Unfucking the Donkey by Rick Perlstein

Everyone: Please read this. Several times. Rick Perlstein knows about as much as any lefty about how the Republicans’ newspeak has undone the Grand Coalition that kept this country reality-based [a few Repub presidents aside] from FDR to round about 9/11.

He thesis is simple: by “Kerrying” ourselves and wrapping our core values around the axle of overdetermined policy arguments and special interests, we allow the other side to walk across the goal line.

The Republicans understand us better than we understand ourselves. When we are not credible defenders of the economic interests of ordinary Americans, we amount to little. When we are, we’re a nuclear bomb to the heart of their coalition.


Here’s Bill Kristol, in a famous 1993 memo I’m sure you’re all familiar with: “Health care is not, in fact, just another Democratic initiative . . . the plan should not be amended; it should be erased. . . . It will revive the reputation of the . . . Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests.”

I’d say this memo is the skeleton key to understanding modern American politics, if it didn’t make me yawn. There’s nothing here that’s unfamiliar to historians who’ve read Republican secrets going back 25, 35, even 70 years. You can sum them up in 10 words: “If the Democrats succeed in redistributing economic power, we’re screwed.”


It doesn’t take much to demobilize a machine voter: Just install some doubt that people who claim to be their champions are not really their champions. If the Democrats had been united against the bankruptcy bill, we could even have demobilized some of these Freepers.

That’s the way they did it with us. The stuff about the Democrats being “cultural elitists” spread a nagging doubt. People stopped looking to the call board. Even some of the activists.

The time is ripe to do it to them. A Pentecostal friend of mine just returned from a mission to El Salvador with his childhood church from rural Louisiana. He used to regale me with tales of annual July 4 Pentecostal retreats that were like Nuremberg rallies in praise of the Great Leader. That’s over now. The straw that broke the camel’s back, he tells me, was people not being able to afford to go to the dentist. They also have vanishingly low faith in Bush’s foreign policy, and in the Iraq war.

Like a steel trap

I’ll be honest. I don’t know enough about the Federalist Society to know if I should care whether or not Mr. Nice Guy, the Supreme Court nominee, was a member. What I do know is this: If one of the supposed finest legal minds in the country, a guy who’s supposed to be able to digest and analyze critical pieces of information over time, can’t REMEMBER whether he was or was not a member, and if so, in what capacity, well, maybe he’s not all that sharp. I’m just sayin.

I can’t remember all kinds of shit, but that’s probably because I smoked too much pot as a teenager, plus, the civil rights of all Americans don’t hinge on whether or not I can recall what happened in the past. Like, you know, stuff that laws were passed about and shit. I mean, come ON!

Thank you. I feel nominally better now.

Bush: Waging war on terror, one child rape at a time

And no, that’s not hyperbole.

The new round of Abu Ghraib photos that the badministration is refusing, in contempt of Federal court order, to release, apparently includes evidence of rape and child sodomy. [When Rumsfeld calls something “sadistic,” it has to be bad.] But apparently Bush wants more of the same. So much so that he is threatening to veto the $422 billion Defense appropriations bill if it includes any restrictions on prisoner treatment or investigation of already reported abuses. And guess which crazy liberals in Congress are leading the charge? Senators McCain and Graham. McCain, as Rove was quick to smear him in 2000, is all soft on POWs since he was one himself. But when a Republican Senator from South Carolina has to stand up to speak for human rights and the rule of law, you know that shit is officially fucked up.

As Hunter at Daily Kos puts it:

I think it’s time to invent some new swearing, because there isn’t anything currently in the language that fully encompasses the White House’s unapologetic attempts to ensure the Bush administration’s own crafted and approved “interrogation” policies be allowed to continue unhindered. Yes, according to the Bush administration, any attempts by Republican senators to legislate against, say, the sodomizing of detained children are unduly infringing on the president’s fight against terrorists.

Had the Christian Right any sense of decency left–or even a shared brain cell capable of perceiving irony–they would be speaking up on this. I do seem to recall some squeamishness about sodomy in their past activism. Could we perhaps get Dobson to clarify his position on child rape? By his silence one is forced to assume he only cares about pedophilia when it’s perpetrated by Catholic Priests of NAMBLA. He probably has a snippet of scripture that justifies it when undertaken by the CIA, or when the children in question are Muslim.

Because I read the news and have a conscience, I can no longer claim to be proud of my country. Until this gang of thieves and criminals are driven out of power, no more national anthems or pledges of allegiance for me. “Regime change begins at home,” as the bumper sticker proclaims, and until we manage to hold these people accountable we are all complicit.

I’m ready to march, ready to go to the barricades, and damn near ready to riot if that’s what it takes. This administration’s arrogance and stupidity has left it critically weakened. If we as Democrats can’t finish the job, we don’t deserve the name. If we can’t ride Rove out of Washington on a rail, we don’t deserve our country back. And if we can’t keep women children from being raped in our prisons around the world, we don’t deserve safety from the bombs thrown by their fathers and brothers. If we have truly stooped to the tactics of the terrorists, we deserve the Armageddon Bush’s base so desperately wants to provoke.

Windows Vista?

Huh? Windows Vista is the official name for Longhorn. While I’m intimately familiar with the convoluted processes that rule naming deep in the bowels of Microsoft, I’m still surprised that they resulted in this. I think it’s vaguely ridiculous, or maybe ridiculously vague.

22 Doors

We wandered up to 15th to eat at 22 Doors last night when we couldn’t get a table at Crush on Madison. Short review: The food there is fine, just fine. The appetizers (we had Lemon Prawns and Dungeness and Artichoke Dip) were yummy. The entrees at our table we okay, nothing special really. Not bad, but not worth fawning over. The dessert (Warm Chocolate Cake) was delicious. Go for appetizers and beer and give them a few more weeks to get their game on. It’s nice to have something in that space again.


Because it’s much more satisfying to imagine Rove roasting over a prosecutorial spit, I can’t yet muster much emotion about Bush’s nomination for SDO’s SCOTUS spot. But my old college pal Emily Bazelon has a scary bit in Slate about his most recent opinion.