Ivan's Place
In honor of the greatest moralist who never lived
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Becker

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Quotes, Opinions, and Other Pith

I collected the materials presented below from my readings over the years. Occasionally I editorialize, usually to provide background or to disarm any suspicion that I agree with a quote or opinion. With the exceptions of the Unattributed section, and Gregg Mitchell's The Campaign of the Century, the materials are organized alphabetically by author.

Unattributed  The Campaign of the Century

—— A ——     Top

"It has been the will of Heaven that we should be thrown into existence at a period when the greatest philosophers and lawgivers of antiquity would have wished to live ... a period when a coincidence of circumstances without example has afforded to thirteen colonies at once an opportunity of beginning government anew from the foundation and building as they choose. How few of the human race have ever had an opportunity of choosing a system of government for themselves and their children? How few have ever had anything more of choice in government than in climate?" — John Adams (John Adams, by David McCullogh. Touchstone 2002. Paper p. 102.)

"Gentlemen in other colonies have large plantations of slaves, and ... are accustomed to higher notions of themselves and the distinction between them and the common people than we are. ... I dread the consequences of this dissimilitude of character, and without the utmost caution on both sides, and the most considerate forbearance with one another and prudent concessions on both sides, they will certainly be fatal." — John Adams [Same biography, I'm sure, but I can't find the page. — B.B.]


archy the cockroach.

Don Marquis was a New York newspaper columnist and highly popular social critic during the early 1900s. One morning he arrived at his desk to find a composition on the sheet of paper he had left in his typewriter the night before. The text introduced the writer, a cockroach who called himself "archy." archy explained that in a past life he had been a vers libre bard, and when he died his soul went into the body of a cockroach. Now, archy said, "expression is the need of my soul." He asked Marquis to always leave a blank sheet in the typewriter each night when he left the office, and tastier food scraps than apple parings.

The text on the sheet was entirely in lower case, without punctuation, the reason being that the only way archy could make the typewriter key strike the paper was to dive off the platen head- first onto the key, whereupon the momentum of his dive forced the key down with enough pressure to make an imprint on the paper. He did this for each letter, and by the end of the evening, he was thoroughly worn out. Archy couldn't arrange a way to work the shift key simultaneously; thus the lower case text. I forget how he managed to arrange the carriage returns for separate lines.

For more information on a great humanist, visit the websites of John Batteiger, and Jim Ennes.

Here are a few poems by archy, from the life and times of archy & mehitabel, by Don Marquis. Doubleday, 1950.

aesop revised by archy

a wolf met a spring
lamb drinking
at a stream
and said to her
you are the lamb
that muddied this stream
all last year
so that i could not get
a clean fresh drink
i am resolved that
this outrage
shall not be enacted again
this season
i am going to kill you
just a moment
said the lamb
i was not born last
year so it could not
have been I
the wolf then pulled
a number of other
arguments as to why the lamb
should die
but in each case the lamb
pretty innocent that she was
easily proved
herself guiltless
well well said the wolf
enough of argument
you are right and i am wrong
but i am going to eat
you anyhow
because i am hungry
stop exclamation point
cried a human voice
and a man came over
the slope of the ravine
vile lupine marauder
you shall not kill that
beautiful and innocent
lamb for i shall save her
exit the wolf
left upper entrance
poor little lamb
continued our human hero
sweet tender little thing
it is well that i appeared
just when i did
it makes my blood boil
to think of the fright
to which you have been
subjected in another
moment i would have been
too late come home with me
and the lamb frolicked
about her new found friend
gamboling as to the sound
of a wordsworthian tabor
and leaping for joy
as if propelled by a stanza
from william blake
these vile and bloody wolves
went on our hero
in honest indignation
they must be cleared out
of the country
the meads must be made safe
for sheepocracy
and so jollying her along
with the usual human hokum
he led her to his home
and the son of a gun
did not even blush when
they passed the mint bed
gently he cut her throat
all the while inveighing
against the inhuman wolf
and tenderly he cooked her
and lovingly he sauced her
and meltingly he ate her
and piously he said a grace
thanking his gods
for their bountiful gifts to him
and after dinner
he sat with his pipe
before the fire meditating
on the brutality of wolves
and the injustice of
the universe
which allows them to harry
poor innocent lambs
and wondering if he
had not better
write to the papers
for as he said
for god s sake can t
something be done about it

the big bad wolf

i went to a movie show
the other evening in the cuff
of a friends turned up trousers
and saw the three little pigs
and was greatly edified by the moral lesson
how cruel i said to myself
was the big bad wolf
how superior to wolves are men
the wolf would have eaten those pigs raw
and even alive
whereas a man would have kindly
cut their throats
and lovingly made them into
country sausage spare ribs and pigs knuckles
he would tenderly have roasted them
fried them and boiled them
cooked them feelingly with charity
towards all and malice towards none
and piously eaten them served with sauerkraut
and other trimmings
it is no wonder that the edible animals
are afraid of wolves and love men so
when a pig is eaten by a wolf
he realizes that something is wrong with the world
but when he is eaten by a man
he must thank god fervently
that he is being useful to a superior being
it must be the same way
with a colored man who is being lynched
he must be grateful that he is being lynched
in a land of freedom and liberty
and not in any of the old world countries
of darkness and oppression
where men are still the victims
of kings iniquity and constipation
we ought all to be grateful in this country
that our wall street robber barons
and crooked international bankers
are such highly respectable citizens
and do so much for the churches
and for charity
and support such noble institutions and foundations
for the welfare of mankind
and are such spiritually minded philanthropists
it would be horrid to be robbed
by the wrong kind of people
if i were a man i would not let
a cannibal eat me unless he showed me
a letter certifying to his character
from the pastor of his church
even our industrial murderers
in this country are usually affiliated
with political parties devoted
to the uplift
the enlightenment and the progress
of humankind
every time i get discouraged
and contemplate suicide
by impersonating a raisin and getting devoured
as part of a piece of pie
i think of our national blessings
and cheer up again
it is indeed
as i have been reading lately
a great period in which to be alive
and it is a cheering thought to think
that god is on the side of the best digestion
your moral little friend
                                  archy the cockroach

what the ants are saying

dear boss i was talking with an ant
the other day
and he handed me a lot of
gossip which ants the world around
are chewing over among themselves

i pass it on to you
in the hope that you may relay it to other
human beings and hurt their feelings with it
no insect likes human beings
and if you think you can see why
the only reason i tolerate you is because
you seem less human to me than most of them
here is what the ants are saying

it wont be long now it wont be long
man is making deserts of the earth
it wont be long now
before man will have used it up
so that nothing but ants
and centipedes and scorpions
can find a living on it
man has oppressed us for a million years
but he goes on steadily
cutting the ground from under
his own feet making deserts deserts deserts

we ants remember
and have it all recorded
in our tribal lore
when gobi was a paradise
swarming with men and rich
in human prosperity
it is a desert now and the home
of scorpions ants and centipedes

what man calls civilization
always results in deserts
man is never on the square
he uses up the fat and greenery of the earth
each generation wastes a little more
of the future with greed and lust for riches

north africa was once a garden spot
and then came carthage and rome
and despoiled the storehouse
and now you have sahara
sahara ants and centipedes

toltecs and aztecs had a mighty
civilization on this continent
but they robbed the soil and wasted nature
and now you have deserts scorpions ants and centipedes
and the deserts of the near east
followed egypt and babylon and assyria
and persia and rome and the turk
the ant is the inheritor of tamerlane
and the scorpion succeeds the caesars

america was once a paradise
of timberland and stream
but it is dying because of the greed
and money lust of a thousand little kings
who slashed the timber all to hell
and would not be controlled
and changed the climate
and stole the rainfall from posterity
and it wont be long now
it wont be long
till everything is desert
from the alleghenies to the rockies
the deserts are coming
the deserts are spreading
the springs and streams are drying up
one day the mississippi itself
will be a bed of sand
ants and scorpions and centipedes
shall inherit the earth

men talk of money and industry
of hard times and recoveries
of finance and economics
but the ants wait and the scorpions wait
for while men talk they are making deserts all the time
getting the world ready for the conquering ant
drought and erosion and desert
because men cannot learn

rainfall passing off in flood and freshet
and carrying good soil with it
because there are no longer forests
to withhold the water in the
billion meticulations of the roots

it wont be long now it won't be long
till earth is barren as the moon
and sapless as a mumbled bone

dear boss i relay this information
without any fear that humanity
will take warning and reform

[ Plato made the same lament about 2300 years before archy wrote what the ants are saying.]

