Morning Joe commentary: Keep calm and carry on

Village Square thumbs up to Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe for this dead-on commentary on civility. (Thumbs down to Morning Joe for not including it on the video clips, thereby requiring me to create a transcript…)

JOE: [NYC Mayor Michael] Bloomberg is going to be helping candidates who aren’t bound by rigid ideology and that’s the message we’ve been trying to emphasize here… what we try to do is encourage politicians and thought leaders and all Americans to follow the advice of an old British war poster and create a very simple message: Keep calm and carry on. That was the message that FDR delivered to a battered nation in the depths of the great depression when he declared to all Americans “All we have to fear is fear itself.” It was the message that Bobby Kennedy delivered to a shocked and embittered nation on the night that Martin Luther King was assassinated. And I really do believe that’s the message that Americans need to hear again today.

Because today our nation is confronting a new war and it’s a war of words. We’ve forgotten how to talk to each other. We’ve got political extremists who are dominating the airwaves and dominating the nation debate. And you know what the White House calls the professional left along with what we call the far right now profit from political hate speech that makes our political system weaker. And yet, isn’t it strange that our Washington politicians seem to obsess over those angry voices… instead of seeking out voices of people like you, rational Americans who show respect to their neighbors, who raise their families, who go to work and who play by the rules. It’s time for you, you quiet Americans to respond. Not with angry words or hateful commentaries or setting your hair on fire – calling a Republican president a fascist or a Democratic president a fascist but rather to respond with reasonable voices and a rational debate. Now we’re going to continue like we’ve done for 3 years to encourage viewers and guests to resist the pull of those people on the far right and professional left who seek division. Let’s keep focusing on the task at hand, ensuring that America’s best days lie ahead.

MIKA: What we’ll continue to do here is call out those who preach hate and we’ll continue to celebrate civility and promote open debate where all voices, voices on all sides are welcome. And as Joe and I tried to show you everyday, you can disagree without being disagreeable.



Bloomberg on founding principles

“There are a lot of people who’ve said things I don’t agree with. But if I want to say what I believe, I’ve got to let you say what you believe, even if I violently disagree with it and even if I find it despicable.” NYC Michael Bloomberg on Islamic Community Center in Lower Manhattan, last week on The Daily Show

Find the beginnings of a We the Wiki page on this debate HERE. Log in and add your information to the post.



(But there are plenty of people trying to get to the front of the parade…)

“I want just one leader to stand up. One leader who has something to lose.” –Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe (He was talking both sides of the aisle… mosque, entitlements, the whole enchilada.)



Wise words we’d do well to consider

Michael Gerson, former speechwriter to George W. Bush, on Face the Nation yesterday, said that too many of our political controversies today are a result of “too many Americans looking for excuses to justify their rage.” He explained:

It works because we’re a big country. We’ve got over 300 million people – if you’re an internet site or a cable network and if you set out to find an excuse, some incident to emphasize you can find one in America and run it over and over again It could be a picture at a tea party rally of a single sign or a video that had to do with the new black panthers and it makes it look like it’s a crisis of race when in fact, these are incidents in America. It exaggerates…



Who is fighting the culture wars (and who isn’t)

“Most adult Americans spend their daily lives working in organizations where courtesy and civility are basic presumptions of how people should interact with each other. Moreover, discussion and negotiation underlie normal decision-making processes in the organizations and institutions of civil society and the economy. Americans contrast the environments in which they live their lives with a political order dominated by activists and elected officials who behave like squabbling children in a crowded sandbox. This is another reason why Americans dislike politics: They are put off by the people who specialize in politics.” –Morris Fiorina, Culture War? (Join us for our upcoming dinner, Tuesday June 22 “Here I am, Stuck in the Culture War with You.”



FloridaThinks.com: Bob Graham and Chris Hand

“The issue, I think, is not big government, small government, or government is our friend, government is our enemy. It’s the much more difficult task of figuring out how in a complex society the role of government can best serve the interests of people. It’s not so much a matter of quantity as it is of quality.” –Florida Senator Bob Graham in today’s FloridaThinks, Read the interview HERE.



Uh. Oh.

“The lifestyle we have today is based on miracles.”–Bill Gates on GPS with Fareed Zakaria



Jack Jacobs gets Village Square quote of the day (could be year)

“I’m not a fan of single fact analysis.”
– Col. Jack Jacobs on MSNBC’s Morning Joe



Seth Godin: There is no tribe of normal

From Seth Godin’s blog: People don’t coalesce into active and committed tribes around the status quo.

“The only vibrant tribes in our communities are the ones closer the edges, or those trying to make change. The center is large, but it’s not connected.

If you’re trying to build a tribe, a community or a movement, and you want it to be safe and beyond reproach at the same time, you will fail.

Heretical thoughts, delivered in a way that capture the attention of the minority–that’s the path that works.”

(Photo credit: David Spinks And thanks again to Lea who really needs to just start writing this blog since she finds all the good quotes.)



Tea parties, God & government all in one blog post. Oh my.

Having personally met the first person sent to prison for the crimes surrounding the Watergate break-in – the delightful, humble and wise Bud Krogh – I know that you can’t paint people with too broad a brush. So here are some words you might find meaningful whichever side of the aisle you find yourself on? Or maybe these are words you might find challenging, no matter what side of the aisle? Well, either way, here goes: Chuck Colson, of Watergate infamy and now a widely read Christian writer, on the rising populist anger as expressed in the tea party:

… The inevitable consequence of all of this should deeply trouble Christians, who, of any segment of our society, understand the necessity of a strong government. The Bible teaches that God ordains government, appoints leaders, and requires obedience so that we might live peaceable lives. Why is this? God recognizes that even a bad government is better than no government. No government leads to chaos and mob rule. When order breaks down, justice is inevitably undermined. As Augustine of Hippo argued, peace flows from order, and both are necessary preconditions to the preservation of liberty and some measure of human dignity and flourishing.

This is why great leaders of the faith throughout history have held government in such high esteem. Some, such as John Calvin, considered the magistrate the highest of vocations…

“The tea party movement may have a lot of traction in America today, but it makes no attempt to present a governing philosophy. It simply seeks an outlet—an understandable one—for the brooding frustrations of many Americans. But anti-government attitudes are not the substitute for good government.We should be instructing people enraged at the excesses of Washington and the growing ethical malaise in the Capitol to focus their rage at fixing government, not throwing the baby out with the bath water.

We Christians are to be the best citizens, praying for our leaders and holding them in high regard, even as we push for the reforms desperately needed to keep representative government flourishing. Only when we funnel frustrations into constructive reformation can we expect a government that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

(Photo credit and – as is often the case when we find a good article – thanks to Lea, Queen of All Things Internet.)



David Brooks: Disruptive change requires The Village Square?

“The U.S. has always been good at disruptive change. It’s always excelled at decentralized community-building. It’s always had that moral materialism that creates meaning-rich products. Surely a country with this much going for it is not going to wait around passively and let a rotten political culture drag it down.” — David Brooks, yesterday’s New York Times

(Thanks to Luke.)



No one?

“If the Republicans and the Democrats are competing to be the victim, who is competing to be the government?” David Frum yesterday on CNN’s Reliable Sources



Florida Trend: Civility in Public Life

Florida Trend Publisher Andy Corty writes about “the hug” with President Obama that has symbolized the nosedive Governor Crist has taken in the polls:

Think back to late January. President Barack Obama was scheduled to appear in Tampa to announce federal funding for a high-speed rail line connecting Tampa and Orlando and eventually Miami. That was the real news, but the question getting wide publicity was this: Would Gov. Charlie Crist greet the president as he did in Fort Myers last February or would he avoid Obama as he did last October in Jacksonville?

Partisan politics unfortunately played a major role in these decisions. After the “man hug” of February ’09, Crist was pummeled from the right wing of the Republican Party for consorting with the Democratic president. The pressure grew so intense that Crist, running for the U.S. Senate, pointedly stayed away in October, saying he wasn’t even aware the president was traveling to Florida.

Such a political game runs counter to the Crist I know. He is a man who is uncommonly polite. He has friends of many stripes. He has always accepted criticism without knocking the critic. And he has typically governed toward the center. While we may personally differ on some significant policy issues, I’ve never felt anything other than warm collegiality from him. Perhaps I’m a starry-eyed political neophyte, but there’s something really “American” about fair-minded discourse between people who don’t see eye-to-eye on policy topics.

By chance I was at the Governor’s Mansion for a reception the night before Obama was to appear in Tampa, so I asked Crist about his intentions. “Of course I’m going to be with the president,” Crist replied. “It’s about jobs for Floridians. With unemployment over 11% here, there’s nothing more important than jobs.”

That was the right decision, and I applaud the governor for greeting Obama. But I wish he had also said that as governor — and as the official representative of 18 million Floridians — he would always greet the president of the United States when he visited the great state of Florida. It’s a question of civility.