Last Modified November 2009

 Political Quotes

[Earth, NASA]

"Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends... ...when millions are slaughtered, when torture is practiced, starvation enforced, oppression made a policy, as at present over a large part of the world, and as it has often been in the past, it must be at the behest of very many good people, and even by their direct action, for what they consider a worthy object." -- Isabel Paterson, The God of the Machine, 1943.

"It takes a disciplined imagination to acknowledge that the less personal savageries of bombs, missiles, artillery and heavy weapons are, to those blown to smithereens, also barbaric. The main horror of what the coalition is doing is not a matter of the occasional soldier who, in the heat of battle, commits a war crime, but the steady destruction rained on cities, villages, the Iraqi people. This violence is wreaked calmly, from a distance, within the rules of engagement. The war itself is the American war crime." -- James Carroll, The Boston Globe, 7 December 2004

"The decision to rely heavily on high-altitude air power, target urban infrastructure and repeatedly attack heavily populated towns and villages has reflected a deliberate trade-off of the lives of American pilots and soldiers, not with those of their declared Taliban enemies, but with Afghan civilians... There will be no official two-minute silence for the Afghan dead, no newspaper obituaries or memorial services attended by the prime minister, as there were for the victims of the twin towers." -- Seumas Milne The Guardian 20 December, 2001

The September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows would like to fix that.

"Bush and bin Laden are really on the same side: the side of faith and violence against the side of reason and discussion. Both have implacable faith that they are right and the other is evil." -- Richard Dawkins, Salon, 30 April 2005

"The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it."  -- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

"1,000 friends are not enough, but one enemy is too many."-- retired Vietnamese colonel Nguyen Trong on the occasion of President Clinton's visit, 17 November 2000.

"All this happiness on display is suspect... If they think --- and they could be right --- that continued torture and summary executions, ethnic cleansing and occasional genocide are preferable to an invasion, they should be sombre in their view." -- Ian McEwan, Saturday (on the 2003 London protests of the invasion of Iraq, quoted by Nick Cohen).

About funding: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the houses of its children." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953

About what we promise the military: "With software products, it is usual to find that the software has major `bugs' and does not work reliably for some users... The lay public, familiar with only a few incidents of software failure, may regard them as exceptions caused by exceptionally inept programmers. Those of us who are software professionals know better; the most competent programmers in the world cannot avoid such problems." -- David L. Parnas, Software Aspects of Strategic Defense Systems, American Scientist 1985

"We've wasted a decade and billions of dollars in a quest for a missile defense shield based on a technology that will never work." -- Nira Schwartz, TRW whistleblower, 2002.

How did SDI ever stage a comeback? It won't work, and it destroys our real defenses: international trust and global prosperity. It does make money for some, but it takes money from useful research and government projects.

About precedent: "Nixon used it, and we said, 'Oh, Jesus, what have we done?"' -- Edward Cramer, the lawyer who threw together a letter getting Truman out of testifying at a McCarthy hearing, 2008.

About fighting: "He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice... Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder." -- Albert Einstein, 1930.

hypocritical anarchists award
And (in contrast?) on violence: "We have to take this moment once again to hammer home to all the children of America that violence is wrong... And parents should take this moment to ask what else they can do to shield our children from violent images and experiences that warp young perceptions and obscure the consequences of violence - to show our children by the power of our own example how to resolve conflicts peacefully." Bill Clinton, 21 April 1999 (after Columbine, during Kosov@)
(I agree setting an example is important (ask the Chechens.)  But we also need better gun control.)

About war: "We managed to get home. There were many problems along the way. They even used water hoses to prevent us from going home. They demanded that we lay down our arms. We refused to obey. It was not enough that we were killed by bombs, now they are beating our parents. I shall not go back there. This is not a war, this is frenzy in which it is both difficult to survive and to remain sane. I want to keep my senses. I don't want to kill anyone, nor do I want to be killed..." -- A Serbian conscript who returned home after a war protest in his home village was violently supressed. May 1999

Alison Bechdel's take on being a pacifist during a `just' war.

"Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?" -- Barbara `Beautiful Mind' Bush, 18 March, 2003 on Good Morning America.

Farmer: "Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading ..." Farmer's wife: "... Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs." -- Some infighting Democrat 2004 primary attack ad, that I find too funny to forget, even though I supported Dean (I don't drive Volvos or any other car, but that's probably even freakier.)

"Our long national nightmare of Peace and Prosperity is finally over."  -- Bush, January 2000 (well, according to The Onion.)

``At the time we were railing against the French, their soldiers were in Afghanistan [fighting with coalition forces], which is where Al Qaeda is, after all.''  -- Bill Clinton, in Miami 26 Jan 2004

"Liberals have a set of folk theories that are fallacious. One of them comes from the Enlightenment, and the assumption is that you are supposed to be logical. They assume all you have to do is tell people the facts and they will reason to the right conclusion. This is utterly ridiculous. Thought is mainly metaphorical. The frames trump all the facts." -- George Lakoff, interviewed by Katy Butler

"If you're explaining, you're losing" -- J.C. Watts, explaining why he's leaving Congress/Washington D.C (according to Lawrence Lessig.)

About using your passport: "More and more obviously the surface of the earth is being parceled off into three great empires, each self-contained and cut off from contact with the outer world, and each ruled, under one disguise or another, by a self-elected oligarchy." -- George Orwell, You and the Atomic Bomb, 19 October 1945

"Naturally if you were born in the nineteenth century when evolution first began to be known, and everything was being understood, really understood everybody knew that if everything was really being and going to be understood, and if there was going to be progress there would not be any wars, and if there were not any wars then everything could be and would be understood, and even if death and life were not understood and eternity and beginning was not understood well that is to say if they were not understood more than science understood them better after all except in the unhappiness of adolescence better not think about that." -- Gertrude Stein, Wars I have Seen, 1945

About empowerment: "I'm a mother of three. I'm concerned about the future of America. So I'm running for Vice President" -- Winona LaDuke, October 1, 2000. I'm sure she's Sarah Palin's role model.

Massachusetts' motto: "By the sword she seeks peace, but peace only under liberty."

About the Euro: "There were barking mad men in masks announcing: `The end of the pound is nigh.' In my day, it used to be the Earth whose number was up so this must be some kind of progress." -- Rab MacNeil

About selling anti-globalization: "If there's one message you can take away from State of Emergency, I think it's that capitalism has finally, irrevocably won. Using advanced technology developed in Japan and financed by a publishing company in the U.S., a group of smart people in Scotland has created what's possibly the most useless consumer product of all time... Playing State of Emergency is like spiking the ball in the end zone of competing ideologies." --- Wolpaw, quoted by Wagner James Au, Salon.

About life: "We oppose the imposition of the death penalty on all criminal offenders in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty, and, because an execution is an irrevocable violation of the right to life, miscarriages of justice, when they occur, can never be corrected." -- Human Rights Watch

I'm opposed to the use of deadly force, in favor of universal health care (the US has the highest infant mortality rate of any industrialized nation!), in favor of reasonable waiting periods, quantity limits and background checks for gun ownership, and against the death penalty. Doesn't that make me `pro-life'? The Bible on Abortion

About the definiton of politics: "This is not a political battle at all. It is a contest over whether or not the word of God is true." -- Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma (because "God appeared to Abram and said, `I am giving you this land,'--the West Bank.")

My religious quotes page.

About marriage: "I know the pain of being less than equal and I cannot and will not impose that status on anyone else... I was but one generation removed from an existence in slavery.  I could not in good conscience ever vote to send anyone to that place from which my family fled." -- Massachusetts Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, 12 February 2004

About democracy: "Our American system was, metaphorically speaking, an early Napster-like political device to empower each individual citizen to draw upon the memory and experience of all other citizens and share in a collective control of the destiny of our nation." Al Gore (again), in the same Yahoo Interview. (Incidently, he never said he invented the internet.)

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds." -- Samuel Adams

Back to the less political quotes.