a desiderative pastiche
The word experience is like a shrapnel shell, and bursts into a
George Santayana (1920, 1956)
People – for civilization is only the accumulations from
innumerable people sharing the experience of a place over time
– do not know what a burden they impose upon the souls of
their finest compatriots when they insist that these estimable
scions be both honorable and compassionate. Like every society,
our laws make us less than humane, and our charity makes us less
than reasonable, such that either would be a worthy obligation,
but together are intolerable, since their mutual necessity for
compromise is quite corrupting. It is no wonder that
inconsistency is the persistent state of the imperfect human
condition, waxing and waning by extremes. People arise by hopeful
promises, and decline by unrequited pledges. This relentless
conflict can only destroy one's spirit, and degrade our culture.
War is neither the cause nor the result of hate ... rather it is
the arena where love and hate battle. If someone hates something
enough to want to destroy it, then that effort of destruction
violates the love of whoever made it, and they will resist those
attacks. A bad man goes to war because he has already surrendered
to evil. A good man goes to war because he loves something more
than himself. A bad man loses his soul in war, and its
devastation disspirits him; while a good man finds his soul in
war, and victory refreshes his spirit. Bad men seek to prove that
all men are weak and vulnerable, while good men attract the
goodness in others, which reinforces them. War is not the problem
... men are ... and without war, men would be worse. The warpath
to love is hard and lonely.
adaptation of Forrest Carter
Our acts, passionate and sincere in their necessity, can take us
places that our souls will not follow, searing images into our
minds that leave us mute, leaving us to slowly bleed to death
from within our broken hearts ... to have felt our brave hope and
terrible fear turn into horrible lust and transcendent joy is
more than any mere mortal should ever be expected to bear! A
warrior in battle feels like he has a foot in two worlds: one in
Heaven and one in Hell, scorched on one side and frozen on the
other, simultaneously sundered and melded, and pierced by love
and hate from all sides. It is worse than torture because it is
The principles which men give to themselves end by overwhelming
their noblest intentions.
Albert Camus [pt 3 "State Terrorism and Rational
Terror" The Rebel (1951)]
The long term versus the short term argument is one used by
John E.E. Dalberg-Acton
You know what makes a good loser? Practice.
Ernest M. Hemingway [Papa, a Personal Memoir
If you show me a good loser, [then] I'll show
you a loser.
Lose as if you like it; win as if you were used to it.
Tommy Hitchcock (1932)
They say I can't take up my rifle
An' fight 'em now no more,
But I ain't a' gonna love 'em,
An' that's for certain sure.
An' I don't want no pardons
For what I was, an' am;
An' I won't be reconstructed,
'Cuz I don't give a damn!
rebel ditty (1867)
Either come back with your shield – or come back on it.
a mother's injunction to her son in ancient
Come back dead.
a Japanese father's admonition to his son in the period
Nice guys finish last.
Leo Durocher ["Take a look at them. All nice guys.
They'll finish last. Nice guys. Finish last." (5 July
Show me a good and gracious loser, and I'll show you a failure.
If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight,
even though the ruler forbid it; if fighting will not result in
victory, then you must not fight even at the ruler's bidding.
Sun-Tzu [The Art of War (ca490BC)]
It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its
They're voting with their feet.
comment by V.I. Lenin about Czarist troops fleeing WWI
battles [also cited as "They voted with their feet."]
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of
government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they
can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that
moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising
the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a
democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a
dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations
has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through
the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from
spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from
liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from
selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from
apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage.
Alexander Tyler [re: fall of the Athenian
Rome fell September 4, 476AD. It was overrun with illegal
immigrants: Visigoths, Franks, Anglos, Saxons, Ostrogoths,
Burgundians, Lombards, Jutes and Vandals, who at first
assimilated and worked as servants, but then came so fast they
did not learn the Latin Language or the Roman form of government.
