Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 5, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE BIG CON....I've got a review of Jon Chait's new book, The Big Con, in the September issue of the Monthly, and long story short, I liked it. Since that's kind of boring, however, I'll excerpt the part of my review most likely to annoy the largest number of people:

After six years of following the Bush administration with probably unhealthy intensity, I've come to a couple of conclusions. First, as much as the Christian right sets my teeth on edge — and oh man, do they set my teeth on edge — I've become less and less convinced that they have as much influence over the Republican Party as we secular humanist types often fear. Sure, they get plenty of symbolic bones tossed their way (abortion funding overseas, Plan B mischief, and so on), but in terms of big, substantive policy changes, they haven't exactly been winning political battles left and right, have they? Basically, they get bought off with Supreme Court appointments, and since John Paul Stevens has remained improbably hale and hearty and the next president seems likely to be a Democrat, they're probably never going to reach their Holy Grail: a court willing to overturn Roe v. Wade. Howling about this, along with continuing to fight their losing war against gay people, will probably keep them occupied in impotent (but lucrative) rage for the next decade or so.

Second, George Bush has not turned our country into Amerika. This case is a little harder to make, since there's no question that he and Dick Cheney have pursued a relentless policy of using 9/11 as an excuse to engineer ever more monarchal powers for the White House. Just to name a few: Bush routinely uses signing statements to gut laws he doesn't like but doesn't have the nerve to veto outright; the NSA is apparently data mining millions of phone calls without even a pretense at probable cause; and habeas corpus has been suspended for American citizens on Bush's mere say-so. Still, compared to the Palmer raids of the 1920s, the internment camps of the '40s, McCarthyism in the '50s, and COINTELPRO in the '60s, it's frankly remarkable that our national response to 9/11 has been as muted as it has. America may be a bit the worse for wear in the democracy department compared to six years ago, but it's still America.

If you think I'm crazy, I guess you can stop right here. But as odious as these things are, the truth is that fears of Bush the Fascist and Bush the Theocrat are little more than minstrel shows that distract us from truly taking notice of Bush the Plutocrat — and that's the Bush that really matters.

Just in case the tone of my review didn't make this clear, I'm really not trying to minimize the danger posed by either the Christian right or the Bush/Cheney mauling of the constitution over the past six years. Honest. But Bush has given lip service to the Christian right for so long that it's impossible not to believe that they're mostly getting conned along with the rest of us, and Bush's wartime monomania can be (and hopefully will be) repaired by the next occupant of the Oval Office.

The GOP's jihad against the working and middle classes, however, is far more powerful, far more insinuated into the DNA of virtually every Republican politician, and undergoes far less scrutiny by the media. The great strength of The Big Con is that rather than reciting the usual laundry list of Bush-era conservative sins — as most books of this genre do — it focuses on the four or five of them that really matter, "all of them related because they're in service to one great primal sin: the by now almost complete subordination of the modern Republican Party to business interests and the rich."

Plus I also like the subhead that someone put on the review: "Forget neocons and theocons. It's the money-cons who really run Bush's Republican Party."

Money-cons. Hmmm. Money-cons. That could catch on!

Kevin Drum 1:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (72)

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Comments

The greatest threat to America as we know and love it comes from the spineless, dishonest, and corporate biased MSM. For one reason or another, too many people cant or dont take the trouble to look too far or too hard for alternative perspectives to that presented on the evening tv news.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O/F in 08 on September 5, 2007 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

Woo hoo! Dog bites man!

The religious right being used is NOT news.

Until and even after W got a big new shiny terrorism toy to play with, his aim was big time tax cuts. These he accomplished 5? 6? times in a row, or until the Ds won majorities in both houses.

I hope the book has more than what was quoted to recommend it.

Posted by: MaryCh on September 5, 2007 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

The money-cons. Heh. I guess I'm guilty of premature commentary. I'll read the full text next time, though I still refuse to preview.

Posted by: MaryCh on September 5, 2007 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

It's not like Bush made any secret of his intentions. On the campaign trail in 2000:

Bush gazed around the diamond-studded $800-a-plate crowd and commented on the wealth on display.

"This is an impressive crowd - the haves and the have-mores," quipped the GOP standard-bearer. "Some people call you the elites; I call you my base."

Posted by: joe on September 5, 2007 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK


Tax cuts for the rich are the everlasting mission of the GOP. In good times and bad, their goal is always to un-tax everything except wages.

Now: what was their reason for invading Iraq? I'm not talking about WMD, terror, democracy, or any other transparently silly PR talking point. I mean: inside their own heads, what were Dick and Dubya's motives?

