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Senator Ben Sasse: “This is not a call for less fighting, this is a call for more meaningful fighting”

In case you missed this last week…

McDonald’s nails the importance of neighbors (even arch enemies)

McDonald’s has managed to charm us with two very fundamental Village Square-ish concepts in their new “I’m Lovin’ It” ad campaign.

First ever Village Square casting call*: This American Life

We’re excited to have been contacted by This American Life (we think we’re getting a reputation). Turns out they’re looking for a relationship strained over politics to feature on the radio. We told them we’d help and we’re going to even sweeten the deal. If you contact them and they choose your story, we’ll buy you and your fellow strainee 2 tickets to our September 11th Dinner at the Square featuring Jonathan Haidt on Polarization, Demonization & Paralysis in American Politics. It’ll be a perfect icebreaker to start the rebuilding. We’d love to see our hometown be a part of this national story!

Here’s their invitation to Tallahassee:

The public radio show “This American Life” is seeking interview subjects for a story on how the Red/Blue split in this country is affecting relationships between friends and family members. If you or someone you know is struggling to deal with a political divide with someone you care about ­or desperately wants to rebuild a relationship that has suffered because of politics — please contact us at storypitch@thislife.org or 212-624-5022.

*Surely there will be many more casting calls…

John Oliver: Civil disservice

Ed Morrison: Civility grows the economy

Read the whole article HERE. Here’s a snip:

“Incivility destroys a community’s capacity to generate wealth.

Here’s why.

In a networked, knowledge-driven economy, collaboration drives wealth creation. And collaboration can only thrive in a stable environment of trust. The corrosion of our civil society –– the alarming growth of incivility and pervasive lying –– undercuts our economy’s productivity and our capacity to innovate.

Incivility — fraudulent concealment (“hiding the ball”), lying, manipulation, and associated behaviors — can work well to redistribute wealth. We see almost endless examples from MF Global to the subprime mess. Yet, these behaviors do not generate wealth. Indeed, they erode capitalism’s capacity to generate wealth. That’s why corruption slows economic growth and why trust is associated with higher rates of economic growth.”

Thanks to Tony for the heads up on this great article.

Colin Powell on civility and compromise

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday on This Week with Christiane Amanpour:

“The tone is not good right now. And our political system here in Washington, particularly up on the Hill, Congress, has become very, very tense, in that the two sides, the Republicans and the Democrats, are focusing more and more on their extreme left and extreme right. And we have to come back toward the center in order to compromise.

A story I like to tell is our founding fathers were able to sit in Philadelphia and make some of the greatest compromises known to man — tough, tough issues.

But they did it. Why? Because they were there to create a country, whereas we have a Congress now that can’t even pass an appropriations bill, and we’re running this country on a continuing resolution, which — what else are they here for but to pass appropriations bills?

And so we have got to find a way to start coming back together. And let me say this directly. The media has to help us. The media loves this game where everyone is on the extreme. It makes for great television. It makes for great chatter. It makes for great talk shows all day long with commentators commenting on commentators about the latest little mini-flap up on Capitol Hill.

So what we have to do is, sort of, take some of the heat out of our political life in terms of the coverage of it so these folks can get to work quietly.”

(Photo credit: Josh Self)

St. Petersburg Times: Betty Ford’s Washington was a kinder place

From today’s St. Petersburg Times:

“No doubt the many eulogies to be offered at former first lady Betty Ford’s funeral today will honor her service to the nation, heroic candor in dealing with substance abuse, and openness in fighting breast cancer. But this remarkable woman’s passing also spotlights a lost era of collegial bipartisanship in the nation’s political life…” Read the editorial HERE.

(Thanks to Florence for the heads-up)

Florence Snyder: Pot, kettle, Ed Schultz

Radio and cable talk show host Ed Schultz calls himself “The Nation’s Number 1 Progressive Voice.”

This week, he progressed to the Misogynist Hall of Fame with his radio reference to fellow opinionator Laura Ingraham as a "slut." Schultz managed to use the word twice in one sentence, which is one time more than would have gotten past the Village Square Civility Bell.

Impulse control is not one of Schultz's strengths. Last summer, the New York Post reported his meltdown in the [MSNBC] 30 Rock newsroom. Schultz was enraged that the marketing folks ran commercials that he wasn't in. When his huffing and puffing failed to win hearts and minds, he slammed down the telephone and shouted, “I’m going to torch this [bleep]ing place.”

White men with microphones have likewise been on the receiving end of Schultz verbal violence.  According to The Post, Schultz œonce told White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, ‘You’re full of [bleep].’ And after Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck revealed a condition that may make him go blind, Schultz said, “It’s a travesty he’s not going to see the country he’s trying to destroy.”

The working people Schultz claims to champion would be fired from their factories, fast food restaurants and offices if they acted nuts and uncorked about "sluts."  But Schultz seems to have a license to behave like a bad-tempered seventh grader. Following his Monday dump on Ingraham, MSNBC brass huddled for two days and emerged with this statement:

MSNBC management met with Ed Schultz [Wednesday] afternoon and accepted his offer to take one week of unpaid leave for the remarks he made yesterday on his radio program. Ed will address these remarks on his show tonight, and immediately following begin his leave. Remarks of this nature are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Accepted Schultz’ offer?  Really?

Call it zero tolerance, Orwell-style.

Schultz won't miss a week's pay, and it sounds like he could use a few days to chill out, but it will be a long time before anyone takes his “civility” lectures seriously.

MSNBC’s slogan is “Lean forward.”  It did….and spit straight into our eyes.


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

(Photo credit, Schultz pictured with Ingraham: Dan Patterson)

Neighbors usually have it right.

“I don’t know that Gabby and I ever talked about that she’s a Democrat and I’m a Republican. We always talked about what is the right thing for our people, what’s the right thing for this community.” — Bob Walkup, Mayor of Tucson, Arizona (on This Week with Christiane Amanpour)

John McCain on civil discourse.

“It probably asks too much of human nature to expect any of us to be restrained at all times by persistent modesty and empathy from committing rhetorical excesses that exaggerate our differences and ignore our similarities. But I do not think it is beyond our ability and virtue to refrain from substituting character assassination for spirited and respectful debate.” — Senator John McCain, excerpted from an op-ed in today’s Washington Post

The Civility Project calls it a day. Not good.

Apparently this week Mark DeMoss, evangelical Christian and founder of The Civility Project decided to throw in the towel when – after two years of pushing a very basic low-bar civility pledge – only 3 members of Congress had signed it.

Here’s the pledge that was apparently too hard for our elected leaders to sign:

I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior.
I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them.
I will stand against incivility when I see it.


This week we paid attention to wise words offered on the tragedy in Arizona last Saturday. Here are some of them. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

“I do think it’s a worthwhile goal not to conflate our political opponents with enemies if for no other reason than to draw a better distinction between the manifestos of paranoid madmen and what passes for acceptable political and pundit speak. it would be really nice if the ramblings of crazy people didn’t actually resemble how we talk to each other on TV. Let’s at least make troubled individuals easier to spot.” — Jon Stewart on The Daily Show Read all »

We should all be disturbed by how true this is.

“The centrifugal forces are becoming dominant” — Lee Hamilton, quoted by Pat Buchanan on Morning Joe