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February 17, 2005

Comments

Edward, time to post a relieve-the-tension thread? Maybe "things that went terribly wrong at weddings" since I'm thinking about the possibilities?

"And if Soros was funding this guy's defense would the thread be identical?"

Sure, if that guy's lawyer was being monitored by authorities, violating basic confidentiality. That's pretty unsettling. I'm worried by the idea that being *suspected* of committing certain crimes is now justification for the elimination of core constitutional rights.

It reminds me, strangely enough, of the conservative uproar during the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill debacle. Liberals were accused of making sexual harassment a 'magical accusation' that could never be disputed. These days, 'terrorism' is the conservative equivalent.

Paul:
First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I like this part of the Constitution.

Jackmoron,

You're obviously not astute enough to understand that the First Amendment is not a part of the American tradition.

It's his money, Bird Dog.

Of course it's his money, Bernard. I've never said otherwise. He can be as hypocritical as he wants with it, and I reserve the right to criticize him for it. Free speech cuts all ways.

I'm a fan of this one, meself:


In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

I haven't seen it in quite these words yet, so...

I firmly believe that people I firmly believe are guilty of disgusting, heinous, evil things deserve an excellent defense. Justice requires that the state prove its case. In the court of public opinion, my surety is enough. But in law, the standard ought to be a whole lot higher. And this is especially true when I am most tempted to sneer at the limitations of jurisprudence. It is better for guilty people to free than for innocent people to be punished, and this principle is well worth supporting in every single case, every time, from the smallest crime to the greatest. Conviction should be the reward of a good hard struggle on the state's part.

This got beautiful. Best thread in days. Thanks Bird, and of course thanks to Mr Cella. Always a pleasure.

Is the 1st Amendment (and its companions) an end in itself, its protection superseding all other goods?
Does the Bill of Rights have only an instrumental value, or an absolute value? May it be partially and specifically and temporarily suspended or vitiated, in service of other goods and goals? History tells us we have survived such episodes, so perhaps there is something in America more valuable than the Constitution, than needs protection even from the abuse the Constitution may be in occasional service to.

Like a polity? A culture? Should the Constitution cause damage to the nation or part of it, it may be in a more general peril. It is only a piece of paper, respected as long as it shows its usefulness. It is the people who make it work. So many constitutions around the world, so few that are actuallt respected.

Mr Cella has frightened many here who tend to be frightened of their fellow men. Some have violated posting rules. I am not frightened of Mr Cella, or his ideas, but do hope he provides assistance to some of his companions on the right who may lack his judgement and compassion.

Question to Cella:

Consider these possible 'crimes':

1 Reading Communist Literature
2 Being Communist
3 Publicly Advocating Communism
4 Engaging in Destructive Acts in Order to Advance Communism.

* * *

Cella's response:

I have no qualms about legal sanctions against 2, 3, or 4. To put it another way: I believe that, this being a republic, the legislative bodies in this country ought to be free to legislate against them.

Well guess what? Our founding fathers disagreed, and 2 and 3 cannot legally be outlawed. As a matter of policy, I am glad that you don't believe in freedom or democracy, since you believe the majority are free to criminalize dissenting belief they do not like.

By the way, its no longer a Republic once you go down this path. It rapidly becomes tyranny. Read a little history, and you'll figure that one out.

I think 3.6: Publically Advocating specific acts of destruction to further the Communist Cause is illegal. (Or would it be specific imminent acts of destruction...)

Bird Dog,

Just because he disagrees with you as to the most effective way to promote his goals does not make him a hypocrite. You and Paul Cella have no monopoly on truth. Soros is entitled to form his own judgments. Even being wrong does not make him a hypocrite.

Also 3.1415: Shouting "Communist" in a crowded theater.

"since you believe the majority are free to criminalize dissenting belief they do not like."

Hang out with Yglesias too much, and his pragmatic empiricism has ruined me.

When will your neighbours criminalize dissenting speech?
What kind will they criminalize? How onerous will the sanctions be? Will the majority pay a price for this action, will there be consequences? If freedom were to go into partial eclipse, would we survive? Would useful lessons be learned?

If we were headed into tyranny by will of the majority, do you really think that piece of paper would save us?
What is it, exactly, that protects us from tyranny?

bobmcmanus states that anyone who disagrees with Cella is someone "tend[s]to be frightened of their fellow men.

Please explain that one to me. Where I come from, people who want to limit open discussion, and indeed want to criminalize open discussion, are the ones who are considered fearful, frightened men.

Tell me what's so freaking brave about advocating "silence, death or exile" for dissidents?

Re the First Amendment:

Yes, I haven't forgotten about it. But the First Amendment is contained within the larger document, which begins, in the Preamble, by setting out its purposes thusly:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The amendment cannot be simply wrenched free from its wider context. I have a hard time seeing how domestic Tranquility can be reconciled with tolerance for those who advocate the violent overthrow of our government.

We are not talking about run-of-the-mill radical opinionating. We are talking about, as I mentioned in my original comment, Islamists, Nazis, Communists, and suchlike -- people who aspire to violently replace the U.S. government with another.

I am perfectly happy with a broad tolerance for a very wide variety of opinion. My point is only that We the People are free to set limits at the extremes -- indeed we are obligated to. My point is that for us, all questions are not open questions; one that we have closed is this: "should the American government be overthrown?"

I'll also note that the application of the First Amendment to the states through the Incorporation Doctrine is a very recent innovation -- a departure, that is, from our political tradition as it remained for 150 years.

"neighbours"
A Canadian in our midst!

"What is it, exactly, that protects us from tyranny?"

The willingness of the judiciary to enforce the Constitution, the willingness of law enforcement to abide by the judiciary, and the willingness of the populace to support the mandate of law enforcement. Quite a lot derives from that little piece of paper, and our collective agreement to honor it. Subverting any link in that chain is quite possible, on the order of a revolution or a coup d'etat.

"If we were headed into tyranny by will of the majority, do you really think that piece of paper would save us?"

You're begging the question. If we're 'headed into tyranny' then obviously the paper isn't saving us. What that paper means is that tyranny must come by a bloody revolution, not by a slow degradation of rights.

dmbeaster:

Well guess what? Our founding fathers disagreed, and 2 [being a Communist] and 3 [publicly advocating Communism] cannot legally be outlawed.

