“As an eleven-year-old boy I could not do much for Kader Mia as he lay bleeding with his head on my lap. But I imagine another universe, not beyond our reach, in which he and I can jointly affirm our many common identities (even as the warring singularists howl at the gate). We have to make sure, above all, that our mind is not halved by a horizon.” —Amartya Sen

Amartya Sen is one of those supremely civilized human beings from Asia who have made their home in the West, and are as appalled as we are, perhaps even more than we, at what has become of us here.  Under massive immigration and government enforced “€œmulticulturalism”€ the England Sen loves is turning into something too much like the East Bengal of his childhood.

In Identity and Violence, the concluding sentence of which I have quoted above, Nobel Prize economist Sen meditates on what the Patriarch of Venice has well indicated as the unavoidable fact of civilizational hybridity. Sen, like Cardinal Angelo Scola, is sensitive to the concerns that many of us, who call ourselves cultural conservatives, have over what passes for multiculturalism:

“There is a real need to rethink the understanding of multiculturalism both to avoid conceptual disarray about social identity and also to resist the purposeful exploitation of the divisiveness that this conceptual disarray allows and even, to some extent, encourages. What has to be particularly avoided (if the foregoing analysis is right) is the confusion between multiculturalism with cultural liberty, on the one side, and plural monoculturalism with faith-based separatism on the other. A nation can hardly be seen as a collection of sequestered segments, with citizens being assigned fixed places in predetermined segments. Nor can Britain be seen, explicitly or by implication, as an imagined national federation of religious ethnicities.” (p. 165)

And neither can the United States — or Europe.  Yes, we are members of communities of faith.  But there is common humanity, and, in various places and at various times, common civilizations have flourished, each articulating that common humanity in its own unique way.  Our own civilization has been fairly unique in offering hospitality to those who come to us from other civilizations and their outskirts, trusting to our common humanity and to a set of institutions and traditions designed to allow members of different communities to collaborate as neighbors, clients, and colleagues.  And this has worked remarkably well, at least in America.

When I think of 9/11 I recall how my glass fortress diagonally opposite the World Trade Center complex was locked down by security, ingress and egress forbidden.  One gentleman, a computer technologist, as were we all, made it in — and out again.  When he emerged from the subway station and saw the Twin Towers on fire, rather than get back on a train for Brooklyn with the rest, he rushed to his cubicle, retrieved a medical bag (he was a trained paramedic) from his desk, and headed for what the media would soon be calling Ground Zero.  There are pictures of him there doing what he could for people until the building collapsed on him.  I am not sure any remains were identified.  He was the only one we lost.

I don’t even know the man’s name, and there were many like him, whose names are known to God.  What I do know is that he was from China, and that generations of Communist indoctrination had failed to eradicate the Confucian ethic, the conviction that knowledge imposes obligation.  And I am proud that this man chose my country to make his home.  Of course this is not a plea for unrestricted immigration.  But I think we waste too much energy on schemes to keep the wrong people out, when we should rather stop encouraging people to come for the wrong reasons, and strengthen and renew those elements of our culture that have attracted those immigrants of whom we are rightly proud.

America is a unique civilization, in which people of all cultures have made homes for themselves.  Not all came to suck the welfare tit.  Yes, my mother’s mother and my father’s grandfather came for opportunity, but there is nothing wrong with that.  The desire to achieve a decent life for yourself and your family is a noble one, especially when centuries of English rule and Protestant ascendancy have beaten in the lesson that as Irish and as Catholic you and yours are forever unworthy of a decent life. 

The American establishment, including my mother’s father’s people, dreaded the arrival of my Catholic ancestors, German and French as well as Irish, expecting to be overwhelmed by starving hordes of medieval peasants.  Of course nothing of the sort happened.  In wishing to be free from Protestant oppression, they wished to be free to live lives open to realities not anticipated by their predefined communal identity.  And such lives they have led, to the dismay of innumerable parochial school principals.  The same may be said, and indeed has been said, of the children of Hindu and, yes, Muslim families in America.  Even Jews complain of it, though the ghetto remains intact in parts of Brooklyn.  Still, a Jewish woman may take a seat in the front of a New York city bus without taking a beating for it, as she might in Jerusalem.

The Muslim community in America is quite unlike that of France or Britain or anywhere else.  Arabic speaking Muslims have been integrated into a wider Arab-American community founded by Christian refugees from Islamicist terror.  There is a certain concern and esteem for Palestinian refugees from areas controlled by Israel, but again, many of these are of Christian heritage.  The Bangladeshi Muslims who run so many small businesses are Bengalis before all else, who sing the songs of the Christianized Hindu Rabindranath Tagore, the national sage whose broad religious sense also reflects the kinds of Sufism common in South Asia.  On the whole, American Muslims, or, should I say, Muslim Americans, do not think that they dishonor God by treating secular matters in a secular spirit.

Despite the best efforts of demented social studies teachers in our public schools, what Sen calls plural, separatist, monoculturalism has made little progress here, except among two groups.  It is in Jewish circles that the specter of communalism became especially powerful in the wake of 9/11.  On the evening of that day itself a woman prominent in the Jewish organizations telephoned our home to make sure I was all right.  In the course of her conversation she said, “€œNow you know what it feels like to be Israeli,”€ a remark not only breathtakingly tactless, but singularly inappropriate addressed by a woman born and raised in the Bronx and educated at the expense of the taxpayers of New York to a woman born in a temple compound on the banks of the Brahmaputra.  After that I was prepared for the unspeakable Netenyahu’s brutal and bullying speech the next day.

In the years that followed strange things have been happening in the Jewish community.  Several teachers who tutor yeshiva students at home report that the boys are being taught to hold the subjects taught in the English language — including mathematics, science, and history as well as grammar and literature — in growing contempt.  One boy demanded to know whether his tutor accepted the idea of evolution.  “€œIn a couple of years you’ll know better,”€ he smirked — evidently he believed, believes, that Moshiah will come soon to teach the rest of us a lesson.

