Quotes by Twain, Moyers, Stein, Powell, Hanson, Barnes, Karzai, et al.

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Jan 20, 2005 12:00 AM

Random quotes about items currently in the news. . . .

Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, at his inauguration: "Our principal promises are concerning the strengthening of the security sector and ensuring lasting stability throughout the country; the elimination of poppy cultivation and the fight against processing and trafficking of drugs; the disarmament and demobilization of former combatants; the eradication of poverty; . . . the rule of law, and the protection of civil liberties and human rights."

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Walid Tabtabai, a member of the Kuwaiti parliament, in a newspaper column about the Sumatra tsunami as a message of God's wrath at injustice, immorality and wanton behavior: "We (Muslims) believe that what occurs in terms of disasters and afflictions is a test for believers and punishment for the unjust."

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Historian and columnist Victor Davis Hanson, on the U.S. and the U.N.: "Americans' once gushy support for the U.N. during its adolescence is gone. By the 1970s we accepted at best that it had devolved into a neutral organization in its approach to the West, and by the 1980s sighed that it was now unabashedly hostile to freedom. But in our odyssey from encouragement to skepticism, and then to hostility, we have now reached the final stage - of indifference. Americans do not get riled easily, so the U.N. will go out with a whimper rather than a bang. Indeed, millions have already shrugged, tuned out and turned the channel on it."

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New York Times reporter Michael Janofsky, in an article about a Center for Public Integrity report on the effect of "527" political advocacy groups in the presidential election: "As a leading pro-Bush force, the group (Swift Boat Veterans for Truth) . . . spent $22.4 million, the report said, a total that exceeded by $1.2 million one of Mr. Bush's greatest tormentors, the MoveOn.org Voter Fund, a 527 that made enormous use of the Internet to attract a lot of small donations. . . . 'In terms of political impact,' (said Public Integrity's founder and executive director), 'the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads were easily the most successful amid the overwhelming din of paid propaganda throughout the year.'"

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Columnist and Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes, on the "gender gap": "Since 1996, the gender gap- the difference between the male vote for Republicans and the female vote for Democrats - has shrunk. President Clinton won women by 16 percentage points in 1996. Al Gore won by 11 points in 2000. But John Kerry's edge in 2004 was a mere 3 points. And among white women without a college education, a poll by Democracy Corps found Mr. Kerry trailing Mr. Bush by 23 points."

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Mark Twain: "There is no distinctly American criminal class - except Congress."

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Ronald Reagan: "I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress."

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Colin Powell, addressing Europeans in Brussels, in his last round of NATO meetings as secretary of state: "We need to have the courage to seek fundamental change and not be satisfied with just managing or containing threats." And: "When it comes time to perform a mission, it seems to us to be quite awkward for (a continental European staff or organization) suddenly . . . to say, 'I'm unable to go because of this national caveat or national exception.' You are hurting the credibility and the cohesion of (the group)."

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Recently retired commentator television commentator Bill Moyers, during a Feb. 28, 2003, broadcast of his PBS show "Now": "I decided to put on my flag pin tonight - first time. Until now I haven't thought it necessary to display a little metallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see. . . . I put it on to take it back. The flag's been hijacked and turned into a logo - the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. . . . I put it on to remind myself that not every patriot thinks we should do to the people of Baghdad what bin Laden did to us."

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Actor Chevy Chase, at a Hollywood awards ceremony for the leftist People for the American Way, on President Bush: "This guy in office is an uneducated, real lying schmuck . . . and we still couldn't beat him with a bore like Kerry."

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Ben Stein, on why he is giving up his biweekly column "Monday Night at Morton's" about celebrities and movie stars: "I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. . . . The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV, but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists. We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die."

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Stein, continuing: "I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values and I don't want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who is eating at Morton's is a big subject. There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament - the policemen and -women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive; the orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery; the teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children; and the kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards."