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Campaign 1800’s: Hermaphrodite raised on hoe-cakes

A footnote: I love this video but they join the “War on Context” with the snarky “try cracking a history book” at the end as – while they are exactly correct that foul things have been said in the name of campaigning through history, they get a Village Square rap on the knuckles for doing some major cherry picking.
First of all, we should note that the Jefferson and Adams campaign was ultimately the first election in human history with a peaceful transition of power from one party/group of people to another… let’s just say given the unique feat they were undertaking, it’s not that hard to imagine that tensions ran high. The standard way to handle it up until then was with bayonettes.   Read all »

My Purple Post: Cheapest Shot of the Campaign Season? You decide.">My Purple Post: Cheapest Shot of the Campaign Season? You decide.

Hop on over to our friends at Purple State of Mind to review your choices.

According to Luke: Clowns & Jokers

The current environment of American politics reminds me of that old Stealers Wheel song: “Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, here I am, Stuck in the middle with you.” You might think it more apt to replace Clowns with Liberals and Jokers with Tea Party, but I think the Stealers Wheel version is probably pretty accurate.

As for the Clowns, they thought their messiah had come down from the mount to save America and the Democratic Party. What they got was a pragmatic leader who bit off more than he could chew and has been more cautious than Joe Biden around a hot mike.

The Jokers, disillusioned by the enormity of their defeats the past two election cycles, are on a power craze. Their “Pledge to America” is a big IOU wrapped in the American flag topped with apple pie and good moral values, like the ones possessed by Senator John Ensign, former Governor Mark Sanford, and the grand master himself, Newt Gingrich. Read all »

Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad ad

Hard to imagine an ad much worse than the one Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate is running against Republican Rand Paul (below). Paul’s response ad (still looking for it online) didn’t beat it but gave it a run for it’s money. Eww, just ewwww.

2010 Gutter Awards: Don’t vote for the puppy killer, really?

This ad is hard to watch on a multitude of levels. We love our puppies so it’s painful to hear them squeal. But unless this Illinois Republican Senator is a uniquely horrible human being who honestly loves hurting cute fuzzy pets, this is just low, low low. Politifact rates it half-true on the legislation, but the inference is unbelievably unfair. For this, we give his opponent Democratic Governor Pat Quinn (because candidates need to be ultimately responsible for their ads) a Rap on the Knuckles (and our first Gutter Award). Here you go Governor Quinn:


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

Mary Ann Lindley: Moderating “the instant gratification of spouting off”

Just in case you missed it, in yesterday’s Tallahassee Democrat, Mary Ann Lindley wrote that ten Gannett papers will begin screening article comments on July 1. Dear God, thank you.

On the quality of the posted comments, Lindley says: “Today anger is ubiquitous. Like potatoes, angry talk is plentiful and cheap.”

I’ll say.

At the speed of light, the shock troops proved Mary Ann’s point not only directly underneath her editorial in their copious screeds about how this is censorship of political thought and Mary Ann is a commie, but in another article in the very same edition of the Democrat as they commented on a Father’s Day story about a dad who changed his life after his wife’s death to spend time with his twin boys.

I have long since learned to not read posts after articles that involve The Village Square (although it is sort of rich to see the rank incivility after an article on civil discourse). But this article is about a family possibly uninitiated to the comment pollution, who probably felt a bit of a wind in their sails from the wonderful Father’s Day piece only to then read tripe like this (screen names VERY intentionally left in, I only wish I could give you their real names):

tallyisracist: “This man did EXACTLY what he was suppose to do as a father, he brought them into the world and it is HIS responsibility to take care of them. He shouldn’t get any special thanks for doing the job of a parent. This is a NO BIG DEAL story. He had wealth that afforded him the ability to quit his job…YEAH GREAT SACRIFICE. He didn’t do anything GRAND, he did his job and people are praising him for it…PATHETIC.”

tallyisracist: “At least he doesn’t have five kids with five different mothers all on welfare and living in section 8 housing, and yet can still drive an Escalade with 22″ rims that cost a fortune. Now that’s pathetic.”

Stupido: “Another example of the sissyfication and feminization of the male gender in America. Men should go to work not stay at home and play house wife!”

Kabubba: “What is PATHETIC is praising a rich WHITE man for taking care of HIS children.”

