November 14, 2010

“It became necessary...” – from Vietnam to Afghanistan


“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”
       Comment by an unidentified U.S. Army Major during the Vietnam war
       This oft-cited and satirized remark was reported by Associated Press journalist Peter Arnett in a story published in American newspapers on February 8, 1968. The Major was referring to destruction of the village of Ben Tre by American bombs, to prevent it from being taken by the Communist Viet Cong troops.


“In splintered gardens that once grew green, on rubble where a graceful tower had stood, U.S. Marines advance under fire. Here was a paradox of war: the only way Hué could be won was by destroying it.” 
       From the caption of a photo showing the remains of the city of Hué during the Vietnam War
       In Life magazine, March 8, 1968


“Our military leaders...want to have a successful counterinsurgency operation that doesn’t destroy Kandahar in the effort to save Kandahar.”
       U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
       In remarks about America’s “counterinsurgency” strategy in Afghanistan, during a joint appearance with Afghan president Hamid Karzai in Washington on May 14, 2010. To date, most of Kandahar’s buildings are still standing. (Of course, there have also been roughly 7,000 Afghan civilian casualties since 2006.)


“Gas-s-s-s!...or It May Become Necessary to Destroy the World to Save It!” 
       The full title of a 1970 Grade B apocalyptic cult comedy movie directed by Roger Corman 

       (OK, maybe Grade Z, but it does have a rare movie appearance by Country Joe and the Fish.)


“It Became Necessary to Destroy the Planet in Order to Save It!”
       Khalil Bendib
       Algerian-born American political cartoonist
       Title of a 2003 book collecting some of Bendib’s scathing cartoons


“In order to destroy the Rebellion it became necessary to destroy slavery.”
       Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899)
       American writer, orator and social and political activist
       Comment about the Civil War in his Centennial Day speech at Peoria, Illinois on July 4, 1876

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Further reading: books of quotations and war and peace…

September 21, 2010

You’re no Jack Kennedy / Sarah Palin / Ronald Reagan / (Insert Name Here)...


“I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”
       Lloyd M. Bentsen (1921-2006)
       U.S. Senator from Texas and 1988 Democratic candidate for Vice President
       This legendary put down was unleashed by Bentsen against Republican vice-presidential candidate Senator Dan Quayle in their televised debate on October 5, 1988. Prior to the debate, Quayle had been defending his relative youth and lack of experience by comparing himself to the young John F. Kennedy. Bentsen was ready to pounce if Quayle mentioned Kennedy in the debate. Sure enough, Quayle answered a question from journalist Tom Brokaw by saying: “I have far more experience than many others that sought the office of Vice President of this country. I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency.” Bentsen responded with his famous “You’re no Jack Kennedy” zinger, creating a new formula for an insult that has been used ever since. 


“I know Sarah Palin. I respect Sarah Palin. And with all due respect - Christine O’Donnell is no Sarah Palin.”
       Republican media pundit Bill Kristol
       Comment to CNN on September 13, 2010, dissing Connecticut Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell a few days before she defeated Republican Party favorite Mike Castle in the state’s Republican primary election. O’Donnell had been publicly endorsed by Sarah Palin.


“This fellow they’ve nominated claims he’s the new Thomas Jefferson. Well, let me tell you something. I knew Thomas Jefferson. He was a friend of mine. And Governor, you’re no Thomas Jefferson!”
       President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)
       His joking comment about Democratic Presidential nominee Bill Clinton (and his own age) in an address at the Republican National Convention, August 17, 1992


“The 2008 [Republican] presidential candidates try to imitate my father and proclaim themselves more Reaganesque than their competitors. Where is Lloyd Bentsen when you need him? ‘I knew Ronald Reagan…Senator [or Governor], you’re no Ronald Reagan.’”
       Patti Davis
       Actress, author and daughter of Ronald and Nancy Reagan
       In an op-ed in Newsweek, December 29, 2007


“I would say to George Bush, ‘You are no Harry Truman.’”
       Margaret Truman (1924-2008)
       Daughter of President Harry Truman
       Her response to comments by President George H. W. Bush comparing himself to President Harry Truman, during the 1992 Presidential campaign


“Al, I was an Iowa farmboy. Iowa farmboys are friends of mine, and you’re no Iowa farmboy.”
       Republican National Committee Chair Jim Nicholson
       Quote in an RNC press release (March 17, 1999) responding to Vice President Al Gore’s claim that he did a lot of farm work as a young man, such as cleaning out “hog waste with a shovel and a hose.” Nicholson added: “Mr. Vice President, with all due respect, you’re shoveling a lot more of it right now than you ever did back then.”

