Quotes

Politics
Quotes

Comments (0)

Permalink

I Have a Dream

Only part of this speech is famous. It’s worth hearing the whole thing.

A short clip from my favorite Martin Luther King speech is here.

Quotes

Comments (0)

Permalink

Words from Wise Guys

Quotes from a variety of sources:

“Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.” — Thomas S. Szasz

“Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.” — H. G. Wells

“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” — Benjamin Franklin

“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.” — Will Rogers

“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.” — Benjamin Franklin

Now you know why George W. Bush keeps furrowing his brow and saying, “It’s hard! It’s hard work!

(Lots of good quotes about time at ScienceBlogs.)

Movies
Quotes

Comments (0)

Permalink

There Goes the Economy

You can never get enough of what you don’t really need. — Harold Ramis, quoting “a very wise person” in an interview on the newly-released DVD of the 1967 movie, Bedazzled, with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.

Airy Persiflage
Politics
Quotes

Comments (0)

Permalink

Bigger, More Complex, and More Violent

I’m reading a programming book called Perl Best Practices. There’s some good stuff in it, though most of it is fairly technical. My favorite things are the short quotes that begin each chapter. Most of them are pretty nerdy, but a few of them speak to all of us:

On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], “Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?” I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question. –Charles Babbage

This is why everyone should learn at least a little bit of computer programming. There is no magic inside the computer, but it can certainly seem like magic until you get in and poke around a bit for yourself.

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t. –Erica Jong, How to Save Your Own Life

Advice is what you ignore when you already know the answer and think it might magically change.

Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction. –Albert Einstein

Haven’t you heard? That emboldens the other fools.

Quotes

Comments (1)

Permalink

Shine Light

From an email message today:

Evil (ignorance) is like a shadow — it has no real substance of its own, it is simply a lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it. — Shakti Gawain

Politics
Quotes

Comments (0)

Permalink

How Long? Not Long

Martin Luther King in Montgomery, Alabama, on March 25, 1965:

I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?” Somebody’s asking, “How long will prejudice blind the visions of men…”

I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because “truth crushed to earth will rise again.”

How long? Not long, because “no lie can live forever.”

How long? Not long, because “you shall reap what you sow.”

How long? Not long:

Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne,
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above his own.

How long? Not long, because “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

How long? Not long, because:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat.
O, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant my feet!
Our God is marching on.
Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah!
Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

The video is from the documentary “King: Montgomery to Memphis.”

Quotes

Comments (0)

Permalink

The Greatest Poverty

The God’s Politics blog quotes Mother Theresa:

You can find Calcutta anywhere in the world. You only need two eyes to see. Everywhere in the world there are people that are not loved, people that are not wanted nor desired, people that no one will help, people that are pushed away or forgotten. And this is the greatest poverty.

Politics
Quotes

Comments (0)

Permalink

I Like Ike

Via Hetty Litjens, a group called West Point Graduates Against the War has some provocative quotes from Dwight D. Eisenhower.

From a 1953 press conference:

When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war.

From a 1954 speech:

Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels — men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.

In a 1949 speech, he seemed to foresee the choices we would be asked to make today:

If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.

Looking for verification of these quotes, I found others that seem appropriate to the present day.

As it is an ancient truth that freedom cannot be legislated into existence, so it is no less obvious that freedom cannot be censored into existence.

The current administration has never been very good with the ancient truths. Bush and Rumsfeld should have heeded this warning before invading Iraq:

When you appeal to force, there’s one thing you must never do — lose.

No, I don’t think he’s saying you keep pouring lives and money into a hopeless situation. Rather, it is the too-ready appeal to force that creates hopeless situations.

As the neocons try to pin all the blame on Iraq on incompetent execution, even while they spin out new war fantasies, maybe they should listen to this homespun wisdom:

Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.

With Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, DeLay, Foley, Hastert, Haggard and many other GOP heavyweights disgraced and discredited, the Republican Party could use some better role models. I respectfully nominate Mr. Eisenhower.

Books
Politics
Quotes

Comments (0)

Permalink

But I Wanted Absolute Power!

From Crooks and Liars:

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side. –Aristotle

If I’ve learned anything in my years on the internet, it’s that you shouldn’t believe everything you read. So I went looking for some sort of verification of this quote. I found the quote itself in many places, but my cursory search didn’t turn up any attribution that said precisely where in Aristotle’s writings to look for it.

Aristotle’s works are out of copyright, so I looked for complete texts online. I found one collection at MIT, and felt this quote was likely to be from Politics. (I found another translation here.)

There was no verbatim match. He wrote in Greek, so I searched for individual words from the quote, and finally found it, in Politics, Book V, Chapter XI.

Aristotle discusses two kinds of tyrants: those who rule by terror, and those who pretend to care about the welfare of their subjects. The quote is about the second kind — the benevolent tyrant. (He distinguishes tyrants from kings who actually do care about the welfare of their subjects.)

This quote, from the beginning of the chapter, is also interesting:

[R]oyalty is preserved by the limitation of its powers. The more restricted the functions of kings, the longer their power will last unimpaired…

I can’t help thinking that Bush and Rove, if they ever read Aristotle, skipped over some parts.

Politics
Quotes

Comments (1)

Permalink

Lincoln’s Character Test

Here’s one web page with some good quotes from Abraham Lincoln, and here’s another. (Unfortunately, they don’t often give the source of the quotes. Some things attributed to Lincoln are things he never said.)

Here are a few that seem timely, somehow:

It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.

I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived.

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crises. The great point is to bring them the real facts.

No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.