THE_SPIDER: “I fell asleep reading this story, which is the typical ‘kitten up a tree’ news so often found in the Tallahassee Democrat. You should have stuck it in lifestyle on page three. YAWN!”

In addition to the family, I feel for the poor editors who are now signing on to deal with this crew 24/7 (think about if your job were actually reading this hoo-hah, you couldn’t pay me enough and they should feature you on “America’s Dirtiest Jobs”). And earth to foul posters: Do you think you’ve actually ever convinced anyone of the merits of your thinking? This is the best thing that could possibly happen to the political argument you think you’re making… now you either have to make it like a grown-up your shush up.

I believe your mothers would approve.

(Please meet our Priest and Nun duo in the photo above who administer our We the Wiki – which is coming soon – Rap on the Knuckles for similar bad behavior among blog posters and public officials alike.)

Oklahoma City: What chair have you chosen?

On this fifteenth anniversary of the tragedy in Oklahoma City, as we are forced to consider what is worst in us, I am sure we can summon what is best.

But first we’ll have to meet the worst with eyes wide open.

There is every indication that the same anti-government fury that fueled Timothy McVeigh is on the rise. This time, though, it’s a reflection of shifts in the wider society we find ourselves in, where the extreme voices are leading the discussion and internet and TV fan little grass fires that are popping up. If there is another Oklahoma City, our national leaders, the media and maybe even you and I bear some of the responsibility.

Former President Clinton spoke about this last week, stressing that the words we use matter: “There is a vast echo chamber and [the words we’ve chosen to use] go across space and they fall on the serious and delirious alike.”

The delirious, you know the ones who would repeat Oklahoma City.

And on our part: The little cheats we make daily – the times when we go with the easy way, pile onto the anger and hate with a little guilty pleasure – stoke the partisan fury. Our private television habits speak loudly and publicly that we’re not so interested in hearing the other side, as CNN can attest to if they can attest to anything as their ratings circle the drain. We are fueling television networks and publications that strike matches amid all the tinder.

Yet it is ultimately only the average citizen who can work to dry up the market for fury. But we’re too busy having it our way to notice our power and our responsibility. We’ve become a nation taking the easy way when there is only one way out and it’s the hard way.

We have so much influence with people on our side of the aisle if we can fix our loyalty to the highest calling. They will hear us. We even have influence with people on our side of the street. And if we venture out to cross the street, everyone can be on our side of it. We can inspire if we step forward to live up the who we say we are and who we want to be.

Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Kathleen Parker writes about how we can walk this back in the Washington Post:

The only palatable answer is what conservatives say they love best: self-control and personal responsibility. When someone spews obscenities, shout them down. When politicians and pundits use inflammatory language, condemn them.

When you choose to remain silent, consider yourself complicit in whatever transpires.

Ultimately when will each make private decisions about where we chose to sit. Where are you?

Part 2 in this Friday’s Purple Post: Why factual accuracy in the media isn’t a small thing, it’s everything.

(Photo credit.)

What do Glenn Beck and Abbie Hoffman have in common?

Could be more than you think.

One of the perks of this job is that people are always sending me links to intelligent authors conveying big ideas. Here’s one from last week I didn’t quite get up on the blog… The New York Times’ David Brooks comparing the Tea Party movement to the counterculture movement of the 1960’s:

…both the New Left and the Tea Party movement are radically anticonservative. Conservatism is built on the idea of original sin – on the assumption of human fallibility and uncertainty. To remedy our fallen condition, conservatives believe in civilization – in social structures, permanent institutions and just authorities, which embody the accumulated wisdom of the ages and structure individual longings.

That idea was rejected in the 1960s by people who put their faith in unrestrained passion and zealotry. The New Left then, like the Tea Partiers now, had a legitimate point about the failure of the ruling class. But they ruined it through their own imprudence, self-righteousness and naive radicalism…

Brooks cites a piece by Michael Lind in Salon comparing Glenn Beck to Abbie Hoffman. Lind contrasts a counter-establishment with a counter-culture:

A counter-establishment publishes policy papers and holds conferences and its members endure their exile in think tanks and universities. In contrast, a counterculture refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the rules of the game that it has lost. Instead of moving toward the center, the counterculture heads for the fringes. Like a cult, it creates its own parallel reality, seceding from a corrupt and wicked society into morally and politically pure enclaves.

