Here's part of the "Secret Guide to Computers & Tricky Living," copyright by Russ Walter, 32nd edition. For newer info, read the 33rd edition at


Our country is run by lawyers, who make & analyze laws requested by politicians, who start wars. Let’s peek at those lawyers, their politicians, and their wars.



Why do they call it “politics”? Because discussing it gets Aunt Polly ticked.

Conservative’s lament

Conservatives say:

If you’re young and not a liberal, you haven’t got a heart.

But if you’re old and not conservative, you haven’t got a brain!

That quote was attributed to Winston Churchill (Britain’s prime minister during World War 2), but according to his fans, there’s no record he ever said it. That thought was expressed by many people, including a French historian in the 1800’s. I call it the Conservative’s lament.

The lament is correct. Young people, forever optimistic, believe that the world will be a beautiful place if you treat everybody kindly and liberally. Old people, who’ve been mugged and cheated by many “nice-looking” people, become cynical.


When President Jimmy Carter and I were young, we both believed the Soviets would treat the rest of the world kindly if the rest of the world would treat them kindly. But then the Soviets, without provocation, invaded Afghanistan. I was disillusioned, and Jimmy Carter was voted out of office.

When I was young, I believed that all people who claimed to be poor should be given generous welfare benefits. But after I chatted with many welfare recipients who used their money to eat in fancy restaurants, buy drugs, and visit prostitutes, I grew more cynical about the needs of the “needy.” Sure, there are members of society who are truly desperate and do need welfare money; and sure, the rich have a moral obligation to give large sums of money to the truly needy poor. But when I see the large percentage of welfare recipients who abuse and even laugh at the system, I want to cry.

When the governor of Alabama, George Wallace, was young, he ran for office on a platform of being nice to blacks. He even kissed black babies. He lost the race. Then he changed his tune, became a cynical anti-black segregationist, ran for office again, and — because he was a cynical segregationist — won! Although I don’t recommend imitating him (since segregation is immoral), his life proves one point: cynicism pays.

Why Democrats make me smile

Democrats tend to be liberal, and Republicans tend to be conservative. But what is “liberal,” and what is “conservative”? What’s the difference?

In 1974, Representative Craig Hosmer (Republican from California) published a funny list of differences in the Congressional Record. He got it from a source that wished to remain anonymous. Several people tried updating (or censoring) that list (especially Rowland Nethaway, senior editor of the Waco Texas Tribune-Herald, in 1998). Here’s my own attempt to update that list further:

Republicans raise dahlias, Dalmatians, and eyebrows.

Democrats raise hell, kids, and taxes.

Republicans employ exterminators.

Democrats step on the bugs.

Republicans go fishing on their boats.

Democrats stay fishing at the docks.

Democrats eat the fish they catch.

Republicans hang them on the wall.

Republicans grab financial pages and love them.

Democrats grab financial pages and shove them — into bird cages.

Republicans consume ¾ of all rutabaga produced in this country.

Democrats throw out the rest.

Republicans follow the plans their grandfathers made.

Democrats make up their own plans — but ignore them.

Democrats take individual delight in reading banned books.

Republicans form censorship committees to read those books as groups.

Democrats give their worn-out clothes to the less fortunate.

So do Republicans, who are smarter and take the tax deduction.

The junk along the road was thrown from car windows by Democrats,

but can’t be seen by Republicans from the back of their limos.

Democrats name their kids after athletes, entertainers, and politicians.

Republicans name their kids after the richest ancestors.

Republicans close their curtains at night — but needn’t bother.

Democrats leave their curtains open — to amuse Republicans.

Republican boys date Democrat girls.

They plan to marry Republican girls but feel entitled to a little fun first.

Republicans sleep in twin beds, often in separate rooms.

That’s why there are more Democrats.

Recently, it’s become less true that most Republicans are rich and most Democrats are poor. To predict how a person will vote, don’t ask about the person’s income; instead, ask about church attendance: Protestant “churchgoers” (who attend church at least once a week) tend to vote Republican.

Researchers have recently discovered an even more accurate way to determine who’ll vote Republican: ask what kind of God the voter believes in. If the voter believes God is vengeful (punishes sinners and other “bad people”), the voter will probably vote Republican; if the voter believes God is forgiving (like Jesus) or laissez-faire (he created the world but then left it alone), the voter will probably vote Democrat.

According to Democrat analysts, Republicans believe government should be like a stern father (tough police enforcement) while Democrats believe government should be like a loving mother (kind to the helpless). Why can’t we have both?

Obama’s good point

People are amazed that President Obama is our first multiracial president. But I’m more amazed at something else: he’s the first president who’s a caring, candid intellectual. Some other presidents have been caring, some have been candid, some have been intellectual, but Obama is the first president that has all 3 qualities simultaneously.

I don’t agree with all his decisions, but I like his style of getting there.

Adlai Stevenson’s lament

Adlai Stevenson was the brilliant egghead Democrat who ran for president against Eisenhower but lost. He made this comment about politicians and their speeches:

It’s often easier to fight for one’s principles than live up to them.

Cynical slogans

In the 1800’s, famous for corruption, this cynical slogan arose:

Vote early. Vote often.

Modern politicians follow 4 strategies:

Stand up for your principles — and to succeed, change them.

Speak decisively but without deciding anything.

To win the middle, embrace Joe Six-Pack. He has a big middle.

If you vote for what’s right, you won’t be left.

Modern candidates urge the public:

Don’t vote for who’s right. Vote for who’ll win!

Protest with your heart, but vote with your brain.

Folks fought for your freedom, but don’t too freely use freedom in ways we don’t like!

If you don’t vote, you can’t complain — but if you vote unwisely, we’ll complain about you!

