Screw the Government!
it not possible that an individual
may be right and a government wrong?
Are laws to be enforced simply because
they were made? Or declared by any
number of men to be good, if they
are not good?
announce that there must
be no criticism of the president,
that we are to stand by
the president right or wrong,
is not only unpatriotic
and servile, but is morally
treasonable to the American
that can give up essential
liberty to purchase a little
temporary safety deserve
neither liberty or safety.
when a long train of abuses
the same Object evinces a design
to reduce them under absolute
Despotism, it is their right,
it is their duty, to throw off
such Government, and to provide
new Guards for their future
Change is difficult. You cannot expect people with great privileges taken at the expense of ordinary working people to surrender them lightly. But the history of humanity is that determined people will overcome obstacles. And we will overcome the problems that this country is facing as a result of George W. Bush and as a result of a Washington establishment that has forgotten who sent them there.
— Howard Dean, February 18, 2004, when he withdrew from presidential race
is dangerous to be right when the
government is wrong.
The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism; ownership by an individual, by a group or by any controlling private power.
— Franklin D. Roosevelt
truth is that all men having power ought
to be mistrusted.
If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
— Mark Twain
All these lies, whether their authors know it or not, harbor an element of violence; organized lying always tends to destroy what ever it has decided to negate, although only totalitarian governments have consciously adopted lying as the first step to murder.
— Hannah Arendt "Truth and Politics," from Between Past and Future
world will not evolve past its
current state of crisis
by using the same thinking
that created the situation.
leads to knavery. It is
but a step from one to the
other, and that very slippery.
Only lying makes the difference;
add that to cunning, and
it is knavery.
can never save us from another lie.
know of no safe depository
for the ultimate powers
of society but the people
themselves; and if we think
them not enlightened enough
to exercise their control
with a wholesome discretion,
the remedy is not to take
it from them, but to inform
are times when you have
to obey a call which is
the highest of all, i.e.
the voice of conscience
even though such obedience
may cost many a bitter tear,
and even more, separation
from friends, from family,
from the state, to which
you may belong, from all
that you have held as dear
as life itself. For this
obedience is the law of
the beginning of a change, the Patriot
is a scarce man, brave, hated, and
scorned. When his cause succeeds,
however, the timid join him, for then
it costs nothing to be a Patriot.
is a condition worse than blindness,
and that is, seeing something that
made you a traitor as it often does
in a time of scoundrels.
truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed. Second, it
is violently opposed. Third, it is
accepted as being self-evident.
is a universal truth that the loss
of liberty at home is to be charged
to the provisions against danger,
real or pretended, from abroad.
is the truth in action.
is the last refuge of the incompetent.
object to violence because when it
appears to do good, the good is only
temporary; the evil it does is permanent.
violence consists in some people forcing
others, under threat of suffering
or death, to do what they do not want
is confirmed by inspection and delay;
falsehood by haste and uncertainty.
often suffers more by the heat of
its defenders than the arguments of
requires that everyone should have
enough to eat. But it also requires
that everyone should contribute to
the production of food.
many now call 'growth' will
soon be seen as accelerated
DC is to lying what Wisconsin is to
Lying is like alcoholism. You are always recovering.
— Steven Soderbergh
... after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.
— Cree Indian Prophecy
for the truth comes close to being
the basis for all morality.
precede civilizations and
I tell the truth, it is not for the
sake of convincing those who do not
know it, but for the sake of defending
those that do.
is a tendency.
never comes into the world but like
a bastard, to the ignominy of him
that brought her birth.
clergy] believe that any portion of
power confided to me [as President]
will be exerted in opposition to their
schemes. And they believe rightly: for I
have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal
hostility against every form of tyranny
over the mind of man. But this
is all they have to fear from me: and
enough, too, in their opinion."
is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
is our form of incest, is our idolatry,
is our insanity. "Patriotism" is
its cult. It should hardly
be necessary to say, that by "patriotism" I
mean that attitude which puts the own
nation above humanity, above the principles
of truth and justice; not the loving
interest in one's own nation, which
is the concern with the nation's spiritual
as much as with its material welfare
--never with its power over other nations.
