February 25, 2015

“I dream things that never were and say, why not?”


THE ORIGINAL LINES FROM A LITTLE KNOWN PLAY:

“You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’”
      
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
       Familiar
lines from Part I of Shaw’s otherwise forgotten play Back to Methuselah (1921)
       These lines are said by The Serpent to Eve in the Garden of Eden in the play, which is an amazingly odd science fiction fantasy that spans the ages from Adam and Eve to 31,000 A.D. and took three nights to perform in its entirety. Back to Methuselah was published in 1921 and first performed in 1922 at the Garrick Theatre in New York City.


AN INSPIRING POLITICAN’S MORE FAMOUS VERSION:

“Some people see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?”
      
Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968)
       American lawyer, politician and US Attorney General
       Lines frequently used by Kennedy at the close of his speeches
       Bobby Kennedy recited his version of what Shaw wrote in Back to Methuselah so often that
many sources credit the words to him with no mention of Shaw, as if Kennedy coined the saying. Kennedy himself noted that he was quoting Shaw in his speeches, although his version was actually a paraphrase of Shaw, rather than an exact quote. (See, for example, Kennedy’s speech at the University of Kansas on March 18, 1968.)


THE CROOKED POLITICIAN PRINCIPLE:

“Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others see things that might be and ask: How much?” 
      
Carl Hiaasen
       American journalist and novelist
       From his
April 13, 1990 column in the Miami Herald, included in the book Kick Ass: Selected Columns of Carl Hiaasen (2001). This was Hiaasen’s commentary on revelations that the Mayor of Miami Beach had received payments from a corporation that wanted approval for a local beachfront construction project.


A TV LAWYER’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“Some people see things as they are and ask why? Others see things as they never were and claim mad cow [disease].”
      
James Spader, as the character Alan Shore on the TV series Boston Legal
       A comment about our litigious society said to William Shatner (playing Shore’s law partner Denny Crane), in the
“Stick It” episode of Boston Legal (Season 2, Ep. 19; first aired on March 14, 2006)


GEORGE CARLIN’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that shit.”
      
George Carlin (1937-2008)
       American comic genius
       Carlin used these lines in performances in the 1990s and included it in his book
Brain Droppings (1998). Contrary to what George would have wanted, it’s often quoted in censored form, without the word “shit.”


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February 18, 2015

“Hearts and minds” – from the Bible to Vietnam to the Middle East…


THE FAMOUS BIBLICAL QUOTE:

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.” 
      
St. Paul 
       A famous line from his
Epistle to the Philippians, c. 62 A.D.  
       This Biblical verse from Philippians 4:7 helped popularize two famous phrases: “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” and “hearts and minds.”


JOHN ADAMS’ REVOLUTIONARY WAR QUOTE:

“The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations...This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.”  
       John Adams 
       Second President of the United States
       From a letter he wrote to Hezekiah Niles, February 13, 1818


LBJ’S VIETNAM WAR QUOTE:

“We must be ready to fight in Vietnam, but the ultimate victory will depend upon the hearts and the minds of the people who actually live out there.” 
     
Lyndon Baines Johnson
       36th President of the United States
       His famous (and infamous) “Hearts and Minds” speech (May 4, 1965)


THE GREEN BERETS’ VIETNAM WAR COUNTERQUOTE:

“If you've got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.” 
       U.S. Green Berets
slogan during the Vietnam War

 


AN IRAQ WAR VARIATION:

“What have you done to win Iraqi hearts and minds today?.” 
       Headline on posters that US General David Petraeus ordered to be posted in American military facilities in Iraq in 2003. The line reflected policies in the “Counterinsurgency Manual” he wrote,
which were supposed to help to gain Iraqi support for the continued US presence in their country and to reduce attacks on US troops by “insurgents.”
     
    


AN AFGHANISTAN WAR VARIATION:

“[General] Petraeus’s counterinsurgency manual, with all its talk of winning hearts and minds, is pure Vietnam.” 
      
Jonathan Schell (1924-2014)        
       American columnist and author
 
       In
a 2009 commentary in The Nation about the “counterinsurgency” policies created by Gen. Petraeus, which were then being applied in Afghanistan.     


PRESIDENT OBAMA’S QUOTE ABOUT ISLAMIC EXTREMISM:

“We know that military force alone cannot solve this problem…Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds.”
       Barack Obama
       44th President of the United States
       In an op-ed he wrote about the recent wave of killings by Islamic extremists, fist published in the L.A. Times on February 17, 2015


A RESPONSE TO OBAMA'S QUOTE:

“Anytime I see the ‘win their hearts and minds’ as the key driver of our warfare strategy I know we’re screwed.” 
       Reader comment posted on a PoliticalHotwire.com thread titled
“Obama administration solution to stop ISIS...get them jobs!”


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February 6, 2015

When the going gets tough, the quotes get weirder…



THE LEGENDARY SAYING:

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
       Widely attributed to
Joseph P. Kennedy (1888-1969)
       American businessman and patriarch of the Kennedy clan
       Thousands of books and websites attribute this quote to Kennedy, though without any specific source. It has also been attributed to various other celebrities, such as football coach Vince Lombardi. My guess is that it’s a modern proverbial saying with no specific origin.



THE PANTLESS TOUGH GUY APPLICATION:

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH TAKE OFF THEIR PANTS.”
       Caption used for the photo at left when it was posted on the Feb. 2, 2015 “Day in Pictures” feature on the San Francisco Chronicle website. The rest of the caption explained:
“A competitor runs through a puddle in the ‘Tough Guy’ adventure race near Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, West Midlands. The event challenges thousands of tough guys to run through a grueling 200 obstacles, including water, fire and tunnels after a lengthy run at the start.”   
       (Photo: Oli Scarff, AFP/Getty Images)



THE UNREAL BLONDES VERSION:

“When Times Get Tough, the Tough Go Shopping.”
      
The Real Housewives of Orange County “reality” show
       Episode title, Season 5, Episode 1 (First aired November 5, 2009)



THE GONZO VERSION:

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
       Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005)
       American “gonzo” journalist
       In his book
Kingdom of Fear (2003)



LASORDA’S VARIATION:

“When the going gets easy, watch out! You may be going downhill.”
      
Tommy Lasorda (b. 1927)
       American baseball pitcher and manager
       In the book Life Lessons from Little League Revisited (2005) by Vincent Fortanasce & Tommy Lasorda



ANIMAL POLITICS VARIATION:

“When the waterhole gets smaller, the animals get meaner.” 
       African proverb

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