Quotes and Conundrums

"Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector. It encourages a man to be expansive, even reckless, while lie detectors are only a challenge to tell lies successfully."

Graham Greene

"The history of the social sciences stands as a monument to the proposition that testing falsifiable predictions and acquiring scientifically significant knowledge are not synonymous."

Donald Symons

"Those who in the Elysian fields would dwell, do but extend the boundaries of hell."

Michael Oakeshott

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

Thomas Edison

"My girlfriend's weird. One day she asked me, 'If you could know how and when you were going to die, would you want to know?' I said, 'No.' She said, 'Okay, forget it.'"

Steven Wright

"When fascism comes to America, it will not be in brown and black shirts. It will not be with jack-boots. It will be Nike sneakers and smiley shirts. Smiley-smiley."

George Carlin

"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."

Winston Churchill

"If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post- roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress.... Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America."

James Madison

"Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread."

Thomas Jefferson

"Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare but only those specifically enumerated."

Thomas Jefferson

"There are hidden contradictions in the minds of people who 'love Nature' while deploring the 'artificialities' with which 'Man has spoiled Nature'. The obvious contradiction lies in their choice of words, which imply that Man and his artifacts are not part of "Nature" - but beavers and their dams are. But the contradictions go deeper than this prima-facie absurdity. In declaring his love for a beaver dam (erected by beavers for beavers' purposes) and his hatred for dams erected by men (for the purposes of men) the Naturist reveals his hatred for his own race - i.e., his own self-hatred."

Robert Heinlein

"Greatness lies within everyone...it is birthed in the heart, grown in our dreams, but usually stays on life support after our friends and family assassinate it with their excuses."

Doug Firebaugh

"What do I primarily and immovably believe in, as a Puritan believes in Hell? I believe in liberty. And when I say liberty I mean in its widest imaginable sense -- liberty up to the extreme limits of the feasible and tolerable. I am against forbidding anybody to do anything, or say anything, or think anything, so long as it is at all possible to imagine a habitable world in which he would be free to do, say and think it. The burden of proof is always upon the policeman, which is to say upon the lawmaker, the theologian, the right-thinker. He must prove his case doubly, triply, quadruply, and then he must start all over and prove it again. The eye through which I view him is watery and jaundiced. I do not pretend to be "just" to him -- any more than a Christian pretends to be just to the Devil. He is the enemy of everything I admire and respect in the world -- of everything that makes it various and amusing and charming. He impedes every honest search for the truth. He stands against every sort of good will and common decency. His ideal is that of an animal trainer, an archbishop, a major-general in the army. I am against him until the last galoot's ashore."

H. L. Mencken

"I will govern according to the common weal, but not according to the common will."

King James I, 1621

Wisdom of the Past

Calvin Coolidge speaking on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, in Philadelphia, Pa.:

"About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter.

"If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.

"Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers."

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