Showing all posts tagged: quotations
Charles Blow, The Supreme Court and Unfolding History
Showing all posts tagged: quotations
I believe that in the end, history will record this period in our country’s development as a struggle over the weight that religious mores should have in our system of government and code of laws.
This is either to be America’s Era of Enlightenment or Entrenchment.
Will we move into the future guided by ancient religious texts or current scientific ones? Will we follow the dictates of supposed deities or the prescript of universal dignity?
This is not to begrudge anyone their faith — whatever gets you through the night, brothers and sisters. Rather, it is to say that you should be free to have your faith govern your life but not to extend it to the governance of others’ lives.
I strongly believe in the sovereignty of self — the idea that you are the sole dictate of your own body and your own life as long as no one else is unwittingly or willingly negatively influenced by your choices.
As they say around the way: Do you.
Charles Blow, The Supreme Court and Unfolding History
A culture in which women are expected to remain virgins until marriage is a rape culture.
EJ Graff, cited by Tara Culp-Ressler in ’Kindergartners Shouldn’t Be Taught Sex Ed’ — And Other Myths Endangering America’s Youth
The belief that Africa’s ill-prepared armies and France can make the problem of Islamist radicalism in North Africa disappear is a manifestation of European leaders’ delusional attitudes toward the region.
Nasser Weddady via NY Times
We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.
Barack Obama, Second Inaugural Address
When four years ago we met to inaugurate a President, the Republic, single-minded in anxiety, stood in spirit here. We dedicated ourselves to the fulfillment of a vision—to speed the time when there would be for all the people that security and peace essential to the pursuit of happiness. We of the Republic pledged ourselves to drive from the temple of our ancient faith those who had profaned it; to end by action, tireless and unafraid, the stagnation and despair of that day. We did those first things first.
The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.Our covenant with ourselves did not stop there. Instinctively we recognized a deeper need—the need to find through government the instrument of our united purpose to solve for the individual the ever-rising problems of a complex civilization. Repeated attempts at their solution without the aid of government had left us baffled and bewildered. For, without that aid, we had been unable to create those moral controls over the services of science which are necessary to make science a useful servant instead of a ruthless master of mankind. To do this we knew that we must find practical controls over blind economic forces and blindly selfish men.
We of the Republic sensed the truth that democratic government has innate capacity to protect its people against disasters once considered inevitable, to solve problems once considered unsolvable. We would not admit that we could not find a way to master economic epidemics just as, after centuries of fatalistic suffering, we had found a way to master epidemics of disease. We refused to leave the problems of our common welfare to be solved by the winds of chance and the hurricanes of disaster.
In this we Americans were discovering no wholly new truth; we were writing a new chapter in our book of self-government.
This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Constitutional Convention which made us a nation. At that Convention our forefathers found the way out of the chaos which followed the Revolutionary War; they created a strong government with powers of united action sufficient then and now to solve problems utterly beyond individual or local solution. A century and a half ago they established the Federal Government in order to promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to the American people.
Today we invoke those same powers of government to achieve the same objectives.
Four years of new experience have not belied our historic instinct. They hold out the clear hope that government within communities, government within the separate States, and government of the United States can do the things the times require, without yielding its democracy. Our tasks in the last four years did not force democracy to take a holiday.
Nearly all of us recognize that as intricacies of human relationships increase, so power to govern them also must increase—power to stop evil; power to do good. The essential democracy of our Nation and the safety of our people depend not upon the absence of power, but upon lodging it with those whom the people can change or continue at stated intervals through an honest and free system of elections. The Constitution of 1787 did not make our democracy impotent.
In fact, in these last four years, we have made the exercise of all power more democratic; for we have begun to bring private autocratic powers into their proper subordination to the public’s government. The legend that they were invincible—above and beyond the processes of a democracy—has been shattered. They have been challenged and beaten.
Our progress out of the depression is obvious. But that is not all that you and I mean by the new order of things. Our pledge was not merely to do a patchwork job with secondhand materials. By using the new materials of social justice we have undertaken to erect on the old foundations a more enduring structure for the better use of future generations.
In that purpose we have been helped by achievements of mind and spirit. Old truths have been relearned; untruths have been unlearned. We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics. Out of the collapse of a prosperity whose builders boasted their practicality has come the conviction that in the long run economic morality pays. We are beginning to wipe out the line that divides the practical from the ideal; and in so doing we are fashioning an instrument of unimagined power for the establishment of a morally better world.
This new understanding undermines the old admiration of worldly success as such. We are beginning to abandon our tolerance of the abuse of power by those who betray for profit the elementary decencies of life.
In this process evil things formerly accepted will not be so easily condoned. Hard-headedness will not so easily excuse hardheartedness. We are moving toward an era of good feeling. But we realize that there can be no era of good feeling save among men of good will.
For these reasons I am justified in believing that the greatest change we have witnessed has been the change in the moral climate of America.We realize that there can be no era of good feeling save among men of good will
Among men of good will, science and democracy together offer an ever-richer life and ever-larger satisfaction to the individual. With this change in our moral climate and our rediscovered ability to improve our economic order, we have set our feet upon the road of enduring progress.
Shall we pause now and turn our back upon the road that lies ahead? Shall we call this the promised land? Or, shall we continue on our way? For “each age is a dream that is dying, or one that is coming to birth.”
Many voices are heard as we face a great decision. Comfort says, “Tarry a while.” Opportunism says, “This is a good spot.” Timidity asks, “How difficult is the road ahead?”
True, we have come far from the days of stagnation and despair. Vitality has been preserved. Courage and confidence have been restored. Mental and moral horizons have been extended.
But our present gains were won under the pressure of more than ordinary circumstances. Advance became imperative under the goad of fear and suffering. The times were on the side of progress.
To hold to progress today, however, is more difficult. Dulled conscience, irresponsibility, and ruthless self-interest already reappear. Such symptoms of prosperity may become portents of disaster! Prosperity already tests the persistence of our progressive purpose.
Let us ask again: Have we reached the goal of our vision of that fourth day of March 1933? Have we found our happy valley?
I see a great nation, upon a great continent, blessed with a great wealth of natural resources. Its hundred and thirty million people are at peace among themselves; they are making their country a good neighbor among the nations. I see a United States which can demonstrate that, under democratic methods of government, national wealth can be translated into a spreading volume of human comforts hitherto unknown, and the lowest standard of living can be raised far above the level of mere subsistence.
But here is the challenge to our democracy: In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens—a substantial part of its whole population—who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life.
I see millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager that the pall of family disaster hangs over them day by day.
I see millions whose daily lives in city and on farm continue under conditions labeled indecent by a so-called polite society half a century ago.
I see millions denied education, recreation, and the opportunity to better their lot and the lot of their children.
I see millions lacking the means to buy the products of farm and factory and by their poverty denying work and productiveness to many other millions.
I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.
It is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for you in hope—because the Nation, seeing and understanding the injustice in it, proposes to paint it out. We are determined to make every American citizen the subject of his country’s interest and concern; and we will never regard any faithful law-abiding group within our borders as superfluous. The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
If I know aught of the spirit and purpose of our Nation, we will not listen to Comfort, Opportunism, and Timidity. We will carry on.
Overwhelmingly, we of the Republic are men and women of good will; men and women who have more than warm hearts of dedication; men and women who have cool heads and willing hands of practical purpose as well. They will insist that every agency of popular government use effective instruments to carry out their will.
Government is competent when all who compose it work as trustees for the whole people. It can make constant progress when it keeps abreast of all the facts. It can obtain justified support and legitimate criticism when the people receive true information of all that government does.
If I know aught of the will of our people, they will demand that these conditions of effective government shall be created and maintained. They will demand a nation uncorrupted by cancers of injustice and, therefore, strong among the nations in its example of the will to peace.
