Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 20, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE GREAT CONSERVATIVE CRACKUP?....In the current issue of the Monthly Jacob Heilbrunn reviews The Making of the American Conservative Mind, a chronicle of the impact of National Review on the evolution of conservative thought over the past 50 years. The author is Jeffrey Hart, a longtime contributor to NR, and like many other conservatives these days, he's not a happy camper:

Hart is clearly uneasy about the rise of the younger generation, which, under the editorship of Richard Lowry, has been generally enthusiastic about the Bush administration. "Perhaps surprisingly, none of these now prominent figures at the magazine had been known for books or even important articles on politics or political thought," he sniffs. "Where they stood on the spectrum of conservative thought traditionalist, individualist, libertarian, skeptical, Straussian, Burkean, Voegelinian was completely unknown."

More generally, Hart is unhappy about the modern conservative movement's embrace of and reliance on both the Christian Right and the culture war vulgarians represented by right-wing talk radio. But I think Heilbrunn is right when he says:

In reality, though, conservatism hasn't really changed all that much. The Christian right has certainly infused it with moralism and anti-Darwin mumbo-jumbo, but what's more striking about the GOP over the past 100 years or so is its continuity. The party's main, almost sole, purpose has been to ensure that as much money as possible goes to those who need it least and that as little as possible goes to those who need it most. In a party of moneybags, Theodore Roosevelt was the exception, not the rule. Whether Bush manages to extricate the United States from Iraq or not, his avalanche of tax cuts has already justified the main reason that Republican pooh-bahs selected him to become their candidate for president.

Still, Hart and his compatriots are right to be worried about their creation. For now, the millionaires are still in charge, cynically using the evangelicals as shock troops while giving them little in the way of concrete rewards. But how long will it be before the monkey on their back becomes an 800-pount gorilla?

Kevin Drum 12:33 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (97)

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Not written anything? Has he seen the Corner, or LGF, or Redstate, or CQ, or PJM?

He's just a cranky old shit over 30.

Posted by: jerry on April 20, 2006 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

In the truest sense, we are governed by Banana Republicans. And that's the kind of country we are headed towards.

And here's a link for the trolls. I now it's a lot of words, boys, but try and keep up.

Posted by: craigie on April 20, 2006 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK
"The party's main, almost sole, purpose has been to ensure that as much money as possible goes to those who need it least and that as little as possible goes to those who need it most."

That will do for cutting to the chase and the quick in one swell foop.

Posted by: S.W. Anderson on April 20, 2006 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

Actually one of the better links on teh intarweb is the faux-link. The link that looks like a link but is broken. So it colors as a link, but it won't do the magic trick with the mouse.

Guys, here's Jenna Bush (nsfw)

Man, that one always cracks me up.

Posted by: jerry on April 20, 2006 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity: Nazi porn collection

Oh, man, I gotta come down....

Help!

Posted by: jerry on April 20, 2006 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

dammit!

Posted by: craigie on April 20, 2006 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

Galbraith nailed it a long time ago.

To paraphrase him as I don't remember the exact quote, conservatism is nothing more than greed wrapped in pseudo-intellectualism.

Posted by: lib on April 20, 2006 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

craigie nailed it!

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on April 20, 2006 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin - who are the authors and serious thinkers at KOS? Atrios? MoveOn.org? The DNC?

Just asking.

Posted by: Paddy Whack on April 20, 2006 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

What keeps the plutocrats and the fundamentalists together is that the plutocrats understand the fundamentalists' beliefs, and so they find it easy to convince them that they are allies. The plutocrats pay the bills and the fundamentalists get out the rural and poor vote.

It can't last forever, though. Part of the backlash right now is declining median incomes combined with inflating energy costs and flat equity and real-estate markets. That's why plutocrats have been throwing bones to the fundamentalists: abortion restrictions, creationism in schools, "faith-based" church subsidies, anti-islamic war circuses, etc. Plenty backfire.

Posted by: JamesP on April 20, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

On thing though: Everyone in Congress is a millionaire.

Posted by: SteveL on April 20, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

I resent being called a monkey, Mr. Drum!

Posted by: Jerry Falwell on April 20, 2006 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

Can we just say it?

Conservatism is Dead.

Cause of death: complications arising from untreatable case of George W Bush.

Posted by: frankly0 on April 20, 2006 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't be so sure about the death of Conservatism.

I think Conservatism is the normal state of affairs, whereas liberalism requires a lot of effort. For human beings are generally intellectually lazy, and prone to be attracted to simplistic ideologies.

So even if liberalism is predominant for certain periods of time, conservatism will rear its ugly head sooner or later.

Posted by: lib on April 20, 2006 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

I'm a right-wing conservative who is very strong on law and order. I believe in and subscribe to the ' Three Strikes' law. Three felonies and you go to jail for life - no appeals, no parole, no amnesties. Life means life. So now hear this...

WATERGATE
IRAN/CONTRA
YELLOWGATE

Gop directly to jail- do not pass Gop - do not collect 200$ DON'T DO THE CRIME IF YOU CAN'T DO THE TIME!

Thank you for yr time here today.

Posted by: professor rat on April 20, 2006 at 3:43 AM | PERMALINK

Years have passed, and many of the animals are dead. Only Clover, Benjamin, Moses and some of the pigs remember the days before the rebellion. Clover is by now very old, well past retirement age, except that no animal has actually managed to retire yet.

The windmill has finally been completed. It is used for milling corn, rather than for generating electricity, and brings a good profit to the farm. Another windmill is now being built to generate electricity. There is no more talk of the three-day week, or any of the other luxuries that Snowball originally promised would accrue from the windmill.

The farm is growing richer, but the animals themselves do not seem to benefit much from it. There are many pigs and dogs on the farm now. The pigs are all involved in the bureaucracy of running the farm, and are not available to do any actual work, though Squealer makes it clear to the others that what the pigs do is of vital importance to the farm. Squealer continues to impress everyone with detailed figures of how everything has improved on the farm, but deep down the animals are unable to reconcile this with the lack of improvement in their own conditions. Nonetheless, Animal Farm remains the only farm in England to be owned by the animals, and the animals remain enormously proud of this.

Summer arrives. Squealer is seen to take all the sheep of the farm aside, and no-one sees them for a week. The sheep eventually return. That evening, as the animals are returning to the yard from work, Clover is heard neighing excitedly from the yard. The animals rush forward to see what is happening. They stop dead when they all see what has startled Clover. It is the sight of Squealer walking upright, on his hind legs. At this moment, all of the pigs leave the farmhouse in single file, all upright on two legs. Finally, Napoleon emerges from the farmhouse, upright and carrying a whip.

It is the most shocking thing the animals have ever seen. It goes against everything that they have been taught up to then. Just as it seems that someone might object, the sheep break into a deafening chorus of Four legs bad, two legs better. They went on for five minutes, during which the pigs walked briefly around and then returned to the farmhouse. The chance to protest is gone. Clover goes to the gable wall and brings Benjamin with her. She asks Benjamin to read for her what is on the gable wall. All the commandments are gone, and all that is written there now is All animals are equal, But some animals are more equal than others.

After this, the pigs and their sows start wearing clothes and carrying whips. They begin to have more direct dealings with the neighbouring farmers. One day, the pigs invite a number of the local farmers to inspect the farm. After the inspection, the pigs and the farmers return to the farmhouse for a celebration. After a time, loud noises of laughter and singing are heard through the windows. The other animals are overcome with curiosity, and they approach the farmhouse to see what is going on. They look through the windows to see the pigs and farmers seated around the living room table, playing cards, making speeches and congratulating one another. Mr Pilkington makes a speech telling the pigs how impressed he is with Animal Farm, especially with the hard work and poor rations of the farm animals. Napoleon makes a speech in return, expressing his happiness that the mistrust between Animal Farm and the others is now at an end. He furthermore announces that the animals will cease to address each other as Comrade, and that Animal Farm will now revert to being called Manor Farm. As Napoleon finishes his speech to great applause, the animals outside seem to notice something changing in the features of the pigs, but what?

As the applause dies down and the card game is resumed, the animals creep away from the window. However, they hurry back when they hear a furious argument break out. The argument is because Mr. Pilkington and Napoleon have both played an Ace of Spades at the same time. But as the animals look from Napoleon to Pilkington, from man to pig and from pig back to man, they find that they are unable to tell the difference.

Posted by: orwell on April 20, 2006 at 4:32 AM | PERMALINK

Forget the polls and forget about evangelical discontent. As long as America's middle-class continues to pay for it, Bush and his brand of radical conservatism will remain a raving success. I believe it's called grudging acceptance in contract law.

Posted by: kostya on April 20, 2006 at 5:52 AM | PERMALINK

The ironic thing is, historically, the economy does better and produces more millionaires under democrats than republicans. but for the small group that makes it money either through inheritance or massive governement corruption (enron, Haliburton), The GOP is defintiely the party to back.

Also Ironic that the poorest states, the ones who lose the most under the GOP, are their strongest backers.

Posted by: anon on April 20, 2006 at 5:58 AM | PERMALINK

I find it interesting how, in an age where we should be the most informed, liberal and intelligent society in history, the dominant movement in America is the regressive, barbaric, anti-intellectualism of conservatism.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on April 20, 2006 at 6:01 AM | PERMALINK

NRO???

Mostly communist idiots these days.

Posted by: Matt on April 20, 2006 at 6:59 AM | PERMALINK

For now, the millionaires are still in charge, cynically using the evangelicals as shock troops while giving them little in the way of concrete rewards. But how long will it be before the monkey on their back becomes an 800-pound gorilla?

Personally, I think that ship has sailed; it's clear that the millionaires consider the evengelicals amusing and little more, and are not especially afraid of a gorilla, 800 or more pounds. I think the question is the reverse (to paraphrase Jon Stewart) - how long before the leaders in the evangelical world realize that they've been played, expertly, by some deeply cynical, largely amoral plutocrats? And what hell will there be to pay then?

Posted by: weboy on April 20, 2006 at 7:04 AM | PERMALINK

The ironic thing is, historically, the economy does better and produces more millionaires under democrats than republicans.

Harry Truman said it best: If you want to live like a Republican, vote Democrat.

Posted by: 2.7182818 on April 20, 2006 at 7:07 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin

Monkeys on backs? 800 pound gorillas? You are completely ensnared with Darwinism, aren't you?

The fact of the matter is that conservatives now run this country, and will continue to do so, and you can't stand it. All you can do is stand on the sidelines and whine into your meaningless little blog.

We've got the Latinos, and now the blacks are coming over. We're building a permanent majority, and you know what that means? YOU'RE the permanent minority. The sooner you come to grips with it, the better.

Posted by: egbert on April 20, 2006 at 7:33 AM | PERMALINK

egbert the brain damaged cat:

You've got the Latinos -- Immigration!

Even the blacks are coming over -- Katrina!

Most importantly of all, you've got the egberts :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 20, 2006 at 7:47 AM | PERMALINK

Pretty soon they are going to have to give back to the Christian Right or they will stay home. Of course so far they haven't given them a thing.
Egbert, name one conservative in this government.
And what's with the 'we'? you are one of the rubes to them.
Do you also talk about how 'we' are winning in Iraq?

Posted by: gsalln on April 20, 2006 at 7:48 AM | PERMALINK

No dice, so sorry. They saw these brownshirts as useful to their cause, they don't get to complain about them now.

The young guns now at NR aren't a new breed, they're the result of 100 years of conservative "thought."

