The Commonplace Book of Quotations, midway through January, 2007

“I recognize happiness by the sound it makes when it leaves.” (Jacques Prévert)

Dec. 29, 2006 (UPI) -- About 90 percent of Iraqis feel the situation in the country was better before the U.S.-led invasion than it is today, according to a new ICRSS [Iraq Centre for Research and Strategic Studies ] poll.
The findings emerged after house-to-house interviews conducted by the ICRSS during the third week of November. About 2,000 people from Baghdad (82 percent), Anbar and Najaf (9 percent each) were randomly asked to express their opinion. Twenty-four percent of the respondents were women.
Only five percent of those questioned said Iraq is better today than in 2003. While 89 percent of the people said the political situation had deteriorated, 79 percent saw a decline in the economic situation; 12 percent felt things had improved and 9 percent said there was no change.

"As long as Saddam obediently protected and facilitated the economic and
territorial interests of the American (and European) colonialists who backed him, his ruthlessness was their profit, and clearly tolerable."
(Marc Ash at

“I don’t care if it IS an orgy of death, there’s still such a thing as a napkin.”
(Willow Rosenberg)

“What I want to hear from you is how we’re going to win, not how we’re going to leave.”
(G.W. Bush to Marine commandant Gen. James T. Conway)

“Saddam Hussein deserves no one’s pity. But as anyone who has seen the graphic cellphone video of his hanging can testify, his execution bore little resemblance to dispassionate, state-administered justice. The condemned dictator appeared to have been delivered from United States military custody into the hands of a Shiite lynch mob.
(New York Times editorial)

“Pity is treason.”

“Accept the truth from whoever speaks it, the Talmud advises. Eccentricity, for Saul, conferred an analytical advantage, because it promised a fresh standpoint, from which things previously not noted might be noted; and what he disliked about the intellectuals of his time was their lack of it. Sometimes the mockery of thinking people in his books irritated me, the way the anti-intellectualism of intellectuals always does; many of his plots concerned the humiliation of intellectuality by vitality, and he taught his readers, among many other things, that seriousness was a little ludicrous. But in fact Saul was the most ferocious of the believers in ideas, because he protested that they could be found everywhere, and that they could be a primary subject of literature. He did not deny the problem of being, but he preferred to set it in the subway. When Herzog wrote to Heidegger, it was because he desperately needed an answer. This was funny, but it was not grotesque. Saul liked his profundities vernacular. What is so exciting about the carnal and commercial tumult in which his tales rejoice is that it never lets go of the question of how to live. As a matter of philosophical principle and artistic method, he married life to thought.”
[Leon Wieseltier on Saul Bellow]

“For a Westerner to trash Western culture is like criticizing our nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere on the grounds that it sometimes gets windy, and besides, Jupiter’s is much prettier. You may not realize its advantages until you’re trying to breathe liquid methane.”
(Neal Stephenson)

“Modern psychology suggests that policymakers come to the debate predisposed to believe their hawkish advisors more than the doves. There are numerous reasons for the burden of persuasion that doves carry, and some of them have nothing to do with politics or strategy. In fact, a bias in favor of hawkish beliefs and preferences is built into the fabric of the human mind.” (Daniel Kahneman and Jonathan Renshon in Foreign Policy)

“In light of all this, it seems hard to believe that, just a few years ago, Rumsfeld was hailed as a visionary war leader. Among conservatives, in particular, he was treated to the sort of over-the-top hero worship that the right customarily bestows upon its standard bearers in flush political times. And so it seems as good a time as any to reexamine the wave of Rumsfeld hagiography that was in vogue for about two years following September 11, 2001. These documents offer a prime window into the pathologies of conservative thought in the Bush era. To be a loyal conservative during the last half-dozen years, you had to convince yourself to accept a series of propositions that ran the gamut from somewhat implausible to completely absurd. As those propositions collapse, one by one, conservatives are reacting much the same way as communists did following the fall of the Berlin Wall. There are the frantic efforts to rescue conservative orthodoxy by defining the party's leaders as apostates who deviated from the true faith. And there are the dazed true believers coming to grips with certain realities--Katherine Harris is a not a paragon of wisdom and fair-mindedness, after all; the administration's fiscal policies may not be completely sound; President Bush is not quite the visionary war leader we made him out to be; and so on. Only by revisiting the conservative propaganda in light of history's verdict can we see how delusional the movement had become. And on perhaps no topic were conservatives quite as delusional as on the leadership genius of Donald Rumsfeld.” ( Jonathon Chait in The New Republic)

“Only this president could extol the "thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group," and then take its most far-sighted recommendation - "engage Syria and Iran" - and transform it into "threaten Syria and Iran" - when al-Qaida would like nothing better than for us to threaten Syria, and when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would like nothing better than to be threatened by us. This is diplomacy by skimming; it is internationalism by drawing pictures of Superman in the margins of the text books; it is a presidency of Cliff Notes.... Oh, and one more to add, tonight: Oceania has always been at war with East Asia.”
(Keith Olbermann)

“So what if the candle flickers and goes out? We have a piece of flint, and a spark.”


Stewart Sternberg said...

A couple of stories that may break soon...

1) The Saudi Foreign minister has told Andrea Mitchell of NBC that Saudi Arabia will send troops to Iraq if Bush's plans fail. They don't trust the Shiite government.

2) More and more sources are claiming the USA is planning an Iranian invasion by April

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

hi, mike. i'm at work. end transmission.

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

Maybe the last illusion that we have any electoral control over our government is about to slip away. It will be interesting to see if we can ever get it back.