Republican language

Republicans appeal to voters by changing the jargon. Here’s how the typical voter responds, according to Frank Luntz (a Republican pollster and spin doctor) and
Eric Effron (managing editor of The Week):

The voter doesn’t mind an “estate tax” but opposes it when called a “death tax.”

The voter is unsure about “tort reform” but favors it when called “ending lawsuit abuse.”

The voter is against “global warming” but accepts it when called “climate change.”

The voter is against “government eavesdropping” but accepts it when called “electronic intercepts.”

The voter is against “torture” but accepts it when called “aggressive interrogation techniques.”

The voter is against the U.S. starting an “invasion” but accepts it when called a “liberation.”

The voter is against war’s “escalation” but accepts it when called “troop surge.”

The voter is against war’s “civilian casualties” but accepts them when called “collateral damage.”

The voter is against the U.S. being an “occupying power” but accepts it when called a “coalition partner.”

The voter is against a U.S. “retreat” but accepts it when called a “phased troop redeployment.”

The voter is worried about “civil war” but less worried about it when called “sectarian strife.”

According to Mark Kleiman (a Democrat who’s a public-policy professor at UCLA) and his friends, here’s how Republicans redefine political terms:

Political term                   Republican definition

healthy forest                      no tree left behind

alternative energy sources   new places to drill for gas and oil

climate change                 progress toward the blessed day when blue states are swallowed by oceans

compassionate conservatism  poignant concern for the very wealthy

ownership society               civilization where just the owners have power

class warfare                       any attempt to raise the minimum wage

bankruptcy                          a means of escaping debt, available to corporations but not poor people

laziness                               when the poor aren’t working

leisure time                         when the rich aren’t working

growth                                 justification for tax cuts for the rich

simplify                                  reduce (especially the taxes of Republican donors)

honesty                               lies told in simple declarative sentences, such as “Freedom is on the march.”

stay the course                    continue to perform the same actions and expect different results

stuff happens                      I don’t have to live in Baghdad

voter fraud                          a significant minority turnout

No Child Left Behind          ensuring that stupid kids learn enough to get jobs in the military

pro-life                                valuing human life up until birth

creation science                   theory that Bush’s resemblance to a chimpanzee is just coincidental

woman                                a person trusted to raise a child but not to decide whether to have one

Patriot Act                        preemptive strike on American freedoms, to prevent terrorists from
                                           destroying them first


Republicans fear that the year 2029 will have these headlines:

Ozone from electric cars kills millions in 7th largest country, Mexifornia, formerly called California. White minorities still try to get English recognized as Mexifornia’s 3rd language.

Castro dies at age 112. Cuban cigars can now be imported legally, but President Chelsea Clinton has banned all smoking.

Baby conceived naturally; scientists stumped. Couple petitions court to reinstate heterosexual marriage.

Spotted-owl plague threatens Northwest crops and livestock. France pleads for global help after being taken over by Jamaica. New federal law requires registering all nail clippers, screwdrivers, fly swatters, and rolled-up newspapers. Postal Service raises price of 1st-class stamp to $17.89 and reduces mail delivery to just Wednesdays. IRS sets lowest tax rate at 75%. 85-year 75-billion-dollar study says diet & exercise are keys to weight loss. Supreme Court decides:  punishing criminals violates their civil rights. Massachusetts executes last remaining conservative.


The Internet says the government’s decided to change the national emblem from an eagle to a condom, which more accurately reflects the government’s political stance:

It permits inflation, halts production, destroys the next generation, protects a bunch of pricks, and gives you a sense of security while you’re actually being screwed.


Let’s take a look back at George W. Bush. We journalists were thrilled when he became president, because he gave us somebody to make fun of!

Imitated Carson Here’s why America voted for George W. Bush and made him president: he resembled Johnny Carson. Like Johnny Carson, Bush smiled and was a semi-intellectual affable joker.

That’s what America wanted in a president: a talk-show host who smiled. That’s what America got. But after 8 years, America got tired of seeing the same old smiles and changed channels.

Bush outsourced While Bush was president, this news flash appeared on the Internet:

Congress announced the Presidency will be outsourced to India. The move’s being made to save the president’s $400,000 yearly salary and the record 521 billion dollars in deficit expenditures and related overhead the office incurred during the last 5 years.

Mr. Bush was told by e-mail of his termination.

The office of president will be assumed by Mr. Gurvinder Singh of Indus Teleservices, Mumbai, India. He’s eligible for the Presidency because he was born in the U.S. while his Indian parents vacationed at Niagara Falls.

Singh’s future

He’ll be paid $320 a month but no health coverage or other benefits.

Because of the time difference between the U.S. and India, he’ll work mainly at night, when most U.S. government offices are closed; but he can handle the job without support staff. He said, “Working nights will let me keep my day job at the American Express call center.”

Singh isn’t fully aware of all presidential issues; but that’s okay, since Bush wasn’t familiar with them either. Singh will rely on a script that lets him respond to most topics. Using those canned responses, he can address common concerns without understanding the underlying issues. A spokesman said, “We know those scripts work. President Bush used them successfully for years.”

Singh might have difficulty producing a Texas drawl; but Bush recently abandoned that “down home” persona anyway, to appear more intelligent.

Bush was given the outplacement services of Manpower, Inc. to help him write a résumé and prepare for his next job. According to Manpower, Bush might have difficulty securing a new position, since his practical work experience is limited. A greeter position at Wal-Mart was suggested because of his extensive hand-shaking experience and phony smile.

Grading the presidents

Of all the U.S. presidents, who was the best? Who was the worst? Occasionally, surveys were taken of scholars (historians and other analysts), to get their opinions. The scholars were asked to rank all the presidents, from best to worst.