Thanks to Chris for sharing her favorite archy poem:

the lesson of the moth

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense

plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all all our life
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for

it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves

and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity

but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself


warty bliggens the toad

i met a toad
the other day by the name
of warty bliggens
he was sitting under
a toadstool
feeling contented
he explained that when the cosmos
was created
that toadstool was especially
planned for his personal
shelter from sun and rain
thought out and prepared
for him

do not tell me
said warty bliggens
that there is not a purpose
in the universe
the thought is blasphemy

a little more conversation revealed
that warty bliggens
considers himself to be
the center of the said
the earth exists
to grow toadstools for him
to sit under
the sun to give him light
by day and the moon
and wheeling constellations
to make beautiful
the night for the sake of
warty bliggens

to what act of yours
do you impute
this interest on the part
of the creator
of the universe
i asked him
why is it that you
are so greatly favored

ask rather
said warty bliggens
what the universe
has done to deserve me
if i were a
human being i would
not laugh
too complacently
at poor warty bliggens
for similar
have only too often
lodged in the crinkles
of the human cerebrum

the robin and the worm

a robin said to an
angleworm as he ate him
i am sorry but a bird
has to live somehow the
worm being slow witted could
not gather his
dissent into a wise crack
and retort he was
effectually swallowed
before he could turn
a phrase
by the time he had
reflected long enough
to say but why must a
bird live
he felt the beginnings
of a gradual change
invading him
some new and disintegrating
was stealing along him
from his positive
to his negative pole
and he did not have
the mental stamina
of a jonah to resist the
process of assimilation
which comes like a thief
in the night
demons and fishhooks
he exclaimed
i am losing my personal
identity as a worm
my individuality
is melting away from me
odds craw i am becoming
part and parcel of
this bloody robin
so help me i am thinking
like a robin and not
like a worm any
longer yes yes i even
find myself agreeing
that a robin must live
i still do not
understand with my mentality
why a robin must live
and yet i swoon into a
condition of belief
yes yes by heck that is
my dogma and i shout it a
robin must live
amen said a beetle who had
preceded him into the
interior that is the way i
feel myself is it not
wonderful when one arrives
at the place
where he can give up his
ambitions and resignedly
nay even with gladness
recognize that it is a far far
better thing to be
merged harmoniously
in the cosmic all
and this comfortable situation
in his midst
so affected the marauding
robin that he perched
upon a blooming twig
and sang until the
blossoms shook with ecstasy
he sang
i have a good digestion
and there is a god after all
which i was wicked
enough to doubt
yesterday when it rained
breakfast breakfast
i am full of breakfast
and they are at breakfast
in heaven
they breakfast in heaven
all s well with the world
so intent was this pious and
murderous robin
on his own sweet song
that he did not notice
mehitabel the cat
sneaking toward him
she pounced just as he
had extended his larynx
in a melodious burst of
thanksgiving and
he went the way of all
flesh fish and good red herring
a ha purred mehitabel
licking the last
feather from her whiskers
was not that a beautiful
song he was singing
just before i took him to
my bosom
they breakfast in heaven
all s well with the world
how true that is
and even yet his song
echoes in the haunted
woodland of my midriff
peace and joy in the world
and over all the
provident skies
how beautiful is the universe
when something digestible meets
with an eager digestion
how sweet the embrace
when atom rushes to the arms
of waiting atom
and they dance together
skimming with fairy feet
along a tide of gastric juices
oh feline cosmos you were
made for cats
and in the spring
old cosmic thing
i dine and dance with you
i shall creep through
yonder tall grass
to see if peradventure
some silly fledgling thrushes
newly from the nest
be not floundering therein
i have a gusto this
morning i have a hunger
i have a yearning to hear
from my stomach
further music in accord with
the mystic chanting
of the spheres of the stars that
sang together in the dawn of
creation prophesying food
for me i have a faith
that providence has hidden for me
in yonder tall grass
still more
ornithological delicatessen
oh gayly let me strangle
what is gayly given
well well boss there is
something to be said
for the lyric and imperial
believe that everything is for
you until you discover
that you are for it
sing your faith in what you
get to eat right up to the
minute you are eaten
for you are going
to be eaten
will the orchestra please
strike up that old
tutankhamen jazz while i dance
a few steps i learnt from an
egyptian scarab and some day i
will narrate to you the most
merry light headed wheeze
that the skull of yorick put
across in answer to the
melancholy of the dane and also
what the ghost of
hamlet s father replied to the skull
not forgetting the worm that
wriggled across one of the picks
the grave diggers had left behind
for the worm listened and winked
at horatio while the skull and the
ghost and the prince talked
saying there are more things
twixt the vermiform appendix
and nirvana than are dreamt of
in thy philosophy horatio
fol de riddle fol de rol
must every parrot be a poll

—— B——     Top

"The secret of great wealth with no obvious source is some forgotten crime, forgotten because it was done neatly." Honoré, Balzac (Cited in The Oil We Eat, by Richard Manning. Harpers Magazine, February, 2004, p. 37.)


"I find postmodernism absurd, rather despicable in its delight in debunking all serious beliefs, decadent and corrupt in its indifference to questions of truth; I do not believe in it for a moment. But as a game, a set of jeux d'esprit, a way of having fun with words, I find it diverting and entertaining: I enjoy the absurd and the surreal, and postmodernism supplies this in ample measure. Postmodernist theory is much like postmodernist knitting. You begin to make a sock, but having turned the heel you continue with a neckband; then you add two (or three) arms of unequal length, and finish not by casting off but simply by removing the needles, so that the whole garment slowly unravels. Provided you don't want to wear a postmodern garment, nothing could be more entertaining. But when the knitter tells us that garments don't really exist anyway, we should probably suspend our belief in postmodernist theory, and get back to our socks."
— John Barton, Reading the Old Testament: Method in Biblical Study, 2nd ed, p. 235. (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1996) Quoted in What Did The Biblical Writers Know & When Did They Know It?, p. 254. (William G. Dever, Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, U.K.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001).


"Whilst Alexandria had become the world capital of thinkers, Rome was rapidly becoming the capital of thugs

"Rome was not the first state of organized gangsterdom; but it was the only one that managed to bamboozle posterity into an almost universal admiration."
—Petr Beckmann, A History of Pi, Saint Martin's, NY, 3rd edition, 1974. p. 55.


Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
— James Bovard


Politics: where fat, bald, disagreeable men, unable to be candidates themselves, teach a president how to act on a public stage.
— Jimmy Breslin


"Not very long after I had reached the Capital, I strolled into the Personal Bereavement Court. ... The next case was that of a youth hardly arrived at a man's estate, who was charged with having been swindled out of a large property during his minority by his guardian. ... The lad pleaded that he was young, inexperienced, greatly in awe of his guardians, and without independent professional advice.

"?Young man,' said the judge sternly, ?do not talk nonsense. People have no right to be young, inexperienced, greatly in awe of their guardians and without independent professional advice. If by such indiscretions they outrage the moral sense of their friends, they must expect to suffer accordingly.' He then ordered the prisoner to apologize to his guardian, and to receive twelve strokes with a cat-o'-nine tails."
— SAMUEL BUTLER, Erewhon, 1872. Quoted in The Trouble With Lawyers, by Murray Teigh Bloom, p. 264. Simon and Schuster, New York, 1968, 4th printing.

