Sunday, December 21, 2014

Now We Are Six

Happy Birthday to my beloved son, Joseph Saperstein Frug, who is six today.


When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

A. A. Milne

Disclaimer: the picture above is actually from Thanksgiving, back when Joseph was still "just alive" and not yet "as clever as clever".

Sunday, November 23, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

Little piece of cornbread sitting on the shelf:
If you want any more, you can sing it yourself.

—Traditional children's song
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle.... If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

— Frederick Douglass, 1857
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, November 21, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule -- at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.... [O]ur analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.

— Martin Gillens & Benjamin I. Page, "Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens" (forthcoming, Fall, 2014)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

Since coming back to the United States after three years away in China, I have been asking experts around the country whether America is finally going to hell.... [T]he question wasn’t simply a joke.... I spoke with historians and politicians, soldiers and ministers, civil engineers and broadcast executives and high-tech researchers. Overall, the news they gave was heartening—and alarming, too. Most of the things that worry Americans aren’t really that serious, especially those that involve “falling behind” anyone else. But there is a deeper problem almost too alarming to worry about, since it is so hard to see a solution.... We could correct all these problems—and that is the heart of the problem. America still has the means to address nearly any of its structural weaknesses.... We know that such an investment could happen here—but we also know that it won’t. That is the American tragedy of the early 21st century: a vital and self-renewing culture that attracts the world’s talent, and a governing system that increasingly looks like a joke.... America the society is in fine shape! America the polity most certainly is not.... Our government is old and broken and dysfunctional, and may even be beyond repair.

James Fallows (2010)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

The real fear today is that the world we now live in was intended by those who profit from it.

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

...And the truth cannot be hid;
Somebody chose their pain,
What needn't have happened did.

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

Monday, November 17, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

Inequality kills. Between 1990 and 2008, life expectancy for White American men without a college degree fell by three years, and White low-educated women had their lives shortened by more than five years. Only AIDS in southern Africa and the restoration of capitalism in Russia have had a more lethal impact than the US social polarization in the boom years of Clinton and Bush.

— Göran Therborn, The Killing Fields of Inequality
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

The inescapable reality is this: wealth is so concentrated that a large segment of society is virtually unaware of its existence, so that some people imagine that it belongs to surreal or mysterious entities.

—Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

But we know that people’s frustrations run deeper than these most recent political battles.... They experience in a very personal way the relentless, decades-long trend that I want to spend some time talking about today. And that is a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain -- that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead. I believe this is the defining challenge of our time... [T]he basic bargain at the heart of our economy has frayed. In fact, this trend towards growing inequality is not unique to America’s market economy... But this increasing inequality is most pronounced in our country, and it challenges the very essence of who we are as a people.... The combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American Dream, our way of life, and what we stand for around the globe.

—Barack Obama, December, 2013
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, November 14, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.

—George Carlin, Life is Worth Loosing (2005)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality (Con't)

We are the 99%.

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 32, America in 2014: Inequality

Good historians, I suspect, whether they think about it or not, have the future in their bones. Besides the question: Why? the historian also asks the question: Whither?

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 31, Occupy Wall Street & Other Politics of the Obama Years (Con't)

NYC authorities clearly feel #OWS eviction is just and reasonable. That's why they are doing it at 2am and barring all press.

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

Monday, November 10, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 31, Occupy Wall Street & Other Politics of the Obama Years (Con't)

To all those across the world currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity... [W]e are now in many ways involved in the same struggle.... An entire generation across the globe has grown up realising, rationally and emotionally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under structural adjustment policies and the supposed expertise of international organisations like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, industries and public services were sold off and dismantled as the "free market" pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even.... The current crisis in America and western Europe has begun to bring this reality home to you as well: that as things stand we will all work ourselves raw, our backs broken by personal debt and public austerity.... Spaces for gathering, leisure, meeting and interacting – these spaces should be the reason we live in cities. Where the state and the interests of owners have made them inaccessible, exclusive or dangerous, it is up to us to make sure that they are safe, inclusive and just....We are all watching one another now, and from Cairo we want to say that we are in solidarity with you, and we love you all for what you are doing.

—Message from Tahir Square occupiers to Occupy Wall Street & other occupations, October 25, 2011
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 31, Occupy Wall Street & Other Politics of the Obama Years (Con't)

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

This document was accepted by the NYC General Assembly on September 29, 2011

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
  • They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
  • They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
  • They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
  • They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
  • They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
  • They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
  • They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
  • They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
  • They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
  • They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
  • They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
  • They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
  • They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
  • They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
  • They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
  • They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
  • They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
  • They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
  • They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
  • They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
  • They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
  • They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*
To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

* These grievances are not all-inclusive. [footnote in the original]
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 31, Occupy Wall Street & Other Politics of the Obama Years (Con't)

Who are the men who really run this land?
And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?

