In a few months, most taxpayers will be getting a check from Washington —up to $300 for single people, up to $600 for couples. This will be the first part of the massive federal tax cut passed by Congress and signed by President Bush. Their aim is to return $1.35 trillion in government revenues to taxpayers over 11 years.
Under current federal law, an individual who assaults a pregnant woman receives no punishment for any harm done to the unborn child. That the woman being assaulted is carrying a child in her womb is no more relevant in the eyes of the law than the fact that she is brown-haired or blue-eyed.
One of the characters in Marshall Jevons's mystery novel Murder at the Margin is a Harvard Divinity School professor named Matthew Dyke, who at one point complains about the exploitation of low-wage workers. Dyke declares that the employers' "profit-maximizing behavior" at the expense of the workers is unethical—as is all profit-maximizing behavior.
Did Bob Kerrey commit a war crime in Vietnam when his navy squadron killed unarmed women and children? Or were the killings in Thanh Phong accidents of war, the kind of terrible mistakes that even the most careful soldiers make in the fog of battle? We don’t know the answer.
It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Charlie Ward. Most of us get our theological lessons in private from sympathetic family, friends or teachers. He got his in public from some angry religious leaders and newspaper columnists. Ward, who plays basketball for the New York Knicks, was quoted in the New York Times Magazine uttering anti-Jewish comments.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran had his brother hand deliver a check for $400,000 last month to Tehran’s only Jewish hospital with the message that “our government intends to unite all ethnic groups and religions, so we decided to assist you.” In September Rouhani’s administration had issued a Rosh Hashanah greeting to Jews around the world. Though some question Rouhani’s motives, his behavior is a refreshing contrast to that of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is a Holocaust denier (New York Times, February 6).