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In which an older and wiser yet terminally earnest former liberal struggles to come to grips with the cynicism, hatred, and paranoia that plague both sides of the American political spectrum. "Can we all get along?"

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And I quote:

"The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again: and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered."

Edmund Burke, 2nd speech on conciliation with America, Mar. 22, 1775 (Bartlett's 16th ed., p. 331)



Mrs. Powel: "Well, Dr. Franklin, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?"

Benjamin Franklin: "A republic, if you can keep it."

After Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Sept. 18, 1787. (Bartlett's 16th ed.)


"As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other, and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves."

James Madison ("Publius"), The Federalist Papers No. 10 (1787)


"Of the three forms of sovereignty [autocracy, aristocracy, and democracy], democracy, in the truest sense of the word, is necessarily a despotism because it establishes an executive power through which all the citizens may make decisions about (and indeed against) the individual without his consent..."

Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795)


"To act successfully, that is, according to the rules of the political art, is political wisdom. To know with despair that the political act is inevitably evil, and to act nevertheless, is moral courage. To choose among several expedient actions the least evil one is moral judgment. In the combination of political wisdom, moral courage, and moral judgment, man reconciles his political nature with his moral destiny."

Hans Morgenthau, Scientific Man vs. Power Politics (1946), p. 203


"Thus, whenever a concrete threat to peace develops, war is opposed not by a world public opinion but by the public opinions of those nations whose interests are threatened by that war."

Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations 6th ed., rev. by Kenneth Thompson (1985), p. 288


"The texture of international politics remains highly constant, patterns recur, and events repeat themselves endlessly."

Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979), p. 66


"Men wiser and more learned than I have discerned in history a plot, a rhythm, a predetermined pattern. These harmonies are concealed from me. I can see only one emergency following upon another as wave follows upon wave, only one great fact with respect to which, since it is unique, there can be no generalizations, only one safe rule for the historian: that he should recognize in the development of human destinies the play of the contingent and the unforeseen."

H. A. L. Fisher, History of Europe (1935), p. vii [Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991), p. 80]


"Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favour."

Robert Frost, 'Black Cottage' North of Boston (1914), [Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991), p. 86]


"My thoughts encompass divinity, therefore divinity is. The divinity that my thoughts encompass is associated with the order that arises out of chaos... As we expand our knowledge of this realm, we ... see it in terms of one sublime order that awaits full realization."

Louis J. Halle, Out of Chaos (1977), p. 646


"Here, then, is the complexity, the fascination, and the tragedy of all political life. Politics are made up of two elements -- utopia and reality -- belonging to two different planes which can never meet."

E. H. Carr, The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939 2nd ed. (1946), p. 93.


"My biggest blunder in life was attempt to seek common ground with Keynesians, based on the naive thought that by putting my ideas in Keynesian language that I would make any dent on the Keynesians."

Milton Friedman, New York Times, July 4, 1999


"War made the state and the state made war."

Charles Tilly, The Formation of National States in Western Europe (1975), p. 42


"Americans like to mock Kuwaitis as rich and pampered and lazy and decadent, which is exactly what the rest of the world says about Americans. Actually, we shouldn't mock Kuwait at all. It represents the hopes and dreams of Americans of all political persuasions. For liberals, it's a generous welfare state with guaranteed employment and a huge government bureaucracy. For conservatives, it's a country with no taxes and plenty of cheap maids who aren't allowed to vote."

Peter Carlson, "Castles in the Sand," Washington Post Magazine Jan. 14, 1996, p. 32-33


"[Bill Clinton's] greatest strength is his insincerity... I've decided Bill Clinton is at his most genuine when he's the most phony... We know he doesn't mean what he says."

Newsweek reporter Howard Fineman, in a speech in Indiana quoted by Howard Kurtz, Washington Post Apr. 27, 1996


"Whatever one thinks of Bill Clinton, his opponents [*] must be thwarted. They are enemies of democracy and of the Constitution that insures its possibility. We long ago lost the luxury of choosing our allies. This is war."
* (referred to elsewhere in this piece as "mad dogs bent on political annihilation")

Eric Alterman, "Democracy Disappears" The Nation, Jan. 11-18, 1998


"There are no enemies in science, professor. Only phenomena to study."

From the movie The Thing, 1951 (a Cold War sci-fi allegory)


Julia Roberts: "Can you prove any of this?"

Mel Gibson: "No... A good conspiracy is unprovable. If you can prove it, someone must have screwed up somewhere along the way."

From the movie Conspiracy Theory


THE 16 WORDS: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Pres. George W. Bush, State of the Union address, Jan. 2003


 

February 12, 2015 [LINK / comment]

Redistricting reform fails

I learned this evening via Bob Gibson on Facebook that the the Virginia House Privileges and Elections Subcommittee voted against two bills (Senate Bill 1000 and Senate Bill 824) that would have addressed the problem of redistricting. I was sad to learn that 25th District Delegate Steve Landes (Republican) was among those who voted no. (See nbc29.com.) I regret that I have been too busy with teaching lately to let my own elected representatives know what I thought, and it's apparently too late to do anything this year. Angry and frustrated, I downloaded the official map, modified it, and posted what follows on Facebook:


According to Article II, Section 6 of the Constitution of Virginia (virginia.gov),

"... Every electoral district shall be composed of contiguous and compact territory... "

And yet a quick glance at the map reveals numerous crazy, twisted districts such as this one (I have shaded the map for the sake of clarity), where I live. The 20th House District is squeezed so tightly on the west side of Waynesboro that you could just about hit a golf ball from the 24th District (SW) all the way to the 25th District (NE). It's a blatant violation of the state constitution: Gerrymandering 101.

Does all this matter? Do most people care? Perhaps not, but that itself would be a side-effect of this deliberate manipulation of the democratic process, leaving the people confused about which district they live in. It's one more way that our elected representatives insulate themselves from the will of the people. In the 2011 House of Delegates races, 73 of the 100 races were not competitive, i.e., the losing candidate received fewer than 30% of the votes. Some democracy.

What recourse do We the People have? Since the electoral process itself is essentially rigged, and the state constitution does not provide for citizen-initiated referenda that might change things, the only real hope for reform would seem to lie in the court system.

Virginia 20th House of Delegates District 2010

(Map from virginia.gov, modified.)


Is it any wonder that the state government allows such highly unpopular things as the Dominion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (natural gas) to be carried out? (More on that soon...)





U.S. Cabinet, current

Department Secretary
State:John Kerry #
Treasury:Jack Lew #
Defense:Chuck Hagel *#
Justice:Eric Holder
Interior: Sally Jewell #
Commerce:Penny Pritzker #
Labor:Tom Perez #
Agriculture:Tom Vilsack
Health & H.S.: Sylvia Burwell ##
Housing & U.D.:Julian Castro ##
Transportation: Anthony Foxx #
Energy: Ernest Moniz #
Education:Arne Duncan
Veterans Aff.:Eric Shinseki
Homeland Sec.: Jeh Johnson #
Other cabinet-level posts:
W.H. Ch./StaffDenis McDonough
EPA Admin. Gina McCarthy #
OMB Director Shaun Donovan ##
U.S. Trade Rep. Michael Froman #
Amb. to U.N. Samantha Power #
CEA Chairman Jason Furman #
Small Bus. Adm. Maria Contreras-Sweet #
NOTES: # = Began serving in 2013. ## = Nominated in 2014; confirmation pending.
* = Republican
The following position is not cabinet-rank:
Nat. Sec. Adv. Susan Rice #

Last updated: 26 May 2014


114th Congress (2015-2016)

U.S. Senate
(Web site)
Post Republicans Democrats
Pres. Pro Tem----
Leader Mitch McConnell Harry Reid
WhipJohn Cornyn Richard Durbin
Seats5345 + 2
Two independents caucus with the Democrats.
U.S. House of Representatives
(Web site)
Post Republicans Democrats
Speaker John Boehner
Leader Kevin McCarthy Nancy Pelosi
Whip Steny Hoyer
Seats244186
The real leaders in each chamber are in bold face.

Last updated: 16 Nov 2014


Virginia Government

Executive branch
Post Name Party
GovernorTerry McAuliffeDem
Lt. GovernorRalph NorthamDem
Attorney GeneralMark HerringDem
Virginia Senate
Post Republicans Democrats
Pres. Pro Tem---
LeaderThomas NormentRichard Saslaw
Seats2119
Virginia House of Delegates
Post Republicans Democrats
SpeakerWilliam Howell--
LeaderKirk CoxDavid Toscano
Seats6832
The real leaders in each chamber are in bold face.

State Senator Phil Puckett (D) resigned in June 2014, and a Republican won the special election to fill the vacancy, giving the Republicans a 21-19 majority in that chamber.


Last updated: 17 Nov 2014



 

Books on politics: