"This whole idea of certain people in the American system not paying federal income tax becomes a problem. People who hate to hear that will say, 'Dan, they pay FICA and they have all this stuff taken out of their paycheck...' That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about when the government decides to do something that relies on federal income taxes, there's a lot of people that don't pay that. I understand why. They're poor. I don't want to impress them financially, but it's important they have a stake in the system. Otherwise anything the government proposes is basically free to them. It's important to have the same restraint any of us would have if this was your home budget. Cost-to-benefit, right? Do I need this new heating system enough to justify the cost? If you're not paying into the federal government, if it's not affecting you financially, and if it might not raise the amount you have to send to Washington, then there is no downside. That's not good for the system."
"Dick Cheney got a book tour, folks. Donald Rumsfeld got a book tour. They didn't even get a hearing. Nobody even asked any questions. We didn't even look into the matter to decide if there was something that needed lookin into. I'm speechless. Who operates that way?
And for those of you who think this is just some democrat slammin republicans, when we get the next administration into office, if it's a republican, I damn well want them to go back and look at president Obama knockin off American citizens overseas on the word of some shady little memo that no one is allowed to see in the state department. Damn right I want you to. This isn't partisan, this is accountability."
"Sometimes things turn out better than a pessimist like I believe they will. But someone has to take the reins. I despise the idea of doing it myself. But I also don't want that wagon to go over the cliff without at least being able to say I made a dive for the reins before it did. It's something that we all need to ask ourselves some hard questions about. If not now, when? Every year we wait, it's only going to be harder and more daunting and more laughable that puny efforts of citizens will work. I feel as though I have waited long enough."
"People want to focus on the guns as the problem, but we have a culture in the U.S. where guns are ingrained and where they have been so for centuries. The use of them has seeped into us. It is the desire to use them that's different. To think the guns themselves are the problem we would have to believe that the Canadians, Europeans and others with lower homicide levels all would like to kill each other at our rates...they just lack the guns to make their wishes a reality. That's ridiculous."
"This is a very human trait. Once you dehumanize people and put them on the level of vermin, killing them, harming them, and mistreating them becomes so much easier and you see it over and over and over again. It's one of the common themes of the horrific nature of human history."
"The U.S. does not have a policy of striking nations that use weapons of mass destruction automatically. If we had such a policy, one would wonder where the policy has been before now. Because the reality of the policy is, if a nation use weapons of mass destruction, we write that down and we put it in a folder. And if we need to go after that nation for some other reason in the future, we'll pull out that little folder and say, ' Well look at the list of abuses that this regime has been involved in.'
I mean, one of the things we used as a justification to go after Saddam Hussein was his use of chemical weapons, especially against his own people. We just didn't bring up that he had done that a decade before. And, oh yeah, with our passive agreement to that."
"This has always happened. We just finished a show on the Spanish-American War era, and Teddy Roosevelt is trying to tell people in the U.S. Congress who keep bringing up The Constitution, 'That might have been fine in the age of sail, but we live in the age of steam now. And all of a sudden Europe isn't that far away. And these oceans aren't protecting us as much as they used to.'
We've been dealing with that pretty much since minute one. So I think you can make that argument, 'We're in the age of drones now.' Either they're timeless and they're human rights and you're born with them, or as soon as things get dangerous enough, they're gone."
"Let's recall that getting esteemed individuals and thinkers together to discuss ideas towards reform is how we got a Constitution written once upon a time. It's got a long and respected tradition and has been effective in the past. The key aspect to my effort is not to get the defenders of the status quo together (the George Wills or Thomas Friedmans or David Brooks types) but those who have already demonstrated that they understand that the status quo is a one-way trip off a historical cliff. There are a decent number of those non-status quo esteemed thinkers around, and if I could aid their efforts by bringing them together, I would sleep better at night thinking I had done something helpful and positive rather than just bitched about problems we all already realize are out there."