Details of 17 surveys are at:

Here’s my summary of the 4 most important surveys. They were done in 2005, 2009, and 2010. For each survey, I translated the rankings into letter grades: the 3 top presidents got A+, the 3 bottom presidents got F-, the middle-ranked Presidents got C, and the other presidents got grades that are in-between:

                                                      2005 2009    2010 2010

President                      Party   WSJ     C-SPAN  Siena   USPC    Avg.

  1. George Washington none      A+         A+            A           A+         A+

  2. John Adams               Fed        B           B-             B-          B           B

  3. Thomas Jefferson      D-R       A           A-             A           A           A

  4. James Madison          D-R       C+         C+            A           B-          B

  5. James Monroe           D-R       B-          B              A-         B           B

  6. John Quincy Adams   D-R       D+         C+            C+         C           C

  7. Andrew Jackson         Dem      B+         B              B           B+         B+

  8. Martin Van Buren      Dem      D+         D              C           D           D+

  9. William Henry Harrison   Whig                  F               F+                      F+

10. John Tyler                  Whig     F+         F+             F+         F           F+

11. James Polk                 Dem      B+         B              B+         B-          B

12. Zachary Taylor              Whig     F+         D              D-         F+         D-

13. Millard Fillmore         Whig     F           F               F           F           F

14. Franklin Pierce       Dem      F-          F-             F           F-          F-

15. James Buchanan        Dem      F-          F-             F-          F-          F-

16. Abraham Lincoln       Rep       A+         A+            A+         A+         A+

17. Andrew Johnson        Dem      F           F-             F-          F           F

18. Ulysses Grant           Rep       D           C-             C-          D           D+

19. Rutherford Hayes      Rep       C-          D-             D           D-         D

20. James Garfield           Rep                    D+            D+                      D+

21. Chester Arthur            Rep       D+         D              C-          D-         D+

22 & 24. Grover Cleveland Dem      B           C              C+         C           C+

23. Benjamin Harrison     Rep       D-         D+            D-         F+         D-

24. William McKinley      Rep       B-          B-             C           C+         C+

26. Theodore Roosevelt   Rep       A           A              A+         A           A

27. William Howard Taft  Rep       C           C              C-          D+         C-

28. Woodrow Wilson       Dem      B+         A-             A-         A           A-

29. Warren Harding         Rep       F-          F               F-          F-          F-

30. Calvin Coolidge         Rep       C-          D+            D+         D           D+

31. Herbert Hoover          Rep       D-         F+             F+         D+         D-

32. Franklin Roosevelt    Dem      A+         A+            A+         A+         A+

33. Harry Truman            Dem      A-         A              A-         A-         A-

34. Dwight Eisenhower    Rep        A-         A-             B+         B+         A-

35. John Kennedy           Dem      B-          A              B+         B-          B+

36. Lyndon Johnson       Dem      C+         B+            B-          B           B

37. Richard Nixon           Rep       D-         D+            D           C-          D+

38. Gerald Ford               Rep       D           C              D+         C-          C-

39. Jimmy Carter             Dem      F+         C-             D-         C+         D+

40. Ronald Reagan        Rep       A-         B+            C+         B+         B+

41. George H.W. Bush     Rep       C           C+            C           C-          C

42. Bill Clinton                Dem      C-          B-             B           C           C+

43. George W. Bush         Rep       C+?       F+             F           D-         D-

44. Barack Obama           Dem                                   B-?        A-?        B+

The rightmost column shows the average of the 4 surveys.

Here’s a summary of the rightmost column:

       Which presidents got that average

A+  George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt

A    Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt

A-   Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower

B+  Andrew Jackson, John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama

B    John Adams, James Madison, James Monroe, James Polk, Lyndon Johnson

B-   nobody

C+  Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Bill Clinton

C    John Quincy Adams, George H.W. Bush

C-   William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford

D+  Martin Van Buren, Ulysses Grant, James Garfield, Chester Arthur, Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon

D    Rutherford Hayes

D-   Zachary Taylor, Benjamin Harrison, Herbert Hoover, George W. Bush

F+   William Henry Harrison, John Tyler

F     Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson

F-   Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Warren Harding

Here are more details about the surveys:

In 2005, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), working with James Lindgren of Northwestern U. Law School and the Federalist Society, surveyed 78 scholars (30 historians, 25 political scientists, and 23 law professors) and told them to judge each president on 2 factors: “his presidency’s accomplishments” and the “leadership he provided the nation.” It tried to give equal weight to conservative scholars and liberal scholars. For example, Republican-leaning scholars thought George W. Bush was A-, but Democrat-leaning scholars thought he was F+, so his grade is a compromise: C+.

In 2009, C-SPAN surveyed 65 scholars (historians and other professional presidential analysts) and told them to judge each president on 10 factors: international relations, economic management, crisis leadership, administrative skills, relations with Congress, public persuasion, moral authority, agenda-setting vision, pursued equal justice for all, and performance within context of times.

In 2010, Siena College (a Catholic College in Loudonville NY) surveyed 238 scholars and told them to judge each president on 20 factors: foreign-policy accomplishments, domestic accomplishments, handling the economy, executive appointments, court appointments, relationship with Congress, ability to compromise, willingness to take risks, communication ability, leadership ability, executive ability, overall ability, intelligence, avoiding crucial mistakes, integrity, imagination, party leadership, background, luck, and overall impression.

In 2010, the United States Presidency Centre (USPC) at the University of London surveyed 47 British specialists in U.S. history & politics and told them judge each president on 5 factors: foreign-policy leadership, domestic leadership, moral authority, agenda-setting vision, and historical significance. The results were published in 2011.

Here are more comments about the presidents:

Brief presidents William Henry Harrison and Garfield were presidents just briefly. (William Henry Harrison was president just 31 days until he died of pneumonia. Garfield was president just 200 days because he was shot.) Because there wasn’t much data about them, WSJ and USPS didn’t grade them.

Lincoln era Lincoln gets A+. The presidents before him (Fillmore & Pierce & Buchanan) get F or F- because their incompetence led to Civil War — though as Kennedy pointed out, don’t be so quick to criticize Buchanan until you thoroughly understand what dilemmas he faced. The president after Lincoln (Andrew Johnson) gets F because he badly handled the South’s reconstruction from the Civil War.

Mixed bags John Quincy Adams, Van Buren, and Taft accomplished a lot during their lifetimes but not during their presidencies, so their presidential grades are mediocre. Kennedy was a mixed bag: he had nice rhetoric but didn’t accomplish much. Nixon was a mixed bag: he did some things that were wonderful and some things that were terrible.

Recent presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were presidents just recently, so it’s too early to grade their accomplishments accurately. Some surveys omitted them or gave them question marks.

Charlie Rose chatted with famous historians about presidents, candidly, at:

Economic policy

Politicians try to create an economic policy.

Reagan’s summary

Ronald Reagan complained that the government’s economic policy can be summed up in 3 sentences:

If it moves, tax it.

If it keeps moving, regulate it.

If it stops moving, subsidize it.

One-armed economist

The first president to appoint a council of economic advisors was Harry Truman. He enjoyed hearing the advisors’ comments but wished they’d be more definitive.

He moaned, “Give me a one-armed economist,” because he was tired of listening to economists who gave reasonable advice followed by, “On the other hand…”


Here’s a tale from the Internet:

A surgeon, an architect, and an economist were arguing about which profession was the most important and godly.

The surgeon said, “God’s a surgeon: the first thing He did was extract Eve from Adam’s rib.”

The architect said, “No, God’s an architect: He built the world in 7 days out of chaos.”

The economist smiled, “And who made the chaos?”

2 cows

Economics courses often begin with this lecture:

In ancient times, a farmer had 2 cows. His neighbor had 2 chickens. The farmer wanted a chicken, so he bartered with his neighbor: he’d swap one of his cows for the neighbor’s chicken. Then each farmer could produce his own milk and eggs and was happy — until the first farmer realized the cow-chicken swap ripped him off, since he spent more labor raising the cow than the neighbor spent raising the chicken. That’s why bartering is unfair and inadequate — and why currency was invented.

When the Internet was invented, folks started posting jokes about how different types of governments and political beliefs would treat the 2-cow farmer differently. Here are examples:

Countries around the world

Communist Russia: You have 2 cows. The government seizes both and produces milk. You wait in line for hours to get it. It’s expensive & sour.

Modern Russia: You have 2 cows. You count them, realize you have 4, drink more vodka, count the cows again, realize you have eleventy-six, drink more vodka, and fall asleep. Upon waking, you realize eleventy isn’t a number. You count the cows again and have 2 cows. You drink more vodka and try to drown the loss of eleventy-four cows. The Mafia shows up and takes over your cows.

China: You have 2 cows. 300 people try milking them, so you claim full employment & bovine productivity but arrest the reporter who revealed the numbers.

Japan: You have 2 cows. You reengineer them so they’re a tenth as big and produce 20 times the milk. You teach them to travel on crowded trains, bow to each other, and do well at cow school. You sell cow cartoons, called Cowkimon, worldwide.

Israel: 2 Jewish cows open a milk factory and ice-cream store then sell the movie rights and send their calves to Harvard to become doctors.

Italy: You have 2 cows but don’t know where they are. While looking for them, you see a beautiful woman, so you break for lunch.

France: You have 2 cows but want 3, so you go on strike, eat lunch, and drink wine. Life is good.

Switzerland: You charge for storing 5000 cows that don’t belong to you.

Cuba: Your 2 cows swam away to Florida.

India: You have 2 cows. You worship both of them.

Quebec: You’re allowed 2 cows just if the French-speaking one is bigger than the English-speaking one.

Afghanistan’s Taliban: You get executed because your 2 cows are infidels and you’re accused of teaching those female bovines to read.

United Nations: France & Russia veto you from milking your 2 cows. The U.S. & Britain veto the cows from milking you. China abstains.

American political activists

Democrat: You have 2 cows but your neighbor has none, so you feel guilty and vote for politicians who tax your cows. To get money to pay the tax, you sell a cow. The government uses the tax to buy a cow and give it to your neighbor. You feel righteous. Barbra Streisand sings for you.

Republican: You have 2 cows. Your neighbor has none. So what?

Libertarian: Go away! What I do with my cows is none of your business!

Constitutionalist: You can’t have cows. Our God-given Constitution doesn’t mention cows, so they don’t exist.

U.S. bureaucracy

U.S. farm policy: You have 2 cows. The government takes both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, then pours it down the drain.

U.S. foreign policy: You have 2 cows. The government taxes you enough so you must sell both, to support a man (in a foreign country) who has just 1 cow, which was a gift from your government.

Food & Drug Administration (FDA): You have 2 cows. To test, you make the first cow drink 400 gallons of water a day. It dies, so you ban water. The other cow has cancer, but you ban cancer pills because making them requires water, so that cow dies.

Automated phone system: You have 2 cows? Press 1 if that’s correct, 2 otherwise.… Please hold while we connect you to an operator.…
(Moo-zak)… Please continue to hold. Your cows are important to us.

American security

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA): You have 2 cows but can’t tell anyone about them. Yesterday they weren’t at your farm. Today they’re not there, again. If you ever have 2 cows, they have no names. You have no name. I have no name. Nobody has any names. Got it?

Disclaimer: Warning! Your 2 cows can cause bodily injury if not treated properly. Keep out of reach of children. We can’t be held responsible for any bodily injury sustained by interacting with cows.

American financiers

Capitalist: You have 2 cows. You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd.