If your party philosophy is structured to basically justify selfish hoarding to the detriment of your countrymen, you end up with the current crop of mental midgets. Conservatism has never demanded anything more from its standard bearers.

Posted by: fromer on April 20, 2006 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

Among conservatives the ability to speak obscurely in polysyllables has long been mistaken for intellectual depth. Bill Buckley and George Will have made careers pretending to think while dressing up a simple immoral idea with big words few of the opposition are unwilling to admit they don't understand. The same can be said for many of the other professional conservatve "thinkers."

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 20, 2006 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

"....cynically using the evangelicals as shock troops while giving them little in the way of concrete rewards. But how long will it be before the monkey on their back becomes an 800-pound gorilla?"

This is an easily duped 800-LB gorilla so Republican power brokers probably aren't in much trouble. After all, this is a constituency that thinks the universe was created from nothing in a scant few days, the Earth and all we see now was presto'd into existence a few thousand years ago and a human being died, laid rotting in a cave for days and then emerged alive to tell about it and salvage the souls of the "saved". It's no wonder the airwaves are filled with TV preachers picking the pockets of their electronic flocks, an easier group of marks would be difficult to find. The RNC knows this all too well. And what are evangelicals going to do, vote for Kerry and Kennedy? Stay home and sit on their hands and watch a pro-choice and pro-gay rights candidate take the presidency? Nah, Bush has more to worry about the the Religious Right defecting, it's an 800-LB gorilla trapped in a cage of its own making.

Posted by: steve duncan on April 20, 2006 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

When our hoors in charge needed conscienceless, malleable geeks to man the desks and close their eyes for the looting of Iraq, what did they do? They hauled in the young and the feckless from the Republican training camps. THAT'S what Republicans should be concerned about: the younger crop coming up is so cynical it sees corruption as a fun game and a reward. I've always sort of presumed that Republican politicos became cynical, corrupt bastidges later in life. Say, around 23. Nope. Todays Gilded Age is their Golden Age.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on April 20, 2006 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

As a movement, it never existed; as a tool, it's working. The sole idea behind American conservatism is the abolition of the income tax. Any alliance that furthers that goal is necessary and useful, especially if it's with the deluded, who think that they get to legislate morality or freedom. There's a study somewhere of Paul Mellon devoting his life and fortune to this task, ignoring completely every crisis and issue in American life for most of the last century.
After a while the deluded get co-opted into the power structure, and even get a scrap or two from the table, so long as they keep the proles in line, but the only thing that matters is cutting taxes, no matter what.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on April 20, 2006 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

Frequency is spot on

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on April 20, 2006 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

The Democrats now agree on one thing--Republicans Suck.

We shouldn't expect anything more from Republicans. The one thing they agree on is that Democrats Suck. That might be all they need to agree on.

Posted by: reino on April 20, 2006 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

I think Conservatism is the normal state of affairs, whereas liberalism requires a lot of effort. For human beings are generally intellectually lazy, and prone to be attracted to simplistic ideologies.

I'm unfortunately cynical enough to agree with this. Lately I think that the defining characteristic of humanity is the need to keep energetically beating down the worst aspects of our natures. (Well, mine need constant thrashing, anyway.)

Conservatism is simply giving in to all our simple animal instincts, all day, every day.

Well, except good sex, perhaps.

Posted by: shortstop on April 20, 2006 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

What passes for conservatism nowadays is borrow and spend liberalism, plus the militarism.

The latter suggests that conservatives have an almost erotic attraction to the uniforms, but don't want to get involved in what the uniforms might lead to.

Posted by: raj on April 20, 2006 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

True enough. The Republican party has always been the party of moneybags. All the think tanks, all the theory (mostly just a cover story), the faux patriotism and the bluster are just PR material to keep the haves and the have mores in good digs. For me the foot soldiers for the rich- the evangelicals- are not religious in any spiritual sense, they just use the language of religion as a short hand for a paternalistic American culture that still has a streak of populism. It is engaged in a hopeless struggle against ongoing modernization (the birth of multicultural America) and deindustrialization.

The Republicans have a problem on their hands. The small population red states that vote for the way things were are also federal welfare states. They depend on road to nowhere projects, military bases, and government redistribution to keep many essential services going including education and entire regions together. The reason the GOP is a no tax and spend party is because the have mores dont want to be taxed and the red state politicians need to preach populism and bring home the bacon, as one politician from South Carolina said to me. It was the red state populists who were the primary backers of FDR's New Deal and it is them, not poor city people, who have benefited the most from taxing the rich cities and the wealthy coasts. It is as if the two sides of the New Deal are now in the same political party. So to keep the party together, as we all know, culture war PR campaigns get the voters to the polls but the agenda is for the have mores.

You cant have it both ways. Red states dont have high state taxes to begin with, since the local elites dont like them, and they will be the first drowned in Grover Norquists bath tub. This is why some say the Republican project will never work.

Posted by: bellumregio on April 20, 2006 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers completely captures what it is about conservative 'thinkers' like Will and Buckley that is ridiculous. So little substance yet they are treated as if what they are saying is tremendously profound precisely because it makes very little sense and is delivered with an air of smug superiority.

Posted by: Chrissy on April 20, 2006 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

These young pups of NRO are nothing more than the brash, vain, militaristic gang of young elite yammering at Twelve Oaks, "We'll beat those Damn Yankees or simply fill in the blank, in thirty days." A two tier plantation in a two tier economy with pampered, coifed, perfumed ignorant elite sipping their Mint Juleps while their slaves toil on.

But, alas, if you criticize them, you as Rhett, are no Gentleman or Patriot.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 20, 2006 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

For now, the millionaires are still in charge, cynically using the evangelicals as shock troops while giving them little in the way of concrete rewards.

sooo....

a group of people who have ostensibly devoted their lives to the worship of a, ahem, concept, and who expect to be rewarded for that worship primarily after their own death, are voting for a party that promises them a lot but doesn't actually deliver.

i'm shocked.

