A Collection of Quotations

Quotations on history, current events, politics and life


Every single empire, in its official discourse, has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that is has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy and that it uses force only as a last resort. ~ scholar Edward Said

Historically, the financialization of society has always been a symbol that a nation's economic position has entered a phase of deterioration. ~ William Wolman and Anne Colamosca, The Judas Economy 1997

Let us learn our lessons. Never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. . . . Always remember, however sure you are that you can easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think that he also had a chance. ~ Winston Churchill

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason so few people engage in it. ~ Henry Ford  Interview 1929 

What experience and history teach is this - that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it. ~ Georg Hegel

The US suffers from . . . structural deficits that will limit the effectiveness and duration of its crypto-imperial role in the world.  The first is the nation's growing dependence on foreign capital to finance excessive private and public consumption.  It is difficult to recall any empire that has long endured after becoming so dependent on lending from abroad. ~ Niall Ferguson

A great empire is to the world of geopolitics what a great bubble is to the world of economics. It’s attractive at the outset but a catastrophe eventually. We know of no exceptions. ~ Empire of Debt: The Rise of an Epic Financial Crisis, William Bonner and Addison Wiggin, John Wiley & Sons

One of the great lies about American politics is that Democrats genuinely subscribe to a set of core convictions that make Democrats different from Republicans. And the same thing, of course, applies to the other party. It's not true. ~ Andrew Bacevich  Who spent 23 years in the Army after graduating from West Point and retired as a colonel and teaches international relations and history at Boston University. 

Study the past if you would define the future. ~ Confucius

Alliances are transmission belts of war. ~ Patrick Buchanan

Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak. ~ US President John Adams

Misery and war are children of the same father. ~ Eduardo Galeano

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. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Over four centuries, leading economic power decline has been catalyzed by an unexpectedly long war entered into with unwarranted hubris. ~ Kevin Phillips Wealth and Democracy

To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a wilderness, they call it peace. ~ Tacitius

“The U.S. has routinely destroyed democracy throughout the globe while its leaders spout words about spreading democracy.” 
“I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.... 
“I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. 
“During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.” – Major-General Smedley Butler, 1933.

Surveying U.S. history, one is hard-pressed to find presidential decisions as monumentally ill-informed and counterproductive as the decision to invade and occupy Iraq; however, a decision to go to war against Iran would arguably surpass the Iraq war as the worst foreign policy decision ever made by an American president. ~ Richard Norton, professor of international relations at Boston University

The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it. ~  Edward Dowling, editor and priest 1941

Things are as they are, and their consequences will be what they will be. Why, then, should we seek to be deceived? ~ philosopher Bishop Berkeley

Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. ~
Lord Acton  Letter to Bishop Creighton

The disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though both necessary to establish and maintain the distinctions of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. ~ Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments

I don't like it, but I will vote for it because we need something right now. But this constitution in time will fail, as all such efforts do. And it will fail because of the corruption of the people, in a general sense. ~ Benjamin Franklin on being shown the new constitution of the United States of America.

We are free today substantially, but the day will come when our Republic will be an impossibility. It will be an impossibility because wealth will be concentrated in the hands of a few. ~ James Madison

Hegemony nurtures pride and illusion. ~ Kevin Phillips  Wealth and Democracy

If there is a problem between a weak nation and another weak nation and the UN takes action, the problem disappears. If there is a problem between a strong nation and a weak nation and the UN takes action, the weak nation disappears. If there is a problem between a strong nation and a strong nation and the UN takes action, the UN disappears. ~  Carlos Romulo, former president of the UN General Assembly

Even under the best forms [of government] those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny. ~ Thomas Jefferson

If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. ~ James Madison

It has always seemed to me ... probable that there would be a resurrection of Islam and that our sons or our grandsons would see the renewal of that tremendous struggle between the Christian culture and what has been for more than a thousand years its greatest opponent. ~ Hilaire Belloc 1938

Attempts are being made to split the world on the basis of religion or ethnicity, to drive a wedge primarily between the Christian and Islamic communities. . . In effect, a conflict of civilizations is being thrust upon the world.  . . it is necessary to fully understand to what catastrophic consequences this confrontation could lead. ~ Russian President Vladimir Putin

History doesn't repeat, but it rhymes. ~ Mark Twain

The concentration of wealth is natural and inevitable, and is periodically alleviated by violent or peaceable partial redistribution.  In this view all economic history is the slow heartbeat of the social organism, a vast systole and diastole of concentrating wealth and compulsive recirculation. ~ Historians Will and Ariel Durante 1968

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy? ~ Mahatma Gandhi

The fact that our economic models at the Fed, the best in the world, have been wrong for 14 straight quarters does not mean that they will not be right in the 15th quarter. ~ Alan Greenspan 

America ... [is going] down the tubes, and the worst part is nobody knows it. They're all in denial, patting themselves on the back, as the Titanic heads for the iceberg full speed ahead. ~ Intel's Andy Grove

