My Photo

« Choices | Main | It's Jonah Goldberg Day! »

February 08, 2007

Comments

I am spartikus!

(not really -- I've just wanted to shout that for some time, and the sock-puppet comments made too good an opportunity to pass up)

But by making a stink about Leon, you try to force Brownback to embrace or disavow Leon's not-so-sane comments about abortion; defining that candidate as being "all about banning abortion" then helps to wedge the Republican field on that issue. I mean, it's not nice, but it might be effective.

Oh I agree, I'm sure there's nothing Wolf has written that will get him fired or cause a public discussion about his suitability.

Or his new employment discussed in the NYT.

And so on.

[hmm... how to say i wasn't trying to make a sarcastic about Gary's veracity or tenacity, above, but was trying to be a very supportive sick puppet?]

sock puppet.

oh boy. the after-lunch sleepies are upon me.

"The story now in the same slot is 'Beauticians Give Stroke Prevention Advice.'"

And there we have the flap assigned its relative importance to the non-blogging crowd. :)

I am spartikus!

I believe that [Eliz. Edwards] been seen to have made as many as maybe a dozen blog comments, lifetime.

Why in the world is this a point of contention?! It's like arguing with feddies (not Feddie himself) over on publius' old blog: 'Exactly what constitutes 'enthusiasm'? 13 comments? Tosh!' Whatever is the frigging difference? E. Edwards is an enthusiastic lurker, and has been since well before the '04 campaign, has commented on blogs (more than you could know for sure), and has written lots of posts on the Edwards blogs. Doesn't fulfill your personal, vague, mao-ish criterion for 'enthusiasm', Gary? WTF? who cares?

"...has commented on blogs (more than you could know for sure)...."

This is why I engaged in the esoteric, and unduly harsh, practice of asking the question, as taught to me as the proper response when challenging running dog puppets of the imperialstic blog oppressors.

"Doesn't fulfill your personal, vague, mao-ish criterion for 'enthusiasm', Gary?

That's it, exactly. Thus shall the Revolution menace the Capitalists who suck the blood of the working man! Let bloggers be armed and overthrow all Imperialists under the leadership of the revolutionary war! In this great Cultural Revolution, the phenomenon of our blogs being dominated by bourgeois intellectuals must be completely changed!

You are spot on in detecting my hidden agenda.

Or, it could be I have some interest in "facts," rather than fact-free "enthusiasm," and thus I, in communistic fashion, ask "questions." You're welcome to ask "who cares?" about "facts," of course.

But the Maoist explanation is better.

'OCSteve" is Donald Johnson exploring being more conservative. '


Dang, I'm moving up in the world, having sock puppets who are actual genuine bloggers (sort of, over at TIO). Maybe Edwards will hire me.

The tempest in the teapot seems to be over, but as an actual genuine Christian (and not, for instance, the Pope's sock puppet), I think one should make a distinction between Amanda's attack on Christian doctrines which arguably do harm (the contraception issue, where I'm on Amanda's side, as it happens, but that's irrelevant unless I am the Pope's sockpuppet) and that sleazy little joke about Mary and God's semen. She can say that kind of stuff in private if that's the sort of humor she enjoys, but in public it is a gratuitous mean-spirited slap at people's beliefs. It's similar to conservatives making bigoted comments about Islam and maybe a politician should be a little embarrassed having someone like that on staff who's said that kind of thing publicly. Not that he should fire her, but if Edwards is a Christian and expects others to believe he is one, then he's got to say that at least one of Amanda's comments was personally offensive to him. Which he did.

As for whether the right gets away with worse and so on, well, yeah, they do.

For my edification, did any mainstream American Catholic group that does not consist of the loathesome Bill Donohue and his cohorts have a single word to say about any of Amanda Marcotte's "vehement anti-Catholocism" in the last couple of days? The Conference of Catholic Bishops? Anybody at all?

I meant to say that Christians and Muslims and secular people with strong convictions on this or that should get used to the idea that their sacred beliefs are fair game for crude jokes. Can't lock people up and throw rotten foodstuffs at them anymore when they blaspheme. But politicians are rightly held to higher standards than, say, my secular friends, one of whom by sheer coincidence told almost exactly the same joke Amanda made about God's sperm just the other day. I, of course, pasted on a smile and said nothing, but was secretly thinking of Dante, who isn't in the canon, but hell, saw the place with his own eyes which has to count for something. Can't recall where sacrilegious bloggers went, but I'm sure it wasn't up there with the virtuous pagans.

Edwards doesn't have the luxury of gloating over the prospects of eternal torment for people who say things that momentarily shock or offend--he's got to distance himself from those remarks.

Marcotte's response.

McEwan's response.

We really should post a guide to all the standard sock-puppets around here, I suppose.

You definitely should. I forgot who the hell I was supposed to play today…

The Conference of Catholic Bishops? Anybody at all?

Not even a peep from the Spanish Inquisition.