Posted by: cleek on April 20, 2006 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

The cost of the war in Iraq will be about $100 billion this year. Want to see if a Republican is a conservative? After hearing them go on about how critical the Iraq invasion is for our freedom, security, blah blah blah, ask them which tax cut they might sacrifice to pay for it.

It's the first time in our history that we have cut taxes in time of wareven more insane, for millionairesand the issue produces nothing but dead air from "conservatives." One might conclude that the Republican party's millionaire beneficiaries owe their allegiance and love to something other than their country.

(Of course, this kind of demonstrates that "conservative" has always been a euphemism for unbridled self-interest, nothing more.)

Posted by: R.Porrofatto on April 20, 2006 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

So even if liberalism is predominant for certain periods of time, conservatism will rear its ugly head sooner or later.

When I say Conservatism is Dead, maybe I should be more precise.

What I mean is, Conservatism, as defined in America as a movement, is dead. That Conservatism sought to pull back any number of 20th century improvements to our social system, and to resist any further movement to things such as universal health care. I more or less define Conservatism here as being the movement that actively stands in the way of a natural progress to a typical European liberal, secular democracy. Such democracies show variation of course, from country to country and from year to year. But they display highly significant similarities, and the variations are not as remarkable as these similarities. I regard them, to coin a phrase, as the end of history. The US has clearly a distance to go before it achieves that level of evolution, and it is the Conservative movement that is the obstacle.

What I think is true is that Conservatism as such a movement is irretrievably broken. By the time they can regain any credibility, the transition to a European style democracy will be unstoppable.

Really, in my view, it's over for them -- just as it was over for the Tories in Britain, after the last hurrah Thatcher and friends afforded them.

Unfortunately

Posted by: frankly0 on April 20, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

A crack-up is never going to happen. Because when a fundie realizes their being duped they just attribute it to, "All politicians are crooks" and withdraw from political life.

I have a fundie brother-in-law who's done exactly that. He started out as a complete Bush supporter, listened to Rush Limbaugh every day and was convinced liberalism was dead and the "good Christians and their President" were going to win the day.

Now he hardly ever mentions Bush except to curse him and, as I said, just mutters "All politicians are crooks."

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on April 20, 2006 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Although I don't disagree with the assessment that the Republican party is at its root the party of "Moneybags", I think you are missing the bigger point that our electoral system has become infested with partisan hacks. The crackup is inevitable because the party is made up of elites who are loath to compromise their views for something as "primitive" as democratic consensus.

Our particular brand of democracy gives more power to the fanatics and ideologues that make up the base of both parties. This is in large part because of the rising importance of Primary elections, and therefore rising influence of Primary voters.

I'm sure that most Americans like to think that a passionate politician makes a better politician (certainly one who is willing to go to bat for "my view"), yet democracy is at its core an exercise in consensus building. Until we revive the American spirit for democratic innovation, we'll be seeing (Republican) crackup after (Democratic) crackup after crackup after...

Meanwhile middle America pays the price. No wonder they don't vote.

Posted by: Jon Karak on April 20, 2006 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Jon Karak,
Absolutely, there can be no progressive agenda without seriously addressing the fundamental problems of electoral politics in the United States. So many things we struggle with are structural, within the parties, the very fact there are only two for 280 million people, and how Americans vote for these parties. I think Steven Hill at the New America Foundation is publishing a book soon that will address some of these issues. He is like a voice in the wilderness.

Posted by: bellumregio on April 20, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Want to see if a Republican is a conservative? After hearing them go on about how critical the Iraq invasion is for our freedom, security, blah blah blah, ask them which tax cut they might sacrifice to pay for it.

Are you saying that Tom Brosz, conspiracy nut and other self-described "conservatives" here would go all quiet or desperately try to redirect when we ask them this question? What? They always do?

thethirdpaul, your GWTW comparison is extremely apt. All they have is cotton and arrogance.

Posted by: shortstop on April 20, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

"All they have is cotton and arrogance".

And fed on a steady diet of jingo and ginger

Posted by: Botecelli on April 20, 2006 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

The old school conservatives like Hart and Buckley have their own skeletons out in the open for all to see.

No matter how many apologies are issued by the National Review, its stance on Civil Rights, or the Negro Problem as they used to call it, is a permanent stain on the Conservative movement.

Not that the current crop of Jonah Luciannes or Rich Lowry is any less racist. And the progeny is intellectually lighter weight to boot.

Posted by: lib on April 20, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

I suggest reading Steve Hill's previous book, Fixing Elections: The Failure of America's Winner Take All Politics. Also, the journalist Juliet Eilperin has a book out called Fight Club Politics: How Partisanship is Poisoning the U.S. House of Representatives. Its a virtual case study on whats wrong with modern electoral politics.

Posted by: Jon Karak on April 20, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

My recent attempt at talking to some rabid right wingers shows me they are are all slogans and labels and nothing at all beyond that.

After the name-calling and sloganeering they've got nothing except repetition, complaining, and finally, withdrawal.

Posted by: Tripp on April 20, 2006 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Most of the progress in the United States since the 1750's has been because of individual's efforts who could be called "liberals":

> The abolition of slavery
> Women's rights
> The 40 hour work week
> Rural electrification
> Environmental protections
> Educational loans and grants for the poor and middle classes
> Civil rights for all people

The people who could be called "conservative" (although that phrase has become bastardized) have been on the wrong side of virtually all of these issues. A shameful record. I know very clearly why I am proud to be called a liberal.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on April 20, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

"The party's main, almost sole, purpose has been to ensure that as much money as possible goes to those who need it least and that as little as possible goes to those who need it most"

I don't understand how this sort of black & white assertion can be viewed as a serious analysis. I guess anyone who's not a "money bags" and votes republican is a victim of false ideology. Moreover, its not a question of giving money to those who don't need it - more a debate around how much of the money high-income earners and corporations earn in the first place they're allowed to keep and how much is redistributed to others and spent on public goods.

