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"The people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself. Thus, they would rather the institution 'fail' while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to "succeed" if that requires them to lose power within the institution."
Jonathan Schwartz, "Iron Law of Institutions"

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    Comic Books 
"You want to confront evil? Then get us the @#!* % to the U.N.—NOW! You saw Superman! You saw an anger that could twist steel! If what happens next happens the only way it can... And you let it... that is evil."
Pastor Norman McCay to The Spectre, realizing the need to calm down Superman's Unstoppable Rage, Kingdom Come

    Film — Live-Action 
"There are no Nazis in Germany, didn't you know that? The Eskimos invaded Germany and took over, that’s how all those terrible things happened. It wasn’t a fault of the Germans, it was the fault of those damned Eskimos."
Col. Lawson, Judgment at Nuremberg

[Reading a copy of TIME] "Sir Robert Thompson, who led the victory over Communist guerrillas in Malaya, is now a RAND Corporation consultant recently returned to Vietnam to sound out the situation for President Nixon. He told the president last week that things 'felt much better and smelled much better over there.'" How do they smell to you, soldier?"
Col. Walter E. Kurtz, Apocalypse Now (Redux)

Anchor: Why do you think the city has been so slow to acknowledge this national emergency?
Ned Weeks: You're implying the city has acknowledged it's a national emergency. It has not.
Anchor: Why do you think that is?
Weeks: Because the Mayor's gay and he's scared shitless out of his panties that it's not gonna blow over.

King Arnulf: Now, I know what some of you must be thinking... the day has come.... we're all going down, etc. etc. But let's get away from the fantasy and look at the facts. Fact One - The threat of total destruction has kept the peace for one thousand years. Fact Two - The chances of it failing now are therefore one in three hundred and sixty-five thousand. Fact Three..."
(By this time the water is up to people's knees, and several have crowded onto the lower steps to avoid getting wet.)

Commander Murdock: Lieutenant, how would you handle this?
Lieutenant Pervis: We could try ignoring it, sir.
Commander Murdock: I see... Pretend nothing has happened and hope everything turns out alright in the morning.

    Literature 
"If Snape gets hold of the Stone, Voldemort's coming back! Haven't you heard what it was like when he was trying to take over? There won't be any Hogwarts to get expelled from! He'll flatten it, or turn it into a school for the Dark Arts! Losing points doesn't matter anymore, can't you see? D'you think he'll leave you and your families alone if Gryffindor wins the house cup?"

"Instead of adapting, their leaders clung to power and strove instead to be the last ones to starve to death. The Mayan civilization in South America did the same, and I expect our own civilization will do likewise."
Daniel Suarez, Freedom™

    Live-Action TV 
"There ain't nothing you fear more than a bad headline, is there? You'd rather live in shit than let the world see you work a shovel."
Daniels to Deputy Burrell, The Wire

"Three years. For three years, I warned you this day was coming, but you would not listen. Pride, you said; presumption. And now the Shadows are on the move. The Centauri and the younger worlds are at war; the Narns have fallen; even the humans are fighting one another! The pride was yours; the presumption was yours. For a thousand years, we have been awaiting for fulfilment of prophecy, and when it finally happens, you scorn it, you reject it, because you no longer believe it yourselves. 'We stand between the candle and the star, between the darkness and the light.' You say the words, but your hearts are empty, your ears closed to the truth. You stand for nothing but your own petty interests. 'The problems of others are not our concern.' I do not blame you for standing silent in your shame. You, who knew what was coming, but refused to take up the burden of this war. If the Warrior Caste will not fight, then the rest of us will. If the Council has lost its way, if it will not lead, if we have abandoned our covenant with Valen, then the Council should be broken... as was prophesied."
Delenn, Babylon 5, "Severed Dreams"

Lethke: The other League Worlds are worried about your decision to attack Z'Ha'Dum. They believe that in doing so, you will only provoke a deadly response.
Delenn: The response is coming either way. The Shadows will strike again soon. We have nothing more to lose.
Lethke: Unfortunately, people never believe they have nothing more to lose until they've already lost it.

"The official position of the State is that a global nuclear catastrophe is not possible in the Soviet Union. They told the Germans that the highest detected level of radiation was 2000 roentgennote . They gave them the propaganda number. That robot was never going to work."
Boris Shcherbina, Chernobyl

Bernard : What if the Prime Minister insists we help them?
Sir Humphrey: Then we follow the Four Stage Strategy.
Bernard: What's that?
Sir Richard: Standard Foreign Office response in a time of crisis. In Stage One we say nothing is going to happen.
Sir Humphrey: Stage Two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
Sir Richard: In Stage Three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we can do.
Sir Humphrey: Stage Four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it's too late now.
Yes, Prime Minister, "A Victory For Democracy"

    Music 
"It's the economy, it's really bad, na na na
What do they want of me? I'm really mad, na na na
Let them eat pizza, let them eat cake
Na na na na na na na na na"
Lio, "Marie Antoinette"
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    Theatre 
"You and your Pennsylvania proprietors! Oh, you cool, considerate men! You hang to the rear on every issue so that if we should go so under, you'll still remain afloat!"

