Sunday, August 31, 2008

Palin's Sloppy Scholarship 2.0

In 2006, when she was running for governor of Alaska, Gov. Palin answered a questionnaire that included the question, "Are you offended by the phrase 'Under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?" Her answer:
Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.
Unless we are expanding the definition of "Founding Fathers" to include Eisenhower, I'm going to have to protest. 

Related: See these posts for discussion of the addition of "so help me, God" to the Presidential oath.

51 comments:

Brad Hart said...

HA! Priceless!

Tom Van Dyke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Van Dyke said...

You're technically correct, Ms. Hopkins, [technical error in my above deleted post], but the concept of God was plenty good enough for our Founding Fathers.

Scholarly demerits for Gov. Palin for not knowing that "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance only goes back to Eisenhower, but "In God We Trust" on our currency goes back to 1864.

I have to admit I'm not enjoying these potshots at Sarah Palin around here lately. There are reasons to vote against a candidate, but most are just excuses. I'm not interested in the latter. To tell you the truth, I'm quite alarmed at Barack Obama's quote that

"We're going to keep on praising together. I am confident that we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth."

Similar religious crap lost Rev. Mike Huckabee my vote in the GOP primary. Obama's mutation of the gospels into collectivism and "social justice" give me the willies, OK? This is not an excuse, it's a reason. I like the guy and think a black president would theoretically be the best thing for America and maybe the world. I'd vote for him if I could.

The notion of a Kingdom of Heaven on Earth scares the bejesus out of me, and if I thought Dubya Bush ever actually believed that, I'd have voted for those twits Gore and Kerry. But still, I haven't called Obama out in any substantial way on the relgion issue..

similarly, I'm unconvinced Gov. Palin poses any threat of instituting a theocracy, and unless somebody around here wants to argue that she does---with a straight face---I beg we keep a sense of proportion.

bpabbott said...

Dan: "You're technically correct, Ms. Hopkins, [technical error in my above deleted post], but the concept of God was plenty good enough for our Founding Fathers."

sigh :-(

No one is disputing the faith of the founders.

The point respects Palin's knowledge of our history and values the liberties the founders helped secure from government intrusion.

We might digress to the question as to whether or not the pledge with the disputed religious content is consistent with the founders views on liberty, but none of that has anything to do with the founders faith.

bpabbott said...

Tom, my sincerest apologies.

I totally goofed on your name :-(

Pinky said...

Was that one of those Freudian slips?

Dave2 said...

An official state loyalty oath recited by children is one of the most disgusting black eyes on the face of the United States (even more so if you look into the ugly ugly ugly history of the Pledge), and to attribute it to the Founders is a shocking insult.

Dan Atkinson said...

More of the same. More of the same. More of the same. So what! So Palin is not a history expert like you all claim to be. Her heart is still in the right place, which is the only thing that matters.

Pinky said...

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There's just too much material here to comment on Dan's latest post.
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But, comedians are going to have a great time with these two and the Holy Republican Party.
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Caitlin GD Hopkins said...

Wow. Calm down, Dan. I saw "Vice Presidential Candidate" and "Founding Fathers" in the same news story and pointed to it from a blog that is about how modern Americans (and our leaders) understand the Founding Fathers. I just thought you'd all be interested.

Pinky said...

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Interesting blog, Cat.
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How does anyone think Palin will handle the inevitable question about a woman's place in the home, church, and in society?
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Pinky said...

See the Bible, Titus 2:1-5

bpabbott said...

Dan: " So what! So Palin is not a history expert like you all claim to be. Her heart is still in the right place, which is the only thing that matters."

sigh ... how does it go; "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." ?

The question is to whether of not Palin is qualified to be *President*. If her understanding of our Nation's founding is so lacking, is she qualified to lead it?

What is more important? Following the ideology of our Nation's foundations, or that of her Party?

bpabbott said...

Regarding the Pledge of Allegiance, apparently in 1945 the original version was embraced ...

Check out this video on YouTube.

The founders' had envisioned no "Pledge of Allegiance", much less one with a desire to unite and divide/exclude :-(

There are many agnostics/theists/non-monotheists who would like to proudly stand and pledge their allegiance to your nation, but are required to chose between the love for the principles of (1) remaining loyal to our Nation or (2) the liberty supposedly protected by our Constitution.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Whoa, Ben, I think Palin's understanding of the Founding is largely accurate, although I acknowledge the quibbles. I think Palin's understanding is far more accurate than many smart folks I know [present company excepted] who believe the Founding was militantantly secular, and that the Founders were Deists.