—— C ——     Top

"If God didn't mean for them to be sheared, He would not have made them sheep."
— Calvera, bandit leader in the 1960 western The Magnificent Seven. [Eli Wallach turned in a superb performance as Calvera. B.B.]


"It has been a favorite theory that the farmer should leave the after-management of his products to other classes of society, especially gifted by nature and qualified by special education and opportunities to deal with them to the best advantage for him and for themselves.

"We will judge the correctness of this principle by its results. The British "Fortnightly Review" thus clearly and impressively states the problem, as it looks from that point:

'In this complex industrial system, wealth has discovered the machinery by which the principal, in some cases the whole results of common labor becomes its special perquisites. Ten thousand miners delve and toil, giving their labor, risking their lives; ten masters give their direction, or their capital, oftenest only the latter. And in a generation the ten capitalists are rioting in vast fortunes, and the ten thousand workmen are rotting in their graves or in the workhouse. And yet the ten thousand were at least as necessary to the work as the ten. Yet more, the ten capitalists are practically the lawmakers, the magistrates, the government. The educators of the youth, the priests of all creeds, are their creatures. Practically they make and interpret the law -- the law of the land, the law of opinion, and the law of God. They are masters of the whole of the social forces. A convenient faith has been invented for them by moralists and economists, the only faith which in these days they at all believe in -- the faith that the good of mankind is somehow promoted by a persevering course of selfishness; that competition is, in fact, the whole duty of man. And thus it comes that in ten thousand ways the whole social force is directed for the benefit of those who have.' " — From THE PATRONS OF HUSBANDRY ON THE PACIFIC COAST 1875, by Ezra S. Carr, M.D., LL.D., late Professor of Agriculture in the University of California, and Past Master of Temescal Grange. P 412, Chapter XXIX, Banks and Money. [Printed on a single sheet of unknown origin. I probably got it at a demonstration somewhere.]


Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.
— Douglas Casey


"There are three stages in the life of a strong people. First it is a small power and fights small powers. Then it is a great power and fights great powers. Then it is a great power and fights small powers, but pretends that they are great powers, in order to rekindle the ashes of its ancient emotion and vanity." — G.K. Chesterton -- quoted in the National Catholic Reporter, February 28, 1992 p.16.


The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
— Winston Churchill


"When you preach hatred, you get a talk show. when you preach love, you get a yawn." — President Clinton, quoted in the Los Angeles Daily News, May 15, 1994.


"I love my country and I love the truth, and I always thought that the best thing about being an American is that you didn't have to choose." — Richard Cohen in The Patriotism Refuge, Washington Post National Weekly Edition, December 1-7, 2003, p. 26.


"Propaganda is the art of very nearly deceiving one's friends without quite deceiving one's enemies." — F. M. Cornford

—— The Campaign of the Century ——     Top

Upton Sinclair, the author of The Jungle and other muckraking books, ran as a Democrat for the governorship of California in the 1934 mid-term election. His campaign was called End Poverty In California (EPIC), and its basic plank was "production for use" as opposed to "production for profit." EPIC 's popularity in California threw the business community, and mainstream Democrats, into absolute panic.

All of the material in this section is from The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics, Gregg Mitchell, Random House, NY, 1992.

Page citations are as follows: CoC, p. 107. I try also to cite Mitchell's original sources as much as possible and convenient. My comments appear only in square brackets, thus: "[ ... ]"


In a typical critique, [author H.L.] Mencken had once called Sinclair an "incurable romantic, wholesale believer in the obviously not so. The man delights me constantly. His faith in the wisdom of the incurably imbecile, the virtue of the congenitally dishonest, the lofty idealism of the incorrigibly sordid, is genuinely affecting. I know of no one in all this vast paradise of credulity who gives a steadier and more heroic credit to the intrinsically preposterous." ... "He must suffer vicariously for all trhe carnal ease of the rest of us," Mencken observed many years ago. "He must die daily that we may live in peace, corrupt and contented." — CoC, pp. 9,10.


"Upton Sinclair is one of the American great. I have no words worthy of being laid before his courage, his passion, his integrity." Dorothy Parker, The New Yorker, December 10, 1927. — CoC, p. 107.


Across the bay, Joe Knowland's Oakland Tribune eagerly joined the battle against EPIC . Knowland had taken the extraordinary step of ordering his attorneys to research the question of how boldly the Tribune could lie about the EPIC candidate and legally get away with it. Citing a 1921 court ruling, the lawyers told Knowland that "misstatements of fact by newspapers are qualifiedly privileged when made on a matter of public concern .... when made without malice, with reason?able grounds of belief, and when not in excess of the occasion." — CoC, p. 226.


After studying up on the Liberty League and reading Herbert Hoover's new book, Will [Rogers] had decided what FDR should do to get the "old rich boys" off his back. He should invite all those fellows who extolled the value of "rugged individualism" down to the White House, and he should say to them, "Now, you blame your lack of present ruggedness on too much government supervision. Well, I?ll take the government right off you .... I'm also sending the Brain Trust back to college, and the whole thing goes into the hands of big business. So back to the old days, boys .... After one year of rugged individualism if there's not more people rugged than there is unrugged, why then—you lose!" — CoC, p. 266.


[Will] Rogers called the NRA [National Recovery Administration] "decency by government control," although he was suspicious of the Brain Trust gang and theorists in general. "I don?t know what additional authority Roosevelt may ask," he advised, "but give it to him, even if it's to drown all the boy babies, for the way the grown-up ones have acted he will be perfectly justified in drowning any new ones." — CoC, p. 317.


"It is common knowledge," Farley added, "that radio has revolutionized political campaigns. Millions may now be reached, compared with thousands of former days." In the old days, the political parties could easily mislead voters. Now, he pointed out, "it is comparatively easy to reach the whole electorate and to present the issues in a calm and dispassionate manner. Once the American people are in possession of all the facts the verdict will always be fair and just." — CoC, p. 345.


"Turner, forget it," Palmer replied. "We don't go in for that kind of crap you have back in New York — of being obliged to print both sides. We're going to beat this son of a bitch Sinclair any way we can," the curly-haired, bow-tied reporter explained. "We're going to kill him." — CoC, p.429.

[Los Angeles Times political editor Kyle Palmer to reporter Turner Catledge, newly arrived in Los Angeles to cover the campaign for the New York Times. Catledge could find no reference whatever to Upton Sinclair in the LA Times, so he asked Palmer if he knew where Sinclair was speaking that evening. For years, Kyle Palmer was considered to be the shadow governor of California. — B.B. ]


"I do not think vast aggregations of wealth are healthy. It breeds idiots, criminals, and morons, with few exceptions." Borah compared the Vanderbilt scandal to the fall of Rome. "They do not know how many millions the child has," he pointed out, "but one can only imagine how many other children there are, equally worthy, who have not a place where they can quietly lay their heads. With such conditions a country cannot long endure." Idaho Senator William Borah, New York Times, October 13, 1934. — CoC, p. 414. [Borah was commenting on the nasty custody battle being waged by the Vanderbilts over their 10-year-old daughter Gloria. See Galbraith below. — B.B.]


The California Supreme Court issued a writ this morning prohibiting the wholesale purging of registered voters in Los Angeles. "It is perfectly clear now that this action is a sham proceeding and a perversion of court process, absolutely void," Justice William Langdon com?mented, "and it can have no effect other than to intimidate and prevent eligible voters from going to the polls. It outrages every principle of justice and fair play." The vote-purge plan, endorsed by every prominent local and state Republican official as well as the president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, attempted to "abrogate and cut off" the constitutional rights of twenty-four thousand voters, Justice Langdon observed, without notification of any kind save for "publication of this mass of names without addresses and not even in alphabetical order, on a single occasion, in a newspaper of some fifteen hundred circulation."