Just as love for one individual which
excludes the love for others is not
love, love for one's country
which is not part of one's love for
humanity is not love, but idolatrous
is the willingness to kill and be
killed for trivial reasons.
are instituted among Men,
deriving their just Powers
from the Consent of the
Governed, that whenever
any Form of Government becomes
destructive of these Ends,
it is the Right of the People
to alter or to abolish it,
and to institute new Government,
laying its Foundation on
such Principles, and organizing
its Powers in such Form,
as to them shall seem most
likely to effect their Safety
and Happiness .
is a pernicious, psychopathic form
is two wolves and a lamb voting on
what to have for lunch. Liberty is
a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!
politician will do anything to keep
his job even become a patriot.
patriot must always be ready to defend
his country against his government.
West won the world not by the superiority
of its ideas or values or religion
but rather by its superiority in applying
organized violence. Westerners often
forget this fact, non-Westerners never
The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.
— David Friedman
There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.
— Victor Hugo
I don't know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.
— Albert Einstein
Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms.
— Groucho Marx
I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded... I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed... I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.
— Franklin D. Roosevelt
A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.
— Winston Churchill
Alliance: In international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted into each others' pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third.
— Ambrose Bierce
A pint of sweat saves a gallon of blood.
— George Patton
Today the real test of power is not the capacity to make war but the capacity to prevent it.
— Anne O'Hare McCormick
Only the dead have seen the end of war.
When the rich make war it's the poor that die.
— Jean-Paul Sartre
Another victory like that and we are done for.
Man and nations will act rationally when all other possibilities have been exhausted.
— Katz' Law
Riot: A popular entertainment given to the military by innocent bystanders.
— Ambrose Bierce
Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.
Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.
All violence, all that is dreary and repels, is not power, but the absence of power.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
It seems like the less a statesman amounts to, the more he loves the flag.
The superpowers often behave like two heavily armed blind men feeling their way around a room, each believing himself in mortal peril from the other, whom he assumes to have perfect vision. Each tends to ascribe to the other side a consistency, foresight and coherence that its own experience belies. Of course, even two blind men can do enormous damage to each other, not to speak of the room.
— Henry Kissinger
Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.
— Groucho Marx
I prefer the most unjust peace to the most righteous war.
— Marcus Tullius Cicero
Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.
— Benjamin Franklin
All warfare is based on deception.
— Sun Tzu
Even peace may be purchased at too high a price.
— Benjamin Franklin
: the person who can holler the loudest
without knowing what he is hollering
'My country, right or wrong' is a thing no patriot would ever think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober.'
— Gilbert K. Chesterton
"Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right."
— Carl Schurz
Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country.
— Bertrand Russell
It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind.
A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.
— Sir Winston Churchill
A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.
— H. L. Mencken
A politician is a man who understands government. A statesman is a politician who's been dead for 15 years.
— Harry S. Truman
If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.
— H. L. Mencken
Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word.
— Charles de Gaulle
The most successful politician is he who says what the people are thinking most often in the loudest voice.
— Theodore Roosevelt
The average politician goes through a sentence like a man exploring a disused mine shaft-blind, groping, timorous and in imminent danger of cracking his shins on a subordinate clause or a nasty bit of subjunctive.
— Robertson Davies
Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks.
— Doug Larson
The politician is trained in the art of inexactitude. His words tend to be blunt or rounded, because if they have a cutting edge they may later return to wound him.
— Edward R. Murrow
politician who curries favor with
the citizens and indulges them and
fawns upon them and has a presentiment
of their wishes, and is skillful in
gratifying them, he is esteemed a
you want total security , go to prison.
There you're fed, clothed, given medical
care and so on. The only thing lacking...
only real security that a man can
have in this world is a reserve of
knowledge, experience and ability.
have gone completely overboard on
security . Everything has to be secured,
jobs, wages, hours- although the ultimate
in security is jail, the slave labor
camp and the salt mine.
In a state-run society the government promises you security. But it's a false promise predicated on the idea that the opposite of security is risk. Nothing could be further from the truth. The opposite of security is insecurity, and the only way to overcome insecurity is to take risks. The gentle government that promises to hold your hand as you cross the street refuses to let go on the other side.
