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In best CSPAN call ever, Mom calls out politically-feuding sons

Hat tip to Florence Snyder for finding this gem, it came to me with her note “finally, some good news!”

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Mac vs. PC

Apparently, according to Farhad Manjoo in True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society, journalists live every day with the repercussions of the hostile media effect, where partisans view coverage through a lens that always sees it as unfair to their “side” and fail to notice aspects of the coverage that is favorable to their “side.”

It isn’t just politics that brings this out in us, it’s there with coverage of the world of Mac vs. PC. Alas, even operating systems have gone tribal. You’ve got the Apple devotees and then the people who just can’t stand the perceived snobbery of Apple devotees. David Pogue, who writes technology reviews for the New York Times, wrote a Vista review that brought out the worst in everyone.

According to Pogue: “The Mac people saw it as a rave review for Windows Vista and the Windows people saw it as a vicious slam on Windows.” Apparently Apple fans are consistently prickly about the slightest – well – slight. Over at the Wall Street Journal the technology reviewer Walt Mossberg even coined a term for this: “The Doctrine of Insufficient Adulation.” Read all »

Just pitiful.

From today’s New York Times, this pretty much captures the why of our AAA credit rating downgrade: “Democrats and Republicans both claimed to find validation for their policies in the decision by the ratings agency…”

Of course they did. Has anyone on Capitol Hill shown any ability whatsoever to absorb information that didn’t emanate directly from their caucus? It’s like they’re all half-deaf. Read all »

Chivalry (and civility): Possibly not dead yet?

Kudos to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) for putting it to a heckler at a Meg Whitman campaign event:

“We’re here talking about the future of the state of California and the future of our country. It’s people who raise their voices and yell and scream like you that are dividing this country. We’re here to bring this country together, not divide it.”

President Obama speaks to President Bush to mark the end of combat operations in Iraq; hopefully the conversation went better than the polarized commentary since

Obama in his presidential address Tuesday night:

“This afternoon I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one can doubt President Bush’s support for our troops or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I said, there were patriots who supported this war and patriots who opposed it. All of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and servicewomen and our hopes for Iraq’s future.”

“The greatness of our democracy is grounded in our ability to move beyond our differences, to learn from our experience as we confront the many challenges ahead.”

And as night follows day… Commentary from the left since the address were angry Obama would give Bush anything given what they see as the catastrophic nature of the decision to invade Iraq and the falsehoods that led to it. And from the right they accused him of having no class because he didn’t outright credit Bush for the surge (on Limbaugh the guest host said it was a “small speech by a small man”).

In this environment, it’s hard to know how anyone can lead us.


“Being neutral isn’t good enough anymore. You have to pick sides.” — Glenn Beck this week

Liz Joyner: Glass house you live in, meet stone in your hand


The recent passage of the healthcare bill in the Senate brought with it some need-to-take-a-bath-right-now details on how the legislative “sausage” was made. Now dubbed the “Louisiana Purchase” and the “Cornhusker Kickback” by conservative commentators, two Democratic Senators (Landrieu and Nelson) seemed to have snatched possible electoral defeat from the jaws of what initially probably looked to them as consummate legislative dealmaking victories.

Whether you’re on the left or right side of the aisle, there are real signs of good news in the general public’s negative reaction to Nelson and Landrieu’s actions, most wonderfully in their home states – the people who were supposed to be delighted at the booty the Senators had brought home. Good for them.*

You would have a hard, hard time finding .5% of the population who support this sort of legislative ugliness. We should probably take a moment to revel in something that is finally bipartisan.

Moment over. Hope you enjoyed it though.

Right now “we the people” are acutely aware of the apparent failure in moral standing of our elected representatives. Half of them anyway.

We seem to be only capable of perceiving moral failure in those we disagree with. The exact behaviors that we rail on endlessly about in our political enemies get a big yawn – or even an ovation – when they’re practiced by our political allies, if we even ever perceive they’ve occurred. If we bother to see the inconsistency, we usually use an uber-rationalization for it, such as the old standby that “we” stand for goodness and light, “they” are out to get you.

So while the right is having strokes over the bad behavior of Democratic Senators, the left is having strokes over nearly identical bad behavior of Republican Senators:

Last week, after nine months, the Senate finally approved Martha Johnson to head the General Services Administration, which runs government buildings and purchases supplies. It’s an essentially nonpolitical position, and nobody questioned Ms. Johnson’s qualifications: she was approved by a vote of 94 to 2. But Senator Christopher Bond, Republican of Missouri, had put a “hold” on her appointment to pressure the government into approving a building project in Kansas City.

This dubious achievement may have inspired Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama. In any case, Mr. Shelby has now placed a hold on all outstanding Obama administration nominations – about 70 high-level government positions – until his state gets a tanker contract and a counterterrorism center.

We have become a nation of people who so love the warm bubble bath of only ever perceiving things that make us feel good. And apparently hate, finger-pointing and lobbing stones from our own glass houses is really yummy feeling right now.

The tragedy here is that if we could only momentarily throw off our blinders, we’d see that we could change what none of us like by holding everyone to the same high standards. Elected officials can only play their hypocritical childish games as long as our nation is a playground full of children with no adults in sight.