Sound familiar, you hinterlanders? Damn straight!  This is not a New York Jewish thing, but something that has been growing in the fundamentalist backwaters for years.  Indeed, it is fairly new out East, and still rather unwelcome here.  I live in the Gilded Ghetto of Manhattan’s West Side, which was, within living memory, a fading suburb of Habsburg Vienna, with old Budapest at the other end of the crosstown bus.  Here you don’t have to be an Irish Catholic to shake your head over the foibles of the Soviet-born Israelis who seem to be taking over.  Indeed, the Irish Catholics are an endangered species here ever since the ethnic cleansing known as urban renewal, and the tiny bits of public land from which Christian symbols were ripped away two generations ago now display triumphant menorahs for Advent.

But we somehow manage to get along;  if you don’t believe it, read the news from France, even England, and, God help us all, Sweden, and see what things are like overseas.  We are not, or at least not yet, in the grip of Sen’s pluralistic monoculturalism.  We have, in additional to our particular ethnoreligious cultures, a common culture of liberty, what Sen calls cultural liberty.  By this he means the ability given by education to make intelligent, informed, and responsible choices among the cultural alternatives offered to us. As Goethe says somewhere, we do not really own what we inherit until we freely embrace it. If you want to call this the criterion of Western civilization I will not dispute you, though it is one we have not always honored, and Sen can point, does point, to paradigmatic instances of it east of Suez.

The common culture may not be what it once was (and maybe it never was), but it is still enough to keep the conversation going, and as Oakeshott puts it, we are a species of ape who lost our tails sitting around talking.  Or, as Bob Hutchins pitched it to the upmarket, ours is the civilization of the dialogue.  And it is, unlike any other.  It’s not just that old man Plato wrote literary dialogues on the assumption that people should be prodded to make up their own mind about things.  It’s also that Christendom has always felt itself to be in a very odd relationship indeed with its Hebrew and with its Pagan ancestry.  We could say that this realization is as old as Petrarch, but it was no secret to Justin, Clement, or even Augustine.

Of course every social studies teacher and professor of critical studies in America would have hissy-fits over this kind of “€œEurocentric”€ talk.  Some member of the Brussels parliament might even want to make it illegal.  But while I have the freedom, I’m going to use it.  And so should we all.  That’s what civilization is all about;  the alternative, as Amartya Sen well remembers, is genocidal violence.

Frank Purcell is a philosophy teacher living in New York City.

The Washington Times reports a visit by Bob Novak to the Heritage Foundation, where he regaled conservative bloggers with his take on current events and gave a little spiel about his new book, Prince of Darkness:

“When asked to rate the current field of Republican presidential candidates, Novak didn’t have any kind words for the current top-tier field of Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney and John McCain. But when pressed as to who he thinks will be the eventual nominee, Novak said he expects Thompson to get the nod. However, Novak offered his own personal endorsement of Texas congressman Ron Paul. ‘He’s a very engaging person… I’d like to see him as president,’ Novak said. ‘Can you imagine him at the United Nations?’”

By the way, check out Novak’s new book, a memoir: it has the dirt on that evil troll David “a cheat and a liar” Frum, and that alone is worth the price of admission.

Writing a check or coming up with cash is a vital liturgical deed in the root meaning of liturgy, a work done by people on behalf of the larger community.

Roger Cardinal Mahony

Gather Faithfully Together, September 4, 1997


As all the world knows, in a last-ditch-albeit-successful effort to avoid the presence of my father-in-God, Roger Cardinal Mahony, on the witness stand, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay $660,000,000 to more than 500 victims of clerical pedophilia. This is quite a princely sum—enough to build three of His Eminence’s cathedrals, or, for those primitive enough to prefer beautiful buildings, to rebuild Paris’ famed Palais des Tuileries thrice over. Fortunately for us all, the insurance companies have agreed to kick in two thirds of the cost, leaving the Archdiocese to sell off non-essential investment properties for the remaining amount.


Where our beloved City of Angels has it over such poverty-struck burgs as Boston and New York is that, rolling in dough as we are, no parishes will be closed and sold to come up with the scratch. There will be no need to assert to the court—as several dioceses have unsuccessfully tried to do—that since the parishes are independent entities, their assets are not liable. The problem with this reasoning is that if, say, a bishop takes a dislike to a church’s high altar or communion rail, out it goes. Since His Eminence of Los Angeles is particularly notorious for exercising his right to commit vandalism, the Archdiocese would be hard pressed to justify such an allegation.


But the donors, living and dead, who provided such discretionary properties to be sold to pay off victims have not been the only ones to have had large sums of money offered in their names this month. Indeed, the settlement sum is dwarfed by the five billion offered by media mogul Rupert Murdoch to purchase Dow Jones Industrials, Inc., and its newspaper, the Wall Street Journal. Apparently, after initial resistance, the Bancroft clan are willing to allow their holdings to be subsumed into Murdoch’s Borg-like empire. To most people, there could be little in common between the two principals in the wildly different transactions. But the papist prelate and the Presbyterian publisher not only have much in common, they are friends. It is a friendship that says much about society, morality, and the new face of power in the brave new 21st century.


It was a woman who brought them together: Anna Torv Murdoch, Rupert’s Estonian-but-nevertheless-Catholic wife. From the time of the Murdochs’ 1986 permanent arrival in Los Angeles, subsequent to Rupert’s taking up American citizenship, Mrs. Murdoch began funneling her husband’s funds in the Cardinal’s direction. By 1993, so prominent had the expatriate couple become in local Catholic circles that Auxiliary Bishop John Ward married daughter Elisabeth to Ghanaian national Elkin Kwesi Pianim, at his own Church of St. Timothy (in keeping with modern custom, the blushing bride retained her name, and stayed busy with her own career). Alas, the marriage was doomed to last but four years; Elisabeth, in what, as we shall see, is a true family tradition, dumped her husband during the final trimester of her second pregnancy, in order to take up with her married colleague, Matthew Freud (great-grandson of Sigmund).


Unsettling as this must have been for Elisabeth’s parents, consolation was forthcoming. Already, Cardinal Mahony had created “Dames of St. Gregory” in violation of the statutes of that Papal Knightly order. In contemporary Roman fashion, the violation became the law; the Holy See confirmed the action, and many Catholic women have been given the title since, world-wide. Building upon this foundation, and mindful of the money that the Murdochs had poured into various Archdiocesan programs (to include the new cathedral), Cardinal Mahony invested both of them with the St. Gregory, Rupert as a Knight Commander. On that occasion, Bob Hope was also given the order; but few were surprised that the 95 year-old declined to make the trip cross-town; that he may have formed an opinion of the relative worth of this order and its proximate provider might be gleaned, however, from the fact that later in the year he flew to London to be made a Knight Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. In any case, the newly-minted Chevalier Murdoch ordered his Australian and British papers not to mention his new status.

