Quotes M-P



Instead of the machine being a giant to which the man is the pygmy, we must at last reverse the proportions until man is a giant to whom the machine is the toy. — G K Chesterton


The difference between a mad man and myself is that I am not mad – Salvador Dali

Much madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness. . .

Assent, and you are sane;
Demur, – you’re straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.

-Emily Dickinson

I have felt the wind of the wing of madness – Baudelaire

Let us have madness openly.
0 men Of my generation.
Let us follow
The footsteps of this slaughtered age:
See it trail across Time’s dim land
Into the closed house of eternity
With the noise that dying has,
With the face that dead things wear –
nor ever say

We wanted more; we looked to find
An open door, an utter deed of love,
Transforming day’s evil darkness;
but We found extended hell and fog
Upon the earth, and within the head
A rotting bog of lean huge graves.

– Kenneth Patchen

Maine directions

How much further is it to Freeport? . . . About 25,000 miles the way you’re headed.

How do I get to Skowhegan? . . . Don’t you move a goddamned inch.

Hey farmer, where are we? . . . You’re in a lighter-than-air balloon you damn fools.

Where does this road go?. . . . Don’t go nowhere. Stays right here.

How do I get to Boothbay Harbor? . . . Can’t get there from here.

When you get to big Jimmy’s place down the road a piece, you’re gonna wanna take a right….. But don’t!

How do we get to Topsham? . . . Don’t rightly know . . . Well, how about Gorham then? . . . Nope, don’t know that eithah . . . You don’t seem to know much . . . Ayah, but I ain’t lost.

Do you know how to get to Waldodoro? . . .Ayah

How do you get to Bangor? . . . Well, I usually get my brother to drive me.


Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to reform. — Mark Twain


My speciality is detached malevolence – Alice Longworth Roosevelt


Management cannot solve problems. Nor can it stir creativity of any sort. It can only manage what it is given. If asked to do more, it will deform whatever is put into its hands. – John Ralston Saul


You may remember that on one occasion when a suspicious plainclothes man, observing that, whereas only two Marxes were seated at a certain breakfast table, there were nevertheless covers laid for twice as many, said sharply: “This table is set for four.” Groucho, in no wise confused, replied, “That’s nothing, the alarm clock is set for eight.” If nothing else set off the Marx Brothers from Karl Marx that would. Karl Marx had the sort of mind which, when faced with the suggestion that the stolen painting was hidden in the house next door, would, on learning that there was no house next door, never have thought to build one. Here is where, again, he parts company with the Marx Brothers. The significance of this divergence becomes clear when it is known that the Marx Brothers recovered the painting — James Thurber

Mass movement

There is a fundamental difference between the appeal of a mass movement and the appeal of a practical organization. The practical organization offers opportunities for self-advancement, and its appeal is mainly to self-interest. On the other hand, a mass movement, particularly in its active, revivalist phase, appeals not to those intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self. A mass movement attracts and holds a following not because it can satisfy the desire for self-advancement, but because it can satisfy the passion for self-renunciation. – Eric Hoffer


There is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. – Kurt Vonnegut, survivor of the Allied fire-bombing of Dresden


Calvin Trillan said that he didn’t do well in math or science because he couldn’t explain to his teachers that his answers were meant to be ironic

Politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity. — Albert Einstein

There are three types of people in this world. Those who understand math and those who don’t — Anonymous


If those in charge of our society – politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television – can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves – Howard Zinn

Media is just a word that’s come to mean bad journalism – Graeme Greene

The mass media do not transmit ideologies; they are themselves an ideology. – Umberto Eco


Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them – Joseph Heller


Meetings are an addictive, highly self-indulgent activity that corporations and other large organizations habitually engage in only because they cannot actually masturbate — Dave Barry

Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything – John Kenneth Galbraith


Our most ancient ones taught us that the celebration of memory is also a celebration of tomorrow. They told us that memory is not turning one’s head and heart towards the past. It is not a sterile remembrance which speaks laughter or tears. Memory, they told us, is one of the seven guides which the human heart needs in order to make its journey. The other six are truth, pride, consistency, honesty, respect for oneself and for the other, and love. That is why, they say, memory always points towards tomorrow, and that paradox is what prevents nightmares from be repeated in that tomorrow, and so that the joys – which also exist in the inventory of the collective memory – will be new. Memory is, above all, say our most first ones, a powerful antidote for death, and an indispensable food for life. That is why the one who cares for and guards memory is caring for and guarding life. And the one who does not have memory is dead. – Subcommandante Marcos, May 5, 2001

Mencken, HL

I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind – that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.

I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.

I believe that all government is evil, in that all government must necessarily make war upon liberty…

I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect. I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech…

I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.

I believe in the reality of progress. I – But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply.

I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie.

I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.

Middle Ages

Nevertheless, there is a queer quality in that time; which, while it was international was also internal and intimate. War, in the wide modern sense, is possible, not because more men disagree, but because more men agree. Under the peculiarly modern coercions, such as Compulsory Education and Conscription, there are such very large peaceful areas, that they all can agree upon war. In that age men disagreed even about war; peace might break out anywhere. Peace was interrupted by feuds and feuds by pardons. Individuality wound in and out of a maze; spiritual extremes were walled up with one another in one little walled town; and we see the great soul of Dante divided, a cloven flame; loving and hating his own city.” – GK Chesterton

Mid East

Beyond the Euphrates began for us the land of mirage and danger, the sands where one helplessly sank, and the roads which ended in nothing. The slightest reversal would have resulted in a jolt to our prestige giving rise to all kinds of catastrophe; the problem was not only to conquer but to conquer again and again, perpetually; our forces would be drained off in the attempt. – Emperor Hadrian AD 117-138


Military justice is to justice what military music is to music – George Clemenceau

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. –Dwight D. Eisenhower

“I would no more teach children military training than I would teach them arson, robbery, or assassination.” – Eugene Debs

I want no prisoners. I wish you to burn and kill; the more you burn and kill the better it will please me. — Brig Gen. Jacob H.Smith in order issued during the Philipine Insurrection, 1901

Our military establishment today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime … We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions … Three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all corporations. This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government. 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 process. – President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell speech, January 17, 1961

I am insulted by the persistent asertion that I want war. Am I a fool? War! It would settle nothing. — Adolph Hitler, interview with Le Matin, 1933

Madam, I am the civilization they are fighting to defend — British scholar Heathcote William Gerard responding to criticism of his failure to fight in the Great War

Standing armies in time of peace are inconsistent with the principles of republican government, dangerous to the liberties of free people and generally converted into destructive engines for establishing despotism — Declaration of Continental Congress, 1784

Recruits! Before the altar and the servant of God you have given me the oath of allegiance. . . You have sworn fidelity to me, you are the children of my guard, you are my soldiers, you have surrendered yourself to me, body and soul. Only one enemy can exist for you — my enemy. . . It may happen that I shall order you to shoot your own relatives, your brothers, or even your parents — which God forbid — and then you are bound in duty implicitly to obey my orders. — Wilhelm II, 1891


What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind. – Thomas Hewitt Key

How can we speak of the action of the mind under any divisions, as of its knowledge, of its ethics, of its works, and so forth, since it melts will into perception, knowledge into act? Each becomes the other. Itself alone is. — RW Emerson

Mind-forged manacles — W. Blake

I let my mind wander and it didn’t come back. – Calvin


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

I went to a restaurant that serves “breakfast at any time” so I ordered French toast during the Renaissance. — Steven Wright


Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied – Pearl S. Buck


There’s nothing in the middle of the road but a yellow stripe and a lot of dead armadillos. — Jim Hightower

Moderation in temper is always a virtue. But moderation in principle is always a vice. — Tom Paine

There is nothing wrong with sobriety in moderation – John Ciardi

Monk, Thelonius

– Just because you’re not a drummer, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to keep time.

– Pat your foot and sing the melody in your head when you play.

– Stop playing all that bullshit, those weird notes, play the melody!

– Make the drummer sound good.

– You’ve got to dig it to dig it, you dig?

– Don’t play the piano part, I am playing that. Don’t listen to me, I am supposed to be accompanying you!

– The inside of the tune [the bridge] is the part that makes the outside sound good.

– Don’t play everything (or everytime); let some things go by. Some music just imagined.

– What you don’t play can be more important than what you do play.

– A note can be small as a pin or as big as the world, it depends on your imagination.

– Stay in shape. Sometimes a musician waits for a gig & when it comes, he’s out of shape & can’t make it.

– Whatever you think can’t be done, somebody will come along & do it. A genius is the one most like himself.

– They tried to get me to hate white people, but someone would always came along & spoiled it.


Money as such is, as Oscar Wilde said, perfectly useless. You can’t eat it, drink it, shelter yourself from the cold with it, wear it, or make love with it unless deeply disturbed. In and of itself, it has no emotions, no mind, and no conscience. It doesn’t put out flowers or have children, and it makes a lousy pet. It has meaning only when it circulates, and is exchanged for other things; and money doesn’t do that for itself. People do that, using money as a symbolic token. – Margaret Atwood

I don’t like money very much, but it calms my nerves. — Joe Louis

After the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten. – Cree Indian prophecy

Don’t gamble. Take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it ’til it goes up, then sell it. If it don’t go up, don’t buy it. – Will Rogers

I don’t know what money is today, and I don’t think anybody at the Fed does either. – Richard Pratt, Chairman of the Board of the Federal Home Loan Bank, 1982


People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. – Adam Smith


Morality consists in suspecting other people of not being legally married – George Bernard Shaw

I don’t have much morals but I have a hell of a lot of ethics — Walter Crammond, head of a Minneapolis buildings trade union in the 1950s.


I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. – EB White

Murrow, Edward R

One of the basic troubles with radio and television news is that both instruments have grown up as an incompatible combination of show business, advertising and news. Each of the three is a rather bizarre and demanding profession. And when you get all three under one roof, the dust never settles. The top management of the networks with a few notable exceptions, has been trained in advertising, research, sales or show business. But by the nature of the corporate structure, they also make the final and crucial decisions having to do with news and public affairs. Frequently they have neither the time nor the competence to do this. It is not easy for the same small group of men to decide whether to buy a new station for millions of dollars, build a new building, alter the rate card, buy a new Western, sell a soap opera, decide what defensive line to take in connection with the latest Congressional inquiry, how much money to spend on promoting a new program, what additions or deletions should be made in the existing covey or clutch of vice-presidents, and at the same time– frequently on the same long day–to give mature, thoughtful consideration to the manifold problems that confront those who are charged with the responsibility for news and public affairs. – Edward R. Murrow, 1958


