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Little annoys me as much as false balance. Fox News is perhaps the most famous purveyor of that position and because of that notoriety, the right get unfair blame in the unbalancing wars.  

John Avlon's book, Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America, provides strong evidence that the left can play the game just as well when it wants to.  Purporting to be a review of lunatics on both fringes, the book instead lists heavily against the right.  (When the book came out, Bill Maher called Avlon on just this point: you can see that video here.)

That listing is a real shame because the book has a great deal to say about the way that extremists dominate the dialogue, shouting down the rest of us. The use of lies, political spin, political marketing and deliberate obfuscation should be a wake up call to us all and yet, instead, they continue to reverberate through what Avlon calls "the echo chamber."

I wish, though, Avlon had oriented his thesis more around solutions: our dialogue--as I have long argued--requires a louder silent majority (and please ignore the oxymoron) aimed at reasoned, cogent conversations. As a treatise on the current polemical landscape I highly recommend the book; however, as a presentation of solutions we'll have to wait for the sequel.


  • What's the Matter with Kansas? : How Conservatives Won the Heart of America
    by Thomas Frank

    What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America

    Thomas Frank's personal and professional account of the changes in the Republican party over the last several decades is an excellent--if somewhat depressing--read.  With heartfelt passion and a sense of bittersweet loss, Frank details his own coming of age and ultimate return to a place that he now barely recognizes. 

    Highly recommended for anyone wondering about where all the Consiberals went....

  • Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate
    by Juan Williams

    Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate

    Williams, who was fired from NPR for speaking about his own feelings in a way that his handlers deemed inappropriate, ended up with Fox News (where he's one of the few who actually might be "fair and balanced!").  He's one of the rare voices that can actually live in both worlds.  And he's right: too many can't make reasoned statements because the extremists jump all over it.

  • Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America
    by John Avlon

    Written by a senior political columnist for The Daily Beast, and former speechwriter for Rudy Giuliani. Leans heavily against the CHiRPs, with a little bit of general commentary on extremism. Avlon would be a Consiberal if he knew the term....

  • The Swing Vote: The Untapped Power of Independents
    by Linda Killian

    Linda Killian's book is an interesting and cogent analysis of what has happened to the moderate middle. She describes the different kinds of moderate voters and offers reasons why we should all fight against the disenfranchisement of what turns out to be 40% of the electorate.  A timely and important read. Well-written, engaging, and highly recommended.

  • As I See It: Class Warfare: The Only Resort To Right Wing Doom
    by Egberto Willies

    Egberto Willies is a key figure at Coffee Party USA, a liberal with an intelligent and pragmatic view of how we've gotten to where we are with respect to the tremendous income disparity in our society and the resulting class tensions. A worthy read.