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Dialing for Doomsday: George W. Bush and the End of the World
September 10, 2002
By Maureen Farrell

"What harm can he do in four years?" I'm ashamed to say it, but that was my initial reaction to the Supreme Court's selection of George Bush as president. Attempting to avoid alternating waves of gnawing discomfort and quiet desperation, I asked myself a question my imagination dared not answer. Squelching a parade of fears, I sacrificed truth and clarity at the altar of rationalization. "It's not the end of the world," I said, and set my sights on 2004.

Now it appears those first fears were but legless underachievers. Early concerns focused on the environment and education and what Paul Krugman refers to as our "$7 trillion reversal of fiscal fortune;" certainly nothing as dark as what's transpired in the past year. Even as civil liberties, international commitments and our right to petition the government fell by the wayside, and it looked as if incompetence, neglect or something worse contributed to what went wrong, I needed to trust that this president was above exploiting tragedy for personal or political gain.

Using the Statue of Liberty and Sept. 11 as backdrops, however, he continues to shamelessly cull Americans into accepting his agenda: "War is peace. Slavery is freedom. And we're going to attack Iraq no matter what." As one seasoned government official told the Christian Science Monitor, "This administration is capable of any lie. . . in order to advance its war goal in Iraq." Given Gulf War propaganda expert John MacArthur's assertion that this crew will "make up just about anything ... to get their way," it's now clear that unimaginable harm can occur in a matter of months. And, frankly, musings on "the end of the world" are open to interpretation, too.

Initially, Armageddon chatter was met with amusement, a la Y-2K hand-wringing and millennium madness. Some saw Satan in the smoke clouds, just as others see the Virgin Mary in their Cinnabons. Surprisingly, however, a recent Time/CNN poll showed that a whopping one third of all Americans are now checking the news for apocalyptic signs. And raptureready.com webmaster Todd Strandberg joyfully updates his "Rapture Index" as events unfold.

While Armageddon aficionados might be easily dismissed, when Brent Scowcroft says an attack on Iraq will lead to Armageddon and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa warns it will "open the gates of hell," these matters take on more weight. Likewise, when a Saudi diplomat explains that Bush's "obsession" with Iraq will lead to tragedy, one thing becomes starkly clear: Armageddon, tragedy and "gates of hell," aren't words traditionally used by generals and ambassadors.

Various mainstream sources have also reported that Christian Zionists are campaigning to oust the Palestinians in order to make way for the Second Coming of Christ. Considering Biblical prophecy a mandate for awarding regional control to Israel (while downplaying another aspect of the "to do" list - conversion of the Jews), conservative Christians are not only funding Jewish settlers, but garnering immense influence in Washington. The secretive Council for National Policy, for example, which ABC News labeled "the most powerful conservative group you've never heard of," includes John Ashcroft, Tommy Thomson and "Left Behind" author Tim LaHaye as former members.

Despite pressure from the Democratic National Committee, the Bush campaign refuses to release a tape of the rumored "king-making" speech G.W gave before the council in 1999, fueling speculation that the council was responsible for his presidential nomination. Whether that's true or not, as the Washington Post reported last December, "For the first time since religious conservatives became a modern political movement, the president of the United States has become the movement's de facto leader."

Those looking for more scientific explanations for End Times hoopla can find them. The Mayan calendar, for example, ends abruptly on December 21, 2012. Decoded from Mayan text, it centers on precise mathematical equations, and, unlike other ancient calendars, is more accurate than our own. Orthodox Jewish mathematicians have attempted to decode the Bible, as well. Based on the premise that hidden messages are embedded within the Torah, as a sort of in a crossword puzzle of world events, this method was brought to the public attention in 1997, when Michael Drosnin's The Bible Code became a New York Times bestseller. Using a letter-based numerological system created by Jewish mystics and facilitated by computer technology, Drosnin concluded that the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Kennedy killings were among major events foretold in the first five books of the Bible. He also used the code to predict the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin (whom he personally warned) and searched the Mezuzah scroll for signs of the Apocalypse. There he found "terrorism" encoded with "world war," and "atomic holocaust" aligned with the year 2006. For fans of the Mayan prophecies, 2012 is encoded with the phrase "earth annihilated."

It should be noted, however, that Drosnin has his share of detractors, even among scientists who endorse the Bible code. One mathematician used Drosnin's technique to decode Moby Dick, and found hidden messages regarding the assassination of Gandhi, Leon Trostsky and Martin Luther King, while another used Drosnin's method to discover the phrase, "the code is bogus" embedded in Genesis.

A fake Nostradamus quote that snaked its way around the Internet was similarly debunked. Written by a student mimicking the French physician's style, it read that "2 twin brothers torn apart by chaos" would be the catalyst for World War III. Identified as a hoax, it detracted from Nostradamus' eerie prophecy that a "King of Terror" would descend from the skies and usher in a devastating global war. Though Nostradamus predicted this would occur in 1999, one quatrain referred to "hollow mountains" and the "new city" which, in retrospect, sounds like New York skyscrapers. Author Francis X. King explained it this way. "After the descent of the 'King of Terror," he wrote, in 1994, "the world [will] be ravaged by conflict of a previously unknown ferocity." Nostradamus cites a 13-year alliance between the U.S. and Russia which falls apart when both sides "give into barbarian power."

Of course, anyone doing the math will uncover monumental inconsistencies while surfing Doomsday dials. If the Mayans and Mezuzah scroll are correct, life as we know it will end in 2012, yet Nostradamus suggests this war will rage for 27years. And Christian Zionists won't be satisfied until the Jews control Jerusalem and rebuild God's temple, whenever that might be. In times of uncertainty, however, people reach for explanations where none exist. Whether one calls it faith or superstition, we seem to have an innate need to understand that which we cannot. On one hand, it's silly to put stock in such things, while on the other, Hamlet's observation that, "There are more things in heaven and earth. . . than are dreamt of in [our] philosophy" has never been more timely.

Which brings us back to King's 1994 translation. In the opening pages of his book, NOSTRADAMUS: Prophecies Fulfilled and Predictions for the Millennium & Beyond, he says Nostradamus warned that a world leader aligned with a necromantic cult would be responsible for "setting the East aflame." Anyone familiar with Skull and Bones should understand why believers question George Bush's role in this apocalyptic vision, though a Cheney/Bohemian Grove connection fits, too. Mention any of this at a cocktail party, however, and people will most certainly move to the other side of the room. Even when accompanied with credible warnings on how a U.S.-led attack against the Middle East will lead to Armageddon and open "the gates of hell," talk of Nostradamus and Mayans will make you sound weird, if not crazy.

In any event, the question "What harm can Bush do?" now seems woefully na´ve, just as the phrase "it's not the end of the world" isn't quite as convincing. Odds are, it's not the end of the world. But until the Bush bunch leaves the White House, it will probably feel like it is.

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