C, E-flat, and G go into a bar. The bartender says, “Sorry, but we don’t serve minors.” So E-flat leaves, and C and G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished, and G is out flat. F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough. D comes in and heads for the bathroom, saying, “Excuse me; I’ll just be a second.” Then A comes in, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor. Then the bartender notices B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and says, “Get out! You’re the seventh minor I’ve found in this bar tonight.” E-flat comes back the next night in a three-piece suit with nicely shined shoes. The bartender says, “You’re looking sharp tonight. Come on in, this could be a major development.” Sure enough, E-flat soon takes off his suit and everything else, and is au natural. Eventually C sobers up and realizes in horror that he’s under a rest. C is brought to trial, found guilty of contributing to the diminution of a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of D.S. without Coda at an upscale correctional facility. – Infamous MsC

In the end, we shall have had enough of cynicism, skepticism and humbug, and we shall want to live more musically – Vincent Van Gogh

Music washes away the dust of every day life – Art Blakey

The soloist has to establish for the listener what the important point, the motif if you like, is, and then show as much as he can of what it is that he sees in that motif. . . while never giving the feeling he has forgotten it. In other words, I believe that it should be a basic principle to use repetition, rather than variety – but not too much. The listener is constantly making predictions; actual infinitesimal predictions as to whether the next event will be a repetition of something, or something different. The player is constantly either confirming or denying these predictions in the listener’s mind, As nearly as we can tell (Kraehenbuehl at Yale and I), the listener must come out right about 50% of the time. If he is too successful in predicting, he will be bored; if he is too unsuccessful, he will give up and call the music “disorganized.” – Jazz pianist and Yale instructor Richmond Browne

A lot of people play music for the wrong reasons. I never played to get women, though I had my share. I didn’t do it for the money, though it pays the bills. I realized early on that I could create something beautiful that would build love within the people who came out to hear it. Music is the best medicine in the world, man. – Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown


If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way. — Bertrand Russell


Nash, Ogden

In far Tibet
There live a lama,
He got no poppa,
Got no momma,

He got no wife,
He got no chillun,
Got no use
For penicillun . . .

Indeed, the
Ignorant Have-Not
Don’t even know
What he don’t got.

If you will mind
The box-tops, comma,
I think I’ll go
And join that lama.


The chief business of the nation, as a nation, is the setting up of heroes, mainly bogus – HL Mencken


Man’s conquest of Nature, if the dreams of some scientific planners are realized, means the rule of a few hundreds of men over billions upon billions of men. There neither is nor can be any simple increase of power on Man’s side. Each new power won by man is a power over man as well. Each advance leaves him weaker as well as stronger. In every victory, besides being the general who triumphs, he is also the prisoner who follows the triumphal car. – C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put into this world to rise above. — Katharine Hepburn to Humphrey Bogart in ‘The African Queen’


What surprised me at first was that most Germans, so far as I could see, did not seem to mind that their personal freedom had been taken away, that so much of their splendid culture was being destroyed and replaced with a mindless barbarism, or that their life and work were becoming regimented to a degree never before experienced even by a people accustomed for generations to a great deal of regimentation. One soon became aware, to be sure, that in the background there lurked the terror of the Gestapo and the fear of the concentration camp for those who got too far out of line or who had been Communists or Socialists or too liberal or pacifist or who were Jews…. Yet the Nazi terror in those early years, I was beginning to see, affected the lives of relatively few Germans. The vast majority did not seem unduly concerned with what happened to a few Communists, Socialists, pacifists, defiant priests and pastors, and to the Jews. A newly arrived observer was forced, however reluctantly, as in my own case, to conclude that on the whole the people did not seem to feel that they were being cowed and held down by an unscrupulous tyranny. On the contrary, and much to my surprise, they appeared to support it with genuine enthusiasm. Somehow Adolf Hitler was imbuing them with a new hope, a new confidence and an astonishing renewed faith in the future of their country.” – William L. Shirer, “Nightmare Years”

New York City

Within the next decade there will only be corporations living in the city. I don’t see how humans can afford it. — Edward Woodward

I have just returned from New York. It’s the only thing to do if you find yourself up there. — Fred Allen


Everything great in the world comes from neurotics. They alone have founded our religions, and composed our masterpieces. Never will the world know all it owes to them, nor all they have suffered to enrich us – Marcel Proust

New Order

Those who seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings, call this a New Order. It is not new and it is not order.” – FDR


If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own. – Scoop Nisker, KSAN-FM, San Francisco, 1969

News is what someone wants to suppress. Everything else is advertising – Former NBC news president Reuven Frank

There is indeed a business like show business. It’s the news. – Paul Krassner


Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock. – Ben Hecht

The function of a newspaper in a democracy is to stand as a sort of chronic opposition to the reigning quacks. The minute it begins to out-whoop them it forfeits its character and becomes ridiculous. – H.L. Mencken

A newspaper consists of just the same number of words whether there be any news in it or not. — Henry Fielding

A newspaper is not for just reporting the news as it is, but to make people mad enough to do something about it — Mark Twain

If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you’re misinformed. – Ascribed to Mark Twain


You can’t hoot with the owls and then soar with the eagles — Hubert Humphrey

The long night’s journey into day — James Thurber


The English-speaking world may be divided into (1) those who neither know nor care what a split infinitive is; (2) those who do not know but care very much (3) those who know and condemn (4) those who know and approve (5) and those who know and distinguish. Those who neither know nor care are the vast majority and are a happy folk, to be envied by most of the minority classes — Francis George Fowler

Nixon, Richard

“Now here’s the point, Bob. Please get me the names of the Jews. You know, the big Jewish contributors to the Democrats. Could we please investigate some of the cocksuckers?” – Richard Nixon to Bob Haldeman

