The Dumbbell's Dictionary
H. Rap Brown, n. Lovely, cuddly, „civil rights’ agitator whose mantra during the riots of
the sixties was: „Burn, baby, burn!’
Bromide, n. Same as a platitude, especially when mouthed by a so-called „progressive.’
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, n. Wife of Robert Browning, and accomplished British poet
in her own right. She became immortal on publishing her poem: „How do I love thee? Let
me count the ways,’ written for her husband. My sacrilege is to append the following: „A
squared plus B squared equals C squared.’ Shame on me. Kidding aside, she also left us
with this gem.
„Earth’s crammed with Heaven.
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.’
William F. Buckley, Jr. The man who chose to stand athwart History, yelling: „Stop!’ by
among other things, founding National Review. In a conversation with Ronald Reagan in
the early eighties, he recommended tattooing the buttocks of gay, HIV positive men, with
the following, taken from Dante’s „Inferno, pertaining to the Seventh Circle of Hell:
„Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.’ And here is my favorite quote from him: „I
profoundly believe that it takes a lot of practice to become a moral slob.’
Paul Bunyan, n. So named due to the huge calluses on his gigantic feet.
Edmund Burke, n. Eighteenth century British statesman, supporter of the American
Revolution, prosecutor along with Charles James Fox, of Hastings of the East India
Company, and the father of modern conservatism. Among two of the most important
legacies he left us were the idea of the little platoon, keeping governmental decisions at
the lowest possible level (exactly the stance taken by Catholic social thought), and the
unbroken linkage between us, our ancestors, and those yet to be born. His „Reflections on
the Revolution in France’ is perhaps the most scathing indictment of that monstrous
blood bath ever written.
Bureaucracy, n. Some historians would have us believe that the proof of the superior
development of classical Chinese civilization was their tightly functioning, extremely
powerful central bureaucracy, staffed by Mandarins with the best education, whose
advice could make and unmake emperors. I take issue with this interpretation, especially
if it is misused in regard to the function of the American government at the national level.
Our federal bureaucracy is as powerful, if not more so, than was the Chinese, constituting
in effect a fourth branch of government. This is in no way, however, a factor in any
supposed superiority of American civilization.
George Burns, n. Lived to the age of one hundred four while drinking five martinis and
smoking three cigars each and every day. I remain sure that being married to Gracie
Allen didn’t shorten his life. I would like to emulate him.
George W. Bush, n. Actually, not too bad a president, with the exception, of course, of
his involvement in the TARP fiasco. That said, under his aegis, this country undoubtedly
averted many, many terrorist attacks. Compare that with the present administration,