Now, this is interesting: The Board of Advisers of Donahue's Catholic League:

Brent Bozell III
Gerard Bradley
Linda Chavez
Robert Destro
Dinesh D’Souza
Laura Garcia
Robert George
Mary Ann Glendon
Dolores Grier
Alan Keyes
Stephen Krason
Lawrence Kudlow
Thomas Monaghan
Michael Novak
Kate O’Beirne
Thomas Reeves
Patrick Riley
Robert Royal
Russell Shaw
William Simon, Jr.
Paul Vitz
George Weigel

Via the Slarti-endorsed blog, Sadly, No

I'm pleased with Edwards's statement, in particular in view of Donald's stance. I still would have liked a bit of a counterattack on Donohue et al. and the press generally.

Assuming, that is, that Edwards can stay in control of the story now.

I meant to say that Christians and Muslims and secular people with strong convictions on this or that should get used to the idea that their sacred beliefs are fair game for crude jokes.

In general I agree with you. In this case I found the highlighted remarks to be vile, and I am not Catholic or the least bit religious. The thing I can’t get over in this episode is how many people honestly (I assume) see nothing that wrong with these remarks.

You mentioned Muslims so let’s expand on that. What if her remarks had concerned Allah and Mohammed and a certain underage bride and had been as detailed and crass. What if it was CAIR calling for them to be canned?

Would the left have been as supportive? Would the outcome have been the same? Is this bad form for your sock puppet?

"The thing I can’t get over in this episode is how many people honestly (I assume) see nothing that wrong with these remarks."

Has there been a poll on that, or are there individual comments you have in mind, or a mass statement which people signed making such a declaration, or what? What and who are you referring to?

If Edwards had made the remarks in question, I sure wouldn't be voting for him for President.

The fact that his "campaign blogger" has such remarks in her past, however, strikes me as awfully irrelevant. If a Republican hired the mirror-universe equivalent of Amanda, I'm sure the usual suspects would try to make hay out of it - in fact, they already do. But it sure wouldn't be a reason for me to vote against that candidate. I could care less who their "campaign blogger" is.

As Rick Moran admits, this was simply an attempt by the right-wing blogosphere to score a scalp. Period.

Would the left have been as supportive?

Speaking for myself, yes.

What was your stance on the Danish Mohammed cartoons, OCSteve?

Google provided this:

OCSteve: Our society embraces free speech. If someone says something that offends your religion, deal with it. We have, for many years.

A statement which is 100% fine with me.

It's probably not fair that I posed a question to OCSteve then used Google to answer it. I apologise.

Out of curiousity, I investigated the Google footprint of "spartikus"...and it led me to a startling discovery: There are two Canadians who use "spartikus" and post occasionally on poltical forums.

But the other Spartikus is very, very different from me......

To be fair, OCSteve isn't suggesting we prosecute Marcotte or burn down Edwards campaign HQ...

Hmmm...yeah. Bad analogy.

Gary: What and who are you referring to?

The netroots Gary. Nitpick away.


spartikus: What was your stance on the Danish Mohammed cartoons, OCSteve?

A bunch of out of control (dangerous) children that needed a serious time-out.


spartikus: Google provided this:

That’s me. I use a handle of sorts, but I use it consistently and have for years.

Can we agree that “somebody”, journalist, a cartoonist, you or me, are not quite the same thing as a Presidential candidate in this day and age?

But I think you highlight what is really irking me here.

Assuming my hypothetical remark got the same coverage:

-CAIR would have had a press release out in hours calling for their firing and Edwards’ apology.
-Muslims would have protested in Detroit and Conyers would have publicly denounced the bloggers and called on Edwards to do something.
-“Prominent clerics” here and worldwide would have denounced Edwards until he complied.
-She would have been in actual physical danger.
-He would have had NO hope of being president in this day and time without throwing them under the bus and groveling a good bit.

At the very least, the very least – he would have canned them, apologized for not vetting them, and lost a half day meeting with CAIR and other representatives for some sensitivity training.

In this case he took on one whacko Catholic organization.

Bah – this is what is really at the source of my ire.

“Freedom of religion and freedom of expression are central rights, and the sum of my personal writings is a testament to this fact.”

Bah.

Lol spartikus. Did you drink any weird antidotes lately?

Thanks, Spartikus. I did wonder briefly if OCSteve's position that people shouldn't make offensive jokes about other people's religions extended to being opposed to the publication of those Danish cartoons... because I rather thought that when it came to being offensive about Islam, OCSteve had come down very heavily for the right to be rude.

I feel rather differently about people being rude about religious beliefs dominant within their own culture, to be honest, OCSteve. It's that old thing about it being funny when the students make jokes about the headmaster, but unfunny when the headmaster makes jokes about a student.

spartikus: Embrace your doppelganger! It could do you good.

spartikus: What was your stance on the Danish Mohammed cartoons, OCSteve?

A bunch of out of control (dangerous) children that needed a serious time-out.