Look, we understood we couldn’t make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue for the Nixon White House that we couldn’t resist it – John Ehrlichman


Learn to say “No;” it will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin – Charles Haddon Spurgeon


Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she had laid an asteroid. – Mark Twain


Woe to him inside a nonconformist clique who doe not conform with nonconformity – Eric Hoffer


An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior. – Psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl, who lived through four concentration camps in World War II

Norton, Joshua

At the peremptory request of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the past nine years and ten months of San Francisco, California, declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U. S., and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall of this city, on the 1st day of February next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity. – Norton I, Emperor of the United States, September 17, 1859

The Public Officials having again notoriously betrayed the confidence and trust imposed in them by a trusting people; and having shamefully disregarded the public interest and the people’s welfare to feather their own nests; now, therefore, We, Norton I, Emperor of America and Protector of Mexico, do hereby order all such Officials to resign forthwith, and do declare their said offices vacant from the date hereof. – Joshua Norton I, “Dei Gratia” Emperor of the United States & Protector of Mexico, Fires All Public Officials, 1872



NOVEL – n. A short story padded. A species of composition bearing the same relation to literature that the panorama bears to art. As it is too long to be read at a sitting the impressions made by its successive parts are successively effaced, as in the panorama. Unity, totality of effect, is impossible; for besides the few pages last read all that is carried in mind is the mere plot of what has gone before. – Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary


No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No birds, – November!

– Thomas Hood, No!”


The success of any great moral enterprise does not depend upon numbers. – William Lloyd Garrison



It is not the baseness or homeliness, either of words or matters, that makes them foul and obscene, but their base minds, filthy conceits, or lewd intents that hand them – John Harrington, 1596


Over the obscure man is poured the merciful suffusion of darkness. None knows where he goes or comes. He may seek the truth and speak it; he alone is free; he alone is truthful; he alone is at peace – Virginia Woolf

Old age

Old age is not for sissies:– Bette Davis


Trotsky: “One can’t make an omlette without breaking eggs.”

Voline: “I see the broken eggs – now where’s this omlette of yours?”

[Voline was a Russian anarchist who would later be imprisoned by the Soviet regime]


Our names shouted in a certain dawn…
A message…
A summons…
There must have been a moment, at the beginning, when we could have said — no. But somehow we missed it. — Tom Stoppard

Confronted by insurmountable opportunities –Pogo


As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we must be most aware of change in the air — however slight — lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. — William O. Douglas

The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. — South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko


If he had been the captain of the Titanic he would have told the passengers they were just stopping to pick up some ice. — Eugene McCarthy of Harold Wilson

The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true – James Branch Cabell

The place where optimism most flourishes is the lunatic asylum – Havelock Ellis


Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois so you can be violent and original in your work. — Flaubert


Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. – A.A. Milne


At any given moment there is a sort of all-prevailing orthodoxy, a general tacit agreement not to discuss some large and uncomfortable fact. — George Orwell

Orwell, George

Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture. . . As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us. – Neil Postman comparing Brave New World and 1984


Paige, Satchel

1. If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify with cool thoughts.
2. Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.
3. Go very lightly on the vices such as carrying on in society. The social ramble ain’t restful. – Satchel Paige


I have always imagined that Paradise would be a kind of library – Jorge Luis Borges


A paranoid is a man who knows a little of what’s going on – William Burroughs

The issue is not whether you’re paranoid . . . The issue is whether you’re paranoid enough. – Max, in ‘Strange Days’


[A pardon] carries an imputation of guilt; acceptance a confession of it. — Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes


Schoolmasters and parents exist to be grown out of – John Wolfenden


Labor well the minute particulars: attend to the little ones . . . He who would do good to another must do it in minute particulars. General good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite, and flatterer; For art and science cannot exist but in minutely organized particulars. – William Blake


The past is never dead. It’s not even past. – William Faulkner

When we got into office, the thing that surprised me most was to find that things were just as bad as we’d been saying they were – John F. Kennedy

To understand the choices open to people of another time, one must limit oneself to what they knerw; see the past in its own clothes, as it were, not in ours. — Barbara Tuchman

Patchen, Kenneth

Let us have madness openly.
0 men Of my generation.
Let us follow
The footsteps of this slaughtered age:
See it trail across
Time’s dim land
Into the closed house of eternity
With the noise that dying has,
With the face that dead things wear – nor ever say
We wanted more; we looked to find
An open door, an utter deed of love,
Transforming day’s evil darkness; but
We found extended hell & fog
Upon the earth, & within the head
A rotting bog of lean huge graves.


You have to take the long view. First, when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, man has already progressed to the point where a commandment against cannibalism was no longer necessary. And, second, it’s like pissing on a boulder. For the first few thousand years, you don’t see any effect. But after that, you start to see a definite impact.” — I.F. Stone, when asked by fellow journalist John Neary how “he could stand shoveling the same shit year after year after year, covering the same poltroons explaining and miscreants committing the same miserable malfeasances.”