More people will graduate in the United States in 2006 with sports-exercise degrees than electrical-engineering degrees. So, if we want to be the massage capital of the world, we're well on our way. ~ Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE

Munds vult decipi, ergo decipiatur.  The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived. ~ Latin Proverb

An average middle-class family's income rose by 9.2% after inflation from 1989 to 1998, but they also spent 6.8% more time at work to reap it.  Without increased earnings from wives, the average middle-class family's income would have risen only 3.6% over the decade.  Middle-class families held (just) 2.8% of the total growth in stock-market holdings between 1989 and 1998, but accounted for 38.8% of the rise in household debt. ~ Economic Policy Institute, 2000

The declines in some manufacturing sectors have more in common with a country undergoing saturation bombing during war than with a super-economy that is "the envy of the world."  Paul Craig Roberts  From: http://www.economyincrisis.org/articles/showarticle.asp?ID=99

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out... without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable. ~  H.L. Mencken

Liberty of thought is the life of the soul. ~ Voltaire

 I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. ~ Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it. ~ Abraham Lincoln, 4 April 1861

 No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it. ~ 16 Am. Jur. Sec. 177 late 2d, Sec 256

If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that  would ... [be] the definition of  a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.  ~ Henry David Thoreau

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. ~ John Stuart Mill, "On Liberty", 1859

 The difference between death and taxes is death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets.  ~ Will Rogers

 The end move in politics is always to pick up a gun. ~ R. Buckminster Fuller

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences. ~ C. S. Lewis

I think it would be a good idea. ~ Mahatma Gandhi when asked what he thought of Western civilization

All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion and desire. ~ Aristotle

There is only one success - to be able to spend your life in your own way. ~ Christopher Morley 1890-1957

What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index into his desires -- desires of which he himself is often unconscious. 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. ~ Bertrand Russell

An investment in knowledge usually pays the best interest. ~  Benjamin Franklin, Statesman/Inventor

I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite. ~ G. K. Chesterton  1874-1936

Common sense is not so common. ~ Voltaire

Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration. ~ Thomas A. Edison  1847 - 1931  Harper's Monthly 1932

It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen. ~ Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 325 BC

Who is sovereign? He who commits the acts of sovereignty. ~ Tocqueville

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop. ~ Confucius

There is no great genius without some touch of madness. ~ Seneca  5 BC - 65 AD  Epistles

Education is the best provision for the journey to old age. ~ Aristotle

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened. ~ Sir Winston Churchill

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him keep step to the music which he hears, no matter how measured or far away. ~ Henry David Thoreau  Walden  1854  

We are here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine. ~  H.L. Mencken

If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. ~ Mark Twain

When things turn weird, the weird turn pro. ~ Hunter S. Thompson

Al ain't sellin excuses, Al's sellin whisky.  Attributed to Frank Nitti  Al Capone's enforcer

Death is nothing to us, since when we are death, has not come, and when death has come, we are not. ~   Epicurus Letter to Menoeceus 124-125

Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime. ~ Aristotle

The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing -- for the sheer fun and joy of it -- to go right ahead and fight, knowing you're going to lose. You mustn't feel like a martyr. You've got to enjoy it. ~  I.F. Stone:

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. ~ Sir Winston Churchill

This existence of ours is transient as autumn clouds.  To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance.  A lifetime is a flash of lightening in the sky.  Rushing by like a torrent down a steep mountain. ~ Buddha  563-483 BC

To the well organized mind death is but the next great adventure. ~ Albus Dumbledore

As a well spent day bring happy sleep so a life well spent brings happy death. ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Be sure to live your life because you are a long time dead. ~ Scottish Proverb

Digressions, objection, delight in mockery, carefree mistrust are signs of health; everything unconditional belongs in pathology. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Now, my good man, this is no time for making enemies. ~ Voltair on his deathbed in response to a Priest asking that he renounce Satan.

Fate succumbs many a species: one alone jeopardizes itself. ~ W H Auden

To transform the emptiness of loneliness to the fullness of  aloneness.  Ah, that is the secret of life. ~ Sunita Khosla

To forget one's purpose is the commonest form of stupidity. Friedrich Nietzsche

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. ~ Oscar Wilde

If you are alone you belong entirely to yourself . . . If you are accompanied by even one companion you belong only half to yourself, or even less, in proportion to the thoughtlessness of his conduct; and if you have more than one companion you fall more deeply into the same plight. ~ Leonardo da Vinci

   The wisest men follow their own direction. ~ Euripides 484 BC - 406 BC

The end comes when we no longer talk with ourselves.  It is the end of genuine thinking and the beginning of  the final loneliness.  The remarkable thing is that the cessation of the inner  dialog marks also the end of our concern with the world around us.  It is as if we noted the world and think about it only when we have to report it to ourselves. ~ Eric Hoffer 

Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time. ~ Mark Twain

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. ~ Anonymous 

As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences. ~ William Issaac Thomas

Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him [Jesus] by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others again of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism, and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being. ~ Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Short, April 13, 1820     http://www.nobeliefs.com/jefferson.htm 

All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. ~ Thomas Jefferson, letter to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826 (in the last letter he penned)     http://www.nobeliefs.com/jefferson.htm

And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors. ~ Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes. ~ Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. ~ Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature. ~ Thomas Jefferson

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.... Do not be frightened from this inquiry from any fear of its consequences. If it ends in the belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in  its exercise...~ Thomas Jefferson, in a 1787 letter to his nephew

The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action, according to our will, within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. ~ Thomas Jefferson

Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. ~ Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist

Government is not reason, it is not eloquence--it is force. ~ George Washington

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote! ~ Benjamin Franklin

Every state in the union has legalized gambling.  It's called voting. ~ The Deist

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.  War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes . . known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few . . . No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. ~ James Madison, US President 1809-1817

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.  This world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sinew of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. ~ Dwight Eisenhower

Let the people think they govern, and they will be governed. ~ William Penn founder of Pennsylvania 

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. ~  H.L. Mencken

It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from the government. ~ Thomas Paine, hero of the American Revolution, author of Common Sense 1776

A republic if you can keep it. ~ Ben Franklin

In 1960 when I came out of prison as an ex-convict, I had more freedom under parolee supervision than there's available to an average citizen in America right now . . . God almighty, what have we done to each other? ~ Merle Haggard

Presidents have lied so much to us about foreign policy that they have established almost a common-law right to do so. ~ History Professor Leo Ribuffo

In victory all sins are forgotten. ~ Political saying

If once the people become inattentive to the public affairs . . . Congress and Assemblies, judges and governors shall all become wolves.  It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual expectation. ~ Thomas Jefferson 1787

Never in history have so many been fooled by so little. ~ Harley Sorensen 2004

Free government is founded on jealousy, not confidence . . .   In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. ~ Thomas Jefferson 

One more such victory and we are ruined. ~ King Phyrrus

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.  ~ Milan Kundera

Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind. ~  Rudyard Kipling

Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against.  ~W.C. Fields

Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right?  ~Robert Orben

Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.  ~Author Unknown

The only cure for contempt is counter-contempt. ~  H.L. Mencken

As the arteries grow hard, the heart grows soft. ~  H.L. Mencken

When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.  ~ George Bernard Shaw

It is Hell, of course, that makes priests powerful, not Heaven, for after thousands of years of so-called civilization fear remains the one common denominator of mankind."  ~  H.L. Mencken

An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.  ~  H.L. Mencken

There are no atheists in foxholes isn't an argument against atheism, it's an argument against foxholes.  ~  James

"The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject." Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from 121-180 A.D. and Stoic philosopher

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place. ~  H.L. Mencken

Mankind will never see an end of trouble until... lovers of wisdom come to hold political power, or the holders of power... become lovers of wisdom.  ~Plato, The Republic

No matter how happily a woman may be married, it always pleases her to discover that there is a nice man who wishes that she were not. ~  H.L. Mencken 

No matter how long he lives, no man ever becomes as wise as the average woman of forty-eight.~  H.L. Mencken

A metaphysician is one who, when you remark that twice two makes four, demands to know what you mean by twice, what by two, what by makes, and what by four. For asking such questions metaphysicians are supported in oriental luxury in the universities, and respected as educated and intelligent men. ~  H.L. Mencken

I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. ~ Hunter S. Thompson

It is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended from man. ~ H. L. Mencken

It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry. ~  H.L. Mencken

Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.  ~Oscar Ameringer

It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office. ~  H.L. Mencken

Life is a dead-end street. ~  H.L. Mencken 

Ah, would that it were the end of men! That there were no conception and no birth! Then would the earth cease from turmoil and be at rest ~ Ipu-wer

Knowledge and timber shouldn't be much used until they are seasoned. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

The public, with its mob yearning to be instructed, edified and pulled by the nose, demands certainties; it must be told definitely and a bit raucously that this is true and that is false. But there are no certainties. ~  H.L. Mencken

"I know you're a Christian, but who are you a Christian against." ~ Kenneth Burke

Not by accident, you may be sure, do the Christian Scriptures make the father of knowledge a serpent-slimy, sneaking and abominable. ~  H.L. Mencken

Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule -and both commonly succeed, and are right.  ~  H.L. Mencken

Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country, it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it. ~  H.L. Mencken

I never lecture, not because I am shy or a bad speaker, but simply because I detest the sort of people who go to lectures and don't want to meet them. ~  H.L. Mencken

I believe in only one thing: liberty; but I do not believe in liberty enough to want to force it upon anyone. ~  H.L. Mencken

I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time. ~  H.L. Mencken

To sum up: 1. The cosmos is a gigantic fly-wheel making 10, 000 revolutions a minute. 2. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it. 3. Religion is the theory that the wheel was designed and set spinning to give him the ride. ~  H.L. Mencken

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

If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl. ~  H.L. Mencken