On the Sherlockian principle that once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth, I say: Dick and Dubya's inner vision was a quick and easy victory over a tinpot dictator, resulting in major political capital for the Warrior President and his party, to be cashed in for the GOP's Holy Grail: ensuring that Paris Hilton can inherit her daddy's un-taxed capital gains tax-free.

If that seems like an improbable motive for invading a foreign country, compare it to the publicly stated motives.

-- TP

Posted by: Tony P. on September 5, 2007 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

George Bush has not turned our country into Amerika

It's convenient here that you only focus on domestic affairs. If you turn your eyes beyond these shores, the response to 9/11 has been far from 'muted.' One need only venture to gaze at the ~million people killed in Iraq; the ~5 million displaced; and the countless numbers who have had their lives destroyed by the 'response' to 9/11.

Stop being so fucking myopic, Kevin. 'The things aren't so bad' shtick wears thin.

Posted by: Bill on September 5, 2007 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

You are naive and fooling yourself if you don't think that Bush's fundamental evisceration and alteration of the Department of Justice is every bit as damaging, long termed and insidious as the factors you worry about; if not more so. It is hard for those that do not understand and have experience with the justice system to see or understand this; but I assure you from someone who does that this is, in fact, the case.

Posted by: bmaz on September 5, 2007 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

It isn`t like we didn`t know

"...money makes the world go round..." - Cabaret

Posted by: daCasacadian on September 5, 2007 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

A (better) quote from the link:

But eventually someone needs to notice that Republican policy is no longer rooted in any kind of

recognizable conservative principle. Instead, it has become little more than a program of preventing the

middle class from sharing in the gains of economic growth and divvying up the resulting loot among the

richest of the rich. There is, unfortunately, no longer a more delicate way of explaining it.

I'm not fond of presenting this as an either/or or proposition. There's nothing wrong with the argument

that 'Bush the Plutocrat' is more dangerous than 'Bush the Theocrat' or 'Bush the Fascist', but

emphasizing the one should not be done at the expense of diminishing the harm done by others.

It also seems a bit glib and facile to suggest that the ramifications of warrantless wiretapping, military

tribunals, and the loss of habeas corpus are somehow more tolerable when compared to (arguably worse) past

government abuses like the internment camps of the 1940s or COINTELPRO. First, it is a matter of debate which is worse - especially when you consider potential consequences (not just those that have been realized). Second, even if one agrees that past abuses of power were worse, it still in no way

excuses or diminishes the harm done by our contemporary abuses of power.

Similarly, it is all too easy to suggest that the Religious Right has been conned into supporting the

Republican party, as evidenced by the supposedly modest number of victories the GOP has won for them.

Except it is somewhat irrelevant whether or not they have been conned into supporting the GOP; however they get there, their support for the GOP is likely the sine qua non of all of the abuses the GOP has perpetrated. Without their support, Bush would not have been elected and the GOP likely would not have enjoyed its recent majorities.

Similarly, much of the harm caused by the confluence of the Religious Right with the Republican party goes unnoticed or is otherwise incidental to the religious agenda. For example, whether or not Roe v. Wade is overturned in the future, we're all living with the incidental consequence of a Supreme Court that has shifted much further to the right.

Voters who believe the GOP is the standard bearer of their faith are less likely to question, criticize or leave that party. They will also be more likely to view political opponents as moral inferiors and enemies of their faith.

Examples such as these are hard to quantify or check off on a list of successes - but the impact they have on our nation are anything but trivial.

These nitpicks aside, the rest of Kevin's review does a good job of making the book sound like a worthwhile read.

Posted by: Augustus on September 5, 2007 at 3:14 AM | PERMALINK

(serves me right for not previewing the post... reposted to improve formatting)

A (better) quote from the link:

But eventually someone needs to notice that Republican policy is no longer rooted in any kind of recognizable conservative principle. Instead, it has become little more than a program of preventing the middle class from sharing in the gains of economic growth and divvying up the resulting loot among the richest of the rich. There is, unfortunately, no longer a more delicate way of explaining it.

I'm not fond of presenting this as an either/or or proposition. There's nothing wrong with the argument that 'Bush the Plutocrat' is more dangerous than 'Bush the theocrat' or 'Bush the Fascist', but emphasizing the one should not be done at the expense of diminishing the harm done by others.

It also seems a bit glib and facile to suggest that the ramifications of warrantless wiretapping, military tribunals, and the loss of habeas corpus are somehow more tolerable when compared to (arguably worse) past government abuses like the internment camps of the 1940s or COINTELPRO.

First, it is a matter of debate which is worse - especially when you consider potential consequences (not just those that have been realized). Second, even if one agrees that past abuses of power were worse, it still in no way excuses or diminishes the harm done by our contemporary abuses of power.

Similarly, it is all too easy to suggest that the Religious Right has been conned into supporting the Republican party, as evidenced by the supposedly modest number of victories the GOP has won for them. Except it is somewhat irrelevant whether or not they have been conned into supporting the GOP; however they get there, their support for the GOP is likely the sine qua non of all of the abuses the GOP has perpetrated. Without their support, Bush would not have been elected and the GOP likely would not have enjoyed its recent majorities.

Similarly, much of the harm caused by the confluence of the Religious Right with the Republican party goes unnoticed or is otherwise incidental to the religious agenda. For example, whether or not Roe v. Wade is overturned in the future, we're all living with the incidental consequence of a Supreme Court that has shifted much further to the right.

Voters who believe the GOP is the standard bearer of their faith are less likely to question, criticize or leave that party. They will also be more likely to view political opponents as moral inferiors and enemies of their faith.

Examples such as these are hard to quantify or check off on a list of successes - but the impact they have on our nation are anything but trivial.

These nitpicks aside, the rest of Kevin's review does a good job of making the book sound like a worthwhile read.

Posted by: Augustus on September 5, 2007 at 3:28 AM | PERMALINK

Have you forgotten that we're at war, Kevin? Bush's Plutocracy may be more prominent than his Autocracy and Theocracy on the Big Board of Sins, but surely his Militarism should be front and center. Whatever damage his class warfare in favor of the very rich has produced, it hasn't created 4 million refugees and however many hundreds of thousands of corpses. The problems created by international warfare are also much harder to undo than tax cuts and weakened regulations.

Posted by: Blar on September 5, 2007 at 3:28 AM | PERMALINK

It isn't that Bush is so bad, because it should be easy to throttle him; but that the system of checks and balances seems totally defunct. "With every law he can dispense; no ties the furious monster hold."

The greatest danger, however, to the Republic comes from the PC liberals and their support of massive chamberpot immigration and illegal infiltration. Impossible to be overrun by the truly massive numbers and not take on the characteristics of the cultures people are fleeing.


Posted by: Luther on September 5, 2007 at 3:29 AM | PERMALINK

joe (2:08) - that line by Bush before the 'elite' crowd is exactly what came to my mind when reading Kevin's post. I thought it was the most telling moment of Fahrenheit 911. And it still amazes me that it hasn't made it's way into a kazillion Dem ads, at least the ads of the few Dems (Kucinich, e.g.) who aren't afraid to offend the rich. I've never seen it anywhere but in Moore's film. Have any of you? Lordly, seems somebody could do a powerful piece by expounding just a bit on the world of hurt to the rest of us embodied in that candid moment.

Posted by: Fel on September 5, 2007 at 3:51 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "Money-cons. Hmmm. Money-cons. That could catch on!"

I certainly hope not. Adding "-con" after everything would be almost as annoying as the most current overused political suffix in play, "-gate."

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 5, 2007 at 4:35 AM | PERMALINK

Lets just jump right to con-gate and let that run it's course and put two annoying suffixes to bed in one fell swoop.

Speaking of to bed - goodnight.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 5, 2007 at 4:59 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin writes a review of a book about the Bush presidency, and the words "Iraq" and "war" aren't mentioned once in it.

But we do find this comment on Bush's restrained response to 9/11: "it’s frankly remarkable that our national response to 9/11 has been as muted as it has" Kevin says.

So, according to this article, there's not much to worry about with Bush except his economic policies. Interesting.

Posted by: JS on September 5, 2007 at 5:00 AM | PERMALINK

Luther: "The greatest danger, however, to the Republic comes from the PC liberals and their support of massive chamberpot immigration and illegal infiltration."

Good Lord. Another died-in-the-wool, "Oh my God, the Mexican hordes are going to make us all eat dogmeat tacos" yahoo ignoramus.

Dammit, man, put down your Confederate battle flag and musket, and grow up! This is the 21st century, not the 19th, from which you obviously resurrected such mindless xenophobia.

The greatest danger to American democracy lies with clueless baboozes like you, whose own thinly-veiled prejudices render you incapable of finding your own ass in broad daylight, even if provided with a handmirror and schematic directions.

I mean, really: "It isn't that Bush is so bad ..."

Why don't you join egbert -- or whatever the hell he's calling himself this week -- in his mother's basement? Maybe he'll share with you his The Collected Works of Jeanne Kirkpatrick, and then you can both tremble for your country together.

"Embarrassing, embarrassing ... no wonder why the country's going down the tubes." -- Sgt. Dave Karsnia, MSP Police Dept. (June 11, 2007)

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 5, 2007 at 5:14 AM | PERMALINK

Ya know Kevin, you wtite a good article, and it took me awhile to figure this, and maybe I'm wrong, but your number of blog posts are dropping.
I don't think thats A bad thing, cause I feel you still have quite a few readers.

So what happened?

Have you hit upon a truth neither side can argue against? That is, are we experiencing a party shift during a time of war, or really a police action?

Nonetheless, I feel a shift in thinking what with the credit bubble burst and all.

Ya Know?

Just sayin'

Posted by: Ya Know..... on September 5, 2007 at 5:27 AM | PERMALINK

"The GOP's jihad against the working and middle classes, however, is far more powerful, far more insinuated into the DNA of virtually every Republican politician, and undergoes far less scrutiny by the media."

I love J. Chait's work, I really do. And it seems to me that he has a strong argument, if he has convinced K. Drum! So count me in too!

Perhaps, the reason the plutocrat Bush undergoes less scrutinty by the media and doesn't disturb stunning numbers of working and middle class Americans is because they buy into the Reagan era "greed is good" ethic.

I think TonyP's deductive logic--"Elementary, my dear WM reader!"--is insightful: that Bushco invaded Iraq because they anticipated an easy victory that would consolidate Republican power. The fact that he and Cheney have oil interests and Halliburton interests didn't hurt. Now, the cost of the war feeds the "starve the beast" government-weakening logic of the Republican party.

The economic damage that Bushco has done is deep. The deficit, the gutting of funding for SS, the goring of funds for infrastructure, even for tools of economic growth as the Census. His Supreme Court appointments will twist the Constitution in favor of plutocrats. Bush's lack of action on the environment (a plutocratic issue because environmental preservation goes against the short-term interests of oil companies, car companies, developers, etc) have caused long-term damage and loss of time, that will haunt us longer than the chaos he has inflamed in the ME.

So Chait is right, and the only question is when, if, enough Americans will realize that the plutocrat "greed is good" ethic has been used against them.

Posted by: PTate in FR on September 5, 2007 at 5:54 AM | PERMALINK

Will don't look now but the Money-cons run the Clintons too.

Posted by: Me_again on September 5, 2007 at 6:33 AM | PERMALINK

Count me unimpressed by Chait's book so far, judging from what appeared in the New Republic and what you quoted in your column.

Both you and Chait close your eyes to the fact that, domestically at least, close to 50% of American voters feel they get what they want from the Republicans--lower taxes and government programs that benefit "the deserving," that is, middle-class folks like themselves. They have been voting Republican over and over for the past 25 years.

They haven't been hoodwinked or tricked, or anything else. They don't want to pay taxes to help poor people. They don't care how many people don't have health insurance. They have health insurance. They don't worry about harming Mother Nature. They like big, fast SUVs that will take them where they want to go. And digging up the corpse of Walter Mondale isn't going to win the Democrats any elections. The New Deal is over, folks, the New Deal is over.

Posted by: Alan Vanneman on September 5, 2007 at 7:03 AM | PERMALINK

I agree that the unholy alliance between conservatives and corporations is a huge danger to the American Republic. In fact, it is one of the defining characteristics of fascism.

Show me one place in the Constitution where corporations are accorded any rights whatsoever...

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 5, 2007 at 7:33 AM | PERMALINK

Very nice Kevin. I think you nailed it.

Posted by: glichte on September 5, 2007 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

I agree - the true drivers of the Republican party are the big money boyz and the faceless corporations they run.

Since Nixon, it's always been a con job getting "the base" all riled up in hatred and division over some bigotry or other (racism, misogyny, homophobia, etc), but masking this ugliness under a veneer of Christian or family "values". I've always viewed them as a bunch of easily fooled half-wits, but I suppose I should use the (more PC) term "right wing authoritarian followers".

Notice, though, that election after election, what "the base" gets all in a self-righteous tizzy over never costs the big money boyz a single cent. Get 'em all riled up over the sanctity of a fetus, say, but never give a dime for pre-natal care.

The first political book I read was "The Selling of the President" by Joe McGuiness when I was in high school. It was about how Nixon pioneered the use of marketing techniques and advertising companies in his 1968 campaign. I remember at the time wondering how people can be so easily fooled, that surely the press can see through all of this facade, but boy, was I wrong.

Posted by: ESaund on September 5, 2007 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

Somehow, I doubt that Hillary clinton is going to surrender George Bush's dictatorial powers. And no matter how much Kevin Drum may want to pretend otherwise, declaring the right to imprison and execute people without trial; the right to spy on Americans in any forum they may inhabit; and the right to do whatever he wants despite congress's will; are actually dictatorial powers. Kevin Drum may not want to seem like he's not taking these issues seriously, but he's clearly not. He's a stupid old man trying to tell the rest of us to calm down. Well fuck him, he's been wrong EVERY GOD DAMNED time he makes one of these 'it's not so bad' statements. And yet the fucking moron keeps making them.

God. Damned. Elitist. Hack. Those big money types kevin drum is oh-so-comfortable with want a police state every bit as much as the fundies. Pretending otherwise is what makes so many of you complete idiots.

Posted by: soullite on September 5, 2007 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

My two young sons will not live to see the damage undone by these thugs. Just on the environmental front alone (which tends to be, umm, more permanent), that won't happen.

Posted by: MaxGowan on September 5, 2007 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter Kevin: Bush is not as bad as Pinochet.

Posted by: gregor on September 5, 2007 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

"Still, compared to . . .COINTELPRO in the '60s"

Er - can we? That is, accurately compare it to COINTELPRO at this point (for better or worse)? I mean, up until '71, if you started going on about black bag jobs and the FBI planting false stories in the media or sending anonymous defamatory letters to the parents, employers, etc. of random college students, I imagine you would have no mainstream credibility, since it was still, well, secret?

Posted by: Dan S. on September 5, 2007 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

The only problem with your analysis, Mr. Vanneman, is that the middle classes haven't actually gotten anything from the Repubs except a terrific screwing.

Posted by: CN on September 5, 2007 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin- a proportional analysis. Nicely done.

Posted by: ckreiz on September 5, 2007 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

If you're going to fight the plutocrats, the yacht-loving denizens of Nantucket are a good place to start. The Wind Farms of Nantucket are being opposed by the filthy rich who are upset it will disturb their views and interfere with the port tack.

The sordid affair is documented in a funny and depressing book titled "Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound." In it, authors Wendy Williams and Robert Whitcomb (full disclosure: Whitcomb is my editor at The Providence Journal) describe the bipartisan endeavor to betray America's environmental and energy interests -- and ignore the welfare of the year-round locals.

Kennedy did much of the dirty work in Washington, but he had considerable help. In 2004, Sen. John Warner, the Virginia Republican, added a last-minute rider to an urgent Iraq War funding bill that forbade the Army Corps of Engineers to spend money permitting offshore wind projects.

"Warner was dragging American troops into the Cape Wind war," Williams and Whitcomb noted. The outcry forced him to back down.

Why did Warner care so deeply about a wind-energy project in Massachusetts? Some of his fabulously wealthy relatives own choice waterfront property on Cape Cod. That's why.

Anchorage is 4,600 miles from Boston. And so what was this project to Rep. Don Young, the Alaska Republican? It was apparently an opportunity to exercise an old grudge against Theodore Roosevelt IV, the 26th president's great-grandson and a wind-farm supporter.

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander also took an unusual interest in a venture far from his home state of Tennessee. Complaining that wind farms threaten "the wholesale destruction of the American landscape," Alexander introduced legislation that would have banned virtually all offshore wind projects in America. It turns out that Alexander owns a fancy piece of real estate on Nantucket Island.

Posted by: RSM = Swaggering Jingoistic Goon on September 5, 2007 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

The Repulicans are more klepto-cons than money cons.

Posted by: mark on September 5, 2007 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

klepto-pros methinks...

Posted by: snicker-snack on September 5, 2007 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Accept your future in debt peonage.

Posted by: Peter VE on September 5, 2007 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Whenever liberals complain about cuts to aid for the poor and the soaking of the middle class, conservatives holler "Class war! Class war!" Meanwhile, they've carried out their own full-blown class war against the poor and middle class, using hot-button social issues to distract voters and the media from the truth.

Klepto-cons. I like that.

Posted by: AndrewBW on September 5, 2007 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, thanks for telling us that you're not "trying to minimize the danger posed by either the Christian right or the Bush/Cheney mauling of the Constitution over the past six years."

Except, well, when you write that we really don't have to worry about "Bush the Theocrat" and "Bush the Fascist", I wonder what you've been smoking. We've got a president who has consolidated power in the executive branch, run by his lawless VP (who shot a guy in the face; the guy later *apologized*); they brag about breaking the law and flouting the Constitution; they blackmail Congress into whitewashing their illegal actions; they use violent, apocalyptic rhetoric pitched to their reactionary religious base to justify one unjustified war-turned-quagmire and they're already talking about another one, despite the glowing success of Welcome To The Slaughterhouse Part I (which, in case you didn't notice, Bush wants to *lock* next year's presidential contenders into continuing indefinitely), and the subversion of the *normal* checks and balances that might hinder any, some, or all of this is, to you, not what we should focus on, because you think some future president can fix this.

Good luck with that.

