It’s been a while since we solved a problem together…

“What we lack in the U.S. today is the confidence that is generated by solving one big, hard problem… together.” — Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric

The power of “AND” once again…

“The fundamental problem that we’ve got in America today – apart from the economics – is that conflict makes good politics. Sharp ideology and all this stuff that’s been very successful politically, but it’s lousy for economic policy making. If you look at the places that are really successful in America today – look at Silicon Valley, look at the computer simulation boom in Orlando and lots of other examples – those places without exception you have cooperation between a vibrant private sector and a smart government. And cooperation is great for the economy, but it doesn’t work as well politically. So we’ve got this big disconnect between politics and economics and until we close it, we’re going to have a hard time coming back.” — Bill Clinton, Meet the Press on Sunday. (Check out this great essay by Lea Marshall on “The Power of And” on our We the Wiki)

Manjoo: Central vs. peripheral information processing

Doing a little Village Square-ish reading with True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society by Farhad Manjoo, who writes for Salon.

I’m intrigued by his distinction between 2 cognitive methods we use for forming our opinions: A central route – which undertakes a direct investigation of facts – and a peripheral one where you rely on the evaluation or even social cues of experts or people you trust. We tend to choose a peripheral route to save time or when the information is too complex for us to understand on our own. It’s when we use Consumer Reports. And we’re living in a world with increasingly complex information and increasing hyper-specialization. Read all »

Frank Bruni: “We know it’s true because our ideology tells us it’s true”

“… right now, with the stock market floundering and our credit rating downgraded and millions of Americans stranded in unemployment and Washington frozen in confusion, the temptation to look for one summary prescriptive — for certainty, even miracles — is strong. We’d be wise to resist it. To get us out of this mess, we need a full range of extant remedies, a tireless search for new ones and the nimbleness and open-mindedness to evaluate progress dispassionately and adapt our strategy accordingly.” –Frank Bruni, The New York Times (read the entire article HERE).

Peter Wehner: The Public’s Complicity in its Own Outrage

“It’s a comforting game many of us like to play, to insist the American people are the font of all wisdom and our politicians are nothing but knaves and fools. Perhaps they are; but if they are, it’s worth at least a moment’s self-reflection on the part of the public, which after all elects (and often re-elects) our public officials. We may not like the political jars of clay that have been produced. But in America, it is worth recalling that “we the people” are, in the end, the potters.” – Peter Wehner

Read the whole profoundly (and sadly) true article from Commentary Magazine’s Peter Wehner HERE. Thanks to Bill Mattox for pointing us to it.

Fareed Zakaria: Narrowcasting

THIS CNN VIDEO is well worth a watch. As much as we read up on political division, he mentions factors new to us. If you’re a Tea Party devotee, please watch past his initial premise as he develops it intelligently.

Village Square must-see: Eli Pariser on the “Filter Bubble”

Liz Joyner at TEDxFSU: Mixing it up at The Village Square

TEDxFSU: Liz Joyner “Mixing it Up at the Village Square” from The Village Square on Vimeo.

(Check out TEDxFSU HERE.)


It came to me one day while applying antibiotic ointment to my young daughter’s scrape. With similar wounds to my daughter’s in my own childhood, out came a rectangular amber glass bottle of Merthiolate or Mercurochrome. The pinkest liquid you’ve ever seen – over the top pink, pink on heroin. There are lots of different kinds of pain, but two childbirths later I don’t think I’ve ever felt more burn than was delivered by that little bottle.

At my house, the Merthiolate ritual was the same every time. Mom or Dad would lift us along with our newly cleaned [insert appropriate body part here] to sit on top of the kitchen counter. Some quorum of family members would stand around us poised to assist, cheeks poofed out with a lung full of air, pointed at the wound. On cue, after the medicine was applied, all the helpers would immediately start blowing (lots of new germs, I can see all these years later) on the carefully cleaned wound to make that infernal sting stop. Read all »

Differences in liberal vs. conservative brain stucture found

A British study released Thursday in Current Biology further supports theories that there far more to political difference than just who we vote for. It’s already been shown that there are differing levels of brain activity in the amygdala and upper brain cortex in liberals and conservatives, but apparently there is also a difference in the size of each part of the brain. Conservatives have more brain mass in their amygdala, the region of the brain associated with fear. Liberals have a larger anterior cingulate cortex which is associated with managing uncertainty and conflict. It’s anybody’s guess as to whether the political bent affected the size of the brain region or if the brain differences started the whole shebang. It continues to be our assertion that it’s understanding where people are coming from – differences in brain and all – that makes all the difference in having a constructive civic dialogue with them. Read all »

Tallahassee Democrat: Liz Joyner, “On Jefferson and Adams”

Printed in The Tallahassee Democrat:

“You and I ought not to die until we have explained ourselves to each other.” So began the late-life correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the founding fathers described in the epic HBO mini-series “John Adams” as “the north and south poles of our revolution.” Once friends, differences in opinion and political competition had taken a toll. They, like others in the founders’ generation, had deep philosophical disagreements. But as they went about Read all »

Conversing in the land of the food fight

Wednesday night Keith Olbermann gave the “Worst Person in the World” bronze to “the ludicrous new political organization No Labels. It’s sales pitch is it’s nonpartisan. It’s sales pitch is in part plagiarized…”

He gigged them for using a logo that belonged to another organization (a charge that is true).

But Olbermann went on, into the familiar character assassination zone that for me has long made listening to Limbaugh and Beck require an IV drip of Valium (and propelled me to start The Village Square): “Nice start for No Labels which – since it is a bunch of fraudulent conservative Democrats pretending to be moderates and fraudulent Republicans pretending to be independents – they really should have stuck with a different animal motif: Maybe wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Read all »

Kathleen Parker riffs on why NYC helps her understand the partisan divide

Since syndicated columnist and co-host of CNN’s new prime time Parker Spitzer mentions us from time to time, it seems only right for us to return the favor (although must admit we have a few less readers). Here Parker makes some insightful points about how we find ourselves on opposite sides of the partisan divide, more akin to city mouse vs. country mouse than anything to do with party politics:

This is fundamentally where Democrats and Republicans face off. At what point is the common good bad for people?

Many so-called Everyday Americans who live in the oft-maligned red states essentially are people who live in more-open spaces and, therefore, see little need or benefit for government management of their lives. The frontier may be nearly gone, but the person who prefers wider horizons will have little use for bureaucrats bearing the latest government how-to (or how-not-to) document.

Those who have opted to live in densely populated blue areas need third-party authorities to maintain order and figure they’ll trade a little freedom for the convenience and cultural riches of city life.

These are completely different orientations toward life in general and the role of government specifically, and I’m not sure the two can be reconciled. City dwellers will never understand the folks who prefer the company of trees, and country folk will always resent the imperious presumptions of urbanites who think they know best.

Read the whole article HERE.