The IndigNation

In an op-ed in Sunday's Washington Post, Rick Perlstein cuts to the chase. His piece is titled, "In America, Crazy Is a Pre-existing Condition."After surveying "birthers, health care hecklers" and other contemporary manifestations of "right-wing rage," Perlstein reminds us that there is nothing new under the sun and takes us on a survey of the angry, delusional right-wing groups of earlier decades.In the early 1950s, Republicans referred to the presidencies of … [Read more...]

'Satan's strategy' (part 1)

"The pretensions of the self therefore can be maintained only by willful deception, for which Tertullian had the very accurate description of 'willing ignorance.' This deception does not require a conscious act of dishonesty in each individual instance. The deception of sin is rather a general state of confusion from which individual acts of deception arise. Yet the deception never becomes so completely a part of the self that it could be regarded as a condition of ignorance. … [Read more...]

Those pearls won't clutch themselves

B: You realize what you've done, don't you?A: Drawn a link between the spreading of malicious falsehoods and the practice commonly referred to as "lying"?B: Well, yes, that. That's not allowed.A: "Allowed?"B: Right. You can say, "Sarah Palin's statement is false," because, you know, it is. And you can say, "Sarah Palin's statement is malicious," because, again, it's generally regarded as a mean thing to say about other people … [Read more...]

An argument

A: Sarah Palin is lying about health care reform. B: Whoa, hold on there. That's quite the accusation. You want to use the L-word, you're going to have to prove it. A: That's not difficult. Here is the outrageous and demonstrably untrue lie in question, from her Facebook page: The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of … [Read more...]

The Ouija Board

Regarding denial (see below), a true story: Back in college, junior year, shortly after Halloween, the guys I worked with on the night shift in the dining hall came in all jumpy and agitated. Turns out they had been playing around with a Ouija board and had convinced themselves that some malicious spirit was haunting their dorm room. I tried to convince them that they had nothing to worry about -- that Ouija boards are nonsense and it was all just the power of suggestion. Tommy, the one who … [Read more...]

Fool’s (Sher)Gold

No doubt you also have some earnest-but-naive friend/acquaintance who fills your inbox with multi-forwarded e-mails concerning various urban legends -- dire warnings about toilet-dwelling spiders or kidney thieves, or morality plays warning against unnatural acts involving peanut butter and household pets. Usually I just delete these, but if I'm in one of my rare patient moods, I may reply, referring my friend to the appropriate pages at This usually gets my friend oddly miffed. … [Read more...]

Bad habits

Two recent stories illustrate how some of journalism's conventions can result in distorting the truth. 1. Two Sides to Every Fact. This story by USA Today's Peronet Despeignes offers an example of how the two-sides-to-every-story notion of balance can end up twisting fact into opinion: The federal budget deficit will reach $477 billion this year, the biggest shortfall ever in dollar terms, the Congressional Budget Office said Monday. Over the next 10 years, cumulative deficits are … [Read more...]