— Theodore Forstmann
sir, men were all virtuous, I should
with great alacrity teach them all
to fly. But what would be the security
of the good if the bad could at pleasure
invade them from the sky? Against
an army sailing through the clouds
neither wall, nor mountains, nor seas
could afford any security.
and caution are the parents of security
man who trades freedom for security
does not deserve nor will he ever
society that would give up a little
liberty to gain a little security
will deserve neither and lose both.
will bankrupt ourselves in the vain
search for absolute security.
is either a daring adventure or nothing
at all. Security is mostly a superstition.
It does not exist in nature.
in growth, reform, and change, paradoxically
enough, is true security to be found.
individual freedom cannot exist without
economic security and independence.
People who are hungry and out of a
job are the stuff of which dictatorships
man who looks for security , even
in the mind, is like a man who would
chop off his limbs in order to have
artificial ones which will give him
no pain or trouble.
No man's life, liberty , or property are safe while the congress is in session.
— Mark Twain
Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its one sure defense.
— Mark Twain
We are called the nation of inventors. And we are. We could still claim that title and wear its loftiest honors if we had stopped with the first thing we ever invented, which was human liberty.
— Mark Twain
You know that being an American is more than a matter of where your parents came from. It is a belief that all men are created free and equal and that everyone deserves an even break."
— Harry S. Truman
It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have these three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.
— Mark Twain (from Following the Equator)
Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.
— Benjamin Franklin
The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the goverment.
— Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press and that cannot be limited without being lost.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
—President Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953
institution will be based upon the
illimitable freedom of the human mind.
For here we are not afraid to follow
truth wherever it may lead, nor to
tolerate any error so long as reason
is left free to combat it.
one lies so boldly as the man who
detest all lies except lies spoken
in public or printed lies.
is impossible to calculate the moral
mischief, if I may so express it,
that mental lying has produced in
society. When a man has so far corrupted
and prostituted the chastity of his
mind as to subscribe his professional
belief to things he does not believe
he has prepared himself for the commission
of every other crime.
greatness lies in his power of thought.
not even the desire to take,
to profit at another’s
expense, imply a desire
[to] preserve that other
as a potential source of
wealth and profit?
lie gets halfway around the world
before the truth has a chance to get
its pants on.
lie loudest when we lie to ourselves.
tell lies when we are afraid... afraid
of what we don't know, afraid of what
others will think, afraid of what
will be found out about us. But every
time we tell a lie , the thing that
we fear grows stronger.
man who tells lies , like me, merely
hides the truth. But a man who tells
half- lies has forgotten where he
lie which is half a truth is ever
the blackest of lies.
is more from carelessness about truth
than from intentionally lying that
there is so much falsehood in the
do myself a greater injury in lying
than I do him of whom I tell a lie..
best liar is he who makes the smallest
amount of lying go the longest way.
is that branch of the art of lying
which consists in nearly deceiving
your friends without quite deceiving
tragedies can be more extensive than
the stunting of life, few injustices
deeper than the denial of an opportunity
to strive or even to hope, by a limit
imposed from without, but falsely
identified as lying within.
resolution to avoid an evil is seldom
framed till the evil is so far advanced
as to make avoidance impossible.
is the key to action and freedom.
has become a luxury that only small
nations can afford.
are no dangerous thoughts; thinking
itself is dangerous.
most radical revolutionary will become
a conservative the day after the revolution.
sad truth is that most evil is done
by people who never make up their
minds to be good or evil.
All Live Downstream.
ye shall know the truth
and the truth shall make
has no special time of its
own. Its hour is now - always.
education of today is nothing
more than drill... children
must be accustomed to obey,
to believe, to think according
to the social dogmas which
we have hope within us or
we don’t; it is a
dimension of the soul, an
orientation of the spirit,
an orientation of the heart
-- not the conviction that
something will turn out
well, but the certainty
that something makes sense.
to limit access in the news media
to differing opinions is to acknowledge
our democracy's defeat.
appears more surprizing
to those, who consider human
affairs with a philosophical
eye, than the easiness with
which the many are governed
by the few; and the implicit
submission, with which men
resign their own sentiments
and passions to those of
their rulers. When we enquire
by what means this wonder
is effected, we shall find,
that, as FORCE is always
on the side of the governed,
the governors have nothing
to support them but opinion.