Posted by: Aidan on April 20, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Monkey becoming an 800 pound gorilla, that's darwin mumbo-jumbo isnt it?

Posted by: DonkeyKong on April 20, 2006 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK
Moreover, its not a question of giving money to those who don't need it - more a debate around how much of the money high-income earners and corporations earn in the first place they're allowed to keep and how much is redistributed to others and spent on public goods.

You seem to be assuming that "money" is a thing that exists independently of government action, and therefore can be "earned in the first place" outside of government policy.

This is the first, and fundamental, mistake in your analysis.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

In 966 the u.s. congress had 295 d's and 140r
in 1994 the 103rd congress had 258 d and 176r and 1 ind
in 1998 the 104th congress had 230 r's 204 1 r
108th congress has 229 r's 204 d's and 1 ind
I did not check the entire history but 104th and 108th had the lowest number of d's in about 50 years.
I am kind of confused how a democratic party can go from 295 in 1966 or from 258 in 1994 to 204 while the numbers have been completely reversing themselves, how this is viewed as "the great conservative crackup".
http://clerk.house.gov/histHigh/Congressional_History/index.html

I am sure I will be attacked on the numbers that I pulled from the clerk of the house. But that is not the issue.
The issue is in one swift stroke d's went from 258 to 204 in one election cycle.

So which party has cracked up and which party has built up.

Posted by: build up on April 20, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

build up,

Uh, have you looked at the latest polls?

Just wondering.

Posted by: frankly0 on April 20, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

"how long before the leaders in the evangelical world realize that they've been played, expertly, by some deeply cynical, largely amoral plutocrats? And what hell will there be to pay then"

The problem is, of course that the leaders of the evangelical movement mostly are amoral plutocrats selling jesus for a few hundered bucks a year.

Heh, a freind of mine was recently flipping past one of the christian tv channels and saw an add for an evangelical bank. Moneychangers in the temple indeed.

Posted by: jefff on April 20, 2006 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

The Democrats lost their working class white male base when they decided to use the Federal government to defend the civil rights of African Americans and women. The rise of the modern Republican party was fueled by racism. Working class white guys did not feel that they were voting against their economic interests by voting Republican--since, from their pov, the Democrats were determined to strip them of power and redistribute their "wealth" to black welfare queens.

However, George Bush has done one good thing, imho. That is, he seems to be genuinely not racist. And, in so doing, the Republicans have sacrificed their "party of whites" cachet. The radical changes in the power structure of the US--the emergence of a black middle class, working women, a population that is 15% foreign-born--are widely accepted, even by working class men. Domestically, all the conservatives have left are some fringe issues--gay marriage, abortion, illegal immigration--and terrorism/national security.

So, in the absence of the racial wild card, citizens can compare the two parties on economic policies and, since the conservatives have been in control of everything for four years, we can evaluate the effectiveness of conservative policy and their "government is the problem" approach. Lo and behold, conservative policy is failing every test, just as we predicted.

I'm hopeful that the Bush years will eradicate the Republican party for a generation.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 20, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks Jon Karak, seems like we have the same reading list.

Steven Hills new book is 10 Steps to Repair American Democracy. It will be in bookstores in May. He says "The book is a brief, practical "one-stop shoppers' guide" to what's broken about democracy in the USA, and what Americans can do to repair it."

Here is the table of contents:

Introduction: America's Faltering Republic
1. Secure the Vote
2. Expand Voter Participation
3. Increase Voter Choice with Instant Runoff Voting
4. Scrap Winner-Take-All Elections
5. Direct Election of the President
6. Overhaul the U.S. Senate
7. Reclaim the Airwaves
8. Minimize Money's Role
9. Reform the Supreme Court
10. Restore Faith in Government: "Government Is Good for You"
Conclusion: Renewing the American Republic

Posted by: bellumregio on April 20, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK
am kind of confused how a democratic party can go from 295 in 1966 or from 258 in 1994 to 204 while the numbers have been completely reversing themselves, how this is viewed as "the great conservative crackup".

Its not.

The crackup being talked about is largely since the last election, and a result of fissures that have come to the fore with the Republican ascendancy since 2001.

If you want to keep focussing on the Democratic crackup of the 1990s, feel free, but please remember this is 2006, not 1996.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

frankly0

Elections are not about generic congressional polls. If they were, then Republicans, according to most polls, would have lost seats in the last two general elections instead of gaining seats in both houses of Congress. Elections are about individual races. Increasingly, Republicans have cause to be hopeful, not terrified.

The recent special congressional election in California, like the earlier special congressional election in Ohio, confirms conventional political wisdom: districts gerrymandered to favor one political party are very difficult to lose. Tom DeLays old seat in Texas, for example, will certainly stay Republican. A bland Republican won the congressional special election in Ohio several months ago. The odds are that Republicans will hold Duke Cunninghams old seat as well.

Those were optimum circumstances for Democrats and (anticipating the outcome of the California runoff), Democrats lost. It has been fashionable to blame gerrymandering on Republicans, but it was for decades the tool of Democrats to maintain control of the House of Representatives. A well financed, high turnout campaign in districts that should be Republican will result in Republican victories.

Posted by: build up on April 20, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely
http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/
Ok recent is fine 2004
Rep Senate Gain + 4 to 55
Rep House Gain + 2 to 231

If Democrats had a Contract With America instead of a Contract On Bush, then perhaps they could persuade Americans to rally to their banner, but their only banner is hate and the more that wave that banner, the more they will energize Republican majorities in congressional districts, which districts themselves are a clear majority of the congressional districts in the House of Representatives.