American corporation: You have 2 cows. You sell one, lease it back to yourself, and do an IPO on the second one. You force the 2 cows to produce the milk of 4, so one cow drops dead. You’re surprised but tell analysts you’ve downsized and cut expenses. Your stock goes up.

Enron: You have 2 cows. From your bank, you borrow 80% of the forward value of the 2 cows, then buy another cow, with 5% down and the rest financed by the seller (on a note callable if your market cap goes below $20 billion) at a rate 2 times prime. You sell the 3 cows to your publicly listed company using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at another bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated offer so you get 4 cows back, with a tax exemption for keeping 5 cows. The milk rights of 6 cows are transferred through a Panamanian intermediary to a Cayman Islands company owned secretly by the majority shareholder, who sells the rights to 7 cows’ milk back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns 8 cows, with an option on one more. The public buys your bull.


Florida: You have 2 cows: 1 black, 1 white. You hold an election to see which is best. Some preferring the white cow accidentally vote for the black; some vote for both; some don’t vote at all; some vote correctly but their votes are declared invalid. Outsiders come and decide which cow is your favorite.

California: You have a cow and a bull. The bull is depressed because it spent its life living a lie, so it gets a sex-change operation, taxpayer-paid. Now you have 2 cows: 1 makes milk, the other doesn’t. You try selling the transgender cow, but its lawyer sues you for discrimination. To pay damages, you sell the milk-generating cow. Now you have one transgender, rich, non-milk-producing cow, so you change your business to beef. Then PETA pickets your farm, Jesse Jackson makes a speech in your driveway, the California legislature passes a law giving your farm to Mexico, and the LA Times quotes 5 anonymous cows claiming you groped their teats. You declare bankruptcy and shut down all operations. The cows starve to death.

Hollywood: You have 2 cows. You give them udder implants and teach them to dodge bullets, climb walls, and shoot milk from udders on command.

Arkansas: You have 2 cows. That one on the left is kinda cute.

Nevada: You have 2 cows. You charge lonely men from Arkansas to spend the night with them.


Racist: You have a black cow and a white cow. You abuse and fear the black cow. Then it produces less milk and becomes more violent. You say that proves the black cow was bad all along.

Rapper: You grew up with 2 cows but hated your parents, so you moved away at 16 and got shot. Now you have no cows. You say that’s because you’re black.

Affirmative action: You have 2 cows. The first cow has more black spots, so it gets into college.

Religious feelings

Catholic: You feel guilty for having 2 cows. Your priest says “Having cows is no sin; but if you feel guilt, free them and say 10 Hail Mary’s.”

Jehovah’s Witness: You have 2 cows. You go door-to-door, telling neighbors.

Vegan: You have 2 cows but must not use them.

Famous characters

Bart Simpson: You have 2 cows. Don’t have another cow, man!

Homer Simpson: You have 2 cows. Mmm… cows!

Spock: Dammit, Jim, you have 2 cows! They live long and prosper. That’s logical.

Dave Barry: You have 2 cows. They tend to explode. I’m not making this up.

Oprah: You get 2 cows. You get 2 cows. You all get 2 cows!

George W. Bush: You have 2 cows. You own them. We’ll give those 2 cows back to you and invest another 2 of those cows in the stock market to pay your retirement, and we can sell 2 of those cows. My opponent will say that’s impossible, but he’s just trying to scare you to vote for old-government ways to do things. Under my plan, everyone gets cows back.

Rush Limbaugh: Did you see the news that tree-huggers are after a fellow who owns 2 cows? They say the cows’ gaseous emissions cause global warming. Meanwhile, the femi-Nazis say udders insult women’s bodies. Well, I’ll just keep eating cheeseburgers and shooting cows, because that’s why God made them. If white Christian men earn their cows, tax-and-spend Democrats have no right to give them away to welfare moms.

Donald Trump: You have the world’s 2 biggest cows. You form a reality show called “Cowprentice,” where cows compete to live on your farm. Then you discover your farm’s bankrupt.


Quantum physics: Your 2 cows might actually be 1 cow in 2 places.



Shakespeare recommended we kill all the lawyers. I recommend laughing at them instead.

John Adams

Arguing about laws can eat up lots of time & money. What a waste! What a shame!

President John Adams said:

In my many years, I’ve come to the conclusion that 1 useless man is a shame, 2 is a law firm, and 3 or more is a congress.

Courtroom bloopers

In courtrooms, lawyers asked these silly questions:

Did he kill you?

Was that the same nose you broke as a child?

How many times have you committed suicide?

Were you present when your picture was taken?

The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?

You were there until the time you left, is that true?

How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?

Was it you or your younger brother who was killed in the war?

Here are more courtroom transcripts of lawyers and witnesses having trouble communicating:

Are you sexually active?

No, I just lie there.

Have you lived in this town all your life?

Not yet.

Are you qualified to give a urine sample?

Yes, I have been since early childhood.

Doctor, did you say he was shot in the woods?

No, I said he was shot in the lumbar region.

What gear were you in at the moment of impact?

Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?

All my autopsies have been performed on dead people.

Officer, what led you to believe the defendant was under the influence?

Because he was argumentary and couldn’t pronunciate his words.

Did you tell your lawyer that your husband had offered you indignities?

He didn’t offer me nothing. He just said I could have the furniture.

What can you tell us about the truthfulness and veracity of this defendant?

Oh, she’ll tell the truth. She said she’d kill that son-of-a-bitch, and she did!

What did he do then?

He came home, and the next morning he was dead.

So when he woke up the next morning, he was dead?

Can you describe the individual?

He was about medium height and had a beard.

Was this a male or a female?

What is your relationship with the plaintiff?

She’s my daughter.

Was she your daughter on February 13, 1979?

Mrs. Johnson, how was your first marriage terminated?

By death.

And by whose death was it terminated?

Are you married?

No, I’m divorced.

And what did your husband do before you divorced him?

A lot of things I didn’t know about.

Did you blow your horn or anything?

After the accident?

Before the accident.

Sure, I played for 10 years. I even went to school for it.

How old is your son, the one living with you?

38 or 35, I can’t remember which.

How long has he lived with you?

45 years.

Do you recall the time you examined the body?

The autopsy started around 8:30 PM.

And Mr. Dennington was dead at the time?

No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy.

All your responses must be oral. Okay? What school do you go to?


How old are you?


What did the tissue samples taken from the victim’s vagina show?

There were traces of semen.

Male semen?

That’s the only kind I know of.

What was the first thing your husband said to you when he woke that morning?

He said, “Where am I, Cathy?”

Why did that upset you?

My name is Susan.


She had 3 children, right?


How many were boys?


Were there any girls?

Do you know how far pregnant you are right now?

I will be 3 months November 8.

Apparently then, the date of conception was August 8th?


What were you and your husband doing at that time?

Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?


Did you check for blood pressure?


Did you check for breathing?


So it’s possible the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?


How can you be so sure, doctor?

Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.

But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?

It’s possible he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere.

Those transcripts and other weirdos were recorded by court stenographers and collected in several anthologies, such as Humor in the Court (1977), More Humor in the Court, (1994), Disorderly Conduc. (1999), and Disorder in the Court (1999 and 2004).


If you’re a good lawyer, you can become a judge, whose job is to make nasty remarks to other lawyers.

Famous female judges Here’s a tale of two women; which would you rather be?

Both women are judges in the U.S. Both are over 60 years old.

The first woman runs a small-claims court, which decides little questions such as “Did this guy overcharge for cleaning a shirt?” The second woman is on the U.S. Supreme Court, which decides big questions such as “Is abortion legal?”

The second woman (Ruth Bader Ginsberg) seems to have a better career, except for one detail: the first woman gets paid more. A lot more! 210 times as much!

Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s salary is $213,900; the other woman’s salary is $45,000,000. That’s because the “other woman” is Judy Sheindlin, the “Judge Judy” on TV.

Which would you rather be: a respected Supreme Court jurist (like Ruth Bader Ginsberg) or a rich TV judicial comedian (like Judge Judy)?

Which of those women is more famous? Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s writings will become famous through U.S. history books, but at the moment more people know Judy Judy’s face. Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s decisions will change the laws of the land and how they’re interpreted, but Judge Judy is teaching more people how law works.

I’m glad we have both women.

How to become a judge A judge is supposed to be an old, wise person who’s all-knowing, solving all arguments on all topics.

The British comedy troupe called Beyond the Fringe told of a bloke who said:

I’m a miner but plan to become a judge. When you’re old, they say you can’t be a miner anymore; it’s just the opposite with judges. To prepare to be a judge, I’m reading a book called “The Universe and All That Surrounds It: an Introduction.”


Lawyers can be mean — and so are jokes about them.

Dogs Lawyers screw their clients’ opponents — then screw their own clients by charging large legal fees. Here’s a tale of how lawyers screw around:

An architect, a doctor, and a lawyer held a contest to see whose dog was smartest.

When the architect said “Go, Fifi,” his dog Fifi immediately constructed an exact replica of the cathedral of Chartres — out of toothpicks. Everybody clapped, and the architect gave Fifi a cookie.

Then the doctor said, “Go, Fluffy,” whereupon the doctor’s dog Fluffy immediately performed an emergency Caesarian section on a cow. The cow and calf came through the operation fine. Everybody clapped, and the doctor gave Fluffy a cookie.

Then the lawyer said, “Go, Fucker.” The lawyer’s dog fucked both other dogs, took their cookies, and went out to lunch.

More such tales are in Truly Tasteless Jokes (by Blanche Knott).

Barracuda When a boat got shipwrecked, barracuda ate all the passengers except the lawyers. Why not eat the lawyers? Professional courtesy!

Doctor versus lawyer When a doctor crashed his car into a lawyer’s, the lawyer asked the doctor, “Are you okay?” The doctor said, “Yeah.”

The lawyer said, “Have a drink.” The doctor took a swig from the flask and said “Thanks — aren’t you going to have one too?” The lawyer replied, “After the police get here.”

Noah’s Ark

Government creates lots of laws. So if Noah were living in the U.S. now, his tale would go like this:

The Lord told Noah, “A year from now, I’m going to make rain until the whole earth’s covered with water and all evil people are destroyed. I command you to build an Ark to save the righteous people and 2 of every living species.” In a flash of lightning, God delivered the Ark’s specifications.

One year later, the rain began falling. But the Lord saw Noah sitting in his front yard and weeping, with no Ark. “Noah,” shouted the Lord, “where’s the Ark?”

Noah replied, “Lord, forgive me. I did my best, but there were big problems.

“First, I had to get a building permit for the Ark. Your plans didn’t meet Code, so I had to hire an engineering firm to redraw them. Then I got into a fight with OSHA about the Ark needing a fire sprinkler system and approved flotation devices.

“My neighbors complained that to build the Ark in my front yard violated zoning ordinances, so I had to get a variance from the city planning commission.

“I had problems getting enough wood because there was a ban on cutting trees, to protect the Spotted Owl. I finally convinced the Forest Service I needed wood to save the owls, but the Fish & Wildlife Service won’t let me catch any owls.

“The carpenters formed a union and went on strike. I had to negotiate a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board before anyone would pick up a saw or hammer. Now the Ark has 16 carpenters but still no owls.

“When I started rounding up the other animals, I got sued by an animal-rights group objecting that I’d take just two of each kind. Just when I got that suit dismissed, the EPA said I couldn’t finish the Ark until I file an environmental-impact statement on your proposed flood. They didn’t take kindly to the idea they had no jurisdiction over the conduct of the universe’s Creator.