As for the Pledge, "under God" was put in as a response to the godless Commies who wanted to rule the world and erase God.

As a conservative, I'd be against adding it these days [it would be impossible anyway], but against getting rid of it, just as I would oppose creating 50 million "green" jobs to scratch "In God We Trust" off all our money.

Dave2 said...

Tom van Dyke wrote:
As for the Pledge, "under God" was put in as a response to the godless Commies who wanted to rule the world and erase God.

You say this like it's a good thing.

Go and read Reverend Docherty's sermon "A New Birth of Freedom", the one that had such an impact on the movement to add "under God" to the Pledge. In this sermon, Docherty explicitly says that what makes the USA great, and what separates the USA from the USSR isn't its politics or its economics (not Jefferson and Smith versus Lenin and Marx), but its theological commitments. And as for the conflict between the US and the USSR: "It is not simply man’s inhumanity to man. It is Armageddon, a battle of the gods. It is the view of man as it comes down to from Judaio-Christian civilization in mortal combat against modern, secularized, godless humanity."

You might think to yourself, "Wow, is Docherty just unaware of American nonbelievers who believe in human rights, constitutional republicanism, and an open economy?" No, he's not unaware. He just thinks that "[p]hilosophically speaking, an atheistic American is a contradiction in terms" and that such atheists, however nice they may be, are "spiritual parasites".

This is just foul, odious stuff. Consider all the atheists in, say, communist Czechoslovakia who so strongly admired the principles of the USA and dreamed of a life of freedom. By Docherty's lights, those people are inferiors, and they can never be Americans, simply because they don't buy into the same theological garbage he does. And presumably the same goes for Hindus and Shintoists and Buddhists with radically different theologies. This is reducing the American dream to petty sectarianism.

In fairness, I should point out that Francis Bellamy -- the man who wrote the original Pledge of Allegiance -- would have no problem treating the good people of Czechoslovakia as inferiors. He thought that the new immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe were lowly serfs and needed to be relentlessly "Americanized" from childhood, lest they taint "the quality of [our] blood".

Tom Van Dyke said...

You say this like it's a good thing.

I say it like it's a fact, Dave.

Do I think America's religious ethos, particularly the Judeo-Christian one, made and makes it a bulwark against a "modern, secularized, godless humanity" that must eventually dehumanize man?

Damn right I do. See "Brave New World," if Orwell seems too quaintly out of date for you.

As Richard Price wrote, if you followed the recent discussions around here:

"When Christianity, that first and best of all the means of human improvement, was first preached it was charged with turning the world upside down."

Do I think that an atheistic, philosophical movement can or could have the same impact? Not at this point, no. In fact, I see what CS Lewis called "The Abolition of Man."

That said, pls see my remarks above on "under God" in toto. I do not believe the greater pluralism of 21st century America requires erasing all traces of the American ethos, is all.

Dave2 said...

First, do you agree with Docherty that what makes the USA great is its theology (as opposed to its freedoms), and that nonbelievers can never be true Americans? Because those seem to be the key tenets of his sermon and of the cultural forces that led to adding "under God" to the Pledge. And those are the tenets that most fill me with disgust.

Next, I don't see why you think a secular trend in human societies must eventually dehumanize man, and I fail to see how an Aldous Huxley novel could ever settle this issue (no matter how well-written it is). Do you see a shift towards dehumanization in secular societies like Sweden, Japan, the Czech Republic, or Estonia?

And, if I'm not mistaken, you're badly misunderstanding the Richard Price quote. What Price is arguing in that passage is that free and open discussion of religious matters should be protected, and that most of the social upheaval brought about by new religious movements is not the result of the movements themselves but rather of the attempt to suppress them.

So the "turning the world upside down" he refers to is not a good thing. He's talking about the "violence and slaughter" that results from what he sees as "the misapplication of the powers of government".

And so when you ask "Do I think that an atheistic, philosophical movement can or could have the same impact?" you're unwittingly referring to violence and slaughter. And with Marxism, we see that "an atheistic, philosophical movement" can indeed have a horrifying and bloody impact, just like Christianity did.

And if we want to uphold the American ethos, why stop at treating nonbelievers like inferiors? Why not also treat Catholics like inferiors? After all, the United States has traditionally been a deeply anti-Catholic nation. Why accept one tradition and reject the other?

bpabbott said...

Tom: "As for the Pledge, "under God" was put in as a response to the godless Commies who wanted to rule the world and erase God."

I have very close Russian friends who think religion is silly but are happy to acknowledge that it was not under attack by the communist party (after the revolution).

The idea that "Commies wanted erase God" was mostly propaganda for the west. The debate should have been with regards to liberty.