—David Crosby, "What Are Their Names" (1971), sung in Zuccotti Park, 2011
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, November 07, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 31, Occupy Wall Street & Other Politics of the Obama Years (Con't)

All of a sudden it was cool to be a lefty again.

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

Thursday, November 06, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 31, Occupy Wall Street & Other Politics of the Obama Years (Con't)

Shit is fucked up and bullshit.

—Protest sign at Occupy Wall Street (Zuccotti Park), Fall, 2011 (repeated since)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 31, Occupy Wall Street & Other Politics of the Obama Years (Con't)

A worldwide shift in revolutionary tactics is underway right now that bodes well for the future. The spirit of this fresh tactic, a fusion of Tahrir with the acampadas of Spain, is captured in this quote:
"The antiglobalization movement was the first step on the road. Back then our model was to attack the system like a pack of wolves. There was an alpha male, a wolf who led the pack, and those who followed behind. Now the model has evolved. Today we are one big swarm of people." - Raimundo Viejo, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain
The beauty of this new formula, and what makes this novel tactic exciting, is its pragmatic simplicity: we talk to each other in various physical gatherings and virtual people's assemblies... The time has come to deploy this emerging stratagem against the greatest corrupter of our democracy: Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America. On September 17, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices.... It's time for DEMOCRACY NOT CORPORATOCRACY, we're doomed without it.

—Blog post on Adbusters blog, " #OCCUPYWALLSTREET: A shift in revolutionary tactics", July 13, 2011
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 31, Occupy Wall Street & Other Politics of the Obama Years (Con't)

Republicans were threatening to cause the US government to default in order to force massive cuts in social services intended to head off a largely imaginary debt crisis…President Obama, in turn, had decided the way to appear reasonable in comparison and thus seem as his advisors liked to put it ‘the only adult in the room’ was not to point out that the entire debate was founded on false economic premises, but to prepare a milder, ‘compromise’ version of the exact same program—as if the best way to expose a lunatic is to pretend that 50 percent of his delusions are actually true…. This is how a ragtag group of anarchists, hippies, unemployed college students, pagan tree sitters, and peace activists suddenly managed to establish themselves, by default, as America’s adults in the first place.

—David Graeber, The Democracy Project (2013)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, November 03, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 31, Occupy Wall Street & Other Politics of the Obama Years

JUMP! you fuckers

—Sign on Wall Street, 2008
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 30, The Dark Side: Torture, Detention, Surveillance, Drones & Secrecy in the Bush/Obama Era (Con't)

CARVER: Girl, you can't even call this shit a war.
HERC: Why not?
CARVER: Wars end.

The Wire, Season 1, Episode 1
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 30, The Dark Side: Torture, Detention, Surveillance, Drones & Secrecy in the Bush/Obama Era (Con't)

War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense. The machinery of government sets and enforces the drastic penalties; the minorities are either intimidated into silence, or brought slowly around by a subtle process of persuasion which may seem to them really to be converting them. Of course, the ideal of perfect loyalty, perfect uniformity is never really attained. The classes upon whom the amateur work of coercion falls are unwearied in their zeal, but often their agitation instead of converting, merely serves to stiffen their resistance. Minorities are rendered sullen, and some intellectual opinion bitter and satirical. But in general, the nation in wartime attains a uniformity of feeling, a hierarchy of values culminating at the undisputed apex of the State ideal, which could not possibly be produced through any other agency than war. Loyalty - or mystic devotion to the State - becomes the major imagined human value. Other values, such as artistic creation, knowledge, reason, beauty, the enhancement of life, are instantly and almost unanimously sacrificed, and the significant classes who have constituted themselves the amateur agents of the State are engaged not only in sacrificing these values for themselves but in coercing all other persons into sacrificing them.... [F]or the sake of a war of offensive self-defense, undertaken to support a difficult cause to the slogan of "democracy," [the American nation] would reach the highest level ever known of collective effort.... The question whether the American nation would act like an enlightened democracy going to war for the sake of high ideals, or like a State-obsessed herd, has been decisively answered.