If anything, the Senate looks better. There are very real chances to gain seats in New Jersey (scandal ridden with Democrats), Maryland (where savaging Steele could produce not just a black backlash for Steele, but for Republicans), Minnesota and Nebraska. Moreover, Washington is looking increasing winnable. Wisconsin is winnable if Tommy Thompson runs. Florida is won if Jeb Bush runs. Michigan is also increasingly winnable.

Posted by: build up on April 20, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Did not know that we were still fighting the Brady Bill - The major shift in 94 was, primarily, a rebellion against the passage of the Brady Bill in 93

On another note, nice to see that the President of China brought his Vice President, Lee Scott, with him to meet with Shrub. Next they will tour the White House in Bentonville.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 20, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Trolls are making straw pile small.

Posted by: Booo on April 20, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

The values movement is no longer a veiled expression of whitism, as it many have been with the Moral Majority or before. If you want to understand the next wave check out the coalition that makes up
Called2Action . Check out the partners and look at the agenda.

Posted by: bellumregio on April 20, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely
http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/
Ok recent is fine 2004
Rep Senate Gain + 4 to 55
Rep House Gain + 2 to 231

Once again: "The crackup being talked about is largely since the last election..."

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

All the talk about what Dems stand for - but not any real talk about what Republicans stand for?

NO taxs and huge deficits?

NO end to war and no policy planning that isn't merely spin. Bush's only political planning has been to invest it all in spin. Lying as as state of art. Trashing liberals.

Whatever happened to old style Republicans? they don't exist.

Whatever did Bush accomplish during his term? I mean besides being attacked on 9/11, another Vietnam style war and hugh deficit and high gasoline prices?

Certainly big oil would be more than happy to re-elect Bush if Bush were up for re-election.

It appears that Big oil is the monarchy that the the American people now serve. We fight wars for big oil and we give them all our money at the gas pump and though our utilities bill - indeed much of our taxes go to their corporate welfare. And really the mandate Bush and Cheney ever really had was a mandate from big oil. Its the only God Bush prays too and the only constituency that Bush ever really served.

Posted by: Cheryl on April 20, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

I would say running anyone with the last name Bush for House or Senate is an automatic Dem win. Go for it.

Posted by: Ringo on April 20, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

I do have to say I fear it may take quite a while for the republicans to actually loose control or congress even if they keep sucking as much as they have and people keep noticing it.

The new computer modeled gerrymandering is far more effective than what the democrats had back when they were able to bend redistricting to thier ends more often than not.

The democratic crackup didn't really happen in 1996, it happened over the previous three decades.

Incumbency is such an advantage, and older people so entrenched in thier voting patterns that you almost have to wait for people to die to change things dramatically.

Still things seem to happen faster and faster in general and the republican ideology is really really stupid while thier implementation is really really incompetent so I hope to be suprised.

Posted by: jefff on April 20, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

how long before the leaders in the evangelical world realize that they've been played, expertly, by some deeply cynical, largely amoral plutocrats?

Weboy--Jefff beat me to this. Ever watch the 400 Club? The leaders in the evangelical world are deeply cynical, largely amoral plutocrats.

The question is, when are rank-and-file evangelicals going to realize it?

Not soon.

Suppose you decided to quit your job and go on the grift. Which folks you could fleece the easiest?

The Christian Right. Not all of them, but it's a target-rich environment. Many of them believe that if anyone who shares their faith will be honest with them--which is why so many Republicans make such a to-do about their own piety. (1)

The GOP targetted them for the same reason as any other grifters would: They figure they can game 'em and game 'em and game 'em, and they'll keep coming back for more. And so far they've been right. It's very hard for these folks to lose faith in Republicans, because that faith is attached to their faith in God, and often their relationship to their community and their whole life-style. It takes a lot of intellectual courage for them to rethink their attachment, even in the face of all these facts to the contrary--and these folks often pride themselves on not being intellectuals.

(1) And also why sensible people count their fingers after shaking hands with such a one.

Posted by: Molly, NYC on April 20, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Aiden wrote:

I don't understand how this sort of black & white assertion can be viewed as a serious analysis. I guess anyone who's not a "money bags" and votes republican is a victim of false ideology. Moreover, its not a question of giving money to those who don't need it - more a debate around how much of the money high-income earners and corporations earn in the first place they're allowed to keep and how much is redistributed to others and spent on public goods.

Aiden,

and to expand on what cmdicely wrote, the government provides to the wealthiest citizens the invaluable service of protecting the property. The question is whether the owners of that property should pay the costs (as Democrats would like) or should the state force working people to the pay the costs so that the owner's can have the service provided for free (Republican position).

Posted by: MSR on April 20, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

PTate:

Interesting comment. I can't verify this in any way other than my own gut feelings, but in a paradoxical way, Reagan seemed to advance the social (if not economic) position of blacks in America. I think alot of people viewed the (barely hidden) racism of that man and started having second thoughts.

If the race card has been neutralized somewhat, and if Democrats ever take back power and start reviving the middle class in this country, I think it will mean a profound, perhaps permanent shift, moving this country back to where it should be, which is center/left in the FDR tradition.

Posted by: brewmn on April 20, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Build up: Weren't the republican gains from '94 to '98 largely due to hate Clinton, hate Clinton, and then hate Clinton some more and not some dumb Contract on America. It seems that the right wing relentless hate Clinton and liberals and Democrats was the deciding factor not some contract bull.

Posted by: Chrissy on April 20, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK
The question is, when are rank-and-file evangelicals going to realize it?

