Notes from a High School Civics Class

In high school, John Braithwaite was one of my favorite teachers — a massive, jovial man of 300 plus pounds, probably in his mid-sixties, he taught AP Government, and under his tutelage I excelled on the 1998 exam. But mostly I remember sitting in his class jotting down whatever he said that struck me as funny. Yesterday I found the relevant notebook. It comprises all the notes I took in the class. What follows are direct quotes, taken from lectures.

— I know from my gut that some of you are gonna be in an economic wrestling match one day.

— Keynes said to spend like a drunken sailor all year long.

— Kennedy started to get lambasted by black leaders all over this country. They were there with the ever-loving knife in the teeth.

— Lyndon Johnson was a lot like Harry Truman, he told ‘em where to go and what to do.

— You guys hardly remember Jimmy Carter, do you?

— When Andrew Jackson was president, he walked out into the street and grabbed people by the arm, pulled ‘em into the White House, and appointed ‘em to anything and everything!

— I’m not ready to turn the judiciary over to a bunch of uninformed misfits.

— Harry Truman was a lot like George Patton: if he called you a son of a bitch, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

— These omnibus bills, there’s everything from guns to butter in ‘em.

— In Fountain Valley, I wrote 165 college recommendations in one day!

— Let me give you what Harry Truman said, and it’s as good a solution as any.

— Texas remains a singular place. If you don’t tie a horse up in a particular manner you can be shot. I checked up on it the other day.

— What’s the history of Bill Clinton’s administration? Sex and more sex.

— Harry Truman was a black and white kind of guy.

— Politics and the weather are not logical phenomena.

— Ladies, if you ever chose to block vote you could do anything you wanted, but you haven’t learned that lesson yet.

— I’m gonna feed you some prophetic information: Californians are initiative maniacs.

— The lawyers get ahold of their single, double, and triple negatives. It’s the worst kind of English. Why send them to English 101 if they’re just going to attend law school and unlearn it?

— The people I go to church with call me up and say, “Braithwaite, what are you going to vote on this, that and the other thing?” I could probably lead two or three hundred people by the nose on these initiatives.

— The California constitution is the laughingstock of America. It is exceeded only by Louisiana. I don’t think you could spit without breaking some law in California. You can’t tie a horse up in Sacramento except a certain way or you’ve committed a capital crime.

— People quote Jefferson as opposed to political parties, and that’s a bunch of crap.

— I lived in Chile for 6 months and the Chileans got apathetic. They woke up under the thumb of a Communist dictator who didn’t give a damn about democracy.

— Those fogie idiots who talked about getting rid of phonics…

— The last time a politician crossed me I sent him a postcard that said “you’re a jerk” for six months. I told him, “You’re a jerk, and I’m gonna hold you up for the rest of my mortal life as a liar that embodies the political crook.” And I have!

— They came home from World War II and there were a bunch of babies born, bang bang bang bang bang.

— My mother-in-law is from Kentucky. Need I say more?

— Senator Bird is a rare bird. And when people say his time in the KKK doesn’t matter I want to reach out and grab there faces like a grizzly bear, you know?

— Most of what you hear that Abraham Lincoln said is bullshit.

— I’ve gerrymandered my community college schedule so I can tutor you all.

— India had better realize that they should stop worrying about the starving cows in Calcutta and start shooting ‘em.

— West Virginia takes the temperature when race or religion is an issue.

— If you think you can talk these Wyoming cowboys out of carrying their pistols in their pickup cabs, you have delusions of grandeur the likes of which even the crazies in Fairview Hospital don’t have.

— I was against Medicare, and I would be the biggest jackass and hypocrite that ever walked the face of the earth if I took it.

There’s a few dozen more, and that’s basically all I wrote down.