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December 27, 2010

Quotable: Christopher Beam on libertarianism

"It's no coincidence that most libertarians discover the philosophy as teenagers. At best, libertarianism means pursuing your own self-interest, as long as you don't hurt anyone else. At worst, as in Ayn Rand's teachings, it's an explicit celebration of narcissism. "Man's first duty is to himself," says the young architect Howard Roark in his climactic speech in The Fountainhead. "His moral obligation is to do what he wishes." Roark utters these words after dynamiting his own project, since his vision for the structure had been altered without his permission. The message: Never compromise. If you don't get your way, blow things up. And there's the problem. If everyone refused to compromise his vision, there would be no cooperation. There would be no collective responsibility. The result wouldn't be a city on a hill. It would be a port town in Somalia. In a world of scarce resources, everyone pursuing their own self-interest would yield not Atlas Shrugged but Lord of the Flies. And even if you did somehow achieve Libertopia, you'd be surrounded by assholes."

--Christopher Beam, in New York Magazine

December 19, 2010

Quotable: Richard Rhodes on writing

"If you're afraid you can't write, the answer is to write. Every sentence you construct adds weight to the balance pan. If you're afraid of what other people will think of your efforts, don't show them until you write your way beyond your fear. If writing a book is impossible, write a chapter. If writing a chapter is impossible, write a page. If writing a page is impossible, write a paragraph. If writing a paragraph is impossible, write a sentence. If writing even a sentence is impossible, write a word and teach yourself everything there is to know about that word and then write another, connected word and see where their connection leads."

--Richard Rhodes, author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb

November 19, 2010

Quotable: Keith Olbermann--oops, BILL MAHER--on left vs. right

"One side sticks to the facts, and the other side is close to playing with its poop."

--Keitho, Bill Maher to Jon Stewart, the other night

(Thanks for the correction, Palingater. Hold yer fire, everyone else!)

November 8, 2010

Quotable: John Steinbeck on toxic culture

"It has always seemed strange to me...The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success."

--John Steinbeck

October 25, 2010

Quotable: Glenn Greenwald on the ironies of islamophobia

"I'm always amazed when I receive e-mails from people telling me that I fail to understand how Islam is a uniquely violent, supremely expansionist culture that is intrinsically menacing. The United States is a country with a massive military and nuclear stockpile, that invaded and has occupied two Muslim countries for almost a full decade, that regularly bombs and drones several others, that currently is threatening to attack one of the largest Muslim countries in the world, that imposed a sanctions regime that killed hundreds of thousands of Muslim children, that slaughters innocent people on a virtually daily basis, that has interfered in and controlled countries around the world since at least the middle of the last century, that has spent decades arming and protecting every Israeli war with its Muslim neighbors and enabling a four-decade-long brutal occupation, and that erected a worldwide regime of torture, abduction and lawless detention, much of which still endures. Those are just facts.

"But if we all agree to sit around and point over there -- hey, can you believe those primitive Muslims and how violent and extremist they are -- the reality of what we do in the world will fade blissfully away. Even better, it will be transformed from violent aggression into justified self-defense, and then we'll not only free ourselves of guilt, but feel proud and noble because of it."

--Glenn Greenwald, at Salon.com

October 16, 2010

Quotable: David Rosen on right-wing "feminists"

"The Tea Party movement, like the Christian right, champions the "sexy sisters" as a may to restore the old-fashioned man on his long-lost throne. So long as women do not demand abortion rights, maternity leave, equal pay and equal sexual pleasure, they are welcomed into the movement. God forbid they should demand more."

--David Rosen, at Alternet

October 10, 2010

Quotable: Amy Wilentz on Haiti

"The figure of the Haitian living abroad is one that evokes bitter comedy and, often, envy among Haitians living in Haiti. Haitian Haitians can quickly spot someone from what is called the diaspora visiting Port-au-Prince. A Haitian friend once told me that the big difference, aside from a visible discrepancy in wealth, is that someone from lòt bò dlo (or the other side of the water, which means "abroad" in Haitian Creole) walks with purpose and studied intent, as if he or she has a destination in mind at every moment. Island Haitians can find such goal-oriented behavior strange, unreal, even ridiculous, since the poverty of life in Haiti means that goals are often unachievable."

--Amy Wilentz, in the New York Times

October 6, 2010

Quotable: Anne Sexton on the composition of poetry

"Those moments before a poem comes, when the heightened awareness comes over you, and you realize a poem is buried there somewhere, you prepare yourself. I run around, you know, kind of skipping around the house, marvelous elation. It's as though I could fly, almost, and I get very tense before I've told the truth--hard. Then I sit down at the desk and get going with it."

--Anne Sexton, interviewed by Barbara Kevles for The Paris Review

October 3, 2010

Quotable: JFK on tolerance

"Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others."

--John F. Kennedy

(This, in a nutshell, is why you'll never hear me calling for anyone's death, not even that of a complete and utter wanker. But it's also why you WILL hear me condemning wankers for doing just that and worse.)

September 29, 2010

Quotable: Kate Harding on rape culture

" 'Cause the thing is, you and the guys you hang out with may not really mean anything by it when you talk about crazy bitches and dumb sluts and heh-heh-I'd-hit-that and you just can't reason with them and you can't live with 'em can't shoot 'em and she's obviously only dressed like that because she wants to get laid and if they can't stand the heat they should get out of the kitchen and if they can't play by the rules they don't belong here and if they can't take a little teasing they should quit and heh heh they're only good for fucking and cleaning and they're not fit to be leaders and they're too emotional to run a business and they just want to get their hands on our money and if they'd just stop overreacting and telling themselves they're victims they'd realize they actually have... all the power in this society and white men aren't even allowed to do anything anymore and and and...

"I get that you don't really mean that shit. I get that you're just talking out your ass.

"But please listen, and please trust me on this one: you have probably, at some point in your life, engaged in that kind of talk with a man who really, truly hates women--to the extent of having beaten and/or raped at least one. And you probably didn't know which one he was.

"And that guy? Thought you were on his side."

--Kate Harding

September 18, 2010

Quotable: Helen Keller on activism

‎"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do."

--Helen Keller

August 22, 2010

Quotable: Tony Judt on language

"Cultural insecurity begets its linguistic doppelgänger. The same is true of technical advance. In a world of Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter (not to mention texting), pithy allusion substitutes for exposition. Where once the Internet seemed an opportunity for unrestricted communication, the increasingly commercial bias of the medium--'I am what I buy'--brings impoverishment of its own. My children observe of their own generation that the communicative shorthand of their hardware has begun to seep into communication itself: 'people talk like texts.'

"This ought to worry us. When words lose their integrity so do the ideas they express. If we privilege personal expression over formal convention, then we are privatizing language no less than we have privatized so much else. 'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less.' 'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.' Alice was right: the outcome is anarchy.

"In 'Politics and the English Language,' Orwell castigated contemporaries for using language to mystify rather than inform. His critique was directed at bad faith: people wrote poorly because they were trying to say something unclear or else deliberately prevaricating. Our problem, it seems to me, is different. Shoddy prose today bespeaks intellectual insecurity: we speak and write badly because we don't feel confident in what we think and are reluctant to assert it unambiguously ('It's only my opinion...'). Rather than suffering from the onset of 'newspeak,' we risk the rise of 'nospeak.'"

Tony Judt, "Words", in The New York Review of Books

August 16, 2010

Quotable: Carol King on abortion rights in Argentina

"I've often heard anti-choice mourning about the prevented birth of another Einstein or Gandhi. But what about the loss of a talented woman who dies from an illegal abortion? Or what happens to a young woman who can't continue her education due to an unplanned pregnancy and is doomed to a life of poverty or trapped in a violent relationship because she's economically dependent on a man? How many of these women could have been president (albeit with better politics than [Argentine president Cristina] Fernandez), doctors, ministers of health, teachers, composers or scientists? Of course they couldn't have been priests, but that's another issue."

--Carol King, at Ms. Magazine

August 9, 2010

Quotable: Iain McGilchrist on poetry

"Poetry engraves itself in the brain: it doesn't just slip smoothly over the cortex as language normally does. It has all the graininess of life, as it rips into being from deep within the limbic system, the ancient seat of awareness and affective meaning. Sometimes this is most obvious in a foreign language, because there the smooth, familiar words recede, and the sheer awesomeness of what is meant comes refreshed by the new encounter. As a child I was bewitched by the poems of Heine that my father would recite to me while shaving. Im Abendsonnenschein . . . I remember thinking then that the real word for sunshine was Sonnenschein. So, too, something seemed missing when things disappeared: they only truly disappeared when they were verschwunden. This is odd because my father was a Scot and my mother English. It seems like a sort of latent knowledge."

--Iain McGilchrist, "Four Walls", in Poetry Magazine

July 28, 2010

Quotable: Howard Zinn on civil disobedience

‎"Civil disobedience, that's not our problem. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem."

--Howard Zinn

June 30, 2010

Quotable: Courtney Stoker on feminism and science fiction

"While sci fi fans don't mind (and often excel at) criticizing their sci fi shows, they are generally only supportive of criticizing that focuses on "literary" details--plot holes, bad writing, continuity in the canon, inconsistent application of science. But as soon as you start talking about the bigger structures in a show's texts, like racist logic, sexism, classism, whatever, some douchey white dudes with serious entitlement issues are going to dismiss you."

--Courtney Stoker, interviewed by The Sexist

June 29, 2010

Quotable: Ignacio Ramonet on "democratic" propaganda

"Just when democracy and freedom are seemingly triumphing in a world that has rid itself of its worst dictatorial regimes, censorship and different kinds of manipulation have returned, in different guises, with a paradoxical vengeance. We are seductively offered the promise of a 'brave new world', which distracts citizens and aims to keep them out of civic and political activities. In these new times of alienation, the era of the internet, a single world culture or 'global culture', information technology--is playing a fundamental ideological role in gagging thought."

--Ignacio Ramonet, Wars of the 21st Century

June 22, 2010

Quotable: Phil Rockstroh on conservatism

"What has an era of conservatism wrought? Answer: a culture that has all the value, integrity, sustainability and safety as a toy manufactured in China. Apropos, contemporary life, as conceived and manufactured by conservative "values", is shoddily made, toxic and not a lot of fun."

--Phil Rockstroh, A Conservative's Garden of False Narratives: Who Are You Calling a Moonbat, Anyway?

June 13, 2010

Quotable: Elizabeth Wagele on the Shadow

"In the process of becoming whole, we recognize and take responsibility for our shadow. Each shadow issue we reclaim is one less to project out onto another person, nationality, or race."

--Elizabeth Wagele, from The Happy Introvert

June 9, 2010

Quotable: Corey Robin on Ayn Rand

"St. Petersburg in revolt gave us Vladimir Nabokov, Isaiah Berlin and Ayn Rand. The first was a novelist, the second a philosopher. The third was neither but thought she was both."

--Corey Robin, in The Nation

May 31, 2010

Quotable: Craig Murray on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla attack

"A word on the legal position, which is very plain. To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal. It is not piracy, as the Israeli vessels carried a military commission. It is rather an act of illegal warfare."

--Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan

May 22, 2010

Quotable: Gore Vidal on Ayn Rand

"This odd little woman is attempting to give a moral sanction to greed and self interest, and to pull it off she must at times indulge in purest Orwellian newspeak of the 'freedom is slavery' sort. What interests me most about her is not the absurdity of her 'philosophy,' but the size of her audience (in my campaign for the House she was the one writer people knew and talked about). She has a great attraction for simple people who are puzzled by organized society, who object to paying taxes, who dislike the 'welfare' state, who feel guilt at the thought of the suffering of others but who would like to harden their hearts. For them, she has an enticing prescription: altruism is the root of all evil, self-interest is the only good, and if you're dumb or incompetent that's your lookout."

--Gore Vidal, Esquire, 1961

May 17, 2010

Quotable: Humberto da Silva on "Odious Oda" and the Harper anti-woman agenda

Isn't it nice to hear a man who really, truly GETS it? One who's not trying to cram false values down other people's throats? One who can sweep away a veritable Augean stable of right-wing bullshit with clear, incontrovertible facts? And above all, one who does it in his own voice, rather than hiding behind the skirts of a woman?

May 14, 2010

Quotable: Albert Einstein on age, youth and activism

"I believe that older people who have scarcely anything to lose ought to be willing to speak out in behalf of those who are young and who are subject to much greater restraint."

--Albert Einstein, in a letter to Queen Mother Elizabeth, during the McCarthy era. Einstein was the leading public intellectual in the US to take a stand against McCarthy-Hoover witch hunts.

May 12, 2010

Quotable: Noam Chomsky on anti-government propaganda

"Encouraging anti-tax sentiment has long been a staple of business propaganda. People must be indoctrinated to hate and fear the government, for good reasons: Of the existing power systems, the government is the one that in principle, and sometimes in fact, answers to the public and can constrain the depredations of private power.

"However, anti-government propaganda must be nuanced. Business of course favors a powerful state that works for multinationals and financial institutions--and even bails them out when they destroy the economy.

"But in a brilliant exercise in doublethink, people are led to hate and fear the deficit. That way, business's cohorts in Washington may agree to cut benefits and entitlements like Social Security (but not bailouts).

"At the same time, people should not oppose what is largely creating the deficit--the growing military budget and the hopelessly inefficient privatized healthcare system.

"It is easy to ridicule how Joe Stack and others like him articulate their concerns, but it's far more appropriate to understand what lies behind their perceptions and actions at a time when people with real grievances are being mobilized in ways that pose no slight danger to themselves and to others."

--Noam Chomsky, "Rustbelt Rage"

May 10, 2010

Quotable: Sir Bob Geldof on NOT shutting the fuck up

"Annoy your friends. And REALLY ANNOY the G-8 Members!! Talk & write & communicate to everyone about the total Maternal Child Health Initiative that must be instituted at Canada's G8 & G-20"

--Sir Bob Geldof

May 6, 2010

Quotable: Mike Malloy to all the right-wing drillbaggers

Nothing to add, really, except a hearty "What he said!"

May 1, 2010

Quotable: Eduardo Galeano on May Day

"Chicago, 1886. May 1. When the general strike paralyzed Chicago and other cities, the Philadelphia Tribune diagnosed: The labor element has been bitten by a universal species of tarantula, and has gone stark raving mad. Stark raving mad for fighting for an eight-hour workday and for the right to organize unions.

"The next year, four labor leaders, accused of murder, were sentenced without proof in a kangaroo court. Georg Engel, Adolf Fischer, Albert Parsons and Auguste Spies marched to the gallows. The fifth condemned, Louis Lingg, blew his brains out in his cell.

"Every May 1, the entire world remembers them. With the passage of time, international conventions, constitutions and laws have proven them right. However, the most successful businesses still refuse to recognize them. They prohibit unions and measure the workday by the same molten clocks once painted by Salvador Dalí."

--Eduardo Galeano, "The Universal Tarantula". Translation mine.

April 25, 2010

Quotable: Sinéad O'Connor on sexual abuse in the Catholic church

I remember all the flak she took when she first spoke out--almost the only famous person to do so--against sexual abuse in the church. People called her crazy. (Including some so-called progressives.) Oh, she's a famous singer. Oh, they're all eccentric. Oh, pay no attention. Oh, this. Oh, that. It got so bad that at one point, she had to take out an ad pleading for the feces-flinging to stop.

Oh, where are they now? She doesn't sound so crazy NOW, does she?

(Thanks to JJ.)

April 16, 2010

Quotable: John Steinbeck on capitalism

"There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange."

--John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

April 15, 2010

Quotable: Patrick Stewart on violence against women

When a well-spoken actor who is known for his smooth delivery has difficulty breaking into a subject and talking about it, you know it's close to home. In the case of "Captain Picard", it's not only close, it is IN the home. Not to be missed!

March 30, 2010

Quotable: Philip Pullman on censorship vs. free speech

A far more articulate and interesting author, I daresay, than the Coultergeist will ever be. And with more of worth to say on the subject in a minute than she will have said in all her unnatural lifetime. Watch and learn, people.

March 25, 2010

Quotable: Henry Rollins on Ann Coulter

An oldie, but a goodie. Still as fresh and relevant as it was the first time.

(Gawd, I love Henry.)

Quotable: Özlem Sensoy on the Coultergeist/freedom-of-speech canards

"When the 'free speech' card is played (by those whose speech aligns with power structures, like Coulter), it is a defensive response to their perspectives and power being challenged. The 'free speech' discourse protects power and privilege by acting as a shield against such challenges. If you dare challenge free speech as a normal social value, you dare challenge the founding ideals of Western-style democracy."

--Özlem Sensoy, in the Vancouver Sun

March 23, 2010

Quotable: Marge Piercy on the "right to life"

"Every baby born
unloved, unwanted, is a bill that will come
due in twenty years with interest, an anger
that must find a target, a pain that will
beget pain. A decade downstream a child
screams, a woman falls, a synagogue is torched,
a firing squad is summoned, a button
is pushed and the world burns."

--Marge Piercy, "Right to Life"

March 22, 2010

Quotable: Judith Butler on feminism and war

"I think that we have seen quite cynical uses of feminism for the waging of war. The vast majority of feminists oppose these contemporary wars, and object to the false construction of Muslim women "in need of being saved" as a cynical use of feminist concerns with equality. There are some very strong and interesting Muslim feminist movements, and casting Islam as anti-feminist not only disregards those movements, but displaces many of the persisting inequalities in the first world onto an imaginary elsewhere."

--Judith Butler, at Guernica

March 12, 2010

Quotable: Paul Rogat Loeb on Rosa Parks and the value of persistence

"Our culture's misreading of the Rosa Parks story speaks to a more general collective amnesia, where we forget the examples that might most inspire our courage, hope, and conscience. Of the abolitionist and civil rights movements, we at best recall a few key leaders -- and often misread their actual stories. We know even less about the turn-of-the-century populists who challenged entrenched economic interests and fought for a 'cooperative commonwealth.' How many of us recall how the union movements ended 80-hour work weeks at near-starvation wages, or helped pass pivotal legislation like Social Security? How did the women's suffrage movement spread to hundreds of communities, and gather enough strength to prevail?

"As memories of these events disappear, we lose the knowledge of mechanisms that grassroots social movements have used successfully in the past to shift public sentiment and challenge entrenched institutional power. Equally lost are the means by which their participants managed to keep on and eventually prevail in circumstances at least as harsh as those we face today.

"In the prevailing myth, Parks decides to act almost on a whim, in isolation. She's a virgin to politics, a holy innocent. The lesson seems to be that if any of us suddenly got the urge to do something equally heroic, that would be great. Of course most of us don't, so we wait our entire lives to find the ideal moment."

--Paul Rogat Loeb, at Truthout

March 2, 2010

Quotable: Susan J. Douglas on "enlightened sexism"

"Enlightened sexism is a response, deliberate or not, to the perceived threat of a new gender regime. It insists that women have made plenty of progress because of feminism--indeed, full equality, has allegedly been achieved. So now it's okay, even amusing, to resurrect sexist stereotypes of girls and women. Enlightened sexism sells the line that it is precisely through women's calculated deployment of their faces, bodies, attire, and sexuality that they gain and enjoy true power--power that is fun, that men will not resent, and indeed will embrace. True power here has nothing to do with economic independence or professional achievement: it has to do with getting men to lust after you and other women to envy you. Enlightened sexism is especially targeted to girls and young women and emphasizes that now that they 'have it all,' they should focus the bulk of their time and energy on being hot, pleasing men, competing with other women, and shopping."

--Susan J. Douglas, on AlterNet

February 28, 2010

Quotable: Johnny Weir on homophobia and freedom of speech

Need I say that this flamboyant but level-headed guy impresses me a lot more than his oh-so-macho critics ever could? (Plus, I think he looked adorable in his roses!)

(Thanks to Jim for the link.)

February 26, 2010

Quotable: Albert Einstein on zionism

"I would much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish state...my awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will suffer--especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks."

--Albert Einstein, 1938, as cited by Mordecai Richler

February 24, 2010

Quotable: Harriet Fraad on sex and dirty politics

"It is tragic that we, as a nation, are reduced to holding our leaders to sexual standards while giving up on holding them to their promises for social justice. So many of us feel helpless. Only money seems to talk. Those who have no money and at the moment have no organized mass voice are effectively silenced. When people are or feel that they are helpless, they may save themselves the pain of consciousness and create escapes. Those escapes provide a kind of freedom that is its own prison. Perhaps our national investment in our hero's sexual fidelity to the promise of marriage absolves us of the very difficult struggle to hold our leaders accountable for fidelity to campaign promises and stated human values. Maybe we need to have a national fearless moral inventory of our war crimes and our criminal economic system and its impact on America and the world. Maybe the fascination with Tiger Woods' transgression and confession is a sad symptom of weakness and a fear of the road to recovery which begins with the truth?"

--Harriet Fraad, at AlterNet

February 20, 2010

Quotable: Abraham Lincoln on labor vs. capital

"Capital is only the fruit of labor [...] Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

--Abraham Lincoln, December 3, 1861

(Gee, sounds to me like Honest Abe was a bit of a socialist!)

February 3, 2010

Quotable: John Perkins on the Haiti disaster

"We are encouraged to believe that USAID, the World Bank, and other institutions are truly philanthropic, there to serve the best interests of the people and the country. However, the reality is that, in previous cases -- such as the Asian tsunami -- much of this aid is employed to help huge multinational companies gain a strangle-hold on resources (including cheap labor) and markets. Instead of helping local fisherman, farmers, restaurant, and bed and breakfast owners rebuild their devastated businesses, the money is invested in projects that benefit the Krafts, Chiquitas, Monsantos, Marriotts, and big box restaurant chains of the world.

"In the case of Haiti, we also must not forget history. In the early 1800s the country declared its independence from France and proclaimed itself "slave-free." The French sued the new nation, stating that the loss of the slaves had negatively impacted the French economy. It was just one in a series of actions taken by foreign powers to subjugate Haiti. US Marines invaded in 1915 and occupied the nation for 19 years; ever since Haiti has been the haunt of corporate executives and government officials who have corrupted one leader after another.

"While the earthquake happened in an instant, it took years of corporatocracy actions to create such a poverty-ridden country. There was no way Haiti could respond to a 7.0 earthquake because the misguided policies and interventions stripped it of any potential it might have had for surviving such a major traumatic event."

--John Perkins, "The Tremor Felt Round the World"

January 22, 2010

Quotable: Thomas Jefferson on corporate "personhood"

"I hope we shall...crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of our country."

--Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Logan, November 12, 1816

(Kudos to Ryan Blackhawke for posting that to Facebook!)

January 16, 2010

Quotable: Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Haiti and exile

"As we all know, many people remain buried under tons of rubble and debris, waiting to be rescued. When we think of their suffering, we feel deeply and profoundly that we should be there, in Haiti, with them, trying our best to prevent death. As far as we are concerned, we are ready to leave today, tomorrow, at any time, to join the people of Haiti, to share in their suffering, help rebuild the country, moving from misery to poverty with dignity.

"The spirit of Ubuntu, that once led Haiti to emerge as the first independent black nation in 1804, helped Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador attain liberty, and inspired our forefathers to shed their blood for the United States' independence, cannot die. Today, this spirit of solidarity must and will empower all of us to rebuild Haiti."

--Jean-Bertrand Aristide, on Democracy Now!

