Quotes and Conundrums

"People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election."

Otto von Bismarck

"If there is no willingness to use force to defend civil society, it's civil society that goes away, not force."

Teresa Nielsen Hayden

"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire."

Gustav Mahler

"Peace means something different from not fighting. Those aren't peace advocates, they're stop fighting advocates. Peace is an active and complex thing and sometimes fighting is part of what it takes to get it."

Jo Walton

"Adam was but human - this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple's sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent."

Mark Twain

"The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus. And I put them in a book. If you don't like their rules, whose would you use?"

Dale Carnegie

"When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes. Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain."

Napoleon Bonaparte

"Why is it that when we talk to God we're said to be praying, but when God talks to us we're schizophrenic?"

Lily Tomlin

"Ask a Soviet engineer to design a pair of shoes and he'll come up with something that looks like the boxes that the shoes came in; ask him to make something that will massacre Germans, and he turns into Thomas F--king Edison."

Neal Stephenson

There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.

Charles-Louis De Secondat

"The simple and childlike faith in the freedom and dignity of man...is responsible for the fact that in...[Europe]...I am regarded as a highly typical American - in truth, as almost the archetype of the American. And it is responsible equally for the fact that here at home I am often denounced as the worst American unhung. The paradox is only apparent. The explanation of it lies in this: that to most Europeans the United States is still regarded naively as the land of liberty par excellence, whereas to most Americans the thing itself has long since ceased to have any significance, and to large numbers of them, indeed, it has taken on an extreme obnoxiousness. I know of no civilized country, indeed, in which liberty is less esteemed that it is in the United States today; certainly there is none in which more persistent efforts are made to limit it and put it down. I am thus, to Americans, a bad American, but to Europeans, still unaware of the idealism of Wilson and the saloon-bouncer ethic of Roosevelt, I seem to be an eloquent spokesman for the true American tradition. It is a joke, but the joke is not on me."

H. L. Mencken
The Nation, 1923

"Ask the American public if they want an FBI wiretap and they'll say, 'no'. If you ask them do they want a feature on their phone that helps the FBI find their missing child they'll say, 'Yes'."

Louis Freeh

"The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded."

Charles-Louis De Secondat

"...the Sept. 11 bombers represent fascism with an Islamic face, and there's no point in any euphemism about it. What they abominate about "The West", to put it in a phrase, is not what Western liberals don't like and can't defend about their system, but what they do like about it and must defend; its emancipated women, its scientific inquiry, its separation of religion from the state. Loose talk about chickens coming home to roost is the moral equivalent of the hateful garbage emitted by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and exhibits about the same intellectual content."

Christopher Hitchens

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