Sift Quotes of 2015

January 5

I know that I cannot carry a gun in public and neither can my sons, even if it is a toy. If I lay prone on an open highway and point an assault rifle at a federal agent, my next stop would be federal custody or the nearest county morgue. Open carry laws are not meant for me. The rules are different. It’s what it means to be black in this country. — Goldie Taylor “What Would Happen if I Got in a White Cop’s Face?

January 12

No blasphemy could be more heinous than this crime, no matter what the magazine published or whom it offended. Judgment belongs to God. Those who claim to defend Islam with violence and horror are essentially asserting that God is incapable of carrying out His will and so they must act in His stead: that’s blasphemy. Mir Tamim Ansary, Afghan-American novelist (2015)

January 19

St. Peter don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go. I owe my soul to the company store. — “16 Tons“, usually attributed to Merle Travis

January 26

There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous, their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it. – William Jennings Bryan, “Cross of Gold” (1896)

February 2

When teetotalers are the only ones willing to say “maybe you’ve had one too many,” because your friends are worried about sounding like abstemious scolds, the advice is a lot easier to dismiss. Which is fine until it’s time to drive home. – Julian Sanchez, “Chait Speech

February 9

Christianity did not “cause” slavery, anymore than Christianity “caused” the civil-rights movement. The interest in power is almost always accompanied by the need to sanctify that power. That is what the Muslims terrorists in ISIS are seeking to do today, and that is what Christian enslavers and Christian terrorists did for the lion’s share of American history. — Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Foolish, Historically Illiterate, Incredible Response to Obama’s Prayer Breakfast Speech” (2-6-2015)

February 16

Did I die? — Jon Stewart, 2-11-2015

February 23

I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually. – James Baldwin

March 2

We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. — Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address (1801)

There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. — Barack Obama “Keynote Address to the Democratic National Convention” (2004)

March 9

What was the law, when bright shiny money was in sight? Money make the train go. — Charley Barbour, quoted in The American Slave, a Composite Autobiography

March 16

They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it’s not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance. Terry Pratchett

March 23

I have not yet heard … a persuasive vision of how Israel survives as a democracy and a Jewish state at peace with its neighbors in the absence of a peace deal with the Palestinians and a two-state solution. Nobody has presented me a credible scenario. President Barack Obama

March 30

The [university’s] policy with respect to intermarriage, the record also clearly establishes, was rooted from the beginning in a belief that is derived from scripture: not that races should not associate, but that races should not intermarry. — William Ball, lawyer for Bob Jones University, oral argument of Bob Jones University v. the United States (1982)

April 6

I have no doubt that Christian conservatives do feel limited by other people’s rights. There is that saying, “Your rights end where my nose begins.” Christian conservatives are arguing that they should be able to punch you in the nose if that desire to punch you in the nose is sincerely held. — Amanda Marcotte, How Conservatives Hijacked ‘Religious Freedom’

April 13

It is easy to proclaim all souls equal in the sight of God. It is hard to make men equal on earth in the sight of men. James Baldwin

April 20

Republicans think I’m too old to be president but not old enough for Social Security. – a line suggested for Hillary Clinton

April 27

Cruz, Paul and Rubio, all running for President. Hey, I thought I was supposed to write the horror stories. Stephen King

May 11

The complete lack of evidence is the surest sign that the conspiracy is working. — Anonymous (or maybe they just don’t want us to know who said it)

May 18

The official forgetting we are supposed to do will not produce the desired result. [Eventually] people forget why they are supposed to forget, and then they start to remember. — an anonymous Chinese man commenting on the Cultural Revolution, quoted in Patrick Smith’s Somebody Else’s Century.

May 25

Remember, ladies and gentlemen, there is no background check if you want to buy a senator. David Letterman

I don’t believe that the men and women who defended American democracy fought to create a situation where American billionaires own the political process.Bernie Sanders

June 1

Maxim 218: Hypocrisy is an homage that vice pays to virtue. François de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680)

June 8

In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. — Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

June 15

The “trickle-down” theory: the principle that the poor, who must subsist on table scraps dropped by the rich, can best be served by giving the rich bigger meals. William Blum

June 22

A black shooter is a thug, a Muslim is a terrorist, and a white attacker is perhaps mentally ill. — an unidentified interviewer for RT network’s “In the Now

Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let’s be clear. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. President Barack Obama

June 29

The human imagination stubbornly refuses to die. And the moment any significant number of people simultaneously shake off the shackles that have been placed on that collective imagination, even our most deeply inculcated assumptions about what is and is not politically possible have been known to crumble overnight. — David Graeber, The Democracy Project (2013)

July 6

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix. Judge Leon M. Bazile (1965) denying the motion of Richard and Mildred Loving to vacate their conviction for miscegenation

If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made. The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn the line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line. Rev. Jerry Falwell “Segregation or Integration: Which?” (1958)

Savannah Guthrie: If a state clerk refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple, would you agree with that too?
Ted Cruz: There’s no religious backing for that. — The Today Show, 6-29-2015

July 20

By easing tensions with Cuba and now Iran, President Obama is “recklessly squandering America’s precious supply of enemies,” the leader of a conservative think tank said on Tuesday. – Andy Borowitz “Obama Squandering America’s Precious Supply of Enemies

July 27

For too long our leaders have used politics as the art of the possible. And the challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible, possible. — Hillary Rodham, Wellesley commencement speech (1969)

August 3

Sometimes I wonder whether these various forms of giving back have become to our era what the papal indulgence was to the Middle Ages: a relatively inexpensive way of getting oneself seemingly on the right side of justice, without having to alter the fundamentals of one’s life.Anand Giridharadas, quoted by David Brooks

August 10

Finally, there’s the bullshit of infinite possibility. These bullshitters cover their unwillingness to act under the guise of unending inquiry. We can’t do anything because we don’t yet know everything. We cannot take action on climate change until everyone in the world agrees gay-marriage vaccines won’t cause our children to marry goats, who are going to come for our guns. – Jon Stewart, “Three Different Kinds of Bullshit

August 17

In this movement exists a kind of urgency that only proximity to terror can produce, and yes, that urgency can be extreme and discomforting, because it must be. The sedative of all normalcies and niceties are the enemies so long as lives are in danger. – Charles Blow, “Activists ‘Feel the Bern’?

August 24

I just thought I had a few weeks left. But I was surprisingly at ease. I’ve had a wonderful life and thousands of friends, and I’ve had an exciting, adventurous, and gratifying existence. … Now I feel that it’s in the hands of God, whom I worship, and I’ll be prepared for it when it comes. Jimmy Carter, on the prospect of dying of cancer

August 31

Conservative media and Fox News in particular have spent years – decades, if you count talk radio – training their audiences to believe that exhortations against sexism and racism are nothing but the “political correctness” police trying to kill your good time. … You can’t tell people, day in and day out, that nothing is more fun than putting some mouthy broad in her place and then get upset when they continue to think it’s fun, even when the mouthy broad is one of yours. – Amanda Marcotte “Why Fox News’ Defense of Megyn Kelly is Going to Backfire

September 7

It is painful to accept fully the simple fact that one begins from where one is, that one must break free of the web of illusions one spins about life. Most of us view the world not as it is but as we would like it to be. – Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals (1971)

September 14

Invoking 9/11 to attack diplomacy with Iran would be like criticizing Nixon going to China because of Pearl Harbor. Chris Hayes

September 21

It’s not hard to scare people, but it’s extremely difficult to unscare them.Dr. Paul Offit, on vaccines

October 5

Somebody, somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. … This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America.President Obama, responding to the Umpqua Community College shooting

Maybe gun purchasers should have to undergo an invasive ultrasound & be informed by a doctor of the possible consequences of their actions.Anna Marie Cox

October 12

The GOP’s increasing preference for callow, reckless candidates represents a culmination of the anti-government, anti-politics, anti-intellectual direction of the conservative movement. Although it overlaps with the GOP’s rightward shift, it presents a unique threat to American democracy because it espouses not mere preference for smaller government, but a visceral hatred of functioning government and the practice of politics. This mindset abhors concessions to objective reality, expertise, or political adversaries domestic and foreign.Ben Adler

Half the republicans in congress want to continue using their position to benefit the wealthy, while the other half of the republicans in congress just want to burn the country down out of spite. Together they have a majority in the House, so they get to pick the Speaker.Bill Palmer

October 19

If your brother and his administration bear no responsibility at all [for 9/11], how do you then make the jump that President Obama and Secretary Clinton are responsible for what happened at Benghazi?” — CNN reporter Jake Tapper, interviewing Jeb Bush on Sunday’s State of the Union

October 26

Leo, we need to be investigated by someone who wants to kill us just to watch us die. We need someone perceived by the American people to be irresponsible, untrustworthy, partisan, ambitious, and thirsty for the limelight. Am I crazy, or is this not a job for the U. S. House of Representatives? — C. J. Cregg, The West Wing (2001)

November 2

[Chess Grandmaster Aron] Nimzowitsch … once missed first prize in a tournament in Berlin by losing to Sämisch, and when it became clear he was going to lose the game, Nimzowitsch stood up on the table and shouted, “Gegen diesen Idioten muss ich verlieren!” (‘That I should lose to this idiot!”) Chess Review (1950), quoted by Wikipedia

I’ve about had it with these people. … We’ve got one candidate that says that we ought to abolish Medicaid and Medicare. Have you ever heard of anything as crazy as that? … We’ve got one person saying we ought to have a 10% flat tax that’ll drive up the deficit in this country by trillions of dollars. … We’ve got one guy that says we ought to take 10 or 11 million people … and pick them up and take them to the border and scream at them to get out of our country. That’s just crazy! … We’ve got people proposing health care reform that’s going to leave, I believe, millions of people without adequate health insurance. What has happened to our party? What has happened to the conservative movement? — John Kasich, 10-27-2015

Ben Carson 26%, Donald Trump 22% … John Kasich 4% — CBS/NYT poll, 10-27-2015

November 9

Beware of the tiny gods frightened men create. Hafiz (13th century)

November 16

Without knowing exactly why ISIS undertook these attacks, we risk dancing to their tune.Will McCants

November 23

All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. — George Orwell, “Notes on Nationalism” (1945)

November 30

If we think that we can only identify the rise of fascism by the arrival of its mature form — the goosestepping brownshirts, the full-fledged use of violence and intimidation tactics, the mass rallies — then it will be far too late. Fascism sprang up in fact as a much more atomized phenomenon, arising at first mostly in rural areas and then spreading to the cities; and if we are to look at those origins, then it’s clear that similar movements can already be seen to exist in America. — David Neiwert Rush, Newspeak, and Fascism (2003)

December 7

Your “thoughts” should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your “prayers” should be for forgiveness if you do nothing – again.Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut)

Just another day in the United States of America, another day of gunfire, panic, and fear.BBC intro to the San Bernardino shootings

December 14

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, and blaming it on you …Rudyard Kipling

It is no accident that President Obama’s America has given rise to Donald Trump.Ben Domenech

December 21

Government, despite its many sins, remains the only institution that can make our freedom real. — Gregory Downs, After Appomattox

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