[Today in the FDL Book Salon, we are so thrilled to be discussing F.U.B.A.R. : America's Right-Wing Nightmare by Sam Seder and Stephen Sherrill. Joining in the discussion today is their pal, Marc Maron, who really needs no introduction because you likely remember him from his Air America work...you do, don't you? As always, please keep discussion on the Book Salon thread confined to talking about the book and the issues raised therein -- you may continue other discussions in the previous thread. Anyway, welcome to Marc...let the serious discussion begin. --CHS]
So the country is Fucked Up — according to Sam and Stephen, "beyond all recognition." Sam tells me that he knows the actual acronym is "beyond all repair," but that Sam is "an optimist and still thinks it can be repaired.
He doesn’t sound so optimistic here, but I still agree with him:
This is a different kind of fucked up. It’s the Rapture Right Paradox: to whatever extent you realize Bush and the Rapture Right have fucked America up, it’s always worse. And however ever worse you think it is, it’s worser.
FUBAR isn’t just another Bush bashing book. It focuses on a particular strain of Republicanism — the far-right Christian strain of Republicans or as I like to call them, the Christo-Fascist-Zombie-Brigade. But the authors also make a good case that this is no longer just a strain of the Republican Party, it is the Republican Party:
…We use the terms "Bush," "republicans," and "rapture right" interchangeably. What was once the fringe—the embarrassing cousin they saw only when they had to (special occasions, especially the ones held every four years in November)—has now become the heart of the Republican Party. They’ve finally got the real power, and, like Bush with the phantom "political capital" he claimed to have earned after the 2004 election, they intend to use it.
And if you don’t believe them, after that are two hundred pages of evidence of how they’re already using it. Here’s a quote they have from George Grant, former executive director of Coral Ridge Ministries:
Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ—to have dominion in the civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness. But it is dominion that we are after. not just a voice. It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after. World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. and we must never settle for anything less. If Jesus Christ is indeed lord, as the Bible says, and if our commission is to bring the land into subjection to his lordship, as the Bible says, then all our activities, all our witnessing, all our preaching, all our craftsmanship, all our steward- ship, and all our political action will aim at nothing short of that sacred purpose. Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land—of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ.
And even if you’re a liberal, even if you follow politics, even if you happen to host a liberal political radio show on an ailing liberal radio network, a lot of what Sam and Stephen dig up will surprise you.
This is the shit that the Christo-Fascist-Zombie-Brigade are doing under the radar, on the state level, organized through their underground railroad network of gigantic fanatical churches, the zombie factories. Things like:
– Abstinence-only "sex ed" programs, which Sam and Stephen call the "Oral and Anal Sex Enhancement Initiative."
– The Creation Museum being built in Cincinnati for $25 million dollars, which claims that the earth is only 4000 years old and that humans and dinosaurs were around at the same time — how do they know this? Because there’s a dragon on the flag of Wales.
– How the "intelligent design" advocates now use the language of the enlightenment (we just want "both sides debated," have an "open mind,") to attack evolution. Choice quote here? "If you can cause enough doubt on evolution, liberalism will die.’" So says Terry Fox, pastor of the largest Baptist church in the Midwest.
– The Republican battle against the battle against mercury in your water, right called here "The Republican Neurological Disorder Promotion Act of 2005."
The authors helpfully include a list of "fun things to do with neurological damage." ("Unofficially ‘patrol’ the Mexican border…Hang out socially with Robert Novak.")
As you might guess with Sam and Stephen, the book is also funny. As you might not guess, Sam stole a significant part of his comic "take" from me years ago, and still won’t admit it. I’d discuss it more here, but am unable to, due to pending litigation that Sam could have drawn up himself had he not dropped out of law school.
There’s the speech FDR would have given after Pearl Harbor, had he been a bit more like Bush (a comparison the Bush people have tried to make in several speeches). There’s a career counseling quiz for senior citizens, in case the GOP succeeds in killing Social Security, which they’re reportedly going to try to do again next year. There’s Rick Santorum’s sex advice column ("The Secretary of Love").
And then there’s a lengthy examination of the weird phenomenon of gay Republicans, in which the authors make a convincing case that all homophobes are gay — yeah, of course, we all sort of know that, but, turns out, there’s a real study. Sam tells me that Michael Medved asked him on the book tour if Sam and Stephen were "partners…outside of the book." Yeah, why would someone give a shit about homophobia if they’re not gay? (Though in Medved’s defense, that author photo ain’t helping any. Michael probably just looking for a context to put the photos in for his own use later in his mind and hand.)
People often ask if it’s hard to satire the Bush administration, given that most of their rationalizations sound so insane already. That is, of course, true, and what’s great about FUBAR is that a lot of the humor seems out there at first, but then you realize that what their doing is just taking the internal logic of the Bush administration one step further. Which is why everyone should read FUBAR — sure we all have scandal fatigue (it’s the genius of the Bush administration — they fuck things up so much, you can’t focus on any one thing), but a lot of what seems funny now, won’t seem so funny when it actually comes true. And the more light we shine on them, the less likely that will be to happen.
Oh, and, also, there’s the phone calls. One of Sam’s bits on the show (that he didn’t steal from me) is where he calls right-wing lunatics (as the "family reporter" of The Majority Report) and calmly asks them about what they’re doing, like the guy who claims that "Shark Tale" is a secret gay conversion movie. You can listen here. It’s funny, but not to the millions of people that take this stuff seriously. Which is why we should, too.