It should be perfectly clear by now that we can’t wait around for our leaders to grow up. So we’d better go ahead and do it ourselves.

If we don’t like legislators holding out for home state payoffs, we’ve got to be equally offended when our “side” does it. On the day that we wake up to that reality, when the politicians hold their finger up in the wind, it will have shifted.

So often we whine that we have no power. The irony is that we have all of it.


*On a side note, there is some reporting that the Republican Governor of Nebraska asked Senator Nelson to strike this deal, who is now – in an utterly ridiculous irony – the opposition candidate who Nelson’s action has put him 31 percentage points behind in the polls.


Liz Joyner is the Executive Director of the Village Square. You can reach her at liz@tothevillagesquare.org

(Photo credit)

Sunday at the Square: We should be pillars of salt right about now.

angel annoyed

Anyone else out there about to have a stroke like I am observing the stunning hypocrisy demonstrated by partisans on both side of the aisle now that control of the government has flip-flopped? A few examples off the cuff:

1. Before they lost the White House, a good number of elected Republicans seemed to think our economic crisis had simply left us no choice but to spend more money than we’d like on bailing out failing financial institutions. Now, notsomuch.

2. Before Democrats took the White House, many seemed to think that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” including if it’s voiced overseas. Now – ask Mike Huckabee – they seem to understand that dissing the boss when you’re in another country isn’t so cool.

3. The crowd over at Fox News was pretty quiet while a Republican administration cast much of their activity under a divine mission but when Obama speaks to ministers by phone and says there’s been a “bearing of false witness” on health care, separation of church and state has a fresh new glow.

4. Before the Democrats controlled Congress, they complained regularly that Republicans forced bills to a floor vote before they could read them. Now they suddenly care so much less.

I could go on, but I’d be risking my health.

Are we really going to keep this up, holding others to a standard we have absolutely zero interest in striving for ourselves? Is it possible that the thing that is most wrong with us right now is we’ve turned the Golden Rule on its head: “Become furious when someone doesn’t do unto you as you have zero intention of ever doing unto them.” And it’s amazing how clear the other guy’s hypocrisy is to us while we’ve got some serious scales on our own eyes.

Are we – the people – really going to go along with these yahoos on this?

(Photo credit.)

Fire, meet gasoline.

gasoline can and pork rinds

Apparently some liberals don’t think some conservatives have already made town halls quite shrill enough. Apparently they like a little combustion with their decision-making:

The right-wing nuts who cry that ObamaCare is introducing euthanasia for the elderly and infirm, or that it is socialism, are ignorant wackos, to be sure, but they are right about one thing: Americans are about to be royally screwed on health care reform by the president and the Democratic Congress, just as they’ve been screwed by them on financial system “reform.”

The appropriate response to this screw-job is the one the right has adopted: shut these sham “town meetings” down, and run the sell-out politicians out of town on a rail, preferably coated in tar and feathers they way the snake-oil salesmen of old used to be handled!

This is not about civil discourse. This is about propaganda… The only proper response at this point is obstruction, and the more militant and boisterous that obstruction, the better.

(Photo credit. Got to like the pork rinds and beer bottle with the gasoline for a little color.)

Using the words that make you feel good

Thomas Jefferson doorstop

I promised commentary on the post two down on a Wall Street Journal piece about why America might just split up.

First, I have to confess that I give the piece good marks on a couple of points:

    1. It is civil. Forgiving the “King Obama” reference, on the whole, it is serious and thoughtful writing. By being (mostly) civil, it is light years ahead of the standard rant-fest.
    2. It gives due deference to the concept of governance closest to the people being the best governance. So fundamental is this belief to what we have built as Americans, I can’t help but like part of what he says.

But – borrowing from Mr. Shakespeare – “therein lies the rub.” I suspect that this too is what many movement conservatives – a la the tea parties – might find appealing about the secession movement… the surety that they are recapturing the real America, the Founders, the roots.

I too, as a middle-ish Democrat, love the roots. I revere the Founders in ways that defy mere words. But I think that in the political right’s stampede to give the Founders their due, they’re running right over them.

Chief among my concerns is that we have entirely stopped trying to communicate with each other. We’ve replaced this old fashioned concept with a self-stimulatory feedback loop of just how gosh darn right we are.

Last I knew, communication was the art of trying to make your perspective heard. (How quaint.)

Our Founders – if they believed nothing else – believed in the world of ideas, the world of knowledge. They stretched. They had to.

Our long tradition of a capacity to maintain connection despite straining disagreement, I believe, is what America has to offer this broken world of ours. That these 250 years later we’re still a nation speaks to the power of their legacy, the very legacy secessionists are ready to blow up in their determination to honor it?


Photo credit.

Could we puleeze have grown-up conversations?

Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker wrote about the hubbub around Rush Limbaugh this week. She thinks we should have been talking about something else, like – oh – how the heck you fix what’s broken:

Conservatives of both parties justly fear that too much of the stimulus package is aimed at non-stimulus programs. There’s plenty to criticize, but shouting socialism in a crowded panic room is laughable under the circumstances…