Tag: civility

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It started with a phone call one April morning in 1995. Republicans, in the 1994 elections, had won historic victories during President Bill Clinton’s first mid-term election. The GOP recaptured control of the US Senate, led by Majority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-KS), and control of the US House for the first time in 40 […]

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Quote of the Day: Chivalry and Civility


“WHEN WOMEN COMPLAIN ABOUT THE DISAPPEARANCE OF CHIVALRY, I’m prone to point out that chivalry was a system, one that imposed obligations of behavior on women and girls as well as on men. Likewise, when David Brooks complains that Edward Snowden is an unmediated man, I must note that in the civil society Brooks invokes, Presidents and other leaders were also mediated; they were not merely checked by Congress, courts, etc., but they were also checked by themselves, and a sense of what was proper that went beyond “how much can I get away with now?” Obama, too, is unmediated in that sense. That Brooks couldn’t see beyond his sharply-creased pants to notice that when it was apparent to keen observers even before the 2008 election is not to his credit. If the system of civil society has failed, it is in no small part because its guardians — notably including Brooks — have also failed.” — Prof. Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit.com Jun 11, 2013

To say that I find the norms of chivalry (battlefield conduct) and courtly behavior (behavior befitting a noble at court) persuasive is obvious – look at my name. The Paladins / Paladines of Charlemagne was the idealized role model and cautionary tale for the medieval knight, and the modern fantasy vision of the paladin appeals to a similar code of heroic ethics. Similarly, I admire the civilized norms of the past, as one of the symbols of the greatness of our civilization.

Toward a Deeper Civility


From a President who often seems mean-spirited and petty, to angry mobs threatening their opponents with bodily harm, to smugly superior journalists and entertainers preaching their bottomless contempt to a Pavlovian audience of unthinking conformists, the observation that much of our national conversation is mired in incivility and vulgarity seems undeniable.

Whether or not this is new is debatable. Heated political exchanges are nothing new; yellow journalism and intemperate pundits are not a 21st-century phenomenon, nor even a 20th. What seems likely is that the scope of incivility has increased, upward to the President and Congress, downward to every citizen with a microphone or Twitter account. Partly this is the product of greater participation: when everyone has a voice, a lot of people with nothing useful to say will nonetheless say it loudly.

The Unfortunate Paucity of Villains


You wouldn’t guess it from reading the news, but the sad reality is that there aren’t enough bad guys to explain all that’s wrong in the world.

Oh, we try to find culprits for everything: there’s a natural human urge to seek a malevolent intelligence behind misfortune — to ascribe blame to someone. It is comforting to imagine that bad things happen because bad people cause them to happen. We have some faint hope, after all, of ridding ourselves of bad people — and, until we do, we enjoy the knowledge of our moral superiority.

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Donald Trump said I love my country and if that is what makes me a nationalist, I guess I am. Now it’s the new hate speech talking point of late, a vile, dirty word. I looked up the definition of nationalism, to see if it changed since I was in grade school. If you Google, […]

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What Has Happened to American Civility?


Yes, I know deep down civility is still there, but it seems to be gone now. Recently, data was released that compared the views of each major political party member about the other political party and the lines were almost flat … until 2000 when the Democratic party jumped with negative views of the Republican Party. Why?

Was it the result of Bush v. Gore, where one party feels that the Supreme Court selected Bush and not that Gore had been cherry picking his recount requests to certain counties rather than statewide (until it was too late)? 9/11 unified the country but not for long. 2008 came along, Democrats didn’t seem to mind graphics depicting John McCain as a bloodthirsty vampire and Obama was elected. With that election, the Republicans’ view of the Democratic Party took a major plunge and our modern age of hyper-partisanship was officially born.

Civility in Politics: All Bets are Off


I couldn’t help rolling my eyes at this well intentioned definition of civility:

Civility is about more than just politeness, although politeness is a necessary first step. It is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same. Civility is the hard work of staying present even with those with whom we have deep-rooted and fierce disagreements. It is political in the sense that it is a necessary prerequisite for civic action. But it is political, too, in the sense that it is about negotiating interpersonal power such that everyone’s voice is heard, and nobody’s is ignored.

Civility Kills


Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder Still Blocking the Truth | BreitbartP.J. O’Rourke’s 2004 tongue-in-cheek titled book Peace Kills lampooned American foreign policy saying “imperialism has never been so funny.” He took the reader globetrotting while pointing out what happens when America tries to have a war “without hurting anybody” (Kosovo). Visiting Egypt in the aftermath of 9/11 he said: “There is a question that less sophisticated Americans ask (and more sophisticated Americans would like to): Why are the people in the Middle East so crazy?” We laugh because it’s true. Fourteen years later, America’s war isn’t so much in far-flung regions with people calling us imperialists, but more so with our neighbors, coworkers, family, and friends. America is at war with itself.

