Friday, September 28, 2007

So This Is _Normal_ To Them

Forty percent of Americans have never lived when there wasn't a Bush or a Clinton in the White House, as president or vice president.

-- Associated Press, 28 September 2007

So the government as it currently exists is _normal_ to them.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

If You Have To Be In A Soap Opera

If you have to be in a soap opera, try not to get the worst role.

-- Boy George

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Counsel Of Our Fears

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell: What is the greatest threat facing us now? People will say it's terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what is the great threat we are facing?

I would approach this differently, in almost Marshall-like terms. What are the great opportunities out there\u2014ones that we can take advantage of? It should not be just about creating alliances to deal with a guy in a cave in Pakistan. It should be about how do we create institutions that keep the world moving down a path of wealth creation, of increasing respect for human rights, creating democratic institutions, and increasing the efficiency and power of market economies? This is perhaps the most effective way to go after terrorists.

Interviewer: So you think we are getting too hunkered down and scared?

Powell: Yes! We are taking too much counsel of our fears.

This doesn't mean there isn't a terrorist threat. There is a threat. And we should send in military forces when we have a target to deal with. We should also secure our airports, if that makes us safer. But let's welcome every foreign student we can get our hands on. Let's make sure that foreigners come to the Mayo Clinic here, and not the Mayo facility in Dubai or somewhere else. Let's make sure people come to Disney World and not throw them up against the wall in Orlando simply because they have a Muslim name. Let's also remember that this country was created by immigrants and thrives as a result of immigration, and we need a sound immigration policy.

Let's show the world a face of openness and what a democratic system can do. That's why I want to see Guantanamo closed. It's so harmful to what we stand for. We literally bang ourselves in the head by having that place. What are we doing this to ourselves for? Because we're worried about the 380 guys there? Bring them here! Give them lawyers and habeas corpus. We can deal with them. We are paying a price when the rest of the world sees an America that seems to be afraid and is not the America they remember.

-- Colin Powell in GQ Magazine, October 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Marcel Marceau

Do not the most moving moments of our lives find us all without words?

-- Marcel Marceau (March 22, 1923 - September 22, 2007) The Reader's Digest (June 1958)

Monday, September 24, 2007

What Everyone Knows

I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.

-- Former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan; cited in Katrina Vanden Heuvel, "Greenspan, Iraq & Oil" (Nation, September 15, 2007)

Friday, September 21, 2007

By The Numbers

The new Forbes 400, by the numbers --

Oldest member : John Simplot, 98
Youngest member : John Arnold, 33
Average age : 65
Number never married: 11
Avg number of kids : 3.2
Minimum net worth : $1.3 Billion
Average net worth : $3.8 Billion
Collective net worth: $1.54 Trillion
Entirely self-made : 270
Entirely inherited : 74
Number of women : 39
California residents: 88
New York residents : 73
NY City residents : 64

Number of billionaires with not enough money to make the list : 84

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Planet Bush

The president can make things true simply by solemnly pronouncing them from the Oval Office. He can reach out to his critics just by saying he is doing so. And people believe him. But over here in the real world, things are different. Iraq is mostly ruled by armed gangs, not a central government. American troops are dying in the crossfire as the country continues to violently disintegrate along ethnic and sectarian lines. We're in it pretty much alone. There's no end in sight. And the real al Qaeda is regrouping in Pakistan.

-- Dan Froomkin, "It Came From Planet Bush", Washington Post, September 14, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Good Intentions

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.

-- Daniel Webster

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Origin Of Myths

If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way.

-- Bertrand Russell

Monday, September 17, 2007

Front, Back

If a bullet went through the back of the head, it's sectarian. If it went through the front, it's criminal.

-- An intelligence analyst, regarding the violence in Iraq; cited in Paul Krugman, "Time to Take a Stand" (New York Times, September 7, 2007)

Thursday, September 13, 2007


If someone occupied my hometown in the same manner Americans occupy Iraq, I'd be killing them any way I could.

-- Marine Scott Ritter, "Reporting from Baghdad" (TruthDig, September 7, 2007)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Great Soul And Vast Views

Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God's service when it is violating all His laws.

-- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, 1816

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We Do Not Remember Days

We do not remember days; we remember moments.

-- Cesare Pavese, 1908-1950, Italian novelist, poet, and translator

Monday, September 10, 2007

Air Power

If I hear one more lawyer with no military experience explain to me how air power alone really can do it this time, I'm going to kill him.

-- An active-duty US Army officer; cited in "We Don't Need Another Fight Right Now" (Swedish Meatballs Confidential, August 31, 2007)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Public Diplomacy

The government calls it "public diplomacy". Some call it "propaganda". I prefer the term "manure". Others may prefer an easier-to-spell synonym. But it all smells the same.

-- Winter Patriot, "Did Bush Just Declare War On Iran?" (Winter Patriot blog, August 29)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Most Joyful, Most Perfect

For me, music making is the most joyful activity possible, the most perfect expression of any emotion.

-- Luciano Pavarotti (October 12, 1935 - September 6, 2007) Italian opera singer

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Lack Of Access

I believe, if we don't fix the health care system, that lack of access will be a bigger cancer killer than tobacco. The ultimate control of cancer is as much a public policy issue as it is a medical and scientific issue.

-- John R. Seffrin, of the American Cancer Society, which plans to devote its entire advertising budget this year to the consequences of inadequate health coverage, NY Times, 8/31/07

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Well, that was an exciting finish.

-- Steve Fossett, millionaire adventurer, reported missing Monday 3 September, 2007