Learn From Those Who Came Before Us: Political Words to Live By
(Arranged in alphabetical order, by author, when known)
"I cannot accept, your canon that we are to judge pope and king unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they do no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way against holders of power ... Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."--Lord Acton
"The major problem - one of the major problems, for there are several - one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
To summarize: it is a well known fact, that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.
And so this is the situation we find: a succession of Galactic Presidents who so much enjoy the fun and palaver of being in power that they very rarely notice that they're not.
And somewhere in the shadows behind them - who?
Who can possibly rule if no one who wants to do it can be allowed to?"--Douglas Adams, from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it."--John Adams
"If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin."--Samuel Adams
"The candidates that can't face Fox News can't face Al Qaeda."--Roger Ailes, on the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates refusing to appear on his network.
"There are some ideas so stupid that only intellectuals can believe in them, particularly left-wing intellectuals."--Poul Anderson
"To the size of the state there is a limit, as there is to plants, animals and implements, for none of these retain their facility when they are too large."--Aristotle
"Three groups spend other people's money: children, thieves, politicians. All three need supervision."--Dick Armey
"Human law cannot punish or forbid all evil, since while doing away with evils it would do away with many good things, which would hinder the advance of the common good."--St. Augustine of Hippo
"No nation has ever gotten rich by forcing its citizens to pay more for domestic goods and services that could have been procured more cheaply abroad."--Bruce Barlett, columnist
"The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else."--Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850), a famous French liberal
"Washington is Hollywood for ugly people."--Paul Begala, Democratic political strategist
"Politics is like sausages, you don't want to watch either being made."--Otto von Bismarck
"God has a special providence for fools, drunks, children and the United States of America."--Otto von Bismarck
"Tax cuts are temporary, tax increases are permanent."--Neal Boortz
"How many Catholic schools do you think teach the students to question the authority of the Pope? Do you believe Christian schools teach students to question or challenge the authority of Jesus Christ? Do military schools teach the cadets to challenge the authority of superior officers? Well, why should we then expect government schools to teach children to question the authority of government?"--Neal Boortz
"News is the first rough draft of history."--Ben Bradlee
"Anybody that wants the Presidency so much that he'll spend two years organizing and campaigning for it is not to be trusted with the office."--David Broder
"Too bad all the people who know how to run this country are busy running taxicabs or cutting hair."--George Burns
"Stripped of all its covering, the naked question is, whether ours is a federal or consolidated government; a constitutional or absolute one; a government resting solidly on the basis of the sovereignty of the States, or on the unrestrained will of a majority; a form of government, as in all other unlimited ones, in which injustice, violence, and force must ultimately prevail."--John C. Calhoun
"De higher de monkey he climb, de mo' he show he behind."--Caribbean proverb
"Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries."--Douglas Casey, classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University
"It has been left to the very latest Modernists to proclaim an erotic religion which at once exalts lust and forbids fertility . . . The next great heresy is going to be simply an attack on morality and especially sexual morality . . . The madness of tomorrow is not in Moscow but in Manhattan."--G. K. Chesterton, from "The Well and the Shallows", 1935 (Boy, was he ahead of his time!)
"Private capitalism makes a steam engine; State capitalism makes pyramids."--Frank Chodorov, American author (1887-1966)
"A bureaucrat is the most despicable of men, though he is needed as vultures are needed, but one hardly admires vultures whom bureaucrats so strangely resemble. I have yet to meet a bureaucrat who was not petty, dull, almost witless, crafty or stupid, an oppressor or a thief, a holder of little authority in which he delights, as a boy delights in possessing a vicious dog. Who can trust such creatures?"--Marcus Tullius Cicero
"Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and gave him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the 'new, wonderful good society' which shall now be Rome, interpreted to mean 'more money, more ease, more security, more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.'"--Marcus Tullius Cicero
"When a distinguished but elderly statesman states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong."--Sir Arthur C. Clarke
"Liberals don't have to emerge from the hot tub and start attending NASCAR races or -- God forbid -- church, but it would be nice if they'd stop lying all the time."--Ann Coulter
"The beauty of being a liberal is that history always begins this morning. Every day liberals can create a new narrative that destroys the past as it occurred. We have always been at war with Eastasia."--Ann Coulter
"There is no such crime as a crime of thought; there are only crimes of action."--Clarence S. Darrow
"It is better, so the Fourth Amendment teaches us, that the guilty sometimes go free than the citizens be subject to easy arrest."--Justice William O. Douglas
"In dealing with the State, we ought to remember that its institutions are not aboriginal, though they existed before we were born; that they are not superior to the citizen; that every one of them was once the act of a single man; every law and usage was a man's expedient to meet a particular case; that they all are imitable, all alterable; we may make as good; we may make better."--Ralph Waldo Emerson
"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it."--Benjamin Franklin
"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand."--Milton Friedman
"A society that puts equality ... ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom."--Milton Friedman
