Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006: Annus Horribilis

What a miserable year! I don’t say this lightly, but only after some reflection. It’s not just that on the political end the list of existing and exacerbating conflagrations seemed endless—Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, Lebanon, Palestine, Sudan, Somalia, and Sri Lanka mark but not exhaust that list. Democratic processes did not improve, and indeed weakened, in a number of places—Russia, Thailand, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Egypt to name a few. Nothing really was done about global warming or oil dependency, the WTO process was paralyzed, Europe’s longstanding respect for diversity became suspect, the misguided, dangerous, and wasteful “war against terror” continued to confound and anger one-fifth of the world’s population, and, to really sum up the horribleness of 2006, worldwide arms spending went through the roof—a clear harbinger for worse things to come.

Yes, the Republicans lost control of the House and the Senate, ten presidential elections were held in Latin America in a decisive signal toward consolidation of the democratic process in that region, a group of poor countries received substantial debt relief, emerging Asian economies marched on, and, and I say this charitably, world markets came across as more capable of handling major shocks than conventionally perceived. On a net basis, however, bad things and bad news dominated the good during this sad, sad year.

It is not easy to be hopeful about 2007 either. In fact, it may well give 2006 a run for its money as America’s capricious focus (or the lack of it) on global issues here and there undermine further any international initiative to protect the global climate, reduce trade barriers, alleviate poverty, reduce nuclear proliferation, etc. While America struggles, it is hard to see anything else than more of the same: pockets of prosperity and promise here and there, grinding misery and violence and sheer hopelessness in many more places.

Yet, as the spread of the internet continues to complement globalization, and as the economic pull of emerging India and China become even stronger, one can dare to hope that it is not all doom and gloom. May be there is hope at the political end as well: could 2007 see a renewed attempt to bring the Israelis to ease up on their murderous occupation of the West Bank and the blockade on Gaza? May be, just may be, the U.S. will choose to bring Iran and Syria to the table to raise the hope for peace in Iraq. The burden for much of this is on the leadership of the Democrats, which I hope will focus on challenging the White House in getting things done, as opposed to fixating on the 2008 Presidential elections.

Also, in my narrow, personal sphere, as I see friends rejoice with their first-borns, bright eyed, enormously gifted nieces and nephews embrace higher education and work, and perhaps most importantly, reason and faith co-mingle without any contradiction in my father’s life, I see a ray of light. When Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate, said audaciously that he envisions a future when people will visit museums to see what poverty used to be all about, he exemplified the capacity of the human mind to generate visions that can galvanize a generation. A world without challenge and disappointment is impossible, but as new spirits join this planet and new minds enter the world dynamic, may be we can all expect raindrops of good to shower on us in the new-year, giving us energy to move and look forward.

2007, here we come.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Who in 2008?

Now that the Democrats seem on the ascendancy, and seem poised to beat the Southern Party in the 2008 presidential election (barring a major change in circumstances), the question arises: who? Well, that's unclear, to say the least. I think that the number of candidates will increase as victory seems more likely (Mark Warner seems to be rethinking his decision not to run).

For me, though, it boils down to Clinton, Gore, or Obama. Sorry, I see Edwards as an empty suit, and I know nothing about Vilsack. Clark did not impress the first time around. And Kerry.. well, he's clearly the best candidate in his own mind!

Let's assume Gore won't step back in, and it's Clinton and Obama. I don't know who I would prefer. Clinton would be a technocrat's dream. We would be guaranteed good policies, and the lure of the 1990s is certainly appealing, especially after the last six disastrous years. Sound budgets. Free-ish trade. Economic growth that lifts all boats, not just the very rich. A welcoming approach to immigration. A respect for multilateralism. Possible health care reform. And a willingness to stand up to the abortion lobby, and fight to reduce abortion rates.

With Obama we would get.. what exactly? I don't know, but I like it anyway! Because Obama is the first politician since 1968 to capture the spirit of Bobby Kennedy. The soaring rhetoric. The charisma. The basic decency underpinned by strong religious values. The inclination to bring people together. After a long-term debasement of political culture, culminating in Bush, Obama soars above all others. But what would be actually do? He could easily be a failure, just as Bobby Kennedy could have been a failure.