— Randolph Bourne (1918)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, October 31, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 30, The Dark Side: Torture, Detention, Surveillance, Drones & Secrecy in the Bush/Obama Era (Con't)

From thousands of classified documents, the National Security Agency emerges as an electronic omnivore of staggering capabilities, eavesdropping and hacking its way around the world to strip governments and other targets of their secrets, all the while enforcing the utmost secrecy about its own operations. It spies routinely on friends as well as foes, as has become obvious in recent weeks; the agency’s official mission list includes using its surveillance powers to achieve “diplomatic advantage” over such allies as France and Germany and “economic advantage” over Japan and Brazil, among other countries.... [T]he focus on counterterrorism is a misleadingly narrow sales pitch for an agency with an almost unlimited agenda. Its scale and aggressiveness are breathtaking.

The New York Times, November 2, 2013
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 30, The Dark Side: Torture, Detention, Surveillance, Drones & Secrecy in the Bush/Obama Era (Con't)

We’re not going after people – we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy.

—Anonymous former drone operator, quoted by Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald (2014)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 30, The Dark Side: Torture, Detention, Surveillance, Drones & Secrecy in the Bush/Obama Era (Con't)

I went to the Stasi [East Germany's secret police] archive, and I obtained, through their equivalent of a Freedom of Information Act request, a few files, which I got translated. And I looked at them, and, you know, there were handwritten dozens of pages. But in totality, they were not really as robust as like an average Facebook profile, and certainly not anywhere near as revealing as my Google search results. And... they only had files on one-quarter of the population, which took them a lot of work to surveil those one-quarter. Now we’re in a situation where, clearly, the government and institutions have files on everybody.

—Julia Angwin, author of Dragnet Nation
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 30, The Dark Side: Torture, Detention, Surveillance, Drones & Secrecy in the Bush/Obama Era (Con't)

As members of the Senate Intelligence Committee we have been provided with the executive branch's classified interpretation of those provisions and can tell you that we believe there is a significant discrepancy between what most people - including many Members of Congress - think the Patriot Act allows the government to do and what government officials secretly believe the Patriot Act allows them to do.... [B]y far the most important interpretation of what the law means is the official interpretation used by the U.S. government and this interpretation is—stunningly—classified.

—Joint letter by Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen Mark Udall (D-CO) (2011)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, October 27, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 30, The Dark Side: Torture, Detention, Surveillance, Drones & Secrecy in the Bush/Obama Era (Con't)

I don’t think it’s even fair to call it Bush Lite. It’s Bush. It’s really, really hard to find a difference that’s meaningful and not atmospheric. You see a lot of straining on things trying to make things look repackaged, but they’re really not that different.

— James Jay Carafano, Heritage-foundation security expert

My claim was never that the Obama administration copied or merely tweaked all of the Bush administration policies, but rather... copied most of the Bush counterterrorism program as it stood in January 2009, expanded some of it, and narrowed a bit.... [There are] differences in the rhetorical and justificatory approaches between the two administrations... The continuity of the late Bush and early Obama eras is a qualitative judgment. And that qualitative judgment is informed by the baseline of expectations. President Obama in his 2008 campaign led everyone to believe that he would dramatically change the Bush counterterrorism policies. “Bush’s ‘War’ on Terror Comes to a Sudden End” was the headline in the Washington Post on January 23, 2009, capturing conventional wisdom at the dawn of the new administration. Indeed, people inside the administration believed this as well, and tried hard, especially in the first year, to bring dramatic change on such issues as state secrets, military detention, military commissions, closing GTMO, and more. But dramatic change did not come on these issues. It did not come not because the Obama officials were hypocrites. They were not. Rather, the continuity was driven by a number of factors described in chapter 2 of my book, including the responsibilities and inside information of the presidency, the persistence in outlook of the national security bureaucracy, the alterations to (and legitimation of) Bush administration policies by Congress and courts and related actors, and congressional pushback on Obama initiatives like closing GTMO and civilian trials. We cannot put a number on the extent to which Obama continued Bush – was it 95%?; 85%?; 75%? But very few would have predicted in January 2009 that four years later a secretive Obama administration would be trying the 9/11 conspirators in military commissions; detaining 160 or so people in military detention in GTMO; defending its legal right to do both, and to deny habeas corpus in Afghanistan, in federal court; asserting state secrets doctrine in court on its own authority; pursuing unprecedented prosecutions against government leakers; urging re-authorization (and in some senses expansion) of late Bush-era surveillance policies; and ramping up drone attacks a great deal in a much-expanded global covert war that invite charges of war crimes and related illegalities from U.N. and other international and foreign officials, and NGOs. These are some of the broad-based policy continuities – continuities embedded, importantly, in a presidential war approach to the problem of Islamist terrorism that many hoped Obama would end – that lead most people to think there was large continuity between the Obama and Bush administrations.

