Environmentalism

Civility Begins in the Heart

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The president gave a talk at a prayer breakfast today, and had some words about civility & loving your political enemy:

But there is a sense that something is different now; that something is broken; that those of us in Washington are not serving the people as well as we should.  At times, it seems like we're unable to listen to one another; to have at once a serious and civil debate.  And this erosion of civility in the public square sows division and distrust among our citizens.  It poisons the well of public opinion.  It leaves each side little room to negotiate with the other.  It makes politics an all-or-nothing sport, where one side is either always right or always wrong when, in reality, neither side has a monopoly on truth.  And then we lose sight of the children without food and the men without shelter and the families without health care.

Empowered by faith, consistently, prayerfully, we need to find our way back to civility.  That begins with stepping out of our comfort zones in an effort to bridge divisions.  We see that in many conservative pastors who are helping lead the way to fix our broken immigration system.  It's not what would be expected from them, and yet they recognize, in those immigrant families, the face of God.  We see that in the evangelical leaders who are rallying their congregations to protect our planet.  We see it in the increasing recognition among progressives that government can't solve all of our problems, and that talking about values like responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage are integral to any anti-poverty agenda.  Stretching out of our dogmas, our prescribed roles along the political spectrum, that can help us regain a sense of civility. […]

Challenging each other's ideas can renew our democracy.  But when we challenge each other's motives, it becomes harder to see what we hold in common.

A few uncivil observations:

1) Why wouldn't a conservative pastor be "expected" to want to improve the country's awful immigration system? Granted, my knowledge of organized religion is pretty minimal, but aren't religious leaders all about the congregation? Don't congregations include people who are separated by bad law from their families, and thus likely to share their pain with their pastors?

2) While recognizing that the Evangelical shift toward global warming policy is a real and newsworthy event, I don't know why a general sense of environmental stewardship wouldn't be "expected" from them, either. God likes grass and clean water and lil' animal friends, right? The Evangelicals I know aren't a bunch of common Fred Smiths.

3) Is the "recognition among progressives that government can't solve all of our problems" really "increasing", and is there anything really new about lefty lectures on fatherhood and marriage? The former is a bit of a straw man to begin with (I'm not sure I've ever met a progressive who thought government could solve all problems); and if you consider the question over a matter of decades, then yes, I'd reckon the trend lines are going in that direction. But recently? Seems to me that government intervention is considerably more popular on the left than it was during Bill Clinton's era, a notion captured well by the two very different approaches to economic policy.

I like the president's call for better understanding between people who have different ideas, and I look forward to him embracing it more fully.

Katherine Mangu-Ward wrote last week about the president's simultaneous calls for more bipartisanship and more GOP-bashing.

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  1. Akbar Zib! TOO. . .FUCKING. . .LATE.

    Where he thinks he’s going with this “Can’t we all just get along” nonsense after publicly crapping all over the opposition over and over and over again is beyond me. Why not resign now–taking Joe and Nancy with you–and let’s get someone less dishonest and more capable in office?

    Incidentally, I think more civility is a good thing, which makes me an outlier in the libertarian community, I think.

    1. Where he thinks he’s going with this “Can’t we all just get along” nonsense after publicly crapping all over the opposition over and over and over again is beyond me.

      This is where it IS going, in a few short months, before the Nov 2010 elections:

      See? Even after I made a plea for civility, our opponents [the ones that don’t have the power and still managed to insult all of 2009] are still indulging in partisanship and incivility.”

      1. Stupid strategy. He was far too vocal about trashing the other side and did it with too much frequency. They’ll flood the airwaves with his own words.

        The man has truly screwed himself. Now he looks weak and foolish. Well, more so.

    2. It is the worst sort of cynicism. He increases baseline domestic spending by 50% and tries to shove an horrific healthcare plan down everyone’s throat. Then, when the country goes into revolt about it, he says “can’t we all just be civil?”.

      Tell you what, let’s put spending levels back to what they were in FY08, drop any talk of Obamacare, Cap and Theft or Card check, and then lets all be civil and have a national discussion about what to do about our problems.

      Until that happens, Obama can fuck off.

      1. Tell you what, let’s put spending levels back to what they were in FY08

        By crackety, 1808 it is!

      2. Great idea. Let’s restore spending levels to what they were under the great minarchist, G.W. Bush. And while we’re at it, can we kick about 80 percent of all the military welfare queens off the public pay roll?

    3. “But there is a sense that something is different now; that something is broken; that those of us in Washington are not serving the people as well as we should.”

      Jesus Christ, what an amateur. I need a drink, and I’m still dead!

