[ Go to lecture about role of books today! ] Quotes that have touched me (page 7 of 16)
Disclaimer: Citation of a quote, below, does not necessarily imply that I agree with what it asserts (under whatever interpretation); it does mean I feel the text says something seriously worth thinking about.
"Every sentence that I utter should be regarded by you not as an assertion but as a question." --Niels Bohr
[ Notice what's hiding in plain sight! ]"There is more to the surface than meets the eye." --Aaron Beck
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The lunatics are now in charge of the asylum." So wrote the normally staid Financial Times, traditionally the voice of solid British business opinion, when surveying last week's tax bill. Indeed, the legislation is doubly absurd: the gimmicks used to make an $800-billion-plus tax cut carry an official price tag of only $320 billion are a joke, yet the cost without the gimmicks is so large that the nation can't possibly afford it while keeping its other promises. But then maybe that's the point. The Financial Times suggests that "more extreme Republicans" actually want a fiscal train wreck: "Proposing to slash federal spending, particularly on social programs, is a tricky electoral proposition, but a fiscal crisis offers the tantalizing prospect of forcing such cuts through the back door." Paul Krugman, "Stating the Obvious", OpEd piece, NYT on the Web, 27May03. I (BMcC) distinctly recall that George W Bush directly said that one of the objectives of his first massive tax cut, in Spring 2001, was to take away money so that Congress would be unable to fund new programs (ref. lost, alas). Bush frequently states this in a just slightly oblique way (please excuse my paraphrase): "The American people know better how to spend their money than the government does."
It is often hard to pin down what antitax crusaders are trying to achieve.... One... doctrine... has become famous under the name "supply-side economics." It's the view that the overnment can cut taxes without severe cuts in public spnding. The other doctrine is often referred to as "starving the beast".... It's the view that taxes should be cut precisely in order to force severe cuts in public spending.... Its most visible spokesperson today is Grover Norquist [who]... told U.S. News & World Report... "The goal is reducing the size and scope of government by draining its lifeblood"... In Norquist's vision, America a couple decades from now will be a place in which elderly people make up a disproportionate share of the poor, as they did before Social Security. It will be a country in which even middle-class elderly Americans are, in many cases, unable to afford expensive medical procedures or prescription drugs.... And it may well be a place where only those who can afford expensive private schools can give their children a decent education. Paul Krugman, "The Tax-Cut Con", NYT Sunday Magazine, 13Sep03, pp.54-62. Krugman continues (loc. cit.): "George W. Bush himself seemed to endorse the doctrine as the budget surplus evaporated: in August 2001 he called the disappearing surplus 'incredibly positive news' because it would put Congress in a 'fiscal straitjacket.'"
In Britain, the mad cow epidemic that began in the late 1980's infected nearly 200,000 cattle before it was halted, and more than 120 people died through infected meat. The episode... contributed heavily to British and European refusal to accept official assurances about the safety of genetically modified crops. The environmental movement managed to make much of this distrust, using it to promote fears of interfering with nature, whether through technology or industrial agriculture. Yet there was a paradox in their argument. Feeding meat and bone meal to cattle as a protein and calcium supplement -- which was then one common way mad cow disease was spread -- was hardly high tech. In fact, it was an example of old-fashioned, organic recycling. If, for example, genetically modified soybeans had been used in cattle feed instead of cattle remains, people would not have died. Matt Ridley, "Mad Cow Disease Is a Little Less Scary", NYT on the Web, 25May03. (Ed. note: I (BMcC) have long thought that nature is mindlessly promiscuous, producing lots of good and bad indifferently, whereas man is mean-spirited.)
BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 17 [2003].... Iraq's descent into lawlessness has stalled its return to normalcy, increased the costs of reconstruction and squandered much of the good will Iraqis felt for their new American overseers. In the space of a few weeks, awe at American power in war has been transformed into anger at American impotence in peace.... "People are already beginning to say, 'Why don't we go back to Saddam?'" [one Iraqi] said. "At least it was more safe, more peaceful."... Such attitudes are mild in comparison to the frustration that many less affluent and less Westernized Iraqis express. Edmund L. Andrews and Susan Sachs, "Iraq's Slide Into Lawlessness Squanders Good Will for U.S.", NYT on the Web, 18May03. Note also, U.S. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's observation: "Freedom is untidy. Free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things." (quoted in Thomas L. Friedman, "Bored With Baghdad -- Already", NYT on the Web, OpEd, 18May03)
"'We will in fact be greeted as liberators,' Vice President Dick Cheney said on March 16, three days before the war started....
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"At a moment [after the end of the war] that the White House was seeking to quash any thought that the United States was an occupying power... Jay Garner, the retired Army lieutenant general initially charged with the physical and political rebuilding of Iraq... chastised reporters for dwelling on the shortcomings of the Iraq postwar efforts, saying, "We ought to look in a mirror and get proud, and stick out our chests and suck in our bellies and say, 'Damn, we're Americans!"'" (Eric Schmitt and Devid E. Sanger, "Looting Is Derailing Detailed U.S. Plan to Restore Iraq", NYT on the Web. 19May03)
Dr. Margaret Chan, Hong Kong's health director... said that when her department first confronted SARS in Hong Kong, "we had no idea what we were dealing with and we did not even know it was a virus." But Dr. Chan said the experience taught that health officials should not "be afraid to say, you don't know what you are dealing with." Lawrence K. Altman, "W.H.O. Scientists Say Tactics To Fight SARS Are Working", NYT, 18May03, p.A15. Ed. note: I propose this is good advice for many fields of human endeavor: If you see something that "doesn't seem right", speak up! (For more about SARS, Click here.)
After Hong Kong seemed to be getting the epidemic under control, "Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong's chief executive... said... 'What we have achieved has not been easy.... We should treasure what we have achieved and redouble our efforts.'" (Keith Bradsher with Colin Campbell, "New Travel Alert Is Issued for Toronto", NYT on the Web, 24May03)
"We were not lying," a Bush administration official told ABC News. "But it was just a matter of emphasis." The official was referring to the way the administration hyped the threat that Saddam Hussein posed to the United States. According to the ABC report, the real reason for the war was that the administration "wanted to make a statement." And why Iraq? "Officials acknowledge that Saddam had all the requirements to make him, from their standpoint, the perfect target."... One "high-level source" told [the British The Independent] paper that "they ignored intelligence assessments which said Iraq was not a threat."
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"The group directing all known U.S. search efforts for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is winding down operations without finding proof that President Saddam Hussein kept clandestine stocks of outlawed arms, according to participants.... The hunt will continue under a new Iraq Survey Group, which the Bush administration has said is a larger team." (Barton Gellman, "Frustrated, U.S. Arms Team to Leave Iraq: Task Force Unable To Find Any Weapons, The Washington Post, 11May03, p.A01)
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"The failure so far to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the prime justification for an immediate invasion, or definitive links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda has raised serious questions about the quality of American intelligence and even dark hints that the data may have been manipulated to support a pre-emptive war." ("Reviewing the Intelligence on Iraq", NYT Editorial, 26May03, p.A14) (See below[ Why hasn't the U.S. found Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction? ])
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"The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason...." (Paul Wolfowitz, "Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Interview with Sam Tannenhaus, Vanity Fair", DoD News Transcript, 09May03)
Quoted from Paul Krugman, NYT OpEd piece, 29Apr03, "Matters of Emphasis". (See also: Quote #169.)
