Book notes

My book’s Amazon numbers have been a bit of a roller coaster ride — up to #13 at one point, down to 400 or 500 — but lately it seems to be holding steady just below the hundreds (#121 as I write this).

Given that I am substantially further down the food chain than Al Franken or even Joe Conason, this is a pretty damned respectable showing.

By the way, started Conason’s book last night, and it looks like something to get a liberal’s blood boiling — and I’m all for that. Wherever you fall on the liberal/left spectrum, one thing seems clear to me: we need angry Democrats right now. We don’t need mushmouth DLC Democrats afraid of criticizing tax cuts for the wealthy or the tragic quagmire in Iraq. We don’t need Democrats who are afraid of being called liberals; as Conason points out pretty persuasively in the first chapter (excerpted here), the basic values of this country are liberal values.

The most basic liberal values are political equality and economic opportunity. Liberals uphold democracy as the only form of government that derives legitimacy from the consent of the governed, and they regard the freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights as essential to the expression of popular consent. Their commitment to an expanding democracy is what drives liberal advocacy on behalf of women, minorities, gays, immigrants, and other traditionally disenfranchised groups.

— snip —

If your workplace is safe; if your children go to school rather than being forced into labor; if you are paid a living wage, including overtime; if you enjoy a 40-hour week and you are allowed to join a union to protect your rights — you can thank liberals. If your food is not poisoned and your water is drinkable — you can thank liberals. If your parents are eligible for Medicare and Social Security, so they can grow old in dignity without bankrupting your family — you can thank liberals. If our rivers are getting cleaner and our air isn’t black with pollution; if our wilderness is protected and our countryside is still green — you can thank liberals. If people of all races can share the same public facilities; if everyone has the right to vote; if couples fall in love and marry regardless of race; if we have finally begun to transcend a segregated society — you can thank liberals. Progressive innovations like those and so many others were achieved by long, difficult struggles against entrenched power. What defined conservatism, and conservatives, was their opposition to every one of those advances. The country we know and love today was built by those victories for liberalism — with the support of the American people.

He’s absolutely right, of course. Anyone who doesn’t understand that all of these things happened because people organized and fought for them, against great odds and conservative opposition — well, it’s almost like arguing about whether the earth is flat or round. I mean, it’s cute to watch conservatives try to claim the mantle of Martin Luther King Jr., thirty-odd years after the fact, but the absurdity of it should be apparent to anyone with the vaguest understanding of American history.

On a related topic, I just finished Weapons of Mass Deception by my friends John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton (and yes, full disclosure, I did the cover for the book, but I’ve already been paid for that, so I have nothing to gain or lose financially from their book sales). It ties together a lot of things which have been discussed on this blog over the course of the past year, and puts them into perspective — the authors know a lot about the PR industry and its machinations. Highly recommended.