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…
In case you missed this last week…
McDonald’s has managed to charm us with two very fundamental Village Square-ish concepts in their new “I’m Lovin’ It” ad campaign.
Read the whole article HERE. Here’s a snip:
“Incivility destroys a community’s capacity to generate wealth.
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.
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)
Under the banner of better late than never (this was in my stack of catch-up reading after our last program, printed on September 6th in the Tallahassee Democrat):
The National Conference of Editorial Writers, apparently tiring of the “online free-for-alls that treat facts and lies as equals” is launching a “civility Project” to help journalists navigate the challenges of knowing where to draw the line between constructive – even if difficult – debate and the now too routine combustible spleen venting. The editorial about this project, first published in the Providence Journal explains:
“The mediators are hardly perfect in judgment, but they are becoming a last bulwark against a national screamfest, where the loudest, angriest and most outrageous opinions get the most attention; facts seem to matter less and less in the general din.”
Read the full editorial here.
Oh, and AMEN.
Lack of civility in words bleeds into a lack of decency in behavior, and so it goes. –Kathleen Parker
(Photo credit: Michael Hashizume)
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)
This post is our regular weekly Purple State of Mind feature. Why not hop on over to Purple and read it there instead?
"Poisoning the Press" is a favorite fantasy of politicians caught in the crosshairs of a dogged investigative reporter. It's also the title of a new book about Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson and the Rise of Washington's Scandal Culture.
The author is journalist turned media ethics professor Mark Feldstein. The storytelling skills Feldstein honed over years of Peabody and Emmy award winning reporting make Poisoning the Press a scholarly work wrapped in a rockin' good beach-read. For Village Squares trying to understand how our political culture got so ugly, Feldstein cracks the code.
Using previously classified documents and interviews with folks who were there, the author shows how Nixon and Anderson fed off each other in a twisted, mongoose-and-cobra kind of way. Nixon was obsessed with the press. He spent countless hours talking about journalists, but hardly any time with them.
Feldstein's forensic autopsy of Nixon and Anderson raises an intriguing possibility: What if Nixon had Liz Joyner and other advocates of civil discourse appealing to his better angels instead of a palace guard pandering to his paranoia? Might the two Navy veterans have come together over a burger and a baseball game? Would we have a healthier body politic today?
They would have had lots to talk about. Nixon and Anderson both grew up poor and worked like dogs for the success they craved.
The future president and the future Pulitzer Prize winner both arrived in Washington in 1947. Nixon was a newly-minted congressman and Anderson had landed a job as a legman for Drew Pearson, whose syndicated column, Washington-Merry-Go-Round, Anderson would eventually inherit.
Nixon became Bud Abbott to Anderson's Lou Costello. With no moral compass in his inner circle, straight-man Nixon would take bribes; suborn perjury and stage overseas military coups. Anderson would merrily report all of it, in close to real time.
Nixon's press paranoia grew as Anderson racked up scoop after scoop at his expense. He even toyed with the idea of having Anderson assassinated.
Feldstein concludes that Anderson's coverage of Nixon and Nixon's reaction to Anderson's coverage "has tainted governance and public discourse ever since."
The toxic legacy lives on in Florida. A recent Florida TaxWatch study found that the recession has yet to reach our state's multimillion dollar public relations payroll. TaxWatch documented that communications people out-earn police, prison guards, and social workers who risk their lives to serve and protect.
Real communications people—also known as schoolteachers—are being laid off en masse while Florida's public officials cling to their publicists like Linus to his security blanket.
Thanks to Mark Feldstein for reminding us why this worked badly for Nixon and to TaxWatch for shining a light on how his dark legacy still casts shadows in the Sunshine State.
Florence Snyder is a corporate and First Amendment lawyer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more posts by Florence HERE.
(Disclosures: Mark Feldstein interned for Jack Anderson in the 1970s. Florence Snyder represented Feldstein in what were his first libel suit and her first jury trial.)
Radio and cable talk show host Ed Schultz calls himself “The Nation’sÂ 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?Â 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.”Â It did….and spit straight into our eyes.
Florence Snyder is a corporate and First Amendment lawyer. Contact her at email@example.com
(Photo credit, Schultz pictured with Ingraham: Dan Patterson)
People make sense.
Years of schooling in behavioral sciences (thanks mom and dad) ultimately led me to that conclusion. If you know what people know, if you know what people don’t know, if you experience what they’ve experienced, well, then… they tend to make sense.
Could that mean that people make sense in the unhinged world of politics too? An organization called CivilPolitics.org is accumulating information from the study of our psychology as it relates to our political polarization. Co-founder Dr. Jonathan Haidt of University of Virginia is doing fascinating work in looking at our moral psychology vis-a-vis our political orientation. His work supports my conclusion – albeit with a smidge more science: People make sense if you understand their moral foundations. Read all »
“Former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush will serve as honorary chairmen of a new center at the University of Arizona that will focus on civility in political debate, university officials will announce Monday.”
“The National Institute for Civil Discourse – a nonpartisan center for debate, research, education and policy about civility in public discourse – will open Monday in Tucson. It was created in the aftermath of the Jan. 8 shootings in the city where six people were killed and 13 injured, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.)…” Read the entire Washington Post article HERE.
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 »