Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Firm evidence

A bit more on “faith-based” initiatives, which there was a McNeil-Lehrer segment on after my earlier post. There’s an interesting rhetorical inversion in the White House spin on faith-based programs, including in Bush’s speech today: they paint themselves not as trying to funnel tax dollars to religious groups and break down the church-state barrier, but as common-sense pragmatists willing to go with whatever program works, and they denigrate the opponents of those programs as unpragmatic ideologues, “radical secularists” Tooey called us -- a title I’ll happily accept -- pursuing a fanatical hatred of religion at the expense of the poor people these programs could be helping.

Turkmenistan closes all hospitals outside the capital. Says President-for-life Niyazov (the guy who renamed all the months, banned beards and gold fillings, etc): “Why do we need such hospitals? If people are ill, they can come to Ashgabat.” Also rural libraries, because peasants don’t read.

E.J. Dionne on the bankruptcy bill.

Condi Rice says there is “firm evidence” that Syria was behind last week’s bombing in Israel. Well, if someone in the government tells me there’s firm evidence that a foreign government is up to no good, I just have to believe them, don’t I?

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