Quotes I-L


To die for an idea is to set a rather high price on conjecture – Anatole France

If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. – Thomas Jefferson

[Charles Hodge, who taught at Princeton Seminary in the early 19th century] boasted that in his fifty years of teaching he had never broached a new or original idea — Perry Miller

All ideas are beyond them. They can only grasp events — HL Mencken

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all. – Edward de Bono


Asked by a young state legislator whether he thought ideals had any place in politics, Louisiana Governor Earl Long replied, “Hell yes. I think you should use ideals or any other damn thing you can get your hands on.”


Don’t even ignore them — Sam Goldwyn


Captain MacWhirr of the freighter Nan Shan, which he headed straight into a typhoon, had “just enough imagination to carry him through each successive day.” — Joseph Conrad in Typhoon

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. – Albert Einstein


Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian. – Robert Orben


I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it by not dying – Woody Allen

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons – James Thurber


The word “impossible” is not in my dictionary. In fact, everything between “herring” and “marmalade” appears to be missing. – Dirk Gently, “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”


You have to practice improvisation – Art Tatum


The white man knows how to make everything, but he does not know how to distribute it. – Sitting Bull

We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women, and children. Nothing less will reach the root of the case. — General William Tecumseh Sherman in a dispatch to President Grant


I’d rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than to be crowded on a velvet stool. — Henry Thoreau

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. — Ralph W. Emerson

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. – Henry Thoreau


I don’t know, I don’t care, and it doesn’t make any difference — Jack Kerouac


Each person behaves as though he is a stranger to the destiny of all the others. . . As for his transactions with his follow citizens, he may mix among them, but does not feel them; he exist only in himself and for himself alone. And if on these terms there remains in his mind a sense of family, there no longer remains a sense of society.” — Alexi de Tocqueville in Democracy in America.


Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission. – Eleanor Roosevelt


Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former – Albert Einstein


Quite honestly, Minister, I want a job where I don’t spend endless hours circulating information which isn’t relevant about subjects that don’t matter to people who aren’t interested — Sir Humphrey Appleby in ‘The Complete Yes, Minister’

Information wants to be free – Jonathan Postel


Experience, which destroys innocence, also leads one back to it – James Baldwin


Innovation is hard to schedule. — Dan Fylstra


They have a habit of looking at you and conveying unfathomable depths of insincerity — Patricia Strauss of Labor politicians in the 1940s


You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club – Jack London


A $400 suit on him would look like socks on a rooster — Louisiana Governor Earl Long of an opponent


Bloodless intellectuals who sit just at the edge of the lamplight and dissect everything in dry little voices. — Raymond Chandler

The political calling of the intellectual [is in] the unmasking of lies which sustain irresponsible power – C. Wright Mills


[He] has the gift on compressing the largest amount of words into the smallest amount of thoughts – Winston Churchill

The intelligent man who is proud of his intelligence is like the condemned man who is proud of his cell. – Simone Weil

Who would give the exam? — Harvard professor George Lyman Kittredge explaining why he had never obtained a Ph.D.

Intelligence appears to be the thing that enables a man to get along without education. Education appears to be the thing that enables a man to get along without the use of his intelligence – A. E. Wiggen


The problem with quotes on the Internet is that you can’t always be sure of their authenticity. — Abraham Lincoln

The Internet interprets the US Congress as system damage and routes around it – Jeanne DeVoto

Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant. – Mitchell Kapor

Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach that person to use the Internet and they won’t bother you for weeks – Anonymous

While you are destroying your mind watching the worthless, brain-rotting drivel on TV, we on the Internet are exchanging, freely and openly, the most uninhibited, intimate and, yes, shocking details about our “CONFIG.SYS” settings. – Dave Barry

There’s a statistical theory that if you gave a million monkeys typewriters and set them to work, they’d eventually come up with the complete works of Shakespeare. Thanks to the Internet, we now know this isn’t true. – Ian Hart

It’s important for us to explain to our nation that life is important. It’s not only life of babies, but it’s life of children living in, you know, the dark dungeons of the Internet. – George W. Bush

The largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had. – Eric Schmidt

Hooked on Internet? Help Is a Just a Click Away – Unknown


Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art – Susan Sontag


In the 18th century we were incomparably the most inventive people in the world — not just the western world — in the realm of politics and society. We invented practically every major political institution we have, and we have invented none since. — Henry Steel Commanger


Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end – Henry Thoreau

An inventor is simply a fellow who doesn’t take his education too seriously. – Charles F. Kettering


I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people. – Sir Isaac Newton in 1721 after he lost his life savings during the South Sea Bubble crash


“Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators. Your wealth has been stripped of you by unjust men … The people of Baghdad shall flourish under institutions which are in consonance with their sacred laws.” – General F S Maude, commander of British forces in Iraq, 1917

We ~ are no petty people. we are one of the great stocks of Europe. We are the people of Burke; we are the people of Swift, the people of Emmet, the people of Parnell. We have created most of themodern literature of this contry. We have created the bet of its political intelligence. — WB Yeats on the Anglo-Irish during a debate on divorce in the Irish Senate, 1925


There are only three isms I’m against: fascism, communism and snake-oilism — Earl Long


Issues aren’t real. Issues are just masses of opposing scenarios vying to become perceptions. — Mark Alan Stamaty


Jacobs, Jane

A culture is unsalvageable if stabilizing forces themselves become ruined and irrelevant. . . The collapse of one sustaining cultural institution enfeebles others, makes it more likely that others will give way . . . until finally the whole enfeebled, intractable contraption collapses.

Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.


Jesus’ life didn’t go well. He didn’t reach his earning potential. He didn’t have the respect of his colleagues. His friends weren’t loyal. His life wasn’t long. He didn’t meet his soul mate. And he wasn’t understood by his mother. Yet I think I deserve all those things because I’m so spiritual. — Hugh Prather, “Spiritual Notes to Myself”

Johnson, Lyndon

I don’t want loyalty. I want loyalty. I want him to kiss my ass in Macy’s window at high noon and tell me it smells like roses. I want his pecker in my pocket. — LBJ speaking of a prospective assistant

So dumb he can’t fart and chew gum at the same time. — LBJ on Gerald Ford. It was later said that Betty Ford’s birth control device was to give Jerry some chewing gum.

Did you ever think that making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg? It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else. — LBJ to John Kenneth Galbraith


Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations. – George Orwell

Arrived Venice. Streets filled with water. Please advise – Robert Benchley cable to New Yorker editor Harold Ross upon reaching his assignment.

The most esteemed journalists are precisely the most servile. For it is by making themselves useful to the powerful that they gain access to the ‘best’ sources. — Walter Karp

So weird to go into journalism to completely obsess on the horse race of who might get power and be totally indifferent to what they do with it – Glenn Greenwald

A lie isn’t a side of a story. It’s just a lie – Homeless man complaining to two Baltimore Sun staffers in the epic “The Wire,”

To be a newspaper reporter, you need two things: You need to know how to type. And you need a job at a newspaper. – John Doyle, news editor of the Green Bay Chronicle

As a method of sending a missile to the higher, and even to the highest parts of the earth’s atmospheric envelope, Professor Goddard’s rocket is a practicable and therefore promising device. It is when one considers the multiple-charge rocket as a traveler to the moon that one begins to doubt . . . for after the rocket quits our air and really starts on its journey, its flight would be neither accelerated nor maintained by the explosion of the charges it then might have left. Professor Goddard, with his “chair” in Clark College and countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action to re-action, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react . . . Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools. – New York Times editorial, 1920

JOURNALIST – A rat-like cunning, a plausible manner, and a little literary ability. The capacity to steal other peoples’ ideas and phrases is also invaluable – HL Mencken

We were perceived as a lower form of life, amoral, half-literate hacks in cheap suits. Thus I was assigned to a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Nashville in the late 1940s and, with other reporters, was given lunch at a card table set up in a hallway to protect the dining room from contamination. — Richard Harwood

If you’re not careful the media will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. — Malcolm X

Journalism consists largely in saying “Lord Jones died” to people who never knew that Lord Jones was alive. — G. K. Chesterton

A profession whose business is to explain to others what it really does not understand — Lord Northcliffe

Journalism consists in buying white paper at two cents a pound and selling it at ten cents a pound — Charles A. Dana

If you don’t want to work, become a reporter. That awful power, the public opinion of the nation, was created by a horde of self-complacent simpletons who failed at ditch and shoemaking and fetched up journalism on their way to poorhouse – Mark Twain

Newspapers are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization — G B Shaw

“The average newspaper, especially of the better sort, has the intelligence of a hillbilly evangelist, the courage of a rat, the fairness of a prohibitionist boob-jumper, the information of a high school janitor, the taste of a designer of celluloid valentines, and the honor of a police-station lawyer.” — HL Mencken

Paul (Race Horse) Mitchell, 57, of one address right after another, died on the street here yesterday, unexpectedly, and after a long illness, but mostly from two bullet wounds in his chest… The grief, if it may be allowed to pass for that, was dry-eyed enough but it had those overtones of sincerity which lend a definite, if indefinable, dignity to the human spirit on such occasions. This is to say that only one man was really glad the rascal was dead — and the police were looking for him. — Harry Gabbett, Washington Post, 1968

Remember this: many a good story has been ruined by over-verification — James Gordon Bennett

You cannot hope to bribe or twist/Thank God the British journalist/ But seeing what the man will do/ Unbribed, there is no occasion to — Humbert Wolfe

A journalist is a man who has missed his calling — Bismarck

Drunkards, deadbeats and bummers — Harvard president Charles Eliot’s description of reporters in rejecting Joseph Pulitzer’s offer to endow a journalism school.