November 28, 2009

Quotable: Montana Wildhack on "good" and "bad" US-Americans

"Good Americans don't question the essential superiority of America. Many Americans boast that they have no desire to even travel to another country. They believe that it is a sign of patriotism to wallow in ignorance of the rest of the world. Not all Good Americans are quite that patriotic. Some are open to the possibility that there might be other places in the world that are nice to visit. Really open-minded Good Americans think that, if one is quite adventurous, one might even live in another country for a year or two.

"Bad Americans not only think that it is possible to be happy in another country, they're open to the possibility that there might be things about other countries that are actually nicer than America. Bad Americans would give up their right to own an assault rifle for the right to see a doctor without taking out a loan. They think that public transport shouldn't just be for people who are too poor to own a car."

--Montana Wildhack, at the UK Guardian

November 11, 2009

Quotable: Howard Zinn on the true meaning of Remembrance Day

"Let's go back to the beginning of Veterans Day. It used to be Armistice Day, because at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, World War I came to an end...Veterans Day, instead of an occasion for denouncing war, has become an occasion for bringing out the flags, the uniforms, the martial music, the patriotic speeches...Those who name holidays, playing on our genuine feeling for veterans, have turned a day that celebrated the end of a horror into a day to honor militarism. As a combat veteran myself, of a 'good war,' against fascism, I do not want the recognition of my service to be used as a glorification of war. Veterans Day should be an occasion for a national vow: No more war victims on the other side; no more war veterans on our side."

--Howard Zinn

October 21, 2009

Quotable: Barbara Ehrenreich on the problem of "positive thinking"

"One of the major sources of misery in the world is poverty. We can do one of two things. We can tell poor people they need to change their attitudes, and there's a whole industry of that kind of thing -- motivational speakers that tell people to get over their bad attitudes towards wealth so it will just come to them.

Or we can say, 'What's the cause of this? How are we going to get together and do something about it?' And I come down on that side."

--Barbara Ehrenreich, at Alternet

October 2, 2009

Quotable: Matt Taibbi on healthcare reform

"In the real world, nothing except a single-payer system makes any sense. There are currently more than 1,300 private insurers in this country, forcing doctors to fill out different forms and follow different reimbursement procedures for each and every one. This drowns medical facilities in idiotic paperwork and jacks up prices: Nearly a third of all health care costs in America are associated with wasteful administration. Fully $350 billion a year could be saved on paperwork alone if the U.S. went to a single-payer system -- more than enough to pay for the whole goddamned thing, if anyone had the balls to stand up and say so."

--Matt Taibbi, "Sick and Wrong", in Rolling Stone

September 21, 2009

Quotable: Ellen Russell on the use of "Big Government"

"The term "big government" persists as a schizophrenic double standard. New programs that help the bottom line of business are endorsed by the business punditocracy as wise investments in competitiveness. Government programs that help the bottom lines of the rest of us are pejoratively denounced as "big government". Hello, Orwellian doublespeak! What is good for business is in the public interest, while what is good for anybody else is just the self-serving whining of special-interest groups. The current economic crisis has shifted rhetoric, but this wacky double standard persists. Card-carrying opponents of big government have squeamishly conceded that government must intervene big time before capitalism hits the fan."

--Ellen Russell, in Public Values

August 25, 2009

Quotable: Soseki Natsume on bullies

"It is of course true that the human creature characteristically prides itself on its self-reliance. However, it would be more exact to say that the creature, knowing it can't rely upon itself, would very much like to believe that it could and is consequently never at ease with itself until it can give a practical demonstration to some other such creature of how much it can rely upon itself. What's more, those endowed with the least intelligence and those least sure of themselves are precisely those who seize upon the least opportunity to demonstrate their entitlement to some sort of certificate of prowess. One can observe the same phenomenon in the world of judo, whose devotees, every so often, feel the need to heave someone or other over their buttocks and smack them down on the ground. The least proficient of these dedicated cross-buttockers wander about their neighborhoods looking for someone, even someone not of their quaint fraternity, upon whose weaker person they can demonstrate their superiority in using their bottoms to sling the upright flat on their backs."

--Soseki Natsume, I Am a Cat

August 23, 2009

Quotable: Glenn Greenwald on Lanny Davis and political sleaze

"Lanny Davis is just a face that reflects the grime and sleaze that lies at the core of our political culture. But it's a rather vivid face for what is typically meant by Centrism (i.e., it's shrill and irresponsible to suggest there's anything fundamentally wrong with our political culture); Civility (it's rude and disrespectful to highlight the oozing conflicts of interests and paid whoredom which animate our leading political luminaries); and Bipartisanship (the same narrow set of corporate forces always prevail no matter which party is in "control" by constantly paying those who control those parties). As unpleasant as it is, that's why there's value in casting one's eyes on how Lanny Davis functions."

--Glenn Greenwald, at Salon.com

August 19, 2009

Quotable: Eduardo Galeano on terrorists

"Is justice right side up?

"Has world justice been frozen in an upside-down position?

"The shoe-thrower of Iraq, the man who hurled his shoes at Bush, was condemned to three years in prison. Doesn't he deserve, instead, a medal?

"Who is the terrorist? The hurler of shoes or their recipient? Is not the real terrorist the serial killer who, lying, fabricated the Iraq war, massacred a multitude, and legalized and ordered torture?"

--Eduardo Galeano, "Is Justice Right Side Up?"

July 15, 2009

Quotable: Bret Gustafson on Che Guevara

che-corpse.jpg

"Che was assassinated during his attempt to create 'many Vietnams' on the continent, by launching a revolution in Bolivia. Unable to garner significant local support, Bolivian troops with U.S. Army and CIA backing tracked down Che and his men. Guevara was unceremoniously executed in a burst of machine gun fire in a rural schoolroom and his body was taken to the nearest city and put on display for the public and the press. Briefly useful as a sign of a Bolivia's military success, his corpse was also deeply threatening. It bore the makings of a martyr, a saint, an icon, a call for future generations to emulate revolutionary sacrifice, a call to fearlessly confront death through armed struggle. Che's body was thus quickly disappeared, though this did little to tame the ongoing power of its images."

--Bret Gustafson, "Bolivia 9/11: Bodies and Power on a Feudal Frontier"

June 13, 2009

Quotable: Fern Hill on the false "middle ground" option

"I'm getting damned sick of all the triangulation and Third-Way hand-wringing bullshit over reducing abortion.

"Or, looked at another way, we pro-choicers already occupy that middle ground. Most of us support all the measures that have been bruited about to reduce abortion.

"Wide access to affordable, safe birth control, check.

"Age-appropriate, fact-based, comprehensive sex ed, check.

"Financial and other support for pregnant women, check.

"Financial and other support for individuals and families with children, check.

"Quality, affordable daycare for parents who want to or have to work or go to school, check.

"Making adoption easier, sure, why not?

"If the militant anti-abortion religious right won't budge on so-called artificial contraception and fact-based sex ed -- and I highly doubt they will -- there is NO middle ground."

--Fern Hill, at DAMMIT JANET!

June 3, 2009

Quotable: Manuel Zelaya on Fidel Castro

"The Cold War ended today. Fidel Castro said more than 40 years ago that history would absolve him, and history absolved him."

Manuel Zelaya, president of Honduras, at the OAS today

May 28, 2009

Quotable: Jean Raison on Voltaire

"Sir, 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it' was said not by a Frenchman but by an Englishwoman; it is not a genuine quotation from Voltaire but an imaginary one claiming to express 'his attitude' in The Friends of Voltaire (1906) by S. G. Tallentyre, the pseudonym of E. Beatrice Hall. In fact this was not his attitude; although he took a great part in the struggle for toleration, he also took great care not to risk his liberty, let alone his life, for the cause: no wonder, considering the treatment he suffered for careless talk in his youth, and the treatment so many of his writings suffered at all times.

"It would be better not to attribute to Voltaire a rhetorical statement he never made, and to remember instead the practical things he actually said (in the Treatise on Toleration and the Philosophical Dictionary) and did (in particular cases and in the general campaign) to crush the infamy of intolerance and to make it possible for us to take the freedom of speech for granted."

--Jean Raison, letter to the Times of London, August 8, 1981

('Bina's note: Are they sure that's an Englishwoman, and not a Frenchman whose name, in English, would be "John Reason"? In any event, what a relief not to have to defend fascist speech to the death, but rather to FIGHT it to the death in the original spirit of "écraser l'infâme"!)

April 26, 2009

Quotable: Steve Benen on Karl Rove

"You see, in Rove World, the way to avoid becoming a banana republic is to have a chief executive who ignores the rule of law. Then, the chief executive is replaced, and his/her successor must ensure there are no consequences for those who ignored the rule of law in the recent past. No matter how serious alleged crimes, no matter how compelling the evidence, no matter the consequences, if a president believes those who came before him/her broke the law, he/she must not prosecute, or even investigate. If he/she disagrees, the president would be acting like a Latin American colonel in mirrored sunglasses."

--Steve Benen, in the Washington Monthly

'Bina notes: Latin American colonels in mirrored sunglasses were all put there by Karl Rove's predecessors, most notably Henry Kissinger. And of course, they got immunity for their crimes, too. Guess how.

April 16, 2009

Quotable: Matt Taibbi on the US peasant mentality

teabagging-defined.jpg

"But actual rich people can't ever be the target. It's a classic peasant mentality: going into fits of groveling and bowing whenever the master's carriage rides by, then fuming against the Turks in Crimea or the Jews in the Pale or whoever after spending fifteen hard hours in the fields. You know you're a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you're on board. When you get frisky, he sticks a big cross in the middle of your village, and you spend the rest of your life praying to it with big googly eyes. Or he puts out newspapers full of innuendo about this or that faraway group and you immediately salute and rush off to join the hate squad. A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded, and full of misdirected anger. And that's what we've got now, a lot of misdirected anger searching around for a non-target to mis-punish... can't be mad at AIG, can't be mad at Citi or Goldman Sachs. The real villains have to be the anti-AIG protesters! After all, those people earned those bonuses! If ever there was a textbook case of peasant thinking, it's struggling middle-class Americans burned up in defense of taxpayer-funded bonuses to millionaires. It's really weird stuff. And bound to get weirder, I imagine, as this crisis gets worse and more complicated."

--Matt Taibbi, "The peasant mentality lives on in America"

April 14, 2009

Quotable: George Monbiot on the end of corporate impunity

"For two centuries corporations and governments from the rich world have treated the people they encounter overseas as nothing but obstacles to the extraction of resources, who -- when they could not be enslaved to assist that work -- had to be disposed of as expeditiously as possible: by bribery, deception, terror or massacre. The richer the resources a land possesses, the more viciously its inhabitants are treated. Now these inconvenient people might begin to be seen as human beings."

--George Monbiot, "Shell: Corporate impunity goes on trial"

April 9, 2009

Quotable: Helen Keller on socialism

"How did I become a Socialist? By reading. The first book I read was Wells' New World for Old. I read it on Mrs. Macy's recommendation. She was attracted by its imaginative quality, and hoped that its electric style might stimulate and interest me. When she gave me the book, she was not a Socialist and she is not a Socialist now. Perhaps she will be one before Mr. Macy and I are done arguing with her. "

Helen Keller, "How I Became a Socialist"

April 6, 2009

Quotable: Jon Stewart on Rush Limbaugh's tax-evading move

"For years, New Yorkers have done everything in our power to get this guy to leave town. We've passed laws making it tougher for hot dog vendors to sell along the streets, we hold gay pride parades -- there are barely any gay people in the city, but we thought it'd make him uncomfortable, so we shipped them in...We knew he was into drugs, so we cleaned up Times Square."