Oh no?

Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government; or

Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so; or

Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence; or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof--

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.

[Smith Act of 1940 (yes, I know it has been amended)]

"The amendment cannot be simply wrenched free from its wider context."

Nor can the aspiration to Tranquility. If Tranquility were the overarching raison d'etre for the establishment of the state, the forefathers would have payed their stamp tax. It would have been much more Tranquil than the revolution. The Blessings of Liberty follows shortly thereafter in the document.

Sidereal:

I think what Mr. McManus (who has generous come to my defense again) means is that even in a Constitutional Republic, the people have final authority. That's why it is still a Republic.

McManus is just echoing the dismissive attitude of Publuis in The Federalist toward "parchment barriers" against the will of the people. When your form of government is republican, meaning rule by the people through their representatives, you cannot, in the final analysis, thwart their will.

The Christian nations of our age seem to me to present a most alarming spectacle; the impulse which is bearing them along is so strong that it cannot be stopped, but it is not yet so rapid that it cannot be guided: their fate is in their hands; yet a little while and it may be so no longer. The first duty which is at this time imposed upon those who direct our affairs is to educate the democracy; to warm its faith, if that be possible; to purify its morals; to direct its energies; to substitute a knowledge of business for its inexperience, and an acquaintance with its true interests for its blind propensities; to adapt its government to time and place, and to modify it in compliance with the occurrences and the actors of the age. A new science of politics is indispensable to a new world. This, however, is what we think of least; launched in the middle of a rapid stream, we obstinately fix our eyes on the ruins which may still be described upon the shore we have left, whilst the current sweeps us along, and drives us backwards towards the gulf.

-- Tocqueville, Democracy in America (the "rapid stream," of course, is the march of democracy.)

Sidereal writes, Nor can the aspiration to Tranquility. If Tranquility were the overarching raison d'etre for the establishment of the state, the forefathers would have payed their stamp tax. It would have been much more Tranquil than the revolution. The Blessings of Liberty follows shortly thereafter in the document.

Well said. Unity, Justice, Tranquility, common defense, general welfare, the Blessings of Liberty -- all these are set before us as the goal to which "We the People" must dedicate ourselves. The balancing of these goals is the public conversation of this republic, which is also, of course, the first public business of this republic.

I paraphrase: By the guidance of the Preamble, the Republic is to be conceived in its motion as an ongoing public argument. We the people, by constituting ourselves one people, declare that we are locked in argument as citizens under God, about the refinement, enhancement and perfecting of our political order. Our government shall be as a dialogue in classical political philosophy: a sober and very serious, though certainly not dull, attempt to approximate the good (that is virtuous) life of political man. And the sky is the limit as regards legislation, subject to a variety of sagacious qualifiers and codicils, so long as it emerges from the deliberate sense of the community (Publius's words) acting through assemblies of representative citizens to whom We the People have vouchsafed our authority.

This could be the platonic tarbaby post.

"McManus is just echoing the dismissive attitude of Publuis in The Federalist toward "parchment barriers" against the will of the people."

This miscontstrues the barrier. The parchment itself is meaningless. Easily forgotten or burned. But in creating the parchment you create a new will: the will to defend it and abide by it. The will to a coherent polity. The question then becomes: does the will to a new order supersede the will to abide by the founding document? Or, does our will to be something new supersede our will to maintain the identity of the United States? The former will is, I would hope, proportional to the wisdom enshrined in the document.

There's another issue. It's in the nature of humans to be wise some times and foolish others. We are fearful creatures, and often short-sighted. Is it appropriate to make a rule in your wiser times that you obey in your foolish times, because even if you no longer see the wisdom, you honor and respect your wiser self? In the context of religion, the family, and the self, we say yes. Capriciousness is not a virtue. Is politics different? Is there such a thing as the tyranny of the better self? I ask honestly. I don't pretend to know the answer.

Mr. Cella:

there has always been a fine line between freedom of association and conspiracy, especially when the purpose of the association is to advocate for significant changes in the US economic and/or political systems. the line separates advocacy for change from advocacy for violence.

for example, i am absolutely entitled to form the "New American Communist Party" and advocate for the election of officials who will nationalize some / all of the US economy. i'm even allowed to call for a constitutional convention to revoke the 5th amendment obligation to pay just compensation. so long as i don't advocate for the overthrow of the US govt through force or violence, i'm covered.


as far as your concerns about the incorporation doctrine, the civil war and 14th amendment resolved that issue. the states' rights side lost.

Francis

"bobmcmanus states that anyone who disagrees with Cella is someone "tend[s]to be frightened of their fellow men."

Well, ya know, not exactly what I said.

The imprisonment of Eugene Debs, and I think Robert Montgomery?, but at least Debs was a terrible thing. Yet 90 years later we are free to criticize this war and this President. By "frightened of their fellow men" I meant that the slippery slope argument that allows no discussion of the instrumental value of "Rights" implies that your opponents will lack the good judgement, moral values, and reasonable restraints that you yourself have.
They may not have the quantity and quality of those good things that you possess, but I suspect they have some.
I trust that If this President were to try to make all and any criticism of himself illegal, Mr Cella would stand alongside me in resistance.

Now I have been down this road before, telling Katherine at one point that the rendition of one man or two did not necessarily lead to tyranny, and I didn't see Ashcroft jailing every American Muslim. I reversed myself upon subsequent revelations.

Make no mistake, I disagree with Mr Cella on many things, and am offended by this story(Lynne Stewart) and am much more receptive to George Soros and the Open Society. I disapprove of banning the Communist Party.

I do not, however think Mr Cella intends general tyranny or widespread suppression of dissidents.

I disapprove of banning the Communist Party.

Thank you.

bob, how would you think he feels about, say, atheists holding office in America? And proclaiming how their atheism has led to a rich life, or a political decision or appointment?

Charles: As Ted Barlow pointed out, your second update seems to overlook the fact that Soros is not just spending money in many of the countries you mention, but in some cases one of the major donors supporting open and civil society. If you go to his website, you'll find links to all of them, including the Turkmenistan Project and the Burma Project, along with others (e.g., the Middle East and North Africa Initiatives, that don't make their relevance to your criticism quite so simple to figure out, since they don't actually contain the names of the countries you suggest Soros should be involved in.) And he's not giving small amounts, either: a year and a half ago, the Washington Post wrote:

"The Open Society Institute in Russia will become 15 organizations that will continue their work but will have to find other funding. After spending $1 billion in Russia over the last 15 years, Soros said he will scale back to just $10 million a year.

He has taken a greater interest in the developing and still largely corrupt nations ringing Russia. Soros arrived in Moscow after touring Central Asia and the Caucasus region, where he plans to increase his activities. "These are areas of instability and my involvement is undiminished in these areas," he said."

Now: that's a billion dollars for just Russia, leaving aside the work of the OSI in the rest of the world. The total amount he spends on democracy development in developing countries is estimated to be around $270 million a year.

In addition to spending over a quarter of a billion dollars a year promoting democracy in developing countries (not including Russia), he also spent $20,000 once "to conduct a public education campaign around the broad civil rights implications of Lynne Stewart's indictment". As I pointed out in my earlier post, there was a serious legal issue at stake in Stewart's prosecution, and being concerned about it in no way requires any sympathy for Stewart. Moreover, legal protections are one of the issues he focuses on.

So why does this grant make him a hypocrite? Is the idea that as long as there are other countries that are worse off than we are, it's hypocritical to give money in our own? If so, then let me just announce my hypocrisy: I give a bunch of money away every year, most of it to organizations like Oxfam and Medecins Sans Frontieres, but I also give to my local United Way, even though I realize that there are places in the world where people are worse off than Baltimore. Baltimore is my home; I feel some obligation to it.

Worse still, sometimes I spend money on things that aren't even charitable at all, even though I know that there are people who need the money more than I do. A couple of days ago, for instance, I ordered some books online, even though that same amount of money would have done a lot more for desperate people all over the world.

Does this make me a hypocrite? If so, I'd be grateful (really) if you'd explain to me why. (I'm quite serious: I try to be a decent person, and if my spending charitable dollars in Baltimore is wrong, I would like to know.) Do you live up to this standard? If not, do you think you are a hypocrite? If not, have I somehow misunderstood your point? If so, I'd be grateful if you'd explain it to me, since the way it reads to me, you are arguing that spending $20,000 here at home when there are other places that need that money more, even if you are giving over a quarter of a billion dollars a year for work in those other places, is what makes his actions wrong. And that seems to me to be an extraordinary view.

On the other hand, if you just didn't know about the extent of his other donations, I'd suggest doing research before you accuse someone of hypocrisy.

Sorry: on rereading the last few paragraphs of my post, I see that their structure is not clear. So here it is, in schematic form:

I) I assume that you know how much money he gives. If so:

Ia) You seem to be saying that if someone gives any amount of money to do something in one country when there is another country in which people need help more, then that person is a hypocrite.

If this is what you meant, then: 1) I am a hypocrite; 2) Please tell me why; 3) are you?

Ib) If you meant something different, please explain.

II) If my initial assumption that you checked Soros' giving in other countries is wrong, then you should have checked before accusing him of hypocrisy.

Mr Cella has frightened many here who tend to be frightened of their fellow men.

Well Bob, maybe I can stop quivering in fear long enough to address your point.

If we were headed into tyranny by will of the majority, do you really think that piece of paper would save us?

So the First Amendment is useless because it's not a perfect defense against tyranny? Is that what your "pragmatism" means? No sense carrying an umbrella, because someone might steal it, and then you'd get wet anyway.

So the First Amendment is useless because it's not a perfect defense against tyranny?

I think what he means is that the First Amendment isn't *physically* able to stop bullets.

Being paper and all.

And even if it could stop bullets, would it be able to stop Lex Luthor armed with kryptonite?

I didn't think so.

For those of you interested, the transcripts of the taped conversations are here (also the deliberations(!))

What amazes me is that the Sheikh is speaking Arabic and Stewart is speaking through Yousry's translation. If you haven't worked in a country where you have to work through translation, (not to mention a language like Arabic, which along with Japanese and Chinese, is the most difficult to learn, according to the State Department), consider for a moment how it might be just be possible to misinterpret.

I find it strange that the transcripts are up, but none of the RW sites actually cite any particular passages to prove Stewart's guilt. I guess with all the s**t that is thrown up, they figure there has to be a pony in there somewhere.

I really don't understand why you let someone like Bird post here.

Shorter, Bird Dog Sucks and is ruining this site.

I am curious, if we were talking about "Militias" instead of the "Blind Sheikh", would everyone be so upset with Bird Dog? Just asking.

"So the First Amendment is useless because it's not a perfect defense against tyranny?"

Golly. Ok, the 1st amendment is neither useless nor all-powerful. It did not help Debs a lot. Ulysses got legal.
It helped Hustler and Flag-Burners. But got kinda savaged in Campaign-financing. Isn't stopping media consolidation or moderate-conservative dominance.

But wait. Maybe these things aren't so much about the amendment as the judges who interpret it. We had a bad set of judges for Debs and a good set for Jehovah Witnesses. How do we get good judges? Politics. Do we want judges who retard the people's will, reflect it, or anticipate it,ignore it. Problems in all of these.

You want interpreters with blindfolds, an absolute and timeless interpretation? Ain't gonna happen. Most of the time, in easier cases with a plurality of consensus, we'll manage. In times of war or issues of passionate disagreement, it(or judges) may fail, and people will get hurt.

Look, you simply can't say it will protect people all the time... because it hasn't. You can say it should, and I wish I had a pony. You can fight for it in specific cases, and sometimes lose.

But politics, persuasion and confrontation and coalition and compromise, is the only place where freedom lives. Not in a piece of paper.

I am curious, if we were talking about "Militias" instead of the "Blind Sheikh", would everyone be so upset with Bird Dog? Just asking.

In a word, yes.

BD's hackery in writing this screed had nothing to do with who Stewart's client was, and everything to do with a transparent and dishonest attempt to smear Soros by insinuating a Bush/bin Laden-style connection between he and someone convicted of aiding terrorists.