Politics
Quotes

Comments (1)

Permalink

The Spirit Which Is Not Too Sure It Is Right

The quote from Judge Learned Hand yesterday comes from a speech he made in New York’s Central Park on May 21, 1944, in the midst of World War II and just shortly before D-Day. Judge Hand led 150,000 newly naturalized American citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance.

After posting yesterday, I realized I had a reprint of an old Life magazine with the text of the speech. Much of it reads like a rebuke to our current national leadership on both sides (emphases my own):

We have gathered here to affirm a faith, a faith in a common purpose, a common conviction, a common devotion. Some of us have chosen America as the land of our adoption; the rest have come from those who did the same. For this reason we have some right to consider ourselves a picked group, a group of those who had the courage to break from the past and brave the dangers and the loneliness of a strange land.

What was the object that nerved us, or those who went before us, to this choice? We sought liberty; freedom from oppression, freedom from want, freedom to be ourselves. This we then sought. This we now believe that we are by way of winning.

What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws, and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women. When it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.

And what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will. It is not freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow. A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few; as we have learned to our sorrow.

What then is the spirit of liberty? I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure it is right. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias. The spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to the ground unheeded. The spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who, near two thousand years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned, but has never quite forgotten; that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest.

And now in that spirit, that spirit of an America which has never been, and which may never be; nay, which never will be, except as the conscience and courage of Americans create it; yet in the spirit of that America which lies hidden in some form in the aspirations of us all; in the sprit of that America for which our young men are at this moment fighting and dying; in that spirit of liberty and of America I now ask you to rise and with me to pledge our faith in the glorious destiny of our beloved country.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands — one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Politics
Quotes

Comments (0)

Permalink

O’Connor’s Warning

Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.

— Judge Learned Hand

Sometimes I worry that I’m an alarmist — that I’m too quick to see the dark side of political events. Now I’m in good company. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor spoke recently at Georgetown University. NPR had the story, and Raw Story has a transcript of NPR’s report:

In an unusually forceful and forthright speech, O’Connor said that attacks on the judiciary by some Republican leaders pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedoms. … The nation’s founders wrote repeatedly, she said, that without an independent judiciary to protect individual rights from the other branches of government those rights and privileges would amount to nothing. But, said O’Connor, as the founding fathers knew statutes and constitutions don’t protect judicial independence, people do.

And then she took aim at former House GOP leader Tom DeLay. She didn’t name him, but she quoted his attacks on the courts at a meeting of the conservative Christian group Justice Sunday last year when DeLay took out after the courts for rulings on abortions, prayer and the Terri Schiavo case….

It gets worse, she said, noting that death threats against judges are increasing. It doesn’t help, she said, when a high-profile senator suggests there may be a connection between violence against judges and decisions that the senator disagrees with. She didn’t name him, but it was Texas senator John Cornyn who made that statement, after a Georgia judge was murdered in the courtroom and the family of a federal judge in Illinois murdered in the judge’s home….

Pointing to the experiences of developing countries and former communist countries where interference with an independent judiciary has allowed dictatorship to flourish, O’Connor said we must be ever-vigilant against those who would strongarm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies. It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, she said, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.

Look for Republican attacks on Sandra Day O’Connor, coming soon: How dare she warn us about dictatorship? Doesn’t she know it can’t happen here? She should be locked up for fomenting public mistrust of our anointed leaders.

Airy Persiflage
Politics
Quotes

Comments (0)

Permalink

Not Statues; Role Models

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing the ground…. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will.

— Frederick Douglass

I wonder, sometimes, whether we’re doing the right thing in the way we honor civil rights pioneers like Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks.

There’s scarcely a politician in the country today who has anything but warm words of praise for King and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Which is strange. During King’s lifetime, there were armies of politicians resisting the civil rights movement every single step of the way.

Rosa Parks came to public attention by being arrested. She was hauled to jail; mug shots and fingerprints were taken. Martin Luther King was arrested many times. He was vilified in language that makes my face feel hot even today.

His non-violent movement was met with dogs and clubs, tear gas, firehoses, guns and bombs. But today, politicians of almost every political stripe stepped up to podiums across the nation with smiles and glowing words about the civil rights movement.

Have we really changed so much since the 1960s? I doubt it.

Tomorrow, many of those smiling politicians will go back to work tying the law in knots to find ways to disenfranchise black voters. It won’t be on account of race — oh, no — they’ll have to find some dodge to explain it. They will approve tax breaks carefully calibrated to benefit millionaires, and then plead poverty to make cuts in programs for poor people.

I wonder whether we’ve made a mistake making Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks icons of the civil rights movement. I don’t think they ever intended to be put on pedestals and serenely admired as heroes of a glorious past. I don’t think they ever intended their struggle for social justice to be turned into an historical relic.

Some of the old injustices are gone, thank goodness, but there’s plenty of injustice left. To honor the memory of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, we need to carry on the work. We need to press the fight against injustice wherever we find it.

How can we tell whether we’re doing it right? There will be an army of politicians resisting every single step of the way.

Movies
Quotes

Comments (0)

Permalink

Lot of That Going Around

From a DVD commentary, Simpsons executive producer David Mirkin:

There’s no lack of lack of backbone in Hollywood.

Politics
Quotes

Comments (0)

Permalink

Do the Best You Can

The conviction of 80-year-old Edgar Ray Killen for his part in the murders, forty-one years ago, of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner reminds me of a story told in the Ken Burns documentary, Baseball. The first Commissioner of Baseball was a former federal judge named Kenesaw Mountain Landis:

As a judge, he had once sentenced an aging bank robber to fifteen years in jail.

“Your honor,” the man said, “I’m 72 years old. I can’t serve that long.”

Landis replied, “Well, do the best you can.”

Justice may sleep, and sleep for a long time, but it still lives.