  2. At times, it seems like we’re unable to listen to one another; to have at once a serious and civil debate.

    Like, for instance, that moment where your government insinuated that Fox News is not a real news organization?

    1. Exactly! It’s a corporation!

      1. It’s not a corporation! It’s more like a series of tubes.

        1. Butter!

    2. Or that Tea Party activists were “domestic terrorists”. The day Obama or one of his people comes out and bitch slaps Keith Olberman or Andrew Sullivan for saying idiotic things about the opposition, is the day I will I think Obama is sincere when he says things like that.

      1. And libertarians are terrorist suspects.

    3. How dare he! FOX should be able to imply that the president is a communist domestic terrorist 24/7 with impunity.

      1. Yeah they kind should Tony. It is called the 1st Amendment. The fact that you actually think your statement is humor (in order for it to be funny, you have to consider the idea that someone can say what they want about Obama with “impunity” to be rediculous or humorous) says all we really need to know about your world view.

        1. Didn’t mean they should be punished. But the president has free speech rights too.

          And FOX is really pushing the limits of free speech. I don’t think 24/7 radical rightwing propaganda broadcast to most all Americans was the founders’ idea of pragmatic democratic discourse.

          1. Re: Tony,

            And FOX is really pushing the limits of free speech.

            Translation:

            They’re sayin’ stuff I don’t like.

          2. Radical propaganda was the order of the day in the colonial presses. So no, you’re just completely wrong.

          3. I don’t think they were too keen on sodomy either, but we sort of took the freedom ball and ran with it, eh?

            1. You sodomized Tony?

          4. And FOX is really pushing the limits of free speech.

            Scratch a Liberal…

            -jcr

      2. Re: Tony,

        FOX should be able to imply that the president is a communist domestic terrorist 24/7 with impunity.

        Only Glenn Beck has implied that he’s a socialist radical, so it is not 24/7, and also, nobody has mentioned that he’s a terrorist – so far, only Nancy Pelosi and Janet Napolitano have imsinuated the Tea Party protestors and libertarians are domestic terrorists. Maybe you’re watching a different Fox News Channel nobody is aware of…

        1. OM,

          If he’s not a domestic terrorist where did I get that idea from? His own admitted history, current associations, policy and behavior?

          1. There’s guaranteed to be someone who rests my case in these parts.

            Pure delusional paranoia. A disturbing proportion of the American population cares more about their pet conspiracy theories over fact. It’s not surprising. Apparently math and science are also part of a communist plot so we might as well neglect it. Why don’t we just outsource basic rationality to developing countries along with everything else?

  3. I like the president’s call for better understanding between people who have different ideas, and I look forward to him embracing it more fully.

    Not comment.

  4. At times, it seems like we’re unable to listen to one another; to have at once a serious and civil debate.

    I love this. “I beat them and I beat them, yet they resist me. Why don’t those guys treat me nicer?”

    It’s a mystery.

  5. “Damn you Big Affirmative Action!”

  6. I for one call for greater incivility, like they do in the British or Japanese Parliment. I want egregious commentary about esteemed collegues drinking and womanizing! Fisticuffs! Open and robust booing and, perhaps, barking.

    1. As entertaining as brawling on the floor of the house would be, you know that they’d bus in SEIU and Blackwater goons to actually do the fighting. I’d only support this idea if you could guarantee that the politicians themselves would be in the ring.

      -jcr

  7. “Hey, all you evil bankers! I’m gonna need some more money so I can get re-elected… so, umm, just drop some in the hat. Hey, wait- you didn’t make a contribution. Where are you going? You forgot to put the money in the hat. So, you’ll take care of it later, I guess, right?

    “Right?

    “Right!?”

  8. But surely you can question my policies without questioning my faith, or, for that matter, my citizenship. (Laughter and applause.)

    This is a transcript of a damn prayer breakfast.

    There’s no occasion this asshole won’t use to shit on people, and his asshole fans revel in it.

    He can’t help himself. He’s fucked up. They’re fucked up.

  9. 6:5-6

    And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    1. Or. . . .

      Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.

      1. Or…

        Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

        1. Jesus wept.

          1. What’s your pleasure, sir?

          2. Then were the king’s scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language.

  10. “Challenging each other’s ideas can renew our democracy. But when we challenge each other’s motives, it becomes harder to see what we hold in common.”

    Says the guy who ascribed any and all opposition to his health care plan as being ginned up by the “special interest” evil insurance companies – including all the one’s he had acutally co-opted on the front end to support the Dem’s legislation.

