BREMER’S BOMB-SHELL

And Fred Barnes’ fellatial biography of Bush. (He makes Powerline read like the Daily Kos.) I try and make sense of each here. More on Fred’s book soon.

OUR NEW HITLER: Niall Ferguson fingers Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the new aggressor; and the West, hobbled by Iraq, as the new appeaser. Iran will be the major foreign policy problem of the next few years. I, for one, believe that you should take the words of genocidal maniacs seriously. As soon as Ahmadinejad gets a nuke, he will do what he can to wipe Israel off the map. He will also do what he can to get nukes or nuke material detonated in Western cities. Yes, it would mean an apocalypse of sorts, but if you’re Ahmadinejad, that’s a plus, remember?

LAHAYE AND AHMADINEJAD: The apocalyptic visions of the president of Iran are shared, of course, by America’s dispensationalist Christianists. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, meet Tim LaHaye. Here’s the latest from the “Left Behind” website, homebase for the most popular adult book series in America:

When Jesus died on the Cross, it fulfilled a prophecy. More prophecies were likely fulfilled in 1948 when Israel became an Independent nation and in 1967 when Israel regained control of Jerusalem from Jordan in the Six Day War.

“They will be brutally killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations of the world. And Jerusalem will be conquered and tramped down by the Gentiles until the age of the Gentiles comes to an end (Luke 21:24).”

As incredible as the Rapture, the Antichrist, the Tribulation, the mark of the beast, and the Millennium sound, they really are going to happen because the Bible says they will!

Put that guy on Karl Rove’s direct-mail list. But what’s really unnerving is how the Christianist right and the Islamist right both believe Israel is doomed. Here’s another version of the same mindset:

All streams of Islam believe in a divine saviour, known as the Mahdi, who will appear at the End of Days. A common rumour – denied by the government but widely believed – is that Mr Ahmadinejad and his cabinet have signed a “contract” pledging themselves to work for the return of the Mahdi and sent it to Jamkaran.
Iran’s dominant “Twelver” sect believes this will be Mohammed ibn Hasan, regarded as the 12th Imam, or righteous descendant of the Prophet Mohammad.
He is said to have gone into “occlusion” in the ninth century, at the age of five. His return will be preceded by cosmic chaos, war and bloodshed. After a cataclysmic confrontation with evil and darkness, the Mahdi will lead the world to an era of universal peace… Mr Ahmadinejad appears to believe that these events are close at hand and that ordinary mortals can influence the divine timetable.

Of course, America’s fundamentalists don’t want to nuke anyone. I’m not equating their actions with Islamists, just their theology. And as far as the imminent apocalypse is concerned, they’re on the same page as the Mullahs in Tehran. Just in case you were sleeping soundly at night.

ON THE OTHER HAND

Just when you feel no one gets it, another reader emails:

Looking forward to the new site. I stumbled across your site, I believe as a link from Josh Marshall’s in the winter of 2001, and the two of you have provided me with much sanity and enjoyment during the last four-odd years.

What’s impressed me with your blog and writings is how your personal politics and your own definition of “conservative” have largely stayed the same, despite the right-ward drift of our body politic and Washington leadership and the resultant bastardization of what “conservative” means, or at least, used to mean.

I’ve always voted for Democrats, but like you, I’ve grown distrustful of the current direction of the party. I’ll never be a Republican (the religious fundamentalists are anathema to me), but as your blog continually asks, I wonder/hope if there can’t be a third way in American politics? Not a Bill Clinton “Third Way,” but a true, grass roots, independent third party that combines some of the old-school conservatism of what used to be the GOP (fiscal sanity, foreign policy realism etc.) with the best of the Democratic party (inclusiveness, domestic competence, worker’s rights etc.). Or more simply: Fiscally conservative, socially liberal.

My dream too. And my book is an attempt to make the case more systematically than a blog can.

