And Meanwhile, Down in Washington…

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Our nation’s capital was jammed with people demanding sanity yesterday and many of them came from our area, including co master-of-ceremonies Montclair Sunday school teacher Stephen Colbert, Montclair realtor Adriana O’Toole and Glen Ridge improv queen Deborah Maclean. And then there was Team Bloomfield, which included Anne Prince and Mimi Michalski, who sent pictures back to Baristanet. Michalski, speaking for the team, wrote this:

Team Bloomfield had a great time at the rally – the weather was perfect, the crowd was polite, the entertainment was entertaining, and the message was clear. Let’s get rid of partisan, 24/7 fear mongering and get back to real journalism. In addition, I’d like to add – BE SURE TO VOTE on NOVEMBER 2nd.

Later, she wrote more:

The rally seemed to attract a truly like-minded crowd full of people who really did feel as if things have gone way too far beyond insane in politics. Jon Stewart’s main message, based on his final speech, was that the 24/7, all-hype all the time, news media is doing us a disservice; that most Americans are willing and able to compromise in order to get things done. He used the example of a stream of traffic gradually narrowing down to one lane to get through a tunnel – no matter what their beliefs, they are all just trying to get to their jobs and get things done, and they are able to give a little in order to get a little.

A lot of great points were made – that just because people of Muslim descent happened to be the terrorists who blew up the Towers, doesn’t mean all Muslims are terrorists. That individuals should be considered, not groups.

The guest stars were all great, the music was too. It was a huge crowd. I’ve never gone to something like this before, so can’t judge, but it sure looked like an immense number of people attended this rally. There were people for peace, people for irony, people who were pro-Democrat, people who were pro-nonpartisan. It was all good. Everyone was polite and no one littered as far as I could see (a special request from Jon Stewart). We wre thrilled to see and hear the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens (now called Yusef) sing “Peace Train.” There were a lot of amazing musical acts and the crowd enjoyed it all.

Photos by Mimi Michalski.

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71 COMMENTS

  1. I’m still waiting for someone to tell me to what point in American history these libs are hoping to restore themselves to?

    A Middle School education will prove that American politics are tame compared to our past.

    Simply: When was there sanity in American politics? Even leaving out how dumb this idea is in light of our “Sane” past that featured pol taxes, segregation, literacy tests requirement for voting, etc. I’m at a loss.

    But what a day for free bus ride to a comedy/music show in DC.

  2. Perhaps sanity in politics is a quaint idea, oh professorial one,
    but to behold generic looking people proudly carrying posters sporting Obama disguised as Hitler, is to behold insanity.

  3. Oh, and regarding the rally, I thought it was fine until ultimate hater Yusuf Islam received star treatment.

    Cat Stevens died and was replaced by an apologist for evil. Hearing him sing a song connected to “Peace” is as discordant a non sequitur as hearing Mark Levin railing about “Liberty” — neither man should be connected with such words.

  4. I agree.

    A rally to “restore sanity” to politics promotes someone who agrees with a death-fatwa because of the author’s book?

  5. Whatsup,
    Don’t worry
    your team is on a come back tour.
    The problem is that you don’t get the gold ring
    Just a hardy handclasp and a photo op.

  6. Thanks for posting that link, Whatsup. People have short attention spans…how quickly they forget. I’ll be at the polls bright and early on Nov. 2 doing some House cleaning.

  7. Whatsupwiththat, thanks for posting that link. This is just the kind of thing Jon Stewart was decrying – on BOTH sides. He showed clips of both the right and the left saying nasty things. And many of my fellow liberals seem to forget the horrible things that many on the left said and did against Bush. I was no fan of the man, but the pictures in the link you posted were horrible and hateful. Yet many on the left forget that or actually say it’s different because Bush really was a war criminal. To me there is no justification for showing either Bush or Obama with a simulated bullet hole through the head.

    As for Cat Stevens/Yusuf, I’m doing some research on him and from what I can tell so far he is a philanthropist and a peaceful man, that the whole fatwa thing may have been taken out of context. I’ll be posting on my blog about it in a day or two once I learn more.