  11. 1) Why wouldn’t a conservative pastor be “expected” to want to improve the country’s awful immigration system?

    Because all conservatives are racists. Duh

  12. “But surely you can question my policies without questioning my faith…”

    I guess that would be the “faith” that was taught in the good Rev Wright’s church where Obama spent twenty years and managed not to hear a single word of any of the looney tune stuff Wright was spouting.

    1. I’m pretty sure he’s referring to the persistent allegations that he is a closet Muslim, but YMMV.

  13. In summary, there continues to be some mismatch between dear leader’s actions and dear leader’s words.

    Yawn.

  14. God hates Obama.

    1. He’s below my pay grade.

  15. “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone…. Oh, fuck it, gimme a rock.”

  16. Obama loves the “Am I my brother’s keeper line”. A lot of nitwit pseudo religions liberals do. If you actually read Genesis (which few even religious liberals do) you find that “Am I my brother’s keeper” is the smart ass line that Cain gives to God when God wonders what the hell happened to Able. It doesn’t quite mean what they think it does.

    1. First thing we do is kill all the lawyers.

      1. Right. Though it annoys me when lawyers go out of their way to explain the the line didn’t mean what everyone thinks it means.

        As for Cain, yes, it is odd that people quote that.

        1. That the line. Sorry.

      2. Yeah. Or people who hold up Guy Fawkes as some kind of libertarian hero. “He was going to blow up Parliment Man”. He was actually the nitwit fall guy for a bunch of Catholic nobleman who wanted to re-establish Catholicism and the absolutely monarchy in England. In short, turn England into Capetian France. Real Libertarian there.

        1. Are libertarians pro-Guy Fawkes? How strange. I only knew that history due to my full-immersion dip into English culture via Paddington Bear.

          1. A few of the dumber ones are. You saw a little bit of it when V for Vengence came out. Blow up the Parliment on Guy Fawkes day that great hero of liberty.

          2. paddington bear was a terrorist?
            I always saw him as an immigrant made good.

        2. I don’t know, I think people can respect what he tried to do (kill a fuckload of politicians and make shit blow up good) while not sympathizing with his motivations.

    2. So his quote is a little twist of Cain.

    3. Comparing Obama to Nino Brown is racist.

  17. And libertarians are terrorist suspects.

    “He’s makin’ a list, and checkin’ twice, gonna find out who’s libertarian or nice.”

  18. My god reason will bitch about anything as long as it can smack Obama.

    Those poor wittle wepublicans just can’t get a break from this guy. He actually CALLS THEM OUT on their eye-rolling stupidity and hypocrisy. Meanwhile they’re still stoking suspicions in their undereducated base that he’s some kind of foreign usurper who wants to enslave them.

    Obama has been nothing but civil. Way too civil. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t call out nonsense when he sees it.

    1. That is right Tony. If he just would have declared a national emergency and started locking people in camps like you told him to, things would have worked out just fine.

    2. It’s just not funny anymore.

    3. Re: Tony,

      He actually CALLS THEM OUT on their eye-rolling stupidity and hypocrisy.

      Which entails to a queer and strange activity considering his detractors do not have the power – his own party has it.

      1. They should have power given their comparatively large majorities in Congress. But one essential chamber happens to be under minority rule at the moment.

        1. Which one? The white house?

  19. He actually CALLS THEM OUT on their eye-rolling stupidity and hypocrisy.

    And, as we all know, the absolute bestest way to demonstrate how eye-rollingly stupid a policy is, would be to continue it, with enhancements.

  20. How did Reason aquire a picture of Obama taking an especially difficult dump?

    1. *fap* *fap* *fap*

    2. That shot completely misses his grille.

  21. “Empowered by faith, consistently, prayerfully, we need to find our way back to civility.”

    Back in the good old days, didn’t they sometimes beat the shit out of each other with sticks? …right in the Senate chamber?

    I remember reading that Hamilton all but orchestrated a whispering campaign against Aaron Burr. …suggesting that he was in an incestuous relationship with his daughter.

    Yeah, back in the good ol’ days, politicians so civil, they’d settle their arguments by shooting at each other from ten paces!

    Obama’s quickly overtaking Clinton as the all time champion of double-talk…

    “It makes politics an all-or-nothing sport, where one side is either always right or always wrong when, in reality, neither side has a monopoly on truth. And then we lose sight of the children without food and the men without shelter and the families without health care.”

    Translation: I keep trying to be bipartisan, but the Republicans just won’t do what they’re told!

    I’ve been a principled non-voter since the second election of Bush the Lesser, but I theoretically I could be provoked to vote against you, Mr. President. God bless the opposition. …whatever the party. God bless gridlock. Our founding fathers were so freaking smart!

