself, easily and often. That boy could make a dog laugh. A humble man, an honest man - a moralist, really - he was always true to himself. Although sometimes given to hyperbole, he said what he meant, whether anyone liked it or not, and he never ran away from a bully, either on the playground as a child or on the battlefield as a man.

Mike threw himself into life and paid total, intense attention to the things that were important to him. He cooked splendid dinners for his wife; kayaked with his boys, told them wacky stories at night, and had them help him make small repairs around the house: the Three-man Fixing Company. He also dug in his garden with delight; ironed his own shirts (badly); painted his beach house (beautifully); called his sisters, his father, and me whenever he could; and read history, took longs walks, and occasionally went on retreats to meditate and pray. ... Lost memories, he knew, could not be replaced. But now it's my son who can't be replaced, and he mattered so much to me. There is no right time to lose a child."

Benjamin Franklin: "After three days men grow weary - of a wench, a guest and weather rainy."

ABC newsreader Peter Jennings, April 18, on blame for the looting of Iraqi artifacts: "(Iraq) has been a living archive of man's earliest history, where real connections can be made between then and now, which is why the Pentagon is being so widely criticized for not protecting the history when it captured the capital city. . The Pentagon has said, in reply, look, this is war, and stuff happens, the U.S. was fired on from the museum grounds. Not a satisfactory answer for people who say that if the U.S. managed to protect the Ministry of Oil, why not this repository of civilization? Why, they ask, is neglect forgivable?"

Veteran leftist icon, The Rev. William Sloan Coffin: "The axis of evil is not Iraq, North Korea and Iran. The axis of evil is environmental degradation, pandemic poverty and a world awash with weapons."

Christina Hoff Sommers, author of The War Against Boys, on what is happening to feminism: "The women's movement has been hijacked by a small group of chronically offended gender feminists who believe that women are from Venus and men are from Hell. Women who value harmony between the sexes and who are concerned about the plight of subjugated women throughout the world will have to find a way to get the movement back. ... If feminism is allowed to continue in this direction, we will soon be polarized along a fault line of gender. What we need is a Third Wave of the women's movement, which would revive classic equity feminism and base itself on accurate information, common sense and fairness."

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, senator from Massachusetts, on his wife - Teresa Heinz Kerry: "(She is) nurturing and incredibly loving, and fun, zany, witty. ... Definitely sexy. Very earthy, sexy, European. She knows how to speak with her eyes."

David Keating of the National Taxpayers Union: "Like old age, tax complexity has been creeping up on us. Item: Today, taxpayers must wade through 126 pages of instructions for the standard 1040 form, more than triple the number in 1975. Item: The current 1040A "short" form has double the number of lines that appeared on the 1945 version of the standard 1040 tax return. Its 85-page instruction booklet now tops the "long" Form 1040 instructions published just seven years ago. Item: The IRS prints at least 1,101 publications, forms and instructions, which contain 16,339 pages, up from 943 documents with 12,933 pages just two years ago. Item: Since 1980 the H&R Block fee (for tax preparation) has increased 311 percent, or 77 percent after adjusting for inflation. Item: Americans toil for about 6.42 billion hours on tax forms and record keeping, accounting for 84 percent of the federal government's entire paperwork burden."