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on my quotations Facebook group.

Brush up on your insults…

August 23, 2010

Squeaky wheels get the grease (sometimes)…


“I hate to be a kicker, I always long for peace,
But the wheel that does the squeaking is the one that gets the grease.”
       Attributed to American humorist Josh Billings (1818-1885) 
       From a poem titled “The Kicker” 
       The poem “The Kicker” has been attributed to Josh Billings since at least 1910 and is cited as his in many books of quotations. However, it does not appear in Billings’ own published works. In the 1800s, the term “kicker” meant someone who was a  constant complainer. The idea that a complainer is like a squeaky wheel who stops making noise when he gets “greased” or “oiled” (i.e., is given what he’s yammering to get) may predate Billings. But many sources credit the oft-quoted, alleged Billings poem for making “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” a common saying.


“Where I work, the squeaky wheel gets replaced.”
       Sweatshirt slogan (SHOPZEUS)


“You know just because the majority thinks something is right, doesn’t make it right. So, that is up to us, the people that see the wrong, that see the injustice, that stay educated, stay informed, stay involved. And there’s an old phrase ‘the squeaky wheel, gets the oil.’ Right now, our wheels aren’t very squeaky; the other side, they’re the ones making all the racket...We just have to get up, stand up, speak out, and don’t be silent.”
       Otep Shamaya
       Heavy metal musician and liberal activist
       In an interview on, October 2, 2009


“Americans believe, ‘The squeaky wheel gets the grease’ (so it’s best to speak up), the Japanese say, ‘The nail that sticks out gets hammered back in’ (so it’s best to remain silent if you don’t want to be hit on the head).” 
       Deborah Tannen  
       In her book Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work (1994)


“Folks, the squeaky wheel of activist conservatism and American populism might be getting the grease (i.e., a lot of media attention) right now, but when election time comes the buzz and passion of a new movement will matter less than appealing to the widest group of voters possible with the most credible candidate possible...After all, we saw the Tea Party in another form almost two decades ago: its name was H. Ross Perot.”
       John Tantillo
       American marketing consultant and columnist for Fox News  
       Comment in a post on the Fox News website about the Florida Governor’s race, which pits Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio against former Republican turned Independent, Gov. Charlie Crist

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on my quotations Facebook group.

Recommended books about familiar sayings and idioms…

August 6, 2010

“Tyranny of the majority” vs. “tyranny of the minority.” Is one worse than the other?


“Tyranny of the Majority.” (“Tyrannie De La Majorité”)
       Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)
       French historian and political pundit 
       Title of a section in Chapter XV of his book Democracy in America (1835)
       Tocqueville’s use of the phrase “Tyranny of the Majority” in his famed book about his travels in America is often credited as its origin. In fact, it had been used before. For example, it appears in one of the “Letters of Agrippa,” the American anti-federalist documents believed to be written by James Winthrop in the late 1780s. The Agrippa letter dated February 5, 1788 says: “A bill of rights...serves to secure the minority against the usurpation and tyranny of the majority.” Two decades before that, Voltaire had used the similar phrase “tyranny of the many” (“tyrannie de plusiers”) in his Philosophical Dictionary (1764).


“The tyranny of the minority is infinitely more odious and intolerable and more to be feared than that of the majority.”
       William McKinley (1843-1901)
       U.S. Congressman and 25th President of the United States,
       Comment to the House of Representatives, January 1886


“The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather that of the party...that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.”
       Lord Acton (1834-1902)
       British historian
       In an article in the Quarterly Review, 1879; reprinted in the posthumously published book collecting some of his writings, The History of Freedom (1907)


“There can be a tyranny of the majority or a tyranny of the minority, tyranny of the government or tyranny of the people through government. Majority and minority, governing and nongoverning, factions seek power and produce evil.”
       Manus I. Midlarsky
       Professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution, Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
       In his book Handbook of War Studies III (2009)