NPR All Things Considered, 01May03, reported George W Bush was about to announce the end of the major combat operations phase of the Iraq war, but not the end of the war itself. One reason given for him not declaring the war ended is that then the U.S. would legally be required release Iraqi prisoners of war. Also: "you're supposed to stop trying to kill the leaders on the other side.... The government officials don't want to be in a position of stopping that, and if they said that the war was over, they, under the Geneva Convention, would be more or less obligated to stop." (Jeffrey Tobin, "Why Bush won't declare the end of war", CNN, 01May03, Posted: 8:47 AM EDT)
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Addendum: "Acting on a tip from an Iraqi that Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, were holed up in a palatial residence in the northern city of Mosul, United States troops surrounded the house today [22 July 2003] and killed the two men in a ferocious shootout that gradually shredded the walls providing them cover.... Not all the reaction was positive, however. The correspondent for Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite television network that has been a staunch critic of the war, described the two men as having been killed 'in cold blood,' and one analyst brought on to comment called the method of their deaths a 'crime.'" (Neil MacFarquhar, "Hussein's 2 Sons Dead in Shootout, U.S. Says", NYT on the Web, 22Jul03)
"[I]n speeches and comments in recent weeks, senior administration officials have begun to lower expectations that weapons will be found anytime soon, if at all, and suggested they may have been destroyed, buried or spirited out of the country. The U.S. invasion force moved so quickly into Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday... that the Iraqis 'didn't have time to . . . use chemical weapons. . . . They may have had time to destroy them, and I don't know the answer.'" (Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus, "U.S. Hedges on Finding Iraqi Weapons", Washington Post, 29May03, p.A01) Ed. note: How could Saddam Hussein have had time to destroy his weapons of mass destruction, but not time to use them? If the Iraqis spirited these weapons out of the country because they anticipated the U.S. attack, where will these weapons turn up next? AlQaeda dropping them on New York? Wouldn't George W Bush thereby be the cause of terrorists getting these weapons which he supposedly went to war to prevent them from getting? (Sen. Robert Byrd has asked some of these same questions, See left.)
"Such weapons may eventually turn up.... But my greater fear is that the belligerent stance of the United States may have convinced Saddam Hussein to sell or disperse his weapons to dark forces outside of Iraq. Shouldn't this administration be equally alarmed if they really believed that Saddam had such dangerous capabilities?... Saddam Hussein is missing. Osama bin Laden is missing. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are missing. And the President's mild claims that we are 'on the look' do not comfort me.... I wonder how the war with Iraq has really mitigated the threat from terrorists. As the recent attack in Saudi Arabia proved, terrorism is alive and well and unaffected by the situation in Iraq." (Sen. Robert Byrd, D-WV, "Iraq's WMD Intelligence: Where is the Outrage?", Congressional Record (Senate), 05Jun03, P.S7432-S7435)
Pentagon officials have dubbed the aerial strategy "shock and awe" to reflect the goal of paralyzing the Iraqi military and compelling Saddam's regime to capitulate before U.S. and allied forces reached the gates of Baghdad... "Iraqi Leaders Are Losing Control, Rumsfeld Says", AP, 21Mar03 (NYT on the Web).
Perhaps 50 strikes came in a 10-minute volley of almost biblical power that followed the opening blast, which hit or came very close to the green ornamental dome atop the Republican Palace where some of the grimmest scenes of Mr. Hussein's rule have played out. John F. Burns, "A Staggering Blow Strikes at the Heart of the Iraqi Capital", NYT, 22Mar03, p.A1.
My (BMcC) concern: "Shock and awe are The Lord's."[ >> ]
"In the days before the Columbia disaster, NASA and contractor engineers explored the possibility that the shuttle had been fatally damaged on liftoff and precisely predicted some of the symptoms that the orbiter showed on re-entry. But despite their explorations, which they called 'what-iffing,' they were never convinced that the shuttle had a serious problem.... The e-mail messages also show that NASA made and then canceled a request for the military to inspect the shuttle for damage from the debris. But engineers also took many steps to understand the degree of danger, like simulating a landing with blown tires. That simulation took place just hours before Columbia began its descent, and some officials were concerned about the last-minute nature of their debate. 'Why are we talking about this on the day before landing, and not the day after launch?' wrote William C. Anderson, an engineer with United Space Alliance, a NASA contractor that helps run the shuttle fleet. It is unclear the extent to which the top shuttle managers were aware of the vigorous debate among the technical team, or whether flight controllers had made any contingency plans in the event any of the worst-case failures occurred...." Matthew L. Wald with William J. Broad, "Shuttle Engineers Debated Chances of Grave Damage", NYT, 27Feb03, p.A1.
