October 17, 2003

The apocalyptic heresies rampant in American evangelicalism are more popular than ever. It's easy to dismiss these loopy ideas as a lunatic fringe, but that would be a mistake. The widespread popularity of this End Times mania has very real and very dangerous consequences, for America and for the church. ("Premillennial dispensationalism" — the technical terms for what these prophecy freaks teach — teaches that the Sermon on the Mount does not apply to Christians living today. It also undermines… Read more

October 17, 2003

The FBI had better find a pile of corpses in John Street's crawl space. Or a massive cache of heroin and shoulder-launched surface-to-air-missiles. Or a graduation certificate from an al-Qaida training camp. Or something else really, really, really bad. Because if the FBI doesn't produce some evidence of staggering corruption after raiding and bugging the Philadelphia mayor's offices in the weeks before an election, then this whole fiasco amounts to evidence of staggering corruption in the FBI itself. The only… Read more

October 17, 2003

Nelson Mandela, like George Washington, is a statesman for the ages. Both men exhibited extraordinary courage and wisdom, and each united his country with leadership. But the greatest thing either man did was to leave office at the end of his term. Both Washington and Mandela could easily have won re-election again and again, holding on to power until the end of their lives. They chose not to, and that choice was their greatest legacy. The rioting in Azerbaijan following… Read more

October 17, 2003

Nathanael West was born 100 years ago today. West gave us Miss Lonelyhearts — a heartbreaking story about a heartbroken man. West also wrote The Day of the Locust — the book that introduced the name "Homer Simpson." (Oh, and Happy Birthday to Arthur Miller too.) Read more

October 16, 2003

Atrios points out this delightfully absurd story from The Philadelphia Inquirer: Concerned about the appearance of disarray and feuding within his administration as well as growing resistance to his policies in Iraq, President Bush — living up to his recent declaration that he is in charge — told his top officials to "stop the leaks" to the media, or else. News of Bush's order leaked almost immediately. Bush told his senior aides Tuesday that he "didn't want to see any… Read more

October 16, 2003

Has there ever been a public figure more fearful of the public than Vice President Dick Cheney? The man is a coward. Sure, he's willing to speak his mind — but only if he is in front of a carefully screened audience. And even then this timid man refuses to allow any questions to be asked. Is he really so frightened of getting tough, probing questions from his fellow ideologues at the Heritage Foundation? And when he's delivering a speech… Read more

October 16, 2003

Today is the birthday of Oscar Wilde — playwright, novelist and author of a sizeable chunk of any worthwhile dictionary of quotations. It's a credit to Wilde's genius that his words continue to provide laughter and joy when his own life was marked by the tragedy of a monumental love that ended in betrayal. I was glad to see Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray honored in The Observer's offbeat list of the 100 greatest novels of all time. (Such… Read more

October 15, 2003

One of the Bush administration's talking points on the occupation of Iraq is to compare this effort with the rebuilding of Japan and Germany in the years following World War II. I'm not sure this is a comparison they really want to be making, since it sets a very high standard for the eventual outcome of the occupation — Germany and Japan became prosperous, democratic allies of the U.S. The comparison also highlights the excessive cost of the Iraqi occupation,… Read more

October 15, 2003

Molly Ivins can't keep up, can she? It's not easy being an occasional columnist and trying to stay abreast of all the hypocrisy, deception, ineptitude, embarrassments, treasonous leaks and flagrant corruptions of the ruling GOP. Even a daily column wouldn't allow the current crop of outrages the full space and attention they deserve. Sometimes, the best a columnist can do to keep pace is simply to list a dozen or so instances of this scandalous behavior — which is what… Read more

October 15, 2003

Via Buzzflash, I find this article from Catherine Belton of The Moscow Times: President Vladimir Putin said Thursday Russia could switch its trade in oil from dollars to euros, a move that could have far-reaching repercussions for the global balance of power — potentially hurting the U.S. dollar and economy and providing a massive boost to the euro zone. … A move by Russia, as the world's second largest oil exporter, to trade oil in euros, could provoke a chain… Read more

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