Cafe Quotables

Things said around the Cafe we thought were good enough to save.

- The defining conflict of the American political system has always been the struggle between liberal democracy and plutocracy. A government serving the interests of all Americans versus a government of the wealthy, by the wealthy, for the wealthy.

- You see, the problem isn’t that some people are wealthy and most people aren’t. That’s both inevitable and inoffensive when kept within reason. The problem arises when . . . as is happening right now, wealth becomes so concentrated that it denies a fair share and even more importantly a fair chance to get ahead to everyone else . . . because when that happens, it also starts to corrupt democracy itself . . .

- If the government really doesn’t have anything to do with the accumulation of private wealth, then why do the wealthy spend so much money trying to control it?

- I’ve always been a strict adherent to the Newt Gingrich school of traditional family values. I was married three times and cheated on all three of them.

- What is it with liberals and this fairness crap? Do you think conservatives spend one bloody minute worrying about whether they’re being fair to us? Hell no. They’re in a street fight — no holds barred. Meanwhile, we liberals try to follow the blasted Marquess of Queensberry Rules. No wonder we’re getting our butts kicked.

- I’ll bet Bush thinks Norma Rae is the name of one of his friends’ yachts, huffed Winston. That’s how attuned the guy is to the concerns of working people.

- Call me naive, but I don’t think liberals should hate. That’s for the other side. And boy howdy, can those folks hate. Just listen to conservative talk radio or read any of the selections from the right’s hate-of-the-month book club.

- He’s what you might call a fully integrated Republican: He supports both the pro-big-business-silk-stocking and the “anti-sin”-Religious-Right branches of the party (he just doesn’t think the dictates of the latter apply to him personally).

- Notice the element of “cross-selling” that’s present in these law and economics junkets. First, rich conservatives invest in academia to build a pool of prestigious intellectual talent. Then they use those intellectuals, not just in the battle to control the Academy itself, but also to help sell right wing causes to important non-academic policy makers, in this instance judges. It’s all about networking. And these guys are maestros at it.

- And it isn’t much better on cable television, said Tom. It isn’t just Fox anymore . . . MSNBC, CNBC and CNN are also increasingly all conservative, all the time. And the few, quote, liberals, close quote, they do give regular spots to, usually as co-hosts and often lined up against more than one adversary, are generally either not really all that liberal . . . or, a lot of the time, seem to have been chosen to play the role of a left wing Hamilton Burger to a right wing Perry Mason.”

- Putting it more bluntly, said Winston, getting their butts kicked is part of their job description.

- The right, to a large extent, has succeeded in redefining the very concept of what it means to be a good citizen . . . even a good person. No longer is an honorable life judged primarily by one’s service to others. Today it’s all about self interest . . . Looking out exclusively for number one has somehow been transformed from an expression of selfishness into a corrupted view of nobility. They have taken something beautiful and made it ugly . . .

- Deceit isn’t a character flaw for George W. Bush. It’s a way of life.

- What? Because we’re liberals, you thought the only things we enjoy besides politics are listening to Barbara Streisand recordings and exchanging vegan recipes? Jeez, get a life.

- It’s a statement of the times, I suppose, that in an age when nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, the longest lasting relationship in the lives of many Americans is with their creditors — a “marriage” that all too often truly is “until death do we part.”

- Whenever I get too down in the dumps about politics, I always try to remind myself how much worse things could be. After all, God could have made me a Republican.

- And just one other thing . . . it’s a small thing. I’m not asking for that much. I just want Bush to show some sign that he realizes that other lives . . . the lives of young American soldiers, the lives of Iraqis, too, for that matter . . . I want to see some evidence, some hint that he understands that those lives are just as precious as his was back then . . . back when he decided to take the safer road. Having escaped the horror himself, I want him to seem a little less happy about sending others to face it. That’s it. That’s all I’m asking.

- At least in Vietnam, the bastards made a halfway credible effort of covering up their deceit. With the current bunch . . . with Bush and these so-called neoconservatives, it’s like they don’t even think they need to bother. It’s just one lie after another. The more blatant the better. And every time you catch them in one, they just spout three more. My God, the list could fill a piece of paper stretching to the moon — Iraq supports al Qaeda, Saddam was behind Sept. 11, weapons of mass destruction, an easy bloodless war, cheering crowds and on and on . . .

- The real question isn’t why Democrats are so mad, said Horace. The real question is why everybody else isn’t.

- What’s really scary today isn’t so much that political and economic power is becoming incredibly concentrated. It’s that it’s becoming incredibly concentrated in the hands of an incredibly ruthless collection of people.

- I’d love for there to be a heaven, if for no other reason than it would be great fun to be able to walk up to guys like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and say, “See, asshole, people like me made it up here, too, and, oh, by the way, they let me keep my ACLU card.”