Trying to be a first-rate reporter on the average American newspaper is like trying to play Bach’s St. Matthew Passion on a ukulele – Ben Bagdikian

Once you want something from them, they’ve got you – IF Stone on official sources

ASSISTANT EDITOR: A mouse learning to be a rat – Unknown


It has been said that a judge is a member of the bar who once knew a governor — Judge Curtis Bok

It is not only the juror’s right, but his duty to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment and conscience, though in direct opposition to the instruction of the court. – John Adams


Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment – Will Rogers


JURY: A group of 12 people, who, having lied to the judge about their health, hearing, and business engagements, have failed to fool him. – HL Mencken

“It is not only [the juror’s] right, but his duty, to find the verdict according to his own understanding, judgement, and conscience, through in direct opposition to the direction of the court.” — John Adams, 1771

I consider the trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution. – Thomas Jefferson.


We have 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the people in prison. Either we’e the most evil people on earth, or we’re doing something wrong — Senator James Webb

Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, not between classes, nor between political parties — but right through every human heart — and all human hearts.” — Alexander Sozhenitzyn


Kelly, Walt

There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve, then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving & tiny blasts of tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.


Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough. -Franklin D. Roosevelt

King, Martin Luther

From an address by Martin Luther King Jr., April 4, 1967: It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism. . .

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act.

I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. – “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”, 1963

One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” . . . A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.


It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts — Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver

If I don’t know I don’t know, I think I know. If I don’t know I know, I think I don’t know. – R.D. Laing



What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures. – Samuel Gompers

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital; that, in fact, capital is the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration. – Abraham Lincoln

Instantly, the noise stopped. The whole room lay in perfect silence. The tire builders stood in long lines, touching each other, perfectly motionless, deafened by the silence. A moment ago there had been the weaving hands, the revolving wheels, the clanking belt, the moving hooks, the flashing tire tools. Now there was absolute stillness, no motion anywhere, no sound. Out of the terrifying quiet came the wondering voice of a big tire builder near the windows: “Jesus Christ, it’s like the end of the world.” He broke the spell, the magic moment of stillness. For now his awed words said the same thing to every man, “We done it!’ We stopped the belt! By God, we done it!”‘ And men began to cheer hysterically, to shout and howl in the fresh silence. Men wrapped long sinewy arms around their neighbors’ shoulders, screaming, “We done it! We done it!” For the first time in history, American mass-production workers had stopped a conveyor belt and halted the inexorable movement of factory machinery. – Ruth McKenney, ‘Industrial Valley’

I can hire half the working class to kill the other half. — Jay Gould

If the workers of the world want to win, all they have to do is recognize their own solidarity. They have nothing to do but fold their arms and the world will stop. The workers are more powerful with their hands in their pockets than all the property of the capitalists. As long as the workers keep their hands in their pockets, the capitalists cannot put theirs there. With passive resistance, with the workers absolutely refusing to move, lying absolutely silent, they are more powerful than all the weapons and instruments that the other side has for attack.” – Early 20th century labor organizer Joe Ettor

What does labor want?
We want more school houses and less jails,
More books and less arsenals,
More learning and less vice,
More constant work and less crime,
More leisure and less greed,
More justice and less revenge – Samuel Gompers, 1893

The rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for, not by the labor agitators, but by the Christian men to whom God in his infinite wisdom has given control of the property interests of the country – George F Baer, spokesman for the mine operators in the 1902 Pennsylvania coal strike.


We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. – Aldo Leopold


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

[I’ll] discuss these issues in plain English, the language my mother spoke, the language the Holy Bible was wrote in — Congressman Guffaw, a creation of John Henry Faulk

If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything. — Confucius

Last judgment

I shall tell you a great secret, my friend. Do not wait for the last judgment, it takes place every day – Albert Camus

Last words

Either that wallpaper goes or I do — The supposed last words of Oscar Wilde

“I must begin Sanskrit tomorrow.” — Last recorded words of Herbert Coleridge, 31, the first editor of what would become the Oxford English Dictionary. Coleridge, who was working on the letter A at the time, contracted a fatal chill following a walk in the rain to an unheated meeting of the Philological Society.

WE PROBABLY COULD HAVE SAVED OURSELVES, BUT WERE TOO DAMNED LAZY TO TRY VERY HARD — Kurt Vonnegut’s suggested last words of humans to be carved perhaps on the Grand Canyon for “flying-saucer creatures or angels or whatever.”

“Don’t let it end this way. Tell them I said something.” – Pancho Villa

“Is it the fourth?” Thomas Jefferson on July 4, 1826

“Hold me up; I want to shit.” – Walt Whitman

“Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub” – Conrad Hilton

“I am about to – or I am going to – die; either expression is used.” – French grammarian Dominique Bouhours

Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence: “I killed two people. One was yesterday. He was just a boy, and I led him into quicksand. The other was . . . well . . . before Aqaba. I had to execute him with my pistol, and there was something about it that I didn’t like.”
General Allenby: “That’s to be expected.”
Lawrence: “No, something else.”
General Allenby: “Well, then let it be a lesson.”
Lawrence: “No . . . something else.”
General Allenby: “What then?”
Lawrence: “I enjoyed it.” 

Law enforcement

While I recommend in the strongest terms to the respective officers, activity, vigilance and firmness, I feel no less solicitude that their deportment may be marked with prudence, moderation and good temper. ~ They will bear in mind that their countrymen are freemen, and as such are impatient of everything that bears the least mark of domineering spirit.

They will, therefore refrain, with the most guarded circumspection, from whatever has the semblance of haughtiness, rudeness or insult. If obstacles occur, they will remember that they are under the particular protection of the laws and they can meet with nothing disagreeable in the execution of their duty which these will not severely reprehend. . .

This reflection, and regard to the good of the service, will prevent at all times a spirit of irritation or resentment. They will endeavor to overcome difficulties, if any are experienced, by a cool and temperate perseverance in their duty – by address and moderation rather than by vehemence and violence. – From Alexander Hamilton’s instructions to the first officers of the Revenue Marine, forerunner of the US Coast Guard


I know only one thing for sure: If you want to make crime pay go to law school. – Whitey Bulger

The large print giveth and the small print taketh away – Tom Waits

The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws. – Tacitus

All laws not based on wisdom are a danger to the state – Inscription on appellate court building of the state of New York

Scarcely any political question arises in the United States that is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question. Hence all parties are obliged to borrow, in their daily controversies, the ideas, and even the language, peculiar to judicial proceedings. As most public men are or have been legal practitioners, they introduce the customs and technicalities of their profession into the management of public affairs. The jury extends this habit to all classes. The language of the law thus becomes, in some measure, a vulgar tongue; the spirit of the law, which is produced in the schools and courts of justice, gradually penetrates beyond their walls into the bosom of society, where it descends to the lowest classes, so that at last the whole people contract the habits and the tastes of the judicial magistrate. The lawyers of the United States form a party which is but little feared and scarcely perceived, which has no badge peculiar to itself, which adapts itself with great flexibility to the exigencies of the time and accommodates itself without resistance to all the movements of the social body. But this party extends over the whole community and penetrates into all the classes which compose it; it acts upon the country imperceptibly, but finally fashions it to suit its own purposes.” – Tocqueville

“Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.” — Jonathan Swift.

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread — Anatole France

Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of government. —Pierre Joseph Proudhon

The whole drift of our law is toward the absolute prohibition of all ideas that diverge in the slightest form from the accepted platitudes, and behind that drift of law there is a far more potent force of growing custom, and under that custom there is a natural philosophy which erects conformity into the noblest of virtues and the free functioning of personality into a capital crime against society. – H. L. Mencken

Law and order

The streets of our country are in turmoil. The universities are full of students rebelling and rioting. Communists are seeking to destroy our country. Russia is threatening us with her might and the Republic is in danger. Yes, danger from within and without. We need law and order. Without law and order our nation cannot survive. Elect us and we shall restore law and order — Adolph Hitler, 1932

Cops is a race all their own — Easy Rawlins


A machine you go into as a pig and come out as a sausage — Ambrose Bierce


99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name. – Steven Wright

LAWYER – One skilled in the circumvention of the law – Ambrose Bierce

[Lawyers] protect us from robbery by taking away the temptation — H L Mencken

There was a trial lawyer in Texas who stole from the rich and gave approximately half to the poor. — Jim Hightower

All the extravagance and incompetence of our present government is due, in the main, to lawyers, and in part at least, to good ones. They are responsible for nine-tenths of the useless and vicious laws that now clutter the statute-books, and for all the evils that go with the vain attempt to enforce them. Every federal judge is a lawyer. So are most congressmen. Every invasion of the plain rights of the citizen has a lawyer behind it. If all lawyers were hanged tomorrow, and their bones sold to a mah jong factory, we’d all be freer and safer, and our taxes would be reduced by almost a half — H. L. Mencken


The problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you’re finished. – Ben Franklin

Jehovah the bearded and angry god, gave his worshipers the supreme example of ideal laziness; after six days of work, he rests for all eternity. – Paul LaFargue, The Right to be Lazy & Other Studies, 1907


Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent. Selected from the rest of mankind, their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed in the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions. – Thomas Paine

The way you herd cattle is you lead them from behind. You find the most able and smartest cattle and have them lead the way. You empower them.’ He said that’s a good lesson for all of us. You basically have to kind of share the wealth. You have to find people who can execute your vision and ideas. I think that’s relevant not only in politics, but again even within families. – Nelson Mandela

He was the sort of Tigger who was always in front when you were showing him the way anywhere, and was generally out of sight when at last you came to the place and said proudly, ‘Here we are.’ — A. A. Milne

One time Myles Horton was invited to give a talk on leadership and he showed up in town and he couldn’t remember where he was supposed to go. He lost a piece of paper. So he walked up to the main part of town and saw a bunch of people going into a hall. So he followed them and went in there and saw his name on the reader board. Everybody sat down and he sat down. When they were all sat down he got up and walked to the front on the stage and said, ‘Leadership…is finding a bunch of people who look like they know where they’re going, and following them…and when they’re all sitting down…stand up and talk to them about leadership.'” – Utah Phillips

Wikipedia – Myles Falls Horton was an American educator, socialist and cofounder of the Highlander Folk School, famous for its role in the civil rights movement

Too long have the workers of the world waited for some Moses to lead them out of bondage. He has not come; he never will come. I would not lead you out if I could for if you could be led out, you could be led back again. — Eugene V. Debs

Strong leaders make for a weak people; strong people do not need a strong leader. — Mexican revolutionary in ‘Viva Zapata.’

Of the best rulers, the people only know that they exist;
The next best they love and praise;
The next they fear;
And the next they revile . . .
But of the best when their task is accomplished, their work done,
The people all remark, “We have done it ourselves.” — Lao-tzu


We must admit that today conformity is on the left. To be sure, the right is not brilliant. But the left is in complete decadence, a prisoner of words, caught in its own vocabulary, capable merely of stereotyped replies, constantly at a loss when faced with the truth, from which it nevertheless claimed to derive its laws. The left is schizophrenic and needs doctoring through pitiless self-criticism, exercise of the heart, close reasoning, and a little modesty. Until such an effort at re-examination is well under way, any rallying will be useless and even harmful. Meanwhile, the intellectual’s role will be to say that the king is naked when he is, and not to go into raptures over his imaginary trappings. — Albert Camus, 1957


Legend: a lie that has attained the dignity of age. – H.L. Mencken

Lehrer, Tom

An awful debility,
A lessened utility,
A loss of mobility
Is a strong possibility.

In all probability
I’ll lose my virility
And you your fertility
And desirability,

And this liability
Of total sterility
Will lead to hostility
And a sense of futility,

So let’s act with agility
While we still have facility,
For we’ll soon reach senility
And lose the ability …

Tom Lehrer

When someone makes a move
Of which we don’t approve,
Who is it that always intervenes?
U.N. and O.A.S.,
They have their place, I guess,
But first send the Marines!. . .

For might makes right,
And till they’ve seen the light,
They’ve got to be protected,
All their rights respected,
‘Till somebody we like can be elected.

Members of the corps
All hate the thought of war,
They’d rather kill them off by peaceful means.
Stop calling it aggression,
O we hate that expression.
We only want the world to know
That we support the status quo.
They love us everywhere we go,
So when in doubt,
Send the Marines!

– Tom Lehrer

Lennon, John

Your Majesty, I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against “Cold Turkey” slipping down the charts. With love – John Lennon of Bag., November 25, 1969


Someone who won’t take his own side of an argument – Robert Frost

The liberals can understand everything but people who don’t understand them – Lennie Bruce


Liberals don’t have ideas anymore, only icons; ideology has been replaced by iconography –Josiah Swampoodle


Twenty million young women rose to their feet with the cry ‘We will not be dictated to; and proceeded to become stenographers. — G K Chesterton


Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it. – Judge Learned Hand,

The liberties of the country are a deposit, a trust, in the hands of individuals; they are an entailed estate, which the possessors have no right to dispose of; they belong to our children, and to them we are bound to transmit them as a representative body. – Thomas Treadwell at the New York constitutional convention, 1788

Liberty is the only thing you cannot have unless you are willing to give it to others. — William Allen White

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsel or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands of those who feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you. May posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. – Samuel Adams

“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right. .. and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the characters and conduct of their rulers.” — John Adams

