Sift Quotes of 2016

January 4

I am tired of the stranglehold that women have had on the job of presidential spouse.

Bill Clinton

January 18

Our collective futures depend on your willingness to uphold your duties as a citizen. To vote. To speak out. To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us.

— President Barack Obama, the 2016 State of the Union address

January 25

Keep a light, hopeful heart. But ­expect the worst.

— Joyce Carol Oates

February 1

Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.

Theodore Roosevelt (1904)

February 8

While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.

— Justice John Paul Stevens,
dissenting opinion in Citizens United (2010)

February 15

Any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde;
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

— John Donne
Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions (1624)

February 22

Apparently, the GOP thinks that Black Presidents only get 3/5ths a term.

— a friend of Ken Wissonker

February 29

We were trying to do some modeling on which states Trump is strong and weak in — there’s now enough polling across different states to do that — and the best correlate we could find for Trump’s support is Google searches for the N-word.

— Nate Silver, 538 podcast, 2-25-2016

March 7

He speaks his mind, but his mind isn’t right.

— 13-year-old Jayka,
in “Kids React to Donald Trump

March 14

No man is free who is not master of himself.


March 21

Riots aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

Scottie Nell Hughes,
a Tea Party activist who has campaigned with Donald Trump

March 28

In going to war, it is a common mistake to begin at the wrong end: to act first, and wait for disaster to discuss the matter.

— Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, 5th century B.C.

April 4

Your vote is supposed to count. Break that understanding and there will be hell to pay.

Josh Marshall

April 11

The delay of justice is great injustice.

— John Musgrave (1646)

April 18

All is in flux, nothing is stationary. … You could not step into the same river twice.

— Heraclitus, 5th century B.C.

What has been will be again. What has been done will be done again. There is no new thing under the sun. 

Ecclesiastes 1:9

History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.

— attributed (probably falsely) to Mark Twain

April 25

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.

— Prince, “Let’s Go Crazy” (1984)

May 9

This is a Joe McCarthy moment. People will be judged by where they stood at this time. Those who walked with Trump will be tainted forever after.

— David Brooks, “If Not Trump, What?” (4-29-2016)

May 16

I play to people’s fantasies. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.

— Donald J. Trump, The Art of the Deal (1987)

May 23

Whether you voted for me or you voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team, and none of us can afford to sit on the sidelines. … Barack Obama is my candidate, and he must be our president.

Hillary Clinton, 2008 Democratic Convention (8-26-2008)

May 30

When wilt thou save the people?
Oh God of mercy when?
The people, Lord, the people
Not thrones and crowns, but men.

— “Save the People” from Godspell

June 6

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.

— Muhammad Ali

June 13

It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought — that is, a thought diverging from the principles of IngSoc — should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words.

— George Orwell, “The Principles of Newspeak

June 20

Give me three 100 round drum magazines and I could hold my whole block hostage for a day. Give me thirty 10 round magazines and someone will be able to stop me.

– Daniel Hayes, “I Am an AR-15 Owner And I’ve Had Enough

June 27

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.

– John Donne, Meditation XVII, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions (1624)

July 5

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.

– President Abraham Lincoln (1862)

It is preposterous to suppose that the people of one generation can lay down the best and only rules of government for all who are to come after them.

– President Ulysses Grant (1885)

July 18

The movement began as a call to end violence. That call remains. … My prayers are with the victims of all violence.

– DeRay McKesson, a Black Lives Matter activist

July 25

I’ve heard this sort of speech a lot in the last 15 years and trust me, it doesn’t sound any better in Russian.

– Garry Kasparov, former Putin challenger and world chess champion

America was not built on fear. It was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.

Tim Kaine, quoting Harry Truman

August 1

At its core, discrimination is the result of fear. Those who think Americans scare easily enough to abandon our country’s ideals in exchange for a false sense of security underestimate our resolve.

Kareem Abdul-Jabar at the 2016 Democratic Convention

August 8

Never interfere with an enemy while he’s in the process of destroying himself. 

– attributed to Napoleon

August 15

When asked when community distrust of Baltimore law enforcement began, a former top city official deadpanned to Justice Department officials, “1729” — the year of the City’s founding.

– U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
Investigation of the Baltimore City Police Department (2016)

August 22

The current presidential race, however, is something special. It takes antiscience to previously unexplored terrain.

Scientific American Donald Trump’s Lack of Respect for Science Is Alarming

August 29

What now strikes me most about trigger warnings is how small a request they are, in proportion to the backlash they incite. What is it about about this entirely free gesture of empathy that makes people so outraged?

– Kat Stoeffel, “Why I Stopped Rolling My Eyes at Trigger Warnings

September 5

Official acceptance is the one unmistakable symptom that salvation is beaten again, and is the one surest sign of fatal misunderstanding, and is the kiss of Judas.

– James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1939)

September 12

A mathematical theory is not to be considered complete until you have made it so clear that you can explain it to the first man whom you meet on the street.

– David Hilbert

September 19

Now, the engineers and managers believe with all their hearts the glorious things their forebears hired people to say about them. Yesterday’s snow job becomes today’s sermon.

Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano (1952)

September 26

It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.

And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.

– Martin Luther King, “The Other America” (March 14, 1968)

October 3

It’s not that Trump is saying things he believes to be false. It’s that he doesn’t seem to have beliefs at all, not in the way people typically talk about beliefs — as mental constructs stable across time and context. Rather, his opinions dissolve and coalesce fluidly, as he’s talking, like oil on shallow water. That’s why he gives every indication of conviction, even when, say, denying that he has said something that is still posted on his Twitter feed, or denying that he said something that he in fact said on live television, in front of millions of people, just minutes earlier.

– David Roberts “The question of what Donald Trump ‘really believes’ has no answer

October 10

If we’re worried about the longer-term implications of current policies, the buildup of greenhouse gases is a much bigger deal than the accumulation of low-interest debt. It’s bizarre to talk about the latter but not the former.

– Paul Krugman “What About the Planet?” (10-7-2016)

October 17

Georgie Porgie, puddin’ and pie
Kissed the girls and made them cry.

nursery rhyme

October 24

Leave well enough alone.

re-election slogan of President McKinley (1900)

October 31

If one half of the people is bent on proving how wicked a man is and the other half is determined to show how good he is, neither half will think very much about the nation.

– Walter Lippmann, A Preface to Politics (1913)

November 7

Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

Winston Churchill (1947)

November 21

May you live in interesting times.

reputed to be a Chinese curse

November 28

America was, until this past generation, a white country, designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation. It is our inheritance. And it belongs to us.

– Richard Spencer, “Long Live the Emperor!” (11-21-2016)

December 5

If the president of the United States declares war on journalism, journalists are not obliged to just record his words and publish them. They are obliged to take a side – the side of freedom.

– Dan Gillmor, “Trump, Free Speech, and Why Journalists Must Be Activists
November, 2016

December 19

The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.

Garry Kasparov, Russian dissident and former world chess champion

The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.

Hannah Arendt

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