- Listening to radio today is like going to McDonald’s: Wherever you are, you always know you’ll always get exactly the same thing.

- Wherever Americans turn for information today, they find the same corporate facades staring back at them. Take Viacom, as an example: Turn on David Letterman or Dan Rather and you’re watching Viacom, via its subsidiary CBS. Tire of the tube and pick up a good book, say one published by Simon & Schuster, it’s Viacom again. Say the hell with that and decide to go to a movie produced by Paramount Pictures — got you again. And we haven’t even talked about its extensive holdings in radio, magazines, the Internet and live entertainment.

- “Tax and spend” liberals? Get real: Given the astronomical deficits run up by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, it’s actually a wonder that at least one conservative politician or pundit isn’t struck dead by lightning every day of the year for mouthing such nonsense.

- Trying to sell a liberal agenda, while denying we’re liberals, is like trying to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ, while insisting you’re not a Christian. It won’t work. You can’t sell an idea you yourself seem embarrassed to embrace.

- Liberals Are Truth Tellers: Guess Who Isn’t?

- The scary thing isn’t that he’s a crappy president . . . or even the crappiest president in American history. The scary thing is that he’s a crappy president on a mission — a crappy president who’s trying to remake the world in his own crappy image. And he’s already well along the road to making it happen.

- Four more years. Four more years. Four mother fucking more years.

- Never underestimate the power of truth, Zach. True, people can hide from it for a time, ignore it . . . even bury it a mile deep in the muck. But they can’t destroy it. It’s always there, waiting in the shadows, ready to pull down anyone who abuses it.

- Well, folks, the right wing’s days of whine and Rushes are over. It’s their country now. They stole it fair and square. And from now on, when they royally fuck everything up, which, rest assured, they will continue to do on a regular basis, they’ll have a hell of a time trying to blame it on anybody else.

- I’m inclined to believe that in an election, voters end up being just about as smart as the candidates and the media treat them: Which means, of course, that here of late, they haven’t been very smart at all.

- The President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, even Colin Powell, all of them, every God damned one of them, looked us straight in the eyes and lied! Lied about going to war, about killing thousands of people, as though it was no bigger deal then shaving a few strokes off a golf score.

- You can waste a hero’s life as easily as anybody else’s.

- Dying is no disgrace. Everybody who’s anybody does it. Abraham Lincoln died. So did Babe Ruth, John the Baptist and Jack Benny. The Marxes all did their part — Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, Zeppo and, of course, Karl. Dead as a doorknob, every one. Roy Rogers died. So did his horse, Trigger. They stuffed him afterwards, you know — the horse, not Roy.

- Dying is easy. Living through George W. Bush winning a second term is hard.

- Never hate. Just get pissed off a lot.

- Don’t take any shit from anybody. But be very careful how you define shit.

- The only thing predictable in war is suffering. Starting a war to achieve political ends, is like starting a forest fire to take down one sick tree. You may well get your tree, but you’ll get a lot of other things too.

- There are, of course, just wars. But they are rarer still than snowball fights at the equator.

- If Jesus were alive today, he’d pass right by the money changing tables and head directly to Bank One, Chase, Citibank and MBNA.

- Freedom of Speech isn’t just a philosophical concept, or the embodiment of a poetic truth. It’s the juice that runs democracy. And when only one side gets to be heard, democracy doesn’t work.

- Never talk during a movie, even an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

- Tip restaurant servers at least 20 percent. I have it on good authority that good tippers get an automatic pass into heaven.

- William Allen White once famously wrote, “Peace without justice is tyranny.” If that’s true, then what should we make of democracy without justice?

- That’s the problem with the current media fascination with trying to divide Americans into two neat little groups — religious and secular. You can’t do that. You can’t just look at whether someone’s, quote, a believer, close quote. You also have to look at what it is they believe.

- . . . there’s no way for logic or science to trump faith in the eyes of the fundamentalist, because fundamentalism, by its nature, holds itself accountable to neither.

- The problem, of course, is that not all faith is true or, for that matter, even wise. And when people try to transform their religious faith into proposed governmental policies, there’s no way to put that faith to the test, or even to rationally debate it. And rational debate is the lifeblood of democracy.

- Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and the rest of their bunch have no more in common with Martin Luther King than a mosquito has with a phlebotomist working for the Red Cross. True, they both deal with the same general subject matter, but there the similarity most assuredly ends.

- We also need to remember, said Horace, according to a Harris poll only about 18 percent of Americans call themselves liberals . . . which would seem to imply that we’ve still got lots of space available in that big tent. Surely there’s room enough for both religious and secular liberals.

