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Next Tuesday the Gettysburg Address is 150… A wish that we might take “increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion”





The distribution of wealth in the United States (it will surprise you)





For those who serve



Thank you.



Chris Christie gets Village Square points: Part 2



On election eve:

"Let me tell you, if you’re looking for the candidate that you agree with 100% of the time, then I want you to do something for me tonight: Go home and look in the mirror, because that’s the only person you agree with 100% of the time. But sometimes we make political candidates feel like that’s what you want. Like you want us to agree with you 100% of the time or you won’t vote for us. You know what happens then? If you make politicians believe that, you know what they’ll do, they’ll just lie to you. They’ll just look you in the eye and they’ll say ‘hm, I wonder what she wants to hear."’..



Chris Christie gets Village Square points: Part 1



Part 2 comes tomorrow.

From last night’s New Jersey gubernatorial victory speech:

We still fight, we still yell. But when we fight, we fight for those things that really matter in people’s lives. And while we may not always agree, we show up everywhere. We just don’t show up in the places that vote for us a lot, we show up in the places that vote for us a little. We don’t just show up in the places where we’re comfortable, we show up in the places where we’re uncomfortable.



FairVote: Fixing Congress with Fair Representation Voting





Jeb on Hillary. Two old families feeling a little new right about now?



Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush shared a stage in September. Jeb Bush awarded Clinton the 2013 Liberty Metal (awarded by the National Constitution Center, which Bush chairs) at the event, honoring her commitment to civic engagement, particularly with women and girls. Apparently he took some grief for it, mortal enemies (rather than civic partners) that we’ve become. Here’s his comment at the time:

“While Secretary Clinton and I disagree on many issues, we certainly agree on the importance of civic engagement.”

This week former Governor Bush was interviewed by ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl about the experience:

Jonathan Karl: “What was that conversation like?”

Jeb Bush: “It was very friendly. Treating people fairly and with civility is not a bad thing. It would be good for our country if political leaders actually took that to heart.”



News Release: Village Square Launches New Season “The Asteroids Club”



VILLAGE SQUARE LAUNCHES NEW SEASON “THE ASTEROIDS CLUB”
Programs to examine six American “asteroids” that threaten our future

(TALLAHASSEE, FL) – October 8, 2013 – Imagine there is a giant asteroid heading to earth, expected to destroy life as we know it. We’d stop the incessant partisan bickering and do everything within our power to deflect the asteroid, right? Like in the movies?

During its 2013-14 Dinner at the Square season, The Village Square examines six American “asteroids” headed directly at us – each a problem that will only grow bigger and harder to “deflect” the longer we ignore it. Stuck inside our feuding partisan tribes, we’ve failed to find common cause against common threats – preferring instead to argue in the public debate about whose asteroid is real; all while the threats continue to build.

This year’s season of programming – which will also include a look at “asteroids” Florida must deal with – is a joint project of The Village Square and Dr. Jonathan Haidt of NYU’s Stern School of Business and author of “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.” The Village Square’s unique model of civic engagement continues to draw national attention, recently named by Senator Olympia Snowe as one of eight organizations in America seeking to grow political common ground (the only one hometown-based).

The first program of the season – “American Dream Lost?” – will be held on Tuesday, October 15, 5:30 to 7:30 pm at St. John’s Episcopal Church downtown. This discussion will take on the liberal “asteroid” of rising economic inequality and the conservative “asteroid” of breakdown of the family – both data-supported problems that are threatening to damage the fabric of American society. In a time of unparalleled creation of wealth, the spoils of the American dream are increasingly going to the top 1%. At the same time, the family has taken a hit – with 40% of births now occurring outside of marriage. These two trends are highly correlated and worth joint effort.

Panelists include Kay Hymowitz of New York City’s Manhattan Institute and author of “Marriage and Caste in America,” and Dr. Kathryn Tillman of the FSU Center for Demography and Population Health. Tallahassee City Commissioner Andrew Gillum and Richard Albertson of Live the Life, a faith-based organization devoted to strengthening marriages and families, will also join the conversation.

In association with this program, The Village Square and the United Way of the Big Bend are partnering to host “A Virtual Experience of Life on the Edge” on Tuesday, October 22, 5:30 to 7:30 pm at St. John’s Episcopal Church. This event is a unique, interactive activity that allows people to experience the day-to-day realities of those living in poverty and provides an opportunity for us to discuss how our community can work together to address the problem. Pre-register for this free event online at www.uwbb.org.

