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. This is Part II of our discussion of the book — Part I was hosted last week by Marc Maron, and can be found here. (And boy did you mis out if you weren’t there last week. Thank goodness you made it today…whew!)
Let me start by saying how proud I am of Sam and Stephen for using a little device that I like to call “the footnote.” You know, where you find useful information in one source and quote from it — or use the information extensively to prove a point — and actually give credit to the person who originally wrote about this information. (Don’t you bet that Ann Coulter wishes she had done that more in her book(s) and articles? But I digress…)
F.U.B.A.R. is a fantastic read, and I’m not just saying that because I like getting booked on The Majority Report. The book is laugh out loud funny, and I could probably produce several fellow plane passengers to vouch for my raucous laughter while reading it, if need be.
The fact that I could sit there with this book and read about Karen Hughes’ goodwill crusade (oops!) tour around the Islamic world where she talked incessently about motherhood the only issue that women like to talk about clearly and many other issues in common with other women. Ahhhh…the sweet smell of failure success!
By the way, I checked the RaptureReady.com Rapture index today and we are minus a net 2 points to 155. Whew! Guess I can stop sotcking up on canned corned beef and wheat berries now (but no one is making me stop stockpiling duct tape). I’m eternally grateful to Sam and Stephen for introducing me to this handy salavation tool, but one thing doesn’t make sense to me: in a listing of variables that could lead to the rapture, such as Satanism, false Christs (at 2! today!), global turmoil, mark of the beast, etc., why do they also have a listing for “civil rights” as if it is one and the same with plagues and such? (For more, see Ch. 4, Apocalypse Now)
Anyway, it sure is good to know that someone is keeping track of all of this. As you no doubt remember from last week’s very serious discussion of the “Rapture Right,” there are an increasing number of folks driving around this nation of ours with those fish emblems and bumper stickers that read “In the case of the Rapture, this car will be driverless.” (I’ve thought about starting a conversation with one of those drivers at the local WalMart, but she had that bun and koulots look going on, with five kids in tow and, well, I didn’t have the heart to ask her whether she ought to be so cocky about the whole rapture thing and whether God really likes people who think of themselves as a “sure thing.” But I figure she’s got enough on her plate, what with the koulots and all…)
Here are some fun facts about life in America during the Bush Administration that I’ve learned from Sam and Stephen. (Wow, funny AND educational. Who knew?)
– If the Bush Administration’s Social Security reform plan goes through and part of the benefit is privatized made into personal accounts, you still have to pay back to the government part of everything you make on your account (assuming you make anything at all and haven’t lost it in some wacko get-rich-quick fund) — 3 percent interest above the rate of inflation, to be exact.
– Real hourly wags have fallen 2.2 percent since the tax cuts in 2002. Way to go, Shrub! (Oh, wait…)
– The median household income has dropped every single year that Bush has been President. (Heckuva…oh…)
– The poverty rate has risen every single year since 2001.
– As of August, 2005, the savings rate for Americans had dropped -2.5 percent, the lowest rate since the Great Depression.
– The average American now spends nearly 14 percent of their disposable income servicing the pay off on their personal debt.
And that’s just for starters. (See Ch. 6, The Republican Cat Food Promotion Act of 2006, and Ch. 8, Fun Things to Do When You Are Broke.)
One of my favorite chapters deals with The Republican Neurological Disorder Act of 2005 (the “Clear Sky Initiative.”) Yes, we can all look forward to increased neurological damage thanks to the rising levels of mercury on just about everything we touch, eat, wear or breathe. Mercury poisoning can cause numbness, dementia, ADD and Parkinson’s disease, and all sorts of mental abnormalities and behavioral problems.
Why yes, this is a photo of Rep. Jean Schmidt of Ohio. No particular reason, why do you ask?
Sam and Stephen spend quite a bit of quality time talking about Life as a Gay Republican (or “I Hate Myself.”, Ch. 13 and Ch. 14 and Ch. 19). As the folks who attended last week’s chat know, the Spongebob Satanpants and Lenny the Cross-dressing Shark phone call (beginning on p. 102) was one of my favorite moments ever in the history of radio broadcast. (Okay, I exaggerate, but it’s pretty damn funny…) You can listen to the conversation between Sam and Ed Vitagliano, a pal of James Dobson, here at Air America.
The point of this extensive discussion of the Republican Party, homosexuals, latent homosexuality, hidden homosexuality and homophobia is…well, it’s just not nice to bash people in public and be one in private, now is it? I have always had a personal policy of not outing people who haven’t outed themselves, mainly because a number of close friends have had to endure all manner of horrid treatment from family members and former friends after coming out and the consequences of forcing that on someone else just seem so devastating.
But then, you contemplate the nastiness that the Republican electoral “hate the gays” agenda has brought on in the last few years, and you begin to think that the rank hypocrisy of some people who have pushed it forward is particularly galling.
Again with the questions. Yes, this is Rep. David Drier, why do you ask? I just found this lovely photo while I was browsing at the Washington Life webpage and thought I’d share it. That’s all.
But Sam and Stephen’s discussion of some history on Roy Cohn and his paramour/male secretary and some current members of Congress and the Republican Party who have made it a point to publicly skewer homosexuals and make life very much more difficult indeed for them, all the while practicing the very same lifestyle that they have publicly villified behind closed doors does raise an interesting ethical dilemma that is worth discussion. How far is too far — both by the elected or powerful political official whose public and private personas are so mismatched, and by an activist of opposing political stripes who might take things public that, for other people entirely, might have remained forever private? Very interesting questions, and something I hope we discuss much further today.
My favorite chapter of all, though, might have been titled “Cutting Through the Kool-Aid.” Ch. 21 “How to Win Friends and Convert Republicans (Or Just Convert Republicans)” is genius, both in the practical tips and in the high level of snark. (In fact, the level of snark throughout the entire book is quite high. Kudos!)
Sam and Stephen set up helpful dialogue scenarios so that you, too, can go to an Applebees or “the Club” or to visit your “SuperJewish Grandma” or date a “Born Again girl” (or boy or…whatever) and talk about the issues that concern you in a way that pierces the Kool-Aid veil. Useful! And using the Repture Right philosophy to scare your Super Jewish Grandma into reality — priceless!
There is so much more goodness in this one, little book…but discussion is also a very good thing. So here are a few questions to get this party started:
1. The humor and snark in this book is particularly effective as a tool for getting a message across on very difficult and weighty subjects while keeping the interest going at the same time. Why don’t more Democrats wake up and realize this is an effective tactic? (See The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Lewis Black, et. al.)
2. As Sam and Stephen point out in the book, the media is not our friend. Jane and I have begun referring to them as having “battered press syndrome” (and that was certainly evident for Bobo Brooks today, wasn’t it?), and we need to continue to balance pushing back (the stick) against encouraging better press behavior (the carrot). But how best to do that?
3. Hypocrisy is rampant in Washington, D.C. – throw in just one, big “values voter” suck up-a-thon, and I’ll raise you a Fornigate and throw in a Ralph Reed for good measure. I mean, honestly, is there any wonder that people in America are disgusted with politics at all levels. Aside from mocking the people most heavily involved in this idiocy, what other means are there to best clean things up, inside the Beltway and around the country?
4. What is the most effective means of getting the progressive message across to the masses — and how can we promote the hell out of it?
5. When are Sam and Stephen writing another book?
As always, folks, please keep this comments thread on topic for the book club. Other comments may continue in the privious thread. Thanks!