—Jack Goldsmith, head of the Office of Legal Council, 2003 - 2004 (2012)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 30, The Dark Side: Torture, Detention, Surveillance, Drones & Secrecy in the Bush/Obama Era (Con't)

To date we have arrested or otherwise dealt with many key commanders of Al Qaeda. All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. And many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.

—George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, 2003
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

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.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

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

Black man given nation's worst job.

Onion headline, November 5, 2008
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

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

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow....

The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends....

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country - a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

—Barack Obama, March 18, 2008
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, October 13, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 29, Obama and the Tea Party

Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

—Then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, Democratic Convention, Boston, 2004

[Obama] should take back, in every detail, the speech that made him famous in Boston in 2004, because subsequent events have rendered it either naive or the most grotesque of fantasies.

Charles P. Pierce, 2014
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 28, The Crash of 2008 and the Great Recession (Con't)

...somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

—W. B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 28, The Crash of 2008 and the Great Recession (Con't)

Sadly, the forgetting has already begun. Unrepentant financiers, eager to return to the status quo ante, are whining about excessive regulation. Recalcitrant politicians are bemoaning big government and itching to return to laissez-faire. The public has turned its attention elsewhere.

— 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.

Friday, October 10, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 28, The Crash of 2008 and the Great Recession (Con't)

WAXMAN: ...[T]his is your statement — “I do have an ideology. My judgment is that free, competitive markets are by far the unrivaled way to organize economies. We’ve tried regulation. None meaningfully worked.” That was your quote. You had the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others. And now our whole economy is paying its price. Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?
GREENSPAN: ...Everyone has [an ideology].... The question is whether it is accurate or not. And what I’m saying to you is, yes, I found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is, but I’ve been very distressed by that fact.... [A] flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.
WAXMAN: In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working?
GREENSPAN: That is — precisely. No, that’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.

—Exchange between Representative Henry Waxman (D - CA) and former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, October 23, 2008
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 28, The Crash of 2008 and the Great Recession (Con't)

I'm being called Mr. Bailout. I can't do it again.

— Henry Paulson, September 10 or 11, 2008

The national commitment to the free market lasted one day. It was Monday.

—Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 28, The Crash of 2008 and the Great Recession

In the end, the more pessimistic you were, the more prescient you were.

— 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.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 27, Catastrophic Failure: Enron, Katrina & Politics in the mid-2000s (Con't)

In his testimony, Dr. [Richard] Carmona, [Bush's Surgeon General] said that at first he was so politically naïve that he had little idea how inappropriate the administration’s actions were. He eventually consulted six previous surgeons general, Republican and Democratic, and all agreed, he said, that he faced more political interference than they had. On issue after issue, Dr. Carmona said, the administration made decisions about important public health issues based solely on political considerations, not scientific ones. “I was told to stay away from those because we’ve already decided which way we want to go,” Dr. Carmona said. He described attending a meeting of top officials in which the subject of global warming was discussed. The officials concluded that global warming was a liberal cause and dismissed it, he said. “And I said to myself, ‘I realize why I’ve been invited. They want me to discuss the science because they obviously don’t understand the science,’ ” he said. “I was never invited back.”

—Gardner Harris, "Surgeon General Sees 4-Year Term as Compromised", The New York Times, July 7, 2007
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, October 06, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 27, Catastrophic Failure: Enron, Katrina & Politics in the mid-2000s (Con't)

Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs....
Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.
Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends’ houses but never has friends over to yours....
Being poor is coming back to the car with your children in the back seat, clutching that box of Raisin Bran you just bought and trying to think of a way to make the kids understand that the box has to last....
Being poor is hoping your kids don’t have a growth spurt....
Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over the bread, and you looking over to see if your kid saw.
Being poor is believing a GED actually makes a goddamned difference....
Being poor is not taking the job because you can’t find someone you trust to watch your kids....
Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise....
Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.
Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.
Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere.
Being poor is people surprised to discover you’re not actually stupid.
Being poor is people surprised to discover you’re not actually lazy....
Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.
Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor.
Being poor is seeing how few options you have.
Being poor is running in place.
Being poor is people wondering why you didn’t leave.

—Excerpts from John Scalzi, "Being Poor", September 3, 2005
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 27, Catastrophic Failure: Enron, Katrina & Politics in the mid-2000s (Con't)

TV pictures of starving, dying Americans made the US look like a third world country - or perhaps, arguably, disclosed the third world country that America secretly keeps in its closet.

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

Saturday, October 04, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 27, Catastrophic Failure: Enron, Katrina & Politics in the mid-2000s (Con't)

Wayne Janak, 60, a carpenter and contractor... [is] equally blunt in Welcome to New Orleans, an hourlong documentary produced by the Danish video team, who captured Janak, beer in hand, gloating about hunting humans. Surrounded by a crowd of sunburned white Algiers Point locals at a barbeque held not long after the hurricane, he smiles and tells the camera, "It was great! It was like pheasant season in South Dakota. If it moved, you shot it." A native of Chicago, Janak also boasts of becoming a true Southerner, saying, "I am no longer a Yankee. I earned my wings." A white woman standing next to him adds, "He understands the N-word now." In this neighborhood, she continues, "we take care of our own."

A.C. Thompson, "Katrina's Hidden Race War" (The Nation, 2008)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, October 03, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 27, Catastrophic Failure: Enron, Katrina & Politics in the mid-2000s (Con't)

I thought that I lived in America until shortly after Katrina and the Crescent City Connection was blocked off from people being able to walk freely on United States soil.

— Karen Carter, Louisiana State Representative (D - New Orleans) (in Spike Lee's documentary, When the Levees Break)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 27, Catastrophic Failure: Enron, Katrina & Politics in the mid-2000s (Con't)

Katrina was a largely man-made catastrophe triggered by a moderately fast Category 3 hurricane that missed New Orleans. Citizens were denied the level of protection mandated by Congress in the 1965 Flood Control Act.

—Louisiana State University, "Team Louisiana" Final Report, February 12, 2007
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 27, Catastrophic Failure: Enron, Katrina & Politics in the mid-2000s (Con't)

In the summer of 2002... I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush... The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

—Ron Suskind, "Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush" (2004)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 27, Catastrophic Failure: Enron, Katrina & Politics in the mid-2000s (Con't)

Bob Badeer: So the rumor's true? They're fuckin' takin' all the money back from you guys? All those money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?
Kevin McGowan: Yeah, Grandma Millie, man. But she's the one who couldn't figure out how to fuckin' vote on the butterfly ballot.
Bob Badeer: Yeah, now she wants her fuckin' money back for all the power you've charged right up—jammed right up her ass for fuckin' $250 a megawatt hour.

—Enron Traders, November 30, 2000 (caught on tape)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, September 29, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 27, Catastrophic Failure: Enron, Katrina & Politics in the mid-2000s (Con't)

In the Titanic, the captain went down with the ship. And Enron looks to me like the captain first gave himself and his friends a bonus, then lowered himself and the top folks down the lifeboat and then hollered up and said, 'By the way, everything is going to be just fine.'

—Sen. Byron Dorgan (D - ND)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 27, Catastrophic Failure: Enron, Katrina & Politics in the mid-2000s

Enron, based in Houston, is in the vanguard of a powerful movement that hopes to "financialize" (Enron's term) just about everything—that is, trade almost everything as if it were stock options. That movement is as much about politics as it is about business... [L]et's hope that it doesn't take a string of catastrophes to teach us that there are limits to what markets can do.

—Paul Krugman, The New York Times, August 17, 2001

The broader goal of [Paul Krugman's] latest attack on Enron appears to be to discredit the free-market system, a system that entrusts people to make choices and enjoy the fruits of their labor, skill, intellect and heart.

—Kenneth Lay, Enron CEO, August 22, 2001
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 26, Gay Rights Since AIDS (Con't)

As far as this Court is concerned, no one should be fooled; it is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe.

—Anton Scalia, dissent in United States v Windsor (2013)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, September 26, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 26, Gay Rights Since AIDS (Con't)

Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today.

—Anthony Kennedy, majority opinion in Lawrence v Texas (2003)

This reasoning leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.... Today’s opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.... It is clear from this that the Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed. Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive. The Court views it as “discrimination” which it is the function of our judgments to deter.

—Anton Scalia, dissent in Lawrence v Texas (2003)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 26, Gay Rights Since AIDS (Con't)

Amendment 2 classifies homosexuals not to further a proper legislative end but to make them unequal to everyone else. This Colorado cannot do. A State cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws.

—Anthony Kennedy, majority opinion in Romer v Evans (1996)

This Court has no business imposing upon all Americans the resolution favored by the elite class from which the Members of this institution are selected, pronouncing that "animosity" toward homosexuality... Of course it is our moral heritage that one should not hate any human being or class of human beings. But I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible--murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals--and could exhibit even "animus" toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of "animus" at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct, the same sort of moral disapproval that produced the centuries old criminal laws that we held constitutional in Bowers.

