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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 »



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.)



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



Liz Joyner: Down the rabbit hole in 12 months (or less)

alice in wonderland

A new NBC News and Wall Street Journal poll asked if 2009 was a period of unity or division. The only surprise in the result is that 12% of respondents actually said unity. (Perhaps the percentage of Americans without a TV set?) Even more disturbing is that at the beginning of the year, a full half of us thought it was a time of unity. What a year.

Plus “division” is a vanilla description of 2009.

Croquet balls turned hedgehogs and hookah-smoking caterpillars have nothing on the year we’ve just spent in the good ole US of A. Speaking as someone who was adequately alarmed about the sump-pump depths of our civic dialog waaay back in the spring of 2006 to go to all the trouble to form The Village Square, where we stand now is nearly unfathomable.

We kicked off the year with a run on ammo given the impending presidency of Barack Obama, despite the utter and complete absence of any indication that Obama had any intention of taking anyone’s guns.

We moved directly from there into the full-force swing of the birther movement, with duly elected and previously apparently sane representatives giving winks and nods to the idea that our president was actually some sort of Muslim Manchurian candidate, verified birth certificate and fact-be-damned.

Somewhere along the way we passed the White Rabbit late to the Mad Hatter’s tea party to find that we actually have an elected president looking to take down America, capitalism, our whole way of life and probably apple pie to boot.

It’s no wonder that with all this hoo-hah about, when it was time to debate the daunting national issue of health care, we just couldn’t manage. When it was time to bring our A-game, instead we flunked out.

Civil discourse is a muscle and 2009 found it atrophied from lack of use.

Is it possible to revive a conservative party ready to make a cogent argument that has a possibility of reaching people who don’t already agree with them? Because while it appears that President Obama isn’t trying to take your guns, isn’t secretly foreign-born, isn’t trying to bring America to its knees, it is entirely possible that he is one thing that needs serious discussion: Wrong. But the opposition party, too busy poisoning the well with arguments that make them look like 60’s hippies on an acid trip haven’t really cohesively made that argument in a way that the rest of us can hear.

And while we’re at it, before liberals build a hermetically sealed media environment to rival the Fox News and talk radio empires they might want to pause to rethink. Picture Keith Olbermann’s special comments with about 15 years to percolate, and then decide if that’s ultimately good or bad for America. If the amen chorus of conservatism hasn’t really advanced a good conservative argument you’re apt to listen to, why in the world do you think that a conservative will ever listen to a liberal one wrapped in a different flavor of the same indignant fury?

In our current Adventure through Wonderland, we’ve reached the part in the story where the feuding self-righteous and uninformed are playing the role of the Queen of Hearts with her hair trigger “off with their heads” impulse. Its hard not to wonder how far real violence is behind.

It’s well past time we wake from our yearlong dream and put away childish behavior and fantasy.

Because in 2010, we’ve got a country to run.

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



Freedom of Speech and Incitement to violence

Following up on yesterday’s post touching on the dangers of excessive rhetoric…

Here’s the story of conservative radio host Hal Turner. Turner was arrested last week for advocating violence.

Here’s a sampling from his website:

Tonight at 9:00 PM, “The Hal Turner Show” will talk about the recent killing of an abortionist and what the shooter did wrong. No, not the shooting itself; but rather what he did wrong that got him caught! We’ll talk at length about how to carry out such an act and significantly reduce the chances of getting caught. Lets face it; America is in big trouble and only force and violence are going to clean it up. Tonight, we’ll talk about how to use force and violence and not get caught.

Reacting to U.S. Court of Appeals decision that upheld a Chicago firearm ban, Turner posted pictures, office addresses, a map and a picture of the building with arrows pointing to the offices of the three judge panel, saying that home addresses were soon to follow.

Then there was this (the “straw” on the arrest warrent) just a few posts down (link added):

TRN advocates Catholics in Connecticut take up arms and put down this tyranny by force. To that end, THIS WEDNESDAY NIGHT ON “THE HAL TURNER SHOW” we will be releasing the home addresses of the Senator and Assemblyman who introduced Bill 1098 as well as the home address of Thomas K. Jones from the OSE. After all, if they are so proud of what they’re doing, they shouldn;t mind if everyone knows where they live. It is our intent to foment direct action against these individuals personally. These beastly government officials should be made an example of as a warning to others in government: Obey the Constitution or die. If any state attorney, police department or court thinks they’re going to get uppity with us about this; I suspect we have enough bullets to put them down too.

Apparently this is nothing new for Mr. Turner. From 2006 during the debate on immigration reform and amnesty, posted on Mr. Turner’s website:

ANY MEMBER OF CONGRESS WHO INTRODUCES, CO-SPONSORS OR VOTES IN FAVOR OF ANY SUCH AMNESTY WILL BE DECLARED A DOMESTIC ENEMY AND WILL BE CONSIDERED A LEGITIMATE TARGET FOR ASSASSINATION.