  8. Ny times:

    The musician known as Cat Stevens said in a British television program to be broadcast next week that rather than go to a demonstration to burn an effigy of the author Salman Rushdie, ”I would have hoped that it’d be the real thing.”

    “The singer, who adopted the name Yusuf Islam when he converted to Islam, made the remark during a panel discussion of British reactions to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call for Mr. Rushdie to be killed for allegedly blaspheming Islam in his best-selling novel ”The Satanic Verses.” He also said that if Mr. Rushdie turned up at his doorstep looking for help, ”I might ring somebody who might do more damage to him than he would like.”

    ”I’d try to phone the Ayatollah Khomeini and tell him exactly where this man is,” said Mr. Islam, who watched a preview of the program today and said in an interview that he stood by his comments.”

  9. Mimi, the fatwa thing was not taken out of context at all, as he made such statements repeatedly in response to questions from the press. It’s very well documented.

  10. That may be the case but he now seems to deny it on his website. Perhaps he is being disengenous and hopes people have short memories; or perhaps he has rethought his beliefs since that time. That is what I meant about looking into it further – what he said nearly 20 years ago may not reflect his thoughts now.

  11. “Kumbayah, Lord, Kumbayah. Oh, Lordy, Kumbayah…”

    The only — I repeat: THE ONLY — good thing that will come out of Tuesday’s election is that the campaigning will be over, however briefly, and we will no longer be subjected to this deluge of misinformation, innuendo, mud, and out-and-out horse-puckey that has dominated television. (I never thought that I would look forward to another Leaky Bladder commercial.) I have therefore made an executive decision to only vote for anyone who did not call any one of my three unlisted phone numbers: as a result, I am sleeping in on Tuesday.

    And, did anyone else find the David Stockman piece on “60 Minutes”
    last night just a tad bit ironic? Here is the heart of the madness: “We DEMAND More Services with Fewer Taxes!” Sorry, Charlie, but that is a multiple-choice question.

  12. I’m with you there, Conan, re: the robocalls. I came into work today and discovred 4 robo messages and I don’t even vote in New York! How the heck did they even get my work number? The only people who have this number are clients, media people and my husband! One woman even called twice. Very annoying. I understand the campaigning part but at least make the effort and have a real hyooman bean make the calls.

  13. I guess it could be worse, Nellie, they could be rining doorbells.

    And don’t get me started about the lawn signs. If someone wants a sign on their lawn, fine, but one of my neighbors found a sign on his lawn that he did not request, it was just put there. And if you drive by any exit ramps or road dividers you see scores of ’em and you will find them there way after the election is over.

  14. The rally looked fun. Sanity prevailed for me and we chose not to go. As to the first poster questioning the notion that their used to be more sanity in politics… Sure, if you go way way back you get a lot of insanity, but a) listen to the LBJ recordings (they’re probably up on c-span, and b) read this: https://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/09/100809fa_fact_packer (if the link doesn’t work, it’s George Packer’s recent article about the senate in the New Yorker). It’s head-in-the-sand to think that partisanship isn’t at an all-time debilitating high and NOT in the form intended by the framers.

  15. “It’s head-in-the-sand to think that partisanship isn’t at an all-time debilitating high and NOT in the form intended by the framers.”

    Too true. Too true. One of the framers (Aaron Burr) shot and killed another of the framers (Alexander Hamilton) in a duel (in Weehawken) over a political ad in the New York gubernatorial race of 1804.

  16. The call for less partisanship is just a whine, comfort. Feh. One man’s “bitter partisanship” is another’s “principled dissent”. After all it was only a few years ago lefties were saying “dissent is the highest form of patriotism”.

    There has always been and will always be bitter partisanship in politics. It’s the nature of democracy.

    It’s time to grow up comfortstarr.

  17. So, ROC, you are comfortable with the current level? As opposed, say, to the 50s-60s-70s and even early 80s? You’re comfortable with the way government currently functions? Did you read the article I linked to?

  18. Like perennial complaints about “the youth of today” being worse than ever in some ways (respect for others, violent tendencies, lack of industry, etc.), the idea that political discourse is at an all-time low is always popular, yet pretty much impossible to say based on anything other than emotional response to current events being stronger than events in the past.

    Does nobody recall the anti-Goldwater “daisy” ads? The ranting that Bill Clinton was actually responsible for political murder? Democrats’ shouting that welfare reform would result in children starving in the streets? The mowing down of demonstrators during the Vietnam war? The beatings and imprisonment of Socialists in the first half of the 1900’s? The (*#$@^% CIVIL WAR?

    Don’t let your emotions cloud your view of history.

  19. ” You’re comfortable with the way government currently functions? ”

    No, but I don’t blame it on partisanship or rancor. I blame it on the statist-big-government policies of the past 70 or so years.

  20. ” even early 80s”

    Really? People HATED Reagan with a burning passion, that’s what I remember. The HATED Carter too. All kinds of terrible things were said. Again I say Feh!

  21. Again, there are numerous discussions about how congress has changed and how the interactions between members are completely different than they were 20-30 years ago. The article I linked to was just one example.

    Partisanship around policy is a good and necessary thing, but when it deters the operations of government, it’s a useless thing. Someone mentioned the David Stockton piece on 60 minutes, and while it was sort of like hearing Idi Amin decry the level of violence in Rwanda, one of his points was on point. There is now a doctrine in place, within both parties around taxation (this was the point of the story, but taxation is only one example). Adherence to doctrine trumps all discussion and potential compromise. It’s a bad thing. I feel it’s clearly at an all-time-high, but even if I’m wrong, it’s still bad.

  22. “Partisanship around policy is a good and necessary thing, but when it deters the operations of government, it’s a useless thing.”

    Translation:

    “talk all you want as long as you have no effect.”

    Feh!

    MY number one hope at the moment is that politicians legally “deter the operations of government”.

  23. Then this discussion with you is just an exercise in futility. It’s like arguing tariff policy with anarchist. No matter how much evidence I present, your doctrine prevents you from considering it.

  24. “evidence” in the form of what precisely? False claims of a less partisan past? A New Yorker opinion piece?

    Please.

    Congress represents the current spirit of the day. The electorate is polarized thus the congress is polarized. All this handwringing is just denial. It’s a false hope that the “problem” is in the form of the discussion and not in the actual issues themselves. I don’t believe that. The issues are polarizing in themselves. Big-government statism is on the verge of collapse. It will do so in a fairly ugly way. The ONLY grassroots movement I see (fo good or ill) is the Tea Party. We’re about to see a hugh Republican gain in the House. This isn’t so much an endorsement in Republican policy as an utter rejection of Statist Democratic policies. What people really want is smaller and less activist government.

    I actually think this is the GOP’s last chance. If they just swap the “brand” of earmarks and spending they’ll be right back out on their asses and the Tea Party will become an actual political party.

    I actually have faith in the electorate as corny as that sounds. If people are not happy with their government they will eventually put it right. Some will start grass roots political movements and some will “check out” of the process because of how “ugly” it is, reassuring themselves of their own superiority and (useless) “moderation” along the way.

  25. While I’m guessing you’ll decree him as a partisan hack, here’s a summary of a study done by Larry Bartels on presidential election voting patterns (it only goes up through ’96, but I seriously doubt the trend has abated:

    “Using probit regression to measure the effects of partisanship on votes, Bartels finds a steady increase from 1972 to 1996 and shows that the 1996 levels are 77% higher than in 1972 and 15-20% higher than the levels of the 1950’s. More than any time within the past 50 years, voters are voting in correlation with their partisan preference. While this is based in part on changes in Southern voting patterns, Bartels notes that it is evident in a wide variety of subgroups in the electorate. He finds similar (but not as significant or steady) increases at the Congressional level.

    While this measure has varied through elections, it has increased significantly from 1978-1996. Bartels provides evidence that this increase is due to an increased sense of differentiation among the parties in the era of Reagan, Newt Gingrich (and Bill Clinton). He also ties it to the changing voting patterns of Congressmen and other politicians in the wake of changes in the composition of parties. As the Democratic party in the South collapsed, there were increasingly strong distinctions between the parties. These changes have been noticed by NES respondents at increasing levels since 1980.”

