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Category: Politics & Law

“The economic and social life of Sumer was characterized by the all-pervading concepts of law and justice. Significant economic and legal reforms were introduced as early as the twenty-fourth century B.C. by the Lagash ruler Urukagina. Law codes were promulgated as early as the twenty-first century, and one of these, the Ur-Nammu law code, has been recovered in part. Sumerian legal documents have been excavated in large numbers: contracts, deeds, wills, promissory notes, receipts, and actual court decisions that became legal precedents. In theory, it was the king who was responsible for the administration of law and justice; in practice, the city governor or his representative, the mashkim, attended to the administrative and legal details. Court cases were usually heard by tribunals of three or four judges. Suits could be brought either by private parties or by the government. Evidence was taken in the form of statements from witnesses and experts, or was obtained from written documents. Oath-taking played a considerable role in court procedure.” – Samuel Noah Kramer, “Sumerian History, Culture, and Literature”

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“WANTED POSTER – Jesse Woodson James: five feet eleven inches tall, brown hair, regulation killer-blue eyes. In photographs appears to be considering shooting the photographer. Does not test out well. Approaches casual strangers in an intimate way and interferes massively in their private lives. Is trapped in the dead hole and neither moves nor changes. Steals horses. Inhabits a discolored landscape through which only one, treacherous path is known to pass. Has the appearance of many ballistics with a flat trajectory. This man is occupied by an army of scars, tip of middle finger left hand missing, and one large scar on chest which oft has spoken with bloody lips. Is always breaking out afresh. Cultivates a desperado aura and can most often be seen in the penny dreadfuls, spotted regularly in novels, poems, ballads, and folktales. Men claiming to be James can be differentiated from him in that they pose willingly in front of cameras, they make political speeches. These people are not the genuine article and are confused. Jess James was never confused about anything in his life, which will last exactly thirty-seven years, five months, three days, fourteen hours, and ten minutes.” – Paulette Jiles, “The James Poems”

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“When you get elected President I think the first thing they do is take you in a room and say you know you’re not gonna do shit. Your hands are tied and Congress have the whole thing locked down and we all get screwed.” – Willie Nelson (interviewed by Martin Chilton in Telegraph Music, 2012)

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“Alcibiades. He was the Golden Boy of 4th century Athenian culture. Pericles was his guardian, Plato his teacher. A fine athlete, a brilliant general, handsome, marvelously intelligent, popular, everything. A summation of the Golden Age. And what happened? He went bad. He was vain, treacherous, selfish, sacrilegious, debauched, dishonest, and a traitor twice over. His aid to the enemy during the Syracuse campaign destroyed Athens. Just about the finest product of the most notable civilization man has accomplished, and it turned out like that. This haunts me.” – Jack Gilbert (interviewed by Gordon Lish in Genesis West, Issue #1, 1962)

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“We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
• The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;
• The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
• The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
• The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
• The right of every family to a decent home;
• The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
• The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and
unemployment;
• The right to a good education.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Second Bill of Rights,” January 11, 1944

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“Judges must keep in mind that poverty is not a crime; it is a condition, and every day presents a struggle for the poor to survive, to cope, to get by until tomorrow. When one is poor, drifting into petty crime can become an option, despite its undeniable risks.” – Justice Michael B. Hyman, The People of the State of Illinois v. Harley Busse (Illinois Appellate Court, First District, December 17, 2016)

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“It is a mistake to suppose that intellectuality necessarily makes for suspended judgments. The intellect craves certitude. It takes effort to keep it supple and pliable. In a time of danger and disaster we jump desperately for some dogma to cling to. The time comes, if we try to hold out, when our nerves are sick with fatigue, and we seize in a great healing wave of release some doctrine that can be immediately translated into action.” – Randolph Bourne, “The War and the Intellectuals”

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“In a war undertaken for any object, even if that object be the possession of a particular territory or position, an attack directly upon the place coveted may not be, from the military point of view, the best means of obtaining it. The end upon which the military operations are directed may therefore be other than the object which the belligerent government wishes to obtain, and it has received a name of its own, — the objective. In the critical consideration of any war it is necessary, first, to put clearly before the student’s eye the objects desired by each belligerent; then, to consider whether the objective chosen is the most likely, in case of success, to compass those objects ; and finally, to study the merits or faults of the various movements by which the objective is approached. The minuteness with which such an examination is conducted will depend upon the extent of the work which the inquirer proposes to himself; but it will generally conduce to clearness if an outline, giving only the main features unencumbered by detail, should precede a more exhaustive discussion. When such principal lines are thoroughly grasped, details are easily referred to them, and fall into place.” – Captain A. T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783

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“No well ordered society can leave to the individuals an absolute right to make final decisions, unassailable by the State, as to everything they will or will not do.” – Justice Hugo Lafayette Black and Justice William Orville Douglas, West Virginia State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943)

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“Judgment is to be made of actions according to the times in which they were performed. The conduct of a wise politician is ever suited to the present posture of affairs; often by foregoing a part he saves the whole, and by yielding in a small matter secures a greater.” – “Comparison of Poplicola with Solon,” Plutarch’s Lives (trans. A. H. Clough)

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“The remission of debts was peculiar to Solon; it was his great means for confirming the citizens’ liberty; for a mere law to give all men equal rights is but useless, if the poor must sacrifice those rights to their debts, and, in the very seats and sanctuaries of equality, the courts of justice, the offices of state, and the public discussions, be more than anywhere at the beck and bidding of the rich. A yet more extraordinary success was, that, although usually civil violence is caused by any remission of debts, upon this one occasion this dangerous but powerful remedy actually put an end to civil violence already existing,” – “Comparison of Poplicola with Solon,” Plutarch’s Lives (trans. A. H. Clough)

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“The trading temper, independent and insubordinate, is absolutely opposed to the military spirit.” – Admiral comte Pierre André de Suffren de Saint Tropez, bailli de Suffren, Letter to Charles Eugène Gabriel de La Croix de Castries, marquis de Castries, baron des États de Languedoc, comte de Charlus, baron de Castelnau et de Montjouvent, seigneur de Puylaurens et de Lézignan, Autumn 1782

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“The average man is not a coward; but neither is he endowed by nature only with the rare faculty of seizing intuitively the proper course at a critical moment. He gains it, some more, some less, by experience or by reflection.” – Captain A. T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783

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“I do not think that it is right for a man to appeal to the jury or to get himself acquitted by doing so; he ought to inform them of the facts and convince them by argument. The jury does not sit to dispense justice as a favor, but to decide where justice lies, and the oath which they have sworn is not to show favor at their own discretion, but to return a just and lawful verdict.” – Plato, Socrates’ Defense (Apology) (trans. Hugh Tredennick)

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“War, with its many acknowledged sufferings, is above all harmful when it cuts a nation off from others and throws it back upon itself. There may indeed be periods when such rude shocks have a bracing effect, but they are exceptional, and of short duration, and they do not invalidate the general statement.” – Captain A. T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783

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“Neither individual nations nor men can thrive when severed from natural intercourse with their kind; whatever the native vigor of constitution, it requires healthful surroundings, and freedom to draw to itself from near and from far all that is conducive to its growth and strength and general welfare. Not only must the internal organism work satisfactorily, the processes of decay and renewal, of movement and circulation, go on easily, but, from sources external to themselves, both mind and body must receive healthful and varied nourishment.” – Captain A. T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783

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“In these three things—production, with the necessity of exchanging products, shipping, whereby the exchange is carried on, and colonies, which facilitate and enlarge the operations of shipping and tend to protect it by multiplying points of safety—is to be found the key to much of the history, as well as of the policy, of nations bordering upon the sea.” – Captain A. T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783

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