Quotations about public questions -- culled from recent reading....
Lech Walesa, Solidarity founder and Polish champion of liberty -- in a Chicago speech: "Today (the United States) leads the world. Nobody has doubts about it militarily. They also lead economically, but they're getting weak. But they don't lead morally and politically anymore. The world has no leadership. The United States was always the last resort and hope for all other nations. There was the hope, whenever something was going wrong, one could count on the United States. Today, we (have) lost that hope."
Ben Stein -- writer, actor, economist and lawyer: "These are perilous times. Mrs. Hillary Clinton, our secretary of state, has given Iran the go-ahead to have nuclear weapons, an unqualified betrayal of the nation. Now we face a devastating loss of freedom at home in health care. It will be joined by controls on our lives to 'protect us' from global warming, itself largely a fraud if believed to be caused by man. Mr. Obama knows Americans are getting wise and will stop him if he delays at all in taking away our freedoms. There is his urgency and our opportunity. Once freedom is lost, America is lost. Wake up, beloved America."
Stephen Green, chairman of London's HSBC bank: "The fundamental aspect of globalization is urbanization, which is spreading everywhere. There isn't a single country in the world that isn't getting more and more urbanized, even the ones that are already quite urbanized, like (Britain) and America. Last year was the year when we crossed the point where more than half the world's population is in big cities. By 2050 it will be 80 percent of people who live in cities."
The 2011 Obama budget, now before Congress: "Household net worth fell from the third quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of 2009 by $17.5 trillion or 26.5 percent, which is equivalent to more than one year's GDP."
Investor's Business Daily: "Based on new estimates, we've lost 8.4 million jobs since the start of the recession, more than 4 million last year alone. If we averaged 200,000 new jobs a month, it would take more than eight years to get back to even, after factoring in work-force growth."
Mike Pence, Republican Congressman from Indiana, at a Republican retreat with President Obama: "Your administration . . . told us that we'd have to borrow more than $700 billion to pay for a so-called stimulus bill . . . or unemployment would go to 8 percent. Well, unemployment is (9.5) percent. . . . Now, Republicans offered a stimulus bill at the same time. Cost half as much as the Democratic proposal in Congress. And, using your economic analysts' model, it would have created twice the jobs at half the cost. It essentially was across-the-board tax relief, Mr. President."
Richard Ravitch, lieutenant governor of New York: "We (states) know only that (any economic recovery) will not spare the states the necessity of making acutely painful fiscal choices. New York and other states face draconian cuts in public services, higher taxes, or, more likely, a combination of both. . . . The strings on federal stimulus money prevent states from substituting federal money for state funds, require states to spend minimum amounts of their own funds, and prevent states from tightening eligibility standards for benefits. . . . The net result is this: The federal stimulus has led states to increase overall spending in core areas, which in effect has only raised the height of the cliff from which state spending will fall if stimulus funds evaporate."
Geert Wilders, chairman of the Netherlands' Party for Freedom: "All throughout Europe, a new reality is rising: entire Muslim neighborhoods where very few indigenous people reside or are even seen. And if they are, they might regret it. This goes for the police as well. It's the world of headscarves, where women walk around in figureless tents, with baby strollers and a group of children. Their husbands -- or slaveholders, if you prefer -- walk three steps ahead. With mosques on many street corners. . . . These are Muslim ghettos controlled by religious fanatics. These Muslim neighborhoods . . . are mushrooming in every city across Europe.These are the building blocks for territorial control of increasingly larger portions of Europe, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, city by city."
Ralph Peters, New York Post columnist and author of "The War After Armageddon": "It is a (literally) bloody disgrace that our ragtag enemies innovate faster and more effectively than our armed forces and the legion of overpaid contractors behind them. They ask themselves, 'What works?' We ask ourselves what the lawyers will say."
Calvin Coolidge, former president: "The spiritual nature of men has a power of its own that is manifest in every great emergency from Runnymede to Marston Moor, from the Declaration of Independence to the abolition of slavery."
Alexander Fraser Tytler, Scottish lawyer and writer, in 1770: "A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy."