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 Monday, 24 January 2005
Monday, 24 January 2005 12:28:46 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) ( )

There's a mounting outcry about the way money funneled into 527 organizations during the recent election. An example is here at the Star Tribune.

The underlying theme of the article and much of the outcry is that there should be less money in politics. That may or may not be true.

The real goal should be to ensure that the common citizen has a voice at least equal to the voices of corporate America. Since a “voice” requires money to exist (to buy air time, publicity and so forth), the real goal should be to ensure that money from a common citizen has the weight of money from a corporation.

To a large degree I think the 527’s did this. Look at all the random crap on MoveOn.org or from comparable right-wing organizations. Much of that content was generated by “normal people” rather than massive commercial interests. (I put the quotes there, because normal people don’t seem to care at all about politics – so nothing here is really normal)

But even if 527’s didn’t help give common people a voice, the continuing attempts to remove money from politics are silly.

The amount of money doesn’t matter. What matters is whether my contribution of $10 or $100 can somehow be used to combat the ideas I oppose and support the ideas with which I agree.

Whatever system we have or come up with in the future must address this fundamental requirement that a common person’s contribution should make an impact.

527’s, at least to some degree, allow this to happen. Common people pooled their money into various 527’s and had a voice. And that is only good!

Comments [22] | | # 
Monday, 24 January 2005 13:50:35 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
I think it's silly to complain about the $$$ involved in the 527 organizations...when what we should be concerned about is the veracity of the messages they give out. I think my political money in the future will go to FactCheck.org.
kemaris
Monday, 24 January 2005 23:23:20 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
I think you might have a small flaw in your logic. Saying that there shouldn’t be restrictions on money given to politicians and then saying that you want the common man to have more of a voice are goals in opposition to each other. By definition, the common man does not have massive amounts of wealth to sway opinion. 527’s simply provided a loophole around new restrictions on political donations. However, those donations were obviously possible prior to 527s.

Without controls, the wealthy will decide the elections. In short, the common man will have less of a voice that he does now. I think it is accurate to say that Internet access combined with a philosophically divided citizenry made a big difference in this last election. But allowing unlimited donations means that politicians will be bought. Of course, as I say that I fully realize that one could easily argue that has happened for some time.
Thomas
Tuesday, 25 January 2005 07:48:12 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
There's no doubt that the wealthy buy politicians, and have for as long as anyone can remember. 527's made it harder, by restricting direct donations and forcing money to route to indirect support mechanisms like the Swift Boat veterans. While those indirect mechanisms were sometimes bought by the wealthy, it is worth noting that _some_ of them were primarily funded by like-minded common people.

Compared to previous elections it was my impression that the common person had a larger voice this time. Not nearly as large a voice as they should have, and as Kemaris pointed out, not a very _accurate_ voice.

Which was kind of my point. Reform is likely still required, but the _goal_ of the reform should be to increase the voice of the common person, not merely to restrict money for the sake of restricting money.
Tuesday, 25 January 2005 09:46:42 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Thomas, how to you take Illiante's statement "that may or may not be true" and transmute it into "I think there should be unlimited campaign contributions?"

Questioning the assumption that limiting campaign donations to "independant" 527s will increase the voice of the common man is NOT the same as saying that unlimited donations will increase the voice of the common man.

"logic"...you keep using that word...I do not think it means what you think it means...

While the common man doesn't have a lot of money to contribute to political causes, 527 organizations help out by allowing scores of "common men" to pool their resources and talk about the things that are important to them...in focused, specific ways.

True, the rich can also flood 527's with money...but at the rate that 527's are proliferating (with the appearance of becoming as various as the opinions of the populace)...this will be more and more difficult for them to hijack the issues isolated as being of interest to the "common man".

It seems more likely that they would return to the more efficient prospect of simply contributing the maximum amount directly to all the candidates, and hoping that is enough to buy influence.