Alas, word got out, and criticism in Britain was swift. Deborah Jones, editor of the Catholic Herald, said: “We have been receiving a much larger mailbag that usual, about 99 per cent of it asking: ‘What the hell is the Church doing giving him a knighthood?’ The great majority are complaining about page 3 girls and soft pornography in his newspapers and on his satellite channels. Some of the more thoughtful ones are expressing concern over his monopolistic tendencies and his {legal} reluctance to pay taxes. Worst of all, it does the church no good at all because it gives the impression that these honours can be bought.” The celebrated Joanna Bogle, of the Association of Catholic Women, described the decision to honor Mr Murdoch as “absurd.” Speaking solely for herself, she said: “It sends out the message that you can make a living out of something—soft pornography—that is regarded by the Church as sinful, and yet you can be awarded for it. The Knighthood of St Gregory is supposed to be about honour and chivalry and splendour. To give it to Murdoch is ridiculous and wrong.”

There was similar reaction in the Cardinal’s domain. Among this were two letters that appeared in the January 9, 1998 Los Angeles Times. One Frank McPike of Torrance wrote, “[w]hile I don’t know who St. Gregory the Great was, I still have a feeling that if he were given a look at most of Murdoch’s newspapers, he might ask for a recount.” Mr. McPike added that “Murdoch’s sex-oriented British dailies, and even his blue-collar, lowbrow sensationalist U.S. holdings, make him an unlikely ally of the pope…. Perhaps the most telling factor is that Murdoch and his wife ‘have supported the Archdiocesan Education Foundation and other Catholic causes. Apparently, Murdoch bought more than the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1997.” George T. Bentley of La Puente, imagining the then-forthcoming investiture, “I can see it now. Murdoch’s Fox network will tape the ceremony, juice it up with the usual blood and babes, and air it during the February sweeps. I have the perfect title: “‘When Church Officials Lose Their Minds!’” Regardless of such sniping, however, His Eminence told Murdoch and the other freshly-made Knights that “you are examples of good peer pressure, positive influences on society and culture.” The Cardinal’s comments brought about a reaction in the happy couple. “I thought it was very moving,” Rupert Murdoch said after the ceremony. “‘I thought it was very spiritual, and I was very impressed by what the cardinal said.” Dame Anna added, “It was very humbling. We’re both trying very hard to get through the eye of the needle. Perhaps this is the beginning.” Certainly the pair must have been reassured during the course of the investiture by the ritual admonition that members of the order must be of “unblemished character.” Perhaps the new Knight Commander of St. Gregory, inspired by modesty, would attempt to keep his spotless nature concealed; if so, he did a splendid job. In June of 1999, he divorced his wife, and on June 25 went through the ritual of marriage with Wendi Deng, newly appointed vice-president of Rupert’s own STAR TV. While this may have been unexpected to outsiders, this move had a precedent: After divorcing his first wife, Patricia Booker Murdoch in 1967, he turned around in the same year and married the future Dame Anna, then a “cadet” journalist working for his Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph. Shattered as she surely was by history repeating itself, Dame Anna also took a new husband four months after the divorce, “marrying” William Mann in October. Considering all the juicy gossip that would have arisen had Murdoch’s tabloids given their owner’s amours the same attention that they gave to those of the Prince of Wales, he would have made a mint off of himself. Of course, given the relative tameness of the Prince’s exploits, ending as they did with marriage to the lady he had loved long before he met Princess Diana (to say nothing of that unfortunate noblewoman’s tragic death), some would charge the Chevalier Murdoch with arrant hypocrisy.


What was Cardinal Mahony’s response to this trans-national Peyton Place? Well, His Eminence, perhaps innocently misunderstanding the Church’s social teaching to be a “preferential option for the rich,” has had long experience assuaging the consciences of the wealthy and powerful. He has been, perhaps unfairly, charged with “playing the role of Archbishop of Canterbury to the L.A. elite.” Critics would point to his relationships with such folk as “the last mogul,” the late (and Mafia-connected) Lew Wasserman, and various pro-abortion politicians, such as congressman Edward Roybal and former mayor of Los Angeles, Richard Riordan. Writing of Wasserman’s death in Archdiocesan paper The Tidings of Friday, June 7, 2002, the cardinal declared of the man who brought us The Last Temptation of Christ, and much else:


the passing of Lew Wasserman closes an era in the entertainment industry which will never again be experienced. Lew was both the architect and the patriarch of the motion picture and television industries, and his creativity and energies took the industry forward in ways never envisioned. What you and I take for granted in today’s entertainment medium did not just happen. It took extraordinary initiative, daring, courage and talent.


Certainly, it took daring, given the number of times films produced by Wasserman have been condemned by Catholic bishops. In any case, the cardinal went on to assure us: “the English language does not possess the superlatives needed to describe this exceptional human being and leader. I considered him a dear friend, a wonderful counselor, and a model leader. In the Hebrew scriptures, he would surely be called both prophet and patriarch, because so he was.” Indeed. Wasserman had been appointed by the Cardinal to the Catholic school board, and had showered the prelate’s causes with millions of dollars.


So too with Congressman Roybal. In 1987, Archbishop Mahony, (still awaiting, and perhaps lobbying for the Red Hat), wrote a letter declaring that the faithful could not vote for pro-abortion politicians. This was a bit odd, as there was no election immediately coming up at the time. Nevertheless, emboldened by this bit of pastoral advice, a move surfaced among the Golden State’s Knights of Columbus to oust Roybal from the Knights because of his pro-abortion voting record. This effort foundered when Archbishop Mahony faxed a letter to Supreme Knight Virgil Dechant, quoted in the Wanderer, which said: “Cong. Roybal is a faithful Catholic, one of our best examples of a Hispanic Catholic in public life who is not afraid to live out his Catholic life with pride. I have known him and his family for over 30 years, and I have the highest respect for him as a member of this Archdiocese.” Whatever anyone might claim, Roybal knew that his archbishop was with him, and the congressman voted for abortion happily until his retirement. In earthly terms, it was fitting that the cardinal should preside over the funeral of this man.


Mayor Riordan was and is a similar case. Shortly after the knighting of the Murdochs, the then serving mayor announced February 10, 1998 that he would marry his longtime companion, Nancy Daly, in a civil ceremony on St. Valentine’s Day. Since His Honor had been married twice in the Church (the second time following an annulment), this third attempt with Mrs. Daly prevented both parties from receiving communion. Riordan declared at the time that he would “regret” being no longer allowed to receive, but that he intended to remain an active Catholic—an activity expressed in the past by such actions as the donation of $250,000 to the post-1994 earthquake alterations at St. Monica’s Santa Monica, and endorsing the cardinal’s successful effort to persuade the City Council to strip St. Vibiana’s Cathedral of its landmark status (this latter move was necessary in the campaign to bulldoze it and build the new one). Cardinal Mahony’s response to Mayor Riordan’s civil marriage, as reported in the February 12 Los Angeles Times was measured. “I am saddened by their decision to wed civilly,” His Eminence declared. “Although they remain members of the Catholic Church, their action compromises their ability to participate fully in the Church’s sacramental life… I urge them, as I would all other Catholics who find themselves in similar circumstances, to continue to attend Mass regularly and to share in the life and the mission of the Church.” Riordan was not upset, according to the mayor’s secretary, Noelia Rodriguez. “He knew this was coming. He respects the cardinal for his position.” Of course, none of this was a great surprise to His Eminence. After all, the mayor and Mrs. Daly (at the time still legally married to Robert Daly, former head of Warner Brothers Studios) were beneficiaries of a Mass said for them by the cardinal on the day of His Honor’s inauguration as Mayor of Los Angeles. Shortly after, Mayor Riordan named Mrs. Daly as the city’s "Official Hostess.” The second Mrs. Riordan was at the time living in Carmel .


Given his past experience as keeper of the conscience for such worthy magnates, His Eminence was well-equipped to assist the Chevalier Murdoch in his hour of moral peril. Rather than castigate him, or cut him off from cardinalatial affection and sympathy in this dark hour, the prelate stood beside him, proudly posing arm-and-shoulder with the troubled Knight Commander in a Los Angeles Times photo-op. On September 6, 1999, it was reported in the Los Angeles Times that Murdoch was donating a further $10,000,000 to the building of the new cathedral. Still and all, despite the appearance of the building (memorably described in the L.A. Weekly as “butt-ugly”), it was money well-spent, in the sense that Rupert has bought himself a permanent home. According to a September 7, 2002 L.A. New Times article, both Murdoch and Riordan bought burial spaces in the cathedral’s crypt. Of course, one might well wonder how the Chevalier, as a non-Catholic, might be buried in consecrated ground. The answer had already come, earlier in the year, in a February 8 Los Angeles Times story, where it was noted that “church policy throughout the diocese allows an individual who is married to a Catholic or who comes from a Catholic family to be buried in consecrated ground, and that will hold true in the cathedral.” Since the Church does not recognize the Knight Commander’s divorce from his Dame, this rule will still apply.

Although Murdoch’s affairs have since taken him far from the City of Angels, he will always have a place in our earth, if not in our hearts. Interestingly enough, the belated convert the Chevalier Bob Hope, KCSG, KCBE (hon.), also spurned all efforts at getting him to be buried at the new cathedral. Instead, he had a tomb built for himself and his wife at historic San Fernando Mission cemetery. It would be unkind, unfair, and possibly untrue, despite all that has been said, to infer that the warmth of the Cardinal toward his paladin is based purely upon filthy lucre. In truth, there are many similarities in character between the duo, which doubtless helped build cordiality between them. Above all, there are their protean ideals. One would be hard put to say just what either of them really holds about anything. As an example, the Chevalier Murdoch’s Fox News is widely trumpeted as the voice of American “Conservatism,” whatever that may mean. To be sure, it does swarm with pro-life and anti-homosexualist messages. But as we see in a fine New Yorker article (“Murdoch’s Game” his views are really all over the place—and generally in the direction of whomever he can control. In this country, he has been a stalwart neocon, and has supported Bush and CO., over the war. Certainly, his $3,000,000 annual subsidy of the Weekly Standard has helped to make that journal not only the rag of record within the Beltway, it has allowed the Standard to drown out less bellicose and big-government voices on the right.


But neocons should take care; Rupert, like fire, is not merely a dreadful but a changeable master. When the Chevalier unloaded his wife, he changed not only spouses but views on China; his News Corp. is a virtual partner of CCTV International, a company that spews propaganda for the Beijing regime. Murdoch’s organs have attacked the Falun Gong and other opponents of the Party. Most famously, he directed HarperCollins to drop former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten’s book, for fear of Lord Patten’s critical remarks of the government to whom he turned over the hapless Crown Colony.


In Great Britain, Murdoch was Tony Blair’s foremost supporter, despite that worth individual’s left-wing social agenda (the legalization of gay sex in public restrooms was only the icing on a fetid cake). Despite renouncing his Queen and Country in 1985 in order to circumvent FCC regulations, Murdoch also maintains a heavy interest in Australian politics. His media organs backed up Labour pols Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke, and Paul Keating to the hilt. Not too surprisingly, in view of his vendetta against the Prince of Wales (exposure of whose peccadilloes did much to dampen support for the Monarchy in Australia), Murdoch and his minions propagandized and financially supported the republican side in the 1999 referendum—not content with that defeat, the Chevalier’s proxies continue the struggle. In Commonwealth politics, Knight Rupert has trampled upon everything that his distinguished father, Sir Keith Murdoch, KBE, stood for. His nonagenarian mother, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, DBE, a noted philanthropist (who proudly remains in Australia ), bravely soldiers on in vocal and public support for the Crown that honored both herself and her husband. It is a pity that loyalty is a virtue not always inherited. In the light of all this, the fact that Murdoch was single-handedly responsible for the election of Ed Koch as Mayor of New York via endorsement through the New York Post should shock no one. Nor should his impending endorsement of Hilary Clinton in our presidential election in 2008. His detractors would say that he has no principles, and would sell anything or anyone for money or power; his allies would point to that as a healthy flexibility. However you choose to read it, you cannot condemn him for consistency, foolish or otherwise.