Highly trained Roman Legions moving rapidly on their advanced
road system, were strained fighting conflicts worldwide. Rome had
a trade deficit, having outsourced most of its grain production
to North Africa, and when Vandals captured that area, Rome did
not have the resources to retaliate. Attila the Hun was
committing terrorist attacks. The city of Rome was on welfare
with citizens being given free bread. One Roman commented: "Those
who live at the expense of the public funds are more numerous
than those who provide them." Tax collectors were "more terrible
than the enemy." Gladiators provided violent entertainment in the
Coliseum. There was injustice in courts, exposure of unwanted
infants, infidelity, immorality and perverted bathhouses.
5th-Century historian Salvian wrote: "O Roman people be ashamed
.... Let nobody think otherwise, the vices of our bad lives have
alone conquered us."
Democracies don't have their freedoms taken away from them by
some external military force. Instead, they give their freedoms
away, politically correct piece by politically correct piece.
You can shackle a man without taking his freedom, and you can
release his bonds without giving him freedom; so the only thing
you can do with a free man is share his freedom.
In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all
its faults, — if they are such; because I think a general
Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government
but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered;
and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well
administered for a course of years, and can only end in
despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people
shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being
incapable of any other."
Benjamin Franklin [Constitutional Convention,
Power intoxicates men. It is never voluntarily surrendered. It
must be taken from them.
James F. Byrnes [15 May 1956 The New York
And remember, where you have a concentration of power
in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of
gangsters get control. History has proven that. All power
corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
John E.E. Dalberg-Acton
There is nothing so good that politicians can't make it bad and
nothing so bad that politicians can't make it worse.
For rulers who think it [rebellion] possible take care to ensure
[against] the risk by ruling reasonably. This brings about a
condition fatal to all political stability, namely that you never
know where to have the politicians. If the fear of God was in
them, it might be possible to come to some general understanding
as to what God disapproved of, and Europe might pull together on
that basis. But the present panic, in which prime ministers drift
from election to election, either fighting or running away from
everybody who shakes a fist at them, makes a European
civilization impossible. For peace and prosperity depend upon the
loyalty of states to civilization. Every meaner consideration
should have given way to this loyalty.
George Bernard Shaw [preface Back to Methuselah
War is the surest enemy of democracy.
In order for us human beings to commit ourselves personally to
the inhumanity of war, we find it necessary first to dehumanize
our opponents, which is in itself a violation of the beliefs of
all religions. Once we characterize our adversaries as beyond the
scope of God's mercy and grace, their lives lose all value. We
deny personal responsibility when we plant landmines and, days or
years later, a stranger to us – often a child – is
crippled or killed. From a great distance, we launch bombs or
missiles with almost total impunity, and never want to know the
number or identity of the victims.
James Earl Carter Jr (10 Dec 2002)
We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own
well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations far
away. We have learned that we must live as men, not as ostriches,
nor as dogs in the manger.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Pleasant it is, when over a great sea the winds trouble the
waters, to gaze from shore upon another's tribulation: not
because any man's troubles are a delectable joy, but because to
perceive from what ills you are free yourself is pleasant.
Titus Lucretius Carus
History may not have credited a country's economy for winning a
war, but national economies have been blamed for losing a war ...
likewise honor. It is strength that wins wars. Money and pride
are just representatives of power ... as a standing military is a
representative of force, a reminder of consequences.
I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our
liberties than standing armies ... if the American people ever
allow private banks to control the issue of currency ... the
banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive
the people of all property until their children will wake
up homeless on the continent that their fathers conquered.
Politicians and economists always offer a "change of history" as
their motivation, but history always emphasizes terminal events
... and it is the military, on both sides of the alteration, that
generates the final conclusion.
paraphrase of Albert Speer
History teaches that war begins when governments believe the
price of aggression is cheap.
Ronald Wilson Reagan
The liberty we cherish, and in which we want all people to share,
has a price. Young Americans are paying it tonight in Iraq
– not out of any grand design for empire, not for oil, not
out of dislike for the Iraqi people, but for
love – love of America, love for her
founding principles, love for her way of life, and love for the
greatness that history has judged to be hers, not because of
riches or power, but because of her abiding commitment to the
cause of human freedom.
