At midnight, this blog moves to Time.com. Don’t worry about finding us. Just type in the usual URL – http://www.andrewsullivan.com – and you should be automatically redirected to the new site. The same applies to bookmarks: no need to change them. Of course, I’m nervous. There will surely be early glitches so please bear with us if there are. I’m also headed to NYC, despite this horrible bronchial bug that seems to be going around. I’m scheduled on The Colbert Report Tuesday night. And happy MLK Day.
Category: Old Dish
QUOTE FOR THE DAY
“We could also restore Dr. King’s role in the continuing story of freedom to its rightful prominence, emphasizing that the best way to safeguard democracy is to practice it. And we must recognize that the accepted tradeoff between freedom and security is misguided, because our values are the essence of our strength. If dungeons, brute force and arbitrary rule were the keys to real power, Saudi Arabia would be a model for the future instead of the past.” – Taylor Branch, peerless historian of the African-American civil rights movement, NYT, today.
MLK DAY: Aaron McGruder has, as usual, a less serious take here. I love Boondocks’ grand-dad. I wish there were more of him.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IRAN
Hoder has a suggestion.
KING GEORGE?: It was partly Sam Alito’s idea back in 1986 to take the rarely and sporadically used device of presidential signing statements and use them as a battering ram to increase executive power. For a couple of centuries barely two dozen were appended to laws. During Reagan, they became more popular, and were continued under the first Bush and Clinton. But under W, their use has exploded. By some estimates, this president has used them five times as often as any predecessor and has vastly increased their scope. When it comes to passing laws that affect any executive branch, including the military, this president has all but declared himself an independent body. My own take on this can be found here. The NYT has a story here. Not much has been written on this but there’s an excellent summary by Philip J. Cooper and original documents to back up his analysis here (click on the link that says “Public Law, Policy, and Public Administration”). This can be esoteric stuff, but it matters. If it means this president will continue to break the law and authorize torture, it matters a lot.
ALITO AND CAP
A Princeton grad thinks I’m missing something:
I graduated from Princeton in the mid-1980s and remember CAP and Prospect well. While that particular article may have been satire (and ask yourself, what exactly were they satirizing? Who is laughing at whom here?) the viciousness of CAP’s language throughout its existence was apparent to everyone who saw it. That is why the organization had no support on campus, even from conservatives. CAP didn’t oppose affirmative action, it opposed the admission of women, people of color, gay men and (doubly) lesbians, to Princeton. As far as I can recall, CAP existed solely for the purposes of spreading this ugly rhetoric. They did nothing aside from publishing Prospect, nothing except for finding various ways to express their bigotry.
Why does this matter for Judge Alito? Of course there is no reason to think he is personally a bigot. But in order to get a job he was willing to say “yeah, I’m with those bigots over there.” Should someone like that have a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court? This is not guilt by association – Alito is the person who chose to do the associating. He volunteered a connection to an extremist organization and it is reasonable and appropriate to ask him about why he threw his lot in with these people. While Judge Alito may not have signed off on each and every word, he did sign off on the group as a whole at a time when very few Princeton alumni did. And it really is shameful.
THE MISSING CENTER
An emailer concurs:
“I think for a lot of people in the center, what party loyalty they have is based on which extreme they fear or dislike more: The religious right or the radical left.
Personally, I often disagree with the religious right — I’m a social and cultural libertarian — but I’ve never considered them to be anathema. For me it’s the radical left personified by Dean, Kennedy, Cindy Sheehan, Moveon.org, etc. that I find so repellent to keep me supporting GOP candidates.
However, give me a viable center party that believes in defending the nation and practicing social tolerance and I’ll be there supporting it. Problem is, the key word is “viable.” Until then, I remain a reliable Republican voter, if only to keep the Deans and Ted Kennedys of the nation out of power.”
Yes, there’s nothing so valuable to George W. Bush and the religious right than Daily Kos, Moveon.org and Ted Kennedy. What would he do without them?
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IRAN
Hoder has a suggestion.
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.
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. He’s a greater menace than McCarthy ever was.” – Mark Levin, National Review Online.