FROM THE YOU-CAN’T-WIN DEPT

I’ve got several emails like this today:

So you couldn’t be a Democrat because Kennedy may have accidentally misunderstood CAP-endorsed bad satire (assuming arguendo that what the CAP contributer says is actually true) as a demonstration of what CAP really believed. But Delay and the Abramoff scandal, the Terry Schiavo mess and the Bush’s adminstration’s demands that they be allowed to torture don’t turn you off the Republican party? Says a lot more about you and your self-delusions than about the Democratic party.

First off, my dislike of the Kennedy approach to hearings is not because he may have been duped by a satire, but because he has no idea of the law as a means rather than as an end, and has no compunction in smearing people for things utterly unrelated to their jurisprudence. Second, if a reader of this blog thinks I haven’t criticized the GOP over Schiavo, Abramoff and torture, then she simply cannot read. To the right, I’ve drifted “left” because I want a competent war. To the left, I’m self-deluded because I object to Kennedy’s low blows. The space for any thought between these two polar partisanships is getting harder and harder to find. And for the umpteenth time, I belong to no political party, have endorsed candidates from both over the years, and count myself a limited government conservative. I am not now and never have been a member of the Republican party.

A PETITION

Many Christians are signing an online petition to ask Pat Robertson to cut the Fred Phelps routine or retire. You can sign too.

MALKIN AWARD NOMINEE: “From Clement Haynsworth, William Rehnquist, Bob Bork, and Clarence Thomas, to Jeff Sessions, Bill Pryor, Charles Pickering, and Sam Alito — and scores of others — Kennedy has played the role of McCarthy for 40 years, and always to a fawning press. Hex92s a greater menace than McCarthy ever was.” – Mark Levin, National Review Online.

THE SADDAM DOCS

Hard to disagree with Bill Kristol on this one. We haven’t really had a thorough investigation of the documents from the Saddam regime that may or may not confirm Saddam’s extensive relationship with international terrorists. They’re not classified. Maybe there’s so much that it would take an age for government officials to comb through them. So here’s an idea: throw them to the blogs! Have the army of Davids scramble through every detail. Whatever side of the debate you’re on, we should all want to find out the truth, no?

SO LONG, FAREWELL, AUF WIEDERSEHEN, GOODBYE

Well, thanks once more to Andrew, both for his kind words and for subjecting all of you to my rambling for these past weeks. And, of course, to Ross, with whom I never did get to fight about his natalist impulses—which is probably just as well, as it likely spared me the embarassment of having my clock cleaned. Combining a Catholic conservative and a libertine libertarian was, in retrospect, probably a rough approximation of Andrew’s own Herman’s Head–style internal dialogue, but it’s time to let the elevator door close on the Muzak version and restore the Andrew Philharmonic. It’s been a blast folk; feel free to come visit here or here next time your boss isn’t looking over your shoulder.

—posted by Julian

JULIAN AND ROSS

It’s been a privilege. I don’t think there’s much doubt that Ross Douthat and Julian Sanchez are among the brightest minds in their generation, and I’ve been honored to have them aboard, while I concentrate on book-writing. The debates we’ve had illustrate, I’d like to think, how diverse the “conservative” world is now, and also how we can debate civilly without being boring. Don’t miss them in their usual homes, Ross here and Julian here. Thanks for being so welcoming to them and indulgent of my extra-curricular work.

BOOKS AND BLOGS: Thanks too for helping me write the book. Virginia Postrel recently noted how some “mainstream journalists” see bloggers as people who don’t read books. Ahem. We also write them, as Virginia has shown and as Glenn will soon prove. What I’m finding in my own book-writing is how much the blog has helped inform the book, how it has become a treasure trove of information and comment and ideas from all over the place. When looking to buttress a particular point or hunt down a piece of evidence, I find myself searching my own blog for links and data. The readers – that’s you – have also helped me immensely. Take the recent discussion of zygotes and dispensationalists. They are minor parts of the book, but I’ve gained a huge amount from your input. Not only is blogging compatible with book-writing, it may be helpful. The main problem is finding long spaces of time to wander around in your own thoughts. Books need that. Blogging makes it very hard. But that’s the only real conflict I’ve found.

FLAT-LINING: After a small bounce in November, Bush’s ratings are stuck in the low 40s. Mystery Pollster has the goods.

– posted by Andrew.