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​Anarchy or Democracy?

Gadfly | April 30th, 2023

By Ed Raymond

Will we goose-step backward with the GOP or stumble forward with Democrats?

Two hundred years ago English poet William Wordsworth wrote a 14-line sonnet “The World Is Too Much With Us” with these opening lines: “The world is too much with us, late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; little we see in nature that is ours; we have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”

A hundred years ago William Butler Yeats published “The Second Coming” with these opening lines: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre the falcon cannot hear the falconer; things fall apart; the centre cannot hold, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tides loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Although 100 years apart, both poets are criticizing and admonishing the government’s failures to control the industrial revolutions taking place during their lifetimes. Because of the changes in society brought on by unregulated capitalism, we are “getting and spending” too much, and the society is falling apart so “the centre cannot hold.”

We certainly can repeat today what they said about the past. I don’t feel I have a love-hate relationship with politicians. I have many as friends or “co-workers.” In the education profession for 37 years, I often testified in Bismarck on education bills. As a teacher, school,or district administrator, I had to deal with school board politicians every day before I became one.

In my 32 years of “retired” life of 1,500 columns, I have had columns read on the floor of the U.S. Senate to support issues. My attitude about politicians is this, whether they are local, state or national members of government: If you are making the lives of the poor and middle class better, I will support you. If you are doing nothing to help them, get the hell out of the way so we can elect someone who will.

For several years we have had a political party that is goose-stepping backward to fascism, and the other is stumbling forward to mediocrity. We are suffering from what Wordsworth and Yeats described in their poems. The Grand Old Party (GOP) is trying to change to God’s Own Party (GOP), while the Democrats are trying to turn the White House and Congress into old folks’ homes.

I hope every politician will study each quote and find a lesson

Through the years I have collected thousands of quotes from politicians and from those who write about them. I have selected a few to shave a little from ignorance and a few to restrain conviction.

A story from a reader: “Five surgeons are discussing who makes the best patients to operate on. #1 surgeon: “I like to see accountants on my table because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered.” #2: “Yeah, but you should try electricians! Everything is color-coded.” #3: No, I really think librarians are the best, everything is in alphabetical order.” #4: “You know, I like construction workers. Those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over, and when the job takes longer than it should.” #5: You’re all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on. There’s no guts, no heart, no brains or spine, and the head and the butt are interchangeable.”

Mark Twain: “In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

Mahatma Gandhi: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Dave Barry: “Those who believe religion and politics aren’t connected don’t understand either.”

David Schuller: “There is no difference between religion and politics. Both involve lies and fanatical beliefs that generally defy logic…just like rock climbing.”

Susan B. Anthony: “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”

Albert Einstein: “Those who believe that politics and religion do not mix, understand neither.”

Voltaire: “Of all religions, the Christian should of course inspire the most tolerance, but until now Christians have been the most intolerant of all men.

Molly Ivins: “I have voted for candidates so putrid it makes your teeth hurt to think about them.” In paying Henry Kissinger a compliment: “He lies with more authority than anyone I have ever known.”

Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards: Only way I’d lose an election would be to get caught with a dead girl or a live boy.”

Joseph Stalin: “Those who cast the votes decide nothing, Those who COUNT the votes decide everything.”

Adolf Hitler: “The streets of our country are in turmoil! The universities are filled with students rebelling and rioting! Communists are seeking to destroy our country! Russia is threatening us with her might! Our republic is in danger, yes, in danger from within and without! WE NEED LAW AND ORDER!” (Copied by Trump, DeSantis, Carlson, and Hennen!)

ND Republican Senator Jeff Magrum: We can all agree that seat belts are good, but so is freedom.”

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to ship the citizenry into a patriotic fever for patriotism indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded with patriotism, will offer up all their rights unto the leader, and gladly so. How do I know? For that is what I have done, And I am Caesar.”

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem: ” I have already given my two-year-old granddaughter Addie a shotgun and a rifle.”

Victor Hugo: “The rich’s paradise was created by the poor’s hell.”

Robin Buller: “Because it ruptured so early, my surrounding organs would probably not be damaged. But the pregnancy, as with all ectopic pregnancies, was not viable. It would need to be surgically aborted, and fast, to stop internal bleeding and prevent infection, both of which can be life-threatening. In simpler terms, I was going to have an abortion and it was going to save my life.”

Will Rogers: “I bet when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock and they had the whole lot of the American continent, and all they had to do to get an extra 160 acres was to shoot another Indian, I betcha anything they kicked on the price of ammunition.”

Cyrano de Bergerac: “What would you have me do? Seek for the patronage of some great man, and like a creeping vine on a tall tree crawl upward, where I cannot stand alone? No thank you! Eat a toad for breakfast every morning? Make my knees callous and cultivate a supple spine—wear out my belly groveling in the dust? No thank you! Scratch the back of any swine that roots up gold for me? No thank you!”

A Russian General’s advice on Afghanistan: “Sure, you can blow everything up or down in a week and declare victory, but then after ten years you will admit defeat like we did and go home.” (The tragedy is it took us 20 years.)

Bob Hope on his family’s early poverty: “Four of us slept in one bed. When it got cold, mother threw on another brother.”

Dr. Lillian Liao, San Antonio trauma surgeon: “The high-velocity firearm injuries, when they come in, you’re missing body parts, and there’s bleeding. You don’t see muscle. There’s just bone and skin and missing parts.” (Other testimony in the mass shooting at a Sutherland Springs, Texas church): “The kids were just lying there piled up with their faces blown off. I couldn’t see Crystal’s beautiful face anymore. It was just a crater.” (The shooter fired 450 military rounds at 3,200f/s from an AR-15 model in less than five minutes. He fired 196 times inside the church in 16 separate bursts.)

Anatole France: “The law in its majestic equality forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread.”

Sack, Tribune cartoonist on CEOs: “I pledge allegiance to myself/ As a corporate big shot in America/ And to my personal fortune on which I pad--lavish salary—stock options—obscene perks--With layoffs and worthless 401(k)s/ For my employees all.”

Joan Brickner: “In 1960 white housewives hypocritically waved Bibles while cursing and spitting on little Ruby Bridges.”

Senator Bernie Sanders: Ninety percent of our wealth is owned by one-tenth 0f 1% of the population; the wealth of 725 U.S. billionaires increased 70% during the pandemic to more than $5tn; Black Rock, Vanguard and State Street now control assets of $20tn and are major shareholders in 96% of S&P 500 companies. They spend tens of millions—on campaign contributions—to buy politicians who will do their bidding. They spend billions more on lobbying firms to influence government decisions at every level. And to a significant degree, the oligarchs own the media.”

John Jay Chapman: The world of politics is always twenty years behind the world of thought.

Desmond Tutu, bishop: “When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land.”

Michael McNabb: “Student loans have provided the fuel for the skyrocketing cost of higher education, which has risen even faster than the cost of healthcare over the past 30 years. Our current system of financing much of higher education with student loan debt lacks sufficient incentive to control costs. Making the university the guarantor of student loans would provide that incentive.

Charles M. Blow: “History is full of horribleness. We do ourselves and our children no favors pretending otherwise. Learning about human cruelty is necessarily uncomfortable. It is in that discomfort that our empathy is revealed and our righteousness awakened. Florida’s crusading censors are choosing the comfort of ignorance over the inconvenience of truth.”

Dr. Gabriela Balf: “I am one of the doctors who care for transgender people, and I am stunned at the number of falsehoods that were dispersed, unchecked on the Senate floor last week. Will this embarrassment happen again this week?”

Carl Sandburg: If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.”

H. L. Mencken: “If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.”

Mrs. Pat Campbell: “It doesn’t matter what you do in the bedroom as long as you don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses.”

George Santayana: “Those who can’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” 

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