Reading and Writing – What I’m Reading and What’s Next Here

So, as noted, we were away and offline for a week, skiing at Mammoth Mountain here in California. All three boys joined TG and I, and it’s interesting – for those who have older children – to go through the dynamics of changing roles as children come visit and become guests.

All in all, a wonderful time, and I got to read a bunch of books, some of which will be the basis for posts over the next week or so. I also got to think a bit about what I want to do – what direction I want to take – with my blogging. Note that these plans last about long enough for events or new information to push me in new directions…

Here’s the reading list and then some ideas:
Two fiction books: “The Secret Society of Demolition Writers,” a short story collection, and “Two Trains Running,” a modern take on Dashiell Hammet’s great “Red Harvest” by Andy Vachss.

A couple of other books: “Run the Other Way,” by Wellstone/ Ventura/ Nader adman Bill Hillsman; “The Creation of the Media,” by Paul Starr; “From Oslo to Iraq,” by Edward Said, and “Critical Mass,” by Philip Ball.

I rescanned “Fourth Turning” as well.

They were all interesting and worth reading. As time permits, I’ll blog about them over the next little while.

I also thought a lot about what I wanted to do here for the next little while, inspired in part by the juxtaposition of Vachss’ picture of a corrupt, declining Midwestern city being fought over by rival gangs, and Hillsman’s sniping at what he calls “Elections Inc.” in his (admittedly self-serving) book on campaigns and advertising.

I think and have frequently said that the Democratic Party is as interested in maintaining the status quo as is the GOP; a status quo that simultaneously involves greater power for the state increasingly exercised on behalf of the powerful. The sociology of our political system is a part of the explanation of it; Schumpeter explains much of the rest.

This is not the only thing one could say about it, but it is, I believe a core truth. If it is true, the chorus of partisan hype raised by folks like Atrios, Yglesias, Armstrong and Kos is arguably as much about getting a seat at the table – becoming part of the well-paid machine – as it is about changing outcomes.

I think there is an audience for a different story, and a different future for the Democratic Party (the GOP, too, but that opportunity for change will have to wait until they are out of power for a while). I’d like to noodle a bit about what that future might look like and how we might get there.

One of the issues we will have to address head-on is the rise of virulent anti-Western action and belief, both within the West and outside it.

Part of it involves addressing the arguments that are launched by the Saids and Juan Coles of the world, and presenting counter arguments that are solid enough to survive and thrive in the ecology of ideas. I think I (and others) have presented glosses on those arguments, but haven’t yet drilled deep enough into history and ideas and brought the arguments up to the light of day.

So that’s the plan…I’m interested in folks’ thoughts and comment, as always.

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