I dunno about the rank-and-file, but a lot of the public moves by what might be called "alternative evangelical leaders" certainly show that there is at least an intellectual faction within the movement that has realized that the presently dominant leadership's direction seems directed by something other than the notional values of evangelical Christianity, and who are probably more likely to be able to successfully deliver that message to the evangelical rank and file than secular liberal, or even liberal Christian, critics of the dominant evangelical leadership.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely--From your keyboard to God's monitor.

(Also, how do you write a post so fast? I dither over these things for at least a half-hour each.)

Posted by: Molly, NYC on April 20, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK
The democratic crackup didn't really happen in 1996, it happened over the previous three decades.

Both parties have had the same kind of internal divisions for quite some time; this was somewhat more pronounced in the Democratic Party because of the rather extreme contradictions in the New Deal coalition, but with the "southern strategy" the Republicans essentially created a similarly unstable coalition, and made it worse with the pursuit of the Christian Right subsequently.

The 1990s crackup on the Democratic side was triggered by the ascendancy of the Democratic Party -- its control of the executive and legislature -- which made it difficult for it to sweep aside the internal disagreements and brought them all out to the forefront.

Similarly, I think the similar divides that have built in the Republican party are ripe for a similar crackup, that has been delayed largely by the Bush wars while they were popular, but as they have become unpopular, the fundamental divides in the Republican coalition, combined with the pressure the party is under because of the unpopularity of their visible leader, put them in a similar, in some ways worse, position than the Democrats were in 2004 with respect to their own internal divisions.

Of course, this whole thing becomes somewhat cyclical -- assembling a competitive coalition in a two-party system in the US is inherently unstable, and the best way to hold it together is to have someone else to blame things on -- which doesn't work when you control everything.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Chrissy

Republicans may not lose any seats at all or may even gain seats. (Recall in 1998, Democrats with all the scandals surrounding Clinton gained five House ) So if what you are saying is true and recent history repeats itself the r's should actually gain as did the d's in 1998 during the Clinton scandals.

Posted by: build up on April 20, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK
(Also, how do you write a post so fast? I dither over these things for at least a half-hour each.)

I dunno; competitive debate, impromptu, and extemporaneous speech in both high school and college probably plays a role.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

cm dicely

Democratic Party Won't Win by Bashing Bush
Edward I. Koch
Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The November elections will soon be upon us. Democrats believe they can win a majority in both houses of Congress, and I agree. But victory will not be won by Bush-bashing. It will be won if we rally the country to support the core issues of the Democratic Party.


On the international front, the overriding issue facing our country is whether Americans have the will to denounce, resist and vanquish the fanatic Islamists who hate democratic values, who engage in terrorism, and who want to kill us and say so. Take them at their brazen word. When Hitler wrote "Mein Kampf," we failed to take him at his word and lived to regret it. Sixty million people ultimately paid with their lives.

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2006/4/18/143314.shtml

Posted by: build up on April 20, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Believe it or not, there is a deep and ancient aversion the mixing of government and religion within Evangelicalism and the dissenting, Puritan heritage, going back to colonial times. This is too basic a posture for Evangelicals (except black ones) to abandon for long

Posted by: Ace Franze on April 20, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

There are many evangelicals who are deeply dissatisfied with the current Republican leadership. I just think it took a while for them to see Bushs hypocrisy or to realize they were being bamboozled. No one likes the war in Iraq. But the Republicans are able to give these people no choice but to hold their noses and vote Republican. In the same way many who post here would vote for Democrats they really dont agree with. If we had a multiparty system there would we a Christian Populist party that would be independent of the moneybags Republicans.

Posted by: bellumregio on April 20, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Only five incumbents lost to challengers in 2004-- the second lowest in our nations history. Nearly nine in ten incumbents were re-elected by landslide margins of at least 20 percent. In seven states, no incumbent has been defeated since FairVote began collecting data in 1982.
In 14 states, every race was won by a landslide margin of at least 20 percent in 2004. Only four states (all with less than three seats) recorded no landslide wins.
The average victory margin was a whopping 40 percent. Seven of every eight (83%) U.S. House races were won by landslide margins of at least 20 percent in 2004. Only 23 races (5%) were won by competitive margins of less than 10 percent.
http://fairvote.org/?page=27&pressmode=showspecific&showarticle=41

Posted by: build up on April 20, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote:
"You seem to be assuming that "money" is a thing that exists independently of government action, and therefore can be "earned in the first place" outside of government policy.

This is the first, and fundamental, mistake in your analysis."

Sure govt's very important, but I fail to see how its so outrageous to suggest that money can be earned outside of govt policy - actually, I don't quite understand your point. Maybe I'm too sleepy right now. The private sector obviously plays a huge role in creating value in society, right? And through its taxes government clearly redistributes wealth, and one can have principled disagreements about the appropriate level of taxation.

Although the fed controls the money supply and sets interest rates, etc, "Govt" clearly doesn't create all the value in society and then decide how to parcel it out to people. Of course govt does a lot of very important things, many of which are critical to prosperity.

Posted by: aidan on April 20, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

"I am kind of confused how a democratic party can go from 295 in 1966 or from 258 in 1994 to 204 while the numbers have been completely reversing themselves, how this is viewed as "the great conservative crackup"."

Ooo, ooo, let me! You are confused because you are illiterate. No one equated the two things that you falsely equate.

It certainly can be argued that the Republican Party is not conservative in any actual sense of the word- and thus your electoral gains can be ascribed to radicals and reactionaries such as yourself. Conservatives are marginalized, at best, in today's Republican Party.

Now let's see Build up's prediction:

After the 2006 election the composition of the US Senate will be:

Democrats__________

Republicans_________

Independents__________


After the 2006 election the composition of the US House of Representatives will be:

Democrats____________

Republicans_________

Independents___________


Please fill in the blanks.

Posted by: solar on April 20, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

I've always referred to the Republican platform as "organized cheapness."
But if you can convince half the country to vote for a dry-drunk, draft-dodging failed businessman over a sober, responsible Vietnam vet volunteer that considered joining the seminary in the name of religion, patriotism and fiscal responsibility, well, I guess God really is on your side. I just don't know why.