“The Asteroids Club” season will continue through the school year with other asteroids, including entitlement spending, climate change, money in politics and moral behavior. Season tickets are available through October 15. For more information, visit www.tothevillagesquare.org, call 590-6646 or email info@tothevillagesquare.org. A limited number of scholarship tickets is available. To learn more about the Asteroids Club project go to www.asteroidsclub.org.

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Starting today, keep an eye on the sky (the Air Force won’t be…)



Sequestration Asteroid From Fox News:

“The Air Force says it can no longer afford to scan the sky for extraterrestrial threats that could doom the planet, all because of the sequester cuts Washington forced on itself when it failed to rein in the exploding national deficit. Called the Air Force Space Surveillance System, it’s “critical” to defense, the Air Force has said. By October 1, they’ll have to pull the plug.”

Apparently the extraterrestrial threats include about 1,000 asteroids large enough to “potentially unleash global catastrophic devastation to the planet upon impact.”

Kind of a big deal, yes? this bit of asteroid news you probably shouldn’t expect much of a reaction from our elected officials. Last spring, when one asteroid actually did hit earth and one closely missed us on the same day, Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) asked NASA chief Charles Bolden what NASA would do if a large asteroid was expected to collide with earth in three weeks.

“The answer to you is, ‘if it’s coming in three weeks, pray.’ The reason I can’t do anything in the next three weeks is because for decades we have put it off.”

So break out the space suits, America, and give Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck a heads up. Looks like we’re on our own again.



Popular Science shuts down its comment thread (and why this is very important)



Science ExpressH/T to the smart people over at CivilPolitics for this news:

Today Popular Science announced it is shutting down blog comments on most articles on it’s website. The reason? Studies have shown that comments on an article not only polarize readers (same old thing we see on every comment thread) but they also change the perception of the story itself. When your topic is science, you can quickly see that conflation of scientific results and what an angry person says on a blog thread is dangerous to one of the two (like mixing ice cream and horse manure – doesn’t do much to the horse manure, but it sure does damage the ice cream). From Popular Science:

If you carry out those results to their logical end–commenters shape public opinion; public opinion shapes public policy; public policy shapes how and whether and what research gets funded–you start to see why we feel compelled to hit the “off” switch.

Read the entire article online HERE.

And here’s a question to ponder: If we simultaneously shut off comment threads in every major publication in America, would civil discourse return to the town square? Sure, we’d all walk in mad, but we’d share a few munchies, a cup of coffee and a little bit of time with our neighbors. Might leave with a slightly different disposition…

(Photo credit)



Florence Snyder: Dexter Douglass



Dexter-DouglassWith the passing of Dexter Douglass, Florida has lost a lawyer who made friends out of clients, and left them in better condition than he found them.

Douglass hung out his shingle in an era when lawyers aspired to be the first person in town that everyone looked to as a wise counselor and community problem-solver. He held to that standard, even as the practice of law changed.

Douglass was a high priced gladiator in high stakes, high profile litigation and a master storyteller who could have made a lot of money without working hard as a cable news “legal analyst.”

Instead, and to the end of his life, he preferred helping real people with real problems, whether or not they could afford to pay.

Journalists old enough to remember a world in which professionals and public officials could think and speak for themselves appreciated Douglass’ accessibility, his love of language, and his ability to take his work a great deal more seriously than he took himself.

Reporters who know the difference between real and fake friends of the 1st amendment paid their respects in print and in person at his funeral Saturday at Tallahassee’s Faith Presbyterian Church.

“Sometimes he didn’t like what we wrote about him or his governor”[Lawton Chiles, in whose administration Douglass served as general counsel]legend in her own right Lucy Morgan told the Miami Herald. “Several times he and I had shouting matches over the phone,” said Morgan, who headed the St. Petersburg Times Tallahassee Bureau in years when Douglass was regularly making big news “but the next time I’d see him it was as though we had never argued.”

William Jablon, a 45 year friend, underscored the point in his eulogy.

“Dexter served as my mentor and lawyer for 35 years when I became headmaster of Maclay School,” Jablon said. “He always told me do the right thing….. He also told me that in speaking with the press tell them the truth; it always confuses them.”

Douglass took joy from the practice of law because he kept things simple. Get up in the morning. Don’t do anything stupid all day long. Don’t let your clients do anything stupid, either.

In 58 years as a working lawyer, Douglass had only two kinds of clients: those who took his advice and were glad they did, and those, like recount loser Al Gore, who listened to some other lawyer and wished they hadn’t.

————–

Florence Snyder is a corporate and First Amendment lawyer. Contact her at lawyerflo@gmail.com.



Disagreement IS in the American family





Join the Asteroids Club: Possibly too true to be funny



asteroids social media cartoon

Cartoon courtesy of XKCD.com

Learn about our Asteroids Club season online HERE.