527's are made to influence the voters, political contributions are to influence politicians. While it may be useful for the rich to buy influence...ultimatly, at least every two years, it is the votes that count...and having 527 groups put their issues out there is one way of increasing the voice of theaverage American...provided the 527's are actually required to be "independant" (not tied to political parties) , and truthful (they must be held accountable to verify and defend their "facts").



kemaris
Tuesday, 25 January 2005 12:41:50 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Yep. 527s are an attempt to level the playing field. And not a bad attempt at all, actually.

Illiante's points are well taken: A disturbing number of people aren't interested in politics, 527s aim to get at least some of those people riled up (and largely succeed), and if enough citizens get their own financial and moral clout behind their candidates they can at the very least make things more difficult for the corporatists, and maybe tip the balance away from them. Success is hardly guaranteed, but it's very impressive that people are trying harder than ever before.

If we removed money from politics, money would cease to be an issue - in much the same way that if we removed oxygen from our atmosphere, iron and steel would cease to rust. A nice thought - but wildly unrealistic, and brings its own set of issues.
Wednesday, 26 January 2005 11:32:40 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Kemaris wins the obligatory "Princess Bride" quote aqward for the day.
The Evil Cub
Wednesday, 26 January 2005 20:45:47 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Kermaris,

You make it sound like I pulled that conclusion from thin air. Did you not read:

(from original post)
"...the continuing attempts to remove money from politics are silly."

or

(from original post. statement in square brackets is assumed by me)
"The amount of money [contributed to politics] doesn’t matter. ..."

You can't see how anyone would conclude that this implies that there should not be limits on money given to politicians? I understand that Rocky is implying that the limits we have are probably sufficent, but I'm not sure there really are any limits. Of course, I'm not sure there *were* any limits to begin with. There are too many loopholes.


"logic"...you keep using that word...I do not think it means what you think it means...

Of that I have no doubt. ;->


"Which was kind of my point. Reform is likely still required, but the _goal_ of the reform should be to increase the voice of the common person, not merely to restrict money for the sake of restricting money."

I think everyone would agree with that sentiment. As always, the tougher question is how to go about achieving that goal.

I guess the idealist in me grates against the idea that "more money" is almost directly correlated to "more victories" at the booth. That generally implies that those with more money have more influence and likewise, those with less money have less influence. Seems less like a democracy/republic and more like an old boy network.
Wednesday, 26 January 2005 21:57:56 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Thomas,

I did see the lines you quote...but still do not understand how they can possibly be construed to support unlimited campaign contributions...especially since the focus of the entry was 527 organizations, which are specifically meant to NOT be campaign engines, but are rather meant to be voter and issue advocacy organizations.

The statement that continuing to eliminate money from politics does not mean, by necessity, that there should be UNLIMITED money in politics. It simply means that it (removing money form politics) is silly. As in, unrealistic, and likely to do more harm than good.

As for the other statement...this is the way I read it, given it's context in the entry "The amount of money [given to a 527 org. by an individual] doesn't matter..."

BTW, I'm glad you go the joke with the Princess Bride referance. As Rocky pointed out to me, it sounds kind of harsh without the smiley emotocon, which should have followed it...

To your last point, while it is true that those with more money can buy more "cash-and-carry influence"...the fact remains that with 527's the populace stands a half a chance at marshalling the powers of combined wealth and combined numbers, which together would trump the wealthy...both by giving them a voice to tell the candidates what they want from their representatives, and generating the public sentiment to back up those candidates with the votes they need to get and stay elected.

If the 99% of the population who cannot buy their own Senator or Lobbiest or president can combine their much smaller wealth and much greater numbers, they could not be stopped by the 1%...no matter how much money they have...but 527's need money to do this, and I think that efforts to stop them or curtail them are efforts to stop this happening...because while a few 527's were very useful to each of the candidates, there will soon be many that simply cannot be controlled and cannot be counted on to fall in with the party line...and that would be a disaster for the major parties.
kemaris
Thursday, 27 January 2005 09:07:04 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
I see the problem. Thinking that 527s are supposed to be “voter and issue advocacy organizations” is utterly naïve. They are loopholes specifically designed to circumvent the new campaign finance reforms. The reality is that contributing to a 527 *is* essentially a campaign contribution. I see them as one in the same and I assumed everyone else did as well. In that light, allowing unlimited money to flow to a 527 *is* allowing for an unlimited amount of money to flow to a campaign.