Democrats hailed the decision, although one EPIC leader complained that the Merriamites had succeeded in planting the idea that a voter was liable to a penalty of seven years' imprisonment "if by any chance his right to vote is challenged." Actually there was every chance that would happen. .... Election officials and GOP activists would personally challenge 150,000 voters at the precinct level on November 6, the Merriamites promised, despite today's court ruling.
CoC, p. 476.

[I cannot resist suggesting that the Florida and National Republican campaign committees studied this history thoroughly in preparation for the 2000 Presidential election. — B.B.]


"I guess nobody'll go around anymore saying they are out to abolish poverty—it's too patently kicking out the props from under the capitalist system—It makes a pretty bunch of two timing jellyfish out of Farley/Roosevelt/Creel—swine I call 'em. AAA ought to pay mothers not to raise boys like that." [AAA: Agricultural Adjustment Administration] — CoC, p. 488.
[Author John Dos Passos to Edmund Wilson, on Sinclair's refusal to bow out of the campaign because of his declining chances of winning the election. — B.B.]


Then he threw down the gauntlet. Sinclair explained that he had argued long and hard with H.L. Mencken about the wisdom and true nature of "the people." For twenty-five years, Sinclair said, "I have been Mencken's prize boob because I believed in you. Now," he said, "we shall find out which of us is right." — CoC, p. 496.

[Sinclair at an EPIC election rally in Pasadena. Author and professional cynic H.L. Mencken referred to the middle class as "the Booboisie." — B.B.]


"To be brutally frank, somebody is going to hvae to supply the brains for the present governor of California. The old political maxim that you can't beat somebody with nothing was proved to be unsound in the recent election in California. Whoever undertakes to supply the brains will have a 365-day job each year." John Francis Neylan, top advisor to William Randolph Hearst, a major backer of the anti-Sinclair campaign.— CoC, p. 554

[Neylan is referring to Republican Frank Merriam, who won reelection against Sinclair in the 1934 election. The parallel to our current president, George W. Bush, is obvious. Bush's brains are supplied by Karl Rove. — B.B.]


Shortly after the election, at a Beverly Hills party hosted by two prominent liberals, Frederic March and his actress wife Florence Eldrige, several guests, including writer Kyle Crichton, railed against the studios' tactics in the campaign, including the Inquiring Cameraman films.

Suddenly, to everyone's surprise, [MGM mogul] Irving Thalberg quietly announced, "I made those shorts."

"But it was a dirty trick," Frederic March protested. "It was the damnedest unfair thing I've ever heard of."

"Nothing is unfair in politics," Thalberg replied, unperturbed. "We could sit here and figure dirty things all night, and every one of them would be all right in a political campaign."

"It wouldn't be all right with me," March maintained.

"Thats because you don't know politics," Thalberg answered. ... Fairness in an election, Thalberg advised, "is a contradiction in terms. It just doesn't exist." Kyle Crichton, Total Recoil, Doubleday, 1960. — CoC, p. 561.


"The average American doesn't want to be educated; he doesn't want to improve his mind; he doesn't even want to work, consciously, at being a good citizen. [But] most every American likes to be entertained. He likes the movies, he likes mysteries, he likes fireworks and parades. ... So, if you can't fight, PUT ON A SHOW!" Stanley Kelley Jr., Professional Public Relations and Political Power. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1956. — CoC, p. 570.     [The above quote was a "precept" of America's first political campaign management company, Whitaker&Baxter, which ran the anti-Sinclair campaign. "If you can't fight" referred to W&B's inability to find any positive qualities to promote in Sinclair's opponent, Republican incumbent Frank Merriam. — B.B.]


"This was a P.R. outfit that became president and took over the country."      Notes and Comment, The New Yorker, Nov. 7, 1988. — CoC, p. 580.    [A former Reagan deputy press secretary, referring to the election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980. — B.B.]

This ends the section on The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics, Gregg Mitchell, Random House, NY, 1992.

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"Tell them that we are deeply concerned about them, because a country that exports repression will one day unleash that repression against its own people. A nation that wages war against the poor in Nicaragua will ignore the needs of its own poor. A country which in the name of democracy fights wars against the self-determination of other peoples cannot remain a democracy. I have felt for a long time that the U.S. people will one day be the most repressed people in the world." — Nicaraguan Foreign Minister and Catholic Priest Miguel D'Escoto, in response to a question as to the message he would like a U.S delegation of peace activists to take home with them. Newsletter of the Southern California Interfaith Task Force on Central America, 4/14/89


"Here we may observe and I hope it will not be amiss to take notice of it that a near view of death would soon reconcile men of good principles one to another, and that it is chiefly owing to our easy situation in life and our putting these things far from us that our breaches are fomented, ill blood continued, prejudices, breach of charity and of Christian union, so much kept and so far carried on among us as it is. Another plague year would reconcile all these differences; a close conversing with death, or with diseases that threaten death, would scum off the gall from our tempers, remove the animosities among us, and bring us to see with differing eyes than those which we looked on things with before. As the people who had been used to join with the Church were reconciled at this time with the admitting the Dissenters to preach to them, so the Dissenters, who with an uncommon prejudice had broken off from the communion of the Church of England, were now content to come to their parish churches and to conform to the worship which they did not approve of before; but as the terror of the infection abated, those things all returned again to their less desirable channel and to the course they were in before.

"I mention this but historically. I have no mind to enter into arguments to move either or both sides to a more charitable compliance one with another. I do not see that it is probable such a discourse would be either suitable or successful; the breaches seem rather to widen, and tend to a widening further, than to closing, and who am I that I should think myself able to influence either one side or other? But this I may repeat again, that 'tis evident death will reconcile us all; on the other side the grave we shall be all brethren again. In heaven, whither I hope we may come from all parties and persuasions, we shall find neither prejudice or scruple; there we shall be of one principle and of one opinion. Why we cannot be content to go hand in hand to the place where we shall join heart and hand without the least hesitation, and with the most complete harmony and affection—I say, why we cannot do so here I can say nothing to, neither shall I say anything more of it but that it remains to be lamented."

—Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year, Dover Publications (NY, 2001), Page 132.

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"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security."
— Albert Einstein (Citation unk. This may have been part of his speech accepting the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics.)


"The need is not really for more brains, the need is now for a gentler, a more tolerant people than those who won for us against the ice, the tiger and the bear. The hand that hefted the ax, out of some old blind allegiance to the past fondles the machine gun as lovingly. It is a habit man will have to break to survive, but the roots go very deep.

"I once sat a prisoner, long ago, and watched a peasant soldier just recently equipped with a submachine gun swing the gun slowly into line with my body. It was a beautiful weapon and his finger toyed hesitantly with the trigger. Suddenly to possess all that power and then to be forbidden to use it must have been almost to much for the man to contain. I remember, also, a protesting female voice nearby--the eternal civilizing voice of women who know that men are fools and children, and irresponsible. Sheepishly the peon slowly dropped the gun muzzle away from my chest. The black eyes over the barrel looked out at me a little wicked, a little desirous of better understanding.