Had you taken the time to read the rest of the thread in good faith, you would know this.

I am curious, if we were talking about "Militias" instead of the "Blind Sheikh", would everyone be so upset with Bird Dog? Just asking.

StanLS asked essentially the same thing. Whyncha scroll upthread for the answer?

Catsy, I read it all both here at Wings as well as over at Tac. There is no doubt if the situation had changed as described, Bird Dog would make the same remarks about the situation, although the cite would have been from a different source.

I wasn't troubled by the contribution made by Soros. A liberal activist in trouble someone in Soros's organization wrote a check, maybe even the man, himself.

I was troubled by many of the comments, including the personal insults, something about Posting Rules rings a bell. But Catsy you would have a better feel for that than I.

"I am curious, if we were talking about "Militias" instead of the "Blind Sheikh", would everyone be so upset with Bird Dog? Just asking."

Obviously, I can't speak for anyone but myself, Timmy, but given that all the other facts in the post were the same, I would probably have exactly the same reaction. The issue, as I see it, is not at all related to the particular political bent of the criminal in question, but rather on the propriety of the government so casually shredding the attorney-client-privilege right in their pursuit of Lynne Stewart (who I think is a crank and an idiot, and whose client is a scumbag murderer but that's *way* by the by). I take issues of constitutional protections and civil liberties quite seriously, the views (however loathesome) of those affected ought not, to my mind, be a factor where principles of Law and Justice are involved.
I voiced my critique of BD's post in my comment at 4:18 - had he indeed blasted George Soros for contributing to the defense fund of a lawyer charged re representing, say, Tim McVeigh, my reaction would be the same.

"For those of you interested, the transcripts of the taped conversations are here (also the deliberations(!))"

For the record, I think those transcripts labelled "deliberations" are of court proceedings after the jury had gotten the case (e.g., discussions of notes from the jury, the verdict, etc.). It is extremely rare for a jury deliberation to be recorded in any way.

I think it's fair to say our system treats juries very much as a "black box" where we dump in the info. (both fact and law), we get out a verdict, and we don't want to know anything else.

StanLS asked essentially the same thing.

Phil, I read your response, it didn't really answer the question I asked. Now Jay C. makes a much better effort.

Jay C. just one question, does attorney client privilege pertain when it has nothing to do with the client's legal rights? It appears to me (absolutely no legal training, other than contract and securities law) is that counsel has an obligation to the court to limit the privilege to legal proceedings. Am I incorrect in this understanding?

TtWD: It would be exactly the same, as far as I am concerned. I argued for the right of Nazis to march through Skokie, and I would argue for that.

Thanks hilzoy, is my question on Posting Rules germane?

hilzoy, I'm glad to read it. When the events in Skokie occurred I sent my first contribution to the ACLU and I have been a (-ahem- card carrying) member ever since.

Getting late, but I'll add one last riposte:
Timmy:
however sketchy your legal training, it is still far more than mine, which falls under the heading of "what I know about the law is only what I see on television". I have not the least idea of how the Law interprets the scope of attorney/client privilege: if you do, or can provide a link, please let us all know. However, I would imagine that it is not limited to just "proceedings" as in, say, a courtroom (if that IS your view???)
I have been under the impression that Lynne Stewart's contacts with Sheikh Omar *were* in the context of legal consultation/representation, (as opposed to just casual visits), which I gather was the root of the whole hullabaloo about the G's wiretapping of them: If I'm incorrect, I'd like to see a cite.
But I still stick by my opinion of BD's post as "sucky" - although, I DON'T think he's ruining the site. (Yet :))

"For the record, yes, I am a card carrying member of the ACLU, but the more important question is 'Why aren't you, Bob?'"

It had to be done.

I should like to observe wryly that no matter how many times Timmy shows up to wag the blog, I always seem to fall for it.

I expect if enough people join me in my pledge of Feb 1, a more reasonable solution will have been found.

I have my own variation on that pledge: I read but don't bother to respond. It's not worth my time.

I expect if enough people join me in my pledge of Feb 1, a more reasonable solution will have been found.

I have my own variation on that pledge: I read but don't bother to respond. It's not worth my time.

I've been thinking about pledges and I'm beginning to think that it's necessary to make some pro-forma response to a front page post like this rather than just not read it, or read it and not respond. Thinking about the facts and lacunae marshalled here apparently to mislead, I realize this is not simply a tar-baby post, it's worse. The following article might appropriately describe this situation. Apologies if this is taken as a posting violation, but I think BD's post fits under that rubric.

I'm more than a bit worried that this shares the same features as the conservative response to Eason Jordan's comments, but the inability for Bird Dog (sorry, the Charles mask no longer applies) to update the post with reasonable points made by the commentators (such as the timing of OSI contribution, the fact that the OSI money is not an open-ended committment (which is mentioned in the NRO column, so this post is filtering out everything but the most inflammatory points), Soros' support of precisely the places that BD claims he does not) but instead misdirect and make points without checking makes me reluctantly and sadly conclude that BD really has no place at a site that seeks to promote dialogue between the left and right.

JayC, this cite explains some of the other problems with the case.

Paul Cella: "We have, in short, always been willing to offer to subversives the choice that Athens gave to Socrates: silence, exile, or death."

ral: Excuse me, I have a question. Do we think this is a good idea?

Paul Cella: "Yes. A very good idea. Socrates agreed."

No, he didn't. It ill becomes you, Paul, to cite Socrates without considering this: From the Apology, 360 BCE:

And therefore if you let me go now, all you who are not convinced by Anytus, who said that since I had been prosecuted I must be put to death; (or if not that I ought never to have been prosecuted at all; and that if I escape now, your sons will all be utterly ruined by listening to my words, if you say to me, Socrates, this time we will not mind Anytus, and you shall be let off, but upon one condition, that you are not to enquire and speculate this way any more, and that if you are caught doing so again you shall die;, if this was the condition on which you let me go, I should reply: Men of Athens, I honor and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you, and while I have life and strength I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy, exhorting any one whom I meet and saying to him after my manner: You, my friend, a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens,, are you not ashamed of heaping up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and caring so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all?

