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David McCollough: “We too will be judged by history”

Renowned historian David McCollough on Fareed Zakaria GPS Sunday:

In the old House of Representatives chamber in the Capitol, over the doorway there is a figure of Clio, the Goddess of History. And she’s riding in her chariot and on the side of the chariot is a clock, put there way back in the 1830’s. Still runs perfectly. She’s writing in her book of history and the idea was that the representatives would look up and see what time it is but they should be reminded that’s just present-day time. What really matters is what’s being written in the book of history. What looks down on Congress today? A television camera.



Bob Schieffer: “Ingenious compromises and courage”

Bob Schieffer’s weekly commentaries are usually the voice of reason – here, no exception:

Finally, today, well, it has taken a while, but we have finally done it. We have created a Congress incapable of doing what it was supposed to do… It is as if Detroit made a car with a fine radio and piercing headlights and comfortable, beautiful seats, but a car that couldn’t do what it was created to do and that is move forward. Here is how it happened. The cottage industry that has grown up around Congress, the consultants, the commercial makers, the pollsters, has made the cost of running for office prohibitive, so those who do Read all »



Good idea.

“So how as a nation can we sit around and eat Mexican food, and drink beer and make friends? That’s the question. If we can do that on a broader scale, I think we’ll come out of it all right.” –Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Read the whole article HERE.



Justice O’Connor on civility and civics education

“I believe that we are at a critical point in our nation’s history. We face difficult challenges at home and abroad. Meanwhile, divisive rhetoric and a culture of sound bites threaten to drown out rational dialogue and debate. We cannot afford to continue to neglect the preparation of future generations for active and informed citizenship.” –Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, The Sacramento Bee

(Thanks to Tanja for sending this our way.)



Caricature-defying quotes: Rachel Maddow

“Giant incredible rocket ships have a way of rendering politics meaningless, just as close proximity to scientific glory is a really good cure for cynicism, world weariness or being jaded about what human beings can accomplish.” — Rachel Maddow

(One of our theories here at The Village Square is that if we actually knew each other beyond the cut and paste quotes that uber-partisans regularly feed us, we’d like each other a little more. So please help me keep an eye out for people who’ve been – well, uh… divided — by the gaping partisan divide doing something intensely, decently human that you can’t help but kind of like…)

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



Mark Halperin on extreme partisanship

“If he repelled a Martian invasion tomorrow, I’m not sure he’d get to 65%.” –referring to the tiny bounce in the polls that President Obama got after Osama bin Laden was killed

It is worth noting that George Bush Sr. got to 90% approval after the Gulf War & there was probably more ambivalence among Americans about whether that was a good thing than whether killing Bin Laden was. Perhaps a clear measure of how divided and dysfunctional our politics have grown since?



Leading & Misleading

From Glenn W. Smith’s The Politics of Deceit:

Following Thomas Paine’s advice, we should wake up and understand that our long habit of not thinking our political practices wrong does not make them right. . . Their very structure lends advantage to those who would mislead rather than lead, to those who believe their own power is more important than the health of democracy. . . The dissolution of social mechanisms for working out our differences and celebrating our similarities and common purposes has contributed to the deterioration of the public sphere and made possible the ascendancy of the politics of deceit.



Too late now.

“Someday, someone will invent a giant talking tube by which you can address the whole nation at once. Surely the police will arrest him, lest the populace become deranged.” –Kierkegaard, 1850

(Thanks, as always, to Lea)



President Reagan at 100

Today, President Ronald Reagan would have turned 100. From a Village Square perspective it’s interesting to observe the feuding over Reagan’s legacy, mainly because it’s more of a legacy of our time than it is of Reagan’s. Ronald Reagan was clear in his beliefs but he was not a flame-thrower. He invited people to the conversation. So in that spirit, and on this day:

I have always believed that a lot of the troubles in the world would disappear if we were talking to each other instead of about each other. –Ronald Reagan



Staggering acts of hypocrisy continue…

… From one Congress to the next, the change is only who blocks judicial nominees and who screams about the blocking. Apparently in this Congress the affirmation process has so slowed that 10% of positions are not filled. In the spirit of the State of the Union coming on Tuesday night, here’s a word about the state of the courts. It’s bad enough that Chief Justice John Roberts commented:

“Each political party has found it easy to turn on a dime from decrying to defending the blocking of judicial nominations, depending on their changing political fortunes,” [Supreme Court Chief Justice John] Roberts said this month in his year-end report. “This has created acute difficulties for some judicial districts. Sitting judges in those districts have been burdened with extraordinary caseloads.”

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about working across the aisle. This seems to be an opportunity…



David Brooks: Tree of Failure

A exceptional, must-read column by David Brooks in today’s New York Times:

“Civility is the natural state for people who know how limited their own individual powers are and know, too, that they need the conversation. They are useless without the conversation…”

Read this editorial HERE (and read it now, it’s smart).



The tea party is right, but it’s not [right] because we don’t need government. We need government to not be idiotic.

No one can say “go.” No one can use their common sense. Everyone has their nose in a rule book… but people have to be free to make decisions to balance different goals…The current political system has almost a conspiracy to argue about things that aren’t relevant.”

—-Phillip K. Howard, Common Good (on The Daily Show last night)



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 »