The saddest epitaph which can be carved in the memory of a vanished liberty is that it was lost because its possessors failed to stretch forth a saving hand while yet there was time. – Thomas Jefferson

We come to give you liberty and equality. But don’t lose your heads about it. The first person who stirs without my permission will be shot — Marshal Pierre F.J. Lefebvre, 1807

The establishment of civil and religious liberty was the motive which induced me to the field; the object is attained, and it now remains to be my earnest wish and prayer that the citizens of the United States would make a wise and virtuous use of the blessings placed before them — George Washington 1783

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin

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

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything seems 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 — Justice William O. Douglas

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual. -Thomas Jefferson


In history, stagnant waters, whether they be the stagnant waters of custom or those of despotism, harbor no life; life is dependent on the ripples created by a few eccentric individuals. In homage to that life and vitality, the community has to brave certain perils and must countenance a measure of heresy. One must live dangerously if one wants to live at all. – Herbert Read

Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is 100% – R.D. Laing

All of life is a foreign country. – Jack Kerouac

Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it depends on what you put in. – Tom Lehrer

Knock hard. Life is deaf – Mimi Parent

Life is not being dealt a good hand but playing a poor hand well — Robert Lewis Stevenson

We are here on earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I don’t know — WH Auden

A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it. — GK Chesterton.

Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching. — Satchel Paige

We must learn to love life without ever trusting it – GK Chesterton

Sweetie, if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up space. – Progressive lawyer Flo Kennedy

I long ago came to the conclusion that all life is six to five against – Damon Runyan

I have seen quite a few things in my time. I don’t recall that a single one of them seemed reasonable – Paavo Haavikko, Finnish poet and author

Light Brigade

Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Their’s not to make reply,
Their’s not to reason why,
Their’s but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred

– Alfred, Lord Tennyson, cited in a recent speech by Senator Robert Byrd

Liston, Sonny

Sonny Liston has a lot of good points. It’s his bad points that aren’t so good – Sonny Liston’s manager


My main reason for adopting literature as a profession was that, as the author is never seen by his clients, he need not dress respectably. – George Bernard Shaw

Long, Earl

Don’t write anything you can phone. Don’t phone anything you can talk. Don’t talk anything you can whisper. Don’t whisper anything you can smile. Don’t smile anything you can nod. Don’t nod anything you can wink – Governor Earl Long of Louisiana

I’m for the po’ folk, I’m for the middlin’ folk, and I’m for the rich folk, if they behave themselves.

I’m not against anybody for reasons of race, creed, or any ism he might believe in except nuttism, skingameism or communism.

I can make them voting machines sing Home Sweet Home.

If you ever want to hide something from (Louisiana attorney general) Jack Gremillion, put it in a law book.

One of these day the people of Louisiana are gonna get good government–and they ain’t gonna like it!

The kind of thing I’m good at is knowing every politician in the state and remembering where he itches. And I know where to scratch him. Earl Long

Hell yes, I think you should use ideals or any other goddamn thing you can get your hands on – When asked by a young state legislator whether ideals had any role in politics

See Louisiana


Not all those who wander are lost. – J.R.R. Tolkein


Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
And miss it each night and day
I know I’m not wrong… this feeling’s gettin’ stronger
The longer, I stay away

Miss them moss covered vines…the tall sugar pines
Where mockin’ birds used to sing
And I’d like to see that lazy Mississippi…hurryin’ into spring

The moonlight on the bayou…….a Creole tune…. that fills the air
I dream… about Magnolias in bloom….and I’m wishin’ I was there

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
When that’s where you left your heart
And there’s one thing more…I miss the one I care for
More than I miss New Orleans

There’s a difference between the blues of the New Orleans guys and anyone else and the difference is in a chord, but I can’t figure the name of it. It’s a different chord, and they all make it. – Jimmy Rushing

New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin – Mark Twain

I went down to St. James Infirmary To see my baby there, She was lyin’ on a long white table, So sweet, so cool, so fair.

Went up to see the doctor, “She’s very low,” he said; Went back to see my baby Good God! She’s lying there dead.

I went down to old Joe’s barroom, On the corner by the square They were serving the drinks as usual, And the usual crowd was there.

On my left stood old Joe McKennedy, And his eyes were bloodshot red; He turned to the crowd around him, These are the words he said:

Let her go, let her go, God bless her; Wherever she may be She may search the wide world over And never find a better man than me

Oh, when I die, please bury me In my ten dollar Stetson hat; Put a twenty-dollar gold piece on my watch chain So my friends’ll know I died standin’ pat.

