Religion

You surely recall the Iraqi "journalist" who threw his shoe at George Bush. Well, there has been an epidemic of shoe-flinging ever since. A shoe was even hurled at the prime minister of China, Wen Jiabao, when he visited London a while ago. And now lobbing footwear has come to Holland.  Israeli Captain (Res.) Ron Edelheit had arrived to visit his mother in Amsterdam and was asked to speak to members of the Jewish community about Operation Cast Lead, the military move against Hamas in Gaza.

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To Russia . . . With Realism?

One of my favorite magazines, the Virginia Quarterly Review, has beefed up its presence online, which is a good thing, since it means I can link to this piece about Russia by Stepehn Boykewich. Boykewich's article is ostensibly a (withering) review of Steve LeVine's book, Putin's Labyrinth: Spies, Murder, and the Dark Heart of the New Russia, but it's more a realist manifesto for how the U.S. should deal with Putin and Russia--and thus serves as an interesting counterpoint to most of what I've read on the topic.

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Roll Call reports that Roland Burris "has not considered resigning," because [t]he Senator believes he has been honest and above board, but feels he is suffering in part because of a faulty communications strategy in relation to how he has dealt with this latest scandal. Hey, can we put a total moratorium on this lame, euphemistic, cynical and increasingly ubiquitous "faulty communications strategy" excuse?

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The prospect of Congress passing and President Obama signing theFreedom of Choice Act (FOCA) has inspired the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to sponsor a parish-based campaign to get Catholics to send postcards to members of Congress stating their opposition to the act. There's nothing wrong with that. And neither is there anything inappropriate about Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) -- a Catholic convert from evangelical Protestantism who passionately opposes legalized abortion -- lending his name to the effort.

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David Frum is worried about the roughly 25 percent of Americans who would be disinclined to vote for a Mormon for president. (This is a potential problem for Republicans because several of the party's leading presidential candidates are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.) Before setting out to defend the Mormons against prejudice, Frum briefly examines Jacob Weisberg's 2006 attack on the faith and promptly dismisses its arguments on the grounds that they could be applied to the members of many other churches. I agree that Weisberg's arguments are overly broad.

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Trading Sharia For Peace

A Pakistani deal sets a troubling precedent: Pakistan government officials said they struck a deal on Monday to accept a legal system compatible with Shariah law in the violent Swat region in return for peace.

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There is now much pirouetting and pivoting among Israel's leading politicians and political parties ostensibly for the favor of the slightly out-of-it president of the state, Shimon Peres. There are only two people between whom he must choose to ask to form a government: Tsipi Livni and Bibi Netanyahu. Were he to choose Livni, however, he would be imposing his own political prejudices on the process itself. He is vain enough to convince himself that this action would not be wrong. But the fact is that it would be.

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Overselling The JFK Angle

Yoav Lurie is a freelancer in Washington. In his weekly YouTube address this morning, President Obama commended the passage of the stimulus plan and acknowledged that Americans may be a bit skeptical of Washington's ability to pull this one off, given its recent history of bungling. Towards the end of the message, he offered words that "President Kennedy spoke in another time of uncertainty": "Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks." The only problem is John F.

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As you know very well, I don't hold out much hope for the Middle East peace process. At the State Department and almost all the ostensibly important--but truly irrelevant--European foreign ministries however, officials are insisting that peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians is at the top of their agenda. Sanctimonious, yes; realistic, no. Why? One reason is that there are more important hot spots in the world, more important especially for the United States. But not only.

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Time magazine's cover story this week, 'The Biology of Belief: How Faith Can Heal,' is almost too silly for words. Here is a flavor of the article's thesis: Here's what's surprising: a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that faith may indeed bring us health. People who attend religious services do have a lower risk of dying in any one year than people who don't attend.

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