Regarding Palin, I decided to read more broadly on the subject (she is still rather unknown and thus largely unknowable for me ... unless you're looking for family indiscretions).

It does appear some of my usual sources have painted her with the colors of their fears and insecurities. See this short post which appears to be fair and balanced ... what ever happened to "fair and balanced"?

Pinky said...

Nailing The Problems To The Door
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It looks like you two have nailed the crux of the matter.
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It's pretty much what Claes Ryn deals with in the book I'm reading.
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http://www.alibris.com/booksearch?qwork=7796878&matches=2&author=Ryn%2C+Claes&browse=1&cm_sp=works*listing*cover
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Dave2 said...

bpabbott, maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but there certainly was an attempt by the Communists in Russia to destroy the Church. They arrested and executed lots of priests and bishops in the early '20s, and several enormous cathedrals throughout the Soviet Union were destroyed in the '30s (I think the most famous example was the 1931 demolition of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow).

Eric Alan Isaacson said...

For the record:

The Pledge of Allegiance has nothing to do with the Founders.

It first appeared in the September 8, 1892, issue of The Youth’s Companion, a widely circulated popular magazine of that day, and was intended for use in public-school celebrations commemorating the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s “discovery” of the Americas. These celebrations were part of James B. Upham’s sales and marketing program for the magazine.

The original “Youth’s Companion Pledge” contained no reference to God, and the original publication included no attribution of authorship. The pledge read: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

In the 1920s, the National Flag Conference announced that “my flag” should be replaced with “the Flag of the United States of America,” for fear that immigrant children might imagine another flag when they recited the words “my flag.”

Only after the Youth’s Companion Pledge became a part of America’s popular culture did Francis Bellamy, a failed Baptist minister who had been in The Youth’s Companion’s employ in 1892, step up to claim authorship. Bellamy, who had wound up in a career as an insurance salesman, apparently hoped to cash in on the immensely popular Youth’s Companion Pledge. The Youth’s Companion, however, publicly denied Bellamy’s claims of authorship. According to the magazine, James B. Upham should receive credit for the Pledge.

A tribunal of the U.S. Flag Association purported to determine, in 1939, that Bellamy was the Pledge’s true author – but its proceedings are highly suspect. The supposed advocate for Upham’s authorship, Margerette Miller, made a weak case – and then spent the rest of her life promoting the notion that Bellamy wrote the Pledge. A subsequent 1957 inquiry by an employee of the Library of Congress merely rubber-stamped the Flag Association’s suspect 1939 conclusions.

Although Louise Harris vigorously argued the case for Upham’s authorship in her “Flag Over the Schoolhouse” books, Magarette Miller was by far the better writer and publicist, and today authorship is generally – and I suspect erroneously – attributed to Bellamy. In truth, I think we shall never really know who at The Youth’s Companionwrote the Pledge of Allegiance.

We do know that the Pledge, even in its original form, was NOT conceived by America’s Founders. It originated as part of a popular magazine’s marketing program in the fall of 1892. And even then, it contained no reference at all to God.

The phrase “under God” was not added until 1954, when the United States government seized what had become a part of American popular culture and – by force of law – added a religious affirmation to the Youth’s Companion Pledge.

Eric Alan Isaacson

Pinky said...

But, the pledge of allegiance is to "the Republic" for which the flag is a symbol.
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hmmmmm

Dave2 said...

pinky, what are the first six words of the Pledge again?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thx for your response, dave2. I'll provide responses in the coming months, as it's all a part of a larger thesis. I'm not saying the stupider things you attribute to me.

In the meantime, pls google "Richard Rorty" and "freeloading atheists." You may find him "odious" too, but as he was an atheist [and a scholar] himself, perhaps he's worth a hearing.

Eric Alan Isaacson said...

The first six words of the current Pledge are "I pledge allegiance to the Flag" – which helps to explain why the Jehovah's Witnesses regard reciting the Pledge as an act of idolatry equivalent to bowing down before a Golden Calf (see Exodus 32).

For this they were subject to vicious persecution in the 1940s, with Jehovah’s Witness children expelled from public schools for their religious scruples, and their parents prosecuted for contributing to the delinquency of minors.

The United States Supreme Court initially upheld the expulsion of Jehovah’s Witness children from the public schools in its 1940 decision of Minersville School District v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586 (1940).

The consequences were horrifying. Reports of the Supreme Court’s ruling inspired waves of violence – across the United States, Jehovah’s Witnesses were assaulted and tortured, and their meeting halls burned.

Then, in 1943, the Supreme Court overruled Gobitis, holding in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), that children do have a constitutional right not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote for the Court: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.”

If only Sarah Palin knew a little history!

bpabbott said...

Tom,

I don't think you're going to find any of the commenters here receptive to the position held by Richard Rorty.

Rorty holds humanity in very low esteem.

Pinky said...

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"And to the Republic for Which It Stands"
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Question to Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”

“A Republic, if you can keep it.”
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Are we a Republic or not?

Eric Alan Isaacson said...

I'd say we have a Republic rather than a Monarchy, Pinky, no matter what Dick Cheney and the "Unitary Executive" neocons may think. What's your point?

Pinky said...

I'm sure that we have a republic, Alan.
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But, there's an awful lot of talk that we are a democracy instead of a republic.
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As long as we're going to be so concerned about keeping a god in the pledge, it seems like we might be a little more so about the idea of what we mean by saying a republic. Why don't we say, "And to the democracy for which it stands?"
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I don't know that including a god in the pledge means that it means that god is the one we find in the Bible. But, there is quite a difference between a republic and a democracy.
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I think the Founders were very interested in the concept of a republic. I mean if we're going to be such originalists.
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Eric Alan Isaacson said...

The Pledge says "and to the Republic for which it stands" because that's how the editors of The Youth's Companion wrote it for their public-school Columbus Day proceedings in 1892.

They undoubtedly were more sophisticated than Sarah Palin is, but their goals (and words) cannot be attributed America's founding era.

Dave2 said...

pinky, I don't know if "[a]nd to the Republic for Which It Stands" was your response to my question "what are the first six words of the Pledge again?" But if so, I hope you can see that your answer is flawed in more than one way.

In any case, my point was just that, despite what you said above, the loyalty oath known as "The Pledge of Allegiance" does indeed call for allegiance to a flag.

Dave2 said...

Tom van Dyke wrote:
Thx for your response, dave2. I'll provide responses in the coming months, as it's all a part of a larger thesis. I'm not saying the stupider things you attribute to me.

Please note that I held off from attributing to you the worst of the worst (that what makes the USA great isn't its freedoms but its theology, and that nonbelievers can never be true Americans). I've been operating from the assumption that no one in this discussion could honestly agree with the loathsome sentiments of Reverend Docherty's sermon.

In the meantime, pls google "Richard Rorty" and "freeloading atheists." You may find him "odious" too, but as he was an atheist [and a scholar] himself, perhaps he's worth a hearing.

First, I never said believers weren't worth a hearing. Anyone's worth a hearing who has some good points backed up by good reasons. But I confess I do find Rorty pretty odious in many ways. Often I suspect that Rorty is much more interested in saying something provocative than in getting at the truth (or whatever's left of truth once he and his neopragmatist droogs are through with it).

And no matter what I thought of Rorty, hearing his opinion would have about zero impact on my opinion. I would need to hear the reasons for his opinion, to see if they were any good. After all, these ethical and political issues aren't exactly the kind where there are recognized experts we laymen can simply defer to.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Dave2---I explicitly wrote that Richard Rorty was an atheist, not a "believer," which you represented him to be [and therefore to be ignored]. You even quoted me [thank you] but you seem to have not read what I wrote.

And obviously, you didn't google either, as you made no reference to "freeloading atheists," which Rorty confesses to be, and he gives his reasons.

I'm not here to fight. Your opinions and emotions about Rorty, or what is "odious" or "loathsome" are what are of zero importance.

I do find your coinage [original?] of "neopragmatist droogs" amusing, but poisonous to fruitful discussion.

You seem to be an intelligent fellow, Dave2. Perhaps you'll consider cleansing your rhetoric of pejorative language, discussing things on an even keel, and while you're at it, re-registering under your real name to comment here. We like that, if only for civility's sake.

See, I'm not interested in exchanging insults with the crowd. The crowd always wins. That's why the Founders preferred a republic to a democracy.

;-[D>

Pinky said...

I guess my point was about being picky. Not important.

Dave2 said...

Tom van Dyke, you've seriously misunderstood me. But I think it goes back to my misunderstanding you, so we're probably square.

I've known a fair amount about Rorty for a long time, and I would never have said (or even insinuated) that Rorty was a believer. But when I read your "as he was an atheist [and a scholar] himself, perhaps he's worth a hearing", I thought you were insinuating that I was so bigoted that I would only listen to people who were nonbelievers. This is why I insisted that I am perfectly willing to listen to believers, not because I ever thought Rorty was a believer. But in fact, I now see upon rereading your post, you were only suggesting (something like) that if an atheist holds the view that atheists are freeloaders or parasites, then this person is more-or-less above suspicion when it comes to theological bias, and so perhaps worth a hearing for that reason. I concede the point, apologize for the misunderstanding, and insist that I won't be impressed by Rorty's opinion until I see some reasons for taking it seriously.

