Phil Shaw - http://okshaw.com

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Dean Acheson, "Present at the Creation":

(In response to Lyndon Johnson asking "Dean, why don't people like me?"):
"Because, Mr President, you're just not likable."

Lord Acton:

"Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely."


Where is the righteous man who knows no fear?
The stronger your fear, your reverence for the just,
the stronger your country's wall and city's safety.

William Archer:

"Desiring to enforce a general principle, you invent a case which is specially favourable to your argument, and insinuate it into the acceptance of the audience by every possible subtlety of adjustment. You trust...that people who have applauded an act of pardon in an extreme case will be so much the readier to exercise that high prerogative in the less carefully prepared cases which present themselves in real life."

Archilocus (Greek poet):

"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."

Matthew Arnold:

"[The mission of intellectuals is]...the disinterested endeavor to learn and propogate the best that is known and thought in the world."

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Mikhail Bakunin:

"The urge to destroy is a creative urge."

"Anarchists know what they are fighting against more than what they are fighting for."

Honore de Balzac:

"Behind every great fortune there is a crime." (See William Jennings Bryan.

Jeremy Bentham:

"It is with government as with medicine. Its only business is the choice of evils. Every law is an evil, for every law is an infraction of liberty."

Bruno Bettleheim:

"I'd give my life for my brother, or for 10 cousins."

Rose Bird:

"We must curtail arbitrary power."

William Blake:

"You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough."

Marlon Brando (in the movie, "The Wild One":

"What are you rebelling against?"
"What have you got?"

Fernand Braudel:

"Men do not make history. Rather it is history that makes men and thereby absolves them from blame." (L'Identite de France)

William Jennings Bryan:

"No one can earn a million dollars honestly." (See Balzac.)

William F. Buckley:

"I'd rather be governed by the first 2000 people in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard."

Edmund Burke:

"Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion."

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Thomas Carlyle:

"No great man lives in vain. The history of the world is but the biography of great men."

James Carville:

"It's the economy, stupid."

Johny Cash:

"Being rich means you get to worry about everything except money."

Whittacker Chambers:

"It is idle to talk about preventing the wreck of Western civilization. It is already a wreck from within. That is why we can hope to do little more now than snatch a fingernail of a saint from the rack or a handful of ashes from the faggots, and bury them secretly in a flowerpot against the day, ages hence, when a few men begin again to dare to believe that there was once something else, that something else is thinkable, and need some evidence of what it was, and the fortifying knowledge that there were those who, at the great nightfall, took loving thought to preserve the tokens of hope and truth."

Winston Churcill:

"Democracy is the worst possible political system except for all the others."

"There is not one single social or economic principle or concept in the philosophy of the Russian Bolshevik that has not been realized, carried into action, and enshrined in immutable laws a million years ago by the White Ant. "


"There be nothing so absurd but that some philosopher has said it." (See Orwell)

"Not to know what happened before we were born is to remain forever a child."

Bill Clinton:

"I feel your pain."

"Mistakes were made."

"I deeply regret what happened."

"It just happened." (Regarding the handshake with Fidel Castro.)

Hillary Clinton:

(Poem, concluding her graduation speech at Wellesley, 1969)" And the purpose of history is to provide a receptacle
For all those myths and oddments
Which oddly we have acquired
And from which we would become unburdened
To create a newer world
To transform the future into the present. "

Emil Coue:

"Every day in every way I'm getting better and better".


"...the best poetry is that which is only generally, and not precisely, understood..."

Noel Coward:

"Why do the wrong people travel?" (Sail Away)

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Charles Darwen:

"...natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, the slightest variations; rejecting those that are bad, preserving and adding up all that are good; silently and insensibly working whenever and wherever opportunity offers at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life."

Stephen Decatur:

"Our country right or wrong. May she always be right."

Everett Dirksen:

"Don't tax you, don't tax me. Tax the man behind that tree."

"A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money."

Benjamin Disraeli:

"There are three kinds of untruths: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Ray Donovan (after being acquitted on corruption charges):

"Where do I go to get my reputation back?"

Justic William O. Douglas:

"Specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those garantees that give them life and substance." (Griswold v. Connecticut)

"There are plenty of precedents to go around."

Bob Dylan:

"I'm determined to stand whether God will deliver me or not." (a phrase that struck him onstage in Locarno, Switzerland)

"My daddy once said, 'Son, it's possible to become so defiled in this world that your own mother and father will abandon you. And if that happens, God will always believe in you own ability to mend your ways.' " (acceptance remarks for Lifetime Achievement Award at 1991 Grammies)

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Thomas Edison:

"When Government goes into business it can always shift its losses to the taxpayers."


"Make every theory as simple as possible, and no simpler."

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Dwight Eisenhower (apocryphal):

"A system of government like ours makes no sense unless founded on a firm faith in religion, and I don't care which it is."

Duke Ellington:

"I don't need time to write. I need a deadline."

Rahm Emanuel:

"Never waste a good crisis. They are opportunities to do big things."

Eminem (see also Trent Reznor):

"Remember how much fun it was to curse when you were in the first grade?"


"Things themselves don't hurt or hinder us. Nor do other people. It is our attitudes and reactions that give us trouble... We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can choose how we respond to them."


"If a rock falls on your head it does positive harm,
but shame, disgrace, reproaches, and insults are damaging only in so far as you're conscious of them. If you're not, you feel no hurt at all." [Praise of Folly]

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William Faulkner:

"If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; The 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' is worth more than any number of old ladies. "

Henry Ford:

"Customers can have any color you want, as long as it's black."

"We shall solve the city problem by leaving the city."

F.Scott Fitzgerald:

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."

E.M. Forster:

"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hop I should have the guts to betray my country."

Benjamin Franklin:

"Well done is better than well said."

Milton Friedman:

"The nature of goverment:

Robert Frost:

"Good fences make good neighbors."

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Paul Gaugin

"To me, barbarism is a rejuvenation."


"A clever man commits no minor blunders."

Hermann Goring:

"When I hear someone speak of art, I reach for my pistol."

Julie Gold:

"...From a distance, there is harmony...
...From a distance, we all have enough...
...From a distance, you look like my friend...
...From a distance, I just cannot comprehend
What all this fighting is for...." ("From a Distance")

Andrew Greely:

"If you can find a Church that is perfect, by all means join it, but realize that, when you do, it has ceased to be perfect."

Sacha Guitry:

"You can pretend to be serious; you can't pretend to be witty."

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Ernst Haeckel:

"Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny."

Lord Hailsham:

"If dictatorship is the concentration of power, freedom consists in its diffusion."

George Harris (executed in Missouri on Sept 13, 2000):

"Someone needs to kill my lawyer."

Stanley Hauerwas:

"You always marry the wrong person."

Heinrich Heine (in a review of The Merchant of Venice in 1838)

"All Europe is catching up with the Jews [who] embodied the principle of modernity. The Greeks and Romans championed the soil and Fatherland. Subsequently, the Greco-Romanized northern Euope championed the person of the chieftain, replacing the patriotism of antiquity with the vassalage and fidelity to princes of the Middle Ages. The Jews, however, championed on the the law and abstract thought, as do the cosmopolitan republicans of our own age, who esteem above all neither homeland nor ruler, but law alone."

Werner Heisenberg:

"If my brother steals a silver spoon he is still my brother."

Don Henly:

"Fortune smiles on some, and lets the others go free."

Sir Edmund Hillary:

"Because it's there."


"Life is short, and the Art is long; opportunity fleeting; experiment dangerous; and judgment difficult."

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr:

"The general rule is that while property may be regulated to a certain extent, if regulation goes to far it will be recognized as taking."

"I happen to prefer champagne to ditchwater, but there is no reason to suppose that the cosmos does."

Charles Evans Hughes:

"The consititution not only is, but ought to be what the judges say it is."

Robert Hutchins (Chancellor of the University of Chicago in the 1950s):

"Whenever I feel like exercizing, I lie down until the feeling passes."

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Jesse Jackson (with protesters at Stanford University):

"Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Western Civ has got to go".

Stonewall Jackson:

"My religion teaches me to feel as safe in battle as I do in my bed."

Jesuits (on leaving China in failure at the beginning of the 18th century):

"Go now, voyager. Congratulate the dead. Console the living. Pray for everyone. Wonder and be silent."

Samuel Johnson

"Depend on it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." (1777, on the execution of the preacher Dr. William Dodd)

"How small, of all that human hearts endure,
That part which laws or kings can cause or cure!""

John Paul Jones:

"I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way."

"I have only begun to fight."

Ben Jonson

"No precept will profit a fool"

"Whatsoevwer he [Shakespeare] penned, he never blotted out a line."

James Joyce:

(Stephen Dedalus, in Ulysses) "History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake."

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Pauline Kael:

"I don't understand how he [Richard Nixon in 1968] won. Nobody I know voted for him."


"So act that your every deed is a universal imperative."

Helen Keller:

"The highest result of education is tolerance."

Walt Kelly:

(The cartoon character Pogo): "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Jacqueline Kennedy:

(Asked why she didn't change out of the bloody dress on the flight back from Dallas)
"Let them see what they've done."

John F. Kennedy:

"Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

Frank Kermode

"When you hear talk of archetypes, reach for your reality principle."

John Maynard Keynes:

"The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead."

"If the economic problem is solved, mankind will be deprived of its traditional purpose. Will this be a benefit? If one believes at all in the real values of life, the prospect at least opens up the possibility of benefit. Yet I think with dread of the readjustment of habits and instincts of the ordinary man, bred into him for countless generations, which he may be asked to discard within a few decades."

Neil Kinnock:

"Having liberties invariably reduces the liberties of others."

Henry Kissinger:

"The bureaucrats and staff will tend to give you three alternatives: nuclear war, total surrender, or their preference."

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I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me.
That I am part of the earth my feet
know perfectly and my blood is part of the sea.


"Who whom."

"The capitalists will sell us the rope with which to hang them."

Charles Lindbergh:

"If I could fly for 10 years before I was killed in a crash, it would be a worthwhile trade for an ordinary lifetime."

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Catherine MacKinnon:

"All sex is rape."

Enrico Malesta (Italian anarchist):

"Propaganda by deed."

Dean Martin:

"It's Frank's world. We just live in it."


"To each according to his needs, from each according to his abilities".

Victor Mature (when refused membership by the Los Angeles Country Club because he was an actor):

"Hell, I'm no actor, and I've got 28 pictures and a scrapbook to prove it."

Margaret Mead:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world."

Edwin Meese:

"An expert is somebody who is more than 50 miles away from home, has no responsibility for implementing the advice he gives, and shows slides."

H.L. Menken:

"For evey problem there's a simple solution, and it's always wrong."


(On hearing that the Russian ambassador had died): "Whatever can have been his motive?"

John Stuart Mill

"The only purpose for which power can rightfully be excercised over any member of a civilized community, agains his will, is to prevent harm to others.

His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant."

Robert Mitchum:

"Booze, broads, it's all true. Make up more if you want."

G.E. Moore:

"The distinction between goodness as an attribute of mind and rightness as an attribute of action. Rightness of action is contingent. It depends on probabilities, unforseeable events, and actions and re-actions of others. Assessment of such rightness varies over the years, as perspective increases. Good intentions are immediate and unconditional."

Robert Moses

"The critics build nothing."

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Reinhold Neihbur:

"God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."

Isaac Newton:

"If I have seen farther than others, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants."

Pastor Martin Niemoeller:

"First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I said nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat so I said nothing. Then came the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist. And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left who could stand up for me."

Frederich Neitzche:

"That which doesn't destroy me makes me stronger".

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William of Occam (1285-1349):

"Never increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything" (Occam's Razor)

Flannery O'Connor:

"Everything that rises must converge."

Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neil:

"All politics is local."

George Orwell:

"One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that; no ordinary man could be such a fool."

Gloria Steinem:

"A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."

John O'Sullivan:

"All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing."

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Thomas Paine

"I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish chrch, by the Protestant church, or by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church."

"The price of liberty is eternal vigilence."

Northcote Parkinson:

"Work expands to fill the available time."


"The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter."

"The heart has its reasons which the reason knows not of."

"Thinking reed. It is not in space that I must look for my dignity, but in the organization of my thoughts.

I shall have no advantage in owning estates. Through space the universe grasps and engulfs me like a pinpoint; but through thought I can grasp it... All our dignity consists, therefore, of thought. It is from there that we must be lifted up and not from space and time, which we could never fill. So let us work on thinking well. That is the principle of morality."

"The self [ego] is hateworthy" ("le moi est haïssable"

"All the misfortunes of men derive from one single thing, their inability to remain at repose in a room."

George S Patton:

"A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tommorrow."

Charles Peguy:

"It will never be known what acts of cowardice have been motivated by the fear of not looking sufficiently progressive."

"God writes straight with crooked lines."

Lawrence Peter, "The Peter Principle":

"In a hierarchy, everyone is eventually promoted to their level of incompetance."


"The Turks are infidels and enemies, but the Greeks are schismatics, and worse than enemies."

George S. Patton:

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what you want them to achieve, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."


"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."


"The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations, and benefits."


"Property is theft."

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John Randolph of Virginia, member of the House of Representatives, speaking of Edward Livingston of New York:

"He is a man of splendid abilities, but utterly corrupt. Like rotten mackerel by moonlight, he shines and stinks."

Trent Reznor (see also Eminem):

"I like the idea of irritating people. I like that your parents hate this music. They should hate it.

Buddy Rich (to Artie Shaw):

"You failed your talent."

La Rochefoucauld:

"Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue."

Rodney King:

"Can't we all just get along? Can't we stop making it horrible for the old people and kids?"

Theodore Roosevelt:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumpled or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while caring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Jean-Jacques Rousseau:

"Man is born free, but is everywhere in chains."

Lord Rutherford:

"If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment."

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George Santayana:

"Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it."

Jean Baptiste Say:

"Bad money pushes out good." (Say's Law)

Delmore Schwartz:

"Even paranoids can have enemies."

Jack Schwartz:

"Programming is optimization."

"Science progresses; art doesn't."

Eric Severeid:

"Never make a prediction that can be disproven within 3 days."


Glendower: "I can call spirits from the vasty deep."
Hotspur: "Why, so can I, or so can any man; but will they come when you do call for them?" (Henry IV act 3 scene 1)

"I wasted time, and now doth time waste me." (Richard II)

William A. Shaw:

"Thinking is hard work, and not many people will indulge in it. Hence the present condition of the country. Do not put second things first. It never pays. You have to do that when the future presents the bill, and it is always presented, with interest added."

"Thinking is very hard work; it is more convenient to rearrange our prejudices and peddle our opinions."

Adam Smith:

"In every civilized society, in every society where the distinction of ranks has once been completely established, there have been always two different schemes or systems of morality current at the same time; of which the one may be called the strict or austere; the other the liberal, or, if you will, the loose system. The former is generally admired and revered by the common people; the latter is ommonly more esteemed and adopted by what are called people of fashion." (The Wealth of Nations)


Questioner: "How's your wife?"
Socrates: "Compared to what."

Robert Louis Stevenson:

"To travel hopefully is better than to arrive."


"Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one's self of the chains that shackle the spirit." (Poetics of Music)

Lincoln Stephens:

"I have seen the future, and it works."

Charles Swindoll:

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill."

"The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change theinevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude....

"I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...We are in charge of our Attitudes."

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Saint Teresa:

"More tears are caused by answered prayers than by unanswered prayers."

Lionel Trilling:

"...those who most explicitly assert and wish to practise the democratic virtues have taken it as their assumption that all social facts, with the exception of exclusion and economic hardship, must be accepted, not merely in the scientific sense, but also in the social sense, in the sense, that is, that no judgement must be passed on them, that any conclusion drawn from them which perceives values and consequences will turn out to be 'undemocratic'"

Harry Truman:

"The buck stops here."

Mark Twain:

"To a man with a new hammer, everything looks like a nail."

"In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. Therefore ... in the Old Silurian Period the Mississippi River was upward of one million three hundred thousand miles long ... seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long. ... There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."

Mike Tyson:

"Everybody has a plan until I hit them."

(Clausewitz): "No plan survives contact with the enemy."

Chuang Tzu:

The man of Tao
Remains unknown
Perfect virtue produces nothing
No Self is True Self
And the greatest man is Nobody

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"There are happy people and unhappy people. Happy people and unhappy people cannot understand each other. Only unhappy people who were once happy and happy people who were once unhappy understand the others."

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Paul Valery

"Everything changes, except the avant garde".


"I fear the Greeks, even when they come bearing gifts."

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Andy Warhol:

"In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes."

"Art is what you can get away with."

Alfred North Whitehead:

Walt Whitman:

"The maker of poems settles justice, reality, immortality.
His insight and power encircle things and the human race."

"Agonies are one of my changes of garments. I do not ask the wounded person how he feels. I myself become the wounded person."

Oscar Wilde:

"Art should never be popular. The public should try to make itself artistic."

"A truth in art is that whose contradictory is also true."

George Will:

"Having children makes grown-ups of adults."

"That's what soldiers are trained to do, kill people and break things."

Tennessee Williams

"The overarching theme for my plays is the negative impact that conventional society has upon the sensitive, nonconformist individual"

Charles Wilson (Secretary of Defense under President Eisenhower, and former Chairman of General Motors):

"What's good for General Motors is good for the U.S."

Woodrow Wilson:

"Long a child, longer a diffident youth."

Ludwig Wittgenstein:

"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

Frank Lloyd Wright:

"A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines."

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"Out of our quarrels with others we make rhetoric; out of our quarrels with ourselves we make poetry."

"The woods of Arcady are dead,
and over is their antique joy...
Words alone are certain good." (The song of the Happy Shepherd")

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