All of which reminds one of his clerical ally, Roger Cardinal Mahony. As Bishop of Stockton, the future Prince of the Church was renowned as a “labor priest,” and was never so happy as when marching by the side of Cesar Chavez and the UFW. Nothing about this was too strange, since the Church has traditionally supported unions when the clerics involved have believed workers’ rights to be threatened. For the first three years after his ascension to the archiepiscopate of Los Angeles, Mahony (while cultivating the preferential option earlier spoken of) continued to play the same song, happily appearing alongside various pro-abort “Catholic” politicians at the Catholic Labor Institute’s annual Communion Breakfast. But then, in 1988, the mostly Latino cemetery workers at the Archdiocesan graveyards began to organize with the intent of forming a union. His Grace’s reaction was volcanic. Pressure of all sorts was brought to bear, and in the end the workers knuckled under. When the CLI backed the initiative, the Archbishop angrily cancelled his attendance at their breakfast, noting that he was shocked, shocked to discover that one of their other speakers was pro-abortion—the view shared by Murdoch’s friends Roybal and Riordan, and Governors Davis and Schwarzenegger. But all is not politics in the Catholic Church; there is Faith also. The cornerstone of the Faith is loyalty and obedience to the Pope, the Successor of St. Peter. Here too, Cardinal Mahony has shown the same fealty to the pope as Sir Rupert showed his Sovereign—yet another point of convergence. Consider: in 1997, the Pontifical Council for the Laity issued an instruction on the collaboration of the un-ordained with priests in the exercise of their ministry. Among a number of other requirements, the document declared, “Extraordinary ministers may distribute Holy Communion at Eucharistic celebrations only when there are no ordained ministers present or when those ordained ministers present at a liturgical celebration are truly unable to distribute Holy Communion.” When asked how the Archdiocese would respond to this decree, so flagrantly in violation of Angeleno norms, His Eminence airily replied, “oh, that doesn’t apply to us.” This was, however, only the beginning of a number of such documents emanating form the Vatican, each doomed to the same fate. In March of 2004, the Holy See’s Congregation for Divine Worship issued a decree, Redemptionis Sacramentum, which called for a crack-down on liturgical abuses in the Catholic world, naming in particular the use of ice tea pitchers to hold the Precious Blood at Mass. The Cardinal’s response was that the decree did not apply in Los Angeles, since there were no liturgical abuses here. As for the ice tea pitcher… well, the Cardinal claimed local option on that one.

In 2005, His Eminence derided the issuance of a new, faithful translation of the Mass in English. On the one hand, his priests (who, as a body, are generally too intimidated to cross him), would “not accept it;” on the other, the layfolk, upon whom he had just inflicted another round of liturgical alterations, “should not be disturbed” by an accurate rendering. Cardinal-watchers here are wondering how His Eminence plans to dodge the recent motu proprio liberating the Tridentine Mass, and laying book on the ingenuity with which he does it. One area where the prelate does part company with the Aussie knight-errant is in his outward behavior toward the proper object of his loyalty. One would not expect, given his attacks on the royal Family in print and in the ballot box, to see Rupert lolling around the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, or squiring his Dame-du-jour at a Windsor garden party. But when in Rome, His Eminence definitely does as the Romans do; there he dresses very much the part of a Prince of the Church. His title church in Rome, Santi Quattri Coronati, is one of the few (if not the only) churches in the Eternal City where you can see its Cardinal photo displayed as well as his coat of arms. At the Conclave two years ago, he took his place with his colleagues amidst all the pomp and splendor. In this writer’s ears still ring the words of His Eminence on that occasion when, asked by a television interviewer for his opinion on the spacious new Conclave accommodations, he replied, “oh, there’ll be no shortage of fine wines and chocolates!” But fun as life can be under the miter, here in the “Big Nowhere,” into each life a little rain must fall. In the case of His Eminence and us his subjects, it is the pedophilia scandal, which has necessitated the big payoff. While the awful disclosures emanating from Boston since 2002 almost immediately generated answering echoes here, the Cardinal maintained that he had a “no-tolerance” policy for sex-offenders. Then it developed that he did know about a few. Or some. Or whatever. In any case, no stinkin’ D.A. was getting a look at the files anyway. For the most part, in deference to the Cardinal’s special relationship with Los Angeles’ movers and shakers, for most of the past several years, he received fairly light treatment from the Los Angeles Times. Apart from slings by talk radio and the alternative press, he was generally able to ride out the storm, more or less.

That pattern was disrupted in 2006. In that year, a documentary was released. Entitled Deliver Us From Evil the film voiced charges that His Eminence, while Bishop of Stockton, had known that Fr. Oliver O’ Grady, a truly disgusting pedophile, among whose victims in his 20-year-long spree was a 9-month-old baby, had a little problem; nevertheless, according to the documentary, then-Bishop Mahony had not either defrocked him or sent him away from the kiddies. The civil authorities responded, however. But in 1984 the police enquiry into Fr. O’Grady’s play-time activities was closed when the diocese promised that he would have no more contact with children. Instead, he was reassigned to a parish about 50 miles east, in San Andreas, where he got up to his old tricks. Shortly afterwards, Bishop Mahony was transferred to L.A. But he was not forgotten, and certainly not by Fr. O’Grady. In the documentary, the fun-loving cleric says of his one-time boss that he was “very supportive and very compassionate and that another situation had been smoothly handled.” To be fair, His Eminence has denied that he knew about Fr. O’Grady’s little difficulties.


At any rate, while quite happy to concede that both the prelate and his press lord are motivated by only the purest and highest of intentions, this writer must observe that it has been a fatal friendship. The Cardinal’s policies have cost his office a great deal of moral authority: recently, California Assembly Speaker (and sometime Mahony-ally) Fabio Nunez, stung by the Cardinal’s reprimand over the Speaker’s support of assisted suicide, responded that His Eminence’s energies would be better spent dealing with pedophiles. The fact that two weeks later Speaker Nunez was revealed to be involved in a strange love quadrangle with Telemundo announceress Mirthala Salinas, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaragosa, and State Senator Alex Padilla did not diminish the force of his gibe much (although the fact that the Cardinal has supported all three men at various times did not build confidence in his spiritual guidance). The fact is simply that, brown or white, foreign or domestic, the contemporary rulership—of whom Sir Rupert is certainly a poster child—is deeply, perhaps irredeemably corrupt, in most senses of that elastic word. “If you would dine with the devil, you’d best use a long spoon,” runs the Irish proverb; alas, His Eminence apparently has no such cutlery in his drawer. What make the Cardinal’s apparent truckling to the dissolute elite doubly unfortunate is that there is much good he could do with the resources at his disposal. But then, the same could be said of Rupert Murdoch. Every day at Mass, I offer my Communion for Cardinal Mahony, in hopes that one day he might see things as they are: I doubt I need fear any such change of heart from Rupert.

Charles A. Coulombe is an author in Los Angeles.

On Friday, July 20, President Bush issued an executive order that seems designed mainly to protect members of his administration from prosecution once he leaves office.  At least, that’s the most charitable interpretation I can put on it.  The order interprets Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions in such a way that torture by the CIA during interrogation of suspected terrorists is, by definition, not torture.  Under the order, “willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse” are considered torture only if they are “done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual in a manner so serious that any reasonable person, considering the circumstances, would deem the acts to be beyond the bounds of human decency.”  If done for selfless reasons—say, obtaining intelligence on potential terrorist attacks or extricating information on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden—the same acts are no longer to be considered torture.

Bush’s action has largely escaped scrutiny, but two former Reagan appointees have had the courage to call a spade a spade.  In the Washington Post on July 25, former Marine Corps commandant P.X. Kelley and Reagan White House lawyer Robert F. Turner, while offering their general support even for “many other controversial aspects of the war on terrorism” (such as “warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps”), declared that “we cannot in good conscience defend a decision that we believe has compromised our national honor and that may well promote the commission of war crimes by Americans and place at risk the welfare of captured American military forces for generations to come.”

This is what defenders of the Bush administration fail to comprehend: The Geneva Conventions of 1949 were designed to protect all of the signatories, who agreed to place limits on their own actions both because it is the right thing to do and because doing so offers protection to our own fighting men.  When we gratuitously misinterpret the Conventions for our own purposes, our signature becomes of no value.  To whom will we turn when others, acting in their own limited interests, choose to do the same?

Blogging on Reason’s “Hit and Run,” Brian “Radicals for Capitalism” Doherty chronicles the objections of “some libertarians” to Ron Paul and his presidential campaign. Ostensibly a “defense” of Paul against the very few authentic libertarians who oppose him, Doherty’s piece winds up reiterating every kvetch and cavil against the Good Doctor while neatly distancing the author from Paul’s critics:

“Paul’s concern with immigration is of a piece with his right-populist strains, an obsession with “sovereignty” that feeds his fevered opposition to international trade pacts and the UN. Combined with his strong emphasis on trash-talking the Federal Reserve and advocating a return to gold, it’s the sort of thing that strikes many other libertarians as, if not inherently unlibertarian, sort of cranky and kooky, and that led me to note to The New Republic that many libertarians (though not me) think of Paul as a bit of a yokel.

“And a yokel with some ugly things in his past that no libertarian wants to be linked with…”

Doherty lists all the various hate crimes with which Paul is charged—I dealt with them here—and then goes on to pick other nits, citing some really obscure sources (aside from Randy Barnett), and concluding with a call for libertarians to refrain from making the perfect the enemy of the good. Okay, but was it really necessary to go on at such length about Paul’s alleged crimes, especially considering the sources of the accusations?

I have to say that, whatever the contents of Doherty’s final paragraph—“Why is Ron Paul the place where making the non-existent best the enemy of the good becomes the right thing to do?”—that remark cited in The New Republic was really a low blow. What’s worse: calling Ron a “yokel,” or acting as a transmission belt for such vicious Beltway badinage? Doherty’s post gives new meaning to the phrase “hit and run.”

Bob Novak spills the beans this morning:

“The morass in Iraq and deepening difficulties in Afghanistan have not deterred the Bush administration from taking on a dangerous and questionable new secret operation. High-level U.S. officials are working with their Turkish counterparts on a joint military operation to suppress Kurdish guerrillas and capture their leaders. Through covert activity, their goal is to forestall Turkey from invading Iraq.”

It was always a fantasy that the Americans could contain the Iraq war within the borders of their newly-conquered province, and critics of the invasion raised this issue before the war was launched—alas, to no avail. What is interesting is that the US, according to Seymour Hersh, is funding the Iranian affiliate of the PKK, which is known as Pejak, as part of its covert campaign to destabilize the ruling regime in Tehran. And the Israelis, don’t forget, have been covertly training and funding the Kurdish militants in an effort to establish a base of operations from which they can watch—and harass—the Iranians.

Note to Rudy Giuliani: this is what is meant by “blowback.” Watch, listen, and learn ….

Postscript: I hate to say “I told you so,” but … on second thought, I don’t hate it at all:

“The Shi’a in the south, the Kurds in the north, the Turkmen and the Sunni clans of Tikrit: we will soon be more than well-acquainted with their complaints, which have already begun. Every faction and a few yet to be invented will come to the fore, claiming the mantle of “democracy”: the Iraqi National Congress, the constitutional monarchists, the Islamists, and the various Kurdish groups, ad infinitum. Their demands will wind up on the desk of an American viceroy, who will then be expected to side with this or that group “€“ on what basis and with what sort of advice is impossible to say.”

See also: here, here, and here.

Reading Paul Weyrich’s article today on Hugo Chavez’s crackdown on the Venezuelan media, and our “free” media’s reaction to it, brought to mind an event from my first term at Michigan State.  Our campus parish, like most Catholic parishes around colleges and universities, was unabashedly leftist; still, I was going there for the Eucharist, not the politics, so I tried to shut out all of the nonessentials.

This particular Sunday, however, I couldn’t do so.  The pastor announced that ten percent of the Sunday collection would, as always, be donated to a “worthy charity”; this week, that “worthy charity” was the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.  Giving a tithe to a murderous leftist regime was bad enough, but what really made my blood boil was the fact that Daniel Ortega’s government had, that very week, shut down the independent Catholic radio station—an important focus of opposition to the Sandinistas.  I left that church (and, sadly, left the Church, though only for a month) before the Mass had ended, without receiving Communion.