So, who should it be? Solid policies (but boring and risk-averse) or idealism (but untested and risky?) I have no idea!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Murder in India

The Indian government claims that 10 million baby girls have been killed over the past 20 years, either before or immediately after birth, following the parents' preference for males. Some will undoubtedly claim that poverty comes into play, as parents need sons to provide for them in old age. But the statistics also show that killing baby girls is most pronounced among the highly educated, including the upmarket regions of New Delhi. For these people, a child is clearly a commodity to be accepted or thrown away based on personal preferences.

The situation in India (and indeed China) is staggering. By the 2001 census, the sex ratio was 933 girls to 1,000 boys India, and 798 girls to 1,000 boys in Punjab state. But where is the outcry? Who is speaking out for these girls' lives? The silence from the west is deafening. Because there is a dirty little secret: if you believe abortion is a "human right" and therefore something good, then you can have no problem whatsoever with what is taking place in India...

Message from Pope Benedict

Hee hee...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Oscar Romero on Torture

Oscar Romero was the archbishop of San Salvador, assassinated while saying Mass in 1980 by death squads angered by his public voice against poverty, social injustice, political killings, and torture in El Salvador at the time. He was also an incredibly eloquent speaker and writer. Here is something he had to say about torture:

"There is no dichotomy between man and God’s image.
Whoever tortures a human being,
whoever abuses a human being,
whoever outrages a human being,
abuses God’s image."

Are you listening George Bush and Dick Cheney? Are you listening Jimmy Akin and all those Catholics who try to provide some "moral space" to defend Bush's torture policies? And where is the voice of the American church in this time of trial? Its silence is almost shameful.

National Review Pinochet Fetish Continues....

I noted recently the insidious moral relativism of the National Review, whose defense of Pinochet seems to go something like this: sure, he did bad things, but he did wonders for the Chilean economy, and anyway, he's better than Castro. People with consistent views of these things (including those of us influenced by Catholic teaching, to which the National Review frequently pays lip service) will not lament when Castro dies. Just because a few nostalgic lefties still fawn over this fool is no license to defend other forms of evil.

Anyway, the Pinochet fetish at the National Review shows no signs of abating. Most recently, fetishist-in-chief Jonah Goldberg mused that what Iraq needs is a Pinochet. The logic? He's better than Castro. Surprise, surprise. Not that anyone is trying to export Castro from Havana to the desert... And anyway, an Iraqi Pinochet: wasn't that supposed to be Ahmed Chalabi?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Peace Pope

When Joseph Ratzinger chose the name Benedict XVI last year, he invoked the memory of his predecessor, Benedict XV, who tried in vain to broker peace between the various parties during the first world war. In the current pope's words: "Firstly, I remember Pope Benedict XV, that courageous prophet of peace, who guided the Church through turbulent times of war. In his footsteps I place my ministry in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples." Looking back, Benedict XV seems a voice of reason in a frenzied world, especially when he opposed the ruinous Versailles terms that fueled the rise of the Nazis.

The pope is following through with his promise, and is proving to be a major voice for peace in the world. In this light, his message for the World Day of Peace (January 1, 2007) is illuminating. In his own unique voice, Benedict ties peace to the dignity of the human person, and the entire depth and breadth of Catholic social teaching (not only the parts that suit a particular ideology, but the whole of it). In particular, he has strong words for those who would denigrate human rights in the context of dealing with terrorism. I wonder who he is talking about?

Let's go through it, step by step. Benedict begins by noting the inherent God-given human dignity that demands respect:
"As one created in the image of God, each individual human being has the dignity of a person; he or she is not just something, but someone, capable of self-knowledge, self-possession, free self-giving and entering into communion with others."
Note immediately that, in my recent posts on torture, the starting point is the same: torture is wrong because it violates this God-given human dignity, and treats a person as a mere object. Or as Benedict says in the current context, the duty to respect the dignity of every human being means that "the person can not be disposed of at will". Moreover, "those with greater political, technical, or economic power may not use that power to violate the rights of others who are less fortunate." This is paramount. Benedict claims that, above all, this calls for respecting life and religious freedom. Only then can there be a true and authentic peace.