Paul Cella seems to have picked out "I honor you and I love you" from the whole magnificent Apologia, and ignored the rest.

Paul Cella: Indeed, but he did not begrudge the Athenians when they moved to stop him. That was my point.

Nonsense. Seriously, Paul, this a major twist on the four dialogues that make up the trial and death of Socrates. (The four usually included are Euthyphro, Apology (which is supposed to be the defense Socrates presented at his trial); Crito, post-trial, in which Socrates explains why he isn't going to try and escape, and Phaedo, which describes Socrates' death.)

To argue that Socrates thought it "a good idea" that he should be given the choice of silence, exile, or death for saying what he thought, to anyone he thought, is virtually a 180-degree twist on all interpretations I've ever seen of those dialogues. Even to argue that he didn't begrudge the Athenians their right to do it is at least a 95-degree twist on it.

Socrates is condemned to death for corrupting the young with opinions about the gods that are contrary to the beliefs of the majority. In fact, as he says elsewhere in the Apology, he is really being condemned to death for being annoying - being a gadfly. He says, as I quoted above, that he will not accept silence as the price of his life. He's condemned to death, but he can't be executed for religious reasons for several weeks. During that time, Crito visits him and urges him to escape. This is his response, speaking as if he were the "laws of Athens":

"Listen, then, Socrates, to us who have brought you up. Think not of life and children first, and of justice afterwards, but of justice first, that you may be justified before the princes of the world below. For neither will you nor any that belong to you be happier or holier or juster in this life, or happier in another, if you do as Crito bids. Now you depart in innocence, a sufferer and not a doer of evil; a victim, not of the laws, but of men. But if you go forth, returning evil for evil, and injury for injury, breaking the covenants and agreements which you have made with us, and wronging those whom you ought least to wrong, that is to say, yourself, your friends, your country, and us, we shall be angry with you while you live, and our brethren, the laws in the world below, will receive you as an enemy; for they will know that you have done your best to destroy us. Listen, then, to us and not to Crito."cite

(There is an earlier passage, which I won't quote, having already perhaps quoted too much, where Socrates points out very acutely what life in exile for a man aged seventy is likely to be, and it's not pretty.)

At no point - literally, at no point - does Socrates say that giving him the choice of silence, exile, or death was right or just. He simply accepts that the Athenians can do it to him, and are doing it to him, and that (especially at his age) he really has no choice: he will not sacrifice his integrity to their demands, and he will not go into exile to escape them, therefore, if they want him to shut up, they must kill him.

I think I am most offended by this argument because I first read these dialogues when I was almost too young to understand them (in English, I'm afraid: I've never learned Greek). But I understood that Socrates was standing up for what he believed to be right even at the cost of his own life: and I have understood ever since that this is the right thing to do. To argue that Socrates' courage and integrity in the face of being told "exile, silence, or death" meant that Socrates thought those choices were "a good idea", as Paul Cella claims, is to make a mockery of the ideas Socrates explicitly stands for in those four dialogues.

If Paul Cella has never read them, and knows them only by interpretation, I suppose he's merely misinformed: I can see how "Crito" could be interpreted to mean that a citizen of the state owes complete loyalty to the state even when he disagrees with it. But if Paul has read the dialogues and this is what he's come up with, I am as unimpressed by this as I am by slaveowners in the 19th century who came up with Biblical quotes to prove that God said slavery was a good thing.

Reading all the arguments about how congress has to right to give advocats of change in the constitution the choice of silence, exile, or death, I start to wonder:

What exactly is the difference to the behaviour of the Iranian mullahs? AFAIK they claim that there once was a referendum which gave legitimacy to the theocratic constitution of Iran. Based to that they claim the right to suppress the political opposition (which actually has the support of the majority by now) which wants to change that constitution.

From a pure legalistic point of view, I really don't see the difference.

What that paper means is that tyranny must come by a bloody revolution, not by a slow degradation of rights.

One would think so, but the example of Hitler's Germany, which had far less inherent Constitutional protection than we do, is a fine counterexample. There, I've said it. In our own time, the ongoing encroachment of civil liberties post-Patriot Act is another example. (Reason does fine coverage of this every day at their blog.)

bob, how would you think he feels about, say, atheists holding office in America? And proclaiming how their atheism has led to a rich life, or a political decision or appointment?

Paul has already declared publicly that atheists should be excluded from holding public office. (He did it in the comments on this very blog.) He also once insinuated that if religious folk like him continue to get fed up with the path of government and culture they might have to "take matters into their own hands," wink wink. I guess the first "dangerous idea" we need to ban is Christianity.

"I've been thinking about pledges and I'm beginning to think that it's necessary to make some pro-forma response to a front page post like this rather than just not read it, or read it and not respond."

I have thought about it as well. I feel duty bound to respond, not merely for the reasons lj cited, to point out how misleading the post is on so many different levels. I am responding because the post offends on a very deep level what I believe are the fundamental values of this country.

I am not sure, as bob mcmanus is, that Paul Cella does not "intend[s] general tyranny or widespread suppression of dissidents." I think he has advocated a view which can only lead to this. If speech alone, without any threat of violence, can be prohibited, or if groups can be proscribed based on their opinions and not their actions, then the inevitable result is suppression of dissent and tyranny.

What scares me far more than Paul Cella taking these positions is that they seem to me to be the positions of a significant portion of the right wing of this country, including nearly all of the conservative media.

You give Charles and Paul Cella too much benefit in saying their position on dissidents is a philosophical one, though Cella tries to make it look like one by (mis-)citing Socrates' trial.

A valid philosphical position is one held regardless of which party or person is in power. The RW only want dissidents silenced (if not imprisoned, killed or exiled) when a government to their liking is in power. Their positions do a complete about face when Democrats are in the majority and/or hold the WH.

What scares me far more than Paul Cella taking these positions is that they seem to me to be the positions of a significant portion of the right wing of this country, including nearly all of the conservative media.

Someday we'll all be able to simply discuss things without resorting to excessive and unfounded generalization, Dantheman. Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow... Not saying we over on the right are free from guilt in this matter, but some of you guys are always around to point out those transgressions as well.

BD's hackery

Please knock it off, Catsy. If BD's work is sufficiently flawed, simply pointing out those flaws should suffice. You've done this multiple times on this thread, and I'm now asking you to cut it out. It's got no place here. Calling someone's work "hackery" and calling them a hack are roughly equivalent, and so just about equally unacceptable.

Slarti: Someday we'll all be able to simply discuss things without resorting to excessive and unfounded generalization, Dantheman.

Excessive, possibly: judgement call.

Unfounded? Hardly.

Imprecise, then. Unfounded might be out of line, because "a significant portion" could conceivably be defined as "more than one or two", depending on how flexible the writer is feeling.

"Someday we'll all be able to simply discuss things without resorting to excessive and unfounded generalization, Dantheman. Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow... Not saying we over on the right are free from guilt in this matter, but some of you guys are always around to point out those transgressions as well."

I do not for a minute believe my generalization is either excessive or unfounded.

"If BD's work is sufficiently flawed, simply pointing out those flaws should suffice."

Not if BD's response to having those flaws pointed out is not to retract his statements but to compound them by making more fanciful and less supportable allegations (as he did in his updates).

"Paul has already declared publicly that atheists should be excluded from holding public office."

Sure, I remember this. Mr Cella is not my ally. I definitely want to keep his ideology from power. But there are still two paramount ideas I take from him.
1)Culture matters
2)Politics matters

The simple lesson we on the left should be taking from the last few years is that, with extraordinary rendition an example, the law does not protect us. More laws, or different and better laws, or better lawyers, are not the answer. Power f***ing matters.

Mr Cella, because his ideology is closer to those in power than mine, bears listening to.

1a) Culture matters:The left need to develop a persuasive culture or ideology. Not simply one that is correct, but one that will gain a majority. One that is competitive with traditional values and Christian Conservatism in creating an enthusiastic and committed following.
2a)Politics matters:Success will not be achieved in courts and legislatures and Presidential elections. Success will be achieved in media and streetcorners and blogs and churches and direct mail. We got to get local and talk to people, especially people we are not completely comfortable with.

Mr Cella has a third point I am not completely clear on. When you have an implacable opponent (contradiction coming up) like Mr Cella keeping atheist me from public office(or banning the Communist Party), or Phil banning Christianity or the Shia in Iraq dealing with the Sunnis, you have to deal with the problem. Civil society bends or breaks at this margin. Best may be to contain them without threatening their existence, but it must be recognized that the situation can get ugly or violent. Culture is worth fighting for.

I do not for a minute believe my generalization is either excessive or unfounded.

I'm not addressing what you believe. I'm addressing what you're saying. I have no question that you believe what you're saying.

Not if BD's response to having those flaws pointed out is not to retract his statements but to compound them by making more fanciful and less supportable allegations (as he did in his updates).

Then it should be like shooting fish in a barrel to show him how wrong he is. Not only that, people like me tend to take you more seriously when you do that. But if you're pandering to those who relish a smackdown over a refutation, I can understand the inclination to indulge.

"Then it should be like shooting fish in a barrel to show him how wrong he is."

The fishes were duly shot, by myself and others. If you think otherwise, please re-read the thread.

Please knock it off, Catsy. If BD's work is sufficiently flawed, simply pointing out those flaws should suffice. You've done this multiple times on this thread, and I'm now asking you to cut it out. It's got no place here. Calling someone's work "hackery" and calling them a hack are roughly equivalent, and so just about equally unacceptable.

With respect, no. They are not equivalent, and we do and always have drawn a firm distinction here between attacking what someone has written and attacking them--and what Charles has written this time is Limbaugh-grade garbage. I unequivocally stand by what I said. I have exhaustively supported it by pointing out where and how this post distorts and omits relevant facts and uses loaded language to smear a man who has done more to promote democracy in this world than BD's stint in the 101st fighting keyboarders will in a lifetime. BD's response to this has been not to retract or correct his mistakes, but to avoid addressing them with evasive BS like "you made that connection, not me", as if anyone with an IQ above room temperature wouldn't immediately understand what the language in his post insinuates.

The problem with refuting this kind of garbage is that it adds to its legitimacy--particularly when it gains further legitimacy when prominently featured on the front page. Ethical bloggers, when their facts or conclusions are corrected, update their post with front-page corrections so that the average reader who doesn't read through the scores of comments will not be misled. Charles does not appear to want to do this: he has been corrected, the loaded language and implications of what he wrote have been pointed out to him, but the only update has been to quote a post elsewhere that has nothing to do with the facts he misrepresented, but rather is linked to further cast into doubt the legitimacy of the OSI. I can only conclude that either Charles does not have the time to update his post (but does have the time to respond to comments), or he knows exactly how it comes across and wants it that way.

It is Bird Dog who has no place here at ObWi as a guest poster. His works are a complete embarassment to this community. He needs to go.

It is Bird Dog who has no place here at ObWi as a guest poster. His works are a complete embarassment to this community. He needs to go.

OK folks, this has gone on long enough. Von and I invited Bird Dog, but I'll speak for myself, supposedly the most left person on the blog.

I respect the writing Charles does, even when it's inflammatory, and anyone who doesn't like his posts is welcome to ignore them (or mine or hilzoy's or whomever's).

I'll remind all readers that ObWi attempts to represent the sprectrum of opinions and that effort is guaranteed to annoy some folks from time to time. We're all thinking adults here, though, we can handle it.

Really, skip a writer's posts if you don't want to read them, but don't argue anyone should be denied a voice. That's not even remotely a position I'd support.

A few folks have asked that we put bylines at the top of the threads, and I think that's a good idea. I'll ask all ObWi writers here to start doing that (it will need to be manual, though, as I don't know how to do it automatically).

In return, I'd ask that readers try to understand we're not attempting to please everyone here...we're trying to present a wider variety of opinions, even unpopular ones.

The personal attacks have got to end though. They contribute nothing.

Edward

The fishes were duly shot, by myself and others.

Great! Then your work is done, here.

He needs to go.

If the more permanent folks here think his posts aren't up to snuff, I'm sure they'll take it up with him. Speaking for myself, this sort of gotcha blogging has little attraction, but I wouldn't presume to speak for the rest of the readers.