“There has been a disturbing trend lately where the tyranny of the minority is now holding sway more and more in the halls of Washington, D.C., thwarting the will of the majority...In health care, the will of the people was thwarted; on the Arizona Immigration issue, the will of the people again was thwarted; and now the will of the people was thwarted in California, which bans same sex marriages.”
       Editorial on the conservative blog, August 5, 2010 
       Criticizing the Obama health care legislation and recent court decisions overturning the anti-immigration law in Arizona and the anti-Gay marriage law (Proposition 8) in California


“A word like ‘tyranny’ is interesting for its inevitable conjuring up of concerns about the tyranny of the majority, a misstep of democracy that judges – in their independence from the political process – are able to correct.”
       Writer Chris Geidner
       Commentary on the court decision overturning California’s Prop 8
       In the Gay & Lesbian News Magazine The Metro Weekly, August 5, 2010

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Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on my quotations Facebook group.

More political quotations...

July 19, 2010

Thorstein Veblen’s “conspicuous consumption” gets updated…


“Conspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means of reputability...No class of society, not even the most abjectly poor, forgoes all customary conspicuous consumption.”
       Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929)
       American sociologist and economist
       The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), Chapter 4
       Veblen coined the term “conspicuous consumption” to refer to the way some people use obviously lavish spending to demonstrate their wealth (often regardless of whether they are actually wealthy).


“The Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) roadster has a 1,000 pound battery that needs to be replaced every 7 years at a cost of about $36,000...It’s conspicuous consumption for wealthy liberals — in much the same way that huge SUVs were the vehicle of choice for rich conservatives a few years ago.”
       Investment analyst Kevin McElroy
       On his blog, July 16, 2010
       The base price of a Tesla Roadster is $101,500


“Sex and the City 2” (R) Sarah Jessica Parker and her gal pals are back in a bloated commercial for conspicuous consumption. It amounts to a long shopping trip through Manhattan followed by a long shopping trip through a resort hotel in Abu Dhabi.”
       Film critic Mike Giuliano
       In a “capsule review” posted on July 1, 2010


“The new champion of conspicuous consumption – iPhone division, the Kings Button iPhone mod, in which Austrian jeweler Peter Aloisson will encrust your device in three kinds of 18-carat gold (white, yellow and rose) and 6.6 carats of diamonds, for the ‘What Financial Crisis?’ sum of $2.5 million.”
       Tech blogger Lonnie Lazar
       On the Cult of Mac site, Feb. 26, 2009


“The only thing sadder than this diamond pacifier is that it is available for $17,000 online. While we’re all for conspicuous consumption and the oppression of the proletariat, there’s something about submitting babies to our powerful consumerist tendencies that just doesn’t sit right with us.”
       Tech blogger John Biggs
       On the Gizmodo site, June 5, 2006


“A few weeks ago, there was a newspaper report on how ‘middle-aged’ women in the US…were suddenly purchasing sexy lingerie. Now, it wouldn’t have caused much of a stir if 20-somethings were doing the same...But just because 50-something women are sporting sexy innerwear, it’s become conspicuous consumption.”
       Blogger Sushmita Bose
       On the site, July 11, 2010

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Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on my quotations Facebook group.

July 15, 2010

Some pointed responses to Tony Hayward’s infamous quote


“There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do. I’d like my life back.”
       BP CEO Tony Hayward 
       Tone deaf comment to a reporter on May 30, 2010 about British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster and the resulting massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico


    Political cartoon by Jack Ohman 
    Published in The Oregonian, June 2010


“Americans watched as BP’s Tony Hayward looking pitifully into television cameras exclaiming to the world that he ‘wants his life back’, totally forgetting about the 11 lives that were lost on the Deepwater Horizon on April 20, 2010…To the rest of us who heard him speak, it’s crystal clear that money does not bring back life and neither does a millionaire’s self-pity.”
       Journalist Gregory Boyce 
       Post on the site, June 21, 2010


“BP CEO Tony Hayward said he would just like to get his life back. He wants to get his life back! You know, I say give him life plus 20.”
       Jay Leno
       On The Tonight Show, June 8, 2010


“BP wants their life back.
BP wants a little break.
BP’s had their fill of this nasty spill 
And it’s slimed their precious corp’rate name...
‘Can’t we get back to just making money?
Can’t we get back to a simpler time 
When we weren't held accountable 
   for the nature of our crimes?”
       Songwriter Mick Terry
       In his sardonic song “BP Wants Their Life Back”

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Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on my quotations Facebook group.

Further reading about some of the some of the stupidest things ever said or done…

July 10, 2010

“I never promised you a rose garden…”


“I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” 
       Hannah Green (pen name of Joanne Greenberg)
       Title of
her 1964 novel, which is the real origin of the saying.
       Of course, it was made even more famous by country singer
Lynn Anderson’s 1970 hit song of the same name. The well-known opening lyrics, written by Joe South, are: “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.” Greenberg’s novel is a semi-autobiographical account of a her struggle with schizophrenia as a teenager. In an emotional scene in the book, her therapist tells her: “I never promised you a rose garden. I never promised you perfect justice and I never promised you peace or happiness. My help is that so you can be free to fight for all of these things. The only reality I offer is challenge, and being well is being free to accept it or not at whatever level you are capable. I never promise lies, and the rose-garden world of perfection is a lie...and a bore too!”


“Nobody promised them [prison inmates] a rose garden…They have been convicted of crime, and there is nothing in the Constitution which forbids their being penalized as a result of that conviction.”
       William Rehnquist (1924-2005)
       Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court 
his written decision against a group of Oregon prison inmates who wanted the state to be forced to reduce prison overcrowding conditions they contended were inhumane and illegal, in the case Atiyeh v. Capps, Feb. 4, 1981.


“Apparently Mel Gibson did promise his babymama Oksana Grigorieva a rose garden…But totally not in a good way. In the latest round of the seemingly endless parade of embarrassing tape leaks purporting to capture the Passion of the Christ helmsman in full meltdown mode, a new snippet of conversation has emerged, in which Gibson reportedly threatens to bury Grigorieva in the flower bed of his Malibu, California, mansion.”
a post on the PEACE FM Online site, July 9, 2010 


“I never promised you a rose garden but I guess [Press Secretary] Ron Nessen did. So, I hope you enjoy this new setting and the new format, and I hope I enjoy it, too.”
       President Gerald R. Ford (1913-2006)
       At a
news conference on October 9, 1974
       Ford was joking about his newly announced plan to hold press conferences in the White House Rose Garden. When Ford and other presidents later started using this option during campaign periods to avoid the usual campaign travel grind while still generating news stories and looking presidential, it was dubbed the “Rose Garden Strategy.”


Col. Steve Austin (actor Lee Majors): “Now wait a minute, Jaime, you're not going out a torpedo tube. Now you felt the sub, it’s gonna be rough out there.” 
Jaime Sommers (actress Lindsay Wagner): “You never promised me a rose garden.”
       The American TV series The Bionic Woman (1976-77)
       In the episode
“Kill Oscar: Part 3” (1976)

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Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on my quotations Facebook group.

July 7, 2010

Who finishes first: nice guys or Heather Locklear?


“Nice guys finish last.”
       Leo Durocher (1906-1991)
       Baseball player and manager
       Catchphrase traditionally attributed to Durocher, based on remarks he made to reporters about the New York Giants on July 6, 1946, while he was managing the Brooklyn Dodgers.


“Fast girls finish first, and bad girls finish often.” 
       Novelist Annette Blair
       Sex and the Psychic Witch (2007)


Allison (actress Courtney Thorne-Smith ): “Amanda may be a mean, self-serving, ultra-bitch, but she was right about one thing. Nice guys do finish last in this world. Or hadn’t you heard?”
       From the Melrose Place TV series
       In the episode “To Live & Die in Malibu” (1995) 
       Heather Locklear plays Amanda


SpongeBob SquarePants: “You used me...That wasn’t nice.” 
Plankton: “Haven’t you figured it out, SpongeBob? Nice guys finish last. Only aggressive people conquer the world.” 
SpongeBob: “Well, what about aggressively nice people?”
       From the SpongeBob SquarePants TV series
       In the episode "Texas/Walking Small" (2000)


“Niche Guys Finish First.”
       Journalist John H. Taylor
       Title of an article he wrote for Forbes, Oct. 26, 1992 


“Unregulated international competition appears quite destructive and potentially threatening to our social economy. ‘Good guys finish last’ is a very real scenario in a world pregnant with standards-leveling competition, mobile capital, and billions of low-wage workers eager to get in on the action.” 
       Social economist Edward J. O’Boyle
       In his book Social Economics (1996)

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Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on my quotations Facebook group.

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