Posted by: Chris on September 5, 2007 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Well, sure, we've done worse things domestically in the past, but as someone born in the 1970s, I TOOK IT FOR FRIGGIN GRANTED THAT IT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. Congress didn't re-enact the Alien and Sedition Acts either, but that's not really much of a bar, is it?

Yes, of course, Amerika hasn't happened, and I can still write "George W. Bush is a stupid monkey-face" on a blog, and not worry about jack-booted government thugs breaking down my door. America is still a very, very good country, and, in world history, a pretty benign hegemon.

But let's get serious about proper standards to apply. The Bush administration's lawlessness, and the degradation of our public discourse, is making us re-fight battles that were fought and won thirty-plus years ago.

No, Bush doesn't get any credit for not being as bad as McCarthy.

Posted by: Elvis Elvisberg on September 5, 2007 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter Kevin: "Why no, I am not now, nor have ever been, a Dirty Fucking Hippie. Is there anything else I can help you with?"

Posted by: Chris on September 5, 2007 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Man Kevin what are you smoking? Do you think the kind of damage Bush has done to the country will just blow away when we get a different administration.

Earth to Kevin these crooks are not done yet. Stop being a simpleton.You must look at the whole and not just slices. It's almost like your saying well it all be ok when we wake up tomorrow from this nasty dream. Face it we've got work to do here.

Posted by: Gandalf on September 5, 2007 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you say things are not so bad, how deluded you must be to ignore the shocking truth: after six years of George W Bush, fully 50% - that's HALF - of Americans are BELOW AVERAGE! What's more, there are over four million MORE Americans below average than during the entire Clinton Administration.

Well, sorry, but decent thinking people can never share your incredibly blinkered view of the destruction wrought by these thugs. Who's paying you off?

Posted by: Seppo on September 5, 2007 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Bad news, Seppo -- I think "The Washington Monthly" just endowed the Kevin Drum Very Serious Person chair at Brookings. Or AEI; sometimes there's no practical difference.

Posted by: Chris on September 5, 2007 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

fully 50% - that's HALF - of Americans are BELOW AVERAGE!
Posted by: Seppo

Bzzzzt. They are below the MEDIAN.

Posted by: Swaggering Jingoistic RSM on September 5, 2007 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Chait overlooks Alito's vote on overturning an abortion procedure right, first of all. No, Roe v. Wade may never be overturned. But, with the current SCOTUS, it's edges will be nibbled at more and more.

Second, all due respect to both the Palmer and McCarthy Red Scares, I wouldn't hesitate to put the Cheney-led evisceration of civil liberties in the same category.

So, yes, Chait's comments do put me on edge. I think they're unwarranted. Of course, what can you say? The man works for TNR.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 5, 2007 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter Jon Chait: Bush is a mainstream moderate on social and foreign policy issues. His defining characteristic: he is the Prosperity President.

Posted by: Al on September 5, 2007 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, some prosperity. This just in: Today we borrowed a billion dollars from China, just like yesterday, just like tomorrow. Trillion dollar surpluses turned into trillion dollar deficits. True conservatives (note the small "c") are horrified.

Posted by: MaxGowan on September 5, 2007 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

[deleted]

Posted by: mhr on September 5, 2007 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin: it seems sometimes you go way too far placating the right wing to maintain a "moderate" status. This review is a perfect example. It is impossible to say how much planetary damage Bush has done. From undermining democracy in America to squandering perhaps our last best chance to confront global warming and pollution, his impact grows more dire every day. Breaking the military. Killing or displacing millions. These are not mere trivialities. We will witness an uncontrolled chain reaction of disaster soon if he does not step down or at least become stifled by Congress or the courts. Your review reminds me of Gonzales' review of the Geneva Conventions. Calling global disasters and war "quaint" compared to wealth distribution lacks a certain moral courage. Since they have refused to be accountable to Congress, just how certain are you this isn't Amerika jetzt? It is hard to know how far the fabric of our republic has been torn beneath the paste-up facade of the corporate media. I am unimpressed by any serious commentator who minimizes the collateral human damage of easily the worst President ever. People are desperately holding out for 2009 if they can make it. The tax cuts and wealth redistribution are almost the least of his sins. You sound like you want to share a beer with Caligula.

Posted by: Sparko on September 5, 2007 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

In regards to neocons, theocons and "moneycons".
My high school economics and American History teacher always used to say: "money talks, BS walks and we are all running a close third."
So as "Deep Throat" used to say, "follow the money". Who every has it, has the power.

Posted by: Trainer12 on September 5, 2007 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Bush's wartime monomania can be (and hopefully will be) repaired by the next occupant of the Oval Office.

Not a chance. Hillary has already said that she will maintain troops in Iraq, and she has beaten the war drum regarding Iran almost as loudly as Bush is doing now. As are all of the presidential candidates.