He then gives examples of the widespread disrespect for life today, appealing almost to a consistent "seamless garment" approach that transcends political ideology and labels:
"We must denounce its widespread violation in our society: alongside the victims of armed conflicts, terrorism and the different forms of violence, there are the silent deaths caused by hunger, abortion, experimentation on human embryos and euthanasia. How can we fail to see in all this an attack on peace?"
When it comes to religious freedom, he speaks of the "difficulties that both Christians and the followers of other religions frequently encounter in publicly and freely professing their religious convictions." He notes that some states impose a single religion on all, while others do not persecute but instill a "systematic denigration of religious beliefs". It is clear what Benedict is talking about here. Following from his controversial Regensburg lecture, he is again referring to both Islam and secular western democracy. The former must, as a basic principle of natural law, grant religious freedom and reciprocity, while the latter must respect the voice of religion in the public sphere. Repeating an earlier theme, he notes that "war in God's name is never acceptable". Can't get much clearer than that.

Many on the right will be applauding the pope at this point. But what he says following this may make some of them a little uneasy. For he states bluntly that the "many unjust inequalities" in the world are at the "origin of the many tensions that threaten peace". In his words:

"Particularly insidious among these are, on the one hand, inequality in access to essential goods like food, water, shelter, health; on the other hand, there are persistent inequalities between men and women in the exercise of basic human rights."
He draws special attention to the condition of women in society, condemning the tendency in some places to treat women as objects, and "the mindset persisting in some cultures, where women are still firmly subordinated to the arbitrary decisions of men, with grave consequences for their personal dignity and for the exercise of their fundamental freedoms." He also embraces environmentalism, noting that "disregard for the environment always harms human coexistence" and condemning the "destruction of the environment, its improper or selfish use, and the violent hoarding of the earth's resources". A sharp rebuke to many in the western word, particularly in the United States, who scoff at proposals to curb energy consumption. But this is all part of the gospel of peace.

In the crux of his message, Benedict is clearly challenging those who believe war is the answer to terrorism and other threats to peace, and who are swift to downplay economic and environmental concerns. In other words, terrorism cannot be addressed in any meaningful way without looking at the underlying inequities and violations of human dignity (this is in no way to condone or at least turn a blind eye to terrorist acts-- a fault of many on the secular left). It is simply staggering that the coterie of Catholic intellectuals (Neuhaus, Novak, Weigel etc.) that defended Bush's war policies took so blinkered a view of Catholic social teaching. But Benedict presents it in full glory, liberated from the trappings of secular ideology.

The final section deals with human rights, international organizations, and international law. If the right did not like what they've seen so far, they will be appalled by this part! For Benedict notes immediately a tension between absolute human rights and a "relativistic conception of the person". He raises the following question: "Can we wonder that, faced with the “inconvenient” demands posed by one right or another, someone will come along to question it or determine that it should be set aside?" This, of course, raises the specter of the Bush administration's gutting of the Geneva Conventions and legitimizing torture. Benedict is very clear. The United Nations is charged with protecting human rights, and the 1948 Universal Declaration embodies those rights, which are "not simply on the decisions of the assembly that approved them, but on man's very nature and his inalienable dignity as a person created by God." Tell that the the partisans on the American right who detest the UN (the most popular book in Fundie-land, the Left Behind series, sees the Antichrist as the UN Secretary General!).

In possibly the most powerful section of the whole letter, Benedict addresses recent wars and "new forms of violence" including terrorism. In this context, he notes that these new forms of violence:

"demand that the international community reaffirm international humanitarian law, and apply it to all present-day situations of armed conflict, including those not currently provided for by international law. Moreover, the scourge of terrorism demands a profound reflection on the ethical limits restricting the use of modern methods of guaranteeing internal security."
This is pretty clear. Some Catholics and others (nearly all based in the United States, and supporters of Bush's wars) have been attempting to modify traditional just war teaching in the name of "asymmetrical warfare" when armies don't simply face other armies on the battlefield, but must deal with terrorists possibly armed with weapons of mass destruction. Pope Benedict provides an emphatic rejection of this cynical viewpoint. We should be re-affirming, not changing, international humanitarian law in such circumstances. The universal moral law holds. That means no looser standard for war. That means no torture, irrespective of circumstance.

The pope also laments the fact that international humanitarian law has not been respected in recent times, and he draws attention to the Lebanese war this past summer. He states that "the duty to protect and help innocent victims and to avoid involving the civilian population was largely ignored". But again, the war party in America was baying for blood given that the enemy comprised "terrorists". In hindsight, the pope was right, just like Benedict XV was right in his own time: Israel's foolish and immoral attacks have only emboldened the political position of Hezbollah, threatening Lebanese democracy. I noted this at the time. War is rarely the answer, legitimate in only very special circumstances. And when war breaks out, based on jingoism and a desire for vengeance, and devoid of sober analysis, it can so easily lead to terrible consequences. Versailles. Lebanon. Iraq. And here we are. Listen to Benedict this time, please!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Who's the Moral Relativist Now?

The National Review had a symposium on the death of Pinochet. They asked a number of "experts" to assess his legacy. Before we start, let us recall what Pinochet actually did. As noted by the Financial Times (hardly a partisan voice):
"Some 3,000 people had been killed or “disappeared” (a verb that became synonymous with Chile), tens of thousands were subjected to routine torture and still more were forced into exile."
Christopher Hitchens reminds us of "Operation Condor" a alliance of various intelligence agencies across Latin America with the aim of hunting down and killing political opponents all over the world. In one noteworthy case, Pinochet ordered the car bombing assassination of a Chilean dissident (Orlando Letelier) in rush-hour downtown Washington DC in 1976. And in his dotage, he showed no signs of repentance, refusing to provide any information about the "disappeared".

But none of this really matters to the National Review, that bastion of morality! Anthony Daniels (didn't he play C3PO?) admits to "brutality and hardship" but argues that he still brought prosperity, and anyway, "he hardly figured among the 20th century’s most prolific political killers." Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations! Along similar lines, Roger Fontaine argues that, yes, human rights suffered, and even concedes that he was corrupt, but hey, he did good things for the economy. And Mario Loyola thinks that at least he was better than Castro. Ion Mihai Pacepa even asks God to bless him for saving Chile from communism!

Amazing. All kinds of consequentialist "ends justifies the means" reasoning. No wonder the National Review has few (if any) problems with torture. But the idea that they are on the vanguard of supporting "moral values" is a joke. This is about as "moral relativist" as it gets. As the National Review's Jonah Goldberg puts it himself:
"Right now, the Pinochet-hating left is talking about the manifest evil of the man in purely idealistic and universal terms. In other words, because it is always wrong to censor, to oppress, to torture etc. Pinochet must be condemned in absolute and unequivocal terms."
Well, yes, that's exactly what it means, Jonah. Welcome to the world of consistency.

Could Dick Cheney Get Any Worse?

The short answer is yes. Apparently, Cheney is warming to the idea of siding with the Shia and "crushing the Sunnis". When the New Republic hosted a recent debate on solutions to the Iraq debacle, I pointed to Kurth's idea as the most idiotic, the most short-sighted, and the most amoral of the lot. Why is it no surprise that this would tempt Dick Cheney?

Remember, Kurth is proposing foreign policy based on vengeance. And think of the practical implications. Yet again, the United States would bolster the position of Iran, the most dangerous country in the region, after allowing it attain nuclear weapons unopposed. This would also boost the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance that could easily destroy the nascent Lebanese democracy. And let's not even get into the Christmas present of a lifetime that this would present to Al Qaeda, who would once more be seen as a defender of the Sunnis everywhere.

Update: Andrew Sullivan wonders if this is connected to the sudden resignation of Saudi ambassador Turki al-Faisal. It may be.

Friday, December 08, 2006


I saw this movie tonight. And unlike many critics, I liked it a lot. Basically, the movie tracks a bevy of characters in and around the Ambassador hotel on the day Bobby Kennedy won the primary, presaging his assassination that very night. In itself, this worked moderately well. But what gives the movie its power is the scene when Bobby is shot. Throughout the film, we are presented with snippets of the man and his message. As he lies on the floor of the hotel kitchen, surrounded by complete chaos, we hear some of his most soaring rhetoric. And what rhetoric it is. He talks about the futility of hatred and division. Of how violence is never the answer, no matter how tempting. Of how compassion must be our primary concern. And how we are all part of a community, connected to a greater whole. It was beautiful and poignant and uplifting. And then it dawned on me: the movie was presenting snapshots of the interconnected human community as it existed on that day and in that place in 1968, all brought together by the terrible events of that day, and thereby imbuing Bobby's words with a tragic dimension.

