Bill Mattox: Keep Austin Weird

Village Square board member Bill Mattox writes in USA Today:

Several years ago, some bohemians living in the capital city of Texas began distributing bumper stickers that read, “Keep Austin Weird.”

It was their way of calling for the preservation of the community’s sometimes-peculiar identity against cookie-cutter chains threatening to “McDonaldize” their hometown.

Now, I do not consider myself a weirdo, though my teenage kids probably have a different opinion, and I actually like some national chains. But I am convinced that we need to make the Austin campaign national: “Keep America Weird.”

Read the entire article in USA Today here.

Ross Douthat: On airport security, we’re partisans first, ideologues second (we wonder when we become just Americans)

There’s a great article in today’s New York Times about the inconsistency of the argument on the new TSA airport body scanners given the ultra partisan environment today. The article certainly supports the notion advanced by our next Village Square Dinner at the Square guest Bill Bishop that we have been sorting ourselves out into “tribes” for decades now and that the pull of group think within those likeminded groups (and the lack of trust between “tribes”) is very very strong. Noticing that partisans have taken quite opposite and ideologically inconsistent positions under different presidencies (whether it’s your party’s or not) Ross Douthat writesRead all »

Mayor Cory Booker: “A state of sedentary aggitation”

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This Rachel Maddow interview with Newark New Jersey’s Mayor Cory Booker struck me as an interesting (and inspirational) philosophical mix of a liberal sensibility of the role of government and what it can do to help solve problems firmly inside of a fundamentally conservative philosophy about personal responsibility. In Newark they just achieved their first month in the city without a murder since 1966. In case you can’t watch the whole clip, here’s a quote:

You have a choice to make in life, every morning of your life. You have a choice to take things as they are or take responsibility for changing them. If you’re not willing to take responsibility for changing government, for changing education, for changing crime, then you’re one of the people who deserves the results we have. But if you’re one of those people like the great Americans who literally bled this soil red for us, who put sacrifices for workers’ rights, for womens’ rights, for civil rights; if you’re willing to continue, not just be a person who drinks deeply from wells of freedom that you didn’t dig but prove worthy of that by getting involved, then you can change this country. It is so possible.

We celebrate those individual heroes of hope in our city that are doing that every single day. We haven’t changed Newark because of a mayor, we’ve changed Newark because of a lot of people coming together to do things that people don’t normally do and that’s why we’re getting the results that people don’t normally get.

(Anyone know who is running against Booker for re-election? Couldn’t immediately find it.)

General Colin Powell this morning on Face the Nation

“I would caution my Republican friends that he’s got three years left to go and in that three years Americans are going to want to see some progress and not just claims that this guy’s out of office and we’re going to do everything we can to destroy him or that somehow he is a socialist taking over the country. Read all »

Parker Palmer on holding tensions


From yesterday’s Bill Moyers Journal, Parker Palmer, founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal.

We want instant resolution. You give us a tension. We want it to get it over with in 15 minutes. We do it in everything from microcosmic situations to what happened in this country after September 11th, which is one of the great tragedies of our time, not only September 11th but our national response to it. We had an opportunity in the weeks following September 11th to really connect in new ways with the rest of the world, who were showing toward us compassion, which means suffering with.

They were saying today I, too, am an American, despite the fact that they knew more of this kind of suffering than we did. And we had caused some of theirs. Around the world people were saying, “Today I am an American.”

Well, if we had held the tension between that attack, that horrific criminal attack, and this possibility of connecting and deepening compassion, held it not through inaction but through what Bill Coffin called the justice strategy rather than the warfare strategy. If we had done that I think we would have opened a new possibility in American life. But we couldn’t. The 15 minutes elapsed and we had to hit back.

“There’s no Republican way to collect garbage”


On tonight’s Hardball, Chris Matthews, when discussing Judd Gregg bowing out of consideration for Commerce Secretary, referred to former New York Mayor John Lindsay (R), who according to Matthews said “there’s no Republican way to collect garbage.”

A wise man clearly ahead of his time.

(To my dear friend Anne: 1. Fact check, just like old times 2. More wise John Lindsay quotes 3. I remembered I always got the Ann vs. Anne wrong so I worked hard to get it right)

More than what they see: George Soros

“I am aware that I am less than some people prefer me to be. But most people are unaware that I am so much more than what they see.” - Douglas Pagels.

One error we make that propels our incivility is the tendency to paint other human beings, notably those with whom we disagree, with too broad a brush.

In a discussion on the recent dive in the stock market, Bill Moyers had an interesting conversation with George Soros, the man the hard right in American politics loves to hate. Soros has written “The New Paradigm for the Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What it Means”. Soros, having lived through the rise of fascism in Germany has been sounding an alarm for a number of years now. Contrary to portraits of him that paint him as an extremist, Soros encapsulated his philosophy this way:

Both Marxism and market fundamentalism are false ideologies. I think the only [ideology that isn’t false] is… the recognition that all our ideas, all our human constructs have a flaw in them and perfection is not attainable. And we must engage in critical thinking and correct our mistakes.

If you’ve got quotes from Soros that sound less moderate, send them on…

Looking first in our own brains

John Hodgman, author of “More Information Than You Require”, otherwise known to us as the “PC” from the “Mac/PC” ads and as a fake-news-commentator on “The Daily Show,” speaking Village Square-ese:

“Well the first place you look for fake expertise is in your own brain. All the half-truths and received wisdom that has sort of gotten in there through people telling you things that aren’t true and things you learned in school, like legends like George Washington chopping down the cherry tree. That was the beginning of fake expertise in this country. It was a complete fabrication by partisan means. It’s fake biograpy which is now part of the American biography now. So you start off by saying “what do I think I know” and you say it with a very straight face. And when you run out of fake stuff in your own head, that’s when you turn to the internet of course.”