John Sidney McCain, Capt USN(ret), US Senator (20 Mar
Trouble doesn't come from someplace out there, but from someplace
in here ... not outside of us, but inside of us.
A mind at peace does not engender wars.
Sophocles [Oedipus Rex]
A nation, like a person, has a mind that must be kept
informed and alert, that must know itself, that understands the
hopes and the needs of its neighbors – all the other
nations that live within the narrowing circle of the world. ...
And a nation, like a person, has something deeper, something more
permanent, something larger than the sum of all its parts. It is
that something which matters most to its future which calls forth
the most sacred guarding of its present.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Every tree and every blade of grass appears to be enemy soldiers.
unknown author of ancient Chinese story
When I was in the army, many years ago, I was an infantryman, and
in the course of what I saw, and did, and came to understand, I
was broken. Sometime after I had returned to the United States
and my life had resumed, I rounded a corner in the Metropolitan
Museum in New York and saw a painting I had known all my life but
which I had not until that moment been able to understand. This
was Winslow Homer's masterfully restrained portrait of a veteran
returning to his fields. The generation touched by fire in the
Civil War understood the great import of this painting, they knew
why the veteran had his back turned to the painter, why he was
alone, why he worked in utter quiet, why the light was so clear,
the scene so tranquil. After years of war and destruction, they
understood, and after having passed this painting for the first
time as a man, so did I.
In the days and in the years that are to come we shall work for a
just and honorable peace, a durable peace, as today we work and
fight for total victory in war. ... We can and we will achieve
such a peace.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
If you agree to do something, do it; don't come back with an
explanation. Explanations as to how you came to fail are not
worth two cents a ton. Nobody wants them or cares for them.
John Peter Altgeld
Freedom: Exemption from the stress of authority in a beggarly
half dozen of restraint's infinite multitude of methods. A
political condition that every nation supposes itself to enjoy in
virtual monopoly. Liberty. The distinction between freedom and
liberty is not accurately known; naturalists have never been able
to find a living specimen of either.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce
... for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will
we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in
truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are
fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest
man gives up but with life itself.
The Declaration of Arbroath (6 Apr 1320)
It ain't the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the
fight in the dog [that matters]!
In every arduous enterprise we consider what we are to lose as
well as what we are to gain; and the more and better stake of
liberty every people possess, the less they will hazard in a vain
attempt to make it more.
He who wishes to fight must first count the cost.
He had never been convinced of that [the purported benefits of
progressive civilization]. What his people had gained in security
they had lost in independence. They had been given knowledge at
the expense of wisdom. Faith had taken the place of religions.
They had secured life and surrendered livings.
American intelligence, and especially American SIGINT,
signals intelligence, is the frontline of defense in [these]
dramatically changed circumstances, circumstances in which if we
fail to do our job well and completely, more Americans will
almost certainly die. The speed of operations, the ruthlessness
of the enemy, the pace of modern communications have called on us
to do things and to do them in ways never before required. We've
worked hard to find innovative ways to protect the American
people and the liberties we hold dear. And in doing so, we have
not forgotten who we [as fellow Americans] are either.
Michael V. Hayden, GEN AUS [23 Jan 2006 address to the
National Press Club by the principal Deputy Director of National
Intelligence and the former Director of the National Security
Fighting insurgents is messy and slow, like eating soup with a
Thomas Edward Lawrence ["Lawrence of Arabia"; T.E.
It's very hard to fight a terrorist war without intelligence. By
definition, you can only win battles against terrorists
preemptively – that's to say, you find out what they're
planning to do next Thursday and you stop it cold on Wednesday.
Capturing them on Friday while you're still pulling your dead
from the rubble is poor consolation.
No society that's unfair is ever stable; so to wreck it, just
exploit the unfairness.
We must find the strength to fight for this idea [liberty]; and
the compassion to make it universal.