An aura of sadness and loss hangs over the movie, as we know the author of these majestic words is dead, and that his noble vision ends with him. I did not live through this era, as I was only born two years after Bobby's assassination. Would Kennedy have been a good president? There is no answer to this question. Perhaps his idealism would have hit cold hard reality, in Vietnam, in the coming global recession, in countless other challenges. But we will never know. All we know is that it all went downhill in America from that June night in 1968, culminating in the presidency George W. Bush, who in many ways is the anti-Kennedy. While Bobby spoke of bringing peace, Bush brought war. While Kennedy talked about compassion from heartfelt belief, Bush talked about compassion to earn votes and then chose instead to reward the wealthy and especially his cronies. While Bobby's rhetoric was noble and inspiring, Bush speaks in monosyllabic sound bites. And while Bobby was guided by his idealism, Bush offers only cynicism and petulence.

But this goes way beyond Bush. No public figure speaks like that anymore, with the possible exception of Barack Obama. Of course, Bobby's belief sprung from his heartfelt Catholic faith. He is a reminder of what Catholic public figures were like before the advent of people like Rick Santorum, Bill Donohue, George Weigel, and Deal Hudson. This was a time when Catholic politicians clung to the entire Catholic social theory, not only the parts favored by the Republican party, or evangelical allies.

So, go and watch this movie. Let Kennedy's words, uttered in 1968, offer meaning in the current climate in 2006. Shed a tear for what was lost. And hope for what may come.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Catholic League Watch 6

The Catholic League claims that its aim is to "safeguard both the religious freedom rights and the free speech rights of Catholics whenever and wherever they are threatened." But, in reality, it functions as a rather shrill organ of the Republican right, and little more. This is the sixth post in the series.

Who is Dennis Prager? Yet another Republican shill who claims to favor "Judeo-Christian values". Even though Bush appointed him to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, I'd never heard of him until a few days ago, when be made his debut by announcing that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, must be sworn in on a bible, and that using a Qu'ran would "undermine American civilization" and be like using Hitler's Mein Kampf. What to say about this? For a start, parker is uniformed (an uninformed Bushite? you don't say!). It turns out that the swearing in ceremony involves neither bible nor Qu'ran nor Mein Kampf. Rather, the individuals simply raise their right hands and swear to uphold the constitution. Sometimes members use a bible for a ceremonial swearing in.

What has this to do with our old friend Bill Donohue? Well, as expected, he lost no time coming to the defense of his bigoted friend and displaying a shocking ignorance of the Catholic approach to religious freedom in the process. Here he is:
"The Bible is the constitutive source of the Judeo-Christian ethos upon which the U.S. was founded. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are products of Judeo-Christian civilization. As Prager said, Jews take their oath on the Bible, even though they do not believe in the New Testament. It's a matter of respect: it's a symbolic statement that pays due homage to our common heritage. Ergo, the same rule applies to everyone."
The problem with many on the so-called Christian right is that they hold a notion of American exceptionalism, the idea that America (more than any other country) is divinely ordained. This flaw is most often associated with evangelicals, and (not for the first time) Donohue seems to take his cue from here rather than the Catholic Church he purports to defend. For he needs to take a close look at Vatican II's Declaration on Religious Freedom. Right up front, it states:
"This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits."
And then there is this:
"The freedom or immunity from coercion in matters religious which is the endowment of persons as individuals is also to be recognized as their right when they act in community. "
And this:
"..government is to see to it that equality of citizens before the law, which is itself an element of the common good, is never violated, whether openly or covertly, for religious reasons. Nor is there to be discrimination among citizens."
Or this:
"The protection and promotion of the inviolable rights of man ranks among the essential duties of government. Therefore government is to assume the safeguard of the religious freedom of all its citizens, in an effective manner, by just laws and by other appropriate means."
And then there is this:
"Finally, government is to see to it that equality of citizens before the law, which is itself an element of the common good, is never violated, whether openly or covertly, for religious reasons. Nor is there to be discrimination among citizens."
Get the picture, Donohue?