    To be clear, I don’t really care all that much about partisanship in voting–but it exists and is on the rise. I think the big vs. small government is also a red-herring. What I’m arguing for is effective government. Assuming you’re not so much the libertarian that you believe in no publicly financed and operated services outside of the military, don’t you want a government that works? If you do, you’d be discouraged with the current climate.

  26. To bemoan the Senate not getting things done is to presume that a productive legislature is per se a “good thing.”

    I have yet to see evidence that clearly proves that premise one way or the other.

  27. “More than any time within the past 50 years, voters are voting in correlation with their partisan preference. ”

    And what’s wrong with that? I vote my personal ideology. If that means 95% of the time the Republican candidate you’d label me a partisan.

    “What I’m arguing for is effective government.”

    I totally agree. Nearly every reasonable person in America would say the same. Many of us also think a too big a government can never be effective. That’s the rub.

    But what is a total waste of time is whining about how we conduct politics rather than the actions taken. Really its just the same old sour grapes of any failing political movement of the moment “it’s not fair! They won’t give our ideas a chance!”

  28. p.s.

    The whining crosses political lines. Back a few years ago when Democrats were bravely “speaking truth to power” the GOP was full of “effective government and those lousy obstructionist democrats” whining.

  29. You are (or at least were) positing that the level of partisanship is the same now as it always has been. I’m saying it’s not (both in the electorate and within government). You said the article I linked to was an “opinion” piece. So I found, in 1 minute or so of googling, the result of an honest to goodness study that shows, at least in the electorate, partisanship seems to be on the rise.

    Your assertion that all is sour-grapes is, obviously, a generalization, based on what I don’t know. I, for example, will accept compromise from my elected officials in the name of generally positive policy results. That’s what, in fact, I expect.

    It’s funny that you think “whining about how” government is conducted is a waste of time. I suppose that would’ve kept you out of those early bitch-fests Jefferson and those guys held around the constitution?

  30. gosh comfort. You are drifting into ad homonym’s aren’t you? Becoming what you decry, eh?

    I’d maintain that “how we conduct politics” is not equivalent to “how government is conducted”. Perhaps you equate politics with government. I don’t. I suspect you realize that but couldn’t resist the punch line you’d concocted.

    See how it works now?

  31. “You are (or at least were) positing that the level of partisanship is the same now as it always has been.”

    Another misstatement. Are all your arguments predicated on such? Not the “same now as it has always been” but no worse now that it has been in the past. After all, at the very least NY Gubernatorial candidates are not having a duel in Weehawken. Though I grant you, I imagine it has actually crossed the mind of Carl Palidino.

  32. “Not the “same now as it has always been” but no worse now that it has been in the past.”

    Please explain this. Are you saying that no matter the level of partisanship present in the electorate or government, it’s no worse than it ever has been?

  33. “Are you saying that no matter the level of partisanship present in the electorate or government, it’s no worse than it ever has been?”

    Currently? Yes. Well, until the second civil war erupts, and 620,000 + 1 Americans are killed, I suppose.

  34. Sorry, my question was unclear. Are you saying that no matter the level of partisanship present in the electorate or government, THE IMPACT of it is no worse than it ever has been? Which could mean that you’d accept that there’s more it, just that it doesn’t matter.

  35. I’d say that there is really no legitimate way to measure the level of partisanship. And even if you could there is nothing you can do about it. So discussions (or corporate sponsored
    “sanity” rallies) about it are useless. Polarization begets partisanship. We have period of higher polarization in the country when the way forward is uncertain. And we have periods of less polarization when times are better. You might as well rail against the earth’s orbit, for all the good it will do you.

  36. Clearly we’re arguing orthogonal points. I’d suggest you at least read the piece I linked to which you deemed “opinion.” I’d be surprised if you still say “whatever” in regards to how our government functions after reading that.

