“Louis XIV was a very proud and self-confident man; he had such and such mistresses and such and such ministers and he ruled France badly. His descendants were weak men and they too ruled France badly. And they had such and such favorites and such and such mistresses. Moreover, certain men wrote some books at that time. At the end of the eighteenth century there were a couple of dozen men in Paris who began to talk about all men being free and equal. This caused people all over France to begin to slash at and drown one another. They killed the king and many other people. At that time there was in France a man of genius—Napoleon. He conquered everybody everywhere—that is, he killed many people because he was a great genius. And for some reason he went to kill Africans, and killed them so well and was so cunning and wise that when he returned to France he ordered everybody to obey him, and they all obeyed him. Having become an Emperor he again went out to kill people in Italy, Austria, and Prussia. And there too he killed a great many. In Russia there was an Emperor, Alexander, who decided to restore order in Europe and therefore fought against Napoleon. In 1807 he suddenly made friends with him, but in 1811 they again quarreled and again began killing many people. Napoleon led six hundred thousand men into Russia and captured Moscow; then he suddenly ran away from Moscow, and the Emperor Alexander, helped by the advice of Stein and others, united Europe to arm against the disturber of its peace. All Napoleon’s allies suddenly became his enemies and their forces advanced against the fresh forces he raised. The Allies defeated Napoleon, entered Paris, forced Napoleon to abdicate, and sent him to the island of Elba, not depriving him of the title of Emperor and showing him every respect, though five years before and one year later they all regarded him as an outlaw and a brigand. Then Louis XVIII, who till then had been the laughingstock both of the French and the Allies, began to reign. And Napoleon, shedding tears before his Old Guards, renounced the throne and went into exile. Then the skillful statesmen and diplomatists (especially Talleyrand, who managed to sit down in a particular chair before anyone else and thereby extended the frontiers of France) talked in Vienna and by these conversations made the nations happy or unhappy. Suddenly the diplomatists and monarchs nearly quarreled and were on the point of again ordering their armies to kill one another, but just then Napoleon arrived in France with a battalion, and the French, who had been hating him, immediately all submitted to him. But the Allied monarchs were angry at this and went to fight the French once more. And they defeated the genius Napoleon and, suddenly recognizing him as a brigand, sent him to the island of St. Helena. And the exile, separated from the beloved France so dear to his heart, died a lingering death on that rock and bequeathed his great deeds to posterity. But in Europe a reaction occurred and the sovereigns once again all began to oppress their subjects.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)
Category: Politics & Law
“Where there’s law there’s injustice.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)
“In quiet and untroubled times it seems to every administrator that it is only by his efforts that the whole population under his rule is kept going, and in this consciousness of being indispensable every administrator finds the chief reward of his labor and efforts. While the sea of history remains calm the ruler-administrator in his frail bark, holding on with a boat hook to the ship of the people and himself moving, naturally imagines that his efforts move the ship he is holding on to. But as soon as a storm arises and the sea begins to heave and the ship to move, such a delusion is no longer possible. The ship moves independently with its own enormous motion, the boat hook no longer reaches the moving vessel, and suddenly the administrator, instead of appearing a ruler and a source of power, becomes an insignificant, useless, feeble man.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)
“One need only admit that public tranquillity is in danger and any action finds a justification. All the horrors of the reign of terror were based only on solicitude for public tranquillity.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)
“Nine months after the Selective Service Act passed in 1940 with a provision to exempt fathers from the draft, there was a sudden spurt in the birthrate. Even when the exemption was withdrawn, rates stayed high as young people married in great numbers, casting their lot with an uncertain future. The ‘good-bye’ babies resulting from these marriages represented the first wave of a baby boom that reached new heights after the war’s end.” – Sara M. Evans, “Women at War: The 1940s,” Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America
“Driving across the US this summer, from Brooklyn to Santa Barbara, in my hot rod – okay, with a six week pause in Denver; and up and down California, coastal and inland, just now; I have learned the following about our imperiled democracy:
Everyone under age 60 has a tattoo.
Nearly everyone under age 60 – and also over 60, though for different reasons, depending on age group – has blue hair; or pink hair; or green hair; or corn rows; or dreadlocks.
I saw more gender-queer people in Utah than I have ever seen in Brooklyn.
The cars lacquered with Trumpy stickers are not beaters picked up at police auctions – they’re big expensive Jeeps and $50,000 ATVs.
