Saturday Quotathon: Politics, Politicians and Patriotism

>> Saturday, July 4, 2009

In honor of the holiday...

In the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding on the back of the tiger ended up inside.
--John F. Kennedy

People think responsibility is hard to bear. It's not. I think that sometimes it is the absence of responsibility that is harder to bear. You have a great feeling of impotence.
--Henry Kissinger

How perilous it is to free a people who prefer slavery.
--Niccolò Machiavelli

Status quo, you know, that is Latin for 'the mess we're in'.
--Ronald Reagan

A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.
--Adlai Stevenson

Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies but which let wasps and hornets break through.
--Jonathon Swift

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.
--Mark Twain

I not only use all of the brains I have, but all I can borrow.
--Woodrow Wilson

After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box.
-- Italian Proverb

Crash programs fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month.
-- Wernher von Braun

Diplomacy is the art of letting the other party have things your way.
-- Daniele Vare

So much attention is paid to the aggressive sins, such as violence and cruelty and greed with all their tragic effects, that too little attention is paid to the passive sins, such as apathy and laziness, which in the long run can have a more devastating and destructive effect upon our society than the others.
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

He who stops being better stops being good.
-- Oliver Cromwell

If you're not making waves, you're not underway.
-- Admiral Chester Nimitz

I have discovered the art of deceiving diplomats. I speak the truth, and they never believe me.
-- Camillo di Cavour

It is not true that equality is a law of nature. Nature has no equality. Its sovereign law is subordination and dependence.
-- Marquis de Vauvenargues

It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.
-- Giordano Bruno

Never be afraid to stand with the minority when the minority is right, for the minority which is right will one day be the majority.
-- William Jennings Bryan

No one ever excused his way to success.
-- David de Dotto

No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power.
-- Jacob Bronowski

Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.
-- William Penn

Since Auschwitz we know what man is capable of.
Since Hiroshima we know what is at stake.
-- Viktor Frankl

Experience is the best teacher, but only a fool would choose to learn at the school of experience.
--Ben Franklin

Political necessities sometimes turn out to be political mistakes.
-George Bernard Shaw

Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.
-Albert Einstein

If you are going through hell, keep going.
-Winston Churchill

I have always thought that all men should be free; but if any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly, those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.
-Abraham Lincoln

The average "educated" American has been made to believe that, somehow, the United States must lead the world even though hardly anyone has any information at all about those countries we are meant to lead. Worse, we have very little information about our own country and its past.
- Gore Vidal

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.
- Harry S. Truman

I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against.
- Malcolm X

Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' And Vanity comes along and asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But Conscience asks the question 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.
- Martin Luther King

It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.
- Thomas Paine

Between individuals, as between nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.
- Benito Juárez

By a free country, I mean a country where people are allowed, so long as they do not hurt their neighbours, to do as they like. I do not mean a country where six men may make five men do exactly as they like.
- Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Lord Salisbury

Statistics are no substitute for judgment.
-Henry Clay

Has it been found that bodies of men act with more rectitude or greater disinterestedness than individuals? The contrary of this has been inferred by all accurate observers of the conduct of mankind; and the inference is founded upon obvious reasons. Regard to reputation has a less active influence, when the infamy of a bad action is to be divided among a number than when it is to fall singly upon one. A spirit of faction, which is apt to mingle its poison in the deliberations of all bodies of men, will often hurry the persons of whom they are composed into improprieties and excesses, for which they would blush in a private capacity.
-Alexander Hamilton

If I am to be shot at, I want no man to be in the way of the bullet.
-Andrew Johnson

Even if we accept, as the basic tenet of true democracy, that one moron is equal to one genius, is it necessary to go a further step and hold that two morons are better than one genius?
-Leó Szilárd

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.
-William Pitt the Younger

Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't.
-Margaret Thatcher

It is especially important to encourage unorthodox thinking when the situation is critical: At such moments every new word and fresh thought is more precious than gold. Indeed, people must not be deprived of the right to think their own thoughts.
- Boris Yeltsin

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problem.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
H.L. Mencken

Richard Nixon is a no-good lying bastard. He can lie out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, and if he ever caught himself telling the truth, he'd lie just to keep his hand in.
- Harry S. Truman on Richard Nixon

History buffs probably noted the reunion at a Washington party a few weeks ago of three ex-presidents: Carter, Ford, and Nixon-See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Evil.
- Robert J. Dole, speech, 1983

A Member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."
"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "on whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."


  • Roy

    Now that's a great set of quotations on the theme. I just have a few to add.

    "When the great Tao is forgotten, goodness and piety appear.
    When the body's intelligence declines, cleverness and knowledge step forth.
    When there is no peace in the family, filial piety begins.
    When the country falls into chaos, patriotism is born."
    – Tao Te Ching, chapter 18 (Stephen Mitchell trans.)

    "A brain that small shouldn't carry a stick that big."
    ~ Bertrand Laurence (folk musician) on George W. Bush

    "They call this war a cloud over the land. But they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say 'S***, it's raining!'"
    ~ Ruby Thewes in "Cold Mountain" (Anthony Minghella, screenwriter)

    "People should not be afraid of their government; the government should be afraid of the people."
    - V For Vendetta

  • The Mother

    While I wish Adlai Stevenson was right, recent events prove him wrong daily.

    Or maybe we aren't really a free society?

  • Stephanie B

    Thanks, Roy, as always.

    The Mother, I think that's the point. If being unpopular puts you at risk, perhaps your society isn't as free as it ought to be.

  • Mike Golch

    Great quotes,thanks for them.

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