--Jon Stewart, glad to see the Pigman gone

March 17, 2009

Quotable: Larry Flynt on Dana Perino

"Whether or not the rumors are true that Perino is a Washington pass-around, she's perfect for spewing regurgitated Bush-Cheney shit. At an earlier job, she reportedly hung a Dick Cheney poster on a wall, with that Halliburton zombie in a ten-gallon hat astride a stallion, looking like a bald, fat Marlboro Man. The photo's angle was from the rear, showing the hind end of both the steed and the rider. There's an inspiring image: one horse's ass looking at another horse's ass atop another horse's ass."

--Larry Flynt, from his website

March 16, 2009

Quotable: Daniel Sinker on Jon Stewart vs. the "journalists"

"When we can't compete with a comic in terms of speaking truth to power, then it's more clear than ever that journalism in the US has lost its way. It comes as no surprise then when, as newspapers crumble around the country, a report like the one released by the Pew Research Center this week says that only 33% of people would miss their local newspaper "a lot." When you lead with a story about an interview that happened on a comedy show--and it's the very same story that almost everyone else is leading with as well--what's to miss?

"What's to miss--the refrain is always repeated--is the investigative reporting that helps to keep our leaders honest, our water clean, our businesses pure. What's to miss is people asking fearless questions to those that need them asked. What's to miss is the deep pockets that can fund a reporter to dig and dig and dig until she's able to uncover some fragile truth. And yes, that stuff is vital to the functioning of a democracy. It also, let's speak the truth here, doesn't happen very often."

--Daniel Sinker, at the HuffPost

March 12, 2009

Quotable: Chavecito on feminism

"Without the true liberation of women the full liberation of people is impossible and I am convinced that an authentic socialist should be also an authentic feminist."

--Hugo Chávez, in his weekly column

February 24, 2009

Quotable: Jamie Lee Curtis on the credit crisis

"Are we too so drugged as to think that the idea of Corporate greed and avarice and the lies and misdeeds are a new thing? Madoff's Ponzi worked (longer than most) but it worked because people didn't ask questions, they just really liked the returns. Is this new? Did the banks and the mortgage lenders and Feds really just figure out that there was a problem. We are all to blame. We are addicted to the dope of credit and each plastic card purchase sets off the phenomenon of craving for more. Then advertisers and marketers (lobbyists in better suits) and the media tell us we need it and the banks and the credit companies tell us we can have it and boom -- we are all in over our heads."

--Jamie Lee Curtis, "A Fish Called Denial"

January 22, 2009

Quotable: Sir Gerald Kaufman on Israeli double standards

Mike Malloy just played this on his radio show. There really is nothing to add to this, other than a loud, proud "RIGHT ON!"

January 15, 2009

Quotable: Maria Hampton on the need for a new feminist movement

"We stopped working together for reform and are now being forced to conform, dying deaths of a thousand choices. [...] Right now the consumer trance that ensnared [Betty] Friedan's classmates is stronger than ever: eight-year-olds wear knickers with "Babe" emblazoned on the crotch, post-feminists get empowering bikini waxes, Paris Hilton is an ironic role model, and we have earned the right to watch TV shows where strippers in nipple tassels tell us how to lap-dance our men to orgasm. We have been distracted by personal rather than political empowerment and dragged low by the constant blandishments of a culture that tells us the only path to empowerment is through shopping, plastic surgery and pandering to the so-called ironic fantasies of chortling men."

--Maria Hampton, "Betty Friedan: A Life and Death in Feminism", Adbusters, May/June 2006

January 14, 2009

Quotable: Robert Scheer on Israeli double standards and media complicity

"The basic argument is that Palestinian terrorists represented by Hamas are given to an irrational hatred of Jews so profound that it invalidates their movement, even when they win elections. That was not the view of the Israeli security service when it earlier supported Hamas as the alternative to the then dreaded PLO. Also, history is replete with examples of terrorists becoming statesmen, even within the early ranks of Jews fighting to establish the state of Israel.

"One of those was Menachem Begin, who went on to be an elected leader of the new state. But before Begin attained that respectability, back in 1948 when he visited the United States, a group of prominent Jewish intellectuals including Albert Einstein, Sidney Hook and Hannah Arendt wrote a letter to The New York Times warning that Begin was a former leader of the 'Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.' The letter urged Jews to shun Begin, arguing, 'It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin's political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.'

Begin's new party was then participating in the Israeli election, and Einstein and his colleagues, many of whom like the physicist had been victims of German fascism, stated, 'Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character.'"

--Robert Scheer, "Why Do So Few Speak Up For Gaza?", at Truthdig

January 13, 2009

Quotable: Greg Palast on the sub-prime mortgage fiasco

Money quote: "There is no reason for sub-prime mortgages in America."

January 11, 2009

Quotable: Justin Podur on crapaganda in the Canadian media

"Modern Western armies, like those of Israel, the US, and Canada, think of information as part of warfare. They expend tremendous time and resources mobilizing support for their violence. They do this by controlling information, disallowing independent journalists (as Israel is doing), using embedded journalists, and running a massive public relations machinery designed specifically to deliver arguments and propaganda for the foreign press and for foreign consumption. There is a special machinery just for Canadians, and a special strategy to sell war in Canada. There was one for the Iraq war, there is one for the Afghanistan war, and one for Israel's wars as well. What is so unusual about the media environment today is that all this expense, all this media machinery, can be circumvented by anyone in its target audience by the simple click of a mouse. So click away."

--Justin Podur, "Turn off the Canadian Media, Please"

January 5, 2009

Quotable: Michael Zuckerman on neo-cons

"In French slang, the word con means jackass or imbecilic wuss. So when the néo-cons--the néo-cons as the French read the term--went ahead with the ill-considered invasion and imperialist occupation of Iraq, the French thought that this was just the sort of thing that néo-cons--incompetent fools, milksop morons--would do."

--Michael Zuckerman, "American Conservatism in Historical Perspective"

December 22, 2008

Quotable: Frantz Fanon on neoliberalism

"But when decolonization occurs in regions where the liberation struggle has not yet made its impact sufficiently felt, here are the same smart alecks, the sly, shrewd intellectuals whose behavior and ways of thinking, picked up from their rubbing shoulders with the colonialist bourgeoisie, have remained intact. Spoiled children of yesterday's colonialism and today's governing powers, they oversee the looting of the few national resources. Ruthless in their scheming and legal pilfering they use the poverty, now nationwide, to work their way to the top through import-export holdings, limited companies, playing the stock market, and nepotism. They insist on the nationalization of business transactions, i.e., reserving contracts and business deals for nationals. Their doctrine is to proclaim the absolute need for nationalizing the theft of the nation. In this barren, national phase, in this so-called period of austerity, their success at plundering the nation swiftly sparks anger and violence from the people. In the present international and African context, the poverty-stricken and independent population achieves a social consciousness at a rapidly accelerating pace. This, the petty individualists will soon find out for themselves."

--Frantz Fanon, "On Violence", from The Wretched of the Earth, 1961

(Plus ça change...)

December 17, 2008

Quotable: Arundhati Roy on anti-terror laws

"Anti-terrorism laws are not meant for terrorists; they're for people that governments don't like. That's why they have a conviction rate of less than 2%. They're just a means of putting inconvenient people away without bail for a long time and eventually letting them go."

--Arundhati Roy, "The Monster in the Mirror"

November 12, 2008

Quotable: Keith Olbermann on same-sex marriage rights

November 6, 2008

Quotable: Mark Morford on the whole Obama thingy

"Hell yes, this is a time for screaming. For dancing, crying, celebrating with a rare feeling of renewal. It is a time for feeling it fully. A great thing has been done. A great shift has just transpired. Best news of all: There is no going back.

"Forget what I said before. Gloating is allowed, a great joyous I-told-you-so straight in the scowling faces of the racists and the warmongers and those so horribly terrified of the new and the different and the possible. Please feel free to let those rivers of gratitude course through you like molten joy coupled to the train of possibility pulled by the giant hand of hell yes.

"Above all, it is a time to exhale, to relax a little, to get the hell on with it. I know I speak for roughly five thousand fellow media lackeys when I say, sweet Lord, I am just so glad this damnable beast of an election is finally over. It's like a combination of the day after Christmas and post-coital orgasm and giving birth. You can only sit in the wobbly afterglow, warm and buzzing and dizzy, insanely grateful you didn't get a stocking full of Satan and Alaskan moosemeat and dirt, or a baby with three tiny heads and a nail gun where his arm should be.

"This, I think, is perhaps the most important sentiment of all. Not merely relief, not liberation, not even unadulterated joy.

"It's gratitude. Deep and satisfying and good. A sense of profound thanks that, well, we made it through. The hopefulness prevailed. That Obama not only survived and flourished, but appears more determined and assured than ever. What's more, our massive, ungainly democratic system? That hugely flawed beast of burden, gutted by eight solid years of the worst kind of abuse and misprision? It still seems to work. Well, mostly. How astonishing is that?

"And now, here we are. What a time it has been. What a time it shall be. There is no turning back. And for that, we can only say, thank you. Thank you, thank you, oh sweet God, thank you.

"Now pass me that damn champagne. "

--Mark Morford, "Yes We Did"

October 29, 2008

Quotable: Hendrik Hertzberg on the dreaded S-word

"As a buzzword, 'socialism' had mostly good connotations in most of the world for most of the twentieth century. That's why the Nazis called themselves national socialists. That's why the Bolsheviks called their regime the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, obliging the socialist and social democratic parties of Europe (and America, for what it was worth) to make rescuing the 'good name' of socialism one of their central missions. Socialists--one thinks of men like George Orwell, Willy Brandt, and Aneurin Bevan--were among Communism's most passionate and effective enemies.

"The United States is a special case. There is a whole shelf of books on the question of why socialism never became a real mass movement here. For decades, the word served mainly as a cudgel with which conservative Republicans beat liberal Democrats about the head. When Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan accused John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson of socialism for advocating guaranteed health care for the aged and the poor, the implication was that Medicare and Medicaid would presage a Soviet America. Now that Communism has been defunct for nearly twenty years, though, the cry of socialism no longer packs its old punch. 'At least in Europe, the socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives,' McCain said the other day--thereby suggesting that the dystopia he abhors is not some North Korean-style totalitarian ant heap but, rather, the gentle social democracies across the Atlantic, where, in return for higher taxes and without any diminution of civil liberty, people buy themselves excellent public education, anxiety-free health care, and decent public transportation."

--Hendrik Hertzberg, at the New Yorker

October 28, 2008

Quotable: Joshua Holland on same-sex marriage rights

"Now, it just so happens that I'm straight (not that there's anything wrong with that), and yet I think it's crucial that same-sex couples enjoy full marriage equality -- and not just "civil unions." Why the unyielding stance, given that the whole thing will never affect me directly?

"It's the underlying principle at stake that's so important. Either the law treats all citizens the same, regardless of race, sex, creed, how they identify themselves or whom they happen to love, or it doesn't. If it doesn't, then my own rights are in no way secure."

--Joshua Holland, on AlterNet

October 23, 2008

Quotable: Gwynne Dyer on the current financial crisis

secretly-relieved.jpg

"In times like these, it is fashionable for despairing brokers and bankers to quote Rudyard Kipling's poem 'If' -- or rather, to misquote it: 'IF you can keep your head when all about you/Are losing theirs and blaming it on you/You simply don't understand how bad the situation is.'"

--Gwynne Dyer, from his syndicated column

October 16, 2008

Quotable: Carl Sandburg on socialism

"There have been as many varieties of socialists as there are wild birds that fly in the woods and sometimes go up and on through the clouds."

--Carl Sandburg

October 2, 2008

Quotable: Bartcop on voter stupidity

"Poor people, year after year, vote to make the rich richer and that's crazy.
The way America votes, you'd think 2/3 of us are Fortune 500 CEOs.

Poor people could vote themselves out of poverty - but they choose not to.
and that's why we don't win every election - because American voters are so f-ing stupid."

--Bart of Bartcop.com, really putting the finger on what's wrong with Kansas (and anyplace else where people think voting for a rich wingnut will magically turn you into one.)

September 23, 2008

Quotable: Wajdi Mouawad on art and politics

"Now, as one functionary to another, this is the second thing that I wanted to tell you: no government, in showing contempt for artists, has ever been able to survive. Not one. One can, of course, ignore them, corrupt them, seduce them, buy them, censor them, kill them, send them to camps, spy on them, but hold them in contempt, no. That is akin to rupturing the strange pact, made millennia ago, between art and politics."

--Wajdi Mouawad, "An open letter to Prime Minister Harper", at The Wrecking Ball

September 12, 2008

Quotable: Lynda "Wonder Woman" Carter on Sarah Palin

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman

These bracelets deflect bullshit too, bitch!

"Don't get me started. She's the anti-Wonder Woman. She's judgmental and dictatorial, telling people how they've got to live their lives. And a superior religious self-righteousness … that's just not what Wonder Woman is about. Hillary Clinton is a lot more like Wonder Woman than Mrs. Palin. She did it all, didn't she?

"No one has the right to dictate, particularly in this country, to force your own personal views upon the populace — religious views. I think that is suppressive, oppressive, and anti-American. We are the loyal opposition. That's the whole point of this country: freedom of speech, personal rights, personal freedom. Nor would Wonder Woman be the person to tell people how to live their lives. Worry about your own life! Worry about your own family! Don't be telling me what I want to do with mine.

"I like John McCain. But this woman — it's anathema to me what she stands for. I think America should be very afraid. Very afraid. Separation of church and state is the one thing the creators of the Constitution did agree on — that it wasn't to be a religious government. People should feel free to speak their minds about religion but not dictate it or put it into law.

"What I don't understand, honestly, is how anyone can even begin to say they know the mind of God. Who do they think they are? I think that's ridiculous. I know what God is in my life. Now I am sure that she's not all just that. But it's enough to me. It's enough for me to have a visceral reaction. And it makes me mad.

"People need to speak up. Doesn't mean that I'm godless. Doesn't mean that I am a murderer. What I hate is this demonization of everybody but one position. You're un-American because you're against the war. It's such bullshit. Fear. It's really such a finite way of thinking about God to think that your measley little mind can know the mind of God. It's a very little God that way. I think that God's bigger. I don't presume to know his mind. Or her mind."

--Lynda Carter, as quoted in Philadelphia Magazine

September 7, 2008

Quotable: Gloria Steinem on Sarah Palin

This isn't the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie.

--Gloria Steinem, in the Los Angeles Times

July 23, 2008

Quotable: Stanley Milgram on bad Germans

"There is always some element of bad form in objecting to the destructive course of events, or indeed, in making it a topic of conversation. Thus, in Nazi Germany, even among those most closely identified with the 'final solution', it was considered an act of discourtesy to talk about the killings."

--Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority

July 10, 2008

Quotable: Jeff Sharlet on imperialism

"Fascism may be a purer evil, but empire is a more pervasive one, and ultimately more dangerous because it's able to call on the loyalties of well-intentioned people who'd never go near fascism. But if you're a Vietnamese kid napalmed in 1968, or an Iraqi kid with your hands blown off in 2008, empire is every bit as bad as fascism. Or, for that matter, if you're a Bangladeshi or a Chinese sweat shop worker or an Afghani forced to grow and process heroin to survive, the economic ramifications of empire are as bad as the explicit political repression of fascism. And for decades, what traditional fascism has cropped up around the world — in Central America, in some African nations, for instance — has been made possible only through the support of empire."

--Jeff Sharlet, interviewed at The Wild Hunt Blog

June 23, 2008

Quotable: Chris Hedges on crapaganda whoredom

"The past week was a good one if you were a courtier. We were instructed by the high priests on television over the past few days to mourn a Sunday morning talk show host, who made $5 million a year and who gave a platform to the powerful and the famous so they could spin, equivocate and lie to the nation. We were repeatedly told by these television courtiers, people like Tom Brokaw and Wolf Blitzer, that this talk show host was one of our nation's greatest journalists, as if sitting in a studio, putting on makeup and chatting with Dick Cheney or George W. Bush have much to do with journalism.

"No journalist makes $5 million a year. No journalist has a comfortable, cozy relationship with the powerful. No journalist believes that acting as a conduit, or a stenographer, for the powerful is a primary part of his or her calling. Those in power fear and dislike real journalists. Ask Seymour Hersh and Amy Goodman how often Bush or Cheney has invited them to dinner at the White House or offered them an interview.

"All governments lie, as I.F. Stone pointed out, and it is the job of the journalist to do the hard, tedious reporting to shine a light on these lies. It is the job of courtiers, those on television playing the role of journalists, to feed off the scraps tossed to them by the powerful and never question the system. In the slang of the profession, these television courtiers are 'throats.' These courtiers, including the late Tim Russert, never gave a voice to credible critics in the buildup to the war against Iraq. They were too busy playing their roles as red-blooded American patriots. They never fought back in their public forums against the steady erosion of our civil liberties and the trashing of our Constitution. These courtiers blindly accept the administration's current propaganda to justify an attack on Iran. They parrot this propaganda. They dare not defy the corporate state. The corporations that employ them make them famous and rich. It is their Faustian pact. No class of courtiers, from the eunuchs behind Manchus in the 19th century to the Baghdad caliphs of the Abbasid caliphate, has ever transformed itself into a responsible elite."

--Chris Hedges, "The Hedonists of Power"

May 30, 2008

Quotable: Amy Katz on the falsities of the "free" market

"The problem is not the issue of personal choice--it's the doctrine of personal choice. We are constantly being told that change begins with us, that only we can solve our own problems, that we are the authors of our destinies. I believe that these are, in fact, ideological statements, rooted in a free market aversion to collective action. To get ourselves through the next century, we will need to shake off the phantasm of an exclusively personal destiny and couple our individual choices with real, penalty-laden national and international environmental regulations. To get ourselves through the next century, we will need a collective privileging of human lives and futures over corporate profits.

"In other words, we need to make political change, something we can't do as individuals. And something we can't do without challenging, in a serious and uncomfortable way, the existing order. So yes, let's change our lifestyles and reduce our personal impacts on the environment. It will help to nudge us closer to the world we want. But, at some point (and I would argue that point would be now), to prevent a global environmental breakdown, we are going to have to embark on a course of action that questions some of the fundamental tenets of our economic system.

"The logic of the market is destroying the planet. We will not save the planet by turning the free market on itself and buying hybrid cars. We will save the planet by forcing our governments to mandate real environmental regulations. We will save the planet by refusing to allow the requirements of the market to dictate our health, our preferences, our sense of reality and the course of our lives."

--Amy Katz, editor of The Greenpeace Green Living Guide

May 27, 2008

Quotable: Barry Nolan on the myth of free speech

"In today's America, speech is only 'free' when you are talking down to someone less powerful that you. Speak 'up' — and look out.

"In your work life, they can fire you, as I found out, for quietly saying something that is widely known to be true. Put a lid on it."

--Barry Nolan, who was fired for telling the awful truth about Bill O'Reilly at an awards banquet where the latter was undeservedly honored for being a professional liar

May 19, 2008

Quotable: George W. Bush on Jews

"You know what I'm gonna tell those Jews when I get to Israel, don't you Herman?...I'm telling 'em they're all going to hell."

--Dubya, to Austin American-Statesman reporter Ken Herman.

April 21, 2008

Quotable: Gary Kamiya on what to do about terrorism

"The only effective way to reduce the threat of terrorism is to work to end the conditions that give rise to it. In the case of Islamist terrorism, this means a comprehensive and enlightened political, economic and diplomatic strategy for dealing with the Arab/Muslim world. Only a tiny minority of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims support radical jihadis, but catastrophic errors like invading Iraq make violent fundamentalism more attractive. Follow the physician's credo: First, do no harm."

--Gary Kamiya, "Iraq: The Ten Commandments", at Salon.com

March 4, 2008

Quotable: Alice W. Flaherty on politicians and brain damage

"The neurologist Oliver Sacks tells of a ward of aphasic patients listening to President Reagan giving a speech on television. Although unable to fully understand his words, the patients compensated by being particularly sensitive to his tone and inflections, which they found farcical. A patient with a right hemisphere lesion who could not judge tone was also present. She concentrated on Reagan's exact words--which she too found ridiculous. Sacks concluded from this that it takes a fully working brain to be deluded by politicians."

--Alice W. Flaherty, The Midnight Disease

January 16, 2008

Quotable: Naomi Klein on neoliberal bullshit

"What I dislike most about the trickle-down democracy argument is the dishonor it pays to all the people who fought, and fight still, for genuine democratic change in their countries, whether for the right to vote, or to have access to land, or to form unions. Democracy isn't the work of the market's invisible hand; it is the work of real hands....Real democracy--true decision-making power in the people's hands--is always demanded, never granted."

--Naomi Klein, Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate

January 14, 2008

Quotable: Benito Mussolini on how Jonah Goldberg is full of shit

"Granted that the 19th century was the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy, this does not mean that the 20th century must also be the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy. Political doctrines pass; nations remain. We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right ', a Fascist century."

--Benito Mussolini, The Doctrine of Fascism

(So much for the idea that fascism is of the left, eh Jonah?)

December 31, 2007

Quotable: Morley Callaghan on fascism and the church

"It seems to me that those who have tried to make the rebel cause the Christian cause have no shame. All those who are heart and soul with the rebels have made a clear cut choice between the things that are Caesar's and the things that are God's. They are on the side of property rights against human rights."

--Morley Callaghan, Canadian author, writing during the Spanish Civil War as a Catholic in support of the Republican cause. The Vatican notably took the opposite side, and still does.

December 26, 2007

Quotable: Oskar Lafontaine on the neo-con world order

"The European Left has lost credibility. It has opened itself too much to neoliberalism, which spells destruction for the social order. If it reverts to its origins, it will make gains again."

--Oskar Lafontaine, German leftist politician, in an interview with Aporrea. Translation mine.

December 5, 2007

Quotable: The loopy sayings of Hugo Chavez

"I think the government of Colombia doesn't want peace....Colombia deserves a better president." --about Alvaro Uribe

"The best way to end poverty is--you already know this--GIVING POWER TO THE POOR."

"Let's go after the terrorists, yes. Let's find the terrorists. But not like this. You cannot fight terrorism with more terrorism!" --in reference to the war on Afghanistan

"Globalization is nothing new. We've had it for 500 years. Only now, it has computers."

"There is no solution within capitalism, one must transcend capitalism. Nor is it about statism or state capitalism, which would be the same perversion of the Soviet Union, which was the cause of its fall. We must reclaim socialism as a thesis, as a project and a path, but a new socialism. Humanism, putting humans and not the machine ahead of everything, the human and not the state."

"Nobody should be scared of socialism; it's about equality."

"If this revolution is to succeed, it is all-important that women acquire more power."

"To God what is God's. To Caesar what is Caesar's. And to the people, what is the people's." --upon being restored to his seat by people power, April 14, 2002

"For me this is not a defeat and I don't consider that this is a victory of the opposition. Here what exists is the maintenance of an opening towards a path for a new homeland. What they leave out of their invented accounts of crisis and of people easily defeated and sad, is that Chavez is still here for a while." --about the constitutional reforms which were recently, and narrowly, defeated

November 24, 2007

Quotable: Robert Higgs on crackpot realists

"Crackpot realists never learn anything, even when the lessons are cuffing them roughly about the head and shoulders. They continue to pile on more of the same actions that got them into trouble in the first place, expecting to be seen as Churchillian heroes for staying the idiotic course they have set.