" 'Thompson, Tomé-son,' he repeated proudly, slapping the barrel. 'Tomé-son.' I nodded a little weakly, relaxing with a sigh. After all, we were men together and understood this great subject of destruction. And was I not a citizen of the country that had produced this wonderful mechanism? So I nodded again and said carefully after him. 'Thompson, Tomé-son. Bueno, si, muy bueno.' We looked at each other then, smiling a male smile that ran all the way back to the Ice Age. In academic halls since, considering the future of humanity, I have never been quite free of that soldier's smile. I weigh it mentally against the future whenever one of those delicate forgotten skulls is placed upon my desk." — Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey, p. 140-141. Vintage, 1957


"Propaganda is a set of methods employed by an organized group that wants to bring about the active or passive participation in its actions of a mass of individuals, psychologically unified through psychological manipulation and incorporated in an organization. (p. 61)


"But in order for propaganda to be so far-ranging, it must correspond to a need. The State has that need: Propaganda is obviously a necessary instrument for the State and the authorities. But while this fact may dispel the concept of the propagandist simply as an evil-doer, it still leaves the idea of propaganda as an active power vs. passive masses. And we insist that this idea, too, must be dispelled: For propaganda to succeed, it must correspond to a need for propaganda on the individual's part. One can lead a horse to water but cannot make him drink; one cannot reach through propaganda those who do not need what it offers. The propagandee is by no means just an innocent victim. He provides the psychological action of propaganda, and not merely leads himself to it, but even derives satisfaction from it. Without this previous, implicit consent, without this need for propaganda experienced by practically every citizen of the technological age, propaganda could not spread. There is not just a wicked propagandist at work who sets up means to ensnare the innocent citizen. Rather, there is a citizen who craves propaganda from the bottom of his being and a propagandist who responds to this craving. Propagandists would not exist without potential propagandees to begin with. To understand that propaganda is not just a deliberate and more or less arbitrary creation by some people in power is therefore essential. It is a strictly sociological phenomenon, in the sense that it has its roots and reasons in the need of the group that will sustain it." (p. 121) — Jacques Ellul, The Formation of Men's Attitudes. (I found this quote on the The German Propaganda Archive
— B.B.)

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"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


"The past is never dead; it is not even past." — Faulkner


"The rules of honorable engagement in political warfare ? that is, truthful claims, reliance on facts, and a recognition that ultimately, regardless of political affiliation, the common good is our goal ? have vanished and will not return again until enough of the populace demands them (or a daring politician gets some publicity for reinventing them). Congress, I fear, reflects the disengagement of the ordinary citizen. While Congress has earned the low regard in which it is held, those very citizens (ourselves) who allow its members to preen and bluster instead of honestly addressing problems are to blame."
— John Frohnmeyer, in Leaving Town Alive. Houghton Mifflin, New York, Boston, 1993, p.334. Frohnmeyer is a Republican, and was appointed Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts by President Geroge H.W. Bush in 1989. The book is about his battles with the religious right, which ultimately he lost.

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"People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, also called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged feel also that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right. The sensitivity to injustice felt by the poor is a trivial thing when compared with that of the rich." — John Kenneth Galbraith, The Age of Uncertainty, Houghton Mifflin 1977, P. 22.


“On many matters men sense that the underlying reasons for action are best concealed. Conscience is better served by a myth. And to persuade others one needs, first of all, to persuade one’s self. Myth has always been especially important where war was concerned. Men must have a fairly elevated motive for getting themselves killed. To die to protect or enhance the wealth, power or privilege of someone else, the most common reason for conflict over the centuries, lacks beauty.” — John Kenneth Galbraith, The Age of Uncertainty, Houghton Mifflin 1977, P. 111.


"Nothing so gives the illusion of intelligence as personal association with large sums of money. . . . The mergers, acquisitions, takeovers, leveraged buyouts, their presumed contribution to economic success and market values, and the burden of debt they incur are the current form of that illusion." — John Kenneth Galbraith, in "The 1929 Parallel," Atlantic Monthly, January, 1987. In a letter, L.A. Times, 4/27/89. [See Borah, in The Campaign of the Century, above. — B.B.]


Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups. — John Kenneth Galbraith


"The real success isn't a Republican re-election. The real success isn't even a balanced budget. The real success is no law. The real success is the morning we wake up on a Monday and no child has been killed anywhere in America that weekend, and every child is going to a school their parents think is worth attending, and across the country there is a smaller, more customer-friendly government doing what government should do, and every American has a chance to create a job or find a job, and across the planet freedom is winning and civility and decency are driving barbarism out of our lives." — Republican Newt Gingrich, newly elected House Majority Leader. Los Angeles Daily News, December 6, 1994, p. 14 NEWS.


"When one doesn't have the courage needed to be a pacifist, one's a warrior. The pacifist is always alone.

"The warrior is sure of being in agreement with most people. If it's a majority he wants, he can set his mind at ease, he's in it ... If, like everyone, he needs greatness, its in the mess that a greatness "in his own size" is found for him. Everything is prepared for him in advance. If a man trembles at the idea of one day surpassing Man, let him tremble no longer but become a warrior; or simpler still, just surrender and let himself go — he'll be set among the warriors as a matter of course ... The whole game of war is played out on the warrior's weakness ... The simple soldier: neither good nor bad, recruited into it because he's not against it. He'll suffer the warrior's lot there without causing trouble, until the day when, like Faulkner's hero, he discovers that anyone can stumble blindly into heroism by mistake, as easily as he can fall down a manhole left open in the middle of the sidewalk. It's absurd to claim that an army made up of millions of men is the personification of courage: that's the conclusion of a facile mind."
— Jean Giono (1895-1970) Preface to the Carnets de moleskine. Cited in The War Diaries, by Jean-Paul Sartre (Pantheon, 1984; Notebook 5, p.139)


"... the legislatures and executive powers of the government are compelled to listen to the demands of organized business interests. That they are not entirely controlled by these interests is due to the fact that business has not yet reached its full perfection." [Comment on the enthusiasm of a 1910 Bankers Magazine for the business financing of politics.]
"The Selling of Government Is a Scandal Beyond Reform," Richard N. Goodwin, Los Angeles Times January 30, 1997.


"Third, unless they're offered a quick war or a tax cut, Americans are cynical about Presidents and Congress."
— Columnist Sandy Grady, Los Angeles Daily News, November 17, 1993.


"The idea that the United States is a universal model has long been a feature of American civilization. ... Yet the claim of the United States to be a model for the world is accepted by no other country. The costs of American economic success include levels of social division — of crime, incarceration, racial and ethnic conflict and family and community breakdown — that no European or Asian culture will tolerate."
— John Gray, (1998) False Dawn: the Delusions of Global Capitalism, New York, New York Press, p. 216. Cited by Chalmers Johnson in Occasional Paper No. 22, Japan Policy Research Institute, August 2001.

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"It is a victory to me when a single voice breaks the moral suffocation and political silence of one's time. Some will say the effort is not realistic, not pragmatic. But realism has never achieved real reform, and pragmatism is not an end in itself."
— Tom Hayden, speaking of his decision to run against Kathleen Brown and John Garamendi for the Democratic nomination for Governor of California. Los Angeles Daily News, VIEWPOINT, 2/20/94.


"Clever men are the tools with which bad men work. The march of sophistry is devious: the march of power is one. Its means, its tools, its pretexts are various, and borrowed like the hues of the chameleon from any object that happens to be at hand. Its object is ever the same, and deadly as the serpent's fang. It moves on to its end with crested majesty: erect, silent, with eyes sunk and fixed, undiverted by fear, unabashed by shame; and puny orators and patriot mountebanks play tricks before it to amuse the crowd, till it crushes the world in its monstrous folds."    — William Hazlitt  (Cited by Alexander Cockburn, The Nation, May 2, 1987)


"The [US] media's feat in transforming the Salvadoran "security forces," aptly described as "a deranged killing machine," into "protectors of an incipient democracy" is, I believe, a propaganda achievement that totalitarian states might conceivably approach, but never surpass."   —   Edward S. Herman, Professor of Finance, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, in Covert Action Bulletin, Number 21 (Spring 1984) page 7, regarding the Salvadoran elections of 1984.


The following two quotes are from ON BENDED KNEE The Press and the Reagan Presidency, by Mark Hertsgaard. Schocken, 1989.

"Discussing why his newspaper had not followed up on its August 1985 revelation concerning White House aid to the contras, the former executive editor [Abe Rosenthal] concluded a voluble soliloquy with a piercing observation: ?For a paper with the resources and intelligence of the New York Times, there are no excuses. The only things there are, are values??what we think it's important to do.'" (P. 342)
"This [kid gloves treatment of President Reagan] was to be expected; after all, the press took its definition of what constituted political news from the political governing class in Washington. Thus, while the press shaped mass opinion, it reflected elite opinion; indeed, it effectively functioned as a mechanism by which the latter was transformed, albeit imperfectly, into the former. (P. 347.)