—Anton Scalia, dissent in Romer v Evans (1996)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 26, Gay Rights Since AIDS

But the way to go about it is... to legalize old-style marriage for gays. The gay movement has ducked this issue primarily out of fear of division. Much of the gay leadership clings to notions of gay life as essentially outsider, anti-bourgeois, radical. Marriage, for them, is co-optation into straight society. For the Stonewall generation, it is hard to see how this vision of conflict will ever fundamentally change. But for many other gays--my guess, a majority--while they don't deny the importance of rebellion 20 years ago and are grateful for what was done, there's now the sense of a new opportunity. A need to rebel has quietly ceded to a desire to belong. To be gay and to be bourgeois no longer seems such an absurd proposition. Certainly since AIDS, to be gay and to be responsible has become a necessity.... If these arguments sound socially conservative, that's no accident. It's one of the richest ironies of our society's blind spot toward gays that essentially conservative social goals should have the appearance of being so radical. But gay marriage is not a radical step. It avoids the mess of domestic partnership; it is humane; it is conservative in the best sense of the word.

—Andrew Sullivan (1989)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 25, The Iraq War (Con't)

Retrospectives:

As I think about this war and others the U.S. has contemplated or entered during my conscious life, I realize how strong is the recurrent pattern of threat inflation. Exactly once in the post-WW II era has the real threat been more ominous than officially portrayed. That was during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the world really came within moments of nuclear destruction. Otherwise: the "missile gap." The Gulf of Tonkin. The overall scale of the Soviet menace. Iraq. In each case, the public soberly received official warnings about the imminent threat. In cold retrospect, those warnings were wrong -- or contrived, or overblown, or misperceived. Official claims about the evils of these systems were many times justified. Claims about imminent threats were most of the times hyped.

—James Fallows, 2013

I am not a radical. But more than anything the Iraq War taught me the folly of mocking radicalism. It seemed, back then, that every "sensible" and "serious" person you knew -- left or right -- was for the war. And they were all wrong. Never forget that they were all wrong. And never forget that the radicals with their drum circles and their wild hair were right. Watching reasonable people assemble sober arguments for a disaster was, to put it mildly, searing.

—Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2013

As someone who was involved in day-to-day antiwar activism at the time, the visceral hatred of those opposing the war, and particularly the activists, was impossible to miss. It wasn't opposition. It wasn't disagreement. It was pure, irrational hatred, frequently devolving into accusations of antiwar activists being effectively part of the enemy.... A huge amount of the arguments in favor of the war were essentially genetic: look at the people opposing the war, dirty fucking hippies! How could you stand with them?

—Freddie deBoer, 2013

I was an integral part of the problem. I drank deeply of the neocon Kool-Aid. I was also, clearly countering the trauma of 9/11 by embracing a policy that somewhere in my psyche seemed the only appropriate response to the magnitude of the offense. Prudence, skepticism left me. I’d backed Bush in 2000. I knew Rummy as a friend. And my critical faculties were swamped by fear. These are not excuses. These are simply part of my attempt to understand how wrong I was – and why.

—Andrew Sullivan, 2013

What all of us [who opposed the Iraq war] had in common is probably a simple recognition: War is a big deal. It isn’t normal. It’s not something to take up casually. Any war you can describe as “a war of choice” is a crime. War feeds on and feeds the negative passions. It is to be shunned where possible and regretted when not. Various hawks occasionally protested that “of course” they didn’t enjoy war, but they were almost always lying. Anyone who saw invading foreign lands and ruling other countries by force as extraordinary was forearmed against the lies and delusions of the time.

—Jim Henley, March 2008
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, September 22, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 25, The Iraq War (Con't)

How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

—Future Senator John Kerry, April, 1971
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 25, The Iraq War (Con't)

I always knew the Americans would bring electricity back to Baghdad. I just never thought they'd be shooting it up my ass.

—Young Iraqi translator, Baghdad, November 2003
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 25, The Iraq War (Con't)

The truth is that, for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason.

—Paul Wolfowitz, May, 2003
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, September 19, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 25, The Iraq War (Con't)

[There was a] terrorism bubble that built up over the 1990s... And what we needed to do was go over to that part of the world, I'm afraid, and burst that bubble... And what they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house from Basra to Baghdad, and basically saying, "Which part of this sentence don’t you understand? You don’t think we care about our open society? You think this bubble fantasy, we’re going to just let it grow? Well, suck on this." That... was what this war was about. We could have hit Saudi Arabia. It was part of that bubble. We could have hit Pakistan, We hit Iraq because we could. That’s the real truth.

—Thomas Friedman (Pulitzer-prize winning New York Times columnist), in an interview, May 30, 2003
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 25, The Iraq War (Con't)

Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

—George W. Bush, October 7, 2002
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 25, The Iraq War (Con't)

You can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror.

—George W. Bush, September 25, 2002
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 25, The Iraq War (Con't)

From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August.

—White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, September, 2002, explaining why the Bush administration did not begin hawking the Iraq war earlier
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Francis Spufford on Scottish Independence

Francis Spufforda truly fabulous writer I have recommended beforewrites in the comments to this Crooked Timber thread about the origins of the present possibilities of Scottish independence, and why he cares:
My sense of where this comes from, fwiw, is that we’re seeing another of the long-run institution-shredding consequences of Thatcherism. She was very good at melting solid things into air, and the final thing dissolved may turn out to be the British state itself...
Why do I care about this? Because, in line with my above reading of the history of the last forty years, it seems like yet another victory for a politics in which shared possessions (the National Health Service, a public sector in the economy, a more-than-national citizenship, 300 years of history) are splintered, financialised, privatised, discarded. Because I feel about the potential departure of Scotland the way that a liberal Democrat in North Carolina would feel about Massachusetts buggering off out of the Union of the United States, and taking its electoral college votes with it, forever. Because Scotland – which I certainly do not regard with contempt – contributes a tough, undeferential, vinegary, self-sufficient, Puritan, civic, hardscrabble, emphasis to our shared British politics and culture, without which it would be very noticeably more dominated by smooth looters and PR-people. Because I don’t want Alasdair Gray or Ken Macleod to be foreigners.
The ellipsis above includes details on how Scottish dependence was transformed first by Thatcherism and then by Blair-style labor.  Click through for the whole thing.  And if you're interested, Spufford is an active participant in the whole thread, which includes in the original post a video of him discussing this along with SF writer Ken MacLeod.

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 25, The Iraq War (Con't)

There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.

—Vice President Dick Cheney, August, 2002
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 25, The Iraq War (Con't)

Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

—Downing Street Memo, July, 2002 (made public, May, 2005)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 25, The Iraq War (Con't)

I believe demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.

—Reagan-era national-security official Kenneth Adelman, February, 2002
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, September 12, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 25, The Iraq War (Con't)

I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this.

—George W. Bush to counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, September 12, 2001
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 25, The Iraq War

...As we know, there are known knowns; there are things that we know that we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know.

—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (February, 2002)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 24, 9/11 (Con't)

We can go to the country on this issue because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America.

—Karl Rove, speaking to the RNC, January 18, 2002
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 24, 9/11 (Con't)

I bet it doesn't get any easier from here on.

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

Monday, September 08, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 24, 9/11 (Con't)

The sky was falling and streaked with blood
I heard you calling me, then you disappeared into the dust
Up the stairs, into the fire
Up the stairs, into the fire
I need your kiss, but love and duty called you someplace higher
Somewhere up the stairs, into the fire
May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love

—Bruce Springsteen, "Into the Fire" (2002)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 24, 9/11 (Con't)

The middle part of the country - the great red zone that voted for Bush - is clearly ready for war. The decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead -and may well mount a fifth column.

—Andrew Sullivan, September 16, 2001
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 24, 9/11 (Con't)

I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends. It is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them.

—George Bush, 20 September, 2001

Americans are asking ``Why do they hate us?'' They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.

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

Friday, September 05, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 24, 9/11 (Con't)

Nous sommes tous Américains. ("We are all Americans")

—Headline in Le Monde, 13 September 2001
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 24, 9/11 (Con't)

A Shattered Nation Longs To Care About Stupid Bullshit Again

Onion headline, October 3, 2001
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 24, 9/11 (Con't)

War Is a Force Which Gives Us Meaning

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

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 24, 9/11 (Con't)

Tell the Taliban we're finished with them.

—George W. Bush, September 11, 2001, to the National Security Council
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, September 01, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 24, 9/11 (Con't)

We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.

—George W. Bush, September 11, 2001, addressing the public
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 24, 9/11 (Con't)

More than any of us can bear

—NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliana, September 11, 2001, estimating the number of casualties from the attacks
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 24, 9/11 (Con't)

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveller
Like the beam of a lightless star

—W. S. Merwin, "For the Anniversary of My Death" (1993)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, August 29, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 24, 9/11

The [World Trade Center] towers didn't seem permanent. They remained concepts, no less transient for all their bulk than some routine distortion of light.