People with nowhere to live except the sidewalk, the park, the doorway, the parking lot, the freeway underpass, are everywhere, and are perhaps the most unifying presence in America – the population and problem that links Madison Avenue to Main Street. We are a country undivided in the following: everyone likes to have people around who are living openly in desperate poverty on your doorstep. Democrats love this as much as Republicans; Richy Rich loves it as much as the-struggling-middle-class. If we’re addicted to fossil fuels (I am!), we’re also addicted to the need to have unhoused people in our communities.
Women over age 60 are our genealogists and historians and record keepers in smalltown libraries and historic societies everywhere. A lot of them are Mormons!
Everyone in America knows, is related to, works with or for, has shared bathrooms with, loves, is raising, orders coffee from, is neighbors with, is married to a transgender person.
I don’t know what Ron DeSantis and his pack of neo-Nazis and conservative evangelical Christians are on about. Good grief. As the LGBTQ community said to Anita Bryant in the 1970s when she was worrying that homosexuals were corrupting her children:
“We are your children.”
The USA’s in bad shape, climate wise – to quote stand-up comedian Naomi Ekperigin, “This would be the part in the movie where America coughs into a rag and then pulls it away and sees blood.”
But the things that are not a problem are: queer kids. Critical Race Theory. History! Facts.
Weirdos and aging punk rockers and whiteguys with Walt Whitman beards on motorcycles zipping past you on the Hollywood Freeway.
Everybody in America knows somebody weird; is weird; and this bullshit that the GOP is feeding us about how difference is destroying America – is just utter bullshit. I can’t believe that more than 12 people believe it. Look around, motherfuckers. Half the people you know are letting their freak flag fly, and the other half are sticking a US flag on their back and pretending it means they’re “normal.”
The new normal is: there’s no normal!
It’s hard to think about how to deal with 106° weather in Arizona for weeks. Way easier to get upset that your kid’s reading a book.
The country is beautiful! The landscape. OMeffingG. The industrial waste just as beautiful as the Utah desert.
Nothing I said is true of Carson City, Nevada, though! There are always exceptions. . .
Dogs are everywhere.
Every conceivable kind of dog.”
– John Weir, Facebook, August 13, 2023
“By February 13, 2021, the date the Senate voted to acquit Donald Trump of inciting an attack on Congress, Republicans had put loyalty to Donald Trump over defense of the country and the Capitol in which they worked.” – Marcy Wheeler, emptywheel, February 23, 2022
“‘Traditional values’ are ignorant and grotesque and usually code for sexism, homophobia or transphobia. No one ever talks about ‘traditional values’ when it does not relate in some way to subjugating people.” – Robyn Pennacchia, “Right-Wing Incels Lose Their Shit Over ‘Unmarried Concubine’ Nancy Mace,” Wonkette, July 29, 2023
“To an imagination of any scope the most far-reaching form of power is not money, it is the command of ideas.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “The Path of the Law”
“It is revolting to have no better reason for a rule of law than that so it was laid down in the time of Henry IV. It is still more revolting if the grounds upon which it was laid down have vanished long since, and the rule simply persists from blind imitation of the past.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “The Path of the Law”
“If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.” – Cardinal Richelieu (as quoted by Fraud Guy in bmaz, “Jeffrey Clark: Physics Takes Over the Investigation Now,” emptywheel)
“Nobody knows how many federal criminal laws are really on the books BECAUSE THERE ARE TOO MANY TO COUNT AND TRACK. Last best estimate I heard was about 5,000, but my guess is it may be higher, given all the regulatory crimes in the CFR. Everything is now a federal crime, and that is ludicrous.” – bmaz, “Jeffrey Clark: Physics Takes Over the Investigation Now,” emptywheel (emphasis in original)
“The Supreme Court’s decision to block student loan forgiveness is a reminder that the crimes of the rich are more readily absolved than the debts of the poor.” – Trevor Jackson, “The Unforgiven”
“If we were serious about crime, we’d take most of the cops off the streets and replace them with accountants. Taking down the financial underpinnings of a criminal enterprise is way more effective than busting their entry level contractors. Money laundering can be incredibly simple — Joe sells weed, Bill has a sandwich shop. Joe needs pay stubs so he can buy a house, Bill’s shop isn’t making quite enough money yet. Joe hands Bill $500 in cash a day, Bill puts Joe on payroll. Bill rings the $500 through the cash register as 10 extra orders, pays Joe (including payroll taxes) $250 a day of legal money, and keeps the rest as profit. Assuming Joe doesn’t get busted, this can continue indefinitely as long as they keep trusting each other.” – C Zed, “Foundations of the #MoneyLaundry – A Twitter Seminar”
“Every time that some dastardly event or some ignominious failure has occurred, after executing a martyr in a dark corner of a fortress, or after deceiving public confidence, some one who is hidden and unapproachable gets frightened of the people’s anger and diverts its vicious element upon the heads of innocent Jews. Whose diabolical mind invents these pogroms—these titanic blood-lettings, these cannibal amusements for the dark, bestial souls?” – Aleksandr I. Kuprin, “The Outrage—A True Story,” (from Best Russian Short Stories, ed. Thomas Seltzer)
“What can’t happen is a willingness to take up arms when the process didn’t work out the way you had hoped it would . . . if you believe in democracy, you take the good with the bad. You take the results you don’t like. . . . Go out into the streets and protest peacefully, sure. Hope for a better outcome, of course. But you can’t conspire to undo a result because you and a group of your cohorts believed that process failed you.” – Judge Amit P. Mehta, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, to Edward Vallejo, June 1, 2023, upon Vallejo’s sentencing for participating in the assault on the U.S. Capitol, January 6, 2021
“I don’t think I want to get notified about Armageddon through an email. That would not be my preferred notification.” – Robert J. Contee, III, District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Chief, Select Committee Testimony Transcript, January 11, 2022
“If you have been in a fight for 5 minutes, it is a long time.” – Robert J. Contee, III, District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Chief, Select Committee Testimony Transcript, January 11, 2022
“With the change in the type and tactics of a new and different enemy, we have evolved in the direction of total surveillance, unmanned warfare, stand-off weapons, surgical strikes, cyber operations and clandestine operations by elite forces whose battlefield is global.” – Robert H. Latiff, Future War: Preparing for the New Global Battlefield
“People’s lives today are filled with vice and the trappings of it. Ambition, greed and selfishness all have to do with vice. Sooner or later, you have to see through it or you don’t survive. We don’t see the people that vice destroys. We just see the glamour of it—everywhere we look, from billboard signs to movies, to newspapers, to magazines. We see the destruction of human life.” – Bob Dylan (interviewed by Robert Love in “Bob Dylan His Way,” 2015)
“I have no fancies about equality on board ship. It is a thing out of the question, and certainly, in the present state of mankind, not to be desired. I never knew a sailor who found fault with the orders and ranks of the service; and if I expected to pass the rest of my life before the mast, I would not wish to have the power of the captain diminished an iota. It is absolutely necessary that there should be one head and one voice, to control everything, and be responsible for everything. There are emergencies which require the instant exercise of extreme power. These emergencies do not allow of consultation; and they who would be the captain’s constituted advisers might be the very men over whom he would be called upon to exert his authority. It has been found necessary to vest in every government, even the most democratic, some extraordinary, and, at first sight, alarming powers; trusting in public opinion, and subsequent accountability to modify the exercise of them. These are provided to meet exigencies, which all hope may never occur, but which yet by possibility may occur, and if they should, and there were no power to meet them instantly, there would be an end put to the government at once. So it is with the authority of the shipmaster. It will not answer to say that he shall never do this and that thing, because it does not seem always necessary and advisable that it should be done. He has great cares and responsibilities; is answerable for everything; and is subject to emergencies which perhaps no other man exercising authority among civilized people is subject to. Let him, then, have powers commensurate with his utmost possible need; only let him be held strictly responsible for the exercise of them. Any other course would be injustice, as well as bad policy.” – Richard Henry Dana, Two Years Before the Mast
“The captain was on deck nearly the whole night, and kept the cook in the galley, with a roaring fire, to make coffee for him, which he took every few hours, and once or twice gave a little to his officers; but not a drop of anything was there for the crew. The captain, who sleeps all the daytime, and comes and goes at night as he chooses, can have his brandy and water in the cabin, and his hot coffee at the galley; while Jack, who has to stand through everything, and work in wet and cold, can have nothing to wet his lips or warm his stomach. This was a ‘temperance ship,’ and, like too many such ships, the temperance was all in the forecastle. The sailor, who only takes his one glass as it is dealt out to him, is in danger of being drunk; while the captain, who has all under his hand, and can drink as much as he chooses, and upon whose self-possession and cool judgment the lives of all depend, may be trusted with any amount, to drink at his will. Sailors will never be convinced that rum is a dangerous thing, by taking it away from them, and giving it to the officers; nor that, that temperance is their friend, which takes from them what they have always had, and gives them nothing in the place of it. By seeing it allowed to their officers, they will not be convinced that it is taken from them for their good; and by receiving nothing in its place, they will not believe that it is done in kindness. On the contrary, many of them look upon the change as a new instrument of tyranny. Not that they prefer rum. I never knew a sailor, in my life, who would not prefer a pot of hot coffee or chocolate, in a cold night, to all the rum afloat. They all say that rum only warms them for a time; yet, if they can get nothing better, they will miss what they have lost. The momentary warmth and glow from drinking it; the break and change which is made in a long, dreary watch by the mere calling all hands aft and serving of it out; and the simply having some event to look forward to, and to talk about; give it an importance and a use which no one can appreciate who has not stood his watch before the mast.” – Richard Henry Dana, Two Years Before the Mast
“Revolutions are matters of constant occurrence in California. They are got up by men who are at the foot of the ladder and in desperate circumstances, just as a new political party is started by such men in our own country. The only object, of course, is the loaves and fishes; and instead of caucusing, paragraphing, libelling, feasting, promising, and lying, as with us, they take muskets and bayonets, and seizing upon the presidio and custom-house, divide the spoils, and declare a new dynasty. As for justice, they know no law but will and fear. A Yankee, who had been naturalized, and become a Catholic, and had married in the country, was sitting in his house at the Pueblo de los Angelos, with his wife and children, when a Spaniard, with whom he had had a difficulty, entered the house, and stabbed him to the heart before them all. The murderer was seized by some Yankees who had settled there, and kept in confinement until a statement of the whole affair could be sent to the governor-general. He refused to do anything about it, and the countrymen of the murdered man, seeing no prospect of justice being administered, made known that if nothing was done, they should try the man themselves. It chanced that, at this time, there was a company of forty trappers and hunters from Kentucky, with their rifles, who had made their head-quarters at the Pueblo; and these, together with the Americans and Englishmen in the place, who were between twenty and thirty in number, took possession of the town, and waiting a reasonable time, proceeded to try the man according to the forms in their own country. A judge and jury were appointed, and he was tried, convicted, sentenced to be shot, and carried out before the town, with his eyes blindfolded. The names of all the men were then put into a hat and each one pledging himself to perform his duty, twelve names were drawn out, and the men took their stations with their rifles, and, firing at the word, laid him dead. He was decently buried, and the place was restored quietly to the proper authorities.” – Richard Henry Dana, Two Years Before the Mast
“Laws are the product of compromise, and no law pursues its purposes at all costs.” – Justice Neil Gorsuch, Luna Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools, et al. (No. 21-887, United States Supreme Court, March 21, 2023) (internal cites and quotes omitted)
“Good afternoon folks. I am Grace Lynn. I am a hundred years young. I’m here to protest our school district’s book-banning policy. My husband Robert Nichol was killed in action in World War II, at a very young age, he was only 26, defending our democracy, Constitution, and freedoms. One of the freedoms that the Nazis crushed was the freedom to read the books they banned. They stopped the free press, banned and burned books. The freedom to read, which is protected by the First Amendment, is our essential right and duty of our democracy. Even so, it is continually under attack by both the public and private groups who think they hold the truth. Banned books, and burning books, are the same. Both are done for the same reason: fear of knowledge. Fear is not freedom. Fear is not liberty. Fear is control. My husband died as a father of freedom. I am a mother of liberty. Banned books need to be proudly displayed and protected from school boards like this. Thank you very much. Thank you.” – Grace Lynn, at Martin County, Florida, school board meeting, March 21, 2023 (quoted by Brandon Gage, in AlterNet, March 22, 2023)
“It’s a foundational requirement to train on civil unrest, civil disturbance, civil disobedience nationwide. We train for that in the National Guard.” – Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, “Interview of General William Walker, December 13, 2021”
“A I can see there’s a lot of lawyers in here, so it ‑‑
Q It’s D.C., sir. You can’t swing a dead cat and not hit a lawyer.”
– Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, “Interview of General William Walker, December 13, 2021”
“In proportion as a society organises itself, and rises in the scale, so does a shrinkage enter the private life of each one of its members. Where there is progress, it is the result only of a more and more complete sacrifice of the individual to the general interest. Each one is compelled, first of all, to renounce his vices, which are acts of independence.” – Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life of the Bee
“It’s really, really damaging to a person to know secrets that potentially are going to kill people and then not to be able to do anything on it.” – Frances Haugen, Interview, November 22, 2021, Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol
“A society is moving toward dangerous ground when loyalty to the truth is seen as disloyalty to some supposedly higher interest. How many times has history taught us this?” – Marilynne Robinson, “What Are We Doing Here?”