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Weekend Bloggerback
Best of Blogs Round-Up: February 25-26, 2006

Non-disclaimer: We're liberal to the core, but we include in this daily blog review the political, the social, the cultural and the undefinable from the left, the right, the in-between from all over the globe. And we're suckers for good writing regardless of ideology. Clicking the link will take you to the original post.

 

Featured Blog I: CNN Ticker
Larry King Blind

It is with a certain amount of remorse, dear reader, that we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” rip into today’s object of contumely. For although, as you shall see anon, there are many reasons to contemn the talk show host Larry King, we must admit that we have a little bit of respect for him. After all, this gangly, dilapidated 104-year-old has somehow managed to marry a 30-something lass. To be sure, we have never laid eyes on Mr. King’s newest woman; she may look just like Medusa. Or, even worse, Madeline Albright. Even so, we can’t help but feel a bit of pride that this old timer has managed to grab himself such a comparatively youngish lady. But let’s not kid ourselves too much: Larry King is certainly an irritant. He may be the least irksome presence on CNN, but, with a cast of characters as fiendish as Wolf Blitzer, Paula Zahn, and Lou Dobbs, that isn’t much of a compliment. Read the rest at the Hatemonger's Quarterly...

 

Featured Blogger II: Augie March, the Sequel
On the Internet No One Knows You're a (Singing) Dog

Thanks, folks, for all the nice comments about my music - including the ones that that truly were LOL. Just a few things before once again scooting back, more or less, into the closet.

I sent Digby the Times review and he asked if he could mention it. I said it was fine with me. The main reason I don't write more about what I do is that I'm really not trying to promote my musical career in my blogging.* It's not that I'm above promotion; no one is. Even Stravinsky was shameless when it came to hyping his work. It's rather that it seems like a blog is the wrong place to flack external reputations.

For me, the most interesting aspect of blogging has nothing to do with anyone's accomplishments but rather the present quality of their thought and the extent of their knowledge. While it is much less true now than it was in the olden days five years ago, it is still the case that prior reputation counts for much less in the blogosphere than it does Out There. You are read, or not read, based entirely on your ability to persuade from post to post. And in order to be persuasive, not only must you be a decent writer, but you damn well better know how to back up your assertions with convincing, relevant, links. Whether you've got a doctorate in political science from Stanford or are an 11 year old afraid to come out of your bedroom really is besides the point.

That is how it should be. If it does anything, blogging can make hash of the rhetorical fallacy of appealing to authority. One's authority as a blogger, to the extent anyone has any, comes entirely from the merit of the posts. And that is wonderful. You don't read Josh Marshall's blog because he's got a reputation as an ace reporter. You read his blog because with every post, he reports. He is actively making a reputation in a way that, say, a NY Times reporter doesn't have to. The mere act of being hired by the Times confers (even now, of course) an authoritative reputation, whether or not it is deserved. To put it into big words: At its best, blogging transmutes reified power - authority - back into something contingent. Authority is no longer a noun, but a verb. You earn your reputation with every word. It's never assumed.

And brother, do we need to stop listening to unearned authority.

In 2002, the experts in the press gave the experts in the Bush administration a free pass to market an insane, unnecessary war. It was so obviously a mistake that even a musician immediately could understand it was doomed to catastrophe. During 2002 and early '03, I went all over the world for concerts of my music. It was an exciting time, and I loved every minute of it. But there was one thing that was quite striking, wherever I went. Everyone, and I mean I everyone from cab drivers to diplomats, thought the United States had gone insane in its advocacy for an Iraq invasion. And yet, back home the experts assured us it would be a cakewalk.

A few weeks after returning from Sydney, Australia where, John Howard aside, everyone was as alarmed as I was at the impending war, I began blogging in February, 2003. I figured that, artist or no, I knew an imminent foreign policy disaster when I saw one. And to my horror, I was right. I have never wanted to be more wrong than I was about the Bush/Iraq war, but I never doubted that it would end up, more or less, where it has.

And so here I am, still blogging and hoping against hope that this country I love will no longer heed the advice of people who understand the world a lot less well than a fellow who's spent most of us life composing. It's not that I know so much, although I'm not stupid or uneducated. It's that the Bushites know so very, very little.

What the present crisis teaches us, a crisis in which the country is being led by clowns posing as experts, is that the opinions of ordinary citizens are vital to the running of a major democratic power. It's not that expertise isn't essential. Of course it is. But political expertise in a democracy must always confront the full range of public opinion in a meaningful manner. Otherwise, there lie monsters.

Today, the public discourse is so clotted and constrained, so limited to the right and far right, that it really is imperative for those of us who object to the direction the country is going to speak out, strongly and often. Not because we all deserve a prominent media role but rather in the hopes that eventually the media will be forced to broaden its coverage of political opinion to acknowledge voices like ours. Voices expert and persuasive enough to articulate alternatives to Bushism. Heaven knows we need them, and fast.

****

*When I first started to blog, I was a bit concerned about how my politics would affect my career, but didn't care that much. If anything, I care more now. By which I mean that I think it is extremely important to stand up and be counted in opposition to Bush. But I like being Tristero, it's part of who I am, and I don't see any reason to bump the guy off, any more than there's a reason to promote my music.

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