Part of the problem here, is that I always consider the consequences of the situation or more specifically how people will abuse the system. In this case, the most obvious example is for a politician to control even one 527. That one 527 can then funnel unlimited money into the politician’s campaign fully above board. To say that MoveOn.org was an advocacy group for example, and not a thinly veiled money channel for the Democrats is blind.

I suppose that 527s keep the sheep happy. A combined squeak is better than no squeak at all.
Thursday, 27 January 2005 16:38:09 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
>To say that MoveOn.org was an advocacy group for example, and not a thinly veiled money channel for the Democrats is blind.

“Blind”? What an interesting way to characterize that.

Of course, the above charge has been oft repeated by partisan Republican hacks, therefore it MUST be true, I suppose…

But there is an assumption implicit in that statement. An assumption that millions and millions of people would not become outraged by the treasonous and criminal behavior of an increasingly large and powerful oligarchy on their own. That people would not decide that such things should be opposed unless they were told to do so. That they would not think to create organizations to best deploy such resources as they have in their causes. And that without Democratic propaganda to influence them, everyone would just shut up and realize that the President should not be questioned regarding claims about WMD’s (or anything else), that failure to find WMD’s is irrelevant, that “intelligent design” should be promoted as science, that gays seeking to get married constitutes a threat to everyone else, and that it isn’t torture if Alberto Gonzalez says it isn’t. That these things are all facts, and that to think otherwise is “blind.”

Perhaps that is not what you meant. Perhaps.



>I suppose that 527s keep the sheep happy.

There are a great many sheep in the world. Many of whom build up their fragile egos by hurling smug derision against anyone who refuses to see everything about the world the same way they do.

There are also wolves. And many of them try to pretend to be sheep, the better to infiltrate the herd.

And, unfortunately, a great many people firmly believe that ‘sheep’ and ‘wolf’ are the only options they have to define who they can be. Or who anyone else can possibly be. Those who are able to recognize and choose other options look upon these unfortunates with a mixture of annoyance and pity.
Thursday, 27 January 2005 17:23:59 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Thomas,
I would be interested to see any proof that you have of money or directives being exchanged between a 527 organization, and any campaign comittee, candidate, or party...because that is illegal, and if it could be proved, people would be in a lot of trouble.

And of course, the League of Women Voters, the Sierra Club, and Clean Water Action might want to have a word with you about calling their advocacy of voters and the environment nothing but a political campaign in the service of a particular party or candidate. To be sure, they publicise the records of candidates on certain issues...but they do so in the service of their issue...not in service of the candidate. The League of Women Voters, in particular, gives equal opportunity to all candidates who wish to fill out the little form.

As I stated earlier, we should be wary against 527's actually functioning as arms and legs of a candidate or party, and to assume that it could never happen would, indeed be naive. In fact, there is certainly the appearance of impropriety with regard to a couple of these organizations (on both sides) and that should be investigated...but to state as a fact that it is the intended design of the 527 organization, and that they all function as such, and that such activity is the defacto standard for all such organizations is paranoid.

So, you always look at how a system can be abused. Here's the lowdown then: every system can be abused if it's integrity is not maintained both internally and externally. This is why we need an independant, viggerous press...this is why we need an alert and motivated populace (contributed for the last election, in part, by 527 organizations)...this is why we need, as I said before, to pay attention and make sure that the 527's remain independant and that they are required to support their facts and tell the truth.

If you reject a system simply because it could be abused, and then accept as a founding priciple of your logic that the worst imaginable abuses will be allowed to flourish unchecked...then your only choice is to either drink the Kool-aid, or grab your sniper rifle and find a clock tower...because you will never create a system that cannot be gamed...even if you DO strip the common man of their right to freedom of speech and assembly...which the 527 "loophole" was created to preserve.
kemaris
Thursday, 27 January 2005 18:53:41 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Damn.