Er . . . the cartoonists, or the rioters?

Assuming my hypothetical remark got the same coverage:

-CAIR would have had a press release out in hours calling for their firing and Edwards’ apology.
-Muslims would have protested in Detroit and Conyers would have publicly denounced the bloggers and called on Edwards to do something.
-“Prominent clerics” here and worldwide would have denounced Edwards until he complied.
-She would have been in actual physical danger.
-He would have had NO hope of being president in this day and time without throwing them under the bus and groveling a good bit.

Aside from the fact that you have no basis whatsoever for assuming these counterfactuals to be true, I think we can all agree that insulting Islam is far, far, FAR from political suicide in this country, as the *(%)$*(#@ Keith Ellison Outrage-Of-The-Day -- and all the attendant nonsense from Dennis Prager and his assorted jerkoff fellow travelers -- demonstrates quite nicely.

In this case he took on one whacko Catholic organization.

Yes, it continues to be instructive that Catholics-at-large, and all the actual Catholic organizations that are actually affiliated with the actual Church, appear not to have cared about this at all, to the extent that they even noticed it. The only group -- the ONLY ONE -- who had anything to say about it actually has NOTHING to do with the Catholic Church, and is instead a collection of far-right freakbags still fighting the Culture Wars.

Personally, I think that this quote from Donohue (found by Digby) kind of says it all:

"Just imagine if a white guy is performing oral sex on a statue of Martin Luther King with an erection. Do you need to see it to know it's ugly?"

And having listened to the interview in the YouTube spot to make sure that that was in fact what he said, I'm in a position to say: yes, he did come up with that example out of the blue, and no, there was nothing in what came before that made it less completely bizarre than it seems at first glance.

Phil: The rioters, sorry if that was not clear.

Aside from the fact that you have no basis whatsoever for assuming these counterfactuals to be true

I’m not even going to humor that with links. You aren’t serious right?


Blogs are therapeutic. Maybe like group therapy writ large. I didn’t even know what irked me so much about this. But you folks (sincerely) brought it to light.

Again, I am not religious. Poke fun at religion all you want - of any faith! That does not bother me.

But this country was founded on religious freedom – and it seems we no longer have that. Anti-Semitism or slagging Christians in the worst way is just fine, be it by bloggers, pundits, or politicians. The Religious Right? Need I say more?

One religion is strictly out of bounds for any of that though.

With all due respect to all here, I think that the discussion would have been much different and the outcome would have been much different with my hypothetical comments.

In the end, that is what irked me, though I am just realizing it now.

What I don't understand is this: why did Edwards hire Marcotte and McEwan in the first place?

Both women have achieved notable success as public commentators. In a world of a billion and one blogs, they have built solid, loyal audiences for themselves based on their writing. Which is to say, based on *what they have to say* and *how they say it*.

Their public statements are what they bring to the table.

I find Edwards statement to be churlish and clumsy. Either he was totally unfamiliar with the work and reputation of both women, Marcotte in particular, in which case he's a bungler, or he was familiar but is now playing dumb, in which case he *is* dumb, and still a bungler.

If Marcotte and McEwan were policy wonks, political organizers, public relations folks, or any of a hundred other things, it might make sense to say that, although you're "personally offended" by what they've had to say, you want to give them a "fair shake" so you're keeping them on for their professional expertise.

M&M are none of those things. They are writers. What they say, and how they say it, *is* their professional expertise. It's the source of their audience, of their credibility, and of their standing as spokespeople.

Basically, with this statement, Edwards is distancing himself as far as he possibly can from anything they've ever said, doing so in the form of giving them a public scolding, and then adding in a big assurance to the rest of us that they won't ever be saying those nasty things again.

What's the point? Why bother? Isn't what they have to say -- their point of view, the way they say it, the source of their audience and standing -- the reason they were hired?

If he can't stand behind them, he should let them go. Keeping them around with the "personally offended" line hanging over their heads is no favor to either of them.

If I were either Marcotte or McEwan, I'd have my resume on the street tomorrow. They've both been given a very public vote of no confidence. Regardless of your opinion of what they've had to say, Edwards' statement is basically a kick in the teeth to both women.

I think he's a knucklehead. Not because I agree or disagree with anything M&M have said, but because he has handled this like a stupid bungler, and has basically hung a giant albatross around the necks of not only himself, but of Marcotte and McEwan as well.

Thanks -

"The netroots Gary. Nitpick away."

As I've said many times, I'm still unable to tell who the "netroots" refers to with any useful specificity. What's the test for who is and isn't one? How many of us are or are not? Are you a "netroot," OCSteve? Am I?

Is there, like, a memo on this I've missed?

In any case, back to the immediate question: who is it, OCSteve, specifically, that are castigating for "see[ing] nothing that wrong with these remarks"?

It's generally considered a good idea to not make accusations that are (unintentionally) along the lines of "I have in my hand a list of 205 [people] who [X]."

