William Safire seems to think that the real heroes are those who stood up to this insidious intelligence reform. One point he singles out seems particularly erroneous, however:
I'd like the next Congress to take a hard look at a radical notion in the current bill - to strip the C.I.A. of its covert-action arm and assign that function to the Pentagon. That calls for all-out war or no action at all - when sometimes it is wise to operate in the gray area of plausible denial.
So...if the Pentagon is in charge of covert actions, then there's no such thing as covert actions? Safire is probably choosing a good time to be stepping down from his post at the old gray lady.
Kristof, meanwhile, takes on a worthy target in the Left Behind book series:
The "Left Behind" series, the best-selling novels for adults in the U.S., enthusiastically depict Jesus returning to slaughter everyone who is not a born-again Christian. The world's Hindus, Muslims, Jews and agnostics, along with many Catholics and Unitarians, are heaved into everlasting fire: "Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and . . . they tumbled in, howling and screeching."
Gosh, what an uplifting scene!
If Saudi Arabians wrote an Islamic version of this series, we would furiously demand that sensible Muslims repudiate such hatemongering. We should hold ourselves to the same standard.
I worked at a library for quite a while and was always amazed -- and disgusted -- at how popular these books are with young kids. I can't imagine that the best way to instill true Christian values in young kids, if that is one's goal, is via the fire and brimstone route. But how can you argue with guys like this:
Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, the co-authors of the series, have both e-mailed me (after I wrote about the "Left Behind" series in July) to protest that their books do not "celebrate" the slaughter of non-Christians but simply present the painful reality of Scripture.
Arguing with fundamentalists has never been less fun.