Patriotism at the expense of another nation is as wicked as racism at the expense of another race. . . Let us resolve to be patriots always, nationalists never. Let us love our country, but pledge allegiance to the earth and to the flora and fauna and human life that it supports – one planet indivisible, with clean air,… soil and water; with liberty, justice and peace for all. – William Sloane Coffin

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.~Mark Twain

Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others. – Emma Goldman

I would give something to know for whose sake precisely those deeds were really done which report says were done for the fatherland. — G.C. Lichtenberg, 1799

There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people. – Howard Zinn

In time of war the loudest patriots are the greatest profiteers. — August Babel 1870

My patriotism stops short of my stomach — Bismarck refusing a glass of German champagne

Patriotism is often an abitrary veneration of real estate above principles — George Nathan

Patriotism is the conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it — George B. Shaw

Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious –Oscar Wilde

Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons — Betrand Russell

The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders… All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism. –Hermann Goering

To me it seems a dreadful indignity to have a soul controlled by geography — George Santayanna

You’ll never have a quiet world until you knock the patriotism out of it. — George B. Shaw

In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, brave, hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot. — Mark Twain

Patriotism is a lively sense of collective responsibility. Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on its own dunghill – Richard Aldington

Our country – when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right – Senator Carl Schurz speaking against the annexation of Cuba, Phillipines, and Hawaii

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government – Edward Abbey


If we have not quiet in our minds, outward comfort will do no more for us than a golden slipper on a gouty foot. – John Bunyan

A peace is of the nature of a conquest,
For then both parties nobly are subdued,
And neither party loses – William Shakespeare

When I pray for peace, I pray not only that the enemies of my own country may cease to want war, but above all that my own country will cease to do the things that make war inevitable. – Thomas Merton

I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it – Dwight D. Eisenhower

If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends, you talk to your enemies – Moshe Dayan


It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others. – John Andrew Holmes


I’m gonna hunker down like a jack rabbit in a dust storm — Lyndon B. Johnson


Pessimists get only pleasant surprises – Nero Wolfe


Three-fourths of philosophy and literature is the talk of people trying to convince themselves that they really like the cage they were tricked into entering. – Gary Snyder


[Photographs] are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. – Diane Arbus


Moe: “When the roll is called up yonder I’ll eat pie.” Curly: “Pi r squared?” Moe: “No, pie are round; cake are square.” Curly: “Oh.” Moe: “No, O are round, also.”


Organic planning does not begin with a preconceived goal; it moves from need to need, from opportunity to opportunity, in a series of adaptations that themselves become increasingly coherent and purposeful, so that they generate a complex final design, hardly less unified than a pre-formed geometric pattern. – Louis Mumford


Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste they hurry past it. –Soren Kierkegaard


Poetry will exist as long as there is a problem of life and death – Ruben Dario

As I’ve often told Ginsberg, you can’t blame the President for the state of the country, it’s always the poets’ fault. You can’t expect politicians to come up with a vision, they don’t have it in them. Poets have to come up with the vision and they have to turn it on so it sparks and catches hold. – Ken Keysey

Out of the Game

The poet, get rid of him
He has nothing to do around here
He does not play the game
lacks enthusiasm
He does not make his message clear
does not even notice the miracles.
He spends the whole day thinking
always finds something to object to
That fellow, get rid of him
Remove the party pooper
the summer malcontent
who wears dark glasses in the new dawn
of time without history. . .

– Heberto Padilla, who on this day in 1971 was arrested by Castro and jailed for 37 days. The imprisonment of Padilla turned many intellectuals against Castro.


A poem is never finished, only abandoned – Paul Valery


Deck us all with Boston Charlie, Walla Walla, Wash, and Kalamazoo!
Nora’s freezin’ on the trolley, Swaller dollar cauliflower Alleygaroo!
Don’t we know archaic barrel, Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou.
Trolley Molly don’t love Harold, Boola Boola Pensacoola Hullabaloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly, Polly wolly cracker n too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol, Antelope cantaloup, “lope with you!
Hunky Dory’s pop is lolly gaggin’ on the wagon, Willy, folly go through!
Chollie’s collie barks at Barrow, Harum scarum five alarum bung-a-loo!

Duck us all in bowls of barley, Ninky dinky dink an’ polly voo!
Chilly Filly’s name is Chollie, Chollie Filly’s jolly chilly view halloo!
Bark us all bow-wows of folly, Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, Woof, Woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie! Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, Goof, Goof!


Cops is a race all their own — Easy Rawlins


Just remember, the toe you step on today may be connected to the ass you’re kissing tomorrow – Buddy Cianci

Politics is the entertainment division of the military industrial complex – Frank Zappa

Politicians were like talking dogs in a circus: the fact that they existed was uncommonly interesting, but no sane person would actually believe what they said. – Alan Furst, Dark Star

The real two-party system in America is the Meanies and the Weenies. The Meanies want to take away your benefits, and the Weenies want to compromise with them. – Former Rep, Alan Grayson

My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. I, for one, believe the piano player to be much more honorable than most current politicians. — Harry Truman

I wish they would pass a law where all Democrats and Republicans had to wear NASCAR racing suits, because if you look at the NASCAR drivers, it tells who their sponsors are. And if they do that, we could then become informed voters, because we would know who owns them. – Jesse Ventura

I suppose that every man who has looked on at the game has been struck by the remarkable way in which politics deteriorate the moral tone of everyone who mixes in them. The deterioration is far more marked than in any other occupation I know, except the turf, stock-jobbing , and gambling. I imagine the reasn in each case to be the same. It is the curse of politics that what one man gains, another man loses. On such conditions you can create not even an average morality. Politicians as a class must be as mean as card-sharpers, turf-men, or Wall Street curb-stone operators. There is no respectable induStry in existence which will not average a higher morality. – Henry Adams, in an 1881 letter to henry Cabor Lodge who had just lost election to the Massachusetts State Senate

It reminds me of a string of wet sponges. It reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup… It drags itself up out of a dark abyss of pish and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash. – HL Mencken on Warren Harding’s rhetorical style

Families, when a child is born
Want it to be intelligent.
I, through intelligence,
Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he will crown a tranquil life
By becoming a Cabinet Minister

— Su Tung-p’o

Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied – Otto von Bismarck

The members who composed it were, seven-eighths of them, the meanest kind of bawling and blowing office-holders, office-seekers, pimps, malignants, conspirators, murderers, fancy-men, custom-house clerks, contractors, kept-editors, spaniels well-train’d to carry and fetch, jobbers, infidels, disunionists, terrorists, mail-riflers, slave-catchers, pushers of slavery, creatures of the President, creatures of would-be Presidents, spies, bribers, compromisers, lobbyers, sponges, ruin’d sports, expell’d gamblers, policy-backers, monte-dealers, duellists, carriers of conceal’d weapons, deaf men, pimpled men, scarr’d inside with vile disease, gaudy outside with gold chains made from the people’s money and harlots’ money twisted together; crawling, serpentine men, the lousy combings and born freedom-sellers of the earth. And whence came they? From back-yards and bar-rooms; from out of the customhouses, marshals’ offices, post-offices, and gambling-hells; from the President’s house, the jail, the station-house; from unnamed by-places, where devilish disunion was hatch’d at midnight; from political hearses, and from the shrouds inside, and from the shrouds inside of the coffins; from the tumors and abscesses of the land; from the skeletons and skulls in the vaults of the federal almshouses; and from the running sores of the great cities. Such, I say, form’d, or absolutely control’d the forming of, the entire personnel, the atmosphere, nutriment and chyle, of our municipal, State, and National politics­substantially permeating, handling, deciding, and wielding everything ­ legislation, nominations, elections, “public sentiment,” etc.­while the great masses of the people, farmers, mechanics, and traders, were helpless in their gripe. . – Walt Whitman on the Democratic Party Convention.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed – and thus clamorous to be led to safety – by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. – H.L. Mencken

Give the people a choice between a Republican and a Democrat who talks like a Republican and they’ll choose the Republican every time. – Harry S. Truman

Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable – John Kenneth Galbraith

It makes no difference who you vote for – the two parties are really one party representing four percent of the people – Gore Vidal

In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant – Charles DeGaulle

Driving jobholders out of office is like the old discredited policy of driving prostitutes out of town. Their places are immediately taken by others who are precisely like them. – Albert Jay Nock

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. – George Orwell

You can judge the moral bearing of a political system, a political institution, a political man by the degree of danger they attach to the fact of being observed through the eyes of a satiric poet. – Roque Dalton

Political history is far too criminal and pathological to be a fit subject of study for the young. Children should acquire their heroes and villains from fiction. – W.H. Auden

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed – and thus clamorous to be led to safety – by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. – H.L. Mencken

How do you split sawdust? — Eugene McCarthy, when told that his 1968 candidacy would split the Democratic vote

Corrupted by wealth and power, your government is like a restaurant with only one dish. They’ve got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side. But no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen. – Huey Long

The politician who steals is worse than a thief. He is a fool. With all the grand opportunities around for the man with a political pull, there’s no excuse for stealin’ a cent. — George Washington Plunkett

Step One: We must do something
Step Two: This is something
Step Three: Therefore we must do it — Jonathan Lynn & Antony Jay in “Yes, Minister”

The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods. — HL Mencken

“It’s always best on these occasions to do what the mob do.” “But suppose there are two mobs?” suggested Mr. Snodgrass. “Shout with the largest,” replied Mr. Pickwick — Charles Dickens, ‘Pickwick Papers’

There are no true friends in politics. We are all sharks circling, and waiting, for traces of blood to appear in the water — British conservative Alan Clark

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.” — GK Chesterton.

We are meeting in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political and material ruin . . . . From the prolific womb of injustice we breed the two great classes — tramps and millionaires. — Populist Party platform, 1892

Politics is like being a football coach. You’ve got to be smart enough to play the game and dumb enough to think it is important — Eugene McCarthy

This is what separated us from you; we made demands. You were satisfied to serve the power of your nation and we dreamed of giving ours the truth — Albert Camus to a German friend after WW2.

“Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. — George Orwell, 1984

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to the long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink. In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemisms, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. — George Orwell

Hell, who ever has done anything for Culpepper? – Man in the crowd as Lyndon Johnson cried out from the rear platform of a train, “What has Richard Nixon ever done for Culpepper?

Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage — Ambrose Bierce, ‘The Devil’s Dictionary.’

Where I found a muddy lane, I left a broad highway; where I found a barren wate, I left a hospital; where I found a disease-breeding row of tenement houses, I left a health center…Throughout life, whereever I have found a thistle I endeavored to replace it with a rose — James Michael Curley

Politics is show business for ugly people — Paul Begala, Bill Clinton’s campaign strategist

Why must we always milk the public goat and never touch the sacred cow? — Mario Procaccino, Democratic candidate vs. John Lindsay for mayor of NYC, 1969

Limosine liberal — Mario Procaccino

We have it in our power to begin the world over again — Tom Paine, 1776

Earl Long once ran against Fred Preaus, a church deacon, head of the chamber of commerce and a scrupulously honest car dealer. Earl would combat these virtues with this: “Fred Preaus is an honest man. If I were buying a Ford car, I’d buy it from Fred Preaus. He would give me a good deal. If I had trouble with the car, he’d give me a loaner while he got it fixed — that’s just the kind of man he is. But if I was buying two Fords — well, he’s just not big enough to handle a deal that size.”