Coming of age politically in the tail end of President Carter’s term, I was wrapped up in debates over Nicaragua.  This event, and others, had convinced me that the United States, because of the role that we had played in the overthrow of Somoza, had a moral obligation to the people of Nicaragua to rid them of the Sandinistas.  It took me years to realize why I was wrong.

In the West, we tend to place pride as the first of the seven deadly sins.  (In the East, it’s usually gluttony or acedia (sloth).)  That means that true repentance requires, always, a certain humility.  Good confessors know that, when a man can undo the damage wrought by his sin, he should, and they will ask him to; but they also know that, sometimes, he cannot do so, and encouraging the delusion that he can is likely simply to confirm the sinner in his pride, which will lead to further sin.

What’s true of men is true of nations, and the problem in Nicaragua in the 80’s, and Iraq today, is our prideful insistence that we can set right that which we messed up.  We couldn’t then, and we can’t now, and all that our refusal to admit, in humility, that we cannot put Humpty Dumpty together again is likely to bring is more death, destruction, and chaos.  Pulling out of Iraq is one bad option among many bad options; the action can be redeemed, however, if it becomes an opportunity for the United States to grow in humility.  Then, perhaps, we’ll be less likely in the future to rush in where angels fear to tread.

As, for instance, into Venezuela.

Latin America is well-known for its volatile political history of caudillos, corruption, economic instability and popular uprisings.  Since the late 1990s some stability has descended on the region but the authoritarian tendency has never disappeared entirely. Fidel Castro, the most notorious authoritarian in the region, has maintained firm control of the Cuban populace for the last forty-eight years.

Now many men who apparently wish to follow Castro’s example are coming (or returning) to power, including Evo Morales in Bolivia, Tabaré Vázquez in Uruguay, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, the former Sandinista Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.  Because of Venezuela’s vast oil reserves, Chavez has become particularly prominent and powerful in the region.  He has made no secret of his contempt for the United States and the free market or of his admiration for Castro.  One of his stated goals is to bring “€œ21st Century Socialism”€ to Venezuela, and to do so he has nationalized many of the private companies within the country.

The most recent event in the Chavez Socialist drama came on May 27 when the dictator forced the popular Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV), one of the few remaining independent media outlets in the country, to close.  RCTV operated for fifty-four years, but criticized some of Chavez’s recent policies and openly supported a coup d”€™Ã©tat against him in 2002.  Thus, it was a threat to the Socialist Revolution and had to be closed.  Not satisfied with eliminating one television station from the airwaves, Chavez went after Globovisión, one of the few remaining independent stations in the country and the only one to air footage of the large demonstrations against the government’s control of the press in the wake of RCTV’s closure.  Chavez, in a characteristic example of his double-speak, accused Globovisión of implicitly calling for his murder.

Although I am deeply concerned about the growing threat Chavez poses to his country, the region and the Western Hemisphere, I also am angered by the portrayal of Chavez in the mainstream media here at home.  It will come as no surprise that the American media generally favors the political left.  One would think, though, that Chavez’s blatant violation of freedom of the press with the closure of RCTV and threat to Globovisión would elicit great outrage among our own press corps.  Unfortunately, one would be wrong.

On May 30, the Los Angeles Times and the Kansas City Star ran an op-ed by Bart Jones that was so effusive in its praise of Chavez it would be difficult to distinguish from his official propaganda.  According to Jones, “€œthe case of RCTV”€”like most things involving Chavez”€”has been caught up in a web of misinformation.  While one side of the story is getting headlines around the world, the other is barely heard.”€  Apparently Jones believes it is his duty to persuade the American public that RCTV deserved to be closed by the government.  The reason”€”it tried to oust a democratically elected leader.  “€œA stream of commentators spewed nonstop vitriolic attacks against [Chavez] “€” while permitting no response from the government,”€ he writes.  Had an American network aided a coup against the U.S. Government, it would have been shut down and its owners jailed “€œin five minutes.”€  But the benevolent Chavez allowed RCTV to remain on air for five years.  It is evident that Jones believes the U.S. Government is not nearly as democratic as Chavez’s.

Likewise, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an Associated Press interview entitled “€œChavez Connects With Poor”€ on June 10. The article begins with Venezuelans yelling “€œI love you”€ to Chavez and giving him flower bouquets.  This is not the typical dictator, you see.  This man is a folk hero who plants kisses on the cheeks, heads and hands of those who try to see him.  In his interview Chavez claimed that “€œwhat hurts [him] most is poverty, and that’s what made [him] a rebel.”€  Now he hands out homes and medical care to Venezuela’s poorest, telling them this is what the Revolution can give them.  Later in the article Chavez portrays himself as a martyr, a common theme of his political career.  Because of his Socialist Revolution, he is condemned to death like Castro, and is forced to take security measures that are so extreme he ends up not having a personal life.  Cue the violins.  He never reveals who has condemned him to death, but it is safe to assume he means the forces of capitalism and American “€œimperialism”€ that he so frequently blames.

The problem with the mainstream media in America is that it is so enchanted by radical left-wing politics it can barely bring itself to condemn the actions of a dictator who so brazenly violates the freedom of the press.  Of course, in America the media frequently equates Christian conservatives with fascist dictatorships and accuse them of trying to censor the press and eradicating all of our constitutional freedoms.  But the truth is that an authoritarian streak exists in all leftist politics.  Because of this, the media refuses, with few exceptions, to portray Chavez honestly, even when he violates its most sacred freedom.  This should not come as a surprise to those of us who have followed the American media any significant period of time, but it should serve as a reminder of the hypocrisy of a large segment of the American media and the value that independent news sources have in our own culture and around the world.  We should be thankful for the freedoms we have here, but we must be vigilant to protect them.

Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.

Image courtesy of www.latinamericanstudies.org.