"Our Constitution is in actual operation; everything appears to promise that it will last; but in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes."--Benjamin Franklin
"At one time slavery was in the mainstream, thinking the sun orbited the earth was in the mainstream, having your blood sucked out by leeches was in the mainstream. What's so great about being in the mainstream?"--the Global Language Monitor, on the use of the term "out of the mainstream" to describe the ideology of any political opponent
"A man cannot govern a nation if he cannot govern a city,
he cannot govern a city if he cannot govern a family,
he cannot govern a family unless he can govern himself,
and he cannot govern himself unless his passions are subject to reason."--Hugo Grotius (Dutch jurist and statesman), 1656
"If it be asked, What is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of our security in a Republic? The answer would be, An inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws."--Alexander Hamilton
"An elephant is a mouse built to government specifications."--Lazarus Long, a character from the stories of Robert A. Heinlein
"It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics."--Robert A. Heinlein
"Limiting the freedom of news ‘just a little bit’ is in the same category within the classic example ‘a little bit pregnant’."--Robert A. Heinlein
"‘Bread and Circuses’ is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the Plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader - the barbarians enter Rome. . . . Mine was a lovely world till the parasites took over."--Robert Heinlein
"There seems to have been an actual decline in rational thinking. The United States had become a place where entertainers and professional athletes were mistaken for people of importance. They were idolized and treated as leaders; their opinions were sought on everything and they took themselves just as seriously--after all, if an athlete is paid a million or more a year, he knows he is important ... so his opinions of foreign affairs and domestic policies must be important, too, even though he proves himself to be ignorant and sub-literate every time he/she opens his/her mouth."--Robert A. Heinlein
"Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true."--Eric Hoffer
"Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket."--Eric Hoffer (Alas, in my lifetime I have seen both the Democratic and Republican Parties go from the business to the racket stages.--CK)
"To err is human. To blame someone else is politics."--Hubert H. Humphrey
"The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously."--Hubert H. Humphrey
"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."--John F. Kennedy
"We can't expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism."--Nikita Khrushchev
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." --C. S. Lewis
"If by the mere force of numbers a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written constitutional right, it might, in a moral point of view, justify revolution."--Abraham Lincoln
"A legislative act contrary to the Constitution is not law."--Justice John Marshall
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies."--American comedian Groucho Marx
"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."--H. L. Mencken
"Do you think our Founding Fathers would have put up with any of this ****? They were blowing people's heads off because they put a tax on their breakfast beverage. And it wasn't even coffee."--Dennis Miller
"Liberalism is like a nude beach. It sounds good until you actually get there ... lotta cankles, lotta cellulite."--Dennis Miller, 01/11/2016
Murphy's Law on "isms":
You can't win.
You can't break even.
You can't even quit the game.
Every political/economic philosophy is based on some assumption.
Capitalism is based on the assumption that you can win.
Socialism is based on the assumption that you can break even.
Mysticism is based on the assumption that you can quit the game.
"Nothing is more pitiful or more funny than a flock of repentant politicians in full flight."--Representative David R. Obey (D-WI)
"O'Sullivan's First Law: All organizations that are not actually right wing will over time become left wing."--John O'Sullivan, columnist and former editor of National Review. Examples of organizations whose agendas have gradually gotten more leftist include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Boy Scouts, the Ford Foundation, the League of Women Voters, the YWCA, UNESCO, UNICEF, Planned Parenthood, the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches, the National Football League, Canada and most of Europe.
"The American constitutions were to liberty, what a grammar is to language: they define its parts of speech and practically construct them into syntax."--Thomas Paine
"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you."--Pericles (430 B.C.)
"Government is like Kudzu: if you let it go it will grow everywhere, and there ain't no way to get rid of it."--Earl Pitts, humorist
"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."--Ronald Reagan (1986)
"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have."--Ronald Reagan
"Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: 'We the people.' 'We the people' tell the government what to do, it doesn't tell us. 'We the people' are the driver, the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world's constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which 'We the people' tell the government what it is allowed to do. 'We the people' are free. This belief has been the underlying basis for everything I've tried to do these past eight years."--Ronald Reagan
"The economic welfare of all our people must ultimately stem not from government programs, but from the wealth created by a vigorous private sector."--Ronald Reagan
"The first Republican I knew was my father. He joined our party because the Democrats in Jim Crow Alabama in 1952 would not register him to vote. The Republicans did. I joined for different reasons. I found a party that sees me as an individual, not as part of a group. I found a party that puts family first. I found a party that has love of liberty as its core. And I found a party that believes that peace begins with strength."--Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice
"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."--Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005)
"A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul."--George Bernard Shaw
"When men have no wealth at all, they live by their brawn;
when they have a little, they struggle to get ahead by their brains;
and when they already have plenty of money, they look for an opportunity for a good investment.
