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Right now our bar for successful political discourse is a bit low

Lawrence O’Donnell on Hardball last week (emphasis added): “I think [Jon Stewart] has an important purpose [in having his rally]… That simple point he makes where he says “I disagree with you but I don’t think you’re Hitler” is a very welcome insertion in the noisy dialogue we have now where there is all this questioning of the motivation of other people labeling this person a monster and that person a monster, and there is so much fighting going on back and forth just by the use of the labels that don’t allow you to listen to what that person is actually saying. So by Jon Stewart saying and oh by the way I don’t think that you’re Hitler is a very important point and if you can get that out of the day, that there is a way to have disagreements with each other without calling each other names, that is a successful day.”

Morning Joe commentary: Keep calm and carry on

Village Square thumbs up to Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe for this dead-on commentary on civility. (Thumbs down to Morning Joe for not including it on the video clips, thereby requiring me to create a transcript…)

JOE: [NYC Mayor Michael] Bloomberg is going to be helping candidates who aren’t bound by rigid ideology and that’s the message we’ve been trying to emphasize here… what we try to do is encourage politicians and thought leaders and all Americans to follow the advice of an old British war poster and create a very simple message: Keep calm and carry on. That was the message that FDR delivered to a battered nation in the depths of the great depression when he declared to all Americans “All we have to fear is fear itself.” It was the message that Bobby Kennedy delivered to a shocked and embittered nation on the night that Martin Luther King was assassinated. And I really do believe that’s the message that Americans need to hear again today.

Because today our nation is confronting a new war and it’s a war of words. We’ve forgotten how to talk to each other. We’ve got political extremists who are dominating the airwaves and dominating the nation debate. And you know what the White House calls the professional left along with what we call the far right now profit from political hate speech that makes our political system weaker. And yet, isn’t it strange that our Washington politicians seem to obsess over those angry voices… instead of seeking out voices of people like you, rational Americans who show respect to their neighbors, who raise their families, who go to work and who play by the rules. It’s time for you, you quiet Americans to respond. Not with angry words or hateful commentaries or setting your hair on fire – calling a Republican president a fascist or a Democratic president a fascist but rather to respond with reasonable voices and a rational debate. Now we’re going to continue like we’ve done for 3 years to encourage viewers and guests to resist the pull of those people on the far right and professional left who seek division. Let’s keep focusing on the task at hand, ensuring that America’s best days lie ahead.

MIKA: What we’ll continue to do here is call out those who preach hate and we’ll continue to celebrate civility and promote open debate where all voices, voices on all sides are welcome. And as Joe and I tried to show you everyday, you can disagree without being disagreeable.

Restoring Sanity Rally Signage

One of the pre-made signs Jon Stewart is suggesting for his “Restoring Sanity” rally…

Happy Constitution Day

Quoting my friend Lea: “we the people”. not us and them. we are all the people who have to work together in order to form a more perfect union. happy constitution day.

To celebrate, I’m going to actually re-read it (and I might try to throw in the Bill of Rights).

Purple State of Mind: Jon Stewarts’ “Restoring Sanity”

Find the latest in Purple News HERE.

Fire seems to be our theme for the week: Chris Matthews on fire (too)

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Uncle Jay Explains: Incendiary

Play this video

Us vs. Them: Should it be about pluralism?

‘We have to get the “us” and the “them” right. The “us” are the people who believe in the American promise of pluralism. A country where George Washington said that it would give bigotry no sanction, persecution no assistance. A country in which one of our earliest presidents, Thomas Jefferson, reverently owned a Quran, hosted an Iftar dinner. America is a great arc of inclusiveness. It envelops everyone. I want my children to contribute to this country just like the children of my Jewish friends just like the children of my evangelical and Catholic friends. The “us” are the ones who believe in pluralism. The “them” are the ones who believe in extremism. It’s that simple.’

Eboo Patel on This Week with Christiane Amanpour

Lindsay Wells: One woman’s penny crusade is change you can count on

Our very own Lindsay Wells (she ran our events until she graduated from FSU Law School and moved back to Miami) exercising some good old American common sense in today’s Democrat:

One Saturday in August of 2009, I started an experiment.

Instead of going for my usual morning run, I had pestered my fiance into walking with me to the nearest Starbucks for breakfast. As we made our way down a busy local road to Starbucks, I realized that we were walking by numerous pennies and passing each one up without the slightest inclination to pick it up. After a mile and a half, we reached Starbucks and gladly handed over $7 for two regular small coffees without so much as batting an eyelash.

As we sat outside and enjoyed our morning coffee, it struck me as odd that I can spend almost $10 on what I can make on my own for a fraction of the price without so much as flinching, but I don’t even consider the loose change on the ground to be worthy of consideration. That was when I decided to do my experiment.

On the way back, instead of passing the pennies, I picked them up. By the time I reached home, I had collected seven cents. I was hooked. (Read the rest HERE.)