"Out of curiousity, I investigated the Google footprint of 'spartikus'...and it led me to a startling discovery: There are two Canadians who use 'spartikus' and post occasionally on poltical forums."

I found out quite some time back that someone else was doing a blog (started years after mine) called "Amygdala." I wasn't quite sure what, if anything, to do about that, so I've wound up doing nothing. It's not as if I have a trademark on the name, after all. Though it does seem kinda rude, to me. But I'm a touch shy about going so far as to suggest this to the person. Suggestions welcome.

"Can we agree that 'somebody', journalist, a cartoonist, you or me, are not quite the same thing as a Presidential candidate in this day and age?"

I think so, so long as we include "blogger" in there.

"In this case he took on one whacko Catholic organization."

Assuming I understand what you're saying -- and I'm not sure I do -- then it's worth pointing out that the current situation of Catholics, and Muslims, in our society, is, you know, different.

Just as, say, the situation of Jews is different from that of Episcopalians, and that of Mormons different from that of Episcopalians.

It turns out that these differing situations mean that these different religious groups can't be plugged into different hypotheticals without them often concluding with different end results. True?

"I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." --Presidential candidate George H.W. Bush, August 27, 1987.

I guess it's quotes like this one that keep my heart from bleeding for the poor, pearl-clutching Catholics like Bill Donahue, just because someone's "campaign blogger" once said some offensive stuff.

John Cole points us in the direction of a blogger named Kung Fu Monkey for an anti-Donahue rant that makes me want of give up ranting, because others do it so much better.

Edwards should hire Kung Fu Monkey immediately and put him to work mining the harbor against the Republican swift-boaters.

I think it nice of Edwards to hire, and now keep, a couple of smart-alecky bloggers for paying jobs.

What does it say about Michelle Malkin that no Republican candidate would dare hire her in a campaign, but she is happy to volunteer her brand of heathers-trash for them anyway?

"But this country was founded on religious freedom – and it seems we no longer have that. Anti-Semitism or slagging Christians in the worst way is just fine, be it by bloggers, pundits, or politicians. The Religious Right? Need I say more?"

Probably, since with respect, OCSteve, this is a completely incoherent paragraph, and I have no idea what you're trying to say in it. That could just be me, though.

How does the existence of anti-Semitism in America mean that there's no religious freedom? What?

And do you have any familiarity with the things the various Christian sects said about each other, both in this country, and prior to moving here, in the 17th and 18th century? When was it, exactly, that we had "religious freedom," which prevented "slagging Christians in the worst way"? What?

"One religion is strictly out of bounds for any of that though."

I'm quite sure you don't realize it, but this is a line of argument historically -- and contemporarily -- used against complaints about anti-Semitism, as well.

In any case, slagging of Muslims and Islam is hardly "strictly out of bounds" in America, and you must be aware of that, if you pause and consider the question.

"I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." --Presidential candidate George H.W. Bush, August 27, 1987.
This is a quote that's never been authenticated.

Also: William A. Donohue, not "Donahue."

The Washington Monthly had a bit about that quote, and some more info

I’m not even going to humor that with links. You aren’t serious right?

Well, yes, I am. The fact that Situation X involving Group A had Result 1 does not mean that Situation X' involving Group A will also have Result 1. Not everyone who has ever said something bad about Muslims has ended up like Theo Van Gogh. In fact, he's an outlier, not an example.

One religion is strictly out of bounds for any of that though.

This is, with all due respect, complete nonsense, and you know it is. If you really don't understand why, perhaps you can explain to me how Virgil Goode was hounded from office this year and everyone, including Goode, seems to have missed it.

And if you think that I would have stuck up for Islam and indulged in all the other hypotheticals you seem so convinced of, you don't know me very well. You want to slam on Islam? Slam away. I'll slam right with you. I find it at least as stupid as any other theistic religion or supernatural balderdash.

And with swill like this airing on Our Liberal Media, we hardly need the unauthenticated GHWB quote to be informed about how atheists are viewed in this country.

Gary: As I've said many times, I'm still unable to tell who the "netroots" refers to with any useful specificity.

Making it up here, though I know you know perfectly well what I mean:

Merriam Webster 2008

Netroots:
Bloggers on the left side of the political spectrum with large audiences, and the readers who make up those audiences. Democrats, but generally of the more liberal type. Prone to activism. These influential bloggers are able to rally thousands of people who will take the time to write letters, send faxes and emails, and even visit Congressional offices in person. When multiple popular bloggers coordinate their activities their impact increases. Though small in number in terms of overall population, their impact can be disproportionate due to their coordination and willingness to be active in grassroots politics.

It currently remains to be seen whether they will be a help or a hindrance to the existence of the Democratic Party. Democrats like their money raising capabilities, but for the most part their demands are out of the mainstream. They have a disproportionate impact in primaries, but successes there lead to defeats in general elections.


Making it up, but if the official definition is anywhere close I want royalties.

You knew what I meant. It's knitpicking.

Time to sign off apparently. I’ll assume it is me getting grumpy and bid you all goodnight.

There is a long history of anti-Catholic bigotry in the United States, but the Klan and the Know-Nothings aren't running too rampant, at present, and Catholics are actually known to hold high office with little controversy nowadays.

There is a long history of anti-Jewish bigotry in this country, but I wouldn't say that this makes the position of Jews any more the same as that of Protestant Christians than is the position of Catholics identical to that of Protestants.

Right now, Muslims face this.

Feb. 8, 2007 — The roughly 4,000 Muslims currently serving in the armed forces put their lives on the line for their country, but their fellow Americans often call them the enemy.

It plays out from Baghdad to London to the Pentagon, where a chapel was built on the very spot where on Sept. 11, 2001, a plane piloted by terrorists crashed into the building.

Five years later, American Muslims still deal with the repercussions of that attack.

"My tires have [had] nails five or six times, my vehicle got scratched several times. I moved from my location three times," said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Hesham Islam.

He's a high-ranking Pentagon official who emigrated from Egypt and has had to alter his telephone habits because of the backlash.

"Since 9/11, I no longer have a land line," Islam said. "I only work with my cell phone, because I got a lot of hate messages on the phone," he said.

According to a recent ABC News poll, 46 percent of Americans expressed an unfavorable opinion of Islam.

"You get the name calling or the disassociations — are you part of al Qaeda? Do you believe in what they're doing? Are you a terrorist?" said Marine Gunnery Sgt. Kenetta Hamilton.

Hamilton said she's also been called "towel head" or "raghead.

"It has been difficult lately because of everything that's been going on with the war," Hamilton said.

Trying to claim that these three groups -- or any other religious group -- are in identical and interchangeable positions in the United States as regards acceptance and lack of discrimination, would have to be either fuzzy-headed, ignorant, or deliberately deceptive.

I don't think OCSteve is either of the last two, but we all have fuzzy moments in passing, at times.

This is a quote that's never been authenticated.

I think you mean it hasn't been "corroborated." The reporter who asked the question has verified the quote, which is good enough authentication for any court of law.

Are you aware of anyone who was present for the press conference in question - including GHWB himself - who has DENIED the accuracy of the quote?

"Making it up here, though I know you know perfectly well what I mean"

No, I don't. I really really don't. I don't know which people anyone is referring to when anyone refers to "the netroots." I've been saying this for quite some time now, though you may be the first person not on the left side of things I'm mentioning it to yet again.

I'm quite clear, though, that a term that purports to label a specific set of people, yet can't actually be used in any way to determine who is and who is not in that set, is of extremely limited, if not non-existent, use.

"It's knitpicking."

I think one needs yarn for that. Meanwhile, I'm making a substantive point, and it's the same one I've always made about "netroots." When someone finally explains to me how I can tell who is and who isn't one, I'll stop asking.

I'd really like to find out if I'm one, or not, for instance. Can you be one and not read Daily Kos, for instance? How about if you don't regularly read DK, Atrios, or MyDD?

Is Hilzoy a "netroot"? Is Katherine? Publius? Kevin Drum? Who here is one, and who here isn't?

This isn't nit-picking, and it isn't rhetorical: I don't know who is and isn't a netroot. I have no idea.

"The reporter who asked the question has verified the quote, which is good enough authentication for any court of law."

If you're referring to Rob Sherman, he's not a reporter, and he didn't verify the quote. Aside from that, you're right.

Were you referring to someone else, and if so, who?

Rob Sherman.

Rob Sherman:

I attended the news conference as a fully credentialed reporter with clearance from the Secret Service to be there. I was the Midwest Bureau Chief of American Atheist Press, reporting for the American Atheist Magazine.

As for your claim that he hasn't verified the quote, just click the link. Again, he would be competent to authenticate the quote, which has apparently never been denied by anyone else with firsthand knowledge, in any court of law.

"Are you aware of anyone who was present for the press conference in question - including GHWB himself - who has DENIED the accuracy of the quote?"

I, myself, had a personal interview with George W. Bush, in which he admitted to me that he was a Red Lectroid, here from the Eight dimension. Do you know anyone who has DENIED the accuracy of the quote?

I'll take that as a "no," then. Which makes it odd that you're fighting so hard to make the point that this quote, like many other quotes since the dawning of Time, was never captured on audiotape or otherwise corroborated.

"I was the Midwest Bureau Chief of American Atheist Press, reporting for the American Atheist Magazine."

Yes, that certainly gives him credibility as an objective reporter. Obviously. Quite the prestigious journalistic credentials you're citing there. Very impressive.

Conveniently, he'll also delivery packages for you, and he's a travel agent. It's the usual deal with journalists.

"As for your claim that he hasn't verified the quote, just click the link."

I read it when Kevin first posted it, and have reread it many times since. What you're claiming is "authentication" that he heard this from G. H. W. Bush is that he says he heard it. And he has a letter from Boyden Gray which says nothing about it, but which he insists is relevant, even though it plainly doesn't say what he claims it says.

If you regard that as credible, well, that's nice.

Do you have any funds you'd be interested in investing in real estate? I have certain properties in NYC that are available that you might find highly attractive, and which I assure you you'll be able to quickly sell for a profit, once you purchase them from me, after I've "authenticated" my ownership for you.

I, myself, had a personal interview with George W. Bush, in which he admitted to me that he was a Red Lectroid, here from the Eight dimension. Do you know anyone who has DENIED the accuracy of the quote?

Let's see if we can identify just some of the reasons why this snark is a really, really poor substitute for an argument.

1) The quote in question is neither obviously genuine or falsified; it could be either. Contrasting it to an obviously false claim is neither here nor there.

2) The quote in question was not made at a "personal interview," but at a press conference with dozens of reporters in attendance. If one desired to fabricate a quote from a presidential candidate, it is unlikely one would claim that he made it in front of dozens of witnesses, where any one of them could come forward to challenge the account. Yet none of them have.

3) When you write to someone demanding that they explain a quote, and their lawyer writes back yet doesn't deny the authenticity of the quote, that's evidence that the quote was accurate, no matter how much you want to pretend otherwise.

I also note Gary's disingenuousness in first trying to score a point by claiming Sherman was not a reporter, and then when I pointed out that he was at the press conference as a fully credentialed reporter, responded not by admitting he was wrong but by arguing that well, he didn't have "prestigious journalistic credentials."

I certainly would not stake my life on the accuracy of this quote, but unlike Gary, I see no evidence at all to call its accuracy into particular question. Gary, as an experiment, I suggest you write President Bush and ask him to explain his statement that he was "a Red Lectroid from the Eighth Dimension." I very much doubt the response will be a polite letter that omits to mention that he, in fact, never said any such thing. But if you do get such a response, I will concede the point.

I suggest you write President Bush and ask him to explain his statement that he was "a Red Lectroid from the Eighth Dimension."

Better yet, do us all a favour and inform the Black Lectroids of the President's true identity.

I note that Sherman's link also contains an interesting FOIA response (pdf link) which includes quite a bit of back-and-forth correspondence between the Bush White House and angry atheists. Not once does the White House attempt to defuse the controversy by saying "You know, the President actually never said those things you're attributing to him." In fact, the letters went so far as to reaffirm that Bush was a "religious man" who did not "support atheism."

Included in the FOIA response is a 6/1/89 memo to White House Counsel C. Boyden Grey from Associate Counsel Nelson Lund, who wrote:

Because I do not believe that we can defend the remarks allegedly made during the campaign, and because I assume that you would not recommend that the President issue an apology, I think the best course is to ignore this follow-up correspondence: continuing to exchange letters would only make it increasingly obvious that we are refusing to address the issue he is raising.

That's a mighty odd thing to say if Bush never uttered the quote in question. Why wouldn't they say "let's write these people back, and explain that the President never said any such thing"? Like I said, mighty odd.

"Yet none of them have."

That would be because it's incredibly obscure, as is Rob Sherman.

I'm not saying that George H. W. Bush didn't say the alleged words, let alone that he couldn't have. I'm just saying that it's a case of one lone person saying he heard something -- which coincidentally happens to be the one thing that would support his cause, atheism (and I'm an atheist, by the way, not that that's remotely relevant) -- which is sufficiently controversial that almost every journalist there would have reported, if the President of the United States had said it.

I look at that, and consider the word of the lone activist to be utterly insufficient as anything other than one biased guy's word. You look at it, and apparently consider it proof, absent proof that it isn't true.

We'll have to agree to disagree on what constitutes credibility, and credible evidence, of anything.

I also note Gary's disingenuousness in first trying to score a point by claiming Sherman was not a reporter, and then when I pointed out that he was at the press conference as a fully credentialed reporter, responded not by admitting he was wrong but by arguing that well, he didn't have "prestigious journalistic credentials."
I, myself, am the Midwest Bureau Chief of the Amygdala News Service.

We'll also have to agree to disagree with whether making up your own title, at an advocacy organization, constitutes being a credible "journalist," as distinct from a citizen with an opinion about atheism, as well as whether that's "good enough authentication for any court of law" (whatever that means -- are you trying to argue that there are laws which say that if a "journalist" testifies in court, what they say must be true?).

"Not once does the White House attempt to defuse the controversy by saying 'You know, the President actually never said those things you're attributing to him.'"

That's probably because C. Boyden Gray wasn't there, and he's not stupid enough to be bothering the President of the United States to ask him what he happened to say. Duh.

The packet starts with the statement that it contains "documents related to comments about atheists supposedly made by Vice -President Bush. I wonder how that word crept in there?

Just an accident, with no meaning, I guess.

What's so amusing about all this, is that you are displaying all the signs of believing -- on faith -- that Bush 41 must have said these things -- despite a lack of what is commonly considered to be anything resembling "proof" -- and you are insisting that This Truth should be accepted unless it's proven untrue.

Hilarious, really. Personally, I'm agnostic about this in the sense of believing that it could be true that Bush said the alleged statement, but atheistic in that I'm not inclined to believe it absent something vaguely resembling proof.

But, you know, believe what you like. Have whatever constitutes a standard of proof as regards what's a fact, and what isn't, that you like. I'm quite okay with that.

I never said that I believe the quote to be true with a certainty - in fact, I expressly said the opposite. What I did say, and which you seem to have nothing other than rhetorical derision to counter, is that there is no good reason to doubt the provenance of this quote.

When you say these remarks would be "sufficiently controversial that every journalist there would have reported them," I think you display a certain amount of cluelessness as to the mainstream view of atheism in this country.

But let's assume you're right. Let's postulate an example that would be clearly offensive - say, for example, someone claims that they asked President Bush about his views on Jews, and he responded that Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.

Now, if the White House were to get a bunch of angry letters based on this report, demanding an apology for the President's offensive comments, what do you think the response would be? Do you really think they would take no position on whether he actually said that? Do you think they would write back to note that the President does, in fact, disagree with the religious views of Jews and feels no obligation to support them? Is that the likely reaction, if a bunch of cranks start writing the White House claiming the President said something that he didn't?

I really can't get over your belief that negative remarks about atheists are something that would be widely reported in the press in this country and would be considered highly controversial. That just strikes me as highly at odds with reality.

Is Hilzoy a "netroot"? Is Katherine? Publius? Kevin Drum? Who here is one, and who here isn't?
I'm not saying you're nitpicking, but I don't understand why you view "netroots" as somehow different from other terms. Who's part of the grassroots? Who's an activist? Who's a liberal? Do you expect a list?

The netroots are people online (bloggers and active commenters) who are involved in electoral politics but not an official part of campaigns. I don't think any of the people you mention are focused enough on elections to be part of the netroots, but maybe I'm wrong. Archetypical netroots blogs are Daily Kos, MyDD, and Swing State Project. There may be a netroots on the right as well, but that's not talked about so much.

As with many definitions, there's not a bright line between netroots and not-netroots, but that doesn't mean the netroots don't exist, any more than it means there's no such thing as day.

That said, it's not at all nitpicking for you not to accept "the netroots" as an answer from OCSteve to your question about who, specifically, saw nothing wrong with Marcotte's remarks. "The netroots" is not a specific answer,

Via Atrios, Donohue's comments on Mel Gibson, including his views on apologies, which are apparently no longer operative:

The Catholic League has never failed to accept the apology of anyone who has offended us. And this includes recidivists, the repeat offenders. When asked by reporters why we do so, I simply say "we have no other choice." In other words, because Catholicism puts a premium on forgiveness, we must accept any apology that appears to be sincere. It's too bad the rest of the nation isn't more Catholic.

'That said, it's not at all nitpicking for you not to accept "the netroots" as an answer from OCSteve to your question about who, specifically, saw nothing wrong with Marcotte's remarks. "The netroots" is not a specific answer'

I think most of us have a good idea what the netroots are, making the answer plenty specific for a friendly conversation. It's even true.

Everyone has said lots of great things but I'd like to point out something no one has mentioned and that is that personifying and embodying god and his "white hot sticky sperm" or whatever is not at all irreligious and certainly not anti-catholic. In fact the debate about the physicality or otherwise of god, and mary's specific experience of it, has roiled the church and its followers for many years. Try reading some Teresa of Avila why don't you.

Its not at all disrespectful of religion to find some aspects of a particular religion illogical or distasteful and virgin birth has long been the focus of interior as well as exterior critique--in fact Donohue himself apparently referred to it mockingly in *defending a republican pervert fired for having sex with a drunken student*. Amanda happens to be an atheist and, if I recall correctly the founder of the religion of the "mouse and the discoball" but her comments don't prove that she is not *also catholic* in any meaningful sense.

I'm sick and tired of having a prosletizing, converting, politicized religion tell the rest of us what we can and can not comment on. If they want to make their religion beyond comment they should stop stuffing it down our throats. Or stop believing patently absurd things and making them the basis of public policy.

aimai

Yeah, some of the medieval mystics had some rather sexual visions involving Jesus that would shock many Christians today. Probably including me.

Amanda, though, probably meant her comment to be an insult and it was the kind of insult that is going to hit people maybe she didn't mean to hit, if she thought about it at all. Or maybe she did mean to insult all sorts of Christians indiscriminately.

I should add, on behalf of the Christians that I've known who really live up to the label, that their reaction to such comments would probably be sadness rather than anger. But those of us who are less mature are more likely to react with varying degrees of irritation. Since there are plenty of Christians who advocate stupid or even arguably evil policies based on their faith, while many other Christians strongly disagree with them, I think it makes more sense to save the semen jokes for private occasions with like-minded friends, or perhaps trot them out in classes on medieval mysticism.

But what I think happens is that people think that because they're right, they can be as offensive as they want to be and anyway, it's those bad other people that started it. It's a common stance on all parts of the political spectrum and I've felt that way myself.

Time to prognosticate a bit: I predict that a year from now, the Edwards campaign blog will have a year's worth of history of being well-written, informative, often funny, occasionally smarky, and never giving the sort of offense that Amanda has in her personal writings. It'll nonetheless be hated by people ascribing to it qualities it never had.

That seems to me the reasonable guess based on the talent of the women writing it plus a touch of campaign oversight.

Donald, there is the additional point which hasn't been made at all, so far: in the original post, those two lines about semen/the Holy Ghost were not part of the body of the post, but a caption (smaller print, italicized) tagged on to an image at the start of the post: many people who read the post originally (me included) probably slid right over the caption and into the meat of the post, part II of a discussion about the way at least some Catholic churches in the US are handling the standard sex-ed talk a priest is supposed to give a couple who intend to get married in a Catholic church. In short, in the context in which it was originally meant to be read, it was plainly and obviously a quick quip, not intended to be dwelt on - as other Catholics have pointed out since, it was in its way a very theologically proper joke (Catholics do argue how the Annunciation actually worked), and plainly based on the kind of comments anti-feminists have made themselves, asserting that God's plans to create a specific human being to solve a problem are easily and irreversibly frustrated by women being able to abort.

With the advent of the Internet, I've seen articles and captions that are, in the paper version of a newspaper, buried in one of the non-serious sections, suddenly given prominance that, pre-Internet, no one could ever have expected them to get.

And I've also seen (and this is, after all, what happened here) political opponents rip one line out of context and publicise it as widely as possible with the worst possible interpretation.

KCinDC, thanks for the good answer to the question of 'what are the netroots?' [I've tried and failed previously to answer Gary's question.]

people online (bloggers and active commenters) who are involved in electoral politics but not an official part of campaigns. ... Archetypical netroots blogs are Daily Kos, MyDD, and Swing State Project. There may be a netroots on the
right as well, but that's not talked about so much.

The defining factor, as KC says, is involvement in electoral politics.

I'm tempted to broaden the term to include bloggers and online entities (like MoveOn) involved in mobilizing activists for issue advocacy -- antiwar, labor support, media response or reform, human rights, fighting Social Security privatization, etc. But maybe another term would be best for that, to preserve the electoral connotation of 'netroots'.

Hilzoy's a good illustration of an outer edge of the phenomenon. Most of the time, she's not part of the netroots; she doesn't blog primarily or even very much about campaigns and candidates. But she has, at the height of an election season, announced and encouraged support of particular candidates -- influencing contributions and votes in the process.

And she's also played, with Katherine, a vital role in the non-electoral sort of online activism: alerting readers to and helping them understand legislative and other developments surrounding the treatment of people detained by the U.S. Their November 2005 series on the habeas-stripping amendments to the McCain-Warner anti-torture bill is the archetype, but not the only example.

There are rough analogues on the right to DailyKos, MyDD, and even closer counterparts to the state- and local-level election-focused blogs. But most of those don't apply the term 'netroots' to themselves, no matter how well they fit KCinDC's definition. That's because the defining early netroots phenomena -- MoveOn's antiwar and media work and DailyKos' explosion of support for the Dean campaign -- were on the liberal Democratic side, which led influential rightist bloggers to seize on the term 'nutroots' to refer to them.

As a result, they were at something of a loss for a term to characterize the inevitable online activism, electoral and issue-based, that developed on the right. Or maybe there is one and I just don't know it; I leave most 'know your opposition' activity to others.

In fact the debate about the physicality or otherwise of god, and mary's specific experience of it, has roiled the church and its followers for many years. Try reading some Teresa of Avila why don't you.

Or Arius of Alexandria...

I see some similarities between the anti-Muslim right and the anti-Christian left. The false idea that all Christians favor "theocracy" parallels the false idea that all Muslims support terrorism, or that Islam is an inherently violent religion. In reality, only tiny but visible minorities within each religion embrace the views being attributed to the whole faith.

The other parallel is the idea that Americans/Democrats don't need to avoid offending Muslims/Christians or treat them with respect because "they all hate us anyway", often accompanied by the idea that if there are any good Muslims/Christians they're not doing anything to oppose the bad ones.

There are of course differences as well. The anti-Muslim faction is a much larger and more powerful part of the right wing, and it includes actual politicians. Also, the proportion of Christians who are working to impose their views on others is larger than the proportion of Muslims (especially American Muslims) supporting terrorism. That may make the anti-Christian left less important and more understandable than the anti-Muslim right, but it doesn't make it any less wrong.

Probably will never say this again, but woo-hoo, Beinart.

The comments to this entry are closed.