Get six gamblers to carry my coffin Six chorus girls to sing me a song Put a twenty-piece jazz band on my tail gate To raise Hell as we go along

Now that’s the end of my story Let’s have another round of booze And if anyone should ask you just tell them I’ve got the St. James Infirmary blues

The people cannot have wells, and so they take rain-water. Neither can they conveniently have cellars or graves, the town being built upon “made ground;” so they do without both, and few of the living complain, and none of the others. – Mark Twain

Carnival is a butterfly of winter whose last real flight of Mardi Gras forever ends his glory. Another season is the season of another butterfly, and the tattered, scattered, fragments of rainbow wings are in turn the record of his day. – Perry Young

It’s a funny thing how life can be such a drag one minute and a solid sender the next. The day I got out of jail Mardi Gras was being celebrated. It is a great day for all of New Orleans, and particularly for the Zulu Aid Pleasure and Social Club. . . When I ran into this celebration and the good music I forgot all about Sore Dick [the prison yard captain] and the Parish Prison – Louis Armstrong

Don’t write anything you can phone. Don’t phone anything you can talk. Don’t talk anything you can whisper. Don’t whisper anything you can smile. Don’t smile anything you can nod. Don’t nod anything you can wink. – Earl Long

People say I steal. Well, all politicians steal. I steal. But a lot of what I stole has spilled over in no-toll bridges, hospitals . . . and to build this university. – Huey Long

The river rose all day
The river rose all night
Some people got lost in the flood
Some people got away alright
The river have busted through clear down to Plaquemines
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re tyrin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away

President Coolidge came down in a railroad train
With a little fat man with a note-pad in his hand
The President say, “Little fat man isn’t it a shame what the river has done
To this poor crackers land.” – Louisiana, 1927

TYLER BRIDGES, BAD BET ON THE BAYOU – Over the past thirty years, Louisiana has seen a parade of elected officials convicted of crimes. The list includes a governor, an attorney general, an elections commissioner, an agriculture commissioner, three successive insurance commissioners, a congressman, a federal judge, a State Senate president, six other state legislators, and a host of appointed officials, local sheriffs, city councilmen, and parish police jurors (who are the equivalent of county commissioners). Of the eight men and women elected to statewide office in 1991, three — Governor Edwin Edwards, elections commissioner Jerry Fowler, and insurance commissioner Jim Brown — were later convicted of crimes. The FBI said more people — sixty-six — were indicted on public-corruption charges in Louisiana in 1999 than in any other state. . .

“We’re just not genetically disposed to handle money,” lamented political consultant James Carville, who was from Carville, Louisiana. “We ought to bring in the legislature from another state — maybe Wisconsin or Minnesota — to handle our money. In return, we’ll handle the cooking and entertainment for them. They’ll handle our fiscal oversight, and we’ll handle their cultural matters.” . . .

I WISH I WAS IN NEW ORLEANS – TOM WAITSMan come down from Chicago, gonna set that levy right; / He said it’s got to be 3 feet high up or it won’t make it thru the night. / The old man down in the quarter / said don’t you listen to that boy, / The water be down by mornin’, son he’ll be on his way to Illinois – Leon Everette

Forget that New Orleans is actually a little like the Combat Zone with French cooking, it still happens to be part of the great state of Louisiana where people play the political game the same way it’s played in Lebanon. The place is one layer after another of tribes, factions and at least a million laughs. The busybodies and goo-goos who adorn Beacon Hill would soon be calling room service at McLean Hospital if they plied their preachy trade in Baton Rouge. The suspender set around Boston. . . would be babbling to a Vienna-bred shrink if they found themselves going one on one with a bunch of down-home pols who think that Ben Franklin is famous because he invented the $100 bill. – A. J. Liebling

There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun…

Way down in Louisiana
Close to New Orleans
Way back up in the woods
Among the evergreens…

She’s my red-hot Louisiana Mama
From a town called New Orleans

Like the morning [Earl Long] saw that Schwegmann’s was selling potatoes for forty-nine cents a ten-pound sack. Schwegmann’s is a string of three big supermarkets here that sell everything — furniture, automobile parts, grits, steak….Earl says, ‘Come on, boys, I can’t afford to pass that up,’ and he goes downstairs and gets into his eleven-thousand-dollar air-conditioned official Cadillac … , and the state troopers get out in front on motorcycles to clear the way, . . . and they take off. They pull up in front of Schwegmann’s — all the sirens blowing, frightening hell out of the other shoppers. . . . So he buys a hundred pounds of the potatoes and tells a state senator to pick them up and carry them to the car, and then he sees some alarm clocks on sale and buys three hundred dollars’ worth, and tells some representatives from upcountry to carry them. And eighty-seven dozen goldfish in individual plastic bags of water, and two cases of that sweet Mogen David wine. . .. “Well, when they got out there on the sidewalk, under about a hundred degrees of heat, the stuff won’t all go in the trunk of the Cadillac. . . . So Uncle Earl sends a couple of senators and a judge into the store again to buy some rope. – A.J. Liebling

Blanche DuBois: You’re married to a madman.

