"Last week we saw a white Catholic male Republican judge murdered on his way to greet a Democratic Jewish woman member of Congress, who was his friend. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year-old Mexican-American gay college student, and eventually by a Korean American combat surgeon, and this all was eulogized by our African American President." Mark Shields, PBS, quoting a friend who is a historian. The discussion between Shields and David Brooks is worth listening to. (Hat tip, Jan Stovall.)
One reason, despite our many faults, to remain proud to be an American.
I am also encouraged by far more civilized discussion among liberals and conservatives on Facebook, looking for common ground.
“If by a liberal they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people—their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, their civil liberties—if that is what they mean by a “liberal” then I am proud to be a liberal.” -- John F. Kennedy
One of my favorite quotes, used recently by AndrewSullivan.com: "Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; there we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our own standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness," - Reinhold Niebuhr, Irony of American History.
At least four Niebuhr sermons and one interview are online. "The interview is of Niebuhr and James Baldwin after the murder of four African American children in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. It' so wonderful to hear Christian witness in defense of a minority, instead of Christianist rants that attack a minority." -- Andrew Sullivan.
“The yes-man is your enemy, but your friend will argue with you.” -- Russian proverb. Three public figures in the news seemed to have been ill-served by yes men (or yes women).
John Edwards' "yes man" Andrew Young agreed to his request to publicly say he was the father of Rielle Hunter's baby, when the father was most probably Edwards. Both Young and Edwards would have been better off in the long run if Edwards were treated like an adult (past the age of 50) and told he had to take responsibility for his own irresponsible behavior and his own baby. What was Young thinking? Even if Edwards in his pridefulness, panic, narcissism and embarrassment promised to "take care of you for life," what would accepting such a bribe do to your own reputation and sense of efficacy? Obviously Young allowed his own identity to be merged with that of Edwards, to the detriment of both of them. But it says something about Edwards' character that he wanted someone else to take the fall for his behavior.
Michael Jackson was surrounded by "yes men," so-called fans who enabled his drug addiction and wouldn't tell him the truth, that he was killing himself.
One reason Sarah Palin resigned as governor of Alaska was that she apparently had a very thin skin. The "yes men" she surrounded herself with tolerated no criticism of her, even constructive criticism, according to Daniel Larison in the American Conservative. "Palin was surrounded and cheered on by almost nothing but yes-men," he wrote, "because once anyone tried to offer any kind of criticism that person
seemed to become persona non grata in her circle and in the wider conservative world pretty quickly."
Surrounding oneself with "yes men" and sycophants often proves, in the long run, to be self-destructive.
Lakoff is trying to get progressives to think more about the language they use. He believes 'progressives' should speak of their values first, and policy prescriptions second: "There is no left-to-right linear spectrum in the American political life," he writes. "There are two systems of values and modes of thought - call them progressive and conservative (or nurturant and strict, as I have)....Barack Obama has it right: Get rid of the very idea of the right and the left and the center. American ideas are fundamentally progressive ideas - the ideas
on which this country was founded and which carry forth that spirit. Progressives
care about people and the earth, and act with responsibility and strength on
"The progressive view of government is simple. Progressive government has two aspects: protection and empowerment. Protection is far more than the military, police and fire departments. It includes consumer protection, worker protection, environmental protection, public health, food and drug safety; Social Security and other safety nets. It also includes protection from the government itself, and hence a balance of powers, openness, fundamental rights and so on.
"Empowerments include roads and bridges; public education; government-developed
communications like the internet and satellite communications systems; the banking
system; the SEC and institutions that make a stock market possible, and the court system, mostly about contracts and corporate law. Progressive government makes business possible. No one makes any money in this country without progressive empowerment by government. A progressive foreign policy is not based solely, or even mainly, on the state - about the "national interest" defined
as our military strength and GDP. Progressive foreign policy focuses on individual people's interests as well as national interests: on poverty, disease, refugees, education, women's and children's issues, public health and so on." Read the whole thing.