July 18, 2013

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”


“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
       Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
       British writer, wit and lexicographer  
       Remark by Johnson during a discussion with friends at a tavern, first quoted by James Boswell in The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791) 
       In his biography of Johnson, Boswell added this note about the quote: “But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self-interest.”
       Although Johnson’s dictionary was the first major dictionary of the English language and hugely significant, he poked fun at himself in this pioneering work by defining the word Lexicographer as: “A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of words.”

“Raising the specter of terror has become the last refuge of scoundrels.”

       Margaret Kimberley 
       Progressive journalist and blogger
       Comment in a June 2013 edition of her “Freedom Rider” column. Kimberley’s piece discussed how Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked details about the US government’s surveillance of emails and phone calls, had been vilified by President Obama and Republican and Democratic members of Congress who defended the massive, secrecy-shrouded electronic snooping program by claiming it protects Americans from terrorists.
       (Cartoon by Jeff Parker.)



“Edward Snowden is a reminder that patriotism — as Samuel Johnson noted two and a half centuries ago — is the last refuge of a scoundrel...He may be a hero in the eyes of civil libertarians, but he has also turned around and placed those very citizens in potential jeopardy by passing secrets to China, and, perhaps Russia. Snowden originally tried to portray himself as a lonely hero speaking truth to power. He now comes off as a smug, narcissistic Benedict Arnold.”
       Paul Brandus 
       Political journalist and columnist for The Week magazine 
       In his June 25, 2013 column on TheWeek.com
       (Cartoon by Chappatte.)


“PATRIOTISM, n. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name. In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.”
       Ambrose Bierce (1842-c. 1914)  
       American journalist and curmudgeon 
       This is one of his characteristically sarcastic definitions in The Devil’s Dictionary, first published as a book in 1906 but originally begun in his newspaper columns in 1881. Bierce defined the word Patriot as: “The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors.”
       (Portrait of Ambrose Bierce painted by John H. E. Partington.)


“Religion is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Patriotism is next to last.”
       Andy Rooney (1919-2011)
       American journalist and avowed atheist, best known for his commentaries on the 60 Minutes television series 
       This was one of the biting remarks made in his syndicated news column about President Ronald Reagan’s January 1987 “State of the Union” speech. In that speech, Reagan ducked any mention of the huge controversy over the Iran-Contra scandal and tried to divert attention from that issue by focusing on the debate over allowing prayers in public school. (Reagan was for it, of course.)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading…

July 5, 2013

“The gift that keeps on giving” – updated for the era of Obamacare and Glitterbug soap…


“The gift that keeps on giving.”
An old advertising slogan of uncertain origin
       This familiar ad slogan has been used for various products by various companies since the early 1900s. One of the first high-profile uses appears to have been by the
Victor Talking Machine Company (later absorbed into RCA Victrola), to promote phonographs and records. In fact, it was trademarked for that purpose in 1925. However, the phrase predates that trademark and, along with the variation “Gifts that keep on giving,” it has been used to promote banks, kitchen appliances, Kodak cameras, flowers and many other services and products during the past century.
       In recent decades, the phrase has become a cliché that’s often used for humorous effect. For example, in the 1980s, the spread of genital herpes led to the jokey take-off:
“Herpes: the gift that keeps on giving.”


“It’s the gift that just keeps on giving. For Republican political strategists, having Obamacare is like being in the Beer of the Month Club. Every month, you get a new care package in the mail.”
       Brad Todd
       Republican media consultant
       Commenting on “Obamacare” and the one-year delay in the controversial health insurance program that was recently announced by the White House. (In an article posted on Politic.com on July 3, 2013.)


“Because Parkinson’s demanded of me that I be a better man, a better husband, father, and citizen, I often refer to it as a gift. With a nod to those who find this hard to believe, especially my fellow patients who are facing great difficulties, I add this qualifier — it’s the gift that keeps on taking...but it is a gift.”
Michael J. Fox
       American actor and patient advocate 
Explaining some positive ways his life was affected by having Parkinson’s Disease, in his book A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future (2010)


“Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving.”
Erma Bombeck (1927-1996)
       American humorist, newspaper columnist and author
is widely credited with coining this line, though the source is rarely cited. It comes from one of her witty newspaper columns, published in May 1987 with the headline “Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving.” In the article, she wrote: “The passing of guilt from parent to child is a dying art. That’s right. The ‘gift that keeps on giving’ has tapered off because working mothers feel sorry for their children and don’t want to burden them with more pressure…We’re talking about an American tradition here that is as old as dirt. Guilt should never be considered a curse that is passed on, but rather a bonus for having children of your own where the power shifts and you have your day in the sun.”


“Humor is a profound elixir, practically a panacea. It’s the gift that keeps on giving...It’s portable and inexpensive and ingratiating. Humor breaks the ice and soothes the soul. It connects and bonds you to like-minded weirdos — a term of endearment in my book.”
Mary Matalin
       Republican political consultant and media pundit
Discussing a topic she apparently agrees on with her Democratic guru husband James Carville, in her book Letters to My Daughters (2004)


“Do I have any gripes about LUSH? Well... yes. One word: Glitter. It’s the herpes of the craft world; once it’s introduced into an environment, it never leaves. The gift that keeps on giving... you a rash.” 
“Sara B.” (a witty former Yelp.com reviewer whose Yelp account is now closed)
In her now-deleted review of the LUSH bath and cosmetic products that contain small amounts of glitter, such as LUSH Glitterbug soap (shown at left) and LUSH Glitterbug Lotion.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading:

Copyrights, Disclaimers & Privacy Policy

Creative Commons License
Copyright © Subtropic Productions LLC

The Quote/Counterquote blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. Any duplicative or remixed use of the original text written for this blog and any exact duplications the specific sets of quotations collected for the posts shown here must include an attribution to QuoteCounterquote.com and, if online, a link to http://www.quotecounterquote.com/

To the best of our knowledge, the non-original content posted here is used in a way that is allowed under the fair use doctrine. If you own the copyright to something we've posted and think we may have violated fair use standards, please let me know.

Subtropic Productions LLC and QuoteCounterquote.com are committed to protecting your privacy. We will not sell your email address, etc. For more details, read this blog's full Privacy Policy.