It is therefore, on opinion
only that government is
founded; and this maxim
extends to the most despotic
and most military governments,
as well as to the most free
and most popular.
have come to fear almost
everything having to do
with law. Though there are
many fine people in the
legal profession, and though
law is necessary to protect
society from descending
into chaos, I now fear the
legal profession more than
I do Islamic terrorists.
have gone from the world
of George Orwell, where
large empires confronted
each other, to the universe
of Ian Fleming and James
Bond, where a megalomaniac
billionaire hidden in a
cave sends planes against
John Brown, to the court, at his trial:
have, may it please the Court, a few
words to say.
The "Tree of Liberty" letter
SIR, -- I am now to acknowledge the
receipt of your favors of October the
4th, 8th, & 26th. In the last you
apologise for your letters of introduction
to Americans coming here. It is so far
from needing apology on your part, that
it calls for thanks on mine. I endeavor
to show civilities to all the Americans
who come here, & will give me opportunities
of doing it: and it is a matter of comfort
to know from a good quarter what they
are, & how far I may go in my attentions
to them. Can you send me Woodmason's
bills for the two copying presses for
the M. de la Fayette, & the M. de
Chastellux? The latter makes one article
in a considerable account, of old standing,
and which I cannot present for want
of this article. -- I do not know whether
it is to yourself or Mr. Adams I am
to give my thanks for the copy of the
new constitution. I beg leave through
you to place them where due. It will
be yet three weeks before I shall receive
them from America. There are very good
articles in it: & very bad. I do
not know which preponderate. What we
have lately read in the history of Holland,
in the chapter on the Stadtholder, would
have sufficed to set me against a chief
magistrate eligible for a long duration,
if I had ever been disposed towards
one: & what we have always read
of the elections of Polish kings should
have forever excluded the idea of one
continuable for life. Wonderful
is the effect of impudent & persevering
lying. The British ministry
have so long hired their gazetteers
to repeat and model into every form
lies about our being in anarchy, that
the world has at length believed them,
the English nation has believed them,
the ministers themselves have come to
believe them, & what is more wonderful,
we have believed them ourselves. Yet
where does this anarchy exist? Where
did it ever exist, except in the single
instance of Massachusetts? And can history
produce an instance of rebellion so
honourably conducted? I say nothing
of it's motives. They were founded in
ignorance, not wickedness. God
forbid we should ever be 20 years without
such a rebellion. The people
cannot be all, & always well informed.
The part which is wrong will be discontented
in proportion to the importance of the
facts they misconceive. If they remain
quiet under such misconceptions it is
a lethargy, the forerunner of death
to the public liberty. We have had 13.
states independent 11. years. There
has been one rebellion. That comes to
one rebellion in a century & a half
for each state. What country
before ever existed a century & a
half without a rebellion? & what
country can preserve it's liberties
if their rulers are not warned from
time to time that their people preserve
the spirit of resistance? Let them take
arms. The remedy is to set them right
as to facts, pardon & pacify them.
What signify a few lives lost in a century
or two? The tree of liberty
must be refreshed from time to time
with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It
is it's natural manure. Our Convention
has been too much impressed by the insurrection
of Massachusetts: and in the spur of
the moment they are setting up a kite
to keep the hen-yard in order. I hope
in God this article will be rectified
before the new constitution is accepted.
-- You ask me if any thing transpires
here on the subject of S. America? Not
a word. I know that there are combustible
materials there, and that they wait
the torch only. But this country probably
will join the extinguishers. -- The
want of facts worth communicating to
you has occasioned me to give a little
loose to dissertation. We must
be contented to amuse, when we cannot
Thomas Jefferson to William Smith
Stephen Vincent Benét
Selections from "John Brown's Body"
Cost of the War in Iraq