Today we reconsecrate our country to long-cherished ideals in a suddenly changed civilization. In every land there are always at work forces that drive men apart and forces that draw men together. In our personal ambitions we are individualists. But in our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we all go up, or else we all go down, as one people.
To maintain a democracy of effort requires a vast amount of patience in dealing with differing methods, a vast amount of humility. But out of the confusion of many voices rises an understanding of dominant public need. Then political leadership can voice common ideals, and aid in their realization.
In taking again the oath of office as President of the United States, I assume the solemn obligation of leading the American people forward along the road over which they have chosen to advance.
While this duty rests upon me I shall do my utmost to speak their purpose and to do their will, seeking Divine guidance to help us each and every one to give light to them that sit in darkness and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Second Inaugural Address, Wednesday, January 20, 1937
Fellow-countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it—all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.
One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.
Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered—that of neither has been answered fully.
The Almighty has his own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.
Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.
For so many in the techno-elite, even those who don’t entirely subscribe to the unlimited optimism of the Singularity, the notion of perpetual progress and economic growth is somehow taken for granted. As a former classicist turned technologist, I’ve always lived with the shadow of the fall of Rome, the failure of its intellectual culture, and the stasis that gripped the Western world for the better part of a thousand years. What I fear most is that we will lack the will and the foresight to face the world’s problems squarely, but will instead retreat from them into superstition and ignorance. Consider how in 375 AD, after a dream in which he was whipped for being “a Ciceronian” rather than a Christian, Saint Jerome resolved no more to read the classical authors and to restrict himself only to Christian texts, how the Christians of Alexandria murdered the philosopher and mathematician Hypatia in 415, and realize that, at least in part, the so-called dark ages were not something imposed from without, a breakdown of civilization due to barbarian invasions, but a choice, a turning away from knowledge and discovery into a kind of religious fundamentalism. Now consider how conservative elements in American religion and politics refuse to accept scientific knowledge, deride their opponents for being “reality based,” and ask yourself, “could that ideology come to rule the most powerful nation on earth? and if it did, what would be the consequences for the world?
Tim O’Reilly (via azspot)
If the Republican Party had a brain it would give up on its debt-ceiling gambit and announce instead that it wants to open negotiations immediately with President Obama on the basis of his own deficit commission, the Simpson-Bowles plan. That would at least make the G.O.P. a serious opposition party again — with a platform that might actually appeal outside its base and challenge the president in a healthy way. But the G.O.P. would have to embrace the tax reforms and spending cuts in Simpson-Bowles first. Fat chance. And that’s a pity.
As for Obama, if he really wants to lead, he will have to finally trust the American people with the truth. I’d love to see him use his Jan. 21 Inaugural Address and his Feb. 12 State of the Union Message as a one-two punch to do just that — offer a detailed, honest diagnosis and then a detailed, honest prescription.
On the diagnosis side, Obama needs to explain to Americans the world in which they’re now living. It’s a world in which the increasing velocity of globalization and the Information Technology revolution are reshaping every job, workplace and industry. As a result, the mantra that if you “just work hard and play by the rules” you should expect a middle-class lifestyle is no longer operable. Today you need to work harder and smarter, learn and re-learn faster and longer to be in the middle class. The high-wage, middle-skilled job is a thing of the past. Today’s high-wage or decent-wage jobs all require higher skills, passion or curiosity. Government’s job is to help provide citizens with as many lifelong learning opportunities as possible to hone such skills.
Thomas Friedman, Obama’s 1-2 Punch?
Friedman’s at it again. I continue to be amazed that he’s considered a pundit, but then again we are so embedded in a postmodern worldview that his rants line up pretty well with the mythology of our time.
We should do none of what Friedman says, although sadly, his recommendations are probably pretty close to what will fall out.The GOP is in disarray: there is no center there. And there really is no center in the US, which is the constituency that Friedman believes he’s pitching to. We have two Americas. There is, on one side, the 1% who have won the class war (as Buffett said), and the people that identify with the system that makes the rich wealthy. And on the other side, there are those that are — to varying degrees — disenchanted with the economics of cutthroat capitalism and the inequalities it creates.
Yes, those that have swallowed the whole economic society message — everything should be reduced to market economics, a dog-eat-dog ideology — will nod their heads at Friedman when he spouts that globalization is inevitable, like gravity or rain, instead of the result of policies that benefit the few and hurt the rest. They will agree that the American middle class need to ‘work harder and smarter’ just to stay afloat, but we know this Red Queen mantra is insanity. The economics of the past 30 years have eroded the margins that the middle class might have had, their wages have been held flat, and work has been offshored not because Americans are lazy, but because businesses can save billions by hiring Chinese and Indians to sew shirts, make cars, and harvest apples.
And instead of making the obvious point — that if businesses need Americans to learn new skills why aren’t they being trained by those businesses? — Friedman suggests that it’s the role of the federal government to provide that training. But as Krugman would say, if there is a structural problem having to do with hiring, then there would be millions of jobs just waiting for candidates. But there aren’t, except for extracting natural gas in North Dakota or long-haul trucking.
Yes, those that have swallowed the whole economic society message — everything should be reduced to market economics, a dog-eat-dog ideology — will nod their heads at Friedman when he spouts that globalization is inevitable, like gravity or rain, instead of the result of policies that benefit the few and hurt the rest.Lastly, Friedman suggests that Obama turn his attention back to tax reform, budget cuts, and investments. But tax reform is a red herring: you can’t get enough blood out of that stone to pay for the stupid way the US is run. And it’s not going to welfare mothers. It’s the huge military, and a long list of other equally dumb investments we are making to prop up the Imperial United States, which is being run like a feudal state for the benefit of the lords of the manor.
Friedman ends by suggesting that ‘real stimulus’ will come when investors are confident we’re going to put our ‘fiscal house in order’, presumably meaning rigging the game so it’s good for investors at our expense. This is an echo of the ‘confidence fairies’ Krugman talks about, who are supposed to be uncertain about America’s future. The reality is that the US has access to huge amounts of low-cost investment, if Obama could get the GOP to let him borrow a bunch and rebuild our infrastructure, but put that to one side.
But we should do none of what Friedman says, although sadly, his recommendations are probably pretty close to what will fall out, after a great dealing of pushing and shoving in Washington.
At core, Friedman seems like a carnival fortune teller: he’s just saying what the suckers want to hear. And maybe he actually believes the rubes are going on a long trip, or will meet a tall, dark stranger.
But you can sense that he has doubts, since he ends with this:
I still believe that America’s rich and the middle classes would pay more taxes and trim entitlements if they thought it was for a plan that was fair, would truly address our long-term fiscal imbalances and set America on a journey of renewal that would ensure our kids have a crack at the American dream. Then again, I may be wrong. Maybe my baby-boomer generation really does intend to eat it all and leave our kids a ticking debt bomb.
And he gets it wrong again. Debt is not the problem. The problem is our addiction to growth, and an economic system that has only two modes — boom and bust — that is in the control of the people who make money either way. And they have no incentive to break the pattern, and move to a sustainable, no growth economy.
We could be stuck in a trap. We could be stuck in a perverse equilibrium in which our absence of growth is delivering political paralysis, and the political paralysis preserves the absence of growth.
Annie Lowrey citing Benjamin Friedman in The Low Politics Of Economic Growth
‘Growth’ as a way out of our political impasse seems to be out of the realm of possibility in Washington, where the pols only fight over cutting budgets and raising taxes. But paradoxically, the conventional wisdom is that a return to normal, post WWII growth is preordained.
We live in a growthmanic culture, embedded in an ‘enterprise society’ (Foucault’s term), and it is unimaginable to most people, and definitely unpatriotic, to suggest that growth may have peaked already and that we have already moved into a long, long era of decline. Welcome to the post normal.