Monday, December 04, 2006

"A Piece of Furniture"

While Jimmy Akin over at Catholic Answers tries to make Jack Bauer a model of virtue and morality, the horrible implications of the Bush administration's torture policy continue to manifest themselves. Today, both Deborah Sontag of the New York Times and Michael Isakoff of Newsweek address the issue of Jose Padilla, locked up without charge or access to a lawyer for three and a half years. The implication is that the treatment of Padilla-- complete isolation and sensory denial-- has made him mentally ill. His lawyers accuse the government of torture, including "sleep deprivation, extreme cold, injecting noxious fumes into his cell and giving him mind-altering drugs". It is alleged that he now suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, facial tics, and "bodily contortions". Or more technically: "neuropsychiatric effects of prolonged isolation." The one time they let him out for a dental visit, it featured "noise-blocking headphones over his ears and blacked-out goggles over his eyes." As one of his lawyers claimed, he was treated like a piece of furniture.

They've utterly broken the man's spirit. They have violated his God-given human dignity and treated him as a mere object, a means to an end. As noted in the post from last week, this is makes torture intrinsically evil in Catholic moral theology. To be sure, many will point out that (i) what happened to him could be justified in the event of a ticking bomb scenario; (ii) what happened was not really torture, as there was no severe pain. As for (i), the intent and circumstances make no difference when an act is intrinsically evil. As for (ii), only by the twisted logic of the Bush administration (which defines torture as "death, organ failure or the permanent impairment of a significant body function") would that exception be valid. But, as noted earlier, some Catholic apologists are creating space for this Bushite definition, arguing that torture is only torture when it entails "the disproportionate infliction of pain." As for the case of Padilla in particular, note that both Gaudium Et Spes and Veritatis Splendour condemn "physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit." There's really no debate, at least among those not motivated by the need to defend the Bush administration and the amorphous "war on terror."

By the despite the valiant attempts of a small number of Catholic bloggers, this issue is not receiving much traction in the religious sphere. Last month, Peter Steinfels tackled this topic in the New York Times with a column discussing a recent debate in Theology Today. Steinfels addresses the silence head-on:
"It [torture] is such a stain on personal and national character that nothing but appalling photographs could force it to the fore. No stack of equivocating documents can have such force. In a season of shameless attack ads, torture is still too shameful to be debated."
One of the religious contributors to the debate noted that the same was true for the religious sphere: "in my lifetime, I do not remember any major public question being so studiously ignored as this one.'' The appropriate questions are: why? and how will this be judged by future generations?

Friday, December 01, 2006


If you read this blog, you will know that one of my pet gripes is the sorry state of journalism in the United States. Human interest, trivia, celebrity gossip, missing white girls, sports, weather.... that's pretty much it. And then there's Nancy Grace... let's not even go there!

But delving deeper, the Washington Post's Dan Froomkin ponders the particular problems of political journalism. He contends that the success of people like John Stewart and Stephen Colbert (and indeed his own column) is that they can detect and expose bullshit. Sounds, pretty basic, no? But mainstream journalists are always pushing a false equivalency between two different views, ascribing equal value to all sides, whether the truth or an outlandish claim. A group of Republicans tell lies about John Kerry's war record, with no factual basis, and yet the media treats both sides seriously. The overwhelming majority of scientists accept the premise of global warming, and yet the media will give equal airtime to some energy industry-funded crank. It goes on and on.

Of course, this tendency is of immense advantage to the modern Republican party, which has mastered the art of bullshit. A more sophisticated way of saying the same thing is that they have wholeheartedly embraced postmodernism and its denial of objective truth. It's funny, many conservatives gripe about the moral relativism on the other side, not realizing that its most cynical manifestation is found in their own backyard. One puzzling feature of this situation is the fact that most journalists are themselves political liberals, and yet go out of their way to treat the latest Republican "bullshit" seriously. Explanations abound, including the corporatization of the media, and an ethic underpinned by an extreme concept of balance. But I think there could be more to it. Perhaps journalists are also comfortable with the denial of objective truth, the worst aspect of contemporary liberalism inculcated by some of the best humanities departments. Hence they fall unwittingly into the Republican trap....