Brilliantly said, Kemaris! Mirabile visu!
Thursday, 27 January 2005 20:57:23 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Well, let's see here is a site that breaks down the 527 and provides detailed information: http://www.opensecrets.org/527s/

http://www.opensecrets.org/527s/527cmtes.asp?level=C&cycle=2004
"527 groups are tax-exempt organizations that engage in political activities, often through unlimited soft money contributions."

http://www.opensecrets.org/527s/527events.asp?orgid=41
Here they list the various adds taken out by MoveOn.org. You will note that every ad criticizes Bush.

I stand by what I said. 527s, on both sides of the ailse, are thinly veiled money (and propaganda) machines for the parties. MoveOn.org was simply an example. I have no doubt that there are similar ones on the Republican side (Swift Boats comes to mind).

The Sierra Club, League of Women Voters and Clear Water Action are fine organizations that were around much longer than the 527 loophole. These organizations were not created for the express purpose of politics, although sometimes I wonder about the Sierra Club. As an aside, I used to be a Sierra Club member. I just wish they would get out of politics and return to focusing on conservation but that's another story.

I completely agree that having an active electorate is the best defense against abuse. Along those lines, we should be ever vigilant of designing systems that are easily abused. I think the jury is still out on 527s in this department. Presumably, with the previous "limits" on contributions, we were led to believe that allowing unlimited contributions is bad. The 527's are something of an experiment that defies that logic.


"If you reject a system simply because it could be abused, and then accept as a founding priciple of your logic that the worst imaginable abuses will be allowed to flourish unchecked....then your only choice is to either drink the Kool-aid, or grab your sniper rifle and find a clock tower...because you will never create a system that cannot be gamed."

A better, non-fatalistic, approach is to go into the design of a system or law with the assumption that people will try to abuse it. Our government happens to be an example. The Founding Fathers designed the system with the assumption that government would eventually become corrupt. The idea behind checks and balances is to pit those corrupt interests against each other. In that vein and on the surface, the 527's do accomplish that goal. Although, one could argue that removing all limits on contributions, direct or indirect, does the same.

What worries me about the 527s is that they smell like a lobby. The bigger ones can easily hold that kind of sway of a candidate (again, on either side). I'm not sure we can predict what kind of pressure these organizations with hundreds of millions of dollars in assets will exert.
Thursday, 27 January 2005 21:40:10 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Suggesting that MoveOn.org is in the pocket of the Democratic party because the organization is pure anti-Bush doesn't follow. That is correlation, not causation.

There are many organizations (not to mention roughly 49% of the US population) who are anti-Bush. They are not all Democrats. Some are directly opposed to the Democrats, but are also opposed to Bush.

This I think, is the value of the 527. It allows non-standard groups of people to fund together for or against something. The fact that many people found common cause to fund against Bush seems entirely valid to me, and is an example of where 527s did what they were supposed to do.
Thursday, 27 January 2005 22:06:56 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
http://www.opensecrets.org/527s/527cmtes.asp?level=C&cycle=2004
"527 groups are tax-exempt organizations that engage in political activities, often through unlimited soft money contributions."

No argument there...the difference is how we interpret that definition. Of course they engage in political activities. Issues are political. Issue advocacy is a political activity...don't see how this proves your point above mine.

"Here they list the various adds taken out by MoveOn.org. You will note that every ad criticizes Bush."

You don't have to be involved in a political campaign to critisize President Bush. I do it all the time, and I'm not involved in any campaign. If someone gave me money to do it on T.V....that still doesn't mean I'm working for Kerry. The problem comes in if someone working for Kerry gives me the money and tells me what to say. If five million people who don't work for John Kerry give me $5.00 each to say what I think because they think it too...that's not campaining...that's issue advocacy. They can even tell me what they want me to say. It only becomes campaigning for John Kerry if John Kerry or his campaign or his party tell me what to say and/or give me money and/or a venue to say it in. Otherwise it's me saying what's on my mind, and the minds of the people who have chosen me for a spokesperson...as is their right under our consitution.