  37. I did read it. It’s about gaming senate rules for partisan benefit. Something, again, which has been part of the senate picture since its founding.

    Again, so what?

    If the Senate’s rules are used to thwart an action, some will see it as cynical gaming of the system and others will see it as “protection of the minority’s rights”.

    Feh! Again.

  38. Comfortstarr, that article (which I read in its entirety) consists of a collection of anecdotes that show our Senators to be a flock of lazy, intellectually incurious, popinjays who game the system. What it says about our government “functioning” is very little. In fact, the article itself revolves around a MASSIVE legislative achievement — the passage of the health care overhaul — which, if you’re measuring whether the legislative branch “works,” shows that it somehow works in spite of the milquetoasts and incompetents with which it is populated.

    Our government works very well at maintaining and increasing its scope. Excessive partisanship really isn’t new at all.

  39. Well, I disagree with your assessment of the article, but that’s cool. I can’t, however, see how anyone can say that the level or amount (forget whether or not its good or bad) of partisanship is the same as it ever was (at least in the last 50-60 years). With the disintegration of the democratic party in the south alone you have a cause and symptom of partisanship on the rise.

    I’d like to see studies that show, say, the amount of bipartisan legislation passed over that time period (it would, obviously, have to be weighted somehow around the import of each law passed). Or a study that showed that voter mobility between parties had not increased. Those could possibly dissuade me, but the knee jerk response of “it’s always been this way,” especially in the face of some studies that show differently, just doesn’t do it.

  40. “I’d like to see studies that show, say, the amount of bipartisan legislation passed over that time period ”

    Again. So what either way? In times of polarization laws passed will be less bipartisan and in times of less polarization then the obverse.

    The “knee jerk” reaction seems to me to be the assumption that bipartisan legislation is somehow better.

    Frankly, the LESS legislation passed either way the BETTER if you ask me.

  41. “Can’t we have a return to the good ole days when Ronald Regan and Tip O”Neill were friends after 6pm?”

    More chance of that kind of thing with divided government Kevin. Vote for Stratton!

  42. “More chance of that kind of thing with divided government Kevin. Vote for Stratton!”

    I assume, however, that you don’t think such fraternization is beneficial to the operations of government.

  43. I don’t care who talks to who or who is a friend or not.

    In your striving for civility and a better political discourse, comfort are you trying to fit me into a stereotype?

  44. Huh? My assumption was solely based on your preceding statements in this thread. I’m merely trying to get a hold on your objection to the stated goals of that rally.

    From what you’ve written, it seems you believe that civility (and I would have to assume all that it engenders: respect for other ideas, willingness to listen, ability to compromise for a greater good), or lack thereof, in the halls of government has no bearing on the ability of government to, well, govern. I find that a fascinating opinion.

    I’m curious if you believe the same holds true for other institutions, like businesses.

  45. “From what you’ve written, it seems you believe that civility (and I would have to assume all that it engenders: respect for other ideas, willingness to listen, ability to compromise for a greater good), or lack thereof, in the halls of government has no bearing on the ability of government to, well, govern”

    I don’t think it does. Often the truth only comes out with a vicious challenge – like in a courtroom, for example. Obviously rules of order must be maintained for the process to work in the deliberative body (and they are).

    In general I’d fear a Senate which were all buddies more than a Senate full of people who hate each other.

  46. “In general I’d fear a Senate which were all buddies more than a Senate full of people who hate each other.”

    And we come to the second topic of the Stewart-Colbert thing…

    But I’m too tired.

  47. “And we come to the second topic of the Stewart-Colbert thing…”

    Ah another mocking jibe! Not that there is anything wrong with that. Makes the conversation fun. But isn’t it interesting you can’t practice what you preach even on the smallest of scales? It’s easy to be civil with people you agree with. But outside that bubble you’re just as snippy as anyone else. (again, nothing wrong with that).

  48. What exactly did I mock? The rally was was about sanity and fear right? Those were the avowed topics (I don’t think that’s debatable). Your sentence was fairly straightforward as well and neatly segued us from one of the rally’s topics to the next.

Comments are closed.