In the meantime, please keep it civil.

"A few folks have asked that we put bylines at the top of the threads, and I think that's a good idea. I'll ask all ObWi writers here to start doing that (it will need to be manual, though, as I don't know how to do it automatically)."

Can we also ask that there be a policy on when writers need to update a post (especially when their arguments have been repeated proved to be factually unsupported)?

Oops. As usual, Edward said it better.

And there's my byline.

"repeated" should be "repeatedly".

Bob,

You are simply repeating yourself. Saying that there are bad judges interpreting it is just another way of saying it is not perfect protection. Saying we need to do more than rely on it is just saying it is not perfect protection.

But that does not mean it is useless. It does not mean that it is not worth valuing highly. It does not mean that it is not an important part of our political structure. Not all cases are marginal cases. Even bad judges will sometimes have to rule that the Amendment protects certain actions.

Cella doesn't seem to think the First Amendment protects anything valuable, though I admit I'm not 100% sure what he is saying.

Maybe his whole point is that, after all, given big enough majorities in Congress and control of enough state legislatures, it would be possible to repeal the amendment, or declare Zoroastrianism the national religion. My, my, what an insight.

Or maybe he thinks, as I interpret him, the First Amendment should be repealed, or severely restricted in its application, so that Congress could criminalize speech at its whim. Now, that strikes me as a terrible idea, and to claim that it would be in accord with "American tradition," and to criticize Soros for thinking it would be a terrible idea, is utterly wrongheaded.

Sure, he can cite the Alien and Sedition Acts, and some other items, and selctively quote Socrates, but so what?

I do not, however think Mr Cella intends general tyranny or widespread suppression of dissidents.

Not sure I agree, but again, so what. He is clearly willing to tolerate widespread suppression of dissidents, so long as Frist and Hastert think it's a good idea. What is there that makes you think otherwise?

Edward: and anyone who doesn't like his posts is welcome to ignore them (or mine or hilzoy's or whomever's).

Fine. To make this easier, could we have the byline at the top of the post, instead of the bottom? Same for comments, if possible.

Sorry for the last comment - I hadn't realised Edward had already agreed. *slaps wrist*

It ought to be possible to do it automatically, I think: I know TalkLeft switched around by popular demand.

Can we also ask that there be a policy on when writers need to update a post (especially when their arguments have been repeated proved to be factually unsupported)?

I think that begins to demand a jury of sorts, because I've had threads in which folks have declared they proved me wrong and I was still unconvinced. I have updated posts when I felt it appropriate, but I don't like the idea I'm somehow bound to that. In the end, the respect readers have for a writer is based in part on such updates and readers will ignore those writers they don't respect, but let's not make this an official policy. Readers can move on if they're satisfied they've debunked an assertion.

Fine. To make this easier, could we have the byline at the top of the post, instead of the bottom? Same for comments, if possible.

Jes, I noted in the comment I think this is a good idea and we'll start doing this manually (I'm not sure how to do it behind the scenes automatically...if anyone familiar with Typepad knows it can be done, please share).

Regarding the same for comments, again, good idea, but I'm not sure how to do that...advice welcome.

"The fishes were duly shot, by myself and others.

Great! Then your work is done, here."

No, there is still the necessary step which preceded this exchange, to wit:

"Not if BD's response to having those flaws pointed out is not to retract his statements but to compound them by making more fanciful and less supportable allegations (as he did in his updates).

Then it should be like shooting fish in a barrel to show him how wrong he is."

But I suspect your memory is good enough to recall that already, as it only occurred in the last 2 hours.

Can we also ask that there be a policy on when writers need to update a post (especially when their arguments have been repeated proved to be factually unsupported)?

I'd like to second that. In this case, as has been pointed out several times, Soros' contribution came in the form of support for a campaign to raise awareness of the notion that all defendants are entitled to a defense, that the contribution came early enough that it should not have been taken as 'supporting' Islamic terror, that it was not an open-ended contribution to Stewart's defense (a fact noted in the link that is cited in the post), that Soros has demonstrably donated money far in excess of this donation to precisely the list of countries and causes that were listed. Furthermore, the original post argues that the Open Society Institute is not being true to its goals, yet the update then argues that those goals are incompatible with an American notion of society and jurisprudence. Omitting Paul Cella's defense of his own notions, I have seen no comment refuting any of the other points.

If it would be too embarrassing for BD to make these points within another update, the alternative would be to simply strike this post. Please remember that a front page post is not automatically connected to the comments. BD himself has acknowledged that when he updated his post on Rachel's Corrie's presence on the Washington State voter rolls: that the same principle applies here should be taken as a given.

But I suspect your memory is good enough to recall that already, as it only occurred in the last 2 hours.

In other words, your terms for stopping making a nuisance of yourself are that Charles does X. Furthermore, you're going to insist on being unpleasant to me until Charles agrees to your demands. Well: declined; I don't have any control at all over Charles. If you truly have issues with Charles, take them to email. You can find his address with a minimal amount of searching over at Redstate.

Really, this is getting tedious.

I suppose when Joseph Welch asked Senator McCarthy if he had any sense of decency, he was violating the posting rules too?

This post reflects the sad state of the broader body politic, and it's time people stood up and said "no more".

everything to do with a transparent and dishonest attempt to smear Soros by insinuating a Bush/bin Laden-style connection between he and someone convicted of aiding terrorists.

Your interpretation of this post as a smear is your problem, Catsy. The facts are what they are. I don't know why you're sensitive about a guy like Soros or a gal like Stewart.

"In other words, your terms for stopping making a nuisance of yourself are that Charles does X. Furthermore, you're going to insist on being unpleasant to me until Charles agrees to your demands. Well: declined; I don't have any control at all over Charles."

Pot, meet kettle on the subject of nuisances. But then why are you telling me my work is done? It will not be done until Bird Dog corrects his misstatements.

"If you truly have issues with Charles, take them to email."

Declined for 2 reasons:

1. I like my anonymity.
2. If his post is here, and the comments refuting it are here, why should requests to correct misstatements not be here, as well?

I don't know why you're sensitive about a guy like Soros or a gal like Stewart.

Oh dear. My Respect For Charles meter just dropped significantly.

What I think is most interesting is that BD cannot give a good reason as to why he hates Soros. Those reasons that he has posted seem like complete BS and were ripped apart by the information Ted and Hilzoy posted. So why does BD hate Soros so much?

I could respect someone simply saying "I just don't like him", after all opinions are opinions and everyone is entitled to one, but to insult our intelligence by cherry picking data points about Soros and ignoring any good Soros does is simply, well insulting.

I suspect that BD simply hates Soros becuase he knows he is supposed to hate Soros. Just like the two minute hate from 1984, he doesn't know why he hates, only that he must to properly love Big Brother, so he will find the reasons somewhere.

Charles: I don't know why you're sensitive about a guy like Soros or a gal like Stewart.

Because Soros has done more to help the cause of democracy and free speech than everyone on Obsidian Wings put together?

Because Stewart's "crime" was to be a zealous defense attorney?

Because you've chosen to lie and sneer about them in your post, and have not bothered to correct your lies?

Charles, as much as I dislike the tone of the responses here, and object to the language, I'm a little at a loss to see what purpose the demonization of George Soros serves, here. And certainly the cause-and-effect cart is being set before the horse, as his contribution to her defense fund took place over two years prior to a determination of guilt. Is it really your case that one ought not contribute to the defense of someone that might be found guilty, years later?

"Because you've chosen to lie and sneer about them in your post, and have not bothered to correct your lies?"

Please, Jes, take it to the powers if you can't just walk away. Don't put me on CB's side of this.


Dan: "1. I like my anonymity."

Get a one-off hotmail account and identify yourself - though I'm leery about the whole enterprise if you won't trust the powers to the extent of using your real email. (Anyway, they've got your IP, which is I suspect as identifying).

Indeed. Tell me if you can figure out who I am, by my email.

Indeed. Tell me if you can figure out who I am, by my email.

I think there are ways actually...for the more clever Googlers out there...

Crap. You can reach me at [email protected], which tells you next to nothing about who I am.

As if I cared, even if it did.

I don't know why you're sensitive about a guy like Soros or a gal like Stewart.

Oh dear. My Respect For Charles meter just dropped significantly.

Indeed. Why should readers respect the posting rules when Charles abuses them?

I'm in no mood to be Googled, Edward.

From Update III: If he really wanted to expand and grow his open societies, he'd be marshaling 94.2% of said resources to the partially free and unfree nations, and send the 3.0% to the U.S.

Hogwash. If he really wanted to expand and grow open societies, he'd give money where he sees it serving that purpose, not where you see it serving that purpose. It's his money -- he doesn't have to take your opinions into consideration, especially since your opinions on where the money should go appear to be rather fickle.

Update III can basically be summarized as: "Burma and Turkmenistan were so ten minutes ago."

First thing to do is stop digging. I look forward to Update IV.

Ahem, slumgullion: posting rules, counter to my preference, don't apply to comments made about anyone who's never come by to comment. If they did, some regulars here just might have their heads explode.

I'm in no mood to be Googled, Edward.

Yeah, I hear ya. All that Googling can dehydrate a person. ;-)

I've heard that if you read the Bible diagonal-like, in Hebrew, there's very clear cautions against unauthorized Googling. Self-Googling is outright proscribed, unless it's accidental.

Accidental Self-Googlers. Next on Jerry Springer!

Rilkefan: Please, Jes, take it to the powers if you can't just walk away. Don't put me on CB's side of this.

As far as I know, Rilkefan, just as Bird Dog didn't break the posting rules by sneering at/lying about Soros and Stewart in his post, neither do I, by defending them.

Jes, even if you think CB is obviously lying, the posting rules prohibit you from giving him the lie - the correct forum for which, in my opinion, is email to the kitten.

Rilkefan: the posting rules prohibit you from giving him the lie

Do they? I went back and read them, just to be sure.

Bird Dog said stuff about George Soros and Lynne Stewart that wasn't true. Whether he knew what he was saying wasn't true when he wrote it, he knows now, having had it pointed out to him in the comments.

Neither Soros nor Stewart post/comment here, so it's not the business of the kitten that Bird Dog is telling sneering lies about them here: he was recruited to be a very, very right-wing commentator, and "the kitten" appears to be happy that with this post and with others, he's doing what he was recruited to do.

It seems to me that it would be the business of the kitten if I called Bird Dog a liar. (I have not.) It is not the business of the kitten if I point out when Bird Dog is telling lies.

If I'm wrong about this, of course, I accept correction from the kitten.

"America-hating communists such as Lynne Stewart"

any evidence that she's a communist?

regarding the New Sysiphus link, you're aware that it links to the indictment, and that a number of charges were thrown out by the judge?

defense counsel on a daily basis defend the unpopular, using the 4th, 5th and 6th amendments as their basic tools. they are america-lovers, for the most part, proud defenders of some of the most important values set forth in the bill of rights.

america-hater my a**

francis

Charles,

If he really wanted to expand and grow his open societies, he'd be marshaling 94.2% of said resources to the partially free and unfree nations, and send the 3.0% to the U.S.

What happened to the other 2.8%?

More seriously, Gromit gets it right. You don't think Soros' contributions match his rhetoric? Too bad. I'll mention it to him at lunch tomorrow. See what he says.

Further, your percentages prove nothing. There are organizations in the US that work in other countries. Just because Soros donated money to an organization headquartered here doesn' mean the money wasn't spent elsewhere. As another example, he seems to donate money for scholarships for foreign students to study in the US.

Finally, I am one of those who is sensitive about Soros. He's been the object of several right-wing smears, and I don't doubt for a second that Byron York's article is part of the same program. I wish you hadn't endorsed it.

What's particularly odd is the lack of faith in the market shown by Bird, et. al. After all, individuals spending their own money in the way they see fit is the way things work.

Right?

Bernard, I didn't forget you I just kinda wore out. I think we talking past each other anyway.

I thought things were getting really ugly here at Wings, until this post over at Tac discussing my good friend Armando who is engaged in a steel cage match over at the Kingdom of Kos.

Yikes is all I can say.

supposedly the most left person on the blog

Eddie, not even close. :)

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