"I believe that the first step in European civilization was taken when Homo Sapiens discovered that it was easier to coerce a weaker, not so intelligent H.S. to wait on him, than to invent labor-saving devices for himself." Grace Burke Hubble, wife of astronomer Edwin Hubble. Quoted in Edwin Hubble, Mariner Of The Universe, by Gail Christianson. (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1995, p. 251.) [The Hubbles were extreme Anglophiles, and this was apparently a diary entry made while they were enjoying butler and maid service while staying at friends' house in London. — B.B.]

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"One of the most consistent reactions in politics is the unholy uproar that follows whenever you try to take away special privileges. Makes no difference how obvious the unfairness is, those who have been favored over others by the system inevitably feel entitled to that favoritism. It is theirs by right, by heritage, tradition, and divine providence, and if you try to take it away, you are in for the fight of your life. The underprivileged in this country can still raise a fair political stink on occasion, but it is nothing compared to the titanic stench that erupts when the overprivileged are invited onto a level playing field." — Molly Ivins, in Shrub, The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush.

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From an article by John Jacobs, Los Angeles Daily News, OPINIONS, November 23, 1993.

"Moreover, voters devote little attention to state politics and government even as they demand lots of services without wanting to pay for them. Then voters pass complicated initiatives—whether Propositions 13 or 98—that tie the hands of the Legislature or make achieving consensus difficult. When the predictable lack of results becomes clear, the voters get so mad they approve term limits to kick the bums out for good.

"[Pollster] Field said that only about 15 percent of the state pays attention to state politics. Another 10 percent to 15 percent pays attention occasionally. Of the rest who vote, most tune in only in the last few weeks of a campaign. According to polls he conducted in February 1992, only 28 percent of the voters could name their state senator, 21 percent their representative to the state Assembly.

"Process doesn't have much meaning to these people," Field said. "Problems get thornier and don't get fixed."


I am done with great things and big things, with great institutions and big success, and I am for those tiny, invisible moral forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet, if you give them time, will rend the hardest monuments of man's pride.
— William James.


"I hope we shall... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of our country.” — Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Logan. November 12, 1816.

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The gentle journey jars to stop,
The drifting dream is done,
The long-lost goblins loom ahead,
The deadly, that we thought were dead,
Stand waiting, every one. — Walt Kelly


Following are excerpts from the views of George F. Kennan, former Director of Policy Planning Studies, U.S. Department of State, writing in the TOP SECRET Review of Current Trends: U.S. Foreign Policy; PPS 23 [Policy Planning Study 23], February 24, 1948. [Source: Foreign Relations of the United States: 1948, I (part 2), 523-26]. Published in CONTAINMENT: Documents on American Policy and Strategy, 1945-1950. Thomas H. Etzold and John Lewis Gaddis, editors. Columbia University Press, New York, 1978.]

a. ...* "Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world's wealth, but only 6.3% of its population. ... In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction."

"In the face of this situation we would be better off to dispense now with a number of concepts which have underlined our thinking ... . We should dispense with the aspiration to "be liked," or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded altruism." ... We should cease to talk about vague and --...-- unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we will have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better."

"We should recognize that our influence ... in the coming period is going to be primarily military and economic. We should make a careful study to see what parts of the ... world are absolutely vital to our security, and we should concentrate our policy on seeing that those areas remain in hands which we control or rely on."

[* All ellipses above ("...") substitute for references to Asia, the Pacific Basin, and/or the Far East, the specific areas of Kennan's analysis. I consider that to include the original references to Asia and the Far East would divert attention from the global scope of Kennan's advice, and its application, so far as has been practicable, to the entire Third World. — B.B. October, 1987.

Now, after the fall of the Soviet Union, it is reasonable to understand the Kennan strategy as applying to the entire globe. Finally, it is irrelevant that most members of Congress or even most State Department or Pentagon officials may never have even heard of Kennan's advice. This has been the internalized approach to the world since the founding of the republic. Kennan merely articulated it overtly. — B.B. April, 2003.]


"When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession-as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life-will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to specialists in mental disease."
— John Maynard Keynes, Essays in Persuasion, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1932, p. 369.     Cited in John Kenneth Galbraith and His Critics, by Charles H. Hession; New York: The New American Library Inc./Mentor, 1972, p. 203

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"The democratic principle holds that the business of state can be conducted by ordinary men, subject to the ordinary failures of character as well as to the moments of ordinary courage and intelligence." (Lewis Lapham, Imperial Masquerade. Cited in Imperial Caddy, by Joe Queenan, Hyperion, 1992. P.192)


[Nationalism is] "the greatest of human misfortunes": "It lives in the shadows and only pretends to be based on love for one's country. But in fact it is spawned in malice and hatred for other nations and for those people in one's own nation who do not share these nationalistic views." — Russian historian Dmitri Likhachev, quoted in the book BLACK HUNDRED, by Walter Laqueur. Reviewed in the Christian Science Monitor, Wed., June 30, 1993, p.13


On all but a very few matters for short stretches in our lives, the utmost independence that we can exercise is to multiply the authorities to whom we give a friendly hearing. As congenital amateurs our quest for truth consists in stirring up the experts, and forcing them to answer any heresy that has the accent of conviction. In such a debate we can often judge who has won the dialectical victory, but we are virtually defenseless against a false premise that none of the debaters has challenged, or a neglected aspect that none of them has brought into the argument. — Walter Lippmann, in Public Opinion


On going thence round the end of the lake, we came to the village of Karambo, at the confluence of a large river, and the head man refused us a passage across. "Because," said he, "the Arabs have been fighting with the people west of us; and two of their people have since been killed, though only in search of ivory. You wish to go round by the west of the lake, and the people may suppose that you are Arabs; and I dare not allow you to run the risk of being killed by mistake." On [my] seeming to disbelieve, Karambo drew his finger across his throat, and said "If at any time you discover that I have spoken falsely, I give you leave to cut my throat."

That same afternoon two Arab slaves came to the village in search of ivory, and confirmed every word Karambo had spoken. Having previously been much plagued by fever, and without a particle of medicine, it may have been the irritability produced by that disease that made me so absurdly pigheaded in doubting the intentions of my really kind benefactors three several times.

The same cause may be in operation when modern travellers are unable to say a civil word about the natives; or if it must be admitted, for instance, that savages will seldom deceive you if placed on their honour, why must we turn up the whites of our eyes, and say it is an instance of the anomalous character of the Africans? Being heaps of anomalies ourselves, it would be just as easy to say that it is interesting to find other people like us. The tone which we modern travellers affect is that of infinite superiority, and it is utterly nauseous to see at every step our great and noble elevation cropping out in low cunning.
— David Livingstone, cited in How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa, by Henry M. Stanley. Dover, 2001, p. lxi.

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"Establishing a truly effective intelligence agency is no problem. The only problem is getting our leaders to want one, and that problem may be insurmountable."    — Ralph W. McGehee, in DEADLY DECEITS My 25 years in the CIA, Sheridan Square Publications, Inc., New York, October 1983. P. 195.


"Any competent manager of a destructive bureaucratic system can arrange his personnel so that only the most callous and obtuse are directly involved in violence. The greater part of the personnel can consist of men and women who, by virtue of their distance from the actual acts of brutality, will feel little strain in the performance of their supportive functions. They will feel doubly absolved from responsibility. First, legitimate authority has given full warrant for their actions. Second, they have not themselves committed brutal acts." — Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority, Harper & Row, 1974, 1975 Colophon edition, p.122.


"At every turn, it seems, power defaults to the haters." — Mickay Miller, San Francisco, CA. Letter-to-the-editor, The Progressive, June 1993. [Miller not a public person, to my knowledge. — B.B.]