[ Space Shuttle Columbia beginning fatal reentry (01Feb03)! Go to Columbia Accident Investigation Board website! ]
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[U]nderside of Columbia as it passed by the Starfire Optical Range at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, on February 1, 2003. The image was taken at approximately 8:58 a.m. EST.... Space shuttle Columbia began losing pieces over the California coast well before it disintegrated over Texas....
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"Ultimately... Linda Ham, chairwoman of the mission management team... said, 'I don't believe anyone is at fault for this.'" (Matthew L. Wald and John Schwartz, "Alerts Were Lacking, NASA Shuttle Manager Says", NYT on the Web, 23Jul00; Read about another tragedy where: nobody was to blame...)
"Board: Columbia began shedding pieces over California", CNN.com, Tuesday, February 18, 2003 Posted: 9:13 PM EST (0213 GMT)
Ed. note: We have read that, had damage the Columbia suffered during launch been determined early in the mission to make successful reentry unlikely, there was nothing the crew could do to fix the problem, and there was no way to rescue them. What might have been the impact of the week or longer feature news story of the seven astronauts helplessly waiting for their oxygen to run out to all die in orbit? Might Columbia have become: An American Kursk?
See: Privately financed manned Spaceship One flies above 100km and safely returns (04 October 2004).
"This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time. The doctrine of preemption -- the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening but may be threatening in the future -- is a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self defense. It appears to be in contravention of international law and the UN Charter. And it is being tested at a time of world-wide terrorism, making many countries around the globe wonder if they will soon be on our -- or some other nation's -- hit list. High level Administration figures recently refused to take nuclear weapons off of the table when discussing a possible attack against Iraq. What could be more destabilizing and unwise than this type of uncertainty, particularly in a world where globalism has tied the vital economic and security interests of many nations so closely together? There are huge cracks emerging in our time-honored alliances, and U.S. intentions are suddenly subject to damaging worldwide speculation. Anti-Americanism based on mistrust, misinformation, suspicion, and alarming rhetoric from U.S. leaders is fracturing the once solid alliance against global terrorism which existed after September 11." U.S. Senator Robert E. Byrd, "Senate Remarks: Reckless Administration May Reap Disastrous Consequences", 12Feb03.
"Pre-emptive attacks are not the exclusive right of the U.S."
Ri Pyong Gap, a spokesman and deputy director at [North Korea]'s Foreign Ministry, quoted in "N. Korea Warns U.S. on Pre - Emptive Moves", AP, Filed at 12:24 p.m. ET, 06Feb03.
[ Colin Powell and George W Bush, 06Feb03 ] [ ] Left: "President Bush, with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, said today that world leaders 'must not back down' from Saddam Hussein." (Brian Knowlton, "Bush says 'Game is Over' for Iraq and Urges U.N. to Act", International Herald Tribune, NYT on the Web, 06Feb03)
Right: George W Bush "predicted Saddam would try to fend off an attack by appearing to cooperate. 'I suspect he will try to fool the world one more time.'" (Reuters, "Bush: 'Full Disarmament' Needed to Avert Iraq War", 25Feb03 01:18 PM ET)
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Ed. Note, 25May03: Did Saddam Hussein indeed try to fool the world one last time, by destroying all his weapons of mass destruction just before the U.S. attacked, to frustrate the U.S. justifying its attack by finding them? (See above[ How could the U.S. be sure Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction? ] Donald Rumsfeld has subsequently suggested the same idea: Eric Schmitt, "Rumsfeld Suggests Iraq Might Have Destroyed Illicit Arms", NYT on the Web, 27May03)
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Ed. Note, 23Jul03: Another recent speculation is that Saddam Hussein did not have WMDs, but was bluffing and/or misled by his scientists telling him he had weapons they feared being punished for having failed to produce. (Daniel Schorr, "Iraq's Weapons Programs", NPR "Weekend Edition", 20Jul03)
[ ] [ How volatile is George W Bush's pent up rage? ]
Bush ingenious diplomatic ploy (Early Feb. 03): (1) France, Germany and Belgium decline to join Bush's "Coalition of the willing"; they refuse to contribute to Bush's escalating preparations to attack Iraq because they feel those preparations themselves are making war more likely. (2) Turkey appeals to NATO for aid in preparing to defend itself if Iraq attacks [a likely consequence of Bush attacking Iraq]. (3) France, Germany and Belgium refuse to contribute to a buildup of Turkish defenses because they see this as abetting Bush's move toward the war against Iraq which they think can still be averted by diplomatic means. (4) Bush asserts France, Germany and Belgium are violating their NATO pledge to come to the assistance of any NATO member who calls for help (See #2, above).
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Thus: Bush redefines the problem from (a) Arrogant American unilateralism [e.g., Bush's eagerness to end diplomacy and attack Iraq], to (b) France, Germany and Belgium not living up to their [NATO] treaty responsibilities and turning their back on an endangered ally -- not to mention their "'utter ingratitude....' Representative Tom Lantos of California, the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee [said:] 'Had it not been for our military commitment, France, Germany and Belgium today would be Soviet socialist republics. The failure of these states to honor their commitments is beneath contempt.'" (David Firestone, "3 Countries' U.S. Criticism Brings Anger in Congress", NYT on the Web, 12Feb03)
LOCAL councils are to be given powers to force property owners... who want to keep their properties empty while watching the value rise... to rent out homes that they have been deliberately keeping empty.... Dennis Harryman, a cabinet member of Southampton City Council, said: "We will be able to say to people 'Put your property on the market, or we'll rent it out'. The number of properties empty over six months is running into the hundreds when we have 9,000 people on the waiting list."
Anthony Browne, "Owners will be forced to rent their empty homes", Times (UK) Online, 06Feb03. The article also presents the opposition opinion: "David Davis, who shadows the Deputy Prime Minister, said that Mr. Prescott had declared war on homeowners: 'This announcement smacks of an old socialist state, not of a 21st-century United Kingdom....'"
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Ed. note: Where would you draw the line in public support for or even just tolerance of private gain thru wilful socially harmful behavior?
Americans who want to eat right have to behave "abnormally." Philip James, president of World Health Organization's International Obesity Task Force, quoted in Timothy K. Smith, "We've got to stop eating like this: If food companies are to grow, so must we, it seems. What could transform our diet on a national scale?", Fortune, 03Feb03, pp.58-70.
Davos, Switzerland.... Attorney General John Ashcroft came here today to explain to the world's rich, powerful and just plain pushy the Bush administration's tactics in its campaign against terror.... Paul Sagan, an American technology executive... for instance, told Mr. Ashcroft...: "I'm concerned about the way Americans are perceived. Why do you think we are perceived as being not on the right side by a lot of the world? Often we are seen on the wrong side."... Anne-Marie Slaughter, a professor at Princeton, said the central issue being debated in the world now was American power and the opposition to it.... It is, however, the looming possibility of war with Iraq that underpins a sense among some critics that Washington's overwhelming dominance as the world's only superpower has somehow lessened its standing in the world. "We expect more wise guy than big guy," said Amr Moussa, the secretary general of the Arab League. Alan Cowell, "Ashcroft Soaks Up a World of Complaints", NYT, 25Jan03, p.A9.
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