Tony Blair [18 July 2003 address to Congress]
We [the USA] are the outpost of freedom, and if we don't defend
it [liberty] around the world, then we won't defend it at home.
Rush Limbaugh (14 March 2005)
Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and
Hubert H. Humphrey
As long as people believe in absurdities, they will
continue to commit atrocities.
Fran‡ois Marie Arouet Voltaire
Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities,
War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and
goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind.
He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out…and
help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him
no harm and with whom he has no quarrel. ... And in the intervals
between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for
the universal brotherhood of man – with
Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens; What Is
For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with
iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered
Isaiah 59:3 KJV Bible
If you show a slogan to an American, he will admire it so much
that he'll either kill for it, or die for it.
paraphrase of William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers
Logomachy: A war in which the weapons are words and the wounds
punctures in the swim-bladder of self-esteem – a kind of
contest in which, the vanquished being unconscious of defeat, the
victor is denied the reward of success.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce
We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die
together or we are going to learn to live together and if we are
to live together we have to talk.
Truth will do well enough if left to shift for herself .... She
has no need of force to procure entrance into the minds of men.
Truth will not set you free – it will only change your
shackles, and fetter you to a different master.
You see, a fool slogan can get you into anything, but you never
heard of a slogan getting you out of anything. It takes either
bullets, hard work, or money to get you out of anything.
William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers (1925)
Freedom of speech is not what it used to be in America. It has
been so abused by some that it is not exercised by others.
Margaret Chase Smith ["Declaration of Conscience" (1
At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of
ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept
without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or
that or the other, but it is not done ....
Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself
silenced with surprising effectiveness.
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair]
Such as it is, the press has become the greatest power within the
Western World, more powerful than the legislature, the executive
and judiciary. One would like to ask: by whom has it been
elected, and to whom is it responsible?
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
Vietnam was the first war ever fought without any censorship.
Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the
William C. Westmoreland [Time 5 Apr
Nothing can be more contemptible than to suppose Public Records
to be true.
William Blake ["Annotations to Bishop Watson" in An
Apology for the Bible in a Series of Letters Addressed to Thomas
The loud little handful will shout for war. The pulpit will
warily and cautiously protest at first .... The great mass of the
nation will rub its sleepy eyes, and will try to make out why
there should be a war, and they will say earnestly and
indignantly: It is unjust and dishonorable and there is
no need for war. Then the few will shout even louder
.... Before long you will see a curious thing: anti-war speakers
will be stoned from the platform, and free speech will be
strangled by hordes of furious men who still agree with the
speakers but dare not admit it .... Next, statesmen will invent
cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and
every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities,
and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any
refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself
that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he
enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.
Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens]
Every war is a battleground of contending ideas ... begun with
passionate phrases and ended with exhausted clichés. New
words can always be invented, but a dead language means nothing
to the living. If speech is to matter, it must be demonstrated,
surely and unequivocally. Imprecise and erratic utterances are an
invitation to chaos.
If it [U.N.] cannot – or will not – distinguish
between terrorists who target civilians and a democracy that
seeks to stop the terrorism while minimizing civilian casualties,
[then] it has become part of the problem, rather than part of the
There is always a well-known solution to every human problem
– neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken
Everything in war is very simple, but the simplest thing is
Karl von Clausewitz
We live in a world of unnecessary complexity ... such is our
curse. We don't believe that the mad world is sufficiently mad,
so we create even greater madness, and then point to the chaos we
have created as proof of our theory. Ours is a tragic history,
but the greatest comedy of all is tragedy.
paraphrase of Stuart M. Kaminsky
There is no greater chaos than when violence suddenly and
unexpectedly rips through a crowd of artless people, instantly
changing its indifferent selfishness or innocent peace or
ignorant joy into maddened panic.
paraphrase of David Baldacci (2003)
It is staggering that anyone could be so self-infatuated as to
single out their own particular policy preferences as
anti-war. Anyone who is not a sadist or an idiot
is anti-war. The only serious issue is how best to limit, deter
or conclude war. But responsibility for confronting this issue is
evaded by those preoccupied with the moral preening of being
My instinct as an individualist and artist has always warned me
most urgently against this capacity of men for becoming drunk on
collective suffering, collective pride, collective hatred, and
collective honor. When this morbid exaltation becomes perceptible
in a room, a hall, a village, a city, or a country, I grow cold
and distrustful; a shudder comes over me, for already, while most
of my fellow men are still weeping with rapture and enthusiasm,
still cheering and venting protestations of brotherhood, I see
blood flowing and cities going up in flames.