"An honest man is not accountable for the vice and folly of his trade, and therefore ought not to refuse the exercise of it. It is the custom of his country, and there is profit in it. We must live in the world, and such as we find it, so make use of it." — Michel de Montaigne [I don't know whether this is Montaigne's personal opinion, or a comment by a character in one of his stories. — B.B.]


"One must deal with reality, and when doing so, one should not be overly concerned with moralistic concepts like fairness." — Ryohei Murata, quoted from his book Between Friends, in the Washington Post National Weekly Edition, Dec. 4-10, 1989, p. 19.


"Men are a problematic sex. We fight more, have more learning disabilities; then we hit puberty. At that point, if we have not had the civilizing--and I use the word advisedly--force of an adult male behaving responsibly in our lives, we're in big trouble." -- Charles Murray, fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, speaking at a Planned Parenthood symposium. Murray "opines that illegitimacy is at the root of all social problems facing the nation." Christian Science Monitor, May 27, 1994, p.7


"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism, because it is a merger of State and corporate power." — Benito Mussolini

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"Costly as the dispute over Iranian oil has been to all concerned, the affair may yet be proved worth-while if lessons are learned from it. Underdeveloped countries with rich resources now have an object lesson in the heavy cost that must be paid by one of their number which goes berserk with fanatical nationalism. It is perhaps too much to hope that Iran's experience will prevent the rise of Mossadeghs in other countries, but that experience may at least strengthen the hands of more reasonable and more far-seeing leaders."
THE IRANIAN ACCORD, Editorial, New York Times. August 6,1954.

[ In this bald-faced paean to U.S. imperialist policy, the New York Times refers to the final agreement for the carving up of Iran's oil resources by the U.S., Britian, and other European nations.

In 1953, under president Dwight D. Eisenhower, the CIA successfully overthrew Iran's popularly elected, and phenomenally popular prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. [This first, large-scale CIA effort to topple a foreign government was code-named Operation Ajax.]

Mossadegh's sin was to try to wrest control of Iran's oil resources from the British, for the benefit of the seriously exploited Iranian people. The U.S. restored Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi to the throne, and the Shah proved to be as modern, and as brutal in suppressing popular nationalist sentiment, as U.S. and Britain oil interests hoped he would be.

In his masterful book on the overthrow of Mossadegh, the Times's own star foreign correspondent, Stephen Kinzer, reveals the irony of the New York Times 1954 opinion: "It is not farfetched to draw a line from Operation Ajax through the Shah?s repressive regime and the Islamic Revolution to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York."

In early March 1992, a Pentagon report revealed that U.S. policy had not changed a whit. One of the self-perceived "American missions," was to prevent the nations of the world from pursuing "a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests."
Los Angeles Daily News, March 8, 1992.]


"All people have a train of thought on which they ride when they are alone. The dignity and nobility of our lives, as well as our happiness depends upon the directions in which that train is going, the baggage it carries, and the scenery through which it travels. — J.F. Newton

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"One of the most extraordinary things about England is that there is almost no official censorship, yet nothing that is actually offensive to the governing classes gets into print, at least in any place where large numbers of people are likely to read it. If it is "not done" to mention something or other, it just doesn't get mentioned. The position is summed up by (I think) Hillaire Belloc:

You cannot hope to bribe or twist
Thank God! The British journalist:
But seeing what the man will do
Unbribed, there is no reason to.'"

— George Orwell. Cited in ON BENDED KNEE The Press and the Reagan Presidency, by Mark Hertsgaard. Schocken, 1989. P. 2.


"Yet if one looks closely one sees that there is no essential difference between a beggar's livelihood and that of numberless respectable people. Beggars do not work, it is said, but, then, what is work? A navvy works by swinging a pick. An accountant works by adding up figures. A beggar works by standing out of doors in all weathers and getting varicose veins, chronic bronchitis, etc. It is a trade like any other; quite useless, of course--but, then, many reputable trades are quite useless. And as a social type a beggar compares quite well with scores of others. He is honest compared with the sellers of most patent medicines, high-minded compared with a Sunday newspaper proprietor, amiable compared with a hire-purchase tout--in short, a parasite, but a fairly harmless parasite. He seldom extracts more than a bare living from the community, and, what should justify him according to our ethical ideas, he pays for it over and over in suffering. I do not think there is anything about a beggar that sets him in a different class from other people, or gives most modern men the right to despise him.

"Then the question arises, Why are beggars despised?—for they are despised, universally. I believe it is for the simple reason that they fail to earn a decent living. In practice nobody cares whether work is useful or useless, productive or parasitic; the sole thing demanded is that it shall be profitable. In all the modern talk about energy, efficiency, social service and the rest of it, what meaning is there except "Get money, get it legally, and get a lot of it?" Money has become the grand test of virtue. By this test beggars fail, and for that they are despised. If one could earn even ten pounds a week at begging, it would become a respectable profession immediately. A beggar, looked at realistically, is simply a business man, getting his living, like other business men, in the way that comes to hand. He has not, more than most modern people, sold his honour; he has merely chosen a trade at which it is impossible to grow rich." — George Orwell, DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON; Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1961, p. 173)


"The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue. And then when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right."
— George Orwell (From "Remarks as delivered by former Vice President Al Gore Gaston Hall at Georgetown University Monday, October 18, 2004")

[Similar in effect to Orwell's observation is a comment I received by e-mail from a friend not long ago, referring to a right-wing Republican acquaintance who denied that global warming was real: "If D. ever buys into global warming as a phenomena that man is responsible for" wrote my friend, "(I'm about 99.9% sure that'll never happen), he'll claim that the democrats have found some way to manipulate the climate to support their argument." — B.B.]


"At 50, everyone has the face he deserves." — George Orwell


"The two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought."

"All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working hours or shorter rations."

"They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening."

"The capitalists owned everything in the world, and everyone else was their slave. They owned all the land, all the houses, all the factories, and all the money. If anyone disobeyed them they could throw him into prison, or they could take his job away and starve him to death. When any ordinary person spoke to a capitalist he had to cringe and bow to him, and take off his cap and address him as 'Sir.'"
— George Orwell, 1984    Cited by Michael Moore, Stupid White Men (I think)


"It's not a matter of whether the war is not real or if it is. Victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous. A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past, and no different past can ever have existed. In principle, the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects. And its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or east Asia but to keep the very structure of society intact."
— George Orwell. Cited by Michael Moore in Farenheit 9/11.


"Never again is not the message that we got from the Holocaust. The message we got is that the Holocaust will replicate itself. What was acceptable once will be acceptable again" — Cynthia Ozick, cited by Linda Ellerbee in a discussion following an episode of the KCET/BBC series Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State.

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"What now remains of the formerly rich land is like the skeleton of a sick man. ...Formerly, many of the mountains were arable. The plains that were full of rich soil are now marshes. Hills that were once covered with forests and produced abundant pasture now produce only food for bees. Once the land was enriched by yearly rains, which were not lost, as they are now, by flowing from the bare land into the sea. The soil was deep, it absorbed and kept the water in loamy soil, and the water that soaked into the hills fed springs and running streams everywhere. Now the abandoned shrines at spots where formerly there were springs attest that our description of the land is true." — Plato — (Cited in The Oil We Eat, by Richard Manning. Harpers Magazine, February, 2004, p. 37.)

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"We've talked a lot about how you entice the middle or upper classes into [Southern California], but we sort of ignored the poor classes. We need them ... if you just look at it very selfishly and pragmatically, to support our wonderful ways of life.

"And yet ... they're increasing the population at a more dramatic rate than the yuppies and are having children, and you project that over 20 years, it's just going to be incredibly dramatic." — Los Angeles businessman Richard Riordan, at a Los Angeles Daily News Economic Outlook Conference, December 1988. Reported in the Daily News Business Section, p.1., July 4, 1993, by Associate Business editor Mark Lacter, who recalled Riordan's remark. In 1993, Riordan was Mayor of Los Angles.