    Video Games 
Take a walk, Andrew. It is raining in Rapture... and you have simply chosen not to notice.
Sofia Lamb to Andrew Ryan, Bioshock 2

Veronica: The things I've seen now - other groups succeeding where we fail. It's not too late for us.
Elder McNamara: We've outlasted the end of the world. We'll outlast these upstarts.
Veronica: Waiting in a hole for everyone to die.
Elder McNamara: If we must.
Veronica: This is a dead end for us.
Elder McNamara: I see no evidence of that. Nor do I see anyone out there with a solution to our problems.
Veronica: How could you? You're too scared to look.

"I think CEDA should have been telling us to do more than wash our hands."
Rochelle, Left 4 Dead 2

    Web Original 
"Surely a decision of such existential import rests solely on the shoulders of an all-knowing, all-seeing god, which I certainly can’t in good conscience pretend to be. Furthermore, can it even be stated that I—or any being subject to divine decree—actually possess the free will to impel myself from this chair and rescue another, or are all such outcomes preordained by the stars themselves?' At press time, Dunphy was saved from the burden of choice by a mid-afternoon shift change."

Well, well, well, now we come to the crux of it. What really upsets Bobo and is giving him the night terrors. The knowledge that the Depression economy is not just hitting hard on the recent graduate liberal scum what with their new genders and hippity hop, but also good decent hard-working trust fund babies who think waving an Ayn Rand book around and liking Ron Paul makes one an intellectual."
Cerberus, "But Nobody Bleeds For the Hack Writer"

''"We are the perfect team for Washington DC, since we spend wildly ludicrous sums of money on flashy things while ignoring the long-term structural issues that will eventually cripple us. The only difference is that America gets to hold Presidential elections every four years.

Ben Bernanke’s entire career was 'how do we make sure the rich don’t lose their money so that FDR doesn’t happen.' He was chosen to be the Fed Chairman precisely to ensure that the next Great Crash, which everyone who wasn’t an idiot knew was coming, wouldn’t wipe out the rich."''
Ian Welsh, "The Age of the Obvious"

"Why are you still on Martha's Vineyard?! Missouri is BURNING. Putin is conquering Europe. The CDC is playing nude Twister with Ebola patients. U2 is forcing bad songs on everyone. The NSA won't stop watching me masturbate. I need you ON THIS. Are you even president anymore? When Obama got blasted for golfing shortly after ISIS beheaded journalist James Foley, he said, 'I should've anticipated the optics.' How do you win the presidency without knowing that golfing makes you look rich and indifferent?"
Drew Magary, "The 20 Least Influential People of 2014"

"And just like most elected officials, they come into the problem too late, do absolutely nothing to solve it, and yet somehow, they take all the credit when it finally works out. You elected 'em, folks!"

    Western Animation 
"Don't quote me regulations! I co-chaired the committee to review the recommendation to change the color of the booklet that regulation's in. We kept it gray!"
Bureaucrat 1.0, Futurama

    Real Life 
"Sire, we are dancing on a volcano."
Tallyrand to Louis Philippe XVI at a royal ball, just prior to The French Revolution.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
Upton Sinclair

"Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing."
John Stuart Mill

"Great ages and great individuals have arisen from the breakdown of a rigid system: the rigid system has given the necessary discipline and coherence, while its breakdown has released the necessary energy...No doubt the ideal is a certain rigidity of action plus a certain plasticity of thought, but this is difficult to achieve in practice except during brief transitional periods."
Bertrand Russell, Why Men Fight

"What this country needs is a great poem."
Herbert Hoover offers a solution to The Great Depression

"My good friends, this is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."
Neville Chamberlain, former Trope Namer

"In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late."
Martin Luther King Jr. on the long arc of history

"This whole subprime mortgage mess is just an excuse for the gunslingers and river boat gamblers on Wall Street to use their tricks to move markets and make money... You can panic if you enjoy being panicky. But this will all blow over and the people who buy now, in due time, will be glad they did."

"While I’m delighted that Star Trek is finally doing a show about AIDS, they should have done it in 1987, when it could have had a much greater impact. I think if the episode had been made, and if a plea for blood donors had been attached to the end of it as I had hoped, we could have ended the Red Cross’ chronic blood shortages."
— Scriptwriter David Gerrold on Star Trek: Enterprise, "Stigma"

"Look at automobile companies. They're now going into decline, maybe terminal decline, in the United States. They knew about what was happening decades ago and didn't prepare for it because they're interested in short-term profit and market share. They knew that huge, over-powered, heavy vehicles weren't going to last because of the energy crisis, pollution, and congestion, but they could make short-term profits. In the long term, they're being pushed out of business... thinking ahead is not a characteristic of power centers, so-called statesmen, corporate executives. They have short-term gains that they're pursuing."
Noam Chomsky in 2007
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