Hell, Vance, I didn’t want to be governor; I just wanted to be elected governor — Indiana Governor Richard Brannigan to Sen. Vance Hartke

[Politics] is not a public chore, to be got over with… It is the life of a domesticated political and social creature who is born with a love for public life, with a desire for honor, with a feeling for this fellows; and it lasts as long as need be — Plutarch

Don’t make no waves; don’t back no losers — Chicago political saying

I had a better year — Babe Ruth in 1930 explaining how he could justify getting a higher salary than the president.

I lied — Earl Long, asked to explain why he had raised taxes after promising in his campaign not to.

It used to be the custom in this country that when you had made a career and were mature in judgment, you went to the Senate to give something back t the Republic. The idea that at age 25 you go out and buy a blow dryer and starting running for office is not what the founders had in mind — Gore Vidal

All our political forms are exhausted and practically nonexistent. Our parliamentary and electoral system and our political parties are just as futile as dictatorships are intolerable. Nothing is left. And this nothing is increasingly aggressive, totalitarian, and omnipresent. Our experience today is the strange one of empty political institutions in which no one has any confidence any more, of a system of government which functions only in the interests of a political class, and at the same time of the almost infinite growth of power, authority, and social control which makes any one of our democracies a more authoritarian mechanism than the Napoleonic state. – Jacques Ellul, ‘Anarchie et Christianisme’

Look at the Lord’s disciples. One denied him, one doubted him, one betrayed him. If the Lord couldn’t have perfection, how are you going to have it in city government? — Chicago Mayor Daley answering charges of corruption in the 1967 campaign

“Corrupted by wealth & power, your government is like a restaurant with only one dish. They’ve got a set of Republican waiters on one side & a set of Democratic waiters on the other side. But no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen.” -Huey Long

Not a sparrow falls inside the boundaries of the 24th Ward without [Jake] Arvey knowing of it. And even before it hits the ground there’s already a personal history at headquarters, complete to the moments of it tumble — Chicago politician

That’s politics, put a man under obligation — Jake Arvey

Vote for Fred and Nobody Gets Hurt — Campaign slogan of Chicago 1st Ward alderman Fred Roti

Voters also were warned that [George Pepper] was a ‘shameless extrovert’ who, before his marriage ‘practiced celibacy.’ And these unsophisticates were told that Pepper practiced ‘nepotism with his sister-in-law’ and had a sister who was once a ‘thespian in wicked New York.’ — City Paper

We don’t want nobody nobody sent — Chicago politician to a job seeker

You all got only three friends in this world: The Lord God Almighty, the Sears Roebuck catalog and Eugene Talmadge. And you can only vote for one of them — Eugene Talmadge

Statesmen are not only liable to give an account of what they say or do in public, but there is a busy inquiry made into their very meals, beds, marriages, and every other sportive or serious action. — Plutarch

The only thing that would keep me from winning the election is to be caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy – Gov. Edwin Edwards, LA

For what is the program of the bourgeois parties? A bad poem on springtime, filled to bursting with metaphors. – Walter Benjamin

As soon as we´re born, we´re baptized into the Catholic Church, we´re sworn into the Democratic Party, and we´re given union cards. – The late Rep. Joseph Moakley of Massachusetts


When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a communist.” – Archbishop Helder Camara, Brazilian liberation theologist


Vatican One, for good or ill,
Declared the pope infallible.
Vatican Two, the recent sequel,
Made pope and bishops more coequal.
And that is why, betwixt you and me,
The pope isn’t calling Vatican Three.

But should there be a Vatican Three,
Each bishop with his wife will be.
And if there were a Vatican Four,
Each bishop would have her husband, or more.
Ecclesial power remaineth, Oremus!
With men who can claim, “Testiculi habemus!”
But millions of women think it ridiculi
To base empowerment on a pair of testiculi!

-Anonymous, quoted in a letter in Commonweal

Why should we take advice on sex from the Pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn’t – George Bernard Shaw


There’s a difference between populism and liberalism. Populism means listening to the people and hearing what they have to say. Liberalism says, “The people are idiots; let’s find out what the experts think.” — Jay Waljasper, Utne Reader

A mortgaged home, an empty stomach and a ragged back know no party. We will live to write the epitaphs of the old parties: “Died of general debility, old age, and chronic falsehoods.” – Mary Lease, People’s Party, 1892


The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book – Walt Whitman


Behold these idealists then, successful business men, professionals, property owners, money lenders, creeping into the social ranks they once despised, pitifully, contemptibly, at the skirts of some impecunious personage to whom they have lent money, or done some professional service gratis; behold them lying, cheating, tricking, flattering, buying and selling themselves for any frippery, any cheap little pretense. The dominant social idea has seized them, their lives are swallowed up in it; and when you ask the reason why, they tell you that circumstances compelled them so to do. If you quote their lies to them, they smile with calm complacency, assure you that when circumstances demand lies, lies are a great deal better than truth; that tricks are sometimes more effective than honest dealing; that flattering and duping do not matter, if the end to be obtained is so desirable; and that under existing “circumstances” life isn’t possible without all this; that it is going to be possible whenever circumstances have made truth-telling easier than lying, but till then a man must look out for himself, by all means. And so the cancer goes on rotting away the moral fibre, and the man becomes a lump, a squash, a piece of slippery slime, taking all shapes and losing all shapes, according to what particular hole or corner he wishes to glide into, a disgusting embodiment of the moral bankruptcy begotten by thing-worship.” — Voltairine de Cleyre


The white poor also suffer deprivation and the humiliation of poverty if not of color. They are chained by the weight of discrimination though its badge of degradation does not mark them. It corrupts their lives, frustrates their opportunities and withers their education. In one sense it is more evil for them because it has confused so many by prejudice that they have supported their own oppressors. — Martin Luther King Jr. in “Why We Can’t Wait.”

We in America are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of the land. We have not yet reached the goal, but, given a chance to go forward with the policies of the last eight years, we shall soon with the help of God be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from the nation — Herbert Hoover, 1928


As soon as you want something, they’ve got you — IF Stone

Nearly any man can stand adversity, but if you want to test his charactrer, give him power. – Lincoln

If we took the one hundred most powerful men in America, the one hundred wealthiest, and the one hundred most celebrated away from the institutional positions they now occupy, away from their resources of men and women and money, away from the media of mass communication . . . then they would be powerless and poor and uncelebrated. For power is not of a man. Wealth does not center in the person of the wealthy. Celebrity is not inherent in any personality. To be celebrated, to be wealthy, to have power, requires access to major institutions, for the institutional positions men occupy determine in large part their chances to have and to hold these valued experiences. – C. Wright Mills


When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. – J. Christ


The Bible’s the greatest book ever written. But I sure don’t need anybody I can buy for six bits and a chew of tobacco to explain it to me. — Huey Long


I never make predictions, especially about the future – Yogi Berra


If you’re seeking progress, all presidents are the opposition. You’re just fighting different kinds of battles — Sam Smith

After the White House what is there to do but drink? — Franklin Pierce

Presidential debates

The mortician interviewing the corpses – Eugene McCarthy


The press is the hired agent of a monied system, set up for no other reason than to tell lies where the interests are concerned. – Henry Adams

I take a grave view of the press. It is the weak slat under the bed of democracy. – AJ Liebling

People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news. – AJ Liebling

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. – AJ Liebling

The first duty of the press is to obtain the earliest and most correct intelligence of the events of the time, and instantly, by disclosing them, to make them the common property of the nation. The statesman collects his information secretly and by secret means; he keeps back even the current intelligence of the day with ludicrous precautions The Press lives by disclosures For us, with whom publicity and truth are the air and light of existence, there can be no greater disgrace than to recoil from the frank and accurate disclosure of facts as they are. – Robert Lowe, editorial, London Times, 1851.


If you will think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself. Character is a by-product and any man who devotes himself to its cultivation in his own case will become a selfish prig– Woodrow Wilson


It’s easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them – Alfred Adler

I live by my principles and one of my principles is flexibility – Senator Everett Dirksen

Those are my principles. If you don’t like them I have others. – Groucho Marx

I have a higher and greater standard of principle [than George Washington]. Washington could not lie. I can lie but I won’t.” – Mark Twain


The only thing that prisons demonstrably cure is heterosexuality. – Travis McGee in The Long Lavender Look


The problems we face today cannot be solved by the minds that created them — Albert Einstein

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it. — Mark Twain


I acted very unprofessionally this morning, — Fat Tony Salerno apologizing to federal prosecutor Rudolph Guiliani for having told one of his henchmen to “waste” the judge presiding over his trial


Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long – Ogden Nash

The entire history of social improvement has been series of transitions, by which one custom or instituion after another, from being a supposed primary necessity of social existence, has passed into the rank of a universally stigmatized injusutice and tyranny. So it has been with the distinctions of slaves and freemen, nobles and serfs, patricians and plebeians, and so it will be, and in part already is, with the aristocracies of colour, race and sex — JS Mill, Utilitarianism

Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision. — GK Chesterton


In America, everything is permitted that is not prohibited. In Germany everything is prohibited that is not permitted. In France everything is permitted even though prohibited. And in the Soviet Union everything is prohibited even though permitted. — Anonymous

Five years of Prohibition have had, at least, this one benign effect: they have completely disposed of all the favourite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished. – HL Mencken, 1924


Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our lives whether in the sphere of politics or business in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.” – Edward L. Bernays, the father of American propaganda

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses [constitutes] an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our government.” — Edward Bernays in ‘Propaganda,’ 1928

The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt . . . To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. – George Orwell, 1984


Grievances cannot be redressed until they are known; and they cannot be known but through complaints and petitions. If these are deemed affronts, and the messengers punished as offenders, who will henceforth send petitions? And who will deliver them? Wise governments encouraged the airing of grievances, even those that were lightly founded Foolish governments did the opposite – to their peril. Where complaining is a crime, hope becomes despair. – Benjamin Franklin


A proverb is a short sentence based on long experience – Miguel de Cervantes


Why do psychics have to ask you for your name? – Steven Wright


Psychoanalysis is confession without absolution – GK Chesterton


What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself. – Abraham Lincoln

Public opinion

One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny. – Bertrand Russell


We write as we please and the magazine publishes as it please. When the two pleasures coincide, something gets into print. — EB White about writing for the New Yorker


[A professor whose speciality is punctuation] queried twelve of fifteen commas in twelve or fifteen different New Yorker pieces, finding them “unnecessary and disturbing.” From one casual of mine he picked this sentence. ‘After dinner, the men moved into the living room.’ I explained to the professor that this was [editor Harold] Ross’s way of giving the men time to push back their chairs and stand up. There must, as we know, be a comma after every move, made by men, on this earth. — James Thurber


Puritanism: the haunting fear that somebody, somewhere, might be having a good time.- H.L. Mencken

See contradictory positions


If you purify the pond, the lilies die — William Stafford

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