    1. They even owned newspapers for the primary reason of bashing their opponents. Remember that whenever the “fourth estate” starts crowing about their traditional place in American history.

    2. I think everyone should show up with barf bags to his next speech.

  22. That is the first time I have seen Welch post a picture without alt-text in a looong time. I blame the whiners from yesterday’s Obama-in-bling thread.

    1. Why did Welch de-bling Obama today?

  23. He also referred to a Navy Corpse-man. It was like he READ it wrong or something. The man is clueless IMO.

    1. Rush was saying today that at Harvard it is pronounced that way, for service members. I never heard this before, but it could be true and Rush usually does clue the listener in if things like that are jokes.

  24. All I know is when a leftist politician starts to whine about the lack of “civility” in politics you can be certain that lately he has been getting his ass handed to him in the Marketplace of Ideas.

  25. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a progressive who thought government could solve all problems

    Then why do they always have government as the solution? Progressives are like evil Talking Tina dolls:

    Poverty? Government!
    Pollution? Government!
    Gas prices? Government!
    Racism? Government!
    Housing bust? Government!
    Inflation? Government!
    School shootings? Government!
    Rachel Madow’s mustache? Government!

  26. [quote]I’m not sure I’ve ever met a progressive who thought government could solve all problems[/quote]
    I have.

    1. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a progressive who thought government could solve all problems
      I have.

  27. Matt:

    I like the president’s call for better understanding between people who have different ideas, too. But given his treatment of his political advisories over the past year, I think he should go first. He may just (again) be admonishing us to go along with his plan peacefully. I’ll wait and see.

    About your “uncivil observations” ? I am amused that you believe a compassionate person should be “expected” to see things your way

    1. Illegal Immigrants come to the country voluntarily ? they were not dragged against their will like the slaves from early days. Of course they miss their families ? separation from loved ones is always hard. But it was their choice. Pastors may very well have compassion for them. But why wouldn’t pastors also have compassion for the lower income citizens / legal residents who may loose their jobs when too many unskilled workers come to compete for work? Or compassion for the over-taxed middle income parishioners who will foot the bill for the social services the government demands they provide to the new self-selected low income immigrants? (The REAL problem with immigration is the Social Welfare System we have in place. We can have open borders or we can have a strong Welfare System. To try to have both will destroy us all. Why wouldn’t a pastor see this?)

    2. Global Warming Policy? I assume you mean AGW ? which you seem to accept on faith is a fact, and I do not. (Al Gore notwithstanding, that human activity is causing grievous harm to the climate has NOT been proven). Also, many of those pushing for ‘redistributionist’ policies to offset this coming ‘disaster’ stand to gain from these policies in discomforting ways. Wouldn’t a thinking pastor be concerned about the terrible economic cost to be borne by his parishioners in an effort to offset a ‘problem’ that has not been proven? (Be a gentle as a dove and as wise as a serpent ? I believe Matthew 10:16 tells us)

  28. And FOX is really pushing the limits of free speech. I don’t think 24/7 radical rightwing propaganda broadcast to most all Americans was the founders’ idea of pragmatic democratic discourse.

    “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”

    You don’t have a fucking clue about the “limits” of free speech envisioned in the Constitution, do you, Tony? Those “limits” said Congress couldn’t pass any laws limiting free speech.

    So, yes, they would have been fine with Fox News pushing right wing talking points, and most of the MSM pushing left wing talking points, and Reason pushing libertarian POVs, and …

  29. While recognizing that the Evangelical shift toward global warming policy is a real and newsworthy event

    And wholly unsurprising. Why does everyone find it curious that staunchly religious types are drawn to a religious issue?

  30. Regarding Uncivil Observations #1 and #2:

    Yes, Mr. Welch, your minimal knowledge of organized religion leads you to perfectly good conclusions about how it *should* behave were following core the tenets of the faith. That you point this out suggests that maybe you’ve not noticed that a considerable slice of “conservative” Christianity has for some time been acting as a propaganda arm of the xenophobic, anti-environmentalist right? Global warming denial, diatribes about “tree huggers”, anti-immigrant screeds, these are all things that sadly have come from the pulpit. Obama is correct to note a hopeful sea change among the conservative and evangelical factions.

  31. Paul: Please tell, how is global warming policy a “religious issue”?

    I’ll Drive: When was the last time you actually attended a church? Your post says a lot more about where your head.

