Saturday, October 25, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 30, The Dark Side: Torture, Detention, Surveillance, Drones & Secrecy in the Bush/Obama Era

We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will. We've got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we're going to be successful. That's the world these folks operate in, and so it's going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.

—Vice President Dick Cheney, September 16, 2001

Other orders went out for the care of prisoners of war. [George] Washington and his officers set a high standard in their treatment of Hessian captives at Trenton.... [Washington] often reminded his men that they were an army of liberty and freedom, and that the rights of humanity for which they were fighting should extend even to their enemies.

—David Hackett Fischer, Washington's Crossing
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, October 24, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 29, Obama and the Tea Party (Con't)

That a country that once took whiteness as the foundation of citizenship would elect a black president is a victory. But to view this victory as racism’s defeat is to forget the precise terms on which it was secured, and to ignore the quaking ground beneath Obama’s feet....

But one reason Obama rose so quickly was that African Americans are war-weary. It was not simply the country at large that was tired of the old Baby Boomer debates. Blacks, too, were sick of talking about affirmative action and school busing. There was a broad sense that integration had failed us, and a growing disenchantment with our appointed spokespeople. Obama’s primary triumphs in predominantly white states gave rise to rumors of a new peace, one many blacks were anxious to achieve.... Obama offered black America a convenient narrative that could be meshed with the larger American story....

...[S]ince taking office, Obama has virtually ignored race. Whatever the political intelligence of this calculus, it has broad and deep consequences. The most obvious result is that it prevents Obama from directly addressing America’s racial history, or saying anything meaningful about present issues tinged by race, such as mass incarceration or the drug war.... But the intellectual argument doubles as the counterargument. If the fact of a black president is enough to racialize the wonkish world of health-care reform, what havoc would the Obama touch wreak upon the already racialized world of drug policy?...

...Part of Obama’s genius is a remarkable ability to soothe race consciousness among whites. Any black person who’s worked in the professional world is well acquainted with this trick. But never has it been practiced at such a high level, and never have its limits been so obviously exposed. This need to talk in dulcet tones, to never be angry regardless of the offense, bespeaks a strange and compromised integration indeed, revealing a country so infantile that it can countenance white acceptance of blacks only when they meet an Al Roker standard.

And yet this is the uncertain foundation of Obama’s historic victory—a victory that I, and my community, hold in the highest esteem. Who would truly deny the possibility of a black presidency in all its power and symbolism? Who would rob that little black boy of the right to feel himself affirmed by touching the kinky black hair of his president?...

Ta-Nehisi Coates, "The Fear of a Black President" (2012)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 29, Obama and the Tea Party (Con't)

No one thought we would have to take every element of the administration and dedicate it to health care both publicly and privately, which is what we ended up having to do.

—White house aide in Obama administration
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 29, Obama and the Tea Party (Con't)

[Rhetorically addressing southerners:] Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.... The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task... [W]hat will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly - done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated - we must place ourselves avowedly with them.

—Abraham Lincoln, "Cooper Union Speech", February, 1960
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 29, Obama and the Tea Party (Con't)


The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: `No room! No room!' they cried out when they saw Alice coming. `There's plenty of room!' said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

`Have some wine,' the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.

Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. `I don't see any wine,' she remarked.

`There isn't any,' said the March Hare.

`Then it wasn't very civil of you to offer it,' said Alice angrily.

`It wasn't very civil of you to sit down without being invited,' said the March Hare.

`I didn't know it was your table,' said Alice; `it's laid for a great many more than three.'

—Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, "A Mad Tea-Party"

Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. The Hatter's remark seemed to have no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was certainly English.

—Ibid.
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, October 20, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 29, Obama and the Tea Party (Con't)

But the modern right wing, as Daniel Bell has put it, feels dispossessed: America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion. The old American virtues have already been eaten away by cosmopolitans and intellectuals; the old competitive capitalism has been gradually undermined by socialistic and communistic schemers; the old national security and independence have been destroyed by treasonous plots, having as their most powerful agents not merely outsiders and foreigners as of old but major statesmen who are at the very centers of American power. Their predecessors had discovered conspiracies; the modern radical right finds conspiracy to be betrayal from on high.

—Richard Hofstadter, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" (1964)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 29, Obama and the Tea Party (Con't)

This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills? Raise their hand. President Obama, are you listening?... You know, Cuba used to have mansions and a relatively decent economy. They moved from the individual to the collective. Now, they're driving '54 Chevys, maybe the last great car to come out of Detroit.... We're thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party in July. All you capitalists that want to show up to Lake Michigan, I'm gonna start organizing.

—CNBC Reporter Rick Santelli, February 19, 2009, from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 29, Obama and the Tea Party (Con't)

The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, October 29, 2010
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, October 17, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 29, Obama and the Tea Party (Con't)

It is a measure of the Obama's administration's ineptitude in communication that the public came to see Geithner, Summers & Co. as tools of Wall Street while at the same time the bankers who were saved from oblivion came to hate the administration for vilifying and scapegoating them.

— Alan S. Blinder, After the Music Stopped
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 29, Obama and the Tea Party (Con't)

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

—Barack Obama, November 4, 2008
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.