• Ah, Powell. The good soldier to the end. And we should believe him now because he’s been so accurate in the past, right? Not that it matters; Kevin Drum sees ominous signs
  • Dowd today pretty much sums up the administration in one sentence: “First, faith trumped facts. Now, loyalty trumps competence.”
  • Barbara Ehrenreich:

    Of all the loathsome spectacles we’ve endured since Nov. 2 ā€“ the vampire-like gloating of CNN commentator Robert Novak, Bush embracing his “mandate” ā€“ none are more repulsive than that of Democrats conceding the “moral values” edge to the party that brought us Abu Ghraib. The cries for Democrats to overcome their “out-of-touch-ness” and embrace the predominant faith all dodge the full horror of the situation: A criminal has been enabled to continue his bloody work with the help, in no small part, of self-identified Christians.


    In the aftermath of election 2004, centrist Democrats should not be flirting with faith but re-examining their affinity for candidates too mumble-mouthed and compromised to articulate poverty and war as the urgent moral issues they are. Jesus is on our side here, and secular liberals should not be afraid to invoke him. Policies of pre-emptive war and the upward redistribution of wealth are inversions of the Judeo-Christian ethic, which is for the most part silent, or mysteriously cryptic, on gays and abortion. At the very least, we need a firm commitment to public forms of childcare, healthcare, housing and education ā€“ for people of all faiths and no faith at all. Secondly, progressives should perhaps rethink their own disdain for service-based outreach programs. Once it was the left that provided “alternative services” in the form of free clinics, women’s health centers, food co-ops and inner-city multi-service storefronts. Enterprises like these are not substitutes for an adequate public welfare state, but they can become the springboards from which to demand one.

  • Speaking of… The Party of the Moral Values Voters has voted to let members of Congress retain leadership positions even if they have been indicted, you know, just in case anybody tries to give poor Tom DeLay a hard time. They owe him, after all that effort he put into a potentially illegel redistricting scheme in the state of Texas that won them five more seats. One of the delicious ironies about this is that Republicans concocted this rule in 1993 in order to cripple Democratic Ways and Means Chair, Dan Rostenkowski, during his own “challenges.”
  • Good question, Father Jake. Where go the moral values voters when US soldiers are slaughtering terrified families:

    “Why is there little moral outrage about this? I thought the American people recently claimed that “moral values” were at the top of their list of priorities?

    I suppose that there’s only so much moral outrage to go around. So much has been expended on legislating sex and denying health care for women that there’s not much left for war crimes.”

    Meanwhile, Margaret Hassan is gone. A terrible, terrible shame that accomplishes nothing but increased hardship for the Iraqis she served, and would probably go a long way toward turning sympathies against her kidnappers, if only the US could keep its own savageries and war crimes off the front pages for a few weeks.

  • I’ll have to consult with a couple of learned Hebrew expert friends to get their take on this, but it sounds spectacular and I can’t wait to read it: Robert Alter has published a new English translation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible…

    “…His argument is that past translations either get the Hebrew wrong or mangle the Bible’s syntax or lose the power of the work or even are so up-to-the-minute that they become too conversational to be accurate or interesting.

    He was also determined to get back into the book every single “and” that other translators left out, saying that part of book’s majesty is built by its use of repetitions.

    The 1611 King James version, perhaps the most famous book ever written by a committee, may reach poetic heights, but Alter says it is fraught with “embarrassing inaccuracies” and often substitutes Greek or Latin words and Renaissance English tonalities and rhythms for biblical ones…”

Thanks for your patience this week. I’m getting settled in to the new schedule, and still bouncing between offices. Things should lighten up after Friday!


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