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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

 
*This post will stay at the top of the page for a while.  Please scroll down for newer material.


Watching the freak show featuring George Carlin and Rick Perlstein

by digby




Annual holiday fundraiser:



Back when I first started blogging, pseudonymously, I wrote a lot about the history of conservatism as a child of the 60s and 70s. And for some reason it caught the attention of the premier historian of the era, Rick Perlstein. He chased me down and squeezed the information out of me, pretty much forcing to give up my real story to him and in the process becoming a close friend. We bonded over our shared understanding of the right wing, his born of scholarship, mine born of family and first person observation. He even referenced me very kindly in the acknowledgements of his blockbuster history Nixonland, an honor for which I'll always be grateful.

The American right wing is a subject I find endlessly fascinating. And unlike some of my liberal colleagues I believe it to be a timeless and permanent fixture of the American political landscape, its individual characteristics swinging between the twin poles of racism and money. It's the yang to liberalism's ying (which has it's own set of pathologies.) I had always known this, having grown up in a family headed by a rock-ribbed conservative. But it wasn't until I read early excerpts of Nixonland that it fully gelled for me. What I had assumed to be a liberal consensus (even living within a conservative home) never actually existed. An era of liberal dominance, yes, consensus, no. Indeed, we never have a real political consensus in this country. It is always a tug-of-war between the two competing political visions on which this country was founded. It's true that the tug-of-war can pull the country pretty far in one direction --- like into a civil war, for instance. But it's never "settled." The American character is defined by the battle.

I suppose a lot of people know that, but I don't see much of that understanding in political or media circles. For them it's either vacuous conflation of their own class solidarity with "bipartisanship" or a full-blown delusion of a national concurrence. For peace-loving liberals especially it's terribly important that we do understand the nature of the fight --- by failing to realize that this is a constant battle, and strategizing accordingly, the nation gets dragged farther and farther to the right by members of both parties.

That's a big part of what I'm trying to do with my writing. We follow the day to day, of course. This is an immediate medium. But we also try to put these events in some historical context, both ancient and recent, serving as a form of institutional memory.

I found this Nieman piece from this morning quite interesting considering what I was planning to write about today:
My prediction isn’t particularly snazzy. It doesn’t require drones or sensors or wearables. It gets back to common sense, highlighting our role as an industry in creating informed citizens. 2014 will be the year of contextualization.

News organizations have so far been bad at contextualizing information. We publish articles on a 24-hour news cycle and expect readers to figure out how to connect the dots on their own. We use one sentence near the top of a story to rehash concepts we may have covered at length in previous articles. Rarely do readers follow a story from the beginning — but when they jump in at the middle, we don’t help guide them through what they’ve missed.
That's what I try to do. I've been doing it seven days a week on this blog for over ten years. And I'd dearly love to keep doing it. If you think this is a valuable contribution to your understanding of our culture, our politics and our history I hope you will consider throwing a little something this way to help keep the doors open.






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