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"Nothing--not even wild beasts or microbes--could be more terrifying for man than a species which is intelligent, carnivorous and cruel, and which can understand and outwit human intelligence, and whose aim is precisely the destruction of man. This, however, is precisely our own species as perceived in others by each of its members in the context of scarcity." — Jean Paul Sartre, Critique of Dialectical Reason, p. 132. NLB, 1976. NLB, 7 Carlisle Street, London, W1


"Finally, as we pointed out earlier, each person is an absolute choice of self from the standpoint of a world of knowledges and of techniques which this choice both assumes and illumines; each person is an absolute upsurge at an absolute date and is perfectly unthinkable at another date. It is therefore a waste of time to ask what I would have been if this war had not broken out, for I have chosen myself as one of the possible meanings of the epoch which imperceptibly led to war. I am not distinct from this epoch; I could not be transported to another epoch without contradiction. Thus I am this war which restricts and limits and makes comprehensible the period which preceded it. In this sense we may define more precisely [our] responsibility if to the earlier quoted statement 'There are no innocent victims,' we add the words, 'We have the war we deserve.'" — Jean Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions, Philosophical Library, 1957, p


"We do not all start life on an even playing field, but the rules are that you play by the rules of honesty and ethics." — Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking as a panel member on the PBS program "Ethics in America," March/April, 1989. (L.A. channel 28, segment 1, "Do unto others.")

[After hearing this fatuous statement, I have often imagined a debate between the good judge and Eddie, the homeless man who panhandled daily on the downtown sidewalks in front of the City of Los Angeles offices where I worked through the 80s and 90s.

As did most of his fellow panhandlers, Eddie pushed his worldly belongings in front of him in a shopping cart; at some time stolen from a supermarket parking lot. I imagined Scalia remonstrating with Eddie about his [Eddie's] moral failings: either stealing the cart himself; receiving stolen goods if he did not steal it himself; being a bad role model for younger homeless panhandlers.

If the supermarket identifying placard was still attached, Scalia would of course threaten Eddie with jail time if he didn't immediately return it to its rightful owner. — B.B.]


"Only at quite rare moments have I felt really glad to be alive. I could not but feel with a sympathy full of regret all the pain I felt around me, not only that of men, but of the whole creation." — Albert Schweitzer, quoted in The Religions of Man, by Houston Smith, Harper and Row, 1986, p. 150.


"Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power." — George Bernard Shaw


"But my conscience is the genuine pulpit article: it annoys me to see people comfortable when they ought to be uncomfortable; and I insist on making them think in order to bring them to a conviction of sin. If you don't like my preaching you must lump it. I really cannot help it.

"We must either breed political capacity or be ruined by Democracy, which was forced on us by the failure of the older alternatives. Yet if Despotism failed only for want of a capable benevolent despot, what chance has Democracy, which requires a whole population of capable voters: that is, of political critics who, if they cannot govern in person for lack of spare energy or specific talent for administration, can at least recognize and appreciate capacity and benevolence in others, and so govern through capably benevolent representatives? Where are such voters to be found today? Nowhere."


"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. And also the only real tragedy in life is the being used by personally minded men for purposes you recognize to be base. All the rest is at worst mere misfortune or mortality: this alone is misery, slavery, hell on earth; and the revolt against it is the only force that offers a man's work to the poor artist, whom our personally minded rich people would so willingly employ as pandar, buffoon, beauty monger, sentimentalizer and the like." — George Bernard Shaw, To Arthur Bingham Walkley, Epistle Dedicatory to Man and Superman


A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
— George Bernard Shaw


"I believe that if we had and would keep our dirty, bloody, dollar-soaked fingers out of the business of these nations so full of depressed, exploited people, they will arrive at a solution of their own ... and if unfortunately their revolution must be of the violent type, because the 'haves' refuse to share with the 'have-nots' by any peaceful method, at least what they get will be their own, and not the American style, which they don't want and above all don't want crammed down their throat by Americans." — General David M. Shoup, Commander of U.S. Marines, Congressional Medal of Honor winner WWII. May 14, 1966.


"If men really disapproved of war, dear, we'd have stopped war years ago. Men like war. Always have." — Adela Rogers St. Johns, interviewed by Warren Beatty for the Special Features section of the DVD release of his 1981 film Reds.


From The Decline Of The West, by Oswald Spengler. (Abridged edition, Oxford, 1991.)

"And as for the modern press, the sentimentalist may beam with contentment when it is constitutionally 'free' — the realist merely asks at whose disposal it is." (P. 388)

"... ?contemporary' English-American politics have created through the press a force field of world-wide intellectual and financial tensions in which every individual unconsciously takes up the place allotted to him, so that he must think, will, and act as a ruling personality somewhere or other in the distance thinks fit.' (P. 394)

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"I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." — Leo Tolstoy, cited in CHAOS, by James Gleick; p. 38. (Penguin, 1987)

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"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." — Voltaire

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"Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you dream of.
— Alice Walker.


"the policy of isolation is dead. ... A new consciousness seems to have come upon us--the consciousness of strength, and with it a new appetite, a yearning to show our strength. ... Ambition, interest, land hunger, pride, the mere joy of fighting, whatever it may be, we are animated by a new sensation. ... The taste of empire is in the mouth of the people, even as the taste of blood in the jungle." — An Imperial Policy, Washington Post editorial, 3 Jun 1898.


We may hence quote here a passage from [the founder of Methodism] John Wesley himself which might well serve as a motto for everything which has been said above. For it shows that the leaders of these ascetic movements understood the seemingly paradoxical relationships which we have here analysed perfectly well, and in the same sense that we have given them. He wrote:

"I fear, wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of true religion to continue long. For religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches. How then is it possible that Methodism, that is, a religion of the heart, though it flourishes now as a green bay tree, should continue in this state? For the Methodists in every place grow diligent and frugal; consequently they increase in goods. Hence they proportionately increase in pride, in anger, in the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life. So, although the form of religion remains, the spirit is swiftly vanishing away. Is there no way to prevent this—this continual decay of pure religion? We ought not to prevent people from being diligent and frugal; we must exhort all Christians to gain all they can, and to save all they can; that is, in effect, to grow rich."

There follows the advice that those who gain all they can and save all they can should also give all they can, so that they will grow in grace and lay up a treasure in heaven. It is clear that Wesley here expresses, even in detail, just what we have been trying to point out.

From The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, by Max Weber. The Scribner Library, 1958, pp. 175-176.


"What we have to discuss is, not wrongs which individuals intentionally do - I do not believe there are a great many of those - but the wrongs of a system. ... The truth is, we are all caught up in a great economic system which is heartless."
— Woodrow Wilson

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To A Friend Whose Work Has Come To Nothing
by William Butler Yeats (1914)

Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honour bred, with one
Who, were it proved he lies,
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbours' eyes?
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult

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—— Unattributed ——     Top

Live simply that others may simply live.


"When I see a tree, I see toothpicks. Liberals and environmentalists are not Americans; never were Americans; and will never be Americans." [I lost my reference to this. I think it is from a U.S. Senator speaking to an industry group.]


"If you are not left-wing at 20, you have no heart; if you are still left-wing at 40, you have no head."


"Once they are allowed to come up to an equal level, nobody will go into the fields. Fields will be left uncultivated everywhere. We have to keep them under our strong thumb in order to get work done." Indian owner of bonded child labor, quoted in The State of the World's Children. (UNICEF, 1997, p. 27.)


"There are no ends, there are only means." [This, in effect, is a paraphrase of the Alice Walker quote above. I read it as attributed to Camus, but am not sure of that.]


"The first test of intelligence is the ability to distinguish between dissimilars." [Refined version of knowing the difference between shit and Shinola. I think I read it in Bernard Shaw, but don't quote me on that. Interestingly, we can accuse an opponent of not knowing shit from Shinola without causing great offense, but we cannot seriously suggest that our opponent is stupid. Being called stupid by someone who truly means it is one of the worst things we can hear, because we can never be really sure that he or she is not right. — B.B.]

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