Obviously, some of this book is deliberately polemical. Moulitsas is well-aware that the mainstream American Right is not remotely as extreme as the Taliban even in some areas where they share common premises. Even the most hardened American social conservatives (at least the ones with any influence) don't advocate the stoning of adulterers or throwing acid on the faces of girls who attend school. The difference between executing gays and wanting to deny them legal equality is obviously one of kind, not merely degree. In those areas where one finds such fundamental differences, the point of the book is clearly a rhetorical strategy, not a literal equation. The American Right has benefited politically by constantly suggesting a liberal sympathy, if not an outright alliance, with Islamic Terrorists, and Moulitsas' argument seeks to subvert that tactic by linking conservative fanatics with their Islamic counterparts based on common views and impulses. It's perfectly reasonable to debate whether that tactic is effective or constructive -- I'm ambivalent about those questions -- but it's simply silly to impose on the book a literalism it plainly does not intend and then righteously rail against it on that basis (Digby has more on that issue here and here).And you know, there's wrong and there's wrong. As I said, this is exactly the same defense offered by the promoters of Jonah Goldbugger's potluck political history of "Liberal" "Fascism", which was likewise a political history with the trappings of a polemic, or a polemic with the trappings of a political history, depending on the day of the week and the political affiliation of the reviewer. Just as, if you are willing to ignore the vast preponderence of evidence, history, and behavior, you can make the case that the leftward side of American politics embraces schemes of social engineering and such that are vaguely reminiscent of mid-century European totalitarianism, you can likewise, by ignoring everything inconvenient, paint a picture in which the superficial religiosity and social atavism of the currently ascendent portion of the American "conservative" faction stand on common ground with Islamic traditionalists, in both cases strengthening your argument by loudly and repeatedly stipulating that yes, yes, you understand they're not the same.
But American conservativism is no more like the Taliban than Nancy Pelosi is like the Fuhrer. I wouldn't expect a hack like Digby to get it, but Greenwald is hip to the empire and understands that the two parties are two halves of a cooperative endeavor, that their stylistic differences are actual but wholly superficial, and that they share the interests of American hegemony--that the Democrats and Republicans in power are equally committed to an aggressive foreign policy, the garissoning of the world, and to a program of surveillance and statism at home, a policy of militarizing the police and subjugating individual autonomy to the false prerogatives of security. Greenwald knows this, and even writes about it sometimes; he understands that Barack Obama is no less an imperialist than George Bush. Greenwald has used his column to remind his broad readership that under Barack Obama, the hope and change candidate, the war in Afghanistan has escalated; the covert wars in Pakistan, Yemen, and East Africa have escalated. So, Digby is a hack. But Greenwald, what is your excuse?
And what is interesting here is that the Taliban, who before we invaded Afghanistan were a regrettably backwards and brutally theocratic regime who would eventually have been ousted by some other coalition of forces in Afghanistan--some collection of Northern tribes or whatever--has been transformed into a legitimate organization of national resistance to a foreign occupying power. You gonna pin that label on the GOP?