  32. Lily: Last weekend. What’s your point, again?

  33. My point is that you seem to hold the most negative and harsh view of Christians. I am a long-time, regular church attendee, and I don’t know many (any?) people who fit your description.

    “considerable slice of “conservative” Christianity has for some time been acting as a propaganda arm of the xenophobic, anti-environmentalist right? Global warming denial, diatribes about “tree huggers”, anti-immigrant screeds, these are all things that sadly have come from the pulpit.”

    Isn’t interesting that people call out christians for being hateful and narrow-minded in the most hateful and narrow-minded ways?

    1. I sympathize with your assumption that what I said was intended as negative toward Christians in general. I can understand sensitivity to people lumping all Christians together, because I encounter it all the time. I am lumped with bigoted, pushy people that have convinced others that Christians are an ignorant, intolerant, hateful lot. I spend a fair amount of time trying to convince them by the example of my life that it isn’t true.

      Be that as it may, I stand by my initial comments because I have heard plenty of hateful, anti-scientific, politically-charged, xenophobic rhetoric from the pulpits of Midwestern churches for a good part of my life. If honestly describing what I see makes me hateful and narrow-minded, then so be it.

  34. Honestly, I have almost never heard “hateful, anti-scientific, politcally charged, xenophobic rhetoric” come from the pulpit. And, having moved a great deal, I’ve been in a lot of different churches.

    Most of the pastors I’ve heard are thoughtful, well educated men (and women). These people understand life is not so simple – and therefore one cannot make too many simple judgements (ie – a compassionate person would be ‘expected’ to support AGW legislation).

    Narrow-mindedness and judgement are not christian things – they are a HUMAN things and are seen in all types of people in all locations.

    You state that you are ‘honstely describing what I see’. But this perplexes me. I think you see what you want to see.

    1. I’m afraid we have really gotten off on the wrong foot because we do seem to be arguing for a very similar point of view, though you seem quick to judge what I think and/or have experienced. I was careful not to come to hasty conclusions about your beliefs, for example judging that perhaps you only find these pastors “thoughtful” and “well-educated” because they confirm your own biases, i.e. that you “see what you want to see”. If you can’t afford me the same respect, then we don’t have much further to discuss.

      I am grateful for the church I attend now largely because I am no longer exposed to the kind of things I criticized above. I don’t think they are characteristic of Christians at large, and I am circumspect even about naming specific churches or denominations because I try to avoid tarring all with the same brush. Within even small church groups you will find varieties of views. However, if you don’t believe that hateful rhetoric emits from some limbs of the body of believers (lets leave alone judgments over whether those who hate can really be believers) then I can only consider you extremely blessed in your experiences.

      1. I think I have taken the approached I did due almost exclusively to your “screed” against conservative christians. You tell me – Oh look, I wasn’t harsh and judgemental about YOU. But you were about a large group of people – and unfairly, I think, painting them all with harsh judgement that is better reserved for the few that are actually guilty of your charges.

        1. All I can do is quote my original words. “A considerable slice” does not imply all or even a majority, it just says that there are a lot of narrow-minded people among the U.S. Christian community. Would you get so defensive if I said the same thing about “liberals”?

  35. My reason for entering the conversation was to point out that just because a person / church / group is seeking to be caring and compassionate, does not mean that they should be ‘expected’ to see things your way – or Matt Welsh’s way.

    Thoughtful and caring people can disagree either with your point of view or with your ideas for remedy. Their disagreement does not necessarily make them hateful or anti-scientific etc. Do you allow room for disagreement and difference of opinion – can honorable people disagree about fundamental ideas?

    BYW, I note that you started out saying “a considerable slice of conservative Christians….” and now are saying “I don’t think they are characteristic of Christians at large”. Are you conceding that the people you describe are likely in the minority of Christians?

    1. Just clarified above what I thought was a reasonable parse of “considerable slice”. To answer your direct question: minority, yes, but not a small enough one in my opinion.

      Honorable people can certainly disagree about fundamental ideas, but there are also ideas that are not honorable and there is no reason to tolerate them in the name of open-mindedness or respect for religion.

      1. So what ideas do the “not small enough” christian population hold that you find so intolerable?

        1. Yikes – that was too broad a question – let me amend it. Matt Welsh brings up the topic of AGW and Immigration – are these the topics you where find disagreement intolerable?

          Or do you conceed that skeptisim about AGW or disagreement about our boarders and immigration are topics about which honorable people can disagree?

          Do compassionate people have to agree with your polical view or agree about the appropriate roll for governement in the lives of its citizens before they get your stamp of approval as non-hateful people?

          1. No.
            Yes. (if you remove the false dichotomy)
            No.

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