"They keep spinning the bad news, year after year after year, wearing out entire battalions of press officers, until they finally escape from the morass by leaving office. Afterward, they heap blame on their successors for "losing China" or "cutting and running."

"Although the crackpot realists are neither wise nor honest, they are politically shrewd and personally vicious. When their malfeasances are exposed, they toss subordinates to the wolves and prepare the ground for their own pardons, understanding that the political winds may shift sharply against them later on.

"They are not squeamish: they digest mass murder as easily as they consume their eggs and toast, and they do not lose sleep by agonizing over the cannon fodder they sacrifice in the service of their own aggrandizement. Other people's children go to war; theirs go to Harvard and Yale.

"Being busy people, they cannot waste time on pity, except when a photo op requires its feigned expression.

"Imperialism appeals to them: if controlling the economic heights at home is good, controlling them throughout the entire world is better. Once ExxonMobil, Shell, Citigroup, J. P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Halliburton, and Bechtel have made their multinational arrangements, everything else will fall into place nicely.

"If it doesn't, because some uppity mullah or tin-pot dictator has created a snag, the U.S. Marines are always available, in the immortal words of the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Ledeen, 'to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.'"

--Robert Higgs, "The Triumph of Crackpot Realism"

November 23, 2007

Quotable: Naomi Wolf on America's weakening democracy

Not convinced yet that creeping fascism is...well, on the creep? Listen to Naomi and think again.

November 22, 2007

Quotable: Lewis Black on the capitalization of Christmas

"Christmas begins now in August. Christmas has become the Beast that just cannot be fed!"

--Lewis Black

November 11, 2007

Noam Chomsky can't give soundbite for shit

Or so they say everytime they refuse to give him airtime.

"They", of course, being the lamestream media. Even PBS and NPR (supposedly the long-haired intellectuals of the US broadcasterati) are constantly begging off because, supposedly, Chomsky hasn't got "concision" (translation: soundbite-ability).

There's only one problem with that excuse: It's bullshit.

As you can see (in little more than three minutes!), Chomsky can so give good soundbite. The only problem with his soundbites is that they say things the lamestream media types don't want us to hear. They're not for the faint of heart (or feeble of mind.) If you're hard of thinking, they will force you to think hard.

Go on. Read Chomsky. Hear him talk. Get addicted. What have you got to lose but your phony comfort zone?

November 1, 2007

Quotable: George W. Bush on misunderestimation

"History teaches us that underestimating the words of evil, ambitious men is a terrible mistake."

--Dubya, who would know that from personal experience, today at a meeting of the brownshirt clans

October 23, 2007

Quotable: Studs Terkel on hope in a hopeless world

"I once wrote a book called Hope Dies Last. I believe that. I might feel hopelessness, except for one thing: the young. I don't mean the young as they're portrayed in TV commercials: whores, bimbos and dummies. There are many who do not fall into those categories. The big problem is that there's no memory of the past. Our hero is the free market. People forget how the free market fell on its face way back in the Depression. And how the nation pleaded with its government and got help. Today, all these fat CEOs say we don't need government. And these fat boys get away with it, because of our collective Alzheimer's, and the power of Rupert Murdoch and CNN. There is despair in this country, sure. At the same time, we are waiting."

--Studs Terkel, interviewed in the UK Independent

October 22, 2007

Quotable: Marjane Satrapi on obscene trends

"Why do all the women get plastic surgery? Why? Why? Why should we look like some freaks with big lips that look like an anus? What is so sexy about that? What is sexy about having something that looks like a goose anus?"

--Marjane Satrapi, interviewed by the New York Times

October 18, 2007

Quotable: Tori Amos on archetypes

"What do I say to people who don't know how to interpret my songs? You don't read the Bible literally. I thought parables were very clear, yet a lot of people have problems with them when they pop up today. I can't tell people that maybe they need to read some books, brush up on their archetypes. They could probably go on a website and figure it out. But literalizing is very much part of the patriarchy. If you want something made concrete, I'll give you some shoes and pour some cement in them and we'll drop you off in the river."

--Tori Amos, from the introduction to Tori Amos Piece by Piece: A Portrait of the Artist: Her Thoughts. Her Conversations.

October 3, 2007

Quotable: Jon Stewart on speculation

"Speculation: News you can use--eventually."

--Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, October 3, 2007

August 17, 2007

Quotable: Agatha Christie on war

"One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one."

--Dame Agatha Christie, from her autobiography, published in 1977.

July 8, 2007

Quotable: Albert Einstein on capitalist tyranny

"Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital, the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights."

--Albert Einstein, "Why Socialism?", Monthly Review, 1949

July 4, 2007

Quotable: Harry S. Truman on the CIA

"For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the government...I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak-and-dagger operations. Some of the complications and embarrassment that I think we have experienced are in part attributable to the fact that this quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue and a subject for cold war enemy propaganda."

--Former US president Harry S. Truman, interviewed by the Washington Post, December 21, 1963

July 1, 2007

Quotable: Paul Waldman on progressives

"Progressives do not lack for policy experts or committed activists. What they need is an infrastructure whose purpose is not fighting conservatives on this or that issue but battling conservatism itself."

--Paul Waldman, "Being Right is Not Enough"

June 18, 2007

Quotable: Naomi Wolf on fascism without swastikas

"Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree--domestically--as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government--the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors--we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of 'homeland' security--remember who else was keen on the word 'homeland'--didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.

"It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable...that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise."

--Naomi Wolf, "Fascist America, in 10 easy steps"

May 24, 2007

Quotable: Evo Morales on capitalism

"The transnational corporations always provoke conflicts to accumulate capital, and the accumulation of capital in a few hands is no solution for humanity. And so I have arrived at the conclusion that capitalism is the worst enemy of humanity."

--Evo Morales, speaking in Cochabamba, Bolivia

May 18, 2007

Quotable: Christopher Hitchens on Jerry Falwell

Yes, this IS a case of a stopped clock being right for all of two seconds out of a given 24 hours. Savor those two seconds, kiddies. For as soon as they're over, Hitchens will, like Cinderella's coach, revert to pumpkinhood once more.

BTW, Hitchens shares an obnoxious trait with Falwell (besides the fact that if you gave him an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox, too)--both of them made it their mission to bring down Bill Clinton and, as a result, elevate an unholy alliance of theocrats and PNAC warmongers to the White House.

Thanks a lot, Hitch, you drunken louse.

May 12, 2007

Quotable: John Kenneth Galbraith on conservatism

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

--John Kenneth Galbraith

May 8, 2007

Quotable: Hugo Chavez on mixed-economy socialism

"We do not have a statist model [of socialism], that everything will be of the state. Is it possible that there are private businesses in socialism? Yes. Even I would say that in Venezuela it is not only possible, but necessary."

--Hugo Chavez, putting the lie to those who say he's out to commit state capitalism

April 18, 2007

Quotable: Bill Maher on the elites

April 15, 2007

Quotable: Joan Baez (and Bob Dylan) on holy wars

April 12, 2007

Quotable: Kurt Vonnegut on socialism

"Christianity and socialism alike, in fact, prescribe a society dedicated to the proposition that all men, women, and children are created equal and shall not starve."

--Kurt Vonnegut

April 8, 2007

Quotable: Ursula K. Le Guin on extremes

"Almost anything carried to its logical extreme becomes depressing, if not carcinogenic."

--Ursula K. Le Guin, from the introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness

April 1, 2007

Quotable: Barbara Bush on apathy and ignorance

The Ugly Mind of Barbara Bush

March 26, 2007

Quotable: Conrad Black's father on life, the universe and everything

"Life is hell, most people are bastards, and everything is bullshit."

--attributed to Conrad Black's father, George, on his deathbed; if true, goes a long way toward explaining why Black fils turned out the way he did

March 14, 2007

Quotable: John Stuart Mill on conservatards

"I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it."

-- John Stuart Mill

March 10, 2007

Quotable: JFK on war and peace

"Foreign policy today, irrespective of what we might wish, in its impact upon our daily lives, overshadows everything else. Expenditures, taxation, domestic prosperity, the extent of social services--all hinge on the basic issue of war and peace."

--John F. Kennedy, campaign speech, 1951.

"It is unfortunate that unity for war against a common aggressor is far easier to obtain than unity for peace."

--JFK, May 4, 1945 (on the formation of the United Nations)

"War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today."

--JFK, letter to a PT-109 shipmate, May 1945, during the United Nations conference in San Francisco.

March 6, 2007

Quotable: The Pigman goes nucular

"I love the effect this new nuke is going to have on these socialists on the left. They're going to be in utter panic over this, and I am honored to bring this happy news of a brand-new nuclear weapon to you via the EIB Network."

--Rush Limbaugh, celebrating a development which anyone not on drugs would say was a Very Bad Idea.

February 19, 2007

Quotable: Lee Stringer on writing and recognition

"This is not a science. We're not making porcelain. We're not out cutting two-by-fours. It's kind of crazy stuff just to sit in a room and click away at a--in my case, if you'll forgive me, a Mac--for eight or nine hours. It is a very unnatural thing to do. And there's no one there to tell you whether what you're doing is right or wrong. It's a very scary thing, to spend a year or so doing that. And the real fear is that you'll look back and say, 'Gee I've wasted a year doing nothing.' So in the midst of that loneliness to have another writer say 'You know, you did all right,' is a great thing."

--Lee Stringer (with Kurt Vonnegut), Like Shaking Hands With God: A Conversation About Writing

February 10, 2007

Quotable: Eric Fair on torture and its consequences

"American authorities continue to insist that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib was an isolated incident in an otherwise well-run detention system. That insistence, however, stands in sharp contrast to my own experiences as an interrogator in Iraq. I watched as detainees were forced to stand naked all night, shivering in their cold cells and pleading with their captors for help. Others were subjected to long periods of isolation in pitch-black rooms. Food and sleep deprivation were common, along with a variety of physical abuse, including punching and kicking. Aggressive, and in many ways abusive, techniques were used daily in Iraq, all in the name of acquiring the intelligence necessary to bring an end to the insurgency. The violence raging there today is evidence that those tactics never worked. My memories are evidence that those tactics were terribly wrong.

[...]

"Some may suggest there is no reason to revive the story of abuse in Iraq. Rehashing such mistakes will only harm our country, they will say. But history suggests we should examine such missteps carefully. Oppressive prison environments have created some of the most determined opponents. The British learned that lesson from Napoleon, the French from Ho Chi Minh, Europe from Hitler. The world is learning that lesson again from Ayman al-Zawahiri. What will be the legacy of abusive prisons in Iraq?"

--Eric Fair, "An Iraq Interrogator's Nightmare"

January 31, 2007

Quotable: Molly Ivins' famous last (published) words

"We are the people who run this country.

We are the deciders. And every single day,

every single one of us needs to step outside

and take some action to help stop this war."

--Molly Ivins, sorely and sadly missed

January 9, 2007

Quotable: General Sherman on the hell of war

"I confess, without shame, that I am sick and tired of fighting--its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands, and fathers ... it is only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated ... that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation."

--General William Tecumseh Sherman

War is hell, Dubya!

January 6, 2007

Quotable: John Stuart Mill on predator capitalism

"I confess that I am not charmed with the ideal of life held out by those who think that the normal state of human beings is that of struggling to get on; that the trampling, crushing, elbowing, and treading on each other's heels, which form the existing type of social life, are the most desirable lot of human beings."

-- John Stuart Mill

January 3, 2007

Quotable: Adolf Hitler, closet American

"Above all, it is the young who succumb to this magic. They experience the triumph of the motorcar with the full temperment of their impressionable hearts. It must be seen as a sign of the invigorating power of our people that they give themselves with such fanatic devotion to this invention, an invention which provides the basis and structure of our modern traffic."

-- Adolf Hitler

Transportation Policy

So much for the right-wing canard that Hitler was a socialist. A real one would be promoting the tangible benefits of a well-run system of public transportation, not "fanatic devotion" to an invention that depletes resources and drives wedges between classes and individuals.

December 29, 2006

Quotable: Henry Kissinger and Lily Tomlin on power as an aphrodisiac

"Power is the best aphrodisiac." --Henry Kissinger

"Just look at the carpet-bombing of Cambodia to see what it took for him to get it up..." --Lily Tomlin

(What a pity Viagra was not on the market yet during those days. Could have saved the old boy so much trouble.)

December 25, 2006

Quotable: Tommy Douglas on internal espionage

"Setting people to spy on one another is not the way to protect freedom."

--Tommy Douglas, Greatest Canadian and victim of RCMP spying

December 15, 2006

Quotable: Dubya on how truly human he isn't

"I must tell you, I'm sleeping a lot better than people would assume."

--George W. Bush, cold-blooded mass murderer, trying hard to improve his image

December 4, 2006

Quotable: John Ball on southern racism

Sam thought carefully for a minute before he asked his next question. "Virgil, I'm going to ask you something you aren't going to like. But I want to know. How did they happen to take you? No, that isn't what I mean. I want to ask you point-blank how come a colored man got all those advantages. Now if you want to get mad, go ahead."

Tibbs countered with a question of his own. "You've always lived in the South, haven't you?"

"I've never been further than Atlanta," Sam acknowledged.

"Then it may be hard for you to believe, but there are places in this country where a colored man, to use your words for it, is simply a human being like everybody else. Not everybody feels that way, but enough do so that at home I can go weeks at a time without anybody reminding me that I'm a Negro. Here I can't go fifteen minutes. If you went somewhere where people despise you because of your southern accent, and all you were doing was speaking naturally and the best way that you could, you might have a very slight idea of what it is to be constantly cursed for something that isn't your fault and shouldn't make any difference anyhow."

Sam shook his head. "Some guys down here would kill you for saying a thing like that," he cautioned.

"You made my point," Tibbs replied.

--John Ball, In the Heat of the Night

November 29, 2006

Quotable: Michael McCaughan and Che Guevara on class myths

"All across Latin America the poor majority have been conditioned to view their social status as the inevitable outcome of a free, competitive society where winners and losers rub shoulders with no hard feelings. The occasional rags-to-riches story is presented as proof that anyone can make it if they combine persistence with hard work. The business sector creates the nation's wealth and jobs trickle down to the poor. Anyone who questions the consensus is quickly bundled out of view, like a naked man streaking across the Superbowl stadium."

--Michael McCaughan, The Battle of Venezuela

"We get on much better with simple sailors than with that middle class which, rich or not, is too attached to the memory of what it once was to pay any attention to two penniless travellers. They are as ignorant as the next man, but their petty victory in life has gone to their heads, and the banal opinions they utter come with the arrogance of being proffered by them."

--Ernesto "Che" Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries

November 15, 2006

Quotable: Amy Poehler on regime change

"In an ironic turnaround, Iraq brought regime change to the United States."

-- Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live

November 13, 2006

Quotable: Sir Elton on the dangers of organized religions

"I love the idea of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the beautiful stories about it, which I loved in Sunday school and I collected all the little stickers and put them in my book. But the reality is that organised religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate."

--Sir Elton John

November 6, 2006

Quotable: Two from Azar Nafisi

On terror alerts and the futility of color-coded systems:

"I wonder at what point in my life, and after how many years, the echo of the red siren--like a screeching violin that plays mercilessly all over one's body--would cease in my mind. I cannot separate the eight years of war from that shrill voice that several times a day, at the most unexpected hours, would intrude into our lives. Three levels of danger had been established, but I never managed to differentiate between the red (danger), yellow (possibility of danger) and white (danger has stopped) sirens. Somehow, in the sound of the white siren, menace still lurked. Usually the red siren sounded too late, after the bomb had already been dropped, and in any case, even at the university we had no real shelters to repair to."

On discontent:

"We were unhappy. We compared our situation to our own potentials, to what we could have had, and somehow there was little consolation in the fact that millions of other people were unhappier than we were. Why should other people's misery make us happier or more content?"

--Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran

November 3, 2006

Quotable: Gore Vidal on the whore media

"Who cares what the media says about anything? They are bought and paid for a thousand times over. They couldn't tell the truth if they could find it."

--Gore Vidal

November 1, 2006

Quotable: Henry Kissinger on criminality

"The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer."

--Henry Kissinger

October 31, 2006

Quotable: John Kerry finds his spine at last

"I apologize to no one for my criticism of the president and of his broken policy. If anyone owes our troops in the fields an apology, it is the president and his failed team and a Republican majority in the Congress that has been willing to stamp -- rubberstamp policies that have done injury to our troops and to their families.

"My statement yesterday -- and the White House knows this full well -- was a botched joke about the president and the president's people, not about the troops. The White House's attempt to distort my true statement is a remarkable testament to their abject failure in making America safe. It's a stunning statement about their willingness to reduce anything America, the raw politics. It's their willingness to distort, their willingness to mislead Americans, their willingness to exploit the troops as they have so many times at backdrops, at so many speeches in which they have not told the American people the truth.

"I'm not going to stand for it. What our troops deserve is a winning strategy, and what they deserve is leadership that is up to the sacrifice that they're making. Sadly, this is the best that this administration can do in a month when we have lost 100 young men and women who have given their lives for a failed policy. Over half the names on the Vietnam wall were put there after our leaders knew that our policy was wrong, and it was wrong that leaders were quiet then, and I'm not going to be quiet now. This is a textbook Republican campaign strategy: try to change the topic, try to make someone else the issue, try to make something else said the issue, not the policy, not their responsibility.

"Well, everybody knows it's not working this time, and I'm not going to stand around and let it work.

"If anyone thinks that a veteran, someone like me, who's been fighting my entire career to provide for veterans, to fight for their benefits, to help honor what their service is -- if anybody thinks that a veteran would somehow criticize more than 140,000 troops serving in Iraq, and not the president and his people who put them there, they're crazy. It's just wrong.

"This is a classic GOP textbook Republican campaign tactic. I'm sick and tired of a bunch of despicable Republicans who will not debate real policy, who won't take responsibility for their own mistakes, standing up and trying to make other people the butt of those mistakes.

"I'm sick and tired of a whole bunch of Republican attacks, the most of which come from people who never wore the uniform and never had the courage to stand up and go to war themselves.

"Enough is enough. We're not going to stand for this.

"This policy is broken, and this president and his administration didn't do their homework. They didn't study what would happen in Iraq. They didn't study and listen to the people who were the experts and would have told them. And they know that's what I was talking about yesterday. I'm not going to be lectured by a White House or by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, who's taking a day off from mimicking and attacking Michael J. Fox, who's now going to try to attack me and lie about me and distort me. No way. It disgusts me that a bunch of these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country, are willing to lie about those who did. It's over.

"This administration has given us a Katrina foreign policy: mistake upon mistake upon mistake, unwilling to give our troops the armor that they need, unwilling to have enough troops in place, unwilling to give them the humvees that they deserve to protect them, unwilling to have a coalition that is adequate to be able to defend our interests.

"Our own intelligence agency has told us they're creating more terrorists, not less; they're making us less safe, not more. I think Americans are sick and tired of this game.

"These Republicans are afraid to stand up and debate a real veteran on this topic, and they're afraid to debate -- you know, they want to debate straw men because they're afraid to debate real men.

"Well, we're going to have a real debate in this country about this policy. The bottom line is, these Republicans want to distort this policy. And this time it won't work, because we are going to stay in their face with the truth.

"And no Democrat is going to be bullied by these people, by these kinds of attacks that have no place in American politics. It's time to set our policy correct.

"They have a stand still and lose policy in Iraq, and they have a cut and run policy in Afghanistan. And the fact is our troops, who have served heroically, who deserve better, deserve leadership that is up to their sacrifice, period."

--John Kerry, D-Gonads

October 16, 2006

Quotable: Che Guevara on poverty

"That afternoon we went separate ways: Alberto following up the doctors while I went to see an old woman with asthma, a customer at La Gioconda. The poor thing was in an awful state, breathing the smell of stale sweat and dirty feet that filled her room, mixed with the dust from a couple of armchairs, the only luxuries in her house. As well as asthma, she had a bad heart. It is in cases like this, when a doctor knows he is powerless in such circumstances, that he longs for change; a change which would prevent the injustice of a system in which until a month ago this poor old woman had had to earn her living as a waitress, wheezing and panting but facing life with dignity. In these circumstances people in poor families who can't pay their way are surrounded by an atmosphere of barely disguised acrimony; they stop being father, mother, sister or brother and become a purely negative factor in the struggle for life and, by extension, a source of bitterness for the healthy members of the community who resent their illness as if it were a personal insult to those who have to support them. It is then, at the end, for people whose horizons never reach beyond tomorrow, that we see the profound tragedy which circumscribes the life of the proletariat the world over. In these dying eyes there is a humble appeal for forgiveness and also, often, a desperate plea for solace which is lost in the void, just as their body will soon be lost in the vast mystery surrounding us. How long this present order, based on an absurd idea of caste, will last I can't say, but it's time governments spent less time publicizing their own virtues and more money, much more money, funding socially useful projects."

--Ernesto "Che" Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries

October 7, 2006

Quotable: George Carlin on the American Dream

"It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it."

--George Carlin

October 2, 2006

Quotable: Mark Foley on sex addiction

"It's vile," said Rep. Mark Foley, R-West Palm Beach. "It's more sad than anything else, to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain because of a sexual addiction."

--Rep. Mark Foley, R-Pederasty, on Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky

July 18, 2006

Quotable: George W. Bush on fecal contamination

"The irony is, what they really need to do is to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over."

--George W. Bush, talking to his poodle at the G8 summit

July 13, 2006

Quotable: Robert Scheer on truth and press freedom

"You know, AJ Liebling said, 'Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.' Well, I now own at least half of one, along with Zuade Kaufman, my publisher. So, you know, you can land on your feet. Your show, which, you know, a lot of us listen to as mainstream media now. And my wife, for instance, she's a deputy editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, she sits in her parking lot listening to your show before she goes into her meetings. So alternative media is no longer really alternative, and we're no longer that dependent upon newspapers, like the Los Angeles Times, for our information. You know, go to BuzzFlash or The Nation or TruthOut or TruthDig. There are many, many sites, as you're well aware. So, I don't want people to think, 'Wow! They were able to silence me.' Nonsense.

"Did they try to silence? Yes. The Tribune Company took over the Los Angeles Times. There are issues of media conglomeration. This was a newspaper that I had worked for for 30 years. The interviews in this book, with the exception of the Playboy interview with Jimmy Carter, were all done for the Los Angeles Times. I was nominated by the paper some 20 times for Pulitzer Prizes. You know, I was a finalist. So, you know, I had a very good relationship with this paper. Chicago Tribune, the Tribune Company took it over. They're very conservative. The publisher definitely was ideologically opposed to my view. I was attacked by Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh, sometimes nightly on O'Reilly. I mean, he called me the most dangerous columnist in the world or something.

"And I think that one of the problems is that I got it right. Now, that doesn't give me any satisfaction. I would have been much happier if we could go into Iraq, and democracy would flourish, there would be no casualties, the oil revenue would pay for everything, the country was reborn as a democracy. I mean, I think most people who are against the war would have been very happy to have been proved wrong. But to have had your column ended after you got it right all those years, it shows where the paper is. "

--Robert Scheer, interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, July 10, 2006

July 6, 2006

Quotable: Pete Seeger on democracy vs. capitalism

"There's a politician in my hometown, a very nice guy. He used to be a shop steward for the union in the local factory, but for twenty years he represented our town in the county legislature. And he said, 'Pete, if you don't grow, you die.' One o'clock in the morning, I sat up in bed and thought of the next question. If that's true, if you don't grow you die, doesn't it follow the quicker you grow, the sooner you die? Nobody is facing up to that question, but it's very definitely true. Now the first step in solving a problem is to admit there's a problem. Then we can argue about ways it could be solved.

"I suppose one person will say. 'Well, let a few people have trillions of dollars and the rest of the people obediently do the work, and the people in charge will see that everything is done right.' On other hand, I think what was in the Declaration of Independence is true now, just as it was then. Those great lines, they're written by Ben Franklin, you know, not Jefferson. 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that when any government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.'"

--Pete Seeger, as interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, July 3, 2006

June 22, 2006

Quotable: Noam Chomsky on the unspeakable c-word

"In the United States you're not allowed to talk about class differences. In fact, only two groups are allowed to be class-conscious in the United States. One of them is the business community, which is rabidly class-conscious. When you read their literature, it's all full of the danger of the masses and their rising power and how we have to defeat them. It's kind of vulgar, inverted Marxism.

"The other group is the high planning sectors of the government. They talk the same way--how we have to worry about the rising aspirations of the common man and the impoverished masses who are seeking to improve standards and harming the business climate.

"So they can be class-conscious. They have a job to do. But it's extremely important to make other people, the rest of the population, believe that there is no such thing as class. We're all just equal, we're all Americans, we live in harmony, we all work together, everything is great."

--Noam Chomsky, interview with David Barsamian, in The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many (Odonian Press, 1994)

June 12, 2006

Quotable: Albert Camus on good and evil

"The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole men are more good than bad; that, however, isn't the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance which fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill. The soul of the murderer is blind; and there can be no true goodness nor true love without the utmost clear-sightedness."

--Albert Camus, The Plague

June 11, 2006

Quotable: Tim Grieve on repugnant "patriots"

"The next time a Republican wraps himself in 9/11 or uses a soldier as a prop -- the next time Bush watches a 9/11 movie with 9/11 families, the next time he invites the father of a fallen soldier to join him in throwing out a first pitch, the next time he participates in a staged chat with troops in the field, the next time his party holds its national political convention within shouting distance of ground zero, the next time the mother of a fallen soldier turns up in Laura Bush's box at the State of the Union address, the next time Cheney suggests that questioning the president's Iraq policy somehow equates to undercutting the troops -- remember this: It's the Democrats, not the Republicans, who do this sort of thing. Just ask Ann Coulter."

-- Tim Grieve

June 2, 2006

Quotable: Lynne Truss on modern rudeness

"Nearly sixty years ago, George Orwell wrote in Nineteen Eighty-Four that the future was a boot stomping on a human face for ever. I see it as a forest of belligerent and dismissive palms held up to the human face instead. Thank you for choosing to hold for an assistant. There's no one here to help you at this time. Nobody asked you to hold the Effing door open. An error of type 506 has occurred. Please disconnect, check your preferences, then go off and die. Do NOT type PIN until requested. Please continue to hold, your call is important to us. Sharon's in charge of envelopes and she isn't in on Fridays. You need to go to the other till. Have you considered on-line banking? Eff Off, fat cow. If you would like to speak to an assistant, please have your account details ready and call back in 200 years."

--Lynne Truss, Talk to the Hand

June 1, 2006

Quotable: Albert Camus on pestilences

"A pestilence isn't a thing made to man's measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogey of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn't always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they haven't taken their precautions. Our townsfolk were not more to blame than others, they forgot to be modest--that was all--and thought that everything still was possible for them; which presupposed that pestilences were impossible. They went on doing business, arranged for journeys, and formed views. How should they have given a thought to anything like plague, which rules out any future, cancels journeys, silences the exchange of views? They fancied themselves free, and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences."

--Albert Camus, The Plague

(N.B.: This novel is set in Oran, in the early 1940s. The pestilence in question here is not only the bubonic plague, as a "straight" reading would indicate, but also an allegory of the encroaching Nazism of the day.)

May 29, 2006

Quotable: Mahatma Gandhi on freedom and slavery

"The moment the slave resolves that he will no longer be a slave, his fetters fall. He frees himself and shows the way to others. Freedom and slavery are mental states."

--Mahatma Gandhi

May 22, 2006

Quotable: Smedley Butler on the war racket

"The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry and labor before the nation's manhood can be conscripted. One month before the Government can conscript the young men of the nation — it must conscript capital and industry and labor. Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted — to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get. ... Give capital and industry and labor thirty days to think it over and you will find, by that time, there will be no war. That will smash the war racket — that and nothing else. "

-- Smedley Darlington Butler, Major General, USMC (Ret.), 1935; from "War is a Racket"

May 20, 2006

Quotable: Dubya picture quote #1

No such thing as WHAT?

Photoshopper unknown, but da-yum!--what a great catch.

May 16, 2006

Quotable: H.L. Mencken channels El Predicto

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

-- H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

May 6, 2006

Quotable: Stephen Colbert on the "liberal" media

"Here's how it works. The president makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration? You know, fiction!"

-- Stephen Colbert

April 27, 2006

Quotable: John Perkins on American imperialism

"I kept coming back to one main question: if the objective of foreign aid is imperialism, is that so wrong? I often found myself envying people like Charlie who believed so strongly in our system that they wanted to force it on the rest of the world. I doubted whether limited resources would allow the whole world to live the opulent life of the United States, when even the United States had millions of citizens living in poverty. In addition, it wasn't entirely clear to me that people in other nations actually want to live like us. Our own statistics about violence, depression, drug abuse, divorce, and crime indicated that although ours was one of the wealthiest societies in history, it may also be one of the least happy societies. Why would we want others to emulate us?"

--John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

April 9, 2006

Quotable: Woody Guthrie on refugees

"You know, there are different kinds of refugees. There are people who are forced to take refuge under a railroad bridge because they ain't got noplace to go, and there are those who take refuge in public office …"

--Woody Guthrie

April 8, 2006

Quotable: L. Ron Hubbard on cult mind control

"THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN CONTROL PEOPLE IS TO LIE TO THEM..., because the second you start telling anybody close to the truth, you start releasing him and he gets tougher and tougher to control."

--L. Ron Hubbard, from the Scientology Training Routines

March 31, 2006

Quotable: Stirling Newberry on Andy Card's burnout

"Andy Card kept more of his own sense of self than most people who can survive George W. Bush, who is roughly like handling a psychotic homocidal maniac, in that the slightest peeve or tick is enough to get someone ruined - they call disagreeing with Bush 'Walking into the propeller' in the White House. Bush believes that the way out is to get more dedicated Yes men in place."

-- Stirling Newberry

March 28, 2006

Quotable: Nietzsche on conservatism

"At this point the conservatives of all ages are thoroughly dishonest: they added lies."

--Friedrich Nietzsche, Die fröhliche Wissenschaft

March 27, 2006

Quotable: Americablog on the Ben Domenech kerfuffle

"This entire Washington Post blogger experience, it's like watching a puppy walk into the Coliseum. You're horrified by what you're about to see, but at the same time, you really want to get some popcorn."

--John in DC

March 10, 2006

Quotable: Arthur Golden on "kept" women

"Since moving to New York I've learned what the word 'geisha' really means to most Westerners. From time to time at elegant parties, I've been introduced to some young woman or other in a splendid dress and jewelry. When she learns I was once a geisha in Kyoto, she forms her mouth into a sort of smile, although the corners don't turn up quite as they should. She has no idea what to say! And then the burden of conversation falls to the man or woman who has introduced us--because I've never really learned much English, even after all these years. Of course, by this time there's little point even in trying, because this woman is thinking, 'My goodness...I'm talking with a prostitute...' A moment later, she's rescued by her escort, a wealthy man a good thirty or forty years older than she is. Well, I often find myself wondering why she can't sense how much we really have in common. She is a kept woman, you see, and in my day, so was I."

--Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

March 3, 2006

Quotable: Oriah Mountain Dreamer on creativity

"Over and over again our creative work saves us from forgetting what matters, from our focused productivity and our well-laid plans, from the certainty that we know what is best, that we can make things come out the way we think they should with hard work and harder resolve. Creative work saves us from the smaller self, the self that looks at the world with a tight-lipped, narrow-eyed determination, the self that turns away from softness and life-sustaining idleness, from the silence and stillness where stories and music and images, where necessary wisdom and unearned blessings, find us."

--Oriah Mountain Dreamer, What We Ache For

March 2, 2006

Quotable: Starhawk on ecology

"Our culture is afflicted with a vast disconnection, an abyss of ignorance that becomes apparent whenever an issue invoking the natural world arises. As a society, we are daily making decisions and setting policies that have enormous repercussions on the natural world. And those policies are being set by officials and approved by a public who are functionally eco-illiterate.

"I was once giving a talk at a university about the need for earth-based spirituality, when I was stopped by a student with a question that stunned me.

"'Tell me,' the young man asked, 'why is the earth important?'

"I almost didn't know what to say. I bit back a snide retort--'What planet do you live on?'--and realized with horror that he was quite serious, that somehow all his years of higher education and graduate school had not taught him that we are utterly dependent on the earth for our lives."

--Starhawk, The Earth Path

March 1, 2006

Quotable: George Orwell on propaganda

"The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledgehammer, seemed to flow through the whole group like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp."

--George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

February 28, 2006

Quotable: Albert Einstein on the military mentality

"General fear and anxiety create hatred and aggressiveness. The adaptation to warlike aims and activities has corrupted the mentality of man; as a result, intelligent, objective and humane thinking has hardly any effect and is even suspected and persecuted as unpatriotic."

--Albert Einstein, The Menace of Mass Destruction

February 27, 2006

Quotable: Anne Rivers Siddons on dreams and awakenings

"My first book, called Heartbreak Hotel, was an autobiographical book about coming of age at a Southern college campus in 1957 on the fringes of the Civil Rights movement. There was to be a climax where I felt it would be necessary for this young woman to confront a black person in a totally new environment, to make her really see the blacks around her as people instead of what they had been to her all her life, loved servants but diminished people. I couldn't think of a way to do that without being out of character with the Civil Rights movement because at that very early time we were not marching in the streets or firebombing. It was a very delicate 'one heart at a time' awakening. One night in a dream an old memory returned: I had been over to visit friends in Mississippi and while we were at the local jail, visiting the deputy sheriff, there was a jailbreak. Someone shoved me into a little room and said, 'Don't come out of this office.' But through the glass pane I saw the escaped prisoner run by the door. He looked in at me and I looked at him. It seemed as if we held that look forever.

"I had more or less buried that memory. And then one night I dreamed that that's how it would happen for my protagonist: she would see a man in the middle of a jailbreak and, by his eyes, know him totally. Know his fear and his terror and know that they were her own. The whole thing became alive and real to her then.

"I'd had that experience and I could've thought of it but I wasn't using it. It took the dream to call it out. If we let them, dreams will give great order to our lives."

--Anne Rivers Siddons, interviewed by Naomi Epel in Writers Dreaming

February 26, 2006

Quotable: Carol Shields on constant reading

"Bookish people, who are often maladroit people, persist in thinking they can master any subtlety so long as it's been shaped into acceptable expository prose."

--Carol Shields (1935-2003), Unless

February 25, 2006

Quotable: Juan Cole on the 'toon riots

"When you talk about violence, people tend not to see their own violence. How many Americans are even aware that there were race riots in Cincinnati not so long ago? We have lots of violence in this country, including mob violence. We don't think about it, because it's not marked for us. Other people's violence is marked as, you know, those people did it; if we do it, it's not noticed so much."

--Juan Cole, interviewed by Metro Times Detroit