It's not that politicians never want to know the truth, or are
incapable of speaking it, but that they always want to make it
into something more useful or more profitable.
paraphrase of Vince Flynn (2001)
If you tell the truth only because you might get caught in a lie,
then you're not honest, but merely cunning.
paraphrase of Suzanne Brockmann (2002)
I have noticed that if you have deeply held political opinions,
you can pretty much make anything and everything fit them.
paraphrase of Robert B. Parker
Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful
and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair]
Battle: A method of untying with the teeth a political knot that
would not yield to the tongue.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce
Controversy: A battle in which spittle or ink replaces the
injurious cannon-ball and the inconsiderate bayonet.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce
The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost
duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation.
It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our
nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation
of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national
Adolf Hitler [1 February 1933 Proclamation]
There have been a lot of memorable days in our country's history,
but some of them we'd rather forget. September 11th, 2001 is one
of those. It isn't a day to celebrate, but it's a day we
shouldn't forget, either .... Death by design. Some people who
hated Americans set out to kill a lot of us and they succeeded.
Americans are puzzled over why so many people in the world hate
us...We know that and we're trying to protect ourselves with more
weapons. We have to do it, I guess, but might be better if we
figured out how to behave as a nation in a way that wouldn't make
so many people in the world want to kill us.
a CBS News commentator
Since these spoiled brats come from a privileged lifestyle in a
protected culture where words seldom have any consequences, as
long as you choose the right ones, words don't seem like weapons
paraphrase of Gerard van der Leun
The problem with the shrinking landscape of our modern crises is
that well educated and well paid professionals no longer put
their lives on the line for anything except privilege or
advantage, and firmly believe that anyone who accedes to more
noble motives is either foolish or stupid.
paraphrase of Robert K. Tanenbaum (2003)
We must avoid using misleading and offensive terms that link
Islam with those who subvert this great religion or who distort
its teachings to justify terrorist activities...Fascist ideology
doesn't have anything to do with the way global terrorist
networks think or operate, and it doesn't have anything to do
with the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world who
practice the peaceful teachings of Islam.
Russ Feingold [Wisconsin Democrat Senator objecting to
use of the term "Islamic fascists" as a descriptor]
Cry less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love
more; and all good things are yours.
Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of
Pope Benedict XVI [at Regensburg University]
Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you
will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to
spread by the sword the faith he preached.
Manual II Paleologos of Byzantine (14th-Century
Orthodox Christian emperor)
Jihad is not about spreading Islam with the sword.
Javed Ahmed Gamdi
Words are weapons, and it is dangerous ... to borrow them from
the arsenal of the enemy.
George Santayana [Orbiter Scripta (1936)]
Language can infiltrate and control a society more effectively
than a military force.
Poetry, what is it? Just a voice, a bit of an eddy in the air,
and gosh, what use would that be against machineguns?
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair]
When words fail, war begins; and when dispute fails, words make
paraphrase of Wilford Funk ["When words fail, wars
begin. When wars finally end, we settle our disputes with
Mischief begins with words.
It is scary how easily so many people can be brainwashed by
sheer repetition of a word.
Like every argument I ever had a part of, nobody changed anybody.
When a thing is said to be not worth refuting you may be sure
that either it is flagrantly stupid – in which case all
comment is superfluous – or it is something formidable, the
very crux of the problem.
Miguel de Unamuno [ch 5 The Tragic Sense of Life
compiled by Ed Staff