Posted by: Jim 7 on April 20, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

build up, I know you are trolling for the Republicans, but if you are right and there is no hope for a significant change given the genuine unpopularity of Republicans everywhere I think even you would have to admit that Tom Delay and his ilk have dealt a death blow to democracy.

On the other hand, I note that fewer and fewer people are self-identifying as Republicans. Those people who are no longer self-identifying as Republicans are up in the air this mid term. Some are probably going to stay home. Others will vote for a democratic candidate. Still others will continue to vote for old congresscritter Republican. The Democrats, on the other hand, are really red hot. They are going to vote, and they are going to vote for Democrats.

Of course you are right, most Republicans will hold their seats, but the Republican majority isn't as great as the Democratic majorities to which you refer. Not many seats need to change hands to change congress.

Your talk about the senate being more Republican after this cycle is wishful thinking and not subject to serious analysis. Already signs of change in the senate are emerging. The evidence of that emergence is the amount of distance Republican senators are putting between Bush and their re-election campaigns.

The one thing going well for Republicans right now is the economy, but the economy is at its peak. As high fuel prices become a bigger and bigger issue, unavoidable inflation will force the FED to tighten money which will slow the economy, which will throw the US into a recession. That recession should hit around September, if not sooner.

Have a nice day.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 20, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

They only have a small Majority.One other thing the right likes to keep silent on is the State House races where dems have been winning where a dems has never won before.

Posted by: Booo on April 20, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

I don't much care for build up's politics, but he does make a point. I'll believe there's a crack up when at least one house of Congress is in Democratic hands. And I'll believe that's a good thing when I start seeing some Ds with some stones who are willing to stand up to Bush.

Posted by: Gus on April 20, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Same old same old. People want government services, but are unwilling to pay for them. It will be tough for liberals to make headway against this attitude as long as the US is able to borrow overseas to make up the shortfall and sustain the illusion that it is possible to have one's cake and eat it too.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on April 20, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Gus,

I agree. Democratic "leaders" have got to stand up to Bush. We can't depend Murtha to carry the water for everybody. Gingrich knew that when he created his Contract with America. People will vote for folks who have an agenda.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 20, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican position today is not dissimilar to the one Democrats held in the mid-70s -- each party had better numbers in Congress than its standing with the public would have indicated likely. (Flukes -- Watergate and September 11th -- helped bring those situations about) Republicans ought to beware that precedent, as a fractured Carter presidency dealt serious, unexpectedly sharp blows to the Dems in the '78 and '80 elections -- they went from 2/3 to under-a-majority in the Senate, and lost roughly 50 House seats (only the presence of long-time incumbent boll weevils enabled them to hold onto the chamber). Bush's numbers are ominously close to Carter's, and, though there's a general assumption gerrymandering of districts makes such big changes difficult, we have no idea what a serious wave of anger might bring about.

Can we please wait for the California runoff before we declare the Cunningham seat still in GOP hands?

I think franklyo makes another good analogy, to the post-Thatcher Tories. When John Major unexpectedly pulled out the '92 British election, Tories -- like their GOP counterparts -- flattered themselves they could never lose again; I imagine many of them held delusional hope right up to election day in '97, and look what happened. That Bush and his gang pulled off small-bore victories in '02 and '04 (a miniscule-margined presidential victory; c. 9 House seats, most gained through redistricting; a Senate majority won by taking all the closest races) has persuaded his followers they are somehow uniquely unable to lose. Reality may well smack them in the face this Fall the same way it finally smote the Tories.

Posted by: demtom on April 20, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

I dither over these things for at least a half-hour each.

I find it generally helpful to lower my standards.

Posted by: frankly0 on April 20, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

"The party's main, almost sole, purpose has been to ensure that as much money as possible goes to those who need it least and that as little as possible goes to those who need it most. In a party of moneybags."

Hear, hear. I know some Republicans I actually respect, but I will admit that money is the single most important thing in their lives.

Posted by: Cal Gal on April 20, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Also Ironic that the poorest states, the ones who lose the most under the GOP, are their strongest backers."

I don't think this is correct. It's generally the blue states that send more to Washingon than they get back. California and New York lead the list, I think. Of course this may be BECAUSE they're blue & the Congress is controlled by (& therefore sending pork to) red staters.

"I guess anyone who's not a "money bags" and votes republican is a victim of false ideology."

Or wishful thinking. Of the same kind that has some many people thinking their children are going to have to pay estate tax. Probably NOT. Americans all think we can become millionaires, and many vote as if they were when they have absoltuley no real possibility of it ever happening.

Posted by: Cal Gal on April 20, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, nice to see Jeff Hart is still around... when I went to college, I was told that among the students he was regarded as nothing more than a drunk ---would not show up in class for a week, when he was on a bender!

But maybe that was just scuttlebutt... somehow, though, I don't think so.

Posted by: MikeyC on April 20, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK
Can we please wait for the California runoff before we declare the Cunningham seat still in GOP hands?

No, look, there is a clear standard at work here: it is never to early to judge things in favor of the position of the right, and always to early to judge things against them.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Hear, hear. I know some Republicans I actually respect, but I will admit that money is the single most important thing in their lives."

So liberal don't care about money? So why do you spend so my time trying to figure out ways to steal it form people who earn it?

Posted by: BlaBlaBla on April 20, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

The evangelicals ARE millionaires. These are people, who as Christ warned, already have their reward in full.

It's pretty meaningless to talk about millionaires "using" evangelicals. There's no seperation between the two.

Posted by: capt_hulko on April 20, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Could Heilbrunn have written the exact same review without reading the book ? ;o)

Posted by: mark safranski on April 20, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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