This in general is the way things work."--Sima Qian (China's first historian), 2nd century B.C.
"One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain."--Thomas Sowell
"The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools."--Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)
"I find Paul appealing and Peale appalling."--Adlai Stevenson, comparing the apostle Paul with Norman Vincent Peale, after learning that Peale had declared him unfit to be president.
"Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."--Joseph Stalin (We certainly saw this in the 2000 presidential election!)
"The problem with socialism is that, eventually, you run out of other peoples’ money."--Margaret Thatcher
"If you are guided by opinion polls, you are not practicing leadership -- you are practicing followship."--Margaret Thatcher
"Don't worry. After all, twice in this century we beat them at their national game."--Margaret Thatcher, after Germany beat England in a major soccer game.
"My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference."--Harry S Truman
"When the chess game is over, kings and pawns go back in the same box."--Unknown
"Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."--Unknown
"When you are down in the dumps and think you have real PROBLEMS, just remember: SOMEWHERE in this world, there is a Mr. Pelosi."--Unknown
"In general the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to the other."--Voltaire
"There is [a] class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs -- partly because they want sympathy, and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs. . . . There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don't want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public."--Booker T. Washington, 1911 (do you suppose anyone is doing that today?).
"I apprehend no danger to our country from a foreign foe . . . Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence, I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing. Make them intelligent, and they will be vigilant; give them the means of detecting the wrong, and they will apply the remedy."--Daniel Webster, 1834
"The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire, the United Nations is a disunited collection of regimes, many of which do not represent the nations they govern."--George Will
"There are only two (major) parties today: The Stupid Party and the Evil Party. Once in a while the two parties get together to do something that is both stupid and evil, and that's called Bipartisanship."--Thomas Woods (compare this with the above quote from Eric Hoffer)
"The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally."--Salena Zito of The New York Post, describing President Trump
Winston Churchill Quotes
As with Mark Twain in Chapter 1, Sir Winston Churchill has spoken or written many lines that deserve special attention.
"Democracy is the worst system devised by the wit of man, except for all the others."
"No people respond more spontaneously to fair play. If you treat Americans well, they always want to treat you better."
"We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle."
"If you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart, and if you're not a conservative at 40, you have no head."
"If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."
"So they [the Government] go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent."
"The Americans will always do the right thing--after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives."
"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries."
"I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."
Thomas Jefferson Quotes
John F. Kennedy once said to a assembled group of scholars in the White House, "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House - with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." It amazes me how many things Jefferson wrote and said, that are still relevant today.
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be."
"The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."
"When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe."
"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."
"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world."
"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."
"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government."
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."
"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."
"Banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."
"To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."
P. J. O'Rourke Quotes
And we'll wrap up with some choice bits from P. J. O'Rourke.
"You say we [reporters] are distracting from the business of government. Well, I hope so. Distracting a politician from governing is like distracting a bear from eating your baby."
"Freedom is not empowerment. Empowerment is what the Serbs have in Bosnia. Anybody can grab a gun and be empowered. It's not entitlement. An entitlement is what people on welfare get, and how free are they? It's not an endlessly expanding list of rights -- the 'right' to education, the 'right' to food and housing. That's not freedom, that's dependency. Those aren't rights, those are the rations of slavery -- hay and a barn for human cattle.
There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences."
"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."
"Government does not cause affluence. Citizens of totalitarian countries have plenty of government and nothing of anything else."
"When a government controls both the economic power of individuals and the coercive power of the state ... this violates a fundamental rule of happy living: Never let the people with all the money and the people with all the guns be the same people."
"Now majority rule is a precious, sacred thing worth dying for. But, like other precious, sacred things, it’s not only worth dying for, it can make you wish you were dead. Imagine if all life were determined by majority rule. Every meal would be a pizza."
"The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop."
"When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators."
"Liberalism is just Communism sold by the drink."
"The U.S. Constitution is less than a quarter the length of the owner's manual for a 1998 Toyota Camry, and yet it has managed to keep 300 million of the world's most unruly, passionate and energetic people safe, prosperous and free."