“The Army Corps of Engineers wanted a map of the proposed new flood plain. I sent them a globe.

“I’m trying to resolve the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s complaint about how many Croatians I must hire.

“The IRS seized all my assets because it claims my Ark’s goal is to flee the country to avoid paying taxes. The state sent a notice saying I owe a use tax and another saying I failed to register the Ark as a ‘recreational watercraft.’ The ACLU made the court issue an injunction against further construction, on the grounds that ‘God flooding the earth’ is a religious event and therefore unconstitutional.

“I can’t finish your Ark for at least 5 more years.”

The sky began to clear. The sun began to shine. A rainbow arched across the sky. Noah looked up and smiled. “You mean you’re not going to destroy the earth, Lord?”

“No,” He said sadly. “I don’t have to. The government did already.”

The original version of that was copyrighted in 1997 by Hugh Holub, and you can read it at Thanks, Hugh, for permission to print an edited version here!


Most wars are caused by xenophobia: fear of strangers. The best way to end wars is to share Pepsi and pizza.

Peace first

Before starting a war, try to resolve the conflict peacefully. If you absolutely must start a war, make sure you’re well prepared.

Will Rogers said:

Diplomacy is the act of saying “nice doggie” until you can find a rock.

Revolutionary wars

The American government says the September 11th terrorists did a despicable “cowardly” act. I thought the word “cowardly” strange: that’s probably what the British said about us hiding behind trees during the Revolutionary War.

In the Revolutionary War for the liberation of America, we hid behind trees and fired at the British. The British complained it was “unfair” we weren't standing in an easy-to-shoot line: we weren’t following the rules of war; we were unfairly terrorizing the British troops, whose families were quite upset.

In the Palestinian War for the liberation of Palestine, the pro-liberationists hid in planes and kamikazeed civilians in the World Trade Towers. We said it was “unfair” that they killed civilians instead of paid soldiers.

I guess what’s “fair” depends on which side you’re on.

America’s first popcorn war

Back in the early 1960’s, John Kemeny (who invented the Basic programming language) said wars should be replaced by video games, where the opponents would fight each other on screen, winner take all.

Here’s what actually happened… the time is March 2003, and you are there…

Saddam is attacked by Baby Bush, but the media treats the “War against Saddam” as a football game, like the Super Bowl. We wait for the referee to fire the opening shot. It’s the first scheduled war: “War will begin at 8PM EST.” We get stats on the players, with pre-game comments from the coaches and quarterbacks. We see whether Bush attacks up the middle or does an end-run around the defensive tackles; whether he lobs some passes up into the air or throws straight ahead, Tomahawk style; and whether the sides, in their strategy huddles, lift their fingers with fake signals to fool the enemy. The TV shows photos of the quarterbacks, Bush & Saddam, displayed side-by-side.

While watching the battle, I was sorry to be out of popcorn. I was eating a veggie burrito instead, which fortunately is non-political, since we haven’t attacked Mexico yet.

I waited for the Food Channel to show a snobby chef recommending the best food for war watching. “May we suggest the fillet? Perhaps after an aperitif?”

This war was funny: for the first time, Bush was seen by most of the world as more evil than so-damn-insane Saddam Hussein. I wondered when Bush would feel tired of fighting, “bushed.”

This whole war was based on sex. Bush & Blair (heads of the U.S. & England) were young, their penises still strong and frustrated, and they wanted to attack Saddam’s opening, to cum to an orgasmic conclusion to the crisis. The heads of France and Germany were older, tired, and wanted the young headstrong men to quiet down and stop disturbing Europe’s naptime.

After the battle, Bush and Saddam should have shaken hands and exchanged after-dinner mints.


When France objected to the American war on Saddam Hussein, Americans quoted these retorts:

“Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion.” — Jed Babbin

“The only time France wants us to go to war is when the German Army is sitting in Paris sipping coffee.” — Regis Philbin

“I don’t know why people are surprised that France won’t help us get Saddam out of Iraq. After all, France wouldn’t help us get the Germans out of France!” — Jay Leno

“What do you expect from a culture that exerted more of its national will fighting against Disney World and Big Macs than Nazis?” — Dennis Miller

“Here’s why the French don’t want to bomb Saddam Hussein: because he hates Americans and wears a beret. He’s French.” — Conan O’Brien

“I’d rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me.” — General George S. Patton

On the other hand, Jacques Chirac, who was France’s president, said:

As far as I’m concerned, war always means failure.

Military advice

Here’s advice from Infantry Journal about how to fight:

If the enemy is in range, so are you.

Try to look unimportant: they may be low on ammo.

If your attack’s going too well, you’re walking into an ambush.

5-second fuses last just 3 seconds.

Here’s more fighting advice, from members of the military:

When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend.

Don’t draw fire: it irritates the people around you.

Any ship can be a minesweeper… once.

Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid.

Never tell the platoon sergeant you have nothing to do.

Never be the first, never be the last, and never volunteer.

Here’s advice about flying, from the Air Force:

It’s generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed.

Try to stay in the middle of the air. Don’t go near its edges, which can be recognized by the appearance of mountains, ground, buildings, sea, trees, or interstellar space. It’s much more difficult to fly there!

Airspeed, altitude, and brains: two are always needed to successfully complete the flight.

When faced with a forced landing, fly the thing as far into the crash as possible.

Never fly in the same cockpit with someone braver than you.

Weather forecasts are horoscopes with numbers.

Flashlights are metal tubes kept in a flight bag to store dead batteries.

The only time you have too much fuel is when you’re on fire.

If you see a bomb technician running, follow him.

When one engine fails on a twin-engine plane, you always have enough power left to get you to the scene of the crash.