Editor’s note: Lindsay is the most organized person I know. Her penny campaign may just end up paying off the national debt.

Bob Schieffer on 9/11: Then and Now

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf interview

“There is growing Islamophobia in this country. How else would you describe the fact that mosques around the country are being attacked? We are Americans too. We are treated and talked about today as if Muslims are not Americans. We are Americans. We are doctors, we are investment bankers, we are taxi drivers, we are store keepers, we are lawyers. We are part of the fabric of America. And the way that America today treats its Muslims is being watched by over a billion Muslims worldwide. And the battleground today is not between Islam and the West, the battleground is between moderates of all faith traditions in all the countries of the world against the radicals of all faith traditions in all parts of the world.(emphasis added)

“…American Muslims are very happy and thrive in this country. One of the misperceptions that exists in the Muslim world which needs to be fixed is the perception that Muslims in America are living in very very bad circumstances. The fact is we are practicing. We fast, we pray. We are able to do that. Our laws protect us, our political system protects us and we enjoy those freedoms in this country. And the Muslim world needs to recognize that.”

–Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (the Imam behind the Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan) on This Week with Christiane Amanpour

(Photo credit: Vince Millett)

Maybe we should require each new class in Congress to watch this?

Thanks to Luke for pointing us to the video. If you want to cut to the singing, it’s at 4:30.

blog it all by lea marshall: september 11th

Editor’s note: In case you are one who feels inclined to judge all of Christianity as Dove Outreach Ministries in Gainesville has judged all of Islam, meet my dear friend Lea and her spectacular friend Claire. Lea and Claire are participating tomorrow in what our summer dinner speaker Stephen Kiernan calls Authentic Patriotism. Authentic Patriotism often happens without a lot of fanfare, certainly without network news coverage, but make no mistake that it is there. I cannot imagine a better way to mark the 9th anniversary of the devastating events of September 11th and the higher angels of Americans in response. And as whatever happens in Gainesville tomorrow happens in Gainesville, think Lea and Claire. I will be. (Find Lea’s fabulous blog online HERE.)

oh yes, one floridian’s plans for september 11th have gotten a lot of press coverage lately. and i am not going to add to that insanity by linking to any of it.

because in my never humble opinion, the problem with that “christian’s” plans for september the 11th is that it is way too easy.

because he plans to burn.

burning is easy. isn’t it? light a match. put it next to something flammable and VOILA, fire. really, we have been doing it for thousands of years. even the youngest boy scouts learn how to set a fire. then they learn what the results of that fire are… because something winds up in ashes. and if the wind catches it just right, lots more things than you ever intended wind up in ashes.

so what will i, also a “christian”, be doing tomorrow? something harder than burning. i will be building. the same kindling that burns is also used to build. the same Bible that he reads tells me to use my faith to build.

so i will be doing the buddy walk for the down syndrome association of tallahassee. and i will link to that event.

you see our friends and neighbors, the tomans, have a daughter, claire (pictured above), with down syndrome. and claire rides to school with us everyday. she loves me in a way that far surpasses the way anyone other than Jesus has ever loved me. she thinks i am a rock star because i sing a song to her every morning with the day of the week in it. it isn’t a really clever song and i don’t sing it that well but she cheers for it so loudly that at times i feel like justin beiber must feel.

so tomorrow morning we walk in the buddy walk to build relationships with our neighbors. we walk to build a bridge of understanding, of community, of education, of support for those who know and love people with down syndrome. i walk because i want tomorrow to be a day of hope. a day when the sound of laughter is louder than the sound of burning timbers.

why build? it is harder. it requires getting up early on a saturday. of getting sweaty through working and walking and talking. it takes WAY more time than burning. and WAY more energy. and the results… well, not as quick as burning. not as certain.

how do i know?

well, i have burned way too many things in my life. i have taken the easy route and just burned things up with my words, my actions, my revenge, my selfishness, my need to be RIGHT and HEARD and do it MY WAY. i have seen the collateral damage. i have felt the flames and they have even turned and burned me and scarred me even when i thought i was doing something to make someone else hurt and feel the pain. i have smelled the smoke in my hair and in my clothes. i have singed my nostrils and burned off my eyebrows. i have been downright pyromaniacal. and it was easy. fast. certain. resolute.

oh yes, i know how to burn.

so on september 11th, i will choose to build. in such a small small way that i wonder if anyone will ever see any results from it. but i choose the joy of hard work. the joy of walking hand in hand with friends, family, and strangers. the building of one brick at a time. one log. one board. one nail. one window. one door.

do i write all this because i think i am “better” than that other floridian. nope. just worried for him. worried that this might singe his eyebrows off before it is all said and done. worried because i know that pyromania is addictive and fire spreads.

perhaps i am a bit wiser. i have been shown a “better way”. by someone who liked to build. because He is a Carpenter. you should see what he can do with two boards and some nails (yeah, that one might have been over the top). but He might just be able to tell us a thing or two about how to build…