War, constant war, is the goal. It is a source of enourmous profit to those who provide the campaign coffers.

Posted by: Bill H on September 5, 2007 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

A simple explanation for why the worst abuses of the past have not been exceeded in our latest "time of peril": For all our talk, no one is as worried about America's existence now as they were in prior crises. Had 9/11 been followed up by major truck bombings, more anthrax, and who knows what else, the sober arguments of those of us who believe in constitutionalism and limited executive power even during war would have failed to gain traction. Though one 9/11 was not enough to create in-country internment camps, are we really so much more enlightened than our forbears that three, four, or five such events would not have?

Our constitutional and democratic trouble really began when Bush consciously invoked the language of war to describe our struggle against Al Qaeda - thereby giving him extraordinary power to push the limits of his office (and at the same time legitimating Al Qaeda as akin to a nation-state). How much better off we'd be if the nation had embraced the understanding that our adversary was an international gang of thugs - and one rogue nation whose future we really could affect for the better.

Posted by: christor on September 5, 2007 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

You seem to be suggesting that because a Democrat won't nominate SCOTUS justices that will overturn Roe, the Christian Right doesn't have that much influence over the Republican Party. That doesn't make a lot of sense. That their main goal of overturning Roe isn't inevitable doesn't change the fact that effectively having veto authority over Republican nominations to the Court is a pretty substantial power.

Posted by: Royko on September 5, 2007 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

A FYI Reminder:

Just because a Democratic President appoints a person to the USSC doesn't mean that person won't vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Sure, a vote to overturn is less likely from a Democratic appointment than from a Republican appointment, but the history of the USSC is replete with examples of nominees defying expectations.

Posted by: Aaron Adams on September 5, 2007 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

"The greatest threat to America as we know and love it comes from the spineless, dishonest, and corporate biased MSM. For one reason or another, too many people cant or dont take the trouble to look too far or too hard for alternative perspectives to that presented on the evening tv news."


You left out "lazy, greedy and incompetent," but other than that, you are exactly right.

Posted by: cazart on September 5, 2007 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

You've never heard of "faith-based" grants, Kevin?

Posted by: Mooser on September 5, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

"all of them related because they're in service to one great primal sin: the by now almost complete subordination of the modern Republican Party to business interests and the rich."

Sadly, this can be said about the mainstream Democratic party as well.

Posted by: bloviator on September 5, 2007 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Agreed. The money-cons are the enemy and the greatest threat to our Republic, lifestyle, and freedom. What is the best way to bring them down? Default on your 2005 mortgage, stop shopping and do not vote Republican or Democratic.

Posted by: Brojo on September 5, 2007 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Basically, they get bought off with Supreme Court appointments,

For anyone who doesn't think that Supreme Court appointments are a big deal, I would remind them of the 5-4 Bush v. Gore decision. Please, buy me off with something that will allow me to take control of the entire US government in a judicial coup d'etat.....

Posted by: Stefan on September 5, 2007 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Plus I also like the subhead that someone put on the review: "Forget neocons and theocons. It's the money-cons who really run Bush's Republican Party."

You've got it!

Obviously, it's not an either-or situation, but I'd rather have a country with far more economic equality and mobility with Roe v. Wade overturned than our current stratification with retention of Roe v. Wade. Unfortunately, too many progressives are far more concerned with abortion than with economic haves vs. have nots.

Posted by: Vincent on September 5, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kev: I agree with Blar, among other posters. Usually I agree with your view of things that the United States moves at a glaciar speed on cultural, political and economic matters. But the Bush presidency has brought absolute havoc on millions of individuals around the world and their misery takes little comfort on glaciar speed. The hundred of thousands of dead people, the millions suffering and the reputation of the country in tatters is not something easily remedied. Perhaps things can improve with the next president; but can you imagine if it is a Republican? Do you honsetly think the republic can withstand another four years of this corrupted ineptitude? I don't think so. What I am saying is that the country of the United States is in peril, not because of terrorists, but our own unhinged response to them. So please, go whistling past the graveyard, but do not fool yourself in thinking things are swell; tell that to the millions (yes millions) of maimed Americans; deported immigrants; uninsured children and working Americans who over half of them have had a net decrease in the standard of living the last thirty-five years. I cannot believe that you think the situation at hand can continue indefinetely. It is not the single issues but their cumulative effect.

Posted by: Raoul on September 5, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

"but I'd rather have a country with far more economic equality and mobility with Roe v. Wade overturned than our current stratification with retention of Roe v. Wade. "

Hmm .. .

"Posted by: Vincent "

Yep.

Posted by: Dan S. on September 5, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Think Kucinich will be allowed to stick it to big biz on the national stage, the way only he could? How long before he's not allowed on the stage?