It’s the building up of parallel realities – maybe more than anything – that is devastating our civic dialog and our ability to make good decisions. Take David Brooks. If you lean right and you immediately think RINO when you hear me cite Brooks, you should know that people I know on the left, would roll their eyes and say “puleeze” if I suggested he ever wrote anything left of “Heil Hitler.”

If a conservative centrist columnist looks like a brown shirt to half of us and a commie pinko to the rest, we may just have a bit of trouble brewing…

(Photo credit.)

What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas at all

A perfect expression of the stupidity in our politics:

“When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don’t go blow a bunch of money on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college. You prioritize.” —Obama at a town hall meeting

After Obama’s first Vegas jab, about a year ago, Mayor Oscar Goodman (D) demanded an apology, and Reid reassured everyone in a Senate floor speech that he had spoken with Rahm Emanuel about it, and that the comments were more about executives than Vegas…then Reid proceeded to trumpet low Vegas hotel rates in the Senate chamber.

Now, Goodman (who has since left the Democratic Party to become an independent) is all over Obama again, saying that “an apology won’t be acceptable this time…

“I want to assure you when he comes I will do everything I can to give him the boot back to Washington and to visit his failures back there,” Goodman said. Obama will reportedly campaign for Reid in Nevada this month.

Reid, meanwhile, stuck up for his home state, issuing a statement that he had asked the president to “lay off” Vegas.

(Photo credit.)

Me, me, me

Putting aside for a moment the debate about whether those charged with terrorism should be tried in a civil or military court, whether they should kept at Guantanamo or in an American prison, Gail Collins makes a strong case in today’s New York Times that the “cult of me” took the steering wheel in the decision making:

Last November, the Justice Department announced that the terror trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed would be held in Manhattan. Almost everyone in New York rallied around. This was seen as standing up to terrorism. “It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center, where so many New Yorkers were murdered,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Now everything’s flipped. The politicians are running for the hills, and the issue has been repackaged as standing up to traffic jams. “There are places that would be less expensive for the taxpayers and less disruptive,” said Bloomberg.

And the Justice Department is backing down. The trial will happen somewhere else. People in Lower Manhattan will breathe a sigh of relief.

But this feels very wrong.

The Bloomberg rebellion fits right into the sour, us-first mood that’s settled over the country. It’s part of the same impulse that caused Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska to decree that a historic overhaul of the country’s messed-up health care system was not going to happen unless his home state got a special exemption from sharing the costs.

Or the Not-in-My-Backyard uprising that followed President Obama’s attempt to move the Guantánamo prisoners into American maximum-security lockups. No matter how remote the prison, local politicians said that the danger was too great to bear. Both of Montana’s Democratic senators immediately decreed that their entire state was a no-go zone. Rudy Giuliani, who watched “in awe of our system” when terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted in a civilian court in Virginia, instantly attacked the plans for the Manhattan trial…

It’s all part of a cult of selfishness that decrees it’s fine to throw your body in front of any initiative, no matter how important, if resistance looks more profitable.

Isn’t the America we value one where we are willing to work hard and sacrifice something for a higher purpose than ourselves?

Are we still that country?

That’s only because he hasn’t funded a Village Square in every city (yet)

“On the heels of our victory over a year ago, there were some who suggested that somehow we had entered into a post-racial America. All those problems would be solved. There were those who argued that because I had spoke of a need for unity in this country that our nation was somehow entering into a period of post-partisanship. That didn’t work out… so well… “-President Barack Obama

Tit for tat on the seesaw of incivility

I’m watching Countdown, Lawrence O’Donnell subbing for Olbermann, and I’ve decided I’m giving two Village Square raps on the knuckles:

Rap #1. Rudy Guilianni who managed to utterly defy – uh – reality in suggesting that no terrorist attacks akin to the underwear bomber and Ft. Hood occurred on American soil during the Bush administration (they did). It would be an entirely different thing if Rudy argued the differences in philosophy, but it is hoohah that we can draw wide conclusions on success of policy based on comparing incidences of terrorism in each administration at this juncture (especially if we can’t actually count).

Rap #2. Host Lawrence O’Donnell, in covering this story, for saying that Guilianni “now makes a living on the blood of 9/11 victims by pretending to be an expert.” These are escalating words that, once out of the ole mouth, can’t be undone. Shame on you.

Get ready for the other shoe. Sure as night follows day, it will drop. That’s how it goes with children on the playground. And then another shoe (and so on).