"The Sierra Club, League of Women Voters and Clear Water Action are fine organizations that were around much longer than the 527 loophole."

Yes, and it was organizations like them, and their memberships who said "wait a minute, we need a provision where we can still accept donations and advocate for our membership...the campaign finance reform bill could be read to restrict our activities. So they got the 527 exception, and they are now 527 organizations. You can't say they aren't just because they were around before the finance reform bill. Further...how can you possibly say that the League of Women Voters wasn't founded for political purposes? It's all about politics...and issues,and votes???


"As an aside, I used to be a Sierra Club member. I just wish they would get out of politics and return to focusing on conservation but that's another story."

Another story is right...from a galexy far, far away... :-)
I don't know if you've noticed...but conservation is a political issue. Oil, logging, development, water, land use...all political, and all tied to environmental policy. Asking an environmental advocacy group to abandon politics would be like asking Bobby Fisher to win a chess game using only the black squares. Lunacy.

"Presumably, with the previous "limits" on contributions, we were led to believe that allowing unlimited contributions is bad. The 527's are something of an experiment that defies that logic."

Unlimited contributions by individuals to politicians that cannot help but have an influence on their actions as the people's representatives was considered bad. 1 million dollars from Donald Trump to a single politician would be bad (because influence is being purchased and the people defrauded). One million people giving one dollar to an organization that disseminates their view of an issue, and exposes the record of a candidate hostile to that view is not bad, because no candidate is being given the money, and any gratitude that the opponant might have for the help is disseminated to 1 million people he's supposed to be representing anyway.

It only defies logic if you assume that delibertly and flagrantly violating the system and lying is something that will become the standard behavior, and cannot be controlled by civil action. Should that be the case...there is no system that can be designed to work. The flaw would not be in the system, but in the populace.

"What worries me about the 527s is that they smell like a lobby."

That is true...they are a lobby...they lobby the voters, which is where the lobby should be. Instead of trying to influence the politicians (other than pointing out to them where the votes are), they are chasing after the voters. Isn't that where the power should lie? Isn't that who should be courted?

I still don't get how you can think it's a bad idea for people who care about an issue to get together, pool their money and resources and try to convince other people to care about what they care about. I don't understand how it's a corrupting influence for politicians to be influenced by 527's when what they are influenced by is the opinions and votes of the people who they are supposed to represent in the first place.
kemaris
Friday, 28 January 2005 07:00:53 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Rocky said:
>Suggesting that MoveOn.org is in the pocket of the Democratic party because the organization is pure anti-Bush doesn't follow. That is correlation, not causation.

Yep. Nailed it. And I have a sneaking suspicion that he knows that. But it's one of those arguments that, if you keep repeating it often enough, you can roll out smoothly enough to fool someone who isn't paying attention. That what Thomas is doing here. Practicing.


>The fact that many people found common cause to fund against Bush seems entirely valid to me, and is an example of where 527s did what they were supposed to do.

Which is exactly the problem that certain people have with them.

Thomas said:
>I stand by what I said. 527s, on both sides of the ailse, are thinly veiled money (and propaganda) machines for the parties. MoveOn.org was simply an example. I have no doubt that there are similar ones on the Republican side (Swift Boats comes to mind).

And he sticks by that claim even after it's been run through with a sword and left twitching and bleeding on the cobblestones. He has to; it's the the thesis he's committed to advancing, regardless of the facts.
Note that the above is the first and only time he mentions a right-wing 527, and only in passing; the rest of his comments are devoted specifically to MoveOn.org, apparently because -

>the various adds taken out by MoveOn.org. You will note that every ad criticizes Bush.

- of that. Not exactly subtle, is he?

Kemaris wrote:
>I would be interested to see any proof that you have of money or directives being exchanged between a 527 organization, and any campaign comittee, candidate, or party...because that is illegal, and if it could be proved, people would be in a lot of trouble.

Which Thomas was unable to do. The links he provided merely demonstrated that people and organizations which support progressive causes quite understandably work against those who don't support progressive causes. As in the case of the Sierra Club, which he specifically stated that he left because of its political activity.

He labels hiumself an "idealist" and talks about integrity, but deliberately twists and distotrs the words of both Kemaris and Illiante until he's able to cticize them - for things they never even said. He keeps speaking of logic... while refusing to actually use any. He says-

>Thinking that 527s are supposed to be “voter and issue advocacy organizations” is utterly naïve. To say that MoveOn.org was an advocacy group for example, and not a thinly veiled money channel for the Democrats is blind. I suppose that 527s keep the sheep happy.


It’s true that some groups organized under the 527 rule at the direct behest of (mostly Bush) campaign directors… and were extremely unsubtle about it, and got caught red-handed. The Swift Boat group to whom Thomas gave a reluctant nod for the sake of not appearing partisan, for example, was almost comical.

But MoveOn.org, America Coming Together, DemocracyNow, and so many others… just cogs in the Great Democratic Party Conspiracy Machine? Seriously?

Thomas, while you were out the Illuminati called. They said to tell you that they’ll pick you up at the Hollywood soundstages where the Apollo moon landings were faked, and then re-convene at the secret alien bunker under Area 51.

Asshat.
Friday, 28 January 2005 07:19:48 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Rick,

You know I love you, right? You know I'd take a bullet for you any day of the week...right? (weekends are out...I need to be able to go to class and kick ass on weekends, and I can't do that with a bullet in me) OK...just so we're clear.

But I gotta say, you did a prefectly fine job addressing Thomas without the last paragraph of non-related condescention, and without calling him an asshat. That last bit was unecessary, and unworthy of you.

Trees

kemaris
Friday, 28 January 2005 10:08:04 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
>That last bit was unecessary, and unworthy of you.

You're right, Trees. Right after I hit the post button, I frowned at the screen and debated with myself if that last word fit at all. But, it was done and there was no option to re-edit, so I had to let it stand.
I did fan the flames, when I should simply have kept pissing on them. And for that I owe you and Rocky an apology.
Friday, 28 January 2005 20:07:47 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
To be honest, I’m not sure I understand the vehemence of the responses. I could sink to that level by saying all kinds of disparaging remarks but I would think that it would not be constructive. If, rather than a constructive discourse, you would rather degenerate into a flame war, say so. Otherwise, I think everyone needs to chill a bit. I’m not attacking any one personally or even your beliefs for that matter however the same is clearly not true. If you somehow believe that I am attacking, it is not my intention. I would also suggest that continuing to attack a style of discussion rather than the content is not constructive.


>Suggesting that MoveOn.org is in the pocket of the Democratic party because
>the organization is pure anti-Bush doesn't follow. That is correlation, not causation.

I don’t think it is that simple. Let me see if I understand your premise. I’ll assume that you mean that the 527’s message coincidently matches those of the candidates (thus correlation) and further that you are implying that the Democratic party is not directly driving the message put out by the 527s (thus not causation). That premise is true if we only look at the law. However, politics is not that simple. Indirect influence changes the equation. For example, the candidates know that if they put out a press release that essentially outlines an attack on a candidate that the like-minded 527s will put out the ads for them. So, what we have is a group of organizations that have great leeway to put out political ads being heavily influenced by the candidates. Where do we draw the line between influencing the ads (causation) and coincidence (correlation)?

It is the 527’s potential for coercion that should be of concern. Any group that can provide as much benefit as they did to the candidates in this past election will be able to exert tremendous political pressure on the candidates. If you think the 527s are purely about voter issues that might sound great. But you think they are ripe for corruption as I do, you should be concerned.

To be honest, I find both parties distasteful and utterly corrupt. Both Bush and Kerry were guilty of using the 527s (I would argue *directing* but that’s under debate) in the course of their campaigns. I might believe that 527s are for the greater good if they found a way to put someone other than a Democrat or Republican in the White House.
Saturday, 29 January 2005 01:02:36 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Thomas,

It's actually your style of discussion that is causing the vehemence. The fact that you consistantly mischaracterize, redirect, and redefine the discussion (including mischaracterizing the statements and opinions of the people you are arguing with) causes frustration. It has the effect of making you appear to be either dishonest or thoughtless.

Also, we have had a couple of discussions thus far, and in at least one, you took us through a long, rambling argument where you constantly argued that Rocky's original assertion was fundimentally flawed...after pages and pages of argument across two seperate blogs, you concluded the argument by saying that you actually went and read the article referenced in Rocky's original post, and came to a conclusion that was essentially a summary of his original position (due to your "discovery" of facts that were clearly and repeatedly referanced in the blog entry, and in the subsequent discussion)...and you did so with no hint that you understood the irony of the situation. Then you added on an ideological addendum that actually had only tangental relation to the original entry. It would not take an unreasonable person to assume that this is the idea you wanted to advance all along...no matter how winding the path you had to take to get from the discussion of the blog entry to your pet theory.

This can make you appear to be thoughtlessly argumentative, a troll, or an opportunistic partisan hack who doesn't know how to set up his own blog.

In a second argument, you replied to an entry in my blog where you took one sentence out of context (and I might add that the context was carefully defined to make absolutly clear the intended meaning of the sentance), defined it as being something directly opposite of what it was intended to mean, and then proceeded to have the discussion you wanted to have, rather than the one that was actually underway. This makes you appear to be thoughtless and rude. If you have an idea that you want to advance, start your own conversations in your own blog rather than hijacking the blogs of others.

I guess the point of all of this, is that your "discourse" so far has not really proved to be very "constructive". While you claim to not be attacking anyone's beliefs, you certainly violate them flagrently, either through carelessness or malice, it is difficult to tell which. Especially when you make very controversial statements without any sort of attempt to support them in a disciplined and credible fashion, and fail to address key flaws pointed out to you in any way that necessarily follows from your argument.

Nobody here wants a flame war (I am assuming that you do not wish to start a flame war)...but some of your conversational foibles make it difficult to believe that you are not actively trying to provoke the responses that you have received.

The problem is not so much that you disagree with anyone here...as there are many areas of disagreement between people here who manage to get along without fighting. The problem is that your conversational style is directly antithetical to constructive discourse...and so persistantly so as to cause irritation and frustration.

kemaris
Saturday, 29 January 2005 12:31:55 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
If that is how you feel, then clearly we are still having difficulty understanding each other.

I find your analysis of the first discussion incorrect. It is obvious you never really understood my primary point about abuse of religion as a legal shield. Instead examples and hyperbole meant to provide simple illustrations of how people might abuse the system were analyzed in a vacuum and taken as straw man arguments. My desire to cease talking to a wall (in reference to the discussion, not a person) was obviously taken as some sort of acquiesce of someone’s point and that would also be incorrect.

In the second argument, the sentence in question was a rhetorical question. I did not “take it out of context” but rather attempted to give you a possible answer that fit within the confines of your point. In essence it was a separate topic altogether that related to the heart of the original post. That you took my response as disagreeing with you was a clear indication that you did not understand the purpose and content of my responses. That it took as long as it did for you to understand that I was not disagreeing with you was an indication that we are still having difficulty understanding each other.

It seems that people are taking pure disagreement and a little sarcasm as a “flagrant violation of their beliefs.” If this sort of walking on egg shells is truly necessary to keep people from going into conniptions, I’m not sure those in question are truly prepared for opposing points of view. Anything too far outside someone’s comfort zone will be treated with contempt.

My style only appears to be controversial to the people in this blog. I have had many discussions in many forms with people that had diametrically opposed points of view to mine and have not had the same sorts of misinterpretation problems I have had here. Most of the respondents do not seem to be able to comment to a retort without taking it has some sort of personal attack.

Start: remark-rant-blatant personal attack-flame war start and end
Since it is clear that this is the case and I have better things to do, I’ll permanently close my contributions to this blog with a few biting remarks as most everyone else has done the same at my expense. This will hurt some people’s feeling so they should be prepared with their meds.

What I see in this blog are five types of respondents

The first is the short but insightful poster. This person provides brief poignant comments which make everyone think about the topic at hand. I’ll simply state outright that this would be Rocky. None of his posts have been personal attacks nor has he interpreted any responses as such.

The next type of respondent is the Peter Pettigrew type. They provide no meaningful or unique ideas of their own, but instead rehash the arguments of those they look up to in the hopes of getting respect and acceptance. The winner of this dubious honor would be Rick. The entirety of his responses have been personal attacks or are purely emotional responses on out of context elements of my response. My advice to Rick comes from Steve Martin’s character in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”: “Here’s an idea. Have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener.” Apparently, the vacuousness of space between his choruses of drums is only matched dullness of his wit as evidenced by his recent crafty retort. Good job Rick. It is everything I have come to expect from you.

The next type of respondent is the Lurker who occasionally pops in the thread, drops a comment or two and is not to be seen again. They never really engage in lengthy discussions and for that reason they may be the smartest of us all.

The next can best be described as swamp king’s guards in The Holy Grail. After numerous explanations as to their job of staying and ensuring the prince does not leave, they instead leave with the king.

Lastly we have the Galileo type (hey, it’s my rant). This is the person crazy enough to introduce a controversial idea into the rabble only to be persecuted for doing so.

I’m sure that there will be numerous witty flames from Rick (I can hardly wait for Yo’ Mama remarks) and from Kemaris about how it must be me that is all of the types mentioned as it couldn’t possibly be anyone else and that how could I brand her as a Lurker (I’m not). I’m sure that the blog will be regaled with clever rebukes like “asshat” in light of how wonderful it is that any dissenting ideas are now gone and that you can return to intelligent endorsement of your existing ideas. Alas, while wronged I did revenge, you scintillating discourse will fall on deaf ears.

I bid you all adieu.
End: remark-rant-blatant personal attack-flame war start and end
Saturday, 29 January 2005 12:44:32 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
>To be honest, I’m not sure I understand the vehemence of the responses. I could sink to that level by saying all kinds of disparaging remarks but I would think that it would not be constructive. If, rather than a constructive discourse, you would rather degenerate into a flame war, say so. Otherwise, I think everyone needs to chill a bit. I’m not attacking any one personally or even your beliefs for that matter however the same is clearly not true. If you somehow believe that I am attacking, it is not my intention. I would also suggest that continuing to attack a style of discussion rather than the content is not constructive.



Pot. Kettle. Black. Any questions?

You're a lying hypocritical troll, Thomas. You are not fooling anyone.

The statement quoted above is exactly the cue needed to point back at every comment you've ever posted, thus revealing a consistent and deliberate pattern of misdirection, evasion, illogic, selective use of evidence (or just flat-out ignoring evidence), and transparently false protests of innocence. I've argued with Creationists who demonstrated a firmer grasp of logic and stronger commitment to rational discourse than you. And that's a hell of a bizarre thing to hear myself say.

You are, from what I've seen so far, a reasonably good writer. This, too, convicts you, as it is ridiculously easy to figure out that if you had meant something other than things you've said, you would have SAID something other than the things you've said. As I noted above, you're not fooling anyone.

You are in an environment, on these blogs, full of people who are thoughtful, honest, sincere, and completely straightforward in everything they say to each other and do with each other, both online and in real life, regardless of our agreements or disagreements. Every time you've sat at your keyboard to make a comment has been an opportunity to join with us in that same spirit. And every time, you've chosen instead to be an arrogant, condescending, self-important, dishonest, manipulative troll. And have been quite blatant about it, which makes your hands-in-the-air protests of "Oh, I don't understand why everyone seems irritated with me. Why can't you all see that I am pure and have only the best of intentions?" absolutely laughable.

You've had your opportunities. And you've made your intention and methodology unmistakably clear. Over and over and over again.










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