I have a piece in the (British) Guardian on Ron Paul, which I dashed off a bit too quickly, but it reads pretty well in spite of that. What’s interesting is the comments section, which—due to a notice in the noted hate-siteLittle Green Footballs,” world headquarters of the more-Likudist-than-thou’ers—is infested with the craziest remarks. Speaking of infested, not to mention craziness, one of the little lord poppinjays of the pro-war British Left—the Euston Manifesto crowd—by the name of Oliver Kamm has commented on my piece, on his little blog, wherein he accuses me of being …. an agent of the Mikado! This is hysterically funny, and so characteristic of the species: the pro-war Left, particularly in Britain, is so friggin’ pompous and actively ridiculous that they seem as if they’re from out of some Monty Python moviel, always declaiming about the moral inferiority of anyone who disagrees with them, and—yes, even at this late date—issuing pronunciamentos as if they were at the head of an army of millions, when, in fact, they are a tiny and very disagreeable little sect that has no more political influence than … well, than Oliver Kamm.

Politically, what I call Kammunism is a doctrine that believes in war as the cure for all things: a war on the foreign front, because, after all, people need to be conquered for Their Own Good, and, in the traditionally leftist manner, a war on the home front, with the government marauding against its own people—taxing, regulating, and lecturing them (again, for Their Own Good), lest they get the mistaken impression that they’re in charge of their own lives.

So, what does the Maximum Leader of the Kammunist movement have to say? Well, this:

“I notice incidentally that The Guardian, or rather its ‘Comment is Free’ site, has lately taken a contribution from a bizarre figure called Justin Raimondo, expounding the merits of the isolationist presidential campaign of Congressman Ron Paul. On his own palaeo-libertarian anti-war web site in the US, Raimondo has gone a little further than the Greenpeace critique of the A-bomb decision, by openly regretting that the US and its allies won the Pacific War.
Here’s what he says:

“‘The great horror is that this heinous deed [Hiroshima] was committed against Japan, a civilization as far removed from our own as the streets of New York are from the African savannas. It’s at times like these that I tend to believe the wrong side won the war in the Pacific.’

“Hundreds of thousands of civilians died horrifying deaths at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As a historical and not an ethical judgement, we can say with a very high degree of probability that a conventional assault on Japan would have resulted in a far higher death toll. (One of Japan’s principal wartime officials, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal Marquis Kido Koichi, later testified that in his view the August surrender saved 20 million Japanese lives.) And Imperial Japan, responsible as it was for such atrocities as the Bataan death march and the Rape of Nanking, had to be defeated such that it would pose no threat of resurgent militarism and imperialism a generation or so later. That last sentence seems to me an obvious truth, but my own occasional excursions on “Comment is Free” suggest that in that parallel universe Mr Raimondo may count as a prophet.”

To begin with, Komrade Kamm takes a snippet from a rather long column and makes it out to be the whole, but in fact, if anyone goes back and reads the thing in context, they see quite clearly that I was doing what a Kammunist would never do, and doesn’t have it in him to do: I was making a joke. Here’s what Kamm leaves out:

“The great horror is that this heinous deed was committed against Japan, a civilization as far removed from our own as the streets of New York are from the African savannas. It’s at times like these that I tend to believe the wrong side won the war in the Pacific. Just think: if we all woke up one day living in some alternate history, as in Phillip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, our cultural malaise would disappear overnight. Instead of listening to the latest loutish lyrics of Eminem, American teenagers would be contemplating the subtle beauty of the Japanese tea ceremony. If contemporary Japan is any clue, the crime rate would be cut by 95 percent, and the literacy rate would skyrocket. Certainly everyone’s manners would improve. All in all, life would be far more civilized, imbued with a gentility that would make the New York Post an impossibility.”

To the humorless Kamm, the above is a hate crime. To the rest of us normal humans, it is a bit of levity, albeit to make a point. Ah, but levity is unknown to the scowling Kammunists, who disdain such proofs of our humanity and sit in perpetual judgement, eager to condemn: it is the Comrade Ninotchka syndrome. To these people, any deviation from the Korrect Line is a crime punishable by a good smearing, to be followed—in states where they hold power—by a show trial.

I also have to note one curious characteristic of the Kammunists, and that is their inability to think independently: once the Party Line comes down, they follow it like ants on the scent of spilled sugar. Years ago, another Kammunist—pro-war “former” Trotskyite Stephen Schwartz —made the same accusation, in the same deadpan style, seizing on the same citation to “prove” that I am an agent of Japanese Imperialism and the Chysanthemum Throne. These people quote each other as if their shared delusions are some sort of cross-validation. This makes for a certain amount of repetition: thus, in a previous blog entry, Kamm reiterates his contention that I am “bizarre”—he knows this because Christopher Hitchens told him it was so.

What is truly “bizarre,” however, is the sight of a self-proclaimed “leftist,” such as Kamm and his fellow Kammunists, who declare that the Iraq war is a heroic crusade for “freedom” rather than a frightful mess that we have no interest in and never did. The Kammunists insist, against all evidence, that the religious authoritarians who have seized control of Iraq in the wake of that country’s “liberation” are upholders of “democracy” and that we mustn’t abandon the fight.

In America, Kamm would be on the staff of Joe Lieberman, or, perhaps, one of Hillary Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy advisors. Kammunism, as a movement, is tiny but influential, and they all—no matter what side of the Atlantic they hail from—have one characteristic in common: unmitigated bloodlust. The blog entry I’m discussing, you’ll note, is part of a larger piece justifying the A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There is hardly an atrocity committed by the West that these people don’t justify and even valorize. War, war, and more war—death, destruction, and piles of bodies. That’s Kammunism, in a nut-shell.

Postscript: For a rational, i.e. anti-Kammunist, view of the mass murders at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, go here and here.

Pat Tillman was shamelessly used by this administration in order to shore up support for a futile, increasingly unpopular war. When he enlisted, disdaining a multi-million dollar contract with the Cardinals, he was touted by none other than the President and Donald Rumsfeld as a patriot and a model for America’s youth: when he was killed, they said he was felled by “friendly fire”—after initially lying and claiming that he was killed by hostile fire. Now, it’s coming out that he may have been murdered, and not by the Taliban:

“Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

“‘The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,’ a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

“The doctors – whose names were blacked out – said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.”

Who killed Pat Tillman—and why? That’s the title of my latest column for Antiwar.com, and a question that has haunted his family all this time—and is now going to haunt the rest of us. The White House, oddly, is stonewalling a congressional investigation by claiming “executive privilege” concerning documents dealing with the Tillman affair—so what are they hiding?