I haven't said much here about now-former judge Roy Moore, the Alabama chief justice who was removed from office this week. The man's demagoguery has been so blatant I figured I'd let his media mongering and foolishness speak for themselves. But I was reminded of Moore this morning in church by the Old Testament reading. The passage, from 2 Kings 18, tells the story of Hezekiah, a reformer and one of the few good kings Judah ever had. ("Good" both… Read more

I usually enjoy Slate's Moneybox column, written by Daniel Gross, but today Gross is guilty of the myopic Magooism of the wealthy — oblivious to how very, very many of us he's leaving out. Gross' topic is limousine liberals, whom he just seems to have discovered — he writes his is "divining a trend." Well, yes, some very wealthy people are liberals. And yes, the disconnect between their political rhetoric and their lavish lifestyles is often amusing. But Oscar Wilde… Read more

Newspaper's lead story is a mean old lie. Here's the lead graf from today's front-page USA Today story by Barbara Hagenbaugh: Taxpayers' refund checks will increase nearly 27 percent to an average $2,500 per family early next year, according to new forecasts from tax experts and economists, who say the windfalls will aid consumers, the economy and President Bush's re-election campaign. Wow. That's quite a figure. An average 27 percent increase in the tax refund for American families. Bravo! Oh,… Read more

And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small … … fax? The following message came over the fax machine yesterday at… Read more

Ariana Eunjung Cha continues to report on the cost-effective and, under the circumstances, heroic efforts of ordinary Iraqis in rebuilding their country (see "Half a bridge" earlier). This time it's a cement factory. One of the reasons President Bush's $87 billion (for now) pricetag for rebuilding Iraq is so high is that that country has a shortage of cement: When American aid experts drew up a list of priorities for reconstruction they included power plants, water-treatment systems, schools, clinics and… Read more

I see cannibals munchin' a missionary luncheon The years may have flown but the memory stays … — from "Those Were the Good Old Days," in Damn Yankees. From the BBC: The residents of a Fiji village have apologised to the family of an English Christian missionary who was eaten by tribespeople 136 years ago. Thomas Baker's descendants, joined by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and 600 people, attended a tribal ceremony in Nabutautau. The local inhabitants believe their village has… Read more

In Newsweek, we read this disturbing account of an Army chaplain's prayer: Then the battalion's chaplain asks the men to join him in a short prayer. "Lord, there are bad guys out there," he says, bowing his head. "Just help us kill 'em." This, in short, seems to be the Bush Plan for World Peace. All we need to do is kill all the bad people. Glenn Tinder discusses the origins and implications of such a moral scheme in his… Read more

Allen Brill has already noted this article from The Guardian by the Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, an Anglican vicar. (With a name like "Giles Fraser," you pretty much have to become an Anglican vicar.) Fraser takes issue with the way charities like Samaritan's Purse spin Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan. Don't dismiss this as an intramural, parochial squabble affecting only Christians. Samaritan's Purse is run by Franklin Graham, who, as Fraser points out, was "chosen by George Bush to… Read more

I spend a lot of time in this space chronicling the cluelessness and disheartening self-righteousness that characterizes a disturbingly large portion of evangelical Christianity in America. American evangelicals are a frustrating bunch. More than most, they have the means, motive and opportunity to make a real difference in their communities and the world, but rarely choose to do so. Surrounded by a world of pain and need, American evangelicals do what most Americans do. They circle the wagons and try… Read more

Winston Churchill noted that one mark of an educated person is the ability to be moved by statistics. I would add that a mark of an over-educated person is the inability to be moved without them. Via Cursor, I find this BBC report on this study by the British medical charity Medact, which "estimates that between 22,000 and 55,000 people — mainly Iraqi soldiers and civilians — died as a direct result of the war." Here, for those who need… Read more

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