- We can laugh about this all we want, but the truth is millions and millions of Americans believe every word of it. Ordinary people . . . folks a lot like us. We see them every day shopping at the local supermarket, filling their cars up with gas and waiting to be seen in doctors’ offices. Good honest Americans who just happen to believe, with all their hearts, that Armageddon is inevitable . . . that the destruction of this beautiful planet and the slaughter of billions upon billions of people . . . all done, directly or indirectly, by God’s hand, is something that not only may happen, but something that must happen. And what’s even scarier . . . and I don’t mind telling you, it scares the hell out of me, is that many of these people don’t see this as a bad thing at all, but, instead, as something wonderful . . . a necessary step in Christ’s return, bringing with him their personal tickets to paradise.

- In other words, added Tom, we live in a nation in which one of the most politically powerful segments of the population is dedicated to pursuing a political agenda based to a significant degree upon the desire to advance a doomsday version of Biblical prophesy.

- But let’s say your political goal, far from giving the poor a neighborly hand up, is actually to undercut programs designed to help them, or more precisely to attack government support for them as a wedge issue to achieve other political ends. How do you go about it? Well, if you’re Ronald Reagan, following in the footsteps of Richard Nixon, you reframe the issue, as George Lakoff puts it. You definitely don’t talk about people being down on their luck. And you sure don’t discuss things like structural unemployment, non-living wages or the shame of hungry kids. You talk about “Welfare Queens.” You take the concept of poverty and demonize it, and if you can demonize it in a way that stirs up long simmering racial hostilities, hey, all the better.

- Sometimes it’s the quiet wars, the ones fought through subterfuge, that are the most damaging.

- For over 30 years now, the political right has been waging a propaganda war against poor people. And for the most part, no one has even tried to fight back. The poor themselves, of course, lack the power to do so. And as for their traditional champions in the political left, well, in far too many instances, they’ve been otherwise engaged.

- A person who works as hard as Maggie shouldn’t be poor. But, of course, shouldn’t doesn’t always mean isn’t. And even working three jobs wasn’t good enough to raise her family of four above the poverty level. Three jobs, yes, but three crap jobs, paying crap wages, with crap hours and crap benefits, actually no benefits. And crap times three still equals crap.

4 Responses to “Cafe Quotables”

  1. anya_mystica Says:

    This was great! I’m always looking for the right words in political chat. This gave me many good ideas and quotes. thx

  2. Pulpiteer Says:

    Good stuff. Can’t wait to see this grow. I’m currently trying to understand why the revolution hasn’t begun yet.

  3. LadyMorgain Says:

    I think the same pulpiteer. Revolution!! When will the common man or womanin this country realize that this country is on a path of NO RIGHTS AT ALL!! GWB and Cheny and allthe rest, are tkaing us down a road of no return, and I truly fear for my children. Why, what, who, will it take for us to rise up in mass in this country and take back our freedoms??? I sit and shake my head….and then I think, maybe it has to begin withjust one. We each should just rise up, stand up in our living rooms, and keep walking our the door. Remember the scence from the old movie Network, I believe, when he yells out the windows….I’m mad as Hell and I’m not going tot ake it anymore???? Well, that is whatw e need.

  4. Argon Says:

    I absolutely love the Democracy Cafe’ - I wish there was such a refuge here in Tulsa (home of Oral Roberts 900 ft Jesus).

    I’ve heard (and learned) that Economics is politics in disguise. A graduate student TA once said that teaching economics was like teaching Druidisum, you don’t necessarily have to believe or practice it to teach it (or speak it).

    The Chicago School of Economics (Greenspan, supply side, ‘free-trade’)certainly has played a key role in the impending global economic catastrophe, but mostly its just boils down to the seven deadly sins - particularly greed, averice, prife and lust (lust for power, lust for money) that has brought us to this crossroads. (Okay so maybe the crosswoods was when we finally abandoned the Bretton Woods - thank Nixon).

    It is not communist or socialist to say that Democracy does not equate Capitialism, Capitialism is not democracy, and the two can be mutually exclusive. There is no such thing as a “free market”, it is an ideal (just like true democracy, socialism, communisum, and Plato’s perfect mirror world).
    All markets are regulated (controled) in some manner. Certainly governments not only control markets but also create markets; ometimes by trade associations, consortiums, agreements. Sometimes markets can even be controled by individuals. We heard from Adam Smith’s “Hidden Hand” in the form of the energy traders of Enron boasting about “stealing grandma Millies social security check”.

    Checks and balances? The founding fathers knew that power cannot be trusted to imperfect man, that it collects and corrupts. As Jon Stewart recently commented on the Gonsalas “Hearings” and response to Alberto’s statements on the role of congress: The Congress has official been shaved and newtered”.

    Just how deep is the rabbit hole? $8 BILLION + “missing” from Iraq and no US agency is even looking? Judging by the way gold is moving it’s being well “washed”. LaRouche certainly has some valid points about economics and empire.

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