Also, when I offer a judgment as to what is odious or loathsome, I am not insulting anyone or giving vent to raw emotion. I am making a moral judgment.

And as for using a pseudonym instead of my real name, I have this to say: "If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me".

Dave2 said...

pinky wrote:
I guess my point was about being picky. Not important.

I think you'll find that a lot of Jehovah's Witnesses are willing to be pretty picky when it comes to idolatry.

Pinky said...

My pickiness was about the use of God in the pledge regarding the disrespect for Republic in America.

Not important to the blog.

Brian Tubbs said...

Is this blog about "American Creation" or bashing Republicans? I'm curious, because there have been several anti-Palin and anti-McCain shots taken here, and it's getting tiresome.

What people say in the "comments" is one thing. Folks can be as partisan as they want there. But let's keep the official blog posts non-partisan. That's my two cents.

Raven said...

Oh Brian, quit your whining. This is fair game. After all, Palin is the idiot that opened her mouth like this. Had Obama or Biden done the same the title would read "Obama's Sloppy Scholarship."

I'm tired of whiney Republicans who cannot stand it when their candidate is attacked.

Pinky said...

Hah!
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I just now was watching Republican Sen Hatch on tv complaining that people attack Palin.
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What was it Harry Truman used to say about heat in the kitchen?
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Brian Tubbs said...

Raven, I believe I made clear that people can (as far as I'm concerned) say whatever they want and/or attack whoever they want in the "comments."

But...when it comes to official blog posts, I have to wonder if a couple of our official blog contributors are using "American Creation" as a platform to advance the Democratic Party ticket for 2008. That's how it seems to me.

Now, if that's the case (and everyone is okay with that), then okay. At least we know where things stand, and all contributors should thus feel free to be as partisan as they'd like.

Brad Hart said...

Don't worry about it, Brian. It's just Raven YET AGAIN venting smoke, which is what he is best at.

BTW, good to see you again. Where have you been?

As for the political stuff on this blog, I guess it is inevitable during an election year. People will always attack the party they hate. That's why I LOVE being an Independent. I get to just sit by and watch as partisan attacks go flying by. If you ask me, both sides seem pretty ridiculous during election years.

Pinky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pinky said...

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I don't see how we can study our history without the development of drives to understand and talk about where we are today.

I think it is appropriate for individuals to express their present day sensitivities regarding politics and religion--especially in America where the subjects have been so closely related since our beginnings. So, to me, it is appropriate that Raven has made these comments.

"Historical science and culture in all its detailed elaboration exists for the purpose of maintaining and developing the active and civilized life of human society." Benedetto Croce

bpabbott said...

Brian: "But...when it comes to official blog posts, I have to wonder if a couple of our official blog contributors are using "American Creation" as a platform to advance the Democratic Party ticket for 2008. That's how it seems to me."

Critique of one individual is not proof of favoring another.

Your words above could just as easily be construed as an endorsement of the GOP candidates.

Brian Tubbs said...

In the comments section, Ben, I have no problem making it known that I plan to vote for McCain / Palin. But I would not say that in an official post, and if I were to critique Obama in a post, I would do so in a way that's respectful and balanced.

Now, that's just me. I think that the official American Creation blogs should be grounded in early American history and should be as non-partisan as possible. I have no problem tying them into the present. In fact, I think that's good and helps build readership.

But, there is a decided and very obvious left-wing tilt to this blog - and many of the contributors have made their sentiments pretty clear in their official posts.

Now again, I see a distinction between official posts and comments. In the comments, I have no problem with partisanship. In the posts, I think there should be a higher standard.

That's just me, though. And I'm apparently in the minority.

Brian Tubbs said...

Pink, I agree with you 100%, especially as your remarks deal with the comments section. I'm talking about the official blog posts.

But, again, it doesn't matter at this point. I'm obviously in the minority on this, so that's fine.

bpabbott said...

Brian: "But, there is a decided and very obvious left-wing tilt to this blog - and many of the contributors have made their sentiments pretty clear in their official posts."

That many are left of your does not mean it is tilted ... perhaps its just you?

Personally, I don't see anyone here particularly far left ... or perhaps we have different view of what "left" means?

Brian Tubbs said...

I didn't say the blog was "far left." I said it had a left-wing tilt.

bpabbott said...

Juvenile semantics ... imo.