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Letters & Comments, January 31, 2008

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"[People] believe what they believe, they support who or what they support, and no amount of reason or evidence is going to change that."

Reporting Is Hardly a Hobby

Comment on "Citizen Journalism: A Field Day for the Flacks?" by Michael Miner, Hot Type, January 24

kc:

Bingo: "The Triblocal.com kind of citizen journalism has at least one conspicuous defect—nothing gets written about unless somebody feels like doing the writing."

That's the nub of the whole "citizen journalism" issue. I recently saw a screed where a commenter posted that newspapers were doomed "because of all the volunteers" in cyberspace waiting to write the same articles.

Newspapers may, in fact, be doomed but trust me on this: no, they won't. No one goes to a town council or sewer-board meeting, then turns around and reports on it, for fun. Even in local sports, which would seem to be ideal for "citizen journalism" reports, it only rarely happens. Then it stops as soon as the team drops two in a row.

There's a reason people get paid to do this stuff. Because it won't happen otherwise.

Why We Fight?

Comments on "Sympathy for the Devil?" by Harold Henderson, January 24

White Male, Jew of Liberal Fascism:

Rick Perlstein: "I have always admired conservatives for their political idealism, acumen, stalwartness, and devotion. I have also admired some of their ideas—especially the commitment to distrusting grand social schemes, and the deep sense of the inherent flaws in human nature."

OK, well said. But I believe that liberals share these same values.

When I hear "commitment to distrusting grand social schemes" I think of Enron's track record delivering electricity in California rather than the TVA's record of delivering electricity . . . and even more so with Enron's track record in controlling water!

And look at the current subprime mess and tell me that the stock market isn't a taxpayer-subsidized social scheme!

Liberals also share the "deep sense of the inherent flaws in human nature" but we look at history and choose to believe that despite all the terrible pitfalls of human nature (war, slavery, racial prejudice, poverty, ignorance, etc) history shows that, yes, progress IS possible!

truth machine:

"OK, well said. But I believe that liberals share these same values."

Well, liberals have these values, but I'm not so sure conservatives, except for their belief in the flaws in human nature—except in their own nature or the nature of those who agree with them. Point out any flaw of Bush to a conservative, and they will deny deny deny.

Political idealism? No, they are political opportunists who craft their political ideology to meet their self-interest. Distrust grand social schemes? How about capitalism, free markets, America as the sole superpower, Rove's one-party system, government-enforced social conservatism, and on and on. Above all else, conservatives want everyone to be just like them and think they can achieve that by force.

Len:

Great article. As a cynic, and as a "misanthropic humanist," I found much to admire. A few comments:

(1) Most people are incorrigible where politics are concerned. They believe what they believe, they support who or what they support, and no amount of reason or evidence is going to change that.

(2) Progress in this country depends (to a depressing degree) not in reasoned argument or in learning from past mistakes; progress depends on giving at least 51% of the population the right combination of hope and fear to manipulate them into voting for their best interests.

(3) Conservatives, in the main, cannot be reasoned with. They aren't stupid (for the most part), they're just hopelessly misguided cowards.

nikkos:

Mr. Perlstein's work is a challenge to us all to understand and accept the fact that as much as we may fear and despise members of the opposing political party, we do indeed share this country and that we must find ways in which to live together. To do so is not to "transcend" partisan politics, but rather, to understand that at its heart, democracy requires compromise.

Figbash:

Before the Storm is an excellent, excellent read. Can't wait for Nixonland to come out. Perlstein gets it and he explains it clearly and thoroughly.

I'm an aging hippie and well remember, and have always regretted and never understood, voting for Goldwater in '64, my first presidential election. What the hell was I thinking, anyway? I, who marched around the Post Office in Iowa City, Iowa in 1963, standing in solidarity with the civil rights movement, voted for Goldwater?? And how in hell did Goldwater end up being the Republican nominee anyway?

Before the Storm gave me the answer to my decades-long question. (The answer is right up there at the beginning of this story. I don't remember the book but I remember the rebellion against authority and the status quo.)

Oh, and P.S., this all goes to show that I was a part of the 60s as I clearly don't remember much of it.

What You Don't Use Now May Save Us All Later

Comment on "Going Green Without Going Broke" by Mike Sula, Omnivorous, January 17

Lorel:

Congrats to restaurateurs for attempting to go green. Why not, as some supermarkets do, promote the idea of patrons bringing their own *reusable* containers? Recycling & using biodegradables is a start, but we've really got to look more toward reducing and reusing. Note: This message is just as much for consumers as vendors.

About a Construct

Comment on "A Funny Kind of Tribute" by Jonathan Rosenbaum, Movies, November 22, 2007

AJ:

I don't think [Todd] Haynes was even interested in shedding any light on Dylan as an individual. He used Dylan's many media constructions as a vehicle for a postmodern meditation on the way we perceive the lives of public figures as a collection of symbols and narratives. His work is really more of a deconstuctive critique of the typical biopic than it is an honest attempt to depict Dylan's life.

I think it is a great success in that effort. It did feel a little hollow though and it was unable to capture the emotional power and intimacy of Dylan's most focused and introspective work. One of postmodernism's primary flaws is an inability to speak to an emotional human core beyond social constructions.

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