Posted by: Captain on September 5, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

You've got it!

Obviously, it's not an either-or situation, but I'd rather have a country with far more economic equality and mobility with Roe v. Wade overturned than our current stratification with retention of Roe v. Wade. Unfortunately, too many progressives are far more concerned with abortion than with economic haves vs. have nots.

i'm not willing to cede _my_ fundamental right to exercise control over _my_ medical care. it's not either/or by the way.

Posted by: spacebaby on September 5, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

A lot of people seem to have forgotten that implementing a serious tax cut was NOT a Bush campaign creation. It didn't come along until Nov/Dec. 1999, when Bush briefly polled as the #2 GOP primary candidate --- behind Steve Forbes, who preached a $1 trillion tax cut.

Once Bush learned the GOP nod was completely for sale, he rushed out his own tax cut. And soon, so did every other Presidential candidate. When the smoke cleared, Bush had outbid everyone with a $1.65 trillion proposal that even Forbes later confessed was crazy.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on September 5, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

George Bush has not turned our country into Amerika.

I respectfully disagree.

We cannot address a single societal need because Mr. Bush has helped to solidify and entrench the belief amongst the American people that the government cannot possibly address any of society's needs.

We cannot stop our army from killing thousands of innocents.

We cannot provide health care for the sick.

We cannot provide education to our children.

We cannot provide out impoverished with hope and economic security.

We cannot provide our future elderly with financial security.

We cannot stop polluting our environment.

OK, we don't have jack-booted thugs breaking into our homes -- too much, any way (see "SWAT teams"), but we have been systematically deprived of collective action. It surely began before Mr. Bush, but his idiotic style has allowed these forces to take root so firmly that I must concur with the poster up-thread who said his chilren will die before the effects of this are fully undone.

Posted by: Jim Pharo on September 5, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Bush's lack of action on the environment... have caused long-term damage and loss of time, that will haunt us longer than the chaos he has inflamed in the ME.

I have been screaming for years that this (lack of action *plus* actually gutting every env reg in sight) is the primary (read: most costly) problem with the GWB admin, and one that has pretty much flown under the radar images of the Iraq War, fiscal irresponsibility, and evisceration of the USConst.

Posted by: Disputo on September 5, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Just to refresh your memory, do go and read this account of how our democracy was usurped by the GOP, or more specifically, by the GOP minions in the SCOTUS.

Posted by: gregor on September 5, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

"but I'd rather have a country with far more economic equality and mobility with Roe v. Wade overturned than our current stratification with retention of Roe v. Wade. "

All other problems with this aside, overturning Roe v. Wade would result in more economic equality and lack of mobility for over half of our citizenry as women who would normally be able to abort would have to carry out their pregnancies, severely damaging their ability to hold down jobs or continue their studies. Lots of two-income households would very quickly drop to one-income, and the remaining income earner would be responsible for feeding and clothing additional children, further putting a strain on family finances.

Posted by: Stefan on September 5, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Lots of two-income households would very quickly drop to one-income,

Yes, but with the decrease supply of labor due to putting women back in their natural place, wages for men would increase, making up the difference. Win-win!

Posted by: Invisible Hand on September 5, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

"It's the money-cons who really run Bush's Republican Party."

And every other Republican president's Party Jon. In short they really run the Republican Party Period.

Last time I witnessed someone state something so obvious was 15 years ago on vacation, taking refuge from inclement weather in a hotel bar, when the local Lancaster County, PA. TeeVee weatherman in an attempt to explain the reason why the banks of the Conestoga River were overflowing and washing away residents' belongings and my holiday opined...."When the rain comes down, the water goes up!".

I'll echo now for Chait what I offered the weatherman at the time.

Thanks Goober!

Posted by: JackNYC on September 5, 2007 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

If Roe v. Wade were overturned, blue states would remain pro-choice, while a certain number of red states would restrict abortion.

In terms of population, this might affect 1/10 - 2/5 of the country, to offer a WAG.

Republicans would have a severe electoral problem, which explains why they want to appeal Roe v Wade in very slow motion.

Posted by: Measure for Measure on September 5, 2007 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah sorry. They tortured an American Citizen onto the point of INSANITY and people are okay with it. That's revolting.

Posted by: MNPundit on September 5, 2007 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

It's weird the way that people focus on relatively short-lived examples of american government running roughshod over the rights of the people (e.g., the internment of Japanese persons in the 1940's). No one seems to mention the 150-plus years of the Black Codes and Jim Crow laws or the 200-plus years of slavery. Is it possible to have a serious discussion on the issue while consistently ignoring this history?

Posted by: Nick on September 6, 2007 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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