For as long as I can remember I have followed politics and culture. For those who watch/listen to Whiskey Politics and wonder when I started interviewing, I picked up the microphone at the age of 10. After my strict cockney Father barked “Lights!” (the British version of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman’s “Light Out!”), I would count 30 Mississippi before reaching under my bed, fumbling around until finding my radio/cassette recorder, hitting play and record, and do my version of Cavett or Carson.

I had the best guests in my darkened bedroom, often moderating debates with Jimmy Carter and Anwar Sadat or Ayatollah Khomeini. Jeff Lynne would talk about ELO but an angry John Lennon kept butting in saying Lynne was stealing his sound. Ponch and Jon from CHiPs debated the best and worst parts of LA to patrol. The constant for me, I always played it down the middle. The straight man (boy) who kept the guest from going too far off-subject. Even as a preteen I valued civility. It’s something I have maintained in most areas of my life. But 40 years later, I am now second-guessing whether civility is our best approach.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America actually find amusement in Hillary Clinton’s craven pronouncement that Democrats will return to civility if they take back one or both chambers of Congress.  They also shudder as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who survived the congressional baseball shooting and a violent attack from his neighbor, predicts the intense confrontations will ultimately lead to a political assassination.  And they get a kick out of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg becoming a Democrat again in anticipation of a 2020 presidential bid.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America commend Attorney General Jeff Sessions for beefing up the number of immigration judges in an effort to expedite hearings for cases of illegal immigration and improve enforcement of existing immigration laws.  They’re also weary of former President Barack Obama lecturing us about the need for civility in our politics when he trashed his opponents and accused them of sinister motives consistently over his eight years in office.  And they understand why Ben Sasse is frustrated with certain aspects of the Republican Party but also see his public agonizing over whether to stay on the GOP as a bit of grandstanding.

The Ricochet I Love


As an official Ricochet Moderator,™ some days I despair for the grand experiment in civil, right-wing community building that is Ricochet. So much of my energy on the site is spent dealing with sniping and griping that I start to wonder if anyone actually wants to have a conversation.

Too many times it feels like members are here to repeat the same arguments like a Groundhog Day from Hell, burn acres of strawmen, gloat over the fellow Ricochetti they consider their enemies, and bring up every less-than-complimentary thing anyone has ever said to them as justification for their own bad behavior, like a half of a couple that wants a divorce but wants to force the other party to be the one who actually files. Two things have happened in the last few days though that have rekindled hope that this community can actually work as intended.

The Red Hen Is a Canary in the Coal Mine


White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen Restaurant in Virginia along with her seven guests. They already ordered, but a snowflake waiter decided he didn’t like her because she worked for President Donald Trump.

The owner came in and asked the employees what “they wanted her to do.” They said expel Sanders, so she was asked to leave, and she did. Why did this remind me of the 1960s lunch counters where blacks were refused service based on skin color?

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For the fourth straight week a key theme in the weekly Torah portion is people unable to get past their anger, hurt, and frustration (often on behalf of others) and engage constructively with their religious / political / ideological opponents. This week it’s Moses who slurs the people and then hits when he should speak. […]

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Swedish friends of mine have lived in the US for decades now. They are well traveled and speak to associates throughout Europe. One recently remarked that the problem of people disassociating from each other after debating politics at dinner is a uniquely American phenomenon. He said it is a tale one hears often from Europeans […]

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I’m finding it hard to put into words how sad, shocked and angry I feel about what happened over the weekend in the small, rural town of Sutherland Springs, Texas, where twenty-six people were murdered and 20 injured, sitting in church, in yet another mass shooting. When I pulled up the news to find out […]

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For months (it seems like years) I’ve been encouraging, pleading and hoping that people will come together over the new Trump presidency. I didn’t intend for people who were Never Trumpers to become excited Trumpers, but rather to get on board and give him a fair chance. I’ve hoped people will take a dispassionate view, assessing […]

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The Darker Side of “Civility”: Or, After the Hangover of the Al Smith Dinner


Al-Smith-DinnerThe hangover from last week’s surreal edition of the Al Smith Dinner is finally wearing off, and things still look ugly. Host Timothy Cardinal Dolan says it was an “awkward” meeting between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, who shared a dais with Dolan at the old televised dinner raising money for New York Catholic charities. Yes, obviously awkward, Your Eminence, but wasn’t it a tad awkward for you to be there, too?

Wasn’t it especially awkward for Your Eminence when Hillary, opponent of all that is Catholic (except liberal Jesuit heresy) said, “We need to get better at finding ways to disagree on matters of policy while agreeing on questions of decency and civility?” Dolan instead would agree, as he responded to calls to permanently cancel the dinner by saying, “nothing can ruin the event” as it is “America and the Church at their best.” Dolan is gravely wrong.

The dinner itself is trivial but its pretense to civility — years ago and now — highlights a paradoxical problem for Christians confronting the Left’s anti-Christian agenda. How do we remain “civil and decent” in confronting the Left’s ideologues and yet resist their hijacking of what it now means to be “civil and decent?”

Permanent Interests


“I say that it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

  • Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston

“America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.”