Stella: I wish you’d stop taking it for granted that I’m in something I want to get out of.

Blanche DuBois: What you are talking about is desire – just brutal Desire. The name of that rattle-trap streetcar that bangs through the Quarter, up one old narrow street and down another.

Stella: Haven’t you ever ridden on that streetcar?

Blanche DuBois: It brought me here. Where I’m not wanted and where I’m ashamed to be.

Stella: Don’t you think your superior attitude is a little out of place?

bury me down in new orleans
so I can spend eternity above ground
you can flood this town
but you can’t shut the party down
ain’t no drownin’ the spirit
we callin’ the children home
ain’t no drownin’ the spirit
we callin’ the children home

B. Payne, P. Barrere, and F. Tackett, ‘Calling the Children Home’

Here . . . is Ignatius Reilly, without progenitor in any literature I know of — slob extraordinary, a mad Oliver Hardy, a fat Don Quixote, a perverse Thomas Aquinas rolled into one — who is in violent revolt against the entire modern age, lying in his flannel nightshirt, in a back bedroom on Constantinople Street in New Orleans, who between gigantic seizures of flatulence and eructations is filling dozens of Big Chief tablets with invective.

His mother thinks he needs to go to work. He does, in a succession of jobs. Each job rapidly escalates into a lunatic adventure, a full-blown disaster; yet each has, like Don Quixote’s, its own eerie logic. . .

Imagine an Aquinas gone to pot, transported to New Orleans whence he makes a wild foray through the swamps to LSU at Baton Rouge, where his lumber jacket is stolen in the faculty men’s room where he is seated, overcome by mammoth gastrointestinal problems. His pyloric valve periodically closes in response to the lack of a “proper geometry and theology” in the modern world. – Walker Percy, Introduction to Confederacy of Dunces

I could only imagine how many haggard and depraved eyes were regarding me hungrily from behind the closed shutters; I tried not to think about it. Already I was beginning to feel like an especially toothsome steak in a meat market. However, no one called enticingly from the shutters; those devious mentalities throbbing away in their dark apartments were apparently more subtle seducers. I thought that a note, at least, might flutter down. A frozen orange juice can came flying out of one of the windows and barely missed me. I stooped over and picked it up in order to inspect the empty tin cylinder for a communication of some sort, but only a viscous residue on concentrated juice trickled out on my hand. Was this some obscene message? While I was pondering the matter and staring up at the window from which the can had been hurled, an old vagrant approached the wagon and pleaded for a frankfurter. Grudgingly I sold him one, ruefully concluding that, as always, work was interfering at a crucial moment. – Ignatius J. Reilly in Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

I know all about you degenerates in the Quarter. I ain’t let rooms ten years in the Quarter for nothin’. – Tennesee Williams, Angels in the Alcove

One of these days the people of Louisiana are going to get good government – and they aren’t going to like it. – Huey Long

Hard work is damn near as overrated as monogamy. – Huey Long

I’m for the po’ folk, I’m for the middlin’ folk, and I’m for the rich folk, if they behave themselves. – Earl Long

I’m not against anybody for reasons of race, creed, or any ism he might believe in except nuttism, skingameism or communism. – Earl Long

Hell yes, I think you should use ideals or any other goddamn thing you can get your hands on – Earl Long asked by a young state legislator whether ideals had any role in politics


The difference between love and sex is that sex relieves tension and love causes it. — Woody Allen

Nobody loves me but my mama — and she may be jivin’ too. — BB King


That we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. – Theodore Roosevelt

He has all the qualities of a dog except loyalty — LB Johnson of one of his aides

You have just taken an oath of allegiance to the United States. Of Allegiance to whom? Of allegiance to no one, unless it be God. Certainly not of allegiance to those who temporarily represent this great government. You have taken an oath of allegiance to a great ideal, to a great body of principles, to a great hope of the human race — Woodrow Wilson, speaking to a group of newly naturalized citizens.


The more I practice, the luckier I get — Ben Hogan


He lies so much he had to hire someone to call his dog. — One lawyer describing another as reported by the Briefcase.

The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.” — H. L. Mencken

DON PEDRO, PRINCE OF ARRAGON: Officers, what offense have these men done?

DOGBERRY, A CONSTABLE: Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are slanders; sixth and lastly, they have belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust things; and to conclude, they are lying knaves. — Much Ado About Nothing

I have a higher and greater standard of principle. Washington could not lie. I can lie but I won’t – Mark Twain explaining his superiority to George Washington

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