—Don Delillo, Players (1977)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 23, American Politics, 1999 - 2001 (Especially Florida, 2000) (Con't)

There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: complete lack of a policy apparatus. Besides the tax cut, which was cut and dried during the campaign, and the education bill, which was really a Ted Kennedy bill, the administration has not done much, either in absolute terms or in comparison to previous administrations at this stage, on domestic policy. What you've got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis. [They] consistently talked and acted as if the height of political sophistication consisted in reducing every issue to its simplest black-and-white terms for public consumption, then steering legislative initiatives or policy proposals as far right as possible.

— John DiIulio, Director of the director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives through August, 2001
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 23, American Politics, 1999 - 2001 (Especially Florida, 2000) (Con't)

On taxes, on education, it was the same. On Social Security, Bush's position was exactly what Reagan always wanted and talked about in the 1970s. I just cant think of any major policy issue on which Bush was different.

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 23, American Politics, 1999 - 2001 (Especially Florida, 2000) (Con't)

Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.

—Justice John Paul Stevens, dissenting opinion in Bush v Gore
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, August 25, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 23, American Politics, 1999 - 2001 (Especially Florida, 2000) (Con't)

Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities.

—Unsigned per curiam majority decision in Bush v. Gore
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 23, American Politics, 1999 - 2001 (Especially Florida, 2000)

Somewhere along the line the dominant political reporters for the most dominant news organizations decided that they didn't like [Gore], and they thought the story line on any given day was bout his being a phony or a liar or a waffler.

—Mark Halperin, Political Director of NBC News
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 22, Two Big Trends: Immigration & Demographic Change & The Rise of the Conservative Counter-Instiutions (Con't)

Public perception of a biased news media, particularly media biased in a liberal direction, has increased over the past 3 presidential elections. To examine what might be influencing this public opinion, the authors look at shifts in public perception of media bias, press coverage of the topic of media bias, and the balance in valence coverage of presidential candidates—all during the 1988, 1992, and 1996 presidential elections. Their results suggest that the rise in public perception that news media are liberally biased is not the result of bias in valence news coverage of the candidates, but, rather, due to increasing news self-coverage that focuses on the general topic of bias in news content. Furthermore, the increased claims of media bias come primarily from conservative elites who have proclaimed a liberal bias that is viewed as including the entire media industry.

— Abstract for Mark D. Watts, et. al., "Elite Cues and Media Bias in Presidential Campaigns: Explaining Public Perceptions of a Liberal Press", Communication Research, April 1999 (vol. 26 no. 2 144-175)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, August 22, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 22, Two Big Trends: Immigration & Demographic Change & The Rise of the Conservative Counter-Instiutions (Con't)

The conservative press is self-consciously conservative and self-consciously part of the team. The liberal press is much larger, but at the same time it sees itself as the establishment press. So it's conflicted. Sometimes it thinks it needs to be critical of both sides.

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 22, Two Big Trends: Immigration & Demographic Change & The Rise of the Conservative Counter-Instiutions (Con't)

I've gotten balanced coverage, and broad coverage--all we could have asked. For heaven sakes, we kid about the 'liberal media,' but every Republican on earth does that.

—Pat Buchanan (1996)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 22, Two Big Trends: Immigration & Demographic Change & The Rise of the Conservative Counter-Instiutions (Con't)

There is some strategy to it [bashing the 'liberal' media]. ... if you watch any great coach, what they try to do is 'work the refs.' Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack on the next one.

—Republican Party Chairman Rich Bond (1992)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 22, Two Big Trends: Immigration & Demographic Change & The Rise of the Conservative Counter-Instiutions (Con't)

Our own country is undergoing the greatest invasion in its history, a migration of millions of illegal aliens yearly from Mexico... A nation that cannot control its own borders can scarcely call itself a state any longer.

—Pat Buchanan (1992)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, August 18, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 22, Two Big Trends: Immigration & Demographic Change & The Rise of the Conservative Counter-Instiutions (Con't)

This bill that we will sign today is not a revolutionary bill. It does not affect the lives of millions. It will not reshape the structure of our daily lives, or really add importantly to either our wealth or our power. Yet it is still one of the most important acts of this Congress and of this administration. For it does repair a very deep and painful flaw in the fabric of American justice. It corrects a cruel and enduring wrong in the conduct of the American Nation.

—Lyndon Johnson, Remarks at the Signing of the Immigration Bill, Liberty Island, New York, October 3, 1965
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them