If you crash because of bad weather, your funeral will be on a sunny day.

Without ammo, the Air Force would be just another expensive flying club.

You’ve never been lost until you’ve been lost at Mach 3.

What’s the similarity between air-traffic controllers and pilots? If a pilot screws up, the pilot dies; if the ATC screws up, the pilot dies.

The 3 most famous last phrases in aviation are “Why is it doing that,” “Where are we,” and “Oh shit!”

The military likes to poke fun at itself:

Air Force weapons troops: “Without weapons, it’s just another airline.”

Navy intelligence: “In God we trust; all others we monitor. You didn’t see me, I wasn’t there, and I’m not here now.”

Army: “If you spell U.S. ARMY backwards, you find out what it really stands for: yes, my retarded ass signed up.”

Marines, U.S. Marine Corps.: “Here’s what M.A.R.I.N.E.S. stands for: muscles are required, intelligence not essential, sir! Here’s what U.S.M.C. stands for: Uncle Sam’s misguided children.”

Coast Guard: “Support search-and-rescue: get lost.”

That list is part of what’s on page 140 of Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, 18th edition. For more fun, get that edition and the other editions, too!


How does a “mechanical” engineer differ from a “civil” engineer? The Internet gives this answer:

Mechanical engineers build weapons.

Civil engineers build targets.

Whose shoes?

I feel sorry for Palestinians who live in Israel and want to make an honest living. Their thinking goes like this:

Yeah, go call me “Ali Baba.”

Do you want to buy a shoe?

Please don’t call me now an “Arab,”

And I won’t call you a “Jew.”

Say I’m just from Meso’tamia

Where our Western culture grew.

Say that Israel is for “us,” and

Not just “me” and not just “you.”

What about the intefada?

Is it just for infants there?

Can us old folks have some peace, or

Must we tear out all our hair?

I am just a kind commuter,

Not a looter, not a shooter.

My computer? Want to boot her

But no ’lectric power there.

Want to calm her, but the bombers

Coming out of both sides’ lairs

Make me wish I were a kishka

Or a hummus dumpling there.

Sure, go call me “Ali Baba.”

Do you want to buy a shoe?

Please don’t call me now an “Arab,”

And I won’t call you a “Jew.”

Call me “Frank.” I’ll call you “Moe.”

Then mo’e frank we both will go;

And our children, they will thank us,

And our parents will not spank us,

As together we will grow,

Searching for our heaven’s glow.

—   by Rasaalah Al-Walta

       (Russell Walter’s Arabic cousin)

Cute dictators

Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense under presidents Ford and Bush Junior. He bragged that Saddam Hussein met the same end as other bad dictators, such as Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, and that Romanian guy whose name is hard to spell.

But was Lenin so bad? Compared to Stalin, Lenin was cute.

So was Saddam’s son, Odai. Though Odai had a reputation for being even crueler than his dad, when I look at photos of him I just melt, because his face is so cute, because he looks like the Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni: he has the same cute smile and puppy-dog eyes. Too bad Odai’s dead: he could’ve had a wonderful movie career. His dad raised him wrong.

Osama Bin Laden — who dictated to terrorists — looked cute too. He looked just like the Jewish longhairs I went to school with. Too bad he disliked my group and started a cafeteria food fight, throwing airplanes. I don’t understand his goal: the Palestinian cause already got worldwide sympathy; what did he expect to gain by making Muslims disliked? He seemed immature. He was just a kid throwing temper tantrums, forcing the rest of the world to childproof everything, for protection from him.

African missionaries

Bishop Desmond Tutu, from South Africa, said:

When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, “Let us pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land.

Antiwar slogans

Antiwar protesters invented these slogans:

Slogan                                                                                                               Author

War is a mad game.                                                                                                Jonathan Swift

Draft beer, not people.                                                                                            Bob Dylan

In war, truth’s the first casualty.                                                                             Aeschylus

War makes thieves. Peace hangs them.                                                                George Herbert

When the rich wage war, it’s the poor who die.                                                   Jean-Paul Sartre

Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.                                                      anonymous

Old men dream up wars for young men to die in.                                               George McGovern

War doesn’t determine who’s right, just who’s left.                                                Bertrand Russell

Someday they’ll give a war and nobody will come.                                             Carl Sandburg

War is just a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.                                    Thomas Mann

A solider will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.                                 Napoleon

You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.                                 Jeanette Rankin

Civilization advances. In every war, they kill you in a new way.                         Will Rogers

The way to win an atomic war is to make certain it never starts.                             Omar Bradley

Unlike women, men menstruate by shedding other people’s blood.                       Lucy Ellman

Join the Army: see the world, meet interesting people, and kill them.                  1978 pacifist badge

Organized slaughter doesn’t settle a dispute. It just silences an argument.           James Green

War’s the only game where it doesn’t pay to have the home-court advantage.     Dick Motta

Everyone's a pacifist between wars. It’s like being a vegetarian between meals.  Colman McCarthy

If just one man dies of hunger, that’s a tragedy. If millions die, that's just statistics.  Joseph Stalin

All murderers are punished

unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.                             Voltaire

“There are no atheists in foxholes” isn’t an argument against atheism.

It’s an argument against foxholes.                                                                          James Morrow

A great war leaves the country with 3 armies:

an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.                       German proverb

Anyone who’s looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield

will think hard before starting a war.                                                                   Otto von Bismarck

If people want to make war they should make a color war,

and paint each others’ cities up in the night in pinks and greens.                            Yoko Ono

The problem in defense is how far you can go

without destroying from within what you’re trying to defend from without.       Dwight Eisenhower

If you shoot one person, you’re a murderer.

If you kill a few, you’re a gangster.

If you’re a crazy statesman who sends millions to their deaths, you’re a hero.      1939 newspaper

More antiwar slogans are at: