Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Lyndon Johnson”

Presidential Jabber – Roger Ingalls

The campaigning season is upon us and the air is abuzz with comedic babble. In this spirit, I’d like to share a few of my favorite political quotes; some witty and funny but others just ooze stupidity.

”You know nothing for sure…except the fact that you know nothing for sure.” —President John Kennedy

”If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?” —Abraham Lincoln

”Did you ever think that making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg? It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else.” —Lyndon Johnson

”My fellow Americans. I’m pleased to announce that I’ve signed legislation outlawing the Soviet Union. We begin bombing in five minutes.”—Ronald Reagan

”I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.” —Ronald Reagan

”Once you leave the womb, conservatives don’t care about you until you reach military age. Then you’re just what they’re looking for.” —George Carlin

”Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.”—Groucho Marx

”My esteem in this country has gone up substantially. It is very nice now when people wave at me, they use all their fingers.”—President Jimmy Carter

”Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”—Ronald Reagan

”A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward.”—President Franklin Roosevelt

”Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.”—Will Rogers

”I love California, I practically grew up in Phoenix.”—Dan Quayle

”We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama Bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead.” —former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

”Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” —President George W. Bush

”We know there are known knowns: there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns: that is to say we know there are things we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” —Donald Rumsfeld

”Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?” —George W. Bush

There’s a million of them; we could go on for days. Let’s close this out with a quote by Mark Twain that accurately describes todays Senators and House of Representatives, ”Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

Creating Coalitions Pt. 2

Following on from Monday’s post, I have been summarizing Mark Bittman’s excellent article in the NYT. Mr. Bittman stresses the realization of “an oligarchy in this country, one that uses financial strength to gain political power, one that fights and bullies for its “right” to make money regardless of the consequences to the earth or anything on it.

Exxon will do all it can to prevent meaningful climate change legislation; Cargill and Pepsi will fight any improvement in agriculture or diet that threatens their profits; Bank of America would rather see homeowners go under than discuss changes in financial structures. And so on.”

Mass movements have begun to emerge as one method to break this ring of influence and the Occupy Bank Transfer Day is an outstanding example. To organize at both the personal and local level can have a resounding effect. 

The second focuses on voting. Very few Presidents, our present one might be an exception, initiate change. Again, Mr. Bittman: “Does anyone believe that Lyndon Johnson wanted to combat racism, or that Richard Nixon cared about American troops or Vietnamese citizens? No: they were forced, respectively, to support civil rights legislation and to begin ending the Vietnam War. Forced by masses of Americans marching, yelling, demonstrating, sitting in and more — Americans driven by their conscience, not by profits.”

This makes the organization and coordination of huge numbers of citizens absolutely critical. We need to identify politicians who are willing to shun corporate money and pressure in favor of reflecting the needs of their constituents. This is so much more difficult than taking several million dollars to support your campaign.

We can sit around and complain of the blatant undemocratic process of corporate sponsorship of politicians or we can focus on establishing a list of candidates that are true to their principles and will rely on mass support from the street. The alternative is to create our own big interest PACs, and this has its own scary elements to it.

A few weeks ago, I bemoaned the idea of ‘playing their game,’ but now I am not so sure that we can create a sustainable framework whereby politicians are elected and held accountable by their voters.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

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