Favorite Quotes Collected While Trying to Figure Out Where We Are Going

That [NSA survellance] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such [is] the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology. … I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

— Frank Church, 1975


The repeated use of conservative or liberal moral language is often the decisive factor in whether an independent uses a liberal or conservative moral system for a given election.

— George Lakoff, The Little Blue Book, page 14


Since the arrival of the Puritans, punishment has been inextricably woven into the fabric of American life, and increasingly it targets young people who have been pushed to the margins of society. Hence, it is not surprising that in America there is a rush to punish individuals for committing crimes but no longer a passion or commitment to examine the larger issues that produce the crimes.

— Henry Giroux, Trayvon Martin and Racist Violence in Post-Racial America


I don’t want everybody to vote.

— Paul Weyrich, Heritage Foundation and ALEC Founder


As people do better, they start voting like Republicans — unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing.

— Karl Rove, Bush’s Brain


No wonder Republicans hate government – they’re so bad at it.

— Alan Grayson email on Dumb Rich People, 5/25/2012


[A]nother warmed-up version of the “trickle down” theory, the principle that the poor, who must subsist on table scraps dropped by the rich, can best be served by giving the rich bigger meals.

— William Blum, Killing Hope (1995). Introduction


“We have a group of people in this country who are Christian, who are fundamentalist, who have within their midst, individuals who are incredibly dangerous who are waiting to go off like bombs ready to explode with the fuse lit.”

— Frank Schaeffer, Interview about his book Crazy for God.


Connecting education to the possibility of a better world is not a prescription for indoctrination; rather, it marks the distinction between the academic as a technician and the teacher as a self-reflective educator who is more than the instrument of a safely approved and officially sanctioned worldview.

One gets the sense that right-wing pundits, politicians and religious bigots believe that there is no place in the classroom for politics, worldly concerns, social issues and questions about how to lessen human suffering. In this discourse, the classroom becomes an unworldly counterpart to the gated community, a space for conformity and punishment as a tool for perpetuating dominant market-driven values and white Christian religious values. This is not education; it is a flight from self and society. As Eric Fromm has pointed out, this type of education embodies a flight from freedom, produces authoritarian personalities and punishes those who refuse to live in a society modeled as a fundamentalist theocracy.

— Henry Giroux, Why Teaching People to Think for Themselves Is Repugnant to Religious Zealots and Rick Santorum


The biggest organizer of the left has always been a capitalism that doesn’t function and doesn’t know how to fix itself.

— Richard Wolff, The Crisis of Capitalism – Richard Wolff in conversation with Robert Ovetz


The rational actor model does not define real rationality. It does not characterize the way people really think, though it is sometimes used as an ideal for how people should think. It is a mathematical model with very specific characteristics, characteristics that are not widely known or appreciated. It can be applied fairly directly, with validity, only in certain very circumscribed situations. … But “rationality” defined in this way has severe limits.

— George Lakoff, The Political Mind.


The people who responded to the call [of the Tea Party] appear to be primarily the authoritarian followers who form the base of the present GOP—social conservatives who, when they campaigned behind religious leadership, were known as the religious right. But the movement also attracted economic conservatives, who also strongly tend to lean Republican. Many of these economic conservatives are libertarians, and they may include a relatively high percentage of [authoritarian] social dominators.

— Robert Altemeyer, Comment on the Tea Party Movement


Taxes are a priviledge in a democratic society, a necessary component for sustaining the common good. And progressive taxes are a fair tribute to a society that has created the conditions that enable some individuals to become wealthy and prosperous.

— William H. Gates Sr. and Chuck Collins, Wealth and our Commonwealth


There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody! You built a factory out there, good for you! But, I wanna be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of the police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory and hire someone to protect against this because of the work that the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea, God bless, keep a big hunk of it, but part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

— Elizabeth Warren, Nobody Gets Rich on Their Own


In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

— Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address, Jan 17, 1961


Democracy thrives on dissent, but dissent and critical citizenship cannot take place in a country marked by a widening gap between political democracy and socio-economic power. Inequality is not just a normal outgrowth of a market-driven economy; it is fundamental to a political system that destroys democracy.

— Henry Giroux, Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism


Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose.

From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men —above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellowmen, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received. My peace of mind is often troubled by the depressing sense that I have borrowed too heavily from the work of other men.

Albert Einstein, 1931


The first rule of effective communication is stating the positive in your own terms, not quoting the other side’s language with a negation.

— George Lakoff, The Policyspeak Disaster for Health Care


Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with His eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American people.

By the frame of the Government under which we live this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief, and have with equal wisdom provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals. While the people retain their virtue and vigilance no Administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four years.

My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you in hot haste to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfied still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensitive point, the laws of your own framing under it; while the new Administration will have no immediate power, if it would, to change either. If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the right side in the dispute, there still is no single good reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty.

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect, and defend it.”

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

— Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, Monday, March 4, 1861


We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason.

— Edward R. Murrow


Remember the Miraculous – In the final analysis, the future of ice and climate change on this planet depends on how humanity deals with the nexus of energy and economics. So let me end this book with one last thought about energy supply. Paradoxical as it seems, hydrocarbon energy sources – oil, coal, and natural gas – are not ordinary fungible commodities like, say corn kernels or pork bellies. They are a distillation of life and time in a way nothing else is. Long ago, in the dust of ancient epochs, an infinity of animals and plants were born, grew to whatever maturity was their destiny, fed, inhaled, exhaled, lived in communities, and propagated their young. Their existence – all of it based on photosynthesis – concentrated the blazing light of a trillion sunrises into their bodies, just as our own animate life does today.

The essence of those past lives and vanished sunrises is now being passed to us, transmuted into the clear liquid drizzling into our gas tanks or the flickering of a light bulb or a picture dancing across a television screen or hundreds of other daily events we never notice. We gobble up the heat and electrons in nanoseconds, and then they are gone. It is a process both wondrous and awful. Remembering the miracle of this transformation might inject some much needed grace and humility into the engine of our consumption.

— James Balog, Extreme Ice Now


This is a fundamental debate in our society: Are we a nation of citizens or a nation of consumers? … Consumerism appeals to the greedy and selfish child part of us, the infantilized part that just wants someone else to take care of us. … What is at stake today is the very nature or our democratic republic. If we accept an identity as fearful, infantilized consumers, we will be acting from our baby part and allowing corporate America and an increasingly authoritarian government to fill the role of the parent part. … To save our democracy we must crack that code and bring back the code so well understood by the Founders of this nation: that we’re a country of barn-builders, of communities, of intrinsically good people who work together for the common good and the common wealth. We begin this process by speaking to the responsible part of us, the part that enjoys being grown up and socially responsible.

— Thom Hartmann, Cracking the Code – How to Win Hearts, Change Minds, and Restore America’s Original Vision.


The Old Enlightenment view of reason is not sufficient for understanding our politics. In deed, it gets in the way. It not only hides the real threat to our democracy, it all too often keeps many of our most dedicated political leaders, policy experts, commentators, and social activists from being effective.

— George Lakoff, The Political Mind – Why You Can’t Understand the 21st-Century Politics with an 18th-Century Brain.


Probably about 20 to 25 percent of the adult American population is so right-wing authoritarian, so scared, so self-righteous, so ill-informed, and so dogmatic that nothing you can say or do will change their minds. They would march America into a dictatorship and probably feel that things had improved as a result. … And they are so submissive to their leaders that they will believe and do virtually anything they are told. They are not going to let up and they are not going away.

— John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience


The ‘war on terrorism’ can never be won solely by plans to find and destroy terrorists, since any individual, anywhere, at any time, can become an active terrorist.

— Philip G. Zimbardo— The Lucifer Effect


The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment — this was the time — when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

— Barack Obama, June 3, 2008.


He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

Thomas Paine


America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. — Abraham Lincoln – Paraphrase of 1838 Lyceum address.


America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

— Alexis de Tocqueville


When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

— Attributed to Sinclair Lewis



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About Andy Hailey

Vietnam Vet, UT El Paso Grad, Retired Aerospace Engineer, former union rep, 60's Republican now progressive, web admin, blogger.

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