As I type this, I am listening to Terri Gross interviewing Bob Edwards, discussing his book on Edward R. Murrow. I know, I know — go ahead, tag me as a hopeless NPR liberal. Hearing Edwards talk about Murrow and Joe McCarthy brings to the surface so many thoughts and emotions about returning to the United States after spending the majority of the Bush era abroad.

Foremost among them: that as bad as the McCarthy era was, at least the kooks of that era never got full control of the government then.

That’s not true now.

All branches of government are now fully in control of the Republican Party. And the Republican Party is no longer a union of Midwestern pragmatists and Eastern Elites. It’s controlled by the wackos. Folks who want to make sure our kids learn about Intelligent Design. Folks who see no possible good in any work of government, and want to get it small enough to strangle in the bathtub. Folks who believe the Rapture is surely coming soon, and want to make sure our Middle East policies are crafted to support, or even fulfill, the prophecy. Folks who are happy to pile up trillions of dollars of debt for our kids, without thinking twice about it, and gleefully noting there is no fat to cut (after voting to spend billions on bogus transportation projects). Folks who are telling the thrifty Chinese that they should spend more, and save less — just like us.

If you have any doubt the nut jobs are fully in control — and no sensible person should have any doubt at this point — just look at the lengths Bush and his allies have gone to assure the Christian Conservatives that Harriet Miers is one of them. Who is really in control here?

Watching from London, I knew the situation was bad. Being back, reading the papers every day, it worse than bad.

But I’m an optimist, and still not quite willing to accept that this is really the country I love and grew up in; we’re just experiencing a temporary lack of sanity. Please, fellow Democrats, let’s give folks a better choice in 2008. I have ideas about that, more later.